likable

winking blue smiley surrounded by yellow smileys

This week, a totally cool and unexpected thing happened.

It’s kind of a big deal.

I’ve been overwhelmed not only by this development itself, but by the outpouring of shared excitement from family, friends, readers, other authors – even people I didn’t previously know existed – all joining in the celebration with me:

Karen May VP of Google endorses The Best Advice So Far

Some of you may have noticed that today’s post is a bit late in the coming. Typically, I hit “Publish” at or shortly after midnight on Fridays; yet here I am, I’m still writing this one well after noon time. That’s largely because I wasn’t sure how to write about it – or even whether to write about it at all.  While it pertains to my book and blog, for sure, the fact that I got an amazing endorsement didn’t quite seem to fit in with the themes of The Best Advice So Far. Part of me felt like devoting a post to it was … I don’t know … exploitative? But I think that’s just a “me” thing. The purpose of an endorsement is, after all, to share it.

Many of my fellow celebrants have asked essentially the same question in different ways: “Geesh, how’d you get someone in her position to like you so much?” I considered being cheeky and writing some uncharacteristic click-bait title like “How I Got a VP at Google to Endorse Me”; but while I do think this would have been funny (at least to me), it still didn’t feel quite right in the end.

What eventually settled with me – what felt consistent with what this blog and the book are all about – was the simple title you see above: “likable.”

For those of you who know was SEO is, you may have noticed that I changed my URL title to “how-to-get-people-to-like-you.” (And for those of you who don’t know what SEO or URL means, here’s your version: I picked a second title that has words people are more likely to look up on Google and other search engines.)

I guess that means I kind of went halfway on the click-bait title thingy. So I might as well take it further into infomercial land and pair it with an amazing and outrageous claim:

I am about to tell you the secret formula
for how to get people to like you –
including the rich and famous!

Are you ready? Have you got your notepad out? Prepare to be amazed, because here it comes

The secret formula for how to get people to like you is this:

  1. Take chances.
  2. Be kind and genuine.
  3. Focus on what is important to others, not just to yourself.
  4. Treat people as people and not as props, roles, obstacles or background noise.

Treat people as people and not as props, roles, obstacles or background noise.

There you have it, folks: how to get people to like you … in FOUR EASY STEPS! (Please email me for my mailing address, so you can send your large checks in payment for that life-altering revelation.)

No, but really – that’s exactly how I wound up with Karen’s endorsement. I’m not lying.

And that is how I connected with the former CEO of Borders, who remembered me and just sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

That’s how I was able to obtain the book review on the back of The Best Advice So Far from a New York Times Best-Selling author.

That’s how I met Eric by the dumpster after midnight. And impossibly inked-up Nathaniel at the gym. And Stephan on vacation in Florida. And countless other really cool people along the way.

And it is how I became lifelong friends with Bud and Dib, and Holly and Richard and all of “our gang.”

It is likely even how I met you.

Let me tell you how this worked in the case of the endorsement from Karen at Google.

About two years ago, I was reading an article that included an interview with Karen. As I read Karen’s responses to the interview questions, I was very aware of the real person saying those things – about treating people as people and not as problems. I felt she and I were on the same page. I was inspired and excited. And I thought, I’m so inspired that I’d love to encourage her, as well. Sure, she’s a VP at Google and I have no idea how to contact her; but she is every bit as real a person as I am, just with a different job. And why should she be denied appreciation and encouragement because of that position? (I mean, think about it – who else is encouraging the people at the top? Aren’t most people expecting them to dole out all of the support and praise, assuming that people of a certain position or status always have it totally together and are perfectly fine without our input?)

So I jumped online, looked up the basic email format for Google corporate emails, took a guess at what Karen’s would look like and sent her an email.  In it, I told her exactly what I just told you above – that I appreciated her honesty and approach to people, that I was inspired, and that I just wanted to let her know this. I also shared a couple chapters from my yet-unpublished book, each of which contained an unusual story from my own experiences treating people as people and not problems. I wasn’t plugging a book; I didn’t even have a book yet to plug. I just thought, We are two like-minded people, and I think she’ll personally enjoy these stories.

To my surprise, Karen got back to me. She appreciated my personal email and admitted that, yes, many times people forget she is just a real person like them, and instead treat her as merely a role. And while she normally didn’t open attachments, she did this time. She “opened to skim, but kept right on reading.” And she felt both encouraged and inspired by those stories, as I had been by her interview. Hooray! I thought, mission accomplished!

Two years later here, just before the book was due out in print, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to include reviews from “people of note.” Here again, it just didn’t feel consistent with the nature of the book, which is about real people like you and me.  But a friend convinced me to include one on the book cover. “As you always say,” Chad reflected back to me, “just because someone has a certain position or title doesn’t mean they aren’t real people, too. And if they truly had a meaningful and positive encounter with your book, why would you refuse to let them say so?”

That made sense to me.

So I contacted Karen again (among a few others). I told her that I only wanted to include reviews from people who had really read the book and who had shared unsolicited positive and personal reactions to it. With that in mind, I asked her if she’d mind if I quoted her from our emails years earlier.

It wasn’t until this past week that I heard back from her, apologizing (needlessly) for the delay, but saying that she had wanted to read the entire book before offering her endorsement. She has to be very careful in her position, and understandably so. It just took longer to carve out the time to read it than she’d expected. But now that she had, she said she was thrilled to offer her backing and endorsement, for use however I’d like.

There was no schmoozing. No wheedling.  No money changing hands.  Just two people connecting, being real with one another, and choosing to help someone do what they do better (Karen’s endorsement certainly helps me greatly, and, in return, she said the book inspired new thoughts for her in approaching people).

So that’s the “secret sauce” for how to get people to like you: rich or poor, famous or unknown, young or old.  Here it is one more time:

  1. Take chances.
  2. Be kind and genuine.
  3. Focus on what is important to others, not just to yourself.
  4. Treat people as people and not as props, roles, obstacles or background noise.

I’ll end by saying that motive is paramount. “Being nice” and “focusing on others” merely in hopes that you’ll eventually be able to “leverage the connection” … is really just whitewashed manipulation. And sometimes, that even works. But I’ve found that just being authentic, taking positive social risks and treating people as real people like yourself is where the true fun and magic lie.

And a BIG shout-out to you, Karen, for your kindness, generosity, genuineness and support!

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About Erik

Erik is an author, speaker, blogger, facilitator, people lover, creative force, conversationalist, problem solver, chance-taker, noticer and lover of life. He lives in the Boston area. "It's more about writing lives than writing pages." View all posts by Erik

22 responses to “likable

  • sparkle | The Best Advice So Far

    […] received unbelievably good news last week. I’m gaining steady ground with the book. And I have people in my life who love me just […]

    Like

  • Jed Jurchenko

    Congrats again Erik! It’s a very much deserved endorsement. You are someone who lives what he teaches. Your friendliness and likability is how we connected too. And thank you for sharing this. It’s fun hearing about how this endorsement came about.

    I love your four easy points too. Although, in some ways, it may feel oversimplified, I believe too many people have a knack for taking simple truths and complicating them. I enjoy this simple, and straightforward approach. And each point is very true!

    P.S. If you really want to get into the click-bait stuff, I suggest you add the following headline to your next post, “You’ll never believe what happens when a circus-clown meets this family of lion cubs.” Now that is good click-bait 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      You’re pretty friendly and likable yourself, Jed. So it all worked out. And, yes, I’ve found that the simple truths are the only ones that are worth thinking about and putting into action, more so as I get older.

      Your “P.S.” was reminiscent of some of my favorite Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy (for those who remember that bizarre stretch of SNL from yesteryear).

      Liked by 1 person

  • Kev

    Excellent post, Erik… I especially enjoyed reading how you got Karen to like you. Love the tips.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      It’s funny, Kev. I really didn’t set out with the intent that she would like me at all; I can honestly say I wanted her to feel “liked” and valued as a person. It just so happens that, when you do that, most people will respond in kind. Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your thoughts. Happy to have you aboard!

      Liked by 1 person

  • D. Wallace Peach

    Official congratulations, Erik. What a great endorsement and so well-deserved. And, as usual, excellent advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Benjamin Spurlock

    Okay, Erik, my check’s in the mail. 😉

    More seriously, congratulations on the good review, but honestly, it does my heart a lot of good to have a concrete example of treating people like people, instead of traffic stats or potential transactions, working out really well.

    Your four points hit that level of ‘simple yet profound’ that really does make them- oddly- a bit of a secret. I’ll keep ’em in mind, and again, congratulations and thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      Hey, Benjamin! Welcome to the blog. That was an exceptionally cool reflection; I just shared it with Chad (mentioned in the post) on the phone. It was especially encouraging, so this thing just goes round in circles.

      Off to see what you’re up to in the blogosphere …

      Liked by 1 person

  • Chad

    Such a wonderful truth. Had an interaction today that made me desire someone to just really hear me and see me as me. It sounds like you did that, Erik. Thanks for link endorsements too ;-P Paying it forward 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erik

      Any time you need someone to “hear you and see you as you,” you know you can give a ring. And I don’t know if it’s so much Paying it Forward as Paying it Backward … or Sideways … or something like that.

      Like

  • Sean P Carlin

    Erik,

    As the old saying goes, it ain’t braggin’ if you’ve actually done it! This is a story well worth sharing on your blog, as demonstrated by your four-point pandect above — you always offer a takeaway lesson from your dissertations, and, more importantly, a practical means by which to apply it.

    Great work — and many congratulations to you!

    Sean

    Liked by 2 people

    • Erik

      I once had a kid who was trying to figure out what his faith was tell me that God was conceited, because he keeps saying he’s the best, and that means God is sinning. I said the same thing to him. Funny.

      And thank YOU for the word “pandect”! I don’t have to look things up too often, and I love when I’m challenged to have to do so.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Benjamin Spurlock

      Sean, I just have to interject to say that I’m going to have to swipe ‘pandect’ for a New Word Wednesday one of these days. Like Erik, it’s not often that I have to break out a dictionary, and that’s one that I can get some use out of. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Erik

        A banner day! This is the first time in four years that a reader has interacted with another reader by commenting on a comment other than mine. Small but monumental milestone …

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sean P Carlin

        Ben,

        Whenever my wife and I are out with friends, she always makes sure to plug my blog (my number-one fan!), but she is quick to stipulate with a dramatic flare of her eyes: “Have a dictionary handy.” She often pokes fun at me by saying I’d rather find one perfect word that expresses exactly what I want to convey than say the same essential thing with several more basic words — that I effectively cram entire sentences into single words whenever possible!

        “Isn’t that sort of brevity a good thing?” I ask.

        “Not if no one knows what the word means!” she says. (“And, please,” she adds, “stop using ‘mythos.’ No one uses that word in conversation — no one.” Haha!)

        She’s probably right, but: What can I say? I love words. I think it’s part of the reason I’m a thousand times happier as a novelist than I ever was as a screenwriter: Words are just a means to an end (filmed images) in the latter, whereas in the former they are integral to the joy of the experience. Some words, like “pandect,” deserve to be dusted off once in a while, else what good are they? They’re just taking up space in the dictionary otherwise…

        Sean

        Liked by 1 person

        • Erik

          I think it comes down to voice and intent. Non-writers (in the professional sense) don’t often stop to consider that the way we speak and the way we write differ. I haven’t yet had the chance to hear how you converse verbally, Sean; but I, for one, appreciate the voice you achieve through your word choice on your blog and in your written persona elsewhere (though I have to say, the kids I mentor often stare and laugh when I say some things to them in person; then, after a short pause, they add, “What? I have no idea what you just said!” and burst out laughing. And this from a guy who really does try to be mindful of my audience at all times! I really don’t try to sound pedantic; whatever I’ve said sounded quite normal when it came out. So I feel your pain, Sean.

          [BTW, readers, I went back into Sean’s last comment and added the hyperlink to his site; he’s too modest to have done it … but I’m not, and I’m a big fan of his blog. Check it out.]

          Liked by 1 person

          • Sean P Carlin

            Thanks so much for that hyperlink, my man — I appreciate it!

            I’ve been told my conversational style is pretty damn similar to my written communication, and my sixteen-year-old niece isn’t afraid to (routinely) respond to some heartfelt piece of wisdom of mine by flatly saying, “I have no idea what any of those words mean.” And she never asks me to clarify — I think she’s simply grateful I’ve stopped speaking!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Erik

            Totally get it! 😀

            Liked by 1 person

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