Arthur is known for his Communication Mastery. Almost every top speaker, actor, broadcaster, CEO, and celebrity personality, no matter how popular and successful, does not know how to breathe properly unless they’ve trained with him.
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3 Key Points:
- It’s not about what you do, it’s about who you are.
- Be the best version of who you can be every time.
- Breath is not just a physical thing, but an emotional one as well.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [01:07] – Arthur’s vocal awareness has been his life’s work for 53 years
- [01:19] – The greatest fears are the fears of abandonment and ownership of power
- [01:28] – Arthur helps people live in the sovereignty of what they’re capable of being
- [02:19] – Share something we don’t know about your area of expertise that as Entrepreneurs, we probably should: There is no “off switch” in vocal awareness. It’s not just about what we do, but about who we are
- [05:42] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: First worst moment was the day that Arthur received a copy of his book in Mandarin — it was published in China without his permission. Second was teaching empowerment through voice — no one else does this. Everywhere he goes, every seminar, and with every student, he needs to start at ground zero. The challenge for Arthur is to be the best he’s capable of being every single time because he “sells air”
- [09:10] – Visceral language is how a person makes voice visual
- [10:40] – A story invokes a person’s 4 basic emotions
- [12:30] – “Trust the teacher”
- [13:27] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: As Arthur was about to go to sleep one night in 1980’s, he started reading Quest Magazine. An idea came to him and he got up to write it down. He wrote, “Voice is the only artistic experience that is both finite and infinite at the same time. It is valuable and fragile, gone in an instant, unseen, only felt. Remembered from the past even from a long moment ago, anticipated, sensing it’s future even as its present has just occurred. It’s temporal, visceral, organic – such a complex, simple, and beguiling transcendent state.” Arthur spent 3-4 years studying this and he only change the first word to LIFE. He came to understand the paradigm of his work
- [17:56] – The Lightning Round
- [18:33] – Have a piece of paper and keep it by you whenever you have to be focused on Work
- [19:36] – 1st of the 7 rituals is to say, Thank You
- [20:21] – (Skipping the 2nd) The 3rd ritual is exclaiming, “It’s great to be alive!”
- [21:15] – Breath isn’t only physical, but also emotional
- [21:28] – “Structure does not impinge, it liberates. Speech is a habit, but it’s not our behavior”
- [21:50] – The 7th ritual is to be “My Self”
- [22:06] – Arthur talks about choosing your vocal and presentational persona
- [24:18] – Everything in life revolves around 2 things — to do something, or not to
- 25:08 – Connect with Arthur on VocalAwareness.com
- [25:31] – “Voice is power. When you own your voice, you own your power”
Arthur: Absolutely, with two exclamation points!
John: Arthur is known for his communication mastery. Almost every top speaker, actor, broadcaster, CEO, and celebrity personality, no matter how popular and successful, does not know how to breathe properly unless they’ve trained with him. I’m raising my hand, Fire Nation; I am one of those who do not know how to do that yet. But I locked him down, and we’re going to be working together soon, so I’m really excited about that.
Arthur, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro to give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Arthur: It’s my birthday in two weeks; it begins my 53rd year of vocal awareness. This is my life’s work. And sociologists tell us the greatest fear in society is public speaking. They’re mistaken. The greatest fear is actually – are actually two fears: fear of abandonment, and ownership of my power.
So my life’s work is about helping people live in the sovereignty of what they’re capable being, not worrying about what other people think. With my – this April is my bride’s and my 50th anniversary of – since we first met. And I am blessed, because I get to do what I love to do, and make a difference doing it. So – I don’t come up for air very often, so I will go on forever or stop when you ask me to.
John: Or I’ll just cut you off, because that’s what I do sometimes. Arthur, communication mastery is where you’re really an expert. And I think that’s super important. So share with Fire Nation one tip, one tool, one tactic that we just don’t know about communication mastery, that frankly we really should.
Arthur: I have been teaching – I’m a classical singer by training; I have a master’s in voice. And I’ve also had the privilege over all these decades to teach great numbers of superstar athletes in virtually any sport you can think of – including motorcycle dragsters. Something I’ve observed is that in mastery, one is a master only in their skillset. And as I say to all my athletes in the first meeting, you bring the talent to your sport, but someone actually teaches us every single thing we do. Everything. But in the rest of our lives, who teaches us how to be ourselves?
So that’s what vocal awareness is teaching. This is communication mastery. And what that also implies is that unlike sports or the arts, there is no off-switch. Because it isn’t only about what we do, but very clearly about who we are.
And one of the ways we do this is through the structure of my seven rituals—through things that hopefully we will explore a bit today, even in this brief conversation—which make fundamental differences to the entrepreneurs that are so committed to listening to everything that you share with them, with the entrepreneurs with people in the worlds of marketing and internet selling, etcetera. We don’t necessarily know how to own our space. What compels someone to listen to us? How do we actually prepare to be in communication mastery, and what does that mean? What does that take?
John: Fire Nation, I hope you’re hearing the words that Arthur is saying, because every one is for a purpose. Every one has meaning. Every one is intentional. That’s really what I’m taking away. It’s just something that I’ve recognized that I need in my life, and I hope you realize you need it in yours. Whatever venture you’re going into, Fire Nation, communication mastery is absolutely critical.
My latest passion project, which by the way is live when you’re hearing this right now, is a podcast on history. The podcast is called Memoir: Audio Biographies of the Men and Women Who Changed the World. Episode Number One: Alexander the Great. It’s an hour and 45 minutes long, and let me tell you: I record the first take of that (and I call it the first take because I’m gonna have to redo it all), and it’s just not wonderful. Because my breathing is off, I’m not really using the right cadence, etcetera, etcetera.
And so honestly, I believe everything comes for a reason. This is why I’m really glad I’m talking with Arthur right now. He’s come into my life at a perfect time, and I’m looking forward to having a conversation with him where I can dive deeper into communication mastery and to improve upon all these areas. I mean, I’ve done almost 2,000 podcast episodes, and I will always be learning and always be getting better. And I hope you do too, Fire Nation.
Arthur, let’s break it down, because I want to go to your journey as an entrepreneur, because you’ve had the ups and the downs. What would you say is your worst entrepreneurial moment to date? Take us to that moment, and break down that story.
Arthur: In preparing for this, I thought about what could that possibly be? Because my brain doesn’t go there. But perhaps there are actually two challenges. One, a number of years ago – I’ve written five books, and one day I got in the mail a copy of my first book in Mandarin. Because it had been published in China, in Mainland China, without my permission. And that meant without any royalties. So to this day, I’ve never seen a penny. But I have the book in Mandarin! Only thing I can read is my name!
And then the other is, I teach something that nobody else – literally, on the planet – teaches. I teach empowerment through voice. I teach communication mastery. And so everywhere I go, every seminar, every new client, every student, I’m starting over. It’s sort of like the myth of Sisyphus; I’m rolling that rock up the hill for eternity. And yet, the mastery comes in my ability to own the integrity of who I am, and know that even if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you will understand it. And so the challenge each and every time is to be the best of whom I’m capable of being.
There are so many extraordinary entrepreneurial moments in my life, not the least of which was being called to train Sean Connery, who was going to be Daddy Warbucks in the movie Annie many years ago. And then when he pulled out of the project, I got another call six months later from another production company to train Albert Finney, who was going to be Daddy Warbucks. And so, becoming the vocal director for the movie Annie was one of the high points of my life. Teaching Aileen Quinn, who played Annie, and Albert, etcetera, etcetera.
And I suppose – I’ve spoken about two very random topics: a book in China and a Hollywood movie. And the reason I bring up these seemingly disparate stories is that I sell air. People ask me, what is your target market, and I said, I sell air. We all have to breathe, and we all have to communicate. So I say to your entrepreneurs, be very clear about what your target market is. Be very clear about what your personal brand is. What compels someone to want to listen to what you have to say?
Very fundamental—you astutely picked up the intention in my words a couple of minutes ago, John. And I say that because there’s a trademarked piece of vocal awareness called “visceral language,” where I make voice visual. I literally teach people how to see every single thing they say on the virtual computer screen in your mind’s eye.
If you, from this call, went and took a look – my 16th, 17th, and 18th students were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August 5th in Canton, Ohio. And I share this because I wrote two of the speeches. LaDainian Tomlinson’s and Terrell Davis’s. And LaDainian’s actually went viral. Take a look at it on YouTube. And just the last six minutes, because that’s the part that made it go viral. And then if I were to show you the speech, you would see that word underlined, that consonant stressed that breath marked, etcetera, etcetera.
So in your story of Alexander the Great and Winston Churchill and whomever else you’re going to be speaking about, we annotate it in visceral language so you are telling the story the way you want to tell it. We don’t just tell stories to our children like, “Once upon a time there were three bears, there’s a great big papa bear, midsized mama bear –” But when we sell, when we’re on the Internet, when we do these other things, we’re just streaming data.
But we want to understand that story evokes man’s four basic emotions. So you want to be attuned to how you connect in your storytelling through the way you breathe, through the way you emphasize, through the stories you tell. Sorry for going on so long, but you get me amped up here.
John: Well, I could listen to you all day. I love how you shared that story invokes our four major emotions. So think about that, Fire Nation. Think about the words that you use. Think about the stories that you tell. It’s incredibly vital that you do so. And you’re right now listening to a master. You’re listening to Arthur, who’s written speeches for Hall of Famers in the NFL; who's worked with famous actors. But the reality is, he’s just dedicated his life to this craft. Which is why he’s become the greatest.
Arthur: May I interrupt? Because you just did something so wonderful. And you noticed it, but I want your Nation to also pick up on it. Based on what I was saying, you listened so acutely that you started hearing yourself differently. You started communicating that word the way you wanted it to land. It was intentional. With not just the way you said the word, but the pitch, the inflection, the emotion around it.
And I want your Nation to understand how quickly you applied what I said, and made it sound like you. So, there was a real learning opportunity there for your Nation to understand that the person that they trust is actually capable of really taking on the work. And that’s integral. Integrity, integration have the same root source. They mean wholeness. So I say to you in Fire Nation: Trust the teacher, because this is a man of integrity, who immediately integrates what I’m teaching into himself.
John: Well, number one, I receive that. Thank you for sharing that. And I really appreciate you stepping in and making that clear. Because that’s really what I want to use this podcast for, is a forum for learning. I mean, I am an expert at very few things, so I like to bring on experts in other areas that can really help Fire Nation—you, my listeners right now—take that next step forward in these different areas of life.
And that word “intentional” for me is so key. For a long time I was not living an intentional life. And when I started to, things started to change. So Fire Nation, I hope you really take that word intentional and start applying it to what you’re doing day to day. Now, you’ve had a lot of great “aha” moments, so Arthur, take us to one of the greatest ideas that you feel like you’ve had in your life to date, and kind of tell us that story.
Arthur: What a great question. I was going to sleep one night in 1980, reading Quest Magazine, and an idea came to me that wouldn’t go away until it made me get up and write it down. The only paper I had was the cover of the magazine, which is where I wrote this thought. The magazine is now framed on my studio wall today. And the thought was: “Voice is the only artistic experience which is both finite and infinite at the same time. It is fallible and fragile, gone in an instant, unseen, only felt. Remembered from the past even a long moment ago, anticipated, sensing its future even as its present is just occurring. It’s temporal, visceral, organic. Such a complex, simple, and beguiling transcendent state.”
That thought came through about 10:00 one night. I began reflecting on it for the next three or four years, from many different fields of study: from philosophy, psychology, voice science. And then one of the things I did was change the first word. “Life is the only artistic experience which is both finite and infinite at the same time.” Or, “Love—it is fallible and fragile, gone in an instant, unseen, only felt.”
And I came to understand the paradigm of my work, which is to help us all understand the power of voice, through the power, through the integrity of our voice, of who we are. And this has become my life’s mission. It’s interesting that I’d already been teaching for over two decades, but in 1980 I came to really understand the profundity of this work beyond what I’d already known.
John: Fire Nation, value bombs are being dropped right now. And we have some more coming as soon as we get back from thanking our sponsors.
So Arthur, we’re back, and this is typically where we go into the lightning round. And I know I prepped you for it, and I know you’re ready for it. But honestly, with how this interview’s going, I just kinda want to shift things up. Because I feel like you’re just sharing so much value in the art of communication, and the art of everything that we need to communicate as a human—to be intentional and to have integrity—so let’s maybe just go into a direction where you’re seeing entrepreneurs doing this correctly, or maybe incorrectly, and how can we improve into what we’re doing when it comes to communication in this world today in 2018?
Arthur: Have a piece of paper, and keep it by you on the computer screen, by the computer, by your phone; whenever you need to be focused in what I call the Work. Capital-W Work. And the beginning of it begins with the work stature. If I say to you right now, sit up nice and tall, sit at attention—and you’ll notice that you hold your breath.
John: I did notice that!
Arthur: And now if I ask you, forget that—because I never want you to sit at attention and present. Rather I want you to embody a man of stature, feeling extraordinary about who you are. And feel a thread pull from core strength below your navel to the top of your head. And when you do this you’re going to notice you inhale. Embodying yourself in stature.
And then the first of the seven rituals that are always posted in front of us is to say thank you to Source. Thank you to God. You can be an atheistic, an agnostic—still find something to thank. Even simply saying, “Thank you,” and really taking it in with a meaningful connection—watch what happens. So if I say to you, say thank you to Source, or however you want to identify for yourself. And just take in the thought for a moment.
And you’ll notice the first thing you do once again is inhale. And your internal and external space get quiet. I will skip the second ritual for now, and go to the third. And if I ask you to take a nice deep top-of-the-morning breath. It’s great to be alive! And your chest rises, your tongue and jaw flex, but it doesn’t matter in this moment. Now, instead of taking a breath his next time, allow—hear the word “allow” —a slow, silent, loving breath. It will take about five seconds. And we allow it slowly, completely silently, deeper, deeper, deeper. And exhale.
And you notice your chest did not so much rise as your ribcage expanded. Simply by changing one word—from “take” to “allow.” It also introduces an understanding that a breath isn’t only physical, it’s also emotional.
What I’m suggesting here, what I’m teaching here in these seven rituals of vocal awareness, is: Structure does not impinge, it liberates. Speech is habit, but we are not our behaviors. It’s merely how we behave, but it isn’t who we are. So we use these structural principles to help us claim the sovereignty of whom we’re capable of being. Because the seventh ritual is: Be my Self. Three words. The third word is a capital S. It’s not “be myself,” two words. It’s “Be my Self,” with a capital S.
And perhaps the last tip that I’ll give in this moment is from an exercise called “choosing my vocal and presentational persona.” The root of the word “persona” comes from an Etruscan root word. It means, “though the sound.” On the telephone, in this call today, 92 percent of the information is conveyed through the sound of the voice, not the content. So the persona exercise creates the opportunity to acknowledge—this is how I want to be owned.
And you write it down. You determine, this is my persona. This is my brand. And then you learn how to embody that. A couple of adjectives, a paragraph; whatever it is that feels true for you. And then in your – whatever it is you’re doing in your entrepreneurial venture, practice the first paragraph. Write it out, and practice delivering it consistently.
Look in my work at the visceral language exercises. Look in my work at vocal warm-ups. Who warms up their voices? That’s absurd. But my students do. Is it absurd? Do you go out and exercise without stretching? Of course not. But we go to work every day striving to make our livings through our voices without warming them up. So I have an exercise called a “Yawn-Sigh.” Hyeaaah. A simple exercise like that, and you hear the additional resonance, the colors. The shape of my sound is fundamentally different even after one of those. So imagine, if that’s in my voice, the impact it could have on yours.
So let me end this answer to your thoughtful question by saying, every single thing in life revolves only around two things: to choose to do something, or to choose not to. Never matters how scary, how seemingly daunting; all that matters is how badly I want it. So in the structure of this work I’m teaching you how to make informed choices as to how you want to be known, how you want to communicate; discovery exists in this process. So did I answer your question effectively enough, John?
John: Effectively would be the word. And I will share that I’m left wanting more. And I hope you are too, Fire Nation. So Arthur, if we, the listeners today, want to find out more of what you have going on, where can we go?
John: Vocalawareness.com. Arthur, I want to thank you for being here, brother. Share any last parting piece of guidance or voice that you want to share with us, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Arthur: Well first, thank you so much for creating this opportunity. I really appreciate it. And two, simply remember: Voice is power. When you own your voice, you own your power. Be well.
John: Hey, Fire Nation, hope you enjoyed our chat with Arthur today. Man, what a master. And if you’re ready to master productivity, discipline, and focus in 100 days, well then visit themasteryjournal.com. And I’ll catch you there. Or I’ll catch you on the flip side.
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