It is the communication that makes a story come to life between the storyteller and the story listeners. In this episode, Dr Jim Smith, a keynote speaker and a lightning rod in both professional and personal development spaces, talks about the art of storytelling to catch the ears of his listeners. Dr. Jim teaches us how to be the speaker that resonates in each and every individual that will come across people by going in-depth on how he started to be a keynote speaker, making it clear that each story has a lesson to tell.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have Dr. Jim Smith here. He is a famous keynote speaker and communication expert. He is also the author of the No Excuse Guide to Success. We’re going to talk to him a little bit about that and everything else he is working on.
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Storytelling: Resonating Stories That Makes A Difference With Dr. Jim Smith
I am here with Dr. Jim Smith who is a lightning rod in the personal development and motivational world. He has authored several books. His last The No Excuse Guide to Success: No Matter What Your Boss — or Life — Throws at You, was nominated for the NAACP Image Award and he has done some amazing things. I want to get into all the stuff you’ve done, so welcome. You’ve gone to take your message in 25 countries and more than that. You’ve taught presentation skills for Rutgers. I was looking at your background, it’s pretty impressive. Why don’t you give me a little background on how you got to that level of success?
After graduating from college, I tried out for three pro football teams. I didn’t make it, unfortunately. In my mind I was going to play pro football, write for Sports Illustrated, and then go back and teach high school English and coach football at my old high school, but it wasn’t in the plans. I ended up going to corporate and worked for several organizations for several years and a slew of vendors coming in doing work for the organization. I felt that I was as good as they were or even better. I have coupled that with hearing my colleagues and peers complaining about their job and why don’t you do something, but choosing not to do something and hearing them talking and complaining about leadership. I saw that. I heard them. I saw the vendors and I said, “I want to do something about this.”
I always felt constrained within corporate. I’m maverick. I like to make it happen. I discuss what happened. The only way to do that was to start my own organization, but prior to that, I worked with several consulting firms learning the business of consulting, the business side, the marketing, sales, and how to get exposure. After a few years of that in ‘02, I started my own business. I’m still here making it happen.
That’s an interesting background. I have a lot of people in my family who have English degrees. My sister is studying high school English, my daughter, and they all correct my grammar constantly.
I’m very mindful of how I talk because of that.
I know it’s between you and me. I know a lot of them, but one thing I noticed when I was doing the show, I never noticed until I did the show because I wrote it correctly but I didn’t speak it correctly. Instead of, “Who did that?” I would say, “That did that,” and I didn’t realize I even did that, so now I listen to everything I say. I go back to transcripts.
I listen to my so’s, the number one filler word in the country. It has exceeded like, um, okay, you know and I’m cognizant of not using the word, ‘interesting’. Because that is the most ambiguous, hide to how you truly feel word that’s out there. “Everything is interesting”.
Yes, “amazing.” “How do you truly feel?”
You must be great at teaching. You coach speakers and you teach presentation skills around the world. I want to get into that a little bit because every one of us needs that. Tell us other than those mistakes that we brought up. What are some other lines that you see a lot of?
It was Bill Gates in 1986 that said, “Content was king.” This is in 2019 and content is no longer king, content is free. You can go on the internet, you can find your research, and you can get whatever you’re looking for. As a speaker, presenter, educator, I have to bring more than just content. Transformation is king. Engagement is king. Connectivity is king. As I’m presenting, I have to make sure I’m doing that because if I’m not, folks will go online and get the content that used to be king.
There are a lot of the dynamic charismatic parts of speaking that add a lot to a presentation. I had Willie Jolley on, he sang to me on the show, I loved that. He is one of the best. I have a lot of the Hall of Fame, Joe Calloway, all the top speakers have all been on the show. I can listen to them speak all day long because you guys are all so dynamic, but a lot of you are funny and you’re great at telling stories. Don’t you think humor and storytelling make a difference in it or not?
It makes a huge difference. A good friend of mine, Doug Stevenson, likes to say, “Facts fades, stories stick.” A lot of us give all these facts and verbal vomit and the audience loses it. If you frame it in a story, and my model for storytelling is R squared. R squared stands for, “Retell the story and relive the story at the same time.” Most people share the narrative and they retell, and retell. It’s old school. Reliving it, truly doing what you did at that moment again will help better connect with your learners, your listeners. Because they’ll see you emote right in front of them which you emoted a few years ago, but most speakers they got to go back, they got to be in a moment.
How do you do that? Do you have an example story you can tell us?
I’ll give an example. If you are sharing the story of when you proposed to your future wife, don’t stand up and share what you did. If you got on a knee when you did it, take a knee while you’re telling the story. In fact, your partner was standing right in front of you, direct your attention to the audience. To somebody who looks or can be the person you’re proposing to because your fiancée is in the room rather than so purposely speaking out loud to the audience. Do what you did then and don’t say, “I said to her.” No. “Baby, I cannot imagine spending the rest of my life without you. You’re my heart, you’re my head, you’re my spirit, and you’re my soulmate.”
You needed to tell that to my husband first of all. I don’t think I had that same enthusiasm.
“You are my heartbeat. I want to drink your bath water, yes, I love you.”
That’s so great. Don’t you think men could get away with more on stage than women? I have a couple of big speakers and after the show, we’ll sit and talk. For women, it depends on what you wear, your shoes if they are too high, your skirt can’t be too short. Is there more criticism of women speakers?
Yes, I believe so. I believe men worry less about looking good on the platform. I’m an aggressive presenter so I make sure that I move around a lot. I have shoes that are comfortable, not shoes that are 100% stylish. Since I’m an aggressive presenter I don’t wear a tie. Stylish shoes and the tie add to the look, but I’m most concerned about the message. Where I believe that some women are concerned both about the look and the message and that’s who we are. I am concerned about the look but not to the point where I’m going to let what I have on impede how I share my message.
It’s interesting, Larry Winget has been on the show. He goes with the cowboy look and the bowtie. He has some great get-ups. What’s interesting is, some of the speakers I’ve talked to have said, “If you said this, this would be funny.” Sometimes women can’t say some of the things that men can say because they get judged more harshly.'Interesting' is the most ambiguous 'hide how you truly feel' word that's out there. Click To Tweet
Unfortunately, we still live in a sexist society, we do.
It’s tough. We get that in the workplace too. Do you address that in your The No Excuse Guide to Success? Is there a problem that can we have success even if our boss is throwing stuff at us?
Absolutely, it’s called I’m changing the narrative and/or changing how we respond to what’s coming at us. Many of us tend to hope that what’s coming toward us changes rather than determining how I’m going to change how I react to what’s coming toward me. “I wish he would stop. I wish I’d been more trusting. I wish he will sit down and talk.” He or she has demonstrated that they’re not going to do that so stop waiting. That’s why I tell people all the time, “You need to go on a diet, lose some weight. Stop waiting for this, stop waiting for that, him, her.” We have to be the change. It’s one of the reasons why after several years in corporate I said, “I got to get this saddle off of me. I got to get away from all these rules and bylines. I have to get away from this fake meritocracy. I have to create my own outcome.” That’s why I left corporate.
I’m not telling every person in corporate to leave, but I am saying, “Take control of the situation because my life is a movie. We’re starring, directing it, writing the script, determining who are the good guys and the bad guys. We have to figure out, “How can I continue to empower myself?” Because leadership can empower people. You empower yourself. What am I going to do to write my ship and get away from the negativity that’s coming my way?
A lot of what you’re talking about is what I found in my research on the curiosity about what holds me back. I found four things that hold people back, their fear, assumptions or the voice in your head, technology, and environment. You’re talking a lot about the assumptions. What was interesting to me is, no one has researched this before and all the assessments out there will tell you if you’re curious or not. They don’t tell you what’s stopping it. What you’re talking about is you have to face what’s stopping you and recognize these things and that’s what I’m all into. You talk about jumping into your bigness philosophy. I’d like to know what that means.
My number one fear in life is heights. I am afraid of heights.
I’m not crazy about it.
Over the years, after my session we’re doing small talk, people would say, “Jim, do you fear anything that you found?” “Not too many things, however, heights. That’s why one day I’m going to go skydiving.” I shared that story for years and never sign anything or registered for any skydiving, however, a few years ago, after finishing up after my class someone stayed behind and lo and behold, she asked the proverbial question. I gave the routine answer and she said, “Me too. If you want to go skydiving, I’ll take care of everything then all you have to do is go on the website register with your credit card then we’ll do it.” I’m like, “Sure, no problem.” I walk out of the room and completely forgot about it.
A few months later I get an email from her and I read it and essentially it said, “I’ve made arrangements, we’re there this Saturday. It’s going to be four of us, I talked to two other people into it, you and me to be four. We’re going to go here. Here’s the money. Here’s the website, go register.” That was Monday. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, I didn’t do it. Friday, I went online to the website and stared at the website thinking, “I’m going to do this.” I paid for it. I paid for the video aspect of it to have it video recorded. The next day, after a sleepless night, I drove to the skydiving facility and sat there and thought, “I could die today.” Ironically, the date was August 18, 2018.
When I do this as a motivational keynote presentation the story takes fifteen minutes. I’m going to give you the condensed version of it. Bottom line, it was time to get on a plane, my mom raised me to be a gentleman so I let everybody on the plane first. When we got there 15,000 feet in the air, the last one on, guess what, first one-off. Breathe, looked at my tandem partner who had introduced himself to me as Pancake. I was jumping on August 18, 2018 and my partner’s name was Pancake. Nonetheless, I landed and it was surreal. If you had a pulse, if you were breathing, if you had an email, if you’re on Facebook and Instagram, you heard that I jumped out of the plane.
I called my mentor, I let her know what happened and she didn’t have the gregarious response that everyone else had and then asked, “What’s that about?” She said, “Jim, you did a bucket list thing. Bucket lists are weightless. You’re waiting around to do something that you want to do one day, someday, eventually. When you get around to it, rather than doing a bucket list item like jumping out of a plane. Why don’t you encourage people to jump into their lives every day, jump into their marriage, jump their goals, into that book, and into the business they want to start. Jump into those challenging situations, essentially teach them how to jump into their bigness every day.” That’s what I do. I teach people how to jump into that thing that they are avoiding every single day. Not the running with the bulls, because that says a bucket list. How about running with the bulls here in your life? The bulls that are knocking you down and the bulls that are giving you a hard time. You’ve been talking about writing a book starting a business for years, “What are you waiting for? Jump.” That’s the theory behind jumping into your bigness.
I’m a big fan of the, “Just do it.” Nike slogan and I meet so many people and a lot of my students. I’ve taught thousands of business courses and I have so many students, everything is talk and talk. It’s challenging. I love that you jumped out of an airplane. I was envisioning when you are saying that is the movie Live, Die and Repeat with Tom Cruise when he was terrified, they are about to open that door and drop him out of the bottom.
Yes. I was there.
I zip-lined and did scuba diving and I did a lot of things that I would find terrifying too, but I hear what you’re saying those are bucket-list things. They get you out of your shell though a little bit. What you’re saying is, there are so many people who find excuses not to do anything. I’ve had people ask me, “You do the same job I do, how come you get so much done?” I go, “I go in the office and that will come out.” Just do it.
You don’t try to get it done. If I was living when that person made that saying, “If you try and you don’t succeed, try again.” I would have popped him in his head. Stop telling people to try because trying is an excuse for, “I’m not doing it.”
How many people are there that planned the plan to plan the plan, those are the ones who drive me crazy. I’m like, “Stop planning. Just do it”
Imagine if your best friend was getting married and you were at the wedding and she looked outstanding, loving and hot. Her spouse to be, they were arm and arm and they’re taking their vows, sickness, and health, richer and poorer, until death to be part. Her future husband looked at her and said instead of saying, “I do,” he said, “I’m going to try.” Number one, she will push him in the nose. Number two, she’s going body block him and say, “Get out of here.” He’ll say, “No. Babe, I’m not what I used to be.” “I’m not where I want to be, but I’m a work-in-progress.”
People find the time in their minds when you have to do it and it’s an important time. It almost reminds me of Amy Edmondson’s TED Talk. She’s been on the show. She talked about teams versus teaming and in her TED Talk. She was saying that these people all had to work together. They never worked before to get these miners out from under all the rock in Chile disaster. Instead of having all the issues that these teams usually have, they were able to collaborate and use curiosity and figure out a way to do something they had never been done before. They didn’t use excuses because it was life or death literally. Why do we need life or death for that?You have to bring more than just content. Transformation is king. Engagement is king. Connectivity is king. Click To Tweet
We learn it because we learn to live with pain and it’s not until it’s 9/11. For instance, people who have a toothache or they will put some Anbesol where it hurts and continue to chew. If it hurts, rather than going to the dentist, they’ll start chewing on the other side of their mouths. It isn’t until their teeth are falling out and these times for root canal that they go to the dentists. We learn to live in pain.
It’s something and it’s another good thing in your head. It’s assumptions that the voice in your head tells you not to do something. What is it that we are telling ourselves?
I’m glad that you said the voice rather than the little voice because that voice isn’t little. It’s huge, hence, it played a role in me writing the book The No Excuse Guide, no excuses. Which puts a big target on me because if I do something wrong, “That guy wrote a book no excuses, so Jim comes clean, why did you do that?” The ironic part of that when I travel, I wear my no excuse hat. It’s to draw attention in people and ask what that’s about. I get a chance to market and talk about what I do, but invariably someone will say, “My husband needs that.” “My partner needs that.” “My son needs that.” No one ever says, “I need it. I need that.” For me, because I live a life of making excuses.
How do you know if you are a person who makes excuses?
If you’re open to feedback you will know, but many of us are oblivious to it, or we believe it is not an excuse, it’s a reason. We give these reasons that are justifications all the time. You have your doctorate which means how rigorous that journey is, “The tassel is worth the hassle.” I’ve heard that. There were a number of times when you said, “I feel like rewriting this paper. I don’t feel like looking for another article. I don’t feel like rewriting this conclusion or this abstract,” but you did it.
It’s definitely a journey of tenacity.
You did it. You are one of the 2%.
Yes, and you did too. Where did you write your dissertation on?
Degrees of Authenticity at Work: Refuting the Either/Or Paradigm. Through my research, I believe that authenticity is not an either/or, it’s more or less. You’re not authentic or inauthentic, you are more or less. There’s a range, there’s a threshold in the workplace. I narrowed my focus to workplace authenticity rather than a big picture being authentic in general. I focused on that because as a speaker and talking about personal power oftentimes I’ll hear someone during a session or during coaching say, “I’m one way at home and I’m one way at work.”
I find that fascinating. Why?
The conversation they had when they had that suggests, either place is not going to accept the truth of them. At home, I walk around on eggshells because I don’t want to get divorced, I don’t want to upset people. At work, I go alone and get along because I want to keep my job and they won’t understand me or I can’t be as jovial and funny and witty here because they’re serious. In either place, they put on their Halloween costume and they go trick or treating every day either at home or at work.
Isn’t it becoming harder to say anything or do anything in the workplace? You are under a magnifying glass these days.
You are, and I believe there’s a threshold for it along with my adviser. My adviser discovered something that’s created something that’s called the dual-threshold model. What it talks about is a threshold for expression and her research was around emotion, how much can you emote at work before becoming egregious and going against the corporate culture and so forth. Why switch emotion with authenticity? How authentic can you be at work before you move into the impropriety threshold? Which means what you’re doing is egregious or goes against cultural mores and corporate values.
For instance, if you’re a jerk, we don’t want you to be an authentic jerk at work. If you are any of the sexist, racist, homophobic, whatever, if that’s truly who you are, that’s not going to work here. If the expression is one through ten what I learned through my research typically between 5 and 8 you’re being perhaps as authentic as you can be given the culture. The 1, 2, 3, and 4 are faking it until making it until they get along or get along to go along. The 9s and 10s can border on expulsion or getting fired, that’s why we don’t talk politics and religion and all that stuff.
When you say this, it reminds of a situation at work where we all had to take the DiSC. The one guy who was kind of belligerent to people and had a reputation for being a little not too friendly, “You’re a little bit nasty.”
That’s like being a little bit pregnant, right?
You’re right a little bit. He was one that I thought would come up in the direct type personality and he was way over and the nice guy S side. I’m thinking, “How’d he end up over there?” All the other ones were over here in the D looking over, and I’m thinking, “He’s trying to be a blowfish, pufferfish, to make himself look bad and to make people respect him or when it’s actually not.” Don’t you think that that could be what it is?
It’s yes, and it is exhausting because you work overtime on your way to work you think about, “What can I do to mirror this image I’m trying to create?” During the day you’re trick-or-treating and then when you go home, you’re exhausted thinking about everything you did and start thinking about, “What am I going to do tomorrow to reinforce this facade?”
It’s tough if you’re in a corporate culture where they expect certain things especially if you’ve had leaders. We’ve talked about how culture trickles down. If your leaders taught you, this is how to be it and here’s who mentored you, what do you do if leadership expects you to be one way? Do you buy into that? Do you align your values with the corporation or is there a time when you leave?
I think that’s an and/both situation. I find that a lot of people align who they are not even considering their pillars for living because they believe the job completes them and they’re going to do whatever they can to maintain their position. Some people eventually, within an organization will post soon on the department, attempt to secure mentorship that can help them through the minefield or eventually leave and start their own. I believe that more and more these days with technology and a younger millennial base, people aren’t hanging around like they were when I was in the workforce. It’s okay to be disruptive. I tell people now, “I disrupt ordinary. I’m allergic to sameness, I’m allergic to average.”
It’s the status quo.
It takes courage, it takes vulnerability.
It takes curiosity.
You motivated me to start doing research on curiosity.
You’re going to have to. Look at mine, it’s been reviewed. I put it out there.
Thanks. It’s important. It’s a lot of common sense though. I know you talk about engagement in different things. I’m sure it comes up in a lot of your talks, but everything kept coming back to me with curiosity. It ties into innovation, engagement, critical thinking, and routine activities, everything you could think of. Part of what you’re talking about is what I’m talking about. It’s these excuses are something we’re creating for ourselves based on what we’re telling ourselves we won’t like, what’s going to make us freak out. I love that you’re doing that. When you talk about the other part about what your boss throws at you, what does the boss throw at you that you are talking about or write about in your book?
The boss, I’m not going to say all, I’ll say some. There is insecurity, there are issues of control, there are issues and I talk about this in The No Excuse book. It’s something that’s called right fighting, where we fight to be right and some leaders are afraid or apprehensive to be vulnerable. They don’t open up, you don’t get to know who they truly are. What can they throw at you? They can throw rather than directing you, they can delegate. If you have not demonstrated proficiency in a task, delegating turns into dumping. I have to show that I can do that before I take it on. Quality time not being spent with the team members they’re throwing, “You have to figure it out.”
I work a lot with organizations that have national sales meetings. Typically, they have folks in the field come in and make presentations, but the key presentations are made by the leaders. Why? If someone in the field is seeing, feeling and smelling it every day, they know it. You’re reading a report, attending a conference call our meeting and putting your spin on it, but if I’m being burned. The fire is burning my leg, I’m going to tell you how it feels better than you.
It’s playing the telephone. By the time your message gets out it’s different anyway, right?
Yes, and there is the whole ambiguity of figuring it out. Some leaders talk in code. They say it’s PC, but PC doesn’t stand for Politically Correct, to me PC stands for Poor Communication and lack of authentic communication, so we’re left to attempt to figure it out.
I had Lolly Daskal on the show. I remember we talked about leaders being fearful of people finding out that they don’t know as much as they are supposed to know.
That is such a huge thing. They narrow a conversation to their field of expertise and that leaves out so much.
I’m reminded of a symbiotic quote, “If you have a family member who was not doing well, would you fire him/her and lay them off?” You would sit down and have a conversation and put them with some sort of plan to get them turned around. When organizations are going through strife, what do they do? They lay people off and pay the senior leaders a lot more money.
I don’t know if you saw this on Wall Street Journal, but there was a big thing about women climbing the corporate ladder, it wasn’t they’re hitting the glass ceilings so much as they can’t get on that first rung of the ladder. I thought that was a great article to talk about, the kind of things that hold people back and what bosses throw at you. There is some difference in how to get successful, how to get to be at the next level, and women are still hitting some of that. I’m not a person that focuses on women’s issues or anything. It happens that we’re talking a couple of things that do focus on women. What do you do when you work for an organization because I’m thinking in my last organization where it was like, “You’re female, here go get the coffee or get the coffees made.” It wasn’t that bad, but it was, “Here do all the administrative stuff because the boys are doing this.” How do you get them not to do that? That’s something that bosses are throwing at you.Facts fades. Stories stick. Click To Tweet
Number one, they’re not reaching a glass ceiling, I’ve heard people call it the sticky floor, they can’t even get up the leather because the floor is sticky. Number two, I have found as an entrepreneur on my own that I had to create a tribe and that there’s strength in the tribe. If I had to go all over again and go back to Corporate America in the ‘80s through the ’90s, I would have focused in addition to wanting to achieve success. I would have focused on becoming part of a tribe so there are collective intelligence and collective strength whereby we can share and compare.
I think that’s why affinity groups evolved in the workplace where women leaders, people of color, and people with different sexual orientations can meet to determine what we can do to navigate the slope better. That would play a key role because even now as an entrepreneur and business owner I’m a part of a number of mastermind groups where iron is sharpening iron. That could help even in the workplace as women are looking to achieve the success they deserve. I might get in trouble on this one but that’s how I live. If women, people of color and people who shared their different sexual orientation signatures were on the Declaration of Independence, some of the things we’re experiencing now would be different.
You bring up an interesting point. I guess it all ties back to why I was interested in studying my dissertation was emotional intelligence. Emotionally intelligent people are able to empathize and they are able to put themselves in somebody else’s shoes and that’s hard. It ties into my research for my next book on perception.
Are you tackling perception?
Yes, because in the business sense because it ties into IQ and EQ in terms of self-awareness and awareness of the other person and it also ties into Cultural Quotient, the CQ aspect which I’m sure you deal with a lot in your talks. The Cultural Quotient is challenging, you’ve got me too stuff going on. You’ve got different cultures, genders, race issues, all that. I imagine you get called to do some of those kinds of talks, is that something you focus on?
Specifically, I don’t get called to talk about that, but I bring those topics up during presentations, during coaching, training, about privilege, about class, and about culture. I include those. It’s easier to include them as part of a big picture for me. I used to do a lot of diversity inclusion training and I still help out, but my diversity and inclusion theories are more embraced as I’m talking about the leader of 2040, 2050, 2060. I found out when I used to do diversity inclusion training some of the leaders didn’t warm up to it.
What kinds of things?
They thought it was about blame. They thought it was session or sessions on race and division rather than sameness. Sessions around what their ancestors did, but we’re still talking about it and it’s not important. It talks about results rather than relationships.
It’s a time where you’ve never seen so many people getting in trouble for putting their foot in their mouth or doing different things. What do you think the next big movement is going to be like? Curiosity and perception are going to be a big movement. Engagement and soft skills were huge issues and all these. What do you see is coming up in the success realm of what’s going to make companies productive or innovative?
I’m biased because I did all this research on authenticity. I don’t believe as a country, by large we’re authentic. We’re having a lot of these hearings, but they’re behind closed doors. We’re going to hear what they want us to hear.
The news is always true.
It’s how it’s spun and it’s being spun by people who have their careers to think about. Who has the boss’s mic in their ear where they know they stray from the subject or put their two cents it might cost them. It’s one big, “Here’s what I want you to know.”
Big business loses money if you find out the reality. You’re up against Goliath.
Some of the United Nations meetings and folks coming together to talk about how they’re going to make this world better. Something tells me as they’re having those conversations people don’t truly share how they truly feel. They’re more in let’s be conciliatory, let’s listen depending on the culture and customs. There’s so much there and even at home where your spouse might say, “How do I look in this?”
“If this dress makes my butt look big, you’re in trouble.”
No, “Do fries come with that shake? You look great.”
There are times we can tell the truth, right?
That’s why I said more or less.
It’s not 100% I got it.
If our society went into a combination of curiosity, emotional intelligence, authenticity revolution. I’ll be powerful. In the NBA, LeBron James came out and was talking about what’s happening over in China and oppression, the same person who up to now would talk about oppression. Being mean, wrong and egregious, but the way his words were received this time was that, “I’m not going to go there because it might jeopardize my business side of basketball.” Based on what I read and heard, in his comments, he took a hit and after that he said. “I’m not talking about it anymore.” Which one do you want?
Do you want the truth? What do you think he should have done?
I believe it might have cost him some dollars, but he would have earned some sense to hear his truth that I believe everyone is entitled to freedom, respect, not to be oppressed. I’m going to spend the rest of my life doing my best to help those who are oppressed. He shared his belief. That’s why entertainers and athletes and whomever when the mic is in their mouth, they give you the party line. That’s why the coach says, “We have to do a better job,” rather than, “He sucks. He cost us the game. He tumbled three times.”
“What is he thinking?”
“I have to put him in a better position to succeed going forward. We have to do a better job. I’ll look at the videos and films and we’ll work on that.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how authentic or whatever word you want to use, that communication is going to be in the future because everything keeps coming back to communication. That’s why when I studied curiosity, curiosity kept coming back before communication, so I’m thinking, “Is there anything before that?” I don’t know. All of this is fascinating and your work is interesting because it overlaps into what all the things I’m interested in. I was like, “This is going to be so much fun.” You said this is your last book, does that mean last and you’re never writing another or last in your most recent?
It’s last on my most recent. I’m currently working on my next one because we have two in the works, one is relative to my authenticity research, but the one that’ll get done before then. I’ve been blogging for the last few years, and from 2013 through 2016 I was writing a blog four times a week. In the last few years, I’ve been writing it twice a week. I have a compilation of blogs that deal with personal power as well as the presentation of facilitation skills. I’m going to focus on the personal power or the responsibility, the accountability and pull my top 100 to 150 blogs put them in 7 or 8 chapters and edit them, update them, but roll that out. It’s my version of Chicken Soup but it’s around living your life out loud and my blogs are based on how I lived. It wasn’t a lot of research or online research it was life research. I believe that everyday lessons come your way they fall on your feet and right in front of you and we ignore them.
Every time something happens to me, I stop, take my phone out, go on my app write what happened. Next to that write the lesson I received and then when I get home and I’m comfortable I’ll create a title for it and tell that story. I have tons of stories, lessons on my phone and that’s why when it’s time to teach a class, present, do a keynote. I go to my research that I lived in which story chooses the story that I would feel best resonates with the audience and describes the lesson and how I went through that because we all have a story to tell. The next book will be a compilation of those highlights.
It’s hard for some people, to tell stories that. It’s helpful to give them that insight into how you do it. For me, that was the hardest part of speaking to think of stories that anybody would care to listen to. When you give your speeches, I imagine you make stories bigger and more dramatic when speakers do that. It’s much more fun and interesting. It draws people in, but if you have those written down, anytime if you change whatever you’re speaking about to any audience they’re in your mind already. You don’t have to come up with something and you go and drawing that, and I love that idea.
Life is one big metaphor for me. I look and say, “What’s the lesson in that? How does that relate to everyday living?” I work with a lot of organizations where the leaders bring me in and they’re presenting on didactic and technical content and their boring PowerPoints. “Talk to Dr. Jim. Bring that to life,” and within 15 to 30 seconds they can put a slide up there and speak to it and I can give them an anecdote and metaphor story. They’re sharing the data. They’re not sharing the why. The ‘why’ is the story and what will this lead to or the so what, they’re giving you the information.
It’s a feature instead of a benefits kind of thing.
What’s the result? I was blessed to do that and then undergrad English masters in journalism, never a ghostwriter, never help. I write.
That’s a great thing to have and it’s challenging for a lot of people to see the ‘so what’ in things and that’s such an important question to ask and that comes back to curiosity. When you talk about all this, you’ve done all these amazing things. What do you think is your greatest achievement out of all this?Men worry less about looking good on the platform. Women are concerned both about the look and the message. Click To Tweet
Two, and both of them my mother, Nancy Smith, played a role. One was attending K through 12 without missing a day of school. What that has done for me as an adult says, “Always show up. Always be there. Sit in the front, make it happen, don’t give the world, the leader, the client, the individual an excuse to say, ‘He didn’t come through.’”
Don’t hit the snooze button.
In the morning, if you set your alarm, the snooze button goes off. To me, that means God is saying, “I’m blessing you with another day of life.” When you hit the snooze button that is saying, “God, I’m taking it for granted, you got to wake me up in five minutes. You’re going to wake me up again.” I’m taking it for granted that I’m going to wake up again. Good luck with that. That’s not what I’m going to do. If I’m blessed to get up, I’m getting up. If it was right next to you take that phone, clock, whatever it is and put it on the other side of the room where you need to get up to turn it off, but don’t blow up, don’t throw your blessing.
It’s after five as Mel Robbins would say.
Yes, Mel Robbins’ The 5 Second Rule. The other that I’m grateful for is the resilience perseverance gene that is in me through my mom. My parents divorced when I was eleven. Back in the ‘70s, a woman deciding she wants out taking her children, moving out, that wasn’t in Vogue. It wasn’t trending. People would say, “You need two incomes.” My mom raised two boys, the one has his master’s, and the other has his doctorate. They run a company together. She went back and got her Master’s, but she kept saying, “Get up. It’s all in your mind, you can breakthrough. Yes, it’s going to hurt, but don’t continue to forecast failure, push through it.” That’s what I’ve had over the years even during my lean years as a consultant doing some challenging personal times is persevere, get back up, keep it moving, because this has been some journey.
My little guy, he’s thirteen years old. Any little baby, for the most part, you’re born, you do several things. You cry, eat, sleep, pee, poop, laugh, and smile. You do those things. My little guy was doing those things up until 14, 15 months. He stopped talking and we thought something was wrong. It was and we took him to get checked out. It turns out that he was on the autistic spectrum, nonverbal, and I’m a speaker with a child who’s nonverbal and that was tough. How did I get through that? I began to focus on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t do. My mindset and situation didn’t change. I had to change how I showed up in it, the perseverance, the getting back up. My life has been that, that’s what I share with folks when I teach and coach and some grass pit, something is pie-in-the-sky, but it has for these many years on this earth it has worked for me.
Maybe your next book should be not forecasting failure.
My editor will say, “Make it positive. Tell them what to do.”Rather than doing a bucket list item, why don't you encourage people to jump into their lives every day. Click To Tweet
We’re going to figure out that one. I love what you work on it’s all so inspirational and I knew this was going to be a fun show and thank you so much for sharing everything. I know a lot of people are going to want to reach you and find out how they could get your book and all that, are there links or anything you’d like to share?
He is doing his Jimpacting.
Jimpacting lives around the world.
This was so much fun, Jim. Thank you so much for being on the show.
I am honored and I’m blessed, Dr. Diane that you decided to bring me on board, I took nothing for granted so thank you very much.
I’d like to thank Dr. Jim for being my guest. What a great guest. We have so many great guests on this show. If you have missed any past episodes please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. You can get to all the information there or you can get to the curiosity information at the top, but also you can listen to the show if you’d like. It’s also transcribed on the blog so there’s so much information on this site. You can also listen to the show everywhere else, on your podcasts, on AM/FM stations and we’re about everywhere. I had such a great time talking to Dr. Jim and we have so many great guests and episodes. Please check them out and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- Dr. Jim Smith
- The No Excuse Guide to Success: No Matter What Your Boss — or Life — Throws at You
- Willie Jolley – previous episode
- Joe Calloway – previous episode
- Larry Winget – previous episode
- Amy Edmondson – previous episode
- Lolly Daskal – previous episode
- Chicken Soup
- The 5 Second Rule
- LinkedIn – Dr. Jim
- Facebook – Dr. Jim
- Instagram – Dr. Jim
- @JimSmithJrIntl – Twitter
About Dr. Jim Smith
For over 20 years, hundreds of thousands of people, both national and international audiences of all sizes, have experienced the passion, creativity, storytelling, unshakable positivity and mind-shifting power of Dr. Jim Smith, Jr. CSP.
Dr. Jim is a lightning rod in the professional and personal development spaces, creating performance breakthroughs for organizations, teams and individuals looking to improve in the areas of communication, authenticity, personal power, leadership, presentation and/or facilitation skills. Dr. Jim has authored three books with his last, The No Excuse Guide to Success: No Matter What Your Boss or Life Throws at You, earning an NAACP Image Award nomination.
His Jim’s Journal blog reaches audiences all over the world.
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