Remember those days when you could meet with 100 people in a room? We do. And that’s when Martin Sharp became the only man at the TEDx AinleyTopWomen 2019 event, in December of 2019.
Today I am interviewing Martin – who – actually – doesn’t much look like a woman!
So, Martin, who are you, what do you do and why did you want to be part of TEDx AinleyTopWomen 2019?
Thanks Cheryl. I’m Martin Sharp, International Coach, Speaker, Mentor and Change Agent – I’ve been helping businesses with massive transformations for the last 21 years with huge results on the back of it.
One thing I have become aware of over those years is that not a lot of people understand exactly what it is that I do. Because it is couched in a lot of corporate lingo, it can be difficult for people to know what it is that they need to do to make change happen.
So, doing a TEDx talk was liberating, as I didn’t need to couch anything in corporate terms, I could make it accessible to everyone and really enjoy the experience of being able to change lots of people’s lives.
And that was one of the great joys of doing the TEDx talk along with being the only man there – except for the compere. It was a proud moment being able to stand on stage with these transformational women who have made such a difference in peoples lives.
So, when I went for the TEDX license I went for the license to run the women’s event. Martin and I have known each other for a while in fat Martin was the first “WHYs” man in the Whys men council that I set up and has always been very supportive. Most people didn’t know that right up to the second he went on stage Martin was running all the AV for the day!
The reason I went for the women license was that there has been a bit of a thing about not being enough women on stage, and I wanted to create an opportunity for women.
When we first met, I asked you what you did and although I understood the English, I had no idea what it meant. You had such a wealth of experience, I wanted you to be able to put it over in a way people would understand your awesomeness!
So, the title of your TEDx talk – what was it and why did you choose it?
For me combining things together is where the magic happens. We live in a world where there are so many opportunities and people either get overwhelmed or they feel like they have to choose one thing OR another. And then they get stuck. For me, the magic is about how you can have a work-life AND a home life etc. So the title of the talk was, “The Power of AND”.
And this is coming from a place of being there. The first 5 years of my financially successful business, I was very single-minded about the success of the business. But it really took its toll on me and I went from someone who was fit at around 88kg, canoeing and very active to being on the morbidly obese scale at 154kg. And the last couple of years I have now balanced my own life, and I am back to being the person I want to be. And I want other people to have this same experience.
The feedback from the talk is that people hadn’t really thought of things in those terms, and they had found a different way to think about things, understanding that things are not black or white, night or day, they are both.
I remember you sent through the first video, of course, I am a speaker coach, so I said I would like some humour – and oh my gosh did you bring the humour! It was great to see you having fun up there. There was a little dance that went on – dropping the ‘but’ and bringing in the ‘and’. Go watch the talk HERE to see that particular moment!
That’s a really good point Cheryl – I wanted it to be light and fun. I have watched many TED talks which – although they might have important messages and be though-changing – can leave you feeling like you are glad the talk is over!
I wanted people to feel happy and empowered. And that was a great thing to see the audience giggling and happy. If you want to make a difference and be transformative then you have to make it implementable and memorable.
Obviously you were there to do the set up the day before. There were a few challenges including a 12-foot high shoe to get through a door that wasn’t built for a 12 foot anything to go through it! Can you remember walking in the day of the TEDx? Just talk me through the day and how you felt.
So, I had a different experience from the other speakers I think. I have done a lot of backstage stuff on events, so I had a lot of people come up to get miked up and they were nervous, worried about forgetting their talk etc. So, because I was very occupied doing the AV and everything so I didn’t have time to worry about anything. Everyone had pitched in the night before and after – I’ve never seen an event set up and taken down so quickly it was brilliant.
However we knew there were a few issues, so I was in the midst of it straight away, setting things up, mike checks, etc. So it probably wasn’t until the speaker before me that I realised – I’m on next. And then, of course, the butterflies came on, the little gulp in the throat. Having done it many times before you always get that – it shows you care, you want to do a good job. And yes, I did screw up – I did a thing where I got everyone to bring their phones out and I had forgotten to bring mine on stage – so I just made a joke of it.
Afterwards – a big sigh of relief and great feedback from everyone, including my parents who were proud as punch and from my wife. In fact, my wife said, ‘I now see why you do what you do!’ which as brilliant and also funny – as she ha been following my journey for many years!
So, we wait straight into Christmas, and then we had to wait to see if the videos would be approved. What was the feeling before you knew TED had approved your talk?
I wasn’t really worried. I was very sanguine about it. I’d done the talk. It had changed 100 people’s lives in the room and that was that. The day was brilliant, everyone was supportive and the atmosphere was fab. So, I was a bit ‘what will be will be’, about it. Don’t get me wrong – of course, I wanted it to be approved, but I was fine about it. I had come out on a high anyway, I was proud of what we had done.
What I really love is that your talk is now your life! You are now running a successful business AND a successful life. Let’s talk about this transformation you have gone through. What are you ‘measuring’?
OK, yes, of course, the weight is a big thing. Being a data man, I like to collect the data. I always have a spreadsheet on everything. You need to collect the data so you can see objectively what is going on.
You tried to do a lot of this on your own. But actually, it is easier when you get help. Doing a TEDx talk is not as easy as it seems. I had people who told me they had feedback from other ‘TEDx coaches’ – well I’m not sure who they were, I’m sure they weren’t accredited TEDx coaches, because some of the talks were definitely not to TED standards. So, I was thrilled to see the transformation from when I first spoke to you and had no idea what you were saying, to seeing you on stage so animated and transformative.
So, in finishing Martin – what would you say to someone thinking of doing a TEDx talk?
TEDx is such a great opportunity and you should take it, but it’s not the only place – there are many places you can get your message out, investigate them. And I suggest you get help. Even as a professional speaking coach, I needed help. When you do something like a TEDx it is so important to have someone like you Cheryl, to be able to see what works and doesn’t. And that makes the difference between something that is OK and something that is WOW. Thank you, Cheryl.
Thank you, Martin. Please hop over and go take in Martins TEDx talk here.