Does that include me? With guest Esi Hardy

Are you and your business fully inclusive?

I was introduced to my next guest at a time when I had several clients attending some of my live online events who were struggling with accessibility due to their disabilities. Thankfully, we’ve been able to accommodate their needs but this is something we could have been better prepared for so that people with accessibility issues can feel not just included but valued right from the start of their engagement.

Whilst things are improving in the area of inclusivity, there is still a long way to go and many good reasons to get on top of accessibility and inclusivity right away, as so many people don’t wish to make a fuss and end up feeling left out altogether or separate from other groups. My guest on this episode is Esi Hardy who is a speaker, trainer, writer and disability/inclusion expert who founded her company Celebrating Disability to help businesses improve their accessibility, both for employees and for guests.

I learned so much from chatting to Esi of the ways we can be more inclusive and helpful without it becoming patronising or intrusive. I honestly believe that we all miss out when there are people who feel they can not join in as well as everyone else. Whilst it may not be possible to do everything imaginable to include everyone in every way, there is so much that is easy to do and makes a world of difference to people who may otherwise feel like they are stuck on the periphery.

Esi has her own podcast called ‘Part of me’ which is all about disability inclusivity in all walks of life. You can find out more about disability inclusivity from Esi’s website CelebratingDisability.co.uk and Esi will be delighted to hear from you if you would like her to her you and your business become more disability-inclusive. Esi Recommended a book called Ripples from the Edge of Life by Roland Chesters

Next week I’m going to be trying out my first live podcast episode on LinkedIn. If you’d like to join me and my guest Jeremy Nicholas talking about public speaking and humour in presentations, we’ll be live at 10 am UK and 11 am CET on Friday 4th Dec 2020. Find me on LinkedIn and you’ll even be able to ask questions live as we broadcast, which is a first for my show… hopefully. If it goes well, I will do more. The show will go out on the same day, so if you miss it, you can still pick it up in the usual ways.

See you next time.

Transcript

John Ball
Welcome to the speaking of influence podcast with virtual business speaker presentation skills and influence coach John Ball. Remember to like and subscribe. The speaking of influence podcast is uploaded and distributed using Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout makes it really easy to get your podcast started and out to a wide audience with lots of tips and useful tools to help you on your way. If you’re interested, check the link in the show notes and start your podcast today.

Welcome to the show. I’m really happy to be joined today by my special guest who is a speaker, writer. She is a trainer as well. She is also a host of her own podcast, which is called part of me. Is that right? That’s right. Yeah, her name is Esi Hardy. She has a company called Celebrating Disability. And today we are going to be talking about what she does in her work and how she uses the tools of presentation and influence and persuasion and in what she does. So welcome to the show Esi Hardy great to have you.

Esi Hardy
Thank you very much, John, it’s great to be here. Thank you for inviting me,

John Ball
I’m really pleased to be speaking with you. And when we had our initial conversation to discuss been being a guest on the call. And I was really interested by what you do and why you did what has been your motivation. So tell us a little bit about what your company is and what led you up to doing that?

Esi Hardy
So celebrating disability is a business that supports businesses and not for profit organisations to be inclusive of disabled people. And that could be several candidates when they’re applying for roles. It could be disabled employees when they work within organisations, or it could also be sampled customers, guests and clients when they’re interacting with the business. So I support them through awareness all the way through to inclusion for confidence, and then to have the tools to competently implement strategies that will be inclusive of disabled people in that workplace culture.

John Ball
And has that been something that has been a challenge that many places not being all that inclusive?

Esi Hardy
Yeah, I think, yeah, it’s getting better. So we’re in 2020, we’re kind of edging towards the end of 2020. I don’t like to admit it, because it’s like we haven’t had a year at all. And it’s getting better. A lot of especially the more high profile, companies and corporations are beginning to really grasp what inclusion means and inclusion and equality of disabled people means and but we still have quite a far way to go with people kind of understanding the distinction between first of all diversity and inclusion, and then inclusion and accessibility.

John Ball
Yeah, these are really important areas. I mean, as a statistic, roughly what would be the percentage of people in the workforce or the potential workforce that with disabilities,

Esi Hardy
A good 50% of the workforce has a disability. So if you think one in five, one in five people have a disability, and a lot of disability. So about around 80% of disabilities acquired during the lifespan of a person and a lot of is acquired during the lifespan of a career. So people are coming into the workplace, perhaps without the disability, so they’re non-disabled when they enter the workplace. And then they might acquire a disability so they might gain a disability gain sounds a bit wiggly word for disability, but they might become disabled while they’re at work. And also, if we think about the majority of disability is hidden. And so I have a physical disability, I’m physically disabled myself, and I’m a wheelchair user. So when I’m out and about, it’s very obvious that I’m a wheelchair user because I am in a wheelchair, and I am not a very good driver. So chances are I would oppression to your door or the person standing next to you, but a lot of disability is hidden. So people and organisations sometimes misinterpret that they’re low numbers of disabled people that they’re engaging with just because they can’t see that disability. And a lot of disabled people don’t like talking about their disability because they’re worried about repercussions, as in discrimination in the recruitment stage, they’re worried about they won’t get the support they need when they’re in their business. They’re worried about not being promoted, and not being supported in the right way if they disclose a disability, so essentially, it’s detrimental to them. And a lot of people don’t recognise their disability as such, and don’t want to recognise the disability as such. There’s still a lot of stigma around disability and a lot of bias that comes from disabled people themselves. Because we all live in society. And we pick up on what everybody else says. So because of all those reasons, a lot of disabled people are not opening up to employers, or asking for the support they need, because they don’t want to. So a lot of the data that would otherwise be gathered, is not being gathered, because people don’t know how to ask them the right way. And people don’t know how to disclose in a way that they feel confident to.

John Ball
So So you are part of the solution, championing the cause to get equality to get a fair representation and parity in the workplace? What have been some of the challenges that you’ve personally experienced in this area?

Esi Hardy
Oh, where do we start? So I would say it started right back in education. So I mean, I, you know, I am nearing 40. I know. But I’m nearing 40. So I grew up in the 80s. And I went to primary school in the 80s, in the early 90s. And there wasn’t these inclusive education strategies then. and integrating disabled people with it was called in those days quotes normal children was a relatively new thing. And by normal, it’s not the word I would use non-disabled children is a relatively new thing. Therefore, and a lot of my education was secondary, because I couldn’t access the rooms, or I couldn’t access what they wanted me to do. The projects that one that we wanted to happen, and there was no education for the children as to how to, you know, interact with me. Luckily, primary school children a lot more open than older children and adults, so they just get on with it. And my mom told me that when I grew up, well, I was born in Germany and grew up in Scotland. And we moved in Scotland when my stepdad got a new job. And apparently, the school had told the children in the class on the Friday that on the Monday, there was going to be a very special child coming a very special little girl. And we would have to be very nice to her. And apparently, at the end of Monday, one of the children said to the teacher, I don’t know what’s special about her, she’s just like us. So children are a lot more accepting and a lot, they just get on with it, then adults, but as I got older, those differences, widen those barriers widens. And those opportunities got bigger and bigger. And I went to a school for physically disabled children. And the onus wasn’t on education, it was on making as in quotes better so that we could go and live in quotes an independent normal life. And so a lot of physio, a lot of quotes, independence training, and then when out so by the time I got to college, and although I had GCSEs, they weren’t at the standard that they needed to be for me to do the courses I needed to do. So in the education, I was already on the back foot by the time I went to university, and then in the workplace, workplaces again, at the time, were very much used to looking at what you’ve done and what your experiences, I was an actress. And so my experience was limited, not because I wasn’t good at what I did. And not because I didn’t get the opportunities in college, but because they couldn’t see my potential, you know, I was just the disabled girl, what could I possibly do. So I got turned down for lots of auditions, obviously, I got some drops. But a lot more of the auditions I was turned down for because of how I physically presented and the biases that those casting directors held about me. And then in the world, in the workplace as an in the office environment. And because I perhaps didn’t have the qualifications or the other candidates had. But also because of just that bias around disability in the first place. I found it very hard to secure a role. And so I become a became self-employed. And at 25 purely because it was harder to find an employment role. And I got my first employment role. I think when I was 33. I only stayed for two and a half years because by that time I liked being my own boss, and then left again and set up my own business. But the story that I’ve just told, is not unusual for a disabled person’s experience because of the prejudices and the lack of understanding about the support that a disabled person might need.

John Ball
I can well appreciate it and from everything you say, and I can see as someone who is not disabled. I can certainly see that those things have been there and maybe haven’t been in general awareness for most for many people because of not having disabilities themselves and not necessarily having somebody In the family with a disability, and, and but I have in my own family experience and a family member who has learning difficulties. And they were diagnosed quite young. And again, an invisible disability. But what I saw in the education system there even more recently is that she’s still quite young. And is that the options that she was presented for her life were very limited. They were based on still very fixed ideas about what you do when you finish school. And really none of it was actually looking at where she might have talent or ability naturally, yeah, it was all very focused on Well, this is probably the best you can hope for. And she was already about that, though. Okay, that’s not good. And as much because that got so instilled and I think, even to some degree, and this family member, her parents were kind of believed it as well, if I can see the limitations that and not just society was placing on her, but she ends up placing on herself as well realise that, yeah, like accepting this is the best I could go for. You didn’t accept that. And you’re encouraging other people not to excel and saying it can be more, you can be more you can have more. And I’m definitely glad to hear that experiences are changing. But even just seeing, not that I watch much and UK tv But from what I do see, once the may see some more inclusivity is still not that much for people with disabilities that I’m aware of.

Esi Hardy
I think you’re absolutely right. And I think you’re absolutely right with a lot of what you just said. And I think that that empowerment piece that you were talking about before with the person in your family that has a learning disability is so important to disable children and set the families of disabled children are told all the time that you know, they can’t, you’re This is the best you can hope for they’re probably going to die. So it’s a miracle that they’re still alive and all of those things. So when a disabled baby is handed to a parent, and the first thing the doctor often says is Oh, I’m sorry, your baby’s disabled, not Congratulations, you have a new baby and say from the moment, dots parents are the message to parents has been reinforced that there’s something wrong that it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be a struggle, that it’s all negative. And it’s really hard, especially when it’s a negative based practice to turn as in what can you do to turn that into your what can you do? What do you enjoy doing? What can we, you know, what do you want to achieve? How can we support you to achieve what you want to? Yes, you can rather than no, you can’t. And it’s easy for that stable person to slip into? Well, I can’t. I mean, I have lots of friends and colleagues that are still in that attitude. And I had that attitude for a very long time. And I had a mom that was very positive. Just because you’re disabled as he doesn’t mean that you can’t do it. Yes, she did send me to a special school, but she was sending me to that special school because she was told that that was the best place for me. She wasn’t told about what wouldn’t happen to my education. She was told she was essentially told that I could probably skip hop, skip and jump after five years. And because they want, you know, they think the best outcome is to be in quotes normal, but you know, what’s known? Yeah, exactly when that disabled person becomes confident with their disability, that that empowerment rarely happens. But there’s a lot that people can do in the meantime, to empower people. And, and because I went back of what you said, I forgot what your leading question was.

John Ball
I don’t even remember. But I love what you’re saying then, interestingly enough, I mean, I think those are, that’s a subject that’s really relevant to everyone, whether they realise it or not that Yeah, General systems that we grow up in, often limit us in ways that we just tend to accept because we’re told to, and that’s what we’ve been told. That’s what people say is the best for you along. And maybe just we see it more clearly in these sorts of specific situations. But I think it’s generally true. Because I think most of us grew up with these limitations and we end up placing them on ourselves and believing them to be true. They don’t when they don’t have to be. What I do want to come to with you though is that you did take things further and you dreamed of more, you decided that’s not enough for me, I want something more. And so not just from the acting stuff that you did, but you decided to go into talking about this and presenting and speaking what was your path to actually getting onto a platform and speaking?

Esi Hardy
You know what? I think you said we weren’t going to discuss acting but I think it was acting so, acting gave me confidence when I was young. So I started in drama class at school when I was 14. And I suddenly thought, oh, wow, everyone’s looking at me. This is amazing. You know, I’ve got everyone’s attention, they’re standing up, and they’re clapping, and they’re laughing. When I say something funny, this is incredible. And that, and for a lot of actors, a lot of actors are very shy people, but they come into their own when they’re on stage, because when you’re on stage, you can be someone else. So I think that was the beginning for me, and I enjoyed the fact that I had everybody’s attention. And then I can give them a message, whether it be a fictional message, or then a bit more kind of a motivational message or whatever the message was. And then so and I think every kind of role that I’ve had since acting has kind of been an A talking platform, and empowerment platform in one way or another. So I used to go into schools, and run disability awareness talks and disability awareness, training sessions for primary school children on disability awareness. And then I worked for my legal authority, where I trained social workers, and sports enable people. And then the organisation I worked for before setup, celebrating disability used to send me out and do the talking opportunities, because again, I loved being in front of people, and I would give my opinion anyway, so I think, god, she’s gonna say something anyway, let’s just let the talk in the first place. And that, you know, I just think it’s a really powerful way of delivering a message to a group of people, if you can make when you talk, if you can make it tangible, and relatable to your audience. So this is saying isn’t that, you know, as a speaker, you have to know your audience. And it’s so true, you have to tailor your talk, and pitch your talk to the audience that you’re going to be delivering it to. I’ve heard so many speakers quite recently, actually. And in networking events, and all sorts that just start without understanding their audience. So not asking the question, hands up, how many people have a marketing strategy, for example, or hands up? How many people have a product, it compared to how many people deliver service, and by gaining and maybe asking a few more general questions. And by gaining that knowledge, you can then pitch your talk to the position, the audience they’re at. And I think that’s so important to kind of foster engagement, but also to show the audience that you, you care about how they’re receiving. So you care about their experience?

John Ball
Yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that come up over time, and again, in many of the conversations I have with speakers, and that’s about reasoning with a lot of professional comedians as well, who I’ve been speaking to, and is about the connection part of that connection with the audience. So with your topics, what would be the ways that you’d like to start that connection with your audience?

Esi Hardy
That’s a good question, as so I’m just trying to think so I mean, generally, I know the audience, I know that the type of audience before I go in. And but I will start I mean, a lot of people have the story, their story that they tell I don’t have a story, specifically, and but I will start by telling them who I am and why, in a way that I feel justified to be here talking to them. So I might usually, you know, if it’s face to face, they’ll see that I’m sitting in a wheelchair. So my justification for talking about service inclusion is that I’m a wheelchair user, but obviously lived experiences only one part of it. So I also tell them about my professional background, and what I’ve been doing, or if it’s appropriate, what other businesses and companies I’ve worked for, so that they can relate. When I’m about to tell them with, Oh, she must know what she’s talking about, because she’s talked to x, y, and Zed, but also in our sector. And then when I’m discussing a subject, I will try and relate it back to something in their life. And so for example, if I’m talking about and how to make a venue, inclusive and accessible for disabled people, I’ll ask them to think about what it feels like when they go into a building. And people don’t walk up and greet them, or they go into a building and they didn’t really know where to go. Or, or as I said, or they go into building and they need to learn they can’t find the facilities, or the facilities are locked, and it helps them to kind of thing Oh, yeah, no, that’s nothing because I think some people think, Well, I’m not disabled, I can’t possibly relate to one dislike for a disabled person. But actually, you can experience being excluded, therefore for my talk, because that’s relatable to you. So if I’m talking about business strategies, For example, I might then relate that strategy back to my own barriers of the strategies and the processes not working for me, and why it’s so important to change it, and then what the benefits are.

John Ball
Yeah, and which, which is born and we make it relatable, you make a unit part of the universal experience, things we can all connect with. And that’s important. So that’s engaging. That’s the connection part. That makes a lot of sense.

Esi Hardy
But I also think it’s important. I mean, I use humour a lot in my talks. And I also, I mean, not practically my trumpet, but humour is not easy comedy is one of the hardest skills in acting. And but I’m quite lucky that I’ve got quite comic timing. And I’m quite good at the one-liners, and humour helps to engage with people. So people, they’re a bit standoffish. I think, all this has nothing to do with me. And I can make them laugh, and then they can still think this has nothing to do with me. But that was funny. And then later on, they’ll be thinking, that was funny. Oh, I get it now. So by putting in that, that bit of humour, every now and then it sticks with people, and then slowly they can process the information and it becomes relatable to them.

John Ball
Yeah, no, I agree. 100%, I talk a lot about the tools of influence and persuasion. And my podcast is called speaking of influence. And one of the best tools of influence and persuasion is humour. And, you know, with, with having a lot of conversations with professional comedians recently, and stuff that has been coming out of those conversations has been around how humour, helps us deal with things that might otherwise be a bit difficult to deal with, how relaxes people creates greater connection puts us more in alignment, we feel like we’re all part of something when we’re laughing and joining together. So yeah, really important areas and no harm in blowing your own trumpet about that. And being prepared and making people laughing. That’s a great thing. It’s, it’s not always easy to do, which is why a lot of people don’t even try for humour. But it’s actually not that hard to be at least a little humorous, just to be light and playful in your presentations. And it certainly helps if we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Right?

Esi Hardy
Absolutely. Yeah, I agree. And I think also, it’s so important to recognise and talk about the fact that it’s not going perfectly, so we’re only human, nothing ever goes perfectly. If your presentation isn’t on the right page, or whatever, you don’t talk about it, don’t ignore it, because everybody can see it. And so why not kind of Foucault, you know, you make sure that that you understand that this is happening. So I use PowerPoint, essentially, to remind myself what I’m going to say next. And so I have slides with minimal information on it, but they’re really a jumping-off point for me to start talking. So if I gave you my slides, you would be like, I don’t know what you’re talking about Esi. But with me talking, there will just be a reminder. And I have to look at my slides, because I have a terrible memory. And I always say I promise I wrote this myself. And because you know, other people, it would look like oh, I’m just reading somebody else’s work, because I can’t remember what’s coming up. So yeah, acknowledging that things aren’t perfect is really important.

John Ball
That’s really good. Because I’m interesting enough, you may have come across this before. But there’s something called the presenting world, a visual stack. And it’s a memory technique for learning your presentation, where you create images that represent different parts of your presentation. And you can then go and link them up, make some wild crazy story that links these parts of your visual stack. And, and even make it as images that represent that. And in the slide, using a slideshow to do that makes a lot of sense. Because it’s the cues that you need, that that fit with what you’re talking about and makes sense as a visual representation. But as you say, don’t give everything away, but they keep you on track for what you’re talking about. And those cues. So rather than just having those pictures in your head, make them part of your slideshow. Very clever. I like it.

Esi Hardy
Yeah. And I think it’s better. I mean, obviously horses for courses, but I personally think it’s better than having prompt cards, because you have to look down at your prompt cards, which is taking your way from the engagement of your audience, because obviously one of the most important things is eye contact. So it’s taking you away from having the eye contact. So it’s when you’re looking on this slide for these prompts. And it’s almost like you’re all in it together.

John Ball
Have you found that since COVID, and quarantines and things that pretty much has been online presentations and what kind of differences has it made for you?

Esi Hardy
So yes, it’s all been online. So the first one I did that rather than a training session, a talk that I did online, was I think it’s quite early on, I think it was April. And I am used to delivering half a day to whole day courses for about 16 to 20 delegates on my own in a room. And I was so much more exhausted after one hour of delivering an online presentation than I would have been delivering a day’s training session, because there was no engagement and there was no interaction. So I was staring at the screen with my PowerPoint presentation, where I couldn’t hear anyone, everyone was muted, and I couldn’t see anyone. And that’s really hard, because I get my energy for delivering from my audience. So I see my audience, and I see how they’re reacting to my material. And then I adapt accordingly. Either I tone it down, or I ham it up, or I do whatever I need to do to deliver that message and to engage, and to make sure it’s tangible. So if I can see that people didn’t quite get it, I couldn’t give them another example, if I could see they have got it, and I can move on. I can also ask them questions. And in this particular presentation, I couldn’t do any of that. And it was absolutely exhausting. And you would see a non-speaker would think, oh, that’s really easy, because you just talk and you don’t, you’re not gonna be stopped by questions that you have to think about. But it’s really, really hard for somebody that’s used to engaging and interacting with an audience. So yeah, it’s, it’s been challenging, but you know, like everybody we’ve been learning. And so one of the things I find really helpful, and I think this is a good point of practice, anyway, is to, to kind of tell your audience what’s going to happen and how it’s going to happen. So I send when I’m running training sessions, I send a pre-training, how to guide out to them. So if they, I mean, most of us are quite good at zoom these days. But there are some people that are still not working on computers, short power. And so you know, it’s really helpful to send that how to go, this is how you join the meeting, this is what’s going to happen when you’re bad, this is how we’re going to engage. This is how you can engage with me, giving them as many options that are possible for them to engage in the way that they feel confident. And then also at the beginning, I have housekeeping. And the housekeeping is, okay, so please meet yourself when you’re not talking. And please be aware that I also have access requirements. So I’m not going to get to the chat box as quickly as somebody without limited dexterity would. And then all of those things to relay worries and anxiety of my audience members.

John Ball
Right, so as someone like yourself who’s like a natural performer, then I appreciate that you really like having that feedback and the energy for someone like me, maybe not quite such a natural performer, but who has been working mostly online for at least the last 10 years. And that wasn’t a transition I needed to make I was already doing it. But I do remember. And that when I first started doing webinars and large group coaching sessions on the legs, that there was a, there was a lot to learn in terms of differences, like big differences to live presentations. And certainly there, when I first started doing webinars, the functionality that we have now was not there. audience interaction really was super limited. And there was only a few things that people could really do. And like some of the events, none at all. And that those systems are still I guess they’re still around to some degree. But when you feel like almost like you’re talking to finance, I just had to remind myself how many people are on the call, because you could always see how many people were there. And like these, I have to assume these people are listening. I think one of the services I mean was GoToWebinar used to tell you when people weren’t being attentive, and they’re no longer allowed to do that. Because of privacy. breaches, which is kind of the summary that was really useful, because people clearly come on to these sorts of and then made me probably people listening to us, I was there listening or watching, they’re checking their phones and whatever else if you’re not familiar, fair enough. But when you’re on a webinar, that you really want people to be paying attention. So you don’t really want people shifting off to Facebook or emails or whatever else it is you want people to be attentive on the webinar. And so it was nice to have that as a tool to be able to bring people back and say, you know, let’s get everybody attentive on listed as attentive. Now that’s not there. But again, that was the only way to measure it there. Now. There’s a lot more things I’ve had to learn in terms of interaction, zoom offers a lot more interactive interactivity. And but how good is, generally, this online world for accessibility for people with disabilities?

Esi Hardy
So, it’s getting better. And I’ve had throughout the months of lockdown, and then into kind of social distancing, and still remote working. But for many disabled people, not all, but for many disabled people, they felt as though they can be more engaged, and been more included and involved in the conversation. And I mean, if you take a disability out of it for a second, and I attended a meeting in Liverpool the other day, I wouldn’t have done that, if it was live, if it was face to face, because it’s too far away to go for a two-hour meeting. But online, it took me two seconds to type in a URL code and go straight there. And I think if you relate that to disabled people, so when as a, as a physically disabled person, when I go to an event live, I have to think about the access, how am I going to get there? What’s gonna happen when I get there? Is the loo going to be accessible for me? How am I going to get from the front door to the venue? What happens at the buffet lunch? Who is going to put some food on my plate? Because I’m always thinking about lunch?

How am I going to get out? Is there going to be taxis? What time is my trade? Are they going to be trading platform stuff to help me on the train? Or do I need to organise my support when I get back is the support going to be there when I need it? All of these it What am I going to wear, I can’t wear a coat. So what make it aware that it’s going to be warm enough, but it still makes me look presentable. And I’m not going to be too warm in the building. All of these things don’t matter when it’s online, because I could essentially be in my pyjamas and wear a nice looking top and rock up and still be my engaging and expert self or annoying talking to myself whichever way you look at it. And but you know, in fit lots of disabled people that is the case. So all the barriers that presented as prevented them getting to the online to the meeting beforehand to take it away. And I think a lot of the platforms are thinking about accessibility. So for example, and zoom, have a closed caption option that somebody can type in the closed captions, whilst people are talking. So if there is a deaf or hard of hearing person in the audience, they can still access the meeting. And that was something that I tapped into, in the summer when I was doing a bunch of webinars. And a participant contacted me and she said, because I invited people to tell me if they had access requirements, they needed to be me, tip for me to be aware of. And this one participant contacted me and said, can I provide closed captions. And then I was able to source a company that was able to type for me, and use the closed caption service on zoom to do the typing. And I happen to know that in beta, they do have an option where automated closed captions can come up. And so as we’re talking, the closed captions would come up on the bottom of the screen. Right. And but there’s loads of things that hosts and platforms can tap into to make it more accessible. But there’s also a lot of things that people can do hosts can do without having to buy into a service or to download anything that they can just do as part of their presenting staff. So like before, when I was talking about how to engage in a meeting that helps people who perhaps have mental health issues that are struggling with confidence, or struggled with anxiety to know ahead of time, what’s going to happen. And I’ll say what the break is this, this is when the break is and I’ll put in more breaks is somebody perhaps who has ADHD or something who got it down for or can’t concentrate for too long. And they know when the regular breaks are coming up. And I also give people lots of options to engage. So I’ve seen because I’ve attended lots of meetings myself on the confirmation email that says, Please engage this way. And I think well, I can’t so I’m just going to do it my way anyway, but that’s because I’m confidence. And but lots of people will think well, I can’t so I won’t go. And so what I do is I say these are all the options you have to engage. Please bear in mind my access requirements. So if your option is to type in the chat box, I will get to you but it will take me a bit longer. If you feel confident to please raise your hand or just start talking because also there are people that can’t press the buttons or can’t physically raise their hands Because of their disability, so I’ll say if possible, could you meet yourself or raise your hand. But if it’s not possible, please just talk. And so, so making it as inclusive for everybody as possible. And what I find and not making it mandatory that people turn their videos on, I think that’s so important. Oh, you must turn your video on Well, why? I mean, it helps the house, but it’s not about us as hosts, it’s about our audience, it’s about making our audience feel comfortable. And what I find is when I say I’d love you to turn your camera on, but I completely understand if you’d rather not, throughout the event people, because I’ve set that out, and I’ve said, you can do what you would like, I’m not going to dictate to you how to engage, people begin to feel more confident. And they do turn their cameras on eventually.

John Ball
This means meeting people where they’re at for sure. Now, one of the things that I run regular group coaching calls, and zoom has this wonderful breakout rooms feature. And so we like to put people in and I do say to people on the calls you, if you have a camera and you want to put it on, you’re very welcome to but you don’t need to, in the breakout rooms, it might be nice, because you’re going to be with a small group of people. So if you can, you might feel more comfortable to do it there and get to know people who are on the programme with you. And but that’s been a really nice function. But because people can communicate and feel more comfortable communicating in those smaller groups. And when they come back into the main room area, as it were, they communicate more in the main room as well. So for me as a, as a host, it’s been a real benefit, to have that, and also noticing that people are feeling more included more part of it, who might not otherwise have shared or interacted very much on those kinds of calls and programmes. So I really like that, do you other than for yourself? Because you know what to do? Do you come across some examples of businesses now? Or maybe businesses who you work with? Who are doing it? Well? And are helping get the inclusivity? Right.

Esi Hardy
And, yes, so off the top of my head, I don’t know the names. But yes, there are I mean, I’ve been to quite a few diversity inclusion conferences and sessions throughout lockdown, where they have put those things in place. So the closed captions are part of the service already there. It’s always very helpful when the organisation is bigger than a couple of people to have the host. And then somebody in the background doing all the technical things. It’s sorting out the breakout rooms, making sure that the questions are being allocated and things like that. And that helps as well. And, again, I know what I’m not just talking about myself, but one of the things that I struggle with, is when the questions need to be put in the chat box, I can’t type very fast. So five minutes to the end, then when having questions are busy typing out, my questions were finished. And so what I have noticed is a lot more companies are saying, type your questions throughout. And then we’ll make sure that we ask them so that people have time. And then also put your hand up if you’d like to answer the question. But I went to one the other day, I think it was by sky, which is Sushil care Institute for excellence. So you would hope that they would know what they’re doing with engagement and accessibility. And they actually said, anonymously, please let us know if you prefer to put things in the chat box. Or if you prefer to speak through to your access requirements, because then we can tailor how we interact with you to what you need. So actually, they’re not just saying blanket, do what you like, but saying actually, individually, please tell us what we can do to make this easier for you. Which really helped and it helps with engagement as well, because it helps the audience to understand. But who cares about that experience. And it’s just a little thing that also makes life easier for the host. But you’re going to go back there, I’m talking about it now because it was such a good experience. Right? It’s something some people’s minds, it’s a good presenter, thought about their audience needs and how they’re going to experience the session.

John Ball
For you then when you turn up to an event online or in person where people are really thought about these things. How does that feel?

Esi Hardy
It feels great. I think, for me inclusion, the difference between accessibility inclusion and accessibility is helping somebody to access inclusion is making sure that once they have access, that they feel part of the community. And so for me, inclusion, apart from what I just said, inclusion is feeling as though I can do things the way I want to do when I want to do it and how I want to do it. And so that for me is really important. Say that kind of how would you like us to interact with you this is what’s going to happen, which would be easier for you means that I can still have a conversation with four other Joe and Jean Bloggs in the room, but in the way that works for me, so I’m not on the backfoot, I don’t feel that, okay, I’ll join you in a second, when I’ve been able to press these five buttons, I need to press and I can do it now. And there doesn’t have to be an obvious difference.

John Ball
It’s, it’s a big thing that I think, I’m glad to know it’s getting better. And I’m glad though, that the when inclusivity is happening when people are actually being candid about that, that we all we’re all going to benefit from it, because there are potentially a lot of insights and contributions that are otherwise getting missed out on because we’re not having equal access for everybody, we just kind of sitting there sometimes setting things is just one thing. And this is the one way you can interact. And, and so we don’t know, in those situations, what we may be missing out on but some people are very aware, and what we’re missing out on and it’s maybe struggling, they’re feeling that they’re not just not being heard or pay attention to. And one of their know, for me personally, but one of the biggest things generally in life that people kind of hate or maybe even feel worried about is feeling ignored, feeling left out of things. And, you know, I know for myself, I’ve never liked that experience. And you know, we know, not even necessarily exclusion, but just being ignored not having any attention paid to that when we do that we actually are empowering people by including them by acknowledging people and their needs and, and bringing more in that we’re setting up a better system of equity for people and, and more opportunity as well, because that’s really what it comes down to. You’re a great example of like not being held back by limitations that you could easily have just accepted in the past and saying, I can’t do that. You know, you’ve gone well beyond that. You’ve even started your own podcast. So tell us about that.

Esi Hardy
So ‘Part of me’ podcast is the peer to peer podcast where I interview other disabled people on their experiences of the workplace. And the workplace for them could be anything. And so I have had a an Olympian or Paralympian tennis player. I’ve had an Olympian journalist, and I have had tried to think of some more. I’ve had the business owner, and I’ve had a rugby like a para Paralympian rugby player. So also across the spectrum of workplaces, I’ve had it I’ve had people that work in offices, and data entry jobs all the way to strategic positions. So a range of, of people that work in the workplace. So they talk about their own experiences. They taught they give advice to managers who might be managing disabled people in the workplace. And they give advice to other disabled people as to how to feel confident and empowered in the workplace to do what they want to do and how they want to do it. And they talk a little bit about customer service and customer experience. So how they experience barriers or opportunities as disabled customers and the advice that they gave to business owners in that setting.

John Ball
Yeah, well, great. And so how long is your podcast been running for?

Esi Hardy
So it started I think, in November 2008. And the first season ended September 2019. So it’s on a break. And because the next season I’m going to be interviewing people within business, within the strategic DNI diversity and inclusion positions, about why DNI diversity inclusion for disabled people is important. And what they’re doing to make strategic change and to be more inclusive of disabled people. And so far I’ve interviewed the diversity inclusion lead for sorry police and also somebody else that works for an organisation called Global giving. And that’s a charity that supports disabled people across the world, mainly in African countries.

John Ball
Great. My general experience as a podcaster is that other podcast is not really something people go into because they think it’s gonna make them successful or that we did because we love it and because we care about all we talk about, what what are your favourite things about doing the podcast yourself?

Esi Hardy
Talking and hearing other people’s experiences as well. It’s really good. I think it’s great that I mean, as I said, interview as your audience listeners, and viewers with the head on this podcast, I do like talking about myself. And I do use my own experience, but also it’s so important to hear experiences of others. And because I mean, I always am anyone disabled person. And people say to me, oh, we want you to come in and tell you tell us about your experience. And I think, well, that’s not helpful, because I can tell you all about what you can implement to make it find me, but then the next person will come along, and you’ll have to start all over again. So why don’t I give you a general overview of the barriers that disabled people face. So I think it’s so helpful to hear from different points of view, because it reinforces that everybody is different, and every buddy is unique, and there’s no access, there’s no support plan that’s gonna support everybody. And, and also, you know, I like, I like, I like promoting it, I like people engaging, and then contacting me, I get quite a few emails to say, I really enjoyed this podcast, can I find out a bit more about this, and then I find post on to that person, if appropriate. And, and also, you know, for me, yet, it’s not a big moneymaker. But it has drawn in some business for me as well. So people that listen to the podcast, that then might get in touch and say, Oh, I really like this, we can be able to help us with this that you talked about in this episode. And it’s also really good for making connections. So you and I linked up, because we both sell that we were podcast hosts, and I’ve made loads of connections and contacts, that have either become associates of friends or just friends in general, through being in the podcasting world.

John Ball
Yeah, and I know, for me, personally, my network has expanded massively since doing the podcast. And some of that is just by actively reaching out to other podcasters or people who want to be podcast guests. And being active in certain communities. There are many groups and places where you can connect with people who are interested in podcasting as podcasters, or as hoping to be guests. And so yeah, it’s been very powerful. And I personally find it to be a very friendly given clients that people do it. Generally the podcasting because they love it. You know, some people do get money and do really well with their podcast financially. But I think the vast majority of people aren’t in it for that. And I think I’ve heard Tim Ferriss and maybe a few others say before, now, if you’re going to start a podcast, don’t do it because you think it’s going to make you rich or famous, do it because you enjoy it, you love it, otherwise, you won’t stick with it, because it is a bit of a long road. But it can be a lot of fun, it can be really powerful. And it gives a voice and a lot to come back to than what you’re saying. Because I think the stories are so important, like hearing people’s stories, gives us that opportunity for empathy, to be able to put ourselves in that position or say, or at least I understand that or get, I hadn’t considered that before. Because you get to you get a sense of an experience of the world that is outside of your own. And sometimes one of the reasons why people are aren’t always appreciative, all and always actively seeking to improve on their inclusivity is just not having that awareness and not having that understanding, which makes hearing people’s stories really powerful. So giving out your platform as your podcast as a platform for that is a powerful thing. Because it’s our stories that really break down barriers and help people to get a sense of what’s really going on and have that awareness. Now more so when we click to meet and when you actually know people in those situations, it makes it even more powerful. But certainly a great way to do that on a bigger scale is by exchanging our stories and our experiences, which is fantastic.

Esi Hardy
I think so yeah.

John Ball
Great. And so one of the things that when I see a list of things that would be good to talk about you said was influencing, influence and empowerment. We talked a fair bit about empowerment. But let’s talk a little bit about the influence side of things if that’s okay, and why that’s important for you and where that comes into what you do?

Esi Hardy
So I think there’s two sides of that. Again, as you say, we’ve already talked about empowerment side, but I think the influence and empowerment, they work hand in hand when it comes to supporting, in my case disabled people. But in other cases, other people that might need a bit of help to have confidence in themselves in any way by seeing somebody else doing it and by saying, well, Should we try it this way? Who said you can’t do that? I don’t believe that. Let’s try it. It supports them and I do think influence and empowerment work hand in hand together. And also it works in business as well. So I think that businesses are getting better. So there are a lot, for example, the top 50 inclusive companies. So a website called inclusive companies every year, and promotes the top 50 inclusive companies that they’ve in the UK that they’ve audited to say, they have inclusive practices, and they are an inclusive company. And then they, they publish out their website. And then the big companies can publish it, and then the best material and everything. And if people are not doing it for anything more than the business case, as an overview, it looks good. It’s a good PR platform to be inclusive of disabled people. And then they can see the other companies have done that. So the list of names includes people like Bloomberg, and BT, and Auto Trader, so you click on it and think, Oh, you know, I didn’t need to worry about this diversity and inclusion, politics. And then you see auto trade, and you think, Oh, my God, Auto Trader is doing it, I’ll do it too. And then I think once you start doing it, then you realise it’s not as complicated as you think it was. And also, it brings you lots of benefits, both from the business case, and also just from the professional and personal point of view that we’ve discussed in this podcast. But I think influence is so important and influences the speaker is so important. So again, it goes back to making it relatable. So being able to relate to your audience and saying, I know, you know what you might be thinking, I’ve been there too. So again, if I can talk about myself for a minute, so when I deliver training, and I want people to be confident, and they want to be competent with the language they use when describing disability, because people are terrified of saying the wrong thing. And so I say, so what are the words that you think are appropriate and appropriate to use? Silence, and they will look at each other, you know, if we’re in a room, and don’t know, so for example, when I was 19, my friend and I used to call each other sparkies. And they go, Oh, well, they fancy said that, then I’m gonna say, Oh, these things. And then the conversation goes on for about 14 minutes, which is what I plan to do. But I think that that as a host, we can influence or a speaker we can influence and by helping people to understand that we really relate to where they’re coming from. So I know this is difficult, I know that this is challenging, I know that you have lots of other priorities. This, I know this, because I went through it too. But these are the steps that I took. And these are the benefits and look at these other high profile businesses, or high profile people that went through exactly the same journey and look at where they’ve come from. And I was talking to quite a high profile client the other day, and one of the things that won them over was telling them that they could be an influencer, if you do this the right way. And when we do these things, then you can influence and I saw his eyes literally light up, be in it’s not a bad thing. To be honest with yourself and say, I want to be an influencer because it helps drive that business’s profile, or helps drive your personal profile. And breaking influence is so important for change. And by saying this is you know, here I am, you respect me, or whoever it is, you respect me, you look up to me, I went through exactly the same and the same thought process as you did. This is what I’ve got, you can do it too, if you just take these steps. Yeah. And we’ll do it together.

John Ball
Yeah, great.

Esi Hardy
exactly example with disability confidence, which is a government scheme to support businesses to put in accessibility and inclusive processes, into their recruitment and into their business as usual strategies. And one of the things that they do is when you become disability confident, you join, you can join Facebook groups, you can join LinkedIn groups. And then there’s three tiers. So on the second and third tier, you’re actually being assessed and audited by other businesses that have reached that level. So you’re not working with an external person that doesn’t really know anything about it. You’re working with people that have already been through it. And they can say, I’ve had the struggle. This is what we did when we struggled in this area. This is what we found work for us.

John Ball
Yeah, we want these kinds of things to be Business Standard. Really.

Esi Hardy
Exactly. Yeah. But the starting point of all of that is influence. Look at me, I’m this massive multi-national billion-dollar business you could you know, and I want to do this. So surely you want to do it too? Oh, yes, I do. Because I want to be seen in the same light as that business.

John Ball
Yeah, sure, yeah. That those are the businesses that kind of one of that morally leading the way for everyone else and saying, you know what this is, this isn’t just something that that some people should do. This is something that everyone should do, and it matters. And it should matter to everyone. Now, we’re more likely to value doing business with people who share these values as well. We know that we generally like to spend time within our personal lives with people who have similar values to us. Well, yeah, very different values. It’s very similar in the business world as well. We want to do business with people who share our values, ideally, as well. And we don’t want to do business with people who don’t. So it’s really important stuff. And the inputs are definitely very, very, very powerful. They’re what would be based on less than what you said, it might just be recapping, really, but what would be your vision for where you would like things to get? And how far away Do you think probably we are from now maybe just in the UK at least?

Esi Hardy
Well, I think first of all, I want the second part, I don’t think we’re going to get to fully inclusive workplaces or fully inclusive societies in our lifetime. And obviously, you’re a lot longer than I am. So in my lifetime, I think it’ll be like still hundreds and hundreds of years away. And but what I want what I would like to get to, and specifically, well, new actually not specifically aimed just a business, but specifically aimed at society as a whole, which obviously encompasses business is a place where everybody no matter what your beliefs, what your values, obviously, if you’re not murderer, and what your beliefs, what your values, what your lifestyle and your lifestyle choices, and everything else that encompasses all of those protected characteristics and all of those underprivileged characteristics. And is that people feel as though they can be who they are, with the support there, and do what they want to do successfully without having to plan five steps ahead about Okay, what am I doing? How am I going to present myself that this person, what am I going to do to get on this bus? How am I going to explain this, there should be no need for that it should be done. So you should be able to walk in a restaurant, I should be able to as a wheelchair user, go into a restaurant and say, I would like to sit at this table and not have to worry about somebody saying I’m sorry, I lift is broken? Well, we don’t have a lift on the second floor. I can just go where I want to go or I don’t have to call a few towels as long say, Would you have any accessible rooms available because the rooms are accessible, or nine times out of 10? The rooms are going to be accessible, and they’re going to have the things I need. And if they’re not there, they can be sourced by the time I get there. Or I’d love to come and present your session. Is this accessible? Oh no, well, then I can’t. And the luckily that hasn’t happened often where I couldn’t take an opportunity because of the accessibility and my speaking career. But it’s happened a couple of times, we’ve had some really good opportunities presented, but I couldn’t do it because it hasn’t been accessible to me. And obviously, I’m talking specifically about disability. But this covers every characteristic, and no characteristics should have to and think about how people are going to accept them into whatever community that is they would like to be a part of it should be given that people are going to be accepted and celebrated for who they are.

John Ball
Hopefully, but you know how it is people don’t like people who are too different to them. And we tend to sort for differences more than similarities. And I think that one of the things that I hope by now I have to work on myself sometimes but is just always going to at least be kind in all of your interactions. And if you’re always going to be kind and have respect for people, and then you’re not going to go too far wrong. You might not get it right every time man or be perfect on that. But if you actually check in with people, be kind to them, ask the question, be supportive, and respectful for people, then people will usually tell you how you can help many people will usually appreciate that as well. We could all do with that bit more kindness to each other in all our interactions. And sometimes it’s just that those are more automated responses that we have more naturally done in our past. That’s what we need to do is take care. Take a moment to think before we respond before we act, but I’ve already given some really good some

Esi Hardy
I just said, because I completely agree with you. And I think that they can, but you said kindness, but I would add on to that compassion. And I think if we can be compassionate, and as you say, Take time to listen and ask the questions. And it’s so important, because as you say, first of all, it supports people to understand that you want to know the answer. As long as the person asking the question and then waiting for the answer. They’re not looking somewhere else, or changing their body language, but they’re actually waiting for the answer. and compassion. Because when we assert compassion, it’s easier to think, Okay, what can I do about the situation, and because you’re actually taking time to think about what it’s like for the other person. And I think a lot of things to do with disability inclusion, especially, and any other inclusion actually just takes a bit of compassion, and a bit of understanding, because the minute you start to think about what it might be like somebody else, the minute you start saying, Okay, what can I do differently to make it better? And then also ask it after asking that question, you know, how can I help? What support would you like, what could have been improved, be prepared to do something about his action, that feedback he would given. So it’s not just about filing it in your brain or filing it in a piece of paper and putting it away in a drawer? It’s actually this is really helpful, what can we do to make this an actionable change in our business, organisation, life, whatever it is, listen to people and actually encouraging them. So telling them that you would like to know their feedback. And because not everybody’s going to tell you, I will tell you, you know, if somebody asked me to fill in a feedback form, I will tell them or else don’t give me the feedback form. But not everybody’s going to do that. Because they’re worried about other people’s feelings. So making sure it’s the person asking the question, but you’ve set the premise for the person to understand that you want to hear the honest and critical truth, obviously, you know, and apply appropriate way. And then it’s going to give them more confidence, to say, Oh, actually, this was really good. But I think this could have been improved. And this is a way you could do it. Not everybody’s gonna have a solution to give you but actually saying what’s not right. And it could be a small thing that might be immaterial to the person asking, but could make an entire difference to that person telling you, and, and then showing them what you’re doing about it. Because so many people are disenfranchised by the fact that they give their feedback, and then nothing’s done. And it comes over and over again, it’s actually written in business theory, that in order to to have positive data, you don’t respond to people’s complaints. And then you can put your positive outcome because it’s all gone away. But actually, what it does is it disenfranchises the person, so they won’t do it next time. So even if you can’t continue that, continue what they suggested, because you don’t have the resources, you can tell them why you can thank them for their time.

John Ball
Yeah, I’m sorry, I was going to ask whether what you would recommend for us to be able to do on an individual level that would make a difference here. And I think he just answered it beautifully. So. So thank you for that. And people may want to get a bit more insight into what they might be able to do, especially if their business owners are involved in corporations that would like to improve their accessibility for people, how can they find out more about you and what you do?

Esi Hardy
So they could go my website, which is celebrating disability dot code at UK, and making that I’ve got lots of resources on there. So in this summer, so May and June, I hosted about eight webinars, and it was exhausting. And but all those recordings of the webinars are on the website so they can have look at them. I have lots of articles that they can look at. And they can connect with me through LinkedIn, which is my name Esi Hardy, and they can contact me. So through the website, they can send me an email because of time to chat with me. And just an informal exploration chats about, you know, any questions they might have, and they can join my mailing list as well where I send out inclusion bites, I call them disability inclusion bytes that go out once a week to help people with their disability inclusion strategy in their organisation, and it helps them define the difference between things like and diversity and inclusion and accessibility and inclusion.

John Ball
I’ve certainly learned some insightful things from you today and I really enjoyed the conversation. And are there any additional books or resources that you might recommend that either relate to This will just like a good book recommendation that you’d like to give out to people?

So a colleague of mine, Roland Chesters has written a book called ‘Ripples from the edge of life’. And it’s his experience of having HIV and AIDS and an AIDS-defining illness. So the book is about his experience, but also 13 other people’s experience of having HIV and AIDS-defining illness. And I think it’s brilliant, it’s insightful, it’s powerful. I don’t use the word, inspirational for lots of reasons that we didn’t have time to guarantee. But it’s insightful and powerful. It’s kind of heartwarming and heartbreaking. And I very much recommend that you can find it on Amazon dot code at UK.

I’ll put a link to that. And the other things in the show notes as well, as we wrap things up for today. And what would be the thought that you would most like to leave people with at the end of our episode together?

Esi Hardy
I think I think it’s what we talked about before compassion, and empowerment, I think that It doesn’t matter what position people are in. And whether they’re in a powerful position within an organisation, or they’re a person who doesn’t have a job at the moment and listening to whatever be it other people are saying and going out of their way to learn other people’s experiences, to kind of put into their own and ask people if they would like support and but understanding that not everybody wants support and mainly were struggling but they’re managing fine. Another thing that I always say is, you know, I live like I’m struggling because my hands are all over here and I put a face overconcentration face, which is a bit terrible. But actually, I’m managing fine and actually being interrupted is quite annoying. And but always offering that support but be willing to hear what the answer is, and asking people what could be done better if they work was in a position to change things.

John Ball
Excellent. I see. It’s been a real pleasure speaking today. Thank you to my guest Esi Hardy, we’re back with more great guests coming up soon on the show, as well as some individual episodes. So come and check those out in the future. Thank you Esi.

Esi Hardy
Thank you very much for inviting me.

John Ball
Thanks for tuning in. Remember to like and subscribe if you haven’t already and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts. Why not get yourself a copy of my new ebook the five key beliefs of bulletproof business speakers available from present influence.com if you’re able to join us next week, we’re doing something a bit different at 11am European time and 10am UK time on the fourth of December for the 4th of December, I will be having a chat with Jeremy Nicholas, who is a great presenter very experienced presenter and certainly has lots of TV experience after-dinner speaking and more besides the great event speaker and a good humorist as well. In fact, he teaches he runs a course in humour and presentation skills. So I am really looking forward to having that conversation with him. hope you can join us live. If not the episode will be going out the same day later that day, so it’s going to be my freshest episode. With a quick turnaround. If you can join us live, Follow me on LinkedIn, JohnABall, you’ll find me that on LinkedIn connect with me and you will be able to tune in live 10am next Friday the fourth of December at 11am European time with Jeremy Nicholas live on LinkedIn and say episode coming out the same day. So look out for that. See you next time.

What ya selling? With guest Jamie Martin

Whatever business you’re in, you need sales and marketing to make it work. I often hear people say ‘I hate sales’ or ‘I hate marketing’ and what they often mean is that they hate the amount of work that needs to go into it or they don’t like that the ‘build it and they will come’ strategy is BS. If you don’t market you don’t get sales and without sales, you don’t have a business. That’s where people like my guest on this episode come in.

Jamie Martin is an award-winning sales trainer and a careers coach with 10+ years’ successful sales experience working within the corporate sales, marketing, media, and recruitment/headhunting world. As you’ll find out in this episode, Jamie is highly passionate about sales strategy and sales training to help businesses improve their revenue and processes.

There’s something for everyone to take away from what Jamie shares, whether you’re in the corporate word or not. Sales matter and if you want to make it in business, it’s always great to learn from experts like Jamie Martin.

Here are links to some of the things Jamie mentioned in the show:

If you’d like to know more about Jamie, you can get in touch with him in one or all of these ways:

Transcript

John Ball
Welcome to the speaking of influence podcast with virtual business speaker presentation skills and influence Coach John Ball. Remember to like and subscribe. The speaking of influence podcast is uploaded and distributed using Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout makes it really easy to get your podcast started and out to a wide audience with lots of tips and useful tools to help you on your way. If you’re interested, check the link in the show notes and start your podcast today.

Welcome to the speaking of influence podcast and I’m really happy today to have with me is the first time that I’m actually having a sales trainer as my guest on the show. Not only is a sales trainer, he’s an award winning sales trainer, training business to business and doing very well as a coach as a someone who can guide you in being able to prove your sales in business and a number of things as well. He’s a professional speaker, he’s also a podcaster. Please welcome to the show, Jamie Martin.

Jamie Martin
Well, thank you for the warm introduction, John, delighted to be on your show. And yeah, just to give some value to the audience listening to what we discussed today.

John Ball
Really? Fantastic. Well, I think this is the first time I think I’ve spoken to a sales trainer as a guest, but I think it’s such an important area. And I know, some actually, you know, there was one lady Stephanie Scheller, who I spoke to, and she was very, very interesting as well. So you might be my second sales trainer. Just to ask you then, what is it you do and how did you end up doing it?

Jamie Martin
Yeah, well, hopefully, we’re not a dying breed or anything like that. But funny enough to speak it and sell it actually goes you know quite hand in hand really. So I’m sure there’ll be some useful correspondence we’re going to talk about today to help the listeners. But for myself, personally, I think we’re probably my career started was, I was quite academically bass a bit of an introvert in school actually, and that that will come out during the the this episode. But I did a psychology degree for years at the University of Gloucestershire, in the UK. And then I did a fourth year business psychology, postgraduate certificate. And during that time, I really had a passion for the subject, obviously learning individual differences in business psychology, learning about occupational psychology, onboarding, psychometrics. And naturally, during that time, I was always fascinated about building relationships. And I think I was, always had good communication skills apart from I do speak quickly. So maybe you can help me with that, sometimes, but it’s just my passion and my energy and, you know, people who get today we, they just, they’re all very authentic. So what I did was I started my career in sales, I did two years of telemarketing with a company that actually was a telemarketing agency, various other parts of it, but I was on the Vodafone campaign. So if you can sell mobile phones, you can basically sell anything.

It is predominantly the lead generation, and it was very tough. But I did achieve the targets. And I think I had a really good grounding in in lead generation and telemarketing. And for any one setting, that’s a really good career starting point to have, then I did about six months with our sort of local media company. So it was, you know, magazines, newspapers, digital online content. And I really enjoyed my time there learning a lot about business, learning a lot about the major industry. And I moved on because I found a career in recruitment. And I think that’s really where I excelled in selling. And I was fortunate because I got the job without read specialist recruitment. So one of the UK leading and a global company, recruitment agencies, brilliant, you know, it’s a fantastic company had a really good career there. And so six years later, within the company, I started on various codesa in the business, and I was I was very well trained, but you just have to have a really strong growth mindset. Have some grits, be a bit tenacious, dedicated, motivated, you know, to to learn the trade and and achieve your, you know, KPIs or key performance indicators, and anyone in a sales role will know selling is hard recruitment, slightly known as one of the hardest sales roles. So I suppose that that was my background. And during the time, you know, we probably have a goal day to hear all about my career there, but our seven over a couple of achievements. So within just under six years, I was promoted five times. I was an award winner. Within my first year, I worked on the finance desk, the sales desk, I was a record breaker for most revenue in the sales division. In one month, I placed the CFO and sales director for the same business. I did an international recruitment role placement in Germany, which was relevant in the business and in my time there apart from working with like footsie 250 companies and all different sized businesses and levels of personnel. I’ve made over 60 different placements across 20 different industry sectors and made around about a quarter million pound for the business. And I set up my own sales team and sales branch. And yeah, it was a really, really flirtatious career I gained success, you know, worked my way up within the business, I probably would have saved, you know, until, you know, later on it maybe director level because I know how dedicated and passionate I am. But I decided to move on from the business, which was April 2019. Now, and I had a bit of a career break, I decided, you know, I wanted to focus on you know, what I wanted to do next and focus on other areas of my life. So after a career break, I did a coaching diploma. And I also did an NLP diploma course, at my time at Reed which was great. And a four year recruitment Academy course and management Academy course a very well trained, and overall heard, you know, from my different types of roles had about 10 years business to business selling experience. So what I did, I decided to set up my own business, correct Curry’s coaching, and we’re just having a bit of a laugh about the name at the beginning of this before we started recording, but there hence the name is because I’m thinking, you know, like, Steven, Kobe with the end in mind, focus on you know, where should you know, what do you want to do in the end and work your way back? What’s your goals, I wanted to be able to brands, and correct careers conviction has three arms to where you’ve got the sales, training and sales strategy, which is what I predominantly focus on, because there is a real big gap in the market, the careers coaching side of it, because I was a bit of management and millennial as well. And I feel, you know, in your career, having a mentor or career coach could really be beneficial. And then the other side would be employee engagement and retention strategies. And the overall aim and vision of my business is to look at employee retention. I was looking at employee turnover for quite a long time at the recruitment world and I decided to how can we retain staff so first of all, developing their their training skills, their sales skills, you know, especially in a sales role to help them perform better and achieve success and hopefully stay longer with the business and other engagement strategies as well. So yeah, that’s that leads me up to today in the last year of my business, but a very, you know, fantastic star, a lot of support with networking. As you mentioned, I just recently won the Best SME sales training consultancy in the southwest UK. so delighted with that all the way to work to about 28 different industry sectors, sole traders to corporate businesses, and you know, b2b Anna, you know, better b2c as well, there is a real gap in the market, not just for learning the full sales cycle, which is what I teach show anything from lead generation to conversion. And obviously, everyone loves negotiation and talking about money.

But also, I’m a modern sales trainer, because I teach social media marketing, social selling, and that is a real big gap. Right now, especially due to the pandemic, I mostly work with professional services, business services, HR an areas such as this the sector’s some of them haven’t embraced social media. And we really need to say visible right now. And the other element I do is sales strategy. So not only helping the team before but perform better and increase your gross sales. But looking at how the business leaders in the overall company can focus on the making their sales process and strategy more efficient. So we’ll be looking at you know, whether it’s their resources, their marketing material, their ICT, their social media and their people and make sure everyone is in the right place and doing the right sort of activity and touchpoints with their potential clients and customers to making sure that overall, you know, the business is profitable. So yeah, that’s basically my background and the reasons for doing what I do. And I absolutely enjoy it and love working with new people love building new relationships.

John Ball
Some people listening might wonder why you’d step down from what seems like a very high trajectory career to start your own business.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, so I mean, I had a lot of success in recruitment, and I would always look back and remember the times that I built my character and experience to help me do what I do today. I think, you know, from my background, I was always, you know, finance myself as an entrepreneur, and, you know, being an a corporate business, you know, it didn’t I was challenging times as well, you know, but overall, I had a high of loser success. And, you know, we all have those wounds in a sales role. But I think, you know, it was just the right time for me to explore other areas and even focus on other areas of my life. And you know, I worked a lot that was due to my choice, but you know, so I can now you know, spend more time you know, in my personal life and my family and friends and you know, do what I do and you know, being as we talked about start being your own business owner, you wear many different hats and you probably work all the time anyway. I probably work more now but you can also be very flexible so no, yeah, that that’s probably why and I think I made the right decision. Now anyway. But sometimes I think you do have to take a bit of a leap of faith and and it’s and especially in sales. Don’t get me wrong. hasn’t been a huge learning curve running your own business. And constantly every day would be, you know, very, we’re changing things, we need to be very agile and adaptable, especially now, you know, post the pandemic or during the pandemic. But yeah, that that’s why I’m here today. And yet to really, I think I had a very successful career. So I’d like to, and I managed a team, and all I wanted really was, you know, my team and the people I try now to achieve the successes and rewards that I did myself personally.

John Ball
Yeah, for myself, coming from a very customer service oriented background, making the transition to having my own business was very hard. How did you find that? I mean, you have to have more of a professional background, more of a more traditional company background than someone like myself, but how was that transition for you? Were there some parts you found difficult? Did you have to work on your identity in order to be able to do that?

Jamie Martin
Yeah. You know, there’s various different, you know, answers to that, I think, looking back at start, I’m glad I may I started when I did, you know, it, I think the figures are probably around, and this changes all the time, but 20% of businesses fail in their first year. And it is a real shame. And don’t get me wrong, because cash flow and clients are, you know, absolutely, necessity in a business. And a lot of people spend, you know, a lot of time working on the business, which you should do, because you need to make it professional, I was fortunate I had a few months off as a career break inside really kind of planning what I wanted out of the business before I sort of launched it. And then you know, I suppose that helped, that I was naturally, you know, my my background is sales. So I would go out and I would sell and you know, there’s a few elements I still need to work on. Of course, there is but I was going out there I was networking a lot, I was building relationships, I have a mentor, you know, I I’m always doing continued Personal Learning myself. So going on webinars, reading books, listening to podcasts, including your show, john, you know, add, you know, just really, you know, think about current times think about what’s going on in the marketplace. So, I would say you do need to form an identity. And you know, there are there are resources out there to help you do that, you know, in our local area, there’s plenty of resources, you know, to give some help to, you know, and put you on courses and stuff. But really, I just think you probably should do your due diligence in your research. So the way way to do it is identify where the gaps are in the market. So I was looking in the selling environment, and I identified that, you know, social media and sales strategy would come, compromise, sorry, accommodate working with cell shading, try to pick the right word, that compliment. So this is basically you know, why I incorporate corporated, the full kind of cycle, including those areas as well. And so when I go pitch into new business, and upselling, with my current clients, I can explain to them that there’s other elements to my business, but you can’t kind of you know, show everything in your shop window at the start. So you some, you know, there will be you know, mixed reviews on this, some people say just focus on a niche, if I was honest, recruitment probably would be my niche because of the background I’ve had in recruitment. But I really wanted to actually push myself to go and explore other areas. And that was tough, you know, because as I mentioned, I work for 28 different industry sectors. Today, I do like to analyse and work out my metrics, where my needs are coming from what I’m good at, and that’s where your personality comes into it. But I think it was good for me to explore other areas because it pushes you out of your comfort. So it may be a slightly longer journey, you know, to where you want to get to. But at the end of the day, I can then demonstrate to you know, different clients and work with my own model. And I can and I can cross over to sectors if I need to So, so really, I think to anyone out there, I would say you know, first of all, definitely do your research. You know, read the material, look at you know the resources available, identify the gaps in the market. And you know, if you are genuinely passionate about something, pick something you’re passionate about, I’m sure that’s what you’ve done john as well, then you certainly any hurdles you come across in that time you will overcome them. And it’s just for breaking the goals down breaking it down into habits, having a good morning routine, we talked about how our roads Miracle Morning is fantastic. I follow that. And you know, just keep going you know any and I’m sure every business owners has some challenges Richard Branson, for example, you know, fifth fifth riches, I think in the UK, you know, that’s changed today. But you know, he had some setbacks early on in his career. So yeah, just got to keep going.

John Ball
You do and I often will say to my coaching clients that your reasons for doing something have to be bigger than your reasons not to. Because if you don’t have that, why if you don’t if you haven’t worked on that then when things do get challenging, which can happen quite fast in a business, then you’re not going to have to stick with it because it’s I think more Why am I really doing this is that is not really worth the hassle and people tend to drop out or just say it’s not worth it and go and do something else go back into the working world or, or try and move on from some of my friends do and move on from one thing to the next to the next without really getting any particular traction. Just Keep now like shiny object syndrome, let’s try this business. Let’s try that business and not really getting any results with it. And I love so many people are good at starting stuff, but not so many people are actually good at seeing things through. And so it does take a level of drive and commitment to get to where you were. So to achieve results like yours, show that you have a very high level of personal drive, you have your why you work on that, and you keep building on it as well, which is great. It’s a great example of what what can be achieved with determination and sticking with it.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, I liked what you said that, John, and if the listeners haven’t seen this YouTube video, but Simon Sinek, you know, he really talks about start with the why, or to focus on the why and the sort of neuroscience behind it. And I think you’re right, you know, I wasn’t in a closed group a little while ago, and they said, you know, you, you work a lot, you’re here, there and everywhere, you know, what, what’s the reasons for that it didn’t actually take me some time to, to naturally think about it. And, and, you know, when I did find it, it was a kind of a lightbulb moment, to be honest. And for me, if I’m going to be able to stand up in sales, train businesses and employees, I need to be able to show that it is possible, I don’t want to just say, look, this is what you do, I need to go and do it in my own business so that you can do it whenever you want to do it in your goals in your business. And I think that that was my way, what was your way, John, for your own business? And what you do,

John Ball
it’s interesting, I got into coaching over 15 years ago, really, but I didn’t probably about 15 years ago that he started working as a coach. But I’d studied for several years before actually opened up to clients, and the why of doing it well, you know, as I was in customer service, and I got introduced to coaching, and I’d never come across it before I had no, I’d always had an interest in psychology and things like that, but haven’t really studied it. And didn’t really think that Professional Psychology or psychiatry would be something that I wanted to work in for various reasons I’m not going to go into here but but when I got when I found coaching that was so solution focus I’ve always been a kind of a solution focused guy like looking at solutions. And and I very much like working through otherwise been one of those people who, who others would come to and talk about stuff that was going on in their lives, almost like an agony aunt or uncle. But but not not really big, because there be that thing of Well, I’m not going to tell people what to do. But I would often find myself saying what you can do about that is I think there’s come and moan to me about how terrible Your life is, what are you actually going to do about it? And and it was really at that point, I realised that’s kind of coaching people. And the more I found out about coaching there, the more it enthralled me really and and realised, yeah, this is definitely something that I want to be involved with. And then as I got deeper into it, like yourself, I studied neuro linguistic programming and a number of other things. And so I have a great many tools and that they keep building over the years to be honest, and that I can use in coaching situations, but I develop more of a passion for presenting and training as well. So whilst I do a lot of professional coaching, the is the training and the presenting side of things that I love the most. And that’s ended up tying in with all sorts of things like I have a real thing of I discovered a lot about hidden influence. And not long before I ever read Robert Cialdini, his book on influence and the psychology of persuasion, I discovered some stuff that people are showing were not social engineering or hidden tools of influence and marketing, that I would guess as well with rhetorical devices and being included with that as well. These things that are very often used in corporate world and political world, that people don’t realise our emotional trigger psychologically affecting them and influencing in ways that understand that part of me also wants to get that information to being more genuine knowledge for people because so many people are using those kinds of tools, as as a way to say I’ve got a bit back with it. So people are using those kinds of tools as a way to manipulate people to their own ends, rather than before other people’s greater good. So part of my mission is empowering people to be able to see where there’s outside influence being used upon them. And then being able to consciously say, well, is that for my benefit? Or is it just someone trying to rip me off and to be honest to see more and more, maybe see it you may be seen on YouTube and places like this where people are exposing certain certain people who use the sales formulas and then with hype to try and get their sales and what they’re offering isn’t actually all that valuable, or it isn’t even their stuff. And, and they’re just, they’re just there to make money, they’re not there for people’s benefit. And that more and more people are becoming aware of those particular situations now than ever before. And so that’s part of me, I think of myself as being part of someone who’s able to help create that level of awareness. And so that’s a big part of my mission to me.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, and I liked what you said, there, you know, I try and always come up with my own content, and try not to look at others too much. Because, you know, there is no frameworks in place. And, and there is some renowned frameworks, you know, some really good sort of acronyms out there to help people remember, but I think, you know, being a sales trainer, or you know, a trainer, or coach, I really like that, you know, to work with someone personally. And you know, now it’s kind of over video conference in due to pandemic, but I really like to be in a workshop on site with businesses, and I like to really get to know them as individuals, and what’s like their pain points and how I can help solve their problems. I do actually have an E learning course come out. So I’m certainly not going to say, you know, illegal illegal alien, of course, it’s, you know, generic, because it’s not. But actually, the one that I’ve got coming out is English for HR. So you said, the HR profession I collaborated, we actually tailored it for that industry sector to give them a personal approach to selling better, but you know, and you know, you can do courses online, or you can like watch, you know, certain content. But I think because from a newer probably you do understand this as well joining it from NLP or from my psychology background, we all know that there, everyone’s different. So whether it’s your learning style, whether you prefer, you know, reflective learning or active learning or listening, also your communication style. So you might be a visual learner, you might be very auditory or kinesthetic. So I’m fully aware of that. And I need to make sure that each time I’m working with someone, firstly, analyse and understand them, or even ask them what’s the best way you’d like to learn. And then you can tailor the training around that Funny enough, I just read an article on LinkedIn, I’ve got a few articles as sort of series on there. But it was actually the disadvantages of not using an external sales trainer. And if anyone’s interested, go to my LinkedIn, as Jamie Martin, I’m on their BSc honours. But he’s just a really fascinating, interesting information, you know, really look like

John Ball
We can put a link to the article, as well.

Jamie Martin
That’d be great. Yeah, good. But so no, so you’re right. So you know, it’s really important to I think, I’ve said that the quote, I will use now more than ever is personalities will thrive. And I’ve been using that quite a lot, because I suppose we’re, we’re recording this podcast, you know, mid pandemic for some countries, but, you know, really sort of post the worst of the pandemic at the moment. So, yeah, hopefully, yeah, you know, fingers crossed. So businesses have handled, the business world has had a lot of changes during that time. And, you know, unfortunately, whether there’s some businesses that haven’t, you know, survive through it, or there have been redundancies, you know, a lot of companies will now be re strategizing and looking at the areas of the business, and I personally believe without cash flow, or without clients, which comes from selling and prospecting, then then, you know, how can you continue to operate a business? So these are the areas that companies need to look at now, and hopefully will give some advice, you know, far for how businesses listening can do that.

John Ball
Yeah, well, great. And they, they are important skills. And I just want to hone in on one of the things you said about about niching. Because I know that for speakers, for coaches, and for many businesses, there is a reluctance often to niche who they target, as their as their ideal customers, because many of the products or services that work could help could help everybody. But then without doing that, you try and help everybody, you often end up helping nobody. And so those decisions to neach aren’t something that’s really optional. For most businesses, unless you have a very specific service, then I think you have to focus on niching and targeting specific groups of people because it doesn’t exclude everyone else, it just means you’re going to have a message that’s actually getting through to the people who were most likely to want to solve their problem and pay you to help them solve it. What tell me a bit about your own experience in leasing in your company.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, so so and it is what I train on and you kind of hit the nail on the head there, john, you know, really, I would say Look at this, first of all, do focus on ICP. So your ideal customer profile. Now that that can be a niche, but it doesn’t have to just necessarily be a certain demographic or certain industry sector. What I be mean by ICP is, you know, the customer or client who is likely to buy your service, as you kind of just mentioned that so you know, what problem are you solving for them, and it will depend on sort of the if you’re a product or service selling industry or maybe the size of business you operate or you know what service or products you actually do deliver. But if you if you could, like you said you can’t speak to everyone so web marketing and social media marketing comes in, you have to kind of be consistent, and you have to kind of be personalised in your messaging because, you know, as we’re probably aware, it’s a 90% emotional by. And that means, you know, if we are communicating on a digital sales space, so social media or our websites, you know, even such things as newsletters, and webinars, which are, you know, bigger more than ever now, you know, what sort of messaging are we give to our target market. So our ideal customer profile, you can’t speak to everyone in the room, it’s just impossible because the the the the story tell, which is a really good sales technique, as you would you would be aware of, or the emotional message wouldn’t resonate with everyone. So you really do have to zone in on the sort of your tribe, your tribe of followers, or clients who are likely to buy from you. So that would be the sort of the first technique I would give. There’s something called sinespace selling. And it’s actually something that’s, that’s been more apparent than ever, where they’re using analytics and social psychology and neuro psychology, and neuroscience to basically identify what it is your customer actually wants. So it’s focusing on the customer by rather than you’re actually you know, your process or selling it to someone. So for example, when I was doing a workshop a few months ago, and during that time, in the workshop, I mentioned, someone called Carol herro is one of my favourite clients. Now, I really needed to get to know Carol, so not only just you know, what type of background education she had, but what her personality is, like, what her traits are, like, what she’s good at what she’s not good at, because she she turned out to be a really good client of mine. And I say, Carol is as the person for the business. So when I said talk to people, I say, so you know, who’s your customers at this moment, and, you know, find customers, you know, maybe similar to them, it could be their customers, customers, it could be their competitors, or it could be some as a vendor supply chain, but more and more importantly, now, rather than looking at quantity, we should look at quality. And when there’s quite the qualification stages of the actual sales process, you know, I would say it’s more about the business, you know, or the or the leaders of the business, the decision makers focus on who they are, how they communicate with, there’s a few personality hints I can give, you know, throughout this talk, but you know, focus on them as an individual because the more personalised you make it when you are having that discovery call, or you are doing that maybe that that introductory email, you know, no one really likes to be sold to, we can kind of immediately tell if it’s a cold pitch. So the more personal you can make it with someone, the more likely they are to firstly engage with you. And social media, primarily LinkedIn being the number one business to business platform is absolutely fantastic. And utilising it. So you could really kind of research someone on there and find out about, you know, groups, they follow their interest, what do they want any awards or, you know, more information about them. So when you actually pick up the phone, and talk to them, you can say, Oh, you know, you can actually give them some real life information, some real case studies about that person and their company. And then immediately, you’ve already strengthened the rapport building stage of the sales process. So, so those would be sort of my tips really, for, you know, focus on an area and you can, you know, talk him through this information with you, john, you can really kind of see the benefits of it, you know, when he uses a CRM system, or you know, even if you, you know, we’re just gonna use a spreadsheet, and you can identify, you know, who the customers are going to buy from you. So the demographics, what, you know, the personality traits are of the of the decision makers are and if you could really work that out, you could really cut down your, you know, the amount of output in sales activity, you know, it’s not about go around knocking on so many doors anymore, you know, in a world, which is forever changing, and everyone’s busy. And you probably hard to get hold of people on the phone sometimes now as well. What are the digital selling techniques can you use, but also it’s just been about being more efficient in your strategy and process to effectively sell better?

John Ball
Yeah, something something I’d be interested to get your thoughts on? I have a sense and I and I’m not 100% sure on my, I just think I might be right, is that selling is moving moving away from the sort of flashy, aspirational, perfect live kind of shiny, slick sales presentations kind of thing to more of a personalised relationship connected kind of selling. That’s that’s my sense about what’s happening and I heard other people saying this as well. And yet I still see a lot of that perhaps more familiar side of selling where people are they know I’m standing here in front of a private jet which may or may not be mine or here I am with Jared garriage, full of sports cars and telling you or telling you about how great I am and my product is kind of thing that people are I feel like people are responding to that lesson as I know I am. But I can’t obviously speak for the whole the whole world but what what’s your take? Got that?

Jamie Martin
Yeah, so I completely agree that it should be a personal touch point now So, and I wouldn’t what what the reasons why I would say that is because know, like and trust know, like, and trust is a renowned term, you know, within the selling environment, but it really does speak volumes, and I don’t think he’ll ever change. So you know, if someone knows you, or they like you, or they trust you, they’re more than likely going to work with you. And he’s, you know, it’s harder probably to wouldn’t say trust businesses nowadays. That’s that’s not what I’m saying. I’m thinking everyone sort of had maybe one sort of another a bad experience, you know, and in recruitment, for example, sometimes someone’s work, you know, hired someone, and it hasn’t worked out. So everyone, you know, in that in that environment, for example, you know, is very dubious, you know, to me, I had to really kind of give them evidence, you know, give case studies and evidence of how I can find the right person for the job and, and the process I went through to do that. So, for example, there was another article series, I’ve written about millennial bias. So the reason why I researched millennials is because if you look at LinkedIn, for example, so not only does it have 600, and 60 million companies on there, which is absolutely amazing, but 87 billion million Millennials are on there. So a lot of these Millennials are entrepreneurs, they’re going to be setting up their own businesses. So companies not only need to, you know, first of all understand the buying behaviour of millennials, but to be able to connect and engage with them, ideally, probably using LinkedIn, I did the research, when I did a survey through this article series, I was writing 100% of millennials said that they would go and read reviews before buying, but also that, that means that they would review your company, so whether that’s your recommendations on your personal profile, whether that’s testimonials, or case studies on your website, and that would really be a decision maker, as part of the buying process, before actually purchasing. So when you’re talking about, you know, building relationships, and building a more personal relationship, I would certainly agree that it is going to be instead of like, sort of, like, you know, the quantitative approach, really focus on the person approach, because naturally, you know, it’s always really hard to to pick up a customer or client in the first place, once once, once that’s happened, you can really nurture that relationship and and they’re more likely to, you know, to stay with you, and you can upsell to them, etc. But at the time of building a relationship, you know, because everybody’s selling, it’s a very competitive world, probably now more than ever, because of you know, that the challenges we’re experiencing. And so you really need to focus on a personal approach.

John Ball
Doing Okay, yeah, if anything, that’s all in all important, all great points as well. And I wouldn’t argue them what what has been the the relevance or importance of presenting and public speaking in relation to your business.

Jamie Martin
And so for me, to fold, as a sales trainer, you naturally need to develop your skills and communication skills. So you can really resonate to a different type of attendees to your workshops, or webinars or even employees or do is a you know, speaking in front of a larger audience. So for me, I have gone and got some, you know, additional training and speaking, because, you know, it’s something that I wanted to get better at, and is completely right to say that everyone needs to develop skills and some areas. But not only that, I feel like, you know, if you are a sales trainer, you really want to deliver conviction, and compelling information. And speaking will be able to help you to do that. webinars, for example, now in hosting more of a virtual space or using video competence, such as zoom or Microsoft Teams, it’s a different it’s a different world to sell in. And I know I think you’d mentioned it’d be in the show notes that I’ve written a video conference meetings, top tips to give areas for for anyone really building business relationships over video conferences, you know, we’re not in front of people at this moment. So it’s harder to read body language. And as we know, 93% is non verbal communication 55% of that being body language. So how can we utilise video conferencing, just to still end with our outcomes, our desired results, and if he was in a client pitch meeting your your obviously goal would be to convert them. So now we’re actually relying on more of the content we are speaking, or also the pitch and tone of our voice, which is, you know, a bigger than actually what we speak it’s only 7% verbal communication. And actually also, you know, using our facial features, so, you know, smiling, good eye contact, but think about you know, sometimes I do speak with clients and actually prefer to speak on the phone still, which is, you know, not not not surprising, they’re more auditory listeners. So on the phone, some techniques, I would say, a stand up, smile, you know, because then naturally, you’re more confident in how you speak with them. So really, you know, it’s just, it’s just a variety of, you know, using different techniques we have in our sales, what we’ve learned to portray that techniques to what is and I just just leave one last point on this section here, but No video messages, or even an auditory message on LinkedIn private message has actually proved quite useful now. And you know, sometimes I would, you know, go into a video and send that as a as part of a proposal to a client, because it really shows that personal touch. And not everyone maybe you know, understand. So when you’re getting the text from a friend, and they, they may split up the stakes a bit quicker in tech, so that, you know, sometimes written communication can be skewed or not portraying the emotional meaning we want it to. So if you can jump on a video, and you can record something for your client or your prospect, or you can send an audio message, think of how their learning style could really resonate that and actually help you join the iron journey.

John Ball
It’s interesting, I take the sort of Albert Mehrabian percentages of this with a pinch of salt, because most people misinterpret that. And that’s not really what what the study was about. But but I do think, you know, we do need to be aware to be able to work well with the different levels of different styles of communication, because I think it all matters. So when you’re limited in one particular sentence, you make up for it or ancient make up for it in others, like if if auditory is your only option. At first, when I first started coaching, phone coaching was really the only option. And because the internet wasn’t really good enough at that time to be able to do over voice protocols on the internet. And so everything was focused on that. And even now, I still do like Skype coaching without video with many of my clients. And I don’t feel limited by that in any way. But I am aware that I’m perhaps more focused in those particular times rather than on on my facial or postural things on my voice and my tonality, that does give me an opportunity to turn up a particular modality, perhaps in some ways, or at least have a bit more focus on it to improve the communication in those senses. And so, I think, we are finding now that we are having more and more opportunity to communicate in many different channels and many different styles. And it may be that for many people, it is better to find the channels that you feel you can communicate invest in that you’re most comfortable with. And then you will still connect with other people, we all have the I think we will have the ability to to enjoy audio or video just as much even if we’re in if we may feel more highly kinesthetic, or auditory did did so you know, we use all of these modalities, but we do have our own preferred styles. And I do personally think it’s more important that you work in the in the styles that you’re most comfortable with, rather than worry too much about why everyone else’s, because people will be able to adapt or to work with whatever you’re doing. If you are comfortable and working well with what you’re doing. So So for me, it’s that may be a bit of a different take on, on what you’re saying that but that’s all all relevant stuff, it’s all relevant stuff, then good to be considering.

Jamie Martin
Well, you know, I will, I will agree with you on the fact that first of all play to your strengths. So this is where personality and psychometric testing comes in, you know, if you really understand yourself, you know, what your likes are, what your dislikes are, your your personality traits, your characteristics, etc, etc, you know, then you can really kind of play to your strengths and anything that you know, you need develop areas off, you could either outsource that, or you could get some, you know, additional support with. And so I would say definitely play to your strengths. But then I suppose the other side of that, and there is a there is a few personality testing tests to help you and then also help develop relationships with others. You know, for example, you could be an introvert, but your your customer base could be extroverts. So you do need to be able to find a way of communicating with your with your target audience, you know, and it’s going to be different for every every single individual, every single business, but I think you you, you know, if you’re not playing to your strengths, then that’s when that’s when you’re probably best at selling if we’re talking about, you know, the selling environment here. So you can’t, you can’t necessarily, you know, change yourself too much. We can all adapt. But I do think you’re right, I think there’s an element needed there. I think you first of all need to understand who you’re selling to and make sure that you know, the messaging is clear for them. The communication style is clear for them. But then also, you know what, what you’re good at. So if we are talking about personality testing, for example, I know from the Myers Briggs, have you heard of the Myers Briggs?

John Ball
I have I’m pretty familiar with it. And I know it gets a lot of it goes well scrutinised as well. But yeah, it’s I find all of these things interesting.

Jamie Martin
well for for Myers Briggs, I know that I’m an INFJ. So that that does talk about introversion and judging and you know, traits of feelings. So that’s probably what the subcategories means. But overall, it means I’m a counsellor. So I really know a bit more about you know, how I am and what my strengths are. And you know, it says I’m compassionate and supportive so that naturally helps with with training and development and Anyway, but I think, you know, if you if you understand some of your personality traits, then it shows that you know, okay, so so maybe, how do I say this, like, you know, because sometimes you will hear the term a good and a bad customer. And now Nowadays, people don’t want to have a bad customer, because although there is money there, you know, effectively, you’re gonna, you’re probably still going to get a headache through the whole experience of it. So you know, maybe it is that you know, your, your target customers are people a bit more like you. And when I talk about, we mentioned this before, john, the personal approach, it might be that I’m not really gonna resonate with certain characteristics and traits to individuals like me, and then we’re naturally maybe going to build a quick and better rapport during the the prospecting stage. And they’ll see you know, my strengths, and they’ll all also understand the strengths, because they may have them as well. So that really could play to your advantage. And I suppose some experience I’ve had with psychometrics is when I was in the recruitment industry, during like, the senior level roles or hips, you know, second or third stage process, then, you know, some clients would opt to use the psychometric tests, and because they would really understand at that point, he would give some indicators, I mean, psychometric tests really are a more of a framework, you know, because there’s always going to be, you know, a set norm for a while, but there’s gonna be variables as well. And that it would give an indication of, you know, what, what their strengths are, and I think for maybe a leadership position is absolutely vital, because, depending on what operational side of the business are taken over, or department or the team existing, you know, if we were looking to replace the, or hire a new leadership member, then you know, you really got to make sure that they are going to gel with other members of in the business. So that will really give a good indication. And a couple of psychometric I will make aware are two people, there’s something called my role. So my role is actually very good. It’s more about working within a business. And it’s got several different behavioural modes to it. So we’re talking drive it energising analyse and organise them. And that’s really understanding, you know, as a leader, and within the team, so team differences, but also leader to, to employees, you know, the motivators, the behaviours, you know, how what, what your strengths are, what they’re like, and how you can really, you know, because when you’re, when you’re managing a team, you specifically a sales team, you go through the four stages of team development. So it starts with forming, storming, norming, storming, performing, basically. So during those stages, you know, if you’ve got the right team in the right positions, and, you know, they’re naturally bought into what you do, and you really understand what motivates them, and what drives them, then you can become a really high performance team. So that that’s basically the purpose of that disk. disk profiling is something similar. You know, and it’s got that bad day, but the dominance influence steadfast and compliance sections, and that’s also good internally, but also externally building relationships with, you know, customers or clients. And there’s, there’s, there’s colour, there’s various colour, psychometrics. So that’s, you know, also interesting to know about your cutter, I heard that one company, Food Network I was talking about, you know, actually had a colour code on their telephone system. So you would know who you were, what other people colours they were, as well, which is slightly interested. So would you tailor your behaviour, depending on who you’re speaking with? You know,

John Ball
I found I find these sorts of interesting, and, and I’m generally reluctant to put too much weight on them, because I think they can, they can offer you useful insights, that one of my concerns sometimes having worked in the personal development industry, in some of these groups, where we’ve given people these tests is that people, people just say, That’s me, that’s who I am. That’s what I am. And it’s like, well, it’s what you what you appeared to be today, or what the test is sort of indicating that you have tendencies towards more towards these things than other things. But you know, that certain psychometrics, you might take six months or a year later and be not completely different, but quite different, or some of the levels may change a bit. But maybe dominant features might still stay the same, sir. I mean, as as insights into things that might be helpful to you to understand how you best operate, and how to work with yourself, I think they can be really, really useful. And it’s great to get some feedback because I don’t think we’ve talked about this on my podcast at all before now. That my maione maybe advice or concern and this is to Don’t, don’t take it as your bad this is who I am, this is what I am. Okay, we can change we can evolve and take it as a Okay, this is this is some guidance as to holding a mirror up to yourself and saying these are these are things that are appearing for you. And you can choose it as your identity or you can say Oh, okay, there’s some things I maybe want to work on if I want to be more like this and to take care As as just a tool just as a reflection not as an identity in itself, which, which I worry that some people do too much with those things. But I’ve used certainly things like disk I find very interesting. And I think of metaprogramming dissertations, which you may have come across in NLP as well, which I worked with several companies and using things like that as a recruitment tool as well. Because again, it gives guidance and gives them some clues as to who’s going to stay or who’s gonna fit into the environment. And, and that’s what it’s clear, it’s not a complete that definition of who you are. But sometimes people say, No, this is me, and this is what I am. And this is everything about everything.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, I think you’re definitely right there. I mean, it’s a point in time that you’ve taken the the psychometrics. And you’ve got to bear that in mind, because people do change situations make people change as well. There is an interesting statistic, I did research about psychometrics. So the Gallup, which has a you know, I’ve done a few actually psychometric with them recently. But they they said that data data led companies are 23% more likely to acquire customers. So I do think, from the firmness, maybe like a scientific back of, you know, approach was a psychological background, you know, having data does help, it does provide, you know, some some evidence or some, you know, numerical statistics where, you know, it can guide you in the right direction. And, and I think, I think that I think it does hold its place, but I also think you’re right, you don’t want to just say that, you don’t want to kind of make excuses that because I am this, that’s the way I’m going to be We will also gonna be so malleable as well. And I think there’s something called neuro plasticity, which actually means that we Yes, we can actually, we can be we can change, I will actually leave the audience, you know, really useful website if they haven’t heard of this. So it’s actually called crystal nose. Have you heard of crystal nose? No. So well, as an action point for you, john, go ahead, go download it, if you’ve got Chrome, it basically aligns with LinkedIn, and what it does, people you’re speaking with on LinkedIn, it gives you an indication of their personality traits and characteristics. Obviously, it’s done from from, you know, from their process or their data, but it’s actually quite useful to know for example, you know, it can tell you a little bit about their likes, and dislikes maybe and if they are, say, you know, more trusting or whatever, because that’s really going to help if you are approaching someone, say, utilising social media, like LinkedIn, whether to engage or whether to, you know, to sort of, you know, do a private message, you know, how to communicate with them. So, yeah, there’s a really useful tool, actually. And I liked what you said, you know, we were talking about influencer, you know, child Dinis book, you know, absolutely fantastic. You mentioned earlier, there wasn’t, there wasn’t, it’s funny, because that was when, you know, not funny, haha, but it just goes to show, you know, how authority or people who are experts in that field can actually influence others. So there is a study, I remember in psychology milgrom 1963. Have you heard of that study? Yeah. Yeah. And it just shows how, you know, you can kind of shocks, right, yeah, the electric shocks. Well, I’m not saying anyone should do that at all. But how you can, you know, influence others, you know, in a position of authority to be able to distribute something like that. So. So, I think where we’re going with personality is, first of all, understand that everyone does have individual differences, and how we can use it to our advantage. And I think we mentioned at the start, so naturally, I was a bit of an introvert growing up, and now a sales trainer, you you need to be a bit more of an ambivert or an extrovert, an ambivert. Being between the two, I think you’re an ambivert. JOHN, is

John Ball
that right? or? Yeah, now and now I would describe myself as an ambivert I think there was a time when I wouldn’t very much said introvert, but yeah, we’ve moved the needle on that one.

Jamie Martin
So you know, now being a sales trainer where I you know, need to be speaking and presenting and, you know, in front of, you know, audiences or employees, you know, you really got to have that, that confidence about you. But, but you don’t have to be, you know, the socialist outgoing person ever, you can, you can just naturally demonstrate your, your credibility, prop your authenticity, and as long as your your values, your belief, your conviction is there, then you can be in a training position, or you can be a public speaker, so, we won’t look you won’t pigeonhole ourselves again, on, you know, if you will, what type of personality you are, but I think now more than ever, so, there are some famous people we’re talking Bill Gates marks, Mark Zuckerberg, JK Rowling, you know, various owners out there who basically were introverts and look at what they’ve created. They created, you know, empires, but you know, amazing, amazing things. Steven Spielberg also been another one. And I think during this time of the pandemic, the reason why I say my quote is personalities will thrive. If it’s going to have to condition extroverts who are naturally outgoing, sociable people who thrive on and their energy is from, you know, being in front with people in crowds of people, they’re going to have to now be a bit more isolated. So, so how can they adapt their skill set to still excel in what they’re good, but also likewise, introverts You know, this, this is a time where the The only thing hopefully, you know, from such you know, certain situations such as the, you know, Coronavirus, you know, moving forward, if new technology is created during this time from, from people who have the capability to do this, or you know, or medicine or, you know, that or science or whatever it may be, that can really help the human race and our lives moving forward. So, I suppose this time, you know, the introverts may excel in certain areas, you know, what’s your sort of thoughts on that, john, you know, how we go,

John Ball
I think that I think there are a unique strengths to both sides. And, and definitely, if you if you if you find yourself being an extreme extrovert, or an extreme introvert, and it would be a good idea, I think, to work on moving yourself more to the closer to the centre of somewhere circling around them to that, because I think we need both, we need to be able to cope well, in times of quiet and, and well by ourselves. And we need to meet email to restore ourselves with a bit of quiet time. But we also hopefully, can still do that in in more social situations as well and push ourselves out there, I think there’s a degree. And it may actually be easier for people who are more introvert to push themselves towards extrovert than the other way around. Because I think there’s more necessity for it. And necessity is a big driver, really, for people. And I think we’re in a situation now in the world where there really isn’t a choice but to be presenting in some way, whether it’s on video calls, which a lot of people saying they’re getting sick of it, it’s like, well, I think that people would get over it in time. Because I know, I know, for myself, most of my work for the last 10 years has been almost exclusively online, with video conferencing and things like that. And, and I never got sick of it, I never thought about it, because it for me, it was just freedom, it was allowing me to work from wherever I wanted to work from, it allowed me to leave the UK. And something that I’ve been able to improve on, I hope over that time as well. And get better at being able to give online presentations, run webinars have more energy, and focus on improving my own speaking skills, all these things, starting up my own podcasts, and things that have pushed me further towards that sort of where I would now describe myself as as an Viva, I’m quite happy to put myself on stage in front of people. And in fact, I actually look forward to and enjoy it now. And that was the stage where now could never have imagined myself being there before. There really is no choice. Now if you have your own business, or if you’re an operator, anyone to do well, in terms of any kind of corporate environment, I think you have to be able to present Well, you have to be able to speak and represent yourself well. And to be able to communicate effectively not just in the boardroom and presentations or to the company, but in your one on one communications in your evaluations with your with your staff and wherever else you have to do in terms of communication, these skills are really essential being able to do them online or in person. So many people that I’ve worked with having have had no real training in being able to communicate well in their business and about one particular guy which would last year had risen to a very high position in his in the company he was with at that time, and had never been trained on communication on leadership skills or anything like that he had started off as a mechanic risen up and was just doing his best muddling through. And so we were able to work on some really specific things that helped him present himself better communicate more clearly, I think it must have inspired him a lot because he went and started his own business and but you know, these seem you can see these kinds of things as being they were important before the the non optional now.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, and again, this is also an integral topic, if we’re talking about selling for the sales team, so it doesn’t you know, whether you’re a different person as you’re not and out to your customer, I don’t, you know, again, we talked about it, it may be a helps to know that that is about building relationships. And the way to do that really is to if communication is the key. So first of all, you know, first of all understand who your customers are is an absolute integral part of it, but how are you communicating with them? And you know, it’s it’s successful salespeople out there, you know, they don’t have to be the most extroverted, you know, people ever, you know, it’s just really about, you know, building the personalised relationships. But I think there’s also a bit of a mindset factor as well. So, you know, a lot of sales, individuals will, you know, maybe stop communicating or contact and a prospect, after a few attempts, maybe they feel, you know, internally that they certainly didn’t want to be bugging in which I quite understand. But you’ve also got to look at it from the other side, you know, it’s not that the customer, first of all might not have seen your message, they might just be busy, it’s not that they don’t want the service, they might just want it right now. So unless someone really says sort of, you know, I’m fine, I’m not interested, then there is opportunity to touch points with them, you know, via various channels, when appropriate. And that’s, that’s, that’s something I’d really do help the mindset with, you know, sales individuals with, and again, communication, you know, can help with that. So maybe you might be reading better at writing sort of compelling copy, or doing social media, marketing, whether it is that you’re better on the phone or video conferencing, and I think, you know, from a business capacity, so I was sort of training that a lead generator. And so he sort of approached me as an external sales trainer, you know, what, you know, great for me and great, he was wanting to develop his own growth mindset. And then, you know, because there wasn’t every single process available within the business. And I explained, you know, well, you know, I can sort of see the way you communicate over videoconferencing. Why don’t you you know, do video conferencing as part of your sales conversion, and it’s something that the business just you know, did, you know, you do at that point in time, so businesses have got to be sort of quite adaptable to say, actually, you know, first of all, understand the individual differences of everyone what their strengths are, and, you know, be be willing to give them, you know, that opportunity to do what they do best. And it might be that now, especially because we are embracing and working from home, or you know, or digital selling now, and using video conferencing, as you mentioned, a couple of times, you know, first of all, I say, training and development, sales training is absolutely a must, if you haven’t, if you’ve had limited experience, so you haven’t had that much experience. Because that, you know, there are various stages to a lead generation discovery call. And if you’re not kind of following a bit of a framework, you know, I Are you building a relationship and are you sort of controlling the call to a certain extent to end with a you know, an outcome, or at least you know, so the the the messages you are trying to communicate is clear to your prospect, because, again, prospects are going to be very busy with their time. And if you don’t, I think humans have an eight second attention span, which is one second lower than a goldfish, I’m sure there’s controversy of it on Google, but it just goes on what it is you’re focusing on, but very true, but you know, it realistic, you know, whatever is five to seven seconds for you to buy, which I ran out of material. So well, you know, our attention span isn’t, you know, is short, because it says it’s a very noisy world, especially in a digital world. So you really got to understand how to build relationships quickly, and and what sort of sales process to follow in your communication style, and the prospects to basically end with desired results?

John Ball
Yeah, I think the attention span stuff is more relevant, where you don’t have the relationship, I think, where you do where people are more hooked in, I think it’s less of an issue. Personally, I don’t have science to back that out. But that’s my, that’s my take from experience at least as well. So may or may not be true, I might have to look into it a bit more. But I like very much like what you were saying about past 90 being really important right now. And one of the things that I think it makes that because it makes a big connection, but I know there are people who may roll their eyes at hearing authenticity, and that around one more time or relationship marketing, everyone’s talking about it, it’s not me yet, but they’re talking about it for a reason. And how do you think people can best help present that personality online? What are some of the things that that we should be thinking about?

Jamie Martin
First of all, there’s something I teach in one of my workshops, and it’s about, it’s about you and your brands. So, you know, I mean, LinkedIn is commonly seen as a business, a business and more of a professional business related site. So you’ve really got to show your personality on there by you know, not just posting about, you know, the business all the time, you know, you can, you know, talk about other areas, maybe you’re involved within the community or within charity work, and if people really want to get to know you for the person you are. And also they’re gonna more likely remember you if you if you stand out in certain areas. So definitely, you know, I would say, you know, doing career in social media, marketing about some, something, you know, personal to you, you can certainly share news related articles or content or write an article, a lot of top tips article about something you’re passionate about. And then you can you can certainly demonstrate in the way you write and what your opinions are, your, your personality there. And but also, you know, you’ve got your LinkedIn company page, whether you’re a business owner or a part of the company, but your personal profile is about you. Certainly, you can write you know, text on or about what your company does. And when we are writing about things that it’s not just about the features, it’s really is about the benefits and the outcomes. And what your customers say about you is, you know, the most important because then it’s about a third party speaking about you and the service or products you provide And you sign it yourself, but, but on your personal profile, you know, put put some extracurricular activities or documents on there really give a bit of, you know, a flavour personality and also in the in the social media marketing and the copy you write, you know, yet authenticity means you know, you’re consistent. So as long as you you know, you portray a consistent message about your personal personality or about you know, the business you are promoting about the time, then then I think others will actually get at the message, you know, when when new relationships are formed, you are right about, you know, if someone’s already engaged, if it’s, if it’s an existing client, then naturally, I think you should just, you know, make sure you listen to them, during these times, you know, if they’re going through a difficult time, it’s not about selling or upselling, it’s about, you know, just just checking, they’re okay, you know, and something I really like is called random acts of kindness. So, you know, occasionally just do some really kind for them, whether it’s just, you know, sending them a gift for doing something engagement with them on social media, but for for new prospects, in which a lot of businesses are looking for new business nowadays, which is kind of what I specialise in. From my recruitment background, you know, breaking down doors effectively, not literally, but you know, because you might need to look for new industry sectors, so you’ve got to do a lot of research, you know, about the industry, how it operates, you know, what groups they’re in, what podcasts they listen to, are going to really identify the person you’re speaking with. But the more you demonstrate your personality, when you are identifying yourself with new relationships, the more they are likely to remember you. And to be honest, it is about being remembered in a sales capacity in a business capacity moves.

John Ball
But I think one of the one of the most challenging things, especially when maybe in the earlier days of doing something like that, is that without responsiveness without engagement from people, it’s hard to know how that’s being received. What what are some of the things that you might recommend people to do to try and turn up responsiveness?

Jamie Martin
Okay, so with engagement, like I said, it may not be that they don’t want your service right now, it may just be that they’re busy, or they haven’t seen your your message or your private message on LinkedIn, because not everybody does. So social media marketing and engaging is actually quite a good way of, you know, developing relationships. So you know, it’s been, it’s been, it’s been, you know, doing it in a professional credible way. So if you’d like to post that someone seen one of your prospects, you know, really do comment or share it, you know, to support their network, you know, if it’s an article, they returned, and then they know read it and engage with it, or whatever it may be that you actually kind of identify what your customer your prospects interests are, and you send them a link of interest, you know, you’re not selling at this point, you are literally just nurturing relationships. And the first few times, yes, it may not go anywhere, because like I said, it is a noisy place. But these different touchpoints, as I’ve kept kept mentioning, and when you’re using a cadence, so a series of activities in a strategic way to develop relationships, you know, it’s naturally going to, you know, help strengthen the engagement with a prospect, but it’s not maybe just that one person that you’re trying to do that with, you know, you kind of got to do a variety of things, whenever you’re in PR, whether you’re doing you know, your own marketing, whether you’re collaborating or you know, synergizing with others, you know, if you’re or whether you post them to groups that maybe your prospect is actually in, they really got to see that you are you are an expert within your field. And like to say we do we need to work various different hats, sometimes to, to portray an image about ourselves. But, you know, the more and, you know, I think the most powerful when we said know, like and trust when we’re talking about referrals, so referrals to me, because I think, you know, this is, you know, slightly we’re talking about reviews, but 92% of reviews said by TripAdvisor and G to source online, they talk about that, that convinces someone to buy, once they’ve read reviews, it’s the same with a referral, if someone introduces you via an email, or via telephone or video conference, whatever it may be, they’ve already demonstrated that they know like and trust you to refer you to that, that probably their customer or someone they know within the network anyway, so any referrals is really going to help businesses right now. And that’s the message I would get. There are some brilliant industries out there, due to the pandemic, you know, whether it’s technology, or whether it might be, you know, something to do with medical or pharmaceutical, you know, if you have connections, who can refer you out, that’s probably the best way to be introduced right now. Because, you know, it is a noisy place. Otherwise, do do the different various different touch points which are relevant to your customers. And like I said, it’s really not all about sudden, it’s about providing value, providing information, whether it’s a self help guide, or a link of interest, really do do something, you know, that’s going to benefit your prospect from effectively speaking and communicating with you.

John Ball
Yeah, it’s good. And one of the things that I found for helpful for getting more engagement on LinkedIn has been to be more engaged on LinkedIn with other people. And that has started up conversations and it means big By having more conversations with different people, they’re more likely to come and have a conversation on your posts as well. Which is great for engagement and for visibility as well. And so sometimes, but also putting out different types of posts as well, sometimes a text post, sometimes a video, sometimes an image post, and having happened some different things as well gets a gets different responses and different views. And say it’s been interested in that some of the highest responsiveness I get on LinkedIn particularly, is to purely text kind of messages that are put out there like a post that is all text rather than any kind of image or video attached to it is interesting, if you if you say that I think that the written word is still very powerful on our platform, I guess where many people are surfing at, they’re either working in a maybe in a shared space or somewhere where they’re not going to have the sound on that text engagement might be easier there. Whereas on other platforms, maybe not but but as not to the level of pods where you just go And like and comment on each other’s posts just to get the views, which I think is a bit dodgy. But to actually start building up your community and getting engagement with people, it can start with you. And I think it’s a really good, a really good strategy. And especially right now where you know, all the stuff we talked about today about relationship and being involved and engaged with people and like being known liked and trust, you can start that journey, don’t wait for anyone else to start it with you provide, you know, provide stuff that adds value to them, but provide comments or just ask questions will show that you care about people, it’s all really good stuff. And you can start doing that right now on on your social profiles.

Jamie Martin
Yeah, and I think you know, part of you sort of towards the end of this, I’d like to mention something that I’d like to leave as a final note, really, and you just literally said it, you know, there and this is this is one, this is one of my favourite habits from Stephen Covey’s highly seven highly effective habits of effective people. And basically, that is synergy. So synergy means, you know, to two heads are better than one. And, you know, effectively collaboration, collaboration means businesses working together. And they may be you know, completely different businesses that have come together now to support one another. But it’s a bit more than that. And, you know, when you mentioned about engaging with others, so reciprocity, so you know, if you if you naturally refer businesses to you know, customers, they feel that they would want to help your business as well. And I think collaboration is the key now more than ever, in a changing world, when, whenever, you know, whenever we’ve all had to step outside of our comfort zones, our personalities, be in adapt, adaptable, changing the way our sales process sales strategy and business operates. You know, it’s really now exploring those joint ventures, those collaborations and supporting the business community, whether that’s a local space, and that working group, or a global, you know, community, you know, like, such as LinkedIn, as we talked, you know, quite a bit about, it really is making sure that we can support the business community and, you know, continue, you know, that their business stay invisible during these times. And effectively, you know, that I’ve always said, synergy, you know, and, and that’s what’s helped me in my business, you asked me to start, you know, what did I do in my business, so immediately going to go into networking events, now you can go webinars and meet people all over the world. And if that’s my international relationships, I’ve been developed from video conferencing, because, you know, we’re able to do that more, and we are embracing change. So yeah, to the audience out there, you know, collaboration synergizing is definitely the key to, you know, Bing, you know, and continuing success.

John Ball
Yeah, certainly, I mean, the the the UK, particularly now is just officially in the time of recession, and many people are going to be panicking about that and, and thinking that there’s no opportunity or no hope for them and but know, what you say still applies, opportunity is still there. And working together with people collaborating and looking for those opportunities to find synergy and to, to grow and expand you that those are going to be great avenues to be exploring, and really, hopefully going to lead us to more positive business environments in the future and to greater success as well. I think that’s a great thing to be wrapping things up on today, that many people are going to want to know more about you because you’ve already shared some great insights, some resources and, and that we’ve put the links to some of the things you shared into the show notes as well. But if people want to just find out a bit more about you, what’s the best way to do that?

Jamie Martin
Yeah, I’m happy to for any, you know, questions and to build connections and relationships. This is what I really enjoy doing. So I’d probably say contact me on LinkedIn as Jamie Martin and you’ll see the BSc ons on there. My website is www. Correct curries coaching.com and my contact details are on there as well. But yes, the you know in the show notes, he will provide the top tips guide and some articles I’ve written. And, you know, I welcome building relationships with anyone who wants to find out more. And you know, again, build synergy, really. Thank you very much. Thanks for having me today. JOHN. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you. We’ve covered loads of areas of interests and insights and hope you want to join us in into it.

John Ball
It’s been a great conversation. Thank you for your time today, and we’ll stay connected in the future. Thanks.

Jamie Martin
Thanks. Thanks, John.

John Ball
Hey, hope you enjoyed the show. Remember to hit the subscribe button for an apple podcast leave us a review. why not check out a free copy of my new ebook the five key beliefs of bulletproof business speakers available free on present influence.com Join us next week when I’ll be speaking about disability access in relation to media and presentation and training events. with disability expert and accessibility expert Ese Hardy, we had a great conversation and this is a really important area for anyone who’s in speaking and training and presenting to know about and understand because there is potentially a whole segment of your audience who are missing out because you’re not serving them if you’re not meeting disability access needs for them. Join us for that show and many more to come. Make sure you like us, subscribe to the show. See you next time.

Women In The Lead with guest Lillian Ogbogoh

This week my guest is professional speaker, corporate trainer and NLP practitioner Lillian Ogbogoh. In our fascinating chat, we talked about overcoming fears to get up and speak in public, women in leadership and training, mythological archetypes as a tool for understanding ourselves and for telling powerful stories and much more besides.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to this chat as much as I enjoyed having it. If you’d like to find out more about Lillian, you can check out her website https://www.lillianogbogoh.com/ 

Next week I will be speaking with sales trainer and speaker Jamie Martin about improving your sales and how you show up in your business. Don’t miss it.

While you’re here, grab a copy of my new ebook ‘The 5 Key Beliefs of Bulletproof Business Speakers‘ FREE!

The Lowdown on Linked In with guest Mark Williams

I’ve had a few Linked In Specialists as guests on my show and I invited Mark Williams on because he’s a Linked In trainer who also has a podcast about Linked In and making it work for you and your business. Mark is one of only 4 LinkedIn Trainers in the world to be certified by LinkedIn.

As you can imagine, I had some questions and I am happy to tell you, he has some great answers. I bumped the release of this episode up, as so much of the content is pertinent and time relevant and I want you to be able to take advantage of everything he shared.

We discussed how to use LinkedIn to gain more bookings as a professional speaker, profile tips for speakers, working with the algorithm to improve your relevance
and posting and engagement techniques for results.

Of course, you could also subscribe to Mark’s podcast Linked Informed to stay fully informed and up to date, which I have done myself.

You can check out Mark’s website here and, of course, connect on Linked In if you like.

Mark’s book recommendation was ‘The Go-Giver’ by Bob Burg, which I agree is a great recommendation.

If you’re in a reading mood, why not download a copy of my new free ebook from my website Present Influence. It’s called ‘The 5 Key Beliefs of Bulletproof Speakers’ and it will help you understand and install beliefs that usually take years of experience to obtain.

Becoming A World Champion Speaker with guest Darren Lacroix

Remember to like and subscribe. Leave a review on Apple podcasts and let me know if you enjoyed the show.

I entered the World Championship of Public Speaking in 2019 and lost in the second round. When I lost, I realised I still had room to improve and grow and Darren Lacroix was the person who helped me to start doing that and taking my speaking to a level I had not previously realised existed.

Darren Lacroix won the 2001 world championship of public speaking with his hilarious talk ‘Ouch’, which is well worth a watch. In this episode, we discussed what it takes to become a world championship-winning speaker and the most important elements to work on if you want to be a champion yourself or just want to be a better, more engaging, more humourous and expert level speaker.

We discussed this year’s world championship, being the first one ever fully online and the winning speech for 2020 from Mike Carr and what the main differences were between presenting virtually and presenting live.

Darren has his own online courses and programs which I have been through myself with his Stage Time University. I highly recommend you check it out and learn not just from Darren but from his mentor and co-trainer Mark Brown and world-renowned speaking trainer Patricia Fripp. You can also check out his podcast with Mark Brown for free here.

Transcript

John Ball
Welcome to the speaking of influence podcast with virtual business speaker presentation skills and influence Coach John Ball. Remember to like and subscribe.

The speaking of influence podcast is uploaded and distributed using Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout makes it really easy to get your podcast started and out to a wide audience with lots of tips and useful tools to help you on your way. If you’re interested, check the link in the show notes and start your podcast today.

Welcome to the show today, I am very happy to have with me a guest who I have learned so much from over my years. He is at the top of the heap in the world of Toastmasters, and certainly someone who has a lot of value to share. And I’ve been very much looking forward to having him on the show. I’m very grateful that he’s agreed he won the Toastmasters World Championship of public speaking in 2001. He has a whole series of online courses and programmes as well as his own podcast show, and is an amazing guy to learn from. I can say from my own experience, please welcome to the show, Darren Lacroix.

Darren Lacroix
Hey, thanks. Thanks for having me here.

John Ball
I’m really, really pleased to be speaking to you there. And just I mean, I shared on my show before and I’ll share it here again. Now, the reason why I first came to even know about you was after having having a bit of a failure in a competition that I thought I was gonna win and coming away with that sort of analysing as in Where did I go wrong? And what could I have done differently? And then something in? Clearly, I don’t know, as much as I thought I know that maybe there’s maybe there’s some space for growth and development here. And somebody recommends that I check out your website, which I did, and realised right away that there was a lot of stuff that I didn’t know, and and I signed up for your online courses right away. So that’s where I first came to know about you. And I have to say that those those programmes have been really, really helpful to me.

Darren Lacroix
Thank you. Thank you. Well, you’re not alone. Because I was in the same boat in 2001. Before I met Mark Brown who coached me I really my ego was in my way, but I didn’t know and I think that’s what as you know, that’s one of my key messages be a sponge. Yes, sponge. We’re never done learning. And as soon as we think we’re good, and I should have won that like, nope, there’s another lesson to be learned and I love… Do you know who Steven Tyler is?

John Ball
The lead singer from the I’m gonna forget the name of the band now… Aerosmith.

Darren Lacroix
So I’m a Boston guy. So I grew up in Boston area. But he was one of the judges. I think it was America’s America’s Got Talent or American Idol. I don’t remember. Anyway, he was one of the judges. And he was being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. And it was a video I came across and I was just fascinated. And he said when I was a judge that goes American Idol. He said when I was a judge on American Idol, when I told people you weren’t the American Idol and sent them home, basically, he said, I wasn’t saying you’ll never be the American Idol. He was saying today. You’re not the American Idol yet. And he said it broke my heart because he said a lot of the people who he was in front of and or was in front of him. They were so talented. They were more talented than he was when he started. But people would take it so personally, and they would just it would just be a blow and you could see them just giving up completely. He’s like, No, you just need to go back to the clubs and learn a few more lessons. And I love the idea because he’s talking about like nightclubs playing bands. For me in the Toastmaster world, it was like you need to go back to the club and learn a few more lessons. But I think one of the challenges is I love Toastmasters. I’m still a member today I will be for the rest of my life because not just what it did for my speaking but what it did for my own self confidence. But I think one of the challenges it’s designed to help people get become confident. It’s not designed to make them world class. And I think that’s a mistake that some Toastmasters don’t see. Again, nothing wrong with that. It’s still awesome. It’s amazing to get up and become competent. But I needed that world class advice from Mark brown when he held up a mirror when I think you might know the story. But if you’re listening and don’t know, it was so excited. In the speech contest. There’s six levels and I had won the fifth level. I was going to World Championship when I met Mark Brown. So I had some competence. I had been a speaker for seven years, I was in for Toastmaster clubs, and I was the king of the club because no one could give me feedback. So that’s why my ego got big and I drove two and a half hours to work with my coach. Mark Brown. And at that level, I had to write a brand new speech from scratch. And I really didn’t know is trial and error, my whole career, just one keynote speech and little comedy bits. But anyway, I wrote this brand new speech from his advice, but I didn’t send it to him ahead of time, because I wanted to see the joy on his face when he saw how talented I was. And, Mark, if you don’t know Mark Brown, he stands about six foot two. He’s a native of Jamaica, he’s got this beautiful booming laugh, like the guy from the Old Seven up commercial. Oh, well, that was my coach. I remember standing there in the meeting room in Reader’s Digest New York, I drove from Boston to New York, two and a half hours. And I handed mark the greatest speech in the history of Toastmasters. And I couldn’t wait to see his reaction. And when Mark got the speech, he looked at it. Oh Darren, we have some work to do. Everything you told me to do, I wrote the greatest speech that I could write from the level and the knowledge that I had. And John, I got a very valuable life changing message in that moment. And he, what I learned was, if you’re not coachable, there is no cure. If you’re not coachable, there is no cure, if you’re listening is that you want to be a professional speaker? Well, are you surrounding yourself with people who are where you want to be? Because if you’re surrounding yourself with other people at the same level, you’re not going to grow. And I remember listening to Brian Tracy and Tony Robbins, in my car, I was a sponge, at the beginning of my career when I was eager, and knew that I didn’t know the challenge became when I got a little confidence. And then I thought I was, you know, I thought I was the thing. I was not the thing. And if you ever think you’re the thing, you’re sliding down my my friend and mentor,

John Ball
yeah, I can I can relate to your stories I won’t speak of in my own Toastmasters club, you know, people, people dread volunteering to give me feedback on my speeches, but for similar reasons. And yeah, it does start making thing and I feel like I’m at the top of the heap here. And I’m actually I look back, and I’m really grateful for that whole experience, because what I can start learning from you has already taken to a much higher level than I even knew existed. And, and also really reinforce the message that there’s always somewhere to go, there’s always somewhere higher to move to and further down in your development.

Darren Lacroix
Amen. Preach it brother, my, my one of my mentors, his name is Mike Rayburn. He said, the only way you can coast is downhill.

John Ball
Right? Which is really good. Yeah, there’s another you have a lot of expressions that you use in your stuff. And one of the ones that that relates to the title of what you talked about, right? stays never turned down stage time. And yeah, there’s a story you tell about you did like a stand up comedy and stuff for a while. Right. And so you had a coach and mentor in that in that world as well. And if I might, that’s what he used to say to you.

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, we were it was the story that I tell is about a year and a half into my comedy career. I was working really hard. And he had taught me stage time never turned down the stage time. His name was Vinnie, and we’re in the back of a comedy club. And I had beginning you know, in five minutes, I could maybe get four or five little laughs It wasn’t much. But from where I started, it was great progress. Now, I’ve been doing this a year and a half, driving a comedy clubs. Every weekend, whenever there was a place that I could go and sit and learn, or go do it. I was taking classes, I was reading the books and this guy goes up for his very first night. I’m sitting in the back of the club next to my mentor, Vinnie. And this guy goes up his very first night, and he just crushes it. He is so funny. It’s his first night. And I am thinking about it. His first night. I’ve been struggling for a year and a half. And I was just disgusted. And I turned him and I said, you know, how do you know who’s gonna make it? Like, am I wasting my time is what I was saying, How do you know who’s gonna make it? And he said something brilliant. He said, That’s easy. Whoever keeps going, right? Or keeps going. That’s simple. And then he said, Look, you’ve been taking that stage time thing to heart. I like that. I see you working really hard. I’m going to give you five minutes of stage time wherever I play. Now, that was huge. Because he is playing real comedy shows. I’m only doing open mic nights, amateur nights in the back of a bowling alley at a bar with six people in the audience. So this was like a real club with like 200 people laughing drinking have a good time. That’s awesome. But then he Look me dead in the eyes, he said, but if you ever, ever turned down stage time, I will never help you again. And that’s when the switch in my head happened. And it you know, I never looked at it I lived in the fear that Vinnie would find out, which was a great fear, because it got me to do what I was afraid to do. It gave me courage. Yeah, time when fear is good.

John Ball
Oh, yeah, exactly. But is that whole motivation now guys conversation often often find myself having all the understanding that while some people do have a natural talent for, for getting up on stage or for being funny, and it’s nearly always the people who work hardest, who will succeed and, and sometimes having the natural talent could be a disadvantage in the long run. Because you get to that thing of coasting thinking you don’t have to work so hard. And the people who are working, working their butts off, they’re gonna overtake you.

Darren Lacroix
Mm hmm, exactly.

John Ball
So I really I love those principles, and I’ve really taken them to heart. And that I feel that I on my show, I’ve had a lot of professional comedians recently, as well as some very humorous speakers too. So it’s been interesting to talk about humour in relation to presentations and public speaking. But it’s great to talk to people like yourself who kind of straddled both, both those worlds? What What do you see as being maybe the differences or commonalities between stand up and public speaking?

Darren Lacroix
Well, definitely courage, definitely improv the ability to adapt. One of the things that I teach speakers, no matter what, take an improv class, because it’s one of the core elements of presence. It’s one of the core elements to adapt If this happens, or that happens. And for those of you who’ve never been in the theatre world, and you take an improv class, there are going to be some wacky exercises and you’re going to think, what does this have to do? Do it Have fun, do it playful out? Some people, many people don’t know this, john. But before I wanted to be a comedian, I was actually dreaming of being an actor. And I actually started out in an improv wedding show, before stand up or rate have been right when I was starting. So as in an improv wedding show. So I got married three times a week. And I was a shy, I would even call myself a hyper introvert. I just that was part of the thing. I wanted to be on that stage. But I had no reason to be there. I was the quiet shy kid. So improv gave me that permission to be other characters to work it out to find myself to find my voice. So if you really want to own the stage, I would highly recommend taking an improv class. Yeah.

John Ball
I think that’s great, great advice. Now, I talked with a few of my guests before on the shower back in problem and few of them have specialised in that as well. And, and certainly has a huge amount of value when one who’s looking to do speaking, in your experience that how important Would you say that public speaking or speaking on platform virtual speaking these days is professional people?

Darren Lacroix
Well, I think for any business owner or executive, I just think it’s the critical skill, it’s the it factor, if you will, to have that ability to say something concisely, and interesting. And I think one of the cores of that is storytelling, having that ability to tell a story, a client story, but it’s not just here’s facts that happen. It’s telling in an emotional way that compels the audience to root for the character to become a part of the story. So it’s not just me telling the story. It’s us working out the story together, me maybe speaking it, but you feeling it and being with us. There’s a great book, I didn’t write it. There’s a great book that I recommend called Building your story brand by Donald Miller. And I highly recommend that for any business person, whether you want to be a speaker or not, whether you use speaking and presenting, but I just is the only audible. I’m an audible guy because I’m dyslexic, like, reading is painful to me. And if I really liked a book, I listened to it a second time. This is a book I’ve listened to no exaggeration, over 10 times. It’s just brilliant. And Donald Miller just has this way of taking business and connecting it to storytelling. I think every executive should at least understand even if you don’t do it, but if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to present in any way, it’s our ability to tell that story, have that lesson embedded in the story, but telling it in an intriguing way, the challenges just like when we started off the podcast, we’re talking about ego. Everyone thinks they’re a good storyteller because they got a couple of stories. Maybe their friends laugh at, okay, but does a stranger get compelled, leaning in and listening and wanting to hear it and then at the end, get that transformation and see how it’s relevant to me or my business or my company, and why I should learn more from you. I want my right on my website, it says boring loses business. We’ve got to be interesting, especially with this, you know, worldwide challenge right now, if you don’t stand out, you’re out of business. And I have a one of my phrases is old school needs a little new school, or you’re going to be out of school.

John Ball
Yeah, absolutely. Donald Miller’s book has been one of my one of my favourite reads this year. And then I came across it and I must like it. So I tend to prefer audiobooks, mainly because I can get through them a lot quicker. And we’ll walk I’ll listen on usually on double speed. And then in the gym, walking around driving in the car, I can have legit boots on and they’re great. But again, like I’ve also and it’s good stuff, I will listen to two or three times and and that is one of the ones have already had to listen to. And wrapped at the moment. Just today I started marketing Made Simple by…

Darren Lacroix
Ah yes, I have that in my in my bedroom. That’s the I’ve started it. I haven’t finished it yet. But that’s next on my agenda actually got the physical copy of that one.

John Ball
Yeah, I’m glad you mentioned storytelling, because I think that was the first programme of yours that I actually took on your online courses. And I got a lot from that I thought much I thought I was pretty good at telling stories. And then I got a lot, oh, maybe I’m not so great at telling stories I can do okay, telling no relaying an adventure or telling a story to my friends and things like that, that doing that from a stage or from even from a virtual platform is a very different, very different thing altogether. And so what what do you think for people who want to improve their storytelling, some of the key elements you could share to help people, maybe just this thing state start improving their stories?

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, be become a student of storytelling. If you’re an executive, you know, take part of this year, become a student of storytelling. And here’s a challenge for your listeners, go to your best friends. And ask them honestly, on a scale of one to 10, how good of a storyteller Am I your best friend who will be honest with you? And unless they’re saying nine and 10, every person you ask, okay, there’s room for improvement, but it’s gonna affect your communication. And so, first storytelling, I think one of the reasons like you said, you can tell an adventure, and it could be good and interesting to your friends. But an adventure is not gonna bring you business. It’s that relevance. It’s the transformation of the character. So you ask for a couple of tips. One of them is that the character must be relatable to your potential client or customer or internal coworker. Okay, if you’re trying to get a point across, they must emotionally relate to the character at the beginning of the story, there needs to be a transformation in the middle, like, what was that revelation? Was that the system was your business was your customer service? And then on the other side, how is the character change? So literally, you know, college storyboarding? What are the five basic plot points again, Donald Miller’s book is great. Another great book by Kindra Hall, Stories That Stick put that on your list if you haven’t read that one yet. But that’s another great one. And she talks about the three parts of a story, you know, the beginning the explosion, and then the, I don’t remember the term she puts on it. So number one, understand the purpose of the story get clear of the story. Another one that I’ve never really heard taught, but what’s that foundational phrase we call it? That is the lesson of the story. And 10 words or fewer, that has rhythm doesn’t have to rhyme but has rhythm to it, that that person will take away Let’s just say go back to their company or their other friends and who are also potential clients and retell that story and even if they don’t remember the story perfectly, they remember that line. You know, for me, you ask Toastmasters around the world anywhere in the world. If anyone’s ever heard of me what’s Darren about stage time stage time stage I’m because that one core that I want them to get through is unless you get on stage you know, my mentor said any day that you don’t get on stage is that they that you don’t grow. It do. We do weekly coaching calls in stage time university where we give people coaching feedback were to World Class coaches last night, we had a call. We had three people who’ve been through programmes. And one of the biggest challenges is they tell their story is in narration. narration is past tense. This happened back then. Okay, if it’s past tense, if it’s narration, we’re not, we’re less emotionally connected to that story, and in the now reliving it with you. So you need to tell it in the now and tell it in dialogue. Dialogue is the key to the power of storytelling, telling your stories and dialogue. When I first joined the championship level speech contest, I thought I was pretty good at stories. I was very animated, but not really saying anything, and not as nearly as strategic as I wanted to. And I was struggling because I had a day job and one of my other comedy mentors, his name was Dave, Dave said, Darren, stop trying to find the stories that will launch your career. And instead, take the stories you already have, and make them so good. Someone will pay to hear them.

And that was a revelation. I just thought, here’s the story. Let me just tell it, and maybe I can make it a little tighter or something. But let me just tell it, and it’s like if you’re missing the crucial elements, so I got what he was saying, but I ignored his advice for two years. Do not ignore this advice. Find a way find a model find somebody to follow Donald Miller’s book, one of my programmes, whoever it is. So in 2001, I joined the speech contest for one reason and that one reason was to look at my keynote speech, okay, I still had a day job. I was a telemarketer for Bose Corporation. That was my day job, my waiter job as I pursued my career. And sitting at my desk, I was marketing myself, every waking moment, I wasn’t working my day job, I was speaking every time I could for free or for a fee, whatever. The one thing I wasn’t doing was working on my craft. And so Dave’s advice rung through my head, he ended up passing away and just that, but that, quote, make them so good. Someone will pay to hear them. Well, for you listening to this, if you have a business make your story so good. It attracts more business. Yeah, at it that way. And so the speech contest came around. And I thought, well, if it’s a competition, what I could do is pull one of my stories out of my keynote, and give it a seven minute Toastmaster open and close and work on it, work on it work on it with my whole goal to make that story better, to then put it back in my keynote speech and an improved format. And you probably you know, Craig Valentine, he said, if you want a masterpiece, you have to master the pieces. And so I joined the contest not to win, but to improve the stories so I could improve the value of my keynote speech. And when I met Mark brown that that moment, he looked at my speech. And you know, people ask, Well, what did what did he see? Well, he could see I was telling my stories and narration past tense. And so for example, one of the quote unquote moments or mini stories of my speech was going home to tell my parents I wanted to be a comedian. So in my version, version, 1.0, handing it to mark, it sounded like this. So I went home to tell my parents or wanted to be a comedian. They were speechless. They didn’t know what to say. Interesting. But then mark had me turned it into dialogue, present tense, same story, same exact story. But instead it sounded like, so I walked into the house nervous, I walked up to my parents, Mom, Dad, I want to be a comedian. I was met by silence. Ouch. And so it’s much more especially in the context of the speech, or obviously we’re out of context, but it’s much more engaging and intriguing. When it’s dialogue. When we feel my energy and excitement, I finally figured out my dream, what I want to do in my life, and then my parents don’t say anything, because I was the quiet shy kid. So conflict is also much more apparent in the story. And great stories have great conflict. I mean, every movie is based on conflict. What’s between the main hero the character and their goal? Well conflict, that’s what makes it Ooh, how are they going to do it? anyway?

John Ball
Now I’m definitely gonna put a link to your to winning speech in the show notes because I think everyone should go and check it out. It’s a great speech. It’s really funny. I’ve watched it many, many times. I’ve had it because one of your programmes analyse it takes it apart as well, and really sort of shows how you built it and why some bits of it worked and how likely somebody Before that you had to work on and improve. So it’s well worth checking that out to see how you go about creating a masterpiece just for that, do you ever get people in your own coaching or workshops who are having the dialogue more likely? And again, I was like, and he was like, and then she was like the come across that much because like, I have a few times. It’s interesting.

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, the like, is is very unprofessional. In fact, I get called out on it. myself. And when I go through my own podcast, I have to edit out all the likes are as many as possible. Just to make it like less like, like, like, yeah, the other one of my other pet peeves is you guys, you guys, you guys. Okay, well, you know, john, whether principles we teach is speak like you’re talking to one person, speak to one look to all meaning the language have a one on one conversation? How would you say it to someone over coffee? How would you say to someone you would never be with one person having coffee and saying, you guys, like that would be weird? Like, what are you talking about? So I think it’s that connection. Again, if you’re a business, professional and entrepreneur running a business, you’re communication is the it factor? It’s the everything. It’s behind what you know, and getting that across to other people who may not have the same thought process or the same perspective that you do. So I think it’s critical, critical in business.

John Ball
Yeah. Well, one of the pieces of advice, I think I came across it the first time from you that really just made so much sense and has continued to, and I have heard it from from more people, since as well is about making sure that what you are presenting as a conversation, then you are actually carrying on that having that one to one conversation, but you’re also giving time for people to respond to have the kind of responses that they would have if you were sat down having a coffee with them. But obviously, hopefully, they’re not having talking back to you whilst you’re giving a presentation. But you still need to give them some time for their brain to process and to act as if you were.

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, the I always say I always ask when I’m doing webinars and things, what’s the most important part of a presentation. And some people say the opening the message, the audience, the closing your call to action, and they’re all important, but you just nailed it. The most important part of the most important part of our presentation is the thought process. In the listeners mind. It’s not your opening, it’s how your opening affects our thoughts. It’s not your message. It’s how your message affects our thoughts. And so like you’re saying a lot of people, we need to be conversational, but we’re having a conversation with that little voice in their head. And that is critical, that little voice in their head, if we don’t take time to pause, and let them think We’re shutting off that little voice in their head, which is rude, which we would never do in a one on one convert mouth. Some people do. But never step on someone’s thoughts. I call it because it’s rude. Well, if we want a connection, we can’t connect without them thinking about what we say. So like, you’re saying, We’ve got to let them absorb that, to go with us on that journey and feel connected to us. So understanding not just what we say, but how they process what we say.

John Ball
So coming back around to the storytelling stuff. The I was fortunate enough. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this guy. But it’s fortunate fortunate enough to have as a guest, someone who, when I carried on Mike’s story, learning storytelling journey from what I learned from you, I found a book called story worthy by a guy called Matthew Dix. If you haven’t haven’t come across him, I highly recommend check checking out he is multiple winner of the MOS story slam the, like 38 times and he’s won. like six times. He is an incredible storyteller. And one of the things that I really took away from that relates a lot to what you’re saying about doesn’t have to be the most amazing or no world world winning story. And some of his most powerful stories are just mundane life events that have had a moment of transformation or realisation in them. And that those are often those are the ones he prefers because those are the ones that people can relate to. You far better off rather than saying your amazing adventure of where you were scuba diving and you came face to face with a shark or something like that, instead telling a story that most people probably haven’t done that experience. So but sitting around the breakfast table, having a conversation or folding the laundry or something happens in those kinds of moments people can relate to because the more common experiences or at least if they can’t relate directly to it. They can say, well, that’s something that’s quite reasonable and quite light happened to anybody. And but that’s where that’s where storytelling can be really powerful. And so and that’s why I come back to that, because it just relates so much to what you’re saying about don’t go for like the the top award winning story that’s going to change, you change your career or anything like that just go for telling amazing stories, because the stories that someone like that someone like Matthew tells just captivating and some of them will search just about his daily life as in one just about walking his dog in the rain and things that you don’t wouldn’t necessarily think that’s going to be an interesting or exciting story. But you will get you will get something from that and and you get pulled in to to the story in the conversation, I think that’s a really important part of it is the being pulled into the story.

Darren Lacroix
Absolutely. And a lot of times very simple personal stories can make very powerful business points.

John Ball
It’s, it’s been interesting for me to see how in the world of business storytelling has become such a huge thing I know, I’ve already been doing work myself with some people in helping them with their, with their business stories as well with their own presentation and, and business stories. And why do you think it is become such a big thing in the world of business

Darren Lacroix
now? Well, partially, I just think it’s like, it’s time. You know, everything comes and goes in waves. And I think we’re writing the story wave. And next year, two years from now, it might still be used, but not the top thing. Everyone’s talking, excuse me, not the top thing that everyone is talking about. So I just think it’s just the hot topic, but I just think it’s so relevant. That’s why the wave is long. And I think it’ll never go away something else might, you know, come Top of Mind and news, some new technique or artificial intelligence, you know, obviously, those are high tech things. But I think the basis of storytelling, you know, goes back to the basis of language. So I think it’s just prominent now, I think it will always be relevant. And just think it’s more prominent now, especially like Donald Miller’s book, kyndra, halls book, a lot of these books that are coming out other bestsellers, while there’s a lot of, you know, advertising and things behind it, the books are so good, it gets people to rethink. And then as a result of applying these things, people get great success, well, then people are talking about that success to their other co workers, or co founders or other friendly entrepreneurs that we have in our life. So we’re telling our story, and then goes back. So I just think, you know, when a great teacher is there, and there’s several out there now, it just, it’s going to perpetuate. So I just think it’s relevant to the bottom line. And it’s simple. Rather than, you know, it’s easier to write a great story than it is to write compelling copy. A great story is compelling copy. So I think it’s also it’s more a simpler form. And I think because long copy had its day, you know, 1020 years ago, now, people want simpler, shorter, faster, and a story can fit in that. Yeah. And it’s a very powerful teaching tool as well. We’ve used forever to teach. Yep. Whether you’re religious or not. Jesus was one of the greatest salesmen they called him. Because, you know, what did he do? He taught simple things in parables, you know, and complex things in parables in a simple format. Why? So we could understand it. So if somebody doesn’t understand how you can help them in business, they’re not going to do business with you. So I just think it’s a natural for business.

John Ball
Yeah. What other aspects are presentation and public speaking are important?

Darren Lacroix
I think delivery and confidence, you know, we we do business with people we like, but if they don’t have that confidence, we don’t think they believe in their own product or what they’re doing. So that comes through sign delivery, whether it’s live or online. You can hear it in somebody’s voice, their energy and their enthusiasm, their passion, their their love of their company, their business or what they do. So I think that enthusiasm is kind of the underlying second it factor, if you will, it just gets that point across that look, I love what I do, hey, you can do business with me or not. But I love and I want to work with people who love what they do. Who doesn’t? You know, I hired a Facebook ad agency and they were they were awesome. I enjoyed working with it. They were fun. They knew their stuff. And then I started working with somebody else and it was a whole different experience because Their passion, their enthusiasm, they were saying the right things, but they weren’t saying it with good intention. They weren’t saying it with that helpful intention. So I think that is one of the underlying keys is, let us feel your intention.

John Ball
Yeah, definitely. You are part of a very exclusive group in the Toastmasters world of accredited speakers. What What does it mean to be an accredited speaker?

Darren Lacroix
Well, I’m part of two speaking organisations, both of them since 1994. NSA, the National Speakers Association, other where in the world it might be called professional PSA, but, and Toastmasters. And both of them have professional speaking designation. So I’m actually the only speaker right now at the moment of this recording that is an accredited speaker, a certified speaking professional and a world champion. But honestly, they’re letters after my name, but I’m a huge fan of the philosophy of Jim Rohn. If you don’t know Jim Rohn, look him up. He was Tony Robbins, his mentor, brilliant man. And he said, make it a goal to become a millionaire, not for the money, but for the person that makes you. So even though as a professional speaker, being a Toastmaster, I was challenged to go for the accredited speakers. So the accredited speaker is, you’re being accredited by the Toastmasters organisation, that you are professional, that there’s you have to have a list of business clients, past clients that you’ve spoken for, they have to fill out an application and survey, you have to then perform a part of your speech or 20 minutes of your speech in front of a live audience, this your virtual audience in order to quote unquote, become accredited, so you got to prove your value that you’re worth. And so I did it, I dove into the process, thinking of what Jim Rohn said, and no one’s hired me because of the letters after my name. But let me tell you, when you go through the programme, it sharpens your, you sharpen your craft, you sharpen your business, and I actually got business just by reaching back out to my old clients asking them to fill out that survey, duh, I should be reaching out to my old client anyway. So it’s an accredited speaker means you’re a professional speaker designated by Toastmasters. So it’s a process we go through. But again, no one’s hired me because of the letters after my name. No one’s hired me because of that trophy back there. But because I went for them, it sharpened to my craft. And as a result, the Speaker I became, that’s why they want me because I have the ability to communicate my message from a stage live or virtually. And so don’t go for the letters after your name go for who it helps you create who you become

John Ball
a bank. Yeah, great. I really like that I have come across Jim Rohn. For that I haven’t listened to any of his stuff for for quite a few years. But definitely he is an incredible guy. And I think I even just have that I found a recording of him. And originally I was listening to him and Zig Ziglar before no before some of the guys who can’t know both of them really good stuff around sales and development and stuff. And in terms of some of the people who are watching, listening may be looking or on a path of wanting to get paid for their speaking. And there’s a big difference between just getting on stage and speaking or going to a Toastmasters club and actually getting paid through. Is there any advice you can give for anyone who’s looking to make that transition to getting paid to speak?

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, just like we said right at the beginning go to people who are where you want to be and be a sponge? You know, find the people who are the great teachers? Yes, I teach it but I’m not the only one. You know, I you can check out public speaking business comm public speaking business comm where I have all the programmes I’ve ever created one of them trademark get paid to speak by next week. And I took all my programmes I used to sell CDs and DVDs and put them online so people can access them that way. And we have two mentoring calls every month with me and my marketing mentor. But truly, you’ve got to figure out what’s your message? Who’s your audience? And how do they know about you? Like sometimes if you’ve ever seen a paid speaker before, and you thought, hmm, I’m better than that person. You might be 1,000,000,000%. Right. Here’s the challenge. When the meeting planner was making the decision, they looked at their budget, they looked at their timeframe, and this person was the best opportunity for them to help their audience. So if they knew about that person and he didn’t know and they don’t know About you doesn’t matter how good you are, if they’re not aware. So step one is awareness, you know, social media. And yeah, there’s some people who are killing it on social media. That’s the exception. For most of us, we’ve got to get clear on our message, get clear on who needs that. So what problem that we solve? Who needs that problem solved? And how do we get in front of them? Don’t overcomplicate it, Alan Weiss, one of my business mentors, says you don’t need 5000 people to you know, come to you and be aware of you, you need the right 500. And so I think it’s a process and it’s not easy. If it’s a dream that you want to do it quickly. It’s not going to happen. Okay. Unless you’re on a reality TV show. You go to the moon on SpaceX or something like that. It’s you can climb Mount Everest, well, there’s already 50 speakers on climbing Mount Everest. So how are you going to separate yourself? So I think it’s How are you different? Who’s your what’s your message, who needs that message and is willing to pay for it? That is critical. And you know, that’s what we help people do and help people like, clean up their website and make them more compelling so that when they get traffic, they’re more good, more likely to convert that. So you’ve got to realise it’s, you’ve got to want to do it, realise it may take some time and just love the struggle along the way, or find another job finding another passion or another hobby. And I’m not saying that to be mean, because if I can talk you out of it, you don’t have the gumption to stick with it. If I can’t talk you out of it. You have a chance.

John Ball
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely agree with that. In terms of this yet, and you’ve done you’ve done a lot of blind workshops in the past, and a lot of live speaking events, and this year is maybe changed a lot of that. What sort of changes who and pivots and shifts Have you been making for yourself in your own business?

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, well, I was fortunate enough that I had been doing hybrid events. So I have my online university, but I love live, I love training, I’m more of a trainer than a keynote speaker, I do both. But you know, in one hour, I can rock your world. But I can only say so much. But if you give me two days, I can transform you. So my passion is more for the I started out wanting to get the high highs. Now I want to give the AHA. And so my business before for five years, we’ve been doing live events, but we have virtual seats. So I’m very fortunate and actually wasn’t going it was going we would always have a few people. And it allowed me to sell a few more seats. But it really wasn’t killing it. And I was even considering letting go of the virtual. And then of course when this happened, you know, it was like a switch. So I was already set up for it. But as you and I were talking earlier, I’ve been so adamant that I’ve got to upgrade my business. So my background, my lighting the sign the the oral x on the side over here, too, for sound deadening. Because I realised this is my this is now my stage, there’s 10 feet behind me. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to upgrade. So I’ve been each week I’ve been putting out Facebook videos on here’s what I’m doing this week, here’s what I’m doing this week. So this is the culmination of many months work and one little thing after another. But I realised that immediately that, look, I didn’t who knew it was gonna last this long. But at the beginning, I knew I needed to start upgrading my studio in my home studio experience. So my events now are 100% virtual, but and then I made I created a new

a new two day event because of the new need, which is mastering virtual presentations. So mastering virtual presentations, I realised was critical. The people who I taught needed it because they had to transfer over. And so immediately within two weeks because I love teaching to me, it’s like a puzzle. It’s like putting together a puzzle without the picture to go by. When I put together a new programme, and I realised we’ve been doing the hybrid events for years. Okay, what do we do? What are the mistakes we made, and let me help other people get up and going quickly. So I do that with Mark brown and my fellow World Champion Ed Tate. So we’ve got one coming up in November. But anyway, we love what we do. So it was kind of an easy pivot, but I knew I had if I’m going to teach virtual presentations, I better have the best lighting the best camera, the best background because now I was being judged on that. And I think a lot of professional speakers don’t realise that. You know, if we can’t hear you, we can’t see you. I’ll forgive the video if it’s not perfect, but if I can’t hear you, I won’t forgive that as a listener. So I realised that On this, and then we teach this thing called pace elements, that you’ve got to change every three or four minutes, pace element, how do you keep somebody engaged for all day events? Because that’s what we do. While people, you know, say, Wow, we can’t believe it flew by because we keep them engaged. So I think, focusing on engagement, because the rules have changed. You know, it would be great if we knew someone was sitting down watching in, in their home or their office, and there was no distractions, they were in a white room, there is no phone, there was nothing else around that would be awesome and easy to keep their attention or easier. But the truth is, there’s the cat, the dog, the people have to go to the bathroom notifications going off text, Oh, I forgot I had this meeting. And so we’re competing with that. So we teach people, it’d be great to get rid of those distractions, that’s impossible. So what we need to do is be more adamant to draw people in and make the content more directly relevant to their life right now, but constantly keep that happening, constant engagement. So we teach about 20 different pace elements that you can use that we use all the time, but we teach people what they are and how to use them. So I pivoted the business going over to virtual, it’d be great to go live someday. But the cool thing is the upside, if you will, for us is that now people, and when I say us, I mean anybody who’s a who’s an expert in the world right now is that even my grandpa, my my parents who have been married this week, for 65 years, you know, they’re in their upper 80s they’re on zoom, you know, they’re on a virtual platform, they would have never been able to do that. So so many people are now much more comfortable getting online, they realise that convenience, the power of it. So now the world has been trained, whatever format, whether it’s zoom, or WebEx or teams or whatever it is, but now we’re more comfortable with this because we’ve spent so much you know, camera time camera time camera time. Okay, so now that just made our market as professional speakers and experts bigger there’s more people who can and want to access us this way if we can help them solve their problem. Yeah,

John Ball
I run a lot of online events and if you’re going to come and check out your your paragraphs, that’s one that I think I haven’t seen before. So

Darren Lacroix
you haven’t we’re waiting for you, john.

John Ball
I love when I when I joined spacetime University, which I think might have been a couple of years ago now. That one of the first things that made me think this was a this was a really good decision was a little personalised video from you to say hi and welcome. Oh, that’s really cool. I don’t think I’ve ever got that from a programme before in my life. And then I got my little membership part and welcome pack three from you is really cool. So I felt like really come into it. Whereas I think I’m going to be a little tough there.

Darren Lacroix
But one of the keys to storytelling and one of the reasons I do those personal videos and as soon as we’re done here we had someone sign up yesterday I do that is the value of like with an on on online university is onboarding, bringing people in and help them realise, hey, this person cares. Again, going back to what we talked about earlier is intention. But one of the key storytelling factors the most brilliant thing I ever learned was from man named Michael Haig. Michael Haig works for Will Smith, Will Smith runs movie scripts by Michael Haig before they release movies. He’s brilliant. But here is the wisdom from Michael Haig. He said, the purpose or the goal of any story is to elicit emotion. The goal of any story is to elicit emotion if you don’t elicit emotion, they’re never going to remember it. So just like you said with that video, it kind of struck you and it pulled you in a little closer. Well I realised when I started testing that out that very effect is that I was eliciting emotion and connecting more quickly with the people who are joining stage time and that’s important to me that’s important to my business. So here and if you’re listening to this, the video service that I love that I use is called bom bom Bo m b b OMB and it’s video email. I learned about it from my mentors for sakes and Patricia Fripp, but it works and it helps me engage through email, rather than just sending a typing an email and again, like I said, because I’m dyslexic, I’m a lot better doing a two minute video. I don’t have to worry about typos. But now you not only hear me You feel me, you feel my intention. So the purpose of that was to elicit emotion. So you spend some more time with us.

John Ball
You bet you’ve also got into the world of podcasting itself what what made you want to start your own podcast

Darren Lacroix
I realised you know when I have newsletter be a sponge calm, you can check it out and you get my top 10 speaking mistakes and my top 10 virtual mistakes if you just go to be a sponge calm, it’s free. I send out a weekly newsletter. But right away you get those two PDFs. After decades of coaching, here’s what I’ve learned, here’s the highlights. But in terms of why did the podcast is the newsletter has been the opens has been slowly dwindling. You know, I still have my core people, I have 10,000 people on my list. And I still write articles because it’s good. It’s helping me write books, etc. But what I realised is so many people were spending more time on podcasts that was like, TV’s going way down, and podcast is going way up. So here you have all these people who like the format of listening, you know, while they’re driving while they’re on the train while they’re on the bus while they’re exercising. So that’s how they’re quote unquote sponging. Well, if you have all these people who are already like that format, all I’m doing is taking my content and putting it in front of that river of people who want to absorb that way. So I realised I was really missing out. So it’s basically a way for me to give content, just like this podcast, give content. And if you really liked me, and you want to learn more, you’ll go check out stage time University. But if not, I’m going to help you, you’re going to like me, maybe you’re going to tell other people about me. So it’s again the intention and giving. And honestly, Mark Brown, my co host, Mike coach, mine of my best friends in the world. It’s fun, when you can have marketing that’s helping build your business and helping people along the way. That’s fun. We just crack each other up. We have so much fun. So it seemed like a natural format. So for me it was when I saw the numbers of podcasting and how many people are spending how many hours every week on podcast, so it was kind of a no brainer. Once I saw the facts, and then I realised it’s marketing. It’s more fun. I have more fun doing that, boom, just like this in an hour. Then sitting down to write an article that can take me several hours.

John Ball
This started this podcast started as a Toastmasters project. Funnily enough in my Toastmasters pathways, it was one of the options. I’ve been thinking about doing it anyway. And but over over the time that I’ve been doing it, I just really enjoy it. On my first episode, my first episode was with one of my Toastmasters buddies, and we’ve got that and then just like getting guests in, and it’s become just a really fun thing is taking a bit more about a life of its own. And, and and I get to have really cool conversations with people like you and it’s like, why would I want to do this? This is really good.

Darren Lacroix
It opens the door. So last week at last year at the Toastmasters International Convention there. Golden golden gavel winner was a man named john Jang. And he is like unbelievable. Like his YouTube channel, his videos his he helps people deal with rejection. Anyway, we got to sit down and interview this guy because we just met him at Toastmasters and had a conversation with him. So it’s allowing us just like you’re saying to have to meet people who I maybe never would have met before. So ours is called unforgettable presentations. And that’s me and Mark unforgettable presentation. Most

John Ball
as if you’re prepared for that there.

Darren Lacroix
Oh, I’m a marketer. I’m prepared for everything. But anyway, it just like you. I’m delighted, john, you’re having fun. You have great insight and a great heart and great attitude. And I think that’s part of the what makes a good podcast.

John Ball
I hope so. I hope so. This year is gone. And raffle winner was a friend of mine, Julian treasure. And so I’m hoping hoping to get him on the show sometime soon as well. And when it comes to competition, I actually have an email from you today because I’m on your mailing list. And and you’re talking about the critiques of the of the 2020 World Championship of public speaking, and what I mean it’s all virtual this year. So what difference Do you think as someone who is very involved in this well, what difference Do you feel that that’s really made for public speaking competitions?

Unknown Speaker
Hmm.

Darren Lacroix
Well, it’s definitely a challenge a lot of and I’m sure there are a lot of technical issues along the way. And I don’t even want to know about them, but I’m sure and I’m impressed by Toastmasters, how they made it work. You know, they’re here’s an organisation with 350,000 people around the world as members, all different cultures. And oh, by the way, you can’t do a live event. We’re supposed to be in Paris this year. So to be able to switch over I can’t imagine some of the frustration but I think it forced people to learn this format. Again, going back Why, you know, if we’re virtual Guess what, it’s also a blessing for us as experts, because now we can reach people. We’ve never reached before Toastmaster clubs who you know, I’m live in Las Vegas who maybe there’s 10 people come. Now we might have 40 people and two of them are from the Middle East and three of them are from Asia, which that was never would never happen. So I think there’s a lot of positive that came out of this very negative situation. But as far as a contest, I think, realising the communication mode has changed. So learning the new rules, and the winner Mike Carr, we interviewed him for our podcast, a woman who came in second at a really powerful speech. we’re interviewing her tomorrow for our podcast, but the challenges that they had to go through in the unknown. So it’s that bobbing and weaving, again, it goes back to improv, having that ability when people say, Oh, you can’t do that. And like, you’re gonna argue with the contest, you will lose. It’s their contest. So I think a lot of people were frustrated and upset. And I think a lot of people who were able to improvise, they are the ones who came out on top they, we coach, somebody who was in the finals, she didn’t place but she did an amazing job. His name is Maureen Cipolla, it was great, what a powerful speech. So now, it’s just forcing us to learn a new modality. And then the use of screen, you know, we talked about the use of stage, Mike Carr started, like, in the bottom, in the bottom very bottom corner, but he used the medium to get his message across very effectively. At one point, he was talking about the projector from middle school. And he, you know, he does this. And I went back to my experience with those old projectors, the younger people have no idea what we’re talking about. But anyway, it was how do you use this new medium to get your message across? And so I think that’s one of the biggest lessons learned, which we all have to learn, you know, this through this craziness. Yeah, I don’t know if I answered your question or not. But

John Ball
no, they absolutely did. And I’ll pop a link to Mike’s speech, glad I really enjoyed it as well. I’ll put that in the link as well as they can compare the difference of what she was someone who like yourself who want to speak on the, on the stage to someone who, who won the competition on on video on screen. And when it comes to being in competitions and non competitive public speaking can do you think it’s possible to get to that kind of level without coaching or anything, it’s absolutely critical.

Darren Lacroix
There will always be that anomaly in any area that, you know, somebody comes up without coaching. But for 98% of us, especially the ones who get some confidence. I look what Craig Valentine says he says, Don’t let the good get in the way of the grade. And I think that’s why we need a coach, that person that we trust that can hold up a mirror and say, Yeah, but that’s not coming across to the audience, you might say, you might mean it, you might know exactly what you’re trying to get across. So I think you need a qualified coach, not just any coach. And I think there’s many different coaches out there, we did a podcast episode on exactly how to choose the right coach for you. And I’ve had many different coaches who have different skill sets. I’ve worked with Michael Hagen one story that I’ve been telling for years, and it works and it gets a big laugh. And he helped me make it better. So I think the power I mean, think about an athlete, a high school athlete, what’s the difference between a high school athlete and an Olympic athlete? Well, their training and their coaching and how hard they work. And so you can’t be a high school athlete dream of being in the Olympics without trying to understand the process. And so I think having the right coach is critical having multiple coaches I had to in the world championship, but that doesn’t even count the people that I learned from before that. And then the other coaches like Craig Valentine, I learned so much from Craig Valentine after I won the championship, then Donald Miller like learning from his book, Michael Haig, so I don’t think we’re ever done if we’re truly want to be world class. So that’s why our podcast is unforgettable presentations. Because there’s many podcasts out there. I’m like, what are we going to focus on? So we try to uncover the stories and the strategies that make something unforgettable? Because truly, that’s where difference happens.

John Ball
Yeah, yeah, I already subscribe to your podcast and I can make sure there’s a link to it in the show notes so people can go and check it out. And it’s, it’s great and well worth tuning into. And so I really appreciate the time you spent with us today and I don’t want to have your time although I’d happily spend as long as I can. Talking to you. But, but I do for the sake of audience who do want to come and find out more of as I’ve already shared the links, but just as a reminder, what are the best places for people who are watching or listening to come and find out more about about you and come and learn from you.

Darren Lacroix
Thanks. Thanks for asking. Well, my main website is Darren lacroix.com da RENLACRIX. If you’re interested in the top 10 speaking mistakes and virtual mistakes, check out be a sponge calm, be a sponge calm, you can if you are into virtual presentations, better virtual presentations, if you go to my main website, it’s got all the links, but check out the podcast as well as you mentioned. So Darren, lacroix.com be a sponge calm, and I got a lot of freebies out there and a lot of free trainings, but I’m gonna show you there’s a whole other world just like I learned from my coach, Mark Brown, all done we have some work to do.

John Ball
I highly recommend your courses and programmes every single one I’ve done was really great value and especially for anyone who like is dawn comes get paid to speak or has to work or one has to or wants to work on a keynote speech like you’re pregnant with Patricia Fripp on keynote speaking is really, really good and very, really comprehensive. I know it’ll take you hold your hand from start to finish. It was a real pleasure to work through that. And are there any closing thoughts on our call to action or message that you’d like to leave people with?

Darren Lacroix
Yeah, you’re gonna make mistakes. When you stretch yourself, you’re gonna bomb What? Yeah, I when I bombed you in I talk about it. My championship speech I bombed I called my mentor. It was so painful as a professor, like one of my first professional presentations. I called my mentor Rick, I said, I bombed I died. They hated me. And he said so. And it’s like, how do you argue with so and I didn’t realise everybody bombed. That’s part of the learning process. So don’t let that stop you. Become a student of storytelling. Find the right mentors, the teachers that work for you, I don’t care who you do it. I love what I do. But I’m not the only one. But you need to make that individual choice. Choose to be world class at storytelling. I remind you of the challenge as 10 of your friends 10 of your friends who will be honest with you, and see what they really say and take it as a wake up call. Look, they might love you. But do people who don’t know you or don’t know your business? Are they compelled to want to follow you? And no matter what stage time, stage time stage time?

John Ball
Absolutely. I’m gonna I’m gonna try that challenge. I’m a bit scared. But I’m gonna try and see if I’m anything like as good as storyteller as I wish. I hope I am. Darren is been a real joy to speak to you today. You’ve been a wonderful guest. And I know that you’re one of the, for me, one of the best teachers out there. I’ve learned so much amazing stuff. But if you’re looking to elevate your speaking to a higher level, you are the person people should come and check out and I’ve recommended your courses and programmes to many people already and will continue to do so. Thank you for coming and being so generous with your time and your knowledge today. Really appreciate it.

Darren Lacroix
Thanks, john. Thanks for having me.

John Ball
Thanks for tuning in. Please remember to like and subscribe if you’re on Apple podcast, leave a review. If you’re on YouTube, leave a comment. whilst you’re here. Why not grab your free copy of my new ebook the five key beliefs of bulletproof business speakers from my website ESET President influence.com if you would like to get in touch with me, you can do that through the website or shoot me an email john at present influence.com or come and connect with me on social media. LinkedIn is where I hang out the most but I’m available on Twitter and Facebook as well. If you would like to find out more about courses and programmes with me, please do shoot me an email. If you’re interested in having me come and train or speak for your company or organisation. Then it can just shoot me an email or connect with me on social media. I’d love to chat with you. If you’d like to be a guest on the show or you think you know someone who would make a great guest. Again, just drop me a line. Let’s have a chat. We’ll set something up. I would love to see you again soon. So have a great week, everybody. See you next week for more great content from speaking of influence.

 

Win the day every day with guest Coach Cam

In this episode, I chat with the speaker, author, entrepreneur and (American) football coach known as Coach Cam. He has seamlessly blended his professional sports career with motivational speaking, applying and sharing all the philosophy and wisdom he himself has received and delivered in his sports coaching career.

As someone who started his entrepreneurial journey age 9 and has gone on to become a social entrepreneur with a portfolio of businesses. He is now becoming known as a motivational speaker who is committed to helping others step up their lives to new levels of leadership and success.

We discuss his recipe of faith, stoicism and self-talk, his journey to entrepreneurship and how his career as a football coach has set him up and inspired him to take a powerful philosophy out into the world in service of others.

You can find out more about Coach Cam and his new E-Course Win the 1st Quarter of Your Day: Playbook for Wealth, Health, & Success at Coachcamcourses.com and I highly recommend that you do.

If you like the show, remember to subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes, like next week, when I will be chatting to the 2001 World Champion of public speaking, Darren Lacroix who has been a powerful coach and teacher to me through his online courses and workshops.

Lead generation, list building and boomerangs with guest Grant Finlayson

In this chat with lead generation expert, fellow podcaster and super-powered networker Grant Finlayson from Motor Mouth Marketing. We ended up discussing all sorts of topics and what we have both learned on our journeys to where we are right now.

What started out as an interview became a boomerang interview as Grant turned the tables and asked me the things he wanted to know.

Whilst I do guest on other people’s shows, this was the first time I was interviewed on my own show. It made for a unique episode and a great discussion.

Find out more about Grant on his website https://onlinebizninja.co.ukand/or connect with this master networker on Linked In.

Discover the top 5 essential mind hacks for business speakers with my new ebook and make sure you’re subscribed for next week’s episode with motivational speaker and the boss of starting your day right, Coach Cam.

Unwrapping humour with guest Melanie Gayle

Continuing my series on using humour in presentations, I was fortunate enough to get to chat with comedienne, rapper, actress, presenter and businesswoman Melanie Gayle. We dive into what it takes to be funny on a platform and how the most important thing can just be to give it a go and get started.

Melanie has a wealth of experience and she shares some of the lessons she’s learned along the way, as well as giving us many funny moments to enjoy. It was a delight to chat with Melanie and she’s a great example of how someone can evolve and grow in their lives to be more than just one thing, as on top of her career as a performer she also runs a talent agency.

We talk about mental flexibility and adaptability, we talk about the value of comedy courses and just going for it as well as many other aspects of performance. Mel brings the energy and you’ll love listening as much as I enjoyed getting to chat with her.

Join us for a great conversation and a lot of laughter on this episode of Speaking of Influence.

Follow and connect with Melanie:

and be sure to subscribe for the next episode of Speaking of Influence

Should I Write a book? With guest Juliet Clark

It’s been said that having your own book is the best business card there is. It classifies you as an expert and it sets you apart from the vast majority of people who are unpublished. It can help you get booked more as a speaker, it can help you get paid more as a speaker, coach or trainer and it can dramatically grow your following and brand but you need to do it right.

My guest this week is the lovely Juliet Clark who is the owner and founder of Super Brand Publishing. Juliet works with coaches and speakers who are looking to write and publish non-fiction books in their market and she cheerleads, helps plan and gives a tried and tested process that takes away any guesswork and gets your hard work as an author paying off for you by launching the right way.

We had a lot of fun chatting together and at one point we even discussed Tiger King on Netflix… but mostly we chatted about publishing.

See if writing a book is the right thing for you in your business right now. Take Juliet’s quiz http://www.promoteprofitpublishquiz.com to find out…

Next week my guest is professional actress and comedian Melanie Gayle. She was great fun to chat with and is a super talented lady. This was a part of my putting humour in presentations series and is one not to be missed. 

Make sure you subscribe to the show and never miss a guest! See you next time.

How to Speak like a Roman Emperor with guest Donald Robertson

https://pdcn.co/e/www.buzzsprout.com/676739/5486383-how-to-speak-like-a-roman-emperor-with-guest-donald-robertson.mp3?blob_id=22423174&download=

What does stoic philosophy have to do with public speaking and presentations? More than you’d think.

I recently read ‘How to think Like A Roman Emperor’ by expert in stoic philosophy Donald Robertson. It surprised me that he wrote a fair bit about orators and rhetoric of the sophists and how public speaking was an essential leadership tool in ancient Greece and Rome for those in positions of power, especially an emperor. It’s not so different today. The ability to persuade and influence still lies largely with those who speak from some kind of stage.

I asked Donald if he’d be willing to be a guest on my show and to my surprise he readily agreed. I learned a lot from our conversation, as will you I’m sure. I know I will be referring back to this conversation for a long time to come, as we discussed so many areas, like decatastrophising our thinking, cognitive behavioural therapy, hyperbole in modern life and a number of other profound areas.

I highly recommend Donald’s book ‘How to think like a Roman Emperor’ and have previously published a book review for it on my YouTube channel. On his own website Donald has several courses and many materials you can check out to bring a little more capital S Stoicism into your life and philosophy. https://donaldrobertson.name/

There is an opportunity for all of us to join the 8th International Stoicon Conference in October 2020 which this year, due to the pandemic, is a virtual event. You can find more information here https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/stoicon-2020-virtual-conference-tickets-103616048390?fbclid=IwAR3I195u0qu6ddKd1rIAKwYPayb8FEoAPHKHr84RWHdf72PKuj8gjkuxfFM

I encourage you to check out Donald’s Facebook group on Stoicism, which is where I first encountered him https://www.facebook.com/groups/Stoicism

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. If you’d like to catch the video version on YouTube, here’s the link https://youtu.be/YKNbD_TvZHQ and please like and subscribe the channel whilst you’re there.

Next week we’ll be celebrating the 50th episode of Speaking of Influence with one of my top wish list guests Daniel Priestly, author of How to be a Key Person of Influence and other great entrepreneurial books. He’s also co-founder of Dent Global and an excellent business speaker. Don’t miss it!

Transcript

John Ball
Welcome to the Speaking of Influence podcast with virtual business speaker presentation skills and influence coach John Ball. Remember to like and subscribe. The speaking of influence podcast is uploaded and distributed using Buzzsprout. Buzzsprout makes it really easy to get your podcast started and out to a wide audience with lots of tips and useful tools to help you on your way. If you’re interested, check the link in the show notes and start your podcast today. But Welcome back to the show. And today I’m really happy to introduce someone who is a specialist in philosophy and read. I read on this just a listen to an amazing book by him just recently called How to think like a Roman Emperor. His name is Donald Robertson please welcome to the show Donald Robinson.

Donald Robertson
Well, thanks for having me on your show. It’s a pleasure to be here.

John Ball
I’m really happy to be speaking with you and and I’ve mentioned just before we started recording I’ve been following you on social media for some time and you definitely are one of, to me, one of the leading expert voices in in stoicism.

Donald Robertson
I’ve just been doing it for a long time.

John Ball
It was it was really nice, it was really nice in your book to hear your background about why you actually ended up getting into stoicism. Would it be okay to share a bit of that?

Donald Robertson
Yeah, I mean, I guess you know, the funny thing was I really wasn’t to stoicism before it was cool. Or at least you know, we could people make debate that but I distinctly remember everyone telling me why are you studying the sudden they’re the obscure subject and no one’s interested and, but not long after that it became more popular. So It started when I was a teenager, and I kind of drop out of school and stuff. My father passed away when I was quite young and I kind of got into trouble with the cops and things like that. And I ended up in a rehabilitation scheme for young offenders. And, you know, I decided with the help of a communication skills teacher, actually to turn my life around a bit and I thought I’d do something and I went to university and I studied philosophy. And I was looking for a philosophy of life. And one of the few major schools of ancient philosophy that isn’t typically part of the undergraduate curriculum, stoicism. So I spent four years at Aberdeen and they never mentioned that once. I studied Plato and Aristotle and other aspects of Greek philosophy, but not the stoics. And then after I graduated, I stumbled across the works of Pierre Hadot, a French scholar. He focuses on idea of philosophy as a way of life. I read his books and his training as a psychotherapist counsellor at a time. So I immediately recognised and it seemed odd to me that Hadot had listed all these psychological he called them spiritual exercises. He found that stoicism and they compare them to Christian contemplative techniques that catalogue them and written about them in great detail. And it seemed remarkable to me that the one thing he hadn’t ever done was draw the analogy with modern psychology or psychotherapy. And that seemed really obvious me. So sometimes in life, you find a book kind of writes itself almost. So I thought, well, if I don’t write this someone else, well, it seems like a really obvious thing. So yeah, I kind of ended up writing a book about it. And then people when you write one book, people ask you to rate others and then to nearly 25 years later, after I first stumbled across stoicism still talking to people about it, but I’m still 100% committed to stoicism I, you know, I found that it clicked with me. made a lot of sense and it still makes sense to me today.

John Ball
But you teach this now, Yes?

Donald Robertson
Yeah, I started teaching it in a sense early on because I always did a lot of workshops and trained psychotherapists in the UK and I supervised them. So I ended up teaching a lot of therapists initially about stoicism. Speaking about at conferences and stuff, and now I run online courses about it and so on great books give a lot of talks but more aimed at the general public. I started off more resect therapists, and those become more of a general audience.

John Ball
Yeah, I mean, I see some elements of stoic philosophy relating to things like CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy, right? And so I can see that these sorts of principles do get used, what what effects has this kind of philosophy had on on you particularly and your life

Donald Robertson
In my personal life I think stoicism gave me a sense of direction when I really needed it, many people say they see stoicism, like a kind of secular alternative to Christianity. And what they mean by that is it gives them something that’s like religion that Really a philosophy is not based on faith or revelation. It’s based on philosophical reasoning, but it gives them a whole worldview and a set of fundamental moral values through which to interpret life. Find a purpose, a sense of direction. So I’d say that’s the main thing I got from stoicism, but also the main corollary of a consequence of is that arguably it helps us to build the emotional psychological resilience and that’s partly why it dovetails with modern Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, like you said,

John Ball
Yeah, I do. I’ve been in coaching, professional coaching for a number of years now and certainly since having studied more about stoicism from people like yourself and is it is Brian Irving was it I think Ryan Holiday

Unknown Speaker
Bill Irvine and that… Yeah.

John Ball
So yeah, I think I’ve applied, certainly applied a lot of that for myself. I’ve got a lot of from it, but I also find myself using it with clients quite often. Because the philosophy of it really does stand the test of time and the mental resilience aspects of it, especially this year are really important.

Donald Robertson
Yeah, I mean, we kind of thought, eventually we’ll reach peaks in the sense that people get fairly simple gets fired, like everyone has rediscovered it, and they’ve got really into it. But it keeps growing and growing. And then the pandemic happened. And it just went through the roof, like the number of interviews and articles and so on about stoicism just as we thought it might be kind of plateauing has kind of shot shot up again. And book sales and stoicism have gone through the roof since the start of the pandemic, for obvious reasons, maybe but also, you know, the for instance, in the main classic is the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, which was written in the middle of a pandemic, called the Antonine plague and impart Marcus is that’s one of the main things That he’s coping with. And so you mentioned coaching as well like without a shadow of a doubt. I was mainly the first book I wrote on stoicism is called The Philosophy of CBT. And it was an academic text it was mainly meant for psychotherapists and philosophers, but it reached out wide audience we say like a general audience. And life coaches actually seem to have got more interested in stoicism than psychotherapists, which is something I was wrong about. I thought the psychotherapists would be all over. And for a couple of reasons, actually, they’ve been a bit slow on the uptake, but but coaches have embraced stoicism of the past few years.

John Ball
Yeah. And to me, that’s kind of interesting as well, because I, I tend to think that the coaching industry or the coaches I know, really tend to love more of the sort of new agey woowoo spirituality kind of stuff, which stoicism really isn’t that it’s a very practical life philosophy.

Donald Robertson
Yeah, so philosophy in the Socratic tradition and you know, so certainly the ancient Greeks and Romans had the superstitions and the religions and occult practices and so on. But stoicism stands out, as you know, broadly speaking is very rational, grounded view of things. It’s very down to earth our philosophy in many respects. So I think I think the reason that CBT practitioners, increasingly there’s a lot of pressure knows has been now there’s more and more pressure on clinical psychologists or CBT practitioners to step through coarsely to evidence based protocols that have been established by researchers by and so because of that, I think they feel that they kind of haven’t got the tape the space of time and head room to go off and read classics as much as maybe coaches and trainers have, as my best attempt to try and to understand that because CBT is based on stoicism, it’s derived from stoicism so I just assumed they would be kind of way, you know, the first people to engage with it. And it’s been other groups of people that have got passionately into stoicism.

John Ball
Interestingly enough, I think a lot of that has maybe been fueled by people like Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday as well.

Donald Robertson
Yeah, Tim Ferriss and Ryan Holiday are the two people that have really catapulted stoicism into you know, a whole different domain like a whole new audience.

John Ball
It’s been interesting to see and I certainly remember downloading the Tao of Seneca from Tim Ferriss after getting those those books published and I found that very interesting. One of the things that the maybe some people who are watching or listening who haven’t really come across stoicism amazingly still, or really wondering, maybe I’ve heard about it and don’t really know what it’s about. I mean, what are some of the nutshell principles of stoicism that we would sum it up for people perhaps?

Donald Robertson
Well, first of all, we should say a little tiny bit about the history. You know, when we talk stoicism we’re talking about an ancient Greek school of philosophy that was founded in 301 BC Athens by a shipwrecked Phoenician merchant called Zeno of Citium. And most of the early texts are lost apart from fragments, but stoicism flourished for nearly 500 years, and Greece and then later in the Roman Republic and the Empire. And so the main surviving texts, we have letters and essays by Seneca, who was a orator and the speechwriter for the Emperor Nero, Epictetus, who was a freed slave who became a teacher of philosophy at Rome and later moved to Nikolopoulos in Greece, and Marcus Aurelius, who was a Roman Emperor, and is best known today for having appeared on screen with Russell Crowe, and the movie Gladiator in the form of Richard Harris, if you remember that that was another thing that made people interested in stoicism. It’s a little bit older now but when that movie came out, a lot of people started to be the meditations. They’re talking about doing a sequel.

John Ball
Oh really? Well, I guess, don’t with the same character, because he died.

Donald Robertson
With the children of the Visela, if I remember rightly,

John Ball
I remember really loving that film and I’ve watched it ever again. Especially the soundtracks as the most Star Trek. But did you find it to be a particularly stoic film?

Donald Robertson
No, there’s a couple of articles but actually, I wrote an article on a couple other people articles, there’s maybe two or three lines or there’s one in particular that looks like it’s kind of a paraphrase. And it’s something that it’s like at the end, where he says something like Someone once told me he’s talking to Marcus Aurelius, that deaths smiles at us all and all that we can do is smile back or something like that. And that sounds like a paraphrase of one of the passages in the meditations. But other than that others, there’s only very fleeting references. But actually, I read an interview recently that Russell Crowe when he was making that movie is about a movie trivia for you kids. Russell Crowe when he was making that movie, apparently really he was really into the meditations and really wanted more philosophy and the script, and he kind of fought for that. And then he’s just got one or two little passing references. But if they do make a sequel, then maybe Who knows? There might be a little bit more philosophy in it.

John Ball
I think that could be good. I mean, are there any films that are particularly stoic?

Donald Robertson
There’s a terrible movie that I saw recently cold that was kind of like a sort of, how would you describe it? A revenge movie like, like it’s mediocre. It’s not terrible. I

John Ball
The kind of thing Liam Neeson likes to do.

Donald Robertson
Yeah, like a Liam Neeson type thing. And it’s called acts of vengeance. And it’s got weirdly, and this guy falls through the window of a bookshop. He gets stabbed in the leg at the beginning. And he grabs a paperback and stems the blood flow, and he’s fine with the first thing that comes to hand, which is this paperback book, and he staggers home, bleeding, and then he looks at this book at tonnes put, surprise, surprise, it happens to be the meditations of Marcus Aurelius. And then he starts reading this book and there’s little references to throughout the rest of the movie. So there you go. It’s not the best showcase for stoicism. But there is a, weirdly there is a movie that an action movie that references stoicism, I think those are the only ones that I can really think of where it’s kind of an explicit thing. And then there’s like an old movie that is at the decline and fall of the The Roman Empire with Alec Guiness playing Marcus Aurelius in it from like the late 60s or something. And there’s not much philosophy in that that tells us about Marcus Aurelius. So that there’s one or two.

John Ball
Yeah. What would be there the main traits of stoicism that would make you think something was the eventual quoting the stoics. We tend, I think, tend to have this idea of stoicism as just being a bit keep your chin up stiff upper lip kind of thing, which is…

Donald Robertson
Well, that brings us back to defining it doesn’t get so the like we should do exactly what you’ve done, which is start off by saying quarter isn’t if you know lest people will forgive us for taking a slightly roundabout path. So the word stoicism today, when it’s written with a lowercase s, means an unemotional coping style. And that’s completely different thing it’s loosely related to but really a caricature of a degraded form of much more a very simplistic idea of just kind of having a stiff upper lip. Whereas capital S Stoicism is an ancient Greek School of philosophy that has survived for about 500 years and was much more nuanced and complex. And the reason it’s important to distinguish these things, particularly from my point of view, is that in psychology, we have established well known questionnaires for measuring lowercase stoicism. For like the level supposed to assess them scale is one of the tools that’s used. And it’s well known among researchers, that lowercase stoicism is actually bad for you, like, it’s unhealthy, and at least, like not to resilience to psychological vulnerability, whereas capital S Stoicism is the philosophical basis for cognitive therapy, which is the leading evidence based form of psychotherapy. So the research literature suggests that although these two words sound identical to listeners, one of them refers to something that’s actually unhealthy, psychologically resilient. to something that’s potentially healthy, opposite end of the scale. So it’s important to make that clear. What do they believe? The ancient stoics believed that virtue is the only true good. That’s their foundational principle. It’s an ethic. That’s the core of stoicism. And we call that a virtue ethic. And by virtue the I think the word arity that is often translated as model wisdom, because it’s a kind of insight or wisdom allows us to understand the value of things. And then that gives us a sense of purpose and direction in life. And the stoics think that someone who believes virtue is the only true good and therefore all external things like health, wealth reputation are relatively indifferent. What was more important is the use that you make of them. So like, money won’t make you happy as it were, like in the hands of a genocidal tyrant. money would be a bad thing. Like it’s like coffee, they say it allows you to do stupid things more quickly and with more energy, so plus, like money allows you to do stupid things more quickly and more easily. So money in itself has intrinsically it just gives you, it just allows you to exercise your world, more on your environment and on other people. Well, that’s good if you happen to be wise and virtuous. But if you happen to be foolish and vicious, then you know, that might not be a great idea. So the stoics say these things are what they call indifference, external things. Like it’s natural to prepare what wealth over poverty and health over sickness and friends over enemies, but they’re not intrinsically good in the way that moral wisdom is, it’s moral wisdom makes everything else good and more ignorance makes everything else bad and vice that makes everything else bad. But the main corollary of that is that if you go through this conversion where you suddenly place more value on your own character than on your possessions, for instance, you’re going to probably become more emotionally resilient as a consequence, because you’re going to be better able to cope with loss and setbacks in life and misfortune. And you’re going to be less perturbed by other people’s opinions of you and less prone to manipulation, the stoics would say, because you, you know, they would say it’s harder for a tyrant to threaten or manipulate a stoic. Why? Because there’s nothing that he can threaten to take away from them. Why he can’t separate he said, Nobody can take away your, your own freedom. And that’s all you really need to focus on as a stoic. So this is an ethic that has psychological implications for resilience building. In a nutshell.

John Ball
And, yeah, the one of the techniques that I know that I think ended up I think I learned it reading from William Irvine’s book but was the negative visualisation philosophy and I tried that because it doesn’t seem appealing and is something that towards my clients, I frame it up first by saying this doesn’t seem like a nice thing to do like you think, especially in the personal development world where they so many people say you attract what you think about kind of thing. To me it’s just kind of bullshit. But…

It is bullshit.

So many believe these kind of things I was well, people resistant to something like, after having had that for so long something like negative visualisation, for me it was essential in doing this, it actually was something that made me appreciate so much more what I have in my life right now. And to help let go,recognising that go the attachment of is not always going to be this good. It’s not always going to be as wonderful. Appreciate it now.

Donald Robertson
Well, in cognitive therapy, there’s a long tradition of getting people to visualise unpleasant scenes or feared catastrophes and so on, and I could bore you all day with a very detailed studies to train psychotherapists for a living. So I would talk all day about the many different ways. Off the top of my head, I would say there are like six or seven distinct psychological processes that we can potentially activate during mental rehearsal or imaginal exposure or whatever you want a bunch of different names that we use in psychology to refer to similar techniques that all involve closing your eyes and picturing some kind of unpleasant situation repeatedly, usually, the most important one in psychology, and the most robustly established. So I’d say there’s all sorts of people are like, well, I don’t know if this is a good idea is it? There are twho things, three things, four things… there’s like a bunch of things we could say this , I would argue that the most robustly established technique and the entire field of psychotherapy research is what we call exposure therapy. And the mechanism underlying it, we call emotional habituation. And that’s the finding which we’ve known for well over 50 or 60 years now, the foundation of all anxiety treatment and evidence based psychotherapy, that anxiety abates naturally, through repeated prolonged exposure under controlled conditions. And so what that means is if you visualise something cat phobia and you visualise cats, you’re frightened of losing your job and you picture yourself losing your job, if you do that repeatedly and for long enough, and as long as you’re not doing other things that would maintain your anxiety, then your anxiety will naturally wear off. And It’ll wear off permanently if you keep doing it. But a couple of things we know about are that it’s very common what people have a strong urge to terminate exposure prematurely. So of course, when people get anxious, they think screw this, I’m not going to do any more. And the risk in doing that is that can actually lead to sensitization. So I would attach a caveat which is this technique is problematic for two reasons, when people use it as a self help technique. So, one is the natural tendency for them not to do it long enough, in which case they could actually make themselves more distressed about the things that they’re picturing about. And also, I guess there’s three problems. The other one is the people, if you just do this without doing anything else, if you just keep it really important just picture the scene, the anxiety will abate. If you’re trying to do lots of other things at the same time, like trying to breathe differently. If you’re having a dialogue in your mind where you’re worrying about the implications of things or overthinking it, then again, this could also prevent habituation and make your anxiety worse, so you could tunnel exposure therapy and to just worrying, or ruminating morbidly if you’re not careful. So we see clients do that all the time. So as form of self help, we’d have to be careful. Be careful that you don’t do that. And then the other point is that if somebody has severe problems if they have panic disorder, or if they were severely clinically depressed, when they pictured something upsetting it may become too overwhelming for them. In which case, they probably would also terminate the exposure prematurely, and that could backfire on them. So I would say, this is one of the few stoic techniques, I’d say we have to be a little bit cautious about using it in practice. If you don’t have panic disorder, severe depression or psychosis, and you are patient about doing it, you pick something that’s not overwhelming. And you just keep it really simple. You’re not allowing yourself to do anything that might make your anxiety worse, then it will work pretty well for the majority of people, even just in a self help context. But in principle, another way in a clinical setting, it usually needs a little bit more assessment and supervision to make sure that that technique works well. Bill Irvine’s rationale for doing it is different from the stoics rationale for doing it. So sometimes, Bill Irvine’s book is great, but in some ways he describes stoicism in a way that makes it sound a little bit more like Epicureanism, which is a rival philosphpical school. And his rationale for doing a this kind of exposure therapy is that he thinks, if you imagine losing things that you’re attached to, it will make you or prevent what’s called hedonic adaptation. And then for you, you learn to experience more gratitude for things and the present moment or you have them. And that might be a reason for doing it. But it’s not the stoics main reasoning, it’s not clinicians main reason for doing it. In clinical practice. The main reason for doing that technique is emotional habituation. And the stoics there’s a couple of hints that they were also aware of this Plutarch later, he was influenced by stoics and says explicitly that he understands this concept. And actually one of Aesop’s Fables really clearly explains it. So there were ancient thinkers that grasp this concept of anxiety wearing off if you patiently keep exposing yourself to an upsetting scene but the stoics put more emphasis on something else, which they don’t have a name for. But today we would call cognitive distancing. It’s a technical term that we use in cognitive therapy. And so stoics Say look, they think that when we see things as catastrophic, or somebody has an idea or an asshole, are, you know, when we experience strong emotions, it’s because we’re fusing are merging our value judgments with external events outside our direct control. And so there’s the famous saying of Epictetus is quoted by all cognitive therapists as this. It’s not things that upset us, but our opinions about them. And so that articulates this concept of cognitive distancing. So if I say something is big or small, or it’s wood, or it’s metal that’s black, or it’s white, these are descriptions of physical properties. If I say it’s a catastrophe, that sounds like a description of the external event, but really, it’s more like me going Oh, no. It’s more like an expression of my value judgement and emotional reaction to it to say it’s a catastrophe. So there’s a sense in which is more arbitrary and subjective. It comes totally from me, rather than being a description of the event and in nature there are no catastrophes, cos nature is in different to everything. There’s nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so and so other people might view the same event and not think it’s catastrophe. Or even more shockingly, I myself a year from now, might look at the same event and not view it as a catastrophe any longer. Yeah, even the facts are identical. So the stoics want us to… this, Marcus Aurelius says, we need to separate our value judgments from external events and realise that it’s not a catastrophe, but I’m catastrophizing it. As we see in therapy I’m choosing to look at it through the lens we Aaron Beck, the founder of cognitive therapy compared it to wearing coloured spectacles is the opposite of rose tinted glass. Like shitty coloured glasses, catastrophe coloured glasses. And he said that cognitive distancing would be like taking the glasses off and realising that you’re just looking at the world through catastrophe tinted lenses. And the guy next to is wearing rose tinted glasses or whatever, you could swap if you wanted. But when you see the catastrophes, you’re seeing the landings rather than quality of the event itself. And so the stoics think that we should take ownership for that. And so when they do this premeditatio malorum this is the Latin name that Seneca gives it. Negative visualisation, really you could translate that as premeditation of adversity or premeditation of misfortune. And when the stoics doing it, they’re actually rehearsing, viewing it with indifference. So they’re rehearsing, imagining the partner leaving them or getting sacked from their job, but at the same time realising that the awfulness of it is just a value judgement that they’re projecting onto it , and that that’s kind of arbitrary, subjective thing. So we call this also called verbal diffusion, like separating the value judgement from external event. So it’s quite unlike the rationale that Bill Irvine gives to it. And I think the stoic rationale is better. It’s more consistent with the way that cognitive therapy works today, we know that there’s cognitive distancing is also one of the most robust and effective techniques and many research studies on it. And it’s used for a range of problems even quite severe problems nowadays. So the stoics were way ahead of the time in that regard. Another thing I’d say about Bill Irvine’s version as he calls it, negative visualisation, now for the stoics, in a sense, the thing that they’re picturing being sacked from work, like getting sick, losing all your money or whatever, isn’t negative. They want us to realise that negativity comes from our own value judgement. So if anything, it would be indifferent visualisation. And sometimes people within the city struggle with that technique. I hear a lot from people who try some of the techniques and are not sure how to get them to work. And they say, I’m visualising all these negative things, and it’s just making me sad. I think, yeah, mainly sad to have visualised words, negative things, but what the stoics want you to do is to realise there’s nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so and that negativity is a value judgement that you’re imposing on it. So you’re not gaining it from the way you’ve described, like that your value judgement is still completely fused to the event. You haven’t separated the two which is the realpoint of the technique.

John Ball
So it’s more the emotionalizing the whole thing and making it like this isn’t, it’s just a thing.

Donald Robertson
It’s another way of looking at life which the yeah The stoics also talk about you could look at from a slightly that one way of looking at it as just dictate wanna share for the value judgement? But the flip side of that would be to describe the event and more objective language. Right? And so the stoics compare that to a physician describing disease in a patient. Like he does it very objectively and very, in a very matter of fact way, or they they could just say like, and they do say in the way that maybe we talk about somebody else’s problems, we’re able to do it in a matter of fact or detached way, right when the same thing happens does though it’s my god, I can’t believe this is happening to me, you know, and so learning to describe things in a factual objective way makes it easier for us to problem solve, figure out coping strategies and do something about it. And that leads us neatly my friend into this topic of rhetoric, because something that would that because this is obviously got to do with language, why cognitive therapy always struck me as being very much about language we taught cognitive this cognitive that cognitive means thinking But thoughts are expressed in language. And so everything cognitive about cognitive therapy is also basically linguistic. That’s a particular use of language we’re talking about. And cognitive therapy. Traditionally, we help clients to identify thinking errors, like overgeneralization and unfounded assumptions and leaping to conclusions about what other people are thinking which we call main reading or catastrophizing. Right, which is exaggerating things. And those are similar also to not unlike fallacies and formal logic or tropes are used in rhetoric catastrophizing is hyperbole. You know, it’s a form of rhetoric and it’s a kind of alarmist form of rhetoric that we use. And I think that that’s a helpful It’s strange that we don’t frame it like that and cognitive therapy, because it’s almost like we evolved rhetoric as a way of manipulating the emotions of other people, maybe that puts too much of a negative spin on it but we evolved rhetoric as a way of communicating with other people evoking emotions by focusing their attention having an effect on an audience. But somehow it’s like we slipped unintentionally into using the same kind of strategies on ourselves by in the privacy of our own minds. And so we use metaphors that are vivid and evocative, like I’ll have a client that does a presentation. And they’ll say, I just felt as if somebody bit my nose off for no reason and I wished, they shot me down in flames and I wish the ground would open up and swallow me. And if they were describing the same event and objective language they make to say, somebody said that they disagreed with something. Which sounds far less anxiety provoking Right, but they’ve used colourful language. They use metaphors inparticular and hyperbole to, to really create this dramatic effect, but they’re doing it to themselves and something and it’s like they’re they’re not really thinking about the consequences of it would you want to make it seem more dramatic to yourself by if just making you feel anxious and freaking you out? And so often in therapy, we can see that clients are abusing language unintentionally. Like as a way of making themselves feel even more upset about things. And so the stoics had this kind of love 7 hate, they were kind of frenemies with the Sophists and rhetoricians because Cicero I think it was said that the stoics wrote books on rhetoric, which is all one of the greatest orators of antiquity thought werer terrible and he said stoic rhetoric’s rubbish, but he’s like, you guys just want to stick to the facts and explain everything really objectively. And because that’s not how rhetoric works in a court of law, or in a political speech or something is, in fact, part of the audience’s emotions. And the stoics were like, well, we kind of want to undo that, right, because we think when you guys do that you’re distorting reason and you’re manipulating truth and anger and fear gets in the way of people thinking things through rationally. And you know, funnily enough, this has all become very topical. It’s always been topical. But today, I cannot think of a finer example of the rhetoric of politicians distorting reason, whipping up emotions in a way that’s counterproductive to dealing with a crisis than the current pandemic. And the way that political propaganda has been used to distort public health information is something I care about having worked in public health and evidence based practice. I mean, anyone that works in that field, I think at the moment was just shocked at the absolute dog’s breakfast, like the mess that we’re currently observing, and particularly in the United States, but in other countries as well, and the misinformation and the confusion and the anger and outrage and fear that people experienced and the extent to which are swept up by the news media, social media, and political hacks. Why? To be blunt, about fake, it’s fair to say, whatever side of the debate people are on politically, I think they can recognise it. So it’s a shame that politics and rhetoric have clouded the public health debate around the virus.

John Ball
Yeah, I think we will see it, we all know it’s going on, we don’t necessarily all understand exactly how it works. But you know, there are certain elements of rhetoric with certain you see it particularly in the UK that they bear three word pithy phrases, but it’s still certain US politics as well really, there’s still get people electing. And the recent elections where get Brexit done is like these pithy three word phrases that are rhetorical devices. But also like hyperbole or the metaphor that goes in making this huge emotional drama about things. And very often they’re saying all these things without really saying anything, and you’re not really conveying information actually just conveying drama and outrage.

Donald Robertson
One other thing that you can do rhetorically there’s good and bad rhetoric. I should say that, phonetics and that’s another topic. I’ve got keyed up that we will we’ll come to in a moment. So we’re talking about their bs of rhetoric. Let’s see. Right. So one of the things that are rhetorician or an orator can do is present facts selectively. So you cherry pick, why and this is something that’s fundamentally counter to the scientific method. And the experts and doing that on newspapers and the news media. So the one piece of advice that I feel I would give to anybody who is looking at this at the moment is not to get public health advice from the mainstream news media. Why? Because whether they’re left or right or whatever, they always misrepresent scientific, like, You’re much better going to like credible scientific sources, even government sources directly. government reports or things like New Scientist or Scientific American.

John Ball
I get my science news from New Scientist every week.

Donald Robertson
The Telegraph and The Guardian and Fox, they will just pick whatever information fits their agenda and then kind of ignore or trivialise anything that doesn’t and there’s an art to doing that focusing your attention on just ignoring certain sites. We caught selective thinking and therapy is fundamental to many mental health problems. So for example, when somebody is anxious, they’ll spot signs of danger and focus on them like a magnifying glass, but they’ll ignore signs of safety that other people might notice that would counteract it. Yeah. So they don’t arrive at a balanced appraisal of the situation because they’re only looking at potentially, from a one sided perspective. It’s the same with depression, when people are clinically depressed, they have cognitive biases. So they’ll only look at the bad stuff. If someone with clinical depression writes a book and they get hundred reviews on Amazon and 99 of them say that it’s either amazing or it’s at least you know, reasonably good, but there’s one review that says it was garbage and knowing they’re worst writer in the universe. a depressed person will only talk, think, remember the negative review and they’ll kind of ignore, trivialise or sideline all the other ones, in many cases, because they have this unconscious, negative schematic bias that prime’s them to focus. It’s like confirmation bias. They’ll look for information that maintains depression and we see it, angry people will look for evidence that maintains of anger and ignore evidence that would contradict it. This is one of the risks with whipping up emotions that strongly maintain themselves by looking at details in a selective way. And so it’s wanted us to be more balanced and more rounded in our appraisal situations, to calmly look at all of the facts and, you know, often that means arriving at a kind of provisional and a mixed conclusion, acknowledging ambiguity and uncertainty in some cases.

so that leads us into what’s the relationship between these things, you know, this all kicked off with the sophists arrived on the scene in ancient Athens roundabout, like 400, and ran with 450 BC a little bit earlier. So the first major surface was a guy called Protagoras. And then there were a bunch of other famous sophists that folowed in his wake, and they were a revolutionary figures in the education, the culture of Athens, we get our word sophistication from the Sophists. They taught culture, virtues sophistication, and the use of language in political assemblies and and more courts to the Athenians, and they became like pop stars, they would tour all the cities and they get paid a fortune for giving these speeches. And this is where the, you know, in a sense, how rhetoric and oratory develop the also self improvement gurus, and wherever you’d find us office in ancient Athens, you’d also find Socrates, because he followed them around by and he loved the sophists, he had a frenemy relationship with them. He loved to argue with them, but he also like to quote them, so he didn’t just hate them, he liked a lot of things about them. But he also said that you guys are kind of the opposite of me. Because you will say whatever the crowd wants to hear, right, you just want to attract the biggest crowd and the biggest round of applause. So we would take, today we would say you’re sell outs to essentially what Socrates was calling these guys, and he said like real philosophy is the opposite. You know, sometimes you have to tell people things that they don’t want to hear. And you know, so you have to do, think things through more meticulously. He said the sophists would give a long, elaborate sweet speeches, but they didn’t really engage in question and answer approach that he was known for. So when he talked to them, he said, You need to just speak one sentence at a time so I can evaluate each step along the way of what you’re saying. And, and so there was always this kind of rivalry between the Sophists, and the and the philosophers, especially in the Socratic tradition, and the stoics are very much in the Socratic tradition. Now, Marcus really is the last famous stoic. When he was a young man, he he was appointed Caesar by the preceding Emperor Antoninus Pius, but also his adoptive grandfather. He was adopted by Antoninus Pius but that made his adoptive grandfather more Famous Roman Emperor, Hadrian. So Hadrian was really the one that chose Marcus Aurelius to be part of this long term succession and Marcus Aurelius had to study rhetoric, both in Greek and Latin. He was fluent in Greek rhetoric although he was Roman, and was born at Rome, his father was Spanish. And so he was a highly accomplished, or at least fairly highly accomplished orator and speechwriter, both in Greek and Latin. And the meditations is his book is written in Greek. And so people read it they like, it survives, because in some ways, it’s well written, people don’t tend to think of it as a kind of literary masterpiece, but it is well written and that’s one of the reasons that people love it today. It’s mainly lots of little passages or aphorisms, which is typical of a stoic approach. And then in the 19th century, an Italian scholar called Angelo May found some letters, a cache of letters between Marcus Aurelius and his rhetoric teacher, a guy called Marcus Aurelius Fronto, who is, by Romans considered almost like a second Cicero. He was like, in his day a highly acclaimed teacher of rhetoric and a sophist, part of a movement called the second sophistic. And one of the odd things about those letters, is that we can see Fronto becoming anxious about the fact that Marcus in his late teens is becoming more and more enamoured of stoic philosophy, and in particular his stoic mentor, a guy called Junius Rusticus. And we know that eventually, Marcus kind of made this break and he went from studying rhetoric he carried on studying and using rhetoric, but at some point, he made a shift to thinking no, my main thing I’m going to major known as it were, metaphorically in stoic philosophy rather than than rhetoric, like a student who kind of changes the subject halfway through a degree course, and you see fronto getting a little bit anxious about losing his precious student, the future Emperor. And he’s also a close family friend. And these private letters that were never meant for publication becomes a real insight into the private life of this famous Roman Emperor. But Fronto says some interesting things to Marcus about what we’re talking about right now the relationship between rhetoric and philosophy. And frontal says, Look, he says, He says it very well. He puts it very well actually.

He says philosophers have to ask a lot of questions, and they analyse things very deeply. In order to do that they have to make fine distinctions, distinctions that other people don’t normally make. Like earlier, when we talked about cognitive distancing. This is a contact that people can explain where it’s not familiar concepts to everybody. So sometimes they have to introduce neologisms, technical terms and his way of putting it as philosopher speaking paradoxes, Now, paradoxia in Greek means contrary to popular opinion. So they have to say things that people don’t understand, that seem alien strange to them, because they’re struggling to kind of articulate subtle truths, by, by the very nature of philosophy, and Fronto says, but the thing is you have to be able to call these abstract concepts and words that people can understand. Otherwise, what’s the point of it? And he’s talking about for the benefit of others. You could also say for your own benefit, as well. And Francis says the art of, Fronto has a very interesting idea of rhetoric by the way, for such an influential rhetorician. He says something really quite stunning about what he thinks the discipline of rhetoric entails. He tells us, this is the essence of rhetoric, and he doesn’t describe the conventional tropes and so on. He methods, he what he says very bluntly is that to be a great rhetorician, you have to put more effort than normal, into trying to identify exactly the right word or phrase to express your meaning. And he says to do that you have to study obscure poetry. You have to study culture, you have to know art, you have to learn a lot of phrases and words from other writers. So you know, you have this treasure trove that you can dip into. He says, when you’re expressing something you should use a novel phrase or word because it will grab the attention of your audience. And it has to be a phrase that better expresses the meaning that you intend than the common way of articulating it. And he says, if you’re just using novelty for the sake of it, that’s bad rhetoric. It needs to be novel and actually articulate your concept better than the common way of putting it would. And he says, sometimes it takes me days or you know, or longer to come up with just one word for a speech to kind of really capture the point I’m trying to make, and that’s remarkable. And he says to Marcus, when you’re writing, you should practice taking philosophical sayings. He says, wise maxims, paradoxes and he says rephrase them at least two or three times, trying to find the right metaphor, or the just the right word, a figure of speech to articulate it in a memorable and evocative manner. And so people read that and these letters by Fronto, as partly haven’t seen, look, you need rhetoric and philosophy to complement one another. And then they looked at the meditations, and they thought, wow, I mean, it looks like that might be what he’s doing in the meditations. So here in these letters, we have this guy telling him when he’s a teenager, you should practice this writing exercise. And then we have his book The Meditations which where he seems to be that with explained the unusual format and structure of that book. But it’s just a lot of disconnected sayings. And often he’s repeating the same point many times, but using expressing it in different ways, using different analogies metaphors to get his point across, because he wants to really kind of nail the idea and make it that this is for himself, although it is possible that some of these things he’s practising to incorporate into speeches later. But I think it’s mainly for his own benefit. He wants to come out with just the right phrases. We talked about these glasses, he says that our value judgments are like a beam of light, shining on an object and eliminating it. And he said that, you know, light illuminates objects, surely pure light, the light of the sun, he said, should eliminate objects, and it’s neither. It’s not exhausted by them, nor absorbed by them, not deflected by them, but it just spreads over the surface, and he thinks this is what consciousness should be like his way of articulating it. So we don’t become, he seemed we shouldn’t become too immerged or identify too much or too invested in the things that we’re looking at in a kind of dispassionate way just to illuminate them.

John Ball
Yeah. Isn’t that is incredibly fascinating. And one of the things that I took away from listening to your book on how to think like a Roman Emperor, was this thing about the sort of, almost anto-sophistry sort of thing of note is not all about the flourishes and the emotion of it, like the message is the core part, I think, well, that’s just most of the points that are just as relevant today as they were all those years ago, in very different society. And I see so many people who get up on stage is that public speaking is a much bigger, much bigger thing now than it was then but it’s still a very lucrative profession for people and it’s still a very influential profession as well in many ways, and an influential tool, but if people aren’t professional speakers, although you could argue that, in many ways politicians are professional speakers to some degree, and that as the same kinds of things of like, is it entertaining for your ego, so you look good and the people love you, or is it actually to challenge people? And are you actually giving something of value to people that are taken away like you, like you said it very effective are all in the book of it should be something that causes you to think not just something that you go along and you feel good whilst you’re there as like, yeah. And we see a lot of that still, I think, whereas I don’t know how many times people actually go somewhere and feel challenged by somebody’s talk and, and maybe again, that relates to some of this thing. People do not like being made to feel uncomfortable.

Donald Robertson
It’s hard and you know, even today, for sure there are politicians, self-development, personal development gurus there are social media influencers, all in a sense descendents of the sophists, all in sense using not rhetoric, because it’s normally understood, but certainly some kind of rhetoric quiet, that’s part and parcel of what they do for a living. And, you know, like, in that situation is difficult for people to avoid the temptation to just say stuff that gets a reaction. They’re not people that make an entire career out of being contrarian in the media and just saying things that they know are going to be shocking. And there’s a whole industry of that that’s quite a, you know, in a sense, that slightly sinister thing like, you know, like news programmes paying for like the political opponents of their perspective to come on and say crazy stuff. So that the audience has gone ‘I can’t believe what people just did, just said on CNN, All right, it’s outrageous, this guy on Fo and, they just said that most outrageous thing’ and people get really worked up about it, but like they does engineered, right. And they know that you’re going to be provoked by certain things and the guests do that on purpose and, and also the way that, you know, the industry and political memoirs is a obviously we’re at the moment. We haven’t made the Trump presidency. But, I say not Donald Trump himself the number of people that have had million dollar book deals, and from the White House staff is outrageous, and it’s an egregious problem. Because you know, these people are earning far more money from book deals than they are from their jobs and government. And you know, they thrive in chaos because the more ridiculous and catastrophic the situation is that they’re involved with the more books they’re going to sell when they comment on it later. We’re kind of rewarding them for like, you know, standing by and watching chaos happen. It’s so potentially we you know, we reward people for saying things are sensational or shocking or we reward people just for telling us things that we already want to hear. And you know, you can’t go far wrong just by figuring out what people want to hear and telling them exactly what they want to hear. But they’re probably not going to learn that much from it. If you write a book and you only get positive reviews for it’s probably rubbish, right? It’s probably bland, right? Show me a famous, innovating important historical figure that didn’t have any critics. My favourite example someone who did would be Charles Darwin, he was ridiculed mercilessly during his lifetime people drew cartoons over them repeatedly in the newspaper portraying him as a monkey by the thought he was the devil incarnate. You know, the thought even what he was saying was, was outrageous and ridiculous, because he was saying something that was innovative and important. So I, you know, even Shakespeare had bad reviews. One reviewer called him an upstart crw. Even long after his death, TS Eliot said he thought Hamlet was not a good person, terrible play. But it didn’t make any sense. Yeah. So I think if you’re saying something meaningful and important and original, like Socrates, you’re going to rock the boat, and they’re going to be people that don’t like that. And if you’re just saying stuff that everybody likes, you’re probably just appealing to the lowest common denominator in a sense, and, you know, you’re saying something that’s vanilla and generic and bland. It’s not interesting enough to be offensive to anyone. If you speak the truth, there’s always going to be people that don’t like that and it’s not gonna you’re not gonna be embraced by you know, as big an audience so there’s always attention. It’s always attention to sell out, right. Like if you say what people want to hear, hear or what they immediately want you to say, you know, you’re potentially going to be, and that was Socrates concern with sophists and he said, You guys are literally competing against each other, to see who can get the biggest round of applause. Because there’s no way that you can stand up there and stick to saying things you genuinely believe that’s gone out of the window, right? You’re just literally saying whatever you think, is going to impress the audience more than the next guy, regardless of whether it’s true or false, regardless of what the consequences for society are, like, it’s like, totally, it’s just an entire game for you. And he said we need to kind of back away from that, and, you know, really try to get back to trying to really uncover the truth and think about the ethics of what we’re seeing and doing. The stoics were thoroughly amassed and that side of the Socratic tradition.

John Ball
Interestingly, I’ve been running a series within my podcast about humour and presentations and comedy and I’ve been lucky enough to get connected with a lot of professional comedians and in the chats I’ve been having. It’s been fascinating. But this makes me think of comedy as well as you’re talking about thinking about how true that is in very obviously driving in that world. I, some of the people who are considered the most amazing comedians who’ve ever lived though, some of them no longer with us, but you know, you sort of think to the most outrageous people like Lenny Bruce is considered one of the edgiest people out there and he certainly was not short of critics, but he stayed true to his, to his act into what he wanted to do. And I think people like George Carlin as well who I absolutely loved was very much saying stuff that challenged people as well as well as being funny and of course not everyone is gonna like that. And but you can see there are so many people who go for the blander side of that, where they’re trying to please pretty much everybody Never going to escape all criticism but in enough to be popular with the vast majority of people we see, we see very much that the people pleasing thing actually means you can’t be true to your values.

Donald Robertson
And you can’t be as creative either. As soon as you’re creative and you present something new to people, especially if it’s radically new, if you’re coming at things from a new angle, then you’re going to alienate some people, by maybe the people look back on, same with music, same with anything, you know, 10, 20 years later, you might be remembered as a historic innovator. But at the time, there’s probably people that just don’t get it by or can’t stand it. Why? Because precisely because it’s new. That’s the paradox, the paradox of innovation. Right here. There’s always going to be some people that think it’s like, it’s a terrible idea. So the stoics you know, they it’s not that they hate rhetoric, they just think it’s like a loaded weapon. And we need to be more careful careful about how we use it. And so particularly, we need to be careful about how we use rhetoric on ourselves. We see that clear as day in therapy. So there may be ways you could use even use rhetoric, like to motivate yourself. So in a constructive way. I know that there’s a way that there’s room for using metaphors to communicate ideas in therapy, and so on. But when you listen to the client’s internal dialogue, when you ask them to write down their thoughts and tell you what’s going on, if I sit in a consulting room in front of a client and I say, like, tell me how you’re feeling? How did you feel about something that happened to you yesterday, like, and then I just listened to what they’re saying. They they’re oblivious to the fact often that they’re using selective thinking or over generalisation, that, you know, they’re using these kind of like vivid metaphors to evoke emotion. Rather than just describing the facts more objectively, so you get this kind of whole layer of language. being used to manipulate to store emotion. And usually people are oblivious to the fact that they’re doing it as just how they talk. Like, someone shot me down in flames, they tore a strip off me. You mean they said that they didn’t agree with something you said? Why you put it I seems trivial. Yeah. Why? Well, I guess so. Why? But like, it felt as if, you know, and but you think it’s that it could be the language that you’re using, like that might be.

And another thing I’d say is that people often say, people often think of their language as a consequence of their feelings. So they go you know, I felt really angry. So that was why I was talking about like that, and seeing it was a disaster and this guy was an asshole and an idiot and stuff and like, you know, I can’t I’m tired. I guess it’s just how I feel like, um, you know, it’s just the way I talk about it is, you know, because I’m so angry about it. So it’s the feelings, the fence. That caused them to talk about it like that. But what we’d normally say is well, could it be also the other way around? Could it maybe also be the way you’re talking about it is causing your feelings or maintaining them? Or the way I’d explain it to clients as gosh, you know, yeah, like I’m starting to get quite angry about listening to the way describe and but hang on a minute play you know, maybe do you think it’s the way you’re describing it as contributing because it started to me me feel quite anxious or quite angry? Why if, Yeah, I’m starting to think maybe you’re right, maybe this guy is an asshole, maybe this is a complete disaster, you’re pretty persuasive. You know, like but you know, I think maybe you’re having that effect on yourself and if that’s deliberate then fair play, but do you want to do that? Are you doing it on purpose? Well, obviously no, not doing it on purpose. Maybe you should look more carefully at what’s going on.

John Ball
That was definitely one of the valuable things I took away from your book was the decatastrophizing in life and thinking yeah, that’s really something we can all benefit from and probably need to check in with ourselves more regularly than we generally do on things like that. But one of the other things that I also particularly got from that and was about just the thinking about purpose in life, and that how much better the world would be if we, if we all had at least more of a personal philosophy, even if it wasn’t the stoicism that people just don’t seem to have their own philosophy and what do you think that, I’m trying to think of the right way to say this, but it probably was really taught in schools right? And in ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, it was considered a primary subject, right? But it’s not really now. So is it something that you think should be being taught in schools?

Donald Robertson
I think it’s really being taught in schools. But I think it’s always going to be a problem for the state. Because, gosh, my lessons almost like a radical thing to say, but I think it’s obvious to say, if you get kids to think too radically about politics, ethics society, like any state is going to start to feel a bit anxious about whether you’re raising a generation of revolutionaries or something or like, you know, like, do like we’re so close to Socrates. Right? Why are we gonna have whole classrooms full of little Socrates? Questioning everything really deeply. But can we handle that? You know, so I can see why society the older generations and also the state in general and the education system, we have, ironically, do have a vested interest in discouraging too much radical questions. I mean, first thing people that work in education are well intentioned, but they’re in they are in a situation where they, you know, it’s difficult for them or for kids start to radically question the whole premise of the establishment that they’re in and, you know, things like that whole like premises on which the teaching methods are based? You know, like, if you question too many things, the whole thing starts to fall apart, it seems,

John Ball
But you think then that if we taught more critical thinking and philosophy in schools, it would lead to anarchy.

Donald Robertson
Yeah, I think it may, I think, and I think that’s, that’s the anxiety anyway, would it in practice? I don’t know. I think I think maybe it would cause a lot of disruption. But I think certainly people are motivated to keep it within certain bounds. Because there’s a fear that if kids start to question things too radically, well, you know, that it’ll turn into something resembling anarchy. For sure. And but you know, like, why did why don’t we have a philosophy of life? I’ll tell you there are many reasons, but I’ll tell you one, because kids are born, you know, they grow up, they look around, they copy what they see other people doing like that’s how children develop to a large extent and look at that dad, and the mom and see how they respond to things I ever see that like children emulate their parents, by their peers. And then gradually, they begin to think more independently for themselves, go through these developmental stages. So the problem, one of the problems with that is that you get a kind of biassed perception of things. I mean, I think someone could write an entire book very simply about the way in which our thinking is biassed by the simple given facts that we learn about other people mainly by observing their external behaviour.

Like, for instance, we massively underestimate how prevalent mental health problems are. Because people don’t normally tell you that they have them. 52% of Americans, the majority of Americans have, at some point in their past met diagnostic criteria for a psychiatric condition. Right. But if you’re sitting on a bus, you wouldn’t think most of the people on this bus have either had a mental health problem in the past or currently have one. Because they don’t wear a little of badge or something to tell you that. So as a kid growing up, you’re looking around and you develop a kind of you construct a picture of the world, which is false, right? It’s not true. Why? Partly because a lot of things are hidden from you. We underestimate how much debt people earn because people don’t wear a T shirt saying I owe the bank 100 grand or whatever. So we know why we know that that is very common in many animation. America and in the UK and Canada, but people look around them and think, geez, that guy that I work with has got a fancy car, and how come he can afford all these expensive clothes and stuff? Often we don’t realise how much debt people are getting in order to maintain these appearances is the people living a lie in a sense, also how prevalent physical, chronic health conditions are. If we knew like somehow, if the world was more transparent and we knew what people were feeling that they had backache or they were anxious about surgery they had coming up and stuff. And we change the way we understand someone in the shop, being a bit short with us, or a colleague, you know, not paying attention properly in a meeting. So we misunderstand the dynamic of what’s going on all around us all the time. Because there’s loads of really basic important information that we just don’t see. Simple stuff that people just like to keep private. So it’s hidden, it’s a world that’s hidden from us. So children grow up. And they look around and they see this kind of fake version of the world around them. And that’s kind of what they base, generation after generation after generation, from ancient Greece down to present day by they get a fake view of the world as they’re growing up by its very nature, right? And then they also see people trying to accumulate money and reputation. And they think that must be important. Looks like it’s like the main thing like everyone else seems to be doing it. If you’re a kid, and you’re looking around, wouldn’t you think a lot people seem to think money’s important and property and reputation status and stuff like that, right. But when people reflect on it, what the stoics and Socrates said is that within our own hearts and our minds, we reflect on these things. If we say, you know, as Aristotle phrased, actually, what do you want money for the sake of? If you dig deeper, it’s just a means to an end. Nobody wants money for its own sake. It’s just about paper. A number on a computer screen well. Aristotle said, yeah, it’s, it’s simply a tool, it’s a means to an end, it’s of no value in and of itself. It’s only a value insofar as it contributes to eudaimonia, or fulfilment, somehow, whether or not even does. So people think it’s going to lead to freedom, happiness or something like fulfilment. And that’s why they pursue money. But often they lose sight of that and just become fixated on the means to the end and forget what it was that they wanted it for in the first place. And then that often leads them in the opposite direction, so the accumulate money in a way that leads them farther and farther away from fulfilment. But if you’re a kid, you’d look around and think I can’t see that people are trying to get eudaimonia, that they’re trying to become fulfilled. All I see is I’m running around after money and arguing about it. And you know, I’m trying to defend their ego and boost their status and reputation and stuff. So you can see why people like children growing up, generation after generation, get duped into thinking that externals are the meaning of life. And then you know, it’s only through doing some sort of existential crisis almost that people like the pandemic for many people they start to think maybe this, maybe all this shit won’t make me happy you know, maybe it doesn’t really matter how many likes I get on Facebook, or how big my house is? You know, and the fear the idea that you know, we could all die You know, I even though actually in reality,the vast 99% of people are more likely to die are gonna die from something else. Not Coronavirus. The pandemic has been trivialised by politicians in the media right out of the gate. To epidemiologist it was clearly much more severe than, a serious problem many politicians were making out to be and the public got confused by that. But nevertheless, at the same time The fact is that you’re more likely to die of heart disease or cancer, you know, Something’s definitely gonna get you. Eventually, we all die eventually. It’s probably not going to be the coronavirus. But the fact that it looms large in our society, I think has made a lot of people question their values, think about their mortality. And also things like in Toronto where I lived before, I was amazed when I was a kid eating out in a restaurant was something that you did we when I was a kid, maybe we did that twice a year. Why are you know maybe as I got older, I saw people would do it once every couple of weeks or something as a treat. Whearas now the young people in Toronto, I watch them and my friends eat in restaurants almost every day, sometimes twice a day, and there is no way economically that makes sense because when you spend money in a restaurant or in a bar That’s gone, you know, disappears. It’s an incredibly extravagant way to spend money. And so I think, and lockdown people have suddenly been becoming more modest in their lifestyle in many cases. And I think it’s led a lot of people to question whether they needed to do some of the things that they were doing before. Maybe they’re even happier.

John Ball
I noticed that with some of my clients, so some of them are really appreciating being at home and is making them reevaluate things in their life and think actually, yeah, I maybe don’t need to be commuting all the time. Maybe there are more important things than working all these hours and…

Donald Robertson
People are reading a lot more books. Yeah. And some people tell me that they’re happier doing that. They go for walks in the park on their own, like they’re happier doing that. And then the next question would be so, why were you before like going out to bars all the time and fancy restaurants and things like that so much if it was costing a lot of money and it wasn’t really making you feel happy or fulfilled. And often the answer to that is I don’t know. It’s just what people do. And I was because other people were doing it right. And it was a prevailing culture and I just kind of like fell in with it. It was the norm didn’t like and again… Yeah, it’s like it comes back to this thing of kids looking around and thinking I don’t know, what you’re supposed to do in life? Apparently, you’re meant to go around chasing after money and fame. It seems to be what everyone else is doing. But then in a crisis, people are like, Yeah, that would really make you happy. So you know, the stoics want us to accelerate that process think right now about your own mortality. Don’t wait until you’re on your deathbed. You know, it’s too late then. Think about it now and think about it. You know, what really is the purpose in your life what’s actually going to make you fulfilled. People spend a lot of time doing things no one has ever had on their tombstone written I wish I’d spent more time on social media.

John Ball
You’r hope not, right?

Donald Robertson
Or on their death bed, if only I’d spent more time on Facebook? If only I’d watched more YouTube videos. We should ,the stories want us to do it now, like ask yourself right now. If you were on your deathbed, what would you? What do you think that you should have spent your time doing during life? And you should live each moment as if it’s your last, in a sense. Kind of re calibrating your values, and thinking about what truly truly matters to you. So you don’t just go along with the prevailing morality of the majority of people that you see on the outside, but you dig deeper inside and reflect on you know, what the point of these things really is.

John Ball
It generally gets said that hindsight is 20-20. And this is almost a form of trying to step into your hindsight in the future and have it now.

Donald Robertson
Yeah, absolutely. That’s a we call it time projection sometimes in therapy is that’s a very simple thing. Certainly a very powerful one. You know, one of the easiest things to do is just ask people, you know, imagine a year from now or 10 years, where you’re looking back on the situation, how would you feel differently about it like so how would you describe it differently? What advice would you give yourself? That’s a technique I think everyone should do periodically, because it’s very natural think.

John Ball
If Stoicism was like their dominant world philosophy, prevalent everywhere, what do you think the world would look like?

Donald Robertson
What would the world look like if stoicism was the dominant philosophy? I don’t know if I could even envisage what it would look like to be honest. I mean, almost feel like we need the chaos and the confusion, we have to have something to to work on. If life was perfect. You know, we it’s the journey towards wisdom maybe the matters more than the goal itself, although the founding text of Stoicism was a utopian text says, Zeno’s Republic did describe what you’re asking for, which is a description of a utopian Stoic society, but his version so I’m a little bit split because if I told you what has utopian vision was it we didn’t say anything like how someone would describe it today. It sounds almost like a kind of an anarcho-communist state, men and women wore the same clothes, law courts were abolished, currencies abolished, property is held in common, children are raised in common. There’s no legal conflicts, no wars, and everybody’s equal. Everybody’s admitted regardless of race or gender. You know, nobility of birth, physical condition or whatever. So these are the things we’re told I like about the stoic Republic. I think that it would have to be a more modest lifestyle that people adopted the where there was more consideration extended towards poorer nations and a greater emphasis on international law and human rights

John Ball
Do you think there’s anyone who even comes close to like the philosopher King style of leadership of Marcus Aurelius?

Donald Robertson
Not today. I don’t think so. Like people often ask that question and they want me to come up, I really couldn’t find there are politicians that I might admire certain qualities of, that… no. Because all politicians in the current climate, or certainly the majority of them are morally compromised to some extent by things like their sources of funding that support them their relationships with big media outlets and stuff like that. Why? So the very system in which they operate, I think makes it virtually impossible for them to embrace philosophical values. The answer I usually give to this question is someone asked me to identify the people I’ve met in life that most closely resemble a stoic sage, in all honesty, and there are people that were regular guys and women that you would never have heard of, who lived in small towns, in relative obscurity, and several of them are people who are recovering drug addicts or alcoholics. So not famous politicians or celebrities. So they are people that just lead a very simple life, and maybe hit rock bottom and then clawed thier way back from it and decided that they wanted to try and make the world a better place and help other people and are quite sincere about it. And those people who left impression on me, made me think that they embodied some of these cardinal virtues of stoicism But they’re not people that live in the limelight.

John Ball
Do you ever ask yourself what would Marcus Aurelius do in this situation?

Donald Robertson
Yeah, a lot. I mean, you know, we the the stoics actually tell us to do that. So Epictetus told his students to several times he’d say, ask yourself, what Xenao would do or what Socrates would do, and I think sometimes people get confused by the history. So, like, when you ask that question, like you always get somebody giving a smart aleck response, like arguing probably they’d have lots of slaves to deal with the problem for them or something like that. You know, but it’s the principle that matters. What would somebody do if they had courage and self-discipline and stoic wisdom, they believe that virtue is the only true good. This is why the stoics say what we should do is construct a hypothetical sage, a hypothetical ideal in a kind of abstract way, and think what would the sage do, what would the perfect wise man or woman do in this situation so we don’t get distracted by the historical details associated with any particular role mode. But I often will think what would Marcus Aurelius or what would Socrates or what would somebody else do? There’s lots of techniques like this we use in therapy. One of my favourite ones is if you imagine there’s like a whole panel of people are completely impartial and completely rational observers. And then you try to explain to them why you think your boss is an asshole, or why you think it’s, it’s just an unbeatable injustice, that your neighbour was rude to you in the street yesterday or something, whatever. And you know, you’re in court and you’re trying to pur your case to them, and then imagine how how they might respond and the questions they would ask you what they think about it. Because kind of look at it’s like looking in a mirror and realising how absurd, you know, often a lot of these techniques are really just about making us more aware of the arbitrariness and absurdness of some of our existing attitudes.

John Ball
You recently had a big chat with Ryan Holiday. What did you guys end up talking about?

Donald Robertson
I think we were talking about Marcus Aurelius, a little bit about the history and stuff. So I did his podcast. And, you know, I’m very interested in what Ryan does, because it’s a different approach. And it’s a different audience that he has, so I think it’s really cool that he’s embraced stoicism. And you know, I can’t enjoy chatting to Ryan,

John Ball
Were there any points of difference that came up?

Donald Robertson
No, we I think we agreed, and I’ve never really talked about the things that we disagree about. LWe just kind of get chating about stoicism and about Marcus Aurelius. I think we, I think at least in the discussion that we had, we kind of pretty much just agreed with each other and were just enjoying talking about hobby.

John Ball
I found his books and and your book and a lot of your online content as well to be some of the most accessible ways into understanding stoicism and being able to apply that and I said before we started recording one of the things I really loved about your audiobook was that you recorded it, because you don’t often hear regional accents in audiobooks, and it was really refreshing to hear your voice and hear a Scottish accent and an audio book. And of course, you read your own material very well, it was it was very enjoyable.

Donald Robertson
It is a bit of a gamble because my publisher wanted us to use a voice actor, and we had a bit of a debate about it, but I had to go to Austria. I was going to Austria, to Carnunton where Marcus Aurelius wronte The Meditations. And so we only agreed at the last minute that I would record the audio book. And so I had to do it in pretty gruelling, like eight or nine hour sessions, you’d maybe normally just a couple of hours at a time in the studio. What’s hard about that is you have to sit on a stool in front of a little light. So it’s kind of like eight hours solid or whatever on the back it’s kind of hard work. And then just saying the same things over and over again, but we did it. And then I had my bags with me, I remember and I went straight from the recording studio to the airport to catch my flight, and just finished just in time, and then just in the nick of time for me to catch my flight to Austria.

John Ball
That doesn’t come accross in the book, it just sounds…

Donald Robertson
It was in the studio that does Paw Patrol, you know, the kids.

John Ball
I know of it, I’ve never actually watched it.

Donald Robertson
Not a fan?

John Ball
No, I don’t have kids.

Donald Robertson
They normally do paw patrol. You said earlier, but really, I can’t think of anything that Ryan says I particularly disagree with except like and obstacles the way he mentions some of the role models he mentions on people that I would have picked as role models. But that’s inevitable. When I reviewed that book, I said, Yeah, I think we have to assume that that’s going to happen if you pick political figures and, and so on.

But there are people that write books and stoicism that I don’t agree with. And sometimes it’s because they make they’ll make psychological claims. Like I love Bill Irvine’s book. But there’s bits of it that I don’t agree with in terms of psychology, on the interpretation of stoicism. And then there’s a couple of those books sometimes by people who try to make stoicism into this kind of macho thing where it’s like toxic masculinity almost it’s kind of this idea of like being hyper-tough and they’re confusing it with lowercase stoicism sometimes, It’s a care cynical philosophy where you, you know, just don’t really give a shit. about anything, and don’t let anything hurt your feelings and you know, but there’s no social dimension toit, no compassion or anything like that at all. So stoicism was the one of the main influences on early Christian ethics. And when you bear that in mind, you know all the stuff but brotherly love, ethical cosmopolitanism, you know that all that comes into Christianity, in part from Stoicism. So then these people that kind of think it’s all about having a stiff upper lip and not giving a shit about other people, that clearly isn’t compatible with that whole dimension. And so sometimes what I say to them that when you read Marcus Aurelius, have you noticed that on almost every page in meditations, he talks about compassion, natural affection, justice, fairness, kindness towards others. cosmopolitanism, or social virtue, basically, in general is one of the main topics of the entire book. And what really interests me Is that sometimes people who kind of want a macho, stiff upper-lip interpretation of stoicism will say, I didn’t notice any of that. Like they’ve read the entire book. They have a kind of blind spot. It’s almost every page he’s talking about this stuff. They just ignored that and again, it’s like selective thinking. It reminds me of a quote from William Blake. He said, We both read the Bible day and night, but you read black where I read white. So they’ve managed to read this entire book and they say they love this book, but the hardly noticed half of what was written in it. And so I’m in favour of kind of redressing that imbalance by putting more emphasis on the social virtues side of stoicism, the Cosmopolitan tradition that stems from and also what stoics have to say about anger and love and the interpersonal emotions. That was always integral to stoicism, but for some of the people that are writing about it now that’s completely left out.

John Ball
Yeah, I guess. I loved I loved your book and love where you put it. And I agree with you on all these values. I think they’re important. And we want to see more of that. To me that is, Marcus Aurelius is still one of the, if not the greatest example of great leadership, how how it can be done when you have someone who has wisdom and compassion and makes the best decisions they can and keeps themselves humble as well. I can’t think of anyone else that that really comes close. But that like the book that you wrote by dresses things up so well, puts the case so well, and you can start it off talking about his deathbed experience. So that was kind of interesting. I just want to come to that before we sort of wrap things up. But when you were talking about the deathbed experience, it’s almost kind of things that were going on in his mind is that is that stuff that you were imagining was going on in his mind?

Donald Robertson
In the last chapter the book, almost like… I should have said more about this in the book, but if I do a second edition I’ll fix this. Because there were some people, a couple of people reviewed that book, and one person review that, and they said they described it as a novel. And a couple other people reviewed it and said, Well, I thought the stoicism was good, but I don’t understand why he made up all these stories with Marcus Aurelius. And I thought, look at the footnotes, like they’re, they’re all derived from the surviving Roman histories, right? This is biographical. It’s based on the historical evidence, these are true stories, or at least they, you know, they’re based on historical accounts that we have. And it’s not it’s not fiction, and its biographies, its historical biography. And all of its referenced. In the last chapter, some people said, oh… someone emailed me once, I hope they don’t take offence if I mention this. So I won’t mention their name. But someone emailed me and said I liked your book but I thought the last chapter was terrible. I just can’t imagine that Marcus Aurelius would have said any of these things and you’re just putting words in his mouth… And I said, that entire chapter is just based on paraphrases from direct quotes that I’ve rearranged. Almost all of them are from Marcus Aurelius. And there’s like two or three from Seneca or Epictetus that I’ve inserted, but it’s mainly just a re-shuffled paraphrase of different translations of the meditations, but also I read a little bit of Greek, so when I was doing the book writing of Marcus around my courses. I have the dual texts and I consult the original Greek.So some of that maybe is more based on what the original Greek says and some of its based on some of the common translations, but those are all essentially Marcus Aurelius’ words But maybe I should have a footnote I kind of like emphasises that. I thought it was strange that somebody said Marcus Aurelius would never have said something like that. Those are quotes from Marcus Aurelius, or paraphrases from him, but what I did was organise it more thematically because meditations and organised thematically, it jumps around from one subject to another. So I wanted to make it flow more like speech. And also when I wrote it, because I knew it was going to be an audio book, I specifically wrote the last chapter so that when people listen to it in the audiobook, it would be like a guided meditation. And I thought, I’m not even gonna say anything. I’m just gonna do that and see if anybody experiences that way. And sure enough, a lot of the reviewers, people that have emailed me, said oh, you know, I just listened to the last chapter four or five times. I listen to it in my car every day. So, I treat it like a visualisation technique or something. I thought maybe it’s all for the top folks. It’s all about dying. And I thought, you know, maybe it’s too much and I thought nah, i’ll just do it anyway and see what people think. But like generally when people have reviewed it, that’s their favourite part of the book. Apart from maybe one person that didn’t like it.

John Ball
I did like it. I like the whole thing of not necessarily embracing death, just seeing it as inevitable and it’s just, it’s going to happen and being okay with it, being at peace with it. That was, if you have a choice of how you’re going to go, that’s a good way to go.

Donald Robertson
Oh, here’s like a… One day, something I’ll do, an interview where I talk more about the process of writing. Because I loved the experience that I had, but I suppose I’ve been writing books for quite a long time and stuff, but I don’t really think of myself as a professional writer. Although that is pretty much what I do all the time now. I’m now doing a graphic novel, which seems really weird to me. I don’t know very much about comics and graphic novels, but I’m well and truly in the middle of doing it now. So part of the process of writing that book was, I thought, I mean with the publisher and so I’m like, kind of arrived at the conclusion that we do chronological account of Marcus Aurelius’ life. And I thought, okay, so there’s clearly a problem with this because it starts off kind of with a training montage. You start off with his education, which I love. It’s the most interesting part for me, actually. But it’s kind of a little bit bland, it’s not a very dramatic place to open the book. And so I thought, Okay, what so we need to dig deep and look for a radical solution to that and I thought, well, let’s start with him dying. That’s pretty dramatic. And then we can go back and go through the rest of his life in chronological order. Like that wasn’t obvious at first I thought I start with him dying. Okay, now we’ve got something dramatic, the first chapter, and then we can go into his education and stuff. And then I thought, well, this creates a problem. For me, because now I’m not really sure how to end the book. Because then we have the Civil War with Aviduis Cassius. And then what happens after that is that Commodus then goes and ruins everything. Basically, overturns a lot of things that his father did. I didn’t really want to get into that, it’s not that relevant to the story. And it’s not, it’s a bit of a negative note to end on anyway, historically. So, I thought ‘How am I going to end this story? I’ve written a backwards’ and I thought, I have no idea. I’ll just have to write it and then I’ll figure it out when I get it to the end, hopefully, touch wood. And then as I was writing, I thought, I know what I’m gonna do. I can’t think of a way to end it. I feel like at the end, he has, you have to cover him dying. And I thought, well, what if I could do it twice? Why so we have him dying in the first chapter and also in the last chapter. I thought I can’t do that, it’s the same thing twice. And I thought, what if I tell it from a completely different perspective? And then I thought, what if I shift to a first person perspective? And at the time, that seems like a ridiculous idea. I’ve never read a book that changes to first person perspective in the last chapter, or like abruptly, and so, it seems weird. Like, can I get away with doing the southern? Oh, yeah, let’s do that.

John Ball
I feel it worked.

Donald Robertson
I think there was only one person that said, Why the hell has it suddenly changed the first person in the last chapter, but everyone else seems to be good with that. And so that was my attempt to figure out how I could solve this problem of the narrative structure, if we tell his story, it needs to start off and end with something memorable. I thought sneakily, I’m going to use a framing story where I tell the same part of the story twice, but from a different perspective. That is a that’s an odd thing to do. And but yeah…

John Ball
It’s a great device. I feel it worked very well. And so I’m very, very cognizant time you and it’s been really wonderful chatting with you. But I’m also aware that we you have your own life outside of the being a podcast guest as well. And so I want to bring things to a close by asking, hopefully people, even if they haven’t come across stoicism before have a little bit more of an idea about that. And also why it’s such an interesting area. I think it’s relevant in leadership. I think it’s relevant in speaking, public speaking. And really just all of life and just philosophy of life is so important. How can people who may be coming across you for the first time find out more about you and maybe come and connect with you on social media?

Donald Robertson
And well, my website is just DonaldRobertson.name, it’s just my name and instead of .com it’s .name, and if they go there, I’ve got a lot of elearning courses and downloads and stuff about stoicism they can check out. And my blog, I’ve got a Medium blog I’ve put a lot of stuff on. And I’ve written six books, they can check the other ones as well if they want. And all my social media links are there, but also I’m one of the founding members of a nonprofit organisation called modern stoicism, and its website is modernstoicism.com. It’s run by a team of a multidisciplinary team of volunteers. So classicists, philosophers, psychologists, and it was founded by Christopher Gill who is professor emeritus of ancient thought in Exeter University in England. So it’s modern stoicism that organises stoic week and stoicon conference, and all this kind of stuff and everything it does is basically free. And I should also plug we have, we had the stoic on conference sheduled for Toronto. Now, obviously, we had to cancel up because the pandemic so we now have a virtual conference on the 17th of October. And just for kicks, we decided to do by donation. So people can just pay whatever they like for a ticket. And it’ll be interesting to see how many people, I’m assuming that we’re going to get a lot of people attending that way. I just announced it a couple of weeks ago, and I think we’ve got about 150 people have already registered. And I was just like teasing it. So I’m guessing we’re going to have like three or 400 people attending once we actually start the campaign to promote it online properly.

John Ball
I’ll have the link from you and get the episode out before that comes up. So maybe get a few more people on,

Donald Robertson
Get some people to come along and they’ll see a lot of talks by different authors and experts and stoicism.

John Ball
Fantastic. And so to bring things to a close then what would be one word of advice or a call to action or thought that you would like to leave people with?

Donald Robertson
A thought I would like to leave… I think that I was writing books, when anyone ever asked me to sign a book and anyone that’s got a book that I put my name on will know this, I always write a quote from Horace, that is ‘Dare to be wise’, I think the fundamental thing is to really just like the clues in the name, philosophy, the love of wisdom, like to actually value, truth and wisdom and to think it’s worth spending time and effort reflecting on your values. That’s what Socrates wanted more than anything, was just to persuade people that an unexamined life is not worth living. And you know, just that desire, the craving to really penetrate more deeply and really understand ourselves and really understand our own beliefs and values. I think that is the main thing and don’t let anyone else distract you from that and life. That’s the way to get in touch with your your true goal in life and start to get back on the path to eudaimonia and personal fulfilment, I believe.

John Ball
That’s great. It’s great thought to end on and I can personally highly recommend How to think like Roman Emperor. I thoroughly enjoyed it and well worth the time to listen or read whichever question you prefer, but Donald Robertson, thank you for joining me today. I’ve learned a lot speaking with you and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. Thank you so much.

Donald Robertson
Likewise, thanks for inviting me along.

John Ball
Well, I hope you enjoyed the show. And if you’d like to know more about stoic philosophy, I do recommend checking out Donald’s book, how to think like a Roman Emperor. He also has a lot of free resources online on his website, so do check those out too. Very good. An active Facebook group all about stoicism and what is and isn’t stoicism and often people asking lots of questions and that could be a good place to find out more. Next week I’m going to have with me a master in the area of entrepreneurship and business and this is the author and entrepreneur Daniel Priestley, who’s written books like how to be a key personal influence, entrepreneur revolution, oversubscribed, 24 assets, prolific writing, and definitely a great guy to be interviewing. We had a fantastic chat, and I know you’re not going to want to miss that. Please make sure you like and subscribe to the show. We’ll see you next time. Have a great week.

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