The Most Dangerous Question On Earth by Bryan Franklin (Transcript)

Transcript: Bryan Franklin at TEDxSinCity – The Most Dangerous Question On Earth

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Bryan Franklin – Business Coach

So I’m here to speak to the world’s entrepreneurs and for those of you that don’t self-identify as an entrepreneur. I know you’re in a shrinking crowd. But for those of you, I actually want to talk to the entrepreneurial spirit that’s within you.

So for you really I have three messages today and these messages are designed to prepare you for a question. A question that can be so powerful that it can ruin your life and set you free.

Thank you

So my first message is Thank You. Really really thank you. At your core, you’ve made a decision to give more than you take. And not like a passive decision, you’re actually staking your well-being, your livelihood on that decision, that you’re going to be a giver. You will give to the world more than you take. Create more value than you capture.

And you know, to be an entrepreneur you have to become very curious about how value is exchanged between human beings and then master creating that value in giving and giving and giving.

Professional giving used to be reserved only for like churches and foundations but now you are a professional giver. And you’re getting better at it.

So right now I’ve got more resources, information, technology, connectivity, connection than the U.S. government had when I was born. And I’ve got it for free. And the reason I have it for free is because of your giving spirit. So thank you.

I’ve been a musician — I don’t know – since I was about five years old and I climbed up on a piano bench and I plunked out the melody to Beethoven’s Night. And this surprised my parents and they were asking me about it and I was telling them, isn’t it great that there’s always new music in your head all the time and that surprised them even more.

See, I didn’t realize that I was the only one that could hear it. Now I am not sure exactly how that happened. That’s me I’m 0 years old but you actually have the same thing. There’s a vision of the world. There’s a world that only you can see and some of you have that vision really well articulated and some not but everybody’s got one.

Everybody has a future a different world than the one we’re living in that only you can see. It shows up every time you notice that something isn’t good, or isn’t easy, fun, accurate, automated, helpful. Every time you see a problem you’re comparing the world that you’ve got in your head that only you can see with the one that we’ve got here.

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Now some of you are dedicated to closing that gap. You’ve built companies. You’re starting movements, or you’re just generally being like a cool person to each other more and more now. So thank you.

The second message is that I’d like you to pay more attention to what it means to lead. But look around, notice something that you really value; something that impresses you; something you rely on. Some remarkable thing you probably take for granted.

The fact that it’s here is a testament to someone else’s leadership. This thing that here now and we were having discussion just the other night and like, you know, things we take for granted, like a pillow, well that pillow had to be invented. That pillow has touched tens of thousands of hands to get to your bed. And if you track it back to the first set of hands, that first set of hands belong to someone who saw a world that we didn’t see. They saw it and then they started to lead.

So listen, I trust you. I want you to be a better leader because I want your version of the world to be the one I’m living in. Everything good about what we’ve got, we owe to leadership. And it’s true that the world is not all perfect. I mean we’ve heard about education and what’s wrong with education. We’ve heard about health. The fact that there’s now more obese people than fat people and more fat people than healthy people in this country. But all of that is due to a failure in leadership. So we collectively, we need to get better at it. We need to understand leadership and get better at it.

I want people’s hearts and minds change when you speak. I want the walls that confine them that prevent them from having what they want and being who they want to be, I want those walls to disappear when you speak because they see you walk through them. But in order for that to happen, you’re going to need to dedicate yourself to being a better leader.

So if I can get your word on that, I’d like you to stand up now.


Now something interesting just happened. Because some of you stood up out of a commitment to lead and some of you just stood up because the guy on stage said, hey, stand up. That’s okay. You know who you are. I am not going to make a big deal out of it. You can sit down.

But really I want your leadership. In my career, I’ve attended about a hundred years’ worth of staff meetings, and it’s always kind of hard to understand but it’s because it tracks down to roughly nine companies per month for eleven years. So what most executives would have to do in a hundred years, I have done in the last 11. And my job in these meetings has been – to be the trusted advisor to the entrepreneurs who lead companies like this.

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So I’ve got kind of a unique perspective on leadership. I’ve got to kind of have a front-row seat and see what works and doesn’t work.

Now in most of these meetings, there was no leadership at all. Most of these meetings, the future escaped the meeting unscathed. But then there were those few — there were those few meetings where something really magical happened where great leadership was present.

I was working with a CEO and this guy’s team stopped following him. And he didn’t know why and initially I didn’t know why either because look, he had all the qualities that we’re told great leaders are supposed to have. Number one, he is honest. You know, he was honest; he was clear thinking. He was actually — I would even describe him as a visionary, really smart, even charismatic which isn’t necessary for a leader but it can be nice.

If he was on stage with me, though, as he spoke, you’d want to like him. You’d want to like his ideas but your heart and mind they just would stay where they were.

And it was in working with him that I realized that there’s something that every truly great leader does, that the ones who aren’t so great don’t do. And it has to do with their relationship to paradox.

See, a paradox is a statement or set of statements that contradicts itself. And they’re very very powerful. They hold a lot of energy if you will.

When you’re presented with a paradox, you really have a choice. You can either ignore it, pretend it’s not there, you can take a side true or false, or you can, what I call, hold the paradox. You can believe both contradictory statements or implications simultaneously. And this is what great leaders do.

So let’s talk about the universal paradox of significance. See, you matter and I know you probably needed me to tell you that. But you can touch a life so deeply and so profoundly that the impact of your loss would never be forgotten. When you consider the people you touch and the people they touch, the ripple effect of your impact is unfathomable. And also the magnitude of your insignificance is equally unfathomable.

Now let’s – just as an experiment, let’s hold these two experiences. Hold in your body the truth, the knowledge of your significance and then without allowing that to dissipate, add to it the unmistakable truth that you aren’t worth a damn, that you’re barely dust. Can you do that at the same time?

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