Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Jelly Belly Effect: Creating Emotional Buy-In

I’ll never forget the first time I ate a Jelly Belly. On that day a whole new world was revealed to me and all children of the eighties. No longer were jelly beans bound by the primary colored blandness of green, red, yellow, purple and bleech… er, I mean black. Thanks to President Reagan and his magic beans, we could now choose from exciting and renegade flavors such as orange sherbet, root beer, and buttered popcorn.
Do you remember when you first discovered that you could combine Jelly Bellies to create entirely new flavors? For me, this was probably the best discovery since I cut open my Stretch Armstrong doll to see what was inside. My friends and I would get together, sit in a circle, and see what exciting and new flavors we could create: 2 blueberry + 1 buttered popcorn = blueberry muffin. And 2 green apple + 1 cinnamon = candy apple. Life was good.
I was recently thinking about Jelly Bellies as I was doing research on the science of emotion and human behavior for an upcoming seminar. I was drawn to the work of Dr. Robert Plutchik. According to Plutchik, there are eight basic human emotions: Anger, Anticipation, Disgust, Fear, Joy, Sadness, Surprise, and Trust. These are basic, primal emotions that drive human behavior. There are varying degrees of each basic emotion that are both mild and intense. For example, the mild form of anger is annoyance; and the severe form is rage. The mild form of joy is serenity; and the intense form is ecstasy.
Emotions create feelings, feelings create actions, and actions drive results. I believe that if you can create an emotional response in your customers or employees, then you can influence their actions. Plutchik theorizes that more complex emotions such as love or remorse can be attained by simply combining varying states of basic human emotions. For example, the complex emotion of love is made up of the two basic emotions of trust and joy. Optimism is the combination of joy and anticipation, and submission is created by combining trust and fear. And thus, I was immediately reminded of Jelly Bellies again – and their powerful combinations.
Plutchik’s theory is used by fiction writers to use emotions to evoke behavioral responses in the reader. Why not in business? I can’t think of a better model for sales people or managers to create desired responses in their customers or teams.
Oftentimes, people start a business with a great idea, product, ideology, or service, only to find that it fails due to poor sales or low customer engagement. If you want your customers to love your product or service, you must create a platform that incorporates the basic emotions that make up love – which are trust and joy. Trust is created by providing value in a consistent manner; and joy is created by doing it in a fun and pleasing way. When you focus on combining basic emotions to produce the desired result, then people become passionate about buying what you are selling.
If sales managers want an optimistic team of sales people, then two primal emotions are at play: joy and anticipation. Joy is created by creating a stimulating, fun work environment where civility, respect, and support are a part of the culture. Anticipation is created by providing reward, good pay, bonus, and perks.
Sales are made and driven by emotion, even though they are justified with logic. The most successful salespeople are the ones that uncover the pains, concerns, problems, fears, and desires of their customers – and then focus on the basic emotions that evoke an emotional response that ultimately leads to action.
Want an example of using joy and anticipation with your customers? Email me with Jelly Belly in the subject line and receive a free chapter of my new book, The Pancake Principle: Seventeen Sticky Ways to Make Your Customers Flip For You.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dont Call Me a Comedian

What’s the difference between a comedian and a humorist? Most humorists, especially those who began their careers as comedians, would say that the difference is context…(and money). Comedians primarily perform in comedy clubs while humorists are often writers and speak and perform at conventions, association meetings, and corporate events.

A popular quip among my buddies in the National Speakers Association is “do you have to be funny to be a professional speaker?...only if you want to get paid”. My goal as a humorist is to, not only make people laugh, but to also deliver content, motivation, and expertise to my audiences in a funny way. For that reason, I was pleasantly surprised and a little taken off guard when SiriusXM Radio called and asked me to perform a one hour comedy show from the Blue Collar Theater in Nashville, Tennessee last month. In one phone call I became what I never aspired to be…a comedian. I don’t perform in comedy clubs so, in preparation for my show, I pored over my material and removed anything that resembled content. My wife and I, along with some friends from North Carolina, flew to Nashville for the recording. The Blue Collar Radio theater is tucked away in the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. The Southeastern Conference Championship basketball game was being held that weekend so we fought our way through Vanderbilt and University of Kentucky fans until a security guard saw us and escorted us inside. The studio audience, made up of invited guests and SiriusXM subscribers, was lined up waiting to go in. After a few brief hellos, I was escorted up the elevator to the “green room” in rock star fashion which is where I decided that I could get used to being a comedian. For about 20 minutes I chatted with the programmers for the SiriusXM comedy stations. One of them said “I love you Blue Collar Radio guys”. I asked why and he told me that he regularly visits comedy clubs across the country looking for talent to put on the radio for the uncensored comedy stations such as Raw Dog or the Foxxhole.  He said “ I will find someone who I think is great and ask them to send me their materials so I can put them on the radio…they rarely follow through.” He then went on to say “when I ask one of you Blue Collar guys to send me your materials, not only do I have a package the next day…there’s a box of cookies with it”.
As a professional speaker I have to sell myself on a regular basis to meeting planners. In order to do that, I must have video, a cd, marketing materials, and a website. When SiriusXM radio asked for my materials, I simply reached onto the shelf and put together a package (with cookies) and over-nighted it. Opportunities come to us every day. The people who take advantage of those opportunities are prepared to embrace them. Talent, skill, and a good product are prerequisites for success. The trigger that creates the emotional buy-in, however, is often in the packaging. Are you waiting to be discovered? or are you building a package that will enable you to embrace success?

Patrick Henry is a funny professional speaker, author and songwriter. He is the author of The Pancake Principle: Seventeen sticky ways to make your customers flip for you. Buy it at 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


I recently coached a client in presentation skills and as a token of appreciation, he sent me a $150 gift card to Ruth’s Chris steak house.  My wife and I decided to use it to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. I have eaten at Ruth’s Chris before and fully intended on tearing through the gift card like Caesar through Gaul, but what happened next was a very expensive lesson in the power of communication. When we arrived at the restaurant, my wife and I requested a booth in the corner so we could be fully present with each other. We ordered wine and perused the menu. I wouldn’t call myself cheap, but I have yet to look at the prices on the menu at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse and not wince ever-so-slightly. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was the mood of the moment, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and order the whole Maine Lobster. I love lobster. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my father returning from business trips to New England with a crate of live Maine lobsters. I can remember being woken up at eleven o clock one night because my father’s plane had been delayed, but that wasn’t going to stop us from having a lobster feast. My mother started boiling a pot and we dined into the wee hours of the morning.  That’s where my love of lobster began and now I was continuing it at Ruth’s Chris steak house. The waiter described the specials, raved about the filet, and finally I asked “hows the Maine lobster?” His eyes lit up as if I’d asked about his children. He went into a description that had me giddy with excitement. “How much?” I asked. “$37.00?, bring me a Maine Lobster”. It was every bit as good as he described. The succulent morsels dissolved in my mouth, the butter dripped from my chin and my smoking hot wife stared lovingly at me from across the table. I was in heaven. We enjoyed the evening all the way through the after dinner B&B. When the check arrived, I pulled out my gift card to see if we had fufilled the limit…we had. Maybe it was intentional or maybe it was because english was our waiters second language, but apparently, when I asked how much the lobster was, he left off the words… PER POUND. I ended up paying $120.00 for a beady eyed shellfish! I was speechless. I should have become suspicious when the manager came over to shake my hand and thank me for ordering the lobster. I now know why the kitchen staff was lined up at the door dabbing their eyes. They were saying goodbye to an old friend. That damn lobster was probably soaking in a tub for years, growing fat, waiting for a sucker like me to come along. What would you do if you were in that situation? I wanted to wring the waiters neck, but I didn’t. I didn’t even complain. I simply paid the bill, tipped the waiter and left with my wife. I decided that the lack of communication was as much my fault as it was Raul’s. Will I go back to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse? Probably, although that particular restaurant has seen the last of me.

There are two parts to effective communication. Listening is as important as speaking. My fault was in my assumption and not asking questions. His fault was not presenting all of the facts. Did Raul benefit from the lack of communication?... yes and no. Sure he made about thirty dollars more on his tip, but he lost the opportunity to create a profitable relationship. Every time you interact with a customer, it is an opportunity to seed the relationship for future opportunities. Had Raul been more forth coming with the information, he would have created an emotional debt that I would have paid at a future date. Maybe with friends, clients, or even a party of ten.

Are you creating a culture of openness with your clients, customers or team? Do you communicate effectively? As the presidential campaign is in full swing, Mitt Romney is being blasted for not sharing his financial records, and this is ticking some folks off. I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re on, I believe that those who find this offensive do so, not because they care how much money he makes, but rather because of the lack of communication. When you don’t communicate effectively you diminish trust. No trust? No Sale!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Death of a speaker...NOT!

I listened to journalist and author Jeff Jarvis tell 1000 professional speakers from across the globe that a disruption is coming that will forever change the landscape of the meetings industry. He went on to say that speakers who refuse to adapt will find themselves in trouble. Jeff is an old school New York newpaper man who was on the last train into the World Trade Center when the first plane hit. In the following weeks, he began to blog about his experience which lead to hundreds of thousands of followers and a shift in his perception about the dessimination of content. He began to believe that freely given content was going to disrupt the media business and newspapers and magazines that tried to control and monetize it were going to find themselves on shifting ground…he was right. Thanks to free content on the internet, newspapers and print magazines around the world have been reluctantly closing down their presses with a swiftness that would make Gutenberg roll over in his grave. Jarvis told us (speakers) that youtube, Google+Hangout, and crowd sourced formats are going to replace the traditional speaker model and if we did not find new ways to communicate our content then we run the risk of becoming obsolete. I 43% agree with his line of thinking. If you paint all professional speakers as simply distributors of content then yes, there are multiple ways to receive information. Our audiences are now participating in the conversation and are more informed than ever before which requires speakers to remain current and relevant.  I do, however, believe that good professional speakers don’t just communicate content, we PERFORM content. As a professional speaker, I am responsible for not only delivering my message but also delivering an experience. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a humorist so there are no huge gasps of awe as I blow peoples minds with new information, but even the "content speakers" Like Gary Vaynerchuk, Peter Sheahan, Jeffrey Gitomer and yes Jeff Jarvis help create a live experience with charisma, talent, skill and PERFORMANCE that will never be replaced by google+hangout or youtube. The economy is still bad! we get it! conventions have been hit hard because it is expensive to make one happen when people are being forced to choose where to invest time and resources. This has created an opportunity to receive content from other sources BUT I believe that this is a distant second to being a part of a gathering with a charismatic professional speaker at the helm. I'd much rather hear the Eagles live than on my iphone wouldn’t you? So YES, I agree that like the newspaper and magazine business, the speaking industry is in a state of disruption. Yes, some of the speaker herd will fall to the wolves, but I also believe that as long as people gather in person to learn, share ideas, and eat Marriott chicken, there will be a need for a brilliant professional speaker to lead the conversation.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I was coming to the end of a long Honey-do list which had me standing in the liquor store staring at bottles of Skinny Girl Vodka. My wife is a teacher so during the school year we rarely drink alcohol but since it was summer, we’ve resurrected the age old tradition of five o’clock  happy hour. I was trying to remember which flavor I was supposed to pick up when a friendly gentleman named Van Poteet approached me. I don’t know how long Van has worked at the ABC store, but this was the first time I’d met him. I was taken a little off guard by his smile and casual manner especially since I’ve rarely seen an ABC employee anywhere other than behind the counter ringing up sales. Van asked me “whatcha drinking tonight?”. I told him that my wife wanted to make some kind of cocktail that involved Skinny Girl Vodka. “Have you ever tried a King?” Van asked. I had no idea what a King was, but Van got so excited telling me about this new drink that I got caught up in his enthusiasm. A King was basically an ounce of Bannana Liqueur and and ounce and a half of PB&J Vodka. You read correctly…Peanut Butter and Jelly Vodka. Van began to share with me three different variations of the drink and convinced me that I would be missing the most amazing  cocktail in the modern world if I left the ABC store without the ingredients for “the King”.  I walked into the ABC store for a $15.00 bottle of Vodka and walked out with $65.00 worth of cheer. Unlike most the the ABC liquor store employees across the country, Van Poteet does not sell liquor. Van Poteet sells experiences. He sells cocktail hours, wedding toasts, libations, celebrations, and intimate evenings.  As I reflect on my experience with an objective frame of reference, I imagine that Van was told to “push the new PB&J Vodka”. Had he simply asked me to consider the new Vodka, I would have politely declined, but Van knows that people buy for two reasons; the desire for gain or the fear of loss. Van made me feel that if I left without buying what he suggested, I would be missing out on a terrific experience. Van reinforced, for me, a few simple truths about sales.

1.     SELL THE OUTCOME. The PB&J Vodka was simply the means to achieve that outcome.

2.    CONNECT WITH EMOTION. Van made me want to buy because of his enthusiasm. I wanted to be a part of what made him so excited. When you truly believe in your product, your enthusiasm will be your best wingman.

3.    KNOW YOUR PRODUCT. Van was so convinced that I would enjoy what he was selling that he gave step by step directions as to how to best use it. One of the 5 traction points for a killer customer experience is convenience. By making it easy for someone to use your product or do business with you, you create a buying atmosphere.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


It’s finally over. After three years of planning, organizing, creating and agonizing as the convention chair of the 2012 National Speakers Association convention in Indianapolis this summer, I’m officially old news. My synapses are once again beginning to fire steady, my world is coming back into focus, and now I reflect. The convention was a huge success and although I’d love to take credit for the entire event, I can’t…or can I?

For ten years I was a professional musician and songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee. Incidentally, I learned more about leadership, management, HR, sales, and psychology by being the front man of a band than in any class I ever took at the University of Southern Mississippi. The most important lesson that I learned is that the best leaders are lazy. Let me explain. We’ve all read in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  about how Tom coerced his friends into cheerfully white washing the fence that he was supposed to paint while he relaxed in the shade. Tom would rather be lazy than do the work himself. Did that make him a bad leader? No Way! I planned a successful convention that was attended by over 1000 professional speakers from 14 different countries. It has been receiving rave reviews, and just as I did when I was the front man in a band, I learned two things from my experience as convention chair. 1. I like being in charge, and 2. You can get other people to cheerfully do the work for you… if you know how.


1 GET THE RIGHT PEOPLE. I am right brained.  I am creative, vision driven, and focused on the big picture. I surround myself with people who live in the details and enjoy logistics. A “LAZY” leader will compliment their weaknesses with the strengths of others.

2. COMMUNICATE VISION. When I fronted a band, I would never tell the other musicians what to play. I selected the song, tempo, and feel, but when it came to their instrument, I let them be the expert.  As the NSA convention chair I took the same approach. I specifically communicated the outcomes that I wanted but then let the speaker or session host reach them in their unique way. This allowed the meeting to have texture and variety.

3. CREATE “SHINE” OPPORTUNITIES. A great band leader will let each band member take a solo and give them the opportunity to be in the spot light and receive applause. Incidentally, the best music happens during the solo. A “Lazy Leader” will create vision but then appoint quality people to carry it out. By observing but not micromanaging their efforts, they will be free to add their flavor and take credit for their contribution. As the NSA convention chair I gave my team an opportunity to be on stage more than I was. This rewarded their efforts with publicity.

4. PRAISE OFTEN.  It never fails to amaze me what a powerful motivator recognition is. No matter how successful, wealthy, or accomplished a person is, we all crave an “atta-boy” from time to time. When you make habits out of delivering honest, consistent recognition and praise, you will create a team of confident, happy, employees who strive for excellence.

5. BE NICE. I believe that people are more productive when working with nice people . I believe civility is good for business. When you are nice to people, you create loyalty. Loyalty fosters commitment. Commitment is the basis for a culture of excellence.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


“Clean Comedian for corporate, government, or personal events. Contact me for rates and availability.” That’s what the post said on the professional speakers and entertainers group that I am a part of on Linkedin. I was intrigued, not because I am looking for a corporate comic, but because I wanted to see the face of the person who would break etiquette and blatantly advertise 
bacon wrapped tofu
on Linkedin. I googled the name and found a youtube clip of a comedy show that he did a couple of years ago. “Clean Comedian” is how this person branded himself and 28 seconds into his act, he dropped the F Bomb. THE F BOMB! Now don’t get me wrong, I am not easily offended by profanity as long as it’s not around my kids, but I AM offended by a misleading branding statement. If you say your book is a best seller, you'd better not mean within your mother’s bible study. If you say you are the toughest man in the world, there had better be a line of broken and battered bodies littering your wake, and if you say you are a clean comedian then you’d better not drop the F bomb. If I were to have a conversation with this gentleman and express my opinion he would probably tell me that he modifies his language based on the event, or he may just tell me to ‘F’ OFF. I would then tell him “you can’t call yourself a vegeterian and have your tofu wrapped in bacon”. Unlike in years past, we no longer have control over our brand. Major companies such as Nike, Apple, and McDonalds spend millions of dollars on creating a branding statement which is nothing more than four or five words that come to mind when you hear a product name. Nike=swoosh, sports, running, football. Apple= Mac, sleek, fast, elite. McDonalds = easy, tasty, kids, cheap. For years, corporations were able to control their brand with advertisments and commercials. This is no longer the case. Thanks to social media and youtube, the control of our brand has transferred to the consumer. If I receive bad customer service, I tell my online community. If I do it in a funny or interesting way then it will ripple into their communities. Videos of me speaking and performing are all over Youtube and Vimeo. Some were put up by me and some by others. Because the internet provides immediate access into our brand, there is a transparency between us and the customer that has never before existed.  The best way for us to promote and protect our brand is to simply…BE THE BRAND. 

About Me

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Patrick Henry is a professional speaker, humorist, author, and songwriter who delivers funny and entertaining keynote speeches. Patrick shows audiences how to create IMPACT! by creating extraordinary customer, client and co-worker experiences. He is what happens when Keynotes, Comedy and Concerts...Collide!