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Ten days ago I had the privilege of being the closing speaker at the Professional Speakers Summit – the first ever professional speakers summit in India. More than 150 speakers from all over India (and the world) met in Chennai to learn from each other.

As the closing keynote speaker I had to close the convention with a speech on how to become a global keynote speaker. But I also wanted to communicate a deeper message – a message of the value of putting into action the things the audience would have learnt at the convention.

So I decided to show – instead of just telling.

On the first day of the convention another speaker, the amazing professional photographer Amar Ramesh, had talked about the need for professional speakers to have a professional appearance such as hiring a stylist, having professional head-shots and a great showreel video.

Hearing him speak I went up to him and booked him right after his speech to do my 2019 headshot photos (Amar is one of the most respected portrait and wedding photographers in India and it seemed a great chance to have him take my new headshot pictures.) But I noticed very few other speakers went up and booked him.

So the second day of the conference at 8 am I had an idea:

I called Amar and asked him to bring his stylist to the convention.

 

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At 9:00 the stylist came and took my measurements.

At 11:00 his hair stylist came and cut my hair.

At 3 pm I went to get the new Indian clothes fitted that the stylist had picked for me as they would fit to speak to an Indian audience.

At 5 pm I walked up on stage in a new outfit, with a new haircut and I told the audience: “The purpose of attending a speakers’ convention is not to just get inspiration and/or knowledge, but to turn that inspiration/knowledge to action, just like I took Amar’s advice about getting a stylist and one day later walked up here to you styled in a new outfit.”

The audience loved it.

Not only because I was standing in front of them in an Indian outfit, but because I “walked the talk”, I SHOWED in my actions the thing I was talking about. And I connected to the previous speakers from the convention by connecting to their messages in my speech. And finally they loved it because it showed that I had improvised and changed my speech based on what had happened during the conference – ie I had been paying attention.

If you are the closing speaker, make sure you are open to change your speech based on what happens before you speak.

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I have been getting a lot of comments on my way of balancing travelling the world to speak with having plenty of time off for my kids, so I thought I would share some insights of how – and why – I work like I do to hopefully inspire you to work differently for a better quality of life.

I call it: The work ethic of a lion.

But first some background:

I am a global keynote speaker. In the first six months of 2018 I have been invited to speak in UK, France, Malta, Mauritius, India, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, HK, Oman, Indonesia, Italy, China, Norway and New Zealand. That is 15 countries on 4 continents (Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania) in six months.

In the same time I have had a lot of time off. For example: A week in San Francisco to attend a friends wedding and visit family. A weekend in Wellington, New Zealand to visit a good friend – and almost 60 (!) days on my private island in Sweden spending time with my family. I am also on 50% paternity leave at the moment as my kids are young, which means I spend a lot of time at home with them, bringing them to school, playing with them and so on.

So how can I balance traveling the world to speak with so much time off? The answer is to think and work like a lion.

Now, when I say that I have come to understand that most people misunderstand what I mean. They think that I am somehow promoting a “alpha male” approach to work/life.

I am not.

Actually, you might almost say that I am promoting the opposite of an “alpha male” approach to work/life.

So first let’s get this “lion=alpha male” misunderstanding out of the way.

The reason for why so many people interpret “lion” to mean “alpha male” is most likely because the lion has been depicted as “king of the jungle” and “king of beasts” in society and because male lions have been popular symbol for royalty and stateliness.

But lion prides are not run by a Alpha male at all. Prides are run by a group – of females…

“In the typical African pride, the females form the core (…) The females in the pride are generally related to one another since they usually remain in the same pride for such a long time.  Due to this permanence, a lion pride can be said to be a matriarchal social structure.” (source.)

So now when we got that myth of the dominating Lion King out of the way let’s study how lions actually approach “work”.

Behaviour and ecology

Lions spend much of their time resting; they are inactive for about 20 hours per day. Although lions can be active at any time, their activity generally peaks after dusk with a period of socialising, grooming and defecating. Intermittent bursts of activity continue until dawn, when hunting most often takes place. They spend an average of two hours a day walking and 50 minutes eating.

(Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion)

Or in other words: They hardly work at all… and when they DO work, they do it in short, energetic bursts.

A lion can only keep its maximum speed of 60kph for more than a 100 – 200m. Lions rely on stalking their prey and seldom charge until they are within 30m, unless the prey is facing away and cannot see the charge.

And that is how I work too.

Not only in my actual work as a keynote speaker. (If a lion’s maximum speed is 60 kmh, my maximum length of being great on stage is 60 minutes… I do not do long one-day seminars or even half day seminars, I do short 40-60 minute keynote speeches.)

But I have the same approach to all work.

Short bursts of high energy, focused, and targeted “hunting” for speeches.

Today I have been following up on a speech in Peru, a speech in Vietnam, and a speech in Saudi Arabia.

The first email was 2 lines long. The second was 10 lines long and the third one was 3 lines long.

I also initiated a email to a website for event managers in a country suggesting they should write about me. (It looks like they will.) Length of that email? 3 lines.

I try to keep emails short and to the point.

Come to think of it I do almost everything short and to the point.

When I do get a speech I do not use contracts which reduces admin time, I invoice once a month to bundle up invoice work to one, short instance. I invoice once, not twice like most speakers who invoice 50% upon signing of contract. That reduces admin work around invoicing by half. And so on.

I am terrible at networking with people for the sake of networking. But if I do come across a person who is interested in – or could be of high interest for – a speech I make sure to connect right away.

Today is a perfect example of a “working day”. It’s a normal Wednesday and I started it at 9 am with 90 minutes of exercise. Then played with my kids until lunch (they invented a “children’s olympic that they wanted dad to be part of on their last day before school starts for them), then lunch before I went for a 90 minute massage. Did some shopping and back home at 5 pm. Checked emails for one hour. Then dinner with family and put kids to sleep. From 8-10 check some more emails and write this post.

Full disclosure: my inbox is a little bit too big at the moment after spending 24 hours traveling from Europe to Asia this week and I have about 50 emails to reply to, but I will get up to speed by tomorrow.

As you can tell, not much work.

I know speakers who wake up at 7 AM. Work all day according to a detailed schedule where they follow a process and build elaborate systems.

Nothing wrong with that, but I call them “bulls”. Just like a bull who spends all his day eating grass these people spend all day working on “work stuff”.

But I am not a bull, I am a lion.

If I am not out hunting I am resting.

You might want to say “that’s easy for you to say who has been doing this for 20 years”, but the fact is that I have always had this approach to speaking and work from the day I started speaking way back in 1995 as a 27-year old.

The thing to understand here is that WHEN I work I do it all in and full on.

 

Rules for working like a lion:

  • Quality over quantity when it comes to choosing work tasks. (Prioritise like a lion)
  • When you decide to do some work, make sure it’s crucial or impactful – or enjoyable. (Focus like a lion)
  • When you do work, do what you have to do fast, fierce and committed . (Sprint like a lion)
  • When not working, think about what you really should be working on when you do decide to work. (Stalk like a lion)
  • After a work-sprint do not jump straight to the next task – take a long break (Rest like a lion)
  • Help other speakers as much as you can, what goes around comes around. (collaborate like a lion, ie the opposite of the Alpha male trying to push everyone else away.)
  • Prioritise life, not work. (Live like a lion)

Could I be a much more successful speaker if I dedicated myself to working long hours filled with dedicated work? Most likely, but just like a lion only hunts the food that it needs to eat, I also choose to only go after the work I need to do so that I can go back to my “den” and see my children grow up.

I yes, I am aware of the story about the “The Tortoise and the Hare”, and it’s important to understand that lions survive due to their ability to condense their hunting to a swift, determined and focused activity. They are lazy most of the time, but when they do hunt they hunt like, well, like lions.

And a lion that hunts in a half-inspired, half-motivated, jogging matter will die quickly.

So final rule:

When you do decide to work, be unforgiving in what you go after. (Hunt. Like a lion)

 

Done right it’s the perfect way to work.

And remember:

The bull keeps grinding away all day eating grass.

The lion rests all day. Then eats the bull.

 

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Used right the word “resolution” is powerful.

But I think most people use it wrong.

The word “resolution” means: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”

But many people seem to look at a a New Year Resolution more like a dream, almost a wish, something we hope will happen.

“I am going to loose 10 kg (I hope…)”
“I am going to (try to quite smoking, (again)…”
And so on.

But a resolution is not a vision to hope for – it’s a firm decision to do something.

And some also seem to think that a resolution limits our options because it somehow would hinder us from changing our mind in the future as some new opportunities might arise, or the world might change.

But to not take a decision, to always be standing in a crossroads keeping our “options open”, and being “flexible” means that we never start to walk down any path.
And that means we never get anywhere.

And to be clear, making a firm decision does NOT mean that you can not re-evaluate your decision later on. To me it just means that you make a decision that you really, strongly believe in.

There comes a time when we need to make a firm decision, choose a road and walk down it.

And when we do we usually feel much better.

You see the word “resolution comes from the Latin “resolvere” which means to “loosen” and to “release”.

If your New Year Resolution doesn’t make you feel a sense of “release”, is not making you excited, inspired and feel like a stone has been lifted from your shoulders then I think it is safe to say that your resolution was the wrong one.

My resolution as a professional speaker in 2017 is to dive deep into the world of online marketing.

I have made a firm decision to study it, learn it, understand – and, yes: master it.

Not because I feel that it is “trending”.
Not because everyone else seems to be doing it already.
Not even because I think that I need it for my business (If you follow this blog you know that I believe that as a speaker the only marketing you need is to make such great speech that at least two people come up to you after the speech and ask to book you for their conference…)

And not because it is a topic I am speaking on or thinking of speaking in (it is not)

No, but because I fell in love with Internet Marketing more than 20 years ago.

Internet Marketing was the first thing I was an expert on, the first thing I really knew as a professional – and the first thing I spoke on.

I wrote my first book – called “Internet and Marketing” way back in 1995 (Time flies!!) and because almost no-one in 1995 knew anything about the Internet I became, at the age of 27-years, an “expert”, which led to invitations to speak at conferences. And so my career as a professional speaker was born.

Over the years I got interested in other things and my love and interest for online marketing subsided, for some reason.

This year I have decided to revive that old love of mine.

And in deciding to do so I feel inspired, excited and full of energy.

Will it make me better as a speaker? I doubt it.

Will it help my speaking business? Probably.

But I am doing it because I want to do something outside my focus on my speaking and the topics I speak on that would add some inspiration to my day.

I guess you can say I have gone back to one of my old hobbies. 😉

When I see the new year fireworks I see a symbol of the power of firm decisions: Someone made a firm decision to light the fuse of that small fire-rocket and the result is a beautiful, sparkling artwork in the sky.

What is your firm decision that you have taken for this year that will make you better as a speaker, better as a business person, better as a person – or just generally something that will inspire you more each day?

What fireworks are you setting of inside your mind this year?

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