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Learning From Others

Aug 24, 2020

Today's guest is a believer in authentic connections and heart-based leadership. He's spoken at TEDx five times and is an Inc Magazine Top 100 Leadership Speaker.

With over 500,000 social media followers, he is a recognized influencer and here to teach you how to network authentically to build brand awareness.

Please welcome Bobby Umar.

Contact Info:

Hey, Bobby. Thanks for thanks so much for jumping on learning from others today. I'm excited to be here, Damon. Thanks. Uh, you have a pretty diverse background, you know, inc magazine, top a hundred leadership speaker. You've done TEDx a bunch of times, tons of social media followers, and that's how you and I met was on LinkedIn.

Um, so. Before we dive into how you got there and what your, your secret sauce is. Let's kind of start with my guests, usual, two questions. And question number one is, you know, in your own words, what are you good at? And what can we potentially learn from you today? I would say my main expertise is what I call the power of connection and that's my hashtag.

And they use the power of connection in three ways to help companies and individuals. One is a personal branding, which is the connection with the self. Number two is authentic. Network analyst should build it in the thirties. Um, Social media, digital influence and public speaking, which is the connection with the world.

And so for me, helping people connect as individuals to other individuals or other groups, that's really what I do best. Okay. I'm going to have some follow up questions for you on that, but I need to know what are you not so good at? Hold on. Not so good at it, man. So many things. Yeah. I can't swim. I really never learned how to swim.

I have not. Uh, I'm pretty, I'm terrible with the, the, the health management piece. I mean, I'm trying to lose weight and I'm trying to eat healthy and just, I find it very difficult at times. I think that's, that's a hard thing. Uh, I probably suck at, uh, definitely. Uh, time management sometimes. And sometimes I'm really good sometimes just like terrible, but it's more about the, you know, getting those small things in.

And I just, like, I find like, okay, I'm stressed, I'm distracted. That's squirrel. That's, that's the thing I'm very distracted easily. You know, what's interesting is, and I've said this to our listeners more than once is that it's so funny to bring on experts and more often than not. They say that they suck at the small things.

So they suck at time management, which is like the total opposite of what you assume, but it's just a reoccurring theme. Now, if you learn to swim, that also helps with weight loss. So there you go. Oh boy. Yeah. I could just float around everywhere. Yeah. All right. So, um, let's talk about, you know, the explanation of what you do is fairly broad.

So let's kind of dial it in a little bit and maybe give us some examples of. Either like real examples of types of situations you've helped businesses with, or maybe, um, maybe if that's maybe if maybe your most common example is, is a little bit different than your most preferential type of arrangement.

So like, you know, what part of it do you actually love and maybe what do you do the most of? Hmm. Yeah, I think when I go, I mean, I speak at companies and conferences and schools everywhere, but usually when I go in, they want me to take them through. Um, how to, uh, things like how to connect better and network better, you know, in person and how to have great conversations, how to communicate more effectively, uh, very soft skill type stuff.

That's a very common day that I'll do another one that I'll often work on is what I call thought leadership, personal branding. So how do I understand my brand? How do I build thought leadership on our big content as you build that up? And so I'll take. You know, like small business owners, I'll talk to a bunch of custom custom with brokers, and I'll talk about how to build a brand using content and how to communicate effectively and use that brand to generate more business, a community.

And those are examples of organizations where I'll go in and I'll help them out. Another time it'll be more around things like, well, how do I build a social media following? How do I communicate with that community? How do I actually. Um, you know, build followers, how do I engage them? Do I comment everything?

Do I reply a lot of senior people don't know how to do that. They're very scared of social media still, like years later. And so I think that's something that they struggle with. And ultimately, because when people die, I usually go in and do team building or employee engagement stuff and talk about passion engagement, uh, better teams not working in silos.

So I'll go in and. You know, work with companies and teams that are struggling within those areas of culture, culture, culture, gaps, work in silos. These are things that might go in and, you know, we'll do some activities with them to help them better bond and better communicate with each other. So what's your background that got you into this world?

Well, you know, it's pretty diverse, you know, I w I was a engineer, uh, so it was kind of an analytics guy, a, you know, aerospace design engineer. So I'm a problem solver, but then I went to brand marketing and then I was also in performing arts. So I performed a improv comedy, musical theater. And so when I was feeling like, kind of lost and stuck in what I was doing, I dealt with my brand and I was like, Oh, Hey, well, what's going to come, come through here.

And it turned out, you know, five things can come about one with Bobby, those people marvelous and nurture. Like my mom Bob was to perform a present like onstage. Bobby was persuading influence, which is kind of a sales thing. And then of those diversity, um, so all five of those things kind of led to me thinking, okay, what can I, what kind of have, can I create with this?

And that's when you know, professional speaking kind of screaming at me, okay, this is the way to go. And that's kinda what I went with. And what I've been doing now for 15 years and that, that diverse background is really what led into it, because they're all part of what I'm doing now. Yeah. Yeah. Now one comment you mentioned was soft skills and.

I, uh, I'm a huge believer in the importance of that, but until you said, I, I, I didn't really realize, I haven't really talked about it very often on the show. Um, why don't you give us explanation of, you know, what soft skills are. And I think what's super important is, um, Because I think soft skills have kind of degraded with technology.

And so then maybe we can talk about that. So, you know, in your world, what are soft skills and like, how are they applicable to business? Well, I think the most direct way to talk about soft skills, the soft skills are the skills you're using to create an emotional connection. With people that you, uh, interact with.

So whether they're your colleagues at work, whether it's your boss, whether it's your parents, whether it's your social media followers that you create content for, you're trying to create an emotional connection and emotional experience with that. And so soft skills. That's, what's going to get you there.

So for example, you know how I communicate, it's the soft skills. And so my communication can have empathy. It can have storytelling in it. They can have, you know, a warmth and energy to it, which will then create a better connection with that person and create a more memorable experience. So for me, that's what soft skills.

Now do you agree that, and this is a pretty broad statement, but do you agree that technology has caused, um, some of the authenticity and in soft skills to kind of dive a little bit in the last 10 years? Yeah. You know, it's interesting. Um, I was actually going to, um, launch a brand new talk, um, uh, actually is going to be, uh, in a week from now in Poland, but, uh, it didn't happen, but it's been postponed, but it was going to be, it was going to be on.

The future of connection now. And what's happened, is that what hypothesis thesis is that? There's a couple of things happening. One is, you know, technology has made it more difficult for some people to connect. In person. And so I think people struggle with that, but at the same time, there's also a disconnection too, because people who are actually, the people are struggling to actually, uh, in person to leverage technology, to connect with the world.

And on top of that, we also have all those technologies. No we're using like at work, you may have two screens, you may have a laptop and a desktop. You may have a phone and something else, and we're trying, and then we have all these other platforms, you know, Slack, Trello, A sauna as well as Facebook and social media and LinkedIn, and it's, it's overwhelming.

And so people are now struggling to just even find the right balance. So I think that, you know, the, the short answer is yes, I think it definitely has caused a challenge. People will, I've been challenged to connect in person before, but now with technology doing online stuff, they're also challenged that way to connect and authentic way.

So I think it provides a lot of challenges for people. Uh, and to find the balance between the two. That is interesting, because I think I've thought of those two where technology makes people more in person. And I thought of that independently and then independent of that, I thought about, you know, the opposite, but I guess I haven't put them in context.

It's like overlapping the same, that they're both, you know, the yin and yang of each other now with soft skills. How do you. Where do you start? Because I think that maybe the more extreme example that I, that comes to mind is you have an introvert. And so you're like, Hey, it's really important that you talk to people and have soft skills.

And that they're just an introvert and they're like, Bobby, I don't want to. So is that something that you deal with sometimes and how do you do that? Yeah, absolutely. I did a webinar on how introverts can network more effectively. One of the things to keep in mind is that, you know, people. We have to understand the importance of people in our lives.

So the internet and our social lives are personalized, but even professionally, if you're good at building relationships and building people's skills, it's going to suit you. You're going to get that promotion. You're going to generate those leads. You're going to actually have your close clients, whether you're doing corporate or entrepreneurship or whatever it might be, or even, even as a student, if you want to get ahead of the professor to be your buddy, you know, people's skills are really important.

So, you know, one of those introverts I'll always say is that, you know, you have your own superpowers. So know what they are. You're good listeners. You're prepared, usually organize you're quite thoughtful and reflective. So take those things and use it to be a better networker. A perfect example for networking is I'll say, look, you know, prepare 10 questions that you think will drive a conversation to help someone get to know them better and also invest in who they are.

And yeah, them practice them, rehearse them before you even go. And you have them all memorized. That's going to help you tremendously because you know, you're really good at that kind of stuff, all that prep. And so it helps them to figure that stuff out. You know, what came to mind while you're talking, this is kind of off topic, but yeah.

Also immediately relevant at the same time, you know, you talking about everybody having kind of hidden values is. Years ago. I don't know if you saw the story. There was a, a woman that was like legally blind. And so she understandably had hurdles and types of implants. And so she started her own company as a sensitive document paper shredder.

Because she couldn't read the documents anyway. Right. It's a, I think it's just a, I love those stories like that, where they take something that's super unique and then just turn it in as a positive. I mean, that's a total win right there with them. She builds trust right away. Now waters, you mentioned that all their audiences oftentimes get scared of engaging on social media.

And I think that's fair, but what are they scared of? I think a lot of them are scared of technology and security is one thing. So they don't know how secure things are. And they're worried about things being a picture, being taken out of context or working things out of context, and it blows up in their face.

I think that's one thing that they're, they're really concerned about. Uh, the other thing that they get concerned about is really trying to. Uh, they, they feel, they feel, um, that they're not technical. And so I think that worried that they're dumb, they don't want to look, they don't want to be vulnerable.

I find it like kind of daunted because they were told or where they grew up. They were told to be tough and to be, you know, strong and to, you know, always put that best face forward. But, you know, nowadays, you know, leadership 2.0, you know, we all know that it's okay to be vulnerable. Okay. The asphalts.

Okay. That talk about your struggles. Uh, but I think when I, when I engaged the older, older folks, they have a hard time saying, well, how can you say that? Even my mom's like, why don't we, why don't you talk about the way problems? Like, you know, she doesn't get it because she thinks it provides accountability, a support network.

I, it makes me accountable. I love doing and relatable too. Yeah. Relatable exactly what let's talk about that a little bit more about being perfect on screen and the value in, um, You know, having those, I don't want to say flaws. I don't have a better word for those. So, you know, those unique characteristics, um, and one example I've joked about before, and it may very well may have been you.

I can't remember. I think it was somebody from LinkedIn. I'm talking about a client they were working with and his. The presentations were like two polished in a short videos. And so they weren't relatable. And so the, you know, his advisor coach said, you know, when your next and your next screen pick your nose and he's like, he's like, why would I pick my nose?

And he's like, just do it. And so like on his next thing is just like, you know, digging for gold for quick half second. And then he said that had the most engagement of any of his recent videos at any time because people hung on a little bit longer to watch what was next. I remember watching a speaker and she was talking and.

Or the entire time of like the 10 minute speech I know that she never ever said, and I was like, Oh my gosh, let me just keep listening for the I'm. Like I, and I was like all the time and not once. And after a while, is it, this is so robotic. And I, by the end of it, I was like, okay, I didn't hear a single arm.

Do you remember what she said? I don't even know what she said. Yeah, no doubt. You know what, you know, what my crutches, uh, aside from the obvious, um, you know, I think, I think, I think there's like a balance because ums are okay when, when you're just like moving forward. And so I think, I think it's like, what you don't want to do is overthink it and then have that kind of, um, you just want to have the forward momentum.

Um, but one thing that I've noticed in doing conversations like this and having my editor work on the podcast and, um, I'll repurpose some of the content. And so sometimes I'll say, Hey, Go transcribe everything. And then I'm going to just scan it real quick and like find highlights of things that I'm making to an Instagram image or whatever.

And so as I go through those, I say like a crap ton. I really like is my, um, and then you don't notice it until you go back and listen to minutes. It's like every, every 20 seconds, like, like, but that's me. There you go. There's there's there's my, and you were asking for like, you know, does one start to be better at these things?

You know, the, the first thing is to really understand who you are driving your brand. So like getting, doing your own self assessment, as well as doing assessment of your feedback network. When people to, to tell you what they see, what they like, what they think are challenges for you, that information is incredibly invaluable.

And so, you know, whenever I work with people, I would say, look, you know, diamond your brand, do the assessments and get people to give you feedback. It's a goal of mine for you to understand what your brand is and to help you figure out what you want your brand to go. Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Um, why don't we talk about TEDx a little bit.

We've had some other TEDx speakers. Why don't you walk us through the process? Because I think the process is a little bit unique to what people probably assume the processes. Um, so why don't you touch on the process and then maybe talk about, um, you know, what you thought your experience was like? Well, I think for the most part, I mean, uh, the first I've done five TEDx talks and the first four kind of came because I had really strong thought there's a brand.

So people reached out to me and said, Hey, can you do one of the, okay. Uh, it's daunting though. Cause the first time I remember I did one and they said, okay, tell us, tell us the best idea of your life. Go deep dive in your personal story. Um, and minimal slides. And I love my PowerPoint. My middle slides do it, do it in 18 minutes.

And I was like, Holy cow, that's really intimidating. And, and it's free. We're not going to pay you. So you know that first Ted talk, I spent hours and hours and hours on it and I rehearsed it 30 times. And, Oh my gosh, I was so nervous because many times, as you say, I'm. Oh, who knows, but like, you know, I was, it was about that and it went, it went well.

I mean, at the time, but I was super nervous. And so I think that, you know, that is an important piece now in terms of the process, the fifth Ted talk in, cause I saw there was a fee and the theme was power connection, which again is my hashtag and my brand. It's like, Oh, I gotta apply for this one. So I applied for it.

Got it. Um, so what'd you do, do you typically apply and do a full, full application where you talk about what your ideas? It has to be really simple and easy to understand, like in a couple of lines and then they want to know why it's important to the world. This is all important. You have to explain how it's unique.

So, you know, taking you through the application processes, it's very important. You have to make sure it aligns the theme and they organize this, get it, and they get really excited about it. And then once that happens, then usually they want to meet with you and, you know, flesh out the idea a little more and see how, if you're open to making some adjustments to coachable, and then usually you get accepted to right away and they start training on the, on the old platform.

And, um, they'll, they'll begin to give you coach and I've coached speakers too for Ted talks as well. And, uh, you know, they really focused on the storytelling and the rehearsal and just being yourself and not trying to be someone that you're not, I think that's an important piece. Yeah, for me, it's been a great experience.

I mean, when I first did, I didn't know what it was, but now I see the brand relevance. It's certainly a, has been a big part of my brand in terms of what people know about me and what they like about me. So I certainly leverage it. And that's also why I encourage other people to go do one too. Cause I think everyone has a story and a really cool Ted talk within them.

It's just a matter of trying to extract and find out what it is. Yeah. A couple of things I wanna touch on. Um, it's it's w one comment is it's interesting that you say that there's like, TEDx coaches or they walk you through, like, here's the process because now that you say that there is a very concise there's consistency in the presentation, and I've never thought about that before, about people on totally different talks about totally different presentations.

There's still some element of consistency, um, in how it's presented, which now I assume is because of the TEDx people going here's the flow. And here's how these things happen. Culture there. Yeah. Um, I'm curious, you said the first one was something about, you know, best thought of your life, I think is what you said.

Um, so what, what was that all about? What, what was the, uh, theme of the presentation? Like, is it best out of your life that you've actually executed? Was it best. Personal thing, was it best business thought? Yeah. They want to know what's the best idea of your life that you have that you want to share on the stage.

And so, you know, when I looked through everything I was doing, I came up with connection. So I said, you know, I said, how do you create deep, authentic connection with people? And we kind of broken down the idea that my wife. Tell me, which was like, you know, how's it, you meet people. And within 30 minutes, they're telling you the entire life story and then talking about their finances and their sex lives and everything.

How do you do that? And I'm like, I don't know. Uh, let me think about this. And then I combined kind of my own personal experiences along with what I saw from Bernie Brown, which had research around being vulnerable and being deep and creating that connection. Well, you know what, I'm going to talk about how I create the book connection.

So I turned into a home when I called the five CS of connection. Got it. Yeah. Now I think one of the obvious questions a lot of listeners are going to ask is, um, Bobby, how do I get on TEDx? Yeah. So, I mean, I think the best way to help you is to tell you where people go wrong when it comes to I let this great Ted talk.

So the first thing is your topic idea is always the thing that people screw up. So I want to talk about love. I want to talk the importance of sales. I want to talk about the problems of mindset. You know, those are such generic topics that everyone's talking about. That's not going to work. I'm a perfect example where it does work is there was a guy came up with how Ninja philosophy applies to sales.

That's a great slant. Hmm. So are they have a unique idea or unique slant? So having the right idea, I would say 80% people would tell me their TEDx idea is not good, or it's not going to work. It need some, you know, it needs some changing on the subtle bit of massaging, you know? So I think that that's the first thing.

The second thing is. Is building a strong thought, there's your brand. So people know who you are and they know your content and see you speak. That's how I got my first four. Cause people love my content. Love my stuff out there. So easy to be doing that too. And then the third thing I think that really helped is to get to know organizers that run TEDx on this because they're the ones that will know you and will think of you and maybe, you know, pitch you and give you a spot.

Uh, which again, what happened to me the first four times days, the organizers looked like my stuff and brought me a spot. Uh, on, on their stage. I think that, and then that, I think that's another one. And then the last thing that's really important is you have to look at themes. Every TEDx event and conference has a theme.

Sure. That your idea or your ideas. Cause I have two in my head that I still am going to pitch in the feature. You want to make sure it aligns to the theme really, really well, because that's also going to get, uh, get you there. And then the secret, the one secret I'll give you the last one. Which is most TedTalks, always aim for the 18 minutes.

If you have a three minute talk that is goals, people are they're dying for those short ones. No, there's a famous Ted talk with a guy with the, with the, with the, the paper towel, right? He's like, just shake your hands three times, right. And use paper and use less paper towel. This will save, you know, millions of sheets of paper towel every year.

It's a simple idea, but it was a great Ted talk. Right? So, so the 18 minute mindset, that's the people that are aspiring to be on. Those are the people that are stuck at 18 minutes, or whether they're trying to maximize the time they have. And that's nice and all, but an organizer would love to have shorter talks.

And so if you have a shorter talk that's three or six minutes long, you actually have a much better chance of getting on stage. So generally speaking TEDx says, Hey, you have up to 18 minutes. Correct. Got it. Okay. Very interesting. Well, Bobby, I appreciate your time. I think this has been, um, you know, an interesting conversation.

I like all the little things we touched on. I, you know, you and I are obviously connected on LinkedIn, but being able to chat in person, virtually in person, um, you know, there, there's a lot of common ground that I can appreciate and how you present things and, you know, the whole goal of just being authentic.

And it's always refreshing to get another person to come reinforce that on the show. So. Thanks for jumping on learning from others. And I'll give you the last few moments to tell our listeners how they can find out more about you. Sure. And thanks so much. I really appreciate that with YouTube. You know, people can find me on my LinkedIn pages and profiles where they can follow me.

You that you can also check out my website  dot com and and on social media, I'm everywhere. So Twitter, Instagram, Facebook under the handle. Radon Bobby. Very cool. We'll put those in the show notes, Bobby Omar. Thanks so much. Thank you.