Category Archives: PodCasts

Episode 165 – NLP and Influence

Well, it’s finally over.  The 2016 presidential election is in the books.  Wow.  Just wow!  Kurt and Steve discuss the election and some of the tactics used by both sides that ultimately led to the victory by Donald Trump.

If you’ve ever conducted research on relieving stress, you’ve undoubtedly come across advice stating that a key factor for reducing your level of stress is to try to live more in the present moment. Most of the feelings that cause us stress, like anger and worry, are born from reliving moments in the past or trying to predict what will come in the future. We’re told to slow down, appreciate the here and now, and let go of the things we cannot do anything about.

Unfortunately for most of us, as time goes by and technology evolves, it seems to become harder and harder to do that. We are bombarded by flashing lights, electronic tones and endless notifications prompting us to think about everything except what we are doing right now, at this very moment. You’ve most likely had at least one notification of some kind pop up on your computer or cell phone in the time it took you to read this far. We are constantly on the move, our minds are continually racing, and we are, mentally, always somewhere else.

Author Eckhart Tolle may have put it best when he wrote the following lines in his book, “The Power Of Now”. Tolle writes, “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are caused by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

It is possible for anyone to ease stress in their life by simply learning to be more mindful of the present, keeping their mind from running off into the past or the future and focusing on abundance. Except for very few specific circumstances in life, stress does not exist in the present, it only exists in the mind.

Many studies have been conducted, which prove that hypnosis can have outstanding effects on reducing stress and anxiety. One such study looked at the effects of hypnosis when used to deal with stress experienced by first-year medical students as they dealt with exams. Results showed that those students who used self-hypnosis techniques experienced much lower levels of distress during exam periods.

Hypnosis can help you to live more in the moment and reduce the stress in your life by allowing you to reach a relaxed mental state more easily. Hypnosis can help you remove the triggers that cause worry and anxiety, helping to stop runaway thoughts and allowing you to maintain your focus on the present moment. You will be able to enjoy life again, regain that young at heart feeling, and let go of all those things outside of your control that have worked their way into your subconscious.

Episode 164 – Ego and Persuasion

Kurt and Steve start this episode by discussing how we can achieve effective presence as a persuader.  Kurt also laments the end of boating season.  They then continue their discussion about dealing with difficult people…specifically delving into low self esteem.

One easy way to boost someone’s esteem is to offer sincere, genuine thanks.  Show a little gratitude for what they have done or even will do.  Never assume that they know how much you care or appreciate them.  Many leaders feel that the paycheck is enough to show thanks.  Sure most people like the money, but if you look at the complaints of people in the workplace, the top 5 are all esteem and ego related, not money related.  These people will either leave the company or do just the minimum at their job.  One of the main reasons you see dissatisfaction in the workplace is because they were never thanked or given any recognition for their efforts.  At first it might seem a bit unnatural to use thanks and gratitude, since of most of us have not experienced an environment where doing so was common, but it’s worth the energy and effort.  Praise not only is the right thing to do, but gives them sense of job security.

It is important to be able to read people and understand the signals of low self esteem.  It might be the opposite of what you think.  It could be bullying, always having to be right, gossiping, quick to take offense, or resentment of others.   Charismatic people have the ability to read these signs and enhance their self esteem.  There has always been a link between esteem and performance.  Boosting their esteem increases their confidence, they have better attitudes and they perform better.  I am not saying you can never say anything negative or critical.  I just want you to be aware that one negative comment has more emotional impact than ten positive comments.  Just keep in mind that the use of praise affects us to the very core, so use it properly.


Episode 163 – Invisible Influence with Jonah Berger

On this episode, Kurt and Steve interview Jonah Berger.  Jonah is a Marketing Professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a world-renowned expert on word of mouth, social influence, consumer behavior, and how products, ideas, and behaviors catch on. He has published dozens of articles in top‐tier academic journals, and popular accounts of his work often appear in places like The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Harvard Business Review. Berger is the bestselling author of multiple books including Contagious: Why Things Catch On (hundreds of thousands of copies are in print in over 30 languages) and Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior. Berger is a popular speaker at major conferences and events and often consults for companies like Apple, Google, GE, Coca‐Cola, Vanguard, 3M, Kaiser Permanente, Unilever, and The Gates Foundation.

Episode 162 – Dealing With Difficult People

We all have them in our lives: difficult people. Admit it…when you heard “difficult people” you automatically thought of a couple by name, didn’t you!

So what is a difficult person?  This person is difficult by nature and/or disagrees with you and may even actively work against you.

For a difficult person, use these techniques:

  • Find a common belief and establish a common ground.
  • Use appropriate humor to break the ice.
  • Don’t start the presentation with an attack on their position.
  • You are only trying to persuade on one point; don’t talk about anything else that could trigger disagreement.
  • Because of your differences, they will question your credibility. Increase your credibility with studies from experts or anything that will support your claim.
  • They will try to find reasons to not like you; don’t give them any.
  • Don’t tell them you are going to try to persuade them.
  • Express that you are looking for a win-win outcome rather than a win-lose situation.
  • Show them you’ve done your homework.
  • Respect their feelings, values, and integrity.
  • Use logical reasoning as clearly and as carefully as possible.
  • Use the Law of Connectivity and the Law of Balance. (Maximum Influence)

Episode 161 – The Science of “No”

On this episode, Kurt and Steve read some listener mail from an business owner who finds himself dealing with a lot of calls from prospects just wanting quotes.  They discuss how the power of “no” can draw prospects into a conversation where actual value can be established. This then unfolds to a discussion about the power of questions.

Of all the tools in your persuasion toolbox, questioning is probably the one most often used by Power Persuaders. Questions are used in the persuasion process to create mental involvement, to guide the conversation and to find out what your prospect needs. Questioning is a very diverse and useful tool. An important study observed hundreds of negotiators in action in an attempt to discover what it takes to be a top negotiator. Their key finding was that skilled negotiators ask more than twice as many questions as average negotiators.

How do you form a good question? First, design your questions ahead of time. The structure of your questions dictates how your listener will answer them. When asked to estimate a person’s height, people will answer differently depending on whether the question asked is “How tall is he?” versus “How short is he?” In one study, when asking how tall versus how short a basketball player was, researchers received dramatically different results. The “how tall” question received the guess of 79 inches whereas the “how short” question received the guess of 69 inches. Words have a definite effect on how people respond. “How fast was the car going?” suggests a high speed, but “At what speed was the car traveling?” suggests a moderate speed. “How far was the intersection?” suggests the intersection was far away.

One facet of questioning is the use of leading questions. Stanford professor Elizabeth Loftus researched how leading questions influenced eyewitness testimonies. In one project, her subjects watched a one-minute multiple-car accident. One group was asked, “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” The second group was asked, “How fast were the cars going when they hit?” The third group was asked, “How fast were they going when they contacted?” The first group estimated that the cars were going about 40.8 miles an hour, the second group estimated 34 miles an hour, and the third group estimated 31.8 miles an hour.  The same question led to three different answers just by using different words.

Leading questions not only alter the way we interpret facts, but they also influence what we remember. In another study conducted by Loftus, subjects who were asked, “Did you see the broken headlight?” were three times more likely to answer yes than subjects who were asked, “Did you see a broken headlight?”

When you are probing for information, it is a good idea to ask open-ended questions. It is too easy to respond to a question that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” For example, instead of saying, “Do you wish you had decided differently?” ask, “How did you feel after you made that decision?” Then the person’s answer can be used to lead into your more detailed questions—”Why did you make that decision?” or “What do you wish you could change about your decision?”— without seeming to intrusive.

A good rule of thumb is to start with the easiest questions first. You want to draw your audience into the conversation and help them feel relaxed and comfortable. People are encouraged by answers they know are right. Begin the conversation by starting with a general topic instead of a specific subject. You need to get the wheels in your listeners’ minds rolling before you ask them to answer the more specific questions.

Episode 160 – Why Small Talk Stinks

On this episode, Kurt and Steve interview Rob Kendall, of  Rob has devoted his life to understanding how humans converse with one another and what makes them go wrong…and right.  Rob its the author of BlameStorming and WorkStorming.

If you know that you need to have a challenging conversation, it’s worth preparing thoroughly for it. The preparation time may be disproportionate to the length of the conversation itself, but if the conversation’s important enough, your preparation will rarely be wasted. As a friend of mine was always told, ‘Prepare thoroughly and deviate with confidence’.

There are a number of things to consider:

1. Time and place.

What’s the appropriate time and place for the conversation? If you squash it in between other meetings, you have no leeway for it to overrun. Is it best to have it now or later? And is it best to stay in the office or would it be more conducive to have it outside?

2. Set it up to succeed.

Would it be beneficial for the other person to know (broadly) in advance what it’s about, or not? At a minimum, you may want to make sure that they’ve cleared enough time in their diary, so they don’t arrive and say they only have 15 minutes free.

3. Set the context.

Once you meet up, make clear to them what you want to speak about. If you beat about the bush too much, the other person will wonder what on earth’s going on, and may not even be clear what you’ve said.

4. Make your commitment clear.

This is vital and can often be missed. When you start a difficult conversation, you need to set the context. Take this example of Mia, who’s given some feedback by her boss. She’s highly regarded at work and is seen as someone with the potential for promotion in the coming year, but her boss assumes she knows this and starts their conversation by saying:

As you know, we’ve gathered some feedback from your colleagues and there are a few areas that have come to light that I want to discuss.’

Mia’s immediately on the defensive, while her boss is surprised that she’s not being more constructive. It would help if he began by saying:

‘Mia, you’re highly valued and we’re really keen for you to progress to a more senior role. You’re already exceptionally strong in some areas, and need to develop in others.’

5. Make the distinction between ‘facts’ and ‘stories’ or ‘opinions’.

A fact may be: ‘You’ve been late 3 times in the last 10 working days’.

A story or opinion would be: ‘You’re unreliable.’

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with having opinions, but it’s better to state it this way: ‘I have an opinion that you’re unreliable.’

6. Acknowledge their perspective.

Ask them questions so that you can understand their perspective (this doesn’t mean you have to agree with it). And then listen. If you’re not prepared to listen, don’t bother asking, but don’t expect much engagement from them either. Prior to a meeting most people spend their time thinking about what they want to say, but it may be even more important to consider what questions you want to ask.

7. Get clear what’s going to happen next.

Obviously this depends on the situation, but it’s worth agreeing together a clear action or a date to review things after some reflection time.

8. Be aware.

Lastly, be aware that – however well you conduct the conversation – what you say might come as a shock to the other person.

In her 1969 book, On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross introduced a hypothesis based on her work with terminally ill patients. In the majority of cases she found that patients went through a spectrum of different emotional states: beginning with denial then leading to anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Her model has since been adapted to fit a broader set of situations where someone receives unwelcome news. The instinctive response is often to deny it, followed by feelings of anger, withdrawing to lick their wounds, and finally coming round to acceptance. You may need to give someone room to go through this process, while remaining available to speak to them if other questions and concerns arise.

Episode 159 – Mindless Eating with Brian Wansink

The food industry is now more successful than it has ever been.  Food is cheap and readily accessible, and many of us are eating A LOT of it.  On this episode, Brian Wansink of the of the Food and Brand Lab of Cornell University joins Kurt and Steve.

Brian is a leading expert in changing eating behavior – both on an individual level and on a mass scale – using principles of behavioral science. His research focuses on how ads, packaging, and personality traits influence the usage frequency and usage volume of healthy foods. His research on consumption volume has won national and international awards for its relevance to consumers. His findings have been widely featured on 20/20, BBC News, The Learning Channel, all news networks, and on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. He is also  the author of Mindless Eating (2006) and Slim by Design (2014) as well as over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles. From 2007 until 2009 he was appointed by the White House as the USDA’s CNPP Executive Director in charge of the Dietary Guidelines for 2010 and the Food Guide Pyramid ( He is a former bad open-mic comic and rock sax player. He lives with his wife and three girls in Ithaca, New York, where he enjoys both French food and French fries.

Episode 158 – Hijack A Negotiation Using Emotions

After last weeks interview with Chris Voss, Kurt and Steve dive deeper into negotiations and how emotions can hijack them.  This has a negative connotation with most…but why not be the hijacker here?  Emotions are a powerful tool whether you’re understanding how others are using them, or whether you are using them yourself.


When your prospect is worried or preoccupied with something occurring now or could happen in the future. The wrong type of worry can hinder persuasion. Worry is feeling anxious, uneasy, or concerned about something that may happen, or has already happened. Worry creates anxiety which creates tension—a fear that occupies our thoughts, which if encouraged will grow and continue to dominate our thoughts. I have heard worry referred to as “negative goal setting.”

You can combat worry in your prospects by modifying their anxiety. Bring them back to reality by having them realize we can’t change many things in the past or forecast the future. Stress that most of the things we worry about are those very things we can’t change or control and which won’t likely ever happen in the first place. Help your prospects replace their negative mental images with positive ones.  Worry can also be caused by indecision.  Get them to make a series of minor decisions and their worry will decrease.


Anger is a secondary emotion. A prospect’s anger is usually an indicator that something else is askew and that he needs or wants attention.  When we are angry – we want attention or action now. You can assist in diminishing his anger by determining the key issue he is upset about. It is also often effective to ask for his help, opinions, or advice. This will usually diffuse his anger or even change his attitude and demeanor completely. In some circumstances, you may want to use anger to make a certain point or to evoke a certain reaction. However when someone is angry they are more likely to blame someone else. In their mind it is not their fault. When they are sad they will usually blame the situation.

When people become angry they tend to rely on intuition or an educated guess.  Anger triggers non analytical information processing.   Anger causes us to use mental shortcuts to decide if the argument is right.  An experiment was done that induced anger. The participants that were angry tended to discriminate between weak and strong persuasive arguments more than those in a neutral mood.  In other words, those that were angry tended to be more influenced by heuristic cues (intuition) than those in a sad or neutral mood.

Episode 156 – Solve Objections in Advance

Did you know that money can buy happiness? A recent study published in “Psychology Today” shows just that. Kurt and Steve discuss the ins and outs of this study and how money certainly can buy happiness…up to a point.

Continuing off of recent episodes, Kurt and Steve cover how we can overcome objections before they ever occur in the first place. This concept is called “inoculation.” The term comes from the medical field, where patients are given a weak form of a virus so that their body can develop an immunity to it. This same concept happens on the psychological level. If we can introduce a weak form of the objection to our prospects, they will be better prepared for when the real one comes along at a later date.

For example, do most of your prospects end up looking for more bids from competitors? Or do they end up getting serious resistance from friends and family? Letting them know very subtly that this will happen beforehand helps them avoid the shock and disappointment that will later surface. They’ll think “hey, you know what? He told me that the competitors would say this, or that my family would think that.”

This even applies when raising children. Unfortunately we know that at some point kids will be exposed to and given the opportunity to take drugs. Pretending this won’t happen just increases the chances that they will be influenced by a drug dealer and not by you as a parent. Letting them know in advance “hey Jr, at some point somebody is going to offer you drugs. If you say no they’ll call you chicken, they’ll make fun of you, etc. But just say no no matter what and come talk to me about it. It’s okay.”

You can’t, nor should you, inoculate against everything. Just pick the two or three most common objections your prospects have and pre solve them with stories, examples, statistics, and testimonials!

Episode 157 – Negotiation Tips from an former FBI Hostage Negotiator

On this episode, Kurt and Steve discuss the recent bad publicity for Samsung and their Galaxy Note that apparently catches on fire.  Whether it’s true or not, when the FAA warns travelers about your product it can’t be a good thing!

After the Samsung debacle, Kurt and Steve are joined by Chris Voss, author of “Never Split the Difference.”  Chris is a former international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI and shares some great pointers on the podcast!  From Chris’s website, some great excerpts covered in the interview:

Let’s explore the space between offer and acceptance – the space between “yes” and “no” is labels.

“It seems like…” “It sounds like…” “It looks like…”  (Followed by an effective pause.)

It’s critical to not “step” on your label by following it with a question or some sort of an explanation. You’ve got to let them sink in.

“It seems like there’s some flexibility in this package?”

“It sounds like there’s more here?”

“It seems like you have some ranges in mind?”

“It looks like you’ve used certain criteria to come up with this offer?”

Labels are a great way to gather more information and to test positions.  They do it in a way that doesn’t make people feel backed into a corner. They’re effective in place of questions where basically you’d normally be looking for just a “yes” or a “no” and they always get more information. They open up dialog in a really gentle, yet quietly firm way.

Salary negotiations are particularly important because people are testing you as both a co-worker and an ambassador. They really don’t want you to be a push-over and they don’t want you to be a jerk. Salary negotiations shouldn’t be limited to just salary. Salary pays your mortgage but terms build your career.

“It seems like there’s a bigger picture here for this position?”

“It looks like your company has a future vision I fit into.”

“It seems like this position fits a broader need within the company.”

“It looks like there’s some built in opportunities for professional development?”

“It looks like this position fits a critical need.”

These labels can also be expressed as statements or questions (upward inflection – question; downward inflection – statement).

Employers appreciate someone with insight who “gets it”. Labels are a great way to demonstrate competence and insight. Both of these are characteristics that either merit a higher offer now, or position you for one down the line.

Please remember, plan for your success with good terms within the overall package that build your career. Labels help you flesh that out and build the success of both your career and your employer!