Some business people are like rock stars: Richard, Warren, Bill, the late Steve—all rock stars.
Why are they like rock stars? Even without the last names, you immediately recognize them.
And just like rock stars, many people dream of being like them.
It’s certainly possible to become a rock star and achieve excellence in just about any field we choose, but excellence comes with a price. Natural talent only takes us so far. Excellence requires incredible focus, massive effort, and an almost superhuman drive and work ethic.
I'm lucky to know a few incredibly talented and successful people. One is a speaker. I once attended five consecutive engagements with him. Even though the basic makeup of each audience was the same, I was surprised by how different his speech was each time. I asked why.
"I've worked and reworked that speech a number of times," he said. "I can give that speech on auto-pilot. In a good way, because I don't have to think about what I'm saying. That frees me up to me read the audience, cover any mistakes I make, adapt to venue or equipment problems, digress when it feels right, and pull the plug on a segment that's not working. All that prep work lets me focus on the audience instead of on myself."
"How many times," I asked, "is a “number” of times?"
"I have a 20 Rule," he said. "I run through a new speech 20 times in my office. Then I do it 20 times in an empty auditorium. Then I do 20 more, one person at a time, begging friends, colleagues, family, and anyone I can get to listen and critique me. Then I pick 20 small organizations and deliver it for free so I can work out the kinks with a live audience. After that I think I'm ready, but it still takes 20 or so real gigs before I feel I'm really on point."
Since his average keynote runs about 70 minutes, that means he typically spends almost a hundred hours rehearsing a speech—after he spent several weeks writing it. Read the complete Inc. article.