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10 Amazing Women Leaders to Watch 2022

‘It’s important to live in your integrity no matter what the consequences’: Tricia Brouk, Award-winning director, writer, speaker and former TEDx producer

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In today’s age where words have headed underground – mainly via social media, public speaking still plays a major role in education, government, and business. Words are powerful as they can inform, persuade/dissuade, educate, and even entertain. The spoken word can be even more powerful when the speaker hones public speaking potential. One such master of this craft is Tricia Brouk, an internationally award-winning director who has worked in theater, film, and television for over 30 years.

She has worked on Black Box on ABC, The Affair on Showtime, Rescue Me on Fox, and worked closely with John Turturro’s Romance and Cigarettes, where she was awarded a Golden Thumb Award from Roger Ebert for choreography. Tricia Brouk has had the privilege of working closely with many elite personalities, including James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken, Eddie Izzard, and Steve Buscemi.

Today, Tricia Brouk curates and hosts The Big Talk, an award-winning podcast on YouTube and iTunes. Brouk was awarded Top Director of 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals and Top Ten Speaking Coaches by Yahoo Finance. Her book “The Influential Voice: Saying What You Mean For Lasting Legacy” was the #1 new release on Amazon in December 2020. She was also recognized as Empowered Woman of the Year 2021 by the International Association of Top Professionals. Moreover, she has been featured in Forbes, Harvard Business Review, Inc., Entrepreneur, Money, Thrive Global, and Swaay Media.

We recently interviewed her to know more about her journey so far and more. Read on for the excerpts from the interview.

Q. What was the inspiration behind starting ‘The Big Talk’? Could tell us a bit about your journey?

The Big Talk was literally born out of a directing gig. A friend asked me to direct her TED Talk in 2017. I approached it just like I do any play, or one woman show. We work on script analysis, choreography, and performance. Then she planted the seed, that I should “do this.” I had zero online presence. I had zero credibility in the space of coaching or mentoring. I was a director and producer. When I realized that I could have an impact on the world by supporting influencers and thought leaders in sharing their powerful stories, I made the decision to build the company in order to leave a lasting legacy and help amplify and elevate as many voices as possible. It started with The Big Talk Podcast, so people could hear me talk about my process. Then I became the Executive Producer of TEDxLincolnSquare, which gave me instantaneous credibility. Once I had that visibility, I founded The Big Talk Academy and The Speaker Salon so I could serve my community virtually and in person in NYC. I intentionally built my business with clear purpose, values, and mission as the driving force. And because of that, I attract clients and team members who are aligned with the bigger picture of making the world a better place. The Big Talk is a global company supporting people all over the world.

Q. Have you always been entrepreneurial?

When I was a kid, I sold strawberries on the side of the road, airbrushed t-shirts, and names carved out of wood. My Dad was an artist and taught me how to paint and carve. This entrepreneurial spirit stayed with me when I moved to New York City to pursue my dream of becoming a dancer. Being a starving artist was not okay to me. I was very clear, I wanted to eat at amazing restaurants and live alone. Dancers then and even now don’t get paid what they are worth, so I started a fitness company to subsidize my life. When I was touring all over the world with Lucinda Childs Dance company, my clients were being trained by my company back in NYC.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful leader?

When it comes to leading my community, I try to embody curiosity, humility, and confidence. I have spent years in the rehearsal space with my actors. It’s my job as a director to create a safe space for the actors to try anything, to make bold choices so that we can get to the truth of the scene. It’s the same with my speakers or my team. I want everyone to know their voice matters, that they are valued, and seen and what they have to say can contribute to the overall success of the play, the speech, or the company. I also believe a successful leader is willing to admit when they are wrong.

Q. Keeping in mind the social and cultural bondages which generally trim down the freedom, confidence and boldness of women, what steps/programs/policies would you like to suggest for the women who want to be successful like you?

I went to Stephens College, a woman’s liberal arts college in Columbia, Missouri. I was surrounded by amazing women, strong women and had zero experience with discrimination. On my first tour with a dance company, my best friend and I got paid the same day and he shared with me the amount. It was more than what I was paid, even though I was a soloist in the company. I brought this to the attention of the company manager, and he told me that it’s harder to find good men dancers than women, so they got paid more. I promptly hired a lawyer and quit, knowing that I may not ever get a dance job where I’m the soloist again. It’s important to live in your integrity no matter what the consequences. We have to support each other, standby and for each other and always do the right thing, no matter if in the short term, it’s painful. And I also suggest that if the doors are not opening for you, build your own. I always build my own doors. And I’m happy to give any woman a key.

Q. What other leaders do you look up to?

I always look up to Michelle Obama because she is unapologetically herself, while also leading with grace and gravitas. The leader I look up to now is Officer Eugene Goodman. The way he strategically and fearlessly led the rioters away from the Senate Chamber on January 6th, is something we can all learn from. In a moment of absolute chaos and violence, he was able to think clearly and act intentionally.

Q. As a leader, how have your priorities changed from when you first started?

The biggest priority that has shifted for me is in how I focus on building my team and the company culture. I am building a multi-million dollar company, which means I work for my team. When they are enlisted in the mission and vision of our company and they feel valued and integral in the success of the company, we all grow and win and can serve at the highest level.

Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out as an entrepreneur, what would it be?

Being willing to fail big, is part of this amazing and delicious ride. And it’s a long game. When you see all of the social media with entrepreneurs posting about their first launch of a product being six figures or that they became a seven-figure business owner overnight, it’s probably not true. Being an entrepreneur means being consistent in how you show up, hiring slow and firing fast and knowing how to take risks.

Q. What do you think is the most memorable moment in your career?

I have danced in opera houses all over the world. I worked with James Gandolfini and Kate Winslet. I make documentaries about people doing amazing things, like the Buddhist Chaplain at Rikers Island. One of the most memorable for me was when I was in LA for the screening my film, You’re Gorgeous I Love Your Shirt: An Inside Look at Bullying and Mental Health. Afterwards, in the lobby, a stranger came up to me and shared that he had been bullied in school and was recently divorced and contemplating suicide. He shared that my film made him feel less alone and he was choosing to live. This was everything. This is why I do this work.

“I always build my own doors. And I’m happy to give any woman a key.