NMP - April 2017 - 74
special focus on LEADERSHIP
a special focus on LEADERSHIP
Shut Up and Follow the
Communication By Jerome Mayne
e've all sat
qualified to speak on their topic.
You know it's true because it says
so right there in the program. Their
impeccable credentials are listed
after their name: Professor, Expert,
Ph.D., MBA, ABCDEFG, Grandpoo-bah ... but they might as well
be speaking "Wah-Wah."
You walk out of the presentation
learning absolutely nothing. You
are no better-in fact you're worse
than you were before you went in.
Your IQ dropped a bit in those
past 45 minutes and you walk
around bumping into stuff.
Are you this speaker or this
presenter? Have you ever given a
talk or led a meeting and watched
your group leave covered with
stupid and confusion? If you have,
it's okay ... there's hope.
Connecting with your group is a
skill that can be learned.
To set up the concept I am
discussing, the speaker is
ultimately supposed to be leading
the audience while the audience
follows along. You follow?
Years ago, before I was a
professional public speaker, I got
involved in stand-up comedy. I
started by going to open stage
nights (where new comedians go
to try out their stuff). Some
comedians were very concerned
about the exact wording of their
material (also called "bits,"
comedians don't call them "jokes"
any more). Over the course of
several open stages, over several
weeks, they would deliver their
material every which way-
sometimes just changing two
words from one night to the next.
APRIL 2017 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n
Good comedians eventually learn
that it isn't their material that
needs adjusting. It is their delivery
and their ability to read the
They come to realize that,
regardless of how good their
material is, they were able to
connect better when they listened,
watched, and adjusted to the
feedback from their followers-the
audience. They learned to lead by
On the other end of the
spectrum, some comedians take
the stage and spew out their
brilliant material without paying
attention to how the audience is
receiving them. They get
frustrated from night to night
because, even though their
material is solid, they don't get
laughs. They don't lead well,
because they don't follow.
Much of leadership
communication is about
following-or at least paying
attention. Any audience, large or
small, is living and breathing, and
they will move and change right in
front of you. You need to follow
their ebb and flow, and have the
humility to accept the fact that
they are being honest. They are
giving you feedback in real-time.
In comedy, the feedback is
obvious, the sound of laughter or
the sound of crickets.
Keep in mind ... most members
of an audience are not forced to
be there. Even if they were, they'd
prefer to get something out of it.
The people in your group want
you to succeed. They want to
connect and follow, but it's not
their job to do that. It's yours.
More than 70 percent of my
speaking business involves telling
my story about getting involved in
a white-collar mortgage fraud
conspiracy in the 1990s, and the
consequences that followed (just
in case you're wondering ... it
didn't end well). Specifically, I am
hired to speak because I have a
story that my clients feel will have
a profound impact on their
employees or association
members. My goal is make sure
the audience feels what I felt when
critical, life-changing decisions
needed to be made in impossible
situations. My job is to bring them
with me. So, I listen and watch the
whole time to make sure they are
coming along on my journey. If I
am not doing this, I am not
following them at their pace. I
know it's not their job to keep up.
So I do my job, I lead-by
a special focus on
It might sound that slowing
down is the key to making sure
the follower is following. This
however, is not the exclusive
method. When I speak in front of a
real estate or mortgage industry
group I often have to speed up,
because they usually understand
the mechanics of purchase
agreements and loan programs.
But if I'm speaking at an insurance
conference, they don't deal with
Fannie Mae guidelines, so I've
learned to follow and lead at a
These principles don't just apply
to professional public speakers in
front of large audiences. They also
apply when you are in front of a
small group running a meeting or
giving a presentation or sales
pitch. The focus is on them, not on
their brilliant PowerPoint.
I am not there to simply talk
through a list of experiences in
chronological order. If that were
the case, my client could just buy
the book. It would save them a lot
of money (not that writing isn't a
skill on its own). The story only has
impact if I get the audience to see
the world through my eyes by
watching, listening and adjusting.
When I owned my mortgage
broker company back in the
1990s, I would invite wholesale
reps to my weekly meetings. The
purpose was twofold. The first
reason was that I got free training
for my employees. By having the
rep talk about their loan programs,
my people were exposed to the
mechanics of guidelines and
qualifying criteria-and new loan
programs. This gave them a wider
breadth of knowledge, which
would allow them to prospect to a
larger group of consumers, and
therefore, more closings
The second reason I had the
reps come to my meetings was
the free doughnuts. It always
amazed me how some of the reps
would present their loan programs.
They simply handed out sheets
that listed their current rates and
terms. And then read them!
It was the rep's job to lead ... to
make that connection, not my
employees'. Think this through.
These meetings took place on
Monday mornings. Loan officers
came in groggy from the weekend.
This wasn't too difficult to
observe. However, 90 percent of
these wholesale reps simply read
their awesome programs, as if it
was my employees' job to
comprehend and be interested in
what they had to say.
The reps didn't listen to their