The unlikely story of a teacher who merely wanted to motivate people across the country, and in doing so earned $10K checks while learning to speak with strangers
Have you ever noticed the striking resemblance between the art of motivational speaking and cold-calling?
It may not be apparent at first glance, but both require the art of selling. A motivational speaker aims to inspire and motivate a group of individuals they’ve never met, while a cold-caller has to convince complete strangers to buy their product or service. Connecting with people on a personal level and persuading them to take action are skills common to both endeavors.
But what separates the exceptional speakers and salespersons from the rest? It’s the ability to connect with their audience or potential customer, and to sell with confidence. Doubt and fear can hold us back from achieving our goals, but when we believe in ourselves and our message, we can inspire and motivate others.
That’s what led me to take on the challenge of cold-calling. I set a goal for myself to make thousands of calls to potential clients within a year, quitting my job as a high school teacher to do so. It was nerve-wracking at first, with stumbling over my words and facing rejection. But with persistence, I became more confident, articulate, and persuasive.
As I honed my cold-calling skills, I realized that the abilities needed for success were not so different from those required for public speaking. It takes practice, determination, and belief in oneself to sell effectively, whether it’s to a group of strangers or an audience.
In the world of sales and public speaking, self-confidence is an essential ingredient for success. Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite authors, once said, “The most important thing we learn at school is the fact that the most important things can’t be learned at school.” And I believe that one of those things is self-confidence.
In the world of cold-calling, you have to believe in yourself and your product or service in order to be successful. You have to be able to convey your message clearly and convincingly, and you have to be able to handle rejection with grace and perseverance. These are all essential skills for effective public speaking as well. If you don’t believe in yourself and your message, your audience won’t either.
Self-confidence is not something that comes naturally to everyone, but it’s something that can be developed over time. By putting yourself out there, taking risks, and learning from your mistakes, you can gradually build the self-confidence you need to succeed in any area of your life.
As Brendan Burchard has said, “When you bring more value to others than anyone else does, you will have more success than anyone else does.” And the key to bringing that value is self-confidence. So whether you’re cold-calling or speaking in public, remember to believe in yourself and your message, and success will surely follow.
The second area where cold-calling benefits public speaking is in the development of communication skills. When it comes to developing communication skills, there’s no denying the value of cold-calling. As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” I learned early that what I said isn’t always what the prospect heard. And for me, cold-calling was the perfect opportunity to hone those skills.
In order to succeed in cold-calling, you have to be able to think on your feet, actively listen, and adapt your message to your audience. These are all essential skills for effective public speaking, whether you’re delivering a keynote address or engaging in a Q&A session. The ability to connect with your audience, to empathize with their needs, and to deliver a message that resonates with them is what sets apart the best speakers from the rest.
But really, what we’re talking about here are soft skills. As Brian Tracy once said, “Your ability to communicate with others will account for fully 85% of your success in your business and in your life.” Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, adaptability, and leadership are what enable individuals to weather the storms of life and emerge stronger and more resilient.
Companies today recognize the importance of soft skills, and they actively seek out individuals who possess them. In the modern workplace, success requires more than just technical knowledge or job-specific skills. It requires the ability to build positive relationships with colleagues, customers, and clients, to foster a positive work environment, and to drive innovation and growth.
As someone who has experienced the value of soft skills firsthand at a startup, I can attest to their importance. In today’s rapidly evolving global marketplace, individuals with strong soft skills are better equipped to navigate change, respond to crises, and maintain a competitive edge. So whether you’re cold-calling or speaking in public, remember that it’s the soft skills that will make all the difference in the end.
The third area where cold-calling benefits public speaking is in the development of resilience. When it comes to building resilience, there’s no doubt that cold-calling and public speaking go hand-in-hand.
As Haruki Murakami once said, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” The rejection that comes with cold-calling can be tough, but it’s how we choose to respond to it that makes all the difference.
In my experience, the more “no’s” I received while cold-calling, the more determined I became to learn and grow. Each rejection presented an opportunity to refine my approach and to become more skilled at the art of persuasion. Similarly, not every public speaking engagement will be a roaring success, but each one provides an opportunity to improve and connect with your audience on a deeper level.
As Brendon Burchard once said, “Your life’s work is to become your best self.”
And for me, that meant developing the skills and mindset needed to excel both in sales and public speaking. Through my eight months of cold-calling, I was able to hone my ability to win friends and close deals, landing several new clients in the process. And by leading the entire company for a month, I gained a newfound perspective on what it takes to inspire change and connect with an audience.