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10 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Michael Phelps

10 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Michael Phelps

The push, the grind, the effort, the consistency, the failures and the victories. We all have success and failures in life, but what matters is how we handle the adversity. Being an entrepreneur is very similar to being an athlete.

The qualities you must possess, the adversity you experience, the physical, emotional and mental pain, all feel the same whether you’re an entrepreneur or an athlete. As an entrepreneur and “retired” Div I collegiate athlete, watching Michael Phelps during the Olympics, I was inspired by his story. Love him or hate him, his story resonates to a human’s core. It surely did for me.

Since I’ve been thinking so much about his story and what makes it so inspiring, I couldn’t help but relate this hero’s journey to entrepreneurship. Life has ups and downs. It’s hard. We are all looking for hacks, tips and resources to ease our pain and find our way back home to share our story of success.

Life can knock you down, like it does for everyone, but how you handle the adversity is what matters. The process of getting back up and facing your biggest critics is how character is built.

Let’s look at the powerful business lessons I learned from a powerful force in the water, Michael Phelps.

1. Be True to Yourself

I’ve watched several interviews with Michael recently and he kept saying he wanted to do it for himself. He wanted to go out on top and do this his way. Can you relate?

With so much noise online and gurus claiming they have the answers to financial freedom, it’s hard to hear your own inner voice and calling. Maybe you’re not sure which action to take. You may feel paralyzed with fear. (I know I do sometimes.) Will the grammar police correct me publicly? Will they think I’m a fraud?

One thing I’ve learned is that I have to be true to myself. I have to get back in the water, as Michael did, even though it’s scary and won’t be easy. Staying true to myself and building a business, on my terms, is what it’s all about.

2. Hone Your Craft

Michael has perfected his craft. He studies film, he takes consistent, daily action. He pushes his body to the limit and he has been doing so for years. I think one of the hardest lessons in life is learning patience.

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And as an entrepreneur, do you have the patience to hone your craft without seeing any results? Are you willing to put in the time after multiple failed attempts? Are you willing to write that book without a publisher, create opt-ins that don’t convert and run Facebook ads that see zero ROI? The entrepreneur’s life is consistent with trial and error. For that I’m certain. We are constantly bombarded with million dollar stories and what seems to be overnight successes.

Michael didn’t win 28 medals “overnight.” It didn’t take him less than a year to hone his craft and reap the rewards. It took years of patience, skill and tenacity. It takes time to hone your craft, remain consistent and practice patience. Are you looking for the quick fix and the simple solution?

Think about it. Do you have the patience to hone your craft?

3. Surround Yourself With the Right People

Most people only have a handful of real friends. Look at Michael, he thought he had friends until someone snapped a photo of him taking “hits from the bong.” There are only a few people in your life that can show you empathy, love and compassion without judgment.

Surround yourself with those people. The wrong people in business will only bring you down and destroy what you’ve built. Find people that lift you up, make you a better person and won’t judge. Currently, if you have the wrong people in your life, you’re allowed to distance yourself and find new friends.

I give you full permission.

Michael didn’t get to where he is without the help and support from the right people. If you don’t currently have anyone in your life, start trusting yourself and connecting with like-minded people that think and perform at the top of their game. Your business and legacy depend on it.

4. Rule Yourself

Have you seen Michael’s Under Armor commercial where he’s working out, swimming countless laps and pushing himself to the brink of exhaustion in the dark? Without a doubt, you notice that determined, focused, passionate look on his face that says, “I’ll never quit.”

It’s the look of an athlete on a mission.
It’s the look of a single mom that works three jobs to make ends meet.
It’s the look of a professional that has their employees and family depending on them.
It’s the look of an entrepreneur up until 3 a.m. the night before a launch.

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“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light. Rule Yourself. I will.”

It’s the ability to rule yourself.

It’s the ability to choose how you want to feel and take back your power.
It’s the ability to accomplish your goals.
It’s the ability to believe in yourself and to know your own value.

Rule yourself my friend, rule yourself!

5. Set Big, Audacious Goals

Katie Ledecky, swimmer and Olympic Gold Medalist, (not Michael this time) said in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that she set a goal after the 2012 Olympics and wrote it down. It was a big, scary goal that she didn’t think she could reach, but four years later, she crushed it.

What does that mean to the entrepreneur that wants to retire their spouse and impact the world? It means that without goals, you’re going nowhere. Goals don’t have to be solely financial either.

Set “impact goals” like, how has your business changed lives?
How can you measure impact?
How many of the right clients have you created as a result?

Get creative in how you measure the results. You could record how many positive emails or testimonials your get on a daily or weekly basis. That could be the driving force in your business. Set an impact goal and strive to increase it weekly, monthly, quarterly.

6. Finish

I hear and see a lot of entrepreneurs starting projects, but rarely ever finishing them. Of course, there have been plenty of times when I didn’t finish a project. But if I’m taking a lesson from Michael Phelps’s book, I’m going to finish what I start.

If I set a goal, I will rule myself until the end. I’m a little stubborn like that.

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There have been hundreds of times when I wanted to quit, but I didn’t.
I wanted to quit when I was in college, but I didn’t.
I wanted to quit when I first started my business, but I didn’t.
I wanted to quit being a mother at 4 a.m. with a screaming child, but I didn’t.

There have been plenty of projects and ideas that never have seen the light of day, but that doesn’t stop me.

Do you think Michael got to be the most decorated Olympian of all time because he quit when it got hard?

Finish.

Finish when it’s not sexy and you don’t feel like it.
Finish even if you don’t make millions from your effort.
Finish because you’ll learn something about yourself.
Finish and you’ll figure out the rest along the way.

7. Flexibility

You’re allowed to change your mind. There’s a fine line between “staying the course” and adjusting along the way. You have to stay the course, but if it’s clearly not working, things need to change.

I hear all too often that “this is how it has always been done” and it kills the creativity of businesses. Things must change to sustain.

It takes skill as an entrepreneur to know when to stay the course and when to be more flexible. Surely you’ll make the wrong decisions along the way, but keep an open mind with your vision. The journey is long. Remain flexible in how you get to your destination, but stay firm in your vision.

8. Implement

You must take action and implement what you learn. How many times have you gone to a summit or conference, learned hours of valuable information, met tons of amazing people only to return home to “business as usual?”

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“Insight without action is worthless.” – Marie Forleo

If you study film, read an article that inspires, educates, motivates, you must follow through and implement the lessons. Apply and do the work. It matters! Get out there and start doing. Take risks and make things happen. You got this!

What action can you take today to apply what you’ve learned?

9. The Pain Has A Purpose

If you’re human, you’ve experienced pain, but the pain has a purpose. It always does.

Often times you can’t see the purpose or reason for the pain, but the message will appear when you’re ready to hear it. Michael felt the pain after his second DUI. The world as he knew it was coming to an end. The pain was immense, but from that pain, he began to heal.

He went off to rehab and found himself swimming in a pool way too small for an Olympic athlete, but within the confining walls of a small pool, he found a man with a purpose. Your pain has a purpose too.

Can you see your pain as an opportunity for growth? Can you move through the pain to see a new perspective? Find your place to heal. Take a step back and get quiet so you can see more clearly. Allow your heart to open and for the forgiveness to enter.

10. Consistency

Consistency is huge and it’s something so many of us struggle with. There will always be someone better, stronger, faster, more skilled and more talented, but the “best” are the ones that remain consistent with their purpose and mission. You don’t have to be the best writer, speaker or leader to make an impact, but you do need to do it consistently.

What makes Michael different than any other swimmer in the world? There are many factors and variables, but one thing remains true. He’s consistent. He consistently shows up and does the work. He puts in the time and goes the extra mile.

Where can you be more consistent as an entrepreneur? Where can you consistently focus more of your time?

The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t working on a whim. They show up consistently and take action even when it’s scary and hard. Be that entrepreneur that makes a difference and changes the world. The world needs you!

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Maggie Rowe

Copywriter | Life Coach

10 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Michael Phelps

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

10 Secrets of Making Every Presentation Fun, Engaging, and Enjoyable

Not a lot of people are good at public speaking. You could even say that virtually everyone needs to get some practice, and preferably good guidance, before they can learn to stay calm when facing a room full of people. Having all eyes on you is an uncomfortable experience and it takes time to get used to. However, even if you can manage to control your stage fright and stay focused, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your presentation won’t put people to sleep. This is usually the case with long presentations on a very dull subject, with the presenter speaking in a monotone voice and dimming the lights to play a PowerPoint presentation.

You have to work hard to develop the right skills

If you want to be remembered and actually get people engaged, you need to make your presentation fun and enjoyable, without coming off as corny or desperate to please. I know, it doesn’t sound that easy at all! A good presentation during a promotional event or given to an important client can be a game changer for your business, so it is easy to get stressed out and fail to perform all that well. Luckily, giving an interesting lecture is something that can be practiced and perfected. There is plenty of advice out there on the topic, but let’s look at the most important aspects of giving a memorable and fun presentation.

1. Make your presentation short and sweet

With very long, meandering speeches you tend to lose the audience pretty early on, and from then on out it’s just a test of endurance for the few bravest listeners. Not only will people’s attention start to drop rapidly after sitting and listening to you talk for 30 minutes, but you also risk watering down your core ideas and leaving your audience with little in the way of key phrases and important bits of information to take away from the whole ordeal. Famous speakers throughout history have known the importance of condensing the information by using well thought out sentences and short phrases loaded with meaning.

JFK’s famous: ”It’s not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” expresses so much in very few words and gets the audience thinking. Ancient Spartans, for example were famous for their quick, dry wit, often demolishing their opponent’s argument with a single word or phrase. You’ll want to channel that ancient spirit and be as concise as possible when preparing your presentation.

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2. Open up with a good ice breaker

At the beginning, you are new to the audience. There is no rapport, no trust and the atmosphere is fairly neutral. Even if some of the people there know you personally, the concept of you as an authority on a particular matter giving a speech will be foreign to them. The best way to encourage a warm and friendly atmosphere is to get some kind of emotional response out of the audience right at the beginning. It doesn’t matter what emotion it is, you just need to connect with them on a more personal level. It can be shock, curiosity, laughter, knowing smirks, nervousness – whatever gets them out of that initial feeling of indifference. There are different kinds of effective ice-breakers, but generally speaking, the most successful ones utilize one of these tactics:

  • Joking
  • Tugging on their heart strings
  • Dropping a bombastic statement
  • Telling an interesting and relevant anecdote
  • Using a metaphor or drawing comparisons

You can make a small, self-deprecating comment, stir the presentation one way and then suddenly surprise the audience, use sarcasm, open up with a short childhood story that taught you a lesson, quote a famous person and elaborate on it from personal experience, use an inspirational anecdote or hit them with a bit of nostalgia. Just remember to keep it short and move on once you’ve gotten a reaction.

3. Keep things simple and to the point

Once you’re done warming up the crowd you can ease them into the core concepts and important ideas that you will be presenting. Keep the same presentation style thoughout. If you’ve started off a bit ironic, using dry wit, you can’t just jump into a boring monologue. If you’ve started off with a bang, telling a couple of great little jokes and getting the crowd riled up, you have to keep them happy by throwing in little jokes here and there and being generally positive and energetic during the presentation. You need a certain structure that you won’t deviate too far from at any point. A good game plan consists of several important points that need to be addressed efficiently. This means moving on from one point to another in a logical manner, coming to a sound conclusion and making sure to accentuate the key information.

4. Use a healthy dose of humor

Some of the best speeches and presentations in the world, which have been heard and viewed by millions, all feature plenty of humor. No matter the subject, a great speaker will use natural charisma, humor and beautiful language to convey their points and get the crowd excited about what they are saying. A great example of building rapport with the audience through the use of humor is Barrack Obama talking about the government building Iron Man.

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It is silly and fun, and absolutely not something that you would expect from a man in a position of power speaking in such a serious setting – and it’s exactly why it works. The more serious the situation and the bigger the accent on proper social behavior, the harder your jokes will hit.

5. Try to tell a story instead of ranting

Some people can do all of the above things right and still manage to turn their short and fun little presentation into a chaotic mess of information. You don’t want your speech to look like you just threw a bunch of information in a blender in no particular order. To avoid rambling, create a strong structure. Start with the ice breaker, introduce the core concepts and your goals briefly, elaborate on the various points in a bit more detail, draw logical conclusions and leave your audience with a clear takeaway message. You want to flow naturally from one part to the next like you are telling a big story chapter by chapter.

6. Practice your delivery

Standing in front of the mirror and practicing a speech or presentation is a technique as old as mirrors – well, come to think of it, as old as human speech, since you can see yourself reflected in any clear and calm body of water – and that means that it is tried and true. The theory is incredibly simple, yet the real problem is actually putting in the effort day in and day out. Work on your posture, your tone of voice, accent, pauses between sentences and facial expressions. The most important thing is to talk slowly and loudly enough to be heard and understood clearly. Many famous speakers, such as Demosthenes and King George VI, overcame speech impediments through hard work.

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7. Move around and use your hands

Although you won’t instill confidence in your project if you are very jittery, moving around erratically, not knowing what to do with your hands and making fast movements, standing dead still can be just as bad. You shouldn’t be afraid to use your arms and hands when talking as it makes you seem more passionate and confident. The same goes for moving around and taking up some space. However, try to make slower, calculated and deliberate movements. You want your movements to seem powerful, yet effortless. You can achieve this through practice.

8. Engage the audience by making them relate

Sometimes you will lose the audience somewhat in techno-babble, numbers, graphs and abstract ideas. At that point it is important to reel them back in using some good, old-fashioned storytelling. Make comparisons to events from everyday life that most people are more than familiar with. By making things look simple, not only will you help your audience get a better understanding of the subject by enabling them to visualize the information more clearly, you will also draw a connection between you. After all, you are all just regular people with similar experience, you just happen to be performing different roles at the moment.

9. Use funny images in your slides

Although slides are not really necessary at all times, if you do need them to make your point and present your information more effectively, it’s best to liven them up. They say that facts aren’t always black and white, and your presentation should reflect this. Add a bit of color, make the information stand out and use an interesting animation to switch from slide to slide. You can use the slides to add some more humor, both in terms of the text and the images. An image that is used to elicit a positive response needs to be funny within the context of what you are discussing. For example, if you are discussing the topic of authority, an image of Eric Cartman from South Park in a police uniform, demanding that you respect his “authoritah,” is a nice way to have a bit of fun and lighten things up.

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10. End on a more serious note

When all is said and done you will want the audience to remember the core concepts and keep thinking about what you have said after the presentation is over. This is why you should let things naturally calm down and end with an important idea, quote or even a question. Plant a seed in their mind and make them think. Let us turn to Patrick Henry for a great way to end a speech: “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

As you can see, there is quite a bit to learn when it comes to giving a good presentation, one that is both memorable and fun. Be sure to work on your skills tirelessly and follow in the footsteps of great orators.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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