Stop Taking Up Space. Say Something Useful.

Have you ever found yourself in a verbal headlock with folks whom you could not escape for the life of you? Have you experienced a talk from a speaker that made you want to pull out your hair? Its like screeching nails on a chalkboard. Your head’s about to explode.  You just want out. Admit it. We’ve all been there.

Stop Taking Up Space

As I listened to The James Altucher podcast show series during one of my morning workouts, I  came across a provocative statement by noted author and speaker – Sally Hogshead of Fascinate Inc. – that made me stop and take notice. She said,


“When in a conversation, one of two things is happening. You are either creating value, or simply taking up space.” – Sally Hogshead


As obvious as it sounded, my mind wandered into a hazy daydream.  I was wow’ed by the astounding implications that simple statement had on how we act,  what we do, and what we say – both personally and professionally.

As a professional speaker, innovator, and avid networker, I personally find myself in those situations all the time. And then it got me thinking…do I do that to others? I’m sure I have (as we all probably have), but hopefully fewer times than most. I’m one to always seek ways to improve myself…so what can I do to correct that?

In my experience, both in-conversations and in-innovations, the way one delivers value is by first understanding who you are speaking to or innovating for.  Do your homework. First learn about your audience…then speak, engage, or sell to them.

The point is, if you don’t have something of value to offer, then you are better off dismissing yourself from the conversation so as not to be perceived as boring, dull, or worse yet, a space filler. If you find yourself in that haze, do yourself a favor and get out. Don’t force it. You are better off re-visiting the conversation at a later time when you are more lucid and have something of value to offer.

To extend her statement to another dimension, the same holds true when innovating new products or services – either they are creating value, or simply taking up space. The burgeoning health industry has in recent years become a darling for the startup investment community. But with rapid growth, comes lots of unwanted noise.  As I’m increasingly asked by organizations and investors to evaluate and advise new opportunities, I’ve come to realize the importance of  placing quality filters with speciality expertise to uncover those innovations that provide value versus those that fill up space.

So, while the implications extend wide and far, my call to action is simple:

Next time you engage in a conversation, get up on stage to speak, or conceive a new business idea, first ask yourself, “Am I providing value? or simply filling up space?” It will forever change how you act, what you do, and what you say. Most importantly, it will keep you interesting and relevant in a noisy world full of average space fillers.

Always #ThinkUnusual.

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