I sat at the table with two other people. I met them nearly a year earlier over a zoom screen in what would dramatically alter my life. We spoke, chatted, and interacted through zoom, whatsapp, or twitter up until this point.
But here we were. In person. Steps from the beach in Santa Monica.
Just 3 guys turning virtual friendships into real life bonds. Conversations flowed like you would expect. We talked about how great it was meeting in person. We talked about that experience a year earlier that connected us all. We talked about the normal and safe ideas.
Then one of them cut through the noise.
“Enough with all this bullshit, I want to know what really drives you.”
That sent me on a 24 hour deep dive into who I am, what I care about, and ultimately my view on the world.
You see, I’ve always been obsessed with studying history and those figures who have achieved what I call greatness. Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, MLK, and so many other people come to mind.
But other less normal names come to mind too. Arnold Schwarzenneger, Anthony Bourdain, and Conor McGregor. Love them or hate them, they’ve built legacies and legends.
In studying these people I started to see patterns. They have what I call delusional confidence.
That thing that leads them to believe nothing can stop them. Even in failure it’s not because it won’t happen, but just because it hasn’t happened yet. Nobody would have believed a boy from Austria would end up as one of Hollywood’s biggest stars and the governor of California. Nobody would have believed a broke guy living at home in Ireland would become one of the world’s richest athletes and biggest media personalities.
Except for them. Go and watch Pumping Iron. Arnold always believed.
Go and watch Notorious. Conor always believed.
Why else would they have been filming in these very early days? Exposing their failures, struggles, and weakest moments.
It’s because they had delusional confidence.
Founders have this too. They see the biggest dream future possible. They sell it to investors as a no brainer. 1000 no’s just means time hasn’t caught up yet.
And so over the past 24 hours as I pondered this question I did what I always do. I went down the rabbit hole.
When I heard that question it was like one of those scenes in a movie. My mind immediately shifted and zoomed in and out. I saw flashes of Conor in press conferences, the way he walks, and the moment when he won his first title with his wife running into the ring to embrace him as they both felt the triumph.
Even writing this right now, I know people will call me crazy. Laugh at the ambition. Say there’s no way I can pull it off.
I say this because this idea comes up time and time again from these great individuals. Genghis Khan had everything taken from him and was seen as a non-threat until it was too late.
Conor McGregor even talks about this idea. He talks about all the people who laughed at him. He talks about all the doubters. He used it to fuel him. To create the chip on his shoulder.
It reminds me of a story about Michael Jordan. I won’t dive into it too deeply but he would create artificial slights from people to put a chip on his shoulder. He goes into one of them during The Last Dance and it’s worth watching.
So as I thought about the question, I started to share my thoughts.
I want to be the absolute best. When people think of speaking, they think of me. When people think of strategic communication, they think of me. When people think of storytelling, they think of me.
It’s why I’m building Performative Speaking into the clear successor to Toastmasters. Toastmasters is for the older generations. The old office culture. But that time is over.
What we need is a new version that’s elevated and advanced for the millennial and gen z generations. That’s what I’m building.
Tony Robbins has led the way in the public speaking and personal development world for a very long time. There’s a reason why. He’s great. But the time is coming for new leaders in that space.
That’s where I’m going.
It means massive impact.
I don’t care if there’s laughter or doubt. I love the line from McGregor…
“The sound of laughter and the sound of doubt motivates me. I enjoy that. I seek that.”
So where did that leave me at the table in Santa Monica?
I turned to them and started it off simply…
“I want to be the best and build a 100 million dollar company”
As I look back on it now, I think I undersold myself.
Bring on the doubters.