Episode 23 - Steve Judge

A Life-changing accident that changed everything. Making Conversations about Speaking Count!

Steve Judge, Motivational Speaker & Paralympian

Making Conversations about Speaking Count!

Steve Judge Inspirational speaker

Imagine losing your limbs in an accident.

That’s a real human test. Most people would fall into one of two camps.

Feel the loss, and struggle to overcome it, before essentially accepting your ‘job lot’ and just becoming a bit angry.

Many would. And they’d be forgiven.

Then there are others, who would not let it defeat them, or define them.

Steve Judge is definitely in the latter of the two camps.

In today’s episode, Wendy is joined by someone who made her cry after watching them on screen upon winning for Team GB as a Paralympian.

Steve Judge is a legend that leans into adversity.

Following the devastating car accident which left Steve fighting in surgery to save his life, he’s made the decision to not lean on his excuses, and instead turn them into challenges.

As a result, he’s achieved so much.

Steve opens up on how one conversation made him more determined than ever before.

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Full Episode Transcript


Making Conversations Count – Episode Twenty-Three

29th March 2021

Wendy Harris & Steve Judge 



00:00:00: Introduction

00:02:05: I don’t know how I’m going to do it!
00:03:34: Sounds like a nightmare, count me in
00:07:52: Right feedback; right people
00:09:41: Visualise, visualise, visualise
00:11:51: Where’s the accent?
00:13:20: how do you come across?
00:18:02: Growth is rocking the boat
00:19:31: No such thing as normal
00:24:08: Opportunities around us all the time
00:25:10: Steve’s pivotal conversation
00:28:30: Why isn’t your life brilliant, fantastic, awesome?
00:29:57: Final thoughts


Interview Transcription

Wendy Harris: Have you ever seen your life flash before your very own eyes?  Well, if you have woken up and your world has changed overnight, you’re going to need the next half an hour with your favourite brew in your hand to sit back and listen to our next guest, who is going to be making conversations about speaking count.

I’m delighted to have professional speaker, Steve Judge, triple Paralympian join us on today’s episode.  What a wonderful surprise last week when I opened my inbox to find a review from someone I don’t know, so thank you to Innerstate Agent for the wonderful words that really have given me great encouragement that I am reaching listeners that I don’t know personally.  If I knew where you lived, I could have just dropped onto your doorstep and had an embarrassing moment with you, but thank you for leaving me in a state of absolute bliss last week.

I’d like to give you all a huge thank you for listening to the show.  By sending me reviews, by hitting the follow or subscribe button on all the channels, means that the show is showing up in the charts which is a fantastic feeling and just a little bit of a teaser for you, my own pivotal conversation will be hitting the episodes very, very soon.  I have a guest host and everything and I share all.

Without further ado, let’s introduce Steve Judge.  Steve, please introduce yourself?

Steve Judge: Hi Wendy, international motivational speaker, bestselling author, coach as in transformational coach and speaker coach and I also run workshops and that’s a little bit about me.  More about me is in my journey, but that’s an introduction of who I am.

Wendy Harris: In actual fact, Steve, I think the listeners will probably agree with me that there are lots of motivational speakers, there are lots of coaches; however it’s how you got to do that that makes you that motivational speaker and that coach that you are today.  So, that journey is what has formulated the life that you lead now.

Steve Judge: Do you know what, anybody can tell you that they’re a speaker, and some people do, because anybody can speak.  Now, if you’ve got the confidence to stand up on the stage or do it virtually then people are, “Wow, you’re a speaker”, it’s not about that though; it’s about there’s so much to speaking, to be called a professional speaker is very different than a speaker.

I’m kind of going around and about the table here, because it’s very straight; there is no certificate that you can get that says, “You are a qualified speaker”, and this is what I’ve learned over the years really.  When I first became a speaker, I was working with the Scour Media Team.  That contract finished and they said, “Steve, what are you going to do now?”  I said, in a superman pose hands on hips looking to the future going, “I’m going to be a motivational speaker”, and they’re like, “Wow, that’s awesome, Steve.  How are you going to do that?”  I replied, “I haven’t got a clue.  I have no idea.  I don’t know how I’m going do it”.

By that stage, through my journey through my life I’d learned that if I wanted something enough, I’d make it happen.  I’d find a way of doing it and one of the first things I did was I went to the Professional Speaking Association, it’s called the PSA, I went there, face-to-face meeting and the best thing there was you enter a room full of other speakers because it is a very strange job. 

To be in a room where some people have made it, some people are just starting out, you’ve got all levels of experience and knowledge but they’re all in one room; so meeting them, shaking their hand, talking to them was amazing.  They said, “Steve, we’d love you to join us.  In your first year, if you decide to join, you can enter a competition, a speaking competition”.  I was like, “Tell me more”, because I’m quite competitive, as you will find out later.

Wendy Harris: Yeah, me too.

Steve Judge: They said, “Okay, Steve, if you enter this competition, you stand up and you talk for five minutes, no PowerPoint or anything.  At the end of it you will be judged by the speakers in the room on your performance, your stage performance, your memorability, your messages, stage craft etc”.  I said, “Wow that sounds a nightmare”.  I said, “Count me in”.

Wendy Harris: Yeah, because I just want to get it out, however it comes.

Steve Judge: Yeah, because it’s all about communication, it’s about getting it across the right way.  They said, “If you win in the region, you go through to the semi-finals representing the region; and if you get through the semi-finals, you will end up on the stage of the conference at the end of the year, in front of 300 of the top speakers in the UK”.  I said, “That’s where I want to be.  I said I wanted to be a speaker, I guess that’s where I need to be.  I want to be on that stage at the end of this year in front of those speakers”.  So, I said, “Yes”.

I joined the PSA and I obviously rehearsed and practised and ready to perform in front of my peers and I did perform, did my five minutes.  Five minutes is very, very difficult because you’re timed as in, if you run over time, you lose points so you’re constantly thinking, “Oh my goodness”.  You can’t just speak for three minutes because then you’re not using it fully, so it’s all got to be rehearsed and timed.

Anyway, I did the thing, and I didn’t win, and I didn’t get through and I was absolutely gutted, but loads of the people came up to me, the speakers and said, “Steve, you’ve got an amazing story.  You’ve obviously got the confidence but you’re not clinical, you’re not polished, you don’t know the takeaways or the stage craft or anything like this”.  They gave me loads of feedback and I took that feedback on board and it was so vital because at that time, I could then go to another region and I could perform there, which is what I did.  I went up to the North East.

After taking on the feedback, changing my speech, rehearsing absolutely loads, went there, competed and I won, and I got through.  I still had people coming up to me and saying, “Steve, brilliant, but have you thought about this, have you thought about that?  You could do this, you could do that”, and I said, “Tell me more.  Tell me more, I need this feedback, I need to take it on board, I need to be a better communicator so that I can get my messages out there”.

I took it on board, rehearsed, went to the semi-finals, now I’m competing against ten other regions throughout the UK, competed and I got through to the final stage.  To stand on that stage in my first year in front of 300 top speakers was amazing; very, very nerve-racking.  I almost felt sick going onto the stage, but I did it.  I didn’t win the whole event but that was not my goal; my goal was to get onto that stage to be seen, to be known, and I still have people coming to me and saying, “Steve, I remember you back in 2016 when you stood on the stage”, and I said, “Good that was what I wanted to do”.

Now, since then I’ve progressed more, obviously taking on feedback all the time and last year I was actually the President of the Professional Speaking Association in Yorkshire and had a blinding year, it was amazing, got loads of newcomers and my commitment is very much to help other people.  Because I believe that every single person has got a story inside them and if they want to share that story, to help others, then I want to help them in the best way to do that with highs, with lows, with entertainment, with comedy, with memorability, with props; there are so many techniques that you can use and I know what those are now, so I want to share those with others.

As a speaker coach and workshops, that’s what I’m doing, that’s one of the roles that I do and I absolutely love it and then that is very much about communicating to the wider community about the knowledge and the expertise that you have got, again so you can help other people; it’s so vital.

Wendy Harris: It’s come full circle then in lots of ways?

Steve Judge: Yeah.

Wendy Harris: When you go to the PSA like you did, you surrounded yourself with the right kind of constructive criticism as well, so that’s really important isn’t it, to be around the people that you aspire to be like.

Steve Judge: Yeah, you end up being an average of the five people you spend most of your time with, so make sure those people are the people that you want to be.  You’ve got to put a mix in, so you’ve got to make sure that you can mentor some people but also, you’re inspired by others.  So by going there, there are a lot of people that were able to help me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I had spoken before then, but all the feedback was, “Steve, you’re amazing”, “Steve, what a fantastic journey”, “Steve, you’re so confident standing on the stage”, it was all positive.  My mum, my family, my friends, everybody in the audience and so you think that you’re really good; that feedback was from the wrong people.

Okay the audience are very important but it’s only when you get feedback from professionals, who know what they’re talking about, that’s when you’re going to get the right feedback and that is nerve-racking, that is out your comfort zone.

Wendy Harris: It’s taking that feedback as well, isn’t it, from pride, because these people know you and know your journey and see the leaps and bounds that you’ve made to get there.  Friends and family will always give that support, won’t they?  They’re the cheerleaders in the back, but it’s taking that feedback from, “That was great you’ve got such confidence”, to, “That was brilliant because”, and it’s that hook.  What was it brilliant for?  Why did I hang my hat on it?  And that’s storytelling that will be passed on.  I think that’s the most important part about storytelling; it’s why we love so many of the fairy tales.  It’s because there is a structure to what’s happened in that journey that we follow.

Steve Judge: Absolutely, Wendy, and that’s one of the reasons why I’m here on the podcast, is because somebody heard me speak two years ago.

Wendy Harris: Absolutely, yes,

Steve Judge: Clearly, it was very memorable, which is the whole point and she suggested me to you and now we’re speaking, so it’s working.  What I’m doing is working.

Wendy Harris: If you follow the process, you’ll get to where you want to be and to be on that stage, when you visualise something, I think visualisation is a very powerful tool as well, isn’t it?

Steve Judge: Absolutely, I’ve used it throughout my journey, when I was going through rehabilitation as an elite athlete and now in my job as a professional speaker, I do visualisation every single morning as part of my routine, visualising what I want to achieve.  Now that could be the day, the week, the month, the year, the five years, but I always visualise until I smile and then I open my eyes and then I get on with my day; but that is very important to me.  I have a vision board and I have certain things that help me to remind myself to always have a vision and to seize opportunities, and it’s so important.

Wendy Harris: I had a quick look at your bio, because I try not to be too presumptive about my guests.  Some of my guests I know, some I don’t, and I was really quite taken aback by your journey really in terms of that sentence in your bio that says, at 28, you had a devastating car accident.  Now, you touched on just before, you were a professional athlete.  What sport were you in?

Steve Judge: So, before the accident I wasn’t an athlete at all.  When I left school, I used to work down the coal pits of Yorkshire.

Wendy Harris: Get away.

Steve Judge: I know, it usually catches a few people out.  So I left school, I worked down the coal pits in Yorkshire, I realised that that wasn’t my goal to be there.  I took myself to night class and to college and I trained as a mechanical engineer, so I was being given problems and finding solutions; that’s what I loved.  Eventually, the pits closed down, I moved onto other jobs.  I was working in construction; I was a health and safety inspector for nine years.

I mean I did sport, I loved running, running was my passion; I’d run everywhere and anywhere.  I was good at it, but I was nowhere near elite, I wasn’t doing it for that I was doing it for PBs, personal bests, always a personal best, pushing myself all the time and keeping fit and healthy and just being in a local running club.  That was my passion, but things changed; this car accident happened in 2002.

Wendy Harris: Without giving your story away too much, but you had to learn to walk and to talk again.  I have a burning question, and this is just me being very, very curious; once you get to know me a bit better, you’ll realise why.  If you’ve got to learn to talk again, clearly your roots are in Yorkshire, yet you don’t have a Yorkshire accent; so have you retrained yourself out of that?

Steve Judge: Not necessarily talk again, it was mainly just the standing and walking again, but my accent; you’re absolutely right.  I was born in Hertfordshire and I moved up to Yorkshire when I was about nine years old, so I’ve lived up in Yorkshire the majority of my life, but they say that you never lose an accent if you’re proud of where you come from.  So that’s why you can hear the Irish all over the world, because they’re very proud of where they come from; they never lose their accent.

Wendy Harris: This is true.

Steve Judge: It’s true, you also find that some northern people might move down to London to get a job and lose their accent because they want to blend in, or they just feel it’s necessary.  You can lose an accent and I have lost my southern accent at times, but it’s always come back, and I think it’s now very much part of me; it’s my uniqueness.  But yes, I probably lost it when I was working down the coalpits.  It didn’t kind of blend in too well speaking with a posh accent; it’s not necessarily posh it’s a southern accent, but it does come across as posh.

Wendy Harris: I think you’ve got a lovely speaking voice and I think that really does help.  When it comes to listening to people’s stories, if you’ve got somebody that’s nasally and whiny, you’re going to turn off a little bit, aren’t you?

Steve Judge: It is so important, and I think you can find these people when you go abroad.  Some people just carry on talking as they normally would to the people in the country, the foreigners as we call them.  I don’t; I immediately slow down, I immediately pronounce my words better, I don’t shout, which is a typical thing and where possible, I use a few of their words in the country.  That’s because I want to be able to communicate with them; I’m thoughtful about how to do that.  I can’t speak their language, but I’ll do as much as I can for them to understand what I’m saying the best way possible.  When you’re on the stage, again you want that as well.

You’ve got to think about how you come across; are you going to be one of these speakers that shouts a lot and tells people what they need to do, they need to pull themselves together, etc; or are you going to explain that; are you going to be laissez-faire; are you going to swear?  It’s a big decision sometimes.  Some speakers swear, and they use it with passion and that can be okay; I don’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I do swear in the household but not all the time; on the stage, I never do.  I don’t think it’s necessary and you don’t know where that’s going to go, especially with film clips and YouTube, you don’t know who could listen to it, so I just don’t think it’s necessary at times.

Wendy Harris: There’s a lady who’s been on the show before, Nicky Pattinson, she’s a northerner and she swears and in the first 30 seconds of the show, I lost count of how many bleeps there were.  People have said that in context to her story, you don’t notice it; you notice it immediately but then you forgive it, so I think it depends on the context of you using different methods.

Steve Judge: She does, yeah, I know Nicky, she’s a friend of mine and initially it is a bit of a shock and then, you kind of get used to it a little bit.  However, sometimes you think, “I don’t know if that was really necessary”, but that’s her, that’s who she is.  What frustrates me is I’ve come across speakers who are very passionate, they’ve used a few swear words and then say, “Right, I’m going to use the c-word now, okay”, and then they say the c-word.

Wendy Harris: No.

Steve Judge: You think, “Don’t tell us you’re going to do it and then say it, because that says you’re in control of what you’re saying, so be in control and don’t use the c-word or the t-word or things like that”, it really is bizarre how people say things like that, but everybody is different, I guess.

Wendy Harris: I think it’s interesting because when you’re speaking, you’re holding the conversation, you’re holding the audience and you’re taking them on a journey without it being two-way.  There is the interaction and responses that you get from an audience, but how do you cope with it just being like a monologue as such?

Steve Judge: Like it is now, with virtual?  Oh, my goodness, it’s very, very challenging.  So I say that because, on virtual, you can’t always see your audience, you can’t see their reaction, you can’t hear them because they’ve muted themselves and you’re literally looking into the camera; so, it is challenging. 

What’s helped me is my confidence knowing that I’m a good speaker, I’ve done it on the stage and when you do it on stage you can see them smile, you can see them in shock, you can hear them laughing at the right times and you hear them clapping and gasping and all of that and raising their hand and all sorts of things.  I know that I’ve got that inbuilt inside me so that I know that, when I’m doing it virtually, they will probably be doing exactly the same individually and that has really helped me.

If you were starting out in this game as a professional speaker or as a speaker, then it’d be really off-putting not knowing whether your jokes are getting laughs or whether people are actually listening or anything like that, so I think it comes with feedback and confidence within yourself knowing that you’re doing the right thing, but how do you get that confidence if you’re just starting out?  I don’t know, I’m not in that situation at the moment but the one thing I would do or suggest if anybody’s thinking about starting out in speaking, or not too sure whether they’re coming across correctly, is film yourself. 

It’s a big thing that all of us speakers do, we film ourselves not because we love ourselves.  We film ourselves and then we play it back on ourselves and we watch it and it’s hard.  You think, “Why am I doing this?  I know what I was like, I’ve just been there doing it, why am I watching it”, but you will see the little niggles that come out; the times you say, “er” or you touch your ear all the time or you repeat yourself.

It’s really frustrating when you hear speakers that repeat the same thing three times, not to get a point across just because —

Wendy Harris: Trying to catch up with where they are in their rehearsed pattern.

Steve Judge: — it’s kind of in their monologue, absolutely.  Yeah, I’m speaking today and I’m really excited about it and I’m going to put something new in and it’s making me a little bit nervous, because mine is very much scripted and rehearsed.  It doesn’t come across as scripted, it comes across as very from the heart, but I know what I’m saying; so I’m going to put something new in and this is what you do as a speaker.  You are constantly moulding it and changing it and adapting it and make it better and better and better, so I’m going to put something in today and it’s made me really nervous.  Half of me is thinking, “Steve, just don’t bother, don’t change it, don’t rock the boat”.

Wendy Harris: That’s growth, that’s where the growth comes from though, isn’t it?  The nervousness is because you care; when you stop being nervous is, I suppose, the time where you have to think, “Do I really care what it is that I’m doing?”

Steve Judge: Yeah, absolutely, it is about pushing yourself forward all the time and thinking, “What more can I do?”  This came to me last week and I thought, “I’ve really got to put that in, I don’t know if I really want to; yes, I do want to.  I really want to, I think it would really help the audience, it will give them another takeaway; I’m going to put it in”.  After this podcast, I’m going to do some rehearsals, give myself some confidence boosting and then I’m going to deliver it later today at 5.00.

Wendy Harris: I’ll be your first guinea pig.

Steve Judge: I’ve obviously got the confidence; the rest of my keynote is brilliant, so it will still be a brilliant keynote and this one little extra thing won’t make it terrible; but it’d be nice if people pick up on it because if they do, then I can move forward with it. 

Feedback comes in various different waves and beginning of 2020 I did a talk, and a few people mentioned this one bit in my talk, and I thought, “Right, that’s really good, I’m going to have to keep going”, but they didn’t mention this other thing which I really like.  Since then, I’ve dropped that because if they’re not remembering it or commenting on it, then maybe I need to drop it and it’s so hard because I really like it and instead, I’ve got just grown this other thing that people are talking about.  You’ve got to listen to the audience, it’s not about you apparently, it’s about the audience and around what they like and what they get what their takeaways are.

Wendy Harris: Your keynote is very much based on your journey through life after the car accident and things like that.  You’ve gone on to do some incredible things, Steve, tell us how did you fall into paratriathlons?

Steve Judge: My left leg got ripped apart at the knee, my right leg got partially amputated.  I had to grow my leg back basically, my right leg by four inches.  I had a cage round it, I had to extend my leg a millimetre a day.

Wendy Harris: I’ve seen the pictures.

Steve Judge: Have you?  Yeah, it’s horrendous isn’t it, like torture.

Wendy Harris: How do you deal with that?

Steve Judge: It’s very much about having a vision.  We’ve talked about visualisation already; my vision was to stand again and to walk again; that’s what I wanted.  I was passionate about it; as a human being, I wanted to stand again.  I’m six foot one, so sat in a wheelchair, I didn’t want that; so that’s what drove me forward every day.

Wendy Harris: No, your knees would be up by your shoulders, it wouldn’t be a good look.

Steve Judge: No, it wouldn’t not really.  I had to twist bolts on that cage every single day, lengthening my leg bit by bit, stretching the skin and the muscle and the ligaments; but when I got to that stage, I then had to grow my leg.  I had to grow my bone, so there was no bone in the gap which is bizarre.  To grow bone, you had to stand on my leg even though there was no bone in it and just trust this cage that was holding it together.

To do all of that you can imagine the mind over matter, but it’s about having that vision again; what are you doing this for?  Why are you pushing yourself through this pain?  Because I want this goal that I’ve set myself, to stand on it, to walk on it, to do all the physio, to do the rehabilitation.  When the cage came off, I was able to stand and walk; I thought I’d be back to normal, that was my goal, I want to be back to normal and I realised that at that stage, I was very different to what I was before the accident.  My left leg had got limited movement and feeling; my right leg, my ankle was pretty much solid; I had so much pain and I realised then that there is no such thing as normal and it’s a big message that I talk about.

There is no such thing as normal and you’ve got to stop comparing yourself to others, to your friends, to your families, to celebrities.  Everyone is different and I realised that I had to start thinking about what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t do; so I started being very active.  I always had this passion that I didn’t want the accident to have had a detrimental effect on my life, that is what I was running away from, but my goal was to find out what I could do.  So I started swimming, I started cycling, setting myself goals in those sports and pushing forward just for charity.

Then I was looking for another event and I found this thing called a paratriathlon; swim, bike and run.  Now, I hadn’t run for seven and a half years; that had been stolen from me because of the accident.  I went down to get vetted because it was a paratriathlon, so triathlon for disabled people; and they assessed me and they said, “Steve can you run?”  I said, “Not yet”.  I didn’t have a goal for that; my goal was in the swimming and the cycling and now I had a goal to complete this triathlon, in any way, in any hook or crook, even just walking round so I said, “I will try”, and I set off.

I can remember running for the first time my brain knew what to do, but my legs couldn’t quite keep up and I was looking down and I was running again and just smiling and looking down at my legs and just thinking, “This is amazing”.  But the thing is, I was in so much pain once I’d stopped the running, not while I was running because of the adrenalin the endorphin, but when I stopped running that’s when the pain hit and so the next day I couldn’t run.  So, I thought about what I could do rather than what I couldn’t do and I swam; and the day after that, I still couldn’t run so I cycled; and the day after that the pain had subsided, so I ran again, because I loved to run.

That was my training montage that took me all the way up to the first triathlon in 2009, it was a British Championships, it was down the local lake.  Meeting the other Paratriathletes was amazing.  These people had missing legs, missing arms, visually impaired or completely blind doing a triathlon.  So we set off, the horn goes off, we do the swim, we do the bike, on the run section I’m running round 5K now, my legs are now working as hard as they can and I can see there at the sidelines everybody cheering me on; my mum was there, my brother, my sister, they were standing up, they were waving their hands and I ran through that finish line.  Like I said, running away from the accident, running away from the pain and the discomfort that I had, but running towards that finish line and crossing that line was just absolutely amazing.

People have asked, “What does it feel like?”  Because on that day I became British Champion, and what it felt like, it felt like a relief; a relief after the heartache that I’d been through, the rehabilitation and the training and the torment and the pain that I’ve put myself through; it was a real finish line for me.  But, there lies the next part of the story, because that was my visualisation to succeed in that, but somebody came up to me and said, “Steve, you’re British Champion”.  They said, “Would you like to represent Great Britain?” and I said, “Hell, yeah, I would love to represent Great Britain”.

The thing is, there are opportunities around us all the time, you’ve got to see them, you’ve got to hear them and when you do, you’ve got to do something about it and grab hold of them with both hands.  You’ve got to take action and move yourself forward, and so that’s what I was willing to do; and so I had to set new goals and new visions.

Wendy Harris: Steve, I am sitting here, I’ve got goosebumps a little bit, because just to be able to almost stick your fingers up at what had happened and say, “I beat that and what’s next, bring it on”.  I’m a big action girl, people will sit around me and talk about different things and I will listen and that’s fine, I think that’s a good thing to do; but if they start talking about the same thing again, I get frustrated, so I have to start taking action because it’s clear that they’re not. 

If my family, for example, say to me, “I’d quite like to go and watch Hairspray at the theatre”, I’ve booked the tickets because there’s no point in having that, “I’d like to”, there’s nothing stopping us from doing it other than somebody taking action and I think that’s really important.

From all of those different things going on and representing Great Britain, some of the conversations that you must have had, not just with yourself but with other people who are perhaps worrying that you’re taking on too much, must have been fraught, it must have been challenging.  But I ask everybody that comes on the show, there has to be one conversation that created a turning point for you.  Is there one that sticks in your mind on the journey that you’ve been on, Steve?

Steve Judge: The one that jumps into my mind is when I was in the rehabilitation, I’d just gone into hospital, they had done the first operation and I’d come out and I’d woken up, opened my eyes and that’s when the surgeon came over to me and he said, “How are you feeling?”  I said, “I feel terrible, and I feel really groggy”.  He says, “I just want to let you know, Mr Judge, that we managed to save your legs the best we could, but I am afraid with the severity of your injuries, you may never walk again”.

Those are the words that I heard and it’s horrible and I think at that stage it’s very much a fight or flight in the sense that, the flight would have been for me to just roll over in bed and give in and say, “Okay, I guess I’ll never walk again”, but there was something inside me, some anger, some fire that said, “Who are you?  Who are you to tell me that I may never walk again?”  I always say that anger’s a good thing, as long as you use it correctly.  Impatience is a good thing, as long as you use it correctly and that was a turning point for me to really push forward and prove him wrong, prove the surgeon wrong and I’ve used that throughout; and there’s been times when I was competing as an elite athlete and I wanted to become a world champion.

I remember one conversation we were having an argument with my partner and she said, “I hope you lose”, and that again just tore me apart, but eventually I picked myself up and I would prove her wrong.  I went out to Beijing and I competed there against athletes from around the world and I became a world champion.  Again, it’s running down that home straight —

Wendy Harris: I was watching you because I’d had my daughter that year.  It was just Olympics for the whole of those first few months, so I get a little alarm bell going, “Wendy, you were watching that”.

Steve Judge: It’s when somebody says that I can’t do something, that’s what lights my fire in a way or ignites it.  I get very angry and passionate.  Let’s talk about what’s going on at the moment with the Pandemic and Covid-19, it’s trying to close me down, it’s trying to stop my business.  I’m a speaker, I go to face-to-face meetings, big conferences of hundreds of thousands of people, not anymore because of Covid-19. 

That really makes me angry and frustrated, but I will not quit, I will not give in.  I will do it virtually, I will work on my workshops for goal setting and goal achieving, I will work on my one-to-ones, I’ll do an e-learning course, I will do anything and everything to make sure that my business is still alive.  Presenting online, I will do that, and I will do that even better.  I’m doing it now with sound effects and props and all sorts.

Wendy Harris: You phrased it as, “I will do anything to work on my business”.  In actual fact what you’re doing is far deeper seated than that; it is making sure that you keep that flame lit.  It’s that passion that you have in terms of helping people and being able to reach people, that keeps your business going.

Steve Judge: Yeah.

Wendy Harris: That’s what people kind of forget sometimes.  It’s not about necessarily keeping the business going, it’s like what drives you, isn’t it?

Steve Judge: It’s my “why”.  My why is very much to help people to experience the happiness and fulfillness of achieving their true-life goals.  Put another way, it frustrates the hell out of me when people don’t achieve their self-actualisation.  These are the type of people where you say, “How are you?  How’s your job?”  They go, “So, so; jobs a job”.  “How’s your relationship?”  “Yeah, that’s okay”.  “How’s your health?”  “It’s okay”, that’s wrong.  It should be, “Brilliant, fantastic, awesome”.  Why is it not?  What are you not doing? 

I want to help those people to make their lives better, to find out what they really want, find out what their passion, their fire is and then give them the tools to actually help them to achieve it and achieve their self-actualisation in this world.

I went through a lifechanging experience because of my car accident and I think that woke me up to we do only get one life.  I was very much about goal-setting before and doing things and keeping fit and healthy, but I think the accident has emphasised everything.  Now, I really want to go full throttle, full throttle becoming world champion, full throttle becoming an entrepreneur and helping other people, being a professional speaker, international speaker.  What more can I do in this world?

Somebody said, “Have you got a book?”  I said, “No”, so I set that as a goal, I have now written my own book.  I’m now an author of a best-selling book.  The book is called, “Don’t lean on your excuses”, because this is what a lot of people do and I want to help them instead turn those excuses into challenges and move forward.

Wendy Harris: Despite the situation that we’re in currently, it is that fight or flight.  I know for myself last year, everything fell through the floor and I just knuckled down, got a best-selling book, now got a podcast, I’m able to talk to inspirational people like you, Steve.  This is what we do, is we make the best of a terrible situation and hopefully in light of what we’re doing, that we help others along the way.

Steve Judge: Yeah and that’s what I really want to do, so if I can help anybody this is what I really want to do and it’s up to them to ask for help and I know that’s not the easiest thing.

Wendy Harris: First step.

Steve Judge: But if you are wanting help, please do it.  There are various ways you can contact me.  I’ve got a website www.steve-judge.co.uk, but more than that; social media.  I’m everywhere, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, there really are no excuses to lean on if you want to contact me.  Please do and let’s see if I can help you out, which I’m sure I will.

Wendy Harris: All of that six foot one has got enough inches there to support everybody; do get in touch with him please.  Steve, it’s been an absolute delight to listen to your story and to be able to chat with you about your experiences.

Make sure you go to the podcast page www.makingconverationscount.studio/podcast and hit the follow button.  Every Thursday will be a new guest landing into your favourite platform so that you don’t miss an episode ever.  If this is your first time, do go back and listen to previous guests; there are some fantastic conversations where business leaders really do sink back into what has happened for them and how they’ve overcome things.

Make sure you follow www.makingconversationscount.studio/podcast.  You’ve been listening to Wendy Harris, best selling author and trainer of 30 years.



We don’t want the conversation to stop there!

All of our listeners are important to us, so we would love it if you can connect with Wendy on LinkedIn and send her a message with your favourite episode!


paula senior YMCA

Episode 1 – Paula Senior

In our first episode, we speak to Paula Senior from the YMCA. Paula is a fund-raising officer and is currently preparing for the annual Sleepout to raise much needed funds for the night shelter, how covid has stretched them to the limits and how they have risen above the challenges faced by the homeless.

Nat schooler

Episode 2 – Nat Schooler

Can one conversation really influence where you are driven? Nat Schooler

Influence marketeer Nat Schooler joins Wendy as they chat about how important it is to produce strategic content online. Nat spends his time podcasting, writing, and driving across foreign continents for fun. However, their conversation quickly turns to the importance of building relationships with the people you want to work with. Nat places trust as the highest asset everyone should nurture.

Azam Mamujee M Cubed Tax specialist

Episode 3 – Azam Mamujee

In this episode, Wendy is joined by Managing Partner, Azam Mamujee a tax specialist with a voice of velvet.

Azam agrees that conversations count however he explains how numbers can tell a much more powerful story. He has a catchphrase “Give Azam the facts, I’ll save you the Tax”.

Jenny Procter Marketing for introverts bondfield

Episode 4 – Jenny Procter

Jenny Procter – Bondfield Marketing

Making Conversations about Marketing for Introverts Count

Let us introduce you to Jenny Procter, a marketing consultant and self-proclaimed introvert.

Jenny writes PR and communications for B2B clients and has her own podcast show, and she discusses issues around running her own business as an entrepreneur.

Andrew Deighton team coaching

Episode 5 – Andrew Deighton

Andrew Deighton – Team Coaching. Making Conversations about Teams Count. We are joined by Andrew Deighton today, who helps build and develop high-performing teams through strategy and processes in today’s remote working world.

Wendy has worked with Andrew in a second business through mentoring and knows firsthand how his advice relates to many aspects of running a business.

Nicky Pattinson sales expert public speaker

Episode 6 – Nicky Pattinson

Nicky Pattinson – Leading Sales Authority & Public Speaker. Making Conversations about Personality Count. Nicky Pattinson speaks the Truth in all she does! A northern lass who traded on the markets at the beginning of her career, similarly to your host. Now, Nicky has a best-selling book “Email: Don’t Get Deleted” and her own YouTube channel NICKYPTV.

Buckso Dhillon Wooley

Episode 7 – Buckso Dhillon-Wooley

Buckso Dhillon-Wooley – Actress, Speaker & Business Coach. Making Conversations about Self-Belief Count. A true diamond, Buckso is very much aligned with herself and the many facets of her own personality.
As an actor, speaker and coach her mission in life is to help people connect with their higher self.
Being aligned with yourself on a spiritual, physical and emotional level allows you to shine brighter in everything you touch.
Buckso Dillon-Whooley is a well known Actress, who has starred in Disney’s recent remake of Aladdin and is a long-standing actor on Coronation Street with appearances on many UK TV shows.

James Daniel Copywriter

Episode 8 – James Daniel

James Daniel – Copywriter
Making Conversations about Copywriting Count
Joining us in this episode is copywriter James Daniel.
He describes himself as ‘That old guy who writes copy – you know, the beardy one with glasses.’
We should point out there could be other old guys with beards and glasses out there!
It’s easy to like James’ style of writing because he’s a conversationalist who realizes that people don’t speak geek or tech.

Henny Maltby Digital marketing agency

Episode 9 – Henny Maltby

Henny Maltby – Digital Marketing Agency, Pink Elephant Media. Making Conversations about Digital Marketing Count. When the Pandemic hit in early 2020, Henny Maltby turned to her husband as they both realised their business was going to change forever. Offering online marketing to large corporate businesses who cut budgets left a hole to fill. By opening the conversation up with local businesses, it was obvious what the next chapter would be for them at Pink Elephant Media…

Kim Walsh Phillips

Episode 10 – Kim Walsh Phillips

Kim Walsh Phillips owns Powerful Professionals, a business that helps empower entrepreneurs to turn clicks into cash and identifying the superpowers in others so they can fly high. Kim is an expert in social selling strategy.

Amelia Thorpe Wellbeing coach

Episode 11 – Amelia Thorpe

Amelia Thorpe – Mental Health Wellbeing Coach. Making Conversations about Mental Wealth Count. Meet Amelia Thorpe, founder of Wellbeing 360, who talks to Wendy about how important it is to give equal priority to our mental and physical health. Listening to Amelia’s story will bring a beacon of hope that we can all take charge of our own conversations which will give us back the control that slips sometimes when times are tough. Amelia is a wellbeing counsellor.

John Attridge capacity business

Episode 12 – John Attridge

John Attridge – Guiding Businesses to Reach their Full Potential by Tapping into Spare Capacity

Making Conversations about Capacity Count. John Attridge, owner of BBX turns spare capacity into value for many businesses. When you listen to John you just know there is a bigger story to this guy as his accent gives it away!
John has successfully built a business network and community to help people fill spare capacity and exchange services. It is a brilliant concept and if you’ve not come across it before yet in touch with me and I’ll tell you more. Using the BBX community helped my own business through the lockdown and has provided such a lot of support and new relationships.

Clara Wilcox return to work coaching for parents

Episode 13 – Clara Wilcox

Clara Wilcox runs The Balance Collective, Specialising in Return to Work Coaching for Parents. Making Conversations about Returning to Work Count! This is a conversation that every Mum will resonate with, juggling home and work is not simply a balancing act but a superpower!

Clara recognized through her own personal journey that the right support for Mum’s returning to work was only available from the employer’s point of view. This causes a biased approach and is not always helpful in an emotive decision-making process.

dr ivan misner bni networking

Episode 14 – Dr Ivan Misner

In this episode, Ivan and Wendy explore how conversation is the foundation of all growth and learning. How times have changed, looking back and also predicting our future generations experiences, yet communication will still be the underpin even it how that looks has changed.

Janine Coombes marketing coach

Episode 15 – Janine Coombes

Google has recognised this lady as the #1 marketing coach and her video series mixes humour with key messages, it is the lovely Janine Coombes. Janine is a marketing coach for personal brands.
In this episode, Janine and Wendy share how using the right language influences the conversations we have and how it affects our results.

Lizzie Butler presentations coach

Episode 16 – Lizzie Butler

Making conversations about presentations count! Delighted to introduce Lizzie Butler, owner of LB Communications, who met Wendy at a local online networking event and immediately hit it off. Lizzie helps you to grow your business through personal development training and how to achieve brilliant communication.

Jem hills inspirational speaker

Episode 17 – Jem Hills

Making conversations about Bullying count. Jem Hills is an inspirational speaker, trainer & performance coach.
Talking to Wendy in this episode is ex-marine Jem Hills who you might find it hard to believe was affected by bullying and a lack of confidence. As a release Jem discovered Northern dancing and practiced as a bedroom activity that later led to an accidental release of freestyle dancing at a competition. The dancing-built resilience and the foundations for the training to complete the Mud Run and onto his Elite Special Forces career.

Peter howard graphic design

Episode 18 – Peter Howard

Peter Howard runs a design studio that is ranked in the top 100 in the country and was responsible for the WAG brand. Having known Peter and his team for many years, Wendy has heard lots of his stories but knew there would be one she had not heard before.

Taz Thornton & Asha Clearwater business coaches

Episode 19 – Taz Thornton & Asha Clearwater

Making conversations about partnerships count. In a Making Conversations Count first, we are joined by two dynamic guests in this episode. Both Taz & Asha provide business coach services in different areas. Joining Wendy chatting about all the elements that make up a great debate. You are not going to want to miss the observations with Taz Thornton and Asha Clearwater around questioning, opinions, debate and discernment that makes for wonderful colourful conversations.

Vicki Carroll O'Neill

Episode 20 – Vicki Carroll (formerly O’Neill)

Vicki works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and executive leaders who are stuck in their business and need someone as a partner to coach them to their next level of success. Vicki offers growth marketing consultant advice, strategy plans & also organises in-house marketing teams.

heidi medina business coach

Episode 21 – Heidi Medina

This episode contains one of our most important conversations, so we’re definitely going to make it count!
Wendy Harris brings Heidi Medina into the conversation today, who opens up the conversation about abuse she has encountered.
She’s a Linkedin expert and business coach who is the exact opposite of the classic ‘my way or the highway’.
Whether you meet Heidi online or in person she is the same.

Niraj Kapur online sales coach

Episode 22 – Niraj Kapur

In this episode, Wendy is joined by Online Sales Coach Niraj Kapur from “Everybody works in Sales” a business that helps companies with their sales processes.

Nikolas Venios the ideas agency

Episode 24 – Nik Venios

We reflect on how this business man helped his poorly mother solve a household challenge which led to a career of making conversations about ideas and innovation count. We will all eventually lose our parents. Sadly, it’s a part of life. Not many of us have to suffer that loss at the tender age of just six. We couldn’t think of a nicer guy to help us with our goal of making conversations about ideas count. Truly, if anyone can hold a conversation about ideas, it’s Nik Venios of the Ideas Agency. Did you know that NASA has a genius test? During this episode, you’ll find out all about this, and the fascinating stats surrounding it.

Jonny cooper hates marketing

Episode 25 – Jonny Cooper

Most business owners hate marketing. That’s probably because they don’t understand it. Someone who does get marketing is Jonny Cooper, and even he can’t stand it! In fact, he despises it so much, he built a business around it. Welcome to Jonny Hates Marketing! This week we’re making conversations about messaging count. Messaging is so important to get correct. Your entire marketing voice depends on it. That’s why you need to listen very carefully to Jonny Cooper.

Wendy Harris telephone trainer how to sell over the phone

Episode 26 – Wendy Harris

Wendy Harris is an expert telemarketer, who has years worth of experience in cold-calling and doing it right. Now a podcast host, Wendy shares her story and how she became an advocate for making conversations count!

Will Polston Make it happen

Episode 27 – Will Polston

Making conversations about wealth….and Clubhouse….count! Paying it forward. Acting from a position of generosity and giving within the law of reciprocity. We’re talking to Will Polston.

Ray Blakney Live Lingua

Episode 28 – Ray Blakney

Making conversations about language count… Ray Blakney is the CEO And founder of online language school Live Lingua. Can you speak another language other than your native tongue? Wendy admitted to the “Making Conversations Count” team that she doesn’t, and we can’t help but feel she’s definitely not alone.

Many Ward write my book cuddle monster

Episode 29 – Mandy Ward

Mandy Ward is a book mentor, helping people to write their own books under the company ‘Write my book’. Mandy is also an author herself, including the popular children’s book ‘The Cuddle Monster’.

Sarah Townsend copywriter survival skills for freelancers

Episode 30 – Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend is a freelance copywriter and best-selling author of the book ‘survival skills for freelancers’. In this episode, we discuss the importance of conversations in the freelance world, and how things can lead to many opportunities…

Paul Furlong visual branding advertiser videographer

Episode 31 – Paul Furlong

Paul Furlong is part of Opus Media, producing TV advertising, videos, and photographs for businesses. He knows a thing or two about visual branding, and is considered a advertising guru!

Hear what people are saying about the show

I love this podcast. The guests you have on all bring something new to the conversation and definitely thought-provoking.

Sometimes this means I change something I do, or something I would say, and other times it’s a real opportunity for reflection.

Thanks for sharing your guests with us Wendy, the podcasts are brilliant.

Paula Senior

I always enjoy listening to Wendy’s Making Conversations Count podcast and admire her talent for drawing out people’s stories and getting to the heart of things for finding out what makes them tick.

We all have pivotal moments and Wendy manages to find the right parts, showcasing the reasons why someone is who they are.

It’s those details that we connect to and come to more understanding of why people do what they do.

Heidi Medina

Love this podcast series. It’s a great idea to have a theme of ‘pivotal conversations’ and the variety of guests from massively different backgrounds keeps it fresh and interesting.

Wendy is a natural host and makes people feel at ease to share their stories.

Andrew Deighton

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