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The Social Strategist Author Q&A Case Study (Learn from My Mistakes!)

Hello everyone!

If you haven't seen it yet, the Q&A with Lucio and me has been uploaded.

For context, when I finished the interview, I felt I could've done better.

On the one hand, I was willing to cut myself some slack and be a little laid back in the interview because:

  • I was happy to see my friend, Lucio, on a Zoom call for the first time: so I prioritized having a good time over "perfect" verbal and nonverbal interview communication
  • I'm a language learner and I'm currently immersing myself in Jamaican Creole (Patois) which is broken English: so the better I get at patois, the worse my English seems to get—and we did that interview at a time when I was still working on getting my English fluency back
  • It's been quite a while since I've done an interview: and I needed to dust off the rust

However, on the other hand, I also feel a certain responsibility to represent TPM and PU well when I'm presenting myself as a PU student, TSS author, and mentee of Lucio.

And, that's where I feel I fell short.

So, I've decided to turn those mistakes into a value-give, if possible.

The following is my analysis of all of the areas where I think I could've done better in the interview as well as the reasoning behind each mistake.

Enjoy :).

#1. "You've mastered the art of the Clooney..."

A case where my brain failed me :).

What I was thinking was:

Ali: More than the compliment, I read your "How to Be Charming" article and I loved it. I went through PU where you encourage men to be social charmers as opposed to meatheads or cold blooded archetypes, and I see you doing it so well, it's one of my goals to reach your level of charm someday and receiving a grand introduction like that makes me smile because it makes me think of how awesome you are and how far I have to go to catch up to you. Thank you.

Unfortunately, in the chaos of all of my thoughts, my brain omitted the aspects that would've put my "thank you" more in the green. (The sentences bolded above highlight that I'm dispensing positive judgment from a position of looking up to Lucio).

Hence, why when I finally started to regain control of my brain later on in the Q&A, I made the effort to call attention to my power move so viewers could see the dynamics for themselves as a way of "calling myself out" on my own mistake.

More than my mistake though, another learning opportunity is in how Lucio handled it.

No overreaction and no major assertive response to "put me in my place". He simply smiles warmly, waits for me to finish, and continues on.

If I may say so, a kind act in the face of my social blunder :).

#2. A missed "thank you"

Lucio: And, plus I say, the sales call bit, man, you're at a point where I could only copy/paste. I could barely add any value to what you say.

Ali: (looks away) Yeah, yeah,'s funny because we had just gotten done having a regular conversation and then I said, "Would you like to do the honors?" And then, the introduction you gave was so good I could've sworn you prepared for it, but it seems it was off the cuff. Awesome, thank you.

If you read the latest thread exchanging ideas on the sales page for PU, you'll notice that Lucio shared his own thoughts and feedback.

And, there was even a point where we discussed a line that I thought should be removed that he decided to keep in the final copy.

So, as much as I appreciated his compliment, I felt that the compliment was unfair to him because he also brought value to the sales page.

So, I didn't feel fully comfortable accepting it, hence why I got the urge to look away (as if to dodge the compliment 🙂 ) and begin using "yeah's" as space-fillers while I tried to think of something to say back that's not socially uncalibrated in the face of having just been given emotional and social value (emotional because it made me feel good and social because it built me up).

In the end, I decided to give a compliment back in order to balance things out.

And then, even though I refrained from prefacing my response to his compliment with "thank you", I still ended it with a "thank you" because I wanted to communicate to Lucio:

  1. I appreciate his compliments as a mentor: it's OK to allow your mentor to give you emotional value and show appreciation for that value because it makes for a better relationship (as opposed to the mentee who feels he must be emotionally independent of everyone and everything in order to be more "alpha" all the time—even when in conversations with his mentor).
  2. The judgment on his introduction is more in the green: I judged his introduction, so by adding "thank you" it makes the compliment I gave him more of a value-giving compliment and less of a "power move".

#3. "I don't think you need the help"

Lucio: How would you define it Ali? Help me with this one...

Ali: Yeah, I mean, I don't think you need the help, at the same time...I have an oversimplification of it...

Lucio builds me up by asking for my help.

However, he's asking for my help on something that's crucial to the core of his business: a definition of power dynamics.

So, in order to power-protect my answer, I say that I don't think he needs the help, a way of acknowledging that he's the social scientist (the authority) and while I'm happy to answer, it's not because he needs my answer.

Then, I avoid negating that power-protecting with "but" by instead saying "at the same time" and then moving into a definition that I frame as an oversimplification (which is another form of power-protecting because it doesn't claim to be "the official and accurate definition that Lucio couldn't come up with on his own").

Plus, you might have even noticed that I made an additional small effort to distance the conversation away from the idea that I was helping Lucio with that question by saying "the help" instead of "my help".

So, the mistake here isn't necessarily in what I said, but in how it was said.

It was a good response that could've been smoother.

For example:

Lucio: How would you define it Ali? Help me with this one...

Ali: Well, for the record (a better softener), I don't think you need the help, I do have a less scientific definition though (a better, clearer form of power-protecting) that I use sometimes to explain the concept to others...

However, maybe I'm simply nitpicking at myself here (I'm a sucker for feedback sometimes, even if it's coming from myself :).

#4. Missed opportunity for better value-giving

Ali: And, the book would've been amazing, it simply would've been hard for people to see that.

Not so much a mistake, more of a way to take a good move and make it even better, would've been to say:

  • "And, the book would've been amazing, it simply would've been hard for some people to see that.": adding the "some" implies that while some people would've found it difficult to see the book's value, others would have (and, that would've been a true, honest, and fair statement to make given that Lucio has some awesome unpublished books that are upgrading the lives of many of his readers as I type this 🙂 )

#5. Additional minor slip-ups

General things to avoid:

  • Looking up or down: looking up is considered dismissive and looking down is perceived as submissive. So, better is to look to the side as that's neutral.
  • Licking lips often: can be perceived as a displacement signal (a sign of nervousness) if one is not careful. If possible, simply put on some chapstick and avoid it.
  • Throat clearing: albeit it only happened once, it's also a form of displacement signal

Here's a good lesson/takeaway from the interview to wrap up this post:

#1. Positive persuasion frame control

Ali: (commenting on the title of the book) I think it was the right way to go, in part, not only for what it means in terms of the book's content, but what it means for what readers are able to become when they graduate from the book, which is sort of an introduction to Power University....

Lucio: ...yes, I think that's the perfect getting your feet wet into power dynamics and social strategies...

You might notice that when I was asked about the title I was in a bit more of a marketing psychology mindset there, mainly because I had decided on the title based on what would resonate the most with potential readers so they'd pick up the book and take action on consuming the awesome content.

And, this book endeavor started out as an idea I had for driving more traffic to (and awareness about) Power University.

So, I made the comment that the book is something of an introduction to PU.

That means that if Lucio wanted to only agree he could've simply stuck to saying "right, right...yeah, it's perfect for getting your feet wet into PU."

But, instead, he agrees and redirects away from the course and more toward the book's topic which is more persuasive because it:

  • Avoids coming across as over-promotional: now, it's not about PU, it's about the lessons you can learn inside of it. And, it's up to you if you want to gain those lessons from PU or another resource out there (which is a de-emphasize persuasion technique).

More than the persuasiveness, it was also value-giving to the conversation because it allows us to move away from being salespeople and simply be two authors connecting on a video call, discussing something that had fun working on together.

So, thank you for the class act, Lucio :).


If anyone disagrees with anything in the analysis above or would simply like to give more feedback, please feel free to share (happy to read your thoughts).

Lucio Buffalmano and Bel have reacted to this post.
Lucio BuffalmanoBel

Thank you for the breakdown and kind words, Ali!

One could go into details (and I'll pick just 2 below), but the main thing is that, overall, I think you did fantastic.

Including from a personal point of view, a TSS marketing point of view, and a social skills / relational point of view (and happy to read if anyone has any further feedback).

Considering the recording and tech issues and the fact we didn't prepare too deeply -you didn't think I was going to ask you the same back, and I hadn't planned going through the questions albeit I should have because I think you said so :D- we did well.

On your looking down, or sideways, I saw it as a non-issue.
Sometimes it's good to look away, even down, to increase warmth or dissipate some intensity -whenever first meeting someone, especially a man meeting a woman, it can be a great strategic move to look away so you "allow" them to scan you and that increases trust-.

Clearing throat / lips licking, also totally fine within certain limits.
It's just a different vibe: the one that follows the "rules" to perfection gives more of a vibe of "perfectly rehearsed", while the one that breaks more rules, especially that one that come most natural, has more of a "chilling and chatting" approach, and I think for longer content and what we went for, the latter may be more suited.

Marketing VS catch-up chat

I think we may have had two slightly different approaches.

Personally, I had more of a "let's sit and chat" point of view, including my approach of answering the question constructively and with a talk format, while it seems you expected more of a "I ask, you answer".

And you were more on point with the goal of marketing and talking about TSS.

Actually, thank you for that, it was a good rebalance as you were the only one who mentioned the best-seller achievement.

In any case: great, and great to know. Now we know what to clarify for next time.

Marketing VS product: 2 different approaches, but high time to properly define "power dynamics"

Quote from Ali Scarlett on October 10, 2022, 11:58 pm

Lucio builds me up by asking for my help.

However, he's asking for my help on something that's crucial to the core of his business: a definition of power dynamics.

So, in order to power-protect my answer, I say that I don't think he needs the help, a way of acknowledging that he's the social scientist (the authority) and while I'm happy to answer, it's not because he needs my answer.

Great point on the definition of power dynamics.

You're perfectly right, seeing it from a marketing and sales perspective, but even from a "business image" point of view, that was an important moment and a potentially loaded question to send back to you.

Actually, my bad for not better clarify my position on that, a missed opportunity to turn what seemed like a lack of clarify, into an advantage.

I'll do it now:

Historically, TPM has been less about presenting itself well, and more about expanding the discipline and delivering great content.

And that's all the more obvious when it comes to these foundational principles and definitions.

The way I see it is like Steve Jobs said:

You can only connect the dots going backward.

So, paradoxically, it's the most foundational concepts and definitions that take the longest.

It's not by accident that the first articles here were more techniques and single power moves, and the more foundational articles took longer -including many more to come-.
To develop great foundations, you should take time, and always be willing to revisit them (a great advantage of written content products over videos, BTW, since most people who do videos never revisit or expand their earlier videos).

However, you make a great point: from a marketing perspective, that doesn't sell well.
Edit: and nobody says that you can't do both: great products, research-bsaed work, plus solid marketing.
Plus, by this time, there is enough clarity that one can come up with a good, comprehensive, and great-sounding answer to "what's power dynamics".

So maybe time to have a proper definition that encompasses both the power/status/achievements part (what you stressed), and the "everyday social skills" part (what I was adding).

More feedback, happy to read

If anyone has any feedback, happy to read.

Ali Scarlett and Bel have reacted to this post.
Ali ScarlettBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?