How to Make Someone Feel Extraordinary by Saying Very Little

A three-step approach

Barry Davret
Published in
5 min readJan 1, 2020


Photo: 10'000 Hours/Getty Images

I walked into his office, a defeated salesman on the verge of quitting. Two hours later, I joined his mentorship program and signed a loan commitment for $12,500.

Nobody had ever made me feel like I was a man of such importance and stature. I strutted out the door, feeling like I owned the world.

But it didn’t start out that way.

I had stepped into his office hesitantly, intimidated by his display of success. The walls displayed photographs of his skiing exploits from all over the world. His desk featured the requisite “Man with Mercedes” photo. All of the trinkets on his shelves looked like museum pieces.

This guy had seemingly achieved it all; I was barely able to pay my bills. I hadn’t earned the right to occupy his airspace, I thought to myself. What the hell was I doing there?

It took him one minute to relieve my unease.

He invited me to sit.

“Just one sec,” he said.

Then he turned off his cellphone and placed it in his desk drawer. He called his assistant and asked her not to interrupt him unless there was a family emergency.

He took out a fresh notepad and pen and sat across from me. After exchanging brief introductions, he opened with, “Tell me about your struggles.”

He scribbled notes furiously as I spoke. When I stopped, he prompted, “That’s interesting. Can you tell me more?”

He’d throw in other questions (what he’d call “reversals”), not to frame the conversation but to keep me talking. The one or two times he wanted to change the direction of the discussion, he’d first ask permission.

By the time we had finished, he had filled up four pages of handwritten notes. He summarized his conclusions on a giant whiteboard labeled “Barry’s Action Plan to Hit $250K.” I told him my goal was $100K, but he responded, “After hearing your story, you’re capable of so much more.”

Fourteen years later, I consider his mentorship program the smartest investment of my life. It was an insane amount of money for me, and I’m still amazed at how he sold me: He had barely…



Barry Davret
Writer for

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