In this Voice Studio episode Andrea shares the Teacher Ball high performance strategy.
Mentioned in this episode:
Episode 31: Find Your Why and Get Stuff Done
Download the Focus Your Brand DIY at www.voiceofinfluence.net/focus
In this Voice Studio episode Andrea shares the Teacher Ball high performance strategy.
Mentioned in this episode:
Episode 31: Find Your Why and Get Stuff Done
Download the Focus Your Brand DIY at www.voiceofinfluence.net/focus
Corey Poirier is a multiple-time TEDx Speaker and multiple-time best selling author. He is also the host of two top rated podcasts, founder of The Speaking Program, and he has been featured in multiple television specials. Interviewing 4,000 of the world’s top leaders, he has also appeared / or been featured in Global TV, CBS, CTV, NBC, ABC, CBC, Entrepreneur, and is one of a few featured twice on the popular Entrepreneur on Fire show.
Mentioned in this episode:
Hey, hey it’s Andrea! Welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Corey Poirier on the line. Corey is a speaker. He has spoken at multiple TEDx events. He is a podcaster with thousands of interviews already; the podcast is called the Conversations with PASSION. And he is an author.
Andrea: So Corey, it is so good to have you today on the Voice of Influence podcast
Corey Poirier: I am super excited to be here, Andrea, and super excited to hopefully make some magic happen today.
Andrea: Sounds good! OK, so we met each other at podcasting conference a couple of months ago, and here we are finally getting able to really chat a little bit together. I’m really curious, why don’t you tell us, first of all, how you see your business and your kind of calling right now in life. What are you doing?
Corey Poirier: I would say what I’m hoping to do is create what I call an invisible impact or a positive ripple or dent in universe for other people, some who I directly met and worked with and some who I may never even know or me. But the hope is that I possibly impact more than one person’s life. That’s really at the core of what I’m trying to do.
And because that’s sort of my goal every day to impact lives, the hope is that I’m impacting well more than one person. But even I’m only impacting one person’s life; I think that’s still worth the effort. So that’s on a grand scale. If I stay it on, let’s call it more direct way, I’m sharing my message with people through various platforms, probably the most notable is speaking.
So I spent a large part of my time speaking at conferences, whether that’s for corporate clients, for associations, for nonprofits, or schools. So speaking to audiences, writing for various publications and I would add in our show. So getting the message in our show while also sharing the insights we learned during interviews in our show. That’s the direct way of doing it and that would extend to social media, as well.
So on one end, I’m getting the messages there to various people, to various platforms, and overall what I’m hoping to happen as a result to that is I’m creating some sort of positive ripple in the world.
Andrea: So what kind of positive ripple are you wanting to create, is it specific or is it just general positivity?
Corey Poirier: I’ll say it this way, it’s not necessarily specific as in I want this specific thing to happen but it is specific in the sense that I don’t want to just, let’s say, share positivity or have somebody go “I’m glad you said that now, I feel happier.” I want to actually change lives. So the speaking, of course, allows me to do that to some degree, especially the show allows me to do that where I’m actually offering more than just positive energy or let’s say inspiration. I’m actually offering tangible, “Here’s how you do it as well. So here’s how you can improve your business. So there are the things that will actually improve or enhance your life.”
And to give you an example, Andrea, just one little random of example; one of the things I work with people on is how to figure out who they’re spending your time with. So whether that’s in a talk, whether they’re reading an article about that, whether I’m working with them one-on-one, I talk to them about putting together an exercise that will show them who they’re spending their time with. And are these people adding positivity or extra value to their life or they’re actually getting toxic energy.
Ideally, if you figure out you figure out, you’re sitting most of your time with eight people and seven of them are negative, well I can say “dot, dot, dot,” I mean, you know you have work to do. If you find you’re spending your time seven with positive and one is negative and the one who’s negative is a family member that you’re not willing reduce the time with, at least you know you’re still spending your time with most of the positive people.
So the odds are good that you’re going to have a lot more positive energy than if the numbers were flipped and again if it was seven negative and one positive. So first is helping people figure out who they’re spending their time with. And then the second part of that will be figuring out who do I reduce the time with. Who do I leave it altogether and how do I bring in people to my life that would add more the positivity I’m not getting. So that whole thing could be a whole talk but that’s one tiny example of the fact that I’m not just trying to say, “ra, ra, ra, you could do it.” I’m saying “Here’s how you do it as well.”
Andrea: Interesting. When you do that one-on-one with people, do you consider yourself to be like a coach, consultant, or strategist; what would you call yourself, or do you call yourself something?
Corey Poirier: That’s an interesting question. I always tell people, because people say, what do you for a living? I always say “If I’m filling out an application for anything and it says career, what I’d put in there is keynote speaker.” So there’s no question to identify myself as a speaker first; however, it’s interesting you asked, because I just joined Forbes Coaches Council, literally today, literally just now.
Corey Poirier: And so why bring that up is because in the coaching side, I certainly consider myself to be doing some coaching. So what really draws in for the coaching is my speaking program, and so what we do there is teach people how to become better speakers who can earn and income speaking so that they can get more time and freedom to impact more lives. And part of that involves coaching so it’s not just online training, it’s actually coaching one-on-one.
I have people that I sit with or that will come to me or will chat via phone or Facebook or what have you. I have my next talk coming up, how can I make sure I find leads from that talk? How can I make sure I knock it out of the park? Somebody just did it their very first talk through our program. And I said through our program, I mean they found their first talk, they secured it and they delivered it and they sent me a video. And the talk, they had four people showed up and it was a part of a bigger conference let’s say and of course you could see them with various rooms. So that’s not abnormal, it’s just like coaching when you first try it, you might have two clients and then years later you might have 50.
So they had four people in the room and they sent me the videos and see what I thought and they did a great job. But the first thing I noticed is that the way their camera was showing, you could see that every chair on the front was empty. So it made it look like it’s possible that they’re actually speaking to no one and they just put the camera up and they’re trying to send the video and let the people see this is one of my talks.
So the first thing I said is whether we do it for you or whether you do it yourself, you need to crop all those chairs. So if you take those chairs out, you wouldn’t know if there were 300 people in there. But if you leave those chairs in, whether it’s empty or not, you can tell that the front rows is not full which is a bad sign.
So going back to my point, Andrea is you know that’s obviously a lot more in the way of coaching and even to the extent that people would call and say “How would I launch my speaking career? I’ve been speaking for a while, how do I actually start getting paid fees to do this?” So we do a lot of one-on-one coaching. But again, if you say how do you identify yourself, it always goes back to speaker first.
Andrea: I know that you have some background in standup comedy and there’s something to do with that that got you into speaking in the first place. How did that start for you?
Corey Poirier: I guess it’s sort of an interesting story because it’s an interesting journey into the speaking world. But basically, for me, how it all started is I had a stage play in a French class. I guess it’s the better way to back that story up, if you will. One of the actors in the place said “Hey, Corey, I heard about the standup comedy workshop, how would you like to jump in with me? A university stand-up comedy workshop, essentially in two weeks, we’re going to learn how to do standup the comedy.
Now, the number one fear in the world above death is public speaking. Most people have heard that stat before. What that means is if you’re at a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than do a eulogy for the average person.
Interestingly, I wasn’t too excited about the idea performing standup, but I realized that if I just go to the workshop that doesn’t mean I ever have to get on the stage. So basically, we went to the comedy club on the third week. They told us that people are going to entertain us. We get there excited; it’s going to be like a clinic in our minds. There were 15 of us showed up. It was five minutes to show time; we noticed the comics weren’t there yet. We asked him about it, he turned to us and said “You guys are the comics. Sorry, I didn’t let you know on it.”
I went to the bathroom trying to find the exit window and there was no exit window. I came back and eight of the 15 that showed up there that took the workshop and planned to do the standup, most of them were actors. They were already in the entertainment business; they literally walked out the door.
So over 50% walked out at the front door, I was one of the one last from the 15% who stayed. I had been to a Toastmaster’s meeting. Essentially what I learned is if you’re going to face the fear like speaking, do it first. When they were still debating who’s going to go up first by the side of the stage, I jumped on the stage, grabbed the mic, launched in my first joke. And I told my first joke what I thought was maybe the funniest joke that I knew at the time, delivered it too, dead silence!
And all of a sudden, the sweats were rolling down my face. I realized that the standup thing was not so easy. But I also knew, I was up there already, so it was easier to launch the joke number two because maybe it was just the joke. So I jumped on the joke number two and this time still no laughter, and this time still full of sweat. This time, I kind of heard the crickets at the back of the room. I saw the tumbleweed go past the stage.
So Guy, (his name was actually Guy), who pulled us into this whole thing, called me over to the corner stage, he gave me one of those smacks that I could have and said “You idiot, we haven’t even turned the mic on yet.” So my first joke I ever delivered in my life to an audience, my first time on a stage ever in my life, actually, I didn’t even have the mic turned on. I literally wasn’t prepared. I blamed him because he said he only taught us how to adjust the mic stand, but the truth is you should know to turn the mic on.
And by the way, that has worked the way to my speaking ever since because now when I do talks, I’ll ask a question to keep going with my talk to see what kind of response I get to make sure people can hear me all because of that. Because when you’re a new speaker, sometimes you’re at the mercy of the sound people and if they haven’t turned it on…so now, I’m conscious about it all the time.
But to go back to your original question, Andrea, you said that that led me into speaking. Well that night, well not specifically that night, but that first performance opened up the possibility because I was terrified of speaking in public. So getting on standup stage was even obviously way worst than that.
And what happened was I saw Tony Robbins, and this was after I’d seen him on his infomercial, which I thought was a TV show. But I thought Tony was being paid by his products only and didn’t get paid as a speaker. And somebody ticked me off or I Googled it or something happened and I quote in “This guy is actually getting paid to speak.” And speaking has a lot of what I love about standup and not so much about what I don’t like.
So all of a sudden, I transitioned into speaking and the transition was an easy decision. I kept doing standup for another nine years. But of course, speaking is my main focus. I go for standup at first once a week but then eventually got to once every three weeks or a month. But I was obsessed by performing stand-up but speaking became my core passion.
And what’s interesting is most of the stand-ups that I was sharing _____ never went to speaking route so much so that a lot of them kept saying “Oh my God, you get paid to do what we do way more than you would get from the comedy club, how do I do this?” And then I would have speakers, they wouldn’t want to do standup but they were saying “Oh my God, dude, I could never start my speaking with that speaking stuff. I can never do standup.”
So one thing I learned really quickly is that what I was doing was very unique from all speakers and all stand-ups. I merged that two whereas most people never did. So that was a long story but that’s how my speaking journey, which again is my core focus and passion today, started. So I started with stand-up. I couldn’t have a better training ground. There was no better in my experience. No better training ground for communicating than getting on a standup stage and hoping for the best.
Andrea: Yeah that’s funny. So I’ve got a question though. You mentioned that at the beginning that you speak for students, you speak for corporate, and you speak at conferences. I’ve heard it said, and I’m wondering if this is true from somebody that’s really experienced with this, I’ve heard it said that if you think that you can speak to any audience and say anything that you’re wrong, but I wonder if with the standup background and everything, has that made you more a versatile or what do you speak about and why?
Corey Poirier: So I mentioned that that was sort of niche that I started with standup and then transition. The other part of that I guess was sort of a niche or made me, let’s say standout a little better as well is I actually start it in business. And when I say business, I had my first business way before standup. In addition to that, I transitioned to the corporate world. So I was working first for Toshiba Canada, so Toshiba that makes the photocopiers, the laptops what have you. And then I work for Konika Minolta, which is the Toshiba’s competitors.
So for people that don’t know those names, it would be like the Xerox industry, so I competed against Xerox for 10 years in the corporate sales role. I worked for Hewlett Packard and SPC software. And so I did that after having my own business and my business was the business newspaper like a regional newspaper version of Success Magazine.
The key thing is, I had a business background to draw from way before standup. So for me making the transition into a corporate business speaker was much easier than of course a standup comic trying to make a transition into a inspirational speaker or a speaker that just decides to eventually speak and then figure out a topic.
So the benefit I had was that, I was already working in corporate sales so I could go easily to a sales group or company that had sales staff and go in as a sales trainer or as a speaker that speaks around the area of selling. That was my first, I’m going to say, my first niche topic area.
I went in doing sales, in fact, my first company in that realm as a trainer was called the International Sales Training Institute. I was actually doing sales training and speaking on the subject of selling. That eventually transitioned to customer service, so I’d speak on customer service.
Again, not a really big stretch because I have done, we figured over 10,000 cold calls to customers over my corporate sales period. So obviously, I get to learn a lot of a customer service making that many cold calls and then of course those turned into warm calls at some point and then you have customers as a result from that.
So I learned a lot of a customer service after doing that many sales calls and working with clients, you know, thousands and thousands of clients over the course of 10 years. Customer service again wasn’t that much stretch, I had that experience and then I guess what I speak on the most today; I still speak on customer service.
So I have a talk on getting a standing ovations from every customer, which evolved into a book a few years back and then a talk on winning and adjusting to personality types which is essentially being able to read four dominant personality types that we’re going to interact with every day in any capacity of our life, even on a radio interview. How do you adjust to those people, so you have that people that are social and talks a lot, the people who are very directed that don’t talk at all. You have the people that are very technical and have lots of questions and then you have the people that are standoffish and don’t like arguments and what have you.
So essentially I teach that and again that’s not much of a stretch when you consider all the sales experience I had selling to the corporate personality types. And then finally probably what I’m most known for is the talk called the Timeless Secrets of influential leaders and where my background lies there is essentially after doing, so now I’m up to over 4000 interviews.
So for people that have known Napoleon Hill, essentially what I’m doing is the modern day work of what Napoleon Hill did in the ‘30’s which an essentially interview of high achievers to figure out what they do uniquely and differently and share that with other people.
So the short answer I guess is that I speak on those three areas today. But every time that I was speaking on the subject, I never talk on a subject that I wasn’t very very much, I’m going to say, well-versed in and experienced in and stuff that I’ve walked on the path. I’m not a fan of taking on a talk to get paid money or taking on a talk because you feel it may increase your credibility if you’re not the right person be doing that talk. I really feel you need to be the right person.
There are so many people calling themselves the guru but don’t have any experience in the area they’re talking about. And so I need to be the person that has already lived it and been in the trenches before I speak on.
Andrea: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and it’s a good point. You know, a few minutes that we talked, it sounds to me like you have lived a hundred years worth of achievements and experience. But I know that you’re not a 100 years old and you’re saying that you’ve learned a lot from high achievers. I guess what I’m saying is that it sounds like you are a high achiever and you’ve been able to gain a lot of experience and things. You’re not that old, right?
Corey Poirier: I’ll say that I’m quite willing to reveal my age; I know that everybody is but I’m 42. What I’ll say is this; I mean there’s kind of two parts to answer that. The first part is by doing those interviews, which is why I’m so passionate sharing about this common traits with others so that, you know, people call it hacks. So I’ve learned the hacks in different areas. We might call it shortcuts for people who aren’t familiar with the term hacks.
But basically, by doing all this interviews, I’ve been able to realize a lot of shortcuts to achievement that I wouldn’t be able to probably discover without spending an extra 40 years on the trenches. You know, I probably wouldn’t be 70 or something before I could do these same things without learning from these highest of achievers.
So I’m the one benefit that a lot of people don’t have because not only do I learned from mentors and high achievers but I’m able to look at thousands and say “Okay, what are the common five? What are the common seven?” I have the research to back it up and then I go out and live it. So I don’t just kind of say “I know it works that I’ll just share it with other people.” I literally go out and sort of live it.
It’s funny when you said that, Andrea, about a hundred years; otherwise, it always fascinates me but I was on a show which you might be familiar, it’s called Join Up Dots with the host David Ralph. And we actually use this on my immediate intro because the way it started just, I don’t know, it made me laugh every time I hear it but it goes back to what you’ve just said. And you know, he’s opening was “You know, my next guest is 420 years old or he has managed to squeeze X amount of achievements in in X amount of time.”
And so until that point, I hear that a lot and so what I would say is it’s not that I started with any special skills that’s a given for sure. I was raised by a single mother, barely graduated high school. One of my teachers gave me 49 + 1 to let me know I didn’t officially graduate. He gave me the actual point to finish my last year in school, grade 12, so no special talent to start it with.
When I started music for instance, I still can’t tune a guitar by ear, I still use a tuner and I’ve been playing music for, I don’t know how long now, since I was 12 or something like that. I had a girlfriend and my girlfriend said “Stop playing, you’re hurting my ears.” And then fast forward, a bunch of years later and I released four CD’s and I have music videos and…
Andrea: Oh my goodness, music too?
Corey Poirier: Yeah, music too. And when I say that, Andrea, the reason I practiced the way I did is because I wouldn’t want somebody think when I say that, it’s like me saying “Oh look at me.” I say that because it’s the proof of the whole 10,000 hours that we hear. If we put in the time, we can master or at least learn any skills. So the music was one I definitely can back it up, my mother would tell you I was horrible. It took me like two and a half years of playing guitar before I could play one song from start to finish. And now I jam with people that were levels above me way from the day they started and I’ve had people working for me at my shows that really should be signed to a record label.
And so I say this because I’ve learned that we can truly get good any skill and do it much quicker than we’re told to believe if we’re able to learn what the shortcuts are. So if you can learn what the highest of achievers do well and figure out what they’re all doing and we can take that one thing, let’s say tenth of a percent that they’re doing differently than everybody else and we can incorporate that into our lives. I believe we can take and reduce; first of all, we can bring it down lower than 10,000 hours, but I believe we can actually knock off years from what we would spend learning the skill.
I mean, I go back to stand-up, I told you I bombed that first night. Well, I went the first two years and I didn’t have five minutes, no joke, five minutes of laughs back to back of material. I took me over two years to get five minutes and it took me nine years before I could do a 45 minutes set. So you know just to back it up and just to, I guess to just finish that, so it’s not just to build me. A good friend of my Tracy McDonald won star search and she was, I believe, the only female comedienne that ever win Star Search.
She won $250,000 a pilot show, and when I interviewed Tracy about being a standup. I asked about headlining and she told me, it took her five years to get her first headline spot and yet she won Star Search. And now that she won, you could call her the funniest comedienne in the world and yet, it took her five years to even get one headline spot. It’s important for people to realize and know that if you believe in something and you have a big enough passion and you can learn what the secrets are and the shortcuts, you can actually, as we just said, squeeze a hundred years of achievements into a shorter amount of time.
Andrea: OK, now everybody is sitting here going “OK so give me one at least one of the hacks that you have applied to your own life that helped drive you and move you forward.”
Corey Poirier: I’ll actually give you a few really quick way, because I tell you one super quick way. I won’t go much further than this and people want to know more about this.
Corey Poirier: Well, first of all, you and I were talking about that I have a new book coming in that would help them with this, so I’ll tell you this is the number one. But the reason I want to give you at least one more is because a lot of people listening to your show may have already achieved this or maybe on track with this.
So the first one is these highest of achievers have discovered their calling. So whether we use the word calling, purpose, passion, or what I use now was their “why.” They figured out what it is. They finally tuned it so that they could say “This is exactly what I need to be doing almost all of every day if I want to be successful in what it is that I love.”
So for example with me, to go one step further and give you a how-to, you know, if your listeners are saying “How do I do that?” What I tell people, especially with their why, is to sit down, I mean this could take an hour or for one person and this could take five years to somebody else. But to figure out why, for example, we share mine earlier, my why is to create invisible impact, so I want to create invisible impacts.
For my mission statement, my personal mission statement for me that I created was essentially is “Corey is the guy,” or “I wanna be the guy who motivates, donates, inspires, educates, and entertains.” And so those five things if I’m doing four of the five of those at all times, I’m on track. I’m going to crush it. If I’m doing things that are one of those or less all the time, I’m going to struggle.
So first of all, you need to figure out what your why is and that’s the part of the book coming out will actually takes the person through that whole exercise that I’ll reveal to people of how to find your why. But even if you have already found it, what I suggest is you need to figure out what’s your first initial statement is and how that ties into what your why is. If you can figure out those two things, I believe that first of all, you put yourself already in the top 10%.
So if you look at Simon Sinek, he has a video called Start With Why, that’s another place people could start. Go watch that video on, it’s a TED Talk and he talks about how Harley is why being a lifestyle company and how Harley creates the ability for a 42-year-old accountant, the driver wearing black leather in a little town where no one has seen him before and had people be terrified of him. And that’s a lifestyle whereas Indian makes a motorbike and the result is Harley crashing it with market share.
Apple has a why that change the world, whereas Dell sells a good-priced computer and so Dell sells the why and Apple sells the why. What’s the end result, Apple is crushing it.
If you go to Disney, Disney wants to be the happiest place on earth. So Disney’s mission statement by the way is to make people happy. It’s that simple, to make people happy.
So basically their why is to become the happiest place on earth that’s what they want to do. They wanted to have people walk away happy and their mission statement is to make people happy. So that drives all their actions. They know of somebody who spills an ice cream cone at Disney, as an employee, you’re empowered to go on and replace that ice cream cone instantly because that’s going to make somebody happy.
So you need to figure out what your why is and what your mission statement to get to that why. And like I said the exercise on how to do it is longer than we have in the interview. I have a book where people can learn about that. It’s actually called The Book of Why (and How), and we and could talk about that and I can tell people how they can learn more about that if you want, Andrea.
Andrea: Yeah, definitely.
Corey Poirier: OK perfect. Well, I’ll jump onto the second one, but remind me, maybe at the end I’m sure we’ll talk about the details.
Andrea: Oh yeah.
Corey Poirier: OK, so the second one and this is the one that ties directly into the first one I just shared so that’s a good segway, is the power of ‘No.’ And so what do I mean by that? We hear people all the time say ‘Yes’ in everything and figure how to do later. I heard a quote one time by Richard Branson that said that and it really stuck with me because I was like “OK, this is confusing me because Richard Branson is saying say yes to everything, but most of the high achievers I’m interviewing say no to almost everything.”
So what I had to do is I have to dig a lot of research and figure out of what Richard Branson said, which is misquoted, which we see all the time. And again, I’m paraphrasing because I’m going by memory of the exact quote, but he said “Figure out how to say yes to everything you love and then figure out how to do it.” So the key thing is you love but the way the quote is presented was like say yes to everything that comes your way.
We all know that Richard Branson is running 200 some companies and he’s not running every aspect of those companies. So we know he’s saying no to a lot more that he’s saying yes to. Like I said that conflicted with me, but I grew up in a small town, meat and potatoes, and I was kind of taught you’re supposed to say yes to everybody. So it was a struggle for me to get around this idea of saying no. But it was a glaring statistic when I look back at these interviews that most of these highest of achievers were saying no to most things.
The second thing I’ve learned from high achievers is you need to figure how to say no to all of the things that won’t move you closer to your goal so that you can say yes to the few things that will move the needle as fast as possible. And tying that back into the last point about your why, here’s the cool thing; if you can put together that mission statement I mentioned, so I mentioned motivate, donate, etc.
So what I do is if somebody offers me an opportunity, I kidded against those five and if it’s going to be four of those five, in other words if it was a TV show that would allow me to reach four or five of those that’s going to be the easiest yes I’ll ever say. However, if the show is going to hit only one of those or zero, it’s going to be an easy no that I can walk away from with no regret. Now, why is this significant, it’s because I was able to turn down a couple of television shows opportunities that when I first started my journey, I would have said yes to _____.
But because I realized that they won’t be going to help me get bucks to donate, they were paying me. They were going to let me entertain. They wanted me to be fixed around their script. And by the way, I’ve even turned down where people wanted me to use their script to develop my talk because it’s going to allow me to any of those five things or especially not many of them.
So what happens is by knowing my personal mission statement, I can apply this power of no because it helps me decide what’s a Yes and a No. So the high achievers if we get to the second common trait, is they say no more often and they know what to say no to so that they can say yes to those few things rather than getting bug down into the ones that won’t move them closer to their goal. So that’s number two.
The other one that I will add in them is life-long learning. So something that we discovered is that life-long learners are leaders. So what do I mean by that is that people that figure out how to keep feeding their minds and that could be by watching a TED Talk every third day, that could be by reading 20 minutes in the morning every day, however they figure to do it. The people that keep feeding their mind long after is done are the ones that seem to rise to and stay at the top.
So you think of all the top achievers from years gone by of what we call had been called thought leaders, you know your Zig Zigler, your Jim Rohn, or your Tony Robbins, these people even though they’re at the highest level, they’re still going and attending seminars. They’re still watching other speakers. Jack Canfield that we’ve had in the show is a great example.
Jack was 69 I think when we had him on the show. For the listeners who may not know of Jack, he created this highly successful Chicken Soup for the Soul. He created The Success Principles and Jack share with us that he still goes to Tony Robbins’ seminars even though him and Tony are buddies and sit at the back and take these crazy amounts of notes.
And somebody then told me when I shared that story, they’ve been there and seen it and said Jack is taking his pages of notes and there was this 19 year old sitting beside him and he’s looking at his phone. So you get my point, right? The 69 year old who doesn’t probably need it anymore, he truly doesn’t probably need it but he believes he does. And because of that, he keeps feeding that mind and he’ll probably be reading a book until his last day.
So powerful message is you need to figure out, first of all, how to feed your mind and do it efficiently, and the second thing is you need to have learning plan whether it’s formal or not to make sure that that happens. If I give you three, there are three of them, Andrea, but I’ve discovered from these high achievers and the degree in which we practice them. In other words, the more you practice them, the better chance you’re going to join that club yourself and do it a lot sooner.
Andrea: Those are really good. Thank you for sharing those that was very generous. Yeah, we’ll definitely link to your book or whatever you want us to link to in the show notes for sure, and you can tell us again where to find that at the end so that the listeners can write it down. But I do have another question related to this. I’ve heard you mentioned on the recent podcast episode that you would like to try to focus more on one thing but that’s hard for you because you’re multi-passionate. So I’m wondering what does multi-passionate mean to you and why do you want to focus more on one thing. Is it related to this why thing, this book that you’ve written?
Corey Poirier: Yeah, it’s a great question. I did an interview recently with the show called the One Thing, which is kind of interesting you mentioned that and there’s a book called the One Thing. And this is what sort of trigger for me. I started reading this book and recognized, again going back to the high achievers that one of the other traits and this is the very quick one, but basically they go all in so they know how to avoid distractions. They go all in with their phone when they’re with their phone. They go all in with the person when they’re with the person but they don’t try to overlap the two of them.
So I believed for a long time that single task should become the new ‘sexy.’ I believe single tasking is much more efficient than multitasking and that’s been proved statistically. You know, people love the idea of multitasking. It’s seems like a hack or it seems like something sexy but the truth is that they’ve proven with statistics that multitasking isn’t as efficient. In fact, Robin Sharma who’s The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari author, I heard an interview with him where shared that he was involved in a study where they showed that for every one minute you get distracted, it gets you five minutes to get back to focusing in whatever you’re doing.
So in terms of this one thing, I’ll answer in two ways; one I want to continue to get more focused because I know single tasking is way more beneficial in every way even in your health, your personal life and so on and so forth. And the second part is in terms of what it means to me so what I had to do, Andrea, and I’m trying to get this constantly more finally tuned is to figure out what my one thing is.
So this work in two ways; one is I want to make sure I’m only doing one thing at a time that one is a little easier because even though you’re multi-passionate, you can truly say, “Okay, I’m doing an interview with Andrea right now, I’m not gonna check my messages.” So there are two things to separate there, when we talk with doing one thing. First of all, I mean I want to be doing one thing at a time so that means you could be blocking your time and say “OK, these hour is for interviews, these hour is for social media, and this hour is for Facebook live, whatever that means so that’s time blocking where you can say “OK, I’m doing one thing at a time.”
But then there’s a bigger thing we could talk about which is doing one thing in my life. That’s a whole different thing. So when I talk with the one thing, I believe I was talking about the one thing at a time where I’m trying to juggle a bunch of things; however, I will answer the other part. What I’m trying to constantly fine tune is what is that one thing in the center of all the things I’m doing that they all tied to so that I make sure that everything I’m doing filters back into one major thing.
So to explain what I mean by that is I could even use the example ripple that we talked about. So how am I getting my messages or what are the platforms? So the platforms are just different ways but the one thing I’m doing is trying to create a ripple or invisible impact. So that’s my one thing but then to do that I have to do maybe multiple platforms so that could be interviews, talks, and what have you. And then to go back further in this one thing, but when I’m doing them, I need to be doing only one of them at a time.
So I can’t be checking my messages while I’m speaking. I can’t be working on my book and writing my book while I’m listening to a podcast.
So I have to be doing one thing at a time, whereas you know the norm today is to try to figure out how to juggle multiple things. I guess, I have to also add in, there is a time whenever multitask can make sense. I did a talk the other day and I was in this rural community, and a person came up and he said “You know, I think you’re talking about multitasking. Well, if I never multitask during my day, I’d gonna get anything done.”
And then he went on to explain that, he’s a farmer and he drives the tractor all day and he said “So it’s abnormal for me to pick a call from my wife talk around driving a tractor.” Well, I’m pretty sure you can probably multitask enough with the headset on and drives the truck. So when I say multitasking, what I’m getting at is the things that need to focus, something you can’t do an autopilot.
So like a mother holding the baby and talking on the phone that’s multitasking but it’s not like either of those things unless she’s endanger of dropping the baby. She should sit down and she can probably do both of those things at once. Mothers multitask all day but usually the things they’re doing isn’t going to be a thing that that requires so much attention that if it’s not done right, it’s going to impact their personal professional life.
To clarify this whole thing what I’m getting at is there’s time for a quick multitask because neither one of them has to do with something that is your genius area or your most important time where you should be focused. When you are in that area, I believe you should be doing one thing at a time and avoid many distractions.
And then I also think that whether they’re trying to serve four or five, let’s call them bees, you know four or five things, you should figure out where is the one thing I’m trying to do here. Like you could say, who am I trying to reach as an audience with our show and what’s the one message I’m trying to give to them versus trying to give them 13 different messages. So that’s what I mean by the One Thing, does that make sense in terms of how I define it because it has various different levels of the one thing for me.
Andrea: Yeah, right. No, it does. It does make sense. I tend to call it alignment and making sure that everything is aligned with that core message or as you put it “the why,” and yeah it makes a lot of sense and then it comes out in this different what I call creative contributions. So whether it’s speaking, your writing you’re your podcast whatever, like you said different platforms or these different offerings that you have are aligned with that why, with that message that you’re wanting to share. I think that makes so much sense and it’s so powerful. I totally agree.
Corey Poirier: Yeah, like I said that book by the way, just an FYI and if somebody is looking for resources maybe they love reading, grab that book if you’re looking for a way to get more focused or if you know single tasking makes more sense and you want proof and you want also a strategy on how to do that that’s one of those books. There are not so many modern books for me personally, like in the last five years, I can put up there for me with How to Win Friends and Influence People or Think and Grow Rich, you know, those classics that changed millions of lives.
The One Thing is one of those books that I believed has that ability. I think over a million people bought it so I can’t speak for how many lives that has changed but what I can say, for me it’s one of those books that should be in that classic genre. It might make it there. Another one just an extra is that The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. So if you’re looking for books that I can literally say modern books in the last five years that have changed my way of thinking and changed my way of doing, those are two books I would say, “run, don’t walk.”
Andrea: Cool. Now Corey, tell us where we can find your book Why?
Corey Poirier: Interestingly enough, Andrea, depending when the listeners are hearing this, and I’m saying this because it could be either or. But in the next few weeks, we’re going to be launching the book in a full scale. We’re using a Kickstarter campaign. So we’re taking a very modern and different approach to launch. We’re going to be using a Kickstarter campaign, so people are going to be able to support the project while getting the book or audio version of the book and the book or various different prize levels if you will.
But basically, where you find that is the bookofwhy.com.
What I will say in my opinion for the sake of the price of the book, we’ve already seen it with the three digital books; we have people that have changed their whole life patterns based on it. So this is thousands of hours of research where you packed in all these quotes and everything.
So whether you go there and get it for free as the shorthand book or you get the full book and grab a copy, I think it still worth it. What you get from it is you learn how to find your why, you’ll learn how to tap and do it, and then you’ll learn more about these traits I’ve been sharing. You’ll learn how to run a meaningful business and become more lightened and then you’ll get access to 450 quotes of which even just one of those could possibly change your life or way of thinking.
Andrea: Cool. Well, that’s exciting. Congratulations on this endeavor and good luck on it!
Corey Poirier: Oh thank you so much!
Andrea: Alright. Well, thank you for being here Corey. Thank you for sharing so many really helpful insights and you’re inspiring story with us today.
Corey Poirier: Oh thank you, Andrea, and I have to add, thank you for all the work you’re doing. I would say you know that both from show host and from listeners, so thanks for the listeners as well. But without listeners of course, we don’t really have a purpose so talking about your whys. I want to thank you first of all for making it so that listeners give us a purpose, you know, more of us to out this out there that means more listeners are going to discover, podcasts and shows in which they find ways to change their life and then of course to those listeners, I want to say thank you for giving me and Andrea both a purpose.
So just thanks for helping me some magic happened today all the way around.
Andrea: Awesome! Alright, we’ll talk to you later.
Alright, so depending on when you listen to this, thebookofwhy.com will have something different. If it’s asking you for a code, add ‘why’ as the code, otherwise, you’re going to be able to have the opportunity to see all the different things that Corey is doing with his book.
Now, we really dig into a lot of really good, good tips and strategies. I’m in particular really fascinated by this idea of why. And I would just encourage you to make sure that you dial down on that why as tight as you can get because if you end up living it really really broad, it might be hard for you to really feel like it’s a tight alignment with all the things that you’re doing.
But if you get really clear, really focused, really dialed down on your why then everything else is going to feel tighter like it’s a power packed kind of presence that you have. When I say presence, I’m talking about whatever you’re doing and whatever you’re offering. So I would definitely encourage you to do that, to get really dial down in on your why.
If you’re looking for additional help with that, I do have a guide. And you can go find it at voiceofinfluence.net/focus, I think that that will help you a lot too.
Alright, thank you so much for your time today and for your attention. If you have it already, please go subscribe the Voice of Influence and I really look forward to seeing you next on our Voice Studio. So dial in and dial down on that why and make your voice matter more!
Elephants make bad pets. If you read Terry Weaver’s new release Making Elephants Fly, you’ll realize why. The “elephant in the room” for too many people is that they have dreams they aren’t pursuing. There’s no simple answer to what we ought to do with our dreams, but in this interview, Terry explains the havoc these “elephants” cause in people’s lives. Sometimes the greatest risk is to let an elephant make it’s home in your living room, where it doesn’t belong. What dream is chasing you? Who needs you to be a Timothy Mouse in their lives by offering a feather to help them believe in themselves?
You can find Terry on his website, www.terryweaver.com.
Making Elephants Fly is now available at makingelephantsfly.com,
and information about his live event “The Thing” at thething.live.
Andrea: Terry Weaver, it is so good to have you back on the Voice of Influence podcast.
Terry Weaver: I’m a fan. I’m excited to be back, a fan of your work, and it’s exciting to be back again today.
Andrea: Yeah, thank you! When we were talking back, gosh, I think your episode came out May, maybe even April last year or of this year, 2017 and we were talking about some of the things that you were working on your book. And now I have it in my hands and it’s so good, Terry. It’s great!
Terry Weaver: Thank you! You know, there are courses that you take how to write book in a month. I did not take that course. It’s just more like how to spend way too long writing a book. It’s good to get it done and get it out of the world and start telling people about the stories. I feel like I’ve been treating this animal for the last five years and now I’m ready to take it off the press so that it’s out in world and hope that it helps people and doesn’t kill me.
Andrea: You’re asking people to be audacious so you’ll never know.
Terry Weaver: Exactly! I mean, I’d rather them die living the best possible life than to wither away living the life that was not worth living.
Terry Weaver: Yeah. My friends give me a hard time because sometimes I kind of lead towards that morbid…but you know, we live in a world right now that it’s just seems like it’s going mad like Alice in Wonderland. And I was like “Has the place gone mad? Yes, I think it has.” And there’s just a lot of chaos. There’s a lot of hurt. There’s a lot of pain, and our time on this planet is really limited, so I want to do my part to encourage people to go on and live now and stop waiting for…
As you’ve read, you know, the beginning of the book really starts with the permission like literally. I’m giving people just permission to chase those big audacious dreams. There’s never been a better time to do what you want to do from where you are. And I’m not here to show and go that at the end of the journey is going to be easy. It’s going to be 10 times harder than you ever imagine.
But yeah, it’s so much work to make these things happen and to make these things become real and big dreams come with a lot of late nights. I’m ending a season of living from one season of hustle as I call it with a little tiny break in between. Now that I’m in my 40s, staying up until 3:00, 4:00, 5:00, or 6:00 in the morning working and getting things out the door hurt a lot more than it did in my 20s.
Andrea: Oh yeah!
Terry Weaver: So the bounce back is you know when you’re in college and you did those things and it’s like two cups of coffee the next day, you’re good. Now, it’s like in the middle of the following week, you still feel like you’ve been run over by a train, but we’re here proceeding.
Andrea: That’s right. The book is called Making Elephants Fly. So Terry, where did you come up with this title and why this title? And this is the title of your podcast as well, so why this title?
Terry Weaver: I was sitting in a Starbucks one day and a friend of mine was having a conversation online. And he was kind of talking about Walt’s quote where he said “If you can dream it, you can do it.” And I was just like “Yeah, but…” and I said something to him that I was like “No, no, what you miss is the fact that Walt Disney believed in the idea that if he can make an elephant fly in a cartoon that the imagineers can make an elephant fly at a theme park.
He believed that if there was an idea that he can get a team or process a way to move that idea forward. Really, all of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them and we really chase to go after them. If we don’t give up, when trial comes and tribulations come. And if you know Walt Disney’s story, his story was one greater than pain and hurt and struggle.
So I was sitting at the Starbucks, at the time I really wasn’t writing much. I was blogging and I would write my blog there. I begin to just start talking to all the baristas that day because one of them said “Hey, what are you doing?” I was like “Oh, I’m just writing my blog.” That always leads to a longer conversation. I discovered everybody working in that building had no desire to be a barista. All of them had moved to the city of Nashville to chase a song-writing dream.
They came here to work on the production team or they came here because they knew there was a creative environment here. They came here because they wanted to get on in the medical field and they knew there was a lot of opportunity here because there was a big healthcare area. All these people were doing nothing how to do with their dreams and I was just like “Man.”
And then the thought kind of crossed through my head at the beginning there, imagine the elephant in a room that they’re living with. I switch sometimes working in the music business and I remember all the artists that quit right before things started. They were on the edge where the pain was real, the work was incredibly hard but they were moving to the phase where things were going to start to get a little at least differently and a little bit easier and the door is going to start opening a little wider for them but they quit.
I thought about all of them living with the pain of “What if.” Those two words can haunt your entire life, “What if? What if I never do this? What if I would have done this?” So I just started kind of thinking about the idea of an elephant. I don’t know about you, but I get a lot of ideas maybe too many. But when I do get an idea, I tend to kind of let it live with me and this idea of “making elephants fly” just would not freaking go away.
I had really, I mean honestly, no desire to write a book. I never did well in English in school. If you tell every teacher that I would be writing a book, they would laugh in your face, but this book just begins and just come out of me and so I started. I started but I was just like, you know, I’m a person of faith so I was like “So OK, God, if this is really something you want me to do, I’m going to call the Nashville Zoo and they’re going to let me hangout with the elephants.”
That totally seems like something that normal people would say no to, right? “Nope,” then next they say “Hey sir, we love to schedule the time. We love to have you. This is normally where they cost thousands of dollars but we love what you’re doing, we want to support you.” So I go to the zoo and get to interview the head zoo keeper and the guy stood out there and talked to me forever. It was literally like a 100 degrees in Nashville. It was incredibly off out of the normal day. And he was like “Hey man, it’s hot out here. Can we go back stage; I’d like to show you where the elephants live when they’re not on the zoo.” I’m like “Are you kidding me right now?”
So we go back and we get to spend time with the elephants and he was like “Hey, let me take you into their enclosures.” So we go there really through the bars into the elephants’ cage where they stay, which by the way, is freaking scary but it was also scary for the elephant. So I met an elephant by the name of Juno and she’s a beautiful elephant. She has since passed out of a disease elephant’s in captivity and they get a lot of diseases which is why it’s much better where they could be in a place out of the zoo and be out open and moving. A lot of zoos are moving more towards that.
As soon as I walked into the cage, she had to pee. And we’ve all heard the phrase, “You got to pee like race horse.” Nope, that statement should be, “You got to pee like an elephant.” Because let me tell you, the only way I could describe it, it was like a fire hose coming out of a 55 gallon bucket all at once and that was kind of her reactions to me coming in there. He said “No, no that’s normal.” I’m like “Man, there was nothing normal about what was coming out of her right there. That was the most fluid I’ve ever seen in my entire life.”
So that moment I truly understood and I really had a pretty clear picture of what is like to live with an elephant that you should have in your house. I just started to think of all my friends and all of the people that I kind of knew that have these big crazy ideas and are doing nothing about them. You know in my head, I’m just imagining this elephant going around and peeing all over furniture and I was like “Man, that’s a mess.” Then I begin to realize why they’re miserable, why their marriages were struggling, why they weren’t happy, or why they hated their job and so I wanted to write a book for these people.
Obviously, the idea of Making Elephants Fly inspired by the story of Dumbo in Walt Disney in desires to make elephants fly, and you can go to every theme park. Everywhere they’re located you can go and ride an elephants fly. I still get an elephant ride like a crazy person that go up and down and just to remind myself of like “Wow, someone at one point thought this was impossible to do,” but one man’s dream and one man’s passion for an idea made it happen. And now Tim Burton is actually in production of doing a live-action Dumbo movie, which you know, I love Tim Burton, so I hope that’s going to be cool.
But yeah, we all have these elephants. We all have this big dream. We all have these big passions; but the difference is a lot of us are just living with them. I’ve seen the other side of how inaction would do more damage than actually taking the risk of actually breaking free than actually doing the things and giving them a try. We’ve been taught at a young age that failure is a bad thing. You don’t want to be a failure, but one of those things that makes you a failure is when you don’t get back up when you do fail. We’re all going to not succeed at something. We’re all not going to achieve the things that we set out to achieve. But when we’re actually are pursuing those things, there’s going to be a lot of failure but it’s a lot better than just asking yourself at the end of your “What if?”
Terry Weaver: One of the big ideas in the book is even if you are nearing the end of your life, if you’re not dead; you’re not done. That’s one of the big ideas in the book. If you’re here and you’re living and breathing, you’re here with a purpose. You’re here with something to do and it’s never too late to accomplish those big dreams that you’ve been wanting to accomplish.
Andrea: Boy, I can relate to this idea of the elephant that is trapped and still in captivity inside, because that’s definitely how I felt a few years ago. I can tell you, I affirm what you just said about how it can just cause havoc. I actually read the part, about the elephant peeing, like that page to my kids. They just died laughing. I thought that was hilarious by the way, but I think that that picture I just get it. It resonated with me and I think a lot of people don’t realize it that they don’t see it probably because of the other thing that you talked about towards the beginning of the book was that the elephants that follow each other in captivity with their tails. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that because that’s pretty good too?
Terry Weaver: So you’ve mentioned your kids, you know, the very first thing your kids learn when they go to school is what? They’re taught to stand in line.
Andrea: Oh yes! Don’t even get me started.
Terry Weaver: They’re taught to follow along. They’re taught to comply. In fact our entire education system is set up so that we will comply. If you don’t believe me in the story, go read books by Sir Ken Robinson and go read Seth Godin’s Stop Stealing Dreams. One of the best things I’ve ever read and it’s a free. It’s just a free PDF. But kids, you know, you’ll learn at an early age that you should just follow the person in front of you and you kind of march through your childhood like that, right?
I met a fifth grader a few weeks ago, he was talking about college. You know, when I was in fifth grade, the last thing on my mind was college, right? I was just trying to figure out how to stop picking my nose, you know what I mean? I never wanted to grow up. And so I rode my big wheel. It was a chips big wheel. It has had the wheels that literally fell off of a thing, right? It’s very interesting how society and I think even the idea of the American dream, I talked about in the book is one of those things that tries to keep us in captivity.
You know that idea that you go to school and you go to college and then you graduate college and you have two and a half kids, too bad for that 0.5 child, right? Then you go on and you live your life and you’re working on a job that you really don’t like but you do it because it’s a safe thing to do and then you retire and then you move to Florida and you wait to die. That’s kind of the American dream. I was just listening to a podcast for speakers with Ken Davis. He’s on his late 60s he’s like “I’m not retired.” He’s like “Retirement for me is death.” There are a lot of us that are starting to say “I wanna get out of that life. I wanna stop complying.”
So elephants in the wild will sometimes do a practice called “tailing.” If you’ve ever seen the elephants in the circus or elephants in the zoo, you’ll see the elephant’s trunk will grab the tail of the elephant in front of them. That’s mostly a practice that’s used with elephants that are in captivity not because it makes them safer, but it does keep them in-line and it gives you the illusion of safety, right? “OK, these elephants are complying, they’re following instructions, and they’re just following along.”
I think we march through life with the illusion of safety. We march through life with the illusion that we’re going to get a job and it’s secure. One of my coaching clients, her husband just lost his job that he was nearing retirement for. He worked his entire life for the safety and security of a job that he really didn’t like. And now here he is when he’s kind of cutting on his job, you know, he’s kind of at the red zone of life trying to get across the goal line and the same that he had been doing something he didn’t love, he ended up giving up because they let him down.
I think of Jim Carey, if you haven’t seen Jim Carey’s speech. He’s like “You can fail doing something you hate, so why would you not try to fail doing something you love.” And man, get on the line and be the kid. Luckily, my mom kind of allowed me to be that kid growing up. I got a lot of trouble in school. I acted out a lot. I was the kid in second grade that discovered that if you throw pencils on a teacher, you can get out of the class.
Andrea: Oh no!
Terry Weaver: I was the kid that learned that it was even better if you could keep the pencils really sharp. So my poor second grade teacher, they’ve told me had a nervous breakdown and quit teaching after that year. I got to do second grade again the next year. Kids, if you’re listening, I’m not telling you that’s how you should act. My parents had just gone through a divorce, I was acting out. I was wanting attention, but even at an early age, I started to go “I’m not really one for following the rules.”
Obviously, you’ve got to be a law abiding citizen. There are some rules that you have to follow, right? Or they put you away. But there’s no rule that says you have to go and work at a job you hate. Obviously, you had to make a living and as you know put in together a portfolio of opportunity that allows you to make a living, that’s easier said than done, right? For me, the alternative of going through life hating what I do is just not something I’m willing to accept.
We’ve got one shot at this thing called life like there’s not a second act. There’s not a sequel to life. We live in a Hollywood culture where there’s a sequel to everything but there’s no sequel to life. You don’t get to do this again. You don’t get to fix what went wrong in your first one the second time. We get one shot at it. Man, I believe that getting at a line as soon as you possibly can in chasing and doing.
I’m so jealous of kids that are in their late teens, early 20s and the world that they’re coming into of opportunity. When I was in my 20s, the internet had really just become a thing. We were still on AOL where we wanted the internet; we had to hear this (ahh ehh err) sound in the internet. The internet crawled along and you could basically send email and chat. That was really it. You really can’t book an airplane ticket online. You could barely sell anything, right?
Now, we’re having a conversation of over a thousand miles away through the internet. It can be posted and people are going to download this and listen to it in their car on the internet. But it’s just crazy if you think about that, right? People can go online and buy your book, buy my book on the internet. They don’t have to go to Barnes & Noble to buy, they can go to a website and put their credit card in and in a couple of days, the mail will show up and put that in the mail boxes.
There’s so much opportunity that there’s just no excuse to not do what you want. I’m not one of these guys that’s like “You can do it and it’s gonna be easy.” No, I’m telling you, “You could do it and it’s gonna feel like it’s impossible.” It’s going to be the most fun that you’ve ever had, but it’s going to be the hardest work that you’ve ever done but the reward is going to be incredible.
Andrea: I love that. I love that when you’re talking about story time with the elephants and you bring this exercise that I think is really interesting, the storyboarding your life. Tell us about that. What are the steps and what do you actually tell people do?
Terry Weaver: So it is something that I did several years ago. I had a coaching client really before I was even doing coaching. That guy met me in a coffee shop and was like “Hey, man, I’ll talk to you for five minutes and you tell me to figure out more in five minutes than I have in my entire life. I live in another city. I’ll fly you in. I’ll pay your expenses. I know how much you get paid to speak, I’ll just pay you that for three days, each day, and can you help me figure out where to go from here? Can you help me get unstuck?”
And that was kind of the first time I had really done that, so I was like “OK, I want you to go to Wal-Mart or wherever you go or send someone…” He was pretty wealthy individual, obviously if he can afford to hire some kids sitting in a coffee shop. So I had him give out index cards and we did the process like he would storyboard a movie, and we did it with his life. He figured out what are his roles and his goals.
I’m actually kind of turning this into a course that I’ll be recording. My wife has actually had me take her stuff through it. She’s getting a really good deal because she kind of personally pays me. So I’m doing it for free, the things we do for our spouses. When you storyboard a movie, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen like a documentary, The Pixar Story, which is a Pixar movie.
It’s a great documentary by a lady name, Leslie Iwerks. Her grandfather was Ub Iwerks, which was Walt Disney right-hand man. If you’ve ever seen Mickey Mouse, Ub was really responsible for Mickey. Walt kind of had the idea and Ub made them real, and they’re doing the same thing about Disney imaginary called Imagineering Story that’s supposed to come out soon too.
In the Pixar Story, you can see what storyboarding is. If you’ve ever seen an image of an animated movie because of so much cost and expense goes into every frame, even with computer animation, someone still has to literally touch almost every frame. So when you storyboard, you figure out what’s to going to happen intentionally in every part of the movie. And so storyboarding your life is really just that where you take your story of your life and you figure out how do you go to the process of what you want your life to look like.
You know, storyboarding is something you use a brainstorming. I used that when I wrote the book. I carry about a deck of index cards. There’s another author by the name of Rob Bell and I saw him did that with index cards, I’m like “Do that and that’s the best.” I had every kind of part and piece of the book in every story that I wanted to tell and I’d begin to put them together like a puzzle. It’s just a process that allows you to kind of look, it allows you to kind of hover over a big idea and see the whole thing.
What I want to do when storyboarding your life is I’m going to hover over your life. You know, with Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits talks about one of the habits is beginning with the end in mind. There’s an amazing story he tells in that book about, you know, imagine you were going to your own funeral in a few weeks and what would you want people to say about you. And man, that’s a jacked up exercise right there when you start thinking about the end of your life and those terms.
But when you start to look at how you want your story to end, it will have a great amount of impact of how you actually lived your life. The part of this process is really identifying your goals. When a movie is made there are a lot of people who watch the end credits. It’s unbelievable how many people it takes to make a movie. There’s hundreds and hundreds of you know, key group, craft services, and all of these things, right? Just really identifying all the people who have a role in your life and who of those people, who they are, and do they really matter both professionally and personally. What are your roles? What part are you playing in your own story?
A lot of people find out through this process that they’re the bystander in their own story. They’re kind of watching their life go by from the sidelines, much like a team that’s losing in a football waiting for the game to end. What I want this practice to do is to help people to get off the sidelines to get on life and figure out, “Let’s make changes. Let’s tell a great story. Let’s live a great story.” A lot of people really believe that life is an accident for them and life shouldn’t be an accident. Life should be something you do with purposes.
I think I talked about like defining what success is, establishing your why, clarifying your what, determining your how, assembling your who’s, and scheduling your when. Those are just the few things. For me, these things kind of helped because I’m all over the place and for me to have a blueprint or map, an outline, something to go back to know like “Wow, where am I going? How am I getting there? Who’s helping me get there?” Because I think one of the things that really helps you do is it helps you know who you’re going to need to help you make your story better.
When a movie gets to be a production, they bring in other people. They bring in other storyboard. There’s a great story of Walt Disney making the movie Snow White. It was the first kind of movie I like that was animated so firs animated movie and people were just like skeptical. So what Walt literally got his entire team together and he literally acted out the entire movie for everyone so everyone can see “Here’s the big picture guys,” and you know the next day, everybody went back to work and they got it. They understood the mission because the vision had been laid out. And most of us do that when we project-manage, we do that in our job but we don’t do that with our own lives. We don’t know where we’re going and we surely don’t know how to get there.
Not to say that life doesn’t throw you curveballs but things are changing and things are moving. Then you want to be moving in such a way with intention and live life with a sense of purpose in knowing how to get to that goal and knowing what that end of the movie. Because we’ve all been in the movies and been like “Man, that ending was the worst.” My mom is the best of that like if she gets to a movie, she’ll start yelling at the screen or yelling at the TV at the end that’s like “I’ve been sitting here for two and a half hours and they died. That’s what you did to me.”
We should want to take a great deal of control over the things and we can’t control everything that happens with our story. We can’t control the things that just happen that are part of that, but we sure can control how we plan or how we prepare and how we live with a great deal of intention with our own life. And that’s why I think storyboarding your life is a really powerful tool. I planted the seeds for people in the book and I’m excited to begin to even take that process.
I think I’ve done it with about three hundred or four hundred people and kind of gone through that process. So now it’s time to really take that to another level and make it with people who do that online and really just understand the process of knowing what where they’re going and what their stories going to be about and who’s involved. I think people, like you, who are available as a coach, you know, having a director and having someone that’s helping you guide the process who’s invaluable.
A lot of us think that we don’t need a coach or we don’t need a director. Man, the more people I coach the more I realized that man, it’s just a help to have people who can help us navigate. You know, we’re kind of sailing through life without a GPS and having people…and even if it’s just a couple of steps down the road, at least they know, at least they’ve kind of seen where we’re going and know at least what’s the weather going to be like when we get there and kind of prepare us and help just be ready for what’s coming. And help us really make sure we intentionally get where we’re going.
We talked about the “road less travelled” where a lot of us tried to take that path, right? It’s really easy to get lost in the road less travelled. There’s no other way that I would choose to go but I definitely know that I’m going need a guide; I’m going to need some help on that journey. I’m going to need a community, I’m going to a need a tribe. And so yeah, I think knowing your story, knowing where you’re headed in life, and knowing who’s going to help you get there is really what separates success or failure for a lot of people.
Andrea: Terry, I know that sometimes people feel like their dreams are not worth investing in or they aren’t worth the time and energy and even sometimes money that it takes to be able to move forward and to make their elephant really fly, what would you say to that person?
Weaver Terry: What’s the alternative? I think a lot of us when we think about chasing ideas and dreams, fear as kind of bars of the prison that keep us back. You know, I was like the exercise of like “OK, I get you, it’s scary.” What’s the worst possible thing that’s going to happen if you make this move and make this jump? OK, you’re going to quit your job, great. So you’re going to quit your job and you’re never going to be able to get another one? Is that what you’re thinking that’s going to happen, because that’s not what happens? That’s now how life works.
People quit their jobs all the time realizing this isn’t for them and they go back to do something else. And I’m not saying that everyone needs to go and quit their job to be entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur, I know that it’s not for everyone. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you may not have something that you do on the side, you know as Chris Guillebeau’s of the Side Hustle. You know, that’s a healthy thing.
I know a lot of your audience as mommas working from home. You’ve already got a fulltime kick raising children and then you’re also probably raising your husband. So you know, man, I just keep always going back to the idea you know, “Sure, chasing your dreams is going to be expensive, right? But what’s the cost if you don’t.” I thought that cost is much higher. You may not necessarily be financial, but it’s definitely emotional.
Terry Weaver: Let’s just pick someone in history, imagine if Michael Jordan had said, “Duh, getting up every day and shooting free throws is too work, I’m gonna to quit.” Imagine if Einstein would have stopped the light bulb number 2,998. Imagine if Steve Jobs would have said “Yeah, it’s sounds like a good idea, _____ everyone wants to make it, but I still wanna do with telecom companies.” Imagine if Walt Disney had after he went bankrupt said “Nah, I’m not gonna get on a train and go to Hollywood with $40 twinning.”
I think we could do the entire podcast or read stats like this about everyone that you probably think is cool and they all have them across every field. It’s just story after story, after story, after story that you could say that the people that…imagine if they had to quit too soon. Don’t be reckless that you’ll put yourself on a bankruptcy over it, but there’s going to be some risk and there’s going to be some inconvenience. I’m not challenging people to do something that I haven’t done either. I realized that if you’re looking for an eight-hour work day, this is not the pathway here.
I’m coming off of season of a lot of 18-hour work days. You can probably hear it in my voice but that’s the season that I’m in, right? To make big things happen, big sacrifices required. We’ve been talking with my mastermind group about someone asked me what my business plan was. I kind of giggled with that you know because the idea of a business plan, most of the time you’re just try a business plan when you want someone to give you money. It’s people who make up numbers and like “Yeah, we’re gonna be doing $4 million in 18 months.” For me, I realized that the way that I do business was more tied to my core values than anything.
I write down that my business plan was to be someone that was empathetic, someone that value others. If you don’t think that business plan works, go to a fast food restaurant and take an order with someone who doesn’t care. We’ve all had that experience, or we’ve gone to some place like Chick-fil-A with their they’re trained to believe in excellence and to believe in customers’ care, and they care. They’re like “Hey, my pleasure. Thank you for coming in today,” and you know, the other thing is about generosity.
You know, on the flipside of generosity is also being selfish. Being generous with yourself, taking care of yourself, self-care saying “You know what, I’m gonna go with that massage.” “I’m gonna take this day off. I’m gonna take this trip,” because rest is part of the process. The third thing was integrity, and I think integrity is the key differentiator of success and failure that your yes is yes and your no is no.
We all have banks and investments that we make at other people and when you say yes and you actually don’t follow through, you’re making huge deductions out of your relationships. I think this integrity comes back to yourself, right? I love what Jon Acuff says, I went to his book launch. He said goals are promises that you make to yourself and so the integrity of reaching your goals. And even if you don’t reach someone you said you would but that you still follow through it. I wanted to have this book of like three years ago, but things happened. The timing is right now and the opportunity is right, and so I’m finally following through on that goal and I haven’t given up, and believe me I’d quit a lot. I normally quit a couple nights a week, you know, I’m just like “Done. I’m over.”
When you get back up the next day and you’re like “Alright, I’m back at it.” I also said imagination was a key part of my business plan that I want to be someone that’s, you know, if you noticed that I talked about Walt Disney a lot because it greatly inspires me to dream bigger and to have an imagination. Or I think, you know, we live in a world with big problems and I want the people that are going to be great leaders of our generation are going to be the ones of the best in imagination. We have a lot of problems that require a lot of creativity to solve.
And the last one is this and I think this is the one that is a real differentiator, and it’s really the generosity and empathy and that’s this to always be the one that brings the most value, to add the most value to every relationship, to every meeting, to every opportunity to come upon, to be the person that’s just adding values to other people. We live in a world where everything feels like it has to be transactional, right? Everything feels like “You’re a coach. I’m a coach. We get paid to talk to people all the time and sometimes you have to do things just because you’re generous and you want to add value. And once you do that, once you are generous, I believe that success and the financial rewards begin to come.
This guy reached out on LinkedIn and said “Hey man…” he mentioned the list of all three of my podcasts. I was like “OK, I’ll give you some time.” He was like “Do you have just a few minutes so I could pick your brain?’ And I don’t know, I always say yes to that. Most of the times I’ll just kind of send you to my coaching page and say, “Hey man, we can schedule some time here.”
But I was just being generous; I wanted to help him out and really would know a gender, right? I kind of, most of the time, give everything in return, I was just like “I’ll talk to this guy and give him 30 to 45 minutes.” It turned out to be like an hour and I really wasn’t expecting anything then he started asking me about my coaching program. He started asking me about the conference I produced. So by the end of the conversation, I’ll make way more than I can ever imagined just because I was generous, just because I added value to him. He’s probably going to attend my conferences of VIP and sign up for a coaching program next year when he has the budget to do it. That wouldn’t have happened if I wouldn’t have showed up. I think 90% of success is just showing up.
Andrea: You know, the last time that you were in the podcast, I actually got quite of a feedback, really positive feedback in how people were so inspired by the things that you were saying. I think the book and everything that you’re saying, it’s really not just about like you said before, it’s not just about entrepreneurship, but we’re talking about just taking a step towards something. I mean, going for it and being vulnerable in your relationships or maybe realizing that your job is not what you want it to be and maybe there is something out there for you. Why not go find it?
You know, letting go of toxic relationships or trying something new, some new exercise plan or diet or something, people don’t want to change. They get kind of set in their ways but what your inspiring I think is just an openness of mind like you said and your ability to imagine of what if life was something different. I love that this message reaches so many different kinds of people in so many different levels.
Terry Weaver: And I’ve learned to listen. Oprah has come up before we got in the call; I was watching a video that she was in it. Trust me; I’m by no means like a member of the Oprah Winfrey fan club, although one day I hope she gets a free car because that would be cool. But I do study her a lot as a leader. She’s probably one of the people in our generation that’s effectively led more people than anyone there alive. There was a season there that every woman in America at 4 o’clock, or whatever time she came on, was watching her. And if a product was announced on her show, a lot of people give the success of the iPad to Steve Jobs, but it was one of her favorite things that year and it blew up.
I’ll just read you this from a book, it reads with no quote, we get to choose what voices we listen to and once that we surround ourselves would change everything great leaders understand. And that Oprah Winfrey said, one of the best news is to surround myself with friends instead f asking why are quick to say why not and that attitude is contagious. She understood and that needed to surround herself with the right people. Most people who get stuck in this cycle that can’t get off, can’t make moves, or can’t go forward, the people that they’re surrounding themselves are responsible for the main captive, because they’re surrounded by a bunch of people who doubt everything, who question everything, or people who are OK with saying what if later in life.
But when you make the shift and you start surrounding yourself with people just giving you the permission of at least encouraging the conversation when you say “why,” they say “but why not?” It’s just such a paradigm shift when you move your life to the place where you allow yourself to be surrounded by people who are pushing you forward rather than holding you back.
Almost everyone who has had great success was surrounded by an amazing team of people both that are kind of in a frontline, behind the scenes, and people that you never see or hear about that are just there pushing you forward. That could be a spouse; that could be a mastermind group, that could be a mentor, and that could be a coach. In an ideal world that’s all of those things, working together in synergy encouraging you, pushing you forward, and not allowing you to quit when you quit everyday but saying “Hey, you can do this. You can make it.”
You know, I do thank you so much that I have heard from a lot of your listeners and love knowing that I’m inspired them.
But I would be a failure if I just inspired you today. I want to inspire you to do something. I want to inspire you to act. There’s a lot of inspiring people in the world. I want to be someone that’s inspiring people to act, inspiring people to do. And I hope that if you read Making Elephants Fly that you’re inspired, but I hope that you’re uncomfortable enough that you’re going to do something about what you’re inspired to do. Because there are a lot of people walking around in this planet with big dreams, but a lot of them are going to go to the grave with them.
They say that the biggest collection of dreams is sitting on the top of your casket as you’re buried. Man, I don’t want to live this life with anything undone. I want live it out on the field. I want to live this life. I want to do the things that I’m here to do. I want to make an impact. I don’t want to be that guy that dies with a bucket list of things that you wanted to do but never did. I want to get out there and live and do.
In my world that’s entrepreneurship, it’s chasing dreams, but it’s also taking both of our moms to Hawaii over Thanksgiving instead of cooking a dinner that costs $500 that makes us fat. We’re going to go in the beach in Hawaii instead and so it’s doing those things. I’m sure the timing of that is horrible for me right now, but if we wait for the right time for everything, we’ll never actually do anything. I don’t want to be the person that just talks about doing things; I want to be the guy that’s known for doing things.
I may fail miserably and embarrass myself, but man, when I get to end of my life, I want to be able to say, “You know what, at least I tried, at least I got up to the plate, I stood there and I kept swaying. I hit some balls, I miss some balls, I threw the bat and hit the bat boys, I struck out a couple of times but I stood there and I left it all in the field and I did what I’ve been put here to do.
Andrea: Yeah, yeah! I’ve got one more question for you for before we wrap up, is that OK?
Terry Weaver: Yeah, yeah, I’m good.
Andrea: You mentioned that you have ADD or that you might have ADD, and we talked about students and being in school earlier and I want you to speak to somebody right now. If somebody is struggling, maybe they’re students or maybe they’re in a job, and it’s not just going very well. They’re not very good at it maybe and other people around them are better and even their friends. Even the things that they’re really good at, the things that they are good at, their boss or their teacher, it’s like an inconvenience you know. It’s causing problems instead of being something of way that they can share who they are and use their gifts they’re not able to use. Those are squashed they’re just feeling down in the dumps. What is that look like for them to make an elephant fly?
Terry Weaver: Well, I think we live in a culture now more than ever where personal responsibility has gone out of the window. It’s really easy to blame everyone your circumstances, your peers, your boss, your teacher, or your environment. But personal responsibility says “You know what, this is my thing. I’m gonna do this. I’m utterly responsible for what I do with my life. I’m not going to worry about what anybody else’s things.”
If you go back to Dumbo, that story; Dumbo was very much that kid, right? You know, Dumbo was laughed at. The elephants didn’t want him. That’s the reason why I wrote this book because I was that kid, right? The elephants didn’t want Dumbo. The clowns didn’t want Dumbo. Nobody thought Dumbo could do anything. And staring at Dumbo with its giants ears which everyone would say was this “massively-ness” and Dumbo was able to take what everyone thought was his greatest weakness. It actually turned out to be his greatest strength because no one could see it except for one person and that was Timothy Q. Mouse.
I would actually like to speak to the people that have those people in their lives, be Timothy Mouse. Be the person that finds the good in someone and helps them believe in themselves because if you look, everyone had that person. I had that teacher. Luckily for me, my third grade teacher changed my life. She made me think, dream, imagine, and do things that I never thought I could do. Be that person. Be that Timothy Mouse. Be the person that everyone else that is holding them back and help them find a way to breakthrough.
If you don’t have someone that does that, you’re just going to have to find that belief in yourself. I had some great teachers growing up and I had some horrible teachers. Well let’s call him Mr. E for short, in case he listens to this podcast, but he was a horrible man. And I remember him pulling me out at a seventh grade one day at my Christian school, that’s the whole other subject and just telling me that my life was never going to amount anything. And I was just like “Wow dude, I’m gonna so prove you wrong.”
And sometimes you just have to be the one that proves everyone else’s wrong. Sometimes, you have to make your mess your motivation. You have to make that struggle and that pain… I mean, Dumbo can easily sat around and just cry about his problems. When you see a scene of the movie where he’s literally sitting there, it’s the saddest part of the movie where he was sitting there. His mom was in the car locked up and you heard the song Baby Mine. That’s why a lot of people don’t like Dumbo because you’re sitting there on your couch trying to watch this happy movie about an elephant and weeping your eyes out. It was a low point for Dumbo but he used that up to breakthrough, to find out what he could do to make him soar.
It was Timothy Mouse that gave him a feather that allowed him the strength to believe in himself and to actually find…that feather wasn’t magical but it was that nudge from someone else that pushed him over the edge, that led him into his destiny, that led him into doing what he was put here to do and that was to soar. We’re all supposed to be the elephant that can fly. We all have weaknesses. We all have things that maybe we’ve been told that’s going to keep us in doing what we want to do. We have this weakness or the shortcoming, it’s our size, it’s our lack of size, it’s our whatever, whatever your blank is that you’re facing.
Sure, I’ve got ADD. If you listen to me talk, I still have that. But you know what; we live in a world that really is kind of giving an extra dose of ADD because the idea of just doing one thing is kind of a thing in the past. Jeff Goins says on his podcast the Portfolio Life, “We’re building portfolio of things that we did.” When I told my wife I was having this book, she was like “You spend plates incredibly well.”
So I talked about a little bit about spinning plates in the book, you know but you got to learn how to take those things that really aren’t weaknesses. You just been told they are and I firmly believe that you should focus on your strengths but sometimes the things that we believe are weaknesses, like Dumbo’s ears, turned out to not be.
I think in closing this thought and this last question you wanted to ask, you know, this goes back to that storyboarding your life idea that we can either choose to let people define us or we can choose to be the one that gets to define and gets to set the rules moving forward. McNair Wilson, a Disney imagineer read the book and he was like “Dude, I can’t believe that you told some of those stories that you told about your childhood going through. I never heard you told those. Those are dark places that you had to go.”
I was like “Yeah, and I wanted to go there because I wanted to let people know that even through the pain that I went through, that even through some of that hurt that I can either sit here and look at those things and learn and make that a motivation to help other people or I can let that be that holds me back. I can let that be the chain on the elephant’s leg that keeps me in captivity.
What other people thought was going to be a weakness for me, actually it’s a strength. I’m going to own it. I’m going to do it. I’m going to accomplish it. I’m not going to let anyone else stop me because that’s what great about the elephant. If you’re going to herd elephants together, if you’re going to group people that believe in something, you’re not going to ever stop a herd of elephants, they’re unstoppable. So find some other people to fly with you and you will not be stopped.
Andrea: Yes, love it! Thank you, Terry. OK, I want to make sure that we cover The Thing 2018, would you tell us a little bit about that and where we can find information about that and you book?
Terry Weaver: So you can always find always find everything about me at terryweaver.com, you can find everything there. I hosted of it for people who were chasing “their thing” and people who have “a thing” and everyone has “a thing,” right? And so we want this to be the place for people who had a thing to think how to do it better and how to refine their message and get inspired. Probably, by the time that this gets posted, registration will be open for The Thing. It’s thething.live, you can go there and we’ll have registration information there for you to register and for you to sign up for our 2018 event. We’ll be announcing the day. It’s very, very soon!
If you want to get a copy of Making Elephants Fly, you can just go to makingelephantsfly.com. You can get your copy there, depending on when the show gets put up. You may even able to get some of the presell benefits and all the tips. Actually, we leave them up until I know the shows but that’s for a week or so.
Andrea: November 6th.
Terry Weaver: Yeah, so we’ll leave it up for a few extra days so you guys can get some of the perks. I’ve credited a few some extra things. I’ve got the storyboarding your life stuff coming. Just be sure that you can obviously hear my podcast, Making Elephants Fly. That’s all in my website. Be sure it’s set up on my email list. That’s just a great way to keep track of what’s going on. I really do appreciate. I love hearing from you guys. I love knowing that you’re going to be inspired. I want to know what you’re working on and I want to see you actually not just dream it, but actually do it.
Andrea: Hmmm love it! Thank you so much Terry for your time and good luck with this book launch. I’m so excited for you!
Terry Weaver: Yeah, it’s an adventure.
Amy is an online marketing expert and educator and the host of the top-ranked podcast, Online Marketing Made Easy. Amy has worked with mega brands like Harley-Davidson Motorcycles and Peak Performance Coach, Tony Robbins, where she oversaw the content development team and collaborated on ground-breaking online marketing campaigns. Through her bestselling marketing courses, thriving social media community and popular podcast, Amy inspires a grounded, tangible and self-affirming sense of “Wow! I really can do this” for over 250,000 online entrepreneurs. She proves that by moving away from “step-by-step” and into “action-by-action”, even the newest online entrepreneurs can bypass overwhelm and self-doubt, and instead generate exciting momentum as they move closer to building a life and business they love.
You can find Amy and her offerings at www.amyporterfield.com.
Sign up for the Nail Your Elevator Pitch Challenge (or the wait list) here:
Andrea: Welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast, Amy Porterfield!
Amy Porterfield: Well, thank you so much for having me. I’m delighted to be here!
Andrea: Well, it is definitely an honor. I definitely consider you to be one of my biggest online mentors for this business building, message sharing process, and I am so grateful to you for all the things that you’ve taught me. So it’s great to have you.
Amy Porterfield: Well, it’s always nice and I truly mean this to have a student that dives in and does the work and it’s so obvious that you do that. You’re a little go-getter so I wish I had a million of you inside of my courses, so thanks for having me again.
Andrea: Well, we’ve already introduced what you have done in the past a little bit. Why don’t you give us a snap shot of what you’re doing today.
Amy Porterfield: Oh yeah, I’d love to. So in my business today, what I do is I create online training courses, digital courses. And specifically for my business, they are around this building and course creation and webinars. So I put together the courses and then I do online launches or evergreen launches, which means I prerecord all of the promotional pieces and I run Facebook ads to the prerecorded content to sell my courses. So I do evergreen and live launches and that primarily is the only way I make money in my business.
I don’t do small group coaching or consulting or any kind of service-based business. And the only other thing in my business that is a big piece is I will promote a few of my partners program so like B-School is one of those. You’re familiar with that so I’ll promote B-School because I went to the program. I’m a huge fan. I had a lot of success with it, so I’ll promote that to my audience. But the bulk of my revenue comes from digital courses.
Andrea: I’m really wondering, when you first started, when you got going with your own business, were you thinking about it in terms of personal brand business or was it just something that kind of happened as you got going?
Amy Porterfield: It really was something that happened as I got going, but at the time back then, I don’t think I was savvy enough to know “Am I going to do a personal brand business, or am I going to do more of a general brand that I’m not the face of the business?” I think at the time when I was just leaving corporate, I thought “Well, I wanna teach and so I’m just a one-woman show at this point so I guess I’m gonna be the face of this.” And it really was more into that but it wasn’t an incredibly thoughtful decision because you don’t know what you don’t know. So I was very new to all of this just starting out.
Andrea: I know that you’ve mentioned before that you’re an introvert, so was that a difficult thing for you to do, to put you as the face of your brand or was that something that you could kind of accept by the time you got to that point?
Amy Porterfield: You know it was difficult. So coming out of corporate, I think I have to mention, I work for Peak Performance Coach Tony Robbins, which meant that he was this literally this huge guy. But more so he has this huge presence. He still does today. So he was, obviously the face of the business, he was front center onstage literally. I used to travel to the events and support the content he would do onstage.
So that was my model and I never wanted to be that front and center. I was very comfortable behind the curtain, behind the computer screen and I felt pretty good there. And then I realized, if I wanted to create this business, you know, social media was a big part of it. I had to put face out there; even putting my picture on social media was a big deal to me. I just had never had never had to do that before working in corporate.
So I started my own Facebook page and my own Twitter page outside of corporate and I’m thinking “Oh my God, people are gonna think I’m crazy.” What am I doing? I’ve never not been attached to somebody else being my boss.” So there was a lot of trepidation there. I was worried about what my past coworkers would think or my friends. I was worried about someone saying “Who are you to be doing that?”
So there was a lot of that worry that as an introvert, there was a lot of “Wait a second, I have to put a video out of myself?” I hated that thought. I still struggle with video all these years later. So I think we all just kind of have our challenges and that’s one for me. But a million percent, it was very difficult being an introvert and having to be so front center with the personal brand. I wanted it so bad that I moved past the fear but the fear never went away. I just kind of said “Hi, I see you there,” and I just kept going.
Andrea: So you said you wanted it so bad. What was it that you were wanting? What was the motivating factor?
Amy Porterfield: I wanted to be my own boss more than anything. So I was so tired of my hours, my efforts, my decisions, my creativity being dictated by somebody else. Now, I have an amazing job with Tony Robbins. So it’s not too bad having your time dictated by this amazing man who had so much great content that I got to play around in as the content director. So I got to work with some great, great content and with some great people.
However, there’s still came a time that I thought “I wanna do this on my own and I don’t want to answer to anybody else.” And it felt like there’s like rebel soul came up inside me that said like “It is your time.” Now, when that rebel soul started to talking like “It’s your time,” and I’m thinking “What are you talking about. I’ve never ever done anything out on my own.” It took me a good year to take the leap and actually go for it and ease into it, but I’m so glad I listen to it even though it means no sense at the time.
Andrea: So you had that drive to move forward. Is that something that you’ve always had? I mean, you landed a job with Tony Robbins of all people. What draw you to seek that? Have you always had that kind of aspirational goals for yourself?
Amy Porterfield: Great question. So no, is the short answer. But a little bit of the longer answer is I never ever thought about being an entrepreneur. It was never even in my mind. I like structure. I like following the rules and for a long time, I like answering to somebody because a little bit of a show up in the sense that I like to do a good job and say “Look, what I’ve done.” And I like those words of affirmation.
So when you’re in corporate and everyone’s like “Look at her, she’s doing a great job.” I really enjoy that so I never had that sense of, “I wanna be an entrepreneur when I grow up.” Or “I wanna create a business or do this or do that.” Never at all, and so what’s interesting is that that was never part of the plan. However, I’ve always been a leader, just ever since a little girl. I mean as a little girl, I think they call me bossy.
But from there as I grew up, I was always in a leadership in student government. I was captain of the cheerleading squad. I like to call the shots in that respect and so looking back, I know how I got here with that type of drive. I always wanted to be the best. I always got good grades. I always wanted to be the leader. And so some of that definitely has played a part of “I wanted to run my own business” but I didn’t know it until way into being in a corporate for a long time and in my early 30’s actually.
Andrea: Yeah. I can really relate to that because for me, when I decided to take B-School because I was writing a book and I just wanted to know how to market it. And so it occurred to me while I was in B-School, “Oh if I wanted to do something with this, maybe I need to do something more with this,” and so just the idea of having my own business really came then. And as we got going through the process, you in particular because I’ve really dove into all the things that you had to offer through that experience, it was this dawning revelation that “Oh my goodness, this is what I made for.”
Amy Porterfield: And isn’t that interesting that just comes to you like all of a sudden if you really listen to your inner gut saying like “This is what it supposed to be about,” and you listen, it’s very truth-telling in a way that I just never knew until I got a little bit quiet and trusted my gut in that respect. But I got to say this really quickly speaking of B-School, you and I kind of getting to know each other even more and sharing insights and thoughts, is because I did this contest with B-School. And I asked people “Hey, if you got a great idea for a bonus.” So just put in together a big promotional launch and I wanted to do a great bonus.
So I went to my B-Schoolers and said “Does anyone have a great idea for a bonus that you think would be valuable?” And we got so many responses like probably 50 or 60 people with great ideas. But I chose yours and it was all around the profit plan reality check, diving into your profit, how you’re making money, what are your expenses look like, how are you evaluating this, and how are you planning for this. That idea would have never came about if it weren’t for your amazing bonus idea, which I know that whole area is actually a big strength of yours, right?
Andrea: Yeah. Through that process of being in your group and having interactions with other people, I really noticed that the questions that I was drawn to answer had to do with who people are and how that can translate into a business for people. And I’ve just so drawn to those conversations and then as I would hear people talk that have these great aspirations and noble ideas even a noble message. But I could tell that it wasn’t going to go anywhere if they didn’t really figure out how they’re going to monetize it and all these things that I had never thought before, honestly like it was just crazy. When you made that contest offer, I looked at my husband because he was with me. I looked at my husband; I’m like “Oh my goodness. This is so me. I’m gonna nail this.” And I worked my tail off.
Amy Porterfield: You nailed it! This might be a little bit off topic but I feel but I feel like this is so important for people that are building their brands, they need to hear this. And that is so many times in my business, I’ve had whims along the way because I’ve gone the extra mile. So for instance I was speaking on Michael Hyatt’s stage. I hired a speaking coach. We put the whole presentation together over a series of months. I got on stage and I killed it more so than I ever would if I didn’t spend the time and that created this beautiful relationship with me and Michael.
In your situation, a lot of people submitted bonus ideas with a few different sentences and maybe a little paragraphs, oh not you. You definitely spelled out the entire thing. You showed me where I could show up and give a little tough love because you knew my personality and you know how I like to do things. You gave me examples. You gave me stories and you made me a video to go along with it. And so there’s something that you said about people that would go the extra mile because now you and I have this great friendship. We know each other. We talked to each other about our businesses, like it go so much further when I feel like people are making that effort and I think that’s overlooked.
Andrea: Yeah and I think it’s also really cool when you can be something that just arises out of you, you know. Like you said, it just turned into something that’s really natural and you never know where it might go.
Amy Porterfield: So true, so very true.
Andrea: OK, so now I’ve got to ask you this because this is something I have a little bit of an issue with. I’ve always kind of struggled with a little bit and that’s just my voice as a woman and especially as a woman leader. So as you started in this online business space or actually, I don’t really care what you want to talk about, I’m curious. What is it like for you to be a woman leader and to find your voice both in your corporate experience maybe and then how it’s really come to the point right now where I see you and you’re just on such a different level at this point, right? You know your stuff. You know your voice. You’re really comfortable even though you still feel fear at times; you seem to just conquer it because you’re not going to let it get in your way and that sort of thing. So I’m curious, tell me about the development of that voice for you particularly as a woman?
Amy Porterfield: That’s another good question, I love this. So it has definitely evolved. If I go back into how I was raised. I was raised by a really strict father who always had the last word and actually had the only word. You never ever talk back or show a lot of emotion. I love my dad dearly but that is truly how I was raised. And so coming from that and then getting into the business world where in my industry, you know, there’s a lot of man. There are a very few women doing this kind of thing and so I definitely was more quiet in the beginning. And I had a sense that the men that were doing that before me, they were all knowing. And I didn’t really have an opinion because I was scared to have a voice. I was very new and very few women. So there was a lot more fear in the beginning and I was a lot quieter.
However, because I can draw from wanting to always be a leader, I had this self confidence that was hidden deep down, and I recently listened to a podcast episode of Brooke Castillo. She had a podcast I love and I was listening to it and she was talking about self-confidence. And she was saying that self-confidence comes before you actually do anything. So confidence comes from knowing that no matter what’s going to happen, no matter what emotion comes up or feeling comes up that you know that you can tackle it and that you can move beyond it.
And looking back, I did have that self-confidence that I thought “Well, no matter what happens, I know I’m strong enough to move past this.” So I just started speaking up a little more and little more. What the difference then what I did then and what some of the men were doing is I got into the content. I found my sweet spot. So I would teach step-by-step where a lot of the men in my industry kind of just give me over it and talking about the big picture, the big fat numbers, and how much money they were making in. All the really good sexy stuff but no one was slowing down enough to say, “Okay, here’s exactly how you do it.”
So I found my little sweet spot and I found more confidence in that and my voice got louder and louder. And I never was mousy about speaking up as I grew in my business. So I think it was a total evolution and I will say, it is intimidating when most of the big shot influencers, especially when I was starting out, were men. That did make me very nervous but I was able to just kind step-by-step, I love baby steps, I found my voice over the years.
Andrea: Yes and there’s no question about it. I purchased other online courses about different things and yours always standout as being so much more in depth and clear and easy to follow. It’s just so much easier to get to the end result that you’re promising than anything else that I’ve really participated in. OK, so I know that you were in Mastermind or maybe it wasn’t Mastermind, it was with Marie Forleo for a while…
Amy Porterfield: Yeah.
Andrea: Yeah, it was the Mastermind?
Amy Porterfield: Yeah that’s what we call it.
Andrea: Were all those people in there women and what was helpful to be around other women at that time?
Amy Porterfield: Yes. So for two years, I was in this live, I called it live because we would meet in person four times a year Mastermind like you said with Marie Forleo. It was called Rich, Happy, and Hot. OK, the name pretty much fails me because at that time I wasn’t rich. I wasn’t happy, I was just leaving corporate. And hot, well, I didn’t look at the mirror and sees that so that was a little bit tough. But I did it anyway and for two years, we would, like I said, meet in person and they were women from all different industries and all different levels of business.
Some didn’t even have a business yet. Some had been in it for five to ten years and then I was just starting out as well. So it was really good for me to see other women doing what I was doing further along than me or a little bit behind me and also I learned from Tony Robbins that you’ve got to surround yourself with people doing bigger and better things than you so you can strive and move forward and there was that element. I love that. Marie had done so much of what I wanted to do in my business.
So it was so important that I was around these really powerful women that were driving things forward. So that made a huge impact in my life but also at that same time, we would do hot seats and Marie typically was the leader because it was her Mastermind. So I get in the hot seat and every time I have to admit it, it was the early years I’d played small. And I’d say something like “Well, I wanna do a launch but not a big launch. I’m wanna do a video or I’m not gonna put myself out there like that. I’ll just gonna send a few emails.” And then this woman, Marie, who had gone before me and who had done amazing things said “There you are, you’re going to show up in a really big way.”
And I think surrounding ourselves with other women who have gone before us and will challenge us and will call us on our BS and say, “That ain’t gonna happen.” That was a pivotal moment for me when she said “Don’t play small and if you’re planning to play small, please get out, you’re wasting our time.” She didn’t say it like that but I’m sensitive so that’s what I heard. So I think we need to surround ourselves with people that would be honest with us and it’s hard to find that group but it’s worth looking for.
Andrea: Hmmm yes! OK so I love how you target both the very practical things that practical needs of your students and like you said, step-by-step and here’s how you do it, and you lay it out. But at the same time, you also had such empathy for your students and really care and you bring that heart. I’ve only been around for a couple of years now with you, so I’m curious about beforehand, have you always addressed the heart of people when you’re also talking about their step-by-step process? Is that something that you’ve always done?
Amy Porterfield: I’m so glad you asked this because it’s something that I felt called to do more so than ever. And what I noticed in at online marketing space especially among women, but there are some gentlemen that are doing it as well is that they are authentically becoming more transparent. Like we heard the word authenticity, transparency, and genuine; we hear it all the time. But there are some people out there that are really showing up in that space talking about their struggles, their stories, their triumphs in a way that there’s real truth behind them, like “Look, what it took to get here.”
And they’re talking about their every day struggles as well and I gravitate toward that. Over the last year, I looked at someone and I’m like “Are you kidding me?” Like I have great friend, Mary Hyatt, and she is a body-positivity acceptance kind of niche. And she appeared on Instagram in her underwear and bra and that is the cover of her online training program. There’s a bunch of women, all different shapes and sizes, there she is my dear friend in her bra and underwear looking beautiful, but she doesn’t have that typical size to a body, like she’s putting out her authentic self.
And I looked at that and I thought “I know that Mary didn’t think even a year ago, yet alone three or four years ago that she be on Instagram in her bra and underwear. And in that moment, I thought “You never know where honesty and the real stuff will take you.” And so I decided I wanted to me more like that. So I started to infuse more compassion in the things I was talking about, more heart, and more honesty. I know the struggle. I know what it takes to get there. I know the fears and the lack of confidence. I’ve lived it and I haven’t talked about it enough, so let’s do that.
And just recently, it’s interesting you’re bringing this up now, one thing I never talked about is my weight. I’m embarrassed by my weight and I’ve been a lot thinner in this industry when I first started out and it’s like a topic that… it’s funny, you’ll see me. You’ll all know what I look like but I still just want to pretend like it’s not struggle that I face. And so because I wanted to change the way I talk about things, I don’t need a platform to talk about my weight in the sense that I’m not changing my business. I’m still all about list-building, course creation or webinars but I did one podcast episode and it was just me solo on my own podcast, and usually my podcast like 45 minutes. It was only 9 minutes and it’s not even out yet but it’s me saying “Here’s a challenge that I face, it’s my weight.”
And I talked about the fact that I always say I don’t love video but in my darkest and most truthful hour, I don’t like video because I don’t like looking overweight on camera, and so I just put it out there. The audio wasn’t to teach a big lesson and show my audience what to do instead; I just need to say it out loud so that there’s less shame and embarrassment around it. And then of course, I can’t help myself, I’ve got to say “And if you have something like that I want to invite you to be more open about it as well.” But just hearing myself saying it literally took some of the shame away, because let’s not be shameful about any of our insecurities or weaknesses or challenges. We’ve got to own it. So thank you for the opportunity to talk about this. I wasn’t planning on it but it kind of lend itself to exactly your question around that but I think we all have to have more heart in our marketing in a way that we feel good about sharing. We don’t have to be over the top or too mushy if we’re not that way, but there’s a way to be honest in the marketing that you do.
Andrea: Yes. Oh Amy that’s so powerful. I think that people oftentimes have a hard time finding the balance between the head and the heart. I think you mentioned this before but I definitely agree with you that you kind of have to have dealt with the heart a little bit before you start to share it real publicly. You don’t want to just throw out something out there before you’re ready or before you accomplished, you know, maybe gotten ahead on it a little bit. But for you to come out and be able to say that and bring something out of the dark and into the light and then show us that there hasn’t have to be shame around that. I mean, that is super empowering to the rest of us for sure.
Amy Porterfield: I love that and there was a fear and I talked a few friends about it, like I don’t want my strength as a marketing expert and trainer to be diminished by me being vulnerable around these topics which happens to be weight for me. And so I was nervous that this is going to make me look weak. And so I had to have some reassurance from some of my peers, which is so important to have that small circle around you that they could read what I wanted to say and say “No, that doesn’t make you look more weak, and yes, I do need to be honest about this or whatever.”
So I had to do some consulting with some peers of mine in the industry because you make a great point. I couldn’t just come out there and just vomit like “I’m struggling with my weight. I’m so unhappy. This is so horrible, goodbye!” Like that is offering no value to you or anybody else. So I did need to process it a little bit. I’m still deep in it, like I’m thinner because of it but I see what you’re saying that you got to process it a little bit and make sure that you know why you’re doing it. That was another thing.
Before I put it out there, I kept asking myself “Why I am doing this?” Part of it was selfishly, I wanted to eliminate that shame and the other part is I want audience to feel comfortable doing the same. But I got clear about that. I wasn’t doing it for likes or people to like me more in general or anything like that. But I need to be honest with myself before I did it. So yeah, I totally, I’m with you there.
Andrea: Yeah, I mean I wrote a memoir and I didn’t plan on it. I didn’t plan on sharing inner thoughts and feelings with the world. But as I got going, I realized that this is going to communicate something totally different to people in a totally different way and if I were just to outline it for them and give them the step-by-step because sometimes a step-by-step is important. But it’s not really reaching and touching the heart, it’s not as effective. It doesn’t do the transformational work that you wanted to do and so I love that you have moved more into this transparencies space, I kudos to you for having the courage to do that.
Amy Porterfield: Thank you!
Andrea: Have you noticed the difference in engagement with your students because of that?
Amy Porterfield: So it’s just happened. I didn’t put the episode out yet, however, I have noticed that when I get on video, especially with my private Facebook groups with my students, I am more at ease, just a little bit but it was very apparent. And I know that when I’m more at ease, I am more willing to share with my audience and accept and listen and all good stuff. So I can’t imagine it’s not going to make a difference.
Andrea: Yes, and I’m wondering too about just in general as you have shared more heart, has that changed the relationship with your audience?
Amy Porterfield: Yes, yes definitely. I feel that they have a sense that I’m their friend. Although, we’ve never met, when I met in person with people, more often than not, I will hear them say, I feel like you could be my bestfriend. And I know what that feels like with my people that I follow and feel really connected to and so that’s what I live for. I live for the fact that they have that connection. So 100%, they feel like that they know me. They love when I talk about with my mistakes because I’m more human to them, so yes 100%.
Andrea: We’re really dwelling on this voice stuff that I’m loving this. I have a couple more questions that I actually came from some of your students and one of those questions has to do with fear. How do you handle it now versus how you handled it maybe 10 years ago or five years ago?
Amy Porterfield: So how do I handle, say that again?
Andrea: How do you handle fear? Like if you have fear, soft out, you just now told us what you’re doing now which is more being transparent about it. How has that changed over the years?
Amy Porterfield: Before, I would let it consumed me to be quite honest so I’d be fearful. And what would happen is that it would stop me from experimenting in my business or taking big chances and so I played it really safe in the beginning. And here’s what happened, for the first two years in my business when I left corporate, I was doing social media marketing for big businesses as my own business.
So I was in the trenches working on their social media, posting for them, doing analytics all that good stuff. And I hated it and I was so fearful that I won’t be able to make money on my own that I wouldn’t have enough customers or have business model that didn’t work. I wanted to create online training program but I was so fearful because I didn’t know how to do it that I started to just take a bunch of clients for social media. So my fear led to building a business when leaving corporate for two years that I hated. I didn’t like having a bunch of clients. I didn’t like the business I created but my fear was driving my decisions I was making.
I’m not happy and this is why I left corporate, this isn’t worth it. The hours were longer. The pay wasn’t as good. There was no security in it and I didn’t like the people I was working with and so that’s finally when I said, “Okay, I see the fear. I hear the fear but I’m going to do it anyway.” And that’s when I let go all of my clients and started creating my online training programs. I’m still not sure that’s going to work out but I was just so tired of letting that fear drive me. So it stayed with me for the first two years of leaving corporate.
Andrea: Do you think that you’ve gotten more courageous as you confronted your fears?
Amy Porterfield: Oh yeah. It was like every time I would do it in spite of the fear, I would grow more as an entrepreneur, every single time. So now, I’m working on some stuff in my business and some things might not go as I had I hoped or planned and I’m fearful of that because they’re new things, new experiences. I’m very fearful in the sense I could feel the fear right now just talking about it and thinking about it. I could feel it kind of bubbly enough inside me.
And when I do, this is so very true because I was talking to my husband about this, I tell myself, no matter what happens, no matter the feelings that come up, the emotions come up, the circumstances of whatever happens, I know I can rise above up. It might not be pretty for a while. I might be in the fetal position for a little bit but I know based on my track record, I will be fine and that’s the cool thing about slowly but surely pushing past that fear. All of those little wins are evidence that you are going to be okay even if it’s a little tough for a while.
Andrea: So good. Let’s move in to talking a little bit more about strategy and tactics and this stuff that you really dive into so well on your own podcast and all of your trainings and things. I definitely want to make sure we touch on this before we’re done because this is your specialty. What do you say are the most important building blocks? If somebody is going to use their own personal brand or even if it’s not a personal brand but somehow they’re building a business around themselves, what are the things that you feel like are really important to understand or know about yourself so that you can move forward?
Amy Porterfield: One of the things that you want to understand about yourself in order to move forward, did I get the question right?
Amy Porterfield: OK so a few things that you want to get really clear about is number #1, who is your ideal avatar? Who do you want to speak to and importantly, who do you want to ultimately work with, because getting clear about who you’re marketing to kind of like one of the biggest steps that you really need to figure out. You don’t have to have it all figured out but you got to start somewhere. And so getting that done on paper and saying “This is who I want to attract,” is one of those things that you just need to know in order to start building your business.
Another thing is you got to be clear on your messaging. So who is it that you want to talk to and what do you want to talk about? What do you want to stand for? What do you believe in? What do you love to teach because you know you can get people results, whether it’d be physical results or results in their business or their mindset or whatever it might be. You’ve got have a message that leads to something that will improve their life. And then from there, I think it’s also important that you start to think about what you want to sell.
So you might have not figured this out yet. A lot of my students don’t. They’re just building their list and putting out great value to attract that avatar but eventually sooner than later, I’d like to see you put a stake in the ground and say “This is what I want to sell.” And then you can decide from there on how do you want to package it? Do you want to do live workshops, masterminds, digital courses, live events, whatever that is? First, get clear on what is it? What kind of information or physical product do you want to sell and then we can talk about how you kind of wrap it all. But these are things that are important for you to consider because they really dictate the type of business model you want to create.
Andrea: And you mentioned building an email list and I know that this is such a foundational part of what you talk about. What exactly does that mean and why is it so important?
Amy Porterfield: Yes. So I would say that the energy of your business is directly tied to the strength of your email list. And the reason you need email list, which are just people signing up let’s say for your newsletter or for a really great freebie or checklist then get on your email list and then you start nurturing that relationship by communicating with them let’s say on a weekly basis. The reason why that email list is such a huge asset in your business is that you basically own it and you get to control it. Facebook changes tomorrow and algorithm changes and none of your stuff is getting seen.
Instagram is constantly changing right now because they’re growing so rapidly. They could change something and it totally takes away from the strategies you had in place. You never know. Never build your business on top of social media. I see social media as icing on the cake. But my foundation is what I sell and who I’m selling to, and who I’m selling to is my email lists. So I would never have a success of building a multimillion dollar business without my email list. That is cool response to my promotions the most.
They might see in on social media but with an email come and says “Here’s the link to buy now.” It’s way more powerful in email than it will ever be on social media, so you really do want make it a priority to focus on this building.
Andrea: Yes. When you do build your email list, you kind of guide people through a process from there. You don’t just send an email every once a while and throw something at every once in a while. You have a meticulous plan that guides people through process, to the point where they know whether or not they want to buy something from you. And that’s been really inspiring for me because I hate the idea of selling. I absolutely hate it and I think a lot of people do. But at the same time, when you look at it, you know when you’re offering something to somebody that could help them and it definitely changes things. Do you have any suggestions for us if we are looking at selling? Whys is it the people are so happy to buy from you?
Amy Porterfield: Hmmm, why are they so happy to buy from me? OK, so here’s a few things. I am very intentional with my marketing in general but also with my promotions, and so I think that people are willing to buy because I am not pushing the product or whatever it is I have in front of them in a way that they feel like “Oh my gosh, this feels aggressive,” because I don’t like that kind of marketing either. So what I mean by that is I ease into my marketing just like I ease in everything else I do in my life. So that means that I might start out with a really great blog post with a great freebie kind of get in their feet wet around the topic that I want to sell.
And then from there, I’m inviting them to a webinar and on the webinar, I give, give, give before I ask anything in return. And I think it’s important to remember. I have this motto when I do a webinar because on all my webinar I sell but on my webinar, I had this motto that says no matter if they buy or not, they walk away today feeling excited, inspired, and driven to take action no matter if they buy or not.
And so if I’m coming from a place of total service knowing that not everyone’s going to buy but I want them to walk away feeling really, really good about what they just learned that come across as trust and affinity with my audience. So I really do believe that it’s a mindset kind of thing. Give more than you take. And I always say I’ve got to earn the opportunity to ask for somebody to buy something and the important thing is giving great impeccable free content again and again and again just like you’re doing on this podcast. You give, give, give and when it’s time for you to say “I’ve got something incredible for you to check out, your audience is listening.
Andrea: Is that something that you kind of did naturally or did you figure that model out on your own? Or is it something that gleaned from other people along the way?
Amy Porterfield: I want. I definitely, you know, I would come back to Tony Robbins because he taught me so much about being an entrepreneur. But he also taught me that you want to model the best of the best, not copy them but model what they’re doing. There’s no need to reinvent the wheels especially in the market I’m in. It’s oversaturated anyway. People are doing a lot of stuff here.
And so because of that, I would watch Michael Hyatt, Marie Foleo, and some others in the industry that I knew were doing great things and I love their style and never felt like they were too pushy and so I studied. I made a big study of what are they doing. How are they saying it. When are they saying it. So I became a student of the type of marketing that felt good to me and I modeled it then I kind of made up my own.
Andrea: Yeah that’s some really good advice. You also seem to really get focused on not offering too many different things like I think you mentioned before to just have three offerings. Don’t have these whole smorgasbords of things you could pick from and maybe it’s not just three but you get really focused. Why is focus so important when it comes to your strategy for your product offering?
Amy Porterfield: You know a lot of people are chasing the next shiny thing and it’s so easy to say “You wanna do this, you wanna do that.” I have a good girlfriend that I watch her, and she’s not making the kind of money she wants to make and she has an audience. She has an email list and she is constantly changing directions, “I wanna do this. I wanna do that. What about this? I wanna create this.” And nothing gets completed and so I understand why that happens. I truly do, but I feel like the secret to success here is that you commit to something and you get to the finish line.
There are five things right now that I would love to be working on my business. But I’m not even entertaining the idea until I reach my commitment of finishing this program that I’m redoing. I’m literally down to like three videos but I can’t move on because I give myself my word and my team my word. And so quite honestly, my students are waiting for it. I’ve talked about it too much. That’s another thing. If you really want to hold yourself accountable and get really focused, tell your audience what you’re doing. And if you’re a person of integrity which I’m assuming you are, you’re not going to be away from that.
These things that I’m doing, I’m redoing a program, I told my audience “Who’s going to be out there?” And quite honestly, I said I’m going to be out there a little sooner than I was able to do. So now, I’m really committed to get it done because I actually miss the small deadline. So share with your audience, it will keep you more accountable. But I do feel that it’s just one thing at a time get to completion and that’s where confidence comes in as well and then when completed that “Alright, here I go.” There’s major momentum in that.
Andrea: Yes, yes. That’s something I definitely took away from you. OK this has been amazing. If you could just say one thing to the person that’s listening, and some of the people listening might already thinking about doing something. They might be doing something on their own. They might have their business or thinking about doing a business. There might be also some people in the audience who actually have some really amazing expertise in their job but maybe they toyed with this idea of doing something different. What would you have to say to them about what it’s like or why you would encourage them to explore the idea of becoming an entrepreneur?
Amy Porterfield: I would say that I don’t think you’ve ever experienced true freedom in your creativity, in your time, in your effort until you are the one calling the shots. And I also know it’s not for everybody. I have some friends that would hate being an entrepreneur because there’s more uncertainties. It’s a little bit scary at times when you’re just starting out. However, if you have that desire to call the shots and you don’t want to answer to anybody and you want complete freedom with your creativity.
And one more thing, you want to build a lifestyle that you absolutely love. I believe when you do entrepreneurialship right that the sky is the limit. You do get to free that life that you want. It’s funny a lot of the time there’s something is going kind of tough in my business, I’ll complain to my husband, Hobie, and I’ll say “Uh, I’ve got to record one more video and I’m gonna be working till 11:00 o’clock tonight. And he’ll say “You should talk to your boss about that.” And I realized, “Wait a second. I’m creating a silly deadline.” And is like “What am I doing?” And it puts me right back into “I’m calling the shots and I’m not working ‘til 11:00 o’clock tonight.”
So anyway, it really comes back to freedom and creativity and really owning your lifestyle however you want it to be. And I do believe that you are held back in corporate in that sense. So if you have those desires, I really hope that anybody listening is going to at least explore them.
Andrea: Alright, Amy. So if people are wanting to find you, it’s not going to be difficult but where would you like to direct them?
Amy Porterfield: Thanks a lot for asking. I’m at amyporterfield.com, and my podcast is Online Marketing Made Easy.
Andrea: Thank you so much for being here today and thank you for your voice of influence in my own life and my business and the ripple effects that that has in other people not just me but all of your students and the people that they serve as well.
Amy Porterfield: Oh I’m so very happy to be here. I’m so glad we have found each other and we are friends and I hope this little podcast audio makes its way that people I’ve seen away that makes a big impact. So thanks again!
Dear fellow Multi-Passionate Creative,
Creative chaos is how I would describe the ideas bouncing around in our heads. It’s a fun place to play but it’s not very helpful when it’s time to make any kind of decision about what path to take with your life or business, is it? Untended, chaos breeds more chaos and pretty soon intelligent, ambitious people spin their wheels so fast they (and everything around them) turns into a muddy mess.
How are you supposed to build a platform or business around confusion, overwhelm and frustration? You can’t. Not a powerfully sustainable one, anyway. If you can’t make up your mind and decide on an idea to pursue, you’ll keep jumping from one passion to another without gaining traction on any of them.
Compounding the problem are all of the voices out there ready to give you the exact plan for this or the perfect blueprint for that. If you just follow their plan, you’ll end up with the results you want.
It sounds great, but who’s plan should you follow? What “proven” tactics are the ones you should use? Should you follow one or synthesize them all? And what if a better option comes along while you’re in the middle of implementing the one you thought you chose?
Whether you’re spinning your wheels trying to decide on an idea to pursue or you’re spinning in circles trying to decide who to listen to, you’re probably not getting anywhere. Fast.
Before you spend the last of your continuing education budget or eek out one more drop of effort to build your platform, please STOP.
This is me, grabbing you by the shoulders, looking you in the eye, saying:
Friend, you are smarter and more capable of making your own decisions than you think you are. I know what it’s like to feel so lost in your own head that you can’t make sense of the cereal box, let alone Facebook’s newest algorithm. I know what it’s like to know you’ve got more to offer the world but you’re so lost in the chaos of choices before you and the chaos of voices yelling from the Internet to see past your own keyboard. It’s time to lift your head above the fog and listen to your own voice.
It was only a few short years ago that I was so lost in my own creative chaos that I was a bottled up mess of ideas and ambition that I verbally exploded from the internal pressure on a regular basis. It took realizing the pain I was causing others to make me stop saying terrible things to myself about being “crazy,” “scattered,” “a mess,” and “a waste.”
If you’re saying terrible things to yourself, please stop for a minute and look me back in the eye and answer me this:
If you know the answers to these questions, then write them down in big letters and throw them up on the wall behind your computer and use them as your internal compass when you have decisions to make because if you align what you do and what you say with who you are, you will gain traction and make an impact.
October 23-27th I am offering a free 5 Day Challenge to help you nail down these answers in an elevator pitch. And if you think this is just some simple formula you can Google, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice. I know exactly what it’s like to be where you are right now and I do not see your elevator pitch as some simple fill-in-the-blank. You are more beautifully complicated than that. Your multitude of talents, your fierce ambition and your passion to help others deserves to be honored. That’s exactly what we’re going to do in the Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5 Day Challenge. Stop spinning your wheels and sign up NOW (HERE).
You’re talent and message are worth it. I’ll see you inside.
Your Voice Matters,
Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national best seller, The Art of Work and his latest book, Real Artists Don’t Starve. He is also a full-time blogger, speaker, and entrepreneur.
Originally from Chicago, Goins graduated from Illinois College and spent the next year on the road with a band. After that, he moved to Nashville to chase a girl and spent the next seven years working at a nonprofit. He now writes and speaks for a living and runs an online business helping writers and creative entrepreneurs chase their dreams.
Jeff’s award-winning blog, GoinsWriter.com, has been visited by over four million people from around the world. His work has been featured in the Washington Post, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Psychology Today. He and his wife, Ashley, live just outside of Nashville, TN with their son, daughter and dog.
Links mentioned in this episode:
Andrea: So Jeff Goins, welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast.
Jeff Goins: Hi, Andrea, it’s good to be here.
Andrea: Well Jeff, recently published his fifth book, is that right?
Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah. I was right too.
Andrea: Real Artists Don’t Starve – and I’m really looking forward digging into that here in a minute. But let’s get the influencer listening a little context. I’ll tell you that I first stumbled on you, Jeff, when I started diving into podcast about three years ago, when I was just trying to grapple with my own creative life, my own creative self and what to do with that. I found that your podcast the Portfolio Life, which it explores the questions what does the creative life looks like. So Jeff, what does your creative life look like?
Jeff Goins: The term, the Portfolio Life, I found in a book by a guy named Charles Handy. And apparently in the UK, it’s widely known in this term but I never heard before it. So a friend of mine who is a poet, who has an affinity for Japanese culture and also works a fulltime job as a marketing director at a medical company. You know, it’s just a bunch of different things, right? I remember asking him few years ago as my platform was growing, my audience was growing, I was writing books, and I was also helping writers online with online courses. And I felt torn because all of my friends whose success I admired it seemed as if they were about one thing and I felt broken. I was like “Am I the author guy? Am I the speaker guy, or am I like the entrepreneur guy?”
And my friend, his name is Keith said “You could be all those things. You’re living a portfolio life and it’s not for everybody but for those who care about multiple things. You can embrace all those interests and all of those different areas of interest and make each part of the portfolio better, you know.” “So the fact that I read poetry, I’m interested in Japanese culture influences my day job, and my understanding of marketing influences these hobbies.”
So for me, it really became a question of not being a jack of all trade or becoming a master of some. That’s something I become more and more comfortable with. So I think of Portfolio Life is like an investment portfolio. I have just not invested in one company, I’ve got a bunch of different things that I’m putting my time in, but it’s not everything. So for me, my portfolio is like one part author. I’m always working on a book, promoting a book, or talking about a I’ve recently written that’s really important to me.
I love books. I love reading them. Every book I’ve read has been a gift to me from the author and I am honored to be able to try to give gifts to my own readers but also run a business. So I’m an entrepreneur and I like that. I’m good at that and it’s fun for me. And so I wear the hat of entrepreneur-employer-boss visionary you know for a good amount of time throughout my week. I’m also a speaker and coach. I’m having conversations with people on a fairly regular basis helping them kind of breakthrough to the next level.
And you know, I also wear the hats of dad and husband. And for me, it became very important fairly early on to figure how to manage all of this. I don’t believe in work-life balance but I like what Dan Miller calls it work-life in aggression. How does my work feed my life and how does my life feed my work. And Steven King wrote in his book on writing, “I used to think that life was a support system for art and now, I realized that is the other way around.”
He tells a story about becoming an author and buying this really big desk. That was the time he made this huge, you know, expensive oak desk and he put it in the middle of the room upstairs in his attic which became his writing studio. And he shut the door and outside that door, his kids were growing up without him. He was working on the next novel. He was addicted to a multiple substances and his art had consumed his life. Eventually, he got sober. He got rid of that big desk. He opened up the attic and turned it into like a movie room for his kids, who were now teenagers and he got a smaller desk and moved it into the corner of the room.
I just love kind of that word picture of my work used to dominate my life and everybody around me just had to support me. And then I realized, “No, this isn’t how it supposed to be. Work is supposed to feed the life.” So I opened the door and made my work very interruptible by my family because this is whom I’m doing it for. I remember like I was like “Oh I love that.” And two weeks after reading that, it was a Friday afternoon and my wife was like “Hey, do you wanna take the kids to the zoo.” I was like “I can’t, I have to work.”
If you have a day job, you can’t just say, “I gotta go to the zoo.” But here I was just placing these unnecessary arbitrary boundaries around my life because I was kind of addicted to my work. You know, it made me feel good about myself and that wasn’t why I got into this.
I started writing and started a business so that I can have more freedom doing work that I love but also so that I could provide for my family and spend more time with them. So here I was spending more time on this business than I was for the reason that I was supposed to be doing it for. I think that’s a long way of saying, my portfolio it’s very important that the work fits around the life, not the other way around.
Andrea: Yeah, and you talked about wearing a bunch of different hats, I totally want to get into your book but we’re going to keep going with this for now.
Jeff Goins: Sure, yeah!
Andrea: Is it hard for you to switch hats in the midst of all of these different things that you mentioned including, you know, husband and father? Do you feel like a different person when you have a different hat on or how do you navigate that internally?
Jeff Goins: It’s not hard for me to switch hats because I have a visionary personality. I don’t mean that like a complimentary way like “Hey, look at me I’m the visionary.” It means I’m always onto the next thing. I’m always imagining the future and struggling to stay in the present.
There’s a book called the Synergist. It’s a business book by Les McKeown and he describes the visionary personality. He basically says, in an organization there are three types of people; visionary, operator, and processor. They’re all kind of in conflict with each other. The visionary says “Let’s go do this. Let’s go climb the mountain.” The operator says “Okay, let’s start marching.” And the processor goes “Hey, what’s our plan. How are we gonna do this?” So one is always going to do work, one is always thinking about the next thing, and the other one is trying to figure out how to build a process around it. And the solution that is the synergist, one who kind of synergistically bridges all these gaps.
So I am the visionary, which means I’m always thinking about the next thing kind of ADD type of personality or I’m just “OK, I’ll do this and let’s do this.” So task switching is easy for me for the most part. I have these friends who would like sit in a locked room and write for eight hours a day and I did that because that’s what I thought a writer was supposed to do. It was actually lonely and depressing and my writing suffered as a result of it.
I am at my peak when I’m juggling a few but not too many things where every day I’m spending sometime doing what Cal Newport calls “deep work,” where I’m spending a couple of hours working on my ideas like “That’s important and I can’t neglect that.” But then another part of my day needs to be spent interacting with people so that I can get feedback on those ideas. Like even this interview was an opportunity for me sort of riff on new ideas and old ideas and work on them and get feedback and see where the conversation goes.
So that’s really important to me going out to lunch with people, talking to my team, friend, whatever, you know, getting that kind of interaction is super important to me. And I used to feel guilty about that like I felt broken. I just realized “This is my personality. I’ve got to be doing a few, but not too many things.”
For me, that breaks down into three activities that I try to compartmentalize. I always need to be doing something to build my craft and to really grow as a writer. I always need to be doing something to build my brand, reaching more people so that, you know, you can continue to grow and I need to be doing something to build my business so that I can get paid so that I can keep doing all the other stuff.
And this kind of this vicious cycle, you build your craft and more people noticed and you build your brand and you build your brand, more people will pay you so you build your business which allows you the freedom to go back to building your craft. So every day, I’m working on all three of those activities in kind of frazzled task-switching kind of way. But I would say, Andrea, that there are these challenges switching from boss/influencer/author to dad or husband.
It’s a weird thing to talk about and the best way I can describe it, you know, with that story. So there’s this documentary about U2, because usually they’re going to this like 200, 300 day tours, right? They’ll be gone from their families for most of the year and gone from home anyway. And then they’ll come back home and Bono will come back home, and it will be a reentry process. It used to be he comes back from tour and when he back to the house, he was miserable and his wife ready to have a divorce.
So what they do now is he comes back to city that he lived in and stays in a hotel for two weeks and then will get together for dinner but then the kids and the wife go home and Bono stays in a hotel. And over the course of two weeks, they spend more and more time together and then eventually gets to come back home. And the reason for this is every night for a year; Bono was standing on stage full of 10,000 people who think he’s a God. They think he’s amazing and to switch from being that a star, where everybody will do literally anything for you to being dad, just dad or the guy who takes the trash out for the family that’s a hard transition to make.
And I don’t say this and like “Oh poor Bono or poor me,” but I know what that feels like psychologically to go from whatever hosting a conference with several hundred people, you know, sending an email to a hundred thousand plus people and getting a lot of really nice thank you notes and then going home and seeing the whole other area of your life, the other part of the portfolio where you know, your wife is going “You didn’t take the trash out,” or “You said you’re going was these dishes and you didn’t do that.” Or “Daddy, can we go play soccer?”
There is this really broken part in me that goes “Wait, don’t you know that I’m important?” I’ve realized that’s not a good voice but I like the very healthy part that Bono does which is life he insisted on. It’s a reentry process. So for me in a very small way, this kind of happens on a daily basis. I used to think that it was this ingenious. Now, I just think that it’s part of the job, like you would never say to a football player, “Why don’t just be yourself out there? Why are you wearing all those pads? And why are you screaming at the top of your lungs pumped full of adrenaline?” You don’t have to be that way at the dinner table. These are different roles, right? And you don’t want whatever the quarterback of Tennessee Titans to act the way that he acts at his job at home, at the dinner table.
So there has to be sort of ramp up period of the performance whatever it is that they’re writing the podcast and then there needs to be kind of a ramp down to reenter this other part of your life. For me, it’s not about balance; it’s about integration, so “How do I be the best dad and the best husband that I can be for my family in a way that also contributes and integrates with being the best writer, best writing coach, and teacher that I can be for my readers and my audience.”
For me, there’s a necessary good tension in those activities. And best way that I know, you know, you asked about sort of switching hats, I think it’s best to think of it sort of as “I’m on one planet all day long and then I get my spaceship and I fly home.” And there’s this reentry process that happens. Reentry is not an easy process, you know, you’re re-entery matters, if you do that the wrong angle, you know, we all remembers from Apollo 13, you could burn up. So having the things that I do at the very beginning of the day to ramp up into work mode and then also having activities that I do at the end of the day to ramp down and go into another mode, super important.
Andrea: Yes, I totally agree. I think especially for people who are thinking a lot. It can be really, really hard to switch that gear. First of all, let me ask, do you ever find yourself in work mode when you’re with your kids totally distracted and then thinking to yourself “Wait a second, I got to get back. I got to come back to this moment.” I mean, that was something I really struggled with as a mom with little kids.
Before I started writing and doing anything else was that I felt so distracted all of the time because I didn’t have an outlet. You know, I wasn’t doing a podcast. I wasn’t writing. I didn’t have that outlet at a different time a day because I was with my kids 24/7 and that’s one of the things, I think maybe especially for moms, that it would be really nice if I would have taken a little bit more time to be able to get out when I needed to get out in a different setting to be able to use my brain in that different way and then come back to my kids where I could focus. Did you ever find that part very difficult?
Jeff Goins: I do. Yes and the best explanation for this was a book that I read, it’s called 5 Gears: How to Be Present and Productive When There is Never Enough Time, by Jeremie Kubicek. The book is just super practical about how to shift up and get into fifth gear which is like a deep, focus, work mode, and then shift down into the more social interactive time and then eventually you know, solo time. It’s the best analogy with anybody struggles with being present wherever you are, I highly recommend the 5Gear by Jeremie Kubicek and Steve Cockram. A very short book too.
But here’s the thing like for me, I totally get the outlet thing and my wife is starting a business now, our kids are 5 and 18 months, and she’s always been the more career oriented between the two of us. I never really cared about success you know, We met in college and she’s very career oriented and graduated and had a job lined up because she had already done two or three internships.
I graduated and found a way to live in a house for the summer while I raised money to go, you know, do this music mission trip and skirted around the country playing music for years. So that’s kind of indication of how we do life differently. So we started having kids, you know, she was able to stay home while I was doing the writing stuff. She’s kind of eventually gotten back because I think it was really a good thing for her to have something to do, you know, have an outlet as you said.
For me and maybe this is a thing or maybe not, but for me I realized, I’ve been working all day and I was sort of addicted to that feeling of being important, people wanting things from me. And then I would be in the doldrums of daily life at home where there isn’t an immediate feedback. I write a blog post and people go “Hey good job, you’re smart.” Or you know, even in my job working for nonprofit. I have an idea, I share it with my boss or my team and they go “Good idea.” And your kids are like not impressed with your ideas, right?
Jeff Goins: It’s the opposite. It’s your job to say “That’s amazing, great picture! Good job! My son was playing with magnets and he said “Hey, what should I make?” And I said “You should make a shark.” And he made this thing and he’s like “Here look at the shark.” And I was like “Cool!” He goes “Does it really looks like a shark?’ And I could hear like that was an important moment, and he was like “Is it really good?” And I said “Yes, absolutely. It’s amazing, wild and so creative.” That could drain you as a parent.
Here’s the thing that I realized. I’d be sitting on a couch with my kids trying to be present and I would want to check my phone, “Ahh maybe they need something.” And the reality was this, in that moment that time, I felt like work was more interesting than being at home like I was bored and I was finding some way to appease my boredom. Instead of going “Let’s go do something. Let’s make this fun because this is incredible. I need to not be missing because you’re never to be like this again.” Instead I’m going “I’m kind of bored, I wanna get through this so that I’ll go back to doing the things that feel fun to me.”
I realized this is boring because I’m making it boring and I’m maybe a little bit addicted to that feeling of being important. And that book 5 Gears actually helped me and I realized if you’re going like task, task, task, task, all day long and in five minutes later you’re at home. And it’s like relationship, relationship, relationship, relationship; you’re not going to be present there because you haven’t done a good job of ramping up and ramping down from those experiences.
So having some healthy practices to kind of a immersed yourself into whatever your daily activities like even if that’s being a mom, being a dad, going to work, doing whatever; like that’s an activity where you need to be fully present. And then going back home like that’s an activity where you also need to be fully present and thinking of it sort of like entry and reentry that’s really important.
You know, I mentioned Stephen King thing where like his kids walked in where he was working on novel and he stops and he pitched with them and watches a movie. That’s really cool. I tried that, it didn’t work. It was bad for me. It was bad for my kids. It was bad for my wife and my wife, when we can afford it, said “Leave, you need an office.” And I’m really bad at this. I’m easily distracted. I don’t know that would certainly make me feel better that sort of things that I struggled with. I can’t like be in a place where stuff is happening around me and focus.
Jeff Goins: And so what would happen is I have my office and my home right next to our nursery when our son was a baby, and I’d like creep through there in the middle of the day to get some work done and I’d wake him up. Or I’d be working you know in the office and he’d wake up and I’d be in a podcast interview and something would be going on in the background. I’d be really distracted. Like right now, we’re talking and you know my wife texted me and I was like “Uhh.” OK, you know, it’s very hard for me to focus when other things are going on.
And if you’re at home and my kids would be knocking on the door saying “Daddy,” like they don’t understand I’m working. They just know I was behind that door, right? So what we realized is when, for the most part, like I tried to make myself interrupt the ball and I like to use the flexibility of being self employed. But for the most part when I network, I’m fully present at work because that’s important to me, that’s important to the people that I’m influencing, and it’s also important to our family for financial standpoint and when I’m at home, I’m at home.
When I was working on this thing on the side and it was a bit of a side hassle, I was working early mornings and late at night, because I had to and it was a season and it was necessary. I can’t remember today, six years later, I can’t remember the last time; I opened up my laptop after 5:00 p.m. And it’s not because I’m a really good guy or because I have great boundaries, it’s because I have said “When I’m work, I’m fully present at work and so I’m all in.” And so at the end of the day there is no more work to do.
I mean, obviously, I could keep going but I’ve done everything that I wanted to do that day because I would force that activity to fit into a certain container, not I think it’s called Parkinson’s law where like whatever amount of time you have, you’ll find work to fill that time.
So I have intentionally decreased the size of the container as an experiment, like “Can I still get the same amount of work done in say 25 hours a week that I was doing in 50 hours a week?” And I found a way to do that, so I go home most days going “Hey, I’m done, I don’t have anything to do. I’d don’t want to be anywhere else but right here. I’m going to be as present as I possibly can be because I gave everything that I had back there, you know, five hours ago.”
That’s been helpful to me. I don’t say it’s perfect. I don’t say that when I’m in a middle of a project or something, my mind doesn’t occasionally wander, but by disciplining myself to be all in right here, right now during the day however much time that is, sometimes it’s four, five, or six hours sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Because I would do it like I would be destructed. I would work on something on the side, take notes, text, phone calls, whatever and I’d go “What did I do?” Like not much, you know, I let a few people know I was available. I didn’t accomplish much from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
When I stopped doing that and spend time with my family more and it’s still. We would do a lot. We would do a lot of fun things and create a lot of memories and so the return on investment of that time of being fully present with my family was so much greater than kind of being busy and kind of doing some work.
Andrea: Yeah, yeah. I’ve heard of like Todd Herman, he puts on glasses like he doesn’t need glasses, but he puts on glasses when he’s working.
Jeff Goins: I love that.
Andrea: It’s sort of like a uniform or a persona, really like you’re talking about you’re amping up for the performance. I like that. I think that finding tools and finding a system or a set of practices that you do to ramp up and then ramp down. I mean those are so important. I’ve often thought that somebody who is going away to work like when they come home, I live in Nebraska so where I’m at is a pretty small town it’s not very far from work to home.
And I’ve often thought, you know, somebody who is driving home like why not just go around the block two or three more times to sort of just settle in and be prepared when you walk in the door for family instead of still kind of coming down from that work day or whatever. But yeah, I love all that. It’s really interesting. You talked about a “leaky filter” in your book and you’ve mentioned before “Do I have ADHD” or whatever. Have you heard of the concept of sensitivity like neurological sensitivity?
Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah.
Andrea: Have you heard of the concept of sensitivity? Eileen Aron has done a lot of research on that. I think that helped me to grapple with all that just realizing that I’m just taking in so much information. I’m a sponge and I have to have a way to get that stuff back out again too, which I think, again is that like creative expression. If you’re taking all of this data, this information, all these ideas, and these experiences and you’re making all these connections in your head, especially if you’re like an intuition person like I believed you’re ENTJ, if I remember.
Jeff Goins: Yeah, yeah – good job.
Andrea: I know. I know, I’m totally creepy with stuff like that but that internal intuition were constantly like putting all these ideas together in our heads and making these connections and all that building schemes and then it’s like “I gotto get it out somehow.” I’m kind of interested in hearing your take on this, but one of my struggles and especially I used to be that I felt like I had so many different points of reference in my head. All these different ideas, thoughts, and experiences, they were all connected with this. They’re just all just connected.
My struggle was, and still sometimes is, if I want to take one of those out and talk about it, it is very, very difficult because I pulled it out and outcome with a strings of other things and it’s very difficult for me to separate it from everything else unless I’m in a conversation with somebody else. If I’m in conversation then I can meet them right where they’re at with whatever I got. But if I’m trying to create a speech or write something that is totally self-directed, it’s really hard. Do you have any tips or any thoughts about that experience?
Jeff Goins: Yeah, I do relate the quote, it’s a writing quote about I don’t know anything about something until I read what I say, and I think that’s true. I think calling a verbal processor or kind of works. And there are advantages and disadvantages to that book that I mentioned, The Synergist.
Jeff Goins: What you’re describing is the visionary personality. It’s somebody has a high threshold for ambiguity, lots of ideas, you can hold two opposing ideas in tension for as long possible. So you have to absolutely pick one of them. On the services, it can look like not being able to make up your mind or being flaky, and you know, there can be some of it if you’re not harnessing it. But there are some advantages to it where you can literally see solutions that other people can’t see because you can navigate the nuance and seeming contradictions of certain situations.
That’s always been surprising to me. Somebody will present a problem and they go “We don’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to do here.” And I go “Really? Just really this?” “Will that will work.” “Yes it will if you do it like this, this and this.” “What about that, I don’t know about that.” “That’s a detail but it’s okay,” like “It’s not an important one.”
The downside is when I have a conversation with my wife, I’ll see stuff like an argument that I don’t necessarily 100% mean, but I’s how I feel in the moment and she remembers all of it. And 30 minutes later, I’ll finally arrive with a thing and I was trying to say, I was like “Oh you know what, this is how I feel about this and I’m sorry about all the other stuff.” She’s “What do you mean you’re sorry about all that stuff? That hurts.”
Andrea: It still came out.
Jeff Goins: Yes, it still came out and I’m responsible for that and you know navigating that is challenging. But I’ve realized that there are some like this is how I made and I can harness this but there are some inherent advantages to being this way. I mean, that book is really interesting you know. He talks about how visionaries, basically, the traits of visionaries are they waffle from one extreme of commitments to another being super over committed to being way under committed.
And I’ll just go “Yeah, I wanna do that. Why am I doing this? Why am I doing a book signing?” “Well, because three months ago you said you wanted to do a bunch of book signing.” “When did the book came out?” And that’s what I’m excited about. And you get bored with the details. You talk to think and I think that’s an interesting way of thinking about it.
When I sit to think in a room, I kind of come up with an idea but then when I talk it out and I share and I get feedback on it that’s when I’m really forced to figure out how this works. You know visionaries also want to own what they’re working on. They don’t want to pursue somebody else’s vision, they want to do their own even if it’s not as good, the fact that they get to own it is important. They don’t like structures to kind of abhor that. Yeah, it can be a challenge, but I’m realizing there are some advantages.
So it’s like helping people that I worked with and people that love me, you know, I can harness these advantages and disadvantages and ways that better serves them. But I can also communicate with them why I am this way. I do like that concept of the leaky filter. I heard of a researcher named, _____ talked about it. And it is this idea that if you’re in hyper focused mood, you are missing other opportunities that come along. And at the same time, you could be so distracted that all of this input is coming and you’re not filtering it. So what I’m not saying is like being in a state of destruction is a good thing, it’s not. That’s no filter at all. It is good to have a filter for your inputs.
I have realized that having a Facebook app in my phone is mostly a horrible idea because it’s so much input all the time and it’s not good for me, it’s so distracting. I would spend hours on it literally doing nothing, “What am I scrolling to see? I don’t know.” And so you’ve got to have a filter but there has to be ways to penetrate. It has to be leaky and all I know is that every great opportunity that’s come my way, pretty much any significant accomplishment I can think of that was an idea that came to me while I was doing something else.
And so being open to opportunities, especially an entrepreneur is very, very important. But I’d say for any kind of creative, being open to inputs while you’re working on something else is super important. Don’t miss those opportunities, but I also think you’ve got to know what to do with it. So for me, my best ideas for my next book come when I’m working on my current book about at 51% mark of the book, right I’m over halfway through. It’s no longer fun. It’s no longer new, now it’s just work.
I mean, it’s kind of fun but it’s not as fan as it was when it was in the first 10% and this could be anything. Now, this is something. I’ve got a show up every day and now I’ve got a deadline and it’s a commitment. So I will get an idea for my next book at that point. The two extremes that I would do, “OK, forget this. Now, I wanna do this, right?” But you’re already finished anything doing that.
Jeff Goins: I’m interested in finishing things including work that’s going to make an impact not just teasing the next idea but never completing anything. The other extreme would be “Nope, put your head down. Forget about everything. Shot the door or close out everything and work on this. And the work itself would suffer as a result because I was completely cutting out inputs and I was losing esteem. I was not being stimulated from other ideas.
So what I will do now is that I’ll be working on the book, I’ll get an idea. I’ll read an article. I’ll kind of tease the tangent for a few minutes and I’ll just write it down. I’ll put it in Evernote, I’ll say “Hey, I love you. I will come back.” And you know probably 90% of the time; the idea is not as good as it felt in the moment when I was simply procrastinating.
But here’s the thing, every single book that I’ve written, as you’ve mentioned I’ve written five, except for the first one obviously, but every single, you know that the next four books that idea came to me while in the middle of another book. So I would have missed that idea if I didn’t have a leaky filter and wasn’t allowing some inputs at that time when I was supposed to be hyper focusing on something. So I just let them in, I write it down, and I set them aside and I say, “I’ll come back to you later.”
Andrea: Yeah, yeah that’s so important. Do you find that it’s just more fun to think and it’s harder to finish the book because now it’s the, I don’t know…
Jeff Goins: I think it’s scary to finish. I mean, yeah it’s fun to dream up on new things but there’s also… I don’t know for me, I like committing to things. It’s easy and I’m happy to do that and then as I’m realizing the cost of that commitment, I’m going…like for example, last week I did a book signing at a local Barnes & Noble and I committed to like three months beforehand because I got a schedule and I’ve got do all that.
I wake up Monday morning and I go “Oh crap, I got a book signing today.” That means I got to get shower before my son gets up. I got to iron my shirt because I got to wear something other than a t-shirt. That’s means, I got to do this and I’ve got to get a lunch at this time and that also means that maybe nobody will show up. And I would have wasted an hour and a half of my time. That just would feel embarrassing to me and the bookstore who ordered a hundreds books. They’re going to be mad at me and I’m not really a real author; and people would probably see this on social media. It’s like I find every reason in the world to hide.
And I’m like “Well, you committed to it so here we go, get up.” So I think like how to do that because I didn’t you know, Barnes & Noble would be calling me saying “Where are you?” And I’m just going to not show up. But even though in the middle of the book projects or any kind of projects where you’re holding yourself accountable, it’s so easy to let that fear of finishing, which I think it starts like those voices get really, really loud of like that 51% mark, you are at the top of the hill and the momentum is taking over. There’s no way to escape and you’re going down the hill now.
But all the fears, like you’re on the roller coaster ride like “Wait a minute, this might right at the top.” What your brain is telling you right now is you’re going to die right now and it’s your own fault. And you’re like “What can I do to get out of here right now?” I think most creative projects are that way. You get to a point and you’re afraid of all the bad things that could happen as a result of finishing it and it’s so much easier if you just start the next thing. Because when you’re starting something, you’re not really thinking about of how you’re going to finish it. It’s just exciting.
It reminds me of that scene in Goodwill Hunting where Matt Damon was talking to Robin Williams as his therapist. And Matt Damon says “Well, I met a girl.” And therapist says “Yeah, how was that? And he says “Oh she’s great. She’s amazing.” You know and they went out one day and everything about this girl was perfect. She was awesome and he got to ask her out again. He was like “I don’t think I wanna see her again.” He was like “Why not?” He goes “Right now this girl is perfect and I don’t want to mess that up.”
You know, it’s this question of when I’m starting something, it feels perfect. It feels flawless to me and I don’t want to mess up that purity. In reality, it’s not perfect. It just feels that way. It’s just an idea like ideas don’t change the world, action does. I become less precious about my ideas over the years because the ideas don’t matter, the execution of the ideas is what actually impacts other people’s lives. But yeah, there’s this feel like I could mess this up, whereas right now, to me, it feels perfect and I just want this feeling of novelty to last because it’s really nice.
And going on a first date with somebody, you know, being head over heels is way different than being in your time of marriage and struggling with time this month to go on a date. But what would you rather have; a memory of a wonderful first date, or a lifelong partner?
Andrea: Totally, yeah. OK, so when you are in that moment of trying to decide, you’re not really trying to decide whether or not you’re going to go to Barnes & Noble, but in a sense, you are. In a sense, you’re facing that fear and whatever and I _____ before you want to outrun fear, move fast that it didn’t catch you.
Jeff Goins: Yeah.
Andrea: But besides to your commitment to the fact that you committed, what is it inside of you that makes you say “No, I’m doing this.”
Jeff Goins: Part of it is the fact that it’s public. So if I don’t do it, I’m going to embarrass myself and that’s a big deal to me. It’s not a big deal to everybody but my personality is an entertainer kind of personality, so I’m very interested in achievement, success, and the appearance of success. So there’s _____, or it would have been better that I just hide and let people think I am just an author than do the book signing and nobody show up.
So part of it makes me do it is, what I’m doing and what I try to do with all my work is I’m practicing in public. This is something I talk about in the book and it’s just an important theme that I tried to embody for the past six years. When you practice in public, you’re doing a couple of things and this is like blogging, if you’re a musician, you could be street performing. It’s simply doing your work in some public setting where a few people will see.
On one hand, if you’re a _____ musician, you don’t need to be opening for _____ right away. But you could be booking shows in local bars where 15 and 20, 30 people might see it. And what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to sort to feedback loops so that you could do your work and immediately get feedback on and then improve on it. So blogging for me was this. I was practicing with folks and speaking engagement services.
Podcasting is probably the hardest for me because there are skills that I want to get better. And yes, I could sit in a room by myself and practice, ensuring questions or practice giving a speech or whatever, but I’m actually not going to get as good at the activity unless I’m doing it in some public venue. Or if I fail, there’s a cost to it. And so I bring more of my A-game partly because I’m a verbal processor. I bring more of my A-game when I have to perform, when I have to do it in public.
So practicing in public, I think makes you better, faster, and it also has its beautiful byproduct where if you do your job well eventually, you’ll build an audience. So you don’t have to worry about getting good and then promoting your work and selling it to an audience because they’ve seen you practicing for the past few years and they know how good you’ve gotten and they’ve been following along cheering you the whole way.
And obviously the risk of that is some people may see you in the middle of that going “Well, you’re not that good.” And “That’s true but I’m going to be better tomorrow.” So I think for me what makes me follow through is there are two things. One, you give your word and this like you got to do this. Like my schedule has gotten kind of crazy and I had an appointment this morning at 9 o’clock but I’m not taking my son to school.
So yesterday, my sister reached out to a friend of mine where I’m scheduled a podcast interview with him and say “Hey, we’re doing a reschedule.” And he texted me like “You’re rescheduling me a day before?” And I was like “No, I can’t do that like I will find a way to be there.” There’s just something in me that if I commit to it, good or bad, right or wrong, I’m going to have to do it even if I don’t want to do it.
The other thing I remind myself is “When you are done with this, you feel good, right?” So every book signing and before book signing I’m like “Why am I doing a book signing. I hate book signing. This is stupid, I hate book signing. I’m never doing this. This is horrible.” And then afterwards, I’m like “This is good. I’m glad, I did this. We should more.” And to be honest podcast every week, every Thursday, I do bunch of interviews and every day I go, “Why am I doing this? This isn’t worth my time.” And afterwards I’d say “Hey, this is so good. I’m so glad I took it.” So I think it’s bad if I committed but also I understand that this is the scariest best way for me to get good at the craft that I’ve chosen.
When I was an actor in college, you know, I was acting in stage plays, you know theater, and you feel fear every time. You feel fear every time you’re performing for a live audience. But we do for weeks on them, night after night after night and we had a saying like “If you weren’t nervous something was going to go wrong, like it is good to have nerves. You’re supposed to have nerves, it gives you an edge. It gives your performance an energy. You didn’t want to be necessarily like throwing up, but you wanted to be nervous enough that you’re going to be focused and sharp.
So when I think about this, when I feel fear and anxiety before a book signing and interview, a speaking engagement, any public thing, a book launch, anything that I’m going to do where if it doesn’t go up people going to see it, I want to get out of them. I want to run. I’m afraid and I began to recognize fear, not as a signal that I should stop doing this work but as a sign that I’m on a right road headed to that familiar destination. I’m like “Remember this success that you had?” “Yup!” “Remember feeling fear right before it happened?” “Oh yeah.” And now I feel good and I go “Hey, there you are.” You know, it’s a friend now. It doesn’t look like an enemy.”
Andrea: Sure! I hesitate to do this but I want press in a little bit further on this because I know that you’re a person of faith and I have this feeling that it goes deeper than that, that you not only are wanting to succeed that the fears going to help you succeed at what you’re doing. It kind of get you to this point where you have to be willing to sacrifice the fact that you might fail in front of people in order to serve people.
Jeff Goins: Hmm
Andrea: In other words, you love people more than you fear them.
Jeff Goins: Yeah. I mean, I think I heard _____ say this one and I thought this is out. He was talking about marketing and he was talking about appealing to people’s motives. And as a marketer, you need not to be appealing to people with no blur motives and you know we were talking about nonprofits and his work for nonprofits like “We want to serve the greater good. We want to be at this mission. We want to impact people.” Those are good things but you assume that people are giving to a nonprofit because they want to be a part of that vision.
And sometimes the answer is like they want to give $30 a month to an orphan in Africa because it makes them feel a little bit less guilty about their short circumstances, which sounds horrible, right? And somebody was like “Really?” People aren’t good or not bad, people are mixed, and I think that’s true and I hope that doesn’t sound too cynical. I don’t mean for it to sound cynical, I just know myself and I know that in any situation there’s that angel on the shoulder, the devil on the shoulder.
So yeah, I go into situations and, you know, I do love people. I like being around people but I also like the feeling that I get to help somebody, like I like that feeling. And sometimes it’s an unhealthy thing; it’s a _____ of anything where I need to feel useful. And I’ve realized that in friendships, I start to feel disconnected from a friend or a peer when I feel like I’m no longer able to help them. Like now we’re just friends and healing message of the three is that you are loved of who you are and not what you do.
And I’m like “Yeah, but I should do something, right?” “You need something from me.” It’s kind of like broken unhealthy desire to perform and continue to prove your worth. I think because you’re brought up the faith thing, I love people because I know that I’m loved by God. And I also know that I didn’t really do anything to deserve that love and it’s a humbling feeling. When you are loved in a pure way by anyone or anything and you let yourself feel that love, the next response is to share that love. Not just reciprocate it and love that person back, but to spread the gift.
I mean that’s how I feel. That’s why people get married and the love each other well and then they’re like “We should have kids because we want this to grow.” Yeah, I would say, beyond the success and beyond that, the thing that I have been grappling with over the past couple of years is what does it mean to be successful? And I think this is an idea that we get wrong, particularly we think about influence like legacy is what people say about you after you’re gone.
This is such like an egotistic, like you’re still worried about what would people say about me and I don’t think that what’s true legacy is. I think true legacy is not about people caring on your work in your name or your name being on a building or something or people talking about you. I think true legacy is that the investments that you made in another people over the course of your lifetime then taking that and doing something better and more significant than you could ever do.
When I was in college, I spent two and a half years trying to create and honor code in our college, which is basically a code of conduct regulated by other students, where you know somebody’s cheating or there’s a process for how this is going to be dealt with. I got probably a hundred drafts of this 20-page document doing again and again to get everybody to like it.
And in the last day of school, basically, I am brought this before the faculty and they approved it and then I realized, all they’ve done is approve the document. Now, we have to carry this out. I can’t do the work, like I’m done. I have to leave. And so I had to pass ton on this other guy name Josh who had to actually implement these things and that was just idea. Years later I came back to my old college and I saw this thing called the “Honor Code” in every single classroom, and I was both appealing because I was a part of that and also humbling because it wasn’t just me.
And so to me legacy is about being faithful to whatever gifts you’ve been given, sharing those, investing those in the people’s lives and then knowing that they’re going to carry out that work in ways that will shadow your work. Legacy is not just about what you do, right? It’s about what you leave behind, those can either be at offices, buildings that eventually fall apart and rot and whatever or they can be seeds. I think legacy is about investing in people so that things can grow.
You know, in the Bible, Jesus tells His disciples; He says “You will do even greater things than I will do.” I was like “This is like Jesus.” They’re going to do better things that I will do? I think that’s really interesting and important and it’s true that they did. And that’s what good, healthy leadership and legacy looks like I think. It’s about investing another people, and not because you want them to say nice things about you, but because you love people, hopefully because you know that you yourself are loved and you want to invest on the projects and ideas of other people so that those things can continue without you.
By the way when I went back to college, I saw the “honor code” my name isn’t on there. There’s not like a history book that says Jeff Goins, none of that. If anything, a lot of the credit went to the guy who actually carried it out. And I just realized like in all of our striving to do great things, we all die with a little bit of the music still left in us like that’s by design. We all die right on the edge of the promise land with one more step to take, one more project to do. I think there’s this idea that we’ll be on our deathbeds going “I did all the things that I wanted to do.” That’s not the way this works.
If you did all the things that you want to do, you were thinking too small. You need to have such a big idea, such a big dream. Your calling needs to be something that requires the work of other people generations of other people that carry out. So by the time this thing is done, people have forgotten your name. And if you’re chasing something like that then you’re a part of something really big and important and purposeful.
Andrea: Amen! Alright, thank you so much, Jeff. I could sit here and chat with you all day. But you’ve been so generous with your time. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and your experience that the influencer listening. I appreciate all that you do.
Jeff Goins: You bet, totally my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Andrea. I love your questions. You’re great on that.
Andrea: Thank you! Well, I hope that you enjoyed that as much as I did. Obviously, I really enjoy just digging in to how people think and the way that they are and what makes them tick and how to navigate this creative life which is why I’m so drawn to just podcast the Portfolio Life. I will link to that in the show notes along with some of the books that he mentioned. Most certainly, above all, his book; Real Artists don’t Starve, Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age.
So pick up your copy of Real Artists don’t Starve. Check out the show notes or list of other resources that we mentioned in the podcast and make your voice matter more!
Do you want to make a great first impression? Know what you’re going to say before someone asks, “What do you do?” Sign up for the Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5 Day Challenge today. (October 23-27, 2017)
4 years ago I was introduced to the concept of an “elevator pitch.” It’s a 20-30 second statement about who you are, what you offer and who you serve. The funny part was that I wrote about 15 elevator pitches for different aspects of who I am and what I could do. The hard part was that I didn’t want to be put into a box because I knew I had a lot to offer, and yet by not making one clear pitch, I was saying that I really didn’t know who I was or what I was all about. How can other people know if they want to work with me if I can’t say what I do or who I am?
A KILLER elevator pitch that intrigues and invites others to get to know you and your business better, but it also helps YOU be able to figure out who you say that you are. What if your answer could be so clear, succinct and powerfully authentic that you magnetize your ideal partners, clients and collaborators? Well, I have something that could help!
Listen to this short episode and then join me for the Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5-Day Challenge. I’ll be offering tips and feedback on your own elevator pitch in a Facebook group for 5 days. By the end of the week you’ll have a better idea of who you say that you are so you can attract the right people to you and your work.
Mentioned in this episode
Are you ready to create and deliver your Killer Elevator Pitch? I’m excited to offer a FREE “Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5-Day Challenge,”October 23-27th, 2017. In just a few minutes a day we’ll take your boring answer to “what do you do?” to a wow-worthy status. I’ll be in the Facebook group every day to guide you through the process and offer strategic feedback, specific to YOU, so by the end of the week, you’ll be ready to rock your next cocktail party.
Networking is hard enough as it is. One night you finally get the courage to go to cocktail hour at the conference you’ve been attending for two days. You throw on the outfit that makes you look powerful and interesting. You stand tall in front of the mirror and give yourself a wink, just before leaving your room. You even find someone to meet you there so it’s not so awkward. But just as you press “L” on the elevator wall, your heart sinks, “My elevator pitch sucks! What am I supposed to say I do?!”
Do you find it difficult to answer the “what do you do” question? Most entrepreneurs and multi-passionate people do. They might have an answer that gets them by, but it doesn’t really represent who they are and what they have to offer. In fact, sometimes that “pitch” that’s supposed to draw people in, pushes people away.
Have you settled for a simple statement about your current job, which gives no real hint of who you really are and what you really have to offer? Isn’t it frustrating to be reduced to your job title when you know you are so much more? Sharing your boring response over and over can be crushing.
But what if you could have a KILLER elevator pitch that intrigues and invites others to get to know you and your business better? What if your answer could be so clear, succinct and powerfully authentic that you magnetize your ideal partners, clients and collaborators?
If you had a killer elevator pitch and you knew just how to deliver it, you’d have a built in engine that builds momentum in your conversations from the get-go. Here are three reasons why:
1. When you know who you are and what you have to bring to the table, you don’t have to worry about looking weak. Your weaknesses will fade into the background as you draw attention to the magnitude of your strengths.
2. Your killer elevator pitch isn’t about getting yourself to FIT IN to a company, industry or relationship. It’s about clearly stating who you are. When you share it, you’ll attract those who want you and what you have to offer like a magnet.
3. When you deliver a killer elevator pitch in YOUR style, over time you’ll develop more and more confidence in your “voice,” making you more likely to speak up clearly when it’s your time to do so.
Are you ready to create and deliver your Killer Elevator Pitch? I’m excited to offer a FREE “Nail Your Elevator Pitch 5-Day Challenge,” October 23-27th, 2017. In just a few minutes a day we’ll take your boring answer to “what do you do?” to a wow-worthy status. I’ll be in the Facebook group every day to guide you through the process and offer strategic feedback, specific to YOU, so by the end of the week, you’ll be ready to rock your next cocktail party.
Wes Gay is a writer, entrepreneur, and marketing consultant. He is a StoryBrand Certified Copywriter and Guide, helping businesses clarify their marketing message and strengthen their position in the marketplace. As a regular contributor to Forbes.com, he discovers how millennials change the workplace. He lives with his wife and two young sons in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA.
In this episode we discuss:
Hey, hey! It’s Andrea and welcome to the Voice of Influence podcast. Today, I have Wes Gay on the line. He’s somebody that has actually helped me with my own copy, which means the words that I’m using to try to figure out what it is exactly that I’m trying to say I do. I will talk about that a little bit more later.
Andrea: But Wes, it’s good to have you on the Voice of Influence podcast!
Wes Gay: Thanks, Andrea. I remember, it was five or six months ago when you and I first met and worked together. You already had the ideas for this podcast so it’s been really fun to watch and the last couple of months as it’s grown and you’ve got such great traction and had such great feedback. So I’m really excited for you. I’m glad to be on today.
Andrea: Well, thank you, and I appreciate your voice of influence for me. I always really appreciate that. That’s one of the things that I love about starting the podcast. I don’t know how long this will go. But so far, I’ve pretty much interviewed people that really have had an impact on me. So I’m just really glad that we could connect today. So Wes, why don’t you tell the listeners what exactly you’re up to? What are the different facets of your job, your career right now?
Wes Gay: Sure. So it really breaks down into three lanes, is the best way I can think to describe it. The first one is, and this is actually how Andrea and I met, through an organization called StoryBrand. I’m one of their certified copywriters as well as one of the certified guides. That means I help business owners and leaders and influential folks like Andrea use seven basic principles of storytelling to create a clear message so that they can resonate better with their customers and ultimately grow their business.
I’ve done it with both profit organizations in the billion-dollar range even down to, all the way, including different nonprofits, established ones and ones that have just launched out. So that’s the bulk of what I do, spending a lot of time on the phone or on video calls or helping people work, what exactly is their message? What are they trying to communicate? And how do we do it better so that they can help more people and serve more folks with the good products or services that they offer. So that’s the Lane One.
Lane Two, I am a Forbes.com contributor. I’m one of the paid writers for the Under 30 section, which means I specifically cover millennials. Typically, when I say the word millennials, I can just feel everybody’s eyes rolling. They’re like, “Oh gosh, we’re talking about millennials again.” I just sense it.
But what I specifically talk about is millennials in the workplace, how it’s kind of shifted the nature of workplace culture and benefits. I’ve talked to a lot of really interesting millennials who are leading some really interesting companies and doing great work. So that’s Lane Two.
Lane Three then is speaking. And the reason I separate Lane Three is because sometimes I speak on the marketing and the messaging side. Sometimes I speak on the millennials side. It just depends on who the audience is and what’s they’re asking for. But those are the three lanes or the three primary things that I do really every day.
Andrea: So do you see a connection or what is the connection for you between StoryBrand and the millennial message? Do you have a connection there in your mind?
Wes Gay: Yeah, it is. Rarely do those two lanes overlap. Nobody is really calling me to do StoryBrand for millennials, which is fine because it’s such a hard thing to do, because millennials are the largest generation in history. They’re the most diverse generation in history. So to try to pinpoint them down to any one overarching stereotype is impossible.
Andrea: Nobody wants to be thrown into a box like that.
Wes Gay: No, nobody does.
Andrea: Especially millennials.
Wes Gay: Oh gosh, you’re not kidding. I’m right in the middle of them so I get it. To me, the way it overlaps is StoryBrand is very consumer-focused. So what I’m trying to do is help people use a framework to create a clear message to communicate to their consumers, because that’s how they grow their company. Now, in the Forbes side, what I’m discovering is that companies needed to do a better job, and they’re doing a better job of communicating their story to their employees.
So at the end of the day, it’s two different side of storytelling. It’s an external story. What are we telling the people who we want to buy our product or services? And then it’s also an internal story. What do we want the story of our company to be so that we can engage, specifically millennials, because that’s what I talk about, but it’s also because this is the largest generation in history. It already represents a third of the American workforce. It will represent half of the American workforce in just a few years.
One of the individuals I’ve gone and talked to is the Chief Human Resources officer at Hilton. They have 350,000 employees worldwide. And Hilton projects within the next three years that 75% of the entire workforce will be millennial. That’s unheard of to have that many people… I mean, I’m from public school so I’m a little slow in doing that kind of math. I have to use my calculator.
That’s over 260,000 people who are going to be within a 20-years span and age. So how does Hilton communicate who they are and tell their stories and company in a way that engages and really recruits and retains the top talent so that they can continue to grow their company? So it’s two different sides of the story, one is internal and one is external.
Andrea: Thank you for tying all that altogether.
Wes Gay: You’re welcome.
Andrea: Okay. So I do want to come back to StoryBrand because that’s how I got connected with you in the first place, and I’m definitely a fan. But also part of this podcast, the reason why we’re doing it is because I want people to know that people that are in the space of “I’m doing what I feel called to do based on my gifting,” which is where you’re at right now. How did you get to that point?
Because so many of us grew up thinking that we needed to go to college and then we needed to go get a job. And then we kind of get stuck in this rut of being in maybe a job that doesn’t fit, or that sort of thing. Or maybe we feel a different kind of calling in our lives. So I’m really curious, Wes, what was the switch for you? When did you start moving in this direction?
Wes Gay: The general answer is by accident. I’m not one of these guys who’s like, “Hey, you can take my course to follow me to your dream career path.” I have no any idea what that is. So my journey is pretty simple. My dad has been a worship pastor in Southern Baptist Churches for about 35 years, and he’s still doing it. He’s probably going to step into eternity as soon as the choir special is done one Sunday. That’s probably how he’s going to go. My mom said on Easter Sunday, he looked at his Apple watch after the choir sang and his heart was like 108 or something crazy, because he just gets so excited about that.
So I grew up in that world. I grew up in church. I went to a Christian college. I started working in churches while in college and then after that I spent about 10 or 11 years working in churches and nonprofits in all kinds of roles. But they typically wound up in marketing and communications even though I have a music undergrad degree, which is totally pointless. I’m never going to get paid to do music ever again, but I’m one of those people who has a degree.
So I started, I thought, “Well, this is where I feel I’m good at.” I’ve always known the church world and I’ve always lived in that space. Then when I was in college, I was in a couple of music groups, scholarship groups that performed in churches all over the southeast, really. So we were in some of the biggest churches every weekend.
So that’s the world I was very familiar with and I thought, “Well, I need to go serve the local church.” So I left college, started working for a nonprofit about a year then went and served. Got involved with the local church doing marketing and communications, because that’s just where my mind went and that’s just was my natural bend.
Andrea: How did you know that? How did you know that your mind just went there?
Wes Gay: I just did. Like for me, it was a bit intuitive. And you talk about millennials getting pigeonholed. I got pigeonholed a lot because my dad… we grew up in a small churches, so when I was in like eighth grade, as I say I was voluntold into media ministry because my dad was over that. He’s the music guy. So I started doing the media production stuff in like eighth grade.
And I’ve always been interested. I’m a tech guy. I love gizmos and gadgets and all that stuff. So I always just had a natural bend for it. So what wound up happening a lot is, early on, I got stuck in this media role of production. So like how do you plan a service? How do you make sure the lights are working? Get the sound right, and all this really highly technical stuff that I knew how to do.
But for me it was one of those things that I could do it but I would be exhausted and just completely wiped out when I got done. And it wasn’t interesting day to day. I just dreaded when I had to go do it. I could do it, and I do pretty good at it, I just hated it. So I got pigeonholed in that space and tried to get out.
So one of the ways, I ended up going to another church, eventually, and doing a similar thing – media. Then I kind of took over communications. Because, again, just for whatever reason, my natural kind of bent is towards how do you communicate things. How do you make things clear? I’m not really a fluff guy so when you talk about in the space of copywriting, I’m way more in the direct response space. I’m just not with the fluff. And so we just drive right at it.
So I would notice anytime I would preach or anytime I would lead a marketing meeting or communications meeting, people would always affirm me. But when I would do production, when I would run a video shoot, when I would plan a Sunday service, when I would get graphics done, ,all that kind of stuff, they would always compliment the product.
Andrea: Oh, I like that. It’s a really interesting observation.
Wes Gay: So I realized, like the last church I was at, I was the media guy but we went over a year without a senior pastor. We run about 1500 on Sundays. So like in most the churches, the Sunday after Thanksgiving when nobody is there anyway. So I’m like, “Well, somebody’s gotta preach because we still have to have church. Hey, Wes, you’re here why don’t…” They go “Wes that was a great video,” or, “That looks great,” or, “That XYZ was great. I really appreciate that.”
I started to realize that dichotomy of, okay, the things that people are personally affirming me on or the things that actually energize me, I can do them all day long. Yeah, I’m tired but I’m not drained, and those are two are different things. So once I started to realize that more and more, I thought, well, this is actually what I’m pretty good at. I began to get really comfortable with it and say, you know what? Because I’m good at this, I also am not good at these things, and started to delineate where I’m good and where I’m not.
Andrea: Okay, you were pigeonholed into doing media and what not. Did you ever feel guilt over the fact that you didn’t want to do that? Because I think some people do. I think some people are like, “Oh I’m in this thing. I’m doing this way. I’m doing the right thing. I’m supposed to be here, but I really don’t want to be here, but I should be here because…” And they kind of end up with really a martyr kind of complex, “I shouldn’t enjoy what I’m doing.”
Wes Gay: I never felt that way. I always felt frustrated because, again, I thought I’m doing the things I feel like I’m supposed to be doing, or I feel like I’m taking the steps I’m supposed to take. I’m just making the progress I think I should make. So like in the middle of all that, in January of 2014, I started doing Seminary Online, thinking what if I get a masters degree? That will help me break out of this rut of the media guy and tech boy who everybody thinks all I can contribute is changing batteries on a microphone, or I’m the guy that gets yelled at on Sunday, or beat up Monday morning because the guitar was too loud or whatever.
So I thought, that’s not me at all. I don’t enjoy that. And my personality is not bent to really thrive in that environment. I went to seminary distance degree for two years, and really flew through it. I thought, well, this is the next step. But I just kept getting frustrated. And I would be told by different leadership, “Hey, if you do these things then you can move in the roles that are better fit for you.”
Again, in the comparison trap of 2017 and before with social media, I’d see all these friends of mine, they were doing what they wanted to do. This is exactly what they say it in college that they were going to go do now they’re doing it. So for me, it was more like frustration and annoyance in like, “Why not me?” I didn’t really ever feel guilty about it. I just got annoyed with it.
Which ultimately led to, we had a really… unfortunately, for your listeners who don’t know this, there’s a lot of bad experiences that can happen in churches, and we had a really bad one in the church staff, which put me on an opportunity to take a different path, and say, “Okay, God, where are we going next? What is our next step? Where do we need to go?” That eventually led us to StoryBrand.
I’ve been reading down on Miller’s books for 15 years, or whenever Blue Like Jazz first came out. In fact, when clients do a video call with me now, I’ve actually got two of his books on the shelf behind me. It was pure accident, but I realized that one day when I was on a client call.
But I’ve always been a fan of his work, always been a fan of his writing. I was a big fan of the StoryBrand process when I started hearing about it even when I was on the church staff. Then I went and I thought, you know what? I think this is the next step.
So I took the plunge, made the investment in a copywriter certification and that’s opened up doors I would never even imagine. I mean, sometimes I sit back and go, “This is a little ridiculous because I’m a guy with a church background from the seminary and I got, literally, one of my clients is like $1.4 billion-a-year company, and they’re asking me all kinds of marketing questions. And they’ve got people who have been at some of the top brands on the planet on their marketing team. They’re looking at me like I’m the expert. So I now have to be the expert.
So it’s crazy how it’s… and again, I’m not going to run Facebook ads and say, “Here are seven steps to find your true path for life,” because I don’t know. I’m still kind of in the middle of that myself. But to see how it’s pivoted and even my church experience is a huge asset to me now in the space I’m in. And you know, as you were growing up, when you’re in that space, you’re very much on the frontline, so to speak.
You’re constantly dealing with people, but you’re also serving people and helping people and that’s kind of your bend. So it’s that mindset and mentality that’s so natural for me, because that’s the world I came out of, it’s been a huge asset for me in the marketing space. Whether and regardless of faith background, it’s just the mentality of how you approach and serve.
So one thing I would tell your audience is, if you’re frustrated in where you are now because you don’t really feel like that’s where you’re supposed to be, at least figure out what can you take away from where you are now and what are you learning that can help you in the future. For me, it was how do I interact with and approach and deal and serve my clients? That’s a lot of my perspective on that comes from by background in the church.
Now, could I go back to that one day? Not production, heaven help me. Nobody wants to pay me money to do that anymore. But it’s that mentality and kind of those things that I learned, and all that process that I think really has helped me get to where I am on the journey today.
Andrea: You know, I see a thread and I had a theory before I started this podcast, but I definitely see the thread that people are often drawn to and are able to move down a path toward perhaps their calling after something really difficult happens. A lot of times, it’s that pain point that really moves them and gives them that permission or sets them on that path where they’re like, “No. No. Now, I need to really figure this out.” It sounds like it happened to you too.
Wes Gay: It did. And where I’m at now, I’m only 30, I turned 30 a few months ago, and I said for years, even right out of college, I was serving in a nonprofit that worked with a lot of churches all over the country. And even at 22/23 I thought, you know what? One day, I wanna be able to serve a lot of churches, because I grew up in it. I’ve seen the good, bad, and the ugly. I mean, I know all sides of it and I thought, I wanna be in a place… But like most people, I thought, well, I’m not old enough yet. Like the people who are doing that are in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I’m 22/23.
So now, I have the opportunity to be of a voice of influence to people who are older than me. But because of my experience already and the things I’ve gone through and the things I’ve kind of watched and observations and some opportunities I’ve been able to have so, already, I’m now able to do that much sooner than I ever thought I would.
So for those of your audience who’s younger, I would say two things. One, don’t discredit where you’re at in your own journey because you can be more influential than you realize. And two, and I was going to say this earlier, everybody gets frustrated in your 20’s. So it’s not a uniquely millennial problem. Everybody who’s ever been in their 20’s have been frustrated about their life and career at some point.
But what I finally realized one day is that, I was about like 25/26. Lord willing, with good health, I’ve probably got 40, 45, or more years of fulltime work in me easy, maybe longer because I don’t know that I could really be fully retired. That sounds miserable and boring to me. So I thought at that point, I have almost double of what I’ve lived so far left in potential working years. So if I don’t hit that job in a year or so that I really want, I’m okay. Like I’ve got 40 or 50 more years to figure this out, so I just need to calm down and just keep pushing forward and then keep taking opportunities where they come.
Andrea: Sounds good advice for yourself.
Wes Gay: Yeah.
Andrea: So Wes, how long ago was it that you went to the StoryBrand workshop? Because I think now we should probably give some context for that and explain even what StoryBrand is.
Wes Gay: Yeah. I went to StoryBrand with what they call the copywriter certification in late October 2016. I didn’t realize that I actually had been a copywriter. I just didn’t realize that’s what I did. The easiest way to define a copywriter was the definition for over a little hundred years ago which says, “You’re a salesman in print.” What that means is you’re trying to write words, write phrases and create a message that will sell somebody on something.
So like in the churches, I was trying to sell people on the ideas that we were talking about, whether in sermons, or I was trying to sell people the idea of coming to our events, or getting involved in our small groups, or whatever it was. I was trying to convince them of something by what I was writing. So I already had that skill set. I just didn’t realize, I didn’t have a way to define it.
So I went to the copywriter workshop because people were going to StoryBrand and saying, “Hey, I now know what my company’s message is. I know how to talk to my customers. I’m just not a good writer. And when I write it, it sounds terrible, so can you help me?” So they created a certification.
StoryBrand, I guess like you said to give a context to that is a workshop created by a guy named Donald Miller. He’s got six or seven, I should know the number. It’s six or seven New York Times Bestselling Books under his belt. He’s been a writer for 15 or 20 years. His stuff is great. In fact, one of my favorite books of all time, and he doesn’t pay me to say this, but one of my favorite books of all time is called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Have you read that one?
Andrea: I haven’t read that one.
Wes Gay: It actually points to the origins of StoryBrand if you read it. It’s fascinating and such a well-written book. It will really change your perspective on a lot of life. I read it seven or eight years ago. But anyway, StoryBrand takes the seven basic principles of storytelling and walks businesses and leaders through it to create a clear message where your customer is the focus of your marketing so that you can tell them that you can communicate how you solve the problems that they face.
So an easy example is think of all these dumb infomercials that are on TV. When they talk about the features and benefits, it’s always about, “Are you frustrated by X? Are you tired of shedding tears when you chop an onion?” Well, yeah I am, actually. “Well, we have the No-Tears Onion Chopper Matic 3000,” and you’re like, “I need the No-Tears Onion Chopper Matic 3000 now because I don’t wanna shed tears when I cut onions, because I shouldn’t have to.” Because they’re now marketing in a way that it says, “This is a problem I have. They understand my problem and they can fix my problem.” That’s when customers engage.
I help companies take their message and turn it into websites and email copy and other marketing collateral they need. Then fast forward to April 2017, I became one of the first StoryBrand certified guides. So I’m one of about 35 folks that StoryBrand has spent about five days in Nashville, Tennessee. StoryBrand has certified us to be able to work as coaches and consultants with people who have either gone through StoryBrand or just familiar with it.
So I’ve got one lady, for example, who’s doing weight loss coaching for busy career women. I’ve got one client that does high-end security camera installs in the southeast. I’ve got clients covering all the spectrum, but what I do is I literally just walk them through these basic principles and we just keep talking about it and try to find and dig into as much as clarity as we can to help them find the message that’s going to resonate best with their audience. Because what I want to do deep down is I want to help good people tell better stories so that they can grow their business and be more generous with the ones around them.
I don’t want to help jerks. I almost helped a jerk a few months ago and didn’t realize it, until about a week ago. I found out the guy he actually hired told me that the guy I thought I was going to work with turned out to be a jerk. I was like, “Well, I’m glad I didn’t work with him because then I’d wasted my time and that wouldn’t have really fulfilled my purpose. I wanna help good people tell better stories so they can grow their business and be more generous with the ones around them.”
Andrea: That’s good. I like your…what do you call that? For me, I would call that a core message, but I mean…
Wes Gay: Yeah. Simon Sinek calls it your ‘why’ or your purpose or your vision, and that’s not something I started with. I think sometimes, we get in this mood of, “If I’m gonna do something, I’ve got to define my purpose from Day 1.” I didn’t. And finally, it was like six, seven months in, I thought, I don’t know that I’ve ever done this. So I sat down one day and started thinking about why do I like doing this so much. Not like the actual work itself but deeper than that. What is it I’m most excited about when I do this every day? And that’s what I came up with.
Andrea: Yeah, I like that a lot. So how does that phrase or that sentence help you? What does it do for you in the way that you approach your business and life?
Wes Gay: So in my business, I want to work with good people. I feel like I’m pretty good at sensing who’s somebody I really want to spend time talking to, because in my work, I spend a lot of time talking to my clients. So I want to have somebody who’s really good at what they do and they’re great people, like they’re somebody I’d want to have lunch with or somebody I’d want to hang out with for a little bit. The old Road Trip Test. Do you want to take a 4 or more hour road trip with them?
And then how do I help them tell a better story. They’ve got a good product, they’ve got a good service, they’ve got a good message, they’ve got a good opportunity but they just need a little help getting across the line. They have it in them, I just need to help them get to where they want to go. When you do that well then you’re able to grow your business, and I tell people all the time, like this is going to sound so basic, boring, whatever. Sometimes people think it sounds bad. But some people think when I say this, they think it’s not good. And really what my job is is to help people make money, period.
And I tell people that sometimes and they’re taken aback, especially people with faith backgrounds. Like it’s not a bad thing to make money, it’s what you do with it is what matters. What I want to do is help people make more money so they can be more generous with those around them, whether it’s generous to their employees, whether it’s generous with their family, generous with their friends, generous with charitable organizations that’s what it is, because that’s what I want in my own life. I want to be able to give more and help those around me more than I could in the past. So if I can grow my business by telling about our story then I can be more generous with those in my life.
Andrea: Yeah, it’s like there’s an immediate goal, which is making more money, but it has a greater purpose in order to be able to be more generous.
Wes Gay: Yeah. And money is not a bad thing. Money just gives you opportunities, opportunities to do good stuff or opportunities to do bad stuff. Money is amoral. It’s just what you do with it is what makes it good or bad.
Andrea: Why do people come to you to work with you about this? I mean, are most of the people that you work with, are they people that have already gone through the StoryBrand program? Now, that you’re a certified guide, you can just teach them the process as well?
Wes Gay: Yeah, so people who I typically work with are somewhat… maybe they’ve gone through the StoryBrand workshop or they’re somewhat familiar with it. So for example, Donald Miller in the StoryBrand process is really well known in the Dave Ramsey circles with the EntreLeadership and all that.
So I work with a few people who are familiar with the StoryBrand but haven’t gone through it. So I kind of walk them through it. I don’t actually teach them the seven principles but I’ll help them create the message they need by just asking them a ton of questions. I mean, I spent two hours on a video call last week with a lawyer in Texas talking about his practice. And I don’t know… all my understanding of the legal industry is when I used to watch Law and Order marathons, so it’s not accurate at all.
But I had to dive into his business, his customers, people he serves, how he grows his business, what his message is, what’s resonates, all the stuff. So now I’m going to create some messaging for him that would then turn into a website. Just about everybody I work with has either gone through StoryBrand or is familiar with it in some way. I’ve decided, and I’ve gotten really comfortable with saying, you know what? I’m just not going to work with people who aren’t familiar with it, because I have to explain to them the value of it.
Andrea: Right, you don’t want to sell it.
Wes Gay: I don’t. And the beauty of it is the StoryBrand has done so much marketing with their podcast and some of the other things, a lot of the kinds of people I want to work with are already familiar with it.
Like Donald Miller talked about StoryBrand in an event in May with a 100,000 people simulcast worldwide. There’s plenty of people in that space who are going to come and need somebody. If they talk to me, that’s probably the kind of person I want to work with because they’re going to be a good person. They’re not going to be like trying to sell… I don’t know. I’m trying to think of something that’s not good. They’re not trying to sell more drugs or not trying to sell you, traffic more guns across the border. Like they’re doing good work and they’ve got good solutions that people need that can help their lives and I can help them do that.
Andrea: That’s exactly the reason why I came to you because I took the StoryBrand course about two years ago now. My husband and I went down to Nashville and we went through the whole thing. At that time, I really was totally and clear about what my message even was. I think that was something that I didn’t realize that I needed to clarify before coming to the process, before coming to the framework. I didn’t even know exactly what my calling was or what I was trying to accomplish. So for the next year and a half…well, I actually used the StoryBrand framework to help me write my book. That was helpful.
Wes Gay: Yeah. Great book, by the way. I read on a plane to LA earlier this year, and that was great.
Andrea: Thank you so much! It really means a lot to me that you took the time to do that. I don’t know why, but I still feel surprised when people say that they’ve read it. Isn’t that funny?
Wes Gay: You should because it’s really good.
Andrea: Thank you. I think it was better because I had gone through this process, because I had an idea of the StoryBrand elements. So I think that that really made a difference. But then it really became a question for me what is it exactly that I’m trying to accomplish here? What is my “why”? What is my core message? And what am I really trying to help people do, and all that sort of thing?
So that’s when I came to you. I had an idea of something. We kind of worked it through. Then I thought we had something and then you came back to me a couple of weeks later and said, “I read your book. I think you need to change things a little bit and focus more on this writing thing.” I was like, oh man, I really appreciated that feedback and just the process and working with you. So thank you for that.
Wes Gay: You’re welcome.
Andrea: So how did you get involved in Forbes? How did you get to the point where you’re actually writing for them?
Wes Gay: So I first heard from Forbes a little over a year ago. I got an email from one of their editors at the Under 30 section and they had just launched the Under 30 section to focus on millennials six months before. So I had written a few pieces for a blog site that’s somewhat popular. The young lady who runs it is pretty influential in the millennial conversation nationally.
So I’d written a few things there. They had seen my work and said, “Hey, would you write a guest post?” And I thought, well, that is the easiest yes of all time. So I did and then I wrote another one, and then it opened to more conversations about being one of their contributors because they were trying to build that section up and were looking for contributors.
So I think I brought a little bit different perspective. I’m not the typical voice in the millennial conversation. Most people who are millennials like me will say, “You know, millennials is the greatest generation ever and old people are dumb and just get out of the way because you messed everything up and we’re just going to fix it all.” Just like “I’m a millennial. Hear me roar,” kind of thing which is complete and utter nonsense.
And then you have the other end of the spectrum who tends to be the older crowd who says, “Well, you bunch of kids just sit down. You’re terrible. You just clean, you just wipe, you just polish your participation trophies and sit down.”
Well, that’s not really true either. We fall more in the middle and so I tend to be a bit of a contrarian voice to a lot of the nonsense that’s out there. I know some of your listeners who are business leaders and business owners and managers and all that. You’ve probably read millions, seemingly, articles about millennials and most of them are just fluff.
Andrea: And what is fluff about them?
Wes Gay: It’s bad data. That’s the biggest one. Everybody has got a study they can cite, but most of the studies, when you actually read them, are incomplete or inaccurate. I read one a few months ago in a really reputable business site. The headline said, “Millennials would delete the phone app instead of SnapChat.” And I thought, well, that’s not true. Let me read it.
So I read the article and the actual data said like a third of millennials 18-24, so college students, use SnapChat more than their phone app. So if they had to delete one or the other, they would delete SnapChat. I thought well, that is completely and utterly misleading. And any leader who just sees that headline thinks they need to go all-in on the SnapChat strategy, for example, to reach millennials when they’re just talking about college students. They’re not talking about those of us who have kids and who’ve had to test drive a minivan.
You know, 50 million millennials in this country are between 27 and 37, so everything that comes with that stage of life going into your 30’s is who the millennials really are, more so than anything else now. And so a lot of it is people I know. It’s just basically is that they’re to get clicks, they’re trying to drive traffic, they’re trying to be the next big thing to something to go viral, and a lot of it is not just true.
When I talk to leaders in companies, what’s said online is not what they believe. It’s also not what they see in their own companies. These are not like Mom & Pop shops of eight people. These are companies of 10, 20, 50, 100, 400,000 people who are telling me this. So when it comes to generational issues, a lot of it is overplayed, a lot of it is nonsense. What we’ve done is we’ve confused what I call these principles of humanities, like everybody struggles with entitlement.
If you go back to the gospels in the Bible, in what had James and John asked Jesus in the last days of His life, “Hey, Jesus, which one of us gets to sit at your right hand?” If that doesn’t reek of entitlement, I don’t what does. A participation trophy for Little League is not entitlement. So that’s part of the problem. I think for too long we’ve had the wrong conversation and nobody is changing the conversation yet, but it’s starting to shift.
I think what we’re seeing in the millennial conversation is people are getting more clear on what they’re actually talking about. They’re realizing a lot of it is nonsense and a lot of it is just really, really unhelpful. I think data is great because a lot of the stuff I write is driven on data, but it’s good data from valid sources. It’s not like Jimmy Dandy’s Jerky Shop saying, “52% of millennials prefer beef jerky.” Well, yeah, he’s trying to sell beef jerky, so of course he’s going to say that.
Some of the most reputable organizations in the world are saying, “Hey, we’ve surveyed tens of thousands of people, here’s the data we’ve come back with.” Okay, that makes sense. So again, I feel like I’m going back to high school, just check your sources. That’s the biggest thing _____ when reading about millennials.
Andrea: Right. That’s really interesting. I think that there are a number of people listening, so the Influencer that’s listening right now is probably somebody who wants to dig into a conversation and wants to see a conversation shift, like you’re talking about wanting to see this millennial conversation shift. How do you see your voice contributing to the shift of that and what kind of advice would you have for other people that are wanting to shift conversations?
Wes Gay: Yeah, I can only speak from my perspective. So my perspective is not that of a millennial living in… and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. So I’m not living in midtown Atlanta in a loft taking Uber everywhere and not owning a car. I live in the suburbs. We have a fenced-in yard. We have a dog. We have two kids. We drive SUVs. So I can only speak from my perspective, So because of where I sit, and I understand it’s an incomplete view, but I also understand in my specific instance, I can speak from where I sit because it is a rapidly expanding perspective for my generation.
So I can start talking about these things and point out things and people go, “Oh, yeah, you’re right.” There is a big difference between older and younger millennials, for example. A lot of older millennials now are parents, so we are different. Half of our phones have apps that are like kids’ books and drawing games and racing games and farm animal games and all that as opposed to the latest social media network that’s out.
So what I’ve done is I have decided, okay, this is where I sit. This is what I see is based on where I live every single day. So because I understand I have that lens, I just start talking to through that lens. What happens is, inevitably, you’re going to attract people who already feel what you’re saying. They just don’t have the way necessarily to say it. You’re giving them the language from your voice, you’re literally putting words in their mouth to help them understand what they’re seeing and the frustrations they have.
I do this thing every now and then on Facebook where I’ll have a statement that says, “Younger millennial” and then some goofy thing that somebody in their early 20’s says. And I’ll say “Older millennial” this is what somebody in their 30’s would say. For example, a younger millennials says, “I have 10 pairs of fake glasses because it helps me with my Instagram image.” An older millennial says, “Hey, did you know Costco now has their own brand of contacts?” Which is what I said about three months ago when I “discovered” Costco had their own brand of contacts, I was really excited how cheap they were.
So I’ve gotten countless messages from people, which started as a joke. I did it almost every week. Where people are engaging with that and they’re resonating with it because it’s helping them process and understand things from their own perspective in a way that they didn’t know how to say it. So I would say, if you’re trying to shift the conversation, I would love to say, first, make sure that conversation is shifting. I have verified my perspective with other people that I respect who are also in this space who say, “Yeah, I do see these trends happening.”
Then also Facebook is the best way on the planet to test those ideas. You don’t have to go on to blog. You don’t have to on to a bunch of content. Start putting some things on your Facebook posts a couple of times a week to kind of share your perspective as you’re trying to shift the conversation and see what conversation happens around your voice and around your perspective and then go from there.
If people are resonating with it, if people are engaging with it, if people are saying, “Yeah, you know, you’re right.” If you’re getting direct messages, private messages that say, “You know what, I really appreciate you saying that because that’s exactly what I felt. I thought I was the only one who felt that way, or I didn’t necessarily know how to say it.” So that’s where I would start. Just start giving little drops of your opinion or your perspective on Facebook and then see how it resonates with people and the more it resonates then see how you can expand that conversation, whether through a blog or a YouTube channel or whatever it is.
Andrea: That’s great advice, because I can definitely attest to the fact that I also, that’s exactly how I got started in, truly, Facebook. It was the exactly same thing. I was like, well, I’m just going to start throwing out some ideas on Facebook and just see how this lands. And start actually putting my voice out there in a way. Even though it was just an experiment, it still was really hard for me. And I don’t know that it is for everybody, but for me it was a little intimidating, because if I put my voice out there, what are people going to think, and that sort of thing. But the more that I had people messaging me and saying things like, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never been able to say it like that but that’s exactly what I was thinking.”
Wes Gay: Yeah, because if you are an Influencer, you’re helping people live better, do better, be better, whatever it is. How are you trying to help them by the problem you solve for yourself or the problems that you can’t solve based on your skills and experience?
Facebook is great way because it’s a community of people that you should know, unless you’ve added friends you don’t know. But it’s people who are going to probably support you. You’re not going to get bombarded with a ton of trolls. And it’s people who are going to be honest and say, “Yeah, that makes total sense,” or “I get it.” The best part is it’s free. You can do it anywhere.
I mean, Facebook is a great testing ground to make sure that your perspective and how… like if you what to shift the conversation, to make sure that that is a conversation that is indeed shifting and you’re going to be one of the ones leading that direction.
Andrea: I like that a lot. Okay, so one last question about the millennial thing. I’ve heard about this generation crossover…
Wes Gay: I’ve heard people call them “cuspers”. My favorite one is people who say like me, born in the ‘80s, we call ourselves Generation Oregon Trail, because we played the game as kids. But I’ve read all that kind of stuff. What it really boils down to is we have played up the generational distinctions a little too much. Again, it goes back to there are certain things that everybody wants because they’re human, but the difference with millennials that nobody has really quantified well is how technology has changed everything, and how the sheer size of the generation has changed everything.
For example, Generation X, there’s like 60 to 65 million people in that generation so the generation out from millennials. Depending who you read, there’s anywhere between 85 and 92 million millennials in the U.S. So literally, you’re talking anywhere from 20 to 32 million people difference between back-to-back generations. All of those people hit the workforce about the same time as with the millennials. So you have these massive waves so problems get magnified, right?
So if you have a light rain in your house, you don’t have any idea you have a roof leak. But when you have a massive thunderstorm, you know really fast when you have a leak. So millennials hit the workplace, it’s more like a thunderstorm because there’s so many at one time. So that’s the numbers game. And then technology has changed everything too. I mean, we know the digital world has changed our lives but what we forget is that we grow up in a middle school, high school, and college with the device that came out 10 years ago called the iPhone and where we said, “Hey, you can tell the world everything that’s going on in your life. Do Facebook and Twitter. They’re still brand new. Nobody will understand it yet. So just live your life.” And we did and we lived out the immaturity of our adolescence before the world. And then it shaped us as a generation in ways that I don’t think anybody has really seen the full impacts yet.
But yeah, I’ve read about generational crossover. Again, I think part of me that’s the cynical side of me says it’s somebody trying to drive clicks and drive traffic. But I do think there’s some validity there because anybody that I’ve talked to who’s over 30 for Forbes, they’ve all been like, “Well, I’m not really sure if I’m a millennial. I just don’t know. I just can’t…” You know, they give me that runaround. Because most of the millennial conversation is about a 23-year-old selling essential oils in a coffee shop, not like 34-year-old marketing director or senior vice president, or whatever.
Andrea: Yeah. It seems like everybody is wanting an answer to why people are the way that they are.
Wes Gay: Good luck!
Andrea: And they’re always looking for something like this generation gap and what not to explain things. Then I think we often then just sort of push away the actual mess of trying to understand the other person. So we just kind of put it in these categories. But if we were to dig down and just ask how are we, like you said, there’s these fundamental things that we want as human beings. And if we can tap into those and speak to those then we’re going to be able to speak to anybody.
Wes Gay: Yeah, if you want to solve the generation problem at your workplace, or with anybody you know that’s of a different generation, spend $10, take them to lunch, and just get to know them. It’s that simple. It really is.
Andrea: Yeah. Oh, that’s good. Well, Wes, thank you so much for taking time to share your story and your expertise with us here today. Where can the Influencers listening find you?
Wes Gay: You can go to my website. It’s wesgay.com. And if they go to wesgay.com/voi, that’s for Voice of Influence, I’ll have some more information about StoryBrand and then also a special offer for your listeners as well to help them clarify the message so that they can increase their influence.
Andrea: That’s awesome! Thank you so much for that. And we can find you on Twitter and Facebook, I know.
Wes Gay: Yeah. You can find me on Twitter, it’s just @wesgay. I’m totally unoriginal. And then I’m on Facebook. I think I’m facebook.com/wesgay. On LinkedIn, I’m Wes Gay. On Instagram, I’m Wes Gay. And I’m not on SnapChat. So there you go.
Andrea: Not on SnapChat. Okay. Perfect.
Wes Gay: I tried it, got tired of it.
Andrea: All right. Well, thank you so much!
Wes Gay: You’re welcome.