Are you Extraordinary?


Extraordinary SpeakersI believe what makes us extraordinary, in whatever field we work in, is not the accolades, awards or achievements, but the character, the personality and the way we have coped with adversity in our unique ways.

It’s to this end that a colleague and I have set up a new iTunes radio show called ‘Extraordinary Speakers’.

It’s hosted by me and BBC tv and radio journalist Jeremy Nicholas with a different guest in each show.

It’s full of tips and advice from professional speakers to professional speakers but the anecdotes, stories and tips are relevant for anyone working in a entrepreneurial or expert based business.

I think the show is unique in this field due to its style of a group of speakers late at night in a hotel during a conference swapping stories of gigs around the world.

It’s full of funny, heartwarming and inspirational stories as well as the downright disasters. This is a warts and all look at the world of the speaker. You’ll learn lots and you’ll laugh even more.

One of the questions we posed in the first show was about firsts: What was the first album you bought with your own money?

I put it to you that the one you answer with is not the one you usually say. You usually bend the truth and give a better answer to make you look cool.

So it turns out there are two answers to the question: the one you say, and the real, probably embarrassing one.

It’s true when we ask each other, “how’s business?”. There’s the public relations answer and then there’s the truth.

kwackers

This is our metaphor for the show. We want our guests to give us their real truth to our questions, not the usual self promotional answers which although may make the speaker appear ‘cool’ or successful, it doesn’t help the rest of us, or make for a good show.

We believe that it’s these answers that actually make us extraordinary, not the press release answers, not the one sheet descriptions, not the website copy, but the idiosyncrasies, the failures that led to the major rethinks, the real personality behind the Fonzy-like photo on the business card.

And that’s why I’m telling you that my first LP, spent with my own £2.50 (it was a double album) was well spent in 1976 on the Animal Kwackers.

What about you?

To listen to the show on iTunes click here. If you enjoy it, please do give us a rating.

Ayd Instone works with people to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation in their lives, and their business.

Book Ayd to run an Innovation Ideastorm Masterclass in your organisation.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com

The story of ‘What if?’


PSA NSA Professional Speaking Association convention stage

My stage. That massive screen dwarfs the guitars!

Last Friday I opened the 12th Annual Convention of the Professional Speaking Association in London. I’d planned to do something different there for some time. I’d already worked out that my talk was to be called ‘The Power of ‘What If?’. But I’d had this idea to write a song called ‘What If?’ and not only to perform it live on stage with my guitar but to record a full band backing track and have a video synced too. I knew that the venue had the largest projection screen in London so it would be a shame not to take advantage of that.

But time passed and the date of the convention grew closer. I was also involved in support for other aspects of the event and almost forgot that I’d have to get a move on to be able to work out my own quite complex idea.

Two weeks before I discovered that my normal stage suit was unusable. It had just worn out. There was a particular outfit I’d always wanted so decided now was the time to get it. I spoke to a tailor in America who had Paul McCartney’s original 1965 Beatle suit that was worn at Shea Stadium, the Beatles most famous and biggest gig, and the world’s first stadium rock show and he made me a facsimile suit, stitch by stitch perfect.

It was now a week before the gig and I still hadn’t written the song. Maybe it was too big a task? To come up with a new song that was good enough to open a show, record it, learn it AND do a video in just a few days?

I wrote the song in an evening, or at least the tune and a few words (the two words were ‘What if?’, so no great lyrical creative leap that day). I spent the next day splurging out dozens and dozens of phrases and words and selected the best to form the lyrics. I only needed 90 seconds worth, but it still wasn’t easy.

Then I started working out how to record it. I didn’t have time to get my drummer in, I’d have to do it myself, and I’m not that great a drummer. Even to keep a constant time over 90 seconds would be tough. I pulled it off by recording a few batched of 8 bars and then duplicating them to create the drum track. The next day I overlaid the main acoustic guitar, then the complex bass line (I’m quite proud of that), then two tracks of 12 sting Rickenbacker, one track of lead guitar with a wah-wah pedal and one without. Then I laid down the main vocal and two extra vocals creating a three-part harmony. All the tracks were first or second take – I knew I didn’t have time for perfection.

I then mixed the recording to create the backing track. I turned off the main vocal and the lead guitar as I’d be playing these live. Then I had to figure out the video…

I wanted the video to feature the same outfit as the one I’d be wearing on stage. The only problem was that the new suit was being held in customs. It arrived on Wednesday (the conference was on Friday, and I’d be setting off to it on Thursday). As soon as the suit arrived I filmed various segments of me playing the various instruments and synchronised it to the music, putting footage of the Earth from space in between. By late Wednesday night, it was done.

All in all it was about 30 hours of work that went into 90 seconds of performance that opened the convention.*

You can see the finished video here (this version has the main vocal turned back on).

It seemed to go down well at the event, but of more importance to me was that it served as a reminder of what can be done when you put your mind and your passion into achieving the ideal outcome for something. To my mind, I’d achieved the impossible. And although the audience would have never seen or guessed the effort that went into it, I feel it was worth it.

So my question to you is this: what idea outcome could YOU actually pull of if you put your mind and your passion to the test? What if…

The lyrics are:

What if you were brave?
What if you took flight?
What if after trying hard you got it right?

What if you had time?
What if you had cash?
What if you could find that inspiring lightning flash?

And see, realise
As your dreams came back to life before you eyes
What would we see, what would we find?
With opportunity laid out before your mind?

What if you had hope?
What if you were great?
What if you find a way to escape your certain fate?

What if you had skill?
What if you went wild?
What if you still had the imagination of a child?

(* I was pleased to have the ‘subtle’ Beatle reference in my act as it was 50 years to the day that the Beatles’ first record, Love Me Do, was released.)

Ayd works with people and businesses to explore and unlock their creative ideas in ways they may never have thought possible, to inspire innovation.

Book Ayd to speak about the Power of ‘What If?’ and Inspiration for Innovation at your conference, or in your business. A great way to open your event or as an after lunch energiser.

For more interesting info see: www.aydinstone.com

How to Be Unique


I gave a talk at the Global Speakers Summit in Noordwijk in the Netherlands in April entitled, ‘Unique’. It was essentially about finding out who you are by looking at what you’ve always done. Below is 12 minute edited version. I discussed my realisation that what I do now with my work is exactly what I was doing when I was last given the choice, when I was aged 7 to 15. To find out what and how, you’ll have to watch the film.

Book Ayd to speak at your event.
For more interesting info see:

www.aydinstone.com

Where it’s @


Ayd Instone PSA award

It says "For his outstanding contributions to the PSA"

There’s one thing I hate about the annual Professional Speakers Association Convention: lunchtime on Sunday.

We’d all been locked in the hotel together, around 100 professional speakers, since Friday morning, having seen nine speakers present from the main stage, attended 6 workshops, had two dinners, lunches and breakfasts, three hour panel session, lots of networking coffee breaks, a multitude of catch up chats, numerous laughs and far too many late night/early hours of the morning ridiculously silly joint ventures planned. So for it all to come to what seems like an abrupt end come Sunday lunchtime is a jolt to the system.

The cure for that deflated feeling is what I’ve been doing now. Getting out my notes and once again getting excited about what I’ve seen, heard and learnt and most importantly what I’m going to do differently to benefit my own business. The main part of my review of being at such an event is to look at who I’m now going to contact and connect with, to thank them, to further some conversations and to discuss ideas with.

Is it a bit flippant to say it was the best PSA Convention I’ve been to? (I’ve been to the last 6). Objectively I think perhaps it was as the best. All the speakers were powerfully enlightening, entertaining and at the top of their game. Subjectively it certainly was, and I’m not just saying that because they gave me an award.

It was the first time I was actually embarrassed going on stage since I was awarded my 2 metres swimming certificate and sew-on patch for my trunks… aged 14 (my primary school had lost it, then later found it and forwarded it on to my subsequent school.) So on Saturday night after the awards were given out for speaker excellence to the great and the good I would have kindly refused had it not been such a nice piece of etched glass with the words ‘The presidents award for outstanding contribution’ on it. My thanks to Peter Roper and the board. Better than a badge with a fish on it. But I won’t sew it onto my trucks, might cause me to sink.

And anyway, it’s not about me, it’s ‘all about you’ as new PSA president @grahamjones has put it. Every year the PSA has a ‘theme’ to focus the mind for the year ahead and to have something different to put on the marketing materials. The new theme for the year is @. Can you see what he’s done there? It means it’s all about connections, because it is. Whether that’s online connections using technology or just by keeping in touch over the phone or having meetings. It’s about external and internal connections, just like how our brains work by neurons connecting together to fire new combinations of ideas.

Having a new theme doesn’t mean the old ones don’t still apply, and their have been some good ones, which apply to whatever business you’re in, whether you’re a ‘speaker’ or not. We should all be there to ‘enlighten and entertain’, we should still have ‘astronomical aspirations’ and we should all be embracing the ‘Spirit’ of creating a sharing community.

This new theme is no different. It should apply to us all. We all need to enhance the connections we make. But I’d like to squeeze a few bonus meanings out of Graham’s ‘@’ theme. As well as being the symbol for email and twitter, meaning ‘at’, it’s also shorthand for ‘and’. I’m taking that as an extra cue for the year: AND: what else can I do to be better? AND: what else can I do to connect with more people, AND: what else can I do to help?

#psa11

The PSA @ logo for #psa11

AND there’s a third significance for the symbol ‘@’. It’s a mnemonic, which is a device used to simplify a complex process. For example computer ‘machine code’ is actually an endless stream of binary 0s and 1s, but few people can program a computer and get it to do anything useful using binary. It would just be too complicated and take too long. So binary processes are group together and simplified by being given a mnemonic, a name that we can understand and relate to that represents the complex process.

This year, whenever you see the @ symbol, let’s all realise that WE are mnemonics with our businesses. We are all here to make complex processes easier to understand so that our clients, customers, audiences or whoever we serve, can take action, make changes and improve their lives in some way. WE are the connectors. We ARE the @.

AND that’s where it’s @.

For more see:
www.aydinstone.com
www.sunmakers.co.uk

The Spirit of PSA


Here is the video with the title sequence and brand I created for the Professional Speakers Association Conference this year (1st-3rd October 2010). Yes, that’s my band playing the music.

For those that were there and saw this as it opened the convention – there are a few treats added in the middle.

For more see:
www.aydinstone.com
www.sunmakers.co.uk