AAE was joined by keynote speaker, social entrepreneur, and change advocate, Deanna Singh. As a keynote speaker, Singh gives audiences the tools and courage to imagine, activate, and impact the world as agents of change.
A lifelong social justice advocate, Singh is on a mission to make the world a better place through building and breaking current social and socioeconomic systems to create positive change. I recently had a conversation with her about how she got her start, making an impact, and what’s next for her career.
AAE: Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in the field and as a speaker.
Singh: I come from a family highly skilled in storytelling. As an African American and Sikh American, I was privileged to grow up exposed to excellent storytellers, my grandparents were all farmers and learned to tell stories to pass the time. I was able to listen to them weave life lessons easily into their beautiful narratives. These experiences, of sitting at their feet and listening to them, were invaluable in my journey.
It started with my love for sharing what I learned and helping others gain understanding through the magic of storytelling. The years have connected me with diverse communities across the globe, proving to be a grand canvas on which I’ve been able to refine my skills further.
Indeed, I am but a humble part of a grand tale, a single thread in this vast tapestry of life, weaving together narratives of understanding, empathy, and inspiration. I am proud of my roots, for it’s there that my love for cinching life’s lessons into heartfelt tales took flight, and it’s there that my journey continues, refining my skill and sharing my voice with the world.
AAE: What topics do you speak on and why are they important to you?
Singh: The two main topics I speak on are Purposeful Hustle and Inclusion in the Workplace. Purposeful hustle is about channeling our individual uniqueness into making the world a better place, while Inclusion in the workplace addresses creating diverse, innovative, and welcoming work environments.
I believe that all of the solutions to the world’s most complex problems already exist. The problem is that we have not created the platforms and provided the tools that would allow those ideas to come forward. I am passionate about these topics because they eliminate the barriers that are preventing us from being the best version of ourselves. They help us to imagine the world not as it is but as it could be!
AAE: What kinds of audiences do you usually speak to? Who do you think resonates the most with your message?
Singh: My audience is diverse, ranging from Fortune 100 companies to university settings and conferences. However, all of the audiences are passionate about positive change and building strong organizational cultures. They relate to my presentations’ mix of research-based facts, story-telling and actionable lessons. A memorable high for me is when my audience members share how they’ve implemented these tools after the presentations.
AAE: What differentiates your approach to public speaking from others?
Singh: What sets my approach apart can be distilled into three key factors.
- My ability to make learning “sticky” through my use of story telling.
- I seamlessly merge academic theory and best practices with real-world experiences for a comprehensive learning delivery.
- Although I acknowledge the challenges, my perspective is characterized by an abundance and a joy-filled mindset.
AAE: What’s an example of how you go above and beyond the expected for your client or audience?
Singh: One of my presentations’ impacts is seeing audience members regularly returning to learn more. For instance, recently I asked one of the people that has come to at least ten presentations in the last twelve months why she keeps coming back. And she told me. “You bring a certain perspective to the world that I’ve not seen before. You know how to take stories and bring them to life and use those stories to teach us a lesson. I keep coming back because each time I grow more and I become a better version of myself.”
In another instance, an audience member came up to me and said, “You won’t remember me because I was just one of a thousand people in the audience, but you did about seven years ago. You said something that really struck me, and I wrote it down on a scrap of paper and I put it in my wallet.” She then pulled out a piece of paper where she had a quote of mine and the date. She went on to say, I’ve had it in here for the last seven years, and I pull it out at least once a week to just remind myself of what I’m here to do. And it gives me so much inspiration.” Yes, by this time, I was in tears!
Having a microphone is a huge honor and responsibility, and I do not take it lightly.
Words have power. I make sure that when I get an opportunity to hold a microphone that I don’t use words to amplify my power but instead I use it to try to multiply the power of the audience members so that we all walk away stronger.
AAE: What do you think has been your greatest accomplishment or impact?
Singh: I am proud of my persistent push towards living my Purposeful Hustle. Over the years, I have supported, started, and funded numerous organizations that make substantial differences in the world. Rather than specific figures, my greatest accomplishment is noticed through the small impacts that smooth out the path for someone else. Watching other people thrive because of my actions confirms I’m on the right path.
AAE: What’s next for you in your career journey?
Singh: I look forward to cementing deeper relationships with global change-makers. I plan to leave this world knowing that I have done my best to help others thrive, and I am comfortable going wherever that purpose leads me.
If you’re interested in booking Deanna Singh for your next event, visit her speaker profile on AAE’s website to learn more.