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If you would like to know more about Contextual Models – what they are and how they work – listen in to today’s show, with Michael’s guest, Neen James. Find out from the Energizer Powerhouse herself, how you can perform with excellence and get people to understand and say “yes” to your intellectual property.

Michael describes Neen as a “Force of Nature.” She is the expert and speaker to connect with if you’re aiming for exceptional performance. Recently, both Neen and Michael spoke at an NSA event. Neen blew Michael away with the never-seen-before way that she presented her information. Neen, a published author of eight books, including Folding Time and Secrets Of Super Productivity, often appears in the media, due to her through the roof sales and insightful, growth fueling leadership qualities. Listen in today and learn from the leaders.

In this episode, we discussed:

  • Contextual Models will sell your intellectual property – learn the what and why. (2:59)
  • Visual models are going to appeal to the person who is very much a left brain person. (13.20)
  • Models Neen uses in her public speaking, and how she acts them out with her body. (14:29)
  • One trick to give your model some mojo, by using movement. (16:07)
  • The value of having people’s attention and your responsibility in that regard. (40:30)

Learn about Mixmax here.

Learn more about Neen James here.

00:02 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal The Show with Michael Port. This is Michael. Today’s guest is Neen James. And when I think of Neen, I think of a force of nature, boundless energy, timely topics, laugh out loud fun, eye-opening ideas, takeaways that create positive change. She’s been dubbed the energizer powerhouse by event planners around the world. She is the expert and speaker to connect with if your goals include exceptional performance, through the roof sales, best in business productivity, and insightful growth-fueling leadership. And she is a dear, dear friend of mine. She often appears in the media sharing her expertise, and is a published author of eight books including “Folding Time” and “Secrets of Super Productivity.” When she isn’t speaking or coaching clients, Neen enjoys traveling the world, seeking adventure, and I can attest to collecting fabulous shoes. Hi, Neen!

01:12 Neen James: Good day! How are you doing?

01:14 Michael Port: So, Neen just took off her jewelry, and that’s all you’re taking off, right?

01:18 Neen James: For now.

01:18 Michael Port: Okay. She’s…


01:20 Michael Port: And I mentioned this because she’s actually in the studio. Normally, we have to do this over Skype, but Neen and I live quite close together. And if you recall, because you listened to earlier episodes, Neen was the guest star on episode 70, where she focused on the business of speaking. And it was one of the most popular episodes in the world, in the history of the world ever. [laughter] At least on my show. So, she’s the first guest to come back a second time, and that’s not just because…

01:53 Neen James: Oh, that’s a privilege.

01:54 Michael Port: Yes, and it’s not just because she lives close, but because that episode is so popular, I still get lots of emails about it. And recently, we were both speaking at an NSA event, and she did this presentation that blew me away. The information that she taught was presented in a way that I’d never heard it presented before. So, certainly the ideas given that I do this kind of work, the ideas for me were things that, of course, I’d thought about and I’d seen people attempt to teach. But the way that you presented it, knocked it out of the park. So, that’s what I wanna focus on here today.

02:38 Neen James: Sounds like a plan.

02:39 Michael Port: And you’re teaching contextual modeling. So, I wanna start with what is contextual modeling and why is it important not just for speakers but for executives, or sales people, or anybody else that’s trying to get other people to understand what they have to offer, consume what they have to offer, and then say yes to what they have to offer?

03:00 Neen James: Totally cool. Contextual models will sell your intellectual property, whether you’re an internal thought leader or an external. Let’s me explain a little bit more about that. You might be an internal thought leader, meaning you’re the go-to person in your company as the expert. That’s really important to understand. So, people listening to your podcast, they might have a job in the day, but they’re known as an expert. Or it might be an external thought leader where they sell their intellectual property, a speaker, author, trainer, consultant. And what they’re doing is they want the world to really understand their expertise. Contextual models will set you apart. As a professional speaker myself, I believe every speaker needs a unique contextual model. It’s a snapshot of your intellectual property in a way that only you can explain. Now, think about big accounting firms. They all have their own versions of contextual models, and the really good ones, they’re the only people who can actually explain it to you. But what’s powerful about contextual models is it can be the basis of a book, it can be a slide in your Keynote, it can be… You can have several contextual models that spin off one.

04:00 Neen James: But here’s the deal, a contextual model is really just a square, a circle, or a triangle. Sometimes you smash them together and stick some arrows on them, but that’s it, honey. It’s really, I think we overcomplicate it, but you know yourself that when you look through history, think of the late Steven Covey, first thing’s first. He had the urgent versus important quadrant model. In the food industry, we have the food pyramid. Whether you believe it or not is irrelevant, what people have smartly done is they’ve taken the complex, they’ve made it simple, and they put it in a contextual model. So, that’s what contextual models are. Now, the why behind contextual models, if you wanna make more money, contextual model will rock your practice. It just will because it stands you out. There’s a bazillion speakers on leadership, time management. Doesn’t matter, pick a topic, but if you are the speaker that has the contextual model, you show that you have depth of intellectual property. It shows you’ve researched it, so that’s one of the reasons why.

05:01 Michael Port: It’s so interesting to me that there often isn’t a huge difference between the people that are perceived as novices and the people that are perceived as experts. Often, the difference is this ability to create contextual models so that they… Because the two different people, and I’m not talking about… There’s a big difference between someone who just started three months ago and somebody who’s been doing this work for 30 years, but often people are perceived as experts in part because they’re so good at organizing their information.

05:34 Neen James: You bet.

05:35 Michael Port: And that’s the big difference between the novice and the expert. How well can you organize your information? Because you know it all, and so often when we work with new students, not often, but always when we work with new students, we have them fill out a pretty extensive questionnaire that is in part an opportunity for them to analyze their skill in different areas. So we have a sense of where they think they are when they come in. And then, we actually see where they are, when they come to see if those things match up. And one of the areas that we ask them to assess themselves on is, handling Q&A. And that’s the area that they score themselves the highest because they feel, “Well I know my stuff, it’s really easy for me to answer it.”

06:19 Neen James: Sure.

06:20 Michael Port: In other areas, that same person, and if we say, “Well, how well developed is the structure of your content?” and they’ll say at a scale of one to 10 they’ll say three. But they know all this stuff, but they haven’t figured out how to put it down, either on paper and then in a way that they can translate it to an audience, in person. So that’s what we’re gonna focus on. So…

06:43 Neen James: Love it.

06:44 Michael Port: How do you come up with these conceptual models?

06:47 Neen James: I guess I should probably let the listeners in on a secret I think in models. I know that’s really freaky, and I know I sound like I’m five, but I seriously, I think in models. So when you start talking to me, I’m already visualizing what that would look like. When you think about a contextual model, I referenced before that they’re really just squares, circles, or triangles. So let me just throw some words out and you tell me what shape comes to mind. If I talk about people, what kind of shape comes to mind for you?

07:13 Michael Port: Round.

07:13 Neen James: Correct. ‘Cause it’s circular, it’s like a hug or a cuddle, or it’s… So that makes sense, right?

07:18 Michael Port: Yeah.

07:19 Neen James: If I’m talking about a process like there’s a hierarchy to something, what kinda shape comes to mind?

07:24 Michael Port: Steps.

07:24 Neen James: Steps. Exactly, so maybe that’s an oblong, which is really just a stretched out square, let’s be honest. When you think about models, there are certain things that they’re going to lend themselves towards certain shapes. Whether it’s process or people, there are certain things that again come to mind so instantly, I think in a shape. Then what I start to think about is, “Well, what’s important about that?” Now if it’s a process, there might be particular steps in the process so rather than write out the step, I would think about, “How do I summarize it in a word?” Because one of the things I’m fascinated with is language, and I love that words have the power to make an impact and to really change the way people see things. In models, less is more. Instead of writing a series of words, can you write a word? Is there a way to elevate your intellectual property by giving it just a word? That’s another step in the process. Another way to think about it is…

08:19 Michael Port: Well, before you go to that one, what is the word for?

08:25 Neen James: It’s different things. There’s things like value models. For example, I have value models when I’m selling to a client. And what I’ve done is I’ve thought through what’s the biggest pain points that that client has? So before I get on the phone to them, I have a value model in mind. Now, the value model is for the purpose of selling my expertise to them. For example, if I was selling productivity, we’ve got team members who are working all night, they’ve not been seeing the people they care about, all kinds of things are happening. I have a value model that says “Hey, do you want the team to go home a little earlier? Do you wanna get the results you want?” I’ve created a value model for that. So the words are the paying points for that particular client. But if I’m doing a keynote in front of 5,000 people on how attention pays, I’m gonna have words in there that are kind of like my actions for that audience to take, “Embrace what matters. Conquer the world.” So they become the words in the process model. There’s value models, there’s process models…

09:19 Michael Port: It’s not just one word?

09:21 Neen James: Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not, and I wish there was more clear definition around it but, if you play with… If people are listening to this, and they start to play with what are the biggest points that they make, can they take those points and put them in a hierarchy, or can they take them and put them in a process. So it might be across the page instead of up the page. And then, can they take those words as a phrase and make it a word. Who knows, I like to use verbs. I’m all about action words because action words people can resonate with, and it shows more value, right?

09:51 Michael Port: Yeah.

09:51 Neen James: That’s another thing to do. But, I also like big contextual words. I was with an executive last night, she has a huge presentation coming up to the head of the company, and I said to her “Well, I think it’s really about these three things.” I think it’s a triangle. And this happens, and this happens, and this happens. I said, “You gotta have a strategy with satisfaction, and solutions, and substance, so you can sequence your process.” So there was all S’s, that’s another key. I love alliteration.

10:13 Michael Port: Who doesn’t?

10:14 Neen James: And probably I like it too much. But she was sitting there with her mouth open like, “How do you do this?” I was just like, “Well, it’s your intellectual property, I just packaged it differently.”

10:24 Michael Port: Sure.

10:25 Neen James: So it’s taking words that can sometimes be cheap, inexpensive words, and making them sound fancy, or more expensive, by making it more eloquent.

10:34 Michael Port: Do these words, or this word represent what you stand for?

10:39 Neen James: It can do. Yeah.

10:40 Michael Port: Let’s say, it’s freedom, you stand for freedom, or integrity, or justice, or…

10:45 Neen James: Think about, there’s probably maybe a dozen themes in the world. Freedom, happiness, peace, there’s some big contextual themes. When they teach gifted children, they teach them context so they say, “We’re gonna switch context right now.” They don’t teach them as much of the content, they teach them more conceptual and more contextual things. So things are always gonna lead to some bigger themes. But for example, if you think about “Book Yourself Solid”. Really a great book for anyone who wants to have their own practice, open their own shop, whatever it is. “Book Yourself Solid” is really about… Like the title’s Book Yourself Solid, but what’s that book really about for people who haven’t read it before?

11:24 Michael Port: Having a mad passionate love affair with the concept of marketing.

11:28 Neen James: Yeah, right. When you think about that, there’s so many models in the book already, but it’s really about marketing. Right?

11:35 Michael Port: Yeah.

11:35 Neen James: Marketing is a part of a model, but there’s a whole lot of things that have to happen and get to marketing. But you mentioned the word love affair so there’s the emotional side of the model. There’s also the rational side of the model so I love models that have a little bit more than just a process, which is very A to B or whatever. I love them when they touch that emotion, too.

11:56 Michael Port: It’s one of the reasons that that particular intellectual property has done so well and has become evergreen, because people will read it or they’ll listen to a speech and say, “Well, I’ve heard a lot of those things before”, but A, I’ve never seen it organized in that way, so there’s a process, and B, the way that he looks at it resonates with me. The philosophy that supports it, and that particular philosophy, it brings people together who share that philosophy and now you have people who are connected to each other around that particular way of being a way of thinking, but if that intellectual property did not have a really strong theme in it, philosophical underpinning, I think people would go, “Oh its good, that’s helpful.” but that’s it.

12:54 Neen James: But then think about what you did whether it was conscious or not was you elevated again, so another addition to the model that you did, you thought about people’s learning styles, and I read the “Book Yourself Solid” the first one I was like, “Yeah, this is good.” But then when you bought out the illustrated version, oh stop it, that was amazing. And I sat there with my pen and my paper on the beach, actually I took her on vacation with me and I super loved it even more, because for me who’s so visual it appealed to me in a completely different way, so that also leads me to another point that visual models are going to appeal to the person who is very much a left brain person but they wanna be able to see in a quick snapshot “What’s your intellectual property about?” So those big pictures I think is in your audience or your leadership team who just wanna know the high level detail, you give them a model, they check out for the rest of your presentation and that’s okay.

13:42 Michael Port: Yeah, I’m one of those people.

13:46 Neen James: Me too.

13:46 Michael Port: That’s how I think.

13:48 Neen James: Sure.

13:48 Michael Port: And interestingly enough, I think “Book Yourself Solid” illustrated is brilliant, but I don’t give the credit to myself for it. I didn’t do the illustrations, I brought in a visual strategist and she did the illustrations but she’s more than just an artist, she is a visual strategist. And she and I looked at all the ideas, the material, and said, “How do we cut out a lot of these words and draw pictures that people can consume?”

14:18 Neen James: And that makes my point exactly because as you know, I’m all about attention. So if you wanna get people’s attention quickly, you need a model, people don’t have time anymore, they don’t have a time to read through your blog, give them a model they’re like, “I’ve it.” Now if they loved your model they’re read further. When I use models in my keynotes, sometimes it’s a slide but often I’ll draw the model with my body so you can get really good at this. You can know your intellectual property so well that I have a Venn diagram that is the basis of my book called Folding Time, it’s one of my keynotes. On the stage, I draw the model with my hands and my body and the audience is like, “Oh my god.” and I’m saying, “Guess what? It’s on page 27.” People love that but people who have visual can see me do it and people who wanna see it in a book can then do it and write on it but you can get really clever with your contextual models when they clean, you can even act out your model.

15:04 Michael Port: Yeah, that’s right. And that’s a demonstration of incorporating the ideas that you teach in your body, in your mind, in your words, in the paper that you give them, in the visuals that you show them so that you are finding lots of different mediums to deliver these ideas.

15:27 Neen James: When I had the privilege of being at Heroic Public Speaking Live recently, I watched Amy Port, who was phenomenal on stage, you’re obviously gonna be biased, but let me just tell your listeners, if you haven’t seen her she is amazing. But she had a process that she was teaching the audience and she acted it out with her body, now to me that’s a model being acted out. Now, Amy is very conscious of what she does on stage, she knew exactly what she was doing, there was an elegance to it that a lot of the audience would have missed, but what she did was she used it so that people would remember the process. She didn’t have slides, she had her body as a tool and the process to teach and everyone could tell her the steps of the process because she used this model so powerfully. To the listeners, I want you to think of contextual models not just in the visual but that you can make them physical. Now here’s another mojo trick, if you want your model to have mojo, you also wanna give it movement. Movement is basically arrows, that’s the fancy way to do it, so if when you think about a process and the process leads to the top, the arrows would point up. If you have a circular, one of my folding time models in my book, it’s a Venn diagram in the middle but there’s arrows on the outside which indicate bigger things and they keep moving, so anyone who’s looking at it goes, “Oh, this is not complete.”

16:39 Neen James: They keep moving, so you gotta think about with your models if you wanna give it some mojo and make it even sexier, another layer to it is give a movement. Does it go up, does it go sideways, does it go down, and this is important.

16:50 Michael Port: That’s one of the things that we did with the sales cycle in “Book Yourself Solid” when we did the illustrated version. People usually think of a sales cycle as a funnel and the top is open and that’s where everybody goes in and then it gets smaller and smaller and smaller until the neck and then you start choking people into buying your biggest offer.


17:13 Michael Port: That model for me didn’t resonate.

17:14 Neen James: It doesn’t work.

17:15 Michael Port: It didn’t resonate for me and then, of course, the idea is that, well everybody goes through the same way and that’s not necessarily the case. So what we did is we took, we looked at that and we said, “Hey, people do resonate with that, they can get that, that people go in, then they move down.” So, we created what looked a little bit like a cyclone.

17:34 Neen James: Yes, I remember that visual.

17:35 Michael Port: Yeah.

17:35 Neen James: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

17:39 Michael Port: But it was a drawing with lines and the lines just circle down, and circle down, and circle down but, and there where arrows going down and there were openings so you could come in at different points.

17:50 Neen James: Yeah. Exactly. When I created the sales process for veg and I have the privilege of doing some work with [17:55] ____ team when I was in Australia and we created the sale cycle but it never closed the loop, because we’re always selling. Just because a customer comes into the store, maybe they want a cell phone from Virgin, but they also might need a safety plan because they’re gonna drop their cell phone. So, when you think about sales it doesn’t stop. Because we’ve reached the transaction at the end where the customer or the client has bought the product. So, when I create sales models for clients, if I do that level of consulting, it’s then about keeping it as an open loop because you don’t ever actually close the sale, you just open the relationship.

18:27 Michael Port: Amazing.

18:28 Neen James: So, think about the power of arrows and where the arrow head even goes, that elevates your IP again. There’s so many layers to models, I get super excited about models.

18:38 Michael Port: This is the kind of thing that is… It works very, very well when you get some help with it.

18:46 Neen James: Right. [chuckle]

18:46 Michael Port: It’s true. Because, I may think like this, I may understand this but I often need help when I’m doing it, because sometimes when you know something so well, you may not see what other people need to see in order to consume it.

19:05 Neen James: And you’re so close it honey. That’s the challenge too. There’s a great speaker out there called Marilyn Sherman and she and I were working together, we’re sitting in Starbucks in Vegas. I’d finished my keynote, she was kind enough to meet me. She was telling me a little bit about her keynotes and I said, “Honey, I think it’s this. I think you’re all about front-row leadership.” And by the way, this is what the model looks like in Starbucks on a napkin, which, if you give me a napkin be sure I’ll draw a model. And it totally changed her intellectual property. She took this brand and she ran with it, and she gets booked all over the world on front-row leadership. Front row-service. With this super cool model which has evolved. Every time I see her I was like, “Oh my god, I had another edition for your model. How about this? How about this?” And she’s so open to it. She knows her intellectual property better than anyone on this planet. But sometimes some I’m looking in exactly like you said, and because I look at it from a commercial point of view. How do I commercialize this intellectual property? It’s great if you have nice things in your model, but if you can’t make any money out of it, then…

20:00 Neen James: Yeah, what’s the point.

20:00 Neen James: What’s the point of that.

20:01 Michael Port: It’s true. When you think about the people that have done the best in the industry of developing a platform of, as a thought leader and writing books and giving speeches, most of them have models. I was thinking about our friend John Jets.

20:17 Neen James: Oh my gosh. He’s so smart. He’s crazy smart.

20:20 Michael Port: Crazy smart. He has this extraordinary model in duct tape marketing. And we did a retreat one year together where we taught and he pulled out the paper for everybody to go through it, and I looked at this paper and I just went, “Oh my God.” I get it and it’s familiar to people, but there’s something unique about it.

20:39 Neen James: You bet.

20:39 Michael Port: And that’s what made it work. Because if it’s so foreign, people are like, “I don’t get it. It’s too much.” If it looks just like what everybody else does you go, “Oh, okay. That was just… ”

20:48 Neen James: That then it looks common. You don’t want that.

20:49 Michael Port: Correct. It was just unique enough. I had on the show, Chris Voss.

20:55 Neen James: Oh, yeah.

20:56 Michael Port: Yeah. This Chris Voss, he’s my idol right now.

21:00 Neen James: Great. Great guy. You have a crush on him, don’t you? Yeah, yeah.

21:01 Michael Port: I’m a fan. Fan boy. Yeah, pretty much.


21:04 Michael Port: And for those of you who missed that episode, he was the former top hostage negotiator for the FBI and he wrote a book called, “Never Split The Difference.”

21:16 Neen James: It was a great podcast.

21:17 Michael Port: Which I’d listened to the book and then I read the book and then I read the book again. That’s when you find something that you really resonate with. And one of the things he said is that often the difference between what works and what doesn’t work is a 2 millimeter difference. It’s not always a massive change. It’s often a slight 2 millimeter difference. And he brought that up because I gave him an example of doing a voice over without a smile without a smile and doing a voice over with a smile. Because we were talking about the different voices you use for negotiation.

21:54 Neen James: Interesting.

21:55 Michael Port: And there’s three different voices that he would use when he’s negotiating with hostage takers and he says you should use these different voices in different ways in your business negotiations. And one of them is the playful voice with a smile. And I have that kind of playful voice, I use it a lot. But I don’t always. I can do the assertive voice, and listen, here’s the… But, each person has a natural voice. Someone has a natural assertive, someone has a natural playful and someone else has a natural sort of FM DJ voice. And they kinda talk like this and really mellow and they have fun with it. And so, the example I used is, listen how different it sounds when I do this tag for a voice over. With a smile and without a smile. And I’m not gonna do it now because I want you to go back and listen to that episode so you get the context of all of it. And that was with Chris Voss. I’m not sure what episode number that was. But I do know that Neen’s episode was number 70. So, you’re gonna go back and listen to that as well. Neen was number 70.

23:03 Neen James: When I think about what Chris is doing, instantly I’m thinking there’s three circles, there’s a playful voice, there’s a natural voice and there’s an assertive voice. There’s volume and there’s tone. And I’m drawing this for Michael as we’re sitting in front of each other. So, instantly, if Chris wanted to elevate his IP in a different way, there’s different ways that you could do it in a contextual model.

23:21 Michael Port: Yeah. I’m so upset that I had this thought just now because I’ve said to everybody, “If I say I’m gonna write another book just punch me in the face.” And when you’re saying this I was thinking about Chris’ book, I’m like, “Oh, he didn’t have these models in there but his ideas are… They take the shape of models but he didn’t use it.” Then I thought, “Wait a minute, I didn’t put any models into ‘Steal the Show.’ Oh, I need to do ‘Steal the Show’ illustrated.” Oh no!

23:53 Neen James: Sorry.

23:53 Michael Port: And then I said no, no, no.


23:55 Neen James: But think about how cool that would be as a resource. Okay. Before you have a panic attack, and I’m not punching him in the face. But, before you do that, now think through that. Like, think about “Book Yourself Solid, Steal a Show.” Imagine if it was a workbook for those people who love that so whole another idea. I learned modeling from truly one of the best thought leaders I know in the world, our mutual friend, Matt Church. Matt Church has the scariest mind of anyone I know. He will sit in a room, and he has a model within moments. And he can capture intellectual property like no one I’ve ever seen. Now, having grown up under his leadership, and watching the way that he shows up in the world so amazingly, and the value that he brings. And the fact that he’s been able to teach other thought leaders how to commercialize their intellectual property through modeling, that’s really where I credit my love and passion of models. Because Matt has not only done it but every book you ever pick up from him, blogs you read, white papers he publishes, keynotes that he performs, I have seen him really steal the show, to use your phrase, because of the brilliance that he has.

24:54 Neen James: And as the head of thought leadership globally, he’s like no one I’ve ever seen. And I think having that privilege to be around someone that great, that thinks like that, it just rubs off on you, too. So if I sit with you in a bar or a cafe, or I’m renowned for this at my conferences, if you tell me a little bit about your IP, chances are, I’m sitting there drawing something on a napkin, or whatever, because I guess I saw Matt do that for years. And he’s so good at it. And it’s just something I became fascinated with.

25:20 Michael Port: Matt is an extraordinary guy. He brought me down to Australia…

25:24 Neen James: Oh, my God, yeah.

25:24 Michael Port: Remember that? A number of years ago.

25:26 Neen James: I remember the photos, of you guys on the boat.

25:28 Michael Port: It was great. It was great. And I spent a day or two with his students. And then, of course, he knew that I loved boats. So he borrowed, with the captain, the captain came with him… He borrowed one of his friends’ 70-foot boats, yachts.

25:42 Neen James: Of course he did. He’s a great host.

25:43 Michael Port: And we went out for the day.


25:45 Neen James: And Sydney Harbor. Seriously, you couldn’t get a prettier place in the world to sail.

25:51 Michael Port: I’ll tell you what, our boat’s almost as big as that, not quite, a few feet shorter. But if somebody said, like, one of the most nicer friends, Jordan Harbor, just said, “Hey, Michael, can I borrow your boat to take a client out?”, I’d say, “You’re out of your fricking mind.” [laughter] But clearly, Matt is the kind of person that people will say, “Sure, here’s my $4 million yacht!”

26:08 Neen James: Yeah, of course, they would! People will do anything for him, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So I think that contextual models need to… If you’re listening to this and thinking, “Where do I even start?” Think about a shape that comes to mind first. What’s the shape that comes around your intellectual property? Is it a process model? Is it a value model? What kinds of keywords or phrases do you use? Is there movement you can have for merger? And then, all of a sudden, you start scribbling. And by the way, this is really tough to do by yourself, like Michael said before. It’s something that would be really valuable to have others, but you’ve gotta have… I think there’s different kinds of models for different things. Sometimes, the simpler the better. But some of my models that I’ve worked with clients on have so many layers to them, that’s also another way that adds it to be more commercial. So when I go in and work with organizations, I will say to them, “This is the first level of the model. There’s four other levels. How far do we wanna go in this?”

27:00 Neen James: And so, for me, sometimes with clients, as you know, my strategy is, I go in and I go deep. So I might say, “Let’s do this each quarter. Let’s do these sections of the model. And we can highlight that.” I also am often hired by a client to sit in the back of the room at their leadership meeting, and then, he’ll say of a particular person, he said, “I just want the real estate in your brain. At the end of the meeting, tell me what we’re talking about.” So I’ll draw a model, and say, “Is this what we’re all about? “And those models get used, then, for the next year. Because if you can create for your leadership team an easy way for them to communicate your strategies, your objectives for the next year, that makes their life so much easier. So models give leaders tools to be able to communicate more powerfully. And that’s another thing if you’re a speaker listening to this, or consultant, your model makes it easier for your clients to buy you. It makes it easier for them to justify the investment they’re making in you. And just as a heads up, every time that I add a model to a proposal, generally speaking, I close about 98% of those deals. Because no one else puts their models in their proposals. But what a client can see is there’s depth.

28:08 Michael Port: Yeah, and people generally don’t buy coaching conversations, they buy processes.

28:15 Neen James: You bet.

28:16 Michael Port: And they don’t buy speeches, they buy processes.

28:20 Neen James: Yep.

28:20 Michael Port: Hopefully. And they will buy those processes and speeches from the person that is the most entertaining to watch while delivering those processes.

28:29 Neen James: You bet.

28:30 Michael Port: So there are other elements involved, but at a fundamental level, they wanna know exactly how are we going to do the thing that you’re telling us to do.

28:41 Neen James: And here’s a trick. If you go back and listen to Episode 70, we talked about BDA, Before, During, and After. Every time a client says to me, “Well, Neen, what’s your keynote fee?” I say, “Well, before we get into that, can I walk you through our process? We have what we call BDA, Before, During, and After. Let me walk you through the process, the keynote is a part of that.” Now I have a model for that. It’s obviously templatized. You know that I’m super productive. But that BDA model, the client’s like, “Oh, my God!” And then when they ask my fee, I tell them. And then they go, “Oh, does that include? Does that include?” I’m like, “That’s everything included.”

29:14 Michael Port: Wow.

29:14 Neen James: And they’re like, “Oh, my God!” Now what I’ve done is sold more than an hour’s speech.

29:18 Michael Port: Yep. You’re not just creating models for the material that you’re gonna be teaching them when you’re in the room with them. You’re actually using models in the sales process.

29:28 Neen James: You bet! That’s how you sell more.

29:29 Michael Port: That’s amazing.

29:30 Neen James: And I learned that from Matt Church. And Peter Cooke is really good at that, too, if you look up Peter Cooke, who works with Matt.

29:35 Michael Port: Yeah, I know Peter, yeah.

29:36 Neen James: Good guy. But I think that it was through Pete that I learned the difference between convincing someone to buy and being able to stand in your conviction to sell. And I think, instead of that convincing selling, it’s about conviction selling. It’s about, I believe in my IP so much, that I’ll say to a client, “I’m not the right speaker for you. By the way, knowing what you know, I think this speaker would be awesome.” And we’ve talked about this before. The best speeches I’ve ever had are from other speakers. Speakers refer other speakers. We all know that, but I think if you know other speaker’s models, you can also then refer them. We know John’s brilliant with duct tape marketing and we know that Scott Stretton is amazing with everything on marketing and selling. They have their own models. We can confidently promote them to our clients because we know what they stand for.

30:19 Michael Port: And it makes it easier for us to share their ideas to get that potential buyer interested in them. Because it’s like, “Oh hey no I know someone who is really good at speaking on marketing.” They’re not gonna be interested. Listen, I know somebody who has a brilliant system for X and this is what it looks like. They’ll, of course, describe it better than I will, but and you can still do it and if they figure, “Wow, if Michael can explain their system that well, that guy is gonna do it even better.”

30:48 Neen James: Exactly. And think about the speakers for the listeners who are really tuned into this. I’ve had the privilege of seeing Judson lately do his thing. I’ve brought him into clients. He has a fantastic process that… He is known for evolution of the dance, YouTube viral sensation, but has he these amazing processes and these models that he doesn’t always draw them but I can see them happening. When I talk to a client about Judson, I can say, “Oh my god! Ask him about this amazing process where he engages the room to do something.” And so I’m selling him to my client. It makes it so much easier when Judson makes the call to the clients. He says hey, let’s have a chat about what you need and I think when we know our friend’s IPs if we understand their models, it makes it easier to refer them.

31:26 Michael Port: When you are working with executives at a company and they bring you in. You sit, watch their presentation, watch their meeting and then they say we want your real estate and you say okay, here’s what you’re talking about and you create this model for them. You mentioned that there are four levels of the modeling. Am I understanding that correctly?

31:49 Neen James: I said that some models, my models often have four levels so they…

31:52 Michael Port: Okay. Could you unpack that a little bit for us what that means.

31:55 Neen James: Yeah, you bet. In Folding Time at the first level, it’s basically a Venn diagram. If you can imagine if people remember from school, a Venn diagram is really just three circles that connect. On the first one, it says time. The second one says attention and the third one says energy. That’s one layout. So I could speak to that for an hour.

32:15 Michael Port: Yeah. And that’s in your Folding Time presentation.

32:16 Neen James: Correct. Within the model, within the circles, there are additional words, that’s another layer. Then what I’ve done is I’ve said outside of the model, there’s the words filter and flow meaning we have to filter our decisions and monitor our workflow. That’s level number three. And then there’s arrows and I’ve named the intersections of the Venn diagram. So where the circles connect, I’ve put words in there that says if you really wanna have more impact influence and integrity alliteration, that’s another level. So all of the sudden this model…

32:47 Michael Port: Multiple levels, yeah.

32:48 Neen James: Correct. And so the way to give it multiple levels is to think about naming your intersections if that’s a possibility, naming your movement. Understanding not just contextually what’s it’s about like “Book Yourself Solid” is about marketing, but it’s also about a love affair, right?

33:04 Michael Port: Yeah. I have to say that folks who are in our graduate school right now who are listening are pretty pumped up because you’re coming to teach this to our grad students.

33:12 Neen James: Oh, I’m so excited. That’s gonna be so much fun. Yeah, we’re gonna have a blast.

33:16 Michael Port: And I’m sorry, folks who aren’t in grad school, you’ll have to go directly to Neen and I’m sure people are… They’re gonna wanna see these models what you’re talking about. So where should they go, where can they go to get a look at these models, the ones that you create?

33:31 Neen James: If you’d go to my website, you’ll see this sprinkled throughout. If you go to the “Attention Pays” page and you scroll about a third of the way down, you’ll see the attention pays model which is what I use as the basis of my book for next year. It’s basis of my keynote. It’s what I put in my proposals. You’ll see that. You’ll also if you look on the blogs, you’ll see there’s blogs just about contextual models. There’s YouTube videos just about contextual model. So you’ll be able to see it.

33:52 Michael Port: And that’s at

33:53 Neen James: Correct, yeah.

33:54 Michael Port: N-E-E-N When you’re writing a book, do you start with your contextual modeling and then write the narrative?

34:01 Neen James: I do, that’s exactly what I do. The “Folding Time” book was created because I worked out the model and then I just wrote and if you would look at that book, every chapter is just named the model. So there’s a whole section on time surprise, attention surprise, energy. That’s the name of the chapter. So I took the model and then named the chapter, those things. And then that made it super easy ’cause all I had to do was find evidence to support it. Now what’s interesting with intellectual property is everyone listening to this has their own stories, their own research, their own dart, or their own process that sits behind their contextual model. They just haven’t thought about organizing it in that way and that was something that Matt exposed me to really early in my career. Was the idea of creating a snapshot of your intellectual property and a model is a part of that.

34:46 Michael Port: Gosh, it just seems like if you can do that before you start trying to create your speeches and your books, it’s so much easier because a lot of times we just sit there and we look at the blank page or the blank screen.

35:00 Neen James: Page one, chapter one?

35:01 Michael Port: Yeah, and we start just typing.

35:03 Neen James: I can’t do that. That just makes me wanna vomit so I’m not doing that.

35:06 Michael Port: Yeah. And for some people in my work rate, a huge person has…

35:09 Neen James: God bless them if they have that ability. I’m not that smart.

35:12 Michael Port: Yeah. There’s so many different ways to get into the content creation process and this one is elegant. I think it’s very elegant.

35:25 Neen James: Yeah, it is.

35:25 Michael Port: And one of the things it seems like it does is that if you start with the modeling then you may keep your work cleaner.

35:37 Neen James: Yes, and it’s a decision filtering system. So when you’re trying to decide whether something stays or go when it’s in relation to a book or a speech or a proposal even, you now have a decision filtering system.

35:49 Michael Port: That’s amazing, it really is amazing ’cause often we just throw everything in the kitchen sink into our speeches or our books.

35:55 Neen James: Especially our first book. A sign of a new speak out to me is someone who tries to do everything, vomits all over their audiences and says, “I, me, and my I all the time.”

36:04 Michael Port: Too much, too much plane not enough runway, yeah.

36:07 Neen James: Yeah, yeah. But then the speaker who is really polished is all about their audience, their stories are very rarely about themselves. They’re more about the benefits the audience they have some amazing IP that’s being published in some format. In the same way, when you think about books that are really well written, the books that stand out to you are because they have their intellectual property so clean. Now when you think about… Remember that book “Fish?”

36:30 Michael Port: Yeah, sure.

36:31 Neen James: The Fish Philosophy?

36:31 Michael Port: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

36:32 Neen James: Okay, it’s four steps. And so many corporations bought that book on mass and the consulting and the speeches and everything that goes with it because elegantly they have four things. And that’s the trick is being able to take everything you know, package it in such a unique way that you’re the best person to talk about that.

36:50 Michael Port: It’s so interesting because it’s almost contrarian. Because when I started, I was so concerned about being perceived as somebody who was smart and knew what they were talking about that I pushed away from the idea of doing things that were that simple. So I thought “Well, I’ve gotta make something that is more… ”

37:13 Neen James: Gotta impress people.

37:14 Michael Port: Exactly!


37:16 Neen James: I want people to go to, “Well, he’s very smart.”

37:17 Michael Port: Wow, he’s so smart.


37:18 Michael Port: But that’s completely useless, it’s irrelevant. What you want them to do is read it and go, “That’s right.”

37:26 Neen James: And you want them to say, “I can do that.”

37:28 Michael Port: That’s right.

37:28 Neen James: It’s the application and one of the things I love about models is you give people application. No matter, I had a call with an executive today, they are the most senior person in this massive media company. And he said, “Neen you know what I love about our calls? You always give me a call to action.”

37:42 Michael Port: Yeah.

37:43 Neen James: And so if you can make it simple for people, models make it simple and they know what they have to do. Here’s the other thing about a really cool model, people can see themselves in a model. So if there’s a process, right…

37:53 Michael Port: Yeah, sure they see where they are.

37:54 Neen James: They can go, oh, I’m on the third rung, I need to get on the fifth rung, now that’s something Matt showed me beautifully. He has this phenomenon model when they teach thought leadership and people have different levels of commercializing their ideas. He has this beautiful model about commercializing your intellectual property. And it’s a black belt model like you’ve done martial arts, so black belt as we know in martial arts is a very high level. But what’s nice is, if I’m at white belt, and I’m only making a certain amount of money but I wanna be a red belt, it shows me how to get there. So what’s brilliant about the models that I’ve seen him create in others is I can see myself on the model. And then I know where I wanna be, so it’s aspirational as well.

38:34 Michael Port: Yes.

38:34 Neen James: So there’s a location, I can see myself on it, and then there’s aspiration, but I’m here but I wanna be there, and that’s another good model.

38:40 Michael Port: It also lets in a broader audience, people who are at different levels because sometimes if you create a piece of intellectual property and people start into it, they start with it, reading it or listening to it. They very quickly are gonna to try to determine whether or not it’s for them. And if they feel, “Oh well this, I know this stuff already, this is beginners stuff, then they’ll turn off,” or they’ll go. “Geez, this is too advanced for me, I’m not there yet.” For example, my second book was “Beyond Book Solid,” first book was “Book Yourself Solid.” So I wrote “Beyond Book Solid” for the people that were starting to scale up, they wanted to create a more leveraged business, run teams, etcetera. And when it came out of the gate, it didn’t sell as well and I couldn’t figure out why. And what people said, my readers were, “Well, I’m not there yet.” I was like, “No!”

39:42 Neen James: So instead of being inspirational, it alienated?

39:44 Michael Port: Correct, correct.

39:45 Neen James: Yeah, I get it.

39:45 Michael Port: And if I went back and did it all over again. I would actually combine those two. Because it’s not that… They are not really… They are part and parcel of the same thing. And…

40:00 Neen James: Yeah. So this could be part of the illustrated version, you know that. So you could have the “Book Yourself Solid and Beyond illustrated version.” Still, the show could be that illustrated vision. Sorry, sorry, that’s like five more books.

40:12 Michael Port: Yeah, right.

40:13 Neen James: But it does make a lot of sense, though.

40:15 Michael Port: I’m saying, no, no, no, you need this even if you are not there because there’s a lot that you can take from it. And it was positioning in a sense the way I positioned it. If I’d positioned it differently, they wouldn’t have thought, “Oh it’s not for me.” They would have thought, “Oh, there are things in there that I can do right now and there are things that I can reach for.”

40:33 Neen James: I think people’s attention is the greatest gift. And when people give me their attention whether they’re reading my blog or watching a video or they’re sitting in an audience watching a keynote, that’s the greatest thing they can ever give me is their attention, because I have such a limited amount of time and a limited amount of attention. And so our responsibility when we have a message to share with the world is present it in a contextual model where you get to the point quickly, you really show people I am saving you time, this is what it’s truly all about, I’m giving you the best right now, do your model early, do it quickly and then you say to them, “Thank you for your attention.” Because what they do is, and for people who are visual, they remember the model, they don’t remember all the statistics and the stories but gosh, they’ll remember the model.

41:12 Michael Port: What’s the first thing that someone should do if they are excited about this and want to do it for themselves, where should they start?

41:21 Neen James: Start looking for models, start seeing what resonates with you. I’ve told you about Covey and the Food Pyramid. Now because we’ve trained people, this thing called RAS, your Reticular Activation System, R-A-S, so I say R-A-Z. Tune your RAS, tune your RAS to start looking for models, see them in magazines, books, on television, on bolos, start to look for models and see what resonates with you, and then start thinking through first, what shape comes to mind? When you think about your contextual messages, the biggest messages of your presentation, or your book, or your keynote, or your consulting agreement, what’s the biggest messages and what shape comes to mind? Now, if you go to my website, there’s actually a cheat sheet. So there’s model’s already created from the thought leadership community that you can just download.

42:05 Michael Port: Nice.

42:06 Neen James: So go and just do a search on my blog, somewhere on contextual models, and this will come up for you, and what you can do is just… You can even just steal one of those models. Because they’re already there. So it gives you a whole lot of choices.

42:19 Michael Port: Those models are not necessarily proprietary they’re models that are…

42:23 Neen James: Venn diagrams.

42:24 Michael Port: Exactly.

42:24 Neen James: Stuff like that. But what I love about making it uniquely yours, is when you start to add your fingerprint, your word choices, your movement, your stories. It makes the model come alive. So you can still take these templates, this cheat sheet, and create it as your own. I’ve worked with a 100s of speakers over the years to create contextual models for them, and what has helped with that is that they’ve seen their fee structure change. ‘Cause you might be a speaker who’s less than 10,000, I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, I’m just saying let’s just say that as a number because I can calculate by 10. But you might be less than $10,000 right now because you might be saying other things that other people are saying, you may not be published, maybe you don’t have a contextual model. But once you have published work with a contextual model in it, it’s much easier to get 10,000 plus. Because people can see you have depth, you have a uniqueness, you have a perspective, you have experience. So I think it helps elevate our fee structure, for those people listening who are speakers.

43:20 Michael Port: That’s fantastic. Neen, you’re the best.

43:23 Neen James: This has been fun.

43:24 Michael Port: You’re the best, and I thank you for your attention. You drove over here, and…

43:28 Neen James: You gave me champagne…

43:30 Michael Port: Oh, I did we didn’t mention that… I gave her a glass of champagne…

43:32 Neen James: I’ve been drinking bubbly while I’ve been talking. [laughter]

43:34 Michael Port: And it’s still pretty early in the day.

43:36 Neen James: But hey don’t be judging me.

43:37 Michael Port: No, I’m not judging you I gave you the champagne. [laughter] It’s five o’clock somewhere I’m sure.

43:41 Neen James: I’m Australian so it’s got to be a different time zone.

43:43 Michael Port: Oh yeah, it’s night time, you’re off partying right now. But congratulations on recently becoming a US citizen.

43:49 Neen James: Thank you, I’m so excited about that.

43:51 Michael Port: This was your first election that you just voted in.

43:53 Neen James: Yeah, what a one to vote in right?

43:54 Michael Port: Right, it’s a big one. Well, is where you go for more. Everybody wants more Neen James, and write in if you want even more, maybe we can get her back, and do a third episode.


44:07 Neen James: Well, for the graduates I get to hang out with them. So you just need to come and be part of the heroic public speaking community, and we’ll get to see each other more.

44:13 Michael Port: That’s fantastic. Thank you so much.

44:14 Neen James: My privilege, thank you.

44:16 Michael Port: And so keep thinking big about who you are, and what you offer the world. Thank you for your time, I never take it for granted. I know my guests don’t either, I certainly know that Neen doesn’t. It’s a privilege, and it’s an honor to be in service of you, and we’ll get up every day and keep doing our best for you. Bye for now.