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Making Vulnerability Sexy with Corey Blake

By Arel Moodie

Being authentic and putting that self on display for everyone to see can be scary-because you're leaving yourself vulnerable.  Corey Blake, founder and storyteller-in-chief of Round Table Companies, says that vulnerability doesn't have to be scary.  

Instead, you can make it sexy.  What can you do to own your vulnerability and even win people over for being authentic and who you really are!  

Blow past the charades and own your strengths and your flaws-read on to develop the mindset for making vulnerability sexy...

Quick Rundown:

4:30: The life of an actor-not all glamour and glitz.

13:00: "Just be yourself," ever heard that?  Too simplistic; here's our improvement on that.

24:45: Addressing your flaws and your "pain points."

33:00: The mindset to adopt when you fear opening up your vulnerabilities.

38:50: "The Eminem technique" in owning vulnerability.

58:20: Corey issues you, the listener, a challenge!

While you're at it: check out Corey's TED talk:

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes!

Pleasantries: When They Mean Nothing. 

How many times during the day do you exchange pleasantries with others and that's as far and deep as the interaction goes?

Person A: How are you doing?

Person B: Good!  And you?

Person A: I'm good too.  You seem pretty happy.

Person B: Yeah, I'm enjoying this coffee.

Person A: Cool.

And the conversation drifts away.  A typical cookie cutter, social pleasantry conversation.

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Just a typical, socially acceptable, and rote greeting, rather than an actual concern of well-being or actually getting to know each other.  Maybe the coffee is what makes you happy, and that's just typical small talk, but if you're looking to get more out of the conversation and connect with people like the likable person you are, how do you go about it?

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Corey recommends pushing further into the topic.  What is it about the cup of coffee that they really like?  Perhaps they have a strong Italian heritage and love them their espressos!  This can go for a lot of subjects.  If you're starting to get to know someone and you ask why they enjoy vacation time so much, they may answer that they enjoy spending time with family.

That's a rote and socially acceptable greeting.  Who doesn't enjoy spending time with family?  These can almost be like automatic responses.  Sure, of course I like kids.  I love animals.  Family is great.  Who doesn't like vacation?  You can let it trail off there just like the coffee example above, or you can take a chance to go deeper.

Person A: "What is it you like about spending time with family?" (show that you're interested in learning more)

Person B: "...Well if I look at it, I think I really enjoy playing with my kids, allowing me to tap into my inner child again..."

This would be a fast-moving example, but showing your interest in getting to know someone and uncovering the real answers behind the cookie cutter responses will help you to make the most of your conversations.

Connecting with People: The Swimming Pool Analogy

Corey likens getting to know people to different zones of a swimming pool, a shallow end and a deep end.  Whereas a lot of people may feel comfortable in shallow water and small talk rather than jumping into the deep end, it is in the deep end of the pool where people can really connect with each other.

It's when people identify their deeper concerns and motivations and are able to express those motivations in such a way that they click with others.

It's how Corey and a client of his knew in 3 minutes that they were almost destined to work with each other-how Corey was able to help his client realize that there was more to his life than pediatric dentistry.  The two identified a deeper calling-improving relationships between patients and doctors.

Let's take a look at the shallow and the deep ends of the swimming pool here:

The Shallow End

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Most people are comfortable wading in the shallow end of communication.  This is where people exchange pleasantries and small talk.  A lot of common language (How are you doing?  What's up?  and so on), is what people are used to wading in the shallow end of communication.  

Here, language won't be as descriptive and colorful, and with it, the water is less deep-and there is less depth to a person.  This is where everyone will seem superficial and give socially acceptable rote responses.

The Deep End

When you really get to know someone, language gets more colorful and descriptive.  Whether in your own reflections or in getting to know someone else, there will be more depth to a person.  

Here, maybe you'll find out why they enjoy their morning coffee so much.  Maybe it's because they're always feeling stressed out and out of control, but taking their morning coffee is a ritual (language!) that allows them control over a small part of the day.

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You can also get to know yourself as well.  It's a nice exercise to describe what you like about your own day, occupation, or anything else.  You can start your inquiry in the shallow end of the pool-I like helping people out at my job.  But in what way do you help people?  What are the feelings like?

And you'll find that you'll get more and more descriptive, as you wade deeper and deeper into the pool toward your authentic self.

The Eminem Technique

Going into yourself inquiry, you may recollect memories that you're not a big fan of.  We all have our slip-ups and our down moments.  But if we ever want to be comfortable sharing and connecting to someone else, we'll have to cross the Rubicon of revealing ourselves, strengths, weaknesses, and all.

Weaknesses are hard to reveal.  When they're secrets, people can pass them around as gossip, and that can be damaging.  To get better at connecting with people, it's important to own up to them.  Arel calls this "The Eminem Technique:"

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Once in a rap battle, Eminem took the mike and completely called out everything his opponent was going to diss him about.  He owned up to all of his faults.  And with that, he took the wind out of his opponents' sails.

There was nothing his opponent could diss him on, because Eminem was already comfortable with his vulnerability.

So if you can be upfront about your weaknesses yourself, this will cause people to make a decision.  Either they're simply uncomfortable and will move away, or they will appreciate you for your depth of character and can understand that you too have strengths and weaknesses.  That's where you can start getting to know each other and going into the deep end (in a good sense!).

Thanks to Corey for coming onto the show!

If you're working on a book or evolving your brand story, look him up at Round Table Companies at, or email Corey at [email protected] (He's pretty responsive!)

You can also find him on Twitter at @CoreyBlake9000!

Let him know you heard about him on The Art of Likability!

Find him on Twitter at @CoreyBlake9000!

Remember, this podcast itself will do nothing if you don't implement what you've learned.  Do nothing, and you could have spent the last hour flying a kite!  That would have been fun, but you were here to up your likability game.  Get to it with real action!

Questions and comments can be directed via email to [email protected]

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