ALB#010 – Telling Fear to F*** Off!
What are you afraid of? What keeps you awake at night?
Public speaking? Picking up the phone?
Closing a sale? Hiring staff? Firing staff?
Doing the accounts? Dealing with technology?
Running out of money? Clowns?
Whatever it is, we’ve got a tactic to help you conquer your fears. It involves a hula hoop, eating beans on toast, and jumping out of an aeroplane at 15,000 feet. (thankfully WITH a parachute!)
But if the thought of skydiving gets you trembling with fear, then we’ve got quite a few more sedate methods that you could implement in your life (or your small business) to increase your self confidence and expand your comfort zone.
We tell you (AGAIN!) why reading the newspapers will only serve to make you more scared (that’s their job!), and we tell you why talking to random strangers in the street (or at the gym like John does!) can help you build your self confidence, and be good for your business.
And to watch the LIVE recording of each episode of the Big Idea Podcast, join our Facebook Group for FREE – you can then watch our ugly mugs in glorious technicolour every Monday lunchtime, as well as get BONUS in-between-isodes, and direct access to both of us to ask any questions about this, or any other episode.
Below is the transcription of our podcast for you to read through if you prefer:
John: Hey, guys. Welcome along to the Big Idea Podcast. I’m John. As here as always, apart from last week, I’m joined by Mr. Jason Brockman. Morning, Jason. How are you?
Jason: I’m very well, John, thank you. Welcome, everybody.
John: Good, good. It’s good to see you back.
Jason: It’s good to be back.
John: We enjoyed Rob Rowe last week, didn’t we?
Jason: I certainly listened to it and thought it was really good.
John: He was.
Jason: He was able to do the dissection while you were doing the marketing. It was fab.
John: It was. I never knew he was qualified to do dissection, but apparently so. It’s our job, here at the Big Idea Podcast to help small businesses think bigger. That is really, really relevant today because we are talking about conquering fears today, and fear is all about thinking. It’s about controlling your thinking. One of the things we did in preparation for this episode was we took a quick straw poll. Straw poll?
Jason: Straw poll?
John: Yes. We took a quick straw poll in our Facebook community, which is BigIdea.co.uk/Facebook. We asked the guys and girls in there to tell us some of their most common fears. There were a wide range of different fears, and things that keep people awake at night, wasn’t there?
Jason: There absolutely was, yeah. Some to do with business, and some not to. We had fears about public speaking. Getting up and talking in front of groups of people. We had fears of picking up the phone, just getting to call people and ask them for the sale and talk to people. It could be anybody. We had closing a sale, difficulty with doing that. It’s really easy to say, “My product’s fantastic.” But, it’s really hard for some people to say, “Do you want to buy it, now?” There’s a difficulty. We had hiring staff, and sacking staff.
John: We had quite a few of those.
Jason: Two fears there.
John: A lot of staff ones, yeah.
Jason: Doing the accounts. Very poignant for us in the UK with our tax returns due tomorrow.
John: It is tomorrow, isn’t it? Yes.
Jason: Yup. Due tomorrow. Yeah, so there’s a fear.
John: Or, if you’re listening to the podcast on the day it comes out on Wednesday. Yesterday, and you’ve got a 100 pound fine coming at you.
Jason: Yeah. That’s great. Then we had dealing with technology because there’s lots of people in business that, perhaps, didn’t grow up with technology. All the latest movements and things like CRMs and databases and email marketing and things weren’t really something that you’re comfortable. People were fearful of that. Running out of money.
John: Yeah, there’s quite a few money related ones right now. Again, it’s one of those things that it keeps lots of people awake at night is fear of not having money, or physically not having money. In many cases it’s the fear of not having money, which is actually more likely to keep you awake at night.
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative). There were those that were fearful of clowns.
Jason: Also, cats, cat pictures.
Jason: We did see a cat picture, somebody afraid of that one as well.
John: But, we are only born with two built in fears. That is the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Every other thing that you’re afraid of is learned, it’s conditioned and it’s conditioned by your comfort zone, or more specifically, I think, by only doing things that are well within your comfort zone.
Jason: There’s lots of people that have points on that, though, isn’t there? Obviously, as you grow up as a child you’ve got no fears. Most children will do anything at all. Climb trees without worrying about how high they are, do all sorts of things like that, isn’t it? As you get older you go, “No, don’t do that because it’s dangerous, and don’t do that because you’ll do that.”
John: Careful, careful now. Stop.
John: You won’t fall. Careful, that’s hot. It’s literally you are condition to a lifetime of, “Don’t do that. Be careful. Stop. Slow down. Don’t run.” Signs everywhere telling you what could happen to think that everything’s dangerous. Without growing that comfort zone, because I always think of it your comfort zone is the same size as your success zone. Which sounds really American and spammy, I’m very sorry about that. The bigger your comfort zone is, the more success you’re going to have. The smaller you keep your comfort zone, the more you limit your success.
I used to have a mentor who used to talk to me about comfort zones and all sorts of things. He said, “The way to grow your comfort zone is to think of it like a hula hoop.” You imagine this, you’ve got a small hula hoop, just about fits around you. Lay it on the ground, he said, “Literally, that is your comfort zone.” If you step just outside of that comfort zone, then that hula hoop becomes a little bit bigger.
That is the key to growing your comfort zone is by doing stuff that’s just a little bit out of reach. It’s not good saying, “Actually, I’m really timid and I’m really shy, so what I’m going to do is I’m going to step on stage in front of 3,000 people.” Because, that’s just ridiculously outside of your comfort zone. Actually saying, “I’m really shy, I’m really timid, I’m going to talk to one person today.” That is a little bit outside your comfort zone. You can do that. As you do that, that hula hoop gets a little bigger, and then a little bit bigger. But, only when you do things that are just outside of it.
Jason: You were explaining that to me a little bit earlier with, in regards to fitness, weren’t you?
Jason: You said something about press ups and I said, “No. I’m not one for press ups.” You said to me …
John: Commit to one.
Jason: … “You can do one.”
John: You can do one press up.
Jason: “Could you do one press up.” It’s like, I probably could do one press up. You said, “Do that every day.” You said, “If you do one press up every day, then that one will grow slightly and turn into two.”
John: Yeah, because eventually one will be, “This is so easy. Of course I can do two.” Then, “Oh, I’ll commit to two.” Then eventually 10 becomes easy. If you were to say, “All right, I’m going to do 10 every night.” The first night you’d be purple in the face.
Jason: I wouldn’t have got to 10.
John: It is, it’s about doing that …
Jason: It actually [crosstalk 00:06:01]. Because, you [crosstalk 00:06:02] you’re more comfortable with that one, you can grow again by doing another one and so on.
John: Perfect. Because, look at your initial reaction was, “No, I don’t do press ups. Can’t do press ups.”
Jason: I don’t do running, either. Running’s not my thing.
John: Because it’s out of your comfort zone. Not doing press ups, not running, that’s inside your comfort zone. Saying, “I’m going to do one press up.” That is, it’s a millimetre outside of your comfort zone.
Jason: When it comes to pushing your comfort zone, you pushed your comfort zone a little bit further than that, didn’t you?
John: I’ve done lots of things to push.
Jason: I’m just thinking of one rather 15,000 times big comfort zone.
John: Yeah, I mean, I would say there’s a ripple effect. The more you do stuff outside your comfort zone in your personal life, then the bigger your comfort zone’s going to get in your business life. Vice versa. The more you do stuff in business that grows your comfort zone, it will transfer to your private life. I now do stuff in my personal life to stretch my comfort zone. One of the things I did last year was a 15,000 foot skydive. It was a tandem skydive. It wasn’t me on my own just strapping a parachute to my back and jumping out of an aeroplane.
Jason: You still had a little bit of comfort.
John: Yeah, there was.
Jason: Even at nearly 15,000 feet.
John: There was and there wasn’t. I was thinking about this on the way home after I’d done the skydive. For anyone who hasn’t done a skydive, I really, really would recommend it because it was just the best feeling in the world. I remember coming home and realising that I had completely put my life in someone else’s hands. I had got on an aeroplane and I’d strapped myself to a bloke who I’d met an hour before who I didn’t even ask him if he had a parachute on his back, if he checked that it was packed correctly, if he knew what he was doing, if he’d even done this before. I just trusted that, yeah, this guy knows what he’s doing.
Jason: Did you ask his name?
John: No. I mean, for me, if I’d analysed that during the day I could have talked myself out of doing that because oh my god, what if something goes wrong? I mean, we were there with my brother-in-law who’s done a lot of solo skydives now, my wife and their parents. It was, as Mark described to me, it was a typical skydiver’s day whereby it was really bloody cloudy and we just sat on the ground, in the café, waiting for permission for the plane to actually take off in the first place. That was the scariest part was the anticipation of, “Oh my god, is it going to happen? Is it going to happen?” I remember at one point Sarah was offered the chance to go up in the plane with me. She didn’t want to do the skydive, but she was able to go up in the plane with me, and …
John: No. I think she asked if they would change extra for a push. She was able to sit in the cockpit, and then after all the jumpers had actually jumped out, they do a, I think it’s a 10,000 foot free fall in the plane. Literally, just, they kill the engines and they just dive. It’s a simulated dive, they call it, but basically the pilot controls it. She said to her mom, “I’m going to do this.” Her mom is a bit of a worrier, a bit of a panicker. She went, “I don’t know about that.” Okay, she accepted she was able to do that.
Sarah was hoping to come on my aeroplane, watch me jump out and then do this dive. She wasn’t able to, she had to get back for the children. No, she was going out that evening, so she had to come back because I was on plane number five. She was able to go on the aeroplane with her brother, at which point she mentioned to her parents, “Oh, Mark and I, your two children, are going to be on the same aeroplane. Mark’s going to jump out, I’m going to [inaudible 00:09:55].” “No you’re not. No, you can’t do that. No. No. No. You’re not going together.” It was like, “You don’t mind if one of us dies, as long as it’s not both of us together.” She just instantly saw the fear of my two children are both going to die because they’re on this aeroplane.
Jason: At least Mark had a parachute.
John: Exactly. I mean, I always say that tandem for me wasn’t that scary because the bit that was scary, that would have been really scary for me, that I don’t know if I would have been able to do is at 15,000 foot someone opening the door and saying, “Right, walk over there and jump out.” I didn’t have a choice. It was like, you’re on your knees. There’s a guy, pretty hefty, strapped to your back and he literally pushes you to the door. He holds onto the rail. You’re not holding onto anything. You’re literally crossed your arms. Head back, legs back and you’re just literally … “Right on the count of three we’re going to go.” I think he probably went on two. Looking back at that video now, my face just goes from pure terror, “Oh my god, what the hell am I doing?” I’m just looking at literally [inaudible 00:11:01]. I’ve never been on an aeroplane before where someone’s opened the door.
John: I mean, that was probably the scariest point, was the anticipation. Because, once you take off, you’re past that point of no return. They tell you that. They say, “If you get on this aeroplane, it’s on the understanding you will not land on the aeroplane. There is no backing out. Stuff’s getting very real from this point on.” You sit on this aeroplane, and I’ve never sat on an aeroplane backwards before. You’re facing the tail of the aeroplane on a bench. There was no preflight checks, there was no stewardess with a trolley. No seat belts, nothing. You just sit there. I mean, thankfully if something happened at least you’ve got a parachute. But, you just sit there looking at the tail end of the aeroplane. Then, all of a sudden you’re seeing the tail end has got duct tape all over the place and like, “Oh my god, it’s held together with duct tape.”
I’m sat right by the door, and the door’s made of this plastic stuff. It just lifts up. As you take off you can just see the ground getting further and further and further away. I remember just the breath was just not coming. You get to about, I got to about 5,000 feet, I think, and I didn’t know how high this was. I’m just looking out the window and I’m seeing, “Yeah, we’re above the clouds now. It’s a long way down, now.” I remember turning to him, “All right, we’re ready to jump in a minute.” He looked at his autometer on his watch and he said, “Yeah, you’ve got another 10,000 feet to go, yet.” I’m like, “Oh.” He said to me, “This is the point in which we’ll open the parachute.” I’m like, “Oh, okay.” Yeah, once you take off you’re past that point of no return. It’s just completely …
I mean, everything’s scary until you’ve done it. It was that anticipation of, “Oh my god, oh my god, I’m going to have to do this.” I think I was second … Yeah, second. I was the first of the amateurs out. There had been a professional solo jumper who’d gone out first, and then our cameraman had just gone out in front of us. I was the first amateur to go out, the first tandem skydiver to go out, which was good because I always like to go first, now. I think I’ll come to that later in this episode. If I’d had to sit there and watch seven, eight, nine people go out and be like, “That’s me in a minute. It’s four until it’s me. It’s three until it’s me. Oh my god, I’ve got to go in two.”
It was just literally, boom, literally they open the door, this green light came on and then the first one just went. I just remember this noise because he went out and then, went sideways. “Where did that bloke just go?” He was sat next to me in the plane and now all of a sudden he’s half a mile away because we’re travelling at 90 miles an hour in one direction, he then dives off in the other direction. For me, that was scary. If I was to do it again, it wouldn’t be scary because I think everything’s scary until you’ve done it once. If I was to do it again, yeah, I may still get the adrenaline flowing, but for that first jump the fear level was like, nine out of 10, or 10 out of 10. Where next time, it’d be a four out of 10, or a five out of 10 because I know what to expect.
Jason: Some mild apprehension [inaudible 00:14:14].
John: Yeah. Next time it will be, “I wonder if it’s going to be like that was last time. Really [inaudible 00:14:19].” I’m going to be anticipating what’s going to happen. Yeah, still going to be that initial, Oh my god, I’ve got to go over the threshold.” It’s that little threshold that’s the scary bit. Once you push yourself over that, if you look at the video of my … [inaudible 00:14:33] my face just goes from, “Oh my god, oh my god I don’t want to do this.” Then literally, five, 10 seconds later there’s just absolutely delight, sheer joy on my face, of, “Oh my god, this is the best feeling in the world. Oh my god, I’m flying.” It’s just literally that border between I don’t want to do this …
If they had said to me there, “John, we’ve got this little upsell, for 100 quid you could not jump. You can get back, sit in your seat and we’ll land the aeroplane.” I think I would have been very tempted with that. Just the minute I crossed that border from, “I don’t want to do this.” To, “I’ve done it. Oh yeah, this is actually really good. I’m really loving this.” Now, getting over that border, outside of that hula hoop is a little bit easier.
Jason: I think if enough people in our Facebook group want to see it, we’ll pop that video up, shall we?
John: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:25].
Jason: We’ll pop it on our YouTube channel. Yeah, we’ll talk about all that at the end of our podcast.
John: That sounds good, yeah. If we get 500 likes on this [inaudible 00:15:33], maybe we’ll show you. No, no, we’ll put it up on the community. That’d be good to see. BigIdea.co.uk/Facebook. It’s tough because what we try and do with fear is we try and use logic to beat it, particularly men because men are logical creatures. Sorry, women, but we are. They did that in the briefing for the skydive. They said, “Anyone worried about this? Anyone a little bit nervous about this.” A few hands went up. The instructor said, “Okay, has anybody driven here today?” Of course, everyone stuck their hand up. He said, “Good.” He said, “You’ve all done the most dangerous bit, then.”
Yes, it did kill the ice, relax the tension in the room a little bit. Yeah, logically, if you look at the statistics, driving a car is more dangerous than jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute because more people die on the roads every single day, than do jumping out of an aeroplane. The problem with that is fear just isn’t logical. It’s automatic, it’s primaeval. Whilst we knew, yeah, this is safer than driving a car, I can still get in a car without getting scared.
Jason: That’s your comfort zone because you’re doing it every single day, so that explains that a little bit. When you first got in the car and went, “I’ve got to drive this.” There’s your apprehension, there’s your fear.
John: It was, yeah. That first driving lesson was, “Oh my god, I’m moving and I’m doing 10 miles an hour and oh my god, there’s a pedestrian there and there’s another car there.” Rob our producer is learning to drive at the moment, he’s got a little chuckle on his face at the moment because this is what he’s going through. He’s had 25 lessons and he’s still at that level where he’s gripping the steering wheel.
Jason: I always remember a fear actually, because when I was a teen, kind of thing, went into a car with friends, four of us in the car. I wasn’t driving, I was in the back. We went down a hill, we aquaplaned, did a spin and I ended up on our roof in a ditch. The four of us walked out without even a cut, which was miraculous, but it did take me an awful long time to get back into a car after that experience because it was like, there’s a fear. There’s something that I’ve had happen to me, sort of thing. Again, you get into it. I don’t know. It’s fine again. But, yeah, that was a big fear for me, then.
John: It is, but again, that’s … I said, all we can do to change what powers the fears … I said, we’re only built with these two, falling and loud noises. Everything else that powers our fears is our experiences, our beliefs and our environment. Experiences, you’ve described a brilliant one there. You’ve had an incident in a car. That effects your fear of driving or your fear of being a passenger ina car, your fear of what happens when it’s wet. That is completely influenced by your experience. You weren’t born with that fear. That’s been conditioned by your experience.
For me, it’s about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Literally, stepping off the aeroplane. Stepping outside of the hula hoop and, “Oh, actually everything’s okay. Let’s push things a little bit further.” I used to be quite shy as a child, as a teenager, I was afraid of speaking to strangers. Probably as a result of being constantly told as kids, “Don’t talk to strangers.” Charlie says …
Jason: [crosstalk 00:18:55] know that.
John: If you’re under the age of 30 you have no idea who Charlie is.
Jason: And only from the UK.
John: YouTube.com just type in, “Charlie says.” You’ll see the public information adverts that we had during the ’80s which were a little boy and his cat. His cat, for some reason, used to talk and tell him not to take sweets from strangers and not to go and see men with puppies …
Jason: Be careful when crossing the road.
John: … don’t play with fireworks and all sorts. Which, yeah, for some reason stays within our subconscious. Yeah, over the last few years I’ve made an effort, consciously made an effort to step outside of that hula hoop and go up to speak to people that I don’t know. For me, one of the main areas I do that at is the gym, or particularly the sauna at the gym. If I’m at the gym and I go to the sauna afterwards and there’s someone in there, I will just talk to them. Young, old, black, white, male, female, rich, poor. Whatever it is. Actually, we’re all sat in here sweating. We’re all bloody hot. There’s always something to talk about. I just open up the conversation and before you know it I’ve made some really good connexions in there just by literally opening up the conversation saying, “Bloody hot in here, isn’t it?” Or, “There’s worst things to be doing on a Friday afternoon than chilling out in the sauna.” “Oh, yeah, it’s great.” “What do you do?” “I do … ”
Literally we could have sat in silence for 15 minutes and I’d be within my comfort zone. Actually just sitting there in silence for maybe 10 seconds and then, “How’s it doing, yeah?” “Oh, yeah, yeah.” Then, people just open up. Everyone wants to be friendly. Everyone wants to talk to you. I maybe still feel a little socially awkward, so I’m now pushing that a little bit further by attending more and more proper offline networking groups. I’ve worked online for 17 years now, so to actually go out and meet real people and have that initial, again, over the threshold, outside the hula hoop of, “What do you do?” “Well, I do this, and I do that.” Oh my god, I’ve got to get my elevator pitch sorted now. All that self talk that goes on in my head that stops me saying, just having a conversation with someone because that’s all it is really, isn’t it?
John: Yeah, if you’re afraid of using the phone, force yourself to use the phone, every day. I’m not saying, “Right, pick up the phone and cold-call that customer.” No. Ring a family member, ring a friend, ring a loved one. Just someone who’s actually going to be receptive to your call. Just, if you normally text them, or if you normally send them a Facebook message, pick up the phone. Call them. Your comfort zone will get that little bit bigger. That actually using the phone isn’t scary. Why are we scared of using the phone? Is it because we’ve had a bad experience on the phone, or is it that we’ve seen someone else have a bad experience? There’s TV programmes where people get shouted at. Or, we think that because we get telesales calls in, anyone thinks that if we’re calling them it’s going to be unsolicited and they’re going to tell us to piss off.
No. Start off with friends and family, people you talk to normally. Do that for a few weeks, then work it up. Get that comfort zone, get that hula hoop a little bit bigger with some repeat customers, some warm customers. People who are already know, like and trust you. Literally give them a ring, “How’s it going, I’ve just rung for a chat. I’ve not rung to sell you anything, I’m just here to make sure you’re happy.” “Oh, brilliant.” Let’s have a chat with our customers. The telephone is not scary. Don’t sell to them.
Then, step it up a little bit at a time until eventually you are comfortable with, or you’re not comfortable with, it’s just outside of your comfort zone to pick up the phone and cold-call someone. Don’t go straight to that zone. Don’t go straight to 10 press ups. Just work your way up until that cold-call is just outside of your comfort zone, not massively outside. Otherwise, if you step too far outside you will go, “Oh my god, that was awful. They told me to piss off and using the phone is scary.” All of a sudden your comfort zone gets smaller, and not bigger.
Jason: All in all it’s the fear of rejection. Whether that’s the rejection in the sauna, we’re talking to the guy there, it’s actually, if he’s open to conversation. It’s quite embarrassing if they don’t want to reciprocate with that conversation, I guess.
John: Yeah, I’ve had that.
Jason: It’s that fear of rejection, really. Or, you pick up the phone to speak to somebody and they don’t really want to talk to you, or they slam the phone down, or they do shout at you [inaudible 00:23:16]. That fear of rejection. Going to a networking thing is like, remember, everybody’s there to do the same thing as you’ve gone there to do, is to have a conversation. That’s a nice easy one to be able to get into, really.
John: I read a stat a couple of months ago, about networking events. Perhaps, Mike, who’s in our Facebook might be able to help us out with this. I read something along the lines of there’s about 80%, 80% of people when surveyed said that networking was easier for other people than themselves. Everyone finds networking easier than I do. 80% of the people, or like 85% of the people said that. It was like, clearly that’s not true, is it? Not everyone can think that everyone has it worse than them. It’s like I said, everyone’s in the same boat, everyone’s there for the same reason. Anyway, [crosstalk 00:24:06].
Jason: One of our other ones was about staff, wasn’t it, really?
John: Yeah, we had a lot about staff. I think we’ll probably do a standalone episode about staff because there’s a lot of issues with staff aren’t there? We’re suddenly now looking at a couple of members of our staff. It’s one of those things where people are afraid of hiring, they’re afraid of firing. Certainly, if you’re afraid of firing people, it’s, for me, short term pain versus long term pain. Same with the skydive. The worst bit is the anticipation of, “Oh my god, what’s it going to be like? How are they going to react? Are they going to hit me? Is there going to be trouble here? Are we going to have to have security march them off the premises?”
You know what the worst thing is? It’s getting that first sentence out. “Sorry, Rob, we’re going to have to let you go.” That’s an example. Once you’ve done that, it’s a piece of cake from there, isn’t it? I found that in the first one I did, I remember it was, “Sorry, we’re going to have to let you go.” He was like, “Oh, yeah, I thought you would have said that. I thought you would have done it six months ago.”
Jason: It is unusual that it’s a surprise.
John: No, exactly, yeah.
Jason: The only time it may well be is if you can’t afford them any longer, and they hadn’t realised there is a problem with the business and that’s probably the only surprise element. If it’s because of performance, they’re already well aware of, that they’re under performing and that it’s on the cards at some point.
John: Maybe they’re not happy but they haven’t got the balls to actually quit because they’re afraid of quitting. The biggest one, though, I think people’s number one fear is public speaking, isn’t it?
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John: I’ve done a few public speaking gigs, best man speeches at weddings, but it’s something that I’d like to get a lot better at. I’ve done a few training courses, everything like that, but I’m now pushing myself outside of my comfort zone again. Doing stuff like, oh, I don’t know, recording podcasts that the whole world can listen to. Doing live Facebook videos where people are actually able to ask questions in real time. People are actually watching. Right now, we are recording this live in our Facebook group, so there’s a camera pointed at us. Hopefully there are real people watching. Hello, everybody out there.
Again, we may do a standalone episode, or maybe an in between -isode on public speaking, but quickly here’s just a few tips that I’ve gone through which is, first of all, lose the script. Whilst we got a script here today, we’re more referring to that as bullet points, I would say.
Jason: It’s important to have bullet points, I think. I did quite a bit of public speaking through various things that I’m involved with and it is important to know where you’re going with your conversation. It’s also important to lose the script. You’re not reading it. It’s not a Donald Trump speech. You’re literally, you know what you’re going to be saying, and you have to say it out from the heart, really, because then people will engage with you as a public speaker.
John: Yeah, Donald Trump’s probably the exception who he needs to have a script because he needs to deliver seven minute sermons, which need to be carefully worded and written to the word to convey certain points. Obviously [inaudible 00:27:07] and [inaudible 00:27:08], but for most people, I mean, one of the public speaking courses I went on we wrote out what we were going to say. Again, we were told, “Look, just do it in bullet point form. This is, I want to convey points A, B, C, D, E, and F. There’s some stories to back it up, there’s a narrative there, but don’t have a script.
This one guy, obviously tippy-tapped it out on his laptop. It was then time to deliver your speech. He gets up to the front of the room with his laptop, and he’s got, and he’s cradling this laptop and he’s talking verbosely from the laptop. We kept saying, “Look up.” He’s like, “Yeah, yeah.” Then he’s looking up at the audience and he’s engaged with the audience, then he’s back down in the script again, he’s looking at his laptop and you can’t make out what’s being said. “Mate, lose the laptop.” “No, I can’t. I can’t possibly.” It’s like, “This is your area of expertise, this is your specialist subject. You know this stuff. Just have the rough plan of what you’re doing and plop the laptop down.” He’s like, “I don’t know.”
Eventually the trainer came along and he just shut the lid of this laptop. Said, “Right, carry on.” Just instantly the guy looked up, started breathing and he was just talking to people and he was just being authentic. That, I think, is the key thing to public speaking, is don’t try to be clever, unless you are Donald Trump, or you’re Theresa May and you’ve got a team of script writers working for you, don’t try and be clever or perfect. Just be you, be the real you. Talk to people, as well, not at them. It’s not a sermon. Make eye contact with people. I know that’s, again, scary for a lot of people is to make eye contact. Talk to one person in the front row, and then talk to a person three along in the second row. Just literally talk to people.
Jason: You might know familiar faces. There’s always people that you go to these things with, people that are interested in stuff. If there’s people that you know, maybe family, maybe friends, maybe business colleagues, maybe somebody that you work with, you can look at them. You’re engaging with the audience. You can tell from their face, then, whether you’re doing a good job.
John: I mean, who in that audience wants you to fail, anyway?
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John: Probably about five people.
Jason: Not the ones you’re looking at.
John: No, exactly. Even then, we’ll be polite enough, particularly in our country. I mean, Christ, we’re British, we don’t do heckling. Even at a comedy show. I’ve been to a Jimmy Carr gig when he said, “Come on, heckle me.” There was about 30 seconds where people go, “No, I’m fine, you’re all right. Keep going.”
Jason: I’m not going to be first. Everyone’s going to laugh at me, I’m not going to do that.
John: He said, “Come on, I’ve got some brilliant lines to put down hecklers. I want to practise them. Give me some heckles.” They’re like, “No, we’re not going to do that. We’re British.” Yeah, enjoy it. That’s the key thing. Don’t worry about all the stuff. I mean, when I did my presentation in this course I immediately after I sat down, I wrote down everything that had gone through my head. Oh my god, I forgot to breathe, did I stand in the right place? What was I doing with my hands? Where was I looking? Were people paying attention? Were they listening? Was I talking to fast? Was I talking too slow?
Just enjoy the moment. You’re going to feel like you’re on cloud nine afterwards, but just don’t overthink it, don’t over complicate it. Just, talk to a friend. That friend’s in the front row, that friend’s in the third row, that friend’s on the end glaring at you. That’s environments. Beliefs is the next thing because in most cases what’s scary isn’t the thing itself, it’s that anticipation. It’s the deciding to decide. It’s the self talk and that all comes from your beliefs, doesn’t it?
Jason: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I did in the summer we did a fundraiser and it was an abseil, just off the side of a local shop in [inaudible 00:30:41]. We had 30 or 40 people that were coming in to do that. Those that had done it before were up and down and there was no problems. There were probably about a quarter hadn’t done anything like it before, and it was well outside their comfort zone.
It was, literally, “I’ve got to get to the air. I’ve got to do … I’ve got to get up. I’ve got to keep my harness on. I’ve got to get up to the top and then it’s a long walk up those stairs.” Then it was like get onto the platform, then you roped onto the platform and he’s talking to you and all that sort of, and then he’s like, “You need to walk backwards now until you get to the edge. Don’t go over the edge, until you get to the edge.” It’s that climbing over the edge bit, which is always the worse. I know loads of people who have done it, you all know that is to be the truth. Whether you’ve done it one or 100 times it’s still a little bit cagey as you’re going over the back because you rely on that one rope and that chap at the back. Yeah, that’s exactly it.
John: It is. You have got the fear of falling, which is natural, so that builds in as well. I mean, one of my mentors used to say to me, “What you believe to be true, is true for you.” That means that the perceived world around you is what you believe it to be. That means that you can change your beliefs, you need to change your beliefs. But, it’s not easy to change your beliefs, but it is possible. If you don’t believe that it’s possible to change your beliefs, then I’ve got two words for you which is, “Santa Claus.” I will say no more on that for any youngsters that may be listening. Another example, right? Terrorists in London. All right.
Jason: There’s lots of them there, apparently.
Jason: Starting to get nervous.
John: This is my beliefs on the potential for me being caught up in terrorism in London. I went to London a couple weeks ago for one day. I was advised by a member of my family who shall remain nameless, but she knows who she is. I was advised by this member of my family not to go to London because according to The Mail, in The Mail today it says …
Jason: Kind of giving it away.
John: … Terrorists are going to do something in London. They’re going to blow up tubes. They’re going to plant bombs somewhere. They’re going to drive a truck into a crowd or things. “Something’s going to happen in London and you’re going to get caught up in it.” I did a bit of research and said, “Actually, there’s, on any given day in London, there’s about 10 million people there. The chances of me, one person, being caught up in an act of terrorism, me being the one in 10 million on one day, in one area of London is pretty tiny.” In my case, I am infinitely more likely to be hit by a London bus than I am to be a victim of terrorism. It didn’t say in The Mail, “There’s a good chance that you might be hit by a London bus if you go to London.”
Yeah, I might suffer a heart attack or fall down an open manhole cover, but The Daily Mail don’t report, “191 people were killed by coronary heart disease yesterday.” They were, but they didn’t report on that. “Government on car crash high alerts as fears that 2,000 people a year could die.” That is how many people a year die in car crashes, but that doesn’t sell newspapers, does it?
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
John: I now take the stance that if it’s in the newspapers, I don’t need to worry about it because the sheer fact that the newspapers are printing it means it’s rare enough to be newsworthy. The chances of actually happening are so small. I was reading a quote yesterday from a guy who used to work in newspapers and he said, he said, “We were told to find the scariest thing we could find and write about it.” He said, “Every day was like Halloween.” If it’s rare enough to be newsworthy it’s not going to happen, or it’s not likely to happen to me. It’s not actually likely to impact my life. My beliefs are that it’s the stuff like heart disease or car crashes that they no longer bother to report. That’s the stuff that’s more likely to get me. But, hey, I’m not reading about that so that’s all good, isn’t it?
Jason: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Takes you back to episode one, careful who you listen to.
John: It is definitely.
Jason: What papers you read.
John: Who you listen to, who you hang around with, that influences your beliefs. One belief, not enough money. I haven’t got enough money. I’m going to run out of money. We’ve been there, we’ve done that. It’s not a good place to be making decisions from, certainly not long term decisions. Short term, yeah, you want to get out of that hole, but long term you end up making bad calls and we always say, “You get what you focus on.” Focus on lack of money, no money, you’ll get a lack of money. Once you realise that there’s an ocean full of money out there, and the old saying, “You can go to the ocean with a teaspoon or a bucket, the ocean just doesn’t care.” Your decision making improves from there, I think.
I don’t want to gloss over that too much because I know there’s probably some people out there listening who are going through that and thinking, “That’s easy for you to say, just make better decisions.” How do you get away from that immediate worry of, “No money, no money.”? For me, it’s the same way that you get away from thinking about anything that might happen. It’s a process that Tim Ferriss calls fear setting, whereby you do, or you live what you fear. If you’re worried that we’re going to have no money, I’m going to end up living on Tesco value beans on Tesco value toast. Do that for a week and then you’ll, after a week, you’ll be like, “Oh, that’s not actually that scary.”
It’s like the skydive. “Oh my god, skydives, they’re really, really hard, they’re really scary.” Go do one, and then afterwards you’ll think, “Yeah, it wasn’t actually that scary.” If I had to jump out of an aeroplane, yeah, I could do that because I’ve done it. Once you’ve lived on Tesco value beans and Tesco value toast for a week, or rice and beans or whatever it is, whatever you fear, living in a bedsit, or whatever. Once you’ve done it, it’s like, actually, is that the worst that could happen? Is that what I was worried about?
Jason: There’s lots of people living, they’re doing, lots of people live in these fears that you have, kind of thing. If it’s working out for lots of other people, then it’s not going to be bad for you. Lots of people jump out of planes, and they survive.
John: You would realise, then, if you did it for a week, you would realise A, it’s not as bad as you made it out to be. B, you would survive. You’d say, “I actually, I would still have food in my belly, I would still have a roof over my head and I could survive and I could get through this. I can always get back to where I was.” By always trying stuff, you can always get back to where you where.
The last thing we talked about is environment. Again, go back and listen to episode one, we talk a lot in there about be careful who you listen to, the environment you surround yourself with, but if the people around you are fear mongers, if they’re, they’ve got a problem for every solution, you’ve got to get away from them. Some people believe that every silver lining has a cloud. These are not the sort of people you want to be hanging around with. Speaking about hanging around, what do people think about me? That’s another thing that people are worried about. Again, it’s not a fear you’re born with, it’s conditioned from years of parenting.
Jason: Parenting and schools and well, actually I’ve got to live, I’ve got to have the latest pair of trainers or I’ve got to have this and I’ve got to follow my peers and I’ve got to … Every [inaudible 00:38:32] creates that, don’t they? Again, from childhood, really, you’re falling into that what do people think about me?
John: What would your teaching think if she knew you were doing that right now?
Jason: I have no idea.
John: You don’t want Mrs. So and so thinking you’re a naughty child, do you? Come on, you’ve got to make sure your shirt’s clean because you don’t want your classmates to laugh at you. As parents, as teachers we ingrain this in our children. That’s just compounded, I think, once, particularly once you get to senior school with teachers and bullies. Then when you enter the workplace the office politics that go with that. Not all workplaces are like that, thankfully, but certainly the civil service was. That was rife with teachers and bullies and other people that were concerned about what other people thought about them. It was their only concern. Doing a good job didn’t come into it. It was just, “Am I popular?”
Jason: Do you find now, I mean, I’ve already turned the 40 step, but you’re about to. Do you think as you’re in your 40s that I don’t find that I worry too much about what other people have to say about me anymore. I’ve kind of like actually I’m me, I’m myself, I’ve got to where I’ve got to and I’ve done very well, thanks very much.
Jason: I don’t really need to know, need to worry about what other people think.
John: Yeah, I literally came across a quote the other day that said, “Age 20 we worry about what others think about us, at age 40 we stop caring what they think and at age 60 we discover they haven’t even been thinking about us at all.”
Jason: Anybody who knows somebody who goes past the 60 age, they just don’t care what they say.
Jason: Have got no idea of whatever. They just, they don’t really care. It just comes out. It makes them funny.
John: Then they just start with repeating The Daily Mail ad nauseum, “Don’t go to London, it’s full of terrorists [inaudible 00:40:09].” Oh my god, no. The only person you need to be concerned with their opinion of you is yourself. No one else matters, their opinion of you certainly doesn’t. If they’re going to think it, or say it, they’re going to do that. You are in control. You are in complete control of whether you react to that. Yes, what you think of yourself is much more important than what other people think of you. Good way to think of that, think more of yourself, is to grow your comfort zone. To make that hula hoop as big as you can. The bigger your comfort zone is, the bigger that hula hoop, the more you’re going to think of yourself, the more your self worth is going to be.
I talked earlier about going first, and this is a mantra that I try and live by now. I heard it a couple of years ago from a, it was a big wave surfer. She talked about making quick decisions. Go first. She was saying, if you meet someone in the street and you’d like to get a smile out of them, go first. Smile first. If you want to have a conversation with someone in the sauna, go first. Open up that conversation. For me this was an example of one of my, not fears, but insecurities. Is, when you go to a public event and they say, “Any questions?” I never want to be the guy putting my hand up asking the questions. Actually, sometimes I do.
I went to this event a few weeks ago and I thought, “I’ve got a question for the speakers. I want to ask my question.” In my head whilst the speaker’s talking, I know he’s going to ask for questions at the end I’m thinking, all right, I’ve got to go first because if I don’t go first, I’m going to spend all that time whilst other people are asking their questions, I’m going to sit there thinking, “Is someone else going to ask my question? Actually, that was a better question than mine. How am I going to word my question without sounding like a complete idiot? I’m like, “No this is a stupid question.”.” I’m going to talk myself out of asking that question.
Literally the guy says, “Any questions?” My hand was straight up and I was like, “Yeah.” Obviously there was a few other views. Eye contact, me, yeah, microphone, thank you very much. I’m asking my question, fantastic. I did it, I went first. I got it out of the way. Then, after I’ve asked my question and it’s been answered, and I got my answer, I thought, “Oh, brilliant. Thank you. That was really helpful.” My adrenaline’s flowing because I’ve had a little bit of fear, I’ve gone over that threshold. My hula hoop is a little bit bigger. Then, also now, I can relax because I can listen to other people’s questions and I’m not thinking, “That was a better question than mine. They worded their question a little bit better than I did.” I’m just there thinking, “That’s an interesting question. Must make a note about that answer.” Not worrying about my question at all.
Jason: I guess about 95%, 99% of people don’t go first. If you ask for a volunteer they never put their hand up because nobody wants to be that first person, you say you get your question answered, which is [crosstalk 00:43:07].
John: I’m now trying to be that because someone now says, “We need volunteers.” I’m pretty much always the first there. If I go to a training course I now try and sit in the front row, which I used to sit in the back row because then I wouldn’t make eye contact, I wouldn’t be picked on, I wouldn’t be called to put my hand up. So much of this, I’m sure, comes from school and not wanting to put your hand up and give an answer in case it’s wrong. That, I think, is probably the key driver in conditioning this habit is I’ve gone through, what? 16 years of education whereby if you put your hand up and you get it wrong your classmates go, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, you bloody idiot.”
Jason: Or, teacher’s pet because [crosstalk 00:43:51].
John: Sit in the back of the room, mess around.
Jason: I think one of the, or two of the other … Or, two, I think we had two questions asking about hiring of staff. I know we talked about firing a little bit just now. I know we’re going to do a separate thing, but for those that are like one person at the moment and they’re doing really well, but they’re not sure whether they can take on somebody to help them out. That’s the kind of question, I think, they were asking about the hiring of staff.
John: Yeah, and we had a fear of hiring from about 2006 when we had monetary issues and we had to lay off pretty much half our staff in one day. Shut down two offices. We didn’t hire anyone for seven years.
Jason: “That’s it. I’m not doing it again.” Is what you said. “I’m never, ever going to hire anybody again.”
John: We had some outsourced third parties that we took on, but in terms of actual staff on the payroll, no. We resisted it. We had people literally begging to work for us and our answer to that was, “No, no, we don’t hire people. We don’t employ people.” That held us back and eventually, 2013, I was persuaded to hire someone. Literally, he’d done some outsource work for us and begged and said, “Look, I need a job. I want to work with you guys.”
We literally laid it down and said, “Look, if it doesn’t work out … This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to give it six months. If it doesn’t work out, we’re going to have to let you go, we’re going to have to do this, x, y, z.” He accepted that because he really, really wanted to work for us, and we accepted it because, “Okay, well, let’s give it a go.” He hit the ground running and we’ve hired five people since then, two of them are no longer with us, but we’ve probably doubled our business over that period, thanks to actually hiring staff. I mean, there are good staff and there are bad staff. You have to kiss a few frogs. I said, we’ve let two people go out of the … Out of the five we hired, two are no longer with us because they just didn’t fit in. The danger there is, “What if we get another one that’s rubbish?” Then you let them go. You don’t hang around.
Jason: You’re not committing to 20,000 pounds a year salary or 15,000 pounds a year salary. You’re not committing to that, are you, really?
John: No, you’re committing to what? Three months wages I would say. Because three months you know whether someone is going to work out or not. What’s the actual risk? If it doesn’t work out, again, this is the fear setting thing, what’s it going to take to get back to where you are now? Actually, if you’re taking on someone at 18 grand a year, you’re actually risking 15,000 quid in month one, 15,000 quid in month two and 15,000 quid in month three. You’re risking four and half grand payable over three months in [inaudible 00:46:38]. The tax is payable the month after that as well.
I mean, if it’s a sales role, your [layers 00:46:43] even less because they should be bringing in sales. I would say probably covering their cost by the end month two. By month three there should be a profit, and if they’re not, they’re a sales member staff, so why are they not making money after three months? Either there’s something wrong with the product, something wrong with the system or there’s something wrong with the person and you’re able to just let go. We will do an entire episode, I think, devoted to staff in the next few weeks because I think that is just a whole hot potato that we could just spend literally a whole hour talking about that, anyway.
Jason: Just watching our time, actually. Yes, moving on.
John: Whatever your fear is, unless it’s falling or loud noises, you can train yourself to lose that fear or at least muffle it, make it a little less noisy by getting out of that hula hoop and just making your comfort zone bigger. The only exception to that is Karl Pilkington. Are you familiar with Karl Pilkington?
John: Ricky Gervais’s mate.
Jason: That’s right.
John: Moaning of Life.
Jason: Moaning of Life, that’s the one.
John: Idiot Abroad.
Jason: Idiot Abroad, that’s the one I know. Yeah.
John: I think he was, he did a TV series, I’m sure it was the Moaning of Life, where it was all about pushing him outside of his comfort zone. For those who don’t know Karl Pilkington, he’s a [dower mank 00:48:00]. He’s one of these people who, really, yeah, does see that every silver lining has a cloud. He sees the worst in everything. I remember one of the producers was saying to him, “Karl, all we’re doing here is growing your comfort zone. We’re doing stuff which is designed to just make your comfort zone a little bit bigger.” He went back to his hotel room and said, “What if I really want out of life, though, is to be comfortable? To spend all day lounging around in the comfort zone? Ah, you’ve got to admit, the comfort zone, that sounds like a bloody brilliant place to live, doesn’t it?” Unless you’re Karl Pilkington and you’re completely happy living in your comfort zone, you need to expand it.
Jason: He wouldn’t have got that gig, though, if he was lounging around in his comfort zone.
John: No, no.
Jason: He wouldn’t have been doing the other one, either.
John: I mean, I’m sure it’s a bloody brilliant place to live. Another bloody brilliant place to be is right here next week. We’ll be back with another episode of the podcast, episode 11. Before we do that, I’m going to tentatively ask the question, Jason, do you have tool of the week for us?
Jason: Kind of. We’re kind of crowd-sourcing this one a little bit. I’m going to go for Xero this time, it’s accounting software. Bearing in mind, actually today in the UK it’s self assessment deadline looming tomorrow. If you’ve already not bothered this year, then get your asses in gear. From the day after, on Wednesday when we put this podcast live out, then perhaps you might want to take a look at Xero.com. It’s accounting software for small businesses. It’s where you can put, monitor with your apps, with all your apps on your phones and iPads. You can put all your invoicing in there and send them out from there. It keeps all of the receipts that you have come in. You can take photographs of those and that goes within it as well. At the end of the year it’s a one button press to get your HMRC reports that you need for your self assessment. Xero.com is my tool of the week, I think.
John: Okay. I’ll spell that for you, shall I?
Jason: Would you like me to spell that? Yeah, that is probably good.
John: It’ll be handy, wouldn’t it?
Jason: I was going to crowd-source it too. Yeah, that was very good.
John: It’s X-E-R-O which is exactly how you’d expect to spell Xero, isn’t it?
Jason: I think Zero.com was taken, so they’re going for the X-E-R-O.
John: X-E-R-O, yeah. Actually, I’m going to chip in with a resource of my own, here because we use something called Receipt Bank, which is an app where literally you take photos of your receipts and then it somehow talks to Xero or Sage to whichever cloud based accounting software you’re doing it. It reconciles everything with your accounts. I don’t quite know how it works. All I know is my accountant said to me, “Get this Receipt Bank app, take photos of your receipts and then you can just shred them.” I’m like, “Okay, I like that.”
I like the idea of not having to just manually deliver that carrier bag full of receipts, which I remember my dad having. He used to meet with his accountant, I think, every six months. I just remember having this, he’d just empty this carrier bag full of receipts on the table and the accountant would get this look on his face like, “I’m going to earn my money today, aren’t I?” Yeah, Receipt Bank, just automatically talks to Xero, it talks to Sage, reconciles everything. It just makes your life easier because you haven’t got receipts lying around everywhere. No idea how it works, but yeah, there we go. That’s our tools.
Jason: [crosstalk 00:51:31].
John: Two tools, this week. Yeah. As always, guys, don’t forget and join our Facebook community where you can comment on this episode, you can watch live recordings every Monday, lunchtime. That is at BigIdea.co.uk/Facebook. The show notes are also on the website, and what’s the web address for that, Jason?
Jason: It’s BigIDea.co.uk/Podcast, and then you’ll see all of our podcasts, all of our videos that we’ve recorded on Facebook. You can also get the audios through either iTunes or through Stitcher or through any of the other platforms. That’s all listed, again, on our website.
John: Cool. If you’ve enjoyed these, and you’re on iTunes, don’t forget to please leave us a nice iTunes review. We do appreciate them. We read every single one of them.
Jason: We do.
John: Other than that, we will see you next week.
Jason: When we are talking about …
John: We’re talking about next week, subject is, am I in the right business? Is a question we’ve had from several people who’ve ended up doing a particular type of business either because they’ve been made redundant and carried on doing what they were doing. Or, they’ve inherited a business like a family business, or they’ve married into a business and they’re not sure if it’s what they want to be doing. If that sounds like your business, your life in any way, then yeah, listen next week.
Jason: I’m good at baking cakes, so I started baking some cakes and that’s turned into a business but …
John: Yeah, is it what I need to be doing with my life? Is it my big why? Yeah, we’ll be covering that on next week’s episode.
Jason: Thank you, John …
John: You’re very welcome. Thank you.
Jason: … for having me back again this week.
John: You’ve not been too bad. I think you can probably come back next week.
Jason: Awesome. Thank you.
John: Hopefully you’ll come back next week, too. We’ll see you then, buh-bye.
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