How do you hone your voice as a leader and make your message clearer? Today’s guest is David Newman, the Founder of Do It Marketing, who’s helped thousands of people move their business forward and find their voice. In this episode, David discusses with Jeffrey Edwards why personal branding is essential to commercialize your expertise. To start forming your personal brand, you need to capture your story bank, a collection of life stories, incidents, anecdotes, or things that have happened to you. Your story bank helps you find your voice, clarify your message, and cements your individuality to the public, making you easy to remember as an expert in your field. Join in the conversation and listen to David’s experience on utilizing his own story bank.
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Capturing Your Story Bank With David Newman
Have you ever had that opportunity to reflect upon where you are in terms of your message so that you feel that you’re understood by people that you’re out to attract and influence and have a clear understanding of where you stand? Our guest is an accomplished professional who has helped thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people in moving their businesses forward, as well as helping them find their voice. David Newman is the Founder and head honcho of the Do It! Marketing Company. He is a certified speaking professional. He is a member of the National Speakers Association Million Dollar Speakers Group.
He is the author of the business bestsellers Do It! Marketing and Do It! Speaking: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Market, Monetize and Maximize Your Expertise. David is also the creator of the Expert Profit Formula mentoring program, where he helps thought leaders market their smarts and make a bigger dent in the universe. He is a dynamic trainer and speaker. When you meet him, his passion and enthusiasm are infectious. He has even left us with some tools and some information that we’ll have available to you. It’s a pleasure to have here in the show, David Newman.
Thank you. It’s great to be here. The show’s over. That intro was it. It’s only going to go downhill from here.
David, I’ve been following you since 2014. Over the years, one of the highlights of the work that you’ve done is the way that you help people find their voice. You do it in a way that’s easy and informative. It feels like you’re speaking directly to me. What is it that inspires you to do the work that you do working with executives and working with entrepreneurs in helping them boost their influence and impact each and every day?
Part of the inspiration comes from being so clueless about this myself early on. In my corporate career, I always thought that the work was about doing the work. It wasn’t necessarily about your influence, showing off, making a name for yourself or all of these negative connotations around what we have known since the past 25, 30 years as personal branding. It’s not being braggadocious, it’s personal branding. You’re not hogging the spotlight as a leader, it’s personal branding. You’re not the star of the show, it’s personal branding. I was either clueless about it early on or I was actively pushing it away, thinking that it is showy or braggy. Several years ago, fast forward to when I launched my entrepreneurial career, that attitude of shining the spotlight and saying, “It’s no big deal. Nothing to see here. Move right along,” wasn’t serving me well for the first couple of years of my entrepreneurial journey.'I need your help,' is one of the most powerful leadership statements you are ever going to make. Click To Tweet
As we’ve worked with lots and lots of consultants, executives and entrepreneurs, this shows up in lots of ways. This shows up as imposter syndrome. This shows up as that little voice in your head saying that, “I don’t know if you’re good enough. I don’t know if you’re smart enough. I don’t know if people want to pay you money. If you’re inside a corporate role, I don’t know if you’re worthy of being raised, praised then promoted. Maybe you got lucky. Maybe you got a lucky break. Maybe circumstances were flowing your way. You’re not the rockstar executive. You’re not the rock star C-Suite leader that you think you are.” Only the most successful people have that little voice because the idiots are full of self-confidence. They’re blowing through the world unobstructed by any of these thoughts. It’s always the conscientious, the thorough, the high–integrity, the high–intelligence, the high–capability people that have that imposter syndrome. Long-winded answer to your question, my inspiration is to help those high–integrity, high–intelligence, high–skill people to commercialize their expertise and to make a bigger dent in the universe to quote Steve Jobs.
What you’re saying is it seems almost counterintuitive that the people who have the credentials or maybe have the experience that you would think would be accelerating and expanding in the marketplace are the ones that are in need of the help more. They feel like, “I can’t say too much because I don’t want to reveal more than who I should be,” versus people who are like, “I don’t care what people think, I’m just going to say it. I’ll just put the message out there and be seen.”
It is totally counterintuitive. This is why when we work with executives and entrepreneurs who have come out of this more of a humble kind of leadership style where they say, “It’s not about me. It’s about the company, the team, the brand, our products and services.” It’s like yes but let’s look at every mega successful CEO. You can look at Steve Jobs, Jack Welch or any high flying CEO like Elon Musk and Oprah Winfrey. You name the leader. You name the billionaire head of your favorite empire. They do feel that it’s a little bit about them. They do feel it’s a little bit about their message, their vision and shaping the universe to become what they want that universe to look like.
It’s a mix that you have to have the self-awareness to understand that humility by itself is not going to close the deal. It’s a combination of leveraging your personal strengths, your personal message and your personality in the service of your company, your team and the movement that your company is looking to lead. Someone once said that if you don’t blow your own horn, there’s not a lot of music happening. You don’t want to blend in. You don’t want to be vanilla. You don’t want to be just another competent and capable leader. The world is full of capable leaders. It is not necessarily full of outstanding and remarkable leaders, and people who are worth talking about, sharing their story, their message and their movement. That’s what you need to become to stand out from all the noise.
What are some of the strategies that you’ve helped leaders hone that voice and help them get clear on their message? Not only to the public but it starts with themselves.
As far as capturing the actual thought leadership, the substance of what they believe, what they stand for and what their movement is all about, I would advise folks reading to think about all of the mantras, philosophies and sound bites. For example, you have Jeffrey-isms that you’re famous for. I have David-isms that I’m famous for. When you’re looking at your clients, your team, your internal and external stakeholders, it’s almost like what do people make fun of you for saying. It’s like, “I know what Jeffrey is going to say because he always says fill in the blank.” That’s what I mean by those isms, principles, mantras, sound bites and little fortune cookie bits of wisdom.
One thing that every leader can do is start to collect those. Flip open a legal pad, flip open your computer, open up a Word document or a Google document and start capturing. What are the things that you’re internally famous for saying? What are you internally famous for thinking? What are the go-to bits of advice when a team member comes to you? What typically comes out of your mouth? Start capturing those. I would go to a second step. Use that as the springboard to start capturing a story bank. A story bank is simply a collection. Speakers use this. If you join Toastmasters, they tell you to start a journal or a story bank. Start collecting all of these stories, life stories, incidents, anecdotes, things that have happened to you, whether they’re personal professional in any arena that you can use as a vehicle for teaching or to illustrate a point.
For example, I have a parallel parking story that when we first had kids back in the 1990s, I’d never owned a minivan. We bought this giant, behemoth Ford Windstar. It was the biggest minivan on the market at the time. I could never parallel park this thing. I would hit the car behind me. I would hit the car in front of me. The front wheels would hit the curb. The back wheels would hit the curb. I would turn around to the kids in their little car seats and I go, “Watch this.” I would show off on how bad my parallel parking was. The joke was that dad’s an excellent parallel parker. Eventually because of practice and positive reinforcement, I kept getting better at it. I would stop hitting the car in front of me. I would stop hitting the car behind me. I would still hit the front tires against the curb, still hit the back tires against the curb, but then I would say, “See, excellent parallel parking job.”
I started taking pictures on my phone of how straight my parallel parking was. I did this in my car. I did this in the minivan. I started having these collections of pictures. I would put these pictures in the presentations as I was telling the parallel parking story. The punch line is by the time I got done saying, “Kids, watch this. Dad’s an excellent parallel parker,” after doing enough damage to tires, hubcaps and other vehicles, I did become an excellent parallel parker. Why? It’s practice and self-belief. Where can we apply those lessons?
Let’s say that you’re the CEO of a company. You tell that story. You capture that in your story bank. There are fifteen different ways you can use that parallel parking story as a metaphor for leadership, training, skills development and mentoring. These are the kinds of things where you see these CEOs and leaders in companies go out on the speaking circuit or they start to want to write books. It’s like, “What goes in the books?” The Jeffrey-isms, the you-isms, the mantras, the philosophies, the stories, the metaphors, the analogies. It’s not just thought leadership. It’s leadership.
Part of what a leader’s responsibility is to capture the cultural context of how we do things around here, how we lead around here, what our company believes, what our company stands for, what our company stands against, what is our movement, what is our manifesto. That is made up from the top down, from the leadership, from the C-Suite, from all of the executives who are singing from the same hymnal. That’s how you build a culture. It starts with the head person saying, “Here’s what I believe. Here’s where I’m steering the ship. Here’s the vision. Here’s the destination. Here’s how we’re going to get there.” The best way to capture that is stories, practices, principles, philosophies, mantras. Make it digestible. That’s another part of the whole communication chain, telling your story and finding your voice. Are you known for clear and consistent communication of a certain set of principles?People get on board with leaders who are open, authentic, vulnerable, and honest. Click To Tweet
One last story in this vein. When our kids were small, there was no pre-K program. There was this private school that had pre-K. My son went to private school for one year because there was nothing else available. This private school principal is like in elementary school, K through 4. It’s an elite Philadelphia suburban little private school. We had a year of these parent–teacher conferences, meetings and assemblies. One day in the spring, this principal gets up and it was a key leadership moment. I’m so glad that I was paying attention. He said, “You parents have been listening to me. You’ve been coming to these meetings. You’ve been coming to these assemblies for the past nine months. As you know, my message doesn’t change.” He’s always talking about the amazing kids, the amazing parents, what a great job we’re doing, what a great job the teachers are doing, what a fantastic staff they have.
He says, “You’re not going to hear me say anything different but you need to hear it anyway. Your kids are amazing. Your kids are fantastic. We have the best program. We have the best teachers.” It was some variation of that. He says, “What I say doesn’t change very much.” That was an anchor. That was a stability, certainty and a consistency of messaging. He said it in a self-deprecating way like, “When you hear me talk, the message is not going to change all that much,” which is great because if the message changes every single time you open your mouth, people have no idea where you stand. They have no idea what you stand for. They have no idea what you stand against. They have no idea where they’re going under your leadership. Feel free to say, “My message doesn’t change all that much, every time you open your mouth.”
Those are vivid examples thinking back to my own corporate career in. That was missed by a lot of the senior leaders in those companies. It also suggests in what you’ve shared that the precursor to be able to do that is the willingness to be vulnerable and to allow yourself to say, “I’m not perfect. I may not get it right all the time. Here’s where I see things are heading. This is what I’m thinking. This is what I want to share with you.” You have 44 of the Fortune 500 companies as your clients like IBM, Comcast, Microsoft, Accenture. What’s been your experience in working with leaders of those organizations where no vulnerability can be seen as a liability in the leadership suite?
This gets back to one of my wife’s favorite sayings about me which is, “Frequently wrong, never in doubt.” In my home life, I am extremely opinionated and stubborn. It’s the world according to David Newman. As leaders, we need to be the opposite of that. When you don’t open yourself up to that vulnerability of, “Here’s where I think things are going,” where every single statement is an absolute. Every single statement is said with 100%, “This is how it’s going to go down. This is how it’s going to happen.” Life circumstances and the unpredictable nature of the business landscape is always going to slap you up and down the street. What builds trust and followership is saying, “I’m not 100% sure how this is going to play out. Here’s what we’re aiming for. Here’s what we’re trying to accomplish. Here is where we would like to take this technology, this next step or this next leadership initiative. I need your help.” I need your help is one of the most powerful leadership statements you are ever going to make.
People get on board with leaders who are open, authentic, vulnerable and honest. They do not resonate with people who are frequently wrong but never in doubt, “The boss said this was going to happen by Q2 and it didn’t happen by Q2. They said that product was going to be ready. It’s no way ready.” There are broken promises, delays, stalls, marketplace changes, shifts in technology and regulations and compliance. I wish we were in control of the world. We are not in control of the world. People tend to distrust leaders who say that they’re in control of the world when they’re not. That’s the extreme example, a megalomaniac totalitarian leadership style that people tend to run away from.
This is different across all the generations. You look at the Millennial generation and it’s game over even before you start. They can smell that stuff a mile away. This is where you get the us versus them, “I can’t imagine what the hell the leadership is talking about. They must be delusional. They must be smoking their own exhaust. I don’t know what’s going on up there.” You don’t want the us versus them. Leadership 101 is you don’t want to foster this us versus them mentality. When you start talking about, we instead of me, I or here’s where this is going, and you start using voluntary discretionary effort statements like, “I need your help,” that is when you get everyone rowing in the same direction. You get rid of the us versus them and you start to refocus back on the we.
It’s always refreshing to hear that perspective from professionals like you who are out there influencing and training corporate leaders in this space. I’m thinking of that emerging leader who’s thinking they’re either on the path to promotion or thinking about getting into the management. They’re questioning, “My culture doesn’t allow me to be this person that you’re promoting here and advocating for.” What would you say to that person who’s thinking, “Who is the person I need to be in order to advance my career and my organization, or advance my company forward, being vulnerable and connecting with people?”
It was Tom Peters who said, “The culture walks out the door every night” back when we were in offices, buildings and things of that nature. There is no culture. There are people that you’re working with and that you are leading. You start to change your behavior and the culture will start to change. That needs to be one person at a time who makes the decision, “We are going to start to be more open, more honest, more vocal, more vulnerable,” as the word that you use there. It starts with one person. We need to model the behavior. We need to lead by example.There is no culture. There are people that you're working with and leading. Click To Tweet
It’s like, “Everyone needs to be vulnerable, open and honest. You go first.” No, you need to go first. Model the behavior and start to change the norms. This goes back to the old movie, Jerry Maguire, where all the sports agents are there, then suddenly Jerry Maguire gets this moment of conscience and ethical integrity. He gets fired and immediately, he’s out on his own, but it didn’t have to go that way. There are smart leaders. There are high–integrity leaders that introduce this not with some crazy temper tantrum in the middle of the office. They gradually and sensibly start to introduce this kind of behavior and communication change which then leads to the culture change where it becomes okay to be more vocal, more vulnerable, more open, more communicative of your company’s mission, ideas, brand, product and services.
Everyone then becomes a brand ambassador. Everyone becomes a salesperson. Everyone becomes a brand champion and advocate. That’s what you want. Sales doesn’t just happen in the sales department. Marketing just doesn’t happen in the marketing department. The admin staff is on board with the message and excited about the company’s products, services and future. The accounting department is on board and they’re excited about the company’s products, services, brand and future. It is contagious once a few leaders start to pick up the reins here and start to behave in that new and different way.
David, if it is contagious and you’re the person who’s infecting them with that contagion to help them spread their messaging get clear on the people and the places that they want to create. If people want to find out more about Do It! Marketing and some of the work that you do, can you give a little background where they can find some more information?
We have two books out there. The first book is Do It! Marketing. The second book is called Do It! Speaking for C-Suite leaders and executives who want to grow their voice and grow their impact through speaking and through building a better communication brand around themselves and their career. We have a blog, DoItMarketing.com/blog. We have a podcast. All kinds of free resources pop over to the main website. That’s command central for everything at DoItMarketing.com.
David, I want to thank you so much for being here in the show. I’ve grown so much over the years reading your material and following you. I look forward to continuing our conversations and also seeing you down the road as well.
Jeffrey, it’s great to be here. Thank you so much.
Special thanks to David Newman for being a guest on our show. Thank you for joining us and allowing us to be a part of your leadership journey. You can access previous episodes. You can check out TheMakeWellGroup.com/podcast.
- Do It! Marketing – Website
- Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits, and Crush Your Competition
- Do It! Speaking: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Market, Monetize and Maximize Your Expertise
About David Newman
David Newman, CSP is a member of the NSA Million Dollar Speakers Group. He is the author of the business bestsellers “Do It! Marketing” and “Do It! Speaking: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Market, Monetize, and Maximize Your Expertise” (HarperCollins, 2020).
David is also the creator of the Expert Profit Formula mentoring program where he helps thought leaders market their smarts and make a bigger dent in the universe.
Free training, tools, and downloads are waiting for you at www.doitmarketing.com.
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