It’s a miracle that I became an entrepreneur. My 9 year old self didn’t see it coming.
You have to understand, I was the kid who couldn’t sell “the best chocolate in the world”. I’m the only Cub Scout who didn’t get a badge for selling popcorn tin on the holidays. Instead of going door to door, I would just mold my backpack until the last day, then I would ask my mom to buy some dirty nuggets so I wouldn’t look like a huge antisocial idiot.
I just didn’t know the right things that someone would take my advice to say or pay me for them
My guess is you can say I’m not good at communication.
I always thought that anything remotely connected to the sale was a tragic subterfuge. I felt bad for what I felt to force people to buy something they didn’t want. The problem was that I knew that “the best chocolate in the world” was certainly not the best in the world. It probably wasn’t even the best of the house. After all, why would I want to give someone “rice” to buy a low quality product?
It’s not always about what you know.
What I’ve learned since then is that most of the time people don’t buy things because of what they know about a product. People buy things because they feel good about a product or the person selling it, even if they know there are better things out there. If you can create an environment that allows other people to open up to you, you no longer have to sell them. Your values become their values. They feel a strange attachment to you, almost as if they are buying from themselves. That’s an easy sale.
Fast forward to the summer of 2009 after 10 years. I am 19 and sitting in the loading dock of the warehouse at the factory where I worked, the brown short-shirts coming up as if they were looking for daylight. It was my lunch break.
Next to me sat an old man named James, a rude, yet rude old man. How he was able to smoke half a pack of cigarettes during his break and still be able to lift heavy boxes for hours on end will always be a mystery to me. Older boys have interesting perspectives. I loved having lunch with James because he always had a story to tell. Although they were not just ordinary stories. James had an exceptionally interesting career history.
He was a con artist.
How do I know this? Okay, let’s just say I’m probably better off not doing specific broadcasts. We’re still friends. His stories, however, were elements of legend.
Sophisticated bank fraud.
… Disguise of elected officials.
তা Violence in Vegas.
Chase that car.
That kind of stuff.
I often wondered why he would tell me his biggest secret. I mean all people, why me? Why would a pimple-popping box spray its own dirt on a boy? What was his benefit? Then why was he independent?
Okay, that’s another great thing about older men. They like to take young men under the wings of their proverbs. They love to teach lessons. I learned a lot from James that summer. One of them is really stuck.
Although at the time I never thought it would help me in a career outside of extortion or espionage (none of which I ever tried), I found myself using this skill every day in my legitimate business life and in my personal interactions.
In retelling another of his long-winded epics, James describes in detail how he was able to talk for free for a week in a five-star hotel penthouse suite (you know, with Skylight and 24/7 The Watchman). Remember, he was actually homeless then. He constantly insisted on the structure of the conversation with the manager which allowed him to slide past his defense and the penthouse.
At first, I didn’t think much of it. I thought maybe he would feel bad for the poor man. Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me.
So what magic formula did the five star bride have?
Bind yourself. Here it is:
Laughter. And listen.
A little anticlimactic? Not really. This thing takes place deep.
James told me that the best way to get people to enter you is not to try, but to fall behind in observation. I had all ears.
What does this really mean?
Human Psychology 101 confirms that we like to talk about ourselves. My guess is that this tendency is partly rooted in narcissism and partly in our true unawareness of our social environment. Sometimes we even hug the conversation that we don’t know.
As entrepreneurs, we can morally take advantage of the self-love of others.
The level of expression.
Whenever James wanted to get someone to like him, he just let them talk about themselves. He listens attentively, showing deep genuine interest in his body language. He took a relaxed posture that invited comfort, not projecting his authority over them. Then, he will ask relevant questions at the right time which will allow the one-sided conversation to deepen. Questions such as:
“Excellent, have you ever heard of _______?”
“You mean, like, can you give me some examples?”
“I bet you know a lot about _______, don’t you? Do you think ______?”
Any questions that require the speaker to dig deeper than the “yes” or “no” answer may work better here.
Such questions are not randomly selected. These are designed to work like cutting oral fog. In particular, they perform two functions:
First, they show the speaker that you are listening to them. People love when others really listen to what they have to say. Often we just “hear” someone, just able to restrain our intervention, grateful when we can finally say that the line we plan to blur. Turn it off – listen to what is being said and respond. Interact in real time.
Second, such complex questions allow the talking person to make more money, creating an unspoken bond between the two of you. When someone feels that you know something about them, they give you a small piece of their own. In communication theory, this is called the level of expression.
Now you have them.
The point here is that anyone who wants to open up to them must show genuine interest in what the other person wants to say. So learn how to become more interested in yourself. Ironically, when you are more interested in others, you become more attractive to others.
In a situation where you need to gain the acceptance and approval of others (as in any business situation), brighten the spotlight on the other person and let them speak. The conversation will fly quickly for that person and you can even comment on “how easy it is to talk to you”.
When that happens, you know you are
Once the other person knows that you really care about the things they care about, they will automatically take care of you. Impossible to do. People form relationships with those around them. They form bonds with those they work with and go to school with. But the deepest affection is created with those to whom they share the same thoughts, opinions and values. This kind of emotional relationship is the foundation of some of the most powerful organizations in the world, including religion.
If I only knew this in my Cub Scout days, I would be much less focused on selling chocolates and much more focused on selling myself by aligning my values with other people’s values.
Live and learn I guess.
As I had time to reflect on the things that James taught me that summer, I realized that a skill could be applied maliciously or completely liberally. It is up to the individual to decide whether to use skill for good or for bad. That being said, go ahead and conduct ethical communications that help people and win them over to you. When all of your transactions go according to plan (insert a crazy smile here), you can smile to yourself because you know that the skill comes from the most unlikely source.