Forbes Featured Entrepreneur and LinkedIn Influencer Brian Schulman discusses overcoming Tourette Syndrome.
(30 minutes) Brian Schulman is Founder & CEO of Voice Your Vibe™, a Forbes Featured Entrepreneur, a Linkedin Top Voice of 2018, an advisor, board member, speaker, a LinkedIn Top Video Creator, and the CoHost of #LinkedInLocal & #VoiceYourVibe on #LinkedInLIVE. He also just happens to have Tourette Syndrome. Brian discusses growing up with the condition, how he achieves success, and offers 5 tips for creating video content that connects with readers and customers.
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Introducing Brian Schulman
HAROLD REITMAN, M.D. (HR): Hi, I’m Dr. Hackie Reitman. Welcome to another episode of Exploring Different Brains, and today we have with us Brian Schulmann, who is a Forbes entrepreneur. He writes articles, he says LinkedIn changed his life. He’s going to teach us a whole bunch of stuff. He’s got great things going on and he just also happens to have Tourette’s Syndrome. Brian, welcome!
BRIAN SCHULMAN (BS): Hello Hackie, thank you so much for having me on your show! It’s great to be with you.
HR: Why don’t you now do a proper introduction of yourself, because I messed that one up.
BS: Sure, so usually it’s something along the lines of known as The Godfather of LinkedIn video, one of the world’s top video marketing experts. Been on the internet since it was green screen and chat rooms, 21 years of proven digital marketing experience, strategizing with the IR 500 and Fortune 500 Brands across the globe. I am a Forbes Featured entrepreneur, LinkedIn Top Voice, I serve on a number of boards. I’m a trusted advisor and mentor to founders of companies across the globe. And I was named the 2019 Linkedin video creator of the year, I’m of the pioneering top LinkedIn Video and Linkedin Live creators in the world. And July of 2019, I actually broke the LinkedIn Live record for broadcasting for more than four hours live. I do do speaking across the globe, obviously not at the moment, based in the state of the world that we are in. But through workshops and 101 Mastery coaching, I voice teach founders and execs who want to find their voice and show up and don’t know how, how to voice their vibe and how to attract your tribe and how to tell a story people fall in love with on LinkedIn through video.
HR: Yeah, but why aren’t you energetic? Wow.
BS: I’m really an introvert, I’m an introvert as you can tell.
HR: He’s come out as an introvert. You heard it first.
BS: It’s true. It’s true actually though, I mean when I was younger it was very different. For sure.
Growing up with Tourette Syndrome
HR: Well, Tell us about growing up with Tourette’s syndrome.
BS: Yeah, and I want to do this for you, Hackie in a way I’ve been doing recently. And I think you know our voices are so much more powerful though the voices of others. And I think it’s the stories that we share, that we really connect with. So I’m a dad, and I have an almost 20 year old who’s in their first year in college and almost 18 years old, who is a junior in high school. And so my daughter walked into my office and handed me a couple pieces of paper senior year, and just basically sat down and was waiting for me to read it and it says that the top “Fourway Speech Contest Essay, and I didn’t know what it was. And I saw the title and it says “Live to Inspire.” So I’m going to read this because it actually shares my story from her voice, so–and bear with me cause I’ve yet to get through this without losing it, so I’ll do my best.
HR: How cool is this? This is great. Let’s hear it! Your daughter wrote this! What’s better than that, pal?
BS: I’m with you 100%, Hackie, 100%. So it’s entitled ”Live to Inspire,” and so here, here it goes. “So the story about to be told is about an extraordinary man now 42 years young who accepted all the obstacles life had to throw at him. Now I know you may be thinking that everyone has different obstacles they just overcome throughout their lifetime, so how is he different from you and I? Well what makes this particular man different from you and I is the tactic to use when faced with these obstacles. What makes him different from you and I is that he took these obstacles, and used them to help make a difference and inspire others to never let life get in the way of their greatness and achievements. What makes us different from everyone else is not the obstacles that life throws at us, but what we do when faced with these obstacles: will you choose to accept defeat or you choose to persevere?
On May 13th, 1975, a child was born in Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. And this child was born three months early, weighing a pound and a half, and because of that, was a premature baby. During the early eighties, he was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, which is a type of tic or twitch, involuntary repetitive movements, and vocalization, a type of neurological disorder. And one day in Camp, two counselors had to take this young boy to a payphone, with tears streaming down his face to call his mother because his neck was constantly sliding inside over and over and over again. He went to various doctors who perform countless medical examinations to try and find a cure for his disorder. Every doctor said the same thing: “he’s fine, he’ll grow out of it.” And one day in 5th grade, he stood up in front of his entire class and shared with them what Tourette’s syndrome was and what living with Tourette’s syndrome was like. A huge weight was lifted off his shoulders once he shared the story with his classmates, and it generated many supporters, whether they be friends, parents, or teachers.
Finally, a specialist at UCLA told him he would never be able to get rid of his disorder alone, and suggested he take a special drug called clonidine to help with the tics. Unfortunately, with this drug came horrible side effects. He made a conscious decision not to take the pills after a few years and try and master his condition to focus and determination. After a while, the tics started to diminish, and for the most part, they went away. No one knows what life has in-store for them. All we can do is live until we’re forced to face an obstacle in which we must make a choice to either overcome or accept defeat. The Roadway Fourway test demonstrates how one person can make a difference in the lives of others. With the experience this boy had to face came a life lesson. With determination, perseverance, and support from others, anything can happen.
Now at 42 years young, this man chooses to use his story to make a difference in others’ lives. By inspiring people in times of uncertainty. He implements the rotary motto service before self by finding the light those who cannot find it in themselves, supporting them through their tough obstacles. He helps lift people’s spirits and hopes in times of hopelessness and despair. He helps people turn their ideas and dreams into realities. He helps build people from the ground up, in hopes they too one day share their stories with others. He makes a difference in this world, each and every day, which inspires others to make a difference as well.
Who may you ask is this man? Well, he is my father. Out of all the lives he’s made the biggest difference in, I believe he’s made the biggest difference in mine. He’s inspired me never give up on what I believe in. To always do what makes me happy. But most importantly to always live every day as if it were the last because we’re never guaranteed a tomorrow. As Gandhi once said, be the change you wish to see in the world. Making a difference in the lives of others is my dad’s change, what will be what will be yours?”
HR: Thanks for making me cry too.
BS: I’m sorry.
HR: That was beautiful. My god. You know, and what timing? Because we’re doing this interview in the midst of the coronavirus thing, and when did she write this?
BS: January of 2018.
HR: Wow. I mean, how appropriate to write it at this time. And look, I don’t want to interview you, I want to interview her. Forget about you, now what’s she doing now?
BS: She’s a freshman in college, she’s getting a degree in chemical engineering. She wants to get her Master’s and PhD, and she wants to be a forensic scientist.
HR: Not too smart, huh? (Laughs)
BS: (Laughs) No, she definitely gets that from her mother,
HR: But, do you have another child as well?
BS: I do, I have a son. Again, he’ll be 18 in September. They’re both straight A students, they are both brilliant, they have huge hearts. He actually got accepted to the Naval Academy Summer Leadership Program, which apparently is a really big deal because it’s really hard to get into. He plays lacrosse although, again, none of this stuff is happening right now. They’re literally both at home with being quarantined and everything. Aeronautical Engineering, aerospace engineering, is kind of the direction he’s thinking about. Again, he’s a junior in high school, so he’s got some time. But, they’re both amazing, Hackie. Like I’m the proudest dad in the world. Like I just couldn’t be luckier to have two kids that, again, they have huge hearts and they care about people and they get their mother’s brilliance. And they’re just really good human beings.
Advice for succeeding with Tourette’s
HR: So what is the big advice you would have for one of our audience who might have Tourette’s Syndrome, what advice would you have?
BS: Yeah, it’s really a good question, Hackie. So I’ve had a few friends of mine that are part of my LinkedIn family that have Tourette’s, and we literally met on LinkedIn. And one of them actually posted a video with him twitching on camera. He wasn’t saying anything, it was one of the hardest things she’s ever done. And the amount of people that showed up actually showed up with either saying that they had tourette’s, or their kids had tourette’s. I wound up getting on the phone with a mom and her twelve-year-old son through this engagement that we have online, and we started to have a conversation, and then she was looking for help because she just wasn’t sure how to help her son. And I… I so get that. Sorry. And I started to–
HR: Excuse me. That’s what you make all the deals with God, when it comes time to help your kid. We can swap stories about that sometime.
BS: Yeah, definitely. So I was trying to help to understand from my perspective as the child, right? And I let her know my mom would be happy to talk to you anytime, and give you her perspective. And he was pretty nervous to get on, but he wound up coming down, and we wound up just talking. And they ask questions, like, “How did you get through it? How are you getting through it?” And so for me personally, before I knew what it was, Hackie, like everything was in disarray because we didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was lots of doctor visits and I mean Tourette’s has a much higher sense of visibility today, but it’s still so minimal compared to other diseases, neurological disorders, what have you, right?
So there is a need for a greater sense of awareness as much as possible, but anyone that I’ve ever come across that has Tourette’s, I always want to hear their story because I want to know what they’ve gone through. I find similarities, I also find similarities in how you kind of can get through it without taking medicine. So for me there were three things that were kind of constant. And I find this consistent across folks that have tourettes.
One is music. Music has been a part of my life. I’ve been a musician my entire life. I remember sitting in front of the piano for hours in the dark playing. And it was like I was in another body, and I think it has a lot to do with focus. Now it doesn’t have to be music but I think when you find that thing that you focus on and then you’re out of your head, right? Because I can remember Tourette’s, it’s uncontrollable and you usually don’t know you’re doing them. So you know with the height of mine, I was jumping up and down summersault something from room to room, lots of auditory noises, facial expressions, intense neck twitches, wrist flicking, and a lot of these things would commingle. And yet with music, I was outside of myself.
Dancing was another one. My mom always said, “I’m going to teach you how to dance and you’re going to love me for it cause it’s all the girls are going to love you,” and she was right. Like one of those things that I was grateful for, but psychologically, I thought about it after because I do have a degree in Psychology and I did get it to better understand people and better understand myself. Because I didn’t understand why I was treated the way I was and being bullied and being treated differently and all of that. And so dancing, when I thought back to it, where all together on the dance floor most people are flailing in ways they wouldn’t with their arms and moving their body being in weird ways and making weird faces and noises, right? And maybe I felt normal to see if people that felt different and abnormal, right? But dancing was always one of those things for me that I loved, and I think it was also because I could be out of control and not have to worry about how I was going to be looked at, right?
The other is comedy, and no I’m not a comedian but growing up I figured, “Well if I’m already ‘weird’ and different, I might as well do it on my terms, and if people are going to laugh I want them to laugh on my terms, right?” So I got really good at doing impressions. And I loved watching comedians growing up. So this was in more of the 80s, so I’m talking like young Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, like Whoopi Goldberg. I loved watching The Three Stooges. And it’s weird because again, when I think back psychologically they’re all physical comedians, and they were all doing things with their bodies and their voices that were again, they were different, right? From the “normal” and standing out in ways that were different.
So anyway, those are the three things outside of the drugs which at that time were experimental. And I’m not going to tell someone one way or the other what’s going to be best for them. I think this thing is, again, it’s figuring out what works best for you. I had to stop taking the medicine because it literally would knock me out for 30 minutes at a time. I’d fall asleep in class. It was bad. And then I wasn’t telling everyone at that time what was going on, so all they knew was what’s wrong with this kid? Why is he falling asleep in class? He’s a latchkey right? And then eventually, I let all that out and I wanted to run a couple papers about it and spoke about it in front of my classmates in 5th grade. I wrote a paper in college and that kind of stuff, right? But it was never anything that I talked about publicly.
The one thing I will say is that you know if any, it has a disorder of any kind you know it’s a gift, it’s a gift, and it never looks like a gift, and I say that because I’m in high school. I’ve literally passed by a classmate walking down the stairs as I was going up and I saw him do three tics, one after the other. I knew without a shadow of doubt in my mind that he had Tourette’s. But I know he had no idea and I went home to my mom and said, “Mom I know one of my classmates has tourette’s, what do we do? Like I want to help because I knew what we went through and the pains that we went through trying to get an answer from somebody, anybody right? Cause nobody had an answer.” And so long story short, we wind up to getting them to UCLA into the same specialist and all that. We were able to help and it meant so much to know that while it was so hard to deal with what I was dealing with growing up, that I was able to use that to help someone that otherwise they just didn’t care what was going on and think, “who knows, right?”
How LinkedIn changed Brian’s life
HR: Really, wow – powerful stuff! Let’s switch up now let’s tell us about your love affair with LinkedIn and how it’s made such a difference to you.
BS: Yeah, it’s interesting and I’ll say this because it comes up a lot through Linkedin. So I get this question a lot, which is how are you so positive and so happy all the time, like literally how do you do that? And I think it’s going to be based on the short story that I shared with you from my daughter. Coming from where I have and literally fighting for every breath to make it into this world and being this pound-and-a-half miracle baby that wasn’t supposed to live and being diagnosed with tourette’s, and being the weird kid, and dealing with bullying and adversity growing up, and I wanted to give out the opposite of the negative I was getting, and that I was receiving around me. And don’t get me wrong, I mean I had a ton of positivity in my life but I think we all realize at times one negative can overshadow a thousand positives, right?
And so I wanted to be a giver of good and positivity and strength and love, enlightenment, encouragement. And I certainly know that that life is 10% what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And I know every breath I take is a gift, and I know that I’ve failed way more than I’ve succeeded in life and business and that I’ve learned from every step, and then I’ve kept getting up and kept going, and then I’ve succeeded no matter what the outcome is because I did come to LinkedIn 16 years ago with a purpose to give out good to the universe. I didn’t know how I was going to do it because it was just a digital resume in place to look for a job back then. The platform was only a year old. There’s about a million people at the time there. But I knew that no matter what I was going through, Hackie, that I wanted to give out good 365 with the hopes to achieve my why, which is to inspire one person a day. That was my whole purpose. It wasn’t about business. And I figured if I could inspire one person a day and to chase after their dreams and no one believed that you can accomplish anything to get up one more time after you’ve fallen 50,000 already in and believe in themselves that they can get back up and they can go again and know that you are actually succeeding even though way, way, way off in the distance of the shoes mountain peak you’re trying to get to, right? Knowing that every step you’re taking along the way is actually you’re accomplishing. Like you’re actually meeting a goal you don’t even realize. Or inspire someone to inspire someone else or put a smile on somebody’s face when you don’t have one or make somebody feel good about themselves when they don’t.
We all have those days especially while we’re going through right now is with coronavirus you know. But if I can just do one of those things, Hackie, for one person a day, then I have accomplished my mission as a human being to make the world a better place. And I know life has and will continue to knock me down and throw me mad curveballs just like it’s doing for everybody right now, right? And I will keep getting up and up to the plate, so to speak, and keep swinging because my mom had said to me she showed me a picture of me. And in her lap is a baby in a lion’s costume. And she liked it, it was a homemade costume. And I said, “why did you put me in a lion’s costume as my my First costume?” I think Halloween, and she said, “because you’re a fighter and you literally fought for every back to make it in this world.” And so I always say and I say now more than ever my hope’s that everyone will keep getting up and fighting and that everyone will believe in themselves and know that that they have a voice and that they have a story and that they matter and that they’re not alone. And that especially in a world like LinkedIn that we are here to support one another, and that we are in it together and we are better together and we can get through anything together. You don’t ever have to think that you have to get through it alone.
HR: Very well said and very Timely. You know in boxing, We always say you judge a champion by what he does when he gets off the canvas. Because we all get knocked down, we all do.
BS: That’s right.
Supporting customers during the coronavirus
HR: Since you’re all about customer engagement, what do you think it’s important for businesses even, not-for-profits like differentbrains.org, for us to do for “customers” those who serve at a time like this of coronavirus times?
BS: I think the most important thing you can do – and this is an always thing not just right now – is care about your customers as human beings and realize that everybody’s life is being turned upside down. And the most important thing you can do is make sure that they know that they’re going to be taken care of. The best thing any business can do right now is care about their customers as human beings, and realize that everybody’s lives are being turned upside down and the most important thing you can do is to make sure that they know that they’re going to be taken care of. The best thing a business can do right now is not bang on their customer’s for money, not bang on them with their past do not stop their service, but let them know that they’re here with you together that you’re going to get through it together, and that they’re going to make sure that you don’t lose the service that you’ve been needing.
Like imagine your electricity, right? I mean again it doesn’t matter what your business is, but I can tell you that the most important thing you can do again, is to take a heart-centered approach to let them know you’re here for them, to be here for them, and let them know that we’re going to get through it together. Because that right now, Hackie, is going to mean so much more in partnership, customer stickiness, so you know just making sure that you’ve got a long life-long partnership together going ahead whenever we come out of this you know coronavirus scenario that we are in today, this pandemic.
This is the time where true leaders step up and show their true colors. It is also the time where true leaders don’t step up and show their true colors. And I say leaders, I’m not saying you have to have to be a CEO or a Founder or a c-suite executive. We’re all leaders, we all have the ability to fact and to impact.
Making an impact through video
HR: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you’d like to cover?
BS: I would like to do this real quick. I want to give everyone that’s listening, and I don’t know when this show is going to air, but five quick tips to becoming one of the world’s top LinkedIn video creators. And this can transcend across platforms, but I urge you that’s the place you need to be showing up right now for the reasons that I described, right? Be where the people are, your customers are there, your prospects are there, your partners are there. Everybody is there. So let me give you these tips, okay? So number one is show up and be human. I know it sounds weird, it’s like why wouldn’t I do that anyway? Put the phone in front of your face, put it in selfie mode, hit record and you’ll understand. It’s not as easy as it sounds but I will tell you. Every time you do it, you get a little bit less uncomfortable. You get more comfortable being uncomfortable. So, show up and be human is tip one.
Tip two is engaging support, build community and shine your light bright on others. If you remember a couple things that we talked about today like just know that every social platform is about one thing, and one thing only, it’s about the people, right? Each of these companies give you the Digital Playground and we as the kindergarten get to decide to show up and play with each other on the playground, right? So, engage and support, build community and shine your light bright on others. That’s tip two.
Tip three is create. You have a voice and a story that matters, and a voice and a story they can positively affect, impact, and inspire another human being’s life. And there is no greater gift to give and there is no greater gift to be received. Show up on video, share your stories. It’s all about relate-ability, okay? Talk about what you’re interested in, talk about what you’re excited about, talk about what you’re passionate about, talk about what you’re scared about, right? In the times that we’re in right now, everyone’s terrified. Well if you talk about that, that’s relatable. We’re all going through that right now and again, it’s all about relate-ability. Uh, again, remember 60 seconds or less is your best friend. The reason why is because everyone has 60 seconds. On LinkedIn, it’s not like a YouTube where you have a tab and it shows all your videos. This is you scrolling through your feed and you’re seeing videos, so you want to capture their attention, and if they don’t know who you are, I always say people are going to fall in love with you. Listen to what you have to say. Well 60 seconds, everyone has, but if you’re talkin two minutes, and more and they don’t know who you are, they’re going to keep scrolling.
Tip four, be consistent. Consistency is key to success in anything. So create a content strategy. A calendar that used to write on the calendar on your phone. Or on your email app what have you for you, create a level of consistency that works for you.
And then tip five is collaborate. Incredible things happen when we come together. Look at what we’re doing right now Hackie, right? We have come together to a digital medium to be able to share, and to voice our vibes, right? And do that to our tribes and come together in a way through social distancing, right? We need to and also because you’re in Fort Lauderdale and I’m in San Diego, and obviously we can’t get on the plane right now. So it’s amazing what you can do with technology, guys. And I think the other thing too that I want you to remember is that people don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. Simon Sinek said that in this–especially again right now– in the world we’re in, with the pandemic, I want you to think about it this way. Your smile is now your logo. Your personality is now your business card and then how you leave other people feeling after that experience with you, especially through video, right? That’s your trademark.
A last piece of advice for young people with Tourette’s
HR: Brian, what’s one piece of advice you might have for a young person who has Tourette’s syndrome?
BS: You have a voice and a story that matters and your voice can positively affect other people just by sharing and showing up and being you. So own who you are and know that you are the best you that you can be.
HR: On that positive note, I want to thank you so much for being with us here today at Exploring Different Brains. Please tell our audience how they can find out more about you and your work?
BS: Yeah, so obviously you can connect with me on LinkedIn. Please send me a personalized invite letting me know that you saw or heard me, and Hackie on Different Brains. I have two giveaways for the audience today. One is a free 15 lesson LinkedIn jumpstart course that a friend of mine and I put together a bit back. It’s got tons of great nuggets for you newbies to LinkedIn, or if you’ve been around and didn’t realize that it’s an engagement platform now. So we’ll have the notes, the LinkedIn, the show notes, but it’s LinkedInmasterclass.thinkific.com. And if you want to chat with me, if you have any questions about how to lengthen video for you, your business, you want to talk video strategy, you can schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with me. It’s calendly.com/voiceyourvibe. I’ve been extending this time more than 15 minutes, usually more, on 30 now just cause I’m going to help as many people as I can, again especially in these times that we’re in because, again, it’s so important to show up so those are the best ways. And Hackie, thank you so much for having me on your show, I so appreciate it, my friend, and I’m sending you and all the listeners all my good vibes and all my love and wish everyone to stay safe and we will get through all this together.
HR: Brian Schulmann, thank you very much for being with us and we hope to have you back again real soon.