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  • Meet the REAL Bingley

    The interwoven top flaps of the well-used cardboard box were quivering upward with growing urgency. The sides alternatively flexed outward and then receded. It was obvious, what was kept in the corrugated package could not be contained. Soon a prominent black puppy nose split the seam between the flaps. Twitching with discovery, the bristling fur surrounding it also cleared the makeshift crate. Almost instantly, the whole muzzle burst forthPuppy Bingley with the innocent exuberance only an eight-week-old puppy could possess. There was no stopping him—he had to see what was going on! Somehow, lid now open, Barb kept him within its four walls, but to this day, I don’t know how she did it during the forty-five-minute car ride home. The day we picked up Bingley he was all excitement and affection regardless of our status as strangers. Confident and adventurous, cute and happy, we fell in love before we reached our garage that day.

    We wanted a substantial and tough dog, not a giant breed nor a toy. We wanted a versatile dog with a hairy coat for less shedding. Research of various breeds seemed an obvious obligation, one to be taken seriously if one was to find the perfect canine companion. Boy, did we love what we read about Airedale Terriers—loving but protective, smart but mischievous, brave and tenacious. I remember reading “won’t usually start a fight, but will finish one.” Some people from their homeland of England called them “the canine nanny.”

    When do you name your dog? Some dog crazy people like us, work on name ideas for weeks or months prior to the anticipated date your fur baby comes home. So it was with Bingley. Named after a town in the Aire River Valley of England, which was purportedly where the first ever Airedale Terrier show occurred, we came upon the name while researching the breed—Bingley then was the necessary name for our first Airedale Terrier.

    Now decades gone across the rainbow bridge, he was to us the ambassador of

    The Narrator of The First Wolf Pack

    Meet Bingley

    Airedales leading to three more ‘dales added to our family over the years. Handsome, intelligent, confident, playful, loving, and more. His fur was rough and wiry but the top of his muzzle and his cheeks were so kissable, my mother-in-law would often bark out to me, “quit kissing that dog!”

    Bingley excelled at obedience class, soon he mastered all the verbal commands and hand signals as well. But most of his focus was on loving loyalty to me and my wife Barb. He had a remarkable innate desire to please. We did not spoil him—we did our best to give a command only once and make sure it was a command we could enforce—a necessity for anyone adopting a member of this breed. Rather quickly he learned to respond promptly, consistently, and effortlessly. We worked hard to socialize him with other dogs and people. Before he was even one year old, we could take him most anywhere and his behavior would be appropriate.

    But true to so many canine companions, under his love and obedience lay the protective heart of a wolf. One early evening when Barb took him on a walk, three rather mature teenage boys walked toward her and Bingley, three abreast, blocking any potential of sharing the sidewalk. From his mistress’s side, he broke heel and stepped forward. Suddenly, as Barb described it, Bingley puffed himself up, expanding his chest, stopping to stand his ground. Baring his teeth, he locked eyes with the potential villains. The boys  intelligently realized discretion was the better part of valor that day. They yielded the sidewalk, taking to the grass parkway. Bingley and his mistress, turned his charge, had won the day.

    A similar event happened to me. While walking on a beautiful summer evening I heard the sound of an aluminum screen door thrust open along with the panicked voice of some calling “stop.” The owner’s call was useless, a black lab was making a beeline for me and Bingley. Being an amateur trainer, I wanted to take control. I commanded Bingley to halt. He did not. My obedient pet knew when protection was necessary. In what seemed to be less than two seconds the lab was lunging for us. Bingley cocked all four legs and threw himself at the attacker. His mouth must have been open, then shut with force because the lab’s charge was instantly rebuffed as the aggressor let out a loud yelp as his body lurched to one side, its head being forced sideways. The attacker turned and ran back to his home. Bingley had gone for the throat of the larger dog, who probably outweighed him by at least twenty pounds. His temporary assignment completed; we returned home to tell Barb the tale of our protective ‘dale.

    Airedale TerrierBy contrast, we were amazed at Bingley’s tenderness with children. Visiting our friends Rob and Joan at their home when the dog was just a bit more than one year old, Bingley became warmly interested in their young son, Jason who was around two. Following the child, his proud tail wagging with delight, the boy petted and hugged Bingley and the two could not get enough of each other. Giggling and nuzzling Bingley like a stuffed animal, our ‘dale could not have cared less about the toddler’s affectionate mauling—he was reveling in it. After a while they newly made pair of friends tired. As Jason lay on the floor for an impromptu nap, Bingley gently laid against him. When he placed a furry foreleg over the boy in a loving and protective hug, everyone in the room cooed with the warm emotion of the moment. Somehow in his very pack nature, the vulnerable young child he had just met deserved protection and warmth.

    This is who he was, our renaissance pet. He was all we had hoped for and more. This is why he was chosen as the narrator of The First Wolf Pack. Bingley’s tenderness and courage provided inspiration to many of the characters in my novel, especially Fic, the tender and insightful wolf who became an unstoppable force in battle when called to duty.


  • Author to Author: Sharing Books and Inspiration

    By J. Daniel Reed

    Congratulations to the Arlington Heights Memorial Library program team and volunteers for the Lit Stoll, Saturday June 25th held in four downtown Arlington Heights establishments. It was an extremely well-organized event, featuring four Illinois authors—all of whom were wonderful to meet and listen to. I enjoyed the event author to author, sharing books and inspiration.

    Jon Seidel, federal courts reporter for the Chicago Sun Times and true crime author of Second City Sinners

    Mia P. Manansala, award winning mystery/thriller author and her Tita Rose Kitchen Mystery series

    Lisa Barr, New York Times bestselling author, and her latest release Woman on Fire

    Elizabeth Berg, New York Times bestselling author, reviewing her beloved Mason series and more of her work

    On a personal note, while impressed with all of the authors, I want to express what a thrill it was to meet Elizabeth Berg and to hear her thoughts on the importance of reading, on her experience writing books, and on how she came to be an author. IMHO, she is an incredibly talented and lovely soul. While there is no doubt, she inspired many in attendance with her presentation, she especially inspired me to continue my effort to write stories that have personally and socially redeeming messages.

    She reassuringly confirmed that while writing, character’s personalities often surprise her as they are developed, and they can lead her storytelling in unexpected ways. This reality of writing is expressed by current and past authors, including two of my favorites, Ernest Hemingway and Dean Koontz. Having experienced this myself writing The First Wolf Pack and again with my pending novel (coming this fall) it was big-time supportive of my new author experience. Thank you, Elizabeth Berg!

  • Fans of Dog and Wolf, one of the beloved Aesop’s Fables, or those who have ever wondered how the first dog came into being, will be captivated by the powerful novel The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable. With its rich descriptions and memorable characters, the story is a heartwarming and action-packed journey into ancient history told from the perspective of a modern dog. You will discover what every dog knows about the true beginnings of human civilization and the connection between man, wolf, and dog.

    From the Reader’s Perspective

    You’ve heard what the publisher says, but what are readers and reviewers saying? Here is a taste of some of the well-deserved praise:

    Loved it! 
    “A mythical story of the ancient origin of wolf packs told second-hand by a modern dog that shares lessons of cooperation and compassion…It’s a good read for fans of personified animal tales, dangerous adventures, and powerful female leads.” —Jada Wilson, Reedsy Discovery

    An original and compelling tale that captures the very heart of the ancestry of “man’s best friend.” I so admired the attention to detail that inspired such a novel. As I was reading The First Wolf Pack, I saw my own dogs in a new light.”–Beth Hoselton, Artist

    “J. Daniel Reed’s fantasy tale of The First Wolf Pack draws the reader into an imaginary world of two mighty predators who must decide to survive together or fight to the death...The author has created an epic saga of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, or other Norse legends of old, even faintly reminiscent of Eden and the first humans. We learn how humans and wolves intertwine. Those who love poring over those tales will thoroughly enjoy The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable.“–Lisa Lickel, Windy City Reviews

    “I was completely caught up in the telling (it felt like the re-telling) of this legend, and how a society can learn to live together, cooperate, evolve and prosper. Although on one level, it is an engrossing tale about wolves, there are also many good lessons we can all take to heart. If you’re a dog (or wolf) lover, this book is for you. And if you’re not a dog lover, this tale might just make you one.”

    “Great book, written as a fable. The story is told on many levels and makes one reflect on life and what is important. Also, a great book to read with one’s children. Looking forward to more from this writer.”

    You’ll find even more reviews on Amazon

    Where to Learn More and Connect with Author J. Daniel Reed

    You will find The First Wolf Pack on the following websites:

    Amazon , Amazon Canada

    Amazon UK

    Barnes and Noble


    Connect with J. Daniel Reed:




    Have you already read the book? Kindly leave a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Goodreads. Use the comments section on our blog to tell us which wolf-hero is your favorite character!

    The First Wolf Pack

    Buy it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

    “You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.”

    –Paul Sweeney
  • Which character from the novel are you? Take the Quiz!

    Have you ever wondered if you had a spirit animal? Or maybe you have met an animal—even one of your own pets—who reminds you of yourself or someone you know? More than likely you have.

    While there are many famous personality tests around, Enneagram, The Fascination Advantage, Myers & Briggs, and DiSC to name a few, there has never before been a personality test that links you to The First Wolf Pack!

    Let’s have some fun! Take the personality quiz to find out which character from the novel The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable you are. (Don’t forget to share with friends.)


    P.S. When you’re done with the quiz, head back to this page to see the other characters in the pack!



    Meet the Other Characters from the First Wolf Pack!

    You are Casso!

    Small and mighty, you are known as “The Pint-size Powerhouse”. People admire you for your courage, loyalty, and determination. You are quick to help others and are not afraid to take the lead. Likeable and humble, you have many friends and fans

    You are Fic!

    Sensitive and kind, you can almost see into the hearts and souls of others. You have the ability to put your thoughts and needs on hold to help people. Despite your empathetic nature, you can also connect with your inner wolf to ferociously defend your loved ones and protect others.


    You are Ellip!

    Beautiful in and out, you are the clever one with a side of spunk! Smart, curious and unique, you are also fiercely tender to protect those you love. Your sometimes brittle shell reveals a most loving and tender heart. You can wield sarcasm naturally, as an attractive sense of humor


    You are Bord!

    Quiet, brave, and reserved you are the Wolf Pack’s secret weapon. You know your past and are determined to make a better future. You do not suffer fools, cheats, or liars gladly. You love your pack and are eternally grateful for the place they have in your life. You often prefer action to words.


    You are Jett!

    With a calm reserve and easygoing nature, you exude joi de vivre and confidence in your abilities. While you find humor in life, you have also learned the great lesson of acceptance. When you aren’t communicating to the world, you show your devotion to your pack in all you do.


    You are Tria!

    Ever mysterious, you let few close to you. Your many strengths, combined with your suspicious nature, can make you seem intimidating to others. Once you find those who understand you, you shine. Sometimes anguished by your tendency to act before others are ready, you find peace with the friends who know your heart. You will make a great impact on the world!


    You are Arn!

    Large and in charge, you are a natural-born leader. You are a fierce warrior but you also understand that your internal flaws can make for a compelling life lesson. Counseling others, you guide them and love them like no other.


    You are Barr!

    Wise and reserved, with great discernment into your pack and your neighbors, you are one who has insight, understanding everyone. You are happy to lovingly defer praise and attention to others in your pack in spite of all you do.


    You are Versa!

    A wise and tender leader, you are devoted to your pack, discovering solutions to their needs. Fearless and persistent, you eschew fatigue and fear. You lead with trust and can easily communicate with both your pack and outsiders.


    You are Ammer!

    Youthful, but wise and thoughtful, you are charitable to those in need, including strangers. A confident leader, you eagerly embrace the wisdom of others in your service to your pack.






  • There is such a depth of inspiration that comes from art—art of all types, painting, sculpture, music, writing, and more. Creativity unleashed married with God-given talent has produced centuries of inspiring art.

    When I wanted to give my husband, author J. Daniel Reed a special birthday gift to encourage him to finish writing his novel The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable, I turned to the world of art as the source.

    “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” — Edgar Degas

    I searched through hundreds of depictions of wolves, but none of them had the quality I was seeking. Then I saw it— a majestic wolf howling into the night sky with the frost of its breath collecting before it. THIS was the one that spoke to my very heart and soul! I could almost hear its mournful howl.

    And so, the search began. Despite extensive internet searching I could not find this lithograph for sale. As a last ditch effort I contacted the renowned nature artist, Beth Hoselton, directly. What did I have to lose?

    Call of the WildShe told me that the lithograph titled Call of the Wild was made by etching the image on limestone to make the plate for the print. I liked the unique sound of that. I also learned that her wolf model was a Canadian wolf named Tamarack. I loved the name! I will always be grateful to Beth for going out of her way to get the lithograph to me in time for Joe’s birthday. Ah, the kindness of a stranger is a beautiful thing.

    Now, let me tell you a little bit about this acclaimed nature artist. From her biography: “Whether painting jaguars in Mexico, bighorn sheep in the Rockies, giraffes of the Serengeti, or songbirds in the South of France, Beth Hoselton captures the fascinating symphony of nature with both passion and intricacy. Beth was elected a signature member of Artists for Conservation and the Society of Animal Artists. She works in a variety of media including oil, acrylic and watercolor. Her original paintings are in private and corporate collections around the world.”

    I could feel that passion in her lithograph, Call of the Wild. In this excerpt from The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable you can see one of many examples of how the art became an inspiration for author J. Daniel Reed:

    “Jett began calling with soulful howls into the brisk night sky, frosted breath gathering under the moonlight in small twinkling clouds. His first offerings to the night consisted of gratitude for life’s good fortune. Just as Arn and Versa each pondered the prosperity of the pack the summer after the first litter was weaned, Jett’s profound comprehension derived from both the perspective of pup and now as an alpha.

    His songs reached far across the dotted valleys and into the range of Tria’s great ears. Joyfully she realized this meant her brother had now achieved Arn’s dream for Jett. No wolf had ever before sung into the night with wolf-speak, which you humans foolishly call howling.”

    See how that one image sparked this compelling scene? Whatever version of art speaks to your heart, lifts your spirits, elevates you to inspiration, I urge you to immerse yourself in the incomparable power it holds.

    Enjoy the ride.



  • Chicago Writers’ Association

    Book Review: The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable


    The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable. J. Daniel Reed, Terra 3 Communications LLC, November 15, 2021. Paperback and eBook, 220 pages.


    Reviewed by Lisa Lickel.

    J. Daniel Reed’s fantasy tale of The First Wolf Pack draws the reader into an imaginary world of two mighty predators who must decide to survive together or fight to the death.

    When an accidental hunting convergence brings two of the greatest ancient wolves into mortal combat, they realize they are so equally matched that they must use their great intelligence to seek a common goal: survival. Versa and Arn begin to care for each other. Together, they derive an ethic called the Wolf Ways.

    Told in the manner of the great sagas, the narrator, a contemporary dog named Bingley, reveals the secret of contemporary dog heritage through Versa and Arn’s story. Bingley’s tale is filled with lofty wisdom and bits of advice on how to be a family; not just any family but the best at parenting, the best at sharing the role of an alpha couple in a pack, the best at finding nutritious food and cooperation—the first Wolf Way.

    Versa and Arn are notably the first at many things, including digging an inground den to raise their first litter. As the family grows into the First Pack, Versa and Arn form the first wolf council, the Magnificent Ones, and establish the first Wolf Utterance. Soon the offspring grow toward maturity and ponder their parents’ ways. Why do they prosper and live in a pack and work together and not fight like the lone wolves?

    When an intruder assimilates into the alpha family, they teach him their ways, leading to harsh consequences. Eventually, other lone wolves outside the First Pack hatch a plot to attack, and the scattered family packs reunite, hoping initially to make peace and teach the others the Wolf Ways.

    The story occasionally lapses into buzzable page-turning moments, such as when Versa turns to Arn and asks, “Are you as amazed at this crazy, unique life we created? There are no lone wolves who live like we or that know what we know.”

    When Tria is suffering from her turmoil, it takes her father to remind her of her greatness and uniqueness and why she’s driven: “Only you, daughter, share our genes, strength, and cleverness,” he tells her, “and only you can teach the wolf ways.” The advice changes his daughter’s heart, much like taking a Dale Carnegie class, the narrator explains.

    The author has created an epic saga of Gilgamesh, Beowulf, or other Norse legends of old, even faintly reminiscent of Eden and the first humans. We learn how humans and wolves intertwine. Those who love poring over those tales will thoroughly enjoy The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable.

  • J. Daniel Reed

    Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
    I enjoyed a very satisfying commercial real estate career until the pandemic placed a big speed bump on the road of my life. So suddenly out of work, I took the opportunity to chart a new course, to get off the hamster wheel, leave the world of responsibility and stress, and pursue a dream. For this last year, it has never felt like work.

    What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
    The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable, my first book, was inspired by several disparate factors; Love of dogs and wolves, fascination with ancient foundational myths, the grandeur of God’s creation, and contemplating the purpose of fireflies in the grand scheme of creation. Somehow these things coalesced into a story about overcoming ignorance, narcissism, suspicion, and self-pity.

    Do you have any unusual writing habits?
    I like to work early in the morning. I write for hours on end when it starts to flow. I don’t force myself to write when I am upset or agitated by things outside of my writing. Some evenings, especially while we are cooking dinner together, I love to tell Barbara (my wife and publisher) the progress of the characters, and the ways the plot and subplots are heading. Verbalizing this way allows me to hear things outside of my head, and my wife is very helpful with questions, comments, and suggestions.

    What authors, or books have influenced you?
    Dean Koontz, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage

    What are you working on now?
    A gritty story about xenophobia, bigotry, charity, and compassion set in 1920s and 1930s Chicago.

    What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
    As a newbie I am still learning. Right now, I use Facebook, Reedsy, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and am exploring others. My book is only available on Amazon at this time.

    Do you have any advice for new authors?
    Consider Keats Theory of Negative Capability. It gave me the freedom to not feel compelled to outline my stories, but instead, to tap into something creative that is within me but also something creative that is outside of me. I let the story tell itself, not trying to provide answers to every question that pops up during the drafting.
    If your characters wish to advance themselves, but you don’t know exactly where they might be going, trust them enough to follow them. They will tell you their story if you let them.

    What is the best advice you have ever heard?
    With respect to writing: I recently watched a long-form interview of Dean Koontz from 2012 that made me believe I could write novels and that I should. Koontz emphasizes that all work should have a moral purpose—there is an urgent need in our world for stories containing the hope to counteract the negative views that dominate our culture.
    Without quoting Keats, he did address something like Negative Capability when saying “Get in touch with something bigger than yourself, and let it speak to you.” And further described how his first best seller was born—he developed characters and then figured out how they became intertwined, at times following them.
    And he quotes T.S. Eliot: “the one thing that never changes, the eternal battle of good and evil.”

    What are you reading now?
    While actively writing fiction, I may read some non-fiction BUT I do not read the fiction of others. I am concerned that reading other works will potentially derail the uniqueness of my novel as it is in progress, and to potentially interfere with my creativity. While writing The First Wolf Pack, I read Ralph Martin’s A Church in Crisis. A long time ago my employer at that time gave personality surveys to people in leadership positions. I had a strong need to figure things out for myself, preferring to not follow instructions or to comfortably follow others. I needed to take things apart and rebuild them to know exactly how it worked, so to speak…then to rebuild it my way.

    What’s next for you as a writer?
    I want to finish my second novel during the summer of 2022. It is hard for me to look much further ahead than that. But, I do have two story ideas bouncing around in my head that might launch a third novel.

    If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
    The Bible, something from ancient Greece, perhaps Homer’s the Illiad and Odyssey, something from the height of English literature, perhaps Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and lastly, something by Steinbeck or Hemingway.

    Author Websites and Profiles
    J. Daniel Reed Website
    J. Daniel Reed Amazon Profile

    J. Daniel Reed’s Social Media Links
    Goodreads Profile
    Facebook Profile

  • One of the most enjoyable (but challenging!) aspects of writing fiction is the development of each character—their names, their behavioral traits, and the nuances of each character’s personality. I have been asked if any of the characters in The First Wolf Pack were modelled after real people and I can honestly answer both yes and no. The characters are amalgamations of certain personality traits of people I have known, blended with the personalities of dogs I have had the honor to adopt.  After you have read the book, I’d love to know who was your favorite character and why.

    Get to Know the Wolves of The First Wolf Pack: A Dog’s Fable

    -Arn and Versa:  the first Magnificent Ones who establish The First Wolf Pack

    -Tria:  the one who must overcome her viciousness and emotional flaws to become the greatest wolf that ever lived, and in the process, saves her species from extinction

    -Jett:  Tria’s “twin” brother who is her equal in size and strength, but with calmness of heart

    -Fic:  the wolf who sees into the hearts of wolves and men and saves Tria from insanity

    -Bord and Casso:  emaciated orphan wolves adopted into The First Wolf Pack who are willing to risk their lives for their newfound pack

    -Barr:  the only wolf great enough for Tria

    -Ellip:  the beautiful, clever, smart aleck bitch who steals Jett’s heart

    -Ket the Elder:  the most evil and cunning of lone wolves who seeks to destroy The First Wolf Pack

    -Bingley:  the modern Airedale Terrier dog who is granted the right to speak human by the great wolf spirit and narrates the story—hence it is subtitled “a dog’s fable”

  • How did you get interested in fiction writing?

    It had impetus from two sources. The first source was the story about two ancient wolves I made up on a long car ride to entertain my wife. It was entertaining enough that she suggested I jot down some notes, which lay dormant for several years. The second thing that stimulated my interest was hearing an interview with Dean Koontz. I was impressed by his keen view on life and his love of writing fiction. I then took the opportunity to read some of his books during commercial airline flights while traveling on business.

    What interesting facts did you learn about history, wolves, or other topics from your research for the book?

    • The history of the Lupa, the Capitoline Wolf, which dates back to 295 BC.
    • Wolves’ sensory ability to smell while inhaling and exhaling.
    • I was surprised by the approximate 10% genetic variation between wolf and dog; I thought the difference would be less.
    • The geological dynamics of the subduction zone around The Bay of Naples.

    Where did you get the idea for this book?

    The opening scene and the characters of Arn and Versa, including their names, came purely out of my imagination. A few years later a friend gave me an article that reported the earliest zooarchaeology evidence for the origin of wolves was from Italy. Once I matched my ancient wolf characters to Italy, adapting the legend of Romulus and Remus followed.

    Are any of the characters based on real people?

    Yes and no. Other than the historical characters who are obvious, my anthropomorphized wolves are amalgamations of certain personality traits of people I have known, blended with the personalities of dogs I have had the honor to adopt. 

    Which character(s) were the most fun to write about?

    That is a very hard question to answer. I love all of the members of The First Wolf Pack. If I had to pick one, I’d pick two—Arn and Tria. They each had the most psychologically-complex personalities, especially their recoveries from selfishness and ignorance.

    What is the central message of this book?

    The main message is the importance of humility to achieve courage and find fulfilment; plus the overall benefit of the immutable virtues of the Wolf Ways to maximize the success of family and community.

    What would you like readers to learn from this book?

    I hope that readers might contemplate where and when they see God in nature. Also, wolves are intelligent, regal creatures with a highly-effective social structure. The characteristics they exhibit in the story encourage us all to work together in a cooperative mindset.

    Do you have any new books in the works?

    Yes, I am focused on writing one book right now about prejudice and redemption in depression-era  Chicago. I have another set of ideas on the drawing board, but it’s too soon to speak of it.



  • Wednesday - February, 13, 2019

    Stop Making Elevator Speeches

    Barbara Reed - - No Comments.

    Here is a great article to stop telling people what you do and start making meaningful connections.

    Never Again Give An Elevator Speech

    October 25, 2015 by samhorn

    “It’s not about you. It never was.” – actress Diane Keaton.

    Do you know anyone who likes listening to a speech? Me neither.

    Speeches are lectures. Who wants to be lectured?

    That’s why, from now on when someone asks, “What do you do?” never again TELL them.  What?! Here’s an example to show what I mean.

    Years ago, I was on a speaking tour with my sons. We had a night free in Denver, so we went downstairs to ask the concierge, “What do you suggest?”

    He took one look at Tom and Andrew and said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”

    We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was talking about. We asked, “What’s that?”

    He must have known that trying to explain it would only confuse us. Instead, he asked a qualifying question, “Have you ever been to Chuck E. Cheese?”

    My sons nodded enthusiastically.

    He smiled and said, “D & B’s is like a Chuck E. Cheese … for adults.”

    Bingo. Ten seconds and we knew exactly what it was and wanted to go there. They should have put him on commission.

    Why did that work so well? He turned a one-way elevator speech into a two-way elevator connection.  Here’s an example of how you can do the same.

    A man approached me before a presentation and said, “I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told many people. I’m an introvert. I go to conferences all the time, but then I hide out in my hotel room because I hate networking.”

    “What do you mean?”

    “I’m uncomfortable with small talk. Plus, I work in tech. I can never explain what I do in a way people can understand it. It’s so awkward, I rather just avoid it.”

    I asked, “Want a way to introduce yourself that isn’t confusing or awkward, and that can actually lead to a meaningful conversation?”

    He came back with, “Is that a rhetorical question?”

    I asked, “Don’t tell to explain what you do. That’s like trying to explain electricity.  Instead, describe the real-world results of what you do that we can see, smell, taste and touch.”

    He thought about it for a moment and said something about credit cards, online retailers, financial software and computers. The light bulb went off in my mind. “Do you make the software that makes it safe for us to buy stuff online?”

    He lit up. “Yes! That’s exactly what I do.”

    “That’s good … but don’t tell people that.”

    He looked at me, puzzled. “Why not?”

    “Because if you explain, ‘I make the software that makes it safe for you to buy things online, they’ll go, ‘Oh,’ and that’ll be the end of the conversation.

    You don’t want to end the conversation; you want to open a conversation.”

    “So what do I do instead?”

    “Ask a three-part question that gives people an opportunity to share how they – or someone they know – may have experienced what you do.”

    “What’s this about a three part question?”

    “If you ask, ‘Have YOU ever bought anything online,’ and they say ‘No,’ you just ran into a conversation cul de sac.

    If you ask, ‘Have you, a friend or a family member ever bought anything online … like on eBay, Travelocity or Amazon?’ you just increased the odds they’ve benefitted from what you do or know someone who has.

    They may say, ‘Well, I never shop online. But my wife’s on Amazon all the time. She loves the free shipping.’

    Now, link what you do to what they just said, ‘Well, our company makes the software that makes it safe for your wife to buy things on Amazon.’

    ‘OOHH,’ they’ll probably say.  Believe me, an intrigued ‘OOOHH’ is a lot better than a confused ‘Huh?!’ or a disinterested ‘oh.’

    Their eyes will probably light up and their eyebrows will probably go up. They now relate to you and are more likely to remember you. Furthermore, you now have a mutually-relevant hook on which to hang a conversation which means you’re both more likely to want to continue the conversation.

    All this in 60 seconds and all because you stopped TELLING people what you do and started ASKING how they may have experienced what you do.”

    He actually got a little misty-eyed. I asked him, “What’s going on?”

    He told me, “I can’t wait to get home after this conference.”


    ” I can finally get across to my eight year old son what I do in a way he understands it.”

    That’s the power of turning an elevator speech into an elevator connection.

    How about you?  What do you say when asked, “What do you do?” What do your co-workers say?  Do your responses cause confusion or create connections?

    You might want to turn your next staff meeting into a brainstorming session where everyone crafts two-way introductions that genuinely engage people in mutually-relevant conversations that are a win for all involved.


    By the way, this is just one of 25 ways to create more mutually-meaningful communications featured in my new book Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with Anyone.  You might want to check it out and discover for yourself why it’s been endorsed by Dan Pink, Keith Ferrazzi, Miki Agrawal and Marshall Goldsmith who says it’s a “must for every leader.”