ABOUT THE CO-FOUNDERS
Janet Zaretsky and Andrew Poles are the co-founders of the Impact Speaking Lab. Together they have over 37 years of experience in leading personal development and leadership seminars and training thousands of people to make an impact when they speak. Their personal journeys to become world-class speakers took years of cultivation and honing and lead them both to the same conclusion:
Everyone has a natural ability to speak powerfully, to be heard and to galvanize others into immediate action. It’s their ability to connect– with their message, themselves and others, that unlocks that inherent ability.
The Impact Speaking Lab was created out of Janet and Andrew’s deep desire to contribute to the world by teaching others to make the difference that only they can make through their speaking. They have distilled their years of experience and wisdom into a simple, yet powerful, system that allows their students to have extraordinary breakthroughs in their public speaking and presenting ability.
What took Janet and Andrew decades to master, now only takes their students two days to achieve when they participate in the Impact Speaking Lab.
Learn more about Janet and Andrew’s personal journeys:
Janet’s dream of traveling and speaking began when she was in elementary school and discovered that she had a gift for public speaking. But six years later, when she was a freshman in high school, her dreams were crushed after she endured a humiliating experience in her public speaking class.
Twenty-five years later as the chairperson for a charity event, she was called on to say a few words. Still traumatized by her high school experience, she turned to her boss and said, “I hate public speaking!”.
As she walked up to the stage, she tripped and fell flat on her face. And even though she got up and laughed it off, the fear of looking like a fool and doing something wrong had been confirmed and she was committed to never speak in public again.
Fast forward 12 years, Janet now had a thriving business coaching practice and was making a profound difference in the lives of her clients. Around that same time, she enrolled in a leadership course to acquire coaching skills that she could take into large corporations. It was during that course that she was once again faced with the challenge of speaking in front of the room. But this time, something was different. What mattered most to Janet was to impact the lives of others and she knew she could do that best by reclaiming her gift of public speaking.
She knew then, that despite her past experiences, she needed to face the fears that had ended her dream so many years ago. Still carrying a debilitating fear of public speaking, she got up to do her presentation. To her surprise, she got to the end of her presentation without being humiliated.
With several years of intense training in public speaking, she felt at ease speaking in front of a room. But now there was a new problem… no matter how much she prepared, her talks were hit or miss with her audience. It was unpredictable and frustrating. She wondered, “How can I nail it every time? What am I doing wrong?”.
It was then that Janet connected the dots. The first thing she started to understand was that talking in front of people had much less to do with what you say, and more to do with who you are for yourself; who is speaking.
Second, she had been studying neuroscience and learned that thoughts and emotions are simply brain patterns– or neural pathways– that can be re-patterned. Since thoughts and emotions literally shape who we are, if you re-pattern your neural pathways you change who you are.
Finally, Janet knew through her years of leadership training that to be an effective speaker you have to know your “why.” When you combine your why with the other two pieces you will consistently inspire and impact people with your message.
With all the pieces in place, Janet’s childhood dream of being an author and speaker had come into full bloom.
Now, nearly 25 years later, she has taken the TEDX stage twice and has helped tens of thousands of people unleash their brilliance, confidence and visibility in the world.
At the age of 13, Andrew knew that he wanted to be a writer and speaker and make an impact in the world. When he was in graduate school pursuing that dream, however, he became a father and had to turn his focus to being a dad, running a business and getting through the grind of daily life.
The turning point for Andrew came when one day he was in a personal development workshop and realized that his life had become about “surviving life.” That’s when he remembered that he had once had a dream, but in the process of doing everything he thought he needed to do to be a responsible father, he had given up on it.
At the same time, it seemed that everywhere Andrew looked, he was seeing the disheartening effects of disconnection between people. All the violence, racism and prejudice, the inequality… all of it was a symptom of human beings not being connected– with themselves or with each other.
He made the commitment to himself right then that he was going to pursue his childhood calling to write and speak in order to change what he saw. He started speaking by leading personal development seminars and also brought what he was learning into the business context in his sales and management presentations.
But following his dream of being a speaker also meant coming up against his own doubts that he could really make a difference. “Who am I to be talking about this?” “Why should anyone listen to me?”
He thought that all he needed was to get more focused– to prepare and practice more. And even though he noticed that he was getting better as a speaker, all his preparation wasn’t giving him consistent results, leaving him feeling frustrated and still questioning himself.
The defining moment came when Andrew noticed that there was one thing that consistently seemed to make a difference in his speaking– connecting to his message and his audience. When he learned how to make that connection an embodied experience, it was the change that altered everything in his speaking.
On top of that, he realized that his credibility and experience didn’t matter as much as he had previously thought. Yes, they contributed, but ultimately what actually mattered most was the connection he created with his audience, and with himself as someone who had something to say. It was so simple, and so powerful! He had cracked the code to having an unshakable presence every time he spoke. It was all about connection.
Finally, he felt a sense of freedom when he spoke in front of a room and instead of doubt, he was producing consistent, reliable results instead of hit-or-miss. And an unexpected result of his newfound discovery was that he was able to maintain poise and confidence whenever the heat was on.
He has since spoken to over 10,000 people all over North America. Now, Andrew’s passion is paying it forward by helping his clients and students have the same discovery he had — that speaking from a place of connection is what empowers each of us to be ourselves and be able to naturally make a difference in the world.