Learn social skills and instant rapport from a NYT journalist
July 08th, 2013 - 14 Comments
Did I tell you how I ended up choosing a major in college that made people crinkle their nose and say, “You’re studying WHAT??”
Back in the day, like all high-school kids, I was delusional and dumb. I would brag to my friends that I wanted to study “computer science, but with no programming and no math.” I said that as a half-joke, but not really, since I suck at both of those things and was desperate to avoid them.
I ended up finding the perfect major: something called Science, Technology, and Society, an awesome major that let me study the psychology of persuasion, group dynamics, deception, history, and design.
The only problem was, NOBODY wanted me to take it. My college advisors said, “Pick computer science…you can get jobs.” My friends thought it was a major for athletes.
What happens when you’re making a huge decision…and nobody supports you? Worse, you have VERY FEW role models who’ve done what you’re about to do?
This isn’t deciding what sandwich to buy from Subway. Picking a major is potentially life-changing. Imagine sitting in your dorm room, endlessly turning the pages of your Course Catalog to decide what major to take. Contradictory advice. Nobody who really understands what you want to do. In fact, *I* didn’t even know what I wanted to do!
When we’re facing a decision that’s so uncertain, so risky, so scary…what do we do?
We start rationalizing taking the safe choice. And because we’re experts at smothering our own fears, we do it in very creative ways. We use creative “self-talk” like this:
- “You know what, I should take the safe major. Yeah, I won’t get to study a lot of the cool things I want to…but it will open a lot of doors” (“open door” theory of more hypothetical options later)
- “I can always study those things sometime down the road” (kicking the can)
- “If that was such a good major, why aren’t more people taking it?” (search for social proof)
Attention weirdo IWT readers: This isn’t about picking a college major. This is about ANY major life decision you’ve faced where you were nervous, uncertain, and unclear about what to do.
I ended up developing a framework to make major decisions like this. It let me sort the “cobwebs” in my head:
Should I do this?
What if ____ happens?
How can I be sure I’m making the right choice?
WHAT MOST PEOPLE DO: They go “inward,” trying to think their way to clarity. They write lots of “Pro/Con” sheets of paper, hoping the answer will magically reveal itself like the Beautiful Mind movie with Russell Crowe.
WHAT MARGINALLY SMARTER PEOPLE DO: They realize that with uncertain matters, you can’t simply think your way to clarity. So they reach out to people around them and ask for advice. However, they often make a critical mistake: They only ask people just like them — people at the same level with the same level of knowledge and experience.
WHAT SMART PEOPLE DO: Not only do they ask people for advice, they ask people with different backgrounds and varied levels of expertise.
I went through all 3 levels. I first started by writing down every Pro/Con I could think of. Nothing helped. Then I asked my friends, who were all freshmen or sophomores. Not much help there.
FINALLY, I started reaching out to other people: advisors, graduates, business people, cold-emailing random people I admired…everyone! And I sorted through the feedback.
A lot of us are afraid to do this because, why would they even talk to me? What if they tell me something OPPOSITE of what I want to hear? It’s easy to hide in the dark and cover your ears. But true growth happens when you intentionally expose yourself to challenging feedback…then develop a system to sort through it.
I got better at doing this. Years later, I moved to NYC to think bigger and expose myself to different types of feedback. I realized that although I knew a lot of extremely smart people in Silicon Valley, I was only getting one-dimensional feedback.
Isn’t it weird? How many of us want to get extraordinary rewards — live the life, be able to buy drinks for our friends without worrying about cost, travel whenever we want, stay at amazing hotels, eat out at amazing restaurants — but we take the most conventional routes possible?
And when faced with tough decisions — decisions that could potentially SKYROCKET our careers and lives, or keep us stagnant in our psychological quicksand — we retreat into ourselves, and the same group of people we ALWAYS turn to, instead of reaching out to the very best people who could give us definitive answers?
There’s a better way.
We can reach out to the world-class masters who have world-class advice. Even one “tip” they give us could be potentially life-changing.
Now, you can spend years cultivating a network like this through adding massive value, cold calls, attending conferences, and on and on…
Or you can simply tap into my network.
I’m fortunate enough to have a personal network that extends into dozens of industries — fashion, tech, online business, modeling, journalism, venture capital.
And it’s my treat is being able to open that network up to you to give you access to the very best people in the world. All as a thank-you for being an I Will Teach You To Be Rich reader.
Introducing an interview with New York Times columnist Ron Lieber
I invited my friend Ron Lieber, who writes the New York Times money column, into my studio to ask him questions about being a top-tier journalist, building instant rapport with people, and how to be curious.
I also wanted to deconstruct the methods and mindset behind his way to mastery.
See, you can learn a lot from a journalist even if you don’t want to be one. For example, here’s just some of what we covered in our conversation:
- How to strike up a conversation with anyone — and go deeper than the generic, “Hi, how are you?”
- The fun “conversational game” you can play to rapidly build your personal-connection skills
- The 3-minute way to add value to a VIP
- How to balance being uber-specialized with a more multi-dimensional approach
- Ron’s insider recommendations for pitching stories to the New York Times — or any media outlet
- The proven system for becoming a well-known writer
- How to become a “super-connector” in the middle of your social community
- The most effective way to use Facebook or Twitter (Hint: it’s not to share vacation photos)
Watch the video excerpt here:
This interview is part of my “Brain Trust” program, where each month I unveil a new interview with my personal mentors, advisors, and confidants each month. Each month, you get access to these private interviews, as well as a private community of 1,000+ top-notch IWT readers…plus in-person meetups in your town.
This program is closed right now, but if you’re interested in getting on the waitlist, you can add yourself here: www.ramitsbraintrust.com
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