Communication is everything.


Not just in business, but in life.

Communication is what lets us connect. It’s the source of all progress. Heck, communication is what makes us human.

But not all communicators, or communication styles, are created equal.

In many cases, communication is the skill that separates the massively successful from the rest of the pack.

As a business owner, an entrepreneur, and a public persona, communication is absolutely integral to my livelihood.

I’m constantly striving to connect with people on a deeper, more meaningful level.

It’s something I want to get better and better at, but it doesn’t happen over night, and it definitely doesn’t happen alone.

Leveraging the advice of some brilliant communicators and entrepreneurs, here are 3 communication experiments I tried in 2016:


1) More Stories

Stories are how we make sense of the world. They are the most effective way for us to communicate a message that actually resonates.

One of the ways I improved my storytelling in 2016 was to dig deep into Don Miller’s teachings in StoryBrand. I put a special focus on making intentional use of the 7 components of an effective story.

Another thing I did was actively practising storytelling to discover what works.

For example, one story I used in a BIG presentation this year was a bit ‘edgy’, so I first shared it with some mastermind partners. This gave me a chance to see real reactions, to observe what worked and what didn’t.

I also practised storytelling by sharing stories on Facebook… particularly about funny situations with my kids. I experimented with how details can bring a story to life and how timing can make it more effective. I watched comedians to emulate their performance tactics.

The key thing I discovered is that you have to LOOK for stories to tell.

This could mean stories of your customers (success, sticking points, highs, lows), things that make you laugh, things that frustrate you.

And when you have a story, document it right away. Because the ‘juice’ of a story comes from the details, and you can best describe the details when the story is fresh.


2) More Range

Another communication experiment I tried was adding more range to my presentations.

Because I tend to be a high energy guy, but high energy all the time can be too much.

It’s like having the volume on full blast all the time.

So I’ve been working hard to identify when high energy is good and when I need to intentionally tone it down and provide more range.

This means incorporating a mix of high energy, soft energy, happy stories, sad stories, practical content, inspirational content; it’s the mix that creates the connection.

For example, when I spoke to over 4000 entrepreneurs in Brazil this year, I got the crowd hyped up by starting my presentation with the clip of an iconic moment in Brazilian football history.

As soon as the hype died down, I transitioned into a softer reflective exercise with the lights dimmed to provide contrast.

In 2016 I was reminded of the immense importance of communicating in a way that appeals to both the head and the heart.


3) Focusing on the ‘First and Last’

The final communication experiment I tried was something I learned from communication coach Victoria Labalme.

The tactic is what Victoria calls ‘first and last’ – making a special effort to start and end strong in all of your communications.

Think of your webinars, live presentations, marketing campaigns – or even a night when you’re hosting guests – as a timeline.

Like a good book or movie, that timeline should be punctuated with a compelling beginning and a satisfying or provocative ending.

Everything in between matters, but no where near as much as how you start and finish.

So in my presentations, I became very conscious of involving or engaging people early with high energy, questions, and special exercises.

I also became very intentional about how I’d end presentations. I always wanted to be clear about providing next steps and including some element that pulled everything together.

When I spoke in Hungary, that element was a story. When I spoke in Brazil, it was a song. At Jeff Walker’s PLF event, it was a surprise punchline.

Did I nail it every time? Definitely not.

But did I get better? Yes.

And did I connect with people in a more emotional way? I like to think so.

Some things came naturally. Others I still need a lot of work on.

But the key for you and I to realize is just how important not only WHAT we say, but HOW we say it really is.

And the more intentional you can be about HOW you share your ideas, the more effective you will be.


I want to share with you five lessons that I’ve learned from a mentor, friend, and business partner of mine, Michael Hyatt.

For several years, I was business partners with Michael. He’s an amazing man, from whom I learned a tremendous amount.

Although I learned far more from Michael than I could ever fit into a blog post, I’d like to share with you the top five lessons that I learned from working with him.



Lesson number one: be consistent.

One of the things I remember asking Michael in the beginning was how he built his (substantial) following.

What he shared with me was that the moment he became really consistent in the way he creates content, things completely took off.

Because consistency creates trust and it created trust with his audience when he committed to blogging every day and podcasting every week.

That consistency transferred into all areas of his life. It transferred into the actions he would take. It transferred into his character.

That was a huge lesson for me.

Be consistent.

It creates trust for your audience, it creates trust for the people that are around you, it creates trust for your team, it creates trust for your loved ones.

Lesson number two: be authentic.

Now, we hear that all the time. What does it really mean?

For Michael, it meant being authentic with his personality. It meant being authentic with his values, beliefs, and philosophies.

It meant being authentic in what he stands for.

So authenticity is like consistency. It’s getting clear on who you are and what you stand for, and then staying consistent to that in all of your actions, and not compromising who you are just to suit a situation.

I saw Michael doing that over, and over, and over again. And not just in public, but in private.

He didn’t put on one face in front of the camera and another behind the scenes. He was totally consistent in his character, regardless of the situation.

Lesson number three: be intentional.

Michael uses this word a lot. In fact, for many years, it was in his actual company name.

What I came to learn about Michael’s version of intentionality, was that it was very similar to what others would call being ‘strategic’.

As in, instead of just leaving things to chance, be intentional about them.

If you want to develop a better relationship with your spouse, don’t just say you want a better relationship with your
spouse, do something about it. Be intentional. Set date nights on the calendar, map out times when you will be together.

Be intentional about your business.

Your goals won’t accomplish themselves. You have to be intentional about taking active steps toward those goals.

You have to be intentional about your decision making.

Here’s a perfect example:

Going into this new year, there are tons of opportunities for my team and I. It’s amazing. I’m super grateful for it.

However, even though there’s a ton of great opportunities coming our way, they don’t all line up with our vision.

Frankly, we don’t have time to say yes to EVERYTHING.

It’s forcing us to be intentional about the way that we decide whether to say yes or no to these opportunities.

You can’t just drift to your final destination. You can’t just drift to your ideal business or life.

You’ve got to be intentional about it.

Lesson number four: be open.

This is where I believe a lot of successful leaders get into trouble.

They’re not open to new ideas, and they get stuck in thinking that the way they do things is the only way to do things. But you and I know that times change.

One of the traits I loved about Michael was that he was always open. He was always open to new ideas and learning.

He would go to conferences so that he could learn new ideas and bring them back into his business and his life. He would intentionally hire people that he wanted to learn from.

He was open to ideas from the team, to different approaches and different experiments. It was amazing to watch.

I’ve seen a lot of people who achieve a certain level of success and they stop being open to new ideas. And I don’t know whether it’s ego, or fear of change, or fear that they could lose something, but it’s like they put an iron gate around themselves.

They stop being open to the fact that the marketplace is changing, and what worked 10 years ago might not work now.

By staying open, Michael always stays on the cutting edge of what’s happening in his marketplace.

Lesson number five: be approachable.

One of the reasons we all love Michael is that he’s very approachable.

He is actively engaged with his audience, whether it be in blog comments, on Facebook or different platforms, he’s engaged with his audience.

He genuinely wants to interact, he genuinely wants to learn, he genuinely wants to share, and respond, and answer questions.

Very few people have that same approach. People – the more successful they become – they almost become standoffish.

Michael’s the opposite. He leans in.

And sure, as your audience grows, you can’t always respond to everybody. But when you make a serious effort to engage and be approachable, your audience recognizes that.

Additionally, as a business partner, Michael was very easy to approach with new ideas, new strategies, new concepts, new projects.

His team is never afraid to bring ideas to him and it creates a free flow of communication, and that free flow of communication is what creates the magic.

It’s amazing to me,I see a lot of people gain some success and put themselves up on a pedestal.

And their team doesn’t want to approach them with new ideas because they’re afraid that they’re just going to be shut down.

With Michael, you could come to him with an idea and even if he didn’t like it, you still felt safe and like your input was valued.

I think about this in how I work with my team, and even with my family. I think about how this relates to my kids, so as they grow older, if they have challenges they will always feel comfortable talking to me about them.

These character traits and lessons that I learned from Michael are so valuable to me in my professional and my personal life. They can be applied to everything.

I’m extremely grateful for the chance to work with Michael and for our relationship. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without him.


To summarize, the five things I learned from Michael Hyatt:


  1. Be consistent.

  2. Be authentic.

  3. Be intentional.

  4. Be open.

  5. Be approachable.


I was recently in Los Angeles for Jeff Walker’s LaunchCon and I had the privilege of speaking with world-renowned performance coach and performing artist Victoria Labalme.

Victoria helps elite entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, top teams, and high-level executives communicate with confidence, authenticity, and impact.

She recently gave an amazing TED Talk that is getting a ton of attention, titled Risk Forward: the Rewards of Not Knowing. (Pssst, I highly recommend watching that TED Talk here).




One of Victoria’s key skills that makes her great is her ability to instantly connect with people. Being able to instantly connect means that people are more receptive and emotionally invested in your message.

It’s a skill that is incredibly useful for speeches, presentations, high-stakes meetings, video shoots, networking events, or any other situation where you are interacting with people and trying to get your message across.


So Victoria, you are great at connecting with people to build instant rapport on stage, for example, but how can we instantly connect in all contexts of communication?


Victoria: The first place I like to start is what I call “the through-line”.

The through-line is this line that runs through ALL that you are communicating.

The simplest way to think about it is like a verb. So, for example, if my through line is to show-off – I’m on video and I just want to show off

So, for example, if my through line is to show-off – I’m on video and I just want to show off or if I’m on stage and I want people to be impressed by me – it’s not going to be great.

So I always say the through-line should be in service of others. The first thing you want to think about is, “how can I help?” and when you do that, it changes everything.

“The first thing you want to think about is, “how can I help?” and when you do that, it changes everything.”


Stu: What would be another example of a good through-line?


Victoria: To share, to inspire, to engage.

I had a client who was working with a bunch of authors and he said, “I feel like I need to control them to get their stuff done,” and I said, “well, maybe there’s another way – to engage or collaborate.”

In sales sometimes people are like, “I need to kill it,” or, “I’ve got to conquer it,” instead of saying, “I want to help grow the audience.”

Whenever you’re nervous on camera or on stage or on a phone call or in front of your team, it’s because you’re thinking about yourself. “Am I enough? Am I saying ‘um’ too much?”

But the moment you focus on helping, all of the nervousness drops.




Stu: That was a huge mental breakthrough for me. So point number one is the through-line, what’s point number two?


Victoria: Another point that’s really helpful is what I call “K D FKnow, Do, Feel”.

What is it you want your audience to know? What’s the information?

What do you want them to do? What action do you want them to take?

And what do you want them to feel? Not just during that communication but afterward, too.


“Know, Do, Feel.”


Stu: Isn’t that an amazing framework? K D F. What else can people do to form a connection?


Victoria: Another point that’s awesome to remember is what I call “first and final”.

You never go to a movie, concert, etc. where it randomly starts and randomly ends. But a lot of people get on the phone and just start talking until they end up going, “well I guess I’m out of time. Thanks for having me.”

You want your first and your final to be really strong. It doesn’t have to be huge. You don’t have to come out singing and dancing.

Just think, what’s going to be the opening moment? Do I ask a question? Do I engage them?

And same with the ending. Just make sure that it’s crafted.


Stu: Sometimes a presentation can get hijacked with questions. What advice do you have there?


Victoria: People can hijack your Q & A. They want to pontificate, they want to make a point, they want to make you look stupid.

So I always say you want to have a final moment that goes after that. When it’s over say, “I’d like to leave you with a final thought,” or a final story, or a final image, or a final quote, so you control the ending.




Stu: If I’m giving a presentation and I have my teaching points and then I’ve got a story – and it’s a really funny story – where should I put that story in my presentation?


Victoria: You don’t want something like that too close to the front, because you haven’t earned the trust and the respect of the audience.

If you put it a little later, they’ll love you already, so you’ve proved your credibility, you’ve proved your knowledge, you’ve delivered value, they’re going to go with the joke, and then you can close with what you really want them to do.

So you’ve built rapport, and then you’ve got them laughing, and then you’ve got a slam-dunk because after a moment of humour, anything you say goes right to the heart.


Stu: Boom, there it is. The three ways to instantly connect with somebody.

  1. Your through-line.

  2. Know, do, feel.

  3. First and final.

Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge, Victoria!

Check out Victoria’s TED Talk at


Your turn: What techniques do you use to prepare for a presentation and instantly form a connection with your audience? Let me know in the comments below.





I need to rant about something…

We live in the greatest time in history for having access to tools and information.

It’s astonishing how many incredible tools and services are available to us right at our fingertips, many of which are completely FREE.

Yet instead of being grateful, many people have become totally selfish and entitled…

Which is why I believe that FREE IS BAD FOR BUSINESS!

Let’s look at the example of Evernote, a software company with over 100 million users.

I’m a big fan of Evernote and I use it every single day.

How about you? Do you use Evernote? Let me know in the comments at the bottom of this post.

So a few months ago Evernote made an announcement and people were FURIOUS about it.

Evernote announced that they were changing their pricing model (and in a very nominal way, I must add).

They announced that their Basic plan, which traditionally was free, would remain free…

However, users on the Basic plan would now only be able to sync their Evernote account to TWO devices at a time.


Seriously, people lost their minds.

For context, the upgraded plan costs less than 4 bucks a month, and Evernote’s most expensive plan is less than 8 bucks a month.

Now, normal, everyday users getting upset is one thing; for every change that a big company announces, there will always be naysayers.

But the fact that many of the people who were upset were business owners themselves, absolutely blows my mind.

How do you think Evernote affords to serve over 100 million people? Many of whom are using the service for FREE.

They’ve got to generate revenue from SOMEWHERE!

So the issue here isn’t that Evernote switched their pricing model, which they had every right to do.

The issue here is ENTITLEMENT.

Why do we think we should get everything for free?

Who does that really serve?

Here’s what I really think, and I would love your thoughts on this.




Free is bad for business. And there are three reasons why:


1) Support.

If you are offering a widely used product or service, you need to dedicate a lot of time and resources to supporting your user base.

I learned this in a big way while running my software company WishList member.

We had tens of thousands of customers. It took a TONNE of support.

Offering great support to all of your customers isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy, but it’s definitely necessary.


2) Development.

If people are using a company’s product, it’s in their best interest that the company continues to invest in developing and improving that product.

This ensures a great user experience over a long period of time, and lets the product adapt to the changing demands of the market.

This type of ongoing development is a huge financial investment.

If a company is giving the product away for free, where does this money come from?


3) Focus.

If you’re giving your product away for free and you are funding the support and development of that product, both of which are essential, the money still has to come from somewhere.

So you would need to invest your time and energy pursuing funding or other monetization methods, both of which distract you from your main objective of supporting your customers and developing the product to fit their needs.


So yeah, free is bad for business.

Every business needs to generate revenue, and if that money isn’t coming from the product itself, it must be sourced from somewhere else.

And like I said, that takes the focus away from the product itself, which is bad for both the business and the end user.

If you are a business owner, I want you to remember this.

The big lesson that all of us should take from this is:






If you don’t want whiny customers, don’t be a whiny customer.

If you want to attract high-quality customers, be a high-quality customer.

It is crazy the hypocrisy displayed by some business owners…

People who sell coaching but have never hired a coach.

Or they sell courses but would never buy one. Or they sell memberships but would never join one.

You get it.


When you have this mentality, it changes a lot of things.

At the end of the day, I am happy to pay Evernote for their highest priced plan. Because I use Evernote every single day.

For me, the value of Evernote far exceeds what I’m paying.

And I want to pay them to support their business because I hope the product they are offering will be around for years and years to come.

And that’s what I hope my customers think, too.

I hope that if my customers like what I provide and want to see more of it in the future, they will continue to invest to support the development of what I’m offering so that I can continue to serve them for years to come.

Those are the kind of customers I want to serve, so that’s the kind of customer I choose to be.

When a business is paid for their product directly, they can focus all of their energies on supporting and developing their product, to continue serving their customers.

In this scenario, everybody wins.


One of you recently approached me with a question that I think is relevant to all of us as entrepreneurs, especially those of you who are in the early phases of your journey.

You asked:

“How do you find a mentor?”

If you’re in a position where you are looking for a mentor, there are 3 STEPS you can follow. If you are in a position to be a mentor to others, you can use these steps to consider how you might take others under your wing.

The first step is identifying WHO you want as a mentor! Obvious right?



But it’s actually not as easy as you’d think.

Choosing who you want to be your mentor is a big decision that you should take seriously, and there are a few things you can think about to help you make the right decision.

First, think of who is where you want to be in your career, and who is doing the types of things that you want to do?

Often times somebody may appear to be a good mentor but, behind the scenes, they aren’t doing the things that you really want to be doing.

For example, early in my career I thought I wanted to go into sports marketing, so I worked for a sports marketing company one summer and quickly found out that was NOT something I wanted to do.

Sports and marketing are two of my favourite things, so a combination of the two seemed like the perfect fit.

On the surface it looked like a lot of fun, but when I actually got into it I realized that it wasn’t right for me.

Because the work itself – the actual tasks involved in the daily life of a sports marketer – were not what I was expecting.

The same thing can happen when picking a mentor.

A person may seem like they are exactly where you want to be in your career, but until you look further to understand the things that person is actually DOING on a daily basis, you won’t know if they are a person who you truly want to learn from.

Next, the most IMPORTANT part of choosing a mentor is identifying a person whose VALUES align with yours.

There are a lot of great people who are doing incredible things, but it’s very difficult to learn from somebody if their values don’t align with your values.

That is my #1 tip for identifying who you want to be your mentor.

The second step in finding a mentor is finding out HOW you can be of service to this person.



People often think that you’ve got to have a relationship with somebody before you can approach them to be a mentor.

…that’s NOT true.

The number one thing that successful people DO NOT have is TIME.

If you realize that, you can be of value.

Early in my career, I worked for a number of people who I wanted to mentor under.

…and I worked for FREE.

I was young. I had an abundance of time!

Being able to exchange your time for an opportunity to learn is a HUGE advantage you have if you’re looking for a mentor.

Think, “What is stressing this person out? How can I add a tonne of value?” and, most importantly, “How can I save this person a tonne of TIME?”

Be SPECIFIC in how you can help.

I have a lot of people who approach me who want to learn from me, and they say, “If you ever need any help, just let me know.”

It doesn’t work like that!

The easiest and most effective way to get the attention of a mentor is to give them something very specific that you are willing to do for free in exchange for the opportunity to learn.

Another tip is to start SMALL. Don’t make huge promises or proposals that might be too much for your potential mentor to even think about at the time of you approaching them.

The third and final step if you want to find a mentor is to OVER-DELIVER on your promises.



If you find something specific and small to help with like we talked about in the last step, that door of opportunity has been opened for you.

You can capitalize on this opportunity by OVER-DELIVERING on whatever it is you offered to do.

Then you can seek other things to help with.

The more ways you can think of to save your mentor time, and the more you can over deliver on your promises, the more you will earn their TRUST, and they will send even more work your way.

To recap those steps:

1) Figure out WHO you want to be your mentor.

Make sure they are actively doing the things you want to be doing.

Make sure their values align with yours.

2) Figure out HOW you can help them.

Approach them and offer to help with small, specific tasks than can save them time.

3) OVER DELIVER on your promises.

Whatever you offered to do, do a great job at it and then look for even more opportunities to help.



Okay, your turn.

Do you currently have or have you previously had a mentor?
How did you get connected with them?
Are you a mentor to somebody else?
What advice would you give to somebody looking to find a mentor?
Looking forward to reading your comments below.