I want to start with a very big disclaimer: I am a big fat nobody! I am not just saying that to be humble. Ask my wife if you don't believe me.
Ever since I was 19-years-old I have been somewhat in the spotlight. When I was a sophomore in college I was an intern for a radio station's morning show. People that listened to that radio station knew me as Intern Harry Larry. Being on the radio, most people have no clue who you are. But every once in a while, someone will find out and say, "hey, you're that guy that they made eat yellow snow"!
For just about half my life, I've had a job that people are interested in. My first internship out of college was for was a big time radio show in LA and everyone had questions about the hosts. I've been at TV stations and radio stations and I've gotten the, "what's so and so like" question about a million times. People usually want to know about my job as well. We'll call it the "glamoressness" of my career!
I remember the first time that I hosted a real morning show myself. At radio station events people would always come up and want to talk. They'd ask me questions. I always thought that was funny because every morning I would be sharing about myself on the show. So when I would meet fans of the show (yes I had fans), I would always say, "you know all about me already, what about you?"
I have a muuuuuuuuuch lower profile job then I used to, but every now and again someone will come up and want to meet me. It's always a kooky experience. But the most recent incident involved my mother-in-law wanting to introduce me to her friend because she knew he listened to me all the time. That was flattering. Having someone tell my mother-in-law, "wow, can you introduce me to Larry?"
It was a long time family friend and it was great. And I don't know how to describe the experience, but when you're in the situation when someone wants to meet you...you get this feeling like you want to talk at them. It's like they are staring at you and saying, "can you give me a private TEDtalk about your life please?"
For some reason this alarm always goes off in my head telling me that it's this other person's chance to talk to me, I already got to talk to them when they heard me on the radio. This particular person heard me giving a traffic report and I immediately asked him where he worked and how long it took to get there. It led to a great discussion about his life and morning routine.
A great discussion considering I was about 5 seconds away from giving him a 10 minute lecture on the finer points of being a bonafide traffic reporter. But instead I asked questions of him and in turn I got to put a face to my unknown audience. I get to think of Ed when I'm giving my traffic reports and thinking that he actually cares about what I am saying makes me better at my job.
How many times does this happen in real life? Maybe it's when one of your children asks you a question or a co-worker compliments you or someone you meet at a party likes your profession. We feel as if this person has just entitled us to give them a discourse on the meaning of life.
You know what these people are looking for? Connection! The guy in his car wants to know what the guy giving his traffic report looks like and he also wants someone else to know that he drives for an hour each way to work to provide for his family.
When an actual person is standing in front of you, and starts off a conversation with a flattering comment, they probably don't want a lecture (they can go get that on YouTube). They want a connection! But what do you want? Do you want to feel important and talk at someone and make sure they know you are a big deal and that yes, you do live up to the standard of the compliment they just gave you?
Or....... are you waiting for people to open up the door just a little bit so that you can start a real conversation and make a real connection? It's not easy. Flattery puts us in a mood to flap our mouths about ourselves. Wanting to build connections is a mindset. Stop Talking. Ask Questions. Change The World.
Just in case I haven't mentioned, I am not a big deal. I am in fact just a scumbag traffic reporter!