So, true story: almost everyone on my team here at Happen to Your Career is an introvert. (Myself included!)

Which is kind of surprising for a company that teaches people all about how to use relationship-building and presentation skills to create new opportunities in your professional life, right?

Well, contrary to popular belief, we introverts don’t have to be completely socially anxious and hiding ourselves away in a closet somewhere. (Most of the time.)

Case in point: this week’s podcast episode with AJ Harbinger, from The Art of Charm, he reveals that despite being a social skills coach for top performers, he’s also an introvert.

So what’s his secret weapon for making conversation as enjoyable and fulfilling as possible? It’s the same skillset that Brene Brown identified in her famous TED Talk: The Power of Vulnerability.

A lot of us have this confusion or misconception around connection. We feel or assume that connection happens through commonalities, shared interests. In reality it happens through sharing emotions because they are universal. Vulnerability leads to connection.AJ Harbinger

AJ learned about using vulnerability to create connection and relationships the hard way — through a lot of painful life lessons learned from doing things wrong:

“I’m introverted. Even though I have these tools and skills of extroverts. It’s energetically draining for me to go into a loud crazy social environment and talk to a lot of people….My career stalled out in graduate school because I didn’t have effective social skills. I held back not sharing ideas. Over time that led to my boss and laboratory mates thinking I was arrogant and disinterested.
When you have that situation where you are feeling and acting one way but the people you interact with are getting a different sense of who you are it can lead to a lot of frustration and heartache.” – AJ Harbinger
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AJ breaks down the building blocks of connection into a simple analytical process so that anybody can create a meaningful conversation with a total stranger.

His process streamlines conversational confusion and creates conversation starters broken down into these three clear steps:

1. Are questions and smiles all it really takes to be interesting?

We all know that someone interested in you through nonverbal communication, body language, being present, and having great energy but what does that actually mean?

Counterintuitively, if you showcase parts of your personality that include being challenging, not being totally agreeable and boring, you become more “real” and more intriguing to someone else.

This means that taking a genuine interest in the other person and asking them questions, listening for the emotions and deeper-level answers. Focus on asking “how” and “why questions.

I personally use the emotion indicators as my signal to go deeper.

For example: I met this photographer in a coffee shop the other day. He told me every year he takes 12 teenage kids plus to a different country in Africa to build houses for people that need them.

We started out by talking about what he did for work, but when he started telling me about this his tone changed, his voice changed, he had a smile on his face as he was talking and he was leaning forward as he was talking to me about it.

All those signs were indicators that was the subject I wanted to find out more about… plus I was genuinely interested in what he was telling me!

Listen with your eyes and your ears, so you’re staying present to all the nuance of their communication.

Remember, to be interesting, be interested.


2. Wait… So I shouldn’t tell them I like their shirt?

Once they’re interested, show genuine interest back and reward their interest with a compliment about their personality or character or even something they clearly value and care about.

What this looks like:

Remember my coffee shop photographer friend from above? When he began sharing his “building houses in Africa” story I was impressed. So I told him that.

He had a cool camera (Canon 7D for photography buffs) and I could have given him a compliment on that. But it’s more meaningful and creates a different experience if I focus on personality, character or what he values.

Compliments about superficial parts of them will come off as…superficial. Dig deep about something you find beautiful in their heart or soul that you’ve picked up on from the conversation.

For a conversational cheat sheet in this part, you can ask a question, listen to the answer, and then respond with a statement. Note that you actually do not want to respond with another question! After an average of two questions, they’ll start being interested in you and asking a question in return to fulfill the norm of reciprocity.


3. Once they’re interested now you can share your story

Finally, once you’ve developed a rapport and back-and-forth, share your own narrative. Build a connection with them by picking an emotion they’ve mentioned that resonates with one of your life lessons, and share that lesson.

For a template on exactly how to do that AND  to map out your own narrative so you’re prepared to share it:

How to start having vulnerable conversations right now

Creating connection is the first stop to relationships and it takes practice and for most people trial and error to truly master this.

If you want an even deeper understanding listen to the entire episode above or download on iTunes or Stitcher.

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Transcript from Episode

Scott Barlow: Welcome back to Happen to Your Career. I am ridiculously excited to be here with our guest today. He has a very interesting story with a couple twists and turns for how he got to where he is now. His expertise relates to what you are all interested in. We will dive into that. AJ Harbinger welcome to the show.

AJ Harbinger: Thanks for having me.

Scott Barlow: How do you tell people what you do?

AJ Harbinger: I'm a social skills coach for top performers. I work with people who struggle with social anxiety and introversion and give them the tools that extroverts use to get ahead in their career.

Scott Barlow: That is perfect and a reason we are interested in talking to you today. Where did that start for you? Your career didn't start anywhere close to that right?

AJ Harbinger: That is fair to say. Growing up I wanted to be a doctor. My dad was a single parent and a blue collar guy putting a lot of emphasis on education. The idea of his son becoming a doctor was pleasing to him. That was my track in high school and college. When I got into college I decided to strengthen my medical school application and get a job in a hospital. I got my first medical job in the emergency room. And I hated it. The quality of life for most people in the medical profession, especially in the emergency room, was pretty poor. I worked with a lot of doctors that were tried to their pager and didn't have time to spend with their family or travel and they had a large amount of debt. Up until this time I had family friends that were doctors, my aunt was a nurse. I had the sunny rosier picture of modern medicine and this was my first real experience where it was unfiltered. I didn't like the clinic setting and the pressures of being profitable as a medical professional. I told my dad I wasn't sure about medical school and wanted to travel a bit after graduation. It frustrated him because I had put all this time, energy, and effort into science and he thought I needed to go to medical school next. He told me what any responsible parent would tell their child looking to travel, get a job, I'm not paying for you to travel. Put this education to work.

I​ ​got​ ​my​ ​first​ ​real​ ​job​ ​out​ ​of​ ​college​ ​at​ ​a​ ​laboratory​ ​doing​ ​research​ ​on head/neck​ ​cancers.​ ​My​ ​boss​ ​was​ ​a​ ​surgeon​ ​who​ ​removed​ ​tumors​ ​from patients.​ ​I​ ​took​ ​a​ ​small​ ​piece​ ​and​ ​did​ ​experiments​ ​on​ ​the​ ​tumors​ ​using animal​ ​models​ ​to​ ​try​ ​and​ ​isolate​ ​a​ ​population​ ​of​ ​cancer​ ​stem​ ​cells,​ ​a​ ​popular theory​ ​in​ ​cancer​ ​about​ ​10​ ​years​ ​ago.​ ​After​ ​working​ ​on​ ​this​ ​for​ ​a​ ​year​ ​we were​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​publish.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​excited​ ​to​ ​prove​ ​to​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​I​ ​had​ ​started​ ​this biology​ ​career​ ​and​ ​it​ ​was​ ​going​ ​somewhere.​ ​Unfortunately​ ​Stanford​ ​scooped us.​ ​A​ ​laboratory​ ​in​ ​Stanford​ ​was​ ​ready​ ​to​ ​publish​ ​the​ ​same​ ​results.​ ​Medicine doesn’t​ ​care​ ​about​ ​the​ ​second​ ​person​ ​on​ ​the​ ​moon​ ​just​ ​the​ ​person​ ​who discovered​ ​the​ ​event.​ ​My​ ​boss​ ​was​ ​freaking​ ​out​ ​because​ ​he​ ​needed​ ​the paper​ ​to​ ​be​ ​tenured.​ ​He​ ​made​ ​a​ ​deal​ ​with​ ​Stanford​ ​to​ ​combine​ ​results​ ​and
publish​ ​together.​ ​I​ ​received​ ​zero​ ​credit​ ​for​ ​my​ ​work.​ ​I​ ​went​ ​from​ ​first​ ​author on​ ​the​ ​paper​ ​to​ ​third​ ​author​ ​and​ ​Stanford​ ​and​ ​my​ ​boss​ ​receiving​ ​majority​ ​of the​ ​credit.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​pretty​ ​disappointed.

Growing​ ​up​ ​I​ ​just​ ​had​ ​to​ ​work​ ​harder​ ​than​ ​everyone​ ​else​ ​and​ ​I​ ​would succeed.​ ​I​ ​never​ ​thought​ ​about​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​being​ ​important​ ​to​ ​your​ ​success. My​ ​dad​ ​was​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​education.​ ​My​ ​boss​ ​could​ ​tell​ ​this​ ​shook​ ​me.​ ​He pulled​ ​me​ ​aside​ ​and​ ​said​ ​I’m​ ​sorry​ ​it​ ​shook​ ​out​ ​this​ ​way​ ​but​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​help you,​ ​you​ ​did​ ​a​ ​great​ ​job​ ​on​ ​the​ ​project​ ​and​ ​you​ ​are​ ​doing​ ​graduate​ ​student level​ ​work.​ ​You​ ​are​ ​the​ ​only​ ​one​ ​working​ ​on​ ​this​ ​project​ ​in​ ​a​ ​laboratory​ ​by yourself.​ ​Have​ ​you​ ​thought​ ​about​ ​getting​ ​a​ ​PhD?​ ​It​ ​was​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time​ ​I​ ​had thought​ ​about​ ​it.​ ​We​ ​started​ ​talking​ ​he​ ​said​ ​let​ ​me​ ​talk​ ​to​ ​the​ ​university​ ​of Michigan​ ​and​ ​see​ ​if​ ​I​ ​can​ ​get​ ​you​ ​into​ ​next​ ​year’s​ ​graduate​ ​school​ ​class.​ ​He did.​ ​I​applied​ ​and​ ​was​ ​accepted.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​choose​ ​a​ ​new​ ​laboratory​ ​because my​ ​current​ ​boss​ ​wasn’t​ ​tenured​ ​yet.​ ​Trying​ ​to​ ​find​ ​a​ ​new​ ​laboratory​ ​I wanted​ ​to​ ​get​ ​into​ ​the​ ​best​ ​one​ ​so​ ​I​ ​wasn’t​ ​in​ ​another​ ​Stanford​ ​experience getting​ ​scooped.​ ​I​ ​joined​ ​one​ ​that​ ​was​ ​pretty​ ​famous​ ​with​ ​a​ principal investigator​ ​famous​ ​enough​ ​that​ ​he​ ​traveled​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​and​ ​was​ ​an​ ​editor​ ​on​ ​a number​ ​of​ ​journals.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​rarely​ ​there.​ ​He​ ​wasn’t​ ​much​ ​of​ ​a​ ​mentor because​ ​he​ ​wasn’t​ ​around.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​the​ ​only​ ​graduate​ ​student.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​convinced that​ ​he​ ​was​ ​so​ ​famous​ ​that​ ​if​ ​I​ ​produced​ any​ ​results​ ​I​ ​would​ ​get​ ​tons​ ​of credit​ ​and​ ​it​ ​would​ ​advance​ ​my​ ​career.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​How​ ​did​ ​that​ ​work​ ​out?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​Well​ ​it​ ​was​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point​ ​that​ ​my​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​and confidence​ ​impacted​ ​me.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​laboratory​ ​things​ ​weren’t​ ​going​ ​my​ ​way. Jordan​ ​and​ ​I​ ​started​ ​a​ ​podcast​ ​in​ ​my​ ​basement​ ​in​ ​Ann​ ​Arbor.​ ​We​ ​started getting​ ​listeners​ ​and​ ​doing​ ​cool​ ​interviews​ ​with​ ​famous​ ​people​ ​and​ ​potential mentors.​ ​Jordan​ ​took​ ​a​ ​job​ ​on​ ​Wall​ ​Street​ ​as​ ​a​ ​lawyer​ ​and​ ​was​ ​moving​ ​to New​ ​York.​ ​I​ ​started​ ​daydreaming​ ​about​ ​what​ ​this​ ​podcast​ ​could​ ​be​ ​versus my​ ​job​ ​in​ ​the​ ​laboratory.​ ​I​ ​never​ ​really​ ​got​ ​along​ ​with​ ​my​ ​boss​ ​in​ ​the laboratory.​ ​I​ ​put​ ​him​ ​on​ ​a​ ​pedestal​ ​and​ ​I​ ​was​ ​shy​ ​around​ ​him​ ​and​ ​my​ ​labmates.​ ​It​ ​hurt​ ​my​ ​work,​ ​my​ ​moral.​ ​I​ ​developed​ ​imposter​ ​syndrome​ ​that nothing​ ​was​ ​going​ ​my​ ​way​ ​and​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​belong​ ​here.​ ​My​ ​old​ ​boss​ ​greased​ ​the wheels​ ​to​ ​get​ ​me​ ​into​ ​graduate​ ​school.​ ​It​ ​started​ ​haunting​ ​me​ ​and​ ​I​ ​doubted myself​ ​and​ ​my​ ​abilities.

I​ ​was​ ​presenting​ ​to​ ​my​ ​thesis​ ​committee​ ​on​ ​what​ ​I​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​work​ ​on.​ ​My boss​ ​had​ ​been​ ​traveling​ ​a​ ​lot.​ ​I​ ​sent​ ​him​ ​my​ ​proposal​ ​slides.​ ​This​ ​is​ ​back​ ​in the​ ​Blackberry​ ​days.​ ​My​ ​boss​ ​was​ ​always​ ​on​ ​his.​ ​I​ ​stupidly​ ​assumed​ ​when​ ​I sent​ ​him​ ​an​ ​email​ ​that​ ​he​ ​saw​ ​the​ ​slides​ ​and​ ​was​ ​happy​ ​because​ ​he​ ​didn’t reply.​ ​In​ ​all​ ​actuality​ ​he​ ​hadn’t​ ​had​ ​a​ ​chance​ ​to​ ​look​ ​at​ ​the​ ​email.​ ​In​ ​the meeting​ ​he​ ​basically​ ​pantsed​ ​me.​ ​He​ ​pointed​ ​out​ ​everything​ ​wrong​ ​with​ ​the idea​ ​and​ ​research​ ​data​ ​points​ ​in​ ​my​ ​presentation​ ​that​ ​didn’t​ ​fit​ ​in​ ​my hypothesis.​ ​They​ ​paused​ ​the​ ​meeting​ ​and​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​come​ ​back​ ​in​ ​90​ ​days and​ ​try​ ​it​ ​again.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​dejected.​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​that​ ​I​ ​wasn’t​ ​getting​ ​anywhere. Graduate​ ​school​ ​was​ ​a​ ​dead​ ​end​ ​track.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​a​ ​boss​ ​that​ ​wasn’t​ ​my​ ​ally​ ​and had​ ​my​ ​back.​ ​I​ ​called​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​and​ ​said​ ​I’m​ ​moving​ ​to​ ​New​ ​York​ ​City​ ​and pursue​ ​this​ ​podcast​ ​with​ ​Jordan.​ ​As​ ​you​ ​can​ ​imagine​ ​he​ ​was​ ​thrilled.​ ​I dropped​ ​out​ ​of​ ​graduate​ ​school,​ ​moved​ ​all​ ​my​ ​possessions​ ​into​ ​a​ ​truck,​ ​and moved​ ​to​ ​New​ ​York.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​never​ ​lived​ ​outside​ ​of​ ​Michigan.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​my​ ​first time​ ​traveling​ ​that​ ​far.​ ​New​ ​York​ ​was​ ​fantastic​ ​in​ ​the​ ​beginning.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​in​ ​my twenties.​ ​We​ ​had​ ​this​ ​great​ ​business​ ​started​ ​with​ ​the​ ​podcast,​ ​turning​ ​into coaching​ ​working​ ​with​ ​clients​ ​and​ ​a​ ​Sirius​ ​XM​ ​radio​ ​show.​ ​I​ ​felt​ ​my​ ​dad would​ ​be​ ​impressed​ ​with​ ​all​ ​we​ ​accomplished​ ​in​ ​a​ ​short​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​time.​ ​He was​ ​not.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​very​ ​frustrated​ ​that​ ​I​ ​left​ ​college​ ​and​ ​graduate​ ​school​ ​and chose​ ​a​ ​career​ ​that​ ​in​ ​his​ ​mind​ ​wasn’t​ ​a​ ​career.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​ago​ ​when no​ ​one​ ​had​ ​heard​ ​of​ ​podcasts.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​Yeah​ ​I​ ​still​ ​find​ ​myself​ ​explaining​ ​what​ ​a​ ​podcast​ ​is.​ ​I​ ​can’t imagine​ ​it​ ​ten​ ​years​ ​ago.

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​We​ ​heard​ ​a​ ​study​ ​that​ ​30%​ of​ ​Americans​ ​have​ ​heard​ ​of podcasts.​ ​It’s​ ​growing​ ​but​ ​there​ ​are​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​people​ ​who​ ​haven’t​ ​heard​ ​of​ ​it.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​It​ ​is​ ​building​ ​steam.​ ​Why​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point,​ ​what​ drove this for your​ ​dad?​ ​He​ ​had​ ​certain​ ​expectations​ ​and​ ​perceptions,​ ​but​ you​ ​were​ ​being increasingly​ ​disagreeable​ ​to​ ​those?​ ​What​ ​was​ ​going​ ​on?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ My​ ​dad​ ​was​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Navy​ ​and​ ​missed​ ​an​ ​opportunity​ ​to​ ​go​ ​to college​ ​and​ ​felt​ ​that​ ​his​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​education​ ​hurt​ ​him​ ​in​ ​his​ ​professional​ ​life.​ ​It led​ ​to​ ​him​ ​doing​ ​mostly​ ​manual​ ​labor.​ ​Obviously​ ​all​ ​parents​ ​want​ ​their children​ ​to​ ​do​ ​better.​ ​The​ ​fact​ ​I​ ​had​ ​scientific​ ​aptitude​ ​and​ ​did​ ​well​ ​in​ ​school he​ ​thought​ ​I​ ​should​ ​continue​ ​until​ ​the​ ​end.​ ​Like​ ​all​ ​good​ ​business​ ​ideas things​ ​start​ ​great​ ​and​ ​we​ ​ran​ ​into​ ​some​ ​difficulties.​ ​None​ ​of​ ​us,​ ​the​ ​three business​ ​partners,​ ​me,​ ​Jordan,​ ​and​ ​Johnny,​ ​had​ ​any​ ​business​ ​experience. We​ ​were​ ​learning​ ​on​ ​the​ ​fly​ ​and​ ​making​ ​mistakes.​ ​We​ ​ran​ ​out​ ​of​ ​money​ ​and weren’t​ ​certain​ ​after​ ​a​ ​year​ ​and​ ​a​ ​half​ ​whether​ ​it​ ​could​ ​survive.​ ​I​ ​called​ ​my dad​ ​in​ ​a​ ​moment​ ​of​ ​panic​ ​to​ ​get​ ​clarity​ ​and​ ​his​ ​advice​ ​was​ ​to​ ​move​ ​back​ ​to Michigan​ ​and​ ​go​ ​back​ ​to​ ​graduate​ ​school.

We​ ​decided​ ​we​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​give​ ​it​ ​one​ ​last​ ​go.​ ​We​ ​relocated​ ​to​ ​L.A.​ ​about eight​ ​years​ ​ago.​ ​When​ ​we​ ​moved​ ​here​ ​things​ ​started​ ​to​ ​pick​ ​up.​ ​We​ ​have been​ ​in​ ​business​ ​for​ ​ten​ ​years.​ ​We​ ​have​ ​been​ ​through​ ​the​ ​downturns​ ​and upswings.​ ​Unfortunately​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​and​ ​I​ ​became​ ​estranged​ ​and​ ​didn’t​ ​talk much.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​disappointed​ ​in​ ​my​ ​career​ ​choice.​ ​He​ ​didn’t’​ ​tell​ ​friends​ ​and family​ ​what​ ​I​ ​was​ ​doing.​ ​Which​ ​led​ ​to​ ​difficulty.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​proud​ ​of​ ​what​ ​I​ ​was doing​ ​but​ ​he​ ​didn’t​ ​understand​ ​it.

Jordan​ ​and​ ​I​ ​being​ ​Michigan​ ​alumni​ ​were​ ​invited​ ​to​ ​give​ ​a​ ​talk​ ​after graduating​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​their​ ​lecture​ ​series​ ​“What​ ​I​ ​Wish​ ​I​ ​Learned​ ​in Undergrad.”​ ​for​ ​whatever​ ​reason​ ​they​ ​assumed​ ​we​ ​were​ ​successful​ ​alumni. Of​ ​course​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point​ ​we​ ​were​ ​still​ ​struggling.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​excited​ ​and​ ​called​ ​my dad​ ​and​ ​said​ ​we​ ​were​ ​flying​ ​in​ ​and​ ​giving​ ​a​ ​talk​ ​and​ ​the​ ​only​ ​question​ ​he had​ ​was​ ​how​ ​good​ ​are​ ​the​ ​football​ ​tickets.​ ​He​ ​wasn’t​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​what​ ​I had​ ​to​ ​do​ ​with​ ​the​ ​Art​ ​of​ ​Charm​ ​or​ ​what​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​but​ ​he​ ​loved Michigan​ ​football.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​fortunate​ ​and​ ​had​ ​an​ ​amazing​ ​weekend​ ​with​ ​him and​ ​Jordan’s​ ​dad​ ​at​ ​a​ ​Michigan​ ​football​ ​game​ ​and​ ​a​ ​private​ ​stadium​ ​tour. Then​ ​we​ ​had​ ​to​ ​give​ ​this​ ​talk.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​nervous.​ ​It​ ​was​ ​the​ ​first​ ​time​ ​I​ ​would present​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​my​ ​dad.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​done​ ​small​ ​presentations​ ​before​ ​but​ ​it​ ​was a​ ​first​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​a​ ​roomful​ ​of​ ​students,​ ​faculty,​ ​and​ ​parents.​ ​It​ ​went​ ​okay.​ ​It wasn’t​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​best​ ​talks​ ​but​ ​it​ ​ended​ ​well​ ​and​ ​my​ ​dad,​ ​I​ ​could​ ​tell​ ​he​ ​was moved​ ​by​ ​what​ ​we​ ​were​ ​teaching.​ ​The​ ​focus​ ​was​ ​networking​ ​skills​ ​and​ ​how to​ ​nail​ ​a​ ​job​ ​interview​ ​because​ ​those​ ​graduating​ ​are​ ​looking​ ​for​ ​a​ ​job​ ​and need​ ​help​ ​on​ ​interviews.​ ​At​ ​this​ ​point​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​had​ ​an​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​what​ ​the​ ​Art​ ​of Charm​ ​was​ ​about.​ ​I​ ​was​ ​excited​ ​I​ ​rekindled​ ​my​ ​relationship​ ​with​ ​my​ ​dad.

Unfortunately​ ​he​ ​passed​ ​away​ ​suddenly​ ​from​ ​a​ ​heart​ ​attack.​ ​I​ ​had​ ​to​ ​fly back​ ​home​ ​and​ ​help​ ​my​ ​family.​ ​There​ ​were​ ​no​ ​funeral​ ​arrangements​ ​or​ ​will and​ ​it​ ​was​ ​on​ ​my​ ​shoulders.​ ​I​ ​remember​ ​getting​ ​the​ ​news​ ​and​ ​getting​ ​his address​ ​book​ ​and​ ​feeling​ ​this​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​dread​ ​about​ ​calling​ ​everyone.​ ​What do​ ​they​ ​know​ ​about​ ​me?​ ​What​ ​do​ ​they​ ​think​ ​I’m​ ​doing?​ ​What​ ​did​ ​my​ ​dad say?​ ​To​ ​my​ ​shock,​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​after​ ​the​ ​talk​ ​had​ ​called​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​friends​ ​and family​ ​to​ ​brag​ ​about​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​didn’t​ ​know​ ​how​ ​proud​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​was​ ​but​ ​he​ ​told friends​ ​and​ ​family​ ​and​ ​I​ ​was​ ​fortunate​ ​to​ ​hear​ ​that​ ​with​ ​his​ ​passing.​ ​It​ ​was one​ ​of​ ​those​ ​moments​ ​where​ ​you​ ​realize​ ​how​ ​short​ ​life​ ​is​ ​and​ ​sometimes​ ​if you​ ​struggle​ ​to​ ​communicate​ ​and​ ​so​ ​does​ ​your​ ​parent​ ​you​ ​can​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​a​ ​lot of​ ​misinformation​ ​and​ ​feeling​ ​like​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person​ ​is​ ​against​ ​you,​ ​even though​ ​they​ ​aren’t​ ​and​ ​just​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​the​ ​faculties​ ​to​ ​support​ ​you​ ​in​ ​a​ ​more loving​ ​way.​ ​The​ ​company​ ​has​ ​been​ ​through​ ​some​ ​things,​ ​and​ ​me​ ​personally. It’s​ ​fun​ ​now,​ ​the​ ​career​ ​choice​ ​I​ ​made​ ​worked​ ​out​ ​but​ ​in​ ​those​ ​initial​ ​years there​ ​was​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​heartache,​ ​wondering,​ ​concern​ ​of​ ​whether​ ​it​ ​would​ ​work out.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​I’m​ ​super​ ​curious.​ ​All​ ​of​ ​that,​ ​especially​ ​the​ ​situation​ ​with your​ ​dad​ ​and​ ​him​ ​passing​ ​has​ ​had​ ​an​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​you.​ ​I’m​ ​curious​ ​how​ ​much that​ ​drives​ ​you​ ​now?​ ​How​ ​does​ ​it​ ​impact​ ​you?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​core​ ​concepts​ ​we​ ​teach​ ​is​ ​how​ ​to​ ​be​ ​vulnerable. Vulnerability​ ​leads​ ​to​ ​connection.​ ​When​ ​you​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​this​ ​it’s​ ​an​ ​ambiguous word.​ ​We​ ​break​ ​it​ ​down​ ​as​ ​part​ ​of​ ​your​ ​narrative.​ ​We​ ​all​ ​have​ ​a​ ​story​ ​we​ ​tell ourselves​ ​and​ ​share​ ​with​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​It’s​ ​made​ ​up​ ​of​ ​three​ ​components:​ ​Your past​ ​-​ ​experiences,​ ​your​ ​present​ ​-​ ​your​ ​values,​ ​beliefs,​ ​morals​ ​that​ ​guide you​ ​daily,​ ​your​ ​future​ ​-​ ​goals,​ ​aspirations​ ​and​ ​fears.​ ​Fears​ ​can​ ​motivate​ ​your goals.​ ​For​ ​me​ ​the​ ​past​ ​I​ ​went​ ​through​ ​with​ ​losing​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​and​ ​not​ ​having​ ​the greatest​ ​relationship​ ​largely​ ​due​ ​to​ ​lacking​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​and​ ​knowing​ ​how​ ​to have​ ​conversations​ ​and​ ​showing​ ​love​ ​when​ ​it​ ​doesn’t​ ​go​ ​your​ ​way.​ ​My
present,​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​valued​ ​and​ ​instilled​ ​in​ ​me,​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​education.​ ​He​ ​felt​ ​if you​ ​could​ ​achieve​ ​some​ ​semblance​ ​of​ ​knowledge​ ​you​ ​have​ ​enough​ ​power​ ​to succeed​ ​in​ ​life.​ ​I​ ​firmly​ ​believe​ ​that​ ​even​ ​though​ ​I​ ​left​ ​graduate​ ​school.​ ​In my​ ​future,​ ​I’d​ ​love​ ​the​ ​Art​ ​of​ ​Charm​ ​to​ ​be​ ​taught​ ​as​ ​a​ ​curriculum​ ​in​ ​schools. These​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​are​ ​lacking​ ​in​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​our​ ​youth.​ ​It​ ​leads​ ​to​ ​frustrations​ ​in people’s​ ​careers,​ ​love​ ​lives​ ​and​ ​relationships.​ ​And​ ​also​ ​the​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​failure​ ​of proving​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​right​ ​that​ ​the​ ​Art​ ​of​ ​Charm​ ​wasn’t​ ​my​ ​future​ ​and​ ​I​ ​shouldn’t go​ ​in​ ​this​ ​direction.​ ​That​ ​fear​ ​of​ ​failure​ ​still​ ​motivates​ ​me​ ​to​ ​make​ ​sure​ ​we are​ ​dotting​ ​all​ ​our​ ​I’s​ ​and​ ​crossing​ ​our​ ​t‘s.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​I’m​ ​pausing​ ​for​ ​a​ ​moment​ ​because​ ​I’m​ ​so​ ​impressed​ ​with you​ ​describing​ ​your​ ​background​ ​and​ ​where​ ​you​ ​have​ ​come​ ​from.​ ​Behind​ ​the scenes​ ​is​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​has​ ​put​ ​together​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​trainings​ ​and​ ​talks.​ ​What you​ ​just​ ​did​ ​there​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​take​ ​that​ ​story​ ​and​ ​turn​ ​it​ ​into the​ ​framework​ ​you​ ​have​ ​used​ ​and​ ​taught​ ​and​ ​intersperse​ ​that​ ​amongst​ ​the framework.​ ​That​ ​takes​ ​practice.​ ​Kudos​ ​to​ ​you.​ ​I​ ​love​ ​how​ ​you​ ​are​ ​an example​ ​of​ ​the​ ​product​ ​for​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​better​ ​phrase.

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​We​ ​eat​ ​our​ ​own​ ​dog​ ​food.​ ​We​ ​live​ ​and​ ​breathe​ ​these concepts.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​reasons​ ​we​ ​are​ ​so​ ​drawn​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​it. Gaining​ ​these​ ​skills​ ​for​ ​me,​ ​and​ ​your​ ​listeners​ ​may​ ​be​ ​shocked,​ ​but​ ​I’m introverted.​ ​Even​ ​though​ ​I​ ​have​ ​these​ ​tools​ ​and​ ​skills​ ​of​ ​extroverts.​ ​It’s energetically​ ​draining​ ​for​ ​me​ ​to​ ​go​ ​into​ ​a​ ​loud​ ​crazy​ ​social​ ​environment​ ​and talk​ ​to​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​people.​ ​At​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of​ ​those​ ​events​ ​I​ ​need​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​solitude​ ​to recharge.​ ​Extroverts​ ​gain​ ​energy​ ​from​ ​being​ ​social.​ ​They​ ​gain​ ​energy​ ​in those​ ​environments.​ ​My​ ​career​ ​stalled​ ​out​ ​in​ ​graduate​ ​school​ ​because​ ​I didn’t​ ​have​ ​effective​ ​social​ ​skills.​ ​I​ ​held​ ​back​ ​not​ ​sharing​ ​ideas.​ ​Over​ ​time that​ ​led​ ​to​ ​my​ ​boss​ ​and​ ​laboratory​ ​mates​ ​thinking​ ​I​ ​was​ ​arrogant​ ​and disinterested.​ ​When​ ​you​ ​have​ ​that​ ​situation​ ​where​ ​you​ ​are​ ​feeling​ ​and​ ​acting
one​ ​way​ ​but​ ​the​ ​people​ ​you​ ​interact​ ​with​ ​are​ ​getting​ ​a​ ​different​ ​sense​ ​of who​ ​you​ ​are​ ​it​ ​can​ ​lead​ ​to​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​frustration​ ​and​ ​heartache.​ ​In​ ​building​ ​this company​ ​the​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​were​ ​around​ ​how​ ​do​ ​I​ ​make​ ​more​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​date women.​ ​Now​ ​it’s​ ​grown​ ​to​ ​building​ ​confidence​ ​and​ ​knowing​ ​you​ ​have​ ​skills you​ ​can​ ​walk​ ​into​ ​any​ ​situation​ ​and​ ​confidently​ ​express​ ​yourself​ ​and​ ​make sure​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person​ ​knows​ ​who​ ​you​ ​are​ ​fully.​ ​There​ ​is​ ​no​ ​grey​ ​area​ ​where they​ ​can​ ​assume​ ​negatives.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​Let’s​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​the​ ​concept​ ​of​ ​holding​ ​back​ ​and vulnerability,​ ​which​ ​is​ ​the​ ​opposite​ ​of​ ​holding​ ​back​ ​in​ ​some​ ​ways.​ ​You​ ​talked about​ ​this​ ​past,​ ​present,​ ​and​ ​future​ ​concept.​ ​I’d​ ​love​ ​to​ ​delve​ ​into​ ​that​ ​and how​ ​people​ ​can​ ​get​ ​started​ ​in​ ​being​ ​more​ ​vulnerable​ ​day​ ​to​ ​day.

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​I​ ​think​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​thing​ ​is​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​us​ ​have​ ​this​ ​confusion​ ​or misconception​ ​around​ ​connection.​ ​We​ ​feel​ ​or​ ​assume​ ​that​ ​connection happens​ ​through​ ​commonalities,​ ​shared​ ​interests.​ ​In​ ​reality​ ​it​ ​happens through​ ​sharing​ ​emotions​ ​because​ ​they​ ​are​ ​universal.​ ​They​ ​are​ ​tied​ ​to experiences.​ ​Even​ ​if​ ​you​ ​and​ ​I​ ​have​ ​had​ ​vastly​ ​different​ ​experiences,​ ​maybe you​ ​haven’t​ ​been​ ​to​ ​graduate​ ​school​ ​or​ ​shared​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​a​ ​bunch​ ​of​ ​people you​ ​can​ ​still​ ​tell​ ​that,​ ​oh​ ​A.J.​ ​was​ ​nervous​ ​going​ ​into​ ​this​ ​talk.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​think
of​ ​times​ ​when​ ​you​ ​felt​ ​nervous​ ​and​ ​that​ ​is​ ​where​ ​the​ ​connection​ ​is.​ ​On​ ​the emotion,​ ​not​ ​the​ ​experience​ ​like​ ​we​ ​both​ ​went​ ​to​ ​Michigan.​ ​Becoming vulnerable​ ​starts​ ​with​ ​owning​ ​your​ ​past.​ ​We’ve​ ​had​ ​these​ ​life​ ​lessons​ ​but they​ ​are​ ​tied​ ​to​ ​hardships​ ​where​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​look​ ​our​ ​best​ ​or​ ​achieve​ ​what​ ​we set​ ​out​ ​to.​ ​We​ ​hold​ ​on​ ​to​ ​the​ ​lessons​ ​but​ ​don’t​ ​share​ ​them.​ ​We​ ​try​ ​to present​ ​ourselves​ ​as​ ​competent​ ​and​ ​impactful.​ ​In​ ​reality​ ​it’s​ ​in​ ​the​ ​lessons that​ ​people​ ​can​ ​sense​ ​who​ ​we​ ​are​ ​as​ ​a​ ​person​ ​and​ ​get​ ​to​ ​know​ ​us​ ​better.

When​ ​we​ ​work​ ​with​ ​clients​ ​the​ ​first​ ​thing​ ​we​ ​do​ ​to​ ​build​ ​your​ ​narrative​ ​is identify​ ​two​ ​to​ ​three​ ​lessons​ ​in​ ​your​ ​past​ ​that​ ​have​ ​come​ ​through experience.​ ​Ideally​ ​one​ ​or​ ​two​ ​of​ ​these​ ​should​ ​be​ ​ones​ ​that​ ​didn’t​ ​go​ ​your way.​ ​Then​ ​we​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​sharing​ ​them​ ​with​ ​your​ ​friends​ ​and​ ​strangers.​ ​If you​ ​have​ ​a​ ​clear​ ​narrative​ ​the​ ​person​ ​you​ ​are​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​will​ ​find​ ​you charismatic,​ ​memorable,​ ​and​ ​feel​ ​more​ ​connected​ ​to​ ​you​ ​versus​ ​if​ ​you​ ​were to​ ​spout​ ​off​ ​your​ ​resume​ ​or​ ​accomplishments.​ ​In​ ​your​ ​present​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to identify​ ​your​ ​values.​ ​That​ ​takes​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​your​ ​friends​ ​-​ ​what​ ​do​ ​you​ ​think about​ ​what​ ​I​ ​value.​ ​A​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​my​ ​friends​ ​would​ ​say​ ​honesty​ ​and​ ​loyalty​ ​and education.​ ​I​ ​always​ ​find​ ​myself​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​learn​ ​new​ ​skills.​ ​Once​ ​you​ ​have those​ ​together​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​to​ ​tackle​ ​the​ ​future​ ​but​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​good starting​ ​point​ ​to​ ​guide​ ​our​ ​conversation.​ ​When​ ​someone​ ​says​ ​be​ ​vulnerable you​ ​can​ ​share​ ​these​ ​two​ ​stories​ ​or​ ​lessons.​ ​For​ ​me​ ​I’ve​ ​had​ ​this​ ​chance​ ​to share​ ​my​ ​story​ ​with​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​people.​ ​Your​ ​narrative​ ​strengthens.​ ​People know​ ​you​ ​for​ ​these​ ​reasons​ ​and​ ​feel​ ​connected​ ​to​ ​you.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​My​ ​question​ ​and​ ​what​ ​my​ ​listeners​ ​may​ ​have​ ​is​ ​that​ ​sounds fantastic​ ​in​ ​theory.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​experienced​ ​and​ ​benefited​ ​from​ ​this​ ​however, within​ ​those​ ​one​ ​to​ ​three​ ​lessons,​ ​what​ ​are​ ​the​ ​context​ ​with​ ​which​ ​I​ ​might share.​ ​Do​ ​I​ ​just​ ​go​ ​up​ ​to​ ​people​ ​and​ ​say​ ​I​ ​had​ ​this​ ​happen​ ​in​ ​my​ ​past? Where​ ​and​ ​what​ ​context​ ​does​ ​that​ ​get​ ​used​ ​to​ ​bring​ ​clarity​ ​in​ ​how​ ​people might​ ​get​ ​started?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​We​ ​like​ ​to​ ​think​ ​there​ ​are​ ​three​ ​phrases​ ​to​ ​the​ ​interaction. There​ ​are​ ​different​ ​tools.​ ​The​ ​first​ ​is​ ​getting​ ​people​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​you.​ ​I’m​ ​not walking​ ​up​ ​to​ ​people​ ​and​ ​telling​ ​them​ ​my​ ​life​ ​story.​ ​That​ ​first​ ​phase​ ​is​ ​all about​ ​your​ ​nonverbal​ ​communication​ ​and​ ​setting​ ​the​ ​first​ ​impression.​ ​That​ ​is made​ ​before​ ​we​ ​open​ ​our​ ​mouth.​ ​Then​ ​it’s​ ​showcasing​ ​three​ ​parts​ ​of​ ​your personality​ ​everyone​ ​resonates​ ​with,​ ​fun​ ​loving,​ ​a​ ​back​ ​bone​ ​-​ ​being challenging,​ ​making​ ​sure​ ​people​ ​don’t​ ​see​ ​you​ ​as​ ​just​ ​agreeable.​ ​Sometimes when​ ​we​ ​start​ ​a​ ​conversation​ ​when​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​them​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​win their​ ​approval​ ​so​ ​we​ ​just​ ​shake​ ​our​ ​head​ ​yes​ ​and​ ​agree​ ​with​ ​everything.​ ​It pushes​ ​them​ ​away.​ ​At​ ​the​ ​start​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​get​ ​them​ ​talking.​ ​Take​ ​interest in​ ​them​ ​and​ ​ask​ ​them​ ​questions.​ ​Listen​ ​to​ ​the​ ​logical​ ​answer​ ​and​ ​the
emotions​ ​coming​ ​through.

We​ ​move​ ​to​ ​the​ ​second​ ​phase.​ ​We​ ​have​ ​them​ ​interested​ ​and​ ​ask​ ​questions. We’ve​ ​related.​ ​Now​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​show​ ​them​ ​genuine​ ​interest​ ​and​ ​reward​ ​their interest​ ​in​ ​us.​ ​We​ ​give​ ​a​ ​compliment​ ​around​ ​their​ ​personality.​ ​It’s​ ​much more​ ​genuine​ ​than​ ​saying​ ​you​ ​are​ ​good​ ​looking​ ​or​ ​tall.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​a​ ​good listener​ ​pieces​ ​of​ ​their​ ​personality​ ​will​ ​come​ ​through.

The​ ​third​ ​phase​ ​is​ ​where​ ​we​ ​share​ ​our​ ​narrative.​ ​We​ ​are​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​build​ ​a connection.​ ​As​ ​we​ ​are​ ​listening​ ​to​ ​emotions​ ​they​ ​are​ ​sharing​ ​we​ ​pick​ ​one that​ ​is​ ​resonating​ ​in​ ​our​ ​life​ ​lesson​ ​and​ ​then​ ​you​ ​share​ ​your​ ​narrative.​ ​Don’t lead​ ​with​ ​my​ ​dad​ ​died​ ​and​ ​I​ ​dropped​ ​out​ ​of​ ​graduate​ ​school.​ ​I​ ​lead​ ​with questions​ ​to​ ​get​ ​to​ ​know​ ​them​ ​and​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​their​ ​answer​ ​and​ ​respond​ ​with the​ ​relatable​ ​by​ ​disclosing​ ​about​ ​myself.​ ​When​ ​we​ ​get​ ​nervous​ ​we​ ​get​ ​in​ ​the question​ ​trap.​ ​We​ ​ask​ ​a​ ​question​ ​but​ ​don’t​ ​pay​ ​attention​ ​to​ ​the​ ​answer​ ​and it's​ ​back​ ​to​ ​us​ ​so​ ​we​ ​just​ ​ask​ ​a​ ​follow-up​ ​question​ ​and​ ​so​ ​on.​ ​They​ ​feel​ ​they have​ ​shared​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​but​ ​you​ ​haven’t.​ ​The​ ​formula​ ​we​ ​discuss​ ​in​ ​class​ ​for starting​ ​conversations​ ​with​ ​anyone​ ​is​ ​we​ ​ask​ ​a​ ​question,​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​the​ ​answer and​ ​respond​ ​with​ ​a​ ​statement.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​do​ ​that,​ ​we’ve​ ​found​ ​two​ ​questions leads​ ​to​ ​them​ ​taking​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​you​ ​and​ ​asking​ ​a​ ​question.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​how conversations​ ​start.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​And​ ​how​ ​they​ ​flourish​ ​I​ ​would​ ​say.

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​We​ ​say​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​be​ ​interesting​ ​you​ ​have​ ​to​ ​be​ ​interested. People​ ​will​ ​not​ ​be​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​you​ ​until​ ​you​ ​take​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​them.​ ​We​ ​are all​ ​primed​ ​to​ ​answer​ ​stranger’s​ ​questions.​ ​Even​ ​if​ ​I​ ​were​ ​sitting​ ​at​ ​a​ ​stop sign​ ​listening​ ​to​ ​music​ ​and​ ​a​ ​car​ ​pulls​ ​up​ ​by​ ​me​ ​and​ ​rolls​ ​down​ ​the​ ​window I’m​ ​going​ ​to​ ​instinctively​ ​roll​ ​down​ ​my​ ​window​ ​because​ ​they​ ​are​ ​going​ ​to​ ​ask me​ ​a​ ​question.​ ​Asking​ ​questions​ ​is​ ​a​ ​great​ ​way​ ​to​ ​start​ ​conversations.​ ​In those​ ​moments​ ​where​ ​you​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​what​ ​to​ ​say​ ​or​ ​you’ve​ ​run​ ​out​ ​of everything​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​you​ ​ask​ ​a​ ​different​ ​question​ ​and​ ​get​ ​them​ ​opening up.​ ​The​ ​beauty​ ​of​ ​questions​ ​is​ ​the​ ​answer​ ​will​ ​be​ ​about​ ​themselves​ ​which​ ​is
everyone’s​ ​favorite​ ​conversation​ ​topic.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​Let​ ​me​ ​ask​ ​you​ ​about​ ​that​ ​and​ ​practice​ ​what​ ​you​ ​are preaching.​ ​I​ ​hear​ ​all​ ​the​ ​time​ ​and​ ​suspect​ ​listeners​ ​do​ ​to,​ ​that​ ​you​ ​need​ ​to be​ ​genuinely​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​somebody.​ ​It​ ​sounds​ ​great​ ​but​ ​how​ ​do​ ​you actually​ ​do​ ​that.​ ​What​ ​are​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​get​ ​out​ ​of​ ​my​ ​head​ ​and​ ​be​ ​genuinely interested?​ ​What​ ​is​ ​the​ ​nitty​ ​gritty?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​The​ ​best​ ​way​ ​we​ ​talk​ ​about​ ​is​ ​asking​ ​how​ ​and​ ​why questions.​ ​Much​ ​like​ ​this​ ​conversation​ ​we​ ​are​ ​having,​ ​not​ ​knowing​ ​each
other​ ​beforehand,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​first​ ​things​ ​you​ ​ask​ ​is​ ​how​ ​did​ ​you​ ​decide​ ​on this​ ​career​ ​path​ ​and​ ​what​ ​happens.​ ​I​ ​can​ ​talk​ ​for​ ​30​ ​or​ ​40​ ​minutes.​ ​When you​ ​ask​ ​how​ ​and​ ​why​ ​questions​ ​it​ ​gives​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person​ ​opportunity​ ​to share​ ​their​ ​thoughts,​ ​feelings,​ ​and​ ​experiences.​ ​You​ ​have​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​to​ ​draw​ ​from in​ ​sparking​ ​that​ ​interest.​ ​It​ ​takes​ ​the​ ​initial​ ​curiosity​ ​and​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​good listener.​ ​Unfortunately,​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​us​ ​have​ ​dull​ ​listening​ ​skills.​ ​We​ ​think​ ​too much​ ​and​ ​don’t​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person.​ ​It’s​ ​important​ ​to​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​their answer​ ​with​ ​your​ ​eyes​ ​and​ ​ears.​ ​We​ ​make​ ​eye​ ​contact​ ​as​ ​we​ ​ask​ ​the question.​ ​While​ ​I’m​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​you​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​make​ ​eye​ ​contact​ ​while​ ​I​ ​ask the​ ​question,​ ​one​ ​so​ ​you​ ​know​ ​I’m​ ​talking​ ​to​ ​you,​ ​and​ ​two​ ​I​ ​can​ ​see​ ​your facial​ ​expressions​ ​and​ ​your​ ​response​ ​to​ ​the​ ​question​ ​will​ ​be​ ​seen​ ​through your​ ​expressions,​ ​then​ ​your​ ​words.​ ​Allowing​ ​eye​ ​contact​ ​and​ ​reading​ ​their emotional​ ​state​ ​and​ ​turning​ ​your​ ​ear​ ​to​ ​listening,​ ​looking​ ​at​ ​someone​ ​and breaking​ ​eye​ ​contact​ ​allows​ ​those​ ​with​ ​anxiety​ ​to​ ​break​ ​and​ ​actually​ ​hear what​ ​the​ ​other​ ​person​ ​says.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​That​ ​is​ ​interesting​ ​and​ ​useful.​ ​On​ ​the​ ​note​ ​of​ ​anxiety,​ ​I’m curious,​ ​what​ ​is​ ​the​ ​most​ ​difficult​ ​thing​ ​you​ ​have​ ​found​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​to​ ​someone experiencing​ ​tons​ ​of​ ​anxiety​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​being​ ​able​ ​to​ ​connect​ ​genuinely?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​The​ ​basis​ ​of​ ​the​ ​program​ ​is​ ​built​ ​around​ ​cognitive​ ​behavioral therapy​ ​techniques.​ ​You​ ​learn​ ​something​ ​and​ ​we​ ​go​ ​out​ ​into​ ​the​ ​world​ ​and apply​ ​it.​ ​We​ ​teach​ ​the​ ​concept​ ​of​ ​the​ ​conversation​ ​formula​ ​then​ ​we​ ​have them​ ​practice​ ​with​ ​each​ ​other.​ ​Grab​ ​a​ ​partner​ ​and​ ​practice​ ​training​ ​yourself not​ ​to​ ​fire​ ​back​ ​question​ ​after​ ​question.​ ​But​ ​focus​ ​on​ ​making​ ​a​ ​statement. You​ ​have​ ​to​ ​listen​ ​to​ ​do​ ​it.​ ​The​ ​formula​ ​is​ ​so​ ​effective​ ​for​ ​analytical​ ​people. If​ ​I​ ​have​ ​to​ ​follow​ ​the​ ​formula​ ​I​ ​better​ ​be​ ​listening.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​the​ ​first​ ​step.Then​ ​we​ ​bring​ ​in​ ​coaches​ ​to​ ​interact​ ​with​ ​them​ ​on​ ​camera​ ​and​ ​videotape​ ​the conversation​ ​with​ ​you​ ​using​ ​it.​ ​We​ ​play​ ​it​ ​back​ ​with​ ​no​ ​audio​ ​to​ ​see​ ​the nonverbal​ ​communication.​ ​We​ ​often​ ​overlook​ ​this.​ ​Then​ ​we​ ​play​ ​it​ ​back​ ​with sound​ ​and​ ​look​ ​at​ ​what​ ​were​ ​the​ ​moments​ ​in​ ​conversation​ ​where​ ​you​ ​asked a​ ​quick​ ​follow-up​ ​or​ ​didn’t​ ​use​ ​a​ ​statement.​ ​We​ ​pause​ ​and​ ​ask​ ​what​ ​you could​ ​have​ ​said.​ ​We​ ​prime​ ​them​ ​even​ ​though​ ​it’s​ ​not​ ​real​ ​time.​ ​All​ ​I​ ​need​ ​to do​ ​is​ ​slow​ ​down.​ ​When​ ​we​ ​have​ ​anxiety​ ​we​ ​move​ ​fast​ ​and​ ​everything​ ​is hyper​ ​speed.​ ​The​ ​video​ ​work​ ​slows​ ​things​ ​down​ ​and​ ​then​ ​we​ ​go​ ​out​ ​and apply​ ​them​ ​in​ ​the​ ​town​ ​with​ ​coaches​ ​watching​ ​you​ ​and​ ​giving​ ​feedback​ ​the next​ ​day.​ ​We​ ​learn​ ​concepts,​ ​practice,​ ​break​ ​them​ ​down,​ ​get​ ​feedback, slowing​ ​process​ ​down​ ​and​ ​go​ ​out​ ​in​ ​the​ ​real​ ​world​ ​and​ ​speed​ ​it​ ​up​ ​and​ ​get 360​ ​degree​ ​feedback.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​That​ ​is​ ​amazing.​ ​What​ ​you​ ​are​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​is​ ​behavior change.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​easiest​ ​thing​ ​to​ ​do.​ ​I​ ​love​ ​how​ ​you​ ​have​ ​developed this​ ​over​ ​the​ ​years.​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​ask​ ​you​ ​a​ ​completely​ ​different​ ​question​ ​out​ ​of curiosity.​ ​You​ ​have​ ​been​ ​teaching​ ​this​ ​for​ ​a​ ​while.​ ​You​ ​came​ ​from​ ​a​ ​place, and​ ​I​ ​think​ ​many​ ​people​ ​do,​ ​where​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​have​ ​social​ ​skills,​ ​it​ ​has​ ​to​ ​be learned​ ​along​ ​the​ ​line.​ ​What​ ​do​ ​you​ ​find​ ​the​ ​areas​ ​you​ ​are​ ​personally working​ ​on​ ​tor​ ​the​ ​areas​ ​that​ ​are​ ​the​ ​most​ ​difficult​ ​even​ ​though​ ​you​ ​know the​ ​stuff?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​The​ ​big​ ​thing​ ​we​ ​were​ ​fortunate​ ​with​ ​is​ ​we​ ​have​ ​incredible mentors.​ ​I​ ​think​ ​that​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​big​ ​reasons​ ​we​ ​went​ ​into​ ​coaching​ ​is​ ​the value​ ​of​ ​having​ ​someone​ ​who​ ​has​ ​been​ ​through​ ​the​ ​process​ ​guiding​ ​you. These​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​were​ ​assimilated​ ​working​ ​with​ ​mentors,​ ​taking​ ​Dale Carnegie​ ​courses,​ ​and​ ​self-development​ ​and​ ​business​ ​development​ ​courses and​ ​hard​ ​work.​ ​In​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​what​ ​I’m​ ​currently​ ​working​ ​on​ ​is​ ​adding​ ​structure and​ ​discipline​ ​to​ ​my​ ​daily​ ​life.​ ​I​ ​tend​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more​ ​spontaneous​ ​and​ ​not​ ​as structured.​ ​Which​ ​is​ ​unusual​ ​for​ ​a​ ​scientist.​ ​Time​ ​management​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​my focuses​ ​to​ ​maximize​ ​the​ ​scarce​ ​resource​ ​of​ ​time.​ ​Running​ ​a​ ​company​ ​there are​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​demands​ ​that​ ​need​ ​done.​ ​I’m​ ​working​ ​on​ ​that​ ​and​ ​health​ ​and physical​ ​fitness.​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​a​ ​gym​ ​rat​ ​but​ ​my​ ​dad’s​ ​mortality​ ​has​ ​shown​ ​me​ ​I need​ ​to​ ​emphasize​ ​my​ ​health​ ​and​ ​nutrition.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​another​ ​area​ ​over​ ​the last​ ​couple​ ​years.​ ​That​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​struggle​ ​but​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a​ ​supportive​ ​girlfriend and​ ​friends​ ​to​ ​get​ ​over​ ​the​ ​hump.​ ​For​ ​fun​ ​I’m​ ​learning​ ​how​ ​to​ ​play​ ​golf challenging​ ​my​ ​mental​ ​and​ ​physical​ ​skills​ ​there.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​Golf​ ​is​ ​one​ ​of​ ​those​ ​things​ ​you​ ​can​ ​spend​ ​so​ ​much​ ​time​ ​and plateau,​ ​or​ ​get​ ​to​ ​an​ ​area​ ​of​ ​where​ ​it​ ​is​ ​increasing​ ​in​ ​smaller​ ​steps.​ ​I​ ​used​ ​to live​ ​in​ ​Portland,​ ​Oregon​ ​where​ ​there​ ​are​ ​tons​ ​of​ ​golf​ ​courses​ ​and​ ​you​ ​can play​ ​all​ ​year​ ​round.​ ​There​ ​are​ ​areas​ ​in​ ​California​ ​like​ ​that​ ​too.​ ​That​ ​was​ ​a fun​ ​time​ ​for​ ​me.​ ​I​ ​got​ ​to​ ​go​ ​for​ ​a​ ​year​ ​and​ ​dive​ ​into​ ​golf​ ​and​ ​play​ ​three times​ ​a​ ​week.​ ​With​ ​all​ ​of​ ​those​ ​areas​ ​what​ ​are​ ​you​ ​doing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​time management​ ​area?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​The​ ​biggest​ ​thing​ ​is​ ​turning​ ​off​ ​notifications​ ​and​ ​creating blocks​ ​of​ ​time​ ​to​ ​be​ ​in​ ​my​ ​inbox​ ​or​ ​working​ ​exclusively​ ​on​ ​something.​ ​I’ve removed​ ​electronics​ ​from​ ​the​ ​bedroom​ ​so​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​focused​ ​on​ ​what​ ​is​ ​going on​ ​on​ ​social​ ​media​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​getting​ ​ready​ ​for​ ​bed​ ​or​ ​getting​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the morning.​ ​It’s​ ​blocking​ ​time​ ​saying​ ​for​ ​this​ ​hour​ ​I’m​ ​focusing​ ​on​ ​my​ ​inbox and​ ​not​ ​checking​ ​it​ ​all​ ​day​ ​because​ ​you​ ​lose​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​time​ ​doing​ ​things​ ​just​ ​to do​ ​things​ ​and​ ​not​ ​moving​ ​forward.​ ​Creating​ ​chunks​ ​of​ ​time​ ​to​ ​tackle​ ​certain things​ ​so​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​getting​ ​drawn​ ​on​ ​goose​ ​chases​ ​where​ ​I​ ​have​ ​time​ ​set​ ​to create​ ​content,​ ​getting​ ​the​ ​word​ ​out​ ​and​ ​sharing.​ ​Running​ ​the​ ​coaching programs​ ​I​ ​have​ ​set​ ​aside​ ​very​ ​week​ ​and​ ​business​ ​development​ ​to​ ​grow.​ ​I’m focused​ ​on​ ​those​ ​and​ ​chunked​ ​on​ ​that.​ ​I​ ​stay​ ​on​ ​that​ ​focused​ ​path.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​a weekly​ ​check​ ​in​ ​to​ ​say​ ​in​ ​terms​ ​of​ ​my​ ​to-do​ ​list​ ​how​ ​effective​ ​was​ ​I?​ ​What did​ ​I​ ​put​ ​off?​ ​This​ ​needs​ ​to​ ​be​ ​what​ ​I​ ​tackle​ ​first​ ​next​ ​week.​ ​That​ ​is​ ​a​ ​work​ ​in progress.​ ​I’m​ ​not​ ​a​ ​time​ ​management​ ​expert​ ​but​ ​I’m​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​grow​ ​and strengthen.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​I​ ​so​ ​appreciate​ ​you​ ​sharing​ ​and​ ​taking​ ​and​ ​making​ ​the​ ​time to​ ​come​ ​on​ ​the​ ​show​ ​in​ ​the​ ​first​ ​place.​ ​This​ ​has​ ​been​ ​a​ ​fun​ ​conversation​ ​for me.​ ​Thank​ ​you,​ ​I​ ​have​ ​nothing​ ​else​ ​to​ ​say​ ​but​ ​thank​ ​you.​ ​I​ ​really​ ​appreciate it.

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​It’s​ ​been​ ​great​ ​thanks​ ​for​ ​having​ ​me.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​Absolutely.​ ​For​ ​people​ ​that​ ​want​ ​more​ ​AJ​ ​or​ ​the​ ​Art​ ​of Charm.​ ​How​ ​can​ ​they​ ​find​ ​out​ ​more​ ​about​ ​you?

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​We​ ​have​ ​a​ ​podcast.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​a​ ​podcast​ ​listener​ ​that​ ​is​ ​the best​ ​place​ ​to​ ​start.​ ​The​ ​Art​ ​of​ ​Charm​ ​where​ ​we​ ​interview​ ​successful​ ​people, celebrities,​ ​and​ ​athletes​ ​and​ ​distill​ ​actionable​ ​steps​ ​so​ ​listeners​ ​can​ ​improve their​ ​lives​ ​based​ ​on​ ​these​ ​life​ ​lessons​ ​successful​ ​people​ ​have​ ​had.​ ​We​ ​offer toolbox​ ​episodes​ ​where​ ​we​ ​cover​ ​the​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​I​ ​was​ ​going​ ​over​ ​with​ ​you in​ ​detail.​ ​You​ ​can​ ​go​ ​to​ ​the​ ​​ ​to​ ​find​ ​more​ ​social​ ​skills content​ ​from​ ​us.​ ​Those​ ​are​ ​free​ ​episodes​ ​where​ ​we​ ​break​ ​down​ ​how​ ​to​ ​have conversations​ ​with​ ​people,​ ​how​ ​to​ ​build​ ​a​ ​social​ ​circle,​ ​how​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more confident.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​are​ ​interested​ ​in​ ​upping​ ​your​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​social skills​ ​challenge​ ​at​ ​the​ ​​ ​It's​ ​30​ ​days,​ ​testing​ ​your metal​ ​with​ ​social​ ​skills​ ​and​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​Facebook​ ​group​ ​to​ ​meet​ ​like-minded individuals​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​themselves.

Scott​ ​Barlow:​​ ​I​ ​love​ ​it.​ ​I​ encourage you to check it out. There are so many great​ ​resources.​ ​Take​ ​the​ challenge.​ ​Thank​ ​you​ ​again​ ​AJ.​ ​I​ ​so​ ​very​ ​much appreciate​ ​it.

AJ​ ​Harbinger:​​ ​Thank​ ​you​ ​so​ ​much.​ ​It’s​ ​a​ ​great​ ​time