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.
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.
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.
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.
Hey, thanks. Thanks for having me here.
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.
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?
The lead singer from the I’m gonna forget the name of the band now… Aerosmith.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mm hmm, exactly.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Absolutely. And a lot of times very simple personal stories can make very powerful business points.
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
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.
Yeah. What other aspects are presentation and public speaking are important?
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
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?
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,
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
you haven’t we’re waiting for you, john.
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.
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.
You bet you’ve also got into the world of podcasting itself what what made you want to start your own podcast
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.
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.
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
as if you’re prepared for that there.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
Thanks, john. Thanks for having me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
I have a list of people I really want to have as guests on my show and Daniel Priestley has been up amongst the top names on that list for some time, so you can imagine how happy I was when he agreed to be a guest on my show. It’s proof that sometimes just asking will actually get you a great result.
I first met Daniel years ago when he was running Triumphant Events and have followed him online ever since. His incredible books like ‘Key Person of Influence’, ‘Oversubscribed’, ‘Entrepreneur Revolution’ and ’24 Assets’ are all great reads and for me personally, ‘Key person of influence’ has been inspirational and incredibly useful in laying out Daniel’s 5-step process to becoming a notable person in any industry.
In this chat, I got the opportunity to ask Daniel about his entrepreneurial journey, his first steps into public speaking & presentation work as well as an answer to a question I had about his ‘Key Person of Influence’ book that has been bugging me for a few years now, as I thought I was either missing something or it wasn’t really there… You’re going to have to listen to find out…
If you want to become a Key Person of Influence if you want to make a dent in the universe, visit Dent Global to find out more. You can also find Daniel on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In under his name.
To learn more about Presenting with Influence and becoming a key speaker of influence, visit my site Present Influence. If you want to get in touch with me about being a guest or recommending a guest from your network, or you’d like to be a sponsor for the show, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Linked In.
Remember to subscribe to the show and if you’re listening through Apple Podcasts, please leave us a review. See you next time.
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 excited to have with me a guest I’ve been looking forward to speaking with for a long time now. He is multiple, having multiple books author, and also the co-founder of Dent Global. He’s written books like Key Person of Influence, Over-subscribed and 24 Assets and I’m sure there’s more stuff in the way as well, but I know I’ve read many of his books many times over. So I’m really happy today to introduce Daniel Priestley.
Daniel Priestley Thanks for having me on the show.
John Ball I’m so happy you agreed to come on, you are one of those people who is on my dream list of guests that I’d like to get on. So when you agreed I was really pleased.
Daniel Priestley Let’s hope I live up to it.
John Ball No pressure, no pressure at all. Daniel, for people who may not have come across you and what you do before, I encountered you quite a while back. But I think that was maybe before Dent Global, so explain a bit about what it is you do and your business for the audience.
Daniel Priestley So my main business is dent global, we run a business accelerator for entrepreneurs, fast-growth companies. We operate in the Asia Pacific region in the Ymir region, and also in America. So we actually have a major office in Sydney, London and Toronto. And we work with about 3000 fast-growth companies globally, put them through an acceleration programme. Part of it is about discovering their value. Part of it’s about becoming a key person of influence. Part of it is about creating scalability. So that is that’s the main thing that I do. We have an amazing team of about 50 to 60 people. We’ve got our own in house video production business, our own in house book publishing company. And it services company so so we’ve got a lot of in house capability that supports the accelerator programmes. And yeah, we launched in 2010. And we’ve had some of the world’s most amazing and successful and celebrated entrepreneurs who actually teach the programme. So most of our entrepreneurs who are on the programme are learning from people who have built result companies who have been best selling authors, you know, people who have hired hundreds of people. So they’re learning from really fascinating and interesting practitioners of entrepreneurship as well.
John Ball Great. So other than your own books, you’re publishing other entrepreneurs as well.
Daniel Priestley So at the moment, we published about 400 books.
John Ball Wow! Yeah, that’s fantastic. So I think when I first encountered you was some maybe in some of your early days in the UK? I’m not sure quite when you moved over to the UK. But we met I don’t expect you to remember. But we met a couple of times at some triumphant events gigs in in London back in those days. Yeah, yeah. So is it quite a long time ago, but it got me familiar with who you are, who you were, and we got connected up on social media. So I’ve been following you like you’re pretty active on social media, and you post a lot of good stuff. I interact with you on Twitter sometimes. And so is always good to see someone who’s like really, not just doing the business, but sharing stuff and asking questions and interacting.
Daniel Priestley Twitter today gave me the notification that yesterday that I signed up 13 years ago. Quite literally a third of my life. I’ve been compulsively tweeting. So yeah, kind of weird how 13 years later, bang.
John Ball Yeah, I’ve gone from someone who almost used to be exclusively just on Facebook to almost exclusively Twitter and LinkedIn,
Daniel Priestley You’ll be on tik tok. Next, I can, I can see what’s happening. Now I can see that.
John Ball I’m not very coordinated when it comes to dancing. And I think you have to do dance routines and work on it
Daniel Priestley You have time to work on this.
John Ball I want to come back to one of the things that I’m most as most impressed me and inspired me from something that you’ve done, which is your book key person of influence. And it’s one of those books that sometimes you come across a book, for me anyway, where you read it, or listen to it because I like audiobooks, and then you have straightway had to listen to it again, which is exactly what I did. And multiple times since then. And for me is it really was an inspiration about really understanding how to get known in any industry how to really sort of start to stand out. What inspired that book for you.
Daniel Priestley Well, you So in the 2000s, so I launched my first company, which was called Triumphant Events in 2002. And we were up and down the East Coast of Australia. We were touring speakers, we were doing what’s called roadshow marketing. roadshow marketing is essentially event marketing. You put the CEO of a company on stage and you roadshow them up and down the country. And they might be launching a product, or they might be talking to existing clients about something new, you know, they might be doing fundraising, we actually launched very successfully a massive national franchise through a roadshow. So I had a speciality in roadshow marketing, with triumphant events. And that company grew very big, very fast, it went from zero to 10 million of revenue, before I was 25. So it was pretty, pretty insane. One of the tactics for filling rooms was that we used to hire professional speakers who had a bit of a following. And we knew that if we put them on the stage that wow, the audience and give a really great experience. So if you’re putting a boring CEO who’s not very good at speaking, on a stage, you kind of want to have them, you want to have something else on the stage that day as well, that’s kind of makes it worth being at the event. So we used to hire a lot of this kind of professional speakers, best selling authors, TV personalities, sports, sporting legends, or ex sporting legends, all of those kinds of people would take the stage, our events, and I got a great opportunity to spend a lot of time with these people and to see the way their lives run and see the way they work and see what kind of profits they’re making behind the scenes. And, you know, you get a real sense, you know, of what they’re like, for example, if you’re paying 10 grand for someone to speak, and they’re booked out three months in advance, you realise that you know, they’re, they’re doing pretty well. So I was behind the scenes seeing a lot of this. And all through the 2000s, right up to 2010. I spent a lot of time around what I would describe as kind of key people of influence these, these people that go and get up on stage. Or I saw them mostly getting up on stage, but they’re also in the media and writing books, and all that sort of stuff. So the thing that I kept seeing over and over and over again, was people thrusting business plans at them. And you have a percentage of my company, will you, you know, would you be a figurehead for my business? And I’ll give you 10% of the company, you know, can you speak at my conference, you know, I’ll happily pay the 10 grand, the 20 grand. And then I also saw that they were quite good friends with all the so-called competitors, like they weren’t, you know, what the marketplace might have viewed as competition. They’re all having dinner with each other every month and talking and discussing how they might, you know, work together and all those kind of things. So they’re all actually frenemies. No kind of joint venture partners. And I just, I just got this amazing experience seeing behind the scenes. And one thing that I remember thinking in the late 2000s was, how on earth would you compete with someone who has this kind of a brand. So if someone has that personal brand, if someone is that key person of influence, if they can pick up the phone and get through to anyone pretty much if they want to, or if they’ve constantly got inbound opportunities like they’re moving at such a different speed to the rest of us, that, that I just thought to myself, this, this is just a, you know, you interior a key person of influence until you move on the inner circle of your industry, your full-time job should be to become one because there’s not a lot comparatively, there’s not a lot of action happening outside of that top 5% of the industry. So I started writing blogs about it, I wrote a blog on a website called Academy, I ended up being the owner and the managing director Academy, I ended up buying the business. Yeah, I bought the business at one point. So I ended up at that point, I was a blogger on Academy, I later became the managing director of the academy and the owner. But I wrote a blog on Academy and basically said, said that you know, until your key person of influence, your full-time job is to become one. And it kind of blew up a bit and got thousands of hits and people commenting and kind of got good traction and people wanting to know more and what was my opinion on this. And essentially, I said that you’ve got to write a book, you’ve got to have a very clear pitch, you’ve got to have a product ecosystem behind you. So I started just unpacking that in the blog. Yeah. And because I’ve got such traction, I ended up writing the book and the book thing got traction, and actually quite hilarious. My strategy for becoming a key person of influence was to write a book called key person of influence. a very literal approach to moving to the inner circle.
John Ball But one of those four people want to know about but what point for you then did you actually feel like you had become a key person of influence?
Daniel Priestley Probably when I started getting paid to speak. I think the kind of Some of the breakthrough moments for me, I mean, I was, I was speaking my own events, obviously. But then there were times where people would start emailing and saying, hey, we’ve got a conference, and we’ll pay you, you know, silly money to come and speak at the conference. And it was like, wow, okay, and getting paid to speak around the world, and, you know, those kind of things. And also people coming up and asking for a signed copy of the book is pretty special. I can tell you, you know, that if you’ve got even, you know, anything less than being a Zen monk, and, and, you know, having your ego completely in check. But there’s something very nice when someone comes up and says, Hey, I love your book, could I get, could I get a signed copy, and it’s like, four, yes, that’s, you know, I always act cool. But on the inside, I’m like, really kind of glowing,
John Ball I can well imagine I can put myself in that position. And I would be pretty thrilled myself. And so that’s a great place to get to, but you kind of followed your own process and, and wrote about it and kind of became a key person of influence from doing that process. One of the things that you talk about in there that I think did actually really hit with me was about writing, writing a book. And I’ve had some professional speakers talk about this, as well as saying similar kind of philosophy, I think of that having a book is the best business card you could ever have. And you say something very much the same effect in your book.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, it’s the best business card. But one of the sayings that has kind of like a lot of people, like I say that the book that changes your life the most is not one you read, it’s one that you write. And there’s a lot of reasons for that. So one reason is that a book is amazing, I’d say it’s beyond a business card, actually, it’s far more than a business card. It’s almost like a salesperson, or a business development manager who’s out there meeting people, you know, whereas a business card might have your contact details, your book has your whole story, and it has your whole value proposition and has your whole, you know, typically will have case studies and stories and insights and data and research. And if people read the book, typically a good a well-written book, people put down the book, and they think gee, I’d love to do something with this person, you know, I recently actually read a book that I immediately got in touch with the author and books, five coaching sessions with them, and said, you know, I’d love to, I’d love to, I looked on the website, notice that they do coaching sessions and said, Yeah, great, I’d love to have to do some coaching sessions with you. So, you know, I just, I just thought, great, you know, this is, this is great, now this person is on the other side of the world, and they’re going to be doing some coaching with me around fitness, and, you know, sort of health and wellness and fitness and stuff. And it’s like, you know, that’s the power of a book, how would that, you know, prior to having a book, how would that person in Texas pick up a client in London, you know, who’s super pumped to talk. So, you know, I have a client call tonight, where someone’s booked metres to do a call with them a business chain of clinics in California. And I do that call at 8 pm to 10 pm tonight so that we’re on the right time zone for California. And we’re doing some work with their leadership team. You know, and how did that happen? Because of the book.
John Ball So it can’t just be any old book, right? You mean, there has to be something that’s giving value and that people are going to read it, they definitely want to work with that person. They know what they’re talking about.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, there’s, there’s a certain formula to writing a book you want to really convey, you know, you’ve got to be able to put your best foot forward, you’ve got to, I think text, the textbook style book doesn’t really have that wow factor, if it kind of looks like just a book that, you know, anyone could have compiled the research. And, you know, here’s the, here’s the stock standard answers, it’s got to have a little bit of a spin to things, it’s got to be your take on things your unique perspective, it needs to tell your story and share a little bit about you and what you’ve been through. And, you know, it has to have that little bit of spice in the book where it tells the reader who you are, and what you’ve achieved a lot of. Now, this brings up another issue. A lot of people say well, that’s all well and good if you’ve kept in a rugby team, or if you’ve, you know, floated your company for a billion dollars. But you know, what about for ordinary people. Now, I’ve been working with thousands of people over the last 10 years, many of whom have written books. And one thing that we’ve discovered is this concept called the mountain of value. And the mountain of value is if you imagine that you climb up to the top of a mountain and you’re standing on top of this huge mountain, you can actually see the entire horizon everything around you, but the one thing you can’t see is the mountain. And what I used to describe what I’m using, what I’m saying here is that when you’re standing on a mountain of value, which many of our listeners will be? To you, it seems pretty mundane. It seems pretty Boring. You know, it’s like, oh, you know, of course, I’ve done some award-winning projects, or I’ve done that interesting little thing or, or even I’ve had a failure, I’ve been punched in the face. And I had that real setback. And I had to recover from that. And actually, that could be incredibly valuable to a reader. It’s, you know, people don’t only want to read books by billionaires and sports stars, they want to actually read books by people who they can relate to. And, yeah, the, you know, the whole idea. The whole idea is that, you know, maybe I don’t want to read a book by an athlete, maybe I want to read a book by a father of four Who, who, who has to fit fitness in around having kids. And, you know, type thing.
John Ball It’s interesting because it’s reminded me of a conversation I had with a guy called Matthew Dicks, who is an award-winning storyteller and writes about storytelling, as well as being a successful non-successful fiction author as well. And he was saying similar kinds of things about telling stories, and that people, some people think they don’t have a story to tell. And it’s that sort of blind spot of our own lives as thinking that our experience is mundane and not going to be that interesting to anyone. But when you actually start to unpack it, yeah, there’s nearly always something there. But also that the most powerful stories aren’t always the most Wild Wild is things that have ever happened. And like there’s a guy I think, had a two sort of close, close to death experiences and survived them that aren’t necessarily the most interesting things that the most powerful stories are often the most just sat around the dinner table at home with the family and having a moment of realisation. And that makes it much more relatable to a wider audience who’s learning him. I can’t even relate, having been had been in a car crash and thrown through the window. But I can relate to sitting around the table with my family and having those kinds of conversations. Oh, yeah, so sorry, I think that’s a different context. But very similar,
Daniel Priestley very similar this year. Earlier this year, I read a brilliant book called The Surrender Experiment. And the book opens up with this guy saying, when I was 23 years old, the most incredible thing happened to me, which I was sitting there in the living room, having a conversation with a friend. And I noticed that I had an inner monologue, I noticed that I had a voice inside my head, commenting on everything that was being said. And once I noticed that I couldn’t stand it, I couldn’t stand this voice that just wouldn’t shut up about everything. And it’s, it’s funny, because the book then goes and talks about meditation practice, and it talks about, you know, being able to quieten the mind and all this sort of stuff. But it was hilarious because his big breakthrough moment, the moment, the big bang moment of the book is sitting in our living room having a conversation and noticing his inner monologue. It was not being thrown through the screen or anything. But it’s interesting, because it’s an incredibly captivating book, his particular book, and, and it’s a lot of ordinary experiences, but he unpacks them really well. I want to flip side on that. And the flip side is, I work with a client who is a Paralympic multi-world record holder gold medal, Paralympic athlete, phenomenal guy has a kind of blindness, and he’s also a cycling champion. So he does these tandem bikes bike riding. And when I talk to him about, you know, being at the Olympics, and you know, team, Team GB and being in Brazil, and being in China, and representing the country and all that sort of stuff, you know, he sort of says, Well, you know, it is just a bike race, and you know, what you do Daniel’s really interesting, but you know, what I do kind of, you know, it’s interesting for a few days, once every four years, but it’s really quite mundane, for most of that time. And it’s kind of hilarious in his mind, what he does is really kind of dull and tedious. With a few high points, and that I’m doing really interesting stuff. And I’m sitting there looking at him going, you know, it’s incredible what you do. And, you know, we kind of bring out the best in each other by kind of reflecting back and saying, Don’t devalue your story, you know, it’s, it’s amazing stuff.
John Ball Yeah. And it’s often what makes you more accessible to other people as well as what people want to get. But yeah, we’d have that tendency, like we tend to see things just from our perspective and think that other people know what we know or have more interesting lives than we do is. It’s very hard to see what’s not inside your head sometimes.
Daniel Priestley Oh, yeah, completely.
John Ball Yeah. Coming back then to the key person of influence. One of the things that I focus on a lot in my podcast is about public speaking skills. In fact, my work is teaching and training public speaking skills as well. Everyone has their own journey to becoming a speaker. You started getting on the stage, when were you doing your events was that the first time you ever did any kind of public speaking and just like a bit bit more about your development because you’re someone who regularly does speaking events.
Daniel Priestley So at first, I was doing roadshow marketing and my business travel and events really focused on this roadshow concept. But it was all behind the scenes, it was all it was actually my job was filling rooms and filling rooms and coordinating the roadshow almost never. Well, I actually, that’s not true, what I did do is I would often introduce the first speaker, so I would, you know, Hi, I’m Daniel, I’m the founder of triumphant events. And, you know, we’ve, we’ve brought you here, and we’ve organised this event, you know, and our team is here, and our fire exits are here, and our lunch breaks will be at this time, and, and all of that now to our speaker. So I would often do that kind of just the basic MC kind of role. So I wasn’t unfamiliar of what it’s like to walk up on stage and see, you know, 200 faces looking up at you that, you know, I kind of got dipped in for five minutes at a time when we were doing that. So I kind of did slightly lose my fear of public speaking just by doing that, you know, on a semi-regular basis. But we were doing a roadshow in 2004 with the CEO of a franchise, and we booked Well, we ended up doing 174 events that year, 2000 14,005, it was like three a week, and for the year, it was in incredible, insane, nonstop roadshow that never ended for a year. And we got about three or four weeks in, and one of the downsides of what I was doing was I would hear the same presentation over and over and over and over. And it was just like, what, you know, I could do the damn thing in my sleep. Anyway, three, four weeks in, and I’ve heard this presentation, you know, I’ve now heard it 15 times, and I’ve got it, you know, well and truly in my head, and it’s a great presentation and to our presentation. Anyway, we’re running this event on the Gold Coast, and we’ve got 70 or 80 people at the lunchtime event, we’ve got 200 of the afternoon-evening event. And then we’ve got another event the following day in Brisbane, and then another day, the following event in the Sunshine Coast. And the guy the speaker comes in, and he’s not dressed for going on stage. He says, Daniel, I’m so sorry. My father has been taken the hospital with a heart condition. And I need to go to the hospital. And he said, Look, you know that you know the presentation. You’ve heard it plenty of times, can you just do this lunchtime one, maybe the evening one, and just take people through the slide deck, while I go to the hospital? Okay, you have a two-hour presentation. Okay, let’s go with it. So, I jump up on stage and I deliver, I just, you know, let people know the CEO has been had to go to the hospital, but I’ll be taking you through the presentation. And lo and behold, we get the exact same result. So the exact same number of people fill in the expression of interest form. And, you know, we get the conversion. And then I did it again that night, and we get the conversion again. And the CEO tweaked with this immediately. And he says, oh, Daniel, you’ve got the exact same result, I guess I don’t have to do the presentation anymore. And I went well, if you want to pay me a speaking fee, because bear in mind, I’ve done a lot of speaking fees and negotiated a lot of speaking fees in the years. As well, if you want to, if you want me to do it, I can, I can free up your time. So you don’t have to do this anymore. But you know, you’ll just need to add a speaking fee to the, to the mix. So he said well, it’s worth it. You know, if I don’t have to be there, I’ve got other things I can do. So happy to pay, you know, a speaking fee. So I negotiated myself a speaking fee, which I’d never kind of done before. And next thing you know, I’m delivering three or four presentations a week as a paid speaker, paid presenter. And, and that year I delivered 174. So it was 2000. And this happened in 2004. And then in 2005. We did 174 events, which I was the paid, which I was the speaker for. So it was a baptism of fire. And, and immediately I was thrust into speaking in front of audiences of regularly in front of audiences of 100 to 500 people.
John Ball Yeah, there’s nothing quite like being sort of pushed into a position where you really don’t have a lot of oxygen to sort of push yourself to actually go and go do and go for it and make it happen and think that that really worked out incredibly well.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, it was phenomenal. And it meant that we really controlled from my point of view, we control the whole process end to end and we can charge an enormous amount of money for what we did with clients. It gave me a view of how the whole business ran and meant we could control the whole business. And that was essentially the key from getting from going from a million a year to a million a month.
John Ball So, yeah, so in your speaking at some point, you made the transition then from someone else’s presentation to presenting your own materials when?
Daniel Priestley Yeah, well, kind of when I first came to London, I was presenting Roger Hamilton’s materials, wealth dynamics, and I actually ended up touring the world, speaking in dozens of countries about wealth dynamics, so I gave Roger’s presentation. So right up until that point, I just didn’t have the confidence that I had anything presentation worthy myself, I would learn someone else’s presentation and deliver, delivered on stage. And part of the value that we could offer to a, you know, the client was that we could literally free them up completely from a whole bunch of the work a whole bunch of what they wanted, what they were doing. And you know, so Roger had created wealth dynamics. And I literally flew around the world, presenting wealth dynamics all over the world, and also in the UK. So it was this kind of, you know, that was my next major speaking experience, being a global speaker presenting someone else’s work.
John Ball And that was where I first encountered you at an event, I think was Earls Court Exhibition Centre or something like that.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, yeah. It could have been that. Yeah, it was. Was that I think, was it myself? Or was it Roger?
John Ball Well, both. I already had met Roger. Before that. So I think maybe I’d been to another event before that. But that was the event where I first actually first remember meeting you. So? Yeah, so.
Daniel Priestley So that was at that particular time, I didn’t have any content myself just purely parroting someone else’s content. But, but building confidence as a speaker.
John Ball Yeah. Which is that which is super important, and a really good thing to have. And I got offered a training position with a company some years ago and had the choice of no it could have gone down that path didn’t look very steady at the time. But I wanted to do my own thing. I wanted to say what I wanted to say and ended up not going down the route where I could see the benefits of it from as you’re saying, like getting into that habit and being conditioned to speak into a larger room and being like a tribute band. You know, gay, a gigging, a gigging musician who’s is doing backup. Backup musician, versus someone who’s writing the songs and performing their own songs. Yeah, yeah. What for that in terms of whether it’s as a speaker or anyone in public, like what makes somebody a key person or influence over them having their own book.
Daniel Priestley So in the book, I talk about five things. The first one is a pitch. So it’s one thing to give a great inspiring talk. But the world of that has kind of moved on, there was the zig Ziegler’s of the world and Bob prompters of the world who literally just turned up, their product was just talking and giving a canned talk. And they would have their, they’d have their canned 2-hour keynote. And they turned up and they gave this motivational talk. And you know that very much kind of they got to the height of that model. Most key people of influence have a very clear idea as to what they’re pitching. So they’re actually they’re using the stage as a way of leveraging and pitching some sort of big idea. So think Elon Musk launching the cybertruck. You know, think Steve Jobs or Tim Cook, launching a piece of technology from stage. So it’s like this, the first question is, what are you kind of going to what are you going to be up on stage pitching? What idea? Are you pitching? What is it you want people to go and do? What movement Do you want to create as a result of you being on stage? Because it, I mean, even if you are a motivational speaker, let’s say the best of the best are the ones who can pitch people to do something that they weren’t going to do. Prior to hearing you speak, you know, that the true measure of a great speaker is they move you to some sort of action that you weren’t going to take an hour earlier. So perhaps they inspire your own health and fitness, maybe they spot inspire you to take your relationship to a different level. You know, whatever it is, but they’re there. You know, a brilliant speaker pitches you an idea that makes you do something different than you weren’t gonna do an hour ago. That’s, that’s great that essentially is the greatest speaking. You know, if people sort of go Oh, that was entertaining, that was nice. It’s great, good showmanship, but it’s, it’s not that kind of influencer. So the first One is pitching. The next one is publishing. So we already talked about the book. The book is also a bit of I will say this, it’s a bit of a filter as an event. Booker, as an event organiser, someone who’s a conference organiser, I don’t know why, but there’s just this ingrained thing about booking speakers who have a book. And I don’t know why that is, like this common filter, but try and think of any of the major speakers who don’t have a book. Like, it’s, it’s really rare.
John Ball They haven’t written it themselves.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, like, it’s, it’s quite rare that the super professional speakers that are right, you know, all the time up on the stage, even the TED talk, you know, Ted talkers, and all that sort of stuff. They’re published, in some ways in if they’re academics, they’ve written a thesis or a dissertation. Sometimes they’re New York Times columnist, but more often than not, they’ve got a book, like, I’d say something like 90% of the TED talkers have got books written
John Ball If not then, definitely afterwards.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, exactly. After the million views a month is, yeah. So it’s a bit of a filter. The third one is a product ecosystem. So one of the things that keep people in influence have is a way of making money that is not leveraging their time, so that they can set foot on stage, they can give a great presentation. And then something if people want to buy something, it’s, it’s anything but their time. Because as soon as you’re into the job of selling purely and simply your time for money, and especially in a linear way, where one client is one unit of additional work, you know, and that 10 clients is 10 units of work and 100 clients is 100 units of work, you know, sometimes you might be selling your time, but it’s leveraged. So 100 clients is no different to working with 10 clients. So, so they typically they have product, so that they can make money through other ways other than just speaking fees. I will say that the age of speaking fees is a little bit complex now, but…
John Ball It is, yes.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, there’s very few speakers who can genuinely just say, I’m five grand to give a talk. Like that’s, that’s it, and my full value is you pay me for a keynote and, and then I give a keynote, and then that’s it. Like, there’s very few people, you know, normally it’s exporting legends or, you know, actor, you know, like, some top academic or something like that. There’s very, very few of them. But the ones who make the most money are the ones who actually can afford to speak for free, if they want to, because they know that the wheels will go spinning in the background. You know, so Elon Musk doesn’t charge a speaking fee, he turns up, and he’s he sells $10 billion worth of cyber trucks. Yeah. So product profile, I define profile very simply as you are who Google says you are. So if I google you, and a bunch of really good stuff comes up, and I can see you’ve got a tribe and a following. And you’ve got good things on page one, two and three of Google. That tends to be Yeah, okay, this is a good person I want on stage, what you do not want, if you’re an event organiser, you don’t want anyone who’s got any controversy around them. You don’t want to you don’t want a speaker who you Google them. And you know, there is some sort of fight raging around them. There’s haters, and there’s people who are polarised around them. You want a nice, smooth event. And you just want a good, clean, good quality profile. So that when your people are thinking about buying a ticket to the event, they Google the speakers, it’s like, oh, yeah, these look, these look like great speakers, I’m looking forward to the event. So profile is about having a nice, it doesn’t mean you’ve got a million followers on Instagram or let your New York Times, you know columnist or something like that. It’s just that if I google you, it’s full of really good stuff. reaffirming who you are. And then partnership is the ability to bring more to the table, not just yourself, the ability to bring in partners, the ability to have relationships that form strategic joint ventures, product partnerships, brand partnerships, all of that sort of stuff really makes you a key person of influence. So those are the five P’s pitch published product profile partnership. And when you have those five P’s in place, you very rapidly kind of moved to that inner circle of the industry.
John Ball Yeah, and do all of the five pieces need to be there.
Daniel Priestley They tend to multiply against each other. So as with any multiplication, if any of if any multiplication series is zero, it kind of zeros off everything else. So you might have some that are stronger and weaker than others, but it tends to be that, you know, if you’ve got a weakness and you bring it up, it multiplies against the whole rest of you know the weakness. So for example, there’s this guy called Jay Shetty, who has 50 million followers on you know, he’s a friend of mine. I actually knew him when he was just starting out, which was kind of cool. I used to meet him in Euston station, like back before he was famous. And but he today he’s got like 50 million followers on social media is got 7 million Instagram followers, he’s, he’s got all that. But he’s only just putting his book out at the moment. So his book goes live this week. And you know, he hadn’t published that book. But watch what will happen, what will happen is that hundreds of thousands of people are going to buy that book. They’re going to read that book, and it’s going to galvanise who he is to them. So they have a superficial relationship with Him currently looking at his Instagram feed. But as soon as they read that book, suddenly they go, Oh, wow, I’m loyal to this guy, I want to know more about him, I’ll, I won’t just turn up if he’s in town, or pay to turn up if he’s in town. Because I’ve read the book. So what I’m expecting to see is in the year ahead, he will actually go write up a whole other level as he gets 100,000 true fans.
John Ball What was the hardest part about writing your first book for you?
Daniel Priestley The writing is just hard. Writing is, writing’s hard. It’s terrible. It’s just, it’s, it’s hours and hours and hours and hours of work. That punches you in the face of like, oh, that doesn’t look very good. And that’s pretty shit. And you haven’t really thought you thought you knew a thing or two about that. Now we’re 500 words in and you’ve said everything that you think you know about that, you know, in that particular chapter. So it’s, it’s hard, and it’s, um, it’s hard, and it’s challenging, and you get no rewards. 99% done pays no dividends, you know, you get no points for effort in the writing. So you might spend a year writing something, and then you publish it. And actually, the rewards typically come six to 12 months after you publish. So the hardest point is, is that it is a project of delayed gratification, really, really delayed gratification. And you get no points right up until the end.
John Ball publishes. Even writers are often saying writing a book isn’t generally going to make you rich.
Daniel Priestley From Yeah, yeah. So yeah, exactly. So it’s you, you really have to understand where it fits in your business. So for example, I believe that the older model was authors trying to sell books, and the new model books trying to sell authors. So do you know the reason so the top-secret behind the scenes? expos a secret of me is that I actually gave away thousands of books. So when I had even when I first had a book out, I didn’t even try and sell the damn thing. I printed thousands of them. And I just gave thousands of them away. Because in my mind, if you know how I actually thought about it. I thought about it, that each book is a cup of coffee. So I would think to myself, and this happened to me, because one of my speakers who I ended up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars with, I had bumped into him at a conference, he knew I was the conference organiser. And he said, Daniel, I would love for you to consider me as a speaker at your events. Can I send you some books? And I said, Yeah, sure. And he sent me this beautiful package with all these books that he had written. He had written 10 books, and he sent me the whole, the whole bundle wrapped up, and handwritten card and everything. And I actually skimmed through his books. And I ended up booking him for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work over the coming years. And I remember he just kicked the relationship off with a free book. He sent me through the book. And I remember thinking to myself, if I was like, john, if I met you at Homehouse, right, a member’s club in London, and I said, Oh, John, I’d love to buy you a coffee. Of course, I would. And of course, I would happily buy a coffee and it would be £3.50 plus my time and all that sort of stuff. There’s not even a question that I would happily sit down by your coffee and talk through what I’m up to. But how do you leverage that right? If you meet four people a day, that’s only 1000 people a year. So then I thought to myself, well, actually a book is like a cup of coffee. Anyone that I if there’s anyone in the world that I would happily sit down and have a cup of coffee with and buy them a cup of coffee and chat. I’m gonna send them a book. So So in the first year, I think I sent out maybe two or 3000 books. And, and it was like, it’s like for me it was this opportunity to have two or 3000 cups of coffee without taking any of my time.
John Ball You got you’ve got to be impressed. I think anyone who says that right. And even the most times I hate you But when you have a copy of my book, and I think that’s always impressive even if you only had a part in my team, the book, it’s, it’s still impressive because most of us aren’t published and most people don’t have their, their own books out there or the names that were known. So it’s really important. Yeah. Is there anyone you think that the key person of influence strategy wouldn’t work for?
Daniel Priestley Umm… I mean, we have worked with 50 different industries, plus, we’ve worked with 3000 clients. We’ve worked with vets, academics, sporting stars, we’ve worked with celebrities we’ve worked with who already had a following. We’ve worked with IT computer people, AI, you know, AI people, we’ve worked with leading doctors and dentists. So you know, you, I’m kind of at the point now, where, you know, it’s just, it’s just a good best practice across the industry, to position yourself as a key person of influence. Can you think of anyone?
John Ball No, not really, I think it could work with pretty much anyone in any industry, apart from anyone who doesn’t really want to be known.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, look, if Yeah, look, the only one is if there was some, if there were serious skeletons in your closet, and you, you absolutely know that you’re going to get exposed for that fraud that you ran, you know that that pyramid scheme, that Ponzi scheme that you… kind of, you know, and maybe if you’re making money, if you’re making money, hand over fist, with some extreme niche, actually, here’s a good answer. Other than the Ponzi scheme, a person who’s got big skeletons in their closet, if you were genuinely making money, hand over fist with a particular niche that you do not want people to know about. And you want to stay extremely quiet and not attract any competition, occasionally that happens. And of course, if that’s the situation, you just want to shut up and be very quiet and, and have a Honda that you drive to work and a Porsche for the weekend. But yeah, so I have come across a few people who have actually said to me, Daniel, I want to be anything but a key person of influence, I want to keep quiet because what I’m doing is working extremely well. And I don’t really want to signal to the market, that they should come and compete.
John Ball One of the things, that’s a great answer, and I can say that works as well. But one of the things that I often say to people, because I’ve worked in the world of presentation skills, and public speaking, is that we are now in an age where we are in the AI revolution. And it’s already happening, it’s already going on. So many of the roles and jobs that exist today will, over time, as is already happening, be replaced by algorithms or by robots. And so you know, I mean, Andrés Oppenheimer in his book, The robots are coming, he says that the two areas that are definitely protected and still growing at the moment, are education, and entertainment. And, you know, if you’ve got something that kind of crosses those two as well, and then you’re in a winner, and I think that’s why that’s one of the things that makes public speaking or even being an author, very relevant right now, as I if you want to stay relevant in the business world, you have to become more well known, you have to be informing, and to some degree, entertaining people not making them laugh, but, you know, educating in some way to really stay relevant and still have something that’s worth knowing about. Because over time, who knows what’s gonna come in terms of new businesses and new jobs? And for at least for now, we know that education and entertainment are still growth industries.
Daniel Priestley Yes, yes. And no. Look, behind me is a painting that was created by a robot. And it’s a humanoid robot that is programmed with an algorithm from Oxford University to emulate creativity and to come up with new things on its own. And it’s called ADA. Ada the robot and basically so anyone listening, if they want to Google and see what’s behind me then, you know, it’s a robot is the artist. Um, here’s the issue with education and entertainment. One great educator and one great entertainer can now look after a billion people pretty easily. You know this is a problem that we’re moving into if you think about 100 years ago, had Alicia Keys been a singer 100 years ago, she would have been in a piano bar in New York, playing to audiences of 50 people at a time. And there’s absolutely no possible way in hell, that she could have been simultaneously playing to an audience in London and an audience in Sydney and an audience in Singapore. Even though she’s got a cracking good voice, she could only play to 50 people at a time. Today, if you’ve got a voice, like Alicia Keys, you can play to a billion people a day, you know, millions of people a day, all over the world, on their timescale whenever they want, wherever they want. So you actually don’t need all that many amazing, talented musicians. A few hundred musicians can keep the whole world entertained. problem is that what we’re seeing is, is a phenomenal science teacher will actually be creating lessons on YouTube, that hundreds of thousands of students will be loving their take on how to do it and all that sort of stuff. You’ve got to be surfing this wave, you’ve got to be ahead of the curve, there’s we’re going to see a polarised society going forward, where essentially, there’s going to be more haves and have nots, like less of a blend of that middle class doing well, despite not being terribly special. You’re actually going to see the middle class in the Western world competing with people in Turkey and the Philippines and Indonesia. And you know, Pakistan, and India, all of those kinds of places that have lots of young, talented, educated people who are quite happy for 75 US dollars a day to be doing a professional, white-collar kind of job. So you’re gonna have a lot of people competing for that. You know, more than ever,
John Ball For some reason, you make me think of The Incredibles, like if everyone has superpowers then no one’s special.
Daniel Priestley Totally! Yeah, yeah, this is the thing. I mean, I personally think that the kind of lost industries is going to be hairdressing. You know, at what point will we let a robot cut our hair?
John Ball But I’ve seen these machines in Singapore, I think was the last place I saw them these robot hairdressers.
Daniel Priestley Yeah, yeah, I’m sure that they’ll create it. I’m not sure I’d let a humanoid robot near me with some scissors.
John Ball I’ve watched Space Odyssey too many times, I don’t trust them.
Daniel Priestley Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But the real trick at the moment is, imagine it like this. Imagine in the 2010s. Here’s a visual, imagine that there are these railway tracks that have been put down. And there are these incredible railway tracks going out to the world. But if you want to, you can stick something on those railway tracks, and they’ll just go straight down to Africa, straight down to Australia, off to New Zealand. And someone’s gone and spent the money and the time to lay down those tracks, where whatever you want to get out to the world, there is now this base infrastructure to do it. And you’re either going to leverage that or you’re not going to leverage that. And essentially, when you’re doing something that’s small and localised and non-digital, and, you know, realistically, your business model can serve a limited number of people in a limited number of locations, you’re essentially not leveraging those railway tracks. But as soon as you say, Okay, I’m gonna have a product that can go anywhere in the world, I’m gonna have a book that can go anywhere in the world, I’m going to create content that can go anywhere in the world, I’m gonna release videos and podcasts and all that sort of stuff, you might not be the most famous person in the world, right? You might not be Justin Bieber or something like that. But even if you end up with 3000, people who absolutely adore what you do, and happy to subscribe to something, you’re actually going to be pretty bulletproof. You know, with it with a global following of people who quite like you, and quite like what you’re doing, provided you’re leveraging those railway tracks. But as soon as you say, Look, I’m stuck, you know, I only do it in Manchester. And I only, you know, I’m a local model, I only do it in person. I don’t release any of my stuff online. Or, you know, are productive I produce a product or service and I build websites for people. That’s it. It’s like, okay, unfortunately, those railway tracks go both ways. And that person who’s in Turkey, a person who’s in the Philippines, they’re going to be happily shipping work from there to here at a fraction of the price.
John Ball So the best time to think about becoming a key person of influence would be right now.
Daniel Priestley Well, the best time was in 2009. The second best time is right now.
John Ball Yeah, that that makes a lot of sense. As always, the sooner the better. But yeah, I appreciate what you’re saying that that market conditions are going to change and a lot of people are going to be moving in the same sort of direction. I mean, Similar thing happened to me when I started in coaching, I got to a point where the recession was hitting and suddenly all sorts of people were calling themselves coaches, he had no right. No right to be calling themselves coaches. And this is like the market got swamped and took a while for all that chocolate to come out. For all too clear. And not everyone survived the purge if you like, but…
Daniel Priestley yeah, then the industry kind of come down again, when people realise actually not anyone can be okay, not everyone can be successful. It’s not such a commoditized thing that there’s a vast difference in, in quality. Yeah.
John Ball Other than unethical practices that you mentioned before. What are the things that people are perhaps getting wrong sometimes in, in creating or becoming key people of influence that you may see?
Daniel Priestley So there’s, there’s what are called functional behaviour or functional tasks, and there are vital tasks. So the definition of the word functionality is along the lines of performing a task, being able to repeat the task, you know, having a functional working knowledge of what you do, if you’re a photographer, you know, it’s functionally knowing what f stops are and apertures and shutter speeds and you know, how to light a room and the rule of thirds, and all that sort of stuff. So that’s the functional skill set of being a photographer. The word vital has two meanings, which is lifeforce. So if something’s full of vitality, it’s got lifeforce, and also, you’re replaceable. If something’s vital, you can’t really replace it, it’s, you can’t do without it, that vital organ. So, so there’s this set of skills, which is the irreplaceable life force skills, and all of school, your entire life has been about accumulating functional skills. And what actually pays the bills at a certain point is not more functionality. It’s more vitality. So the people who have the ability to become the irreplaceable lifeforce of something. Those are the ones who actually make a tonne of money, and the functional people organise themselves around those people. So what people do wrong is they focus on more functionality. And then it’s kind of like, Oh, well, I’ll get a master’s in finance, and I’ll get an MBA, and I’ll, I’ll do that work myself. And I’ll, you know, I’m a really great dentist. So well, I’ll do the dentistry myself. And I’m really great web developer. So I’ll do the web developing myself. And like, I’ll just do all the things. I mean, even if you run it to the full extent, you know, there are people like there are people who do jobs that you could outsource for 10 pounds an hour, 15 pounds now. So, you know, I’ve seen, I’ve actually seen entrepreneurs who build themselves out at 800 pounds a day, spending a day doing their own accounting and bookkeeping. And they spend time, you know, responding to endless emails, and they spend time doing their own social media. And I sit there and I go, you know, you could have a Social Media Manager on hundred pounds a week, you could have a bookkeeper on hundred pounds a week, you could have, you know, you could literally have three or four people on 100 pounds a week, and free yourself up completely of all that stuff. And you probably actually have the net effect, not just of having more days to sell, but you probably end up increasing your day rate from 800 to 1200. Because you’re now just that little bit more energised than everyone else. You know, and sometimes you look at these people who, who make a lot of money and you think what is it that they do? Like? Well, you know, what, why are they so getting so much paid so much different? What they do is they bring people together, they the thing doesn’t happen without them, you know, you might sit there and say, you know, is, you know, is this particular DJ, let’s say fat boy, slim is fat boy slim, so much better than every other DJ, you know, is that he is he has functional skills that other DJs don’t have. It’s like no, but he’s fat boy, slim, he if he’s there, 10,000 people are gonna show up. He’s got the name, he’s got the brand. He’s got the reputation. He’s got the connections there. He’s got the partnerships he can pull together, if you book him behind the scenes, he can pull together a whole bunch of people, he can have a lot of people who promote the event because he’s gonna be there. So it’s the actual non-functional stuff that really makes the money, not the functional DJing skills. It’s the intangible stuff that we’ve never been trained to, at school about. So the concept of vitality is so foreign to us. If you’ve come through school and university, this idea that there’s this entire different set of school skills that have nothing to do with functionality is like a weird concept.
That’s what people do wrong. The number one thing they do wrong, and here’s some practical stuff. Stop cleaning your damn house and get a cleaner. Like, you know, get a cleaner, and but pay the cleaner for four or five hours a week to come in and do the cleaning. And while they’re there, while they’re in your house, use that as a trigger to sit down and write up your case studies, write an amazing blog that you’re going to share on LinkedIn. Figure out what your method is, in your model is take that amazing piece of work that you didn’t interrupt for an award. And you know, while the cleaner is cleaning your house, you are going to use that time to do something of high value that will set you up in the future. And that simple concept of outsourcing something functional, while you focus on something vital that bring some life force into the business. That is that concept, you can blow that right up to the size of Microsoft. And you get the same sort of idea. But the kernel of the idea is hard CCleaner and do and write a blog while they’re there. That idea is what most people should be doing if you and here’s the thing if you think you know it, but you don’t have a cleaner. And if you think you know it, and you still respond to your own emails. And if you think you know it, and you still do your own bookkeeping, you don’t get no
John Ball Good advice. Good advice indeed. I have one question more about but I have to ask about the key person of influence, about your book, that about the underlying theme. And maybe you get asked this quite often?
Daniel Priestley But it did tells me that people have actually read the book.
John Ball Okay. Well, I’m still a little uncertain whether it’s just a very clever device to get people to reread the book, or whether there is actually an underlying theme in the book.
Daniel Priestley So, there’s no underlying theme in the book, what I’m referring to when I talked about the underlying thing. And for anyone who’s not read the book, I opened the book with the introduction. And I finished the introduction by saying, by the way, there’s an underlying theme that you should pay attention to. And if you figure out this underlying theme, you’re going to get a burst of energy, you’re going to get super creative, and you sit up all night won’t feel tired. And you’ll just flow with ideas and information and inspiration. If you notice the underlying theme, if you don’t notice the underlying theme, a lot of what will be in this book will be fairly pedestrian. And it kind of makes people go what like what, what kind of weird wizardry Are you hinting at here, Daniel. So here’s the thing, there’s no underlying theme in the book. The idea behind the underlying theme is that it’s in your life. So there’s a theme of there’s something there’s a kernel of something that happened in your origin story, pre age 10, or pre age 15 is something else, that there’s a, there’s a moment of empowerment that happened under before 20. There’s a moment of empowerment that happened between 20 and 25. And all of it clusters around a similar idea. For me, having a garage sale, when I was 10 years old, that first spark of entrepreneurial, something entrepreneurial, it was, it was actually sparked by a house fire, where everything was water damaged, or smoke damaged. And then I turned something negative into a positive through entrepreneurship. And there was something in that. And then there was another similar experience that was about the boy scout group that I was part of when we had to raise money to fix a problem with the scout Hall. And then it kind of there was this theme of problems happening, like problems that were negative, and everyone was upset about. And then an entrepreneurial solution came in to solve the problem. And for me, personally, when I discovered that my thing is entrepreneurial solutions to big problems and that the world’s biggest problems could be solved with the entrepreneurial mindset and entrepreneurial solutions. And then I kind of put language around that, which is I develop entrepreneurs to stand out, scale-up and make a dent in the universe. And I created a company around this idea of entrepreneurs solving meaningful problems. And the whole like, vibe of why we called the company dent is Steve Jobs saying if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, why not try and make a dent in the universe, you know, do something meaningful. So for me, it was about discovering that this theme that goes right back to kind of age 10 at least, is running which is entrepreneurship, solving meaningful problems. And when I got that when I went, oh, wow, my origin storylines up with my mission lines up with my vision. Then it’s like this alignment, energetic alignment and, and from energetic alignment, you know when you’re energetically aligned because you have a burst of creativity. So you suddenly feel like the stars align, do you feel like your body’s aligned, you feel like your mind and your body has kind of like, tingle into the same space. And then you go Whoo, and suddenly 8000 words come out, and you go, wow, I’m just in the zone. So what I tried doing what I wanted to spark as an idea with that underlying theme is just purely and simply go looking in your own story, see if you can identify the theme because it’s that story that’s going to be the key to unlocking the real value you’ve got to offer.
John Ball It’s great to have an answer to that question. And one I can very much relate to as well. It’s been kicking around my head for a few years now.
Daniel Priestley Hopefully, it’s a satisfying answer.
John Ball Oh, yes. Oh, very much.
Daniel Priestley So as opposed to the underlying theme is 37. Number 37, appears 37 times.
John Ball Well, I would take it away and ruminate on it still, but other than your own books. Is there a book that you would always recommend people to read?
Daniel Priestley Well, getting back to what we were saying before, other than my books, the book that changes your life the most is is the book you write not the book you read. So I’m always, people say what other books would you recommend, and I keep saying, there comes a point where you’ve got to stop reading and start writing, you’ve got to stop consuming and start creating, you get paid for what you create, and you get nothing for he can see him, I met this amazing book reviewer. And she has a whole like, you know, she reads a book a week. And she’s like, super into like, you know, she’s got a whole method about how she reviews books, and how she, you know, kind of skims the book first. And then she delves deep. And then she writes a review, and then she reads reviews again. And it turns out, she’s read dozens, if not 100, plus business books, and hasn’t actually done anything with it. And I’m sitting there going if reading books changed your life, she would definitely be a candidate for being a billionaire. You know, because she’s really geeking out on reading books. But I know people who have written a book, it’s done really, really well. It’s changed the change their life, and they don’t read all that much. They’re just out there doing it. So you know, the big message are no… Look there. Of course, there are great books I could recommend. But I just want to slap people in the face and say, Enough reading time to write a book if you’ve not written a book. Or even if you’ve not written your second book, enough reading time to write the book that changes your life the most is not one you read, it’s going to be one that you write.
John Ball That’s probably a great place to wrap things up. And today when I do finish my first full book, I’ll be sending you a copy. I hope you might read it. So thank you so much for giving up your time today and coming and sharing so much great value and information. And it’s been a real pleasure and a privilege to chat with you. I really appreciate it.
Daniel Priestley My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me on the show.
John Ball Thanks for tuning in. I hope you’ve enjoyed the show. It really was good to get an answer to that question about the hidden meaning in the book Key Person of Influence that’s been bugging me for the longest time. I hope you enjoyed the show. Please make sure you subscribe and like and leave a comment as well. YouTube likes that kind of thing. It’s been really great having you come and listen if you think you’d make a great guest for the show or you know someone who would please get in touch email@example.com is my email address. You can also find me on matchmaker FM and on LinkedIn. So come and connect with me like we know who would be good to have on the show. If you’re enjoying the show. We can make any improvements back next week with more amazing guests continuing things like the series in humour in presentations, storytelling and much, much more. See you again for another speaking of influence very soon.
Continuing my ‘Dark side of influence and persuasion’ series, I was lucky enough to be introduced to an amazing lady whose family joined a personal development based cult in the ’80s and the effects this has had on her life since. That lady is the incredible Brooke Walker who has gone on to heal her life and help others to improve and heal their lives through meditation with her company 100 Years of Bliss.
Brooke talks about life inside the cult as a child, when she first realised she was in a cult, when she made the decision to leave and also how she ended up going back after she escaped. We also spent a good amount of time talking about ‘spirituality’ and what we would each define that as, and also the benefits and life healing Brooke has experienced since then.
Brooke has over 20 years’ experience as a business leader in the areas of management, law firms, health, and leadership. Her experience in psychology, finance and the healthcare industry has made her an asset to businesses and the holistic views she brings. Brooke has spent more than a decade teaching, speaking, achieving sales goals and leading in these fields.
She is the founder of 100 Years of Bliss, a wellness company focusing on the culture and health of other companies. Today her passion is to Empower, Educate and Advise companies on the benefits meditation and mindfulness has to increase health, productivity, sales and the bottom line.
Find out more about Brooke on her website 100YearsofBliss.com where she offers listeners to this show $50 off her meditation program.
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