How I’m Trying To Improve My Conversations

I am an ambivert. If you don’t know, an ambivert sits neatly in the center of the introvert-extrovert spectrum. I recently finished Captivate by Vanessa Von Edwards (3 times, to be precise) and learned this. This book is all about “hacking” social interactions. After going through it I decided to go on a bit of an adventure. A social adventure. And just in time for my friends’ wedding shower.

Someone out there decided to make me their Best Man. And with great power comes the responsibility of setting up wedding showers. Leading up to the big day I was getting a bit anxious. Not about the event being successful. I was anxious about the prospect of meeting people. The reason?, I’m bad at conversation.

So it happened that by dumb luck and star alignment I discovered Captivate just in time to put a few tricks up my sleeve in anticipation of the party. I decided to implement these social techniques as a bit of a social adventure. By no means was I perfect, but I walked out of there calm and with a few positive testimonials about my humor.

So let’s talk about the three “hacks” I utilized at the party:

1. Body Language Manipulation

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The first alteration I made was to adjust my body language. I made sure I wasn’t slouching. I made eye contact with everyone and I smiled. These were the first and easiest to do. What was more difficult was to take my hands out of my pockets.

Hands indicate intention. It’s the reason we shake hands as a greeting. Seeing people’s hands puts others at ease.With my hands out of my pockets I could make hand motions which are more engaging.

Adjusting the body was a good start. It was also not overly intimidating because the only discussion I had to have about this was with myself.

2.Work In The Five Whys.

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The founder of Toyota Motor Company developed a technique for digging deeper into the failures at the company. The idea is that you ask Five Why Questions that help the person you are talking to get into more detail and eventually you will get to the root of the problem. By focusing on the reasons instead of the facts, you can get in to deeper conversation.

After finding a topic which we shared mutual interest. I focused on what it was about the topic that the person I was talking to liked. I found out why one person likes her job. I had another conversation where we raved about how much we enjoy exercising because of the various ways that the body is interconnect. I even learned about the 5 stages of habit building, which was super interesting.

It was a small shift the yielded strong benefits. Looking to get people talking about why they like something brought forth a very strong and genuine response from people. And since enjoy seeing people excited. It made the day easier.

3.Weave the Thread (Theory).

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Thread Theory is the idea that you take a trigger word from the previous sentence and make it into the focus of the next. For instance I was talking with a friend and he was telling me about school. We were discussing theater and I wanted to bring it further. So I asked if he was in the theater program. He said know, but mentioned dance. From there I asked about his dancing.

A few minute later I learned that he will be going to school for dance/physical therapy, The Thread looked something like this:

Theater > Dance > College > Majors > Dance/Physical Therapy

I was able to learn five distinct pieces of information by just following where the conversation brought itself naturally. By honing in on the a keyword and bringing that up again the conversations kept progressing.


Like I said I wasn’t perfect. At one point I accidentally called the Bride’s younger brother a less politically correct version of a brat (I meant it lovingly) and the Maid of Honor did not understand the sarcasm. Luckily my friend (The Bride) thought it was funny. But these are just three of thirteen different “hacks” that Captivate offers. Moving forward in the next few weeks, this has become my newest adventure. I am looking to create more valuable conversations. If this interests you I would encourage you to look into Captivate.

So do you have any interesting conversation starters? Or do you have a social blunder to share? I would love to hear about how you thrive in your own social adventure in the comment section below and if you like what you are reading I encourage you to follow me. I will be posting every Monday and the next post will be on 6/18. So thank you for your time! Go find an adventure today!

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.

Why I Am Making A List Of 100 Adventures.

If you are like me, you have those few things that you have always wanted to do. My list includes: driving across country, visiting every state, visiting every continent, and seeing the Northern Lights. The creation of this “bucket list” provides a concrete guide of what to do before you die. This has always been a morbid way of looking at it. Rather than seeing a checklist before death. I prefer to look at it as a list of things that will remind you how to live.

This past weekend I was Stage Managing Tedx Asbury Park. This conference is a meeting of some interesting thought leaders all centered around a particular theme. This year’s theme was passion. Here I met a man named Sebastian Terry who talked about his website: 100things.com.au . The whole premise of his website is to provide a platform for people to create and manage their own lists.

What makes the site special is the community. I spent a good portion of the day sifting through the site and the community is strong. The site offers a way for people to experience their list items together providing encouragement and sometimes even funds to help. Lists includes Jacky from Hong Kong who wants to go to a nude beach, Roberto from Berlin who wants to get arrested and, now, The Boy with the Bear who wants to take swing classes. You can become friends with each other and become part of each other’s adventures in a way that only the internet can allow.

Meeting Sebastian ignited a fire, so I decided to start my own. Here are the 3 reasons why I made my adventure list:

1. It Helps Me Best Indecision.

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Deciding what to do sucks. I don’t want to decide which restaurant to go to or what me and my friends are going to do this weekend. It’s a lot of pressure, especially when you need to decide on the spot. What if I had a document that I filled with a series of things I want to do?

Having it already predetermined allows me to have something to fall back on in times where your mind is cloudy or the pressure is on. I can pair this with a technique that is similar to how I described besting boredom previously, and create a powerful tool. So I can say, “When I can’t decide what I want to do one night, I will pull out my 100 Things and do one the next one available to me.” This allows me to have a clear structure in place. Tools like this help make adventuring easy.

2. It Reminds Me That I Have Dreams.

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The Everyday and the Mundane is distracting. That is just what life is. I always get caught in a string of unintentional tasks that need to get completed. The more the days and weeks and months go on, the easier and easier it is to forget about the things that I want. In their place I accidentally ended up living a quarter of my year for someone else. Having a list of things you want to do helps to remind you of what you want.

The list are goals. So if I review it periodically I have the ability to realign my perspective. This can help remind me I do have dreams and can live a life working toward them.

3. I Get To Track Your Progress and Gamify

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Who doesn’t like to see progress? Part of the reason I used to get caught up in different video games and gaming apps is because of the constant witnessing my progress. By listing out my 100 Things I can work toward them and watch me move forward one thing at a time. I like what Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness does. He helps to Gamify his list(quests) by assigning each experience points and watching your character leveling up.

Progression is a motivator for me. Momentum is huge and the more I see myself completing different tasks, the more I ask myself, “Okay, what’s next?” Recently I went on an amazing trip to Utah with one of my best friends. Before we even left we were loving it so much that we were trying to decide where to go next. Progress and experience is addicting. I will use my list to tap into that.


So these are why I plan to use my list to help me adventure even more. I intend to fill the list up with a series of one day, weekend and even lifelong adventures for me to complete. It may take me a little while to get to 100, but even while I compile my list I will start to check off certain things. Sooner than later I hope to complete everything on my list and then make another one. It’s fun that life works that way.

So I challenge you to make make a list. Is 100 too much? No problem. Write down 10 things you have always wanted to do and start working towards doing them. Add more as you can. Nothing is to short or too small. And if you need help, there is always a community out there looking to help at 100things.com.au .

Do you have a list of things you wish to accomplish? How far along are you into it. I would love to hear from you in the comment section below and if you like what you are reading I encourage you to follow me. I will be posting every Monday and the next post will be on 6/4. So thank you for your time! Go find an adventure today!

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.

An Introduction To The Resistance And The Basic Ways To Best It.

Today we talk about the dark side of the force. Whether you call it Fear, The Lizard Brain or The Resistance it has one goal, to keep you from doing anything new. In the past I have discussed all the positive ways I have lived my life adventuring every day. However, today we talk a bit about all the fear and doubts that precede the goals.
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For years I grappled with the resistance without even knowing what it was. Anytime I went to try something new I was assaulted by an anxiety that I could not control. Regardless of if I was traveling, going to a job interview, starting a new job, joining a new hobby group, he was there. He was like my shadow, always attached to me, and the closer I got to any light the darker he would get.
Currently, he is still here. He never does truly go away. However, with a lot of practice I have learned how to tame him more frequently. With the help of Steven Pressfield I was able to give a name to the enemy and analyze his form. So I’m going to talk about what The Resistance is and what the most basic thing you need to do to combat it.

What is the Resistance?

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.  Resistance is experienced as fear…” Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.
The Resistance is the fear that you experience when you think about writing your book. The Resistance is the urge to eat the cake when you are cutting sugar. The resistance is the mental exhaustion you feel before you go for a run. The Resistance is invisible, insidious, internal and infallible. He hates change. He wants to keep you on the couch, keep you filing papers, keep you comfortable, yet miserable. He is the voice in your head telling you to ignore the call to action.
He is the under-evolved lizard-brain. It’s primitive programming that still sees conformity as the safest tribal response to social stimuli. It says it is easier to agree than to fight the status quo. It is the complacency that gyms rely on when they oversell memberships knowing 80% of the people who sign up won’t come.
The Resistance is the enemy of any adventure you want to experience, because it fears the unknown. Its primary objective is to keep you exactly where it is comfortable, even if it’s not what’s best for you.

How to fight it?

Start- I find that The Resistance is strongest before you start. Taking the first steps tends to be the hardest part. But once you do each step gets slightly and slightly easier. I recently performed at an open mic. It was the first time I have ever done something like this before and I was resisting, intensely. I was tapping my leg on the ground and breathing deeply. All the while, my heart was pounding. Then I got up there.
You know what? As soon as I started it got easier. I was able to read without a hitch. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the right step. To Start.
Continue- Things are going to get tough. In the middle of the adventure there is going to come a point where the momentum dies and the temptation to drift will happen. This is especially common for people with a lot of ideas. I recently came up with an idea that I love for a podcast. I love podcasts and have been looking for an exciting topic that I can become passionate about.
This is just a distraction trying to prevent me from focusing on the goals I have set. The Resistance can even manifest itself in the image of something positive. The goal here, refocus yourself and continue;.
Finish-  I recently experienced a pull to quit when trying to run 9 miles for the first time. When I ran 8 miles the week before I did not have any problems. But for some reason this one was different. I got halfway and all of a sudden the various shadows came into the back of my mind. All of them trying to get me to stop. I could not focus and the whole time my mind was screaming to give in.
Needless to say I finished. When doubt fills you telling you that you can’t finish. Prove him wrong and do just that. Shipping will make the next time you meet The Resistance that much easier to combat and honestly, the sense of achievement alone is worth it.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The Resistance is the enemy. He feeds into your own fears trying to prevent you from achieving your new goals. You can combat him by Starting, Continuing and Finishing. By practicing these you are on your way to defeating him. There is still so much to talk on the topic of The Resistance and it is probably my favorite topic in all of Personal Development. Next week I will go a little deeper into to how to overcome The Resistance. But until then:
 
In what ways have your felt The Resistance? Have you defeated him before? I would love to hear from you in the comment section below and if you like what you are reading I encourage you to follow me. I will be posting 2-3 times a weeks and next post will be on  Monday 5/21. So thank you for your time! Go live your Day to Day Adventure.
More soon.
John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.

3 Suggestions to Finding Day to Day Adventure

People do not like to be bored. Yet far too often we spend our free time doing the same things we always do. Recently I spent an entire day by myself. My phone was off, I packed lunch and some snacks and drove out to a reservoir at a nearby park. There I sat by a fountain, constantly getting hit by the spray I just sat there writing. It was great. I felt refreshed and clean by the end of the day.

Finding time like this is difficult. I am a freelancer. Admittedly, I have more flexibility than the average person. However, I am never at a lack for important things to fill my calendar. Work demands, family responsibilities, bills and  errands pepper my calendar always. Despite that, I’m here to suggest three actions you can take today that are highly effective at increasing the time I have available for the things that provide relief from boredom and allow me to fill my life with day-to-day adventures. They are:


1. Ride the Wave of Motivation:

A few weeks back I was discussing with my friend that I wanted to take a topography and map reading course. I am notoriously bad at navigating and I am tired of getting lost on trails. I got home that day and sat on my computer and remembered that conversation. So I found myself on REI.com checking their schedule of courses.I signed up on the spot.

Had I not done that the odds of me signing up would have dropped significantly. If you want to try new things you need to ride the wave of motivation as they come. Because the new does not like to come to fruition. Your lizard brain wants to keep you on the couch or at your computer doing nothing out of the ordinary. It wants your to be comfortable.

Use the motivation when it come and act on it and make sure you:

2. Schedule it:

Put it on your calendar. It is proven that you are more likely to do something that is on your calendar. By keeping things open-ended you give the universe thousands of opportunities to get in the way. By scheduling it you have created a commitment to yourself, to a teachers or class, to your wallet (if the event costs), or perhaps to friends or colleagues. You have incentive to follow through.

Scheduling it creates accountability and allows you to say, “Sorry I have a commitment,” if something tries to take that time slot. Of all of the habits I am proud to have fostered, this one is the most effective for my productivity. By scheduling almost everything I have been able to hold myself accountable in a way that I never have before and those grand workout plans and classes that I have always wanted to take actually find their way into my life.

This is all because I have been able to:

3. Prioritize them:

You get home from work. You make dinner and you eat. Then you sit down at the computer or television and watch hours of YouTube videos and baking shows. I recently asked my father why he does not draw anymore. His answer? I don’t have time. Shenanigans. I told him to find time. He scoffed at me asking, “Where am I supposed to find time?”

What I was too afraid to say was, “How about during the 4 hours of TV you watch every night after work?”

Everyone has the same amount of time in a day. What do you want to spend your time doing? You can spend four hours watching TV. That is fine, but do not complain that you do not have time to write or draw or run or garden. You do, you just chose to do something else instead. What your prioritize is your own choice. I respect whatever priorities you have selected.


I challenge you to take some of that time you spend on TV or searching the internet and read or write or go for a walk. You may discover that you like the way you feel more when you get your mind and body moving. Or sign up for that course you’ve always been interested in and put it in your calendar. It may provide the inspiration you need to get your life moving toward the adventure you crave.

So do you practice any of these three actions already? Or better yet, do you have one I didn’t mention? Let’s compare.

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear