Nick Morgan, author of Trust Me: 4 Steps to Authenticity and Charisma talked last week about his book, the 4 steps, what they are, why they work for...everybody.
Nick should know.
Nick and his business, Public Words, has been helping people tell their stories, tell them well, with conviction, in their real voice...for a long time.
Read the testimonials. He’s helped top authors, people we all love to hear speak openly and passionately with charisma, authenticity and who we...trust, immediately. And he’s worked with brands, big brands, to help them better...reveal their true passions and convictions.
Nick? How are you? Thanks for being on the show. I don’t encourage stalkers, but where are you, what project are you working on?
We are based in Boston and getting ready to put on a conference in June which will bring together speaking industry insiders. There is a great need for better information in the industry and how to move forwards.
Let’s talk about your book: Trust Me: 4 Steps to Authenticity and Charisma. I like the title. It’s almost challenging the prospective buyer. Who came up with it?
That was my wife and business partner.
You write about a breakthrough that formed the basis of this book. What was that breakthrough?
It came from me because of my involvement and fascination with all of the brain research that has been going on for the past 10 years or so. I read about a particular one which was so interesting. It was about a woman out from the University of Chicago who was working with very young students to help them and their teachers figure out the best teaching model. She found that some students and teachers were learning non-verbally. I realized there must be more that we need to understand better – apply it more rigorously and thoughtfully to communications.
My friend, Erika Andersen crafted a concept I love in her book Being Strategic. That’s the concept of reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future. What was your reasonable aspiration or hoped-for future for writing this book?
I had coached our clients for many years in the world of public speaking to worry about individual gestures, certain ways you might stand, and things you do in front of an audience. When you try to bring those activities which are normally unconscious to the conscious brain, the conscious brain gets overwhelmed and can’t handle them. When you coach someone to stand up and out in a powerful way, it is too much work for the conscious brain, so I was looking for a more wholistic way for them to do this. I wanted to create a coaching method to make this simpler for people.
How will you know when you have reached it? What’s the change in your life you’ll see?
When I hear people say that the first step is to be open which is the first step of the four.
Who is your reader? As you wrote this book did you have a persona of your desired reader in mind?
The business person, leader or middle manager who wants to show up with some passion in the workplace and figure out how to that without being fake. We crave authenticity. I wanted to help cut out the clutter and marketing stuff and teach them how to show up with some passion.
Why do they need this book?
Most of us don’t know how we come across while others are unnecessarily shy or hold ourselves back in meetings. There is that idea that your side of it is not getting a fair hearing or you are not getting the attention you deserve in business world or anywhere.
We have 10 million unconscious neurons for every 1 million conscious neurons. So we have this huge unconscious brain that is working to evaluate the environment around us, ascertain if there are threats and figure out if that person we see is friend or foe. Our conscious brain gets overloaded and can’t compete with everything. Our unconscious brain is always making decisions for us in ways we are not always aware of.
When you have the idea in the meeting, wondering if you should raise your hand, is my question stupid, will people laugh... If you do speak up, you speak up with a mixture of emotions. Everyone else’s conscious brain picks up on these emotions. The people in the audience who would normally listen to you may write you off because you are displaying that set of mixed emotions. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have signaled that to them.
What are the 4 steps to authenticity and charisma?
1. Being Open
Being impatient, can I skip one and still get there?
No. They are 4 easy natural steps but you must do them in that order.
The first step is being open. If you are not open to your audience, then nothing after that can happen.
Once we are open then we can connect.
If we are connected, we can allow the passion to come through.
Once there is passion, then we want to listen.
Think about this first step in an audience. As soon as you begin to speak, your unconscious mind says danger and we have evolved to check out the environment and your body starts to send out signals to go into danger mode – a defensive crouch. Your body gets ready for fight or flight. The audience then responds with the same Fight or Flight reaction. It all happens so fast and as soon as we are in Fight or Flight, then we are not able to communicate.
What’s the most important one?
The first one is essential and if you can’t master that, you can’t get anywhere, but it is not the toughest one. We can all learn to be open and roll play. Once we are open then we are able to connect.
Which is the toughest one?
I do think the toughest one is being passionate. Most CEO’s think that being passionate is weak, but it is emotion that attracts attention and if you don’t allow yourself to warm up to that subject then the audience won’t pay attention.
Why? How does your book help them overcome it?
I talk about a number of techniques with each of the four steps. It is a simple process, but you must know where the roadblocks are to get around them. It is a lot of work and self-reflection. There is a series of things you can do. You monitor yourself during the day and notice when you are open. Once you see these points, you can bring the openness into the parts where it is needed most. If you are enjoying yourself then your audience will enjoy themselves as well.
Can you share with us a story of someone who overcame this step? And what happened before and after?
The CEO of a large healthcare company thought he was a pretty good speaker.
We videotaped him and when he saw the tape he said he was "really dull and boring, yet I care about this stuff."
We gave him permission to be passionate. He had this idea, that as being trained as a doctor, you never get emotional, be in control and the rule that public speeches are read at a podium, they are dull and no one gets excited. As soon as we showed him he was appalled. He transformed.
We usually have a number of small business leaders, entrepreneurs listening. Some of them may think:
"I’ve got work to do and so does everyone in my company. Why do I need charisma? Who cares about authentic when I sign their paycheck?"
In tough times, as they are now, people are more willing to put up with that, but when times get better things will change. People have choices. Studies show that 60-70% of people are unhappy in their jobs and huge percentage of them is planning to move on as soon as conditions permit.
The basis of charisma really is passion and if the leader can’t convey passion, why should people stay when they have the opportunity to move on. The millennials are all about having a good workplace experience and they want to do something that is making the work better. If the boss can’t do that, then that company may not thrive.
We’re having a great conversation. Thank you, again. But by your book, we’re having only one of the two possible conversations. What part of our conversation are our listeners missing?
We are not having the non-verbal side.
How do I as a radio host compensate for the lack of visible gestures for my listeners? How do I bring these two conversations together?
Every conversation is verbal and non-verbal but the audience is getting a little more than half of that. Some of that non-verbal does get through the voice. It is about getting more passionate, speaking more clearly, allowing real conversation to happen – checking in with the audience and when you are on the phone you have to stop and ask.
One of the simple things you can do is to stand up and smile. When we do this, we change the shape and nature of our vocal cords – you make them longer.
That's not going to work without my glasses. I'll try it on the next show.
Sally Hogshead was a guest here a few weeks ago. Now, you both talk about the limbic area of the brain? What is so important about the limbic area of our brains?
The parts of the brain that light up are not the conscious parts, but it is the limbic part, the unconscious.
The thing to understand is that we first get an unconscious intent to do something, whether hurt, pain, happiness...etc. Then the brain fires up a gesture.
The third thing that happens is that we get a conscious thought about it then we talk about it. It is actually the reverse of how we think it happens. Studies of decision-making show it is largely emotional. Our bodies make unconscious decisions for us for up to 10 seconds before it become conscious.
It is astounding. We are largely unconscious beings being motivate and driven by this unconscious brain to keep us alive, fed, safe and to continue the species.
Let’s talk about these things Charisma and Authenticity. Define charisma for us.
Charisma is having appropriate expressions of emotions.
What fascinates us when someone walks into a room and we think they are charismatic, that person is radiating some kind of emotion. People who are good at this – they focus that emotion so they only feel that when they enter a room.
Most of us are more scattered than that. We have a lot going on, except clarity of emotion.
Charisma is strong clear emotion. You can learn this and focus your emotions. Focus on what is the emotional content so you walk on to that stage with the emotion in place.
It takes time to master.
So many business leaders, managers, see emotions as not belonging in the workplace. But you write that expressiveness of a wide range of emotions is most important for charisma. Are they doomed to a life in shades of gray...?
Yes, they will be dull. They may be good leaders but they won’t be charismatic. Why are they in that business if they can’t be passionate? They would be more effective if they had the passion.
Now let’s talk about authenticity. There’s so much buzz about authentic brands, authentic conversations. How do you define authenticity?
It is saying what you mean and meaning what you say. It is really showing your heart. We sense this with an alignment of both verbal and non-verbal communication. You can see and feel it.
It is important to be focused and totally in the moment.
You describe your work as fundamentally similar to the Stanislavsky’s Method Acting approach. You use mental imaging of a trusted friend, a conversation with them, etc in order to conjure the right emotions when you say...meet with your boss for your review.
The snippy part of me says...that’s acting. Acting’s not real.
The other part of me says ‘absolutely’. Bruce Springsteen sang every concert to one person he either saw or imagined sitting 2/3 of the way back in the crowd.
It is acting in a sense, but it is not necessarily a bad thing.
Why do we pay them so much attention?
Why do we pay them so much money?
They are charismatic. They can focus on one emotion. They are going on emotional honestly. They are taking on one single role.
What a business person needs to do is find the emotional truth of what they are doing in their work and learn how to express that. THEN you can show up with that same kind of charisma. It is a method to allow you to find the emotional truth of what you are doing as well as the words, which are so easy. The hard part is finding out the emotional truth.
That leads us to the paradox of Leadership. What is that?
You have to show up in a sense sometimes pretending certain things, like confidence when you don’t particularly feel it. Showing up with conviction that the vision that you see that hasn’t happened yet will come to pass because your job as a leader is to have followers to get people to work together as a team who can’t do things on their own. Sometimes you must lie about the current state of things to get people to work together for the future.
What is a trope? Who’s a nationally recognized speaker that uses tropes well?
It is just phrase, a simile. All similes are metaphors. All metaphors are tropes.
Everyone remembers President Kennedy’s inaugural address:
“Ask not what you your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
That is a kind of trope. It is just a turn of phrase. The people who are good at it are the people in the political arena right now.
Treading into dangerous waters with the next question. We seem to be at a standstill on so many issues here in our country. Is it the lack of persuasive content or the abundance that’s creating it?
I think it is the lack of listening – which is becoming a lost art. People are talking past each other to make points and not listen to each other. People can’t get past the rant.
When you listen, listen with your whole body. Put your whole focus on the question, don’t start thinking about what you are going to say, don’t turn away, wait and listen.
These people have not listened to the whole question. If you do this, there will be so much stronger of a connection. They will see you as charismatic and you will have a deeper connection.
Listening is hard and takes real work but the payoff is huge.
You include an inspiring quote at the bottom of each of your emails. Would you read that for us?
“This dawn is the first dawn of the world. Never did this pink color, yellowing to a warm white so tinged toward the west. The face of the building’s window pane eyes, gazing upon the silence brought by the growing light. There never was this hour, not this light, nor this person that’s me. What will be tomorrow will be something else and what I see will be seen by reconstituted eyes full of a new vision.”