“With the right audience, anything’s possible.”
A few nights ago I had the honor of attending a TEDx event in San Francisco. TED is hands down one of my favorite organizations. The things they’ve taught me are priceless.
The theme of the night was Creating Your Own Government and the speakers blew my mind. More than anything, the biggest takeaway was simple:
We all absolutely have to take it upon ourselves to lead our own revolution.
I don’t care whether it’s to get your favored candidate elected, to improve nutrition in schools or perhaps change the world by getting people to do work they love, like we’re doing here at Live Your Legend.
It doesn’t matter what topic you choose. What does matter is that you choose something, anything – and start broadcasting your strongest beliefs. The tools have never been easier and cheaper to use. I promise you that if you start saying things that matter to you, there’s going to be other folks around the world who care just as much. It’s on us to build that community and lead that revolution.
With that said, let’s get into the action.
The Pursuit of ‘Ridiculous’ Dreams…
Just over ten years ago a young British chef in his mid twenties decided he was going to change the world.
He had a powerful message he wanted to share. All he needed was someone to listen. He was crazy about revolutionizing the way kids learned about and consumed food. More specifically he wanted to remove all processed food from kids’ plates – a pretty tall order. He’d stop at nothing to do it.
Ten years ago no one had heard of Jamie Oliver. Today his YouTube videos alone have gotten millions of views, not to mention his multiple hit TV series and dozens of restaurant chains. In 2003 he was awarded the Order of the British Empire, and recently Jamie won the TED Prize as he told the world his dream to teach every child about food. That video alone has been watched over 1.4 million times.
The thing is Jamie isn’t much different than any of us. The only difference is simple: Jamie found his voice and stopped at nothing to spread it. He had a passion rooted so deep he nearly brings himself to tears each time to speaks.
Everyone has a message to spread.
The thing is, a lot of us don’t know what it is yet and few of us have taken the steps to get the word out. It’s time for that to change.
A crystal clear message can change the world.
Take Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Gandhi or even Hitler. These folks had a belief they were determined to share. And, for better (or sometimes worse), people listened. In fact they hung on every word. And then began doing all they could to further the cause!
That’s where you come in…
Who listens to you? Who’s waiting for your message?
Take a few minutes to think about it.
What are they even listening to?
Is it the message you want to be known for?
Something amazing happens when you find a message that’s congruent with who you are. You begin to want to communicate it to anyone who will listen and in any way possible. But that’s just the beginning. Anytime you have something you’re deeply passionate to tell people about, you’ll notice an equally fired-up audience won’t be far behind.
If you have something you truly care about saying, odds are there’s an audience that wants to listen.
But you have to do the work to find that audience. Don’t expect it to find you.
Not even ten years ago this was hardly possible. If you didn’t happen to come across these people at work or in local social circles, you’d likely never see them. The odds of gathering the right following were nearly zero.
Now, if you want to lead a tribe to change the way kids view food, or anything for that matter, you can do it.
Technology has put the 80/20 rule on steroids when it comes to our ability to rally a crowd.
Whether it’s YouTube, blogs, social media or the more traditional methods, you have more power to lead and help than ever.
Without a message and audience Live Your Legend wouldn’t exist.
My message here is simple. I believe that if we can all begin doing work we love, we can truly change the world. Live Your Legend and my message here exist because I believe it’s not only possible for us to do work that excites us but that it’s a our right, and I’m determined to be one of the leaders of this revolution.
Once this message became clear to me, and I began to make it clear to others (through my writing, speaking, daily conversations and any other interaction I seemed to have), something amazing started to happen…
Over 7,500 people joined my cause in about a year. Now over 25,000 folks from 100 or more different countries read the message I love communicating. That’s the power of congruence.
The thing is, I never would have come to the message I have today if I didn’t start developing it years ago.
You cannot expect to do work that excites you if you do not start to develop the ideas that breed the excitement – and then start sharing them with the world.
If we’re going to do work that matters to us and change the world we have to find our voice and an audience willing to listen.
As with everything, this takes practice. Massive practice.
Here are some places to start…
8 Ways to Find Your Voice and Create a Massively Loyal Following:
1. Have interesting conversations. Start having meaningful conversations with the people around you. Stop asking the standard questions of ‘how are you’ and ‘what do you do’ and replace them with things like ‘what’s exciting right now’ or ‘what do you do for fun’. Then dig into deeper topics. Tell them what’s on your mind. Notice the reactions. The more conversations you have, the more you’ll recognize what sticks and how to best communicate it.
2. Have memorable experiences. Have you ever made a bucket list? If not, do a simple one now. Then start checking it off. Sign up for events you’d never usually do in your home town. Local shows, networking events, cooking classes, fitness clubs. Share some ideas. Try things out.
3. Start a blog. I believe everyone should have a blog. I may be biased ;), but I’ve yet to find anything that’s as powerful for developing and communicating a message (except maybe video mentioned below). There’s also nothing easier to get up and running. You can have a new blog live and a post published in under an hour.
The more you write, the more you learn. Having it be public adds the excitement that someone might actually be reading it. And sooner or later someone will. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to make a business out of it. That’s fine. It’s not about the money. It’s about the message. It’s time to get something live.
Get on a routine schedule and start sharing your ideas. And, as you do the rest of what’s suggested below, you can tell everyone to come follow your work on your blog. Bring on the army!
For those interested, I credit the A-List Blogging Club (and its members) for just about everything I’ve learned when it comes to writing online and building a business around it. Their courses, tools and advice are bar none. I would have shut this site down long ago if it wasn’t for them.
4. Contribute to a forum. If you don’t want to set up your own blog (but seriously, you really should!), then find someone else’s forum online. This could be the comments section in another blog (I used to share many of my ideas in Tim Ferriss’s comments before I began sharing them here), but even better are actual forums or question and answer sites like Quora. There are forums for everything from expert wood chopping to middle-aged women diehard about knitting. Seriously everything. Start contributing, commenting on what others are sharing and noticing what sticks.
5. Join Toastmasters. While writing’s powerful, nothing is more influential than a lights-out speech. I spent a year with toastmasters and not only got a chance to massively tighten my ability to speak, but also got to dabble in topics covering everything from history to story-telling and nutrition to personal values. This organization is awesomely supportive and has a rock-solid method for developing talent.
Nothing beats live real-time reactions to your message. Given that most of us are more scared of addressing a crowd than engaging in hand-to-hand combat, this is the last most of you will sign up for. Get over it and get on stage. The learning curve alone will be worth the effort.
6. Host a seminar. This is not as hard as you think – especially once Toastmasters gets your confidence up. Put up an ad on Craig’s List, in the classifieds or Facebook with local listings. Pick a very specific topic with a clear benefit, plan to speak for 30-45 minutes and do Q/A for another 15 or so. Make it no more than an hour. Charge a nominal price to be sure you get people who are actually interested. Pass out a short survey at the end and be sure to collect a few testimonials. Bonus points for recording the sessions (audio and ideally video).
7. Give work presentations. Most of us already have a captive audience at our office. Start by finding a way to weave your message into talks that your colleagues already have to listen to. For the past couple years I’ve been teaching a speed reading class on the occasional weekend. As I’ve gotten comfortable with the material I’ve begun to add in more of my messages relating to constant improvement and spending your time on things that matter. Whether it’s direct guidance or by means of the examples I use, there are ways to share your message in a relevant way.
Start with routine presentations but then swipe up opportunities to give brown bag sessions or free mini events over a group lunch on whatever non work related topic interests you. Tie in a few work ideas if you like, so that it’s a bit more relevant. Do this enough and you might start getting asked to do this stuff routinely.
8. Publish YouTube videos. I save what I see as the most powerful, for last. This might be even higher on this list than blogs. Not only do they leverage technology but videos key into many more aspects of connecting with your audience. They engage your audience and get across the emotion and character of who you are and what you’re trying to say in a way that nothing else can. That’s probably why I love TED Talks so damn much!
Video is something I’m just starting to crack into over here at Live Your Legend and I can’t wait to further develop it. People connect with video over text for all kinds of reasons: it takes less energy to absorb, you can experience it on more and more devices, you connect deeper with the presenter, and on top of that, videos happen to drive massive traffic in a much more effective way than most audience-gathering tools online. With about 66% of peoples’s daily web time being spent watching videos, you really can’t ignore it.
Getting something live can be even faster than a blog post. There’s no proofreading or editing and you could have something up in 15 minutes if you wanted to. There’s no excuse (and being scared to have your face online is not a good excuse). Everyone should have a video or two online at the least. Pick a topic that keeps you up at night and just start recording something right now. See what you think. Then publish it. Do it right from the camera installed on most laptops. Just get something live!
Anyone serious about YouTube has got to spend some time with Lewis Howes’ YouTube course – Video Traffic Academy. It’s the most comprehensive course on YouTube out there and more importantly, will likely get you fired up and excited to start publishing content instead of sitting around feeling too nervous to take the first step. Check out their course and send me a link to your first video!
Start giving people a chance to listen.
Once you become more aware, you’ll start to realize these opportunities are all around you. There are more people than you’d realize who want to hear what you have to say. But they can only hear it if you start saying it.
And when you focus on sharing ideas with the world, you’ll begin to notice which mean the most to you and you’ll start to see what people begin to listen to.
Forget about the fact that you might misspeak here and there or that your message isn’t quite refined yet. It never will be. My view of the world continues to evolve and sharpen with every new post I write, interview I give or talk I present.
That’s the point.
The world is dying to hear your message.
You just have to tell them about it.
You really don’t need that big of an audience to create some meaningful change (or to build a business around it). A few hundred or 1,000 truly passionate followers may be all it takes.
Without an audience, Jamie Oliver would have never gotten the chance to revolutionize the way children consume food. As a result, he saves kids’ lives every year. Because of him, a broken system is being fixed. His work is changing the world.
Yours will too.
Your army is waiting. You just have to tell them where to march.
It’s time to get the word out.
Check out The Video Academy or just start recording a Youtube video. As always, it starts with starting. Come back and share a link to what you create!