How to Be a Fly on the Wall

Did you ever wish you could be a fly on a wall, undetected but freely able to listen to people’s conversations so you’d know everything that was going on?


The closest I ever came was when I moved to Japan to teach high school English. I was instructed to run an immersion class, all in English, so I would chat in Japanese with other teachers in the staff lounge, but not when students were around, and never in English class.


In class I allowed students to use Japanese as needed to help each other with group activities. It was fun to walk around the classroom, monitoring progress, and see which groups were diligently working on the assignment even if using some Japanese, and which groups looked very studious, but were talking in Japanese about movies and baseball and anything but the assignment at hand.


“Have you found the answer to number three?” I’d ask a group in English, prompting some sheepish looks among the teammates.


“Um… still thinking, teacher,” inevitably came the reply.


I see…


At the end of the first semester, I opened the class in Japanese.


After a moment of stunned silence, one student finally asked, “Teacher, why didn’t you tell us you spoke Japanese?”


I shrugged with a smile. “You never asked.”


I’m not sure which of us learned more valuable lessons that semester!


One of my favorite television shows from a few years back offered similar “fly on the wall” learning opportunities in the business world.


It was called “Undercover Boss,” and presidents or CEOs from major corporations would wear a disguise and pose as a new employee at different stores or facilities in their company to identify which people, products and systems were — or weren’t — working well, through first-hand, unfiltered experience.


Oh, the stories they were able to tell when they were done!


And after producing dozens of these episodes, Damon D’Amore, one of the producers of Undercover Boss and other related shows, and founder of Legacy Mentor, has plenty of stories to tell of his own.



This week on the Speaking to Influence podcast, Damon shares some of the biggest leadership lessons he learned through working with all of those executives, and how he translates those lessons into helping C-level executives improve their performance and tell their story to stakeholders today.


Damon offers in-depth insights, strategies and tactics on

  • how to get better at the three core components of crisis leadership,
  • The difference between getting comfortable being uncomfortable and merely getting “out of your comfort zone”
  • making sure you know who your audience actually is and how you need to connect with them
  • knowing the three most important parts of a story, and
  • how to shift your mindset from being reactive to proactive.


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on Youtube here.


And of course, beware what you say – you never know who is listening!