About Ben Taxy
I believe that listening catalyzes positive change and that the ideas and leaders we need to solve the big problems of this century will emerge from the technical community.
That’s why my mission is to help technical professionals to move the good ideas in their heads into the other heads in the room, and to become better listeners, leaders, and collaborators.
For the last twenty years I have worked with prominent experts and teams in a wide variety of fields to improve listening skills, increase psychological safety, and create compelling speeches and presentations.
Previously I wrote for the network TV show Family Guy and graduated from Harvard University.
Growing up, I wasn't comfortable being in front of other people. Hated being in pictures. Wouldn't sing or act in the school play. Didn't go to any school dances (or prom).
I was a nerd.
Almost all I did was read books and hang out with my nerd friends. I played sports but never felt like an athlete. My world revolved around math team, chess club, Dungeons and Dragons, and science-fiction and fantasy novels.
Inside my nerd circles, I felt confident and accepted. Outside, I was a fumbling mess of naiveté and arrogance, and I lost out on a few incredible opportunities because I didn’t understand how to express myself effectively.
Growing up, no one would have described me as a great speaker.
They absolutely would have called me a nerd.
I was obsessed with math and science. My social world revolved around math team, chess club, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and talking about science-fiction and fantasy novels.
Inside my nerd circles, I felt confident and accepted. Outside, however, I was a fumbling mess of naiveté and arrogance, and I lost out on a few incredible opportunities because I didn’t understand how to express myself effectively.
I thought my good ideas were obvious. I didn’t realize the distance between having an idea and bringing other people on board with that idea. I didn’t understand the difference between being smart and having an impact.
When the deficit in my communication skills became clear, I was already out of college. It was a terrifying wake-up call. What if my ideas and value stayed locked inside me? Would I find my purpose? Could I be happy and live a good life? Probably not….
Thoroughly daunted, I took my life in a very different direction. I moved to Los Angeles, worked as a ghostwriter and speechwriter, and, following the advice in books about improving communication and presentation skills, started studying improv and stand-up comedy.
For several years, I was immersed in a deeply social environment full of non-technical people and performed improv or standup on stage every week.
To survive and thrive in this performance environment, I created communication techniques that suited my introverted personality and technical mindset. Soon, I was comfortable talking with anyone, and activities like speaking and selling became interesting, even, dare I say it… enjoyable.
I taught these same communication skills to my clients, and for many of them it was the first time they really understood how to handle 1:1 meetings, present to small groups, and speak to large audiences.
Eventually, I took the most impactful ideas and techniques and created workshops to help customer-facing technical professionals to navigate sales situations, improve psychological safety and team performance, and deliver compelling presentations.
I'm still a nerd. Being a nerd is 100% compatible with being an effective communicator. We just need a different approach to communication skills that leverages our strengths.