Words are powerful, and we each have a unique voice and a story to tell. Tony Taylor, owner of Speak University and co-founder of the Leaders Lead podcast, has set out on a mission to help fellow entrepreneurs and professionals find their voice and discover the confidence to share it with the world. As a new board member for the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) Board of Directors, he is eager to support their efforts to strengthen small and large businesses in Washington so they too can ignite their passions in life.

Tony Taylor standing headshot
Tony joined the Thurston EDC Board in 2022 and is excited at the opportunities that lie ahead. His vision is to spread the message of the EDC to help bring essential resources to fellow business owners. Photo courtesy: Tony Taylor

Thurston EDC Board Member Turns Fear of Public Speaking into Passion

Tony wasn’t always a renowned and polished public speaker. For many years, he feared the spotlight and would dread public presentations throughout his early career. “It was so bad to the point that I would sweat right before meetings because of social anxiety,” Tony recalls. “I finally realized I had a lot to say, and it wouldn’t do me any good keeping it in my head.” For Tony, it was about overcoming this fear for the greater good and bringing important ideas and conversations to life with his voice.

As he worked through this anxiety, he discovered how empowering it was to use your voice with confidence and ignite the fire within those around him. “I conquered my fear of public speaking, and now I absolutely love it,” he says. “I love teaching entrepreneurs how to speak in public as well as how to speak up and speak out when working for a company or trying to build a brand.”

Tony’s drive to educate others on this newfound skill pushed him to start his own educational enterprise Speak University. “We come in and put on workshops, classes, experiences, the whole nine,” shares Tony. “Nowadays people are realizing that communication is key to so much, not just public speaking, but in writing, sending things to the public and using your voice. That’s what it’s all about.” In his work, Tony has been impressed and fulfilled by the aspirations of his students and finds great meaning in empowering them to uncover their own individual voice in their professional lives. The impact each story can make grows exponentially as more and more people begin understanding how to successfully use their voice and words to promote change and progress.

‘Leaders Lead’ Podcast

In addition to Speak University, Tony co-founded a podcast called “Leaders Lead” with his wife Jenny. Together they have devoted countless hours and endless energy to this project, and have found the rewards to be substantial. Through their hard work and tenacity, their podcast has hit the top 3% in the world and is now streaming in 63 countries on major platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Audible. Their hope is that their message can continue to reach more people and spread the importance of developing strong communication and open dialogues on critical topics for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Tony has also written and self-published the national #1 bestseller on Amazon “A Lion’s Pride: The scars hat silenced kings,” which is an anthology of men – called Lions – who go on to share their individual struggles and journeys in these moving and powerful stories. “It was so cathartic,” he says. “There is a stigma that deals with men saying they are in pain and hurt, but here everybody told their story and the truth of what really hurt them.” This passion project was cultivated through Tony’s professional network through LinkedIn, where over 1,000 people responded to his ask to gather and showcase these untold stories. The final story in the book is from Tony himself, reflecting and sharing his own personal truth of suffering, struggling and overcoming over the course of his life.

Tony Taylor Helps Build Up Business Owners

Tony Taylor sitting on a wood platform outside
Tony is passionate about helping entrepreneurs find their voice. Through Speak University, he seeks to inspire by helping business owners learn essential communication and public speaking skills. Photo courtesy: Tony Taylor

As Tony’s business and following continued to grow, he began developing deeper connections in the business community. Several people in his professional network encouraged him to get involved with the Thurston Economic Development board of directors. “I wasn’t sure because I wasn’t really the board type,” he says. “I turned down several boards and had never been on one until this one. I had no idea the impact the Thurston EDC made, so now I want to take what they do and blow it up.” Tony attended his first retreat with the board and even in this short time he has quickly discovered how valuable their work is in helping new and established businesses find success.

“I think that everybody should know what the EDC does in this community,” shares Tony. “I lacked so many resources when I first started and am still suffering now because of the information that I didn’t know I was missing. It’s all about the community, the communication, and letting people know what they do.” Many businesses can struggle at any stage in their development, whether in the startup phase or when scaling rapid growth. For Tony, there is endless opportunity to build up the local and surrounding business communities and support fellow entrepreneurs in any area they need through the Thurston EDC and his own professional endeavors.

Tony is eager to work with professionals wanting to break through communication barriers to grow their careers and businesses. Speak University offers three different packages, each including a range of coaching content and modules to help aspiring speakers develop the essential skills to take their professional lives to the next level. Through inspiring leaders like Tony, our business community continues to grow stronger.

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