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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #152: Are You Interested or too Busy Trying to Be Interesting?

September 2, 2021
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #152: Are You Interested or too Busy Trying to Be Interesting?

Dale Carnegie once said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Today, Chris and Perry talk about how you can increase your interest in others to drive more connection and engagement.

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Read the Transcript:

Perry Holley:    Welcome to the John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast where our goal is to help you increase your expectation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:     And I’m Chris Goede, Vice President of the John Maxwell Company. Welcome, and thank you for joining us once again. Hey, as a reminder, when we get started, we always like to just let you know, Perry has done a blog. He’s done a learner’s guide on some of the content we’re talking about. If you’d love to access that, or if you want to leave a question or a comment about some content that we have discussed, we would absolutely love to hear from you. Go to, and you can access those resources there. Well, today’s topic, you guys know if you follow along, I love to give Perry a hard time cause I think these are always intervention titles, and they’re always a lot of fun. But sometimes I do feel like they’re personal and I’m not sure yet about this one, but let me talk to you about it.

Today’s topic is… Are you interested or too busy trying to be interesting? What a great question to ask as leaders. And I believe this comes from a Dale Carnegie quote, where he says, ‘you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years, by trying to get other people interested in you.’

Perry Holley:    That’s right.

Chris Goede:     And I don’t know if it’s intervention, but I do know some people that came to my mind that I think about when you do this title, but Perry talk to us a little bit about it.

Perry Holley:    You got it right. I was intrigued by some leaders that I’ve been around, that seemed to be, well, I don’t know. Have you ever worked for a leader who wanted to be the center of attention and make themselves appear very interesting to others? I mean, how did that make you feel? How engaged or committed were you to the cause when that happens?

Chris Goede:     Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I think all of us can relate to that question and I absolutely think it’s something that we should even be paying attention to in how we go about leading our teams and our people and meetings. I often hear one of our facilitators talk about when we’re with organizations, they say, Hey, when you leave a group of people, do you want them to feel like they’re the smartest people in the room or do they want to go, man, that was the smartest individual I’ve ever met. And I think that is something that as leaders we ought to be very aware of. And you can always tell those leaders that are all about themselves and… Or those that are all about the organization or the team. And here’s where I feel like you can really feel it, is in the leadership culture of the organization.

You can see it in the leader, but I think you can feel it in the culture. And that’s what Perry and I are trying to really just help you, your team and your organization is around the leadership culture. I think this is one thing that is very evident. John says it’s the difference between the team feeling motivated or manipulated. And we talk about that with influence. There’s a very fine line between influence and manipulation. And I think it’s the same thing here we need. We need to make sure we’re aware of that. How does a leader be more interested than trying to be interesting?

Perry Holley:    Thank you for asking. I thought I could come up with five ways.

Chris Goede:     Yes.

Perry Holley:    Yes, I knew you’d like that a lot.

Chris Goede:     This is intervention, but at least you went back to my number five.

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Perry Holley:    Yes. The first way, and I really think that if you did nothing else, this would cover a lot of the problem was become more others-oriented. As John likes to say, we were just on a previous podcast, you brought this up, so I captured it again, was that with one small exception, the rest of the world is made up of other people. Being others-oriented means that you focus outward, not inward. You put others ahead of yourself. We’ve been talking about this over a few podcasts about how to be more observant and how to notice things that are going on and situationally aware, others aware. And I think this is a key component of being interested is thinking about others first.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. When you do that from the other standpoint, you’ll hear it talked about as far as a servant leader. And I think that’s what we’re really talking about is having that servant leadership mindset where your perspective is on others first. And when you do that naturally will drive your interest in others. You’ll become more curious, which is one of our favorite words to talk about on the podcast. Number two, be more curious, which I just mentioned about the people around you. Not only, maybe those that let’s say you’re a leader and you have the privilege of leading people that report directly to you, but we’re talking about your leader. We’re talking about your peers, we’re talking about what we call the 360 degree influence or leader, where we want you to make sure that the observation of those around you from a 360 degree is something that you’re thinking about when it comes to this.

Perry Holley:    I’m really glad that you added the up, down and cross component at 360, because we do things so many times, it’s about those that report to us. But it’s being curious about others and being others-oriented is in every direction. And being more interested than interesting is not just about the people that report to you. It is that 360. And curious is not just about asking more questions. This has been a big learning for me that curious is about wanting to know more about the people in your circle and what makes them interesting. I think I said it on a podcast before I’d pick this up somewhere that somebody said, are you asking questions or you being curious? I thought, isn’t that the same thing? And they said, no, when you’re asking questions, you’re trying to make someone prove they know something. If you’re being curious, you’re trying to learn something.

Chris Goede:     That’s good.

Perry Holley:    And I thought that really was a flip in my brain to help me change that when I’m asking questions, am I really being curious about that? Number three, I said was just being more observant. This is something we’ve talked about on a previous podcast or two, but I just think that it’s such an important skill to practice and improve on to stop looking around, which is really passive and start being observant, which is an active skill.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. As Perry mentioned, I totally agree with you. And we’ve done a couple of podcasts previously about observation. And so I’d encourage you to go back and listen to those if you haven’t, because I completely agree with you and what you want to observe when we talk about this is not only the people on your team, but also the environment and that they are operating in and how they function in that environment. We talk a lot about observing people. Here, we’re talking a little bit about how do you observe in the environment of which they’re working in and how they function in that? What are they great at doing? Where are they struggling in that environment? What roadblocks do they face that you can help with? And so, by doing that, you’re developing your interest in their professional success, their KPIs, whatever they might be inside their work environment. Number four, be interested in their overall wellbeing.

And this is a big conversation. Matter of fact, we did a podcast about this a couple of weeks ago as well in regards to the wellbeing of our team. But this has been big because many leaders really are only interested in the performance of the individual. The outcomes are, as Perry and I would like to talk about, the level three part of the Five Levels of Leadership. It’s like, Hey, what have you done for me lately? What have you done for the organization lately? And those are important for sure, no doubt about it. We all have to have KPIs and we got to hold people accountable, but if they’re struggling with other parts of their life, then they will not be able to give their best effort for you at work. And I think if you’re interested in that, instead of trying to be interesting, then I think that will definitely help grow not only their engagement, but also it’ll show that you’re more interested in them.

Perry Holley:    Right. Totally agree. And that being mentally, physically and spiritually strong adds to people’s ability to perform their jobs.

Chris Goede:     And that’s such a big deal right now with everything that’s going on and what we’ve all been through. So I think that’s huge.

Perry Holley:    Number five, the last one that I had today was be interested in their dreams and aspirations. And so not just about what they’re doing today, but what do they want to do tomorrow? And instead of always thinking about where I’m going in my career, I want really want to move that focus to where each of the people on my team want to go in their career. And people notice when you do that, they know when you have an active interest in their future, you become a lot more interesting to them.

Chris Goede:     Yeah. And I think nowadays we’re seeing a lot of people that are joining organizations because they see the opportunity of career pathing for them, whether it’s with the organization or with another organization. One of the things that we try to practice here on a quarterly basis with our team is really talk about, when you talk about kind of what their dreams are and their aspirations is what are your personal, your professional and your financial goals. And let’s have a conversation about that. And let me be able, as your leader, to use resources, if I can, to be able to help you achieve some of those. And I think if you really focus on that, and if you’re interested in their dreams and aspirations, you’ll definitely come across as being more interested than interesting. I think that’s a huge part of developing them. So Perry, here’s a question for you.

How does a leader increase their interest in the people around them in a practical way? One of the things we’re trying to do here with this podcast is to give you just brief practical tools to be able to become a better leader. And today we’re talking about how do we become more interested in this? I know people don’t want another thing to do.

Perry Holley:    Right.

Chris Goede:     That’s the last thing leaders are like, okay. Yeah, that’s great. I love all this, but I can’t put another thing on my to do list in order to do this become more of a leader. There’s ways for you to build it into your day and become practical. Talk a little bit about just even some things you’ve seen through some of your coaching.Perry Holley:    Great point. And it’s really, to me, it’s adding the being interested component to things that are already on my calendar, that people interactions that are already scheduled. If I have a one-on-one with a teammate, I make an intentional effort to learn something new about them. Maybe one new thing, if I can. If I’m out with friends after work, I might re-talk about them, not about me to really see if I can draw things out of them. If people in my group are sharing a story, this is a tough one. I try not to top their story, but instead, I think of questions to learn more about what they did, what they learned, what they valued most about that experience. And this has been painful because I’ve had the great fortune to travel to many, many countries around the world. But somebody that at a dinner table will say, Hey, we made a trip this weekend to the mountains. I said, yeah, I was in the Alps. Cause I’m trying to get them interested. I’m trying to be interesting versus just saying, tell me more about that trip and then be interested. But you can learn a lot by listening and encouraging people, that little phrase, tell me more.

Chris Goede:     That is so good.

Perry Holley:    They will leave the conversation thinking that you’re the master communicator, when all you did was tee it up For them.

Chris Goede:     Absolutely. As we wrap up, I’m going to go back to the quote we talked about from Dale Carnegie in the beginning. Cause I think it’s spot on with everything that we talked about today and we just gave you five quick, little, practical, simple things to be thinking, but the quote was, ‘you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people then you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.’ And so as we wrap up, the five things that we just talked about, I just want to just recap them for you: be others-oriented, be more curious, be more observant, be interested in their overall being, and then finally, the fifth one was be interested in their dreams and aspirations. At the end of the day, Perry, I talk about this a lot.

We’re in the people business. And what good does it do to your illustration of one-upping somebody in a story to be more interesting than it is to be interested? Absolutely nothing. And so I think about an illustration that I heard an individual say one time to where they put a hidden camera in a party and they planted this actor and they said, Hey, here’s your goal. Your goal is to go up to the bar and it is to meet people. But here’s the deal… All you can do is ask questions. And so they had this camera and they watched this individual with these two ladies have conversations. All he did was ask questions. Even if they asked him a question, he turned around and asked them a question. Never told them one thing about him, his name, anything. They were able to capture these two ladies as they were walking out of the room. And they said, Hey, tell me about that individual you met at the bar. And they said, he’s the most fascinating guy we’ve ever met.

Perry Holley:    Very interesting.

Chris Goede:     And he didn’t tell him one thing about himself. And so just really think about this when it comes to connecting and leading people. This is a level two skill set that we’re just exposing it to. But I think it’s the foundation for you and your leadership and your influence, make sure that you’re being more interested in other people than you are trying to be interesting.

Perry Holley:    Very good. Thank you, Chris. And thank you all. If you would like the learner guide for this, you can find that as well as a place to leave us a question or a comment, you can do all that at We’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. That’s all today from the John Maxwell Executive Leadership podcast.

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