746: How to Foster Deep Connection and Influence with Zoe Chance

By February 28, 2022Podcasts

 

 

Zoe Chance shares heartwarming, powerful, and practical advice for building relationships and getting people to say yes to you.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The one thing that motivates people more than money 
  2. How to exude more warmth and likability
  3. The one question that helps you get along with anyone 

About Zoe

Zoe Chance is a writer, teacher, researcher, and climate philanthropist. She’s obsessed with the topic of interpersonal influence and her science-based book is called Influence Is Your Superpower: The Science of Winning Hearts, Sparking Change, and Making Good Things Happen. It is being published in more than 20 languages. Zoe earned her doctorate from Harvard and now teaches the most popular course at Yale School of Management (Mastering Influence and Persuasion). Her research is published in top academic journals and covered in global media outlets. She speaks on television and around the world, and her framework for behavior change is the foundation for Google’s global food policy. Before joining academia, Zoe managed a $200 million segment of the Barbie brand, helped out with political campaigns, and worked in jobs like door-to-door sales and telemarketing. She lives with her family in New Haven, CT.

Resources Mentioned

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Zoe Chance Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Zoe, welcome to How to be Awesome at Your Job.

Zoe Chance
Thank you so much, Pete. Great to meet you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, you, too. You, too. I’m excited to dig into your wisdom about influence and how we can be all more awesome at our job doing that. I want to hear about one of your first jobs, cleaning audiobook covers with a toothbrush. What is the whole story here?

Zoe Chance
This was my very first job out of college. I had a degree from one of the top liberal art schools in the country, Harverford College, and I was so excited to set the world on fire but it’s actually really hard to find a job when you don’t have experience, and the job I could get hired for was working in a factory, cleaning the covers of audiobooks with a toothbrush. And the benefit of that job, the upside was that you get to listen to audiobooks, which I enjoyed, but this was one day, Pete.

And then at the end of the day, my boss says, “You know, Zoe, you did a really great job, and I bet it won’t take longer than three months or so before I can promote you up to the mailroom.” And I just left with my spirit crushed and I’m so embarrassed I ghosted them and I just never went back.

Pete Mockaitis
So, like this is one day?

Zoe Chance
Yeah. It was such an ego blow as a new college grad to be like, “Only three more months and then you can make it the lowest rung on the totem pole of the mailroom.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I guess I’m curious to know if they’re fresh off the factory line, why are they dirty enough to need a toothbrush cleaning?

Zoe Chance
You know what, Pete, you don’t want to know. They’re not fresh. Oh, sorry. No, no, no, they’re not fresh off the line. These were rented audiobooks. So, especially people who were doing long drives, like truckers and stuff would rent and return audiobooks.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, you like ketchup from the fries.

Zoe Chance
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Understood.

Zoe Chance
Hard jobs are so much harder than like… all blue-collar jobs, and I’ve had multiple, many of them are just so much harder than all white-collar jobs.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear that. Well, thank you for sharing. And you have gone up a few ranks since the mailroom so you’re now a top writer, teacher, researcher when it comes to influence. So, I’m curious to hear what’s one of the most surprising, counterintuitive, fascinating discoveries you’ve made about us humans when it comes to influence over the course of your career?

Zoe Chance
I’ve had a lot of surprises. One of the most surprising is that by reading these secret journals that students keep for my class, I’ve been teaching at Yale for a decade, and I teach the most popular class, and I’ve had hundreds of students share these journals with me in which they reflect on their insights and apprehensions and experiences with influence. What I’ve learned is it doesn’t matter how successful you are, almost everyone is uncomfortable with influence.

And this is also from conversations with executives and activists and politicians, almost all of us feel uncomfortable having to advocate for ourselves, to ask for what we want, and especially in some domains more than others, and this is even some of the wealthiest people on earth, sort of the first big thing is interpersonal influence is deeply uncomfortable.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s fascinating. Well, I was just talking to a master salesperson yesterday, Shane from a Kwame Christian’s podcast organization – shoutout – another guest on the show, and it’s so funny because I sure get the impression, he loves…he just eats up the interpersonal influence, and I don’t know maybe he’s the exception, you said almost everyone. Or, is it that those who love it are also uncomfortable with it, kind of like the nerves of public speaking and the thrill of the chase at the same time?

Zoe Chance
What I found is that most people, even if their whole job is influence, interpersonal influence, maybe they work in sales or lobbying or fundraising and are very successful at it and they love their job, but maybe it’s their daughter that they’re having conflict with and they feel really uncomfortable asking her to do her homework, clean the dishes, something like that. Or, it might be they’re uncomfortable…

I was talking to someone who is so wealthy, that he’s on lists of wealthy people, just last week, who was saying that in business it’s easy for him to ask, but when he goes to a restaurant, he would never send his food back because that makes him uncomfortable to create extra work for the people who are working at the restaurant. Many of us have comfort in work-type of domains but we’re uncomfortable in romantic situations. It’s hard for us to make a pass at someone or request something from our partner, things like that.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that is intriguing. And, in some ways, I could think about if this wealthy person happened to be like a CEO-ish type role being a steward of the shareholders’ money, basically, is kind of like what you’re doing there, you can sort of feel emboldened. I’m just totally projecting into the role of a CEO, I don’t know.

Zoe Chance
I love it. Keep going. Keep going.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ll just speculate away. You can feel emboldened, like, “Well, hey, this is kind of like my duty. I’ll do the best I can for my shareholders and for my team whose bonuses are all tied into the share price, but sending my food back, I mean, that’s just for me. Like, I’m going to make their job harder just so that I can eat something a little tastier. Like, who do I think I am? Come on.”

Zoe Chance
Yeah, I think that you’re absolutely right, and I didn’t mean to be weird or secretive. So, the guy is Ed Mylett, who’s a motivational speaker and an entrepreneur. And I’m absolutely certain that what you’re saying about CEOs applies to most people where it’s easier for us to advocate for ourselves when what we’re doing is benefiting others. That’s what you’re saying overall, right? Yeah, absolutely.

And what he was saying, Ed was saying that he was uncomfortable in a situation where there’s no reciprocity and he can’t repay someone. So, in a business context, often we can say, like, “Hey, could you do this thing for me and I can do this thing for you?” But he’s saying, “What could I possibly do for the waiter? Or, definitely maybe I can tip them. What can I possibly do for the chef that has to remake the meal? Nothing, so I’m uncomfortable asking for that.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, I hear you. Okay.

Zoe Chance
Well, can I ask you, Pete, if there’s some…and, obviously, you don’t have to tell us, but is there some area of your life that’s uncomfortable to advocate for yourself in?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, sure. You know, it’s so funny, I feel…I hope none of my landlords are listening to this. We’re temporarily renting as we moved to Tennessee less than a year ago and we’re getting our bearings, and I also have an office space that I’m renting. And I’ve been on both sides of the equation in terms of as a tenant and a landlord, and I know, as a landlord, not that I lash out viciously at anybody, but as a landlord, I think of my investment in the property the same way as I think of my investment in like mutual funds or other things that are completely passive.

And so, as a result, every time a tenant has a request, which is totally fair and normal and reasonable and should be dealt with, I’m kind of irritated. And it’s not their fault, it’s my fault for, I guess, being selfish or just looking at it a little differently, like, “Hey, Pete, real estate is a little bit different than a mutual fund, so re-align your expectations or get your property manager to do more of the heavier lifting instead of bouncing these things to me.”

So, anyway, given that, when I’m a tenant and there’s something that’s a little off, like, “Oh, there are some ants here,” and it’s sort of like, “Well, I don’t want to inconvenience them about the ants.” And maybe it’s my fault because I should’ve done a better job of cleaning up my crumbs. There weren’t very many crumbs but there’s more than zero, and so I guess I’m at least partially to blame for these ants so I really don’t want to be like, “Hey, so take care of the ants.”

And I don’t know what I fear. Is it that they’ll be like, “Well, hey, stop being a slob with your food then we wouldn’t have an ant problem,” or, “Are you seriously inconveniencing me with your ant business? Like, don’t be a whiny little baby and smash the ants like a man”? I don’t know. But I am uncomfortable advocating for myself as a tenant to a landlord unless it’s really like, “Hey, straight up, your pipe is frozen and you need to know about that, so that’s what’s going on.”

Zoe Chance
That’s an amazing example. And just about anybody listening can relate to that on at least one side of the equation. And, yeah, it’s just so deeply human that we just don’t want to inconvenience each other, and also, frankly, we don’t want to be inconvenienced. But the frame of, “I think of my investment in rental property as like an investment in a mutual fund even though I am not a landlord” just makes a lot of sense. It makes a lot of sense.

Pete Mockaitis
Totally. Well, now you got me curious, how about yourself?

Zoe Chance
Oh, gosh, I was so uncomfortable asking for blurbs for this book that I’ve just written, and the person I was most scared to ask, I was scared to ask everyone because you are asking these incredibly successful people you admire to not just write something down for you and give you their super valuable social capital, but you’re implying that they should read this book that will take like 10 hours of their life for free. And, oh, my God, the person I was most scared to ask was Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker.

Pete Mockaitis
I was like, “That’s Luke Skywalker, yeah.”

Zoe Chance
Luke Skywalker, and it was so hard to get the opportunity to ask him, and I got to have a half-hour Zoom call with Mark Hamill. And on this Zoom call, he doesn’t know why we’re having a Zoom call and he’s telling these amazing stories, and I’m so scared to ask that it gets to the half an hour and I literally haven’t said anything. He’s just been telling incredible stories and doing voices of like, oh, my gosh, he did Han Solo and The Joker. He’s a voice artist. And I was so scared, I haven’t said anything.

He was nice enough to stay on. I finally did ask him, and he very gently didn’t say yes, so I don’t have a blurb from Mark Hamill. But I think there was this just deep shame in asking for the most valuable thing from the people I most admire in the world, to ask them for so much time.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, it’s so cool. Well, now I’m so curious, how did you get Mark Hamill to agree to spend a half hour with you?

Zoe Chance
So, I used every single social tie that I had, and the best thing that I had come up with so far was a friend who was the therapy client of Mark Hamill’s brother, but I was very uncomfortable using that. And then, actually, Mark Hamill posted a tweet. He’s an amazing tweeter and everyone should follow him even if you don’t like Star Wars. He posted a tweet saying that he was doing a charity auction for a Zoom call and it happened to be for my alma mater, USC, where I went to school, and they had given me a scholarship.

And I hadn’t actually ever donated money to USC so I ended up making sure that I won the charity auction and I gave $4,000 to USC for their scholarship fund so that I could have the Zoom meeting with Mark Hamill. And can I just share something that’s unrelated to this but my book?

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s do it, yeah.

Zoe Chance
So, in my book, one of the messages that I talk about in the negotiation chapter is the idea of value-creation through three specific questions. And I know your listeners want to have tactical advice so this is a mindset of “How can I create value and long-term, lasting relationships that are fruitful on all sides?” So, a negotiation is just a conversation that leads to something more than whatever was on the table. It’s not just yes or no. There’s nothing complicated about a negotiation but most people don’t think of opportunities for negotiating because it’s just, “Do you want to do this thing, yes or no?”

So, the three value-creation questions, listeners, are, number one, “How could the situation be even better for me?” Number two, “How could it be even better for them?” And, number three, “Who else could benefit?” So, I have this opportunity to get to speak with Mark Hamill, and, already, so he’s one of my heroes. I’ve idolized him since I was three years old, and the movie came out, and it was my first movie. He’s been my hero. So, just getting to have this time is just beyond a dream come true. I’m going to ask him for a book blurb. We’ll see if that works.

I also want to see, “How could this be even better for Mark than me just showing up, random person, that he gets to talk to?” That’s not so exciting. So, I reached out on Twitter and to my Facebook friends, and said, “Hey, I have this opportunity to meet with Mark Hamill. I’m going to bring one person with me and, also, I want to bring him a video love letter. So, anyone who wants to send a 10-second clip of your message to Mark Hamill. He doesn’t respond to DMs, he’s very hard to reach, but we can send him a collective love letter.”

So, I curated this video of a whole bunch of short clips of people from all over the world sending love to Mark Hamill, just to have this be a more fun experience for him. And his wife was on the call, and she came and she watched it. It was so sweet. They loved it. And it was very hard to choose someone to bring with me but I ended up deciding, like kind of almost at the last minute, to bring a hero of mine, named Cass Sunstein who’s a behavioral researcher, who’s written a book called The World According to Star Wars.

I had never met Cass, and he posted on Twitter a link about his book and he tagged Mark Hamill. And I just reached out and I was, “Hey, Cass, I’m Zoe. I’m a big fan of your work. Have you ever met Mark Hamill?” He says no but he’s met George Lucas. And I said, “Would you like to?” So, I brought Cass Sunstein on this call with me, and he was working in the White House at the time on the Homeland Security team and another team doing creating awesomeness for Joe Biden.

So, Mark Hamill will be excited to get to meet Cass who’s written a whole book about him, and he’s coming in from the White House. Cass is excited to get to meet Mark Hamill. A whole bunch of us are excited to get to share our love with Mark Hamill, and his wife gets to come and see this beautiful montage that I’ve created. This didn’t come to the sort of tactically successful conclusion that I was dreaming of, of Mark saying yes to blurbing my book, although he said, “Send it to me and I’ll think about it,” and then he just politely ghosted me. It’s okay, Mark, I totally forgive you.

But it was such a win-win situation for everybody. It was fun, it was an honor, I got to actually now make friends with Cass Sunstein and we’re doing two events together next month, and it’s just great. So, I set up the situation so that it couldn’t fail. Whether Mark said yes or no, there was no possibility of failure. And I also had a lot of fun.

So, the value-creation question is to reinforce, “How could it be better for me?” I got to meet Cass. “How could it be better for them?” Mark gets to meet Cass and get this love letter. And, “How could it benefit other people?” It benefits Cass and the rest of everyone who contributed. So, that’s just one example of how we can create collaborative deals rather than trying to claim all of this value, and just use each other to tactically get what we want.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s beautiful. And the notion of “How can it be better for others?” is cool in that it just makes it more fun and feel good both for you and for them in terms of, “Okay, yeah, and your customers are going to like this even more,” or, “And the readers of the blog or the podcast or whatever will dig it.” And so that just feels good in terms of not only are third parties being enriched, and, hey, that’s cool for them. It’s also, I think, really does good for your relationship there. It’s like, “Hey, we have partnered and collaborated to do something good for people,” and that just releases all kinds of feel-good, I don’t know, neurotransmitters, hormones in the body.

Zoe Chance
Yeah, those are really important. And the sociological thing that we’ve done is we’re moving away from transactional norms to communal norms where it’s really important in this that you’re not saying, “I will do this great thing for you if you do this great thing for me.” That’s another thing that’s fine. We can do that in deal-making, and we do, but to shift to the dopamine, oxytocin, great neurotransmitter situation where you have a relationship with this person where we’re not beam counting and horse trading is to just say, “Hey, how could I make this better for you?”

And there are some things that I could easily do, it’s something that you do, Pete, is posting all of these links for each of the podcast interviews that you have, and there’s no reason for you to do that but you’re just saying, “Hey, listeners can benefit from the links that I share. And all of the people who I’m linking to, they can benefit too. So, why would I not do that?” But a lot of people don’t.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, it’s true. It does take more work but I guess I just always think about myself in the listener’s shoes, like, “I want that thing but I don’t know where to find that thing.” And I’ve had multiple experiences of hearing something on a podcast, like, “Oh, that’s cool.” And so, I Google it for 20 minutes, and it’s like, “I got nothing. I want to know more about that thing but it’s nowhere to be found so I guess I’m done.” It’s rare that I’d have the gumption to be like, “Hey, podcaster, you said this thing and I need it.” Well, thank you. I appreciate that.

Zoe Chance
And you’re making it easy for them to get that. And I have a whole chapter, well, half chapter, in my book about ease, because ease is the most powerful force of influence. If there’s only one thing that you take away, listeners, to this episode that you might do differently in your life is make it as easy as possible for the other person to follow through on whatever it is that you’re requesting or inviting them to do. Ease is more influential than motivation or price or quality or satisfaction.

And for nerds, there’s a metric that you can look up and maybe, Pete, you’ll link it here, there are Harvard cases and stuff that you can look at. Actually, for the link, there’s a book called The Effortless Experience, which is for real nerds.

Pete Mockaitis
Nice name.

Zoe Chance
Yeah, it’s great. And the metric is called the customer effort score. It’s basically a question that says, “How easy was it for you to do that thing that you wanted to do?” that one metric explains 30% of word of mouth and 30% of willingness to continue to do business with the company.

For customers who say it was very difficult to do the thing they wanted to do, there’s an 80% chance they’ll spread negative word of mouth. For customers who say it was very easy to do what they wanted to do, there is only a 1% chance that they will spread negative word of mouth, and that’s independent of the actual outcome.

Pete Mockaitis
That really resonates because I was refinancing a mortgage and I found a really great rate and I was excited about it. But then, oh, my gosh, this took maybe three months to get done and I kind of prompted him a few times and that really got him off there off their butts it seems, I said, “Hey, you know what, I just met a dude, Justin, like him a lot, he does mortgages. I think he’s hustling, I think he’s actually going to get this done, so I’m going to kind of switch over.” Like, “No, no, don’t, please. No.” So, that kind of got him into gear.

And so, even though I got my great rate and it’s working, I don’t feel great about them, and I have said bad things, it’s like, “Hey, man, I got a great price but they were really obnoxious, so I guess it was worth it, time, money, swap, but it wasn’t fun.”

Zoe Chance
You know what, Pete, so I just moved last year and my refinance was so difficult that I finally just took money out of my retirement account and bought the house in cash.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding?

Zoe Chance
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go.

Zoe Chance
That’s how deeply I feel your pain.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow, that is potent and you get to that point, and I got to that point a few times, just like, “Just forget it.” And I always say, “Okay, Pete, let’s take a look. It’s been frustrating but just how many hours have you spent and how many more hours could you possibly have to spend, okay? And how many dollars are we saving? That’s a great ratio, Pete. That’s better than just about anything else you do in your business so, like, take another step forward and keep it going.” But I had to like coax myself multiple times to not just throw my hands in the air.

Zoe Chance
Right. You did the right thing. I did the stupid thing where I was just so angry, I couldn’t spend any more time on the refinance, and I’ve no idea how many thousands of dollars that ended up costing me.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I appreciate your humility and your willingness to share. Well, so, ease, that’s a huge takeaway. Your book, it’s called Influence Is Your Superpower, we’ve already gotten a couple delightful nuggets. Is there sort of a core theme or big idea associated with the book you want to make sure to put out there?

Zoe Chance
The big idea of the book is that, in addition to make it as easy as possible, so if you just had one takeaway, it’s that. The big idea of the book is that what our goal should be in influencing other human beings is that they want to say yes to us. Our goal should not be that we get the thing that we’re asking for, that’s a short-term win, and the long-term win is that they want to say yes to us. They may not be able to, it might not happen, we might not get that thing in this moment that we want, but we’re building long-term relationships that are much more valuable over time. And I tell loads of stories about that.

The fear that we have about asking is that we will be making people uncomfortable and they won’t want to say yes to us, but when you have a good relationship with somebody, they want to say yes to you even if you’re asking them to come and deal with the ants or whatever that is. And you know that from the people that you have relationships with.

So, to make this practical, something that you can put into action, just focus, keenly, keenly, keenly on expressing warmth before you focus on anything else. The way our brains are designed, we have judgments of each other on two dimensions, which are warmth and competence. The warmth judgments happen first, they’re more powerful, and they’re stickier. This is especially important for us right now because we don’t get to spend as much time in face-to-face interactions when it’s easier to be expressing and perceiving warmth.

It’s actually hard not to like somebody that we’re spending time with if they’re being friendly to us, but, say, when we’re writing messages to each other, people tend to read less warmth than we intended into our written messages and they read more aggression or rank or insults than we intend. So, when we’re writing, especially we need to be very, very intentional about expressing warmth in our messages. It’s a good idea on all of our communications though.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow. Well, these are some big ideas that are hugely doable. And, Zoe, you do a great job of expressing warmth, and it’s interesting, because we were chatting just a few minutes before I pushed record. And it’s funny, I just thought, “Oh, well, she’s just so wonderful, wonderfully delightfully warm person.” That’s just who you are in your personality.

Zoe Chance
I am.

Pete Mockaitis
And so, you got that going for sure, so you got that going for you. But, now, you got me wondering, like, “Hmm, so is this something that you’ve studied and practiced and mastered?” So, this is learnable. How do we do that?

Zoe Chance
Yeah, so it is absolutely sincere and it absolutely didn’t come naturally.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Zoe Chance
I was so shy and nerdy as a child. I couldn’t communicate with anybody and that’s why I got interested in our whole field of communication. I had a theory that my voice was the same timbre as the ambient sounds of the universe, and that’s why people spoke over me and couldn’t hear me when I talked. That’s how nerdy I was.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I was thinking the totally opposite, “Thus, you have tremendous power.”

Zoe Chance
Oh, no. People literally couldn’t hear it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Ambient like you’re just ignorable because it blends into everything else. Okay.

Zoe Chance
Yeah, exactly, just background noise. And so, I liked people but I didn’t know that you actually need to express your liking to people. I thought it was enough to just feel my liking of people. And it was through acting training and learning to emote and to express emotions that I was able to train myself to express the warm feelings that I do have in my heart.

Also, though, I’ve trained myself to like people more than I used to just naturally because I wasn’t thinking of it. You’re not always…just there are lots of things you’re doing in the world besides liking people. But when I was a teenager, my mom’s friend, Eileen, was married to a diplomat, and I wanted to be Eileen because she was so cool, and she threw great parties, she went to all these parties, she had cool clothes and jewelry, and her husband, the diplomat, knew how to drive like James Bond because, I guess, they train you to do that if you’re an ambassador.

Pete Mockaitis
Just in case you need it.

Zoe Chance
Yeah, you have to. So, they were the coolest people in our life. And, Eileen, I think I was like 13, and she said, “Zoe, all you need to do to succeed in life is learn how to find one thing to like about each person that you talk to.” And she had to deal with some very difficult, difficult to like people, and she said, “The way you do it is by asking them questions. And then if you can’t find something to like by asking them questions, you just look at them, and even if it’s just their earrings, you like that.”

So, what happens when you’re looking around in a world at the people that you’re interacting with, and you’re looking for things to like, is that you become very curious about them, you get to know them more deeply, and it’s this incredibly fun and pleasurable way to live where you’re just noticing and appreciating all these wonderful things about people.

So, again, it’s absolutely sincere. I’m not conscious of…actually, I’m really not very conscious of expressing warmth now, and I’m really not conscious unless it’s a difficult situation of trying to find something to like. I just get to do these things habitually, and that’s really important about all these things that I’m teaching in my book about influence, that it’s work to practice new skills but any new skill, through practice, becomes habitual, and then it becomes effortless.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, so much there. So, we’re looking for something to like, and then, as sort of a mindset and an ongoing process, okay.

Zoe Chance
And then expressing warmth so that they know that you like them.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And so, for looking for something to like, are there any key…? Well, one thing, it’s nice when you have a goal, “Okay, I’m looking for one thing,” so it’s not overwhelming. It’s like, “Oh, I can’t.” It’s like, “You can find one thing, okay.” And then you can default to a surface-level appearance-y thing if you have to, like earrings. Tell me, are there particular super questions that tend to surface stuff that you like? Or, I guess, does this often follow any predictable patterns?

Zoe Chance
There’s a really deep question that you can ask and if they will have the conversation with you, almost guaranteed that you’ll like them no matter what. And this is from my close friend, Lalin Anik’s TED Talk, and the question is, “What’s in your heart?” It’s impossible not to like someone who answers that question for you.

That’s not the first question, usually, that you ask people, but she, actually, in her TED Talk, shows a video where she just went on a street and she just asked strangers, “What’s in your heart?” and they shared it with her. So, it really is a question that you can ask of a stranger on the airplane if you’re actually flying these days. It’s a question that you can ask in a difficult conversation or an argument that can shift the course of the argument. This is my favorite question.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And I guess that can…that really has a lot of different flavors based on the context in terms of like “What’s in your heart?” As we’re talking now, what’s in my heart is I just want people to have the thrill of discovering some powerful knowledge they can use to make their experience of life and work all the more enjoyable, both from results that they’re creating, like, “Ooh, yeah, look at that thing I did,” as well as from just the pure fun and pleasure of doing so over the limited hours we have on this planet.

Zoe Chance
Pete, I felt that so deeply that I got actually tears in my eyes.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, shucks.

Zoe Chance
Yeah, I’ve never met anyone that I didn’t like even more, even if I already like them if you asked them that question. So, anyone listening, what if you’re at the dinner table next time or a meeting with your team, and you just ask that question, “What’s in your heart?” It’s so powerful.

Pete Mockaitis
And, Zoe, if I may, what’s in your heart?

Zoe Chance
I’m feeling so surprised and so grateful to be having such a deep conversation with you right now. I was imagining that we’d be mostly focusing on very specific practical stuff that I’m happy to talk about always, but this is…yeah, it’s next level and I’m full of gratitude.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, shucks. Well, thank you. This feels very happy. And I think, though, those principles associated with expressing warmth, finding what’s something that you like, and then making things easy, are specifically and hugely valuable. And then there’s also very many different ways they can manifest and particulars.
Well, let’s dig into the ease a little bit. Can you tell us either do you have a specific checklist or series of tactics on how to make things easier or a cool story that illustrates a number of ways we can boost ease?

Zoe Chance
I have just a really simple example to give everybody the idea that you don’t have to make these things complicated, although what you’re focusing on is making it easy for the other person. And now that we’re talking about all these, I’m focusing on the lowest-hanging fruit here, and if you end up reading the book, you’ll see tons of strategies for more complicated things, like developing charisma, and negotiating, and stuff like that.

But for ease, I had a guy named Conor, who was in a workshop that I taught, who runs a speaker series, it’s a speaking business in Ireland, and he heard me say, “Make it as easy as possible.” Do you know someone named Conor who does…?

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve met a Conor who’s from Ireland who has a speaking business.

Zoe Chance
Do you remember his last name?

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve seen him speak like twice. He talked about, “Give it some gab, goals, attitudes, and behaviors, and beliefs.” I don’t know if that’s the same guy.

Zoe Chance
So, this Conor’s group, I think it’s called The Executive Institute but I have to look all of this up. So, anyway, Conor – love you – he went back to his team, and he said, “Listen, the way that our business makes a profit is to have attendees become repeat attendees, and we need to make it as easy as possible for them to come back. And what we’re doing so far is email outreach, just like everyone does, and we make the announcement and everything, we give them flyers, and then follow up by email.”

But he said, “How about this? Let’s put a flyer in everyone’s chair that just has checkboxes where you can check which talks you would like to come back to, and then we follow up by email to say, ‘Hey, you said you wanted to do this talk.’” And so, making that first step of expressing interest as easy as, “Just check the box and then drop the paper off,” they increased their profits that year from this one intervention by 11% for their company.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, with dropping some papers on seats, I mean, that’s huge. And I’m thinking about church, there’s this in Catholic churches in the US, there’s something called the Annual Diocesan Appeal in which the diocese, the grouping in a city or wherever, appeals to all the individual churches, saying, “Hey, support this stuff that helps the multiple churches and programs across the whole region.”

And so, it’s interesting, like I’ve seen it done so many different ways, where you say, “Hey, you’re asking for money, to make a commitment,” and I found, I don’t have the data at hand, but it’s just massively different in terms of if you just say, “Hey, you know, there are some envelopes over there, you can grab them on your way out or on the sides of the chairs and pews, and fill them out,” versus there’s one in every row, and, “I’m now going to walk you through what’s on the envelope.”

And, of course, it’s annoying for all of us and we don’t want to spend our time doing that, but effective in terms of it is unignorable, like, “Oh, yeah, maybe I’ll remember and I’ll get to that.” It’s like, “No, no, I’m making a decision now. I choose to give money or I choose not to give money now, and there’s no kind of, ‘Yeah, maybe later-ish.’” It’s forcing that, and I’ve heard that it’s striking, the results, in terms of what that does.

And now I’m thinking about apps and how I really love it, and it’s, frankly, maybe just laziness and toddlers and distractions, I really love it when I don’t have to enter an email address or a password to get going on an app versus it just goes. I like that a lot.

Zoe Chance
Yeah, and absolutely you use those apps more. Duolingo did studies to understand what’s the perfect level of effort to keep people engaged in learning the languages that they want to learn, and they published something that, essentially, said, the least effort possible. So, make it as easy as possible, and then people will come back. They thought that people wanted a challenge because we’re trying to learn something, and they found out, “Nope, just make it as easy as possible, the best thing you can do.”

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. Well, I would imagine, once again me speculating on their behalf, you want it as easy as possible, but you also want to feel some progress. Like, if you made it super easy, like, “Oh, I tapped ‘Oui’ and ‘Bonjour’ 30 times. Okay, I haven’t actually learned anything but that was super easy.”

Zoe Chance
Yeah, they give you that sense of progress, they also make it fun. There are some little unexpected things that pop up. Yeah, they do a lot really, really well. So, something super weird that has nothing to do with our conversation except that it’s about Duolingo is that I just learned that when the Squid Game came out and got super popular on Netflix, Netflix was having such a big cultural impact with this one show that Duolingo’s request for Korean went up by 40%.

Pete Mockaitis
Hotdog.

Zoe Chance
Isn’t that so cool?

Pete Mockaitis
It’s wild.

Zoe Chance
And because it’s so easy to learn a language on Duolingo, that’s where everybody went.

Pete Mockaitis
Wow. I feel like I should take a second look at Duolingo. It’s great stuff. Well, Zoe, this is so much fun, but tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear quickly about a few of your favorite things?

Zoe Chance
Yeah, one of the things that I encourage you to do, especially because you’re – this is to listeners – someone who listens to shows like this, as I do, trying to better yourself and improve yourself and succeed, you create so much work and so much burdens in your self-improvement that I challenge you, if you’re up for it, to do 24 hours of no.

The 24-hour no challenge is to say no to every single person who asks you for something for the next 24 hours. And it could be small, it could be big, professional, personal, maybe you want to say yes, maybe you don’t. The caveat is don’t ruin your life. So, if you’ve got a dream job offer, or your sweetie proposes to you, don’t be like, “No!”

And you can change your mind. You have the right to change your mind always, just like everyone does, but experience what it feels like to say no, and experience what it feels like to see how they react. And then if you want to then or later, next day, a year from now, you can change your mind. This simple challenge can be life changing and thousands of people that I’ve taught have found it life changing. And I don’t even want to give the takeaways because it’s something that you have to experience for yourself. So, whatever you think it will be like, I predict that you’ll have some surprises.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Thank you. Now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Zoe Chance
My favorite, favorite quote is from Pauli Murray. She’s an American feminist, black, lawyer, legal scholar, she wrote arguments for Brown versus the Board of Education, and yet, she faced such racism that even after doing that, she couldn’t get a legal job, and she worked as a typist for a white feminist Betty Friedan.

Pauli Murray said, “When my brothers draw a line to keep me out, I just draw a bigger circle to keep them in.” To me, this is the perfect description of what inclusivity means and how hard it is.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you. And a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Zoe Chance
My favorite study, I really hope is true. We’ve talked about replications and this was just published in a book not in an academic journal, but it’s a study by Richard Wiseman who’s a psychologist in the UK who wrote a great book called The Luck Factor. What he did was recruit people who said they were really, really lucky, and people who said they were really, really unlucky, but it was in a long survey, and I had no idea why he was recruiting them.

He brings them to the lab, and he’s trying to study how does luck happen. When they come to the lab, he gives them a section of a newspaper, and says, “Count the photographs and then tell me how many there are.” So, the unlucky people look through the section of the newspaper, they count the photographs, and they come back and they say, “There are 16 photographs.” “Okay, great” and they move onto the next part of the study.

The lucky people who told him they were really lucky noticed the half-page ad in the section of the newspaper that says, “Mention this ad to the experimenter for a chance to win £500.” They were luckier. They were right when they said that they were luckier people. But my interpretation, at least, it’s not that God was making them luckier, but they were more open to opportunities around them.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah, that is so good. Thank you. And a favorite book?

Zoe Chance
My favorite book is called Love Does, it’s by Bob Goff. This is a Christian book, but when I first read it, I was not religious at all. And so, if you’re not Christian, I don’t think you’ll find it annoying. Bob Goff is the most audacious and inspiring asker I’ve ever come across. And for anyone who reads that book, go to the chapter called “The Interviews” and it will blow your mind.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?

Zoe Chance
I love my reMarkable tablet that I’ve been taking notes in during this conversation. I’m an absent-minded professor, and I use all these notebooks and papers, and lose my stuff, but I don’t lose it anymore, and I feel lost without it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And a favorite habit, something you do to become awesome at your job?

Zoe Chance
When I’m writing, I need to clear my mind before writing, and I’ve developed a technique that I call “My Nietzsche Journal.” Nietzsche, the philosopher, said that the purpose of being human is to become someone who does not deny, so to rid ourselves of self-deception. And when I’m sitting down to clear my mind, I just write a whole page of one-line prompts that start, “I do not deny. I do not deny. I do not deny,” and I just get all the stuff, all the junk, out of my brain.

Pete Mockaitis
And is there a key nugget that you share that people quote you on often?

Zoe Chance
Probably the ease one, that the bedrock principle of influence is that people tend to follow the path of least resistance.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Zoe Chance
Please come on over to my website www.ZoeChance.com. That’s Z-O-E-C-H-A-N-C-E.com. And there’s book, newsletter, other fun stuff, and silly stories and things like that. I would love to be friends.

Pete Mockaitis
And do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?

Zoe Chance
I think I’ll just double-down on the 24 hours of no challenge but I gave them already because I don’t want to be heaping up more homework on them.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Zoe, this has been a delight. Thank you. I wish you much luck with your book Influence Is Your Superpower and all of your adventures.

Zoe Chance
Thank you so much. And I look forward to following your podcast so I can be more awesome at my job.

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