This is going to sound like bragging (because, let’s be honest—it is), but I was recently inducted into the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame. It’s kind of a big deal in my industry, because there are fewer than 185 of us alive on the planet. If we were a species, we’d be endangered.
Here’s the interesting thing that I’ve found about reaching an “elite” level in your profession:
At the higher levels, you actually have to be better, and work harder.
It’s easy ... Continue Reading →
“Let it go!”
That was the sole message of an acclaimed keynote speech that my colleague Joe Calloway delivered at the annual convention of the National Speakers Association some years ago.
Let it go.
In his speech, Joe encouraged us to look at all the manifold things we had on our respective plates and think about how we could simplify, how we could focus. In short, what could we let go of so that we could really shine at what was left.
About a ... Continue Reading →
In the early days, I would panic.
Friday night. The day before show day. 24 hours from now every seat in the TV studio will be filled, and a million more viewers will be watching the show on television.
And we don’t have a show for them.
It could be any number of reasons: that big piece we’d worked so hard on all week just didn’t come together in editing; the guest we’d booked and promoted canceled earlier today; the perfect monolog we’d ... Continue Reading →
I think my friend Steve made a mistake.
Steve was a high school friend of mine. Unlike me, he chose to breed just a few years after high school. I remember visiting him when his first-born was maybe two or three years old. And because this was in the olden days, when iPads were not a toy option, his toddler was playing with blocks. Quite happily, in fact. He would try to stack the blocks and, because he was a toddler, ... Continue Reading →
You’ve felt the pressure, haven’t you?
There’s the clock. Just hanging up there on the wall, silently mocking you with its impending deadline.
There’s your team, watching you, judging you, wondering if you’re going to save the day…or blow it in spectacular fashion.
There’s your boss, ever critical, with her unrealistic expectations and her long list of other highly qualified people who want your job.
These are some of the external pressures that you’ve faced in the past, may be facing right now, and ... Continue Reading →
“Is it safe?”
If you’ve ever seen the movie Marathon Man starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier, you know just how scary this question can be.
It can be a scary question for your team as well (although without the unpleasant dental work—watch the movie if you’re confused).
When you’re leading your team through a high-pressure situation, they’re looking to you (I’ve written about this before). They’re looking to you…
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- …to see what you’re going to do (how you’re going to solve the ...
“Your engine just quit. Where are you going to land?”
The voice came from the right-hand seat—the co-pilot’s seat.
Sounds dramatic, right? Actually, it was quite routine. The person in the right-hand seat was my flight instructor, and it was, like, the thousandth time he’d asked that question over the past few months. If you’ve ever had any flight instruction, you’ve probably heard this question as well. And probably more than once.
See, in flight training, you’re always preparing for the worst. (And, ... Continue Reading →
“The confused mind says no.”
You’ve heard this before, right? It means that, when faced with too many options, the brain doesn’t make any decision and simply shuts down. This is why you will often see well-dressed people standing, zombie-like, in front of the mustards section of Whole Foods. Eventually, a Whole Foods employee will check the zombies’ wallets for IDs and arrange for Ubers to take them home, where a nice Pinot will bring them back to consciousness.
For those of ... Continue Reading →
According to the traditional rules, I could never run for public office.
Not that I want to run for public office. I don’t! I’d be terrible at it. But my point is that, according to the traditional rules (which may not even be a thing anymore), I couldn’t run. That’s because, at some point during my campaign, some reporter would begin a question with:
“Mr. Stainton, isn’t it true that you once said…”
And my honest answer, even without hearing the rest of ... Continue Reading →
Spoiler Alert: We’re all going to die.
Not today (hopefully). But sometime. And when that time comes, many of us—many leaders—will have retired from our work.
Which begs the question: Where will the next generation of leaders come from?
As a person who speaks about, writes about, and researches leadership, I’m being asked that question more and more. As the Baby Boomers retire, they’re concerned about the future of their companies (not to mention their own legacies).
And so they ask me, “Where can ... Continue Reading →