Two Years of Talk With Tone

Wow. Two whole years of Talk With Tone.

I’ve come a long way in these last two years. You’ve come a long way in these last two years.

We’ve come a long way in these last two years.

First and foremost, I am grateful for each and every one of you who have been along for the ride. I view everyone who has worked with me as a shareholder and investor in my future. If it weren’t for you and your continued belief in me, there wouldn’t be food on my plate each and every day.

I am forever grateful for your continued support and encouragement.

I have soooo much to say, and had plans to put it all into this one post, but I have decided I will break it up and be releasing it over the next couple weeks. I am very sorry for the long delay between newsletter publication. The last month has been very hectic as I’ve been preparing a new program for you all as well as moving out of my home in Dallas. Back to our normal schedule from here on out!

The 2 Year Rule - Love It or Leave It

If you look at my resumé you will find that I worked for roughly 2 years at each one of my prior jobs. When I reflect back on other activities that I did in the past such as sports, it is easy to spot the ones that I was passionate about and the ones that were temporary enjoyment.

I played soccer and football for 2 seasons. I played baseball and basketball for 10. I skateboarded for a couple years, but golfed and bowled (competitively) for many years.

So after reflecting on what makes me passionate about something I came to understand that 2 years is my internal marker for determining if I am truly passionate about something, or if I just enjoyed doing it and it’s time to move on to something new.

My first job was more business oriented than technical problem solving, per se. At the time (I was young and naive, or “green” as they say) I didn’t see it as a ‘real’ engineering job, so I sought a more technical position.

At the time, I knew I worked with an outstanding group of people, which made it incredibly hard to leave them. However, I lacked the vision to see that what I was doing would create transferable experience outside of that particular company.

(Narrator - “He was wrong.”)

What can I say, you do dumb stuff when you’re young.

In my second job as a controls engineer, I was able to solve more complex, technical problems. Through this work I confirmed to myself that I am an engineer through and through. Problem solving is something I enjoy, and feel that I’m at least half way decent at it. My previous employer agreed with that statement in the form of a paycheck for 2 years.

My issue with my second role was that most of my days I spent 8 hours in front of an industrial machine and lacked human interaction. While I am good at and enjoy problem solving, I am passionate about helping people. The main form of communication I experienced each day was via a CAT-5 cable. It didn’t cut it for me.

This is no knock on people that do enjoy doing those things. I just came to a discovery inside myself of what makes me happy and acted in my own best interest. After 2 years of that role, I internalized that I no longer wanted to continue doing it.

Now I have reached the 2 year mark at Talk With Tone, and I have an announcement to make…

For those who have been more actively working with me in the last 6 months, you know that a new gravitational pull has entered my orbit. It is no secret that my ultimate goal is to find a job in the bitcoin space, and I had made a push to make that dream become reality in the last 6 months. Nor was it the first time I’ve made that effort in the last 2 years.

But sometimes things are written, or ‘maktub’ as my Arabic speaking friends would say, and I still have unfinished business to take care of here at Talk With Tone before moving on. I have decided not to resist this force that has pulled me back to focusing on Talk With Tone stronger than ever, and have very exciting plans for the coming months.

Some Thoughts & Learnings

In the past two years I’ve had the opportunity to work with professionals from 43 different countries. ‘Work’ is a broad term, as it entails both professional challenges and social ones.

The largest challenge for most of you here in the United States is overcoming cultural differences.

When I explain this to a friend that was born and raised in the US they usually give me a blank stare, just as I would have done if someone would’ve told me that before I started TWT.

“I don’t understand, they just need to have proper grammar, good vocabulary, and the right accent.”

Sounds like something my old self would think, so I can understand why people think that a non-native speaker can just study an English book and make magic happen in a foreign country. Couldn’t be further from reality though.

Integrating into a different culture is far more difficult than speaking a non-native language at the professional level.

The truth of the matter is that if you didn’t have to communicate in English at the highest level, we wouldn’t know each other. Everyone that is reading this that is a client of mine has said to me “if I were doing this in [insert native language] I wouldn’t even have to prepare for it.”

Again, though, it is very easy to just think about language itself as the gap that needs bridged to solve these problems.

My clients living in the US face a far greater challenge than my clients speaking English at the professional level who are still living in their home countries. I would argue that culture is a bigger obstacle than the language itself.

While I understood this somewhat early on after starting this journey of helping you all, it wasn’t until more recently that I understood what is necessary to overcome this challenge.

English is the language of the business world, but body language is the language of the world.

A lack of confidence in English is what prevents most of you from unlocking your true potential. Or so you thought. I’m here to tell you that if you know what your body is saying, and how others interpret your body language, you will nearly instantly gain confidence in all forms of communication.

My main focus moving forward will be aimed at helping you to improve your body language, tone, and American culture. Of course vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar will maintain their importance. But there are a million resources out there that can help you with that, and I’m not always the best resource to help you with those things.

Tone, You Sure Can Talk, But Can You Walk?

The last thing I will touch on here is walking the walk versus talking the talk. It’s quite ironic that in my profession, “talking the talk” is essentially “walking the walk.”

I talk and teach a lot about how you can “do this” and “do that” and instantly improve your presenting, public speaking, and communication skills. But I’ve never been in your shoes. I’ve never had to integrate myself into a totally different cultural setting.

Sure, as someone who has studied and practiced speaking a non-native language for 3 years now, I can understand some of the pains that you feel when it comes to having trouble remembering words, struggling with grammar, or pronouncing a word incorrectly and being misunderstood. But I’ve never woken up and had the thought of “wow, I really don’t want to have to think and speak in my non-native language today.”

That ends now.

I figure if I’m going to preach about how to become a better communicator in a non-native language, I should be able to do it myself.

Your grandmother told you not to play with fire because it would burn you. Until you were burned, you could never understand why you shouldn’t touch it.

The mother of a child will always feel their children’s pain, as they felt a pain that no one else felt to bring that child into the world.

The owner of a house will always treat it differently than a renter of a house.

“In academia, there is no difference between academics and the real world. In the real world there is.” - Nassim Taleb, Skin in the Game

I chose to start my own business to have skin in the game. To feel the pain associated with every wrong decision equally as much as the success that comes with each correct decision.

We can put our skin in the game in different ways, and it’s not always necessary to start your own business in order to do so. However, no matter how you spin it, skin in the game is necessary for growth.

This is a major reason as to why I will begin traveling. Next week I will begin the next phase of my journey by traveling to Mexico, where I plan to stay for a couple months. While in Mexico I plan to put together presentations and present them to locals in Spanish. I can promise you one thing for sure. Your English is better than my Spanish.

There will be times that I don’t have the right word. Times where my pronunciation is poor and I am misunderstood. My grammar will be far from perfect. I will feel the pain associated with all of those things, which will allow me to understand your pains better, and thus help you better.

Mexico is just the first stop on the journey. I’ve met 10 of you here in the US, but there are plenty more of you to meet around the world. Stay tuned.

I feel super lucky to have you all as a part of my circle. There is no dollar amount that can be put on our relationships. It is year 2 of Talk With Tone, but I will continue to approach every day as day 1 in my approach for making learning with me a better and more efficient process.


Tony “Tone” Sossong

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