The speaking industry evolves as the world evolves. Speakers every day face a risk of relevance – a need to change with the times and make their message resonate with people. Dr. Nick Morgan, communications and public speaking expert at Public Words, has a great quote from someone he spoke with on his show, a piece of wisdom that teaches us how exactly speakers, or anyone for that matter, can adapt to and deal with a new situation where everything has to be started from scratch. He shares this and other fascinating insights on navigating change in the speaking world with Adam Markel. Dr. Nick also explains why speakers are “lonely extroverts” and how building a community of speakers helps mitigate the loneliness that speakers feel after their time on stage is over. Join in and learn how dealing with uncertainty, building resilience, and change-proofing works in the speaking business.
- 00:00 – How Dr. Nick found a deep interest in communication
- 03:33 – Utilizing the study of nonverbal communication to help people speak onstage
- 08:43 – Using body language and facial expressions to infuse variety into your speaking
- 12:10 – Why speakers are the loneliest, most extroverted people in the world
- 18:03 – Building a community of speakers
- 20:26 – How economic shifts affect the speaking industry
- 22:45 – Dr. Nick’s advice for speakers during the pandemic
- 27:46 – The risk of not being relevant
- 30:29 – Dr. Nick’s thoughts on uncertainty, change and resilience
- 33:56 – How to set up a structure that enables you to go through an unfamiliar situation when the rules have changed
- 39:14 –Dr. Nick’s interesting upcoming book project
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The Lonely Extrovert, The Risk Of Relevance, And Change-Proofing The Speaking Industry With Dr. Nick Morgan
On this show, I have a good friend, Dr. Nick Morgan. He’s one of America’s top communication speakers, theorists, and coaches. He is a passionate teacher. He is committed to helping people find clarity in their thinking and ideas and then delivering them with panache. He has been commissioned by Fortune 50 companies to write for many CEOs and presidents.
He’s coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear in the media and to deliver unforgettable TED Talks. He has worked widely with political and educational leaders. He himself has spoken, led conferences and moderated panels at venues around the world. During the last election cycle, he provided expert commentary on the presidential debates for CNN. Please welcome Dr. Nick Morgan.
Nick, as a seasoned speaker as you are, you hear your own introduction. That is a surreal and weird experience. At least it is for me to hear myself get introduced. What’s one thing that’s not part of your bio that you would love for people to know about you?
There are a number of things I would say, but the first thing that comes to mind is a story I have told, which is why I hesitated, but not as part of my bio. When I was seventeen, I was in a tobogganing accident and fractured my skull. I was in a coma for five days. During that time, I died and came back to life. My deep interest in communications evolved from then. I didn’t know it at the time, but I lost the ability to be able to read other people’s body language in the way that we all can when we know somebody.
When you have a friend, a colleague, a loved one, a family member, you look at them, and you can tell when they’re in a good mood or a bad mood. You’re used to the signs. Everybody’s a little different, but you know what the signs are. You can tell if they’re excited, unhappy or down in the dumps. We expect that as part of ordinary human conversation. We expect to be able to read each other. We sometimes get it wrong, but mostly we get it right.
I lost that ability. I couldn’t do it for about a year until I could retrain it. That made me fascinated with how much of that is not in the words themselves but in the attitude with which you deliver the words. It’s not a surprise. Everybody knows that. If I say, “Adam, it’s great to see you,” and I don’t sound excited, you get a funny message. If I say, “Adam, it’s great to see you,” and I seem excited, then it’s different. It’s reading those things in the intent behind the words that’s fascinating to me.
Having that taken away and then having to win it back or self-educate myself to get it back was a profound process for me. It took me a while to figure out how I could make a career out of it, but I’ve been fascinated ever since. I have this weird need or ability to read body language all the time in a conscious way. Most people read it unconsciously and that’s the efficient way to do it. Your unconscious mind immediately picks up on the intent. I also read it consciously because I had to relearn it. That gives me a funny perspective on humanity.
People reading this may already know of your work and for some, it’s the first time they’re being introduced to you. Let’s assume that folks don’t know about Public Words, your famous blog. How are you utilizing that study of non-verbal communication, of the body language, in helping speakers and people on stage regularly or even occasionally in their work and things? Do you use it as part of your training of people who speak publicly?
For instance, I had a call from a woman who was allowed by her boss to give a speech for the first time. He didn’t want to let her blossom as an employee. He wanted to keep doing all the rainmaking, but she insisted that she would leave if he didn’t give her this chance. He said, “You can take the next speech.” The next speech has 6,000 people at the annual industry conference.
She knew she’d been set up. He was hoping clearly that she would fail and never ask again. There was a lot going on in this consulting company, but she was determined to nail it. She said she was self-aware. She said, “I’m good at what I do in my consulting because I calm people down. I get them to work together. I create peace in the room. That’s my superpower. I’m guessing that’s not going to be great on a stage in front of 6,000 people.”
I said, “You can make a lot of choices on stage. There are a lot of things that work, but going quiet, peaceful probably isn’t going to be a great one. On the whole, you got to go big with 6,000 people. There are many exceptions and ways around it and so on and so forth, but you got to go big with 6,000 people. When you get a large group of people together, they want to laugh. They want to cry. They want to emote. They want to cheer. They want to root for their team. It’s why we love to go to sports events, music events, and things like that.
She said, “What am I going to do?” We only had a couple of weeks to get her ready. I said, “I’m going to do something I don’t usually do. I’m going to tell you to do a certain body language technique that’s going to get the audience to pay attention for 45 minutes, but you’re not going to like it. You’re going to think it’s weird.” She said, “What is it?” I said, “You’re going to hold your hands up here the entire time you give the talk for 45 minutes.”
She’s a polite woman. She said, “You’re expletive deleted crazy.” It took me a while to persuade her to try this. Why is that effective? She’s got her hands up this and she was convinced that I was crazy and that the audience would notice two minutes in. “Why is this weird speaker holding her hands up here?” She got the highest rating of the two-day conference of all the speakers and nobody in the response form said why it was weird you had your hands up.
The reason for that is we humans are not wired to care about people’s body language per se. What we care about is the intent behind the body language. We want to know what the body language is for what it can tell us about your intent or my intent. I want to be able to read you in that sense. I want to know. Do you mean what you’re saying? Are you being sarcastic? Are you being friendly? What’s the deal? What’s your intent toward me?
We don’t care about the body language per se unless it’s bizarre. This comes within the realm of fairly normal, believe it or not. She went out there for 45 minutes. She gave the whole talk, waving. She wasn’t holding them still, but she was gesturing. The funny thing about this is that it has become a norm for people who are good on Zoom and virtual video conferencing because it helps to see the hands. The hands create a sense of energy and engagement.
If we just have head and shoulders on the video conferencing that we’ve all gotten used to, and you keep your hands below the screen, then you’re cutting out a good 30% of your effectiveness as an emoter, as a high energy person. I’ve often been thinking about her and that speech. This was a few years before the pandemic. That’s how it can come up, but please don’t try this at home. It was a desperation move so that she would succeed in that speech with a calm, soothing, not dynamic personality. We couldn’t train her to be suddenly emotive, leaping, yelling, and screaming all over the stage. This was a Hail Mary pass, but it went well.Speakers are the most extroverted but also the loneliest people in the world. Click To Tweet
It’s almost like teaching her to be Italian. Talk with your hands. That’s fascinating. I would think certainly in training people who are speaking, training, or facilitating on Zoom that the hands are a key component of it. When you can’t see it, what is that trigger then? It’s your facial expression. There are only so many ways you can vary without seeming like you’re crazy. Vary your facial expression.
Although we sometimes will say to people, “If you want to create that dynamic range, which is so important in speaking, you are never quite predictable.” We talk about dynamics and dynamic variance. One way you can do it is simply to smile. If we both go to our resting face for a second, I always got people coming up to me when I was a kid going, “Adam, is everything all right?” You’re like, “Yes. Everything’s fine.” People are like, “Are you okay? Is everything right?” because I have resting sad face.
Most of us have that, too. It’s surprising and you’re right. The resting face can look pretty grim in many situations. I was working with a speaker who has incredibly high energy. He’s a lot of fun to work with. He’s going to be great out on the stage. His whole speech was screamed. I had to tell him, “What you want in a speech is like in an action movie. If the whole thing were done at top speed, if it was one endless car chase, you’d get bored after a while. You can only take so much of that.”
“That’s why a good action movie has periods of action followed by periods of relative calm. You’ve got to find a way to bring it down. At least a couple of times in the speech, give us a bit of variety so that the yelling and the passion come across as riveting and whatnot. Even that incredible high energy can get a bit dull after a while if you that’s all you get.”
If there’s no modulation, even that becomes predictable at a certain point.
I like the word predictable in that way because that’s exactly the problem. It’s not so much boring. It isn’t boring to be yelled at for an hour, but it is predictable.
We know that you’re battling whether it’s digitally in a format like this. Even in a room, you’re battling technology all the time because it’s vying for their attention. Invariably, it will win if you become the slightest bit predictable or you’re not able to create that bit of a rollercoaster experience for them. The thing that speakers experience that they don’t often talk and commiserate with other speakers is being a lonely extrovert. Will you pull us into that context for a second and explain what it means to be a lonely extrovert?
The up and down nature of a speaker or of any performer’s life is that we’re extroverted, unless you’re a member of a group of performers, and you have that community that goes with you. We love to get out there on stage and perform for people. Once it’s done, it’s back to the hotel room. You’re sitting there recovering, having dinner. Often as not, you’re on your own. You’ve suddenly gone from having been the center of attention and entertaining 500 or 1,000 people to a room full of one. That extreme does have an effect on people. It takes a balanced and stable personality to be able to handle that over the long-term. It is hard on people. We extroverts are the loneliest group in the world.
It is. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody talk about it until you mention it to me. We’re not alone. We always think we’re separate. It’s one of the great original issues we have in our lives, thinking somehow that we’re separate, only to find out ironically how similar and even alike as one we are in so many ways. With speakers, they’re seemingly on this bit of an island. There’s another thing that’s curious about that island. I spent eighteen years as a lawyer.
At a certain point, my business was thriving. It was, in part, not because I was a great advertiser or anything. Lawyers typically, on average, don’t do a lot of marketing and advertising, although they do more of it certainly than when I was practicing. I got a lot of repeat business. It was a referral business and people that you did a great job by didn’t start like, “Let me go try someone else out.” They knew what they were getting. If they were happy with it, then they would come back to you. Speaking is so different, isn’t it, Nick?
That’s right. You speak at a conference, an association’s annual meeting, or a company’s annual meeting and the last thing in the world they want then is to get you back again because they’ve heard your message. It’s like seeing a movie twice. They don’t feel the need to do it. You’re constantly chasing the next thing. It also suggests a way in which we speakers can work together. One thing I frequently coach people to do is to partner up with at least one other person, but preferably a group.
After you spoke in a place, and they’ve paid you some nice compliments, you can say, “This other guy or gal would be great. He or she gives this speech and talks about this issue. Why don’t you think about hiring them?” When that’s genuine and real, it’s helpful for the conference and the company, too. Every year, they’re in the position of having to reinvent that annual meeting or that quarterly meeting. That’s a good thing for us all to do. It points up another part of the business, which is a little strange, a little cockeyed. In most businesses, if you do good work, you get rehired.
With lawyers or accountants, maybe other areas, there’s a competition which is the idea that, “If I win a client, I win business, I wouldn’t want to share that business with someone outside my organization, because then they could win the business away from me.” There’s this scarcity mentality about it. With speaking, there isn’t that competition and this is the curious part. We might think somehow that we are still competing like we would in other spaces, but with speaking there, there isn’t.
It’s shocking on some level that there isn’t more collaboration that you’re speaking about. A community where that bit of wisdom is shared and acknowledged might help. You are in some stage of facilitating a community for speakers, paid public speakers, seasoned, experienced speakers and maybe even some junior folks, is that right?
Yes. I started the group at the beginning of 2022. We’re getting underway. The idea is to create a network of people who know and understand each other’s work so that they can quickly and easily be a word-of-mouth recommendation network. We’re bringing in the speakers from the industry to tell us about what’s going on and what they think the future will be like.
There are a lot of questions, for example, about how fast are we going back to in-person work versus continued hybrid arrangements? What does a speaker have to do? What’s the smart thing to do? Is it to invest $50,000 in a home studio and be ready to go virtual? Is it better to get back out on the road? What are all these various options?As a speaker, you have to give people the sense that they get something there that they can't get anywhere else in quite the same way. Being a speaker is an opportunity to meet an audience and change the way they see the world. Click To Tweet
It’s an interesting time to be a speaker and to be watching the industry come back. It’s similar to what happened after 2001 after 9/11 and 2008, 2009 after the economic meltdown. The speaking business went away for about 9 months after 9/11. For a year to one and a half year, and in some areas, up to two years after 2008, 2009, and watching it come back, this has a real déjà vu feeling this time around. It’s interesting to be able to talk about and get the best brains together to figure out how it’s going to fly.
What is the name of the community?
It’s the Public Words Hub. If you go to our PublicWords.com website, you can see a link to it there and you can apply to join. We want you to have some speaking experience, but you can be pretty much at any stage of your speaking career.
What’s the advice that you could give to someone who’s speaking? Do you think speaking is similar to the way realtors in good times when mortgage rates are low, real estate prices are high, there’s a good market, and there are lots of real estate agents? When the market turns, it goes in the other direction. People in the real estate business tend to go do other things for some time. They come in and go out. Do you think speaking is like that during the pandemic? People may have left the profession at least temporarily or so?
It’s rather the opposite. In 2008, 2009, as the economic world melted down, a lot of people got laid off and thought, “As another career, as a second career, why don’t I try speaking? I’ve got a lot of industry expertise. I could start doing this for a living.” People look at that hour on the stage and they know you can get a pretty nice paycheck for their hour. They think, ” This is a great business. I only have to work for an hour. I get a great paycheck and I’m done.”
They don’t see all the prep work and the other hours leading up to that. By the time you get that hour’s paycheck, you’ve earned it from all the other hours you’ve had to put in getting ready. The speaking business after 2008 and 2009 both boomed itself. There were many more opportunities and there was also a lot more competition. The same thing is going to happen again.
In terms of the people who have been in the industry for time and are experiencing yet another cycle change. Some things maybe could have been expected. Some things about the future work maybe weren’t expected and the like. What’s the best advice? It’s not necessarily one single thing. I don’t want to imply that somehow there’s one piece of advice. If you’re giving advice and you invite people to come on your show to speak about the business itself and the industry, what’s one or more pieces of advice that you think is sage for speakers of any level of experience at this point given where we are?
Do you mean capitalize on the business and get yourself launched for the future?
Yes, and maybe it’s a separate answer. The idea that somebody’s been a seasoned speaker, but let’s say the deal flow, the leads that they’ve got are not what they were before the pandemic as an example.
The business is going to boom, but it’s going to be a slow ramp-up. Take one of the simple phenomena that are affecting us here is a lot of travel budgets are cut back during the pandemic. Once you’ve cut back a travel budget, then it takes an act of will on the part of the executive team to say, “Let’s put that money back in there.” As a matter of form and budgeting, a number of come companies work on a physical year that starts in July. I don’t think you’re going to see a full return of travel budgets until the second half of 2022.
There are some companies that work on a calendar year and so on and so forth. Some are adding in travel budgets. They are coming back, but it’s going to take a while. It’s a big flywheel industry in business. It takes a while for it to get cranking back up again. People have to feel safe too to conferences and to feel like they can travel easily. It can’t be too much of a hassle. There are still some ways in which it can be challenging. All those things have to come back and then it will boom.
The nature of a speech is that you have to give people the sense that they get something there that they can’t get anywhere else in quite the same way. The advantage of a speech is it’s a live exchange of meaning, information, and persuasion. You can genuinely change people at the moment. That is the value. The thrill of being a speaker is the opportunity to meet an audience and change the way they see the world on a good day.
Every speaker needs to know why their message matters now. You’re not just giving them some information about some subject in the abstract. It has to matter now. Speeches are creatures of time. They have to be topical. A good question to ask yourself as you’re getting ready to start speaking again or speaking more is, “Why is my speech or message important now?”
Everybody needs to crisp up, revise, or freshen their speech and their messaging to make sure that it answers that question. The world has changed. The pandemic changed us. The post-pandemic area is going to be different, and we don’t know precisely what that’s going to look like yet. The job of experts in areas of various kinds of knowledge is to figure that out and to say, “This is what AI is going to look like going forward. This is what software is going to look like going forward. This is what leadership is going to look going forward.”
Roughly a third of all speaking engagements are leadership-related. That’s what people who hire you to speak are looking for. It’s the single most common area. Leadership changed over the pandemic. What’s it going to look like going forward? It’s going to be quite different. You need to know that as a speaker. You have to have a sharp message that’s focused on what’s different now. Why is this message relevant now?
I so appreciate that insight. There’s relevancy risk. I was having a conversation with a client who hired us. This is a conservative group of folks that are risk-averse. Some of what they’ve been avoiding are certain risks, not wanting to make mistakes, that risk avoidance. They’re shifting to whether or not this group of people that’s been around, thanks to the US government, for about 105 years, they’re seeing that there’s the risk of not being relevant going forward.Resilience is here to stay. Click To Tweet
Relevancy is a big deal. It’s a little self-serving to bring this up, but it was fortuitous. I wrote a book called Pivot. When that book came out, it hit some metrics. It did well, bestseller and all that stuff, but people were a bit put off by the term pivot because it implied mistake and somehow meant that this was a vulnerability and not everybody was keen to embrace that. It was a little before its time. We’ve had a book come out called Change Proof. You had a chance to look at that, too.
That is meeting the moment a little bit differently. The book is about how it is that we leverage the power of uncertainty, interestingly enough, as a catalyst for growth and to produce resilience ultimately. That message, to your point, is being well received because there’s a lack of understanding or people are feeling tired and worn out and not understanding how it is that they fill their tanks back up.
Resilience in that concept means a moment now pretty well. Going forward, there’s some risk that companies go back. You get a lot of people thinking about it, talking about it, working on it, and getting a speaker in when there’s chaos. When the seas calm down and things return to “normal,” then we won’t need resilience. You’ll need that topic which is surprising. You’ve had a chance to check out the book for probably a minute. Do you think that this is something that’s going to have a shelf life that is tied to a crisis? Is your sense that resilience is more of an operationalized concept, more of a hard skill, than something more ephemeral or temporal?
Resilience is here to stay. You’re onto something. It’s a whole industry now. A couple of good books years ago introduced the concept for the first time. It’s something that you see now through all ages, in all walks of life. Parents are keen to get their kids to be more resilient. Employers are keen to get their employees to be more resilient. Those of us in relationships want our spouses or significant others to be more resilient when we’re not at our best, and so on.
The need for resilience is not going to go away. This is the result of something the pandemic accelerated like a lot of other trends but was there already. It’s hard to remember, but the discussion in the business world in 2018 and 2019 was all about change in innovation and, “How can I get my employees to embrace change, constant change, and continual change?” For that, you need resilience.
That’s not going to go away when the pandemic is well and truly done, as we all hope it will be, when we return to something that’s post-normal or so-called normal. We’ll still be dealing with change. It will become part of our everyday experience in ways that we’ll still need. We will desperately need resilience. Do not allow yourself to be talked out of relevancy in this one because it’s going to be important. We’re just getting started.
We all have to be change proof.
We’re getting started on the speed of change. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if anybody feels the last years have been a little chaotic and there is a lot of wariness out there and feeling of, “I’ve been handling stress for a long time. When am I going to get a break?” I’m afraid not. What’s going to happen is things that have been put on hold during the pandemic are simply going to start accelerating again as soon as we feel like we’re done. You haven’t seen anything yet in terms of the speed of change. We’re going to be on a high-speed train to the future in ways that the pandemic slowed down for us for a bit, and ours are starting to cease doing that now.
This is the final question. You have this show. I am a routine listener. I’m a huge fan of that work and the people that you bring on. I’ve been honored to be a guest on that show. We’ve got a second show that’s coming out at some point soon. What’s the most interesting answer as you sit here at this moment as you go through the catalog in your brain of how God knows many episodes at this point? Is there one answer from a standpoint that surprised you? It was interesting. It was so wise. You can use a person’s name or not. It’s up to you. I’m curious if an answer to that question stands out for you.
They’re all wonderful. You were wonderful. All the guests are great. However, there is one that stood out. It’s because it was early in the pandemic when we still didn’t know what was going on. If you were to recall, everybody thought at first that it was going to last a couple of weeks. We realized the calendar is telescoping outward here where this isn’t a couple of weeks. We don’t know how long it’s going to be, but it isn’t a couple of weeks. We’ve got to recalibrate and figure out how we’re going to get in this for some long term of uncertain duration.
I had a person on who was a speaker and a friend who might met a little bit but didn’t know well. I asked her what best prepared her for dealing with this pandemic and her answer surprised me. She said she’d been in the Peace Corps and the Peace Corps teaches you how to drop into a place you’ve never been before. Maybe you’ve had a little prep in terms of the language and the culture, but it’s all new to you. You’ve got to create a structure around yourself so going forward, you can be of service to the people in the community that you are in.
It’s up to you to create that structure. That means figuring out what your week will look like and how you’re going to build up the necessary things that you need to support you as you go along. All of this was immediately irrelevant to the pandemic. It was like how when you’re dropped into a new situation where the rules are all suddenly changed. You’re not quite sure how long it’s going to last or what it’s going to look like. How do you set up a structure that will enable you to get through that?
Her answer was brilliant because she said, “You need a weekly structure. You need a monthly structure. You need to set yourself rules and things you do some days and other days.” This is the part that I love. She said, “One day a week, Sunday, or whatever day you want to pick, break the rules. Don’t do exactly what you’d planned to do. Every now and then, do that because to keep a routine, to keep structure, that’s a good thing, but humans crave that variety and that change to keep them engaged and keep them bought into the structure.” I thought that was brilliant. That was enormously helpful during the pandemic, especially those early days. That’s my favorite answer.
You think about how it is that you handle any situation that is the unknown. How do you handle the unknown? What is it that serves us well? When there’s no structure, that becomes the status quo. “There’s no structure here. I’m in chaos. I’m producing cortisol in fear of this uncertainty.” Yet here’s somebody that says, “We got dropped in here and there. We create our own structure out of no structure.” It’s a phenomenal lesson in business and life.
I want to know what you are enthusiastic about as we finish up our conversation here. We’ve known each other not terribly long, but a little while. I’ll make this assessment. You’re pragmatic. That’s how I would describe you. You’re not optimistic, certainly not pessimistic, just nice down the middle. It is a good harmony of the extremes. I don’t know if I got that right or wrong, but I’d like to know what it is you’re pragmatically enthusiastic about in your life or in your business at this moment.
I do think of myself as an idealistic realist pragmatist and do what’s got to be done. I’m excited to be starting work on a new book. It’s some years off. This is a big project, but I’ve been working on and working with some people on the voice. All of that means both technically what speakers do with their voices as well as that more cosmic sense of when somebody speaks with a full voice and everybody stops and listens like an Oprah or a singer who sings with a full voice like Adele or somebody like that.Don't do exactly what you had planned to do. Keeping a routine or a structure is a good thing, but humans also crave variety and change just to keep them engaged and bought into the structure. Click To Tweet
When they open their mouths, 150% of their power comes out. It’s rare. We notice it when it happens. I’m trying to figure out how we can talk about that, help people make that happen, and make everybody’s voices stronger in both the technical sense and the soul sense, the individual human sense. Ultimately, that’s what’s most important. We all have a chance to have our full voices and for other people to hear them in this crazy quilt community we live in.
Nick, I so appreciate you, your time, the wisdom you shared with our folks and our friendship, which is still budding. I appreciate that as well. Thanks for propping up the book and giving it a read and just for the person that you are in the world. I look forward to where our paths continue to cross in the future.
Thank you. It’s great pleasure every day.
Thank you. We would love to hear from all of you as well. Your comments are so welcome. You can go to AdamMarkel.com/Podcasts. Leave a comment there. We would love it. If you think somebody who’s out there would enjoy reading this conversation, please share it. Subscribe to the channel, all the good stuff, to help us get the word out. We appreciate the support greatly. For now, I’ll say ciao.
I have loved the conversation with Dr. Nick Morgan. Nick is a wise man. I feel fortunate to call him a friend. We talked about lonely extroverts, if you’re curious. What a concept. I’ve never heard that before. It so struck me as, in many ways, there is tremendous loneliness in the world as a result of the pandemic. In particular, when we’re speaking about this industry of paid public speaking, there is a lot of our people who are situational extroverts.
We get on stage, rile up the crowd, share insights, create laughter and moments for emotions, and thinking differently. It’s one of the great joys that I have ever experienced. Yet there’s also this loneliness that comes when you’re back in your hotel room, all by yourself. The crowd isn’t there and nobody’s cheering. You can’t see the looks on people’s faces as you’re doing your thing. That was quite interesting.
We talked about some things, too, that were unexpected, including how it is that a veteran of the Peace Corps expressed learning how to adapt to the situation that you were put in. The Peace Corps resembles, in many ways, how we have to learn how to adapt to the situations that are happening in our world, whether it’s been the pandemic, the ongoing aftermath of the pandemic, and the clear acceleration of so many things going into the future.
We talked about the fact that change is ever-present. It’s not enough to recognize that change is happening but to move toward how we embrace this constant, this continual, this ever-present, never-ending change that will only continue to accelerate in the future. In fact, the pandemic may have even slowed it up. That’s shocking enough.
To think of it from the perspective of what people learn when they’re in the Peace Corps, they have to create from a new situation, from something that has no structure and new rules even, to be able to create the structure and the rules to adapt and deal with the new situation. People who are working in the Peace Corps and get sent to various places around the world to assist have to create everything from scratch. That becomes the norm.
There are no rules or no structure, to begin with. You have to replace or fill that space with structure and rules. Ultimately, you remember not only the weekly and the monthly structures that you put in place. You should also remember that what we crave as human beings is sometimes to break the rules. You have to have one day a month, let’s say, where you don’t keep the rules and the structure because we crave that difference, that differentiation, and that variance.
I loved hearing Nick talk about that. He also had two pieces of advice. We have an opportunity as communicators in the world to change people’s perceptions of the world. We have this wonderful opportunity to change how people see things. At the same time, it’s sage wisdom to evaluate why the message you want to share is relevant now, not just, “What do you want to say, or what does it matter? Why does what you have to say matter now?”
That relevancy and the risk of not being relevant is so profoundly important. That resonated with me. It’s not because of the content that we’re continually creating, curating, and sharing about change, resilience, etc., but in my personal life, being someone in my 50s and wanting more than almost anything else to be relevant, to continue to have relevancy in the world.
There’s so much that feels right about that. To feel alive is to feel as though you’re contributing something valuable. We have to do that fresh every day. We can’t live on yesterday’s demonstrations, let yesterday’s successes even, as we must be relevant, fresh, and provide value each day. This makes every day quite an opportunity, quite interesting, and also a challenge for many. I love this conversation with Dr. Nick Morgan. You probably will gain so much from learning from him. We would love to hear comments, as always. Share your thoughts with friends and family who may benefit as well. We’ll see you in the next episode.
- Public Words
- Change Proof
About Dr. Nick Morgan
Dr. Nick Morgan is one of America’s top communication speakers, theorists and coaches. A passionate teacher, he is committed to helping people find clarity in their thinking and ideas – and then delivering them with panache. He has been commissioned by Fortune 50 companies to write for many CEOs and presidents. He has coached people to give Congressional testimony, to appear in the media, and to deliver unforgettable TED talks. He has worked widely with political and educational leaders. And he has himself spoken, led conferences, and moderated panels at venues around the world. During the last election cycle, he provided expert commentary on the presidential debates for CNN.