Like many children, Todd Newton listened to the radio, but unlike his peers, he didn’t tune in for the latest pop hits. “It was the voices that came on between songs that hypnotized me,” says the television personality and Toastmaster. “At the age of 10, I wanted to grow up and be on the radio. Somehow I knew that I would one day speak in front of thousands of people.”
Newton’s youthful prediction proved true. Not only has he done extensive radio and TV work, but he is a sought-after presenter. In August, he will be the keynote speaker at Toastmasters’ International Convention in Palm Desert, California.
For over a decade, Newton brought viewers face to face with Hollywood’s biggest stars, hosting programs such as E! Entertainment Television’s red carpet coverage of the Academy Awards. He has hosted a variety of TV game shows, including Hollywood Showdown and Whammy! on the Game Show Network. Currently, he’s presiding over The Price is Right Live! at Bally’s hotel in Las Vegas – it is a stage version of the famous TV game show.
The Boston, Massachusetts, resident is set to unveil a new hosting adventure, one with a cross-cultural theme. Newton is hosting World’s Wildest Game Shows, a series debuting on the Travel Channel in late August. The program features him traveling around the world to compete in a variety of game shows.
“As a game show host, I find the series particularly fascinating because it displays differences in culture as to what people find entertaining,” says Newton, a member of Quincy Toastmasters in Quincy, Massachusetts. “The level of competition, the varying set developments, and the extremes to which contestants are willing to go are so different from country to country.
“For instance, in our pilot episode I traveled to Japan to compete on a show. Here in the U.S., I’ve been on Hollywood Squares, The Dating Game and Lingo, but I’ve never had to do what I did over there. To win, I had to carry a 15-pound octopus in my mouth while completing an obstacle course on a tricycle.”
The series is slated to air for five episodes, on Thursdays at 10 p.m., from August 26 to September 23.
A Nod to Nana
The 40-year-old native of St. Louis, Missouri, credits his grandmother, Eleanor Kruse, a comedienne in the St. Louis area during World War II, for inspiring in him a love of live speaking. “My Nana was one of my greatest role models,” says Newton, who has her name tattooed on his right arm. “She was always able to bring out the very best in people… I also saw, through her, how wonderful it is to be able to entertain and make people smile.”
Although already a media veteran, Newton became a Toastmaster in late 2007 to further improve his communication skills. “I joined because I wanted each moment on stage to be as beneficial as it could be for the listeners,” he says, noting that the attention of the audience is a great gift. “As a Toastmaster you learn that a connection with your audience is the key to an effective presentation.”
He particularly appreciates the evaluation process in club meetings. “In television you don’t receive the same kind of feedback that you do in a Toastmasters meeting,” says Newton. “Or when you’re speaking to an audience of 5,000, you may get e-mails or Facebook messages if it’s well-received, but as far as getting a true evaluation, nothing compares with Toastmasters. There’s great benefit to receiving constructive criticism.”
When he became a member, Newton lived in Los Angeles, so he joined a club in nearby Woodland Hills: the Dynamic Toastmasters. “I was impressed with how self-motivated and un-intimidated Todd is,” says Cookie Horwitz, a member of the club. She praises Newton’s warmth and charisma, saying, “He’s always candid about himself without hitting you over the head with his message.”
The TV host, who is also a certified life coach and runs his own coaching organization, switched to the Toastmasters club in Quincy – a city just outside of Boston – when he relocated to Massachusetts a couple of years later.
Newton has already visited a variety of Toastmasters clubs. For much of the year, he is on the road, giving speeches or working on TV projects, and he says that whatever city he’s in – Miami, Las Vegas, New York – he makes it a point to visit a local Toastmasters club. He’s seen all kinds of clubs – and he’s impressed:
“There is no better organization to improve your professional and personal life,” he says.
When working toward his Competent Communicator award, Newton gave more than half of his 10 speeches at clubs he visited. Speaking in diverse club settings is enriching, he says. “You get a different perspective when you visit other clubs. I met tons of great people.”
Newton first hit the airwaves at 19, when he landed a job as a disc jockey at a St. Louis radio station. From there, his rise was rapid. He spun records at a few Midwestern stations and then held high-profile jobs in New York and Los Angeles. At one point, he was featured in Seventeen magazine as one of the hottest DJs in America.
Newton is grateful to his father, Jim Newton, for encouraging him to recognize and seize life’s every opportunity. This enterprising approach led Todd to TV work early in his career. When he interviewed for the DJ job in Los Angeles, he stayed in Universal City, next door to the MTV (Music Television Network) offices.
“I thought, Who knows when I’ll be back in the area?” recalls Newton. “So I walked over and asked to speak to someone regarding becoming a VJ (video jockey). The receptionist looked at me strangely, but put me through to Curt Sharp, and I owe much of my career to him.” The television programming executive, whose credits include The Golden Globe Awards, took the time to see Newton and referred him to his first agent.
That strategic visit catapulted Newton’s career. By 1995 he was a host for E! Entertainment Television and he entered the game show arena in 1999 with Hollywood Showdown. While he enjoyed his red carpet work, Newton has a special affinity for game shows.
“What I love about game shows is that I literally stand next to people when they receive money or a prize that will change their lives,” says Newton, who has given away $26 million on air in cash and prizes to date. “I can also watch game shows with my children. [Game shows] are just good, clean fun.”
TV producer Sande Stewart has created more than a dozen game shows and recalls the first time he met Newton. When he was auditioning to host a show, “We invited Todd in to do a run-through, which is an informal, in-office, mock playing of the game. Within minutes I knew he had everything you look for in a host. He was energetic, sympathetic and likeable, and it seemed like he would relate to the camera.”
Call Him Coach
In 2006, Newton started Todd Newton Life Strategies (TNLS), a life-coaching organization that helps entrepreneurs, artists, athletes and business leaders reach new levels of personal and professional development. The company is growing rapidly, opening several new offices throughout the U.S., he says.
“Coaching isn’t therapy,” he explains. “It opens up your thinking and shows you different angles and perspectives for achieving your dreams and can be more valuable than people realize – even for already-motivated individuals. When you talk with a life coach who sees your life from a different perspective and is not locked into your frame of mind, he or she can suggest you try different tactics that often turn out to be great insights. As the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry said: ‘A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be.’“
Through his Health and Wealth seminars, Newton offers presentations by a variety of speakers on a range of topics, including his own signature presentation, “Put Your Best Into Action,” urging listeners to look inward for the keys to happiness, success and fulfillment. That is the same title of his International Convention keynote speech, which will be tailored to the subject of communication skills – and how anyone can become a more compelling communicator.
Newton also works with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s disease research and the Best Friends Animal Society for animal rights and rescue.
“Every morning when I wake up, I ask myself what I can do that day to improve myself,” he says. “When the sun goes down, I can rest easily knowing that I helped create something worthwhile.”
Julie Bawden Davis is a freelance writer based in Southern California and a longtime contributor to the Toastmaster. You can reach her at Julie@JulieBawdenDavis.com.
Todd Newton will deliver the keynote speech at the International Convention on Wednesday, August 11, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert, California. To learn more, visit www.toastmasters.org/2010convention. For more information about Todd Newton, visit www.Toddnewtononline.com.
2010 International Convention to Showcase Top Speakers
Todd Newton is part of a top-rate lineup of speakers at this year’s International Convention. The four-day event in August will feature two keynoters – Newton at the Opening Ceremonies and Golden Gavel award recipient Carolyn Kepcher. Kepcher will address the audience at the Golden Gavel Dinner held in her honor Friday, August 13. A business leader, writer and television personality, she is a former executive vice president for The Trump Organization who now dispenses career advice through her new venture, WorkHerWay.com.
The education sessions will focus on communication and leadership, with presenters offering tips and tools that everyone can benefit from.
The presenters are:
- Lynne Brasher, DTM – Businesswoman and veteran Toastmaster. In “Lead On!,” Brasher will explain the importance of “servant leadership” and “emotional intelligence.”
- Ted Corcoran, DTM – Past Toastmasters International President. He’ll co-present a session with Past International Director Tammy Miller called “Communicating for Personal and Professional Success.”
- Mark Eaton – Former pro basketball star, who played 12 seasons for the Utah Jazz. He’ll draw on his basketball background to share “The Four Commitments of a Winning Team.”
- Jim Key, DTM –Toastmasters’ 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking will share “Speaking and Leadership Lessons to Laugh About.”
- Terri Langhans – Marketing consultant and author of The 7 Marketing Mistakes Every Business Makes (And How to Fix Them). She will share her expertise in “How to Make Your Marketing Stand Out and Get Better Results.”
- Connie Merritt – Life-balance expert and author of Too Busy for Your Own Good, Merritt will share time-management tips in “Too Busy for Your Own Good – Get that Spark for Life.”
- Lance Miller, DTM – Toastmasters’ 2005 World Champion of Public Speaking will share “Finding Your Voice” and how to speak about topics you are passionate about.
- Tammy Miller, DTM, PID – Speech coach and author of My Life is Just Speech Material … And, So is Yours will co-present with Ted Corcoran (see above).
- Sheryl Roush, DTM – Internationally recognized motivational speaker and a Toastmasters Accredited Speaker. In “Be Real! How to Speak with Spirit and Sparkle,” Roush will offer trademark tactics for dazzling from the podium.
- Sasha Strauss – This brand-strategy expert and managing director of the firm Innovation Protocol will talk about “The World of Brands: How Brand Strategy Makes and Molds Minds.”
- Rory Vaden – Self-discipline strategist, World Championship of Public Speaking finalist and co-founder of Southwestern Consulting. Vaden will talk about “Great Leaders are Great Speakers: Bringing Your Leadership A.L.I.V.E. through Persuasive Speaking.”