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Make It Make Sense

authenticity coins Jun 07, 2023

We all love a good story, especially when that story personally resonates with us, when it genuinely moves us, and when it makes a memorable impact on us.

With that said, one of my first clients was Carmelo Anthony. It was 2003 and Carmelo had just wrapped up his freshman year at Syracuse, where he had helped lead the Orangemen to a National Championship. He was projected to be a top pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, and I had the honor to help prepare him for his pre-combine/pre-draft interviews. We had never met, and I could not relate to his journey, his life experience, or his upbringing. However, I could relate to him as a human being, so that’s what I decided to do. That’s all I could do.

A day before the meeting, I created what is now considered one of our most tried and true Game On concepts called “Coins”. We met at an office in Santa Monica and after a bit of standard small talk, I sat down with him and his team of colleagues/close friends and we all shared some Coins. I broke it into 5 categories: People, Places, Pets, Food, and Bonus. We discussed what makes us smile, what makes us unique, and what brings us joy. We shared the space and shared our “Coins”. We kept it light and only offered up what we felt comfortable bringing to the table.

I remember Carmelo mentioning his interest in art and design. I shared that my mom was an artist and designer. He nodded, smiled, and we made our first connection. Simple as that. There was nothing profound, there was no forced bond, there was nothing said like, “I know what you’re going through” or “I totally get it”. I didn’t know exactly what he was going through, and I didn’t totally get it. But “Collecting Coins” with Carmelo and his crew allowed us all to realize we had some things in common, and we were closer than we initially thought. That’s my story about my first encounter with future NBA Hall-of-Famer Carmelo Anthony.

As leaders, coaches, teachers, and facilitators, when we see ourselves as presenters, that story is even more impactful when we can bring it home, wrap it up, land the plane, while understanding and honoring the needs of the audience. When that story is all said and done, I’ve found audiences will appreciate the message in its entirety, and care and remember it in perpetuity, when we can get out of our own way as presenters, humble ourselves to the needs of our audiences, and…make it make sense.

That transition from a fun, entertaining story, to a memorable, impactful message may be closer to accomplishing than we think. I’ve found these transition statements below to be all we need to go from performative story to impactful presentation. These phrases won’t elicit applause, they won’t rock the house, and they won’t get the audience on their feet. What they will do is subtly invite them in, authentically pique their interest, and let them know you are about to make it make sense:

1. The reason I share this story is…

2. How this story connects to your needs is…

3. The purpose of this story is…

With these simple, transitional phrases, the star doesn’t have to be the story or the presenter, but instead, the showstopper can be the connection and impact made, and the grand finale can be how it all relates back to the needs of the audience.

With all that said, the reason I share this story about Carmelo with you, how it connects to your needs, and it’s purpose is…you may not know what your audience is going through and you may not fully get it, but open up some space for discussion, honor their needs, and if you can share some Coins and be a Coin Collector, you’ll find you have some things in common, and you may realize you’re closer than you think to…make it all make sense.

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