The business of speaking

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Great brands are great brands because they constantly tweak, adjust and adjust what they are, because the company, and the world around it has changed.

Tweaking your brand is not a sign of being wrong before, or not knowing what you stand for. It IS a sign of knowing who you are right now.

And that is true for speakers too.

I just went through a brand adjustment and it came from the most unlikely of places: My 8-year old son.

In school he was asked: “What does your dad do?” and he wanted to reply: “My dad is a creativity expert” but it came out as “My dad is a creativity EXPLORER”.

A creativity explorer! When I heard that story, I realised that that is exactly what I am.

My Inner Theme is still “Humanity to the Power of Ideas”, my focus right now is still on my upcoming book “The World of Creativity” and at ProfessionalSpeaking.com I still blog about speaking, but my BRAND is that I am “The Creativity Explorer”.

What does that mean?

It means that I am “discovering the potential of human creativity.”

And I do that “by traveling the world to meet with, learn from and talk to as many people as I can to better understand human creativity so we – together – can unleash its full potential.”

To sit down and clarify who you are, what you do and how you do it is so valuable as it gives you clarity, direction and focus.

I am lucky enough to have a wife who is a branding consultant so we can literally sit down at the dinner table and talk about these things, but I recommend every speaker to find someone to help them develop their brand.

In my case the spark to this year’s brand refresh came from my 8-year old son, so the lesson here really is that anything can spark an idea to re-work your brand. The important thing is that you harness those sparks and take the opportunity to take a re-look at your brand from time to time.

I am very happy that I did.

Defining myself as “The Creativity Explorer” has given me great positive energy.

In a way a good re-branding exercise is like coming out from a great session at the hairdresser: you are still yourself, but you feel fresher, more confident – more your real self than before.

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I do not normally share the CSR-projects of my business. But in this post I will do an exception and share some of my recent CSR-activities in the last month.

First of all: I call it “creative social responsibility”, well, because I speak on creativity and want to remind myself to do creative projects that help.

In the last few weeks we have done these projects (sample):

  • Environment. (Tree planting, Bintan)

A few weeks ago I took my family to Bintan, Indonesia to help plant mangrove trees off the coast of Bintan to help restore the local marine environment.

  • Pro-bono speeches (Boys’ Brigade.)

This Saturday I volunteered to speak for the Boy’s Brigade in Singapore. As a global speaker I find it important to get involved with the causes that are dear to the local community where I live. I was happy to be one of two speakers and to share the stage with the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Vivian Balakrishnan).

  • Find-your-voice (sponsor a deaf child)

Last week I  was in Manila and met with Julie Gutierrez Esguerra, an amazing woman who teaches deaf children how to talk and read lips. A perfect example of someone helping children “find their voice”. And I am happy to sponsor Julie’s school to give the gift of speech to more deaf children.

I am of the belief that as a global speaker the CSR-activities should be a mix of very local (picking up trash with our children where we live – which we did yesterday) via local community involvement (like speaking for Boy’s Brigade, to regional help (like the support of deaf children in the Phillipines, to global events (like supporting WorldVisions projects (which we also did last week.)

I also believe it should be a mix of giving of your time, giving with your heart and giving with your wallet.

How do you plan your CSR activities and what is your strategy around it?

IDEAS ISLAND.

One of my global CSR-project is Ideas Island (www.IdeasIsland.com) where I encourage creative people from around the world to apply to come and stay – for free – on one of my private islands (in Sweden) to work on their favourite creative project. (I encourage those who can to give a small amount to charity, but no money goes to me.)

Ideas Island is all about giving creative people a chance to experience the amazing feeling of sitting, by yourself, on an island where you can just focus on your own ideas. (I spend 2 months per year on my other island so I know the creative power that comes from being alone with your ideas on an island.)

If you are interested to get a chance to stay on Ideas Island this summer (we have a couple of free weeks that just opened up) I MIGHT be able to get you a spot. Email me on fredrik@fredrikharen.com and tell me who you are and why you think you should get to stay on Ideas Island to work on your creative project.

 

 

 

 

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I am by no means a social media expert but today I want to share about how a random LinkedIn post got more than 440,000 views, more than 4500 likes and 100+ shares and 100+ comments, and what my insight on that post is.

A few weeks ago I landed in Portugal and took a snapshot of a policeman helping people get the right taxi.

You can read the post here: https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6494340652027998208

It was a blurry photo, a few lines of text and I posted it without an after thought. And it went viral.

So why?

a) I think it triggered a sense of pride amongst the Portuguese.

b) The post is genuine in the appreciation of someone doing a job in a creative way.

c) It is not about the author, but about someone else.

d) It’s not written to be “viral”.

In other words: It was genuine.

I could have tried to do a flashy post, with hashtags and tried to write it in a way that would make people want to share it, and most likely nothing would have happened. (I know, since I have done posts like that where I thought I did “everything right” just to see the posts get no traction at all 😉

Now let me be clear: I am terrible at understanding how social media works, but I think the lesson about this post going viral can be useful for speakers too. People today want genuine, authentic real -life examples. Both on social media and in speeches.

Sure, the slick, polished, “perfect” speech with amazing graphics and videos and rehearsed stage performance can still work, but the genuine, authentic – human – speech is even more powerful.

Aim for that.

(And no, this post is not written to go viral, or to be seen as an example of what I am speaking about. It is just one of my weekly posts on ProfessionalSpeaking.com where I share my insights on the many aspects of building a professional speaking career.

And no, the viral post did not lead to booked speaking engagements, but it did lead to the policeman in question contacting me on Facebook as people where telling him about the post (!) and he gave me some more example of creative Portuguese police work that I am thinking of using in my upcoming book “The World of Creativity”. 😉

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