About This Episode
As a Digital Marketer, you’re going to need to be comfortable giving presentations and potentially public speaking at some point in your career. How do you gain those skills if you think you need help? And can you become a better communicator even if you’re more introverted? How do you get started increasing your soft skills when it comes to communicating and persuading others?
The better you get at conversations, the better you get at presentations. The better you get at presentations, the better you get at negotiation. And it all fills its own cup eventually until it becomes a multiplier effect. Brenden Kumarasamy
Brenden Kumarasamy is a public speaker, communication expert, and founder of MasterTalk, a program where he teaches students and executives to add value to their personal brands by building relationships, learning storytelling techniques, and communication skills.
- How to work on your communication skills to increase your success in persuading others.
- How becoming a better communicator can elevate your personal brand.
- How, as an introvert, can you easily earn confidence in public speaking and storytelling?
- Tips for how to switch up your communication style to be more effective on video calls during this age of social distancing and Zoom meetings.
Connect with Brenden
- Networking platform HiRightNow
- SEO Speaker Accelerator (free for mentees)
- Public speakers Brené Brown, Gary Vaynerchuck, and Seth Godin
Thank you for listening!
If you’d like to know more about change-makers in digital marketing, celebrate their wins, and discover how they built a breaking ground career, subscribe, share and comment on the Digital Marketing Victories Podcast.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:00:00] Brendan, can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and your background and how did you end up becoming a YouTube creator, being involved in public speaking and coaching?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:00:08] Yeah, of course. So my name’s Brendan, I’m the founder of master talk, which is a YouTube channel I started to help the world master the art of communication, public speaking, and how I got started on YouTube. When I was in university, I used to do these things called case competitions. Think of it like professional sports, but for nerds.
So while other guys my age were playing football or soccer or something else I didn’t really understand. I applied the same competitive spirit to presentations. So for three years I presented hundreds of times and coached dozens of students on their communications skills. When I got a job in corporate America, after I graduated.
Kind of just ask myself a simple question. How do I make a difference in the world? And that’s when I realized that the communication information available on YouTube as a platform was really bad. You know, you hear advice like, Oh, Jim, you should be yourself and get up on stage. What are you supposed to do with this advice?
So I started making videos in my mother’s basement, one thing led to another and the rest is history.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:01:06] That’s awesome. And particularly this podcast is focused on digital marketers. So how do you think public speaking could help digital marketers?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:01:15] So the way I think about it is all of us are becoming media companies. What I mean by that is each individual has their own personal brand. And the way that they elevate that personal brand is going to help to sell the products and services, especially in a digital marketing space where you have different social medias, and that’s where all the attention is today.
But the other part of that is thinking about this idea that the customer has a lot more information than they used to have. So 30 years ago, they didn’t really have that much choice as much as they do now. Now with the click of a button, they know exactly what the product surface is. They know exactly what other people think about it is, and they can make decisions based on that.
So when they look you up, when they look up your service, your product and who you are, you want to make sure that you have content that showcases who you are really well. And using Portland as an example, the user base there, Nike does a great job with this, You know who they are. The second you think about their logo.
And that’s what helps them. Branding clearly goes a long way. And I believe that also applies to personal brands and products and services across all industries.
Jim Keeney: [00:02:18] Do you also think a piece of that is, in that digital landscape, it’s harder to feel a personal connection to things. And so storytelling, and audio video really breaks through that barrier.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:02:33] Absolutely. I think what’s great about this era, Jim, is the game has gotten a lot more fair in the sense that if your content is really good and the way that you communicate that content storytell, that content is very effective. It’s still easy. It’s much easier today than it used to be to get to that exact niche audience.
That needs you the most. And I’m a great example of this. I started mastertalk when I was 22 and I started coaching C-level executives. So when I was 23 and the reason is just because I have the results, right? So it doesn’t really matter who I am, as long as the market and the content that I create behind those services matches what the expectation of what the client is needing.
It’s fine. And that analogy applies for all industries. So I think it’s a very fascinating time to be alive.
Jim Keeney: [00:03:18] so that’s interesting, when you went to C-level, when you converted and took your business to the next level, what changes did you have to do or was it pretty much the same thing?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:03:29] So there’s two parts. That’s a great question. One part was the digital marketing side, what changed? And the other part of that is the, just the pure business side. So it’s on the digital marketing side. And then what really helped my cause. And this is something I recommend any, anybody who has a consulting business or a personal service, depending on what they’re trying to achieve with it, is having an established YouTube channel really goes a long way.
Even if you don’t have a lot of people viewing your YouTube channel, you don’t need a million subscribers. Since YouTube is one of the top search engines in the world, besides Google and Amazon, it’s a lot easier for people to find who you are at the click of a button. And since YouTube, you don’t need an account to actually watch videos.
Like every other social, I believe it’s you, can’t like, what’s great is you could just link a video and that’s it. Like you, you have instant credibility, And that’s how I’ve had much success in booking shows as well. It’s you barely pitch, you just send the video and they go, wow.
This person is either not a fit for the show or really a fit, so that’s, I think the beauty and on the business side, And to make a long story short, I had relationships. So my business partners double my age and as a leadership coach. so I primarily use his client list.
So that combined with the YouTube brand that I’ve been able to create has been, has been beneficial for me in the last year.
Jim Keeney: [00:04:45] So it sounds like it really came down to the perceived maturity gap was the only, other than building the YouTube channel, which of course, you know, that is a skillset and a work in and of itself. And that gives you the credibility, but the next, in terms of, material changes to your business, it was, it was, bringing in those references that helped with, authentication and perceived maturity gap.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:05:12] Absolutely. And another tip, I can give people who, you know, cause I got a bit lucky with the relationship, but I would say that what I did before that, and it’s still worked pretty well is a concept that I learned from one of my mentors called show don’t tell. Don’t tell people you’re a speech coach.
Don’t tell people you’re digital marketer, get them the results. So one thing I used to do as an example is let’s say there’s a C-suite executive. I really wanted to work with I’m very picky these days. But when I started, I just wanted to get that client base. So I would send them an email.
I wouldn’t say, Hey, I’m a speech coach. Why would they take me seriously? They’re really busy people. What I did instead is I sent them a PDF and a voice recording of one of the keynotes that I watched on YouTube and outlined the 57 mistakes that no other speech coach caught. And I just said, Let me know what you think of it.
They always reply with how much do you charge? It’s always the same thing, right? So that’s the key right? Show. don’t tell people you’re a speech coach, show them same thing with master talk. my YouTube channel isn’t an ad for myself services. I didn’t even start the YouTube channel to build a practice.
I wanted to be an executive at a company. like at an IBM or at a McKenzie. That was my goal. That’s why I did these competitions. But because I focused on the content, the value that’s what I still do today. Despite how successful the business has become is it’s really just saying, how can I add more value to people through my content?
And that’s what’s brought the success.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:06:35] it’s very interesting because I’ve been spending quite a bit of time this year, speaking about voice search and, and hearing other people on panels talk about how with folks looking for stuff via voice. Oftentimes the response coming back is coming from a brand and how much brands need to really think about their brand voice?
Like literally what the brand voice sounds like So there’s in the digital marketing space. There’s this increased, fervor around figuring it out both between the brand stuff being responded back and you needing to know what the brand sounds like. And the fact that video is being shown more in Google search, 95% of the time it’s YouTube.
So there’s this increased pressure on the digital marketing space to figure this out and to actually have a sound for your brand. Anyway, I think it’s very interesting as you’re talking about how to, how digital marketers can think about public speaking and storytelling. I think it’s very timely.
So I’m curious about, when you coach people, do you take a different approach depending on the output? So if they want to be on a podcast versus a zoom presentation versus YouTube, do you provide different tips to them?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:07:41] Definitely different tips for different scenarios, but the advice and the framework that I use is the same. And I’ll explain why. Communication at the end of the day can be simplified in one sentence. As you master one, you become a master of all. What does that mean? If you get better at one of the verticals of communication, you get better incrementally over the others.
So what does that mean? If you think about conversations, the better you get at conversations, the better you get at presentations, the better you get at presentations, the better you get at negotiation. And it all fills its own cup eventually until, until it becomes a multiplier effect. That’s how I’ve always viewed communication.
So the way that I think about my programs, my curriculum, I was happy to share that, is I always focus on one vertical first and I have them master it, even if that person isn’t looking to master the vertical, just to boost them. So I’ll give an example. Presentations are by far the easiest vertical to work on because you can see the results A to B really fast.
And most people aren’t really good at presentations because of how the education system taught them to present. Because most people present like this. yeah. Hi everyone. it’s so great to be here. Catherine whereas, let’s say when I’m coaching or forcing them to get really good, I would, they would sound like this good afternoon to the board of directors of digital marketing solutions.
My name is Brendan. I’m very excited to give you this presentation, notice how it’s very professional now. And I can, we can get that in two weeks. So once you get that, what happens is then they get their confidence as a speaker increases and then they feel they can master anything. And so that’s where you want to get them.
So the key is master one vertical. I usually recommend presentation skills first, and then the next ones should be prioritizing the order that you selfishly want.
Jim Keeney: [00:09:25] Gotcha. Yeah. I do want to not let something go that you said two seconds ago, you said you’d become very picky about who you work with. What does that? I’m curious as to what you use to judge who would be a good customer.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:09:42] Oh, that’s interesting. Lots of cool questions. I’m having fun with this. This is great. so the way that. Everyone’s going to have their own opinions. And it really depends on what your ideal business wants to look like.
Jim Keeney: [00:09:54] If I may, I want your personal answer. I don’t care about it, because that’s going to give them more insight into how you evolved your thinking to get to that point. and I think that then they can come back and think about it for themselves.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:10:07] Sure. Sure. Happy to talk to it. So when I started I had a very simplistic model, getting 40 clients one-on-one and scale from there. And boy did, I hate my life. because of that, I started taking on clients that didn’t really like, just because they would pay me this, this is when I got started.
It was probably a year and a half ago. and I wasn’t happy, I’d wake up on a Saturday instead of having 10 interviews, which is a lot more fun. I would have 10, one-on-one clients and, let’s say three of them, I didn’t really like too much, because they just weren’t implementing the advice and they weren’t really great, but it was the point I’m driving is.
I had a reflection over what I wanted the business to look like in 10 years. And for me, it’s a media company, I want to be the next Dale Carnegie, I want to spend 40 hours a week coaching people. So instead what I did is I transitioned to a group model, which was right after this call, actually I have four hours of coaching after this.
But the point is I have a kids program, Coach, my executives as kids. So I see it not really for money. That’s really just to understand their psychology so I can make better videos for them on YouTube. Because the videos are essentially for the people who can’t afford, we don’t have the people who can, and then I call it the anti customer.
And then the other side of that is the executives who are the people. And I only work with people that are handpicked by somebody else because I don’t want to go through filtering process. So it really depends what you want to build. But for me, since my focus is weirdly, 95% YouTube, I really focus my time on doing as many interviews as possible.
And then I coach maybe, I think I coach five hours a week now.
Jim Keeney: [00:11:35] Okay. Okay. Yeah. No, that makes sense. That makes sense.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:11:39] What have you learned along the way around running a YouTube channel and making it successful? Are there any other tips that you can share with our audience that might be struggling with their own YouTube channel?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:11:49] Oh, yeah, a hundred percent. Here’s the thing that most people miss, the one piece of advice and that advice is if you want a thousand followers to have a thousand conversations. I just think a lot of people are lost in this idea of, Oh, I have 10,000 followers. How do I get to 20,000 or Brendan?
And I have 500 subscribers. do you know, I got my first thousand subscribers, YouTube. I messaged 1500 people individually and asked them to subscribe. Some of them, I would send voice messages. I said, Hey, I’m starting this YouTube channel. I know it sucks. I’m in my mother’s basement, but could you please subscribe?
I got to a thousand subscribers in 60 days. And then after that, even today still one-on-one DM. Anyone who DMs me on Instagram, I respond with a voice message even today. I don’t need to respond to anybody. I have a pretty thriving business. I can just. I don’t care if they’re, I remember just to give you crazy idea, just to show you how obsessive I am of my audience in the same way Gary is, and he takes that on a whole other level, but we need to start understanding why people of his level and that’s true with any of those influencers.
Why did they still have one-on-one conversation with the general public? And the reason is because it’s not worth it for them financially, I can tell you right now. And the reason is because to stay sharp. To always understand what their clients need, what their audience needs. So they can always constantly adapt the content to them.
And it’s the same thing with me, three weeks ago, somebody messaged me from this success speak society and they said, Hey, we’re a club we’d love for you to come speak. So I just come for free. I just, I was a pro bono and I realized when I got on the call that they were all high schoolers. It’s wow, I didn’t expect that. I said, it was all highschoolers. So that’s the key. It’s all about adding value, wherever you can. And building a small fan base of super fans. That’s how I’ve been able to grow master talk to the height that it is today. And I still plan on doing that. just to give you another idea, I’ve probably done 350 interviews this year.
I’m pretty nuts. So that’s the key that I want to drive for people is it’s the one-on-one conversations with the people who need you the most, that scales your business and your impact and ideas. Not the other way around.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:13:55] Fascinating. Cause that’s generally how I create content for my business is that a client needed it. And so I figure other people do too. And that’s how stellarly focused it is.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:14:03] Right, and just to more YouTube advice. The other part of the advice I would give is to batch content years in advance. So they’re the key to YouTube in my opinion, is what’s fascinating about the platform is a lot of the videos are evergreen and so what this means for them, for those that don’t know who are listening is it means that even three years later, people can still watch your content today.
That’s not true with most social media platforms at all, actually. So what I recommend always is that most people lose on YouTube. Most people, obviously you could debate but how do you mix current news worth? I got you, but I think the main reason most people lose on YouTube is because they Miss weeks. they’re not consistent with their posting. just to give you an idea of the behind the scenes. I have a full production team now and, of two people who like, create everything for me. And I write my content out three years in advance so right now, like now during the Christmas break, I’m about to finish 20, 23 and then my goal for next year.
‘Cause we’re still in COVID. So I’m not flying as much as I used to, is to write my next 10 years of content so that I can only focus on promotion. I call it 99/1.
Jim Keeney: [00:15:10] 99/1. What does that mean?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:15:12] spend 1% of your time creating content, spend that other 99% promoting.
Jim Keeney: [00:15:16] Promoting. Yeah. Yeah. The ratio. Yeah. Yeah. And at the heart of it, is that emotional resonance. so people are looking for something to connect to, and you’ve got that personal voice, but in addition to that, having those random, not random, but having those conversations with the people that you eventually want to grow your.
Business into gives you the language that they use to describe the things that you’re dealing with. And this is something I’ve run into all the time as I try to help people understand. Yeah. You know what you’re trying to sell, because you’re obsessed about it. That’s your, you love your product, but that’s not what your customer is asking at all, you need to get your head into the head of your customer and the best way to do that is exactly what you said, which is talk to as many people as you possibly can because there’s subtle nuances to the way they talk about what they are, what they’re interested in. And then when you use that same language back at them, that has a much more significant impact on them.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:16:14] Yeah. And I’ll give you the best example. That’s a great comment Jim is, I’ll tell you how that helps me with my business. There’s nobody in the industry in mine. Anyways, who’s had more conversations with six-year-olds about public speaking. and the reason that’s so effective. It’s actually serious, I know it’s funny, but there’s
Jim Keeney: [00:16:30] No, that, I’m laughing because that’s a good thing.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:16:33] Yeah, exactly. yeah. I know. We’re all on the same page and the reason that’s so important is when I was at these pro bono workshops and I would just talk to these nine-year-olds, these six year olds and I would ask them, what do you think about public speaking? That always go, I don’t really like it.
That gave me the best insight in the world. Nobody was creating content. Around how to use positive language in a way to communicate entered in an entertaining way. Communication and public speaking. That is fun. And non-threatening.
Jim Keeney: [00:17:02] Right.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:17:02] So everything in my videos, the persona I use on YouTube is very well thought of it’s be this happy perky guy so that the five-year-old and the 50 year old take me serious because the 50 year old will look at my videos and go, wow, this is really professional.
He’s got a suit shop and everything, but the five-year-old will go actually understand what everyone, what he’s saying in every video cause I use that those videos for my kids’ curriculum too. So if the kids don’t understand it, then it’s that it’s useless pretty much. But because I have that insight that nobody else in my industry is taking a look at, I can build a media company around public speaking and help millions of people rather than just the clients that I coach, which is the bigger goal.
Jim Keeney: [00:17:42] well, and I think one of the important things, trend wise is, demographically. The baby boomers are finally letting go. So the next generation companies are going to be asking constantly and I’m pleading, what do we do about the younger generation? What do we do about the younger generation? And you’ve positioned yourself.
For that transition and it’s going to happen over the next five years. I actually think that the COVID-19 is going to be the pivot point, where people start going. the world has changed. We’re no longer subservient to the dollars coming from the baby boomer generation. And you touched on something that I wanted to ask and you get this, I’m sure you get this question every time, how do you deal with people’s fear and anxiety of public speaking? And you answered it, but I want you to dive into it a little bit.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:18:30] Absolutely. So the trick to fear is simple. The fear will always be there all the time, but the way we need to think about it is it’s like a boxing match. Let’s say your fear is on one side of the ring and your messages on the other. The fear is always going to be in the ring, but you need to make sure that your message gets the knockout punch.
What does that mean? Now, I’ll use Brené Brown as an example. So for those that don’t know, Brené Brown is an expert in vulnerability, one of the top speakers on the planet and she hates public speaking. She’s even upfront about it in the first Ted talk she ever gave, she was like, I don’t like public speaking.
I’m a PhD in social work. I don’t see why I do it. So what we need to ask ourselves is why did she do it? You know, she didn’t need to. And the reason she did is cause she had to make a choice and the choice was, do I leave all of the knowledge that I’ve accumulated in books and research papers where a single mother with seven children would never have the time to look at, or do I take 30 minutes out of my life, summarize it in a very simple way so that it could maybe reach somebody like her.
She made her choice. I made my choice. 22 year old starting a YouTube channel in executive communication tips to help 15 year olds and everyone else who can’t afford me now, you need to make yours. So the question I always ask myself is who suffers from my inability to take action. And if you always ask yourself that question all the time or questions, like how would the world change?
If you’re an exceptional communicator, it’s a lot easier for you to create an incentive around communication and dive for the finish line.
Jim Keeney: [00:20:02] Yeah, that’s interesting. Years ago I started, I founded and ran an improvisational theater company.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:20:08] I love improv.
Jim Keeney: [00:20:09] Oh, improv.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:20:10] we both have a theater background actually,
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:20:12] thats awesome. I have a whole video on theater.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:20:15] and I was a debate geek. So there you go.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:20:18] That’s awesome.
Jim Keeney: [00:20:19] so I always took it from the perspective of techniques rather than mental framework. and so there are simple things like, one of the most, one of the most uncomfortable things about public speaking. What have you, is the fact that we are physical entities, and there is nothing more uncomfortable than standing on stage because you don’t have props.
You don’t have anything that you’re actually physically doing. You’re just theoretically up there talking. And so what I do is I literally tell them, go find props, go figure out, things that you can, even in this medium where you’re, you’ll notice that I’m using my hands a lot. Okay. That is a physical manifestation of my thoughts that helps keep me on track.
So I always took it from that perspective rather than the perspective that you described. and I think that you’ve done that’s a really good way to help people understand that it’s just a choice that they’re making. And if they’re passive about it, then they get the results that they expect.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:21:20] I think it’s fascinating though, pivoting back to presentations, which is where you start people at. So digital marketers often have to sell through their ideas, which is what this podcast is about. oftentimes that’s via presentations and now it’s via zoom. And I know in my previous life I spent a lot of time.
I was in a big agency, spent a lot of time trying to figure out the brains of the other people I needed to sell through to. So really trying to figure out who is the audience? How would they. Resonate with this message. We would spend hours figuring that out and then tweaking the presentation to be successful for that.
so I’m just kinda curious. What tips do you have on that end? Where it’s a corporate presentation? You’re trying to, you’ve got news where you’re definitely trying to pivot everybody’s brain about something and unfortunately it’s via zoom. So what are the tips that you provide there? Cause I think that’s where a lot of our digital marketing friends are today.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:22:09] Yeah, absolutely. So the thing we need to keep in mind is the difference between online and offline presentations is that it’s very difficult for you to gauge your audience’s reaction. So if I’m in person in New York, giving a workshop to a group of folks in a marketing agency, I can see them. So if I say a joke and it’s funny, I can see them laugh, but the opposite is also true.
My joke isn’t funny. And they don’t laugh and go, why is this guy saying jokes? I also know to adapt my presentation to be less funny, but either way I can tell when you’re in a zoom call with no cameras on. You can’t really see how people are reacting. So the same joke that you said earlier, you need to assume it’s funny.
And that’s where the added challenge is with online, even in a podcast like this with only three people on the call, I don’t really know how both of you’re reacting because you’re both on tiny screens, and I’m not looking at you two, which is the second tip. I’m only looking at the camera lens.
That’s why. You need to have a picture of somebody that you love or a favorite food and put it next to the camera lens. So you’re always looking at it. So it seems that you’re looking at the person directly, even if you’re not really. And then the third thing is always assume good intentions from your audience.
You can do that from two things. One is you can get on a call with them before the actual meeting that could be one person or a keynote. You have to give, just to understand who they are back to your point, Catherine, which I completely agree with. And the other side of that is this idea of. The other part of that is now that we understand who are the audiences, now that we’ve gone into call with them, the other side is to assume good intentions from them. So I’ll give you an example by podcast exerting. You know what a podcast essentially is, for those who don’t know if you get on a call with strangers who have done an insane amount of research on you and you answer very uncomfortable questions.
For those who are, actually these are actually not uncomfortable, but in most cases, that’s what a podcast is. So when I started doing podcasts, it was a bizarre experience. You would enter on calls. You didn’t know the people on the other side, you’re just saying. Yeah. So you wouldn’t know how to answer the questions either.
When I started, people go up Brendan, where does the fear of public speaking come from? I go to my basement, I don’t know?
Jim Keeney: [00:24:20] The dark corner of your basement.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:24:23] But over time, as you have, you do more of these, and this is with presentations or any other communication meeting you have conversations with them after the show, you realize that everyone’s just trying to add value to their local communities and you just start to assume that you’ve known them for a long time.
So it transitions very quickly from who’s Katherine who’s Jim to oh, look at Jim and Katherine, they’re adding so much value to their communities in digital marketing. They’ve already been to Montreal. This is going to be an easy conversation it’s as if I already knew them, but that’s a mindset shift that isn’t overnight.
It’s more a belief system that eventually becomes true as you do more and more presentations.
Jim Keeney: [00:25:00] what are the uncomfortable questions we should be asking you since you brought it up. Cause you said we weren’t asking uncomfortable questions.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:25:10] Oh, yeah, no, there’s a, there’s I’ve gotten questions around the block and questions come from me, frankly. my favorite question is, and it’s not really anything to do with public speaking. It’s, what are you pretending not to know
Jim Keeney: [00:25:22] Oh, that’s a good
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:25:23] that kind of stuff? Yeah.
Jim Keeney: [00:25:25] How do you answer that? Dodge and move on?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:25:28] No, I don’t dodge, actually, it really depends on, on that format. Like for example, that’s a digital marketing trick. When you get, when you do a lot of shows and you’re promoting your personal brand, there’s different versions of you that you bring up depending on what the host prefers going back to what you’re saying Katherine, it’s whatever the audience wants, right?
So I’m always adapting. Sometimes when I’m on shows, I’m talking about my personal story, my dysfunctional family, other times, I’m talking about public speaking. Other times, I’m inspiring younger generation to take action. And this time it’s a lot more professional where I’m really going diving into tactics and the behind the scenes with how I’m running the show.
But it really depends on what the audience wants and. What the audience wants. The host generally knows. They say hope I usually let them guide the conversation.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:26:10] talking about what the audience wants. So a bit of this podcast is focused on soft skills. because again, it’s all about the hard part of digital marketing is that. Something has changed. Maybe the traffic has tanked. You have to convince a whole bunch of people to pivot or add more work to their plate.
They don’t report to you. So how, how are you going to persuade them to do X, Y, and Z? And a bit of that is the soft skills. And I noticed on your YouTube channel, you’ve got a bunch of videos about soft skills. And I was wondering if you had any particular tips that you’d like to share with our listeners about how they can improve their soft skills.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:26:45] Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve got an easy trick in an advanced one. So let’s go with the easy one first, because most people don’t implement this. When we think about relationship building. For most people in the business world, it sounds very daunting. They go, Aw, man, I got to go to this cocktail. I hope everyone likes me.
I gotta give everyone a business card. It’s just not fun. It’s transactional. It’s not interesting. And it’s not fulfilling. So it’s not a great space for you to work on your soft skills. My advice is very different. The way I think about life is you’re only going to meet a handful of people in the world.
So let’s say if we use numbers, you meet one new person every couple of days. So every year that’s give or take a hundred people. So if you live for 50 more years and I’m sure both of you will live much longer than that, but let’s assume that as a number you do a hundred times 50 that’s 5,000 people. So in a sea of billions of people, you’ll only have the chance to interact with a few thousand.
So the question to ask yourself is not how do I get everyone to like me when you’re thinking about relationships and soft skills, but rather saying, who do I want those 5,000 people to be? What values do they have? What do they stand for? Who do they want to be? What are they trying to achieve? And what should they aspire to be?
When you start to ask yourself these questions, you start to filter. All of the people that you’re actually meant to talk to. And it’s in that space, that it is very, is the easiest to refund your soft skills. It’s a lot more daunting when you’re a networking talk trying to talk to someone who doesn’t even want to talk to you versus saying, I’m a pen collector.
Let me fly out to a pen collecting conference when COVID is over and talk to other people like me. So if I make mistakes with ums and ahs, or I don’t look confident, no one really cares because you all, you’re, we’re all a part of the same niche community. So that’s what I would say outside of work. So what I always say to my executives is, Brendon, how does this apply at work?
there’s some people you don’t want to talk to that you have to talk to, you have to interact with. How do you deal with that? My advice is always the same. You will never get better at communication in the boardroom. I’m very firm on that because you’re always in a stressful situation. It’s not a safe space for you to learn, and you’re not really incentivized besides, getting promoted at work to interact with people you don’t like to interact with, not the best place to skyrocket your skills.
That’s why for me, it’s always take it outside of the boardroom. Go focus on your passions, interact with people you otherwise wanted to interact with and use those skills and bring them back to people that you don’t like to talk to. That’s always my advice.
Jim Keeney: [00:29:19] Springing off of that, it’s very much like customer discovery as well. So if you’re running a company and you want to know, you want to prep your skills for interacting with the boardroom, why aren’t you talking to the people that work around you, and your customers, right?
Because those are the two sets of knowledge that when you come into the boardroom are going to make the difference. So I’ve recently gone through a round of, trying to raise money for a company and the most powerful impact that you can have when trying to, when talking to investors is, I talked to a customer and this is what the customer said.
If you, if everything that you’re saying constantly is well I talked to a customer and the customer said this, and I talked to a different customer, and this customer said this and see how those two things relate to the product and the business that I’m building, you’re always going to be successful. So for any company, there are basically two.
Two bodies of knowledge. What is your company doing? How is it processing and what do your customers care about? you should be masters of both. the safe spaces go talk to people. Exactly what you said.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:30:26] So how do you transition that to our weird online space? So you’re trying to find, say, you’re trying to find your tribe or your, I don’t know, 2021 resolution is that you’re going to increase your soft skills. And most of us are not connecting in person we’re connecting online. So do you have any tips for that?
if you’ve joined a meetup and it’s a big zoom call thing with a bunch of screens, is there any way that you can pivot and still work on your soft skills in this weird online world?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:30:53] 1000%. So I’ll give you the easiest trick in the book, and then we’ll go a little bit more for those who are more adventurous, easiest trick in the book is go to the people you actually like. And just say, who’s the most interesting person that you know, that I should talk to. I have met some insane amount of people, including the head of global HR at Tesla.
That I just talked to because he just knew somebody that I knew and I just talked to, and it was the best one-on-one conversation I had this year, I was like, why is this person talking to me? But anyway, that’s the point I want to drive is interesting people know other interesting people, just message them and ask, right.
I’ve met so many great, very intelligent people on shows that I’ve guested on and I’ve maintained relationships with them. That’s another way. The third way is I apply. I’m an advisor for a platform called Hi Right Now, which is essentially a networking solution that’s free and you can attend their free public events.
You meet like 10 people in an hour. It’s pretty awesome.
Jim Keeney: [00:31:45] Can you say that name again?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:31:47] Hi Right Now,
Jim Keeney: [00:31:49] Hi right
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:31:49] Hi Right Now.
Jim Keeney: [00:31:51] all one word.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:31:52] Yeah. three words.
Jim Keeney: [00:31:53] Yeah. Okay. Hi
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:31:54] They have a free public event every Wednesday. So yeah, I’ve been using a lot of, sorry. I think I’ve met like 150 people off their platform, it was pretty crazy. So you always got to think there’s always creative ways to meet cool people.
You just gotta be a bit more creative. That’s all.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:32:08] now I’m getting a little bit of an inkling that perhaps you might be an extrovert perhaps. And I’m kinda curious, what kind of tips do you have for people that are a little bit more on the introverted spectrum? But I still need to persuade people and still need to present.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:32:22] Absolutely. I’ve coached introverts who are way smarter and way more effective at communication than I am. And I think that there’s a very big misconception that introverts are really bad at communication. So I think a good way of starting this conversation off is explaining why introverts are so good at what they do instead of just taking my word for it.
So the first reason. Is they’re much better listeners, as you probably tell I’m a good guest on shows. Cause I always yap all the time. Yap. Yap. Yap. I’m always talking because I’m an extra extrovert as I like to call it, but. Because I do that. I don’t listen enough to what my audience needs or wants.
So I was a terrible listener the last few years I got better recently, but it’s something I’ve always struggled with. Introverts never have that issue. I’ve never met an introvert who is a bad listener to my record. I’ve never met anyone. That’s one. So they’re able to tailor their message better through the audience and whenever they speak, it’s actually value add versus for me, it’s maybe half the time because that’s one. Two, after listening. The second thing that they do is they pause effectively in presentations. Pausing is something extroverts have a very difficult time grasping because when there’s space in a conversation they always want to fill it. So let’s say we’re all at a bar together. We’re talking. chit-chatting and there’s no there’s and we all just pause somebody like me freaks out when they hear a pause.
Oh, But uh, did you see the game yesterday? Or I always try to fill the space. Cause it’s just very socially awkward for somebody like me, introverts don’t have that problem either because they spend more time on average, more time on average reading a book or spending time alone. So if there’s a pause in a presentation, they’re a lot more comfortable taking it.
Versus somebody liked me. It took a lot more time to master. I’m obviously comfortable with it now, but it took a while. Third thing is they’re a lot less polarizing. So what does that mean? Let’s take Gary Vaynerchuk, as an example here, since most people would know him from digital marketing space, Gary is the kind of person that you have to really like, or you really don’t.
And that’s the con of being an extroverted speaker. It’s one of the disadvantages because you’re either a super fan like I am, or you’re somebody who goes, this person is a, I hate this person, but if you compare them to a Seth Godin, nobody ever goes, I hate Seth Godin. I don’t think there’s a single person.
I know who’s ever said that on record. It’s just. He’s an introverted speaker. He’s less polarizing. he says, he says things that are just true and that’s it. He doesn’t yell at people. He’s very respectful. So because of that, he has an advantage where most people in the room go, I really respect this guy.
And Gary doesn’t have that, unfortunately, but he has a lot more super fans. So it’s all about pros and cons. But notice how I just broke down three key advantages that introverts have. So what’s the message here. The message here is let’s learn from each other. The person who’s an incredible speaker is the person who says, this is who I am.
I’m an extrovert in my case, can I learn from the introvert? So what the introvert needs to do is two things. One talks to other introverts to practice. And the other thing is learned from the extrovert. What are some of the things that Brendan is doing and other people like him that I should be implementing a bit more in my life?
Not a lot more just to be, he doesn’t need to yell like this on podcasts, but. Maybe he can increase his vocal projection a bit more. Maybe you can pause a bit less than say what you say, express what you say with more, a bit more conviction. And in the same way, me, maybe I should pause a bit more. Maybe I should listen a bit more and spend more time understanding my audience.
So it’s always a ying yang that we need to master, and that’s what the best in the game do.
Jim Keeney: [00:35:57] and I think when you break it down into specific techniques that they can work on, that makes it much easier for them to work on it. because this is very much akin to the. fear of speaking conversation that we had earlier, you’re constantly if there’s a big kind of concept and you say to somebody go work on that concept, it’s useless, it’s worthless, and that’s the heart of the whole cognitive based therapy concept is no break it down into something pragmatic and practical that they can actually work on in this case.
if they find themselves, when they’re public speaking with long pauses that make everybody in the room uncomfortable, what they can do is prep what they’re going to say in those pauses prior to conversations one of the things that I found out about Winston Churchill of all crazy people is, he always had the perfect phrase, right?
He would come in and he would say, w he would say these incredible, catchphrases, He actually prepped those in advance. And he waited for those circumstances when the press or his colleagues were asking him questions where he could deliver those, those phrases. And coming up with those techniques that, that you can work on, then gives you, it gives the introvert or somebody who’s uncomfortable with speaking the opportunity to practice.
As you said, in those safe zones, right?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:37:13] Absolutely. For me, the easiest trick that I recommend introverts do is just have conversations with people you actually want to talk to. I know this sounds overly simplistic, but it’s the best way to practice. Just talk to have as many conversations as you can without making yourself too exhausted.
And then over time, you’ll eventually just love people in general, and you’ll be much better at social skills, even with the people you don’t like. That’s what happened with me.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:37:40] So do you recommend that they do those conversations via phone or video chat? I’m just intrigued by, zoom fatigue personally, and how people might be listening better. If it’s a phone call versus video,
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:37:53] I’m a very simplistic guy as you can probably tell from looking at my videos since I’m speaking to five-year-olds and 50 year olds. So the way I think about it, do whatever’s comfortable for you if you like the phone conversations, have the phone conversations, like for me, I’m one of those guys who after COVID is over.
I’m just, I’m going to fly back out to personal development conferences, sing kumbaya and hug all the strangers. I don’t know. There’s just a kind of person I am, but does it mean it’s everyone who’s listening, right? Not everyone looks at Tony Robbins seminar. So it’s all about thinking about. Where is your tribe located?
Where can you find them in an online space or an offline one? And how can you get to them as quickly as possible so that you can find the joy yourself and the benefits of what it means to connect with other human beings.
Jim Keeney: [00:38:34] you talk a bit about storytelling on your channel and in your presentations. Can you expand on that? cause I think story storytelling is fundamental to everything that you do and we do.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:38:47] Yeah, absolutely. I have a very different opinion than most people in my space. I think most people who are listening should not focus on storytelling from a presentation context. And the reason I say that is because public speaking. And core foundational public speaking skills is more important to focus on than storytelling because storytelling is vague.
It’s super advanced and no one really understands what a good story is. So if I did this once upon a time, there was of a and a yeah. If I’m not good at public speaking, it’s going to be hard for me to communicate a story that’s different. Of course, in a marketing context, you don’t need to be a speaker to be a Nike, marketing campaigner.
But I meant in the sense of when you have a personal brand, it’s much more important for you to focus on your core fund foundational skills as a speaker, silences, ums, and ahs, posture, mastery, confidence, all of that stuff first. And then once you get that a hang of, then you can focus on how to tell better stories.
And I’ll give you a quick teaser. What I usually recommend for storytelling is the key to storytelling is understanding the following. When you understand your audience more than they understand themselves. If you can tell stories in a way that makes them feel that you understand them more than they understand themselves, you’ve mastered storytelling.
Hence why it’s very complicated as a subject. And that’s why we love Disney movies so much, not because of the random characters or the characters in those movies, but because we can relate to those stories in our personal life.
Jim Keeney: [00:40:14] That makes sense. and once again, we come right back to do you know, your customer?
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:40:21] Why do some brands fail at storytelling? I think you just figured it out.
Jim Keeney: [00:40:26] there’s that interesting balance though, for a company like Coca-Cola the problem is they have too many different types of customers but for most, uh, most companies, most startups, especially the customers are pretty well-defined. They just need to connect to them and understand them.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:40:43] Yeah. And I can give you a great example of that, before Airbnb came along. Sleeping at a stranger’s house and paying them for it existed. Like it wasn’t a new concept, VRBO and HomeAway existed long before Airbnb started. So what allowed Airbnb to scale that weird, bizarre practice to the general public and in simplistic words, story and design.
Where did they talk to the first hundred customers in New York city? They literally took photos of their apartments for them. They had lunch dinners with all of them. They’ve met hosts from around the world and they understood insights that most people didn’t the biggest one being designed for trust. If you can design for trust at scale through software, you’re going to be able to reach millions of people.
Because if I trust the other side of the transaction, I’m going to be comfortable sleeping at their house. So that’s the key and that’s what under. Airbnb understood by obsessing over their customer and why they’ve had such a successful IPO last week, but that’s the point I’m driving is we all need to start doing that in our oral lives, do things that don’t scale as Paul Graham puts it so well. And if you do that, I think you’ll be very successful.
Jim Keeney: [00:41:48] What’s fascinating about that as a software developer, Airbnb just released their visual design component library for react. they realized that, Hey, we’re doing this all online and they took it down to the level of, we need to have a reliable set of components that can be used over and over again in a consistent fashion throughout all of our presentations.
And they built an entire library around that. so yeah, consistency is one of the foundations of trust, right?
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:42:20] So I am curious. So as we talk about a lot on this podcast, and we just talked about, we focus on the audience quite a bit and obsess about it. have you had a recent aha moment about your customers in particular, especially with all of those conversations? Is there anything that’s surprised you over the last year?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:42:36] Yeah, a lot, kids are a lot smarter than I gave them credit for. When I started the speaking program for the kids specifically, a lot of the videos I came up with in the last year actually came from them. So one example is I was coaching this 12 year old who started speaking like a world champion, literally three weeks in.
And even I was surprised, like I didn’t do this. So I asked him I said how, how did you get so good, so quickly? And he’s Oh, I used highlights. So what do you mean by that? It’s yeah, I took my script and then I highlighted the words where I wanted to pause. I underlined the words where I wanted to use local vocal projection.
I, and then I just did something like, he just had a full legend and I just went, Whoa, that’s really smart. Why didn’t I think of that? I was like, how was this kid 12. It makes no sense another, another one is, my most successful client and I was proud to say six years old. and She started the program and I just asked her simple questions, what do you want to present?
She’s Oh, I don’t know, look school. And she was amazed. She had a professional mic and everything. I was like, damn, she’s a superstar. So there’s a lot more insights that you can get for kids that I think a lot of people are missing. I think Gary talks about that a lot.
That’s why he was very early on Tik Tok. he just listens to what kids, what the younger generation are saying. He just follows the customer. And if you stay like that, you’ll always win.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:43:53] and so I know you shared a ton of resources actually on this podcast. So thank you. But is there an additional win or resource you want to share with our audience today?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:44:02] Yeah, of course the one book I’d recommend people check out is a book called thirst by Scott Harrison. That’s very heavily underlooked, very underestimated. Scott Harris is the CEO of charity water. I think the marketing campaigns, the messaging, the branding, everything is spot on 11 out of 10. And I think what we can learn as for-profit entities is how we work with a very limited budget and bring a massive transformation organizations from a messaging perspective. And I think Scott is the golden standard and then in the nonprofit sector, because if he can do it, why can’t you, if you have more budget than he does. So I highly recommend people check out thirst and check out charity waters and organizations as well.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:44:42] And that’s the organization that you support, correct?
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:44:44] That’s correct. Yeah.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:44:45] That’s awesome. and how can people learn more about you.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:44:49] Absolutely. Very simple. All you have to do is go on YouTube and type mastertalk in one word and you’ll find me.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:44:56] that’s great. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation today. This has been great. Brendan. Thank you for coming on.
Brendan Kumarasamy: [00:45:02] my pleasure.
Jim Keeney: [00:45:03] Yeah. It was a little different from our typical conversations, but in a good way, I think, ‘cause what we’re trying to do with the podcast is get inside the mental and cultural process of digital marketing. because what we’re finding is it’s still very much a nascent industry.
People, it seems like, it’s been around. at least to me, it seems like it’s been around forever. but in actuality, it’s fairly. new and young. And so we are dealing with a span of different people all the way from, “Hey, my CEO doesn’t even get digital marketing, doesn’t believe in it.” all the way to “I’m in the middle of digital marketing. I have no idea what I’m doing.” and so in the middle of all that though, the theme that keeps coming up is how do I communicate more effectively, both within the organization and with my customers. It just, every single guest that we’ve had, has, spoken around that.
Katherine Watier Ong: [00:46:00] Yeah, so this is perfect. This is the tactical skill space that I think a lot of digital marketers could learn from. For sure.