263: Building Relationships like a Superconnector with Scott Gerber

By February 16, 2018Podcasts

 

 

Scott Gerber discusses the “superconnector” approach to build meaningful human relationships and go beyond networking.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How to become a conversational Sherlock Holmes
  2. Questions that spark great conversations
  3. How to introduce yourself with impact

About Scott

 

Scott Gerber is Founder and CEO of CommunityCo and founder of YEC and Forbes Councils. He is an industry leader in building and managing personalized, invitation-only communities for world-class executives, entrepreneurs and professionals. Scott is an expert on youth entrepreneurship, community building, youth unemployment in America, recent college grad unemployment and small business.

 

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Scott Gerber Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Scott, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Scott Gerber

Thank you so much for having me. It’s going to be a lot of fun, Pete.

Pete Mockaitis

I think so too. Well, I was intrigued. When you filled out the form to get this conversation going, you described yourself as a big family man. And I just had my first child born mere weeks ago, so I’m very interested to hear…

Scott Gerber

Congratulations.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, thank you. So I’m interested to hear all about that from you today.

Scott Gerber

Absolutely. It’s funny. People look at me, I’m a 34-year-old living in New York City, three-bedroom apartment with four children, a wife, and a dog. And we’re as in it as it gets because they’re ages, seven, five, about to be three, and eight months.  So we’re not sleeping, we’re dealing with multiple levels of personalities at all different ages. But, as I tell all my professional and business friends, what’s the point of doing what you’re doing if you don’t enjoy actually building a life?
And so, having these amazing, unbelievably different kids interested in so many different things, a very loving wife who is a wonderful mother, but also someone that we share our passion for really not just being present in the physical space of our children, but present with our children, and growing and learning together. Those are the kinds of things that make working so hard actually worth it. So that’s what we’re all about. There is no such thing as work-life balance by any means, but I think there’s something to be said about working so you can have a life.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, very good. And tell me, any pro tips on managing low sleep?

Scott Gerber

Well, I am the first one to say I believe I truly have the best individual piece of advice, from one parent to another. Are you ready for this?

Pete Mockaitis

I’m so ready.

Scott Gerber

The best piece of advice, from one parent to another is, “Don’t listen to advice from any other parent. ”

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, got it. Alright, well then I’ll stop asking you about parenting matters, and completely shift gears to your book. So, Superconnector – what’s it all about and why is this important for the world to learn about right now?

Scott Gerber

Yeah, so Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matter – my partner and I wrote it really with one core idea, and that is people as a society at this point are really falling into this lazy, out-for-yourself, transactional mindset of networking more and more. And as the world gets noisier, and as social platforms become even more ubiquitous, you need to actually be a human that builds relationships, and not a technology that amplifies non-human practices. You need to go back to being human, to build human relationships.
And so we’ve spent the better part of a decade building a number of very engaged professional communities for YEC, for its councils, others, for ourselves, for other brands and companies, to learn the ways in which you can actually build these meaningful relationships from the ground up, and not have these tips and tricks and hacks and growth hacking and conversion strategies, but rather just going back to saying, “I want to build smart ways to communicate with people, and smart groups of people to surround myself with, because that makes life better.” And when you’re valuable to other people, they can also be valuable to you. But it doesn’t mean you have to go into every relationship you’ve ever built looking for value.
So that’s why we wrote the book, taking all these best practices and frameworks, really to help people learn the mindset of a connector from our insights and from the top superconnectors around the world in various industries, so they stop doing these really stupid and terrible inhuman networking practices that we all love to hate.

Pete Mockaitis

Inhuman networking practices and processes. Okay, so maybe could you really lay out that contrast first to clear for me here? So, could you share with me, “Here is an inhuman networking process. Instead, do this.”

Scott Gerber

Well, here’s something I think we can all relate to here. Everybody has been subjected to a networker, right? It’s the person that walks up to you, shaking your hand with the right hand, having the business card in the left hand, talking at you about themselves while looking over your shoulder at the next person they should try to meet, right? The person that’s not investing real time, that’s trying to get the stack of business cards, that’s not really listening and only guiding and taking on a conversation for their own personal gain.
And then in 30 seconds, instead of thinking about, “How do I figure out where value can be created for you, the person I’m talking to?”, they’re thinking about, “Is this person going to be relevant to my individual goal or need or revenue metric?”, or whatever KPI you’ve decided on that day is valuable for your time, instead of the more practical way to do it, which is just to have a framework of the kinds of people you want to surround yourself with, and dedicate meaningful, smart, context-rich time and conversation to over not one year or one month, or any definitive amount of time, but over a lifetime; build a tribe around you of people that would be there for you in an instant and you do the same.
I think it’s a different mindset to look at surrounding yourself with great people that you can create mutual value, and exchange, and knowledge-share, than just trying to have this really, quote-unquote, focused way of looking at someone as dollar signs or a stepping stool. And so that’s the difference, I think, between the two categories. It’s not semantics. It is a fundamental difference of belief in how you view the point of a business relationship.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, certainly. So, that sounds appealing, to be surrounded by people that you think are fantastic and there’s a mutual sharing of goodness over the course of a lifetime. So in practice, how is that done? How does one become a superconnector? What are some of the habits and practices and beliefs that they roll with?

Scott Gerber

Yeah, I think first and foremost, you have to learn how to have a real conversation. I think a lot of people suck at conversations – they have an issue leading them or they have an issue being a part of them, because your instinct is always to go to the lowest common denominator or lowest hanging fruit like, “Oh, the weather is nice today.” Small talk, right? Things that are inconsequential, that don’t really extract any new learnings or knowledge. And so first and foremost you have to understand, what is the point of a conversation? And I know that sounds like remedial. I’m sure someone right now listening to this is, “Oh my God! Great, Scott, you know how to talk. Well, that’s obvious. You’re so stupid. Why are you wasting my time?” Yet, they don’t do it, right?
So first it’s, what is the point of good context? Well, any conversation that allows you to extract context means that you’re creating a treasure trove, if you will, of great insights and data to really learn about someone, and not just the surface-level LinkedIn, Facebook-type stuff, but things such as what the goals of an individual are, or what they’re working on right now. That way, you can learn about what they’re working on, what is success and what is failure to them, what’s the timeline by which they’re looking to do these things – that kind of information that you can play an active role in, right? So great context.
Great context comes from good questions. So, in order to know what a good question is, you first have to ask, “What is a bad question?”, right? And a bad question is – I love this one – are you ready for it? It’s, “How can I help you?” Don’t you love that question? That question is horrible. It’s one of the worst questions ever created, and it’s become a social script marketing tactic for most people. Why does it suck? One, it puts the onus on the other person that in some cases you’ve just met, with a homework assignment or to come up with a good answer, or they’re going to feel stupid.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright.

Scott Gerber

Number two, it’s not founded in any kind of specificity. It’s incredibly broad. Number three, if you had a conversation with them, the logical answer should be, “Don’t you know how to help me? If I’ve given you all the pieces to the puzzle, shouldn’t you be able to put the last one in to complete the puzzle and tell me the help I need?”
So it’s not specific, whereas a question like, “What are you working on right now?”, as I just mentioned – much more specific, comes with a timeline, comes with something that they’re passionate about and excited about, because it’s right now and it’s meaningful to them, comes with a series of naturally next step curious follow-ups: “What does that mean?” or, “Can you tell me more about that?” or, “What made you think that this is important to do right now?” or, “What’s the steps to success?” Again, things that you can help them help you to help them.
And then finally, again, it’s about putting together the pieces of the puzzle, the context, to figure out, “Who in my world or what resource do I have that might be able to fill the void?” So, maybe you’ve heard a series of things that it’s like, “Oh, well, I know this guy John and this woman Sally that have expertise in XYZ. Would that be helpful to you if I can see if they’re interested in having a conversation on that?” Again, you’ve given actual next steps versus, again, a wall, like a “Yes” or a “No”, or some sort of question that leads to a phrase that goes nowhere. These are the kinds of ways to have that conversation.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, excellent. So, you’re taking that proactive initiative to say, “I’ve done the work. I’ve done the work for you,” instead of asking, “How can I help you?” You have done the digging to discover a few valid potential suggestions, and then brought up the specific idea, and then they can approve, or veto, or defer as necessary.

Scott Gerber

Correct. It’s almost like you’re the Sherlock Holmes of discourse, right? Because, look, if they love the suggestion, you’ve created a bond. The person knows you’re really listening, you really care. Even if it’s not the exact right fit, I appreciate the fact that you’re actually making a proactive suggestion. It’s very rare people do that, and that’s why it really does stand out.
Number two – if they say, “Oh, that’s a little off-base” – what does it do? It gives you the opportunity to ask more questions of, “Why do you think it’s off-base?” and, “What part is off that I can maybe tweak in my framework that I’m thinking of in my head?” So, again, it naturally lends itself to a hypothesis, and then either, is the hypothesis true or false, or incomplete?
So, you never want to end up with a wall like, “The weather is nice, isn’t it?” “Yes. ” Okay, great, now what? That’s why these continuous conversations where you’re leading, and not being about me, or trying to talk about you all the time – that’s where ultimately the difference is made, in showing you care, not just telling. And I think that is where ultimately people leave a conversation, and know that if they see you again, they will remember more times than not, that you were actually a thoughtful individual, that you actually did express interest and tried to do your best even if it didn’t exactly work out – and if it did, even better – because you cared. How many people can say that? Not many. And I think it all starts with great conversation.

Pete Mockaitis

That is great. And so then, one of the best questions there was, “What are you working on right now?” And can you share a few of the other great questions that often pop up when you’re doing your Sherlock Holmes-ing of discourse?

Scott Gerber

Yeah, it depends on the kinds of conversation we’re in. So if it’s a personal type thing, I might say, “What’s something you’ve tried recently that’s totally out of your comfort zone?”, because again, it allows for an anecdote and a series of stories that might bring in other context like how big is their family, or where’s the place they like to travel to. Again, all these little things individually might not mean the world, but put together, you really paint a picture of someone. And if you store that information – again, it could be in the contacts at Notes section, it can be in a CRM – over time, you’re going to develop this unique profile that no one else has access to, except you, so you know how to engage further later on.
Another question I ask people all the time is, “If I see you again in a year from now, what dictates success to you in the next year?” And there’s a million ways you can go with that direction. I think the goal is when you get people to feel comfortable talking about themselves – again, not in an arrogant or celebratory sort of way, but in a way that helps them to navigate an anecdote, or a series of things that they’ve been wanting to talk about but couldn’t articulate – you really are helping to lead without being the leader. And I think that is very meaningful for not only results but to build the foundations of a smart relationship.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, that’s good, thank you. So tell me, Scott, maybe could we do a demo here? You will ask me some questions and be the Sherlock Holmes, and we’ll see what happens.

Scott Gerber

Sure. Paint the scene, because here’s another thing, just before we get started: Context isn’t just the words out of your mouth. It’s where we are, is if we’re at an event where we were both invited by a mutual friend, if we’re at a generalized networking event, is it a conference that brought us here?
So just to keep in mind, and maybe not for the demo purposes, but as people are listening to this – I want you to think about everything in an environment as context, because it’s a very different situation that if you and I are randomly at a bar having a beer, and we’ve never met, and it’s just a random Friday afternoon burning steam, versus we’re at an exclusive invitation-only event with 15 people invited, and our mutual friend is the person that brought us both there. Whole different level of conversation, right?
And so, it’s just about looking at the whole board, and not just the moment or the zone you’re existing in. So with that being said, I kick off and I can introduce myself, and you would introduce yourself, and I may ask a question like, “It sounds very interesting, what you do. What made you get into that type of XYZ?” And then you would respond.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, sure thing. Well, I’m just so fascinated about people and what it is they find has really worked for them, in terms of generating particular results. And I’ve just always had an interest and enthusiasm in this skill-building stuff, about leadership, success, influence, communication, problem-solving, creativity, ever since I was a teenager reading books about it in the library.

Scott Gerber

Were you ever somebody who had a bad example, or a setback, or a major setback of some kind where everything you thought you were doing right was actually the wrong way to do it, and that’s what led you to want to learn best practices?

Pete Mockaitis

Well, kind of. I’d say, I was interested in the information and the power within it, just because the possibilities opened up before me even before, I guess, I had to experience some setbacks. But then afterwards certainly, yeah, along the way.

Scott Gerber

Have you learned about one particular leader or two particular leaders that you think are fundamentally best-of-breed that you’d recommend to everybody?

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, from just a leadership perspective?

Scott Gerber

Just someone that whether it’s a CEO, or a politician, or an inspirational person that you’ve read about their leadership style, or way of looking at the world, and that just was a fundamental game-changer for you.

Pete Mockaitis

It’s funny. As a child, Tony Robbins was my role model, and I wanted to be just like him. [laugh] I just thought he had the coolest job that there could be, and I wanted to be him.

Scott Gerber

What’s really cool about Tony Robbins, out of curiosity? I don’t know enough about him.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, I guess what I liked is that he was just so outrageously goofy and perfectly himself. And in some ways, that could really turn people off with all the F-bombs and profanity, and it kind of turns me off at times. But in other ways, it’s like there’s a guy who’s just genuinely doing his thing. And in a way, that was kind of liberating in a sense that I got my own weirdnesses and eccentricities, and so I can express those in a large space and find success like Tony did.

Scott Gerber

And so, there you go. See, in that short period of time, what have I learned about you? Professional development, you really care about. You wanted to meet someone or learn about someone that made it okay for you to be the person you are, and to form your own framework around what leadership meant to you, and so on and so forth. And all these things start to add up, right? Not every conversation is going to end up in a situation where you’re going to just immediately help someone. That’s not always an action step. Not everybody needs help, right?
But it could be the kind of thing where it’s like, if you could have a conversation with a leader, would you want to have a conversation with someone that is totally contrarian to you, or someone that’s exactly the way you think but at a bigger level or a bigger stage? And if you were to say someone like a contrarian, my response would be, “Oh man, let me just think. Do you know XYZ or XYZ? If he’s game for it, he loves debating this kind of rubric or this kind of challenge.” Now all of the sudden, I’ve engaged you in, “What do you disagree with him about? No, what a great debate that would be.” And you know that I’m connected.
So you get the point. There’s a lot of variables and directions to go, but you’re playing with a lot of information, and you’re moving your brain as quickly as you can to figure out where you can provide value. The key for that is at the end of the day, there’s one mindset shift that you have to have. And this is the moment when I tell people you have to audit yourself. So if I went into a conversation with you like we just had, and I, in the first 30 seconds, said, “Oh God, professional development. I want nothing to do with this guy”, then I would know that my mindset is that of a transactional networker, because my instinct is to say, “This person is not valuable to me.” And if people think that way, then they have to totally reverse course, and break themselves, and deconstruct themselves down, because they’ll never be a true connector.
Whereas in the way that I think, and other great connectors think as well, is I’m trying to find the different ways in which I can understand you to be of service to you. And I’m thinking, “Where’s the value that I can provide?” – resource, person, challenge request, whatever, as you’re speaking. And that’s my initial thought; not, “Man, how am I going to figure out a way to get you to introduce me to Tony Robbins?”, if you said you knew him. So that’s the whole thing. I think people need to understand who they are at their core and what they’re trying to achieve – great people, great conversations, great outcomes that scale long-term. Short-term gains, transactional value, totally a no-no.

Pete Mockaitis

And that’s interesting, that mindset shift audit. In some ways, that gets to the very core of a human being, in terms of how generous versus selfish are they in their whole life?

Scott Gerber

Yep. There is a great quote and I’m going to muck it right now, of course, because I’m saying it off the top but, “To give selfishly is to give selflessly,” right? It’s the idea that habitual generosity is the cornerstone of what a connector strives to do – to always be of service, to always provide value.
But it shouldn’t be thought of as a tactic. This is a total overhaul of a framework of how you should live your life. And I think it’s important people understand that, that it is the marketing hacks, and the growth hacking, and these various different pedestals that social media and vanity metrics have created, that have put the wool over our eyes to think that this is the stuff that we should be caring about.
Let’s talk about power and money for just a minute here. If we’re going to go to the most successful elites in the world – those people get the game. They understand that relationships are currency. Social capital is the only currency that matters long-term. Why? Because somebody can reach out to one person one time in one phone call and do a billion-dollar deal. A thousand people can reach out to that one person and never get a call back. That’s the difference.
Everything we talk about here should be the beginnings of you internalizing, auditing, thinking, but none of these should be, “I’m going to do this exact thing five times a day, because if I do it five times a day, my ROI will be XYZ. And that’s how I should reverse-engineer my success.”

Pete Mockaitis

Certainly. So I want to dig into that a bit and talk about your whole life shifting. So, what would you recommend are some of the initial baby steps if someone has habituated selfishness, and is primarily thinking about their own wants and needs and desires from the first minute of waking up to the last minute of night, not just in conversation, but in…

Scott Gerber

In life.

Pete Mockaitis

In any number of things. That’s such a tall order, so how do you start chipping away at that, Scott?

Scott Gerber

It’s funny. First off, I’d say this is where guys like you and I have it made being family men, because we gave up selfishness if we’re good dads or husbands long ago. The second you change a diaper for the first time, life changes as you know it, right?

Pete Mockaitis

I saw a coupon for $5 off diapers today, and I was excited by this. It was like something has shifted.

Scott Gerber

My, my, how things change, right?

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah.

Scott Gerber

But again, for the every man and woman in any state of life and any level of profession – again, I start with what I said earlier – you’ve got to begin with the audit, and you can’t lie to yourself. Listen, if you’re a truly selfish individual, and you just can’t fundamentally break yourself out of that, I feel bad for you, because you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. And you can’t gamify this, because all you’re going to do is cheat yourself and cheat reality.
Number two – I would give yourself an additional audit to determine a couple of key things. The best connectors have three fundamental traits. The first one is self-awareness. They are okay to assess themselves and figure out their strengths and weaknesses. They are okay to understand and can fundamentally figure out what people think of them in an honest and non rosy-glass colored way. So that’s the first thing, self-awareness. How self-aware are you with? Would others say you’re self-aware? That’s one key thing.
The second trait is emotional intelligence. Are you empathetic? Do you actually care about other people? Can you allow yourself to care more about others, or feel for their plights, big or small, put yourself in their shoes, regardless of situation, regardless of level of severity, and regardless of your personal feelings towards whatever they deem their level of severity being?
And then finally, number three is the idea of curiosity. You have to generally be curious. You have to be someone who really doesn’t have to care about a subject matter to want to learn more about it, or feel like if you’re not an expert, you don’t care. Again, there’s going to be many people who can be very valuable to you and you to them along the way. But if you cut short because they want to talk about physics and you’re a liberal arts grad – well, you’re going to miss out on a lot of the context that could create mutual value for the long run if that relationship is to be. And so those are some of the key things you have to look out for yourself.
When you determine you want to be someone who is a connector, you also… And this is where I will say you have to be selfish in only one regard. There’s only one way you should be selfish as a connector, and that is your time. Because it is the one asset you cannot buy more of, and it’s fleeting every day. And so if someone is going to take your time, you want to make sure your investment is going to be valuable. Again, not valuable in an ROI way, but valuable even in the exchange you’re going to have, that it’s not a one-sided selling fest, that someone is really understanding the value of that time and being specific, or not just saying, “Oh, we should get together sometime,” and getting mad when you don’t because they don’t have an agenda of specificity.
Because the one thing I’ve learned in my life, and I say this in the book – there’s a saying that one of my mentors said to me early: “You cannot cheat real time. And relationships take real time.” And so for every amount of real time you spend in a real relationship, that’s less time you have for other relationships. So you are placing bets on the people you want to surround yourself with, that you feel are going to help you to make your life amazing, and you to help make their lives more amazing.
If you misplace that trust, or misplace that time, or misplace that relationship-building prowess, you could put yourself on the wrong path, or you could find yourself meaning nothing to no one instead of something to someone. And that’s really crucial, to be methodical about protecting your time. A couple of key productivity hacks that we found from some of the top connectors to give some color to what I mean by that. There are many people, I’m sure you being included in this, that get hit up all the time, “I’d love to take you for coffee.” I’m assuming that that has been an ask somebody has made of you, probably recently, right?

Pete Mockaitis

That’s right, yeah.

Scott Gerber

So, what a lot of the top connectors will do is they’ll take these people that ask them and say, “Look, I don’t have time right now, but I get people together once a month or once every couple of weeks that all want to meet me for coffee, and we all get together and have one big cup of coffee.” So here you are, taking one-on-one meetings that would take an hour, to make it ten-on-one meetings. And it’s a better experience; it’s curated because the person can say “Yes” or “No” to who’s invited, and you’ve just maximized your time, met everyone, and learned more than you probably would have in a one-on-one introduction.
Plus, on top of that, if you are the curator of that experience, you probably have a stronger relationship now with each of the original ten, because all of those ten received exponentially more value than you, had you been just one-on-one. It’s a more worldly perspective, less time, very clear, right? So that just gives an example of, it doesn’t mean you have to be less human or say “No” to everything necessarily, although “No” sometimes is the right answer. But it allows you to think about the blocks of time you have as maximizing efficiency and community-building investment. Because again, you want to go incredibly deep and meaningful, but you want to do it in a way where you can find the right time for the right people, and not lose that time.

Pete Mockaitis

Right, and you talk about the art of selectivity in the book. And so, I’d love to get your sense for what are some of the guidelines you’re using. in terms of making determinations like, “This is a person that I really think it would make sense to invest heavily in good time there.”

Scott Gerber

Yep. And first and foremost, I always want to tell people, when we talk about these things like the art of selectivity, this is not, said another way, the art of elitism snobbery. It’s not meant to be, “You only want to be with these elites, professionals, or individuals.” That’s not it at all. It’s the idea that you want to have a cross-section of people that share not only your business professional interest or industry, but your value system, the way that you spend your personal time.
Again, community is not just meant to be some goal-oriented KPI, like we‘ve been talking about. It’s how do you want to spend your time to create a meaningful life, personally and professionally? And so for example in the book we talked to Elliott Bisnow, who is the founder of Summit Series and the owner of Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah, which is a telluride for the 21st-century concept. And he talks about this idea that he wants to not just be surrounded by entrepreneurs all the time, or specific kinds of entrepreneurs in his industry, but rather health-conscious, athletic people that are big on travel and worldly conversation and share his ethics and moral and value systems.
And so it’s about creating these almost criteria sets for what do you want to be the average of in the circle you’re in, and then really figuring out who that initial circle is, and again, taking the proper time. This is not a day-to-day exercise. This is a life-long exercise of creating that small intimate circle. Mind you, that small intimate circle might eventually be dozens of people, but the goal of these spheres is to feel incredibly intimate regardless of size, because the values, the moral systems, the cross-section of value that you’ve created is only bringing in other very similar, authentic, meaningful people that those in the sphere have brought into the fold. And that’s the key for success in any time you’re trying to be selective with those you’re building strong, meaningful relationships with.

Pete Mockaitis

And I would also would like your take on that – is there a potential risk of having an echo chamber or folks who all agree with you and thus not giving yourself the mental challenge of thinking and seeing as others do?

Scott Gerber

I think that it’s interesting. I believe that there’s a time and place for any kind of relationship to be segmented in different communities, different thinking. And so for example, I have a lot of friends who are political junkies. And I purposely surround myself with people that are on opposite ends of the spectrum in a big way, because I want to have these more thoughtful debates. I don’t want just some Facebook commentary style argument, “Oh, he sucks, he’s terrible. He’s great, he’s not”, but rather like, “Why?” Can somebody actually articulate the “Why”?
And so, surrounding yourself with people that you believe to be morally and values-driven, but not necessarily share your specific vision of the world – that’s the time and place for that kind of community, whereas in certain ways, when you’re talking, say, about business… I have a group connector friends who I don’t want them to be network-y type thinking people, because I wouldn’t want that in my circle, because to me that would go against every fiber in my body of my most core professional belief.
So there’s a time and place to figure out where is the place where you want to have fundamental agreement, and where you want to allow for contrarians or total disagreement, but know the value system is aligned with your overall view of a human. You know what I mean? There are certain people you might fundamentally disagree with, but you love and trust. You’re going to fundamentally disagree with them about politics or money or something like that, but it’s not because they’re crazy or whatever. It’s just they have a different set of principles, but that are rooted in wholesome values that you can link to.
I think it’s important not to be in that echo chamber, but that’s why I also think you should never allow yourself to just be in one community at any given time. I think the value of having multiple communities that collide and create value, where you can pick and choose different kinds of conversations or relationships or depth of relationships you want to have in different sort of groupings, allows you to be a more well-rounded human being.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, cool. So you’ve got close friends you like and trust who love Hillary and who love Trump, and you enjoy the enlightenment that could come about when you engage in such discussions.

Scott Gerber

It’s the idea of respecting people, and respecting the place by which their position comes, because it can be defended or discussed in a material and mature manner. And that is the bond, right? The bond is, you might want to harden your position by being able to defend against someone else’s, or you might want to be able to open your eyes to a different perspective. I think that right now in this country, if there was more community-building around communities of dissenters that were thoughtful dissenters, we’d probably not have such a red-blue or whatever the specific subject matter or issue is, be so black and white.
I think a connector’s job – and going back to the context conversations or ways in which they run their relationships – is to always play in the gray, because that’s where you can form relationships out of what would be assumed on the surface level as an adversary. Because the adversary is the people that don’t go beyond surface level and stop there, but the most meaningful relationships might be nine out of ten points connected but one point disconnected, but those nine out of ten allow you to listen and thoughtfully respond to the one you don’t.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, I love it. Thank you. I also want to make sure we could quickly touch upon your pro tips for introducing yourself well.

Scott Gerber

So the number one way – and I know this is going to sound sort of counterintuitive, because obviously you have to be able to say who you are, what you do, and so forth – but the number one way that I enjoy people finding out who I am and what I do is by other people telling them the results we’ve driven, or their perspective on what I do. Most times, when I go to say, an event or meet with a group, I very rarely will go to a large group setting without a very core group of my influential sphere. Again, not influential in the sense of they’re big-name people, but influential in my world – people that I deeply trust and care about, my anchors in life and business.
And more times than not, they will go ahead and actually introduce me in a group that I wouldn’t know, which immediately lends credibility. We talk about this in the book. It’s called the power of association. The people you know move trust through them to the person that you’re connected to, and infinitely create stickier glue and a more immediacy to a bond than if you were introducing yourself or asked to introduce yourself.
So that’s more times than not what I like to do, because it doesn’t come off as I’m marketing to you, it doesn’t come off as I’m trying to be ego-driven or pat myself on the back or shoulder. But rather that others feel compelled enough that you and I should be connected, and they’ve gone the extra step to give the bona fides in whatever way and lens they see fit, which also lends to conversation as a natural next step, as, “Oh, tell me more about that.” Instead of you talking about yourself, you’re being asked, and that starts the conversation. So that’s my number one way, I think, that you should always look at it. Don’t just try to introduce yourself. Look for others that can really play the heart card rather than the bona fide, CV, LinkedIn profile card.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, great. Thank you. Tell me, Scott, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and then hear about some of your favorite things.

Scott Gerber

I think what’s most important to me and why we wrote the book, at the end of the day, is we really do believe that relationships are the cornerstone and the fundamental purpose for your professional and personal lives, and so many people are squandering that opportunity every day. And frankly these are, in many cases, very smart people who if asked, “Do you want to be approached this way? Would you like to be talked to in this way as a networking relationship?”, they would say “No”.
Yet, they’re guilty of doing the same stuff. That’s the irony of today. This laziness, social media-esque response mechanism, or series of frameworks that we’ve been put into by the powers-that-be, has really taken a step back for human touch. And so, my message today is whether you buy the book or not, I hope you find value in it and the connectors that were thoughtful enough to share their time and tradecraft and secrets of what they do.
It’s just to take a step back and realize when you look around you, are you happy with the relationships you have? Do you feel you could have better, more meaningful ones? And for the people that you believe are your most trusted relationships, do you really know them at all, beyond what everyone else knows about them? If you can answer those questions in an honest way, I think you’ll surprise yourself more times than not.

Pete Mockaitis

Great, thank you. So now, can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Scott Gerber

I have a quote from my grandmother, who passed a number of years ago, but she used to say, “Don’t dream to live. Live to dream.” And it sounds funny. I didn’t really understand it at the time she told me, in middle school or high school, whatever it was. But the idea that you should live a life of wonder and excitement, and wake up every day to be thrilled about what’s possible, rather than what you have to do and be a cog in the machine, I think, says a lot. The other one I mentioned earlier which is, “Real relationships take real time, and you can’t cheat real time.” I think that if you really understand what that means, you’re going to be better for it.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay, cool. Thank you. And how about a favorite study, or experiment, or a bit of research?

Scott Gerber

I think that right now, while I’m not going to cite a specific study because there’s a number of them going on right now, I would encourage people to take a look at a lot of the studies around social media’s effect on the human body and the human psyche. I think that these kinds of studies are scary and startling.
Even the founders like Sean Parker talking about the dopamine effect with social media, and what that’s doing to people, especially for dads and moms out there, to talk about the effect of social media on their children, technology on their children. I think all this ties very deeply to what we’re talking about today around building relationships, because we’re letting technology be the deciding factor, be the driver, instead of us driving the technology. We’re letting technology amplify the wrong things instead of the humanity being amplified. And I think it’s time we understand what the effects of these various platforms are.
So I would encourage people to really do their homework on all of that, whether you’re a parent or not, looking at it personally or professionally. There’s a lot of really unique studies out there right now about the effect on the brain, social anxiety, depression, all kinds of things that are very important for you to understand.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, thank you. And how about a favorite book?

Scott Gerber

Ooh, anything by Adam Grant is just… He’s just an amazing human being. Give and Take, Originals, Option B – these are all amazing books, and he’s just solid. And I hate to be on the bandwagon with millions of other fans, but I really do think that everything Tim Ferriss does is gold.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright. And how about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Scott Gerber

Okay, so I run my entire company off my iPhone. Even though we have nearly 100 people in our headcount, and everything else, I rarely go to the office. When I meet with people, it’s over coffee, or video chats and so forth. But it’s the idea that if you really think through how you use your phone every day, there are so many ways to cheat productivity time, or to develop instrumental systems that can scale your human brain, to allow you to do the things we’ve talked about today, like simple as writing notes in your contacts Notes section is what I do when I meet people.
Three to five bullets that was most compelling or very new information, so next time I meet them, I’ve got my cheat sheet of things that are valuable and important to them. It lets me continue the conversation and have key things to remember. Just little ways to go all in on your phone, but not let it control you but you control it, I think is something that I’m a big proponent of. Giving yourself the freedom to do what you will in your surroundings, your environment, and so forth, but use the tools you use every day smartly and effectively to do the things you love.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, thank you. And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours that helps you flourish at work?

Scott Gerber

I am really big on letting my team actually make decisions, explain their decisions to me, and stand by them. I offer advice, not mandates. And so when big decisions are made, I rule by consensus. It’s not a full democracy like it isn’t in any business, but I don’t rule as a dictator, so to speak. My partner and I are very methodical about groupthink and letting smart people do smart jobs, but they have to be able to defend their position, and they have to be able to take criticism and defend the points that they put out there to the idea that if I came and attacked you point for point, you could stand your own. So I think the exercise in critical thinking on a regular basis is one that I believe has fundamentally helped us to improve company culture, the business as a whole, revenue, and the customer experience for sure.

Pete Mockaitis

Alright, thank you. And is there a particular nugget you share that seems to really connect, resonate, get Kindle book highlighted, retweeted, and heads nodding when you say it?

Scott Gerber

I think that the most important thing that sort of sums up this entire interview and what we’ve been talking about for the last hour is, “Social capital is the new currency.” It’s not Bitcoin or Ethereum, or all those things that are coming out now. It’s social capital. And it’s the idea that when you have the right walled-off access to people that are valuable and find value in your company and those that you’ve surrounded them with, it’s an invaluable community that cannot be replicated, and you can’t buy it.
And I think that more people need to invest in creating these sort of very tight-knit communities. And when I say that, I don’t mean necessarily a membership group or something like that. I mean literally mastermind group, or a group of people that enjoy each other’s company, go out for drinks once a month, whatever it is. But creating the value that enables you and those you surround yourself with to have direct and indirect access to an exponential number of more people, because the people in the circle all trust one another so implicitly, is literally, in my opinion, the most valuable currency you will ever have. No one will ever beat it, and it’ll be the reason you’re successful.

Pete Mockaitis

Awesome, thank you. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Scott Gerber

Yeah, for daily communication, you can ping my partner and I on Twitter. His is @ryanpaugh, and mine is @scottgerber. And you can definitely check out the book at SuperconnectorBook.com or pick it up wherever books are sold.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And do you have a final, a parting call to action or challenge for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Scott Gerber

Don’t treat it like a job. As someone who has never worked for someone else since I went into the professional world. ‘ve always been an entrepreneur; I’ve never been a nine-to-fiver. But I’ve watched really impressive people meet me and really impressive people work for me that really put in the extra work on two key things.
One was allowing themselves to listen and be empathetic, to understand, take in, and adjust as a result of those two things. And the second is the idea that they were responsive and timely and understood the investment of time that my partner and I were making in them, and that every moment that they were given was to be valued. Especially as a family guy, sort of going back full circle to where we started – I want to watch my kids grow up and be there.
And if you can tell me in a business meeting something in five minutes versus 50, and the same outcome as a result, and I trust you as the steward of the information and action steps – go at it. Take the five minutes, not the 50; let me go watch my kids play baseball. So, understanding that putting the effort in, in community building and responsiveness and empathy, I think, are things that anyone from an entrepreneur to someone who works for others in a day-to-day job – I think that is the difference maker.

Pete Mockaitis

Beautiful. Well, Scott, thank you so much for taking this time and sharing this goodness. I hope that you sell many, many copies of Superconnectors, and that it is empowering and enriching to folks in all the right ways.

Scott Gerber

Thanks so much for the time.

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The Gold Nugget

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