American comedian visits Taiwan to speak to inspire - “Be a sponge”

How much have you done to get to where you want to go?

Darren LaCroix is delivering a speech on stage. (By Taiwan News)

Darren LaCroix, a stand-up comedian, an award-winning professional presenter, and an entrepreneur, visited Taiwan this week to deliver speeches to inspire people who have failed many times but never give up; he shared the secret how he transformed himself from a chump to a champion: "Make yourself a sponge and go to the people who are the best because they think 'differently.'"

On Thursday, apart from telling his personal story, LaCroix also gave tips that help avoid speaking mistakes in front of more than one hundred people at CTBC Bank in Taipei. 

From a chump to a champ

In 1992, LaCroix suffered a terrible defeat in his career. After graduation from business school, he bought and ran a sandwich shop, which ended up accumulating more debt. LaCroix then decided that he wanted to be a comedian, but things did not go as he wished as he found out that he didn't have the comedian gene.

"Horrible Stand Up Comedian," a local newspaper wrote after his stand-up debut. 

Despite being slammed for his performance in the beginning, LaCroix was still determined to learn and excel in stand-up comedy.

"Back to the years I was a newbie in this industry, people around me were telling me that – you are crazy, you are stupid, that's not for you—but I didn't quit," LaCroix said.  

Something popped out in his mind and did change him – "Be a sponge."

What changed him?

On Thursday, LaCroix shared many lessons about his path from a wannabe stand-up comic in the early 90s to a world champion speaker. Today, LaCroix is a well-paid professional speaker and comedian. He has been coaching employees at companies like IBM, Fidelity, Sheraton Group, Motorola, EMC2, CVS, and other multinational companies. He has also traveled around the world to give speeches in Australia, Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan this week.

This Saturday and Sunday, LaCroix is delivering speeches at Wagor Intl. Conference Center in Taichung City to talk about his transformation and how to create a powerful presentation step by step.

"If you want to be successful, you need to think the way successful people think and to create the habits they have created to get you where you want to go," he said out loud.

"I decided I wanted to be the best comedian, so I went to the best comedian. I even joined a public-speaking training club to train myself to excel in the skill," he added.

The process to reach that end is long and challenging for LaCroix. He had to learn to overcome fear, to fall down on his face again and again, and to keep getting back up on stage another day.

LaCroix's every effort paid off. In 2001, he proved that someone so clearly lacking in comedic talent could one day take a gold medal home by winning an international humorous speech contest.

His transformation was not accidental but intentional. He recognized his own weakness, attended trainings, and invited several mentors to help him progress. He acted like a sponge to apply their advice.  

How much have you done to get to where you want to go?


Darren LaCroix’s world championship speech in 2001: