Episode 58 | Listen Up: How to Build Rapport

An expert UX researcher explains the art of listening on the Keep Connected podcast. Learn how to stay engaged and ask the right questions to build trust in conversations.

Episode 58 Listen Up: How to Build Rapport

Ximena Vengoechea listens for a living, as an expert in UX Research for Pinterest, and previously for Twitter and LinkedIn. She is also the author of Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection. Her book is a practical and immediately-applicable guide to empathy and understanding of your fellow humans through conversation. Ximena and David sit down to discuss the United States’s cultural hangups with listening as purely a means to an end, and how to transform this dynamic with just a little bit of effort and curiosity. Their conversation touches on tips for staying engaged with a topic that’s not your strong suit, the subtle mastery of interruption in group settings, avoiding questions that begin with Do or Is, and more.

Ranked as one of the top 25 CEO podcasts on Feedspot, Keep Connected with Meetup CEO David Siegel is a podcast about the power of community. For more details on other episodes, visit Keep Connected on the Meetup Community Matters blog.
We hope you’ll keep connected with us. Drop us a line at podcast@meetup.com. If you like the podcast, be sure to subscribe and leave us a rating on Apple Podcasts.


Show Notes

Welcome to the show. In this episode, we are talking to Ximena Vengoechea. We all know how important listening is. Many of us want to get better at it. Ximena has written the book Listen Like You Mean It with so many practical tips on listening. I hope that you could take 1, 2, or 3 practical tips from this conversation.

Welcome, Ximena, to the show.

I’m so excited to be here.

As you can tell, I’m a talker. I’m a bit impatient. I cut people off. I’m not proud of it, but at the very least, I’m aware of it. You would think that awareness would translate into becoming better at it, but I need help. Can you help me?

I can. I should also say that I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. I want to dispel this idea that you have to be naturally gifted in listening to be a good listener. There are actions we can take. We can do this.

Ximena is the author of Listen Like You Mean It. She’s a user research expert, has worked at Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and is an amazing person as well. I’m looking forward to learning from you. I’m looking forward to listening from you. Talk about yourself a little bit. Talk about your listening past. Let’s hear it.

As a listener, there are some things that I probably naturally did well, and then some things that I had to learn along the way. For context, because I do think this informs so much of the kind of listener we become, I’m one of four girls. There were four of us growing up, competing for my parent’s attention. The part of me that is comfortable with interrupting and with, “What do I have to do to get my parents’ attention?” Those are probably the skills that don’t necessarily naturally line up with being a deep listener.

On the other hand, something that I noticed also growing up was that I was a big observer. I was interested in people and their stories. I remember in middle school, I got this reputation for being someone who knew all the gossip. I wasn’t necessarily spreading it but was a person who could receive it. Even at a young age, there was something in my listening where I became a space for people to share. That part was because I was deeply curious about people. I was interested in their feelings, emotions, and what was happening. It was a combination of those two things.

Eventually, I realized that these are at odds. This desire to be center stage and interrupt and also this desire to deeply know someone and understand them. The rest of my listening path has been figuring out how to tamp down the qualities that are maybe my gut reaction and not as productive for listening, and then trying to dial up those other aspects that help me connect with someone.

I like the way you described it as listening is the path toward connecting. It seems like you see it as that critical ingredient. When you were that middle schooler and for some reason, people unburdened their challenges, whatever the challenges are for middle school kids, which are probably different back then than they are now, you knew that that was important. They connected with you. We all know listening is important. It’s a cliché. We know that, but why is it even more important than we realize? Help us to understand that a little better.

Even in the context of thinking about why listening is important, first of all, most people don’t think about it. Culturally speaking, especially in America, there is the sense that when it comes to communication, what is most important is getting our message across. This is why we have so many public speaking classes. There are Toastmasters. There are all these workshops you can take on how to influence other people, how to persuade them, or how to negotiate. This is all about getting our message across and getting what we want out of an interaction.

That’s where we tend to focus as opposed to thinking about this other piece of the puzzle, which is, “How do I deeply understand the other person? How do I get to know their experience?” That is ultimately what allows us to connect with someone else. It’s too easy to think about listening if we think about it all as a transaction. It’s like, “I’m going to listen to my boss because I need to keep my job. I’m going to listen to my partner because I live with them. I have to do that. That’s part of my job in being their partner.”

It’s like a means to an end.

Exactly. It can feel like an obligation or a chore when if done well, it can be an opportunity for us to understand this person, what motivates them, and what their needs are. It’s like, “Why exactly is my manager so interested in this aspect of my work? Why does my partner always read the newspaper headlines? I’m not reading that paper with them. Why are they doing that?”

It’s thinking about, “What could this mean? Maybe it’s a bid for connection. Maybe this is a way for them to connect with me even on a small level.” Starting to get curious about how we communicate and what someone is trying to communicate is a step toward understanding them as a person, as an individual, and all the way down to the level of emotions. That’s where that human-to-human connection occurs.

Getting curious when communicating is a step forward to understanding another person and building a strong human-to-human connection.

Curiosity sounds like the linchpin for you for effective listening. Listening is the key to connecting. Therefore, curiosity leads toward connecting. There are curious people in the world. You are clearly one of them. There are people who are less curious. Is curiosity something that everyone has? Is it something that everyone should have? Is it so important for listening and is it also a prerequisite to some extent for it? How important is curiosity, and can one try to build curiosity?

Curiosity is very important in terms of building that connection and understanding a person. There are people who are more naturally inquisitive than others for whom it’s a stronger personality trait, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be learned. Similarly, there are people who are more extroverted and more comfortable giving a talk in front of a room, but even introverts can learn that. There are natural traits, but there are also traits that you can learn.

There has been research that was done on curiosity and connection. There’s a researcher, Todd Kashdan. He looks at curiosity. One of the things that he discovered is that there’s this assumption when we’re meeting people at a networking event or we’re building a new friendship or a partnership.

In those early stages of a relationship, there’s this assumption that as an individual, we need to do a good job of telling a great story, pulling people in, being funny, and being charming. We’re creating this magnetic pole in order to create a connection. Building rapport quickly comes down to being curious about the other person. It’s less about, “I need to be interesting,” and it’s more about, “I need to be interested in the other person.” Having that as an intention going into conversations is useful.

There are things that you can do very tactically to practice this. Even if it’s an atrophied muscle, you can build it and strengthen it. Some of that comes down to asking good questions. If you have a kid, a partner, or anybody who has tried on a regular basis say, “How was your day?” and gotten that one-word response where they say, “Fine. It was okay,” but you learn nothing else, then you know that not all questions are effective. Some questions are naturally going to lead us to dead ends unless that person happens to be in a great mood or wants to unload and get something off their chest.

We want to think about asking questions that are more open-ended. You want to avoid questions that are naturally going to end in single-word responses or yes or no responses, and ask things that are much more open-ended. Instead of saying, “Did you have a good day?” you can say, “Tell me what happened today. What happened at the office?” or whatever it may be. You want to think about questions that start with what and how as opposed to questions that start with do, is, or are.

Any parent of teenage kids can benefit from that in trying to get their kids to talk a little more than the one-word answers. These are great tips. Can you try to talk about the American culture a bit and how we skew not in the right place from a listening perspective? Is there a culture that you found or that research has found that gets listening right or better than others?

What I would say generally is that probably the biggest difference is between more individualistic versus collective-minded cultures. The US is very individualistic in nature. It’s all about me and what I can do, “Dream big. You can make it happen.” It’s all about hard work, hustle, and all of that. It’s what’s good for me is good for me as opposed to what’s good for me is good for the community or what’s good for the community is good for me. You see this in many ways across cultures. In certain parts of Europe, they have way better childcare support.

KCM 58 | Building Rapport
Building Rapport: The US culture is individualistic in nature. Everyone is focused on what’s good for themselves as opposed to what’s good for the community.


I was thinking of the Scandinavian culture that they’re much better listeners. A little more socialist ethos will have a greater influence on that.

That’s right.

There is another question before we get into some additional tips because I want to get as practical as we can. One of the things I love about your book is how practical it is. It’s incredibly practical. You talked about the party situation where there’s somewhat a more charismatic person talking and telling stories, and we think that that’s the way to build friendships, etc. The important thing is to try to ask curious questions.

It made me think about a lot of people that I know who are curious people. They love asking questions and listening one-on-one, but then when it comes to a group-type setting or 3, 4, 5, or 6-people, cocktail party, dinner, etc., they clamp up. It’s a lot harder for them to be active listeners. Do you have thoughts related to one-on-one listening versus group listening that could also be helpful?

What you’re getting at is that in some ways, those are fundamentally different skills. The ability to draw some one-on-one in conversation is quite different than facilitating or moderating a group conversation. The minute you add more personalities and more bodies, everyone is going to be using that conversation for something different.

One of the core concepts in my book is the idea that with every conversation comes a need. There is a hidden need. We often think of conversations as throw away, “We’re just chatting. It’s just water cooler talk, whatever.” There’s always something a little bit deeper if we can stop, think about it, and look for it. It can be a need for information, validation, support, encouragement, or a need to be heard.

There are so many different things that it can be in a one-on-one conversation. Maybe this is what is happening with those individuals. Maybe even without articulating, they are able to intuit what that need is. They’re getting a little bit curious and they can feel that they’re getting closer. There’s a lot to work with there. Whereas in a group conversation, suddenly, you go, “That person is talking a lot. That person is not talking at all. This person’s eyes are glazing over because they are not interested in talking about the stock market, sports, or whatever the topic may be.” That’s a lot more to track and a lot more to facilitate.

KCM 58 | Building Rapport
Building Rapport: With every conversation comes a hidden need. It could be a need for information, validation, support, or encouragement.


Going back to what we were talking about very early in our conversation, it takes the willingness to potentially interrupt. This is where interruption that is gracefully done can be useful. You can say, “That’s so interesting. What do you think about this?” and then point to another person or the person who is being quiet as a way of including them. The role of the listener becomes much more than getting to know someone, but also making sure that everybody’s voice is heard. You become this inclusive facilitator of the conversation, and that’s pretty different.

It is a very different skillset. It takes a much higher level of confidence probably and also aggressiveness a little bit in terms of taking a conversation that is going in someplace and moving into a separate direction. It is important and a role that I tend to like to play. We were talking about tips earlier like not asking open-ended questions and no yes-no, so I’m not going to ask you a yes-no question. It would be interesting to hear more about some additional tips. I was about to say, “Can you tell us more tips?” That would’ve been a terrible question, so I can’t ask that. Hopefully, I phrased it in a better way.

One of the things I’ll say is as you’re asking these questions, I like to think of it as a funnel. Your initial questions, when you’re asking these open-ended questions, are the broadest questions that you could ask. This is giving the other person the space to take the conversation wherever they want to go. That can be useful for people who may generally clam up or who you have a little bit of a challenge getting traction with, or going on a conversational adventure. You’re letting them lead the way. That can be wonderful and surprising.

As you’re asking those questions, maybe there’s an area where you sense, “There’s a lot of passion here. There’s heat in the conversation.” There’s something they are gearing up toward or that they’re processing with you. You start to narrow in a little bit. This is when you can use more encouraging questions, which take a specific topic and you’re taking it a little step deeper. They’re very subtle. That can sound like saying, “What else?” or, “Tell me more about that.” One that I like is once a person finishes talking and you sense that maybe there’s a little bit more to be said or there’s a why behind what they’re saying that’s not being expressed. You can say, “That’s because,” and let them fill in the blank.

That is amazing.

These are ways that you’re progressively getting narrower and more specific, and guiding the person there based on where you’re saying, “There’s interest there on their end and also on my end.” You can tell when there’s interest also because you’re starting to pay attention to things like body language, voice and tone, or pacing. If someone is generally a deliberate speaker and then suddenly starts talking fast, that’s a signal. You can start to track those things and know, “I’m getting somewhere.” You then start to use these phrases to keep nudging things along.

One of my favorite signals as a talker is when I see someone taking out a pen or even their phone and start writing something down that’s being discussed. They could be writing down, “Daffy Duck is my favorite cartoon character.” I wouldn’t have any idea, but I feel so happy. I’m like, “This person cares, or has listened to what I’m saying. They’re wonderful posterity.” They might be writing their shopping list. I don’t know. I don’t care, but I feel so good. There are quite a few other things that I imagine the audience can do that you’ve mentioned which makes the other person feel heard.

As you were saying it, that’s exactly the phrase that I was thinking. This act of writing makes you feel heard. It makes you feel like someone is paying attention. They’re picking up what I’m putting down. They think it’s important enough to capture on paper, and that’s validating. Maybe for someone, it is writing things down. In your case, it might also be reflecting back on what we’ve heard. It’s not word for word.

If someone is telling you about all the challenging things that are going on in their life and are like, “This is happening with my kids. This is happening with my partner. This is happening with school,” and all of that stuff, you’re not playing back like, “It sounds like this is happening with your child. This isn’t right.” It’s not a bullet point. If you can capture the essence of their experience because you were listening and asking those questions, and then be able to reflect back and say, “It sounds like you’re having a hard time.” That can be validating for someone to feel like, “I am. Thank you for getting that.” As opposed to someone responding and saying, “It sounds like you have so much on your plate. Let me recommend to you this.”

If you capture the essence of another person’s experience by listening and asking the right questions, you can connect with them instead of playing the role of a problem-solver.

It’s the dreaded solution provider, which I exactly have tried to move away from. It’s a major problem. When you’re a leader in a company or a CEO, you’re constantly thinking about solutions. It’s very important to have a different conversational and listening capability at work than at home and with friends. At work, be the solution person. Outside of it, avoid all solutions because no one wants to hear solutions

You could ask. That’s another helpful response sometimes. It is to say, “It’s fine if you’re solutions-minded.” I call this a problem-solving mindset, and I have this too. It’s reasonable to say, “My instinct right now is to give you some suggestions,” or, “My instinct right now is to offer you my experience or whatever it is. Would that be helpful? Is that what you’re looking for?” Usually, the person can be like, “No. I am venting. I am not ready for solutions.” They can say, “That would be helpful because I feel myself spinning. I need to be grounded in reality. Thank you.”

I love that because you’re showing that you do have potential ideas that can help, but you’re not in any way shoving them down someone’s throat or making them feel like they couldn’t have thought of those ideas in the first place. That’s great to ask a question like that. That’s beautiful.

There is also staying present in conversations. You talked about body language. For me, the biggest thing is looking into someone’s eyes. You could see it. When someone’s not present, their eyes are darting. Especially if you go to some dreaded networking event or even a non-dreaded networking event, you see people’s eyes moving all over the place. When I see that, I will try to either leave the conversation because they may not be interested, which is perfectly fine, or something is wrong if I see people’s eyes darting.

Are there any other thoughts you have about staying present in conversations? In this world, especially with phones and all the distractions that we have, the ability to stay present is harder now than ever for humankind. Please, our audience can benefit from this. Any and all thoughts on staying present would be very helpful.

At a high level, what I would say about staying present is part of it does come down to setting external factors, and the other part is internal. The external piece, I think about technology. There are lots of pings and notifications. They can pull you out of the conversation. The best way of managing that is to have the device completely out of your sight.

I used to do this myself. I would get a one-on-one with somebody, and as a sign of what I thought was respect, I would turn my phone face down on the table. It’s like, “I can’t see anything. Don’t worry. I’m here with you.” As I was doing research for the book, what I learned is that even having the device in your line of sight decreases your capacity to empathize with that person. Don’t even have it on the table. Put it away. Get it out of your sight. To the extent that you can do that is going to be useful.

KCM 58 | Building Rapport
Building Rapport: Just having mobile devices in your line of sight decreases your capacity to empathize with another person.


There are other things to think about for a setting. Are you in a crowded and loud spot where there is a lot of stimulation or a lot of visual stimuli? For example, I hate going to restaurants that have a TV even if I’m not a TV watcher because 9 times out of 10, I’m with someone who can’t not look at it. I understand that impulse, but it’s super frustrating. I’m like, “Don’t even put yourself in that setting if you’re trying to have a good conversation.” It’s thinking about things like that.

You also want to think about what you need as an individual. For example, if I’ve had 4 intense one-on-ones, by the 5th one, you’re not going to get much out of me. I’m too tired. Cognitively, I’m overtaxed. I can’t be present for the other person. It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. It’s figuring out whether your number is 4 or 2. Honestly, some days, it’s 1. Are you sick that day? Are you feeling under the weather? Is your child not sleeping? All of those things can affect you. The other piece is knowing for yourself as an individual, “What are the topics, people, or scenarios that I tend to tune out during?” I made that comment earlier about the person at the dinner party who is like, “They’re talking about sports,” and they tune out. That is me.

When people start talking about golf or cars, I’m like, “I’m going to get a drink right now. Does anyone else want a drink?” I’m wholly uninterested in those two topics. There are a lot of men especially who love talking about golf and cars. It sounds like that’s you for sports.

What can help there is to know that is the case, be aware of it, and then bring some intention into those conversations. We talked a little bit about curiosity before. Sometimes, on the face of it, you think, “That topic of cars or sports, I’m not interested in it. I can’t get curious about it.” What I have found is if you can attach it to the person and get curious about that person like, “Why are they so into cars? Why are they so into this sports team?” That can be an interesting way of getting into it because then, maybe you learn this has to do with a childhood relationship, a childhood adventure, or some kind of story that you’ve never heard before.

Get into the interests of another individual by attaching them to the person and being curious why they are into those things.

My husband is into college basketball. I still don’t know much about it, but what I can get excited about is when he tells me about the drama between coaches, player traditions, and rituals. That aspect is pretty interesting. I’m never going to follow the sport, but I can get interested in some part of that conversation.

There is psychology and humanity in everything. Especially in sports, there’s a lot of psychology and humanity in sports. I got to share a couple of things based on the things you said. In terms of reading the New York Times daily briefing that they send out, they shared a statistic, which was that 50% of a teenager’s time is in front of their phone. It’s not a couple of hours a day. It’s eight hours a day.

I want to share a couple of things that I tried to do to be more present. There’s a class I started going to on Friday mornings. I noticed that it was so easy for me to get distracted and look at my phone during the class even though I was interested in the particular class. I start leaving my phone in the car and not taking it with me. I’m so much freer and I enjoy that time so much, leaving it in the car. Meetup is not going to fall apart for that 45-minute class. That has been very helpful.

The second thing that I have started to do more of is it’s much healthier to stand at your desk than to sit at a desk. I found that my ability to listen is much greater when I’m sitting down than when I’m standing. When I’m standing, it’s higher energy. When I’m sitting down, I am able to be more present and focused on what the other person’s saying. I’m a little lower energy, which is important and non-interrupting. For example, when we’re talking, I’m sitting down. Whenever I’m the guest on a show, I’m always standing up. Whether one is sitting or one is standing, one’s posture can make a big difference for me in terms of being present.

The last thing I’ll share is something I love, which is that one of my kids is in a gap year program in Israel. During a lot of the day, they have a basket and all the kids throw their smartphones. When you even see the phone or see it in front of you, it has an impact. It’s amazing. Most teenagers have been asked the question, “Would you rather lose a limb or lose your phone?” The answer is, “Lose a limb.” A vast majority of the time, people prefer to lose a limb than the phone.

Having that phone there affects people. I love so many of the things that you said. Thank you so much. I have to ask you this. It’s not planned. Have you ever thought of being a therapist? In middle school, everyone divulged their innermost secrets to you. You’re all about listening. I’m shocked that you’re not a therapist.

It’s a yes. You are an astute observer. I have thought about it. Where there is overlap is I’m interested in people and getting to know them and going there in conversation. What I also enjoy is not having to go there every time. One of the chapters in my book is about rest and recovery from conversations. Anyone who does a lot of deep listening, whether you are a therapist, a podcast host, or in my case, a user researcher, or any role for which listening is a major part, it can be exhausting at the end of the day. I’m not even in that therapy role where I’m having potentially traumatic conversations. It still is exhausting even for topics like, “Let’s talk about the usability of a website.” It’s intense listening that can happen. I have thought about it, but maybe in a different life.

It could be a future career. There are some people in their 40s and 50s that are looking at doing something new. Let’s just say that I would sign up for you. You have so much wisdom. You’re incredible at what you do. I had to ask that question.

Thank you.

You mentioned rest and recovery. The word on the street is that you are publishing or working on another book called Rest, which I find shocking because it doesn’t seem like you rest very much. You do a lot. Perhaps it’s the shoemaker’s children who are going barefoot. Tell us about your research on the importance of rest and recovery, and healthy rest versus unhealthy rest. I’m sure there’s such a thing. I’d love to learn more. I’m curious.

I started to become interested in the topics initially in the context of listening that you have these potentially draining conversations. How do you recover from those? How do you reset? In the context of listening, a lot of it is about finding activities that are restful to you, whether that’s journaling or going for a run. It’s also making sure that you have relationships in your life in which you are not the sole listener but you are heard as well. It’s ensuring that even if you have therapist-like tendencies, you’re not always in that armchair therapist role. Someone is creating space for you as well. I wrote my book while I was partly on maternity leave during the pandemic. I was back at work from 9:00 to 5:00.

You did not get much rest.

I wasn’t resting. After publishing my book, I had my come-to-Jesus moment of, “This is not sustainable doing all of these things.” It is very much my nature and always has been, but it is probably not a good idea to be go-go-go all the time. That’s when I started to explore the topic of rest. One of the first things I realized was I decided, “I’m going to take time off. I’m going to maybe take 6 weeks to 8 weeks max away from the tech industry, recover, and then I’ll go back.” I quickly realized that not having that 9:00 to 5:00 does not mean that you’re resting or that you are getting well-rested.

Especially with a little child at home.

Exactly. I certainly had this idea, and it’s pretty common, that if you’re not working, you’re resting. It’s not true. That was what prompted my journey into understanding rest a little bit more deeply.

Watching TV, for example, can be restful. This is not for everyone, but for me. After I watch TV for a while, let’s say more than an hour, I don’t feel good about myself. I don’t feel necessarily more rested. I feel like I wasted a bunch of time. That’s me. Some people can feel rested or more restful. If I take a nap, for example, for 45 minutes, that’s rest. I feel great afterward. What’s healthy rest? What are some potentially less healthy resting things that one could be doing?

I’ll name a few. The thing I’ll say first though is that what you’re hitting on is rest is personal. That is a theme of the book. There are lots of rest techniques that you can take. It’s not one-size-fits-all. What works for one person will be not restful at all for another person potentially. In the case of things like watching TV, it’s generally not considered to be a positive rest practice. Usually, the way we use that is when we are tired but not ready to go to sleep or not wanting to go to sleep. There’s this term bedtime revenge procrastination.

The idea is when we’re busy during the day, we need a moment to ourselves. Even if it’s late and we’re tired, we’re like, “I deserve something. What do I deserve? Let me see what’s on Instagram, TikTok, Netflix, or whatever.” It’s easy to do that. It’s easy to look at your phone and disappear for what maybe feels like a few minutes, and then it’s an hour later. It’s late and you’re like, “Now, I need to go to bed.”

It’s a common practice. It’s not restful for a few reasons. It’s not restful because it pushes your bedtime back. You’re cutting in on sleep, which we know is truly restful. It’s not restful because devices are stimulating. The blue light from devices messes with your whole circadian rhythm. It’s not restful because that content can be activating. There are a whole bunch of reasons to not have that be part of your rest routine. What you replace it with becomes personal.

KCM 58 | Building Rapport
Building Rapport: Doing some of your hobbies shortly before going to bed is not restful. Blue light from electronic devices messes up with your circadian rhythm.


Naps can be great. Except if you have trouble sleeping, then you maybe don’t want to add a nap in the middle of the day because that is going to potentially make evening rest more difficult. For me, one of the things that I learned was how restful reading fiction is. I read a ton of fiction as a kid. I studied literature in college, and then I stopped reading it and only read non-fiction until fairly recently. I started getting back into fiction. I was like, “Why did I stop?” That is restful for me, with the exception if it’s a murder mystery or something. That’s too activating for me. If I’m trying to calm down, getting lost in a different world is useful. The book is filled with certain practices. Depending on your personality and what you’re interested in, there’s something for everyone.

I’m so excited to get it.

It’s out on September 26th, 2023.

We’ll have to have you back on. You also mentioned that you’ve gone through so many different stages in your life and different places that you moved. You mentioned earlier that Meetup has been somewhat helpful in those times. Can you share a little bit more about Meetup, how it could relate to listening, and how it could relate to rest? Any thoughts on that would be great.

For me, where Meetup has been most useful is thinking, “What is something that I’m interested in? How do I meet like-minded individuals?” I had an earlier career in the art world where I was working in an art gallery. I had done museum fellowships, and I was in a PhD program. I thought I would become a curator and then an academic. I realized that was not for me. I was interested in the tech world.

Those feel very different, art and tech. Luckily for me, there was a Meetup that was called Arts Tech NYC. It was the blending of those two things. When you’re in those transition moments, it’s almost like you can feel that you’re shedding the old skin and building a new one. You don’t necessarily know if you’re ready to turn your back on the old skin. You’re trying to figure out, “Is the new skin brand new, or do I get to keep some of the old stuff?” That was a space that felt like, “Maybe there is a way to have these two things merge.”

During moments of transition, it’s almost like you can feel you’re shedding an old skin and building a new one.

For me, it has always been a way of exploring and figuring out my interests and finding your people. Once you’re there, that’s when you get to practice all those listening things that we talked about. You’re like, “I’m in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know or who maybe I know from social media. Now, I’m going to make conversation and get to know them, understand them, and build some friendships, work relationships, or whatever it may be.”

That’s beautiful. You’re going to have to start a Meetup group for people who have written a book about listening and a book about rest. See if they could have both of those two skins. See if they could find their people as well. It may not be a big group, but if you find anyone else, that could be a great conversation.

It’s true.

I have to ask you quick Rapid-fire questions. Quick questions, quick answers. Here we go. When was the first time you saw yourself as a leader?

In high school, I was the editor of our yearbook. We were very intense about the yearbook. It was an award-winning yearbook. It was intense. That’s me. My nickname was the Red Pen.

If you could access a time machine and go anywhere you want at any time, where are you going and when?

I’m going to Paris when Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, and all of these writers and artists are hanging out in the salons. Being around all that creativity would be very intimidating but also inspiring.

You can’t do that because it’s in the past, but you can do other things in the future. What is on your bucket list?

I’ve always loved traveling. I’ve spent time abroad. I would love to keep doing more of that after several years of the pandemic no-fly zone. Also, I’m especially feeling that travel itch. It is continuing to explore and probably learn more languages too. I speak French, Spanish, and English. I’ve always toyed around with, “Should I add Portuguese or so over something there?”

You can go to Brazil and Portugal and have a great time. This is the last question. What do you most want to be remembered by?

What motivates my work in the different forms that it has taken and maybe it will take, I’m always interested in knowledge sharing. I believe in not having to reinvent the wheel, and anything that moves the needle on helping you live a better life and make more connections. The small things that I’m learning motivate me to write and share. That’s what I’m here to do.

Something that strikes me is you love people. You are fascinated by people. It is so enjoyable having this conversation with someone who is so wise and inquisitive. All that listening is not just listening, but you integrate that into how you live. To me, that’s one of the most beautiful things. Thank you so much for being on the show. I feel more connected to you as well. I hope to continue the relationship. Thank you again.

Thank you so much for having me. This was a great conversation.

I hope you enjoyed listening. Here are some of the takeaways. Ask broad questions and then get more specific. Choose your own adventure. Don’t necessarily jump right into one specific topic. I love that piece of feedback. The other thing I liked was the importance of asking what and how questions, open-ended questions, not just the yes-no. If you enjoyed this conversation, then subscribe and leave a review. Remember, let’s keep connected because life is better together.


Important Links

Last modified on March 26, 2023