World of Speakers E.108: Chris Barton | The Disruptive Thinking and Speaking
Ryan Foland speaks with Chris Barton. An Innovation Keynote Speaker and the Founder and Creator of Shazam, the app that changed the way the world discovers music. He holds 12 patents and played key roles in the early days of Google and Dropbox.
In this episode of our podcast series, Ryan and Chris talk about adding emotions to the humor to bring the audience in and keep them attached while speaking in public.
Tune in for an interview full of ideas and tips on connections, vulnerability, and stories.
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Welcome to the World of Speakers podcast, brought to you by SpeakerHub. In each episode, we interview a professional speaker and reveal their very best tips and tricks. You'll learn to improve your presentation skills, keep your audience engaged, and learn how to grow your business to get more gigs and make more money. Here's your host, Ryan Foland.
Ryan Foland: Ahoy, everyone. We are back with another episode of the World of Speakers, where we go across the world to find people who are speaking. We learn about their story. We learn about their best practices when it comes to speaking and how they build their business.
And today, I would have to say, we are in for a treat. Today's guest is Chris Barton. He is the founder of Shazam, that app that you use to find the song that you need to know what it is. He's also an inventor, and he's a cinematic keynote speaker. Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris Barton: Thank you. Thanks, Ryan, for having me.
Ryan Foland: Cinematic speaker. I like that. When you said that initially, I was like, "Ooh, that sounds good." Tell me a little bit more about that, and then we're going to jump into a story that shaped you.
Chris Barton: Yeah. Well, I realized that, as I developed as a speaker, I always would hear these tips of how to make it entertaining and engaging for the audience. And a very common one that you hear is integrating humor, getting good laughs, and so on. And I like doing that. I integrate humor. But I thought that I also drawing out emotions. Because imagine that you watch a movie, right? A very memorable movie. I mean, sure, you might watch a great comedy, but you also might watch a movie that almost brings tears to your eyes because it's so powerful emotionally. And so, I realized that's the natural thing that I'm gravitated towards is a little bit of that as well, a little bit more of the emotions in addition to the humor as a way to really bring the audience in and keep them attached. Because there are real emotions tied into the story of what I went through in creating Shazam from scratch, the app that's been downloaded two billion times.
And so, as I did that, as I got into the story of the emotions, I also realized that, of course, Shazam is an app for identifying songs. So it logically it makes sense to include music. And as I included music, I thought, "Well, how am I going to include music other than just walk on music?" And then I realized maybe a little bit of video. And I mean, not large amounts of video, but small amounts of video with music. And so, I have some of that interspaced through the experience. And so, that's why I think of it as a cinematic experience because it's the use of this video with powerful music that I like that's interweaved with the whole story that creates a cinematic-like experience in the keynote and therefore is able to draw that emotional kind of response from the audience even more.
Ryan Foland: Awesome. And also probably taps into the willing suspension of disbelief, which is what, as a speaker, we want the audience to tap into. It also makes me think of the James Bond start. Josh Linkner, who's been a show guest here and a friend of mine and a fellow speaker. Have you heard of the James Bond start when it comes to speaking?
Chris Barton: Oh, absolutely. I know Josh well. Actually, Josh, I think he was trained by a speaker coach named Nick Morgan that I also work with. And so, actually, when Josh talks about the James Bond start, that's actually coming from Nick Morgan, who's an amazing speaker coach, and author about speaking.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, Nick is great. We've had him on the show as well. So we're all part of this crazy world of speakers.
Chris Barton: We are. We are. I love the James Bond start, and another way of phrasing it is, "What's that moment of jeopardy?" And so, I actually ended up, with Nick's coaching, really trying to draw out and think, "Well, what is my moment of jeopardy so I can start out with with that jeopardy at the beginning to really capture the attention?" just like a James Bond movie would or a great novel that you might read.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, a little in medias res, for sure. Well, let's take two steps back. We just took a step forward, we're going to do the Paula Abdul here, and let's talk about a single story from your past that shaped you. The reason we do that is stories are how we get to know each other, and that's way cooler than just reading a bio. So what's a story that shaped you from your past? You can pull off of the record shelf, put on the old spinner and play it for us.
Chris Barton: Yeah. Well, one just immediately just came to mind. It's not the one that I was going to use, which would have been a little bit more about having dyslexia, and I actually tie that into my keynotes because it helped me figure out how to think differently. But rather than talking about that one, I'll just talk about this one from when I was in... It was ninth grade, I believe. I was taking math, and I generally was pretty good at math. But also, all courses were difficult for me, including math, because of my dyslexia. So dyslexia, people think it just affects reading, but it actually affects many courses because you're having to interpret and bring in information, and that's more challenging for people with dyslexia.
And so I was taking a math course, an advanced math course because it was one of my strengths, in ninth grade, and I was really worried. I was really absolutely terrified because I felt completely lost. I mean, you know how math, it just moves at a fast pace. And so, suddenly you're into some new thing. I think we were getting more into the advanced algebra and there were just so many letters all over the place and equations moving around, and it really just threw me for a loop. I felt so lost. And I went from thinking, "Wow, I'm good at math," to suddenly thinking, "I'm completely lost. I'm going to fail this." I literally felt I was going to fail. And I remember thinking, yeah, I was about to fail the exam.
I went to the bike rack one day and I was locking my bike and I just happened to see my teacher, the math teacher, in the bike rack that one morning, just a day or two before the exam. He was also the vice principal, by the way, of the school. He was a very scary guy, ex-military guy. And he said, "Hi, Chris. How are you doing? You ready for that exam?" And I said, "Look, Mr. Campaign, I'm actually terrified. I really think I'm going to fail this. I'm so sure I'm going to fail. I just have no idea what's going on." And he said, "Chris, I'll tell you what, I'll cut you a deal. I'll guarantee you a C right now, or you can just see how you do. Which one do you want?"
Ryan Foland: Wow.
Chris Barton: And I was like, "Oh my." I just thought for a moment. And my tendency was thinking, "Wow, that's really attractive, the guaranteed C." But I was someone that always strived for the great grades and so on. So at the same time, I thought, "Well, there's no upside in that." And I thought, "Wow, that really makes a statement that he believes in me." And that, obviously, was the takeaway, right? Believe in yourself. He believed in me. And believe in yourself. And so, I declined the guaranteed C, despite all my fears of failing, and I went with for the, "I'm going to see how I do." And I definitely exceeded the C. I can't remember what it was, but it was an A or a B. And it was such a lesson to me, that moment of just, "Believe in yourself," that he handed me.
Ryan Foland: That's awesome. Yeah, I've heard, I don't know exactly the person who said it, but I remember it, the concept around story and how important it is, and that life's all about stories, the stories you tell everyone else and the stories you tell yourself. And that just came to mind where if the story you're telling yourself is that you're going to fail, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because cognitive dissonance is a real thing. Evolutionarily, we want to be right. And so, if we think we're going to fail, all the data that we see, we parse it out and we only take the data that reinforces our hypothesis. And so, this idea can be called limiting beliefs or self-talk or affirmations, but there's so much power in that. And it's interesting how somebody else helped you to identify that but with allowing you to make the decision.
Chris Barton: Yeah, it really is. Yeah. And it was so memorable. I mean, I can still remember every moment of that experience, imagine, from being whatever it was, 14 or 15 years old. It's like it was yesterday because it was such a pivotal moment in my life.
Ryan Foland: Now, have you always been one to use the form of speaking as a way to communicate? Has that been a strength for you?
Chris Barton: I would say that a strength has been, yeah, communicating with people, and being convincing is a skill that I had from a very young age to the point where my parents used to say, "You should be a lawyer one day." But I was not a public speaker for most of my life, getting up in front of audiences. That I sort of just fell into on accident about 10 years ago.
Ryan Foland: Well, I'd argue that if you speak in public, then you are a public speaker. It's a scientific fact that you cannot argue either. There's a story that I have so many people tell themselves, that they're not a public speaker. And so I simply go, "Okay. Have you spoken in public today?" And they get really confused. It's like they don't understand, like, "No." "Have you spoken in public today?" And they go, "Yeah." "Well, then, you're speaking in public. Get over it." That's the one thing that I think holds people back in the very beginning is not giving themselves credit because asking questions, having conversations with people, it's all technically public speaking. Maybe it's just me being cheeky.
Chris Barton: Yeah, that's true. No, it is. And the other thing I find fascinating is when I read about different speakers, there's so many that are introverts. And you think, "Why would an introvert be the person that gets up on stage in front of a large number of people?" But I think it's a big statement of you don't have to be this gregarious, loud person to be someone that gets on stage. You can get into a certain mindset, almost like going for a run where you're meditating, and then you get into this mode where you're delivering this amazing speech, even if you are an introvert.
Ryan Foland: I think back to what you said about the idea of emotions being involved in stories and storytelling and what it is. If you look at the introvert versus extrovert, that's really external. But if you just take people in general, they are emotional, they go through emotions, they might just share it differently. So when I hear of somebody being introverted and being a speaker, I initially go back to thinking of like, "Wow, their life experience, some of the things that they've had, it's less about them, it's more about the audience." And it's like that courage, them believing in themselves enough to know that they're going to help others believe in themselves, really, at the end of the day. So I think that's cool.
Chris Barton: Yeah.
Ryan Foland: Now, speaking of speaking, this is a great way to transition, I love to hear best tips and tricks when it comes to the art of communication. Now, it doesn't have to necessarily be the stage, but it all ends up on the stage. I know that you mentioned you've been working with Nick and you've been working with Josh, and I'm sure you're somebody who is taking in all this information, but you might have some stuff that you've created, to go back to mathematics, the derivative of something that Nick says, or a certain function or algorithm that you've put together with your inputs. If you were to be the math teacher, Mr. Campaign, and you were to help us who maybe have a test that's coming up, a speech test, and maybe some of our audience don't necessarily believe in themselves enough to go for that possible chance of them getting the A or B, how can we guarantee people a C but also give them the chance to get out there when it comes to speaking? So I know it's a weird little stitched analogy there, but I see it adding up together.
Chris Barton: Yeah. So what is my little insight, my little tip, whatever, for speaking?
Ryan Foland: Let's come up with an algebraic function or an algorithm, okay, around how to communicate emotions on stage. All right? So we'll give a lane there, because I really like this idea of emotions and how, I mean, like you said, music and all these things become involved with it. So if you were going to do a function of F of X equals-
Chris Barton: Yeah. Okay. Got it now.
Ryan Foland: ... it's going to be a certain equation.
Chris Barton: Yeah. Right. This is great. Okay. Well, the equation, it has-
Ryan Foland: Let's go with a couple like F of X equals something plus or minus something, one over something. So let's get some of these core components, and then everybody can tweak the algorithm for themselves.
Chris Barton: All right. That's right. So I'm going to say achieving this sort of emotional connection is a function of connection plus vulnerability times stories.
Ryan Foland: Ooh, all right. So I've got F of X equals S with a parentheses C plus V.
Chris Barton: Yeah.
Ryan Foland: That's good. There we go.
Chris Barton: Okay. Yeah.
Ryan Foland: All right. So let's break this down a little bit. Now, let's talk about inside the parentheses, because that's what we do first before we multiply if we're going through the chain of, I don't know, whatever you call it, but the chain of mathematics, right? So let's talk about the connection and let's talk about the vulnerability and how they're added together for a multiplier.
Chris Barton: Yeah. And so, by the way, just to slightly revise that equation, it's going to be C plus S times V. So C plus S times V. So the C is the connection. And on the connection, I believe that basically what you're doing is, I mean, sure, you display a certain personality and openness and so on with the audience, but what you're trying to do is display your warmth, display how connected they can feel to you. And so, the way I achieve that connection is a moment of being with the audience, with a member of the audience really up close. So it doesn't mean I'm spending a whole bunch of time with a bunch of audience members. And actually, I thought deeply about all this interaction with the audience that different speakers use, but I felt like from my cinematic experiences, it didn't feel appropriate. I thought, "The more I end up towards a workshop experience, the less cinematic and emotional I'm going to be."
So I didn't want to go that direction, but I did want to have a moment of being close to an audience member. So I actually go down into the audience and I spend a moment explaining Shazam, actually, the app, to an audience member who's not familiar with it. Because in any large audience, whatever it is, 100 or 1,000 people, there'll be some percentage that have never used Shazam, of course. And so, I do that. And I don't try to do something of like, "Now everyone do this in the audience and everyone think of something." I don't do any of those kind of things, I call it the workshop stuff, because it just doesn't feel right for me. But I do spend a moment with this person in front of everyone connecting on what Shazam is, how it works, and how they feel about it when they see it for the first time.
And what that entire little experience is, and it's not long, it might be less than a minute or two, it creates this connection because I'm connecting with that person. And this is the thing that Nick Morgan pointed out to me is that that has a butterfly effect. Because the whole audience is witnessing me being warm and connected with one person, they absorb that warmth. Does that make sense? So even though they didn't experience it, I didn't stand right next to every audience member, but they watch it, and then it has this butterfly effect where they absorb it. So that's the connection part. It's-
Ryan Foland: Okay. So I have a couple questions on that, some technical stuff, because we're talking mathematics. This is great by the way. Logistics. So in my mind, there's a couple questions that I thought of like microphones. Your mic, maybe with a lapel mic. So do you have a microphone with? Do you have your physical phone? Are you using their phone? You say you're going down into the audience, but how do people physically see them? Talk to me through those because that's where I think people's minds might go.
Chris Barton: Okay, I like that. Yeah. Well, actually, so I'm a big believer, in fact, it's a part of my core content, I'm a big believer in eliminating friction, making things seamless and making it as easy as possible. So if you have to use their phone, if they have to install an app, if they have to get a microphone and have them have a microphone, just all that is a headache. It's too much friction there. So I just use my own microphone, whatever it may be. It could be the... What's this called, the something Journeyman?
Ryan Foland: Journeyman. Yeah, it's called a Journeyman.
Chris Barton: Yeah, Journeyman, or it could be the lapel microphone. Frankly, it's most important that they hear me. They do get picked up because they're standing just a couple of feet away from me or sitting a couple of feet away from me. So I've noticed it does pick up their voice adequately, but it's not like they're core a part of... All you're really hearing is, "This is how it works." So there's not much. You're just hearing how they respond. But I use my own phone. And so, what I'm doing is I've got a mirrored experience. So there's my own phone, which they're seeing, and then there's the PowerPoint up on the screen, which everyone else can see. And so, I don't rely on a camera being really up close to see my phone and so on, because that would also create headaches and uncertainties and friction.
So basically, what I do is I have a slide that shows Shazam up on the screen, and then I also have Shazam separately launched on my phone. And then I say to the person, "Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to identify a song in front of you." And so, I then click play on the screen, and everyone in the entire audience sees then the PowerPoint, essentially a demo of Shazam, live demo. And of course, part of a live demo is loud music. But then that exact same music is being identified by the Shazam app on my phone in front of this one audience member. And that happens in just a couple seconds. They see it, then so does the audience sees it, sees this demoed result on the PowerPoint, so they get to feel like they're experiencing the same thing. And then I just ask the audience member, "Now, how did that feel? What did you think of that?" Right? Because, remember, they're seeing Shazam for the first time.
One thing that's fascinating about Shazam, fascinating, is that a very significant portion of people will remember the very first time they used Shazam. If you think about that for a second, my mom will say she remembers the day that John F. Kennedy was shot and then the day that man landed on the moon. But there's not that many things you remember and certainly not for products. Do you remember the first day you used a MacBook? That's an incredible product, but I don't remember that. But many people will remember the first time they saw Shazam because it is this shocking, magical experience.
So that's the little bit of risk because I don't know how they're going to respond to that. Some of them might just go, "Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure. Now all apps can do things like that." But sometimes they're like, "Wow, that's pretty impressive. How did it do that?" And that's what I'm hoping to get to. But really, the main goal is not that incredible response. That's a nice to have icing on the cake. The main goal is really just to have that little bit of interaction with an audience member, showing Shazam as a way to really show Shazam on the screen to everyone, because there will be a portion of the audience, and it varies based on the audience profile and so on, that is not familiar with Shazam. So of course, I need to show it to them if I'm about to do a whole speech about the creation of it.
Ryan Foland: Okay. So what's interesting listening is that referring back to your mom and the concept of these major pinnacle moments in life, and back to your story at the bike rack, back to the person who's in the theater or that you're visiting with in real time, would you guess that the reason these things are so memorable is because it evokes some sort of emotion?
Chris Barton: Yes, I would agree. I mean, I think emotion is an integral part of our life experience. And it's very few people, it's not... For some people it's too strong and it actually takes life out of control, but it's just part of our experience. It's like a sensory thing. We have sight smell, hearing, and we have emotion. And so, yeah, I would agree with that.
Ryan Foland: Well, what's interesting, too, about the emotion is that in these examples, you, as the person who's remembering, you in ninth grade, your mom, where that happened, me when something happened, it's almost like something happened that you experienced, and you said the word experience, versus it's not something that you create. If you're creating something, it maybe seems like it's less memorable, but this experience of the connection is really to tap into the emotion, which the app does independently, but that's that connection coefficient.
Chris Barton: Yeah, yeah. That's correct. Yeah.
Ryan Foland: Now, here's the one thing, and we can come back to this, but right now with just C, it's a coefficient of one, so there's no multiplier effect there. And so, as we evaluate this whole equation, I'm curious if you do see this as a 2C or a 3C or 1C in relationship to weighting it in the total equation. So just-
Chris Barton: Yeah. That's a good point. I viewed it it's not that it couldn't be multiplied by doing more things, but it's more that the way I decided to address it in my keynote... Because we're all limited, we all have millions of ideas, but, meanwhile, we have only 45 minutes for the keynote, right? And so, you have to pick and choose what you're going to do. And so, I viewed it as a binary thing of I want to turn it from zero to one and I'm going to do it through this little interaction I created. And then I went from zero to one, zero being like, "We don't know how to connect with this guy. He seems like a nice guy on stage," to one of like, "Oh, this guy seems like a warm person that can connect with people. Okay, I'm now viewing him that way." So I get them across that threshold from zero to one.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. From zero to one is what gets you past the croc brain, the mammalian brain that I know Nick talks a lot about as well. You have to convince them that you're not a bear or some sort of wooly mammoth that's going to attack them, and then that opens up the rest of their mind right out the gates. I like it. Okay. So we've done the connection. Now we have the S times V. Which one do you want to attack first?
Chris Barton: Yeah. So the V really comes down to, it's vulnerability. It's something that I remember learning from Ben Nemtin, who's a very successful speaker, and he really emphasized how vulnerability is a big part of what he believes has led to success of his keynote speaking, his content, and his experiences, and his successful business. But he's not the only person. I mean, there's many people, I think, that successfully use vulnerability. I think vulnerability, when you expose it through your stories, that's what is allowing people to go beyond the analytical view of the story and really go into, "How did it feel for you?"
So what I do is as I'm talking through a story, so for example, I'll give you an example, maybe I talk about, "Oh, Shazam, we had to build a music database from scratch." Okay? So from an analytical standpoint, okay, that sounds like a gargantuan task to build a giant music database of all music. But then I actually spend a moment now talking about how that felt. Just a moment, not a deep dive, but just really exposing like, "Oh my gosh. How are we going to do this? This is overwhelming. We don't own any CDs. We don't own the CDs, and we certainly can't afford to buy them. And that's terrifying because if we did have to buy all these CDs, we would burn all our money up and wouldn't have any money to build the business. And what are we going to do? Because at the same time, we need all the music, and there is no digital database of music. So what are we going to do? We have to build it. We don't have the music, and it's a scary situation to be in."
And so, really, not just talking about it from this sort of, "We had to do this," but, how did that feel to me? How was that scary? How did that make me feel a level of discomfort and fear? And that's the vulnerability. Because most entrepreneurs or often an entrepreneur, I think, in the audience expects they're going to be like, oh, look at the amazing things we accomplished. But what's really interesting is how the entrepreneur might have felt fear and uncertainty around whether that they could accomplish that, and that could have been a blow to the entire business vision. It could have caused failure. And so, what does that feel like? If you can really expose how it felt like to you as the entrepreneur in this situation, the audience can really connect with that vulnerability and they can feel it's taking them into the emotions of the experience of what it feels like, and it makes it much more interesting and much more of an immersive experience, an emotional experience for the audience.
Ryan Foland: Emotional immersive experience, a triple a threat, triple E.
Chris Barton: Yeah.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, one thing-
Chris Barton: And I just want to say one more thing. That was just one story. So that's why it's multiplied times S, S being stories. And then what was the other letter that we used? So it's S times stories times the vulnerability, V, right? V.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. Well, we have C plus-
Chris Barton: C plus S times V.
Ryan Foland: ... S times V.
Chris Barton: Yeah. So the V is vulnerability. So if you can do that in a few stories, and I do, of having several stories where you're talking about the vulnerability aspect of it and really thinking as you tell the story, how does it feel to you?
Ryan Foland: So on the equation standpoint, you could think ahead of time, "How much time do I have? We've got a 45 minute or hour keynote," whatever it is. And as you're developing, we all have a million stories that we could tell. And so, maybe you decide ahead of time as you're structuring based on what the audience wants, relevant for them, talk with the organizers, the goals and whatnot, and then you can pick those three stories. And then the equation would be the C plus 3S times V. And so that coefficient, basically for each story you're getting that hit three different times of vulnerability.
Chris Barton: Yep.
Ryan Foland: Well, it comes to mind, so I speak about authenticity a lot, and vulnerability is definitely part of that. And I really do believe that, as you said, a lot of audience expect and sometimes the successful entrepreneurs deliver this, "Here's my success." But I truly have found that people don't care about your story of success. It actually separates you because they don't have that success. And what I've found, as you're explaining, is that people are more interested in seeing themselves in your story. We all have the same senses. We all have the same emotions that we tap into. And this idea of feeling ties into the emotion, which is situation-based, which then makes the speech more memorable as well.
Chris Barton: Absolutely. Yeah.
Ryan Foland: Have you heard of the Feel, Felt, Found customer service method?
Chris Barton: No.
Ryan Foland: Okay. I learned this back when I was selling mortgages, and it stuck with me, and I absolutely love it. So whenever you get some sort of pushback or in sales, you're trying to close deals and you get these objections, there's always ways to deal with objections. This is like the ultimate tool, maybe the Shazam of objections. It's a formula that says, first you use the word feel and you acknowledge and you go, "Oh my gosh, I know how you feel."
So you're acknowledging their feelings. Then you bring it back to yourself and you say, "I felt like that when..." parallel a story that is similar. And then say, "And what I found in the end is that..." here's the moral of the story or the lesson. So it could be from somebody saying, "Hey, this is too expensive." "Oh my gosh, I totally know how you feel. I mean, I felt like that when I purchased my house. But what I've found is that you can't put a price on how close you are to the water," or something like that. And so it's a real soft takeaway and it's engaging. It makes me think about what you're saying.
It also works when somebody is like, "My dog died." And you're like, "Oh, shit." You're like, "What do I say?" Well, you say, "Oh my gosh, I know how you feel. I felt like that when Buster passed away. And what I found is it just takes time and you just go through the motions. And I'm here to be here for you," kind of style. So the Feel, Felt, Found is an interesting element. Maybe that could add into... So the F of X equals C, which is connection, plus the number of stories that opens up the vulnerability. And then you have this... I'm trying to think of what would be almost like a derivative of F, F, F, so your Feel, Felt, Found in the middle of it.
Chris Barton: That's a great idea. And what I like about that, because, obviously, I think an important job of the keynote speaker is to make it feel like it's about the audience, not about them, right?
Ryan Foland: Yeah.
Chris Barton: And so, you tell this story that shows this vulnerability. You have a learning from it. But you really want the audience to be think thinking about, well, how do they take this away in their own lives? And so, "How would you do this?" I like to make things very conversational, "How would you do this? What would you do in this situation? And can you imagine what that felt like?" and so on. There's point where I say, "Would you give up?" I show them something that was nearly insurmountable in Shazam, and I'm like, "Would anyone give up at this point? Because I certainly felt like I was going to give up." Right? And so you're bringing it back to them. And so how did they Feel, Felt, Found? Right? And then, of course, you tell them what you did, and they can almost imagine in their own particular thing that they're challenged and scared by what could they do? How can they find a solution that's maybe in some way influenced by what you just taught them as a takeaway?
Ryan Foland: Yeah, they have a parallel insurmountable thing that they're dealing with. Do you know James Taylor? Have you connected with him yet?
Chris Barton: Yeah, just briefly. Yep.
Ryan Foland: Yeah, super cool guy. He always has a bunch of great little snippets and tips, and one that is relevant to this is the idea of transitioning your story back to the audience. You did this initially, and naturally you probably do this, but for people listening, this is a key way to turn your story back to the audience. You tell your story and then you literally say something to the extent of, "Now, the reason I'm telling you this is because..." And that then cues them to this lesson that they're learning. And as a storytelling tactic, I always teach that you tell your story, and then you have to have that inflection point, "Now, why am I telling you this? It's because..." And it relates it back to their lives.
Chris Barton: Yeah, yeah.
Ryan Foland: Okay. Well, we officially have a new Shazam function for ultimate emotion experience on stage, and it is F of X equals C plus S, the number of speeches or the number of stories times the vulnerability that you explore. And then we could probably put it all over Feel, Felt, Found just to put that into spark.
Chris Barton: Yeah. And now we've just scared away all the speakers with complicated math.
Ryan Foland: But for those that are intimidated, find yourself at the bike rack here with Chris, and he says, "Look, I can guarantee you a C, or you can take your chances, get out there on stage yourself, and now it's up to you."
Chris Barton: I like it.
Ryan Foland: All right. Well, let's close this out with some talk and tips about how you're building your speaking business. What's great and relatable is that you have recently discovered this as a medium, as a business, as a way to expand your brand and your reach and your impact. What would you say has moved the needle the most? I know that you're with some bureaus. I know that you've been working with these amazing speaker coaches just getting connected. I mean, we got connected through Jeff Butler. What's up Jeff? Thanks for making the connection. But what would you say is moving the needle the most?
Chris Barton: Yeah. So I would say my strategy is actually inspired by my business experience, having created Shazam, but also having... By the way, we didn't mention, but I spent almost eight years at Google and four years at Dropbox as well, both from relatively early days when they were younger companies. Google was like 2,000 employees when I joined a few months before going public. Dropbox was like 90 employees with duct tape on the floor. But one of the common things with Google and Dropbox and Shazam is that with all three of them, they didn't have massive marketing budgets. They basically grew tremendously because of the quality of their products. Right?
And literally, it was just people talking about Shazam. I mean, never had any marketing budget. We never spent any money on marketing. And yet purely through word of mouth, and by the way, there's no virality of Shazam, so the by word of mouth, Shazam would get eight million new downloads every month. Imagine. Eight million people, just people telling each other about it. And same with Google. At Google. I remember when I was there, Larry and Sergey were not big believers in marketing, right? They just believed, have an amazing search and it will just grow on its own. And similar thing with Dropbox. As we tried different products, we would really focus on a product that was just so referable, right? It was just a product that just was so delightful that people just tell each other about it.
So my strategy in speaking is very similar to that. I focus very much on the content, the content and delivery and the experience, really, and then build the referable speech. And there's even a book called The Referable Speaker. But I like to have content that is interesting, surprising, insightful, not expected, with great stories that are real firsthand stories that I draw on from my own experiences. And then weaving in, as I mentioned, the vulnerability and the emotions to make it very personal and emotional. A little humor as well. But I really want it to be engaging. I measure myself by how often I see someone looking at their phone, and I want it to be almost none, right? I just don't want people looking at their phones because it's like when you go to a movie theater and you see that movie that was just so amazing that you don't even remember sitting in the movie theater. You come out and it's like, "Wow. Was I sitting in a movie theater for two hours? It felt like I was just in-"
Ryan Foland: I was just Dancing with Wolves.
Chris Barton: Right, exactly. Yeah, exactly. So that's what I want it to be like. And so, I focus very much on that. And then my thinking is that then what happens is that becomes referable among the speaking industry, among clients, and meeting planners, and bureaus, and so on. And of course, I do also have a great manager, Tony D'Amelio, and he knows all the bureaus. So I've connected and so on to all the bureaus. But all that is meaningless if you don't have this just amazing keynote experience that leaves people dazzled. I mean, sometimes after a keynote, someone will come up to me and say, "I was crying, hearing this story." Sometimes I get a line of people wanting to do selfies, and I love that because it's like, I'm not a name, I'm not a celebrity, Chris Barton. No one's ever heard of that name, but they know Shazam, and like, "Wow, the founder of Shazam." And so, I love that.
I like having humility and being humble and feeling like just an ordinary person. I just happen to have founded this company, but I'm not anyone special. And just connecting with the audience in that way. Yeah. So that's my method. All the other methods I have to admit, I'm just perplexed at how they work. I know everyone has very aggressive social networking things. I never understand any of that. I have a little bit of an Instagram, but not much. I don't do any outbound, reaching out to anyone. I have what I think is a pretty simple, beautiful experience of a website. And also, I put a lot of effort into a great reel so that it really conveys a nice experience there as well. And then, so yeah, great reel, great website, and then excellent keynotes.
Ryan Foland: All right. That is excellent. I've got three questions for you. What is your middle name?
Chris Barton: I actually have two because my father's British and my mother's French. And in England, that's a tradition to give people two middle names sometimes. One of them is a French one, of course, for my French mother. And the other one is very British for my dad. It's actually his middle name as well. So my full name is Christopher Jacque, as spelled like Jacques Cousteau, J-A-C-Q-U-E-S, Christopher Jacques Penrose, there's the British one, Barton. That's my full name. Christopher Jacques Penrose Barton.
Ryan Foland: The reason I ask is because you mentioned that you don't have this name recognition, yet everyone knows Shazam. And so, I was going to suggest you might consider throwing maybe a third middle name in there. Technically, you could maybe be Chris Jacques the P word Shazam Barton.
Chris Barton: @Shazam. It's funny because my Instagram handle is chrisjbarton, and I thought, "I wonder if I should be..." I noticed the founder of MySpace is something like myspacetom or something, and I thought, "Maybe I should have Shazam in my Instagram handle." But-
Ryan Foland: Yeah, maybe. Or maybe your middle name. Who knows? But anyways, there's an opportunity there. So that's just kind of funny. The second thing. You said that your audience, you want them to be dazzled. And as I was listening to this, in the context of you being early stage in Google, early stage in Dropbox, creating an app with two billion downloads with eight million users per month new, I was a little frazzled. And so, how can we take this type of a referable approach but to somebody who doesn't have that early crazy start-up experience and doesn't have an app with billions of downloads?
You did say that you're just sort of a nobody, and that's your humility, but dude, you're somebody and you've crushed it, and you have all of this crazy life experience that people want to chase after and learn from because of the brand names that you've worked with. So I think the referable speaker definitely can work in the pure content format, but I want to push back a little bit because you dazzled them. But people that don't have the pedigree are going to be frazzled. What would you give them advice to do?
Chris Barton: Yeah. Well, I would say a couple of things. One is, first of all, all the impressive Google and Dropbox stuff was all after I started Shazam, because I started Shazam 23 years ago in the year 2000. So I created an app eight years before apps existed. And then when I did that, I definitely was a nobody. I had just been a management consultant, and I hadn't ever invented anything, or I hadn't filed any patents. Today, I've got 12 patents across those three companies.
Frankly, I struggled. I mean, in my speech I open up with how in fifth grade they divided the 60 kids into two classes, the smart kids and the not so smart kids. And I was in the not so smart kids. And then years later, I was able to work hard and get into UC Berkeley for undergrad. But then my first semester there, I got a 1.7 GPA, which is failing, two Cs and a D. And they sent a letter, not to me, but directly to my parents saying, "Your son will be kicked out of UC Berkeley," because I was struggling and I was lost and confused and really struggling.
So I mean, I very much speak to, in my keynotes, about how I struggled, frankly, and I never felt like I was the super genius at all, super accomplished in any way. If anything, I felt like, "It's going to be a real struggle for me to be able to stay competitive with a lot of these amazing people around me." But I realized that as a dyslexic, I had to just think in a different way, and that was my secret weapon. And so, that's what I talk about is this disruptor thinking, I call it, or the start from zero methodology of five ways of thinking differently. And it's ways to think that are not our default ways to think, but anyone can think in these ways to really accomplish amazing game changing things. And so, it's very, very accessible and very doable for anyone, and anyone can do it. Anyone can create Shazam. I mean, I was not a music expert or a technology expert, and I created Shazam just because I had this dream, this vision, I thought differently, and I found a way to do it.
Ryan Foland: Okay. So for the person that's frazzled, we all start with the same. Actually, probably most of us start with more of a disadvantage than we think when we're projecting out there. And what I'd like to point out is that the content of your keynotes, which you are saying is the most important part of the referability, is about stories from you, from your childhood about the challenges you have, the struggles, the feelings, the insurmountable obstacles that you faced. So somebody who feels frazzled that they don't have the pedigree, I would challenge them that you have the failigree. We've all had that.
And so your ability to craft a message to connect with an audience, I do feel that that is the ticket to becoming the keynote that has the honorariums that you want, to make the money where you can focus on this without that pedigree. And there are a lot of people who you might not know their name, maybe you've never actually heard of them, yet they're pulling in 20, 30, 40, 50 grand per talk. And that's because they have content that stands for itself and they've been doing it enough and they keep showing up enough so that people see them, hear them, are dazzled and then refer them out. And that's how we can all grow.
Chris Barton: Absolutely. Yeah. It's all about referral.
Ryan Foland: Shazam. I was actually at dinner the other day with somebody I was just meeting for the first time in a group and a song came on. She literally pulled out her phone and was like... And just went... And I'm like, "What are you doing right now?" She's like, "Shazaming." I was like, "Oh, okay."
Chris Barton: I know. It's funny. Sometimes I like to say that the greatest rewarding moment of Shazam was not inventing the technology that everyone said was impossible and it was not selling the company to Apple, which ended up as the sixth largest acquisition of all time by Apple, but that the greatest rewarding moment, it was actually walking into a bar, a cafe or a gym, looking across the room and seeing someone Shazaming. And then you're like, "Oh my gosh, people are really using this out in the real world." And something about it, even if you see the numbers, nothing matches actually that moment when you actually see someone Shazaming. That happens to me once in a while, and it's so rewarding,
Ryan Foland: I'll take that story, but replace Shazaming with whatever it is that you're trying to share on the stage, whether it's about be more authentic, whether it's your form of leadership, or the way that you approach sales, or the thing that you're putting out on stage. I really love what you said there, and this is, I think, a great way to close it out is that regardless of the acquisition, if there's money involved or not, or the success of whatever your five point plan or three-step process is, that's like one side of the equation, but don't lose sight of when you walk into a bar and you see somebody share that their dog died and then somebody says, "I know how you feel. I felt that way before, but what I've found..."
And if that is your shtick, that's the real magic, that's the payoff, and that is the true... I guess, can we call it viral without it being online? It's really an offline virality. And that's just, at the end of the day, connecting with humans, whether they're at a bike rack, whether it's a teacher or a student, whether it's a mom or a dad, these are people with emotions. And when you can create your own cinema, get them to sit in a seat and leave not knowing that they were just sitting there watching someone but experiencing something, that's really what I think you're sharing here, and I think people can relate to that and be dazzled.
Chris Barton: Yeah, I agree.
Ryan Foland: All right. So we've got a new speaking equation of engagement and emotion. We've got basically inspiration to take and lead your content and focus on that. Forget your pedigree, focus on the content. We can all learn from each other and I believe in abundance. So I think there's plenty of stages and plenty of room for people to get up there and share their stories. And don't take that guaranteed C. Get out there and shoot for the A. Right?
Chris Barton: Absolutely, and I look forward to seeing you out there.
Ryan Foland: Yeah. We'll definitely share the stage sometime soon. Now, for people who want to get in touch with you, want to find you on Instagram, want to experience your classy website, the sizzle reel, and even get the book that I know that you're writing, how do they best connect with you so they can support you and follow your journey?
Chris Barton: Yeah. Well, chrisjbarton.com. So it has my middle initial. So chrisjbarton.com is my website, and you can contact me through that. And then my Instagram is chrisjbarton as well as my handle. And those are the two best ways. Yeah, I'm just getting started. You were giving me great advice, thanks, Ryan, on the book and just getting started. So that's going to be a long journey, but I'm excited to write hopefully a great book that people can get one day as well.
Ryan Foland: Awesome. They will get. I'm ready for an early copy when it comes to that point. So thank you, and big shout out to SpeakerHub, our sponsor and our fuel behind this crazy idea about talking with people around the world when it comes to speaking, the art of, and how to build your business. If you want to become a speaker but don't have a website, you're not there, you don't know how to get found, you can put up a profile on SpeakerHub. You can search for call for applications, you can connect with other speakers, you can build one-pagers, you can put widgets for your email signature to point people back, and it gives you at least a first step to get more professional. And if you're interested in me, my ginger energy, what I do, how I speak about authenticity, or my book, Ditch the Act, you can find it all online if you remember my name. Chris, do you remember my name?
Chris Barton: Yeah. It's Ryan Foland.
Ryan Foland: So if you want to find more about Ryan online, then you go to ryan.online.
Chris Barton: Ah, okay.
Ryan Foland: There we go.
Chris Barton: Only Ryan. I like it.
Ryan Foland: Only ryan.online. All right. Well, hey dude, this has been so much fun. I really appreciate your time, and I will say that the listeners are definitely both frazzled and dazzled, but I think that you're going to inspire them to take on the daunting that they are all looking at.
Chris Barton: Absolutely. I'm glad to hear that. Thanks so much for having me. This has been fun.
Ryan Foland: Totally. All right. Shazam you later, buddy.
Chris Barton: All right.
Ryan Foland: All right. Adios.
Chris Barton: Adios.
A bit about World of Speakers
World of Speakers is a bi-weekly podcast that helps people find their own voice and teaches them how to use their voice to develop a speaking business.
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