March 26, 2010

Advice I wish I’d given myself!

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

On Wednesday my nephew asked me, “If you could travel back in time to the year 2000, what advice would you give yourself?”

This got me thinking.  So here is my top 10:

1.) The internet will catch on, buy shares in Google now, and buy the domain facebook.com.

2.) Do not go and see any new films by George Lucas – you will be bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

3.) Do not buy shares in RBS, Northern Rock, Lehman brothers, or Enron.

4.) On Friday 29th December 2001 wear a really good shirt and aftershave, trust me, she will make you happier than you have ever been.

5.) No matter how scared you are, have faith in your abilities, and know things will always get better.

6.) Keep going to the gym and for God’s sake stretch!

7.) Back up your computer every week, especially in September 2008.

8.) Don’t buy a motorbike it will really hurt.

9.) Tell your friends and family you love them, you may not always have the chance.

10.) I know you will probably ignore all of the above, but trust me on points 1, 4 and 9.

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.

Movie Sequels I’d Like To See

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

Movie sequels, I’d like to see (some are mine, some are other peoples):

1. The Post Graduate

2. Slightly Lowered Expectations

3. Pretty Old Woman

4. When Harry Left Sally

5. Malcolm XI

6. My Right Foot

7. The Matrix Reformatted

8. Casino Royale with Cheese

9. Sex Lies and You Tube

10. Lunch at De Beers

11. Harry Potter and the Unsustainable Adult Career

12. Brokeback Mountain 2: Saddle Sore

13. Three Men and the Social Services Investigation

14. Indiana Jones and the Destroyer of Childhood Memories

15. 301

16. Bigger

17. The French Connection UK

18. Eight

19. Ferris Bueller’s Unending Drudgery

20. Terry’s Clockwork Orange

21. Das Re-Boot

22. From Dusk Till Shaun

23. Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

24. Tango and Cash Back

25. The passion Of The Christ II: Die Harder

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.

March 17, 2010

Courage

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

After accepting the bet from fellow speaker Jim Lawless I had less than 12 months to become funny. Apparently most comedians perform for between 3 to 10 years before they’ll attempt a 1 hour solo show at Edinburgh. Not even Sir Ranulph Fiennes has had to face a comedy audience baying for his blood when he attempted a challenge.  (Although admittedly I was unlikely be attacked by an angry polar bear.)

In May 2009 after 8 months of blood sweat and tears I performed my very first one hour show at another comedy festival. I’m not going to lie to you, it was pretty scary, in fact it was more terrifying than trying to stop a Toyota, but I survived it.

Or I thought I did. Apparently when you are working on a show you should call it “a work in progress”.  Professional reviewers don’t review “works in progress”, but I didn’t know this.  So I was a little distraught when I read my first review a day after the show.

It was scathing. My heart almost broke as I read it. Imagine your worst ever annual performance assessment from your manager – and triple it!

“That’s it!” I told my wife, Kirsty, “This is just too hard.” I had put everything on the line to take on this challenge, my career, my reputation (not to mention the thousands of pounds it costs to put on a show at Edinburgh).

I was very close to packing it all in until Kirsty emailed me this quote from Ambrose Hollingworth:

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear. The timid presume it is lack of fear that allows the brave to act when the timid do not. But to take action when one is not afraid is easy. To refrain when afraid is also easy. To take action regardless of fear is brave.”

It stopped me in my tracks.

Was I going to let one man’s opinion derail 8 month’s work? Was I going to let one man who had never actually performed comedy on stage decide whether I should perform at Edinburgh or not?

Or could I learn from the experience? I swallowed my pride and emailed the reviewer.  He gave me some ideas about how I could improve my show, and I went away and I worked…

Was I scared? …Yes, but if I managed to put on the show it could change my life.

Now 6 months after performing my Edinburgh shows I still look back on those 21 nights and smile. Yes, there were a few more tears and tantrums along the way, but I managed to do something really difficult that earned the respect of my fellow comics, and has changed my life in ways I cannot describe.  Perhaps most importantly I won that pound!

Now I spend my time sharing my story with business audiences.  I tell them about the 7 key things that I learned on my journey and how they can apply them in their lives to help achieve their own goals.

Often after my talks audience members will tell me their stories.  How they have been so afraid of failure that they have not tried something new, even when the benefits were clear.   Or how they haven’t suggested a new idea to their boss in case he told them that they were stupid.  Then they tell me that after listening to my story and learning about my 7 keys they were going to take action even though they were afraid.

Just remember all it takes is courage…  my question to you is, what have you been putting off?

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.

March 9, 2010

Sound Familiar?

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

Funnily enough a great comedy performance is very similar to a great business presentation, both require confidence, creativity, planning, and a little bit of showmanship.

However, it still amazes me how many people think that comedians are making stuff up on the spot. A great comedian only appears to be making funny stuff up instantly.

Most comedians start out by performing a 5-minute slot and then depending on their talent or how frequently they perform they will move to a 10-minute slot after about a year! After 2 years of hard work they finally move up 20 minutes! They’ll probably stick with that 20 minute set for at least 6 months, honing their material and tweaking their delivery to ensure they maximise the laughs, peppering it with the occasional adlib or topical joke.  This is why performing a 1 hour show in less than a year was sooooo darn hard!

I often coach executives who have to give a speech.  I’ve found that it’s nearly always the same few mistakes that stop a speaker giving a great presentation.

1) Not writing from your audience’s perspective. Who are your audience?  What’s your outcome? What do you want them to learn or remember?

Solution – Write down in a single paragraph the 5 to 7 most important things you need to tell your audience – an audience won’t remember any more than that anyway. Then look at how you can deliver that information in a way that they will understand and find interesting.

2) Padding for time. Conferences often want speakers to talk for an hour. This forces you to fill a presentation with information that may not be relevant or useful, rather than do a brilliant 30 minutes that everyone finds interesting

Solution – Challenge timings. If you only need 20 minutes, ask for 20 minutes and give your audience an extra coffee break!

3) Running out of time. Worse still is a speaker who has to rush their big ending / conclusion as they’re overrunning!

Solution – Write out your speech, 500 words is about 3 minutes of material. Record it and see if you are within your allotted time.

4) Not knowing your material. So many speakers don’t rehearse thoroughly enough, and end up reading their slides to remind them! Why bother being there? The audience can just as easily read your slides as you can. Slides should illustrate your point, not be a word for word reminder of your speech.

Solution – Rehearse! When did you last see Jack Dee get up on stage and read his notes before he told a joke? Why should an audience be bothered to listen to you if you can’t be bothered to learn your own presentation! If you need a crib sheet that’s ok. But it should be only one sheet with a maximum of 7 points. As I said before, the audience won’t remember much more than that anyway.

5) Pointless graphs and slides. Please don’t use graphs or slides that are so overloaded with information that no one can read them, let alone digest the information.

Solution – Edit, edit and edit again! Over the 11 months I was preparing for Edinburgh I dumped nearly another shows worth of material, as it didn’t fit or work with the rest of the show. It’s the same with slides; you must keep asking yourself, why am I showing the audience this? How can I make this more impactful?

6) Not learning from past mistakes. Every year you basically present the same information, all you do is change the dates on the slides or add in this quarter’s sales figures.

Solution – Record every presentation you make, and more importantly listen to the recordings, no matter how painful it is (trust me, it’s better that you find it painful, rather than your next audience!). What would you change to make it better? If you don’t know ask someone else’s advice – preferably a speaker who you’ve previously heard and enjoyed!

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.

March 1, 2010

A Dogs Life

In August 2008 Marc Hogan was bet £1 that he couldn’t become a stand up comic in less than 12 months and perform a one man comedy show at the Edinburgh Comedy Festival in August 2009 for 21 nights. He won the bet!

Last  Monday Kirsty and I arranged to go on a husky ride to celebrate our 9-year anniversary (I know, I know, how romantic).

However on Monday morning it was cancelled due to the snow….

Do these huskies have a union? Are they currently outside their employers’ offices standing around fires that they’ve lit in barrels of bakers complete?

Are they waving placards with “No Mush in Slush!”

Have they been radicalised after watching “Marley and Me” or “Hotel for Dogs”?

Has their union the Canine Human Unity Movement or CHUM for short called a ballot?

Is their Union Leader Bob Cry-Wolf hoping that a series of Wildcat strikes will cause the management paws for thought?

Have they taken up with the Reindeer Alliance to plan a series of one day walk(ies) outs to cause maximum discomfort to management over Christmas 2010?

Bob Cry-Wolf (again) has stated, “these strikes are not about pay and benefits the management are barking up the wrong tree, it’s about the safety of our members.”

The various leaders of the Unions have now arranged to meet up for a bow wow (sorry, I couldn’t resist!)?

Huskies not running in snow! You couldn’t make it up….

Click here to watch Marc’s showreel. If you would like to find out more about Marc, visit www.marchoganlive.com or to book him for a speaking event please contact your favourite speaker bureau.