Ep. #1122 - AI Speech Coaching: Communicate with Confidence
Have you heard? Our top Seattle startup list is published on Inc.com! And today we’re talking with one of the featured founders.
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Lauren Conaway speaks to Esha Joshi, co-founder of Yoodli, about AI speech coaching. Our guest shares her expertise to help you communicate with confidence. Moreover, she lets you take a sneak peek into how Yoodli empowers you and everyone else to improve your communication skills.
Covered In This Episode
Do you need help with public speaking? Then Esha and her AI speech coaching platform are an answer to explore. She shares an insightful discussion with Lauren in this session.
They talk about how exactly Yoodli enables you to improve your communication skills. Moreover, expert tips on what to do when speaking in public are shared too.
Improve your public speaking skills. Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Esha’s journey (02:21)
- On struggling with public speaking (04:34)
- What’s a great equalizer for people with English as their second language? (07:15)
- How does Yoodli work? (08:49)
- The story of how Yoodli came about (15:16)
- Users’ feedback on Yoodli (20:23)
- Common things to watch out for in public speaking (22:46)
- Yoodli is your AI speech coach (28:08)
- Yoodli is freemium (30:04)
- Good standby communication methods that founders can use (31:47)
- The effects of Yoodli on its users (36:51)
- What’s in the future for Yoodli? (39:21)
I’m actually not a great speaker. I’m a fantastic talker, and I’m a good connector. But those things are not the same. So you have to be mindful of how you communicate when you are coming from a place of expertise.– Lauren Conaway
Humans in the loop are important and should not be removed from conversation and communication. Communication is so cultural and nuanced and beautiful, inherently between two different people. So you can’t relegate it to just data.– Esha Joshi
People are more intentional with the stuff they want to communicate. So they can figure out how to interject it organically at certain points in the conversation.– Esha Joshi
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:01
And we are back. Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHer KC. And I got to talk to you about today’s episode sponsor, friends. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers can be really difficult, but Full Scale can help. They can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. All right, friends, I think you may have heard, but we recently published our top Seattle startups episode. And today, we have one of those amazing founders with us. We saw a theme in a lot of the Seattle startups; a lot of them were related to AI or artificial intelligence. And I was really excited as we were talking about the founder that we’ll be speaking with today. We have Esha Joshi today. She is a co-founder of Yoodli. They are a platform that helps you improve your communication skills without the pressure of judgment. They use AI-powered technology to provide you with real-time personalized feedback on things like filler words, eye contact, pacing, and more. These are all things that I struggle with. So I was super, super excited to hear about Yoodli, and I’m very excited to have Esha Joshi with us today. Esha, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today.
Esha Joshi 01:25
Hey, Lauren; so great to be here. Thanks for the opportunity to be on the show.
Lauren Conaway 01:30
Absolutely. Well, we’re gonna go ahead and kick it off Morgan style. We’re just gonna dive right in. And I’m going to ask you to tell us about your journey, Esha.
Esha Joshi 01:41
Yes, great question. I have spent the last two years on a journey to help people build the confidence to speak with confidence. I’m working on the Yoodli, which is an AI-powered speaking coach or communication coach, to help people have the skills to speak with confidence anytime they speak so that they can get the opportunities they deserve. The idea with this is it provides you with judgment-free feedback on your public speaking skills, anywhere from delivery metrics like you mentioned. Like tone, pitch, intonation, to content as well. And I can go into more, but I’m really passionate about helping people become more confident communicators. And this is why I’m doing this.
Lauren Conaway 02:25
Yeah, well, that is incredible. And I have to tell you, so right now, literally, right now, you can’t see this. But I actually have a post on my computer that says, Don’t say so. And it’s because I have this really bad tendency to start. It’s a verbal tic, and I have this really bad tendency to start sentences with. So apropos of nothing, and just so, how do you feel about this? So how has your day been? You know, that’s how I like to start conversations. And it’s not something that I think about. And so when I was talking about Yoodli and learning about it, I was really excited. Because it’s one of those things where I’m hoping to have the things that I don’t know that I do illuminate for me, like somebody had to tell me, Hey, Lauren, you say, so a lot on the podcast, can you knock that shit off? And I was like, yeah, probably I will try it. But the other thing is, you keep on saying judgment free. And I love that. Because I feel as though there’s a little bit of embarrassment sometimes when you’re trying to work on your communication skills. And so being able to, like, basically you’re, you’re kind of talking to a machine, you’re talking to a very intelligent learning-focused machine. But the fact is, this AI is not judging you. It’s just saying, Hey, these are things they could do. These are things to look out for. So I love the concept of Yoodli so much. And I have to ask you, does your founding of this company have anything to do with personal experience?
Esha Joshi 03:57
Great question. And by the way, I love that you said that you have that sticky note that says, Oh, don’t fret with so because I have various versions of that too. In fact, I am usually running right now on this, like on my system as we’re speaking, and right when I started speaking, it was like, hey, Esha, don’t forget to smile. You know, I don’t know if the video is going to be available here. But if it is, I’m smiling. Because coaching from you leaves that said, don’t forget to smile.
Lauren Conaway 04:27
So yeah, love it. So I mean, it’s real real-time. Like if, like, we’re speaking, and here’s your direct feedback. This is the thing that you need to focus on right now.
Esha Joshi 04:37
Lauren Conaway 04:38
So you struggled with it by speaking in public, or you found that you had some challenges in this area. Can you talk to us about that and how that your own personal experience usually became?
Esha Joshi 04:50
Yeah, of course. I’ll go back to growing up. I was very chatty and extroverted. Sillim, but it was Babli come and go coherent run-on sentences, you know what, like, Look all around the place. And when I got to college, I realized, well, like I really need to have confidence with how I speak, not even specifically with an interview or a speech, but literally with my day-to-day conversation. And I was also studying engineering. So I was in a situation where there were lots of people who didn’t look like me around me, which made shorter people harder. So what I did is, one, I brought all of my female Software Engineering major friends, and we all went to Toastmasters and different classes just to work on speaking up and speaking more in certain situations. And that was the start of my journey toward bettering myself as a communicator. I’ve been working really hard at it, I still do, and cross the last, whatever now, six or seven years of putting myself out there, I’ve noticed a few things. One, there are really, really competent and amazing people out there who have great things to say but don’t have the skills to back themselves up when they speak. And that’s an issue for me. Sure. I’ve seen, you know, as a part of that, I’ve seen women and under other underrepresented minorities, immigrants, people who learned English as a Second Language fall in this, and to me, it’s, you know, it’s a shame that there are these people who can’t get those amazing jobs, or that salary for that promotion, because they can’t, you know, put themselves out there in the way that really shows you people are really charismatic people.
Lauren Conaway 06:35
So is that the industry term schmooze Z people? Is that what we call them? We call them, yeah, that’s like a whole new category. Yeah, well, so that’s really, really awesome. And I love that you mentioned immigrant communities, folks whose English is not their first language because I do feel like Udemy could be a great equalizer. The fact is one of the, or I guess one of the things that I talk about often in my speaking life is because sometimes people pay me to speak. But one of the things that I talk about often is the fact that just because you have a lot of great information in you doesn’t mean that you are a great speaker; I’m actually not a great speaker. I’m a fantastic talker, and I’m a good connector. But those things are not the same. And so you have to be really mindful of how you are communicating when you are coming from a place of expertise, when you’re trying to share your expertise when you’re trying to introduce yourself and your company. And the fact is, you are providing help for people who, even engineers, like engineers, don’t tend to be super qualitative in their communication styles; they tend to be more numbers based. And so any kind of feedback that can help equalize and make speaking and communicating more accessible is a really powerful thing. Is that kind of the foundation of usually, like, let’s make this thing that people think is really hard. Easier. Is that kind of it?
Esha Joshi 08:09
Yeah, absolutely. Diving into a little bit of how it works. So you leave, which is what we call our AI speech coach; it will automatically give feedback on things like your eye contact, body language, filler words, and content, the same way that, as you know, your Apple Watch will provide analytics on your walking or your medical report will highlight the status of your blood pressure and temperature, etc. The goal behind you, please not to make people speak specifically without filler words or sound like a robot. It’s quite the opposite. It’s to help build in loops of exposure therapy, 1000s of communication coaches, regular communication coaches, interview coaches, speech-language pathologists, and everyone in between Toastmasters coaches, etc. And every coach will tell you that the number one way to improve your speaking, the everyday conversation on Zoom in an interview or speech, is to record yourself, practice in front of a mirror, you know, watch and hear yourself and that as you do that you’ll cringe which will make you know, shy away from doing that. But with you leaving, we make that process easier and a little bit more fun. For example, we’ll say you might have these filler words, but you know, Barack Obama has the same filler words for the same present.
Lauren Conaway 09:32
So you’re telling me that you were telling me that I’m like Barack Obama, because I’m totally down with that. Yeah.
Esha Joshi 09:39
Interpret it anywhere you want. Very, very cool. That’s the gist of it.
Lauren Conaway 09:45
We’ll see you seven; you said that usually is running for you right now. And that it gave you that real-time actionable, actionable feedback. So what does that look like from the user experience? Do you have a pop-up? Do you have something just like a window, just kind of continually running as you’re speaking? What does it look like right now? Describe it for us.
Esha Joshi 10:02
Yeah. So, as part of our foundation, there are a couple of different ways that folks can use Yodlee. One is, you know, practicing on the website, another is usually using your coals, kind of like golf, you know, we’re at like a zoom button joins your call. So those are two options. The one I’m using right now is called Private Up. So there is this idea of having this private real-time speech coach companion that sits on your machine, and it only listens to what you’re saying, it only analyzes your voice and is not recording everyone here. And it’s giving me these coaching nudges, as I’m speaking. Now, remember to smile or remember to have fun and breathe throughout this; you know, be sure to check your lighting before your meeting starts. And then as your meeting progresses, he’s you’re, you’re talking too fast. So damn it, no problem. Or maybe you’re talking too much. Pause and let other people speak. Or another one is, you know, I have a set of talking points that I want to hit for this conversation throughout the call, and I’ll say, you’ve hit this, but you haven’t hit this event, maybe you want to weave it into the conversation. So think of it as like, it’s my buddy; it’s just helping me throughout the conversation.
Lauren Conaway 11:19
And it’s your buddy, but it’s also a safe space like I keep on going back. So I actually when I decided that when I joined Startup Hustle. And when I started getting hired for professional speaking engagements, I decided, you know, I need to figure out a way to get better at this because it’s hard to get better at this; it takes a lot of work to become a capable communicator. And as you said, you mentioned this earlier, but it’s the work never ever, you know, you end up with different filler words, when you eradicate one another, one pops up and, or you’ll be speaking to different kinds of audiences. And you kind of tailor your message and figure out what in your messaging is going to impact the most. And so, there are a lot of different facets to this kind of communication. So when I started doing it on a regular basis and decided it was something that I wanted to focus on, I was like, I need to get better. And so I put together a group of women who also wanted to make public speaking and make this a part of their lives. We started to get together. We did like this mastermind, but that’s exactly what we did. We came together and practiced in front of each other, we, you know, we would point out, Hey, your content could be a little bit stronger here. Or you could, you know, say this in a slightly different way. Or, you know, hey, you keep on using a and, um, you know, make sure that you’re making eye contact, but we were doing exactly what usually does. I will tell you that when we first started with these ladies, I was a little embarrassed; I was like, I know, it’s so odd because you think these are talks that I give in front of a paying audience. But doing it one on one was always kind of odd, you know, this person is just staring right at me, ready to give me feedback. So I can see that there would be a lot of grace, a lot of safety, and a lot of bravery. Bravery is allowed, and used an AI tool for this kind of work. So thank you.
Esha Joshi 13:16
Absolutely. I like how you said you had this amazing community to go to where you can each poke each other and say, you know, hey, Lauren, his name is Bob, not Rob, like he made a phone call.
Lauren Conaway 13:30
That’s amazing that you had this in the human experience. That is absolutely coming from a place of privilege.
Esha Joshi 13:36
Well, I was gonna say the human in the loop is very important and should not be removed with conversation and communication because communication is so cultural and nuanced and beautiful and inherently between two different people. So you can’t, like, relegate it to just data. But at the same time, you know, not everybody could feel comfortable, you know, asking their friends like, Hey, can you give me feedback on this or going to a budget to a lovely community and asking for feedback on whatever they’re trying to say. So usually is trying to bridge the two together and, essentially, democratize communications health.
Lauren Conaway 14:13
You said one of my favorite words of all time democratize; thank you for that. That was super fun for me. So talk to you. Talk to us about your process to create this product. How did the idea come to you? Who did you work with to bring it to fruition? What did that look like?
Esha Joshi 14:36
Yeah. For me, since I’ve struggled with communication quite a bit, and I’ve worked at it, I’ve felt that my challenge or my struggles with communication come from having to communicate in situations where there are high stakes people or where there are people who don’t look like me to recover from being interrupted, right? From my personal experiences, that being a person of color, a woman of color in, you know, where there aren’t a lot of women of color around me or even women period. And I was pretty tired of that. And I wanted to give; I wanted to build something to help myself. But women all around, be more confident. So that’s where this started. And that’s what led me to quit my former job at Apple, where I was working as an engineering product manager, and moved to Seattle, not knowing anyone and starting working on this. So it’s been a really fun, fulfilling, but also tough journey because I’ve never built a company before. But also, I’m trying to build something that is such a ubiquitous problem. Everyone understands challenges with communication; everyone’s had that horror story. Oh, for sure. But then I’m trying to figure out what is going to be useful and helpful to people. But, you know, also not make them sound like Steve Jobs, but also useful and helpful for women, which is my primary reason for working on this list, like, who by working with, I’m working with a very close friend, who is my co-founder. And he is very passionate about this as well. He’s passionate, he’s from Indiana, and he’s really passionate about helping people, immigrants, and people who’ve learned English as a second language, speak with confidence.
Lauren Conaway 16:22
Yeah, well, and, of course, doing what I do, the lens that I look at everything through is that of women’s peace. And so I will say that, typically, or at least in my experience, the women that I communicate with, and I mean, I talk to women all day, every day, think about them, you know, live with, like, just women, women, women is my life. And one of the things that I have found is that often women kind of fall behind in the communication game because we tend to be socialized, to not brag about ourselves, to remain quiet, not put ourselves out there. You know, and so that feeling of empowerment that you get, when you realize that you’re good at something, I want all women to have that around communication, you know, so I actually, and I don’t even know if you’ve heard of this, but I have a Google Chrome extension, plugged in. And basically, what it does is it goes through my Gmail, my emails, and my written communications; this extension is called just not sorry. And it goes through. And it underlines every single time I use problematic words, words that have been identified as being it is helping to defuse or soften and appoint words that are unnecessary because I find that as a woman and as a human being, I have a tendency to fluff things up a lot. And so I’ll say, that’s just my feeling. Or I’ll soften my message. And sometimes, that’s not an appropriate thing to do, given the audience and environment. And so I use these Chrome extensions to kind of check myself and make sure like, Hey, are you using those filler words? Are you doing those things that kind of don’t help you prove your points? And so I had already been aware that there were tools and tricks out there, but I kind of feel like AI. With how quickly it’s gaining traction and how much we’re talking about it. I feel like AI is just this huge opportunity to enter and to help make yet another vertical, another area of interest, that much better, that much more efficient. And, of course, I am super psyched that I imagine a lot of women probably benefit from it. So again, you know, thank you so much. Really quick, I do want to bust in here, and I want to also thank our episode sponsors. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by FullScale.io. Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io, where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. those keywords right there. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Now, friends, we are here with Esha Joshi, co-founder of Usually and Usually, an AI tool that helps you improve your communication skills. So Esha happened right back into it. I need to know what kind of feedback you hear from your customers? You said that you work with like 1000s of communication coaches, like clearly you, you know, raise the money. You’re doing really amazing things in space. What is the feedback you’ve gotten?
Esha Joshi 19:43
Great question. Yeah, we’re working with communication coaches; as you said, Toastmasters members, are you familiar with Toastmasters?
Lauren Conaway 19:52
So I have never personally taken part in Toastmasters, but I have heard ridiculous crazy positive feedback. act on the impact that Toastmasters can have on. So Toastmasters is a chapter membership-based group where people in cities across the country and probably even the world; I don’t know for that for sure. But they come together to do exactly what we’re talking about. They practice public speaking, they write speeches, and they give them in real-time, and they get feedback. And I’m pretty sure they even have chapter awards for their members. Like, Hey, you did an amazing job on that speech. Take a trophy. And that’s really cool. So you work with Toastmasters?
Esha Joshi 20:35
We work with Toastmasters? Yeah. So Toastmasters. Pride is a really well-known organization for bringing people together to practice public speaking in physical community setups, which is awesome. And when we were building up, we were like, we’ve got to work Toastmasters. They’re the leading public speaking organization, and they care about the mission if they’re, you know, an obvious partner if they’re willing to partner with us. And fast forward a year later, we have been partnering with Toastmasters; we’ve rolled out our software to about 300,000 people worldwide, and we’re super grateful for this opportunity. And between the coaches, Toastmasters, and regular working professional folks that use you leave, people are really loving, that they can get this awareness of their speaking skills like they wouldn’t have known that they speak with crutch words, or you know, that they speak incredibly fast, or that they speak with up talk or vocal fry, or any of these other tics. Folks don’t know about this. And they’re grateful that you’d be a tool that can provide this for them. As we’ve said, in a judgment-free way. That’s the main feedback we’re getting is just this awareness and this idea of how they can work towards improving whatever realm of their speaking they want to over time with consistent practice and effort through their belief.
Lauren Conaway 22:06
Well, I love that so much. And now, I’m gonna, I’m gonna pick on you a little bit; I’m going to ask you to share your expertise. One of the things that I mentioned almost in almost every single one of my episodes, but one of the things that I love to do is provide that real-time actionable thing that our listeners can do today, in their business in their lives. And so I’m going to ask you, talk to us about some of the most common things that folks do, what we would, what we would consider problematic things that you don’t want to do when you’re speaking in public or trying to convey a message. So we’ve you mentioned filler words, I that’s a huge one for me, like, my whole soul journey has been ridiculous. But what are some other things that our listeners can watch out for? As they look to speak in public? Or give their elevator pitch, or whatever it is they’re hoping to do?
Esha Joshi 23:00
Yeah, great question. I can list a laundry list of things.
Lauren Conaway 23:06
And I’ll cover three or three, and then we’ll see where we can do this.
Esha Joshi 23:11
And I’ll say, like all of these, you can learn about yourself if you go up and start using it right. So there’s my subtle, shameless pitch for that.
Lauren Conaway 23:21
Incidentally, there is a link in the show notes that we invite you to check out and definitely learn more about; usually, we would recommend and recommend we continue.
Esha Joshi 23:32
So one tip that I see a lot is the use of repetition to hide what you’re trying to say; when people don’t always have the words to say, they’ll say repetitive phrases or words. And people use that as a crutch. I use it as well. And I’ll tend to have a lot of repetitive phrases and words. So that’s one thing to be mindful of, too; when presenting at least a speech, always be slower and pause. People tend to race through whatever they’re saying. Yeah. In conversations, right, so I’m talking across a few different mediums. So I just talked about the public speaking one. Now I’m talking about the conversational one. Sure, there tends to be in interviews; for example, there’s a lot of like, we have done this, we are working on this. But in an interview, there is an element of AI or AI that has achieved this. There’s a healthy balance between AI and you and us, and knowing that not a lot of folks are always aware of it. And I think that’s extremely relevant, given all of the layoffs and the job market and people interviewing that I talked about, so I’m trying to give the nonobvious ones, but the IW EU comparison is a big one. Yeah. Pausing after asking a question instead of just asking you the question and then rattling into more context of the question is another one.
Lauren Conaway 25:04
I like raising my hand here. I like guilt. Continue, continue.
Esha Joshi 25:11
Continue. Yeah, let’s see.
Lauren Conaway 25:15
Well, I mean, those are, those are really, really great tips, honestly. And so one of the things that I would invite our listeners to do, maybe as a starting point, like definitely use usually, for sure. But the other thing is, you mentioned it earlier, like as a starting point, maybe you just look in the mirror and give your elevator pitch or whatever it is you’re hoping to accomplish and just kind of see, see what you’re doing. One of the things that I had to do with my elevator pitch is I had to internalize it, like, say it so often that I had it down by heart; it was one of those things that I could pare it back, but then I gotta make it my own. Once I had it fully, fully meshed in my explanation of who I am and what I’m about. I could vary it a little bit for different audiences, I can be funnier in places, and so so I just invite you to get really intentional about your communication because I feel like that’s the first step, like identifying that you have problems figure and figuring out what those problems are, are like that’s the first step. And that’s what I usually can do. But that’s what you should do as a communicator, figure out where are my blind spots? What do I not know? What am I doing without realizing it? I was totally taken aback. It was Jessica Powell. Actually, she’s one of our producers on Startup Hustle. She was the one who told me about the soy thing she was, and I was so surprised. I didn’t argue. I mean, I know that she’s right. But I definitely was like, Oh, I didn’t even know that I was doing that. You know, and so just become really conscious of your communication style and the things that you’re saying and what you’re doing. No, I love that so much. And I want to drill down a little bit on the speed thing because I’m absolutely guilty of talking too fast. And one of the things that I love about your communication style Esha is you’re very clear. You can tell that you’re being very thoughtful. And I’m wondering if, as a result of practice, I need to slow down; I need to take time to pause and allow for conversation. Is that because of your ability to do that?
Esha Joshi 27:20
All of the above.
Lauren Conaway 27:22
I think she just did it. She just thought about it before she answered. And I love You’re so thoughtful.
Esha Joshi 27:28
Thank you, I appreciate it. I really like what you said earlier, using Yoodli as a baseline to really understand your blinders and your speaking tics. Yeah, it is across the board in life whenever there is some kind of problem, and I put quotes in. Awareness is always the first step, like awareness of what you do or how you do it. And then understanding like, why do you do it? And how to maybe learn a new habit? Yeah, usually serves as that baseline. It is an assistant to help you figure out what those things are. And, you know, stepping back years and years, especially the last two years, I have been using you, Yoodli, to learn more about my speaking than sometimes like coaches have given me because I change my style periodically and experiment with new ways of speaking, will help me understand, like, I’m not varying my speaking pace, or I’m sounding monotonous, or I spoke for over 60% of this, I really should have asked more questions. Or, I started a lot of my questions and sentences with so or I had this intro that I used 15 times, and across these 15 times, these three were more succinct and landed better based on how the person responded, and these other ones were not. So it’s been, like, a lot of effort for me to understand. What is it? What is it that I do? And what are ways that I can get better? Yeah, typically, you know, people will go spend 1000s of dollars for a communications coach. And that’s amazing. You know, if you can do that, communications coaches are awesome. But there’s a large percentage of the population that may not have the ability to pay for that.
Lauren Conaway 29:24
And so what do you do? What kind of work can represent 1000s of dollars, and that most people don’t necessarily have 1000s of dollars just sitting around in their back pocket? And so we kind of buried the lede here, but usually it’s free. It’s freemium, right? Yes, I mean, talking about democratizing access, like you really mean it. You’re a founder who is really putting your lack of money where your mouth is because you’re offering this product for free. That’s incredible. Yes, I was just looking at, I’m like, Well, I’m signing up, I’m literally signing up right now, just so you know, like I was we’re talking.
Esha Joshi 30:07
Amazing, I was so glad. Yeah, it is free; it’s free to get started, and it’s free to test out the software and see and have your own speaking diagnostic. And there is a community that you can join also for free. And so if you get to that point where you’re using up and you see all of this data, and you see any suggestions, but you don’t know what else to do, you can post in the community and say, but you the stats are telling me X, Y, and Z. And I’m working on this, but I’m not sure if the next step is to elevate myself like Can somebody help. And anyone from my co-founder to me to any of our speaking coaches, you’d be ambassadors; everyone will chime in and say, Well, have you thought about this considering that? I’d be happy to jump on a call here and do this and do that. We truly are putting our absence of money where our mouth is like; we want to help people. And, of course, we’re a business too. So we’re figuring that part of it out as well.
Lauren Conaway 31:07
But well, well, that is super cool. And I love that now I’m gonna switch directions again, you know, you don’t get whiplash. But I want to talk about an entrepreneur’s toolbox. So I talked about this sometimes, the fact that there are things that you do as an entrepreneur time and time again, or even just as a human being time and time again, and I consider the things that you do over and over again to be part of your toolbox. So, for instance, we talk about your elevator pitch a lot; that is a tool in your toolbox; it is the way that you introduce yourself to the world with confidence and with clarity. And so, an elevator pitch is super important. That is something that, as a founder, you can focus on and that you can use usually, or you can use those coaches, or you can use that community to get better at what are some other use cases, things that entrepreneurs can work on, in order to more clearly communicate their mission, their vision, you know, what are some really good standby communication methods that our founders can use?
Esha Joshi 32:13
The elevator pitch is incredibly important for VCs and around hiring folks trying to raise capital, etc, and so on and so forth. Game partners. I think another one that is not talked about as much is how well you are as a networker, like how you are kind of in an impromptu situation. It’s water cooler talk at work, but like, you could be at any event on, like, you need to turn on, and it’s not exactly a, you know, pitching yourself, but it’s being able to like show up and talk the talk, whatever it might be, and connect with the person you’re speaking with. And one way that you can help with that is we have a number of games on the platform as part of our training at the front door.
Lauren Conaway 33:01
Do you really?
Esha Joshi 33:04
We do. Yeah, we’ve got some fun AI-powered games and exercises that help you with your often on-the-spot thinking and speaking. We’ve got one yard, Yeah, where it will give you that much.
Lauren Conaway 33:20
I can’t even express it. How fun is that? So but Esha I, one of the things that I’m this is gonna sound like such an eager statement, and I apologize in advance. But one of the things that I’m known for in the Kansas City area is being a networker, and I consider it a big part of my job. I work for an ESO and entrepreneurial support organization. It is my job to be out in the community, connecting with people, connecting them to resources, championship, all of those beautiful things. But it requires that I talk to people a lot, so much. I talked to so many people over the course of a week that it’s astounding. And one of the things that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am actually an introvert. People don’t tend to believe that. But my ability to talk to people has come out as a result of much practice, much press, and so much practice. It’s absurd. A significant chunk of my life. And so, if these things are not natural to you, I’m here to tell the founders I’m telling you right now, it’s okay. You’re not alone. It’s okay to be intimidated. It’s okay to be a little bit scared, but we’re gonna need you to do the brave thing and just do that shit anyway. But practice it. So I always have, like, I actually teach a class in networking for introverts, and one of the things that I say is, like, have some of those conversational prompts or ideas in your head before you walk in the room because as soon as you walk in the room, somebody’s going to start talking to you. You’re probably going to be like deer in the headlights like, oh, I don’t know what to say. And so I always just kind of have a few back pockets, you know, little things to talk about, something that’s in the news, you know, a funny question. At certain networking events, sometimes I’ll ask people what their favorite dinosaur is like; it doesn’t matter how you’re connecting; you need to put yourself in a position where you feel empowered to do that. Right. And that usually is doing it’s creating that empowerment scenario, where you get to practice, you get to play games, and you get to think on your feet. And I love that so much. But yeah, founders, like, I’m telling you, my advice to you is, and I hope that each advice to you is like, work with usually put that, you know, just start doing it. And as you start to do it, you will get more comfortable. And it’s like, it’s like working a muscle, right? It hurts at first; it sucks. But as you start to do it more, you get better, and the muscle gets stronger. So have you found that folks who are usually using they’re experiencing that as well? I can’t imagine that you wouldn’t? But people that are usually using them? Are they just getting that practice?
Esha Joshi 36:11
Yeah, absolutely. They are more comfortable with what they’re saying, how they’re coming off, things that they’ve said in the past that they know will land in certain situations. And I think folks beat entrepreneurs, other up users, and even coaches who have this idea now of preparing the points they want to hit beforehand, be it on an online conversation, like this one online interview, or at a physical networking event. people, I think, are more intentional with the stuff they want to communicate. And so they can figure out how to interject it organically at certain points in the conversation. Yeah. And I think all of that comes from awareness and thought around who you are as a communicator, and what your style is, and also what your goals are and what you’re trying to get and how you’re trying to come off. And I feel like a lot of that is possible. If you really put in an effort, I think you will really ease that process. And that journey certainly has for me and a number of folks I’ve spoken with. But at the same time, we’re still a startup figuring it out. So yeah, I love to hear feedback about why this thing didn’t work. And this was weird. And this sucked and made no sense. Like, I love hearing that, too. So to the folks listening, if you have an experience like that, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Lauren Conaway 37:37
I mean, we asked for the same thing at Startup Hustle; you know, we are here to tell founder stories as we’re here to tell the stories of entrepreneurship. And we can’t do that unless you tell us what you want to hear, what you need to hear, you know, what do you do, what do you want to learn about what’s going to help you and your business. And so clearly, communication is a big thing. It’s something that all of us have to figure out how to do. And I just love that I usually create that platform to make it just that much easier. It’s super; the icing on the top is the ARP is for me, and that’s just super fun. But I love what you’re doing. I’m going to ask you to talk to us about the future of Yoodli. I think our audience knows, and we all know, like, we’re all entrepreneurs, we know that you’re figuring it out. I totally get it. So we’re not going to hold you to it. I’m not going to ask him for a 20-year plan or anything like that. But what do you see coming down the pipes for usually in the future?
Esha Joshi 38:31
It’s such a good question. And it’s a hard one.
Lauren Conaway 38:33
It isn’t like I said; we’re not gonna hold you to it. There’s no wrong answer. Yeah.
Esha Joshi 38:41
I think of it as a Grammarly for speech, in that, anytime you speak, you agree should be there by your side coaching you. And we’re starting to see that with especially private Yoodli, which is what I’m using right now that you can’t see, but I’m using it as my companion. And I want it. We want it to be a more intelligent tool that tells you what to say and how to come off, not just in these professional conversations but maybe in your day-to-day life in person. Or potentially, like when you’re on a date and helping you through the day, like any time you’re speaking, it’s such a sticky, right. It’s a very entrepreneurial term. It’s such a thing that we resent something that exists for it. And so anytime you speak, anytime you’ve got a big thing, you need to say or come across that impression moment. I want, usually, to be kind of a household tool that gets you there. To answer your question, everything that we’re working towards is to try and make that a reality.
Lauren Conaway 39:50
Well, that is incredible. And you are incredible and usually incredible. And now, we’re going to come to the human question. Are you reading? Okay, so the collection is drumroll, please. You know what I mentioned in our pre-show prep, but I’m just gonna do this one because I like it. If you are an article of clothing, what would you be? And why? Oops. If you want to think about it, I can start because I’ve already asked this question. So I already have my answer. But I would be a comfy pair of blue jeans because you can dress it up, you can dress it down. It’s very virtual, very versatile. And it’s very comfortable. I love blue jeans, but I feel that I’m an accessible person, like blue jeans are accessible.
Esha Joshi 40:42
Yeah, I would echo something similar. Just like I’m gonna give a very practical piece of functional clothing. Okay, then dress up and dress down. And those are black leggings.
Lauren Conaway 40:53
Yeah, all right; I think they can be used for workouts.
Esha Joshi 40:57
If you’re going out and you don’t want to wear jeans, you can do black leggings. Sure, the nice top.
Lauren Conaway 41:09
If it’s a pair of faux leather coats that I like to bust out when I’m feeling extra fancy but still want to be able to breathe, it’s great.
Esha Joshi 41:17
To get the ones that have these subtle pockets like Sunday, when you’re going on a walk or getting coffee, you can also use the sneakers or the flats with those leggings and put your phone or wallet in there. So well, a pair of black leggings.
Lauren Conaway 41:32
I love it. Well, that is a fantastic answer. And I gotta tell you, thank you so much, Esha, for being on Startup Hustle; it has been an honor. And I’m so excited. As soon as we hop off, I’m going to do two things, I’m going to connect with you on LinkedIn because I want to, and then I’m gonna finish that I did not finish signing up because I figured it might be more important for me to talk to you. But I’m gonna finish signing up for you today. I’m gonna give it a spin and see how it goes. But I’m just really, really grateful that you came and you talked to us about your experience. And congratulations on making our top startups on the Seattle list.
Esha Joshi 42:07
Thanks so much, Lauren. I’ve had a blast and can’t wait to chat with you offline as well.
Lauren Conaway 42:12
All right, well, friends, we’re gonna go do some offline stuff here. But ,in the meantime, I’m going to tell you one more time that today’s episode sponsor is Full Scale. If you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders, Full Scale can help. They have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io, all you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, I do want to talk to you just a little bit about something that we do. We’ve been talking about this top startup thing. And Matt DeCoursey and I sit down, and we record these about once a month. We visit cities across the country and, hopefully soon, the world. But we talk about these places because we want to show that it is an innovative economy. It’s all over. It’s all around us. And we want to support that. So please send us your suggestions on cities that we should visit and startups that we should highlight. We love doing this work. But we really love doing this work when we get to do it with you, not for you. So definitely reach out. Know what you’re thinking and feeling and what you want to learn. And check out our top startups’ episode, starting with top Seattle startups, where you can learn more about Yoodli and the other 11 companies that made the list. Friends, we are very, very grateful that you come back and you listen to us week after week. It is an honor. Keep on doing it, and we’ll catch you next time.