Bangkok at night, near Queen Sirikit Convention Center.

Bangkok at night, near Queen Sirikit Convention Center.

This past week has been quite busy as both TBEX and DCBKK came to town. A lot of people are visiting Bangkok from all over the world. I’ve shaken hundreds of hands over the last three days.

In situations like these, high value people (who value their time) make immediate assumptions about the kind of person they’re meeting just by their eyes and body posture. First impressions are critical – so in these instances it’s important that we be cognizant of what’s going on.

Lately though, when I go out, I’ve noticed some people who immediately give off a very repellant, haughty sort of vibe.

In expat communities around the world, there tends to be a “spoiled child” or “wasted youth” syndrome that’s become rampant where you have a lot of 30, 40, and 50 year olds who still act like teenagers.

These people go to work in places like Seoul, Taipei, and Ho Chi Minh City (often as English teachers)… where they instantly become gods among men. They’re earning tons of disposable income – double or triple what many locals earn. Whereas they may have been celibate back home they suddenly have their pick of beautiful young women.

I just moved in to a new condo in a new area of Bangkok, a neighborhood swarming with foreigners, and when I go out I often see these types.

They may come up quickly and shake my hand, but clearly offer little regard and no real interest in meeting me. Their eyes dart around as we make small talk, as though they’re not listening. They’re thinking of something else. They act squeamish.

Ten minutes after I’ve introduced myself, they ask, “What was your name again?”

My point is this: if you want to go places in life, if you want be an effective individual and a leader, you need to be firm as a rock in intention and possess resoluteness of purpose.

You should demonstrate this in the way you interact with people – because respect is something that is earned. It starts with your first impression in how you make eye contact, how you engage and build rapport with someone, and in your body language.

Also, if you’ve been reading my work for a while, you know I’m not just going to tell you re-hashed “guru” advice of what you should do – but also offer you something practical to try in order to improve.

So, here are three exercises in order to become a more resolute, more focused person who commands respect:

Count letters on a page to improve your focus

1. The first one is something I’ve mentioned a couple of times – in my new book “Hack Sleep” for example, and in this post.

If I’m waiting for a bus or a train, to pass the time I’ll spend it counting letters on signs or in advertisements. You can do this with a book as well. Slowly count each letter, one by one, until you’ve finished a page. Then keep going for ten or twenty minutes.

Over time, you should notice a deep and lingering focus start to develop. It’ll be easier to keep your eyes focused on one thing, longer. You’ll become less squeamish, and other people will view you as a person who is secure, and comfortable in their skin.

2. This is an exercise I’ve not shared until now, to improve your peripheral focus.

Have you ever sat down and and had a coffee with a Navy SEAL? If you do, one thing you will notice is how incredibly perceptive and observant they are. When you sit down at a table in a cafe and ask: “Who’s behind you?” they will be able to describe each person without a moment’s hesitation.

Navy SEALS describe four states of human awareness: white, yellow, red, and black.

  • White is a numb state where we may be walking down the sidewalk, texting on our phone, and walk into a street pole.
  • The yellow state is more perceptive, perhaps after meditation or when we’re traveling abroad and more observant.
  • The red state occurs during preparation for an intense activity, such as when SEALS are about to begin a mission.
  • And the black state is one of hyperfocus, such as in a combat zone: where you kill everything that moves. Imagine a lion on a hunt:

The lion has a deep and powerful focus.

So here’s one exercise you can practice to increase awareness of your surroundings. Stretch your arms in front of you so that your index fingers and thumbs touch, and your hands form the shape of a triangle.

Keep your eyes looking straight through the space between your hands, and slowly move your arms further apart from one another until they reach the edges of your peripheral vision. Then slowly bring your hands back together to the starting position, and repeat.

This is a great exercise to make you more observant, and more aware of your surroundings.

3. Number three is simple. Have you ever found it difficult to talk with someone and maintain eye contact? Do what I do instead. 

Instead of trying to look at them in the eyes, focus on the triangular area of their face between their two eyebrows and nose.

How to improve your focus with people

This is called the “glabella,” and you should find it’s a much easier area to focus on than the pupils. People won’t be able to tell the difference, and you’ll seem more interested, engaged, calm, and relaxed – a great impression to make in a conversation!

So there you have it. That’s all I have today. Practice these three techniques and let me know how they work out for you.


PS (and a BIG one too) – as a special gift for my 30th birthday – for one day only, Monday 10/26/2015 (US time) my book “Hack Sleep” will be available for 99 cents on Amazon:

Be sure to pick your copy! And if you like the book, please share the link to the Amazon page during the promotion with friends through e-mail and on social media. Also if you write a review for the book on Amazon and let me know, I will be sure to thank you personally 🙂

Take care until next time.

4 Responses

  1. Ryan Biddulph

    Danny, Happy Birthday! Congrats on your new book too. Loving those SEAL tips. Those cats amaze me. The SEALS, and the lions too. Hyper focusing takes practice and strangely, the more we relax into the moment the more we notice what happens around us. I’ve pulled back recently to meditate from 1-2 hours daily. Brilliant practice – with regular deep breathing – to help me focus on the moment, to fully experience life. Which is what you’re doing in Bangkok.

    As for the folks you speak of I do my best to be down home, light, humble and engaging. Every online buddy who met me in person says I’m like the online guy, and that’s pretty much my intent. This life flies by way too fast to be anything other than you. Thanks so much for sharing Danny.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted…Download 7 eBooks for $6.93My Profile

  2. Marie

    Thank you for this. This is helpful for me. It happened to me before when I’m being interviewed. I lost tract on the topic due to eye contact. Now I know where to look at on my next interview. Great!