137: Transforming Lives Through Vocal Awareness with Arthur Joseph
Arthur Joseph is truly a legend in vocal awareness. With his expertise in helping people make use of the power of their voice to influence others and to show effectiveness as a leader, he was able to train keynote speakers and celebrities such as Tony Robbins, Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery, Stephen Covey, Jerry Rice, and Emmitt Smith, to name a few. Most people are incognizant of how voice can change people’s lives, but Arthur knew that the moment his mother dragged him into an accordion studio, changing the world through voice will be his passion. He shares the seven rituals of vocal awareness to help you build your own identity and purpose and overcome the fear of abandonment.
Transforming Lives Through Vocal Awareness with Arthur Joseph
I want to start this show with a question, “How important do you think your vocal tonality is to your overall wealth and success?” We make decisions about people based on the feelings we get when we speak to them, which only a small percentage comes from the actual words. Vocal tonality, resonance and the structure of how we enunciate our thoughts are far more important. Our guest happens to be an expert on helping people use the power of their voice to influence others and perform as a leader. His decades of work with star power experts like Tony Robbins, Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery, Stephen Covey, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith are just a few of the thousands of people he has trained. He’s here with me for a special masterclass on helping us become better leaders and speakers that we need to be to earn more, inspire confidence in others and create the life we want by living to our full potential. Welcome, Arthur Joseph, to the show.
What a joy to be here, Mitch. Thank you for that kind introduction.
I don’t know if you were aware that we both worked for the same guy or worked with the same guy at least once. I built a business with Tony Robbins. Tony and I and another guy named Chet Holmes worked together to build Business Breakthroughs Internationals and I had the gift of being associated with Tony directly for five years and it was one of the highlights of my life.
I haven’t seen him in many years, but he’ll be here in LA. If I can get back from a client event in Jackson Hole and I have enough time, then I’m hopefully going to be down to see him. May I say hello for you?
That would be wonderful. Thank you so much. The subject of voice is different. It’s not what we normally cover here on the show, but I felt as if what you offer is so critical to success and so important that you are going to become one of our most popular shows. What you have to share is vital to all of us to understand this. You noticed right away a tick in my voice, which again is the perception that you bring to the table, you’re able to see problems with the way people speak. Before we get into voice itself, I’m a lot interested in how you got here. Tell me a little about a little bit about your pathway. You didn’t just figure out one day in high school, “You know what, I think I’m going to teach people how to speak more professionally.” There must have been a path and that’s what I’d love to hear.
The cliff note version is that when I was four years old, my mother dragged me into an accordion studio and I knew at four that music was my life. When I was in the sixth grade, I auditioned for a choir and couldn’t sing America The Beautiful on pitch. They wouldn’t let me in the choir. In the seventh grade, I auditioned for another choir in junior high and I perhaps didn’t sing any better then than I did in the sixth grade, but the teacher let me in her choir. At the age of twelve, I knew that singing was my musical life. Then at fifteen, one of God’s gifts to me was my first voice teacher to whom my first book was dedicated, Mrs. Julia Kinsel. In the middle of my lessons, I would manically clap my hands to my ears and say, “Stop. I don’t want to do it like that. I hear it this way.” I’m a crazy person.
This woman in her 70s allowed this bizarre behavior. She knew something about me I didn’t yet know. That when I hear a voice, I hear it differently than anyone I’ve ever met on the planet. When I hear a voice, I hear who you are. Her lack of dogma helped me carve out a way that has never been taught before. This is a trademarked work. I own this space. I took a Master’s in Voice. I’m a classical singer by training but this work, Vocal Awareness, this is my 54th year since first creating it. This work is a paradigm shift in communication. It was fully concretized between 18, 21 and 22. The seven rituals, the techniques, the philosophy, it has taken me decades to understand my own work but it came through like a Klaxon blaring.The greatest fear in life is not public speaking, it is ownership of our power! Click To Tweet
I’ve advertised once in my life and that was when my bride and I had been teaching vocal awareness part-time for a few years and performing and had a straight job until I got fired in my mid-twenties. Things were so bleak. We were actually on food stamps. In our first home one night, I was sitting by the fireplace and my bride was in the other room. I had this conversation with myself that my bride was only intellectually supportive of me doing my work full-time, not emotionally supportive. Of course, as I was saying it, I knew I was also lying to myself.
She was there for me 1,000%. The epiphanal moment was I wasn’t there for me and I finally had the courage to acknowledge that. The next day, I put one ad in the local college newspaper because it was free and got one student because I offered a free introductory lesson. It’s the only ad I ever placed in my life and my life built from there. I’m extraordinarily blessed because if you looked at my client list, you mentioned a handful of names. My 21st and 22nd students will be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Then basketball people like Kareem and Magic Johnson and companies like Ernst & Young and Deloitte, I’ve consulted with every network out there and they speak globally. I will be speaking in Hong Kong at the end of May teaching at Hong Kong University.
I only mentioned all of this because my passion is to change the world through voice and that’s my mission. When you look at the list of clients I’ve taught, it’s from such disparate backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common. They have all studied vocal awareness. When people ask me, “What’s your target market?” I say in response, “We all have to breathe. We all have to communicate. I sell air,” but this is communication mastery. I know you wanted to say something, I want to finish one last thought. I definitely like your audience to tune in because this is also the offering we’re making available to them. It’s called Visual Voice Pro. One of the trademark elements of vocal awareness is called visceral language. I literally, not figuratively, see every word I say on the virtual computer screen in my mind’s eye.
I point this out here because I want you to notice. You may see words underlined. You may see exclamation points or a period. You may hear me do certain things like I did there because I’m consciously aware of what I’m doing and I see the words I’m saying even extemporaneously at this moment. Visceral language, I look at music and it tells me everything to do. We look at words and they don’t tell us anything. In visceral language, I annotate text whether it’s a PowerPoint presentation, a keynote and I hope it’s bringing the words alive. I wanted to introduce what I’m doing because it’s how I communicate so you can tune into it a little bit as you choose.
Thank you for the overview and the explanation. I find it fascinating that there is such a rich topic of this available. I knew of you back because of Tony. I knew that there was a point where his voice was suffering. He was suffering from issues with his voice. He was seeking experts and you were the guy he found. I was aware of your work at some level, but I didn’t know you until now and I’m thrilled to be able to not just understand this for my own purposes, but I’m thrilled to be able to bring this to my show and to my audience. Thanks again for the time we’re going to spend. What I’d like to do at this point is if we could dissect the issues that people have with voice. You’re totally okay to use my voice in the problem that I talked about earlier if you feel like it would be instrumental. I would love to understand at least from the amount of time that we have available, how someone can use voice and how they could fix voice if it becomes an issue.
Let’s begin by first bringing to the forefront what sociologists for over six years have said is the greatest fear in society. It literally ranks ahead of death and taxes and that is the fear of public speaking. That’s completely bogus, it’s simply not true. The greatest fear is actually two fears, fear of abandonment and ownership of my power. Not being afraid of what other people think of us while we’re being ourselves. Claiming our voice is often an intimidating experience and throughout all of our lives, we’ve all got these mixed messages, “Don’t act like that. What will people think? You shouldn’t say that you sound arrogant.”
If I say to you, “Vocal awareness is extraordinary work. It can help you change your life in moments.” That’s stupid and arrogant but if I say in response, “Vocal awareness is extraordinary work. It can help you change your life in moments,” that’s not arrogant. That’s my truth. I begin here with the fact that we do not need permission to be ourselves. It’s critically important that we’d learn to claim who we are through discovering the possibilities that lie within our voice. For example, if I ask you to give me one sentence about why you love this show? Not this particular one, but why you love what you do in the podcast world? You have such a significant impact, why do you do that?Mastery in any form is only achieved when you integrate mind, body, and spirit. Click To Tweet
I do this because when I am being of service to others, it makes me feel good.
Keep that thought, we’re going to repeat it a number of times. Say it one more time, please.
I’m not sure I remember what I said. I said, “I do this because I love being of service to others because it makes me feel good.”
That’s all I need, “I do this work because it makes me feel.” One more time?
I do this because it allows me to be of service to others and that makes me feel good.
It allows me to be of service to others. I’d like you to sit up nice and tall. Sit at attention.
I am sitting in attention.
Notice you hold your breath. You noticed that.
When you said it, I did.
Instead, I never want you doing that again. Instead, I want you literally with your hand to pull a thread slowly, gracefully from three inches below your navel, right up through the top of your head, right in the middle of your crown chakra and pull it and let your arm extend further. No tension in your neck and shoulders. Don’t rush. Taller, taller and embody a man of stature. Do it again. Relax and embody a man of stature and notice the first thing as you pull this thread that your body does.
The first thing is I noticed is my spine straightens.
No, that’s the second. We’re going to do it again. Notice the very beginning as you pull this thread, the body inhales and do you notice as you sit differently, your voice is a little warmer and the pitch a little bit lower. Do you notice that?
I hadn’t noticed it until you pointed it out.
I know but now you do notice. We have seven rituals in vocal awareness, statures, and preparation for all the rituals. The rest of this episode, to the best of your ability remain in stature. Within yourself, not aloud, say thank you to God and really take in the thought. Let’s do it again and have a little bit deeper connection. For your audience who may not have that same devotion, we can also say thank you to Source or we can merely say, “Thank you,” and achieve the same experience. Take it in again and embrace that moment. You’ll notice that your space internally and externally became quieter. The first thing your body did once again was inhale. That’s the first ritual. We’ll leave the second one now and this time, take a nice deep top of the morning breath and make your statement about why you do this work.Every public encounter is a performance because someone is watching or listening. Click To Tweet
I do this work to help others because it makes me feel good when I do.
What you just did was you inhaled, you exhaled and you had no gas in your tank. Breath is fuel. We’re going to learn to inhale and speak at the peak of that breath. Don’t let out the gas in the tank, speak utilizing that. This time, I don’t want you taking a deep breath instead, I want you allowing a slow, silent, loving breath. It will take five to seven seconds. We’re in stature. You thank the Source and slowly deeper, deeper, deeper and exhale. Once again, you noticed the space as quieter. Did you notice the first time your chest rose, the second time your rib cage expanded? I didn’t point it out because it’s not relevant at this moment but when you took a breath, your tongue flexed, your larynx rose, you created tension.
The second time your tongue relaxed, your larynx released and actually went down just by changing the notion of how we breathe. It’s also illustrating that breath is not only physical, it’s also emotional. The first thing the body does when we’re in trauma is to hold its breath. When we walk up to do a PowerPoint, when we sit at a board meeting, when we go out on a first date, whenever we feel on edge or being scrutinized, we get tensed. Also when we’re doing what I’m doing, you’re noticing that you’re feeling more grounded, a little safer perhaps.
A little more focused too.
Remember the sentence before we do this again. Do you have the sentence in mind? We’re going to be in stature. We’re going to thank Source. We’re going to allow this breath slowly, silently, deeply, deeper, and at the apex, say that sentence.
I do this work because I love to be in service to others and it makes me feel good when I do.
That’s a fundamentally different communication than what we’re doing before.
You’re absolutely right and I can feel it. I also want to make some observations. I feel more powerful when I say it that way. I feel grounded. I feel like I am being heard at a different level.
You also noticed you’re actually listening to yourself differently. We have seven rituals. The sixth one is to pay attention in deeper listening. We pay attention to the outside and listen deeply on the inside. This is mastery. Mastery in any form is only achieved when you integrate mind, body, and spirit. I don’t know one artist, I don’t know one athlete who doesn’t have rituals before they perform or compete. They all have a spiritual component but we don’t use that in the rest of our lives. We do in vocal awareness because I am teaching empowerment through voice. I’m teaching that voice is power and that when you own your voice, you own your power.
If I’m saying something to you, “I’m really enjoying this thoughtful conversation you’re allowing us to have. Thank you so very much,” versus, “I’m really enjoying this thoughtful conversation you’re allowing to do. Thank you so very much.” The first one is untrustworthy and inauthentic, but we don’t know why. We just know we don’t get that guy and since we live in a culture where perception is reality and opinion created in three seconds, that train just left the station. What I did the first time was to speak too fast and raise my pitch, but we don’t know that’s what happened. We just don’t like him. The second one, we don’t know that I breathe, I slowed down and it lowered my pitch, all we get is that man is more genuine.
This is very interesting. I’m really enjoying our time together. You are a master at helping people better use their voice to improve their lives in every respect. This is significant and actually something I didn’t expect out of this session. I have 134 episodes published at this point and this is by far the most different type of show I’ve ever done. I love the fact that we’re doing it this way because I feel as if anybody reading this blog and following along is going to get enormous value from the work we’re doing together.
Thank you so much and I wanted to introduce another thought. When I say the greatest fear in society is not public speaking, it’s ownership of our power and then I went through that example about arrogance. If we look up the word hubris, it’s a Greek word which literally means blaspheming the gods or extreme arrogance. It’s nothing to aspire to but in vocal awareness, hubris is positive. I don’t know one performer, one athlete who in the moment of their performance is not completely hubristic. That singer, that actor on stage is not hoping you out there in the audience liked her performance. That athlete isn’t hoping that the coach or the players approve of how they’re doing. It’s not even in their wheelhouse. An infant is hubristic. A toddler is hubristic. We are only in their world to serve them and it’s primal.
I’m teaching us that we once again, want to embody who we are without approbation. We’ve been mistakenly taught all of these years, “You’ve got to get to know your audience. You have to build rapport with your audience.” What if I have that with one person, whereas this other person has another POV? I can’t serve them both. By presenting me, I’m not being authentically me. We look up the word in my latest book, Vocal Leadership, that I’m honored to say Commissioner Goodell wrote the foreword for Roger Goodell’s commissioner of the National Football League. We look up the word present in the glossary in the back presentation and it means to introduce formally, to bring before the public.
We look up the word perform or performance and that means to carry out, fulfill or to do. Every public encounter is a performance because someone is watching or listening and we don’t want to engage them hoping we are alike, we want to engage them genuinely being ourselves. To achieve that, we create what we call in vocal awareness, our persona state. The root of the word persona is an Etruscan word which literally means through the sound.The great use of a life is to spend it for something that outlasts it. - William James Click To Tweet
One’s identity is largely conveyed to the sound of a voice. We identify, how do I want to be known? What an interesting question. I actually have a choice. This work is all metaphor as I want you to have an extraordinary instrument, but I also want to help you have an extraordinary life so that this is the through-line that connects all of it. This is the glue. In that persona statement, you learn to embody, “This is the person I want to be, not the person I want to present.” Do you have a piece of paper handy? If you would, write the seventh ritual down, which is Be My Self. Tell me when you’ve written it. All the writer does is actually intended. It’s three words, not two, then the third one begins with a capital S.
I don’t know if I can guess what that phrase is.
It’s, “Be My Self,” but the word self is separate from my and begins with a capital S.
Separate the word myself into two words. Be My Self. I understand. I’ve written it down.
Do you notice the energetic difference in those two interpretations?
What I also noticed is that by taking a breath between the words my and self makes me feel like there’s ownership of self.
Underline that word, “It makes me feel like there’s ownership of my self.” Underline ownership and self and see a period in three, breathing two. Don’t exhale. Let’s speak on the breath, “Makes me feel like there’s ownership” underline, “self” underline. See the period? Say it out loud.
Ownership of my self.
It makes me feel like there’s ownership of my self.
It makes me feel like there’s ownership of my self.
Do you feel that difference? Breathe for five seconds because you rushed the breath. Deeper, deeper, deeper begin.
It makes me feel like I have ownership of my self.
Do you feel the difference in that subtlety?
It’s actually not very subtle at all.
Because this is mastery and the mastery lies in this subtlety of the experience. It’s not a trivial discovery, it’s a subtle one, but with that subtle discovery, profound things can now occur.
I think of it more as the nuance of the difference between where I started and where I ended. It’s in that minor, if not an almost unnoticeable difference that the power is available.
You’re absolutely right. May I share another story? When I turned 70, one of my dear friends and clients who was an EVP for twenty plus years of a global company. He left about a year and a half ago to put his own shingle on his own door and he gave me a book. He loves basketball. The book was called The Audacity of Hoop. In the cover photograph was President Obama in the oval office, coat and tie, holding a basketball behind his back. It was his life and his presidency through the prism of three on three pickup basketball. NBA clients of mine said, if you’re playing full court three on three, you’re intense because that sport is not for the faint of heart. In his note to me in the book said, “Thank you for introducing me to the audacity of voice,” and I said in response, “To be audacious, we first have to believe in our own possibility.”
We look up the root of the word audacious and it means intrepid, fearlessly daring and courageous. I’m often teaching that a champion does it differently. If we look up the world champion, it is not a sports-centric word. It literally means dazzlingly skilled in anything. The point is that we all have the ability to do this work to awaken our inner champion, to claim who we deserve to be. A moment ago, when I was speaking about our persona statement and the concept of choice, every single thing in life, revolves only around two things, to choose to do something or to choose not to. Even in application, I made a choice by walking away, but all I care about that is does that choice empower me or disempower me?We all have the ability to awaken our inner champion, to claim who we deserve to be. Click To Tweet
I have to say of all of the shows that I have broadcast, this is the one I’m the quietest on because I feel as if I’m learning from the master. With your level of skill and mastery, I feel as if there’s so much that you’re giving to me and to our audience that I just want to let you speak.
You’re such a gracious human being. Thank you. I’m just a teacher and I want to make a difference because I’m here.
There’s a difference between what you were doing and what I have seen with other teachers. I want to make a distinction. When other teachers do show up on podcasts, webinars and things like that, they have a purpose and the purpose is to sell. There’s nobody ashamed of being a salesman but when dealing with you, I feel your heart. I feel the joy in giving, in sharing, and in reveling in not just who you are, but in the mastery of your topic. That makes me feel good and I want to thank you for that but I also want to recognize it. I also wanted to ask you about the most difficult client you ever had. Help me understand how you take somebody with a difficulty that I’m sure wasn’t probably challenging at first and using your abilities, solved that problem. Can you describe that briefly?
There’s been more than one exceedingly difficult client. One was a young woman, I used to be a professor at USC in the theater school. After my first class, I was speaking to a student. The course was held in the big auditorium and which is the best theater on campus and I was talking to a student and somebody tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around and there was a young woman there with two hearing aids and she said, “You have to face me while you’re speaking because I was reading your lips.” and she was in my voice class. I’d always believe I could teach a deaf person the single. I’d actually never tried.
We begin in the first semester with one of her hands on my larynx, my voice box and the other hand at the top of a beat-up old upright piano because she couldn’t even hear a tape recorder, but she could feel the vibration. Together we are doing, and I’m doing this very loudly, “Ya, ya, ya” so she could feel vibration doing this simultaneously with. First semester final with her hand on my larynx and hand on the piano, “Ya, ya, ya. Doe a deer,” mechanically like that. The second semester final, twenty feet out on the big auditorium stage, “Ya, ya, ya, doe a deer. Raindrops on roses.”
She missed the first semester of her junior year and came back for the second singing the country song Blue Bayou at a performance level and you never would have known that this young woman couldn’t hear a lick. There are myriad stories where when you give me your voice, you give me who you are. I’ve trained a holocaust survivor. I’ve trained a gentleman with spasmodic dysphonia who couldn’t speak. One of my clients, a very famous American football hero wanted to be a singer. He couldn’t match pitch for months and he learned to sing so well that he finally ended up on Broadway. If we want it, we will find a way to achieve.
You’re certainly an example of that personally, but you have so many examples of that from your career which is very inspiring. Another thing that I’m taking away from this is that there really is no limitation that a human being has that they cannot overcome with determination and with training. You certainly can point to many of your clients and the work you’ve done to prove that. That’s a great lesson.We live in a culture where perception is reality and opinion is created in three seconds. Click To Tweet
Thank you so much and I appreciate this exceedingly thoughtful conversation and the opportunity to share this work with your thousands of audience.
I have a question for you. It’s a question I ask from all of my guests and I ask it because I believe it helps give us some insight as to what you care about in who you really are. Who, in all of space and time, would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch or an intense conversation with?
The first name that comes to mind besides my bride is Elie Wiesel, the Nobel Prize Laureate who was a Holocaust survivor, who did something I can’t comprehend. He lost everything in the Holocaust and yet his life after that was teaching us how to forgive. He won the Nobel Peace Prize because of that mission. I did have the privilege of meeting him one time, shaking his hand and visiting with him for a moment. Hearing his voice, I began to sob not because I was meeting a survivor, but because of the integrity of who he was due to the sound of his voice.
That’s a beautiful story. I know of him through a story and through the coverage that the press has had of him and that was a gift, the chance to meet him. That was certainly a gift and thank you for sharing that.
Thank you for taking the time with me.
I do have one more question. It’s called the grand finale, the change the world question. I have a feeling I know what you’re going to say but I’ve got to ask it anyway. What is it that you were doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to literally change the world?
Exactly what I am doing. My favorite quote is from the early twentieth-century psychologist, William James, Henry’s brother, who said, “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” This is my legacy time. I’m here to make a difference. My vision is to change the world through voice.
Arthur Joseph, you have changed the world. I bet you’ve changed several thousand worlds as well. This show will be out there from now until infinity. It will be there as a lesson and as a teacher to anyone who chooses to hear it. Thank you again. It was such a pleasure being with you. I hope we get a chance to talk again soon.
It would be my pleasure. Anytime you’d like, Mitch. God bless and thank you to everyone.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
- Arthur Joseph
- Vocal Awareness
- Visual Voice Pro
- Vocal Leadership
- The Audacity of Hoop
- https://VocalAwareness.com/FirstThousand/ – Free gift link
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