Thurston Economic Development Council Board Member Tony Taylor inspires others to find their voice through business and entrepreneurship


OOrders are powerful, and we each have a unique voice and a story to tell. Tony Taylor, owner of Speak University and co-founder of the Leaders Lead podcast, is on a mission to help fellow entrepreneurs and professionals find their voice and discover the confidence to share it with the world. As the newest board member of the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC), he looks forward to supporting their efforts to empower businesses big and small in Washington so they too can ignite their passions in life. .

Tony joined the Thurston EDC Board of Directors in 2022 and is excited about the opportunities ahead. His vision is to spread EDC’s message to help bring essential resources to other business owners. Photo courtesy: Tony Taylor

Thurston EDC Board Member Turns Fear of Public Speaking Into Passion

Tony was not always a renowned and refined speaker. For many years he feared the spotlight and dreaded public presentations throughout his career. “It was so bad that I was sweating right before meetings from social anxiety,” Tony recalls. “I finally realized I had a lot to say, and it wouldn’t do me any good to keep it in my head.” For Tony, it was about overcoming that fear for the greater good and bringing important ideas and conversations to life with his voice.

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

Tony’s drive to educate others about this new skill prompted him to start his own educational company Speak University. “We come and run workshops, classes, experiences, the brand new,” Tony shares. “People these days realize that communication is the key to so many things, not just speaking in public, but also in writing, sending things to the public and using your voice. That’s the whole story .” In his work, Tony has been impressed and fulfilled by the aspirations of his students and finds great meaning in empowering them to discover their own individual voice in their professional lives. The impact each story can have grows exponentially as more people begin to understand how to successfully use their voice and words to promote change and progress.

Leaders Lead Podcast

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

Tony also wrote and self-published Amazon’s #1 national bestseller “A Lion’s Pride: The scars hat silenced kings”, which is an anthology of men – called Lions – who continue to share their struggles and journeys. individual in these moving and powerful stories. “It was so cathartic,” he says. “There’s a stigma around men saying they’re in pain and hurt, but here everyone has told their story and the truth about what really hurt them.” This passionate project was cultivated through Tony’s professional network via LinkedIn, where more than 1,000 people responded to his request to collect and present these untold stories. The final story in the book is from Tony himself, reflecting and sharing his own personal truth of suffering, struggling, and overcoming through his life.

Tony Taylor helps create business owners

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

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

“I think everyone should know what EDC is doing in this community,” shares Tony. “I was lacking so many resources when I started and I still suffer today because of the information I didn’t know I was lacking. It’s about community, communication and letting people know what they’re doing. Many companies can encounter difficulties at any stage of their development, whether in the start-up phase or during rapid growth. For Tony, there is endless opportunity to grow local and surrounding business communities and support other entrepreneurs in whatever areas they need through Thurston’s EDC and his own professional endeavors.

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

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