I was listening to a story about a water hole.
It started out with some salient details--setting the scene, making it come alive. The person had obviously read a lot of books, because she was throwing out interesting facts right and left. The population of a country, the size in geographic terms, the most common career.
I felt like I was sitting at the feet of an emotionally intelligent person who knew how to hold people in the palm of her hands. And it all came down to one simple principle.
For starters, I was really clued in, because the point of the story was about how Australian cattle farmers tend to use two radically different strategies to maintain their ranch. She said you can either build a fence or a water hole. If you build a water hole, it's a lot cheaper. And a lot more effective. Besides, she said, no one likes to repair a fence all day.
What made this person so interesting wasn't just that she knew a lot about cattle farming or a country, and it wasn't that she had read books. She had a storytellers instinct, which helped. But what really made her special is that there was a much wider, deeper, and more relevant point to her story. She held our attention because we wanted to apply what she was saying. We all either build fences or water holes. In marketing, for example, we attract or we box in. In our relationships, we use honey or we use vinegar.
I thought: There are a lot of implications for people starting companies.
In the end, we listened because, in the core of our being, we need something, a little meat--a lesson to take home with us. We are often drawn to someone because they are funny, or charismatic, or weird. But we are held in their aura because they are helping us with some fundamental, raw, and rudimentary need. Isn't that why TED talks exist?
We want to grow as humans. We want to adapt. We want to grow.
Do you want to be the most interesting person in the room? It's all about making light bulb moments for people, and being relevant and interesting enough that they want to listen to what you say and clue in to your advice.
Think of what makes people uninteresting. Selfishness, lack of being relevant, ideas you've heard a million times before. When a really interesting person is around, it's not just because of charisma or leadership skills that makes you want to listen. The truly memorable people have something fresh to offer, and you want a piece of it. To become that person, it takes hard work. You have to read books, you have to learn how to have a higher emotional intelligence, you have to pay attention to details.
Politicians know this. If you ever see a politician in person, you might notice they tend to walk on stage and start reading the room first. (President Bill Clinton was a master at this.) They pause, they shake hands. Why are they doing that? Because they know by reading the room they can become more interesting and relevant. They can relay information to the crowd that feeds them and doesn't bore them.
Try starting with just one person.
Maybe it's your spouse, maybe a friend. Figure out how to be more interesting by relaying information and empathy in a way that make that person feel like the time spent with you is worth it. Become keenly aware of how relevant you are to just one person.
In a group, ask questions, read body language--become intentional. The more you can read the room, become helpful, show empathy, and spark creativity in others, the better.
Be the spark that ignites excitement in others. That makes you interesting.