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Fast-Talkin' Motivation: Fran Capo

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Fran Capo is not your everyday keynote motivational speaker. She's in a league of her own.

Tony Robbins ain't got nothing on this woman. Capo is a comedienne, spokesperson, adventurer, nine-time author, three-time Guinness world record holder, and motivational speaker. Through her life's wacky and unpredictable events, she has developed a unique perspective and refreshing tenacity for accomplishing the unthinkable.

Although she started out as an accounting and philosophy major at Queens College in New York, Capo decided to switch to a media-related major when she was a junior. At this time, the beaming and eager Capo also started to play with the idea of becoming a stand-up comic. She was skeptical, though, because there were not many successful stand-ups at the time—especially females.

Thankfully, Capo's parents were always supportive of her pursuits, so she was not worried about their judgment.

"My mother always believed that nothing is impossible, and my dad always believed in finding humor in life, so no matter what I did, it was like 'Well, you do it, and if it doesn't work, it can be part of your stand-up,'" she said.

But it was Capo herself who needed convincing that stand-up was for her.

"I pray a lot, so I kept asking God for a sign, like 'Alright, give me a sign if I should do standup!'" Well, Capo asked, and she received.

The first sign came when she participated in a handwriting analysis at an auto show. The analysis said, "You have a great sense of humor. Use it to make money." Capo paid no attention to the small coincidence. The second sign came when a stranger came up to her while she was talking and standing in line with a friend and said, "Excuse me; you're really funny. Have you ever thought about performing at a comedy club?" Still, she took the sign with a grain of salt.

Yet another sign came when she read a monologue from the dramatic play The Zoo Story in her introduction-to-acting class. Using her natural sense of humor, Capo read the piece in a very comical manner rather than the typical serious style. One of her classmates approached her after class and offered her his slot at a comedy club. Denying the sign again, she declined the invitation.

Next, Capo went back to God and asked, "All right, God, I really need some signs. How about a sign that's really convenient?'"

Then, one day, a sign came that she could not deny.

While taking an alternate route to one of her classes one day because of construction, Capo saw her sign. As she entered the side entrance to her class's building, she saw a larger-than-life poster that read "Stand-up Comedy Auditions Today. Winner Gets to Perform at Crayton and Grey's." Crayton and Grey's was an Irish pub that had never held comedy shows before. It was also located two blocks from Capo's house.

The only problem was that the auditions were ending only 10 minutes from when Capo saw the sign. With no material prepared at all, Capo jetted to the broom closet-sized classroom and worked her magic on the fly.

After her audition, time began to pass, and Capo wondered who won the contest since she had never heard from the competition's coordinator. She called the coordinator and found out that she had actually won. The results had been posted on the wall where she had seen the original poster, which she had not walked by since the audition day. Capo had also forgotten to leave her contact information, so they were unable to get in touch with her.

Once Capo learned that she only had four days until her performance, she got busy preparing a five-minute routine. The next day, the coordinator called and asked her to prepare 10 minutes. By the day of the performance, Capo's time slot had been bumped up to a half hour! Being a creature of adaptation, she simply said, "Okay."

On her first night, Capo did a spectacular job, receiving a standing ovation. A reporter from a local newspaper was also impressed with her performance and wrote an article about her titled "Fran Capo Wins Her Way Successfully Through Her First Live Performance."

On her second and final night, Capo bombed. After that experience, she did not do stand-up for another four months.

One day, Capo ran into Rick Messina, who was the manager of Drew Carey and Tim Allen and a bartender for another comedy club. He had originally seen Capo on her first night at the pub and wanted her to perform where he worked. So she did.

Soon, Capo became a regular at various comedy clubs in New York. Always looking for something new and bizarre to do, Capo then set out to promote comedy in New York City by starting a Comedy Day for the city. After everyone told her she was nuts, Capo went to city hall, got permission, and coordinated a group of comics to perform at the event. December 12th is now officially Comedy Day in New York City. There is even a proclamation to prove it.

After the event, Jamie Masada, who owns Laugh Factory Magazine, hired Capo to organize an event that would get exposure for the magazine. Next, she found herself having a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, promoting the idea of having a comic taken to space. After she made waves on the streets of DC, Laugh Factory Magazine asked her to be its editor.

Now that Capo was establishing herself in the stand-up comic industry, she sought a more stable job to pay the bills between shows. She had a connection at the R&B and soul radio station WBLS-FM in New York, and she approached the station about writing for its morning show. WBLS told Capo and her friend that if they could write 10 skits by the end of the week, they might get hired. That night, the team cranked out 30 skits, and they were hired the next day.

While working at the radio station, Capo started to fool around by performing a parody rap song using her impression of Mae West. Her rapping as her character June East, the long-lost sister of Mae West, became a hit with listeners, and eventually, Capo was on tour with LL Cool J. She was even written about in Billboard magazine.

Before her tour with LL Cool J, Capo was doing her rendition of the weather report with her Mae West impression one day at the radio station, and a reporter from the Daily News heard her and contacted her for a story that she was writing on weather and traffic announcers. In that interview, the reporter asked Capo what she was planning to do next in her career. Not having the faintest idea of what she really was planning to do, Capo came up with an answer that would suffice.

"Oh, I'm thinking about breaking a world record," she said. When the reporter asked which record she wanted to break, Capo froze. "I can't tell you. I don't want to jinx it," she said. Before the article went to print, Capo had to come up with the record she was planning on breaking.

After rushing out to buy a Guinness Book of World Records and scouring the book like a madwoman, Capo called the reporter and told her she was considering breaking the record for fast-talking, which was 552 words per minute.

The very next day, when the story was printed, Capo got a call from Larry King Live about appearing on the show to break the record.

"Now, to be honest with you, I didn't know who Larry King was. All I heard was 'cable,' and I was like, 'Hey, is this some kind of porn thing?'" she said.

That day, Capo went on the show and broke the record with 585 words per minute. She later broke her own record with 603.32 words in 54.2 seconds. Her record is also featured in Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Planet Eccentric! and the Book of Alternative Records.

People began to ask Capo if she had ever done keynote speaking, and so, like always, she dove in. With a huge collection of stories, the spontaneous Capo speaks to many companies and organizations about achieving the impossible. Her most popular speaking topic, "Dare to Do It," consists of her life's stories and the lessons behind them. Too many times, people give up on things they want to do because they find roadblocks that could get in the way. Capo targets this issue in her speaking.

"I tell them all my secrets to overcoming self-imposed limitations," she said.

"Life is too short to be doing something 40 hours a week that you don't like," Capo added. "Do what you love, and the money will follow. Never give up your dreams. I have the philosophy of 'Live every day like it's your last, and one day, you'll be right.'"

Since she began sharing her life and career experiences through motivational speaking, Capo has written various business- and marketing-related books, such as The Humor Approach: A Guide to Humor in Speaking, How to Get Publicity Without a Publicist: An Easy Step by Step Guide to Getting Yourself in the Newspapers, on Radio and TV, and her latest, her own rendition of the 1910 Wallace D. Wattles classic The Science of Getting Rich, which she recorded as a book on CD. She has also written for a series of state trivia books with titles such as It Happened in New Jersey, It Happened in New York, and It Happened in Pennsylvania.

Still intrigued by the idea of breaking world records, Capo went on to break the world record for holding a book signing at the top of the world—19,340 feet up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. She also broke the record for having a book signing at the depths of the sea—12,465 feet down, at the wreck of the Titanic. Today, she holds three world records in the Guinness Book of World Records.

"Anything that I do, whether it's the parade down Pennsylvania Avenue—anything—I truly believe it's my enthusiasm that gets people involved. Because at first they think, 'What, are you nuts?' and then people start thinking, 'Oh, maybe this is possible,'" she said.

Through her career as a performer, Capo has learned a tremendous amount about publicizing and marketing a product, which in her case is herself.

"If you don't learn how to market it, make it stand out, and sell it, then why bother? In sales, you have to have your hook," she said. "I really think that if you believe in what you're selling, you're not just being another 'salesperson.'"

Going back to her comic roots, Capo also knows that humor sells.

"At the Super Bowl, what do people talk about? They don't remember the commercials with the straight-on facts; they remember the humorous commercials," she said.

Currently, Capo is starring in a reality show with her good friend John Basedow on The two are also teaming up for a seminar in mid July called "Mind, Money, Body & Soul Boot Camp," which infuses physical and mental prosperity with financial success. Since this kind of event has never been held, the group that attends will be part of a world record. Seriously.

Watch for Capo in the Super Bowl ads next year; she will be starring in "The Greatest Commercial Ever!," a promotion that is selling seconds of its Super Bowl time to smaller companies. Also, check out her weekly blog on My Sweet Connection to see what adventures she's up to this week.
On the net:Fran Capo

Fran's World...And Welcome to It!

Mind, Money, Body & Soul

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