Episode 1 – Power of Conversations
Learn the power of conversations. How do you have meaningful conversations that move the needle? Are you an energizer or a desipator?Having a conversation with an open mind it can change the trajectory of your life. Stay present to that conversation.
Rajesh: Great to start the series, Ravi. As Ravi said, I’m a serial entrepreneur and I write books and I teach courses. Ravi, what are we talking about today?
Ravi: I find that there are certain people, when I’m on the phone with them or having conversations, I feel really good after that and something amazing comes out when you’re in conversations with a few people. I want us to talk about the power conversations.
Rajesh: It’s a great topic, Ravi and I agree with you. In my first book, I wrote at about energizers and dissipaters in the chapter called Likability. Energizers are those people, when you finish the conversation with them, you feel good about yourself. Not about them because, usually, they’re smart people, but you feel good about yourself. Dissipaters are those people you have conversations with them, at the end of it, you feel a little bit down or you think something has been taken away from you. It’s interesting what happens, Ravi. Those people don’t change. Whenever they’re having [inaudible 00:01:27] whatever be the medium, they could be in person, sometimes you receive their email, your mind is already thinking, “Oh, God.”
Ravi: You’re thinking, “Oh my God, what is this conversation?” I like the way you have separated energizers and dissipaters because I remember one of my friends used to tell me that the positive feeling that somebody has after they have a conversation with you actually come back as your silent blessings. So when you somebody and they’re walking away from you, the other person is saying, “Wow, what a great person I met today.” That, apparently, the universe captures it and brings it back to you as a blessing. Imagine getting thousands and thousands of silent blessings and imagine the power it can have on your own contribution to the world.
Rajesh: It’s fascinating for sure. During our courses when we teach first time entrepreneurs, people generally say, “We want to hustle and get things done.” Everything starts with a conversation, but how do we have a conversation that will move the needle? It’s a fascinating story because everything is conversation; either you’re having a conversation with yourself or we’re having a conversation with each other. That’s all there is, otherwise you’re sleeping. You’re talking to yourself or you’re talking to someone else. But, personally, you and I know that the art of having a good conversation is not taught in school because people think because they know how to talk, they know how to have a conversation. At the end of it, nothing will happen.
There are fewer limits to it. One thing is how do we make sure that you can move the needle by the end of this conversation? Let’s say we’re talking to Bob. A few things that we need to know is Bob’s context. What can Bob do and what Bob cannot do? You know the context. You cannot give him advice as if you’re talking to Bob as the CEO of Microsoft. Of course, the CEO of Microsoft does not need any advice from us. But you cannot assume that he has the context to take action at that level because [inaudible 00:03:52]. Second, his own belief system about whether he can do it or not do it because he might have the capacity, you may not believe that he has the capacity. That also we should know. And then his strengths. There are some things that is very easy for Bob to do. There are some things that may be very easy for you, but very complicated for Bob because it’s based on the strengths. Sometimes Bob is in the zone, sometimes he is not in the zone. Need to know it. Then Bob’s limitations. It so happens that Bob, current year, one year there is a physical limitation or there is a limitation of the mind. So that is all of this captured together will decide what action Bob can take or what action Bob cannot take.
Ravi: I have a different perspective. Again, it depends on what kind of conversation you are having. If it is a conversation between a mentor and a mentee, then you want to make sure that the conversation is leading to something positive, there’s something happening. But if people like you and I are talking, I don’t need to move the needle technically. There’s nothing that I want to do or nothing that you want me to do. But a good conversation, in my mind, is when it touches my heart and something powerful comes out because I’m in the company of somebody very inspirational, somebody that I’m enjoying saying what I’m saying. So I feel a good conversation also kind of digs deeper and forces you or makes you say things that you wouldn’t otherwise say to yourself or you wouldn’t otherwise say to somebody with whom you’re having a bad conversation.
Rajesh: Yeah, very good point, Ravi. Let’s double-click on it. What makes us think that something touched our heart or something didn’t touch our heart? We will not be able to define it very clearly, but let’s just talk about it because, otherwise, we won’t be capitalizing on the power of conversation. Let’s say, in my opinion, I’m just thinking out loud here, a good conversation we’re having and then it touches my heart. One thing that I can think of is it resonates on the same frequency that I am thinking because I can relate to it.
Ravi: It is aligned.
Rajesh: It is aligned with it. For example, before recording this episode, we were talking about a movie and you said sometimes you get tears in your eyes because of [inaudible 00:06:31] neurons that are acting because you said that the brain does not know that it’s real or it is manufactured, but when [inaudible 00:06:41] neurons come into action and you resonate with it. We can follow the same thing and something that I can relate to. The second thing that I am thinking is it makes me stop, reflect, and think. Something that I, “Aha, this is very interesting,” kind of thing. Third thing that I can think of is it will change the worldview that I’m having even in a more powerful way.
Ravi: Right, because you’re hearing somebody else say it, so the other person, whatever they’re saying, it can actually help you change your own mental models. Because, as long as you are thinking and you are talking, you are reiterating you own mental model, but only when you talk to somebody else, when you are enjoying it, those mental models can get modified.
Rajesh: Correct. The fourth one that I’m thinking, Ravi, is basically if some person is very motivated to do something and something happened, upside down for the entrepreneurs, it’s like a roller coaster ride, and one of those conversations that touch the heart will be it can give them hope that you know what? It’s all good, but I have more oomph to do something better tomorrow. It just lifts them.
Ravi: Correct. It can be very reinforcing in terms of who you really are and I think making sure the conversation is going in the right direction is in your hands. What I’ve found is some people, when they’re having a bad conversation, it’s not because these people are bad; it started bad. It started with a very tactical item. “Did you do the project?” The other person may just have had a bad day at home, has a health situation, so unfortunately, when you start a conversation with very tactical in mind, it can turn bad. Whereas, if you say, “How is it going? I haven’t seen you all morning. How are you feeling? By the way, I wanted to talk about this particular project. How did it do?” then you are essentially touching the human first before you get to the action or the task or the job. If you miss the human element, the conversation can become really bad and have a story I can tell you.
Ravi: Recently, we were interviewed. I was supposed to be interviewed by a TV reporter, so she came and, at that time, I was talking to somebody else and she was in a very bad mood. She was yelling at everybody, she moved everything in and said, “Interview now or never.” I was observing that she was in a bad mood, but I couldn’t stop who I am talking with, so I waited for a couple of minutes and, when my other conversation finished, I walked over and said, “Would you need a break?” and she said, “Yes, I’ve been doing this from seven in the morning.” So I told her, “Why don’t you take a break? In the meantime, we’ll arrange everything.” She came back and the first thing I asked her is, “What’s your name?” and then she said, “Something.” She said, “You’re from this part of India?” “Yeah.” “That part, I love people like you. You guys are so generous.” There was a smile on her face that completely removed the context of why we were talking. It was not about interview, it’s not about who is late and who is on time; she was smiling. We had a conversation about her background, her family. So I think people should realize that conversations cannot ignore the human element.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. I love that story. The keyword that I took away from the story is thoughtfulness. You were being thoughtful, you didn’t look at her as a TV reporter, you first looked at her as a fellow human being who is also going through ups and downs, work pressures and everything. You touched your heart by saying, “First, let me recognize you as one more human being like me. I’m going to [inaudible 00:11:02], so let’s start there.” It levels the field and then, after that, [inaudible 00:11:11].
Ravi: Because conversations, even [inaudible 00:11:15] relationships. So if you want to build relationships with people, because that’s what human society is all about, relationships. We exist because we like to have [inaudible 00:11:27] with other people, we would like to have a family with children and things like that, and everything is rooted in the conversations. If you don’t take care of these conversations, you will end up not getting close to some amazing people. So the art of conversations that we are talking about today, it actually starts with you. Connect to the human side of the person, whether it’s your spouse, your coworker, or somebody working for you, if you do that, you can actually come back smiling at the end of the workday because you have had awesome conversations even in the work.
Rajesh: That’s beautifully said again. A few years ago, I was working in this company called [inaudible 00:12:11] and it was the third year and it was always quite successful. It was 2002 and we were just drinking from a straw kind of thing. Breathing from a straw, as they say. I had a mentor, he’s still a very good friend and everything, his name is Yakob [inaudible 00:12:28]. He is from you Russia, brilliant, he is a four-time CEO. During the New Year day, he brought a book to my table and then said, “This is for you. You should read this. It’s a gift, but I expect you to report back after reading this. You have one week.” The title of the book, which even today, it’s the number one in the book [inaudible 00:12:54] list for me, it’s called Fierce Conversations. I told Yakob, “Because I’m a simple person, I don’t need to have fierce conversations.” He just smiled and he said, “You better finish this book. Next week, we’re having a conversation about it. Whether you like it or not, it doesn’t matter to me. You have to read it.”
Susan Scott, who is the author, is a good friend of mine now. The biggest thing, if I can summarize the whole book in one sentence, she says, “While no single conversation can guarantee that it will shift the trajectory of your life, career, or relationship, any single conversation can. What is the conversation that has your name on it?” What she says is, if you are just open and have a conversation in that open-mind, any single conversation can have the power to change the trajectory of your life, career, or a relationship. After I read that and internalized it, I started becoming more aware that whether I am present to the conversation or not present to the conversation because any single conversation could change the trajectory of my life, career, or a relationship. My life has been so different because I am now more present to the conversation.
Ravi: I cannot agree with you more. As an entrepreneur, I always feel that you don’t go into a conversation expecting an outcome because then you’re not present in the true sense because you’re focused on the end. It’s good Stephen Covey said that begin with the end in mind, but not in conversations. Conversations have to evolve just like a flower blossoms. You can’t force it. You can’t say, “I’m going to bring an insight to this topic.” That’s called a lecture but conversations are not lectures. Conversations are two people echoing each other, like I’m throwing something at you and it came to you in very soft way; it’s like I’m throwing a ball of flowers and it didn’t hit you. You got your smooth feeling and threw it back at me. It’s almost like two people playing with a soft ball, that both of us don’t get hurt and you’re have an awesome time. That, I think, is a great conversation.
Rajesh: You didn’t use one word. You said it’s like playing with a soft ball with each other. The keyword I took away there is play. A good conversation is not work, but it’s a play because when you have play, it connotates fun. So in the whole process, you’re having fun, but at the end of it, you feel good about yourself, the other person feels good about himself or herself, it will be an amazing feeling. Like I’m sure we’ve talked for 10 or 15 minutes, but it didn’t feel like anything.
Ravi: Yeah, it didn’t feel like work. I want to add one more word to the play part. It’s a very collaborative play; it’s not competitive play. You’re not competing for attention. Those things even should end up arguments. Competitive play is an argument, a collaborative play, I think, is a conversation.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. Just to wrap up this episode, Ravi, because we said we’re not going to make it mega.
Ravi: Yeah, the way it’s going, we can go forever.
Rajesh: So I’m thinking that we should say one parting thought, both of us can think of something, just close the loop. Did you have anything in mind?
Ravi: I think that your success in life and your happiness is directly related to the kinds of conversations you have, so I urge all of the listeners to pay very special attention to the conversations. If the conversation is going in a negative direction, you have the choice to leave. Nobody is forcing you to be in a conversation, so make sure that the conversations are positive and you’re feeling good afterwards and you want to have a conversation again with that person. It’s very important. It’s in your hands.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. If I can rephrase it, I can say that, based on what I heard from you, my parting thought would be if you want to lift the level of your life, you have to lift the level of your conversations. That way, you start thinking, “Am I having the right level of conversations? Am I having uplifting conversations?” Sometimes people say, “I don’t know a lot of people that I can have uplifting conversations because everybody is wanting to talk about the movies and all of those things.” I’m not saying that you should not talk about the video games, movies, games that are happening, politics, or weather and everything, but here, we’re talking about uplifting your life, which means you have to pick and choose the people that you’ll have those conversations. If you’re trying to punch at three or four levels above your weight class, then it will be difficult because the other person says, “What is in it for me?” because they’re having conversations with their own level of people. So my thinking is that you have to earn your way into the next level of weight class. So, arguably, you start contributing silently or directly or indirectly so that you somehow become part of those conversations that are one or two levels higher where you are.
Ravi: Correct. I think, just to add one more closing comment, is two people talking is not a conversation. A conversation has also to lead to something creative. If you’re just talking about facts, I wouldn’t call it a conversation even though everybody says, “That’s a conversation.” That’s actually a wrong use of the word. You’re just exchanging facts, whether you’re complaining about something or you’re just sharing information. But a true conversation, when it becomes powerful, is something new has fallen on the table because that’s the only power that can happen within two people. The true magic is between the two people in the middle that gets created as part of that play that we talked about, that collaborative play.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. Maybe, Ravi, you can end with thing where we can they learn more about you? What is the website?
Ravi: Absolutely. This is the first episode, so thank you for listening. You can visit our website, mentorcloud.com and continue this conversations on various topics. And, again, they are going to be spontaneous, we’re not going to prepare for it, these are not scripted; it is just coming out just from two people who love to share something straight from the heart.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. You can learn more about me at my own website rajeshsetty.com and there’s a blog there. It’s like Ravi said, the whole thing started because we both were having a ton of conversations – morning, evening, middle of the night – on various topics and it was always uplifting for both of us. So the first episode where we are thinking that let’s say we record these conversations. Let’s see what comes out of it. So your feedback is very important for us.
Ravi: Exactly. It’s a very live experiment.
Rajesh: Exactly. It’s an experiment in spontaneous conversations. So signing off, have a great day ahead and thanks for listening.
Ravi: Excellent, we want your spontaneous feedback also.
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