Small talk can lead to big business and sales. Although starting up a conversation looks like it comes easy to some (myself included), the truth is many people are introverts and have to learn how to be comfortable talking to strangers (me again).
This is my advice if the gift of gab is not a gift.
1. Know a little about a lot of things. I know, how shallow. But if you can speak for just a few minutes about something that interests the other person, they can take over the conversation and all you have to do is listen–which you should without interruption.
2. Find your inner Sherlock Holmes. “Most people look, but they don’t see,” said Sherlock Holmes. Pay attention to details that can provide clues about what to talk about with a person you don’t know well by using your powers of observation. Notice the type of phone they use, what they’re wearing, or the kind of car they drove up in as ideas for conversation starters.
3. Be the center of attention. If you have a hard time talking to strangers, put yourself in a position where others want to talk to you–and approach you first. If you have to stand and say a few words about yourself, have a clever “elevator pitch” that is unique or provocative. Volunteer to help set up, greet, or speak at an event as a way to get people’s attention and catch their interest.
“Love the uniforms,” Amanda said to Mel. “Thanks for handling it all.”
“No worries. Since our team name is The Ducks, the yellow jerseys with orange shorts make sense,” Mel replied. “Otherwise, it would just be weird.”
“With our first game two weeks away, we should wear our uniforms out and about to promote the team and the league,” Amanda said, holding a jersey up to get a good look.
“I agree. Not many people expect or realize there’s a woman’s flag football league with six teams in it.”
“Made up of moms, I might add.”
“I had the company that made the uniforms create some imprinted rubber ducks we can give away as well. Help me open the box,” Mel said.
The two teammates ripped open the box and each pulled out a duck and just stared at it. Amanda spoke first, “What the duck is this? This duck has two beaks.”
“ I don’t know how that happened! This is a disaster.”
“Maybe not,” Amanda said staring at the odd looking little duck. “This could be promotional gold. Think about it, we can get people saying, ‘What the duck?’ when they see them, which is kind of what they’re probably thinking when it comes to a flag football league made up of moms—both are unexpected.”
“So what you’re saying is this is a blessing in disguise. We’re going to make lemonade from lemons—or try to pass of these freaky looking ducks off as normal.”
“Not normal, but unique. Special, even.”
“If you say so.”
The strange looking ducks were a hit. There were duck races in the bay as a fundraiser, “What the Duck” T-shirts were made and sold to raise money, and a “Support the Ducks” campaign landed Amanda and Mel on the local news—which then went viral. When the season started the women’s flag football games were the hottest ticket in town.
[Editor’s Note: This story is purely fictional, but the fact is sometimes “mistakes” make for the best outcomes.]
I have always loved the idea of trying to be a little bit better every day. How about a little faster every day, too? Since there are a host of things we have to do, it would make sense to try to do them faster so we have more time left for the things we want to do. If you time yourself doing a task one day, and then try to beat that time the next day, you will likely do them better and faster.
I’ve been mowing the infield of the baseball field where I coach for two years. The first time I mowed it took me 75 minutes. Each time I’ve done it since I have found ways to do it faster (and better) so that now I can get it done in under 20 minutes–and get my cardio in as well. If I didn’t care about my time it would probably have leveled off at an hour, but now I have an extra 40 minutes each week.
What are you so good at you don’t even have to try and you do it well? What are you doing when time flies and you don’t even realize it’s been an hour or two? What comes so naturally to you it seems like you were born to do it? The more we do what comes naturally to us, the easier our lives become.
We should work with our natural tendencies instead of fight against them. Where to store stuff and organize our workspace should be based on how we think things should be and not what others think. The types of tasks and projects we work on should (if we have the choice) be things that bring out the best in us and align with what we like to do. We are who we are, maybe we should embrace our quirks and use them to our advantage.
Does technology save time and simplify your life? Sometimes. Often technology and devices can become a burden, complicate our lives, and waste our time. The same can be said for non-tech items as well. One way to simplify our lives is to cut off complications at the pass.
Choosing to buy or accept only things that will make your life easier is one way to simplify things. They say the grass is always greener on the other side–maybe because it’s fake. When I had fake grass installed in my yard it simplified my life in a dozen different ways. On the flip side, I purchased software that promised to make bookkeeping easier, yet it was a pain in the neck, so I went back to my simplified system instead.
There was an article a few years back that asked the reader which person in a courtroom they identified with most, and the answer indicated a lot about the reader’s makeup.
Between the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, defendant, witnesses, jurors, the court reporter, clerk, deputy, and gallery members, I chose the defendant—whom I surmised was innocent.
What this revealed was I often root for the underdog—and see myself that way, too. That’s why I love a good comeback. Someone who gets beat down or can beat the odds and bounce back is inspiring to me.
So I compiled some of my favorite underdog and comeback stories and created a mini book. The “Comeback” book is free for the asking (firstname.lastname@example.org) and below are a few excerpts.
Credit Cards Kept Her Idea Alive
As a sales trainer for an office supply company, Blakely was required to wear panty hose—which she hated. So she set out to design what would become Spanx. She kept her day job while shopping her idea around—with no luck for four years—and worked at Danka (her employer) until Spanx sales reached $4 million, then she went out on her own.
Don’t quit your day job.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR
Was Found Passed Out in a Stranger’s Home
Downey’s addiction problems were legendary—even by Hollywood standards. In 2000, he spent a year in prison for drug possession after multiple arrests. After he cleaned up, he became one of the most respected and highest paid actors in Hollywood. “I don’t drink these days. I’m allergic to alcohol and narcotics. I break out in handcuffs,” Downey said.
It is possible to overcome addiction.
Lost Her Left Arm in a Shark Attack
While surfing her home break on Kauai, Bethany had her left arm ripped off by a Tiger Shark. Within weeks she was surfing again, then competing (and winning) with only one arm. “Soul Surfer,” a feature film and best selling book about her ability to bounce back have inspired millions. “Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you,” Said Hamilton.
Don’t make excuses, make things happen.
Barely Able to Pay The Bills on His Teacher’s Salary
As a teenager, Morris was a top pitching prospect until his arm gave out. After several surgeries he hung up his cleats and became a teacher and baseball coach in a small town. His players encouraged him to attend a tryout where he dazzled the scouts with 97 mph fastballs and made it to the major leagues at age 35 as a left-handed reliever for the Rays.
It’s never too late to try.
Master Studio Tapes for New Album Were Stolen
Green Day’s 1994 debut album “Dookie” was an enormous success—one they couldn’t match with their next three releases. In 2003, they recorded a new album, but the master tapes were stolen from the studio. They started from scratch and the result was “American Idiot,” a Grammy-winning smash hit.
What if we earned “money” by doing good deeds? The more we give, the more we get. We could swipe a card and earn “points” every time we helped someone, and then use those points to purchase things.
Those considered wealthy and elite would be those who did the most good. Unfortunately, this is a fantasy and people don’t become wealthy (in the traditional sense) by giving away their time, talent, and things.
Maybe we could still ask ourselves now and again, “What can I give?” instead of, “What do I get?” It’s a start.