Boss Move 3: Beginnings
When we think about beginnings, we know, that like, strong beginnings, I know that strong beginnings, from all my coaching, really rely on going first. So, one of, I have like 21 different themes that I coach on, and one of them is this concept of going first. Going first, meaning, if you want your audience to be scared of something, you need to show up in a way that sets that up right off the bet, you gotta go first. If you want your audience to be enthusiastic about something, you have to show enthusiasm first, in whatever form it is, whether it's a serious and very compelling whisper talk, or if it's in doing back flips on the stage, which I kind of have this funny sense you might actually do at some point. The idea of you needing to sort of, be the instigator for this thing that you want to have happen in the room is really present here. So, as you think of, over the course of a 12 minute talk I might give, or a 20 minute talk I might give, what is it that I want to have happen in ...
the room? You want to start with that and be the first person to do it. I'll show you what I mean. And then we're gonna talk about, then here, when do you actually design what that is, what your first words are? You're gonna do it after you write the thing, 'cause sometimes we don't really know how to start until we've read the whole book, you know. We don't really know what the thing is about until we write it out, and then we can revisit how would I start this, so that it sets up the rest of it in the way that I want to. So, here are a couple of prompts that I use with my clients when we're playing with beginnings. If I started with something scary, what would it be? You know, and I think so often in business, a compelling piece of data can be all you need to setup the attention you'll need to really land a great message throughout your time on stage. If I started with a brief personal story, what might it be? It's gotta be something that is on theme, right, for the rest of the time that you're speaking. It's just not to entertain, and if I started with something that makes us friends, what would that be? Meaning, if I want, it's sort of the opposite of something scary right? Even the first moments, I really want to make friends with my audience. How might I do that? How might I do that? I don't have answers to these questions, but they're good questions to ask as you explore the different possibilities that might be out there for you. If I started with something scary, what might it be? If I were to tell a brief personal story, what might that be? And if I did something that makes us friends, what might that be? So, and then the, sort of, the most important question is what impact do I really want to have? Do I want to help my room step into a new perspective? Do I want to thrill them? Do I want to surprise them? Do I want to scare them a little bit? Do I want that, right? And this isn't necessarily the call to action what your CTA is. The CTA is sort of an outcome of the impact that you have in the room. If I am thrilling for this audience, what is the call to action for them to act on that thrill? So, what impact do I really want to have? Every time you step in front of an audience, again, whether it's a conference call, or a strategy review session, or a keynote you're giving, it's a good question to ask, and that might setup how you start. So, we're going to do a quick coaching demo in the world of beginnings. I would like one of my volunteers up here again. Somebody who already went would be fine, but somebody who wants to go now, feels inspired to go, that's okay too, great. So can you remind us, we're letting go of the speed and volume stuff, we're just gonna let that go for now okay? So we're not gonna pile on round that. Could you tell me, could you remind us again of your story? Tell it to everyone, just a short one.
My name is Reva. When I was a little girl I loved gymnastics. I felt so empowered by the fact that I could just fly through the air, like my olympian role models.
Yeah, great. So, lets think about how might she start this story differently. If she were, what would you want from her right now?
It might be interesting to start with, like, have you ever flown through the air? You know, the feeling, not the story, but the feeling that you had.
Right, and because what kind of impact do you want her to have on you?
Oh, 'cause than, I could like, feel that internally as well.
Right, so you can transfer that experience into the room. Okay, so if you were to talk about your experience of like, what it feels like to be in a really strong, successful tumble, how would you tell that story? What is tumbling like?
Let's see, have you ever felt like Wonder Woman? Like you were invincible and you could fly to all crazy heights you could imagine.
Great, that's great. Tell me, start with, tumbling feels like. Just tell us.
Tumbling feels like flying through the air.
That's good, that's a nice start. Now if you wanted to scare us, what might you say?
Tumbling is terrifying (giggles).
Right, that's almost different, say it again.
Tumbling is terrifying.
In what way?
That sometimes it just doesn't work out in your favor (giggles).
Then talk about what it does.
It scares the begezes out of you, because you might be flying backwards, not knowing where you're going, and you just have to trust that you know what you're doing, and follow your gut.
Good, what did she start with again? What was it? It was, tumbling is terrifying, is that right? Really good, so even something that sounds scary, can be positive in this context. So take it from the top, scoot that way just a little bit, lets make some room, take it from the top, and start with the scariness of it--
..and then move in to like, what you loved about it.
Tumbling is terrifying. Imagine you're flying across the floor, backwards, you can't see exactly where you're going, but you know that you have the power within you to execute that move, because you've been practicing how to fly your whole life, and it's finally happening.
That's great, that's great, give her a round of applause. (audience clapping)
Very nice, very nice, very nice, good. So what do you notice about that kind of opening?
I got shivers when she was talking about it.
Great, great. What I loved about that as a beginning, is it does have that scary, the scary feeling about it, but it's also full of possibility, right, so it's a surprise to hear from somebody so competent talk about how scary it is, it's very humanizing, I love that. Anybody else want to say what that did for them? About the impact, yeah, back here.
You can feel how rewarding risk taking can be.
That's beautiful, it's almost like that, if we were to work on this, that would be, that would be the name of your talk (laughs). That's really, yeah, she's like let me write that down really quick. (everyone laughs) Great, so it's a really simple example of how you can dial things up and down, and it's sort of surprising that we'd use a scary approach for that one, but it kind of worked, and you try all three of them, personal story, scary, or if we were gonna make friends, what I might do. Anybody else like to come on and try it again? Lets just have you stand here, maybe we just a little bit further forward, so our feet on the ground, the feet, sort of, yeah, there you go, and I'd like you to talk to Arena for a second, and just tell her your story, okay.
A childhood example?
Okay, great. Oh yeah, so just something you did as you were a kid that you really loved that's sort of a fond memory for you.
And you can tell it straight to Arena right there, look how friendly she is, she wants to hear your story so bad, she wants to hear your story, and take your time. (audience giggling)
Okay. One of my fondest memories of childhood is spending summertime with my friends. We would be free-range, have the world to ourselves, just as long as we came home by the time the street light came on.
That's great, that's great, is that it? Is that all, or is there something specific you wanted to share?
Sure, I can do something specific.
One of the things that we would do when we were out on our adventures is build forts, and sometimes they would be out of things found, or we'd scavenge our house for materials, like towels, which our parents didn't really appreciate. (everyone laughs)
That's great, great, things found, I love that idea. Wow, you said your anxiety level's high and you were really nervous, but did you notice how articulate she is?
Do you notice how well paced she is?
Really, and your choice of words is beautiful, so perfect example of our experience of ourselves is not necessarily what's going on, you know, in our experience of you. So, beautiful, thank you. So, if we, you're doing great, you're doing just what you need to be doing. So if we were to play with an introduction, the one she did is fine, but if we wanted to play it, you wanted to scare us, you wanted to make friends with us, you want to start with a personal story, where might we want to go with that?
Okay, that's kinda tricky.
It's tricky, okay.
So what, like what would you want to hear?
Something that was surprising?
Okay, imagine yourself doing something you're not supposed to. (everyone laughs) For me, it was sneaking the clean towels and linens out of my mother's cubbard and taking it with me outside into the wilderness with my friends to build forts.
Good, stop right there. Did that work?
It worked, good, somebody grab a mic, why did that work?
It is very, very visual from the beginning. You were telling me to imagine myself, to put myself in a situation where I'm doing something that is potentially dangerous.
Yeah, why is it scary? Why did that qualify as scary, 'cause it was delightful also, but it still is a little scary, why?
'Cause of the consequences?
And the fact that you made it inclusive, 'cause you just said imagine like, something so, I'm pretty sure everyone imagined something different.
Yes, that's great, over here.
Yeah, and I think when you relate it back to being a child, we all can relate to that feeling you get when you know you're doing something--
..you're not supposed to, (audience laughing) but you're gonna try anyways in case Mom doesn't catch you.
Yeah, that's great, and right back here.
The mischievousness, and the like, excitement about maybe getting caught.
Yes, yes, so I have to say that this, because this stuff is all so contextual, what I love about it is she has a nice purple jacket and her floral shirt, she's very unassuming, and then she's like, imagine being naughty. (everyone laughs) You know, like, it's so perfect, I love that, and so what I love about that it's such a great sneak attack, and that's very, that draws me in, and it's such a beautful surprise. Thank you, you did a fantastic job, thank you. (audience clapping) Really good. Yeah, so, so both of those were surprising that we were able to pull something scary, which you know, what do I mean by scary? Well, it's gonna mean whatever we draw in, and practice, and try. That was a fantastic example, and I love whoever noted about that it was a scary example that was inclusive. It wasn't a scary kind of example that made you want to scatter. It was a scary kind of example that made you go, oh, yeah, yeah, relate, you know, very quickly. So, all, those are fantastic examples. So we have time for one more, who'd like to go next? Okay, so you'll remind us of your name, 'cause you're on camera now.
Hi, I'm Ally.
Okay, and Ally's gonna tell us a story of something she loved when she was a kid.
Okay, when I was a kid, I loved to swim all day long. It didn't matter the weather. It didn't matter if it was cold or hot, I would come out, only when I was forced, only out of the pool when I was forced.
Yeah for food and sunscreen, right?
For food, yeah, yeah. (both laugh) My lips would be purple, I'd be shivering, and it would be raining, and hailing, and, you know, I would still be there.
Great, great, so if we wanted her to, do we want her to scare us at the beginning? Do we want her to make friends with us quickly? Do you want a personal story? I mean it's kind of funny for this, 'cause it is a personal story, just side note, you know most of the folks that I work with, work in a context of business, so they're using a personal story to illustrate something that is a business situation. So maybe this, yeah, just imagine that, use your imagination. So do we want her to scare us? Or do we want us to, do we want her to make us her friends?
Make us friends.
I knew that was gonna happen (both laugh).
Great, so if you were gonna say something straight off, like, we're friends, well how may you start?
Okay, did you ever feel like you were born in the wrong place, or you didn't quite belong where you were? That's how I felt when I was a kid. I felt way more comfortable in the water, under water, and I was wondering how I had legs and not a mermaid tale. (everyone laughs)
That's really nice, that's really nice, good. Do it again, and lets do it with some volume, just 'cause it's the last demo.
That's the one I wanted to skip. (everyone laughs)
I knew it, something in my body knew it! Okay, good, so I love this, I think it's great. Do it again and do it at twice the volume if you can.
Okay, did you ever feel like--
Nope, louder? Did you ever feel like you--
Uh. (everyone laughs)
Did you ever feel like--
Uh. (everyone laughs)
Do you got any tips for that? (giggles)
Yeah, so plant your feet, nice and good, now lets do it, go really slowly, you can go slow, open your mouth a lot, like a crazy amount, okay?
Did you ever feel like you were born in the wrong place or at the wrong time?
Good, one more time, we'll take it from the top one more time, and again, open, did you ever feel like, like where, like you're talking to us through the glass, you know, and you're like the door is locked, and you're like, get Mommy the keys (everyone laughs) they're over there. That's what we want from ya, okay?
'Cause they locked you out of the sliding glass door, okay go. Not at all from personal experience at all. (everyone laughs)
Did ever feel like you were born in the wrong place or the wrong time, like you just didn't quite belong--
..where you were?
Good, was it better?
It's more animated, but not louder. Good, we're gonna do it one more time, 'cause I love it.
Okay, me too (giggles).
But I want you to start with, you do? You're like, no I'm hating this right now, when can I stop?
This is a frustration one. (everyone laughs)
Yes it is, thank you. So we are going to, so we're gonna do it again, and I'm gonna have you start with the phrase, I am actually a mermaid.
Okay. Open your mouth so open, go.
Okay, I am actually a mermaid. Did you ever feel like you were born in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with a set of legs instead of a tail? That's how I felt when I was a kid.
That's great, that's really good, give her a round of applause. You did great. (audience clapping)
Okay, so, so again, I'm asking her to go, just going back to the earlier Boss Moves, I'm asking her to go more deeply into volume, but what ends up happening when it comes out sideways is a little bit more intensity, and a little bit more animation. Now as far as her story goes, what did we like about, either of, which of those two startings did we like?
I am actually a mermaid, why? The first one was great, but lets talk, I'm just curious, what worked about it?
I am actually a mermaid, like, oh, what's going on here?
Yeah. (everyone laughs)
That's great, that's great, yeah, right here.
Well since it was, you know, to make us feel like we're friends, like I feel like, I don't know if it's just me, but a lot of us little girls wanted to be mermaids--
Yeah, that's so nice.
..when we were little.
Little Mermaid was my favorite movie, so, when you're telling that story about swimming, I was like hoping, you'd say something about mermaids.
And when you did, I was like, yes, all right.
That's so good. I wanted to be a long haul truck driver, but yes, go ahead. (everyone laughs) I did.
So, I have a question about vulnerability, like when is it appropriate to like, really be vulnerable, you know, like there was the TED Talk, Brené Brown--
..about being vulnerable--
..and I'm curious about your thoughts around that.
Yeah, okay, that's great before we go, that's a great way to sort of end, before we go to break. I think we're going to break next. So we're gonna talk about endings in a second, and both places, are places where that can be at play. So, I think, you know, we always have to be mindful, you know, Brené Brown may say like, no, you should always go big, but I'm gonna say that we're gonna wanna calibrate all the time, however, the thing that we hide is very often the very thing people want from us. It's kind of weird, but, in the 20 years of doing this work, every time my client takes this kind of calculated risk, where showing something that is very, I don't want to say it's always personal, because in the example of giving a presentation about a (clears throat) product strategy, and starting with a personal story, followed by some sort of scary statistic that makes us want to pay attention to the story differently, isn't necessarily an act of vulnerability, because you're not exposing yourself so much. However, it can be an act of vulnerability because it's not what people expect. You're breaking protocol a little bit, sort of that's not how we do it here, or whatever. So you're stepping out of like, how you might think it's supposed to go. So, I think, but over and over again, in my experience, if we're thoughtful, and we are calculated, but also committed to speaking from the heart, when you do it in a way that is from the heart, it all it does is make people go, I wish I could be like you. Yeah, I've rarely, rarely had moments where it's backfired, to tell you the truth. Backfired, yeah, do you have a question here? Is that, I don't know if that helps you, if that touches on your question, but it's just, over and over again, the thing that people are like, I shouldn't do that, I shouldn't do that, it's like, it's like, they love it when other people do it, they want it when they see it in other people, but when it's our turn, it's easy to go, oop, not me.
So can you give me a couple examples of what that is that people are trying to hide, that is the thing that needs to come out?
Yes, let me ask this question, and then I'll talk about that.
That's exactly the question I was about to ask. Like, would you mind give us like some existing examples, where people say, oh, you know, we get backfired. I'm just so curious.
Where they have, what has backfired?
How do you define backfired? Like, how do you define that moment.
How would you define backfired? I think backfired would be, it landed in a way that was so not resonant, that you damage credibility with your audience, that, you know, like that, and that backfiredey stuff can be kind of quiet and insidious maybe, but that, to me, that's the backfire. That you're not just neutral with your audience afterwards, but it actually damaged your credibility. Now when I think about concrete examples of where we've chosen to be bold and not, you know, I worked on a couple of Olympic bids, and a lot of the strategists and the games planning folks, along with the bid team (clears throat), would write the scripts, and sometimes, although I'm not a script writer, I've had the opportunity to write some scripts for athletes, and those are the moments where we were choosing to tell the bigger story, instead of sticking to, it's such a just, instead of just sticking to, it's such an honor to carry the flag for my country, to talk about their origin story. One example's is I was working with a colleague on one of the bid's I've worked on, and we wrote a script for a gentleman who was, and these are like representing athletes as part of the bid, played blind, he was part of the Paralympics, and he played blind soccer, where everybody's blindfolded to equalize the amount of sight loss across the teams, they play with a smaller ball that has bells in it, and he was gonna speak about why he thought the games would be so powerful to happen in that geography, and (clears throat), yeah, they decided to tell the story of how, you know, football, a very specific moment in time when football had shed an enormous amount of light in his life, and then talk about the business of the games. You know, that was a decision, that was a choice. It was like should we do this, should we not do it, yes we should do it. Now that's a super high stakes, high stakes environment, you know, where there's just a lot of money, and people, and strategy against that, and that was embedded in a bigger set of set, but those little moments where like, do we play safe, or do we show something, do we play safe, or do we show something, and at the same time, you know, for me, I get a lot of feedback about how I've started meetings, you know, that are about setting the tone for how it goes, and I just think, over and over again, when I've taught classes like this and others, what people love, and delight in, and want, is always, they always want from everybody else but are scared to give of themselves. So, yeah, I don't know what else to say about that except, if you have a choice, I want to push my clients, I want to push you, into doing the bold and beautiful thing. Particularly, if your journey in communications right now, is about establishing, or re-establishing, the kind of role you want to play in the world, and with the people that you work with in a certain way.