I find normal conversations pretty boring, its just that its the same getting-to-know-you fluff. I want to get straight to saying and talking about what’s interesting, however, this leads to breaking rapport and sometimes people will think you’re weird.
So an easy way to keep the conversation congruent and I don’t know why I never realized this, is to tell the person you’re conversing with of any anticipated breaks in rapport. Basically, tell them ahead of time if you’re going to act a little different from the norm.
Say you’re at a networking event. The question you answer most is “What do you do?”. Say your ideal answer is something elaborate like:
I help tech excutives that are focused on company growth fine tune their project management, and work with their UX/UI team to make their product more scalable.
If you said this, it would sound scripted. So instead of cutting this short, all you have to do is tell them beforehand that you’ll tell them your spiel.
Them: What do you do?
You: Okay, let me give you the whole spiel. I help...
I went to get lunch with Sebastian Marshall and a couple of his friends. I walked to the table and sat down and after brief greetings, Sebastian asked, “What do you want to talk about today? What problems do you want to tackle today?"
I replied, “Oh I wanted to see what you’re working on and chat bout some concepts from Gateless (his new book)”. This is a pretty typical conversational answer.
Sebastian replied, “Yeah we can…but that’s kinda boring, I’ve talked about Gateless a lot. We have a really smart group here and I want to spend time working on each other’s problems. Personally, I’m trying to figure out the most optimal way of choosing projects”.
What Sebastian did is setup the tone for the rest of the lunch at the very start. If he didn’t say this at the beginning and in the middle of the lunch try to move the conversation toward that topic, it might have taken too much inertia to change.
One more example:
When you meet someone and you think there’s potential business opportunities, you want to task them questions to identify their goals and understand their issues (this is basic sales).
The awkward way of doing this (and I’ve done this a lot before) is to jump straight into problem identification questions.
Them: So it was because of that event that showed me how important partnerships are and that’s how I started this collective.
Me: Oh cool, so what do you do for marketing?
You: Why do you think your content marketing didn’t work?
You: Have you considered making instructional videos? What’s your conversion numbers?
Them: *thinks I’m probably trying to sell him something*
At this point they’re probably thinking, why is this guy asking me all these questions?
The congruent way if you want transition from a get-to-know-you convo to starting a sales dialogue is to tell them beforehand. And no, I don’t me directly saying “Hey, I want to start a sales convo with you”, but instead, “Hey, do you mind if I ask you a few questions (about your marketing) to see if I can help?"
Setup statements really help smooth out your conversations and helps you stay interested without looking weird. So try them out in all your conversations. Things like “hey, I’m into philosophy, so I tend to ask people deeper questions about life” works well. And my personal favorite, “I’m a big fan of Kanye West…so I might mention him a lot”.
The amount of business specific projects we can work on is already a lot, let alone widening the scope to the amount of things we want to work on in our lives. With so many things, how can we choose the ones most impactful?
Well let’s start with what not to do. What we shouldn’t do is sit back and not care because with this approach we’ll just end up with life controlling us instead of the other way around.
A widely known universal truth is “balance is the key to life”, and I think that piece of wisdom is a good place to start. In a general sense there are four areas in our lives that we are constantly balancing: health, relational, spiritual, and financial. You could get deeper into categorizing these areas, for example, relational can be categorized into family, friends, acquaintances, romance etc. But I’m not going to get into that.
Basically, a holistic life includes a balance of the four areas, and an average person can do well setting an equilibrium of 25% health, 25% relational, 25% spiritual, and 25% financial. Of course in the real world no one has it balanced like this, and definitely not all the time. I think, as we’re choosing what projects to work on, we should be keenly aware of what areas of life we want to work on first and be deliberate about skewing the percentage of that area higher than other areas.
So, for a while I was in finance mode, and really just heads-down carrying out tasks day after day to try to get business moving forward. Then I read Gateless by Sebastian Marshall where he says there’s no difference between biology and cognition. At the same time I was really interested in biohacking and following Dave Asprey’s Bulletproof stuff. So I deliberately skewed back on working on finances and skewed up on health knowing that if I increased my health I would increase my productivity in the long term leading to more finances.
A few notes --
1. Kai and I co-authored a book a while back. It’s basically done. I still keep wanting to do tweaks and edits, but I’ve got to send this baby off into the world. We’ve had some great early reviewers of which I’m grateful. Now, if you'd like to be involved, here's a good opportunity --
We’d like to have 15 small samples of the book get sent to people when they sign up via email.
I’ve been trying to do this, but I’m too close to the work — I can’t tell which samples/excerpts would be most interesting and relevant to people, in the right order.
So, if you’re interested, you get an advance copy, you read it, you get any questions answered you want, you pick out 15 sections that you think are relevant, you format them into Mailchimp. Pay is $100 for it.