• Career Center

    Anyone Can Be Interesting, Yes Even You

    By | December 1, 2016

    It takes lots of courage to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. You occasionally find yourself in social situations and come across really great people. You genuinely want to know them.  Perhaps they have business or career advancement potential, which is an added bonus. The opportunity presents itself and you must make the effort. “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Woody Allen famously said: “Showing up is 80% of life.” You get the idea.

    What Makes a Stranger Interesting?
    Talking with strangers gets complicated when there’s a significant age difference, they are a professional athlete, a journalist or maybe 100 (1,000?) times wealthier than you. If these folks are celebrities, corporate or otherwise, they are used to people trying to make connections. What makes a person interesting?

    • Show interest in others -– You’ve seen people crash and burn in dating. They start a conversation by explaining how important they are and how the other person is so fortunate meeting them. You know how that ends. Instead, let them do the talking. Ask open ended questions. “You were the high bidder yesterday. How did you get interested in impressionist art?” Ideally drawing them out identifies interests in common.
    • Demonstrate a diversity of knowledge –– If they are a generation (or more) older, they have friends whose children are airheads and coast through life. They might have some of their own.
      Try to demonstrate a diversity of knowledge. Be able to back up your opinion with facts you can document if necessary. You want to come across as smart and well-rounded.
    • Share common experiences –– Having a likeable personality seems to be a criteria for getting ahead. This often involves the ability to tell a good story and hold people’s attention. This is another opportunity to find common ground. Research beforehand told you they give back to the community. Mention a couple of your volunteer activities.
    • Show some tact -– Your diversity of knowledge can come back to bite you. Of course you’ve heard not to discuss religion or politics. And Mark Twain said, “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.” If you just met the person, you don’t know about their hot buttons yet. Have a point of view without pushing it. If you sense the temperature rising, change the subject and look for common ground elsewhere.
    • Have a sense of humor (or at least try) –- Everyone knows at least one joke teller, but if that's not you, see the humor in everyday situations. Make fun at your own expense. You were making a flight connection and weren’t allowed to board your second flight because the airline’s computer said you already arrived home a couple of hours earlier.
    • Keep it local –- The people you want to know better are either local influencers or they make their money in the local community. Major newspapers cover the national news, so keep current with local current events. Know the issues concerning the new highway bypass or zoning for new residential developments or industrial parks. They will realize you are a contributing member of the community.

    Lots of people come across as superficial. Don't be like that. Being interesting takes effort.

    • Big4Veteran

      An article explaining to accountants how to stop being so boring. How original.

      • Bryce Sanders

        A lot of people really have a tough time walking up to strangers and starting conversations. Sometimes people are intimidated. Boring is obviously a stereotype.

    • Big4Veteran

      Sorry for changing the subject, but is it possible that over the years Going Concern has managed to cover every single topic that ever has been, or ever will be, relevant to accountants and our profession? I’ve suspected for a while that Hollywood long ago ran out of ideas for new movies, so now they just keep creating sequels and remakes and silly CG flicks about every comic book superhero who never had his or her own movie before. Is it possible that Going Concern is approaching a similar end?

      • Bryce Sanders

        First, thanks for writing. Second, some people need help with social skills. I think the plan is to expand the range of subjects covered.

        • Big4Veteran

          “…some people need help with social skills.”

          I like your condescension. This is a +1 in my book.

          • Bryce Sanders

            That wasn’t my intent. Like public speaking, putting yourself out in front of others can be tough. Some people have the knack. Others don’t and life in fine without it. Yet some don’t have the knack but have an interest in learning.

      • Auditor4Now

        B4V you always crack me up.

    • JavierPR

      B4V has a point about running out of new topics. However, the GC has really only ever covered the public accounting profession. What about corporate/industry accounting, insights about the accounting in different industries from the corporate perspective? There you go, gave a another 6 months of material, after that you’re on your own.

      • Bryce Sanders

        Thanks for adding your suggestions for new topics to my article. You’ve brought up several areas members of the profession would like to read about.

        • Big4Veteran

          How do you know what members of the profession would like to read about?

          • Bryce Sanders

            That’s a fair question. When I got involved in write articles, it was on the assumption client acquisition was an area of increasing importance to the accounting profession. One of the many ways it’s done is penetration and networking within the HNW and UHNW community. Often it starts on a social level.

      • Big4Veteran

        This website used to be on fire back when it was an “accounting tabloid”. However, since AG got the boot, it has gotten much more serious. And boring. If I want to read boring articles or news pieces about the accounting profession, there are a ton of boring websites out there. There is (was?) only one Going Concern.

        P.S. Back in the heyday of GC, articles about things like Veruca James (accountant turned porn star) and leaked emails/memos of Big 4 firms doing shitty things were daily occurrences. The fucking CEO of PwC called Caleb “Colin” to his face (he knew Caleb’s real name), because the firms hated this website so much. This website used to perform a vital service to the profession, calling bullshit on the propaganda of the major accounting firms.

    • Auditor4Now

      I’ve found that if getting a conversation started with someone is difficult, one option is to end the conversation. Sometimes it’s not you, it’s the other person.

      • Bryce Sanders

        Thanks for writing. That’s a whole other subject! How to disengage yourself from conversations. You are right. Conversations should never be forced. If you aren’t having fun talking with someone in a social situation, why bother?