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The Leadership Podcast

The Leadership Podcast

Why do we do this?

We interview great leaders, review the books they read, and speak with highly influential authors who study them.

How we do this?

#1 We interview great leaders.
#2 We review the books great leaders read and write.
#3 We have fun!

May 8, 2019

Kymberlee Weil, Strategic Samurai, and Mark Sylvester join the show to discuss the world of High-Stakes, Short-Form talks. They discuss what really makes an idea worth spreading, the power of a story, and what they have learned running High-Stakes, Short-Form speaking events in Santa Barbara. They give advice to people who may want to give a High-Stakes, Short-Form talk, share the qualities of the best speakers, and explain the importance of a unique perspective.

Key Takeaways

[4:55] Mark and Kymberlee met while creating a software application for speakers and attendees to use. That turned into a business, which then turned into a partnership in all forms.

[5:03] “High stakes and short form talk” might be a metaphor for tackling a challenge worth diving into headfirst .

[6:37] Although Mark has produced many high stakes and short form talks, he was blown away by the amount of work it really takes to put one together. For his own talk it took: 19 drafts, 3 drafts, and 2 consultants. Even knowing the innerworkings, there was so much prep.

[7:50] Mark and Kymberlee tell the guests on his show to talk in tweets.

[11:57] Great leaders know they can always improve, and they are never done learning. The people that choose to find the time are the ones we never forget.

[14:11] Idea first. People second is one of the main mantras when they are putting together new material. Be sure you have a unique angle and perspective. You must be willing to fight for your idea no matter what.

[19:04] High stakes and short form talks talks are less about a one-way sharing, and more about connecting with the audience to show authenticity and vulnerability.

[25:33] Facts and figures light up two regions of your brain, while storytelling lights up seven! This even goes back to the caveman days when we had to be both storytellers and story observers.

[29:02] Tips for making a high stakes and short form talk and to be a great storyteller:

  1. Open with story, land the core idea, show why it’s important, and justify why it matters now.
  2. Make it topical and timely.
  3. There are usually three lessons within a talk.
  4. Give a call to action such as a challenge or invitation.

[42:40] The original high stakes and short form talk commandments

      1. Be sure it’s a story you have never told before.

      2. Be vulnerable.

      3. Don’t try to sell us anything.

[51:50] Mark and Kymberlee challenge: don’t wait to tell your story, and everyone has a story inside of them that they need to honor.

How to Contact Mark & Kymberlee


“As a leader, we are always doing high stakes communication.”

“Leaders need to have an arsenal of stories.”

“Start with one story and develop it.”

“If you don’t have a conflict or struggle, you don’t have a story.”

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