I own almost 100 pairs of sneakers, of which 40 are limited edition and each having increased in value by at least 50%; yet, it’s the boxes themselves that have proved to be the most valuable! The last pair I ordered was 18 months ago, during which time much has changed, and my Macbook now often sits, perfectly balanced, on one of these shoe boxes – an effortless asset for my online presentations.
This high-tech piece of equipment has delivered amazing results for me – reinforcing my belief that sometimes even the most basic of items can result in success, as long as you can think outside the box… no pun intended! Leveraging this simple technique has allowed me to record my most successful period since starting my professional speaking career less than two years ago, and during a time of uncertainty, where the limitations of not being physically in front of any audience – one of my key roles – has been enforced.
On my first day as Chatterbox, I worked on the very corner of my dining room table complaining about the lack of space. I was so used to working in an open plan office with my own desk, monitors and accessories, this just felt like a complete step back; but, my wife then told me this, “Don’t just see it as a corner, you have the entire dining table to work with,” – that’s when I realised that my desk space was actually over two metres long, giving me plenty of room to operate, plan and build my vision. I’ve learned to apply that mindset with everything I do and how to leverage what I already have to make it work for me. Thinking this way has also taught me to discipline myself – a trait I have always had, but I am now able to look at it from a new perspective.
I have always been obsessively disciplined about my day. I wake up at the same time – 5.45am – even on weekends, and have a stringent meditation, diet and training routine. I realised I had to take my discipline to the next level, which meant minimising any distractions. When you’re working from home, it’s quite easy to start browsing your social channels, YouTube, watch TV and just slack off. If I feel I need a break, my distractions include listening to podcasts, speech practice or if I really need to watch something, TED Talks. My finely tuned training and diet regime have made the process easier as I can apply these same disciplines to my external activities, like networking.
Networking and Language
Networking means constantly speaking to many people, which is especially important when you are presenting at an event and are the featured guest speaker. It’s important to be conscious of your language because, what you say, can leave a lasting impression. I have consciously stopped using words like “but”, “I am so flat out” and “can’t wait for this to week to end,” and instead use more positive words like, “however”, “I’m well balanced” and “I’m having an excellent week” – I realised by doing this it results in more upbeat and encouraging conversations leading to strong relationships and great networks. You end up meeting people who become excellent contacts, resources and friends, who all offer different perspectives on life and business.
I have faced many challenges during my speaking career but have worked through them thanks to some terrific people who afford me their time. These are now people who I regularly speak to, bounce ideas off and collaborate with, and whenever I’m faced with a new challenge, I seek perspectives from these people, all of whom I greatly respect.
Kerrie Allen, Amy Jacobson, Simon Stibbs, Rael Bricker CSP, Suzanne Waldron, Dave Clare, Luke Menezies, Guilliam Oberholster, my wife, Rutchi, and my long time friend Adam Quigley – they tell it like it is, they empathise when it’s appropriate, they challenge me, cut through the bullshit and know how to deliver their messages in a way that I need to hear it. These perspectives have made me a more confident person, reinforcing my belief in my abilities. Whenever I listen to their advice, I adapt to it, and thanks to their guidance and mentorship, it’s made me think deeply and carefully about what I do and how I serve my audience – this has in turn, inadvertently, made me a content creator.
Creating a niche has meant focusing on the one thing I really wanted to do – public speaking, and excelling at it. I needed to be seen, heard and recognised as a speaker and speaker coach and, to do that, I needed to aggressively re-brand myself and breakaway from the commercial fitout industry. One way of doing this was by leveraging social media and sharing content.
I have never been a fan of social media, however I have realised that I need to embrace it and strategically use social platforms to generate exposure. Through LinkedIn and Instagram I have consistently shared content around my journey, advice, lessons learnt, my networking, achievements and speaking events. I have learned to balance photo, video and written content and, through storytelling, shared my experiences in ways I feel the audience can relate to – which has worked out quite well!
So what does all of this have to do with a shoe box? Well, I’ve delivered over 50 online presentations in the last 12 months, with over half of these in just the last three months (!) being done using my Macbook balanced on a Nike Air Force One shoe box. I even recorded my – ahem – ‘famous’ rap video using this technique! It’s a winning piece of equipment and proof that you don’t need any fancy gear to build your vision and reach your goals – you just have to want it, obsess over it, surround yourself with the right people, get creative and leverage whatever you have to work with, even if it is a shoe box!