David: Okay, hello achievers? Today, I am with a new amazing guy. Maybe you know him, he is John-Leslie “High Hopes” Brown. He is a speaker for World Impact Now. So you will enjoy this interview. Hi john, how are you?
John: I am great and grateful. Thank you for coming all the way to America to get a new generation of achievers to start paying attention.
David: Yeah, I want to build a new generation and I need people like you.
John: And we need people like you.
David: Great. We were talking just before about something very important, how to express your greatness. How to express our greatness.
John: Exactly, and as you know, we just started a new year and one of the things that we’re talking about is how to express your greatness, and in order to express your greatness you’ve got to communicate your greatness. You see, everyone has greatness within them, as my father, the great, Les Brown, says. Everyone has greatness inside them. The problem is when it’s time to speak up. When you have an opportunity to do an interview like this, or when you have an opportunity to travel the world and meet with new people, don’t be shy, let your voice be heard. And so I’ve come up with three unique techniques that allow people to communicate their greatness.
David: What are these three techniques?
John: Yeah, so number one, your story has value. I’m always surprised at the amount of people who have great causes, great missions and they get up on stage, they wanna tell people about their cause, they wanna tell people about their mission, but they don’t tell people about themselves. So the first rule is people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Remember that. People don’t care how much you know about education, how much you know about how government works, how much you know about the solutions that need to be in your community. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And when you show people how much you care, the sirens will go off. When you show people how much you care, the alarms go off inside their heads and say, “Whoa, okay. Let’s listen to what he has to say now.” Because this person isn’t someone that’s up there on an ego trip. This person is someone that’s aware and they’re willing to be vulnerable, okay? So the first thing is tell your story when you’re speaking, and never be afraid to do so.
The second step is be coachable. A lot of speakers and communicators from all type…You don’t have to be a speaker but if you’re communicating online, if you’re communicating with your board of directors, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a student in front of the class, you’re gonna have to express your greatness by communicating. And when you’re communicating, be coachable. A lot of times when I was younger, because I started at the age of 10. By the time I was 14, I was the highest paid teen speaker in America. And I know some people that get out of high school or college and they’re looking for a job that could pay, \$10, \$20 an hour. Well, I was making over \$2500 an hour as a teenager. And that’s when I learned something important from my dad. He said, “You don’t get paid by the hour, you get paid based on the value that you bring to the hour.” So one of the ways to bring more value to your hours is not just to tell your story, but also be coachable. Would Coby Bryant go on the court? That’s not a good example now because he’s injured, but would Coby Bryant be able to accomplish what he did without having a coach? Would LeBron James? Would Michael Jordan?
And so if you are a speaker, whether you’re communicating through your marketing or you’re communicating with your passion and your personality, make sure you find a coach. Make sure you find someone that can supplement your passion with experience. And then finally, you don’t have to be great to get started, but you’ve got to get started to be great. That’s something that I…
David: You have to take action now.
John: You have to take action now. And so many times I come across people with incredible credentials, established relationships and ties in the community, but guess what? They have no idea how powerful their story is in the life or in the mind of someone else’s. They have no idea what would happen if they were to actually share who they are, what they’ve been through, what they had to overcome, the amount of hours that they had to discipline themselves in order to become experts. Also, and let people know that they’re concerned, that they’re human despite their expertise, and the ability to connect with audiences through your story to be coachable, and to be unstoppable in getting your message out.
David: Wow. It was amazing. Three keys, so the first one is to share your story, right?
David: The second one is to be coachable. And the third one is to take action now.
David: It’s possible and it begins now.
John: It begins now. This has no age boundaries. In America you have to be, I think, 16 to drive or something.
John: Well no, you can be well established on a career path by the time you’re 16, if you develop your communication skills.
David: Yeah, so communication is an important skill?
John: Yes, and genuine communication. Anybody can memorize and recite, but it takes a courageous person to let you know who they are behind the words.
David: Yeah, and you have an amazing way to communicate. How did you develop that?
John: Well as you know…
David: Did you…? Were you born with this voice, music?
David: With this analogy?
John: No, actually I was trained, I was groomed for greatness. I used to have to get up in the morning, and before my school work I had motivational lessons to memorize. I had poems to recite, I had quotes to study and thankful… I’m very grateful to my mother who was there and to my father who I got a chance to see change lives both from the audience, but also from on the stage with him. And I just remembered being upset, mad at my dad. “Hold on a second, why do I have to read this boring piece again? Why do I have to study this? Why do I have to learn these principles?” However, I’m very happy now that I took the time to get a good foundation about what it takes to make it in this free enterprise system, and about how to make a difference worldwide.
David: Yeah, and so let’s imagine that someone in front of this computer, and he’s seeing you, and he’s wondering, “How can I develop the same power in communication? How do I have to start?” Do you understand?
John: Yes, yes, how do you start?
John: Well, here’s the first, I want you to start by thinking about who your audience is. Don’t think about who you are, okay? There’s a point to you get to your story after you know who the story is going to. So the top, the first three things that I would ask a person is number one, who would you like to reach? Who do you think deserves to hear your voice? What do you have to offer? What market is it? Are you speaking to entrepreneurs? Are you talking to college students? Are they millennials? What type of clothes do they wear? What do they drive? Do they text? Do you see what I’m saying? You wanna get in the mind of the customer. And then secondly, what three things do you want the audience to walk away with?
John: That’s the key point. What three things do you want the audience to walk away with? If you’re just getting up to say a message and you don’t have a target in mind… There’s a quote that says, “Many of us… if you’re…” Oh, what is the quote? It says oh, “if you’re going through hell, don’t stop.” Okay, so many people are going through hell, because they’ve stopped growing, they’ve stopped reaching, they’ve stopped targeting so who are you going to target in your presentations, and what do you want them to walk away with? That’s very important. And then finally, humor is very important. What funny things about you? How would you influence and insert your personality when it comes up or when its time?
David: And I can see that you laugh a lot. Did you develop that or?
John: Well, yes I’ve… This is what happened, in my household, some people fight over the big piece of chicken, some people fight over the remote control. In my house, we fight over quotes. We fight over motivational principles. We fight for stage time sometimes, to speak. And I think that one of the things that I learned and I was reading in my dad’s book is true, he said that, “Environment is more important than people.” And I grew up in an environment of achievers, like the one you’re creating with your broadcast. I grew up in an environment where communicating your greatness was the thing to do, and now it’s a matter of maintaining that foundation and taking it to another level.
David: Great. Yeah, an amazing question also because you know I have a foundation with other people to impact children, to head them to believing their dreams, and it is something that you care about.
David: So how do you impact children?
John: Well, when I was younger I used to say a quote, I said, “If you could turn on the radio, and learn how to be a thug, you should be able to turn on the radio and learn how to be a thinker.” You should be able to turn on the radio, and learn how to be an entrepreneur or a leader. And it’s one thing to complain, but it’s another to correct. And so one of the things that I do, as you know, that music it’s such a powerful medium and I put motivational principles in hip hop form, in order to reach the next generation.
David: And if you give me a music I will use it in France, because like I said, we are so bad in English, but we are listening to a lot of English music.
John: Exactly, music, it jumps the firewall of the brain, and it is another type of universal language that we all can relate to. So what I’ve done is I’ve taken my dad’s quotes. So like, “Shoot for the moon because even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars.” And I’ve turned those types of things, even Zing Ziegler’s quotes. “I’ll see you at the top, or from the top.” I’ve turned those into catchy hooks and put it on beats that people can enjoy so that you can listen to it while you’re on the way to work without falling to sleep.
David: That’s amazing. So I know it’s maybe a challenge because we don’t have music and is it possible for you to sing something now?
John: Yeah, I’ll give you a little taste. As you know the holiday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior is coming up. And I remember the first time I had an opportunity to live my dream, which was to put these motivational principles in hip hop form, I went in the studio and these words came out, I said, “Okay, mic check one, two.” it was on and I said,
I got a dream, dream
Something like Dr. King
Let’s teach our children that money isn’t everything
I got a dream, dream
Something like Dr. King
Let’s teach the man money isn’t everything
I got a dream, dream
Okay hold on, is it working? All right, so I got in there and just the beginning and just the feeling of thinking about going from one generation to another and passing on the message that’s relevant, these words came out.
I got a dream, dream
No, I didn’t say a drink but don’t let the party stop just because a player thinks
I would never rock in diamond that was pink
But will you value my mind more than you value my mink
If not then our value is guaranteed to shrink
And generations to come are guaranteed to sink
So what’s the point of civil rights for the race
If you get no rights if your pockets don’t have a big face
We don’t want our kids in a paper chase
All leaders must die but someone must take their place
I got a dream, dream
Something like Dr. King
Let’s teach our children that money isn’t everything
I got a dream, dream
And I don’t have a care
If I’m a popular why we stuck in this nightmare
If you looking for solutions then one is right here
We’ll have less prostitution and a whole lot of prayer
So this one goes out to each and every millionaire
Would you give up your fortune for a breath of fresh air?
If not, then your seeds will never learn to share
But I’ll give them what they need because they shake their derriere
And see what we want is little kids saying, “I got a dream, dream something.” We want this in their mouths. We want this in their lives and so that’s part of my passion.
David: Wow, it’s amazing. And do you have some musician to make the music be that?
John: Yes, indeed, I’ve got some great, great producers. Bam Alexander is one of my producers, who I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about and a lot of local and upcoming producers from the Los Angeles area.
David: Great. I would like to know so because you are an entrepreneur, what do you say to upcoming and new entrepreneur, what do you say to help him?
John: Exactly, well that’s low key. Team is important. Especially when you’re talented, when you have some good ideas, you’ve got to find a good team. So that new entrepreneurs, I ask them this, who can you count on and who should you count out? That’s one of the things that you will learn very quickly. Who can you count on to inspire you, to push you, to keep you going when you don’t even wanna keep going? And who should you count out? Who are the people that will accept excuses from you? Or who are those people that don’t believe that you can make it in the first place? Don’t waste your time, don’t procrastinate, count them out and move forward with the people you can count on.
David: Okay. So it’s very important to choose your environment?
John: Exactly, and to choose your team members, and to go to environments that have healthy team members. People that support you, that believe in you and that understand the power that you bring.
David: Yeah, it’s amazing. I would love to know because it’s not something very easily every time, because a lot of people are thinking that if you are the son or the daughter of someone famous, or you’re famous or rich, it’s easy to succeed, it’s easy to achieve your own dreams. And I have two questions, how did you do…? Was it easy? The first question, and the second question is because I know it is not, how do you make your own identity when people maybe as comparing to your father?
John: Exactly. I think that all children come to a point where they realize that they have to choose what they’re gonna do with their lives, and whether or not they’re going to allow their parents to define them. Fortunately, my father was known for something positive. I could not imagine the amount of pressure it would have been if he was known for something negative. And for me, the biggest struggle was not having something to live up to. The biggest struggle was seeing my dad make so much of a difference, how can I make even a big…how do I make a difference now? I think, for me and especially in finding my own identity, I found my identity when I started making music.
David: I think so.
John: Music was something for me, not necessarily as a way to separate myself because I didn’t want to separate myself. I just wanted to duplicate what my father had done in another area, and I knew that that was different enough. But what I started to find in doing that, I found friends that did not know who he was or care, but really saw me for me. I gained new relationships and I got a chance to see what I was worth. And one of the most challenging things about being compared to someone else is you might be short changing yourself. So you wanna make sure that you maximize your potential and don’t get caught in the potential of someone else. And then finally about… What was your second question about?
David: Yeah, yeah, how do you… Because to build your own self esteem when people worth you and comparing to your father, how do you stop comparing yourself? Did you do that?
David: And how did you stop and overcome that to have gratitude about your father and build your true identity?
John: Well, what I believe is this principal called “carry the torch”, and that everyone has a torch put inside them at an early age. My dad just happened to be Les Brown, but maybe you had someone when you were younger that believed in you that saw something great in you. And it’s our responsibility not to run away from it, not to try to separate ourselves from it, and distinguish ourselves and feel like we need to reinvent the will. What I’m saying is those influences, whatever you’re being compared to, or whoever you’re being compared to, embrace that, especially, if it’s for a good thing. I thought when I was younger that the last thing that I wanted to do was to be like my dad. I probably worked to be more like Tupac Shakur than look like my dad. But now guess what? My dad’s still here.
I’m happy that I’m like my dad. That’s not a bad comparison. However Khalil Gibran said, “Our children come through us, but they are not from us.” And as I’m now I’m a new dad, I look down at my son and I say, “Wow, I’m just so amazed and I’m curious to see what unique things he will bring to the world.” So there might be some people out there who have successful parents or unsuccessful parents, and they wonder, “How do I shake that? How do I just focus it on me?” Well, just keep in mind that you were born for a reason. That’s what I had to figure out. What was I born to do? I know what made me Brown’s baby boy did. I know what Les Brown did, I know what my mother did. I know what other people have done. I know what the great men and women of our time have done, but what was I born to do? And once you stop being nosy about other people’s accomplishments, once you get your mind out of other people’s bank accounts and start focusing on your own potential, you don’t have time to compare yourself to other people. People are too busy reading about you, googling you, researching how they could do business with you, you’re not researching them. So that’s how I feel about it. We have to start being busy. We have to get busy with the business of becoming better people. And start ignoring and tuning out the distractions of comparing ourselves with others.
David: Wow, it’s great. I know that…
John: There’s a quote that says, “Everybody is born unique, but most of us die copies.” And I don’t wanna die a copy.
David: Yeah, I think that it’s a great thing that you are dealing with… It’s amazing. So we have to focus on what we can express, and how we are unique, and what is… or life propose, right?
David: Okay, it’s great. So do you have some keys to get… just one question, it’s amazing. What are the three of seven keys you learned from your father? If you have to say that’s the best keys that you learned from him, what could be the best keys?
John: Okay, I’ll give you three.
David: Three is the best.
John: And it’s hard to put these in order. Number one, or number 3, impact drives income. Impact drives income. You wanna get rich, enrich somebody else’s life. Make a big difference in your community. I guarantee you they will back the money truck up on your lawn. You wanna find a way to have a prosperous lifestyle? Find those that are prosperous, help them become even more prosperous, okay?
David: Yes, great.
John: And it is the best way. Impact drives income. So many people, they’re trying to find a new income, they’re not really looking on how to make a big impact, and that’s one of the key things that he taught me. Another thing is, when he said, “Don’t allow someone else’s opinion of you to determine your reality.”
When you become an achiever, a super achiever, as we like to say. When you decide to utilize your gifts and dreams and follow your hopes of your heart, then it’s important that you stay focused and centered. Get away from comparing yourself, but also know that other people aren’t always gonna like you. Everyone is not always gonna get it. Some people are gonna say, no, some people will reject you. Some people will turn you down, but if you don’t turn yourself down, if you could find it within yourself, within your heart to get up in the mirror and say, “Despite what the world thinks of me, I know that I’m here for a reason and if they don’t know, they better ask somebody.” That’s the type of attitude that life respects.
Don’t allow people’s opinion of you to take you out of the game. And then finally, the number one principle that I learned from my father, who’s a great speaker, but an even better dad, he said, “The reason why people fail in life, the reason why most people fail is not because they aim too high and miss. It’s because they aim too low and hit.” Make sure you aim high. Make sure you reach beyond your comfort zone. Make sure you maintain an unstoppable attitude and identify teammates like yourself, like the young achievers that we’re helping to mold that can take you further than you can imagine.
David: Yeah, I love what your experience was, it’s great. Sometimes you speak like that, and sometimes you let, express your energy and your flow, and I love that. And what advice you’ll give me to develop that in six months and come back to you with the scale of a non-hindering speech?
John: Okay, I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you three things, the first step, memorize a set piece. Take the piece by Dr. Martin Luther king. The “I have a dream speech”, memorize that. Memorize his speeches, you know why? Because when you deliver Martin Luther king’s speech, you’re not gonna do it like you, you’re gonna put some whole bunch of extra on it, okay? Memorize it and work on it every day. That is showing you the range that you have. Try a different way, start off with a set piece. Don’t try to say your own words like that, does that make sense? Try off a set piece, something that’s three to five minutes long and master that piece better than anybody in the world. Next time I see you in six months, you better sound like Martin Luther king, Junior. Okay?
Now, here’s the second thing, pregnant pause. Don’t be afraid to pause.
John: When you say, “I have a dream…”, right? When you go there, don’t be afraid to say, “I have a dream.” okay? Let that pause come in there. Don’t rush it, especially when you’re speaking in a new language, it’s important that you take…
David: Your time.
John: Your time. Don’t try to rush it, and I’m telling you, you speak English a lot better than I speak French. So take your time. And then finally, you’re ready, this is the biggest trick that many speakers don’t use, smile. Okay? When you get up there, even if you mess up, just smile. Okay? When you smile, your words come out differently than you do when if you don’t smile. It’s a big difference because your voice has animation to it when you allow it to. So number one, memorize a set piece by Martin Luther King, by Abraham Lincoln, by Mrs. Michelle Obama. Whatever it is, a piece that embodies your core message, master that speech. Spend a minimum of 30 days inside your oratorical gym, okay? Working on that one piece. Then what you wanna do is work on your pregnant pause. Look back at the piece, at the words that you’ve memorized and ask yourself, “What shall I emphasize here to stop and let the audience think about it. And then finally, last but not least, if you get up on stage and forget everything that I taught you, go ahead and smile.
David: So if I do that, I will develop something to be able to speak like that with my own words?
John: Yes, thank you very much. What you’re developing is muscle memory, muscle memory so that even your vocal cords, which are muscles will remember that, “Oh, it’s time to go up in that place.” So don’t be afraid of it and you’ll have the confidence behind it because you’ll know that the words aren’t yours. You’ll see that whoever you’re quoting as a credible force, and there will be zero doubt in terms of the power of the words, because you’re dealing with words that have already proven their power.
David: Wow, I love that. I will develop that.
John: Okay, great.
David: When you speak, do you…? How do you prepare yourself? Do you do something before? Do you have something to cure?
John: Yes, talk to the audience. If you go around shake their hands, talk to the audience. A lot of speakers want to be in the back in the dressing room, not me, not my father. We’ll go talk to the audience. From the audiences, they’re a lot nicer to people they know, okay? So shake some hands, ask, what are the top issues that you’re facing here at this company? I went into YMCA one time and asked the little 5th graders, “What’s the top issue that you’re facing?” You know what they said? “Haters.” “Haters? You’re in the 5th grade. You don’t even know what a hater is.” They’re talking, but you have to be curious. So then I did a speech about overcoming internal haters. You know what I’m saying? The haters inside your own house, inside your own head. So it’s really research, research, research. Do what is called conduct communications intelligence, where before you get up to speak, you’ve already interviewed 60 people and you know that 39 of them had the same issues so you’re gonna narrow in in that direction.