I had the opportunity this past week to see Peter Shankman speak at a conference.

I don’t know where I’ve been spending my time, but I had never heard of him before. (Sorry Peter).

He took to the stage with a decidedly different approach than most of the other speakers at the three day Public Relations conference where some of the greatest PR minds in Canada gathered for our annual “inspiration and get connected” fix.

As soon as Peter came on stage, I immediately sat up and was ready to be entertained.

Even though I did not know who he was, what I already knew was that he was going to be bold, he was going to be different, and he was going to be authentic – just by how he entered the stage and introduced himself.

In my books, anyone who can take to the stage and entertain while delivering his message, is worth listening to.

So what was different about Peter?

First of all, notice I’m referring to him as “Peter.” You’d swear we were friends! I did not speak with him in person and he does not know me at all. Yet, somehow, by the time he had finished his presentation, I felt like we could be.

I knew a fair bit about him, I knew how to reach him, he repeatedly told us the number on the screen was his actual cell phone and he would answer if we reached out to him.

I tried it. He did!

He also made himself personable, friendly, and real. Like a good friend would.

Perhaps it’s my lifetime of scripting and watching scripted professional presentations that are polished, textbook and perfect that had me so intrigued by Peter’s “crazy,” off-the-wall style.

In fact, I am starting to refer to myself as a recovering PR professional who used to have to make sure everything was “perfect” before it was presented.

Here’s a secret: Being “un” perfect is so much more fun.

AND – real.

People don’t want perfect anymore.

The masses – the generations younger than I who are on social media constantly – are used to seeing the immediate and the real; the everyday and the unscripted.

They are used to just being who they are, and not always looking their best.

In fact, I think it makes us like each other a little more when we are witness to the everyday.

It makes us relate to each other more somehow; like each other more; understand each other more.

Being 'un' perfect helps make us like and understand each other moreClick To Tweet

What area of your work or life could you handle being a little less “perfect” and a little more “YOU?”

Here are five key things I learned from Peter Shankman, who, by the way, has made millions just by being himself, being authentic, and thinking differently – oh and being smart about it doesn’t hurt. 😉

  1. Be unscriptedSure, give your rehearsed talk, but use real words you think of in the moment. Peter stood up there on stage in front of 100s of professional speechwriters and delivered his speech without using a script.

    Yes, he has probably delivered a similar talk many times, but being able to tell stories, be real and share from his personal life, made us know, like and trust him more – which are the key elements behind being successful today.

    And it doesn’t just go for personal relationships. It goes for corporate ones too.

    You are more likely to do business with people and companies that you “know, like and trust.” How do you become knowable, likable and trustable? By acting that way and by being real.

  2. Be unplannedDon’t spend time planning everything. Instead be ready to respond to what shows up.

    Peter figures everyone should take an improv class in their life – know how to respond to the unexpected by relying on yourself to be creative and in the moment.

    They say that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Same goes for business and success. If you spend all day planning your business and planning your success, when do you have time for doing?

    Go out there and go for it!

  3. Be yourselfI know, this is overused, and yet, not. Who else are you going to be? Well, you may be what your mother wants, or your boss wants; you may be what your spouse or your children want; you may be what you think society wants you to be or what you were taught in school.

    What would happen if you were actually yourself? Do you even know who that is?

    The best presentations and most engaging people I have met lately seem to be real, unedited and authentic. They are themselves. And I find it so refreshing.

  4. Be helpfulI have heard this so often lately. And not just in the matter of customer service — also in the matter of sales.

    What would it mean to focus on helping others versus looking for help? What if you just entered each day trying to help and serve others? How would your life be different? Try it!

    When you go into work tomorrow, instead of thinking of all the things you have to tick of your to-do list that day, why not try to help someone else with theirs?

    I’d be curious if your to-do list also miraculously got done. Be helpful. If shifts the focus off of yourself and onto those around you.

  5. Be entertainingOK, no pressure. If there’s anything pressuring our young people online today it’s having to be entertaining and “like” able – counting their approval ratings by the number of “likes” on their Instagram feed or how many streaks they have going on Snapchat.

    But honestly, in this world of 2.7-second attention spans and multiple channels going at all times, we don’t have the time or the patience to be bored.

    So, don’t be boring. Be you. Be a little bit fun.

    Say something others want to hear, see or read. And if you don’t try too hard, it will happen. Honest. I honestly think it takes more time to be boring than to be entertaining.

    Allow yourself to be a creative thinker. Be in the moment. Say what comes to mind. Be unscripted.

    That’s what’s entertaining – the real you. The “you” who has to hide behind “perfect” is the boring one.

By being you, your original you, you are naturally entertaining. Because if you are just like everyone else, you’re vanilla. And, like the incomparable Oscar Wilde has said before me: “Be Yourself; Everyone Else is Already Taken.”

'Be Yourself; Everyone Else is Already Taken.'Oscar WildeClick To Tweet

Susan Elford

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PR Launchpad Guidebook ABOUT SUSAN ELFORD

Susan Elford is a Leadership Coach and PR Strategist who especially loves to work with women who want it all: a fulfilling career or business while living a full and satisfying life. Susan helps her clients get real about their strengths and celebrate and promote them so they get more of what they want: success at work; success in business & success in life.

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