No one likes the person at the conference or cocktail hour who’s only interested in promoting their company and handing out business cards. This shameless “networker” mentality will not only annoy everyone else in the room, but also hurt your business by burning bridges with potential collaborators. Fortunately, serial entrepreneur Scott Gerber is an expert on the other way to build business relationships—the way of the “connector.”
Scott has based his whole career on business relationships and helping other people build them. As the co-founder of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and The Community Company, he’s spent nearly a decade helping entrepreneurs and global brands alike intelligently grow their networks. And in his recently released book “Superconnector: Stop Networking and Start Building Business Relationships that Matter,” he explains why taking the long view on relationship-building and being a connector instead of a networker will ultimately lead to greater success.
In this episode of Powderkeg: Igniting Startups, Scott shares how to use the “superconnector” mindset and strategies to create meaningful relationships that fuel business growth. You’ll learn the importance of generosity in being an effective connector, how to more easily spot “takers” in business and life, and how to be the “Sherlock Holmes of discourse” to get the most out of every conversation you have.
In this episode with Scott Gerber, you’ll learn:
- How self-audits can help you move past your biggest failures. (4:55)
- Why it’s better to be a connector than a networker. (17:04)
- How to spot a “taker” who’s only interested in what they can get from you. (26:25)
- Proven superconnector strategies for building business relationships that matter. (29:43)
- The role generosity plays in a successful career and a fulfilling life. (41:20)
- What your family can teach you about giving to others. (44:48)
Please enjoy this conversation with Scott Gerber!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.
Scott Gerber quotes from this episode of Powderkeg:
“Connectors are people who are incredibly self-aware and incredibly selective about who they surround themselves with.” — @scottgerber on @PowderkegHQ
“Real relationships take real time, and you can’t cheat real time.” — @scottgerber on @PowderkegHQ
“There is no five-minute formula to being a connector. There are no five steps. It is a mindset, not a series of tips and tactics. It is a framework to live your life.” — @scottgerber on @PowderkegHQ
“If you want to have an incredibly fulfilling life, care about the people who care about you.” — @scottgerber on @PowderkegHQ
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
Companies and organizations:
Scott Gerber (@scottgerber)
Ryan Paugh (@ryanpaugh)
Keith Ferrazzi (@ferrazzi)
Liam Martin (@vtamethodman)
Adam Grant (@AdamMGrant)
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What stood out most to you about what Scott shares in this podcast?
For me, it’s the proven superconnector strategies for building business relationships that matter.
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People that instantly are looking for a bonafide metric to judge you by again, it could be money, title, status, whatever, whatever that metric is that you deem to be sort of a vanity like I should be defined by x. That means that you are probably dealing with someone that’s killing you.
That’s Scott Gerber and few people understand business relationships in the age of social media as well as he does. He has a staggering list of accomplishments, many of which will detail on the show. But here’s a glimpse. Gerber is the co founder and CEO of the community company, which builds world class communities for global brands and media companies, is an internationally syndicated columnist, who has also authored or co authored multiple books, that includes the recently published, super connected, stop networking and start building business relationships that matter. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And you’re listening to Episode 54 of powderkeg igniting startups, a show for entrepreneurs, leaders and innovators who are building remarkable tech companies outside of Silicon Valley. Today’s episode is a special in between. So as we ready a new format for season two. I’m pretty stoked to share this conversation with Scott Carver because one of the first lessons that business leaders learn and often have to relearn is that your company is only as strong as your relationships that applies to your customers, investors, people on your team and beyond. So let’s get started. Hey, Matt Hunckler here coming at you live from powderkeg headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. And I have a very special guest today. That is joining me all the way from New York City. I have Scott Gerber, the CEO of community and company here with me. And he is right off the presses with his brand new book super connector, which I’m holding here in my hand right now, we’re gonna be giving away a few copies to some of the commenters here on the live stream. So tune in for the whole live stream, drop some comments, we’re going to be sending some free copies to some of you. And we’ll follow up with you in the comments or direct message you read on Facebook. Because this is an amazing book. I’ve known Scott for years, I consider him a friend and a mentor.
Scott, thanks so much for being with us here today.
Thanks so much for having me really appreciate it.
Absolutely. Man, I want to I want to tell him, my audience a little bit about you. And I’m gonna actually read your bio. Because we’ve known each other for so long, I don’t want to go off script and divulge some stories that isn’t ready for the the general public to know. You have an impressive bio as the CEO of the community company, which is an organization that builds and manages professional communities for media companies and global brands. And you’re the founder of white UC, which I’ve been a member of for years and have gotten a ton of benefit. That’s the young entrepreneurs Council, which is an invitation only organization comprised of the most successful young entrepreneurs. And me too, I got in there as well. Also, just got in under the wire got in under the wire. Also the Forbes councils, which is a collective invitation only organization for world class executives, many other communities as well. You’ve been featured in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and again, brand new author of this new book with your co founder, Ryan, Pa super connector, and I am super excited to talk to you specifically about this book today. Because there are so many good insights in here. If you are someone who’s building a business or just building your career, this is a book you’re gonna want to read if, if you read Never Eat Alone with Keith ferocity, which I’ve probably is my most recommended book. And soon superconductor might be my most recommended book, because it’s really seems like it’s it’s keith ferocity, you know, for the 21st century. And Keith actually wrote the introduction for this book. How did you manage that, Scott?
Well, I mean, we’ll get into like, sort of some of the super connector secrets later, I’m sure. But to be honest, you know, Keith, just like you just mentioned had a huge impact on my life. When I was first getting started. I had a massive failure. I’m sure we’ll talk about that, too. And, you know, that book was was a life changer for me, because it made me fundamentally realize what I was flawed in. The irony now that that’s my livelihood is community building and relationships. But it was all a started because of that amazing book, Never Eat Alone. And so I did something that just sounds totally crazy. And I’ve no key for years, I wouldn’t say that. We’re best friends are in like that I want to mistake. But he’s known of me. He’s known of why see our career, we’ve had dinner a few times all that I literally sent him a minute long video, and just explained how impactful what he had his book had done for me how much it just meant to me, and how much you would mean to myself and Ryan, if he would consider writing this book, which, like you said a second ago, we consider to be sort of the next generations never eat alone. And he got back to me within a day or two and was just so touched his own words from his team. And that was it. And he wrote it. So habitual generosity and making smart asks, you know, those types of things come around full circle sometimes.
Well, I don’t want to dive right into some of those strategies here in a moment, but first, I think it’d be really good for people to kind of understand your journey. You have how you got to here? You know, you mentioned one of your greatest failures in your past. And I don’t want to dwell on the failure. But usually a lot of times in the biggest failures when you get the biggest lesson, can you maybe take me back to that moment? Where was that low point for you? When you hit rock bottom?
This is what I really love about my story. And I’m not saying that to pat myself on the back. But you know, I want to impress on people. You’re not talking to a guy who is a billionaire came from money came from connections kind of guy, I think, especially with books like this, when you hear about it, it’s sometimes it can come off as like, oh, well, of course he did. Because he’s successful. And now it’s like, this is impossible. It’s not approachable. It’s not something I can do. Well, let me sort of take a step back and just show you just how much what I’m going to hopefully share today is approachable and teachable. Yeah, Where’d
you grow up?
I came from Staten Island, New York, my mother was a special education teacher. She just recently retired a few years ago, my father was a sales, the carpeting industry. I was always in the arts of all things. When I was growing up, I was like the, you know, the president of a club for drama, or the school play, and you know, that kind of stuff. I thought that I was gonna be the next American Great book tour. So I focused my entire high school career, not on some business endeavor or whatever. In fact, most people, you know, think I was an entrepreneur born and bred through and through. It’s not true. I didn’t get that bug until college when I went to NYU, but not to stern, where everybody assumes these days, I went to business school, I went to Tisch to the the art school, and basically learned within the first year and a half, that I was not destined to be the next big director, it was not my skill set, I was a producer, I was very good at that. I was good at convening people. I was good at sharing a vision and getting people to buy into that vision to create great work. How did what I was not, I wasn’t the lens, I think it’s because first I had to fundamentally validate that I should stay in the school in a certain way, right? You know, I saw these amazingly talented kids that, you know, just saw the world very differently than I did. And I knew that that artsy style wasn’t for me. But when I started just looking at what my skill set was, like, looking at a project and having an eye for it, and identifying what would be good or bad, or identifying who should be involved in a project, or how to build teamwork around a project, you know, that was something that I looked at my previous like, high school career at the time. And, you know, like I said, president of this leader of that group, that sort of, I think really was a whole time what I was doing. But I was so focused on the content of that the drama, the play part, I wasn’t focused on the fact that I was the director of that, or the lead of that. So I didn’t really look at the right skill sets that I was, I was, you know, more geared for. So anyway, here’s the story of what happens. junior year, I go and I create a business impromptu, I start lying about my age to anybody that will listen say I’m 30 years old, how they believe me, I had to grow facial hair, just to look like I’m over 30. Now you do have
a very nice beard, Scott, I got it.
And so I learned about my age, and I started getting real work. I’ve never actually worked for anybody in my life. That’s the first title of my first book was never get a real job. But the idea was very simple. I started producing real projects, I was working for Atlantic Records and a bunch of other things doing like music videos, and all kinds of stuff that you’ve probably seen at some point in your life in the MTV world. And then I made every dumb stupid mistake that one makes spent too much had a huge ego hung out with the wrong people. Just you name it, it was the normal dumb rookie level mistakes, but I was fortunate, you know, looking back fortunate as hell to have made them then that have made them now. You know, I have four kids, I live in New York City, very different situation now. You know, so the reality is, is that I basically went from, you know, big time wunderkind producer of something like, you know, a 20 year old to two weeks before graduation, having $700 left to my name. And my parents who were disappointed in me in some ways, because I just was so on this entrepreneur kick, because they didn’t understand it. You know, my mother said, you know, Hey, Scott, you know, time to get a go, go get a real job. And I was like, What the hell is that? I don’t even I just got my ass kicked for two and a half, you know, two years back and forth and learned everything, how can I not take that and turn that into something valuable? So that was the moment where I audited myself. And this sort of gets to the crux of book and where I’ve gone and to your point, the main learning that I am beyond fortunate enough to have learned but more importantly, to have recognized at a young age, because most people I don’t think would have recognized the true problem was summed up a series of problems I just mentioned to you, you know, spend too much ego all that crap. Those are small, incremental issues that are things you need to work on as a human being. But when I finally did some introspection, and I said, What is it that really made me not success? So what why did I fail so miserably? It was obviously a business that was making money and then fundamentally didn’t. So that wasn’t the issue. It’s what was, I learned very quickly was one thing. I did not put a group of people around me, an inner circle of people that were at a level that could understand me that I could go to ask questions have have really deep raw conversations with and have things that I could have learned at that age, not just mentorship, I don’t want to make it sound like it’s a mentor thing, just people that got me and I understood them. They understood what I was going through. And you know, again, like a D mask from that fake I’m 30 Tight mentality at the time that fake it till you make it crap that we all have to somewhat do when we’re younger, to just saying, look, here’s my problem, or set me straight man, what did I do wrong in this situation? Oh, I am being an egotistical last, okay, well, I should probably stop that, then right? People to put you in check and just be real with you. I didn’t have it. And so I made a promise right there. And then to myself that if I was going to find success in my life, ever, that at some point, I wanted to put a group of people together, initially around me, but around all young entrepreneurs, that one day would ensure that no young entrepreneur had to go it alone or feel like they were alone. And obviously, I started another business that wasn’t YC, that became successful. And then I went on to found yc. And I’ll sort of do full stop there. Because you get the journey early, that’s sort of listening. And I don’t want to dominate I am the type a of myself and my partner Ryan, if you haven’t figured that out yet. I just say all that for two reasons. One, not asked me to, I just really want everybody to understand everything that hopefully you learn in this live chat. If you watch it later. It’s all attainable. You know, I didn’t have a leg up my leg up is okay, I’m middle class. I’m sure if I had, you know, a little less, I would have had to work harder. But I believe it’s in me to be the person I am today. regardless of circumstance, I believe that that was the innate feature.
When it seems like Scott, you you took the time to do what you call the self audit? How did you know to do that process? And is that something you continue to do today? And if so, what what is the process for doing a self audit? Let’s say I wanted to do a self audit today or say, you know, 22 year old Matt wanted to do a self audit today. Yep. What does that look like?
So most of us lie to ourselves every day, we buy into the PR, there’s an old saying, and this is a CEO friend of mine said this to me about 510 years ago, and I it’s one of the like five monitors I live by, especially, you know, Matt, again, not saying these things to toot my own horn, just giving it so that people have context for the example. I’ve done a lot of media in my life, you name something before. And a lot of people, especially younger entrepreneurs, are guilty of this one thing and they buy their own PR, right? You buy into the hype, you believe what people are saying about you, rather than just execute operate stay the course. Right? And so I believe that people will buy into that PR. So it’s the same thing that you can’t buy into your own BS you can’t buy into just because you do something a certain way or you see the world a certain way that that isn’t necessarily how you should be buying into that. Yeah, so So my argument to people is when you bought it, and I’ll put this in context now sort of what I’m talking about today around relationships, you know, I ask everybody to determine are they a networker? Or are they a connector? Because it’s not just about your how you build relationships, in a lot of ways. It’s how you lead a team. It’s the same sort of lens. And so what is a network? Right? A networker is typically the kind of person who is that greasy, shake your hand, here’s a business card, like you feel like after meeting this person, you need to shower, right? Because it’s just such an icky thing, right? Anyone who’s been to a business event knows that knows exactly what I’m talking about. Oh, I’m an insurance salesman here. Let me tell you all about me. You need insurance right here, here, here, then you move over and I’m gonna go to the next guy over there right over your shoulder. Right. Then there’s the connector, which is more of a long term habitual thinker doesn’t think transactionally builds community, you’re obviously one of these kinds of people that, you know, that that really cares about people is curious about the wants to build relationships and long term value. When I tell people how do you audit that right? And this speaks to the larger question, how do you audit yourself? I asked them to take a simple exercise and think it through in a different way. So in this case, the simple exercises this in the next five conversations you have with that are business oriented with a business professional appear whatever that you’ve not ever met before it could be someone you just happen to meet someone you’re introduced to doesn’t matter five people that you’ve not yet met before. I want you to really be cognizant of the first 120 seconds of that conversation. Because in that that’s usually where the and I hope you get away from this. If you read the book, you’ll learn about why small talk is stupid, but that’s where the small talk happens. That’s the CV exchange right but LinkedIn bonafides and I want you to determine really quickly and that 120 seconds which way does your mind go to doesn’t go the way of, I have a question, I want to ask this person and follow up. Because that’s interesting. Or I’m curious, well, does it go the direction of this person is or is not somebody who could provide value to me. So I’m either going to try to end this conversation or figure out where I can extract the value I need? Which way does your mind go? Now, this is the simplest of audits, you don’t have to tell anyone, the results are totally, you know, private, this is something you can never tell another soul. Because if you are that networker, you might not want to change. And I’m not here to judge you. But there’s a better way. But you first need to assess what lens you actually see the world in without the PR without the outside stimulus. And if you catch yourself five out of five, saying like, Oh, wow, I want to ask the question, you’re more likely a connector and therefore now it’s about improving upon how to build the tools around that mindset that can further your connecting ability, if you are someone who is more transactional, and thinking about you first. Again, I’m not judging you. But I would argue that you are on the wrong path to longer term, more fulfilling relationships. So that could be the foundation by which you reset just based on being honest with yourself by five basic conversations, you can do this exact same exercise with any kind of mindset shift, right? Think about the next five purchases you make. Hey, you want to see how frugal you are? Or if you’re if you spend money? Did you go to Starbucks and get the extra five things on it? Or did you go get the dollar cup of coffee outside at the bodega? Right, five purchases? Do you? Which way do you spend? Next five people you meet personally? Okay, be self aware, did that person walk away in your mind actually thinking that you’re likable? Or Oh god, why am I talking to you? So my point is, five conversations that you have can fundamentally change the way in which you see yourself in some way, shape or form. In my case, I would argue connectional intelligence is the number one thing you should judge because that judges everything else. But that’s just gives you a sense of the kinds of simple things you can do to audit yourself. If you’re going to be meaningful, honest and authentic about it, and not lie to yourself.
Can you tell me why? I want to be a connector instead of a networker? Because to me, that sounds like more work.
Yeah, it is.
It is you telling me more work? Why would I want to be a connector when I could just go get what I want, and get out of this networking event or get out of this? We work office or industrial office. So
the idea that one person first of all, I think that you hit it on the head, and I know you’re just sort of setting me up. So you really think like that. There is this idea that we think the short route is the better route because we see the goal, but not the journey. It’s like everybody talks about Steve Jobs. He’s a genius. He’s wonderful. He’s amazing. And he was but he took nearly 30 years to get there. Right? Everybody’s like, I want to meet Richard Branson. Right? Because you think Richard Branson is gonna put his stamp on you have never met you before. And he’s gonna jump your career from A to Z. And that’s just not how the world works. Right? Work is real. There’s a great saying we saved in the book, one of my earliest mentors that set me straight. She was someone who worked for the key, the kingmakers the Branson’s, and so forth. And I was trying desperately to like get that secret sauce for her right that that formula that we that I thought must be there. And I said to her, you know, Holly, how do you get from A to Z or whatever I’ve said, but same concept. But it’s been 30 years. I want to get there in five months. First of all, what a dumbass question, let’s start there. But this was my earliest years. But she said something so profound that I wish my dumber young self would have understood instead of waiting years to really understand how profound it was. And she said, Scott, real relationships take real time. And you can’t cheat real time. It’s so simple, yet so profound, right? Yeah. And this is how I can equate it to your audience. And then I’ll get back to your point, Matt, let’s say that you and I never met. Okay, let’s say that I’m just Scott. You’re just Matt. We don’t You don’t know what I do. You don’t know who I am. I don’t know what you do. And I will say that to you. As a hypothetical. I woke up to you having never met you before in my entire life, and you’ve never met me in my entire life. I see Matt, you look like a really nice guy. I want to be your best friend. Can we be best friends right now? I look, I know, I’m gonna be a great best friend for you. And as a best friend, here’s something I need you to do for me. That’s what most people think, is how you build a relationship. But they don’t put it in those terms. Because to them, that would be making sense, right? Who would ever say You know what, I just met you. But yes, we should be best friends. Forget all that millions of hours of conversation we have to have before we get there. Forget those life changing moments. You’re there for me and I’m there for you. Let’s just keep all that crap. You know, you’re my best friend now forever. Who the hell would ever do that? And so to your original point that no, a networker is someone in my mind that will lose in the end because yes, the one time they’re going to get what you want because you think you’re gaming the system. Is that time that you’re gonna forget about the other 99 that you’ve burned every bridge with that will say no to the rest of your life, and will tell 99 other people to avoid you like the plague. Whereas if you’re a connector that doesn’t look for that transactional value that isn’t thinking a point here, from my point here, then you’re going to win. And then because your inner circle can get you into other inner circles, because the trust and the deep meaningful bonds that you’re going to build with people that you could be selective about that you could invest your own time and that you could be thoughtful for. You can’t buy that you can’t fake that you can’t like Sharon tweet that. That’s just the kind of crap that the blogosphere is gonna have you believe the five steps to relationship building success, there is none. And my final point, Hey, Matt, you want to get healthy, which you’re gonna do? Go drink that five minute, you know, Nutrish shake AB formula? Are you gonna change your lifestyle? Why do people think that you can get an eight pack of ABS, you could drink some stupid thing and sit under arrest, having something around your stomach that jiggles your belly, instead of putting the work in, and we still buy it hook, line and sinker. That’s what you have to avoid. There is no five minute formula to this. There are no five steps. It is a mindset, not a series of tips and tactics. It is a framework to live your life. And it is a better framework to live your life.
100% buy in with you and I was teeing you up a little bit. there with my last question, Scott, I really do. appreciate you sharing some of this journey. And you’ve mentioned already, you know, a mentor that you had this group of people you built around yourself. Can you talk to me about like maybe one or two of the guides along your journey, particularly in the early stages of making the shift from networker shortcut, six pack abs mindset, to more of the super connector mindset that you’ve now harnessed into a superpower? Who are some of those key people and how do they impact your journey?
Yeah, I mean, this is a first I’ve never actually told the story to anybody before, glad to have it here. First, my first mentor, who I can’t name and I can’t say the company. My first and I say I should say mentor, air quotes, that you’re getting the dress. So my first mentor was someone who I saw value in, and I bought hook, line and sinker everything that he was saying to me. And as a young guy, meeting someone with, you know, in a position I’ve never seen before extreme wealth, more money than God could do anything could open any door. You know, I assumed that that was a connector, you know, even when they call it necessarily that back then the same way. I wouldn’t necessarily thought it was an entrepreneur back in the early 2000s. Because that really wasn’t the vernacular back then. Right? I mean, entrepreneurship sounds like so current and mainstream now. But you know, 10 years ago wasn’t right. Zuckerberg hadn’t really done anything of note yet. It was a couple of campuses, a Facebook, this was relatively new in the in the mainstream culture. And, you know, I bought it hook line and sinker thinking, this guy is going to make me rich. So probably one is I bought into an idea. That was a false idea. I bought into a goal that was the wrong goal, not something that was heartfelt, but transactional, just the nature of the money. And it’s hard social media Television. I had a product at that time program that I worked very hard on probably the hardest I’ve ever worked on in my life, at that time. And I brought it to this person. And that person who I thought was going to be my, you know, the mindset I put around myself, remember, I wasn’t selective, I was like, you’re rich, you must know what’s best for me to get rich. So let’s understand the number of falsehoods and problems in that from my own lens as well as my goal setting ability. What I thought was a mentorship was actually someone who was a taker. And he immediately saw this as a program he should latch on to, and within a couple of months, basically went from being a mentor, to starting to ask me how he was going to get involved. What’s his take? What’s his percentage? Well, this advice isn’t free, Scott, this this is this is business. So he went from mentor to really trying to be a vulture. And my big aha moment sadly came when here I was at 21. With a letter from a lawyer, which I’d never gotten in my life, basically saying I was being sued, potentially opening up myself, I don’t want I want to be clear here. Not much of his day will be fair. I have opened myself up to a potential lawsuit in the millions for his time and hours spent in that a column wiki brought on to guide me in consulting for all the time he had spent with me to that point. Wow. You want to talk about sketch and you know what? 21 years old, you’re really serious. Your net worth is 10s of 1000s not millions of dollars. And 10s of 1000s are probably like you know your Bar Mitzvah money, you can’t touch kind of thing, you know kind of thing. Right? Right. And you’re You’re getting a lawyer letter from a firm you could never afford, saying, I’m going to take you out before you’ve gotten started. Now that all work itself out, he just basically disappeared because I think it was a threat with no teeth. But that moment was the first time I realized that when you buy into people who are takers are transactional thinkers, you yourself are a taker, or a transactional thinker, because connectors have a keen sense of understanding people. And I should have been more thoughtful about being selective of who I spent my time with. But I let the flashy lights and the and the, you know, the the awards and the money and the wrong goal setting affect my selectivity. I hadn’t yet been thoughtful about who do I want to surround myself with, I played to the wrong metric. So that’s the first thing, you know, we talked a lot about in the book. Connectors are people who are incredibly self aware, but also incredibly selective. So they’re not only understanding of their own selves and their understanding of how others perceive them. But they’re also selective very keenly about who they surround themselves with, who do they want to live their best lives with? Who do they consider to be amazing people? What are their own series of criteria not to call someone not to be exclusive in the elite sense, like I’m better than you, but to be selective of who they want a deep dive on time with, and you can’t give time to everybody. So how do you set that up? I was not being selective, I was caught in the wrong game, so to speak. If you were to go back
to that younger version of yourself with the skills you have now? How would you have spotted this person? How can we spot people in our own professional relationships and careers? Because we all meet, you know, dozens of people a month in our careers, if not more? How do we identify someone that could be potentially a taker, or someone who, who really isn’t going to have your best interest at heart?
You know, it’s super interesting that there’s just a 99% of the time, you can hear it in the conversation.
What do you look for?
You’re listening for taker terms, if you will, right? You’re listening for what their actual motives are, you’re listening for how they’re phrasing questions, you’re listening for how they speak to you and about you. You know, I remember certain phrases is going back. So I’m going to be a little off in the specifics. But you hear certain phrases like, when you’re talking, when they’re asking you to ask questions about yourself, it’s one thing to say, so what are your goals in life? Based on what you’re doing? It’s another thing to say, Oh, how much did you make last year on business? Alright, there’s just different and some of them were very blunt and obvious like that. Some of them. It’s, it’s, I call them internally, like establishing self worth questions, and so forth versus real work, I should say questions, right? People that instantly are looking for a bonafide metric to judge you by again, it could be money, could be title could be status, whatever, whatever that metric is that you deem to be sort of a vanity, like I should be defined by x. That means that you are probably dealing with someone that is filling you out for the wrong reasons. When I feel people out in conversation, I’m not filling them out for how much money do you make, I don’t care, I’m very successful, I don’t need you to help me make money. I also don’t care you to help me advance my career. If anything, I’m trying to probably find ways to play a role in your life, more than I’m looking for you to play a role in mine. In most cases, if I’m having a conversation. What I care about is when when I hear people talking about probing me around, you know, misconceptions, we just have to see the other day someone who’s not in our world doesn’t understand what I do, you know, because I’m a 30 year old something, you know, there’s a perception there that oh, well, you know, you’re just a normal guy. And, you know, when somebody is like, Oh, I’m I’m, uh, you know, Vice President at some firm and you’re telling me how wonderful and awesome you are, then I would never be the guy that talks about what I do. But a friend all the sudden, you have 20 minutes here and somebody bloviate on about how amazing their middle management position is, no says oh, maybe Scott can teach you something. You know, he’s the CEO of a company that’s, you know, multimillion dollar business, but almost 100 people under management, or people that work for, you know, it’s like all of a sudden you see the white in that person’s face because they misjudged the conversation. You know, when you’re taking the entire conversation, you’re feeling like I often say if you talk more, you have less value. Right? If you’ve got to spend 20 minutes of a 30 minute conversation explaining to me who you are, that’s you trying to make a case for why you think you’re more valuable than I am. To build your own ego to think why you are the person everybody should be listening to. Mainly because you’re insecure, in my opinion yourself. You know, I rarely ever talk about what I do anymore. Unless I’m directly asked, or something like this. Well, I don’t need to validate what I do. And you
talk about cutting out small talk, as well. So So what’s the right way to approach a conversation? Someone new you’ve never met before? Maybe this is even someone you’d like to build a relationship with or would like to at least explore the opportunity of building relationship with what’s the right way to approach those first Two minutes.
So it’s interesting, right? So the best connectors in the world have found a way to get them surround, get themselves surrounded by the right people even before the conversation. So we can get to that in a minute. But once you’re in the conversation, you how you’ve done the first part of ensuring first people are amazing around you. I’ll share some secrets on that in a minute. But if you find yourself in any conversation, one that has a connector based conversation or any conversation, I like to say you need to be the Sherlock Holmes of discourse. Your goal is to extract amazing context from people. It’s not about you. Your goal is to learn about other people, right to be genuinely curious about other people to be empathetic to the things they care about. And to learn those magic nuggets that make them tick. You know, for example, most people will come to me and say, small talk crap, like nice weather or, you know, what do you do that the kind of things that are just like either scripted answers, or one word, one phrase answers, which are the worst kinds of questions you can ask anybody? And I also don’t buy into you want to do these, you know, gamified social script type questions unnecessarily either you want great questions like, but hey, man, you just told me before this this interview about how you’re doing what you’re doing a powder keg and all that it had you not told me that or you gave me a basic one liner about it, I would have said something like, you know, where do you see this going. So in a year from now, when we might talk again, or see in person, you know, you would define success, and then you’re gonna basically back end the bullets of success for me, then I can prove each of those individual success points for more detail. And what I’m doing in my head is churning, you know, my brain is working to think we’re do I know someone? Do I have a resource? Do I know something that I can help Matt to achieve his goals that I might tell you in the moment or not to either ensure first, if I have to make an intro that I can double opt in the person I want to introduce you to based on the context I’ve extracted from you, or in to provide more of a serendipity approach to the connection or opportunity to give you a resource. You know, or I want to learn more over time, or see progress to ensure that either I’m right, or you’re going to do what you say you did. And I can do a check in and once I know you’re at a certain level, maybe there’s someone that I know would connect with you once you are at a certain level of your success plan that maybe wouldn’t have if you were little earlier in it to make sure that it’s the right moment. Right introduction right time, that all these things are little tidbits, little treasure trove pieces. You know what I’m talking to you I’m not looking for. That’s the CEO of powder keg, so to speak, I’m looking for Matt’s favorite drink is this, his favorite place to hang out is why his professional goals are this. And here’s the three bullets that he’s doing this year. I’m gonna follow up with him on next time based on my last conversation. And the first question I think I should ask him is this I’m gonna write all that in the Notes app of my iPhone, okay, or you know, in the contact for your name. And next time I see you or I’m following up with you, or you’re following up with me, I’ve got the secret sauce that most people don’t have. I can continue the conversation, I can remind myself of what was important to you, not because I’m trying to trick you or not being Machiavellian about it. It’s because I was thoughtful enough to actually listen to care enough to put that information in a way I could use it and package it and later be able to see how’s it going to put myself back into that mindset and fully focus on your specific goals and needs. Right? That’s really the goal.
But I’ve seen, I’ve seen you do this live, Scott. I mean, when we first met, I think it was five years ago, at South by Southwest. We were at the at the you reminded me just before we started this interview, it was at the fishbowl bar, which it’s all coming back to me now. But we were definitely on a bar crawl. So
it’s hard enough for that to come back to you because it was a rough night.
It was it was but we both found ourselves amongst an amazing group of people. You know, Liam Martin from staff.com, leading the entire bar crawl. Many other CEOs, founders, investors, they’re with us. And we both found ourselves in this place. How did you build your network? How did you surround yourself with those people? Because it was, it was clear to me when I met you, you kind of already knew everybody, and that you had already talked to everyone in the room probably gone through this process you just described to me.
So this goes back to what I started saying before about connectors are incredibly methodical. They are productivity gurus. That’s the only time they would ever say the word guru because everything else is you know, huckster, garbage, right? It’s just like, you know, like five tips guys and MLM people and all that crap.
We find people to surround ourselves with before we put ourselves in situations. And so, for example, in that exact story, I knew Liam to be someone who is a great guy, credibly, incredibly thoughtful person hung out with the kinds of people that I believe to be amazing people and almost like an anchor fellow connector, that I could trust his lens. So even by saying yes to something as simple as a barcode. I could have as you know, You could have as well in Austin, Texas started South by bidding every garbage event known to man every stupid panel discussion, and had not had the night where you and I had that bond. Yep. But I selectively picked the right curator of an experience to bring me into a circle to bring me into a new, vetted community. And that community might have only been for one night. But it’s the idea that the lens of the person I was using to make that decision, I thought was an amazing person. And I believe that I got it. So any communication that I would have that night, maybe some of them be life changing, some of them wouldn’t be, but here we are five years later. My point. Yeah. So. So the reality is, is that, you know, connectors put themselves in situations. So here’s a better example. That’s more, I think, open to your entire community of people watching this. That’s, that’s more like an everyday type thing. Sure. You asked me, you asked me before, like, how do you have a conversation? Well, before I have that conversation more times than not, I’m going to use someone else’s real estate to pull people from their places where they are. So let’s use a conference right? The bane of everyone’s existence, but that sometimes you have to go to if you don’t do it, right. And I know you’ve done great events, but you know how to do great events, there’s difference. Most conferences are like Dreamforce, right? 50,000 people, right? Certain other publication ones, 10,000 people? What the hell are you going to learn? Or how are you going to meet someone in a crowd of 10,000 people, most people that go to them already know, the people they want to send them itself by the joke of South by is you really don’t go to South by if you’re someone of note, or someone that’s highly connected, to go to South by right you go because you already know all the people you care about are going to be there. And you’re gonna find your own little niches in the larger group. And so same thing here, we call it building in a wastes, right. So the idea is, is that let’s say you’re gonna go to a conference event, you want to get the most out of that conference event, whatever you want to surround yourself with. And I’m making this incredibly generic tech entrepreneurs, because that’s a program that you’re doing right now, tech entrepreneurs that are between, let’s say, half a million and a million dollars in revenue or financing, right, so right at the beginning of their journey, and you want to have like a cool, just meet up for just those people. And you know, that there’s going to be God knows how many people at this event. So three weeks before the event, guys, this is how methodical we are three weeks before the event, you are pursuing your team, you’re gonna research all the amazing people that are doing social that are saying they’re gonna be at this event that you heard from friends and trust, you’re gonna be at this event, and you are going to begin to curate and invite people and basically create a safe space 1015 20 People 30 People Max, very intimate space, you’re going to do some cool thing. In this case, it was a bar crawl another case can be something else. And it’s going to be the point is curated. It’s going to be really intimate, and you’re going to pull all the friction out of that room or that space before anyone actually attends. So what does that mean? You’re going to ask three questions, let’s say Question one, basically is like, what are you working on right now? Okay, question two biggest weakness you have in your company and yourself. biggest strength, you can always offer to someone else, that you are just the expert, you’re gonna ask them to write one sentence in each of those things, you’re gonna create a digest in four days before the event, you’re going to start sending out that information to everybody you’re going to meet one day before, you’re going to say, Hey, everybody, this is the same digest, here’s the CV of the people, by the way, that of everybody that’s attending matched with all that stuff. And then you’re going to have that event. If it’s a sit down event, maybe you’ll do your own little spin on it. You know, you put people sitting next to each other for a reason based on things you know about them. You say the seating is methodical, but you don’t tell them why to start conversation, you remove all the friction points. And that’s why I said earlier, we don’t just have conversations, you know, whenever possible or small talk because we’ve set the table so to speak. Yep. Right? There be the Sherlock Holmes of discourse does not mean you’re just pulling context based on conversation means you’re also being the Sherlock Holmes of your environment. Right. So if you’re a great connector, you’re not only listening to what people say to you, like, you know, the two people you’ve introduced at an event, you should also be looking around who else was in attendance? Because that sets the sense of how how great was the room you were in? Right? Was this an accidental you just met? Was this a methodical I met? If it was a methodical a convenient space? Who introduced us? What do I think of the person that did that? And you’re just adding bullets because look, whether we like it or not, the world works on a series of basic principles. You trust people and their lens every day. It’s why you choose a SAS tool because someone referred you It’s why you want to take an introduction and take a phone call. And the same thing applies here. If you go to some random event and you meet someone, they sounded interesting, they might have been great, but it was just some random thing. All right, you’re making the decision. You’re going to determine how deep Are you gonna go? If you are in the room with 10 people because you were introduced by someone that you deem to be a true you know, match the connector a highly lovable person, great, amazing person. And you know, that’s the person that introduced you, that means that they’re sort of ethos is in everyone else in the room, and you’re gonna take that investment in that person much more seriously, more likely than not. So this is how connectors Look, when they’re building out their frameworks of how they’re determining their investments of time, their investments, people, their methodologies, and, and building out a framework for their own communities,
what it’s built into our DNA as Homo sapiens, right, like that is that is how we as as our species have evolved and grown. And so I think you’re really tapping into something very primal hear that a lot of people kind of let run in the background, and don’t really understand just how much it influences them, and others around them. So I love that this book really dives into those strategies, and gives you something that you can sink your teeth into, so that you can take some of those things that are innately built into us and understand how to go about building your dream network, you know, building that, that super connector, sort of skill set that’s going to help you help more people on your career path. And ultimately be more generous with others. And in return, you’re having a more abundant lifestyle?
Yep, absolutely. Look, if you want to be someone who has incredibly fulfilling life, then care about the people that care about you. If you want to be someone who is always looking for value extraction versus value creation, I wish you the best of luck. The life is longer and can be is longer than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. Okay, yep, you don’t have to win every day. You don’t, you know, I get the rah rah mentality, go out, hustle, kill it, you know, put, there’s a difference between putting your mind behind a business and building that business. And yes, you take different sets of advertising and marketing and staffs and all this to build a company. And that’s one thing. But your relationships allow you to go from point A to C, C to F, F to M, if you’ve invested proper time, whereas everything else lets you go from a to a point one, a point to then a point 10, then B. And so you can insert you can you can really create a lot of incredible value for others and for yourself, if you’re just human, if you if you care about others, if you’re curious if you’re emotionally intelligent, and empathetic if you don’t think transactionally short term, and if you’re just an authentic human and not authentic, because that’s become the new, you know, t shirt buzzword as well, right truly authentic. You know, I mean, I’ve been getting a lot of questions as we’ve been doing the book tour, it’s my one of my favorites. What should we do differently? In the real world versus the digital world? What else would in life what other thing? Would we get a question like that? Where Yes, you should be one person here, right? One person there. No, you should be yourself and have a communication style and a thesis for living and a lens by which you live and a curiosity factor that transcends whether it’s spoken or written. And something that shows you’re truly a person at the end of the day first, and not a vanity metric, a spokesperson, a salesman, a marketing tactic, like It amazes me to this day, that even people who come off as connectors that are really networkers that lie for a living, okay will do something like this, they’ll go on stage, and they’ll talk about how amazing XYZ marketing tactic is that they’ve gotten great conversion and growth hacking and all this nonsense to win at business. And then offstage behind scenes, if you ask them the question, if you’re friends with them, you say, hey, just curious, you know, when someone does those tactics in reverse to you? Do you click Do you buy? Do you read? And they’ll be like, no, because I know it’s a tactic. It’s like, but that’s the insanity of the world we live in. We’ve become a society of let’s amplify technology and market speak, instead of amplifying our best true selves that has to change if we want to be successful relationship builders.
Well, and Scott, I think that this contribution that you’ve made to the business world was super connected is good first step in us as a community and us as a business world. Getting more in that sort of generosity mindset. So I’m really glad that you and Ryan wrote it. I am excited to finish reading it because Admittedly, I got my copy turned around. Got it yesterday, and speed, read it last night. But I know you’ve got a lot of great stories in here, just because I’ve gotten tidbits of them over the last five years. So I’m very eager to read the rest of it this weekend. I want to thank you so much for taking time to share some of your stories. And before we sign off here, I wanted to ask you, is there one mentor or guide along your journey that you’d like to just say a thank you to here while you’re on the show?
Yeah, I mean, sounds funny, because it’s, it’s the antithesis of I think the answer you want. My thank you is actually to my wife and kids. You know, I think the one thing that if you look at and I hate to go, now reverse and go all business again, but like if you look at like Adam grants book give and take there was a pyramid, right and the top of the pyramid of the bottom of the pyramid were givers. So the most successful in the least successful people were givers Now what makes the difference, right? It’s people at the bottom that were trying to give to everybody in their mother taking every waking minute of their time to try to be giving, giving, giving, giving. And then it was those at the top that knew what was important to them, built systems around giving and gave, as they felt was necessary, helpful, exponentially more valuable to people and where they actually could play a role versus trying to play a role. Being more methodical with their time and so forth. I think the reason that I have been at the top of the pyramid is because I have a sense of what’s most important in my life. And it’s not money, it’s not stuff. In fact, I sold my house, I moved back to an apartment, not because I needed to, in fact, my apartment is more expensive than my house was right? Yeah, hey, welcome to New York City. But but it’s because I knew what was important. And the life you live is most important and made by those that love you and those that you love. And for me, it was most important as a connector to have the lens of knowing what was most important to then be able to prioritize everything else. And so by having that full focus lens, and their undying support and loyalty, and that grounding and humbling that one day, you might be on a stage in front of 3000 people speaking and talking and talking, you know, doing this. And then the next day, you’re changing a diaper, you’re walking in the park with your daughter, you’re having a date night with your wife at some Sheffield diner, whatever it is. That’s what I think most people need to do. Just because you can develop this quote unquote, superpower doesn’t mean you should do every single thing in its name. And so I ask people to be methodical about your time, because there is something that is really important. If I have another minute, I’ll give you one quick final,
final, please keep it coming.
Somebody told me this story once, which I thought was one of the most meaningful and impactful anecdotes I had sort of ever heard. And that was it’s a hypothetical story. Of course, a man gets on a drink and takes a seat sits next to someone very Forrest Gump ask right. So I sit next to him. And he’s talking about the last stop his whole life he’s heard about the last stop. This is the place it’s it’s the most incredible I hear the the food is amazing. And the visuals are great. And just everything’s amazing. And that person says well, good luck. I hope you get there. Enjoy it gets off the train, person. Next person comes on the train, same story. And all this time, every stop, someone gets on, someone gets off, someone gets on, someone gets off, but that person never looks out the window, never stops talking about the last stop. Just every single time finally, you know, after going and just talking about this magical place in this thing that was supposed to be God’s gift to Earth, with everybody that he can get his ear. He listened with their ear, never looking out once the windows what was around them, gets off the train looks around, says Wow. Now what never looked out the windows and missed the whole journey. And all the beauty that that journey carried my best advice and I don’t like advice anymore. Because I do believe that, you know, advice is one of those things that everybody has. You know, it’s yours to listen but but if I had to the journey is what makes life worth living. The journey is what is exciting and beautiful. I will guarantee all of you right now. If you want a million dollars tomorrow, you’ll spend a lot of it on stupid stuff you don’t need, you’ll have some adventures that you couldn’t before. And then about a year from now, you’ll say now what it’s not about the end goal, the end goal should be ongoing. The end goal should be something that is meaningful beyond a thing, a place a money thing, it should be about living a life worth living. And I think your relationships can do that your experiences can do that the people you love can help you do that those that love you can help you do that. But if you just always think about the top the final destination you will lose in the end because you might have a big bank account but you have nothing else. So hopefully that’s some final parting wisdom for those that are listening and I just really appreciate you having me on. I hope you all enjoy the book. If you don’t buy it, there’s a lot of great content we’re gonna keep putting it out just to learn this mindset. It wasn’t about selling books for us guys it was about putting this mindset in the world because it really is something that helps you to not just make your professional life worth living but really your personal life as
well. I love I love the scout I love this got the message is awesome. Super connector is out now people can get it on Amazon. They can get it in bookstores, I’ve seen some of the social posts you and Ryan have been sharing, which is cool. Cool to see it in bookstores, we are going to give away a couple of copies today. I know it’s not about selling books for you. But we wanted to buy some books and contribute to the community. So if you’re listening or watching on Facebook Live, drop a comment. If you’re listening to this on the podcast, we’re going to do that in the show notes as well. So find the show notes on powderkeg.com, which comes out a couple of weeks after the live stream. But you’re gonna want this book sooner than later because there are great stories. Obviously, Scott is a great storyteller, his co author Ryan, Paul, good friend of mine as well. Also an amazing storyteller. I really want to get this in the hands of more people here in the powderkeg community so happy to happy to buy some copies and given them away. Scott, thanks so much. I’m eager to follow the rest of your press tour. And what comes out next brother, love your message. I love you, man. You’re doing great stuff out there.
Thank you, man. Appreciate it. And it’s all you powder. keg has good luck. Relationships first to be human. Thank you, everybody.
Thanks, guys. That’s all for today’s episode. So great to have Scott Gerber on. If you want more of his thoughts and ideas on building relationships, I highly recommend you follow him on Twitter at at Scott Gerber to get links to the resources and people mentioned in this episode, as well as more stories on entrepreneurs, leaders and professionals building high growth businesses outside of Silicon Valley. Subscribe to us on firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash iTunes. You want to subscribe because we have some great guests coming up and season two and I don’t want you to miss it. Thanks for listening to this special in between a sewed of powderkeg igniting startups