“If you are really serious about performance, you have to get counsel and direction from people who are qualified to give it you.” – Neen James

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We all have production companies in our pockets.

Today, the smartphone has empowered people to instantly publish content to an audience with a few taps. For public speakers, this creates a unique challenge where they must always be on. The speech no longer ends after the applause; rather, speakers must be open to connection in the lobby, at the airport, or in their hometown because any moment could turn into a tweet or Instagram post.

On today’s episode of Steal the Show, we are joined by Neen James. Neen is the author of 9 books, including Folding Time and her most recent book, Attention Pays. In 2017, she was named one of the Top 30 Leadership Speakers by Global Guru because of her work with companies like Viacom, Comcast, Cisco, and many more. She has received numerous awards as a professional speaker, is a partner in Thought Leaders Global, and is a member of the prestigious league of Heroic Public Speakers.

In this conversation, Neen details many topics: how we can use technology to our advantage, why we should look for unique places to project our personal brand, and much more. Tune in to apply Neen’s insights to your life, career, or passion project.

You can order Neen James’ books here.

“Think about how much we can use social media to engage an audience before we even step on stage.” – Neen James

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How You Can Steal the Show

  • How she uses social media to engage and interact with audience members during a performance.
  • The time the 4’10 Aussie met basketball player and keynote speaker Magic Johnson.
  • How you can personalize each performance to continue to build your personal brand.
  • Why those who are only coached by the so-called gurus start to resemble those gurus.
  • Discover how to approach public speaking as an artistic expression.
  • When speakers embrace their uniqueness, they gain a competitive advantage.
  • Seek specific coaching over generalized help.
  • Opportunities for personal branding exist in unique places (email auto-responses, voicemails, etc.).
  • Creating a process to systemize thoughtfulness.

Like what Neen has to say? Click here to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

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Michael:
Today’s guest is Neen James and she’s the author of nine books including Folding Time and her most recent Attention Pays. She was named one of the top 30 leadership speakers by Global Guru because of her work with companies like Viacom, Comcast, Cisco, Virgin, Pfizer, BMW, and even the FBI. Neen earned her MBA from Southern Cross University and has certified speaking professional designation from the National Speakers Association. She has received numerous awards as a professional speaker and she’s a partner in the international education company called Thought Leader Global.

Michael:
Did I mention that Neen is Australian? Why does that matter? Well, it means that she’s a bit mischievous. Apparently all Australians are a bit mischievous. And she’s pretty witty and she’s definitely cheeky. Behind the scenes that steal the show, we’re taking this week off for the holiday, but that doesn’t mean Neen is less of a treat. This is one of our interview classics, so you can continue to learn how to steal the show from the best in the business. So without further ado, here’s Neen James.

Michael:
I have in my hand a beautiful book called Attention Pays, gorgeous covered, love the design, and it even is an autographed copy.

Neen:
So fancy.

Michael:
And it was even autographed by Neen, which is great because sometimes I just go to bookstores and I randomly sign other author’s books. Like I’ll go in and I’ll sign one of our friend’s name.

Michael:
I go to the desk, I say, “Can I go to the autograph stickers?” And they look at me and they say, “Oh, are you Mr. Tite?” I say, “No, I’m Michael Port.” They get very confused so.

Michael:
Anyway, in Attention Pays, which is your most recent book. You discuss social media addiction and you even cite a Harvard study that found the sharing information about ourselves on social media activates the same part of the brain that is associated with the sensation of pleasure, that same pleasure that we get from eating food or earning money or-

Neen:
Sex. You can say it.

Michael:
Yeah, sex. I’ll say it. But as a performer that needs to keep up with other performers, at least I think people think they do. How do we balance not spending too much time on social media and also utilizing social media in our branding because of course branding is performance. So how do we find the balance? Because I got to tell you I would be perfectly fine if social media just went away.

Neen:
I know you would. I get it.

Michael:
It’s not that I think it’s a problem necessarily, like it’s going to ruin society. I heard some of these EU politicians drilling Mark Zuckerberg and one of them says, are you going to be like, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates or are you going to be the one that is responsible for the downfall of civilization?

Neen:
Oh good Lord.

Michael:
And he’s sitting there looking at him how do I answer that. He is really trying, he’s so smart, he’s trying to figure out to answer. He’s like, my brain just cannot compute that.

Neen:
Right. I think that the one thing that I would encourage listeners to consider is are you standing in service when you post. So I once heard the fabulous speaker Tony Newman and she shared once, she said, look, when you’re posting on social media, is it vanity of value? Meaning, is it a vanity poster? Is it adding value? What a beautiful, I’ve never forgotten it and she may have said it much more eloquently than me, but I do think that that’s a very cool thought process. Now what’s funny to me is how speakers use social media. How performers use social media. Some people do it really well. I love like the behind the scenes and when you can see what’s really going on or a day in the life of a performer.

Neen:
I love that. I love Insta stories for sneak peek behind the curtain. That’s stuff I love. When people are posting photos of empty ballrooms, I don’t see the value in that. Like I just don’t get it.

Michael:
Yeah, because it’s look at my game today.

Neen:
Yeah. Look at me, look at me. But like I’d rather see you audience laughing. I’d rather see what they think about it. And so I kind of think when I’m posting from a location, it’s often I might do a Facebook live, I might interview people that have been in the audience. I might ask my clients something that little performance that we don’t all get to see. That’s the fun stuff. Now, maybe that’s just me, but I do believe social media is super valuable in connecting. You’ve heard me talk in the past about BDA before, during and after, and think about how much we can use social media to engage an audience before we even step on stage and they’re all stalking you anyway.

Neen:
Like if you’re a speaker, they’ve looked at your YouTube channel, they followed you on Twitter, they’ve looked at your Instagram posts. Chances are before you’ve even stepped on whatever stage you have, some of the audience has stoked you anyway, and if you’re not that interesting, chances are they’re checking you out while you’re speaking, right? And so we have to be diligent about protecting our brand and sharing things that are going to elevate the brand, elevate the message instead of just look at me, look at me. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve done that. Oh my God, this is not a humble brag. I’m so excited to see this happen to me post, but I think you need to balance it.

Michael:
I think that is reasonable.

Neen:
Yeah. But I think you’ve got to be super careful that they’re not all, there’s a speaker that I watch and this particular person’s posts are so narcissistic. I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” Like that doesn’t elevate your brand at all if anything it repels. So we have to be super careful about that.

Michael:
So you’re an expert in attention and often speakers will use the stage as a platform to promote themselves, which in some situations that may be appropriate. In other situations, it may not be appropriate.

Neen:
Right.

Michael:
And I’m wondering what you think about the way that speakers use social media during their speeches. Meaning I often see slides that encourage people to take a picture and tweet the thing that’s on the slide. Or the speaker will say that’s a tweetable. So what’s your perspective on the use of social media as a tool for spreading the message, promoting yourself while you’re, I’m interested, pro, con? What do you think?

Neen:
I think there’s no prescription and this is not a recipe I can give, but let me tell you some ways that I use it and that I have seen others use it really well. Our friend Scott Stratten does a brilliant job of posting tweets as part of his slide deck where he has had conversations with someone. And yeah, it shows his Twitter handle, but he’s not saying, hey, you have to tweet this out. So Scott Stratton [crosstalk 00:07:03] different.

Michael:
He’s actually showing the screenshot of the conversation.

Neen:
He’s showing the screenshot of the tweet, right. So it’s showing his own social media. It’s showing that he’s influential, it’s showing that he’s connected. I work like you had the legendary Tammy Evans on your show, one of the League members, and she’s known for some of those fabulous little mantras and Tammy’s tips which we’d not what we call them, but when you think about those great words she uses, I spend so much time crafting my woods that there’s some phrases that I want to be memorable, repeatable and retweetable.

Neen:
So sometimes very cheekily I’ll say, “Oh, that’s tweetable.” And the audience will laugh and I’ll be like, “No, really it is.” And so for those people who are going to be tweeting anyway, give them some fodder. What I also do with some of my industries, some industries I work in on, so supportive of social media or they’re kind of, they’re very conservative and so they are very diligent about what gets shared.

Michael:
Or there a lot of compliance issues.

Neen:
That’s exactly what I’m thinking. And so for some of my financial services, my credit union, some of these people, what I’ll find is before I go on stage, I’ll find the person who’s tweeting, I’ll find their marketing director, I’ll find the person who’s capturing the messages and I will say to them, okay, so Allie, if it’s Allie, I’m going to share some things that are treatable and I will give Allie a shout out.

Neen:
So in my keynote I’ll say, Allie, I think that’s treatable. What do you think? And then play with her and the audience loves it. So I’m all about play, you know that about me, it’s just a big conversation when I speak. And so I think there are ways to use it eloquently, but people are going to take photos, use slides anyway because no one takes notes anymore. They’re going to tweet out, they’re going to share things on Facebook. Make sure that what you’re saying is worthy of being shared and make sure that the phrases and the stories and even the jokes you share if posted just that one little tweet is it in context? I remember speaking for Salisbury University, and all the communication students were in the room. Every single had their phone out. They recorded literally everything I said.

Michael:
Just like they were taking a video.

Neen:
Exactly. Now I don’t know where they’re sharing it. I don’t know what they’re going to do with it, but what it does is makes you much more conscious of the words you choose, the things you say. How many times in the media have we seen things taken out of context? So let’s be super careful about this. And so if you’re going to use social media, do things in advance, participate in tweet chats, follow the hashtag, that kind of thing.

Michael:
Do you remember the days when many speakers, and I think some of my contracts have this in the early days would prohibit the taking of video. Do you remember that?

Neen:
Good luck with that. Yeah, no that’s a thing thought. And still is.

Michael:
And still some people are doing that. And I’d love your perspective on that given the world in which we live today is so dramatically different than it was 10 years ago, 15 years ago.

Neen:
Yeah. I think that we have to as performers understand, you are always, always, always being photographed. You are always being videoed. Let me give you an example.

Neen:
I was the closing keynote speaker for a credit union conference. Magic Johnson was the opening. I knew he play basketball and then I was the closing and obviously being in Australia, I’m sort of stupid when it comes to sports in America, but I was told who he was, big guy, funny. So I met this guy and then I became-

Michael:
Did you actually stand next to him?

Neen:
Yes, and it was hilarious. So he comes up to me. I was the MC as well, just for the record.

Michael:
For those who are just meetings Neen for the first time. This is the third time she’s been on Steal The Show. And of course she’s one of the League members, as I mentioned in the introduction. So she’s a big part of our community and she’s one of our faculty members. So I imagine you know her if you don’t she’s about 4’10 and half.

Neen:
And half. 4’10 and a half. That’s very important. Yes.

Michael:
I make sure to say that.

Neen:
Thank you.

Michael:
Because you do remember when you hit me with the stick when I said 4’10. So now I said.

Neen:
I remember. Yes.

Michael:
So Magic Johnson standing next to Neen James would be like the greatest thing I would possibly imagine.

Neen:
Hilarious. So he looks down at me and he was like, “Oh Neen, you’re my twin.” He’s funny too. He’s funny. Let me tell you what happened though. In the soundcheck, they had some shoes. We all got these super shoes and they had a pair of his shoes on the stage. So just mucking around, I put his shoes on and I was walking around the stage. It’s just me and the crew in the back. And the meeting planner was in the sterics. Everyone was laughing. He had his entourage there.

Neen:
So it’s really ridiculous. Okay. I didn’t think anything of it because the ballroom was empty except the crew was videoing it. So you know what makes it into like their promo reel is Neen James, like in these size 15 shoes.

Neen:
So my point about all of this is, which is hysterical and I was giggling like a lunatic, that you are always being photographed, you are always being recorded. And so I think we have a responsibility to always be on, you’ve heard me say this and I think we’re on before we’re on. we’re on before we walk into the ballroom. We’re on before we actually set foot in the premise. We’re on at the airport, we’re on in the convention center, we’re on in our hotel. And that is the privilege of being a performer, but it’s also the responsibility. So your brand is always on show. Social media is one component of that. When people meet you at the airport, they want to talk to you, they want to ask you questions about your presentation. Your responsibility is to engage and be kind and be thoughtful because the meeting planner has paid you for more than just that one hour keynote. They have paid you for the experience and that includes social media.

Michael:
Indeed. I want to go back to something you mentioned when we started discussing, tweeting, social media from the stage, et cetera. You mentioned our friend Scott and that he might put up a screenshot of a conversation that he had on Twitter with someone and then he uses it as an example. And I have a feeling some people might wonder, well, what conversation would you show? Like, why is it showing conversations with people and how is that relevant to the audience?

Neen:
Sure. And imagine someone like, Scott’s making some very specific points about marketing and branding, right? And how we really need to have relationships with people and how everything is done on relationship. Imagine someone like Joey Coleman, who we all know another League member is an expert in the customer experience. Imagine he sees a fantastic tweet or he has a great conversation with someone that elevates the image or story or case study of customer experience. It then validates what he’s saying. He might use the reverse. He might see an exceptionally bad thing that happened, be very careful people though. If you use the bad ones, then you are opening yourself up for all kinds of drama. Right?

Neen:
And so even when I wrote my book, I mentioned a particular company who is exceptional at doing something. I had to get their written approval and it had to go through 25 people just to give good news about this person because they protect their brand. So when you’re sharing on social media, one of the things that I think has happened is the rules didn’t get set up. So if you tweet it out, even if you delete it, it’s still there. And people take screenshots of everything, which means text messages you send, videos, you think that their Insta Stories going to disappear or Snapchat. But the reality is people can screenshot everything. So you need to be very diligent. I think it serves a place and I think it’s got to reinforce a message. Other than that, it’s just clutter.

Michael:
So in Attention Pays, you mentioned the idea of personalizing performance to build your brand and you give a fantastic examples to help establish this. So even if you’re not a performer on the stage, why is it important to build a personal brand?

Neen:
Well, if you think about some of the core concepts that you shared and steal the show. We’re all performers. Whether you are doing a pitch for a client, whether you are at a networking event, whether you are sharing a message in your community, everyone’s a performer. But a personal brand to me is something that I think a lot of people don’t give enough thought to. You are a walking billboard of everything that you stand for, your values, your beliefs, everything comes out of you. The way dress, the way you speak, the way you enter a room. So often I’m hired by executives to help them on their personal brand and no one’s had the tough conversation with them that says, when you act like an idiot or a jerk in this meeting, it affects your personal brand. When you are unprepared for that presentation, it affects your personal brand.

Neen:
There’s so many negative things when it comes to a personal brand people don’t think about. What I want the world to do is to hear your message, to hear the message for you to be seen and heard means you have to eliminate distractions. So one of the things I can ask listeners to consider is what is it about you that’s potentially distracting people from your message? Is it your haircut, your glasses, your outfit, your word choices, your filler words, your body language, your body odor, your physicality. When you sit in a meeting, do you sit engaged and interested or do you slouch back in your tail like you don’t care? And all of these are an extension of our personal brand.

Neen:
What I also believe to be true is our income is impacted when we really elevate our personal brand. I have done literal make-overs and transformations with many individuals and I’ve had them work with my stylist and all kinds of things and I’ve seen their income increase dramatically. In the same way with performers if you’re a professional performer, making sure you’re choosing what is consistent with your brand on stage, off stage, that has a huge impact.

Neen:
You don’t have to wear the most expensive clothes, but you’ve got to wear things that are consistent with the people you’re serving and the brand that you’re representing.

Michael:
Yeah. You in the book have a section on the personal development plan, which I think is absolutely fantastic and really really well developed. So it’s interesting because obviously my listeners know that I came up in the theater and so a lot of my training has been about understanding what role you play in a given situation. Because if you’re doing a one person play, well, it’s just you and you still of course need to understand what role you’re playing. But if you’re in an ensemble, and when I was at grad school and NYU were in an ensemble, there were 18 of us. And same thing with Amy when she was at Yale, I think they had about 18 also, you are together for three years and you’re working together 16 hour days, six days a week. So you really get to know each other.

Michael:
And every show you play a different role. And that role in that show is going to be different than the role you play in the group.

Neen:
Makes sense. Yeah.

Michael:
And then the role you play and the next show will be different, et cetera, et cetera. And so it’s very, very hard I think for many people to change the role that they play in a given group when the role has already been established. It’s harder for folks to sphere, how do I work out of that? My whole family thinks I’m like this, so they’re always going to think I’m like that. How do I change that?

Neen:
You can change it.

Michael:
You can exactly. So it really strikes me really right now actually of how much that has influenced the way that I think about personal branding because obviously it was clear to me that you can, if you understand the backstory behind the character and what the character wants and how the characters going to go after what they want, then you can get really clear on what your role is and play that role.

Neen:
Sure.

Michael:
Same thing for personal branding, personal branding. I think a lot of people focus just on what you do that other people see or experience. And I was talking to a group of our students yesterday. We had a group from Fortune Management in here and I was talking about the role that they play for their clients. And so I said for example, you might just develop a whole personal brand that soothes your clients because you may have clients who really, really want a maternal figure, who’s going to say, listen, it’s okay, things are tough right now, but here’s my shoulder. And then someone else is going to need someone who can play the role of disruptor. And so if we’re very clear on what role we need to play for our clients in general and then specifically for each client, then I think we serve them better. But I think it’s also easier for them to see us and go, that’s who I want. That’s what I need. And so it’s not just about how we want to be seen, it’s also what do they need?

Neen:
And I think it comes back to what I said initially about the fact that we have to stand in service of an audience, right? And so remember as an actor, as a performer, you have the script. You know the backstory. There are people who have seconds for you to make an impression on them. You have seconds to get someone’s attention. They don’t know the backstory, they don’t know what your experience is. They don’t know your credibility. And so very quickly you need to cut through the clutter and get their attention quickly and keep their attention. And the way to do that as a performer is to have this repertoire of roles. Right? So on stage, you’ve seen me do this. I have so many roles I play.

Neen:
Sometimes it’s teasing the audience. Sometimes it’s pulling someone out of the audience. Sometimes it’s playing with the meeting planner. It’s often playing with the AB crew. There are so many roles that we have as performers now those of us who do it professionally, like all the people in the League. The person on stage is exactly the person they are if you meet them at midnight at the airport, it’s exactly the same.

Michael:
When I first started speaking after I wrote my first book and people who saw me speak were seeing me speak after they read the book. They would come up and say, “Oh my God, you’re exactly like I thought you’d be from the book.”

Neen:
Yes.

Michael:
As if that was somehow special.

Neen:
I know. It’s crazy though that that what people think. Right? Because I think what happens is, and you and I have worked on this, you and I have talked about this, right, is when people have read my book, they’re like, “Oh my God. It’s like you’re sitting there with me.” I’m like, “I know.” It’s supposed to be like that in the same-

Michael:
I know.

Neen:
… Right. In the same way when I stand on stage. Now, what you and I also know is when I tried to be like say my words perfect in, remember my lines and stuff suck. And so I know that about myself.

Michael:
Well, lets not… Come on you don’t suck.

Neen:
In my brain.

Michael:
In your brain you suck

Neen:
In your brain I suck.

Michael:
But you don’t suck. But it is-

Neen:
It doesn’t feel as conquered. Yes.

Michael:
Correct. Yes. So each one of us has specific types of talents and we’ve developed specific skills based on those talents over the year. So there’s no one way to do the work and we’ve got to find the way that works best for you and the kinds of people you serve, and the kind of venues you go to.

Neen:
That’s exactly right. I mean I remember sitting, watching Ron Tite if you haven’t seen Ron Tite speak, I mean oh my God. And my mouth is actually open for the entire duration. And I wrote pages of notes and yeah, I was listening to what he said, but I was watching him as a performer. And Ron is same guy off stage, perfect onstage. Zoe Coleman’s the same, Tim’s is this same. And when I look at the people in the League, it’s so cool that one of the consistent traits I see is they’re good humans onstage and offstage and they’re the same. Right?

Neen:
And I think we want more of that in the world, in the profession of speaking in the industry. I would love it if more people are authentically them. I saw a post on social media yesterday about a dear friend and the particular bureau was posting that my friend was exceptional, but what they also posted was the opening speaker was a diva. The AB crew hated them, blah, blah, blah. Now this is on social media. And I was like-

Michael:
This was the the bureau?

Neen:
Yeah, the bureau did this. Now it wasn’t their selection, interesting. But my point was, you are always, always on show and we need to be aware that people are going to share what they experience of you. And now they have this megaphone where they can share that with the entire world. So that consistency, that authenticity is vital.

Michael:
Yeah, consistency is key. It’s interesting. There’s a few different things that build trust. Certainly making commitments and fulfilling commitments is the number one way to build trust. If you want someone to trust you, just do what you say you’re going to do.

Neen:
It’s not that hard. Yeah.

Michael:
It’s not really that hard. No. Because every once in a while you have to renegotiate what you say you’re going to do. Listen, I thought I could do it Tuesday. I need two more days.

Neen:
But that’s accountability, right?

Michael:
Exactly.

Neen:
Tell me what you’re going to do and have integrity and do it.

Michael:
That’s right. And then the second is consistency. And of course, doing what you say you’ll do consistently, builds trust, but consistency in all aspects of life. And so this is what’s interesting to me. In our work at HPS, we are encouraging people to explore all the different facets of their personality because we are so much more than one thing.

Michael:
And at first blush, some people might make the assumption that, oh well you’re asking me to be like different people or so different all the time. And this of course there’s no, because somehow people think that if you do explore different parts of your personality in full ways, then some people won’t recognize you. And so for me it’s no, no it’s that you will always be you, you’re just allowing different parts of your personality to come out. But it’s still always you.

Neen:
Do you remember one of the rehearsals we had for that important event I did in Toronto and one of the things, it was like one of the most like game changing things, which probably sounds ridiculous as I say it out loud, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

Neen:
You made me stand on stage with my script and you made me go like a bazillion miles an hour. Like I had to talk super, super quick and I was like, this is stupid but I’ll do it because I trust you and Amy. Right. And in my brain I was like, he’s a lunatic but like follow direction. Just if you’re listening, you’ve probably thought the same thing about Michael and I love him daily, but it was so liberating and as a result of that one exercise where you made me talk a million miles an hour, then all of a sudden we found the freedom to go, “Oh my God. Like oh my God.”

Neen:
And you showed me like you’d even filmed that, which I do and all that. That what was, see always on show. But what was really cool about that is that I think to performers, if you are really serious about performance, you have to get counsel and direction from people who are qualified to give it to you.

Neen:
There are a bazillion people who want to coach you, teach you, train you, and you can make $1 million and you can do this stupid program and this stupid program, right? And follow this so-called expert, right? And there are people ripping off people’s stuff all the time. I remember when I spoke at NSA on their main stage, I stood on the stage and said, “Stop stealing other people’s stuff. It makes me crazy.” But I think if you are going to elevate your performance, you need to get counsel from people who get it. You guys get it when you force us to do these characters. When you ask us to step out and do these roles, it expands us and it shows us more of what we’re capable of, which is fascinating.

Michael:
I appreciate that. What I want commented, one question, one of the things that you just said, you used the word, you said expands us. And I think in large part that’s our job as performers and it’s an opportunity as people. So as a person, it’s not your job. I mean you don’t have to grow in any way, shape or form. You can be exactly like you are today. As a performer I do think it is your job and it’s part of your job description to continue to grow.

Michael:
And so what we’re doing is we’re expanding our capacity to be more open, more flexible. And it feels a little tough at first because anytime you’re stretching something-

Neen:
It’s uncomfortable.

Michael:
it can be a little uncomfortable. Then all of a sudden everything loosens up and you’re like, oh I fit in that space. I stretched it out. It’s a bigger space and feeling it up. This is fantastic. So that of course, next, what do you do? You start stretching again.

Neen:
You have the courage to go again.

Michael:
You start stretching again. It gets a little bit uncomfortable. And I think that is the part of the performance job, that is I think part of our job description.

Neen:
Right. And I think another part to expand on that is we often make it look so easy because we put in the work. We stand on stage and we have fun. They laugh, we play, like it’s great. And then when people get off the stage and everyone’s like, “Oh my God, I want to be a speaker like you. Oh my God, you make it look so easy.” Yeah, I made it look so easy because I put bazillions of hours into that.

Michael:
Michelangelo said something about, and I’ll paraphrase, he said something about, “If anyone had any idea how long it took for me to achieve my mastery, they would not think it’s so enjoyable.” I don’t remember those exact words but he Michelangelo back then who said you have no clue like how hard it is to get to that level. So the other thing that I wanted to ask is not coming back to me right now, but it’s going to come in a moment. It will come in a moment. Once we start talking about something else it will come right back.

Neen:
We can step aback. Yeah.

Michael:
Yeah, this is what it is. And by the way, I’ve said this before on the show when I forgot what I was going to say next, but that is a technique you just say, it will come back to me a moment. It does. It really is remarkable. It may take a few seconds or it might take 20 seconds or 30 seconds.

Neen:
And it’s fun to play with an audience like that too. It’s like, “Where was I.” Oh, and then someone says that-

Michael:
Exactly.

Neen:
Exactly, that’s exactly where I was.

Michael:
People who come for training, they often ask, what do I do when I blank. That is one of the most common fears. And I’ll often say, well, what do you do when you blank? When you’re just having a conversation with someone? You say, oh, hold on, what was I saying? And you think about it. You don’t run off, run away, oh, I don’t know what to say, you run away. You just think about it. What was I going to say, and then if you can’t remember, go, what was I saying? And they’ll tell you and then you’ll, “Oh yeah, that’s right.” You’ll go on. It’s the same thing on stage.

Neen:
So human.

Michael:
And nobody has a problem with it on stage, if you’re delivering great value. It’s just solving their problems, you can forget 20 things. You’re completely fine if you’re not solving any of their problems and you remember everything you’re going to say it’s not going to be as effective as the alternative. So this was my question and obviously I have a perspective on this and my perspective is going to be very biased because I believe very strongly in our methodology and you mentioned you need to pick people that know what they’re doing. So how can people identify the right folks? And I asked this question because Neen has been in this business for a long, long time and has a lot of experience.

Michael:
And I’m not asking you to answer it so that it points people to us, but there’s a lot of people out there who can offer a lot of things that might be helpful. And I want to make sure that no matter what they’re looking for in any area, whether it’s to help on their performance or their content or something else in their business or fitness or whatever. How do you identify the people that really know what they’re doing can advance your work and your position?

Neen:
For me, because I am very, very conscious that I have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of attention that I’m going to choose to invest in the ones that are going to give me the highest return.

Neen:
So for example, when I first, first started speaking, the best person in Australasia, one of the top speakers in the world was Matt Church. So it was a no brainer. You just hire Matt Church, right? Because I’ll go for the best and I was starting and he was way out of my League, just for the record, but I was starting out.

Neen:
Now, one of the things that I noticed before I started working intimately with you and Amy was that when I would ask the absolute top performers in our industry, who did they work with? The Jay Baer’s of the world, the Scott Straton’s of the world, they would say, Michael and Amy Port, well, there you go. Done. Right? And so what I will always look for is who’s best.

Neen:
Now, is it expensive? Yes, but here’s my thought. If I’m charging the kind of keynote fees that I am charging, I need to be able to invest that and more and multiple times a year in order for me to be able to stand in service of my clients. I think a lot of people are very happy to ask for their fee, but they’re not happy to pay their fees for coaching. Now I have worked with some great people like Lou Heckler, a great. He and John Allen. They are amazing and you can… It’s a full immersion. You’re literally in their house and they great at it, but I think what happens is sometimes when a lot of people work with the same people, they look like the people they’re being coached by and I can see, I know particular coaches in our industry and I can see they’ve been coached.

Neen:
What I’ve noticed about you and Amy, something that’s remarkable to me is there’s no, I want to say the word formula, it’s not the right word, but-

Michael:
There is no formula.

Neen:
It doesn’t look like they’re being coached by the Ports. And that’s one of the things that concerns me about the industry is when people start to follow some of these so called gurus, they look like these so called gurus and that doesn’t really serve the audience is not 100% authentic and it certainly doesn’t serve our industry. So I want to challenge people that when you’re looking for coaches or trainers or mentors, whether it’s your personal trainer, whether it is your coach, whether it is the content or the writer, find the people who are the best. Find the people who are at the top of their game and start to investigate who did they recommend and then save your resources for the point that you can afford it and then immerse yourself.

Neen:
What was interesting to me is that you allow people access at multiple levels. If you want to know about the business buy a book yourself solid, if you’re a do it yourself buy the book, work yourself through the book, done, right. If you want an immersion, go to Heroic Public Speaking live the event, which I am privileged to be faculty. So I’m a little bias too, but it’s still one of most world-class programs I’ve ever seen. If you want to work one on one with you and Amy, pay a bazillion dollars and fully commit to it.

Neen:
But I think for every person, regardless of where they are on their journey, they need to do their due diligence. Ask people who are at the top of the career, find out who they use. Ask people of experiences, what sort of return on investment they’ve got. So you are doing your due diligence, but then there’s got to be a fit. They could be people out there who are great at what they do. I just don’t like them. They just don’t gel with me. And I remember one particular speech coach, she said to me, “Mrs. James, I can never work with you.” And we joke about it because I can’t say the same thing every time the same way. And their particular style of coaching is very much about the precision of every word. I’m not that girl, I am not that girl and so we just agree that I kind of have a work with that person and that’s okay. They’re great at what they do. They’re just not just for me.

Michael:
Yeah. This particular work is an art.

Neen:
So true.

Michael:
And so that’s why right from the beginning we always approached it as an art and if it is an art then there isn’t one way to do it. There isn’t one way to train. There isn’t one way to develop material and so what our job is also as speakers as creative artists is to create material and performances that are unique experiences that only you could possibly create.

Neen:
Yes. That’s what I love and I listened to the great interview you did with Tammy and you referred to the League as like mutants and I was like, okay, that’s like the first time I’ve taken that as a compliment just for the record, but I actually thought to myself, it’s true because everyone of us does something so different to the other, but yet when we step on stage we are having the time of life, our audiences are having a blast.

Michael:
You mentioned before you talked about consistency and so the reason I look at, to me the people that are the most interesting are these people that I think of as mutants because most of their DNA is like a regular human being, but then there’s something in their DNA that just makes them different. Now, yes, you’re physically unique. What tends to happen. You sound like you’re five.

Neen:
Correct.

Michael:
But that’s not what I’m referring to. That’s a bonus part of the package. What make you grow uniques is, we work on imitating you and Ron like we do that but we can’t, it’s just impossible. There is no way you can do it.

Michael:
But the way that you think and the way that you behave is a mutation. And I think it’s a positive mutation. I think it’s an evolved way of being. And so those are the people that I’m looking for when I’m identifying who do I want to bring into the League and work with. I’m looking for mutants. I’m looking for people whose DNA is mostly like everybody else, but there’s just something about them that’s just different and they’re born that way. Like what’s her name? The meat singer.

Neen:
Lady Gaga

Michael:
Lady Gaga, yes.

Neen:
Meat singer.

Michael:
In Ron Tite speech, he sings her line. He says I’m on the right track, baby. I was born this way.

Neen:
Born this way. Yeah, it’s so true.

Michael:
I think more people are this kind of mutant. Then they might realize what’s unique about you and others in the League is that you’ve gotten to the place of your life where you are fully self-expressing that gene. And I think a lot of folks at the beginning of their journey, they feel that mutation in them, but they haven’t expressed it yet.

Neen:
Oh my gosh. I was so damn too. Oh my gosh. And I think if you’re listening to this, this whole self-expression self about thing. Yeah. And I’m also ancient. So there’s the benefit of experience. So like I’m a little old lady walking, right?

Michael:
She is exaggerating.

Neen:
I had to buy reading classes yesterday.

Michael:
And she little and she is a lady but she is not old. What did you have to buy?

Neen:
I had to buy reading glasses yesterday. I was like, “Oh my God.”

Michael:
Oh come on.

Neen:
No, seriously.

Michael:
I have been wearing reading glasses for decades.

Neen:
Stop. Anyway, my point is this, right? When you think about these amazing differences, these incredible things. When I started out, I was trying to wear the right thing, say the right thing. I was watching everyone else what I thought was the right thing and I wasn’t like leveraging all the uniqueness that is me. So please understand if you’re listening to this, it’s a journey and it’s not like something that one day I woke up and went, “Oh yeah, I’m just going to be myself.”

Neen:
No, there is a the benefit of experience, there is stages I’ve been on, there is client feedback, there’s all of those things. But I also want people to understand that the sooner that you step into the uniqueness that is you, the sooner you’ll make more money. The sooner you elevate a message, the sooner your clients will ask for you back because no one else is like you. So you have a competitive advantage. And I think too, like I am so attracted to the way people think. I think in models it’s bizarre and I understand that, that people talk to me, I’m starting to draw shapes in my head like trying to sort their intellectual property in a way that I can process it.

Neen:
Now, I understand now that that’s a mutant type way of thinking. I didn’t at the time, but we all have these weird and wonderful gifts that we can share with the world that we don’t even think twice about them because it’s intuitive. Right. And I think if you can share that with your audience, people are so interested in what you think, how you think, not just what to do, but why is that important? How is that going to change the situation? Their challenge, the concerns they have? And so if you can unpack your thinking for people, it’s really powerful.

Michael:
And I want to just mention Matt Church again, your first teacher. If you are in Australia, Matt is the person to work with.

Neen:
Oh my God. He is. Yeah.

Michael:
He’s a good friend of ours, he’s a great friend to the business. I am a great friend to his business and that I really believe in what he’s doing.

Neen:
The Thought Leaders Business School. There’s nothing like it on the planet if you really want to commercialize your ideas. And I know American speakers that fly to Australia to do the program. It’s a very unique, intense program. And it’s kind of like going back to what you said before, you’ve got to choose the people for what you need for your business.

Michael:
That’s right. So that’s the thing when I’m looking for teachers, I work as hard as I can before I start looking for the teachers to determine what kind of help I need. And this might sound obvious, but I think often when we’re looking for help, we’re looking for generalized help.

Neen:
Whatever’s popular at the time.

Michael:
Yes. But if someone says, well I need help with my speaking, true we all do. But that’s a general concept. What specifically do you need? Now here’s the hard thing about a craft, like a public speaking is sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s one of the things we hear very often when people get here, because a lot of people come here because someone said you have to go to [inaudible 00:39:27] being issued. And they said if your boss says it or your sister says it.

Neen:
And they are right. Yes, sure. Do it.

Michael:
Or someone you, they say you have to go. And so sometimes they’ll come even without doing a lot of their own homework.

Neen:
They haven’t done their due diligence.

Michael:
And they walk in and after the first day, that is one of the most common things we hear. It goes, “Oh my God, I didn’t even know I needed to know this.”

Neen:
Oh my God. When I first saw Amy do her seven step rehearsal process, I sat in the room horrified, like embarrassed for myself. I was like, “Oh good Lord, I have so much work to do.” And I remember texting Judson Laipply was with me, a dear friend.

Neen:
And I texted him and I was like, “Oh my God, I have so much work to do.” And what I realized, and I think is often the case in many of us in our industry is if we are good at a speech, if we’ve got an a performance, we’re like, awesome. What we don’t do is the rehearsal because I like others thought, well, it’s going to look stage, it’s going to look plastic, it’s going to look kin, and that’s not who I am. But when Amy unpacked her seven step rehearsal process, it literally blew my mind.

Neen:
I never tire of watching her do that. It always kicks my bat. And even still working with you both now, like getting on my feet, working it through, doing invited rehearsals, all of those strategies are things that I think we get comfortable and we think, “Oh, I’m okay. I’m getting paid, I’m doing great.” But it’s the elevation of the craft and that’s why I love you focus on the performance of speaking, not the business of speaking. You have people that can help with that. But that’s not what you and ma… When you and Amy pull someone out and do a masterclass, it’s transformational and there’s no formula. Right? And that’s what’s so beautiful to watch, is art.

Michael:
So here’s the thing. So for us there’s a big difference between formula and process. And a formula would be something like you always walk in this same way on stage. If you do make an H or a W or whatever. I don’t know if anybody actually does that. So I’m not being critical or making fun of anybody, but just things that if everybody does it like this, that’s a formula. A process is very, very different. In order to develop craft, you need a process. Craft is not something that you can just go out and grab onto. It’s a very amorphous concept.

Michael:
So how do you develop craft? Well, you develop process. So do you have a process for creating material? Do you have a process for rehearsing the material? Do you have a process for et cetera, et cetera. And so we have these processes because we went and trained as professional performers.

Neen:
For sure. Make sense.

Michael:
You cannot beat yourself up. Nobody should beat themselves up for not knowing the seven step rehearsal process if they had not gone to Yale drama or the grad program in NYU or Juilliard.

Neen:
Once toy you see it, then you have to do it. That’s the thing, right? So that’s one of the things that I love having the privilege of working with you both every month, but also attending HBS and being faculty with rowing public speaking as a privilege as well. Working with the grad students. What I’ve also loved watching is watching people come through the program and seeing how transformed they are. Not just in the delivery of their message, but as humans. Because what I think people don’t budget on is the instant community. It is that they find a group of people who really want them to do well and that they find a peer group that they have mentoring, that they are also very, very clear that you and Amy are the directors and that any relationships they build are| very beneficial. But I’ve seen people find a new level of confidence.

Neen:
I’ve seen people find a new level of self-esteem. And that’s been really fascinating to watch. None of the things you can put in a sales copy of a brochure.

Michael:
That is tough. Yeah.

Neen:
It’s the benefits of doing it. But I still learn every time I attend Heroic Public Speaking, and I think this will be my like third one in October at the time of recording.

Michael:
Yeah. This is the third.

Neen:
Yeah. So I think that when you have the opportunity to learn from people who are brilliant at what they do, soak it up, sit and learn, don’t challenge. Just sit and absorb and then filter through what you need to take away and what you need to work on.

Michael:
One of the things that you do that is absolutely brilliant is set very specific and strategic email auto-responders when you’re out of the office. And I would love you to tell our audience about what you do because I think they might find it effective as well.

Neen:
Sure. So the worst thing you can ever do is just put an out of off edge that says, OoO, like out of office, because I’ve got one of my clients, I’ve got a bounce back that said, OoO. And I was like in Australia that’s like-

Michael:
It actually said, OoO.

Neen:
Yeah. Out of office because they’re too lazy to write out of office. And so if it was so crazy to me because, OoO, in Australia, triple O is like 911. If you call triple O it’s an emergency. I was like, what’s wrong? What’s wrong? And I was like, Oh, it’s this stupid lazy out of office. That’s just done. Right? So here is my thinking out of office needs to be an extension of your personality, right? It’s another personal branding opportunity, right. So my clients, even when they know I’m on vacation will send me a message to just see where my bounce back is. And so also too, if I’m even away from my email for several hours, if I’m serving a client I will say and with a really cool client today, super excited about this, but here’s all the ways we can connect with you.

Neen:
But I will also share bits of my life. I’m hanging out with my goddaughters, we’ve gone to see the ballet. I’m in Hawaii with my sister, like there’s a little bit of a sneak peek behind the curtain of my life as well. And what often people say to me when they read my emails is, “Oh my God, it’s like the funniest email. It’s fun and it makes me smile.” And we all hate email. But imagine if we just talked on email, like we talked to humans and had a conversation in the same way you’re out of office can be very strategic and positioning you with industries you’re working in. The kind of performance work you are doing, the kind of deliverables you have. You can have links in there if you want to.

Michael:
The reason I think it’s a really good idea is not because it’s what will help you with your prospecting. It’s not some sort of marketing strategy that’s going to bring in all sorts of new people. Because it helps the people that you already have communication with. Know what you do, who you do it for. When you do it, it helps reinforce it. And you might say, well, no, come on. Everybody knows what I do. They don’t really.

Neen:
No. Ask some me your family, they probably have no idea what you do, right?

Michael:
Yeah. They might say, “Oh my daughter’s a marketing experts.”

Neen:
Yeah. They don’t really know. I was speaking at an event. It was a very interesting event, an association that like in this country there is an association for everything. Let’s just put that on the table.

Michael:
Seriously. It’s true. Do you know how many?

Neen:
Crazy, it was amazing.

Michael:
About 60,000 or some crazy number.

Neen:
It blows my mind. So I was speaking at this association and my bounce back happened to say that I was at this particular association and I don’t know why or how, but someone from a bureau had messaged me. They got my bounce back and they called and said we’d lost a job because you were speaking at this event. I was like, sorry, not sorry, sorry not sorry. And but they were like, okay, we need you to come in and meet with our team, blah, blah, blah. And it was very fascinating because of the bounce back message because they were like, we tried to put people in there. And my point around this is you never, never know when someone’s emailing you, you never know what they’re paying attention to.

Neen:
And this is why, like I said earlier, you always on show and so you’re going to think about these opportunities. Every out of office is another touch point. Your voicemail is a touch point. Your emails are a touch point, your speeches, your thank you notes, your gifts, these are all touch points. And we have to think about how we paying attention and are we really showing people that they’re important to us, even if it’s an out of office.

Michael:
Yeah. I remember when Facebook first added that check in feature, how nervous people were about checking in because they thought, well, everybody’s going to know I’m not home. I’m away on vacation and my house is going to get robbed immediately.

Neen:
Sure yep.

Michael:
So if you’re worried about that and if you think the kind of people that email you directly or the kind of people that would break into your house then don’t do this or add a line on the end and says, yes, I’m away. But I have a very big attack dog, a really good alarm system.

Neen:
Wouldn’t that be hilarious? One of my dear friends works for FBI. And she and I were talking about this whole concept about personal security and social media and safety and things like that. And one of her good pieces of advice was especially because I’m like a chick who’s traveling all by myself a lot of the time was, “Hey post if you want, when you’ve left.”

Neen:
And I actually thought that was really, really smart. So I think, and it seems so obvious, I know, but I do a lot of Insta Stories and stuff like that. And so for me, and then what happens though, if I post in this town and then all my speaker friends are like, why didn’t you tell me you’re in town and then you get like abused from all the people that you love. It’s like I’m in and out, I’m in and out people.

Michael:
Yeah, and they know.

Neen:
Exactly. I know. I was teasing Scott Stratten about that. I was like, wait, you’re in Philly? He was like, well not really, but what I think we need to be considerate about is that people are always watching and you don’t know who’s watching and you can control the attention to a certain point by what kind of messages you share in the world.

Michael:
Yeah. Good. So one more topic I want to address is working on a keynote after you’ve written a book about that subject. Yes. Because that’s something-

Neen:
You can’t see my arrow people, but that’s what’s happening.

Michael:
I think they heard that. Yeah, they got that. But we went through this process together over a period of time. And since working on writing that keynote about attention based on your book, Attention Pays, how has the process been distilling the book down into keynote form and what has that process taught you about performance and maybe about attention?

Neen:
It’s vomitous. Here’s the thing I’ve thought like-

Michael:
In a good way?

Neen:
No, no, but it’s great when you come to the other side of it. So let’s just be super honest, right? I write the book and that’s case studies and the way you write and the way I talk very similar, but it’s like super fancy like writing with editing and exclamation points and stuff, right? So thinking I’d done the work, I was like, oh my gosh, this book is full of beautiful contextual models. Great tweetables, great case studies. And then you sat me down and said, well, you don’t have to actually say what’s in the book. I’m like, what do you mean I’ve just done all this work? Are you kidding me? And what we realized was my best performance is when I pull people out of the stage. When I play with the audience, when I use their intellectual property and show them how brilliant they are, right?

Neen:
And I give attention to them that way. You can’t do that in a book. And so for me it was very liberating, but it was also really tough because I thought, oh my God, I’ve written a book. Hey, I am set for the keynote. Just regurgitate some of the book and dinner, done. No, no donesville. I had to start again.

Neen:
Now, what was beautiful though in our last session, you and I talk so much with Amy as well about really one thing that has always been important to me is that everyone be seen and heard. And at the end of the day, that’s still what my keynotes about is how do you see people, how do hear people, and that’s a very subtle message through the entire book, but it’s a very prominent message in my keynote. And that is what do you see? What do you hear? What do people see? What do people hear? How do people see you, how do they hear you?

Neen:
And so I feel like it was this massive circle where we started out with the content and the book is good. I’m really proud of my body of work there and I think people are responding to this so beautifully, which has been amazing to me. And different things are resonating with different people. I think it’s very timely in a conversation right now, but the keynote is an experience. The name James experience on stage is not me regurgitating my book. Now some people might be able to get away with that and God bless them that’s awesome. Not my reality. The book is a compliment to what I do. It’s not what I stand on stage and talk about.

Michael:
That’s right. So it’s interesting. Again, we believe, just like in public speaking, in book writing, there isn’t one way to do it. Everybody’s got their own process. In fact, our friend Seth Goden, if he’s asked about his writing process, he says, I’m not telling. Not because he’s trying to keep it secret. He says, because you got to figure out your own writing process by writing.

Neen:
Yes, Rod is right.

Michael:
Hacking your way into it may not produce a mastery.

Neen:
Yeah, I was pretty excited he endorsed my book.

Michael:
That’s pretty cool.

Neen:
I know.

Michael:
Seth is a-

Neen:
A good human.

Michael:
What is it? He’s a giant among men. I think he’s-

Neen:
And women, just adding that.

Michael:
Of course. So far elevated above the giants. You can’t even put them this.

Neen:
Nice save.

Michael:
Thank you so much. So, okay, good. Now actually I am going to do one more question.

Neen:
Sure I’m in your hands.

Michael:
I guess I fit, I said that was the last topic, but I do want to talk about your VIP systemization.

Neen:
Oh yeah.

Michael:
You have this really, really interesting way of keeping in touch with very important people in your outline in the book. And I’d like you to address it because I had been very fortunate to be on the receiving end of such care.

Neen:
VIP. So we all have the VIPs, very inspiring people in our life. And my belief is that we want to stay in contact with them. We often have the best of intentions, but what happens is life gets in the way. And so we have to systemize thoughtfulness. Now I know that sounds really mean, but we need to create systems to be able to be thoughtful with people that are important to us. I have a list of advocates in my life. These are advocates. Sometimes they’re inside my industry, sometimes they’re outside my practice, but these are people I want to diligently stay in contact with. So I literally have an old fashioned spreadsheet’s, not fancy. And what I do is I have their name and literally every month I reach out to them about something. Now, it could be when my friend Joey Coleman published his book, I bought 50 copies of his book and then I would send it to those people.

Neen:
It could be I see a brilliant Ted Talk like when you and Amy did your Ted Talk, I would share that with some of these advocates. So it doesn’t have to cost money so to speak. But what I’m doing is I’m showing them that they’re important to me by staying in touch. It’s a calendar appointment. Now, here’s the other thing that happens. When I’m out and about because these people are so important to me. If I see something that reminds me of them, then I’m going to go, oh my God, that’s really cool. I’m going to get that. So one client is important to me and is a huge fan of the Spurs, which apparently is a basketball team. And so I found this artist who does these beautiful drawings and so got some framed sent across to them, mind blowing, right? Because I saw it out and about.

Neen:
And so I think there’s ways that you can stay top of mind for people, but you have to make it a system. And so for me, that’s a calendar appointment. I keep the contact details in my phone constantly so that I can send them a text. I can shoot them a video, I can tell them I’m thinking about them, but I also make sure I strategically introduce them to each other. So it could be that Melissa Agnes, a different advisor, wrote a brilliant book called Crisis Ready. I think it should be compulsory reading for every high school, every university, every business owner, every corporation. So I bought some copies, had her sign them, and then I sent them to these advocates, why I sent it? So I sent one to the president of High Point University Nido Qubein because I think it needs to be curriculum in schools and he will be able to see that.

Neen:
I sent it to my friend Freebird who’s teacher of the year in North Carolina because he has an influence on curriculum. And so I think we have to consciously be thinking about other and how it can serve them first. Now these people are also very generous and in return but not expected. They will say, hey, have you met my friend there? So have you thought about this or can I help you with this? My job is to treat these people like they are the most important person in my life, which means scheduling time to make it happen.

Michael:
So what is your process? How do you manage this group of people? How many people can one manage how? Because if you, so here’s my list of 2,342.

Neen:
I can’t do that. I’ve got 20.

Michael:
What is the right, 20.

Neen:
yeah. And some people have like 50, God bless you, if you can remember that many people, I can’t. I think we have thousands of people who are important to us. We have hundreds and hundreds of social media connections and all that type of thing. But if you really, really had to drill it down, I think I can actively work on 20 people at once.

Neen:
And here’s the other thing that’ll happen is once a year I’ll go through that list and I will edit it out. So I may have developed such a great relationship with that person. I don’t need to have them on the list for next year because I’m naturally seeing them. I’m naturally connecting with them. But I think when you’re growing a business, you’ve got to be very, very strategic as a performer on the business as well.

Neen:
You can be an exceptional speaker in my industry, but if you can’t grow a business, if you can’t sell a speech, you are going to die. Like that’s going to happen. You are not going to be able to pay your mortgage, feed your kids, do whatever you need to do. And so what I learned very early and that was through the benefit of working with people like Matt Church is that it is also about the business. So having advocates and having systemized thoughtfulness is a business decision. It’s a commercial thing. Does it cost me money? Sure. Does it pay me back? Like hundred fold, hundred fold, you bet.

Michael:
Yeah. And also it feels good to do nice things for people.

Neen:
And surprise people, right. And to do things and like just pop something in the post because no one does that anymore. Right?

Michael:
Yeah. One are the excuses that sometimes we make is around this kind of things you say, well I don’t know what to do for people. I don’t know what to get for people. And I think that I say this in the most loving and respectful way. A little bit of a cop out.

Neen:
Oh gosh, that’s so lazy. Just write a handwritten note. I mean, cost you nothing.

Michael:
Even if it’s like, I just really think you’re awesome and I appreciate you. Piece out.

Neen:
Yeah. And here’s the other thing that I do. I think video is the future. And so I will pull out my phone and shoot a video where the hair or makeup is done or not is irrelevant. And I will say, “Oh my God, I was thinking about you. This would be really cool for you.” And then I text it. So I shoot a video and text it and I think-

Michael:
You’re particularly skilled on your video direct to camera bits. You do it very, very well. I would recommend people watch how you do it.

Neen:
You’re kind. It’s just literally playing it out and just being myself.

Michael:
I know, But-

Neen:
It’s not produced.

Michael:
No it’s not produces at all. So I’m not referring to the production, I’m referring to the actual performance of it. It takes a commitment to doing that kind of thing on a regular basis to continue to develop that skill and you see in you.

Neen:
But the secret is it’s not about me. It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s about them. That’s the secret, right. If you make it about them, easy peasy.

Michael:
Yeah. And you have the skill to deliver it.

Neen:
Thanks.

Michael:
I think that’s significant as well. So listen, I just wanted to call you kid. Listen kid, we got to wrap up, but look-

Neen:
I know, so fun.

Michael:
I mean this is the third one you’ve done with us. You did one on contextual models. We’ll put a link in the show notes for that.

Neen:
Sure that was fun.

Michael:
That was fantastic. If you don’t know what a contextual model is, a contextual model is a visualization of your intellectual property of your ideas.

Neen:
Yes. People need to see your content. Get attention for your message you need a contextual model.

Michael:
Exactly. Yeah. I mean I did a whole version of Book Yourself Solid. My first book that was illustrated.

Neen:
My favorite of the two and I own both of them, but the illustrate one, I was like, hello, I get it now.

Michael:
I go to the point where I had done two additions of the original and I thought, well there’s got to be another way for people to consume it. Maybe not everybody wants to read 75,000 words. Maybe they want to look at some of the concepts. And then I still did a third edition of the regular one a couple of years later. But there are two and there people sometimes divined together, sometimes divined separately depending on which they like. But I am a firm believer that visualizing our ideas makes it so much easier to consume. So that’s an important podcast episode to listen to with Neen. And then we did one episode that primarily focused on women in the speaking business.

Neen:
We got such a response to that. I still get messages about that.

Michael:
That’s still one of the most popular episodes that we’ve done, I believe.

Neen:
That was fun.

Michael:
Yeah. So that will put a link to that in the show notes as well. And I think this is guys you might’ve just tuned off. when I said, well, that episode was about women in the speaking business. We go, well, it’s not me. I’m not a woman, et cetera. No, you should be listening to that as well because it’s essential that we understand our industry and it’s essential that we understand what everybody in our industry goes through because if we’re going to elevate the industry, we need to elevate each other.

Neen:
Exactly.

Michael:
And so it’s very I think important for us as men to understand how the female speakers in the industry experience the industry and acknowledge those differences. And if there are differences that probably shouldn’t be differences, we got to smooth those out.

Neen:
Well, so many of our friends have stepped up to ensure that when they’re being invited to participate in agendas and panels, so many people are advocating, whether it’s male or female, we have some dear friends who are being active and doing that. And it’s always a question I have and I understand. I’ve been the token female on an agenda and I’m seriously okay with that. But I also understand that we all have a responsibility to provide diversity to our audiences. And I believe meeting planners need to look at this speakers and ensure that they’re representative of the membership of the attendees. So it’s not whether you’re a man or a woman, but do you have everything represented in your actual offering?

Michael:
Yeah. And even if your audience is relatively homogeneous and if it’s not particularly diverse, isn’t it even more exciting to bring in more diversity to that group because it’s not particularly diverse. So there’s just a lot of opportunity for us to up-level the whole industry.

Neen:
Agree.

Michael:
And I think that’s a great episode to listen to as well. So Neenjames.com is where you should go. Go buy Attention Pays anywhere books are sold. And I’ve got a whole [inaudible 01:01:17]

Neen:
[inaudible 01:01:17] your little sticky notes in there. You made it.

Michael:
She saw it. She also put like a nice little-

Neen:
Lipstick.

Michael:
Like lipstick. Everything is pretty cool. So listen, thank you so much.

Neen:
My privilege.

Michael:
Is there anything about the book that people can get at your website to download any freebies?

Neen:
Yes. If you go to Neenjames.com is that forward slash or backslash, whatever that slash is.

Michael:
It is a slash.

Neen:
It is a slash. Whatever the slash is, Attention Pays book. Then there’s a whole lot of things you can get there for free.

Michael:
Great.

Neen:
We’ll put a link in the show notes.

Michael:
Fantastic. Thank you so much Neen.

Neen:
My privilege. Thank you for everything you’re doing in the world.

Michael:
Thanks for listening to Steal the Show. I’m your host Michael Port. We record our episodes at Heroic Public Speaking HQ. Thanks for listening and learning how to be a performer in your spotlight moments. Make sure to reach out to us on Instagram and Facebook at Heroic Public Speaking and leave us a review on iTunes if you like the show. Until next time, keep thinking big about who you are and how you see the world. Bye for now.

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