[00:00:00] Queena Bergen: We welcome you to imagine the places you couldn’t fathom being within a story’s reach. Cuz we believe that all people could have that dream guaranteed. If you take a beat, make big choices and crush your fears, you can reach goals. Still the show because change is inevitable. Evolution is a choice.
[00:00:24] Michael Port: Hi, this is Michael Port and you’re listening to Steal the Show, a podcast from Heroic Public speaking about how to guarantee a standing ovation for all the performances in your life.
[00:00:36] Here at Heroic Public Speaking. We believe that leading with our values is a big part of what makes us successful. Our values align with the work we do and with the way we talk about that work. So I asked our communications director Dylan Gallimore, to join me for a conversation about how he translates heroic public speaking’s values into engaging communications.
[00:00:59] I especially wanna know how Dylan approaches writing and how you can use writing to connect with your audience and communicate who you are as a thought leader. Let’s start with brand voice and generally when people think about branding, they think about how something looks, and then maybe they think about big companies in branding with their logos.
[00:01:25] But for thought leadership, The idea of branding may be a little bit different and I’d love to get your take on it. And, you know, heroic public speaking is a thought leadership business. So it seems like the work you are doing, uh, on our brand is probably similar to the way that other thought leaders might wanna think about, uh, the work that they’re doing on their brand.
[00:01:48] So how do you see brand voice for a thought leader? And is it different than the way that. You might see, uh, branding for other types of organizations.
[00:01:58] Dylan Gallimore: Definitely. Yeah. So I think you’re right to say that people do tend to think of branding as how something looks, uh, and, and they think of the assets, they think of the logo, they think of the color schemes, all this kind of thing.
[00:02:08] Obviously that’s a huge, hugely important part of branding. It’s obviously central to an organization or any given thought leaders brand, but it’s not the whole brand. You talked about values. Brands are stories and their narratives. Uh, they’re stories that institutions or organizations or thought leaders or even just people, individual human beings, tell both to themselves and about themselves in order to accomplish what they want to accomplish in order to, to communicate with the audience that they wanna communicate with.
[00:02:41] So, That’s how I think about brands. I try to think about them as narratives or stories, and if that’s your starting point, you realize that a brand is so much more than just, you know, the suite of colors that you pick. For your organization? Mm. It’s, uh, you have to start, I think, much deeper. You have to go much further under the hood, so to speak, and really, really think about what do I care about deeply?
[00:03:08] What do I want? What do I want my audience to do? What do I want to communicate with them? What do I have in, in commonality with them? What are our shared values? Uh, so much of this process is about clearing things away. It’s about knowing. What you are not interested in about knowing what you don’t, you know, maybe you like, but aren’t passionate about.
[00:03:26] It’s about really clearing away a lot of unneeded interests or ideas until you’re down to the core values that you have and that are in alignment with your audience. And if you have a team, if you’re an entrepreneur and, and you have an organization, ideally you would want those values to be in alignment with your team too.
[00:03:43] Uh, so you have this sort of straight line. Alignment around a core set of values between your internal organization, yourself, your, your message, or the story that your brand is telling. And then your audience, these things are ideally in total alignment. That’s, that’s what I think brands often need to work towards in their, in their communications, in their storytelling.
[00:04:06] Michael Port: The alignment is really critical, especially in this industry, in thought leadership because, you know, there are still a fair number of folks who, who do develop brands. That are designed to represent a certain ideal, but you know, the folks behind the brand may or may not actually live that brand. And that’s true across the world.
[00:04:33] You know, the older you get, you know, the more you see it. But when you are aligned, it becomes, at least in this industry, a major differentiator. This is something that was shocking to me early in my career in thought leadership because sometimes I’d get off stage or I’d meet somebody who read a book and they’d say, oh my God, you’re exactly like, I thought you’d be thank you, or I wanna thank you for your integrity.
[00:05:03] And I was really uncomfortable with that at first because it just seemed weird, meaning. Integrity should be table stakes. Yeah. Like, that’s like, that should just be a baseline. You shouldn’t get a pat on the back for being who you say you are. But I realized over time, oh wow, I’m developing this reputation for integrity without actually talking about integrity.
[00:05:29] All, all I’m doing is doing what I say I’m gonna do. Mm-hmm. And as a result, for whatever reason, that value took hold. Uh, so, you know, often folks. They actually have a brand identity that they haven’t intentionally developed, you know, and then have to consider what do they want their brand identity to be?
[00:05:48] Which is interesting, isn’t it, Dylan? Because if you have to think about what do I want my brand identity to be? Are you in some way manufacturing a brand identity, or are you chiseling away at the persona you’ve developed to actually reveal the values you want to lead with?
[00:06:09] Dylan Gallimore: I love that question and I ideally, it’s the latter, right?
[00:06:12] As I mentioned before, so much of this deeper branding work is about clearing things away. It’s about, it’s about deciding what doesn’t work, what isn’t part of you and the story that you make up. And this is honestly true, whether you’re a thought leader or a large company. There’s a lot of reflection and introspection here.
[00:06:31] There’s a lot of really kind of looking inward and thinking very critically. About those common core values. I’ll say this too. You know, a lot of, I think, you know, organizations realize that this is important work to do at some point in the past, and I. Unfortunately, especially a lot of bigger organizations, they know they have to do this, but they do kind of treat it a little bit like going shopping.
[00:06:56] Yeah. For values, right? Like there’s a, there’s a sh like, oh, we know we need to have deeper values that will shape our brand and thus target us towards. Our, our audience and the kind of people that we wanna be having conversations with. Um, so let’s go figure out what the best ones are to make the, to make that happen basically.
[00:07:12] Yeah. And people can smell authenticity, especially these days when we’re, we’re all wash and stories. We’re all wash and content. We’re so overstimulated more than ever in terms of getting information from people who are selling to us or advertising to us on Instagram or on television, whatever it may be.
[00:07:27] And people are better than ever at sussing out. What feels phony, and it’s so funny, Michael, that you talk about, you know, authenticity and integrity, getting you lots of pats on the back. While you’re saying, I can’t believing, I’m getting pats on the back for this. This should be table stakes in a way.
[00:07:42] It’s that simple and it’s that complicated. It really is about, you can’t just kind of slap on some values like, oh, like. Our values are gonna be honesty or hard work. You can’t just pick them off of a shelf. You actually, you actually really do have to reflect and know, uh, uh, who, who you are and what you offer the world and feel confident in that.
[00:08:03] And. When you clear away everything else, those things become very clear. That tells you where you need to go branding wise, uh, cuz you’ll find your audience that way.
[00:08:12] Michael Port: Yeah. I’d like to use Heroic Public speaking as an example, and my hope is that it’s not self-serving, but that it is supportive and serving of the audience because, you know, you came in two years ago to heroic public speaking and you needed to analyze the brand and then.
[00:08:30] Adjust, adapt to the brand. You know, you’d been working in a different environment previously, um, but also you needed to make sure that the brand voice was in fact clear. You did a lot of brand work when you first came in, but then now, two years later, you’re doing a lot of, uh, strategic work and planning around recalibrating the brand so that it’s not primarily based on.
[00:08:58] Amy and myself, but it is based on the brand of the business and the, the return on investment that people we serve get right. The work that we do. And so I’d love you to talk about what your first impressions were when you came in, and then also. What you did at that time, you know, to make improvements and then you know, how you think about the brand and how you’re thinking about adjusting that brand going forward.
[00:09:25] Now it’s a big question. We don’t need to spend a lot of time on it, but I do ask it because a lot of the people who are listening are making transitions. So they’re moving from one brand to this new thought leadership brand, or they have a brand and they’re trying to amplify it for thought leadership, or they’re trying to, you know, build a company and maybe remove themselves from that brand and then go into thought leadership and develop their own
[00:09:48] Dylan Gallimore: brand.
[00:09:48] Yeah, no, I’m, I’m, I’m happy to, happy to talk about this. Uh, I’ll, I’ll first say, I’m super lucky, uh, as someone who works in communications and in and in brand image and identity because hero, public, speaking’s, brand voice and brand identity are very fun. They’re, it’s a very, very fun story to be telling.
[00:10:02] And to that point, you know, as I, as I mentioned earlier, brands are stories. Your brand is a story that you’re telling to your audience about your audience, but also about you and about your thought leadership and, uh, your organization or your work and, and how, how you’re working to change the world and how, how you’re engaging your audience.
[00:10:20] Their stories, which means like all stories, they change, they grow, they evolve. Characters go on journeys, they encounter obstacles, they overcome those obstacles. We are attracted to. Certain values in those things, we buy into those stories and away we go on the journey with that brand. So when I first started at Hero Public Speaking, I loved our brand voice.
[00:10:39] Uh, it was described to me as 50% thought leader, 50% friend. And I love how simple that is. I would encourage anybody who’s thinking about their brand voice, whether they’re an individual thought leader, or they’re, uh, someone leading a team, whatever it may be, if you can simplify it that well, where you can boil it down to something that.
[00:10:59] Pretty much anybody in this line of work can understand very quickly, 50% this, 50% that maybe it’s a third of this, a third that a third something else, whatever it may be. A simple illustration of how you communicate is great for, for new team members for thinking, okay, how do I frame something? It, it helps.
[00:11:15] Guide your, your decisions when you do, uh, your brand communications. So when I started at Herrell Public speaking, we had a very, very engaging, very, very, uh, friendly voice. One of the most interesting things to me when I started was how much our communications were written. In second person we’re talking about you, the website.
[00:11:34] Copy says you. It’s very direct. That’s uncommon. Um, that’s very uncommon and I think it makes heroic public speaking more direct, more effective and more engaging in how we talk to our target audience and it makes them feel brought into something with us. Right. If I’m talking about you, the implications that there’s also a me.
[00:11:54] Right. There’s us together and there’s an invitation in that language and in that brand voice for us to do, to do more together, to accomplish things
[00:12:02] Michael Port: together, which of course is one of our core values. It’s one of our core four. We can do more together
[00:12:08] Dylan Gallimore: than alone. Absolutely, yes. So there’s right there, there is alignment between the organization’s values and how it’s communicating, and you see how it can have an impact on an audience.
[00:12:17] Michael Port: you changed your approach to the way that you communicate our values since you came on? And then what are you doing as we wanna make that sort of overall branding change so that we’re not focused as much on us, but more on the organization? How do you make that change? Like how do you start to change that brand identity because, Although many elements of, of it will stay, of course the same.
[00:12:42] And consistent the way we communicate that brand identity may change. Uh, where we communicate it, you know what we show, what we don’t show. A a lot of things will change over time. And so I think that’s, Important for listeners to understand. How do you think about changing a brand that already exists?
[00:13:02] You know, because we may do a rename, I’m not gonna obviously share what that will be here, or, you know, there’s a number of different things we need to consider before we make that decision. But we may even be changing the name of the organization as we are growing so quickly. So, What do you do there, Dylan?
[00:13:19] Dylan Gallimore: Okay. I’m gonna get, really, this is gonna feel almost spiritual if you’ll indulge me. Okay. All right. There’s a saying that character is destiny, right? For the sake of this discussion, I’m gonna sub out character and just sub in values, right? So your, your values are your destiny, right? What you value will determine where you go, what somebody wants, can often tell you who they are or who they’re trying to be or become.
[00:13:42] So let’s say for the sake of this discussion that values are destiny, right? Or values are your destination. What you value informs where you are going. Okay? Let’s stipulate that. Then when it comes to branding, again, brands being stories, brands are stories that you tell to your audience about your audience and to yourself.
[00:13:58] The destination informs the journey. So where you are going informs what you need to do to get there. So the decisions about how to change your brand, how to tell your story, how to make different shifts in how you approach these things are shaped by where you want to go. You think backwards from the end point, and that end point is defined by your values.
[00:14:23] It’s like a journey that’s a circle almost. It starts with your values and it ends with your values, and there’s an evolution along the way and your audience comes along with you and there’s an entire journey that. That you go on. But the way that I approach this at Hero Public Speaking is we’re very clear about the kind of organization that we want to become because we are very clear about what our values are.
[00:14:45] So when I make decisions about changing our brand voice and trying to make shifts in our brand image with our audience, all of those decisions are guided by the end result. Which is shaped by what we value internally. Hmm. So again, there’s a lot there. I got very spiritual with it. But this is, this to me is really the beauty of this work.
[00:15:07] Uh, it requires deep introspection and, and critical thinking and, um, a lot of reflection about what you genuinely care about business and work. And what we do is a massive part of our lives and. So often organizations don’t do that kind of deep work or don’t encourage it, and, uh, we should, because it, it gives us opportunity to take that huge chunk of our lives and find like real deep meaning in it.
[00:15:37] Michael Port: Hmm. Thank you. You know, you’re responsible for the brand voice across the company and, uh, you know, so you don’t, uh, create the social media pieces, things like that, you know, Queena does, but you oversee, of course, the brand voice and make sure everything is aligned with our values. And, you know, communicating those values through writing is really important, but, You don’t really just go out and say, I mean, you’re obviously, you’re gonna have places where your values are illustrated, displayed, shown off, et cetera.
[00:16:10] Um, but, but they’ve gotta show up in the work you do and the way you communicate and the ideas that you share. And so, you know, you do an enormous amount of writing. And I’d love to talk a little bit about your process for writing and how you make sure. That every piece of collateral that goes out, whether it’s a social post or an email, or a CK newsletter, all of these are first and foremost leading with our values.
[00:16:42] No matter what they’re about, that they leave those, reading those or experiencing those, understanding what we value, what we believe, but. Still, the piece may not talk about those things, right? Like that’s not what the piece is for. So what’s your process to keep that brand voice front and center and consistent across all the different channels through which we
[00:17:03] Dylan Gallimore: communicate as we grow as an organization, as we expand, as we try to do new things, there are.
[00:17:09] New opportunities to, to do exactly what you’re talking about. And, uh, opportunities may be euphemism cuz they’re often new challenges, right? Because growth puts you in new places. You’re, there are different channels that you’re communicating in that maybe you weren’t before. There are different audiences that you’re trying to reach.
[00:17:24] So, expanding my process and how, how I go about putting our brand voice front and center and keeping it. Up to our standards. It is a challenge. Uh, it’s a great challenge. It’s a very, very, I would say, rich and rewarding challenge. I love this work. I, I love this work and I think, I think a lot about it all the time.
[00:17:42] So it’s a great challenge for me, uh, that I find professionally very, very satisfying and personally. But it is a challenge. There’s no question. So here’s what I’ll say. Uh, you know, I think people are gonna start to get the message here. Um, we have very clear core values, right? So it’s at like, You know, the, I could get into the sort of like nitty gritty processes and systems and checkpoints and quality controls that I have for myself and that we have internally as a team for, for proofreading and, and making sure that, you know, uh, we, we use the right phrases and.
[00:18:14] The right, uh, brand standards
[00:18:15] Michael Port: we do. Yeah. Because that, that is important. I mean, we have documented brand standards. We have very clear rules about even how we use bulleted lists in our communication. Uh, they always have periods and they always start with capitals. Yes. Like this is, we we’re always consistent in that way, the way we name.
[00:18:34] All of our programming is consistent. We have internal names that we use and then we have external names that we use. So all of this kind of work is done and it gives you the ability to make sure all of those, what seem like small elements are consistent to produce a level of consistency that earns us trust.
[00:18:53] You know, it’s interesting. Consistency. That is a really important part of. Establishing and maintaining your brand identity, unless you’re, of course, brand is about inconsistency, like that’s your thing, you know? Sure. Like, you never know what I’m gonna show up. Like Yeah. That’s the fun part. Yeah. Okay. So you could certainly do that.
[00:19:09] Uh, but for us, consistency is very important because, uh, trust is built on making commitments and fulfilling them if you make commitments and fulfill them regularly. People trust you if you don’t make commitments, and then there’s nothing to fulfill. People don’t wanna work with you because you won’t make any commitments and if you make commitments, but don’t fulfill them.
[00:19:27] Nobody wants to play with you again cuz that’s no fun. And so our job is to continuously make commitments to the people we serve. Then fulfill them. Uh, but past all of those sort of brand standards, how do you think about the actual writing? Like what is your process? Do you start by, well, okay, what’s the objective here?
[00:19:47] What am I trying to achieve? What’s the story that’s gonna help me get there? Or do you have some other process? Sure.
[00:19:53] Dylan Gallimore: I do a lot of writing. It’s something I think a lot about and I’ve, it’s been a key part of my career for as long as I can remember.
[00:19:59] Michael Port: I can tell you if you saw his, you know, all of his responsibilities in all of the different projects we’re working on.
[00:20:04] He does a lot of writing. I think you produce probably more words in a week than most people produce in a year.
[00:20:11] Dylan Gallimore: Well, I appreciate that. Um, here’s what I’ll say. Look, I think, Michael, you’ve written nine books and, uh, I, you know, we could probably go on about writing. Here’s what I’ll do. Cause I want to, I want to give the listeners something that’s really important and I think really, really clarifies something.
[00:20:25] There are basically four things that I think of when I’m writing something before I even pick up the pen, before I even start writing the first draft. They’re very simple questions. They’re gonna sound very simple. They’re extremely fundamental. They are very, very important. The first thing is, what is this?
[00:20:40] Or what does this need to be? Meaning, am I writing a email campaign? Am I writing a LinkedIn post? Am I writing a book? You have to answer that. And there are whole methodologies about how you go about answering that. How you tell what your audience, uh, needs, how you should communicate with them. I’m not gonna get into that here cause it’s a separate conversation, but you have to answer that question first.
[00:20:58] What is this? Or what does it need to be? And you ought to think very, very carefully about that before you start writing. The next is, uh, who’s it, who is it for? Again, it sounds like a simple question, but it can actually be very complicated depending on the line of work that you’re in, depending on the ideas that you’re trying to communicate, depending on who your audience is.
[00:21:15] Michael Port: Well, actually it’s, it might sound simple, but for example, you mentioned earlier that. In our writing, we speak to one person. When I’m on stage, there are times where I will say, look, this is something we all experience, but generally what I’m doing is I’m talking to individuals, I’m talking to you, you, you, you, uh, and.
[00:21:36] You know, if you look at just the introduction to book yourself solid, about 40% of the text in the introduction is the word you, because when somebody picks up a book or they go to a speech, or they read a post you put on social. Or they read your email, they don’t care about you. They care about themselves.
[00:21:56] That’s what they care about. Absolutely. They will fall in love with you if you can solve their problems. If you can help them, then they care about you in that way. But first and foremost, it’s them. So when you say, who’s it for? You would say, well, it’s for this person, not my monolithic email list. Not like all you guys, right?
[00:22:16] It’s you. And so that that will influence how you write that piece.
[00:22:21] Dylan Gallimore: Absolutely. Yeah. I was gonna say this till the end, but I, I’ll say this, the key thing, like I said, there’s four questions here that I, I say before I write anything. The key thing is that they’re answered in as much rich detail as possible.
[00:22:33] The key thing is not that they’re simply answered. Mm-hmm. This is not, this is not a checklist. Oh. It’s not
[00:22:37] Michael Port: like, who’s it for? Uh, a prospect. It’s not like that. Right. My email list. My email list. So is it. If I was like, okay, if I was writing something, I say, who’s it for? Oh, I’d say, okay, it’s for a professional.
[00:22:48] Or let’s say it’s for a consultant who wants to leave consulting and go into thought leadership and they wanna build a speech, uh, because they have a speech coming up in six months. They’ve got a lot of experience on stage, but they never really worked on like, is that. You know, that kind of detail. Yes.
[00:23:02] Yeah. The
[00:23:02] Dylan Gallimore: key thing, again, the key, it’s not a checklist. It’s not enough to sit down and say, uh, email for email list, et cetera, et cetera. That’s not gonna do you any good. When you go to write. You’re not gonna know what you should write, you’re not gonna know how you should approach it. What’s the tone? So the key is that these four things are really answered in as much rich detail as possible.
[00:23:18] So the first, what is it or what does it need to be? To who is it for? Three, what is the intended effect? And again, this is another thing where you really can’t get detailed enough. Make sale is often the end result of these things, but that’s, that’s the bottom of the, the marketing funnel, right? So to speak.
[00:23:35] It needs to be answered in much richer detail than that. What is the intended effect? How do you want your audience to feel? What do you want them to accomplish? How are they going to take what they’re hearing from you and react to it and have it change their life in a certain way, even in a small. Way, but maybe a profound way it has to be put to their interest.
[00:23:53] And again, much more richly detailed. And then the last question is just, what is the context? And that’s a tough one because you can answer that in, you know, that can be an endless answer, right? So you have to have some limiting principles there. But oftentimes, you know, there’s. There’s something happening in an industry or your business is evolving in a certain way, or you’re trying to find a new audience.
[00:24:11] So you always need to clarify the additional context, what is happening around this communication as I’ll be delivering it. If you answer those four questions in rich detail, you will know what to write. You’ll know what to
[00:24:21] Michael Port: write. Ooh, I love that. You know, regarding the context, question number four, it’s a very, very important question because.
[00:24:28] You know, asking what is the context in which someone is consuming this? You know, there was a, for many, many years there was an expression in marketing and especially online marketing, that content is king, right? You produce the best content and everybody will, you know, pay attention and yes. That, that absolutely, um, you know, makes sense to me.
[00:24:50] Uh, I would say the way that. I found the, the best path into this kind of work is not thinking about content being king, but context being king. Now, the way that Amy would introduce this is by saying content is king, but. Context is queen meaning more important of course. And it’s important because the context that you are sending it out in may be different than the context somebody is receiving it.
[00:25:20] Let’s say you’re like, oh my God, we gotta make an offer. We gotta increase revenue by x percent. So, uh, this is really important for us. And there’s a big time, you know, Uh, consideration, et cetera. So that’s all, that’s your context. And, and that’s not relevant to anybody else. They don’t care. But if your context is driving the choices you make in the writing, you may not be considering their context, what’s going on with them.
[00:25:46] You know, sending emails the week after, you know, state shutdowns at Covid, very different context than the week before. Shutdowns. And so one of the things I just have like to commend you, one of the things that you did brilliantly throughout the entire period of Covid, cuz frankly you came on during the Covid period, and so you had a lot of heavy lifting to do because we had to cancel events, reschedule events, change events.
[00:26:16] I mean there was so much going on moment to moment. And then when we got back into events, oh my God, the amount of communication around how to proceed and what’s gonna happen and what. It was a really, really trying time for everyone involved. Uh, you know, our customers, our students more than anybody else, and that was our focus.
[00:26:34] And you did a wonderful job of understanding what was going on for them. You could contextualize the experience that they are having and how. Our communication fits into that. So I’d love to talk a little bit more about how you do that, how you think, how you really get into the mind of the person receiving the communication so that you get out of your own way and your own context, like why we need to do this and into how they’re gonna respond.
[00:27:06] Dylan Gallimore: Sure. Yeah, definitely. So I look, I would say this, I outline those four questions, right? Which again, what is it? Who is it for? What’s the intended effect and what’s the context? Those are all questions about your audience. They have almost nothing to do with you. Right, because your audience’s needs are gonna shape, what is it?
[00:27:25] Or, or maybe their location, right? Uh, so if you wanna reach an audience on LinkedIn, you’re, you’re gonna post on LinkedIn, right? That’s a simplified version of this to illustrate the point. But who is it for? That is, you’re gonna answer that in rich detail. That’s literally describing your audience. That is explicitly about your audience.
[00:27:39] What is the intended effect? There’s something that you need to communicate to your audience. There’s something that you want them to feel. There’s something that you want them to do, you wanna move them to, to feel and think is in a different way than they do right now. So you’re trying to discern how do I do that given, given where they are right now, and again, what’s the context that’s not for you?
[00:27:57] Uh, you know, the context isn’t, um, well, why I didn’t get any sleep last night, so, you know, I’ll do this when I get around to it. No, it’s, it’s what’s happening in the industry. That I’m trying to communicate with, it’s what’s happening to who else is trying to communicate with my audience. What, what other messages are they hearing?
[00:28:12] What do they currently believe? What’s conventional wisdom that I wanna disrupt? Right? All these questions, uh, they go back to your audience. So, Michael, to answer your question, I mean, you just need to know as much about your audience. And their values. Right? To go back to a common point here, you need to know as much about your audience and their values.
[00:28:29] I would say their aspirations are really key. Uh, you need, you need to know as much about their values and their aspirations as possible. And, and again, when you do that, it becomes, it should become very clear, uh, how you should communicate because you’ll know what they’re looking for. And I say aspirations because we all have images of ourselves and we all do things because of the story that we’re telling ourselves about ourselves.
[00:28:53] So when you understand your audience’s aspirations, right, how they see themselves, how they want to see themselves in the future, you can understand how to better serve them, how to help them get there, what you can offer them, not just in terms of comms, right? It’s not magic words. It’s about value. It’s about providing something real.
[00:29:09] It’s about saying something that, Makes them actually think and act differently, uh, and or maybe gets them to take action, whether it’s to come to an event or to buy something, whatever it may be. Your goal is to know as much as you can about them so that you can serve them in their aspirations and bolstering their values.
[00:29:26] Again, you do that kind of work to understand your audience very, very deeply. It becomes very, very clear how you should communicate with them.
[00:29:33] Michael Port: Most of the people who are. Moving into speaking or have been speaking or moving into thought leadership, have done a lot of writing over their careers. Even if they’re a cpa, they’ve had to write a lot of memos and letters and things like that.
[00:29:49] They may have experience with business writing or academic writing, but they may not have done a lot of. Thought leadership, writing, educational driven writing. They may not have done a lot of storytelling or they just may not, I. Produce a lot of content. They’re just, you know, don’t, they’re don’t have the habit of producing a lot of content.
[00:30:12] And I, I resemble these comments. I mean, this is how I was when I started. I had been an actor, so I wrote a bit, but what I was writing was usually dialogue, but my job was to talk, not to write. Someone else wrote and I spoke. You know, for them. So I really had to practice writing. I, I really did. I wrote every day to practice to try to get better at it.
[00:30:36] And, you know, when I first started I really did sound like I was writing a five paragraph essay in high school, cuz I still was trained on that kind of writing, uh, from my days in school and my father’s academic and he tends to write pretty academically. And so I. You know, I, I sort of took that as a guidepost, but I realized that that kind of writing is not my kind of writing and it’s not my audience’s kind of writing.
[00:31:01] So then I just started writing the way I speak and seemed like that worked out pretty well for me, but I really had to practice and, and really built skill in it over many, many years. And so I’d love to talk just briefly about how you learned to write. And how you would encourage our listeners to improve their
[00:31:23] Dylan Gallimore: writing.
[00:31:24] Sure, yeah. Happy to talk about that. Um, my answer, I don’t know, Michael, you, you’ve, you’ve had certain lifelong passions, right? We, we all, we all have, I assume, uh, when I was in fifth grade, uh, and we had half an hour of reading time, I raised my hand and was like, can I write instead? No way. Yeah. Like that’s, that’s.
[00:31:41] The origin, like that’s the, that’s my little origin story. Yeah. Is like little, little fifth grade Dylan with a marble notebook being like, can I do this instead? Which looking back reading is actually a, a great way to become a better writer. You really, really should be reading quite a bit to become a better writer, to see how other people, uh, how they, how they tell their stories, how they communicate.
[00:32:00] So I don’t mean to discount reading, I’m just saying in, in fifth grade, I was more passionate about expressing myself than I was about reading. Yeah. You, you make
[00:32:07] Michael Port: a really important point, Dylan, because sometimes, uh, you know, when I, a speaker comes and says, listen, I wanna become a prof professional speaker.
[00:32:14] Uh, I’ll ask them. So, uh, how often do you watch speeches? I’ll say, well, you know, if I go to a conference, you know, a couple times a year I’ll see speakers. They need to be watching speakers every day. Mm. In person and online. Because if you’re not watching it, how do you learn what you think works and what you think doesn’t work?
[00:32:32] Uh, you know, the way, one of the things that I did is I just watched and watched and watched, and I looked at, well, what’s consistent? What’s everybody doing that’s the same? And y well, okay, so they’re doing X the same. That seems like it’s a reasonable thing to do. Okay, maybe I should do it. Everybody’s doing X the same.
[00:32:46] I can’t figure out y. There’s no special value to it. Okay. I’m never doing that. In fact, I’m gonna try to figure out how to do the opposite so it stands out. And I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t watched. Same thing with someone says, I wanna, I wanna write a book. You say, well, tell me about some of the books that you’ve read.
[00:33:02] Well, you don’t read that much. Well, you’re probably gonna need a ghost writer then. Right,
[00:33:07] Dylan Gallimore: right. And look, some of this goes back to what we were saying earlier when you were surprised that you were being complimented on being integral or authentic in some ways. The bar is maybe lower than you might think.
[00:33:19] Industries can develop like group mentality. There’s a sort of hurt like, and, and people, whole industries can just do things because they’ve always done things a certain way. And when you’re consuming, if you’re reading a lot and you’re noticing those kinds of things, or if you wanna be a speaker and you’re watching a lot of speeches and you’re noticing these things and you’re as, wow, everyone seems to be doing this, but I’m not really clear why, and I don’t actually think it works.
[00:33:39] Odds are you’re onto something. I’m not gonna say that you’re right. You may not be. But odds are there’s something there. There’s something worth investigating and sitting with. And uh, again, it can be surprising how low the bar is to do something different and make people go, whoa, I haven’t seen that before.
[00:33:52] I haven’t. No one’s communicated that in that kind of way before, or, no one’s sparked my attention like that. That’s really interesting. It’s an important thing for anybody who I think is trying to reach any audience to be aware of. So being in the mix, read, reading a lot. Again, if you wanna be a speaker watching speeches, that’s a great way to.
[00:34:06] Just feel very comfortable in the medium, and eventually you get to a point where you’re like, okay, I’m confident enough to think that everyone’s doing this. Uh, everyone’s zigging, I’m gonna zag. And again, I’m not gonna say that it’s, it’s guaranteed to be right, but it’s worth thinking about. It’s worth investigating and sitting with.
[00:34:21] Michael Port: Plus it’s really important to learn a lot about what your audience is already consuming. How do you speak to them unless you know how others are speaking to them Now, it doesn’t mean that you need to write in response to what you’re seeing. That’s not, that’s not what we do. We, we don’t respond to what other people are doing.
[00:34:46] But it’s something that, you know, I’ve gone back and forth on over the years. I vacillate, you know, there have been years where. Especially when I’m writing books where I actually stop consuming, uh, material from other people in this space. Yeah. But then there are times where I’ll. Consume a lot of material from others, uh, in the space to understand what people are doing.
[00:35:11] Uh, so, you know, everybody’s gonna find their own balance, you know, for what works for them. But in the learning process and the discovery process, consuming a lot of material is really important. And not just in your disclosive space, you know, if you’re a. Leadership speaker, and you only watch leadership speakers, you’re only going to get what that group of people is doing.
[00:35:34] So you then wanna also watch comedians and you wanna watch. Motivational speakers and you wanna watch marketing speakers and you wanna watch d e I speakers because they might do things that you can appropriate into your material, not steal their ip, but you may be inspired by things you see as all artists are, and you may create, you know, something new in your speech that’s new for your market.
[00:35:59] It’s a little bit like entrepreneurship. If you think about, say Google for a second, you know, Google. Google started as a search engine, but really, what was it? I mean, it was just a library online. It was a place where you could go and you could read stuff about, you know, the world. You could find stuff. So I.
[00:36:19] It’s a little bit like that, you know, kind of concept already existed. They just put it online so they didn’t make up the concept of a place where you could get all the information that already existed. Or Amazon is an even better example. When Jeff started Amazon, you know, Jeff and I go way back when Jeff started that, that’s not actually true, but when Jeff started Amazon, uh, you know, he, he just said, well, I wanna sell books.
[00:36:44] Books are already sold in bookstores. There’s this new technology. Well, if I can take the new technology and I can, uh, apply it to a bookstore, well maybe I can create something that doesn’t. Exist right now. Totally New world. So he just cross appropriated, you know, uh, an idea from one space and put it in another space, and he created a whole new world.
[00:37:06] And you can do the same thing as an artist. You go watch a play on Broadway and they do something that gives you an idea for something you can do in your speech. That’s gonna create really extraordinary experiences for your audiences and allow you to create unique experiences for the audiences.
[00:37:23] Because a lot of times, a lot of other thought leaders will be speaking on the same topic. They might even have similar approaches, but the way that you deliver is going to set you apart. Among other things, but one of the ways, uh, and you know, that’s one way you do it by keeping your eyes open and you watch everything that’s out there, especially the stuff that you don’t like that other people like, because if other people like it and you don’t like it, you gotta figure out why they like it and you don’t.
[00:37:53] Mm-hmm. Rather than just, you know, sort of poo-pooing it. Like, that was hard for me. You know, we have a, a value, uh, at hero public speaking that you can be a critic or you can be a performer, but you can’t be both. It can be one or the other with us, because the way the performer sees the world is very different than the way that the critic sees the world.
[00:38:11] And I developed that value because when I first started, there was a lot of stuff that I saw people responding to that frustrated me because I thought it was either insincere or I thought it was insufficient, or even sometimes misguided. But you know, for whatever reason, people were going nuts for them.
[00:38:32] So I had to understand why, what is it? And that, you know, help, that’ll help you become a better thought leader, cuz you’ll understand audiences
[00:38:42] Dylan Gallimore: better. Absolutely. Yeah. So, so we, you know, we started this particular part of the conversation by talking about how people can become better writing, even if they’ve been doing some writing or even a lot of writing in their career to date, but now they’re trying to make a pivot.
[00:38:53] So we’ve definitely talked about consume. If you wanna be a better writer, read or, and have other experiences too. I’m gonna talk about that in a second. The other one I would say is write. Just write. Write every day. Write for 10 minutes, write one page a day. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about. Just keep doing it.
[00:39:09] You know, if you have an idea that you’re excited about, if you have a company that you’re thinking about starting, obviously write about that. If you have a value that you’re reflecting with, or you have an experience on a certain day that makes you think a little bit differently, write about that. The point isn’t necessarily what you’re writing about.
[00:39:21] The point is that you write, and Michael, you talked about consistency earlier, doing that. Every day over time, you will evolve, especially if you’re feeding your imagination with what you’re consuming. If you’re reading things that are, you’re seeing what other people are doing, how they’re writing, how they’re commuting, how, how they’re reaching their audiences to this point, I’ll say those two ideas.
[00:39:41] Uh, there’s a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Mm-hmm. And she talks about both of those things in that book.
[00:39:46] Michael Port: Also, it’s addressed in steel, like an artist. Okay. Which is a fame, very, very famous book. I’ll, I’ll
[00:39:51] Dylan Gallimore: throw this out there too, just cause I think it’s something that can be helpful if you’re a busy person, which, uh, we, we both are.
[00:39:56] And I know that everyone who’s listening to this podcast is so, In that book, Cameron talks about something that she calls the artist date, which is once a week you take your inner artist on a date. Mm. If you’re not comfortable with the word artist, cuz a lot of people don’t wanna see themselves, I think everyone’s an artist, but people are not always comfortable with that word.
[00:40:13] It doesn’t have to be an artist date, it can just be a date with yourself. But it’s, the whole point is once a week you take some time out just once a week to have an experience with a piece of art on your own to reflect on it. And that is a great way to put on your schedule, in my opinion. Okay. Thursday night, even if it’s just going for a walk, listening to a podcast, right?
[00:40:36] Or maybe it’s going a movie, or maybe it’s listening to an audio, but it could be anything, but it’s you and a piece of work that somebody else has made. And that time is set aside for you to spend time with that work of art and to reflect on it. Mm. Uh, even if that reflection is, I didn’t like this that much.
[00:40:50] Okay, why didn’t you like it? Mm-hmm. Why didn’t it connect with you? Where were the shortcomings? Uh, where did it fail to communicate its ideas? What are you gonna do to learn from that? And again, you do that over time. You make sure that you’re taking that time in your life to just be alone with something that someone else produced that might be of interest to you and to consume it.
[00:41:06] To think about it, to reflect on it, put that on your schedule, and do that over time. That compounds very quickly. There’s an exponential factor there where you, you’re, you’re creating an ecosystem almost, yeah. Of new things coming in and you reflecting on them, and that’s shaping how you express yourself and how you reach your audience.
[00:41:22] Michael Port: Yeah, I would challenge anyone to try that for say, two months and try not to come up with new ideas for your audience. It’s impossible doing that exercise. Uh, and I’ve done it myself. You cannot help but start to think about really interesting ways to create, because you put yourself in a place where you are thinking creatively and you give yourself the space to dream.
[00:41:51] To think this is probably the biggest challenge that I’ve faced over the past even 10 years, with the proliferation of so much digital communication and so many digital channels and so much easy access to entertainment is making space for thinking. If you don’t make space for thinking, your thoughts will be small.
[00:42:17] If you make space for thinking they’ll be larger and probably more creative. And, uh, I love this exercise so simple to do, gives you that kind of space to do deep work. Uh, another book that I recommend is, uh, is the book called Deep Work by Cal Newport. And. You know, it’s a really wonderful expose on what it means to do deep work and how to do deep work, because if you wanna be a thought leader, I would encourage deep work.
[00:42:45] Otherwise you’re just like, uh, what, what’s the difference between thought leadership and what, what would be like the minor version of thought leadership? Like little idea leadership, I dunno, something like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh, the, the little league. Yeah, the little leagues of, that’s right.
[00:43:01] Exactly. Yeah. Actually, maybe it’s like peewee. Leadership or peewee thought leadership, something like that. Yeah, like Peewee league. So in any event, uh, these are some really wonderful, uh, ideas, uh, for people. I think, um, I learned a lot in this. You know, one of the things I love about working with you is that, I think I mentioned this actually, we, we were interviewing somebody for a role and they asked, can you brag a little bit about, you know, your team?
[00:43:25] They wanted to see how we talked about people on our team. And I thought it was a great question for us because they wanna be at a place where the owners and the leadership really know and respect the team, I would imagine. So one of the things I said to them about you, I said, you know, one of the things I, I feel so grateful for having Dylan, uh, on the team and the role that he’s in, is that I would say when we’re talking about communication choices, I’d say maybe 25% of the time I come in thinking one thing and you changed my mind.
[00:43:54] And the reason you’re able to do that is because you’re so deeply committed to, uh, to our audience, and you’re so deeply committed to understanding how they’ll respond. And you’re so deeply committed to our values. So if I don’t do deep work on it and I think quickly and go, okay, here’s, here’s how we’re gonna handle it, you’ll sometimes come in and say, yes.
[00:44:13] But Right. You’ll say, and instead of, but cuz that’s how we do it, right? Sure. So you’ll say yes and have we thought about this because you’ve already thought deeper about it more deeply. And as a result, you know, I see something that I hadn’t seen before and. You know, I, I, I just wanna mention something for, for listeners out there who are gonna get some help, you know, with their writing and their, you know, their branding because, you know, you may or may not feel like this is an area where you’re naturally strong, and so you may wanna bring in a support team or a leadership team to help you with this.
[00:44:47] And I would highly recommend it, you know, because we’re better communicators because Dylan runs communication. Not me. I have another job. And you know, when I write books, I get help from people who are stronger writers than I am to improve the writing and to help develop the structure of the book in a way that’s better than I would’ve done it on my own.
[00:45:08] I really do believe we can do more together than we can alone, but I want you to make sure that when you’re picking people, that you’re not just picking somebody who’s learned how to do clever copywriting. Clever copywriting is important, but clever copywriting without doing all of the deeper work is just gonna be clever copywriting, and that individual may not really help you be a better thought leader through your communication, but, Somebody who can think more expansively and deeply about values, understands the audience better.
[00:45:45] They ask and answer the questions, what is this? What’s it for? Who’s it for? Uh, what’s the intended effect? What’s the context? That person will help you be a better thought leader. So I do recommend working with people if that’s, you know, where you are, stage of business, or just where you are. Preference wise, because the right people can help you be a better thought leader.
[00:46:10] And that’s really important to recognize that you know, you’re building something that is based initially on your ideas, but if you wanna build something in a way that’s more substantial, you’re gonna need a team of people who share the same values and wanna produce the same. Result in the world who care about that mission and they will help you be a better thought leader You become, you realize, oh, I am I, my role is X, I’m the front facing.
[00:46:38] You know, performative role player for the brand. And you know, Dylan runs the voice of the brand like, like everybody develops their role as you build out the team around thought leadership, and as a result, you become a much better thought leader than I think you would be just on your own, all by yourself.
[00:46:58] So with that said, Dylan, thank you so much. I am so pleased that we got a chance to do this. As you know, uh, we’ve been bringing some more team members on the podcast because when I’m thinking about who our folks should hear from, I think couldn’t think of anybody better than our team members cuz we’ve got the best team in the world.
[00:47:16] Is there anything you wanna share before we wrap up?
[00:47:19] Dylan Gallimore: I just wanna say thanks for having me on and, and I’ll say this to a point that you just made, Michael, like, this is my full-time job, right? I get to do this every day. And that’s why I’m able to, to really think about it and take the time to do it right.
[00:47:29] It’s a great company to be at because I have that kind of opportunity and uh, I think that shows up for our students. So, yeah, I’ve loved this conversation and, uh, I love what we get
[00:47:38] Michael Port: to do together. Thank you, Dylan. Thank you so much. Special thanks to Dylan Gallimore for joining me for this episode. This is our final guest episode of the summer season, and I wanna thank you for listening and invite you to join me next week for a short bonus episode.
[00:47:54] I’ll reflect on the conversations we had this season, and I’ll share a few things I learned. But before we sign off, there’s something I wanna share with you. Nearly every single one of our students here at ro Public Speaking starts their training with us at H hps Core H P S Core is a free two-day training event to leverage the power of performance speakers and thought leaders travel from all over the world to H PS HQ in Lambertville, New Jersey to uplevel their speaking and their craft as performers now, typically admission to HBS core is by nomination only.
[00:48:30] Meaning we only train students who’ve been nominated by our alumni or our trusted partners, but we do set aside a very small percentage of open seats for speakers and thought leaders who we think would benefit from our training, even if they don’t have a nomination. Now, if that sounds like you, I wanna invite you to apply head to heroic public speaking.com.
[00:48:51] Forward slash core to learn more about hps core, see if you’re a good fit, and if you are, apply directly at the bottom of the website. Just let our team know. You heard about this on steal the show seats are very, very limited and these events always fill up, so we can’t guarantee everyone who applies a spot, but if you’re a speaker or thought leader and you think you’re ready to take the next big step, actually.
[00:49:19] Even if you don’t think you are ready, in fact, maybe, especially if you don’t think you are ready, but you want to take the next big step, then I hope you’ll firstname.lastname@example.org slash core because almost no one feels like they’re ready. But our job at Heroic Public Speaking is to get you ready.
[00:49:41] The Steeler Show podcast team is Laura
[00:49:44] Gallimore, queen of Bergen, and me Michael Port. The show is edited and mixed by audio autocracy. Our opening music includes original spoken word poetry from Queen of Bergen. For more episodes, hit subscribe or follow wherever you’re listening right now.
[00:50:00] And if you’d like to stay in touch, email us at questions heroic public speaking.com. Until next time. Keep thinking big about who you are and about what you offer the world. Bye for now.