Resist Compliments – Demand Constructive Criticism and the Miami Art Basel Fair

Sunday December 5, 2021

Subscribe and listen to our show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or in Podbean. Share your thoughts and ask questions: Twitter

Download Full Transcript

What Happens Next is a podcast where an expert is given just SIX minutes to present his argument. This is followed by a Q&A period for deeper engagement.

Today’s topic is Resist Compliments – Demand Constructive Criticism and the Miami Art Basel Fair

Our speakers are Steve Herz and Wendy Cromwell.


Welcome to What Happens Next.

My name is Larry Bernstein.

What Happens Next is a podcast where an expert is given just SIX minutes to present his argument, and that is followed by a Q&A period for deeper engagement.

Today’s topics include, Resist Compliments and Demand Constructive Criticism, and the Miami Art Basel Fair.

Our guest today is Steve Herz.

Steve is one of the nation’s premier talent agents and career advisors. He is also the author of the book Don’t take YES for an Answer.

Steve believes you got to want it. You are the one in charge of your future and you need to want to get better if you wish to improve your performance in anything whether that be in school, at work, or with personal relationships.

Steve wants you to focus on developing your soft skills. He refers to talents as your authority, warmth and energy. If you can master these soft skills, then that will catapult your career and your life forward.

Our second guest on today’s program is Wendy Cromwell, who is the founder of Cromwell Art, and she’s one of the top art advisors focusing on building world class collections.

Every month, since the beginning of Covid, I’ve discussed the employment report released by the BLS or Bureau of Labor Statistics. This Friday’s public announcement was another surprise.

As you may know, the BLS publishes two surveys. The most well-known is the Establishment Survey, that incorporates its employment data from the country’s largest firms. And the second is the Household Survey, which utilizes phone calls to 50,000 household to find out if anyone in the family has started a new job. Well, these two surveys this month had very different result.

The Establishment Survey showed an increase of employment of 210,000 jobs in November. In contrast, the Household Survey produced an increase of 1.14 million jobs, or nearly five and a half times more. How is this possible, you might ask? Well, the surveys are really different and capture different aspects of the economy. The Establishment Survey is focused on the largest firms and has low volatility. The Household Survey is terrific because it incorporates smaller firms, entrepreneurial activity and anything outside of traditional large employers.

I suspect that at this stage of the economic recovery, it is the small firms that are doing most of the hiring, which is why the Household Survey is showing such hire increases in unemployment. This should also serve as a note of caution. The unemployment rate collapsed on the month, from 4.6% to just 4.2%, as approaching full employment. With a huge federal government stimulus from the infrastructure legislation and potentially from the Build Back America bill, there will be huge increases in demand for employment, where there are few workers available on the sidelines. A few months ago, on What Happens Next, Jorge Castañeda, who ran for president in Mexico, said that with a shortage of American workers, that these bills would provide enormous incentives for Mexicans and Central Americans to move to the US, to take advantage of the fiscal stimulus. Well, this will be a subject of a future program.

So, with that said, I would like to turn to Steve Herz. Please begin your six-minute presentation.


Steve Herz

Topic: Resist Compliments – Demand Constructive Criticism
Bio: Premier Talent Agent and Career Advisor
Reading: Don’t take YES for an Answer is here


I’m Steve Herz. For the past 30 years I’ve been a talent agent. In my six-minute presentation I will teach you how you can excel.

I was taught that success depended on intelligence, education, hard work and competency. These skills are necessary, but not sufficient. To succeed, you must have a desire for self-improvement and you must develop your soft skills.

Let’s start with your desire to improve.

Your coworkers, friends, and loved ones, they blow smoke up your ass. Resist it. People will lie to you or simply lie by omission. Why? Because the truth hurts and nobody wants to create an uncomfortable situation. Your job is to resist this. Demand constructive criticism from your boss, your underlings, your family and friends, and even perfect strangers when appropriate. You need to stop drinking your own Kool-Aid. Instead, you need to find your own aggressive humility.

Everything you do could be done better, actually much better. For example, in business, your presentations, your sales methods, quantitative analysis, management of people and process and personal relations, could be improved significantly with this mindset.

Michael Jordan worked every day to improve his dribbling, jump shots, free throws and defense, and this is while he was a champion already. He was the best basketball player ever, because he was on a perpetual journey to improve his skills through constant feedback.

Learn from Mike. You need to find ways in your own life to learn and grow in every dimension. Don’t ask for praise, ask for constructive criticism. Listen to it, and then change your behavior and find a way to improve your deficiencies through experimentation and feedback.

This might sound difficult, but there is tremendous freedom in this humble mindset, because learning never ends. You need to appreciate that your profession has been commoditized. I don’t care if you’re the best doctor, lawyer, professor, podcast host, anything, there’s someone who is younger, better looking and smarter who can do your job at a lower price.

Let’s move on to the relative importance of hard skills versus soft skills.

In my research, I found that hard skills, like aptitude, explains only 15% of an individual’s success. That leaves 85% of what makes a person successful based on soft skills. So why are hard skills only 15%? Because in your profession, the hard skills are commonplace. Let’s use neurosurgery as an example. Let’s say the hard skill in brain surgery is knowing how to cut open the brain and remove a tumor. Well, every trained brain surgeon can do that. In neurosurgery, those surgical skills are a commodity and every day, another skilled physician is being trained in that field using the most advanced techniques. Even if one neurosurgeon is better than another, the end user, the patient, doesn’t know the difference anyway, so that’s why it’s commoditized. And that’s true of every field.

The soft skills differentiates the good from the best, especially in the service economy. And the most important virtues are trust and likability. Those things can never, ever be commoditized. If you are someone who people trust and are easy to love, then your relationships will blossom and this is where the game is really won or lost.

Not to say you can’t be successful, but this is the difference between a very good basketball player and Michael Jordan. So, to help you focus on your soft skills, I developed this very simple, easy to remember, acronym. It’s called AWE, A-W-E, AWE.
A, authority, W, warmth and E, energy. Let’s break it down. A, authority. You need to speak with authority, and that means you need to sound in control using your own voice, body language, and your own emotions to define your message. If you are not connected to your own message emotionally, nobody else will be, and you’ve lost your authority. If you have authority, then your message can be trusted and you will sway your audience. If you lack authority, your message will be rejected even if you have the better argument or the better product.

And, authority is something that can be taught. It can be learned. It can be practiced and it can be mastered, because it can be broken down into small parts. So, learn it, practice it, master it, and then just do it.

Let’s move on to the W, warmth. This is all about empathy and making the other person feel understood and acknowledged. The way to do that, use appropriate body language to show your openness and your own vulnerability. If you don’t let the person in to let them know who you are, they’re not going to trust you and you’re going to lose that W, warm trust. How do you do it? Listen to others. Your whole job is solving everyone else’s problem in every situation. You do that, you’re a winner. Show your willingness to acknowledge a different perspective, because the only perspective that really matters in problem solving is their perspective.

And sometimes an admission that you might be wrong, shows your own strength and not weakness. And you’re listening to them, might convince you that their problem was different from what you thought it was when you first started on this process. So, that desire to solve problems with the best solution that isn’t your idea is also very powerful. And to do that, you can use self-deprecation and openness, and that’s going to build trust. And at the end of the day, this is called servant leadership. It’s very powerful.

Think about the finest politicians, managers, and actors. They all have that incredible warmth to build that trust. Think of Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jamie Dimon, Tom Hanks, just to name a few. Like authority, warmth can be learned. If you want to, you can improve your warmth by adjusting your body language, your smile, your open mindset, and that will lead you to be more likable and more trustworthy.

Energy. I want your presence to be a wow. There are times for high energy in communication, and that means appropriate modulation of your tone, your gesticulation, your volume. Positive energy, it’s contagious. It increases confidence, and then when you need to, you bring the energy down when you’re listening, caring, self-reflection, and if you control those levels through the appropriate moment that’s essential to success.

In my own career as a talent agent, I’ve had many clients in broadcast journalism. I’ve seen those who go very far to the top and those who stay mediocre. And it’s not a difference in work ethic, intelligence, any of the things that you might think are important when you’re going through that treadmill of schooling. They are important to get you a seat at the table, that’s the 15%. But what distinguishes the good from the okay? Why are Walter Cronkite, Peter Jennings, Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, household names, but your local newscaster is relatively unknown? It’s because of AWE. The real winners, have authority, warmth and incredible energy. And those are the soft skills that can be taught and mastered, and that’s what we’ll talk about today.

Steve Herz Q&A:

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.


Wendy Cromwell

Topic: The Miami Art Basel Fair
Bio: Founder of Cromwell Art, Art Advisor and Builder of Art Collections

Wendy Cromwell Q&A:

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.