An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
Be confident. If you exhibit discomfort, you’ll make your audience uncomfortable too — and that’s never enjoyable. Even if it means you need to practice your delivery a hundred times before you get up on that stage, then practice it 101 times. Rehearse on your own and in front of friends, family, or strangers if you have to. Just don’t get up on that stage unprepared and full of awkwardness. Show fearlessness and your audience will love you for it.
At some point in our lives, many of us will have to give a talk to a large group of people. What does it take to be a highly effective public speaker? How can you improve your public speaking skills? How can you overcome a fear of speaking in public? What does it take to give a very interesting and engaging public talk? In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker” we are talking to successful and effective public speakers to share insights and stories from their experience. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lucas Seyhun.
Lucas Seyhun established one of the first coworking spaces in NYC back in 2014. Since then, he’s developed TheFarmSoHo to accommodate countless startup businesses and helped entrepreneurs, freelancers, tech innovators, and thought leaders find success. Today, the company has grown to more than 24/7 coworking facilities but now also offer private office spaces and a range of popular event venues.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born in Istanbul. I later spent most of my childhood in New Jersey and now I live in New York. One aspect most people don’t know about my life is that I used to be a US military veteran. I spent 5 years on active service.
Afterwards, I became an entrepreneur and a nomad. My sense of belonging is divided between the United States and Turkey. I embrace both cultures. I grew up — and continue to grow — in different settings and different places of the world.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Sheer luck and determination in the face of early failures, which became a valuable learning curve. Starting from the age of 20, each business that I built went from being traumatic to becoming, slowly but surely, a fun experiment. Now I possess more than one source of revenue and one source of passion. I don’t even consider them to be businesses anymore. They’re just a series of different passions and learning experiences.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
In 2014, I started my coworking space business in the real estate industry. I was petrified! I was 33 at the time and I had zero knowledge on marketing and lead generation. To make matters worse, I also didn’t know much about technology. I didn’t know what CSS was, how to build a website, or what content management really looked like.
All of these components were so alien to me because I came from a very traditional family-run, brick-and-mortar business that required us simply to have a storefront and merchandise in a store. That’s how people found us and purchased our goods.
I had to learn to combine my past skills, which I obtained from running a traditional business, with a whole new way of doing business. I became one with my clients, where I joined people who are doing what they love with the help of The Farm. This inspired me to develop The Farm and provide services beyond a coworking space to help other small business owners find an easier path to success.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We were so broke when we started The Farm. So we hired daily laborers to build drywalls and tables in the space. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the required skills to build such things.
It became kind of a routine where we built something, and then had to rebuild it and pay out more because the cheap work didn’t work. I ended up learning how to do plastering, drywalling, and framing but my efforts left a lot to be desired. So I would build something in my lack of knowledge and somebody else had to rebuild it after me. I became the person everybody had to clean up after. That continued for quite some time until I focused my efforts on marketing and related skills.
Now, I’ve gained a lot of skills and we have a dedicated and competent staff. I believe we’re all very proficient in what we’re doing and nobody’s cleaning up after each other anymore.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would say my family. My father was a role model especially in the early years of my life. He was an entrepreneur himself. He came to the US with $10 in his pocket and had a vision, a dream, and a willingness to work hard to achieve it.
He built things from scratch. I benefited so much from the knowledge he shared with me. I also paved my own path in quite a similar situation because when I built The Farm, it was at a time when we pretty much lost everything — family-wise, business-wise. We really had to start from scratch. My father’s ability to lead, be brave, and be bold in difficult situations was a great example to me.
You have been blessed with great success in an arena that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but are daunted by the prospect of failure?
Look at me! What’s the worst that could happen? We live in a Western civilization and it’s very unlikely that you’ll face the hardships of being completely homeless or hungry. That’s a highly unlikely outcome if you’re an entrepreneur and keep pushing. You could hold down two positions. You can have a safety net of regular income to fulfill your responsibilities while you build your own business.
At the beginning of my career, fear eroded my ability to have a long-term vision. I lost time because of it. So, my message to everyone is don’t be afraid.
In our company, we replace the word “fear” with “learning” and “opportunity” because you grow every time you leave your comfort zone. Keep trying. Keep pushing. Don’t be afraid but still be cautious. You still have to be rational with your decisions — look before you leap and most importantly keep learning. Knowledge will always prevail. You will always be able to build and ultimately thrive as long as your knowledge continues to grow.
What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?
I love what I do. I love filling my time not with only tasks but visions. I love challenging myself, having a healthy amount of stress but not becoming so stressed that I’m completely blocked off from reality and live in fear. I take my physical health and my well-being seriously. All those factors combined keep you driving forward and help you to be positive for the future.
Always have the future in mind but with a watchful eye on the present moment — focused by your daily task list. Together, both the vision and the practical work generate excitement and genuine satisfaction.
You do such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?
We’re going to re-focus the company as a property management company. This means that instead of expanding and renting properties, we are developing relationships with landlords who have unoccupied offices. Due to the pandemic, this is a very common thing in New York. They need to fill these properties. They can’t fill these properties with traditional clients, who previously would have been seeking leases of ten years or longer. They want to be able to comply with the current needs of clients, who are looking for short-term service solutions. So, plug-and-play solutions!
The Farm provides that and we’re exceptionally well-equipped, staff-wise, in knowledge, experience and ability. We could convert a property into a short-term rental service property within a month or two, thanks to our tried and tested contractors and highly skilled employees. This is something we’re looking to provide to landlords in New York City. That’s the direction we see ourselves headed in.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I actually heard this one recently. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” Another one I like is from Mark Twain. He said, “There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened.”
Fears often block us from being successful, or make us suffer or prevent us from having clarity happen first in our minds. They don’t originate in the real world. What happens in our minds is actually what happens in the real world. So if you suffer in your mind, your business will suffer in the real world as well. I have some battles executing these principles myself but I think those are quite simple but powerful adaptations for the best way of thinking and progressing. Those quotes are the ones I strive to live by these days.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker?” Please share a story or example for each.
First, have an objective in mind. What are you trying to convey exactly? What topic are you covering? Is the audience able to connect to that topic? Have you selected the right topic and the best words to reach your audience? Focus on what you need to say. You can come at any subject from multiple angles, but you should always know exactly what you want to impart from the get-go.
Second, be confident. If you exhibit discomfort, you’ll make your audience uncomfortable too — and that’s never enjoyable. Even if it means you need to practice your delivery a hundred times before you get up on that stage, then practice it 101 times. Rehearse on your own and in front of friends, family, or strangers if you have to. Just don’t get up on that stage unprepared and full of awkwardness. Show fearlessness and your audience will love you for it.
Next — and this doesn’t only apply to being a public speaker but in one-to-one speech — you have to have empathy. See yourself from a third-person point of view. That helps you focus on whether you’re being heard, if you’re telling the story properly, and if it’s easy to understand to your listeners.
Another thing is: try to make it as interesting as possible. Don’t make it monotone. You gotta crack a joke here and there, make momentary eye contact with as many attendees as possible, and most importantly, make it personal. Move around the stage if there’s room, but don’t overdo that either. Watch a bunch of top-viewed Ted Talks and take notes. Great speakers aren’t born — they’re the product of their experience, what they’ve taken in. Take it all in!
Lastly, your posture is very important. Your hand gestures are very important. Body language is where a lot of the communication happens. The tone of your voice… it just has to be natural. Once you focus on what you’re doing, you become one with your work and your speech. Be true to your own experiences, your own knowledge. Be authentic. Eventually, you’ll just flow, you’ll know what to say. You won’t even need a filter on, “Oh, should I say this or not?”.
As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?
I haven’t had anxiety for a long time so I don’t know how to answer that. But as I said, if you’re prepared and you’re in the flow, you shouldn’t be too anxious because you’re being true to yourself.
You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I’m an entrepreneur, not a leader of a community of artists or anything like that. My influence is limited to the people that I work with or interact with.
You influence others if you’re a good leader — even if you’re relieving somebody of a position. You say, like “Hey man, you’re not doing a good job. This is not your career path. You’re not enjoying being here. I’m letting you go.” You’re not really firing that person, you’re giving the opportunity to someone who loves that position — and you’re also giving the person who’s leaving a chance to find their true path.
We did that with a project manager recently. I’m so grateful for her. She’d done an amazing job but as our project manager, I felt she was never really motivated. It took time to find a replacement, but it was well worth the wait. Now, the project manager we hired is someone we know gives 100%. We let her transition into something she loves and found someone who can do the same job with greater enthusiasm.
Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?
This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!
Lucas Seyhun Of The Farm Soho On The 5 Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Public Speaker was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.