Entrepreneur Coach Antonio Neves on Finding Focus and the Power of Storytelling
You don't have to drive a Bentley to appear successful, some people just exude it. Antonio Neves is one of these people.
After more than a decade in front of the camera as a television host and business journalist, Neves in 2011 launched THINQACTION, a consulting and coaching business. Now, the former host Nickelodeon's U-Pick Live spends his time working with young professionals and entrepreneurs to help them get ahead in their careers.
You can also check out his helpful videos every Thursday on YoungEntrepreneur.com. Each month, Neves tackles the toughest entrepreneurial dilemmas you face. He also chats one-on-one with top entrepreneurs and other luminaries -- giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the rigors of entrepreneurship in real time.
Here, Neves opens up about his own entrepreneurial path and top advice he's meted/netted along the way:
Q: You had a successful career as a television host and business journalist, why make the switch to starting THINQACTION?
A: Throughout my life and career, I’ve always been a coach in some capacity -- that person whom people come to when they need advice, support or a new perspective. And the lens that I see life is through one of identifying opportunities, as opposed to problem solving.
Q: What was your biggest startup challenge, and how did you overcome it?
A: Most of my work, whether I’m coaching an entrepreneur, facilitating a mastermind or speaking at a conference, requires me to be present. The good thing is that I can charge premium prices for my services, the bad news is that there’s only so much "inventory" to go around. So I’m excited, later this year, to launch my first app (focused on building relationships) and an e-course on how to communicate less awkwardly.
Q: From watching your videos, it's apparent that you're comfortable in front of a camera. What advice would you offer to others who want to ramp up their on-air chops?
A: The best way to improve your on-camera skills is to purchase a camera and press record. Practice, practice and more practice. There’s no substitution -- though of course, classes can be extremely helpful.
But once you practice your work isn’t over. Take time to review the video and note areas where you can improve. Maybe you can speak slower. Or, there could be opportunities to put emphasis on certain words to better get a point across. But the key is regular practice.
And after all practice, the only way to truly get better and to grow is by sharing what you create with your community. Publish it on YouTube or elsewhere. No matter how uncomfortable it feels, get it out there.
Q: I can also imagine you're a machine at networking events, what's your secret? Five-hour energy shots?
A: I am a machine! The truth is that I just love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I’m always hungry to learn something new and networking events are a great place to do this while building relationships.
Q: In all seriousness, how do you recommend fellow entrepreneurs come out of their shells at networking events or other similarly extrovert-friendly situations?
A: Here’s the secret: Listen more than you talk. When I’m at a networking event or conference, I ask a lot of questions. I’m genuinely interested in learning about others and trying to find ways I can add value for them. Maybe it’s an introduction I can make or a resource I can suggest. I make it all about them.
Also, it’s very important to know your "story." Eventually people are going to ask about you and your work. You should be able to clearly communicate what you do, who you do it for and why you do it.
Q: From the entrepreneurs you've worked with, what has collectively been the biggest barrier to their success? How do you suggest people overcome this?
A: More than anything, the key is staying focused. I tell a lot of my clients to look at their life like an iPad and to identify what "apps" they have open.
Most people have way too may apps, or projects open. What happens when a computer has too many apps open? One, the processor speed slows down. And two, worst case scenario, a crash can occur.
Q: What's the top advice you would offer aspiring young entrepreneurs?
A: Surround yourself with people who make you better. People who encourage you, support you, challenge you and hold you accountable to be the best version of yourself. Don’t be afraid to work with the best. Be associated with greatness.