ET-073: A conversation with Mr. Manoj Vasudevan
ET-073: A conversation with Mr. Manoj Vasudevan
and your host Wayne Brown on November 14, 2023
and your host Wayne Brown on November 14, 2023
Episode notes: A conversation with Mr. Manoj Vasudevan
Hello and welcome to the ET Project. I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and as usual, we’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET.
Today we’re heading to Singapore to meet up with our guest, Mr. Manoj Vasudevan. Manoj is an internationally renowned Next Level Leadership Readiness Expert who helps leaders break through to the next level of career, business, and life. He’s the CEO of Thought Expressions, chief mentor at Next Level Unlimited, and the 2017 World Champion of Public Speaking.
Manoj holds an MBA from Imperial College London with 25 years of leadership experience in strategy management and technology with many major MNC clients in Asia, Australia, the USA, and Europe.
Here is an extract from our conversation as we start to get into it…
This week, I was telling somebody then, “Everything you do, eventually is a journey of self-discovery, of finding you, finding what you’re good at, what you need to improve, and what you need to do to fix your gaps.” So that actually took me into situations which I was not used to before, like consulting for some of the largest companies in the world, working with people from some 45, 46 different countries in the same teams, looking at the cultural diversity, different people, different attitude, behaviors, cultures. And so to navigate that, I really enjoyed doing that. I really enjoyed observing people, learning about people, finding out where they’re from, what they do differently, and how it makes them think in a certain way. So this was a part of that journey of growing. So more than a business, I realized it was my own journey of self-discovery, like hitting new roadblocks, taking on new risks, and new challenges, meeting new people, and listening to different perspectives. And I think that was the most enriching part of it…
Today’s Guest: MR. MANOJ VASUDEVAN
As an expert in Next Level Leadership Readiness, Manoj coaches top leaders, senior executives, bureaucrats, celebrities, UN diplomats, and professionals constituting a clientele from over 50 nationalities.
Manoj is the author of international bestsellers including Mastering Leadership The Mousetrap Way and How To Become The World Champion of Public Speaking, the Definitive Step-by-Step Guide. He is featured widely in international media including BBC, CNBC, Business Insider, and the world’s top-ranking book fairs.
As you will hear in one part of this conversation, Manoj explains how he was engaged by BBC as a body language expert and asked to interpret what he observed during the presidential meeting between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
- Manoj Vasudevan -Next Level Leadership Expert, World Champion | LinkedIn
- Manoj’s website – Thought Expressions
- Manoj’s for Public Speaking course – Nervous to Fabulous
- One central page to find all of Manoj’s social media locations
Final words from Manoj:
The key message here is important. Once you achieve a goal, you see, I’m pausing, you have to replace a goal, otherwise, your mojo will come down.
So, you put all the energy into achieving something. And then once you hit it, and you say fine, then you actually, that’s why people who after retirement, they just go down the hill. So that was why I even tell people for your audience, I always say always be, your job, so your job is always to prepare for your next level, whatever that next level means to you.
Otherwise, you’re just coasting, a lot of people say,” Manoj, I’m coasting and no challenge, no motivation to work,” yeah, because you have no goals, that part was something I was working on. But eventually, the wiser I got, I am nowadays more go with the flow, I do not like to reduce my attachment and expectation, and it’s whatever comes, I do my best I can.
That has been the approach I’ve been taking recently, since the pandemic, the pandemic gave you a visibility of two weeks, if you get a lot of people who are affected by the pandemic. And I said, what’s the best thing I can do if there is like… So I focus on more high-priority stuff but generally go with the flow…
0:00:04.8 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m your host, Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as TEAM ET. Today we’re heading to Singapore to meet up with our guest, Mr. Manoj Vasudevan. Manoj is an internationally renowned Next Level Leadership Readiness Expert who helps leaders breakthrough to the next level of career, business, and life. He’s the CEO of Thought Expressions, chief mentor at Next Level Unlimited, and the 2017 World Champion of Public Speaking. Manoj holds an MBA from Imperial College London with 25 years of leadership experience in strategy management and technology with many major MNC clients in Asia, Australia, USA, and Europe.
0:00:55.5 WB: As an expert in Next Level Leadership Readiness, he’s coached top leaders, senior executives, bureaucrats, celebrities, UN diplomats, and professionals constituting a clientele from over 50 nationalities. Manoj is the author of international bestsellers including Mastering Leadership The Mousetrap Way and How To Become The World Champion of Public Speaking, the Definitive Step-by-Step Guide. Manoj is featured widely on international media including BBC, CNBC, Business Insider, and world’s top-ranking book fairs.
0:01:33.3 WB: As you will hear on in one part of this conversation, Manoj explains how he was engaged by BBC as a body language expert and asked to interpret what he observed during the presidential meeting between Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. So TEAM ET, are you ready to join me and our guest, Mr. Manoj Vasudevan as he shares with us practical tips on next-level leadership and communication?
0:02:04.3 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.
0:02:19.5 WB: All right. Well, welcome again, TEAM ET another fantastic week. Manoj, I’m not sure about what you’re doing. Well, first of all, welcome to the ET Project, great to have you on.
0:02:29.2 Manoj Vasudevan: Oh, thank you, Wayne.
0:02:31.9 WB: You’re sitting in Singapore, maybe you’d like to give us a bit of a background on where you’ve come from and what do you…
0:02:38.3 MV: Oh, sure. I was born in Kerala, in India, is the southern west coast of India. And I did my engineering degree in India in B.Tech in electronics and communication engineering. Then I went from one thing led to another. I did management consulting, I did a host of other things, ran my own consulting company. I did… Of course, right now, what I do like management consulting, leadership coaching, executive coaching, public speaking, professional speaking, [chuckle] and mentoring, and whole sort of different things. But yeah, I’m from Kerala in India.
0:03:20.6 WB: Manoj is a world champion public speaker through the Toastmasters organization, we’re gonna spend some time unraveling that, understanding how you got there and the journey as much as anything. So you studied, I believe, the Imperial School of Business or one of those in London, yeah?
0:03:42.9 MV: Oh, that’s right. That’s right. So after doing engineering and working in organizations, especially in management consulting, I realized there was some gap. And typically, when engineers find a gap, they go and do an MBA.
0:04:01.6 MV: And so I did MBA from Imperial College, London. And it was a great, great stuff. Okay? It was a great education. But I realized it didn’t solve my core problems. It didn’t really make a tangible change in my career. That’s when for the first time in my life, I started to take a step back and really observe people who are successful in their personal life and professional life, the people who climb the corporate ladder faster, what are they doing differently. And that’s what I discovered five core skills that they have, and which I never learned. I should say nobody ever taught me that stuff. And I didn’t learn.
0:04:42.0 MV: So I realized, if you do not master those five core skills, it doesn’t matter what you master, your qualifications and all these things are lesser ranked compared to that. So I realized you have to master those five core skills. So that’s when after my MBA, I started focusing on developing those five core skills to make it more impactful. And then results are proof that it works.
0:05:10.7 WB: You’ve proved it in a big way. So maybe we’ll just look at that journey a little bit, because I know, I think your first business or company was, it started in 2004. What was it called? Something XB5…
0:05:28.0 MV: Yeah. So I used to work for Big Five Consulting. So when I left and started my company, I call it X Big Five, that XB5 Consulting. So that was focused on consulting. But to do that, it was like jumping in the deep end of the pool, because I had no experience running a business. I didn’t have those five core skills I now talk about. So that’s also part of my self-discovery. See this week, I was telling somebody then, “Everything you do, eventually is a journey of self-discovery, of finding you, finding what you’re good at, what you need to improve, and what you need to do to fix your gaps.”
0:06:04.2 MV: So that actually took me into situations which I was not used to before, like consulting for some of the largest companies in the world, working with people from some 45, 46 different countries in the same teams, looking at the cultural diversity, different people, different attitude, behaviors, cultures. And so to navigate that, I really enjoyed doing that. I really enjoyed observing people, learning people, finding where they’re from, what they do differently, how it makes them think in a certain way. So this was a part of that journey of growing. So more than a business, I realized it was my own journey of self-discovery, like hitting new roadblocks, taking on new risks, new challenges, meeting new people, listening to different perspectives. And I think that was the most enriching part of it.
0:07:00.2 WB: Right. How did you branch out into management consultancy in the sense that you worked with all these large companies? How did you get connected with them in the first place?
0:07:13.7 MV: Oh, that’s a very good question. So one of the five core skills I mentioned, if you want, I can quickly go through the five cores, we can go into it later.
0:07:20.9 WB: Please. Yeah.
0:07:24.6 MV: One core skill… So the five core skills, one is an ability to connect, how do you connect with people when you meet them for the first time? How do you talk? How do you introduce stuff like that? But actually, it’s not same as networking, but it’s connection, like connecting as a human level. So the ability to connect. The ability to communicate, how do you express your thoughts clearly, confidently, convincingly. The ability to network. I’m a shy reserved introvert, so networking is like the last thing I want to do. But the way I reframed in my mind is networking is an ability to build a network of relationships so that you get the right help when you need it the most. And ability to lead, how to lead people, manage by exception, get things done, building high-performance teams, things like that.
0:08:11.7 MV: And then the ability to influence, how do you get other people to accept your ideas? So going back that I realized, when I started my company, a lot of my business came from the connections I made before. People recommending me to people, and I’m kind of maximizing those opportunities. And once I am inside the customer or a client, I’m trying to build a very authentic way. No, I usually say, “You should network without drinking, bragging or golfing.” Because drinking, bragging, and golfing is gonna take a lot of time. My strategy is to make those deep connections so that people remember for a long time.
0:08:51.6 MV: So sometimes I have had my colleagues or customers recommending me after 20 years. So I use that example saying that we have to maximize those interaction being presented with people as you talk to them. So this has also helped in other aspects of life, right? Making those deeper connections. So it’s not because of marketing, a trick or something to break into the big clients. Actually, it is a less glorified ideas of simple conversations that led to opportunities. But you probably heard this, right? People like to do business with those they know, like, and trust. That’s as simple as that.
0:09:33.0 WB: Yeah. So if I pick up on a buzzword used very loosely these days, authentic or authenticity is really at the core of you and how you present yourself to build that relationship, if I picked up correctly.
0:09:51.1 MV: That’s right. So this came from actually me interviewing my customers, asking the simple question, why did you hire me? Because… So it came from, and this word keeps coming. So that’s what works. I had a client from Australia and I asked him this question, “I don’t do a lot of outbound marketing. I don’t call people. I don’t message them on LinkedIn, ask them, do you… So I’m just… But everybody’s doing it, everybody else seems to be doing it. Should I be doing it?” He stared at me and said, “No, you should not be doing it.” I said, “What makes you say that?” He said, “You are like a magnet.” So at least that’s the way they perceive. So I said, “Okay, fine.” So that’s how I did.
0:10:31.9 MV: And again, it works within my style, because I am honestly a shy reserved introvert. So for me to go beyond my comfort zone is a lot of a steeper learning curve than I’m maximizing my strengths as an introvert.
0:10:48.7 WB: From your management consulting business, which I believe you still have, in 2008, if memory serves me correctly, you then started your second organization, Thought Expressions, which is also running now, this is your main business, I guess, today, is that the case?
0:11:07.9 MV: That’s right. So what happened was, when I was doing consulting, initially, I said, this was going through referrals and people recommending. Then actually, I lost a deal, lost a renewal deal, just because I didn’t know how to negotiate. Because I thought this was running client, I was like, “Oh, how can I make such a this mistake?” Because I thought… So I was thinking what is missing. Then actually, I started focus… Actually doubling down on some of the other core skills, which I have not been working on. Part of that was speaking, influencing, that kind of… Communicating better stuff like that. That’s when I started focusing on that.
0:11:46.6 MV: So then, the better I got, people actually started asking me, “Can you help me to overcome my fear, present, become a keynote speaker,” and stuff like that. That’s where I just… And I love doing that. As you definitely know, it’s like the coaching is the force for good in the world, right? It’s the most powerful force of good for change in the world. And I really like that. I really, really enjoyed it. So then we incorporated and made it like a specific different things. Eventually, I got more and more interested in doing that, partly because you can actually see individuals change in coaching.
0:12:23.7 WB: Very true.
0:12:24.4 MV: When I’m doing a massive project with 400 people in a management consulting or a large project, you don’t really see the end impact of your changes you make. But when you’re sitting with somebody one-on-one listening to their problems, giving them, guiding them or mentoring them, and you see change, you feel like, “Wow, I can do that.” So that was more fulfilling.
0:12:47.4 WB: Between the start of Thought Expressions 2008 and 2017, when you were crowned world champion, business, I guess, was predominantly at the heart of what you were doing. Although I believe, if my research is correct, you started in public speaking and with Toastmasters at the turn of the decade type of thing. So around 2010, 2012. Am I right?
0:13:12.7 MV: No, actually, I started public… I’ve been thinking about starting public speaking for a long time, since 2006. But eventually, I started in 2008, because this is a problem with everybody who wants to learn public speaking, they keep pushing it down till it become a problem. So I was already doing that. And so my intention was not, I was focused purely on impact, because I could not believe that I waited so long to learn such a critical skill of whether it’s public speaking or leadership or this human behavior elements, and body language and stuff like that, which I could have learned in my school, right? Somebody should have taught me in the school.
0:13:55.0 MV: So when I started learning this, and I saw this in huge impact, like tremendous impact on people and me, I realized, “Hey, this is something I can help other people to shorten their curves, shorten their learning curves.” That was my motivation. So my focus primarily was still in the management consulting space, then I got more serious in this, like a few years down the lane, in terms of, “I need to do this, focus more time on this.” Because as they are following what… Those days, it was more fashionable. After 2008, if you believe, remember, after the financial crisis, it became more fashionable to follow your passion, [chuckle] or following your passion became more fashionable. So I was one of those people who say, “Yeah, I need to do something I want to do.”
0:14:44.4 WB: That’s because we had no money left, right?
0:14:47.2 MV: No, there was like… All these big organizations are collapsing. And we are like running after something that’s not making much impact.
0:14:57.9 WB: Right. In this period, you write a couple of books, I believe.
0:15:00.0 MV: Yeah, I did write a book… I did actually four books, two of them were co-authored with others. And the two books really stood out, one was on leadership, Mastering Leadership the Mousetrap Way. That’s about how to become the leader, others admire and follow. And I was just fortunate that the number one leadership thinker in the world, Marshall Goldsmith, actually wrote a great endorsement for the book. So that gave me a lot of credibility, and also taught me a lesson that I should be helping even more people. I’ve also increased my belief system of… This is valuable stuff. So that was one.
0:15:35.2 MV: Then after I won the world championship, again, the same, actually, the objective was the same to help others shorten their learning curve. I wrote a book on How To Become The World Champion of Public Speaking because I thought if I had read such a book when I started, I would not have spent all these years to win the world championship.
0:15:53.7 MV: So I essentially wrote a book I wanted to read.
0:15:56.6 WB: You mentioned Marshall Goldsmith. I mean, Marshall’s, somebody as a coach, I think any coach in the world knows of Marshall Goldsmith. How did you come to meet him? And how did he come to write your foreword? Or write…
0:16:10.5 MV: Oh, this is an excellent, excellent question. So I also believe in serendipity. So I typically say I learned things in three ways. One is strategy, I use my intellect and make things happen. [chuckle] And second is stupidity, make mistakes, and learn from the mistake. Third is serendipity. So one thing led to another, I’ve never met Marshall Goldsmith before. And one thing led to another, somebody recommended my book and brought it in front of him. And he wrote the testimony.
0:16:39.6 WB: Very nice.
0:16:41.6 MV: So I’m like surprised, I’m like, honestly surprised, because that line he wrote is magical, because he has a famous book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. And the line he wrote for me is, basically, my book, The Mousetrap Way will help you to get there, or something like that. So I’m like, also, at least the word resonated with me a lot. And I think I’m very fortunate, I could not have made it happen, just a combination of events that made it happen.
0:17:08.1 WB: So very briefly, what is your book, Mastering Leadership The Mousetrap Way? What is it about…
0:17:14.6 MV: It’s about a two-minute story, which I call The Mousetrap. And I derive 18 leadership lessons from my observation of people, and my own journey and of the journey of people I have coached and met, 18 competencies they need to work to be seen as a leader. So typically, it’s for people who do not really believe they can be awesome leaders or do not know what’s the path. So I start from that two-minute story, it’s a very compelling story. So I use that in my keynote. And that’s one more reason the book became popular. You can watch the keynote on YouTube.
0:17:49.1 MV: So it’s actually a two-minute story, but I developed that into… So part of that is storytelling, part of that is making the messages stick and giving a framework for people to implement, starting with ownership. So I say, I might take on this, ownership is the habit that leads to leadership. So people who take initiative without directive, get on stuff, learn stuff, make mistakes. So then there is like step-by-step from ownership all the way to achieving a vision. And I’ve tested this with people. So a lot of people said, “Oh, I never thought I was gonna be a CEO of a 200,000 member company. I just did one thing, then one thing led to another.” And I thought that was the way I have grown. One thing led to another, and you grow from there.
0:18:36.0 WB: Yeah. So I like that, I’m delivering a leadership program at the moment. One of the modules is on ownership. I like that because it’s for a group of leaders. So I’m going to steal that if that’s okay.
0:18:55.2 WB: The year 2017 I’m sure is etched in your brain forever. You had a small victory in 2017. It was a world championship that you were awarded. So I’m just wondering if you could unpack a little bit of the journey that led you to that point.
0:19:12.0 MV: One thing that happened, and I’m not saying anybody who listens to this copy my pattern because different things work for different people. For me, when I started, I wanted something to aim at. Because I was certified at public speaking. I was not public speaking because I’m not speaking, not because I don’t know it’s useful, but I just don’t know how to do it. And I was afraid to do it. And I was not seizing opportunities. I was avoiding opportunities, many many times. What happened was, one of my mentor at that time, he said, “You should compete to become The World Champion of Public Speaking.” I said,” What is that?” So that’s where it started. So he planted a seed and then I was curious. That’s a good goal. So I like that goal-oriented approach to most things in life because you know what you’re shooting at.
0:19:53.1 MV: So right now, I tell people always stay ready for the next level. Whatever job you are, look for the next level, look for the next level. Because that goal-oriented approach kind of channels your behaviors and actions you take…
0:20:05.7 WB: Absolutely.
0:20:05.9 MV: To get to somewhere. So what I really spent time actually to learn public speaking implements. So I’ve done humorous speaking, I’ve been a champion in various forums there. I’ve done standup comedy. I was among the top 25 standup comedians at the International Comedy Festival in Hong Kong, but I didn’t pursue that path because my mentor said, that’s not the direction you should be going. So I then was immersing myself with this goal of winning. So the key question people ask me is slightly different from what you asked. In 2015, I was world number three.
0:20:40.5 WB: Okay.
0:20:40.6 MV: In the same contest. That gave me a lot of fame. My video was viral and people were calling me and stuff like that. But in 2017, I competed again to become world number one. So people say you are already world number three. Why do you want to like go through all the [chuckle] trouble to compete again? So but in my mind, my goal was to be world number one. World number three was not even a consolation prize for me because… So then I started thinking, how come people don’t think the same way? I realize people are not thinking the same way. Then I coined a word called a world champion mindset to believe, to be the number one in what you do. Because then you benchmark… The key thing is you start benchmarking with a certain group of people. Then you model those behaviors and you increase your minds…
0:21:28.1 MV: You change the order of your thinking. You have a higher order of thinking and the results changes dramatically. It’s exponentially different just because of what you benchmark with. So that was the key learnings. One is the, my own self-discovery of, “Oh, I can set a goal and achieve it.” Second is my own learning. And of course, amazing people I met in the journey. You know, you meet a lot of people. And of course then again, my thought process, “Hey what can I do to shorten the journey of other people?” Because by that time I had already had my book on leadership. I was doing leadership coaching. I do, I’m specialized on a topic called Next level Leadership Readiness, helping people to get a breakthrough the next level in their career. So I had some leadership coaches who was mentoring me at that time. So I was so immersed in that. Then I become the world champion. So when I tried to integrate these two things together, I was doing leadership coaching. People ask me for world championship or professional speaking, keynote speaking. So I integrated everything under this Next Level Leadership Readiness.
0:22:26.1 WB: Very nice.
0:22:26.5 MV: So that was how it’s integrated. Yeah.
0:22:30.0 WB: So if we were to put a timeline against it, are we talking multiple years? You mentioned 2015, the actual world championship as you said earlier.
0:22:39.3 MV: I believe I attempted like, over many years, like seven or eight years, I attempted five times.
0:22:45.3 WB: Okay.
0:22:45.8 MV: So my goal was to win within the fifth time. But I believe I eventually won at the sixth time if I’m not wrong.
0:22:53.9 WB: Okay.
0:22:54.0 MV: Fifth time I was world number three. Sixth time I had to go one more time to get the world number one.
0:22:58.5 WB: So you…
0:23:00.0 MV: That was a lot of really because there’s a lot of effort. It’s like 35,000 speakers from 142 countries.
0:23:05.6 WB: Yeah.
0:23:06.2 MV: And I’m an Asian, I’m not a native speaker. [chuckle] So to really compete at the level needs a lot of dedication and sacrifices. Yeah.
0:23:16.8 WB: There’s so many expressions we could use that would represent this journey. I’m sure. Like, I think the Japanese have an expression, I’m paraphrasing, but, you know, fall down seven times, get up eight type of thing and Mandela says something similar. So you are a very persistent individual, it seems. So once you have a goal, you really lock onto it and persistent until you achieve it.
0:23:46.0 MV: I would say if I had won the first attempt, because of course the first attempt I thought I’m going to win. Like, every time you attempt, you think you’re going to win. If I had won in the first time I would not have learned more about myself. So that’s why I keep emphasizing everything we do is a journey of self-discovery. So but that eventually leads to total personal mastery, right? Totally under… But so I believe setting those goals and believing in those goals, even to be anything you want, like even let’s say somebody watching this were under a certain role, you want to be CEO of the company. I would say being, becoming, and believing. You first be the CEO in your mind, you think like a CEO, demonstrate behavior of a CEO then of course becoming the CEO that you end up being that, I use the word CEO, it could be anything.
0:24:35.6 MV: But being, becoming and believing, believing is very important. Once you reach there, a lot of people, they don’t believe they start to have imposter syndrome or maybe, oh my god, so you heard all about this, right? So I always say, you have to start believing, yes, of course, I’m the world champion. I’m the world champion. So that belief, or I am the CEO, so I am… So this belief, if you don’t instill in it that… I’ve seen CEOs who cry on the job just because they have not prepared for the job. They complain and whine about everything actually. So can you believe sometimes I go home and cry. I said, really? Yeah, because… But he is not doing what he is supposed to be doing. So that is part of these two, three things be not having the, being, becoming and believing steps.
0:25:26.1 WB: So that in a way answers the question I was gonna ask you about five attempts. You’re still not number one. You’re going back for your sixth attempt. Was there any doubt in your mind?
0:25:37.2 MV: Oh, so the sixth time I had… I was so convinced in my mind, but I, of course, to be honest, I did the preparation, not like a blind belief.
0:25:46.7 WB: Yes.
0:25:47.2 MV: I did the work, but in my mind I was so convinced I’m going to win. I even prepared a thank you speech. And when they asked me to, after giving the trophy, they asked me to deliver a speech. I took a paper from my pocket and said. Well, they all started laughing [chuckle] because I had a speech. So because I always notice a lot of people after win anything, they don’t really believe they win. And when they’re asked to speak, they fumble. Then I said, I should not be that person. I have to be ready. So nowadays, when I tell people and anything they achieve, I said, start acting as if you are actually going to get it. Whether or not you get it a second thing, but you actually should have that approach towards it.
0:26:25.3 WB: Right.
0:26:25.7 MV: Then the results might more in your favor.
0:26:28.1 WB: Stephen Covey, start with the end in mind.
0:26:30.1 MV: Start with the end in mind.
0:26:33.0 WB: I know we’ve spoken about this when we first connected, but I’d love you to share your story about the actual day or evening of the event. For the listeners, standing in front of a large group is something that they probably fear more than death, or at least that’s what the survey showed. How did you approach your day, your evening?
0:26:55.2 MV: Okay, that’s true. But actually you should realize that by the time I’m already an established speaker, I was doing personal speak, so I was in a different state of mind, but I’m used to that. So I’ve spoken to audience of 20,000 before that. So I’m like used to that stage, but that stage only had 2000 people. So it’s like, I’m like, but that’s, no, see this, I tell people, you know, when once your mind is not… You heard this line, when mind is stretched, you know, it doesn’t come back to the same dimension. So audience-wise, I was not stressed. What I was stressed about or concerned about was the event was at night at 9:00 PM or something like that, late at night. And there’s a huge conference, 2000 people, people were in the room since 8:00 AM in the morning till night.
0:27:36.8 MV: And I know from experience that people are very tired and not paying attention at night. So I looked at the time in the agenda and prepared accordingly. So one of the things I did actually, what, I actually slept the whole day, I just woke up like one hour before the event then went to speak. So this actually relaxed me a lot but though I had my own challenges [chuckle] because I had… I’m rushing to get to the event almost late and stuff like that. But the resting was something that really helped to and also, I typically say in your public speaking journey, there are three specific milestones. So people who are starting this journey, they’re so focused on themselves. So it’s like that’s when the fear is the highest. In fact, I did a TED talk on TEDx talk on this, which is where I was sharing Stop The Fear That Stops You. You can watch that.
0:28:29.1 MV: One of the things I say is that the root cause of your fear is your ego. We avoid situation that will hurt our ego. So there are specific things you can do to get there, but the whole idea for me to answer your question was I was used to that stage. I was focused on delivering my speech. I had a feeling that I’m going to win. And I had a feeling that I need to do a good job. That was the process for that. Yeah.
0:29:00.8 WB: You’ve already released a couple of books by this time, so probably not surprisingly, there was a book in, and you’ve mentioned it, how to become a world champion of public speaking. You cover a lot of topics in this book, but there was five essential ingredients that it highlights. I wonder if you could just touch on those.
0:29:19.0 MV: Oh, absolutely. No, there’s no problem. Actually, this came from one of my, one of the CEOs, one of the top billionaire CEOs, and he wanted to keep his executive talent to actually scale up in the organization. He asked me this question, “Hey how come my people don’t speak up, they don’t communicate better.” And he’s a like phenomenal communicator. He is like on all the top. He is a top ranking CEO in the world. And he said, “How come my people are not doing it?” And then I said, you know, one thing… So he asked me to coach some of them, but I said, “No, I can’t coach them unless they realize this is something important they have to learn.” And then they have benefit in learning this. So I can’t, like, no, you can take a horse to the river, but you can’t make it drink. The horse really need to be thirsty. So people need to have that. That’s why I keep telling them, you need to have goal, you need to have focus on. So he asked me, what’s something? So whatever I told him became my idea for that book.
0:30:13.8 MV: Which was, I said, “Number one is a mindset.” So in the general context of your audience of executive talent, I would say mindset of what is your goal and achieving. So in my book, I would say the world champion mindset to actually be there. And so extends, that’s at the core of it. Next, in that context in public speaking mindset, message, what is that you want to say? What is your message to the world? And this, some people still struggle. In fact, I was coaching one top professional speaker this week, and he wanted to do a talk, a TEDx talk. And I said, “Sir, what’s your message for the world?” He said, “You tell me.” [chuckle] I said, “I can’t tell you. I want you to think, yeah, I give you 30 seconds. Tell me what is your message.” So people really need to dig deeper and find what are their messages for the world. So I give some challenges around that to actually identify those messages that resonates with you because the whole world is watching. Nowadays, anything you put on YouTube, everyone is watching. So you have to have those messaging of what is that you want to say quite clear in your mind.
0:31:23.8 MV: So mindset, message. Third one is mechanics. So that is very extensive. From crafting, how to connect, how to tell stories. And it’s quite very in-depth. And this was quite specific to that short speech those kind of events. But widely applicable. So mind, message, sorry, mindset, message, mechanics. Mentors, mentors, mentors. That’s very… I call them kingmakers. I said all kings are surrounded by kingmakers. So if you are smart surround yourself with king makers. Like what you said, no, you need to feel young, you need to be surrounded by young people [chuckle] So if you need to win big, you need to have kingmaker. So I call kingmakers really short on the curve, and I suggest how to select a mentor. Typically, there’s a lot of aspects to it, but one aspect I’ll tell you is your mentor should allow you to go beyond them. This is one big problem I’ve seen because a lot of mentors want to keep you in, no, make, keep you in their shadows.
0:32:28.7 WB: Yes.
0:32:28.8 MV: So I am very happy. A lot of my students are doing way better than me, like way better than me. So whether it’s in professional speaking, leadership coaching, revenue generation, everything, they’re like doing better. And I’m happy about it. And the reason is, the best mentors I had had no insecurity in me growing. They actually were cheerleaders throughout. But I’ve seen lot of cases the mentors won’t make the mentees in their mold. “Oh, I want you to be like me,” right? No, you are… So I keep telling my people, don’t follow me. No, I’m equally lost. Don’t follow me.
0:33:07.8 MV: So you can learn from me, I don’t want you to be my fan because that’s unnecessary. Because you can learn from me, you don’t worship me or believe everything I say but I want you to think for yourself. I’m just giving ability to think differently and make your own conclusion because if you become my fan, I need to behave in a certain way to please you and then I won’t grow. So that’s one our mentors. Then the last was… So again, mindset.
0:33:34.8 WB: Mindset, yeah.
0:33:38.0 MV: Message, mechanics, mentors and masterminds. So masterminds is something that I strongly recommend and I also run my own mastermind. What I say, this is not a, even leadership is not a team, it’s not a solo sport, it’s a team sport. Public speaking is not a solo sport, it’s a team sport. People have to come together, any topic if like-minded people come together, it just really exponentially grows. You don’t know what dimensions the synergy what we say, there’s a lot of things come, new ideas emerge, you become a different person and I run my own masterminds. I’m more a facilitator and usually run late at night because it’s a global mastermind.
0:34:19.3 MV: So actually, after the mastermind, I myself can’t sleep and people complain they can’t sleep and the reason is you’re supercharged all these ideas brimming and it came from the group, it’s not just from me, it came from… And I also give a voice to everybody in the audience. I don’t want to be seen as a guru, I facilitate, I contribute but I also learn and I give them a voice. So I believe all these five things, I essentially not just didn’t become the world champion but basically a template to, I would say many many things you can be doing.
0:34:50.1 WB: So like the five things…
0:34:52.4 MV: The leadership communication, whether it’s leadership communication or achieving goals, I think that will work.
0:34:58.9 WB: What’s the life of a world champion after you get crowned I know you’ve been in the limelight a lot prior to that crowning but how much did your life change after that 2017 world championship?
0:35:16.2 MV: One world champion once said, he said, “Once you win the world championship of public speaking, you get a lot of invites to speak for free.”
0:35:29.1 MV: So that is an ever-going thing. So actually, it comes to certain responsibility as in you have to role model behaviors and stuff because a lot of people actually believe what you say which is why you have to be very conscious of what you say, I’m just worried about that. In fact, one of the feedback I got, I told you about I had a human library session this week, people ask me questions. And one lady said then which I like, he said the way you speak, you don’t attach yourself to it, you are leaving them to take the decision, you’re not attaching you, you’re just giving a suggestion as and I like that. So and I’m more conscious of doing that. Because otherwise people might say, “Oh, he said might be right.” I said, No. I said, you test it, you prove it, only then it becomes part of you.
0:36:13.0 MV: And I also tell my clients, don’t give any credit for your winning. You own your stuff. Don’t say something because I’d asked you. So this has been an approach for me all along. But that has been very effective and also helps to grow the client. It’s like it helps to grow the client, then I’m following them, I’m leading them, I’m walking side by side, and not having a conversation. So that has been my focus. And of course, from the branding perspective, as I said, my core focus was, and has been on next level leadership readiness.
0:36:46.0 MV: In a way, the world championship kind of diluted my brand, because I’m more famous for being the world champion. And the leadership coaching is also one of the biggest things I do. And so I had to integrate these two things in terms of world championship and this. So the opportunities are to speak, always there, whether it’s professional speaking or all these pro bono events. So you pick and choose where you go, and share what you have to share.
0:37:15.8 WB: What’s the future look like for you? What you have planned? You hit that pinnacle. Does it stop there? Or you have higher goals again that you’re aiming?
0:37:26.6 MV: Okay. So when I won the world championship public speaking, as I said, it’s a true story. I said, I was a person who was scared to speak, for me to speak in 2000 people or speak in front of 35,000 people, speakers around the world, or compete against them. It’s a huge big deal. It’s a trajectory… People from my school or university say, “You.” You can speak, so that…
0:37:49.7 MV: In fact, one of the guys messaged me, “You never spoke, I can’t even remember you saying anything, forget about public speaking, saying anything.” So my goal, actually, that’s what planned in my mind is if I win, I will announce that I’m going to help 20 million people to overcome the fear of public speaking.
0:38:06.2 MV: So I started a free course, a foundational course, and called a nervoustofabulous.com. That was actually for free, people register, they learn, they understand the mindset and beliefs, and stuff like that. Of course, there are some advanced stuff as well. So that was my goal. But then I realized when you give people things for free, they don’t pay attention. So when you pay, you pay attention. So I’m actually getting like, leveled up on those, professional coaching programs, the confidence speaker program, professional speaker program and stuff like that.
0:38:40.0 MV: And of course, one on one coaching. That I realized people are more invested and more serious. Not to say the other program has a lot of people who actually either patient and discipline, they will do it as they’ll complete and the people from more than 100 countries have completed that program. So there’s a quite an achievement. So I’m like, I can die peacefully. And so I’ve done I think, good stuff there. But that was my stuff but this is very important. The key message is, here is important. Once you achieve a goal, you see, I’m pausing, you have to replace a goal, otherwise, your mojo will come down.
0:39:18.2 MV: So you put all the energy in achieving something. And then once you hit it, and you say fine, then you actually, that’s why people who after retirement, they just go down the hill. So that was why I even tell people for your audience, I always say always be, your job, so your job is always to prepare for your next level, whatever that next level means to you. Otherwise, you’re just coasting, a lot of people say,” Manoj, I’m coasting and no challenge, no motivation to work,” yeah, because you have no goals, that part was something I was working on. But eventually, the wiser I got, I am nowadays more go with the flow, I’m not like reduce my attachment and expectation, and it’s whatever comes, I do my best I can. That has been the approach I’ve been taking recently, since the pandemic, the pandemic gave you a visibility of two weeks, if you get a lot of people who are affected by the pandemic. And I said, what’s the best thing I can do if there is like… So I focus on more high-priority stuff, but generally go with the flow.
0:40:27.8 WB: There’s one element that we haven’t touched on, and I can’t finish the day without asking you about it, because it’s very topical, but you were contacted by the BBC, back in 2019, for the Trump-Kim meeting, and you’ve already touched on the fact that you’re involved in body language and human behavior, maybe just share a little bit around why and what transpired during this meeting?
0:41:00.9 MV: Okay, sure. So I just keep background, I’ve always been observer of people, I said, when I’m working and observing, reading people, and I believe that’s a very important skill to have to read the room. A lot of people communicate inside the room, and wonder what happened. Why are people resisting? Because you didn’t read the room. I was very conscious of that. Then I had a very bad habit of being interested in geopolitics. I used to read and I was very excited about it. Then I recently have cut down on that a lot. I was quite primed for this. So I was closely watching this event of the Trump-Kim summit.
0:41:39.3 MV: It was a secret meeting, because it’s a closed-door meeting. One of my tasks in that BBC interview, BBC event was actually, see, what do you think is going on? So this is like a closed-door meeting, and I need to be very politically correct, and also say the right thing in the geopolitical context, and the place where it’s located. So that’s a good challenge. But one thing I start to stay away, because when I watching that meeting, I was very sure that nothing is happening. To give very example, you can watch this, let’s say after that meeting, both of them have a walk in the garden. This is something it’s not, when I tell you, it doesn’t look like rocket science, okay? But having that visibility is very important. Observation is important, because here’s they’re walking. Let’s say if it was a major achievement, their body language would have been very different. In the actually what happened, they’re just walking around like that, as if nothing happened. It’s very obvious.
0:42:38.3 MV: But inside the meeting, how Trump is responding, and you can see, this is not going well. Now, I didn’t say that the second for the first part, okay, nothing happened, because something did happen, they did meet, it’s quite an achievement. But if you want to see the other side of it, you watch how Ronald Reagan, and Mikhail Gorbachev, he actually signed that treaty, and how their body language is different. Now, one of the things in the media is you need to know what to say. But more importantly, you need to know what not to say, because whatever you say can be twisted and used in a different way. Yeah, that was experience. But the real lesson here is, if you are really focused on developing your listening skills, deepen your listening skill, you can read people. And if you can read people, you can identify who they are, what are their values, what are their motives, what are their drivers, then you can influence them. So I always say, influence starts with listening. Not some magical tool from the sky is actually listening. And leaders who can listen, and I’ve seen all the best leaders, excellent listeners. That one is, and of course, as a coaching as well, you deeply listen to what people are saying and what people are not saying. So that is a thing what we all do.
0:44:03.4 WB: Where is the best channel for people to connect with you or if they wanna follow you?
0:44:07.6 MV: I am these days more active on LinkedIn. Maybe I can send you the link, you can put it down the chat. So that’s where I’m more active. And I have channelized a lot of communication on that. Of course, I have a website called thoughtexpressions.com. That’s my main website for my organization in this domain.
0:44:27.5 WB: Manoj, thank you so much for being on the ET Projects. It’s been incredible.
0:44:31.6 MV: Thank you, Wayne. It’s great to talk to you. You had excellent questions and nice talking to you and an honor to be on your show. Thank you so much.
0:44:40.1 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars, and blogs at coaching4companies.com.