Robbie Samuels knows what it’s like to feel like you don’t fit in or belong. He became an observer of people at a young age, and developed his innate ability to create relationships and connect with people into his mission and business. He’s host of the podcast “On The Schmooze”, author of “Croissants vs. Bagels”, and a recognized expert on networking. He also has a unique story and fun tips and perspectives on how to make the most of meeting new people. He has a TON of resources on his website, so be to sure to check it out, and here are some for your easy reference.
Special GIFT for listeners: “Ten Tips for Conference Connections”: www.robbiesamuels.com/SOC
Bonus Bundle of resources and the book: www.CroissantsvsBagels.com
Free Masterclasses: www.robbiesamuels.com/masterclass
Hear Robbie on his podcast: www.ontheschmooze.com
Find Robbie on social media:
Rana Olk (Host): Hello, Robbie, thanks for being here. Thanks for the invite. I have been all over your website. As you know, you are a coach, you’re an author, you are a speaker, you are a trainer, podcast, host, an organizer, an expert in relationship building. And you are a father, I want to know, first and foremost, how you do all of this.
Robbie Samuels (Guest): And sleep. I think, you know, you just make plans, and you commit to them. So when I’m doing one thing, I’m focused on that one thing when I’m with my kids, and with my kids, when I’m working, my kids are sleeping or at school, my wife’s with them, and I and I’ve also been really focused on stacking my successes. So I don’t try to achieve multiple business goals at once. So two and half years ago, my podcast came out, it’s a weekly show, a year later, my book came out, it became an Amazon bestseller in three categories has hundred 50 reviews. The first one week, a few months later, I piloted a course that I last year, I did a 90-day version. And now this year, it’s a six-month version. So sort of each time along the way, I didn’t try to do the podcast launch and the book launch in the same, you know, three month period, I’m really building on the momentum created from the pieces before it and establishing the platform from which to then be hired to speak. So speaking, I’ve been doing for more than a decade, but you know, the audiences have changed, the fee is changed the topics gotten the more expensive, but you need that social proof too. So now this year, my focus is TEDx and getting into written writing articles for different publications. So those this year sort of overarching goals.
Rana Olk (Host): Great. Now, for those in our audience who have not been all over your website, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what it is that you’re most passionate about? What is the change that you’re trying to create in the world?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Well, I think the way I would phrase it, it is that I believe people can find a greater connection if they can show up fully in the room or bring more of themselves into space. And that we tend to not do that, we also tend not to have a really clear sense of what we want to achieve when we leave the house. And we have to have more of a reason to leave the house than just content because content can be consumed from the comfort of our home, we could be an air yoga pants, you know, you to podcasts webinars, we don’t need to leave her house. So when we do go out of the house, to in a bed to a conference, I think we should find ways to show up more with more of our full selves. And with a real purpose of who we want to connect with what we’re looking forward to what inspiration we’re seeking, and what we can offer those spaces. And I think when we can show up and seek something, those moments are gonna be very memorable and change the trajectory of our work.
Rana Olk (Host): So when you say that you’re talking about those of us who work from home and our online a lot when you say that content can be anybody
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Anybody can be can know it, anyone with, you know, if you’re a person who has a new day job in an office, and your boss says, go to this conference, and you go to the conference, because you were told to, but you haven’t really taken the time to think through Why is this important and valuable effort for me to take, I mean, someone else might be paying in that instance, but you’re still putting forward other resources, time energy, and leaving the office and your home for a few days. So that there is a there’s a cost to doing this, I think more of us can really claim that time be purposeful with it, make more meaning of it, and not just show up in a while I was told to be here, and I’m still listening to these speakers sit in the front of the room, take some notes of things, or less likely to actually take action on, you know, if we don’t really see the purpose of it. So I think part of is that the planning happens before you even get there. And then that includes What are you going to do with the information and the connections that you make at this event afterward. So I just think we could really own those moments in a very different way.
Rana Olk (Host): When you say that I think of the conferences that I’ve been to, and I am somebody who really enjoys learning, I enjoy engaging, but it is often the case that people feel very uncomfortable engaging, and connecting in those settings. What is it that you think causes that? Why are people uncomfortable connecting with or engaging with strangers?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Well, I think there’s a difference in a social space, like a birthday party at someone’s house that you get invited to. But you don’t really know anyone, which is different than a conference where people are gathering around shared interests, shed identity, they’re all in the same industry field, something like that. And I think the former The, the social space is kind of hard because people in those spaces tend to already know each other. And they’re not looking to make new connections. But a networking event is very different. And if you come in with the mindset that you’re there to meet people, and you recognize that that’s true for most people in the room, whether they have set that intention consciously or not, they are there they are more open, then-then they would be otherwise that you can find small networking moments to connect with them around a shared experience. Some of its about the prep work we do, like knowing why we’re going, who were who were hoping to meet who’s gonna even be there, what kinds of people like there’s a lot of work we can do before we get to the event that goes beyond, you know, what sessions Am I signing up for, but could really, really have a clear sense of, well, what are the other reasons I’m going and in fact, I actually suggest that people write their follow up email as a draft before they go to the event, because you’re not going to send it, it’s just drafting it so that you really start thinking through if you met your ideal can, what would you want them to know about you? What would you share? What are you offering them? What kind of follow would you be looking for? And by having that draft pre-written, it will kind of put your mind in a frame of, Okay, well, then let me look for people like that. And soon to be much more purposeful about the connections you make, and you will feel less awkward about going up and talking to people, because you’ll already know why you’re doing it, and what you’re able to offer them as well as what you’re seeking. And I think that changes dynamically. So there was a study, Northwestern did a study around networking, and they discovered that it makes people feel dirty. It’s a fascinating study. And essentially, the people who felt that way, were the ones who thought of as, as transactions like I’m going to, I’m going to get something. But the people who didn’t feel that way, where the senior executives who were coming to these networking spaces to offer because they already had a lot of resources, they were coming to offer advice or connection or introduction or something. And so those people felt differently. So I think we all consider and think about what can we offer, and that might change that awkwardness you’re describing. Because then we’re not in need, we’re actually a participant. And that includes if we’re looking for a job because that’s a moment that feels very much like we’re in need. But if you’ve ever hired, you know how important it is to hire the right kind of people. And if you met someone at an event, who really presented themselves in a way that made you want to talk to them further, they showed interest in the position that you were talking about, they followed up effectively had a great cover letter, all those things that would be just a thrill as a hiring manager to know that it happened. So that’s the offer your offer is, as a person who’s seeking a job is that you’re seeking the right fit. And for the right person, this is what you This is the value is the contributions that you would give to that organization. And that’s a very different mindset, then I’m here looking for a job, any job will do?
Rana Olk (Host): Absolutely, there are so many places that we could go with this. And I could Delve even further into to how to make those initial contacts. But what I really want to do is ask you how and when you even became interested in this?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Yeah, so good question. I think I’ve always been a student of a sort of people and groups, I’ve always been fascinated by that. Or I mean, I remember back when I was really little kid growing up in the suburbs would go to the mall. And I would notice that depending on how the benches and the plants were set up, change the dynamic of how people flowed from one major store to another. And it’s all based on what sales are happening is really I was like, this is fascinating. I don’t think anyone else was noticing this and I discovered later on and that’s sociology that the study of people as sociality so I was sociology and political science undergrad, got my masters in social work, learned all kinds of macro community organizing, sort of organizational development language from that experience, and I ran a meetup group that created thousands of people. And we ran for 11 years. And it was through that Meetup group that I was practicing what some of these ideas were that I was having about groups and dynamics, and how do you create a welcoming space and the regulars that were in that group, they were committed to the idea of helping us create that space, but many of them were shy and are introverted, which are different scales. So they could have been shy and introverted or a shy extrovert or an outgoing introvert, or any of those things. And, but they were really committed to the idea of its, they’re willing to come early, they’re willing to, you know, talk to other people, not to each other in the first half hour, and try to meet three people. But the idea of just like, mingling, really made them uncomfortable. So that’s where this really began with me, wanting to take what I was sort of innately doing, and break it down so that anybody, regardless of their comfort level with being outgoing, or usually they’re a wallflower, once their consciousness was raised about there being people who were demographic outliers, or physical outliers in a room, they then brought that with them, and all the spaces they went into, which was kind of the leadership quality. And so that was 15 years ago that I started practicing with that, and then just really thinking about what does this mean. And so for me, I will say, on a personal level, it comes to I, I’ve never been, I’ve never been a shy introverted wallflower I have, I will never claim to have had that experience. I do not have that history. But I’m definitely an outgoing extrovert. But I do know what it feels like to not always belong and do not fit in and to wonder whether this is a space for me. And the memory that I have of this is camp. So, anyone who’s ever gone to a day camp kind of probably has some shared experience, if you show up, you’re trying to, you know, mix them in with your peers, you try to get along, and I was probably, you know, 1011 years old, I’ve been going to camp for a while. And I remember walking up to a group of campers there in a circle. And they probably never even saw me. But they also didn’t make space for me to join them. And I just didn’t feel a connection them at all. And I didn’t feel welcomes, I didn’t feel like I belonged. And at the same moment, I was feeling much stronger connections to my camp counselors, staff in the office, I was connecting with all the adults. And I didn’t know why I didn’t have any real sense of what was happening there. And on my personal journey, you know, I later came out as queer. And after that, I came out as transgender. But I actually think this experience is not unique to people with my lived experience, this idea of not knowing whether you fit in or you belong. And so my remedy is to host my remedy is to convene people. My remedy is to create a space that is welcoming to others, and therefore would also be welcoming to me.
Rana Olk (Host): Interesting. Now, when you said that this camp experience happened when you were 10 years old. You came out later on
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Oh, yeah, like my early 20s, my late 20s for coming out of strands. This is all been a long time now, but I’m 44.
Rana Olk (Host): Okay. You said you don’t know why they weren’t inclusive right now, looking back, do you feel that there was anything different about you that they might have picked up on?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Honestly, I just think they were kids being kids, they were just, you know, focus on their own moment, it’s, I think it was in my head more than it was in there, what they were actually trying to do or not do, I just think that the and this is true for all of us. So we walk in a room in a room, and we create the narrative in our head of what’s going on, we interpret the moment using our own lived worldview. And at that moment, I think that they were letting me in. And so this is kind of kind of funny that years later, one of the things I’m known for, and the book that I wrote is called croissants versus bagels, and subtitles, strategic, effective and inclusive networking at conferences. But the bagel is that tight networking circle, remember the group of campers standing in a circle, and they weren’t letting you in, right? It’s impossible to break-ins, that shoulder to shoulder huddle, the croissant is when someone opens up their body language and make space for others to join. So that’s their visual cue that that’s a much more approachable space. And that’s one of the things I teach people, when you go into an event, you’re not really sure where to stand, don’t try to break into those tight bagels, look for the people who are having that more naturally open stance, whether that’s four or five people in a circle, or it’s two people who are standing sort of casually next to each other, as opposed to, like intensely having a conversation. But that again, was my, you know, thinking like, well, what, what worked for me is like, I would look for those openings. Or I was then training people to create those openings when I was hosting my own events.
Rana Olk (Host): So one of your remedies you said, was to become the host, and start gathering people and creating your own events. Having done that, now, do you ever find yourself in conferences or large gatherings of people where nobody knows you and you aren’t the host, and you feel uneasy, uncomfortable like you don’t fit in.
Robbie Samuels (Guest): So I recently went to two conferences the same month one I’ve been going to for several years. And so at that conference, there are people I was looking forward to seeing. And there is a banquet that takes place, and they don’t have a sign table. And so I spent three days letting people know that I was organizing a table and who wanted to be part of my table. And of course, people got on and off my list back and forth, change of plans, this and that. And I sort of kept managing this list, setting up text reminders, I ran in and got a table and make sure everyone knew where it wasn’t a room, a lot of, you know, a lot of organizing, and I did that because I want to connect with these people. I don’t know that we’ll just randomly find each other to a large conference. And I don’t think people make that effort. And they wouldn’t think to invite me like, I want to make sure that I’m making this space because I want to show and sit with my people and enjoy this evening. And then there was the other conference where I didn’t know anyone going in was actually podcast movement. And so I had a time they had the opportunity to list some informal meetups. And so I hosted a meetup for dads over drinks. And for moms over breakfast, because that’s just how what should in the schedule I should have said, moms and mimosas or something would have been funnier. And so I reached out ahead of time and share that on the website. And the Facebook group. And I connect to the bunch of people had people are paying for it onto a Google Doc, you know, so I send them reminders. So it meant that even though it’s going to this brand new space, there were 30 people that we’re looking forward to seeing at some point at a particular event. And we’re on the lookout for me when they run to me in the hallway that I knew I had a connection with, beyond podcasting, we were parents, and that’s really important to me. At the time, I was considering hosting a podcast, the second show about parenting. So it was particularly important for me to make those connections. But I also think that’s again, even though it was can be walking through a brand new space, I really started thinking, how could I host something so that I do have those connections in play. And then I when I saw people, sometimes I’ll even, like, look ahead on the schedule. And I saw that there was a time that was a little free towards the end of the weekend. And so I booked a reservation at the hotel restaurant. And as I met interesting people, I invited them to that dinner, I said, Oh, you know, there’s like, an open dinner, like, a couple of nights Do you want you to want to join us, like, I meant, I’m gathering interesting people. And so people were joining me for that. And so those were people that were not necessarily parents that I sort of that and connected with, based on the interest of, you know, what, what sessions I went to, and none of that, for me, feels like a lot of effort, you know, booking a space, putting out an invitation, inviting people that comes very naturally to me, but I actually think it’s something that anybody could acquire those skills. I actually think it’s fantastic for introverts because I still would have met people like, I’m gregarious, so I’m going to meet people. But I like to have more connection, not just this flitting, nice to see you in the hallway, I want to have a deeper conversation to really engage. That’s where I think those small spaces are so important. But if you’re an introvert, it’s important because it’s a different scale. And it’s much easier energy wise to manage, you know, the energy of sitting with six or seven people who are going to actually talk to each other, and you benefit from being the host who gathered them, you don’t have to actually talk the whole time you’re really there to facilitate to host it’s less energy, but you’re getting the benefit of being in the space that all those people as opposed to trying to have seven conversations in a really large networking reception.
Rana Olk (Host): Wow, there’s so much there that I’m curious about. But the one thing you mentioned about being an introvert, I consider myself an introvert. And I realized one of the reasons that I don’t like those big gatherings is because I want to have deeper conversations with people. I don’t like small talk. And yet there seems to be no escaping it in certain situations. How do you feel about small talk? And how do you get around it? And how do you get to that part where you feel like you’re having more meaningful, deeper conversations?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Well, there’s some, it’s intuitive, and then there are techniques. So follow your intuition. I just, I want people to trust their own sense of that. But then the techniques are, I never asked people what they do. And I’m a professional speaker, and I go to a conference for professional speakers. So they’re the opening question always is, what do you speak on? And similar to what do you do? It’s just like, we’ve said it a million times. No one’s interested. I only want to hear myself say it. So I I asked different questions. I’ll ask like, What drew you to this event? Or how’d you heard about this event? Oh, you’ve been going for a few years? What keeps you coming back? What’s your biggest takeaway from last year? Or? Or this over this weekend? Or what do you most looking forward to? Oh, it’s your first time. Well, why this year? What made this year the year that you decided to commit to coming all the way to this conference? Like, what are you hoping to get from this experience? Oh, you and I chose the same session I read his book. Have you read his book, it’s really quite intriguing. His premise, you know, or I’ve been meaning to read this book. But I didn’t get around to it. Have you had a chance, but that’s why I came in, why did you decide to choose the session. And I just think, you know, those are all open-ended questions and invite them to share more of who they are. And beyond their business card, you learn from them what they care about, you know, so they get to sort of share that and you can follow that thread that that’s the kind of thing that you can, you know, in the first few moments of a conversation, like, if someone’s willing to engage, you’re basically giving them the opportunity, you’re giving them the invitation to do so. Now, some people will give you pat quick responses, they’re not interested, that’s fine. Don’t waste your time, let the conversation kind of roll on and politely, gracefully exit it and go looking for someone who’s a little more open to it. I actually think one of the opportunities are at those breakout sessions. When you’re waiting for the speaker. introverts tend to be a little overwhelmed by the vibrant, chaotic hallway. And that’s not their favorite place. So they go and they duck into the next session early, they could be 10 or 15 minutes before the next session. And they get on their phones. Everybody does this. I mean, introverts experts, everybody gets the room then sees that other people are in the room with their phones out. So then everyone else comes in and mimics it. What I’m suggesting is that you can train your speakers and your volunteers that are in those rooms to interrupt that behavior, so that as they come in, you can warmly welcome them. I tease people like I run first-timers orientation. And so there’s ever going to be someone who’s I don’t know anyone. They sit really far from each other. And around, I’ll make a circle. I’ll say, Oh, great. You’re in charge of that. And all the seats to your left and right, five seats, your left and five seats to right, anyone who comes to those seats here, the questions are written up on the board, you, they come to sit near you, I want you to turn and introduce yourself. So those first few people, I’ll be joking and teasing this first eight or 10 people and they’ll start talking to each other across the room. And then as new people come in, those people will be greeted by the people who are already sitting there who are again, our first-time participants. They have never been to this conference. But they had been essentially made into hosts, they’ve been invited to step into that host experience. They step into it, they feel better about it. I give them some prompt questions like How far did you come like, you know, far did you travel to come here? Could be a great question. Like why this year this this conference, and then the warm the warm this in the room is there for anyone who walks in after it would feel really strange for them to then walk in and this and sit by themselves and get on their phone when people in them are engaged and are going to loop them in. So if I can get that to happen in a first timer session, you could do it for any session of a conference, it just takes a little bit of planning is the kind of thing I work with associations on is how do you train both your regular attendees, those who have been coming for several years where this is a must do on their calendar, and the speakers, the exhibitors, how do you train them all to think of themselves as hosts, because ultimately, the strength of this organization of this event is important to them, right? They’re the ones are sticking with it. so welcoming people and helping that retention rate, those first two years can be really, really low 50%. For some organizations, the effort to recruit people is enormous. If we can get that retention rate higher, and have them feel like they’re part of this community. by year five, they’re going to feel like it’s a reunion, and they’re never going to want to skip it. So I just think we all have a part. And that’s that’s a way that I was sort of break down.
Rana Olk (Host): What’s your favorite question to be asked, Robbie?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Oh, that’s I’ve never been asked that question. That’s my favorite question to be asked. Mike. There. That’s it? That’s a great question. It got me to think I think I love just being given the opportunity, obviously, to share any of these tactics. These ideas, I’m so passionate about it. I love when people are curious about how they could play a bigger role in creating these spaces themselves. And not just they say, Oh, I don’t do that. I love the moment when people who normally feel like this is not for them, and they can’t do it, suddenly have a light bulb moment of, wow, I totally can do this. And, and really, it’s when people look back to me and share that they tried it and like the results that they’ve had, you know, whether it’s because they read my book, or the heard a podcast episode, or they’d spoke to me at a conference. So they saw me speak whatever it is, and they try it. And I mean, they try it that day, within an hour of learning it that that this is not a thing that you have to put away and hope that one day you’ll have time you can leave this country conversation and immediately walk out your door and go try any of these things doesn’t have to be the big conference. And in fact, it’s that practice that makes it all easier. You know, it’s not like you just one day become great at something. It’s like you keep you know, making an effort, you try different questions, you try to read tactics, you have to study body language differently and become more aware you-you own again, the experience of being there, you don’t just kind of ride along. When you become that level of awareness, you will enter that space very differently. And you will benefit from it very differently.
Rana Olk (Host): I’m going to take a little bit of a detour here, you shared a little bit ago that you are transgender, you’re also a father and I wondering if you could share with our audience what happens when people comment on your son’s height?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Yeah, so I, I have a three-year-old and a one-year-old and my kid was about two and he’s, he’s a big kid, he’s, he’s tall, it looks older than he is. Which is, is fine. Except for the people that expect him to act older to which is always like, the double-edged sword of that and people will comment, they’ll see me with him. I’m an at home dad. So I’m often the parents use with my children the middle of the day in the week, and then they’ll say, Oh, it’s your wife really talk ’cause I’m not time like five, five on a good day.
Rana Olk (Host): Okay.
Robbie Samuels (Guest): When I’m, like stretching it, you know? And so, and I’ll be like, no, but the donor is, then I think it is always a question I had about do I say that? Do I just like, let it go? What’s the situation what’s space how people receive this, I mean, that’s like, you got to make these quick mental moments really, you know, happen, these calculations happen very quickly. And, but I I tend to lean towards disclosing when is an opportunity to because I’m not trying to not disclose if it comes up, it comes up kind of thing. I mean, as you can tell, I’m out online, you know, this stuff on my website. But I think people have some preconceived notions about you know, what they’re seeing what they’re witnessing, and I’m often read as a gay man. So when I hear a married and have kids, they get a certain image, but then I say the wife and our throw them off I could be bisexual, I, you know, I don’t identify that way. And vice queer. So. So I think there’s a lot that has to get on packed with people, I could be a straight man who has a certain effect. So there’s a lot that has to be unpacked. And yeah, so that’s kind of one of the experiences I have and, and not knowing sort of what will happen next with it. I much prefer honesty to come out in large groups, I come out whenever do my talk. And I come out in the context of part of my talk called the downside to be a unicorn, which is how we all kind of come into a room and there are things about us and sometimes get called out or noticed, and sometimes people kind of notice it and can ask some curious question. And if that’s the thing that you get asked about all the time, it’s like, you know, you’ll give your like, Pat response. I actually remember I met this guy who was 16 at the time is private 19 now, and he’s 6’7. And I found this out because I said, you probably have you probably get asked all the time, these questions and he said, Oh, my gosh, he hands me a business card. And on the card, it says six, seven. No, I don’t play basketball. So if the question is so often asked that your response can be written on a business card. It’s the kind of question that we should not be asking. We should recognize that person gets asked that question all the time. So I’m sure you get this your name, you know, like I, I might get it about my kids. So. So I think the reason I call the downside of being a unicorn is that it sounds wonderful to be a unicorn factor. That phrase always is yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then always be a unicorn. Except Think about it. What were the unicorns day? Be like, if you got to meet them? You know, is it rainbow and sunny skies? It’s more like a unicorn. I’ve never met a unicorn. Hey, what’s it like to? Can I touch your What do you eat? and all kinds of curious questions. It would be exhausting. It would be exhausting to be a unicorn, anyone who has ever experienced that knows that it’s kind of exhausting. Be in court. and wonderful.
Rana Olk (Host): Is it though? What would we say then, about people who choose it? For example, somebody who has the craziest tattoo, say, and they’re wanting it? What do we say about those people, then? Do they want to be asked? Or…
Robbie Samuels (Guest): So for me, the line is always been, is it who they are? Or something they chose? Is it who they are? Is it something they chose? Now, I will give you one exception to this rule, black women’s hair because they do choose different styles, different, you know, material, different formats, whatever it is, I don’t even have the words for it. Don’t ask them what it is and ask them what it’s called. Definitely, do not touch it. Because it really is an extension of who they are. It is not chosen the same way a scarf might be even putting on a visible tattoo wearing like funky bright clothing. I have this picture. I do a webinar about this. And I have a picture of a black woman who’s wearing like, bright fuchsia zebra-striped shirt with like, hot pants and just like vibrant colors. And she’s got this enormous hair. And like, you could compliment her on her outfit, which she clearly shows. But I wouldn’t say anything about her hair. You know, because the clothing is like, she’s invited obviously a very kind of stayed conference where everyone’s dressed in their suits. She put on this like vibrant color. And that’s something she wants to be seen for. That’s great. That’s an invitation to say something nice, then it’d be a compliment. But I think mostly what ends up people doing is like a curiosity. And the answer isn’t. Thank you like the tattoo. I really like your tattoo. The answer is, thank you because they chose it while you’re really tall. How tall are you? The answer isn’t. Thank you. And that’s the distinction. It’s it’s an observation, not a compliment. And I just think we actually most of us have experienced that there are some of us who demographically maybe fit in more with people that are in the room. And we may be thinking, wow, this is I’ve never thought of it this way. But now you can see the distinction between an observation and a compliment. And the reason I think it’s important for people is that if you are going to leave your house right again, you could say home and consume content but if you’re going to leave your house then meeting people and make deeper connections should be part of your overall goals. But if the first thing you say when you meet someone new is something that’s so off-putting so other things that they give you there you know Pat response and dismiss you in their mind. They’re like I’m done with this conversation. I’m I’m not interested in investing in any further than you wasted your own time. Yeah, because you’ve missed now the opportunity to possibly connect with someone and you know, there’s an importance diversifying our network, there’s an importance meaning people who have a different worldview, a different look on life, different industries, different levels of experience in the world’s different ages, there’s a benefit to that, if you go around asking curious questions, you’re going to be really missing out on that possibility. If you’re at a point where you’re ready to share grammar recipes, you know, that’s sort of my metaphor for you’ve gotten deep enough in the connection that you’re willing to share, not just ask, but share when you know, if there was willing to disclose that even in that moment that I’m willing to disclose more as well. But if we’re not there yet, if we’ve just literally just met and it just, it just was a playground passing comment. I may or may not bother to say anything at all. Or if I do, I’m not expecting it to really go very far.
Rana Olk (Host): You’re speaking about choice here and things that we choose now, your name is something in the fact that you did choose, how did you choose?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): It was such a better question, then what a lot of trans people get asked, which is, what is your birth name? And I just want to mention that that question, the answer means nothing, because I didn’t choose my birth name. It says more about my parents, and what was happening in the time of the choices than about me, so thank you for asking the question you asked. So I think it’s much more interesting and revealing and personal to my question. And I think a lot of people when they hear that they have a chance soccer person asked these sort of generic sweeping questions, and Google is a great place to go if you have general questions about any group people rather than placing it on people to educate you about their personal experience and have it be a reflection of an entire group people but your question, which is a great one, my middle name has been Robin and so when I was trying to decide I was dating somebody named Abby, and a friend of ours named gunner said when I was figuring out my list of names possibly choose from, I almost choose the name grey and I said gray. I kind of light gray, and then I was like, who is an A or an E so I decided on the spot that would be G-R-A and then I thought it’s, it’s better as like a middle name or last name. But then Abby said, you know, Robbie would be kind of cute. And I said Robbie, and Abby, that is cute. So I for a while was known as Robbie gray. I was writing under that name, I hadn’t officially changed it. And when it came time to officially change my name, I thought, you know what, my family has been nothing but wonderful to me. I want to keep my last name, which is Samuels. So that’ll be my last name, gray will be my middle name. But Robbie’s a nickname and I really want to have something more formal if ever, I wanted to have a more formal name. And I know you’re thinking why not Robert, I’m just not a Robert. It’s just a little too every day. I’m not sure every day I’m a little different. I get that. And so I actually went with Robinson because I thought there was something really metaphoric I don’t know about center of Robin and like the rebirth thing and all that so my first thing is actually Robinson which isn’t widely known it’s not a secret but it’s not widely known I don’t use it in business I’m definitely Robbie Samuels is how I referenced myself for all those kinds of things but that’s my full name it’s it’s a Robertson gray Samuels which it looks great when I, you know, I spoke I was an adjunct professor for a few years look great on the paper got all my diplomas. reissued, it looks great on that. But beyond that, it’s not a name. I use all that frequently.
Rana Olk (Host): I love it. I love it. And thanks for giving me credit for asking that question.
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Well, and I also will say that I like gray as the middle name because it’s the I’m I’m very much about the balance of all extremes. And so the gray was a nice way of sort of blurring the new was Robinson and the old and familiar, which is my last name, Samuels. So balance is like a really important sort of perspective for me. And ray is neither black nor white. And the fact that it’s uniquely spelled was sort of a little bonus there.
Rana Olk (Host): I want to ask you about fatherhood, I know that we’re getting close to the end of our time together. But I can’t ask this question. You are very much about connecting with people, you are very much about inclusive city and being face to face and getting out of your house and making it mean something but you’re raising kids in a radically different age than the one that we grew up in, we know how to engage face to face with people and read body language and the benefits of that, does it feel challenging, ever? Or do you ever worry about raising your children in age, you know, basically the digital age, the Wi-Fi age where so much more is happening online? And it looks like it’s only going to become more so that way.
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Yeah, so one, I would say just like perspective wise, I actually think that the generation your Generation Z, which is sort of the generation ahead of my kids are so young, I think they actually crave connection in person face to face, I think it’s something they haven’t had a lot of. And when it’s done well, and they feel like they’re really invited to be part of it, I think they’re going to really, really like it and that we shouldn’t discount just because they’ve grown up digital natives that there aren’t going to also really appreciate and value may be even more than us, I’m average in Excerpt. So like, I grew up with the connection. And sometimes you forget how important it is, I think they may actually value it and place a priority on it more so as they grow into adulthood. So I’m not thinking it’s, it’s going away forever, much like business cards for 30 years, they’ve said business cards are going the way of the printing press. That’s not true either. So for my kids, it’s been really important for me to bring them out into the world. And so there, they’re always engaging with people. I was home with my toddler until he was just two years, nine months. And then he went to preschool. And I’m still home with my one year old. And so they go out with me, we go out to places very social and socialize in that sense. So yeah, I think I think it’s about mindfulness around that, making sure that they’re given opportunities. I also never called my kids shy, oh, he’s just being he so shy, he’s very shy, like, you know, kids have a moment of adjustment, walking into a new space, sort of like when you’re pouring fish from one tank to another, you keep them in the little bag for a little men minute. And then you pour the bag open, and they can slowly drift in, I think of that, like, I think there’s a goldfish moment for my kids as they kind of enter new space that sometimes they need a little bit to acclimate. But I don’t want to name that to be that they are then shy people because they have that moment of adjustment, because then that will make them think of themselves that way. And they will act out that way. I just give them that moment and encourage them in and once they’re in, they’re fine. So I think it’s about that too. I don’t want to prescribe on them behavior and then make that behavior and identity that changes the way they think of themselves. There are lots of choices. I’m just raising children to overcome. But I think this one is one that I feel up to.
Rana Olk (Host): Robbie, thank you so much. Before we go, I have my second to the last question that I asked everybody. And that is, you mentioned something or way earlier in our interview one action item that is somebody listening to this out there can take away and apply right away to either connect better or make leaving the house more worthwhile?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Well, I think you’re referring to the writing your draft email before you leave the house. But I will say that is set before that even is to be more thoughtful and purposeful about what events you choose to attend. I’d rather you go to fewer events and get more out of those experiences and actually scheduling the time to do the follow-up message within two days of coming back from my event. So that if you think about if you draft your message ahead of time, you thoughtfully chose the event you know why you’re going you are collecting cards in meaningful ways you can you characterize these are really priority cards and prior to connections, these less so then and you have the sort of follow up time scheduled the chances of you following through and writing those messages and reaching out through whether it’s, you know, LinkedIn or Facebook or whatever the medium is, or email it just goes up, you know, it’s 90 plus percent now that you’re going to do that. Whereas for most of us, without all the planning, it’s just, you know, it’s a chance, but it’s a low chance and I just want to say follow up is like magic. Okay, here’s why. It’s like magic. The rabbit was already there. Okay. Magic isn’t magic. Magic is planning and preparation. Okay. So follow up is like that if you plan ahead then everything will fall into place as you need it to be and when you reach for it the rabbit will be there and that’s that’s my favorite sort of I want to share I guess with you and the listeners is that if we can own these moments very differently
Rana Olk (Host): And where can people find you?
Robbie Samuels (Guest): You can find me and all my work at RobbieSamuels.com and I have a special gift for all your listeners is my 10 tips for conference connections, which just felt like the right thing to offer this community and that is available at Robbiesamuels.com forward/SOC for school of connection so you can go there and then by signing up for the opportunity to my email list. And I do share some great content through that as well that it’s not available elsewhere. So I hope you hit reply and write me back and I share more of it my camp story my welcome email, which is actually titled “Have you ever not felt welcomed?” That’s my subject line in my welcoming email. So I think if people really really enjoy that.
Rana Olk (Host): I think so too, Robbie, thank you so much for being here. I love the 10 tips for conference connections. Everybody Be sure to go to RobbieSamuels.com will share all these links in our show notes as we always do. But Robbie, you have so many other resources on your website. There’s so much there. I really recommend everybody though and check it out. Thank you so very much.
Robbie Samuels (Guest): Thank you.
Rana Olk (Host): Have a great day.