SL058: The Happy Speaker – with Dr Suresh Devnani

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The Happy Speaker

In today’s episode Dr Suresh Devnani talks about The Happy Speaker.

Dr Suresh Devnani is a Motivational Keynote Speaker, TEDx Speaker, Researcher, Best-Selling Author, and a global thinker on the topics of Happiness, Wellbeing, Happiness at Work and Productivity. Commonly known as the Happy Doctor, he connects and empowers his audience through his key message of building a sustainable future, one based on higher levels of consciousness and happier being.

The Happy Speaker

 

Artificial Intelligence Generated Transcript

Below is a machine-generated transcript and therefore the transcript may contain errors.

James Taylor
Hey there, it’s James Taylor and I’m delighted today to have on the show Dr. Suresh Devnani. Dr Suresh Devnani is a motivational keynote speaker TEDx speaker, researcher, best selling author and a global thinker on the topics of happiness well being happiness at work and productivity, commonly known as the happy doctor. He connects in Paris, his audience to his key message of building a sustainable future, one based on higher levels of consciousness and happier beings. my great pleasure to have Suresh with us today. So welcome, Suresh.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Thank you, James. So, share with us all what’s happening in your life at the moment. Ah, we are currently on day one of our lockdown in Singapore and trying to accept the fact that all of my family members are in one space at the same time trying to work. So everybody is trying to work on their computers or laptops or whatever we have, is not an easy task because even though we have fast internet, but space is limited.

James Taylor
So that so now you’re really getting to explore those those values like patience and Tolerance just now when everyone’s so close in such close proximity to each other.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Yeah, absolutely. And it shows our true affection. And do we really care for the people that are with us all the time.

James Taylor
So you’re, you’re speaking on, as mentioned on happiness, happiness and well being. And I was just thinking before we came on today, you know, it seems to me it’s quite easy to be happy when things are going well in our lives or in our work. But times like this when it’s we’re having some more challenges and what’s kind of going on? Do we have to go to a different place do we have to come dig in a little bit deeper to find that level of happiness or as always, already, there is just really uncovering it.

Dr Suresh Devnani
See, in most cases, people who are only dependent on materialistic happiness will definitely find it hard right now, for those who are already practicing some kind of mindfulness or practicing meditation should not find it too difficult at the present moment. In fact, him I find this the best time for them to go even deeper, and connect to a more deeper sense of compassion and joy that they were always seeking. So in fact, this is a good time for those people who are already on the path to connect with an unconditional happiness.

James Taylor
And I know in medicine, meditation practices that obviously between the East and the West east, there’s often a meditation practice in Buddhism where they say, you know, essentially to to meditate on your own transience in life. You know, the, everything is changing, whether the nails on your fingers there that cells are dying, and they’re being born and they’ve been created. And in the world of a more Western philosophy. We have things like Seneca and the great stoics of Greek philosophy, who talked about every year you should spend a few days in your year, sitting wearing the most simple of clothes on they say, like sleeping in a low bed, eating the most basic of food and asking yourself the question is this one Fear is this what, you know, this is the worst it can get. Is this all we have? So maybe if there’s people that that have been living a maybe a more materialistic life, and getting used to, you know, going first class flights, maybe a speaker and all those kind of things, what can we can can we do to perhaps reconnect with a deeper part of ourselves?

Dr Suresh Devnani
You know, in most cases, if, if you try to remember when was the last time you were truly happy, without the things that surround you, and you go back to your early childhood, or maybe when you were a teen, but in most cases, even the most successful people that I know, and I work with the SMR missing that happiness that he felt we had in the past which they don’t have it anymore. So success jet generally doesn’t lead us to more happiness. But going back to the time when we were the most simplest more most flexible personality, so I believe agility is a crucial element here to have agile are we? And are we willing to accept our current circumstances, a process of learning? Because what is happiness to people who are more towards mindful or towards those who are meditating is very different than those who are going through a period of what we call growth or success, because success doesn’t always lead you to more happiness. Sometimes they lead you to even misery.

James Taylor
And, in the case of us as speakers, obviously, there’s we’re going through a challenging time, just now some of those things that we might have been assigned as being success, whether that’s I have spoken 100 times a year or I have, you know, achieved this fee level or any of those things. There are some things that we can we think we pursue, but is happiness itself? Is that something to be pursued? Should we be trying to pursue happiness? Or is that the wrong way of looking at it?

Dr Suresh Devnani
I don’t think Happiness can be presented. If you try to pursue happiness, what will happen is you’ll end up coming to a dead end, a wall that will lead you to think, again, whatever I was doing was not leading me to this happiness. It is more of a way of thinking. And that way of thinking changes as our needs change. So it might require some people actually go up that success letter and come to a realization that they need to do something more than just try to grow in life in that sense, but actually go into words, going a deeper sense and trying to connect with a deeper core of themselves. But then this requires a moment of misery or difficulty or challenges. And I think this is the best time for many, because many speakers in our profession are going through challenges. Those who used to speak maybe 50 times 100 times a year and in substantial fees for being keynotes and flying first class or business class and staying in five star hotels in suites and everything. So they are actually going to have a time of self realization or awakening for those to come down and realize that maybe that was not meant for them for the long run and now go for it or deepen in inner self and find out why this is come to them and why this difficult period is coming to them to realize to go deeper.

James Taylor
So perhaps that ladder that some people have been climbing up has been leaning against the wrong wall as we may be.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Yeah, it’s like play that snakes a ladder. Eventually, sometimes you will fall back down and you have to realize your climb back up the letter.

James Taylor
So when did you decide that you wanted to become a speaker? When did the thing we know you for today in terms of being a motivational keynote speaker when did that begin?

Dr Suresh Devnani
I that happened when I went through my own period of challenges. Even though I was a successful businessman for many years, I felt there was a missing link in my life. And then I fell into trouble. I was trying to kill myself a couple times, even though I was married, a very successful businessman, multimillion dollar business going on for myself. But somehow I felt my family was against me. So these kind of periods Actually, I call them the aha moment for many. And I went through my aha moment to find myself. And then it took about another couple of years before I came to the understanding that whatever process I’ve gone through to find myself, why not share this with as many people as possible. And this started about 20 years back for me.

James Taylor
And then when in those that that 20 years ago when you were first kind of starting that journey of becoming a speaker, who were your early role models or mentors,

Dr Suresh Devnani
I initially, my first role models was my father. But then that changed and I met some gurus that I met who taught me some new ideas and they told me that you’re Journey is not about you sharing with whatever experiences you’ve gone. But then of course, for speaker wise, you know, I started following Neale Donald Walsch. Then also Dr. Brian Weiss, because these people were doing so much work on this conscious leadership.

James Taylor
And this seems to be an there is that I think it’s called the Transformational Leadership Council. And there’s lots of there’s so many great speakers now that are talking about this, it almost feels that some of the topics you talked about, they’re getting very comfortable about these topics being talked about in the boardrooms. Certainly in the West, I never felt they were particularly talked about things like mindfulness, so sometimes a meditation practice or happiness. It feels like it’s really only been in the last 10 years that you start hearing like some of the top hedge fund managers or top people in business or politics saying, Yes, I have a daily meditation practice and maybe you know this measuring our success by our our Revenues or income is not not the smartest way of doing things.

Dr Suresh Devnani
You know what is changed right now is there’s a lot of science to validate whatever is being spoken about. What was happening is 20 years ago when Maslow started talking maybe a little longer than 20 years, 30 years ago when Metro started talking about this hierarchy of needs and everything. So people are not yet you know, they thought that this was more of a placebo or whatever effects, but now with the proven sciences and great research going on in consciousness transformational or even looking at seven leadership models that people come to realize that we could do so much more if we change into a different mindset that is more optimistic. More giving is more of a positive psychology based.

James Taylor
So take us back to when you first started to make that pivot starting to get up on stages. Can you tell us about that very first paid speaking engagement, what was the circumstances? How did it come about? How’d you feel kind of going up on on this stage for the first time?

Dr Suresh Devnani
For sure, I think every first time speaker feels a little anxiety, and will I be good enough for my audience because they are willing to listen to me. This is crucial I feel for any first time speaker is what value am I adding for my audience from the people are listening to me. And that’s the process I went through. Was that good enough for them. And that’s a key thing. We have to share that there is a lot of self leadership issues or self esteem issues up here that we need to practice on you. Even though great, successful leaders sometimes do have these problems. And they have to face their peers and share ideas or concerns.

James Taylor
And when you work when you go and speak with audiences as well, you sometimes we think of going into conferences and everyone’s kind of sitting back sometimes you can have people sitting there not particularly engaged maybe that they’re they have their their arms folded How do you help them perhaps reconnect with you mentioned like in a childlike wonder that happiness how you know, some of the baby, very cynical people that we somethings have in the audience say, Oh, this is this isn’t really for me, how do you how do you connect with them?

Dr Suresh Devnani
In a really my approach is slightly more comfortable in the sense that I really like to know who they are as a person before I even approach them. So generally, all the speaking arrangements that I do speaking exactly, I try to know my audience as much as possible and look at a vulnerable spot. Because most people are free to talk about wonderful spots, but actually, they want somebody to listen to them, and try to help them through it. So that’s how I do it. So there is a what we call a hook or a connecting point to the audience before I start helping them out and listening to them because most people actually want somebody not to talk to them, but more to listen to them. So I use the counseling which is

James Taylor
so how does that work? interviewing people, rather than the more traditional model, which is someone can get up there on stage and speak for 60 minutes to the audience. How does your model work in terms of like YouTube, where that kind of connecting point or almost like having more of a conversation with an audience,

Dr Suresh Devnani
what I try to do is, I really don’t like the traditional keynote model as much. What happens is, most people or what people I work with, they prefer a hybrid model, where we have about a 1520 minute keynote style talk, then you will have a workshop model going at the same time in a q&a. And the q&a generally is the longest part of my talks, where actually the audience is able to ask questions and learn from

James Taylor
that, because I’ve also noticed a number of other speakers who are not necessarily on your same topic, but I think about people like Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, who is a very, New York quite a brash style of, of speaker but when he goes and gives a 16 minute keynote now, I think it’s only about 15 minutes over at the start is that, as you mentioned, is that traditional keynote style? is heavy, heavy q&a with the audience, then he comes back, you know, as a as a closing piece as well. How do you I’m always intrigued with kind of using that model. How do you help people feel comfortable in asking questions in a public setting like that when there’s so many people surrounding them?

Dr Suresh Devnani
Generally, what we do is the first few questions that I ask me, I start with the questions from the audience. So make them and also what I do is in that 15 or 20 minutes on my keynote, I explained and share about my abilities and my experiences my journey. So they realize that I’m as human as them, and they are able to ask me questions about marriage, about work about, you know, self esteem or anything that keeps them thinking, How do I improve myself? So I believe is just providing yourself And opening up yourself enough to them that they realize you are just a human. And you’re here to help them in any way possible.

James Taylor
And what is that overriding emotion or that? That resonance? So you want people to feel after they’ve left hearing you you speak what do you want that thing for them to remember about about going in and seeing you give a give a presentation?

Dr Suresh Devnani
Generally, I want them to feel that they are more than sufficient, you know, they are already the best they can be. And of course, they can improve some more. Why not? Because a lot of people I’ve worked with I feel self esteem is a big thing nowadays. Because we are judged by all social media experiences that we have with people around us even though people we have never met. We expecting that life or connection or a thought or a little message saying we have done something good. And this is what’s causing vulnerability, even among even the senior management that I work with. is we expect people to praise us so much that it hurts us more than it is helping us.

James Taylor
So is that Do you think there’s a generational difference? Or is it just this is the time that we’re going through just now?

Dr Suresh Devnani
I guess it’s the technology that’s with us. Now, I don’t think it’s a generational thing anymore. Everybody’s seeking attention. Everybody wants to be listened to. That’s why we are so active on social media and I have not seen even a whole person not on Instagram, on Facebook, they are being on every platform possible because they want also people realize that they’re and look at even other professional speakers that we are out there aren’t any more on social media today than we were 10 years ago, 15 years ago. It was how do we get found? How do people even know about it? So the same thing is the same thing happening with the people that we work with, or we speak to, they are seeking the same amount of attention as we are.

James Taylor
So you’re almost talking there about having that extra It can evaluation I guess if other people are saying yes you know, your thumbs up like and that obviously creates a little shot of dopamine in the brain. And then we like that and we kind of go in you know, almost like a little mice that they have in these little places where they you give them the dopamine and the the bring the bell and things we’re kind of getting into that loop in a beacon of extrinsic type of way.

Dr Suresh Devnani
If you look back at Facebook, what was it 10 years back when they only had the like icon, they added the other emotion icon said you could add on to and then now you have all these other graphics that often pop out. Same thing has transformed in LinkedIn. LinkedIn was a professional site. Guess what now we are more people talking about themselves on LinkedIn then actually doing work.

James Taylor
And can you tell us about a time in your your own careers as a speaker where you, you, you went to go and give a presentation of speech. You gave it your heart and your soul before For whatever reason, it didn’t work out like you’d hoped, perhaps and more often, what was the lesson that you took from experience?

Dr Suresh Devnani
The experience that I took from that even as a professional speaker, we’re not always perfect. It depends on emotions. And this happened to me when I had just found out that my mother allies passed away and I had to make a judgment call. Do I still go on the stage with the emotion I’m going through? Or do I tell the organizer sorry, I don’t think I can be doing this today. But I still have to do it. Because you know, I had a signed contract and an audience filled seat. What do I do? I still go out there and try my best. Of course, when I came out at the end, I didn’t realize I didn’t feel I did my best.

James Taylor
But did you feel it was was a cathartic experience doing that or were you just really a little bit more on kind of autopilot where you just you were kind of going through it, but You didn’t feel you able to be present with it?

Dr Suresh Devnani
Yeah, I was on autopilot for sure. Because the subject matter I was speaking about is something I do regularly. But I didn’t I feel like connected with the audience even though I spoke about all these great things, but somehow I did not give them that full value that I generally like to give to.

James Taylor
And then we can talk about that idea of presence of something you talk about happiness, as well. Is there any tips you found for for speakers who maybe struggle with when they get up there on stage not being able to be present and for it to feel kind of so overwhelming and almost feel that the past don’t even enjoy the experience? Because they just it’s been happening, so they can’t really be there be in that moment? Is there any advice you’d give to any speakers like that?

Dr Suresh Devnani
Hi, Jenny, like to suggest to all speakers speak on topics you understand and appreciate because in today’s world Every speaker wants to be an expert in every topic that’s out there, avoid doing that. Because if you’re going to do that, what will happen is the value or the topics essence will not be revealed, and somehow hurt you more than the audience. Because whenever you feel you’re not good enough or not presenting the best value to the audience, you feel a little lack, lacking you feel you’re missing that, that spirit. So I believe that every speaker should speak from a deeper sense, and actually have experience wherever they’re speaking about. So instead of sharing a story shared about a moment that has taken place in your life, you just share a story that you might have read in the book.

James Taylor
So make it personal, make it you know, link that that personal experience you have had with experiences you think other members have said Oh, it’s gonna be universal in that sense. These are other experiences other people are going to feel at some point in time.

Dr Suresh Devnani
We all human beings, okay. I don’t think everybody in the audience might connect with you. Let’s see if we connected with even 25 30% of audience with a certain story, would that be more powerful than coming up making up a story that you don’t even feel that has helped you or support you uplifted your spirits?

James Taylor
And what about in your your success now as a speaker, as an author as a thought leader on on the topic of happiness, Israel is a personal habit that you can have have you think that contributes to that success, how we how we wish to define success.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Now, for me, the habit that I take place every day every morning for me is I meditate starting at 530 for an hour, then I go for a morning walk in nature because this uplifts my spirit for the day. Because what happened is we need some form of grounding every morning to build up the strength, the agility of the resilience and people keep talking about so we can actually sail through the day in the most positive form. And that is actually With joy that we all keep seeking for, but somehow we don’t start the foundation right in the morning. Like if you had a fight with your wife in the morning, do you think your day will actually end up good? By the end of the day? Or if you had a poor transport ride on a train or on a bus, that you end up at work? Would you be actually having a good day at work? That’s the thing.

James Taylor
And then obviously, your speakers remember as well, when something always fascinated his fellow speakers, his gear and the size equipment and things that make little bits of technology we sometimes used to make our life easier or make more of an impact with an audience. Why isn’t your speaker bag what is it that that bag that you carry with you to all of your various speaking engagements?

Dr Suresh Devnani
I believe every speaker should be equipped with a good laptop. And also if possible, have a backup laptop if not a thumb drive with you. So I carry two extra thumb drives which has Same slide presentation, besides a laptop that I’m carrying, bring your own presenter because most presenters that organizes provider sometimes don’t work or they’re out of battery. And possible is if, let’s say even the presentation could not take place. How are you going to entertain your audience? Maybe you should have a game with you to just to keep them while they fix the problem.

James Taylor
So if all else fails, if the slides don’t show and the projector goes down and like lighting, how can you still interact with that audience and deliver value to them?

Dr Suresh Devnani
Okay. I what I believe is if even be went to this kind of state is best to form a circle, place yourself in the middle and do the presentation. Because what they have come to do is listen to you not the slides they’re not going to use tonight. Yeah.

James Taylor
And what about resources online resource resources or tools I know was failing. Popular has a lot of kind of meditation apps and different apps and things. What tools do you find very useful for yourself in the work you do or as a speaker?

Dr Suresh Devnani
The tools out there, honestly, I believe the best thing for anybody to learn is to learn how to use PowerPoint. Because the slideshows that we can actually make on PowerPoint are much more powerful than the one that’s available on pages. I know people find pages much easier. But what you can do on PowerPoint is so much different. If you feel you’ve seen these awesome slides at some speakers use in most cases, they use PowerPoint to me,

James Taylor
yeah. I was actually recently at a speaking event in South America and there was an artist who was awesome. He was presenting just before me. And it was probably the finest presentation visual presentation I’ve ever seen. And we were using PowerPoint as a tool. But it was how he was sharing art and it was that it was the levels of creativity in what he was doing. Just Kind of completely blew me away because we think often no PowerPoints, we’ve all been in those presentations, like lots of bullet points really small, small writing. And it’s and they feel that there’s no connection with it. You could have watched it online in some way. So, so you’re obviously a big proponent of using PowerPoint, really getting to understand it and think about how you can use it in a creative way as well.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Yeah, because he, a lot of people don’t understand, actually, in PowerPoint, you can layer different graphics on to each other. So one slide could actually have 50 or 70 to 80 components. So one slide can take you a couple of hours to make. That’s what I do when I make my presentation. Sometimes one slide is 80 sequences, just to get that whole message across. So if I didn’t speak a word, people could look at the slideshow and learn everything they needed.

James Taylor
Wow, fantastic. And if you were to recommend one book to our listeners, not one of your own books or book by another author on either topic of speaking or some of the other things that we’ll be covering today about happiness and and mind fulness being present, what would that book be?

Dr Suresh Devnani
The book I would like to recommend all those who are seeking a deeper sense of happiness would be to read The Autobiography of a Yogi, which is by Yogananda.

James Taylor
I think it was I was actually given that once in I think, I think I met a group, they were actually in the street, and they were giving out copies of this book that had been sponsored by guca. Amanda. Yes, that’s right. And I got a copy. It’s a wonderful book.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Yeah. If you’re not ready, take the time since we have time now, to do some good reading. Exactly.

James Taylor
And I want you to imagine Suresh that you wake up tomorrow morning, and you have to start from scratch. You’ve got all the tools, your trade, all the knowledge you’ve acquired over the years, but no one knows you and you know, no one what would you do? How would you restart things?

Dr Suresh Devnani
In fact, the best way is to start asking people on Facebook or LinkedIn, what problems do they want solved because a lot of speakers If you create content before they even targeted the audience, I would suggest the reverse is find the audience, ask them what content they want, and then help them solve problems.

James Taylor
One for and I’m also gonna have a little mention for you here as well, because the last time we met each other, I think we were two speakers you meet up in Singapore. And there was another event, Jim Cathcart, great speaker was doing an event. And we met up and we were having a conversation, and you kindly gave me a really lovely little interesting packet. So obviously, people give business cards all the time. But that’s kind of you know, that’s quite normal. But you gave me this lovely little package. And in fact, describe what it is and describe your thinking behind creating it because it actually most business cards we get, we can put them in our wallet or purse and we don’t really think about it anymore, but actually yours has a little bit of a kind of resonance with me after. After a while I still think about I’ve got it here, sitting in front of me just now.

Dr Suresh Devnani
The idea that behind the The main card that you got from me was that I want you to connect with me from all senses of yourself. So from the sense of smell, taste, sight. So that’s what you got a card that has a great presentation for myself and things that I do for people. And then it comes with a bag of tea that you can actually touch. You can smell, you can drink so you can taste it. So there’s playing around with all the senses. So we are actually now connected in a deeper form. Then, otherwise, normally, if somebody just gave you a card, and it’s lovely, it’s a really nice Pac Man, we will put up a little photo of it here as well.

James Taylor
Suresh, thank you so much. where’s the best place for after this conversation? I’m actually going to go and have that cup of tea with you gave me well I’m just enjoy that and think about our conversation we’ve just had, but where is the best place for people to go to learn more about you, your keynote programs, your writing and the other things you’ve got going on.

Dr Suresh Devnani
I’m available on all social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, book in my website is cost Suresh the money calm which is su RHD Evie Na Na Komm one videos out there on YouTube as well so you can subscribe to my channel if you want content. But I would love to meet all of you. Well Suresh, thank you

James Taylor
so much for coming on today bringing a little bit of happiness into, to my life into I know many of our fellow speakers, you members and into anyone that’s listening to this just now. I wish you all the best in the future.

Dr Suresh Devnani
Thank you, James.

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