Man Overboard

To all the men out there on #internationalmensday…

I originally wanted to title this piece “The End of Breaking the Stigma” but figured that was a bit too much click-bait, even for me. Obviously it’s not the end of Breaking the Stigma, but I’m going to talk about the talk has changed and specifically about the final three points I leave with people nowadays.

Just another year…

Just over a year ago I gave the first Breaking the Stigma talk following the surprising success of the similarly titled blog post on LinkedIn and then re-post here.

A lot has happened in a year.

Maybe even too much if I’m honest with myself.

But still, it’s happened. I’m absolutely amazed by the response my talk, my blog posts and my upcoming book has received. When I started all this, I didn’t expect much more than some polite gestures and donations for a charity stream for an over-hyped and ultimately rather shitty expansion for World of Warcraft.

I was very wrong.

A trend in my life it seems.

Breaking the Stigma started as a talk about how the seemingly successful story of a man can unravel in a heartbeat. It was a traditional “heroic journey” arc. Rise, Fall and Rebirth. Sadly, it’s not very heroic. The monsters I faced were all my own, the battle I waged were ones with myself, the loss I suffered was only significant because I made it that way, the rebirth and realisations were selfish.

I’ve learned a lot since I first stood in front of an audience and told my story.

Humour me for a minute…

Breaking the Stigma is meme. It’s full of memes for a start. It is also a meme of what professional presentations try to achieve. I have spent days, if not weeks, crafting what I thought were perfect PowerPoint presentations only for them to fall flat. I spent a grand total of an hour pulling together the memes for Breaking the Stigma and it is hands down the best presentation I have ever written or given.

I have recently added a lot more humour into Breaking the Stigma. Not that humour is important, but that what I want to do is build a genuine rapport with the audience.

There are jokes specific to the audience of professionals helping listening to see that I am actually one of them; despite no longer wearing my pinstripe suit and sharp red tie.

There are the traditional ‘dad jokes’ to show that I am ‘just another guy’ and that I am no different to anyone who attends.

There are now borrowed jokes from media that has inspired me over the years. I won’t spoil them, but I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.

Finally, there is the pay off. This took me a long time to figure out. These jokes are ones that slowly build through the journey. You start subtle. It’s part of list, it’s not important. You refer back to it later in another context and it’s part of a different joke. You tell the rest of the story. You go to hell and back. Then comes the pay off. A joke that started almost 30 minutes ago finally has it’s punchline delivered and hopefully, just hopefully, lands as planned.

The latest versions of Breaking the Stigma are the best versions I’ve told. Just as I have gone through my own journey over the past year, so has Breaking the Stigma.

I hope that it continues to evolve as I keep getting invited to speak.

The rule of three…

I am not one to shy away from honesty. I am also not one to shy away from my past. I understand sales, marketing, negotiation and communication and I use all these throughout Breaking the Stigma.

I thought I’d add another tool into the presentation to make it more poignant and more memorable.

We are busy after all.

Breaking the Stigma has two central messages:

  1. Accept yourself and others for who they truly are. Never be afraid to be yourself because no one else can be a better you than you are!
  2. Find your happiness in the present. The past has happened, the future is uncertain and sadly, your dreams may never come to pass. The Net Present Value of Happiness with Time is very real and the value of happiness now far outweighs happiness in the future.

But I need three points to apply the rule of three. Two core messages are good, but three is stickier, more memorable. It can’t overshadow the core messages but also needs to be just as important.

It was simple.

I’ve been saying it all along.

I’ve been saying it at the end of Breaking the Stigma.

It’s the last words in Life is a Four-Letter Word.

It’s the one thing that if everyone followed probably around 90% of all catastrophes would have been avoided and then remaining 10% would be unavoidable natural disasters.

So take this one with you.

Live by it.

Die by it.

3. Don’t be a dick!

Andy Salkeld

just another guy