When you talk, be like Mike … Tyson

by GK on September 5, 2009 · 1 comment

As in my last post, I’ve got an unusual source of blogging inspiration. I recently watched a documentary that I surprisingly loved, and I can’t think of a more powerful example of talking about yourself, one component of the Big Four.

The role model for talking about yourself? Mike Tyson.

In almost any other way, Tyson is hardly a role model. He has committed some of the worst mistakes a man can make, going all the way back to his childhood. And after I almost walked into him at a Vegas nightclub earlier this year, I can say he’s possibly the scariest-looking guy I’ve ever seen. Indeed, the words “Tyson” and “animal”  or “crazy” have become synonymous.

But then I watched the documentary “Tyson,” which is basically 90 minutes of Mike Tyson talking about his life, with no narrator or interviewer. He talks with his famous lisp and high-pitched voice, and he mangles a few words as usual. But after watching it, for the first time I could see Tyson as a complete human being. In a weird way, I could even relate to him.

Being relatable is at the core of talking about yourself. Whether you’re getting to know the hot woman at the coffee shop or having a job interview over coffee, it’s important for the other person to get a three-dimensional portrait of who you are. And that’s accomplished by getting beyond the facts and getting into emotions and details that will set you apart from every other guy. Even making yourself vulnerable.

The main emotion that seems to define Tyson is fear. Bullied as a child, he says he wanted so much to avoid humiliation that he became a bully himself. I won’t get into how he details his life as a teenage delinquent and eventually finding a mentor and becoming a boxing prodigy, but I found it mesmerizing to hear Tyson discuss it, because he does so with such disarming honesty. Sometimes the honesty leads to too much information, such as when he talks of having gonorrhea on the night he became the youngest heavyweight champion ever, but the man seems incapable of lying.

Even as one of the most intimidating boxers ever, Tyson was still afraid. He describes the moments before a fight this way: “All during training I’ve been afraid of this man. I think this man might be capable of beating me. I’ve dreamed of him beating me. For that I’ve always stayed afraid of him. The closer I get to the ring the more confident I get. Once I’m in the ring I’m a god. No one could beat me.”

Think about that kind of fear the next time you’re getting anxious about approaching the cute blonde at the bar.

Tyson doesn’t blame anyone but himself for his downfall as a great boxer, and for all the embarrassing incidents he’s had along the way. But after hearing him talk about why he snapped and bit Evander Holyfield’s ear, I could relate to his anger and see why he did it. And he lays himself so emotionally naked about all his sins — including those with women — I actually believe him now when he says he was falsely convicted of rape.

In the DVD’s audio commentary, the director of the film talks about how he gauged interest by seeking out women who were most repulsed by Tyson. With the women who said they had no interest in watching  a Tyson movie, he offered them a deal: watch the first five minutes, and if you don’t like what you see, you can leave and get $100. But if you stay and watch the whole thing, you get nothing. Each time, the women were hooked enough to stay.

If a man as scarred and demonized as Tyson can intrigue women like that just by talking about his life, imagine what you can do.

{ 1 comment }

1 Beider September 5, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Hmm, interesting. I might have to check this documentary out, I remember I found inspiration while watching a behind the scenes for Stargate Atlantis of all shows… Surprising indeed, but one of the actors there was really good at conversations, not that he talked about himself but the way he just kept changing subjects and the interviewer didn’t seem to mind. He would almost never actually answer the question she asked him, but rather just go out on a tangent and make her (and the audience) laugh.

The actor in question would be .

Anyway, have to watch this and if all else fails I might just nibble on the girls ear.

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