Ep. 42 – Unlocking Potential And Amplifying Talent

Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Content & Graphic Design Manager - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Content & Graphic Design Manager - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Ep 42 - Unlocking Potential And Amplifying Talent with SpeakerFlow and Rick Lozano
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In today’s episode, we’re talking with Rick Lozano, musician and leadership extraordinaire.

Rick stumbled into the speaking space after having a leader unlock and amplify his own talents.

We talk leadership, how to make leading dead simple (even for you solopreneurs out there), and how to discover your own “Rickness” – you’ll have to listen for context.

Rick also shares his musicianship with us by playing some hilarious songs he wrote about his journey so far as a speaker.

You seriously don’t want to miss this one!

Why are you still reading?? Smash that play button. πŸ’₯

Listen to the Podcast 🎀

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Show Notes πŸ““

βœ…Β  Β Get Rick’s Book, Acoustic Leadership: https://acousticleadership.com

🎀   Thank you to our sponsor, Auxbus! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Get your free offer here: https://auxbus.com/speakerflow

πŸš€Β  Β And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription πŸ€“

Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking. We’re your hosts, Taylorr and Austin, and today we are talking with Rick Lozano, musician and leadership extraordinare. Now, Rick stumbled into the speaking space after having a leader unlock and amplify his own talents, so we’re talking today about leadership, how to make leading dead simple, even for you solopreneurs out there who think leadership isn’t required, and how to discover your own quote unquote, “Rick-ness.” You’ll just have to listen to the episode for context on that one. Now, Rick also shares his musicianship with us in this episode by playing some hilarious songs he wrote about his journey so far as a speaker. Now, with over 20 years of experience in award winning talent and leadership development programs, Rick helps organizations, teams, and leaders and provide the tools they need to thrive. Rick brings his unique approach to audiences across the globe, combining his experience as a world-class speaker with his talents as a singer, songwriter, and musician. He’s the author of “Acoustic Leadership: Develop A Leadership Culture That Resonates,” and the founder of “Unlock and Amplify.” He has built a reputation for his refreshing delivery that leaves audiences raving and, more importantly, with action items that can immediately implement to produce change. Rick has been a longtime friend of ours here at SpeakerFlow. He’s an amazing person, and I think this has been, by far, the most fun we’ve ever had in an episode, and I think you’ll see why shortly. As always, stick around until the end, and we hope you enjoy this one. All right, and we are live! Rick, it is so awesome to have you on the show. It’s been, it’s been a while. It’s a… it’s been a long, long time in the making.

Rick: It has been a long time in the making, and I’m thrilled to be here. You guys have done such a great job with this and having so many other great people on here. I’m humbled and honored to be here with you today.

Austin: We’re humbled and honored to have you on, man. A literal rock star is with us today, folks.

Taylorr: Yeah, you’re gonna hear it, too. It’s gonna be exciting. Oooo…

Rick: It’s gonna be fun. I guarantee.

Taylorr: Stay tuned to the end! So, Rick, you know, as I’m sure you know, and all of our listeners know, at this point, the very first question we love to kick this whole thing off with is like, how did you get into the speaking space? What was your journey like? And, you know, why did you stick around?

Rick: You know, like most people that you guys interview, it’s – it was quite by accident. I intended on being a school teacher, and I actually was for a little while. I don’t think you guys know this about me – I was a high school teacher. Did you know that?Β 

Taylorr: No.Β 

Austin: Wow.Β 

Taylorr: Really?Β 

Austin: What did you teach?Β 

Rick: Theater arts teacher.

Austin: Oh, I guess that kind of makes sense. [cross-talk 02:51]

Taylorr: So cool. What a cool gig. [cross-talk 02:54]

Rick: And what wound up happening is my career wound up being in leadership and talent development, and I’ve been in leadership and talent development for more than 20 years. And I started off in banking, and I taught you know, when from teller training to manager training to sales training, diversity and inclusion, onboarding, you name it. I trained everything. And, about 10 years after – into my career, I wound up going into the technology sector, and they are my focus was primarily leadership development. So that’s where I did most of my work, and here’s what happened.Β 

About eight years ago, I had a leader who changed my life. Didn’t mean to change my life, but what happened was that this leader and I sat down for one-on-one one day and he said, “Rick, you’re great at three things.” I said, “Really? That’s it?” He said, “Yes, three things. That’s it. You are a great speaker, you’re a great trainer, and you’re a great musician. You should do those three things. Focus everything on those three things.” I said, “Well, you know, cool. That’s kind of what I’m doing, and I have a gig next week at such-and-such,” he’s like, “No, no, no. Do more of that here. Do those things here.” And I said, “What in the hell do you mean?” “No, do more of that here. Find a way to bring your music to work.” And I had no idea what this guy was talking about. But I said, “Okay, well, what does that mean? You know, do I bring my guitar to work?” We’re doing compliance training. What am I supposed to do with that? But I said, “Okay,” and, you know, sometimes things just work, and so I started bringing my guitar to work.Β 

And, you know, at first it was just hanging around, just lying there, and I said, “Hey, why not use it?” So I started using it in some team-building sessions, and then we we had an onboarding program where we said, “Hey, let’s create this talk show thing, and we’ll play the music in there,” and something magical happened. I started thinking like a musician at work, and all of a sudden, all of these connections just sort of appeared out of nowhere and they magically coalesced in this one event.Β 

So I decided to speak at – to apply to speak at an international conference. And this, this conference is a talent development conference. 10,000 people show up every year, and about 1000 speakers submit proposals, but only a couple of 100 actually get in, right? And I said, “Hey, I’m a nobody, nobody knows who I am. There’s no way in the world I have a chance of getting in here so, hey, why not? Why not go with it?” Right? So I came up with this idea, and the idea was this: The session description read, “What do your favorite musicians and the most successful facilitators have in common? Engaged audiences. In this session we’ll lean on the world of music to apply lessons to the world of training and blah, blah, blah.” And it was total BS, but it was like, okay, so we – Oh, by the way, the name of it was this – check this out. “Sweet Caroline: A Super Setlist for Sensational Learning Sessions.”Β 

Austin: Nice. I love that.Β 

Rick: The alliteration, right? Anyway, so I submitted this proposal, and it got accepted. And I had no idea. I was like, “Oh, crap.” I didn’t even build the thing. I just made up this this description. And so it’s like, “Okay, well, you know, well, let’s do it. What can I learn from music and apply to the world of training at that point in time?” and it was amazing. I showed up at this conference, and I had no idea. But, apparently, the, the session title was a hit, and before the session even began, there was standing room only. The police had to come and kick people out, and I was going, “Oh, my God, I have no idea what’s happening here.” And it rocked, and, you know, I got a standing ovation. And then there was this gigantic line of people waiting to talk to me after the conference, and I was just – I was amazed by it. And several people in line said, “Hey, can you come speak at our organization? Can you come speak at our organization?” And then next thing, you know, I started doing that, and people started saying, “Hey, what do you charge?” “Oh, my God, I have no idea.” And and it just went on from there, and I started taking time off of my day job – I started taking vacation time – to speak on the side, and yeah, finally, it just that that became how I got into keynote speaking. Crazy, right?

Taylorr: Wow, what a journey!

Austin: That’s such a cool story. I can’t believe it. Something that you said just reminded me of a newsletter, I actually read from Ozon Varol, by the way – so, Ozan, if you’re listening to this, shout out – love that guy. Anyways, he was talking about this practice that they have at Google, where when they’re sitting down to be creative and come up with new ideas or solve problems, they’ll occasionally do “bad idea brainstorming” where, like, the entire point of the conversation is to come up with as many bad ideas as possible and even gave some funny examples like a fuel cell in your body that like harvests your body fat to create power. Weird things, but the point was that, like, by, by putting this framework around your thought process, meaning the this creative outlet of this bad idea brainstorming, that allowed the really good ideas to start flowing. And I’m kind of wondering if it’s a similar principle that you felt like maybe applied with the music side of things where, because all of a sudden you had this framework to build around, it allowed you to be more creative, since it wasn’t the typical framework for why you were doing that. Was that – what do you think about that?

Rick: That’s exactly what happened, and it was just this sort of creative, you know, wellspring of ideas to pull from. And I didn’t know it would work, but but it did. And from there, I started bringing my guitar into almost everything that I did, and, you know, I didn’t use it all the time, because you got to find the right balance. But it was indeed just this, this this wealth of possible connections that I hadn’t even thought of before.

Taylorr: Wow, incredible. So, rumor has it, Rick, as cool as that story is, you actually wrote a song about this entire thing.

Rick: So, yes, and it wasn’t entirely my fault. So a keynote – I was a closing keynote at this conference in Columbia, South Carolina, and this, this guy came up to me afterwards, he’s like, “Oh, that was incredible. Thank you so much.” And he says, “How do I be like you?” And I said, “Well, you need to question your life choices. You don’t want to be like me. That’s crazy.” He said, “No, no, no. Like, how do you – how did you become a keynote speaker, and how do you do the thing that you do?” I said, “Well, you know, I mean, it’s different for everyone.” As you guys know, every single person on this show has a different, you know, story that they tell. So I told this guy my story, and he says, “Oh, that’s awesome. You should work that into your next keynote.” And I just kind of laughed it off. He said, “No, no. Write a song about it. Call it ‘How To Be Like Me.'”Β 

So, ladies and gentlemen, in the SpeakerFlow community, this is the exact step-by-step process for how to be a keynote speaker, and, by the way, this is a joke. I don’t take myself that seriously. Here we go! This is a true story, by the way.Β 

Graduate from college with a useless degree, move to California to set yourself free, grow your hair long and join a crappy band, and that’s how you be like me. Move to Colorado with a girl who is a clown – that might need a little context, maybe – she was, she wasn’t always a clown. She went to clown college. This, this doesn’t help does it? It’s okay. I’ll move on. By the way. She’s in the NSA. Anyway, move to Colorado with a girl who is a clown, break up because you’re afraid to settle down, move on back to Texas for a teaching degree, and that’s how you’d be like me.Β 

Move back to Colorado for a woman that you met, struggle for the bills ’cause you don’t have a job yet. Married and divorced. See how easy this can be? That’s how you be like me. All right, here’s where it gets complicated. Quit teaching, move to banking, quit banking, back to teaching, quit teaching back to banking, get a job, teaching banking. See how that works? Stay a corporate trainer ’cause you love what you do. Work for tech code, try something new. No more suits and ties on my body you will see, and that’s how you be like me.Β 

Find the love of your life. Marriage, kids, let’s celebrate. She thinks this song is stupid, but I think it’s really great. Become a singing speaker who teaches how to lead, and that’s how you’ll be like me. That’s right. That’s how you’ll be like me – One more time! That’s how you be me.Β 

Taylorr: Yeah! [cross-talk 11:12]

Austin: That was amazing. Rick, we got to just take a moment to acknowledge how awesome that really was. [cross-talk 11:24]

Rick: It’s so funny, though, ’cause like everyone just gets here in such a different way, right? And that was my journey, and yeah… teaching, banking, back to teaching. It is crazy.

Austin: Yeah. Man, that’s awesome. Okay. So, you ended that with you teach people how to lead, right? To segue us, right? I mean, like you, you just came out with a book, “Acoustic Leadership,” which is super exciting. And from what I understand, when when you were first kind of poking down the path for this topic, you had put a Google search in like, you know, “how to be a better leader” or something like that, and got the, you know, 1012-figure number of responses that Google offers on that subject. And so I’m curious, like, why, despite all of the information out there, did you still feel the call to write a book about leadership?

Rick: That’s a great question, and I kept asking myself that question. And the exact number? So, yeah, I went to Google, and I said, “how to be a better leader” and 561 million pages worth of suggestions. No, it was – it was funny because I’ve been working in this world, and I asked myself that question, “Why? Why does the world need another leadership book?” And I nailed down two ideas or two reasons. And the first is, because we still need it. I mean, if you look at the state of the world, and leadership everywhere, we’re trying to figure out how to navigate in this, this, this workforce that’s constantly changing and dynamic, and from a sheer numbers perspective –I know you guys like data. Gallup, of course – they’re the organization that always surveys, workforce engagement – workforce engagement, has been sitting at around 34% for years, and what that means is only 34% of us – 1/3 of all people who go to work, or only only 1/3 – qualify themselves or identify as actively engage. Right?Β 

What that means is on the other flip side, there’s 14% of people who’s, who are completely actively disengaged. And then there’s the majority of us who sit in this middle at what 52% if the math is right? 52% of us are just, “Meh. Work’s okay.” And, and I think that’s bad in one sense, because I don’t want to just be okay. I want to feel great about the work that I do. But the other thing that really stood out to me was there was another number that was core that was involved in this. And it was that 70% – there was a 70% variation on people’s, you know, how they identified, disengaged, engaged, and so on – 70% variation based on how they felt about their leader. And by the way, that situation is even, you know, there’s some data coming out now, post-COVID (hopefully, post-COVID) in this world, where there’s still this giant disconnect between how leaders are experiencing their work life, and how the people that report to them are. So there’s this gap there.Β 

So one is we apparently still need it. The second reason I wrote this book is because information without emotion means absolutely nothing, right? You can Google anything. You can literally know anything right now in a couple of clicks, and we have access to all the information in the world. And what the problem with that is, is it creates this sense of false competency. People think, “Hey, I read this on the internet. I know how to do it.” And I see it over and over, especially in the world of talent and leadership development. People will be like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, I’m great at that, because I read it on the internet.” But you and I both know, that’s not how it works. And so we’ve got to bridge this gap between conceptual and applicable, right? Between knowledge and concept into actual practice. In the… in the training world, one way we do that, of course, is skill practice and repetition and feedback.Β 

But, in a book, I was listening to the Stephen Shapiro podcast that you guys did the other day – which was great, by the way. He said something that I think all of us can agree with is you got to change how people think. And we, as speakers, as people who stand on stage and try and influence others, we can’t just, you know, give them information. We’ve got to change the way they think. We’ve got to give them a different perspective, and, if we can, we need to emotionally connect with them, give them an emotional reason of feeling to want to do something different. And that’s, that’s why I wrote the book, and that’s why I wrote it the way I did, using music as a means to connect.

Taylorr: I’m so glad you told that story. I feel like it’s so easy, like – especially for people who are just getting into the thought leadership space for the first time or maybe they’re contemplating their second or third book around the subject they’ve already kind of written about – you kind of got to ask yourself, like, “How can I contribute to all this noise that’s out there?” You know? And it can be really daunting to try and… I don’t know… feel confident that the work that you’re producing, that book you’re writing, that keynote you’re creating is, you know, can stand up against every every other idea that’s out there, you know? So, I feel like so many people can relate to that, that story. And I’m really glad you found, you found a way to differentiate yourself with all the noise that’s out there.

Rick: Thank you. It’s, you know, it’s difficult, and you’ve got to trust in yourself. And again, I have a perspective to share, and if I can share it in a way that moves somebody to do something different than, hey, I’m successful by doing it, right? Whether or not that leads to gazillions of dollars, if I can help somebody be better at their work or change the way they think – that that to me is all the success in the world.

Taylorr: For sure. So I’m curious, Rick, like, from your, from your seat, like, what are some of the things like we’re getting wrong with leadership? Like, why are so many people disengaged, and what recommendations do you have for helping leaders? And I mean including all the speakers, coaches, consultants, experts who, you know, listen to this podcast.

Rick: Yeah, and one of the things that I think is really great about this book and this concept is it apply, it applies to everyone. You know? It’s not just leaders or managers with a title. It’s influencers. It’s teammates. It’s co-workers. We all have an influence on somebody else, right? And you’ve got this giant group of people in every organization who don’t have manager titles, but are leading anyway, right? So don’t you want them to do it well? I think that’s the first mistake is we don’t realize that management or, excuse me, leadership doesn’t come along with the title all the time. Now, one of the things – and, of course, from my perspective, I was in leadership development – and this is a true story. I got overwhelmed. You talk about noise. I’m in the space of helping develop leaders, and what I realized was we are making this complicated. We’re not helping leaders be successful, and I’ll give you one example.Β 

If you’ve done any leadership work, you know that there’s this… there’s a lot of reliance on leadership competencies, and there’s an entire approach that’s based on competency, you know, based leadership development. And what they do is they come up with all of these competencies, all of these things that we expect leaders to be proficient in. And look – competencies are great. I think it’s important for leaders or anyone really to know what’s expected of them and what success looks like in their job. But what I found was we were doing this work of creating our own competency model, and we were looking across the world at other competency models. And I saw things like this, and this is just an example of kind of how we’re over complicating the situation.Β 

I went to the year – US Bureau of Personnel Management, right? And they had six general competencies of leadership, and you’d expect them right? So communication, driving for results, business acumen, you know, building relationships, and so on. And each one of those competencies was subdivided into 29 individual competencies, right? Like, “effectively negotiates conflict to produce a win-win situation,” right. So that’s already getting complicated enough, and then we rate people against these competencies, say on a scale of one to five, and we’ve got five different levels of proficiency. And now, if I do the math correct there, we’re looking at 145 different levels of proficiency that we expect leaders to be great at. Are you kidding me?Β 

Taylorr: Sounds like cake.Β 

Rick: Yeah, it doesn’t make any sense. We expect people to be great at everything. Now, here’s the thing that I – it was driving me nuts. Because in the leadership programs that I’ve been a part of, there was a lot of competency-based discussions, but also feedback and evaluations. You get data, you know. Then, that rates you against those competencies, and we’ve got such arbitrary means of doing that. And I’ll give you a clear example. I was working on this one particular competency it was… “handles conflict in in an effective manner,” right? So handles conflict in an effective manner. And the guidelines that we were using to rate people against it, whether they were a four or five – this is a true story. This was how it was written. A four – if you’re a four at that competency – it’s because you can demonstrate that competency in a quote “considerably difficult situation.” If you’re a five at that competency, you can demonstrate that competency in a, quote, “exceptionally difficult situation.” I mean, are you serious?Β 

Taylorr: Very subjective.Β 

Rick: Yeah, it’s totally subjective! And, you know, I can imagine, right? You and I are in an argument, I say, “Wait, hold on, Taylorr. Are we in a exceptionally difficult situation or is, you know, this consider –.” It’s ridiculous! I remember from my own experience, I was in an Emerging Leadership program years ago, and the data that I got just didn’t make any sense. And it had no context, and, ultimately for me, when I was thinking about how we help people, it was like, look. We spend so much time telling people they’ve got to develop in all these areas, and the truth is you’re not going to be great at everything. Stop trying to fix all of these things that are wrong with people, and, especially as leaders, our biggest power is stop trying to fix people. Focus people. And I know you and I – Taylorr and Austin – we’ve had these communications in SpeakerFlow where we’re trying to help leaders. “Hey, you don’t need to do everything. Do the right things.” Stop trying to fix people. Instead, focus them, and that’s one thing that we can do.

Austin: Man, I love that. That’s such a good perspective, too, and I mean, it totally makes sense. We’ve seen this ourselves in our past lives, while we were training salespeople, where a lot of the times the people that would become sales managers in the organizations that we worked with it was – predicated on their competency as even a sales person, maybe not even managerial competencies. And when it comes to actually being a leader, right, like, just because we’re really good at the job doesn’t even indicate that we’re going to be a leader that people want to follow. And I think part of that – and you can tell me if you think I’m off base with this here – but part of that, intuitively, to me seems like the skills that make a truly great leader exceptional are hard to measure, like, like, you know?

Rick: I totally know, and it’s ridiculous the ways that we kind of kind of do it. I’ll give you an example exactly based on that. I’ll go back to the world of competencies. I remember one competency was this. I don’t know, it was like, you know, “drive for results” was the the main bucket. But this is, this is a quote – I’m quoting out of this, this manual – it says, “This leader uses logical methods to solve difficult problems with effective solutions.” How do you measure that? How do you measure if somebody is using logical methods? And even even better, what if they use completely illogical methods and it works? Are we gonna penalize someone for creative thinking? That’s, that’s ridiculous. And I think, to your point, one of the biggest things that we’ve done wrong for decades is to say, “This is how leadership looks. This is the path everyone needs to take.” Because kind of like you mentioned, there’s people who aren’t following that path that are doing it really, really well, and those are the people that I looked at for inspiration in the book, because I wanted to learn from those people who weren’t following all those same typical, traditional sort of models.

Austin: Yeah, that makes sense. Okay, so with this in mind, like, I’m starting to understand your perspective here. And I think like, intuitively, this makes sense to me, what you’re saying, but I also am… I’m feeling a little bit like, we need to focus on the areas that are harder to measure, which feels difficult to pinpoint the specific things that somebody can do to actually improve, right? So do you have – do you have an answer to that?

Rick:Β Β I do have an answer to that, and I think part of the problem is, again, we are looking at things and expecting people to be great at everything. But, when it really comes down to it, in my opinion, then let’s, let’s look specifically at an organization for a minute. At an organizational level, the question is, “What do we expect our leaders to do?” And in my mind, the answer is “We expect leaders to, you know, produce results to be inspirational and whatnot to get those results. But we also expect leaders to balance that with engagement. We’ve got to help leaders make people feel great about the work that we’re doing.” And one of the areas that I thought of when it came to the book was, “Okay, how do we do that?” And I realized that there was three things. If we just do three simple things, and if we make that the focus, we’ll get a little bit more clarity on everything.Β 

And in the book, those three simple things are “simplicity,” “authenticity,” and “opportunity.” And, at a very high level, it’s this: look simple. Make it simple for people to do their best work. I think one thing that’s often misunderstood or people don’t understand completely is no one wants to be horrible at their job. People come to work every day and they want to be good, right? They, they show up with this ambition and this – nobody comes to work to suck at their jobs, right? Like, “Hey, it’s Tuesday. I’m gonna suck today.” Nobody does that. And, and we’ve got to help people be great at their job, and let’s make it as simple as possible.Β 

So that’s number one, make it simple for people to do their best work. And, in the book, we have a lot of ideas and practices that we go through to help create that clarity. The second one – and this really applies to the world of speaking as well – authenticity. You guys know this: the speaking business is all about relationships. The relationships you build, the relationships you maintain, and, as leaders or speakers, we’ve got to build and develop authentic relationships built on trust, built on respect, built on safety. All of those things are crucially important, and one thing that we also talk about in the book is this concept of authenticity and accountability. People often say, “Oh, accountability is, you know, holding people accountable can erode trust.” It’s actually the opposite. If I hold you accountable, I’m building trust, because you know what to expect from me, and you and I know that we’re going to be, you know, holding each other accountable for the work that’s done.Β 

So simplicity, authenticity, and then, finally, opportunity. We need to help people elevate themselves. We need to give them the tools and resources to be that successful person that they want to be, and we’ve got to rewrite the rules of what we consider or who we consider leaders. We’ve got to give everyone the opportunity to develop as leaders and develop in their “jet stream,” so to speak, in their areas of natural excellence. Rather than trying to fix people, again, let’s focus them on those areas of natural excellence, and, by the way, I have proof of that, right? That leader said, “Hey, do these three things,” and suddenly, when I did those three things, my career completely skyrocketed.

Taylorr: Wow. I like how simple you’ve made that, you know? Like you’ve taken this kind of noisy world of leadership and all these kind of 561 different million ideas, and you’ve got a process that simplifies how people should lead. And I think that’s – it’s hard to come by, and especially like, even for our listeners, right, speakers, coaches, consultants, even though we run smaller teams, right? Like being able to have this skill set and make leadership not so complicated? We’re already doing enough as business owners, like, being a way to really conceptualize some of this stuff is crucial. So, man, I’m so happy you broke it down that way, and one thing that you mentioned, though, is like, is simplicity, authenticity and opportunity. Right? Now, no one wants to show up and suck at their job. They always want to show up and be awesome, quite literally. But how do we give people the opportunity to be awesome, you know, regardless of whatever role they’re in?

Rick: Yeah, there’s so many different ways to do that. I think, again, first is focusing into their areas of natural excellence rather than weakness. We spend so much time trying to fix what’s wrong with people, and look – we’re gonna get marginally better. For example, I suck at Excel. Me and Excel have this love/hate relationship, and you know what? I can take online lessons, and I can get better. But the question is, where am I spending my time? Am I spending my time trying to get a little bit better at the areas that I’m horrible at? Or am I spending a whole lot more time at the areas where I’m already good?Β 

And I’ll give you a direct example here. When it comes to development at work, whether it’s leaders or the people they lead, we’ve got to invest time and money in the most opportunities and the biggest opportunities that make the most sense. So, for example, let’s just, let’s just say somebody is a great speaker, right? So if somebody is a great speaker, you know what? Let’s invest even more time and money in helping them become an even better speaker rather than spending those development dollars on things that just help them get a little bit better.Β 

I had this, this – I remember this very clearly because I had a leader, and he was he was really devoted to helping people, you know, get better. And one day he came up to me said, “Hey, Rick, I’ve got your next development idea. I know what we’re going to do.” And I was like, “Cool! What is it?” He’s like, “We’re gonna send you to a program to get some certifications in data visualization.” And I said, “Do you even know me? Look at me! That’s not what I do. I’m not that guy!” And I pushed back, and he’s like, “No, but, you know, our department needs this, and it’s really important because we’ve got to tell our story better.” I said, “Look, I can do that, and I might get better. But that’s a waste of time and money. Oh, and by the way, Allison, who’s on our team – she’d be awesome at that. Develop her in that particular area, give me give me, you know, a membership to the National Speakers Association. That’s an investment in me that’s going to pay off exponentially.” So when it comes to developing people, we’ve got to find the right choices that really match again, their areas of excellence.

Austin: I just gotta, like, throw out there on this point, too – because what you’re saying applies to any business, any leader, 100%, no doubt – for a lot of our listeners that are solopreneurs, let’s say: This principle 100% applies to you as a leader of yourself, meaning like, you know, if you’re not the best person in the world at, I don’t know, writing copy on your website, right? Like, if that’s not your strong suit, delegate that to somebody else who can do it. Like, you don’t have to be the best at every single thing when it comes to running a business. If you do, you’re gonna waste an insane amount of time to get marginally better at skills that you could easily outsource. And, instead, focus on the areas that you can create the most impact, that juice you up, that gets you excited, that, that remind you why you started the business in the first place. And, Rick, I mean, I know you, you’ve experienced this for yourself firsthand. We have the benefit of knowing you, and so we know that there’s been specific instances in your own business where you’ve applied this principle to yourself, and you’ve delegated the things that you’re not amazing at because you should be doing the things that you are amazing at. So just know that this applies to you as an individual as much as it applies to you managing a team.

Rick: Absolutely it does. That it does indeed. You know, I want to clarify something because oftentimes, this discussion gets painted as a “follow your passion” discussion, and look. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, necessarily, but, but I remember years ago I got pushback on that. Because I used to say that like, “Hey, look at me! My passion is music and look what it did for me!” And everyone sort of said, “Well, yeah, but not everyone does that.” And this one guy in the middle of a session that I was facilitating, he says, “Yeah, well, what if my passion is stripping? What do I do with that? How do I bring that to work?” And it’s like, alright, well, first, you’re a jerk, but – number two – you know, what can you learn from that passion to apply here? It’s not a direct, you know, “Hey, I love dancing so I’m gonna, you know, dance in my career.” But what it is – and kind of like we mentioned earlier – is, “What can we borrow from that area of natural excellence, where you’re already great at it?” Let’s think about dancers for a second.Β  Balance. Precision. Technique. All of those things are transferable skills to the work that you do. If you think like a dancer and apply those things, you’re going to be so much better at what you do.

Taylorr: Just a simple way to get better at what you’re doing, Rick. Thank you so much for all of these insights. I feel like I got an education in leadership today. That’s why we do these episodes.Β 

Rick: Thank you!

Taylorr: Yeah, certainly! So, as you know, we’re all about creating value for our listeners. What are some of the things you’re working on right now that everyone can benefit from?

Rick: So there’s obviously the book. It’s “Acoustic Leadership: Develop A Leadership Culture That Resonates,” and I’m really proud of that. But you know, I was thinking about this question, because I knew you were gonna ask it [cross-talk 32:02]. I wanted to throw some, some, some gratitude back to the NSA community. And do you guys know Brian Walter?Β 

Taylorr: Oh, yeah.Β 

Rick: So Brian Walter – he is a past president of NSA, the National NSA. He is the owner of Extreme Meetings. Brian and I met at a conference, and I knew who he was because he had just, I think, finished his term as president. And I’m walking down the hallway of this conference, and again, there’s like 10 balls, and I happen to spot Brian. And I knew who he was, but he didn’t know who I was, and I stopped and introduced myself. And, you know, we started talking. And Brian, you know, you talked about NSH values. One of them is “Abundant Generosity,” and Brian said, “Hey, I’d love to come to your session. And which one is it? When is it?” And I said, “Wow, thank you. That’d be awesome.” He said, you know, “What time?” and so on. And I said, “I’d love you, you know, not only just show up, but give me some feedback. Let me know what you think.”Β 

Brian spent an hour – later on that night, we were at a networking event, and he and I met up, and he spent an hour talking with me. And what I loved about the conversation – he didn’t say, “You did this wrong, you did this wrong.” He said, “Wow, here’s all the things that you’re great at. Let’s do them even better by making these few tiny tweaks.” And one thing that he said to me that I’ll never forget – he said, “You need to own your ‘Rick-ness.'” I was like, “What does that mean?” He’s like, “You need to own your ‘Rick-ness.’ You’re talking about leadership concepts, and everyone talks about leadership, but you have this unique perspective and some of the things that you’re saying nobody else is saying. So, when it comes to that, tell the story using your stories. Tell the story using your perspective. You’re already using this musical thing. Go even further with that. Own your ‘Rick-ness.’Β 

Now, how does this apply to everyone in the Technically Speaking audience? It’s the same thing. Look – there’s a gazillion speakers out there, and many of them are talking about the same thing. And I’m sorry – nobody wants to hear the “sharpen your saw” story or the “starfish” story anymore. The value here is in your perspective. Share your story. Share your perspective. Own your experience. Own your journey. Own your ‘Rick-ness,” like Brian taught me, and I guess what? For you guys, it’s your “Taylorr-ness” and you’re “Aust-eliciousness?” [cross-talk 34:25]

Austin: I think we need to trademark that.Β 

Taylorr: Yeah, seriously. That’s going to go in the SpeakerFlow merge store. Wow.Β 

Rick: That’s the title. “Own Your “Aust-eliciousness”.Β 

Taylorr: Yeah, maybe, huh? Well, Rick, man, thank you so much for coming on the show today. This has been just a jam-packed and extremely valuable episode. I’m – it’s so awesome to have you on the show. I just I must ask one last time.Β 

Rick: Yes.Β 

Taylorr: Any chance you might play a song for for us? [cross-talk 34:52]

Rick: Of course! For you guys? Anything. I’ll do one more song so check this out. One of my latest keynotes is called “Unlock & Amplify,” and it’s all about helping people unlock and amplify talent and potential, right? And I did this, this keynote, and I realized, you know, most of my keynotes have a song or two in them, and I realized I hadn’t written a song for this one. So I did. By the way, I do – in my keynotes, you know – tend to create hokey songs, but I’m actually a real songwriter. And I’ve got like six albums on Spotify and, Austin, you didn’t know this about me. I was a finalist in a national community radio songwriting competition that took place in Park City, Utah. So right outside of you.

Austin: Whoa, represent!Β 

Rick: Anway, yeah, so I do have quote, unquote, “real music.” But that’s not what you want to hear. So here’s a song that I wrote this year for a keynote. We were living in the world of Zoom, and I was doing a whole lot of virtual training, and I thought, “Okay, I’m going to combine the world of training in the world of Zoom.” And I thought about training – by the way, that’s where I met my wife. My wife was an attendee and one of my training sessions, and of course, the joke goes, “I trained her and she’s been training me ever since,” right? So I said, “What does love and finding relationships look like in the world of Zoom training?” So this is “The Zoom Love Song.” Here we go.

Met her in Zoom, couldn’t smell her perfume? Here wallpaper is in good taste. She could be quite tall, or she might be quite small. I’ve only seen up from her waist. Because it’s Zoom, right? I’m Zooming ‘cross the internet into your house. Take a chance. You have a cute smile. Hey, let’s meet for a while.I hope I still fit my pants ’cause it’s COVID. I don’t know if they fit anymore. All right, verse two. She’s got calico cats, and she’s witty in chat. We decided we’d go on a date. Flowers in hand I was feeling quite grand when her husband showed up at the gate.

I’m back to Zooming ‘cross the Internet. Just never know what you’ll get. It ain’t working for me – okay, enough – virtually. Lookin’ for love on the ‘Net. Oh no. Lookin’ for love on the ‘Net – One more time! Lookin’ for love on the ‘Net. The Zoom Love Song!

Taylorr: Rick, what an episode! Everyone, if you like this episode, don’t forget to rate it, like it, subscribe to it. If you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all in one suite of tools you need to run your podcast, and it’s actually what we run here at SpeakerFlow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcasts simple. It makes recording podcasts simple. It even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple, and quite honestly, Technically Speaking wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus, and if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently, get our special offer auxbus.com/speakerflow, or click the link below in our show notes.

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