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How to see what others miss

Posted in the following categories: Creativity, Personal Development

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I had just decided to work with Chris West and his team at Video Narrative to create a demo reel for my keynote speaking—one of the several hats I wear (alongside author, professor, and curious non-conformist).

Most speaker reels follow the same formula: Throw together clips from speaking engagements in a haphazard way, sprinkle in some testimonials, and expect the viewer to take action.

Once the formula is established—once a tool or tactic becomes popular—others rinse and repeat. This famous speaker has a demo reel that looks like that? Let me hire someone to do just that!

We follow others—often off a steep cliff. We don’t deliberate and question whether their choice was the right one, and whether a popular tactic is the most effective way to implement a strategy.

Instead of copying the established formula for my speaker video, Chris asked, “What if we reimagined what a demo reel is? What if we built the reel using the same tactics that you teach others to reimagine the status quo?”

I jumped at the opportunity to have the video itself embody the principles that I cover in the video. A dream within a dream of sorts, if you know your Inception.

We ditched the standard formula and went back to first principles. We asked ourselves, What makes a video great? What are the essential, non-negotiable components of a video clip that will captivate viewers? 

Here are the fundamentals we came up with: The video must build curiosity, tell a great story, distill multiple ideas from my book Think Like a Rocket Scientist into an easy-to-understand framework, and give the viewers a flavor of the excitement that they’ll experience during an in-person keynote.

We had to do all of that—and do it well—in a clip that lasted for 5 minutes or less. That constraint forced us to be resourceful, cut out the fluff, and focus on the essentials.

I’ll let you be the judge of the final product. You can watch it at this link.

ozan varol

For me, the video is a testament to the power of first-principles thinking.

When you reason from first principles, you find your own answer instead of simply absorbing “truth” from somewhere else.

You switch from being a cover band that plays someone else’s songs to an artist that does the painstaking work of creating something new.

You go from being a finite player, someone playing within boundaries, to an infinite player, someone playing with boundaries.

Until next week,


P.S. The 2021 cohort of the Moonshot Mastermind is now open for enrollment! It’s a premium program that’s limited to 6-8 high caliber leaders from different industries who have big goals for themselves and their businesses in 2021.

The mastermind is for C-level executives or those who run a multiple-6-figure company with a proven track record of success. If you fit that description—and you want to be part of a small, dynamite team that will support you, challenge you, stress-test your ideas, and help you soar to levels you’ve never reached before—then the Moonshot Mastermind is for you.

In addition to the amazing feedback and support you’ll get from other high-caliber leaders throughout the program, you’ll have direct access to me and my wife Kathy (who has 20 years of strategy and marketing experience working for some of the world’s most prestigious brands.).

If you’re ready to build out an indomitable 2021 with an A-team brain trust invested in helping you succeed, click here to learn the details and apply.

We already received more applications than available spots, but haven’t completed the selection process yet. My goal is to put together the very best group of innovative leaders, so we’ll keep applications open until Tuesday, November 17th.

The Contrarian Handbook
The Status Quo.

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