“Hello, Americans! This is Paul Harvey!” (Pause) “Stand by for news!”
For decades, millions of Americans turned on their radios around noon five days a week to listen to Paul Harvey’s 15 minute news show. He delivered a unique form of news, opinion and wit from his studio high above Michigan Avenue in Chicago to over 24-million listeners across the USA and on the Armed Forces Radio Network. Every broadcast was well produced, informative, entertaining and they all ended with the flourish of his vocal signature: “Paul Harvey. [long pause] Good day!”
His writing was folksy and unassuming, but his voice was big and powerful. While he had millions of loyal listeners who perked up when they heard his voice, few had ever seen him in person or even knew what he looked like.
I had the distinct privilege of working personally with Paul Harvey on two occasions. The first time I met him in person was when my partner and I greeted him at the airport as he deplaned the executive jet that brought him there. We were surprised that the man with such a big voice was just average in size.
That night at a pre-event cocktail party I watched Paul Harvey work the room filled with local political and business men and women who had paid handsomely to attend. Later he spoke to thousands crowded into a theater, and kept them on the edge of their seats for 45 minutes with his staccato voice, dry humor, and poignant stories.
Paul Harvey was magnetic; he exuded confidence, the kind of confidence you and I want. Here is what I observed that made Paul Harvey magnetic:
First of all, Paul Harvey made us feel important. When my partner and I briefed him on his itinerary for the day, he looked us right in the eye and understood every word we spoke.
He was the important guy that day, the celebrity, the honored guest, but by looking at us and listening to us he made us feel like geniuses. He did the same thing that night as he worked the cocktail crowd and later once again when he looked into the eyes of thousands in the theater, and talked to them as equals.
Second, Paul Harvey displayed power without pride. He conveyed this power not by telling everyone how many listeners his radio show had or how many books he had sold or how many important people he knew. He conveyed his power with the comfortableness of his body and the friendly tone of his voice. His chin was up, his shoulders straight, his handshake was firm, and his eyes sparkled with sincere interest in everyone he spoke to.
Third, Paul Harvey was authentic. In person, some celebrities are phonies, something completely different than their public persona. Not Paul Harvey; he was the real deal. He was approachable and he treated everyone there as his equal, even though he was one of the most important celebrities ever to visit the town.
There wasn’t anything Paul Harvey did during that visit that you and I can’t do with a little practice. You and I can have the magnetic confidence of a Paul Harvey and that is what I will write about over the next few weeks in this column as I conclude the long-running series called, Acquire Confidence.
©2015 Ronald D. Ross