It’s not about you: It’s about the audience


When we have done what we could to get a speaker to give a TEDx talk and they are still nervous and sometimes even have the thought of pulling out, we often encourage them by saying:

“This talk is not about you, it is about the millions of lives it will impact and change for the better. If you don’t give this talk, you are depriving millions of people, kids, sick people, the answer that will lead to a better life. Given the amount of hours you have put into getting yourself ready for this talk, you are the perfect person to give this talk.”

When we are nervous before talking to a group, the anxiety we feel makes the speech, the pitch, and the presentation about us.

It is not about us, it is about the content, the message, the reason everyone is there to listen.

It is for other people, delegates, learners, team, mentee to learn something through you.

It is for other people to grow, to heal, to regain strength, to realise and to re-imagine.

You are the vessel carrying the message, a perfect messenger to deliver the message.

Do your best, for them.

It’s not about you: Obsess about your customers


The gospel of entrepreneurship has been preached as this lone ranger, superhero journey, it has been made out to be about the one individual.

It is not about the entrepreneur, not about the individual, but more about the customer.

The hero of the show is not the entrepreneur, the hero of the show is the customer.

Once you look at it this way, you stop making it about you [an entrepreneur], you stop obssessing about what if they reject me, because you know it is not about you, it is about what they want.

Start that business because it is important to solve thousands of your customer’s problems.

Start it because you are doing it for them.

It matters because it is for them.

It is their solution, and your business is in the best position to offer that solution.

Obsess about your customers more than you do about you.

Move from narcissitic inward looking, to be empathic and outward focused.

You will know a lot more about your customers if you are outward focused on them.

You don’t control your brand anymore, your customers do.

Your job, your business’s job, is to serve your customers.

Start with your customers and work backwards.

It’s not about you: It’s about them



“What do you mean it is not about me?”

This is the response we feel when we hear this truth.

“It’s not about me?”

In a me, me, me, myself and I, I-want-it-now culture, we are so often focused on ourselves.

It’s not all about you.

This information, when understood correctly, is very calming.

We all have a purpose, a reason we are here on planet Earth, and that is what it is about.

More about our purpose, than about us.

We are not here to be endlessly interested in our superficial selves and obsess over what we want, what we have and what other people think of us.

A Course in Miracles says it beautifully:

“Everyone is special and no one is special.”

Every individual on the planet has something specific and unique to offer, and this truth negates the ego’s elevation of other people [and ourselves].

We are all from the same source and we all the capacity to bring light and brilliance into the world.

What is more more important is what we add to benefit of humanity.

That business you are starting, it is about customers who’s problems you are solving.

That book you are writing, it is about the people who will implement and spread the ideas in your book.

That tutorial classes are starting, it is about the young leaners you are hoping to empower.

It is about humanity.

You are a remarkable conduit with which your talent flows through you for the benefit of humanity.

It is more about humanity than it is about you.



Opening acts and rock stars


The opening act has the toughest job in town.

The audience is not here to listen to you.

They are restless.

Perhaps you will get a few seconds to earn their attention, but not much.

Your gimmicks will fall flat and you might even get booed off stage.

The rock star, on the other hand, has the crowd chanting for him before he shows up.

He starts a song and people applaud. They sing along. They finish his lyrics for him.

Most entrepreneurs are opening acts.

The ad or blog post or tweet is a desperate attempt at attention, at keeping people from switching it off or booing.

The posture of the entrepreneur who is an opening act is unstable and a little sad.

Some entrepreneur are rock stars.

Luvuyo Rani, co-founder of Silulo Ulutho Technologies, was narrating at a recent entrepreneurship event, how when we was an opening act entrepreneur he almost got his car repossessed, but now that he is a rock star entrepreneur, he gets invited to travel to different places to share his story.

How do you move from being an opening act to a rock star?

How would that happen?

I would argue that the two keys to becoming a rock star entrepreneur are:

  1. Settle for a tiny audience that views you as a star, not an opening act. Then grow that audience [Luvuyo started selling computers to a small community where he comes from, selling them from the boot of his car, now he has over 40 internet cafes spread over 3 provinces, and employs over 100 people];
  2. Be really good at what you do [he perfect his value proposition]; and
  3. Be patient. It doesn’t happen overnight, actually overnight success takes about 10 years to happen, so pace yourself, you are going to be doing this for a long time. [It took Luvuyo and his partners almost 15 years to grow the business from the boot of his almost repossessed car to over 40 stores]

PS: By rockstar entrepreneur [in this context], I don’t mean a celebrity, media hungry, we-want-to-take-a-selfie-with-you kinda entrepreneur, I mean a seasoned and sober entrepreneur.

Once upon a time…


Few years ago, I was on a queue to buy a plane ticket.

The woman in front of me was talking to the ticket agent, this was when you only could buy your ticket by physically going to the ticket counter, not online like we do today.

She says to the ticket agent: “I’m flying to Cape Town, can I have a first class ticket please.”

The ticket agent responds: “That’s great, unfortunately, the plane is not that big and so there is no first class.”

The women then freaks out: “I have go clusterphobia, and acrophobia and I paid extra and I need to be first class and I’m never going to be able to get on this plane.”

So she throws a whole big tantrum.

Usually what happens in an industrialised service centre like this is that ticket agent will roll her eyes and tells you about the rules and ignores your tantrum.

Instead the tickets agents turns around and says to the woman:

“Oh no no no, I’m so sorry Ma’am, the entire flight is first class, you will be fine.”

Problem solved.

The thing is, nothing about the plane changed, what changed was the story of the plane, what changed is that the woman felt like she was heard.

Sometimes what matters is not changing the product, but changing the story about the product.

When RCA introduced radio as this new cool piece of technology, talk about a game-changer…. Nobody buys it.

People saw this thing as a big box taking up space in their living room and they didn’t want it.

As a result, radio was a big flop when it was first introduced.

When David Stainhoff of RCA took over, he changed the story around radio from this big box in your living room, to a form of a cool device that brings live entertainment and sporting events right in your living room.

Instead of missing out on a great boxing match because the tickets are too expensive or the match is sold out, you are able to enjoy the boxing match live in the comfort of your living room.

Framed this way, radio becomes this run-away success.

People buy stories more that they but facts and figures about a product.

The story around the product is equally as important as the product.

Merge the story around the product.

Merge emotion and logic.

Don’t give them 4, give them 2+2.

Tell the story around the product.