A highly-sought after speaker, trainer and coach known as “Jim Carrey with a Ph.D.,” Dr. Danny Brassell has spoken to over 3,500 audiences worldwide and authored 16 books, including his latest, Leadership Begins with Motivation.
He helps entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners boost their business and impact by improving their communication skills.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- How communication skills affects one’s business
- Why reading is so important
- How Danny helps people improve their speaking skills
- Ways to improve communication skills
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for High Velocity Radio.
Stone Payton: Welcome to the High Velocity Radio show, where we celebrate top performers producing better results in less time. Stone Payton here with you this afternoon. Please join me in welcoming to the broadcast with Danny Brassell DOT COM, the man himself, Danny Brassell. How are you, man?
Danny Brassell: Fantastic, Stone. Thanks so much for having me. More importantly, thanks for spreading some joy in the world. We need a lot more of you.
Stone Payton: Well, I am delighted to have you on the show. I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation. Got a ton of questions. Surely won’t get to them all. But I think maybe a great place to start would be mission purpose. What are you out there trying to do for folks, man?
Danny Brassell: Well, really, thank you for that, Stone. I appreciate it. I’ve been. I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. But really, my passion is helping people communicate better. I do that. There’s four aspects of language development. They are speaking, listening, reading and writing. And so today, I guess for your listeners will focus on on reading and speaking. So I’m on a mission to bring joy back into education in the workplace by showing people better ways to communicate. And so I’m looking forward to all you had to offer today.
Stone Payton: Stone Well, I have to believe that the work you’re doing, the things that you focus on, must impact so many different aspects of a business. Speak to that a little bit, if you would.
Danny Brassell: That’s great. Stone So I’ve been working a lot with entrepreneurs and small business owners craft their messages because I really believe that if you can speak, you can really change the world. And so I help people create engaging presentations. So many of these presentations I see people talk about, they’re just depressing. Stone And it bothers me. I think people need some hope in the world. And so and I’m not putting down a lot of these tragic speakers, but I remind a lot of people that criers are not buyers. Mo Funny mo money.
Stone Payton: So I suspect that it may be myths is a little bit too strong of a word, but but I suspect there are some misconceptions, some assumptions, some things about this whole area of communicating effectively and particularly speaking, that are just off the mark. Is that accurate?
Danny Brassell: Yeah, absolutely. I really think that speaking is the best way to really improve your business. And if you can master a basic format that I work with my clients on, on how to create engaging presentations, you can really have a much stronger impact. It doesn’t take that much. I mean, one of the quick tips for everybody listening is I see a lot of people that like to brag in their speeches and there’s nothing you know, I’m not going to put down pointing out how extraordinary you are. But I think the more ordinary you show people, the more you’re going to have an impact. That’s the quickest tip I give people is stop telling people what makes you so dang special and what you’re posting on social media. I think everybody in your audience is not succeeded, but they’ve all failed. And the more vulnerable you make yourself and share your failures, the better impact you’re going to have.
Stone Payton: Well, I got to tell you, that’s very consistent with my experience as a participant. When I attend a keynote or even as a host when I’m hosting a show, I feel like the connection is so much more valuable than someone just impressing me or trying to impress me with their with their background. So that really certainly rings true for me as a participant and as a host. I got to know me in the back story. How in the world did you find yourself in this line of work?
Danny Brassell: Well, I never wanted to, Coach Stone. I’ve always because I have very high standards for people and it drives me nuts when people won’t do the work. And it was really the pandemic that kind of forced me into coaching people since I lost all my speaking engagements overnight. Global pandemic will do that sort of thing. But I turned out I actually love working with people now on improving their messages. I’ve worked with all kinds of people, from astronauts to Olympic gold medalists, but the people that bring me the most joy are ordinary entrepreneurs and business owners that are looking for ways to really improve their business. And I think that’s the one measure I hold for people. I mean, yes, when they work with me, a lot of them are going to get standing ovations. Yes. If you work with me, you know, people are probably going to come up afterwards and tell you you’re a great speaker. But the only measure I have of the speakers I work with is are people asking you to do further business with you, whether it be the product that you’re trying to sell or if you’re pitching that big pitch at a corporate meeting for for a $10 Million. Engagement. Are you getting that next gig? And so that’s that’s how I define success. Are people taking the next step with you?
Stone Payton: So now that you’ve been at this coaching for a while, what what are you finding the most rewarding man? What’s the most fun for you about it?
Danny Brassell: I like taking people’s depressing country Western song stories and making them a little bit more fun and engaging. Again, everybody has had tragedy and I’m not I’m not putting it down. Stone. I don’t want people to misunderstand me, but I just judged a speaking competition the other day and we literally had hundreds actually, it was 1300 speakers and there wasn’t a single funny one in the bunch. I was like, My goodness, I’m about to jump off a cliff after listening to these speeches. And I just love to show people some simple way. And I’m not talking about adding jokes. Any people think that to be funny means telling jokes. I said No, people are funny inherently. Just in your mannerisms, I’ll give you a tip. I had two different speakers. One guy had he came out of prison and so he had this depressing speech about being in prison. And so all I did with his presentation, I said, Well, did you ever speak when you were in prison? He said, Yes. I’m like, okay, well, there’s your line. You can just say, I spoke. I began my speaking career in prison. I had a captive audience. It’s a simple line and it makes people smile. I had another gentleman I was working with and I don’t remember his name. It was a very long, complicated Indian name. And so I said, Oh, well, that’s how you can start your presentation. Say, Hi, my name is Emil Maharishi. Gee, I sure hope I pronounce that correctly. And just. Just doing something like that.
Danny Brassell: I’ll make everybody like you. I mean, here’s a ninja trip for tip for everybody. Listening right now is one of the things I do is I craft introductions. If somebody’s introducing me, I make my introduction that they’re going to introduce me with make me sound like Jesus Christ, because that’s them introducing me. And then when I get up on stage, I can immediately start by saying, Yeah, Jesus Christ, forgot to wear his dress socks today, I ain’t all that. And so somebody else bragged about me, and now I’m making myself vulnerable and ordinary to people in the audience so that they’re going to connect with me. I mean, you don’t have much time to connect with your audience. And I think I hear all these people like to talk about the most tragic moment of their life. And I’m like, Would you start a first date that way? Would you just say hi? Hi, It’s really nice to meet you. Did I did I tell you that I just got out of prison or. Oh, I was great to meet you. Let me tell you about how Daddy used to touch me as a kid. You don’t say that in the first 5 minutes when you’re. I mean, I’m not saying it’s not important, but you don’t introduce yourself that way. And yet I see people do this all the time when they’re speaking. And so I’m like, let’s lighten up a little bit and get people to like us by connecting with a little bit of humor and engagement.
Stone Payton: Well, what I’m hearing in this conversation is that there really are they are skills. They can be taught. They can be learned that there are repeatable processes, transferable tools, that we can all practice and exercise those muscles. Yeah.
Danny Brassell: Absolutely. So here’s a tip for your for your audience. Stone Sit down tonight with a glass of whatever libation you like and a pen and paper. I want you to write down every story that’s ever happened to you. And I don’t mean write down the entire story. I mean write down some triggers. So, like the time I locked myself out of my car when I was at Costco, the time Dad spilled mustard on his tie at that fancy restaurant. The time I peed my pants in second grade, you’ll come up with a list of 4 to 500 stories of personal things that have happened to you. And then what you do is you say to yourself, Oh, this is actually a story about loyalty. Oh, this is actually a story about responsibility. Oh, this is actually a story about overcoming obstacles. And what you do is you put all of those stories in folders on your computer and now you have plug and play stories that whatever the speech is that you’re required to give. Oh, I have a story about that. And I add to these folders all the time. For example, one of the best selling personal development books of all time is Thinking Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. He doesn’t have any personal stories in that book. All of his stories are about famous, wealthy people that I interviewed. And so every day when I’m reading a newspaper or watching a game on TV or something, if I see a good story, I’m like, Oh, that’s a good story. I’m going to file that away in the accountability file or I’m going to file, Oh, that’s a beautiful one about how to appreciate our blessings. So I’m going to put that in my gratitude file. And this is just a simple way to really build up your repertoire of stories that you can offer people because human beings connect through stories That’s cross-cultural and it’s across time.
Stone Payton: So have you had the benefit of one or more mentors as you came up through the speaking world and now as you sort of made this this pivot, this transition to the coaching world that kind of helped you navigate this terrain?
Danny Brassell: Yeah, of course I have. Stone I appreciate that question. Yeah, I’ve had all kinds of wonderful mentors, but this is one of the best tools that everybody can use. There’s this government program. They got these buildings in almost every single community, and in these buildings are rows and rows of books. And get this, you can apply for a card and they’ll let you take these books home for free. They’re called public libraries. And I’ve been mentored by people from Abraham Lincoln to Nelson Mandela. So one of the tips I give people all the time is, you know, there’s plenty of readers that don’t necessarily become effective leaders. But I have never read about an effective leader in history that was not also an avid reader. I’m I’m reading all the time. I mean, when I read that Teddy Roosevelt, he read over 20,000 books by the time he was 30 years old. So I used to be a classroom teacher. And I would tell my kindergartners, I’m like, So that means kids. We got to read lots of books every single day. I mean, I read ten bucks a day now. Stone I mean, many of them are scratch and sniff and and pop up like you read ten books a day. It’s actually something I do. Stone Before I go to a party, I’ll go to a Barnes Noble, I’ll go to the children’s section and I’ll I’ll I’ll take people that are significant of the day. Like I’ll find a little 32 page picture biography about Jeff Bezos or Sara Blakely, and I’ll learn some facts about them. And I always look like I’m the most intelligent person at the party. Oh, you have all these great stories. Well, I’m just getting those from children’s books. And then obviously, if I if I find the person’s interesting, I’ll read something a little bit more advanced on the person. But I’m. Constantly looking for anecdotes that inspire people.
Stone Payton: Well, and you bring up an excellent set of points there, because every page in every book doesn’t have to be this world beater thing that’s totally shifts your mindset. Just picking up an idea or two, which you can do from almost any book, right?
Danny Brassell: Absolutely. Stone One of the books I’m reading right now is a biography on President Eisenhower. And I just I dog eared a page because I didn’t know this story that Hitler had given his general this order. When the guy left Paris, he was supposed to burn down all of Paris. Well, this general had some second thoughts. He’s like, I don’t want to be remembered as the guy that burnt down Paris. And so he refused to do it. And I was like, Oh my gosh, how many stories in history are one person making a decision like that? I had read a story once about Henry Stimson, who was the secretary of war under President Truman. President Truman was going to drop the atomic bomb on Kyoto because Kyoto was the center of commerce and politics in Japan. Well, it just so happened, Stone, that Henry Stimson had had his honeymoon in Kyoto. And he looked at President Truman and he said, Oh, sir, we cannot destroy Kyoto. It is too precious. And that’s why we chose Hiroshima over Kyoto only. How many events in history are based on random anecdotes like that? So that’s why I read. I’m constantly interested in stories like that.
Stone Payton: So how does the whole sales and marketing thing work for a guy like like you does? Is the business coming to you? Do you find yourself out there marketing? How do you get the new clients?
Danny Brassell: Well, I’m speaking constantly on stage is stone. So that way, you know, podcasts like this, you never know who’s listening. I’ll give you an example. When I first started speaking, I spoke from my local library and they said, Oh, there’s going to be like 500 people speak, 500, 500 people are going to attend your speech. Well. Stone Four people showed up. Two of them were my realtors and the other two was a Hispanic couple that did speak that did not speak a word of English, but I believe in given 110%. So I did my my song and dance for an hour. I did as much in Spanish as I could. We all laughed and had a good time. Well, this was interesting. Stone The Hispanic woman was taking English classes at the Adult Literacy Center, and she recommended me to speak at her English at the adult Literacy center I was making at that point in my career, this is 20 years ago. I was making $700 a day to speak. She recommended me for a 45 minute engagement for 4006 times my typical fee. And I realize, Wow, you never know. And so I get my word out just speaking to people like you. And I got all the YouTube videos and all that good stuff. And then some people, they read my books and they want me to come and speak for them that way.
Stone Payton: So yet another reason to get really good at this communicating. Speaking. So you’ve spoken to this idea of reading. Let’s talk about writing. I know you’ve written like well over a dozen books. What is what is that experience like? Do the books come together really easy for you, or sometimes is it a struggle?
Danny Brassell: Nina That’s a good question. Stone There’s a little reminder I had on my phone. Let’s see, I have these daily reminders on my phone with I’m always trying to learn quotes from people and things like that. There’s this great quote from Jean Fowler, who was a journalist, and he wrote, Writing is easy. You just stare at a blank piece of paper until blood drops form on your forehead. And I couldn’t agree more. Writing is not always the easiest process, but I like to write the books that I haven’t read. So when I was a middle school teacher, I was the only teacher in my school not to have any tardy students. And that’s because I always began class by reading aloud a Paul Harvey story. I don’t know if you remember Paul Harvey Stone. I’m kind of old at this point. Chop off my head and count the rings. But when I was a kid growing up, I listened to Paul Harvey would come on the radio every day. At 1215, he’d say, I’m Paul Harvey with the rest of the story, and he would tell you this story. And the entire time you’re trying to guess who it is or what company it is. And so my students love those stories, but a lot of those stories are about people like Sears and Roebuck. Well, my students today have no idea who what Sears Roebuck is. And so the last book I wrote, Leadership Begins with Motivation. That’s basically an homage to Paul Harvey with short stories about significant people that today’s students would know something about, like like a Elon Musk or a Warren Buffett or somebody like that. And after I wrote that book. Stone It was interesting. I read it and I’m like, oh my gosh, completely unintentionally. So many of my examples were of white male Americans. And so the book I’m writing right now, most of the examples are of female minorities and international people. And so I’m always looking for books that I want to read. That’s how I start with my writing process.
Stone Payton: Sounds like a marvelous process to be, and it’s terrific that you’re serving other people with that medium. Do you also find, though, that when you invest the time and the energy to commit these ideas to paper, that above and beyond serving other people, that it helps you solidify your own thinking, help you crystallize your your own approaches to to trying to serve and help you that much better than the other areas of your life.
Danny Brassell: Wow. You’re a dream student. Stone And absolutely, this is what I love about your podcast. So many podcasts I listen to, people have like just a prescribed list of questions and you actually are answering, you’re listening to my answers. So I really appreciate that. So yeah, that’s what I’m doing. I’m constantly writing because it makes me the best. Leaders are constantly learning, and in the process of writing stories, I’m learning about things all the time. And so I wrote a story today about my second grade teacher was. Ms.. Ms.. Ms.. Ms.. Hester and Ms.. Hester. She asks all of us kids one day she said, How far can you see? And she held up a pen. She’s like, Raise your hand if you can see this pen. And all of us kids raised our hands. And then she took us out into the hallway and she said, Raise your hand if you can see the exit sign. And all of us kids raised our hands. Then she took us outside. She’s like, Raise your hand if you can see that house across the street. And all of us kids raised our hands. And then she said, Raise your hand if you can point to if you can see the water tower behind that house. And all of us kids raised our hands. And then she said, well, how far can you see in one kid said, 800 yards, and another kid said a mile. And then another kid said two miles. And she said, Now look up above. Raise your hand if you can see the sun. And all of us kids raised our hands. And she paused and she said, Did you know that the sun is 92.9 million miles away? And all of you can see it, and yet you only said you could see 800 yards or a mile or two miles. And she she looked at all of us. This is bunch of eight year olds. And she said, you see, most people underestimate their abilities. I mean, I’m I’m an old man at this point. Stone And I’ll never forget that lesson. Most of us are underestimating what our capabilities are.
Stone Payton: What a fantastic illustration. And it goes back to your earlier points and that these stories can help you underscore timeless principles, things that you want to you want to challenge people’s mindset on. I’m not even sure you’re qualified to answer this question because I’m trying to envision you running out of gas and needing to recharge. But I also I know you’re human, man, so when a tank runs a little bit low, when you need to recharge and regroup, where do you go? And I don’t necessarily mean a physical location, but how do you sort of recharge the batteries and get geared up to get back out there and serve?
Danny Brassell: So? Stone The best thing anybody can do is turn off the TV news and read a funny children’s book. You know, I can already tell you what’s on the news tonight. The. The world is coming to an end and whoever the president is is doing a bad job. It’s been the same negative news for 100 years. I’m looking for inspiration. My poor wife, she she wonders why I love watching sports. And I always say honey, because at any moment something extraordinary can happen. I mean, I’m ashamed to say this, stone, but when I watch the Olympics, I’m usually rooting against America. And my wife’s like, Why do you do that? And I’m like, Who am I going to root for the American runner with the microchips in his Nike’s or the barefoot Sudanese refugee who just survived a civil war? I mean, the background stories of these people are amazing. They’re like, Oh, I learned how to run running away from the bullets in my village. Well, of course, I’m rooting for that guy. That’s the most inspiring thing. So people that need to recharge, you know, it’s the same tip I give people if they want to become better speakers. Well, you become a better speaker in two ways. First off, you do the reps. You should be practicing your speech in all kinds of different venues.
Danny Brassell: And most importantly, I think you have to watch lots of speakers. So I watch. I watch politicians, comedians, televangelists. I watch them in front of big groups, in front of small groups, international groups and and other things. Here’s a quick tip for your audience. One of the things I do all the time is I watch award shows because when you win the Academy Award, they only give you 45 seconds to give a speech. And I want to see can that person give a meaningful speech in 45 seconds? And I’ve been giving this example lately. Last year at the Academy Awards, a British guy for he won an Academy Award for some small technical achievement. And so nobody was going to pay attention to his speech. And he got up there and he said, a lot of people don’t know this, but when phrased properly, the term Academy Award nominee can be used as an insult. For example, yesterday I got an argument with my 17 year old daughter and she said, well, Academy Award nominee Thomas Harris, you know, and all of a sudden everybody is laughing. And I saw like Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt begging to meet this guy. That’s the power of a good speech. And that is what I’m training people how to connect their audiences with.
Stone Payton: I cannot remember a 15, 20 minute conversation that was laced so heavily with practical, actionable pro tips on any topic. You are an absolute wealth of information. Before we wrap, though, let’s let’s leave let’s leave our listeners with a couple more things, things they should be reading, doing, not doing. Just continue to and look. Game number one pro tip is reach out and have a conversation with Danny or read some of his some of his books. But let’s give them something to be doing between between now and then.
Danny Brassell: Well, first of all, you’re hired, Stone. You can be my pimp any time. Thanks for promoting me as as a thank you to you and your audience for bearing with me. I wanted to give everybody a couple of freebies. So if you go to free gift from Danny com again, free gift from Danny Dotcom, I’m going to give everybody a couple of things. First of all, I’ll give everybody a complimentary copy of one of my books, Read, Lead and Succeed. This is a book I wrote for a school principal who was trying to keep his faculty and staff positively engaged. So I said, okay, I’ll write your book. So every week I give you a concept, an inspirational quote, an inspirational story, a book recommendation on a book you should read, but you’re probably too lazy because you’re an adult. So I also give you a children’s picture book recommendation. You can read that book in 5 minutes, demonstrates the same concept. And then I’m also going to give everybody access to one of my companies is a reading program called The Reading Habit. And last summer I did an online five day reading challenge with about 700 parents around the world where every day for an hour I gave them all kinds of tips to get their kids excited about reading because I find schools do an adequate job of teaching kids how to read. But the question I always ask is, Well, what good is it teaching a kid how to read if they never want to read? I teach people why to read because I’ve never had to tell a kid, Go watch TV. I’ve never had to tell a kid, go play a video game. And I never want to have to tell a kid, go read a book. I want them to choose to do it on their own. And so those are my gifts at Free Gift from Danny. And I really appreciate this time and all that you’re doing. Stone We need a lot more of you in the world.
Stone Payton: Well, it’s absolutely my pleasure, man. What’s the best way for our listeners to connect with you and have a conversation with you or someone on your team and tap into your work? You’ve already shared a couple of resources, but I just want to make it super easy for them to get connected.
Danny Brassell: Man Yeah, they just connect with me. Danny Bristlecone My last name is really easy to remember how to spell. It’s about, like, bras cell. No, I never took any grief over that as a child. So if you go to Danny Brazil dot com, you can figure out how you can book me as a speaker or work with me one on one as a coach to grow your business.
Stone Payton: Well, Danny, it has been an absolute delight having you on the show. This afternoon. Thank you for investing the time and energy to share your insight and your perspective and mostly your enthusiasm. And this has been a great deal of fun.
Danny Brassell: Thanks for all you do so and keep on doing it. God bless.
Stone Payton: All right. Until next time, this is Stone Payton for our guest today, Danny Brazil and everyone here at the Business RadioX family saying we’ll see you in the fast lane.