7 Psychological Superpowers Few People Have (That You Can Use to Set Yourself Apart)

“Tell me where I’m going to die so I never go there.”

The sentence above describes a superpower few people have. It’s one I’ve only been able to exercise ten percent of the time, but that ten percent creates most of the positive results I get in my life.

What’s the superpower? Restraint.

Successhappiness, or whatever word you use to articulate what you want, often involves what you don’t do.

Also, restraint from one action can be a springboard to a more useful one, e.g., talking to listening.

We live in an unrestrained world. It’s getting louder, angrier, more chaotic and pretentious.

Which is why it’s the perfect time for you to behave in the exact opposite fashion and wield these superpowers few people have.

Hide Your Intelligence

“A know-it-all is a person who knows everything except for how annoying he is.” — Demitri Martin

If you’re a smart person, you might have the tendency to want to show it off.

You want people to know you’re smart. While there’s nothing wrong with displaying your intelligence, the costs for showing it off too much are high. People don’t like being corrected. Also, they don’t want a mirror reflected on their own inadequacy.

If you’re in a work setting, follow one of Robert Greene’s 48 laws of power — never outshine the master. Showing up your boss is a surefire way to make the relationship contentious (even if only subtly).

Showing people up in general means you lack an important type of intelligence — social intelligence.

If you had social intelligence, you’d know that letting other people take the spotlight makes them feel important. And they’d connect that feeling of importance with being around you.

Also, paraphrasing Greene again, it’s much more clever to resist the urge to display your cleverness (move in silence…let people think you’re less intelligent than you are).

It’s difficult for me. I’m tempted to correct people when I hear them say something incorrect. I love talking about all the things I know. But, at times, I’ll catch myself and realize that nobody really wants to know how smart I am. They want to know how I can play a role in their life that benefits them.

It’s almost always better to understate your intelligence than overstate it.

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Resist Group Think

Madness is rare in individuals — but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. — Friedrich Nietzsche

We lie to ourselves a lot. One of the main lies we tell ourselves? We think we’re open-minded. On the whole, we’re not.

You’ve cobbled together an identity based on narratives. You tell yourself stories constantly and the ones you repeat often become part of your personality. You’re also prone to adopt narratives based on groups you belong to. You do this because human beings are naturally tribal animals.

The problem with this occurs when you’re unable to even hold views that deviate from your group’s list of stances. This is what you see in the political sphere right now — no one’s budging.

If you’re able to form your own worldview — a legitimate one should contain elements of contradictory philosophies — you’ll have the benefit of not being a crazy person participating in mud slinging contests.

It’s pretty much impossible to form an original worldview because you have to form it by picking up established narratives (unless you’re a truly original thinker, which you’re not). Just knowing how difficult it is to form untainted beliefs gives you the humility to second guess your own opinions.

The end goal? Be able to say that you’ve put thought into which components of group narratives you decided to adopt. And then, stay out of the herd altogether.

You’re going to have to sit on the sidelines while everyone else bickers. Don’t even participate in the discourse. Improve your life.

At the end of the day, most of what happens in your life can be seen and shaped through the lens of your individuality. No matter what group you belong to, the experiences, memories, and emotions you have are unique to you. And, you can only genuinely look to yourself to reshape any of the above.

Stop Caring What People Think About You

“You want praise from people who kick themselves every fifteen minutes, the approval of people who despise themselves.” — Marcus Aurelius

You want to know a great trick for letting go of other people’s opinions? Read a book about space or watch a Youtube video about it. Right now, I’m reading Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

Here’s a passage from it:

“Our sun is just one of the one hundred thousand million stars that make up our galaxy the Milky Way. The Milky Way is only one of the many galaxies in the local group. The local group, in turn, is just one of the thousands of groups and clusters of galaxies which form the largest known structures of our universe.”

Now think of your place in that universe. Why so preoccupied about ‘what will happen’ or ‘what others’ will think when you’re already essentially dead? Because human beings are the only known species arrogant enough to place themselves at the center of the universe.


Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I do it. You do it. The less it’s done, though, the freer you are. That’s the thing about freedom — it’s often a consequence of what you don’t do. Once you decide to stop caring so much, it’ll allow you to do what you want.

Are you going to let other people — infinitesimal pieces of existence in the expanse of the universe — stop you from living your life the way you want to live it?

Stop Placing Blame Altogether

“If it’s in your control, why do you do it? If it’s in someone else’s control, then who are you blaming? Atoms? The gods? Stupid either way. Blame no one.” — Marcus Aurelius

This is about taking ownership of your mind.

If you don’t own your mind, someone else or circumstance will. Owning your reactions to what happens to you gives you a source of power no one can corrupt.

Like most of us, I get angry when someone slights me or treats me unfairly. When situations don’t go the way I want them to, I begin feeling sorry for myself. If I’m lucky, I catch myself and focus on the role I played in the situation.

You’ve heard this before. It’s so cliche. Why add personal responsibility to this list?

Because it’s really really hard and goes against our nature.

Also, there are times where the blame should be placed somewhere other than on yourself, but it’s often fruitless.

Sure, you might be able to convince the person you blamed they’re wrong, but at what cost? To what degree did each of you play in the situation (your apt to take more percentage of the victim category than you should)?

You might be able to bend the universe to your will and make the circumstances around you better — as opposed to just being better — but, again at what cost?

In my life, at least, I’ve seen that forgoing the blame game is a net positive ninety-nine percent of the time. Does that mean I always accept responsibility instantly? Hell no, but being able to do it even some of the time goes a long way.

Stop “Waiting to Talk”

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey

Have you ever been in a conversation where it’s clear no one is listening? Each person talks and the others are waiting for a millisecond of silence to jump in.

This entire post has been about dialing back your tendencies. Why is that important? When you’re a little more restrained in your actions and your thoughts, you become a better observer.

When you become a better observer, you realize that you can get further ahead by doing less. It’s not easy to put that idea together at first — less outward activity equaling better results — but it’s true.

If you let other people talk, listen to them, and give up your need to jump into the conversation right away, everyone will love you. People love to talk. Let them.

While they talk, listen. If you really listen, they’ll give you all the information you want to know — their hopes, fears, desires, needs, likes, dislikes. Just sit there while they ‘spill the tea.’

Then, you can do little things that make them feel like you’re a great conversationalist and someone they can trust, even if you barely talk — repeat what they said back to them, ask them a question that makes them continue to talk, genuinely highlight when they bring something up you have in common.

You can use this technique in a real conversation or the conversation — the zeitgeist, blogs, and social media. Don’t jump in the debate. Watch it while everyone reveals their cards.

Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash

Stop Letting Your Desires Pull You in Every Direction

“Those who act with few desires are calm, without worry or fear.” — Buddha

Books like Think and Grow Rich teach you to have an ultimate desire for wealth to get it.

If you like to read about business and self-improvement like me, you see Facebook ads on “how to start a six-figure business in real estate” or whatever.

Ambition can be good and necessary. It can also be poisonous. When I focus too much on results — output — writing becomes less fun. It starts to feel like work. When I write what I think you want to read and start to pander because of a desire for clicks, the work suffers.

Every time I do something I don’t really want to do because I think it will help me get something I desire, I feel bad, misaligned, incongruent.

The only times I’ve ever succeeded and felt good were bi-products of doing the work I enjoyed doing.

How about you? What status games are you playing right now? What objects and circumstances are you lusting over? Are you being controlled by a desire for the output or the need to do the input?

I have to remind myself constantly that I can be happy with what I have this second. And, even if my life gets better outwardly, I’ll adjust to it quickly and begin running on the hamster wheel all over again. Better to just do the things I love, right now, and forget about the future.

Stop Taking Everything So Seriously

“Outrage is like a lot of other things that feel good but over time devour us from the inside out. And it’s even more insidious than most vices because we don’t even consciously acknowledge that it’s a pleasure.” — Tim Kreider

Imagine a society where everyone tended to their own well-being firstbefore shouting into the sky about the government or what’s on the news?

What if we stopped watching the news altogether? If we did that, we’d realize — while things are nowhere near perfect — the sky isn’t falling. It isn’t. It isn’t.

You can probably see this in your own life. The things we tend to take seriously at a high level, e.g., will we go to war with ‘x’ (there’s always an x), have little to do with what’s going on at the ground level, otherwise known as our actual life.

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

I stopped reading the news and going on Twitter all the time. It’s not real life. I realized I was getting riled up over nothing. Also, even if the situations were as dire as I thought, my tweets weren’t going to fix the situation.

All the while there were plenty of things in my own life that needed tending to.

Get out of the outrage, ‘if it bleeds it leads’, machine right now. It’s not worth your sanity.

Then, even in your own life, try to stop taking everything so seriously. Focus on your career, but don’t make your career your life. Be prudent, save, budget, but don’t become a worry wart.

Spend time with your friends and family without worrying much about anything beyond them.

I’ve said this many times. From the perspective of the universe, you’re dead. Clutching on the steering wheel of life gives you the illusion you have control. You don’t, really.

Just live.

5 Simple Ways To Boost Your Focus Today…Guest Article by Jari Roomer

Focus Booster #1: Remove All Possible Distractions Beforehand

Focus Booster #2: Have Clear Daily Goals or Targets

Focus Booster #3: Seek More Simplicity and Minimalism In Your Work

Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

Focus Booster #4: Use The Pomodoro Technique

Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Focus Booster #5: Apply Parkinson’s Law

The psychological effect of Parkinson’s Law

Now Do It

Risch Group Weighs In On Best Methods For Conducting An Effective Job Search

6 Ways to Conduct an Effective Executive Job Search–republished from Hunt Scanlon Media

Jobs are plentiful – but landing a new one demands that would-be candidates apply a structured, sustained use of networking, direct outreach and executive recruitment firms. Nine leading recruiters weigh in. In today’s dynamic and competitive job market, the elements of an effective executive-level job search are very different than what may be utilized for non-executive roles.

A new report by Rob Croner, vice president of senior executive services at CCI Consulting, explores channels of activity that drive any effective professional job search.

“It can be seductive to spend time on job boards responding to advertised openings — but this is a low probability exercise,” Mr. Croner said. “The three channels of activity that drive any effective professional job search are networking, targeted direct outreach and executive search firms.”

“Actively working all three channels through specific and sustained activity yields the best results,” he said. “This is especially true for an executive-level search as the level of competition is intense, and there are fewer opportunities at this level than at lower levels.”

1. Getting started.

An effective job search begins with a realistic assessment of skills, background, and experiences to define the value proposition that you bring to the market. “With a realistic assessment of yourself, the next step is to define the range of industries, organizations and roles that have a need for your unique combination of skills and experiences, and in which you would likely bring value,” said Mr. Croner. “Resume, biography and social media accounts (i.e. LinkedIn) are then created, or updated, to reflect and highlight your relevant background and experience as they relate to the industry, function and/or opportunity you are trying to secure.”

2. Limit the time spent on job posting websites.

Most people spend way too much time trolling around job posting websites, but this is usually a time waster that does not yield success unless coupled with other more active efforts. “Online postings typically generate hundreds of eager and well-qualified responses,” Mr. Croner said. “However, the typical applicant tracking system uses algorithms to filter the pool of applicants so only a select few are ever seen by the people involved in the hiring process. It’s a very efficient process for the hiring company but it is unrealistic to expect a positive outcome if an individual is passive and simply waits for opportunities to present themselves.”

3. Spend a lot of time networking.

Mr. Croner explains that the most important factor in an executive-level job search is the sustained effort to secure introductions, conversations and interviews with individuals and organizations who might have a need for your skills. “Networking involves a pragmatic approach to identifying and connecting with people who can provide information, insight or connections that bridge to potential opportunities,” he said.

“Effective networking requires an investment of time and commitment to follow-up and follow-through on potential leads even though many will not directly result in a job. Some conversations yield valuable information or connect directly to a specific immediate opportunity while other networking conversations lead to connections with new networking contacts. Be patient and maintain the effort.”

While networking often starts with those who are close, it should expand as a job seeker stays connected with their personal network. The expectation is that the broader group will then provide additional insight and connections within the industry or with specific organizations or opportunities.

4. Do targeted direct outreach.

While networking seeks to leverage the strengths of personal relationships, business connections and social interactions, direct outreach involves proactive outreach to targeted organizations and individuals without the benefit of prior relationship or a network referral. Direct outreach is as simple as connecting with a targeted individual to see if they would be receptive to an initial conversation to explore the possibility of mutual interest.

“There are two things that make direct outreach effective,” said Mr. Croner. “One is targeting so there is a clear and obvious connection between your skills and background and the potential needs of the organization. The more alignment, the more likely there will be a positive response to the direct outreach.”

“The second key to successful direct outreach is the breadth and depth of the outreach. In terms of breadth, there needs to be enough activity to generate a positive result,” he said. “If someone only reaches out to two organizations, they would need a 50 percent response rate to secure one follow-up. If that same individual reached out to 10 organizations, a 10 percent response rate would yield a meeting. Extend that to 100 organizations and apply the same math, and it could result in 10 follow-up meetings.”

“Successful direct outreach requires appropriate follow-up to help increase the odds of a positive response. If a job seeker sends a single email to a busy executive, it is not likely they will hear back,” Mr. Croner said. “If on the other hand, they send a follow-up email a few days later or they reach out by phone as well, the odds of contact and conversation are greatly increased.”

5. Tap into executive search firms. 

Many executive-level roles are filled through executive retained search. The larger and more visible the role, the more likely it is an organization will hire a search firm to manage the process. “To be considered as a candidate for these roles, the job seeker must first gain visibility and credibility with the external recruiter,” Mr. Croner said. “This is typically done through networking and direct outreach.”

“Since search firms are retained to find the best overall candidate for a specific role, they are evaluating and screening potential candidates on a variety of tangible and intangible factors,” he said. “A retained search process usually involves the screening of 100 or more candidates to create a pool of four to five that are interviewed by their client. Those who have the requisite skills, background and experience are in the initial screening pool of 100 or more. The few who have the greatest demonstrated alignment with what are perceived to be the most important success factors for that specific role at that specific organization make it to the interview process.”

Some interactions with search consultants will lead to interviews and job offers while others may lead to disappointment, but the disappointments can also lead to valuable insights and information. “While you may not be identified as the best fit for one role, you may be an ideal fit for another,” said Mr. Croner. “A candidate will not be presented to more than one client at a time, but search firms keep track of those they interact with. If a candidate makes a positive (or negative) impression, search consultants remember and factor it in when they, or their colleagues, are working on other similar searches.”

6. Balanced activity yields the best outcome. 

There is a high correlation between the effort and activity people put into their job search and the success of the search. “Greater success will come more quickly by engaging in active and ongoing networking combined with a high degree of direct outreach and targeted interaction with executive search professionals,” Mr. Croner said. “Individuals who leverage all three will generally land better positions faster than those who put more limited effort into networking, outreach, and navigating the executive search arena in favor of simply responding to open online postings.”

“The executive job search has always been a difficult process, and it has been made more complex with the introduction of various online distractions and increased connectivity,” Mr. Croner said. “With the right coach and a structured approach, job seekers can take advantage of this new reality to land in a firm that values their contributions.”

“We are inherently empathetic with executive level job seekers and pay added attention to those referred by our corporate clients and by our previous executive level candidates,” said Steve Schrenzel, COO of the Taplow Group.

“We also encourage those executive level job seekers to enhance their network with relevant search firms by getting references and or permission of their industry contacts – at the “C” level for introductions to us and other firms thought well of by their industry contacts.”

As virtually every search we conduct requires elements of business leadership, line management, professional expertise and salesmanship, he said, “we are amazed at how poorly many executive prospects communicate those attributes – particularly if they are prospective candidates for a leadership or short-term succession situation or are positioning themselves for such roles.”

“At the level we work at,” he added, “we expect most executives to understand that we are in a global economy and our business works across 90 percent of that. There is no sense in not being out front about relocation limitations even though at the most senior levels this might limit the executive seeking a new role.”

Conducting an effective job search should mimic the proactive way executive search consultants execute searches, said Joseph B. Hunt, managing partner at Hunt Executive Search.

“Clearly identify the target company environment and proactively connect and engage with the appropriate stakeholders through the most effective means. Networking and getting introduced by a credible sponsor is ideal, but if push comes to shove, there is nothing wrong with cold calling to make a self-introduction to a hiring manager.”

Irrespective of whether there is a job opening or not, “most companies are always interested in ‘A’ player talent and will figure out a way to bring in top talent that can improve the leadership team and realize the value creation plan.”

“Retained recruiters could retire early if there was a way to monetize the number of executives who reach out when conducting their own job search,” said Todd Bennett, CEO of  R. Todd Bennett Retained Executive Search. “That volume makes it very hard for search professionals to help everyone.”

Key Considerations

A couple of key considerations for candidates may enhance their ability to enlist search professionals to help broaden their network and ultimately land a role.

“First, recognize that we work for specific clients for specific roles, not for candidates seeking a role, so timing is key,” said Mr. Bennett. “One percent of the time I have a specific search related to an executive who reaches out. Second, sending a long cover email and resume generally goes to the bottom of the list. Brevity is the key to getting our attention. Third, we know a good resume vs. a bad one, but we don’t provide resume services.”

The fact is, he added, “we love when accomplished executives reach out and can help them expand their network at the same time providing us the opportunity to reach out to current and potential clients. That is a win-win situation.”

“For executives, the avenue of applying for job through job boards has a low probability of success but also, more importantly, you don’t have control of your information once you enter your details into those internet platforms,” said David Evans, managing partner at Watermark Search International.

”The majority of executive level appointments are made through the individuals own networks and executive search firms. At our firm, we advertise less than 10 percent of our active searches and in interim executive, we don’t advertise any opportunities.”

“Executives are appointed through referral, prior history/contact or active approaches – headhunting,” said Mr. Evans. “In order to be considered for many of these jobs you need to be on the radar. Ideally you are known to the executive search firm or one of the partners.”

“If you don’t know who the leading search firms are in your space, you need to find out and you need to build relationships with the key partners to increase your chances of being considered for those jobs that never get out to the active market.”


12 Reasons Why Companies Hire Executive Search Firms
Is retaining an executive search firm always the best route to take when hiring top performing talent? Hunt Scanlon Media and CNA International have brainstormed with senior executives, CHROs and top recruiters. Here’s why you might need a top flight recruiter to find your next leader.


When Bill Hawkins, president of The Hawkins Company, started in the recruiting business in 1977, 96 percent of all executive hires came as a result of friends and families, said Brett Byers, executive vice president of The Hawkins Company. “While that number has probably gone down over the past 40 years, it still represents the vast majority of how people land the right top job.”

Formal and Informal Networks

“The ‘Six Principles for Conducting an Effective Executive Job Search’ is a good article that examines how to conduct one’s career search,” said Ms. Byers.

“I would stress the importance of networking and very strategic targeted outreach – it is the bread and butter of a successful job search. The focus should always be on your family and friends (social and professional) and their networks. Remember the ‘six degrees of separation’ theory.”

“You must be very intentional in working your formal and informal networks,” she added. “Generally speaking, people want to be helpful, but you have to ask directly for how you want them to help. Then they can say, yes, I can do that, or no I can’t.  Remember, ‘the closed mouth never gets fed.’ Open-ended requests, like, ‘Please keep me in mind if you hear of something the fits my background,’ versus, ‘I would like to meet Ms. Smith, CEO of XYZ Corporation, can you facilitate a meeting.’ That’s big difference in what you want from the person, versus a passive ‘Hail Mary.’”

“In my experience, some candidates do not spend enough time crafting a readable resume and don’t always think to adapt it to the particular role they are targeting,” said Alison Gaines, CEO of Gerard Daniels. “Some people fail to proof read their LinkedIn profile or keep it up to date. LinkedIn is a major research tool for internal recruitment teams and external search consultants.”

“An important network for managers and executives is their professional network,” said Ms. Gaines.

“It’s a great career investment to engage in professional education and development, conferences and seminars and volunteer with professional associations. Many good recruiters and executive search consultants will seek out recommendations about standout candidates from amongst professional peers.”

“If you get into the diary of an executive search consultant for a general discussion about your next career move make sure you have an efficient conversation – be clear about what you want out of the meeting, have some thoughts about the span of your career search and the types of roles, industries, employers, locations and compensation you prefer. Also have a view about the types of career risks you can, or cannot, tolerate,” she added.

Increasing the Odds

“I would suggest any executive who is actively seeking an opportunity and wants to increase the odds of landing the best one, use a coach to help them,” said Richard Risch, CEO of Risch Group Executive Search. “It provides another set of eyes and a professional buddy at your side to provide insight that might not otherwise come to mind. “

“On the executive search side, most of our searches are filled by people who are not actively seeking a new opportunity, so the chances of an active job seeker walking into our offices and finding that ideal job is unlikely,” said Mr. Risch. “Not impossible, but unlikely. It is why we always tell our recruits that see the opportunity we are presenting as an excellent one, but the timing not right, that those two aligning are rare.”

“When the iron is hot you strike, even if the timing is not ideal. That said, every executive should have a deep network already developed in the search industry. Those that land the best jobs usually come through that route.”

“When conducting a search for a new position, it must be a proactive, targeted process that requires discipline and focus,” said Walter Baker, managing partner of Pitcairn Partners. “There are three things critical steps to the process. “First is the ability to clearly and concisely articulate your objective. After assessing your experience and skill set, identify and be able to clearly communicate what you are looking for. Second is to identify and target those companies where reality dictates that you’ll most likely find that job, and provide opportunity for career development. These would include companies in which both your functional and market experience would be valued. Finally, pick up the phone!”

“Use your network to identify how to get in the door. In other words, who can you speak with that can direct you to individuals that can help you get in front of those who really matter at those companies. These would include gatekeepers, influencers, and decision makers.”

“Looking for your next job is not an event. It’s an ongoing process,” said Lisa Maxwell, managing partner of executive search firm Gerard Stewart. “Even if you’re in a great situation and you’re well-positioned in your current role with your current company, you should always be actively managing your own career and thinking about what’s next. Building relationships internally and externally is paramount to this.”

“An important job we all have is to serve as our own career agents – because recruiters work on behalf of companies, not individuals. You need to build relationships with good recruiters so they know who you are.”

“They can be great alliances and sources of information for market trends, compensation trends, job openings and other industry goings-on. At the end of the day, you are your own best advocate and agent,” said Ms.
Maxwell. “You are a business of one and should constantly be working on behalf of yourself. When the time comes to look for your next gig, the foundation should be already there.”

Weekly Guest Article: 4 Leadership Strategies Of Great CEOS>>>Gary Vaynerchuk

As a CEO of a large organization that has grown quickly (from zero to $200 million+), I have a lot of POVs on leadership strategies that lead to strong internal culture and business results.

Here are a few concepts that I don’t see too many others talking about:

1. Look Out For The “Iceberg”

I stood in front of my entire company last September and rolled out a new vision for how we’re going to service clients, and 98% of them thought I was out of my mind. They didn’t believe in what I was saying at all.

Some of them thought I was like the “crazy founder” who has wild ideas on marketing opportunities that can’t actually be implemented in reality.

But I wasn’t upset about it. The truth is, if you have full, 100% buy-in from your employees, you’re in a dangerous spot.

There should be some sort of friction between a CEO or founder who sees everything that’s ahead and the people who are in the trenches. They both have different mindsets, experiences, and factors to take into account in their day-to-day.

The best analogy I can give is looking out for an iceberg.

As the captain of the ship, I’m at the top watching for icebergs and letting everyone know what we should do to avoid them. But if my employees are downstairs, they’re not seeing the same thing I see and they might disagree.

Leaders need to understand what’s happening next. Employees execute on the current and overvalue the past.

That’s something that should be expected. If you’re a leader, it’s your job to communicate.

2. Understand You’re a Parent, Not a Babysitter

This is a huge difference between great CEOs and ones that aren’t. Great CEOs understand that they’re a parent, bad CEOs think they’re babysitters.

For example, I let people in my company do their thing. I don’t micromanage. I’m just watching and supporting as time goes on.

With my management style, my biggest vulnerability is creating entitlement. In other words, my ability to create top-line revenue and fix problems can sometimes give leaders within my company a false sense that they’re the ones executing and getting results within their departments.

As a “parent”, I always think a lot about giving people room to try, fail, and learn – but at the same time, helping them be capable of executing at high levels on their own so that they can still win without me.

Great CEOs sometimes seek out difficult situations and make decisions that the organization isn’t ready for. They might even make decisions that they themselves aren’t ready for.

If you’re a leader, it’s your job to make those moves that you know are right for the company in the macro, even if it causes some tension with executives or team members in the micro.

3. Make Your Employees Feel Safe

This is the number one thing I try to do as a leader. I try to make people feel safe around me.

Safety helps create speed in business for a couple of reasons:

First, when people aren’t spending time thinking about how to navigate a situation, they’re spending time executing. When they’re executing, the entire machine moves faster and produces higher output.

Second, people are able to get to the punchline much faster than they otherwise would which helps me save time.

For example, there are a lot of meetings I sit in that I know are just “disguises” for an ask or a sale on the back end. When I feel that’s the case, I immediately try to make the other person feel comfortable asking me for what they want right away.

I don’t need people to spend 45 minutes on a “set up” for a sale – I need them to be honest about the expectations they have of me.

It’s on me to create a safe environment where they feel comfortable sharing their intentions up front.

4. Understand That You Work For Your Employees, They Don’t Work For You

This one is hard for a lot of leaders to understand.

Most new managers think that becoming a manager is the “graduation.” Truth is, it’s the reverse.

Leaders work for their employees.

That means you have to understand what your employees want at a deep level. You have to be constantly adapting to their needs and what they want from the organization.

For example, one of my employees might want higher pay when he’s 24. But maybe he falls in love at 28 and decides he wants to spend more time with his family. Another might be more interested in a fancy title. Another might want to get access to me and build a relationship.

Another might want to go to one of our international offices and work there.

There are a million different variables, and it’s on you as a leader to adjust to reality as it changes.

When you go from being someone who “executes” to someone who’s managing a team, you go from trading on IQ to trading on EQ. You go from doing the actual work to listening to employees, catering to what they want, taking the blame, and being the bigger person.

The best managers are actually the best mentors.

Reprinted by permission.

6 Habits To Make Motivation Flow Effortlessly–Guest Contributor, Jari Roomer

Learning how to motivate yourself is one of the most powerful skills you can learn in life. Motivation is definitely not something random (even though it sometimes feels like it is). There’s a psychology behind why you feel motivated or unmotivated.

In today’s self-development landscape it’s very popular to glorify self-discipline and to disregard motivation. I completely disagree with this notion.

Learning exactly how motivation works makes it much easier to stop procrastinating, overcome the inner resistance and work hard on your goals instead. Furthermore, it makes your work and life much more fun as you don’t have to force and discipline yourself 24/7 to do the right things (which, let’s be honest, isn’t a fun way to go through life).

I’ve tried both approaches in my life and work. I tried just disciplining myself to do the work even when I didn’t ‘feel like it’ and I tried getting myself in a peak state of mind before the start of the day. I can say with 100% confidence that I prefer the latter.

Why not look into the methods to make you ‘feel like it’? When there are habits and tactics available that can spark motivation within a matter of minutes, it would be a waste not to make use of them. Why rely only on your willpower when that’s proven by research to be a finite resource that weakens throughout the day?

Yes, you’ll need to perform these habits on a daily basis as motivation is just a temporary wave of emotions. But that doesn’t really matter when these habits only take a few minutes each day.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”

— Zig Ziglar

Nowadays, I’m more motivated than ever before — and my results are better than ever. It’s not that I wake up and immediately feel motivated. Rather, it’s that I exercise certain quick habits that spark the motivation necessary to work hard on my goals, without the need to force myself.

I clearly notice that when I don’t perform these habits, my motivation levels drop heavily. That’s why Zig Ziglar’s quote is so true — we need to spark motivation every single day.

Habit 1: Visualization

Visualizing about your goals and how your future could look like is a highly effective way to motivate yourself to work hard today in order to make your vision a reality.

In the past, however, I had trouble adopting visualization as a habit in my life because I always thought it was a bit vague and pseudoscience-ish.

However, visualization can be extremely powerful as it can prime your RAS(your lens through which you view the world) and disarm limiting belief systems. Furthermore, as your goals are at the forefront of your mind during your visualization, you’ll be consistently focused on them.

Personally, I use the 3-phase visualization technique, which takes only about 3 minutes to complete. In the first phase of the visualization you think about how your life would like 3–5 years from now. Clearly visualize what you’ve achieved, what you are doing, where you’re at and who you are with. In the second phase of the visualization you think about how the coming 12 months will look and the last phase of visualization you think about what you need to do today in order to make significant progress on your long-term visions.

During today’s visualization practice I envisioned how my business, Personal Growth Lab, would have many highly engaged followers that would join me on a Peak Performance retreat in Bali. I clearly envisioned the exercises we would do there (such as defining your values, setting your goals, getting clear on your priorities, learning about state change hacks and productivity techniques)and how fun and exciting this retreat would become.

This immediately fueled me with motivation to work hard (and smart) today so that I can grow the PGL following and make this retreat come true.

Habit 2: Reviewing Your Goals

Another highly effective peak performance habit is to review your goals every single day, preferably as part of your morning- and nighttime routine. By reviewing your goals and your reasons why you want to achieve your goals, you put them at the forefront of your mind. This doesn’t just spark the motivation to work hard, but it also helps you to stay focused on your goals and spark new ideas on how to achieve them.

The main reasons why people don’t achieve their goals is because (1) they set too many goals and are therefore spread too thin with their time, energy and focus, and (2) they ‘forget’ about their goals because they fail to remind themselves every single day about what they want to achieve.

Habit 3: Cold Showers

Taking a cold shower has become one of my go-to tools for getting out of a lousy state of mind and into a peak state of mind in an instant. It quickly helps to me to go from unmotivated and low on energy to highly motivated and peak energy levels.

From this improved state of mind it’s much easier to stop procrastinating and work hard on your goals instead. In fact, there hasn’t been a single time where I didn’t feel energized and motivated to go out and crush it after taking a cold shower.

I have to admit, at first, taking cold showers sucks. Your body is actually going into a stress response as the cold water hits your skin, but the key is to stay calm, control your breath, breathe deeply and silence your mind. After 10–15 seconds you’ll start to notice that you can actually handle it and that it’s not as bad as you first thought it would be.

Try to stay for at least 30 seconds under the cold water and notice how awake, energized and on fire you feel when you leave the shower. This instant boost of energy feels amazing, and it’s totally worth the initial struggle.

Habit 4: Reading

Reading the work of the greatest minds in the world is incredibly motivating. By reading business or self-development books, you feed your mind with empowering messages and learn new valuable lessons that you can implement in your own life.

Through reading, you continuously focus your mind on growth instead of mindless distractions, and you spark new ideas that get you motivated to take action.

“Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”

— Jim Rohn

If you make it a strong habit to read every single day, you’ll fuel your mind with new ideas and motivating messages. Personally, I read for about 15 minutes as part of my morning routine. This helps me to start the day with an engaged and highly motivated mind.

Habit 5: Affirmations

Affirmations are essentially messages that you want to remind yourself of on a daily basis. This could be in the form of post-it notes hanging around your house or by having a single piece of paper with all of your affirmations on them.

Your affirmations can include any message that you find empowering and motivating. Whether it’s inspiring quotes or life-lessons you’ve learned yourself, it doesn’t really matter. As long as it gets you motivated.

Personally, affirmations such as ‘you are strong, you are powerful, you are great, etc.’ don’t really work for me. There’s nothing wrong with it though, and maybe they work great for you. My personal preference is to affirm important questions and principles that will help me improve my performance during the day.

For example, part of my affirmations is the question ‘What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?’ This helps me to focus on my most important task every single day.

Another part of my affirmations is ‘Focus on the highest value activities. Focus on just a few key things. Continuously do a 80/20 analysis and eliminate or outsource everything else’.

But I also have reminders like ‘Fear is a compass for action, direct action.’ and‘Act and behave like the person you want to be. How would they act?’

Affirming these messages or questions to myself on a daily basis helps me to focus my mind on doing the things that are necessary to accomplish my goals, and it feeds me empowering messages that spark that motivation within to work with much less resistance than I used to.

Habit 6: Continuously Optimize Your Environment

We are truly a product of our environment. Most people view themselves as separate from their environment, but this is impossible.

In fact, your environment continuously influences how you feel, think and act. It influences anything from how motivated you are to how productive you can be.

Your environment, such as the people you surround yourself with (friends, colleagues, family and your significant other) and your direct environment (your home and your office) can either support your goals or hinder your goals.

For example, your environment could make you lose motivation because people in your surroundings distract you from your work. Another common example is that friends and loved ones try to talk you out of chasing your goals or subtly shame you for improving yourself. Maybe they even (subconsciously) try to pull you back towards destructive habits while you are trying to build up empowering habits.

“You are the average of the five people you associate with most, so do not underestimate the effects of your pessimistic, unambitious, or disorganized friends. If someone isn’t making you stronger, they’re making you weaker.

— Tim Ferriss

That’s why you should continuously analyse whether you have the right people around you. Ask yourself important questions such as:

  • Which people support and inspire me?
  • Which ones hold me back or talk me down?
  • Which ones make me feel better and which ones make me feel worse?
  • From which people do I learn a lot?
  • From which people do I get energy and which people drain energy?

These are all questions you should ask yourself regularly. If you come to the conclusion that the people in your environment are actually limiting your success, make it your mission to surround yourself with new people who accelerate your success. Make it your mission to find your ‘tribe members’.Talking with and being around these people is one of the surest ways to spark the motivation within, as you engage in more stimulating and inspiring conversations more often.

Another example of an environment that limits your motivation and success is when your physical environment is filled with distractions and lacks success-reminders.

Especially as a work-from-home entrepreneur (like myself) or freelancer, you should be careful when it comes to your work environment. When you try to work with focus and intensity while your environment is filled with distractions (such as your Playstation, Netflix, bad foods and even your smartphone), you’ll find it hard to stay motivated. All of these distractions pull for your attention non-stop as your brain finds them more stimulating and novel than your work, pushing you towards procrastinating.

Instead, make sure you work in a distraction-free environment to keep your focus and energy on your important work at hand.

Furthermore, if you want to continuously get that spark of motivation throughout the day, make sure you fill your office or home environment with success-reminders such as inspirational books, empowering affirmations and pictures of your goals.

By creating a supporting environment, you make motivation ‘effortless’ as your environment essentially does the work for you.

Personally, I found that upgrading my environment was one of the most powerful decisions I’ve ever made to upgrade my mindset, motivation and productivity levels.Through upgrading my physical environment and surrounding myself with inspiring people, I built a ‘system’ that sparks motivation and new ideas round the clock. I encourage you to do the same!

Now Do It

Learning how to motivate yourself is one of the most powerful skills you can develop. It makes it a lot easier to stop procrastinating, decrease inner resistance and work hard instead.

Furthermore, you don’t need to force yourself every single time to do the work. Instead, it’ll flow with less effort and with more joy. In my opinion, that’s a much more fun way to live your life.

Therefore, as an action point for this article, I recommend you try out at least 3 of the previously mentioned habits. Experiment with them and see which ones work the best for you!

 

See More Jari Roomer>>>http://thepersonalgrowthlab.com/author/getgoinvesting/

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.

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:  https://www.evestment.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/eVestment-Private-Markets-Due-Diligence-Survey-2019.pdf

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.
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%

 

SOURCE Preqin  https://docs.preqin.com/reports/Preqin-Q1-2019-Hedge-Fund-Asset-Flows.pdf

 

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.
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

Why?

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.’

‘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.