American Ninja Warrior’s Only Host and Competitor, Alex Weber

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello, everybody and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. I reached out to today's guest after we were both speaking at a keynote event, and I missed his talk, but I heard incredible things and I got to look him up and was just so impressed with his backstory. So Alex Weber is our guest today on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. And Alex is a international keynote speaker award winning host for NBC. He's a competitor on the Emmy nominated series American Ninja Warrior, and author of the book failproof become the unstoppable you, but also knows what it feels like to hit challenges self doubt, uncertainty and failures and how you can overcome them. Alex gives his system to be a powerful leader ignite positive culture and accomplish your biggest goals in your career, your relationships and your life. We got to talk about everything from the competitive backgrounds that we have him on the sport of American Ninja Warrior and my racing and some of the synergies and similarities, pre competition rituals, how we train how we get into it. We then shifted gears and talked about our speaking careers, everything from how you craft a story to how you get into the weird industry that his keynote speaking and the high that we feel when we get off of the stage and how we are constantly trying to figure out how we can improve and evolve. And then we talk about a little bit on the business side of speaking what he's looking forward to in the coming months. And this was just so great, so much energy, I can only imagine the amount of energy he brings to the stage. And I hope that you enjoy this episode. Alex, thank you so much for joining me on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. Alex Weber 1:41 Thank you for having me. I'm pumped to be here. Julia Landauer 1:43 So for our listeners, we have not actually met in person, but we are in the speaker world. And the other month, we were both speaking at a really awesome event out in Denver, and we just missed each other. For me. It was a really quick fly in one night fly out the next day. And but I was so interested by Alex's story. You heard it in the intro. So Alex first, can you tell me how one becomes the host of and then contestant on American Ninja Warrior? Is that the order that I have? Correct? Yeah, yeah. Talk to me. And Alex Weber 2:16 it is awesome to see you people were raving about your talk. And that event Cindy and the entire team there at HDI just they crush it. So they Julia Landauer 2:25 really do. Yeah, real quick sidenote, like, for people who get on stage or do speaking events, like I love all my clients. And it's always fun to engage with an audience. But when a client puts on such a high tech event like with a full on LED stage, and like all of the tools that a speaker want like confidence monitor and timer and you know when it just when they make our job easy, it makes I feel like the presentation that much more fluid. And so just treat, it's a luxury as a speaker. Alex Weber 2:58 Yeah, 100% and just the energy a and truly everyone was raving about your talk. So to learn more about you as well. And you know, my journey with American Ninja Warrior. So it's a funny thing, because there's and I know you know this in your own journey. There's like layers. So it's like how deep do you go in? Do you go from when I left playing college lacrosse and doing finance and took a leap of faith and moved to LA to do entertainment. Do where how far do you go, but really what it was was, I got hired as a host. And that at that time in my life was the biggest dream. I played college lacrosse. I did sports my entire life. And then society told me I was a former athlete. Oh, you played D1 lacrosse? You're a former athlete. How cool? I'm like, Oh, I guess I'm a former athlete that kind of crushes my soul when you say that. But I guess that's who I am. Julia Landauer 3:54 I appreciate- we can get into that too. Because like this shifting and moving on from that identity as the full time athlete. Oh my god. Okay, we've got even more to talk about. Sorry, continue. Yes. Alex Weber 4:03 Well, I love that because I think you nailed it the shift. And it's because that part of us doesn't go away. It's just where do we channel it. And I've had seasons of my life where I've channeled it to bad things because I didn't know where to put it. So I put that energy into things that didn't weren't really good, but I didn't know what to do. And then American Ninja Warrior was so incredible. So I really took a leap of faith. I went after TV hosting, and I'll never forget this. But I'm giving a slightly longer answer because that's okay. We can geek out on this stuff because I know you get it because of where you've risen to in your sports and your career. I got my first TV hosting agent after I went to a casting director workshop because I literally was like, Hey, I think I could do hosting. I wasn't very good at acting, or at least I felt like I was pretending to be people and they're like, No, next I'm like great. Do you validate parking? Okay, I'm out of here. So, I followed up this casting director, I went to her workshop and she said, Hey, I think you'd be good at hosting. And I'm, like, awesome. Like, this is just me how I am and my friends. She's like, I'm gonna get you an agent. And that was huge. And then I wrote her a message. The next day, she didn't respond, it was Facebook Messenger. A couple of days later, hey, just seeing if you saw that she didn't respond. Something went off in me where I'm like, I'm gonna follow up with this person until the end of time. And so I wrote her a message every single week for 52 weeks, like literally happy Flag Day, happy July 4, hope you had a great Easter. On the 52nd week, literally, she goes, Alex, I've sent you a meeting with this agent. And that just like kind of triggered into me of positive perseverance, just like if you really want something, stay at it. Be polite, you know, come with appreciation. Anyways, the first real job that I got hired for was NBC American Ninja Warrior. So it literally felt like going from farm League, you know, out in the 80s to now on this, like, huge stage and can't wait and the entire team and American enjoy are freaking awesome. So just the short version of it was I was hired as a host. My job was to be this goofy guy. Hey, here we are in Oklahoma City. Here's all the best athletes look at how crazy these obstacles are. And then they thought it'd be fun if I got up there and just failed for everyone's entertainment. So did that for the first year. And then on a dime. And this is what's been really relatable to audiences, my bosses and I get it, it's you get it's entertainment, it's creative. They came to me, they go, Alex, we want to go in a new direction. You need to be good at this sport. Now. I was like, Okay, I'm sorry, what's this? And so literally now my dream job in the balance, because they wouldn't be hard. They could just go find someone else. Maybe a past competitor, you know, right. So now I'm like, if Alex, if you want to keep this job, you got to get good at this impossible sport, right? That is really where so much of now what I speak on, it was just such a pressure cooker for it. Because I ended up really clocking in and we can unpack that, but for a year, I just was like Alex, alright, man, like you got to do this and started as beyond a beginner and worked my way up to we won an award for NBC, I still have it and became a competitor. So the only person ever host and then compete on the series. Julia Landauer 7:31 Well, that is such a cool legacy to have. And I guess, you know, I'm curious, because I've seen the show. I haven't watched it religiously, but I've seen it, it's a really good go to for like when you're on the road, like it's just yeah, and as a competitor and me it's always fun to watch and to root for the people who look like the underdogs. I think it's kind of my go to Yeah, how do you even best prepare for those kinds of like, challenging obstacle? Or like, is that the proper term? Or Alex Weber 7:59 yeah, and that's such I love that question, too. And again, I was so excited to do this, because of just the level that you've been at in your sport. I know that you get all the intricacies of it. And yeah, you know, I think what was really interesting was, I was an all American Division One lacrosse player, I had one US Lacrosse Coach of the Year. And then I was now a beginner. And so that was this really stark experience for me. But I realized like, okay, Alex, like, either way, you're a beginner, you can either bring in all your ego and your judgments and still be a beginner, or you can bring in humility and hunger and be a beginner. And I'm like, Alright, yeah, I get it. Like, that's the way to do it. Like, my motto was, wherever the best people are training, that's where you need to be. Because what I did in the beginning, was and I think this happens with a lot of people, I kept it at this safe distance. So I would go to my comfortable gym, LA Fitness or Equinox, and wherever I was at the gym, and I'd be like, okay, they seem to have strong upper bodies, let me do a lot of pull ups. And really what I was doing, and this happens with a lot of us is we have this big dream. And we take this first step that's kind of small, and we keep the dream still over there at a distance. And what I learned is like, the dream is still going to be daunting, whether you are at this distance or whether you're in the heartbeat of it, but the variable is how much fog is around it. Because for me when I would just go train on my own, it was still this mystical thing. But when I went and I was like, alright, that's the best American Ninja Warrior and thank you to them for being so welcoming. When I was training with them, I sucked and it was frustrating, but at least I was like, okay, they can do 100 of this thing. I can't do one. But at least I know what's going on now Julia Landauer 9:47 know what your roadmap is that that's exactly and then you Alex Weber 9:51 know, this is what's just so cool is if you really do clock in and you have humility and you learn from people, then you get this incremental growth. growth and you're like, Whoa, hold on. I'm nowhere near where I want to be. But I'm starting to get some momentum. I'm starting to grow. Julia Landauer 10:07 Yeah, no, totally. So getting into the nitty gritty of the training. So obviously, the competitions are a collection of different activities and obstacles and stuff. So are you? How do they break down the training? Is it like certain strength training is their endurance training, like for racing, for instance, we have, you know, if you're racing for several hours on end, you have a combination of core neck strength that needs to be disciplined you have heat training that you have to do you have sprains that you have to do you know, and there's like, specific, you know, it's not like insanely bulky muscles. So there's their, their unique things that we do to train to best prepare for the car. So how do you break down the types of training you do for American Ninja Warrior? Alex Weber 10:49 It's so cool. And I love that and want to geek out with you on like, neck and core and heat training. That's so cool. Shout Julia Landauer 10:57 out to the iron neck for the really cute contraption that we use. Yeah, the iron neck that's like, you know, the trainer can like shake it to simulate vibrations, or you can just do resistance turning. Yeah, Alex Weber 11:09 it's cute. And, and this sounds, I mean, this pops up. And I think there's such a correlation with American Ninja Warrior and racing. I mean, they're both racing, right? With like, fear training, like, that was part of it, too. Because bad things happen. When you're hesitant. That's when bad things happen. You got to commit, you know, and so I imagine I mean, you've had the sport in your life for a long time. But there was probably a point where you really had to push through that fear. Julia Landauer 11:35 Oh, yeah, that's something I talked about on stage all the time. And like, to your point like that, you know, if you decide you're going to do the thing, that's scary, you owe it to yourself to give yourself that best shot and commit 100%. Because if you don't commit 100%, and it doesn't work out, you're gonna be that much more hesitant to try it again, you're not giving yourself that fair analysis of how it works. So yeah, we are on the same page with that, Alex Weber 11:58 a 100% The honest baseline, you don't know what you've got. And I find that I mean, that's an all areas of life, but you asked about the the different categories of training the three and now four that come to mind that were really is one is, yes, you have to build up your strength, because that is the that's the tool that you're using in this. But then the second one is mental, meaning you just have to, like I would just call it time in the gym, like a really, I would say time on obstacles, because the sport is ever changing. It's super cool like that. It's always creative. And it's very collaborative. Because these gyms have grown now, massively in this next generation, people are always trying things that happened so fast to social media, that someone will try something late night in the gym to see if they can do it, then they did it and they posted it. And now the rest of Ninja Nation is trying to do it. And because these athletes are bringing good, fast forward a week, or two weeks now this thing that didn't even exist is now like, Oh, you got to be able to do this. So that informs also these creative obstacles, the obstacles, you don't know the obstacles until you get there. So the ones that decide your fate, your dream, you know, all this, you don't know until an hour before when you're doing the walkthrough. So time on obstacle. And that's just experience, right? Because then you're like, Okay, I've never seen this obstacle, but it's kind of like this mixed with this. And so you just kind of have that mental side. And then the third is the art part of it. Like all sports, I always say they're art, not science. Yes, they're scientific. Of course, there's metrics and use your body, but you really watch any of the best athletes in any sport. And they're artists, they just are. And so that third part I would just say is knowing the craft, and knowing how your body moves and knowing how this stuff works. So those are the three and the fourth that I'm really realizing with you now is that fear training. Something that was so nutty in the beginning was I mean, I always was like a feet on the ground kind of guy and I had this buddy Steve, I remember growing up where he was always cliff jumping and climbing climbing trees and you're like, that's crazy steep, but that's not us. Yeah, then now I'm doing this sport where everybody's crazy Steve. And it's normal. Like if you go get lunch with people, I'll never forget this. Like we got dinner. And then after dinner, we're literally like climbing on buildings and like climbing on all this Julia Landauer 14:32 man in the lifestyle. Yeah, truly. Alex Weber 14:34 And it's, it's, it's because it's fun. And it's a jungle gym. And it's a way of viewing the world. And in the beginning, I didn't do it because I'm like, That's not me. And then I'm like, well, it could be and why I say this is there was some moments I'll never forget very early on in Ninja Warrior where like, you're climbing on things very high up. Especially like if you're not in the gym. or on the competition or in life climbing a building or a tree or a lamppost. And I'll never forget, one of the ninjas said to me, because I was like really freaking out, he's like, Do you have faith in yourself? Like, do you if we had mats underneath this? Could you hold on to this? Yeah, it could. Okay, why are you so nervous? And so? Yes, of course, there's degrees to that. But I think that's very powerful, because it changes the focus from like, oh, my gosh, look at all this exterior noise and what ifs and fears to do you have faith in yourself? Do you have faith in your abilities? We'll focus on that. Julia Landauer 15:31 Totally. So do you have something that I also talk about, and something that I've realized with my own racing and then off track as well is that kind of fear physically manifests itself in my body certain ways. And so there are things that I do to try to minimize those physical symptoms to try to get me into the best kind of like, central nervous system neutrality in a sense. So do you have similar things that like you kind of do to minimize the symptoms of fear? Alex Weber 16:01 Do you mind if I ask what is? Julia Landauer 16:03 Yeah, yeah, so I can feel when I'm, I'll put nervous and scared in the same category, although I know that they're different. But like before race, I'm definitely nervous, not so much scared. But I start to feel anxious in a way that makes me a little jittery. heart's racing, like typical things. And what I found very early on in my racing career was that if I did a little sprint, before the race, and it was because I was late getting to the grid, and I had to go to the bathroom. So I sprinted to the bathroom and I sprained my car. But it made me still feel nervous. But that negative edge of nervousness was gone. And so I now sprint before every race, you know, I can't sprint before keynote, I do get a little nervous before keynote, because I care. And I want the audience to find it valuable. And I know how I want I know how I want to perform the best. And so like, I'll do some deep breathing stuff to help kind of calm those nerves is really the deep breathing and then the burst of activity to help calm me down. Alex Weber 17:02 I love that you're sparking, I've kind of like, have two answers to this because you're you're bringing them both out. I played in a lacrosse game yesterday. I'm in a Lacrosse League here. And it's a really good league. And I've had this experience with Ninja Warrior. And in lacrosse, and really any, and what I found and it's kind of like what you talked about with the sprinting. I'm in I call it sloth mode. And maybe that's meaning me being a little hard on myself. But it's also my like critique of the world. I'll show up to these big athletic things training for American Ninja Warrior playing this really big Lacrosse League. And I'm like, Oh Alex, you're in email mode, you're in sitting in your chair mode you're in you're in sloth mode. And like, we need something to get you into warrior mode, athlete mode. And this is primal. So this is, you know, and so I figured out in lacrosse, it's like, I need to, like get in it. And same in Ninja Warrior, it would take me like the first half of training to get out of sloth mode. And the thing is, is like I'm not 17 years old, but you know, as I've been doing this sport, and so I and what I realized is like you can't afford to lose an hour getting in. And so exactly what you said front loading and just like coming in hot, like coming in intends to just spark everything up. And then there's such scientific, visceral benefits to getting it out of your head, you're ramping up your body, you're getting like the blood flowing, and so 100% with that, and then in speaking, I've found and I love this because we both come from the athletic environment. I had an acting teacher, once, look at me. And before I did an acting well, he knew about my athletic background. And he goes, you're like a horse in the in the like in the stall before a race. And I think that's what happens with us as athletes because we've had so many years of like, okay, now it's go time, right. And so now that we're doing something that's more artistic, which I would say keynote speaking is more artistic, or creative, that quality is still there, but I've I really love it because I definitely do have what maybe we'd look to someone else as a little bit crazy, like, leading up to it. Like I'm definitely like, in my own world, as I'm sure you are too. But I love those moments, because it's because we care about this, and we want to do our best and yeah, we are getting a little fired up and nervous and focused. And I guess the last thing I'll say on that is my relationship with nerves has changed, where it used to be, especially in college across so overpowering that I would change who I was because and now I've tapped into more of okay, this just means I care. And this just means there's a lot of Energy. Let's channel it. That's Julia Landauer 20:02 beautifully said, I relate to that so much. We're gonna take a quick break, but we'll be right back with Alex Weber we are back on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. With our guest, Alex Weber, we were just talking about kind of the pre competition period being in the zone. And a few episodes ago, I looked into the like psychology of pre race rituals and the importance of them or pre competition rituals. And, you know, one of the things that I learned was that a reason that rituals are so important for perform for important for performance is that they kind of create familiarity, especially if you're an athlete, let's say that's constantly moving to different physical locations. And so that familiarity helps kind of center you to compete. Do you find that the Well one is American Ninja war traveling? It is right, guys? Yeah. So do you find the traveling nature of American Ninja Warrior to be a challenge? Is that something that doesn't really affect you? Or anything like that? Alex Weber 21:15 No. I mean, one thing that was a blessing of it was, as I was really ramping up for competing one year, it was also doing speaking, and that was challenging, but I realized, actually, this is a great thing. Because now okay, there's a speaking event in Philadelphia, let me find out where the nearest Ninja Warrior gym is. Now I'm going in, and then the, the culture and community is so supportive and welcoming. So I could just go to any gym, and now it's like, every gym has their, like marquee obstacles and newness and things that they're training on. So by nature of that, it was like, Okay, now I'm in Columbus, Ohio. Great, wow, here's all this other new stuff that I don't know what to do with. And here's the Philly ones, and in the Atlanta ones, and so because of that, it really helped me with getting over the newness part of it. And I think a lot to your point, Ninja Warrior is like you're flinging off things you grab, like, I really realize you got to warm up and stretch and fire up the muscles. And that to your point, was a good experience of Okay, now we've begun, you know, as you're doing this 15 minute, it's not a ton of time, but 15 minute warm up of just like, really? It's very intentional things though. It's kind of meditative. You know, you're doing these very, like, yeah, movements. It was a good spark of Okay, now we've begun, Julia Landauer 22:50 right, right now, that's, that's so interesting. And, and the warm up is also as you get older, even more important, you gotta do it, I have to even just feel like going for a run now like a three mile run like it requires a lot more warm up. So I was on the show survivor, and survivor has a lot of those kind of physical obstacle course challenges. And so when I think back to my season, I had a favorite obstacle, which was basically, we had to run across pontoons, and they were just in the water. And then we had to swim to this platform, where we then had to climb this like pyramid ladder, and then you get a paddle or something. And then you had to like run off the boardwalk thing and like, jump like six feet out and hit a tile that was hanging. And if you broke the tile, it released a key you fall a lot of feet into the water and then you have to swim it back. So that was one of my favorite obstacles. Do you have a favorite obstacle that you have done on American Ninja Warrior? I Alex Weber 23:55 mean so many I'll the one that really comes to mind. And it's because of what was going on with it to this was that season were at right before the season. They said Alex, you got to be good at this sport. We'd film every two weeks. It was almost like I would get like chickens. And at the beginning I was failing on all these and then and then as we progressed. Okay, well now I got two more weeks to train as hard as I could. Okay, now here we are in Oklahoma City. Nope, still failing. And I talked about this I would splash in the water and I'd look over and I'd see my boss's huddling up and I'm like, Are they talking about me? Like, is this it? Like, am I getting fired? Like, this is my this is my dream job, you know, and okay, we got two more weeks. And this all led up to we were filming our season finale at the national finals. So they at this time they would travel in different cities, you compete in different cities regionals, and then the best of every region would come and descend upon Vegas, the best American Ninja Warriors on the national finals course. So when we filmed our season finale, the producer at the time came to me, they're like, Alex, we're gonna get one shot for our series for you to go on the national finals course is the toughest obstacle course. Like, this isn't just the regional one. Now we're on the toughest obstacle course. And we have this really dynamic, which means you're going to fling in the air a lot. obstacle and we're gonna get one shot with all the TV cameras to shoot this for our series. And like that was it. And it was just one where I'm like, Alex, this is a Just who are you moment. This is just This is it. This is it. And it was this obstacle called the double dipper. And there was some really cool technical pieces of it and you had to fling in the air and fly in the air which was so contrary to all of my life beliefs about myself leading up to this if so high in the air and the stands are packed and the athletes and the cameras, and I got it and and it just I was talking with a great buddy of mine after who His name is Island ninja Grant McCarney huge personality on the show. And we were talking about just like, when you just need it, you know, you just need it to prove to yourself and to prove, because just like in racing, like there's a lot of rejection, there's a lot of falling short, there's a lot of you know, and then sometimes you just like, you need this one, to reintegrate into yourself. Yes, like, Yes, I can do this. Yes, this is who I am, and especially the stakes. And so we spent so much to get that. And that is when we won the best series award. And so that was really cool. That Julia Landauer 26:39 is really cool. So when you're going through those obstacle courses, I assume you kind of end on a high like regardless, if you did really well. Or if it didn't go the way you want, like the whole experience of being in the zone and competing. And then like you have this high. What's the come down like? Oh, are you? Alex Weber 26:58 I mean, I gotta ask you that one, too. I don't have an answer for that. Even yesterday, I played a lacrosse game and I was revved up for like seven hours. Right? After speaking, I find it the funniest contrast in the world. You run into that? Julia Landauer 27:13 Yeah, I mean, that is an I asked this question. Because partially I, I've worked with a communications coach, she helped me with my TEDx talk, which is how I started my keynote speaking career, and we'll get into that later. But I worked with her again the other year, just to revamp, you know, like, 10 years later, let's do a review. And she talked about how when she gets done speaking, she tries to, like, come down off that high really quickly. And she asked me what I do to do that I was like, I don't like I love the feeling of the speakers high or the competition high. And you know, I don't do drugs, but I get why people would because it's just like, it's so great to be in that mental space, and you're feeling on top of the world. And so I just let that live as long as possible. And what I find is like speaking, by the time I get back to my room, or if I have to travel out right away, I start to kind of get come back down to earth, but I just float in that feeling of feeling incredible. Like it just feels so good to know that you to one to make that human connection, if it's a speaking thing, you know, make that human connection. If the audience is engaged, it's really incredible. You feed off their energy, or if it's competition, like putting your heart and soul into something is such a incredible privilege to have. And I think being able to get into the zone in whatever you're doing is a privilege because it means you just get to one dimensionally focus on this thing. And that's so cool. It is so cool. So I don't I don't try to come down off the high, but I also don't feel that it bothers me. Once it's gone. It's gone. And I just look forward to the next time. Alex Weber 28:45 I think I mean, I kind of go to this lens of how rare and how special for you and me and anyone else to experience that feeling. Why as a human being should we dismiss it or get rid of it, the world's doing a good enough job at making it hard to feel that way. So I think that if we are so fortunate to feel grateful and the highest coming from I think we're using our gifts, we're doing a good job to help someone else and serve them. It's good stuff. You know, we didn't rob a bank you know, it's it's, it's earned. Yeah. Yeah. I think in the beginning, and this was a cool mile marker for me I would celebrate. And I actually have now which feels so much better. Me celebrating was when I really wasn't like a professional speaker. I was a visitor into a professional speaking realm. I would do it here and there. And so what is felt really great now is that Thank You Lord didn't know that that's just my own. You know that this is life and the Had I. This is business as usual, and I'm professional. And so I often remind myself, the reward of a job well done is to have done it. And so there's no celebration, there's no ticker tape parade, there's no, I don't need to go out and get a double, you know, triple Sunday, I can return back to my room and spend a moment with that gratitude. And then I can do some work. I can call a loved one, I can go to the airport, because this is now life. Julia Landauer 30:26 Yeah, yeah. And I think I would assume that whether it's competition or performance or entertainment, whatever industry, like initially, when you're not used to the feeling, or you're not used to or if you go from, you know, being nervous or feeling like you could have done better to really feeling like you mastered what you set out to do. Yeah, it becomes more normal. And I feel like you need almost more extraordinary performances or something to kind of feel that same need to celebrate. And like, I definitely, I definitely feel that it's important to acknowledge when things go really well with the keynote. I also, like I nitpick to death, my performance, and I'm like, Oh, my gosh, that could have been better. Like, should I didn't deliver the line? And like, I know that the audience doesn't know that. Right? They don't know what I'm going to be delivering. But yeah, you were a high high performers, high achievers. I Alex Weber 31:20 mean, let's geek out on this. Because I agree, what I found is and this used to have, so I come from stand up comedy as well. And the minutes before a talk, because we're juices are flowing, I've actually found that those nerves can spark cool new ideas, because you're just like you're on your alert. Similarly, after a talk, I find that that's a good moment. So do you have a kind of post talk? You said you nitpick? Do you have a I mean, I don't know if you're watching like film of the performance. Julia Landauer 31:50 Yeah, so a couple of different things. So I don't, I haven't yet invested in bringing my own videographer or stuff like that's, you know, one day we'll get to that. But a lot of times, if a client can provide a video, I go through it. It's also a gut check, though, because there are some times when I get offstage, I'm just like, I killed that it was awesome. Even if I didn't do everything exactly how I wanted to like you can feel the energy of the audience. I don't know if you do q&a, but I have a q&a at the end of every talk. And so you can kind of tell how engaged people were based on that. And there are some were just like, I rocked it, I'm not at all concerned, I know that the clients happy. And then there are other times where like, maybe the audience was less engaged. Or maybe it was just a more reserved audience, or maybe I didn't kill it as much. And it's in those moments where I feel like I know, in my gut, if I felt like it could have done, I could have done better. Or if I spoke too quickly. At one point, that's my big thing. If I rush through things, or if I feel like the audience isn't loving it, I'll get more nervous, right? And so. So it's in those moments where I kind of go back and I just think about, Okay, how did I deliver it? How would I like to deliver it? Is there a way that I can catch myself next time I'm doing that and like, I've been doing this for a while. And it's just it's constant evolution and constant work in progress. And then I'll watch a video if I have access to it. And I'll be able to see how it's improving. And so there was one in March or so where I was worried that I was speaking really quickly. And like, obviously, if you speak too quickly, at some points, it can diminish the impact of the words that you're saying, like you want to give the audience some chance to sit with what you've just said. And I was nervous about that. Then I got copy of it. I was like, oh, no, that was a little quick. But it wasn't that bad. And then I stopped beating myself up, but I'm very black and white. Like, that's what I loved about racing. It's like the stopwatch doesn't lie. The data doesn't lie, like, either you're doing it right or you're not. And so it's not kind of once I get that validation, I guess I feel better. And then I move on. Yeah. Alex Weber 33:50 Well, I fully hear you and because it is a subjective field, sometimes you don't know. It's tough. You know, obviously, like if you get a standing ovation, it's like, wow, that's, you know, that Julia Landauer 34:00 feels I'm the hottest shit ever. Yeah. Alex Weber 34:04 Yeah, you know, and then one, I've kind of introduced it was was talking about, you know, metrics, because that's, you know, kind of you said the data. I've always now found if people feel compelled, because I've been in an audience and after someone's presented or done a art piece or accommodate, I gotta go talk to that one person. I gotta just tell them this. And so that's been I've kind of latched on to that of do people feel compelled that they need to come say something to me. So that's been one that's Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Julia Landauer 34:36 No, it's super engaging. And I think it is also tough going back to the high it's interesting to get off stage if you're on that high and then talk to people and like, everything's positive and like I'm sometimes there'll be talking about more serious stuff. I'm like, calm down. Julia. Like this is the most serious conversation. Yeah, yeah. But yeah, it's an interesting dynamic. We're gonna take another quick break, but we'll be right back with Alex. We are back with Alex on if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. Keynote speaking as an industry is very entrepreneurial, but it's also pretty opaque. At least I found that like 10 years ago when I got started and everything from, you know, what should you charge to? How do you get your name in front of people who were making these hiring decisions to, you know, how do you develop a keynote and get on stage and speak in front of people for 45 minutes? So how did you tackle breaking into the industry? Alex Weber 35:39 It's such a great question. And I've been asked that before. And I think, for me, it was it was not this. It was the same Genesis as every other meaningful or quote, unquote, successful pursuit in my life, it was something in my heart. That was you feel called to this, you want to do this deeply. And I think you can do this. That is what led me to go off and play college Division One lacrosse, that's what led me to then leave all that and move to LA and do TV hosting, and then be a TV host and win an award for NBC. And then feel this in me of gosh, I feel called to go into this speaking world. And, you know, part of it a site slide tangent was, I won us Lacrosse Coach of the Year, in my first season coaching High School lacrosse, and I share that story in speaking because it has to do a lot with leadership lessons, and also impostor syndrome and not good enough and, but then, as I got into TV hosting, I had this spark in me of, okay, I'm doing TV hosting stand up comedy, and I come from us Lacrosse Coach of the Year. I wonder if there's a way to put all that together. And so that was the spark in me have, I always felt called to do this. And no one, you know, I It's not like I got I didn't I didn't get an inbound request. That's what pushed me to be a speaker is because someone saw it in me, it's what happened was I and I say that to just kind of change the focus if anyone listening. I say this to everyone. If you have someone in your life, who believes in you and is encouraging you to go after something that is such a gift, cherish that. And if you don't have that, and if even if people are telling you, you cannot do something, you still can is upon you to be brave to listen and to act. So for me, I was like, Okay, well, no one knows that I want to be a speaker. But so first, I started to share that in the world. One of my great American Ninja Warrior friends, Maggie Thorne, phenomenal, and she's a speaker as well now. But at the time, neither one of us were one time we were at this ninja warrior event for this gym. And right before before we went out on stage, she, this is who she is. She goes Alex, what's your biggest dream. And like, I go, and I just kind of confined it. I was like, I really want to be a speaker. She was interesting. And a month later, she asked me to be the speaker for this charity, she was a part of Oh, cool. So that's where I say like, it's so important to be brave, and then start to identify yourself as this because you have to create that identity. So more tactfully or more externally. I then reached out I played division on the cross a pen, I called the pen coach, I said, Hey, can I come speak to the guys and he said, Sure. And all these things. I started to video, because people don't see it until they see it as a key thesis of mine. People don't see it until they see it, especially in this noisy world. So I started to put together a tape and then I applied to some TEDx is and I got the tapes from that. My whole journey with speaking has been a brick mentality of let me just keep doing this. And you know, and I truly thank you God for the ability to go after this path. I've just started to just level up. And okay, wow, now I got on this stage. And I have video from this. Well, now I'm this speaker. Yeah. Now I got on this stage. And now I have video from this. Well, now this speaker and so it all kind of continued to move all the while and I want to share two other things. I think these are both really important. All the while being obsessive with the craft. Because I've learned this and I'm sure you've learned this to it, you'll get that moment. But you do got to be ready for that moment. And I very much feel that if you are doing consistently good work. All the other things are gonna fall Yes, all the external stuff. But if you're seeking and chasing the external stuff, it's going to catch up because something's going to be hollow in there. So that was it playing the long game, not the short game. That's a lesson that I can continually have tried to embody because this is such a beautiful relationship. And you know, yeah. And the last thing that I feel compelled to say is, I felt like, Okay, I've got all this subject matter, and that I'm passionate about. And that's the cake. But for my first years doing this, I didn't know what frosting to put on the cake. And that is really big, because that is how people identify you. And they decide if they like that flavor. And if they want to invite that cake to their wedding, or their birthday party, or whatever it is. And I say that because it's really important. And the first few years I put on the wrong frosting, I was just guessing. I'm like, am I humor guy or positive? My fail guy. And so I was just like, flavors. And I believe that probably bureaus and clients didn't really know what to do with me. There was no clear box. Yeah, yes, exactly. And so the engagements I was getting was because they saw enough good stuff. But I think what really, you know, led to the next level was, I cleaned up everything and was like, This is my cake. This is, and it's not going to be the cake for everyone. But the people looking for that cake. I was very clear. I'm going to stop with this cake analogy now. But Julia Landauer 41:19 it's a really good analogy. So I appreciate it. Well, because I Alex Weber 41:23 think and I've talked to many speakers about this who are getting going, your cake is great, because you wouldn't have risen to this level of success in what you're doing. But we just got to figure out like, what frosting Are you putting on it? And for me, and I feel this was just a meant to be in really a blessing the this word unstoppable. I just said, You know what, I'm gonna go all in on this, because my book was called failproof become the unstoppable you. And this word unstoppable. I just really liked it. Because to me, it felt honest. It's not saying you're not gonna get knocked down. It's not saying you're not gonna have fears. It's just saying we're gonna keep going, I'm gonna make it through. And so I just said, you know, that's my frosting, I'm going to be the unstoppable guy. And that's, I think what's resonated? Well, Julia Landauer 42:08 that's awesome. And I think that that's so relevant, regardless of what you're doing or who you are, like if it's if you're want to have internet fame and be an influencer? Like, there's pick a lane and go for it like, no, no one's gonna be every thing to everyone, right? Like, and there is no way that every speaker is going to be perfect. For every audience. There are different tracks, there are different themes, like the freelancer who is entrepreneur trying to, like always get the next gig or whatever, like, it's like, oh, here's this conference, am I a good fit? Should I pitch myself it's like, don't force it. Like, if it's something that's not what your storytelling is going to complement. And it can feel like a bit of a dang, or especially if you like, there are a few clients or potential clients I've had where, you know, they want to have a talk beforehand. And they want to get into the nitty gritty as to what I'm going to be talking about. And there was one that I was excited to get cuz it was unexpected, and then turns out that it was not a good fit. And I could tell during the call that like the way I storytel wasn't going to be what they wanted, based on how they were asking their questions. So like, I knew that it probably wasn't the right fit and being okay with that, and learning that. Yeah, if you you have a specialty and you're going to be great for those specific audiences. And you don't have to be everything to everyone, once you're like, you know, kind of those like, super big speakers that can fit into any any event, but as we're building and if we're not household names, then really mastering the craft, I totally agree with you. Alex Weber 43:33 Oh, 100%. And, you know, it's I definitely in those meetings now learn the, like the power of questions and just listening. And that's the truth. I think whether you're in sales, or whether you are working with a client actively and ongoing, it's like people will tell you the answers. And yeah, I think that's been and I'm sure you've had this too. It's now if I meet with a client, and they express, this is what we're looking for. It's like, okay, well, then we'll change the keynote. And we're going to ramp up this area, or this area. And so I don't know I love I love this work for so many reasons. And there's like a, there's a puzzle element to it that I think is really fun to you know, totally Julia Landauer 44:17 agree, totally agree. How often do you and I know you just got started in 2020. So it's fairly new. But do you have a cadence at which you feel like okay, I need to revamp some of my themes. But I think what a lot of people don't know is like, a lot of speakers have one, two or three talk tracks that they kind of used. And a lot of times they'll cater it or curate it to the client, but it's not like a speaker has 50 different talks that they give. And so but there are times where it's like, I'm in this moment right now where I'm, I have my key keynote that I think will always be attractive and some collection of the themes will will always resonate with people, but I'm kind of at a point in my life. where I want to shift the style with which I give a keynote a little bit and maybe change the narrative arc a little bit and tap into some new experiences that I've had more recently that I have not yet. You know, kind of figured out how to storyteller. But I know this theme that I want to storytel like, and this is my, like, I've done this, you know, I started speaking in 2015. And so I've probably done this twice before this. And now this is like kind of the most seismic change, I feel like I'm going to embark on making, we'll see how well it goes. But do you? Have you found yet that you kind of decide, okay, I need to add more content or bring in fresh content? Alex Weber 45:38 I love that, that you're doing that. And it's such a scary, though. Julia Landauer 45:42 It's scary as it is. Alex Weber 45:44 I really admire it though. Because, you know, the trap? Is this is working. Let's just keep doing it. Mm hmm. Totally. But again, I mean, it's your it's your background, I think is a competitive high athlete that, you know, you have to just keep growing. And I think that's also where the fun is. And where this doesn't become stale. You know, and, yeah, so there's two directions. One is, I went through a period where I was finding all this cool content. And so I was, oh, this is great. I love this study, or I love this quote, or, you know, and I would put it in, and then I had a keynote, and it went great. But I was like, This is too much. This is too much. And I think that's a trap, especially as people are building is you want to share everything that you've ever believed about anything. And that's not the goal. You're you're doing a one line here. Yeah. So you know, I say survival, the fittest, you know, you got to the best of the best is what? But yeah, I think even now, I'm looking at the talk. And I'll use his expression, fresh eyes, you know, and that's probably from my entertainment days. But you you get so close to something and then you need to back all the way out with fresh eyes. And just look at it and say, Does this still belong here? Or is there something new or better? And so anyways, all that to say, I'm kind of in the middle of doing that now, too. And it's scary in a way? Because, yeah, you know, you like some stuff, but it might be time to move on to something else. Yeah. Julia Landauer 47:25 And I think also, something I'm preemptively nervous about is like, you have to deliver this for the first time, right? And so you're gonna have a client who hires you, and they're expecting you to do great, like your reputation has you been doing? And then it's like, alright, well, I'm getting my new talk. And, you know, you can practice it as much as you want at home. But you don't necessarily know how the audience is going to engage with it or react to it. And like, you know, I have a handful of stories that I know is going to rile the audience up, I know that they're gonna laugh if they don't, something's wrong with them. Because like, it's like, I know, I know, at this point does that. Nothing's, nothing's ever wrong with the audiences. You guys are perfect. You'd be me. No, but and so it's just like, there's a high pressure element to that. And I gotta say, like, my high pressure, and my competition is coming out in keynote speaking next, I'm not racing really as much. And so it's like, alright, well, this is the chance to rise to the occasion. And do it well, like don't don't go out there and deliver it until you're ready to do it. Well, Alex Weber 48:27 I fully agree. And I think that's a great thing. I, I would be worried the day when you are I don't get juiced up to go do it. Mm hmm. You know, and I think that's what's cool about having new content is, it's very real, you know, it's evolving with Uri as we're going through. Yes. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's so fun. It's really Julia Landauer 48:51 fun. And, and it's really challenging. And, oh, I wanted to go back to something you said earlier about how you like, you focus on the craft of what you're saying. I had one time where if someone I knew who also has a great story. They had gotten asked to give a keynote somewhere and asked if we could chat about it. And I was like, Sure. And so I'm talking with him and I talked about the importance of practicing. It's like, you know, if you're gonna ask someone he hadn't yet I think gotten paid to give a keynote and just like, if someone's gonna pay you like, you got to deliver something good. And I really believe that and he was like, Yeah, I don't think I'm gonna practice I think I'm just I don't have a good time just winging it with people. And I was like, This feels like such a slap in the face to everyone who's like honing in the craft and like, not just like answering questions, but really trying to to share a story and it was humbling. It was infuriating, but there's no right way to do a craft. I'm like, you know, what, if you're delivering something good for your audience, and that's fine, but just like I could never not prepare for it. Yeah, I Alex Weber 49:52 I mean, I think like, at least for me, q&a is a fun time where okay, we can be spontaneous and we We can think of totally, and I get a thrill out of that, as I'm sure you do. Yeah. But I don't know. I mean, I go back to there's two quotes that I'll share. John Wooden best basketball coach, arguably of all time, failure to prepare is preparing to fail. And that sticks, you know, and it's a lot of pressure to put on yourself to be like, Wow, I'm going to be incredibly articulate and succinct and present for an hour. We're gonna get on Yeah. And Julia Landauer 50:31 I wish I had that much confidence in myself. Alex Weber 50:34 And I don't think it's as fun. I mean, I had again, I had an acting teacher once. And we're doing this play, and I was trying to perform, but I didn't know the words, I didn't have them all memorized, and he goes, you're trying to dance but you don't know the steps. And that hit home so much. And I've carried that into life, when you know the steps and when you know, the, the not glamorous and the not fun stuff, but you got the fundamentals, then you have the foundation to dance and have fun and let it rip. And so yeah, Julia Landauer 51:04 that is such a beautiful analogy. And I feel like we could continue talking forever. But I'm going to use that as the really beautiful way to lead into our last segment, which is the if you're honest. And so this is just going to be for rapid fire questions, which I did not warn you about ahead of time. My apologies. All right. What has been your favorite venue that you've spoken at? In terms of like the atmosphere? Alex Weber 51:30 Okay, this one pops into mind. There's been so many incredible ones truly, and the production value of so many. The one that popped into mind was a little bit surreal. It was in a theater day of excellence. Rapid City, South Dakota, that's amazing event, it was 1600 people full theater. I did receive a standing ovation. And that was just a surreal moment. That's Julia Landauer 51:51 amazing, especially in a theater context, like that's really cool. Super cool. Okay, what is your go to meal to cook? Oh, Alex Weber 52:00 okay. So this is really big burgers on the grill. They're so good. And yeah, I like sushi. And I like you know, Italian restaurants. There's something so nourishing and fun and satisfying about just a huge burger on the grill. So that's it. Julia Landauer 52:21 What toppings you put on the burger? Alex Weber 52:23 Oh, thank you for asking Julia Landauer 52:25 you're very welcome. I ask the hard hitting questions. Alex Weber 52:29 I'm very simple. I don't like all this stuff. But I'll say this. It's swimming in catch up to the impossible amount of catch up on there. Julia Landauer 52:38 I love that. I've recently gotten into mixing ketchup and mustard. It almost gets like a kind of Chick fil A sauce vibe. Anyway, so good. What is one event that you are looking forward to speaking or otherwise in the next 12 months? Alex Weber 52:54 Gosh, so many I just had the client call with them earlier today. But it's pretty amazing. Credit Union in Navy Federal Credit Union based in Pensacola, and I'm gonna have some loved ones there God willing. And so that's just always super special. Yeah, that is Julia Landauer 53:11 super special. I'm not going to keep this rapid fire. Have you done many engagements where you have a loved one or someone that you're like, in the audience? Alex Weber 53:20 So I wouldn't say many, but I would say you know, I've invited my mom to come I've invited my dad to come girlfriend to come. And I think what I'm very big on is it needs to be it cannot be distracting, right? Yeah, and totally acting to any audience, client or you. And then you know, it's such a beautiful path that we do, what I found is because we share so much of our personal lives, just in what we do, like, like, their characters, life, and so they get a thrill of like audience members have been like, your Alex's mom, like I just saw you on video. That's so cool. So it's same thing, you know, the other folks and so it's just so beautiful. You know, I think one thing that I love so much about the speaking industry is it seems like everyone's winning, there's just this energy where, you know, your bureau partners are happy, the client, the audience, you're happy, everyone, it's just such a beautiful industry. It Julia Landauer 54:22 is such a beautiful industry. And I'm gonna go on a slight tangent again, I'm not keeping my own rule very well. But like, I love your what you said about it's something we're up, someone's always winning, because I feel like while there is competition, potentially amongst speakers to get a gig or whatever. Once you have done a gig for one client, you're not likely to perform again because they want to bring fresh people in for their audience. And so in some ways, it's like a really regenerative like industry and like, you know, you can kill it and then someone else can kill it. And I really liked it because from our HDI event, the smiley, he posted something on LinkedIn. And this is a speaker. I've met him in 2018 at a gig in Germany. And I was so excited to see his name on this event. agenda. But I was shocked because he posted on LinkedIn thanking the organizers. And then also mentioning, every single speaker that was there. I was like, Oh, my God, he is advertising other speakers, is this gonna kill his business? And then I realized, it's like an abundance mentality, and then we're gonna engage with that, and our audiences are gonna see it. And he's just like, it's that goodwill. And I was so humbled by that, and appreciated that and I feel like kind of it shifted. How I want to engage with the speaker community. That's such a Alex Weber 55:42 smiley thing to do. Yeah, right. Gotcha. Good guy. Yeah. Julia Landauer 55:46 So cool. Okay, back to the last, if you're honest, what is something that you're grateful for right now? Alex Weber 55:52 Oh, gosh, I'm grateful for this truly. I'm gonna give my my deeper answer to this, which is, this is a purpose and a calling. And one thing that I wrestle with is okay, Alex, that hour of onstage, what a gift because you're in purpose, you're helping people you're doing it. Now what I'm putting time and energy into is what do you do with that other hours, so that you are still sharing and helping and impacting people. So that is really something I'm stepping into in these months is how do I do that more? And so grateful for the chance to be here with you and to do it today? Oh, Julia Landauer 56:35 well, thank you for you made my job so easy. And you were such an absolute pleasure to talk with and you offer so much. It's obviously the obvious that you are a great storyteller. Where can people find you on social media? And I'll link these in the description. They Thank Alex Weber 56:49 you, Julia. I've been really looking forward to this. And yeah, I'm Alex Weber @imalexweber. One B in Weber. That's my handle on everything website, social media, LinkedIn, all that stuff. And I would love love love to connect with anyone can Julia Landauer 57:04 confirm that he responds to DM sorry if this gets you exposed, but after our event, I was like, Oh, my goodness, you're amazing. Will you come on my podcast, please? And no, I really appreciate that. This was so much fun. I have so many follow up questions, but that is our time. This is Alex. Whatever. I mean, this is so great. Thank you, Alex. Joy. Thank you so much, everyone. If you enjoyed this episode, I do hope that you will share. I do hope that you will go follow Alex. He's got incredible contact. He's the content. He's always on the road. Please go ahead and subscribe to the podcast. Follow the podcast and thank you for letting us be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.