Here is a comparison of two people.

I only own a small number of properties.
I still have to go out to work for a living.
I have to think before buying some things I want.
Most people don’t know who I am.
I’m lazy – “could do better”.
I live in a (sort of) terraced house with 5 others in the block.
I have no children and it’s probably too late for me to have any.
My car’s over three years old.
I believe I’m unemployable now.


I have built a property portfolio valued at £___ and growing.
Apart from mortgages, I have no debts.
I only have to work for somebody else for 6 days a month to bring in enough to pay my monthly bills.
I pick and choose which weeks I want to work.
The “terraced” house is actually a wing of a converted country mansion set in lovely open grounds complete with a lake.
My husband and I are free to do what we want, when we want, without having to consider what’s best for the children.
I have a fantastic, big car that I love to drive.
I’ll never, ever be caught in the trap of becoming an employed person again.

I’m actually describing the same person, that being me! The same life, but looked at through two different sets of eyes, two different viewpoints, two different angles. Yet both the same. And it’s not just yourself and your achievements you can look at this way, it’s really everything. For every viewpoint, there’s always an opposite and opposing one.

In a recent conversation with my Dad, we were discussing the number of sayings and proverbs that, whilst sounding very wise, have an equally wisdom filled opposite. For example:

Look before you leap He who hesitates is lost
Too many cooks spoil the broth Many hands make light work


I could go on, and you can probably think of several more yourself, but I think you get the picture.

If you’re going to stand up and speak, you first need to think. Alan Weiss, well known in speaking and consulting circles, initially built his brand as “the contrarian”. In simple terms, this meant that he looked at anything spouted as conventional wisdom and every “band-wagon” onto which people were jumping and turned it on its head. Whatever it was, Alan argued that the opposite was true. The fact that he could do that successfully and build a very good name for himself in the process is testament to what I’m advocating here.

So What?

So what? So what!? I’ll tell you “so what”. This means that you don’t have to take everything you’re told and everything you read as gospel. You ARE allowed to formulate your own opinions, even if it means you’re in the minority. Actually, if you start thinking for yourself, you’ll find you WILL be in the minority most of the time. So many people seem to look to the media or social networking to find out what they’re supposed to think and how they should react to events.

There is always an opposing view. There is always more than one way of looking at anything.

Offering another way of looking at things will make you stand out from the crowd and ensure people take notice of you.

Also, consider books in the following genres:

  • self-improvement
  • consulting
  • marketing
  • branding
  • sales techniques
  • networking
  • residual income building
  • relationships
  • good management
  • leadership
  • coaching
  • diversity
  • team-building
  • motivation

You need to remember that everything you read is somebody’s opinion. And for every opinion you’ll read that’s well thought-out, well presented and sounds perfectly feasible and compelling, you can always find an opposite opinion elsewhere.

In fact, it’s contradiction that makes the world go round. If everyone agreed that the best car in the world was a Volkswagen Beetle, every other car manufacturer would go out of business and we’d all be driving round in bugs. Take this idea to its extreme. We’d all be wearing the same clothes, eating the same foods and, in short, thinking exactly the same. But we don’t… mostly.

We don’t even learn without there being contradiction. Imagine you have a teenage child – perhaps you do and will relate to this instantly. Now I don’t have such a creature, but I have enough friends who are so blessed and I’m not too old to remember being a pretty wild teenager myself (sorry, Mum & Dad).

If the first person in existence had gone through life, made all the necessary mistakes, learnt from them, and passed that wisdom down to their children AND the kids accepted it without question, there would be no further learning to be had by anyone – ever!

How many times have you tried to give a teenager the “benefit of your experience” only to be told something like “It’s different from in your day,” or “You don’t understand”? How frustrating is it to know exactly what they need to do, only to be told, in no uncertain terms, that your input is not required, so you end up watching them make the same mistakes you made before they learn? Bite your lip and don’t say “I told you so” because the fact is that (take note here) TRUE LEARNING DOESN’T TAKE PLACE UNTIL PEOPLE MAKE THEIR OWN MISTAKES. So you see, they absolutely must be able to take the contrary view. I repeat, it’s what makes the world go round.

Teenagers are perfect to demonstrate the duality of human nature because, for all their contrariness, they’re also the people who, more than anyone, want to avoid appearing to be different or thinking differently to their peer group. A teenager is the most extreme example of this. If someone they admire, such as a celebrity or a friend, spouts an opinion, in the eyes of the teenager that opinion becomes law. This is why there’s a belief that it’s important for the child to have good role models. This also leads to a belief that teenagers can’t think for themselves. Maybe this is true – it’s all a learning process, like trying on different clothes to see if they fit and discarding them if they don’t. Unfortunately, a teenager is more likely to just follow-the-leader rather than consider whether they really do fit or suit.

True learning doesn’t take place until people make their own mistakes

I’m not having a go at teenagers here, though, because you’ll often find that age & wisdom has little impact on actions. There are many people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond who are still acting the same way. People who buy newspapers and believe everything they read, for example. Again, everything written in the newspapers is down to someone else’s opinion. Oh the article may be factual, but the slant put on the article will reflect what the journalist or, more often, the editor, wants you to get from it. And for the most part, this will play on people’s fears. A recent newspaper headline, for example:

“Council Tax Could Rise by 600%”

It doesn’t say it will, just that it “could”. Unfortunately, most people will filter out the word “could” and buy the paper because the headline feeds their fear. This is what papers do, particularly tabloids. Fear sells. It makes me angry because it keeps people down, “in their place” and paralyses them, preventing them from fulfilling their true potential. It relegates them to a life of mediocrity and subservience and, often, fear, worry, doubt and misery.

It’s only my opinion, of course, but I think everyone is capable of and worth much, much more if only they would wake up and stop believing everything they’re told.

Rereading what I’ve just written, some might think my views are quite anarchic. They could certainly be interpreted that way, if taken to an extreme. It’s not what I’m hoping will happen, however. Rather, I want to spur people to think, think, think, THINK! And not just to think, but to start thinking differently.

Remember that there’s always more than one way of looking at the same situation, as I said earlier. I’m suggesting you start doing this whenever and wherever possible.

As an exercise, start questioning everything you read or hear. Ask:

  1. What would be the opposite point of view? Try it on for size.
  2. What does the writer want me to think? Do I really agree? If not, why not and what DO you think?


Maria Davies is a top sales presenter & success coach who works exclusively with women. Visit for a free download of her 101 Presentation Tips ebook & regular presentations trainings delivered by email.

Public speaking is the number one skill that’s guaranteed to position you head and shoulders above the competition, so why do so many people avoid it?

Gerald R. Ford said, “If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on two areas: learning to write and learning to speak before an audience. Nothing in life is more important than the ability to communicate effectively.”

It’s the top skill that will place you miles ahead of your competition, yet it’s frequently overlooked as an essential marketing skill. My own take on having the ability to speak well in public is that it’s probably the single most powerful thing you can learn to do that gives you the ammunition to say “If I can do that, I can do anything”. Once you can confidently stand up in public and give a great presentation, you’ll never fear anything again.

If you’ve ever marvelled at the abilities of a great presenter, the clever use of words to draw pictures, the confidence and charisma that exudes from the platform and the awe in which they are held, you’ll agree with the above statements.

So why is it that when it comes to attending training courses, presentation skills aren’t always the first port of call? Could it be to do with that oft-quoted (and probably misquoted) statistic that speaking in public is feared more than death? Let’s not go into an examination of how ridiculous that would be if it were true. After all, how many of you would really swap places with the guy in the coffin if you were asked to speak at a funeral?

There’s no doubt that public presenting or pitching can get the palms sweating. But given the benefits you’ll get when you can do it well, you can’t afford to let this stop you. Let’s examine what these barriers really are, so you can lay your fears to rest and get this most important of abilities added to your list of “things you MUST perfect,” shall we?

First, examine why you’re nervous. There’s always a reason for nerves. Examine what the reasons are so you can deal with the cause and go a long way toward eliminating the symptom. Note that I say “go a long way toward eliminating,” the chances are that you’ll always feel some nervousness but nerves are your friends because they keep your senses sharp and prove that you want to do well.

Even seasoned performers suffer from stage fright. Some had it so bad they could barely perform! Fortunately, the thought is usually worse than the task. Once you get started, you’ll often find your nervousness will disappear. I liken it to knowing that you’re about to tackle a drive round London’s Hyde Park Corner or Paris’s Arc de Triomphe in rush hour. Thinking about it really freaks you out but when you’re in the middle of it, you’re too busy concentrating on not hitting anyone and it’s only afterwards you get to think “Wow, I made it in one piece, and you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I’d expected.” It’s true that the thought is usually worse than the activity.

Some of the most common reasons I’ve found for people suffering from nerves are these:
– Worry about forgetting what you’re going to say
– Worry that the audience will think you’re a fraud
– Worry about saying the wrong thing and offending somebody
– Worry that someone will ask a question to which you don’t know the answer
– Worry that you’ll get a dry mouth or get tongue tied
– Worry that you’ll finish too soon or run long

Some of the less common ones I’ve heard were “I’m worried in case there’s a fire alarm halfway through my talk” and “I’m worried that the hem on my trousers will unravel in front of everyone during my talk” and “I might fall off the stage.”

I could dismiss all these are “silly” or “invalid” and tell you that none of them will ever happen, but the fact is that they often will. (Yes, even the trouser hem thing’s happened to me, and I watched someone tumble off the stage just last week!). Looking down the list, you can see that there’s a lot you can do to avoid these situations occurring: being well prepared, stating your qualifications in your introduction, knowing your subject matter inside and out, timing yourself several times during rehearsals, and so on (sorry, I don’t have a magic wand to disable fire bells during speeches).

But so what if any of them still come to pass? What’s the worst that can happen? Well, it’s not life or death, you know. You have to learn to keep your fears in perspective. And remember, the audience wants you to be good because nobody enjoys sitting through a bad presentation.

Do what you can to be prepared and don’t let fear of speaking stop you from gaining that most revered of all skills, the one that will impact every area of your personal and business life. Give yourself the very best opportunity of succeeding and you’ll find the rewards are massive.


Maria Davies is a top sales presenter & success coach who works exclusively with women. Her presentation skills training will show you how to increase the audience share for your product or service by as much as 91%.