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Have your kids ever put their hands in the oven?

Have your kids ever put their hands in the oven?

It’s a pretty simple question. Have your kids ever put their hand in the oven?

No? Just me? Fair enough. I guess you’re a perfect parent.

That happened when my daughter was 18 months old. We had the oven open for approximately 1.3 seconds but that was all it took. (Kids are like tiny raptors, constantly checking your perimeter for weaknesses.)

That’s what the first few years of raising a kid is like. It’s not parenting so much as it is protecting.

Protecting and trying to get your kids to eat something other than the chicken nuggets you used to judge other parents for feeding their kids. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? They’re sold in a bag that’s as big as a sleeping bag at Walmart?

Parenting is a weird, fun, difficult journey.

I’ve got two kids, one who is almost 14 and one who is almost 12. (They’re still in the almost age group. No adult says “I’m almost 52!”)

I’m by no means an expert. I’m learning to navigate things like social media with my kids and dreams and hopes and the future just like a lot of you.

Along the way, I’ve decided to share a few of the things I’ve discovered about parenting. Once a week, I’ll send you an idea that has helped my family.

The ideas will be honest, real and sometimes funny. To that last point, don’t sign up if you’re easily offended. Parenting is too hard to also add being offended. I don’t have time to be offended.

That’s it.

If you want the ideas, sign up here.

Skills

Be careful about reading this.

I recently changed what I’m doing online.

Instead of blogging big general ideas, I decided to get laser-focused. I started writing ideas exclusively for writers, speakers, entrepreneurs and fitness fans.

In the middle of that, I got an email from a guy name Garth. Here’s what it said:

Garth rewrote his speech after reading one of the ideas I shared and it absolutely crushed.

That’s awesome, but I still must warn you.

If you start reading these ideas, you’ll need to change. You’ll need to finish that book you’ve always wanted to write. You’ll have to edit your speech. You’ll have to get off the couch and into the gym. You’ll have to learn how to promote your business.

If any of those things make you nervous, don’t sign up for anything I do. But, if you feel differently, here’s your invite:

To write better books and sell more of them, sign up here.

To give better speeches, sign up here.

To have more fun and make more money with your small business, sign up here.

To get in better shape and eat healthier, sign up here.

Each list is ultimately about change.

Our lives are constantly changing, that’s not the question. The question is “Will we be part of it or will we fight it?”

Sign up for the list that works best for you. That’s all you have to do today. But soon, you’re going to send me an email like the one above.

I can’t wait to read it!

Skills

The simple mistake public speakers (and pastors) often make.

There’s a very common, very fixable mistake that a lot of speakers make. It’s something that particularly plagues pastors.

The problem is not something I came up with. I first read about it in a book called “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln” by James C. Humes. It’s such a grievous error that he spends an entire chapter of the book on it. What is this problem?

The weak open.

Or more specifically, wasting the most important minute of your speech.

A speech has two critical minutes, the first one and the last one. What happens in between is certainly important but it’s nothing like what happens when you open and close a speech. It is in those moments that you have the greatest opportunity to reach your audience.

On the front end, this is the moment you first capture their attention. On the back end, this is the moment you send them home with something memorable.

Lots of speakers waste their first minute by doing one or all of the following:

1. Introducing themselves.
2. Expressing their gratitude at the opportunity to speak.
3. Commenting about how great the event is.
4. Specifically thanking the person who just introduced them.

Pastors, however, have added a new twist on these wasted moments. Now, if they have more than one campus watching via video, they feel the need to say hello to all the audiences.

“Hello Springfield, hello friends in Mission Hill, special greetings to anyone watching online, shoutout if you are watching a recording of this on a data chip after the zombie invasion, etc.”

I attend a video campus and I have never once thought, “Thank goodness that pastor acknowledged I’m here.”)

Why shouldn’t you introduce yourself or say thank you in the first minute? Well, for starters, you will most likely have already been introduced. In 99% of the speaking engagements I do, someone introduces me. Why should I repeat what the audience has just been told?

More than that though, it’s a waste of a powerful moment, that moment where everyone in the audience is waiting to see where you’ll take them. It’s an awesome moment, packed with anticipation and hope.

Imagine if a movie or a concert started with an introduction or a hello to everyone who might one day see it. “We’re U2 and we are from Ireland. We usually start with an amazing song. Today though, we want to tell you how thankful we are to play music for you here in Cleveland. This is such a great arena and we’re so glad that the opening band played some songs for you guys. We also want to say hi to everyone who is watching the livestream of this.”

Boooooooo.

What a boring concert.

Instead, what does U2 do? Instead what does the movie theater do? They dim the lights. They widen the screen. They launch you into a huge moment, full of excitement and joy and emotion! They set the stage for something amazing to happen.

How do you do that, especially if your speech or sermon isn’t loud and dramatic like a rock show? Read this.

That’s not to say you can’t greet other campuses or thank the event host. You can do all of those things. Just do them where the author Humes recommends, in the middle of the speech.

Don’t waste your opening minute.

It matters too much.

P.S. I’m writing a book on public speaking and giving it away week by week for free. This is one of the chapters. To get the rest, sign up here.

Hustle

I’m writing four new books. Here’s how to get them for free.

I don’t think I’ll ever publish a book about health or exercise or kale. I hate kale so much. Kale chips taste exactly like regular chips. If you’ve never tasted a regular chip.

I don’t think I’ll ever publish a book about speaking or being an entrepreneur or being a writer. And yet, I have some ideas.

I’ve learned a few things about a few things.

I’ve published six books.

I’ve run 100 miles in a month.

I’ve spoken to a million people.

I’ve built a seven-figure business from a garage because that’s where you have to say you started. It’s always the garage.

I thought it would be fun tell you how.

Not because I have something to sell, but rather I have something to share.

I love writing. I love it so much. I love the words and the dance and the ability to say something that matters. I want to do it more. I want to write about a billion books.

So, here’s what I am going to do.

I’m going to write four books and give them away for free, one week, one chapter at a time.

What does that mean?

It means every week, I’m going to send you a chapter with an idea about a topic that matters to you.

By focusing on them as books, I’m motivated to do my absolute best with the quality of the content.

I’ve already had 12,000 people sign up, but wanted to make sure you didn’t miss it too.

Are you a public speaker? Sign up for this book.

Are you an entrepreneur? Sign up for this book.

Are you trying to get in shape and eat better? Sign up for this book.

Are you a writer? Sign up for this book.

Life is too long to run from the things we care about the most.

I care about writing. I’m going to do a lot of it.

If you are any of the people I described above, sign up for the free book that will help you the most.

Skills

The secret to getting paid as a writer

This is a guest post from my friend Jeff Goins, who has a new book out called Real Artists Don’t Starve. If you order it this week, you’ll get $200 in bonuses. Find out more at dontstarve.com.

The secret to getting paid as a writer

When the science ­fiction writer Harlan Ellison was asked to contribute an interview for a film project on the making of Babylon 5, he said, “Absolutely!”

There was just one catch: “All you’ve got to do is pay me.”

“What?” the young woman on the other end of the call asked.

“You’ve got to pay me!” he shouted.

“Well,” she said, “everyone else is just doing it for nothing.”

This was when Ellison lost it.

“By what right would you call me and ask me to work for nothing?” he said. “Do you get a paycheck? Does your boss get a paycheck?”

“Well, yes,” she admitted. But, “it would be good publicity.”

“Lady,” he said calmly, “tell that to someone a little older than you who just fell off the turnip truck.”

As a long­-time screenwriter, Ellison has seen many people come and go in Hollywood. He understands how the business works, what the economics are, and how to survive in a very competitive market that is unkind to creatives.

He’s also seen new writers come to town not understanding they ought to be paid for their work.

“It’s the amateurs,” he said, “who make it hard for the professionals.”

Ellison knows a secret many beginning writers don’t know. It’s one I certainly didn’t understand when I began my career: If you want to get paid, you have to charge for your work.

Obvious? Sure. But it’s still something many writers, creatives, and artists struggle with. Harlan Ellison, on the other hand, sticks to one simple standard: he never works for free. Today, he is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood.

Over the past several years, I’ve seen many writers launch their careers by giving away just about everything they do. I made this same mistake. We do this because, we are told, it’s a great “opportunity.”

The problem, though, is what we call “opportunity” is really just a gamble. Opportunity doesn’t pay the bills. It doesn’t put food on the table. You can’t invest and watch it multiply. Opportunity is a bet, and like most bets, you rarely win.

If you want to be generous, by all means give your work away as much as you want without expectation of payment. Personally, I love doing this, but I do it because I choose to, not because I believe it is my only option. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being generous. It’s just hard to build a career on the currency of chance.

So, please, believe you’re worth more than an “opportunity.” Charge something, anything. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Some is better than none. Just be careful giving away your best work, because it can become a hard habit to break later.

This doesn’t make you greedy, by the way. When someone accused Walt Disney of making movies for the money, he replied, “We don’t make films to make money. We make money to make more films.”

Money is the means to making more art. Without it, our work is over before it begins. When we charge for our art, we are making a statement about how we value our work. The world won’t take us seriously until we do.

Skills

The number 1 mistake public speakers make.

I’ve been a professional speaker for the last 9 years.

“Professional” basically just means that I own a sport coat and a belt.

The number 1 mistake that I see over and over is actually very simple.

Want to know what it is?

It’s a mistake that people make whether they’re talking to 10,000 people or 10. I think that’s what we forget sometimes. Public speaking doesn’t just mean you’re a famous person on stage. (Like Betty White or Lorenzo Lamas.) It also means you know how to lead a meeting at your company.

Being able to clearly communicate an idea is critical for your career.

You might never keynote a big event, but if you need to get buy in from your manager at work, you better know how to deliver a speech.

So, what’s the mistake most people make?

Most people think the first step in creating a speech is to write the speech.

It’s not.

The first step is to understand the audience.

When you give a speech, you’re not there to speak. You’re there to serve.

It’s not about you.

It’s about the audience.

The first thing you need to do, long before you work on your speech, is talk with the audience. If it’s an event, you need to call the event planner. If it’s a meeting, you need to talk with one of the attendees.

Every time I give a speech, I ask the client a specific list of questions I have developed over the years. Some of the questions are obvious, but one of them is very, very surprising.

Depending on the size of the event, I’ll even go meet with them face to face. It gives me the chance to get a sense of how to best serve them.

One of my goals with a speech is to make the audience know I care about them. I don’t get to do that unless I know them.

Empathy requires curiosity.

Have you ever been at an event where you could tell the speaker had one speech and no matter who was in the audience, it was going to be the same talk every time? You feel invisible, like you don’t matter.

That speaker didn’t try to understand who was in the crowd.

They had a stock talk and that’s what you got.

What questions do I ask people before I talk to them? How do I use social media to really figure out who my audience is? What’s the best thing you can ask before you lead a meeting or speak at an event?

I’ll give that and much more with my new free resource, the Speaker’s List.

Once a week, I’ll send you a speaking idea it took me years to learn. My goal is to help you give better speeches. Pure and simple. If you’re a professional speaker, my goal is to help you make more money in your speaking career.

How you communicate your ideas matters, regardless of what your job is.

Ready to win at public speaking?

Sign up here.