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


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.


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).

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: . 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.


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.


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


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 .

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.

How Learning To Speak My Love Languages Changed Me.

Do you love yourself correctly? I used to question if I loved myself at all. I would feel overwhelmed and lonely and would lack energy. All qualities I wasn’t fond of. I thought this all was a symptom of lack of love for myself.

One of the few things that would make me feel good would be hiking. I would go into the woods by myself and just walk for hours. Afterwards I would have this upswing of energy that would sustain me for a while. Then learned about daily affirmations and I fell in love with them.

In his blog, Maximizing You Potential, Jack Canfield writes,” Daily affirmations are simple, positive statements declaring specific goals in their completed states.”

By repeating 10 or so positive statements about myself daily I was able to change my outlook on life. I felt better. Taking this time alone with myself to repeat these affirmations would remind me what I wanted and how I was going to get there.

Then I read Gary Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages. In the book he describes the five different ways that people tend to show love: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Gifting Giving, and Physical Touch. I took his online quiz to find mine: #1 Words of Affirmations, #2 Quality Time.

I realized, until then, I was never speaking to myself in the correct language. My love for affirmations explained why I felt great when I started speaking positively to myself. And my love for quality time explains why a hike alone worked wonders for me. So I committed to speak to myself in my two primary love languages.

So I continued to practice daily affirmations. Slowly I committed to giving myself more time off from work and additional time to be with myself. And as I did, I noticed improvements I didn’t expected.

1. Improved Energy and Sleep Cycle.


I was able to get through the day so much easier. Normally I would start to crash in the mid afternoon and not be able to recover. I would get home and stay up until 2am and wake up for work miserably tired. The more I practiced my love languages the more I was able to sleep better at night. This created energy that I use to fuel a series of adventures that I had neglected over the years. My excuse was always, I am too tired. By speaking to myself with affirmations and quality time I was able to remove that excuse from my library and motivate me to go adventuring.

2. Improved Discipline


This energy has allowed me to be more productive. I had energy to start changing the  habits I was never overly fond of. I took the “fact” that I was undisciplined and lacked willpower and flipped it on its head. One habit at a time I started to change the narrative of my own life. I disciplined myself to practice affirmations, then to build in quality time, then to work out, then to eat better, then to adventure weekly. The more I committed to changing for the better, the easier altering each subsequent habit. This productivity and discipline has allowed me to experience progress in many of my goals.

3. Improved Confidence.


Confidence is important. I believe that you are never truly more yourself than when you are confident. My confidence is directly related to my self worth. People who are truly confident have such an unwavering belief in their system. It’s inspiring. By practicing my love languages I began to feel a shift toward this. I smiled more, became naturally more extroverted, and it became even easier to try new adventures. By having faith in who I am, The Resistance has gotten weaker. I smile more, my head is high and my shoulders are back. I am more open with people and myself than ever before.

4. Improved Happiness.


I am happier. I was always relatively happy before, but since I started treating myself correctly the average day is better. The happiness informs my responses to the situations around me. I react more positively which keeps my mind more open to out of the box solutions. I am able to bring life to my life simply because the happiness is internal. It is completely self created and self earned. So I believe it is here to stay.

Few things feel better than being loved. No one wants to suffer on their adventure. Everyone wants to be happy: before, during and after. By practicing my primary love languages on myself I have brought more happiness to my adventures. So I challenge you to find out which love languages you prefer and practice them on yourself. If you need references on how to love yourself in your own language look to these posts:

By practicing my love languages I have started on a new adventure. The adventure to love myself. Which might just be the most important adventure of them all.

So what are your primary love languages? In what ways can you improve the how you love yourself in the future? 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’ve decided to switch to a once a week post schedule and next post will be on Monday 5/28. I have decided that I want to be consistent and with my other career, scaling back will allow me to be reliable. So thank you for your time! Go love yourself and find an adventure today!

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.