For the last 9 months, I have been working on a presentation around the new book. After completing the lengthy writing process, I was not really interested in embarking on another journey, but it seems I found one. I learned to enjoy speaking. The speaking journey began after I did my very first presentation to a group of entrepreneurs as part of a panel discussion. The butterflies leading up to the event were almost unbearable. It was certainly not my best performance but I was able to get the first one behind me. I needed additional training to better connect with my audience so I took an executive communications course from Scott Weiss’ company, Speakeasy. Their process is about executive presence on stage and how to manage emotions, use body language and engage in eye contact with the audience. In one practice session, we were videotaped giving a 2-minute talk in front of our peers where we said nothing but “Blah – Blah – Blah”. This technique helps each speaker engage with his or her audience without getting thrown off by the content being presented. When the instructor played back the tape on mute, everyone in the class looked really impressive and we said absolutely nothing.
Our next journey was to produce the content for the presentation. So we brought in a production crew and my friend and co-writer Dennis Ross to begin the process. Two days and almost 18 hours of video reels later, we developed a 45-minute presentation. The hard work paid off. And along with a short pitch video clip, we booked our first two engagements.
Just like every Shakespeare play, you don’t get to the end without a bit of trauma. Chatting with Scott after a meeting, I mentioned how proud I was of our progress, thanking him for the help of his company. I mentioned that I had successfully finished taping a 45-minute talk. He listened and in a calm voice said, “Rusty, unless you are Bill Clinton or Jack Welch, nobody is going to be able to pay attention that long.” His words were like a dagger of honesty; another gift of feedback. Ouch! I knew his words, as painful as they were to hear, were spot on. Back to the drawing board. Over the next two months, the speech turned into a entrepreneurial workshop about protecting wealth.
Creating something new is an iterative process that never finishes. Our companies, our lives, and our families are all a daily innovation. Some days I wish it would end but I guess it never does. And I am very thankful for that. So as you continue on your journey, whatever it may be, you’ll encounter hurdles that you won’t immediately appreciate. You’ll get frustrated and emotional. But in the end, it makes you a better person. And one day, you’ll be thankful for those hurdles.
(My first workshop is this week in Tampa. Wish me luck.)