When I asked Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success Magazine and someone who’s literally interviewed just about every successful entrepreneur and thought leader out there, what’s the best resource for becoming a better speaker and presenter… the first words out of his mouth were, read Michael Port’s book “Steal the Show” — which is why I’m both excited and humbled to have Michael on as a guest today.
Michael is a professional speaker, a coach, and a 6-time bestselling author, including Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, and his latest, Steal The Show. His training and work as an actor on shows like Sex and the City and Law and Order helped him develop a unique perspective when it comes to public speaking, which we’ll get into today.
During our conversation, Michael breaks down the exact strategies he teaches his students to help them master the art of speaking, so they can professionally promote and present their message—which I know for financial advisors, is a big part of how to land new clients and build your business!
Here are a just a handful of the things that you’ll learn:
- [04:44] The skills Michael learned as a classically trained actor that influenced him as a public speaker, businessman, and coach—and how you can apply these skills as a financial advisor.
- [11:07] Michael lays out his creative book launch strategy that took his book to #2 overall on all of Amazon and how you can replicate it.
- [19:20] How to apply The Red Velvet Rope policy to your business so you’re only letting in your ideal clients—ones that energize you, inspire you, and allow you to do your absolute best work!
- [23:32] How financial advisors mess up their response to that “so, what do you do?” cocktail party question… Michael shares the 4 elements needed to craft a better response and then gets into what led him to selecting his current financial advisor.
- [37:30] Michael shares the biggest speech he ever bombed that left him feeling completely broken—and what it can teach you about being fully prepared!
- [45:23] Why so many presentations don’t lead to appointments—and how you can go from sounding like a spreadsheet to sounding like true financial professional.
- [06:58] Why Michael wasn’t happy as an actor—and his first steps into the world of business.
- [11:07] How Book Yourself Solid came to be—and how Michael built the momentum to become a #2 bestseller on Amazon seemingly out of nowhere.
- [19:20] How to set yourself up to only work with great clients—and how you and your business will benefit from doing so.
- [23:32] Why financial advisors need to be able to talk about themselves in a compelling way.
- [29:33] How to build trust, why it took Michael 18 months to sign on with his financial advisor, and why it proved to be worth it for both of them.
- [37:30] The most nervous Michael was before a presentation, what happened, and how he turned failure into triumph, personal growth, and major success.
- [46:57] Why you don’t need a slide deck or PowerPoint presentation at all to make an impact.
- [51:21] The 5 foundational elements that EVERY presentation needs!
- [01:03:23] The mentors who changed how Michael thought about money and life – and what you can learn from them.
- [01:07:08] Who Michael thinks of when he hears the word “success.”
- [01:08:55] Find out what Michael would love to see as absurd 25 years from now.
- [01:09:48] Why making commitments, filling them, and acting with urgency is so important.
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Michael Port
- Heroic Public Speaking
- Steal the Show: From Speeches to Job Interviews to Deal-Closing Pitches, How to Guarantee a Standing Ovation for All the Performances in Your Life
- Book Yourself Solid: The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even if You Hate Marketing and Selling
- The Think Big Manifesto: Think You Can’t Change Your Life (and the World)? Think Again
- The Think Big Revolution Keynote with Michael Port – video
- Michael Port Acting Reel
- Success Magazine
- Advance Your Reach
- An Inconvenient Truth
PEOPLE MENTIONED IN THE EPISODE
- Darren Hardy
- Michael Hyatt (also check out Michael Hyatt on the podcast)
- Pete Vargas (also check out Pete Vargas on the podcast)
- Cameron Herold (also check out Cameron Herold on the podcast)
- Al Gore
- Hal Macomber
REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
Thanks for checking out the latest show! You all continue to overwhelm me with your kind words and positive reviews! Thank you as this helps the show rank and other advisors out there find us. Here are 4 more recent reviews, the first one comes to us from user frankzagent1 who says:
Frank, thanks for taking the time to review the show, means a lot and I will continue to try to keep this the BEST show out there for advisors to stay on the cutting edge of our ever changing industry! If you have some ideas on other guests to stay on the leading edge, hit me up out on Twitter, love to hear your thoughts.
The next review comes to us from user Biz World who says:
Mike, there’s nothing better than hearing the show is valuable to an industry veteran like yourself! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on me being someone you can trust, I really strive to keep it real on the show and be as transparent as possible, also I have to give some of the credit to my small town KS roots and my parents always making sure I treated others as I’d want to be treated. Thanks for listening and will do everything possible to keep this at the top of your podcast list!
Next up is chrishardyatl says:
Chris, appreciate you not only sharing your thoughts on the show, but love that you included your Twitter handle in the review as well, so I could connect with you there. Looks like you are doing big things in ATL, keep it up and I’ll try to keep bringing more to the show to allow you to better serve your clients. Thanks for listening!
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from user R_Led_22 who says:
Thanks for the shout out, love to hear I’m part of the morning workout routine, keep after it! Knowing this, you’ve got me thinking that I might have to mix in some Rage Against the Machine into some future shows to help you out, always a staple for my workouts!
Already heard it once or twice? Please leave a short review here, and tell me which guests I should have on!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast with your host, Brad Johnson. Brad’s the VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, the largest independent insurance brokerage company in the US. He’s also a regular contributor to Investment News, the Wall Street Journal, and other industry publications.
[00:00:25] Brad: Welcome to the Elite Advisor Blueprint, the podcast for world-class financial advisors. I’m Brad Johnson, VP of Advisor Development and Advisors Excel, and it’s my goal to distill the best ideas and advice from top thought leaders and apply it to the world of independent financial advising.
What’s the best resource for becoming a better speaker and presenter? This is the question I asked Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success Magazine and someone who has literally interviewed just about every successful entrepreneur and thought leader out there. The first words out of his mouth were, “Read Michael Port’s book, Steal the Show,” which is why I’m both excited and humbled to have Michael on as a guest today.
Michael is a professional speaker, a coach, and a 6-time bestselling author, including Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid, and his latest, Steal the Show. His training and work as an actor on shows like Sex and the City and Law and Order helped him develop a very unique perspective when it comes to public speaking, which we’ll get into today.
During our conversation, Michael breaks down the exact strategies he teaches his students to help them master the art of speaking, so they can professionally promote and present their message – which I know for financial advisors, is a big part of how to land new clients and build your business!
So, here are just a few highlights from our conversation. We start with the skills Michael learned as a classically-trained actor that influenced him as a publish speaker, businessman, and coach, and how you can apply these skills as a financial advisor. Then we dive into how to apply his Red Velvet Rope policy to your business so you’re only letting in your ideal clients, ones that energize you, inspire you, and allow you to do your very best work.
From there, we discuss how financial advisor mess up their response to that, “So, what is it that you do?” type of cocktail party question. Michael shares the four elements needed to craft a better response and then gets into what actually led him to selecting his current financial advisor. It all ties together. Later on, Michael lays out his creative book launch strategy that took his book to number two overall on all of Amazon and how you can replicate it.
[00:02:20] Brad: Then Michael shares the biggest speech he ever bombed that left him feeling absolutely broken but more importantly, what it can teach you about being fully prepared. Lastly, we cover why so many presentations don’t lead to appointments and how you can go from sounding like a spreadsheet to sound like a true financial professional.
Okay. Before we get to the conversation, as a special thank you for listening in, Michael’s gifted all of you Blueprint listeners his 50 Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore If You Want to Wow Your Audience. There are 50 short and actionable tips to maximize your results any time you’re on a stage. Make sure to check it out in the show notes at BradleyJohnson.com/40. Go grab a copy. Also, all the additional show notes, books mentioned, people discussed, as well as a full transcript of the show can be found there as well.
One last thing, an added bonus for this episode is anytime I can share some additional knowledge from one of our show’s guests, I try to make it happen. I grabbed a handful of copies of Michael’s latest book, Steal the Show, to share with you all. So, here’s what to do next if you’d like your free copy. All that I ask is that you leave an honest review out on iTunes for our show. You can visit the link, BradleyJohnson.com/iTunes, or simply just swipe down to the review section on most mobile players. Once you’ve left a review, just drop us an email via email@example.com with your iTunes username and a mailing address and we’ll drop you a copy in the mail as a thank you. That simple. So, that’s it. As always, thanks for listening and without further delay, my conversation with Michael Port.
[00:03:50] Brad: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast. I’m incredibly excited. I have Michael Port here with us live today. Welcome to the show, Michael.
[00:03:59] Michael: Thank you very much. Great to be here.
[00:04:01] Brad: This has been really fun for me as this podcast has taken off and to have amazing guests like yourself and it’s always interesting how I first come in contact with guests that come on the show. And so, I just to have to tell the story for the listeners out there right out of the gates. I was at actually a speaking engagement where we brought Darren Hardy in. So, publisher of Success Magazine, obviously an incredible thought leader out there and so after he came off stage, also an incredible speaker I might add, and he comes off stage and I just picked his brain for probably 5 or 10 minutes and I asked him, if I wanted to become a better public speaker what resources would he recommend? And literally, the first words out of his mouth were, “Read Steal the Show by Michael Port.” So, what’s interesting, we were talking before we went live, Michael, had you ever actually coached Darren or not. It doesn’t sound like you have yet but when you have somebody…
[00:04:50] Michael: Yeah. I was featured in the magazine once a number of years ago, but Darren and I don’t know each other well so it was very kind and very humbling. I’m appreciative of the kind words that he offered.
[00:05:02] Brad: Well, and that’s the guy that’s been exposed to, I mean, at Success Magazine has thought leaders every day all day long and for him to basically recommend you as the guy, I mean, I knew I need to get you on the show someday.
[00:05:16] Michael: Thank you. Well, part of it may be because I bring a unique perspective to the, I guess, industry of public speaking because I was a professional actor. So, I was in business for years and I wrote six business-focused books before I moved most of my focus over to public speaking and I was, of course, a professional speaker on the circuit for 15 years myself. But before all of that, I was a professional actor and I have an MFA from NYU, so I was a classical-trained actor. And what I bring to the work of training, developing a craft for speaking is based on the work that I did as an actor and as a student of acting and through the terminal degree that I earned at NYU, and I think that makes a big difference.
It’s one of the reasons that a lot of very high-level folks either read my book or work with me and my wife and my team directly because when you have a certain amount of natural talent and you got the gift of gab and you’re clever and you have a high degree of expertise, you can get away with winging it for a while. But you get to the point where you hit a plateau and you know you can be better, but you don’t know how because you do not yet have a craft. And so, we teach a craft that can be applied to all public speaking and as a result, one feels like a professional because they have a craft even if their job is not to speak professionally but you speaking to promote a message or to build a business and that of course for advisors it’s such a big part of their marketing platform for many of them.
[00:06:57] Brad: Absolutely. What I’m excited about is I’ve seen you do the coaching live and we’re going to get to that, and I mean there are some people that are incredible players but don’t make the greatest coaches. I’ve seen the combination and you were – now, I’m not going to rank how you are as a player versus a coach, but I do know that you are an incredible coach because I’ve seen it live in action like on the spot. So, I want to get there but just to cover the curiosity from the audience because that’s an interesting transition to go from professional actor to then the guy that writes a best-selling book, Book Yourself Solid, and another best-selling book, Steal the Show. So, can you share just high-level how did that whole transition happen? By the way, we’re going to throw in the show notes your actor’s reel because I saw already on YouTube as I’m doing research I’ve got you in Sex and the City so we’re going to make sure to include that in the show notes.
[00:07:47] Michael: That’s the thing about the internet. Once it’s out there, it’s always out there. So, just a warning, word to the wise, if you do look at that reel, there may be some scenes where I don’t have a shirt on and that was 25 years ago, and I had lots of hair on my head. So, I went to grad school because I wanted to build a craft. I wanted to be a professional and then when I got out of grad school I did shows like Sex and the City, Third Watch, All My Children, Another World, As the World Turns and 100 Centre Street, Law & Order. I did the Pelican Brief, Down to Earth, The Believer, Last Call, and dozens and dozens of voiceovers. I used to do a lot of voiceovers for Coors Beer, AT&T, Pizza Hut, Braun and then also on-camera commercials. I did on-camera commercials for Johnson & Johnson and Budweiser. I was one of the “How you doing?” guys. “How you doing? How you doing? How you doing?” So, those are out there too if you look up the Jersey.
[00:08:42] Brad: We could include all of those classics in the show notes I promise.
[00:08:45] Michael: The classics. So, you know, look, here’s the thing though is I was making money. I didn’t have to work a second job which is unusual I suppose for an actor but I, a, wasn’t particularly satisfied with the work that I was doing because I go and I work for a week and then I wouldn’t work for three weeks, and then I’d worked for a day and then I wouldn’t work for two months, and then I’d work for a month and then I wouldn’t work for three days. I’m very, very ambitious and very entrepreneurial and I like to work. So, that I found frustrating and I was immature at the time. I didn’t want to wait for other people to give me work. And now I think maybe I would’ve approached it differently because there are so many more tools that one has to produce their own material but when I was acting, it was a little bit different and I left and when I told my agent that I was leaving, her jaw just dropped and hit the table. I think I heard a thunk because she said, “You’re right there. You’re right there.” I said, “You know, I could be right there for the next 20 years, but I wanted some control over my life so I’m going into business.”
And I talked my way into a job for which I was completely unqualified in the fitness industry, on the business side of the fitness industry, and I told them I was unqualified. I said, “Listen, I’m completely unqualified based on what you think you need for this position.” But, of course, I had nothing to lose so my pitch was, “But I think you’re hiring the wrong people for this job. Based on what I’ve seen, based on my research, here’s what I think you need and here’s why I think you should hire me because I think I fit that profile.” And I was fortunate they took a chance on me and people often give me credit for that. They think it was like a give me props for that, but I had really nothing to lose so it wasn’t some big courageous act of heroic feat of some kind. I just had nothing to lose and that really helped me in that process. And three months later, I was moved to the director level and then three months after that I was on the vice president level and I was managing a whole division.
[00:10:45] Michael: And from there, I went and built another health club at the senior vice president level and then spent a little bit more time in entertainment at that same level and then went out on my own and started consulting for the industry and then built up a business out of that. But it was just one foot in front of the other and eventually, I felt like I had some control over my life because my business eventually became mine.
[00:11:07] Brad: So, where in that timeline did Book Yourself Solid come in and how did that come to be? Was that that business experience that you just packaged up in the book?
[00:11:15] Michael: That’s exactly right. So, the division I ran for the sports club company I had about 500 independent contractors that I had to look after. And so, I learned quickly what made them successful and what they should avoid doing. So, when I wrote Book Yourself Solid, I wrote it with those people in mind but of course, I wrote it for independent professionals, service professionals of all kinds because there were so many similarities in those verticals. And as a result, it became a hit. I got very, very lucky. The first day that the book came out, I hit number two on Amazon and not in a category but in all of Amazon. Dr. Oz was the only book that was ahead of us and he was on Oprah all week so that was tough to beat.
But because it popped up the top of the charts so quickly, it got a lot of momentum and because it was good, it stayed there and it’s the three editions plus an illustrated edition plus a very big comprehensive app as a workbook and that was in 2005 that I wrote that book so it’s 13 years now and a third edition I just put out in this past fall. Of course, the times have changed. When I first wrote the book, there was no such thing as Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or any of those other social platforms. So, that’s how I started with that book but that’s when a lot of the speaking offers started coming in. I didn’t know you could make so much money speaking until they started showing up and saying, “Hey, would you come for this?” and I said, “Yeah. Of course, I’d come for half of that.”
[00:12:46] Brad: So, Book Yourself Solid was really what had you segue into the public speaking a lot more frequently.
[00:12:52] Michael: Yeah. I was using public speaking as a way to get in front of audiences to book business, to book clients but really putting me on the professional circuit was Book Yourself Solid.
[00:13:04] Brad: As our mutual friend, Michael Hyatt says, “There’s life before the book and there’s life after the book.”
[00:13:08] Michael: Yeah. Exactly.
[00:13:09] Brad: Very cool. So, let’s go back because what’s interesting, a lot of our clients’ financial advisors have written a book or that’s on the to-do list going back to how to become more of an authority. Obviously, author, authority they go hand-in-hand. You went to number two on Amazon which is an amazing feat. Was that sheer luck? Did you have a promotion planned running behind that? Can you unpack that a little bit?
[00:13:30] Michael: Oh yeah. Sure did. I mean, my books have also been on the New York Times bestseller list to Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Publishers Weekly. They’ve been selected as the top. So, my book, in turn, in effect was the Number One Sales Book of The Year for 2008 for 800-CEO-Read. Amazon selected them as the Top 10 Books for The Year, etcetera. So, they’ve been on a lot of lists and a lot of different categories and, yeah, we’ve always been very intentional about how we promote them. So, you asked about Book Yourself Solid when it hit number two, is there some luck involved? There’s always luck involved in everything you do but we worked hard to promote that book, really, really hard. And then it was a different time. We could use email promotion only meaning we didn’t have to worry about all the social platforms because they didn’t exist, and people would pay more attention to their inboxes at that time because they weren’t being bombarded with as many digital messages so that was helpful.
But we did a campaign. One of the things that I try to do is I tried to reconfigure what already exists to turn it into something just a little bit better and when Book Yourself Solid came out, the marketing concept that a lot of people were using was what was called the Amazon campaign. So, the idea was that you try to get to the top of Amazon and you would give away all sorts of freebies so that people would buy the book. So, you go to 50 of your friends and say, “Listen, can you give me some sort of product that I can give away?” And when someone buys the book, they get that. So, the pitch was always, “Oh, there’s $15,000 worth of products you can get for $15 when you buy one copy of the book.” And they were getting kind of old and tired and most of the things that were being offered on those sales pages were just recycled freebies that were given away on that person’s site. So, the value started decreasing. The concept made sense, trying to get all these people involved and moving a lot of traffic to that one page.
[00:15:24] Michael: So, what I did is I took the concept then I reconfigured it and I thought, “Well, maybe we could do it as a contest and we can give away real prizes like vacation trips, cruises, Blackberries.” There were no iPods to giveaway at that time but things that actually had a real cash value. And the people who donated them then help promote that this campaign was going on. And so, if you bought one book, you got one ticket. If you bought three books, you got five tickets and if you bought five books, you got 10 tickets. And so, the more books you bought, the more raffle tickets you got for this campaign. And there were legitimately over $50,000 worth of real prizes that people could win. Here’s the thing, I think you’re probably supposed to register if you do some kind of campaign like that. I didn’t know anything. I mean, it was 13 years ago.
So, I’m not recommending that people do that because that is a contest and there may be some legal issues around doing it. Fortunately, I didn’t have any issues at the time, but I got 7,000 new opt-ins that day just from doing that in addition to hitting number two on Amazon on that day. So, lots of leads came in for the business as well and it was really effective because it took that same concept that people were used to, but it threw a new spin on it and added a little bit more value. And so, every time we’ve done a book launch campaign, we’ve tried to do something like that. And when I launched Steal the Show in 2015, I packaged it with a 50-episode podcast that we released that supported the book and that worked very well. That was very effective as well. So, each time we try to do something different.
[00:17:15] Brad: Yeah. I think the biggest lesson there is don’t just blend in with the crowd. Do something that’s unique and is going to show up as valuable to your potential prospects out there.
[00:17:25] Michael: Yeah. I mean, look, I wanted to be a best-selling author. I don’t want to have a book as a business card. I didn’t actually personally see a lot of value in that and I wasn’t looking to sell a few copies. I figure if I’m going to do it, I want to be on the airport tables. I want to be on the bookshelves. I want to be everywhere people are looking and I want people to read it because there’s real value in reading it.
[00:17:46] Brad: Yeah. I have a challenge of you have way too much content to cover on the time we have together so forgive me if I just plow through some of this stuff and then we’ll segue wherever the conversation goes. But just starting like as I look at how to take what’s in your head and what you’ve put out in books and bring as much value as possible to the financial advisors that are either watching or listening. By the way, if you’re listening, please go to the website and watch because Michael wins best backdrop of the podcast ever because – do share a little bit for the listeners, Michael, where you’re at and what your backdrop is there.
[00:18:20] Michael: Sure. Right now, I’m at Heroic Public Speaking HQ. This is our headquarters. We got 6,300 square feet of theater which you can see behind me. We have our rehearsal rooms, lounges, conference rooms, a bar, all of our staff offices are here, and this is where we do our events when they are fewer than 75 people. Our big event, Heroic Public Speaking Live, we do in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center because we needed a theater that can hold over 600 people but for all of our events and our private coaching with our faculty and clients is held here. So, we built this from the ground up because we needed the space that can accommodate the kind of curriculums that we teach, and nothing really existed and the teams we could find were very hard to book because they weren’t ours and so we were limited. So, we just built it ourselves.
[00:19:09] Brad: Incredible setup. You guys don’t happen to be hiring, do you? I might switch off this gig and come out and work with you guys.
[00:19:17] Michael: Well, whatever it takes to get you, I would do it.
[00:19:20] Brad: All right. So, as we go into Book Yourself Solid, as I tried to distill what was in the book down to what can bring a lot of value here, there were a few things I took from the book. The first one being your ideal clients are everything. So, if we can just start there, we don’t have to go to deep but just speak to why that’s so important and it really applies in financial services.
[00:19:38] Michael: It sure does. Look, the first chapter of Book Yourself Solid is called The Red Velvet Rope Policy because I think you should have a filtration system. If you have a red velvet rope in front of you that allows in only ideal clients, clients that energize you, clients that inspire you and most importantly, clients that allow you to do your best work because there are two things that happened when you’re doing your best work. Number one, you love almost every minute of the work you do. I don’t think you’re ever going to love every minute of the work you do. It is work after all, but you will love almost every minute of the work you do because you love the people you’re working with.
And secondly, the people you’re working with are out in the world talking about your best work. And that, of course, is the best marketing in the world. Because most of us have worked at some point with a dud client. Now, when I say dud client, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with the person necessarily. They’re just not for us. My ideal client might be different than your ideal client. Your ideal client to me might be a dud client. My ideal client to you might be a dud client. But we won’t work with people that drain our energy, frustrate us, make us feel like our work isn’t worthwhile, don’t respect the work that we’re doing, and make us want to do bodily harm to that. That’s not the best way to get new clients. So…
[00:21:00] Brad: Especially that last one.
[00:21:01] Michael: Yeah. That last one is just not going to work in your favor. So, I just figure you didn’t go into this business to be miserable and to work with people you don’t like working with. You went into business to live life on your own terms for the most part and sometimes it’s a little confronting to people who are newer or are a little tight meaning they’re not quite as book solid as they want. They might say, “Well, that’s easy for you guys to say because you’ve got thousands of clients and you’re already established and blah, blah, blah,” but this is the thing that helped me at the beginning because I got booked solid faster because I was really intentional about who was ideal, and I went after those people, and that’s different than your target market. Your target market is a demographic, is a group of people or businesses that you serve but your ideal client is a small subset of that target market. Not every single person inside your target market is going to be ideal for you.
So, if you’re a financial advisor and you say, “Well, my target market is anybody that has a net worth of over $5 million and has an income of over $750,000, blah, blah, blah.” Well, okay, that’s helpful but you think you’re going to like working with every person who’s in that particular demographic? I venture to say no. So, what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to figure out who do we our best work with inside of that target market? And then we go after them and all of our marketing materials, the way that we show up in the world, all of that screams. It tells those people that we’re meant to serve them, and it pushes all the other people away, people with whom we don’t do our best work because they know that you’re really clear and intentional about who you work with and who you’re going to help and so they go away and the people you’re meant to serve come to you.
[00:22:51] Brad: Yeah. Well, and also cross paths, you and I, at Pete Vargas’s Advance Your Reach event where you were kind of like one of the primary guys coaching a lot of – it’s kind of like an American Idol for speakers is the best way I can describe it. But one thing that’s interesting, I just look at some of the work he does where he’ll have subsets of groups such as a local group of entrepreneurs or doctors or dentists and as you identify who is your ideal subsets of people, now you’re much more able to go after and go specific to places where those individuals are too. So, it’s just interesting how it can all play together, and you can even deliver from the stage while doing that.
[00:23:31] Michael: Sure.
[00:23:31] Brad: So, as we go in there, another thing I took which gets butchered horribly in our industry that I would love to hear your thought on is learn to speak about what you do in a compelling way. So, the cocktail hour question like, “What do you do for a living?” I’ll throw out what I typically hear and then I would love to hear what is actually, what financial advisors should say when they typically hear a very generic term like, “I manage assets. I help you create an income you can’t outlive. I do risk and fee analysis,” all of like the generic mumbo-jumbo that you hear in our industry a lot. So, if you’re a financial advisor and you’re hanging out at a cocktail reception and somebody asked you what you do, what would be some better examples of how to communicate that?
[00:24:12] Michael: So, let me start by saying I’m a personal finance junkie so I know the industry pretty well. Of course, I don’t work in it, so I don’t know everything about it, but I understand everything you just said, to put it that way, and I do a lot of reading on this particular subject. When you use those kinds of terms or a professional category, just financial advisor or certified financial professional, something like that, to most people, it just lumps you into a broad category and generally when somebody thinks of a financial advisor they think of, “Oh, somebody who is going to take a percentage of my money.” That’s what they think. “Okay. This person’s going to come after me to get my money.” That’s what they think. Now, people make assumptions all the time. My father is a psychiatrist. They make assumptions about psychiatrists. If someone is a plastic surgeon, they’ll make assumptions about the plastic surgeon. They’ll make assumptions about me as a professional speaker or teacher or author, whatever, and sometimes those assumptions are positive and a lot of times they’re negative if they have had any negative experiences with somebody who does the thing you do.
So, if we just rely on our category and that’s it, we make it lumped in with the guy that was putting my mother-in-law in loaded funds and then every six months moving her from one to another so that he get that big hit every time we put her into the new one and it was I thought frankly criminal. So, it’s not going to kill you to use those terms or to say you’re a financial advisor, but I think there are essentially four elements that I think are important to get really clear on that help people understand what you do. And I think we should talk about what we do without using an elevator speech of any kind because I think the elevator speech, the highfalutin, hyperbole-filled pitch that is supposed to be in an elevator, get something, just take their wallet out and give it to you by the time they get to the fifth floor is an unreasonable concept.
[00:26:14] Michael: It’s reasonable, say, in the world of venture capital. If you’re trying to raise a money for a startup and you meet a venture capitalist, they say, “All right. Give me your third, second pitch. What’s the pitch in the product?” And then you give them the pitch and they say, “All right. That’s not bad. I’ll give 15 minutes in my office.” We go in 15 minutes. If they like it, “I’ll give another 45 minutes,” etcetera. But that’s not generally the way relationship develops between you and a client. You’re a service professional and, yes, you sell certain financial products but ultimately, you’re a service professional. So, the person I rely on for advice is my CPA and is also a CFP. He’s both. And I love that combination so he’s a fiduciary to me. And I pay him a lot more money than most accountants would get, and I rely him for advice because I trust him implicitly and explicitly and it took me about a year-and-a-half before I was willing to hire him. But he was willing to take that time to develop the relationship with me and he knew that I had experiences with people that did the kind of things that he did that weren’t that positive.
So, he’s willing to take that time and he was very clear about who his target market was and who his ideal clients were, so I knew that he knew my world inside and out. Because he served people like me, I was in his target market and I knew that he did great work with people like me because I was ideal for him based on my values, the way I see the world, the way that I behave, etcetera. And he was also very clear on my needs and my desires. What I needed meaning the things I wanted to move away from and the desires, the things I wanted to move toward. He was also very clear on the result that I wanted to get, very clear, and he knew what the benefits of that results are for me from a financial, from an emotional, from a physical and even from a spiritual perspective.
[00:28:04] Michael: So, I think that if you know exactly who your target market is, exactly what their needs and desires are, the things they’re moving away from and the things they’re moving toward, if you’re crystal clear on the result that you help people produce and you know what the deep-rooted core benefits are of that result from a financial, from an emotional, from a physical even, and from maybe spiritual perspective too then you can talk about what you do I think which way until Sunday without using an elevator speech. Because if someone says, “What do you do?” you might say, “Well, I’m a certified financial professional or registered advisor, etcetera, and I help people like this target market,” or if it’s them like you achieve this and often these folks have these needs and these desires. And the thing that they’re looking for really are then the benefits from a financial, emotional, physical, and even spiritual perspective. But the thing is, is that the reason it works is because you don’t do it as a speech. It’ll never go the same way twice. I think one of the reasons people use these elevator pitches is because they don’t really know what they do.
So, they feel like if they memorized something then that will do the trick but if you really know what you do, if you know who you serve, if you know their needs and desires, if you know the result that you often get, if you know what the benefits are from the financial, emotional, physical, and even spiritual perspective then talking about what you do is super simple and you don’t feel the need to get all of it out immediately. You’re not worried that you’re going to miss this opportunity because you’re going to keep in touch with them over time because how is trust built? Trust it built over time. Trust is built by making commitments and fulfilling those commitments. So, Matt, my CFP and CPA, he over about a year-and-a-half period of time would make commitments to me and fulfill those commitments without asking me for any business. And the commitments sometimes were small. “Hey, let me send you this article about X,” based on the conversation we were having. And then he would do it exactly when he said he was going to do it and that seemed like a simple thing. But I was having a meeting with my staff today and I actually made a joke today.
[00:30:04] Michael: I said, “I’m going to do a book that’s just one page for service professionals, just one page. Show up when you say you’re going to show up, return the call when you say you’re going to return the call and you’ll be booked solid.” Now, of course, that’s not necessarily the case but we’ve been dealing with some contractors, and certainly, for contractors, that one-page book would probably be helpful. A little bit more complicated for financial professionals but nonetheless I think the same thing is true and that trust is built over time. And so, all of these elements, these five elements they come out over time. We don’t feel this need to slam them with all this information as soon as you need them. And as a result, you seem more confident, you seem more powerful, less needy. I think when you have this whole big pitch about what you do, it seems a little bit needy.
[00:30:49] Brad: It’s desperation. It’s easy to see it. So, going back, the issue is you can’t do that until you go back to step one, who is your ideal client? You have to be very clear there before you can start to define the benefits to that ideal client.
[00:31:02] Michael: That’s exactly right. And if the way that you talk about yourself suggest that you work with anybody that has a pulse and a checkbook, then the person you’re talking to doesn’t feel like you would be special or that you really understand their world and I think it’s an integrity issue because it’s unlikely that we actually can help everyone. There are people that we’re really not meant to serve. And if we suggest otherwise, then I think that people might not believe it.
[00:31:29] Brad: Okay. So, I’m curious now. So, Matt, how did he first come on your radar?
[00:31:36] Michael: Well, he actually first came on my radar because he came to one of our events. Now, he didn’t come to the event because he’s like, “Ooh, I’m going to get Michael and Amy Port as my clients,” I don’t think. He came to the event because he wanted to learn more about presenting because he was using his presenting skills doing small seminars on his area of expertise. And when I found out what he did, I engaged him in conversation because I’m so interested in it and I found that some of the things he was saying was different than what I was hearing from my current accountant and past accountants and financial professionals that I work with. Now, different is not always better. Different could be completely wrong. So, just because it was different, it’s not why, “Oh, it’s different. I want a shiny thing.” But it was different, and it was sensible. So, we would just every once in a while, get together before the session would start and we were just chatting. We would talk about financial issues and concerns and the world as it exists today.
So, we became friendly that way and at one point we were talking about a particular type of financial vehicle and he said, “Hey, can I put together some numbers for you?” I said, “Absolutely. I don’t think that thing is for me but happy to look at the numbers you put together and if I’ve got questions, I’ll put them to you.” And at that time, I didn’t take him up on the offer to use that particular product, but I had a great conversation with him about it and I felt that his answers were reasonable and honest, but he didn’t disappear because I didn’t take him up on that offer. He stayed in touch and then what happened is I was very frustrated with my CPA because I was trying to bring him different ideas for different ways to structure our corporate entities to improve our tax exposure or reduce our tax exposure and he was like, “Oh, you don’t really need to do that. It’s not going to help you that much.” I was like, “Really? I’m bringing you these ideas and that’s what you got?” So, I went to him and I said, “Hey, listen, here I’ve got these ideas. What do you think?” He goes, “Absolutely. That could work. That probably not going to help but here, you should also think about this.”
[00:33:40] Michael: And, boom, that was like, “All right. You’re it. Let’s go.” And the way he structured his whole business was different than anybody else that I’ve worked with. We meet twice a year to do our tax planning and then he doesn’t manage my investments for me, but he does give me advice when I have questions because I do my investment for me. I manage our pension plan here. Actually, had a meeting with three of the staff who were now eligible for the plan today about the plan because it’s something that interests me and I’m not buying and selling stocks all day. So, it’s very straightforward. To manage this plan is pretty straightforward.
[00:34:16] Brad: Thank you for sharing that insight because I know who’s listening right now and they were just like – their ear was pressed against the speaker as they were listening to all of that because I think one thing that’s really interesting for financial advisors is going back to ideal clients. There are very successful people I’m sitting here interviewing like yourself, Michael, and it’s always like how did they acquire their advisor or what went through their head to get to that decision and one thing…
[00:34:42] Michael: And it’s interesting because Matt, I know he pegged me as an ideal client right away. Not just because my financial profile was right for him, although it is, but because of the way that I think about finance. So, he’s like, “That’s the kind of person that I like to work with. Of course, he’s the right business profile because he focuses on small business owners. He has the right amount of money for the things that I can do for him because if someone has less money, there’s not that much I can do for them. There aren’t as many options.” And of course, it means I can afford his fees. I think that’s certainly important, but he also knew that I act fast. When I ask a question, I will act on the answer that I get immediately and I’m very proactive. I don’t just sit back and expect him to do everything. I’m very involved in the process. And so, that’s why he probably spends more time developing the relationship hoping that I would turn to him at some point and I did, and he trusted that was the case so he never felt like he was desperate.
[00:35:38] Brad: I think one other lesson just as I sit back and observe, another thing Matt realized whether this was purposefully done or not, your network is your net worth. Cameron Herold, I’ll never forget. That was a little comment he said that always stuck with me. And so, it was very much probably him just trying to better himself and become a better speaker but he’s side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder with people who are his ideal clients. And a lot of times I’ve seen that’s how those relationships happen the best versus you’re not going to get a mailer in the mail and go to a public seminar or a free dinner.
[00:36:11] Michael: Absolutely. I can go buy the steak myself. I’m not going to that for the steak. So, but here’s the thing. I now bring him to talk to my clients because I think what he does is so effective and obviously, we have no financial relationship. That would be a complete conflict of interest and he also knows that anybody that I send him is generally going to be ideal for him. So, I’ve got a friend of mine who’s selling his business and he was having this issue and I said, “Dude, I think you’re going to run into some real tax implications if you take that particular route. That’s a taxable event. I don’t think you realize.” I said, “Call Matthew.” He called Matthew on the weekend. Matthew called him back immediately on the weekend because he was a friend of mine. Not because I’m so special but because he knows that if it’s somebody I’m referring to him, that’s an ideal client.
So, that’s why it’s all about the relationships over time and I wish I knew that when I was an actor because I really thought it was just merit-based. I really did. I was like, “Oh, all I have to do is be the best, the best trained, the best in the room, etcetera,” and professional speakers, speakers get speakers work. So, if you want to be a professional speaker, you got to know the other professional speakers because it’s hard to get into the bureaus without them. It’s hard to get into the meeting planners without the other professional speakers referring you. And it’s like that in most industries.
[00:37:30] Brad: So, let’s dive into speaking. We’ve gone way too long on this without getting into speaking. So, which it’s interesting, the last thing I really had down from Book Yourself Solid was becoming established yourself as an authority and that segues perfectly into speaking from stage and how to do that. So, as we segue in there, just once again my own personal curiosity, I want to know a guy that’s been on as many stages as you, a guy that’s been in front of cameras as far as the acting that you did previously, what is the most scared or nervous you’ve ever been, Michael, before stepping into some sort of a performance?
[00:38:06] Michael: I think the most nervous I ever was, was before a speech that I gave that I actually bombed. There’s one speech that I bombed. I mean, there are some speeches that sometimes it goes better than others like that worked, everything is fine. Nobody is going to ask for their money back. Everything’s good but it wasn’t the absolute home run. And other times it’s knock it out of the park. But only one real bomb where people are actually walking out of the room and it’s interesting that I was nervous before that one more than any other one. I didn’t intend to bomb but I think somewhere inside I knew it was going to happen because I wasn’t prepared. I thought I had prepared but I really knew that I didn’t and that’s why. Because I was trying something new and I wanted to try something different. And if you wanted to try something new and try something different, you need to put in a lot of work to make sure that the risks you’re taking like in Top Gun, one of the guy says to Tom Cruise’s character, “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”
I think that’s what I was doing there, and I was like afterward I curled up in a little fetal position in my hotel room just devastated because I felt like just such an idiot. And I left that speech. I didn’t go back to that one particular speech for another six years. That’s how broken I felt because I bombed that speech. I just went back to the things that I knew were working that I was doing regularly, etcetera, but I went back to that particular topic because a big conference asked me to. And when they called, I thought they wanted me to do Book Yourself Solid and they said, “No, no, we want you to do something on Thinking Big. We love the Think Big Manifesto, that book. Do you have a speech on it?” And that was the speech that I bombed those years prior and I didn’t do any more on it because I didn’t want to do it like a regular sort of motivational speech. I wanted to do something really unique, but I hadn’t pulled it off.
[00:40:07] Michael: And so, I tried to convince them that they should hire me for Book Yourself Solid, but they weren’t having it. They were like, “We want something on Thinking Big. That’s what our audience needs.” And it was in Australia. It was 3,500 people. Interestingly enough, they paid you in cash at the event, in cash, if you were not Australian. So, it was a $25,000 fee that was in cash then I had to get back home but I thought, “I’ll give it back later.”
[00:40:31] Brad: Better figure this out, right?
[00:40:33] Michael: But nonetheless, it’s still cash. So, I said, “Okay. Fine. I’ll do it.” And I put about 500 hours of work into that particular speech because I knew I would do it afterward. Later it would become part of my repertoire and if you go to YouTube and you just search for “Think Big Revolution, Michael Port,” you’ll see there’s an excerpt of that probably a 15, 16-minute excerpt and you’ll see that it’s very different, it’s a very different speech than you probably are typically used to seeing. I mean, I had scenes where I was talking to voices coming out of speakers. I was having conversations with people on my phone. There was a big dance number. I had professional dancers. Whatever city I was in, I would have professional dancers in the audience. They would have already memorized the choreography for the dance number and when the dance number would come up, they’d pop up on stage and lead this really cool choreographed dance. So, it was unusual. There was a lot of music in it, video, and it worked. It worked brilliantly the second time because I put that much time into it.
So, the story around this is not a short story that I just gave you, but I wanted to put some emphasis on it because, generally, you don’t do well when you don’t prepare. Generally, you’re more afraid, you have more stage fright when you’re not prepared. When you know what to do and you know that you’ve done the work, you’re generally less scared because you feel more confident. And so, when you are really well-prepared, and you are improvisational, meaning you can change in the moment if need be, that ability to be improvisational plus your preparedness is what produces spontaneity. A lot of people push back on rehearsal. We have a seven-step rehearsal process that we teach that people who are not actors don’t know and would be expected to know because you would not have learned unless you were a professional actor. And so, we teach this process and sometimes, in the beginning, people say, “I don’t like to rehearse because that makes me feel stiff. I really like just to wing it because I’m pretty good off the cuff and I’m pretty quick and I feel better, more on.”
[00:42:40] Michael: And so, I said, “Does it always work?” They said, “No, no, not really,” because, of course, spontaneity works until it doesn’t. Just winging it works until it doesn’t. There will be a time when it won’t work at all. And they know they can be better. But what they say is they’ve tried rehearsal and it doesn’t work. So, I think that they’re probably right because what they say when I asked why it didn’t work is, well, because I felt like I was stiff like I was trying to remember what I was doing in rehearsal and it wasn’t coming to me. So, when I was trying to perform, I just felt off, and that’s exactly right. Because if you do only a little bit of rehearsal, when you’re performing, you’re trying to recall what you did in rehearsal and as a result, you are not in the moment. So, you’re slower and what you are trying to recall doesn’t feel spontaneous but just like professional actors, if you know your material so well that the second you walk on stage, you can just let it all go as if you don’t have anything prepared then allow it to come to you in the moment, that’s when it seems completely spontaneous.
Yet you are completely prepared. You’re saying exactly what you intended to say but to the audience, it sounds like it was the first time that you’ve ever said it. You go watch Hamilton on Broadway. That’s not the first time they’ve said those lines. They’ve said them thousands of times, but it feels like it’s happening right there in the moment. And it seems completely spontaneous. So, if you push back on rehearsal and think it doesn’t work, it’s likely because you only got a little bit of rehearsal. As a result, it does impede your ability to perform. But if the stakes are very high then generally the more rehearsal is required. If the stakes are low, don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal but if the stakes are high for something, if you want to be perceived as one of the best in the world at what you do, well then, generally more rehearsal is required.
[00:44:34] Brad: How was the nervous factor the second time you gave…
[00:44:36] Michael: Actually, the second time I was not nervous. I mean, a little bit nervous. I’m always a little bit nervous. I mean, that really for me never goes away. But when I get into it, the nerves go away. But I was not that nervous before the second time I did it, after I did all that work, because I felt so good about the work. I took it through the whole seven-step rehearsal process and the last two steps of the process are what’s called invited rehearsal and open rehearsal. And I had gone through the invited rehearsal and the open rehearsal steps, so I’ve done it in front of other audiences, so I was prepared to go do it because you don’t do a speech for the first time in front of 3,500 people. If you really think about it, it’s kind of crazy. So, and that’s what most people do like I hope it goes well.
[00:45:21] Brad: Just real quick, while you’re on that, I mean, obviously, public speaking you’re booking auditoriums or different Inc 500 companies are booking them for you, you’re showing up. Here’s what’s crazy in financial services that I’ve seen over the last decade I’ve been doing this. There’s a lot of financial advisors that are spending $10,000, $15,000 for an event and then going up and winging it which is insane to me and then doing it again and again and again. And then wondering why people don’t book appointments.
[00:45:48] Michael: Exactly. It is a very effective strategy to put on events, very, very effective for financial professionals as long as you’re inviting the right audience and you are prepared. You know exactly what you’re going to do when you go in there and you do it. We’ve had so many financial professionals come through our training courses because they’re putting on events and they want to steal the show when they do it. They want to nail it. And the difference that we see when they come in to when they leave is remarkable. Usually, they come in and they sound like a spreadsheet. Like if a spreadsheet had a sound, it would be like what we hear when they first come in but by the end of it, they are performers and I don’t mean necessarily entertainers like they’re not doing a song and a dance but the stories that they tell, engage the audience in ways that they never imagined they could.
They’re able now to take complex financial concepts and distill them down into very simple illustrations using props rather than bullet points on slides. I mean most slide presentations that are put together by financial professionals are not only not helpful, but they are often counter-effective. They actually produce problems. So, you really don’t need slides. In fact, the way that most people put a presentation together is firstly put their slide deck together and then they just use that slide deck as notes. So, they skip the rehearsal process for the most part. Maybe they’ll go through it once in their head or maybe walk through it once in their living room or something but then the slide deck just becomes their outline. And what we do is we work on the material first then we put the material on its feet, then we rehearse it then we improve it, then we rehearse it then we improve it, then we rehearse it and then we improve it, and then we start to look at, “Well, would some visuals help? Would a video be effective here to create an emotional connection or illustrate a point I’m trying to make? Or would one slide be helpful?”
[00:47:55] Michael: In something as simple as quotes on a slide, a lot of times you’ll put quotes on a slide, a quote that they love, a Winston Churchill quote or something, that they’re using in their speech. But why? Why don’t you just memorize the quote and say it? Because it’s a lot more effective if it’s coming from you than if it’s coming from the slide. So, often the slides are just crutches. They’re not really actually effective teaching tools or connecting tools. They’re just a crutch. So, it’s not that I’m anti-slides. If you can do an incredible slide deck like Al Gore years ago did that Inconvenient Truth movie. It was based on a presentation that he was giving for a long time. That slide deck that he did was incredible. I mean, it was one of the best slide decks.
[00:48:40] Brad: You know what I remember from that, Michael?
[00:48:41] Michael: Yeah?
[00:48:42] Brad: Is he used the power of dramatic demonstration because remember, he went over to the side and then get on that lift because the curve went way off.
[00:48:48] Michael: Yes.
[00:48:49] Brad: So, he found a way to make it interesting.
[00:48:51] Michael: That’s a theatrical element that he built in to illustrate a particular point and it was genius. Because the point is that the graph couldn’t even show it to you. But that’s going to cost you $150,000. I know the company that he produced that with. I don’t know exactly how much it cost but it’s incredibly expensive and it took a long, long time. It took 12 months plus to put that thing together and then even longer to work on it. So, most of the financial advisors or not don’t need to put something like that together because they’re not putting together a documentary on climate change. They’re simply trying to book appointments with people so that they can have follow-up conversation because here’s a quote. Winston Churchill once said that, “The future is uncertain and it’s a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”
Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time. And if you think about the presentations that you’re giving, the point of the presentation is simply to book an appointment. So, generally, you need a lot less information in those presentations. You don’t need to pack it with so much information that people’s heads spin. You need to make a connection with them that demonstrates that you might be the person that was meant to serve them simply to get the appointment so that when you are with them in the office, the meeting, that next presentation that you give in the office, that’s a whole another type of theatrical connected interaction between people but it’s the next link in the chain of destiny.
[00:50:38] Brad: Thank you for saying that.
[00:50:40] Michael: You’re welcome.
[00:50:40] Brad: Okay. So, a little bit, a lot to unpack there really. I’ve seen it over. I probably watched the last decade at least 100 financial advisor presentations live and some of them have been very painful. Some of them have been very good but I can say almost without exception the more PowerPoint slides, the worst they typically are. So, I guess, if you are going to take your professional experience and say, okay, here I am a financial advisor listening today and I’ve got this slide deck that is my crutch that I’ve leaned on for a long time, what’s a transitional way to start to wean yourself up a slide deck and go into more of an interactive storytelling type of presentation?
[00:51:21] Michael: All right. I’ll give you the five foundational elements that need to be in place in every presentation. And if you really do master these five elements, you don’t need any slides. You can do it in a short period of time and be very effective. Now before I do, I just want to say two things. Number one, everybody’s doing their best even when we don’t think they are. So, if we see a presentation that’s really not working and there are too many slides and they’re a mess and they’re doing their best. So, I give them credit. I give them props for going out there and trying it because if I look back on some of the things I did 15 years ago, oh my God, terrible.
[00:52:00] Brad: Same here, man.
[00:52:01] Michael: Yeah. So, we’re always doing our best and we’re getting better over time if we are pursuing mastery and through our experience, we learn what works and what needs improvement. So, I’m not being critical when I say that slides may not always work, etcetera. What I’m suggesting is that we’re doing our best but there may be some things that we don’t know that we need to know and maybe time, start looking into knowing the things we need to know about presenting in order to do a better job at it, not just assume because we talk all day long, because we have expertise in the subject matter means that we’re going to be able to effectively move an audience as a result. Without training is very, very difficult. And secondly, one of the things I really appreciate about Advisors Excel is how much focus they put on training their members in presentations. They do a lot of work around it. And so that was…
[00:52:59] Brad: We brought you in which I want to get to but to see you work live, and I think you only had an hour or two, and it was kind of a before and after where an advisor would pop up on stage kind of give their little five minutes out of their presentation, you immediately worked with them and then they went back on stage and it was night and day difference.
[00:53:17] Michael: Well, that’s the thing that one of the things that I do often when I go work with a group is we’ll do what we call master class, so they’ll do a few minutes of presentation. I’ll coach them in front of the audience and they’ll see a total transformation in a matter of minutes. It’s what a director does with an actor on Broadway. It’s what I was trained to do so it’s not magic. It’s craft. And you can read about performing. You can listen to what we’re talking about. You can watch good performances but until you learn the craft of performance, transformation is difficult. And that’s what we’re doing when we’re actually putting people on stage and working with them directly, that’s when we see a lot of transformation.
So, the foundational five. Every speech has a big idea. Now, the big idea doesn’t need to be different to make a difference. It just needs to be true for you and the people you serve. I don’t want anyone to get hung up on this idea of a big idea. If you want to get accepted onto the TED stage, you probably are going to need a big idea that is worth spreading. That’s not necessarily what you need if you’re putting together presentations in order to book business or book appointments that will turn into business. A big idea is just something that is true and motivating for the people that you serve. So, for example, let’s take Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech, one of the greatest speeches of all time. What was his big idea in that speech? What do you think it was?
[00:54:42] Brad: Well, he had a dream and it dealt around equality, right?
[00:54:46] Michael: Equality, exactly. So, his big idea was that all men and women are created equal. Was that a new idea? No. That’s in the Constitution. But it wasn’t realized. It wasn’t the way the world actually was. So, that is what made it a big idea. So, it wasn’t a new idea. It wasn’t a different idea. It was simply a big idea because it was very confronting to a lot of people. No problem. He said, “I’m going to go out with this big idea.” Secondly, you need a promise. Every great speech has a promise. What was Martin Luther King’s promise? That we can get to the promised land. And what did he spend the whole speech doing? He spent the whole speech showing you what the promised land looks like. He would show you here’s the way the world is, here’s the way it can be. Here’s the way the world is, here’s the way it can be. Here’s the way it is, here’s the way it can be. And as a result, he kept bringing in the third element which is demonstrating that you know what the world looks like to the people that you serve. You know what the world looks like to the people that you serve. The first element is a big idea. Second element is a promise. Third element is the way the world looks.
Because, look, if the people you want to serve don’t believe or don’t think that you understand the way the world looks to them then they’ll distance themselves from you because what you’re asking them to do may be confronting even if you don’t think it is, even if you’re not trying to be but finance is very confronting to many people. It was confronting to me for years. I was, “Oh, I’m not a math guy. I don’t really get that.” I feel stupid when I talk to financial advisors because they use terms I don’t understand and then I feel like they’re not going to think I’m an idiot if I asked and all this stupid stuff goes through your mind. And so, a lot of it can be confronting to folks. But if you can demonstrate that you know the way the world looks to them then they may be more open to you. So, the fourth element is being able to demonstrate the consequences of not adopting the big idea and going after the promise because a lot of times people aren’t moved by what’s possible which is the fifth element.
[00:56:48] Michael: The fifth element is the rewards, the rewards of adopting a big idea and achieving the promise. But the rewards may seem far off. So, we also need the consequences. What’s going to happen if you do not adopt this big idea and achieve this promise? Look, I was saying to this to my wife actually just the other day, there are two kinds of people in the world. I think there are the kind of people who protect their families in case something happens to them so that their family has nothing to worry about and knew exactly what to do and if, God forbid, something happens to their loved one and they’re also going to be taken care of. And then there are people who don’t do that. Two kinds of people in the world. And I don’t understand the kind of people who leave a complete mess for the people that they love when they die. I don’t get it. But a lot of it is because it’s fear. They don’t know what to do. They don’t think they could do anything productive or helpful. And ironically, as we see people with enormous amounts of wealth who don’t take care of their estates in such a way that when they die everything is easy for the people around them.
So, two kinds of people, the ones that take care, the ones they serve which is their loved ones and then the ones who don’t. A lot of times, financial advisors this is – it might seem like an aside, but I think it will be relevant. Lots of times financial advisors they leave out the important benefit of what you feel like if you’re the kind of person that knows you’ve taken care of everything. I feel pretty darn good about myself because of the way that I’ve prepared my estate if, God forbid, something should happen to me. I feel proud of myself that even things like a little death book which to a lot of people is scary, but they know where all the passwords are. They know where the accounts are. They know everything there is to know. And there are other people that have put in place to help if something should happen. So, I feel proud. I feel like a good person because of that.
[00:58:48] Michael: I feel special and I think that a lot of times financial advisors don’t focus on that enough on how good it makes you feel when you do that for others. They focus on what a benefit it is to the other people, but you also feel pretty good for doing it.
[00:59:01] Brad: That’s a great point. As you were sharing that story, I was going back. I have a very vivid memory still to this day. My second son was born pretty close together, about 16 months apart and I remember being on an airplane flying to one of our events and just a little bit of turbulence hits and you kind of always have that second thought of what happens, and I just remember thinking, “I cannot leave my wife in this spot,” because I hadn’t gone out and taken out additional life insurance. And first thing I did, as soon as we hit the ground, went out, took out way more life insurance than I should have but just that peace of mind you now carry around with you just in case, I think that…
[00:59:39] Michael: Personally, I don’t think you can ever be over-insured. If there’s anything that you can overdo, I think insurance is fine.
[00:59:45] Brad: Yeah. You leave your loved ones in a better spot than you should have. I don’t think there is any such thing.
[00:59:50] Michael: Yeah. Nobody’s going to complain about that.
[00:59:52] Brad: They’ll throw you that much better of a funeral.
[00:59:55] Michael: Exactly.
[00:59:56] Brad: Well, cool, Michael. So, one other thing I want to hit on just because I’ve seen you do this live and I think you can get some good insight here. So, if you go back to the event at Salt Lake City where we’ve brought you in and you did some kind of this live, it was almost improv coaching is the best way that I can really describe it, what are like the biggest takeaways? I know you said financial advisors can sound like spreadsheets. I agree and working more the persona but, I guess, one other thing that I’ve seen you do a lot of coaching on that I think a lot of financial advisors when they’re up at the front presenting just completely don’t even take into account is body language and movement on the stage and you do an incredible job of coaching around that. So, are there some quick tips you can give here towards the end of the conversation on some things to think about if I’m a financial advisor on stage in that regard?
[01:00:40] Michael: Sure. Yeah. Movement on stage should be very intentional. Most people move simply because they don’t know what to do with themselves on stage and they’ve got a lot of energy or nerves and so they want to let it out. So, they pace back and forth and look down. And anytime you look down at the ground, you are disconnected from your audience. So, you want to stay with them all the time. Unless, of course, there is some special reason that you look down, it’s an intentional choice, and then you look back up but one of the stages of rehearsal is called blocking. Blocking and staging. And blocking and staging is making choices with respect to where you are on stage at any given moment while you’re there and when you’re going to be there. So, if you’re going to move on stage, you need to know those three things: when are you going to move, where you’re going to move, and why are you moving. Because movement should be motivated by something. There should be some intention behind the movement.
If you shuffle your feet around, it takes your power away. If you move while you’re delivering the most impactful message in the speech, it’s going to reduce the power of that message. But can you walk and talk at the same time? Of course, you can because you can do that in real life and you can use words and you can use movement to help with transitions from one piece of content into another piece of content or one idea into another idea but it’s transitional in nature or rather than the message or the point. When you get there, you stand, and you land the important point that you’re trying to deliver at that time. And blocking is something that people learn. They can do on their own once they’ve done it with us. It’s something that I think you need to experience so that you can start to do on your own. But I think you can certainly at least not move unless you have a reason to move. Otherwise, I’m not saying you do this. I’m not saying you freeze. Don’t misunderstand.
[01:02:39] Michael: And then, of course, you want to be on the balls of your feet, not back on your heels. You want to be on the balls of your feet, so your energy is moving forward. What you’re saying is driving forward. And there’s musicality in your language and there are operative words in your language meaning there are certain words that are more important than other words and you’re driving towards those words and emphasizing those words, making them pop. And that again is part of the rehearsal process and then you start to develop the habit of even when you’re just having a conversation, you’re more intentional about the way you use language.
[01:03:07] Brad: Awesome. Okay. So, as we wrap the conversation here, this has been incredible as I knew it would be so thank you, Michael. Good with two or three philosophical questions to wrap it up?
[01:03:16] Michael: Sure. Happy to.
[01:03:17] Brad: Okay. Awesome. So, one thing that I’ve never asked before in this section, but I wanted to ask you because when I look back and just kind of observe Michael Port, I see a student in the game, I see somebody that practice his craft when you’re an actor and now you transitioned kind of that lifelong learning to being a public speaker and teaching others how to better speak and present themselves. So, I’m curious, when it comes to you and maybe mentors in your life or people early on that you looked up to or learned a lot from, is there anybody that sticks out that helped you get where you are today?
[01:03:48] Michael: Oh yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t be here without hundreds of people who have put me here. I don’t think this was done alone. That’s for sure. There’s a couple of people that stand out that may be relevant as it relates to your particular question. Now, one of them was a guy named Jeremy Peele who I haven’t spoken to him in years, but I knew him when I was in my early 20s. This is about 21 years old and he was about 10 years older than me, maybe 11, 12 years older and he was pretty much retired, so he was 31, 32 years old and retired. And he had run a hedge fund in Bermuda and he made a lot of money and I asked him one day I was like, “Why you? I mean, you’re really smart. I get that but there’s a lot of smart people who haven’t been successful as you as quickly.” And there’s a long pause and he said, “Well, I figured there’s a lot of money out there. Somebody’s going to pick it up. Why not me?” I was like, “Okay.”
And it was one of those moments of like, “Of course.” But a lot of times we don’t pick it up because of all sorts of bent psychology and programming from our past that says we don’t deserve it or who knows what. There are so many different things it could be, but he just was so clear and clean on his intentions and he wasn’t trying to compete with anyone else. He wasn’t saying he deserved it. He wasn’t saying, “I’m going to beat everybody. I’m going to be number one.” He just said, “It’s there. Somebody’s going to pick it up. Why don’t I pick it up?” I thought, “Okay. That’s reasonable.” So, I try to keep that in mind and not come up with ways of getting in my way.
Number two, there’s a fellow named Hal Macomber who just had a book come out actually who is about 20 years senior to me and he is an expert in lean project management. Now, he’s not somebody that most folks would know but he’s really well known in the project management world. And he taught me a lot about waste.
[01:05:50] Michael: Because one of the things that you do in lean manufacturing and project management is trying to reduce waste because often friction is the thing that slows us down and waste produces friction. Sometimes waste produces so much friction, you can’t move at all. And so, he taught me a lot about how to reduce waste in the work that I do, in the language that I use, and then the way that I interacted with other people. One simple example that you might not think is related to lean project management or manufacturing is simply asking the question when you have a question and answering the question when it’s asked. Sounds kind of simple but it stuck with me because every once in a while, he would say, he had asked me a question and I’ve given him the answer and he go, “That’s an answer to a different question.” I’m like, “Okay. You’re right. I think I’m trying to avoid the answer to the question.” Now, sometimes when we do interviews, you do answer a different question because you don’t want to answer the question that you are asked. Now, not that was the case here but not every solution is for every scenario but in that particular dynamic I thought, “That’s really worth considering and we try to do that here with our team.” Just try to keep things simple and reduce waste as much as possible.
[01:07:06] Brad: Awesome. Thanks for sharing that. When you think of success, who’s the first person you think of and why?
[01:07:11] Michael: Well, the first person that just came to my head right now was actually my dad, but my dad is a psychiatrist so he’s not a rich man from a financial perspective, but my father has the most integrity of anybody that I’ve ever met. He wouldn’t jaywalk if there was a sign that said, “No jaywalking.” And truth means so much to him that he abides by it at all times. My father won’t even take samples from a drug rep and distribute them to his patients because he says that could potentially suggest a conflict of interest. So, you go to the doctor’s office. There are pads with pharmaceutical company names on them and things like that. You’ll never find any of that in his office and he doesn’t judge anybody else for doing it, but he does judge some people for doing it if they actually do have real conflict of interest I think like he fights strongly for his beliefs, but for the most part, he doesn’t get involved in other people’s business. He just knows what’s right for him and he abides by a certain code. So, to me, that’s success.
If you have a code that you live by and you believe in that code and you could abide by it even when times are tough, even when there are forces pushing on you that would make it easy to neglect your code, well, to me that’s success. And I don’t think success should be just measured in financial terms. I think that would be a shame, but he’s lived a life of high integrity so to me that’s success.
[01:08:39] Brad: That’s awesome to hear. Being a dad that has a seven-year-old, six-year-old, and two-year-old, so a lot of what I try to do is model the behaviors I want as supposed to just talk about them, so it sounds like your dad did exactly that for you.
[01:08:50] Michael: He did, yeah. Sure did.
[01:08:52] Brad: All right. Two more questions.
[01:08:54] Michael: Okay.
[01:08:54] Brad: Michael, when you think of something that – let’s put it this way. Is there something that you would like to be considered absurd 25 years from now?
[01:09:04] Michael: Yeah. Divisiveness. I would love the concept of political divisiveness to be absurd so much so that people would laugh if it was even suggested that there could be political divisiveness. Not that I’m suggesting I want everybody to think the same or be the same, but that people can see the world differently and still love each other. That would be pretty cool. So, that’s something that I would love to see considered absurd.
[01:09:32] Brad: That would be cool. Facebook would be a much more pleasant place.
[01:09:36] Michael: Yes, it would.
[01:09:38] Brad: All right. Last question. This has been a lot of fun so thanks. What is the one piece of advice that you can share with the audience? Obviously, you know it’s a bunch of financial advisors so feel free to craft however you like but the one piece of advice you could share with the audience that’s led to your success today?
[01:09:52] Michael: I think making commitments and fulfilling them because I think your reputation is based on your ability to make commitments and fulfill them. If you say you’re going to do something and you do it, you are in trust. Say you’re going to do something again and you do it, you’re in more trust. Say you’re going to do something and you do it again, you’re in more trust. And I love, love working with people that do that and with a sense of urgency, so I have a sense of urgency around the things that I want to do. And so, I make commitments and then I fulfill those commitments and as a result, most of the things I set out to do worked pretty well because of that urgency. I don’t waste a lot of time and I fulfill my commitments. And I think that’s really led to a lot of what we’re able to do here. And you know, we have a reputation that I’m proud of and we have a culture that people talk about every single time they’re involved in anything that we do, and I think that commitment making and fulfilling influences positively the culture we’ve created.
[01:10:52] Brad: Well, Michael, thank you. I can speak first hand because I’ve seen on multiple occasions the caliber of work you and your wife, Amy, do by having you out to our events and being to a couple of events that you’ve been a part of. So, I just want to say thanks for sharing at least a small piece of your expertise here with the audience today. I’m super grateful for you. Thank you.
[01:11:10] Michael: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you so much.
[01:11:12] Brad: Happy holidays to you and Amy and I will let you run. I’m sure it’s onto a – this might be your last work…
[01:11:18] Michael: Getting close. Pretty close. Almost there. Thank you so much for having me and giving me the opportunity to be in service. I appreciate it.
[01:11:25] Brad: Thanks, Michael. Take care.
[01:11:26] Michael: Bye.
[01:11:30] Brad: Thanks for checking out the latest show. You all continue to absolutely overwhelm me with your kind words and positive reviews. I just appreciate it so much as this helps the show rank and other advisors out there find us. Here are four more recent reviews, the first one comes to us from user frankzagent1 who says, “Fantastic!!! The Elite Advisor Blueprint is absolutely the BEST podcast for Advisors. From the content to the quality of the guests from which it comes, this is time well spent! If you want to be a better Advisor and have access to current trends and info, this is the place to be! – Frank.” Frank, thanks for taking the time to review the show. It means a lot and I will continue to try to keep this the best show out there for advisors to stay on the cutting edge of our ever-changing industry. If you have some ideas on other guests to stay on the leading edge, hit me up that on Twitter. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Okay. The next review comes to us from user Biz World who says, “Well versed and definitely worth the listen. I have been in the financial advisory role for over 20 years and with every podcast, I gain some fantastic insight that has helped me to elevate my practice. Brad has such an easy caring way about him that you can’t help but trust him and also has awesome guests. Brad’s podcast is the first podcast I listen to out of the 16 that I subscribe to. Great work and thank you, Mike.” Mike, there’s nothing better than hearing the show as valuable to an industry veteran like yourself. So, thanks for sharing your thoughts on me being someone you can trust. I really strive to keep it real on the show and be as transparent as possible. Also, I have to give some of the credit to my small-town Kansas roots as my parents always made sure I try to treat others as I’d want to be treated so hopefully that shows through in every interview that I do. Thanks for listening and I’m going to do everything possible to keep this at the top of your podcast list.
Next up is chrishardyatl who says, “Great for new ideas and inspiration. I always get something from each episode. When looking for a new take on an issue or something to share with clients, The Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast is a sure thing!”
[01:13:27] Brad: Chris, appreciate you not only sharing your thoughts on the show but love that you included your Twitter handle in the review as well. Thank you. I’ve been asking, and I think you’re one of the first guys to do it. So, I already connected with you out on Twitter, gave you a little shout out, posted your review so I appreciate that. Looks like you’re doing big things out there in Atlanta as well. So, keep it up and I will try to keep bringing more to the show to allow you to better serve your clients. Thanks for listening.
And the last featured review for the week comes to us from user R_Led_22 who says, “Awesome insights. Love this podcast. I listen to several podcasts as a financial advisor…always wanting to learn more. I listen to this podcast as I workout in the morning and it makes my workout fly by. Great guests that provide value every time. Thank you, Brad, and keep them coming.” R_Led_22, thanks for the shout out, love to hear that I’m part of the morning workout routine, keep after it. Knowing this, you may have to mix up my music, get something a little harder that can keep you getting through those workouts, maybe some Rage Against the Machine. I know that’s one of my go-tos in the morning
Okay. So, that is it for this week’s reviews. Before you go though, as a special thank you for listening in, if you haven’t already, make sure to check out the show notes at BradleyJohnson.com/40 for Michael’s free gift, 50 Tips You Can’t Afford to Ignore. If you want to wow your audience, bite-size, very actionable. If you speak in front of people, I promise it will help you out. And one last thing, for those of you who haven’t left a review for the show yet, I’ve grabbed some copies of Michael’s book, Steal the Show. Simply leave an honest review for our show out on iTunes and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your iTunes username and best mailing address and I will drop you a copy in the mail as a thank you.
That’s it. Thanks for listening in and we’ll see you on next week’s show.
[01:15:10] Brad: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint. For access to show notes, transcripts and exclusive content from our show’s guests, visit BradleyJohnson.com. And before you go, I’ve got a quick favor to ask. If you’re liking the podcast, you can help support the show by leaving your rating and review on iTunes. Not only do we read every single comment, but this will help the show rank and get discovered by new listeners. It really does help. Thanks again for joining and be sure to tune in next week for another episode.
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