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Stories – the ones we tell ourselves and those we tell others – hold incredible power in our world. In this episode, we’re talking to international thought leader and speaker David JP Phillips about how these stories can shape our personal and professional lives.

Phillips teaches us the nuances of effective communication, including how authentically connecting with individuals on a deeper level can unlock a new realm of possibilities. We explore the concept of “synchronicity” in communication and how it plays a role in relationship-building. Phillips also discusses the life-changing value of discovering your ability to alter the course of your own story and how he has personally witnessed this in his own life.

—David JP Phillips

Raw and Real Entrepreneurship with David JP Phillips

Topics covered in the interview

  • David’s first business
  • Seeing value
  • How to start the journey from employee to entrepreneur
  • Finding the courage to shift your narrative
  • How the concept of synchronicity is vital for communication

About David JP Phillips

David JP Philips is a world-renowned communication, self-leadership, and public speaking expert. His work as an author, speaker, and coach has helped countless people transform the course of their lives, earning him recognition as the world’s number-eight best Global Guru in Communication. Many people have discovered Phillips through his multiple TEDx Talks, which have accumulated several million views and counting.

Follow David JP Phillips

Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Susan Sly 00:00
Well, what's up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs, wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day and I have just returned from so many flights, I think I did six flights in six days, living out of a suitcase, speaking for Nvidia, Lenovo, Intel. And it's so interesting, especially in business right now. And the trend is taking a look at not just what is the real value in a business, so your annual recurring revenue or your EBITA, whatever it is, it's, what is the perceived value? And it's the founder of WeWork, Adam Neumann a couple of days ago, he just got and we know, if you saw Netflix, we crashed, that he just got 70 million in funding for his new startup. So it didn't even matter that he had or the perception is that he had somehow decimated that company, they were willing to give Adam $70 million because of the perceived value of what he can bring. And whether you agree with that or not, there's a lot of very interesting trends right now when it comes to business. And there is no one in the world in my humble opinion for whatever that's worth, that is more qualified to talk about business value than my guest today.

Susan Sly 01:21
Welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, the show that dares to bring no nonsense insight to those who have the courage to start, grow and scale a business. I'm your host, Susan Sly.

Susan Sly 01:36
He is an international speaker, author, coach, and global authority on public speaking, communication, thank you, God, because that is so essential, and self leadership. He has recently been awarded the number eight position in the world. Listen to this for being a global guru. And if you aren't familiar with the word guru, what it actually means is bringer of light, in communication. He is best known for his three TED talks, the first one being How To Avoid Death By PowerPoint, because that is not a good way to die, I will say, and The Magical Science of Storytelling, together accumulating over 7 million views. And I loved his TED talk on avoiding death by PowerPoint. Because as someone who creates a lot of PowerPoints, it really was career changing for me, because I start to think about it more, not just about I had to get so many things on that PowerPoint but what were those key messages. So my guest today is David JP Phillips. David, thank you so much for being here.

David JP Phillips 02:39
Thank you, Susan, it is such an honor and a pleasure to, this is the, I love the subject. So any opportunity to bring it out to the world is, it's a treat. So thank you for having me.

Susan Sly 02:52
Well as an expert you know, I would love for people to get to know your story. And so for many of my guests, I will ask them, you know, what was that first business they started. Even that first business as a child, so what was your first business?

David JP Phillips 03:11
My first business was probably finding things at the bottom of a river and fixing them and selling them. Because drunk people threw down bikes and stuff into the river and I just found this hook method and just brought them up and sold them. And it was quite a fortune.

Susan Sly 03:34
Okay, that, I never had that answer before. We've had lemonade stands. We've had mowing lawns, we've had all sorts. That was the first one. What was the most interesting thing you found at the bottom of the river?

David JP Phillips 03:45
A milk wagon, like which you put at the back of your bicycle. It was pretty old. So it took me weeks to fix that. But it caught a pretty penny. So it was worth it.

Susan Sly 04:00
Do you remember how much you sold it for?

David JP Phillips 04:03
Wow. Well, you know, I was 14 at the time. So it was a lot of money. It could have been, I think it was close to 50, 50, $60, which was like, wow, that was fortunate for me at the time.

Susan Sly 04:18
One of the favorite children's books that I used to read my children was a book called Something From Nothing. And it's this essentially this beautiful story of this family during the Holocaust and how they, they you know, they keep losing things and losing things until they have almost nothing and then they're down to this one button that they have from a vest. And it's this, either this appreciation of something that other people would disregard, but how much value it could have. And as I'm hearing your first business, it's no wonder that you are a global expert in this topic because for you to be able to see value, not just in something that you found, I had, you know, Camilita Nuttall was on the show, and Camilita you know, very impoverished family, she used to go to sort through the rubbish and find things and then resell them. But you are taking things at the bottom of the river. And that's just a different lens. You have to be able to see that value. So in your career now, how do you see value in things that other people might discount?

David JP Phillips 05:29
Well, the last seven years, my speciality has gone into storytelling. And there are absolutely awesome studies done on storytelling, one by Rob Walker recently, which showed that just by a story, it was possible to increase the value of an object by close to 6,000%. And that was the only difference. So the object without the story was worth 6,000% less, and whether it was worth 6000% more, and that is insane. And studies like this have been replicated over and over again. So that is, the perceived value of the object is down to the story. And I think that's amazing.

Susan Sly 06:11
I was saying that the, my friend Perry Belcher had referenced that study, and he was doing so from the lens of marketing. So with this show, it is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, so many people would have seen Netflix. So why is it you think these VCs gave Adam Neumann $70 million, even though he almost destroyed a company?

David JP Phillips 06:42
Goes down to trust, you know, it's the story of him. His story is built on connection and trust with other human beings. Otherwise, I don't think it would work. You know, it doesn't matter how good your idea is, if you don't trust the person that you're talking to. And the last study I did was on 5000 public speakers. And I did that, it took me another seven years. And I've found 110 Common skills we all human beings use when we communicate. So for instance, you're nodding your head at the moment, which means that you're fulfilling skill number 82. Well done.

Susan Sly 07:18
I love taking notes.

David JP Phillips 07:19
Yeah. And you're smiling, which is another skill, which is 80. So anyhow, what I found among these skills is that we're something called synchronicity, among five layers when we communicate, and it was facial expressions, gestures, body language, voice, and words. And when a person like him, describes what they want to do, and all these five layers synchronize, you fall in love with those people, you trust them beyond anything. Because people who are not authentic, do not synchronize in all five levels. It's a bit like walking into a room, and you fall in love with a person like their personality, you just know that they have a big heart. And then sometimes you may have felt this, so someone, you walk into a room and suddenly you just feel this weird sensation with this person, and you can't put your finger on it, but just doesn't match, it doesn't add up. And that's usually because the synchronization of these five layers is off. So I think that's a part of it.

Susan Sly 08:22
Let's go deeper into that just for a moment, because I think about who listens to this show. And there, there are many people out there between the great resignation, between this point of self actualization for whether one is a nurse or a you know, a flight attendant, or a police officer, whomever they are, and they're thinking, I want to start a business, but in their mind is, but I'm a teacher, but I'm a nurse, but I may, whoever they are, what is the first step you would give someone who let's say, as they want to start a business, they have had a career for many years, and they know they have to shift the narrative about them in order to shift their mindset from employee to entrepreneur, how do they begin that journey?

David JP Phillips 09:20
I think there's many ways, but from my perspective of communication skills, the stories you're telling yourself are the most important stories in your career, life, whatever you do. If the stories you tell yourself a hero stories, then you can accomplish practically anything. And I went through a long, long, long depression in my life. And I realized that the stories I was telling myself, were horror stories about myself. And what I hear a lot of entrepreneurs do is just tell their own story. So I'd say get your story straight. Sit down and write the story of who you want to be. And then just use that as an affirmation over and over and over again. Because the weird thing with your brain is that it will believe anything that you input it. Anything literally, like people believe in the weirdest things in this world. And that is not based on the meeting a pill or anything, it's just them repeating the same thing over and over again.

Susan Sly 10:21
And thank you for your vulnerability. The aspect of how many people are struggling with mental challenges, and I won't even say illness, but challenges. My own son who listens to the show, every single episode, he was diagnosed as a child on the autism spectrum. And he just turned 20, David, and he is, he had created a story for himself that I have a learning disability, and therefore there are certain things I can't do. And every morning, I send all of my children and my husband, even if my husband's being a bit of a Get up, no, just kidding, we've been together for a very long time. But I send them all uplifting notes. And, and AJ recently embarked on some new projects that challenged him. And initially, there were some tears, there was a lot of frustration. But I watched him begin to shift his own narrative. And I guess the question I have for you is when someone, when you were struggling with depression, because it's so real, and I can feel like a very dark, tiny box that it's very hard to break out of, how did you take that first courageous step to changing your story? Because a lot of people might be listening, and they might say, Oh, my gosh, I am listening to the show for a reason. David is telling me exactly what I need to hear. Because this, these are the the comments that come back. How did you take that first courageous step, especially in such a dark place?

David JP Phillips 11:58
I don't think it's possible to change your story and then get out of depression. What I had to do was increase my serotonin levels and decrease my cortisol levels. And that was the major part of my depression, I had simply stressed my brain into a depressed state. So the first thing I did is something called a stress map, which simply means that you just write down every stress that you have in your life, and you remove or reduce them, with the help of others. And as soon as your stress goes away, your serotonin levels will go up. And then when I done that, my brain was ready to rewrite my stories. And I actually did just what I said to you that I sat myself down, and I looked at the stories I told myself, and I kind of rewrote them, you know, like on paper, and then I just repeated them until they became who I wanted. And I knew I could be because in the best of moments I was that person, I just wanted it to be there more often.

Susan Sly 13:03
And could you share with everyone what were some of those tenants of the new story of David?

David JP Phillips 13:12
I think my life story is, well, it's been shortened. So first of all, I started writing a pretty complex story. But to repeating it over and over again became too time consuming. So I just boiled it down to the smallest elements, which goes something like this, that I want to live in a vibrant place, where I love my family, I love myself and everything that the universe has created. This, in order for me to grow and prosper, so that I can, I can give to others. And that was my just consistent story of myself. And I just pictured this, this story. In my head, I saw everything that universe is created, I felt my family, I saw myself grow and prosper in order to be able to give to others. And that became my story, of my life. And it still is, and the beautiful thing with it is this that every time I take a decision in life, I think this is important as an entrepreneur. And that is that every time I take a business decision, I ask myself, is that in line with my life story? Does it increase the vibrancy of my life? Does it allow me to love myself, my family, my wife and everything that universe has created even more? Does it allow me to grow and prosper and does it allow me to give to others? And if it doesn't, if it matches three out of those four, I'll go. But if it matches, like one, I was walking back from the gym with my son and I pitched this investment with him and to him and stopped me, he was 17, stopped me, and he said David, he said dad, does this, is this in line with your life story? And I said no. And it was the easiest decision I've ever taken to not go ahead with it.

Susan Sly 15:00
David, that was so incredibly moving. And thank you for being so raw and real, because it's, it's often those things that we were, David and I were chatting before the show. And one of the things that we discussed was, for this show, we want you to understand the entrepreneurial journey, and it is fraught with ups and downs, and how you perceive any of those ups and downs is really aligned with who you are, where you're going, and ultimately, your character. And David, as you're sharing that story, one of the things that comes to mind is, because you are a consultant, and very, very successful, and you get to choose at your level that you've attained, not a level in a one upmanship kind of way, but just a wealth of experience, I guess, let's put it that way. In wisdom, you get to choose who you get to work with. But from this process, it sounds to me that a business that is trying to craft a story or a startup that is trying to craft the story, it might embark on a similar process. Would you agree?

David JP Phillips 16:18
Absolutely. Yeah, it is. It is so strange as so many companies and startups, they do, they don't have their story straight. And I've heard that so many times that maybe the founders have it straight. But as soon as they start employing, you start growing, and there's like 20, 25 people in there, they no longer share that story. And those two founders need to be able to tell that story. Because the story at the end of the day is what's going to drive these people and then they'll, they'll do anything if the story is right. If the story is wrong, they'll leave. Like if you work for a company, and a story, which does not add up or doesn't contribute to the world or whatever that person's values are, then you're done. But in the middle of not telling the stories at all, it just, you're not using the momentum of what storytelling can truly bring to an organization.

Susan Sly 17:15
And it's funny, you mentioned that because even going back to Adam Neumann and we work and the story and the vision and there's this scene where his wife, played by Anne Hathaway, is saying you are a supernova, you are a supernova. And it was interesting to watch as more sort of investors came in and they hired their different CT. And there he is in bed, whether true or not true or whatever. And you know, he has to do drugs just to get up in the morning or whatever the case is. But he was a master storyteller. And that story of not what we work was but what it was going to be and all of the employees that came in and bought into the story and to your point, knew the story. The same thing with Apple, why did Apple become the company that it became? Because Steve Jobs was an amazing storyteller and casting the vision. I've met Steve Wozniak, and as lovely as Woz is, and super smart, he was not the person telling the story and casting that vision, David. And as you know, one of the things that I'm going to take away from our show today is at Radius we have gone, recently where I think it, I set out an all team communication with Aykut and I, co CEOs, and there were 86 people on the distribution list. And I went, we had eight people, you know, in 2018, we can't hire people fast enough. And, and we have really been growing the story as we've been going to human centric AI to empowering humans not doing things that would take away from humans. And so we've been growing our story as we've been going, not because we didn't have a story, but because we had to figure out who we are. And do you see that with startups? Is that common? Or are we doing it wrong? I don't know.

David JP Phillips 19:15
No, it is so common just as your life story changes your company stories, it changes and that is still it's just super brilliant. And I love it that you're on top of that, and that you're listening to the new story and creating that new narrative for it and giving that to these 86 people that is just brilliant. I applaud you for that. Too few do that. Truly.

Susan Sly 19:39
Well, thank you. Yeah, it's such a, it's such an interesting process to when, when you know, doing a tech event, okay. Tell us about yourself. And you know, everyone's like, Well, I went to Carnegie Mellon or I went to Stanford. And they're, they're sort of just giving me bullet points, but you don't really know who they are. They're just, you know, life events on a resume. And I've been thinking very deeply about the story of Radius and who we are, where we're going, and what it is we're willing to stand for, especially in artificial intelligence. And, and I'm so grateful for this conversation. And I don't know where gratitude falls in the communication skills, but I hope you feel it, in addition to my words, like my heart is literally bursting, because this is something, when I think about what gets me up in the morning, or what might keep me up at night is, what is it we're willing to stay on for? Even you know, we're very blessed. We haven't, you know, had a lot of criticism yet, but we're small. But as we grow in computer vision, as we grow on a global tech stage, what does that story we're willing to stand for? Right? Do you think, so we know, all know the story of Ponce de Leon, burning the boats, right? Burn the ships, you you're not going back to Spain, there's only one way, you've got to win the war right? Do you think that a person who say a solopreneur or a business, a founder, when they get their story, is that what they should get to that they that's the story no matter what or is the story in evolution?

David JP Phillips 21:24
To begin with, I think you have to be very clear with your stories, and it doesn't work. Your story does not work until you thoroughly believe it yourself. When you thoroughly believe in yourself, that is when a story creates emotion. And emotion is the driving force of everything in life. So strong story will create dopamine. And dopamine is the core neurotransmitter of motivation. And when you believe in a story, you can do this like it'll overcome anyhow. It'll win over everything. You can't just go changing that story over and over again, that'll confuse you. Because it has to become part of you. So I'd advise to use this first story, live with that story until it needs changing when too many parameters or whatever has changed, then you change it. It also very confusing for your staff if you're like, day one, you go like this is the story. And then things happen after day 100. You're like this is the story. And then 150, this is the story. That will be confusing. So I'd say yes, revisit the story, not too often. And every time you revisit it, you have to make it part of you so that you feel it

Susan Sly 22:41
I wrote that down. I feel like it needs to be a coffee mug, a t shirt, a screensaver. Your story won't work until you believe it yourself. That is so good. That could be a New York Times bestselling next book for you. Just a, just a thought. Right? And in the comments for the show, David and I would love, if you please do comment, I read all of the show comments. If this show is helpful to you please share it on social, tag us on social. David and I would love a five star review. Raw and Real Entrepreneurship is really about sharing the skills and the heart that is required to solve, entrepreneurs solve problems. What are the problems we're going to solve that exists today as business owners? And what are the problems that don't yet exist that we're going to solve? Because I believe, David, that the world's, you know, a lot of people see a lot of negativity. But one of the things for me is because I did as a teenager struggle with depression and suicide that I decided, you know, every day I'm going to look for the good, I'm going to look for the positive, I'm going to look for that. As challenging as it is at times. And I really cannot thank you enough for this show. And I know that we're gonna get a lot of amazing comments. So thank you so much.

David JP Phillips 24:04
Thank you so much. Thank you as well. It was so, so awesome to speak to you.

Susan Sly 24:09
New York Times number one best seller 2023. Your story won't work until you believe it yourself. David JP, go to and then go to YouTube. Binge watch. Yeah, and binge watch.

David JP Phillips 24:27
And as well.

Susan Sly 24:29
And Take this away from this episode, write a new story for yourself and write a new one for your business and I'm taking away that is we're actually leaving on a family vacation. David and I am going to be rewriting my own story based on this interview. So thank you for powerfully impacting my life.

David JP Phillips 24:51
You will become unstoppable. Wow. I look forward to that, Susan, thank you so much.

Susan Sly 24:58
Thank you David for being here. And For all of you wherever you are in the world, God bless, go rock your day, and go check out more amazing episodes of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship. So with that, this has been another episode and I will see you next time.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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