Getting to Know Our New Xceptional Leaders Co-host, James Berges
In our first episode of 2022, we kick off Season 4 of the show with a new co-host! James Berges joins the Xceptional Leaders podcast for the first time, so Mai Ling takes this opportunity to introduce him to you. James is a speech-language pathologist and copywriter who uses his diverse skillset to support and enable SLPs and other clinicians as they work toward their individual goals. Through his SLP Transitions project, he also assists SLPs who are looking to expand their horizons by providing information, tools, and case studies to facilitate their journey. We’re thrilled to have him on the team!
Getting to Know Our New Host James Berges
SPEAKERS Mai Ling, James Berges
That's sort of like a mini business lesson, I would say for anything is like, find a problem that people are crying out loud about and start there. Instead of building something and hoping to find an audience. I was like, well, here's an audience, how can I help them?
Mai Ling 0:21
You're listening to the first episode of season four of the Xceptional Leaders podcast. Each week, we give you a front-row seat to our conversations with new and successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders making an impact in the special education and disability communities. They share their intimate experiences, so you can start, grow, and expand your impact. I'm Mai Ling of mailingchan.com, and I'm so excited to bring on my new co-host for this season. I'm really excited to have James Berges to join me on the show today, this is a really big day for me, because this is my first day with a new co-host. But before we go there, I just want to wrap up a little bit with my former co-host just the amazing person that he is Martyn Sibley, he and I did 51 episodes together and before that, I had started the show I did 51 episodes, and so now he is going on to do very full-time work with Purple Goat and disability horizons, which is an online magazine for people with disabilities and I'm just so so lucky to have had the chance to work with him. So with just wishing him all the best and everything that he does. So welcome, James.
Wow, thank you so much Mai Ling, I'm really excited to be here and I just want to say to Martyn, what you're doing is amazing with Purple Goat and I have some big shoes to fill if I'm going to be on this podcast. So I'm really appreciative and just humbled and honored to be here. So thank you.
Mai Ling 01:54
Oh, thank you and I am so excited to have you. I've been telling everyone meaning like my family and close friends that I have a millennial on the show
Your every show has to have one millennial, you don't need Gen Z yet,
Mai Ling 02:07
Right? I know, I know, we're balancing it all out. So I'm excited to bring you on board. I'm looking at your bio here and there's so many great things in there that we're going to deep dive into. But just as a quick intro, I have met you through online, I know there's several other speech-language pathologists who are working with you, you're so creative, and you've done some just great work for helping them to get out there and be and be more public. So you are a speech-language pathologist, a content strategist, and what I am really excited about is your space as a leader in the SLP career exploration area, not necessarily leaving the profession, we're not talking about attrition, but definitely expanding what they're doing and that's what caught my eye about you and that's why I feel like you coming to the show will be great synergy for the audience that we already have in terms of anyone in the disability focus space, who's looking to bring their talents, and skills to do something more. So let's get going. James, tell me a little bit about and tell our audience a little bit about what you've been doing most recently. What are your projects that you're working on right now?
Yeah, so basically, where I've come is a long circular path but what I'm doing now is helping SLPs explore beyond their degree, which I know is a mission that is close to your heart Mai Ling. So going beyond clinical roles, you know, you can have such a great impact obviously, one on one clinically, and that's what drew me to SLP in the first place. But there are so many options and so many transferable skills that go into entrepreneurship, online business, making courses, making memberships and I'm just so excited about this online space, and the pandemic only accelerated this trend. So I've been helping influencers thought leaders, ed-tech companies trying to get into that space mostly, and help people with their marketing messaging and their, you know, everything from emails to social media to how can we reach more people. So expanding impact in a different way.
Mai Ling 4:20
It's fantastic. Now there's so much in there that is, is exciting and new. But the most intriguing pieces, how are you able to be the bridge to this piece that all of us as speech-language pathologists don't have?
huh, thought-provoking question. Well, I think I'm not the only person who can who can be the bridge, but to me, you know, full transparency, I don't have it all figured out. I'm just trying things and experimenting and if that's one thing I can pride myself on is just following curiosity wherever it takes me so you know, I got into speech pathology because I always liked psychology, Language, and helping people. Also, I took a personality test and it told me it would be a good career fit. So it wasn't like I had someone in my family who had a stutter, or had a stroke or anything like that. It was just following, really online research and curiosity. So not as cool as an origin story for speech pathology but how I bridged it to online business and more of these different roles was, I was always writing online. So even in college, I majored in psychology. I was a non-traditional major for SLP and I believe you were to right Mai Ling?
Mai Ling 05:38
Communications undergrad, but I didn't know that that was gonna lead into speech pathology 10 years later, but yes, thanks for knowing that.
Yeah. So Right. 10 years later, mine was what, well, I leave out, joined the workforce after I got a psychology degree, worked in content marketing at an agency for about two years, and wrote for a self-development blog before that, which had millions of readers and I got to be the editor on that. It wasn't well paid at all, but it was a great experience. And, and so you know, circular path, but after going to grad school and doing SLP, I still wanted to use those creative skills. So I think like you mentioned, we met through this crazy little small world of SLP. It is a small world, but it's even smaller than people who have like online businesses that catered SLPs. So just through blogging, and putting myself out there on social media, I met Lucas Steuber, shout out to Lucas. And he connected me and Asha to what I call the Avengers of SLPs. So so like Rachel Maydel, Theresa Richard, and others, and then eventually you, and it's just been this sort of serendipitous path. But what's that quote, it's like “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation” and I feel like I increased what I would say my luck surface area for meeting all you interesting movers and shakers, by putting myself out there and by writing online, so I've been writing in some form or editing or doing some kind of content for the last 10 years. But it's just now that I'm actually applying it to other SLP Businesses.
Mai Ling 07:25
Excellent, excellent and thank you for giving us all of that, connecting the dots. When you talk about content, it's kind of like this gray area, you know, like I hear blog posting, but you've also done something which is very unique in that you get the tone, and the culture and the inside messaging for talking with speech-language pathologists. And it's almost like, I don't know how to explain it, but we can just sniff it out that this is, oh, this is a marketing company, they don't get us, you know, versus what you've been doing your work with Rachel Maydel and other companies that you that you're doing, you're we've also brought you on to help us with exceptional learning and it's really it's a talent and a skill to be able to do that. Can you expand a little more on how you feel like that's different than the other broader content writing that you would do?
Yeah, I mean, I think as SLPs we love communication, and we're sensitive to psychology and the nuances of communication, I mean, we, we get into the details, otherwise, we wouldn't be SLPs. So I have to be extra clear in my communication, especially through writing online. But another nuance with, I would say all clinicians or people in the helping field, but maybe especially SLPs, is that we're good BS detectors, we deal with all kinds of people. So we're good, we're good at knowing that people are trying to manipulate us. And honestly, it's not just SLPs, it's like, just this online world we're living in, there are so much marketing messages out there, that we go numb to it, we just like know, to glaze over in our eyes and scroll over it. So it just takes clear, empathetic communication and I don't think I would be able to do that if I wasn't actually in the field as a clinician, because I've seen marketing happen. There's some really good writers out there. But they use too much jargon or it's, you know, it's weird, competent oral creativity of a weird background of being an SLP mixed with having some copywriting writing background. So, yeah, it's a sort of an accident, but it's my own voice. You know, I've lived it. I've been a clinician, so I understand what it feels like.
Mai Ling 09:40
Exactly. Now we're in the same group and for our listener, if you are starting an SLP business or have one you should be in this group, it's called SLPs in business, and it's on Facebook. The administrator is Meredith Herald, who's also the founder of the informed SLP where they review current research, and I believe that It was her that started to post something about hiring speech-language pathologists for different roles. And that post blew up because so many people said yes, yes, yes, like that's kind of like the magic bullet is having a speech-language pathologist on the team in different roles. And for myself, that's how I've built, you know, my companies is working with colleagues who, you know, are good friends of mine and bringing them up into different positions. But we definitely found a gap, where we were having difficulty finding someone for this marketing content piece. So just, you know, want to tell you that you're a real unicorn in this space, in addition to being a male speech-language pathologist, but definitely, you know, trying to find somebody who, who gets it and is not DIY yeing it, like the rest of us. And I say that, like, where I look at tik tok, and I see what everybody else is doing and going, Hmm, do I really want to be singing and dancing and mining and trying to figure all that out? You know, he, that's the DIY like, is this going to help my business? Is this going to help? You know, my branding? Like, probably not, because I'm gonna look so Herky jerky on that. But you know, working with someone like yourself, if anybody's interested to see his work, check out what he's done with Rachel Maydel. You know, I just I know, it's not all I know that she does a lot of her own stuff. But you coming on board and helping with that tone and culture has just been like, like I say, like the magic piece that's missing.
If you're like me, you can't get enough of books, podcasts, blogs, and other ways to find out how to create, grow and scale. That's why I brought together 43 disability-focused leaders to give you more of what you're looking for, you will hear their stories and three best-selling books, which focus on general offerings, augmentative, and alternative communication, and speech-language pathology. I invite you to search for becoming an exceptional leader on Amazon. So you can learn intimate startup pearls of wisdom, and keep growing your brilliant idea. Now, let's get back to our amazing interview.
Mai Ling 11:58
Okay, what else are you up to? I know that, in my intro, I talked about you being a leader in the SLP career exploration space. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Sure. Yeah. And I do want to clarify that Rachel and others, they are totally their own brands. And they really are their own, you know, it's not really my tone. But I can say I'm sort of a chameleon and I feel like I can adapt to other people's tones and Mai Ling If you want to have a tik tok and dance, you can but I want to tell people, you don't have to dance on tik tok I'm not. I'm not a tik tok expert. But I just know that people are finding new ways to do it. And I think it's like, half the people are over 30 now. So it's sort of maturing as a platform from just dances, to other things. So anyways, with SLPtransitions.com, that actually sprung out of a Facebook group that wasn't mine. It came from a Facebook group, also called SLP alternatives and job transitions, which originally was started by someone named Bethany Riebock and she's a UX designer working in tech in Silicon Valley. And I just found it really interesting to see people. on one hand, there are two types of people, there were people who are really burnt out on clinical work. And yes, you know, we can talk about that another day, but or today, but there's a lot of burnout.
Mai Ling 13:23
That's a whole other show.
Yeah, yeah, because we could go deep on that. But there's a lot of burnout in nursing and teaching across the board. I mean, education and health care. It's just there are very challenging spaces to work in, for all their rewards. But this group was people who are either burnt out or just want to explore other options that were non-clinical. So I kept seeing all these stories in the Facebook group of people saying, has anyone transitioned into project management? Has anyone transitioned into this? And people would post these inspiring stories, but they kept getting lost in the Facebook feed. That's one issue with Facebook. It's like, you can search things, but it's not that easy to find what you’re
Mai Ling 14:05
Yeah, cuz it's linear, right? And you have to scroll back up and scroll back up and then dive deep. So yes, I totally understand that
Exactly. So I made a comment to the group one day and I just said, Would you all find it helpful if I put together a website that curated all these stories in one central hub, and gave tips like the best tips from the community on how people transitioned out of clinical work into entrepreneurship or tacker, whatever it is, and I got like 100 comments and likes and hearts, please make it so. For me, it wasn't like I can't take credit for the original idea, but I can take credit for just taking the initiative to put the website up there. So that's sort of like a mini business lesson, I would say for anything is like find a problem that people are crying out loud about and start there instead of building something and hoping to find an audience, I was like, well, here's an audience, and how can I help them?
Mai Ling 15:05
Nice. Now, let me ask you this is the big question. A lot of speech therapists don't think about when we're starting our own new company. How are you monetizing SLP Transitions?
Yeah, that's the million-dollar or $0 question, right? Right now Mai Ling, I'm not collecting any money. I'm kind of just focused on building up the audience, building up the email list by providing helpful content by providing just tips and I really enjoy writing. As I said, that was my original thing like my grandpa was a journalist for Time Magazine. and he was Head Bureau Chief at LA Times. I never got to meet him. But I was always inspired by writing. But journalism today, as we know, is sort of a cluster as a sort of crazy. And so I'm like, I don't like writing about news anyways. But I do like writing about things I know about. So this is an outlet for me. And right now it's just building community and building content. And, you know, maybe down the line, I think it will come naturally through conversations. Maybe there'll be a course or some kind of training about how I built a portfolio, how to how to break into other careers, how I practically did it, because that's all I can speak to, right?
Mai Ling 16:25
Excellent, and actually, this is a perfect example, for our listeners, because a lot of people start out doing things that they are giving it away altruistically, you know, whether it's blogs, I mean, how many people have right how many blog posts and they don't get paid, they don't have sponsorship, podcasting, this is a great example. You know, I just said that I did 51 episodes on my own, 51 episodes with Martyn Sibley. So that's what 102 and we have not been paid for an episode, but that's okay. Because through this outreach, you know, I have now have international connections, thanks to Martyn. And he has U.S connections, you know, thanks to mine. And then we have been able to put this in quotes monetize through other opportunities, like speaking engagements, I have connections now that you know, I have for business, there are so many other ways, and that's something for our audience to really think about is one of the pillars of the offerings of your brand, might not be a direct income producer, but it is always adding to that umbrella of who you are, what you offer, and hopefully bringing new people you know, to all of the other products that you are having a purchase route on, you know, whether it is having you as a presenter, or purchasing your books, that was another one. So you know, I have books and people like how much money we made on your books, were actually finally starting to get into, you know, some black on each of them, I have three, but that is definitely not the purpose of that. But it was the experience and the credibility factor. And there are just so many things, and it gave me so much in addition to the readers. However, this is like one of those things you can't live on love, you know, you have to find ways to monetize. So I love what you're doing and I'm so glad that you brought it up. And we appreciate your genuine honesty with this, you know, and I think that's what's so important with having you on the show is being able to join you on this journey. Right? So we hope that you continue to share, continue to grow, share how now that you're on the podcast with me, you know, other opportunities that are coming forward for you. And I think that there already has been Is that something that you want to share?
I just want to say that I resonate with everything you're saying. And it really is just an ongoing conversation. And when you get into this online world, where you're posting things, a lot of SLPs do you give away their work for free, and maybe begrudgingly. And I have a soft spot in my heart of like, it's not obvious how to make money with content, it's not a fast way to make money, but you can't do it for that URL. So you will burn out. It's really just about creating, like, I wouldn't have met you Mai Ling I wouldn't have met half these interesting people if I hadn't put myself out there online. So it can be a means to just meeting people which can spring up new opportunities like you're saying, but I really believe that if you give it out there, it'll come back to you. So just increase your luck surface area. So as far as opportunities, really, I've just been building a portfolio of different projects and it's like a snowball effect where the more proof of work I have, it doesn't really matter what the last thing on my resume was. It's more how I'm telling a story of all these different people I've helped in different ways. And through that, people can say oh, wow, okay, I can see exactly how you can help me and I might be helping someone like I don't it's just in the works, but like some nonprofits for SLPs who help children abroad and underserved areas. There's a group called smiles for speech, I'm going to talk to you soon. I'm excited for that and then on the side, I've been doing totally unrelated to SLP things, but I think they'll help me build more skills, which is helping cut podcast episodes into social media clips, and just doing copywriting for other small businesses. So I'm excited. It's all evolving. But like you said, I'm along for the journey and it'll be interesting to see, as these podcast episodes come out, I promise to be 100% Transparent along the way, and we'll see what shakes out.
Mai Ling 20:39
Excellent. We've already started building out our 2022 guest list, and we're a little bit late, and that's okay. We just had a little, we had to do some foundational work on getting started. So can you share what your goals are for your guests? because each of us has our own agendas and, and people that were looking forward to having on the show?
Yeah. So I mean, you and Martyn obviously had an amazing dynamic, and that's like, I'm going to cherish, I still listen to those episodes, I still got to look, listen to all of them. And you know, each of us has our own perspective. So I can't try to be exactly in the same role that Martyn was, but I wouldn't try to. But what I do think I can offer and what perspective I hope to bring out of the guests that we have is more into this online world of sort of what I'm talking about serendipity meeting people, sparking connections within the community, in this new world of work that's rapidly changing, like half these jobs that are being invented in next 10 years. You haven't heard of it yet. So taking this approach that has broadened my horizons of just not thinking about linear like grad school, and then you get a traditional job, but like, how do you build your own luck, and online business and entrepreneurship, the possibilities are endless. So that's really going to be my perspective, and what I hope to bring out of our guests.
Mai Ling 22:08
Excellent. Well, I'm so excited to have you join our team. And I'm sure that our listeners are too. We just want to thank you for being a part of the show all these years, everyone who's listening, and we're going into our season four. So very exciting and I'm really excited to have James on the show. So we'll be hearing from you. Right every two weeks now,
. Wow. Yeah, no I'm so excited. And thank you so much again, and I look forward to continuing the conversation of the podcast to talking to other people.
Mai Ling 22:39
Yeah, this is gonna be so much fun. Oh, and we're putting these shows on YouTube now.
Right. Definitely. somewhere. Yeah, or Instagram, or both. But yeah, I do think in this world of media, like it kind of pays to be top of mind and put different clips. But again, like a mini-lesson in that that we'll figure out is that you can't just put a whole podcast on social media, no one wants to watch. I don't think Instagram would even allow that. But you can take the highlights and put audio captions. So I hope that that will deliver value in a different way.
Mai Ling 23:20
Exactly. So for our audience, if you're like me, I'm kind of, you know, set in my ways. And when I started talking with James, he was like, you know, we could do this, we could do that and I was like, is it we really we, but James is he's so fresh, and he has such great ideas. So definitely watch and poke around on our different social media profiles. We've got Instagram, we have Facebook, and we're not really that active on Twitter yet, but you know, take a look and see how we are in the next couple of episodes, taking one episode and chunking them and putting them out there. And hopefully, that'll give you some ideas for the content that you're creating to.
Yeah, we can all learn from each other, but it's gonna be an ongoing conversation and that's Xceptional leaders for each of those handles, right?
Mai Ling 24:05
Yes, actually, I think it's x leaders on Instagram because it's too long. Oh, x is just really cool.
Yeah. Ex Games X leaders.
Mai Ling 24:16
Cool. All right. Well, thank you, James, for helping to kick off our first show for season four. And let's, let's have a great time. Thank you, everyone, for joining us.
Thank you so much.
Mai Ling 24:29
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