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Entrepreneurs: Too Many Minds: 4 Lessons towards better Listening Skills

In Forbes’s article, “Ten Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Fail,” written by Steve Andriole, a business professor from the Villanova School of Business at the Villanova University in Pennsylvania, stated that Entrepreneurs were not smart. “Not talking about IQ here. Entrepreneurial IQ (EIQ) is about a holistic understanding of situations. Many entrepreneurs understand their idea, but not the market that will accept or reject the idea. Nor do they understand how accidental, uncontrollable, unscheduled innovation actually works. Or who the real competitors are. Often entrepreneurs have too little domain depth: they literally do not know what they’re talking about (though they often talk a good game).”

minds

I like to address this issue from a different perspective and use an example from the movie, “The Last Samurai.”  It’s a story of a 19th Century army captain named Nathan Algren played by Tom Cruise.  In one scene of the movie, Cruise’s character is attempting to learn how to sword fight with wooden samurai swords.  His teacher, a seasoned samurai, is showing no mercy and Cruise’s character is getting beaten and bruised mercilessly.

After another round and ending up knocked to the ground, the American captain sits quietly and bewildered as to what he is doing wrong.  A young samurai approaches him and tells him quietly, “Too many minds.” The young Japanese man goes on, “Mind of the fight, the mind of people watching, the mind of your surroundings, too many minds.”  This concept of too many minds can also parallel the concept of listening skills. Here are four key lessons to improving those skills and help you focus on one mind.

eye contactLesson 1:  Maintain eye contact.

This means to focus on the person who is talking to you.  It doesn’t mean stare and think about a good come back. The blank stare shows no activity because the person is thinking or daydreaming about something else.  Grant you in some cultures, like in Japan, looking at the eyes can be an insult, but even in this case, the focus must still be on what words are being chosen to express thoughts.

Guide-to-Keywords-and-SEOLesson 2:  Listen for keywords.

What words has the speaker chosen to express himself?  If the words are vague or too general, that is a good time to interrupt politely and ask for clarification or definition.  This will also demonstrate that you are listening and engaged. Emotions play a big part in what is spoken and should not be taken personally.  Listen for emphasized words. But how will you know which words are keywords?

body-language-300x212Lesson 3: Body communication.

I remembered a community play I directed, and one patron came up to me after the show and told me she really liked the young actress in the performance but could not hear or understand her.  I thought that was interesting because I was up in the control booth and could hear the young actress’ lines perfectly. But when I saw the video of the performance, I understood immediately what the problem was.  Several times the actress delivered her lines with the right emotion, but with nobody communication. No hand gestures, facial expressions, or body movement. Body communication is 80% of public speaking. Body language is another way to listen by interpreting what is being said through facial expressions, hand gestures, and body stance.

shut-up-birdsLesson 4:  Shut up and listen

A while back Forbes described and listed the 10 top reasons why entrepreneurs and solo business owners failed.  Interesting enough, six of the ten can be further filtered down to one specialized skill. One that you don’t even think about but can affect your sales, marketing, partner relationships, customer service, and in the end your business. That is learning how to listen.  Strong listening skills will improve your marketing, sales, customer service, and presentation and public speaking from presentations to sales.

A successful entrepreneur, Ernesto Sirolli, learned the hard way an important fact about listening.  In his 20’s, he had come to Africa with ambition, knowledge, and resources to help Africans move from their primitive ways, according to Western thinking, to modern advancement–and he failed.  Why? Listen to his story on learning how to shut-up and listen.  Ernesto is a brilliant public speaker with a talent for quick wit and humor.  If you really want to succeed as an entrepreneur take the time and listen how to achieve that goal, it will be, in my opinion, the first primary step to learning an important lesson that can start your improvement towards better listening and inevitable towards improving your public speaking and presentation skills.

Then, when you are ready, I’m here to help take those next steps in mastering both your public speaking and presentation skills. Look me up on LinkedIn.

 

public speaking, Uncategorized

“It’s About Your Script.”

 

 

It doesn’t matter whether you are delivering an informative, persuasive or humorous speech.  The majority of people concentrate on how they are going to deliver their presentation, or what images will work best on their next Keynote/PowerPoint presentation.  They may then focus on whether to use notes or make an attempt to memorize their speech. And yet, no one really looks at the root of all public speaking problems and its solution–the script.

I’m writing this article for print and reading, but if I was delivering this as a speech, my writing would look quite different, in fact, it would look like a script, because essays are designed to be read, while scripts are crafted to be spoken.

scriptvsnovel

A script, like a novel, is written with words–and yet they are different.   Where a novel must set the scene, develop the characters, and create emotion with words; a script  must be spoken to an audience creating its energy by breathing life into each word.

How to Prepare Your Speech

Write it as if you are speaking.  Don’t write an essay, the words will be spoken not printed.  Double-space your script: This is for the purpose of making comments to yourself.

Underline adjectives and key phrases.  These are words that represent emotions.  What emotions do your words represent? If you aren’t sure then this is something a public speaking coach could help out with.

Practice by speaking out loud

I have walked into many high school and college English 1 classes to find students buried in reading a Shakespeare play like Romeo & Juliet or Julius Caesar–the key word is “buried,” because the room is silent as everyone is trying to stay awake reading silently.  Not one of Shakespeare’s plays was designed to be read like some novel–they were written to be SPOKEN! Because Shakespeare’s plays are scripts not novels.

Likewise, don’t practice reading your script for a speech or presentation silently to yourself, READ IT OUT LOUD.    Many people are embarrassed to read their speeches out loud, even when they’re alone, but will pay for it, at the lectern,  when that anxiety appears from hearing their voice, as if for the first time. At that point, awkwardness leads to a lack of confidence that fills the speaker, turning an opportunity to make a great impression into self resentment.

I have seen several good public speaking courses on video.  Likewise there are several good books teaching presentation topics from the boardroom to TED talks.  But both lack two key ingredients. (1) No system on how to choose the right words for impact, and (2) No live feedback from a qualified or professional public speaking coach.  When watching a video or reading a book, how do you know that you are doing it right? You need someone to hear your presentation, evaluate it, and return positive criticism that will encourage and improve your speech.

Public Speaking is a Skill

Unfortunately, videos and books can’t give you experience and feedback.  Experience comes from both practice and delivery to a live audience. Feedback comes from encouragement and direction from an experience coach.

Public speaking comes under the heading of communication as one of the most important foundational tools you can possess.  Public speaking is also the foundation to developing other business skills such as: Leadership, problem-solving, project management, sales and more.   Like any skill, public speaking is an ongoing process that leads to proficiency and beyond.

Looking for a Public Speaking Coach

I strongly believe people looking to learn or perfect their public speaking skills cannot get this experience from videos or books.  For over three decades I have taught public speaking\debate courses, been a theatrical director, playwrite, an actor, and a public speaking coach.  Three decades of hands-on experience working with beginners to professional speakers. I know I can help you in either my workshop setting or one-to-one coaching.  

It is said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it can’t change you.”  Take the challenge to increase your self-confidence and put the nervousness under control.  If interested in learning more about my class settings and topics check out my website: https://PeteRome.com.

 

 

Storyteller Secrets

How Stories Grab Visibility

It was estimated that 12 million viewers watched Super Bowl LIII from home; if you add the restaurants, bars, and clubs who also tuned-in the total number of viewers was closer to 112.7 million people (according to the Nielsen report).  The commercial spot cost $175,000 dollars per second, or $5.25 Million dollars for 30 seconds.  What did these companies get for their money?  Visibility, Attention, and Connections.

First, Visibility.  There are 28 million businesses online and more being developed every day, but they are also competing with daily news, entertainment sites, social media and more.  If your site is camouflaged with the wrong message than you are invisible.

Second, Attention. The one thing all businesses have in common is to attract people to their site.  The average clocked time when viewing a site for the first time is 3-8 seconds.  If you can’t capture the viewer in this time segment you’ve lost a sale.

Rolin
Madonna of Chancellor Rolin 1434:                           Wikimedia Creative Commons

 

 

Third, Connections.  All the commercials in Super Bowl LIII made connections not only with the game but also the winner-The Patriots.  This type of connection is important, and has been done since ancient times.  In both the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, rich patrons paid big money to commission well known artists to paint their likeness into a religious painting.  For example, the patron, Chancellor Rolin, is seen kneeling before the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.  Putting him in the same picture with the Virgin and Child was a 14th Century branding spot.  It elevated his prestige among the people, his place in the nobility, and his place in Heaven.

Most businesses online could not even imagine having the funds to produce a 30-second Super Bowl commercial spot; however, everyone has a story to tell.  A story that makes the emotional connection can produce an action; if you have the right story to tell.  The key is to connect the emotions of the viewer to the product or service as a solution.

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Wikipedia: Creative Commons

Back in the 1980’s, there was a PSA on addressing the subject of drug addiction.  In 15 seconds the viewer would see an egg fried on a hot skillet.  The narrator had only 14 words: “Okay, last time. This is drugs.  This is your brain on drugs.  Any Questions?”   A quick storyline like this has three immediate points:  Attention, Arousal, and Action.  The commercial has had several parodies over the years, but the message is still clear.

I have written about the chemical changes that occur in the human brain when a story is told. It doesn’t matter whether the story is told by a person or an animation; the results are the same if emotions are triggered.  (See: The Perfect Story)

In March, I will be hosting a free Webinar to teach how to develop digital storytelling.  I will not be selling any books, CD’s, or material.  There will be time for questions.  If you are interested send a request for more information and to reserve your place.  Hope you will be able to join us online.

Peter.Rome@Mail.com

 

Stories inside a Story, Storyteller Secrets, UPDATE

Stories that Entertain & Educate

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As a storyteller, I enjoy reading and hearing stories from other authors.  Daniel Lieske’s “The Journey Begins” is one of those authors who is both a storyteller and illustrator.  Great combination.  If you click on the image above you will be transported to an enjoyable journey through his imagination and story development.

pvjx8cnrnnktcuxfppmkThis past weekend, I saw Spike Lee’s production of “BLACKkKLANSMAN.”  Based on a true story about an African-American police officer who is able to infiltrate the local Colorado KKK with the help of a white Jewish officer.  The events took place almost 40 years ago, in a time I well remembered.  The film’s ending centers on the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  It ends with footage of the white supremacist, David Duke and  statements made by President Trump.  The connection is made and I wonder if more of these stories aren’t going to pop up as we move into the next Presidential election.  What do you think?

flowerBack in 1961, my elementary school friend, Darryl Yee, was hired into an all Asian cast movie called, “The Flower Drum Song.”  The movie centered on the cultural issues between Chinese parents born in China and their children born in the United States.  The movie setting was San Francisco.  Now, 57 years later, the newest all Asian cast movie, “Crazy Rich Asian,” has also had success on the big screen.  The theme is similar with a similar theme of Chinese born in the United States vs those born in China.  Traditions and cultural changes.    But this is a similar theme for any ethnicity coming from the East, West, or South.  The real issues in these stories are based on tradition in how another culture works.  thediplomat-mv5bmtyxndmyotaxn15bml5banbnxkftztgwmdg1odyzntm._v1_-386x572

  For example, both leading women, in both movies, wear red and have Chinese fans as part of their identification.  Is this a stereotype,  tradition, or identification of a culture?  The real concern in both of these movies focused on whether the next generation had lost their mother tongue and traditions in favor of adopting their new culture fully.  In both movies, there is a cannibalizing of both the old and new culture to create a new one.  While an older generation will say it has been watered down, the new generation feels it has taken the best from both worlds.

Stories have the power the change peoples thoughts, prejudices and stereotypes.  They have the power to raise up a righteous causes or  dictators.  Stories have influenced our culture, our understanding, and even how we make our decisions.  Stories can be as small as a 30 second commercial to a 3-hour blockbuster.  Stories are always thought as a form of entertainment, but good stories educate too!  What stories have had influence in your life?

Stories inside a Story

Cannibalized Stories

RampageWhen I go to see a movie, I play a small game.  The game is called, “Find the hidden stories within the story.”  It’s simple, all you have to do to play the game is find a story from the past that seems to have been slipped into the present story—kind of a mosaic of stories cannibalized to make a new-old one.  Rampage is one of those stories.

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It highlights the fears of the 1950’s when atomic energy was more feared than appreciated.  Most Sci-Fi movies in the 50’s had monsters or giant bugs that were created from atomic isotopes.  “Beginning of the end” (1957), centered on giant grasshoppers that eventually attack Chicago.  Where the 1954, “Them,” had giant ants that attacked the sewer system of Los Angeles.

The list of giant insect horror movies seemed to follow the same pattern.

forbidden-planet-robby-the-robot-1956_a-G-9343170-8363144Rampage (2018) has giant animals but in the 21st Century they weren’t created by atomic isotopes, we have evolved into genetic research and experimentation.  We can now make any creature our ID, a word that comes from the 1956 movie, “Forbidden Planet.”  It stood for the subconscious.  Since today’s genetics scientists don’t have a conscience in what they are playing with, there is no limit to the number of creatures and stories that can be created.

mighty1Rampage also has elements from another era—the 1940’s.  In 1949, a film called, “Mighty Joe Young,” which was a take-off of the 1933, “King Kong.”  Mighty Joe Young is about a young woman who befriends a giant ape in Africa.  Rampage, on the other hand, has a primatologist who befriends an albino ape he saved while in Africa.

WarofWorlds

But it doesn’t stop there.  Like the H.G. Wells story, “War of the Worlds,” nothing seems to be able to stop the giant creatures as they descend on Chicago.  I find it interesting that the three cities most adopted to get attacked by creatures or aliens seems to be Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York.  How would the story change if aliens or giant creatures attacked Madison, Wisconsin, Greenville, South Carolina, or San Jose, California?

Isn’t it amazing that all the military power that can take down a country can’t take down a giant animal or insect?  And, like most of stories, the military always has an atomic weapon, I guess a trump card from the 1950’s to wipe out the creature(s) and the whole city.  But wait, we won’t have to do that.  Why?  Because there is always one individual who has been studying the creature and knows the weak spot.  Shakes of Smoke, the Dragon in, “The Lord of the Rings.”  There is always one plate, one Achilles hill, that can take down the enemy.

And our protagonist, who can be a young boy to a young girl, a student, or a librarian intern, always has studied the problem more than the experts and will be responsible for delivering the final blow.  It’s all part of the pattern of The Hero’s Journey—You got to love it!

Storyteller Secrets

Hidden Stories

58b876ae0795aI came across an old newspaper from the 1920’s and was surveying the want ads when I spotted a business looking for a computer to help out in their accounting department.  A computer in the 1920s? A computer then was a human who had excellent math skills.  In fact, in the movie, “Hidden Figures,” the women working for NASA in calculating data were also called, “computers.”  Imagine, the original IBM 360 cost $5 billion dollars and had a processor that could perform 34,500 instructions per second.  Now compare that to today’s laptops that can cost a few thousand dollars and process two billion instructions per second?!

 

Farmer Sowing by HandBack in the 1700’s, a farmer sewing his fields had to take a handful of seeds from his pouch and then as hard as he could he would cast them out into his field as he walked —hence the word broad casting.  The word changed in the 1920’s, as radio towers began to cast out their radio waves to a broad area.  Today, broadcasting is used when you use your cell phone with an app like Google Live, Periscope, Streamup, YouNow, LivesStream and other App software.  Except your broadcast is no longer local but literally globally.

Periscope-broadcast

Building-a-Proper-Wood-Fire-in-Your-Home-FireplaceBack in the 1600’s, the backlog was quite literally “the largest log, located toward the back of the fire.”  It was a way to keep the fire burning.  A few centuries later the meaning came to be known for “something stored up for later use.”  Today, backlog has the meaning, “that things are being held up,” but it has started to evolve into a TODO app to help organize schedules, times, and orders.  So, maybe it’s still a way to keep the fire from burning out.

MV5BNzQzOTk3OTAtNDQ0Zi00ZTVkLWI0MTEtMDllZjNkYzNjNTc4L2ltYWdlXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU0OTQ0OTY@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_In the 1300’s, a matrix was a “pregnant animal” or “breeding female.”  The word later became known as the womb or enclosure.  This seems to be the strongest sense at play in the 1999 film, “The Matrix: humans trapped inside the ‘womb’ of the Matrix. . .their bodies forced to pump bio-electricity to generate its power.

 

 

 

avatar_movie_hindu_perspective         hqdefault

 

 

 

 

Thousands of years ago, Hindu mythology talked about their gods descending their world into ours and changed their spirit bodies into material forms called avatars.  Interesting enough James Cameron’s Avatar came from a game in the 1980’s called Habitat.  This was the first large-scale online role-playing game in history.  People interacted with others in this virtual world through their avatars.  Interesting enough the movie, ‘Ready Player One,’ almost seems to be a playoff of the 1980 Habitat.

An Egyptian boy writing. Scribe, hieroglyphs, symbols denoting meaning. Carving in stone or painting. System of sign language. Ancient Egypt.TB1X_x4RVXXXXX6aXXXXXXXXXXX

 

 

 

 

 

In the 1300’s, before paper, tablets were made of clay, wax-covered wood, or a soft surface to write on.  One generally used a stylus to etch words into the clay or soft surface.  Interesting enough we still use a stylus to draw or write with on an electronic surface of light.  How does this differ from medicine tablet?  That’s another story.

I hope you found this reading interesting, it’s always fun to find hidden treasures that bring enlightenment and discovery.   Because, in the end, it’s still about the story.

Storyteller Secrets

Digital Storytelling-P3

Sand-Watch-Detail-89483

The rules for digital stories have changed.  Story themes that go viral have created a new set of rules.  But the first rule that still applies--is your story compelling?  The six elements that work together to make this happen are: the message, content, visual images, color, action and timing.

Timing is more than the length of the story, it also represents viewer’s attention.  This is one reason I keep my daily blogs down to 500 words, that is about 2-minutes of reading  time out loud.  My blog competes with thousands of other blogs for not just your attention–but your time.

Digital stories have more elements to combine than regular storytelling, so the timing is very important in both presentation and delivery.  I cannot emphasize enough that a digital story should be created and developed on a storyboard—yesterday’s lesson.  A storyboard helps to craft and develop how the six elements bring continuity and appeal to attract visitors to your site.

Remember, that it is the message not the story you are really trying to deliver.  If this is a strategic story then the message has a call to action for a response step.  It all begins with your script.  Scripts are generally written in font 12 and double spaced.  Depending on the script, one page formatted in this matter could be equal to one-minute or more.

An actor can be a narrator’s voice, an actual person, an animated character, or even an object.  The story will have a certain pace to emphasize points towards your message.  Back in the 1980’s, John Moschitta, made several commercials for different companies.  He was known as the fastest speaker on record.  Here is an example of a 1980, 30-second commercial he made.

The fast pace kept the viewer’s attention because it motivated the listener to pay attention to the words.  Had John spoke at a normal speed this probably would have been a one-minute commercial.  The hook was John’s pace and lack of pauses, it forced the listener’s attention and was quite successful.

When to release your story is another timing issue.  If your digital story is for brand marketing or sales then Thursday’s and Sundays are the best days to reach customers surfing on the Net.  If your story pertains to a current event then releasing the story as soon as possible will be important.  Adding twitter hash marks will help . During the day, the best times for release are between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast.  These times will vary across the world depending on highest commuter traffic.

Rehearsal is probably the last important key to timing.  I enjoy the character Data, an android character, on the Star Trek Next Generation series.  In this clip, Data is trying out his joke to Guinan (played by Woopie Goldberg).  What this clip will illustrate is that you can have quality material, but if timing is off, you lose reliability.  In humor that’s the punch line.  In Digital Storytelling that’s your message.