Here’s a question you might want answered……why would want to know how to become a first class speaker. Today’s podcast with speaker extraordinaire Michael Port will answer that question for you.
Besides being a world class speaker and graduate of the Tisch School at NYU, Michael is the best selling author of several books including Steal the Show and Book Yourself Solid. He’s going to help us understand why being a great speaker is going to help when you want to make your company sustainable.
This is a feature rich episode and here are some of the things you’ll learn:
- How stealing the show is really a gift to the audience.
- Why your sales presentations should be a performance and not a pitch.
- Why you really need to be going big and not thinking small.
- Why no needs to be part of your language and why playing devils advocate is a really bad thing to do.
Narrator: Welcome to the Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In the Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? I am really, really, really, really excited about our guest today. Today, we have Michael Port with us. Michael, in my opinion, is one of the truly real people in the expert business. Now, I’ve been around this business for a really long time – for 35 to 40 years. I went to my first human potential seminar in 1980. I’ve got to tell you, I love hanging out with Michael. I love hanging out with his people. I think his book, Book Yourself Solid is the absolute best book I’ve ever read on marketing and sales and I’ve read tons of them. Steal the Show which is his new book, we’re going to talk about that today, is an absolutely fabulous book. You’ve got to go out and buy it. He’s basically told by everybody, this is the speaking coach guy. Now, I’ve got to tell you, he’s doing a program in February. If you have the chance, you really want to go. I’m sure he’ll talk about it as we get him on. Let’s bring Michael in.
Michael, boy, am I excited to have you today. Thanks so much for coming in.
Michael: You’re welcome, it’s my pleasure.
Josh: Let’s start. What do you mean by steal the show?
Michael: Well, stealing the show is actually a gift to the audience. It’s very different than upstaging somebody. Upstaging somebody is taking away their spotlight. But stealing the show is a gift. Ideally, in any kind performance, everybody steals the show. We’re all trying to make whatever performance we’re giving better.
When I use the word performance, I don’t mean just on a stage. Giving a speech is a type of performance. Negotiating is a type of performance. A job interview is a type of performance. A sales pitch is a type of performance. Even meeting your future in-laws for the first time is a type of performance.
Now, hopefully they’re all authentic performances and that’s really the key. Sometimes when I use the word performance, people get a little bit nervous. They think that “well, maybe performance is phony or fake that I have to pretend to be somebody else.” To me, a good performance is not about fake behavior. Good performance is authentic behavior in a manufactured environment. All those environmental situations are manufactured.
Josh: Well, that’s a pretty cool way of thinking about it. I never really thought about performance as being part of a sales presentation but the way you talk about it, it certainly is.
Michael: Yeah. Well, if you think about it, any time we make choices about how we behave, we’re performing. When we go into a sales presentation, we’re making choices about how we behave, how we interact. If we go on our first date, we make choices about how we behave, how we interact. And as a result, we’re trying to influence how somebody else thinks, how they feel and even what they do.
That’s okay, sometimes we get uncomfortable with the fact that people have agendas but we all have agendas. I have an agenda coming on your show – well, two-fold; (1) to support you because you’re a friend and I think what you’re doing is really cool so I care about that. That’s part of my agenda. And then the other part of my agenda is to spread the message of Steal the Show. I want people who are listening to this to buy the book. I don’t think anybody would fault me for that. I think the problem that we run into is when we mask our agendas and we act as if we don’t have an agenda and then we actually behave as if we do but say we don’t. That’s where we get ourselves into trouble.
Josh: That brings up a really interesting adjective which I love which is authenticity. When you’re not being congruent, you’re really not being authentic. Would you say that makes some sense?
Michael: Yeah, a lot of sense to me. It makes perfect sense to me. It’s interesting to me. I think that one of the ways that we build our reputation is by making commitments and fulfilling them. If you think about a business, a business is made up of one successful project after another. What’s a project made up of? A project is made up of one successful commitment made after another. It’s made up of “I say I’m going to do something and then I do it.” And if I say I’m going to do something and I do it, then you’re able to do what you need to do because I did what I’m promising to do. Ultimately, if we can make commitments and then we can fulfill them, then we can get up to big things. Performance is the same way, if I go give a speech, there’s an inherent promise in that speech and I’ve got to deliver it. So, we trust somebody when they do the things they say they’re going to do, that’s congruency.
So, if you and I met somewhere—actually, this is exactly how it worked, you and I met somewhere and then I said I was going to do something and I did and you go, “Okay, I trust that guy” a little bit because the first thing he said he’s going to do but I’m not going to trust him with my life. But then the next thing he said he was going to do, he did. And then on and on and on. And the same thing for you, everything you’ve ever told me you’re going to do, you’ve done. And I go, “Well, that demonstrates a level of responsibility. As a result, you build friendships. And friendships and relationships, personal and professional, are built on trust.
Josh: You’ve been choosing all my favorite words. I love the word responsibility. There’s something that you do, Michael, which I find really unusual. In fact, you’re one of the few people who really talks about this in an authentic manner which is you talk about going big in literally everything that you do. What do you mean by going big?
Michael: Well, to me big is not necessarily about size. Sometimes, when we think about thinking big it’s a little intimidating because we think, “Well, that means I have to make $1 billion or I have to have a company with 5000 people or 100,000 people. I don’t necessarily think that’s the case. I think, thinking big is about thinking expansively. It’s thinking openly and deciding how you want to live your life, what you want to do with your time, how you want to treat people, and how you want to be treated. All of that is thinking big.
For me, there are a lot of small thoughts that we have that threatens to derail our plans. Each day, I think it helps to fight consciously against the small thoughts that are so insidious. These insipid, pernicious, small thoughts that want to hold you back. They’re the voices in your head that say, “Well, you’re not enough. You don’t know enough. You’ll never be enough.” They certainly don’t help us move forward. That’s the revolution that we are fighting. We are trying to move toward a bigger, more expansive, more open place. That’s what thinking big means to me, so that each one of us can define it for ourselves.
Josh: It sounds like when you’re thinking big, you’re also thinking about and using the word “no” a fair amount. How’s that fit in?
Michael: Do you mean N-O or K-N-O-W?
Josh: N-O as in I’m not doing this.
Michael: Sure. This is an interesting balance. This is that Fitzgerald’s hold two opposing thoughts in your head and still be able to function. Because on one hand, I talk a lot about the concept of saying “yes and”. I devote a chapter in Steal the Show to the fundamental improvisation principle of saying “yes and”. Improvisation is based on you bringing something good to the table and me saying “yes and how about this?” And then you saying, “yes and how about this?” So, we keep moving the action forward. That’s what improvisation is about.
I try to apply that same philosophy to life because I’m not interested in the devil’s advocate. I don’t want the person at the table who goes, “Listen, I’m the devil’s advocate. Let me tell why that won’t work.” I’m not interested in the devil being at my table. I don’t want the devil anywhere around me. Now, that doesn’t mean that I want “yes people” around me who just say, “yeah, yeah, that’s great. Let’s do it” even if it doesn’t make any sense. I want people who say yes to the fact that I’m bringing ideas to the table and they add to those ideas. I’m looking for people who will see the holes but are willing to fill them. That’s a “yes and” kind of person, not a “yes man.” They’re two entirely different things.
Now, with that said, we also need to balance this principle of saying yes with being discerning about what we choose to pursue. They are essentially two different things. Saying yes to ideas around you, saying yes to people, saying yes to experiences, saying yes to yourself and being very discerning with respect to what you pursue so you’re clear on where you want to go and you chart a course.
Now, it doesn’t mean you’re always going to stay on that course. I’m a boater so I use a lot of boating analogies but I may set a particular course on one of my trips but I may have to change that course because the weather changes and the wave action changes. So, I might decide to take a different course that’s a little bit more comfortable for my crew. That’s part of the process of improvising which is very, very different than winging it. You go out there with a course set and then you adapt according to what’s going on in the real world, so you’re saying “yes and” and you’re also discerning with respect to what you pursue, the direction you go.
Josh: You know, what’s really interesting is that I love “yes and” and at the same time I hate “yes but.”
Michael: Yeah, that’s exactly right. The “yes and” is so different than “yes but,” isn’t it?
Josh: Oh man, if you want to stop a conversation cold in its feet, just say “but”. Linguistically, it’s the worst word in the English language—
Michael: That’s right.
Josh: In my opinion.
Michael: I love that. I love that. It’s beautiful.
Josh: Most of the folks listening today, they’ve got a successful business. They’re trying to make it sustainable and they don’t really have an interest in being a professional speaker but what they do have an interest in doing is communication more efficiently, I would guess. How do they apply that to their business becoming sustainable?
Michael: Well, communication is such an important part of relationship development. This, I think, is not something that’s new – meaning, I think people know this. The interesting thing about communication is that it takes real attention because listening is the fundamental key to successful communication which is interesting because people think about giving speeches. And when you think about giving a speech, nobody’s actually speaking except you. So, who are you listening to?
Well, we’re listening even when people aren’t speaking and that helps us communicate which means we need to be much more open to other people’s ideas. We want to be concerned with how people feel. We want to key in on what is most important to them so that we can make their life easier. That requires a fair amount of listening. So, it’s balancing once again your agenda with the needs of the people around you. And as a result, you’re generally able to produce more connected communication.
One of the things that’s important to me, in all of my work, and I address this extensively in Steal the Show because it’s become more and more apparent to me over the years, how important this is, is to recognize that there isn’t one way to do anything. There are lots of different approaches to lots of different subjects. If we get to bog down in one particular methodology, one particular protocol, or “our way” of thinking or being, we often miss out opportunities and we exclude other people. I’m not sure that’s really necessary, so I get worried about teachers who say there’s only one way to do something. This is one of the reasons I really like your work and have been very impressed with you over the years. You are unusually bright. You have done an enormous amount of study over the years. I really don’t think there’s a book in our business that you haven’t read.
Josh: There are lots of them.
Michael: Well, maybe a couple here and there but the books that are well‑read books, you’ve read many times. So, when you say that Book Yourself Solid is your favorite book on marketing and sales for small business it warms my heart. I feel very proud. But I say this because in my interactions with you over time you’re not dogmatic. You are not overly concerned with one way of approaching a particular subject. That’s really impressive because sometimes when people are bright, they get very impressed with themselves and their ideas. But our ideas are only as good as other people’s ability to consume them. So, if we have these really clever ideas and we get all excited about them but we can’t help other people consume them and do something with them then they’re not very good ideas, frankly.
Josh: That’s true. There are two things that have just come up for me and you are really the epitome of both of these. One is that you’re curious. And the other is you view yourself as a servant. How does that play out in your presentations that you do?
Michael: Well, it plays out because I don’t think presentations are ever about me. They’re never about us. They’re always about the audience. When your performance becomes about you, it becomes masturbatory. I mean, it’s a funny way of describing it but that’s what’s used in the theater. When a performer takes the approach of “Oh my God, look at me. Look at me. Look at what I’m doing. It’s so impressive.” And the audience tends to disconnect at that point so if we want to produce results, then our focus should probably be on other people when we are trying to have an impact.
To me, you’re standing in the service of others as you stand in the service of your own destiny. Now, maybe that sounds a little bit over the top to you but it helps me organize the way that I behave, to always remember that I’m not just doing this altruistically. I’m doing this work because I want to create something for myself. I want to have a life that’s worth living, that’s meaningful. I want to produce abundance. I want things for my family et cetera. And I also want to have a great impact on other people and do my small part to make the world a better place. And both of those things, I think when they are in alignment I feel like I’m in integrity.
Josh: That’s a great statement. I really like hearing that. This is kind of a related thing. I love this concept of being present and at the same I’m afraid that the term being present has become completely overused and as a result is becoming misused in our lexicon. How does being present help you in stealing the show?
Michael: You know, for me, the idea of being present or staying in the moment comes from my theatrical background. When I was doing my MFA at NYU, a lot of our work was spent trying to stay in the moment. It was never a buzzword or something that was overused because it’s an important technical aspect of skill development when you are an actor because if you can’t stay in the moment, then you’re obsessed with what just happened. If you are not in the moment, then you are overthinking the future and you’re not able to connect with the other performer that is actually bringing something to you in that moment and there’s a disconnect there. And then, of course as a performer, the more “in the moment” you are, the more spontaneous you can be which is more interesting and compelling for the audience to watch.
I always just applied those principles to the life that I live as best as I can. It’s interesting because for me I actually tried a lot of meditation. I did martial arts for about 20 years and one of the requirements of my training really was an hour of sitting – Zen meditation every day. I wish I could tell you that I loved it but I didn’t. I went and did it because it was part of the training and I felt proud of myself for being able to do it from time to time but I didn’t have the kind of experiences that I’ve heard some people have with meditation.
It was interesting because I found that, for me, it was actually a disengagement. For me, I found that I was able to be more present and more engaged with other people than alone in silence. Now, somebody can argue with me and say, “Oh, that’s because you need to be alone more.” I don’t know. I’m sure there’s something wrong with me, anybody could argue that. But it’s interesting because the presence, for me, is more difficult as a concept when you’re with somebody else because it takes more work.
Josh: It makes sense.
Michael: Yeah. And so, that’s what’s always been interesting to me. I’m not a religious man. I am a believer in people, however. Even though the world is a scary place right now, we have lots of issues that we need to work on. I still fundamentally believe that most people are people who would be willing to help others. And so, that’s my religion – people. That’s how I see it.
Josh: Michael, we have time for one more thing to talk about and I would like you to tell us about your event that’s coming up in February which appears to me to be just as unbelievably exciting thing that you’re doing.
Michael: It is. We did for the first time last year. It was a big hit. We had 250 people there. It was called Heroic Public Speaking Live.
I’ve got to tell you, what we’re bringing to the world of public speaking is unusual because we’re bringing our MFA – our conservatory training as actors to non-actors. Now, we’re not trying to turn anyone into an actor. I would not wish that on anyone. But what we’re doing is we’re giving people the opportunity to develop the mindset of a performer, to adhere to the principles of performance and really develop the skill that a performer has from a voice perspective, a movement perspective and an improvisation perspective. We focus on on-camera techniques for people who need to do promotional videos, interviews. We do a lot of master class coaching on stage. We have business sessions and panels and so much more with the best people in the business – the highest-earning professionals in the business.
It’s three days in Florida, in Fort Lauderdale, on February 15, 16 and 17. You can learn more about it by going to heroicpublicspeaking.com/live. I know, most people, when they put on an event, they feel that it’s special. Obviously, I’m biased. But this was one of those events, when we did it last year, that surprised me. I’ve been doing events for a long time. We’ve done a lot of straightforward events where we come, we sit down and we do the work, and we go home.
But there was something magical about Heroic Public Speaking Live. There was something about the way that people treated each other that was just extraordinary and the community was, I think, unparalleled in its support of each other. I think that’s very important when you’re trying to do something creative because when you’re asked to do something that is new or different or feels a little bit scary, you need people around you who will support you.
I have this hard and fast rule, “If you ever put anybody down, in one of my events, if you ever are patronizing, dismissive, you’re gone.” That’s it. You’re just asked to leave immediately and there is no refund because those kind of people, those kind of critics are not welcome in our world. I think you can be a performer or you can be a critic but you can’t be both, not in our world. That’s Heroic Public Speaking Live. We do it each February and it’s coming up soon.
Josh: So, if someone wants to find Steal the Show or they want to find Book Yourself Solid, do they just go to Amazon or do you have another place you’d rather have them go?
Michael: Amazon. Any bookseller is a great place to go and pick up Steal the Show. At www.stealtheshow.com, we also offer some supportive materials – bonuses. We have a documentary video series on me teaching a master class – actually, a number of different master classes plus a business panel on public speaking. We’ve got templates for storytelling, content creation and a lot more. So, when you pick up a copy, go over to www.stealtheshow.com and pick up those bonuses as well.
Josh: That’s great.
Michael, thanks so much for your time today. This has been really interesting.
If you’re listening and it’s before February, sign up and go to the live event. You can be really glad you did.
Thanks so much, Michael.
Michael: You’re welcome.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to the Sustainable Business Podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2 or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at the Sustainable Business in the near future.