After the tragic loss of her mother in a fire set by an arsonist in 1986 at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico, Susan McPherson committed herself to applying the lessons she learned from her parents about the importance of meaningfully connecting with others by offering to help. In this episode, we speak with Susan about overcoming our fears of networking through the “Gather, Ask, Do” method, which she describes in her book, The Lost Art of Connecting, and which was named a Best Business Book of 2021 by Soundview Magazine.
Susan begins from the premise that we are always learning and that meaningfully connecting with others is far more rewarding if we start by asking, “how can I help?” rather than “what can you do for me?” From Susan’s perspective, a simple change in mindset can move us out of the “what’s in it for me?” type of transactional networking, to one of meaningful engagement. Not only does this develop deeper relationships, but it drives business results, breeds innovation and creativity, and most importantly, serves as an engine for greater happiness and longevity.
We talk about the best ways to connect using the variety of tools available to us, including social media. Susan reminds us that the epidemic of loneliness across the U.S. was pervasive long before the pandemic, but that it was magnified during this challenging time, reminding us how important it is to be able to connect in person again.
Susan urges everyone to lean into their relationships with kindness and curiosity; you never know who you might meet and how you may be able to help. She tells us how she is constantly reminded that the kindness of strangers is a powerful gift. Earlier this year, Lou Feldstein, a former reporter for the Miami Herald reached out to her out of the blue on LinkedIn. Lou had covered the Dupont Plaza Hotel fire 35 years ago, where he met Susan’s father. The two spent several days holding onto hope, searching for Susan’s mom. Lou generously shared his memories with Susan along with letters her dad wrote to him– letters Susan knew nothing about– in the years after the fire.
Susan acknowledges that for someone who thrives on connecting people with one another, there are times when even she would rather hide in the bathroom than enter a crowded room of strangers. She provides practical tips that each of us can use every day to ground ourselves in the power of three: meet three people, share three things about yourself and learn three things.
If you’d like to learn even more than three things, check out this wonderful conversation with Susan . . . and share it with three people you know!
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