I originally wrote this article originally for Influencive. You can view it here
Billionaire Warren Buffett once told a class of Columbia University students, “Right now, I would pay $100,000 for 10% of the future earnings of any you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.” After the laughter quieted down, he said, “Now, you can improve your value by 50% just by learning ONE thing – communication skills, specifically Public Speaking. If that is the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.”
We have all been told about the importance of public speaking and how it can impact our business, career, success, and our income. Make no mistake: this is one of the most important skills you can develop. But, where do we start? How do we learn the critical skills to deliver a great speech?
I’ve always made a practice of accelerating my learning by seeking out the best in their fields and either partnering or convincing them to coach and train me. When I want to accelerate my ability in presenting and speaking, I turn to one person, Thom Singer. Thom is one of America’s top speakers and MCs. He is a CSP that has delivered over 800 speeches in his career, written 12 books on the subjects of speaking, entrepreneurship, and success, and has interviewed over 350 CEOs and business leaders on his podcast, “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do.” When I decided to write an article on how to crush your next speaking appearance, I reached out to Thom and asked him, “What are the critical elements of a great speech? Is there a secret formula?”
Here is what he said…
There are five things that make a great speech: relevance to the audience, a highly prepared speaker, the connection the speaker makes to the participants, the stories told, and actionable content.
What Makes a Speaker Relevant?
Not every speaker is the right fit for every audience. Too often, meetings are looking to “fill slots”, but great events have presentations that are tailored to the needs of each audience. This means that the speaker not only needs to have content, but they must make that content matter. For too long, we have been told that “Content is King”, but just because someone is smart does not make them a great speaker. Instead, it is about context. How the speaker takes their content and creates a bridge to the needs of the people listening is what matters. If you hear a speaker at a convention of plumbers and then at a conference of lawyers and they do not change any part of their talk, they are not really being relevant. The content alone can be the same, but the context must be customized for every audience.
Can a Subject Matter Expert Wing It?
Or Do Speakers Prepare for Each Talk?Anyone who says they can “wing it” is going to come up short. No great speaker ever wings their presentations. Great presentations have a lot of preparation. People mistakenly think that TED and TEDx talks are great because they are short. The reality is the best TED and TEDx talks were written, re-written, and rehearsed. I put in 40 hours when I did a TEDx Talk, and each time I speak for an association or company I easily put in 4-8 hours of customized planning. Preparation is the foundation of a memorable speech.
What Is It That Makes Some Speakers Connect More With Audiences?
The personality of the speaker matters. Not just on stage, but before and after the talk when they are mingling with the audience, how they engage with people does matter. When I say personality, I am not referring to them being “bubbly” or “outgoing”; many more reserved people make great speakers. It is hard to describe the X Factor, but the speakers who have that little extra spark will connect. A lot of it has to do with their motivation. Being a speaker involves some level of ego, but the ones that deeply connect with a whole audience keep their ego in check and are there to serve others.
Why Do Stories Matter?
Humans are wired to remember stories. If you go back thousands of years, we learned via elders telling stories. Studies have shown we remember a story longer than we remember a fact or figure. But in our world of big data, too many people love to pepper their speech with graphs and charts. But data without a story will be quickly forgotten. I recently was getting on an airplane, and another passenger asked me if I was the speaker who presented at an insurance industry event several years earlier. When I said “yes,” he told me he always remembers the story I told about my daughter, Kate. Even after many years, he even remembered her name. Finding the right stories for a speech is not hard, but it must be intentional, and the story must have a purpose in supporting the overall message. But the right story can forever anchor that speaker in the minds of the audience.
What Separates a Powerful Speaker From Just Entertainment?
Getting people to take action is the difference between a powerful talk and an entertaining speech. While some people roll their eyes at the idea of “Motivational Speakers” (remember, Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live painted motivational speakers as frauds who lived in vans down by the river), the truth is all speakers should approach their talks as motivational. What is the opposite of motivation? De-motivating. Too many speakers do just that. They bore people with their brilliance and do nothing to get them to want to act. If a speaker is going to do more than fill a slot in the agenda, they must know their purpose in getting people to take action. When people are moved to do something new or different, you are impacting their future.
So, there you have it, 5 powerful secrets to crush your next speaking appearance from Thom Singer. Now, it’s your turn to “take action” and use them to make a difference.
This isn't an article about failing and failing forward. Much of what you hear about how to get out of your comfort zone these days is around seeking failure, pushing yourself in ways that you haven't before, and learning from the mistakes you make. Those are all helpful in getting out of your comfort zone, but there is something more important. It starts before you do any of that.
Whether you realize it or not, you are comfortable in your life. I can say this because most people haven't taken the time to "kick their own ass" in while. When is the last time you sat back and critiqued yourself and your performance? I'm not talking about getting down on yourself. Heaven knows the majority of people do way to much of that unnecessarily and inflict negative pain on themselves.
Instead, what I am talking about is positive pain. I'm talking about stepping back, asking if you are truly pushing things to edge of your potential, and whipping your butt back into shape in this area. The reason pushing yourself to fail and the traditional "get out of your comfort zone" advice doesn't work for a lot of people is because they haven't made the choice within to truly get out of their comfort zone in the first place. They haven't made the choice to embrace and endure the positive pain they need to go through to really break free.
Just about everything you want in your life is outside your current comfort zone. But, instead of continuously talking about it or lamenting about it - make the choice.
For example, maybe you are currently working 8 hours a week on the side on your dream and you know it's not enough to get you there, but "that's all the time I have..." B.S. If you know you need to be working 20 hours a week to make it happen, do it. Make the choice. Embrace the pain. If you are used to sleeping 8 hours a day, you may have to start going on 6. If you are used to living a certain lifestyle, you may have to sacrifice it in the short term, for an even better lifestyle long term.
It all comes down to choice. Either you really want it or your don't. Most people say they want things when they really don't because they aren't willing to do what it takes to get them. In reality, the things they want are not worthy of what it will take to get them. And that is OK. Get those things off your mind and ask yourself what is really worthy of what it will take. Then focus intently, almost obsessively on going after them. Make the choice - not excuses, embrace the positive pain and changes you will have to make for things to happen, and then act. Go. Now.
With the end of the year coming up, it's a great time to get in some solid personal growth to start the new year. Throughout the course of the year, I endeavor to read at least 2 new books per month.
Every book is typically very good and thought-provoking, but once in a while, some books really stand above the rest.
Here are 3 of the most outstanding books I've found in 2018 that you should consider reading prior to 2019 to help you with your personal growth.
Wealth For All by Idowu Koyenikan
I found this obscure book by chance. I was looking for a quote for one of the Misfit Minute newsletters and came across a wonderful quote from Idowu. I had never heard of him, so I looked him up and saw his book. It was a short read with some great topics, so I picked it up. I was surprised to find it as insightful and refreshing as it is. Many of the topics covered in it are ones you've heard before, but Idowu has a way to cut through the noise and go straight to the point and the action you need to do to really make these principles work in your life. Idowu delivers in 3 pages what many authors take 25 to do.
Redefine Impossible by James Lawrence aka The Iron Cowboy
This is a book about the potential of us as human beings and how far we truly can push ourselves. Maybe it is because I am an endurance athlete and Ironman participant, but this book really made me think about the limits we place on ourselves and how to lift them. James completed 50 full Ironman races in 50 days in 50 states - in a row. That is not a typo. Each day, James got up, swam 2.4 miles, biked 112, and ran a marathon for 50 days straight. There are so many lessons this book teaches about life and business that, endurance athlete or not, you can take and use. And, it is an awesome story as well.
Non-Business Book: Killing the SS by Bill O'reilly and Martin Dugard
In your personal growth routine, you should always mix in some non-business related material. For me, that is studying history. I absolutely love history and am amazed at how little of it is taught in our schools. Most people have no clue of the history of even their own country, let alone the world. And there is gold there. So much to learn about where we have been and where are going - and how history does truly repeat itself. Killing the SS is the story of hunting down the most vial and despicable Nazi leaders that escaped after WWII. It is shocking who helped them escape and what it took to bring many of them to justice. This book is a riveting story from start to finish that I read in about 2 days. It is chilling and shocking what we don't know about this era in history. And there are a lot of lessons we can take from it.
There are a lot of things needed to make someone successful. Focus, determination, great habits, maximizing opportunities, never giving up, and so on.
But, there is one thing that people miss or don't deliberately focus on that makes a major difference in their ability to succeed. In fact, it is the reason that so many people settle for mediocrity in their lives.
The one thing?
Creating high standards for themselves.
When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself, "What are my standards?" "What are my standards for my life? My business? My relationships?"
Whether you realize it or not, you are living up to some standard. And the thing is, with the way our minds work, whatever that set of standards may be is the limitations your mind has set on itself.
For example, if you're standard for a making a lot of money is $100k; you're probably making that much or less - but not more.
You were meant to live and function at the edge of your ability, not just using a small percentage of it.
If you want to up your game, up your standards. If you want to be more, do more, give more, and live at a higher level - create the standards that hold you accountable to do so.
Do it. Today. Create one new standard to hold yourself to and see what happens. You'll be amazed at what it does for your life and success.
Do you know what the best day of your entrepreneurial career will be? Have you ever given it any thought? What are you really striving for as an entrepreneur? What is an entrepreneur anyway?
I know those questions sound a little suspect, but when it the last time you thought about anything along those lines? Let alone what the best day of your entrepreneur career will be.
First, let's talk about what an entrepreneur really is. An true entrepreneur creates a business and builds systems. They do not "create a job" for themselves. That does not mean they can't be a solo operation, but it does mean they understand leverage and how to use it.
So, what is the best day of an entrepreneur's career?
The best day of an entrepreneur's career is when they have reached the point where they are not needed by the business any longer. Huh? Yes, the best day for an entrepreneur is when the systems they have created and the resources they have put in place can continue to function and scale without them and the business is no longer dependent on them for anything. This should be your goal - to make yourself obsolete in your business.
If you can do this, it not only allows you to grow yourself as an entrepreneur by giving you the ability to start and grow new businesses to have in your portfolio, but also allows you to have the true freedom that drove you to become an entrepreneur in the first place.
Ask yourself - what do I need to do to make myself not needed in my business? What systems and resources to do I need to put in place? What tasks do I do daily that I need to either outsource or delegate? Who do I need to find to help me in taking over running the business? Take a look at all areas of your business and get a good understanding of everything you need to do to replace yourself. Then get going and you'll be on your way to reaching the best day in your entrepreneur career!
If you are someone who sometimes has trouble finding the motivation to get out of bed or hits the snooze button a few times in the morning only to find yourself then getting up late, and missing out on the opportunity time - here's a few hacks for you. This will be a short read, but give you some powerful things you can to do get yourself going in the morning.
1.) Give Yourself a Meaningful Incentive
What motivates you? What would make you want to get out of bed, say, 1 hour earlier each day? How can you reward yourself besides the unbelievable additional productivity you will get by getting up earlier or on time? You answers to these questions will help reveal your "meaningful incentive." You need something to anchor to....something that can really drive you. Maybe you truly want to get healthier and by getting up earlier or on time, you will have the time for the exercise you keep putting off. Or maybe, it will allow you to eat a healthy breakfast instead of a "grab and go." Give yourself a reward on top of it for making things happen, but first find your meaningful incentive and anchor it in your mind.
2.) Force Yourself to Get Up Using Your Technology
OK, this is an easy one. If you have an alarm clock or use your cell phone as your alarm - put it across the room so you have to get up to get it when it goes up. The simple act of actually getting up and getting out of bed is much more powerful than staying in bed and hitting the snooze button. Try it. It works.
3.) Schedule Important Appointments of Meetings Early
Another way to motivate yourself and get yourself going early is to schedule important appointments or meetings early in the day. This is actually a secret of the most successful. They plan their days the day before and tackle their most important tasks or meetings first thing in the morning when they are fresh and at their best. This also means they have to wake early and be prepared. This secret of planning your day the day before, and doing your most important tasks first, is one of the most powerful of high performers. Give it shot - it will change your life.
Putting these simple hacks to work for you will make a huge difference in your productivity and success. Put them to use for you!
Recently, I was invited to attend the Fireside Entrepreneur Conference in Canada and speak at the event. I have to be honest. I did not know what to expect and I wasn't sure if this conference was really going to impress me. But, I was willing to give it a shot. Man, was I surprised.
First, the conference is held at a camp about 4 hours north of Toronto. And it is exactly what you'd expect when you here the word "camp." It is a self-contained camp on a lake where you bunk up with total strangers in cabins with no cell service or even access to electricity. The event is what I would call "Summer Camp for Entrepreneurs."
And over the course of 3 days, I was reminded of why we as entrepreneur's do what we do and of the importance of focusing on yourself and helping others. Here is are 5 Takeaway's I took from the confernce.
1.) The Power of Connecting with People Face to Face
It is amazing what happens when entrepreneurs from all walks of life get together, don’t know each other, and bunk up. You meet people of all backgrounds and walks of life, doing incredible things, and full of life and hope for the future. You also learn to deal with their snoring habits as well :)
I met some wonderful entrepreneurs and just people in general. And, it was nice to spend time with a group of like-minded people face to face - not through social media or a web-meeting or anything. It is something we should all commit to do more often.
2.) Networking and Relationships are Still the Best form of ROI
When you can truly network and make real human connections with people, you can create great, lasting relationships. I was very humbled to be able to connect with and discover business opportunities with a number of entrepreneurs at the event. In fact, I was even able to connect with and spend time with Jeffrey Haslett of CSuite Network fame and we became fast friends. We even decided to do a live podcast together for the group and share some of best thoughts on how to succeed as entrepreneurs and took questions from the audience. It was a great time and we were able to really help some people.
3.) Being Unplugged for a Weekend is Sooo Worth It
As I crashed into the cold lake water from a zipline that started 400 yards back at over 50 ft. up in a tree, I said to myself, "How nice it is to be unplugged where I cannot be reached and get to just relax and take a break. Cold-water notwithstanding, I floated in the lake for a little while looking up at the sky and the beautiful serenity of the place I was in and understood why Fireside has become such a popular event - and why they have made it invite only. Everyone would want to come! But, it is very important to schedule time to truly unplug in your life. Force yourself to do so - it will give your perspective, allow some of your best thinking to arise, and you'll even notice things that you maybe would never have see before.
4.) Opportunity is Everywhere
And I mean, everywhere! I could not believe some of the businesses people had created that were doing 6 and 7 figures and more. I have seen a lot and met a lot of entrepreneurs in unique business niches in doing the Misfit Entrepreneur, but even I was surprised at some of the niches and unique business concepts people had created. One guy had left the C-level in the corporate world and created a total system for creating and telling your story as a person and your business. He has a waiting list of clients. Another created a company that works like AirBnb for finding student housing on campuses and universities. Oh and let's not forget the marijuana millionaires (it was Canada).
My point is that, there is opportunity everywhere around all the time. Everything starts as an idea and then needs execution....but listen to your ideas as they may not be a crazy as you think. We live in the age of long-tail where even the smallest of niches that never would have survived 10-20 years ago can be a thriving enterprise for someone willing to put the time and effort in.
5.) We are So Lucky to Be Entrepreneurs
No matter who you are, you are are entrepreneur. You may not own a business (yet), but you have entrepreneurial qualities. They are innate human qualities. The ability to come up with an idea, vision or a mission, passionately take steps to make it a reality, and overcome the barriers that get in the way are all things we as humans have innately in us. We should do well to embrace them more and celebrate them. We are very lucky to have these qualities - they are what make the journey of life so exciting, frightful, and rewarding. Embrace your inner entrepreneur and make it happen!
There are a lot of things that have to happen to win at something. Whether it is a race, a team sport, business, winning over self and negative self-talk; one thing matters more than all others.
This one thing is the toughest part about winning. In fact, it is so tough, that most never learn it, and those that do, still struggle with it.
What is it? It is the ability to outlast. Now that may sound simple and may sound like everything you've heard before about "never giving up, never quitting, and so on;" but outlasting takes more. You can finish a race when you wanted to quit...then never race again.
Those who truly reach the top of the packet, not only have an attitude that they won't quit, but also that they will outlast until they are the last one standing. They have the will and fortitude to keep going.
I was recently reading a book that reminded me of this. The book is Redefine Impossible by James Lawrence. Now, most people may not know his name, but instead may recognize him by his nickname, "The Iron Cowboy." James is the man who created and completed the 50-50-50 challenge to raise awareness for child obesity. 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 States in 50 days. That is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and full 26.2 marathon every day for 50 days.
In reading the story, I can relate to a lot as an endurance athlete, but where James goes beyond anyone I have ever seen, is in his ability to outlast. There were so many instances where he could have thrown in the towel on this thing. Not because he was tired, but literally because he could not physically walk or his feat were bleeding through his shoes. But no, he chose to find a way to finish, even it meant walking the marathon until 3 AM to only get in the car and drive to next state to get up in 3-4 hours to do it all over again.
If your life, you may not be doing a 50-50-50, but you are probably trying to succeed at something and may not be getting the results you want or any results at all. And after a while, that little voice starts saying that "this isn't worth it" "You given this X amount of time and seen no results, cut your losses, etc." If you truly believe in what you are doing and believe that it can make a difference, choose to outlast. Even if it takes years, I promise you, it will be worth it.
This can work for anything. Stick with a prospect in sales long enough to outlast the competition and you will get it. Stick with a podcast long enough and it will grow an audience - even it doesn't have hardly anyone listening for the first 6-12 months (I speak from personal experience). Don't succumb the pressure of a larger competitor trying to threaten your business and intimidate you when you know what you are doing is perfectly right. Outlast them. (I speak from experience here as well!)
Put the secret of an attitude of outlasting to work for you and like James, you will be amazed at what happens in your life.
This won't be a long post, but the message may be one of the most important you ever hear.
What makes a great leader? What do some leaders stand out from the pack? Why do people follow someone?
The answer is simple, yet so powerful. Great leaders understand that they must lead themselves before they can lead others. What does this mean? It means that you must develop the discipline to be best you can be before you can ask others to do the same.
This means leading in all areas of your life. Personal, health, wealth, business, spiritual, and so on. You must develop the consistent discipline to be the best you can possibly be in each area, then you must take it a step further. You must show the ability to execute.
You cannot ask others to do something that you have not taken the time to learn, understand, or do. It will show immediately and people will not follow you.
You must be able to show people what you are asking them to do and then help empower them to execute. In other words, you must be willing to get in the trenches.
Are you leading yourself and have created the discipline you know is needed to succeed and lead in all areas of your life? If not, pick one and be obsessed with being the best you can be. Master it. Then move on to the next, and so on.
This one thing matters most when it comes to becoming a great leader!
I read a great quote the other day that said "No one can copy your relationship with your customer. They can have all the competitive intelligence that is available, but no one can copy that relationship." I would further expand this to cover your partnerships and other business relationships.
I was reminded of this first hand at a recent event we hosted for our clients, partners, and friends of Grasp. Every year, there is a very large global conference that we participate in. But instead of doing what everyone else does, in just getting a booth at the trade show, we actually invest heavily into creating the most unique experience and enjoyable time that we can give to everyone. We have become known for it over the years to where people reach out to be "the first" on the list to attend each year.
At this particular event, we rented out a 1920's hidden speakeasy that only seats 40 people at a time for the evening. We had done this once before at the same venue years ago and it was a big hit. But, this time it felt different - in a good way. I was truly amazed at all of the prominent people in the industry that sought us out and made us a priority. One major executive, a long time friend, actually left the party his company was hosting with him being one of the main hosts, and made it a point to stop by because "Grasp always throws the best events and has the most iconic atmospheres." I was flattered that he chose to take the time out for us.
You cannot buy these types of relationships - they have to be built over time by being consistently genuine to who you are and how you foster those relationships.
As I thought about it further and watched the crowd that gathered with so much joy, it really dawned on me how important and powerful great relationships are...and the ROI that they mean to you as a person and your business.
It doesn't take money to create a great relationship. It takes courage. What do I mean? Well, it means that you have to have the courage to be your true self at all times. It means that you have to have the courage to truly care for people beyond business and invest in them. It takes courage to see the long game and play it as most great relationships are built over years, not days. And lastly, you have to have the courage to be honest in the relationship - even if the truth sometimes hurts. This is tough for people to do, and be, in business, as they feel they have to come off a certain way or put on a certain persona to succeed.
The truth is that you cannot build a great relationship with everyone because by nature some people are just not going to get along - no matter what they do or how much they try to fake things or kiss someone's ass. You are much better off being honest and true to who you are and investing in the relationships that you do have and continue growing them.
We had about 150 or so attend our event and as I looked around the room, those 150 people were the ones most responsible for our success at Grasp over 20+ years. Think about that, 150 people in 20 years, have made the biggest impact on the success of a multi-million dollar company. It truly is amazing what the power of a relationship can accomplish and the ROI it can bring over the years. Ask yourself, how can you better invest in your relationships because at the end of the day, they are most important asset you have.
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