BiggerPockets Podcast 459: The Superpower of Listening: Get More Out of Your Conversations

BiggerPockets Podcast 459: The Superpower of Listening: Get More Out of Your Conversations

53 min read
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Have you ever been in a conversation where someone has had to ask you to repeat something multiple times? It’s frustrating when you’re trying to tell someone something and they just won’t listen, but what about all the times you’ve been distracted in a conversation? There are a handful of reasons why humans aren’t great at listening, but the benefits to becoming a true listener are off the charts. Better connections, more trust, and happier relationships just to tout a few.

In her book, Listen Like You Mean It, Ximena Vengoechea talks about why listening is so important, and why we often get it wrong. Being a great listener is almost like having a super-power, you’ll be able to tell what a person wants and needs faster and more accurately. This can help in almost any business, but especially in a people-first business like real estate when you’re constantly talking to tenants, management, sellers, buyers, or agents.

Ximena goes through the 3 qualities that are most needed when becoming a great listener and how you can put yourself into “listening mode”. She also walks through how to have difficult conversations or conversations with people who aren’t the best listeners, plus what you can do to make sure that the person talking to you really feels heard. This isn’t just a crucial trait for anyone in real estate, but for anyone who wants successful relationships with the ones they love.

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Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

Brandon:
This is the BiggerPockets Podcast, show 459

Ximena:
In every conversation, there’s a need, so the questions that are being asked are coming from a place that is deeper than the literal question. But there’s a need that the person is trying to meet, and maybe they’re trying to have you meet that need in conversation.

Intro:
You’re listening to BiggerPockets Radio, simplifying real estate for investors, large and small. If you’re here looking to learn about real estate investing without all the hype, you’re in the right place. Stay tuned and be sure to join the millions of others who have benefited from biggerpockets.com, your home for real estate investing online.

Brandon:
What’s up, everyone? It’s Brandon Turner, host of the BiggerPockets Podcast, here with my co-host, Mr. David “The Active Listener” Greene. What’s up, man? How’ve you been?

David:
I’m really good. I got a big property under contract, and adding to my team. We’re doing well, we’re hiring. And BiggerPockets is growing, the real estate market is solid. I think this is the best time ever to be in real estate.

Brandon:
Yeah, it is not a bad time to be in real estate. Yeah, we closed down a couple of big mobile home parks recently and we’re just about to launch fund number four. So three funds in the books and about to launch number four.

David:
You’re just putting the fun in fund. You know that?

Brandon:
I put the fun in fund. That should be my nickname, Brandon “The Fun In Fund” Turner. I just gave myself one. You like that? Is that allowable?

David:
Yeah, you do that all the time. There’s something about people that-

Brandon:
Can you give yourself a nickname?

David:
Yeah. Only certain kinds of people do it.

Brandon:
I mean, it’s why everyone calls me Brandon “The Funnest Guy In The Entire World, Way Better Than David Greene” Turner. That’s what people call me.

David:
There is an abnormally large amount of people who say that, and I sort of resent it, but that’s okay, you earned it.

Brandon:
Thank you. Thank you. Well, let’s get into today’s show. Today’s show, we are interviewing an amazing author and just thought leader. I’m going to probably butcher the name here, Ximena Vengoechea. Wrote an amazing book, its called Listen Like You Mean It, and you’re going to learn all about the act of listening. Now, you might be thinking, “What do I care about listening, I’m a good listener, I have ears?” Well, what today is about is about how we can listen better in a conversation so that we can build rapport, so we can increase our negotiation skills, so we can make people like us more, which helps in all areas of business.

Brandon:
This is just a really, really important topic that when I heard about this book, I was like, “We got to dig in more,” because this is going to help you in your real estate business or whatever kind of business you’re trying to grow right now, it’s going to help you. So in the interview, we talk with Ximena about, for example, the three components that you need to bring into every conversation to make it a really good conversation. I thought that was just like solid gold. We talk about managing your energy and knowing when to build your day, like when to do what activities throughout your day. We talk about that.

Brandon:
We talk about humility, which is super vital if anybody wants to be successful at anything in life. We talk about tracking progress towards a long goal, and a whole lot more. So, pay attention for all of that and more coming up here in just a second.

Brandon:
But first, let’s get today’s quick tip.

David:
Quick tip.

Brandon:
Here’s my quick tip. One of the things I mention in today’s show is how important it is, when you’re in a conversation with someone, we talk about how asking questions can be so helpful. So here’s what I want to challenge everyone with today, next time you’re having a conversation with someone and they are complaining about something in their life, whether it’s a business thing, a relationship thing, whatever, make it a goal in that one conversation, it’s just a game, we’re just playing a little game here, do not say anything that is not a question, only ask questions in that conversation, and see what kind of results the person that’s complaining comes up with.

Brandon:
So that’s my quick tip for today is, get in a conversation with someone where they’re complaining and only ask questions, and you’re going to see some remarkable changes in their life, I believe. So check it out. But more on that to come. And now, I think we’re ready to jump into this interview with Ximena. Anything you want to add, David, before we jump in?

David:
Nope. Let’s bring her in.

Brandon:
All right, here we go. All right, Ximena, welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast. Awesome to have you here.

Ximena:
Thank you so much for having me.

Brandon:
Let’s jump into a little bit of your background. Today, we’re going to talk a lot about listening and conversations and networking and all that good stuff. But where did you, I guess, get this fascination or interest, I mean, enough to write a book on this topic, but where’d that come from? What’s your background?

Ximena:
Sure. I think the fascination comes from a larger fascination with people, who they are and what makes them tick. And that’s something that I’ve been exploring in my day job as a user researcher for quite some time. So, for those who aren’t familiar, user research is what I would call one of the more people-centric roles in the technology industry, where your job is literally to understand users, people, the people behind the numbers, and get a sense of how they use products, how they might use your product, what their needs are, their perceptions, their motivations.

Ximena:
And so it’s a great role for someone who’s interested in psychology and anthropology and that kind of thing. My background is in comparative literature, so I have a bunch of degrees that don’t really make a ton of sense for the tech world, but, that was my entry is, what can I learn about people in order to help build better products? And the core skill of being a researcher is listening. So that’s something that I’ve been dedicated to for some time now.

Brandon:
Okay. Very cool. So, why, of all the books you could write and the topics you could cover, why did that end up being the thing that you’re like, “This is where I’m going to focus the next few… ” David and I have both written books, it’s a marathon, it’s a tremendous amount of work and effort and time, so why listening?

Ximena:
Yeah. Listening felt super important to me in that I had learned these skills through my job of how to ask good questions, how to make space for others to say what they need to say, how to take conversations deeper. And while I was applying that in this traditional UX lab setting, it also just became increasingly clear to me that there was so much applicability outside of just the lab. And I started to feel, I remember at a certain point, almost like I had the upper hand. Like in a meeting, I could read the room a little bit better, I had a better sense for how to collaborate with people. Or as a manager, I was more in tune with who might work better together. And the same started happening in other areas of my life.

Ximena:
And the thing that has always compelled me to write and to take on a project that you’re going to be focusing on for many, many years is, is there something in here that’s useful for other people? Is there something here that I can share, some kind of knowledge that I can share that will be useful? And it felt like listening could be very useful in all of these aspects of our lives, and it’s sort of this quiet, hidden talent. I think we tend to spend a lot more time thinking about how we speak, how we show up in conversation. Can we persuade, negotiate, influence, pitch? All of those things are great, but there’s also this other side, which is, can we listen? And can we understand? And can we take that understanding and form a real connection with someone?

Ximena:
And I think right now in this moment, it feels like that connection, that human-to-human connection is harder and harder to come by for so many reasons, culturally, politically, blame social media. You can pick up so many reasons that that’s the case, but that to me gave this idea so much more urgency and was really the driving force for continuing to work on it and get it out into the world.

Brandon:
Yeah, that makes sense. And I do feel like, especially, yeah, I don’t know if it’s just in the last year or so since this COVID mess came down, but my need to establish relationships with people has gotten a lot… I shouldn’t say need, my ability to establish relationships has gotten a lot harder, probably just because we’re not in person as much with people anymore. And so everything becomes a Zoom call or a phone conversation. And I don’t pick up on as many of the, maybe it’s like social cues that you maybe getting in real life, like you’re sitting at a coffee shop with somebody.

Brandon:
And so again, that’s why I wouldn’t, when I heard about this book, I was fascinated by the topic, and I’m like, “This is definitely something that if I can get better at listening at conversations, at interacting, it’s going to benefit all areas of my life, especially my real estate.” I run a big real estate business and I buy a lot of properties, but so much of that is based upon my ability to build that rapport. So, not really first question, because I’ve already thrown a few at you, but first question of the topic here, what do people get wrong when it comes to listing? What do you find is a common screw up mistake, problem that a lot of people just have, and maybe they don’t even know they have?

Ximena:
Yeah. I think most people, most of the time aren’t actually listening. We think we are, that’s the number one thing is we think we’re listening, and we’re there, we’re there enough to not in smile or respond in some way. So you’re not just ignoring the other person per se, but we’re not really taking in what the other person is saying, often, we’re winding up to respond. So somebody says something and we have an idea that we want to share or a follow-up, and that’s what we start thinking about instead of hearing the other person out. Or we’re distracted by our devices. Who hasn’t had a day or a moment where that’s been the case? So there are lots of things that actually distract us from being present and actually hearing the other person.

Ximena:
And I call that surface listening mode, it’s like you’re staying at the surface, you’re catching bits and pieces, but you’re not catching meaning or emotion, which is where that human connection tends to occur.

Brandon:
My wife and I were in the kitchen yesterday, and she’s telling me something, I can’t remember what it was. This proves the point even more so. And she’s telling me something important. And as she’s talking, I grabbed my phone and I picked it up and I looked at it because something buzzed, and then I opened it and I went to my Instagram DMs because that’s what the thing was. And I started scrolling through the DMs, and she just stopped talking, and she looks at me. She goes, “What are you doing? I’m talking to you.” I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I was listening.” And now I have no idea what she was talking about. So I know I’m so guilty of this. And the whole idea of trying to think of, “Oh, I know what I want to say next to this thing, so let me just get them to stop talking so I can start talking next.” I know I’m very guilty of that as well. David?

David:
What I was thinking as you were talking, Ximena was, is it when the speaker isn’t meeting my expectations of an appropriate conversation? So what would have triggered Brandon to get on his phone? Was it Heather started talking about something that he’s not interested in? Was it a thought went through his head that he subconsciously prioritized over Heather, he thought it was really important? Was there a part of him where she gave him a non-verbal cue that, “Hey, this part isn’t important. I’m just talking to myself, but you may have to jump back in”? There’s something that programs when we focus on what someone’s saying and when we don’t, and I’m curious if you can maybe shine a light onto why my attention will sometimes waiver?

Ximena:
I think you’re right in that all of those scenarios you mentioned could have been triggers for starting to shut down in a conversation inadvertently. And the thing is, there are more of those out there then than we would like to admit. And I think what really helps us is the intentionality that you bring into a conversation of saying, “Hey, I’m going to be here and I’m going to be present with this person,” because there’s always going to be those, not even just those distractions, but there’s a whole other set of things that can set you off, which are your emotions, like something was said and it caused an emotional reaction in you. And it doesn’t matter whether or not the other person meant it, you’re now in this totally different state of mind.

Ximena:
So there’s always going to be something that can pull you out of this deeper listening mode, and I think what is most helpful is setting that intention upfront of, “I’m going to go deeper. I’m going to be present. I’m going to be aware of when my thoughts are starting to run the show and just notice that.” It’s taking a meditative approach of, “Oh, here’s a thought. I want to chime in with this idea. Okay, I’m just going to observe that and let it go and come back to the present.” Or, “Oh, I want to grab my phone. I don’t know why I wanted to grab it, but let’s just put that down and come back.” Because there are so many things that can compete for that deep conversation.

David:
How much of that do you think is a by-product of the digital age we live in where we all have ADHD in a sense, we’re just used to constant stimulus and having to focus on one person at one time as just the muscle that we haven’t worked out in a while?

Ximena:
I think that social media, the internet, all of those things have probably exacerbated that challenge of staying present and made the issue worse. But I don’t know that I think it’s the source or the cause of it. I think we all have this human instinct to want to be seen or heard, and that comes out in different ways in conversation. And sometimes part of how that comes out is wanting to contribute, and that’s why we wind up ahead of time or maybe tuning out because the topic isn’t interesting to us. That’s not a social media thing, that’s an us thing, of we’re just not drawn to that and we devote our attention elsewhere.

Ximena:
But I do think that the world we live in now has certainly made it so much easier to give into those, let’s say human weaknesses that we bring into conversation.

Brandon:
If I want to get better at listening in conversation with talking to people, what are some of the places to start?

Ximena:
Yeah. So the first thing I would say is just bringing intentionality we talked about earlier and specifically thinking about three qualities that you can bring into conversation, which is humility, curiosity, and empathy. So humility is what is going to help you calm that monologue that might be in your brain of, “I know the right answer,” or, “I know what’s going to happen next,” or, “You’re wrong.” And those reactions often stop us from listening because we’re on our pedestal and we’re ready to chime in with the “right answer.” So bringing in humility, bringing curiosity also. So we were talking about, is the topic something just made you tune out in conversation. Maybe, but there’s always something else that you can get curious about.

Ximena:
There are definitely topics, and I think this is totally fair and normal for everyone to have, certain subjects that you’re just not as interested in. That’s fine. But if somebody you care about is bringing up that conversation topic, can you get curious about that? Well, why do they care so much about this topic? Is there something that I can learn about their interest in it or their motivation for bringing this up? Something that I can get curious about? And then the third is empathy, and that’s really trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand their experience.

Ximena:
It doesn’t mean you need to have that experience or share that exact experience, but you’re tapping into that emotional side of things and what they’re experiencing. And those three qualities, if you can bring them into a conversation, are going to help you go much deeper than you ordinarily would.

Brandon:
That’s really good. Yeah. I was just thinking about how exactly those three things are what usually caused me to do what I did with my wife. She was probably explaining something, because I do this all the time, I’m a terrible listener, but yeah, I’ll immediately want to solve her problem because I can solve every problem, I’m the husband, I got this. So that’s my lack of humility. And the empathy of course, I tend not to think like, “Does she want me… ” I want to say somebody that, “Do you want me to fix this or do you want me to feel this?” So again, it goes back to, “I just want to fix this thing. I want to be able to solve this problem.”

Brandon:
And as a result, it ends up just creating conflict in my relationship there, where, usually, my wife’s not afraid to now just tell me and be like, “Just stop trying to fix my problem, just listen to me.” And I’m like, “Oh, okay.” And then it takes that. But it really takes that intentionality, it takes it’s going, “I’m going to be here. I’m going to focus in on this thing. I’m going to not just shove my ego in the way and be able to solve this thing.” Is that what you call the listening mindset? I know that there’s a chapter in the book called The Listening Mindset. Is that what that is?

Ximena:
Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s when you bring those three things in and combine them, that’s your listening mindset. And really. the foundation for that too is being mindful and being aware of what you’re bringing in to conversation.

David:
One of the ways I see this pop up in our world as real estate agents or loan officers is, somebody will make a statement, maybe they’re addressing a concern they have, and my staff will answer the specific question they asked. And then the person will ask another question or they’ll express another fear, and then they’ll just answer that. And we’ll get into this game of what I call whack-a-mole, where they just keep bringing up new objections and we just keep answering them and hitting these moles and it never actually goes away. And what I’ve found is that usually, the person asking questions isn’t actually asking for that specific problem to get fixed, they’re actually, in a sense what it feels like at least to me is they’re showing you what’s in their heart and they’re saying, “I’m really scared and I don’t know how to articulate this on my own.”

David:
And what we have to do is actually ask them questions. We have to get behind why these moles keep popping up. It’ll just frequently come up where one of my staff members will be frustrated and they’ll say, “Well, we keep coming back to this same problem.” And I’ll say, “Well, have you actually address that concern, the nature of the problem? Or are you just answering their questions as if they can fix this themselves?” Do you have any advice for those scenarios themselves? Because I know our listeners are going to see this when they find a seller who wants to sell a house, but it belonged to their grandmother and they just keep on throwing another wrench in what looks like a good negotiation, and you can’t quite get to the root of where it’s at or other scenarios like that?

Ximena:
One thing we don’t realize necessarily, and what you’re pointing to here is that in every conversation, there’s a need. So the questions that are being asked are coming from a place that is deeper than the literal question. But there’s a need that the person is trying to meet. And maybe they’re trying to have you meet that need in conversation, and so they’re asking those questions as a way of getting closer to some sort of resolution: to feeling better, to feeling more secure, to feeling less intimidated, whatever that may be. And when you stay at this, you take the surface, you stay at the literal level of, “Oh, they asked me X, I’m going to answer Y,” you miss the need underneath.

Ximena:
And so I think this is where there’s two things that I would, I would suggest. One is figuring out what your listening mode, your default listening mode is. So this is how you tend to show up in conversation. So Brandon was saying earlier he tends to show up as a problem solver. He hears everything through the lens of a problem to be solved. That is one of the default listening modes. There are other listening modes. There are people who are natural mediators, they want everybody’s voice to be heard, they want to consider things from all angles, so they hear everything through that lens.

Ximena:
So the first thing I would say is figuring out what is your listening mode, because you’re going to bring that into every conversation and you’re going to hear the other person’s questions and interpret them through that mode. So figuring out what yours is and then assessing whether that’s actually what’s called for. So, is the problem solving mode right here or is what I would call like a nurse mode where you’re more comforting and supporting in a different way, is that the response that’s called for? And then the other thing I would say in addition to figuring out what is that mode and is that mode going to help meet that need in the moment, is figuring out how to ask better questions.

Ximena:
And so David, you started talking about this, stuff like, they’re asking you questions, but maybe we need to be asking them questions. And I think that’s totally right. And there’s a few kinds of questions that I think can be helpful, and the first is that most of the questions we ask are often somewhat disconnecting in the sense that we don’t realize it, but we’re leading somebody towards a certain response. So we might ask a close-ended question, a question they can answer in a yes or no, but they tend to hit a certain dead end and we really want to open it up and ask more open-ended questions.

Ximena:
So trying to stay away from questions that start with do, is, or are, like, “Are you ready to do X, Y, Z? Do you like this?” That’s not going to take you very far. But if you ask, “Oh, hey, how do you feel about that?” Or, “What do you make of this?” Much more open ended.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good.

Ximena:
The other thing I think that can be helpful there is asking what I call encouraging questions. So once you’ve opened it up and the person has started to let you in, you want to keep taking it deeper, generally. And there are questions that are really small, they don’t actually sound like questions, but they can be very powerful for helping to continue to open things up so that you get to the root of, why do they keep responding in X, Y, Z way? And that can sound like, “Say more about that,” or, “Tell me more about that,” or, “What else?” They’re small, they don’t sound flashy by any means, but you’re just giving the other person space to say a little bit more.

Ximena:
My favorite version of this is actually really small and it’s just to say, because. So if the person says, “I’m worried about such and such a thing,” then I would say, “Because?” Dot, dot, dot, I’m just giving them space to finish that thought, instead of saying, “Well, you don’t have to worry about that because we’ve got it solved.” I actually want to know why they’re worried about it because maybe my solution isn’t going to address their concern. So, those are some of the things that I would suggest to get a little bit deeper, get to that need, and then start to respond in a way that that person will really be able to hear you.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s really good. I noticed with my daughter, I’m trying to do more of that because it’s easy for me to be like, “Hey, did you have a good day today?” And then, “Yes.” Or, “Did you have fun at that activity?” “Yes or no.” She’s four years old, so I’m trying to shift how I talk to her in terms of like, “What was your favorite part about the pony ride? Or, how did you feel when you’re up on that horse?” Things like that just get conversation. And she still answers, “I don’t know,” all the time. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” but it gets her mind working a bit more. And I find the same is true when I’m doing real estate transactions in business. Like when I’m talking to a motivated seller, somebody who’s owns a house and they’re not sure they want to sell it.

Brandon:
I’m talking to them just by me coming in there and telling them what’s up, it tends to shut down the conversation so much faster than if I just asked them, “So, tell me more about that.” I say that a lot, “Tell me more about that,” is a phrase that I’ve been trying to use more, because yeah, it gets them opening up, it gets them talking. This goes back to, what’s his name? Dale Carnegie. Is that the guy who wrote-

David:
How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Brandon:
People love to talk, and so get them talking and they’re going to naturally like you more. I want to dig a little bit more on that on one of those three things, the empathy you talked about, and then you talked about what was the first one? Empathy was the last one. The first one was? I wrote it down here, humility. And the middle one, curiosity, right? What can you say about curiosity? And the reason I asked is because when I think of somebody who is a really good conversationalist, I think of like Joe Rogan, one of the best conversationalists I know, he’s got the biggest podcast in the world. But the reason why he’s so good, I think is because he’s so darn curious.

Brandon:
He could be interviewing somebody about something he could care less about, and it’s an engaging conversation because he’s just curious about it. So how do we develop that? Or how do we improve that in our lives, our curiosity?

Ximena:
It’s a great question. I think curiosity comes to us very naturally, especially when we’re younger. And then we learn what we’re supposed to pay attention to and what we’re not, and narrow in from there. And certainly, adulthood asks you to specialize, and so you become very curious about one or two things and then shut everything else out. But I think part of becoming a more curious person is actually removing the idea that you might be an expert, especially if it’s a topic that you know a lot about. It can be really easy to say, “I’m good. I’ve got this.” And that’s also when we wind up winding our own responses up of, “Oh, well, here’s what I have to say about this.”

Ximena:
So I think trying to take on that student perspective as opposed to an expert’s perspective, or even just saying, “I’m an expert, but there’s always more.” No expert is ever done learning, there’s always more. And so taking that perspective I think can be helpful. I think asking the question to yourself of, “What else? What else can I learn here?” Can also be a helpful reminder to tune into what’s happening. And the other thing I would say is, I think that sometimes there’s this idea that when we meet people, we have to be interesting in order for them to engage with us in a certain way or make friends or whatever it may be. But actually, what research shows is that curiosity, people who demonstrate that they are interested in you, that’s what draws people in.

Ximena:
So it’s not how good is the story you’re telling, it’s how curious are you about the other person? Because as you mentioned earlier, people love to talk about themselves. People have things that they want to share. If you can make someone feel like you’re interested in them, genuinely, not putting on a show, but genuinely because you’re asking good questions, they’re going to remember you. And that’s really powerful.

Brandon:
Yeah. I hear that a lot in the real estate space, we often say that people like to sell to people they like. And so if somebody, they have like five different options in front of them, like there’s different people talking about buying their property or there multiple offers on a property, if they like one person more than the others, it gives a huge benefit to that person. And so just by being, I guess curious and interested in asking about their reasons on what they’re doing. Now, it’s not always possible if you’re buying like through a real estate agent, you don’t always get to actually talk to the seller, but any way that you can try to build that rapport more, it helps.

Brandon:
Now, one thing I struggle as an introvert. I’m very introverted, people are always surprised by that because I got a podcast, but that’s why I have a podcast because I now have to talk to a lot of people at one time. I just get to record it and I could edit this later. So for those people who are introverted, like me, what do you have for tips or encouragement or maybe stuff you’ve researched in terms of how I can get better at building these relationships and getting people to like me when it’s just not natural, I just don’t necessarily love doing it?

Ximena:
Yeah. I think part of it is practice and just putting yourself out there bit by bit and trying it out. I think the other part of it is building that self-awareness muscle about yourself, of, what are the conditions that you need in order to have a good deep conversation? Which it sounds like you’ve got some of that already. You already know that maybe a big crowd is not going to help you have a deep and fulfilling conversation, great starting point because then you can architect those conversations a little bit differently. But it also is, are you a morning person or a night owl? Are you someone who gets depleted after one deep conversation? Or can you do three in a row? How much does context switching affect your ability to be present and empathetic in a conversation?

Ximena:
So there’s all these elements that affect how we show up in a conversation, and I think being in tune with that can really help you set yourself up for success or say, “Hey, this actually isn’t a great time. I really value you and I want to have a good conversation here, can we punt or do this after lunch or whatever might suit you a little bit better?

David:
I noticed that your definition of curiosity actually involved humility. There was, you have to assume you don’t know everything and there’s still something to learn. It seems like this theme of humility is coming up a lot, and that maybe when we’re not listening, it’s actually involved with ego. Would you mind sharing how you define humility? I think a lot of people assume humility is thinking low of themselves and putting themselves down. It doesn’t sound though that that’s what you’re advocating.

Ximena:
Yeah. I think humility is really about being open to learning something from the other person. In user research, your job is to get to know another person and learn from them in order to build a better product. And so I would always start my interviews by saying, “I’m here to learn from you, and I’m going to be like neutral Switzerland. So anything you say, I’m not going to get offended by it, I’m not going to take it personally.” And I would even reassure them and say, “Hey, I didn’t design this thing, I didn’t build this thing, so you really can’t hurt my feelings.”

Ximena:
And I think it’s about bringing those same qualities into a conversation of, “Hey, I’m here to learn from you, and I’m not expecting to be right in any way,” and creating that open space for someone to be themselves. And it’s not that you are disappearing from the conversation by doing that, because if you do that, it becomes a monologue, not a dialogue. It’s not that you’re completely repressing who you are in any way, you’re just giving the other person space to be themselves and being willing to learn from that experience rather than judge that experience, for instance, if it’s different from yours.

David:
Yeah. I’ve noticed that’s another thing that you’re you go back to, is there’s actually a skill that the listener develops to pull out from the person they’re listening to more information. It’s not as simple as just shut up and listen to them talk, there’s actually statements you make that would allow that person to believe that they’re not under a threat if they say something that could be perceived wrong, that you’re actively saying, “Well, I didn’t design this product, so if you don’t like it, it’s no skin off my back. I just want to know how you experience it.” That allows that person to give you their honest feedback as opposed to, if they don’t know how you’re going to take it, a lot of their mental energy is geared towards how they articulate their thoughts without offending you, which means you’re not getting the real raw version of theirs.

David:
I think what you’re getting at here is, this is so important because this skill is lacking in the world, and those that can figure it out, have a super-powered advantage over everyone else. Am I close there?

Ximena:
Yeah, I think so. And I think you notice it when somebody brings that into conversation because it’s not super common, you notice. And I don’t know if you’ve ever had a conversation where you’ve felt like, wow, you instantly got to know someone or you were able to share a part of yourself that maybe you don’t tend to bring up until like friend hangout number five or whatever your progression into some sort of intimacy is, you notice when somebody is really present, really there, really interested in you, and when they’re not trying to change your minds. And I think that has just such a different tenor, those conversations, and can lead to just much deeper relationships when you experience that.

Brandon:
I feel like all of us can like think of, like, if I said right now, “Think of that one friend that you have that when you’re talking with them, they’re just all in on what you have to say.” In my mind, like there’s a woman here on Maui named Caroline. David, you know Caroline, right? Whenever I see her anywhere and talk to her, all she cares about in that moment is whatever I’m saying, and she’s fascinated by it. I can be explaining the most boring story about my daughter or whatever, and she’s just super fascinated by the topic and in it. And it just makes me feel so good to talk to her because she’s that way, and it’s like a super power. And so when you get known as somebody who is just a great listener, somebody who just is all in on it… Like I’ve never thought once, like, “Oh, Caroline just wants my business or she wants me to work with… ”

Brandon:
I don’t know what she wants, there’s zero agenda there. She just literally is a person who is just really good at talking. And my wife’s good friends with her too and my wife has said the exact same thing. So Caroline, shout out to you for being awesome. But yeah, I want to develop that superpower in myself, and I think like the way you’ve laid that out, having the curiosity, having the empathy, and working toward being intentional is really what the key is, is just being intentional, “I’m going to be a better listener and I’m going to bring that intentionality in every conversation.” Is that a good way to sum that up?

Ximena:
Yeah. And I would also say, just to set the bar at an approachable level, you don’t have to get it right every time. It is a muscle that isn’t flexed all the time and so it’s going to feel awkward in the beginning, but there’s lots of little things that you can do along the way to strengthen that muscle, even little things like, as you’re trying to listen with empathy and intention, reflecting back what you’ve heard and saying, “Hey, it sounds like such and such, or, my understanding is A, B, C about what you’ve just said.” Those are ways of gut checking that you’ve really picked up what the person is putting down. And they also have the added effect of giving the other person a chance to say, “Yes, that’s exactly it. Thank you for hearing me,” or, “Actually, you’ve got it wrong, let me correct you and put you in the right direction again.”

Ximena:
And so even when, as we’re feeling things out and trying things for the first time, there’s ways to make progress and there’s ways for that space to instantly open up and we don’t have to be perfect along the way, we can ask for that gut check and it still is going to be really productive.

David:
I really liked that practical tip. That is something that people can take from the conversation and just say, “Boom, in my next conversation, that’s what I’m going to apply.” Do you have any others of maybe the big stuff that you see, kind of the low hanging fruit that we can all start addressing in certain specific scenarios?

Ximena:
One thing to think about too, particularly if you’re having a difficult conversation, something that you know there’s some emotional attachment to it, or it might be the topic that’s difficult, or it just might be you’ve sensed, or the person has told you they don’t want to go there, or there’s some, I’m thinking particularly like, “Oh, I don’t want to sell my house because my grandfather is somehow in the picture.” The thing I would say about difficult conversations is to really set the stage for what’s going to happen because those conversations are uncomfortable.

Ximena:
And we may know that we have no intention of hurting the other person or making them uncomfortable, but I think sometimes just even saying, “Hey, I want to talk to you about X, and I know it might get a little uncomfortable, but please know that when I ask you a question about this topic, or when I follow up about something, it’s not my intention to push you away, or to judge in any way, or to change your mind, I’m really trying to understand, and it might sting a little bit, but that’s where it’s coming from.” I think that can help when you’re taking on the naughty topics, because you’re explicitly saying, “Hey, this might be uncomfortable and I don’t want to make it uncomfortable, but that’s just the reality of talking about this thing, but here’s where I’m coming from.” To create a little bit more trust in what could be a pretty vulnerable conversation.

Brandon:
I like that you mentioned, it’s almost like by labeling it. I know you mentioned that in the book, it’s one of the parts I read in there about naming, like psychologist will name things or label it so you can withdraw from a little bit. So if you’re just feeling horrible, if you are like, “Oh, that’s anxiety.” You label it, that’s the thing you can look at from a setback position. That’s what I see you doing here is you’re saying like, “I’m going to label this thing as an uncomfortable conversation.” Now, that conversation is a thing, now we can have a rational conversation about this thing, but that thing is not me, that thing is not my feelings, those are separate things. Is that how you look at that?

Ximena:
Yeah. I think in general, being more explicit than we think is necessary, tends to be a pretty good rule of thumb, just going back to thinking about the idea that there are these hidden needs in conversation. They’re often hidden because we think we’re being explicit about what we need, we think that we’re just putting it all out there and we’re really not. We think we’re easy to read and we’re not, and this happens all the time. And so I think being explicit in saying, “Here’s what I’ve heard, did I get it right?” Being explicit in asking, “How would you like me to respond?” If you’re not sure, asking things like, “Would you like me to listen or would you like me to respond?” Or, “I have some ideas that I think would be helpful, I’m not sure if that’s what you’re looking for. Would it be welcomed to share some of those ideas?”

Ximena:
So, you’re feeling it out along the way and then you’re just externalizing your instinct for the other person to say, “Yes, advice would be great right now.” And then you can fully go into problem-solver mode, or, “No, that’s actually not right.” And sometimes people don’t know what they need, often, people don’t know what they need. And that’s when asking those kinds of questions can help where you say, “Hey, is it that you’d like X or Y?” You can give them an either/or, are you looking for A or B? Give them something to respond to. And then that is what helps them fully step into conversation.

David:
It sounds like what you’re saying, the vision I see in my mind as you’re talking is that oftentimes, we just want to send advice their way and maybe that’s what they wanted, and in those cases, it’s fine. At other times, it’s not what they wanted and then they pull back. And what you’re describing is to almost ask permission to build the pathway before you send the advice down it. Are you looking for advice in this scenario is a way of like, can I build a road that I can then put my advice on before you just throw the advice in, and then they feel like you didn’t listen to anything I said, or it doesn’t matter what I’m saying.

David:
And that is probably the number one mistake that I think I myself make. And Brandon and I are probably of the same cut, where we assume the only reason you’re talking to us is you want us to solve your problem. That’s why you’re here. And this is embarrassing to admit in front of everybody, I think the number one mistake I make in almost every relationship I have is I never think to say, “Did you just want me to understand what you’re going through?” And it’s the easiest thing that solves so many problems and still, I just fumble that ball every single time and I have to continually remind myself. What you’re describing is, when I say, “Do you want me to understand?” Or, “That must be really hard.”

David:
And then you see their face just like, “Oh yes.” They get the relief they were looking for is me putting out that pathway and saying… And maybe I didn’t even need to send advice, just the pathway, the connection, all their stuff come to me and they got rid of it. And I don’t know why that is so hard. It’s like the easiest solution to so many problems and yet, I will just screw it up so often. It’s because I have too much ego, isn’t it? I’m not humble enough.

Ximena:
I think it’s a very natural response. We don’t generally have that much practice just witnessing someone in conversation. We just don’t. We assume that there’s something else that’s happening and we have this desire to help, or nurture, or care for. And sometimes all the other person needs is literally just the space that you give them to express themselves. And also, it’s really hard for someone to come out and say, “Hey what I really need from you right now is I need your encouragement, or I need your validation. I just need you to say like, ‘yes, you’re right.'”

Ximena:
We often don’t start conversations like that, but sometimes that is what we need. And so it is just practicing, giving them that space. And I think a big part of this too is just tempering any instinct to speak even, we tend to think of silence in conversation as a thing to be avoided at all costs because we take it as a sign of disinterest or boredom, or we’ve said something stupid, and so we’re like, “Oh, if there’s a B in conversation, let’s quickly fill it.” I’ll chime in with advice or I’ll change the topic, I’ll start rambling about myself. I’ll end the conversation. But sometimes that silence just means the other person is working their way up to saying more or processing an idea.

Ximena:
And so I think some of it is just getting a little bit comfortable with being uncomfortable in conversation and sitting in that silence or tempering our own instincts and just giving that person space and asking, creating that path to see where it will go.

David:
Yeah. That’s such good advice to keep in mind. It sounds like what you’re telling me, if I’m hearing you right, is that many times the person that I’m supposedly listening to is actually feeling me out subconsciously to see is this a safe path that I can send stuff to. And the super power of being able to give people that assured feeling that, yes, this is safe, will get them to reveal everything, and then as a by-product of that, they’re going to like you, they’re going to trust you, they’re going to feel close to you, which is what we were trying to accomplish the whole time that we just wouldn’t stop talking about ourselves.

Ximena:
Yeah. And it’s not just how they feel, we feel great too as the listener because we’ve had this breakthrough where we now really understand the other person on a different level and it creates this cycle of goodwill. If you feel like you can be safe with me and be yourself, then I feel like I get to know you, I can trust you. It just feeds on itself in a really lovely way.

Brandon:
We do these mastermind groups out here in Maui, I’ve done a few of them now where we bring out a bunch of investors and we just have a couple of days, just help each other work their problems. And one of the most impactful moments of those events that we have out there, we do the segment where we take everyone and this is all, I’ll give a shout out to my partner in that, Tarl Yarber, who helps me run the masterminds. He started this thing where we get into these groups of like five to six people in a group, and then each person gets 10 or 15 minutes to talk about their issue for a little bit, and then everyone else in the group is offering a commentary on it.

Brandon:
But here’s the key to what we do is, the people listening are not allowed to offer any advice whatsoever, every single thing has to be a question, no matter what, there’s zero advice given. And the irony of that is those are the most impactful moments I feel about mastermind, even though nobody gave any advice at all, and you can’t cheat with, like, “Have you ever thought of doing X, Y, Z?” Which would just be a cheating, it’s all questions. Just question after question after question. And when I think of my performance coach, I have a performance coach, his name’s Jason Drees, so shout out to Jason. And his main job is to ask me questions.

Brandon:
I guess I’m just pointing those two things out just to showcase what you’re saying here is so true that the people in our lives don’t need us to solve their problems as much as they do, just asking those little questions will help them because they’ll figure out the answer in their own head most of the time. I do want to move though, shifting the perspective from the person who was supposed to be listening to what about when we’re in a conversation with someone and they are not listening, you can just tell, I’m sure all of us have been in that situation. You just tell somebody who’s not super actively listening or they’re not doing a good job, they’re focused on something else, they glance down on their phone once in a while, whatever.

Brandon:
How can you or can you get them to listen better without slapping them inside the head and be like, “More on, pay attention to me”? I need tips there, anything you’ve researched in there?

Ximena:
Yeah. I think of there being a couple of groups when we think of listening, and one is this group of energizers, they make you feel great for all the reasons we talked about because they’re deeply listening. And then there’s this group that I call the takers. And there are people who take more from you in conversation than they give back. And so they’re not great listeners, they maybe spend more of their time talking about themselves than checking in on you. And I think we’ve all been on the receiving end of that, and it doesn’t feel great. The advice that I give is it depends on whether the person in this group is someone that you need in your life that is important for your work or some other area or not

Ximena:
I think if you’ve just realized, hey, this friend that you’ve had just really isn’t supportive and isn’t listening in that way and you’ve tried to even-out the conversation, I do think there are certain relationships where it’s okay to start to distance yourself and just reorient that energy into the relationships that really are nourishing. It’s so much easier to work on changing yourself than it is to change other people. So the idea of saying, “Hey, I want this person to be a better listener.” it’s hard. That work has to come from within. So I think distancing when it’s an option, worth considering, just also worth considering overall, what is that balance of takers and energizers in your life and making sure that you feel good about that.

Ximena:
And then the other thing I would say is sometimes we can’t just say, “Okay, I’m not going to deal with this person anymore.” And I think in that case, just thinking about how to gracefully exit a conversation or end a conversation because again, changing people when they aren’t ready to be changed or aren’t capable at that moment of doing that can be tricky. So thinking more about when do you need to protect your time and your energy, and then finding ways to gracefully exit that conversation. And I think there’s simple ways of saying, “Hey, it’s been great catching up, I’ve got a run.” You don’t need to say why you’re exiting the conversation, can be one technique.

Ximena:
I think if you know that it’s a repeat offender, maybe someone who you for professional reasons meet with regularly, I like to design meetings with some clear end to them. And that can either mean taking lunch at a busy restaurant where you know tables have to turn over instead of going to the café where you can linger for hours. That way you don’t have to be the one to say, “Hey, I got to go.” It’s like, there are clear cues built into your environment. So I would say a combination of the things that you can say to just gracefully end that conversation and then also architecting things and telling people upfront of, “Hey, I’ve only got 20 minutes to chat, but I’m all ears for those 20 minutes.” Setting those expectations along the way.

Brandon:
Yeah. Because sometimes especially when it comes to family or close friends, you can’t just be like, “Hey, I’m never going to talk to you again sister-in-law,” or whatever. You have to have that conversation sometimes, but putting the boundaries, putting into, “I got 20 minutes to talk here, let’s have the conversation,” I think is a good direction to go there.

David:
It’s so nice when you want to talk to someone and you have a lot to talk about and they say to you, “I’ve got five minutes.” And it puts you in the driver’s seat where you’re empowered to decide what’s most important to get versus, “Oh, it’s so nice to hear from you. I want to catch up on everything you have going on,” which is a welcome invitation to share. And I think people like me, we’re just going to say what we have to say. I don’t worry about it too much and then I assume everyone’s like me, and many of them are not. They’re very worried, “I don’t want to waste David’s time. I know it’s valuable.”

David:
It’s actually a sign of respect to me that they’re not opening up and telling me things, and I’m on my side thinking, “Why aren’t you just telling me what you got going on?” But if I take the responsibility on myself to say, “Hey, I’ve got 10 minutes, what’s the most important thing we can solve in that?” It’s a very empowering thing to give to the other person. And if we hadn’t had this conversation, he may not, I probably would not have thought about that.

Brandon:
That’s really good. All right. Shifting gears a little bit, and this may be related to the book, maybe completely different, but if you were suddenly put in charge of the American School System. Let’s say you’re the secretary of schools or whatever they’re called, what should be taught? What class would you institute will be taught in every single school, whether it’s a full class or whether it’s just like a mini one, what would you say like, “This is important. It’s not taught in schools, it should be”?

Ximena:
I think emotional intelligence. It’s something that we pick up on, we’re intuitively good at a young age, but I think we’re also taught over the course of our lives to not show as much, put on your poker face, or if you’re down, just suck it up and keep going on. And those cues get harder and harder to read in other people, and I think they’re undervalued because I think when you are able to tune into what’s happening for other people, it just opens so many things up and it makes you a role in a relationship much clearer also. So I think we all have it, it just gets set aside and we don’t really nurture it in a way that I think we could.

Brandon:
Yeah, that’s so good. And it is related to it, but it’s bigger than just the listening thing, it’s everything, just having that emotional intelligence, being able to know like, “Where am I in the situation? Where are they in the situation? Am I reading the situation correctly?” I don’t think it’s natural for everybody today to just do that, there’s so many people that just struggle with that. So that’s good answer. Good answer. Next one I got for you, we’re going to go, hold on. This happened to David earlier.

David:
This is the danger of trying to listen better as you forget what you were going to say. Our memory muscle is weak because we’re bad listener, so I forgot it in like the three seconds it took.

Ximena:
What’s funny about that is that we actually tend to remember the things that are really important. So we spend a lot of time trying to hold onto something in conversation, but most times when you let it go, if it’s really important, it’ll come back. Particularly, if there’s some emotional connection to it, but we don’t have faith in our memories in that way, but the really important stuff does tend to come back, we just often get mired down in the details.

Brandon:
I want to shift gears away from necessarily the topic at hand, which we’re talking about listening, because obviously, it’s super important topic that is going to benefit all the people listening to the show, but as the show is about all areas of success and about just growth in general, I want to hit a few other areas that you’ve been successful in. One of them is obviously landing a book deal and writing a book. So the art of actually becoming a published author and then the whole practice of writing a book. I’m wondering, what did you learn through that process? What surprised you? What was easy? What was difficult? Let’s talk about that for a little bit.

Ximena:
Before I wrote the book, I had done a bunch of writing, but short form, so articles and that kind of thing. And I really had no idea how hard it would be to write a book, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought, “Okay, it’s going to be the length of however many articles.” And it’s not like that at all, that’s not a comparable set of tasks. And so I think I learned along the way a lot just about how to tell a larger story and how do you piece all these little bits together and have a through line that connects them all. And I’m grateful for having good editors to help me figure that out. But I think the other thing that I learned was more about myself by the end of it, where I think as I was writing the book, I always had the reader in mind of, what will be helpful to them? How can they apply this in their everyday lives?

Ximena:
And then by the time I finished the book, I realized that this was a book that only I could have written and that it was actually deeply personal. I’m not sharing necessarily my entire life story in the book, but I’m very much a part of the book, my training, my background makes its way in. I also have some illustrations in the book, the sensibility, the things that I care about, I think come across pretty clearly and are very much tied to who I am as a person and what I value. And that was a pleasant surprise. It also, I think most writers probably would agree, it definitely creates a sense of vulnerability because you’re like, “Well, that’s me in that book, so we’re just going to put it out there.”

Ximena:
But I think I’ve had a nice learning experience in terms of some of the technical aspects of taking on this project and also just some personal reflections too of what this has meant for me as an individual.

Brandon:
What is your writing process look like? I know every writer’s a little bit different, were you like, “I’m going to write this many words every day, or I feel inspired today, I’m going to write for six hours straight, what did that look like?

Ximena:
I had a full-time job at the same time, so I didn’t really have the luxury of saying I’m just going to sit in front of my computer and write for a full day. So it was more making good use of weekends. There were certain things about myself, I’m a morning person, I don’t have great ideas later in the day. So I would do my writing in the morning and then illustrating or researching in the evenings on the weekends. And then I try and get a couple hours in weeknights. But for me, what was most motivating, and this is going to be really nerdy, but I had a big spreadsheet that had line items, and every time I wrote, I would keep track of, how many hours did I do, spending time on writing, or illustrating, or researching.

Ximena:
That for me is personally motivating because when you are working on something that you’re starting from a blank page, and then eventually you’re going to have something, but it’s a two-year process to have that something, I needed a way of measuring my progress along the way. And so that very unsexy spreadsheet was my way of seeing, “Okay, I’m making progress. I sat down this weekend, I got a draft of this chapter through, I can keep going from there.” So I’m definitely not a writer who just follows their inspiration, I’m more of the disciplined like, “Okay, we’ve only got two hours today, let’s make them count, and do it again tomorrow.”

Brandon:
I’ve got two things to pull out of that I think is fascinating. Number one, your idea of managing energy, knowing who you are, that self-awareness of knowing who you are and what type of energy is stronger at what part of the day, I think is so important for every entrepreneur, every creative person, every artist writer, no matter what it is, real estate investor, because I just know that I’m not good at certain things early in the day, but I am better at them later. And so you recognize it in yourself and you would accomplish that, which I think is super good. For me for example, I just know that if it gets after about two o’clock, I’m not analyzing that deal, I’m not doing that meeting, I’m not going to call that person.

Brandon:
I just don’t do it in the afternoon, but I’m really good in the afternoon at making video content. I love getting in front of a camera at 4:00 in the afternoon. So I recognized that and I leaned into that. So I guess first tip for people, just pulling out from your example there, is take an inventory of your life and figure out where you’re better at certain things and not at others. I hate working out early in the morning, I don’t want to do it. I just can’t get up at 6:00 and go run. I’ve tried many, many, many times, I’m just not that guy, but I can get up and read for two hours in the morning, and I’m just on fire. That’s when I’m at that moment. So managing your energy at different times of the day, I think is super vital.

Brandon:
And then second part there is tracking your progress on a long goal. You see, writing a book is very much like buying a rental property or flipping a house. The work you do today, you’re not getting paid next Friday for it. That’s the mindset we all got into at jobs, we get a job, we work, two weeks later, we get paid for it. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid for it. So that immediate feedback is very vital in most careers. We don’t get that when you’re doing a long-term investment like book or a property. And so your advice there of tracking your progress, “Today, I did this. Here’s the action step that I took today.”

Brandon:
And if you went a week and you couldn’t look back and say over the past week, these are my action steps, you’re not going to get the results that you want down the road. So whenever I write a book, I always track my word count every single day. It doesn’t even matter necessarily how many words I got though, I do set a goal, but just by knowing them, taking progress every day, make sure that I’m actually getting closer. So that would be the advice I have for people listening is, if you’re trying to build a real estate empire, or you’re trying to write a book, you’re trying to do anything, to do exactly what Ximena said there, write down your progress, record that in a spreadsheet, get nerdy, every single day.

Brandon:
And if you did that, you’re going to see the results that you want long term. Anyway, just wanted to pull those things out. That’s awesome.

David:
As Brandon mentioned that, I started thinking about that’s really a struggle I’m having in my life right now. At one point, I was addicted to working because as a police officer, if clocked three hours of overtime that equaled five hours of pay. And there was a very direct correlation between punching the time clock and getting a paycheck. And dopamine was present every minute I was at work, I got a reward. And then I moved into real estate sales and it was hard because there’s not a direct correlation between time spent and money that’s made.

David:
There’s a bit of faith where if I take these actions, I can make this money, but in the beginning, you’re not good at it, and those actions don’t result in money, you fumble a couple of deals. And then I got good, but what happened is I made the connection again between if I go on a listing presentation, I’m going to get a paycheck. And so the dopamine switched to that activity. And now I’ve grown into where I’m leading a team, and I’ve taken another step back away from my actions directly creating revenue, and I’m pouring into people. And I have to have a measure of faith that if I do that, that will eventually result in money coming in.

David:
But it’s like I’m a step removed from the actual direct influence of the whole thing, and so I’m not getting that dopamine hit. And as you guys were talking when I started to realize, you have to, as you grow, like let’s say you’re learning how to analyze deals, you don’t get paid for that. You have to have faith that this is going to become something that will work for me. And I have to have faith that if I continue to hire people and pour into them and go through the process with that person, that will result in something bigger than what I have now, but it’s very hard to get comfortable operating out of that faith when you’re used to that direct feedback that you just described.

Ximena:
Yeah. And I think part of that is also being strategic about where are you leaning in and where can you afford to lean out? And it’s the quantity versus quality, it’s not just tracking all the things that you’re doing or could be doing, but it’s being strategic about, okay, now that you’re leading a team, what are the things that you don’t have to be involved with that they’ll actually do a great job of moving that forward. And then what are the things that that’s where your particular expertise comes into play, and that’s really where you want to lean in. When I was working on my spreadsheet, I could see if I was spending way too much time on illustrating and not enough on moving the chapters forward, or I could see, “Oh my gosh, you’re really overworking an idea because you haven’t switched to a new tab and taking on this other task.”

Ximena:
So I think part of it is tracking that progress, but also taking that higher level look, which is what you’re saying of, “Hey, where can I spend my time most effectively?” And then prioritizing those from there.

David:
And sometimes it doesn’t feel as good as when you could just get the safety of that $15 an hour. So I really like that side note. I’m just curious, Ximena, when you’re releasing a book, do you get that cold pit of fear in your stomach that nobody’s going to like it?

Ximena:
Oh my gosh, absolutely. You spend all this time working on it, and I think in some ways I had this like great delusion while I was writing it, which was, I wasn’t thinking about that. I definitely had moments of doubt while I was working on it, for sure, but then ultimately, felt like, “Yeah, okay, I’m good. I wrote the book. We’re good with this.” And now as we get closer and closer to, people are going to read it, people are going to have opinions, it’s like dawning on me, “Oh my gosh, people are going to have opinions. It’s not just my opinion anymore.”

David:
And that’s why those reviews mean so much to us when people say nice stuff.

Brandon:
I feel that every time I’ve written what? Four or five now, every time I’m like, “How is it now?” And in fact, actually the thing that makes me feel the best about it’s not actually the reviews, but when I actually hold the physical book in my hand, I feel a whole lot better because I’m like, “Okay, it all came…” When I’m reading the edits ahead of time and I’m doing all that, the digital stuff, it feels like the worst book ever. I’m just like, “This is terrible. No one’s going to like this.” And then I hold the book, I’m like, “All right, this is a real book, this worked out. I can hit it on the table and it makes a thing.” Yeah, funny. Anyway.

David:
Not for me, I need the good reviews. I worry like, “I still wrote a crappy book and now it’s real crap, and it’s actually a realistic.” So if you’re listening to this and you like Ximena’s book, please go leave her a positive review, it means the world for those of us who are worried and don’t want to admit it.”

Brandon:
Yeah. It does mean a big difference, especially in Amazon, if you get positive reviews, it makes a big difference for authors. So if you want to help support authors, go leave a review, it helps. All right. Speaking of the book, let’s just talk about that for a minute. What’s it called? Where do people get it?

Ximena:
Yeah, it’s called Listen Like You Mean It: Reclaiming the Lost Art of True Connection. And you can get it anywhere books are sold Amazon, Barnes & Noble, your local indie. And they’re all linked from my website, which is my first name, last name.com/listenlikeyoumeanit.

Brandon:
Again, I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book because it’s one of those things that we try to do here on the weekend episode of the BiggerPockets Podcast is pull out topics whether it’s authors, speakers, successful CEOs, whatever, that we believe is going to benefit you in your entrepreneurial journey as a real estate investor, as a business owner, whatever you’re trying to do, we believe these things, especially listening like you mean it, we believe that’s going to benefit every area of your life, it’s going to make you a more well-rounded person and successful. So check it out, pick it up, of course.

Brandon:
And we’re not quite done though, we have one more segment of the show. Let’s move over to the last part of our show, it’s called the-

Voiceover:
#Famous Four.

Brandon:
This is the part of the show we ask same four questions every week to every guest, we’re going to throw at you right now. The first question is special just for the weekend episode of the podcast unlike the real estate episode which airs on Thursday, the question is, is there a habit or trait that you are currently working on or trying to improve or develop in your own life? Anything you’re working on right now?

Ximena:
I would say it’s probably one familiar to most people, which is just using my phone less. And specifically, I think what I’ve realized is just the instinctive pickup, you’re not actually doing anything, but you just keep picking it up. That’s the part that I really want to cut down on.

David:
That’s like the equivalent of walking into the kitchen and opening the fridge and you have no idea why you did it, but you just keep doing it.

Brandon:
Before we move on there, there’s an app called Moment, I’m just going toss out there. I have no connection to it other than I use it. It’s called M-O-M-E-N-T on your phone. And it just tells you how much screen time you have, which is normal, the iPhone can do that as well, but it also talks about how many pickups you have, and you can set some goals and start an actual phone fast. And there’s some cool things there, so definitely check that out.

David:
Next question, what is your favorite business book?

Ximena:
Ooh, my favorite business book. I really remember liking Rework by Jason Fried, which I read several years ago.

Brandon:
Oh, I love that.

Ximena:
Yeah. Just about the nature of work and approaching teams and norms and things like that.

Brandon:
That was one of my favorites as well. It’s been a few years since I read that, I need to pick that back up again.

David:
Every book is one of his favorites. Brandon has a relationship to books much like those people that go to like the dog pound and every dog there, they just want to adopt them all and love them. That’s how he’s said in the library, “Oh, look at that little one with the dog here pages. It just needs a little love, I could save it.” All right. What about some of your hobbies?

Ximena:
A lot of writing, illustrating, and then just walking. I’m finding that in the pandemic, the simpler, the better. And so I’ve been enjoying just taking a hike, stretching my legs. I definitely get the, if I don’t move enough during the day, my body will let me know. So I found that to be helpful. And also meditative, it helps with the whole phone thing for sure.

Brandon:
All right. Last question from me. What do you think if you had to boil it down, what do you think separates successful, and we’ll say entrepreneurs, or business owners, or just anybody trying to improve their lives, what separates them from those who give up, fail, or never get started?

Ximena:
I think a mix of self-awareness and persistence. You have to know enough about yourself to know how to make that goal workable for you. And then you got to be willing to keep going when things get tough.

Brandon:
I really like that answer. I’ve heard people say persistence before, and I think it’s the right answer, but it’s not persistence like no matter what, it’s combined with self-awareness is the key there. I think those two things together, that could be a book right there, how to combine those, it’s like rocket fuel or something. You combine those two things together and you can accomplish anything, but one without the other and you’re not going to make it. So that’s a great answer.

David:
Yeah. I made a video in this sea shed the last time I was in Hawaii that talked about when to quit and when to keep going, and how to actually make an objective decision about when persistence is needed versus when you’re just banging on a door. Brandon, you got something to say?

Brandon:
You just missed an opportunity to rhyme, when to grit and when to quit.

David:
Oh, well, that’s because I don’t have your marketing mind.

Brandon:
No, I stole that from somebody.

David:
When to persist and when to quit. Yeah, I couldn’t quits.

Brandon:
When to grit and when to quit. I don’t know who said that, but it was good. Anyway, David, get us out of here. You got the final question.

David:
All right, Ximena, tell us again about the book and tell us where people can find out more about you.

Ximena:
Yeah. The book is called Listen Like You Mean It, and you can learn more about me and about the book on my website, which is ximenavengoechea.com. I’m on Twitter if that’s your space of choice, I’m on Instagram too. I think I have pretty good SEO, so you’ll be able to find me.

Brandon:
We will link all that in the show notes at biggerpockets.com/show459, I think that is. Yeah, biggerpockets.com/show459. So you can go there and click the links and we’ll go to social media and all that stuff for Ximena. So check it out. Ximena, before David takes us out, I just want to say thank you very much for being on here. It was fantastic. And you are a great listener and a great talker. So good job.

David:
Thanks, Brandon. This is David Greene for Brandon “Dr. Seuss” Turner signing off.

Outro:
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How user research prompted Ximena to write about listening
  • Asking good questions that help people open up more
  • Cutting out the distractions and being present and mindful in a conversation 
  • Why attention tends to waver in day-to-day conversations
  • The 3 most important qualities you can adopt to become a better listener
  • How to be more extraverted in conversations
  • And So Much More!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

Connect with Ximena:

Have you ever been in a conversation where someone has had to ask you to repeat something multiple times? It’s frustrating when you’re trying to tell someone something and they […]