How to Level Up Your Speaking and Presentation Skills with Coach and Award-Winning Actor, Meridith Grundei


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Meridith Grundei, Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Coach, Actor, Director, and Improviser.

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As an award-winning theatre director, producer, and former Second City improv teacher, Meridith Grundei recognized the similarities between performing on stage every night and presenting to clients/colleagues every day, but the latter didn’t have the right tools to bring their stories to life. So she decided to do something about it.

Eleven years and some change later, Grundei Coaching has helped thousands of individuals and corporations

around the world achieve career growth and success. Meridith specializes in presentation and public speaking consultation, individual training and development, and creative team solutions using applied improvisational theatre techniques to build trust, empathy, and out-of-the-box thinking.

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Meridith Grundei Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Meridith Grundei: First off. I was just want to say the collective whole is super important. I think in order for transformation to happen and to see the actual results.

[00:00:14] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Hello and welcome to the innovative mindset podcast. Izolda Trakhtenberg on the show. I interview peak performing innovators in the creative social impact and earth conservation spaces or working to change the world. This episode is brought to you by brain FM, brain FM combines the best of music and neuroscience to help you relax, focus, meditate, and even sleep.

[00:00:35] I love it and have been using it to write, create and do some. Deepest work because you're a listener of the show. You can get a free trial head over to mindset. To check it out. If you decide to subscribe, you can get 20% off with the coupon code, innovative mindset, all one word. And now let's get to the show.

[00:00:58] Oh, my goodness. We've [00:01:00] just been laughing so hard. Hi, this is the Trakhtenberg with the innovative mindset podcast and I bid you welcome. I'm super excited about this week's guest. You can tell Meredith is already laughing. We're both cracking up, but you need to, you need to hear about Meredith grin, die, check it out.

[00:01:18] And I did I say it right? Or as a guy I dug around di see, Brandise we've just had. Fabulous conversation about name changing when you are, when you have the opportunity to do so. And Gren di is, is the, is the name that is the right name and I'm going to say it correctly. So here we go. Meredith Grundei dog gone.

[00:01:38] It I'm going to get it right. As eventually as an award winning theater director, producer, and former second city improv teacher Meredith recognize the similarities between performing on stage every night and presenting to clients and colleagues. But the latter didn't have the right tools to bring their stories to life.

[00:01:56] So she decided to do something about it. You know, this is catnip [00:02:00] to me. If you're, if you're a longtime listener of this show, you know how much I love what this is and what Meredith does so 11 years and some change later. Growing dye coaching has helped thousands of individuals and corporations around the world achieve career growth and success.

[00:02:15] Meredith specializes in presentation and public speaking consultation, individual training and development and creative team solutions using applied improv, improvisational theater techniques to build trust, empathy, and out of the box thing. Wow, this is, this is so exciting for me because we're going to get really deep into some of this.

[00:02:34] I'm so thrilled to have you here. Meredith. Welcome.

[00:02:37] Meridith Grundei: Thank you. I am so happy to be here. This is I make, so I'm just giddy on the inside about the conversation that is about to emerge. Certainly

[00:02:46] Izolda Trakhtenberg: hope so, unless, unless my cat comes in like the, like he did the other day and jumps on the microphone and everything goes all over the place.

[00:02:54] We'll improvise. There you go. You'll improvise. I took very few improv classes in theater. I'll I'll I'll [00:03:00] try and yes, yes, yes. And you as much as possible. I love it. So, so talk to me a little bit about that. What, how did you get from. Theater director, producer, improv, teacher, professor, all of these things too.

[00:03:15] Now you help people and companies get their message out. How did that come about?

[00:03:21] Meridith Grundei: That's a really great question. It's organically come about over time. I have always seen myself and as a multi-passionate human and I remember the very first time someone said to me, I believe it was in high school, you're a Jack of all trades, but she said it in kind of a negative way.

[00:03:41] And you know, I'm, you know, that Jack of all trades master of none kind of way. And, and at first I thought, this is my handicap. I have all these passions because I was dancing. I was acting, but I loved organizing. I worked in the career center. I just have always [00:04:00] loved these things. My dad was an entrepreneur, so he, he was always, I was always inspired by him and always curious about exactly what he did.

[00:04:07] He also had a job that I could never understand it, but he did these other things that. We're just exciting. I was like, wow, you're opening a dry cleaners. And now you're opening a virtual reality games place. And now you're so I was always just really an all of that. And then when I moved to San Francisco, when I graduated from college and I started performing with an improv group called ed nauseum, and I'd taken at that time, maybe one improv class in high school.

[00:04:36] And I met these, this group of people through bats and I had taken a couple courses there and I just started to love, I just fell in love with it immediately, and then ended up in a sketch comedy group called old man McGinty. And we'd do this crazy, like very absurdist kind of sketch comedy. It was this really dynamic group.

[00:04:59] [00:05:00] Performers that had these wonderful like dance ability writers and a lot of experimental theater, performers, clowns, so forth. And so we put this group together and one of our members was like, I'm moving to Chicago, I'm going to study in Providence. Like, Ooh, I want to go to Chicago. I want to study improv.

[00:05:19] So I'm like, let's do it. And at that time I had just gotten married and we. Jet set it to Chicago. And I started interning my way through IO, improv, Olympic and the next thing I know, I am then teaching at the second city and I'm helping start their youth program there. And cause one of the core faculty members was co-teaching a class with me that was teaching kids how to create their own.

[00:05:49] And so I started that. I started working at the second city and it was a wonderful experience for me. And I was always inspired by the people that I was working with. [00:06:00] And for, and I did a couple at that time, it was called Bisco gigs teaching to more corporate folk, if you will, and helping them. Find ways to work better and more efficiently as teams using improvisation as a tool to do that.

[00:06:18] And then from there, this executive coach, Dennis Schroder pulled me in and was like, I want you to work with me and all the time. So I was like, okay. And I do the Birkman assessment, which is a psychological assessment, similar to disc and Myers-Briggs and he said, This is how I work as an executive coach with these teams.

[00:06:36] And then I want you to come in and let's use applied improv as a way to show these personal things different personality types and how they can work together as an asset. And better communicate with each other as a team and trust and all of that. And so for several years, and I actually am still in touch with Dennis and do the occasional work with him.

[00:06:57] I, I, I just ended up [00:07:00] doing that work and loving it because I saw the opportunities to help people not only engage with each other, but also find a safe and brave space to share story. I, it was astounding to me. How many organizations did not provide the space, whether that was conscious or unconscious for people to actually share what is like what's going on in their lives.

[00:07:29] What's what, they're, what they don't feel that they can bring into the workspace, right? Because you leave, you leave your personal life at home. And I'll, I'll never forget this one experience where I was working with a team of manufacturing team up in upstate New York in Rochester, and I have this Augusta ball exercise and Augusta ball is a Brazilian practitioner who brought he's no longer with us, but he, he used improv and theater [00:08:00] as a tool to bring community together and people of different backgrounds and ethnicities and so forth.

[00:08:06] And. This one exercise is called and it made me think. And so what you do is each person is given one minute to tell a story about something that's happened in their life and in relatively recent, right? A relatively recent timeframe. So in last week or last month, and you punctuate it, you tell your story and then you punctuate it with, and it made me think, and then you allow space to sit.

[00:08:32] And so you allow that story to land on the listeners. And this one, gentlemen, we come to this one man in the circle and he shares his story about his son. Who's been going through chemotherapy. No one on that team knew no one. And that to me blew my mind like this poor man has been holding this. Painful thing and [00:09:00] expected to work and expected to show up and to do his job.

[00:09:05] And that was. A moment for me where I went, I, this is important. This is what I am doing. This work, not, I, more people need to be doing this work. More people need to be going into organizations and using these tools of the theater and of improv to help open up the hearts and the minds of the individuals that are doing this work.

[00:09:29] I just got the bug and I just kept doing it from there on, and I started doing it on my own with Meredith granddad coaching. And within that, I was also. Invited by Dennis I'll give him credit. He was like, I've got this CEO, please help him with his presentation. He has to give at this big conference, I've got this guy over here who needs to level up his executive presence.

[00:09:49] I've got this person over here and I would yes. And things. And I think it's a Tina Fey quote, but she was like say yes and figure out the rest later, which is kind of what [00:10:00] I felt like I was doing. And it's led me to. This wonderfully PA this wonderful path that I'm on. And I haven't looked back and I don't think I will.

[00:10:10] I mean, I, I, what was it? What am I trying to say here? That was a rough drafted thought. Anyway. That's, that's how I got here.

[00:10:19] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. That's fantastic. And so much of what you said. To me, what I heard it it's I heard courage. It was, that was one of the things that, that I, it seems like you help people bring out, you know, have sort of pull themselves into themselves, but then have the courage to express to actually say what's on their mind or do what they want to do and be more of themselves, especially in corporate situations.

[00:10:56] And the first thing that we started talking about that you mentioned was [00:11:00] improv. And I would love it because I have a whole list of questions based on what you just said. There's a ton. And what, what is improv? What, what is improvisational theater? What is improv? Because people's bandy the term around, but I'm not sure how many people, I actually know what it means, what it is and what it can do for you.

[00:11:21] Meridith Grundei: That's a great question. So improv, I will start off with the one thing that people most commonly can relate to when I describe it in front of a group, which is, I always referenced, like, have you seen whose line is it anyway? And then people, I see a bunch of people nodding up and down and I'm nodding up and down as I'm sharing this story with you right now.

[00:11:43] So that would be the first context to do it. Yeah. Whose line is it? Anyway, they have a structure, a game, if you will. And within that game. So the structure are the quote unquote and I'm doing air quotes are the rules, right? [00:12:00] And you make things up on the spot within that structure though. So the structure gives you some guidelines.

[00:12:06] So that's what I do is I teach people. Games, these exercises, these activities. However you want to frame that that best fits for you. I give them these games that they work within so that they can see. The magic that happens afterwards. Right. And I give them other tools, like the foundation of improvisation is this idea of yes.

[00:12:31] And so when we, yes, and somebody's idea, we can further the storyline. We can add to the idea we can. Find that moment of agreement. Right? And so with that tool and within these structures, these games that I give them, we're able to make discoveries about ourselves within the context of the game. So for example, to me, the applied improv piece is the [00:13:00] magic is in the debrief.

[00:13:01] Right. So what did you notice come up for you when you were put in this situation? What feelings. We're in your body when this happened. What did you notice in your communication when this happened? What is it that you would do differently next time? If we were to do this exercise again, where you making eye contact were you breathing?

[00:13:25] Oftentimes when we feel stressed out or anxiety, we hold our breath, right? Do these exercises up on our feet. So it's a full body experience off, we spend so much time sitting down that I think that physical engagement that sematic kinesthetic engagement is incredibly important as well. So that I hope answers the question, what is improv, and it's also an amazing opportunity to get people to just laugh together.

[00:13:57] You're laughing together. You're getting amazing [00:14:00] insights on your own communication skills. You're building trust. And there are no real world consequences within the containers. So we're not going to like some multi-billion dollar organization is not going to implode because we're doing improv game.

[00:14:16] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I certainly hope not.

[00:14:18] That would be one heck of an improv game if you do that.

[00:14:21] Meridith Grundei: Wow. Wow.

[00:14:24] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And you rubbed your hands together right there. You did. I did

[00:14:27] Meridith Grundei: put finger thing.

[00:14:30] Izolda Trakhtenberg: So that's, that's a, that's a fabulous, that's a fabulous encapsulation of what improv is and something that, that sparked from you when you said that was the questions that you asked the debrief, as you put it.

[00:14:42] If you're calling on people and correct me if I'm wrong here, it seems like you're calling on people to have a, a deeper awareness of self of who they are, of where they are of what's happening inside them. And often we don't, we don't, we tend to think outwardly, you know, we tend to [00:15:00] go, oh, this is, this is on my to-do list today.

[00:15:03] This is, these are the things that I have to get done. This is the work that I have to do, but we don't tend to spend a lot of time. Internally and going, what about the work I'm doing on myself? So it sounds like there's an invitation inherent in what you're doing for people to work on themselves. And I'm wondering, how does, how does that work for you?

[00:15:22] How do you, how do you employ that? And if you do specifically and what are the results that you get at the end of the process?

[00:15:32] Meridith Grundei: Oh, that's a, that's a great question. Yeah. I think it's the way that I guide people through things that I give them the invitation to drop in and think in those ways. And I do always call it an invitation.

[00:15:46] I don't try to force things upon people. I think it's important for people to make their own discoveries. And so I, I repeat myself a lot in the debrief. So touch in, you know, [00:16:00] I have an Allen Ginsburg quote that I like to use often, which is notice what you notice. And then I feel like the more that I can repeat back, the things that I'm inviting people to do, whether they make those discoveries in the room or on the zoom room, if you will, these days, but in the room with me.

[00:16:19] Great. But they may not make those discoveries until a month later when they're sitting at their desk. And something happens that triggers a response or a strong emotion, and then they can reflect back to that exercise. So I think that there's time and space for integration with these things and the repetition can help with that.

[00:16:41] I hope that answered the first part of your question. Can you repeat the second part of your question? Sure.

[00:16:45] Izolda Trakhtenberg: The, the second part was actually really about. Like you said they might notice months later. I, I recently noticed something that I did in a theater class in college many, many years ago, and sort [00:17:00] of got an aha moment from that.

[00:17:01] And I'm wondering when you go through the process in the moment, if you have any stories about those results so that you can see them. So that they're like the, the gentlemen whose whose son had, who was going through chemo. The people there were changed, right? The results were pretty immediate by hearing his story.

[00:17:21] And I'm wondering, I guess I'm, I'm being a little bit, you know, I'm being a little shameless cause I'm like, tell me, tell me the results, Meredith good stuff, you know, but

[00:17:30] Meridith Grundei: fair enough. You know, but,

[00:17:32] Izolda Trakhtenberg: but it's, it's because I think we don't spend a lot of time in that space. Wow, this, this has changed me. And let me spend a little time figuring out how it has changed me.

[00:17:44] So in those, in those spaces, when you're cause you're holding space for people to be themselves, which I love what, what are the profound results, small and large in those processes?

[00:17:57] Meridith Grundei: Yeah, that's a really great question. I think there are [00:18:00] multiple ones. One is how you work collectively as a team. And that's why I think the work is important to do.

[00:18:07] And I think that's why leadership needs to show up too, you know, because oftentimes I've noticed that leadership will set something up for their team management will and then management won't be there. So all of these people have learned their team has learned this like great news. Tools and then management isn't there.

[00:18:25] So that first off I was just wanting to say the collective whole is super important. I think in order for a transformation to happen and to see the actual results For me, it's about, for example, seeing the results, how do you organize a meeting? Right. So because of some of the tools in the, in the debrief, we find out where some of the pain points are and how they can be solved through those exercises.

[00:18:51] So if you're in an it, for example, in an ideation phase, or you're a part of an agile or scrum group or your, whatever the industry [00:19:00] might be, and you're in that first infant stages of creating. When everyone in the group has this idea of what yes. And is and how it can be applicable, it shifts things.

[00:19:11] Let's get all the ideas up on the whiteboard or on the post-it notes. And let's see what emerges without saying no. There will be room for no later there will be room for, I see this. And can we do this later? Just get all the ideas out there because what that also does is it creates a room of inclusivity.

[00:19:31] So all voices get to be heard. Nobody is being cut off. Nobody is being told. No all ideas are good ideas at that moment in time, because what happens is in ideation in brainstorming and creativity. We want to it's so often that we want to look at, what's not working first and I'm a big fan of looking at like, well, let's look at what is working and let's get it all out there because whatever, if, if this, if you have an [00:20:00] instant to a, no, that no actually might inspire the idea that does work.

[00:20:05] Does that make sense? Absolutely.

[00:20:07] Izolda Trakhtenberg: No, it absolutely. It does. And it's interesting because. As I'm listening to you, I'm going the people who are actually doing the work, nobody knows their job better than they do. You know, nobody knows what you do better than you do. So if you're going to ask for ideas and make the caveat that there are no bad ones, just throw them out.

[00:20:30] Some of those people have never been heard from before. And it sounds like you're giving them the, the, the stage, if you will, the opportunity. And then they can. Present their own. I do something similar with some of the workshops I do giving space so that people who aren't often heard from can, can have their say.

[00:20:50] And I love what you said about leadership being invited and almost mandatory show up folks, because that presents an opportunity for [00:21:00] them to, to see some of those ideas that they otherwise might not see. Right.

[00:21:06] Meridith Grundei: Yeah, exactly. And they also get to see the dynamics of the. They get to see how people work together in these different situations that they may not be able to see in the day-to-day grind of the work.

[00:21:20] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Yeah, absolutely. And that's so interesting. So talk to me about team dynamics. What is that? What is team dynamics? You mentioned it a couple of times and I'd love to hear what your thoughts are on exactly what it is and how we can use it specifically, because this is the innovative mindset podcast. How can we use it to innovate?

[00:21:37] How can we use it to think.

[00:21:40] Meridith Grundei: Yeah. Well, the first place that I go to is using each other's different sets of skills as an asset. Right. And so that we look at, so I'll just bring it back to like what Dennis works with with the different personality types. We all have different ways of seeing and approaching an idea or a problem [00:22:00] solving and finding a solution to something.

[00:22:03] Right. My husband and I could not be more different in how we problem solve something, but it's how we choose to work together and communicate in order to solve that problem. And so what I really appreciate about using these, like I said before, they have no real world what's the word I'm looking for?

[00:22:23] No consequences. Thank you. Ding, ding, ding. They have no real world consequences, right? But what it does is it really helps bring to the surface, these different personality types, and rather getting frustrated with that person who might be more on the execution thing and, or getting more, really uptight around that person.

[00:22:42] The out of the box, creative thinker, it's like, how do you take those two different personality types and put them together so that they can actually work efficiently and effectively together and see each other's different types of personality types as an asset to the, to solving a problem. So when I talk about team [00:23:00] dynamics, I mean that, to me, it's about, yes, and-ing each other, seeing each other and ourselves.

[00:23:05] Brilliance and how they can all fit together so that we can be effective and efficient with our day to day work and tasks and show each other mutual respect and honor each other's differences.

[00:23:19] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I love that. You just said that last part because that's one of the things that I find happens is that. That can sometimes be missing that, that, that respecting that other people think differently and that not only is it okay, but it's to be celebrated because they can come at it from a perspective.

[00:23:35] Yeah. You may not have seen. So let me ask you a strange question and maybe it's not a strange question. I imagine there are times when you're doing one of these workshops that you meet resistance from the people and all

[00:23:51] Meridith Grundei: that die. Yeah. I, I, I

[00:23:54] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I'm like, yeah, this is kind of a

[00:23:55] Meridith Grundei: silly question. Not a strange question at all.

[00:23:58] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And so, you know, [00:24:00] because some people given the room to play, maybe of playing, if you see what I mean. So I'm wondering what, when you meet resistance, how. What are the innovative ways that you encourage invite, inspire people to, to let go of the fear a little, or maybe to push through the fear? I'm not sure what, what, what your way is in order to actually get the best out of the expense.

[00:24:29] Meridith Grundei: Yeah, I think it's a wonderful question. And I will say the most resistant resistance that I am met with is usually at the very beginning, I walk into the room and I oftentimes get the, who is this person what's happening? Why are we forced to do this? Like, you can just feel the energy in the room is palpable.

[00:24:47] And and it's not all the time. I mean, sometimes you've got the one person in the room that's like, I love improv. Like, thank God for you being in the room. Right. And And so what happens is pretty [00:25:00] quickly, I have everyone gathered in a circle. I have them push their chairs back and, you know, if I can get into the room to arrange it the way that I would like it to, to be the best learning experience possible for everyone, I do that sometimes I can't do that.

[00:25:13] So it's a little bit of a rearranging, right. And in that moment, I'm warming myself up. I'm introducing myself to people. I'm giving them eye contact. I'm making sure they know that I'm not as scary. I don't look scary to, to begin with. I'm like, Three and I weigh a hundred pounds, so they're scared of me.

[00:25:28] That's a bigger issue. But so then I gather people do a circle and we S we do, you know, some gradual warmups and and I get to know who they are. They get to know me. And what happens is quite. It's beautiful. I will say it's just beautiful. Is that somehow within that timeframe within the first 30 minutes of being there, I have given them permission to play and it's as if no one else has given them that permission in a really long [00:26:00] time.

[00:26:01] And I can't tell you it's the most wonderful, beautiful shift that I have ever experienced. Is with people who are non-performers, who have no idea what they're about to get into. And then all of a sudden they understand it and they're like, oh my God, I get to just play for three hours. Awesome. And so that is usually I will say That's most of my experiences, every so often you'll get the one person it's usually one person and I hate to say it, but it's usually a guy who has a lot of resistance.

[00:26:37] And so I, there it's a fine balance, right? Because you don't want that person to take up air time for everybody else. You don't want to, so it's a delicate balance of agreement and saying, let's take a risk here and let's look at your own stuff. And oftentimes it, [00:27:00] it works out. Okay. Right. And I'm a big fan of doing, I touch back into and I, and I noticed these things and I feel.

[00:27:07] I might send an email and do a check-in with that person later. Or I might check in with their management later because I do care and I want to know where the resistance is living in the body and, or in the mind and or with past experiences. Because even though the work is playful, even though we are having a good time with each other, it can still bring up stuff for people.

[00:27:28] It just. Sure. We're humans. So with, with lots of layers and somehow within that layers of that onion, there was one that I really, I got out with some people, so putting care and love into it.

[00:27:44] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I love again, I love that you said that I'm going to just say that after everything you say, and it's interesting what you were talking about.

[00:27:52] Like every once in a while, the person with real resistance, I find that digging deeper means that they are. That they're a [00:28:00] frustrated performer or that they were told that they shouldn't speak or should, or, or don't have talent or skills in the very thing that they want to do, which is be out there with, with the bad cells.

[00:28:11] And so there's this, there's this confidence piece and there's a, there's a vulnerability piece to that, to what I'm hearing you talk about that I would love to explore for a minute. What I know you've already mentioned that. Lots of vulnerability, even though we're playing. And even though we're having a good time, there's, there's a real vulnerability to, to stepping into the limelight.

[00:28:34] Well, and when, when someone does, I'm sure that you've had lots of stories about that, but when they do that, how does, how do you handle it and how does the rest of the group. Transform because it's not just the individual person that transforms. I imagine the rest of the group transforms also when someone is really vulnerable.

[00:28:58] Yeah. [00:29:00]

[00:29:01] Meridith Grundei: That's a really good question. I'm trying to think. Well, I keep going back to that one story. There's a couple of stories that have popped into my head. I think. In those moments for me, I think each situation is different. So I do adapt according to each of the situations. And I might have, for example, a game that follows the exercise that we just did. And for me as the coach, as the facilitator, it's important to know what to let go of for the betterment of the whole.

[00:29:32] And so there have been a couple times where I've had to let go of my agenda. So that I could best meet the group with where they're at. And and I'm not overly transparent about that. I just go with the flow and then we, we spend our attention in that place. And then there's an opportunity for further dialogue.

[00:29:55] And I, I always do feel that it is the way that the rules of engagement that are set up before. Right. [00:30:00] Are helpful in facilitating this as well, because I come from a place of, I want to hear, I want to hear from you what feels true. I want to hear what's working. And then I want to hear where you have curiosities around this feeling or within this exercise that we just had that came up for you.

[00:30:20] The feelings that you have are completely valid and they're yours. There nobody else's so let's all figure this out together and let's find a way to communicate this that feels safe. And so I, I hope that answered your question. Did it?

[00:30:39] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Yes, it did. Good. Funny about the show is that the, a lot of the feedback that I get from the shows that wow, these conversations go so deep and we do so.

[00:30:52] Yes, you answered.

[00:30:54] Meridith Grundei: Well, you know, I had another story that popped in my head as it was a disaster story where we, it was a [00:31:00] huge organization and the person who organized it was going through a lot of stuff. And so it was not organized very, very well at all. And I ha I was met with serious resistance and then the, or the, I heard the client was not happy.

[00:31:17] And so in that moment, I literally. Everything rallied the troops and was like, we, because there was six of us on this gig and I was responsible for having brought in like five of the six of us, all of us. I was responsible for bringing in these people. And I was like, we need to shift gears. And we had to do a whole, like, we changed the whole curriculum, the whole thing, everything because of what, what happened.

[00:31:43] And I think that's. You know, I think that's something improv has taught me is to be adaptable, be in the moment, be a problem solver. If you dig in your heels, it's not because you had one thing planned and it's not working out the way that you think it's going to work out. Then [00:32:00] you're going to be in a lot of trees.

[00:32:01] A lot. And so I have learned so often you just got to sometimes say, yep, you're right. This isn't working. And now we're going to figure out a new solution to this. And I am so grateful for that tool.

[00:32:17] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And it's a great tool because if you are not adaptable, you're pushing up a really heavy Boulder

[00:32:22] Meridith Grundei: up there.

[00:32:23] Oh my God. It's some people think they're adaptable. And I got to say, you're not, I'm so sorry, but you're not being there with them all. Yeah.

[00:32:30] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And that, that can be a tough, a tough nut to swallow. Right. So, so I, you know, it's interesting, we've been talking a lot about courage and talking about confidence and in its relationship to, to the teams that you work with within, within a presentation.

[00:32:48] And I'm wondering if there's something you, you mentioned way earlier that you got drawn to helping people be themselves. In certain kinds of [00:33:00] situations in whether it's corporate or not, but you're, you, you said you were drawn to helping people and I'm wondering what, what draws you to helping people become better at not just the, oh, we're working well as a team, but at public speaking and presenting and being up in front of others and telling their own story, like what, what draws you about that and how do you do that?

[00:33:25] Meridith Grundei: Hmm. Thank you. I have always just maybe it's I w I went to church camp a lot as a kid, and then I ended up becoming a camp counselor and all of these things. And I feel like I just, from a very young age, loved teaching and loved helping other people find their voices. And I feel like, you know, partly it's because, you know, In my childhood.

[00:33:52] And when I was more, in my teenage years, I have a father who had PTSD and I found it tremendously difficult to have a [00:34:00] voice in my family to be heard. And so I think that I am very sensitive to other people who also struggle with being heard in the way they want to. And so I would say that would probably be the core of the root of it.

[00:34:14] And I am a huge advocate of mentorship. I, I love. I just feel like it's so important, especially in this day and age too, to help lift the voices of others, to tell them that yes, they can achieve whatever they want to achieve, that they can, that they can they can overcome adversity. And that just feels, it just lights me up.

[00:34:38] It just, it really does. I guess that's the best answer I have for you is I can't imagine myself doing anything else, but working with people I'm I am quite the empath, like some too, sometimes to a fault right. Where I'm like, I overthink things, [00:35:00] but I really, I do care about people. I really do care about their experiences and making sure that they have a voice in the room and in this world,

[00:35:09] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And again, I love that.

[00:35:11] See this, I've just kept saying that. And I, and I am not at all surprised that you're an empath and being able to do that, being so able to be sensitive to the place where other people are, what they're feeling, what they're, what they're perhaps thinking all of that. It changes how you relate to them. And if someone.

[00:35:36] A real fear. Like I used to have a phobia, not, not that, not that you can tell now, since I'm all over the place, as far as speaking, but I used to have a real phobia of public speaking from learning English as a fourth language and being terrified. And I, I worked through it. I overcame it and now I'm out there presenting all the time and I'm actually grateful to that time.

[00:35:59] It [00:36:00] helped me understand what other people are going through when they're afraid. And so when you're, when you're coaching someone to improve their skills at presenting, or if they have a presentation that they have to do, and they're terrified, what do you do to help them?

[00:36:19] Meridith Grundei: Yes. Well, I, I first, I always start with where they're at and where they wanna go. And how they want to be seen. And. I am. My philosophy is to give as many tools as I possibly can, because I don't think it's a one size fits all for everybody. I think that with as many tools as I can possibly give them, they can find what works best for them.

[00:36:45] Right? So the tools that I will provide science, our breathing exercises, physical exercises, because the mind body connection is incredibly important. The heart centered mind. The connection [00:37:00] is important. I give them different tools on how to prepare, right? How to practice. Cause there's more than one way to practice.

[00:37:10] There is no set acronym. That's going to teach you how to become an amazing person pro you know rehearsal. Is that even a word? I'm sure it's true today. It is. And so. I just feel that what I have found over time is that people would tell me, this is how you do it. This is how it's done. And then I would go back like, as an actor, I would get all of these, this input on how I was supposed to practice or how I was supposed to memorize my lines or how I was supposed to, how I was supposed to do this, do this, do this.

[00:37:41] And I'd noticed that no one ever gave me permission to sit back and try to figure out what worked for me. Right because everyone has an opinion, everyone's opinion is going to be different from the last person's opinion. That's just the way it is. So you really giving that permission for [00:38:00] people to find what works for them and giving them enough tools to be able to do that.

[00:38:10] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I'm taking it in for a second. Sorry. I like. Take a second and really synthesize what I've just heard.

[00:38:22] the thing, the key for me of what you just said is that it's a two-pronged approach. The, what is that you need to do. And then here are the tools to help you do it. Like what world, what will work for you may not work for anybody else. Right? What works for me may not work for anybody else, but giving permission.

[00:38:44] And not just you giving them permission, but them giving themselves permission to explore, I think is so crucial. And how do you, how do you innovate that? How do you encourage people who might have a phobia? Like, like I used to, [00:39:00] to give themselves permission, not just to play, but to go deep and explore into who they are and.

[00:39:08] What is it that they want to say what their messages?

[00:39:12] Meridith Grundei: Yeah. I'll give you an exact example of one thing. So I have this group called confidently confidently speaking, which is a group coaching on mighty networks thing that I put together and it's only a month old and I do a Q and a, so it's it's four weeks or.

[00:39:30] Every it's for me. Yes. Every month, each week I have a jeez Louise each week, I have a different focus. And on the fourth week of the month, I do a Q and a, and that feels important to me so that people can ask their questions and they can also provide me feedback so that I can better grow the community.

[00:39:48] And what I heard from the last Q and a. Is, there was some struggle with feeling confidence around being in front of the camera and being in front of the camera in communicating your message and your brand is huge. And we're [00:40:00] getting more and more on video. I mean, I think things are going to turn more in that direction than ever before.

[00:40:07] And so I heard all of that and I said, okay, Well, then we're going to do a 30 day video challenge. And if three of you sign up, I'm going to do it with you because it's important that you see that I'm going to go and do this alongside of you. And we're all going to learn together. And then we're going to come together at the end of this 30 day challenge.

[00:40:28] And we're going to share what we learned when we started and where we're at, and we're going to share where we're at now. And I think. That gives people permission to go, wow, my coach is doing this alongside of me because I always have something to learn too. I'm not, I'm not like a master at all of these things.

[00:40:49] You know, I mean, there are masters, but masters in something. Educating themselves and learning. And it also helps people feel like they're not alone in, in [00:41:00] this growth period in their life. And that's why I like the group coaching and that peer to peer support piece of it is because you can really quickly see I'm not the only one that feels this way, that there's still a lot of work to be done.

[00:41:14] And and it's okay that I'm at where I'm at. Right.

[00:41:19] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Yeah, absolutely. And it's interesting. There's a, there's a wonderful book by Pema Chodron. I love him the children. Oh, yay. I love her work and I love the book title almost more than I love the book. It's start where you are. I just think that's so it's so simple and so profound at the same time that giving yourself permission to start where you are and not judging yourself for.

[00:41:46] Not being further along than you are, you know? So, so have you done the full 30 days yet? How, how have the stories been about the people who have taken the challenge on. We

[00:41:59] Meridith Grundei: [00:42:00] are on day two, we just started, we just started. It's pretty awesome. And there's a, there's a couple people that I was not expecting that totally jumped in and I am so excited.

[00:42:14] I'm so excited that it just gets, I just, I am just thrilled to pieces when people take the risk and I've given them the platform to do so. Like we did A story exercise a couple of weeks ago. And a couple people chose to put their stories on video. I said, you know what? However you need to tell that story, tell it if it's typing it and sending it to us in a document.

[00:42:38] If it's putting it on video, just tell your story. So I think again, it's giving them the permission to use it. There's no right. There's no one way to do something.

[00:42:50] Izolda Trakhtenberg: Yeah. Absolutely. You know, it's one of my, one of my favorite things on a circle you can get to the center [00:43:00] point from an infinite number of places.

[00:43:02] And that is that to me is says so much and there is no. No, that's not true. I will say that there are wrong ways, like forgetting to turn your camera off yeah. On or off or whatever, you know? Sure.

[00:43:15] Meridith Grundei: But at

[00:43:15] Izolda Trakhtenberg: the same time, so yeah. Cause I've done that I've done, I've recorded entire podcast episodes without having turned on the recording equipment.

[00:43:24] So, so that has happened and, and yet it's, it's a Mo it's a teaching and a learning opportunity for you.

[00:43:32] Meridith Grundei: Yes, I was just going to ask, but what did you learn from that? Exactly. What did you do different next time? So yeah, now I have a

[00:43:38] Izolda Trakhtenberg: checklist hanging over my desk. It says, these are the things you have to do.

[00:43:41] And again, that that's, that to me is a really important piece of what you're doing is that you don't have to be perfect. You have to be where you are, you know, wherever you are and if you can stretch yourself. That's great. So, so within that, is there a place that someone can go to, to go? [00:44:00] I want to learn from.

[00:44:02] Where should they go to do that? To find.

[00:44:06] Meridith Grundei: Yeah, thank you for asking that question. I can be found in a few places. One is Grund di and that's G R U N as in Nancy, D as in dog, E Meredith. Yeah, granddad And then. Confidently, it's hosted on mighty networks.

[00:44:28] So you could also look through mighty networks. And then I have my performance. I still am a performer on Meredith grand And my name is spelled with two eyes. It's M E R I D I T H And then of course, LinkedIn and all the socials. I'm not on Facebook though. I got off base. What's driving me batty.

[00:44:48] Izolda Trakhtenberg: I hear you. That that is one of those things and there's, I could keep you here for the next six hours. I know. I love

[00:44:57] Meridith Grundei: talking to you. It's so much fun. You ask me your [00:45:00] questions. I'm like, I love your question. And I'm like, did I answer it? I hope I answered it. You're

[00:45:07] Izolda Trakhtenberg: fabulous. Yes, you absolutely have.

[00:45:09] There's there's a couple more questions. If you have time. First of all, I was honored to be on your podcast recently. So much fun. So I'm really glad that you were able to come and join me here on, on, in an innovative mindset. So I'm, the podcast is called. Are you waiting for permission that you cohost with a wonderful gentleman named Joseph Bennett?

[00:45:31] And I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about what the podcast is and what permission people might be waiting for?

[00:45:41] Meridith Grundei: Yeah, the, so the podcast is. Inspired by Joseph on a Sunday. I think about four months ago, it's only four months old and the crazy wow. He said he woke up and he's like, I want to do a podcast with Meredith.

[00:45:56] And so he called me and I said, sure, let's do a podcast. [00:46:00] And we came up with this title. Are you waiting for permission? Joseph, I think was reading a book and it was a line in a book and I said, perfect. This is that. Yes. And it is intended for creatives and artists who. Stopped waiting for permission.

[00:46:17] And so they started giving themselves permission to live the life that they want and to create the work that they want and to follow their dreams. And we, our intention with the podcast is we really want our listeners. To see that there are multiple ways that they can to give themselves permission to follow their dreams.

[00:46:41] And we even have one listener who quit her job. She said, I listened to your podcast. And that was it. I had this email sitting in the inbox for two years and I finally sent it and I quit my job that I was miserable at. Wow. And. That, that was really, and we, of course, we had to interview her on [00:47:00] our podcast and we did, and that will be released in the next few weeks.

[00:47:03] But that is our, that is our hope with the podcast is to keep encouraging people, to take leaps of faith, to take risk and to give themselves permission. And through that, we give resources, we answer questions now for people on the podcast as well. And we invite. You know, guests like yourself who are dynamic humans that have also carved a path.

[00:47:27] Izolda Trakhtenberg: And it's a fabulous podcast. If you're not listening, you should go super subscribe, just like right now. And that's that? No, it is. I enjoy it. I enjoy it because. It's like you called yourself a multi-passionate person, but also the guests tend to be multi-passionate and tend to want to explore different avenues.

[00:47:50] And I am about, I am. Multi-passionate, doesn't begin to cover all of that, that I try to do. And I've [00:48:00] decided for myself that it's not do what you love for me. Love what you're doing while you're doing it. And that's, that's, that's, that's my solution to that whole conundrum. And so I'm, I'm really glad that you, that you both started this show because I find that I'm learning and I'm having a good time.

[00:48:22] And often you, you get podcasts where you have one or the other maybe, but not both. And yours. Yours does both, which I think is great. And I think that's what you're doing with the work that you're doing is that people. Yes, you're, you're calling on them to be vulnerable and have, and have courage, and you're giving them a space to play and explore who they are.

[00:48:45] And I think that's amazing. So thank you so much for doing the work that you're doing. I really it's necessary in this world, so I'm really glad you're out there doing. Yeah, no,

[00:48:53] Meridith Grundei: thank you.

[00:48:55] Izolda Trakhtenberg: So Meredith I have one last question and by the way, all of the, all of the. [00:49:00] Social media and all of the ways to contact you will be in the show notes as well, but people learn differently.

[00:49:05] So I like to give both both ways of seeing or multiple ways of seeing the information or hearing the information. And I have one last question that I ask everybody who comes on the show and FIA, it's a silly question, but I find that it can yield some, some profound answers. So the question is this.

[00:49:24] If you had an airplane that could sky write anything for the whole world to see. What would you say?

[00:49:31] Meridith Grundei: Just

[00:49:32] Izolda Trakhtenberg: breathe.

[00:49:37] I love that. I love that. So that's a great what a great answer. Yes. So important. So important. I, I like to say that you can live. Three weeks without food, you can last three days without water, but you can only last three minutes without air. So is crucial,

[00:49:54] Meridith Grundei: crucial. It is so crucial and we don't do it enough.

[00:49:59] We hold our [00:50:00] breath so

[00:50:01] Izolda Trakhtenberg: much. Yeah. And, and one of the things that's most interesting to me about the theater that I was an English drama major in college. And one of the things that was most interesting to me was when I first started really learning. How to use breath to perform, to, to play. I play violin.

[00:50:22] So breathing is not, it's not a woodwind or brass instrument or whatever, but at the same time breathing as part of singing, breathing is part of doing anything, gives yourself space as well as being nourishing for your, for your body and your mind and your spirit. So I'm so grateful that you said that.

[00:50:42] What a wonder. Way of looking at it. Meredith I'm super grateful that you took the time to be on the show. I thank you so much for being.

[00:50:51] Meridith Grundei: Oh, thank you so much for having me as old. I have, I, this has been a wonderful conversation, so thank you. And I hope you'll come back. Oh, I will [00:51:00] hope you come back to our podcast too.

[00:51:01] I'd be delighted.

[00:51:03] Izolda Trakhtenberg: So we started the episode giggling and we're finishing again.

[00:51:07] Meridith Grundei: Yes. I love it. Big fan. I love it. I love it.

[00:51:11] Izolda Trakhtenberg: You have coming to the innovative mindset podcast. My name is Izolda Trakhtenberg. This has been a fabulous conversation with Meredith grandad, and I hope that you will check out both confidently speaking.

[00:51:24] And are you waiting for permission and all the other incredible work that Meredith is doing? If you're enjoying these episodes, please do me a favor rate and review the show. I'd love to hear from you about what you're thinking about the show where it's going. Very soon on July. No, actually this, this air is way after we've already celebrated our 400th episode.

[00:51:43] Can you believe a hundred episodes? Amazing. I'm super good. Yeah, it's exciting. So I hope that you're enjoying the show and I will remind you to listen, learn, laugh, and love a whole lot.[00:52:00]

[00:52:02] Thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate you being here. Please subscribe to the podcast if you're new and if you like what you're hearing, please review it and rate it and let other people know. If you'd like to be a sponsor of the show. I'd love to meet you on mindset.

[00:52:20] I also have lots of exclusive goodies to share just with the show supporters. Today's episode was produced by Izolda Trakhtenberg and his copyright 2021 as always. Please remember, this is for educational and entertainment purposes. Only past performance does not guarantee future results, although we can always hope until next time, keep living in your innovative minds.

* I am a affiliate. If you purchase it through the above links and take the 20% off, I’ll get a small commission. And please remember, I’ll never recommend a product or service I don’t absolutely love!

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