Introvert

Information zombies and their overnight success virus: Are you one of them?

This is a more a personal story on my reflections on the effects of trying to do many things at once. When I moved to Texas from Puerto Rico on the summer of 2010; I was trying to change my life completely and start working on my film career. Back then I was a completely different person, I was a mess. I knew that if I did not changed my environment and my psychology that my life was going nowhere. Much has change since then. It was 5 years ago and it feels like a lifetime has passed.

I bring this up because the internet or more specifically how people perceive the internet, has made people think that they can change fast. That somehow you can magically in a short period of time become a better person or become a successful entrepreneur, A YouTube or social media celebrity. You know this as “the overnight success” phenomenon.

I follow a lot of smart people which I have mentioned in the past like Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuck, Seth Godin, Rammit Sethi and more recently Dorie Clark. Some of them as long as 5 years and all that time I have observed a common thread. That many of the fans devour desperatly their content; but they don’t necessary apply it, there just contented with knowing the theory of success, but not the practice. I have a name for this myself, the information zombie. I did this myself for a time and still have to remind myself of not to regress, by no means I say I’m perfect. Here’s how it works and how it can affect certain people.

Phase 1: Being exposed to the virus

You can become an information zombie by being exposed to the overnight success virus if you have extreme mental starvation and malnourishment; which can be caused by your past economical, psychological and social environment. You might have been raised in poverty, dysfunctional family, a lack of a positive role model. Alas, all the usual suspects that you have read in studies such as this one or this one. Making matters worst are the news you see on the media such as “First time screenwriter gets a million dollar offer.” It doesn’t matter that these are myths 98% of the time and the other 2% was luck or a certified genius. Still these kind of stories play tricks on your mind. You start thinking that you can be that overnight success, since your particular economical or mental situation may not have completely broken you. You still have a flicker of hope, a small fire, that you are desperately trying to cling on. This is called the hero’s journey, in this case your Luke Skywalker from Star Wars or Neo from the matrix, desperately trying to find out the truth.

Then comes the thought leader or the teacher; your Yoda. Here is where the real danger comes. You are so hungry to complete the journey that you fail on taking the precautions to protect yourself from the virus. This is Luke ignoring Yoda when he ignored the warning that he had to complete his training first and chooses to face Darth Vader instead. How that turn out for him? How many time successful people say over and over the same things before we catch on. It takes years to build a brand; which can be a business, your career, your network. However, we are so hungry that we try to do many things at the same time.

This is exactly what I did. At one point in my journey I wanted to be a traditional filmmaker, a freelancer, get out of debt, build my network, blogging, etc. All this despite that I heard time and time again from all my Yoda’s that I can only focus on one at the time.

Phase 2: Becoming a Zombie

Here where things can get real dark. If you are not careful you can lose yourself trying to change very quickly. You can become just like the undead going from eating brain to brain, reading and consuming finding only tactics. You try everything because you are multi-passionate and you want success and damn it…you want it NOW! Sadly all your efforts fail which is not so bad; if you are hyper aware, because you can move on. This is akin to getting shot in the head while you are human. The other alternative is that you don’t completely fail, your are just mediocre and you move at the slowest of paces. You start walking like the undead. Unfortunately many stay as a zombie all there lives. You get caught in this limbo of going through the motions, getting distracted with the flashy new thing just like the zombies watching the fireworks in a George Romero movie.

Phase 3: Finding a cure

The good news is that there is a cure, the bad news is that it’s a heavy treatment and it’s not easy. Just like the painful process of the chemotherapy, but a necessary one in other to survive. The first things to do when you are tackling to many things at once, is to stop what your doing and ask consult with mentors who have done what you are trying to do. If you don’t have mentors, find them. Do not try to figure things out on your own, because that’s how you got into this mess in the first place. Also don’t be tempted to substitute potential real life mentor’s that you can reach out to through networking with books. I’m speaking to all introverts who do this, because frankly books make it all sound easy. The authors of these books spent years with research and real life experiences and condense everything into a few pages of paper. Not to mention that the publishers edit most of these books to make it “marketable”. A real life mentor will give you all the nuances as well as the nuts and bolts of their experience. I wrote before on how to find a mentor and check the resources page for more in depth guidance of the process of connecting with other people.

Be aware, protect yourself from the virus!

Networking for Introverts 101

Networking for Introverts 101

There are many myths about us introverts raging from that we are anti-social to that we can fix being an introvert ourselves. Of course non- are true, but you already knew that since you are probably introverted yourself. Still from time to time; we might want to get out our comfort zone in networking environments, particularly those of us with high career ambitions. We can grow our network without changing our nature by approaching things differently and use our strengths at our advantage. The strongest one being that we actually tend to listen to people’ instead of just blabbing out endlessly like some clueless extroverted people that don’t realize they are being annoying. This post will discuss networking for introverts in two social settings. In a networking event or mixers which may consist of large groups of people and on 1-on-1 situations where we excel.

Everything important has already been said in the past by the great thinkers and philosophers. Habits are the corner stone of everything of importance you want to do in life. That’s why everything that follows is designed to be implemented as some form of habit formation and using systems to adquire those habits. Below there is video from on entrepreneur.com that clearly explains why systems and habits are way more important than goals. The video will give a better understanding of why you should focus primarily on your everyday habits over setting a goal.

Make it official by scheduling time

Only 8% of Americans achieve their New Year resolutions. The problem might be that the majority of people have limited willpower. There is a significant amount of research finding that willpower is limited. Change is hard and the way to make it less painful is by making small changes that increment over time using automated systems. This has been proposed by BJ Fogg of Stanford University. Using all this research as pillars, we can build a framework to start developing all the social skills needed to interact with people. The most important thing is to start with small goals. Don’t expect to be the life of a party in one month (not that you want to) if all your life you have been uncomfortable with talking to strangers and the only way you could do it was by playing videogames in your basement. Start changing by scheduling time that will go towards activities that relate to your social goals. Use a calender to plan your activities on a weekly basis. I use google calender myself for it’s automatic reminders that I need to complete my scheduled tasks.

Building a habit of socializing in mixers

By starting with small goals and scheduling time you will actually be starting the process of building socializing habits.

The definition of a habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

To re frame in another context habits are part of your personality and this is why only a small group of people are able to achieve their goals, because in other to accomplish a goal we need to develop a series of new habits which in turn requires us to change our personalities. Whoa.

This is why we cannot change overnight and it requires a lot of practice and patience. Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but it helps a lot if you keep it small. I’m talking Ant-Man kind of small here people.

I highly recommend using meetup.com to get the ball rolling to search for groups that you share similar interest. Make sure to sign on for a group that meets at least once a month minimum. In the first meeting talk to at least one person by your own initiative use the following template questions for starters. These questions are guaranteed to at minimum; make a 15 minute conversation, because it will inevitably lead to other questions. I have done this countless times and I end up always talking more than 15 minutes in worst case scenarios when I find the other person is on a non-chatty mood. Never approach anybody eating. Trust me I know.

  • Hi my name is______. What yours?

  • Have you been to this meetup before?

  • Have you been to other meetups like these? How those this compare to the others?

  • Are you from around here? If they come from another city follow up with the next question. Otherwise skip it.

  • What brought you here?

  • What do you do?

  • What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Don’t like the questions? Feel free to make up your own, just be sure to include as many open questions that won’t give you a Yes or No answer. When you ask them remember that things will go easier if you shut up and actually listen. Don’t think about yourself, think about the other person and you may find that their answers could easily lead to other topics of discussion, then you can add more questions of your own to the template questions.

To put it on a mathematical perspective, you should only talk 20% of the time and the other person should talk 80%. If it makes it easier to remember another way to concentrate on the other person rather than yourself is to always act like the host of the party. Of course introverts should have no problem with this. As you get comfortable in these conversations try to make yourself valuable by being of value to the other person by offering genuine compliments, give useful information that might help them on way or another or sharing stories that validate their points of views one way or another.

After you have asked these template questions to different people and you start feeling comfortable with yourself you will start noticing their body language. For example, If you notice their body not looking towards you at any time then make a graceful exit by saying the it was a pleasure to meet them and you will see them around and move on to the next person. Always follow up with people that you meet in mixers, at least with the ones you felt rapport.

Your body language

Your own body language affects any outcome in a group setting. You don’t want to be that person who is always looking at the phone pretending to be busy. You also don’t want to hover around people awkwardly. Always walk in a room with purpose and act as if you were a curious kid. When you enter the room say hi to the closest person on the door and exchange a few words of banter. Banter is a way talk or exchange remarks in a good-humored teasing way. It’s just meaningless conversation and you don’t need a reply. It’s absolutely critical that you smile after saying these lines. After all you are supposed to have fun. Here a few example lines of banter, make it your own so that it feels natural.

  • Hi, this is going to be an awesome party I can feel it.

  • You guys look like the life of the party here.

  • Quit your day job. I’ll double your salary. You can be my bodyguard.

Now this is what you do instead of just looking at your cellphone in a party/mixer. Just walk in the room and say hi to whoever is at the door. If there are drinks served then head straight to just check out where they are at, but don’t take one just yet. Then walk around the room saying your banter lines to whoever makes eye contact with you and next try to find the bathroom. Use it, even if it’s just to look at yourself in the mirror and then head back to get your drink. The purpose of all this is to just get a feel of all the people in the party. By then the majority of people should be aware of your presence and hopefully you would have established yourself as a person who has confidence. Then proceed to talk to one of the people you already said hi to (or a group of people) and work your way around always remembering to act curious about the world around you.

Now I know that for many introverts this may sound scary. However, it’s important not to expect things to go to smoothly the first time. Do it a few times and make an analysis after each mixer to think about what things you made right and what things need more practice. Also if you are being to nervous about the whole situation; it is probably because you are thinking about you, when you should really be focusing on the people and their feelings. Remember, it’s all about them not about you.

Meeting for coffee

There are many times when you may want to meet someone you don’t know in a 1 on 1 basis. Let’s say for example you want to meet a person for a company you would like to work for in the future. Do your research and go to Linkedin and find a few candidates and pick one (or a few) that you feel that you could connect to because of things you have in common. If you are lucky you might find that you already have friends in common either in Linkedin itself or Facebook. If that’s the case then reach out to friends in common to either ask them for an introduction or ask them if they recommend you to reach out to your person of interest yourself.

Now most people include in their profiles their personal websites and social networks, whether that be Twitter or Facebook. Start following them and make interactions with them online first so they can get a feel of who you are. Then you can just send them a very short and to the point e-mail and invite them for coffee to ask them questions about how it’s like to work in their company. Below is an example.

Hi John,

My name is X. Our mutual friend of ours XYZ, recommended me to reach out to you.

(Always mention what you have in common in the first line whether it’s a mutual friend or common interest)

I’d love to get your career advice for 15-20 minutes. I’m currently working at Wayne Enterprises, but lately I have becoming more interested in Lexcorp.

(Go straight to the point)

Do you think I could pick your brain on your job and how you came to Lexcorp? I’d especially love to know what skills are most helpful to handle your day to day activities.

(The phrase pick up your brain is always a compliment, because you acknowledge that they know more than you)

I can meet you for coffee or at your office…or wherever it’s convenient. I can work around you!

Would it be possible for us to meet?

(Make it easy for them, In many cases I suggest a date and time myself that may be convenient for them)

Make sure you have a clear purpose when trying to meet them 1 on 1. Don’t just invite them to talk about your life. As a guideline think of 1 to 5 professional questions (mostly about them) and only at the end ask them to give you some advice related to what your trying to accomplish. After the meeting follow up with other emails explaining how there advice is helping you to achieve your goals. For more in depth details of how to send e-mails check out my free ebook.

Networking for introverts doesn’t need to be a chore if you make it more about really making connections. It’s all about making truthful relationships and not about what you can get from the other person. Remember to always give without expecting anything in return and eventually with time people might help you…maybe, and that should be alright with you.

3 sure tactics introverts can use to crush it on Linkedin.

Before jumping to this article I just want to say that the trailer for The Avengers: Age of Ultron was mindblowing. Warner Brothers has a lot of work and trust to build. This week in adventures within the biotech company I work for. We were having a discussion about Linkedin and the best way how to use it. It was then when I thought that many geeks out there had the same questions and hence this short post. I have been using Linkedin myself for around 5 years now and here is what I can tell you.

Like a lot of people out there I started to add my contacts first and then proceeded to add people randomly. Which is of course is the wrong way to do it. I stopped sending invitations, because I realize that I was not going to really connect on a personal level with the majority of people. What is the purpose of having 500 connections on Linkedin, if when the time comes to ask for a job maybe only 2 will vouch for you and the only reason they would is that they already knew you before joining the site? There are two ways to best approach adding people on Linkedin.

1.Add people you have already actually met.

Instead of wasting time adding random people that don’t know you and therefore don’t trust you; try to adding people that you have actually met through networking groups, panel discussions, meet-ups and social gatherings. They have already spoken to you and probably there is already some rapport. However, it’s very important to follow up by contacting them frequently. Try to really be friends with them without waiting for something in return. If you feel that there was not enough rapport in that initial introduction don’t add them, because you will not follow up with them and trust won’t flourish.

2.Add people you would like to meet.

By the same token; if you have not connected with a person and would like to start doing so using Linkedin make sure to reach out to them by e-mail first or social media. Follow them on twitter or Facebook and try to build rapport first, before adding them on Linkedin. The key point here is to remember that they are real people with feelings and not a means to an end. I talk about this process more on my ebook (shameless plug, I know).

Right now I have 158 connections on Linkedin and I am in no hurry to reach 500. I rather have a strong network of peers and friends that we can all support each other than 500 connections that really cannot vouch for me because they don’t really know me.

3.If you really want to build your network faster, try meeting one important person weekly.

Networking and making true connections are your most important asset and currency. It has the potential to make collaborations and open doors you would not have thought off. This takes time I strongly recommend meeting one person weekly. That’s the best way to ensure long term growth.

4 ways to control your negative self talk

This week I was in one of my mood swings. I can go for longs stretches of time thinking everything is awesome, especially when I go to the dentist and she gives me the gas. When that happens I feel connected to the universe and that nothing can go wrong…true story. Sometimes though I feel like asking myself What the hell I’m doing? Just like this week and it’s on those times the you have to be extra careful. If not your mind can start racing and the next thing you know you find yourself indulging to much in whatever vice you have when your feeling down.

As someone who has adapted to live with a rare condition, I know how the fog of insecurity can cloud the mind sometimes for weeks at a time. In the past when that used to happen I would lock myself in my room and try to figure my way out to clarity. It turns out that doesn’t work well at all. I would just go on circles and then feel guilty because I was felt stupid for not figuring out solutions. It took me years to understand and learn some principles that would allow me take a different approach when I’m not feeling “motivated”.

  1. Do not force yourself to take action when not motivated. Studies have shown that will power is limited. If you’re not feeling in the mood to complete a task that you set yourself up for the day, then don’t do it. Instead take to time to analyze what event happened that maid you feel unmotivated. Example, sometimes I don’t feel like writing or doing marketing research. If nothing comes out of my mind for 20 minutes while I’m in front of the computer then I just don’t force myself to write. Instead I would list events that lead me to be in that particular state of mind. The majority of times I find the reason I feel tired are usually after taking care of unscheduled errands. If after a few days of listing events you see a pattern then schedule around that. It could be anything. Maybe your a morning person and you should just wake up one hour earlier, maybe you eat something when you shouldn’t.

  2. Research out to mentors or support groups. If you’re mind is racing because of high anxiety and indecision just remember, your situation is not unique. People before you have already gone through that fire and back again, go talk to them. When I was feeling most insecure about my facial paralysis I reached out to someone who has my same condition. We were pen-pals for years, before I actually met her in The Moebius Syndrome conference in 2010 and have been good friends ever since. Now I realize that everyone has some crutch whether physical or mental and I choose not to feel down.

  3. Ask yourself Why? 5 times. Always go to the root cause when you find yourself over thinking a situation. This is a method used in problem solving scenarios and it’s called…drum-roll…the 5 Why’s. Basically it involves exhausting the reasons for a problem until you find the root cause. I Companies use this method to define, measure, analyze, improve and control situations that involve human factors or interactions. Let’s say that your worrying about your life. Why? Maybe you have too much debt. Why? Your not good managing money. Why? You don’t save money. Why? You don’t earn enough money Why? Your job does not pay much. At the point you can decide either to get a raise or get another higher paying job.

  4. Focus on what you can control. Don’t waste your time in things you cannot control. So much effort is wasted blaming others, because is the easy excuse not to do anything. Biggest time wasters are blaming people for your problems, the government and the past. Get away from toxic people as soon as you realize it, change yourself first before even trying to change the government and as for the past, well there are thousands of YouTube videos of “Let it go” from the movie Frozen.

How introverts can accomplish goals like Harry Potter and Harmonie.

Last week we discussed the topic of taking control of our lives, but this week is when you can learn actual steps to take control of your own life using systems and developing tiny habits without having to cast on yourself an Imperius curse. I loved the Harry Potter films and I waited to watch all films before I could start reading the books which, by the way I’m still in book one. Of course my favorite character was Harry because he always took action regardless of the risk involved, but I also was a fan of Hermione because she was methodical and organized. You could tell that she had routines that aided her self-development, becoming one of the brightest students in Hogwarts. It’s funny that JK Rowling said recently that she regretted not having them to be romantically involved, because despite that I was glad that Ron ended with Hermione, I can she how perfect Harry and Hermione were actually perfect for each other.

It turns out that their characteristics are perfect for us as well. How many of you want a better lifestyle? I’m willing to bet that many of you wish you could work in a dream job. Some of you would want to finally travel abroad. How do we accomplish those goals? As much as we may want to send hundreds of resumes using owl’s; alas, it’s probably not the most efficient way to do it. Same thing goes by just playing the lottery so we can finally go on that trip to Japan.

  • The first step would be write down what do we want. Sounds lame? Perhaps. Does it work? Ask any successful entrepreneur. I’m not joking… do it. Use meetup.com and start practicing your social skills. For those of you who are skeptical and say that by just writing your goals down nothing will happen, I will just say you are right, which brings me to my next point.
  • Write How your going to accomplish your goal in a measurable way. Let’s say you want to go to Japan. Other questions that you need to answer is when? How much would it cost? How much do you need to save per month? What automatic system would you use for saving? What steps are you going to take today, tomorrow, next week? See how the dream becomes much clearer. Don’t leave anything up in the air. Organize your thoughts because…
  • Action is the most important step. Move your ass dammit! Write down some actions to take and them start doing them even if you don’t know what steps you should take later. Will it happen just as you planned it. Probably not, like Harry said when suggesting to return to Hogwarts which was occupied by the forces of Voldemort:

 

Harry Potter: We have to go there, now.

Hermione Granger: What? We can’t do that! We’ve got to plan! We’ve got to figure it out…

Harry Potter: Hermione! When have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!

 

The key to achieving any goal is to ask yourselves always how? And if you get stuck remember not to figure things out alone. There are many tools you can use to break out your steps. Many of them are free like google calender and habitforge. The later is a free app to develop good habits or getting rid of bad ones. The final question I ask you is will you be more like Harry? What small step are you going to take today for your self-development?