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October 29, 2021

You know that person. You’re performing your heart out and all you can see is that one person, usually head down, likely looking at their phone, apparently lost in their own world, not paying attention to you.

Distracted. Disinterested. Disengaged.

And then that little voice in the back of your head speaks up.

“You’re not reaching people.”

“You should have <insert any semi-justifiable reproach.>”

“You’re not as good as you think you are.”

that person in the front row
What story do you tell yourself about THAT person in the Front Row!

As a normal human being, I’ve learned that no one doesn’t suffer from bouts of insecurity. (Yes, that’s an intentional triple negative.) But the last thing anyone needs on stage is a gremlin on your shoulder competing for attention.

That’s why, as a motivational speaker, corporate trainer, and musician, I’ve learned to talk back to that little voice. And that’s why I take every opportunity to make a big deal about unequivocally proving the gremlin wrong.

Last night was one of those opportunities.

My trio was performing a live streamed concert off my back deck, in front of a few live, socially distanced people in the backyard. (Hey, we’re grateful for any audience at all during the pandemic!)

Michel Neray Band
Whether you speak, sing, dance, or share a story at the dinner table, performance is always part mind game.

But there was this one guy…

Right. In. The. Front. Row.

Everyone else was tapping their toes to the music at the very least.

But not this guy.

The only tapping he was doing was on his phone. He almost never looked up. He never smiled.

I tried not to focus on him. I really did. And for the most part, I was doing a good job of it. But still, out of the corner of my eye, I could see him tapping away at his phone.

At the end of the concert, he came over to me, all smiles.

“That was really great. Really great. Loved it. Your band is great. Your songs are great. Every time you started playing a song, I was looking it up on Spotify. But that ‘California-Ioanna’ song you played wasn't coming up at all. I couldn’t figure it out. I tried other sites. Really great song. And then my friend told me that the song is an original. You wrote it? Really? It should be on Spotify! It’s great! I loved it.”

I looked at him and said, ‘Thank you, that means a lot to me.”

If only he knew… I wrote this blog post to remind myself how often the gremlin gets it wrong. But if it works as a reminder for you too, please go ahead and use it.

-Michel Neray
Speaker, Author, Trainer, Storyteller

The song is also available in apple music:

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About the Author Michel Neray

My work in Category Design and Differentiation for over 30 years has taught me that at the bottom of every meaningful value proposition is a story. As the founder of momondays, I have listened to and watched countless stories being performed -- it has given me a fundamental grasp of what works, and what doesn’t. As a professional speaker, trainer and consultant, I've worked with thousands of leaders and sales teams in more than eight countries around the world, from Montreal to Moscow. My passion is helping people and organizations lead better, sell more, and change the world through Category Design and Storytelling.

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