099: Likability Principles with Michelle Tillis Lederman

By December 21, 2016Podcasts

 

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Michelle Tillis Lederman shares approaches to finding what’s likable in yourself to conveying it to others.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How to form your self-perception to guide other’s perception of you
  2. The power of opening yourself up to feedback
  3. How to use curiosity for creating connections in conversation

About Michelle
Michelle Tillis Lederman is known for her energetic, engaging, and authentic presentations. An expert on workplace communications and relationships, Michelle’s mission is to help people communicate and lead with confidence, clarity, and connection. She is an accomplished speaker, trainer, coach, and author of three books including The 11 Laws of LikabilityHeroes Get Hired and Nail The Interview – Land The Job, and named by Forbes as one of the 25 Professional Networking Experts to Watch.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Michelle Lederman Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Michelle, thanks so much for being here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Michelle Lederman
My pleasure.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I got a real kick out of your bio. You mentioned that you were a recovering CPA. What do you mean by that?

Michelle Lederman
I forgot that I put that in there. I spent the first decade of my career in finance. I am a CPA by trade. My mother calls that a certified pain in the assets. A little accounting humor. And I’ve really spent time on a trading floor. I did auditing. I did M&A. I did venture capital. I did risk management. I was in finance. And when I found my calling, I started to transition. But I audit my bookkeeper, and I still kind of do some of my own books. And so I’m fully recovered.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah, that’s funny. I remember my first paid speech was to the Illinois CPA Society, so I have accountants in high esteem, a special part of my history. So I would love to hear. You’ve got a wealth of resources in your book in terms of the laws of likability and your blog and your teachings, your workshops, your keynotes. I’m so excited to get into a lot of the good stuff you have to share here. But maybe before we go deep into the perspective, could you maybe orient us a bit in terms of the mindset and approach, and how is it that we should think about likability in the first place?

Michelle Lederman
It’s a great question because a lot of people misinterpret the book as how to make someone like you. And when I had offers from publishers, one of the publishers wanted to change it to “50 Ways to Make People Like You,” and I said, “Not a chance. That’s not what this is about.” I say very quickly in the book that you cannot make anyone like you, but what you can do is enable people to see what is likable about you. And so what I really teach are the drivers of likability. There’s no checklist. It’s more of a mindset and a way of interacting with others that are based on these drivers and these concepts that enable that connection.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Very good. Understood. And so I like the way you’ve organized your book a bit there in terms of you can look at some drivers occurring before the conversation, during the conversation, and then after the conversation. So could you share with us, what do you think are some of the best gems in the book and in your teachings that are associated with the before the conversation phase?

Michelle Lederman
So in the before the conversation, the idea is to get real. And I think when I first wrote the book, the final chapter of the book was the Law of Authenticity. And I was telling my editor that it’s the thread that ties everything together. And they’re like, “Well, if that’s the thread, why is it not the beginning?” And so it became the beginning. And so Chapter 1 is really this law of authenticity and understanding that the real you is the best you, and to show that vulnerability, to show that authenticity, to show that passion, whatever it is for you. And for me, that is one of the two most important laws of the entire book is getting comfortable with what I call your unique charms. Understanding it doesn’t give us permission to be mean and rude and to say, “Well, that’s just me. I’m just being me.” No. We’re not giving you permission to be obnoxious.
What we are doing is, for example, I’ve never been accused of being a wallflower. I have definitely been accused of being too talkative, too loud, too much, too energetic, too over-the-top. Absolutely. And so finding that place where you can be who you are. I’m not going to be a quiet girl, but I can adapt and flex and understand that my unique charm might be overtalking, and so I might take a breath a little bit and talk just a little bit less, but I’m still going to talk. And so I accept that about myself. I call it a unique charm. And it doesn’t mean I’m not trying to ensure that it’s not offending others and ensure that it’s not overpowering to others. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you. Yes. And so could you give us maybe some examples of other unique charms that pop up and have real potential?

Michelle Lederman
Well, see, I would flip that on you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh.

Michelle Lederman

You didn’t know you were going to get interviewed all of a sudden. If you think about something that is kind of core to who you are, share with all of your listeners something about you that everybody always says about you.

Pete Mockaitis

You know, it’s interesting. It’s funny as a podcaster. I think before I was a podcaster, people have said that just the way I talk and articulate myself is just different. And it’s like my word choice and I guess cadence is just different. Some people might think that’s odd, like “Is this guy for real?” And some people might think, “Oh, this is so fun and just engaging to listen to.” But I think that is a unique charm. Hopefully, it’s charming in many contexts. But there are other times when it’s happened to me with that. It’s like I’m in a meeting and they say, “Okay, Pete, this is just too much energy and peculiarity for this early in the morning for us.”

Michelle Lederman
And that’s great. And you can embrace that. And so that’s the idea behind unique charms is saying, “Okay, well, I have this awareness that I have this tendency. And it can be great, and it’s an asset in my mind and in my heart. That said, it doesn’t mean that I can’t observe those around me or the time of day and tone it down a little.” And this is a concept we call flexing. Flexing is the momentary or temporary adjustment of our style, of our unique charm to improve effectiveness with someone else. So we’re not changing who we are, but we’re adapting to enable connection with another person, because if we say that “I am unique, and I am me, and I’m just going to do whatever this is,” what we don’t enable is that other person.
So one of the shifts in relationship networking that I tell people is “It’s not about you. It’s not about them. It’s about the interaction between the two of you together. It’s that relationship.” And so, yeah, we need to make adjustments. And so, in that meeting, if it’s 8:00 a.m., you might bring the volume down a little bit, or you might take a breath, or whatever it is that you might need to just help them hear the words, not just how the words are said.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s great. Thank you. And so when you talk about the breath or the volume or the pacing, I guess I’m wondering right there, what are some key dimensions that you might look to, to do some flexing on?

Michelle Lederman

That is a very individualized answer. So we just stayed with you a little bit. You gave us something. And so I would challenge all the listeners out there to think about what are their unique charms. What are the things that some people say they love about you, or that’s just for show to you, whatever your name is out there? Fill in the blank. And then think about how this helps and how this might need to be adapted during certain situations. And so those parameters are really uniquely individual.
Other people might be told they’re hard to read. And so if we look at just this introvert/extrovert spectrum that we’re kind of playing with a little bit, you and I are clearly a little bit more extroverted, a little bit more animated, a little bit more much at 8:00 a.m., whereas the introvert might need to bring a little bit more energy or provide a little bit more information, either through their facial expressions or through vocalizations, to give information to the other person because they tend to be a lot less expressive in their face and so it makes it hard to read, whereas we might give away everything that we think and then cause somebody to be offended because we rolled our eyes without even realizing it. And so it’s understanding where you are and what’s the impact to the other person that you’re with.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Very good. Thank you. And so I’m curious to hear. It sounds like we touched a little bit there on some of the law associated with perception. But I’d like to dig into a little bit more about that in terms of key things that we should look for or think about how we’re being perceived when it comes to what we present of ourselves.

Michelle Lederman

So we’re still in that get real, right?

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah.

Michelle Lederman

And we’re getting in our right mindset. And I always say that the law of self-image and the law of perception are opposite sides of the same coin. So the law of self-image is understanding that how you see you, you have to like you first. So if you don’t believe things about you, how can anyone else?

Pete Mockaitis

All right. Yeah.

Michelle Lederman

You need to start seeing you the way you want others to see you. And I actually have an activity that I can share with your listeners called your three words. And they can download it. And remind me to give you those links at the end. But this helps people understand how they want to be seen, how they’re currently seen, and then how to bridge that gap. So self-image is “This is how I see myself, but this is how I’d like to be seen.” Perception is how others see me. So perception is reality. Whether or not it’s true that I am over-the-top is based on their perception. It’s their reality of their experience with me.
So again, we’re always talking about the interaction between two people, not “I’m just going to change myself across the board,” because we don’t want to change ourselves. We’re all fabulous. So when we think about perception, if you think about first impressions, first of all, it’s a lot easier to make a good impression than to change a bad one. So you do want to think about the things that contribute to that impression that you’re making upon first meeting someone.
And if I asked your listeners, in their head, to list off the things in their minds right now, they’re probably saying things like smiles and eye contact and facial expressions. They’re saying stance and gestures and body language. They’re saying things like tone and dress and energy and how they entered the room. So we have all of these things that we can work with. So when you talk about parameters, so to speak, about what are the things that we need to think about, those are all the things that can contribute and impact the impression that we make. But you first need to get clear on what impression you want to make before you can make it.

Pete Mockaitis

Understood. Now, when you say those three words there, there’s a perception of yourself and how you’re being perceived. Are those two of the words? What’s the third one?

Michelle Lederman

So step one in the exercise is for you to say “Here’s how I see myself. Here’s all my strengths. Here’s how I want to be seen.” And it’s for you to kind of start to develop your personal brand. “I am the XYZ person. I’m the hardworking, quietly confident intellect.” So you’re picking whatever your three words are that depict your personality and the reputation or brand that you want within the organization or amongst your peers.
Step two is getting feedback and understanding how you are currently perceived in the organization and amongst your peers. Do they read you as quietly confident, or do they read you as meek and pure? So how do we then, in step three, bridge the gap between how they see you and how you want to be seen? And that’s what the exercise kind of walks you through.

Pete Mockaitis

Now, in terms of getting the perceptions of others, I mean, that sounds like that could take a real dose of courage and vulnerability. How do you go about seeking that feedback, that input?

Michelle Lederman

Spot on. And vulnerability used to be a word I hate. And actually, one of the things I use in a lot of my talks is that vulnerability leads to credibility. Opening yourself up for honest feedback can be extremely powerful. There’s a lot of ways to get it. You get it in an annual review or the conversations that you have around how this presentation went or how that meeting went. So you are anecdotally and formally getting feedback within your organization on a regular basis. You need to be more reflective with that information.
But you also can go out and ask questions of other people because you want to get multiple sources of data. Ask friends and relatives, spouses, children, parents, exes. Exes and frenemies are really interesting for data, but you need to be careful with the question that you ask. So if you ask a frenemy or an ex, don’t say, “How would you describe me?” Instead, you’ll say, “Tell me one quality that you think is a strength of mine, or one good attribute about me,” because if somebody who doesn’t really love you that much tells you something really good, you know you got that going on.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s great. I love that perspective. Yes. It’s like this is a source of rich value and insight. The fact that someone isn’t such a fan means there’s a double evidence that a compliment from them is the real deal.

Michelle Lederman

Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis

Fun. So now thinking about sort of the during the conversation phase of things, I was just on a podcast yesterday and we were talking a bit about curiosity. So I’d love to hear your take on this law and why that’s helpful.

Michelle Lederman

Curiosity creates connections. For me, that’s where all conversation and all connection begins. And this happened right before we started this podcast. I said, “So while I’m fussing around over here, tell me about you.” And showing genuine interest and curiosity. And can I tell your listeners what you shared?

Pete Mockaitis
You may.

Michelle Lederman

And so this is part of it. But you’re willing to self-disclose and share something personal about the fact that you’re about to get married.

Pete Mockaitis

Yay.

Michelle Lederman

Yay! You’re going to get loads of emails of congratulations. So when you are willing to share something like that, you open up the possibility for conversation. And it could take us in so many places. I can say, “Oh, how did you meet?” I can say, “Oh, where are you getting married?” or “What kind of wedding?” or “Oh, where are you going on your honeymoon?” Now we have all these things that we can talk about that can create connection because you might… So where are you going on your honeymoon?

Pete Mockaitis

Hawaii.

Michelle Lederman

That was one of the places I thought about going on ours. We ended up going to Australia instead, but that is on my list. So now this conversation has all these things. I could then say, “Oh, when you get back, you have to give me what your favorite things were so I can plan my trip.” Now we’ve extended the conversation. We’ve created a follow-up. We’ve created a next step. And it was simply from me saying, “So tell me about you,” and you being willing to share.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s excellent. And you’re right. That opens up the floodgates of all kinds of content that we can connect on and work with. And so that’s so good. While we’re doing some self-disclosure, I think I really am at my best when I have that genuine curiosity about others and I want to hear all about their stuff. And sometimes, my over-the-topness. I’m so enthusiastic that people almost think I’m mocking them. It’s like, “No. I’m that interested in your life and what you’re up to.” So that’s a bit of perception to work on. But I’d like to hear. There are other times I’m not at my best, and it’s like I guess I feel overwhelmed. I got a whole lot of stuff to do. I’m entering into a conversation with someone and there’s really just a few key outcomes that I want, and so I am not in the place of curiosity. Do you have any pro tips on how to take that beat, that breath, and reorient it to get to that optimal spot to kick off a conversation?

Michelle Lederman

I don’t believe in optimal spots, to be honest with you.

Pete Mockaitis

All right.

Michelle Lederman

I don’t think that we need to jigger ourselves so much. But I do talk about the concept of energy and productive energy. And I think this is really where you’re referencing because you’re basically saying you might not have been in the right mindset and you’re headed elsewhere, and so we’re not optimal. Now, we can’t just turn our dial and be like, “Okay, now I’m at optimal.” But we can think about what our typical energy responses are and where our energy is coming from. And we have some tools to help us find that more productive energy. So a couple of things that you can try. For example, you’re going to a networking event. You’re really not in the mood. Ever been there?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah.

Michelle Lederman

That laugh tells me that, yes, you’ve been there. We’ve all been there. I mean, even those that might really enjoy those types of events generally, sometimes just “Ugh. I just don’t have the energy.” So what I tell people first of all is you have permission not to go.

Pete Mockaitis

All right.

Michelle Lederman

I give everybody permission to say, “You know what? Hey, if you’re not in the right mindset, it’s not going to be valuable anyway.” Give yourself a break, go home, and live to come to another networking event later. You can’t do that every time, but you certainly can do it once in a while.

Pete Mockaitis

Great.

Michelle Lederman

If you decide, “You know what? This is really what I want to go to.” Not what I should go to, but what I want to go to. And you have to be careful because one of the things that we do in our language is we talk about things as want to, get to, should do, and have to. And want to’s and get to’s are really easy. Should do’s and have to’s are not so much. So one of the things I say with the have to’s is “Is it really a have to?” Check yourself. Maybe it’s a should do. And maybe it could even be a want to.
And on the should do’s, well, you don’t have to, so don’t. Or reframe. And what I mean by reframe is “How can we make this should do a get to or a want to?” And maybe it’s “Oh, I don’t feel like being at this network event. Oh, but I’m going to see my friend Sherry. I haven’t seen her in ages. I can’t wait to see her. I’m excited for that.” Or “Oh, they serve great wine there, and it’s free.” Or “I’m really hungry.” Or “They’re going to have good giveaways.” Or whatever it might be that can help get you in a positive mindset. So we can find the good. That’s called finding the good in the situation and focusing on the good.
There’s also something called invoke true emotion. So I’ll tell you a quick story. Oh, god. It must have been a decade ago. I was meeting with career services at a university, and I’m having this great meeting with a potential client. I did work for them before, thinking it’s all going wonderful. And then about 10 minutes before the meeting ends, her body changed, her voice changed. I was like, “What did I do? I must have done something.” So I asked her. I said, “Is everything okay?” And she was like, “Oh, yeah. The meeting I have right after you is with a student I just can’t stand.”
I was like, first of all, “Whew. It wasn’t me.” And then I said, “Oh. Okay. Well, can I try something with you?” And this was the first incidence of this and me figuring out this concept. And she said, “Sure. What?” And I said, “Tell me about a student you love working with.” And she was like, “Oh, my god. There’s this girl, and she comes in, and we have this great exchange. I have so many ideas that could help her, and she embraces them, and it’s go great.” And her body and her voice and everything changed.
I said, “Okay. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to think about that student that you cannot wait to help and cannot wait to see and that you love working with. And I want you to expect that person to walk through the door. I want you to act as if and feel from the inside that whoever comes through the door is that person. And just see what happens. That’s it. Just see what happens.” So she was like, “All right. I’ll try that.” I’m back at my office. It’s about an hour later. Now, this is back in either late ‘90s or early 2000’s, before caller ID existed. I’ll put it that way. And my phone rings, and I pick it up and I just hear, “Oh, my god. That works.” And I was like, “Who is this?”
And what happened was when we have that expectation, energy expectations of an interaction, we then cause sometimes those expectations to come true. So that student that she couldn’t stand felt the dread, felt the frustrations, felt the impatience, felt the fact that maybe she didn’t really want him there. But when she approached him differently with a more productive energy, the exchange was very different. And she was like, “I was able to help him. He seemed open to the idea. There was a completely different conversation. That was amazing.” And so this is the concept of invoking real emotion. She presented real feelings that she had. They just weren’t for that person. But that person felt it, and it opened them up, and it changed the exchange.

Pete Mockaitis

Wow. That’s really cool. And I guess I’m wondering. How often does that work? I mean, it seems fantastic. I’m looking forward to trying it. What kind of batting average might I expect?

Michelle Lederman

Well, I have never run stats on it. But here’s what I would say. It’s going to depend on: (1) Can you truly invoke that real emotion? And (2) Does the person find it authentic?

Pete Mockaitis

Got you.

Michelle Lederman

So you still need that thread of authenticity. If you usually treat somebody the wrong way and, all of a sudden, you’re like, “I can’t wait to see you!” they don’t believe you.

Pete Mockaitis

Right.

Michelle Lederman

So you still need to feel it and then share it in a way that’s authentic and relatable to whoever is there with you.

Pete Mockaitis

Very cool. Thank you. And I’m also curious to hear. At the during the conversation part of things, you’ve got a law associated with mood memory. And that was kind of a chapter title that made me go, “Hm. What’s that?” the most. What’s the story with mood memory?

Michelle Lederman

This is one that I often get asked about. I think energy and movement are probably the two most difficult concepts for people to grasp. Mood memory is the idea that people will remember far more how you make them feel than anything that you say.

Pete Mockaitis

Got you.

Michelle Lederman
And if you think about walking away from a conversation sometimes, are you feeling like, “Ugh. God, that was painful,” or are you thinking like, “Oh, wow. That was really great. I enjoyed that.”? You have an emotional content and context for these interactions that make you say, “Never again.” I always say to my husband. There was one couple at our wedding, on his side (and I won’t say anymore) that kept talking. And I just was like, “That’s 10 minutes of my wedding day I’ll never get back.”

Pete Mockaitis

Oh.

Michelle Lederman

You know? It was just like, “Ugh.” We all have those moments. And so mood memory is what you can do within that exchange to make somebody feel good and to encourage a future interaction, because right now, what we’re in is that conversation, but the goal, the key is to get to that after conversation, where the true relationships are built. And it’s the extension of the conversation from the first to the second to the third is where the relationship forms.

Pete Mockaitis

Mm-hm. And so they’re remembering the mood. You’re remembering that mood. This anonymous person is also probably remembering a mood coming off from your side. And so it seems like you’re just really reinforcing the idea that there really are some stakes associated with taking the time to find that place because it will be locked in their memory more so than the content of the words themselves.

Michelle Lederman

Oh, yes. I mean, if you think about our senses, science shows that we might not remember the details, but we’ll remember the smell or the sound or the feeling.

Pete Mockaitis

Absolutely. And it’s so funny. That happens to me often with all sorts of things. People ask me about whether it’s a vendor or a service or a software or some kind of an idea that I really won’t remember the numbers or analysis, even though I love numbers and analysis, but I’ll just remember, “Yeah, that just wasn’t making much sense and wasn’t feeling right.” And they’re like, “Could you…?” And that’s often not enough for people because like, “I’m trying to make a decision here, and all you’ve told me is that you looked at it once and it didn’t feel right.” And it’s not kind of immediately helpful for them. But you’re right. It’s like I can’t remember the details of the calculation, but I just know it was all messed up when I took a good look.
Well, now, thinking about sort of the final phase, after the conversation, I’m curious in particular about your point on patience because that thought, “This is 10 minutes of my wedding I’ll never get back,” I thought that’s sort of the thing. My wedding hasn’t happened yet, but in terms of “Oh my gosh. This conversation is taking a while, and I really don’t think that it has to.” And so I’d love to get your take on the importance of patience and how we can cultivate some more of it.

Michelle Lederman

Yeah. So this is the last chapter of the book because it’s the hardest. And it’s definitely one of the ones I’m constantly working on. And every year, I re-commit to being more patient and better at it because it’s really challenging. The idea behind patience is to give it time. Things happen. And so when I talk about the idea of patience, I’m talking about being patient with allowing relationships to form. I’m talking about being patient with allowing your results to come in. I’m also talking about being patient by allowing you to be able to give later if you can’t give now.
So this really goes hand in hand. And I alluded to the two laws in the book that I think are the most critical, one being authenticity. The second is actually giving, which is right before patience. So sometimes, when we’re trying to live the law of giving and we feel like we have nothing to offer or provide or give, we need to practice patience and trust that, in time, as long as we have that mindset and the desire and we converse in a way that seeks to assist, that we will eventually be able to be valuable to somebody else.

Pete Mockaitis

Mm-hm. Very good. Thank you. So now I’m kind of thinking in broader terms, given all that you’ve learned and shared along these lines, I imagine that you have an excellent sort of context or lens through which you’re viewing interactions like every day. And so I would love to get your sense for are there any sort of, I guess, pet peeves or words, phrases, behaviors you encounter that just make you think that’s not helpful for you, “What I’m witnessing here is pretty suboptimal when it comes to utilizing or invoking or following laws of likability.”?

Michelle Lederman
So here’s what I tell my children all the time. You can’t control somebody else’s behavior. You can only feel good about your choices. So in the idea of observing other people’s interactions, I try to remember that we don’t know what’s going on in their day, in their life, in their mind.

Pete Mockaitis
Certainly.

Michelle Lederman

And that’s a concept called assuming positive intent. And so whatever it is that other people might be like, “Yeah, that one is for you, Michelle.” Instead of me focusing on what people might be doing wrong, what I actually will focus on is the idea that we all rush to judgment.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, yeah.

Michelle Lederman

It is a necessary phenomenon for our species to draw conclusion. And that’s not a bad thing, and nobody should feel bad about doing it. But what I would encourage you to do is to assume positive intent and to be open to the possibility of being wrong, and maybe just try to slow your thinking down a little, because what happens when we rush to judgment, what happens when we start drawing conclusions and making assumptions is that we then seek data to prove ourselves right. And what if we’re wrong? We’re not open for that. And so I guess this does answer your question in terms of mistakes that we make. But I want to give you that tool to counteract, which is the assumption of positive intent.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, absolutely. I’m right on board with that, and I certainly try to practice that in my own life. And I think that I often just sort of imagine all kinds of potential mitigating circumstances and/or excuses or contexts that would explain in a positive way what I’m witnessing here now. I guess at the same time, I think that there are certainly behaviors or things that people say and do that, regardless of the understandable, justifiable background reasons associated for them, do result in them often coming across in a way that they probably don’t want to come across. Are there any key things that come to mind there? Sort of judgment-free of a person, but stuff that shows up that often isn’t going to work for them.

Michelle Lederman

I think it’s watching your body language. It’s being aware of how you are triggered. So are you somebody who can be impatient? The left brain cerebral thinkers tend to be very curt and impatient, and it’s because they really want to be in action. But it comes off differently to others. So increasing our awareness around how others see us and what some of our tendencies are around those behaviors, that body language, that impatience, that judgment, that “I know what you’re going to say, so let me just say it for you and cut you off.”

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, yeah.

Michelle Lederman

All of that. And I also say triggers. So we all have triggers of things that just set us off. For my mom, if I tell her to calm down, I need to be far away; otherwise I might get… because I will get the absolute opposite effect of telling my mother.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yeah. I read an article. I think it says telling a person to calm down really works, or some sort of study shows. And so I hear that. Great. Thank you. So awareness of the triggers. Anything else you were thinking there?

Michelle Lederman

No. It was just really what is your behavior within those triggers and what can you do about it. So for me, a trigger is being late. I get very stressed out if I’m late. And then if I get stressed out, I can get a little snippy. And so my son follows in my tracks and is very time-conscious and then starts to stress the whole house out if we’re going to be late.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, I hope it’s okay that we started this call two minutes late. Was that triggering anything for you?

Michelle Lederman

I took my deep breath. I’m just going to… But it is mentally talking yourself through, if you know your triggers. So we start with self-awareness. Actually, what we’re getting into right now is called emotional intelligence and the five levels of emotional intelligence. And level one is awareness. So you have to have awareness of your triggers to be able to self-regulate. And that self-regulation is being able, for me personally, to say, “Everything is going to be fine five minutes after you get there. It’s not going to make a difference. It’s okay.” So that’s the self-regulation. And then there’s the self-motivation. So those three levels of emotional intelligence are your self-mastery, and then the top two levels are social mastery and how we work on these things with others, decision making with others and reading others, all of that.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Excellent. Thank you. Well, you tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure that we get to cover off before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things here?

Michelle Lederman

Let’s go straight to favorite things. I’m curious what these questions are.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Let’s do it. Well, can you start us off by sharing a favorite quote, something that you find inspiring or helpful?

Michelle Lederman

There’s a couple that come to mind. I’m a huge fan of Covey, and his fifth habit, “Seek first to understand and then to be understood,” is probably one of my favorites that I use in my work. There’s a quote from Tiffany Dufu from the White House Project. She and I were on a panel many years ago, and she said that there was a poster in her office that said, “If things are getting easier, you might be going downhill.” And that really stuck with me.

Pete Mockaitis

Hm. Thank you.

Michelle Lederman

Yeah. It’s a good one, right?

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah. I’m concerned about certain things are getting easier. That’s fun. Thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or piece of research?

Michelle Lederman

I find myself retelling the Xerox study quite a bit. And it’s a study that was done in the ‘70s, and you can Google it, where people lined up at a Xerox machine and then somebody tried to cut, with a reason and without a reason. And it was fascinating how, with just saying a reason or the cause, even if the reason wasn’t fabulous, the difference in the response rate being yes versus no.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yes. I’ve read that in Robert Cialdini’s book, “Influence.” And it’s fascinating. All those pieces of research he drops there, like the eye-popping transformation in kind of yes rates. “Because I need to make some copies.” That’s kind of understood. That’s why we’re all here. But that alone will do it.

Michelle Lederman

Yeah. It could be “Because I need to make some copies really quick,” versus a good reason like “Because a FedEx truck is waiting outside.”

Pete Mockaitis

Oh. All right. Cool. And how about a favorite book?

Michelle Lederman

Well, Covey.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah. Classic.

Michelle Lederman

“Seven Habits” is definitely one of my favorites.

Pete Mockaitis

And favorite tool, something that you use often that’s helpful?

Michelle Lederman

I’m not terribly high-tech, but I am a slave to my Outlook and my calendar. And I have color-coded it so that visually, at a glance, I can see what my day looks like. And it helps me bundle and batch similar tasks. But I also put every single thing in the world in my calendar. I don’t actually use the tasks. I actually just put them as an all-day event at the top of my calendar, whether it’s getting the dog a shot or leaving money for the mailman or whatever it might be. It’s all there.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, I’m intrigued now. So with the color-coding and the batching of similar tasks, can you share a little bit in terms of the categories or natural batches of which things fall into?

Michelle Lederman

So dark blue in my calendar means it’s a meeting. So meeting is usually out of the office, so it shows me that I have to have travel time. Orange is a phone call, and so you’ll see a lot of orange blocks going back to back to back, because you can do those things together. Pink is for my kids, even though they’re boys. I guess maybe my subconscious wanted a girl. Let’s see what else is in my calendar.
Actually, today, I have maroon or purple, which is media appearances. So doing a podcast or a radio show gets purple on the calendar. Green is a program, where that means I’m going to be in front of an audience on stage. I have a client that represents a huge amount of business for me, and it’s government. So anything government is yellow. So it just gives you a sense of a way to track what’s going on. And it’s even good for work-life balance to see how much pinks pop up at my calendar.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that is clever. Yes. And I’m also curious to hear. So if you don’t use tasks and you’ve got them as all-day items sort of listed there, how do you handle if something didn’t get done on a given day and then it needs to be moved over? Is just a quick drag or is there a system there, too?

Michelle Lederman

So one of the things I do every day, and then again every week, is I look at the day and I decide priorities. So if there’s priorities in that all-day event, I will move them into a time on my calendar that day. And then if, at the end of the day, things are still up there, I’ll move them over to the next day, and I will go back a week and make sure nothing fell through the cracks.

Pete Mockaitis

Very good. Thank you. Well, I appreciate you going into depth there with us.

Michelle Lederman

Inside a little peek of my brain.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah. See, that’s what I’m saying in terms of sometimes I’m perceived as like, “Are you mocking me?” I really am that interested in how you’re color-coding your calendar. So thank you for sharing. Well, now, can you share, is there a favorite habit or something that you do that’s been very helpful in your life and work and business?

Michelle Lederman

I really should have a habit since I just said my favorite book is “The Seven Habits.” I think my favorite habit is actually practicing what I preach. I didn’t write the book and then find these concepts. I live these concepts. And the book is an answer to the question of “How did I build my business?” The book is how I live. So that’s my habit.

Pete Mockaitis

Beautiful. And would you say that there’s a particular nugget that you’re kind of known for, in terms of you’ll see a lot of Kindle book highlights or retweets or heads nodding when you share it?

Michelle Lederman

There’s one that wasn’t part of the book, but I do a newsletter. And this past week, it was on Election Day. And the title of the newsletter was “Your Voice is Important. Have You Used It Lately?” And so something that everyone tweeted out of that newsletter was “If you think people are not listening, rethink how you are communicating, but don’t stop talking.” And that really resonated for a lot of people because I was seeing that tweeted all over the place.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s good. Thank you. And what would you say is the best place to find you? If folks want to learn more about you and what you’re up to, where would you point them?

Michelle Lederman

The best hub is my website which is michelletillislederman.com. And from there, you can find my blog. You can get to my YouTube channel. You can link in to me. You can find my professional, not personal (you don’t want to see my hair in the ‘80s) Facebook page. You can find me on Twitter. I write for Forbes. I’m all over the place, but the best place to start is probably my website. And I promised your listeners that I would share with you. If you go to my website, you’ll get a pop-up or there’s something in the sidebar where if you do sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get a bunch of freebies, a networking assessment, and the three words activity that I referenced. All of that comes to you in the first couple of emails.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Thank you. Well, is there perhaps a final challenge or a parting call to action you’d like to leave folks with who are seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Michelle Lederman

Well, two things. One, figure out what your three words are because then you can drive how others see you. And I would love to hear what your three words are, so link in to me, tell me you were on this podcast, and share with me your three words. And the last thing I will say is really what I think are words to live by, which is don’t network for need, and don’t network for now. When you think about relationship networking, when you think about infusing the laws of likability into the way in which you interact with others, you are building relationships for life, and those are the relationships that will sustain you for the rest of your life.

Pete Mockaitis

Beautiful. Thank you. Well, Michelle, this has been so much fun. Thanks so much for making the time, and I wish you tons of luck in your business, in your work, in helping to transform more and more folks. This has been a real treat.

Michelle Lederman

My pleasure.

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