Philosophy, Creativity, Communication: The Atlas Society Asks Leopold Ajami

April 26, 2023 00:59:51
Philosophy, Creativity, Communication: The Atlas Society Asks Leopold Ajami
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
Philosophy, Creativity, Communication: The Atlas Society Asks Leopold Ajami

Apr 26 2023 | 00:59:51

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Show Notes

Join CEO Jennifer Grossman for the 149th episode of The Atlas Society Asks where she interviews Leopold Ajami, a public speaking coach, Creative & Strategic Consultant, and Objectivist. He integrates Philosophy with creativity and communication to help you design your voice above the noise and build a philosophical blueprint to live by. He is the co-host of the Ideas on Trial Podcast and the founder of the Novel Philosophy Academy.

Check Out More from Leopold Ajami:

Website: "Novel Philosophy Academy" - https://learn.novelphilosophy.academy/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/leopoldajami?lang=en

Podcast: "Ideas on Trial" - http://ideasontrial.live/

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hello everyone, and welcome to the 149th episode of the Atlas Society. Asks, my name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. My friends call me Jag. I'm the c e o of the Atlas Society, the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Ein Rand in fun, creative ways, including graphic novels and animated videos. Today we are joined by Leopold Ajami, joining us from Dubai, uh, where it is exactly 12 hours ahead of where I am here. Um, before I even begin to introduce our guest, I wanna remind all of you who are watching us on Zoom, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. Uh, we're gonna take your questions. So go ahead, use the comment section, start typing them in. We'll get to as many of them as we can. All right. Leopold Ajami is a public speaking coach, creative and strategic consultant and objective. He integrates philosophy with creativity and communication to help you design your voice above the noise and build a philosophical blueprint to live by. He is the co-host of the Ideas on Trial podcast and the founder of the Novel Philosophy Academy. Leopold, thank you for joining us. Speaker 1 00:01:27 Thank you for having me. Speaker 0 00:01:29 So, we like to start with our guest's origin stories, where you grew up, how you discovered Iran, any other influences that shaped your personal and professional trajectory. Speaker 1 00:01:43 Alright, so I grew up in a place that doesn't exist anymore. Okay. They, they still call it Lebanon, but it's not the same anymore. That's, that's how I think about it. And when I remember my childhood, I remember this one street where the war started in 1975. Uh, and during this time, this street became the symbol of strengths and power and, you know, people defending, defending their country from invaders. Uh, but also this street kind of shaped my identity. And we had, we were children, but we have this credle that goes something like, you either part of a gang of the gang, or you are dead. Right? So, that was my environment, uh, and I always had this idea that, you know, to be a man is to have muscles over minds and to be street smart rather than book smart. So, as you can imagine, it's a long road from the streets of Lebanon to the skyscrapers of the fountain head, right? Speaker 1 00:02:48 Um, so I spent most of my life in, um, the advertising world. I worked as a creative director. Um, I worked as a filmmaker, and I was so fortunate to work with Hollywood Stars as well, uh, like Jeremy Irons. Uh, so I had most of my life in, in advertising and marketing and branding and that kind of word. Uh, but if you ask me who shaped your, uh, your mind, I would pick two people. Uh, the first one or two thinkers. The first one is Leonardo da Vinci, and we can talk later about him if you want. And obviously I rand. Uh, so a quick story, how I discovered, uh, I Rand, um, so it's about like 10 years ago I wrote a book and I called it Novel Philosophy. And so I was, as I was saying, I was working in advertising, and I was like, you know what? Speaker 1 00:03:46 There's so much link between philosophy and literature, and if I can learn how to use literature and philosophy, I can become a better thinker. So I started making all these integration, and I wrote this book, and I was like, imagining the premise. The whole idea of the book was like me sitting in my living room with all these great thinkers from different fields, from all over the, the world and from all over history. And whenever I have a problem or a task or a challenge, what I ask these people. So that was the whole idea. So I built frameworks and method and all of that, and I, I was very proud of it. And then I printed the book, that's the book, right? <laugh>. So I printed the book, and I was like, I wanna go and put it in the bookstore to see how it looks like. Speaker 1 00:04:39 I wanna see my name just right there with the, with the Big Thinkers, <laugh>. And I went there and I put it, and the moment I put it there and started taking pictures, I see the fountain hat. I was like, wow, what a beautiful title. I never, I never seen it before with Fountain Hat. So I pick her up and I sat down on the floor, and I never forget, I started reading for hours. And then I called my wife, who was back then, my, my girlfriend. And I told her, babe, I'm not coming home today. And she's like, why? What happened? I'm like, I met another woman, <laugh> <laugh>, and she showed me my mistake. I'm not gonna publish the book. Uh, so I didn't publish the book, but, you know, I, I launched into a whole new life. And so that's my story. Speaker 0 00:05:27 Um, well, so the Fountain Head clearly foundational and inspirational for you. Uh, any other particular Ayn Rand works fiction or non-fiction or, or, uh, things about the Fountain Head that really connected with you? Speaker 1 00:05:45 Uh, well, it's easy to say all her work, but, uh, I can pick two in terms of fiction. I wouldn't say it's the fountain head, even though I love it, but I would say Atla shrug like, changed my whole perspective, like really grounded the ideas in my mind. And in fact, I, I read it like eight times, and one of the times I spent 11 month just reading Atlas Shrug and reading and studying it, and more than studying it, connecting it to my life. So I was reading this passage and asking myself, have I ever been in that situation? Uh, what will I do now that relates to the book? So I would say Atlas, uh, in terms of fiction, in terms of non-fiction, uh, the one that really resonated with me is, uh, a small article called The Simplest Thing in the World. Uh, I think it's in Philosophy, who Needs It? And for me, this is, this is an invitation to Iron Rand Soul. It's absolutely stunning. And for me, it's a masterpiece of empathy, right? Like, it's, it, the article is about a, a, a writer struggling to write, or a creative person as such struggling to come up with ideas, and he has all these pressures from society and from himself and self-doubt. And so for me, she, she really understand what goes through the, the creative process and all the emotions that we go through. Uh, so I highly recommend that to everyone. Speaker 0 00:07:17 Fantastic. So, uh, tell us a little bit about Novel Philosophy Academy. It's genesis, uh, what kinds of courses you offer, where your students come from. Speaker 1 00:07:32 Um, so I like to think about the Academy as simply put the, the bridge between where you are and where you want to be, right? It's, it's a place, it's a place where you can build foundational skills, especially now looking at the future, I think it's very important that we become future proof, like the AI everywhere. And so we ask ourselves, what are the skills, the foundational skills that we really need in order to, um, not just have a job, but any in order to be fulfilled. So I built the Academy based on, um, a framework that I call PhD C right? And maybe one day is gonna become the PhD degree. Speaker 0 00:08:17 <laugh>, Speaker 1 00:08:18 PhD stands for philosophy integrated with creativity and communication, right? Uh, and it has some derivatives, for example. So I call it in my mind, uh, pH so philosophy and six Cs. So creativity, communication, connections, coaching, um, character and cultural development. So for me, if we learn how to integrate all these skills, uh, foundational skills, we can take on any job, whether we are architects or engineer or, you know, artist. I think we all need to understand how these work together. Uh, and that's why I built, uh, the Academy, uh, in terms of courses. Um, so every time, so the main strategy we use is we listen to what the audience want. So, um, if they, if they're asking for more communication courses, we deliver that. If they're asking for more speaking courses or philosophical courses, we offer that, uh, but it's not detached. So even when we are doing our public speaking courses, there's always that integration of creativity and philosophy, uh, embedded within the courses. Speaker 0 00:09:33 So, uh, as mentioned before, you're in Dubai, and as I think you and I have discussed previously, the Outlet Society has begun to translate some of our animated draw My Life videos into Arabic. And the same videos that will draw about a million views in English are attracting many multiples of that in the Middle East, six, seven, 8 million views each. And I was kind of blown away by that. First, I thought it was, well, maybe it's just the population of the Arabic speaking world is larger, but, uh, I don't think that explains it. There are about 370, uh, million native Arabic speakers, uh, compared to 334 plus million Americans. So any insights in on why we're getting so much engagement in the Middle East? Speaker 1 00:10:29 So, I, I cannot give accurate insights without le really looking at the data, but I can give you two perspectives. Uh, I think the first one is a bit technical. So if we look at the major reports, we see that, uh, you know, uh, people in the Middle East consume more social media than people in the us I think average three hours to two hours per day, something like that. I didn't realize that. So, yeah. Yeah. So we spent more time on social media. Um, so that's from a technical perspective. But, um, I would also say that we in the Middle East, we are hungry for ideas, and we're hungry for new ideas, uh, to the point that sometimes we use it in the wrong way, right? So, for example, I still remember when the trend of, uh, if you're familiar with the Law of Attraction and the Secret, Speaker 0 00:11:24 Right? Speaker 1 00:11:25 So all that movement, when it started, and it started long time ago in the us but one in the Middle East, we, we, we heard about it. We created a whole, you know, a kingdom, uh, and, and the major coaching platform just about these ideas, which is good from one perspective that people want to develop themselves, uh, but they don't have the tool to judge the, the, the, the power, the validity, uh, of these ideas. So I think that's one major reason that in the Middle East, we want, uh, we want development, but also, I wanna give it credit to, to the videos that you've done, uh, you've done, um, uh, I've seen them, and I think two things stood out. The first one is they are simple. So, so there's a combination between content, uh, and, and visual. Uh, and so they're visual, they're stories, right? And people want to hear stories all the time mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I think one of the most important thing is that they're personal, right? So you did one and you told us your personal story, guess what? Now I know about you, right? And that's what I want as an audience. I, I don't just want the content, I wanna know about you. And I think that's what attracts, uh, uh, people, people everywhere, but specifically in the Middle East. Speaker 0 00:12:47 Yeah. Well, you know, I, I studied, I don't know if I told you this, but I studied five years of Arabic in, um, in college. And I, I ended up doing my thesis, uh, on Jordan. And, um, uh, Jordan struck me as a relatively, you know, modern country, but a little bit closed to, you know, um, philosophical or intellectual discussion, really high emphasis on stability, continuity. Um, but, you know, just even perusing some of the comments on the videos, it struck me that, you know, I, of course, Ayn Rand called, uh, religion a primitive form of philosophy. And to the extent that, um, some of these countries are still heavily dominated by, uh, religion, sometimes state religion, um, that people are, uh, whether in through a religious framework or not, but they are thinking about these big questions. You know, who am I? How do I know? Um, I don't know. I mean, also, India is the other, uh, market after the Middle East where we get the most engagement. Again, somewhat counterintuitive to, you think it's a mystical, kind of patriarchal, uh, society, but I, I think people are also very, um, hardworking, ambitious, val. They value learning. And so if you provide something that, uh, has an opportunity to explore these ideas, anyway, I love it. Um, speaking of, yeah, no, Speaker 1 00:14:39 Just wanna say also, I think, because I think now they need new ideas. So they've tried for a very long time, the same school of thought, right? Uh, and it doesn't work. If you look at the universe and you say, you know, may the universe give me, uh, the ideas, it's not gonna work, right? You can only fool a person once, uh, or twice. But so, so I think they reach a point where they realize they need change, uh, but they're very different from the US market. They're more emotional, which means you need to approach them in a completely different way. Uh, so that's what I would say. Speaker 0 00:15:17 Interesting. Well, we're gonna continue to explore. We've gotten a lot of interest, um, from particular donors in, in doing more of that content. So keep you posted. Uh, now, again, going back to the novel Philosophy Academy. Um, among the courses that you offer, uh, supersonic creativity really caught my eye. How do you teach people to unblock their creativity using conversation? Speaker 1 00:15:46 Hmm. Um, well, think about it this way. Like, have you ever been in a conversation and then you left and said, ah, I wish I said that, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how many times it happens? Uh, so it, it used to happen with me all the time. Like, I'm in the middle of a conversation with brilliant people, and I'm like, I reach a point where I can't move forward. Uh, and then what? The moment I go to my car, I'm like, damn, I wish I said that. You know, like, it, it just come back to me. So I started noticing that you have like two, two different ways of treating conversation. Either you engage with them fully, but then you stop, or you dismiss them as it was a waste of time. I didn't learn anything. It's, there's a conflict. But if you think about it, there's a lot of similarities between conversation and creativity. Speaker 1 00:16:39 What is a conversation? Well, it's what we are doing now. It's a, it's an exchange of ideas, right? So conversation is an exchange. Creativity is a production of ideas, right? So how do you produce something if you don't have some kind of an exchange, if you don't have ideas or, or, or dots to connect? So this is where the idea came from, um, and I was like, okay, you know what? There's, there, there can be a link there instead of, so if you read any book on creativity, most of them actually, they will teach you how to be creative in a very abstract way. You would have to solve the puzzle, or they show you a big problem on how to do it, which is totally fine, because that's how you train your mind to integrate and connect the dot. But why not use conversations? Speaker 1 00:17:31 Here? We are talking about ideas, right? If we do it well, if we concretize the ideas, uh, in the middle of a conversation, and we use these, um, uh, these dots, and we connect them, then we can come up with new ideas. I, I, I can give you an example. Um, think about a very simple process of how creativity works. A a simple way is, for example, you look at, uh, you wanna create a new character for children. You look at a horse and you say, okay, there's a horse out there in reality, and let me look at a bird. And then you ask the question, how can I differentiate between a horse and a bird? And what can I integrate? And then one option would be, well, how about I take the, uh, the wings from the bird, and I put them on the, uh, on the horse? Speaker 1 00:18:23 And here you are, you have a Pegasus or a flying horse, right? So he created something new. Now, the same process can happen in a conversation. Someone might be talking about diversity, for example. Uh, but he doesn't, you know, he, he, he means something completely different from what you're talking about. So if you concretize it and, and take these dots, now you can come up with new ideas, and now you have more clarity on the ideas you're discussing. So that's what the course is all about. Uh, it's one of the very few courses, uh, that we started. And actually, I spent like six months just talking to people, uh, you know, and interviewing people and seeing what can I learn from, uh, from conversations. Um, so, yeah. Interesting. Speaker 0 00:19:07 So, um, as mentioned before, you have earned an international reputation as a premier, uh, public speaking coach. And as a former presidential speech writer myself, I'm particularly interested in, in the craft and delivery. Now by some estimates, uh, as many as 75% of people have a fear of public speaking. What in your experience, uh, are some of the factors that contribute to this sphere? Speaker 1 00:19:42 Um, so I, I'll, I'll offer a new perspective, because the easy answer would be, well, you just need to practice. You need to have stage time. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But it, it's amazing. One of my clients once asked me, she's like, uh, you know, I have a, I have a presentation ready. It's a PowerPoint presentation. Can you help me on how, you know, I can stand on stage? So I went through the process and I realized that she has a PowerPoint presentation, power, uh, PowerPoint presentation, but she doesn't have a structure. She doesn't really know what you wanna talk about. And I'm like, you can't stand on stage until you know how the ideas stand in your mind. So what I always tell my client is, stagefright is only a problem of structure, right? So in, in speaking, you have three elements. You have structure, you have content, and you have delivery. Speaker 1 00:20:37 Most of the people focus on the delivery. But the problem is, you need to know how to structure your, and we were talking about this, uh, backstage, right? Like, you need to know how to structure your talk, because the moment you do it well, you're not gonna be afraid anymore because you're confident in your structure. You know exactly what you wanna talk about. Um, and, and you're confident in your material right now, for sure. The more you do it, the more you can overcome stage five. Uh, but trust me, I've seen it a million times. The moment people follow the structure, uh, a proper structure is like, they're, they're 80% there. So, so this is a message to everyone. There's no such thing as stage fried just for the sake of it, you know, like, all you have to do is just learned the structure. Speaker 0 00:21:27 All right. Um, we're gonna dive into some of the questions that have been piling up here. And, uh, on Twitter. Joe Steele asks, um, Leopold, you mentioned social media. Do you think social media is a positive or negative thing? Does it have a negative influence on people, uh, developing actual skills for constructive discourse? Speaker 1 00:21:57 So this is a very interesting, uh, question. And, and honestly, it's something that I always grapple with. So I would say social media is a tool. So it's what you do with it that makes it good or bad. Uh, but to be honest, I rarely had proper discourse on social media. Like, you, you have to be very selective with the people you talk to. And also, we have the urge, and that's why I love, uh, communication, because we have the urge to speak up. We want to be heard. And that's why sometimes we just go on, on someone's page and comment, right? Um, so, so I don't know. Like, I, I think it really depends on how you treat it. Uh, but I would say don't spend more than enough time on social media. Like, uh, it, it's not gonna take you anywhere to have a discussion on social media unless you really trust the person or know the person you you're talking to. Speaker 0 00:22:59 Okay. On YouTube, why at five 16 asks any speech writing principles, uh, to apply to making more effective social media posts? Speaker 1 00:23:11 Absolutely. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, and actually, this is what I love about the, the speaking process, uh, because it's not just for speaking, it's for writing, it's for thinking, it's for conversations. Um, so I don't know how much time we have here, but I have a formula that I call the Light formula. Uh, and it's an acronym that stands for five things, that if you master them, you really can just write pause content. You can use them in, in your talk. Uh, so you can do it, uh, anywhere. Uh, I don't know if I'm allowed to share a link here, but, uh, if I am sure, uh, you know, I'll just invite everyone to go to Novel Philosophy Academy and just go to, yeah, just go to Uncage, your voice, inner circle. And I would love to invite you to attend. This is an inner circle that I do with my coaching partner, uh, Robert Bagley. He's also an amazing, uh, coach. And, uh, uh, you know, you're all invited to join us. We do it on monthly basis, um, and, and learn, learn the process. Speaker 0 00:24:17 All right. Uh, this is a question from Candace Marina on Facebook, going back to, uh, the Ayn Rand books that influenced you. She's asking between the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, which do you think had a better interpretation of romance? Speaker 1 00:24:37 Ooh, that's a good one. A better interpretation of romance. Um, Atlas <unk>. Uh, and if you read the book, I'll invite you to go to the last chapter and read, uh, when Dagney opened her eyes and saw nature, and then the face of John Gold, I think that scene alone, I have goosebumps. That scene alone can tell you, you know, the, the, the, the, the power of Romans in that, in that, uh, in that novel, Speaker 0 00:25:16 We've got a comment here from E Eli, Ellie, or, yeah, Ellie, on, on Zoom. She's saying, uh, the best speaking coach Leopold changed my life. So we've got testimonials coming in, uh, Instagram, Kingston 43 is asking, uh, Leopold, do you think there's a difference in how one presents themselves when speaking in person and through television? Or online Speaker 1 00:25:45 Or online? Mm-hmm. Speaker 0 00:25:46 <affirmative>. So I think maybe he's talking about, let's say if you're on a Zoom, uh, or you're delivering a lecture on Zoom and, and just different modulations for being in person. Um, I mean, yeah, you know, for example, you need to, people don't always realize they're looking, <laugh> and I I do this too. They're looking at the screen when they should be looking at the camera. Uh, when you're speaking in public, I like to try to pick out people in the audience and establish a visual connection with them. But any thoughts when, when you're coaching somebody who's gonna be speaking in front of a college class or a conference versus giving a lecture by Zoom? Speaker 1 00:26:35 Yeah, so I, I think you said that the, the principles I, I think are the same, but you're gonna have some varieties, and I'll you one, for example, uh, if you're speaking over zoom, especially in something like that, I cannot see anyone except, uh, uh, JAG, right? So it, it's, it's hard for me to connect with everyone while when you're on, uh, on stage is completely different. Your purpose there is to really connect with people and engage with them, and, you know, they, they, they have to feel your energy and your presence, but there are different tools you can use it. So first you learn the principle of structuring the way you think, the way you talk, uh, and then you learn how to, how to deal with, uh, social, uh, sorry, online or virtual or media. Um, I mean, TV is a whole different game. Again, the principles are the same, but there's media training, which is completely different craft. So that's a big word. Do Speaker 0 00:27:28 You, do you get into, uh, how people present themselves physically? Um, you know, I, I think whether it's Zoom or, um, in person, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, unless you're Palmer lucky and you can get away with <laugh>, your Hawaiian shirts. But, um, just the idea of, uh, presenting yourself in a way that's professional and showing, you know, that you have enough respect for your audience, that you're not just rolling outta bed, <laugh>. And, um, Speaker 1 00:28:07 I, I wanna say thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this up. This is one of the most neglected thing. Um, um, I mean, uh, gladly in the Middle East, it's important. But, uh, in Europe and the US, I think, uh, uh, not too much. And I'll say it's very important the way you present yourself. In fact, some of the student just told me that I cannot, this is not me. They're saying this, I cannot tolerate, I'm coding, right? I cannot tolerate anyone standing on stage and telling me about happiness and the importance of making money. And they look poor, and they don't know how, you know, they, the way they look, they, they, they're untidy. They're, you know, they're unfashionable. And it's so true. So, absolutely, it's very important to be, you know, well dressed. You don't have to go for brands or anything, but you just have to be, uh, uh, I think the, the, the image, when we talk about your image, um, it's important to have your self image first, but also the, the physical one is, is very important. So that's very important. Yeah. Speaker 0 00:29:17 Uh, for me, uh, when I even choose the outfit that I'm gonna wear, depending on the venue, but, um, I've seen some research about different colors and the influence, of course, lawyers, when they are coaching their clients that they're defending, um, sometimes will encourage them to wear white if they're, you know, being defended. It's associated with innocence, um, blue, particularly navy blue associated with feelings of trust, red sure. Associated with excitement, but also can, can be tiring on the eye. So, anyway, it's very, very fascinating. Um, so appearance, structure, uh, what are some of the other things that people come to you for help on? Is it mostly people that are, you know, trying to overcome in aversion to public speaking or, uh, people that are already pretty well versed in it and are just trying to become more effective? Speaker 1 00:30:26 Uh, you know, I had different clients with different needs. Uh, um, I mean, some of the people who are professionals and top, uh, companies, what they come to me, they ask me, I want more presence. I want the room. I want to, uh, amplify my career and accelerate, you know, uh, my career. So that's the ask usually. But here's the magic, and I always say this, I always say, it's what you do backstage that puts you onstage, right? And I want everyone to remember that what you do backstage puts you onstage. And backstage is not just a process of writing a speech. Backstage is a process of uncovering your deepest philosophy. So the people who come to me and ask me for presence, what they end up having is a self dis a journey of self-discovery, right? They're discovering their philosophy, they're discovering their values, they're intro respecting backstage is a process of introspection, of looking inward and trying to understand why do we feel the way we feel? Why do we evaluate these ideas as such? Um, uh, so, and when they do that and they learn to create that and turn it into a story, then the stage is just, you know, the, the, uh, the, the spotlight of all that work that's been done. Um, so, so, yeah. I mean, always the result is a process of self discovery and raising their self-esteem, for sure. Speaker 0 00:32:07 Yeah, I mean, I think the, the idea of having presence of commanding a room is, uh, in part, it's a combination of, uh, authentically projecting power and compassion or connection or empathy. And, uh, power doesn't need to be, you know, I'm, uh, Putin or whatever, but it's, um, it could be intellectual power. It, it could be other kinds of, of strength, um, and confidence. And as you say, confidence does come from having, uh, a sense that you really do know your values and, and your, you know, your subject. Um, but the compassion or the connection is also a way of saying that you have this power and the strength, but you would be positively disposed to exercise it in your interlocutors, uh, behalf. So, um, and there, there is a lot of techniques for, for doing that, but it's a fascinating subject. And Ayn Rand is an example of somebody who, um, projected power, and as you say, uh, the, the empathy of wanting to try to communicate and assist. Um, any thoughts or critiques on Ayn Rand as a public speaker? Speaker 1 00:33:42 Well, by any, uh, objective measure, I think, uh, Ayn Rand was not a good public speaker, right? Uh, now I think she can afford to do that because her articles were just brilliant, that the fact that she stands there and and speak them, that's enough, right? But that doesn't go for everyone, and that doesn't work, and you can't teach that. So I don't think she was a good public speaker. Um, and I think one of the problems that we face sometimes, at least in our movement mm-hmm. <affirmative>, is that many intellectuals take that method, that Speaker 0 00:34:18 Style <laugh> Speaker 1 00:34:19 Yeah, that style of, of a spoken article, right? And they just do the same thing, okay? And we forget that, uh, context matters, right? So a conference is completely different than a classroom. Uh, uh, a character is different than another. Um, so the number one objective for a speaker is to connect with, with their audience, and to connect with your audience. You've got to know your audience. You've got to spend, like, in my talk in background, I spent hours just researching the audience. I spent hours talking to, uh, the organizers and learning from them more about their needs and all of that, because that's what matters, right? It's not about, what do I have to say? Uh, it's about how to connect with them. Um, so, so yeah, I think it's the same thing goes for, for example, people ask me is, uh, what's his name? Um, um, I forgot his name, Ben Shapiro. They asked me, is Ben Shapiro a good communicator? And my answer is always, well, yeah, he has his style. He's a, he is convincing, he has his style, but his style is not something that you teach, right? Speaker 0 00:35:31 So Speaker 1 00:35:31 You never go, you know, and teach someone to speak that fast. It just doesn't work right? And the same tone, but it works for him. He's a special character. Uh, so it works for him, but that's not teachable. Um, Speaker 0 00:35:45 Yes. Yeah. I mean, I, I think again, it's about understanding your values, understanding your subject, understanding your, uh, audience, but also understanding and embracing your yourself, your, your default modes, um, the productive ones, and cultivating those. And, uh, not trying to be somebody else or e emulate somebody else e except if you're doing it, uh, on purpose for effect, for a reason. Um, alright. Well, you mentioned your talk at, uh, Belgrade at the new intellectuals conference at the E Rand Center Europe. And, uh, our friend Isadora Kolar organized, uh, so you spoke on quote, what's your love shake, spiritual values made visible, and I'm really eager to be able to get that video, but could you give us a small example of, uh, what you mean by a love shake and making our values more visible? Speaker 1 00:36:53 Uh, sure. So, uh, simply put, the Love Shake is a system to nurture your love, your self-love, and your, you know, your relationship with others, whether friendship or, uh, romantic. Uh, but the love shake and the word love shake was a journey that I had to go through in order to discover it. So the talk was, I, I wanted to take my audience through that journey, which had three different, uh, uh, steps. The first one is introspection. I showed them how I intro, inspected into my life. I talked about seeing my father and his hands. Um, they were like, looking, well, what's going on? And then I took them into the process of storytelling. And the last part was how to prototype your introspection. So it's not enough to ask, uh, what do I think about love? When do I feel love? It's very important to turn that into a story and then make it visible to prototype it as if it's a product. Speaker 1 00:38:00 So that was a journey. And then I, after this exercise, I, I told them how I discovered the love shake. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna tell it to you quickly. Uh, so briefly put, uh, when I did the introspective exercise, I saw myself in a deep place in my soul that I've been trying to avoid for the past two years. And I saw myself standing in line and shaking people's hands, right? And I don't know, like, I, I was looking at them and they, I know them, I know these people, but they all felt like strangers. So I kept shaking their hands and hearing the same words In the most robotic tone ever, may he rest in peace. Your father was a good man. May he rest in peace. And I promise you, JAG, I never in my life seen such contradiction between the movement of hands and the meaning of words. Speaker 1 00:39:06 And they, they didn't mean anything to me. And suddenly through that process, one stranger came up to me, and while I'm shaking his hand, he stopped in midair and performed a special handshake. So my father was a very selective man, and he had this special handshake, just a gimmick, right? But he had this special handshake that he teaches only to the people he loves most in life. Oh. And they were very selective. So by showing me that he knows the love shake, right? He didn't need any other word, but he showed me that he's special. And in that moment, he brought my father back to life, at least for a couple of seconds. So, um, so then I showed them, it's a, I can't show it to you here, but it's a process. It's a three step process, the loft shake, and I turned it into a SIS system. Speaker 1 00:40:01 And it's, it says the first, the first thing is stand apart in any relationship. It's counterintuitive, but it's very important to embrace the conflict, and you keep your individuality. So stand apart. The second principle is stand together. So find a deep connection, uh, a deep values that you can, uh, connect together with, and it takes work to do that. And then stand out. And the third principle is all about allowing your partner or your friend, uh, and helping them to grow, to stand out, uh, uh, to explore their creativity and, and create something new in the world. Because that's ultimately what you fall in love with, you know, as Rand would say, is you fall in love with, uh, how people face existence. Right? So that was the journey as briefly as I, as I can put it. Speaker 0 00:40:53 Fantastic. Well, we will, uh, be looking out for that video, and we will also share it with, uh, with our audience when, when we gave it. Thank you. Cause I'm, I'm entrusted another testimonial here from Xavier. Leopold coached me for my first talk ever. And I got a standing ovation at the end, thanks to his coaching, so grateful, because he had the insight to, on how to pull out the best in me. So Speaker 1 00:41:22 I love you, Xavier. Thank you so much. Uh, she has an story. I wanna hear you on Ted, on TEDx delivering that story one day. Speaker 0 00:41:33 Yes. Well, Xavier, get in touch with us at the Atlas Society. Maybe we need to bring you to our Guko Summit in Nashville. Um, but okay. Another question, uh, but first I'm going to just tee off of, of what Xavier said, um, and something that you said earlier about gratitude. Um, and, you know, it's, it's something that we focus on a lot at the Atla Society. We did our, um, draw my Life video on it, trying to take a look at it from a objectivist standpoint that, you know, not just kind of a Hallmark card, um, slogan, but as something that is empowering that gives you a sense of grounding, um, as saying, you know, these are the wonderful things that I have going for me. And, um, and it just gives you ballast to launch more confidently into the world. But tell us about, uh, how you think of gratitude and, um, how it connects to objectivism for you. Speaker 1 00:42:41 Well, um, I think fundamentally gratitude is, uh, a derivative of justice. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, right? So, uh, one thing I remember from the fountain head is one of the most beautiful scene of the boy on the bicycle. So I'm a, so I, I'm not gonna spoil it, but I, if you read the fountain head, I highly encourage you to go and reread that, that part. And it's amazing because it's the boy on the bicycle, you know, seeing this whole, uh, uh, uh, summer, uh, summer camp that ro built. And he asked him, uh, you know, who built this? And Ro said, I did. And, and the boy was surprised, like, it, is it kind of a trick? Or is it tree or a tree? So he said, who built this? And Ro said, I did it. And he asked him, what's your name? Howard Ro? And the boy says, thank you, Speaker 0 00:43:36 <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:43:38 Thank you. Right? These are the most powerful word, because it's a response to justice. You showed me that that is possible. Um, so that's the first part. The other part, which I think why it's very important that we talk more about gratitude, specifically from a, from a rational perspective, is because, and I talk about that in my episode, um, uh, an ideas on trial. Uh, the analogy I give is think about the children's story, the three little pigs, right? And we always look at that third pig who, who built his house out of brick, and it was solid, and it stood out of the, the wolf. But imagine if the moral of the story is, let's give our gratitude to, to the brick instead of the person who built the house. Now, unfortunately, today, that's how gratitude is being treated. We give more, uh, uh, thanks to the universe and to the tree, and to, which is fine, right? Speaker 1 00:44:39 I think it's, it's valid, but don't overshadow the importance of the people who are building all these things. Like when was the last time we looked at a, at a building? And we asked, who built that? When did our teacher in, in, in education taught us that, you know, this specific beautiful building was built by this person, or these ideas, or the vaccine, the first vaccine was created by that, whereas we don't know. So I think it's time. We, we, we celebrate the heroes, um, in our lives, uh, and throughout history, even if we disagree with their ideas, uh, but they built something worthwhile. Speaker 0 00:45:20 Speaking of agreeing or disagreeing, um, we have Alex Morena on Facebook asking for Leopold's opinions on best and worst public speakers. Speaker 1 00:45:34 Sorry, say again. I I got this, uh, Speaker 0 00:45:37 Best, best and worst public speakers. So whether they're public figures or presidents or world leaders, uh, that when you think of, you know, these people really are almost models of, of, you know, the best public speakers, whether it's Lincoln or not. Speaker 1 00:45:57 Yeah. I, I'd rather re give, uh, like characterization, uh, rather than name people, uh, just because maybe some people won't know them. Like, for example, one of the greatest speakers, I think, uh, even if it's not into philosophy, is Les Brown, right? Uh, so I think, um, I would put it this way, average speakers, uh, or average communicators are those who speak to your ears, right? Amazing communicators speak to your skin, right? That's how I like to retain it in my mind. Look for the speakers. If they care only about their content, their ideas, and they're just hammering you with all these ideas, then they're not good speaker. Why? Because you don't connect with them, they're talking to your ears. And that's why after a couple of minutes, you just open your Instagram and you start scrolling. Uh, but amazing communicators, they touch you, right? Emotionally and intellectually, and they push you to, to change your life, to transform your life. Uh, so I think that that is a benchmark on how you can elevate a good speaker or a, from a bad speaker or communicator. Speaker 0 00:47:12 All right. Well, we're kind of starting to come to, uh, the top of the hour, but I'm gonna take one more question, uh, from Instagram. My modern GA asks, we worry about our liberties being eroded in the West, but are there any places in the Middle East where liberty ideas are being promoted? Speaker 1 00:47:35 That's a tough one. <laugh>. Uh, that's a tough one, because I don't wanna be too harsh, but I will say, um, not as they should be, right? Um, so, so you see some reformation in some countries, uh, but you see that the focus is more on, uh, trivial things, uh, related to entertainment. Um, I, I can give a concrete example. For example, if you look at what's happening in Saudi Arabia, it's great, you know, you, you can see great changes, uh, but then you look and you see like, okay, now we are, uh, giving women the right to drive, for example, which happened a couple of years ago. Again, it's worth celebrating from one aspect, but that means that we still don't understand the, the, the fundamentals, the, the, the philosophy of liberty, because permission and rights are opposite, you know, to drive as a permission, uh, it's not a right. Uh, so I think that's what we lack in the region. We lack, uh, uh, a philosophy, uh, that drives our view of liberty. Uh, we can see different pieces, but we need to put them together in order to create, um, that masterpiece or that proper view of liberty. Speaker 0 00:48:57 All right. You had mentioned up at the top that, uh, not only Ayn Rand, but Leonardo da Vinci, uh, has been an influence. I'd love to hear that story. Speaker 1 00:49:10 Um, okay, so again, a question for, for everyone. Like, have you ever felt when growing up that you really didn't know what you want to do in your life? Me too. And I always say, I, I'm jealous in a positive way of all these people who, who, like at age 10, like, I ran for, she wanna be a writer. How can you do that? You know? But most of us, we don't know what you want, uh, to be or what you want to do. Uh, so that was my case. And the problem is I had so many passions in my life, and I didn't what to do. I didn't know what to do with them. And so one day I discovered the workbooks, or the, sorry, the notebooks of Leonardo DaVinci. So I was always fascinated by his art. But when I discovered his notebooks and started reading about his methods, I learned about his a special technique that he used in his painting, and it's called <unk>. Speaker 1 00:50:11 And I love that because briefly, it's, it's the art of blending or integrating or blending all the colors and all the tones and all the layers of painting together until what you have is something that looks airy. Uh, so you don't see all the layers. So if you look at the mono, Lisa, there's like a 150, I think, layer, uh, of, of painting. You don't see that, and you don't see outlines. You just see, uh, uh, uh, a beautiful, airy painting, right? And I was like, wow, that's, that's impressive. How can I use the same technique of spto, of blend and apply it in my life, right? And that changed my whole perspective, that it's fine to be multi-passionate. I'm not da Vinci in any way, of course, uh, he's a genius, but I'm like, I can learn that technique because many of us have this, um, love or multi, multi-pass for so many things. Speaker 1 00:51:10 You love economics and music, and I don't know what, uh, uh, writing, how do you put these together, right? Uh, so, so he gave me, I want to use the words that Robert and Carrie Ann were talking about from the fountain hand. He gave me the courage to apply all these integration, uh, together. Um, so, so, yeah, and I, I, I said to myself, you know what? I can actually use the same technique to blend and create something new out of my characters, not just my skills. Um, so I, I give Da Vinci the credit for that. Speaker 0 00:51:45 It's interesting when you talk about not knowing exactly what you wanted to do, and I definitely relate to that. I recall many times throughout my career, I felt, oh, you know, I should be just a rocket going straight towards a goal, and instead I'm working at TV stations, then speech writing, then philanthropy, then public policy, and, uh, all these different things. And it just seemed like a hodgepodge. But in retrospect, when I look back, I think sometimes having eclectic interests and, and eclectic career is a good training for leadership, because if you have, uh, played all of the intra instruments, then when it comes time to conduct, you can actually coach the individual members on your team on what to do. So, um, absolutely, absolutely. Speaking of coaching, so you also coach young people, not just on public speaking, but on a variety of, uh, subjects and, and mentoring young people more generally. Are there some common themes of, uh, which areas young people are struggling with or seeking help with their growth? Speaker 1 00:53:09 Um, yeah, absolutely. I would say the, the number one thing, the, the, the, the common denominator in almost everyone is, whether they articulate it this way or not, is everyone, they looking for a map in their life. Everyone wants a certain kind of a guidance, not just, uh, in their skill, but they really want, and I think that's why, um, people are so attracted to Jordan Peterson because in, in a way or another, he's giving them that, that guidance. Uh, so, so I worked a little bit on, on that idea, and I developed, uh, an acronym that I called map, which summarize what these people, the, the young people need. And I can put it into three, three ways. So map stands for M for meaning. So they want meaning and purpose. Everyone wants that. And they're stru struggling to find that. And even when they learn ideas and values, the number one problem is they don't know how, how to apply them, right? Uh, okay, I'm gonna read the objectives, ethics. Now how do I apply it in my life? How do I apply it in my business? So that's, that's the first one. The second one is, I'll say authenticity. Speaker 1 00:54:25 So so many of the young, uh, um, uh, of the youth, which I highly resonate with, they're looking to find their voice. Uh, and they want, so for example, they're inspired for by an influencer. They don't, maybe like the way she's acting on social media, but they're aspiring to her success and all of that. And they ask themselves, how can I achieve that while finding my own voice? Right? So I think that's, uh, and especially now in leadership, there's a high demand for authenticity and finding your own voice. So that's ma and p stands for, uh, the integration of personal and professional life. Uh, so, so they wanna, so, you know, all, you have all these ideas about work-life balance and all of that, but what they really want is to find something that they're so passionate about that they can spend their lives working, uh, uh, uh, at. Uh, so I think that's their, their main struggle. And it's, it's hard. I highly resonate with that. So it's, it's very hard. And I think that's why we all need p philosophy. Even if we don't wanna become philosophers, uh, a proper philosophy, uh, will give us that kind of guidance. Speaker 0 00:55:42 So you've done filmmaking, podcasting, uh, you're a great resource for others looking to improve public speaking. What do you struggle with? What is your greatest challenge? Where do you need help? Speaker 1 00:55:58 Hmm. Lot of places. Um, if I had to pick one, I would say my greatest challenge is to come up with something so simple that people want and need, and for me to be able to, to serve them that want and need. So that's, and that's a problem with having so many things, uh, which is a double edged sword. So you can have so many values, so many skills, but how do you translate that into something so simple and so obvious that people say, yes, I want that. Right? And you can help, you can help them. And by the way, one of the greatest thing about, uh, I love about coaching is that in the process, I get coach two. So whatever I have problem with, when I'm coaching someone, they coach me back, right? They, they teach me how to rethink about, and they teach me about their industries. Um, so yeah, I would say that's, that's my greatest, uh, struggle. Speaker 0 00:57:10 What is next? What do you got cooking or projects that you're working on, or even just considering for the future? I know you and I had talked backstage about, uh, the dream of finding a way to provide a forum for more young people to, uh, to, to give their own talks at, at conferences, but what's, yeah. What's new and how can we keep track of you? Speaker 1 00:57:36 So, what's New now is a program that I'm developing with, uh, my coaching partner, Robert, Robert Bagley. Um, and it's a, it's a program about how to improve your voice and your personal branding using ai. Uh, so we've been, we've been doing some studies on that, and, um, we wanna, we wanna create a new integration. Uh, so the best way to find me is, um, uh, on my website, novel philosophy.academy, uh, or on LinkedIn. I'm more active now on LinkedIn, so you can just, um, look me up, Leopold Aja, um, and I'm happy to connect with you all, all Instagram, same, same name. Speaker 0 00:58:22 Fantastic. Well, um, thank you Leopold again. Uh, I know it's late for you, but, uh, you are as bright and sparkly as if it was, uh, 10 o'clock in the morning instead of being 10 o'clock at night. So we very much appreciate it, and, uh, appreciate also the, the time that you've given me and, and your openness. And I hope that I'll get to, uh, have the opportunity to meet you in person, um, somewhere down the road. So thank you. Speaker 1 00:58:52 Same here. Thank you so much. And for all the listeners, um, I, I thank you for your attention and connection, Speaker 0 00:59:01 And yes, thanks to all who listened and all of your great questions and testimonials as well. Uh, again, gratitude being a, a proper application of justice. Um, speaking of which, if you enjoyed this video or any of the content and the work that we do at the Atlas Society, please consider uh, making a contribution tax [email protected]. And I invite you also to tune in next week when, uh, c e o and co-founder of Redirect Health, Paul Johnson will be on our show to talk about his book, addictive Ideologies, finding Meaning and Agency When Politics Fail You. It's a fantastic book, and he's a great guest, and we'll see you next week.

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