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Scott Stratten and I discussed what NOT to do while marketing on social media; and the best ways to capture your audience’s attention.

Scott Stratten is the President of Un-Marketing. He is an expert in Viral, Social, and Authentic Marketing which he calls Un-Marketing. Formerly a music industry marketer, national sales training manager and a Professor at the Sheridan College School of Business, he ran his “UnAgency” for a nearly a decade before solely focusing on speaking at events for companies like PepsiCo, Adobe, and Red Cross when they need help guiding their way through the viral/social media and relationship marketing landscape.

Scott now has over 175,000 Twitter followers and was named one of the top 5 social media influencers in the world on Forbes. He has written four best-selling business books, the newest being “UnSelling: The New Customer Experience,” which was just named “Sales Book of the Year” by 1-800-CEOREAD.

In this episode we discussed:

  • What captures your audience’s attention. (09:54)
  • Biggest mistakes people make while marketing on social media. (11:21)
  • The correct way to use social media groups to your advantage. (17:19)
  • How to choose the right members for your social media group. (21:21)
  • Why you should always be yourself on and off the stage. (37:13)
  • Effective speech delivery. (42:45)
  • The benefit of getting feedback from others. (45:06)

Find out more about Scott Stratten and his upcoming projects.

0:00:01 Michael Port: There we go.

0:00:02 Scott Stratten: Oh, yeah.

0:00:05 Michael Port: And that’s how we’re starting the podcast today. This is Michael Port. Welcome to Steal the Show with Michael Port. See how that works? See what I did there Scott?

0:00:14 Scott Stratten: Amazing.

0:00:15 Michael Port: I know. So listen, I’ve got a good friend of mine. We have danced together. We have argued with each other. We have loved in lots of very mysterious ways. And I will read his bio because I love to brag about Scott. He’s got a long bio and a short bio and I’m gonna read both. And I’m gonna read his short bio first and then I’ll read his long bio. His short bio goes like this: “Scott yells a lot,” which I think is fantastic. Not necessarily that he yells a lot, but that he has such a great short bio.

0:00:56 Michael Port: His longer bio is as follows: He is the President of UnMarketing, and he’s an expert in viral, social, and authentic marketing. And I put a little extra emphasis on ‘authentic’ because that is what Scott is all about. And he calls this kind of marketing, ‘unmarketing.’ Formerly a music industry marketer, a national sales training manager, and a professor at the Sheridan College School of Business, he ran his unagency for nearly a decade before solely focusing on speaking at events for companies like PepsiCo, Adobe, Red Cross, Hard Rock Cafe, Cirque du Soleil, Sak’s Fifth Avenue, Deloitte, and Fidelity Investments when they need help guiding their way through the viral, social media, and relationship marketing landscape. He now has over 175,000 people follow his daily rantings on Twitter and he was named one of the top five social media influencers in the world on He’s written four best selling books, the newest being UnSelling: The New Customer Experience, which was just named sales book of the year by 1-800-CEOREAD. Congratulations.

0:02:20 Scott Stratten: Fancy.

0:02:21 Michael Port: Fancy. You know what my high school prophecy was?

0:02:26 Scott Stratten: What’s that?

0:02:27 Michael Port: Modeling for Tiger Beat Magazine.


0:02:31 Michael Port: The reason I mention this is because the first media publication that I was actually in was Sassy Magazine, which is basically the same thing as Tiger Beat Magazine.

0:02:45 Scott Stratten: Why is that not the lead in every bio you’ve ever had since then?

0:02:48 Michael Port: I know. The reason I remembered this ’cause I was working with one of our writers for Heroic Public Speaking, her bio is brilliant. So after a class she just taught us, “You gotta work on my bio. You gotta make it better.” And she put that in the bio and… [laughter] How many people’s high school prophecies actually come true?

0:03:08 Scott Stratten: I think mine was most likely to end up in a ditch. I had long hair and now it’s all back again. So, I’m…

0:03:21 Michael Port: You were clean cut for about a month or two there.

0:03:23 Scott Stratten: I was.

0:03:23 Michael Port: You were.

0:03:24 Scott Stratten: I was. We were talking about that, what, couple days ago online about events, taking old bios or old photos. So many events, this is what blows my mind, that they just do a Google image search for their speaker’s head shot, when we provide a wonderful webpage only for them to download high-res and low-res versions of perfectly approved photos. And they’ll yank somethin’ out from 2007 where I’m like shortest hair I’d ever had and an embarrassing pencil-line beard/moustache. And I show up full long hair, man bun, and a gristly Adam’s beard and they’re like, “Can I help you?”


0:04:05 Michael Port: I had one place two months ago, I swear, I swear they were about to call security on me. I walked in, they were like, “You’re not supposed to be in here.” I’m like, “I am if this is where the keynote’s supposed to speak.”

0:04:15 Michael Port: Oh my God. That’s great. It’s interesting because we find that happens a lot in our space that we’ll provide materials for the event organizers and they change them or choose something else, often without notifying us. I don’t know in your case, but in my case my contracts say they can’t do that. But they do any…

0:04:38 Scott Stratten: Or they riff. Or they just start making their own thing up ’cause they think they’re funny, which actually can hurt your credibility.

0:04:44 Michael Port: That’s exactly right. So, do you have a particular way of managing this going in, knowing that this can be an issue?

0:04:50 Scott Stratten: Well for me, it’s nice that you read the short version. I have four versions on the media page, right? There’s the short, the brief, the medium and the excessive, and I let them pick from that. I find, luckily for me at least, doing about 60, 70 talks a year, that the majority of them come up to me and actually say, “Here’s what we’re reading. Is that okay?” For me it’s just [0:05:14] ____ “Yeah, actually the less, the better somewhat.” I find it a bit long in the tooth, my own bio. ‘Cause I’ve heard it so many times.

0:05:23 Scott Stratten: But I also know there’s an importance there. One side of me, I think it’s ridiculous that I have my number of Twitter followers in my bio, but the other side of it, it gives context to an audience because a lot of what I talk about has to do under the umbrella of social media and that still gets an impact from an audience. So I have to balance that out. What makes me physically ill, what I hear, and what is important. But on the other side of it, a couple of them have tried, but they’ve tried to make a joke. And luckily for me, I’m pretty quick on my feet so I just throw a joke right back at them when I get on stage. Jeffrey Hazel once introduced me in Australia to an audience and he said, “Scott’s Canadian. So here’s Scott from America’s hat, Canada.” I got up and I walked up. I’m like, “Thank you, Jeffrey Hazel, who’s from America which is Canada’s underwear.”


0:06:11 Scott Stratten: And the crowd went bananas. It was better intro that I could have written.

0:06:16 Michael Port: And then, of course, if you had tried that again somewhere it would have failed.

0:06:19 Scott Stratten: Yeah, horribly. Yeah.

0:06:21 Michael Port: Yeah. That’s happened to me where something went wrong and it ended up being fantastic. And then, I tried to repeat it and it doesn’t work.

0:06:29 Scott Stratten: No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t, because the spur of the moment’s the best when it works so well. But planned spontaneity not so much.


0:06:37 Michael Port: Exactly right. You now focus just on speaking. That’s all you do.

0:06:42 Scott Stratten: Yeah. True.

0:06:45 Michael Port: And that must mean that you love it.

0:06:49 Scott Stratten: I do. I’ve always since I was 12 years old. This is all I wanted. I’m serious. I am 100% truthful on this. When I was 12 years old, I sat on my living room in the town that I live in right now, and I saw Les Brown on TV, on a PBS fundraising pledge drive from a Buffalo station. I live just West of Toronto. So, across the lake we’re gettin’ this WNED Buffalo feed, and they were showing Les Brown motivational talks. And if you pledged $52, you’d get the VHS tapes of Les’ talk and all of these. And I think for a $120, Les would show up at your house. There was all these levels they could do. And I watched ’em. And I just stared at the TV. And I just went “That, that’s what I want to do. I want to be on stage.” And I also realized, I didn’t realize that I’m one the few that makes their living just doing keynotes. It’s fairly rare. I don’t do workshops. I don’t training. I don’t do half days. I don’t do full days. I don’t do back end. I don’t do consulting. It’s just I talk. And I am living the dream I had.

0:07:51 Michael Port: That’s fantastic. It’s interesting because sometimes, you’re described as irreverent. But knowing you as well as I do, I actually don’t see you as irreverent. I see you as someone who has great reverence for the things that you do. I see you as someone who has great reverence for the stage, great reverence for your audiences, great reverence for your friends. That’s one of the reasons I think you take such strong positions and are willing to be fully self-expressed in your work. I’d love for you to share your journey over time in becoming more self-expressed and being more comfortable with what might come at you because you’re so self-expressed.

0:08:52 Scott Stratten: Well, the irreverent side of things is actually pretty interesting… There’s a truth to part of that, that I really think that us in marketing really do take ourselves too seriously. The self-importance in this industry that I’m part of is of epidemic proportion. And I just think that we’re like, “Come on, people.” Really, I’ve built the business on me saying, “Really? Come on.” That’s been my whole thing about, it’s just worked so well with it that my humor, my attitude, play off that really nicely. But I do that. The weight that we put on things in marketing when in reality so much else can influence that, that we are so self-centered and naive enough to think that the marketing campaign that we did is the entire cause of revenue for the company, like we are the ones that change the world. Nothing to do with the frontline employees or the people who created the product in the first place or any of those type of things, but it’s just us. I just find that ridiculous.

0:09:54 Scott Stratten: I actually don’t mind that side of the title. But I do when it really comes down to it. And you know this more than almost anybody else, is I give a damn about things I care about, and that becomes people being treated well, and businesses not trying to screw customers over, and people not being bullies, whether that’s a brand or individuals. That’s where that has come from, where I took a stand a long time ago with things that I thought were right. I noticed that when I did that, it polarized people. When you polarize, you don’t just push them one way, you push them both. You attract them and you repel them. That’s actually a marketing lesson, really, if you look behind the scenes. You wanna have an audience that loves you. You sometimes can’t avoid also an audience that hates you and I have a good membership numbers in that club of people who don’t like what I say. I can’t say I don’t care. I actually don’t think anybody is like that. I think that we all have a spot somewhere that says, “You know what, I don’t want people to hate me.” I don’t go looking for it, but I believe that what I say is true and I’m passionate about it. I actually am more of a human and consumer advocate than I am marketing person. When you really look at the body of work and everything I’ve talked about, is that I just stand up and say, “That’s not right.”

0:11:21 Scott Stratten: It’s a sad statement for me to say right now, but for seven years I’ve been yelling about “Don’t misuse social media.” Not because I care about Twitter or anything else. I care about people digitally that can connect with each other. If you’re a brand and you sit there and just automate and schedule and shove messages down our throats, we’re gonna leave eventually. And we’re gonna miss out on those opportunities to meet these people that we could be connected with incredibly, that I am a living proof that I found the greatest people in my life virtually. I don’t want that to be lost and I think we lose that. I think we broke Twitter. I think we broke a lot of the best tools out there.

0:11:58 Scott Stratten: I don’t care that people don’t like that I say it. When people say, “You don’t make the rules.” I’m like, “Oh, I do actually. Check my contract. I make the rules for Twitter and Facebook and everything else.” I don’t believe in a guideless society. I think there’s best practices as long as somebody said, “Well who made you the sheriff of Twitter?” Back in especially 2010, 2009, when I was really running the show and getting mad at everybody. I said, “I made myself the sheriff of my world there.” I say that we shouldn’t be doing these things because I think it’s not cohesive to a community and to a network. I’ve been moderating and helping run and facilitating communities for 20 years online. About mid-90s I’ve been doing this.

0:12:40 Michael Port: I remember when you were running a big community on Ryze.

0:12:43 Scott Stratten: Ryze, man. which was the original, the original [0:12:48] ____.

0:12:48 Michael Port: I would be amazed if anybody listening to this actually had ever had of it.

0:12:53 Scott Stratten: Right. Wasn’t that the start of it. That was the beginning for me.

0:12:55 Michael Port: That was. And I remember going there and seeing you there and the whole thing.

0:13:02 Scott Stratten: I can chalk up our relationship to virtual network.

0:13:04 Michael Port: Yeah, that’s right.

0:13:06 Scott Stratten: Why would I want to not be able to have that?

0:13:08 Michael Port: But the difference is this, the difference is this. So we got to know each other online and we would chat every once in a while. Then out of the blue, you call me up, I live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It’s about two hours south of Manhattan, an hour and a half if you drive quickly. You call me up, “So listen, I’m gonna be in New York City, I wanna come see you.” I say, “You know I’m not really like a stone’s throw away from the city. I’m kind of a little far from the city.” And he goes, “Well is there a bus?” I said, “Yeah, there’s a bus. If you wanna take it, I’ll pick you up at the bus stop.” You’re like, “Great, I’ll see you on Tuesday.” I was like, “He’s gonna take the bus out here? Seriously? He must want something. He’s gotta want something.” So you come out to my house, and I pick you up at the bus and we just hang out. We made a video actually which was really fun. That video still, people love watching. I don’t even know where the heck it is but I know it’s online somewhere. You didn’t want anything except to hang out. That’s it. That’s it. And I remember at the time, I had just started with Twitter. I had really resisted it. I was, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” So I had just started and then you were really big in it and you came over and like, “Scott, I don’t understand why… ”

0:14:20 Scott Stratten: We were talkin’ about it at lunch. We had lunch that day; we were talkin’ about Twitter.

0:14:24 Michael Port: Yeah. “Why aren’t I blowing up on Twitter? I’m impressive.”


0:14:29 Michael Port: I don’t understand, what’s the problem.”

0:14:30 Scott Stratten: This was in Sassy magazine.

0:14:31 Michael Port: Yeah, I was in Sassy magazine. When I walked around in college, my friends would go, “Sassy.” So you said, “Well, let’s look at your Twitter.” And you started looking at my post and you’re, “Well, you see, you post once in a while. And you see how that post is completely uninteresting and that was just some line from your book.” I was, “Oh yeah, that sucks. That really sucks.” And I never actually got much better at it. I did it, but then I don’t think I’ve been in there in six months. I can’t go in anymore. I can’t do it.

0:15:07 Scott Stratten: I just think that the virtual world can lead to the best relationships in person there is. Alison and I had a debate with a professor at a university here in Canada. He’s just saying, “Any virtual relationship is false. You can’t create strong ties.” And I’m, “What are you talking about?”

0:15:28 Michael Port: We have such a large group of friends that we’ve never met or maybe we’ve seen once for an hour or something.

0:15:37 Scott Stratten: And then when you see them though, it feels like you went to high school together. When I met you at the bus stop, that’s a great line! When we met at the bus stop, it’s, “Dude, I haven’t seen you in how long?” And we realized, never!

0:15:49 Michael Port: Never. Absolutely never.

0:15:52 Scott Stratten: By the way, I’m not sure what I knew about the rental car industry at that time…


0:15:56 Scott Stratten: But I don’t know why I just didn’t rent a car and come down. But like I’m some dude coming out of college and I got 12 bucks and a bus pass on me. But I don’t know why I didn’t rent a car for that.

0:16:03 Michael Port: Actually, Jonathan Fields, just came out yesterday to do some work on his speech and he lives in the city. And I said, “Take the bus out.” And he goes, “I could just take a car, right? And I didn’t think back to, “Oh, Scott Stratten could have thought that, too.”

0:16:17 Scott Stratten: I just could have totally went to AVIS and picked a car up. They have plenty of vehicles.

0:16:21 Michael Port: They have a lot of those. Obviously in Steal the Show, I focus on speaking performance in all aspects of life. But not just that. There’s so many different things that come up because people who are performers often do many different things. One of the things that you do so well is create community online. I don’t remember when the start date was, you could tell me, but just maybe last year you started this Speak and Spill group on Facebook which is for professional speakers, invite only. It’s the one place, outside of the communities that I run for my business, it’s the one place that I love to be and in there everyday, and I’m talking to our friends. And it’s really interesting.

0:17:19 Michael Port: You’ve done this again and again and again in different online platforms. Because when it says you’re an expert in viral and social marketing, this is a demonstration of it. Because what people don’t realize often is they still think of viral marketing as when, oh, a video would get sent around. But viral marketing is anytime somebody says, “You gotta be here.” And this is what people on the professional speaking world are saying, “Oh, you gotta be in this Speak and Spill group. It’s so much fun. It’s so great to be in there.” What do you think some of the important aspects are? What are the circumstances that you need to put into place or create in order to make these groups work?

0:18:04 Scott Stratten: It’s always been the same because humans are always the same. And from back in the RYZE days to now, I run groups in the same premise, it’s the same platform. There’s gotta be obviously a common like or interest, some kind of thread that puts you together. There’s gotta be a trust that forms, and usually that means it’s gotta be private, it’s not a public posting type of way. And that you have to have somebody moderating it. You have to have somebody that’s willing, that has not a problem playing in the reins. What I mean by that is it’s not spam that kills groups to me, although that kills anything. But when it’s private and invite only, you take away… At least the faceless spam is not there, some people just posting. What actually kills groups is a self-serving nature, which is people get on there, they’re, “Oh, I contribute to the group by posting a link to my blog post. That’s how I’m gonna contribute today.” And that’s actually what kills most LinkedIn groups for me. I think LinkedIn, out of anything on the internet today, could have been the number one place for business communities, and it’s a great place for a lot of ’em. We have the term we put in one of the books, it’s called ‘drive-by postings.’ And you simply go and post your link saying, “I think I’m going to honor the world with my blog post, and so you can go see it, and please come to my blog.”

0:19:20 Scott Stratten: I’ve had a few people go and post their blog post on something. And I delete it. In an order of priority to me, there’s no higher cause in the group than the group itself. So no book coming out, no blog, no level of celebrity that’s higher than the community cohesion of the group. When you just post something blindly to the group, saying, “Here’s a blog post I wrote,” I will delete it. It’s not a discussion. By all means, people think a community is run by the community. I do not run a community when it comes to that way. I do not run a democracy, I run the group.

0:19:57 Michael Port: That’s right.

0:19:58 Scott Stratten: Because I love the group. I’ve put in a lot of time. And if you divide the amount I make off the group, by the number of hours, the number is always zero.


0:20:09 Scott Stratten: Right? I wanna do it because I love what come out, I love great… We host dinners at events we go to, and we host dinners of 10, 20 people. We call it the Club Awesome Dinners. When we have events that we know people are coming to, we’ll try to get them together because the only thing that can happen when you bring great people together with great people is greatness. I said, “Okay. This is gonna be the group.” Then when you come by and you just dump your post on it and leave. You know what the amazing thing is? The direct correlation is the people who do that never contribute to other threads either. So you come in, I give you one shot. And I take it down. And I always will send a private message. I don’t have to, but I do, and I say, “Hey, I know this probably goes okay with other groups, but in my world it doesn’t. And this is why.” It’s never been somebody I know, by the way, ’cause they know better. [chuckle]


0:21:00 Scott Stratten: It’s usually somebody, a referral from somebody else. It’s the only way to get into Speak and Spill, it’s either I bring you in, or somebody invites you, but then, I have to approve it. I’ve had two I’ve taken down. Two people have left the group. One person told me to go, well, in no such better words, to stick it, and I don’t know what I’m doing. Which is fine, because I do know what I’m doing. And I don’t need that in the group.

0:21:21 Michael Port: When you started the group, how deliberate were you when you were choosing the initial members of the group?

0:21:31 Scott Stratten: Very. Very deliberate, where I went through and said, “Who’s… ” Because you have to go back to the origin of the group of why even formed in the first place. There obviously, anything in business, you need to fulfill a need or solve a problem. Mine was that I didn’t have a place that I could go and talk to other people who knew what it was like to get on the plane and go talk for some sort of money and what comes along with that. I also knew it was ridiculous if I just talk to my… I have my crew of friends from high school that I still hang out with here in town that don’t care how many Twitter followers I have. And they have jobs. And bless them. And they get paychecks every two weeks. And they go to the office, and they get in at 8:00, and they leave at 4:30, and that’s their job. It’s awesome. I don’t have a paycheck that comes in every other Thursday. I don’t have a payday. I get paid based on whether or not I hit the stage.

0:22:21 Scott Stratten: And I wanted to be able to talk with peers, people who also understood that and got that. And luckily for me, I’ve been doing it for long enough that you get to know people in that industry that become friends. I think, I initially started out with 60. I went through my list, and I wanted to make sure people who were there on the stage, who have been on… Not the people who thought the idea of going on the stage one day would be great, but people who were. Now, not all of them are making the same level of income, but they know what it’s like to stand in front of a few hundred people, some few thousand people, and talk.

0:22:52 Scott Stratten: And when I have a conversation, “What do you do about airline fees and fares?” And somebody comes on and says, “I do a bio to this much with a client,” that’s very useful to me, and useless to the majority of the human population who get on a plane once every two years to go on vacation, where I know the flight attendants. So that is a different issue. I can go there and I can complain about… I was on the group a few days ago, that I can complain about a client wanting the slides in 4 x 3 orientation instead of 16 x 9, and what is it? What’s going on with this world? That that group understands that. But if I said that to the general public, with earthquakes happening in the world and stuff, they’d be like, “You are horrible.”


0:23:37 Scott Stratten: Right. You need that common area that kinda creates that community. I made it very purposeful, and not only of the level of people, but also their job, meaning, I didn’t actually on purpose invite people from speaker bureaus or who ran events or meeting planners. I just wanted speakers. So you could vent as well. I think there’s a venting aspect to it. That we can say, “I can’t believe this organizer just did this and not be afraid that a bureau’s gonna see that, and go “Oh we shouldn’t book her for the next thing. She’s too needy.”

0:24:04 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:24:05 Scott Stratten: Now mind you, you take everything with a grain of salt. Anything could be able to take a screenshot, anybody can share something, and that’s part of the world. You never put anything on any post you don’t wanna see eventually on a billboard somewhere. But I think it’s we’ve created a really nice cohesion in the group that I’m really proud of. And really, honestly, I love it.

0:24:23 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:24:23 Scott Stratten: I love the group. I love the people. The point is that going to events you see somebody. I’ve hung out with probably now 15 to 20 people from that group I’d never met in person before, that we made a mission to make sure we hung out because we’re gonna be in the same city or the same event, that I really got to know them because I got to know them first on Facebook. I don’t like hanging out with people in general, to be honest with you.

0:24:43 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:24:44 Scott Stratten: Yeah. I go speak, and I’m a lot like you on stage where you give everything you’ve got on stage. When you get off stage, you’ve just done a performance. And I am wiped.

0:24:54 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:24:54 Scott Stratten: And I turn into a hermit and I go into my room. That’s not exactly the most engaging thing, with air quotes for the guy who speaks about engaging, but that’s for survival, for me. I want to go out and see these people. I wanna hang out. I wanna have coffee with them because that’s cool. And we’ve already filtered each other out so we know that we both think [chuckle] we’re both cool, we can hang out with each other.

0:25:14 Michael Port: Sure. Well, the reason that I bring this up is because when you say your business is just speaking, that’s what you do, you go out and speak, there’s so many other things that you do that, that it initially gave you, but now keep you and keep you elevated on a particular platform professionally that opens a lot of doors for you.

0:25:42 Scott Stratten: Right.

0:25:42 Michael Port: And I don’t think you create these groups, goin’ “Hmm, this is gonna be great. I’m gonna get so many more bookings because of this.” No.

0:25:50 Scott Stratten: Right…

0:25:50 Michael Port: But you are standing and serving as a leader in our community.

0:25:57 Scott Stratten: Right.

0:25:57 Michael Port: And that, of course, makes people think of you.

0:26:01 Scott Stratten: Yeah. I think especially if it’s a group of speakers…

0:26:04 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:26:04 Scott Stratten: That, in theory, it’s… If you really wanna look in an old filtered business perspective, that’s my competition. If you look at it and saying “That’s other people… ” One of the guys in the group just posted his upcoming dates, and two of the dates, I was in the running for…

0:26:18 Michael Port: Yep. Well, this happens all the time in the group…

0:26:20 Scott Stratten: Right, it does. It does.

0:26:20 Michael Port: People say “Oh I got beat out by so-and-so… ”


0:26:23 Michael Port: And it’s fun. But it’s so interesting because both of us have been involved in a number of different businesses over the years. One of the things I love about our business, and not just the speaking business but the entrepreneurial business, the coaching business, and not just entrepreneurial in general, but sort of entrepreneurial service professionals and online business development professionals, etcetera, we’re very collaborative as a whole, not everyone, and we don’t compete with each other. We just don’t do it. I couldn’t imagine attempting to compete with one of my colleagues who’s a speaker. It just wouldn’t have crossed my mind. And speakers get speakers’ work.

0:27:08 Scott Stratten: Yes.

0:27:08 Michael Port: People don’t often realize that when they wanna get into the business, they think it’s all about getting to, say, meeting planners, association directors, etcetera. But when you go give a speech, they love it, and then afterwards, they say “Listen, we’re looking for a speaker for next year’s event. Do you know anybody?” They trust you because they know you just delivered. So, of course, you’re only gonna recommend somebody who’s gonna be able to deliver as well. And that’s how most speakers are getting their work.

0:27:41 Scott Stratten: Exactly, it’s referral-based. And I think that the more relationships you form… And at first when they say, “Well, we need somebody for next year,” I’m “I can do a different thing. What do you… ” [chuckle]


0:27:51 Scott Stratten: “I could totally change… I’ll make other stuff up… ”

0:27:53 Michael Port: They’re like “Yeah, no. Thanks so much.”

0:27:54 Scott Stratten: But the danger is where… Those referrals don’t happen out of because other speakers have asked for them, it happens because we get a relationship with them. I’ve heard people say, “Hey, can you refer me to other gigs?” I’m like “That’s not how referrals work.” I have to trust the thing, I have to think because what happens for me is, it’s fairly known that I’m a big spaz on stage. I flail and I yell because… It’s not an act, it’s me being passionate about my topics and I love it. I’m the happiest person in the world doing this. But it’s over-the-top. People say “Ah! Okay. We need somebody else for next year. How do we bring that back?” I’m like, “Easy now. There’s… What do you want? If you want this full, three-ring circus craziness, I can’t bring me back. I can bring somebody different who’s wonderful. But it’s not me, whether that’s good or bad, they could be better. But it’s not gonna be the same.”

0:28:50 Michael Port: We have to be careful with referrals, is when you refer somebody, you’re referring yourself as well. That you gotta make sure that if that person doesn’t nail it, [chuckle] it’s gonna reflect on you. You know what? I think we’re both cut from the same cloth with this, is nothing I love more than referring friends to things. I just…

0:29:09 Michael Port: It is the greatest feeling.

0:29:11 Scott Stratten: I love it.

0:29:12 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:29:12 Scott Stratten: I absolutely love it.

0:29:14 Michael Port: Any time you meet a person who, let’s say it’s restaurants is their thing, they’re like “Listen, you have to go to this new restaurant.” And they’ll say it 800 times…


0:29:23 Michael Port: Till eventually you go. And they care about it for you, but they also just love doing it for themselves.

0:29:32 Scott Stratten: Yes.

0:29:32 Michael Port: There’s this… It’s very self-motivated, but I think generally for most people who do it, it’s a very positive thing for the other people.

0:29:43 Scott Stratten: I love it. We… Alison and I do, and people listening who don’t know Alison, she’s the co-author of the books and co-host of the UnPodcast, and my wife, which is the greatest thing in history. But we created The Vegas 30 Podcast. It was called Vegas for people over 30; too young to stand in line, but too old to retire. Sorry, too old to stand in line but too young to retire to Bingo. The entire show, we did 14 episodes of it, with no sponsor, no end game, no want of businesses because we loved the place so much. There’s nothing more I love to do than when somebody messages me and says, “Hey, we’re going to Vegas for the first time. What do you suggest?” I get giddy writing referrals to it and what they should do and where they should go because I just love the subject. That’s something.

0:30:30 Michael Port: One of the things you mentioned a few minutes ago is that when you get off stage you wanna go by yourself and rejuvenate, relax, and just chill out.

0:30:42 Scott Stratten: Yeah.

0:30:42 Michael Port: Most people who meet you or see you speak, certainly, would think, “Wow! That guy’s an extrovert. He’s gotta be on all the time.” And I hear this a lot about performers. People make this assumption that performers are very gregarious and extroverted and that’s why they’re performers. But it’s interesting that we find many, many performers are in fact introverted. Because I think folks often conflate introverted with shy and extroverted with expressive.

0:31:23 Scott Stratten: Right.

0:31:24 Michael Port: But they’re not necessarily the same things. You and I are very similar that way. I’m more of a home body. I love being either by myself or just with my family. I need to get a little extra push to go out and be social. When I’m there and it’s with great people, I have a great time and I really like it, but it exhausts me. Same thing with speaking. I want you to speak to people who don’t think of themselves as performers. You know, someone says, “Well, I’m kind of introverted. I don’t think that anybody would really wanna listen to me.” Maybe they’ve got something really important to say and they’re very, very passionate about it, but they haven’t been willing yet to stand up in front of others and express themselves. What do you have to say to them?

0:32:17 Scott Stratten: I think everybody has something to say. I’m gonna be honest with you, I think everybody has something to say. And because we all have our own unique viewpoints and experiences that make up that story. We all have that story. Like what you’re saying, we equate being crazy, energetic on stage, like myself I get so caught up in the moment that people think that’s what you have to be. You don’t need to be that. You don’t need to be Les Brown or Tony Robbins or Gary Vaynerchuk or Michael Port. The message isn’t always in the over-the-topness. That passion doesn’t mean yelling. Passion is not based on volume. Passion’s based on heart and the conviction to what you’re saying. I never got a permission slip or an approval to go and start talking on stage. I never got the invite, the gold seal says you are now somebody who has something worthy of saying. I just did it. I probably said it before I was recalling about the [0:33:18] ____ stuff [chuckle]


0:33:19 Scott Stratten: It’ll never come in the mail. That invitation will never come in the mail saying, “You are now worthy of saying,” because you already are. I really believe that. Sally Hogshead’s fantastic. I don’t know if you’ve had her on the show yet, but you need to have her on.

0:33:32 Michael Port: Not yet, but it’s coming soon, yeah.

0:33:35 Scott Stratten: She’s brilliant with her fascinate… She talks about, and I’m gonna butcher her whole body of work here, but when you have her ask her about this. That 80 somethin’ percent of people think they’re more attractive than the average person. Which if you think about the math, right, that doesn’t work. Over 80% of people think they’re a better driver than the average person but only 16% of people think they’re more fascinating than the average person. Really, have her on, she’ll do it justice, but that tells you a lot. We don’t think we’re worth talking in front of our people which is… That’s why it’s so fascinating. We’re making the… And I excuse the dogs in the background but it’s like the zoo in our house. The ability to not wanna get up and talk because of something. That that fear is fascinating to me that I can’t… I don’t understand it because I’ve always had. That’s how got through school was standing up and talkin’ about stuff I didn’t know about or I had no business talking about.

0:34:28 Michael Port: Yeah.

0:34:28 Scott Stratten: And for me it was that the audience is there for what I’m saying not me. Remembering that takes some pressure off. And knowing that I’ve done my homework, and homework can be research, homework can be rehearsal, homework, whatever that is that I valued that audience enough to do what I’m supposed to do. And nobody randomly gets asked to talk in front of people. There’s a reason you’re asked to. Because somebody else thinks you’re worth it. I just think there are so many people who, [chuckle] including myself sometimes, that probably don’t have the qualifications to go do it, and I got no problem doing it, so what’s your problem?

0:35:04 Michael Port: [chuckle] Well first of all, Sally is coming out to the boat this summer in the same weekend that I’m trying to get you and Alison to come to.

0:35:14 Scott Stratten: A heck of a crew.

0:35:15 Michael Port: So get your [BEEP] there, dude…

0:35:16 Scott Stratten: [laughter] We’re working…

0:35:18 Michael Port: Loser.

0:35:18 Scott Stratten: We’re coordinating the five children and where they’re going, so give us time.

0:35:20 Michael Port: But just… I’ve been telling you this, god, for how long? You don’t listen. Put them on eBay.

0:35:25 Scott Stratten: [laughter] Is there a buy it now price?

0:35:28 Michael Port: There’s a discount price. You could just…

0:35:32 Scott Stratten: [laughter] A bulk… Get all five.

0:35:35 Michael Port: Half off by tomorrow at 6 o’clock. Look, I could add my three and then we’re selling eight and that’s a package deal. I mean think about it.

0:35:45 Scott Stratten: A football team, yeah.

0:35:47 Michael Port: Oh yeah that’s right. Almost, not yet but… Alright so listen, so here’s the flip side of it. So I think they’re… I really, I’m with you, man. One of the things that we do is we try to encourage people to find their own style and each person is so unique. My hope, my goal is that nobody could ever look at a speaker that I worked with and say, “Oh, that’s Michael Port’s speaker.” Never. Because I think that the technique should be invisible and there is no one style, there is no one way of being, there is no one way of doing it.

0:36:29 Scott Stratten: But it’s paralyzing if you watch somebody else and try to be like them. It’s paralysing to try it. You can’t do that. And that’s one of the things, I apologize for bringing this unprovoked, but that’s one of the things I loved watching you during Heroic Public Speaking, is you took somebody’s natural talent and brought it out, with their natural talent, and that is an unsolicited, unaffiliated plug for your event. But that blew my mind. It wasn’t, “Hey, you need to be over the top, or you need to change this,” it’s like, “Just take this and go up with it.” And that for me is totally within that theory of what Alison and I always talk about, which is going with your grain. Don’t try to go against the grain, because that doesn’t feel right for a reason.

0:37:12 Michael Port: Yeah, that’s right.

0:37:13 Scott Stratten: If you’re not over the top, then don’t be over the top. If you’re not somebody who’s gonna read academically from the podium, then don’t do that better. Whatever it is, okay. If you just wanna write, then write well. You never have to be this or this or this. We have a story and we have a way of saying it. And sometimes it’s buried deep, and that’s okay, and have that come out naturally, but to try to see something and go, “Oh, well,” because we also directly correlate it. This is the best thing and this is the biggest pitfall I find people doing. They’ll see something and say, “Well, that’s why it works.” They’ll see Vaynerchuk on stage and say, “Well, he swears so that’s why he can get all these gigs because he’s dropping the f-bomb.” They look at me and say, “Oh, well, man bun. Obviously that’s why you can get a keynote.” Or, “He’s flailing around,” or “He’s screaming.” No, you’re just seeing the surface. Also, that’s me. And I know Gary, that’s Gary. I see you on-stage, that’s how you are.

0:38:11 Scott Stratten: The best compliment, and what I set out to do, when I started speaking in a whole other world 20 years ago on stage. When I started speaking, I said, “The only thing that’s important to me, other than having the audience getting value from it and the person booking me was happy with it, was that if you met me on the street or you saw me on stage, or we talked on email or the phone, you’d get the exact same vibe, that I was the same person.”

0:38:36 Michael Port: That’s right.

0:38:37 Scott Stratten: Because I got the opposite of that when I worked on the other side of the table when I helped with speakers and I was a speaker chaperone for events in Toronto, I saw two different worlds of people, the on-stage persona and the off-stage. And that made me feel gross. So I wanted to make sure that I was the same throughout. And then you can never be wrong, you can never screw that up, because you’re you.

0:38:55 Michael Port: Yeah. Sally demonstrates that people often think they’re much less fascinating than others. Additionally, one of the things that is found is that people who have high IQs often overestimate their skill. For example, I was listening to, oh, gosh, I forget his name, but he’s the CEO of Wealthfront, and he used to be a top executive at LinkedIn and I think eBay, and he was always very interested in finance, personal finance and retirement planning, etcetera, and so he used to give talks at LinkedIn. It wasn’t his specialty, but he’d give talks to the engineers ’cause he found they’re always really bright people, but they had no idea what to do when it came to investing their money for retirement. One of the things he found was that they overestimated their ability to understand what to do with their money because they saw themselves as very smart. They’re very capable in one area so they figure, “Well, I must just be good in some other area, too.”

0:40:15 Michael Port: And we often see that in the world of speaking. Because somebody’s an expert in a particular topic and they know that very well, and they actually know how to speak, like you and I are speaking right now, which most people do, they figure, “Oh, well, I can go on stage and speak and I’ll have a great impact.” So they may over-estimate their skill or current level of ability. This is very different than what you were saying before, which is everybody has a voice and has a place up there if they’re willing to share it. Then we need to do the work to develop the skill so that we can have the kind of effect that we wanna have, so that we can deliver on our promises being up there.

0:41:04 Scott Stratten: Yeah, well, there’s a thing. I think there’s two worlds outside of people who are getting into or not. There’s people who, like they’re talking about, who don’t think they have it. It’s not worthy enough for them to say it, and they have a story or something but they don’t think they can. And then there’s the flip side, the polar opposite, the people who think everybody wants to hear what they have to say, and they’re gonna go say it. And they usually are in a higher-up position or executive position. So everybody who could tell them that they shouldn’t or they need to work on it, won’t. The worst things I’ve seen is humor gone wrong in talks, when an executive gets up there and cracks a joke and he’s like, “Well, everybody at the office laughed about it.” I’m like, “You paid them.”


0:41:43 Scott Stratten: “Like they’re laugh prostitutes, they’re laughing ’cause you pay them, and that audience isn’t.” And when we were doing selecting for speakers, 20 years ago, and I was fortunate to work on the other side of the table first in this world, so I could see…

0:41:54 Michael Port: That does help, yeah.

0:41:55 Scott Stratten: What people wanted. And we had an event, once a year, H-R-P-A-O, was a human resources association and it was a couple thousand attendees and we picked key notes. We brought in Dr. Richard Carlson, we brought in all these people that would come in. We would always find this, which was speakers either had the intelligence or the delivery, but both, was very hard to find. And if you could do both, you will work forever. You will speak forever because we found, especially like the academics, the people who had the great body of research, great body of work, was fascinating and you’d put the room to sleep. Or you’d come in and you’d be flailing and guns ablaze everybody would walk out and go “I don’t know what happened but I feel good for 30 seconds and then it’s not… ”

0:42:37 Michael Port: I’m going to go on the assumption that you believe this is fixable, this is changeable?

0:42:43 Scott Stratten: Huge, huge a hundred percent changeable.

0:42:45 Michael Port: What do you think people should do to work on developing the chops, that’s…

0:42:53 Scott Stratten: First of all, part of that group is, I think they already have God’s gift to speak to everybody and anything they say’ll be great. It’s hard for you to judge yourself. We’re either incredibly hard on ourselves and we don’t even wanna watch ourselves. I know people that’d rather drive a nail up their nostril than watch themselves…

[overlapping conversation]

0:43:12 Michael Port: Yeah. I’m so hard on myself.

0:43:14 Scott Stratten: I’m the opposite by the way. My favorite TV show is Scott. I love watching me speak. When we did the show and Alison and I on podcast every week, I watch the episode and she doesn’t. That’s just how we are, that’s just how we work. But…

0:43:30 Michael Port: Although, I will tell you I do watch my TV shows from when I was in my 20s you know why?


0:43:35 Michael Port: Because I look at the hair and I walk down memory lane.

0:43:39 Scott Stratten: It was gorgeous, man, I gotta tell ya. It was beautiful.

0:43:41 Michael Port: It was almost like yours, close, not quite, not quite.

0:43:45 Scott Stratten: First you gotta be willing to improve, I just think that’s a roadblock for a lot of people. You have to have somebody that you trust that has some kind of ability to say “I think you can do this or work on this.” I don’t think unsolicited feedback is the most useful thing in the world, although I give it daily in what I do; [chuckle] it’s my brand. I don’t think it’s coming from a great place all the time ’cause you don’t know the context of it. Having somebody, I don’t care if it’s a colleague or a co-worker or a coach or a consultant or whatever that’s gonna be, but somebody that can say, ” Hey I can see where you are, but we can get to here.” You’ve gotta have a third party to be able to look at that.

0:44:24 Scott Stratten: Because I look at my stuff and I’m, “Brilliant.” I know there’s stuff I can work on, but I’m still laughing at my joke. Even recording your stuff you can see it because you’ll also see stuff outside of your body when you’re watching it that you wouldn’t notice. I did something, especially when I started out, I took my hand and cupped it around my… I’m doing it right now… I cupped it around my nose and almost like I wipe my nose. There’s nothing there to wipe, there wasn’t anything hanging out of my nose, I just did it out of habit and then when I’d do it, I would block the microphone that I’m talking into and it would change the sound. I didn’t even know until I watched myself once. By that time I had done 20 talks. I’m like “Lord, I’ve been doing it every single time?”

0:45:05 Michael Port: Sure.

0:45:06 Scott Stratten: So I think part of that is watching it yourself, and part of that would be having somebody else look at, and wanting to improve it for the sake of your audience.

0:45:14 Michael Port: One of the things that students discover over time as they learn the language of skill, ’cause there’s a language that’s associated with skill, they get better at translating feedback. Because when it comes to performing, often people they know what they like and they know what they don’t like. They don’t always know why. So they may see your performance and they may give you some feedback on it, unsolicited or not, they may give you some feedback on it. The feedback may be hard to understand, or it may be easy to understand, but it’s not actually right. For example they may say something like “Well, you know, I’ve really felt that you talk too fast. You really should slow down.”

0:46:15 Michael Port: But talking too fast may not be the problem. The problem may be that your information is not well organized so they couldn’t process it. But if it was better organized, you can use rhythm, and pace, and speed, as long as there’s lots of opening and pauses in there for the audience to consume what you’re sharing with them. You can use that kind of pace that’s exciting. In fact, often audiences like somebody who speaks more quickly than somebody who speaks very slowly; you know it drives you nuts. But the point is, is that as you get more comfortable with the skill set associated with performing, you get better at deciphering what people actually mean when they give you feedback and…

0:47:04 Scott Stratten: And that’s the danger of getting things like audience feedback where you get the ‘smile sheets,’ we call them, and the feedback forms, and number rating, and the comments. I once had somebody in Rhode island at an event and I got… It was one of those like 99% was all five out of five and loved it, and amazing. And one, one feedback form said all zeros, by the way, he wrote in the number zero just to give me a zero.


0:47:32 Michael Port: You mean it was like one to ten and he put a zero.

0:47:34 Scott Stratten: Yes, yes, zero. And then in the comments he said “If I wanted to laugh, I would have gone to a comedy club.” That was the feedback and I’m, “What?” I can just see him begrudgingly laughing like just “Ha ha ha. Jack ass.” He didn’t wanna laugh and I just think we had to… It was almost like you’d take things with the a grain of salt sometimes and realize if it’s repeated, a lot of people bring that up, then it’s something you might wanna look at. But sometimes you’re not gonna hit with every person in the room, and you gotta be careful with that. A lot of people aren’t ready for that feedback, or we don’t want that feedback. My favorite book title, other than “Book Yourself Solid,” it was a quote book, it was business quotes from Richard Moran from 25 years ago. And the title is “Beware of Those Who Ask for Feedback,” and the subtitle is, “They’re Usually Looking for Praise.” And I’ve had that lesson stay in my head the entire time, which is when somebody says… When people ask me how they do, they wanna hear good things. Even when you got paid as a consultant, people didn’t want to hear the bad things.

0:48:47 Michael Port: Well, our friend Jay Baer has a new book out called, “Hug your Haters,” which is fantastic. He was a guest on the show and one of the things he said was, “You don’t learn a lot from praise.”

0:48:58 Scott Stratten: No. You don’t. Feels good.

0:49:01 Michael Port: Feels great. I love it.

0:49:03 Scott Stratten: Doesn’t do a thing.

0:49:03 Michael Port: It doesn’t teach you a lot. Hopefully, if you are insecure about your skills, hopefully, it makes you feel more secure so that you’re willing to go out and try more of it. That can be a benefit. But we often learn a lot from the negative feedback. And interestingly enough, Scott Miller is one of our faculty members at HPS, and he is the head of the Voice Department at NYU, the grad program where I went. And he just right before we recorded this, he taught a webinar to our graduate students. At the very end he said something which really hit me right between the eyes, and I’ll try to do it justice. It’s the first time I’m rearticulating what he had said. His point was that don’t try to perform well when you’re rehearsing in front of your teachers. I thought, “Well, that’s weird. Aren’t you trying to do really… Try to do a great job in rehearsal?” And he followed it up with, “Because what you need them to see is the mess.”

0:50:27 Scott Stratten: Yeah. It’s a fact.

0:50:28 Michael Port: So we don’t wanna act like we’re all together, everything is perfect, even though it’s not, when we are around our teachers. And our teachers can be our colleagues. I’m gonna learn something from you. You’re gonna see something that I do and go, “Hey Michael, I was noticing this.” Or Ron is gonna see something that one of us did in our comedy, and he’s gonna go, “Hey, I think I’ve got a way for you to make that better.” But if everything’s perfect, if we act like everything’s perfect, and we try to perform like everything’s perfect all the time, we often don’t get that opportunity for our teachers to see what needs improvement. That really hit me hard.

0:51:14 Scott Stratten: Well, I don’t think that we can improve other than being able to see those things. We try so hard to be perfect that it’s almost [chuckle] imperfect, that it comes down to the point of… And on the other side of it, other side of improvement, I’m flipping on you here, but I always found an error that speakers make a lot of the times in front of their audience, not in front of, let’s say, a coach, or a team, or anything else, is that they’ll apologize for a mistake and a mistake that the audience doesn’t even know. I remember you have addressed this many times yourself, too, which is that you don’t point out the mistake especially when the audience didn’t know you made one. But I see it all the time.

0:51:54 Michael Port: Sure. Or for example, if you thought you had 60 minutes and you get there and they only give you 30, go, “Listen, I thought I had 60, and I’ll try to do what I can in 30.”

0:52:03 Scott Stratten: And I’ve got some stuff… And people are like, “Oh great. We’re getting shafted.” And you make the organizers look terrible.

0:52:10 Michael Port: Terrible. But they really do. They feel like… If you tell somebody that they were gonna get something and they don’t, they feel like they lost so much even if they have no idea what they were gonna get. Maybe it was crap, but they still feel…

0:52:23 Scott Stratten: I’ve heard twice in the past month that a speaker has said that, “Well, I had a video to play but it’s not working.”

0:52:29 Michael Port: Wow.

0:52:30 Scott Stratten: And people walk out and go, “That was good, but damn, what would be on that video?”

0:52:33 Michael Port: Yeah. “Would have been so much better if we had the video.”

0:52:35 Scott Stratten: And I had this… So I had this… From like mid-January… I got a nice break, I had six weeks over Christmas and New Year’s and stuff, of being at home, wonderful and beautiful. And everything I do is to be able to have what we have here and be with the people here. I then hit the road and I get the flu. Five kids and members are gonna get it.

0:52:56 Michael Port: Oh, I remember that. Yeah.

0:52:56 Scott Stratten: It does the roulette and I get it. I’m about to go on stage in Seattle, and I have 103 temperature. I’m the walking dead, and I’m talking about it in the group on Facebook, how dead I am. And a friend, Mitch Joel, sends me a text, and he says, “Don’t tell the audience you’re sick. They don’t care, they don’t deserve that, and you’re a professional. Kill it.” And I walked up, and I brought the fricking house down, and didn’t say a word that I was sick. And by the way, I don’t remember the talk. I don’t remember doing it. I brought the house down and somebody in the afternoon in the event told them that I was sick that morning doing the talk, and the member’s, “What are you talking about?” I realized respecting your audience to that level it’s like going to a restaurant and coming out and saying, “You coulda had this dish but we don’t have it.” You just don’t do that. I flew to an event in Portland, and I was supposed to have 45 minutes, and I ended up having 14 minutes. It was the best 14 minutes I’ve ever done.

0:54:00 Michael Port: Wow.

0:54:00 Scott Stratten: And the audience walked up and said, “That was great.” I coulda said, “You had 45 more minutes I coulda given you.” But it’s not… You gotta be professional, you gotta do it, and you gotta not point out your faults because they’re not thinking about them until you mention them. It’s like the Streisand effect on stage. If you don’t mention it, nobody’s gonna think about it.

0:54:15 Michael Port: What is the Streisand effect? I don’t get the reference.

0:54:19 Scott Stratten: The Streisand effect is a thing that… Streisand, years ago, there was an aerial photographer who took photos of California coastline homes just as a hobby. This was his hobby. He took photos of these homes on these huge cliffs going into the ocean, and he took photos. And he had a little website. This is in the mid ’90s so the Internet was me and seven other people were on the Internet. [laughter] Nobody was using it. And he had a picture of a bunch of famous celebrity homes. Barbara Streisand found out and sued him for that photo. So what do you think happened? The news picked it up.

0:54:56 Michael Port: Sure.

0:54:56 Scott Stratten: And said, “Streisand is suing this guy that nobody’s ever heard of and his photos nobody’s ever looked at.” And the photos got, I think it was 300,000 views the next day, and they had 30 the day before. And that’s known now…

0:55:10 Michael Port: And with Internet inflation, that’s like 30 million views.


0:55:16 Scott Stratten: But yeah, because then there wasn’t… Everyone wasn’t online.

0:55:17 Michael Port: Exactly. There were fewer people.

0:55:18 Scott Stratten: I think probably 30 million people watching it now. That’s what I mean by Streisand. You cause focus on something nobody was focusing on.

0:55:25 Michael Port: Yeah. And it worked out quite well for him in that case.

0:55:28 Scott Stratten: Very well. Yeah. He got I’m sure some good gigs of taking pictures of homes up top.

0:55:33 Michael Port: The nice thing about performing is that when you’re on stage, you’re so focused on delivering the promise that you’ve made to that audience that things like pain or fever, they sorta slip away. You don’t actually feel them until you get off stage. About 20 minutes later, you feel like you’re gonna die.

0:55:57 Scott Stratten: Just gonna die. [laughter]

0:56:00 Michael Port: Amy had salmonella poisoning.

0:56:02 Scott Stratten: Oh, God.

0:56:02 Michael Port: She was playing the lead in Othello. Not Othello, of course, but she was playing Desdemona and she had 104 fever. And she had an understudy, and her understudy was not prepared so she had to go on. She went on and she made it through. She passed out afterwards, was taken to the hospital. Within four days, she lost 20 pounds. And you know what Amy looks…

0:56:41 Scott Stratten: She doesn’t have 20 pounds to lose.

0:56:42 Michael Port: She doesn’t have 20 pounds to lose, and yet the audience didn’t know. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about.

0:56:48 Scott Stratten: They went home saying, “That was a great performance.”

0:56:49 Michael Port: That’s a great performance.

0:56:50 Scott Stratten: The show must go on. But everything’s a show to me. A talk is a show. I can’t just reschedule these things. And I got a parasite in Istanbul because I ate all the chicken in the country and because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you go the Mediterranean.

0:57:07 Michael Port: Clearly.

0:57:07 Scott Stratten: And I got back, and I was on the second book tour. And Alison was with me, and she dragged through airports. And I was, for a month… I went to the hospital when I came here and they couldn’t identify what was happening inside me. It was that rare.

0:57:20 Michael Port: Wow.

0:57:20 Scott Stratten: And I don’t remember any of those things and those talks. I got wheel-chaired into gigs but when I got on stage, “Let’s do this.” It was just, it’s fascinating to me. And to me, it’s not even the form of adrenaline. For me, I don’t get jacked up before I go speaking. My veins aren’t pumping. I’m not excited. I don’t get nervous, and I know that’s an anomaly for most things. I never have. I’m not trying to be cocky. I just haven’t…

0:57:47 Michael Port: But actually, I think maybe in the speaking industry, it’s an anomaly. In the world of professional actors, it’s not. If you get hyped up or manufacture that kind of hyperactivity, you usually are not in control.

0:58:08 Scott Stratten: No.

0:58:09 Michael Port: And the performer’s job is to be in control at all times.

0:58:15 Scott Stratten: Right. That’s what it feels like to me. I have nothing running through my veins except, “I’m ready. I’m ready to go on. Get me on there. And why am I not speaking three times today? I’m ready to do this anywhere.” I once had somebody say to me in the industry, and, god love our industry, but somebody said to me in the industry… I only read it. I’m sorry, read it somewhere on a post. It said, “If you’re not nervous, you don’t respect your audience enough.” I’m like, “Where does that even come from? What does that even mean? I don’t… What? No, I’m prepared. I feel good. I feel confident. I’m not nervous at all.”

0:58:48 Michael Port: I get nervous sometimes. It’s a little bit in my nature. I get a little bit nervous, like that anticipation. I get a little bit nervous, but I don’t get physically jacked up.

0:59:00 Scott Stratten: Right. It’s not like before going on the football field.

0:59:04 Michael Port: No. I’m not doing push-ups behind the stage, which I’ve seen people do.


0:59:08 Scott Stratten: Me, too.

0:59:09 Michael Port: But it’s different for each performer, and so I always go back to that. We’re playing fine and having fun with it, but for somebody it may work really, really well, and or they may find that there’s an even more sophisticated another level of performance that they can tap into. We’re each, I think, always doing our best even when it may not look like we’re doing our best. But for us, whatever we’re doing right now is our best. And I think we gotta respect that.

0:59:43 Michael Port: One time, actually, it was in the group. You may recall this. One time, somebody said, “What do I do to get in that state beforehand? What should I do to get myself pumped up and in that state physically that I need to be in so that I can really energize the audience?” Then there was a bunch of different approaches offered. Because I was an actor and I had that particular experience, I threw out there, I said, “Maybe you don’t need to get into a particular state. Maybe if you are focusing on your objectives, which is getting people to think differently, to feel differently, to act differently in whatever way is relevant to you and them in that moment, maybe that’s what changes your state. Because you create a feeling in your body, when you are going after what you want and that creates a feeling in the body of the people that you’re affecting. So that’s what changes your state of being rather than trying to force a state of being onto yourself beforehand that is potentially separate from your actions.”

1:01:05 Scott Stratten: Right.

1:01:06 Michael Port: But it’s not something that one would just imagine because it’s… If you’ve never trained that way, if you’ve never done that kind of work, you wouldn’t know. Some people may do it intuitively. I have a feeling that you do that just naturally, very intuitively. You’re going after what you want so intensely, so much passion, that you’re open enough to allow it to affect you physically. And that of course affects the audience physically…

1:01:37 Scott Stratten: Right, right.

1:01:37 Michael Port: So you’re not manufacturing…

1:01:38 Scott Stratten: I always find, too, that for me… I love what I do. I’m so honored to be on that stage, and love it… I don’t even know how to word it right. I love it so much. I love it so hard when I’m up there that I want the audience to see that.

1:01:57 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:01:57 Scott Stratten: That he is happier than anything doing that.

1:02:00 Michael Port: Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! You know, sometimes people say, “Hi, I’m really happy to be here.” And I’m generally encouraging people to stay way from those kinds of things…

1:02:08 Scott Stratten: Yeah.

1:02:08 Michael Port: ‘Cause, I think you should show them…

1:02:12 Scott Stratten: Yeah, exactly.

1:02:12 Michael Port: Rather than tell them because what’s the alternative. Of course, you’re happy to be there. The alternative would be that you’re really pissed off that you’re there.


1:02:18 Michael Port: Which is weird. But sometimes…

1:02:19 Scott Stratten: Want people to walk out and say, “Damn he’s into that. He’s really in to that.”

1:02:22 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:02:22 Scott Stratten: And the best thing, I do a book signing afterwards.

1:02:24 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:02:25 Scott Stratten: And people are, “I really loved your talk,” and I say “I loved doing it”…

1:02:28 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:02:28 Scott Stratten: And they look at me and say, “I can tell.”

1:02:30 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:02:31 Scott Stratten: And I’m, “Ah! There we go!”

1:02:31 Michael Port: Yeah. That’s right and also, what was I gonna say, I lost my train of thought. It’ll come back.

1:02:40 Scott Stratten: But I see people… I’ve had a couple of things where I’ve done for charities. I EMC’d a women shelter event a month ago. I got up, everything’s in context, and I got up there and I said, “I am so honored and privileged to be here.”

1:02:54 Michael Port: Context. Yep.

1:02:55 Scott Stratten: Context. Right.

1:02:56 Michael Port: Or if you know, if I…

1:02:57 Scott Stratten: When you say it as a part of a script…

1:02:58 Michael Port: Yeah. That’s right or is because you don’t know what else to say in that moment, you just trying to find some filler and it just feels like filler…

1:03:05 Scott Stratten: Yeah.

1:03:05 Michael Port: If I was given an honorary PhD by my undergrad…

1:03:09 Scott Stratten: Yes.

1:03:10 Michael Port: I would say, “I gotta tell you, I’m pretty happy to be here because I almost didn’t graduate.”


1:03:15 Michael Port: “So the fact that I’m getting an honorary PhD is quite the thing.”

1:03:19 Scott Stratten: The fact that it’s being authentic, right?

1:03:20 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:03:20 Scott Stratten: You’re not saying it as a line.

1:03:21 Michael Port: Right. Yeah.

1:03:22 Scott Stratten: You’re saying it because you believe that and I think the audience can see that.

1:03:25 Michael Port: Yeah. Also, we’re looking for different ways, without trying to be gimmicky, different ways of introducing ourselves and the work that’s not gonna be the same as the thing that every single person said before you, which is “I’m really happy to be here.” That’s usually how they start.

1:03:48 Scott Stratten: You say your name.


1:03:50 Scott Stratten: Everybody here’s Scott Stratten. Everybody, I’m Scott Stratten. I’m from…

[overlapping conversation]

1:03:54 Michael Port: Yes! Yes! You sort of redo your bio after the bio was read. That happens, too. Yeah. And again, I think I go back to what, in closing this up, I go back to what I mentioned in the beginning about you, Scott, is your reverence. I think it’s what drives you, and I think it’s something we can all learn from that you have so much reverence for it, you love it so much, that you would do all of the work necessary. And I just remembered what I was gonna say which was, often people work themselves so much before they have to give a speech that they asked to give, that they seem like they don’t wanna do it.


1:04:35 Michael Port: But you asked for it. So go have fun with it. Make it special and that’s what you do and I think it’s one of the reasons that you’re so good at this and you have such an impact on people because you have so much reverence for it.

1:04:50 Scott Stratten: I have a great, a huge respect for this. The thought when people tell me that, because I go against sometimes the associations and stuff and what they do, and I smack things around. I do it because… People say, here’s the best, people think I hate realtors. I do a lot of talks to realtors. I don’t. I give a damn about them doing it and they have the ability to be in front of community incredibly except for the fact that I hate the ones who are ruining it for others.

1:05:23 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:05:24 Scott Stratten: And the same thing in speaking. The same thing for that. The ones who think it’s a joke or that they can do it and take advantage of it. That I care about. I really, honestly do. That what drives me every single day to do this stuff. It certainly isn’t the money creating communities [chuckle] [1:05:40] ____ all these things. I’ve had have people come to me with ideas how to monetize this speaker group. I don’t want to.

1:05:46 Michael Port: Yeah.

1:05:47 Scott Stratten: I love it. This is my home, this is my community. I don’t mind people who do. It’s not my goal. My goal is to login and say, “Hey everybody, how you doin’?”

1:06:00 Michael Port: That’s beautiful. Scott Stratten on He’s got the UnPodcast which you should definitely listen to. Anywhere else, anything else you wanna share with them? If they wanna contact you, should they do it through Facebook or Twitter?

1:06:13 Scott Stratten: Yeah, I’m marketing everywhere. So, wherever you are, I’m sure I have an account there and I’m good.

1:06:19 Michael Port: On marketing…

1:06:21 Scott Stratten: I will see some of you at the HPS live events whenever I get invited back.

1:06:26 Michael Port: Oh. You have the standing invitation.

1:06:28 Scott Stratten: [chuckle] I know. I got it in my pocket.

1:06:30 Michael Port: That’s exactly… It’s in your pocket all the time. Alright, buddy. Listen everybody, keep thinking big about who you are and about what you offer the world. I think we can do more together than we can alone, and it’s really a pleasure to get this opportunity to serve you. I never take it for granted. I always, always wanna do my best for you and I’ll keep trying. So thanks so much and we’ll see you next time. Bye…

[background conversation]