Michael Port is an expert on staying booked solid and becoming a heroic public speaker. We talk about both on our episode today. You'll learn about the difference between referrals and introductions. Whether you have a blue-collar business or a speaking business, you need to have a clear understanding of what it takes for people to find you instead of you hounding them. You'll walk away from this episode having some fun and learn key principles that will make your business more sustainable.
Michael Port has written eight books, including Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show, the latter which—according to the former President of Starbucks—“might be the most unique and practical book ever written on the topic of public speaking.”
He’s been called an “uncommonly honest author” by the Boston Globe, a “marketing guru” by The Wall Street Journal, a “sales guru” by the Financial Times, “a public speaking phenom” by Jonathan Fields and “the best public speaking coach in the world” by Lewis Howes. The founder of MastermindTalks, Jayson Gaignard, declared, “Michael Port is the best speaker I’ve ever seen.”
His books have been on the bestseller lists of the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and Publisher’s Weekly and have been selected by Amazon and 800-CEO-READ as “best books of the year.”
Narrator: Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you'll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You'll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he's learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh Patrick: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. And you're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code.
And today you are in for a treat. And I mean a big treat. You know, sometimes I say a treat and I really don't mean a treat. I just mean interesting. But, this time, you're really in for a treat. Today, we have my friend, Michael Port, joining us.
Michael is the author of Book Yourself Solid, a few other zillion books that he's written along the way. And I found Michael through Book Yourself Solid. But, as it turns out, his real love is helping people deliver unbelievably great speeches and learn how to make your life become a speaking life.
So, Michael has just written a new book. It's called The Referable Speaker. And we're going to bring Michael on and talk about his book in how you can become a referable speaker yourself. And, more importantly, why, as a blue‑collar business owner, you need to pay any attention to this.
So, now, we can bring him back in.
Hey, Michael. How are you today?
Michael Port: Good. All of my technology just changed. I got a different cam-- you see how-- like I'm down here?
Josh: Yes. I see that.
Michael: This is not like trying to be funny. This my camera switch. I've got this beautiful camera setup. And, of course, it just switched right in the middle. I don't know why exactly but I'll see if I can fix it at some point. If not, this is the camera you get.
Josh: Okay. Well, it's a technological gremlin so I don't think anybody's going to really care all that much because we want to hear your wisdom.
Let's talk a little bit about the Referable Speaker. Why'd you write it? What is it? And what makes every speaker referable? And, really importantly, why do blue‑collar business owners need to pay attention to speaking in the first place?
All right. Well, let's address that first because the book, The Referable Speaker, is a book for people who are professional speakers, or they want to use speaking to advance their business or their brand in a substantial way. So, the book is not for everybody.
But your question is something that I should answer for your audience. And I think most people would agree that being able to communicate in such a way that you get more yes’s than you get no’s is always going to help you in any initiative or endeavor that you're pursuing.
So, you know, very often, when people think about communication, they just think about sharing information. Well, let me just get this information across. If they have the right information, then I'll get the outcome that I'm looking for. The fact of the matter is most people don't change their minds or change their behavior just because they got the right information. Generally, they change their behavior because you change the way they think. But, in order to change the way they think, first, you need to change the way they feel.
So, when you're thinking about your communication, whether you're giving a pitch or a speech, or just trying to change the culture in your organization, or to get a team member to move in a different direction, first focus on how you want them to feel so that you can then influence the way they think. And then, ultimately, influence how they behave. That's going to be very important for any small business owner because they've got to get people moving in the right direction and getting more yes’s than no’s.
Josh: You know, we actually-- when I had my vending company, one of the things we made our new managers do is to go through a Toastmaster training program because, you know, the truth is, if you're speaking to a three‑person committee or a one‑person purchasing manager, you still have to be able to speak and present in a way that's understood by others. And that's through storytelling, mostly. And it's a great thing to do.
I'm also going to bet that The Referable Speaker probably will work on referability, period, because here's the truth. I mean, we were talking before. You said, “Well, for the referable speaker, marketing gets you your first gig but it doesn't get you a second, third, fourth or fifth gig.”
Josh: The same is true for any sale that any business owner makes. Marketing will get you awareness, which I learned from you, and it gets you the first sale. But the second, third, fourth, fifth, and 28th sale, which is where recurring revenue comes in, is what business is really about. And if you can't get past into the second sale, you didn’t ever have a business.
Michael: That's right.
Josh: That makes sense to you?
Michael: Of course, it does.
Look. You know, my organization, Heroic Public Speaking, is a referral‑based organization. And we moved to that model a number of years ago because we just found that the folks that came to HBS, when they were referred by somebody else who had a transformational experience at HBS, were much better positioned to have those same kind of experiences themselves. And it's one of the reasons that I stopped doing the very large corporate work.
You know, I go to a very large company and, you know, a couple hundred people would come in the room for the event and maybe 10 of them were really excited about the day. And most of the folks were there because, well, their boss told them they had to be there. That wasn't particularly interesting to me, personally.
But when people are coming to your business to work with you because somebody referred them and said, “Listen. They're the best. They are going to change your life in some way or they're going to change your landscaping in some way that is just delightful, you know, or, they're going to change your hair in some way that's transformational.” Whatever kind of business it is. You always go into that business, trusting them more than you would otherwise. And trust is such an important component to earning repeat business and producing an experience that is meaningful for the person, you know, on the consuming end of that experience.
And so, yeah, we really do, in this book, outline exactly what makes a product, in this case, a speech, referable because you can actually produce a great product that's not super referable, or you can produce a great speech that's not referable. A referable speech and a referable product are not necessarily exactly the same thing. There are certain elements that exist in a referable speech. We uncovered this over a two‑year research period. And we codified what those factors are in the book.
But I would say, for people who have small businesses, is to look at which factors, in their product or service, make it more referable. So, for example, is there an element of the product or service that you deliver that people can easily talk about and/or share with other people?
For example, in a speech, having a contextual model - a visual model that illustrates your big idea. So, for example, Simon Sinek has a book called Start with Why. It's what made him famous. And he has one contextual model that he uses anytime he teaches that concept. It's three circles and it has the words what, why, and how in them. Each circle has one of those words. That's the whole model. It is a brilliant model because it's easy to share and it's easy to explain. And, as a result, after people see it and hear him talk about it, they go back to their offices and say, “Oh, my god. I heard this concept. It's brilliant. We've got to think about this and incorporate this into our work. Here's how it went.” And he draws it. So, that's one-- just one element of a referable speech that makes it more referable.
In your business, what is an element that you can design, or include, or produce for your clients that they might then go and share with others? And if you have enough of those elements built in it's going to be much easier to produce new referral business coming in more organically as well as more in a way that's more automated.
Josh: So, I have a question for you, because you just trigger something for me, which you often do.
Michael: I do. I do trigger you a lot. I know.
Josh: Yeah. Well, mostly in a good way.
Josh: Yeah. Mostly, in a good way.
Now, you made me lose my train of thought. Thanks.
Michael: Well, I triggered you. So, you had this thought. You wanted to ask another very insightful question.
Josh: Yeah. It’s not about-- it’s that-- oh, I know what it is.
So, here's what I see a lot with businesses. And I see it with speakers also. And it’s that people talk about the stuff they do and not the problems they solve. And the things that are referable, in my opinion, is if you can have an easily understood message of the problem you solve and the transformation that the person will go through, by solving that problem, you have made yourself incredibly referable. If you talk about the stuff you do, you're just one of nine zillion others who do the same thing. Does that make sense?
Michael: Yep, that's right.
Of course, it does.
Look, one of the things that we identified over this period of investigation is something that's, of course, very important for the speakers that we are writing for. But also, very important for anybody that is playing an expert role. And I think a number of the people that you serve and are listening to this podcast may see themselves as experts or their clients may see them as experts.
These days-- I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most expertise has been commoditized. Think about it. If you want to learn how to do almost anything, you can go to YouTube and you can watch a day's worth of videos. And, you know, you might develop some competency.
Now, if you're going to think you can do it better than you can because the data demonstrates that you are going to learn more by doing something than by watching a video about it. So, I think that's important to recognize.
But, you know, I had to patch some pretty big holes in drywall because we're having the house painted and we have these old Bose speakers installed in the wall in a room where there is no longer any TV setup, so we didn't need them there. And, of course, because right now, everybody, and their brother, and aunt, and uncle, and cousin are getting their homes redecorated, you can't get a handyman or a contractor to come out to your house a moment's notice, let alone on a three months’ or a six months’ notice. So, I said, “Well, I'm just going to have to patch these holes myself.” I've never patched holes this big. This was a big step for me. Guess what I did. I went to the YouTube, I watched one video. I crushed it. I did it. It’s perfect. It's great. I mean, it's not perfect but it's fine. It's good enough for what I produced.
My point is that expertise is commoditized. I can't tell you the name of the person who taught me, on the YouTube video, how to patch these holes. I can't tell you the name of the channel that I saw it. I can vaguely tell you that he was a middle‑aged white guy but that's not really going to narrow it down too much. So, that's it. I'm never probably going to interact with this person again because what he did was very helpful, but it didn't change my thinking in any way. It didn't have a transformational effect on me.
So, one of the things that we're encouraging folks to do is to consider moving out of Expertville and into Visionary Town because, in Expertville, it's crowded with lots of people with six secrets. And as soon as, you know, they've got their six secrets out there, someone comes along and says, “Oh, I got seven. I got seven secrets.” And someone else says, “Oh, no, no. I can do it better. It's not more. It's five secrets.” And now you're all competing with each other, you know, in Expertville.
But in Visionary Town, the grass is greener. You sit sipping latte’s in very airy and comfortable café’s. And in Visionary Town, you're challenging the status quo and you're offering new approaches and alternative ways of thinking, alternative ways of being, alternative ways of taking action because the expert often delivers the current best practices. They say, “Here's the world now. And I'm going to reflect back to you what is currently acceptable.” But the visionary says, “I think we need to create a different future.” And the visionary helps you create that future. And, as a result, the emotional connection that you feel with somebody who is doing that kind of visionary work, changing the way you see the world, delivering how think‑type content, not just how to type content, will be somebody that you make a connection with and stay connected to for a lot longer because of that personal connection where you experienced some sort of change.
And so, if you're sitting squarely in Expertville, ask yourself if you've been commoditized. And then, start an investigation that might move you out of Expertville into Visionary Town by asking a question that Google cannot answer because, if you can only answer questions that Google also answers, you're commoditized. But if you can ask a question and then, of course, answer it, that Google can't. Well, now you're in Visionary Town.
Josh: You just described the central theme of my favorite sales book called The Challenger Sale.
Josh: And, essentially, The Challenger Sale says “The best salespeople in the world don't really build rapport. What they do is they go in and they challenge their customers to think differently about the problem they have, and think differently about what the solution may be, and they have a solution for it.
Michael: Right. That’s exactly right.
Josh: So, you can't just challenge. You have to also have a solution where you're going to leave your audience or your customers really frustrated and out in the cold.
Michael: That’s right. Yeah, because anybody--
Josh: Now, you have the best marketing book I've ever read which is Book Yourself Solid. And, in there, we talk about building awareness. So, marketing is about building an awareness. Sales is about building customers. Referring is about building customers and awareness, but it's really more about building customers.
Josh: It's really more of a sales process than a marketing process--
Michael: Correct. I agree.
Josh: --at least, from where I sit.
And the truth is, the more we challenge people to think differently, we actually put ourselves in a different room than everybody else. If I'm just coming in and saying, “Well, here's best practices.” You know, I've done 315 podcast episodes right now.
Josh: And I can tell you that people who are good at what they do, we all have basically the same solutions that we bring to the party. That's expertism.
Visionary world is thinking differently. For example, we talk about the two sides of a business. We talk about the economic side and we talk about the personal side. I don't know anybody in the advice business doing that. I'm sure there is somebody. I just don't know who they are.
And you've done that with speaking, doing, you know, public speaking. You say, you've moved people out of the world of, “Well, here's how you give a great talk. Now, here's how you build a great business giving talks” which is a different world to live in. You know, you get a premium price. And the reason you get a premium price is because you do things in a very, very different manner than the other 19 zillion people teaching how to do platform speeches.
And, you know, there's a certain amount of risk, of course, associated with it because you do need to be able to legitimately and credibly challenge the status quo and offer a new approach. And the way to offer a new approach is not by starting with a solution, but it's by starting with a question.
So, for example, when we started working on this book, we didn't just say, “Oh, let's just take everything we know and throw it into this book.” We said, “What's the question that we're trying to answer? What's the question that every single person that we are trying to serve is asking that nobody else is answering?” So, the question was, “What's the formula for building a sustainable speaking business?” And formula and sustainable were the two operative words. Those were the key words because we've never seen a formula that worked or had even been conceived of. And sustainable is critical because anybody can build a whole bunch of attention in a year, but can you sustain it?
You know, I could book 50 first gigs this year with really aggressive marketing, maybe. But can I turn those 50 gigs into 500 gigs over the next five years and that sustainable?
And so, when you when you begin the journey, ask yourself a question that, if you answer, will produce a visionary solution - a new approach to the current way of doing things. It may take you a while. I mean, for us, it was a two‑year investigation. And I've already got 20 years in this business. But it still took two years to come up with this formula to re‑engineer it, to do enough research, to write it in a way that was as effective as we could.
It took a long time, but it was pretty amazing to actually get there. You know, to be able to say, “Holy cow. We started with a question that we didn't think we could answer, like we weren't even sure we could do it, to actually then find the answer.” That's a great feeling. And, as a result, I think that the product will do the marketing for us.
So, you know, I got an email just yesterday from someone who had read the book and it was exactly what I would hope to get if somebody was reviewing this book. And I just got to tell you because it's the ultimate goal. If you think about, “What's my outcome?” Like, what do I want to achieve? This is exactly what I wrote, “I would hope somebody would write.”
So, a very well‑respected speaker wrote in to me. We're not friends, but I just know him through the industry. He said, “Michael, The Referable Speaker might just be the most relevant book I've ever read on what actually matters to the most on the business side of speaking.” So, there you go. That's it.
And if the product does what you intend it to do, it should market itself. You've got to give it a little push. You’ve got to help it. You know, you just sort of, you know, maybe turn the fan on every once in a while and help move it in the right direction but, for the most part, the product should be your market.
Josh: So, we have time for one more question for me to ask you. This is a question that I generally ask everybody I'm talking to who's talking about referring. Are referrals better or introductions better and why?
Michael: Well-- do you mean introductions to people that--
Josh: Yeah. I'm going to introduce you. I'm not going to--
Michael: --are not being referred?
Josh: An introduction is not only do I refer you, but I call the person up and I actually make an introduction to them whether it's through email or live introduction.
Michael: Oh, it’s the second. Oh, absolutely. No, absolutely.
What we always want is we want the introduction made as the referral. So, you know, it's Sam introducing Peter to HBS and sending us an email, introducing us, saying, “Listen. I really, really wanted-- I can't remember if it was Peter or Sam. But I wanted Peter to come to HBS. I told him all about what my experience is like. I told him he has to do this. He's a little hesitant because he's a little bit nervous. You know, it's not cheap. He knows that. I know that. But it's worth every single penny. And I'm telling him, he's got to do this. So, would you get on the phone with him for a few minutes just to answer the questions that he has? I'd really appreciate that.” Boom. Done. That's what you want.
If it's Sam telling Peter, “Oh, you should go there.” And then Peter contacts us that Sam told me. That's still great. Of course, it's great. But you'd still rather be introduction actually made by the person. So, we'll always make that request. Can you introduce us? And we'll even give some suggestions as to what would be helpful in the introduction.
Josh: I always encourage people to ask for introductions and not referrals. Referrals have a bad rap. There's a good reason they have a bad rap which is a referral is a weak introduction and you rarely get something good out of it. So, people say referrals don't work. Well, introductions work great. Referrals really don't work great. That's the truth.
Michael: Well, I just want to say one thing about that. I think one of the places that came from are those networking meetings where, in order to go to the meeting, you'd have to bring three referrals. But what people would do is they go on the phonebook, they'd look up three people, they bring ‘em in and say, “Here's three referrals.” So, people are getting referrals to people that that are not really referrals but they're calling them referrals. So, referrals get a bad rap in that way. So, yes, introductions referring somebody to you, is very different.
Josh: Yeah. In the insurance business, they would say, get somebody to give you 10 names or referrals. And then, you would go in and cold call those 10 names and say, “X told me I should call you.” And after you do that--
Michael: Yeah. And you wonder why insurance salesmen--
Josh: And you do that four or five times and you say, “I'm not doing that anymore.”
Michael: Well, you wonder why the insurance salesmen get a bad rap.
Josh: Well, the training is, you know, from 1957, so.
Michael: Yeah, of course.
Josh: That's the reason why.
Michael: Yeah, of course.
Josh: Hey, Michael, unfortunately, we are out of time. And I'm going to bet that people listening will-- for those of you listening to the podcast, Michael just stuck his lip out as a pouty child which is making me--
Michael: This is pretty apropos for me.
Josh: --making laugh.
But, at any rate, Michael, I'm sure people are going to want to buy the book. So, where can they find it? And, more importantly, where can they find information about Heroic Public Speaking.
I've been through part-- I haven't done your intensive, but I've done a bunch of stuff with you. I will tell you that Michael is the best director I have ever seen work in my life. The first time I watched him work, my mouth was on the ground. I got a chance to watch a master up close and it was really cool.
Michael: Thank you so much.
Josh: So, just that is really neat. So, how do they find you?
Michael: So, heroicpublicspeaking.com is a great place to go. If you want to come to one of our events, you can come at no charge if you are referred by somebody that knows me. There might be somebody here on this session, this interview, that could give you a referral. You just have to ask him. And then, you know, he could give it to me. So, anyhow. But we do these multi‑day events that people can come to at no charge, if they are referred. And that's in New Jersey. So, heroicpublicspeaking.com.
And then, also, you can pick up The Referable Speaker, if it's something you're interested in, at Amazon. Of course, there's also a website for it, thereferablespeaker.com. And there's a great book trailer which you might want to watch just for some giggles because we did a spoof, a take off on Ocean's 11. And I know it's a stretch, but I was playing the George Clooney character. Definitely a stretch and it'll give you a good giggle but that's over on referable speaker as well.
And I've got two things I'd like you to do. Number one, please go to wherever you're listening to this podcast and give us an honest, I mean honest rating and review. If you love us, you can say you love us. If you hate us, I hope that's not true, but you can say that too. I just want honest. Reviews are really important. It gets the word out about the podcast. I'd love to have more listeners. And you can be a big help by that by just reviewing us.
The second thing is, I am just in the beginning of having my second book appear in the world. Michael was very responsible for the world's first book because I went to his writer’s workshop and actually got around to writing it. The second one he didn't have much to do with. But the first one got me started. Now, I've got a third, fourth and fifth in the works. So, we'll see where that goes.
But, at any rate, you can get my book at www.salereadycompany.com. We're doing a free plus shipping thing which means you just pay $7.95 for shipping and handling. And there's nine or 10 pieces of bonus content that you get if you buy it off our site and it’s free.
So, this is Josh Patrick. We're with Michael Port. You're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You've been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”
If you've liked what you've heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co, or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.