"Q&A with Vanessa Van Edwards"


Book: Captivate

Author: Vanessa Van Edwards

Author Bio: 

Vanessa Van Edwards is a published author and behavioral investigator. She is a professional people watcher—speaking, researching and cracking the code of interesting human behavior for audiences around the world. Vanessa’s groundbreaking workshops and courses teach individuals how to succeed in business and life by understanding the hidden dynamics of people. Vanessa is a Huffington Post columnist and Penguin author. She has been featured on NPR, the Wall Street Journal, the Today Show and in USA Today. She has written for CNN, Fast Company and Forbes.

Vanessa has spoken to groups across the globe from the stage at the Consumer Electronic Show to presenting research at MIT. She has used her research to consult for numerous Fortune 500 companies including American Express, Clean and Clear and Symantec.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emory University in 2007 and is SETT certified with Dr. Paul Ekman, SUBx certified with Dr. David Matsumoto, is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and certified in Statement Analysis. 

1) What is the most embarrassing charisma failure you've had? 

It used to happen all the time where people did not remember having met me before. This was humiliating, humbling and spurred me to level up my people skills to become more memorable. It has not happened in a long time--and I think that means the new skills are working!
2) What is the best book you have read in 2017?
I loved Elite Minds by Dr. Stan Beecham. It is about top performers and a really interesting read. I also loved Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, which helped me rethink about food. And of course, I spent a lot of 2017 re-reading and editing my book Captivate, but I do not think that counts!
3) Who is a charismatic role model of yours?

My role model is Lucille Ball. I have always admired her and found her charisma both on screen incredible as well as her business success. She was one of the first charismatic women on television and in Hollywood.

4) How comfortable are you with public speaking/what is your advice for people who struggle with it?

I used to be less comfortable with it, but now love it. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there are different flavors of charisma. Not everyone has to have a booming stage presence. You can be a soft, persuasive speaker or an energetic, lively one. The key is finding your unique flavor.

5) What are some of your favorite findings from your past research? 
I love our TED Talk research. We analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks looking for patterns. We found the most successful speakers use more hand gestures, smiling and nail their first impression. More on that here: www.ScienceofPeople.com/TED 

"CHARISMA IS THE PERFECT BLEND OF WARMTH AND CONFIDENCE." - Vanessa Van Edwards  

6) What genre or style of book do you usually read?
I read EVERYTHING. Typically one non-fiction book in the morning for an hour to wind up for work and one fiction book in the evening for an hour to wind down before bed.
7) What is next for you as an author, researcher, and public figure? Do you have anything upcoming that you are excited about and would like to share?
I am excited to teach a new course on charisma. I have been expanding our research in this area and have some new skills I want to teach!
8) What was the writing process like for your book?
I have a really specific process I use to write books AND my courses. It goes like this:
  • 1 Big Document. I take every idea in my head and write it down on a document that ends up being 50-100 pages of notes.
  • 10 Mini Documents. Then I go through and see if I can lump things together into 10 to 20 smaller documents.
  • Order the Documents. Once I have them all split into buckets I put them in a logical order. This is the start of my outline.
  • Master Outline. Once I can see the basic chronology I make a master outline—1 long list of all the topics in the right order.
  • Outline within Outlines. After I have my master outline I go back into the smaller documents and make small outlines of them—these become my chapter outlines.
  • Start Writing. I try not to waste too much more time before writing. Because I have learned as soon as you start writing your voice solidifies, your outline becomes more clear and you feel less fear of blank pages (starting is the hardest).
I actually filmed a video talking about some other parts of my process here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXRsa8dnXak 
9) What is the best advice you've received about success and happiness?

Happiness comes in the small things. I think we feel that happiness should be this overwhelming huge feeling, but actually it is the smallest moments--a nice cup of coffee, a funny text, a great run. Cultivate those small moments which bring way more happiness. And happier people are more successful, so I try to have happy days rather than productive ones.

10) Do you plan to write more books in the future?

Maybe! Captivate took 8 years of research and 2 years of writing, so I do not know what else I would write about. But never say never.

11) What’s your best advice for getting through writer’s block?

Never end a writing day on the final word. It is really hard to start fresh at the start of a blank page or new chapter. It is way easier to pick up writing from the day before if you are mid-sentence or mid-paragraph. Then you just pick up where you left off. Once you are in the flow it is easier to stay in it. 

"I'M A RECOVERING AWKWARD PERSON." - Vanessa Van Edwards 

Places To Find More From This Author:

Facebook: Vanessa Van Edwards

Instagram/Twitter: @vvanedwards

Website: www.scienceofpeople.com

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