Monday, October 31, 2011

Nonstop

Pretty much all I do these days is market the book. It's constant.

I've written to people who got comps, seeing if they'd like to book a speech or know an organization I should pitch. I read one industry publication after another and scan other relevant articles in business media, scoping them out as potential media I should target, looking up the authors, leaving comments and engaging in conversation and gently plugging the book.

And I think about TV and radio constantly. I've seemingly struck out with a morning TV show here and a couple of radio programs, but I did successfully pitch one particular radio program for a short segment in December. That was a good pitch. I played off a segment the host just did and I was specific. Which is what I always do anyway.

This weekend I'm in Cleveland and I even researched the radio stations here ahead of time and pitched one of them. It was last minute, but you never know. Next I'll be looking at DC TV stations for the day after Thanksgiving. Another longshot, yes. But my latest pitch is very specific -- tips to help people with their job hunt, which should be appealing.

The goal is to use radio to leverage up to local TV to leverage up to, dare I say it, national TV. Sounds crazy, but I really believe I've got something good here. An audience member at my first speech called me "charismatic," which is something I definitely am not in real life. But on stage and in front of the camera?

Well, I am an actor, after all ...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Golf is NOT like riding a bicycle


I was out for a walk on a beautiful Saturday afternoon and I passed the Diversey driving range, as I do all the time. But this time I stopped and went in and hit a bucket of balls.

I think the last time I hit a golfball was almost five years ago. And it was at the driving range, not on a course, so I was a little, shall we say, rusty.

Rusty and stupid. One of the three irons I picked out was a left-handed club. Which I probably should have tried using since I wasn't having much luck with the right-handers.

What happened to my skills? I was never a great golfer, but I could manage to hit the ball. And my form, at least, was top-notch, as I always assure casting directors in auditions where I have to play a golfer ("Yes, I can credibly play a golfer and even swing the club well, as long as you're not too concerned with where the ball goes").

But this was terrible. I kept topping out, or topping off -- see, I don't even know the lingo. Just crunching the ball hard from the top, sending it into a massive low-angle top spin. It's a good thing I played from the upper tees or many of them wouldn't have been airborne at all!

I'm actually less concerned about how I play than how I look. I've never played more than once or twice a year. But I do want to look good when I swing a club. An instructor once told me I had one of the most natural swings he'd seen. And while it's entirely possible he was seeking to sell me extra lessons, I do feel I bring a certain elan to the game that I would hate to lose.

The range is heated and open all year, so maybe I'll bone up a little.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Speechifying


All week, and for a week or two before that, I've been developing and planning this webinar for my university's alumni association. My second of four ALYMB presentations booked (so far).

I was really concerned about the technology, which was new to both them and me, about the timing and, mostly, about the weird feeling of speaking into a black hole with no way to read peoples' faces and body language and interact with them as I went along.

It's done and I'm glad it's over. I think it went well. The feedback so far has been good, and apparently there were very few drop-offs as the call went on. I certainly couldn't have done anything more to prepare.

I have to say it's not as fun as presenting live, but it's a good skill to have, especially with companies cutting back on conferences and travel. In fact, I've already pitched another organization on it.

And now between the first two presentations I have a wealth of material to present. Apparently there's an old saying in the public speaking business: "It's easier to find a new audience than create a new speech."

I suppose that's true, but I've got no shortage of material. I could talk for three days on this stuff, and I'm looking forward to developing other segments. Because I'm not sure it's that easy to find new audiences, especially in this economy. I'd like to try getting repeat business from the same audiences.

And I really love my new vinyl Act Like You Mean Business banner. It made a fantastic backdrop.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leapfrog learning

When I was in rehearsals for my first scripted show ever, I was in a bit over my head. I spent hours and hours at home memorizing lines and rehearsing my blocking.

One night the director taught us a song and dance number, and the actors almost burned the room down in protest. He started by handing out the script for the scene and we worked it and started to get familiar with the lines and what was going on.

But before we got comfortable with the words, he started teaching us the music. And we worked on that for a bit, but then he started having us sing it together. And just before we got too cozy with that he introduced a few movements into the routine. And before we could get comfortable there he taught us some choreography.

It was insane. So we all started complaining, asking if we could just learn one thing at a time before moving on to the next thing. And he explained that it was deliberate strategy, that you actually learn faster through this leap-frog method.

And you know what? For all our whining, we learned a whole song and dance number in just a few hours.

I try to use that method of learning when I can and have been doing it with these presentations. Before I get one done, I start working on the next one. So as I'm delivering #2 on Friday, I've got #3 underway, and when I get done delivering #2 I'll start in on #4 as I'm finishing #3, and so on.

The best part? This is fun. I could talk for days about this stuff. And since I don't have a marketing juggernaut at my disposal, I'm counting on Seth Godin being right. I'm hoping the passion I bring to it and the fact that I'm "having a ball" will be infectious.

Which brings us back to sketch. That same teacher said if audiences see we're having fun on stage, they'll have fun, too. And they'll be more engaged and on your side.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Special Delivery

This afternoon I delivered a couple of books to my dad and his wife.

He's mostly the same since July. We all had lunch together and he opened his eyes for a bit and smiled when he heard my voice and name.

Deb appreciated that I dedicated the book to my mom and dad and their subsequent spouses. She told me my dad would have been proud, which kind of got me. Then she said, "You've done all this, everything, all by yourself."

That's not entirely true, but it's how it feels sometimes, and I almost kind of lost it.

Here is the book's dedication:
To my mother and father and Ed and Deb, who taught me to work hard, think critically, laugh often, and not be such a jerk all the time.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

They came, they saw, they bought

Monday night I did my first live presentation on the book to a friendly group of Chicago actors.

First, I was relieved that the slides looked great and the technology worked flawlessly -- I ran the presentation from my iPad, hooked up to the flat screen TV, using my iPhone as a remote (which also allowed me to view my speech notes.

As for the content, it could not have gone better. I had two hours to fill, so it was more of a workshop than a speech. I kept it interactive, with group participation and exercises and lots of Q&A. And I customized it a lot, creating several big sections related specifically to actors.

That's something that struck me on the radio show: these lessons are for everybody. And it occurred to me that actors already possess the skills and training they need to succeed in all walks of life -- at their day jobs, marketing events, how they present themselves to agents and how they conduct their everyday relationships. The content really is very broad.

So the audience was engaged and I think it was a very informative and fun two hours. Most surprising is that people wanted to buy the book. Actors! People who aren't known for having a lot of excess cash lying around.

I actually ran out of books to sell. I didn't bring a ton of them, thinking I wouldn't need them, and it would be presumptuous to assume so many people would want it. I'm sure part of it was goodwill from a friendly audience, but I'd like to think that the presentation itself actually helped sell the book, which bodes well for future engagements.

The next one is a webinar for my university's alumni association. Once I get that presentation nailed, I will have a solid stump speech that can go anywhere.

Monday, October 10, 2011

On Your TV Now



Yesterday I heard from a relative in Denver that I was in a commercial during the Broncos game. Apparently her daughter asked, "Mommy, why is Rob on our TV?"

Then I got another report from Cincinnati. And Chicago.

Apparently this commercial I shot last month is up and running and practically EVERYWHERE. I have to say, it's fun to be on TV again. TV that people will actually see.

As for my performance? I liked that I got to close things out, of course. As for the three clips they aired, I'm not enamored of number 2. I felt like my expression was a little cheesy.

But they did indeed manage to pull off this epic production, and overall it turned out really well.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs

I said it six weeks ago when he stepped down from Apple, but Steve Jobs changed the way I listen to music, the way I watch TV and movies, the way I take, store and appreciate pictures and, maybe most significantly, the way I interact with and even feel about the computer.

Like a lot of people, I was working on an Apple device when I heard the news. Plugging away at my presentation in Keynote on my MacBook Pro. But I didn't hear it from the Internet. I was outside at my favorite tea place around the corner, where I had written the bulk of the book, and heard it from a passerby.

Maybe Steve's most important legacy, as I continue with this latest effort to fundamentally shift the course of my life, is the encouragement and permission to "think different.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Picture perfect

For the past week, my life has pretty much been learning Keynote, tinkering with design and searching the Internet for and downloading free stock images to use in my presentations.

I've found some really beautiful stuff, but it is massively time consuming. It's like shopping at Filene's or Marshall's. You have to spend hours rifling through crap to find the few hidden gems. But, oh, what I've found!



Via tdnb

They look even better big and in high res. I've found about 60-70 photos I'll be using. Including some of my own. In fact, that's a next step. Make a list of photos I need and take them myself.

I'm feeling really intense pressure to create knockout visuals. The people I've talked to and the stuff I've read say that you shouldn't use templates at all. Not using PowerPoint is a step in the right direction, and I also have tons of slides that are simply a full-frame photo with a headline overlaid.

Seth Godin says no slide should have more than six words and I'd say I'm averaging about three. Watching people read from slides like they're scripts is the absolute worst.

I could pay someone to do all this, but I don't think that's such a wise investment right now. When I start getting paid for speeches is when I'll invest in professional design and high-priced stock photography.

For now it's good to have the control. And I'm learning a lot. Most of all, I'm practicing what I preach (show/don't tell). And the reverse is also true -- the more I practice it, the better equipped I am to preach it.

I'm just really, really tired ...