Category Archives: Business

How I remembered the names of almost everyone I met at MicroConf

If you take five minutes right now to learn the skill of remembering people’s names, I promise it will be one of the highest-ROI activities you’ve ever carried out.

The reason I make this bold claim is that remembering a person’s name is one of the best ways to instantly make a deposit in that person’s Emotional Bank Account and to make that person like you. Conversely, a failure to remember a person’s name is an indicator to that person that you don’t consider him or her important. You’ll make a withdrawal from that person’s Emotional Bank Account before you’ve even made any deposits and you’ll damage the relationship right off the bat.

(By the way, I failed at remembering people’s names a couple times at MicroConf but not nearly as many times as I succeeded.)

You’ll instantly get better at remembering people’s names if you learn one simple fact: The problem isn’t that you forget a person’s name. The problem is that you never really learned the person’s name in the first place.

At conferences you’re often introduced to people in groups. As you greet each person in the group and hear each person’s name, there are a number of things you might be doing simultaneously, such as judging the other person’s appearance, thinking about your own behavior and how you’re coming off, continuing to digest whatever was said right before you heard the person’s name, having an unrelated thought pop into your head, or any number of other things. By the time you hear the third person’s name, you’ve already forgotten the first person’s name.

The solution to this problem is to pay very close attention to each person’s name as it’s said and to take a couple steps to deeply imprint the name in your mind. When I met my new friend Ed at the conference I said, “Ed? Nice to met you, Ed. So, Ed, what do you do?” It might sound slightly silly but it feels pretty natural. It’s really very difficult to overuse someone’s name. People love hearing their own names.

That takes care of hearing the name but how do you lock it down permanently? I do a few things. One is to come up with a concept to pair up with the person’s name. I met a guy named Dele at the conference. I’m a big Hieroglyphics fan so I immediately thought of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, which was my mnemonic device for Dele. In college I met a girl at a party named Cate who I called “Cool, Awesome and Totally Excellent”. That was my (stupid) mnemonic device for her (but effective!). Another thing I sometimes do is to imagine the first letter of the person’s name imprinted on the person’s forehead as I’m talking to the person. Believe it or not, it works. Lastly, the simple repetition of the person’s name throughout the conversation is usually quite effective in permanently implanting that name in your brain. You can repeat the person’s name out loud or just in your head to yourself.

Put these into practice and you can avoid the embarrassment of forgetting people’s names. People will be impressed by your “good memory” and you’ll be more likable because you’re signaling to the other person that you like him or her and consider him or her important enough to remember.

If you were at MicroConf 2016 and you and I didn’t get to talk, I want to meet you. Please send me an email at and tell me what you do and we can be friends.

Million Dollar Consulting

I believe I first read Million Dollar Consulting by Alan Weiss in 2011. I thought it sucked, and I thought most of it didn’t apply to me. I thought it only applied to fancy consultants who worked exclusively for huge companies.

Over the course of the next five years I kept hearing about it, so I decided to give it another look. This time around it seemed like an entirely different book. I was clearly just not ready for its advice the first time I read it. This is a wonderful example of the fact that what you get out of a book depends on more than just what’s in the book. A book’s value equals the book’s information multiplied by who you are at the time. If you gain knowledge or have additional experiences between two readings of the same book, you might see the book in a totally different light. You might grow “hooks” that catch parts of the book you didn’t catch the first time around.

One of the things that stuck out most for me on this reading of Million Dollar Consulting was the importance of relationships as it pertains to getting clients. The author said people don’t go googling for consultants and I think for the most part he’s right. There’s too much trust necessary in hiring a consultant to just find one online and hire him. My understanding is that people like this are usually sought out via referrals. This got me thinking about how to develop good relationships with high-caliber people. One way that I’m doing this now is through my BNI group. I’ve gotten one client via BNI so far, a really good one. Another way I’ve found to form good relationships is by attending conferences.

Another takeaway from the book was the idea of getting strong “conceptual agreement” to a project before presenting the proposal. My understanding of Alan’s sales process is that by the time they get to the proposal/contract, it’s just a formality. They’ve already talked enough about the project by that time that the client is already totally onboard with the project.

I also gained a new term from reading this book that I don’t know how I lived without before, and I don’t know how I missed it the first time. The term is market gravity which in my understanding is how easy it is for you to attract clients. I used to think that the way to smooth out the boom-and-bust cycle of freelancing was to work for a number of clients at a time. I tried working that way for a while and it’s fucking horrible. What I believe now is that it’s best to have one client at a time and to cultivate the ability to quickly and easily spin up a new client engagement at the time your current engagement ends.

I would definitely recommend this book to any freelancer. If it doesn’t seem good the first time around, maybe give it some time and read it again.

How to be a good mentee

  • Make the mentorship convenient for the mentor. As the mentee, you should handle scheduling any meetings. A good way to schedule meetings is not to ask “What time works for you?” but to ask “Would any of the following times work?” and then list the times. When you meet, come prepared with specific things to talk about.
  • Show the mentor you’re taking his or her advice. Busy, successful people are especially sensitive to wasting time. Nobody wants to invest time in giving advice to a loser who’s not actually going to put the advice to use. So when a mentor gives you advice, take the advice, and let the mentor know you did, and what happened as a result.
  • Have clear goals and a clear agenda which you share with your mentor. The purpose of a mentor, in my mind, is to help you achieve some particular thing. It will help the mentor help you if he or she knows what you’re trying to accomplish. So decide what your goals are and share those goals with your mentor.

Side note: when seeking out a mentor, don’t limit yourself. I’ve been surprised by some of the famous/wealthy/busy people who have agreed to mentor me.