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Lessons Learned from a Former Meek Speaker (Project ABC)

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What if…

You could have the confidence to always speak your mind?

You could know exactly what to say in any situation?

You could influence others to follow your advice?

It would literally change your world. I know because I realize what life is like when you lack confidence and are always afraid to speak up, seem to continuously say the wrong things at the worst time, and constantly feel you and your ideas are ignored. I know because the person I just described was me not too long ago.

Six Years Ago…

For most of my life, I was an introvert, shy, and just felt socially awkward. I felt alone. My parents saw I wasn’t making any friends at school and for my 13th birthday, my dad bought me a copy of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

While it would make a cool story to say my life changed overnight from reading Carnegie, my experience was anything but simple. In fact my dad’s gift stayed hidden my bookshelf for a few years until I entered high school. I started reading it after a friend of mine told me, “Davis you are smart and have great ideas to share, but you have no people skills so no one ever takes you or your ideas seriously.”

His comment stung, but he was also right… I wouldn’t have been able to convince a loan shark to take my money if I wanted to (that’s an extreme example, but you get the point).

Long story short, I started reading Carnegie and soon others books about developing confidence and social skills. I learned a lot, but didn’t notice a change, because I didn’t have much opportunity to practice.

One day, I saw an opening for a local public speaking competition and decided to enter. “I have nothing to lose” I said to myself and ironically I won with hours of practice in front of the mirror. Afterwards, I started looking for more opportunities. I joined more clubs, attended more conferences, and participated in more public speaking competitions.

Gradually I could see myself changing for the better and feeling happier about myself. I no longer felt alone. At the same time my confidence and communication skills increased, so did my number of friends and happiness. Oh yeah, and there were also some state and national public speaking awards, but those were just a byproduct of my desired outcome never my goal. I loved the new me: I was still an introvert; I just knew how to connect with people better.

Ten Months Ago…

In college, I was surprised to find that there were other students who were just like me in high school: smart but had trouble getting others to listen. Even at a place like Yale, there were students who were hard workers and great scholars, but felt they were poor communicators. My freshmen year I enrolled in a leadership workshop and during my sophomore year was asked to co-teach that same workshop for students who wanted to become better leaders and communicators. I looked forward to class each week.

Around the same time I started teaching the leadership workshops, I started a blog [www.findmymotivation.com] about setting goals and finding the motivation to accomplish them. A few months in, I started to receive emails from people about their goals, it seem a common theme was a lot of people wanted to be more confident and better communicators: public speakers, leaders, assertive at work, etc. My readers who had goals of being better communicators all considered themselves shy or introverted.

I make the hard decision to stop Find My Motivation and started another; this one was more focused with the goal of empowering people to grow their confidence and voice. That’s how Speak for the Meek [www.speakforthemeek.com] was born: out of a common problem: people want to know how to handle other people.

How I Came to Join the Audience Business Masterclass

Over Christmas dinner, I told Tina, my girlfriend, about my idea for the blog (she picked the name and logo). A few weeks later, Tina was watching a webinar hosted by Mary Jaksch of Write to Done which featured Mirasee’s own Danny Iny. As soon as the webinar was over and the traditional sales pitch half started, Tina called me while I was on a train by back to Yale and said, “You have to enroll in his class.”

“I don’t have $600 to spend.”

“I think you’ll get a lot more out of this experience.”

Tina knows I have a college student budget, but when she gives me advice, I listen and don’t doubt her. As soon as my train arrived in New Haven and I was in my dorm, I immediately enrolled in the Audience Business Masterclass. In the back of my mind: “I hope this is really worth it.”

What I’ve Learned from the Audience Business Masterclass

Much of the content, I felt could have been easily googled such as writing epic shit, figuring out where to guest post, and how to create effective landing pages, but most of the value I received from the ABM wasn’t just from our weekly lesson, but from applying Danny’s advice and receiving Megan’s support.

I found these five lessons to be important as I was working on Speak for the Meek that I will apply to future blogs, businesses, and areas of my life.

1. Tim Ferriss Wasn’t an Overnight Success

When I first read about bloggers such as Leo Babauta, Sibyl Chavis, and Scott Dismore, I couldn’t help but wish that the same lucky star that crossed their paths could fall on mine as well. Each of them have such a huge a community of loyal readers that their success seemed to happen overnight. It is as if they hit “publish”, went to sleep, and woke up to 10,000+ new subscribers.

But the more I read and talk to them about their experiences the more I could see how hard they worked to earn their loyal following. Nothing was given to them, they worked for years to build their communities. I learned to apply the same mentality in my work. Just because my emailing list doesn’t name 10,000 names doesn’t mean it won’t one day. I have to believe that what I’m reaching for is there, I just have to work smart and have patience.

2. No One has Time; You have to Make Time

I am a full-time student, put 20 hours each week into ABM, workout an hour each day, lead 4 student organizations on campus, have 1-2 hour meals with friends twice a day, and sleep 9 hours each night. I am using a time management secret I learned in high school.

Want to know it?

It is simple: Do What You Say You Will Do.

Why do you have time to brush your teeth, shower, and go to the store? It is because they are important and you make time for them.

On any given day we have hundreds of little things we can be doing. Out of those things, only a handful are priorities to us and we do them. The rest are forgotten until they become urgent and important.

Block out time. When 10:00pm hits, I am in bed. When 7:00am arrives, I am in the gym. You will find eventually that whatever you want to do as part of your routine.

3. Who Has Your Back?

Two women have made my journey more bearable: Tina and Megan. There were weeks when I could watch the 20 minute lesson, re-watch it, and complete the homework with two hours. Then there were most weeks. 😉

Several times when I was trying to figure out my ONE person or first impression incentive, Megan was there to give me much needed and honest feedback. For both elements we went through at least one iteration a day for two weeks. Tina and I did the same. When I had a bad idea, she never failed to tell me. Megan and Tina’s honest and concise feedback and support have been invaluable to me. While you could do everything yourself, having people in your corner is both nicer and more fun.

If you take anything away from this post – make it this: Have people around you that are invested in your success, and can help you when you need it.

4. Who Do You Know?

To grow your business or blog you need people to help you along time the way. Remember that there is no self-made millionaire: everyone had someone. One of the advantages of guest posting is that you can drive more traffic and get more subscribers onto your site, but another often undervalued benefit is that you form a relationship with bloggers. These bloggers, even if they have less experience and traffic then you can help you connect with other bloggers, offer you more guest posts, or even become your next venture partner. It is more than just networking with other blogger, it is about forming meaningful relationships.

5. Love what you are doing

There are days when I am working on Speak for the Meek for hours at a time. I could be designing the homepage from lunch to dinner just to toss it out as another iteration, but I never feel the hours I put in were wasted. I love what I am doing. This has been so important. If you don’t love what you’re doing why are you doing it? One of my favorite quotes is from Alan Watts, my favorite modern-day philosopher, “Better to have a short life that is full of which you like doing then a long life spent in a miserable way.”

The true value of the Audience Business Masterclass has come from being able to apply what I learned. Reading about landing pages and actually doing it right, are two different things.

Where I am today

While my blog is getting ready to launch in August, I am giving away my free e-book, “Get Anyone to Say Yes” to early subscribers to get them started on the road to being more confident.

One thing I am doing to spread Speak for the Meek and see if this is something worth pursuing is teaching a live semester long weekly confidence and communication workshop series this Fall at Yale.

The idea for the workshop came as I was teaching another leadership development class last year. The only difference is that the one I will be teaching will be aimed at helping empower students who consider themselves shy or quiet and who want to be better communicators.

I recruited a few of my friends who believed in the mission of Speak for the Meek to help. We already have a waiting list. 🙂

Can I get your help?

As I am developing my workshop in the Fall, I wanted to ask the Mirasee family for some help and advice.

What books, blogs, and resources would you recommend to your friends and family members who want to improve their social, communication, or people skills?

About Davis Nguyen

Davis Nguyen (@IamDavisNguyen) is an introvert on a year-long journey connecting with 52 role models he has never met and learning how to form deep, meaningful relationship with strangers. Ever wanted to learn how to connect with the authorities in your niche? Follow him at DavisNguyen.com.

27 comments

  1. David L. Tong says:

    Excellent, excellent story and summary about your experience with ABM. Your attitude is something most of us should look up to and like what Mike (Martel) mentioned, the thought of starting businesses (and blogs) with the purpose of helping other succeed is so much more rewarding and motivation than “make a quick buck”.

    Signed up to your mailing list BTW. I love public speaking stuff. Your LP is very nice BTW.

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your friend request. I know you’re very active in the FB group, I see your name everywhere!

      I love your LP as well. It is very slick and straight to the point.

      I would love to stay connected.

  2. Mike Martel says:

    Davis,
    Thanks for sharing your story. It is a great example for everyone out there that you don’t have to have a marketing or sales angle to be a successful blogger.

    The idea that you can do self development on yourself, help others in the same circumstances and make a little too is fantastic. It really shows what the potential of the Internet is and what you can do.

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Mike.

      I count the internet on my list of blessings every day. Imagine had we been born earlier we wouldn’t have access to everything we do today and our kids/grandkids will probably say the same thing in their time.

  3. Mohammed Sherman says:

    Ok, let’s be honest. Most of us use social media at least once a day. Many of us use it a few times every hour even! Did you know you didn’t have much of a chance resisting apps like Facebook, Pinterest and others once you started using them? It wasn’t your fault though. You didn’t know that an actual addiction was developing. Yeah, you heard that correctly, an addiction!

  4. Jim Bessey | SoWriteUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Yours is an inspiring story, Davis!

    For my own reasons, I really appreciate your lesson about “Time.” I struggle with this every day.

    It was Mary Jaksch who sent me to my first ABM webinar, too. Talk about a trustworthy referral! And oddly enough, it was my wife Lin who insisted I should go ahead and sign up. “You can make this happen!” she insisted.

    My wife was also very active in Toastmasters, in order to overcome her own shyness. Lemme tell ya, they showed her exactly how to speak her mind! (grin)

    It’s great to meet you here, Davis. Fun to learn so much more about your Journey. Best of luck to you as you make your dreams real.

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Jim,

      I’m so glad we have supportive partners (who also speak their mind)!

      I would love to stay in touch Jim and help each other along our journeys.

      – Davis

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Thanks Lisa.

      I look forward to staying update with you as well. I love your mission of helping people find loves in their lives. It is a beautiful thing.

      – Davis

  5. José Luis says:

    Hi Davis,
    Great post – congratulations !!!
    Thank you very much for sharing so much about you – I truly appreciate it.
    I also agree with you about Megan – she gives so much value.
    And – what would I recommend?
    Two things – I would recommend two things …
    “Just do it” & “Practice makes perfect”
    This is it.
    Thank you very much again.
    Cheers …

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Thanks José,

      I checked out your site. Communication and Leadership are very closely related. I hope we can work out a project together in the future.

      – Davis

      1. José Luis says:

        Absolutely – communication is a leadership tool.
        What do you mean by “we can work out a project together in the future”?
        What kind of project do you have in mind?
        Please let me know.
        Thanks …

  6. Amandah says:

    Hi Davis,

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    I recommend reading anything by Dr. Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Napoleon Hill, Jim Rohn, Jack Welch, Brenee Brown, and other thought leaders.

    If you want to become a better communicator, it’s best to start from the insides out. Figure out why you’re not a good communicator. Is it hereditary? You never know. You could descend from a long line of introverts; maybe you learned to be an introvert. Maybe the people in your family, or even your friends, are not great communicators. Examine everything from your environment to DNA.

    You have to the power to overcome anything. 🙂

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Hi Amandah,

      Thanks for your words of encouragement. Your prose is nicely written. You are truly a “savvy writer” 😉

      – Davis

  7. Nicola King says:

    Hi Davis

    Great post! If I was helping people with confidence and persuasion I’d definitely direct them to watch Olivia Fox Cabane’s videos on YouTube. Also to join Toastmasters International. Both of these have helped me a lot.

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Hi Nicole!

      Thank you for your great suggestions. I am a Toastmaster and haven’t heard of Olivia Fox Cabane’s videos. I will know through!

      Good luck with the launch of dailylight bloggery!

      Let me know if I can help in anyway.

      – Davis

  8. Davis Nguyen says:

    Hi Adrianne!

    I hope everything is going well with your Audience based business. I can see from your blog that the comments are coming in for you! I know you worked hard for them. I can tell you are great at what you do. Your headlines each make me want to click to know the “secret”.

    Thanks for taking the time to give me feedback. I remember looking at Where to Draw the Line, (the cover art caught my attention). I didn’t get a chance to read it but with the summer coming along I definitely will.

    – Davis

  9. Adrianne Munkacsy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Davis, I love the name of your blog (and your eBook). And this made me smile: “There were weeks when I could watch the 20 minute lesson, re-watch it, and complete the homework with two hours. Then there were most weeks.” I can relate!

    I think if you can find a good book or resource about boundaries it would be a good addition to your workshop. For some people communication can be difficult if they don’t have the tools to say no or respond to conflict in a healthy way. Years ago, I read Where to Draw the Line: How to Set Healthy Boundaries Every Day by Anne Katherine. I think it was pretty basic, but it was an easy read and might be worth checking out.

  10. Davis Nguyen says:

    Hi Horace!

    I see you around a lot in the FB group. How is Rapid 180?

    I’d love to connect more closely. You are right, that once you have a goal in mind the only thing that can stop you is yourself. 🙂

    – Davis

    1. Horace says:

      I just started to build the overall foundation yesterday. 🙂
      Quite fun. More I do, more I become clear how it will be.
      Launching the site in July.

      I will be doing 2 sites.

      Let’s see how it go. Maybe we can work together.

      Catch up soon!

  11. Horace says:

    Hi Davis,

    Let’s talk more in the FB Group. 🙂

    I am an introvert as well. Everyone around me think I am extrovert.
    Many things I had learnt to be flexible and aware on what need to be done for the right results I want to achieve.

    The most important lesson will be to know what u really want and do whatever it take to achieve it. All the answers will show up in front of you. The only question, are you ready to take the challenges to know the answer. 🙂

    Have fun!

  12. Yoshiko Nue says:

    Hi, Davis. It’s a great post. I completely agree with you about Megan! (And you are very lucky to have a girlfriend like Tina.)

    My husband and I read Oren Klaff’s “Pitch Anything.” What it talks about is a notch above simple communication; yet still about effective presentation and persuasion techniques specifically in business settings. They can be applied in any situation in life. Our number 1 take away from this book is the removal of neediness in communication.

    1. Davis Nguyen says:

      Hi Yoshiko,

      I hope everything is going well with your first-impression incentive!

      I LOVE your suggestion. I’ve ordered the book and will be reading it tis summer.
      I think knowing how to present and get to the point is so important no matter if you are an introvert or extrovert.

      Thank you (Tina is the best thing to have ever happened to me). 🙂

      – Davis

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