“It’s not the story itself, it’s about how well you tell it,” he says.
From humble beginnings to narrowly surviving a head-on car crash with a semi-trailer through to sharing the stage with former US president Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama and Sir Richard Branson, Sam’s journey is as inspiring as it is motivational.
Chuck on the headphones to hear Sam, owner of training provider Speakers Institute, reveal:
- What we say counts for just 20 per cent of our influence on others
- How to sound more intelligent when you speak
- Whether ‘picturing the audience naked’ really works
- How communication directly limits our earning capacity
Plus loads, loads more!
Announcer: Welcome to the My Business Podcast. Insight, inspiration, and wisdom for business owners, wherever they may be. Here are your hosts, Adam Zuchetti and Andy Scott.
Adam Zuchetti: Welcome to another episode of the My Business Podcast. Thanks for tuning in. I am Adam Zuchetti, our regular host, and I'm joined by my usual partner in crime, Andy Scott.We've also got a really intriguing guest in the studio today by the name of Sam Cawthorn. Now Sam is a professional speaker whose business, The Speakers Institute, trains others to better communicate, and he has some fantastic tips for our listeners on how to better address customers and staff on an everyday basis. He's also got such an inspiring personal story of building his own business despite the effects of a near-fatal car crash that robbed him of one of his arms.
Now, Sam, let's start us on public speaking and the belief that many people have around that. A lot of people fear it; others think they'll never be good at it, but essentially, we're all public speakers to some degree, whether it's sales meetings or speeches in front of hundreds of people. Is speaking something that anyone can become proficient in, or is it really essential to have that natural gift of the gab?
Sam Cawthorn: For me, it's actually not about the story itself, or it's not even about your expertise. It's actually how you tell that story. For example, one of my mates ... His name is Paul Coleman. He was diving here in Sydney Harbour, and he had a shark attack, right? He had his arm and his leg bitten off by a shark.
Adam Zuchetti: You knew that guy?
Sam Cawthorn: Actually, he's our student, right? He comes to us and, clearly, he has a better story than mine. I've just had a car accident. He's had a shark attack, but I get booked a hundred times more than what he does. It's not the story itself. It's about how well you can talk. One of my other students, he can turn an everyday journey down to the local supermarket and back to an edge of the seat thriller. It's not about the story. It's about how well you can communicate.
Andy Scott: Tell us about your story. How did you get into this?
Sam Cawthorn: I was working for the Australian Federal Government as a Youth Futurist, so predicting trends when it came to young people. Now you need to realise I was born and raised in a country farm down in Tasi, two hours out of Hobart, and I get kicked out of high school for mixing with the wrong company, and they influence me in a very negative, like a toxic way. I never finished college, never went through to university, never sat an exam before in my entire life. Yet, I managed to get a full-time job with the Australian Federal Government. They say that you can't get a government job without a university degree. Actually, you can, because I did. Then in this job they gave me a big company car, which is a big V8 Statesman-
Andy Scott: Nice.
Sam Cawthorn: Here I am, like any other day, I was driving along. It was three o'clock in the afternoon, and I fell asleep at the wheel. It was my fault. I veered over the other side of the road, and I had a 206-kilometer head on collision with a semi-trailer truck. The police said I was going 104. The truck was going 102. It was a combined impact. I'll give you an idea of the impact: the steering wheel in my car was underneath the passenger seat.
Andy Scott: Wow.
Sam Cawthorn: My elbow was ripped off my arm, was 25 metres away from the car, and six broken ribs, a lacerated liver, punctured kidney. Both of my lungs had collapsed at the same time, and then everything then was wrong with my entire left side of my body from my hip, quad, femur, fibula, knee cap, et cetera. I was half-way in between the car, so it was pretty intense.
I was then told after about 18 minutes I'd lost consciousness. I was then told that I had stopped breathing, and right there at around six minutes past three o'clock in the afternoon on October the third, 2006, my heart stopped. Literally, I died. Paramedics, after about 18 minutes, they came up to me, managed to resuscitate me. Obviously, I'm still alive today and still talking to you guys.
Andy Scott: I was going to say, not a ghost, are you?
Sam Cawthorn: Then I was on life support for a week, in hospital for five months, and then in a wheelchair for an entire year. Doctors said I would never be able to walk ever again, so my story started there. My entire rehabilitation team ... These are my occupational therapists, physios, et cetera ... their entire focus for me was to get me back to that same job, back to that same working environment. That's what their job is, but something had changed, right? Not only physically, because I now live with an amputated right arm, with a complete disability in my right leg, so my leg doesn't work. Something had changed not only physically but also emotionally, mentally, even spiritually. I was no longer focused on going back to that same job.
Around the same time, I was asked to share my story, so I went and shared my story at a local youth group. Then after that, there was a couple of people there said, hey, come along to their school. I went and shared my story in the schools, and before you knew it, here I am sharing my story at three or five schools every week. I thought maybe I could actually monetize this. I hadn't heard of the professional speaking industry at all, and so I just simply decided to charge a school 390 dollars for a one-hour keynote presentation. Now me doing five of these a week, for me, I had enough money to replace my income.
I was doing, on average, five schools a week. Sometimes I was even doing up to three schools in one day, and you know how every school, they have an assembly. They might have disengaged students or they might have SRC or then they have teacher conference and then they even have P and F, Parents and Friends. I would go into a school, and for the entire day, I would then add value to sharing my story and what I learned through overcoming adversity. I was more of a resilience expert or positive psychology, that type of stuff, so I learnt how to share my story and made it relevant to the listener, to give them value. As we all know, value is not value unless it addresses the pain point or problem of our target audience. For me, I really found out what was valuable to a school, and I just simply shared my story and gave them tangible ingredients of what I learned in my story to give the school some value.
Then before you knew it, I then started the corporate world. I've now spoken in 36 countries. I've shared the stage with President Bill Clinton, with Dalai Lama, Richard Branson, even Michael Jordan. I've spoken ... The largest audience, 18,000. I've done at least a hundred audiences of over 10,000, and these are big auditoriums, big conferences around the world, as a professional speaker.
Andy Scott: We spoke earlier about what someone needs to learn to become a professional speaker. There's a range of skills and attributes and things that they need to start applying. You're obviously much better now than, I'm guessing, when you first started talking to that school for free, before you charged 390. How did you learn those skills, and what are the most important ones that you picked up?
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, great question. I remember the very first ever corporate gig I did, right? It was for one of the major banks. I won't say which bank, but anyway. I remember they flew me through from Tasmania through to the Gold Coast, and the first time I ever flew on business class, where I felt like a bit of a rock star. When I got off at the airport there in the Gold Coast, the nice, big stretch limo, and they carry my bags and then they drove me through to the Palazzo Versace.
Here I am about to get up on stage. I remember seeing the first person that was there onstage before me. I was fully judging them, thinking, "Man, I'm going to do way better did. He's boring." Blah, blah, blah. Then I got up onstage, and I'd prepared this one-hour keynote presentation. I got up onstage and I delivered this one hour, but you know how when you get nervous, your palms sweat and then you then start talking really fast. I did the entire one-hour keynote presentation in 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, I had no other content, so I was making up stuff onstage, right? I went to Tony Robbins seminar a couple of months beforehand, so I was saying these Tony Robbins quotes. I was making up these stories about my childhood, which is completely irrelevant to the actual message itself, and it's-
Adam Zuchetti: Have you got a recording of that? That session originally?
Sam Cawthorn: I do, but I've actually put it under lock and key, and no one will ever hear it ever again.
Andy Scott: I'd love to hear how listenable it actually is when you're talking.
Adam Zuchetti: Do you actually-
Andy Scott: You know it sounds faster in your mind, right?
Adam Zuchetti: Do you actually pull it out every now and again and go, "Oh, I need a refresher on what not to do"?
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, look absolutely. We learn through these mistakes. Through every single successful person that I've ever met, there's actually an epic failure behind that success, and this was my moment of a complete epic failure. It was for one of the major banks. They paid me top dollar to speak at their event, and I totally failed. Right there, head between my legs, flying back through to Tasi, I'm thinking, "Man, do I really want to do this? Am I good enough? Is my story worthy?"
One of the greatest lessons I learnt through this is actually realising that I am good enough, and I am worthy to speak onstage. That only really came by me going out there and getting education, so over the next 18 months after that gig, after obviously, speaking to my wife, I spent about a quarter of a million dollars on my brain. Now where did I get this money? I got it through my pay-out, so even though it was my fault in my car accident, it was still a workplace accident. It was a work vehicle, work time ... you know, work time, and so I then used a lot of that money to spend it on myself. I went out and got educated by the best on the planet, from a one-on-one with Tony Robbins all the way through to spending 25 to 30 thousand dollars for 90 minutes with some of the best on the planet. I went to seminar after seminar. I spent a lot of money, and now I've learnt from all of that investment ...
What's really interesting, after that 18 months, I was then asked to be the closing keynote speaker for the International Federation of Professional Speaking Annual Conference. Now I want you to imagine a conference where there's over 2,000 professional speakers, right? Now this is where Tony Robbins is a delegate, right? I was being asked to be the closing keynote speaker for this annual conference. I got three standing ovations and was the highest ranked speaker in the history of the annual conference.
Andy Scott: Did you think you'd made it at that point, or is there something you always need to keep learning about?
Sam Cawthorn: Nope, I certainly have not made it, even now. There's always something to learn. I am on this constant growth of learning, and I still invest in myself. I still spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on myself. If I'm in personal development, I am the very first person to put my hand up to say I still need development. I still need my own personal development, so nowadays, we do coach other speakers and we coach TED speakers and we coach anyone at all that wants to learn how to master communication for influence, whether you're in the corporate world, whether you're an entrepreneur, whether you're a speaker, whether you want to master a pitch or even if you want to go all the way to get paid speaking engagements or get on a TED Talk, we coach these people how to do it.
Now, if I'm going to coach them, and if I'm constantly upgrading our curriculum, then I always need to grow. I've never made it. I haven't made it yet, and I won't make it.
Andy Scott: Communication's obviously a key thing that you do. Teaching people to communicate is a key thing. We hear about how the world of communication has changed in many ways, certainly over the last ... with the advent of the internet and social media and everyone's capacity to do everything. Do you think the core tenants of how to effectively communicate have changed?
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, look, without a doubt. A big issue that we had around a year and a half ago ... This is actually ... On the back of this, we won the Entrepreneur of the Year, which is basically excellence in education, but about a year and a half ago, we realised that there was a lot of people that were coming to us that were learning how to communicate and practise and how to communicate effectively to influence, but then the moment that they were put into that tough situation, into that high pressure situation, whether it's in an interview or presenting to their staff or even doing that TED Talk, that all of that practise went out the window, because they had no real world experience of experiencing people staring at them.
That's when we partnered with an organisation, and we developed the world's first virtual reality experience to speak onstage. Basically what this is, you put on your set of virtual reality goggles, and then suddenly then you can choose whether or not you're in an interview situation, if you're in a board room, if you're on a TED stage, or if you're on a huge, big, epic stage as well. You can choose which auditorium, so it's a complete 360-degree experience. Behind you, you can see the two massive big screens. You can in-built your slides into that. There's a countdown in front of you. There's another slide there. Then there's a live audience right there in front of you, and it's amazing the experience that we're now giving people to give them that real-world situation. Communication has changed, and it will continue to change, and we as educators need to constantly keep up with that change, whether it's through augmented reality or virtual reality or even just simply teaching these people how to embrace new technologies.
Andy Scott: Is practise the biggest issue that most people have? I think as humans we're naturally reasonable storytellers. All of us are reasonable. There's some daft ones out there, but is it practise that is the biggest thing, you think?
Sam Cawthorn: Well, it entirely just depend what situation. Now when you have a very, very high pressure situation like, for example, you're doing a TED Talk? Let's say you're about to do a pitch, and if you master this pitch, these people are going to pay for your mortgage for the next 30 years, right? When you're in these really high pressure situations, absolutely. You need to realise that this level of practise, particularly when it does come to professional speaking ... If I'm getting paid 20,000 dollars to do a one-hour keynote presentation, I'm not going to take that lightly. Then that means then that every single word needs to be strategically placed. Every word has a gesture. Every word has a pause before it, has pause after it. Every word has a facial expression. Every word, you need to understand where you're going to put your eyes.
Let me give you a bit of reality check. Ready? If I was putting together a one-hour keynote presentation, just have a guess how many hours that would take. Just have a guess how long that'll take. Just have a guess. A one-hour keynote presentation.
Adam Zuchetti: Ten.
Andy Scott: See? You panicked. You put me on the spot. I said ten.
Adam Zuchetti: Yeah.
Andy Scott: Ten! That's it. I'm sticking with it. I don't know.
Adam Zuchetti: I'd probably say a day and a half, so maybe 15.
Sam Cawthorn: For a professional speaker, it takes around three months, full-time.
Adam Zuchetti: Three months!
Sam Cawthorn: Full-time, so we're talking more than 1,000 hours. It is just simply insane. Again, every single word needs to be strategically placed. Every word has a gesture. Every word has a pause before, has a pause after. Every word has a facial expression. Every word has an eye contact, and that needs to be strategically placed.
Now let me give you another example of this one-hour keynote presentation that I've created, right? Over three months. I can now roll that out at around 15K a pop, three times a week for the next year and a half. Do you think it's worth that three months? Abso-flipping-lutely. As a professional speaker, and particularly even the people that we're training on TED stages, every single word, needs to be orchestrated, so that is the level of professional speaking or even if it does come to mastering these high-pressure situations that we must learn. We need to realise, if you want to influence other people, we need to realise every single intrinsic moment is so important, particularly when everyone's trying to vie for your attention span. Everyone's trying to grab your attention, right? Think about how long does it take for a marketing organisation to create a 15-second ad on TV?
Andy Scott: Well, some marketing organisations I'd say about 15 seconds.
Sam Cawthorn: Every word is orchestrated. Now in the professional speaking world, it's exactly the same. This is high-level, and if you've got a room where you're doing a ten-minute pitch or a five-minute pitch and this moment is the defining moment whether or not you're going to pay for your mortgage for the next 30 years or not, you don't take that lightly.
Andy Scott: No. I'm interested the ... you mentioned the time it takes to do, and you used marketers for an example, because marketers will test their stuff. They will have focus groups and so on and so forth. I was thinking when we were talking as well about comedians very much who will plan out a show and then they will roll that show out, whatever. Those guys also have opportunities to test that, either in small doses or larger groups to check it's on the right path. How do you test that what you're doing in that three month prep is actually going to be effective? There's surely a danger of the echo chamber effect of you seeing yourself in the mirror going, "I'm killing this. I am so good." How do you go about that?
Sam Cawthorn: The number one thing that we all need to realise, particularly when it comes to effectively communicating to influence and persuade, is we need feedback. Now any man and his dog would love to give you feedback. Go down on the street corner, they will love to give you feedback, so what you need here, you need professional feedback, which is obviously why we created the Speakers Institute.
Now 60 percent of our curriculum, which is basically 60 percent of the time where people come in along to our events, they spend onstage, which then means my students spend more time onstage than what I do. One of the main reasons why is because we then give feedback, so me, my facilitators, my coaches, will give these people feedback. These people then go, work on that feedback. Then they jump back up onstage. They'll do it again. We then give them quality feedback. They'll go back, work on that feedback, come back, do it all again.
It's really cool, as well, with our online curriculum, because with our virtual reality, we've also got an AI component in it, where we now have voice recognition. We can now recognise vocal gymnastics as well as also pause and the computer will actually give you feedback on that. Do you know we would way rather get feedback from AI than an actual human being? We all have egos, and we don't want to look bad in front of our fellow human being, so we would way rather get feedback from AI.
Andy Scott: That doesn't surprise me. That doesn't surprise me at all.
Adam Zuchetti: See? I would have actually said the other way around. I don't want some machine telling me ... I don't know.
Andy Scott: You don't want me telling you what to do. I happen to know that much.
Adam Zuchetti: Well, there is that, yeah. Yeah, true, I suppose. I suppose it's also whether you know someone or not is a big thing.
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, yeah. Look, for me, though, my encouragement to everyone out there if you have a got a story that you need to share, if you've got a message that you've got, if you want to master a pitch, if you want to get a TED Talk, even if you want to sell your product, your programme better, you need quality feedback on how you come across, how you communicate, how can you influence. We need to realise communication is the number one skill on the planet, period. You can go out and get any other skill, anywhere at all in the world, but we need to realise that communication is the number one skill. The reason why we're not earning the money that we need to earn is purely because of your communication.
It totally frustrates me when I see someone with an outstanding product, with an amazing message, with phenomenal services, but they don't know how to sell it or they don't know how to communicate that effectively. Then on top of that, we also have the sharks out there, which have a crappy product, but they know how to sell it. So either-either way, we must learn how to master communication for influence, and the greatest way to do that is through quality feedback.
Adam Zuchetti: Now, Sam, something I want to pick your brains on, because you've mentioned it a few times, is facial expressions, movements, hand gestures, that kind of thing. People would associate them not so much as a skill but a reaction, an emotion, something that comes very naturally to them. How do you actually learn those things?
Sam Cawthorn: We need to realise that there's two fundamental core parts of communication. One is our content, what we say, which is the words that are coming out of our mouth, and the other is our method, how we say it. Now we need to catch this. Ready?
Our content, what we say, is only 20 to 30 percent of the influence and impact to the listener, which then means that how we say it, our method, is 70 up to 80 percent of the influence and impact to the listener. Then that means then that our gestures, tonality, facial expressions, body language, et cetera, is absolutely core, up to 80 percent of the influence and impact of the listener. Then the reality is then that we need to learn then this whole area of methodology, this whole area of our non-verbal intelligence, we like to call it, yeah?
It's like any pattern, right? If you want to change a pattern, it might take up to 21 days or whatever, but you need to learn how you do come across with your non-verbals, yeah? We can learn this. Here's a couple little tips, ready, for you? The longer you pause, the more intelligent you come across. Your certainty is fully through your eyes, so the more often you blink, the more incongruent you come across. My mentor has taught me not to blink for up to two hours.
Andy Scott: Doesn't that hurt?
Adam Zuchetti: "Don't you become more distracted with trying not to blink than what you're actually saying?" is what I'm thinking.
Sam Cawthorn: You're correct, so then it's a subconscious modality. All right? Subconsciously right now, you would communicate to me through your non-verbals. However, consciously, I can highlight something to you, and then you can then learn that as a pattern until such time it becomes subconscious. You need to realise what you see right now in my communication, this is something from years and years and years worth of training. I wasn't born to communicate with my gestures the way that I am. I wasn't born to communicate with the facial expressions I am right now. This is a learnt thing.
Now let me just put a bit of a disclaimer here, ready? The disclaimer is authenticity's going to trump everything. Everything. That authenticity, because as Australians we have big bullshit-o-meters, right? We can spot a fraud a mile away, so that authenticity will trump absolutely everything. Then it's a bit of an oxymoron, isn't it? In one breath I'm saying learn how to communicate by putting your gestures in the right way and your facial expressions in the right way and make it all polished, but on the flip side I'm saying, "Hey, make sure that it's really authentic and it comes across real, et cetera."
This is the subconscious thing that we need to talk to about here, and it's about the subconscious modalities that you can learn in order for you to come across really authentic yet at the same time really polished.
Andy Scott: What's the biggest break-through that most of your students have in how to improve their communication, do you think?
Sam Cawthorn: Going back to my biggest breakthrough, which would be it, and it's the whole worthiness conversation. I am good enough. When people get up onstage, one of the biggest issues is that they're so worried about what everyone else thinks of them. It's this insecurity thing. It's this acceptance conversation that we all have, and this is personal development 101, isn't it? For me, one of the greatest breakthroughs that we give people, particularly in our entry level programmes that we have, is getting them to realise that their story matters and also realise that they do have talents, gifts, and strengths that the world wants to hear.
A lot of the time, we think that we have to be like a Tony Robbins or we have to be like an Oprah Winfrey in order for us to think that we have value, and the reality is, there are people out there right now that aren't ready for the Tony Robbins of the world or even the Oprah Winfreys of the world, which then means that we're ready for you. My encouragement for everyone out there is that there are audiences out there that are waiting for your story to be told. There are audiences out there, they're waiting for your expertise to be shared as well, and I need you to realise that I believe it is selfish for someone to have a powerful story that have overcome a massive difficulty or have the area of expertise that hasn't learnt yet how to get that message out there. There are people out there that are crying out for stories just like yours. There are people out there that right now that are searching for area of expertise that you already have. The onus then in on us for us to get that out.
Andy Scott: I suppose conversely, what's the biggest, I suppose, mistake that you see consistently people walk in with? Either they've learned it, or it's ... either consciously learned it or subconsciously learned it ... that you and your team realise, "Yeah, we're going to have to tease that out of him, eh?"
Sam Cawthorn: All right, let me give you an example, ready? We all know that video is the number one marketing tool on the planet today. We all know that, right? We all have heard that Facebook Live at the moment, one of the greatest areas, yeah? We know that video's going to be key, and we also know that people buy people, which then means that your greatest marketing piece is this, is your face. We all know that video is the number one sales and marketing thing that we can do out there on the marketplace, so why aren't we doing more videos? Is it because we don't like the way we look? Is it because we have this perfectionism about us that we aren't perfect in front of that video? We need to realise that this device that we have, which is our mobile phone, is unprecedented, the most powerful thing ever invented in the history of the world, and on this device we can quite easily just shoot video after video after video. We can get so much, and we know that content is king. Yet we're still too scared to put that phone right up against our face and start talking about the value and the difference that you can make.
I want you to now think of a fulcrum and lever, right? On one side of this fulcrum and lever, you've got the icky feeling of sales and marketing, which most of us still feel, that ickiness that we have to sell ourselves or our face or whatever, and on the other side of this fulcrum and lever, we have to make a difference, that core belief that every human has that I would need to make a difference in the world. One issue that I have is that our focus point, which is the lever, a lot of the time, it is actually, we're scared of that icky feeling of sales and marketing. That's why we don't release videos and video content and get our face out there in the marketplace, because that's that icky feeling of sales and marketing.
I believe once we shift our focus in this fulcrum and lever and start focusing on actually making a difference in the world, then we will then just simply serve sales and marketing. We'll realise that we have to sacrifice that icky feeling of sales and marketing to actually want to go out there and make a difference. What you focus on is what you get.
Andy Scott: Do you find that's a very Aussie-ism, that people move away from that sales and marketing and don't like it? No one likes a show pony, right?
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, it's that whole toll puppy thing. I think, though, that we are going through a big shift at the moment, that there is more people out there that are building their own personal brands than ever before. I've got a 14-year old girl, and my 14-year old girl, at the moment, she is currently in any of her spare time that she can think of, is looking at building her own personal brand online. It's extraordinary, and what we're seeing right now is these young teenagers and these millennials coming through, these guys here have got it together. These guys know that the most followed things online right now ... You know the 100 most followed things online isn't a company name. It's a human being. People follow people, period. It is the greatest way to build your brand and sell more products and your programmes and your service that you consider out there in the marketplace, by building a personal brand. People follow people, and with these new generations coming through, we better start getting on the bandwagon and start getting over ourselves, getting our face on camera, and start becoming recognisable.
Adam Zuchetti: That's really, really, really, I think, poignant advice for all of our listeners, because I think so many of them get caught up and hide behind their emails. I think we're all guilty of that. We hide behind emails, and we think, "Yes, we've actually communicated that. I've sent an email to someone."
A, they haven't read it, potentially, but B, as you say, there is none of that human element to it. How much of that is really creating a disconnect rather than a connect with your audience? I think that's amazing.
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, exactly right, and we all know video is king. We all know content is important. Yet we don't do it.
Adam Zuchetti: Could I come back to Andy's comment about mistakes, and that really old chestnut about public speaking, just picture the audience naked? Is that the worst possible piece of advice that someone could give a speaker?
Sam Cawthorn: Look, we all need to realise that people would probably rather die before they're speaking onstage. We've all heard these myths out there, et cetera, et cetera. Look, my encouragement to everyone out there is start liking who you are, and I know how cliché and fluffy that might sound, but it starts in the mirror. It starts in the mirror. Once you start backing yourself, once you start liking who you are, you can make more of a difference in the world. You can earn more money. You can start speaking with more confidence and certainty. People will follow you, because you're now no longer craving their acceptance.
You know what's really interesting. When I woke up out of a coma, after I had my car accident, I was in a complete and utter state of denial. I'm thinking, "Man, this hasn't happened to me. I haven't really had a car accident. I haven't really lost my arm. It's okay. I'm going to wake up from this nightmare."
For two days, I was in a complete and utter state of denial, and then realising what had happened, I remember going through pillow after pillow, just simply from my tears. Around this whole journey of self-discovery, I then learnt that my little girl, she was going to come in and see Daddy for the first time. It made me realise my little girl, four years old at the time, and the last time she saw Daddy, the last time she saw me, I was throwing her up in the air with both arms. We were running. We were skipping. Now suddenly here I am, lame in a bed with only one arm. I didn't know how she was going to react. I didn't know how she was going to accept Daddy for what had happened.
I remember I sat up in my hospital bed. Tears are running down my face as she was walking into the hospital hallway, or should I say, into the hospital room? She jumped up into the bed, and she goes, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Did you have a car accident?"
I said, "Yeah, I had a car accident."
She goes, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, did you lose your arm in the accident?"
I said, "Yeah. I lost it. I lost it."
She goes, "Daddy, the doctors, they couldn't find it anywhere?"
Yet one thing my kids have never said to me, they said, "Dad, I wish." "Dad, I wish you had two arms"? They've never said that.
They've said, "Dad, I wish you could bend your leg," because my leg physically doesn't bend at all, so I would never be able to ride a bike. It's hard for me to sit in a car, in a theatre, in a plane. I'm six foot three, and my right leg physically does not bend at all. I choose to focus on the good things in life. I get disability parking spots. How cool is that?
The point that I'm getting here is that the number one issue for teenagers right now is image. It's this whole thing about craving to feel accepted by everyone else before accepting yourself first. That's why cyberbullying happens, peer pressure, this whole sense of identity, and it's not until such time as we start accepting who we are and start backing ourselves and not craving to feel accepted by everyone else, can you stand up there onstage and for you stand in your own authority, realising that you are worthy to speak on that stage. In short, yes, imagining the audience as naked is the worst piece of advice ever.
Andy Scott: Should you imagine yourself naked?
Adam Zuchetti: That's even worse!
Sam Cawthorn: Ah, that's good.
Adam Zuchetti: You're terrible. All of this is covered in your book, Sam, Story showing.
Andy Scott: Your latest book, as we should say.
Adam Zuchetti: Your latest book, so you've written quite a few books, haven't you?
Sam Cawthorn: Yeah, so this one here's my seventh book, and I just heard just recently this book here is now number two in Australia, number 15 in the world-
Andy Scott: Congrats.
Sam Cawthorn: Which is really cool. Thank you. The book is called Story showing, How to Stand Out from the Storytellers, and the overarching viewpoint of this book and the reason of this book is that for too long, we've been told. Ever since we were young kids, we've been told by a parent. Then we're being told by our teachers at school, and now we're told by a boss in the workplace. For too long, we've just been tell, tell, tell, tell, tell, and we're sick and tired of people telling us, right?
Around 10 years ago, there was a bit of a shift, and we started to talk about visual storytelling, so now all of a sudden this whole area of the visuals have come into the limelight. Everyone's now saying, "What's the visual story of that organisation? Where are the pictures of where you've been to where it is today?" and so on and so forth, so this whole area of visual.
The word "tell," though, is still there, "visual storytelling," and for me, telling is very one side. If I just tell you what to do, it's purely ... I'm not concerned about how it lands for you at all. Whereas if I say, "Let me show you," it's totally different. It lands totally different for me, because we need to realise story is all about evoking emotion, and the winners of tomorrow's world are the people that will evoke emotion in the shortest possible time. The greatest way to evoke emotion is by giving people an experience or being very consciously aware how it lands for the listener, particularly that story. That's why we need to start showing the story, rather than just telling it.
Then, how do we show it? We show it through visuals, whether it's through our gestures or if actually just simply through our body language or even through AV, audio visual, or whatever that might be. There is a big shift that's happening in the world right now, and the world is now looking for what's in it for them, the WIIFM, and the greatest way to influence another person is not just by telling them, head to head, but by showing them heart to heart.
Adam Zuchetti: Yeah, amazing. I've got a copy of the book here, so I know what I'm going to be doing tonight. I'm interested to have a read. I understand we've got a few copies that we can give away to some of our Australian listeners.
Sam Cawthorn: Absolutely, I would love to, and I'll make sure also they're signed as well.
Andy Scott: No. Sam, if people want to find more about yourself, your story or books or of course the Speakers Institute, where should they go?
Sam Cawthorn: We have got a very strong online presence, so mainly through social media. Just go onto Insta, Facebook, type in my name, Sam Cawthorn, or type in "Speakers Institute."
Andy Scott: Fantastic.
Adam Zuchetti: Thank you for joining us, Sam. Woo! That's all we've got time for today. Tune in again next week.