Interpersonal Skills | Foundation 6 – Lesson 4

Go back to Job Search Prep Syllabus.

This is another topic I’ve blogged about at some length. In fact, almost everything you need is included in two videos:

Definitely take a few minutes and watch both of them.

Now, here’s what’s missing:

First, “you never know.” This video is a demo I cut that highlights the fact you need to be “on” all the time. One day when I have a final version, I’ll post that… in the meantime, I think you’ll get a kick out of seeing what a rough cut looks like, and the content is the same anyway… so here you are:

Second, the biggest hang up I find recent grads have when selling themselves is that they can’t possibly fathom what value they could bring to an organization. They—and by “they” I include my younger self here, too—are so scared they’ll be called out as lightweights/rookies/neophytes/tyros/beginners that they lose their confidence and freeze right when it counts the most.

Heck, I can remember reaching for a cup of coffee in one interview and discovering in horror that my hand was shaking.


So let’s peel back the curtain for a minute and help you get some confidence. The following things are impolite, generally unspoken, and in one case, potentially discriminatory. They are also true:

  • Your value starts with your youth. Your energy is refreshing, open, and innocent. It’s literally attractive. Most people can’t articulate that, but we all feel it. If you’re closed, sarcastic, and bitter, you lose this value. And if you mention it, you’re committing age discrimination. Still, the law doesn’t change human nature.It’s like my handsome friend who couldn’t get a date until we convinced him to just shut his trap and let his looks do the work for him. Relax: the fact that you’re young already works to your advantage.
  • Your value continues with the fact that you’re cheap. You’re in a horrible negotiating position, and everyone involved knows it. Rather than make a token, futile attempt to negotiate salary, try stating the obvious: “Look, I’m so excited that I get to start learning on someone else’s dime now, I’ll work my butt off just to say thank you, you know?”
  • More value from the fact that you’ve got energy. Your life isn’t compartmentalized yet into spouse, kids, ex-spouse, mortgage(s), boss-who-used-to-be-your-subordinate-who-you-still-don’t-know-how-to-interact-with, etc. You haven’t been beaten down, turned out, or washed up. You’re fresh and unencumbered, so you can devote all that energy to the task at hand.
  • Lastly, as nutty as this sounds, your idealism is important. Yes, the world is going to try and pound it out of you, but the world needs it, too. To paraphrase Churchill, “A young man who is not an idealist has no heart. (And an old man who is not a conservative has no brains.)” It’s part of a natural cycle.

All you have to do to convey these things is… be yourself. It doesn’t matter what the subject is: you can be talking about databases, trips to Guatemala, or the state of the interstate in Upper Michigan; it doesn’t matter. When you relax, these things come through. You sell these qualities by embodying them… you don’t say, “Hi, I’m high energy!” You just are high energy and let it come through your words.


This is about as “flighty” an assignment as you’ll get from me, and it’s about singing from your toes: Concentrate on filling the room with your presence. That’s it. For 24 hours, anytime you walk into a room—of any size, from an elevator to a lecture hall—concentrate on filling it with your energy. I am being dead serious here, too. Look at the people, and then look at the space between them. From the floor to the ceiling, door to the back wall, imagine an ephemeral you that can expand out and fill that space even while the permanent, corporeal you remains within your body. Everything you do for 24 hours should center around the idea of projection: the way you stand, sit, breathe, speak, and move should all be about extending and making yourself bigger. When I do it, I think of it as “shifting my consciousness” so that I am bigger than the situation… I try to take a bird’s eye view of everything that’s going on.

No cop outs. Do this, and I promise you, you will feel different tomorrow when the experiment is over: you will feel a bit tired. You may also feel a bit more confident. I know this sounds strange, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one: project out. Sing from your toes.

People will notice.

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