We are CELEBRATING the 100th episode of the Rebel Speaker Podcast. Woo-hoo!!
Pop the champagne. Throw the confetti. Strike up the band. We are having a party.
We’ve got a very special episode of the podcast.
Maggie Patterson of Small Business Boss flips the mic on me and asks me questions. As one of my business besties, she knows
where all the bodies are buried all my secrets.
I rant. I rave. You get to find out which of my cats I’m most like. Seriously here is exactly what you’ll take away:
- What I believe is the WORST piece of public speaking advice (hint: there’s more than one answer)
- How the heck you can figure out your message!
- Why you need a message bigger than you and your business
- What devotion has to do with your legacy
- Who is a movement maker that I see on the rise (an awesome opportunity to brag about my clients and their work)
- How my doctorate relates 100% to the work that I do
Listen to the podcast, watch the video or read the transcript below:
Michelle: Hey, hey, hey, rebel speakers. This is the hundredth episode of The Rebel Speaker podcast.
Woo hoo! I can't believe it has been 100 episodes.
Thank you so much for listening to me and tuning into the podcast and leaving me wonderful reviews on iTunes. Every review is appreciated.
Today we have a very special episode of the podcast. I have brought back friend of the pod, Maggie Patterson from Small Business Boss.
She's also the host of the Small Business Boss Podcast and today we're going to flip the mic.
Maggie is going to interview me and I have no idea what she's going to ask me. I gave her the instructions of “Ask me things you think people would want to know about me.”
Since she knows me pretty well, I'm a bit scared, but it's going to be a super fun show to celebrate the hundredth episode.
Maggie, welcome back to the podcast.
Maggie: I'm really excited to be here and to be interviewing you on your podcast. That's very meta!
Michelle: I know. It feels weird to be interviewed on my own podcast.
Maggie: I had to explain that one to Brit before I came and she's like, “I don't know what you're doing. Have fun.”
All right. I want to go ahead and get you fired up into full rebel mode so let's start off with this question because I know we've talked about this before, but I think it's something that it's really important if you're going to speak.
What do you think is the worst piece of common speaking advice out there?
I know there are lots of them but I'd love to know which one is the absolute worst thing that we're all told to do, yet we shouldn't probably do it.
Michelle: Oh, that is so hard because there are so many different things I'm thinking of.
The first thing that popped into my mind is the overemphasis on delivery, and don't worry about the content.
It's like, “Okay. If you are really great at speaking and you can deliver well on stage, it doesn't matter what you say.”
Except for something I see again and again is I will be talking to a client who told me, “Oh, I saw the best speaker the other night. She was incredible on stage.” And I say, “Oh, cool. What did she talk about?” And there's a pause, and then, “I don't remember. She was just really good.”
That is such a huge problem because your message can't spread if people can't remember you.
You are not going to get referrals for other speaking gigs if people don't remember your message.
You're not going to be asked back if your presentation was basically fast food that they forgot about an hour later.
That overemphasis on delivery and non-verbals and that … Ugh, okay. I'm really going to get into it.
That whole myth about nonverbal communication is 93 percent of communication, I hate that statistic because it is completely untrue and not what the researcher meant.
But there is this idea that, “Oh, well as long as you're great on stage and you're really entertaining and fun, you'll get all the speaking gigs.” And it's just not true.
Related to that … Wow, this is something that's really getting me going… Is the advice that your story is enough.
People are told, “Oh, well just share your heart stirring story and people will book you to speak.” And that's not true at all.
We are in a time when nobody actually cares about your story unless you make it relevant to them.
What is the takeaway? What is the learning? How can they apply your story to their life?
Your story alone just isn't enough, and I wish people would stop selling that as a product for speakers because what you'll find is you'll write your story, you'll find it very exciting, and then no one will want to book you to speak.
Maggie: I love that you brought that because my most recent speaking gig was our local chamber of commerce and they wanted me to come talk about finding clients.
That's my jam completely, but can you imagine if I'd come up with “My story of finding clients.”
Yes, I used a couple of my own examples, my own stories to help anchor it, but I also used examples from clients, examples from business friends.
I used different things to bring it to life. But can you imagine if I got up at a chamber of commerce thing and was like, “I'm Maggie, I'm your speaker today, I'm going to tell you a little bit about my … ” Like, no. No.
Michelle: I know. I saw a woman once and her speech was supposed to be on business development, and she told us her cancer story.
That was how she kicked off the speech.
And I'm like, “Okay. So, is it because she has such strong business development she was able to keep the business going through her cancer treatment?”
No. It had nothing to do with that. And I'm like, “Why did you tell me this story? I don't understand why it's there.”
Maggie: Yeah, and I think that's when people start to feel awkward and they tune out ultimately, right?
Michelle: Oh yeah. For sure.
Maggie: You're like, “Pass me another croissant.”
Maggie: Michelle, one of the things I know that makes you really different is you're not just a speaking coach who's like, “Hey, put your hands here” or “Do the power pose” or whatever.
You really focus in on messaging and crafting that message. So, I very selfishly want to talk about that.
Obviously, I work in communications all day long, too, and one of the things I really notice is I don't think most people have a clear message. They don't have that kernel of what it is.
So, what is probably the fastest way, if I'm unclear, to figure out what the hell is my message?
Aside from hiring you. I don't have Michelle budget, which we'll talk about later, but I want to know how do I actually distill that message into something that is compelling and interesting.
How the Hell Do You Figure Out Your Message?
Michelle: I've recently developed this framework called The 3 Word Rebellion, which is based in social movement theory. However, it was also this pattern that I recognized: successful speakers had about three words that encompassed what they were doing.
Start With Why from Simon Sinek, Mel Robbins has The 5 Second Rule and then I noticed the social movements had the same thing where it's like, Black Lives Matter, Hashtag Never Again, Hashtag Me Too.
So, I put together a framework that is freely available, where you can start figuring out what your 3 Word Rebellion is.
Part of the framework is doing free writing. I am a huge fan of free writing because it is the type of writing where you don't have to worry about spelling or grammar or punctuation; you just actually get to express your viewpoints.
I have prompts that I've used with clients, again and again, to walk them through The 3 Word Rebellion framework.
Things like what are you rebelling against? What pisses you off? What change do you want to create in the world?
Or my favorite question of them all is if everyone acted on your message, what would the world be like?
Because what happens when you start free writing and not censoring yourself?
You get some good data.
It's so weird, but I really view these free writes as collecting data about your thoughts.
And you can detach a little bit from your message and start looking at your writing, not for the content of what it says, but for the interesting words, for the verbs, for standout nouns.
For things that you keep repeating over and over and over again because if you're repeating something, that is probably a clear indicator that it is the core of your message.
Then you can use the framework to start playing and developing different 3 Word Rebellions and then testing them out.
But I think it's important to have a framework to go through, otherwise, we are too, too close to our message to actually see it clearly.
I know for me, The 3 Word Rebellion, that came out of a conversation I had with a book coach named Jennie Nash.
I swear that message was right here in front of my face, but I would have never seen it without her.
So, that's another pro tip; get a friend in your rebellion to actually listen and read your writing because they're going to be able to see things that you, as the creator, cannot.
Maggie: I love The 3 Word Rebellion.
I know we've talked about this, but I want to talk about why is this concept of The 3 Word Rebellion so timely today, here in 2018?
Michelle: We're in an unprecedented time of social movements and social unrest.
Well, I think it’s all over the world, but I'm feeling since I'm in the United States, I feel it very much here.
We're seeing all of these movements rise up.
We have The Resistance in the United States, we have #MeToo and Time's Up and #NeverAgain and Black Lives Matter.
We are in a time of great social change. And some of that change hasn't been realized yet.
So, The 3 Word Rebellion is so timely because people are hungry for change.
And change is hard. It is difficult. We all know this.
If you want to change someone's behavior, that is an extremely difficult task. But as business owners, as speakers, we are now actually primed for change because we see the disruption going around.
One of the interesting things I posted in my Facebook group this morning is even just looking at Tony Robbins versus the #MeToo movement, it's been fascinating because Tony Robbins is this man who has power, influence, tons of money, millions of fans, and yet when he went up against the #MeToo movement, he lost and he is still losing based on that really bad apology he made.
Maggie: Talk about as an undercover PR person, I'm looking at this whole thing and I'm like, “OMG, he's getting terrible counsel.”
Michelle: Oh yeah. It's just it's terrible, terrible, terrible.
And the thing is, Tony Robbins built a business empire for Tony Robbins.
He never built a message that's bigger than himself, bigger than his business that could be spread by other people.
He's still very much at the center of his business.
And right now we as business owners and speakers have this opportunity to build a message that is bigger than us, bigger than our business, that calls people in, incites them to act, and really gives them this place where they belong.
Because when we belong to something, we … How do I want to put this? When we belong to something, we defend that movement, we are the protectors of that message.
And Tony Robbins' fans aren't protecting his message.
They're not defending him because he's not a part of their identity.
Whereas when you are a part of a movement, it is who you are, or part of who you are. So, you're more likely to spread and protect it.
Maggie: Yeah. I think it's interesting, the Robbins thing. I've been thinking about it a lot.
And I have a lot of friends who've always been really into him, and they're very quiet right now.
They're not defending him, which I thought they would be.
So, I think it's been interesting to watch, but I also look at it is as what's the difference now between the charismatic, cult leader type guru-type leader and an actual leader of a movement that it is bigger than them.
I think it's going to be really interesting to watch some of this unfold.
Michelle: Yeah, and one of the things I've noticed, especially with speaking industry, is that speakers have really abdicated their leadership role.
I see a speaker as being a leader.
Unfortunately, it has really just turned into capitalism at its finest, like, “How do I make money doing this?” “How do I sell more from the back of the room?”
It's become more about the money than leading people to a different life or to shaking up their industry.
It's more about, “Oh. How can I make money at this?” Versus, “How can I really impact people, make a difference, and leave a legacy?”
What Devotion Has to Do With Your Legacy
Maggie: Yes. And I love the leave a legacy part of it because I know that looking at your work around The 3 Word Rebellion, one of the things that really stuck with me, Michelle, was this concept of devotion.
Because it's like you looked into my heart and my head! That's exactly what my business partner Brittany and I are trying to do with Small Business Boss because that’s what I want to be my legacy work; to help that group of people.
Especially as the economy becomes more and more freelance, to get paid fairly.
Especially women, right? That's really near and dear to my heart.
This is the work I would do if I wasn't being paid.
Can you talk more about that concept of devotion and how critical that is?
Because I don't feel like you're ever going to have that small and mighty army or even get to the stage of a movement without that devotion.
Michelle: Yes. It's about putting your audience before yourself, and really wanting that change for them.
I first was realizing this concept as I was watching Mel Robbins, my girl speaker crush from The 5 Second Rule.
Maggie: I might have picked that up from talking to you.
Michelle: Yeah. And how she interacts with her people on social media.
If you post on her Instagram or comment on her Instagram or have a question for her, she responds.
She wants to be your cheerleader.
She is devoted to her audience and to the change she's trying to bring about for them.
In turn, they love her. They talk about The 5 Second Rule to other people.
I can't even tell you how many times I've mentioned it on the Rebel Speaker Podcast, because I'm a devotee of what she's doing and the work she's creating in the world.
All of a sudden, The 5 Second Rule becomes bigger than just Mel Robbins because her devoted fans or followers who got an immediate change from using that 5 Second Rule, tell everyone about it.
I think we saw the same type of thing with Simon Sinek in Start With Why.
Now everybody talks about Start With Why and sometimes they don't cite him, which really annoys me, but that's a whole other thing,
But the point is that Start With Why became so much bigger than him.
And even though he's doing other things now, that legacy lives on.
People are still talking about it, they're still watching that TEDx Talk. There's such power when you create something and then you become devoted to your audience, and you want them to experience that change, and they feel that.
Maggie: Here's what I love about this concept of devotion, is I think it is a core value for me personally is the idea of accessibility. So, when you use Mel Robbins as an example, I've seen her in action and I'm like, “Yeah. That's why people are devoted to her because she’s accessible and devoted to the change, she's super devoted to them, and she's providing something that so many leaders or experts aren't willing to do.”
Maggie: What I hate is that my team will be my buffer. And I get healthy boundaries, but I think so many times we're trying to throw something up between us and our audience, and that's actually really to our detriment.
Michelle: I agree. Because yeah, you can still have your boundaries around accessibility, but showing up on your Instagram feed and responding to comments, that is something that she easily does.
I'm sure with the amount she travels she's probably doing it in trains, planes, and automobiles.
But it's how she shows up for her people and how she shows she cares. And it doesn't feel transactional with Mel Robbins.
I think so many business owners, so many speakers are more concerned with the money than they are with the relationship, that it becomes very transactional.
That's what I love about her, she wants a relationship with the people who follow her.
Maggie: And honestly, love this guy or hate this guy, someone who does accessibility well is Gary Vaynerchuk.
He will call people.
He does the things that other people will not do, and that is why no matter how you feel about that guy, people are devoted to him and his message.
He's got his nation of people and he's not selling them anything.
Michelle: No. He works with super high-end companies. He's not selling those people anything.
But the one thing it does is to help his speaking career, right?
Because they know. Any event knows that if they bring Gary V. in, he brings his platform with him.
He brings his devoted followers with him to that event, and that is so powerful.
Maggie: We've mentioned a couple names of different people.
Who do you think we should be watching or who's kind of quietly creating a movement that we should maybe be looking to and put our eyes on them to learn more how to do this?
Who is a Movement Maker on the Rise
Michelle: Well, I naturally start thinking about my clients because the up and coming movement makers, we don't tend to know about.
I get to work with people on the ground floor of that, helping them with their message.
So, I always think of my friend and client, Imei Hsu. She has over 300 food allergies.
Maggie: Oh my.
Michelle: Yes. 300 food allergies, so she pretty much eats bacon and meat and vegetables.
But when she was first getting diagnosed, there wasn't any information for her to navigate, and she kept getting sick on food that she thought was safe for her, and she'd end up in the hospital or she'd spend hours on the toilet.
It was terrible. And there was no one out there to help her navigate.
The medical industry, her dietitian, none of those people actually knew how to do anything.
Emotionally it was a total bummer because you can't go out to dinner, you can't go over to a friend's house, and you have to do some pretty rebellious moves.
She came to my wedding and she brought her own food because I called her and was like, “Dude, there's going to be nothing for you to eat here.” And she's like, “That's cool. I'll just bring my own food.”
She is on this path of making food fun again because when you have an allergy, eating sucks and it's not fun.
So, she wants to help people make food fun again, and that's her core message and that's what she's rolling out in the world.
I think, personally, she's going to do some very big things for the medical industry and also for the food industry with helping people navigate their food allergies.
She's definitely, in my opinion, one to watch.
Maggie: Awesome. I'm actually super interested in that from the perspective of it maybe not just the allergies, but I think so many of us have a fraught relationship with food, right?
So, it's all about how do we make this fun and not like a, “Oh, I'm going to eat these 10 nuts to punish myself.”
Michelle: I'm going to count every single calorie, and yes.
Maggie: Yeah. I'm over that now. We broke up, me and calorie counting.
Michelle: Me too.
Maggie: That's why we're friends, right?
Michelle: Yeah, totally.
What’s Your Doctorate in?
Maggie: All right. So, one of my favorite things about you is that you are a doctor because it sounds super cool!
But what exactly are you a doctor of?
And in case people don't know, how does that inform what you're doing on a day-to-day basis?
Michelle: So, my doctorate is in communication. I am actually legit.
I understand all of the theories in communication.
And what it really helps me do is understand how the audience processes a message.
Because I don't think what people think about is that if you are a speaker, it is very taxing on the audience member to process what you're saying, to stay focused on your message.
My whole process that I use with my clients, it's all based on some type of communication theory. Like I mentioned earlier, The 3 Word Rebellion is based in social movement theory.
When I talk to people about building out the audience journey, one of the things I'm always fascinated by is what is the resistance to this message?
Because that's inoculation theory. You have to answer that preemptively so people don't object to your message and tune out.
That is always what I'm thinking about, how is the audience going to process this?
How are they going to receive this?
Why are they going to reject this?
And that is based all on my background in communication and getting that Ph.D.
Maggie: So guys, Michelle didn't start just making this up. She's actually legit, which is a rare thing on the internet.
Michelle: I know, I know. And I know I don't do a good enough job of saying like, “No, my doctorate is actually in communication.”
Because I wouldn't have used doctor if, I don't know, I was a doctor of economics and was doing public speaking work and messaging work with people.
Communication has been my passion for years, probably for like 30 years.
Maggie: So, let's say I have an idea for my 3 Word Rebellion.
What’s are the signs that you are ready to work with me?
What's a really good sign that I'm ready to work with you or maybe that I'm not quite ready for a full-on Michelle experience?
Michelle: First, I should say that you don't have to have a fully fleshed out 3 Word Rebellion to work with me.
Most people really struggle with this.
Some people get it. Some people get it immediately and it's amazing, but the majority struggle with it.
What I look for is people who are clear on who their audience is. Who are they calling in with their 3 Word Rebellion?
Because you would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn't be so surprised at how many people are like, “Oh, I speak to women between the ages of 20 and 65.” And I'm like, “Oh.”
Maggie: That's not general.
Michelle: Right. I'm like, “That's a little too general.” You have to know … I think about Imei.
She's speaking to allergy sufferers. It's very clear, it's very succinct, she knows who she's going after.
Knowing that you have an audience and feeling like, “Okay. I have this idea, I think it could be the next big thing for me, I think it's super important, and I don't know how to express it.”
Because what I find is, and I just validated this … I looked at all of my clients currently, and every single one of them is in some type of transition.
Either they've discovered their next big idea and they need to figure it out … Like, one of my clients is working on how to solve the future of work problem; when the machines take our jobs, how do we re-train people?
And other people are transitioning in their business from being more one on one to like, “I want to be the face of my business.”
Those are telltale signs.
If you are in transition and you don't know how to talk about it, and you're a little nervous about talking about it because you know it's important and you want to nail it and get it right, then that's like the perfect time to come in and start working with me.
Don't think that you have to have your 3 Word Rebellion nailed; I can help you with that.
Maggie: I will say, guys, I have worked with Michelle and she didn't ask me this, but you need to work with her, this is what you need
Just saying. I'm a happy client right here.
Before we enter the speed round, I want to know something that's really been on my mind, and I haven't asked you about this; I was saving it for today.
Maggie: Why three words?
Can I have a five-word rebellion?
Because I'm a little rebellious like that.
Michelle: Well, I do give a range, right? So, it's two to five words.
And part of the reason is that people remember best what they hear in threes.
And there's also this other rule called the rule of seven, plus or minus two, I think it is. Or plus or minus three.
And that's the reason why our phone numbers are seven digits because we can remember seven digits.
We can hold seven things in our mind. Since words have a little bit more data than digits, three to five seems like what people can remember.
Also, three words make a great hashtag for what you're trying to do because you want to spread your message.
You want people to have a way to identify your message. So, having a hashtag-able 3 Word Rebellion is amazing.
Maggie: Or even think about like a tagline. So many times I'll be working with clients on a tagline, so I'm like, “This isn't a tagline. This is a sentence.” What just happened here? It's an entire sentence. Let's put a period at the end and put it on the website.
Michelle: Exactly! I think one of the things I find interesting about The 3 Word Rebellion is that it should inspire a response of either, “I get it, and I'm in” or “Ooh, I'm curious. Tell me more.”
Because I remember when I first heard The 5 Second Rule from Mel Robbins, it was like, “I don't know what that is, but I'm going to google until I find out.”
Maggie: What I really like about Start With Why or 5 Second Rule is it's clever, but it's not hard to understand.
And I think that so many times, especially in the circles we run in, Michelle, is people get so stuck on trying to be super fancy about it and it's like no, actually.
You're not going to be able to call your people in because I'm not going to know what you're talking about.
Michelle: No, and I think that's a common misconception.
People think they need to make it sexy, like it really has to pop.
And yeah, Start With Why, not sexy at all, but compelling.
The clearer you can be with your message or in your 3 Word Rebellion, the better off you are.
I think that's how a lot of people get in their own way when trying to find their 3 Word Rebellion.
They think, “It needs to be super clever.”
And I tell them, “No. It needs to be super clear.”
Maggie: Yeah. I mean, goldfish have a longer attention span than us, right?
The Speed Round
Maggie: All right. So, I have the speed round now for you as we wrap up.
Maggie: Get ready.
Michelle: Okay, I'm ready. I think.
Maggie: If you couldn't do what you do now, what would you do instead? Career-wise.
Michelle: Musical theater.
Maggie: Oh, I love it. Which one of your three cats is most like you?
Michelle: Probably Attie.
Maggie: Okay. I didn't know which one you were going to pick, so …
Michelle: I know. She's a little bit more … You know what I like about Attie? She says what she thinks and she gets what she needs. She's very much the leader of this little tribe I have going on here. So, she's always getting her needs met and I do the same.
Maggie: What is the best book you've read in the last year?
Michelle: Oh my gosh. That is so hard because I've read so many books.
Maggie: I’m sort of looking for book recommendations.
Michelle: I know, I know. I'm looking at my desk and right now it’s covered with the books I've been collecting books that have really great interior layouts for The 3 Word Rebellion book.
What is a book that has had an impact on me? Well, I did read The 5 Second Rule and that was an amazing book.
I wish I had my Kindle because it's not coming to my head.
Maggie: All right. Well, we'll go with 5 Second Rule.
Michelle: Yeah. And I'm also reading Andrea Owen's book, How to Stop Feeling Like Shit, which is excellent for all the ways women self-sabotage.
She tells it how it is and you can see yourself like, “Oh, I do this. I don't do this, but I do this and this,” so that's a great book, too.
Maggie: Yeah, that is a super solid book. It's on my to-be-read list.
We'll have to see if my library gets it.
What is the book we should all read to help us improve our communication skills?
Michelle: I am a fan of Donald Miller's Building A StoryBrand book.
Although… One of the things that annoys me about that book is it's totally based on the hero's journey and he does not cite Joseph Campbell, which is annoying and a little questionably ethical, but the book is solid.
For me, one of the big takeaways is how do you position yourself as the guide instead of the hero, because you want to be more like Yoda than you do Luke Skywalker.
Maggie: You know, you're preaching to the choir right here.
That's one of my biggest pet peeves, especially in the entrepreneur space. I don't care you were living on your sister's couch.
Michelle: No. Nobody cares.
Maggie: What is your favorite food?
Michelle: Ooh. My favorite food …I love sushi, which is kind of funny because my husband doesn't love sushi, so I don't get it very often.
Maggie: All right. I was going to ask you your favorite vacation spot, but I think it's very clear to everyone that knows you it's Hawaii.
So, what is one place you want to visit that you haven't already and why?
Michelle: I would love to go to Australia and New Zealand, just because it's so beautiful, the people are so friendly.
I've had so many clients from Australia who are just amazing. And it just seems just like a wonderful place to go and hang out and have great beaches.
Maggie: And kangaroos and …
Michelle: And kangaroos and koala bears.
Maggie: And octopuses. Like, think of all the options.
Michelle: I know, I'm so excited.
Maggie: That's all of my questions in the speed round.
I think you handled that really well because you had no idea what I was going to ask.
Michelle: No, no, no. So, that was awesome.
Thank you so much, Maggie, for being here and celebrating the hundredth episode with me.
It has been so fantastic, these questions were amazing, so thank you, and this was a great conversation.
Maggie: You've got to get Simon Sinek to interview you.
Michelle: I know, right? So, here's to a hundred more episodes.
Maggie: Yes. And to us cheersing in person in 2018.
Michelle: Yes. Soon we will meet in person or see each other again in person.
Woo hoo! And then we can celebrate officially.
So, thank you everyone for tuning into this very special episode of The Rebel Speaker Podcast, and I am looking forward to the next hundred episodes with you.
We'll see you soon.