Welcome To the Join Up Dots Podcast with Lou Heckler
Introducing Lou Heckler
Lou Heckler is todays guest on the Join Up Dots podcast.
He is a man whose name came up in conversation on a previous episode of Join Up Dots.
And not in a “there’s this man that I know”, kind of way but like “Wow, there is this amazing man who is brilliant at what he does” kind of way.
And so I sought him out and I am delighted that he agreed to come on the show and start joining up his dots.
He began working as a 14 year old, in his hometown Pittsburgh, when he was hired to do a community news column for “The Signal Item,” a weekly newspaper.
And his life has been intertwined with both the written and spoken word ever since.
How The Dots Joined Up For Lou
He received dual degrees in Journalism and Radio-TV-Motion Pictures at the University of North Carolina and also served as news editor and anchorman which meant that by the time he graduated from the University, he had already logged over 1,000 live television broadcasts.
And this all occurred before joining the military as still a young man, and tackling another big dot in his life, serving his country.
Although much happened in his life leading today, you can now find him tutoring speakers, in the nuances of voice control and speech writing, or presenting keynote presentations across America and enjoying himself.
He has found a path in his life that plays to his natural talents, and brings enjoyment to himself and everyone that he comes in contact with.
So what is it about being a wordsmith that appeals to him on a daily basis?
And is there a thrill to performing live that he doesn’t get anywhere else in his life?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Lou Heckler
During the show we discussed such weight topics with Lou Heckler as:
How he once ended up laying on the floor of a television studio with a brick laying on his chest!
Why the first job he got was both a frightening and exhilarating experience, although he still uses experiences gained from that time fifty years later.
Why it so important to allow a vision to grow as you work towards it, and not allow it to seem too big to tackle before even starting.
How each day, everyday is a gift, and its up to us to make the most of everything that is on offer to us.
Why he lives by the concept, of every decision is not going to be the last decision he is going to make, so just do it and deal with the consequences.
How To Connect With Lou Heckler
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here– enjoy
Full Transcription Of Lou Heckler Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK, David Ralph.
David Ralph [0:26]
Yes, hello there, everybody and welcome to Episode 265 of Join Up Dots. I should have actually said that in a kind of manly way I’ll explain later. So let me introduce you to today’s guest. He’s a man whose name came up in conversation on a previous episode of Join Up Dots and not in our kind of business man, but I know kind of way but like, Wow, there is this amazing man who is brilliant at what he does kind of way you’ve got to get him on. So I sought him out and I’m delighted that he agreed to come on the show and start joining up these dots. He began working as a 13 year old in his hometown Pittsburgh when he was hired to do a community news column for the signal item, a weekly newspaper. And his life has been intertwined. We both do written and spoken word ever since. He received your degrees in journalism and Radio TV motion pictures at the University of North Carolina, and also served as a news editor and anchorman, which meant that by the time he graduated from the university, he’d already logged over 1000 live TV broadcasts. And this all occurred before joining the military as still a young man and tackling another big door in his life that serving his country. Now, although much happened in his life leading to today, you can now find him tutoring speakers in the nuances of voice control and speech writing or presenting keynote presentations across America. And it seems genuinely enjoying himself. He’s found a path in his life that play to his natural talents and brings enjoyment to himself and everyone that he comes in contact with. So what is it about being a wordsmith that appeals to him on a daily basis and it’s a thrill performing live but he doesn’t get anywhere else in his life. Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Lou Heckler. How are you, Lou?
Lou Heckler [2:11]
David with a build up like that I couldn’t be anything but perfect.
David Ralph [2:15]
I started with this kind of manly beard. I couldn’t keep it up. We were talking just before recording and because of your broadcasting experience when I first came through to you and connected you suddenly you sounded like anchorman not the kind of Will Ferrell anchorman, but you sounded like anchorman and it made me feel like a young prepubescent girl. I just haven’t got the voice to keep up with it. Is that something that you have developed? Or is that something that you naturally had?
Lou Heckler [2:43]
It’s really something I developed while I was in college. I worked for three years with a voice coach. The main things we were working on there were listening to myself listening to when I heard me make a mistake in pronunciation or in grammar and then I He taught me a lot about breathing so that if you really want to know my real natural voice is probably up here. But he taught me a way to breathe so that I could bring it down here and would sound clearer and more distinct when I was on the air.
David Ralph [3:14]
So So what is bad because I could do without when I’m doing my introduction, sometimes I’m gasping for breath. I’m like, I’m like a goldfish laying on my desk. So how do you learn to breathe so that you can bring your voice down and become more you have more gravitas?
Lou Heckler [3:30]
I think there are a couple of things. One thing he had me do, which I think your listeners will find very funny, as he said, I want you to lie on the floor, here in the studio, and he put a brick an actual brick on my stomach. And he said, Now as you’re lying there on the floor, I want you to move that brick with your breathing. So it It taught me how to get the breath coming down from a lower place in a way are obviously it’s still coming from my lungs, but to get it supported, more room down more in your diaphragm. The second thing he said was, if you speak at a slightly slower pace than you normally do, that will also help you to breathe more easily. And if you are not afraid of a pause now and then you’ll be able to take breaths more often and the breaths will therefore support to your speech more fully.
David Ralph [4:20]
It did do so and we’ll wait bookings will move on to your life. I’m fascinated about this. Do the majority of people in TV and radio Do they have some kind of tuition or is this? Are we more into the natural spoken word nowadays, how people sound is how people sound.
Lou Heckler [4:38]
I think it’s the latter. Now, David, I started in television and golf 1966. So in those days, everybody was supposed to sound like they were pretty much from everywhere and nowhere. No regional accents and that kind of thing. Nowadays, I think we really celebrate the differences in people’s voices.
David Ralph [4:57]
So you think he’s improved to you. Thank you. is the natural progression is the right way of going?
Lou Heckler [5:03]
Well, I think it is probably in the broadcast field. On the other hand, I know for a fact that my distinct clear voice gets me work because people like to hear it. Because it is more. I don’t know what the word is. I just say trained. It’s more trained than most people’s voices. And so the upside is it helps me get work. The downside is, sometimes if I’m in a public place where I’m not actually speaking or anything, but I’m just speaking to someone and this is the way I talk all the time. I got a lot of funny looks like wow, who is that?
David Ralph [5:37]
We have a gentleman over here called the voice of the balls. And the National Lottery is done twice a week. And there’s this chap who’s been doing it ever since that the balls have first released. So yes, he will say things like, and this is the 26th time but this ball has been released and he’s got this distinctive voice. And apparently when he used to go out, people used to recognise it. So they saw a be picking up stuff from the supermarket and people would turn around. So he had to actually change his voice so that people didn’t
Lou Heckler [6:08]
prized. I had a friend in the community where I live whose father was a police dispatcher. You know, the person who sits in the police station and says, car 10 go over to fifth and main and see about a robbery, that kind of thing. And after his father retired, he was in a grocery store in Florida. Meanwhile, remember, he had been a police dispatcher in New York City. He was in a grocery store in Florida. And he said something to his wife and somebody ran around from the other side of the counter of the counter and said to him, Oh, my gosh, did you used to be a police dispatcher in New York City, I used to listen to police radios. I know that voice
David Ralph [6:48]
is difficult to escape from it, isn’t it? So so if we start going back in time, because that’s what we like to do on here. The introduction. I was talking about you as a 14 year old in your hometown, and he was hired. Do a community news column. Now, was that pure hustle on your regard? Or was that a fluke? That happened because that is very young. That wouldn’t happen nowadays with it.
Lou Heckler [7:11]
I don’t think it would happen nowadays. I think there was a little nepotism kind of involved. I have a an older cousin named Frank heckler, who was a bit of a local historian. And when this little local newspaper was looking for someone to do an historic column, they asked my cousin Frank to do it. He knew of my interest in journalism and news and reporting and that kind of thing, because he lived very close to us and was a very good cousin. And so when the paper said, you know, we need somebody to do a little weekly column in in that community. Who would you recommend? And he gave them my name. Now, I was paid the princely sum of nine cents a column inch in the paper. So it wasn’t a moneymaker. But it did get me out in the community and they would even prompt. This would be very funny to most of your listeners that won’t even know what this means. But they would print Polaroid photographs. Polaroid was an instant camera technique. I could take a photograph of some event in town, maybe a little league team that won a championship or something like that in baseball, and they would print that as well. So that was my early journalism career. And it was, you know what, it was a great deal of fun. It taught me a little bit about typing and reporting and, and meeting a deadline and all those good things that probably last the rest of your life.
David Ralph [8:33]
But he does, doesn’t he formative years really do set you out. I spent many years working in a bank. And it’s a total departure from where I am now. But as I say to a lot of people, what it taught me was to get there on time and to be able to answer the phone and a customer service and all those kind of things, which I can’t break free from now. So your formative starting point. really does set it up for you and so that was that was a gift really for you did what was that question? The master plan. Were you interested in the sort of written word as an even younger child? Or did that just come out of the woodwork?
Lou Heckler [9:08]
I was interested as a younger child even at age eight. Let’s see. Let me drop back a minute. When I was three, we got our first television. And I was very fascinated by that. Not many shows were on but I loved watching the shows. But I especially got interested in the news. So by the time I was eight, I was pretty sure I wanted to be some sort of a newsman. And, interestingly enough, although I’m not doing anything like that, now, to the whole point of this broadcast, the fact that I learned how to interview people, and ask good questions and that sort of thing. That’s really what I do when I’m coaching other people now, in their public speaking, it’s drawing out from them the things that they almost didn’t realise were inside them. And so the interviewing skills started at age 14 helped me every day today.
David Ralph [9:58]
So what makes a good into Well, while this skills that you are talking about where you can hear the nuances of somebody, because I find more often than not I asked a question and people go, how did you know that? And it’s just the way they phrase it. If you listen hard enough, they almost give you the answer before you even ask it. You find out what what the skills that you’ve got.
Lou Heckler [10:20]
Well, excuse me, I think. I think genuine curiosity is a big part of it. I mean, I just I’m fascinated by people and their lives. And a second thing is, I think a good a good interviewer asks, I call them the st questions, the superlative questions. What’s the funniest? What’s the biggest, What’s the hardest? What’s the silliest? Those kinds of things? We can think in extreme terms, if you just say, well, so what’s it like being a cab driver to a cab driver? They have nowhere to go with that. But if you say, what’s the most interesting that ever happened in this taxi? They’ll have something pretty interesting to say. So he asked the super A lot of questions. And then, oddly enough, given the name of your programme, you join up the dots. You know, they say this at one, answer one question and they say something else to another answer. And you say, Well, wait a minute, if I put those two together, does that mean that? And you know, David, that’s when the guest you’re interviewing goes, wow, Yes, exactly. Wow, nobody’s ever asked me that before, you know. So it’s, it’s thinking of things in context. The one thing that makes me crazy, I suspect makes a lot of your listeners crazy, too, is when you, you watch an interview on the telly. And an interviewer says something like, and I’m making this up, of course for humour, but the interviewer says something like So tell me, Mr. Ralph, what’s the best part of your job? And you say, Well, actually, there’s no best part. And then you say, and then the interviewer just skips that and goes, yes. All right. And how many of you completely ignore the answer you gave which was almost a beckoning for another question.
David Ralph [11:55]
So So do you think nowadays talking about the TV, interviewing techniques, Because certainly in the United Kingdom, I think the interviews that we get are predominantly based for entertainment. They’re more amusing than deep, deep conversation. Did you think the art of that conversation where two people will just sit head to head and discuss and not have almost pre written down questions? Do you think that’s dying out?
Lou Heckler [12:22]
I do. And I really think at least here in the US, it may be true as well in the UK, our so called network NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, all those big broadcast people. Our network broadcasts are really almost like tabloid magazines. Now, there’s the there isn’t a lot of really, really what we used to call hard news and and certainly not any interpretive reporting.
David Ralph [12:47]
Well, why do you think we are moving again, away from that deep conversation that the last one we had in the United Kingdom is a gentleman called Michael Parkinson? And I’m not sure if you’re aware of him, but I’ve heard his name Yeah. He’s he was around forever in a daze kind of 90% retired now he comes back for sort of special interviews. But he would have interviewed everyone from Humphrey Bogart to Mohammed Dally, literally all the A listers. And I remember seeing him on a programme recently. And he was saying the difference with when he was doing it to now was that the guests didn’t have anything to plug. They were just coming on to have a conversation. But nowadays, they’ve got their publicist and they’ve got their questions that they will answer and it’s all linked towards actually pushing a film or pushing an album or pushing a book or whatever, is that similar as well in the United States?
Lou Heckler [13:42]
I think it is very much so. And I think it’s also a function of the fact that when I was coming along, there were a few stations, and you had a few choices, but nowadays you have hundreds of choices. Whether you have a cable or satellite or however you get your bread, whether it’s just streaming on one of your remote devices. The newscast is not just competing with other newscast. They’re competing with all sorts of other entertainment. And so I think a lot of entertainment has leaked into the news.
David Ralph [14:11]
So if you go back into your 14 year old start when you was doing that, was that scary? Or was that exhilarating to you? Because I imagine going around on your bike whenever doing these kinds of things must have been must have been a frightening thing. You must have broken down some barriers that or limiting beliefs that you had in your head when you first got given that job.
Lou Heckler [14:33]
I was about to answer your question with just one word. Yes. Was it exhilarating? And Was it scary? Yes. Little bit of each. I. And I think again, I think that’s, it set up a pattern for me for the rest of my life. That was finally said in a single sentence by a colleague of mine. Many years later, when I was getting out of the military. I was going back to work in broadcasting. I was going to have 17 people working for me. Until that time, I had had no one working for me. And one of my colleagues who was a career, enlisted gentlemen said, Well, how did you feel about that? That seems like a pretty big responsibility. And I said, Well, in all honesty, I’m, I’m scared. And he said, it just came out of his mouth. But it’s been a profound piece of knowledge for me. He said, If you ain’t scared, it ain’t big enough for you.
David Ralph [15:26]
And you still live by that today?
Lou Heckler [15:29]
I do. I find that I’m at my best when I’ve stopped just being who I’ve been up until this point, and I’m trying something different and new, and I feel a little bit scared. I think it puts us in. I finally came up with a term for it for myself. I call it delightful jeopardy. It’s it’s not the kind of Jeopardy where oh my gosh, I might die if I mess this up. But it’s that jeopardy of Wow, I wonder if I can do this. And then when you do you go, Okay. All right. I have I have something new in my in my toolkit. Now we’re in my saddlebag. I know I can do this now. And I, to me, that’s just an exhilarating feeling.
David Ralph [16:05]
So So what makes you different from so many people out there that are listening to this? Who want to do something they want to do something bigger with their life, but they get that feeling in the pit of their stomach. But that delighted What did you say? delighted Jeopardy? Was it? Yeah, delightful Jeopardy, delightful Jeopardy that had that feeling inside. And instead of actually going past that by just retreat, and I go, No, that’s too scary. That’s too big for me to deal with. What makes you different from all them.
Lou Heckler [16:34]
I have another voice on my shoulder. David, that reminds me, this is not the last decision you’ll ever make. So that’s very freeing as well. In other words, I’ve made a decision to try something new. I’m a little bit scared of it. And and so now you have that voice going. Yes. But what if you fail or what if you get embarrassed or what if you look funny doing this or whatever? Then the other voice says in my other year, well, wait a minute, Lou. It’s not the last decision you’ll ever make. If you make a mistake or this doesn’t come out the way you think it will you make another decision. And as as obvious as that seems, I think sometimes we all get paralysed by thinking this one single decision has to last the rest of my life. It’s that funny thing when people come up to you when you’re finishing secondary school and say, What do you want to do with the rest of your life? You’re looking at them going well, I hope I get a date sometime. That’s about all you can think of at the moment. So I think it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s also another thing and I think you want to get this perspective looking backwards. I think it’s also realising that every thing you do, every thing you do, leads to where you are now, I’m pretty sure most of who we are today is simply a sum total of the decisions we’ve made up to this point. some good, some bad. The difference is I think whether we learn from the Or whether we get pretty much tied up in them?
David Ralph [18:04]
Well, that’s the whole theme of the show, but joining up the dots, to making people aware, but literally, no experience is wasted. And if you are in a job that you really don’t like, gain something positive from it and move to something else. And it may not be the perfect place next, but you’ve started moving, and then you can try something else and try something else, which you have done. You have done a range of things, but that body of work makes you who you are today, doesn’t it?
Lou Heckler [18:34]
I think it does. And, you know, a little story I’ll tell you, which I always love to tell because it’s so I think it’s very powerful. We have a young friend, who is now has his doctorate in piano performance. He’s an incredible performer lives in New York City, teaches their performs there. And I asked him He is the son of very, very, very close friends. So I asked him when he was about 12 years old. When did he know he was going to be a pianist? And he said, when I was six? And I said, No, wait a minute, wait a minute, how could you possibly know that when you were six years old, he said it because it was the way my fingers felt the minute they hit the keyboard. And I said, Well, how did they feel? And this is what I love David, he only answered with a single word, he said, right. Hmm. I can understand right?
David Ralph [19:26]
Could you understand that when he said it?
Lou Heckler [19:28]
I didn’t get it at first. And I said, What do you mean, right? He said, it felt like that’s where my fingers belonged for the rest of my life. How do you like that? Now, let’s go fast forward to when he’s at Juilliard School of Music in New York City, one of the finest conservatories in the world. And my wife and I are up there for a meeting and we call up Jim and say, you know, we bribe him and say, Hey, if we take you to dinner, would you play some music for us? So we go up to one of the Juilliard practice rooms, and you can imagine what the sound is like in one of these and he said, sits down at this piano with no music in front of him and plays this beautiful piece. And I’m a bit of a wimp, I guess I cry easily. It was just so beautiful. And I just love this kid so much. I just started to tear up a little bit. And he looked over and said lu lu T, I’m sorry, I, I know I made a few mistakes. As a job, I’m not smart enough to hear your mistakes, but I’m just, I’m just loving this music. And he said, and here’s another great phrase. He said, Well, I’ve been practising this, but it isn’t in my fingers yet. Hmm. Muscle memory. Yeah, muscle memory. So I think you know what i one thing I would say to your listeners is, you got to keep after stuff. If you really love it. You have to keep after it until it’s in your fingers. And once it’s in your fingers, he said metaphorically, that’s when you’re going to soar to a different height than you’ve ever been before.
David Ralph [20:54]
Well, let’s play some words that you’ve led in perfectly to this. You are a professional at doing this after all. This is Jim Carrey
Jim Carrey [21:01]
my father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.
David Ralph [21:28]
That’s pretty much what you were saying, isn’t it? If you do something that you love, go for it and just keep on going for it until that muscle memory really kicks in and it becomes my breathing.
Lou Heckler [21:39]
And if you Yes, and if you’re in a job that doesn’t represent that, move on, one of my friends here in the state says, in her early days, and I love this too, she said, I suddenly realised I was in somebody else’s dream job. Yeah. Yeah. Let them have the dream you move on to your own dream.
David Ralph [21:59]
So So when when have you had that feeling you’re on stage or you’re, you’re doing a live television broadcast? And you suddenly think this is right, this feels right, exactly like the young chap with these piano playing fingers. When When have you had that?
Lou Heckler [22:15]
Well, honestly, I mean, I think it started at a very early age, because I was that kid that probably most of your listeners didn’t like, I always wanted to give my book report first, or I always wanted to narrate the school assembly, or if the principal of the school was coming through and the teacher said, We need somebody to explain to him what we’re doing, I would raise my hand and I offered to do it. It just felt like the play and it felt like the place I was supposed to be. And it’s very hard to say that and not and also to say this, I don’t think it was ego. I’ve never thought, oh boy, I love this. I love having people look at me, I love the attention. It just felt like the best way to use the gift that I was given. And I think my son has a funny phrase he calls it shipped from the factory. He has two daughters. And he says, you know, they’re so different, but I think they were just shipped from the factory that way. And I think, I think, you know, we you have a genetic predisposition to either love speaking or not love speaking club music or not love music, love being an accountant or not by being an accountant, whatever it may be. And the secret is, I think just to find what that is, so that no matter what anybody else is, you say, No, this is, this is part of my vision of who I am and what I would like to do. My late mother in law was a visual artist. She taught art and and taught fashion illustration and that sort of thing. And we asked her one time when she knew she was an artist, she said, I knew when I was three years old.
David Ralph [23:51]
How did she know again as an artist,
Lou Heckler [23:54]
she said every time she looked at any drone, just even in a children’s book, Whatever she couldn’t she didn’t care about the words. She just wanted to see. How did they draw that line? Why did they use that colour? How did they use that backdrop? But she said, right, from the earliest days, she knew, I just think that’s tremendously fascinating
David Ralph [24:15]
when it is because he’s talking about intuition. He’s talking about feelings, isn’t it? We get what you were saying about the job move on to a different job that the problem is that people don’t allow themselves to taste test experiences. They get a job, if it’s not a job that they like, they put up with it because it’s a salary. And I say to people now, but when I started work, if you moved from job to job, it would have been seen as a lack of loyalty. But now it that doesn’t occur. You almost say you’ve been in a job for 13 years having you got ambition, so people can move around pretty quickly, and find the thing that lights them up, or more importantly, find the things that I don’t like doing so They don’t have to repeat them. What do you think about that?
Lou Heckler [25:03]
Well, I agree with you completely. And I would also say this, and it was a great piece of advice I got from an old friend named john green. JOHN had worked. And john and i had met in college together, and we’d worked in broadcasting together. And he said to me, he said, My plan for my life is at least every three years, I’m going to change jobs. He said, that doesn’t mean necessarily that I go from Company A to Company B to company C, and so on. But within the company in which I work, I’m not going to stay doing the same thing. And so if I realised, and he said, I’m actually going to do this by the calendar, so that even if I feel basically content with what I’m doing, what I also realise is after about three years, I might also be getting stale. So I will go to the people in my organisation and say, What else can I add? or What else can I subtract from what I’m doing? What can I do that’s different, so that it gets me excited all over again. I think if more of us did that, maybe we would stay With one company for 25 years, but we do it in maybe eight different jobs.
David Ralph [26:04]
I did 13 years or 14 years with the first company. I’ve been at data sort of a few years whizzing around all over the places. And then I did about 10 years with the last company. And I always used to have a similar theory on that two years into years out. So I used to get into a job and spend two years really knowing the nuts and bolts of it. But then two years getting somebody to cover me and moving my way to the next position. And it worked very well. The last job I did, I ended up being a trainer to financial trainer, and I did that for seven years. I didn’t change I got stale, and I quit the company and I left. So there’s a lot of truth in that isn’t about reinventing yourself to keep your talents and your experiences moving forward.
Lou Heckler [26:50]
I think so. And I think it’s a it’s an insidious kind of thing, David, isn’t it? I don’t think you don’t realise it. The first month so to speak of the In a bit of a rut or even the second month, but it’s why you maybe just, you know, one of the things we’ve also done over the years is we just did it recently. We sit down at the end of the year, and we really take out our little calendars and look at them and say, Well, you know, what made sense this year? What didn’t make sense? What do we have some specific goals for the next year? It’s not it’s not terribly formal process. But it’s just to continue to reminder so when I say we, I’m saying my wife and I, she’s also a wordsmith, she’s written five books. It’s a it’s a way for us to keep reminding ourselves that there might be something new out there that we should pursue.
David Ralph [27:39]
So so to buy into the words that Jim Carrey said back then about, if you find the thing or you might as well take a chance and doing the thing that you love, because you can as easily fat fat and doing the things that you don’t like.
Lou Heckler [27:53]
I think it’s a wonderful piece of advice and I think you you find a strengthen you sometimes that you didn’t know was there, when you’re placed in a spot that where you have tried something and it hasn’t really worked the way you thought, I think it gives you a clue. There’s always something there that you can take with you, and gives you a clue as to maybe what the next what the next step is.
David Ralph [28:19]
I was speaking to a gentleman last night and he he joins up these dots every year. And or every five years I think it was and what he does, he looks back over his life. And he looks for all the sort of the bad things that have happened in his life. And he said as he’s moving forward, and he’s getting older when he does his exercise, and he looks back, he’s finding but what he used to say was a bad thing was actually a good thing because it helped him move on to something and he says he’s finding it far harder to find the dark in his life. Because now he’s found himself in such a wonderful place he can see it’s exactly as you’re saying he’s found the strength in the dark. times to move forward to where he wants to be.
Lou Heckler [29:03]
Yeah, that’s interesting. I was having this discussion along the same thing with someone, just two days ago, there was a period in my life when I worked in television, where I became extremely involved in my community. I was on the board of the local Cancer Society, I was on the board of the local Association for the blind, I was on the board of I was one of the token males on the board of a, of a Commission on the Status of Women and so on. And I really wanted to see what that felt like. I really was interested in my community, and I wanted to give back in some way, and I was able to do that. But I also discovered this, I’m impatient. I’m not very good on these boards that take what I felt was six months to make a six minute decision. And so as a result, since that time, when I get invited to speak on or to be part of some kind of a board, whether it’s at a church or community, whatever, I just I always say to them, you know, I’m not a very good board member. And I’ve just learned that about myself. Because I get impatient for things to happen. It’s easier for me to do things on my own because then I can control the beginning in the middle in the end,
David Ralph [30:14]
and you’re playing to your strengths. You’re at a point now but you know, but what you do well, you do really well and you enjoy yourself in the process, subsequently providing more value to the world around you.
Lou Heckler [30:27]
I think in the in the long run, that’s exactly right. And you just have to get past that. I should or why am I different or what’s wrong with me and all that stuff and say, well, it’s, I am different. And that’s okay. I this is I’m going to play to my strengths.
David Ralph [30:41]
So So what Where is your difference with over people that you surround yourself on a daily basis, because if you go over to my about page on the Join Up Dots website, I was actually just reading I don’t know why I was reading it before we were about to connect. But it strongly lead you to believe I’ve always Held different and I have I’ve always just couldn’t even put my finger on it. But he just felt like I wasn’t part of the crowd somehow. I never really wanted to be I was always, you know, slightly on the edge. Where’s your differences? Lou?
Lou Heckler [31:16]
I so agree with you. I always felt that way, even though if you looked back in my high school years or something, and people say, Well, he was very popular and all that, but I felt always unusual. And here’s my sister. I have two sisters. My Sister Nancy put a put a word to it. A few years ago, I had done like you’re doing here. I had done a series of recordings for actually for my speaking Association here in the United States. And I sent my sister a copy of these, and they were interviews with people like you’re doing here but also I had a little essay that I would close each of the 17 minute programme with. And my sister called me up and she said I just realised something. She said you were an artist. You’ve always been an artist. You, you know you’re running a successful business and all that, but what you really are is an artist, a performer. And I think, I think people and I think I suspect you are to David. And I think if you have listeners who feel like, when I am as an artist and it, it almost sounds I say it sounds a little bit whoo to say that to somebody. But artists see things differently. They see things with a lot of passion. They, they they have a very low threshold of boredom. They have a great desire to say, why not, instead of why. And I think if you find yourself in that position, you should just pat yourself on the back and say, Well, good for you. You’re an artist. Now an artist doesn’t have to be someone who paints or sings or draws or whatever. But if you have, if you feel more a passion, about what you do, then some people have I think that’s a sign that you’re an artist and You should celebrate that.
David Ralph [33:03]
I was always credited as a maverick, all the way through my career like it. And I talked about this a lot, because half of it is a bug bear with me. And the other half now is a badge of honour. And I still can’t quite work out what’s it like to go? But the management and the board of directors always used to say I was a maverick, because I always look at things slightly differently. And for Okay, why are we doing this? Because it’s how we’ve always done it. Well, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Let’s try this. And there was that creativity, as you’re talking about, in everything that I I’ve done. And when you take that create creativity and that passion, a lot of people are frightened of it. Especially I hear this time and time again, with the people that I coach. They’re in jobs where they want to provide more and they want to do extra and they want to be challenged. But their companies are almost saying no, we got you in to do that. That’s not part of your remit, so they get bored and the morale goes down. When they leave and when they feel we’re not worthy and all that kind of stuff, but your Why aren’t you we should embrace that. And if somebody is feeling passionate, especially in a corporate environment, we should find a way of getting that passion to burn even brighter, because when things start happening
Lou Heckler [34:17]
I you know, I think it’s so true. My wife pointed this out to me I I spent 19 years on what’s called the adjunct faculty at the University of Michigan’s Business School. The University of Michigan Business School has an executive programme for business people to come in for anywhere from three day two to 10 day programmes and I was speaking every month in this one five day programme and I’ve been doing it for about a dozen years. And and I would literally commute from where I live in the state of Florida to the state of Michigan once a month every month for these 12 years. That alone was getting a little bit old. And I came home and I said to my wife, you know I can do this and I’m there’s a piece of me that enjoys this but I think I’m kind of done. I feel a bit stilted I feel a bit confined by the, by the content and by the format of the programme. And so she said, Well, let me ask you this, are you as funny in there? As you are just with me and with friends, you’re usually pretty funny. And I said, Well, no, I’ll try to be a little bit more like a business professor. And I remember she literally grabbed me by the shirt and said, Lou, that’s not you. You’re a performer. Just go up there a couple more months, and just be yourself. Well, two things happen. Number one, I started to get the highest ratings I’ve ever had in these programmes, needed that little smack in the forehead. Secondly, I stayed for seven more years. Because I was loving it then, because I was being me. Instead of some other person’s concept of me. I would say to your listeners, be careful about that. You know, if you know who you are, don’t try to put on somebody else’s clothes.
David Ralph [35:56]
We talk about this time and time again. And it It’s so much easier. But Lou hekla to be Lou hekla because he’s been training for it his entire life.
Unknown Speaker [36:07]
David Ralph [36:08]
But you go off and try and be somebody else. I, I’ve done that I think everybody’s done that you go into a job, the management act in a certain way. So you start acting in that certain way. And at the end of the day, you come back and you feel tired, because so much effort is in performing, where if you just let it go and become naturally you and enjoy yourself, things do naturally come your way. And it’s a complete mindset shift. But once you start to get the cracks and you start to realise, hang on, I can enjoy my life. I can do things that I love doing. probably get paid more than I was before. And other people are inspired or getting value from my work. Why haven’t I ever done this before? It shakes you to your core, doesn’t it once once that actually hits you?
Lou Heckler [36:57]
It does, it does and I think really believe that everybody can do that. But you have to take that first leap of faith. And of course, that’s the killer, you know. And it’s it just like people who listen to this and say, oh, gosh, this guy speaks for a living. I’d hate to do that. Well, we all know that. You you feel nervous before you get up to speak. But once you get going, most people say, Oh, you know what, it wasn’t as bad as I thought, Gosh, it’s, this is easy, or this was fun, or I loved watching people’s expressions. So sometimes I think we cut ourselves off with erroneous anticipation, and don’t get around to actual execution.
David Ralph [37:37]
I’m gonna play some words by a lady that you probably know you’re probably friends with Oprah Winfrey. And she was saying recently about that the thing that holds so many people back is that they look too much at the big picture and be the bridge between where they are to where they want to be, is too big for them to comprehend and it’s too frightening and x y Zed. This is what she said,
Oprah Winfrey [38:03]
the way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, what is the next right move? not think about, Oh, I got all of this stuff. What is the next right move? And then from that space, make the next right move, and the next right move, and not to be overwhelmed by it. Because you know, your life is bigger than that one moment, you know, you’re not defined by what somebody says, is a failure for you. Because failure is just there to point you in a different direction.
David Ralph [38:35]
That’s really the key to how people can start becoming the next Loffler, isn’t it? Don’t think about I want to be out there in front of 100,000 people think, right? How do I speak in front of two people, and then 10 people and, and whatever it is the next step that is so important.
Lou Heckler [38:53]
I loved what she said. And I agree with you as well. And it goes to the statement I made a few minutes ago, which is it’s not the last decision you’ll ever make. Right. So don’t don’t think of this one decision is casting and in concrete or steel or whatever, the rest of your life, it’s only a single decision. And if it works great, we’ll make another one. If it doesn’t work great, you make another one.
David Ralph [39:14]
He’s pointing No, isn’t it? I understand it. I understand that the people out there listening to this. They’re like coiled springs, they’re in their cubicles, they’re on the train. They want so much more. But they’ve got in their heads so much riding on it, I’ve got a job, I’ve got a salary, I’ve got a mortgage, I’ve got all that kind of stuff, where we talk a lot about the the slide of faith or the side hustle when you start working on something before you punch your boss in the face and quit and move on to something else. And I think that is the way that people should do it. I think that they should start finding out what they like working in the evening or get up earlier, until there’s a natural bridge where they can just lift their foot up and end up in the next position.
Lou Heckler [40:00]
I think that’s absolutely right. And pardon me for the cough. I, I think what happens sometimes is we I think we have to jump from one thing to another absolutely full force all at once. Throw everything at it. And that that rarely works, doesn’t it? It rarely when I was in television, occasionally, because I was on the air, people would come to me and say, oh, we’re having a meeting over here. Next Thursday, would you like to come and speak at the meeting? It’s okay, fine. And then they’d say, what would you charge and I thought, Oh my gosh, you can get paid for speaking to me. What a concept. So after this happened a few times, and I was ready for a change after 11 years with this one particular organisation. I thought, wonder if I could just do that for a living now. We because at that time, our son was a bit unwell and we needed to change geography in order to help him Get better he happened to be allergic to almost everything that grew in the city we were living in at the time. We did jump in full force, but in a way we did in the way we did. And I already had the University of Michigan as a client. My wife was already working as a writer and selling her writing. And so we had a way to make the transition. Now, this doesn’t mean we didn’t eat cornflakes for dinner, sometimes we sure did. But we we had faith that if we kept doing this, something would come up. And we also knew if it wasn’t going to work for me to have my own business, then that was okay. I would go and find another job with another organisation and everything would be fine there and then we’d make another decision. It’s I think, you get you get this, what do they call it? The paralysis of analysis, you get paralysed by analysing, you know, what would this look like on my resume or what if this messes up or that stuff has to go out the window the people who really succeed they have a vision They have a passion. And they turn both of those into a mission and say, let’s give this a go. And if it doesn’t go, we’ll go somewhere else.
David Ralph [42:08]
Do you know Lou, I love a bowl of cornflakes at night. When you were saying that I was thinking. When was the last time I had a bowl of cornflakes? My wife always tells me off that eating cornflakes late at night, but it’s the best time isn’t it?
Lou Heckler [42:20]
It? Is it the best time? You’re right. Couple of blueberries in there something It’s wonderful. Yeah.
David Ralph [42:24]
So so if we talk about the vision, because what I like about this conversation is we’re talking about a process we’re talking about a journey. And what I think we need to get across to the listeners is, visions change what you first start having in your head, what what I’ve got in my head now with this show, is probably a lot closer to what it was when it was I started thinking about it, but it was too scary for me to think about it. So I saw parcelled it away. Ben started working on the show and now it’s come back out and I’m I’m that much closer to it. I always talk about a tree and you plant a tree and for the first 1015 years, it just does the bark bit at the bottom. And then it starts branching out. And that’s where all the opportunities and that’s all the things that you have put the foundations in suddenly come to you. And visions do change, don’t buy. But if you look at too much to treat in the beginning, you think how can I deal with that? So don’t just just wait until it grows to that point again.
Lou Heckler [43:27]
I think so it makes me think of a young man in our community here. We, my wife and I love to swim. Unfortunately, since we live in Florida, we can swim probably 300 days a year. And there’s a community swimming pool about I don’t know, three quarters of a mile maybe from our home. Anyhow, there’s a young man down there and we’ve watched him coach, elderly women, women in their 70s and 80s in a water aerobics class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the morning, and we’ve also watched him coach young people Maybe from ages eight to 18 in the afternoon for a swim team. I knew he had been a competitive swimmer at the University of Florida, which is in the city where I live. But I had never actually seen him swim himself. He was just really at ease with either the women or with the kids. And one day he jumped into the pool and swam back and forth on its own. And I felt like I was watching a dolphin. I mean, it was just beautiful to watch him move through the water. And he has one of those long bodies like the Olympic champion Michael Phelps has. And it was just magnificent to watch him go back and forth. And when he stepped out of the pool, I said, Matt, wow, that was just great. And he looked at me like, What are you talking about? That’s what I do. And I said, What’s the secret? Again, I’m asking those questions, you know, those ESD questions, what’s the what’s the best thing any of us could do, to, to be to be able to swim like you swim? And he said, with a smile on his face. I can’t believe sometimes what people say. He said. It’s the 3012 rule.
David Ralph [45:00]
What was he mean by that?
Lou Heckler [45:02]
I That’s what I said. I said, Well, wait a minute. I’ve heard of the 8020 rule. That’s what’s the what’s the 3012 rule? He said, all you have to do is practice 30 hours a week for 12 years. And you can swim like that.
David Ralph [45:19]
No, don’t you?
Lou Heckler [45:20]
Yes, of course, of course. But he was determined to take that natural talent to a place where everybody else would say, you know, you’re wasting your time swimming, Matt, you’re kind of a, you’re kind of a goof off. You’re just in the pool all the time, you know, surfer boy and all that stuff. It’s now his job. He’s the aquatics manager for this Swim Club. And he’s having a great time and a great career, but he put in the 3012 You know, he put in the time. So I would just say to your listeners, remember that. Everything you do is going to take time and once in a while you read about somebody who wins a lottery or suddenly wins a drawing and gets a big prize and stuff. That’s great. Good for them. I’m happy for them. But that’s not how most success occurs. Did you think your life has
David Ralph [46:05]
applied the 3012 rule? Well in the introduction when I was talking to the lady and she said out loud as this amazing man who is brilliant and what he does, is it only because you have put in Bose that 10,000 hours where the lady is younger and she hasn’t moved up to that point yet.
Lou Heckler [46:26]
Absolutely. It’s all been you know, it’s it’s in some fashion or another I’ve been in, in the public eye and in front of the public for almost 50 years.
I think I’ve probably put in the time.
David Ralph [46:39]
And then this is a mindset shift again, isn’t it? It is the American Idol X factor that you can just have overnight success and instantly you’re playing Madison Square Garden. It really it doesn’t happen does it even an overnight success. It takes years and years and years. It’s just that we only just spot the bit better. happened overnight?
Lou Heckler [47:01]
That’s exactly right. And when you think of all those shows, like the X Factor and the idol and Britain’s Got Talent and all that sort of thing, those people are not up on the stage by accident. They’ve put in a great deal of time, and they believed they could do it. Even though their knees might have been knocking a bit when they got up there in front of Simon and some of the others.
David Ralph [47:22]
Did you think you could do that with your talent that you’ve got now your experience? Do you think that you could stand up in front of a global audience? Not necessarily juggling juggling poodles or whatever stupid things they do on? America’s Got Talent? But do you think that you’ve got enough background experience to be able to stand up if you do? Yeah,
Lou Heckler [47:42]
yeah, yeah, I the size of the audience makes no difference to me now. It probably would have some time ago, but because I’ve been on our national TV I’ve been in front of hundreds of thousands of people in live audiences. I’ve been in front of thousands 10s of thousands of People know it, what you realise is it’s a performance. And once you have the performance down, whether they’re 50 people in the audience or 7500 people in the audience doesn’t make any difference.
David Ralph [48:12]
How about going the opposite way? Because I used to be a public speaker and a presenter. And I used to find it easier as the crowds got bigger because I raised my game. But then, when I had to do like two or three people, it was really hard to become a professional because I don’t know. It just didn’t seem as important somehow. Do you feel the same way?
Lou Heckler [48:33]
With 100%? Agree? Yes, sir.
David Ralph [48:36]
And so how do you overcome that when you suddenly get this job offer come through and then you turn up and it’s in a room and there’s two people there and your presentation is based around an audience and the participation is for an audience and you’re doing it with just a couple of people.
Lou Heckler [48:53]
I have a little mantras I use before I go on.
Let the genie out of the bottle here in town. One is,
if this is the last speech I ever give, it’s going to be my best. And the other one is, and this sounds egocentric, but I’ll explain it in a minute. I also say right before I go on every speech before I go on, I say to myself, Oh, boy, are they going to love
Unknown Speaker [49:18]
David Ralph [49:22]
Look into the bedroom every night.
Unknown Speaker [49:23]
Yeah, but um,
Lou Heckler [49:26]
yeah, thank you very much. I’m not going there. What they, what I mean by that is I say, Oh, boy, I’m so excited to be the vehicle to convey this message to them, not because it’s dripping out of my lips. But because I’ve had enough experience and enough training and enough research and I’ve spent enough time with great people who have told me wonderful things and they’ve had a tremendous impact on my own life. I can’t wait to pass them on to somebody else. If you go in with that kind of attitude, it really doesn’t matter whether they’re three people or three Three people, it’s going to be the same message.
David Ralph [50:03]
So let’s play the words of somebody who did leave a message for us. And they’re almost 10 years old these words now. And it is the theme of the whole show is the Join Up Dots Mantra. This is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [50:14]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.
Lou Heckler [50:50]
Tree words look very true, very powerful. We have to realise that each day every day really is a gift and Sometime during that day, there will be a T shirt, there will be a bumper sticker, there will be a sign somewhere, there’ll be an interview with somebody, there’ll be an angry customer, there’ll be a happy customer. There’ll be a colleague who needs you to kneel down next to them and hold their hand from him and tell him things will be okay. There will be moments in every day. That will be shapers of you. And if you raise that awareness every day, those will provide you with the dots you’ll need when you look back and you’re ready to move on to something fresh and new and become great at it.
David Ralph [51:37]
What was your big dot? When you look back over your life, your timeline, what was the dot, but signalled that Lou was on the move.
Lou Heckler [51:49]
I honestly think that biggest dot was when I fell in love with a woman I’ve been married to for 46 years because she was also an artist and she believed in artistry. And she believed she believed in me. And she knew, even before I knew it, that I would be successful if I pursued the things that were in my heart, her support and kindness and goodness through all these years, continue to be the biggest dot.
David Ralph [52:21]
That is a lovely thing to say. And it is so true, isn’t it? But so many people out there can’t see their own personal skills and they need somebody to show them the way they need a loved one to say, don’t you realise you can do this with your eyes closed? Yeah, I know. I can do it with my eyes closed. But who wants us to? Yeah, the whole world wants us to do that. She really gave you a gift. And she?
Lou Heckler [52:43]
She did. And she still does every day.
David Ralph [52:46]
She lovely lady, lovely lady. Well, this is the end of the show. And this is the part but I’m going to send you back in time to have a one on one with your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to younger Lou, what age would you choose and what advice would you give Well, we’re gonna find out because I’m gonna play the theme tune and when it fades you up. This is the Sermon on the mic.
Lou Heckler [53:27]
Okay, Lou, now let’s just sit down for a minute here and have a have a good talk, I gotta tell you a couple of things that I’m realising now, as I look back at you. First of all, you’ve always been an artist. You were from the earliest stages when you were standing down in the basement of your house, playing 45 RPM records on that old record player and recording them and your voice on a big reel to reel tape recorder so that you could pretend you were on the radio and then playing it back and feeling delighted that your own self At eight or nine years old, that was a an early indication that you were going to be a performer and an artist. And that would be okay. And even though you were down there all by yourself, and sometimes when your mother would open the door to the basement and say, what’s going on down there, and you turned it off, like you were embarrassed, you should never be embarrassed. That’s where you were really finding out who you were. Then Lou, when you went on to school, and and you were really more I hate to say this because it sounds sort of stuffy but you were a little more intellectual than some of the other kids made you feel a little weird. That was okay too. Because remember, you were gathering information. You were taking in all kinds of information about people and about events going on and you were learning to connect the dots if you will. You were learning to connect what was happening to you to what would eventually be who you were. The one piece of advice I’d like to give you though in retrospect is as much You’d like to read, you really should read more history. I find as I have now gotten to be the older you that I really am so fascinated by history, I also feel like I have tremendous gaps in what I know about history. And I should have paid more attention to that. Because history sets up patterns. And once we understand patterns, we get to really understand more fully how we fit in, and maybe more importantly, from time to time, how we don’t fit in. The last thing I would say to you is something I’ll repeat from earlier in this broadcast. It was something that a military man said to me when I was getting out of the United States Army, and it’s really been a guidepost for me now as the later version of you. If you ain’t scared, it ain’t big enough for you. Make sure for all of your life on a periodic basis within reason that you let yourself get scared. That’s when you grow. That’s when you’ll flourish. That’s when you’ll become who You really are.
David Ralph [56:02]
Lou, how can our audience connect with you, sir?
Lou Heckler [56:06]
The best way would be simply my website, which is www.lu heckler el OUHECKL er.com. It has information about my speaking about my coaching. You can write to me at Lou at Lou heckler. com. I’d be delighted to hear from you, listeners.
David Ralph [56:26]
Lou, thank you so much for spending time with us today and joining up those dots. And please come back again when you have more dots to join up because I do believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our past is the best way to build our futures. Lou Heckler. Thank you so much.
Lou Heckler [56:39]
Thank you, David.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you were once to become. So he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the two that changed his life, head over to Join Up dots.com to download this amazing guide Free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.