He felt invisible in high school.
He failed as a business owner.
He worked in a cubicle for over a decade.
Today he's a world champion speaker.
What made the difference for him
can make the difference for you.
A Real-Life Underdog Story Filled with Humor and Hope
After a failed business in 1992, Darren LaCroix took a dare and took the stage at an open mic night at a Boston comedy club. He bombed miserably. It was horrible. The headliner that night told him, "Keep your day job kid." Friends told him that his dream of making people laugh for a living was crazy and stupid. He didn't listen.
He may have been born without a funny bone in his body, but Darren possessed the desire to learn and the willingness to fail. These were the essentials for achieving his dream. This self-proclaimed student of comedy is living proof that anything can be learned.
Less than nine years later, in 2001, Darren LaCroix out spoke 25,000 contestants from 14 countries to become the World Champion of Public Speaking…ironically with a very funny speech. Some said it was one of the best speeches in the history of the contest.
Since that victory, he has delivered keynotes in every state in the U.S. and 44 international cities. He is passionate about showing people that if you pray, find the right mentors, and become a sponge, anything is possible.
Darren is currently the only speaker in the world who is a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), an AS (Accredited Speaker), and a World Champion of Public Speaking. In spite of this, Darren always reminds people, “The letters after your name are not as important as the professional you become in the process.”
He is the co-host of Unforgettable Presentations podcast. Through his live workshops and Stage Time University.com, he helps good presenters become UNFORGETTABLE.
The right habits puts you in control of your health, relationships, mindset, and more. But most people lack the tools to stick with those habits long enough to see results that is about to change. Welcome to the unshakable habits podcast with your host, habit change specialist and speaker Stephen Box. Join us each week as experts share their stories, experiences and insights and give you the tools to build unshakable habits so you can live life on your terms. It's time to take your habits from unsustainable to unshakable.
Stephen Box: 0:46
Hey, welcome to the unshakable habits Podcast. I am your host, Stephen Box. And today I am joined by Darren Lacroix. Darren, welcome, and thank you for joining me today.
Darren LaCroix: 1:00
Hey, Steven, big fan of yours of what you're doing and happy to help. Thanks for inviting me.
Stephen Box: 1:06
Well, the filling is definitely mutual. I'm also a big fan of yours. Before we jump in, I do want to remind everyone of the unshakable habits that we're looking at here, the framework that we want to kind of put these stories into, so we want to look at what was the vision or the goal that really set everything in emotion? What were the skills that Darren had to develop in order to reach that goal? And then finally, what actions did he have to take to actually develop those skills for as you're hearing deer in store today, keep a lookout for those three parts, because that's what's going to allow you to take what Daron did, and apply it to your own life. So Darren, you have this great story. And I don't think most people would expect that you have it. Because when they look at you, they see world shaping public speaking. They see the only literally the only person in the entire world who's an accredited speaker, a certified speaking professional and a world champion of public speaking, the only one who would have ever guessed that your first business was an absolute failure.
Darren LaCroix: 2:29
Thanks for bringing that up.
Stephen Box: 2:32
Well, you know, with that, that's what we want to start at. Because I think that's where a lot of people are, when they're trying to create unshakable habits in their life. They're at a point where they're struggling, especially surely to stick with those habits. Now, I know you said in the past that your dream when you were younger, was to make people laugh. So how did you go from having this dream of wanting to make people laugh, to being a business owner, which isn't funny at all?
Darren LaCroix: 3:04
can be funny. There's not for the right reasons. So yeah, when I was eight years old, I used to be enamored with my brother and cousin who were naturally funny people, the people that in your family at the holiday gatherings, they have everybody laughing and, you know, recapping Saturday Night Live from that weekend, or the hot comedian that's going on right now. And they just be redoing their material and have everybody laughing. And as an eight year old, I was so enamored with that I thought that was like, so cool, that they could bring such joy to people. And I remember it was like, Polish side of the family. We were at the kids table, the rickety card card table, and that they threw a tablecloth over and I stood up and I threw out a punch line. And I hushed my own family. And people like looking at me and I remember being years old and sliding down in my chair thinking that was painful. I will never ever try to do that again.
Stephen Box: 4:11
Darren LaCroix: 4:12
I didn't you know I'm funny isn't my thing. Okay, new lane. And so through high school and then college I realized my passion and love for business. So after four years of business school, I went to Bryant college is now called Bryant University, but graduated there in 88. And I was all excited and I want to be an entrepreneur and I had my own little business during college. And it was a landscaping business. It was a driveway sealing some people in the south don't know what that means. But it basically means you paint your driveway to seal out all the water so it doesn't crack. Anyway, the challenge was and it grew for three years while I was in college. The challenge was that's a seasonal business. You can't do that in New England in the winter. It's just a summer thing which was perfect for college. So I looked for the business I found a subway franchise was growing rapidly the fastest growing franchise in the country at that point. And they had 5000 stores and I said, this is perfect, but it was growing from Western Massachusetts across East and I was right in the center of the states. It was new, and I was excited. I'm gonna own a multi multiple stores, I'm gonna be a multimillionaire, and I opened my first shop, I got a loan. And it was kind of crazy, but they gave me the money, had a friend's help secure the note. And about a year and a half later, I had to sell it at a loss. And I was devastated. It was painful at the time. But it was the most important transformation in my life. Because I was then at the lowest point living with mom and dad still had my college loans. Now I had a business loan, but I didn't have the business anymore. I was still responsible for that note, but I didn't even have the business to pay it off. So here I am, as a telemarketer, trying to pay the bills pay mom and dad rent pay down on my debt, and nothing. And I was driving down the road listening to Brian Tracy and he asked a question. He said, what would you dare to dream? If you knew you wouldn't fail? And I thought I'd be a comedian. How cool would that be? Make an audience laugh for a living, that would be the ultimate. But all of a sudden that doubted the the voice of reason said but you're not funny, Darrin? And that was true. But that wasn't the question. The question was, what would you dare to dream? If you knew you wouldn't fail? And so for me personally, I said, You know what, I want to just try it once. It wasn't this big dream. It wasn't this passion. It was I couldn't live my life with the regret, of wondering what if? What if Brian Tracy was right? I had nothing to lose. You know, I lived at home with mom and dad as a college grad. And it was embarrassing. So I just I just said, You know what? I'm going to try this. But even more importantly, I'm going to have no regrets. I'm going to go all in. And I think, you know, that's part of the foundation of the unshakable habits. Are you all in? Are you committed? And so I said, I'm just gonna do it once. But I'm going all the way. Because the worst thing about regret is wondering what if I tried it once, but I was drunk. You know, I saw so many other people try for their first time they had to get drunk to have the guts to go up there. And I was like, I would still wonder what if so I made a determination. I'm just going to be all mean, I'm going up 100% sober, I might win by it, I might lose by it. It's going to be painful. But I'm doing this once, but I'm doing it right. So I had never even been to a comedy club in my life. So I decided that what I was going to do is ask a comedian. Well, boom, here's unshakable habit number one, who you get in the habit from who you listening to. And so my friends and family told me I was crazy and stupid. But I said, Well, let me ask someone who has actually achieved the level that I want to achieve. So I went into a little comedy club in western Massachusetts, near where I lived. The comedian that night. The headliners name is Chris Maguire. He's still a writer in Hollywood, funny guy. Anyway, I worked up all the courage I could to talk to him after the show, because I'm a quiet, shy kid. And I said, Hi, my name is Darrin. I want to try this. What do I need to do? And he asked me a question. He said, Are you funny? I said, No. He said, Good. Good. What do you mean? And it shocked me that he said, good, but now he had my attention. So now I'm curious, what do you mean? And he went on to explain that, you know, people like my brother and cousin who can make the family laugh, your friends laugh. He said, that's one skill set. He said, but if you gave most of them a microphone, if you handed them a microphone and put them in front of a group of 100 strangers, they couldn't make them laugh. He said, but that's a different skill set. But that skill set can be learned. And it was like a Scooby Doo moment. Oh, you know, what, what? And but he handed me an ounce of hope. And he said two things. Number one, get the book. Like book, there's a book about stand up comedy, of course, there's books about everything. But there's also 1000 books on everything. But here's a guy who was where I wanted to be, and to get this book. So I got this book. The best thing I had going for me, Steven is I knew that I didn't know my ego was zero problem at that point, that that'll happen later. But at that point was zero problem. And I think if you're trying to get that vision of where you want to be and who you want to be, like, whose advice you taken, who you listening to, whose habits are you, you know, are you following, because there's a lot of bad habits and a lot of easy habits. And so he said two things. Number one, get the book. So I went and got the book, Judy Carter stand up comedy, the book, he said, number two, you need to go to open mic nights and watch other people just starting out. You know, sometimes we compare ourselves to somebody else's end result, which is not fair. Don't you dare compare. It's not fair. You know, you can't compare. You can't even compare your beginning to somebody else's beginning but at least it's you know, gives you a realm of possibility. And so on Sunday night, I went to a little comedy club and called stitches used to be right outside of Fenway Park in Boston, and I, you know, sticky floor could smell the stale beer. I thought, this is cool. And I watched people grow up for their first time and they were horrible, horrible. And I thought I could do that. It inspired me. And so I studied for two months in April 20, April 22 1926 1992 stitches. Two months later, I brought my friends with me because I was afraid I was gonna chickened out. And I just said, I'm just doing this once. I am never doing this again. But I'm going all in. So I told my friends, I kid you not. I don't usually tell this part of the story. But you know, your friend. And I told them, I said, I might cry or whine like a baby. You make sure I go up there. I don't care if I scream if I run out, tackle me and bring me back. But I'm going up tonight, I need your help. And they did. And because I knew they would do that for me. Because they love me that I you know, I forced myself to go up and it was ugly. It was horrible. I don't know if you want to show the clip.
Stephen Box: 11:45
That's absolutely, yeah, we can go and show the clip. So if you're listening to this on audio, you're only gonna hear it, I would encourage you to go over to the YouTube channel and actually watch this video. Even if you just fast forward to this part.
Darren LaCroix: 11:59
Anyone who lives in New England figured out Has anybody ever noticed that any every other small town in New England takes one little small historical fact and makes it the greatest event in the world. Sorry for my voice like
why the towns like this?
Darren LaCroix: 12:28
I was doing some research like places like Lexington, you know, the first revolutionary skirmish happened there. I can't even think of his name. Obviously. It was real famous Eli Whitney Westboro, you know born in Westboro. I was doing some research, I discovered that the the actual, the first dentist to use ether actually happened in Charlton Massachusetts. And the interesting thing about this was he actually experimented himself, you know that nobody else had done this before. And any he started with animals and used his own dog. That's enough pain.
Stephen Box: 13:06
I'll bring us back.
Darren LaCroix: 13:07
Yeah. And the funny part was that that wasn't even the worst part, somebody the person running the video camera, it got clipped off. And it was just embarrassing. My hands are shaking, if you look close, and I'm checking my notes. And I remember I told one joke. And I was so nervous that sometimes when you have that outer body experience that what you're doing and saying is not in sync with your body language. And I said this, I was telling this joke about the first rocket launch in history happened in my hometown, because I was making fun of towns in in New England, who every town in New England when you drive into the town, it's like this is where George Washington slept. And this is where George Washington had a splinter. You know, there is all these crazy little things. Are you making fun of that. But then I made the irony where my town really did have the claim to fame. And I was talking about Dr. Goddard's rocket launch. The first liquid fuel rocket in history was launched in my hometown. And I said the rocket took off and it went vertically. And those of you just listening to audio, I did horizontal with my arm, but I said vertical. And at that instant, I was so disgusted with myself that I just reacted and I said, Ah, shoot. That's not the actual word I use, but I swore use profanity. Sorry, mom. I swore Ah, shoot, and everybody laughed. And I was like, What happened? Why did you laugh? That's not what you're supposed to laugh, but I hate it. And that was the only real laugh I got that night. There was some pity laughs in there. But that was the only real laugh. I remember walking offstage and his other comedian trying to console me putting his arm around. He said, Don't worry, man. It's just your first time. And I remember thinking Don't worry. Did you see what I did? I got a laugh. I mean, it was an accident. But I'll figure out how to reproduce it, I'll get rid of everything that didn't work and figure out how to reproduce more mistakes, I can do this. And that, Steven, that's where the vision was born. And I didn't care how long it took. I just I knew I was gonna figure it out. Because I just I got, I'm on no timeframe here. I'm at the lowest point in my life. And I looked at it, you know, because a lot of kids grow up and they want to be high school athletes. I understand. That's a great goal, I was not going to have that goal. I was already past my college days, I couldn't even make the team barely in high school. And when I looked at people's careers, athletes, you know, 5678 years is a long career, and then you're done. You worked all that your life, and you're done. And what I was looking into this and reading about it, and studying and reading the books, I realized, George Burns was like, 100. I was 23. I had like, 70 years to go, that I could work on this. So even if 20 years, I would be okay with that. And honestly, that was my thought process. I didn't care. It was like an instant addiction. Like, I want that again, you know, shoot me up again, give you that laughter thing. I want to figure this out.
Stephen Box: 16:24
I have so many notes that I just took just from that first question. But a couple things that really stood out to me the most is there at the end, you talked about how you come off the stage. And comedians, like he's great, because he's like, this guy's gonna be bombed, right? And you're he's trying to console you. And you're like, What are you talking about? I've got a laugh. That was so awesome. I think so many times, we'll do one thing, right? In 10 things wrong. And we spend all of our time focused on the 10 things we did wrong. And we never build upon the one thing we did, right? In is such a common mistake that we make where we allow ourselves to get bailed, get just torn down off those mistakes. And we don't think about when I actually did something right, I have something to build upon here. The other thing that I heard you say that found interesting, a lot of times when I see people struggling with something, so whether it's they want to lose a certain number of pounds, or they want to make a certain amount of money. The goal is always I have to do this as soon as humanly possible. And fast and good quality hardly ever go together. Right? And you said, I was not on a timeframe. I was at the lowest point in my life. Most people would say, I have to do this now. Because I'm at the lowest point in my life. What do you think it was that allowed you to have that mindset of saying, you know what, things can't get any worse? I might as well just take my time and try to get this right.
Darren LaCroix: 18:12
Well, I think part of it was the fact that my whole life I was told that can't. So when Brian Tracy asked that question, I went back to that eight year old kid. Like I skipped over most of my life and went to the eight year old kid who was enamored with seeing people laugh, and the idea of me being able to incite that in people. That is crazy. Oh, I can, like I didn't care. So part of it was that knowing what drove me knowing what inspired me. That was definitely part of it. And and this is I want to give Tony Robbins credit. He said a lot of people put their short term goals too low, excuse me. They're short term goals too high. So they don't hit it in the short term and they think they're a failure. And they put their long term goals too low, that they could cheap so much more. And it comes down to Stephen what you talk about unshakable habits. If you have the unshakable habits, nothing can stop you. There's some breakthroughs you're going to need. But that's exactly what the unshakable habits are designed for. So I wish I could tell you, I knew where it came from. I think it was number one, that instant addiction that it was just, I could do the impossible. I didn't know what or how I did it. But I did it once I figured it out again. And then I think it was just the fact that at that point in my life, I was bombarding myself with motivational tapes. When I was in a car. I didn't even know if my radio worked. I was listening to motivational tapes, Brian Tracy, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar you name it, Jim Rohn anyone I could get my hands on and I would listen again and again. again to the same programs thanks to my you know, my high school buddy Jim Boland, who introduced me to it. That was like it, I was loving it, because all they do is tell you, you can well, eventually, you're going to accept that if you listen to it or not. So I think that was part of where that came from.
Stephen Box: 20:20
Yeah, it's, it's interesting, you mentioned that I actually have used something similar. Like when I do my workouts, all of my workout playlist, start with this audio that I downloaded off a YouTube video with somebody did is they took parts of speeches from Eric Thomas, from Will Smith, and from a guy that I know you just had the pleasure of interviewing for your podcast, Les Brown, yep. And they put this like ethic music on it. And I just sit there and listen to it. It was it wasn't about the music. It wasn't about, you know, oh, this is my favorite song or anything else. It was listening to the words that they were saying. They get me mentally in the right mindset to go and do my workouts. And so when you say that, it's like, that's the first thing that popped my mind. So often, I think we we get so reliant on high energy stuff to get us motivated. But I think it's the stuff that really touches us, that gets us to think deeper. That's what really motivates us, not not just high energy stuff.
Darren LaCroix: 21:33
Yeah, for me, you know, my comedy mentors, they're the ones where I was any mentor, I can, every class that I can, every book that I could, I was a sponge. As you know, I talked about that. Well, one of the things I kept hearing over and over that was common from every Vegas, excuse me, every Boston headliner at that time I live in Vegas now. But every Boston headliner, every class that I took, the one thing I kept hearing over and over and over again was stage time, never turned down stage time. It's that experience time. It's not the comedy writing like you got to do that. But it's putting yourself in that experience. It's not talking about the workout. It's not preparing the workout. It's doing the flippin workout. Well, for what I wanted, in my vision, it was actually getting up on stage. When I had at the beginning, I had no act, I had no confidence. I had no stage presence, and I wasn't funny. Doesn't matter. I created the habit. And you know, the habit is critical. But Stephen, I don't always often talk about this, but just when you brought up the idea of the music, and not just the pumping music. So one of the things that my mentor Vinnie told me was, Hey, I don't care if you bomb. I care if you don't go up. If you don't go up, I will never ever help you again. And he what he was saying to me is like you got to go up right now. All that matters right now is you go up there. Nothing else matters. bombing, people heckling you, people ignoring you, the TV on in the background doesn't matter. So Steve and I would sit at a time at 1976 Volkswagen rabbit. And I would sit my little rabbit. And I had a mixtape those of you who are younger, consider playlist, but it was a mixed cassette tape. And I listened to three songs. And one of them was right now by Van Halen. And all so I listened to her. All I need to do was right now I have to go in there and go up on that stage. And that was one of the songs and ironically, Stephen, you know, I'm writing a new book. Now. I listened to right now again, because it resonates with me now, as I drive to the lake where I do my writing. So I do it out at Lake Las Vegas. But as I'm driving there, I listened to that one and dreams I'll never see which is a Molly hatchet song, the live version, because it gets me going. But then back in the 1994. To me, this was 9293 94 anyway, all in that I was listening to this every time one of my college buddies his name, I have still have it on my desk. His name was saverio or rougeau. And so Vario was one of my close college buddies and he was the life of the party type of guy. Well, a year after he graduated college, he was in Portugal, where is where his family was from. And he was the healthiest person you knew. He had just got married, married his college sweetheart, they just had a baby and he had an aneurysm in the middle of night and died. And there in my mind, there became this void in the universe because he was that you just when he came in, walked in the room he did lit up the room. And I said there's a void in the world now, it might just be my world but there's a void in the world now, I need to step up and fill that void. So one of the other songs that I listened to was Boys to Men it's I lose my main card for the Boys to Men and Mariah Carey. Think the titles One fine day
Stephen Box: 25:23
one sweet day one. So I've lost my main card now to apparently so
Darren LaCroix: 25:27
one three day. So I don't share that. Maybe we shouldn't scream this.
Stephen Box: 25:33
Okay, we'll just cut this part out for later. Not really. Well, at least you know, people were thinking about it.
Darren LaCroix: 25:39
And I thought of essay when I listen to that song. And I'm like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do this, I gotta go up, I got to fill that void. So it was like that energy that knowing what the unshakable habit was, which was to go up, just to go up. You know, I love if anybody's watching this or listening to this, you know, the there's a brilliance in the movie, we bought a zoo, where you only got to be brave for five seconds. You know, once I'm up there, I could panic, I could pee in my pants. I could do whatever. But up there. That's, that's the goal. So anyway. Yeah, I ironically, I'm working on the movie script for it. And I wrote a scene in which was also true that I was in Providence, Rhode Island. And I took a comedy class, because I took all of them in at periwinkles, in downtown Providence, and I was in the bathroom. And I kid you not, I was so nervous. I didn't pee in my pants. But I was washing my hands. It was one of those faucets. And it was all over my crotch. And so, and I'm going up in five minutes, and I'm like, over at the blow dryer, trying to dry my pants. And even though it wasn't pee, I was like, oh, man, are you kidding me? So little, little stories on the road.
Stephen Box: 27:09
I think I think we've all been there. I think we've all been there.
Darren LaCroix: 27:14
That's the real relatable part.
Stephen Box: 27:16
So you go, you go up on stage, and you completely bomb. But you get a little bit of inspiration because you get that one laugh. And you've already talked a little bit about some of the skills because you You said you took all the classes you could take you seek out all the mentors, you read all the books, you did all of those things. Was there ever a point where you kind of sit down and said, What do I need to develop? Or did you just kind of depend on the classes and the books entertained? To tell you what skills you need to develop?
Darren LaCroix: 27:49
Was there ever a point? Or was there a point every day where I was like what, you know, because at the beginning, my trajectory was so low. So you know, some people weren't, you know, boom, they just go up by was so low and so incremental. You know, I always say when you get coaching, and when you get direction, your growth goes from incremental to exponential. Well, because I had no act. I wasn't funny. I had no stage presence. I was panicking. It was so incremental that there were many days I couldn't even see my own growth. And I think that's one thing to bring up Steven, is the fact that you know, the friends that you know are on your team. Be careful who you tell what your crazy idea is, because it's very easy for people close to you to talk you out of it. But if you know you got somebody who is your brother, your sister, and I mean, I don't mean your blood brother or sister but your brother, brother or sister who's got your back. Tell them to point out your growth. You know, our friend Amanda Mae gray, she has a great quote that I love. She says you can't see your own progress. During the progress. You see your own progress. So for our friends who are Toastmasters, you know, I tell Toastmasters. You got to tell everybody in your club when you see them growing, like pointed out because they can't see it. And if someone's pointing it out to us, we'll keep going. But if you think we're getting nowhere, which we all think we're getting nowhere. That's the biggest challenge. So we need the people around us, encourage them to help us point out our own growth. Anyway, so many stories come to mind. We just got know that we're growing because we're doing the habit. But the problem as you know, Steven is the plateau. When Yeah, when you when you see your obvious growth and your obvious uptick in you've you get that breakthrough. Easy to keep going After that, it's on the plateau where seemingly, you're staying the same. But you're, you're moving forward to get to that next breakthrough. But we don't know during that time.
Stephen Box: 30:13
Yeah, I've had that conversation with people before where when people see my before picture, and they've made you lost 80 pounds. How did you do that? I'm like, that's not the right question. I did that by eating better. And working out. The better question is, how did I managed to keep going after plateau in six different times? That's the question. And that's, I think so many times people overlook that. Because it's like you say, we get focused on the moment. They we see a little bit of progress happening. We can people tell us, oh, yeah, you're getting better at this or whatever, is that we see it. And then the moment that stops, we kind of fall off. Amen. So now you, you went on to become a professional comedian, which means that people will actually thought you're funny enough to pay you for it.
Darren LaCroix: 31:07
Yeah, well, I never reached a headliner status. I headlined a couple shows, because somebody didn't show up. It's how you move up in ranks. But I, you know, I discovered the world of speaking. And I did both for many years. And I just realized down the road, I'm a speaker, I have the greatest foundation ever, which is doing stand up. But I just, for me, personally, I have a lot of great friends who are comedians, they're awesome. It's just not who I was. I would more the corporate guy because I went to college. And that's where I was comfortable. But for me, personally, it drained my soul to be in a comedy club for six or seven nights in a week. You know, just being around drunks, and people drinking, and I'm not a drinker. It's not my thing. I don't have a problem with people who do, but being around that, and the, you know, the penis jokes every night, and the the fart jokes. And just like, this is just not that encouraging. But for me being in the speaking world, like I can go to a seminar, nobody can know me, I can sit there, and it can be an average motivational speaker up there, and I'll get something from it. Because that's my, that's my jam. That's my home, if you will. And so I love seeing other people. And I love seeing the mistakes they make, so that I can go train my students, as well. But I'll find something because that's like where I live. I don't know if you ever heard this story, Stephen. But when I went to my first NSA convention, it was a whole new world for me, you know, now I'm in a land of 2000 people who do what I do and want to do what I do. And I just, I remember seeing the opening keynote speaker, his name was Captain Gerald coffee. And he just, he's a prisoner of war, he gave this amazing speech. And there were there was music after and this guy, Ken need Emma who played the piano, he recapped the speech. brilliantly. He is a blind pianist, and he does it at conventions and conferences. I was like in tears, I'm like, and I literally took a notepad and broke into the pool at the hotel I was staying at. And I wrote a seven page letter to my mom, that said, for the first time in my life, I feel like I found home. I never really had that in the comedy world. I was like this is I don't know what or how or what my career is going to look like or what I'm going to do. But for the rest of my life, these are my people.
Stephen Box: 33:38
You know, it's interesting. You mentioned the story. And I think something that people might miss if they're not paying attention here is you had this initial dream, you wanted to make people laugh. And in the beginning, your thought was the only way to really do that is to be a stand up comedian. Yep. And you went and you live that life and you live that dream. And then you realize, okay, this isn't quite right. But you didn't at that point, say, well, maybe my dream was stupid. Maybe I just did the wrong thing. Instead, you shifted. He said, okay, where else can I go be funny? Because you enjoy being up on stage. You enjoyed the station, you enjoyed making people laugh. You just didn't enjoy the environment. So you found a way to go put yourself in the environment. You just shifted your focus, your dreams still stayed the same. You just shifted the way that you delivered.
Darren LaCroix: 34:36
Yeah, I can't even say that my thought process was exactly that way. I did both for many years, still thinking I wanted to be a comedian. But when I finally found speaking, it was actually at like a zig Zigler conference that my company had sent me to and the people from NSA in New England. Were working the table In the back of the room, and I met this woman, Rosemary very, and I told her I was working on being a comedian. And someone said, you got to talk to rosemary. She's a humorist, like, what's a humorist? And they're like, well, it's a corporate speaker. I'm like, what's a speaker? I mean, here I am at a zig ziglar conference. And it never dawned on me Zig. That's his career, like, didn't even not on my radar screen. So when she explained it to me, and she said, Well, you know, people want a message, which I didn't know, on the surface was important to me. But later on, I realized I cared more about the aha, than the haha. So I didn't know there was a bigger, better dream for Derek. But when I found out, they're gonna be sober, they're gonna, they want to message, and they're gonna pay me 10 times as much. I was like, What is that again? rewind, are you kidding me? 10 times as much. I don't have to be as funny. You know. And that's the thing. It's like, when I realized I really wasn't a comedian. You know, you could say I was a failure, because I never became a household name. I never became a headliner in Boston on the circuit. If I stuck around for a few more years, I might have got there. But it wasn't who I was. It wasn't resonating with my heart. So I'm thankful for the journey, because it set me up perfectly for speaking, it was the greatest foundation. So it wasn't like, Oh, I need something else. It was like, here's something else that's more suited for you. And so kind of parallel both of them for quite a while. And then I just eventually, then later on, I realized, I, it's draining my soul to be in a comedy club. So I didn't recognize what was happening. You know, a lot of times when we're in the middle of it, we don't recognize it, just like you're in the middle of progress. You don't recognize it. You're in the middle of devastation. Sometimes you don't recognize it. And I was just having my soul drained because of the environment. And now, you know, speaking motivation seminars, get me jacked up, you know, even if I'm not on stage, anyway, long answer.
Stephen Box: 37:12
No, you're good. So it's interesting, because you mentioned how coaching takes us from the incremental growth to just exponential growth. And I think that's really a great point, especially when we look at in the context of it is, it's not just about Bruce, right. It's about when you're going the other way, too, because like you said, we don't realize sometimes why we're struggling when we're struggling, just like we don't realize just how much we're actually growing. So having a coach to come along and say, Hey, keep doing more of this. This is actually good. This is where your strength is, is just as important as having someone to come along and say stop doing that.
Darren LaCroix: 37:57
Amen. Amen. We all need our Yoda.
Stephen Box: 38:00
Yeah. Because sometimes we just don't know to stop doing stuff.
Darren LaCroix: 38:04
We don't Well, we don't know what is really effective and what isn't? Because we just don't understand from that coach's perspective from the code design. Well, you know, my story, when I finally met Mark brown in 2001, that changed everything for me, because I had that coach who, you know, it's one thing to read a book, it's another thing for somebody to say, hey, you and your style when you do this, this is the problem you're creating, it makes it worse. You know, a book doesn't necessarily reach out and touch what books are good. It's direction. It's a starting point. But as you know, I'd say Steven, we need direction, and correction, whether a mentor or coach or that person who can look at our situation and care enough to say, Okay, tell you the truth. You know, some people you can't handle the truth. A lot of people can't handle the truth. But for those people who are truly struggling and truly want to get where they need to go, like you need a coach, and it's not just a coach. And whatever your subject is, whatever your unshakable habit areas in it's like, there's a difference between a high school coach and an Olympic coach. Is there a high school athlete and an Olympic athlete? I want the Olympic coach, they're gonna beat me up. It's gonna hurt. But I'm, you're way better than the high school coach would ever do for me.
Stephen Box: 39:24
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, just a perfect example. And I'm not I'm just going to go and preface this by saying that I'm not saying anything negative about Toastmasters making this comment. Because I've been a member of Toastmasters for six years. I know you're still a big part of Toastmasters. But the difference between the feedback I get on my club, even my advanced club, in the feedback that I get from the coaches at stage time, it's worlds of difference. The amount that I've grown in the last, I guess about 10 months now that I've been a member of stage time in comparison to him How much I grew in the first five and a half years in Toastmasters. It's I've already grown more in stage time. And that's not to say that I didn't have lots of growth in Toastmasters and it didn't benefit me. But it's just once you get around higher caliber coaches, your growth happens much faster.
Darren LaCroix: 40:18
That because your your habits are in a different lane. You know, your unshakable habits are in a different lane. But you know, well meaning people try to help but they're helping from the level of knowledge that they have. And like I love James clear, I don't know if you know him, but James clear. He says, everyone wants a gold medal. No one wants to train like an Olympian. Everyone wants a gold medal. No one wants to train like an Olympian. And I don't know if you heard this story or not, Steven, when? When I joined the contest in 2001, there's six levels of the contest. So I know you know that there's six levels of this. So it wasn't till level two or three that I was like, I should get a coach, thinking they could just give me some little tweaks and I met this man named David McElhaney. And I studied him I was impressed by him. He was he was what much better coach and feedback than average Toastmaster, even though he was a Toastmaster. And he had gone to the semifinals before. And he was really good and I trusted him. So if you're looking for a coach, you got to find that person that you would actually be open to. Well, Stephen, you never heard this part of the story. But when I won the semi finals, Dave McElhaney was there with me. And that's right when I met Mark Brown. Well, David McElhaney walked me over to Mark brown and said, brilliantly, I can't take you to a place I've never been. I can't take you to a place I had never been. So I was going to the World Championship. But Dave had never been there. So he kind of handed me over to Mark who has been there, done that, because it's a different level of coaching. He helped me I would have never made it to that level without him. But he was wise enough to know, okay, now you need another coach who is qualified to help you at that higher level. And with Mark's permission, both of them coached me. But it was a whole different level of feedback. And Dave is still helpful even at the higher level. But Mark knew things that Dave did not know.
Stephen Box: 42:31
I remember you sharing the story about the first time that you took your speech mark that you drove thing was like two and a half hours. He had given you some instruction, you've made all these changes. You go up there, you're like, I've got the greatest speech in the world. Mark is gonna love this speech. And he's like, sure we got some work to do. And this is not what you think it is.
Darren LaCroix: 42:57
Oh, it's that was it. I was so excited. As I handed it to him. I said it was like the the end to get to choir of angels. I could hear background. And you said it very nicely. Mark shook his head looked at me. Oh, we have some work to do. And I flipped out. My first reaction is what?
Are you kidding me?
Darren LaCroix: 43:21
I wrote the greatest speech that I could write from the level that I was at, but you don't know what you don't know. And my ego is in the way. So remember, I said early on, I had no ego well eventually grew. And got in the way. And I needed to go back to that 1992 Darren, who was open and eager and willing to learn anything. So he did the humbling.
Stephen Box: 43:47
And it's crazy, too, because if you think about the fact that had Dave not been humble himself, and realize the he taking as far as he could take you, you would have never gotten that humbling. And then you probably would not have performed as well as you did the final now. Not even to say who's to say if you still could have won or not? We don't know.
Darren LaCroix: 44:10
I do know that. There's no way.
Stephen Box: 44:12
Yeah. So by having that opportunity, then you do something that a lot of us struggle to do. I know it's something I've struggled with, in different times in my life, which is when someone says this isn't as good as you think it is. What is your reaction? Do you say? What do you mean? Or do you go okay? What do you got? It's got to work. Yeah. Do you mean then or now? No. wouldn't happen that's that's what I'm saying is like, you know, it's it's that struggle when it happens, right? Like, that initial response is so hard the first time
Darren LaCroix: 44:57
it happened. I didn't know I needed So much help. Now I know. So for example, I just did a new keynote 17 minutes to your dream at our event called game changers. And when I first brought it to Mike Davis, because I know now I need a coach, I'll be honest, I want him to say it's amazing. Maybe just consider this tiny little tweak. But that ain't what he says. You know, when I get a list, here's some things. But now I understand that any version 1.0, that's gonna happen. Just because I'm passionate, enthusiastic and animated. Doesn't mean I'm saying anything doesn't mean, kneading doesn't mean I'm leaving that message on the hearts and the minds of my audience. So I take it a lot better. But that little ego is still in there saying, Oh, it's just a tiny little tweak. It's never just a tiny little tweak. So I wish they just pat me on the back. I know, I need the help.
Stephen Box: 46:00
And the I think what I was kind of putting out there too, is, it's when we talk about taking actions and developing skills. One of the skills that I think all of us should work on regardless of what it is we're trying to achieve, is the skill of accepting feedback is one of the hardest skills to develop.
Darren LaCroix: 46:21
Ivan, say you've got to get to the point where you can crave it, crave it, not just ask for it, crave it. But then, you know, we teach Steven, you got to discern is this thought and felt? Or is this how to make it better thought? Or how to make it better? Everyone is qualified to tell you thought and felt and if 80% of the audience said it was confusing, guess what? It's confusing. It's confusing. Now, that doesn't mean you take their advice on how to make it better. That is the land of the qualified coach. But everyone is qualified to tell you thought and felt and then you make adjustments based on that. But you're making the adjustments.
Stephen Box: 47:04
Yeah. Alright, so final thoughts do you have a final message that you really want people to see here when it comes to creating an unshakable habit in their life.
Darren LaCroix: 47:21
Make sure you're choosing the right habits. Make sure you get that insight from someone who is where you want to be. Where they're just like the guy who was a comedian who said, Get this book, they're coming from a place of knowing what the unqualified, what the unshakable habit should be. So make sure you're getting advice from people who are literally where you want to be. Everyone's got an opinion, you've all listened. So get clear from them on what your unshakable habits are. And then you are the CEO of your life. And we've all had times where we know we should have fired our own CEO, even though it was us, or people who work for us who was us. So you're the CEO. So make that commitment, and then find people to keep you accountable. So you move forward, you know, and you really got to get to know yourself, know what you need to get where you want to go. Know that. There's, there's a time to vent. And then complaining is not venting. Once you vent, let it go, shut up and move on. You know, it's a Boston term, shut up. Stop moving your lips, and take responsibility, you know, until you take 100% responsibility that you are the CEO. You're gonna change. You can find every excuse you want. You can listen everybody you want, you can listen all the negative people. If you've never heard it before, go check out the poem by Theodore Roosevelt from 1899 called the man in the arena. And sorry, ladies, it's titled The man in the arena. It applies to man and woman. And you are the person in the arena, make no mistake, but it's, it's about the critic. All is a critic.
Stephen Box: 49:17
Yo. And you know, sometimes the harshest critic. Isn't the person outside. It's person inside. Amen.
Darren LaCroix: 49:26
Stephen Box: 49:27
And I think, going through some of my unshakable keys that I wrote down for me today, I think you really hit on a lot of that. You talked about when you were living with your parents, having just lost your business, that you felt that you had nothing to lose. And so you're like, you know what, I might as well go out and live with no regrets. So, you know, I think let's put that same question with a little bit of spin on that Brian Tracy asked you what if you don't Do well you have regrets about when you when you're dying? What are you going to regret in your life? If you don't go out and do it?
Darren LaCroix: 50:09
Yeah, what are you teaching your kids? Are you to quit? Are you teaching them to move forward anyway?
Stephen Box: 50:17
Yo, you also mentioned several times this idea of who are you listening to? You know, had you only talked to your family? You would have never gone up on that stage. Because no one would have encouraged you. No one would have given you any guidance, you would have literally just said, Oh, well. But you and you even said you didn't work up the courage just to go even ask the comedian for help. Yep. And even get on stage? Yeah, you just had to work on courage even go ask somebody for help. And I think that's huge. Because so many times we get caught up in thinking, we can do it on our own. And it's okay, to be scared to ask for help. It's okay to recognize that you don't even really know what to ask. You know, you literally just went up and said, Hey, I want to do this. What should I do? You had no expectations about what the answer was going to be. You're just hoping that he's going to give you something actionable. Yep. Amen. You know, then the other things that you said was about coaching, and I really liked that when you are in the moment. And you use Amanda's phrase here, where you're in the progress, you can't see it. And then we talked about the exact same thing being true about when there's a struggle, you're blind to it, because you're in the moment, because seeing a struggle is essentially admitting to something you're doing is ineffective. And that's difficult for us to accept on our own. You can't you can't change it, your ideas and your thoughts with your thoughts and ideas. You have to get it from somewhere else. So lots of really great insights there. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Darren LaCroix: 52:21
Thanks. Any of your listeners need a daily dose of inspiration. I have a free website, 365, inspirational quotes.com. Go check it out, pop in your email address, and I will send you a quote a day every day for a year. And it starts off with the four that were in front of me on my desk when I was chasing that crazy dream. And one of the most important ones was Vincent van Gogh. He said if there's a voice and if you hear a voice inside your head that says you are not a painter, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. So I in my head reinterpret that as if there's a voice inside you that says you're not funny, then by all means, make them laugh. And that voice will be silenced.
Stephen Box: 53:06
Love it. You read my mind. I was about to ask you how people can get in touch with you.
Darren LaCroix: 53:14
And I'm going to do you a favor or you can I'm calm Darren Lacroix calm I've got 1000s of videos on YouTube. Be a sponge calm if you want my top 10 speaking mistakes if you're a speaker or no speaker. But yeah, I'm easy to find. Just like the water Darren Lacroix no relation
Stephen Box: 53:35
relation. So Darren has not paid me for this. I'm doing this for free. channeling my inner Ford here of putting my disclaimer on this. If you are a speaker or a presenter, go look into stage time University. I promise you will not regret it. And you need to listen to the unforgettable presentations podcast with Darren and Mark Brown. Thank you. So that's that's my freebie for you. We do not have any pre repayments but if you want to send some money in the mail that will be fine
Darren LaCroix: 54:19
dacha even I love what you're doing and I hope if you're listening to this, you listen to some other episodes to Stephens the real deal. I'm a fan. Keep it up, Steven.
Stephen Box: 54:32
Thanks dear. Appreciate that and appreciate you joining us today.
Darren LaCroix: 54:36
And it's hard not to come up with another episode. If your brand is unshakable habits, you have to have a habit of creating episodes. inbox.
Stephen Box: 54:48
Thank you. And I'll just add real quick. It's funny that you mentioned that Darrin because you are actually pushing me right now. You started in the stage time Facebook Group A 70 seven day video challenge, and you're on day 146 147. And I'm on the exact same day. And the reason I'm on the same day is because I'm like, every time I think about Should I just go ahead and stop? I've done enough of these. I see Darren's video pop up. I'm like, I got to do another one.
Darren LaCroix: 55:23
And you're welcome.
Stephen Box: 55:24
Yes. So So yes, go out and find somebody who will inspire and push you to be a sponge, keep growing and become unshakable.
Thanks for listening to the unshakable habits podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, and you'd like to help support the podcast, please share it with others. post about it on social media or leave a rating and review. To catch all the latest. Please subscribe at unshakable habits, comm slash YouTube or on your favorite podcast app. You can learn more about unshakable habits at unshakable habits.com Until next week, be unshakable. Bye friends.