Build Rapport and Connect to Your Audience with Kieran Canisius

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Kieran Canisius is the CEO and Co-Founder of the three unique businesses Seuss Consulting, Seuss Recruitment and Zocket based in Amsterdam. Kieran is a vivid entrepreneur and career expert with more than sixteen years of industry experience. She received her master degree in Healthcare Administration/Management from Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Not only is Kieran a great leader, but she also has a passion for speaking at conferences on a variety of topics such as Entrepreneurship, Diversity and HR Tech. She knows how to engage the audience and how to convey her knowledge to them in the best possible way.

Victor Ahipene: Speaking nation. Welcome to another episode of public speaking secrets. I’m your host Victor Ahipene. Super excited to have you on today with our guest here and Canisius who is the CEO and cofounder of three different businesses. That’s all based off the back of her levels of ex~, areas of expertise. But we’re gonna find out a little bit about the businesses, but also how she’s been able to get on stages and position yourself as the expert and authority within her space. So welcome to the show, Karen.


Kieran Canisius: Thank you very much, victor. It’s lovely to be here.


Victor Ahipene: It’s like, give us all a bit of a background about your, like a quick background about you. Uh, what, what is your, your companies do and, uh, what is it exactly that you know, your, your background and then what you do these days.


Kieran Canisius: Okay. Yup. So I’m, my name is indeed. Yes, I’m American, but I have been living in the Netherlands for more than half my life now. So all of my higher education and work years have been now here in Europe. I founded initially it’s just consulting with my best friend. Um, because we want us to help fix the problem with an outsourcing within the pharmaceutical industry. And over the last few years, we’ve founded additional companies. We’re now part of a larger collective management consultant company that focuses on growth and change within life science companies. So it could be Pharma because we medical device biotech or all of the suppliers that we have here. And we focused on helping them build a sustainable business, which doesn’t always, doesn’t have to only do with the sales or commercial success, but also has to do with the people, the processes and infrastructure that you need to have to be able to survive the downs of, of entrepreneurship and building businesses in order to be able to catch the ride, the waves of up, um, in the next stages. So we work together with companies on their HR and recruitment as well. So recruiting end, making sure they have the infrastructure and process needed, who work on them without sourcing and procurement. So which suppliers do you need, um, to be successful, um, for the more with them on their marketing and their sales development. Um, and finally on a training and technology. So within those four pillars we help companies to be successful and sustainable for the long run and then all in life sciences.


Victor Ahipene: Nice. You are obviously thought of is one of the, the all your companies as well as the, the go tos, the experts within that. Would there their industry organizations come to you? They say, Hey, I need to grow. I need to get some stability. I need to get some, some of my life potentially back as well. Uh, how, how has, uh, and I mean a particularly like I see say public speaking is a big trust builder within yeah when you’re getting up in front of these organizations and obviously the, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry being able to, yeah, it’s a competitive landscape. Like yeah, it’s a multibillion dollar landscape that you’re, that you’re working with and people will all try and get that competitive advantage. Find people that they know, like, and trust. Uh, I guess like any industry, but how has, from when you first started out, how has public speaking, obviously we’re hit here to here for the weather, how has that helped with, with your business? Has it been a big growth factor or is it being something that you’ve, you know, as one of your pillars, the, in regards to marketing and for your own business?


Kieran Canisius: Yes. So to all of those questions. Yeah. So I love being on stage. It’s actually, it was poured into me from a, uh, from my childhood and my mother had her own ballet school and was a ballerina prior to that. So since I’ve been three years old, I am on stage and watching that creative process and in my university years, well actually singing in a band where I met my husband who was the guitar. It’s a place where I’m comfortable and where I have always got an energy form is to give something, give the audience something back for the fact that they pay attention to me on stage. Um, and I think that that’s, yes, it’s been a definite factor of our growth. We’re only six and a half years old. So I still see a little big, big trunk two to win as our company. In terms of being the go to, um, we are still one of the Go to but to our current clients and those we’ve worked with for the last six and a half years, some of them being on state definitely impacts their trust in what you’re talking about.


Um, it allows us, it gives us a podium to give opinions and challenge the status quo of what is happening in our industry. And it’s a really, I think is a really powerful way to connect with the audience members, those who are in the audience that actually believe in what you are saying or want help because they want to achieve what you’re trying to, to bring across. I hate presentations that are about sales. I think they are boring to listen to, but I 100% stand behind the belief that everyone, even if their goal is to sell something, they have something to teach an audience. There’s something that they know that not everyone else knows. So it’s not just a duty, but it’s actually a powerful tool to use to share that knowledge from whichever seat you sit, um, to give an audience member or the whole audience something that they didn’t know before that they know when they walk out of the room.


And it gives you as a founder or it gives you as a speaker, the potential to be identified by those audience members who actually see a need to change a, see they need help with change and want to talk about it with you. I, our business, a lot of our new clients that we’re not actually from our current network came from conferences, came from speaking engagements that we did. And it’s not that we had a hundred leads come from a thousand, uh, populated an audience popular by a thousand people. But it has given us those critical leads, uh, companies that are right now urgently trying to do something differently. Um, they feel connected with, with your story. MMM. They are the ones that you spec can spend your energy on because you have a moment of recognition. While you don’t have to call those thousand audience members, you get the five come to you because they, you’ve resonated with them. So there definitely is crucial to have a message and to think about what, what can I show this audience that they wouldn’t know because, and from my perspective where I sit, yeah it’s and to do, which is how I feel about it now, but we as a company have 100% prioritize that in our marketing budget, in our pence and pence are coming to you is also part of our drive to ensure that our voice and our opinions are heard by our, our industry.


Victor Ahipene: And going back to something that you see having that message. So I mean I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. It’s like a brilliant marketing funnel. Like you can jump up for six, so 30 60 90 minutes in front of a thousand people versus having to have a sales team doing discovery calls with a thousand people, which you know, or you know, plus the outreach and getting them and sourcing them to find those five awesome clients that you know, a perfect fit for your business.


I know it’s probably slightly different and you know, depending where you are speaking, but what is it with your message? What’s the message that you try and convey that is the light switch like, yeah, when you, when you step up onto stage is that uh, you know, giving the, the creator that ability to be able to scale and have a framework to, to doing that. Like is there a, is there a particular message that you want to go get across so it ticks the box for your ideal client when you’re preparing or organizing a speech? Or does it vary each time you talk.


Kieran Canisius: It does vary. I think that one of the things that we as a company, actually two things, we as a company believe in an I as an individual within this company believe in one is we challenge the status quo or the way things are done. MMM. With our presentations. So we don’t just show, um, this is the process, this is how we’ve always done it and this is how to best, efficiently do that process. But by being honest and truthful and really taking a step back, we challenged the current process by saying you need to understand a, that this is this solution, this way we’ve been doing it is not fixing our problem. So let’s recognize that too. Let’s talk about what is actually the human interaction that is effecting this. Um, and three, uh, we always talk about practical case study. All right, so we talked about actual examples and I think that that’s what I see a lot of speakers and the doing as they talk in theory, which is great for our audience and does motivate.


But we can do that from YouTube. We can do that from home. We can read books and our industry is very much focused on highly educated people. So, and every humans in general, if they have a problem, they go look for information. The power of the Internet of this, that we are able to get information from everywhere and also reputable sources. Uh, so it’s not giving the theory, it’s about putting the theory and context of the practice and what, and actually challenging audience not to do it. The Standard Way. So challenging the assumptions and the standard practices that are status quo is something that we as a company are very focused on because it’s not, don’t do things so you don’t get fired, do things so that they’re effective. I think that that’s a message that we see, whether we’re talking about diversity and leadership, whether we’re talking about HR technology, whether we’re talking about selecting suppliers.


Um, we bring it down to the core of the problem and actually identify whether the process we have to fix this problem is actually doing anything good or has it actually exacerbating. And secondly is the human piece. Um, at the end of the day when we were sitting in the audience, the most powerful presentations, the most powerful speakers are human emotion show impact. Show the impact of others. Um, and I think that that is you even the most technical stories. Um, I want to do as an audience member believe that the speaker actually either feels passionate about it or has gone through the struggles. So of secondly showing as a speaker the human side of what you’re doing, it’s critical because it’s the emotional hook. It’s not the fake story you put at the beginning. It’s the actual emotion you feel about this problem. And showing that is, is I think a really powerful thing.


And it’s powerful for your audience to remember you because I think one of the amazing things about speaking is that it also plant seeds that you aren’t aware of that went there. So you see the four people that come up to you at the end of a, a presentation and you see that as your return on investment for that speaking slot. But there are, if there’s an audience of 80, there’s 96 other people of which maybe 20 thinking you’re telling garbage or the 20th other ones were only reading their email, but they’re there for at least 50 or 50, 60 exact who actually thought about what you’ve said. And they may not come to you right away, but they may come to you in six months or a year because they remember you. The emotional impact that impacts the length of time that they remember you.


So it’s a challenging status quo. And bringing in the human emotional side of things. I think that that really characterizes myself and everyone within our company. Um, I was speaking in front of audience.


Victor Ahipene: It’s like you’re speaking to high intellect individuals in the audience. But the, the, the, the point that you brought up about the emotion, they all might be high intellect, but that all have emotions as well. Yeah. They’re all human. They’ve all got emotions. And you know, part of, I think an effective presentation and effect of narrative is controlling that narrative so you can, you know, take a case study of so and so who was here and here and they can feel those emotions, those ones out there who are going, oh, that was me. Well that is me, it’s where I want to be. And it’s rather than telling them the facts of like, if you do this, it’s like if this is done, here’s what happens to a person like you. And I mean there’s a guy, I follow Russell Brunson and he talks about the epiphany bridge, which you’ve, you, you base, you said exactly that.


It’s the, this is the old way, here’s the new way. And then they have you bridged that epiphany with case studies or you bridge that epiphany with emotions to go, oh, the old way was stupid. The logical way is, yeah, to work with, to work with your team or to work with you or whatever it may be. So I think super valuable points for anyone when constructing that. It doesn’t matter what kind of presentation really, if you, if you take those things into consideration, it doesn’t matter if it’s a eulogy, let alone anything else with regard to getting on stage. So you’re in a particular industry where you obviously want to get in front of particular people. What, what did that look like when you are getting first getting started to try and, you know, get your message onto a stage to at, you know, potentially what it is now and what it looks like going forward. Are there certain tips or strategies that you’ve used that you think might be beneficial? Um, or you know, obviously as it, as it a work in progress and changing as, as you go?


Kieran Canisius: Um, in general, I believe that the speed of which you do that has to do with the amount of cash that you can put behind it. So if you have access to a lot of cash and you know, wants to reach a large audience, you have something to tell. It doesn’t, when I say that, I don’t mean you have to have life changing things to tell. It can be, uh, almost something so specific that is really interesting for a specific, that’s also something critical to tell. If you can solve someone’s problem by you presenting then how long you get on stage. But the budget determine the length of time it takes in order for people to be able to get your message out. So easy, cheap ways to do that is of course blogging a go using online sources that you do not have to pay for to get in front of. And to approach speakers.


Our industry in the pharmaceutical industry and life sciences, um, we are all categorized in either supplier or sponsor. So supplier those that make money at conferences and sponsors are those who are there to learn and potentially to spend money on those suppliers. So because we are categorized as flyer, as a consulting company, um, we are always assumed to be one of the companies that are going to pay. And that’s for us a challenge because we are self-funded. We are in the 100% female board teams, five management team members. Um, and we have no investors. And we have that for conscious reasons. We wanted to remain with the, the ship to steer it this year in our hands, um, without having to report or, um, bends to someone else’s wishes for our company. That also results in ensuring that we have a positive cash flow every year because we need to pay everyone’s salaries.


So we went about this in two ways in one way using our own network and uh, working together with those who are on speaking words or in a conference organizers and ensuring that they knew that we had something to talk about. Ensuring that every presentation we took very seriously and doing very well so that the conference organizers also get a very positive reaction to your sessions. Um, because they are organizing a conference to have, uh, people want to come back next year. They don’t want to come back next year for the sessions are bad. So if you give them a good session, you’re a value to a conference organizer. Um, but it’s, it’s not easy. I must admit we choose a few that we’ve paid to go to every year and every year that becomes one less at the moment because we are invited, actually speak. But for a lot of conferences, um, we need to pay to stand on stage and when even when we do that, we 100% always, um, do not talk about our services or what we can offer.


We can talk about a topic that is interesting to that audience, the civically to that. And we do things like ensuring that the title is exactly what we are going to talk about during the presentation. Um, because that’s also a frustration of audience members. But it’s not, I would say that if you, if, if we want it to be easy, uh, you need to choose something that you are, that’s a hot topic and that people trust you very quickly to be a, um, to be an expert. Otherwise it is a long road and it takes a lot of and keep going because even if you are an excellent speaker, uh, depending on the company you work for, it’s not always logical that you get invited to speak. Um, you have to be visible to the people who have choosing. You have to be a, have a reputation of being a good speaker.


So if you have the money up front, invest in standing on stage, not just having an exhibition, an exhibition stand. That’s a lot of times we invest in jail, in speaking and do not have a, because you are valued differently by the audience. If you have been brought in as an expert rather than brought in as a supplier. Um, I get onstage, find ways, talk to conference organizers. Well you can do as well is to contact conferences and promote yourself as a last minute beaker. There is, everyone is always really busy. Conference organizers nightmares. The day before the conference or two days before the conference, a speaker calls up and says, I’m sick. Or during the ash cloud we had a lot of speakers couldn’t fly around. Um, so make sure you are on the emergency list of conferences that you know you can bring value to.


So identify those conferences, make sure the conference organizers know you and make sure they understand what it is you can talk about. And we have generated interest in areas of outsourcing and outsourcing relationship, clinical trials. A lot of services are outsourced so we are seen as an, as one of the experts in that area. Um, so we are working together with different conferences because we would like to be speaking to that audience and the others when they don’t know us, sometimes we need to, we pay to be on stage, but we do not sell. Tell the old we teach the audience something that we know and we think would be valuable to them. So yeah, that was a really long and either have a lot of money, a lot of patients and want to put in the hard work. That’s really the quick one.


Victor Ahipene: And I think both of them require the hard work. You know, you’ve still got to work on. I love what you, I think that’s something I haven’t heard anyone else who’s been on the show talk about does that last minute, last minute speaker opportunity, which makes total sense because know I’ve, I’ve had an email, hey can you, can you speak at this? Um, yeah, three days in advance. Yeah. We had you on this, on the shortlist. Because I knew the organizer and it was like, hey, we really need you to do this. And I don’t know why I didn’t cross my mind that that often happens a lot. Uh, yeah. Different things happen.


Kieran Canisius: But if you, if do you have, let’s say for conferences or 10 conferences per year on a global scale that are 100% in your area, ensuring that you are known and are willing to come in last minute and have a presentation ready and can solve crucial issues, which, which these conference organizers have. Yeah. Then it’s a way that you get in and then the next year if you do a good job that’s crucial that you do a good job. The next year you were asked potentially to give input in the, um, in the topics for the conference and potentially you’re asked to speak. Um, and that’s how that works. I think. I believe


Victor Ahipene: I think the, not selling from stage, I mean it’s not a, it’s not an industry where you can sit there in it to a digital course where you can have a table rush at the back and be like, you know, $997 today, only rent run to the back. People would rather get value on me. I worked with one of my students, Josh, and we did the same thing was ha what to look for if you are a dean to owner.


We looking for a social media marketer and obviously that’s what his company does and we gave you the three tips and case studies and by the end of it they got a ton of value. They realized they didn’t want to do it themselves and they realized that there was an awesome option for them at the start of it. There was no like, come to see me if you want to do this. And, you know, he had a line-up of people going, hey, that was awesome. It seems like you know, everything that I need for that person, why would we not use you as the, as the logical option?


So I think the, they’re not selling, educating, solving the problem and um, yeah, you’re the logical choice. Yeah. Hopefully you are a logical choice when people were making it.


Kieran Canisius: If you’re not, be happy with it. You have to make clear what the issues are within your expertise area and you have had an emotional impact and there is no one that comes to you. Be happy that you didn’t have to spend the time finding that individually. And yes, follow up, follow as is a major thing. Um, but really focused on giving people value for the time they spent listening to you because it’s, that’s their gift to you is you got their attention for 15 minutes or 20 minutes or half hour or an hour or 90 minutes. Um, make sure you’re giving something back. And not that you’re just asking for more because it’s annoying as an audience member. And the worst thing, the worst thing to do is to get on stage and annoy your audience.


Victor Ahipene: And we’ve all been there, we’ve all been on that side of it and so often we forget and yeah we talk about it and marketing it so that the person who proposes on the first date like don’t be that person because you don’t like it when you’re getting marketed to like, hey buy my stuff. Hey use my services. It’s like provide that value, build some rapport, get some trust and then a few of the right fit and it’s so much better cause you’re working with people that you actually want to work with. You’re not doing the flip side and it just, this is got not too much, a little bit to do with public speaking, but I’m interested to know when you said that Europe bootstraps, which I think is awesome, but you’ve got your foot, was it five females on your board or five females in your team? You said, um, do you utilize that as one of like your unique selling points when you’re on stage? Like is it something that you highlight or do you just sell your business as your, as your business? Do you end up? Yeah, I’m just, just out of interest.


Kieran Canisius: Well actually we are with 25 and no, they’re not all women. Um, and no, we don’t actually spend a lot that we don’t focus on that as one of our USP because it just is, and I don’t see it as a, it’s not diverse, which I don’t see as a good thing. It’s how it organically happens. And we have likeminded individuals who, uh, within their expertise area, we’re growing businesses and we decided that it made a lot of sense to collect that power and to work together. Um, so no, it’s not one of the things we focused on. I think that it is one of the things that makes us internally unique cause we don’t, I don’t believe I have a typical, um, what the, what the assumption is about all female boards is not true for our board. Um, and I don’t actually want to spend a lot of time focusing on it because it just is, and there’s a downside that fact as well.


Um, there’s enough side and we use that as much as we can, but there’s definitely a downside because we do not have a diverse board in terms of gender and I don’t think that that’s a good thing or something to be proud of what we’ve built and what we are continuing to believe build 100%. Um, and if someone wants to talk to me about that specifically because we are all living in a how we do that. Sure. We weren’t participating in a PhD research about a successful female founders. Um, and what are, what are those components that have given them success in what they do differently? Um, so yes we do. We look at it because I think it’s interesting. It’s not one of the things that we felt making us unique.


Victor Ahipene: I didn’t think you would, I was more just wondering if you did, did that result in the audience that you appealed to? Did you find that more females would come to you or anything like that? But obviously that’s not the, that’s not the point. I mean it sounds like…


Kieran Canisius: Yeah, we have, one of our businesses is focused on recruitment and our brand is, it was built by us and is therefore female. It’s executive recruitment. So if you think about all of the executive recruitment companies, you know, whatever industry, they have a very male brand. I’m also run by men, very dark blue there, powerful brands. Um, it makes sense because it’s, um, it feels comfortable for the see all of the male boards and CEOs out there. So our recruitment brand and our brands in general, yes. 100%.


They have a female shroom because we had to fall in love with them as well. We created them. So logically they were going to be more a more female oriented then yes, we do attract more female candidates on an executive level, uh, for our recruitment jobs because that’s what we wanted to do. Yeah. Um, and because we have a better understanding I believe, who cause we come from a similar sandbox, um, however, that’s not true for the other businesses. It’s almost not relevant for our consulting business. Um, so for one, yes, but for most of them know, yeah, we go about things by looking, there’s a problem. We look out of the box, what can we be doing differently? We’re honest, we’re transparent, we’re extremely direct. Um, and it’s, uh, it’s about getting things done. And I don’t know if that’s a female or a male thing that’s just us


Victor Ahipene: It’s solving problems in an efficient manner, which it doesn’t matter what business you’re from, you’re going to appreciate it. Whether it’s a mile delivering it, a female is delivering it. You just want a business that’s going to be beneficial for your problem, which I think is, it sounds like you guys and girls are doing and uh, and in spades to, you know, to do it. And I mean, I really appreciate the insight into, um, yeah, I’ve had a lot of different speakers on here who are business owners and speakers who, who use the stage to generate the business.


And it’s awesome to get the insight from a different industry. I’ve had the say the personal development and the coaching space, which is, yeah, it’s pretty much occasionally you paid to be on stage, but a lot of the time you speak for free and then you split your fee. 50 50 was what you saw with the event organizer and it’s a whole different dynamic. So I think it’s going to be a lot of the lessons that you’ve given applicable to everyone, but really going to be beneficial to those people who are experts in their space and the professional world looking to you, speaking to leverage it. So I really appreciate that and I want to just say thanks. Thanks for sharing all of that.


Kieran Canisius: Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity. Look forward to connecting again soon.


Victor Ahipene: If people want to check out, you find out more about your awesome businesses, where can they go and what can they do?


Kieran Canisius:  They can go to our website, it’s so Zeus as an uh, that show, the child storybook rider, Dr. Seuss, and not zoom as in the male God consults. And we’re actually going through a rebranding ourselves right now. So that website will be updated in the next few months.


Victor Ahipene: Cool. Well, we’ll link all of that at where we’ll have all the show notes, everything we’ve talked about, plus the links to all of everything we’ve spoken about. And you can also pick up a free copy of my book if you just want to cover the shipping. I’ll cover the book at so thank you so much again for all your time, your input, and yes, a massive mess of a gems that I’ve taken out of it and I’m sure many others have.


Kieran Canisius: .Thank you very much.