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How to Deeply Understand People with Jess Larsen

by Arel Moodie
In this podcast, we're going to discuss the power of listening and understanding how you can help people.  Jess Larsen, from Ideation Collective and Child Rescue Association, relies on his skill in listening to people to discern their concerns as well as how he can help them as an adviser.  Listening well has the power to transform new connections into new business!  Intrigued?  Read on...
Quick Rundown:
2:30: Stick to your guns 
12:00: Powerful phrases to use in listening.
14:20: Best listening advice: shut up!
15:30: How to get to the core of the issue with someone:
21:45: Everyone has something they're working on.
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The Power of Listening
One of the most difficult things Jeff learned in becoming a good listener was to simply shut up.  Focus on listening and obtaining information rather than attempting to impress people.  
"You have two ears and one mouth, and you should use them in that proportion."
Of course, we don't mean for you to sit there and stare wordlessly at your friend.  You can still elicit information or conversation out of someone you're trying to help, and here is one of the powerful phrases Jeff shared with us that help you to become a better listener and get more information:
"Tell me more about that."
Besides inviting people to speak about themselves or their interests, open ended questions like these allow people to self-guide the conversation toward their interests and their concerns.  You can take in information and see how you can help them out.
As Jeff says, the right listener can make the speaker feel like they have an gradually unfolding relationship throughout the conversation.
Don't Get Star-Struck!  How to Deal with Impostor Syndrome
Imagine that you were just given the job to lecture to the Navy SEALs on your area of expertise.  This is exactly the situation in which Jess found himself.  These are highly specialized and intelligent warriors.  
Imagine if you wondered what your business was lecturing to these specialists?  Did you even deserve to be on that stage?
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Stick to your guns.  That's what Jess did, and recommends.  He told the SEALs that "I'm not here to tell you how to do your job, but I will tell you about my area of expertise.  It's your job to tell me how and if it can apply to your job."  
Without boasting or deprecating himself, Jess stuck to his guns.  Maybe you're not necessarily dealing with lecturing Navy SEALs, but perhaps you've felt that you didn't belong on a stage with other "more qualified" people.  
The same happened to Jess when he was interviewed for a position on an acquisition team for Citigroup.  He didn't have the M.B.A. that seemingly everyone else working the position had, but he had been an entrepreneur before.  He stuck to his guns, and could speak from a position of experience rather than perceived inferiority.
Stick to what you know, own up to it, and you'll do just fine.
Getting "in" with Big Shots
This is where you can work the magic of your listening skills.  As star-studded as someone may be, keep in mind that they're obsessing over something.  They have a problem, somewhere and somehow, like an upcoming project.  
They don't know you yet, so they're not going to ask you straight up to help them.  But with your listening skills, you can get them to open up to you.
Then you can identify some way in which you relate to their problem.  Perhaps you have written a book on the subject, or maybe you know somebody who is an expert on the subject.  Make note of it, and that's when you can pull your next move...
Scratch Their Back First
Go ahead and provide them a bit of help toward their project.  Send them your book on Amazon, or put him in touch with your expert contact, and don't even make a production out of it!
Go out of your way to give a gift that you have.
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A lot of people operate day to day in a self-absorbed manner.  When someone breaks pattern and goes out of their way to help you, that makes you feel great.  When was the last time someone went out of their way to help you?  Perhaps you remember an event like that, something which usually isn't the norm.
Whether or not this turns out to be a nice pleasantry or even a source of business with your new contact, gift giving can be a powerful tool for yourself as well.  Giving a gift can remind you that you are not for want of resources.  You actually have an abundance of them-which is why you can hand them out!
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Thank you Jess for coming onto the show!  You can find him and Ideation Collective at their site or on Twitter at @LarsenIdeas.  His nonprofit organization Child Rescue can be found at
That was some valuable information we covered in this podcast, but it is implementation that will truly help you!  Go out into the world and make some noise with what you've learned!
Stay tuned, and stay awesome!  
Questions and comments can be directed via email to [email protected]
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