Bobby Umar, one of The Trusted Voice e-coaches has over 20 years of speaking experience. We sat down with over an interview and asked his question about him, his life and his path to becoming a global public speaker.
The Trusted Voice: Tell us about your parents, what were they like? \
Bobby Umar: My dad is an accountant. My mom is a homemaker. They were born in Pakistan and moved here before I was born. So I was the first person in my family born in Canada. They were both very social people, loved to laugh, and my mom was a nurturing type. I took all these qualities from them. They did all they could to make sure I never had to worry about money and encouraged me to do well in school. I even got to skip a grade because of my success.
TTV: What was your dream as a kid?
B: I had many. They included being a hockey player, being a singer or musician, but also being an astronaut.
TTV: Tell us about your high school days?
B: High school was a ton of fun. I was nerdy, but I was also social and funny, so I was pretty popular. I spent time with the chess club and debating club, but I also spent time with the student council and other committees. I was a high achieving student, usually placing in the top 10 out of 400 students for marks, in the 90’s. My favourite topic was Maths. I enjoyed presenting, but I never at the time saw it as my greatest skill.
TTV: What was your first job?
B: I worked at a waterslide. I was the guy who told people they could go or not go or they had to wait. I learned that my social skills were quite good. People would enjoy my chats, jokes and I would create some friendships just from one afternoon.
TTV: What made you want to speak? What motivates you to do what you do?
B: Over the years, I realized that speaking, presenting, persuading and influencing were all part of my personal branding deep dive that I did. It was part of all my favourite roles in life. So speaking became the right thing to do. I also had many friends and co-workers tell me how good I was at it. I spent many years being a camp counsellor, teacher and performer, and they all added to my speaking prowess.
TTV: Do you remember your first speaking gig? How did you get it? Were you nervous?
B: When I launched my speaking career, I booked it through a referral, as my network knew I was speaking. I was nervous, but I also felt confident with the audience, as they were youth, which was one of my best groups to inspire.
TTV: At what point did you realise that this pathway to being a speaker can be a real career option?
B: My first mentor, Sunjay Nath, had been doing speaking since he was 19 and told me I could do it. I believed him and started to meet other speakers.
TTV: Can you share one of the biggest career highlights?
B: Being named one of the Top 100 Leadership Speakers, alongside people like Richard Branson, Brene Brown, and John C. Maxwell was a huge highlight for me. It is such an honour to be named alongside such giants that I admire.
TTV: Do you have a ritual before you go on stage and present?
B: I often just walk around back and forth to rev up my energy level.
TTV: In one’s career there are a lot of highs and lows, how did you deal with the low points in life? Any advice?
B: Having a support network is critical for any low points. Having a clear why statement and vision for what I do keeps me going during darker times. Having testimonials I can look at to see the impact I have also motivated me during tougher times.
TTV: On a personal level, what are some of the benefits of speaking?
B: I get to share my message that I believe can change people for the better and change the world. I get paid for doing something I love. I can persuade and impact people both personally and professionally. I get a rush from being on stage and I can feel the energy of the people in the room. It is the most thrilling.
TTV: Where does your passion come from?
B: As a flaming extrovert (100% on the Myers Briggs scale), I just love people. They energize me. When I hear how I impact them, I get fired up. Finally, my why statement clearly outlines who my purpose is, how they feel and how I impact them. So this is the root of all my passion for people and speaking.
TTV: Who else has been down your road before you?
B: My biggest mentors have been Sunjay Nath and Ron Tite. They speak the way I want to speak and live life the way I want. My speaker heroes are Gary Vaynerchuk for raw honesty, hustle and love. I also love Brene Brown for vulnerability, research-validated connection, and heart.
TTV: What are 3 pieces of advice for those who want to start their speaking journey?
TTV: You advocate telling one’s story - why is this important to you?
B: Stories are the most relatable content. Your personality is the most important one to tell and if you can’t get that right, you will have trouble sharing other stories. So work on your story, share your values, beliefs, and culture, and build a relevant and authentic connection to those who follow you.
TTV: When job hunting, people neglect to tell their story - what exercise would you recommend in telling their story?
B: You need to work on confidence. That is the first step to becoming a better speaker and building your brand out there. I highly recommend building a 2-5 min story of your life, whether professionally done or just from your phone. It is a great practice, as you will need to build connections and share your life as you grow your career or business. In my 7-day challenge AKA the speaker confidence program, I am focusing exactly on those 2 things -- speaker confidence and working on building a personal story video.
TTV: Who inspires you with wonder and awe?
B: My kids, Nyal and Ryah do it daily. They have a vision and lens for the world that is amazing. It is full of love, learning, and trying new things. When I see through their eyes, I see more opportunity and impact than I ever did from using only my own eyes. They see the world with wonder in awe and seeing them do that gives me the same feeling.
I am also inspired by those who truly give their lives to service. People who care not about money, but care about the most vulnerable people in the world and do all they can to demonstrate empathy, kindness, compassion, love, forgiveness and more. It is truly astonishing when I see people like that.
TTV: Thanks for being awesome Bobby and we’re excited to add your 7-Day Video Speaking as part of our tutorials and workshops, especially to help business and professionals find their confidence on speaking