This Podcast Will Help You Flourish At Work

Each week, I grill thought-leaders and results-getters to discover specific, actionable insights that boost work performance.

374: Future-Proofing Your Career through Three Key Skills with Stephen Warley

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Stephen Warley shares the critical skills that keep you valuable in a changing work landscape.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Two exercises for increasing self-awareness
  2. Four key questions to ask yourself every single day
  3. Why–and how–to embrace discomfort better

About Stephen

Stephen Warley has been self-employed for more than a decade, and he shares how to build the life skills that matter for the new nature of work. Stephen helps people build self-awareness  and other skills through his writing and coaching work at Life Skills That Matter.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Stephen Warley Interview Transcript

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

Stephen Warley
Thank you so much for having me on. I enjoyed meeting you at Podcast Movement.

Pete Mockaitis
Whoohoo!

Stephen Warley
It’s fun geeking out over work stuff because we all do it.

Pete Mockaitis
It is. Totally, totally. And apparently you said I was a bit more wild at Podcast Movement than I am behind the microphone.

Stephen Warley
I know. You’re just so uber professional here on the mic, but let me tell you folks, when you meet Pete in person, he’s the guy you want to go have a beer with, let me tell you.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s funny, I don’t feel uber professional on the mic. I think I’ve said some things that are pretty zany from time to time. But I guess I am – I really do feel a sense of what a privilege it is to be talking to such brilliant people, who have something to share and what a duty I have to get the goods to show up. I guess that does naturally bring a little bit of business likeness into the equation.

Stephen Warley
But I do like how you just described that too. It’s just showing how much you really care about what it is that you do and the effort that you put behind it and the respect that you have for your listeners, for yourself, and for the people that you bring on the show. I really appreciate that.

Pete Mockaitis
Aw, shucks. Well, thank you. But let’s start with something zany. First of all, I understand you don’t like to use any kind of paper. What’s this about?

Stephen Warley
I do use toilet paper, folks. I tried a bidet. I can’t do it. That’s too far for me.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s the first time bidets have come up on the program. Cutting edge.

Stephen Warley
And toilet paper. Yeah, I think long ago before it was kind of this movement of minimalism, I just don’t like clutter. I like order. I truly believe that a cluttered physical space is a direct connection to my mind, therefore my mind is cluttered.

One thing I always tell people to declutter any space in your life is you’ve got to get rid of that paper first. And it’s never been easier to do that because we can automate and digitize like everything now.

Now once in a while, I will say this, I do like sending cards still because nobody does that anymore, so when you do send somebody a card in the mail, it’s a big deal. They text you about it. They call you about it. They even put it on social media

Pete Mockaitis
The paper, it’s not so much that you don’t like writing on paper, you just hate the clutter that paper contributes into your visual field.

Stephen Warley
Absolutely. I write very minimally on paper. Even when I journal I prefer doing an electronic note on my phone or a spreadsheet – we can talk about that, yes, journaling on spreadsheets, it’s possible – or a Word document. Because it’s also because of, again, the searchability of digital versions of your thoughts and your writing can help you see things in many different ways as opposed to having it all written in a journal.

Pete Mockaitis
Very cool.

Stephen Warley
There’s like an …. There’s people who are like, “I love my journal.” Well, good. Journaling is a super important life skill. Keep writing. Get it out of your head. No matter how or where, you want to put it on a screen or on a piece of paper.

Pete Mockaitis
Noted, thank you. Well so let’s talk about – you’ve got your company. It’s called Life Skills That Matter. We like skills that matter over here. What are you all about there?

Stephen Warley
Well, I am trying to help people understand that work as they know it is fundamentally changing because I think we all start hearing about “Is automation, AI, going to take all of our jobs? There’s just even written recently Verizon is offering their entire workforce, 44,000 employees, a buyout package. I just got a text from a friend who works at Red Hat and he’s like, “Oh, they just got bought by IBM. I just got laid off.”

And even in a good economy, we’re seeing these shifts. The work in the way that we were taught by our parents or even sometimes still to this day, it’s changing. We can get into how I think it’s changing, but I want to let people know is that you can do something about it. You can survive and thrive in this emerging new economy.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, now we talked about work changing. I know we could wax – I don’t know if it’s poetic – but we can talk about trends and the robots and artificial intelligence, but maybe could you share – you’ve got a ton of numbers, stats on your website, which I dig.

Could you give some of the most hard hitting evidence that says “Oh no, for real, it’s happening now and so here’s the proof in terms of X percent of this or Y percent of that” or kind of what is the transformation and just how fast is it coming here?

Stephen Warley
The one that blows my mind – there’s two that I’m going to give you. The one that blows my mind was from the US Census Bureau, so pretty conservative, the US Census Bureau. They’re not going to say crazy stuff.

2013, they came out with a stat that said that as of that year 65% of the children born in 2013 would be doing work that had not yet been invented. Let that soak in people. That has never happened before in human history. That is how fast our economy is changing, that people born right now will be doing work that has not yet been imagined or invented.

Pete Mockaitis
That is wild. Yeah, the Census Bureau is not a fantastical sci-fi kind of a place. It’s sort of hard demographics that they see. 65% that’s a good, just about two-thirds majority. Okay.

Stephen Warley
I’ve got one more from the US Census Bureau.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s take it.

Stephen Warley
If I can because, again, just again to that point we’re making because it’s a lot of gravitas there, the US Census Bureau, that in 2016 to 2017, single founder or solopreneur businesses, that means there’s a business and there’s only one person running it, those making over a hundred thousand dollars increased by about 5% and the same is true for those making over a million dollars. Again, this has not happened before at that rate.

Pete Mockaitis
In one year, that number of sort of solo – solopreneur is what you’re saying here?

Stephen Warley
Like you and I. We’re running our own business. We have no employees. Maybe you do.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’ve got full time contracts, so ….

Stephen Warley
That’s a little different.

Pete Mockaitis
It is. Yeah, it is.

Stephen Warley
We have teams. We can get into all of that. But this is a solopreneur business. There’s only that. They are recognized as a single-founder business. The rate of those businesses that are making more money over hundred thousand dollars and a million dollars is going up significantly.

Again, something we haven’t seen before and is increasing because of automation. A lot of times we see the downside of automation, but the upside of automation, it’s never been easier to work for yourself and to make more money.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. Okay. That’s your take is that many more people are going to find themselves in a self-employment situation at least for a portion of their careers is one of your contentions.

Stephen Warley
Posits. Let’s couch that a little bit because I’m not as crazy as you might read on my website. So here’s the deal.

I think we have all been educated in a system that taught us to be employees for the most part, myself included. I believe there’s a much greater population of people that have the capabilities to work for themselves but they were taught that they couldn’t. They were taught they didn’t have what it took. Their self-confidence to a certain extent was systematically eroded to make sure that they continue to be employees.

I’m saying to people, you might have the capability. I was that person. I never thought I’d ever work for myself. Then economic reality, getting laid off Election Day 2000. By the way my entrepreneur birthday is coming up November 7th. I’m excited to celebrate that. I’m going to be 18 in entrepreneur years.

Pete Mockaitis
….

Stephen Warley
So that’s what I want to put out there to folks that this could be an option for you. Again, because things have changed so much in terms of the work that we can be doing, that we can have these single-founder businesses and we have technology to help us run those businesses now and there’s just so many more infrastructure growing every day, co-working spaces and communities popping up all over the place, especially in the last ten years to help this new growing workforce.

It’s estimated, depending on where you look, but about a third of the American workforce right now is considered to be self-employed in some shape or form. In the next decade that is supposed to be just over 50%. We are trending towards a majority independent workforce and we have not necessarily on a mass scale been taught how to thrive in that. That’s what I’m trying to help people understand and to do.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. You’ve identified a number of particularly essential skills, life skills that matter, if you will, in this context that I think would be great to kind of dig into a bit. These are helpful if you do find yourself in a self-employed situation, even if you don’t. I think you can’t lose by digging into some of your deep expertise in these particular skills. Can you lay them out for us?

Stephen Warley
Yeah, I just want to make one other note about self-employment. Even if you are going to be conventionally employed, continue to be a W-2 employee, you’re going to function much more like a self-employed person. I call it the decision shift.

Incrementally, maybe you even notice this over the last five years, you’re being asked to do more work or be responsible over different aspects of your work. Even telecommuting, you’re going to work from home. Where are you going to work? How are you going to organize your work day? That is also a shift.

It’s almost like there’s a blurring of the lines between what it means to be a freelancer or a consultant or a full-time employed person. That’s the reality that all of us need to get ready for. That’s a lot of these skills that I’ve identified. I think a lot of times first people are like, “Oh my gosh, this is happening. What do I do about it?”

The first thing I tell people is do the work that you want to do, not do the work that you’re supposed to do. I think a lot of us haven’t really understood, like, “What do I really want to do with my life?” The skill that I often tell people is this most important life skill that is going to teach you about yourself and about your potential, your possibles, what you really want to do. It’s self-awareness. And again, Pete, the most important skill in my book and not taught to us. It’s kind of crazy.

Pete Mockaitis
Well that showed up again and again actually in terms of high-performers in corporate environments. That’s one of the top things they’ve got going for them is self-awareness. Tell us, how do you define it and can you paint a picture of what it looks like when you’ve got it versus you don’t?

Stephen Warley
Sure, that’s great. Self-awareness is the ability to observe your actions without judgment and to see the consequences of those actions to then decide “Do I want to keep having those results or should I start changing some of my behaviors and habits?”

Let me repeat that. Self-awareness is not self-judgment. It’s not about judging yourself. It’s about looking at yourself almost as if you’re hovering over yourself from a third-party perspective, an outer body experience.

Pete Mockaitis
I’m seeing the UFOs right now.

Stephen Warley
Right. It’s like somebody is watching – Pete’s watching himself right now, which is very hard to do. It’s very hard to – a big part of self-awareness is about getting really honest with yourself and to say, “You know what, Stephen, if I continue – if I go out every night and I’m getting these results and this is how it’s impacting my work.”

It’s not about beating yourself up that you’re doing that. It’s about asking yourself, “All right, I have this goal of making X amount of dollars or taking this big trip or having a family or buying a house or whatever it is, so is going out every night is that helping me or is not helping me?” That’s the type of kind of observation I would want people to practice self-awareness with.

Getting good at self-awareness – I have two exercises for people. One, is to start bringing awareness in your day-to-day life as we all do this, bring just self-awareness to when you just react, when you just react, whether you just get super excited or you get super angry, you get super frustrated, just notice when you have an instant reaction and you didn’t really think about it.

Because a lot of times those instant reactions aren’t very helpful. They kind of cause miscommunication. If you can start bringing awareness that you’re doing it.

Then the next step after that is understanding what’s the trigger. Where is that coming from? Why am I doing that? Those are the types of questions we want to be asking ourselves. I see this pattern of behavior in myself, why do I keep doing it? Where does it come from?

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really connecting for me right now because I notice – for example, there’s – so right near where I live there is this graphics shops. It’s kind of independent. I was pretty excited to see that it was going to start to open. You see people bringing in the copy machines and building some shelves. It was looking pretty good.

I was like, “Oh yeah, this is going to be great. Maybe I’ll use that as a sort of mailbox that I can have publicists and sort of a public address to go to. Or maybe that will serve as a UPS drop-off spot, so I won’t have to truck it so far or pay the pickup fee when I’m sending stuff via UPS.” I sort of started to imagine how wonderful this graphics shop will be in our life.

I even said “When are you going to open?” They’re like, “Oh yeah, maybe next week.” I was like, “Oh cool.” I got excited. But that was more than a month ago and it’s not open. When I pass this graphics shop, I have a reaction. I’m just angry. Not like enraged, you know? I don’t scream or huff and puff, but I’m irritated. I’m like, “It’s still not open. What’s the deal? How come it’s not open?” I don’t care for that. I don’t really need that irritation in my life.

Stephen Warley
So why are you irritated?

Pete Mockaitis
Well, yeah. I haven’t quite gotten to the very bottom of it. I think part of it is – at the very surface level, it’s just sort of like, “Oh, people should live up to their word. He told me it would be here next week and it’s not there,” but more than that I think it’s that I – I think the truth is I just sort of feel kind of overwhelmed maybe too often in terms of all this stuff.

It’s partially my own doing. I get so excited by all these ideas and I chase after them. It’s like, oops, didn’t set aside some time for this or that. Then I view that this graphic shop is kind of an opportunity to have that kind of just little extra bit of time, whether it’s – because I’ve walked to a UPS drop off spot several times over the last few months, so I just sort of imagine that this graphic shop represents to me maybe a half hour a month that is reclaimed for me.

Stephen Warley
This is what I’m hearing from Pete – because this by the way is an amazing example of self-awareness. And I’ll tell you how if I wasn’t here how he could get to where I’m probably going to hopefully bring him a little bit more quickly. This is not about that graphic shop.

Pete Mockaitis
….

Stephen Warley
It is not. It’s not even about the drop off at UPS. What Pete is – kind of now that he’s gotten a little bit more honest with himself, he already kind of started to say. He’s like, he’s feeling overwhelmed and he might need to look at all of his work activities and be like, “Okay, it’s really not about the UPS store. Like I’m doing a lot of stuff. What do I really need to be doing here and maybe what do I need to be doing less of or what I can I automate, what can I delegate?”

That’s something, Pete, that’s a whole other probably episode. People never stop to reflect once a month, once a quarter, even if you’re working at your job of “What are my work activities?” And then saying to yourself, “Which one should I eliminate?” because there’s stuff that we’re always accumulating or people are asking us to do and all of the sudden you’re like, “Why am I even doing that anymore?”

Maybe your boss, your manager, your team says, “I don’t even know. Stop doing it.” Or even you have to do that to yourself when you’re working on your own like Pete and I are.

Number two, can I automate stuff because there’s all kinds of tools that are pretty low cost or free that can automate a lot of what you do now.

Number three, what can I delegate? Even if you’re the low man or woman on the totem pole there, you’re kind of way down on the food chain, you could be surprised. There’s lot of opportunities to delegate stuff that you really shouldn’t be doing to other people.

Finally, you schedule what’s left. That’s the stuff that you should be really focused on doing. And you will feel such relief if you can do that. That’s kind of a very strategic self-awareness exercise that you can turn into a regular part of your work life.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes. So we jumped right to some strategies associated with how does one handle overwhelm, which is great. I guess I kind of want to dig into some of the broader perspective in terms of I love what you said that when you see a reaction, it’s like it’s just there, then that is sort of fertile ground for digging in and gaining insights and getting somewhere.

So how do we go from the place of “I’m irritated that this graphic shop hasn’t opened yet,” to the self-awareness, insight that’s really going to be helpful and transformational? Are there kind of key questions that you dig into?

Stephen Warley
Absolutely. The most important and the most effective self-awareness practice that I’ve come across is journaling. It’s writing. I know you hear that word. There’s baggage with it. When you say meditation, the walls go up. Hear me out.

There’s lots of different ways to journal. You can do a free write. Some people like that. Sometimes people want prompts. Sometimes – actually I do an Excel spreadsheet sometimes when I’m feeling really negative and I’m aware that I am. I actually kind of put all these different thoughts into a spreadsheet.

I say, “What time of day did they occur? Who are they about? Who was I with? Where did they occur? What was it about? What do I think the trigger might be?” Then I go back a week later to look at those thoughts and you can start to see patterns and trends. That’s the true gift of having a writing habit every single day is that you get to communicate with your subconscious mind, your inner voice.

Because we try to think our way out of everything. We overuse our rational mind and we do not use our subconscious mind, our gut enough. We really need to use both parts of our brain because oftentimes your subconscious knows what you really want before your conscious mind does. The conscious mind is kind of like the one who’s going to get the job done. The subconscious mind is your motivation, your purpose, what gets you really excited.

When you’re writing, I often recommend looking back after a week, after a month to look for those patterns and trends, especially if you’re somebody like, “I want a big career change, but I have no idea what I want to do.” Start journaling about it. It’s a way to start communicating with that subconscious, so you can start to uncover things.

What it does, it allows you to see your thoughts from a different perspective almost as if somebody else was going to give you this information. So it’s kind of like you’re coaching yourself. Does that make sense, Pete?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yes, thank you. All right, that’s a self-awareness side of things. What’s the next skill?

Stephen Warley
By the way, I have a daily growth journal. This will be a little segue into the next important skill that we’re going to talk about. Four questions you want to ask yourself every single day, especially if you really want to make a big change in your life or you feel like you need some more focus.

Number one, what did I learn about myself today? Pete might have journal about his frustration with this graphic store not opening up and what that was all about.

Number two, did I learn something new today in terms of helping me learn my work better, get better at my craft or get better at whatever my profession might be?

Number three, did I meet somebody new to you? This is something that we’re going to talk about as the next most important skill.

Finally, did I create something today? That’s a lot of things. Especially when we are working in jobs, we are constantly always having to live up to other people’s expectations and we are under this unfair regime of perfectionism that you really need to start thinking about stuff in your own life.

If you really want to learn, you’ve got to learn by doing, not just by listening to other people and reading. You’ve got to see how it feels for yourself. You’ve got to take that imperfect action. You’ve got to do stuff on the side. Or maybe you have a forward-thinking employer that’s going to allow you to get messy from time to time.

But let’s get back to that next most important skill and that’s outreach. You’ve probably seen this quite a bit, Pete, especially on this show or the people that you work with. When do people generally think about reaching out to people?

Pete Mockaitis
When they need something immediately.

Stephen Warley
Yup, when you need something. Guess what? After you’ve been at your job for two – three years, maybe five years, maybe longer and you get laid off or you quit or whatever, all of the sudden you notice that the only people that you really know professionally are the people that you’ve been working with and they’re really not going to be that much of a help to you, maybe a couple of them. Maybe they’ve moved on to somewhere.

The thing that can never stop and it’s never a to-do list item, it’s never part of your job search process or whatever it is that you want to do is you’re always on the outlook to meet new people. Even if you tend to be more introverted, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to meet people.

I always tell folks, you never want to meet people when you need something because they can smell it a mile away. You want to meet people just like you make friends. You want to be drawn to interests or topics or subjects that really light you up.

I encourage you whether you see something on social media or overhear in conversation out and about, jump in. Let them know why you might be excited about that or an idea that you have because that’s how you build true, genuine connection with people.

That’s really the first step when you want to get a job or you’re building a business that you want to be very clear with your values and your purpose and your mission about who you are and not feel bad about it. Don’t feel like you have to change because you want to attract people that also share that same vision, that same interest, those same values.

Pete Mockaitis
For these people, what are your top tips in terms of finding them and connecting with them in great ways?

Stephen Warley
My unconventional advice is this. I don’t believe there’s a one-size-fits-all way to reach out. I actually have a whole worksheet that I use in my 30-day accelerator to help people understand how do they like to reach out to people.

The questions that you want to ask yourself. Do I like to meet people online or offline more? Do I like to meet people in large groups like, go to conferences or like smaller, intimate groups or do I like one-on-one interactions? How frequently do I like to interact with people? You know maybe it’s like once or twice a week, but maybe it’s like five times a day. Even in social media, start bringing attention to which social medial platform do you like more than others and really get better and give yourself over to that.

So I think broadly speaking, that is what I would recommend to people is to actually make the best use of who you are as an individual human. Bring awareness that you already have a habit for interacting and engaging people. But just start calling yourself out. Do some journaling about how do you do it, how can you make it better, and how can you bring awareness to make sure that you’re doing it all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
I dig it. Yes. So you mentioned several different formats. Maybe could you mention some perhaps overlooked or unconventional formats because I think sometimes we think, oh mixer, cocktail party, business cards, that is – networking. We just sort of paint a picture as to what that word sparks for people. You’re saying, “Oh no, hey, you’ve got the online thing as well. You’ve got the kind of small group thing.” What are some of your favorite approaches or manifestations where this comes into play?

Stephen Warley
Your everyday life. Don’t be afraid. I do this all the time at my co-working space, in lines at grocery stores. I live in Boston; I could be on the T. If I overhear a conversation that is super interesting to me, I chime in and I jump right in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met people that way. Sometimes it goes nowhere and sometimes it really could lead to an opportunity or they give me another idea about somebody that I could meet.

I think one of the unfortunate things that we do is we compartmentalize a lot of these different activities. What I’m always telling people, the folks that I work with is, how to start integrating that just in your daily life. Like, there’s opportunities to meet people all the time, just start being more open to them. Right now we’re so closed off.

Yesterday, I treated myself – it was Halloween – after work I went and got a beer at a local coffee shop slash brewery. I generally don’t have my computer or my phone, but I was actually working on a presentation. But I couldn’t believe these four women sat next to me, who were in their early 20s. They all got there. They all said hello to each other and for the next 90 minutes they just looked at their phones and their computers the entire time and didn’t talk to one another.

Pete Mockaitis
Are you sure they weren’t choosing to have a productive work session inspired by shared culpability?

Stephen Warley
They were wearing costumes, which made it – I wanted to take a picture of it. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, talk to each other.” And not saying that – I’m being unfair because there were plenty of other great conversations going on throughout the space.

But a lot of times I think we – all of us even if somebody’s an extrovert like myself, if you didn’t guess that already, a lot of times it’s like kind of that home base, that safe, that security blanket where you whip out your phone because nobody’s talking to you. You almost feel like you go back to middle school sometimes. You feel like, “Oh, other people are talking to everybody and I’m talking to nobody,” so now we have a phone so we can look like we’re doing something.

Instead of picking up our head, kind of – don’t be creepy, but you can be listening on other things and jump in, jump into a conversation. Go for it. I challenge you next time in the next 48 hours if you hear somebody say something that really energizes you, really sparks you or you feel like you have something to add to that conversation, jump in.

Pete Mockaitis
What I dug about what you said there in terms of compartmentalizing, ….

Stephen Warley
Yes.

Pete Mockaitis
Indeed with Halloween we took precious baby Jonathan for his first trick-or-treating experience.

Stephen Warley
What did he go as?

Pete Mockaitis
He was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Michelangelo, to be precise. It was so cool, I hadn’t chatted with my neighbors much at all in the year that I’ve lived here, but then in the context of Halloween and trick-or-treating, suddenly that’s just normal. Yes, you show up at someone’s home and you talk to them for a moment and take their candy. They were so cool. I was like my neighbors are awesome. It was like, how come we never talk to each other?

Stephen Warley
Or now, you can call yourself out, how many times did you pass each other, but you guys, you were both so busy with your lives that you couldn’t even just do, “Hey, how’s it going? How is your day today?”

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you. Yeah. A lot of times we’re in motion, but you can at least say hello. It was ….

Stephen Warley
I’m in Boston. I make it when I walk to my co-working unit, it’s about a two-minute walk, I look people in the eye and I smile at them because people don’t do it. We are so closed off from each other. I know that sounds like really timeless advice, but be aware of that. Realize that in our modern, fast-pace life, we’re losing that.

We’re not doing that and that is a simple thing that you can be doing all the time to kind of be practicing your outreach muscles, so that way you’re always meeting new people, building up that community, building up your network. That way when you do need people, you have that to fall back on. You’ve been developing and nurturing it all along.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. You’ve got another key skill about embracing discomfort.

Stephen Warley
Yeah, here’s the deal folks. Work is changing in such a way that it is changing faster than ever before. Remember US Census Bureau stat about babies born in 2013, how they’re going to be working on something that has not yet been invented. You’re no longer going to be hired just to do something and be trained to do something and do it over and over again.

A lot of times people – I don’t know if you get this Pete – but a lot of times people ask “What skill can I learn that I can have for the next ten years?” I’m like, “There isn’t any. They’re gone. Done. Over.” “Not even coding, Stephen?” I’m like, “Yeah, it’s changing all the time.” The timeless skills are these life skills that I’ve identified like self-awareness, purging, even letting go. We haven’t talked about that. But also – reaching out.

But also one of them is embracing discomfort. I think a lot of times we want everything so secure I think that’s why a lot of us don’t consider the option of having a side hustle or maybe considering other forms of work like freelance, consulting or working for ourselves as a single founder because we are so afraid of losing everything, having that security lost.

I will tell you as somebody who’s worked for himself for 18 years, the idea of having all of my money come from one entity and that they can lay me off at any time or fire me, that freaks me out. That does not sound like security to me. I love having multiple income streams. That’s where I think more and more of us need to start thinking about. Even if you have a primary job, you might want to have a backup plan. You might want to start playing around with something.

Or if you have a job where you feel like you’re not growing or you’re not – maybe you’re just not happy but it’s decent money and this is what you’ve got to do for the next six months or a year, outside of work you can start challenging yourself. You can be learning new skills. You can be doing experiments. You can be taking imperfect action. You can do messy things.

It’s that creation habit once again. What are those four questions that you’re asking yourself? Maybe you want to learn how to cook. A lot of times it doesn’t have to be a direct professional skill that you’re going to figure out how to monetize.

Sometimes we need to be doing other types of skills that we’re not exactly sure if it’s going to make us money or not, but we just enjoy them. It actually helps us learn about ourselves, reconnects with our self.

I love gardening. I don’t make any money off of that, but I tell you one thing, if you are a gardener like weeding, planting, doing all that stuff when you’re working through a lot of mental stuff that I’m going through all the time because of the work that I do, it helps me process that so much more quickly.

And that’s the other thing. Humans were not designed to sit in front of a freaking screen on our butts for eight hours a day. You have to move a lot more. I see that as a future work trend of how do we start evolving so we are moving more again. We’re not just trapped in cubes.

Pete Mockaitis
It seems like the cool theme there when it comes to that embracing that discomfort is that it is sort of the meta skill or the uber skill in terms of if you get comfortable being uncomfortable, then you are more agile and ready to learn the next thing when you need to learn it.

Stephen Warley
That’s why I tell people even if you want to work – and there’s nothing wrong with working for somebody else, nothing. I have had a lot of great experiences. I think it’s still a great way. I think looking at a job as a paid apprenticeship if you can look at it that way. There’s different seasons to your career. Sometimes you might work for somebody else; sometimes you might work on your own.

But I do believe that if everybody, honestly, I really mean this, Pete, if everybody could give themselves the chance of working for themselves for just one year, just one year of your entire career, that is going to teach you – I think it is the most elaborate, effective, intense way to really learn about yourself, your potential and your opportunities. It really gets you out of your comfort zones in lots of different ways.
You’ll never look at your money, your time, your energy, your connections, your self the same way again after that year. And that’s why I guide people through a 30-day accelerate to really give them that intense experience of what could this look like, what does it feel like even after just 30 days?

Also, this is a great study from the University of California at Berkley. It was from 1979 to I believe 2015 or ’16. They tracked 2,500 – no, I’ll get the exact – I believe it was 5,000 adults. Adults that tried to work for themselves, yet failed and then they went back to the job market.

Guess what? They earned on average 10% more in income than their peers who had the exact same characteristics, exact same skillset. The one difference is one tried to start a business and failed and one didn’t. The one that failed got rewarded. Isn’t that amazing?

Pete Mockaitis
That is fascinating. I hadn’t heard that one. Thank you.

Stephen Warley
The reason behind that is employers feel like you’re no longer just in your little silo of your skill. You have a greater understanding of the entire context of the business so that way you can talk to a greater number of people within the company, so that’s going to be better for the business.

Number two, it shows that you’re a little bit more of a risk taker, that you want to learn, that you have curiosity, that you have initiative. You’re not just going to wait to be told what to do. Guess what? The future of work is not about sitting around and waiting to be told what to do. People are going to hire you because things are changing so fast that you better be ready with some ideas. You better be ready with some experiments to find an answer to a new challenge.

Pete Mockaitis
Another driver I think that might be behind that 10% bump if you have a year of self-employment could just be even from the negotiating, making an offer side of things.

Stephen Warley
Absolutely.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s kind of like they’re thinking, “Now this is a person who is totally cool, not accepting something that doesn’t work for them and doing it their own way, so maybe I had a range in my head, I’m just going to error toward the higher end of that range because I might be told no.”

Stephen Warley
But again, they did something that was really uncomfortable I think and negotiations is very uncomfortable for most people, but when you work for yourself, you really understand the value of every single minute of your day in a way that you don’t as an employee. I’m serious. I didn’t realize it either. And the value of every single dollar.

That way you are going to become that much more of an effective negotiator if you do go back into the job market for their reason that you just cited.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Well, now let’s talk about a few of your favorite things. Can you tell us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Stephen Warley
I say a mantra to myself every single morning. Everything is temporary. I’m sure that’s some ancient Chinese wisdom, but it’s very liberating hearing that. Whether something is good or something is bad, everything in your life, no matter what you’re feeling right now, it’s temporary and it will change. You’ve got to get ready for it.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Stephen Warley
My own experiments. One reoccurring experiment that I do is I always like to take something out of my life. I like to stop drinking for 30 days. I like to not watch television or video for 30 days or not use a social media platform for 30 days.

Why I like to do this because it’s just clear, it’s focused. It also kind of shows me the role of that thing in my life. Sometimes I realize, whoa, for somebody who I feel like I’m not addicted to these things, there is a little bit of an addiction going on there. I call myself out on that.

But also the effect that it has on the rest of my life. When I stopped watching television for four months once, the first time I did that, I realized that I started waking up an hour earlier every day and I was much more energized because I started going to bed earlier.

Also, they’ve done a lot of studies, that blue light, the screens. You really shouldn’t be looking at any type of screen about an hour before you go to bed because the blue light that it projects out kind of screws with the chemicals in your brain and messes up your melatonin.

To really learn about yourself, kind of another self-awareness exercise, do some experimentation on yourself, just try removing one thing from your life and to see the effects that it has on the rest of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Cool, thank you. How about a favorite book?

Stephen Warley
First book I read after getting laid off, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, completely changed my mind about money that the middle class does buy a lot of their stuff with debt. You’ve got to stop doing that. You’ve got to buy stuff with assets. Make your money, invest in assets and let those assets buy you your fun stuff.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. How about a favorite tool?

Stephen Warley
My favorite tool – people are going to laugh. I will tell you the great thing about this tool. It’s free. You can use it in every part of your business and you can use it to journal. My favorite tool, Pete, I swear, is a spreadsheet.

Pete Mockaitis
I won’t laugh. I think that’s an excellent tool.

Stephen Warley
A lot of times we overthink because there’s all these little, “Stephen, how come we’re not using this and that?” When I introduce technology to … it really has to save me time, save me money and I’ve got to keep it simple and it has to be really flexible and has to have a lot of uses. I don’t like having different tools to do very specific things across the board. I like a lot of integration. Spreadsheets, let me tell you, as a tool, they are quite amazing.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, I’m right with you there. Do you have a favorite function?

Stephen Warley
Function, what do you mean, in terms-

Pete Mockaitis
I’m thinking about like in a spreadsheet, like sum would be an example of a function or a shortcut.

Stephen Warley
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Anything that – some secret sauce?

Stephen Warley
I can’t say that I do. I mean I’m forever always putting little notes in everything because I think a lot of times we forget about the significance of the data that we’re putting in there, so I always like to deepen it and I always make sure that I put extra information in there in the notes.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite habit?

Stephen Warley
Oh habits. I’m all about habits. People, your life is the sum of your habits. You want to make a change in your life; you’ve got to focus on your habits.

One of my favorite habits, I actually have turned – the first hour of my day, I call it my robot morning. The first hour of my day is nothing but habits. I don’t make any decisions. I don’t think. I’m on autopilot. The reason why I do this is to conserve my limited willpower energy and to minimize the effects of decision fatigue. That way when I do start working I still have as much of my fresh mind as possible.

I know if you have a crazy life, you have kids and life happens to you. I can’t say that I do my robot morning every single day the same way. But it gives me a lot of freedom now not having to think about what do I have to do. I get up, I pee, I brush my teeth, I floss, I put on SPF moisturizer on my face, I drink an eight-ounce glass of water, I stretch, I meditate for ten minutes, I do a little journaling, eat breakfast, get dressed, head out the door.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And tell me, is there a particular nugget you share that seems to connect and resonate and get quoted back to you frequently?

Stephen Warley
I actually – “it’s possible” is – I know that sounds corny, but it’s something that everybody says, like, “Stephen, I come to you with all this stuff. And it feels so chaotic and I leave feeling like yeah, this is possible. You give me clarity.” That’s something I say all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Stephen Warley
If you are thinking – first if you really want to learn about yourself, you’re in the middle of a big transition, go to LifeSkillsThatMatter.com/challenge and I have a free 12-week self-assessment challenge. If you are kind of exploring maybe thinking about working for yourself, I would head over to LifeSkillsThatMatter.com/GetStarted to learn the first five actions to take to start working for yourself.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Well, Stephen, this has been a real treat. I wish you tons of luck in all of your adventures.

Stephen Warley
The same to you. And don’t be mad at that graphic designer anymore, okay?

Pete Mockaitis
I won’t.

Stephen Warley
Thank you, Pete.

373: Getting Consistently Good Results from Yourself and Others with Weldon Long

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

 

Weldon Long explains how his FEAR framework helped turn him from three-time ex-convict to a New York Times bestselling author and top sales expert.

You’ll Learn:

  1. How Weldon went from being a dropout and convict to a star salesperson
  2. A five-step process for getting what you want from others
  3. Achieving more consistent results through the FEAR framework

About Weldon

Weldon Long is a high school dropout who spent 13 years in prison for robbery, money laundering, and mail fraud. While in prison, Weldon started studying; earning his GED, BS in Law, and MBA in Management. Then, at 39 years old, Weldon was released. While living in a homeless shelter, Weldon landed a commission-only sales position and quickly became the company’s top sales leader. In 2004 he opened his own heating and cooling business and grew it into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. He now trains the sales teams at major Fortune 500 corporations including FedEx, Farmers, and Home Depot.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Weldon Long Interview Transcript

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

Weldon Long
Hey, Pete thanks so much for having me. I’m really looking forward to the conversation.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, me too. I think you’ve got a fascinating story. You say that sales saved your life. Can you walk us through how that worked?

Weldon Long
Yeah, absolutely. It may sound a little overdramatic, but it actually is true in my case.

From 1987 until 2003, over those roughly 16 years, I spent 13 years in prison, in federal and state prison. I was a ninth-grade high school dropout. I was kind of a punk and a thug, running the streets, using drugs and not being a very responsible person obviously, a very dysfunctional life.

At 23 years old I ended up going to prison, was out trying to pawn a shotgun for some rent money, couldn’t pawn the shotgun, ended up getting high with a guy that I picked up hitchhiking. We had a loaded gun in the truck, what could possibly go wrong with that scenario? Within a couple of hours he and I used that gun to hold two innocent men at gunpoint. Next thing I knew I was in prison for ten years.

I did about four and a half years and I paroled. I got out. I was still a ninth-grade high school dropout. Now I was also a convicted felon, so I didn’t have many opportunities. Then I ended up going back to prison again on some parole violations, got out again at 30 years old.

Now, I’m a two-time convicted felon, still a ninth grade high school dropout. Ended up taking a job doing some telemarketing and one day the FBI showed up. We all went to federal prison on mail fraud and money laundering convictions.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh bummer.

Weldon Long
Yeah, I know.

Pete Mockaitis
You’re trying to be legit and it turns out the company is – well, did you know they were fraudsters?

Weldon Long
Hey, listen, I should have been suspicious when they hired me, right? Anyway, then I went to the federal penitentiary for seven years. But it was during those seven years that I kind of had my moment of clarity and kind of set me on the path that I’ve been on for the last 22 some-odd years.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, let’s hear about the moment of clarity, shall we? What happened?

Weldon Long
Yeah. Well, it was June 10th of 1996. I had already served about six years in state prison. I was just starting seven years in federal prison. On June 10th of 1996, one of the cops walked in the cell house and handed me a note to call home. I called home and learned that my father had unexpectedly and suddenly passed away at just 59 years old.

When I realized that my dad went to his grave knowing me as a thief and a crook and a liar, it completely devastated me. Just the reality of my life was right there in front of me. I was 32 years old. I had destroyed my entire life.

I started thinking about a conversation that my dad and I had a couple weeks before he passed away. We were on the phone and I was kind of complaining about my life and my dad said to me, he said, “You know son, your life could be worse.”

I said, “Dad, how in the world could my life be worse? I’m a ninth-grade high school dropout. I’ve never had a job, never had a home as an adult. Three-time convicted felon, not getting out this time until I’m 40 years old. I had a three-year-old son that I had fathered while I was out on parole. I had abandoned him.” I said, “Dad, how could my life be any worse?” He said, “Son, you’re still breathing. As long as you’re breathing, you’ve got a shot to change your life.”

With that we exchanged our I love you’s, hung up the phone, I never spoke to my father again. That was the last thing he ever said to me. Two weeks later, he was gone. After he passed away I made the decision, I was going to change the course of my life and become a man that my father could have been proud of and the father that my little son deserved. That’s exactly what I did.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s awesome. Well, congratulations and kudos and thank you for contributing to humanity in this way and taking charge and overcoming those challenges to do an about face, that must be super challenging. Go ahead.

Weldon Long
It wasn’t easy. But it’s interesting that you said kudos on the contribution. I think that’s what it really comes down to. We all have to work for our success, but the older I’ve gotten, I realize how important contribution is to the overall success in our lives.

My first book is a little book called The Upside of Fear. I was very pleased to receive endorsements both from Dr. Stephen Covey, who wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and also Tony Robbins, who’s probably the greatest personal development person in the last 40 years.

When Tony Robbins endorsed that book, his endorsement read “Congratulations on your turn around from prison to contribution.” It’s funny that you just used the exact same word because I think that’s a huge part of it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, then so let’s hear it. You were in prison. You made a decision. And then what happened and how did the sales enter the picture?

Weldon Long
Yeah, well the initial kind of step was that where do you turn this titanic of a life around? I’m 32 years old. I’m a ninth-grade high school dropout, a three-time convicted felon, wouldn’t get out of prison for another seven years. Where do you start? I came up with a master plan to find out what really successful people do and start doing that whatever it was, not reinvent the wheel, not second guess it, just do it.

I started reading. The first book ironically I picked up was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. That led to many other books. As I begin to read these books, I remember reading a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche said “We attract that which we fear.” I thought, well that’s just kind of crazy. Why would I attract things in my life I don’t want? I kind of dismissed it.

A couple of months later I’m flipping through a Bible and I come across a scripture in Job. Job says, “Father, that which I have feared has come upon me.” I thought that was really interesting because Nietzsche was an atheist. Job believed clearly in God. Separated by philosophy and thousands of years, but they were saying the exact same thing.

And then I stumbled into a little book called Man’s Search for Meaning written by Viktor Frankl. Frankl said “Fear may come true.” I started thinking about this. Somehow maybe all the chaos in my life is because of what’s in my brain.

So I sat down at the little metal desk in my cell and I wrote down everything I was most afraid of. It turned out to be living and dying in prison, being broke and homeless and impoverished my entire life, never being a father to my son. That’s what I had attracted into my life. My life was a perfect reflection of the things I feared the most. So I’m like, wow, these guys are right. There’s something to this.

I decided initially I’ve got to change what’s in my brain. I sat down at that same metal desk and I wrote out for me, Pete, what a perfect life would look like. I’m an awesome father to my son. I’m wealthy beyond my wildest dreams. I’m a successful writer and entrepreneur and blah, blah, blah, all this amazing stuff.

I took that sheet of paper. I put toothpaste on the back of it and I stuck it to the wall of my cell. There it sat for the next seven years. Every morning when I got up I would read that list, I would meditate on it, I would visualize having that life, being that person. Now I didn’t know the neuroscience behind all this at the time. I was just a guy desperate to do something.

I had read in Napoleon Hill’s book, Think & Grow Rich, he said “Write these things down and imagine yourself already in possession of them.” That was just so beautiful and romantic, imagine yourself already in possession of them. Stephen Covey said, “You can live out of your imagination rather than your past.”

That’s what I started doing. I would visualize that life. I did it for seven years. There’s a lot of neurology behind it, but eventually it changed my thought process, it changed my habitual thoughts.

Seven years later I walked out of the penitentiary. Within five years I had built an Inc. 5000 company. I sold that and started writing books and speaking and training and developing others in the field of business and sales. That’s kind of how the sales thing kind of came to be.

I got out of prison at 40 years old to a homeless shelter, couldn’t find a job. I was very motivated because I had that right mindset after 7 years of telling myself I was going to be successful, but I still was a three-time convicted felon and 40 years old with no work experience. But I got a little job as a salesman. I was really good at it.

A year later I opened my own company. I grew that. Because I built a strong sales organization, I learned so much about sales primarily through books, Tom Hopkins and Brian Tracy and many of whom have become great friends over the years, but at that time I was just a guy in a cell reading their books.

The reason I say that sales changed my life is because it was the sales profession that took a guy like me, a ninth-grade high school dropout, a three-time convicted felon, it picked me up, it dusted me off and it gave me a real shot at prosperity and wealth, at having a productive life.

I’m extremely grateful for the sales profession because as an independent sales professional, if you’re good, you’ll find a chance to make a living. You can build your own business, work for somebody else, whatever, but if you’re good at it, you’re going to make a living regardless of your background. Even a guy like me can have that kind of success in sales.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so cool. Now I understand that in your very first weeks of selling, you were doing awesomely. What was kind of going on there with regard to how you were approaching it differently or what did you do that was note worthily – note worthily, that’s a word – distinct from out of other sales folks that you were just crushing it from the get-go?

Weldon Long
Well I think – actually that’s a great question, by the way. I don’t know that anyone has ever asked me that specific question.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you.

Weldon Long
But it’s a great question. For me, initially, it was pure desperation. I’m living in a homeless shelter. I get this job at a small heating and air conditioning company. I’ve been knocking on doors for six months. I must have had a thousand people tell me no thanks once they found out about my record. But this one guy decided to give me a chance.

I went out my first month. I sold $149,000 of air conditioners sitting at the kitchen table across from mom and pop home owner. And I made over $13,000 in sales commissions.

But what was driving my success at that point was just pure desperation and need. I had a ten-year-old son that was out there somewhere. He was three-years-old when I went to prison the last time. He was ten when I got out. I was driven by the singular focus to get a job, get a place to live, get my son. Right? I was driven by that.

I was good at it primarily because I learned very quickly that good, honest, hardworking people will look you dead in the eye and say, “I’m going to call you next Tuesday,” and then they won’t call you next Tuesday.

I learned very quickly that your best chance of getting the sale is to have your prospect make a decision about you and your company and your products, and your services with you sitting right in front of them, right, because people really don’t want to say no to your face. People like to say no in business and in sales, they like to say no by ignoring an email or not returning your phone call.

And by the way, this is true. You and I were talking before the podcast that in business, we’re always selling something. Maybe we’re selling an idea or selling our boss on promoting us or giving us a raise. The key to those things is to get your boss, get your customer, get that person to make that decision about you with you sitting right in front of them. The probability you’re going to get a yes is way higher because people just tend to say no by ignoring you.

To quote a famous line from Fatal Attraction, “I will not be ignored.” That’s the key, man, making people reach a decision. You’ve got to do your job. You’ve got to build trust. You’ve got to build all the factors in sales and build relationships, investigate the problems, but at the end of the day, the real key is getting people to make a final decision about you and your company with you sitting right in front of them, even if the answer is no, by the way. I tell people all the time yes is best, but no is a perfectly acceptable answer in sales.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely.

Weldon Long
The no’s aren’t going to kill you. What’s going to kill you is the-

Pete Mockaitis
And it frees you up.

Weldon Long
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Once you have a no, it’s like okay, I don’t have to think about that anymore.

Weldon Long
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
I can focus my energies on more worthwhile opportunities.

Weldon Long
Amen, amen.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. I wonder, so that’s sort of one sort of very specific differentiator is that you prefer to be in person when someone is making the decision about you. Then that kind of automatically tips it in your favor.

So then I guess I’m wondering in the context of hey, selling your boss on giving you a promotion or a raise, there’s some things that need to occur with regard to approvals and consideration, and on and on. How do you play that game? Do you say, “Okay, I’ll meet back with you on this day and you can tell me your decision then?” Is that how you do it or how does it work?

Weldon Long
Well, that’s part of it. I mean the key thing is and in sales and in business, just influence and persuasion, you’re exactly right. Sometimes there can be a process involved. You talk to your boss. He’s got to talk to his boss.

But what I really mean is that before they are allowed to make a final decision, so in the situation you described, you would say, “Okay, I understand you’ve got to go talk to the VP of sales, but I’ll tell you what, just promise me one thing, before you make a final decision, you’ll let me have one more conversation with you.”

You’re getting them that you’re going to be in front of them before they give you the final decision. The key then is, it’s kind of a little five-step process.

Pete Mockaitis
….

Weldon Long
It works in sales. It works in influence.

Pete Mockaitis
One, two, three, four, five. All right.

Weldon Long
One, two, three, four, five. The first thing is to anticipate the objection. You have to anticipate why they’re going to say no.

Let’s say for example you go to your boss and you say, “Hey, I want a raise. I think I deserve a raise.” He says to you, “Okay, I’ve got to talk to my boss.” He goes and talks to his boss. But you get that commitment he’s going to come back and talk to you one more time. Now you’re at that final meeting. You anticipate that the objection is going to be the budget just won’t permit it. You go in with that in mind.

Once you anticipate the objection or the obstacle, the key is then to get them to acknowledge that that particular objection should not be the thing that keeps you from getting what you want. Let me give an example. It will make more sense.

So if I know the budget is going to be an issue, I’m going to go back in and talk to my boss and say, “Boss, I appreciate you taking some time to explain whatever your final decision is. However, before you go there, I just want to ask you a simple question. Would you agree or disagree that my performance has been great the last year.” “Well, of course I agree.”

“Would you agree I’ve been on time with great sales productivity?” “Yes, I would agree.” “Would you likewise agree that those factors are every bit as important as what some arbitrary budget would be relevant to my pay raise?” What’s he going to say? He just told you it was important and you’re really good. Well, of course, there’s other factors more important than just the budget.

Then you’ve got to make your case. That’s the third step. The first step is identify the objection. Get them to acknowledge the objection should not prevent you from getting what you want. The third step is to make your case. That’s where you sell yourself.

“Boss, I appreciate you saying that there’s more factors more important than just the budget. I want to – here’s my attendance record for the last year. I’ve been on time every single day. Here are my sales records, my productivity records. I have the highest closing rate in the division, highest average … division. I make my case. I’m devoted to this company. I’m committed to this company. I make my case.”

The fourth step is to make a specific request. “Boss, I appreciate you considering all this stuff. All I would ask at this point is a simple question. Will you permit me to have this raise that we both agree I deserve?” It’s going to make it very difficult for him to say no because you’re sitting right there in front of him. Even if his boss told him no, it’s going to put him in a situation. Hopefully the big boss gave the middle boss a little authority to make the decision.

But you have to make a specific request for the thing that you want. One of the biggest people – mistakes people make both in sales and just business is they fail to make specific requests. They’ll kind of hint around toward something. They’ll kind of say, “Hey, I kind of like that raise. Heck, I probably deserve it,” or whatever. You’ve got to go in and say, “I deserve this.” You’ve got to claim it.

“What I’d like to do is get your permission to go ahead and get this raise. I’ll go tell accounting myself to change my pay structure.” Make the specific request.

And then the final, the fifth step is if they deny you, you have to remind them of their previous declarations. This is based on a lot of work of a very smart man, Dr. Robert Cialdini at Arizona State University. He’s written several books on influence and persuasion. And there’s a principle he refers to as the Consistency Principle, which is public declarations dictate future actions. What that means is we tend to take actions consistent with our words.

If I ask my boss, in step four I ask to make the specific request, “Can I have the raise?” if he says no to me, if he says, “No, I can’t. It’s just not in the budget,” I’m going to say, “Mr. Boss, earlier you agreed that there were more factors related to my raise than just the budget: my productivity, my punctuality, all those things should be just as important. Has that changed?”

“Well, no, I don’t know if it’s changed. But it’s just a budget thing.” “I understand, but we both agree it’s more than just the budget. I’d like to go ahead and ask you for that raise and to get this thing initiated.”

Now there’s no guarantee he’s going to say yes. Life is about probabilities. But I guarantee you through that little process, I’ve got a much better chance of getting my raise than if I just said “Hey boss, I could really use some extra money,” in kind of a passive aggressive or kind of a roundabout kind of way. It’s about being direct, anticipate the objections, head off the objections, make specific requests. It’s true in sales. It’s true in life.

Pete Mockaitis
Right. Yeah. As you laid that out there I guess I’m thinking that the only – maybe not the only, but perhaps the highest probability gremlin that could come up the works it would just be you could call it the budget or just sort of like policy.

It’s like, “Well, a fourth-year program manager earns between X and Y dollars. You know? I know you’re the most extraordinary programmer manager we’ve ever seen in our lives or the history of this organization, but that’s just not how the policies work.”

That’s just kind of one of my pet peeves I guess is when structural policies, rules trump good, sensible thinking. It’s just like, “Well, I guess the policies that you’re going to lose the best program manager you’ve ever seen as I go elsewhere and get compensated appropriately.”

Weldon Long
Right, yeah. I hate policies too. They sound a lot like police to me. It’s – I don’t like it either.

You look at the organizations, they range kind of from the bureaucracy on the far end of one scale. The other end of the scale would be a very creative learning organization, maybe like Microsoft or something like that. The bureaucracy, let’s just take a prison as an example. Right?

The problem is that when you have a bureaucracy, the reason they have bureaucracies is because the people attracted to those jobs – no disrespect to people that work in government agencies or things like that – but they tend not to be the most creative and have the best judgment. And so often what happens is that policies are made to replace judgment because they decided we can’t trust the judgment of the person at the driver’s license bureau.

If you show up in the line and you’ve got to go two windows down, you’ve got to get at the back of the line. The fact that you are having a heart attack is not in the policy, so we’re not going to hurry you through. The policy says you’ve got to go to the back of the line at window number two because we don’t trust the judgment.

You go to a Microsoft, where they trust the judgment, and they have very few policies, right, very few rules. The policies are going to be more intense on the organizations that are less creative and the leadership doesn’t have the trust in the people to make decisions.

But the other point you made is also interesting, that you have a choice in your life. We can control the process of properly asking for a raise. We don’t control the outcome. Right? And that’s about learning to know that you can – you’ve got to focus on what you can control in life. You can’t focus on what you can’t control. It’s a big lesson that I learned. Believe me.

But like you said, at the end, then you have the choice of saying, “Okay, I’m going to find a company that appreciates superior productivity.” And then that’s an individual choice. There’s no guarantee you’re going to get the raise. The guarantee is you probably won’t get it if you don’t ask for it. If you do ask for it, you’ve got a shot because the answer is always no until you ask.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s really a good thought in terms of policies replacing judgment and very well said succinctly. It just gets me thinking about how – I don’t know the right way to play this, but I guess if I were the manager who were handcuffed by a policy and then just sort of highlighting this notion, it’s like, “Oh, it’s a shame that this policy is deemed to be superior to your judgment.” I don’t know. You’ve got to tread lightly there.

Weldon Long
Right, exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
It just seems like I wonder if there’s a magical turn of a phrase that could stoke just a little bit of righteous anger, like, “You know what? That is ridiculous. I don’t care for that.”

Weldon Long
But you know what? Listen, people like yourself, very creative, very ambitious type people, you don’t want that kind of policy control. Some people actually like that. Some people don’t want responsibility.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s … can be safe and calm.

Weldon Long
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s like I don’t …, it’s just kind of handled. Yeah.

Weldon Long
Right. If you wake up and do something in your business with your show, for example, you do something, it’s your responsibility. Some people don’t want the responsibility. If I make the decision according to paragraph three, subsection two A, I’m not responsible because that’s what I had to do.
Some people prefer not to have the responsibility of the consequences of the decision, so they abdicate their judgment in favor of the policy book, the manual.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. Well, thank you for digging into that. I also wanted to get your take on – you’ve got a book called Consistency Selling. I just want to get your take on consistency. I’d say whether we’re talking about sales professionals or any other group of folks, how – why consistency, what difference does it make and how do you develop it when you’re just not in the mood. I don’t feel like doing it. How do you do it anyway?

Weldon Long
Yeah, great question. This was really the foundation of what changed my life was learning how to consistently have more creative, responsible, powerful thoughts. It really comes down to a very simple concept. Consistent results come from consistent activities. Random results come from random activities. That’s true in business. That’s true in sports. That’s true in anything.

If you just do something randomly, by definition you can’t repeat it and therefore if you had a good result, you probably won’t get the good result again unless you do the same thing. You’ve got to do the same thing to produce those results.

When I think about consistency, you really go back to my second book, which was a book called The Power of Consistency. It’s about how do you create a prosperity mindset, a mindset that is geared and programmed to repeat the things that work in your life and consistently produce the good results.

Now, what I did is I developed a program around the acronym of FEAR, F-E-A-R. F is focus, E is emotional commitment, A is action, and R is responsibility. Through those four steps it gives us the opportunity to kind of examine our habitual thoughts. What are the habitual things I’m thinking all the time?

I tell people, you get up in the morning and you start thinking. As soon as your eyes open you start thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking about your family, thinking about your job, thinking about your friends, thinking about whatever. But how often do we think about what we’re going to think about before we think about it. That to me is getting to the essence of our decision making. Where are those habitual decisions coming from?

If I go and have lunch and I didn’t think specifically about what I’m eating and whether or not I’m going to put nutrition or taste as the higher value, if I don’t ever have that conscious decision, I just order something off the value meal, where did that thought come from? Because if I didn’t think what I think about, it came from somewhere.

We have to examine, where are those habitual thoughts coming that are driving our results in life. We’re making a million decisions a day, what I call seemingly inconsequential decisions, that determine our fate.

For example, if I go home tonight and I have an argument with my wife, I have to make a decision about how I’m going to conduct myself. If I make the decision to yell and scream and intimidate, I’m going to define that relationship. If I go home and I make a better decision and I have some love and some patience and some understanding, I have a different kind of relationship.

My relationship is not some random thing that just happened. It’s a product of my seemingly inconsequential decisions about how I react in that situation.

I’ll give another example. I get my paycheck. It’s Friday night. I’ve got the choice. I can go spend it all, have a hell of a weekend or I can save 20%. Well, I reach in my brain, I pull out a decision. If I pull out the save 20%, I pull out a piece of my financial future. If I reach in there and pull out I blow all my money this weekend, I pull out a different financial future.

Twenty years from now, my financial condition is not some random thing that lo and behold just happened to me. It’s simply a reflection of millions of seemingly inconsequential choices that we have made over our life.

Smoking is the perfect example. How long have we known smoking is unhealthy for us in this country? 100 years or so maybe? 80 years? A lot of people still smoke, a lot of good people. Smoking is not a moral thing. A lot of good people, honest, hard-working people smoke cigarettes. But why would people smoke cigarettes knowing what we know about the health impacts? The answer is very simple.

It feels good, right? It’s not a moral issue though. It just feels great. But moreover, smoking won’t kill you today. Whatever impact smoking is going to have is 20 or 30 or 40 years down the road.

But imagine this scenario, take the most avid smoker that you know, but instead of giving him one cigarette at a time, one seemingly inconsequential cigarette at a time, give him a year’s worth of cigarettes at one time, 2,000 – 3,000 cigarettes. Roll them up like a giant blunt and put some fire to it. Smoke them if you got them, pal. Would he smoke 2,000 cigarettes at one time? Of course not.

If you ask him why, he’ll probably say, “Because it will make me sick. It might kill me.” Yeah, smoking 2,000 cigarettes will make you sick and it might kill you, but guess what, smoking 2,000 cigarettes one seemingly inconsequential cigarette at a time will make you sick and might kill you too. It just takes longer.

The key is we’ve got to look at the tiny decisions that we’re making habitually about our food choices, how we interact with the people we love, picking up a cigarette, whatever, and it impacts every area of our life.

Here’s the rub on the whole thing. The FEAR process allows us to examine those habitual decisions, find out where they came from, ask ourselves are they consistent with what I want today and then change hem if we want to change them through a simple neurological process.

I don’t know how much detail you want to go into with the fear process, but it’s actually very simple. In fact, part of the struggle is it is so simple. It’s so simple people will be like, “Well, man, that can’t work,” because it’s so simple. In reality, it can move mountains.

It’s the single most important factor that turned my life around from a ninth-grade high school dropout, three-time convicted felon to a successful writer, entrepreneur and who’s created a lot of prosperity in my life. I didn’t get any smarter. I didn’t get any luckier. I damn sure didn’t get any better looking. I changed my thoughts. I changed my habitual thoughts. That’s what Emerson meant when he said, “We become what we think about all day long.”

Pete Mockaitis
This is intriguing. You take a look and you go through these four steps. Then how do we get a transformation? I guess I’m thinking about if – let’s say I’m having a thought habitually that I don’t care for, what do I do with that?

Weldon Long
Perfect example. Here’s what we do. The first step is focus. The step in focus is very simple. What do you really want? I encourage people to identify two goals in the three main areas of their life: their money, which is their career, their business, their financial future; their relationships, which is your spouse, your kids, your community, your family, friends, whatever; and then your health, your mental, spiritual and physical health.

Those are the three primary areas of anyone’s life: your money, your relationships, and your health. What do you want in those areas? What one or two things do you want in each of those areas?

Once you identify what you want, let’s say you say for example, “I want to make $200,000 a year in sales.” “What two or three things must I do every single sales call, every single day to get there?” Not 10 things, not 100 things because the confused mind says no. What one, two or three things if I did every single day.

You find out what those are. In sales it’s running every call with passion and purpose, learn to diagnose problems and recommend solutions, and learn to ask for the order every single time. If you do those three things in sales and business, you’re going to be successful. You can screw up everything else. But if you do those three, you’re going to be successful.

The next step is the emotional commitment step. I’ve got to get deeply emotionally committed to the income and the things I have to do to generate that income. So you’ve got to write it down in present, current tense and then do what I call a daily quiet time ritual. Ten to fifteen minutes a day reviewing the thing you want, the things you have to do. This turned out to be that little sheet of paper I had on my wall, stuck there with toothpaste.

I didn’t realize the impact of what I was doing, but it was changing the neurology in my brain. I’m not a neuroscientist but I’ve had neuroscientists call me. I had a guy call me one time and said – he was a neuroscientist, a PhD, a clinical psychologist. He said, “Mr. Long, this is the easiest explanation I’ve ever read in my life about the principles that are the underpinnings of rationally emotive behavior therapy and decision making.”

I’m like, “There’s a name for this?” It’s common sense. I’ve got to get focused on what I want, visualize it, it begins to change the brain.

The third step, action. We leverage a very big driver of human behavior, which is cognitive dissonance. If I tell myself I’m going to run every call with passion and purpose and ask for the order every single time, and then I go out on the sales call and I just drop off a bid, I don’t do that, I’m going to feel dissonance, anxiety, the difference between what I said I would do and what I actually do.

That dissonance starts driving the behaviors we want because we don’t want to be in a state of dissonance anxiety. We want to be in a state of resonance. We want to be integrated with our thoughts and our actions.

If I tell myself every single day that I’m going to run a sales call a certain way or if I tell myself every single day I’m going to eat healthy and then I find a cheeseburger in my mouth at lunch, I’m going to experience dissonance. The dissonance drives the behavior, like, “Oh, that doesn’t feel good,” so I order the salad.

And then the fourth step is responsibility. Everybody has problems in life. That’s the bad news. The good news is our life is not a reflection of our problems. Our life is a reflection about our decisions about our problems.

In other words, I had a bad set of problems 15 years ago. I got out of prison at 40 years old without any money, any clothes, any car, anything. But my life today is not a reflection of that situation. My life is a reflection of the decisions I made about that situation.

That’s true for everybody. Everybody’s life is product of their decisions about their problems, not necessarily about the problems themselves. I’m not saying that we don’t have problems that affect us long term because I just met a fellow named Aron Ralston. This is a guy you should get on your podcast, by the way. Do you know who Aron Ralston is? Does that name ring a bell?

Pete Mockaitis
A little bit. Tell me more.

Weldon Long
He’s the guy that got trapped in the Utah desert and had to cut his arm off to get out. They made a movie about it called 127 Hours. This dude is like the most awesome guy you’re ever going to meet in your life. It was amazing. He was there six days before he finally did it.

His life today – you know he’s never going to have that part of his arm again, right? But his life today is not a reflection of that tragedy. His life today is a reflection of the decisions he made about how he’s going to deal with that tragedy.

If you ever get a chance to read his book or watch the movie, 127 Hours, the book was called Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The movie was called 127 Hours. He’s one of the most powerful human beings I’ve ever met in my life, just an amazing story. He’s an excellent example – my life is too on a different type of way – that you can overcome any adversity if you want it bad enough.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Weldon, tell me, anything else you want to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things.

Weldon Long
Well, I just would encourage your listeners if they want to get more information, we’ve got some free content available on the website at WeldonLong.com. Or they can just text the word ‘videos’ to 9600 and you get three videos of the mindset, sales, and business process, all the stuff that I’ve learned. It’s free content. It’s very powerful information. I think it’s about 50 minutes worth of video content. Just want to make sure people know how to access some of that free content.

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

Weldon Long
My favorite quote is a quote from Henry David Thoreau. And this quote was written on the wall of my cell. It’s on my desk today. It’s one that I use constantly. It’s very simple. “If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined, you will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”

What I love about that quote is that if you live the life you imagined, that means to me that you had to imagine it first. In other words, you saw it first. Dr. Covey used to say, “All things are created twice, once in our mind’s eye and then in our physical reality.” I just think it’s such a powerful – it’s a beautiful quote. The words are beautiful, but it’s like it’s so poignant because you have to imagine that life first.

The last part of that “you will meet with succeed unexpected,” that means that the success, the results, will be even better than you anticipate. And that’s what happened in my life. Listen, I knew when I got out of the joint the last time, I was doing some cool stuff with my life. I was getting my son. I was getting my act together. I was plowing ahead. But man, what’s happened has been like 100 times bigger than what I expected.

That to me is one of my favorite quotes. It’s just so beautiful.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Weldon Long
I would say with respect to research, it would have to be on the theory of consistency. Primarily is researched and discussed by Robert Cialdini. There’s some powerful research that he’s done.

A quick example, there was a company in Arizona that was raising money for childhood disabilities research. They would send in canvassers to knock on doors and ask people to donate money. Cialdini got involved and he kind of redesigned their process. What he did, is – by the way, about 16% of people would contribute money to childhood disabilities research. Somebody randomly knocked on your door, 16% of people would give some money.

Cialdini got the idea of having telemarketers call into those neighborhoods the week before the canvassers. Now the telemarketers did not ask for any money. They would simply take a survey. But one of the survey questions was “Do you think it’s important to do childhood disabilities research?” Of course people say yes. The next week they would send in the canvassers to ask for money.

Their rate of contribution doubled to 38% because people feel an obligation to take actions consistent with their words. It’s powerful, powerful research. I would recommend anybody who’s interested in that – Robert Cialdini – he’s written several books on persuasion and the power of influence and is just probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever read or had a chance to study.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh yeah, his books are fantastic. Influence: Science and Practice and Pre-suasion.

Weldon Long
Yup.

Pete Mockaitis
I look forward to the day he joins us on the show.

Weldon Long
Man, he’s a smart dude. Make sure I get an email on that one because I don’t want to miss it.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool, something that helps you be awesome at your job?

Weldon Long
I think the thing that helps me the most is what I call my daily quiet time ritual. 10 – 15 minutes reviewing my key priorities, whether it’s my family goals, my financial goals, my health goals.

Life can be pretty hectic. I travel 150,000 miles a year. Literally, this week, for example, I’m in my third city this week speaking. Sometimes I wake up and I literally for five or ten seconds got to remember what hotel, what city, what I’m doing there. Life can be very hectic for everybody: families and bills and jobs.

That quiet time ritual, 10 to 15 minutes a day reviewing your key priorities in life, in other words 10 to 15 minutes thinking about what you’re going to think about before you think about it. It’s the one thing that keeps me grounded. I’m pretty high-strung, but that’s the one thing that keeps me grounded and keeps me sane. There’s nothing more important in my life than reviewing my key priorities every single morning for 10 or 15 minutes.

Pete Mockaitis
Is there a particular nugget you share that really seems to connect and resonate with folks?

Weldon Long
I think – I wish I could take credit for it. I used it earlier. Emerson’s quote, “We become what we think about all day long.” I think that that’s super, super important. If people understood the relationship – I wish we had time to go into the neurology behind how a thought translates chemically to emotions, which drives some reaction, which drive a result.

But let it suffice to say that your thought, everything you think, drives how you feel and what you do and what you get, even if what you think is wrong. Even if the things you’re thinking are wrong, they can still drive very real emotions, real reactions, and real results. We call it the self-fulfilling prophecy.

My single most important piece of advice I give to anybody, whether it’s speaking at FedEx to their top 200 performers or speaking at the Nebraska State Penitentiary to a group of lifers, I tell them the same thing: you become what you think about all day long. I wish that were my quote. It’s Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I love to use it.

Pete Mockaitis
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Weldon Long
I would point them to social media. They can find me easily there are Weldon Long. Also, on my website, WeldonLong.com W-E-L-D-O-N-L-O-N-G, WeldonLong.com.

Pete Mockaitis
Do you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Weldon Long
Yeah, I would encourage everyone to get crystal clear on what you really want. We don’t do it enough. We don’t take enough time. What do I really want? What do I really want with my family? What do I really want with my job, and my income, my financial—don’t just go along and just assume it’s all going to work out. Get very specific.

One of my favorite books is Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill, written in 1937. The very first success habit that Napoleon Hill taught was that you have to have a definite purpose. That’s specifics. That’s focus. Figure out exactly what you want and then start going for it.

Pete Mockaitis
Awesome. Weldon, this has been a ton of fun. I wish you lots of luck and keep doing the inspire that you’re doing.

Weldon Long
Thank you my friend. I really appreciated it. I’ve enjoyed chatting with you.

372: How to Take the Work out of Networking with Karen Wickre

By | Podcasts | No Comments

 

Karen Wickre shares ways both introverts and extroverts can grow their networks without that transactional feeling.

You’ll Learn:

  1. A pro-tip for how to build up your network despite social anxiety
  2. How to farm for contacts instead of hunting for them
  3. The strength of weak ties

About Karen

Karen Wickre is the former Editorial Director at Twitter, where she landed after a decade-long career at Google. She is a member of the Board of Visitors for the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, and serves on the boards of the International Center for Journalists, the News Literacy Project, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She has been a featured columnist for Wired.com and is a cofounder of Newsgeist, an annual gathering conference fostering new approaches to news and information. She is the author of Taking the Work Out of Networking and lives in San Francisco.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Karen Wickre Interview Transcript

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

Karen Wickre
Oh, thanks, Pete. I’m looking forward to this.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve been looking forward to this as well. I’d like to start by hearing the tale – I understand that you attended the first concert of The Beatles in the US. What’s the whole story here?

Karen Wickre
Well, the whole story is, I’m old enough to have attended the first concert of The Beatles in the US on February 19th, ’64. It is true. I’m I guess a classic Baby Boomer. I lived in Washington, DC. That’s where I grew up. The Washington concert was strangely enough, their first US concert. Then they went to New York. Then they went to Miami.

Pete Mockaitis
No kidding.

Karen Wickre
I was already a Beatles’ nut by the time they arrived here. I was getting British magazines and all the rest. So my poor dad drove a couple of us down into the city to this concert, which I know now was probably 40 minutes long. He waited for us. And so I don’t remember really hearing anything of the songs because there was a lot of screaming, to which I contributed.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. That’s cool. Was this your first concert?

Karen Wickre
I think it was. I’m sure it was because I was 12 or 13. Kids in those days didn’t really just go off to concerts. I did later in high school, but this was earlier.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s cool. So plenty of screaming, a moment in history and you were there.

Karen Wickre
I was there. I’m still here, which is I guess ….

Pete Mockaitis
And you remain. Well done. Well, so let’s hear about your upcoming book. Will this also make history? It’s called Taking the Work out of Networking. What is the main idea here?

Karen Wickre
The main idea is maybe hidden in the subtitle, which is An Introverts Guide to Making Connections That Count. I don’t know about making history because frankly, I think it’s full of a lot of common sense, which isn’t often historical when we look back.

But the idea came to me for a couple of reasons. One, I have lived and worked in Silicon Valley in San Francisco for over 30 years. I’ve worked in technology businesses for all of that time. So I’m used to the ecosystem of that, which helped me kind of understand that, your connections are part of your currency professionally in a place that’s as fluid and fast moving as Silicon Valley. Today, it’s certainly not the only place that is that way.

But what I noticed is I do have a wonderful world of contacts of all kinds who I feel I can always turn to for any number of questions or needs I might have and so can other people. I’ve noticed over time that my way of staying in touch with people is almost all online, almost all digital.

In talking to other people, many of told me, whether they’re introverts or not, “I hate networking. I hate the idea of it. It seems phony and awkward, but I – so can you help me, introduce me to so-and-so.” Of course I always say yes, but I don’t have to be the only one who kind of has this ability.

I tried to document kind of all the ways that people can make better, more useful, and meaningful connections then trading the old business card while you’re looking past the other person.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So I’d love to get your take on a couple of the approaches in a moment, but first let’s dig into that subtitle a little bit. You talk about connections that count, could you maybe paint a clear picture for us in terms of what does it look like when you’ve made a connection that counts versus the alternative?

Karen Wickre
Right, one that doesn’t count.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Karen Wickre
Yeah, I think that to me if you dig a little more deeply into someone’s background and history and what they’re currently doing beyond the small talk of “What do you do? Where do you work? Here’s my card. Can I be in touch?”

If you get a little deeper than transactional, you find much more – sort of a richer person, a fuller person there – who may become a good friend, who may become a valuable business contact, but you don’t know that if you’re just doing the transactional things. I encourage more sort of conversational exchanges, more drawing out, being curious about the other person beyond that immediate identified work/job title, whatever it is.

And those to me, they can happen in person, but also can happen with a video chat. I have contacts I keep up with that way. And we have sort of virtual coffee. To me those are more – it’s not any particular skillset or field, it’s just you feel like you know them a little better and vice versa.

Pete Mockaitis
I see. Well, can you share a little bit in terms of some of the questions that you’re proposing or the key things that you find yourself saying often in conversations with new people that bring about some of that curiosity and that opening up and that sharing?

Karen Wickre
Yeah, well, for me, here’s where we play a little bit on the introvert part of this. I realized a few years ago something that had always been true for me. I’ve kind of throughout life made a game of getting other people to talk first. I think that as a kid I think I wanted some sort of reassurance that I could trust them or I could feel good around them or I was willing to reveal a little bit more about myself because introverts typically hold back.

Frankly, it works wonderfully to ask other people questions and get them going conversationally for the purposes of making a better connection, right? Or for the purposes of hearing and understanding more about someone else.

Questions to me to ask are not yes/no questions, but “Tell me a story,” questions. “How do you – are you enjoying the conference? What brought you here today?” if it’s that kind of meeting. “How did you get into your line of work? How do you like Company X? Do you enjoy this location? Are you thinking about somewhere else?”

Things like that that are sort of openers, where people generally – they’re safe enough to feel inclined to answer. They’re not terribly personal, but they’re personal enough. Then you obviously at some point have to take your turn and jump in, but you have a little more information there to sort of give context to the conversation.

Those kinds of questions, depending on how you read a person, there may be times to get a little more personal. If they’re wearing a team t-shirt and you know something about that team or they have wild eyeglasses on and you like those – there are ways to make people feel at ease and make them feel noticed and heard. You can do that by sort of making note of the fact that you’re paying attention to the other person with these kind of cues.

Pete Mockaitis
Intriguing. So, it’s just that simple in terms of “Hey, I noticed that you’ve got some cool glasses. Where did you get them?

Karen Wickre
Yeah, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
There you go. Say, “Well, I got them at PhoneticEyewear.com,” or whatever.

Karen Wickre
That’s a little more fun than just sort of – even at a conference, “Where do you work? What do you do there?” That’s okay. Those are informational questions too, but sometimes it’s nice – it depends kind of how you can read the person.

My theory is that introverts are more observant of other people and perhaps more curious because we’re people watching and we’re kind of wanting to see other people kind of play out a little bit before we commit too much to speaking.

Pete Mockaitis
Maybe you can help out us extroverts in terms of just going through numerous things that you can notice that maybe we might overlook. You talk about maybe glasses or apparel. Let her rip. Maybe just kind of reflecting back to the last few times you met new people and the things you noticed and struck up conversations about.

Karen Wickre
Yeah, I’ll make a caveat. This is a little bit outside of say a job interview, which I do talk about in the book. There are ways to do that too, but that takes a little more caution.

Any other setting – I have commented to people about their shoes or their bag or how did they like – if not their phone, because there are, precious few options there. Do they have any favorite apps, their carrying case for their phone, what their – if they look like they’re deep into technology, what do they like best, how are they liking that new app or something.

But sometimes it is sort of, “Those are great shoes. Those are great glasses.” Someone with fantastically dyed hair, I think is someone who wants some attention for that, so I think it’s okay to say, “I love your purple hair,” but to leave it sort of friendly and not too probing, but as sort of a positive, ‘I’m paying attention to you and I like what I see’ is the idea. I’m curious. You may want to tell me all about the purple hair or you may not. That’s okay. We’ll move on to your favorite apps.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, cool. I’d love to get your take then for those who are experiencing some social anxiety, whether it’s all the time or just under certain contexts and scenarios. What are some of your pro tips for managing that and trying to be confident and calm and engage well?

Karen Wickre
Yeah, I’m a big believer in one-to-one exchanges as opposed to a group. If I do go to kind of a group party, I may be the one in the corner, deep in conversation with one person for the bulk of the evening because a good conversation to me is—it’s kind of the whole megillah. Where someone else may want to make the rounds and sort of, hop from one to another, if I like the conversation, I may want to stick with it.

I mean, I think you can just come away with a good feeling from a one-to-one exchange. It might be as simple as starting with people you’re somewhat familiar with as opposed to strangers. You may have work colleagues, who you don’t directly work with or you don’t see that often, but they seem interesting or they do – they’re in a team that you’d like to know more about or you want to understand what their work is. Have coffee with them.

I actually kind of repeat a saying in my book a few times, which is, “It’s just coffee,” which is to say, it’s not an interrogation or a job interview or something scary. But one-to-one, you begin to feel confident, even if you’re in a room then of mostly strangers but here’s this one person you kind of know. That’s a good thing.

But the other thing is, to not start with “I don’t know these mythical people out there, who are strangers to me, who have answers to all my problems,” but instead “I’ve always liked the contractor in our office and I thought maybe I’d get to know them a little bit better,” or a vendor or —the summer intern. Or you’re the summer intern and you want to get to know someone in an interesting role.

Start with people who are familiar-ish to you and break that down into sort of these one-to-one conversations. Then you build up new contacts and you have them among people that you consider safer perhaps less daunting.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well so we dug into a bit of the how and maybe we should zoom out a touch for the why. I think some folks would say, “I just don’t like networking and I don’t need to network, so I’m not going to network.” What’s your response to that? You’ve referred to networking as a necessary evil. What makes it necessary? What makes it evil?

Karen Wickre
Well, the idea of this networking where you’re conducting transactions or hoping to, I think that’s how people think of – that word networking even, I think they think it’s trying to get something when I need a lead for a job or I’m forced to go to this thing by work or it’s a conference or something  and I have to do this meaningless small talk and trade business cards or worse yet, I’m desperate for a job and I really – I have to go through these motions.

That’s what seems both necessary and evil I think to people, but it doesn’t have to be that way if you’re constantly maintaining the contacts you do have and continuing to extend them. The reason why this is important – or, there are a few reasons actually.

One is that more of us are going to work longer and that is going to be in more jobs. The days of having a single job through your career are long passed. You’re going to be going into new fields. You might be changing direction. You might be moving to a new area. You’re going to need to continue to make connections for yourself over time.

Similarly, younger people are taking more jobs from the get-go. One study I saw said that new-ish college grads have 5 jobs within the first 5 years of their getting out of school. We’re all familiar with the gig economy. There are more people doing independent work, piecing together contracting and project work and freelance this and that. That all requires more contacts to keep the pipeline going.

In addition, Americans actually move around geographically more than ten times as adults on average. So there’s a lot of reasons, that we need to continue to have new contacts and be able to reach out to new people with questions and our needs.

And we all have that need, by the way. We all have turns where we need to do this. It’s not like everyone else has it all sewn up and I’m the only one that needs to meet someone new to get some new ideas. Everyone needs to.

I’ve only met one person in my travels who admitted to me she had a nice, secure job for eight or nine years. When I met her, she said, “I realized I want to look for another job. It’s time for me to move on and I’ve let my network go because I’ve been in my pleasant comfortable job.” Well, guess what? Now she had to sort of create a new network of contacts to reach out to for her search. Rather than scrambling at that point, better that you just have people to turn to all the time.

Pete Mockaitis
Absolutely. Okay, we’ve got the necessary, we’ve got the evil. Let’s talk a little bit about the “Oh, but I’m just scared,” or “Ah, that’s so uncomfortable. It’s just not me.” How do you reframe that such that maybe it can be all the more manageable and approachable?

Karen Wickre
Well, as we were saying before, as we were talking about before, the idea that you actually know more people than you think you know. Start with familiar people. Don’t make it a faceless mass out there.

Think about – let’s say you’re interested in moving on from your current company and you want to sort of move up with the next role. You know the kind of company or you know the specific company. It’s quite possible you might know someone who works there or is in a similar role. How did they get there? This is the sort of thing LinkedIn obviously was designed for and is useful for but there are other ways in addition.

It’s really just sort of just getting away from the general scariness to the specific “Let me talk to this person and let me talk to that person.” Just as you would not maybe want one opinion from one doctor, it’s sort of like get second opinions from other people who have different experiences and can help you along the way.

I don’t know how to make it more or, less scary than that other than to say, one-to-one coffees and one-to-one sort of email and phone call exchanges are pretty safe compared to that scary mass of strangers.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I also want to get a little bit of your take, we talk about coffees, that’s making me think about Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone and his kind of mentality of kind of just going for it, all the time. How do you think about that premise of never eating alone and just really going after network building with gusto?

Karen Wickre
Or a vengeance.

Pete Mockaitis
Or if – your words, not mine.

Karen Wickre
I have to say, I feel like I’m at the other end of this than Keith. I know his work and his energy I’m impressed by. But I want to have meals alone sometimes. I don’t want to be talking to people all the time.

Again, for me, the game is not building a network so that there’s more contacts in it. The game for me really is making the connections between people. That’s what I do naturally. That’s what I like to do.

For people who don’t necessarily want to be the connector, simply having more resources to draw on and to give back to – because as I say this is all sort of mutual and reciprocal – over time. It’s very cumulative. There’s a quote I like very much that I came across when I was writing the book, which is from a guy named Ivan Misner, who created-

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve had him on the show.

Karen Wickre
Oh really?

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah.

Karen Wickre
Okay, so Mr. Business Network International, right? His line that is so great is “Networking is more like farming than it is like hunting.” What I love about that, even though he uses the networking word, instead of connecting, it really is true.

If you think of farming or gardening, either one, you’re planting, you’re weeding, you’re replanting, you’re nurturing throughout the bad weather as well as harvesting and the good weather, all that kind of stuff. As opposed to hunting, which is really transactional when you think about it. You’re going in for the kill and you kill or you fail, but that’s it.

I find thinking about it that way, that really gets my point across is it’s more like the cyclical, kind of long-term, long-game process of farming or gardening.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, I dig it. I also want to get your take on – you’ve got a fun turn of a phrase that you suggest we embrace our quiet side. What does that look like in practice?

Karen Wickre
Well, I think for those who aren’t glad handers and don’t want to work the room and don’t want to go out there, as I say, I probably spend 20 or 30 minutes maybe in the morning when I’m first sort of warming up for the day – I read the news. I’m kind of a news junkie. I follow lots of things.

Someone will come to mind when I see one story or another if I know – as just happened – a Red Sox fan, and I find some quirky story about their recent World Series win, I just send off the link to my friend and say, “Hey, thinking of you. Enjoy this.”
I do that probably 10 or 15 times to people I know well, old friends, people I don’t know as well, where I see something of interest that just makes me think of them or I might have a specific question. That’s like 20 – 30 minutes in the morning. That is sort of my sort of outreach for the day maybe.

People come back in their own time. It’s very asynchronous. But we’ve had a moment of being top of mind for each other in that. That actually is maintaining your connections. That’s maintaining your network right there. That’s why I say you can do so much behind the screen as opposed to having to go to events and having to make small talk.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. Well, tell me Karen, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Karen Wickre
Let me think. I think the only other thing I’d say, and I do have a chapter in the book about this, is the power of weak ties. Weak ties are the people you know less well and often are the ones who – especially in a professional or in a job context – may be the key to unlocking an opportunity for you.

This is why I encourage people to think more broadly about who they know. It could be a colleague they had 10 or 15 years ago, they haven’t been in touch with. It turns out when you say, “Oh I’m interested – I’m glad to be back in touch. The reason I just want to tell you what I’m up to. I’m doing this and I’m looking to do this,” and they say, “Oh my God, my next-door neighbor, my best friend is so-and-so. I’ll introduce you.”

You wouldn’t know that unless you had made that sort of friendly agenda-less contact with a weak tie or even a stranger. I guess I can’t say enough, people should think broadly about who they know and not be afraid to reach out in a way that is kind of friendly and open and with a specific need if you have it.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Very good. Thank you. Well, now could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Karen Wickre
Gosh, I’m such a quote fan. I love this one from Susan Cain, who of course wrote Quiet, which is the bible for introverts that came out in 2012, so much work has come out of that. She said something like, “Some people require the bright lights of Broadway and others thrive at the lamp-lit desk.”

I love that because not only does it sort of encompass these different styles, but it’s like it’s okay to be either. It’s okay and fine and there’s a good quality to if you must have the Broadway lights, perhaps that’s Keith Ferrazzi, or if you thrive in a different way. Both are fine and all points in between.

I really think that’s to me is a sort of broader idea than just for introverts and extroverts. I think it’s a good way to think about living and other people.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Thank you. How about a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?

Karen Wickre
Let me think. Well, at the risk of repeating myself, when I looked into this idea about your weak ties, it all goes back to one Stanford sociologist in the 1970s, who made a study of people who were then looking for jobs. Remember they didn’t have digital means for looking and scouting. It was all sort of human face-to-face.

The experiment that he set up had to do with where people got the best leads for the jobs they had. They came from this characteristic – this group of people he called weak ties.

I just thought especially for going back to – I think it’s ’73 is when he published this study – it’s so interesting to think about how that – first of all how it’s resonated in all the years since and been cited for all kinds of things, but also how it was conducted then and how he found out that people in fact did get the best job leads and the best opportunities and landed them through people they knew less well.

Since we live in a digital age where we do so much outreach to people we don’t know well online, it’s – I love that that study has had legs.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. How about a favorite book?

Karen Wickre
Favorite book. I am so torn on this. I’m so torn on this because I’m still attached to print and I have so many at home. I think one that I have liked very much recently is called – is by Olivia Laing, it’s called The Lonely City. It’s a little bit of a memoir and a little bit of a sort of meditation on being alone in a city and all the feelings that come up as you walk around and explore it. I’m a bit of a city walker myself. I’ve just been – it takes me to another place than the workday does.

Pete Mockaitis
How about a favorite tool?

Karen Wickre
A favorite tool. If you could see my phone – immediately I go to the phone as opposed to my hardware drawer.

I think for me something like WhatsApp provides a lot of interesting utility when I travel overseas. As you know, it’s not as – hardly used in the US, but it has given me such utility in places where everyone uses it and where it’s very easy to either talk by voice or text people and reach them instantly. I had never heard about it until Facebook bought it. I use it with my non-US friends. It’s an intriguing tool I wouldn’t have thought of.

Pete Mockaitis
And a favorite habit?

Karen Wickre
Favorite habit. Now I must ask you how you define habit.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, it’s something that you do regularly that helps you to be awesome at your job. Common answers include exercise, meditation, visualization. Those are the ones that kind of frequently – reading, journaling. Sometimes it gets super specific, so it’s always fun to learn.

Karen Wickre
Yeah. Well, for me it is art museums. Whatever city I’m in, I make an effort to go to an art museum. Some cities I always go to my favorites. I don’t – sometimes, I’ll look at a big show, but other times I want to be through the quiet rooms that are not crowded or go at an off time and just stop and look and see what grabs me, see what speaks to me. I find that very restorative.

Pete Mockaitis
Tell me, when you’re teaching this stuff, is there a particular nugget, a thing that you share that seems to connect and get retweeted and sort of frequently mentioned back to you?

Karen Wickre
I’m just at the start of talking about this in relation to the book, so I would say I may not have a – I don’t know if I have a full set yet, but one thing that people seem to pick up on – in the book I talk about there is a value to small talk.

I’m not by nature a small talk fan, but when I talk about the utility of it for sort of breaking the ice and making people feel comfortable and included, a little bit what I said here earlier about conversation starters, people seem taken by that because here again I think we all say we don’t like small talk, but in fact there are times that it’s a great value.

Pete Mockaitis
If folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Karen Wickre
My own – I’m very active on Twitter. I guess that’s the first place. My handle is KVox, V-O-X, V as in Victor, KVOX. I have my own website, which is just my name, KarenWickre.com. Then of course there’s the book itself, which is available in all the usual spots where books are sold or will be on November 27th.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Do you have a favorite call to action you’d issue to folks here seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Karen Wickre
I would say curiosity. Being curious about – it’s sometimes a hard thing to fight against the routine and the tasks in front of you and the silos that we’re often in. I would say fight that to the extent you can to be curious.

How did something get to be that way?  Why are we doing it this way? What are people doing in other teams? What else is going on that I don’t know about around the company? That can really benefit your current job, but also kind of shake up your thinking and make the whole scene a lot richer for you.

Pete Mockaitis
Beautiful. Well, Karen, thanks so much for taking this time. I wish you tons of luck with the book and all you’re up to.

Karen Wickre
Oh, thank you so much, Pete. I enjoyed it.