Several years ago, I went to an all-day Get Motivated Seminar at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

While I always enjoy some inspiration, I did not attend that day to “get motivated.” I went to study the speakers. As a relatively new professional speaker at that point of my career, I wanted to observe what some of the world’s best speakers do (and what they do not do) in order to engage and connect with their audiences.

That day’s all-star lineup of speakers included Hall of Fame NFL Quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, former CBS News anchor, Dan Rather, former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and one billionaire who shall remain anonymous.

Bradshaw was hilarious. I must have laughed for 40 minutes straight when he was on stage, and his speech actually had a good message too. Colin Powell was incredible as well and surprisingly funny. However, my favorite speaker of the day was a guy I had never heard of. His name was Krish Dhanam.

Krish was incredibly eloquent and genuine, and he had one line early in his speech that brought the house down. While discussing an earlier time in his life, he said, “We were so poor that we went to KFC to lick other people’s fingers.”

I didn’t think much of this comment at the time other than viewing it as a funny one-liner. However, after dissecting his speech later on, especially in comparison to those of the other speakers (including one billionaire who nearly put me to sleep), I realized that it was Krish’s vulnerability that made him so likeable and easy to relate to.

With one sentence (strategically placed near the beginning of his presentation), Krish made it 100% clear to the audience that he was a regular guy just like them. Unlike the boring billionaire, Krish wasn’t some guru using his platform to brag about his achievements or to lecture his audience. No, this was a regular guy who was proof of the American Dream. (Note: Krish is also the Author of a great book called “The American Dream from An Indian Heart.”)

Want to build rapport with your audiences, customers, colleagues, friends, and family? Find a way to be vulnerable.

Unfortunately, most people do the opposite. Most people try to impress everyone as much as possible. This actually stems from insecurity.

However, a lack of vulnerability just creates barriers with people who could otherwise become friends. Lack of vulnerability makes it hard for people to relate to you… because everyone has fears, insecurities, and challenges.

When the aforementioned billionaire was on stage, I found it nearly impossible to relate to him. Again, it wasn’t until later analysis that I realized why: he was not vulnerable.

Being vulnerable can be scary because of the myth that vulnerability makes you look weak. This is 100% false. It takes a powerful, confident, secure person to be vulnerable. Give it a try some time. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results…


Pete Leibman is the Founder of Dream Job Academy and the Author of the new book titled “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You.” His career advice has been featured on Fox, CBS, and CNN, and he is a popular Keynote Speaker at career events for college students and at conferences for people who work with college students.