What I Learned From Chris Brogan

When we had Chris over for the Like Minds Conference in February, I had the pleasure of watching Chris operate and also spending some time with him too. I have no doubt that many cynical Brits were waiting to see if he’d walk the walk and be as social as he tells everyone to be. What I got to see was not only ‘Yes, he does!’, but also how he does this.

I haven’t shared this until now because I didn’t want to a fame monster, and I’m not writing this now for copious retweeting, but because there is one thing that he taught me above all else that has been of life changing value for me these last 4 months since February, and it will help you too. It’s changed my relationships, my business, my church and my marriage.

At the end of Saturday night at the Summit at Bovey Castle, I had been so impressed with how Chris had valued each person so highly, remembered everybody’s names, professions, details, and engaged in such valuable and meaningful discussion with so many people.

Now I’m good with connecting people, but Chris did it at a level that I’ve never seen before. People who he met once on Friday morning, he remembered the names and details of and called them by name Friday evening.

When I asked Chris how he did this, he looked at me and just said “I genuinely just love people.”

In two words, Chris Brogan taught and modeled for me this: love people.

How?

I learned from Chris to love people by valuing the person in front of you over playing on your phone. (He didn’t use his to tweet, not once, and there was kick ass wifi.)

I learned from Chris to love people by closing your laptop when someone walks in the room, and focussing my attention on them. (He did this to every person when he was working.)

I learned from Chris to love people by remembering their names and life details without fail. (He didn’t get a name wrong.)

I learned from Chris to love people by giving them your attention – all of it – no matter who is in the room. (He never excused himself from a conversation)

And finally, I learned from Chris to love people by valuing people equalling and forgetting about the power plays and games that stroke our egos. (He never ended a conversation so he could speak with someone else.)

Your Leading Thoughts

  • I’m sure you’ve learned similar things from someone in your life – who? How did they model this to you?

Archived Comments

  • Yes, Scott I love the way Chris connects with people, and it’s great that you have learnt this too. I’m connected with him on social media but see his humanity all over the web.

    In fact few weeks back I researched how does he uses Twitter and monitored him for 10 days, it was awesome.

    I learn from every one who is social and they all help me to improve. Networking with great humans is a lesson which I learnt from Ivana Sendecka.

    PS. I’ve been reading your blog, but this is my first comment, hope now conversation will be continue. And congrats for making in top 10 thought leaders.

  • Alastair

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of this Scott. I was really impressed when after talking to Chris for a little over 5 mins at lunch, he remembered my name later on that evening at the sponsors dinner and then remembered personal details of our conversation on twitter recently. I’ve always focused on this too – remembering people’s names, their partners names and interests is incredibly important – as you say, it shows you care. Chris does this on a new level and has made a big impact on my life since meeting him at Likeminds earlier this year. I really hope you’re able to get him back again :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Waqas

    Chris is a wonderful example – I’m glad you’ve gleaned from him like I did. Ivana is also a wonderful person who you can learn from, so I’m glad you have that connection!

    Thanks for the kind words as well – please do comment more and talk with me – I’m keen to get your feedback on things!

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Al

    Totally agree – he was amazing, and the secret was that he genuinely loved people and valued the person in front of him. Puts a lot of people to shame who claim to love people!

    Chris is keen to come back in October, but nothing confirmed yet.

    Scott

  • I think your experience and that of many others is that your online and offline persona cannot be separate entities. The online piece will be that much easier if you are good at the face to face piece.

    The one thing I picked from Trust Agents and from your post, is that its all this behaviour is common courtesy. I feel we have lost this somehow, as there is always more important tweets, texts or emails (The reality is that none of these are important, which is why they are tweets, texts and emails) to be getting on with. I admit I am guilty of much of the above (but I’m getting better). Perhaps, you are only as important as the person you are talking to.

    The name recall is something I have always struggled with, despite the whole repeating the name mantra (I probably try to hard to remember it). However, I am pretty good at remembering facts, stories and so forth about an individual. What gives?

  • Hello Scott, I’m finally back :)
    and it’s so interesting to see how relevant is this article for me today. Just been at Lift France and experienced first hand the interruption of Iphones, Ipads and laptops in too many occasions. I was actually a bit disappointed at how some people, in my opinion, use them too much, in a conference that it’s a brilliant opportunity to meet *face-to-face* like-minded people.
    I think it’s becoming quite a debate to what extent should we allow the use of these devices and the provision of free wifi in events. What do you think?
    Best regards,

    Rosa

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Graeme

    “Common courtesy” – totally. And the problem is that somewhere along the line, we lost common courtesy because we got addicted to connection.

    With remembering names – keep trying. I tag a name to a trait, and then make an effort to later talk to that person. The second experience cements things in my mind more. A third experience means I have them set for life.

  • / Scott Gould

    Soooo good to have you back :-)

    Glad Lift was good – I would love to go one day myself!

    I think what you’re saying about phones, etc, links to what Graeme says below – it is a lack of common courtesy and an addiction to digital.

    I am happy for people to use notebooks to take notes, but other than that, I really dislike phones being used. This is why we stopped using Twitterwall, because it says that people who CANT be there are more valuable than people who can! Or it says that we should tweet nasty things, rather than being honest and accountable.

    We make wi-fi freely available because, hey, its crucifixion for you if you don’t. But I also try to facilitate so much engagement face-to-face that people don’t feel the need to go to the phone.

    Otherwise, how was Lift? Will you do a write up?

    Scott

  • Thanks for tip. It always amuses me that people get angry when you don’t respond to email, but are otherwise happy (or at least don’t complain) when you continue as you were when they approach you.

  • Yes it does link with Graeme’s comment (haven’t read it before) but I think it has a lot to do with addiction, as you point out. Otherwise, why would you be checking pictures on Facebook in the middle of a conference where you have paid 600€ to attend, plus accommodation, etc.? And in the case of Lift, it’s not that is an event you’re attending because your company forces you to do so, Lifters are genuinely interested in the topics.

    About having free wifi, it’s exactly what the people from Fing (co-organizers of Lift France) told me, you gotta have it if you are aiming at this audience. But personally, this facilitation for face-to-face conversations is what I felt was a bit lacking in Lift, although it’s not all the organizers’ fault…
    I’m currently writing a post about it for my blog, will tweet it when it’s done :)

    ps. I’d reccommend you to attend Lift in Geneve rather than the one in France

  • / Scott Gould

    LOL – Good point!

  • / Scott Gould

    I think that if we can create an engaging enough event, then there should be no problem contending for people’s attention without their phones.

    Let me know when the blog post is up – I’m right there!

  • Great reminder for beyond business also Scott (friends, spouse, etc). In a gift economy, there is no easier or greater gift than to give someone your complete attention. The only way it is a truly a gift (and not a ‘technique’) is when it is done out of love, or a love of people in general as Chris puts it.

    Gadgets are only the most recent excuse for this behavior. It has always been a part of any social gathering… looking over someones shoulder to see who else has entered the room that I should be talking to, watch checking, etc. We always ‘felt’ like we did not have their attention but now it is more obvious with the gadget. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Scott

    Thanks for stopping by – also appreciate your insights.

    How have you found you’ve been able to put the gadgets down and focus on people more?

    Scott

  • Yes and no. I like to think I do but many times I have to remind myself in that situation to give my complete attention and put the gadget down. I wonder if Chris comes by it naturally or if he has moments when he has to remind himself to be present to the person in front of him? Your observation tells me it is a part of who he is or at least who he has become. Either way, it is a human skill (‘love’ being the greatest) that can be improved upon so I will continue to work on it :)

  • / Scott Gould

    Chris told me that him and Julien (his co-author on Trust Agents) play these little games and make a point of becoming more and more people focussed. It works – I’m doing it with my wife.

    It’s something you become.

  • http://treypennington.com treypennington

    Amen. The greatest gift is attention. Love it.

  • Excellent post, Scott. I’m okay with all the other stuff, but remembering people’s names has been a massive struggle for me. It’s not for lack of wanting to do so. There’s just some disconnect in my brain. If I can see someone’s name printed out several times before I meet them in person, I’ll never forget it, but if I meet them first…odds are I’ll never forget their face…or remember their name. Anybody got better tips than what’s normally given? I’ve tried them all and still the only thing that works is seeing their name ahead of time in print. That’s not normally what happens, though.

  • / Scott Gould

    Amen :-)

  • / Scott Gould

    Cindy – that’s a tough one. If Chris was reading I’d ask him for his opinion!

    This is about your memory type, correct?

  • Mine is Compact Flash FAT32, I need an upgrade

  • Check out Derren Brown’s book tricks of the mind, there are some good tips on how to improve your recall and specifically how to recall peoples names by facial recognition.

  • / Scott Gould

    ba-dum!

  • / Scott Gould

    Will do Jon

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    Of course I’m reading. Here’s all I know about how I do it.

    * I look directly into your eyes when getting your name… AND/OR
    *** if I’m meeting you in person for the first time, but know you from the web, I double-up on my memory of you by looking into your eyes and saying your name as I greet you.

    * I I repeat your name a few times, and make sure that others around me have met you. This lets me repeat your name.

    * I store the moment as best as I can by not allowing my head to be distracted with other details. I try to shut out all the “what next” bits.

  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan

    I don’t come by it naturally. In fact, I focus on it actively before attending events. I used to be VERY bad at it. I’ve come to decide that you matter more than me, at least for the whole time I’m in your presence.

  • I’d say this is a fair comment. I used to study Social Dynamics for some time, and even ran a community teaching geeks how to be more social. There are some amazing things you can do to help remember someones name.

    One of the best techniques I ever found for remembering something is close deletions. So to remember that term I’d write “To remember things I use […] deletions”

    Then set that as a reminder for 3 days time. Just as you’re about to forget, something like that hitting your subconscious buries it in. Our brains are ‘use it or lose it’ lumps of elastic learning capability.

    I endeavour to be better at building value relationships with people. I grew up an only child with video games consoles for friends. It took some doing to learn how to be more giving… but the person who gives receives the most. So long as you are wise enough to only give to those who will appreciate it. (The easiest way to find out if they will? Try giving and see what their reaction is)

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Chris for this – much appreciated :-)

    And thank you for sharing some of these things with me back in February. Like I said above, it’s really, really helped me in so many ways.

    Scott

  • / Scott Gould

    “you matter more than me, at least for the whole time I’m in your presence”

    Chris, it pains me to say that most ministers who tell us to practice “love your neighbour” don’t nearly do this as well as you do.

  • / Scott Gould

    Sy

    This is very good. Thank you!!!

    Scott

  • This has reminded me of what is easy to do, but I don’t do nearly enough. I’ve also valued Chris Brogan’s how-tos. This underlined for me that intent and goodwill is not enough; it comes down to cultivating a behavioural habit. Then it becomes part of you.

    As I get older, my hearing is not what I would like it to be especially in noisy rooms with lots of hard surfaces. I find it takes a certain amount of guts when being introduced to younger people to get them to repeat their names or something they have just said, and now, although I am by no means ‘hard of hearing’, I have learned to be upfront about it and tell them why I have asked them to repeat themselves. At first I hated doing this.

    There is something else I would like to share, which relates to entering meetings or workshops where there is a group of ten or a dozen people. When I do this, people often comment on my ability to relate to people in the room. But I know it is not an innate ability. If I do this, it works. If I just rely on my memory, it doesn’t. It is as simple as that.

    The technique is a variation of what Chris has described. I take a sheet of paper and draw a simple map of where everyone is sitting. As they introduce themselves, I pay attention and write their name in the right place on the plan, and then one or two words of what they have said. Like Chris, I look at the people when they are talking, and just focus on the content instead of making judgements about it.

    Once I have my map, during the early part of the meeting, I let my eyes go round the room, saying the names of the people in my head as I look at them. In the first half an hour, I make sure I do this a few times. Then, I play a little game and look at people at random, to see if I can say their name in my head.

    Now, you might think I am not paying attention to the meeting. Well, I’m not focusing on what I had for breakfast, or that letter that came in the post, or the awful time I had in the tube getting here – which is probably what half the people in the room _are_ doing. Neither am I focusing on what I want to say.

    The result is that when I do speak, I can remember who has said what and relate my contribution to theirs so they feel included. I come across as a much better person than I really am (I’m just as self-obsessed as the next person.)

    It really is a question of habit and discipline. If you keep doing it, it becomes a natural part of who you are, but if you don’t do it, the vagaries of short-term memory come into play and you go right back to square one. It’s about doing it every day.

  • / Scott Gould

    Malcolm – thank you so much for this deep, engaging comment.

    I do pretty much the same if I’m in a seated event – I draw where people are and play the game with myself as to getting their names right.

    I think I’ll use this comment to form a blog post for this month! This is gold Malcolm, thank you so much!

    Scott

  • Even after this short time, I know that it’s always a pleasure to talk with you Scott.

  • / Scott Gould

    Thanks Malcolm :-)

  • Scott, it’s interesting why you say you don’t show the virtual audience anymore. We recently did an event for Meers Advertising http://www.twitterface.com/meersadv and Sam Meers said afterward he loved having the tweets and chat (which was under the video when page was live) as it gave an added dimension to what was happening in the room and made the experience seem “richer.” I found his observation interesting, as yours is here. His was a panel discussion with a smaller audience both online and in the room, so not a major conference that would draw some of the backbiting commentary we’ve seen before… I would guess the quality of conversations and maturity of the virtual audience would make a big difference.

    This is a GREAT post by the way. I am waaaaaaaay too guilty of “playing on my phone” (with those people, when other people are there in person) and also of “thinking of the next bits” as Chris talks about, while doing almost anything. It’s hard with so much weighing on your mind to get to it as you get to it and be fully present in the moment of activity I’m in, for me. I need to work on this.

  • / Scott Gould

    Hey Kristi

    First of all, thanks for the comments – I so value your insights and input, so really appreciate you taking a moment to share them here :-)

    1. Virtual Participation – I’m stuck between the ideal and the reality on this. The ideal is that we can have hybrid engagement, and that those virtually attending can really get into participating with those physical present and vice versas. There is maturity, facilitation, a respect and attention paid to both physical and virtual participants. The reality is, however, that we currently aren’t even achieving the kind of physical participation I want to see.

    My solution is readdressing how we actually run our events, in order to create more physical and virtual participation. I think currently, trying to attach participation to “keynote, panel” is not thinking through what we know about active engagement as being vital in learning.

    2. Thanks for the kind words on the post – I really did learn some valuable stuff from Chris, and I’m thrilled that we can discuss it here *and* get Chris’ own comments on how we does it. I like what you say re “thinking of the next bits”. This is about, I believe, having a strong NO (/developing-a-strong-no/)

    3. Your two thoughts overlap. Is not our current need for digital participation drawn from our desire to be connected and always thinking about those who aren’t in front of us? Do we need to begin rethinking our priorities?

    Scott

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