Kolarele Sonaike is a person who’s constructed a profession across the energy of persuasion. He’s additionally been a lawyer—a barrister, in Brit-speak—for twenty-two years, representing individuals and corporations in business litigation disputes.
“We’re the ones that wear the wig and the gown, and kind of speak in a poncy way.”
By nearly any account, Kolarele has had a sustained and profitable authorized profession. But roughly fifteen years in the past, one in all his associates approached him asking for assist with a company presentation he was “petrified” about giving.
At first, Kolarele thought it wasn’t a great match for his abilities and expertise as a barrister. But after reluctantly agreeing to educate his good friend, Kolarele shortly realized he was good at instructing communication abilities—and that he preferred it, too.
“I really just enjoyed the process of helping.”
A spark had been ignited. As somebody who loves to write down, Kolarele began an essay that developed right into a e-book referred to as How to Give a Great Speech.
“And then I just started kind of getting inquiries from people. So I thought, okay, yeah, I can help you. And I just really grew from that.”
Since then, his enterprise, the Great Speech Consultancy, has expanded to incorporate not simply particular person teaching, however group teaching, company coaching, and on-line packages.
Communication Is Key, or Why Being Good at Your Job Isn’t Enough
Kolarele’s direct teaching shoppers are principally UK based mostly, with some within the US and Nigeria, the land of his heritage. His on-line shoppers are from a wider cross-section of the globe, together with India, Australia, and the US.
These shoppers are usually people who find themselves in mid- to senior-level roles in company establishments like funding banks. They’ve normally “spent the primary a part of their careers specializing in being actually good on the job. And then they get to some extent, they notice that really being within the job is simply half of it. If I can not talk successfully with individuals, I am not going to get additional.”
He additionally works with a number of entrepreneurs making an attempt to develop their companies and their profile. “They know that if they can speak better and communicate better, they’ll be able to do that.” So he helps them hone their elevator pitches.
But it goes deeper than that. One of the important thing methods through which Kolarele helps individuals develop into higher communicators is overcoming worry of public talking—one thing that “pretty much always boils down to confidence level.”
Related to that’s imposter syndrome, which Kolarele says can also be frequent.
“That is people worrying and querying: do they deserve to be where they are, or if it’s about going to the next level, do they really have what it takes to get to the next level?”
He’s seen how imposter syndrome performs out within the office and holds individuals again from attaining their objectives. “You’re giving a presentation and you are worried the way you come throughout. You’re in negotiations and you do not get the fitting consequence. You’re in conferences and you may’t reply questions successfully since you’re so anxious. And you concentrate on giving the reply versus giving them confidence in you, which is definitely two various things.”
He finds that many individuals attempt to sound extra assured by mimicking a well-known orator like Winston Churchill or Barack Obama. Or they’ll undertake a stiff and formal type of “corporate speak.” But, as he says, neither of those ways will get to the foundation of the difficulty—discovering the arrogance to channel their true voice.
“So a big part of it is breaking through that, centering themselves back on who they really are. And once they get there, then actually communication kind of becomes easy.”
Kolarele buildings his teaching work to dig up that inside confidence. As he tells potential shoppers, “Don’t come to me if you want a little tweak here and there. We’re going to go deep and unlock some stuff.”
From a Blog and Email List to TV Star
Word-of-mouth referral was the engine that grew Kolarele’s enterprise from the beginning, and it continues to be on the middle of the flywheel.
But as soon as he began taking his enterprise significantly, he began getting extra deliberate along with his advertising. That’s when he got here throughout Pat Flynn and SPI and received the steering he wanted to begin constructing a website and e mail record. As somebody who loves writing, he maintains an energetic weblog on his website, in addition to a LinkedIn and Twitter presence. He has his personal YouTube channel, and he’s made appearances on others’ channels. He additionally began the Great Speech Podcast in early 2019, and it’s going robust with twenty-five episodes and counting. In 2019, he even had a small half on an Amazon actuality TV present referred to as The Updaters.
Kolarele counts a number of of Pat’s sources as instrumental in his entrepreneurial development, together with the Email Marketing and Affiliate Marketing guides and Pat’s seminal Will It Fly? e-book. He additionally loves the How to Start a Podcast information, and even listed the SPI Podcast primary on a listing of resources for entrepreneurs on his web site.
Passed Over, Passed By, Misunderstood
On his very first day as a barrister, a senior lawyer pulled Kolarele right into a convention room in his chambers and requested him—in all seriousness—if he might assist him purchase some medicine.
It was an egregiously racist encounter—and hardly the one one in all its form Kolarele has skilled.
Before COVID, when Kolarele was recurrently in courtroom representing his shoppers, he received used to being mistaken for the consumer fairly than the barrister. “It is embarrassing,” he says, that folks in his trade generally assume that the white individual he’s representing is the skilled and never Kolarele, the completed barrister with greater than twenty years of expertise.
On one other event, he was representing a Black lady in a discrimination case, through which the girl’s employers complained about how she appeared to be “always angry.” Kolarele identified that the stereotype of the offended Black lady is one with “real racial, historical underpinnings.” But the decide refused to consider him.
“He shouted at me because he said I was talking total nonsense. And his basis for that was, ‘I played basketball with some Black friends and they’ve never said this to me.’”
Kolarele requested the decide if they might adjourn, then invited him to google “angry Black woman.” A couple of minutes later, the decide got here again, flustered. He stated to Kolarele that his eyes had been opened—because of an article on the prime of search outcomes about Michelle Obama and the “angry” label she has carried since being within the public’s eye.
The actual problem is that sense that you’ve got, however you’ll be able to’t essentially level to it or you’ll be able to’t problem it, that you simply simply are locked out of alternatives.
Or take the time at a celebration when Kolarele received right into a dialog in regards to the discrimination he skilled making an attempt to hail a cab in London, the place taxi drivers would usually merely refuse to cease for him. When he’d exit with a mixed-race group of associates, the white associates would hail the cab whereas the Black associates sat again and jumped in as soon as it had stopped.
He informed his dialog associate, a white lady, that he most well-liked utilizing Uber as a result of he didn’t have that have. “I know I’m not going to be passed by,” he stated.
The lady received upset and informed Kolarele he was mendacity.
“I’m like, ‘No, I’m not lying. I’m just saying that’s actually the reality.’”
Along with these overt situations, Kolarele factors out how racism impacts Black people—and entrepreneurs particularly—in additional insidious methods.
“The real issue is that sense that you have, but you can’t necessarily point to it or you can’t challenge it, that you just are locked out of opportunities that you can see others with maybe as much, or maybe less ability or experience or offerings, get the opportunity for. And it kind of permeates.”
He’s noticed how he’s usually neglected for his communication work regardless of his immense abilities, credentials, and expertise.
“I mean, I work my a– off at it. I study it from being a barrister for twenty years. I’ve taken all of that. I’ve crafted my approach to it. And yet you will see colleagues or people, friends, whatever, when people look to hire a coach or someone to come in and do something, they’ll gravitate towards those people—even having put my profile side-by-side with theirs and they say, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll take this guy.’”
“And it is simply that sense of, Ugh, man…”
He’s additionally seen how his spouse, Eva, who owns a high-end home goods brand called Eva Sonaike that creates furnishings made from African fabrics, has been handed over for publicity alternatives which have gone to White model homeowners with inferior merchandise.
“Her brand is just amazing—but she has to push and push.”
Making the Economic Case for Diversity
In addition to the Great Speech Consultancy, Kolarele additionally consults for corporations and organizations on problems with range and inclusion. When his consulting shoppers ask him the way to create a extra welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, he usually solutions in a stunning means.
“I primarily comment from almost an entirely economic angle, which is: Diversity is economically good for you.”
In his expertise, many organizations restrict the pool of government expertise or the vary of potential shoppers of their merchandise—a blind spot and missed alternative. He helps these corporations perceive that by being extra inclusive about who they rent and market to, they’ll unlock latent financial benefits. Simply making their enterprise extra welcoming to Black shoppers by hiring extra Black staff could be a good bottom-line transfer.
He’ll usually inform these corporations’ leaders, “Your ability to succeed is being directly hampered from your own efforts, because you’re missing out on a huge swath of people who are just as talented, perhaps even more talented or hungrier definitely, and more coachable, more adaptable, because that’s the life they’ve had to lead.”
“So open yourself to that because it’s going to help you economically.”
Entrepreneurs, Want to Be Antiracist? Expand Your Circles
Kolarele believes it’s not simply bigger corporations and organizations that may profit from taking a extra inclusive method. He encourages smaller enterprise homeowners, particularly white entrepreneurs, to look significantly at who’s of their “circle” and think about increasing it.
As Kolarele factors out, it’s one factor to be an out-and-out racist—and fortunately, the big majority of oldsters usually are not—however that’s not the place white entrepreneurs must do the work.
“Nobody generally tries to be racist or tries to exclude. But when you find that you generally are just speaking with and engaging with a circle, that circle becomes kind of self-reinforcing.”
He encourages these entrepreneurs to “reexamine kind of every stage of your work pipeline, as it were. And just say, ‘Okay, what could we be more open to?’”
Whether it’s hiring a contractor to assist with graphic design, or contemplating the inventory photographs you’re utilizing in your advertising supplies, “at every level, think more about what you’re doing.”
That theme—of increasing your community—is one Kolarele explored in a webinar dialog with the UK Federation of Small Businesses titled “Diversity and Inclusion – how should small businesses respond to the Black Lives Matters campaign” in July 2020.
He additionally desires individuals to grasp this work as way more than only a pattern to latch onto. “Really the biggest thing for me is when the cameras are gone, right? When the next big news item takes everybody’s focus—that’s when to dig in.”
How Lockdown Freed Things Up
As COVID took maintain, courts closed, and shoppers shut their workplaces, Kolarele noticed his authorized work virtually fully dry up—a drop on the order of “90 percent.”
Thankfully, this gave him the possibility to concentrate on the entrepreneurial aspect of issues. While he was initially anxious when he noticed his authorized workload shrink, that concern “has been offset by what it’s meant for the other side of my life.”
“COVID and lockdown has given me the first opportunity to really scale [the business], and really put everything into it.”
He’s taken on extra one-on-one teaching shoppers, and he’s began constructing a gaggle teaching program.
Another profit has been extra “thinking time.” He’s taking extra walks, which he loves as a result of they’re a giant supply of inspiration. “By the time I come back, I’ve got a great idea.”
He’s even discovered the time to begin ghostwriting a e-book.
“It’s given me the opportunity to push forward on an area that is really my passion, in terms of the communication skills work, but also do it in a more strategic way, more creative.”
Two Kinds of Intensity
“I’ve been in the legal game for a good twenty-odd years now, which has given me a great grounding for my communication skills business,” Kolarele says.
The pure trajectory of his authorized profession has been main him to ultimately develop into a Queen’s Counsel (QC), and maybe in the future a decide. But that path will not be the place Kolarele’s coronary heart or ambition is pointing him.
“Everyone’s saying you should go and do it. And I just decided I didn’t want to go down that road. Primarily because I enjoy the variety that comes with being both a lawyer and a communication skills coach.”
He enjoys his authorized work, though the depth may be grueling. Getting prepared for a authorized case is “hours and hours of preparation,” which has usually discovered Kolarele up till two or three within the morning.
“Come on, you can’t do this. It’s not sustainable,” his spouse has stated to him on multiple event.
The teaching aspect of issues, alternatively? “It’s a different kind of intensity. Once you’ve kind of created your system and your approach to it, it’s the intensity of the moment of coaching, but it’s less intense outside of that.”
He’d be high-quality doing quite a lot of substantial authorized instances a yr, and taking up extra work teaching with companies “who want to take their employees to the next level in their careers and know that communication skills are needed for that.” And though he’s an completed speaker within the UK, he additionally desires to develop into much more wanted for his talking work globally.
Not being tied to the area the place he works as a lawyer would additionally create much more way of life freedom for Kolarele and his household.
“Even if we stay in London […] I can say, yeah, we’re going away for a couple of weeks or a couple of months or whatever it is because I can work from anywhere.”
Kolarele Sonaike is a training barrister and the proprietor of the Great Speech Consultancy. He’s additionally the creator of How to Give a Great Speech, in addition to a children’ e-book, The Bird That Had Vertigo. He has been a mentor, board member, and president of 100 Black Men of London, and he presently serves on the board of the 100 Black Men of America. He additionally wrote a script for a film referred to as Wingman—sadly by no means made—that might have been the British Swingers. He lives in London, UK, along with his spouse, Eva, and their two children.