Winding back 7 years, when you start debating competitively. How has debate changed you?
Debate is what really helped Manu gain a lot of self-confidence. That’s something that he found through a number of channels, whether that would be his experiences and connections, but one of Manu’s largest barriers to confidence was that, at the time in Grade 7, he had a speech impediment.
Compared to a lot of others, Manu was lucky. He only had a small lisp that stopped him from accurately saying the “r” and “s” letter, but that alone already crippled his confidence. It was an issue that cut to his heart, and made him want to do something about it. Debate was his unique solution to overcome his speech impediment.
What this illustrated to Manu was the fact that when we have a problem, our first reaction shouldn’t be considering it as a problem. What does he mean? Well, at first he believed that his lisp was a huge problem, but he never viewed it as something that could potentially help him become a better speaker. These problems and roadblocks are not something that should be viewed as a flaw or weakness, but rather building blocks for creating a new strength.
Debate was a perfect platform for all of this. Manu found the people in the community so supportive and incredible.”Sure they’re nerdy”, but so many of them have such ambitious goals.
Manu continues to cherish those moments where he met all these talented and interesting people from countries around the globe, like Bermuda, China, and Germany. Bonus? Whenever he wants to start a business, he can see whether he can ask for the help of anyone in that community.
Through debate, the kid with a lisp discovered that his voice still matters.
You’ve done a TED talk. Any tips for the people back home, to engage them and boost their public speaking skills?
The key thing is the message. A lot of times, it doesn’t matter how you say something, what’s important is that you have something important to say. Manu has two key points that he always keeps in mind:
- TAKE PRIDE. Be proud of yourself and the message that you have to share. Manu’s “personal brand’ is that he shares raw, practical fact that will help people to enhance their lives. Stuff that is actionable, that you can take, grab, and do the next day.
- DONT’ TRY AND BE A COPYCAT. Whatever you share should always come back to yourself and your own unique message. Of course, Manu takes a few lessons from other people when it comes to public speaking. He imitates Gary Vaynerchuk’s raw message and delivery. But at the same time, Manu emphasizes the practicality of his message and custom-tailors it for his main audience: students.
Always give before you get, can you expand on that?
This one comes from Gary Vaynerchuk too. It’s a rule called 51/49, meaning that in every conversation, you want to be ok with giving 51% and only receiving 49% back in return.
That’s what Manu bases a lot of his actions on. You can’t always expect to get something in return. That’s such a common misinterpretation of the rule. Just because you helped someone doesn’t mean that they will help you. There are no guarantees.
But “the best actions in life that you can give to people are the actions you can give to people and never expect something in return”. Why? Because those are the people who become your #1 fans. The ones who actually end up commenting and engaging with you on social media. Even if you aren’t going to be getting some money (or even becoming friends), you can benefit in so many other ways.
Karma is real. There’s no proof of this, but when you do good things, good things will happen to you. The problem is that people are just looking too short term. A time span of 2 years might not even be enough. We should be talking about 5 to 10 years down the line.
Manu shares a story about Bill Clinton. When he was the president, he met a young kid from Guinea when he was 7. He told that kid he could do anything he ever wanted.
10 years later, when this kid was 18, he walked right up to Bill Clinton and told him that he had changed his life.
Manu advocates that for every action you take, you should be considering your legacy. It might not have a direct impact on the people you see. In two or even three years you might not see the tangible results. But over the long run, you can and you will have a significant and large impact.
Who are the people who can help us? And who has helped you?
“YOU CAN REACH OUT TO ME.”
Manu is big on connecting people in whatever industry. There are a few mentors that Manu has learned the most from, and those are Michael Hyatt and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Michael Hyatt is a Dragon on Dragon’s Den. He sold his company recently for 400 million, but still remains that cheapest man that Manu knows. He will go to a second-hand store and start negotiating to lower the price. Michael taught Manu to not only care about the money but also the relationships, along with giving lots of advice for speaking and other initiatives he is taking.
The second role model and mentor for Manu is Gary Vaynerchuk. As background, this guy is a multimillionaire who runs a marketing firm called VaynerMedia. He’s huge on personal branding. What Gary V taught Manu was that empathy is built into everything you do in business. You need to build a business out of people rather than numbers.
To get in contact with both of these mentors, Manu had to be super persistent. He didn’t just send an email and hope for the best. Instead, he made a point of engaging with them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc. That meant always commenting, sharing, and engaging. That’s how he got on the radar of these super busy founder and business people.
On the flip side, that engagement on social media wasn’t even the most important part. Instead, the most important part is that you are on the road to be just like them. You are actually taking action rather than just fanboying.
Looking to start meeting interesting people? LinkedIn is probably the best platform to do this. Ew. [we know] Isn’t LinkedIn for business people? Who cares. You need to reach out. Search up a keyword, reach out with LinkedIn Mail. If you write properly, tailor it to what they do, what you want to return (how you can help), and explain why you’re a person they need to meet, you’ll be surprised by the quick results.
Best Connections are the ones that you already have. How do you approach growing your network?
- Don’t be annoying. You don’t have to be a hassle and a pain in the butt. 10 dm’s on Instagram and Twitter is pushing it. Remember that there is a key difference between reaching out and engaging. Sure you can send a LinkedIn message, but if they don’t’ get back to you, no big deal. Make sure that you engage them by commenting, retweeting etc. They’ll see your name and they’ll be more inclined to actually talk and listen to what you have to say.
- Whenever you try to go in and meet someone, never go ing for the ask early. Never say that you need money or help etc. Treat every connection as if they are the best person in the world for you. You never know where you could go from a conversation. Opportunities always start with a conversation. But, you are never going to have a real, deep conversation with someone if you go in for the ask too quick.
What have been you most absurd calls on LinkedIn?
One of them involved starting a cat business. She wanted to know whether animal rights would allow her to sell cats (NO!).
Another involved a 10-year-old who wanted to start a hedge fund. Manu thought that was weird, not because he thought the boy can’t do it, but because he was inspired by watching the “Wolf of Wall Street”. He thought he could figure out how to use penny stocks to elevate his chances of quick success. Then, he would go after the blue chips.
Anything else you want to say for teens looking to get out there? Final words, anything! Shine!
It’s straightforward. There might be a number of reasons you might not think that you can be this person, there might be a number of reasons that you think “WOW Manu is making more simple than it is”. Stop thinking that.
“One thing you have to remember about me is that I’m just a young kid, just like you, that just did it. Beyond the motivational crap, it comes down to playing the game and putting your chips into the things that actually count.”
Are you passionate about an issue? Then do something about it.
Were you outraged about the Muslim travel ban? Frustrated because you thought that you couldn’t do anything? Then go research organizations that you can go and partner with to help tackle the issue.
Are greenhouse gasses your hot button issue? Then look into partnering with politicians and taking real action. You truly underestimate how much people want to hear about you and what you have to say.
There’s all this talk about how youth aren’t going to the polls and vote. There’s a reason behind all this concern. It’s because people actually care about us and what we have to say.
So you might not be able to get a ballot and vote, but if we want our voices to be heard, we have to start capitalizing and taking action on the ideas and issues we are really passionate about.
“Yes, this is all motivational stuff, but I just want you to start somewhere. Stop thinking about ideas and put your chips into the places that actually matter.
Understand that if you hustle, work, put in the time, and understand that things DON’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT, then you will succeed. Even if you can’t guarantee success, then it comes down to positioning yourself to be in a better place and building off that.