Tag Archives: Relationships

Upgrade Your Friends: How the People You Know Impact Your Mind, Body & Spirit

Want to accelerate your career?
Finally ready to get fit?
Looking for some peace and serenity in your otherwise hectic life?

It may be time to upgrade your friends.

Everything you are today is a product of other people.
Your physical being came about from a mingling of two other peoples’ genes. The language you speak, your country allegiance and your spiritual self are all results of your acceptance or rejection of what you’ve seen and experienced with others.

Intuitively we know this, but too often leave the process to chance. If you imagine a better you and want more control in the process of becoming the person you dream of being, become more purposeful about the selection and nurturing of relationships.

We have talked a great deal about relationships for professional success but the same benefits accrue to personal development.

Growing Your Mind, Body & Spirit…

While knowledge can be obtained in books, or even YouTube – learning how to apply that knowledge comes from our interactions with others. Find a person you respect intellectually and reach out.

If your physical self isn’t want you desire, ask yourself who you know or who you can meet that’s attained the success you want and ask them for help and guidance.

If your head is spinning, your schedule crammed and you feel weighed down by the demands of others, it may be time to seek the guidance of someone that has already found peace.

I don’t just write this stuff…
I’m living it with you…

Earlier this week, I received an email announcing the publication of a new book on generational stereotypes, called, Unfairly Labeled. Intrigued by the topic, I researched the author Jessica Kriegel and decided to reach out. In the brief discussion we had, I was able to learn something new from a person that, only a few days before, I hadn’t known even existed.

How we view the world and ourselves changes and evolves as we grow.

Control the growth of your mind, body and spirit by reaching out to those that have accomplished your dreams and soon they will be your reality!

As always, I welcome your questions and comments at jeff@jeffkaplan.com

Stay connected,


39 Ways to Improve Your Relationships

Several of you have asked that we review some of the basic tips for rapidly accelerating and deepening your relationships. Here are a few to consider:

  1. Be HUMBLE!!!!
  2. Set a casual tone and find ways to reduce formality
  3. Plan your conversations to create value and increase intimacy
  4. Never leave without a reason to return
  5. Look for clues in emails
  6. Reference a common connection
  7. Conduct relational research in advance
  8. Call connections JUST to stay in touch
  9. Mix business and social
  10. Add one new connection every day
  11.  Ask why, not what
  12.  Set-up Google Alerts for important contacts
  13.  Ask for introductions from people you already know
  14.  Check if other connections will be at planned events
  15.  Find ways to become a host
  16.  Discover common interests and passions
  17.  Know their problems before they have to tell you (i.e. listen to investor calls)
  18.  Send informative emails with info they can use
  19.  Ask for help
  20.  Endorse your contact on LinkedIn
  21.  Make introductions of value to your connections
  22.  Create your own holiday and send notes to out-of-contact, contacts
  23.  Get to know your contact’s biggest customers
  24.  Find ways to report back – create ‘work trial’
  25.  Ask for coaching or mentorship
  26.  Offer coaching or mentorship
  27.  Share new things about your interests with your contact
  28.  Review contact’s work history and education for commonalities or contact links
  29.  Look for YouTube videos of your contact’s speeches or interviews
  30.  Discover and read the articles and books your contact has written or enjoys
  31.  Check out your contact on Facebook
  32.  Always follow-up quickly with a summary of discussion and next meeting
  33.  Give compliments freely and publically – Tweet about your contact
  34.  Never-ever gossip about anyone
  35.  Give permission to use your first name as soon as possible
  36.  Send picture of events you’ve attended together or of common interests
  37.  Include your families whenever possible
  38.  Tell stories about your life and the lessons you’ve learned
  39.  Be there when they need you and you have nothing to gain

As always, feel free to reach out to me directly at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,

You Know How THEY Are: The Flipside of Stereotypes

From a young age we’re taught that stereotypes are inappropriate, lead us to false conclusions and promote cultural biases that don’t have any place in a progressive society.

However, used correctly, stereotyping can be a powerful tool in your relational development efforts — provided you are willing to shed every part of the stereotypical picture you’d created once presented with the facts.

Stereotyping Best Practices

  1. Prepare. Use stereotypes as a means to prepare yourself for positive and productive interactions.
  2. Research. Create stereotypes through research. Understanding where someone went to school, when they went and what they studied can tell you a great deal about what they value and how they see the world.
  3. Discover. Use your research to find common ground (shared interests or experiences) that will help you begin to see him or her as a person instead of a name or title and allow you to begin the connection process, even before you meet.
  4. Let reality rule. Chances are the stereotype you’ve created isn’t accurate. That’s okay and expected. Start to disassemble your stereotype as you interact and begin to understand your new contact as a unique individual.


You have two job interviews scheduled and of course you do a little research. Here’s what you find:

Interviewer #1
Graduated from Oxford in 1967 with a degree in microeconomics. He’s single and enjoys butterfly collecting.

Interviewer #2
Graduated from Berkley in 1992 with a degree in psychology. She’s married with four kids and plays in a Jazz band on the weekends.

1. If you had to choose only one interview, which would it be?
2. Which interviewer are you most likely to connect with?
3. Would you change your approach in each interview?

Stereotyping is hardwired into each of us, a defense mechanism that helps to keep us safe from the unknown. Learning to use what your brain does naturally can help you rapidly accelerate your relationship development efforts.

As always, I welcome your thoughts at Jeff@jeffkaplan.com.

Stay connected,


The Dark Side of Trust…

Trust can be a vicious and manipulative weapon of control.

As much as I’ve researched and studied the importance, development and maintenance of trust in great relationships, I’ve only recently started to examine trust’s less attractive aspects.

Someone may grant you trust based on the belief that you will act in a certain way, even when they aren’t around—what I call conditional/behavioral trust. Without some careful consideration, this type of trust can be used as a form of control. And while there are certainly actions we are willing to assure others we won’t do, a healthier form of trust is a belief that another person is capable of making good decisions and has the best of intentions—without prescribing what those decisions might be.

When we meet a new colleague or personal friend, the world of possibility is open. We don’t really know anything about them and therefore don’t have any expectations about who they are or how they’ll behave. Their every action holds the possibility for surprise and delight.

Over time, we develop an idea of whom this person is and how they’ll act (which may or may not be accurate). Unknowingly, we created and applied an evaluative filter—an unspoken set of conditions for maintaining the trust we’ve granted. Because these expectations are implicit, they may not be aware of them, agree with them or feel it is any business of ours to begin with, and because we’ve already decided how they should behave, we’ve limited their ability to surprise or delight us in their actions. Do the right thing (in our eyes) and they are simply doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Stray from our conditions, and they’ve broken our trust.

Trust isn’t an agreement or contract; it’s a belief in the essential goodness of another human being. Humans by definition are imperfect and flawed, so be careful not to grant or accept conditional/behavioral trust as it holds the potential to dampen or even destroy an otherwise mutually rewarding relationship.

Improving Your Click-age: 6.5 Ways to Make Quick Connections

Ever meet someone and instantly connect?

Why is it that we just ‘click’ with some people, while others take a bit longer?

And some people, well… there’s no ‘click-age’ at all, ever?

The first time I met Gary Larson, he was a training executive at Bank of America and within 5 minutes my new friend felt like an old friend. He was my brother-from-another-mother and I felt an amazing sense of freedom not having to worry about what I said or how I acted.

When meeting new people we are generally well served to respect cultural norms, consider situational factors and manage our self-revelations but what can we do to speed up the process?

Interestingly, our research shows that – like many things in life – we are the problem. Most of us build invisible walls around ourselves that hold others at bay and slow the process way down.

In 1987 President Reagan challenged Gorbachev to “tear down this wall”! If you are up to the challenge, here are 6.5 ways to tear down the walls around you and invite others to connect:

  1. Immersive engagement: Be in the moment and listen fully – don’t be thinking about the brilliant thing you are going to say next,
  2. Change your perspective: Instead of extending the conversation with your amazing insights, ask your new friend to confirm your understanding of what they just said… “So what you’re saying is…?”,
  3. Don’t be too serious: While respecting the situation and your soon-to-be new friend, don’t be more serious than you need to be… think “comfortable in your own skin”,
  4. Ask for what you need: Don’t be afraid to test your new relationship with small requests. The best relationships are give-and-take affairs, so start the process early,
  5. Be enthusiastic: Energy and optimism are contagious, if you are excited, show it!
  6. Be quiet: Awkward silence is only awkward when we are on guard or feeling like we are being judged. Embracing silence is a sign of acceptance, trust and self-confidence,
6.5 Be willing to walk away: Not everyone is going to like us and that’s ok. If you’ve torn down your wall only to get the cold shoulder – move on. Getting to a “no-go” quicker gives you more time to develop friendships with other people – better people!


Just as we’ve learned to be purposeful about developing and maintaining personal relationships, wouldn’t it be wise to develop a purposeful approach to truth?

Professionally and personally, we are all pursing some external truth but truth is a moving target with a half-life.

What was true and right for our organizations last quarter might not matter or even apply this quarter and next fiscal year might be a whole new ballgame.

We seek to find truth in high-flying trends or in the practical and tactical.

Some of us abandon the details in favor of the big picture –the 50,000-foot view –but that only ensures we miss the signs and clues all-at-once, instead of one at a time.

Others follow Voltaire, who said, “The best is the enemy of the good”. Practical movement in the right direction is better than not moving until you’ve perfected your approach:

If you want to hang a picture, a stone will drive a nail but a hammer will do the job better. A Jackhammer is much better tool than a hammer and Earthmovers are miracle tools by comparison—but try hanging a picture with a Jackhammer or an Earthmover.

Whether your head is in the clouds or buried in the details, its time for truth or consequences; reevaluate your assumptions of truth or face the consequences.

In 2003, I didn’t use my smartphone much because it didn’t exist; but I did spend a lot of time shopping at Circuit City and renting movies at my local Blockbuster store. The truth that Apple saw and the truths that Circuit City and Blockbuster missed had consequences.

Market making factors and career defining decisions depend on our ability to distinguish the truth that is from the truth that was.

What to do/say and when to do/say it?

Executives, middle mangers and frontline personnel, across industries and boarders, ask me essentially the same two questions:

What do I do and when do I do it?

What do I say and when do I say it?

Creating personal and professional success boils down to getting these two questions right.

While your education, training, experience and skills many help you do and say some of the right things, getting what you desire often depends on one’s relational know-how.

Here are three basic relational preparedness tips:

  1. Curate the question: If you wait until the prize is offered you’ll be battling the pack. If you want an internship with the greatest company on earth next summer; identify people already working there this summer, engage with them now and position yourself as the obvious answer to the question they haven’t yet asked.
  2. People plan. Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum and vacuums don’t make decisions—people do! Align what you want with the wants and desires of the decision makers.
  3. Make human connections. Don’t just identify who is making the decision, find out who the decision marker IS as a person and connect with them on a personal level.

If these tips seem in anyway manipulative, you’ve missed the point.

The relational approach is not about falsely changing the minds of others, the approach is about truly changing the way you think about yourself and what you have to offer.

Doing your relational homework, knowing what motivates others and who they really are, can help you do/say what needs to be done/said and the insights you’ll need to do/say it at the right time.

1 Minute, One Relationship & One Totally New You

1 minute

In the next 60 seconds:

  • 277,000 people will log onto Facebook,
  • 100,000 tweets will be posted,
  • 100+ new LinkedIn accounts will be created…

One relationship

  • The more people that know who you are, know what you are capable of and trust you, the more likely you are to succeed…
  • Because one relationship can change your life!

One Totally New You

Everything we do and all that we are was created through our interactions with others:

  • Someone gives us a name before we know what names are,
  • We don’t select the language we speak, we mirror interactions of others and learn how to communicate based on what we see and hear others doing,
  • How we see ourselves is a reflection of the feedback (good, bad or indifferent) others share with us.


It only stands to reason that the same process that built us can be used to rebuild us!

New career?
More money?
Greater contribution?
More fit?

Every minute of everyday, you are one relationship away from creating the ‘you’, you’ve always dreamt about. And that relationship is out there in a world waiting to connect.

So, what’s on your agenda in the next 60 seconds?

I’ll Show You Mine If…

I was back on the university circuit this week, talking to college seniors about career development and, as always, I learned just as much from the students as I hope they learned from me.

Interestingly, what the students wanted to know about interview strategies was essentially the same thing sales professionals ask me all the time about prospects.

The dialogue goes something like this,

“I know that ‘opening up’ will help me develop my relationships (with interviewers or prospects) but how much is too much? Where’s the line that turns personal sharing into relationship suicide?”

To guide your self-disclosure efforts, these are a few researched rules of thumb to go by:

  • Disclosure increases with relational intimacy and the perceived need to reduce uncertainty in a relationship,
  • It tends to be reciprocal, incremental and symmetrical,
  • Likability is generally related to positive disclosure and increases with relational intimacy (negative disclosures not so much),
  • There is a curvilinear relationship between relational satisfaction and disclosure… which simply means that moderate levels of disclosure lead to the highest levels of relational satisfaction… get to that tipping point of too much disclosure and bombs away on that relationship! (1)

In the end, it all comes down to feel, experience and common sense.

Like my grandma always used to say, “Good neighbors build good fences”.

So be on the lookout for opportunities to personalize your interactions. You can go really close to the line but be wary of crossing over or… like my grandma also said, “Don’t try to hug a bear, cause you ain’t going to get what you think you’re gonna get!”


(1) Retrieved March 27, 2015 from: http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/comm321/gwalker/relationships.htm

Monologue, Dialogue and the Single Mom’s Club…

My vision for this blog was dialogue — an open forum, free flow laboratory for all of us to think about and share ideas. Over the last few months we’ve turned the corner from monologue to you and what’s on your mind… this week, Dubai-based oilman Urban Showe sent me this worthy thought…


Just watched a movie called Single Moms Club and there was a great message there that many may have missed….

The power of asking for help…

The word SINGLE means just that; no help…by yourself…

But add the word CLUB and help appears!

In the movie, a group of women from different walks of life find a way to help one another.

Networking has many forms of help, but most people don’t know how to ask for, or use, the help they have available to them. Jeff, I remember what you said when I first saw you speak,

“The power of one relationship can change your life and you never know who that person is going to be…you are one introduction away from the single most important person you’ll ever meet and who knows…you may have already met them…”

The question is how do you get there?  Ask for help.


(Paraphrased edit for form)

What are you thinking about? Write me and share your thoughts… Jeff@jeffkaplan.com

P.S.: Mr. Showe is no stranger to exploring the power of relationships.  In fact, I featured him in my last book Everybody Sells. Click HERE to read his story excerpt.