A short story from the mountains about how removing drag can be more effective than increasing power. Many times we could improve our life by cleaning up the things we do that actively damage ourselves: eating poorly, drinking too much, complaining, remaining angry, holding grudges, positioning myself as a victim.
A big part of Vistage group meetings is working through a CEO’s challenges and helping them get clarity about how they can move forward with their business and their life.
We often find that the biggest obstacle to forward progress is not outside of us, but inside of us.
There are 4 fatal fears.
We also call these “Core Self-Limiting Beliefs”. They are learnt. We are not born with these fears. There are only 2 fear that we are born with: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Every other fear has been learnt. (This does not make them less real or easier to deal with).
These 4 fears will drive a grasping towards something that will never fill me. If I am looking for completion outside of myself, I will never scratch my itch. I need to learn to be able to sit with my fear and anxiety and accept it and accept that I am human and imperfect.
Fear of Failure – “I Need Success”
Fear of Rejection – “I Need Acceptance”
Fear of Emotional Discomfort – “I Need Emotional Comfort”
Fear of Being Wrong – “I Need to Be Right”
Each of the fears can be accepted and allowed to exist within me. They will never go away. They will always be there, but I can accept them and not allow them to direct my actions and my words.
“Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life.”
Imagine being paid well to travel the world and share your message with people that want to hear you speak?
If something in that question resonates, this post might be helpful.
Today, over 50% of my income comes from delivering keynote speeches and workshops to industry conferences and corporate leadership teams. It has taken over 16 years from my earliest free speeches towards a career where I can live from speaking. I have delivered over 2,500 hours of keynotes and workshops to over 50,000 participants.
In terms of quality, my recent 100 hours of speaking are astronomically better than those first 100 hours… but everyone has to begin. How do you begin?
How to get paid to speak…
1. Become an Expert.
Your fees depend more on you being (and perceived) as an expert than on how well you actually speak.
Maybe you can be paid well even if you don’t master anything, but if you are not on the path to mastery… I personally would rather you stayed home. If you are planning on being paid to speak, make a deep and lasting commitment towards true mastery.
There are 3 types of Expert speaker.
The 3 Paths of Expert Mastery:
The Result Expert – Proven ability to get specific results for others eg Toni Nadal, Marshall Goldsmith, Tony Robbins
The Research Expert – Has interviewed performers and has a deep knowledge of tools, strategies and tactics in an area eg Michael Porter, Jim Collins
The Role Model – Has been successful eg Jack Welsh, Barrack Obama, Casey Neistat
A well paid speaker needs to be seen as a thought leader. The classic path is to write and publish a book, but in today’s world there are new paths: build a large youtube, instagram, or blog following. Pick one and start producing thought. I suggest that you use your blog not for sharing expert articles, but sharing your learning journey. When you write expert articles, it is much more valuable to submit them to highly credible sites (depends on your segment, but for me this would be HBR, Forbes, Inc, FT, Big Think).
3 Actions that The Best experts regularly do
Interview other experts looking for patterns and best practice; building your connections and reputation in this important community.
Create arguments based on 4 parts:
What we should Pay attention to
What things Mean
How things work
What might happen
Simplify complex ideas with frameworks
Are you on a path towards being a true expert? Have you chosen whether you are a results expert, a research expert or a role model? Good… now we move to step 2.
Speak Lots and lots…
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
This blog is full of material about speaking well so I will not repeat. Some good articles on speaking well:
Learn directly from expert speakers. Rather than paying for a course on public speaking, pay to go and see well paid expert speakers deliver their keynotes. I learn more watching how a great speaker plans, prepares, delivers, follows up than by reading books or courses on speaking. In february I asked Luis Soares Costa to run a retreat for Vistage. I watched how he interviewed me, how he clarified what we needed and what we could do… I travelled with him the day before and watched how he prepared the room and himself for the 2 day retreat. I learnt more watching what he did and how he did it than by asking him for tips.
Here are 5 ideas for those who wish to make speaking a profession:
5 Advanced Tips for turning Pro as a Speaker
Model the Greats. Bill Clinton modeled himself as a speaker on President Kennedy, even down to the gestures and word choice. YouTube and TED have great examples. Personally, I spent years modelling my approach to speaking on the style of Jim Rohn and the delivery of Alan Watts. The idea is not to copy, but to clarify what works and how to make it work for you.
Practice Every Day. Make selfie videos. Every single day. (Here’s my 10 week email course Speaking As a Leader). Join Toastmasters, give speeches to the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, Lions… Teaching at a university (IESE Business School) and delivering workshops at entrepreneur accelerator programs (for free) were how I got my first 500 hours of speaking experience.
Practice what is hard, not what you find easy. If you are naturally charismatic and go with the flow… practice deep structure; if you are analytical and structured, practice improv. In Aikido they believe that your early strength will become a weakness if you are not disciplined. I personally still work hard on structure and ensuring a consistent delivery of my content to all audiences.
Deliver Emotion. Emotions are power. Nobody will ask you back because you were the most analytical and correct speaker, they will ask you back because you made everybody feel strong emotions (and they can see it is predictable… nobody will recommend you if they don’t know 100% that you will deliver the same emotional impact every time). If you struggle to deliver emotional content and create deep connection with an audience, start to work on yourself. If you can deeply connect to emotion and to your own inner struggle, you can then begin to connect to others. It may take psychotherapy, it make take mastermind groups with personal development angles… but you must get deeply connected with your own internal emotional life.
Focus your Speaking Topics. If you speak about anything to any audience, you will destroy your value. It is hard to say no, especially when you haven’t been paid for a few months – but each time you dilute, you die a little. A powerful brand is best defined what what it will not do, than what it will. Apple will never make toothbrushes… and if they do, sell the stock immediately.
Build your Reputation
…with the people that matter.
Be very careful who you take feedback and praise from. Only other speakers and people who pay for speakers count. Do not rely on friends, toastmaster club mates, family. They will tell you what you want to hear, not what you need to hear.
The best speaker referrals are other great expert speakers. When a conference has success with a speaker, they will ask that speaker to come back. They will also ask that speaker for recommendations. When another speaker gives your name as a referral, this is the most powerful marketing. I get more opportunities from other professional speakers than from any other source. Build a good reputation with this group.
Testimonials and Articles on high Credibility sites
A blog is interesting, but it is not a path to expert credibility. Articles on Forbes, HBR, Inc are more valuable than articles posted on your own blog.
Testimonials from conference organisers, other professional speakers and people who have paid you are the most valuable resource for credibility.
Put some of your speaking on YouTube. It is such a powerful tool to share your message, and in a format that people can see your quality.
Long Term: Become “The” Expert
It is not enough to be an expert, you must become known as the expert. Some people become “The” expert – their name is so closely linked to a category that an event is not “The” event if they are not speaking. Jim Collins has built that level of personal brand in the business leadership category. Marshall Goldsmith in the business coaching category, Tony Robbins in the personal development category. They can multiply their fees by 100 because their name alone sells half the tickets.
My good friend Raul Aguirre’s TEDx talk (The Hidden Secret of Success) is about how to create a unique category for yourself. It is hard to be the best business school professor in the world, but I can combine 3 categories: Great business school professor (IESE) who also has a massive following on YouTube and also is the expert on the role and challenges facing CEOs (Vistage). When I put IESE + YouTube + Vistage together, nobody else can compete.
3. Become a Wealthy Expert
There are many experts sitting in bars sharing their wisdom for free with people who don’t want to hear. It is not enough to be an expert, and it is not enough to be known as an expert – you must become a professional. Professionals know the value of their time.
It took me several years to be comfortable with the following actions, but you must if you are to have the resources to be able to really make an impact with your message.
Four Actions of Wealthy Experts
There are 4 things that can differentiate the wealthy expert speaker from the non-wealthy expert speaker:
Package your knowledge: Write, speak, record – put knowledge into a form that people are willing to purchase
Campaign vs Promote your knowledge – each interaction leads to a further interaction. Build a community around your expertise.
Charge expert fees – charge more than you are comfortable with. Run your speaking practice as a business. You have value and are the expert. You are not selling 60 minutes, you are selling your lifetime of experience. Your service improves people’s lives. Price yourself accordingly. Most expert speakers build a structure to their offering around multiple price points:
free – blogging, writing, webinars
€100 – public speech or open event
€1000 – 1 day workshop
€3000 – 3-7 day workshop
€10,000 – 1-1 coaching or mastermind group
€100,000 – something high end to make the rest seem more reasonable…
Distinction – Keep studying the competition and keep innovating, get real feedback from the important people (the person who pays and from other speakers… not from your friends or people who didn’t pay you)
Excellence – Be better every day
Service – Be helpful and responsive
These 4 actions were inspired by a video from Brandon Burchard. Brandon advises others on how to become well-paid experts.
Are you a Speaker
Are you a paid speaker? What other tips would you give to someone thinking about this path? I plan to update this resource a few times with more materials and tips over the coming months.
This video is about paying attention in the process of learning, and trusting the process.
The Art of Learning: Attention without Judgement.
If I am judging everything, I am judging from today’s level of mastery… and blocking my progress. It is so difficult to remember that I don’t see more than what I am capable of seeing.
Shoshin is a chinese word that means “open mind” – a mind that is open to possibility rather than constantly analysing everything that is presented to me (through the prism of my current level of expertise).
I have a lasting interest in how people make good decisions, especially when many people are involved, and many people are affected by the decisions.
Currently reading the book “Crucial Conversations“. Towards the end of the book, there is a section on moving from a dialogue towards concrete actions. The authors say that there are 4 methods of decision making.
The 4 methods of decision making:
Command – One person decides. It might be the main authority figure, or that individual might delegate the power to decide to another specific individual.
Consult – A person given the power to make a decision first consults widely before making a decision. Note: you can listen to someone’s opinion without taking on an obligation to use that opinion in your decision.
Vote – The group votes.
Consensus – we negotiate a position that everyone can agree to. This can take a long time, and can lead to many compromises on the decision being agreed.
When choosing which way to decide there are four questions to ask:
Who cares? – Don’t involve people who don’t care
Who knows? – Don’t involve people who cannot add value.
Who must agree? – Who could block the implementation later on if not part of the decision process today?
How many people must be involved? – The fewer the better.
If everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible. Great teams assign clear individual responsibilities and hold people to their commitments.
This week’s video comes from Champery in Switzerland where I have been part of the faculty for a leadership program for the Avanade company. One of the other faculty is a Leadership Coach called Kris Girrell. He shared a simple 4 part structure for a Coaching Conversation.
The 4 Coaching Questions
Learn More about Kris Girrell
In his TEDx talk, Kris shares a wonderful idea – the “Emotional Table of the Elements” – in which he created a someone tongue in cheek copy of the Periodic Table replacing atoms with emotions. I love the metaphor. Check out his TEDx talk below:
Knowing how to respond to others’ emotional states is the essence of Emotional Intelligence. But how do we actually learn it? Executive leadership coach Kris Girrell suggests that sometimes the path to becoming intimately aware of our emotions may be a little bumpier than we bargained for, but in the end, results in stronger relationships.
Kris is an executive leadership coach, co-owner of the Goddard Preschool in Reading, and author of A Married Man’s Survival Guide.
This list was put together by my father, Terry Neill, in the 1980’s as a reminder for himself and those around him about the nature of good leadership, and the easy pitfalls of Non-Leadership. He led businesses through good times and through tough times and I can see the positive impact he has had on many who worked with him.
He was recently cleaning out some papers in his office and found this and shared it with me and my siblings. I find it simple and clear. Leadership is not easy, but it is necessary in all areas of our lives.
You don’t need Power to lead
You do not need to wait for power, nor permission nor position to decide to act like a leader. You decide to take responsibility and begin. You realise that each of your actions make a difference. You are connected to many people and your actions have impact. You will affect more than 1,000 people over the course of your life. If you have a positive affect on them, they in turn are connected to more than 1,000 people and your leadership will ripple out and touch over 1,000,000 lives. These 1,000,000 lives are connected out to 1,000 in their turn… and your small daily actions of leading and taking responsibility to make things better will ripple out to a billion people. Your actions matter.
A coach appealing to the best in each person; open door; problem solver and advice giver; cheerleader
Invisible – gives orders to staff – expects them to be carried out
Thinks of ways to help people be more productive, more focused on practicval goals and how to reward them
Thinks of personal awards, status, and how he or she looks to outsiders
Comfortable with people in their workplaces
Uncomfortable with people
Wants anonymity for self, publicity for practice of others
Often takes the blame
Looks for a scapegoat
Gives credit to others
Takes credit. Complains about
lack of good people
Gives honest, frequent feedback
Info flows one way – into his or
Knows when and how to deal with non performers or unfair clients’ comments or pressures
Ducks unpleasant tasks
Goes where the trouble is – to help
Interrupts people in crisis and
calls them to meetings at his or her desk
Has respect for all people
Thinks operators, clerical staff
etc are lazy, incompetent ingrates
Knows the business, and the kind of people who make it tick
They’ve never met him or her
Honest under pressure
Looks for controls to abolish
Loves new controls
Prefers eyeball to eyeball instead of memos
Prefers memos… long reports
own mistakes. Comforts others when they admit them
Never makes mistakes. Blames
others. Starts witch hunts to identify culprits
paperwork in planning
Vast paperwork in planning
Arrives early. Stays late
In late. Usually leaves on time
Strained with shop or office
Simplistic on organisation values
Good at demonstrating his/her
command of all the complexities
Hard to reach from below
Fair to the top. Exploits the
Uses committees. Makes accountabilities opaque
Tough – confronts nasty problems
Elusive – “the artful dodger”
Only when his/her goodies are at
Simplifies (makes it look ‘easy’)
Complicates (Makes it look difficult)
Tolerant of open disagreement
Intolerant of open disagreement
Knows people’s names
Doesn’t know people’s names
Has strong convictions
Vacillates when a decision is needed
Trusts words and numbers on
Delegates whole important jobs
Keeps all final decisions
Doesn’t – unless it ‘suits’
Thinks there are at least 2 other people who would be better at his/her job
Number one priority is to make
bloody sure no one remotely gets near to being a threat
Focused to the point of monomania on values and ethical principles
Unfocused except on self
Sees mistakes as learning opportunities
Sees mistakes as punishment opportunities
Does ‘dog work’ when necessary
Above ‘dog work’
Consistent and credible with the troops
Unpredictable. Says what he thinks they want to hear
About Terry Neill
Father of 4 wonderful children and Grandpa to 9 grandchildren.
In his 30 year career with Accenture/Andersen Consulting he was based in Dublin, Chicago and London. He was Chairperson of Andersen Worldwide and Accenture; and was worldwide managing partner of the Change Management Practice.
He returned to Ireland in 2005 and was a Director of Bank of Ireland Group, UBM (the world’s biggest events company) and CRH plc. He is chairperson of the National Council of Wexford Festival Opera.
He is a maths/physics graduate of Trinity College Dublin. He was for 13 years a Governor of London Business School, where he had also gained his MBA. He is a member of both the Board of Trinity Foundation and the Trinity Arts & Humanities Governance Board. He was chairperson of Co-operation Ireland (GB) and Camerata Ireland, Barry Douglas’s all island chamber orchestra.
“If you have a dream and you know all the tasks required to achieve the dream, you don’t have a dream… you have a task. A dream is something you don’t yet know how you will be able to accomplish”
Alden Mills spent several years as a Navy Seal commander, before launching the fastest growth product business (#1 in INC magazine) as a entrepreneur. He has just published his second book: Unstoppable Teams.
The #1 Job of Leadership
Leadership is determined by your ability to build and lead teams. Leadership’s greatest challenge is attracting great people and placing them into teams that are equipped to solve problems, overcome hurdles, and simply do more. Alden shares the 4 pillars he uses to develop Unstoppable Teams.
7 Traits of Unstoppable Teammates
Alden has spent many years helping himself and the teams around him overcome huge obstacles. He has a wealth of experience in building great teams – military, entrepreneurial… and family. This is an infographic from Alden Mills on the 7 traits that make for unstoppable team members.
Alden Mills TEDx Talk
I had the privilege of working with Alden to prepare this TEDx talk that he shared at IESE Business School last year.
About the Book
Unstoppable Teams show managers how to inspire, motivate, and lead the people around them. Mills draws on stories from his own experiences to impart these surprising team-building lessons:
Too many people mistake groups of individuals for a team.
No two people are alike, but we all have the same genetic drivers that motivate us—our will to survive, our ego-driven desire for personal gain, and our soul-driven yearning to be a part of something greater than ourselves.
When we override our fears about survival, we can focus on our desire to thrive.
The more you care for your teammates, the more they will dare for the team.
Great ideas are not reserved for a select few—true teams embrace diversity of thought to find winning ideas.