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stephen-sondheimWhen I was in college, I got on a 5:00 a.m. train to D.C.
for a graduate school interview.  I boarded in Hartford,
— without make-up, in baggy jeans, and
slept til New York.

When I woke up, a very witty guy was sitting next to me.
We teased and bantered back and forth for hours.
He looked like an East-Coast nerd, with rat-killer shoes
and a purple shirt.  Typical Philly type, I thought.

Until he had to get off the train.  He leaned over and said,
“It has been a pleasure.  I’m Stephen Sondheim.”

I was speechless from that point on.  All I could think of was,
“My mother liked A Little Night Music.”

We sat for a bit in silence.  He said, “You seem quiet.”

I could not open my mouth.  Here was the most famous
lyricist in the world and if I opened my mouth I would make a
remark about my Mother.

He got off the train and I never saw him again.
I felt like an idiot.

This article series is dedicated to all of you who meet
famous people and lose your cool.

It doesn’t have to be that way.


Here are 3 more highly useful tools to create instant
engagement.  Some people do this naturally, but
if you’re not a natural, you can become one.

Even if you’re an introverted wallflower.

1.   SEE, HEAR or FEEL

When you talk to someone new, use their language patterns.
We all fall into 3 categories:

  • I see what you mean.  (Seeing)
  • That feels right, I get it.  (Feeling)
  • I hear you.  (Hearing)

Which one are you?

Adopt the language pattern of the person you are talking to, so there is no disconnect between you.  You will create a deeper bond with them very quickly.  And knowing how to create a connection with someone, will suddenly seem intuitive.



Look like you know what you are doing.  Duh, right?  This may sound idiotically simple, but we tend to get nervous around highly successful people, and/or people who have more money.

No one wants to do business with someone who looks nervous, so control your body language.  93% of your message is non-verbal.

So how do you stop feeling nervous?

Duck into the bathroom and assume a super-hero pose – feet apart, hands on hips, head high.  Stay in this pose for 60 seconds, breathing deeply as if you own the world.

Sound nuts?  The super-hero pose actually releases testosterone into your system, and sends radically different signals to the people you meet.



Your hook is what allows you to create a bond you can follow up on.  It’s always there.  Watch out for it.

Here’s how:  find something in common that’s context-dependent.

What does this mean in plain English?

1)   Find something you can comment on – a bracelet, their dog, passive income, etc.

If you’re not good at this, practice.  Walk up to friends and strangers and find something you can comment on ALL THE TIME:

“Your dog – that’s a really nice collar, where’d you get it?”
“You have an unusual bracelet.  Is it hand-made?”

Do not frame it as a yes/no question.  Open the conversation with an observation.   Then you already have your follow-up question.

This is a master skill to build rapport, so practice until it’s second nature.

It’s also fun, and very useful if you’re an introvert.

2)    When you’re talking to a V.I.P., listen for something that has meaning for them:  their favorite cause, an upcoming vacation, free time, passive income, a new venture, fly-fishing.  This is a good hook on which you can build relationship.

Wait a bit and then ask them to tell you about what they are passionate about, how they got started, and what they hope to do.

3)    See if you can find something that you two have in common, that’s different from everyone else.

“You like terriers too?”
“I love Heffer International.  I’ve bought a lot of goats and bees in the
last 5 years.”

These simple techniques allow you to talk to anyone, anywhere, and will always show you how to create a connection with someone.   You can say good bye to the mush-mouth, nervous-grin type of encounters where you walk away and think, “Shoot!  I blew it!”

And none of them are fake.  They are all intended to quickly and easily build a deeper bond with someone you have just met, and give you a wonderful way to follow up later on.

Stay Tuned!  I’m saving the best for last.

In my next post, I’ll introduce you to Derren Brown, who is a world-class mind control expert.

If you’re as fascinated by the mind as I am, I’ll show you clips of Derren and you can watch exactly how he does it.


  1. Cheryl Antier says:

    Hey Ann,

    Loved the story about Stephen Sondheim and these tips… And I can’t wait to try the superhero pose – just for the fun of it! As always, you give such gret information that I can take and put into use right away.



  2. Hi Cheryl- so nice to hear from you. How is it over there in the South of France? Wait until you try the superhero technique. It actually works, after you stop laughing. It’s amazing, and I use it often. Let me know how it works for you.

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