Ryan Foland speaks with David Wood, speaker, coach, and communications ninja.
In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and David talk about having a counterphobic approach to life, not playing safe, and going for it even if it’s a longshot.
One of the key messages in this interview is that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Tune in for an interview full of ideas and tips on pushing yourself to do what you feel you should do, even when it’s difficult for you.
Listen to the interview on iTunes or Soundcloud.
David Wood: Hey this is David Wood.
I just had a great conversation with Ryan Foland on the World of Speakers podcast.
We talked about being yourself, we talked about the mouse in the room and what to do about it, and we talked about amazing success as a speaker.
I’ll see you there.
Welcome to the World of Speakers podcast, brought to you by SpeakerHub.
In each episode, we interview a professional speaker and reveal their very best tips and tricks.
You’ll learn to improve your presentation skills, keep your audience engaged, and grow your business to get more gigs and make more money.
Here is your host, Ryan Foland.
Ryan Foland: Ahoy everyone.
My name is Ryan Foland and this is another World of Speakers podcast.
It’s an opportunity for you to meet other speakers who speak around the world, who have worldly perspectives, and are going to help you understand more information on the art of speaking, as well as the business of speaking.
Now, we’re lucky today because we have David Wood with us.
He’s a speaker, he’s a coach and he’s a communications ninja.
I associate and relate to that because I’m a black belt and I kind of consider myself a black belt of branding.
Now, I also noticed that you seem, David, like you are on the side of being a ginger.
Do you associate with being a ginger, the red hair?
David Wood: I’m not on the side of it at all.
I’m smack dab in the middle of being a ginger.
Yeah, I have been a redhead all my life.
Ryan Foland: Well, it’s great to talk with another ginger.
I got made fun of for my freckles from the beginning part of my life and I’ve reclaimed it as part of my core brand identity.
I think we can all be a bit more ginger.
David Wood: Yeah man.
Have you listened to the song by Tim Minchin, “Only a Ginger can call another Ginger Ginger?”
Ryan Foland: Yes, fantastic.
For all of you who are gingers, you can find pride in that and for all of you who still like to laugh and make fun of us, you’ll enjoy this as well.
So let’s kick this off and get to know you a little bit more. It starts with a story from your past.
David Wood: Yeah, and I’m going to change it up from what I was planning to tell you.
In school, when I’d be bullied, when a guy kind of pushed me around I almost never stood up to that bully.
It was weird because I was actually a senior belt in my karate class, so I had some skills but I never wanted to fight, I always tried to avoid a fight.
Then later in life, I realized I always regretted that.
I regret that, just once I wish I’d punch the bully on the nose and taken a beating.
And I didn’t do it.
Also I didn’t ask out the girls that I was attracted to, I was scared and I didn’t want to hear a no, I didn’t know how to speak to girls.
I think later in life I hated that feeling of regret so much that if I’m afraid of something I will lean into it.
My psychiatrist called me, he said. “You’re almost counterphobic.”
I hadn’t heard that word, but as soon as he said it, I’m like,
“Yeah, I’m afraid of heights so I go and paraglide. I’m afraid of abandonment so I would try open relationships and see what that was like. I’m afraid of being in front of a group of people so I became a professional speaker.”
I think that’s influenced my life a lot and it’s something I can bring to my clients to help them find their edge, and not go way beyond their edge because that creates trauma, but find their edge and ride their edge so that at the end of each day, month and year they can feel really proud like they gave it everything.
Ryan Foland: Find and ride the edge.
It makes me think of almost hanging 10 on a longboard, just getting a ride out there to where it’s you’re really it’s not where you’re supposed to go, but it’s that much more exciting and when you can have control on the edge, you really have a tiger by the tail.
David Wood: That’s a really good analogy.
Because if you don’t catch that wave at all, if you’re just playing safe all the time, you’re going to have a very boring day.
And if you go too far, then you might get dumped, but just finding that sweet spot for you — most people I think are earing on the side of conservatism.
Ryan Foland: Yeah.
David Wood: We don’t want to feel awkward, we don’t want to feel rejection, we don’t want to have that sense of,
“I went for everything and I didn’t make it.”
What does that mean about me?
So most of us are playing too safe and I’m here to say,
“Where is your edge?”
Is it asking a celebrity to endorse your product?
Is it pitching yourself for that TedTalk?
Is it calling 10 people and saying, “I think you should hire me as a speaker.”
Whatever it is, where is that edge for you?
Ryan Foland: Interesting.
So there’s a concept that I share with people about success, and it can be a fill-in-the-blank.
This is an interesting application here and I want to see what you think about it.
So if somebody says the topics around becoming a successful speaker then I’ll say successful speakers, if it’s about a writer or something else, it’s successful _____ (blank), okay?
So I’m just going to say people, just to put it out there.
Successful people are not doing what everyone else cannot do, successful people are doing what everyone can do but not everyone does.
David Wood: That’s really good.
Ryan Foland: So this idea, like everyone can ask to have a celebrity pitch their, wrap their product, there’s nothing physically stopping you from finding the email and sending it.
But we seem to think that like somebody who has success, they’re doing stuff that we can’t do, or that we don’t have access to.
But it’s like you have access to waking up early, you have access to writing a page in your book before anybody else gets up.
This idea is like, I think we look for hacks and apps to like a shortcut, but it’s like get your dress in the water and paddle, and get crushed until you get up.
David Wood: Yeah, that’s so true.
We have this idea that it’s something really fancy, I’m going to get some new ninja technique that nobody knows about.”
I just interviewed a new billionaire recently and he said,
“You’ve either got to work harder, smarter, or longer than everybody else. And if one of those isn’t working you may have to do all 3.”
And I like that.
Jack Canfield came to my event once and that was a good example actually of something that anyone could do.
I stalked him for 5 years and really, really worked up building our relationship and he was kind enough to come and speak at my event and write the foreword to my book.
Anyone else could have asked him, but most people call in Jack’s office saying,
“Look, can I pitch you on showing up to an event?
I will orient the date of the event around your travel itinerary, when you’re going to be in town that’s the event.”
Anyone else could do that.
And when he came and spoke, he said, “It’s really the law of large numbers.”
You just ask more people than anyone else is asking and eventually, you have to get a yes.
And Byron Katie says, “You can have anything you want in life if you’re willing to ask 1000 people.”
Ryan Foland: That’s profound because most people stop 3 feet before the gold, right?
David Wood: They do, yeah. I’m going to mix metaphors, I have lots of metaphors coming into my head.
We’re digging for gold, right.
And often we dig 100 holes 3 feet deep, looking for gold, and sometimes it’s like you’ve got to like drill down.
For example, a couple of years ago, 3 years ago, I was like, “Alright, what am I going to do for marketing? I’ll do speaking.”
So I started going down that path.
And then someone said, “Well, if you do podcast appearances you can do that from home, and podcasting is still blowing up.”
And I thought, “All right.”
So I shifted, and now I’ve done 200+ podcast appearances.
I’ve gone deep into this.
And anyone could do that.
Okay, if you didn’t come up with the techniques and the strategies that I came up with, it might take you longer to get 200 appearances, but you could do that.
Most people stop short, and I’m not saying you should do this for everything, don’t play full out on everything, like maybe you’re interested in ultimate frisbee and you’re interested in yoga, you can’t commit to absolutely everything, but if it matters to you, if the speaking career matters to you, if getting clients through speaking matters to you, if more money would really make a difference to your life, then come up with a plan and do more than most people are doing.
I love the whole topic of playing full out in something and I like asking myself, “What does that look like?”
A recent example was I decided to get into acting.
Every 10 years I’ll kind of make this decision, I want to dabble in it and I’ll see if I can get in a student film or something, but I just, I started telling people.
And then it started snowballing.
I’m like, “What can I do? I can move to Los Angeles next year, and I could do a year or 2 fully submerging myself.”
So I started telling people about that.
Then I found a podcast, I started listening to that.
Then I found a Zoom call every 2 weeks I can get on there and ask this guy questions about an acting career.
Then someone heard me talking and said,
“Do you want to come to an audition with me? There’s a play local production of Dracula and I’m going to audition.”
And I said, “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing but I’ll come and read lines.”
And then I thought, “Well how do I put my best foot forward, like what does playing full outlook like, if I want to get this role?”
And so, I had friends come over to the house and read with me, I bought the script which only one other person did, most people just went with the excerpts they give you, no, I bought the script, I memorized all of the scenes they wanted us to read for, not just my part, but 4 different parts because I wanted to read for 4 parts and give myself the best chance.
And then I hired an acting coach for an hour over Zoom, just to give me some feedback.
Oh, and I learned a German accent because the vampire slayer was Van Helsing and I’m like, “All right, I need to do a German accent.”
So I went there, read for the part, they offered me the lead.
So now I’m Dracula.
So there is an example, now maybe you don’t want to get into acting, but whatever it is that you care about, keep looking,
“What can I do, what does playing full out look like?”
And you’ll probably have a lot more success, but even if you don’t, you feel pretty damn good about it.
That’s my prediction.
Because you’ll be like, “Man, I just really went for it, I gave it a full year/ 3 years. Hey, it didn’t work, all right, but it’s not because of anything I didn’t do.”
Ryan Foland: That’s great.
I went to college undeclared and I ended up with 2 majors, one business economic which was predictable, and then one in dramatic arts.
I got classically trained as an actor, but had never been to the theater, had never wanted to. It was just sort of an opportunistic where I went for extra credit, read for lines, got a part and it just trickled.
So at the same time as you are going full-on to chase after things that you are after, I think the opposite is also true to be open to experiences and showing up when maybe you wouldn’t necessarily think to do that.
I think it is empowering and I think it’s the kind of advice people don’t want to hear because they do not want it to be that easy.
David Wood: Right.
I just realized something, I think there is a part of my brain — you know how much of a long shot something seems, there’s a part of my brain that says,
“You never know, I got to roll the dice and see. The universe will then decide.”
There’s a scene “Dumb and Dumber” with Jim Carey and he says, “What are the chances of someone like you and me getting together?”
And she says, “About one in a million.”
Ryan Foland: “So you’re saying there’s a chance?”
David Wood: Exactly.
So that’s how I think.
I wanted to connect with Alan Alda and so after 2 years of thinking about it and talking about it, this is a guy from Mash, and I finally went online and did some research and found out that he has a Patreon group and I’m like, “All right.”
I had reached out and said, “Hey, I’m putting my hand up to be in your podcast,” I knew my chances were almost nothing, has massive celebrities on his podcast, but I asked.
And then I found out about his Patreon group so I joined that, $45 a month, I get to be on a Zoom call with him once a month.
And I’m often the guy with his hand up first, so yes, I’ve got questions, and I did pitch him about being on my podcast and that’s still up in the air.
Now, again, long shot, asking Richard Branson to write the foreword to my book, that took everything I could come up with just to get the proposal in front of him.
So there’s a part of my brain that says, “Maybe there’s a chance.”
I’m auditioning for stuff around the country now, from this website, you go online and you check out the stuff and you go on an audition.
My chances aren’t very good at most of this stuff because I’m just starting, I don’t have much of a showreel.
Ryan Foland: But your chances would not be good even if you were a classic, professionally trained actor.
David Wood: Right, it’s a long shot.
But if I let’s suppose I pitch myself to 10 things a week, you never know if something like Dracula, they’re like, “Wait, you’ve got something here, you’ve got the look,” and maybe they didn’t find anyone else they really liked, I don’t know what it was, but boom, there it happened.
Then I went on an audition for an improv troupe, playback theater where an audience member tells a story then the troop says,
“Okay, let’s watch.”
And they reinterpret that story.
That scares the hell out of me, they said, “Yeah, we’d love to have you, join the troupe.”
I’m like, “What, my first 2 auditions I get a yes?”
Now, you’re not always going to get that, right?
I don’t want people to think, “Oh, if I start going for it, I’m going to get instant success.”
No, that’s not the point.
The point is you put your hat in the ring and you put your hat in the ring again, and you put the hat —
When I tried to get on “Entrepreneurs on Fire”, I think I got a response, I probably only done 10 interviews I was good, I knew that I’m a good speaker but they ignored me, of course, the first 2 or 3 times I pitched, but did I give up — no, I went and asked all my friends,
“Does anyone know this guy, who’s been on his show already, would you make an intro?”
And I had 2 separate friends make an intro, and after the second one, he wrote back and said, “Yes, let’s get you on the show,” and now he’s a friend.
Ryan Foland: Wow, and for those of you who don’t know, “Entrepreneurs on Fire”, this is with John Lee Dumas and he is a real front-runner in the podcast space and his podcast is very much on fire.
Funny story and this is where I think hearing this we can reflect on opportunities that we’ve missed, not as like, “Damn,” but as like “Damn!”
I was introduced to John well before he got blown up by somebody who was on his podcast and I literally was like, “Oh, I need to jump on this,” and it just went to the bottom of the To-Do list.
I forgot about I swear for like a year or 2, and by the time I went back to that link I’m like,
“Oh crap he was charging like $5000 or $6000 to get past that gate,” and then I decided, “Well maybe I’ll go back around,” and I just sort of gave up on that effort.
So again, I just stopped digging.
Another example and this will sort of transition into we’re here talking about speaking.
One of the things that a lot of speakers want to do early on I believe is getting their TEDx Talk.
It’s that check in the box, it’s the validation, it’s a chance to share your one idea on a legitimate stage that has the brand clout to it.
I wanted that.
And I applied, and I got rejected.
And on the 13th time, I got my first TEDx.
David Wood: I love that.
Ryan Foland: 13 times!
So a lot of people were like, “Wow how did you get to TEDx,” and actually fast forward, I’ve given 4 TEDx Talks now.
Because once I broke that first crack I was like, “If I can get 1, I can get 2. If I can get 2 — “
And then I got asked to do 3 and 4.
So the reason I’m sharing this with everybody is that I don’t know anybody else who has applied 13 times, but like here I am and if I would have stopped at 12, 11,10, 9, 8, 7, 6, I wouldn’t have 4 of them that I’ve done.
So yes, go to the edge 1 more application, who’s to judge you besides anybody but you. I think getting to know you based on your story, the one question I have before we transition into your advice for us on the speaking side of things — was there an inciting incident where the regret turned to action?
Getting bullied and wanted to really connect to somebody and participate in the beat down whether you got beat up or not, not asking the girls, like at a certain point what was that inciting incident were you really changed and how did that happen?
David Wood: I think there was.
I went and did a personal development course.
I was unhappy in my marriage and someone said,
“Why don’t you go and do this course called the Landmark Forum?”
And they all wore name tags and they smiled way too much, but I decided I hadn’t done any personal growth in my life and maybe I should just get in and get out, I’m not going to get hooked on this stuff, I’ll be a mindless sheep.
I didn’t really trust them.
But they cracked my heart open.
I ended up doing several courses with them and every course they wanted me to make lists of people where I felt incomplete, maybe I felt resentful, or angry, or upset, or guilty about something they did, I had to make these lists and then call these people and that was terrifying!
Initially, I was like, “No, I’m not going to call that guy from high school who bullied me and who I’ve hated for years.”
But then I got coaching on what might be possible for myself and in my relationship with him, which I didn’t think I had any more, but I did in my head. I did a lot of these calls and I had to lean into my fears.
I called the girl who dumped me twice in school and gave me the cold shoulder each time.
I called the boss who I’d sued to check if there was any bad blood.
I did all these calls and they were,
“Oh, I called the guy who’d pushed me around, he didn’t punch me in the face but really humiliated me in front of people.”
Ryan Foland: That’s almost worse, yeah.
David Wood: Yeah, and his sister said,
“I wouldn’t have high hopes. I’ll give you his number, but I wouldn’t expect anything, he doesn’t say much.”
All of these calls were extraordinary.
And so it showed me that even though my mind is saying,
“No, that person is a jerk, no, don’t go and do that, no, it’s just going to be crazy awkward.”
Yeah, it was scary and it was awkward in the beginning but then we had beautiful conversations, and now I’d be happy to meet any of those people on the street.
My subconscious doesn’t have to hold onto it.
So I’d say that course was a real turning point for me in leaning into things that I’m afraid of around people and who knows, maybe it also helped with the paragliding and some of the other things that I’ve done that I’ve been scared of.
Ryan Foland: You literally just, you’re pushing things to the edge, you’re getting your toes on the edge of the board and you’re living life how you should.
David Wood: Yep. Thank you.
Ryan Foland: Now I feel like I know you now, aside from just having the ginger connection, now I really understand how your brain works.
And I want to parlay that to how people can get to the edge of their speaking.
Forget the business side of things, but what’s holding people back from their speaking?
I want to know your thoughts.
I mean, what would you tell me?
Let’s have a course!
David Wood: I might blend it to it.
Some of it is going to be about your actual speaking and then some of it is going to be about the business success.
I got 3 things here that I’ve written down.
Ryan Foland: Okay, well hold on, I’ve got to check with the show manager if we can change things up.
“Hey, is that cool?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.”
We just changed up the whole show format we’ll just run it as a hybrid, how’s that?
David Wood: Alright, good.
Ryan Foland: All right, so tell us what you think, we got 3 things, my favorite number.
David Wood: All right, we’ll work down 3 things.
So the first thing I want to talk about is the ladder of leverage.
And this is the term I came up with 3 minutes ago.
Ryan Foland: Sweet.
David Wood: The ladder of leverage.
So when you’re starting, no one knows you and you’re probably not very good.
So maybe don’t go on pitched head to start with.
But what happens is as you keep taking massive action, you’ll get something and hopefully, they’ll be willing to fill in the middle and then you got a little bit of video, right?
That’s a step on the ladder of leverage.
Now, as I kept doing my coaching and pushing my coaching and my speaking, I get some free gigs.
I got to do rotary and the Lions club, I do these things for free and again, try and get some footage and I’d leverage.
And then someone, I found out a friend of mine was lecturing at Columbia University and it was on coaching and I said,
“Would you like me to come and talk about the business of coaching?”
And she said, “Yes.”
Now I’m a guest lecturer at Columbia University.
Do you think that doesn’t go on my resume and I’m not telling everybody about that?
Ryan Foland: That’s one of those reinforced ladder rungs, it’s a wider rung that holds up on its own.
David Wood: Yeah, it was a big spike.
Then I used that to leverage and then I get something else.
So I suppose someone when I was doing this podcasting and someone says, “Oh, I’ll introduce you to John Lee Dumas,” and then I get that, boom, that’s a big spike, we use that in all our promotional material now.
And I said to John, “Would you give me a quote, a testimonial?”
Wow, he said, “I’ve interviewed over 2000 rocking entrepreneurs and David Wood is as inspiring as they come. He is truly on fire.”
And I’m like, “What I did not expect anything like that.”
But that’s just a step up the ladder.
Ryan Foland: Never ask, never get, as well like on that ladder, right?
David Wood: Right.
And then trying to think of some other rungs along the ladder.
I got asked to come and speak at T Harv Eker’s event, Millionaire Mindset, they said there would be 800 people in the audience.
I initially said no, because I didn’t want to speak about newsletters, that’s what they wanted me to speak about.
And then I looked at my wall and it said, “This is your year of speaking.”
And I was like, “Ah, okay, I’ll call them back.”
I called them back, that ended up being 1200 people in the audience and I thought, “If I can sell $10000 in product I’ll be happy,” because I’ve never done it before.
And we sold $127000 of product in 15 minutes.
At the end there was a table rush, Harv Eker was saying, “That’s not even my product, why is that woman diving on the table,” right.
And we had footage of it so now use that to leverage up.
Then I met Jack Canfield and he promoted me and I promoted him, I used that, “Hey, I do work with Jack Canfield,” people started reaching out to me.
So you keep on working it up, and up, and up, and up.
Now I call it the ladder of leverage.
So that’s the first thing, I’ll stop and see if there’s any comment.
Ryan Foland: That’s great, I resonate with that.
In my book “Ditch The Act” it’s an 8 step process of building your brand and the last step we call success stacking; it is a simple formula, it’s very similar, find an opportunity, do it the best that you can, then share it and use it to find the next opportunity.
And do the best you can, and share and find.
So it’s just, for me I have a number of these leverage ladders where I wanted to get known in the start-up space, and nobody knew who I was.
But who was the person that everyone knew?
“How can I get in front of him.”
And so I took time off of my full-time job, and I volunteered to be a docent at the start-up lean conference in San Francisco.
I paid my way to get there, stayed with a friend and then of the 3 days of conference I had one day where I could be as a member of the conference.
But I thought through it and I used another connection I had to get an email address of a tech news organization so that I could get a press pass and then I used the press pass to get an interview with Eric Ries.
And so here I am interviewing Eric Ries, I got a photo with him which is not easy to do and then I published it and so now it’s not about, “Who’s this ginger nobody’s heard about”, it’s like, “Oh, Eric Ries,” and now that was one of many articles.
Steve [inaudiable] all these different people in the space, I was like, “I just want to brand halo off, learn from you and share the information.”
So again, like who’s to say you can’t get in front of the person you just have to — maybe the ladder isn’t always so straight.
[inaudiable] to the side and over you kind of jump onto the terrace and climb over onto another roof and then put another ladder up.
David Wood: Yeah you work it.
Now the personal growth stuff that I did with Landmark, well let’s get to that now.
So something that I think really helped my speaking is when I first did it I was so nervous and I was trying to be something, I was trying to be an expert in having an amazing life.
And I was like 28 and I think I was trying to present an image and I was so scared of being found out as a fraud.
So I had a massive imposter syndrome and rightly so.
I stopped speaking for 6 years and then when I came back and did the T. Harv Eker thing something had magically transformed and radically transformed.
I think it’s 2 things.
One, I’ve done a lot of work on myself.
I’ve done the Landmark Forum, I’ve done the personal growth work.
So who I once was a better person.
And the second thing is I didn’t need it.
I didn’t need the success from speaking, I already had a rocking coaching practice this was a pure bonus.
So I got to go up on stage and this brings me to not needing it and the personal growth was kind of point number 2.
But when I got up on stage I was radically transparent.
I’ve been working a little bit with Alex Mandossian who is an amazing marketer and gave me some great advice about transparent selling and selling from the stage.
And so after his coaching, I get up on stage and say,
“Firstly, I don’t make the millions, you’re going to hear a lot of lofty figures this weekend. I don’t make the millions.
But I do make about $40000 a month passively, and last month it spiked to $70000 because I worked 3 days that month. Is anyone interested in knowing how to do that?”
They’re like, “Yeah.”
I’m like, “Okay, great. And at the end of this, I want to do everything I can to motivate influence, and persuade you to continue your training with me. So I can help you make it happen, and I figured the best way to do that is to give you the best information I have right now in the next hour, then I’ll tell you what I’ve got and if you want it you can register. How does that sound?”
They said, “Yes.”
Ryan Foland: They were probably chanting at that point, but yes.
David Wood: Well before I open my mouth they gave me a 66-second standing ovation. I’ve never had that before or since, they were very pumped.
But the transparency was wonderful and I found while I was on stage that I was very relaxed because I wasn’t pretending to be anything, I wasn’t pretending I made the millions.
I’ve said upfront, “This is how it works, would you like to hear what I’ve got?” If you don’t, we can go for a beer.”
I’m like, “I don’t have to be up here.”
They’re like, “No, no, tell us.”
And then while I was on stage I found myself telling on myself, one thing that happened is I kept looking around at the screens behind me because we had 4, it was such a huge audience, we had 4 separate screens up behind me so people could see my face on the big screen and I kept looking around to see where I was at in my slides.
And about 40 minutes in I noticed the monitor is right in front of me on the stage.
Ryan Foland: Your conference monitor staring right in front of you?
David Wood: Yeah, and I just laughed my ass off, I stopped and I said, “Consummate professional that I am I’ve been looking around here to see what I’m up to and there are monitors right in front of me,” and everyone had a good laugh with me.
And then I caught myself doing it again in they laughed hard.
But I was real for the first time in my life on stage.
That was just me.
One guy came up to me at the end and he said, “You were very Buda-like. It was very Zen.”
Another woman was just in tears.
So I’d really reach people by being myself and that is my advice, and I know it’s not easy, like how do you do that, how do you just be yourself?
Well, it took years of personal growth work doing those courses, and even still, I’m still doing it.
I’m writing a book right now about what I’m learning as I go, the book is called “Name That Mouse” and it’s about transparency.
Don’t leave people in mystery as to what’s happening in you.
If you are really nervous on stage you can say that.
“Hey I’m nervous right now because you guys are terrifying, I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at yourselves, but you’re scary as hell. And I just want to say that once I’ve said it I usually calm down. In fact, would you all take a deep breath with me? That helps me ground.”
That way being related over what’s real instead of I’m going to come out and do a song and dance and skip over the fact that I’m terrified, that’s just one example of what I encourage everyone listening to practice.
And you can practice it by going and doing a Landmark Forum, you can Google authentic relating and find a course there’s a company called authentic relating training and they will help train you in what’s happening in you so you can be real on stage.
And no one’s going to buy from you if they don’t trust you, and if you’re not authentic and real, how are they going to trust you?
Ryan Foland: You are one ginger speaking to the choir here because my book, “Ditch the Act” is literally that.
It’s as soon as you ditch the act and stop trying to pretend who do you think people want you to be, then all of a sudden you can connect and people have to get to know you before they make a decision whether or not they like you.
And if they like you, not everybody does, not everybody has to, then it builds a foundation for trust.
I really want the listeners to hear this and not think that they have to be on a stage in front of 1200 people to practice.
You had great references there, but I think the small talk before meetings happen is a great chance to practice what I call ditching the act.
Like if somebody says, “Hey how are you doing today?”
And if you’re like, “Oh I’m great, good, thanks, how are you?”
“Oh I’m good, I’m good, thanks, great, let’s get going.”
You’re like, BS, there’s something.
So I’ll always try to find something that is either on my mind or kind of silly or stupid, like not a big deal but I’ll share about it.
The other week I was done with my workout, I had my AirPods in my shorts and washed my shorts.
There is nothing more annoying than washing your electronics but I put it in rice and they still work.
And then it relates to the time when they messed up and put something in laundry, it’s just, it’s amazing how much connectivity comes when you relate on human stuff which is not.
David Wood: And I would suggest a level deeper.
When you share something about the shorts, largely in the informational realm, this is what happened and it’s in the past.
To go deeper what’s happening now?
Right here in the room. “Hey I notice, I feel really impressed by the way you’re dressing, you look so stylish. I’m jealous.”
And I’m not making that like I’m not saying make it up I’m saying if that’s what arises. Or it might be,
“Hey, I’ve noticed I’m 5 minutes late and I’m feeling embarrassed and it’s partly because I’m committed to being on time and I do respect your time and I apologize, I want to know what was the impact of me being late.”
Maybe that’s what’s there for me, who knows.
Or maybe it’s like, “How are you?” And they say, “I’m okay.”
You might be like, “Okay, that suggests maybe something — do you want to say more about it?”
So this is a level deeper to go with what’s happening right now and that’s also what I’d recommend on stage.
Yeah, sure, you prep your stories, I got a bunch of stories right here on a post-it note in case someone wants a story, but what’s happening now can be way more real for the connection and for trust and for influence.
Ryan Foland: Totally and especially when you’re on stage, those first few moments that the expectations are being managed right then.
And if you come out as a blowhard and they’re like, “Oh, this dude,” you lose that disconnect instead of having them lean in.
But this goes back to what you talked about at the beginning, is leaning into what you might be most fearful of.
And I think when we’re on stage we are fearful of what the crowd will receive.
So I think it’s advice that is staring at you, right in the face.
David Wood: Yeah.
Ryan Foland: My question to you is it sounds good, but how can we help people to actually get out there in the water, get on their board panel, and put their toes over?
It is easy to say.
I think it’s a lot easier to just say, “Oh that sounds like a good idea,” and then next time somebody asks you how you’re doing, you’re like, “I’m fine.”
What are some things to push people over the edge?
Because I think the concept, I think they get.
David Wood: Well, the deepest would be going to a course.
Don’t immerse yourself in a course because we’re creatures of habit and if you want to change habits you need some energy, you need something to bounce you out of the orbit you’re in.
You can also get a coach, get a coach, or a therapist.
Say, “I want to be more transparent, I want to be more me, I want to be more expressed. I want to be more vital,” maybe.
And if you want a nice, easy nugget, while the book is not ready yet, the Name That Mouse book, we’ve written a mini book which has got instructions on how to get started right now.
And we call it Name That Mouse because the elephant is not the only animal in the room.
We all know about the elephant, you see it, I see it, no one’s talking about it.
But many creatures in the room are much more subtle, that might be a feeling you have, it might be a clinch in your gut, it might be excitement, it might be appreciation for somebody.
This book, you can go right now to namethatmouse.com and I think if you contribute 15 bucks towards writing the book we’ll give you the mini book and we’ll give you the kindle when it comes out.
Those are some practical ways and I will give a plug again for Authentic Relating training, I love those guys.
We hired our experience from the world and we’re not even aware of most of it ourselves.
It’s so much going on inside us, and so it’s no wonder that people don’t feel connected to us or trust us because we don’t even fully know what’s going on.
The more I know what’s happening and as I said that I just stopped and I scanned my body, I was like, “How am I right now, I’m talking about this stuff but how am I?”
And I just checked, my energy is up, I feel like I’m talking a little fast and I want to bring it back a little bit and slow right down to the speed of the connection.
And so I just did a check and I’m actually noticing I’m feeling quite alive as well.
You can do this.
Anytime someone says, “How are you,” don’t just say you’re fine.
Say, “Thank you, give me a second to check-in and find the answer to that.”
And sometimes I’ll close my eyes and I’ll just see how am I, what is going on. “I’m feeling charged up,” or, “I’m getting a little bit of heaviness,” or, “I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’m a little bit tired, and I’m excited about this interview.”
Whatever is true, this is a doorway, it may seem innocuous, it may seem like it’s nothing but I don’t think I would have been elected to the transformational leadership council with Jack Canfield and John Gray, and Marianne Williamson if I hadn’t done that work. I’d be hanging out with different people, I’d be hanging out with different friends. I wouldn’t be on Entrepreneurs on Fire.
All right, I would be on there but I’d have to pay the 5 grand or whatever it is.
It seems like, “Oh, really, is that going to help my business? Really is it going to help my life?”
Oh my god, once you’ve done deep personal work I just cannot imagine going backward, like for no amount of money would I go back to the level of awareness I had when I was 27 and I started the journey.
Ryan Foland: And ironically, at that time you were sort of positioning yourself as somebody who gets to teach you how to have that fulfilled life, you didn’t realize you were nowhere near the edge essentially.
David Wood: Right, I’d learned a lot because I’d done the landmark forum and then I did the second course, and then I did the third course.
And I’d started coaching so I knew more than the average bear, but I was also very young.
And so it was kind of weird to go and talk to 55-year-olds about how to create a life you love.
If I could do it over again now and go back in time with the knowledge I have now, I just wouldn’t pretend, I’d say,
“Look, here’s what I don’t know about. You guys would know more about all of this. Here is something that I’ve been studying that is making a big difference in my life and in the lives of my clients, and I’m going to teach you this. If you like it, take it, do not throw it away.”
Now that would be honest and I think every person in the audience will be like, “All right, fair enough, this young guy he’s really passionate about this and he’s learned a few things, he’s going to give us some practical stuff that will work.”
Instead, I was going for too much.
Ryan Foland: And I think that if somebody is listening to this and they’re getting it and they’re seeing, “Okay I see the value.”
Talk about the value in the intersections in connections to get to these stages.
Because whether it’s a meeting planner or whether it’s the 3 degrees away from John’s Show, I want to make sure people don’t see this as a stage trick.
This is like, from what I understand, and this is what I try to do, I try to ditch the act in all of my relationships, and when people see with that genuineness then they’re comfortable introducing you to people who might help you get onto stages.
And it truly is a business-building technique.
David Wood: Yeah, I agree.
Don’t use this as a technique to get something on stage.
Or if you are, I encourage you to tell on yourself and reveal that “I’m going to use this technique because I think it’ll have you trust me more.”
And I find why that’s good for them.
“And if you trust me more, you’re going to believe in this and you’re actually going to apply it and use the training, so I’m gonna try this technique.”
Manipulation is not bad but I’m a fan of overt manipulation.
And I agree with you, don’t just use this on stage, no this is a life choice, this is a way of life for me.
I’ve gone into prisons and taught prison inmates about this stuff. I’m writing a book about this.
I practice this with my roommate who is moving out tomorrow, I’ve had really difficult issues. I keep practicing what’s happening for me and is there an artful way I can share that.
And it pays off.
You might have a pre-interview for a speech or a podcast.
I just had one this morning.
And I just try to be honest.
He said, “Alright, do you want to talk about productivity and focus, that sounds great.”
I said, “Well, not really. I sell that, it sells well, people want to make more money in less time. But it’s a bit dry. What I’d rather talk about is playing full out and courage, that’s the stuff that really juices.”
I was just real with the guy.
He could have said, “Oh, well that’s not really what we want, I’ll go somewhere else.”
But he was like, “Okay, that sounds good.”
And it was real, it’s actually what I care about.
So you do this everywhere and then some people won’t like you, some people won’t, and they will just drift away and other people will go, “Oh, this is someone I want to be around. This is someone I want to hang out with.”
I look at my friends and I’m just blown away by the people I get to call friends.
And if I was going to take responsibility for that, it would be the personal growth work which sometimes is tedious, sometimes it’s scary as hell to go and be vulnerable with a group of strangers or even with a coach.
You get coaching and then you go and tell your partner, “Hey I broke an agreement and I’m feeling terrible about it, and I’m really scared that you’re going to be angry and I don’t want any secrets between us.”
That kind of stuff is scary, but it’s also where life truly lives.
Ryan Foland: Yeah and I love how this foundational life principle is what will help you become more confident, more relatable on stage, it will help you sell more, it’ll help you get to more stages, it’s like the deliverables is what you’re after but sometimes we forget because we’re looking for those hacks.
Successful speakers are not doing what everyone else cannot do; successful speakers are doing what everyone can do but not everyone does, including working on their own personal growth.
David Wood: Yeah and I realize not everyone subscribes to my point of view and that’s fine.
If you want to go and learn a bunch of body language techniques and things and whatever that is going to have the audience think, “Wow, this guy’s great, I’m going to buy from him/her,” then okay, go and do that.
That’s not my style.
I’d rather, I’ve talked about my struggle with anxiety and depression, now I’m tempted not to because if I say I’ve struggled with that for 30 years people might go,
“Oh, that guy doesn’t have his act together, why do I want to learn from him?”
Yeah, that’s the truth.
I don’t have everything worked out, this has been really hard for me, sometimes just to get through a week and I found ways to manage it.
I try to be transparent so people get the real me, and hopefully, some people be inspired and go,
“Oh, if he can talk about that maybe I can talk about who I am, and not have to pretend to do a song and dance.”
And Ryan, I just thought of one other area where this is true, like what you an I are geeking out on, about this being real, ditch the act — even in acting, they’re all talking about not acting, they don’t want like I got a class tonight and I’m going to do a scene in front of everybody, and I need to be really angry.
The audience doesn’t want me to act like I’m angry, they want me to be angry.
And Sanford Meisner, one of the big names in acting, or was and he says, “Acting is truthful reactions under imaginary circumstances.”
Ryan Foland: Yes and I will add to that is the successful transition between that actual truth and feelings, as opposed to like, “Now I’m angry,” and, “Now I am happy,” there’s magic in that transition because our face shares so much information on the micro level, especially when other people are watching it.
And so if you are being truthful but you’re like, “Okay, I’m going to channel my anger, now I’m not angry Dracula,” but the transitions are where the magic also happens because you see them go there, you see the fumes starting to come out of the ears you’re like, “Oh gosh, I think he’s getting, oh yep, now he is, oh he is angry.”
David Wood: Yeah, that’s good, I think I can use that both in Dracula because there’s a time when he becomes more of an animal, and then he kind of gets control of himself and reverts to a more human-like quality.
And I’ve been doing it really rapidly and that could be like 10, 20 seconds of Dracula trying to get control of himself.
And then the transition to angry in this scene, I think the teacher wants to see me go at a 10 out of 10 from the beginning, but I think I’d be more interesting to start agitated and angry —
Ryan Foland: And then it just could be 1 big, long sip of anger that comes in and comes out, but I think, and this is a director in me, and this is why I love directing, is those little nuances, but the transition of those real feelings, and I mean when I studied theatre I loved [inaudiable] I can’t still pronounce it but like I did a play written by Vietnam vets called “Tracers”, and it was 1 of if not the most powerful experiences I’ve ever had as a director.
And I actually went to UCSB and so I contacted the ROTC and I got all of my actors the issued full army gear, full M-16 that would shoot blanks and I actually got them out on the field training exercises so they could feel what it’s like to be under pressure to shoot a gun, and all of those things the difference when they got on stage and then had a fake prop with it, it was like, “Oh my god, I feel like you’ve done this before,” I’m not looking at you as an actor but you’re there and it’s just so powerful to experience and then channel that.
I’m getting all jazzed up about it.
David Wood: Yeah, so the point for everyone is to move away from pretending to be something.
That can work, but move more towards what’s real for you and can you connect with the person about what’s actually true and what’s actually real and maybe there are some confessions.
You don’t have to share everything, hide nothing does not mean share everything.
And I notice, Ryan, we’re coming up to time do you want to talk about any of the business stuff before we wrap up?
Ryan Foland: You know, I think the argument to be made here is that what we’re talking about directly translates to business.
We don’t need to splice that any further. If you can get more comfortable with yourself and who you are and you show up to stage not looking like the person that you think they want to hire but actually being present and being there in the moment and sharing accordingly.
Now in the book, I talk about 5 levels of exposure because you’re right, you can’t just like on a pre-interview call for a talk be like just emotionally throw up on them, right.
There is some tact in how to sort of expose yourself.
Funny, the book that we pitched that got bought was Expose Yourself but it was too racy for the publisher, so then it became “Ditch the Act” but it is a level of exposing yourself to connect with people.
David Wood: I love that, that’s exactly what my book is about, it’s be vulnerable artfully and with context and with permission.
When people talk about charisma, it seems like a hard thing to define but if you are you, people are going to like you generally, not everyone, but some people are going to like you and they’re not going to know why, they are just going to be like, “Oh, he is great,” and they just want to be around you, and I think this is a huge part of what’s charismatic and adores to just someone who’s being real.
And it’s like, “All right, I want more of that in my life.”
So yeah, and we did cover the business stuff and that ladder of leverage I think is all the business advice you’d ever need.
Ryan Foland: But I think the idea is that when you become authentic and be yourself, be comfortable in your own skin and on stage and connect with people and have that Je ne sais qua like you can’t put a finger on it, that’s where you’ll start to continue the traction as long as you go full out and keep applying and keep walking up the front of the board to stick your toes over, you’re going to fall in but it’s whoever stays in the water long enough is going to catch the best waves, right, that big kahuna.
David Wood: Yep.
Ryan Foland: Wow.
Well hey, this has been fun.
How I’m doing — I’m pumped, this has been fun, I feel alive right now and I’m going to look for the mouse in the room.
So I want you to tell us where we can get this new book again and how people can get in touch with you and how maybe they can not use, but be transparent about how to use you in their path to try and connect with people and maybe being a rung in their ladder.
David Wood: Yeah, for sure.
Well, I created a link with the gift basket of goodies for listeners so at this link you can subscribe to my podcast Extraordinary Focus, you can get a hold of the mini-book “Name That Mouse” and start being more transparent.
And also if you’re interested in coaching with me, if you’re already doing well in business and you want to get to where you’re going faster and be more connected along the way, then there will be a link so you can get on a call with me and see if we’re a fit.
And all of these things you can do at myfocusgift.com, because I want to give you the gift of focus, so my focus gift.com.
Ryan Foland: I dig it.
And while you’re online searching for that I also encourage you to go to speakerhub.com where you can showcase yourself as a speaker, you can find it call for speakers, you can create a one-pager, you can connect with other speakers, you can showcase your speakerness and you can do that all while being totally real and genuine.
Check out speakerhub.com, they are the reason why we are able to have these amazing conversations with somebody like David Wood, a fellow ginger and communication Jinja, and somebody who is living his best life even if that doesn’t mean that things are always going the best that they could, but he is sharing with people in real-time what’s happening and I appreciate the energy that you brought to the show here today.
Thank you so much.
David Wood: My pleasure, thanks for having me on the show, Ryan.
Ryan Foland: All right, and if you want to learn more about this ginger, my name is Ryan, and if you want to find me online just go to Ryan.online, you can learn about me and my backstory and how I took what people made fun of me for, my freckles to now what is my superpower.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you liked this episode then subscribe to the World of Speakers podcast wherever you like it, give us a 5-star review if you wouldn’t mind, share with a friend, somebody who you think would benefit from this information.
And remember, we got all kinds of episodes so go back and batch.
On behalf of myself and the SpeakerHub crew, David it’s been great and hopefully, we will share the stage sometime soon.
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World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voices, and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business. This special series of episodes has been created to help speakers navigate the coronavirus crisis.
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This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.