How to Be an Irresistible Conversationalist and Make People Laugh More—-Guest Article by Anthony Moore

“The key to being a good conversationalist is probably a genuine unselfish interest in others. That, and practice.” -Frank Crane

In the Academy Award-winning picture The King’s Speech, there’s a scene where speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush) asks King George IV (Colin Firth), a chronic stammerer, “Do you know any jokes?

The king hesitates. “Eh…ehm…” he stammers. “T-timing isn’t my strong suit,” he laughs darkly.

A lot of people have a difficult time with conversations with strangers, even acquaintances. I know I do. As Cal Fussman once penned: “We all know the feeling of wanting to do something so well and so badly that we try too hard and can’t do it at all.”

20 years since speech therapy lessons in 3rd grade for my stuttering and stammering, I still find myself talking too fast. I mumble. I make jokes no one can hear, then laugh awkwardly to cover it up. People rarely laughed during conversations with me — they were busy trying to understand what I was even saying.

For a long time, I decided it’d be best if I said as little as possible when meeting strangers (plus, that way I could increase my “mysterious” factor).

But I’ve worked hard to become a better conversationalist. I find I can make people laugh easier than before. I might still stutter (still working on that) and I still have trouble pronouncing “remember” and “statistic.” But for the most part, I feel comfortable and calm in conversations.

Here’s what I’ve learned after 20 years of bungling conversations and still making people laugh.

Before, I Was Bored. Now, I Give All My Attention.

In the past, I’d gauge my interest in a person within seconds of meeting them. If I found them boring, uninteresting, or weird, I’d mentally decide, “This conversation will go nowhere. How can I get out of this?”

The truth is, people are hyper-sensitive to this rudeness. You can’t fake interest in a conversation without the other person knowing. You can always be polite and discuss topics more for the other’s benefit.

But if you want to be a great conversationalist, you can’t be rude. People know.

Instead of trying to extricate myself out of a conversation, I approach every conversation with intent and attention. I face my feet toward them (it’s a dead giveaway when your feet or facing away, you look like you’re ready to run). I look them in the eyes, and I give genuine eye contact and interest.

Frankly, I still get bored during some conversations. That’s bound to happen. But it’s no excuse to be rude. Entrepreneur Tim Ferriss put it this way: “Treat everyone like they can put you on the front page of the New York Times.”Someday, you just might run into that person.

I used to think there was always a more interesting person to talk to, so I would always be looking for an out, worried I’d miss it. Now, I don’t focus on what else is out there or let any feelings of FOMO dictate how I feel. As James Altucher once wrote: “I am where the party’s at.”

“People Pleasing is a Form of Assholery”

If your primary method of conversing involves flattery and pandering, you’re on track to be a bad conversationalist.

This was another crutch I used. In efforts to connect and bond, I’d just compliment the other person in every possible way, hoping they’d like me. But it was disingenuous. Looking back, most people noticed immediately, and I rarely made any real connections.

People don’t want empty praise or generic kudos, they respond to a real connection and honest conversation. As Emmy-nominated comedian Whitney Cummings once said of people-pleasing:

“You’re not pleasing anybody. You’re just making them resentful because you’re being disingenuous, and you’re also not giving them the dignity of their own experience. It’s patronizing.”

You’ve probably been guilty of over-flattering; we’ve all been there with our boss, our in-laws, a cute stranger. One time, I met Steve Forbes at a cocktail party and I was the most kiss-ass suck-up you’d ever seen. I doubt he remembered me despite my endless praise of him.

If you want to be a great conversationalist and create genuine laughs and connection: don’t flatter. Don’t pander. Be honest and frank.

There’s only one you, and that’s what will make people interested and attentive.

My One Strategy to Leave a Bad Conversation

Sometimes, you just need to leave the conversation — the person is rude, oblivious, maybe just incredibly chatty. These conversations are hard to leave once you get sucked in.

I learned the following strategy in counseling, of all places. I was in a group setting where we were all allowed a 2-minute slot to share, though many went over their time despite hearing the timer. As the timer went off for me, the lead counselor interrupted, “and on that note…” signaling to me that time was up. I was surprised and caught off-guard. But it worked.

I’ve used that strategy for myself, too. The other day, I was chatting with a new acquaintance who was very excited about penny stocks and the trading in the stock market. Despite my obvious stepping away, turning to leave, and other cues demonstrating I wanted to leave, he excitedly kept talking my ear off about selling short and studying market research.

“Great! And on that note, I gotta head to dinner!” I interrupted with a big smile. He apologized and said goodbye. He wasn’t trying to be rude; he was just oblivious.

This is true for most people who talk a lot — they rarely intend to be rude or selfish, they just get caught up in their own world. That’s another important lesson I learned: most talkative folks respond well to a polite interruption saying you need to go somewhere else.

Don’t patronize a chatty talker (and resent them for not shutting up) — communicate your need to leave, and they’ll usually respond well.

How to Activate Extreme Self-Confidence and Destroy Chronic Anxiety and Fear

“All confidence is acquired, developed. No one is born with confidence. Those people you know who radiate confidence, who have conquered worry, have acquired their confidence, every bit of it.” -Dr. David Schwartz, The Magic of Thinking Big

A lot of people struggle with self-confidence and self-belief. When you lack these traits, you express that lack in other ways, like needing others to “choose” and like you. This is a foundation for mediocre conversation, all the time.

It was for me. Growing up, I had virtually no self-confidence (especially not in my speaking ability). I had this constant need to be liked and chosen, and it came off as desperate and awkward. I was so busy trying to get you to like me, I was never myself.

If you can relate, I had good news for you: all confidence is developed.

No one is simply born with enormous, unshakeable confidence. You can develop and build your self-confidence over time, which will become apparent in conversations and your ability to make people laugh and smile. But it’s a rare trait. If you decide to become one of the few who develops this, your conversational skills will improve immensely.

Some easy strategies to start with:

  • Start acting and speaking like successful speakers
  • Act even while you feel fear (do it anyway)
  • Seek problems out and prove to yourself that you’re capable
  • Start looking people in the eye whenever you speak with them (an uncomfortable but incredibly effective practice)
  • Open the front of your body. Hunched shoulders and a closed solar plexus inhibit confidence. Take deep belly-breaths, widen your shoulders, and raise your chin in conversation)

There’s no end to developing your confidence. Remember, the best speakers, the most clever conversationalists, and most confident individuals learned those skills over time. You can, too.

2019 Private Markets Due Diligence Survey – Findings Report

Insights into the key factors influencing one of the most critical junctures between investors and fund managers—Released May 2019 by eVestment


Due diligence remains the foundation for investors looking to build quality portfolio and generate above market returns. It is arguably the point at which investors have greatest influence on the outcome of their commitments and an area we have observed an increased focus on in recent years. Consequently, due diligence is one of the most important junctures between investors and fund managers and a crucial part in forming and building successful, long-term relationships for both parties. This is why eVestment Private Markets conducts the only annual
industry survey specifically focused on the key elements of the due diligence process from the investor, consultant and fund manager
perspectives. This year, we’re pleased to present you with the fourth edition of our report in association with Nasdaq, the parent company of eVestment. With a renewed set of questions and topics explored for 2019, the survey continues to uncover the emerging factors impacting
fundraising, performance analytics and manager selection.

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Key Findings

Returns expected to decline, but respondents see some specific opportunities. Respondents’ greatest concerns for the future
of private markets were identified as having a generally negative impact on returns, with more than 40% of investors expecting a decline in
performance for both existing and prospective investments.

When investigated by sub-asset class, the weight of opinion was against private equity, venture capital and real estate. Real assets and infrastructure were strategies that investors were most bullish on. Competition for deals is the number one concern for both investors and fund managers. Investor and manager respondents both voiced their highest level of concern about competition for deals, with investors indicating a stronger level of concern. This topic was only rated the fourth highest concern in our 2018 survey, but climbed to top this year’s survey — potentially as investors and managers begin to realize the effect of record fundraising levels flooding the market with available capital and an ever-growing list of fund managers chasing the same assets.

Close to two-thirds of investors and fund managers expect a market correction within the next two years. The prospect of a market correction was a top three concern for both investors and fund managers, and the majority of both groups reported it would be within the next two years. While investors indicated this would lead to an increased focus on monitoring their portfolio, fund managers saw the biggest impact on the timing of exits. Fund managers underestimate the importance of metrics and analytics during due diligence. In terms of specific elements of the due diligence process, it was clear that fund managers underestimate the importance investors place on key pieces of analysis such as loss ratios,

PME and the impact of fees. A new element uncovered this year was the growing importance of calculating horizon-based returns — perhaps
in an effort to better assess private market performance alongside other asset classes as allocations grow in size and the strategy evolves
from alternative to mainstream.

See full report:

Hedge Funds Confront Continued Outflows Despite Improving Performance

In a classic case of situational irony, Hedge Funds notched their fourth consecutive quarter of outflows in Q1 of this year with $22.1B in assets leaving the space, despite a level of performance that more than offset the net outflows, and resulted in industry growth of 3.3%. The industry now stands at AUM of $3.56T. This according to our friends at industry leading data provider Preqin.

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To investors fleeing an ever improving industry, we liken this to fleeing a water balloon fight only to fall in and drown in your neighbor’s pool.
In short, the hedge fund industry has been posting the best numbers YTD since 2012. Whether it be Managed Futures, Macro, Quants, Event Driven, Equity or any derivative form of these strategies, you would have been green this year after fees. So we continue to find it baffling as to why raising capital remains such a challenge in the industry, as clearly to there is a great story to tell and sell.
Highlights from the Peqin Report:
  • In the face of net outflows, 37% of credit strategies recorded inflows, accounting for
    $6.6B of the quarter’s inflows.
  •  Both credit & macro strategies had positive capital flow for the quarter
  • Equity strategies suffered the most with outflows of $9.9B. This in spite of +7.18% return for the quarter.
  • Oustide the US funds recorded postive inflows wiht Europe weighing in at +$2.7B and the rest of the world at +$8.1B.
  • Long term performance remains the key indicator of a fund’s ability to attract new capital Over the last 3 years 44% of funds with returns 5% or better experienced postitve inflows as opposed to only 17% of funds with less than 5% returns.
  • The industry as whole had a +3.3% change in AUM since Dec of 2018, with the each strategy showing net increases of:
    • CTA’s 0.1%
    • Credit 4.9%
    • Equity 6.5%
    • Event 2.3%
    • Macro 2.6%
    • Multi Strat 1.7%
    • Niche 0.9%Relative Value 1.7%




Goldman Buys United Capital in Move That Validates the RIA Biz

Once considered an upstart business model in the wealth management space, the RIA industry can now openly tout the ultimate of ultimate endorsements. With the sale of United Capital to the creme de la creme of wealth managers, Goldman Sachs, the RIA model is now front in center as an integral cog in the wheel of any firm that is building out a full fledged, end to end wealth management biz.

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Goldman is paying $750m in cash for United, which has $25B AUM, $230M in revenue and about 100 offices. United also owns the FinLife CX digital platform and financial planning software tool.
“The primary reason Goldman did the deal was to grow and expand its reach” in the mass-affluent market, says Duran, who will personally reap at least $75 million in the deal for his stake in the company, which he says is between 11% and 19%.
Duran will become a Goldman MD, while remaining the CEO of United. He will report to Tucker York, the long time, and highly regarded head of Goldman’s wealth biz.
Will be interesting to watch the integration.

Sales Lessons 101 From a Homeless Guy…. Guest Article by Daniel Bourke


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Because I’m nice?

Because I’m tired?

Because I’m travelling alone and felt like a little conversational companionship?

A combination of the above maybe but they’re not the real reason.

It’s because he put the hard sell on me.

$8.50 is nothing in the grand scheme of things. I’m sitting in a flash restaurant writing this, the kind where people wear their nice shirts and say things like, ‘I’ve been so busy lately!’, then spend 6-hours sipping $15 drinks.

I’ve been here for 3-hours (4-hours now) ordering food to chew up time. I do not fit in. I’m wearing shorts and sneakers and have my bag of crap with me. My bill will be 5–6x what I gave the homeless guy.

The front of the restaurant was a little dirty and dark. It didn’t look open so I hesitated to walk in. That’s when he struck.

‘Excuse me sir, how are you doing today?’

I was already facing him.

‘I’m doing great thank you, how are you?’

‘You look it! And let me ask, did your parents raise you well?’ He spoke through his toothless front gums.

‘They did, I’m very lucky.’

‘I can tell because you stopped to say hello to someone below you.’

‘No one is below me.’

His skin was darker than mine.

‘And I can tell you’re not a racist because you’re talking to me.’

This I didn’t care about. I talk to anyone the same. But the first two lines are what you should pay attention to.

Within 15-seconds of meeting me, he complimented me, twice. Once directly and once indirectly.

Directly by saying I looked great and indirectly by asking if my parents raised me well. They did.

‘Sir, my name is Thomas James.’ (Changed name)

‘I’m Daniel.’

‘Nice to meet you, Daniel,’ he said ‘now I’m looking for someone like you to help me.’

I kept listening.

‘Are you hungry, Daniel?’

‘I am.’

‘Well me too, and I’m looking to fill my tummy with some hot wings down the street.’

I half thought about saying let’s go and get them together. But I didn’t. He kept going.

‘I can get me a serving for $8.50, would you be able to help me out with that?’

‘$8.50 hey?’

Notice the very specific amount.

‘Yes sir, I’m going to get me some wings, fill my belly and go over under the bridge to sleep,’ he was smiling, ‘oh man, I can’t wait!’

‘Where are the wings?’

‘Down there on the corner.’

I walked closer to the street to get a better look.

‘Where you from, Daniel?’

Making the conversation about me.


‘Australia, how you liking Cleveland?’

‘I just got here today.’

‘Well I been here close to 49-years, it’s my birthday soon,’ he was enthusiastic, ‘I’ve got holes in my shoes but I’m hoping to get myself some warm socks soon.’

Letting me know a little bit more of his story.

‘Okay, let me see what cash I have.’

I had $8 in my pocket, a five and three ones. I’d been carrying it around for the past few days. I’m a card operator. Cash is rare in my world. I pulled it out and handed it to him.

‘Daniel, you’re the best. This is incredible. I’m nearly going to have a full tummy tonight, all I need to do is find $0.50 more.’

$0.50 sounds like not much more on top of $8 but it’s 6.25%.

I knew I had $0.50 in coins somewhere. I fumbled through my wallet and handed him the extra two quarters.

‘Oh wait, I think the chicken was $9.50.’

The only slip up he made.

‘No, no, you said $8.50, have a good night.’

‘Bless you Daniel.’

Who knows where he’s going to spend the money. Food, cigarettes, new socks. I hope he gets the wings but I don’t care, it’s his now.

What can we learn from Thomas James?

A) Make it about the other person

When he started the conversation he made it about me.

‘Were you raised well?’

‘Are you hungry, Daniel?’

As it turns out, I was raised well. And I was hungry. Walking into the restaurant probably gave it away.

He appealed to my interests first, not his own.

If you want to get someone on your side, make the conversation about them.

How does this help sales? It helps because you’re far more likely to buy something from someone you like than someone you don’t.

Thomas got me on his side.

B) Be specific

You’ve seen the signs homeless people hold before.

With writings like any loose change?’, and there’s a cup out front.

People don’t understand vague ranges very well.

Any loose change is vague.

It’s the same problem as when you go to an ice-cream store and can’t choose a flavour. You’d think so many options would be a good thing. But too many choices and you end up with none.

Thomas James didn’t ask for any loose change. He asked for a very specific amount. $8.50 for chicken wings.

This means instead of having to think through all the different amounts of money I possibly had on me, all I had to do was think about $8.50.

This is what Apple does very well. When Steve Jobs returned in 1997, his first mission was to reduce the number of product lines from 21 to 2. Less but better. You know what happened next.

If you want someone to help someone make a decision (like buying something from you), reduce their number of options.

C) The little bit extra

I could’ve handed him the $8 and left it. Close enough.

Then he hit me with the upsell.

‘Now I only need $0.50 more to fill my tummy.’

If he didn’t say this, I would’ve walked off.

An extra 6.25% doesn’t sound like much. And it isn’t on individual transactions. But over the long run it adds up.

A $100,000 investment with a compounding interest rate of 6.25% turns into $183,000 after 10-years.

The upsell philosophy happens a lot at car dealerships. When you’re buying a $20,000 car, dropping $1,000 more on some extras doesn’t sound too bad for you but it’s great for the car dealership. Why? Because they make 10% profit on the car but 80% on the extras.

Homeless people have to be good salespeople. They have to sell for survival. Or drugs. Have you ever seen an addict go without a hit? It’s not a good time.

I could be over analysing this. Maybe I needed a reason to justify giving $8.50 to Mr James. Maybe I’m too easy. I gave Ink Stain $5 in San Francisco he was writing his first book and wanted to get it published, I said he should try Medium.

But I like to think Thomas is warm under a bridge with a stomach full of wings. And after reading this you’re a little better at sales.

After Thomas walked off, I walked inside, sat down and ordered myself a plate of wings. They were $12.

I didn’t book accommodation tonight. I’m catching a train across the country at 2 am. Maybe I’ll be the one under a bridge with a stomach full of wings.

Or maybe I’ll use Thomas’s tricks to convince the bar to let me stay until they close. We’ll see.

It’s Not What You Know, It’s How You Think >>> Guest Article by Zat Rana

Late historians Will and Ariel Durant spent four decades of their lives studying, compiling, and writing the history of Western civilization. The product of their efforts, The Complete Story of Civilization, went on to span several million words across more than 8,800 pages divided into 11 books.

After finishing the last one, they took on an arguably more daunting task: to summarize all they had learned into 100 pages in The Lessons of History. It’s an incomplete and generalizing attempt, no doubt, but it is also one of the most densely packed sources of modern wisdom available to us.

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How we think affects everything from our ability to solve problems to how we understand meaning, value, and purpose.
There are many trends and patterns to be found in the past, and the Durants do a commendable job of highlighting them. The essence of their view, however, can be summarized by the following sentence from their short book:

The only real revolution is in the enlightenment of the mind and the improvement of character, the only real emancipation is individual, and the only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.
The Durants believed that despite all that has and continues to change in our external environment, the real battle is still internal. Real change doesn’t happen until we face our minds and our thoughts.

There is a fair degree of nuance that needs to be accounted for with a statement like that, and it ties into larger questions of what progress is and how subjects relate to objects, but the fact that our thoughts — and their ability to change our minds — play a pivotal role in our experience of reality is self-evident in ways that are common sense. How we think affects everything from our ability to solve problems to how we understand meaning, value, and purpose. The Durants made it their life’s work to improve this ability in the average person by disseminating information — mostly history and philosophy.

But information alone doesn’t make our thinking better. We also have to understand and update the way our minds process this information.

Our Minds Get Stuck in Habit Loops
Based on popular psychology literature, some thinkers have codified the way we form habits into a simple loop: a trigger, a routine, and a reward. We see something in our environment that sets off the trigger; the trigger leads to a routine we’ve internalized based on our past interactions in such an environment; finally, a reward at the end reinforces said routine.

If you observe this in your daily life, you’ll see that it’s roughly right. Our brain is a pattern-seeking survival machine, and habits are how it ensures that we don’t have to think too hard about what to do when familiar situations arise, letting us conserve energy.

With time, we start to recognize patterns around us, and we internalize these patterns so that we can reuse them in the future.
When it comes to the human mind, there are still no concrete theories of how thought emerges. We know, however, that thought plays a pivotal role in facilitating how we interact with the information that the Durants, for example, were trying to impart on us.

In the same way that we form habits of action relating to our environment, we also form habits of thought when it comes to how we think about the world. We are all born into a reality in which — at first, at least — we can’t even distinguish between our own separateness from the world. With time, however, we start to recognize patterns around us, and we internalize these patterns — like we do habits — so that we can reuse them in the future. Usually, if a pattern persists in our mental habits, it means that it is valuable in some sense. But this is only the case if we apply that pattern to the right information.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to change our minds about things is that our brains are stuck in these mental habit loops, which tend to look at information from a singular point of view. Our brains have learned something in one context, so they mistakenly apply it to others, mixing up the triggers that lead to routine thoughts.

We’re all capable of overpowering these habit loops, of course, but it’s very easy and productive to have them operating as the default mode. To think well, we must be aware of their limitations and to not let them restrict us.

Diversifying Thinking Patterns Changes Us
Each of us faces different challenges at different times in different ways based both on our biology and our unique cultural upbringing. No two people think exactly the same way because no two people have lived exactly the same life.

In fact, these different thinking patterns (mostly produced from our mental habit loops) are, in large part, what makes you, you and me, me. Our identities are borne from the convergence of these patterns. They create our subjective experience.

The more diverse our trained thinking patterns are, the more accurately we will be able to interact with information around us.
The Durants are getting at the idea that although we’ve seen so much external change throughout history, none of it truly makes a difference unless we calibrate our internal, subjective experience with that objective, external environment. Our subjective experience is limited, and using it — and the thinking patterns that create it — as a baseline for understanding the world is a limited way to go through life. It biases us in the wrong direction.

At its core, a thinking pattern is an implicit rule of thumb for the way we connect aspects of our reality. Given the complexity of this reality, the more diverse our trained thinking patterns are — and the better refined the associated triggers are — the more accurately we will be able to interact with information around us.

Because thinking patterns emerge from the mental habit loops we form as a response to experience, the only way to diversify them is to seek out new and conflicting encounters. We can do this through books, unfamiliar environments, or even hypothetical thought games.

Outside of extreme external circumstances, any time we’re struggling to solve a problem or lacking a sense of satisfaction and meaning, it’s due to the fact that our current thinking patterns are not adequately suited for the job. Instead, we have to remodel the form and shape of these patterns so they better fit the form and shape of the issue at hand.

How We Think Is What Matters
We’re born with a set of biological machinery, but we’re not born knowing how to use it.

As time goes on, however, we begin to make sense of our reality. We realize what kinds of food are good for us, we learn to avoid things that are painful, and we begin to get attached to those who can take care of us. With even more time, we develop fully concrete distinctions between the different objects around us and how we, as subjects, are to interact with them.

What keeps this process going is our pattern-seeking brain. It forms both habits of action and habits of thought that it embeds into our conscious and subconscious memories to reduce cognitive load.

One of the problems with this, however, is that it’s really easy for us to become stuck in mental habit loops that don’t accurately assess the situation at hand, leading to both problems of comprehension and satisfaction. To counteract this, we have to be intentional in diversifying our thinking patterns. We have to learn to recognize when we’re falling into a mismatched pattern of thought, and we have to then use that information to update how we make connections between the objects in our environment.

To say that all issues can be solved with a shift in thinking patterns ignores the larger picture, but there is a truth to what the Durants learned from history — how we think about what is happening around us is arguably more important than what is actually happening around us.


Updates From the Other Hedge Fund Conference This Past Week. Ideas From Sohn

Although lacking the glitz and pizzazz that SALT has, the Sohn Conference is an outstanding hedge fund event and takes second place to no one. It brings in some of the best trade ideas the industry’s elite has to offer, while supporting a great cause by raising funds to support research to eradicate pediatric cancer and other childhood diseases.

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Hedgie bigs there included Larry Robbins, Bihua Chen, Dan Sundheim, Jeff Gundlach, Scott Goodwin and a host of others.

Known for his insights into the turbulence of daily life, Gundlach told the Lincoln Center gathering, “Respect everyone. Know life is unfair. Take risk. Step up in the tough times. Face down bullies. Lift the downtrodden,” “And never, ever give up.”

Other hedge fund managers that spoke included David Einhorn who said he was wagering on AerCap while betting against GATX. Larry Robbins, quite literally an expert in trading health care stocks said he thought hospital systems were good investments as a whole. Cohen protegee, Gabe Plotkin said the environment for stocks was “pretty good”.

Have always felt the Sohn Conference attracted the best with the best ideas, no different this year.