The Simple Secret to Powerful Communication

I was five days from my six big presentations at an international conference. Kathy walked into my home office looking exasperated, “Do you know what you are going to talk about?”

I returned her look.

“I have no idea,” I said.

I decided to go for a long walk to clear my head. I picked up the phone, put in my earbuds, and took off.

My first thought was to simply listen to music. Then I had a better idea, Maybe there is a good podcast which will give me some ideas. I looked at my subscription list and saw that Tim Ferris had interviewed Charles Koch of Koch Industries.

This looks really interesting, I thought. I know nothing about the Koch brothers except they are big money behind the Republicans. And Tim Ferris and his audience are not Republicans. This should be fun.

That interview gave me everything I needed

Early in the interview, Charles Koch simply started telling his story. He talked about his dad and the founding of the initial company. He also described how his dad instilled in him a great work ethic.

Charles’s transparency grabbed me.

He talked a lot about himself, but I could feel his humility. Here was a graduate of MIT who spoke candidly about his strengths and weaknesses. He also spoke about his personal philosophy—where it came from and how he applies it to all the businesses they own and operate. It was so clear. It was brilliant.

Charles talked about his study of the research and writing of Abraham Maslow. This behavioral psychologist is best known for publishing his research in a triangle diagram called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s research focused on discovering our motivation. But what interested Charles Koch was Maslow’s conclusions which came 20 years after the Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow concluded: “What you can be, you must be.”

When I heard this, everything clicked for me. That was the theme for my six talks. It’s simple and memorable.

More importantly, it is what I believe.

I would be speaking at the Uganda Youth Ablaze conference on how to leave poverty by becoming a kingdom-minded entrepreneur. Leave poverty by starting a micro-business to generate income. Leave poverty by becoming the man or woman God created you to be and by reaching your God-given potential.

Here is the secret I discovered.

Charles Koch simply told his story.

He didn’t preach.

He didn’t give us the seven steps to success.

He didn’t have any secrets.

He just told Tim what happened to him in his life. The opportunities which came his way. The reading which influenced his life. The decisions he made. The values he practices. The reason he is in business. The result of this story, his story, is he became one of the richest and most influential men in the world.

Before I walked back in the door from my walk, I knew what I was going to talk about. The focus of my six talks would be “Achieving Your God-Given Potential.” I would share my life and what I have learned along the way in achieving my God-given potential.

He told his story. I would tell mine.