Better yet, knock 'em alive

Column by Michael Norton


I am sure that most of you, if not all of you, are all familiar with the statement, “Knock 'em dead.” It is usually given as a well-wish or send-off for someone about to give a performance or a speech.

Many years ago a good friend of mine, Bryan Flanagan, changed it a little so that it was more encouraging, and he enthusiastically says it this way, “Knock 'em alive!” The cool thing is that it has become more than just a well-wish or inspirational encouraging send-off, Bryan uses it many times as we say our goodbyes.

Many of you who know me personally or through this column are aware that I have stolen Bryan's line on more than one occasion. OK, maybe not stolen, but certainly borrowed. I just love the thought about leaving a person or an audience more inspired and motivated than they were before we spent our time together. I want to knock 'em alive!

There have been many times in my life where I was either dragging bottom or feeling low. Or maybe I was stuck or stalled, hitting a plateau and needed someone to come along and knock me alive. And I have to tell you that it felt and feels incredible when it happens.

Have you ever thought about it? Have you thought about what a person or group might feel like when you leave their presence? Wouldn't it be awesome if we could have that kind of impact on a person, group, or situation? I mean it's truly wonderful, especially when someone, anyone, brightens our day or leaves a positive impact that changes our moment, our hour, our day or even our week or month just by some gesture, kind word, or smile. They knock us alive.

The sentence is so obvious for a speaker or performer, no one really wants to knock their audience out, do they? No, we want them alive, responsive, cheering, and laughing or crying, or maybe even laughing so hard they are crying. In every situation we are looking for that spark, that reaction. And I think that is why I believe the way Bryan Flanagan changed the phrase is such a fitting and powerful way to say goodbye and not just to be used before someone goes on stage. Just imagine how much better each and every goodbye would be if we left one another with, “Knock 'em alive” after every encounter.

This is one of those simple things that we can all do that doesn't require us to be a motivational speaker, performer, or coach. We can just change one little thing that we do, add one tiny yet powerful statement to our communications, and we can make such a positive impact in our families, with our friends, in the community and who knows, maybe just maybe knocking 'em alive here in Colorado could lead to someone having an impact in other states and around the world. You just never know the power and reach that words can have.

I would love to hear all about how you plan to knock 'em alive at, and as we all make that effort it will certainly be a better than good week.

Michael Norton, a resident of Highlands Ranch, is the former president of the Zig Ziglar organization and CEO and founder of

michael norton, highlands ranch, colorado, zig ziglar


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