16: Neen James on ATTENTION and how it impacts Respect.

Listen as Neen James shares specific skills for paying attention in our lives and how vital paying attention is to respect. Neen shares with host Mike Domitrz insights and strategies people can use in their personal and professional lives.

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*BIO*

Neen James is the author of nine books including Folding Time™ and her most recent, Attention Pays™. In 2017, she was named one of the top 30 Leadership Speakers by Global Guru because of her work with companies like Viacom, Comcast, Cisco, Virgin, Pfizer, BMW, and the FBI, among others.

Neen earned her MBA from Southern Cross University and the Certified Speaking Professional designation from National Speakers Association. She has received numerous awards as a professional speaker, is a partner in the international education company Thought Leaders Global, and is a member of the prestigious League of Heroic Public Speakers.

Neen is a leadership expert who delivers high-energy keynotes that challenge audiences to leverage their focus and pay attention to what matters most at work and in life. Audiences love her practical strategies they can apply personally and professionally, and meeting planners love working with her – they often describe Neen as the energizer bunny for their events.

With a strong background in learning and development and managing large teams at various corporations, Neen is the perfect fit for organizations who want implementable strategies that will help their employees avoid distractions, stop interruptions, prioritize daily objectives and say ‘no’ to requests that steal time and focus from real goals and priorities.

Oh, did we mention that Neen is Australian? Why does that matter? Well, it means that she’s a bit mischievous, is pretty witty and a little cheeky. She also considers herself an unofficial champagne taste tester … and a really slow runner.

*Links:*
www.facebook.com/NeenJamesCommunications
https://twitter.com/neenjames
https://www.linkedin.com/in/neenjames
Blog: http://neenjames.com/blog/
http://instagram.com/neenjames
https://www.youtube.com/user/AussieNeen
Neen’s website: http://neenjames.com/

*Recommended Books:*
Thought Leaders Practice by Matt Church and Peter Cook
Attention Pays by Neen James

Get SAMPLE CHAPTERS from Neen’s Book: Attention Pays (download)

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE (or download the pdf):

**IMPORTANT: This podcast episode was transcribed by a 3rd party service and so errors can occur throughout the following pages:

Mike:                       Welcome to the respect podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz from MikeSpeaks.com, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US military create a culture of respect. And respect is exactly what we discussed on this show, so let’s get started.

Mike:                       In this episode we have the amazing, incredible Neen James who’s also a friend of mine. I’m going to give you a little background on Neen, so that you know as you’re listening to her or if you’re watching this on YouTube, you’re watching the actual video. She’s the author of Folding Time and her latest book, Attention Pays, which we’re going to be talking about today. They’re both available in bookstores around the world.

Mike:                       And for over two decades, Neen has been advising some of the coolest companies in the world, including Viacom, Comcast, Paramount pictures, and even the FBI on how to improve their strategic planning, communication and leadership development. When she’s not speaking, you might find on the back of a Harley, you may also find her running. She’s originally from Sydney, Australia. Now a proud US citizen. We’re going to welcome speaker, and she says, insanely slow runner, but I think she’s a tough critic on herself. Neen James, thank you, Neen for joining us.

Neen:                      G’day, Mike. What a treat to get to serve your listeners. When you say things like two decades of working with clients makes me feel ancient, but if people are listening to this, they probably think I sound like I’m five. I promise I’m significantly older than that.

Mike:                       Well, you’re still young, that’s for sure. Well, I’m thrilled to have you on. You talk all about paying attention. So, let’s start there, Neen. What does that mean? Your book is Attention Pays. So if you could provide a little background on what attention means.

Neen:                      To me, attention is really three things. Let’s look at it in three ways, maybe. There’s three ways we pay attention in the world personally, which is really about who deserves our attention. So that’s about being thoughtful and respect is such a big part of that. The second way is professionally, which is about what really deserves your attention and that’s being productive. And the third way is how are we paying attention in the world, which is really about being responsible. So it’s personally, professionally and globally.

Neen:                      That’s the three ways I believe we pay attention in the world, and the ones that I think would probably be most interesting to your listeners today is personally and professionally. Who deserves your attention and what deserves your attention, because that way you show up in the world has a ripple effect across the planet.

Mike:                       Alright, so let’s dive in there. And I think a lot of our listeners are activists also, so even globally could be an interesting conversation to go there. So let’s talk about personally, how does, how does it show up personally and how does respect play a role in that journey?

Neen:                      Well, think about how disrespected we feel when someone’s on their cell phone and they’re not paying attention to us. Imagine how disrespected people feel when they’re in a conversation with someone and you’re looking beyond their shoulder for someone more interesting to speak to.

Neen:                      So I think respect is vital. I learned this lesson from my five year old friend. Donovan. He and I were in this very heated debate about like who is cooler was it Superman or Batman? Which is obviously very important when you’re five. And at one point he got so frustrated with me, because he didn’t think I was listening to him and he jumped into my lap. He grabbed my face with these tiny little hands and he said, “Neen, listen with your eyes.”

Neen:                      And I think the greatest way to show respect to someone is to look them in the eye. The gift of our attention is such a beautiful sign of respect. And so I think when it comes to personally paying attention, the first and easiest thing that all of us can do that costs absolutely no money is to look up, is to look people in the eye, look up from our devices to look someone in the eye in a conversation. That’s a beautiful sign of respect. And so what I want to encourage our listeners to do is can they listen with their eyes more?

Mike:                       I love it. We used to teach that when I was coaching, especially young basketball players, you’d say, “Hey, if I can see your eyes, then I know you’re listening. If I can’t see your eyes, I might assume you’re not and that can feel disrespected.”

Mike:                       And it just helps them know, oh, look at coach or at whoever it is. Here’s the challenge a lot of adults have, particularly people like myself who can have that crazy energy in their brain. How do you help them stay focused on the eyes without going into creepy zone? Right?

Neen:                      I love that.

Mike:                       So, because, because there’s this balance, especially when you’re like at a conference and there’s people going by and you feel like, well there’s somebody going by. I don’t want to be rude. So how do you balance that out?

Neen:                      You know, this is a skill I had to teach myself, Mike, because I love people. Like if I walk into a room, I assume everyone wants to play with me. And so there’s already so many people that I want to see. But what I’ve had to be able to do is to block out my field of vision, meaning if you and I are in a conversation, I have to stay really focused on you, so I’m not looking at all those other people who you and I know … We go to this industry conference, you and I and you know that it is like the attention span of like a squirrel because everybody’s interrupting and wants to see you. It’s like once a year, it’s a big love fest, so that’s actually one of the hardest places to do this. But there’s little things that I’ve learned, for example, being able to listen in and to actually not try and work out what my question is and here’s what I mean by that.

Neen:                      So often in a conversation, we’re listening to respond instead of listening to listen. And so what I’m trying to teach myself more and more to do is to listen to your question, allow the pause, and then be thoughtful in my response. So instead of thinking, “Oh, I know what to say,” or finishing your sentence or interrupting you, I’ve had to learn very much about to listen to listen, not listen to respond.

Neen:                      And I was a constant interrupter and it’s still something that I work on because it’s something I know about myself. I get so excited I want to contribute to the conversation or I want to give you a solution or I want to answer your question and I really have to shut up. So the best thing to do if you want to be showing respect to shut up, be quiet. Just listen.

Neen:                      Now without that being creepy, the other thing that I’ve had to realize is by being able to be attentive then after the pause is I think, well, what’s a really cool way to show them that I am respecting their time? Is it a question? Is it a comment? Is it a nod? Is it a followup? Is it an action I need to take?

Neen:                      Sometimes it might even be as simple as saying, “Did I hear you say, is this what you mean?” Or I might say, “Can you tell me more about that?” And so what I’m trying to do is engage in that point in the conversation. What I’ve also realized, especially at conferences is I need to write things down. I am a person who seems to remember better when I write things down, so just like before our call today, I said to you, “Hey, if you see me look down, I’m writing things down,” I’ll do the same thing with someone and what I’ve also learned over the years, especially working with so many mentors that I have, is taking notes is also a sign of respect.

Neen:                      And I had a mentor early in my career and he said to me, “One of the things I like about you is you always write things down,” and what it was telling him is what he was saying was important for me to want to record. So an easy sign of respect, when you’re paying attention, is to write things down.

Neen:                      Now when I have worked with large companies on their customer experience and how do they accelerate attention, I will often tell team members, “Tell the client you’re writing it down because it’s that important,” so that way the client feels safe, the client feels respected, the client feels heard. Here’s the thing, Mike. Attention? It’s all about being seen and it’s all about being heard and if we can achieve those things, everyone feels so much more deeply respected.

Mike:                       Absolutely, and I think you see this relationship struggle in a lot of spousal relationships that when they’re having a disagreement or a conversation that could become a disagreement, they’re already counter-arguing before the person’s completed the thought, which leads to a horrific argument because then they say, “You didn’t hear the end of what I said because you were already not listening.”

Mike:                       So it’s very common that we see that and I always think to myself, when you exercise this attention skill, if I’m really listening, I’m going to think of what’s a question which is, I love that you gave some examples of that … What’s a question I can ask based on everything they’re sharing with me? So I can’t ask that until the end because they could throw a twist at the end and thinking

Neen:                      That’s right. And think about, you Karen have been married, like forever. Andy and I have been married like, my entire life, pretty much. And so, you know, this year we will celebrate 29 years at the time of recording that we’ve been married. Now when we were first married, we were married very, very young obviously. And one of the things that we did was we also did this marriage counseling course, not because we were going to become marriage counselors, but what we realized is we were the first to get married amongst all of our young friends, and so we had this responsibility in our church community where people coming to us because they will like starting to get married. And we were kind of first.

Neen:                      And so we became marriage counselors. And what was really good about that was this valuable skill of listening, being able to paraphrase and understand if you’re really getting to the heart of everything.

Neen:                      And I think in relationships, you know, we have some guidelines in our house. They’re very simple, but they show respect. For example, my husband and I do a lot of teleconferences. Our clients are often virtual and you know, he travels significantly and so do I. And so we have this guideline that all conversations finish in the garage, meaning if I’m in a teleconference, I will sit in the car and finish the call so that when I walk into the house, if he’s home, I can look him in the eye and say hi, right?

Neen:                      We also have another guideline that says we don’t talk between walls, which means if he’s in the kitchen and I’m in the lounge room, we don’t shout out requests to each other because that’s not very respectful. There’s no eye contact involved and you never hear what people are saying. I don’t try and talk to him while there’s a show on. I wait for a commercial or I asked him to pause or can I have his attention because what I’ve learned is it’s so much more easier if we say to someone, “Hey, I need your attention for a couple moments.” Or, “When you have time, can we talk about this?” And so I think in our relationships, whether it’s with our little people, with teenagers-

PART 1 OF 3 ENDS [00:10:04]

Neen:                      And so I think in our relationships, whether it’s with our little people, with teenagers, with our parents, or with our partners, being able to ask for their attention and tell them it’s important, instead of assuming it’s a good time, assuming they’re ready to hear your question, and then assuming they have time to answer you. I think we have to ask for permission more, and you’re a huge advocate for this with all the work you do with The Date Safe project. You know exactly what I’m talking about.

Mike:                       Yes, well, and I’ve always loved, because you and I have discussed this before, the no between the walls discussion, because I think that’s something that so easy to fall into, and we have fallen into it, Karen and I have fallen into it. I remember you the first time you said that, I said, “That’s brilliant.” Because I’ll often be feeling like that, like I don’t want to talk across the room, or I don’t even want to text while you’re driving home. I want you to talk to me when you drive home. I’m on the road enough. I have enough text conversations.

Neen:                      Right.

Mike:                       I want to have person to person conversation. It means a lot more to me. So I love that. I think that’s a great example. And I love that you talk about the fact that being seen and being heard are so important to paying attention. We always talk about, in the respect world, same with when we talk with corporations and organizations about respect, is this idea of also feeling that they care, right. Because I can listen to you, give you full attention, but that doesn’t mean I’m actually caring about what you say.

Neen:                      That’s true.

Mike:                       I can play the role of paying attention-

Neen:                      That’s true.

Mike:                       … without caring. Caring forces me to think about your feelings, what you’re going through, and to engage with that. Would you agree with that, or … ?

Neen:                      I would. Last night, I was watching the movie Ladybird, and it’s a movie that’s popular at the time of this recording, and there was a conversation between a mother and daughter. They were talking and the conversation was along the lines of paying attention, and she said, “Isn’t love and attention the same thing?”

Neen:                      I think that when you show someone attention, you are caring, because in our crazy, busy, distracted, insane world that we all choose to live in, and in the crazy town that is my head traffic, and everyone else’s, when you add that on top, the very fact that you stop, pause, and pay attention to someone, I think shows a level of care, and I think we can do this more and more every day.

Neen:                      For example, I want to challenge listeners, when they order their coffee, can they look their barista in the eye, use the barista’s name, and thank them for their coffee instead of just constantly … people are just living life like this on their devices, right. When you’re going to pay for your groceries, or you’re paying the toll as you go through, can you look someone in the eye and thank them for the job that they do? When you’re in a restaurant or a café, can you thank your server, look them in the eye, find out their name, use their name in the transaction?

Neen:                      These are all very simple ways to show that you care. I want it to be intentional attention, not transactional attention, and I think what you’re talking about, and playing the role, to use those brilliant words, it’s transactional, right. It’s just you and I, not even really engaging. You sort of feel obliged to do something, whereas I’d rather people move from transactional to intentional attention. That’s what we talk about in Attention Pays.

Mike:                       Well, and that’s why I wanted to bring it up, because there are people who are tactical and they fail to understand the connection. They think, “Oh, I just need to take those steps and then they’ll feel like they’re being paid attention to,” not understanding, no, you have to actually pay attention. You can’t have one without the other.

Neen:                      I also think, Mike, that attention as word gets a bad rap. I think social media and some of the celebrities and personalities who are craving and desperate for attention, I think social media has amplified our attention platform. And so attention as a word really gets a bad rap, and yet, attention as a word means to care for or to notice someone. So when you think about it, I want to make attention a really positive word. I want to start this attention revolution where we start to really pay attention, and it’s okay to want attention.

Neen:                      When you think about this, we crave attention. We learn this skill as a baby, right. We cry, our parents us pick, and then we learn attention. It’s that simple. But I think, over the years, attention gets a bad rap, and I want to really change that for people. It’s okay to want attention. You don’t have to want attention from everyone, just the people who matter to you.

Neen:                      I think that’s a really important thing, too, is if someone you really care about is not giving you the attention that you need, you have to have the courage to say, “This is really important to me.” I think that’s also respecting yourself. It’s respecting what your needs are and having the courage to articulate those to someone else. That takes all kinds of vulnerability, it takes all kinds of bravery, and I know you talk about that in the work that you do.

Mike:                       So if someone’s listening right now, thinking, “Well, this sounds great. My partner needs to be better at this. My co-worker needs to be better at this,” right.

Neen:                      Yeah, it’s always my boss or my partner or my kid, never me. Right, right, right.

Mike:                       Right, it’s like when you read a book, “Oh, I know someone who could use this book.” Well, yes, you probably, right. We’ve all done it-

Neen:                      Sure.

Mike:                       … but if somebody is thinking, “Okay, I’m aware that I need to be better at this and I would like my partner to be better at this,” or, “I’d like my co-worker or my boss to be better at this,” how do you help them ignite the conversation on the importance of attention without talking down, therefore losing attention, or lecturing, therefore losing attention? How do you best case scenario for starting that conversation with someone important to you?

Neen:                      What I found with working with so many of my clients, whether they’re big executives who run billion dollar companies, or entrepreneurs who are a company of one, what we’ve realized in the work that I do with them is very much getting super clear on what it is that they might be missing and what it is they need, and having language that’s not accusing the other person of not doing what they need, but it’s coming from a place of saying, “I really need this.”

Neen:                      If, for example, it was your partner, maybe one of the things to talk about would be say, “Hey, when you have some time, I’d love to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind.” Just seed the conversation. Don’t say, “We need to talk,” because no one wants to hear that, okay. That’s a dangerous phrase. The other thing that is also important in a relationship is know when a good time is to talk. So my honey and I have certain things that we do which are really conducive to talking as opposed to other things, right. It could be that you’re going on a long drive or a walk, so seed it first.

Neen:                      And then say, “Hey, one of the things that I’d really like to talk to you about is how I’ve been feeling about this. I feel this. It’s my feeling, I own it,” right. So, “I feel like there’s times where I want to have a conversation with you but you’re on your cell phone. It would really be important to me if we could stop and have a device free meal.” Or, “It would be really important to me if you could look up because there’s certain things I need from you.” Or, “It would be really helpful to me if … ” And it’s all about me, right. This is what I need. It’s not about you doing something wrong, it’s about me owning why I feel this way. And then coming to some kind of resolution.

Neen:                      I think what sometimes happens is things … let’s take technology for example. Technology is not the enemy of our attention, we are, but we make technology to be the bad guy. Not really, it’s just we, as adults, are the users. I remember once, my husband and I were on this fabulous date and he was on his cell phone. I was like, “Um, I’m much more interesting than your cell phone.” I was joking but I wasn’t and he started to laugh. It was just the default position, I think sometimes we go to, is if we are not active in the conversation, or we think we’re in a meeting and it doesn’t really involve us, we default to our cell phone. We check our email. We check our Facebook status. We go and have a look at what’s happening on Instagram, not because the person’s not interesting, just because they’re not engaging us. We don’t feel a responsibility to be part of that. We have to change this behavior.

Neen:                      So there’s little things. I brought a cell phone with an actual cover, like you’ve got to actually open it up, so I can’t see anything that goes on on my cell phone. I put it in my bag when I drive, so I’m not tempted to have a look at it. In meetings, one of my clients, what they do, Mark, is they have this basket out the front of the conference room. Everyone drops their cell phone in the basket on their way into the conference room so that they can truly engage and brainstorm for whatever meeting that’s about.

Neen:                      I think if you want to have these conversations with your significant other, with your boss, with your teenager, you’ve got to work out what’s important to you and have the courage to articulate why you need that person to see your point of view, and then come to some sort of mutual understanding of what that might look like. And by the way, I’m a work in progress, just like every one of your listeners. I have not mastered this. I feel like it’s a daily thing to choose to pay attention.

Mike:                       What brought you to this path?

Neen:                      I’ve always been obsessed with productivity. I was always the girl in corporate who could get things done, and I always the person who was known to be able to look for very creative solutions to everything. My idea of productivity is off the roof, it’s crazy town, right. Now, I have fabulous ideas. I don’t implement them all, just for the record. So I was always known for someone who could get things done, I was always obsessed with productivity, but what I realized was, you can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention.

Neen:                      So my body of work is very much all around, how do you truly get more done but in a way that makes more sense? I realized the minutes are going to happen, whether you and I like it or not. We both get 1,440 minutes in a day, but your attention, your attention is something you can control. When I realized it wasn’t time I could manage, it was attention, that became the evolution of my work, where I was like, “Huh, as an adult, I can choose who I spend my time with, what I spend my time on, how I spend my time, and then who deserves the attention I have, what deserves the attention that I have, and how am I going to show the world that that’s important?” That was the evolution for me, and so it just made sense that attention was the evolution of productivity.

Mike:                       I have friends who say, “Well, my priority is working out, but I can only get a workout in a week.” That would be an example of not really being honest to what you pay attention to, or what you’re giving your attention to-

Neen:                      Right.

Mike:                       … because you’re saying one …

PART 2 OF 3 ENDS [00:20:04]

Mike:                       Pay attention to or what you’re giving your attention to because you’re saying one thing, but your time does not reflect that. I remember, we have a mutual friend, Sean Stevenson that said, I can tell what your priority is, bar, where you spend your time and your money. Right? The combination of those things.

Mike:                       So a lot of times, we’re lying to ourselves about what we want to pay attention to, not what we want to, but what we are paying attention to. So the real statement should be I don’t give enough attention to working out if I’m only working out once a week. That’s an honest statement. I don’t give the attention to working out that I wish I was giving or that I need to choose to give. And so that’s an important distinction for people. Do you think it’s a common one people struggle with? Well, I care deeply about, that’s where all my attention is, but it’s not, it’s over on these other distractions they have.

Neen:                      Yeah. And I think to what you’re talking about is very much about respecting yourself. Right? So I think one of the things that happens is we articulate what we think people need or want to hear. So if you’re with a friend who’s like insanely healthy and you’re like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I want to work out like every day but oh, I only have time once a week,” because your friend is super healthy and that you’re inspired by them. Well that’s not really respecting yourself. What I’ve also learned, especially as I’ve got significantly older, is that your body has to move. Like you have to put the right things in it. It has to have some sleep. Oh, by the way, you should exercise, right? Whether do you like it or not is kind of irrelevant to respect the body that you’ve been given for this one planet. God gave you one body, like that’s it. Right?

Neen:                      No amount of pills or anything is going to fix that. And so I think what we have to do is show respect to ourself, which also means being truthful with ourself. It is about here is how many minutes I’m going to be awake today. A small portion of those can be allocated to working out. I would rather someone work out for 15 minutes, Mike, than zero minutes, and so I don’t think it has to be like an hour work and I think that’s also the trap that people fall into. They say, “Oh, well if I’m going to go for a run, I need to go run for five miles.” Well, that’s not necessarily the case. One mile is going to be better than no miles. Right? And so one of the things to think about is instead of looking at what everyone else is doing and comparing yourself and looking at what they’re doing, look at what you can manage.

Neen:                      And so you and I both spend a significant amount of time in airports, hotels and convention centers, and you and I have both worked out how to stay healthy on the road, whether it’s hotel room workouts, gyms, running stairs, whatever it is that’s going to help our body move.

Neen:                      So I think what happens is people are often lying to themselves and they have to really take pause and say, “You know what? I have this one body on this one planet. It will only take me a few minutes just to pay attention to it,” whether it’s meditating, yoga, walking. You don’t even need a lot of equipment. You can use your own body weight to do things, and so I would encourage listeners to find something that they actually like. I think that’s the trick too, Mike. You’re doing the workout you don’t like, you’re not going to give it any attention because it’s gonna feel like bleh, but if you find an exercise that actually you look forward to, I think that makes a huge amount of difference because then you will invest your attention.

Neen:                      I think attention is … Like Sean, I can look at someone’s calendar and instantly know what’s important to them because your time and the way you’re investing it tells me a lot about who is important and what is important to you. If you or I have a sick loved one or one of your boys is not well, you’ll drop everything in order to make them a priority because that’s where your attention goes and so the unfortunate thing is often people wait until they get sick or they lose someone they love before they pay attention to what really matters. I don’t want that for your listeners, I want them to start paying attention now to who’s important, what’s important and how are they going to show their attention in the world?

Mike:                       Well, I love that and so going with that, when we talk about where we’re going to show our attention in the world, how respect plays into that becomes important. What we respect, you brought up just now, what we’re choosing to respect, or am I my respecting my body? Am I respecting what my values are? How has respect played a role in your life?

Neen:                      I think for me, respect is multilevel. Having been a corporate girl, I crave respect of my peers. I wanted to be seen as smarty pants. Like I wanted to be known as not just this little, you know, four foot nothing blonde. I wanted to be known for my brain, and so I realized respect was really important to me from my peers, which was through my work product.

Neen:                      I also realized respect from my husband is incredibly important. I want him to respect the work I do and the career that I’ve chosen and who I am in the world. I also realized that respect for me shows up in the way that we take care of the planet. So I’m an Australian as you know, even though I am also an American citizen and growing up in Oz, you just go up recycling like it’s just such a small country. We take care of everything. We eat organic, we take care of the things.

Neen:                      And you know, where I lived was in this tiny, tiny town. I was born in this beautiful tiny little town and my aunt and uncle had a beautiful farm. And so I think because I’d been exposed to that so young, I feel like we also need to respect the environment that we are blessed to live in as well. And that means taking care of those resources and recycling in its simplest way or whatever it is for people. So respect for me shows up in multiple ways. It shows up in my personal life that I want to be able to show respect to others and be thoughtful. I want their respect for the kind of work that I do and who I am on the planet. But I also think it shows up in the way we take care of the planet.

Neen:                      And you know, you don’t have to, you know, be a Greenpeace card [inaudible 00:25:24], Tesla-driving person. I mean, I think they’re a sexy car, but we can all do something really little. You know, we can recycle our paper. We can not use throwaway water bottles.. There’s so many little things we can do to show respect. And I think it just starts with those little ideas everyday of paying attention and being thoughtful as much as you can on a daily basis. To me, respect shows up, I think in lots of different ways.

Mike:                       I love it. And you have a book that in addition to yours that you really enjoy, you really love called Thought Leaders Practice by Matt Church, Peter Cook.

Neen:                      Yes. It’s one of my favorites.

Mike:                       Yeah, it’s a great book. I’ve been fortunate to be able to read it. Great book. What do you love about that book?

Neen:                      You know, I think it’s the Bible for running a practice where you want to run a profitable practice. And so to me, I run a practice, not a business and my distinction is very much that I’m never going to sell Neen James Inc., right? It’s me. I’m it. Right?

Neen:                      And so for me, what it taught me was how to systemize profitability across multiple revenue streams. And so the predominant work that I do is keynote speaking like you, but I also run an executive mentoring practice as well. So those two profit centers, it gave me a really great insight in how I could ensure that I had more manageable cashflow.

Neen:                      The challenge with the lifestyle I’ve chosen and the industry that I’ve chosen is it’s kind of what we call lumpy billing, right? So some months are great, some months are not. And so being able to learn how to have consistency across the different months about putting systems in place to ensure that I’m really doing my best work and that I’m then outsourcing others. There’s so many things. Matt Church also just … I just read his latest book called Next and he’s truly one of the world’s greatest thought leaders, I think. And he’s always looking for the next thing and the future of things. And that book when I read it, was really helping me map the future that I wanted to create. That’s why I love it so much.

Mike:                       Very cool. And everything you’re describing about the practice, being able to set yourself up so there’s an evenness requires a lot of attention to detail.

Neen:                      It does. And it’s exhausting. Let me just be super clear with people. If you choose an entrepreneurial career and this, I feel like our chosen career and this one particularly in the world of speaking, so I choose to stand on a stage for a living. It gets no more vulnerable than that, but it also … There is no greater sense of attention than standing on a stage. It’s not actually about me, though. It’s about how I stand in service of that audience, but my career is attention. My profession is attention. It’s all about attention, but I think attention is about connection, right? And so I think running a business, it’s not my favorite thing to do. Let me be super clear about that. But it allows me to have the lifestyle that I love and so what I’ve also been very good at doing is putting people in around me who are brilliant at attention to detail, right?

Neen:                      I told you earlier, my idea of productivity is great. My execution is not as strong and so I have people in my life who help me get things done and so I built my practice in a way that I can focus on the things I’m really, really good at: speaking, writing and delivering the product that I do.

Neen:                      And everything else, we have people around us who can help us do that. Now, when I first started Mike, I couldn’t afford to do that. It was just me. Right? So if you’re listening to this and you’re just starting on an entrepreneurial journey, believe me, it took a long time before I could pay other people to do things.

Neen:                      So initially I would barter. I would barter their brilliance for my time, so I’d say, “Hey, can you help me set up my QuickBooks? I’ll come train your team on how to be more productive in your practice.” And so I was constantly trading my time until I could afford to write checks for people to pay them for what it is that they do for me. And so I think you just need to get super creative on what you’re going to invest your attention in, in order to get the return that you want.

Mike:                       I love it. Thank you so much, Neen, for joining us.

Neen:                      What a treat. Thanks for having me on your show. I love what you’re doing in the world.

Mike:                       Well, I appreciate that. For everyone listening or watching you could find Neen at NeenJames.com. We’ll also have all the links to her social media, her book Attention Pays, everything, on the show notes.

Mike:                       Thanks again, Neen.

Neen:                      Thanks.

Mike:                       Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Respect Podcast, which was sponsored by the Date Safe Project at datesafeproject.org. And remember you can always find me at MikeSpeaks.com.

PART 3 OF 3 ENDS [00:29:49]

 

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