[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:11.7] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success, the number one evidence-based growth podcasts on the internet with more than one million downloads and listeners in over 100 countries. In this episode we discuss how to become a super connector. We look at the idea that networking is not about tactics. It's about a fundamental shift in how you think about interacting with people. We examine how to break free from the lazy and shallow networking that social media often creates. Discuss why you should never ask, “How can I help?” Look at the power of curiosity and the importance of asking better questions and much more with our guest, Scott Gerber.
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In our previous episode we discussed becoming a super learner. We dug into questions that I've pondered for a long time. Does speed-reading work? Can we actually speed read and improve our reading comprehension? Are there strategies that you can use to improve your memory, and most importantly, how can we align the way we think, learn and remember with the way our brains actually operate? We go into this and much more with our previous guest, Jonathan Levi. If you want to learn the secrets of the world's memory champions, be sure to listen to that episode.
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Now for the show today.
[0:03:42.6] MB: Today, we have another great guest on the show, Scott Gerber. Scott is the CEO of the Community Company and founder of Young Entrepreneurs Council. He's also an internationally syndicated columnist and co-author of the books Super Connector as well as the book Never Get a Real Job. He's been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Bloomberg and he's even been honored by the White House.
Scott, welcome to The Science of Success.
[0:04:05.9] SG: Thanks for having me, man.
[0:04:06.9] MB: Well, we’re very excited to have you here today.
[0:04:08.8] SG: Let’s share some awesome stuff. Shall we?
[0:04:10.5] MB: Yeah, for sure, for sure. So I’d love to start out, I’m really fascinated with the book Super Connector and all of the work you've done. In today's world where we’re flooded with tons and tons of LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers and all of these kind of superficial relationships, how do we work our way through that quagmire?
[0:04:29.6] SG: Yeah. I think it's first understanding we’re all guilty. That's the reality. I think self-awareness is what we consider to be one of the key attributes of successful connectors. People who actually accept faults, understand who they are, what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are and then build upon the proper foundation.
Today, we have been sort of led to believe that our personal brand social media presence is the definitive reason for being in a lot of ways. It's who we are. It’s how people see us. The reality is that has leaked sadly into this network-y style personality that a lot of us have created for ourselves. Rather than being truly authentic, we are being internet authentic. We are being social media conscious before human conscious, and it's really sad because, again, it's not just like the newer generations that are stuck on their phones all day. It is the generation of people who are getting lazier that don't want to go to that event and go meet more people or think that sending a LinkedIn connection to someone is a real connection.
So I think we have to reverse course. I think that the people that will be the most successful in the social media age as noise continues to proliferate are those that actually can provide real signal and be human and allow their humanity to show and allow the technologies and media platforms they use to amplify their humanity and not their messaging or their networking speak or their guru personalities. I think those are the ways forward for this generation.
[0:06:06.2] MB: I think that's really well said, and the lack of authenticity, this almost [inaudible 0:06:09.7] in the year of these kind of fake social media profiles, I think is really a problem today.
[0:06:15.6] SG: I just think at the end of the day, we have been put into this incredible ecosystem of what we believe to be communities that we can tap into. The problem is is that we have conflated the idea of connection with connect poor or connect it, and I think that these terms are not semantics. It is not semantics to say, “I enjoy connecting with people,” versus “I am very connected.” Those are two fundamentally different principles. Yet we turn them into this idea that vanity metrics determine social status. It’s very Black Mirror if you're a watcher of the Netflix series in a lot of ways. It's this sort of idea now that vanity project has become the real project. Whereas if you ask any real connectors, again, whether in business or the personal lives of those that just live by these core principles that we think are the right ways to go about relationship building, they'll tell you that, “Yeah, social media is great and it’s a wonderful way to message. It’s a wonderful way to connect with those you already have relationships with,” but these people that are using it for, frankly, the bastardization of the original intent, which is to amplify a persona I think are going to find themselves very alone in the world when they’re 15 minutes of fame have ended and realized that those that they are connected to are not actually connections.
[0:07:37.7] MB: So where do we go from here?
[0:07:39.6] SG: I think we first have to take step one and say are we emotionally intelligent in our daily lives to actually realize empathetically that we can be of service to others and not just share content, not just look at how do we position ourselves or strategically create the right mood, feel and look of what we are and who we are to the outside world, but actually be of meaningful service. Not to look at a lot of the things we talk about in the book are not tactics. It is a framework for fundamentally changing your life. It is the idea of saying, “Hey, I'm not going to go on nutrisystem for five weeks and lose some weight if I'm going to actually change my lifestyle to lose the weight and live a better life. That's what we’re suggesting here. There is no five steps to success of relationship building. It is fundamentally understanding a couple key principles. Number one; humanity is not going anywhere. You can't automate out humans. You can’t vanity metric your way to building meaningful, long-lasting relationships that are going to be there for you and you for them.
So I think it's about looking at yourself and saying who do you want to surround yourself by? How do you want to live your life? What kind of service and value do you want to bring to a community of peers or what community do you even want to create for yourself and around yourself?
I mean, I take this back to 2010 where I had been just out of a business after really hard knocks learnings around failing because I had no one around me of real value, and I don't mean value in the sense of money or connections. I mean, just people that could’ve help me in the rough times in my first business that failed miserably and almost bankrupted me. That's why I found it YEC. It wasn't to create a sphere of influence around young entrepreneurs or crayon platform. It was because I genuinely wanted to have real conversations with people that had had similar experiences to me that together we could've masterminded our way to find mutual success, and I had not built those fundamental steps and therefore I failed as a result.
So in correcting course admitting that I could not be a team of one, I could not be a success powerhouse of one and realizing that bringing a community around me and me around them we could be more powerful as a collective. My next business was ultimately a much bigger success and that allowed me to now create the kinds of communities around that ethos that really came from a true place of wanting to help others so that others could also help me in times good and bad and everything in between. I think we are forgetting the fundamentals of what a relationship is, because we've been told that a like and a share is the equivalent. That is a mistake.
[0:10:18.9] MB: There are so many things I want to dig into in that. Just the idea that networking or relationship building or whatever kind of term you want to use, it's not about tactics. It's about a fundamental shift in how you interact with people.
[0:10:32.0] SG: It’s so true. I mean, I have people that have come up to me and say, “Wow! I really love how you run your events. I’m going to run my events exactly like you run them.” They asked me advice on that and I'll say, “Look, you could take every single step of what we do, but come off as a networker,” and our definition of a networker, again, is someone who is out for one’s self, a taker, someone that is sort of the wolf in sheep's clothing of trying to be helpful, but really out for themselves, “and [inaudible 0:11:05.9] the entire idea of what you're doing.” Great! You serve the food one way and you created an atmosphere that seemed wonderful, but at the end you handed out the business card and said the wrong thing or gave the wrong feeling or just room the entire room, because it was a charade for your own good.
These are the things that I think people don't realize. We do not live in a tactics world. We've created one. The five steps to this. Three tips to do that. Again, sometimes that’s meaningful. I'm not going to say that I'm not going to offer tips and strategies on what's worked for us, But it comes with a fundamental understanding that you could put a lot of bolts on a really big piece of crap, and those bolts that you're adding on aren’t going to make it stronger.
So I think that this shift in mindset, this de-masking, this idea that we’re getting back down to the basics because we’ve so strayed from those basics because of market speak and MLM hucksters and Guru nonsense that has been blasted in our face and then amplified through social media from people who are out for themselves, trying to come off as people that are actually in it to help us, has distorted us, they’ve created the distortion field. We’ve got to realize, if you can't look someone in the face and have an actual conversation that doesn't in 30 seconds make you think, “What can I get from this?” You don't get, and I think too many people think they get it and will say, “Oh! I’ll do these three things,” but still in the first 30 seconds of a conversation their immediate thing is, “Oh! I can eventually get this from this person.”
If that's what you think, you're going to lose in the end, because a connector doesn't think like that. The first 30 seconds in their mindset, they’re thinking, “What questions and contacts do I need to ask that this person is not giving me that I can extract from them to figure out where I can play a role in their developmental or business success? Where I can actually be helpful instead of just simply saying, “How can I help you?” So that the person thinks somehow that that social script means I care.” That, I think, is something people aren’t doing right now. They're still taking the paint job, but they're not building the house. This has to change if we’re actually going to have a society worth having conversations in, worth building communities for and worth playing a meaningful role in.
[0:13:37.2] MB: That's a great distinction, and I think the idea of coming from a place of truly wanting to help people is one of the cornerstones of networking. Obviously, Keith Ferrazzi talks a lot about that. He was a previous guest on the show. But I love your distinction there. It's not just about saying, “How can I help?” Because that’s sort of platitude that doesn't really actually do anything. It's about digging in and trying to get the context or the right questions to figure out how you can actually help.
[0:14:04.1] SG: So I’m going to tell you. I’m don’t tell many people, and so maybe your audience realizes that there is a human on this side that can admit when he’s wrong too. I used to be a person that would ask that question at ad nauseam. The difference was is that in my mind it wasn't the social script that others used on me, right? I actually was coming from an authentic place with it. I truly was. But in listening to myself and having people talk to me about the kinds of help they were asking for, I realized I’ve gotten lazy. It was wrong, and I finally corrected course.
I remember I went on MSNBC and, of course, they ask you for your top tips and what's your advice, and I said, “Asking how can I help you to actually be of service,” and then a couple weeks later I was with a connector friend of mine, he says to me, “So, Scott, I'm sort of embarrassed for you.” I love this guy. So it's totally cool that he could call me out, and sometimes you need those people, a true community. That should be the reaction.
He goes to me and he says, “Scott. How could you ask how can I help you as your question?” I thought about it for a minute — Now this goes back a couple of years, obviously. Go back and I'm thinking, “Wow! That truly is the worst question, and why is it the worst question?” And that’s I wasn’t asking myself.
So I thought about it — And let's just talk about why. Number one; you're putting the onus on the other person to actually tell someone who, in most cases, you've met for the first time, like this monster thing that they can do to help you as if that is even reasonable. That's number one. Number two; directionally, it provides no guidance. It’s very much not only putting the onus, but directionally it’s coming off as, “Oh! No matter what you asked me to help you, I’m your guy,” which makes no sense. Number three; it shows you don't care, because if you actually wanted to help the person, what are you going to do? You’re going to listen, be more curious. When you don't understand something, ask more questions, then more questions, then smarter questions on top of those questions to come up with a thesis and then you’re going to actually say, “Well, here are some ways I can help you.” proactively offering the actual assistance rather than the lazy thing of, “Oh, great! I’m glad we talked for 45 minutes. I've clearly got nothing from you. So I’m just going to ask this thing to make you feel like I'm totally listening, “How can I help you?” You’ve gotten lazy.
So all of these things together on top of the final nail in the coffin for me, which is it is like every other marketing ask, speak or platform. The first people that I ask, “How can I help you?” umpteen decades ago were probably very wholesome, not out for themselves, not networking authentic people. The second generation, it started to tweak a little bit. By generation and iteration 100, it is the new social script, because if you don't ask that question, you're a horrible person. When you ask that question — Oh, “even if you can help”, you're still a good guy. I argue that people now are still realizing that as a garbage, not listening, not personal nonsense question, that it gives you that bad taste in your mouth like, “Oh! I’m so glad I just wasted 15 minutes of my life talking about all these things,” but actually you didn't give a damn.
So what I tell people is the cure, anecdotally, and I could can speak to this in a number of ways, is you've got to ask better questions. The best connectors are curious. Now, I'm sure someone on your show is going to listen to this and they’re going to say, “Oh! But Scott, that’s so obvious. What an obvious tip. You have to be curious. Oh, man! Thanks for the tip.” You know what? I would then push back and say, “Relive your last five conversations and tell me how curious you were.”
Most people love to talk about how obvious stuff is, but they don't actually do it. They won't actually deep dive more than surface level or one step below surface level. If you end up in a conversation where the answer on the other side is yes no or a phrase or a sentence, you stink at what you do. You should be able to have conversations with anyone, anytime, anywhere by basically — Whether you know the subject matter not, by the way, just by consistently asking questions or better questions to start a conversation. So instead of like, “Hey! What are you working on these days?” How about, “What are you working on right now that makes you wake up in the morning excited?” People love talk about that. Then all of a sudden it's, “Oh, great! Tell me, like what are goals for that? What is success look like for you? In a year from now if we talk again, what makes it so that that thing you did was a winner or a loser? What are the steps you need to do to get there?”
In that five or six question series, there is no question that any good connector is in their mind is thinking, “Who do I know? What resource do I have? What five people can I connect for more knowledge here for this person and then in the end be able to actually facilitate it?” Even if the help at the end of the day didn't get them over to the goal line, by actually going that level of methodical series of steps, you will have a relationship in place with a continuing conversation over time that shows you care.
[0:19:08.7] MB: There's a lot of stuff I want to unpack from that as well. I love, first of all, just the insight that most people talk about how obvious things are, but never actually just do it even though it's really simple. I think that's a great just observation in general. Not just about kind of relationship building, but I think more broadly really, really applicable.
I'm curious, I want to dig in on this idea of asking better questions and cultivating curiosity. Tell me more about how we can get better at that.
[0:19:32.6] SG: Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, like anything else, you got to do an audit of yourself. You have to actually look at conversations you've done, and this takes some thinking. Again, this is an intellectual exercise. Or it's catching yourself as you’re starting to retrain your brain of how you want to be. Bottom line is, Matt, I mean, at the end of the day, if you are someone who really wants to be more authentic in your relationships and you don't care about people or care about what they have to say or selectively care or only care when it is applicable to what you do every day or only care when you see a benefit for you in it, you don't get it.
So you need to actually start patching yourself. Again, I don’t think the people are awful people if they do these things. I think is how they’ve been built bill or how they’ve been trained, like any bad thing, biting your fingernails, doing horrible — Spitting, whatever you're thing is. Your thing that you got to do to get over, to get over the hill, it takes training and petition and constantly checking yourself and improving incrementally to get better.
I think that in order to be a curious person you first have to figure out, could you sit in a room with someone that you share no commonalities with, that you don't understand anything about what they do, that in a room where you were with that person, you would ever even want to read a book, let alone a blog or anything on the subject matter of relevance to them. Could you take all that and then say, “Okay. I’m going to have a conversation and by the end not be a subject matter expert on this person,” but have a fundamental series of at least understanding, points in the sky that you could aim towards to actually make it so you learn something, and not just learn something necessarily to help that person. I mean, the one clear offshoot in value and there’s going to be a lot of people you can’t help or people you shouldn't help or people, frankly, that you are not going to provide enough value to, so you shouldn’t just try.
But I think that there's something to be said about just being okay with great conversation. You’ve got to be okay with that. Even if you're introverted, right? My partner and I, the reason we wrote this book together is I'm an extreme extrovert. He's an incredibly extreme introvert. So the perspectives in this book aren't like, “Well, if you’re not a type A, you shouldn't be a connector.” That's nonsense. Most introverts are actually better connectors in many cases and extroverts could learn a lot from that. But either way, peripherally, you need to understand that regardless of who you are, you need to actually, whatever environment you're in, be able to pull in that context and understanding. Not to be a major on the subject, but to care. So I think that's what you need to do.
Asking better questions, it's more of just forward thinking, conversational questions that actually continue your curiosity, that don't just lead to, “Oh! Do you like today's weather?” or small talk. Small talk is horrible. What is small talk? Small talks is another version of how can I help you. It’s that lazy thing that a networker does when they're shaking your hand with one hand, handing you a business card with the other, talking to you about themselves while looking over your shoulder, who else is in the room that they should be meeting after they're done with the social scripts of you.
So anything that comes up is lazy is probably not correct. So audit yourself. Determine ultimately, are you guilty of some of these things? Start figuring out questions that you feel you want to ask people. There's no set of correct once. Again, along the lines of what are you working on right now that excites you? Something that is in the moment, something that has a series of steps that can go up, something that is meaningful to the other person that helps them to talk about themselves which most people don't.
Then I’m going to give you the fourth one, which most extroverts are going to be like, “Oh my God! This is crazy. I’ll never do this.” Listen. We are so bad at listening type As, because we’re always like, “Our minds works so fast. We want to get the next word out.” Sometimes — You know what? Shutting up is the best thing you can do as a connector, and then listening to take in that context. So you could build a profile of someone that actually allows you to figure out what next words you should say, because typically if you think too fast on your feet as a type A, the next word you're always going to say without listening are the wrong words or is about you or sets up something that the other person’s going to be sort of taken aback by or eyes glazed over, because it shows you were just waiting to get the words out. So these are the kinds of things that you just be okay with and learn from and adapt to that new reality of conversational tone.
[0:23:58.5] MB: I want to dig in a little more broadly too about kind of the art of conversation. Let's say you meet somebody at an event or a cocktail party or something like that. How can listeners learn how to sort of communicate with anyone about anything?
[0:24:12.4] SG: It’s interesting. So I am going to argue against the premise, but not to say you're wrong, obviously, but to give you a sense of what a connector is going to do before they even put themselves in the room. So the difference is is that people look at things like networking events as, “Oh! I go to a networking event, because I want to meet people,” but they often don't ask themselves a lot of questions before they go into that room.
Number one; should I be attending this event? Number two; if I am, is there anybody with me? Am I sort of going with anchors that already have a built-in series of relationships or foundational understanding in the room? Are they already a connector in that space? So there's a lot of things that go into selecting your pond, if you will, because, again, connectors are methodical, productivity hackers, people who are very methodical about the time and the place and the surroundings, not just environmentally, but the physical space, the intimacy of a room versus the large-scale room. It's knowing the kind of connector you are, because that's how your conversational tone will be effective.
As an example, if you’re introvert, you probably don't want to just go to some random networking event, and you're not wrong for thinking that. What an introvert might do is say, “Okay. I know there's this big conference that's coming to town. There's no way I'm going to put myself in a room with 2,000 people. I’ll have a panic attack. But it's a subject matter area that is incredibly relevant to me. So what can I do?” Well, maybe you could go and reach out to 15 or 16 people that are going to be at that event that you found on social media, or that your friends know that are going to attend, or you have two or three of the 16 that are really fundamental members of your community or your world that they can invite the top people in the space that matter, and you bring them to an oasis, a private space that’s intimates, that takes them away from the action, that makes it a very highly valuable experience not just for you, but for them. People that are also attending these kinds of activities with the intent of the goal of meeting great people, but you're doing the work. You're curating the experience.
How do you first communicate with anyone? You put them in an environment that's a safe space for you. The second is you figure out the key areas that those people bring to a conversation before they come in the room. For example, in our events in YEC, if you go to an event in any of our communities, in YEC in particular, we’re going to survey on what are two challenges you're facing right now in your business and what is a major strength or a major win you've had in learning something big that helps your businessman in last year? Then, of course, we’re going to give you the CV LinkedIn style details. We’re going to put a digest together. We’re going to send that to every person, and then we’re going to make suggestions of who should make sure they talk by the end of the event, because we know what both sides of the challenges and the strengths are. All that work allows people to come in, especially you as the connector with a whole lot of conversations you can have right off the bat.
So I think the way you communicate with anyone about anything, it starts with the curiosity. It goes with the selectivity and curation of creating that safe space or that environment whenever you can. Putting in yourself at least in the space that you're comfortable in. I mean, an extrovert. There are people like myself that could walk into a thousand person conference room or a conference center rather and create great relationships, but I still want to take those folks back to a safe space, because you might want to pick the right people you want to keep in touch with at a big room like that, but still bringing them back to something intimate, and small, and meaningful, and then deliver on an experience that’s highly valuable where you're not the only one that is having the conversation, but you’ve brought in a lot of stakeholders that see you as the sphere of influence, the reason that these great conversations occurred, but not necessarily the person that even has to speak.
Now you’re the sphere of influence, the center of these conversations of many different conversations. You’re seen as the ringmaster, if you will, of the whole thing, and you might not have even spoken all 16 people, but all 16 people, because of the value that they’ve created based on your creation of this safe space is going to be the person that walks away probably with the most fundamental relationships and foundations for those relationships established.
[0:28:25.1] MB: I wanted to stop and once again let you guys know that this episode today is sponsored by Audible. We’re really excited to have Audible as a sponsor. As I mentioned, I'm a huge fan of Audible and I listen to it on an almost daily basis. I did more than 10 audiobooks last year on Audible and I've really been enjoying a number of books recently, and I mentioned Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and the Intro, and another book that I recently finished on Audible that was fascinating, and I think listeners of this show in particular will really enjoy, was the Undoing Project by Michael Lewis. I found the book to be fascinating. It's about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, to the founders of behavioral economics and thinkers that had a tremendous impact on psychology as a whole and me as an individual and really shaping in many ways what the show has become.
Michael Lewis, incredible author, a really great story, compelling, gripping. You’ll find yourself laughing. You'll find yourself stunned by some the conclusions, but that was a great audiobook. like I said, I really listen to Audible all the time. Being podcast host, somebody who listens to podcasts and audio, Audible in particular is something that I really care about and use nearly daily. So I'm really excited they're sponsoring this episode and they're offering a free audiobook and a 30-day free membership for our listeners. So you can get that by going to audible.com/success. That’s audible.com/success or by texting the word SUCCESS to 500500. That’s SUCCESS to 500500.
Guys, check out that offer. If you haven't, be sure to check out Audible. You can get it at audible.com/success. I would love to continue having them be a sponsor of the show.
Also, I wanted to tell you about our second sponsor for this episode, Ample K. Ample K is the first all-in-one keto meal to provide sufficiently healthy fats in a powdered and mixed on-the-go format. I'm a huge Ample user as well. In fact I'm having Ample for breakfast today, and they sent us a couple free samples. It took me forever to actually try one, and once I did, I was completely hooked. There's like 400 calories, almost 30 grams of protein, a great balance of healthy nutritious fats. It's really exactly what you could look for in a sort of a meal, powdered meal on-the-go shake, and I have probably three or four Amples a week. Great! I just ordered along with the producer of the show, Austin, who's also a big fan of Ample. We just ordered a huge, like whatever the biggest boxes. We had these giant boxes of Ample just come in, and I'm a huge fan of Ample as well. So I'm really excited to have them be a sponsor.
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Back to the show.
[0:31:23.4] MB: You touched on this a little bit, but I think in Super Connector you dig more deeply and talk sort about related concept. But the idea of sort of being a curators versus being a creator. Tell me a little bit more about that.
[0:31:36.2] SG: Yeah. I mean, look, some people are wonderful at writing content and some people are wonderful at curating content. Just as a basic example, a lot of content today is thought leadership garbage. It is advertorial, click bait, funnel metric-driven traffic with a goal in mind. Now, I don't want to make it sound like connectors can't profit at some point in their lives. These folks can't be nonprofit only zealots that only care about others. Clearly, you have to be able to create value for yourself in order to create value for others, or what value ultimately do you provide.
But at the end of the day, creators are people that, let's say, in the form of content, could put out really valuable content that brings people together and creates dialogue and conversation, which is ironic, because right now that's sort of the big thing with Facebook and all these major social media outlets now that realize how much garbage is on their sites and they’re trying to now make it back to the original founder’s intent, creating conversation around the high-value content initially driven by individuals, not brands, not media companies. This is very much in line with where I think the world's going in general.
But those creators can create tribes because the content and the value they’re creating is so impactful that they can create. Some people can't do that or shouldn't do that, but they can create highly valuable curated pieces, pulling the best minds together that have created really thought-provoking pieces of content that on a newsletter, let's say, could spark massive dialogue amongst the top intellectuals or the top professionals in a certain field. So I think you can't force — Again, going back to the tactic discussion. You can't say, “Oh! I read a blog that talks about content marketing, and so I have to put a personal brand out there,” because — You know what? If you suck at creating content or you are, again, networker-esk in your content approach, out for yourself, icky transactional oriented, it’s not going to work anyway.
So I think you need to — Just like you need to figure out are you an introvert or an extroverted, I think you have to determine, are you someone that could gather people together to inspire dialogue, and the gathering is based on the creation of very valuable and raw information that people will really have deep conversations about again? That puts you in the sphere of influence, because you are the curator of that experience? Or are you someone that does have something very relevant to say that can create dialogue around the words, thoughts, insights that you are bringing to the world yourself Neither of those is right or wrong. It's just a fit for you or not.
[0:34:16.4] MB: So it seems like both of these strategies, and also kind of circling back to the idea of when you're going to an event, creating sort of your own safe space, revolve around the key principle of placing yourself at sort of the center of what's going on.
[0:34:32.3] SG: Absolutely. Community today and the ability to build walled-off access to the people and things that matter will be eventually what is the keys to the kingdom? Because, at some point, the noise is just going to get so loud that the people that matter — And I don't mean that in the sense of it's just the C-suite or just the intellectual set. The people that matter to you are going to need that, say, space, because they’re going to flock from these overcrowded, oversaturated platforms in the real-world and in the online one. Those that are able to curate the right people together that can basically allow for these thriving communities to sustain beyond the founder, him or herself, are going to be the ones that ultimately are the most powerful from a social capital level, from a he potential profitability level, from just the reality of where I believe and where my coauthor, Ryan, believes, the real relationships that change the world, your world, the big world, whatever you want to call it, are going to come from.
So people need to invest in others to surround themselves with amazing people, because amazing people do what? They bring in other amazing people. When you put a thesis together, Let's again take, say, the YEC, Young Entrepreneur Council. That ethos was initially we really care about youth entrepreneurship, and the idea of building the next generation of young entrepreneurs and inspiring them through our actions. As a direct corollary, if we combine our efforts to do, not only could we create impact, but by connecting together in general we can also help one another to ensure mutual success where we can continue to give back to that original message, that original thesis. What brought us together initially?
So it builds and builds and builds, but it doesn't mean that Scott Gerber or Ryan Paul have to drive every initiative, every conversation, everything that matters, because the group is built so much on to that fundamental principal and they all so buy into it. It's about helping young entrepreneurs succeed that they want to be a part of that conversation proactively and reactively.
But YEC has grown far beyond the original intent. It was not meant to necessarily be in the thousands of people, but those thousands of people are all incredibly curated, amazing and vetted because of the initial foundation we put out. So not only is it created, obviously, a business. I don't want to be coy about it. It’s created a business, but it’s also created a mastermind and a hive for people that also like me, when I started it, felt alone. They couldn't talk to anybody else. There was no one else that understood them or they didn't just have enough, what I'll call, general knowledge outside of their subject matter expertise, or their specific location, or their specific industry, and they wanted to become more worldly, and what better place to become more worldly than the smartest people in our generation in various different other market sectors, countries, and so on? But at the end of the day, the direct and indirect access that Ryan and myself now have because of not just the people we’ve brought to that community and our team has brought to the community, but the community has brought to the community, allows for it to have an exponential value to us and to the company as a whole while simultaneously providing exponential indirect and direct opportunity to the members themselves. And that is a real win-win. That was based on a wholesome intent. That started with a smart foundation. That almost in the movie, Inception, is an idea that once it's planted you can't “buy that real estate”. It's an idea you own. It's an idea that is implanted in you. It's something you believe in with her for heart and mind, and that is something that no marketer, no MLM person, no one, can go and just buy their way into.
[0:38:29.6] MB: How does somebody who’s a super connector — And I think the community answers here just talking about kind of addresses in some way, but I'm curious specifically maybe from your perspective, but how is someone who’s a super connector kind of manage or stay on top of such a huge amount of connections in a way that's authentic but also kind of — It can still be executed and sort of managed in a meaning way?
[0:38:54.4] SG: Absolutely. It's funny. There are some secrets of the trade, just like any other mindset shift. I think people have to realize that technology is meant to amplify humanity and not cheat it. I think, today, a lot of people view technology or these platforms that can help you systemize and create value for others as a means to convert or have a funnel click or get a like or a share. Again, just like everything else, you got to take it back and you have say to yourself, “Okay. What works for me so I can remember this information that I just learned about John Smith at the bar tonight that he likes this kind of drink, that he's changing jobs and looking for this position, that he likes the Caipirinha, that his son is an all-star basketball player.” So on and so forth. How do I just keep that treasure trove of information that only I have that is not on a LinkedIn profile so that I can keep in touch in a meaningful way with that person?
So some people, like me, keep it be very simple. I put a contact information in the notes section of my contacts in my iPhone, and then I will put just a reminder, “Hey, check in with him in X-number of weeks or X-number of months or X-number of days depending on what we talked about,” and in the follow-up CC, which is what I use. Some people use Boomerang or other scheduling tools or reminder tools, but in my follow-up CC, I’ll and myself an email that says, “Hey, talk about these couple of things. Check in on this. See if you could provide value here, here, based on what happened from what we talked about at this time.” Simple as that.
It is not cheating for me to send myself a reminder, but then no offense to the person I was talking to or anyone else, forget about it until it comes back in my circle, because either I'm helping other folks or I have to, again, be successful myself in order to help others and dedicate the time that is necessary. So it’s finding the cheats to your time that are not cheating the person or cheating the goals of the communication of the person, but simply cheating your productivity and hours in a day that I think is really about the mindset.
There are some connectors we talked about, like this wonderful man named Michael Roderick. He's in the book in Super Connector, and wonderful, wonderful connector. He is just the salt of the earth. But he has literally developed a multi-level documents that is just this monster spreadsheet online that not only has all this contextual data about all these conversations with relevant points and relevant things about a person. But he has different scores for people, and not scoring them as, “Is this a good person or a bad person?” but does this person fit in this category of how I deem someone or that category. Again, just helping him instantly be able to search in a document based on his own rubric a series of keywords and then be able to basically sort those keywords by how he has graded these individuals by type of person to try to find the right people when he doesn't think a connection makes sense to someone. Introduce an extrovert with an extrovert in this specific subject area. I need someone that was having this challenge solved with this expertise in this period of time.
It’s a series of creating, again, whether it's high-end CRMs or low-end SaaS tech that help cheat productivity but not people, but that's most of it. I think a lot of things also comes down to how well you schedule yourself the best connectors also are people that care about the minutes of the day, and I think that comes down to ensuring that you’re providing the proper amount of time to yourself and creating a series of things that you just won't do. You have to be able to say no also. A lot of people say yes to everything, “I’ll help you with this. Let me take time for that,” and then by the end of the day you realized, “Oh, man. I didn’t actually moved myself forward. So what does that do?”
I think there does come a point where you need to be able to develop systems around your own efficiencies so that you can remain efficient to other people. That could be blocking time. It could be using virtual assistance or in-person assistance. It can be scheduling meetings that are about like, “Hey, let’s go grab a coffee in clusters,” like if 10 people want to meet you for coffee. Don’t go 10 meetings. Bring 10 people together for one coffee meeting. Again, create a safe space, curate people together, create value that is collective, not just one-on-one. But these kinds of systems in real estate that you need to create are personal, and that’s why in the book, in Super Connector, none of these things are if you do this you will be successful, but rather here's a series of traits, anecdotes and value-add frameworks that work for certain people. Take from what you will these different things to make them your own. I think that's sort of my final message to everyone. No one, no one, myself, my partner, any of the best connectors on planet Earth can give you that step-by-step guide. There is no five-minute abs formula here.
But we can share with you the best practices that we've made our own, that we feel in our hearts are true, that are wholesome and that create value for all involved, including ourselves, but in a way that makes us go to bed at night and say, “You know what? We’re good people with good intentions that truly want to change and help people’s lives, but with the understandings and frameworks that are going to help us be efficient at doing just that.”
If you could take away one thing from anything in this interview, if you are amazing enough to buy the book, which I would love and I appreciate every person that could buy this book not because I'm looking to be a rich author, but because I believe these practices will lead to better human interaction. If I can leave you with one thing, it's that. It's don't try to cheat real-time. Relationships take real-time and real effort. Cheat your own time, but not the time it takes to build relationships with others.
[0:44:43.2] MB: I think that’s great advice and it makes a ton of sense applying technology in the right context, but not necessarily in a way that’s sort of magnifies that social media noise that we talked about before.
I’m curious, what’s kind of one actionable piece of homework be that you would give to somebody listening to this interview that they could kind of start to concretely implement the ideas we’ve talked about today?
[0:45:05.3] SG: I think first and foremost I go back to the idea of really having some introspection and audit yourself to see where you really are. Have a moment where you actually are not trying to be on stage, whether that is a real-world stage or a digital stage platform if you will and just ask yourself some basic questions. Am I someone that can see beyond transactional value? Not showing off for anybody. If you say, “No, I'm not.” Well, at least you have an answer.
Then you ask yourself, “Okay. If I am beyond transactional value, if I can get beyond this and I can create a series of methodologies and systems that work for me to create value for others, how would I start that process? Do I have a community currently? Do I have a group of people that I believe, fundamentally, are my anchors, the people that are around me in a meaningful way that can begin this foundation of something I care about and build that community around me?” But just asking yourself a lot of questions, deep thought and being honest with yourself. Getting your back down to you’re being naked. Getting rid of that paint and that arrogance that we've been putting on, whether you're an introvert or extrovert, for years of always potentially trying to be the belle of the ball on a public stage. Instead just really asking yourself some fundamentals and not lying to yourself, and then when you figure all that out and if you find yourself to be someone that you feel you want to be a connector, tracking in the back your mind without like scripting yourself. Just doing what you've always done in your next couple of conversations and seeing if you catch yourself.
Are you really being honest with yourself or did you just trick yourself into believing you are honest with yourself. Do you really have that transactional mindset? Because John's dad runs a carwash when you met him at an event and he wasn't really valuable to you. Did you say to yourself, “You know, I really need to get away from this person, because he doesn't help me.” Did you even have that instinct in your head? If you did, it doesn't mean you’re a horrible person. But just being honest with yourself. That is to be the best way to help rebuild yourself. I think those small steps, assessing who you are, will be the foundational understanding if you can be the emotionally, intelligent, self-aware curious person that it will take to be a super connector.
[0:47:21.3] MB: It's amazing. The notions of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, probably the two most recurrent themes on our show regardless of what kind of skillset we’re talking about developing. Those are some of the fundamental cornerstones of developing nearly anything.
Scott, where listeners find you and your books online?
[0:47:40.8] SG: Absolutely. Well, thank you everyone. I really appreciate the platform and the time, Matt. This is a subject matter we really care about. If you want to check out the book, obviously it will be available everywhere books are sold. It goes on sale February 27th, 2018 with preorders available now. You can go to superconnectorbook.com to check out the book, some of the connectors, and you could follow my partner and I, @ryanpaugh or me, @scottgerber on Twitter. We’re very active and love to engage in conversation around these types topics, so feel free to check us out there.
[0:48:17.1] MB: Well, Scott, thank you so much for coming on the show, sharing all these wisdom. Great strategies really solid principles for building authentic relationships in today's environment.
[0:48:27.3] SG: Thanks for having me.
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