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Category: Perspectives

Keep on copying.

There’s a constant theme of copying in the careers of Sam Walton, Warren Buffet and Tony Robbins.

You don’t copy because you can’t be original, you do because it works. Every competitor of yours has something that works. It is your task to not let them exploit that edge beyond a week.

It’s less about building a me-too company and more about Kaizen (the practice of constant 1% improvement.)

If something works somewhere else, why hesitate in copying? Borrow ideas that work, poach people that are making things happen, model tactics that are hot.

The magic of alignment, synthesis and improvisations make copying powerful. The sum of the copied parts is greater than the whole.

How to speak so people listen to you?

I have developed and shared these at Bangalore Toastmasters club when members and to-be-speakers ask me for advice to take their speaking game to the next level. Here’s a partial answer. (and when you’re done with this list, feel free to subscribe for my daily riffs. No spam, ever. Promise)

  1. Nobody gives a shit about what you have to say. Find ways to get the audience to enrol.
  2. Start in the middle.
  3. Have circular gestures and avoid chopping hand movements. They are more inviting.
  4. Train yourself to speak in full sentences.
  5. Write like you speak and then speak like you write.
  6. Find an enemy and polarise the audience. Rally them to your side.
  7. Don’t insult the audience by giving out the moral. Tell them the story and trust their intelligence to figure out the lessons.
  8. Quote others only if not quoting them will be detrimental to your speech.
  9. Speak at length and be definitive.
  10. Keep it short and pithy.
  11. Your plug must be more interesting than your speech.
  12. Re-direct them to your previous work.
  13. If the talk is recorded offer as many actionable you can.
  14. Prepare the speech for 90% of the time allotted.
  15. Make space in your speech for the muse.
  16. .When you are speaking from a script in your head, then you are not connecting to the audience.
  17. Leave Queen Victoria in Britain. Place local words, phrases, trending hashtags on purpose.
  18. Be relatable by design: Err, Be vulnerable and self-deprecating.
  19. Speak to wow – Actively seek mind-blowing market-data, anecdotes, stories, facts.
  20. Copy and categorise the best stuff you come across.
  21. Brand the little things: Que cards, lapel pins, virtual background.
  22. Pause to emphasise the immediate next word.
  23. Train to Thank your audiences’ responses before you proceed forward.
  24. Wear an unusual accessory. Curiosity pulls a crowd.
  25. The last piece of clothing you wear is noticed first.
  26. Make the last impression a lasting impression.
  27. Technology is your friend. When it fails you, take a deep breath and repeatedly remind yourself: Life is simple, life is easy, life is effortless! Most times, you fix the person and the technology fixes itself.
  28. Don’t be boring.
  29. Skip the smooth transitions. We like multiple tabs, multi-tasking, and think we understand them all.
  30. Invent words.
  31. Use jargons, lesser-known words, foreign words. If what you are saying is of value, they will look it up.
  32. If it can be said using a memo, a presentation please skip the speech and send it to us. We will read it at our convenience.
  33. Bring your energy, enthusiasm and perspective to the stage.
  34. Speak on Sex, Religion and Politics.
  35. Experiment. Toastmasters, Orai, Otter are fantastic laboratories.
  36. Better readers, better listeners, better observers are better speakers.
  37. Be comfortable in silence for 6-seconds.
  38. Prepare to win back the audience from hecklers, unexpected laughter or funny mic scenarios.
  39. The F-word is a lazy way to emphasise a point. There are better ways.
  40. Make the audience move. Change their physical state – Stretch, High-fi’s, activities.
  41. More emotions, Please!
  42. Dramatise, Exxagarate, Extrapolate a little more.
  43. Nervousness = Excitement. It’s a good sign.
  44. Use Mic, always.
  45. Your audience can sense when you are holding back.
  46. Delete the ego-pieces from the script- the ones focused on you. It’s about them period.
  47. Wake us up every 150 seconds! Use humour, stories, activities or a mic-drop.
  48. Design ways to make your reputation precede you.
  49. Speak low and deep for authority. High and loud for selling and monotonously for putting us to sleep.
  50. Speak stuff that people want to listen and share.

The dangerous trend of social media hopping.

I often catch myself mindlessly scrolling through one social media platform and then get bored, only to hop onto the next app and the cycle repeats.

Before I know a few minutes become an hour or more!

In the end, I’m usually zapped of energy, feel guilty and terrible that I didn’t learn anything or contributed meaningfully.

This is after I’ve trained my filters, set my screen time limits and scheduled time on my calendar for social media only.

It’s a big waste. Every now and then there’s a gem of content I land upon but that’s not worth the colossal time, the energy I spent on the endeavour.

I instead prefer the company of e-books, podcasts and music. It’s much harder and demands more thought power. Yet, it’s fulfilling.

And, I only go on social media with a specific agenda or to research a guest for Galata.

Who are you busy changing?

I met this retired gentleman on one of the benches on the side of Lal bagh lake.

I spent hours running around the lake, reading tomes or watching nature during my summer vacations.

He was awaiting his friends. Who accompanied him during the evening walks.

I used to notice them daily. Only this day I got to talk to him because he arrived early.

My curiosity made me ask him about his career, childhood and the lessons he had picked along the way.

One answer continues to stay with me to date.

I asked him: If he could reverse his age back to 20, what would he do differently?

I was 20 then and this proxy question was for me. But what he said hit home.

He gazed at the lake, sighed and said: I wish I’d not spent so much time and energy changing others. If only I had used all that to change myself.

We stared at the lake in silence.

A few moments later, his friends arrived and he got to his evening walk.

The cost of in-consistency

Every time you miss, you re-start from 0.

Unusually, being consistent 100% of the time is easier than being consistent 98% of the time!

A skip here, a one-time-only there and the cost to get back on the path becomes massive!

The previously prided-over number now appears overwhelming to repeat.

It’s far easier to stay consistent at 100%.

Start small and stay the path. One repetition at a time. Build your Rome every day.

An unusual change

Counter-intuitive approaches, ideas, and opinions have an unusual pull.

But, rarely do they successfully spread through to the masses. Part of it is because it’s hard to change people. Especially to something that is uncommon.

The network effect fails. And the idea fades.

It’s hard to point out why an idea spreads. Being counter-intuitive isn’t one.

Between your head and hands.

The chasm between learning and applying is an unusual one.

The longer you wait to apply, the weaker your resolute gets, the faster you seek to implement the more unsure you are of the unknowns.

What then, do you do with what you just learnt?

Nibble at the edges of applying by taking baby bites right away. One at a time. Only as much as you can chew.

Frequently going back to your notes, doodles and idea sparks to find out what next can be implemented and when.

That secret contributor.

I don’t know who’s adding these, it sure wasn’t there earlier!

It always stumps me when I gleam new insights, ideas, perspectives when I re-read a book, re-listen to a podcast or re-watch an interaction.

Who is this secret contributor?

It turns out that It’s me, the reader who has grown in-between the repetition. The stage of life, the state of mind and the stories I tell myself have evolved since.

Though everything in the material is just as it was, I had evolved.

The more I put in, the more I get out of it.

Pick yourself.

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

This joke is no longer relevant. Today everyone owns a press right under their fingertips.

Will you choose to be an echo that adds to the noise? Or will you push your voice forward?

The choice is yours.

There are no gate-keepers anymore. Pick yourself.