How To Develop Emotional Intelligence: The Key To An Easier Life

EQ (emotional intelligence) is more important than IQ. I don't care how smart you are, if you are a weird selfish prick, you won't get as far as someone who is less smart, but gets along with everybody.

In a previous post, I discussed how I was able to stay at a $2,000/night hotel for a week for free.

The travel hack didn't involve writing a review about the hotel or using a gagillion credit card points. This travel hack has to do with building good relationships. Let me share some background and more about the importance of emotional intelligence.

A Client, Turned Mentor, Turned Friend

I have a friend, who was once a client. He is one of the most successful people I know in the finance industry who also happens to be incredibly generous.

For about three years while I was working, I tried reaching out to him to grab a coffee. I sent him e-mails and left him voice messages. And for three straight years I never got a reply. Why should he spend time with a peon like me when he's on his company's board and hob knobs with Fortune 100 CEOs?

I knew he liked tennis, but telling him “I'd love to go hit with you, and here's what's going on in the markets” just wasn't cutting it. He had plenty of more important people to play with. I failed in making an emotional connection.

Finding Something In Common

Then, in November 2009, Andre Agassi, my tennis hero, who had recently retired, published an amazing autobiography called Open. He was in San Francisco for a book signing, and I went. I waited in line at the bookstore for about 30 minutes with the mission to not only shake Andre's hand, but also get several signed copies so I could give one to my father and one to my client.

Now, all I had to do was find some way to deliver it. I didn't want to send it by messenger or mail because there was a high chance the autographed book with my personal note would get lost in the mail. He gets tons of sell-side research that gets tossed without being read. I was searching for a better idea when an opportunity presented itself.

Our group CFO was in town to visit company shareholders. One of those shareholders happened to be the very same client I was trying to get a hold of for the last three years. Because he was based in Europe, I didn't know him from a hole in the wall. Nevertheless, I summoned up some courage, took him aside, and asked him if you could do me a favor and hand deliver the signed book for me.

He thought it was a terrific idea and agreed to do it! These investor meetings are generally quite monotonous. Thus, if our group CFO could make it more personal by sharing such a memorabilia, the meeting itself would be much more meaningful. Sure enough, just 15 minutes after the meeting ended, my elusive client finally gave me a ring.

My Client Finally Responded

Hi Sam! Thanks so much for the book! I'm a huge fan of Andre's and I really appreciate the gesture. When would you like to hit? I'd love to get together. How about tomorrow?

I was in shock, but snapped out of it and immediately agreed to go hit disregarding everything on my calendar. After our hit, we went back to the locker room to shower and change.

There, standing in his underwear, he said something interesting that I'll never forget. “I really enjoyed our hit. We should do it again. How come you never reached out before? I'm always reachable on e-mail.”

I wanted to tell him, “Well, actually, I've been e-mailing you for the past three years with no response.” But instead, I replied, “That would be great! How about next week?” It was December, and the markets were slow.

From that day forward, we became hitting partners, and more importantly, friends. He was always my first call when something pertinent was going on in the Asian markets, and he always put in a good word for me in their annual vote. Every time a senior colleague of mine came to town, he was always happy to take a meeting and say nice things as well. He displayed high emotional intelligence.

Leaving Work Behind

When I told him I was leaving my firm two years later, he was sad. He had enjoyed our professional relationship, but enjoyed our personal relationship even more. In fact, after I left, he kept telling the entire street to hire me, not realizing I had negotiated a severance and wanted to pursue my own thing.

Until this day, he still recommends me for jobs because he's worried about my financial well-being. I tell him I'm doing fine, but he is always trying to find a way to help.

Since I left work in 2012, we've hung out plenty of times. Not only do we still play tennis a couple times a month, I've gone over to his house to watch a Superbowl. We've attended concerts, charity events, and Warriors basketball games together. I even made a trip to London to celebrate his 50th birthday party.

You know who your true friends are when you keep hanging out with them after a business relationship ends. All I wanted was to spend time with a good buddy. I never asked for anything more than his company.

Develop Your Emotional Intelligence

EI vs IQ - How To Develop Emotional Intelligence: The Key To An Easier Life
EQ vs IQ

High emotional intelligence (EQ) can help you build better friendships, find more job opportunities, get promoted faster, build stronger communities, and even score you some free hotel stays.

Here are eight ways I believe will help everyone develop a higher EQ. Don't believe in the discriminatory personal scores Harvard University assigns people by race. We all have the ability to improve.

1) Always give first. 

Do your best to give first without expectation of anything immediate in return. In the workplace, if you're always volunteering to help colleagues beyond your normal job responsibilities, you'll eventually get noticed and rewarded.

In courtship, if you keep treating her to meals, showing her kindness, and making her laugh, there's a high probability she'll accept you as a partner.

With blogging, if you keep publishing content that is entertaining or helpful without charging a penny, you might develop a large enough reader base where you'll have readers invite you to stay at their homes or take you out for a meal (thanks Nicholas from Prague for the beer and the Sato brothers in Honolulu for the sushi!).

Do things with the intention of helping others. The more you give, the more you will eventually receive.

2) Be a super listener.

You cannot learn if you do not listen. If all you do is talk, you're taking the stance that your way is the only way. It's vital to listen to other people's points of view. Otherwise, you'll end up in a bubble that will eventually get you in trouble. 

If more people spent more time listening, the world would have a lot fewer clueless people. When you're with someone, get off your phone. Look at each other. Digest what is being said. Be an active listener.

Developing empathy is incredibly important for developing emotional intelligence.

3) Learn a second language or travel. 

You don't have to learn a second language well to boost emotional intelligence. But you should at least try. Learning a second, a third, or a fourth language will unlock tremendous insights into other cultures. If you're too lazy to learn another language, try immersing yourself in different cultures.

During college, live in the Spanish House. Travel to Japan on your next vacation. Practice Ramadan if you are overweight to appreciate how little food millions of people have. The more you can speak, see, and experience different cultures, the more empathy you will develop for other people.

Related: Living In An Expensive City Can Make You More Empathetic And Happier

4) Volunteer your time.

Giving money to help others is wonderful, but it's one step removed. Try to also volunteer your time. Consider volunteering at a homeless shelter, participate in a demonstration against domestic violence, or be a big brother or big sister to a child with absentee parents. The more you see what's affecting other people, the more you will help other people.

As someone who has run this personal finance blog since 2009, I've received thousands of e-mails and comments from readers. Many are just looking for an answer to one of their many problems. To be able to spend a moment and respond can make a difference, which is why I continue to do my best to respond to everyone more than 14 years later.

5) Expand your network.

Take stock of your immediate social network. Is everybody in the same economic class? Is everybody of the same color or religious background? Does everybody do the same thing for a living?

It's comfortable to hang out with people who look, talk, and act like you. But without a more diverse group of friends, this doesn't do much for your emotional intelligence development. We tend to fear and loathe those we do not understand.

6) Work in sales or service at least once. 

When you've got to constantly work with different types of people, you learn how to listen, adapt, develop patience, and solve problems. Don't sit in your ivory tower and make assumptions. Get a tongue lashing by an angry customer. Provide excellent service and get zero tip.

As soon as you realize how hard it is to please other people, you will be much more empathetic to the every day people who cut your grass, serve your food, and drive you to the airport.

See: Spoiled Or Clueless? Work Minimum Wage Jobs As An Adult

7) Find a common interest. 

An emotional connection can be more easily formed when you find a common interest. Common interests are genuine and cannot be faked. Think back to how much easier you got along with someone who plays the same sport, follows the same team, went to the same university, grew up in the same city, or loves the same music.

I'm instantly attracted to people who love to play sports, are super optimistic, and have their own business. If you are a pickleball player, we'll probably have an instant connect because the sport is my current obsession! The more interests you have, the more you will develop your emotional intelligence.

8) Say a person's name.

Such a simple gesture can go a long way. It shows you remember who they are. You'll also gain another person's attention more easily. Saying someone's name tells the other person you matter.

Don't be shy to write down a person's name in your phone or on a note pad after meeting them. Put in some notes and the date you met to better jog your memory.

9) Spend time apart and alone

After my wife went to Japan for a week and left me alone with the kids, I felt I developed greater self-awareness and self-confidence. I appreciate her more and all that she does for the kids. I also discovered some things about myself.

For greater emotional intelligence spend time alone and apart from your significant other.

Be Nice, You Never Know

The best travel and career hack is to simply be a good friend and a nice person. Building relationships involves developing a strong enough emotional intelligence to be able to relate to all sorts of people, rich or poor, Asian or Caucasian, Millennial or Baby Boomer. Once you build good relationships with more people, life gets easier.

Do not underestimate the power of guan xi.

At the end of the day, people want to help people they like. It's impossible to be universally loved, but it is possible to be more patient, thoughtful, and kind. Give as much as you can first, and perhaps one day, someone will return the favor.

Common Scenarios Where EQ Is Needed

1) When you ask someone for help, especially someone you don't know. Are you being considerate of their time? Did you properly introduce yourself? Did you find a common connection? How about offering something first?

2) When discussing a touchy subject. Have you taken into account where the other person is coming from? Did you properly introduced your background? Have you made a logical argument of your own? Are you projecting your feelings instead of being rational?

3) When you're at a social gathering and want to make friends. Are you smiling? Did you begin with a compliment? Are you looking into the other person's eyes? Do you allow for a 50/50 dialogue split?


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62 thoughts on “How To Develop Emotional Intelligence: The Key To An Easier Life”

  1. Definitely true. Stock market requires more EQ than IQ. It is a test of one’s temperament under pressure. I recommend prospect theory by Kahneman and Tversky for everyone. It is a seminal paper on EQ and behavioral finance. Very important to understand that before venturing in to stock market and real estate market.

  2. This is a really interesting article and a great and inspiring story. I totally agree that EQ is highly important. I think growing up, my EQ was definitely lower than my IQ. But instinctively I realised its importance and i got better at it. But I think there’s always space for improvement, and I think you had some excellent advice, Sam. I think giving back as much as you can without necessarily expecting something in return is really important.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this

  3. My current boss is the wife of one of my USTA teammates. During my interview for the position, I mentioned that I play tennis and she immediately said “my husband plays tennis. Where do you play?” Same club. Same team. Small world. Before the company decided to give me the position, my boss also asked some of the players she knew at my Club what their thoughts were on me, and they all gave me sparkling recommendations. I didn’t know these people that well outside of tennis, but they were so kind to me, and I always ask them to play whenever I have some free time.

    To your point, it’s wise to be kind to everyone and build relationships because you never know when someone will help you out.

  4. Sam,

    I work in software sales and shared this story w/ two of my sales colleagues, both of whom were nationally ranked collegiate tennis players. They loved it! We’re in the middle of a big push to improve our prospecting efforts, and it’s discouraging how few target prospects read their emails / listen to voicemails. Gotta be bold to break through the noise!

    I also like your suggestion to live in the Spanish House in college. Great way to build EQ! Keep up the great content.

    1. Good stuff DR! Which colleges did they go to? Sports is such a great equalizer. Rich or poor, old or young, black or white, if you can play, then game on. It’s so important to connect with people on something other than the work at hand.

  5. Hi Sam,

    I really agree with calling people by their name….instead of just “Hey”. Even when I write notes and emails or texts to people I try to start off with hi and their name. Plus I feel like they instantly become more attentive in the conversation. It may seem so small, but I feel like it demonstrates how we are all humans at the end of the day #that’sdeep, lol.

  6. Wife! When did that happen? That’s the first mention I’ve seen here, but maybe I missed it.

    I would say EQ is at least half the battle and can be summed up as not being an a-hole to others.

    A few of the things you mentioned, I wish someone would’ve told me earlier. Continually refusing offers can make the other person feel bad. Same with consistently refuting or downplaying compliments. Sometimes the right move is saying thank you and returning the favor later.

    A good question is how can you repay someone who already has everything? I’d say with time, since you can’t buy that! If they know you spent your own time thinking of them, I believe that’ll be much more meaningful.

  7. This post is really interesting and resonates with me as I have thought a lot about my lack of EQ and my lack of real friends. Being an INTJ personality type in my 30s as a self employed digital nomad (I have my own marketing firm with all remote employees). I have found it very hard to make friends in Hong Kong. It feels like everyone here is chasing money and when they quickly find out that you are not able to offer immediate career value to them, everything just shuts off. Most of the time it feels like I’m the one that is chasing people to have drinks or meetup. Have you found it harder to make friends or connect with new people now that you are not working in a traditional job?

  8. Nice story. Just wondering, when a friend invites you half way around the world to London to celebrate his birthday, who picks up the tab for flights, hotels etc… He probably has more than enough money to cover everyone, but i’m sure many of his guests are just as financially well off.
    Or he can just book a massive house with his membership.
    First world problems!

  9. EQ is so vital. Especially if you are using it to make the world more lovely and not for the purpose of getting nice things for yourself. I’m very good friends with a woman who is incredibly powerful in her field. (She would never say she is powerful) I’m always willing to help her and never ask her for anything other than knowledge at times. Since I’m not using her to advance myself, sometimes I get to be her Plus One at really fancy events. It’s really fun, but that is not why we are friends. We are friends because of snort laughter.

  10. Finance Solver

    Fantastic story. This bolsters a book I’ve been reading (Blink by Malcolm Gladwell). Emotional Intelligence isn’t just good for connecting with people, it could get you not sued if you are a doctor. Apparently medical malpractice suits aren’t determined by a doctor’s medical abilities but if a doctor asks his or her patient how their day is, etc. and genuinely care about their patient.

    I used to think the word “networking” the wrong way, that I need to get something out of the person, but now I just focus on building relationships and figure out how I can help the person if I can. Great reminder to always give first and expect almost nothing in return!

  11. Mr. Tako @ Mr. Tako Escapes

    Great story. I wish that was true for all industries. I was frequently told in my own industry that I was passed up for promotions because I was “too nice”.

    I actually think I’m pretty lucky I didn’t get those promotions. After Financial Independence I no longer work in that industry, and I’m pretty happy about that. If I had gotten those promotions, I probably would be a ruthless bastard, hell bent on making the maximum number of dollars in my life.

    That’s just not important to me. Being nice is worth more.

  12. As my 85-year old entrepreneur uncle says, “You can never make it in this World alone. You need others to help you (and vice versa) to succeed. Partnerships are important”.

  13. It all comes down to the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    From there the rest usually takes care of itself.

    P.S. Sam, would you like to be my mentor/friend? :)

  14. Richard Stevens

    What an amazing column ! You prove over and over again how wise you are at such a young age. Everything in this article should simply come under the heading “How to be a functioning member of society”. Almost like a “For Dummies” version, getting it down to the essentials but really stressing the human side of our nature. Its not all about the material things at all, its about feeling good about yourself because you made someone else feel good about himself !

  15. The Alchemist

    OK, I have to admit I’m a bit confused here. Why did you spend three years attempting to create a relationship with someone who was unresponsive? What was your goal/motivation? Had the guy originally been just an acquaintance with whom you had good rapport, and whose friendship you wanted to further cultivate? Or were you just pursuing a networking contact?

    I re-read the post trying to figure this out and still am scratching my head. It leaves the rest of the post feeling off-kilter to me, because it feels like you were trying to make friends with this guy precisely because he was rich…. which really doesn’t sound like you, Sam! The whole premise about “EQ” then comes off sounding false. It sounds more like leveraging.

    Straighten me out here, Sam!

    1. Sure. I’m glad you brought this up because I was waiting for someone to do so.

      I had a job to do. And that was service the biggest institutional clients in my region well. That was my initial goal because I failed to serve him well at all for three years. The industry is very competitive, consisting of roughly 50 competing firms.

      But after I got to know him, I realized we had a lot in common, and our relationship was way more than just a business relationship. In fact, if I still worked, I could have leveraged this relationship into a very lucrative role in the business.

      I did not, and chose to go my own path. When perhaps most people would stop staying in touch because there was no more business opportunities, I stayed in touch even more because I valued our friendship. I never asked him for any leads to job opportunities, nor did I ask him for anything financially. All we did was play tennis and hang out all these years. If I wanted to be friends with him just because he was rich, I would’ve asked for something. And although he is wealthier than I am, I am already financially independent.

      I really think if you can pick up a service job or a sales job, you will better empathize and understand the nature of business and how the best business is done when there is no business to be done. You see things on the “front lines” that change you versus staying behind the lines.

      Yes we have to decide who we want to hang out with, help, and continue to hang out with. And you have to ask yourself some important questions: are you happy? Are you happy with your relationships with people? Are you happy with your significant other? Are you happy with the progress you have made in your life?

      And if you are not happy with whatever aspect, there is a possibility that perhaps developing a stronger EQ will help. Can you remind me again? I forget, sorry. Being in the front lines of any business will really test one’s EQ.

      I hope this explains the post better. And I’m happy to hear from you what you think I should have done better and what other strategies one can deploy to improve their emotional intelligence.


      1. The Alchemist

        Ah, ok!! I just wasn’t quite clear on the timeline. Those steady three years of attempting contact were when he was a CLIENT, and it was your job to continue attempting the contact. I just wasn’t clear on when that relationship changed, vis a vis your continued attempts to contact him. It sounds as though the period when you finally connected was very close to the time you took your leap of faith. In which case, this does make perfect sense—and sounds consistent with your general values.

        I agree completely that EQ is critical. And I also agree that there are a LOT of schmoozers out there; folks with money, power, and influence are probably always going to have their guard up, because they are probably always getting smarmed by folks who want something from them. It’s got to be especially precious to them to find genuine friends who truly just enjoy shared interests and activities, and aren’t looking to somehow score via the acquaintance.

        I can imagine there is a LOT of that in the financial world. And yes, in the tech world, there are a LOT of engineer types who wouldn’t know EQ if it smacked them in the ass! Real bores to work with, that’s for damned sure.

  16. This plays out very clearly in the medical world. I remember one guy in my class who had straight 4.0’s every year, but when it came to talking to people, even with patients, he was at a complete loss. He was obsessed with tests and after every exam he would pester nearly everyone about what the right answers were. He smelled weird and was rude almost all the time and didn’t help anyone.

    Smart as hell but couldn’t get along with anyone. Waste of intelligence if you ask me.

  17. The notion of self awareness is a huge piece of EQ. And in that moment when you made a different response in the changing room, that is surely a strong sign of self awareness of your own emotions and intelligently replying with a different ( and right) answer.

  18. Love this story, Sam. It’s fantastic because you were persistent, but in a respectful and creative way. Did you ever tell your friend you had been emailing him for 3 years once you were good friends?

    I like how you also finally accepted your friend’s gift. A long time ago I felt like I always had to be the one giving. But somewhere along the line I realized I was robbing others of giving back to me.

    And I agree… EQ definitely trumps IQ! Luckily you have both. ;)

    1. Yeah, I finally told him the story years later at his 50th birthday party. We were all giving roasts, and this was mine, to highlight how clueless he was :) But first I had to butter him up to take him down in a roast. Very nerve wracking as I had never done a roast before, let alone in front of some very powerful friends.

      But it felt awesome to be just a friend, and NOT in the industry. I was there for his 50th b/c I cared. We talk about life all the time during change overs, and how ephemeral things are. If I went while still employed in finance, it wouldn’t have felt as genuine even though I try to make all business relationships as genuine as possible by simply being a good friend who will always tell it as it is.

  19. Those are great tips. I try to say the person’s name too. That’s a way to make connection. Unfortunately, my EQ is pretty low overall. It’s hard to make connection with other people these days. I’m really bad at reaching out these days.

  20. Great share as always Sam! I’ve found warmth and compassion to be particularly important while running a DC (Defense Club). When people first see me wearing my cut many assume it has negative connotation. When they realize I share insight on self-evolution through love, honor and respect there’s always a paradigm shift. The only thing I’d like to add, if I may, is to be genuine in our approach to building our network. Look for the spirit behind the status. Because spirit warriors will always identify with one another. And then, even if a connection isn’t made, the premise is still justified. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Spirit warriors, I like that. After a while, I think you can tell if someone is genuinely passionate about a subject or about you, instead of just “shipping it in.”

      Everybody attracts people who share similar interests. It’s like the law of the Universe.

      Fight on!

  21. Yes, you’re exactly right that IQ alone won’t get someone that far. EQ is so important and some people are way more natural at it than others. I think I get along with most people but I still have many ways I can improve my EQ. As an introvert I am not the greatest at small talk or bonding with people quickly. But I do think I’m pretty sensitive and try to be patient and caring with others.

    1. I’d agree that a SIGNIFICANT component of EQ is tied to genetics and personality traits. It takes significant energy for me to “network” with others and sometimes I think it’s all for show when that’s not the case.

      I bet I’m similar to you…I’m considerate and aware of what high EQ is, but perhaps can’t execute it all the time or in the right way. Perhaps it’s no different than IQ, and people are much easier convinced that’s more of a natural trait.

  22. FIRECracker

    Having a high EQ is very important. But just having a high EQ but no useful skills won’t get you very far. That’s why I love this cracked article so much:

    One of my fav quotes of all time: “”Nice guy? I don’t give a shit. Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids. If you want to work here, close.”

    That being said, I think Alec Baldwin’s character is a bit too extreme in the “Glengarry Glen Ross” scene. Sure, he’ll make lots of money and whip a few asses, but he has a giant target on his back. You can be an accomplished asshole, but the second you fail (and everyone does eventually), no one’s going to come help you.

    So in order to succeed, you need skills + EQ. IQ is one of the least important things.

      1. Spoken like someone who is maybe over-reliant on their IQ?

        I think the whole message here is to strike a balance between the two. At the end of the day, you want to be right (IQ) but it’s HOW you go about being right (EQ) that makes life easier for you/others and makes people want to open doors for you , literally and figuratively, down the road.

        Always overplaying to our strengths means we don’t expand our comfort zone and gain new skills. EQ is very much a skill, probably a much more nuanced skill than the ones you mention IQ providing.

  23. Great post, Sam! And great job not getting discouraged! I don’t know that I would have kept with it like you did, but wow, did you get a great relationship from it!

    I totally agree that EQ is critical in every business. I feel like it’s made me connect more with our clients, and it helps me be a better attorney to them, too.

    I’m an emotional person, so I tend to use EQ instinctively, but in the business world where there is so much focus on IQ, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much EQ paid off. We get great referrals from those clients, and good clients tend to know other good clients, so that’s a positive feedback loop that is priceless.

    Also, when I needed some client reviews for a online directory, I had no problem identifying a handful of former clients who immediately posted the sweetest, most positive reviews I could have asked for. It really makes my job much more rewarding to know that people are so happy with our work.

  24. Dollar Engineer

    Wow this is a fantastic post! Emotional intelligence cannot be understated. Making connections with others is so valuable. Just meeting new people and connecting with them is always great regardless if they can help you in some way. My main takeaway was when your friend asked why you had never emailed him, you simply said let’s plan on next week for another hit, instead of getting upset he never realized you were constantly trying to get in contact with him.

    I have a professor who I was close with in college. He now works for a big medical device company. Although he doesn’t always answer my emails when I check in with him on occasion, I never get upset with why he doesn’t answer. He is no doubt much busier now than when he was a professor and has a 7 year old. I always make sure to ask how his family is doing whenever we get the chance to talk.

    1. That dialogue was key for this post and for my learning. I failed to make any sort of meaningful emotional connection, and when someone gets hundreds of e-mails a day, why bother responding to one so thoughtless?

      The funny thing is, I told this story to a crowd of like 70 people in London at his 50th birthday party. I was nervous as hell b/c there were a lot of powerful folks there. But everybody laughed. Phew.

      The other good thing to practice is to be self-deprecating. I’ve got to work on that.

      Related: Build Better Relationships By Keeping Things Close

      1. Dollar Engineer

        Ha, that’s great you told the story at his 50th and got a good laugh from everyone. I’m sure your friend was in shock too that you had tried to get a hold of him so many times, but he just missed the emails in the masses.

  25. Stefan - The Millennial Budget

    IQ simply gets you in the door. This evening I have to present ethics regarding Enron for my MBA and one of the topics is the Talent Myth. Basically all they did was recruit top talent and try to please their “A” workers as they believed individuals can drive the organization. The result was a high turnover rate due to the aggressive culture there, not to mention a host of other problems.

    I think to tie into working in sales or services that growing up doing team sports is incredibly important not just for fitness but for learning to work with others. I grew up swimming and I had to learn to deal with many different people which surely helps. I know that it is far different from sales and the business aspect but you can learn many team skills from sports.

    1. The Talent Myth is quite interesting. There is a company in my industry who accepts only the top talent and likely pays the most. While that strategy seems to work for the corporation’s profits, the employee morale is one of the worst.

      I thought the whole “diversity” thing was just a PR stunt, but I definitely see value in having a broad range of personalities and experiences.

  26. robert clayton

    Great article, and good reminder for me about the importance of EQ. EQ always reminds me of a joke what does the A student call the C student: BOSS! Your grades will get you the first job. The ability to build bonds and relationships with you fellow employees will get you every job after that. You have to genuinely care and show interest in people. If you try to fake it they will know, and many times will make a situation worse!

  27. FinanciaLibre

    Nice post, Sam.

    I’d suggest that practicing “reading” people is a big part of honing EQ.

    Listening will get you only so far in many circumstances since people often don’t know – or can’t articulate precisely – what they need. Becoming adept at reading people to understand their motivations, fears, etc. helps you empathize and be better positioned to solve problems and, ultimately, get more for yourself out of the relationship.

  28. Love it! “Give as much as you can first” is definitely a key to being successful in so many things. I know that on my journey to FI that I definitely did not give back enough. I think I developed a high Emotional IQ during that time – but with kids, work and school – the volunteering just didn’t happen that much. I’ve made that part of my mission now though and I already see the benefits. Now that I think about it – we definitely “give first” with our tenants though. We do everything we can to make our apartment their home. They in turn have stepped up and protected our investment – and they often refer us new tenants even years later. A little kindness and understanding can go a long way…

  29. It is always a shame to encounter new people who have strong IQs and very low EQs. I have a few friends who fit the mold, and despite their intelligence, they struggle to find relationship and career success. Their experience illustrates that hard work and unwavering effort aren’t the only keys to success.

    Have you recently read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Sam? I was reminded of many illustrations from that book when reading the story about your friend.

    Of all the advice I have read about EQ over the years, the easiest to recall and implement is speaking the name of others. As Carnegie observed, the sweetest sound to most people is the sound of their own name. I have been able to mask my natural introvert tendencies by developing the ability to recall people’s names after meeting them only once and using their name infrequently in conversation.

  30. The Green Swan

    Wow what a great guy! You are right about the EQ thing and how you need to pursue relationships as a giver instead of what you can get out of that person. Networking with all sorts of people (personal and professional) is important. How amazing for you and your wife to enjoy a trip… complimentary!

  31. Wow, I did not see that one coming! But, I can back you up 100% that EQ is so important. In many careers, a high IQ is the cost of entry. After that, it’s your EQ that will differentiate you and make you successful.

    Spending some time to nurture and develop your EQ is great advice, thanks Sam!

        1. I offered. He wouldn’t accept. My place, although a 2/2 that can sleep 5 relatively comfortably, is like 1/5th of what they are accustomed to.

          I even offered him and his son tickets to a Warriors/Spurs game. But he passed as he had better tickets :) We did car pool though.

        2. Ms. Conviviality

          Thanks, Vicki. That was my guess but it did cross my mind that maybe he got the free stay for just being a nice guy which would have been a better guess.

  32. Apathy Ends

    Great story Sam, you found a genuine friend.

    Emotional intelligence is so much harder to teach, it pushes people way out of their comfort zones.

    I have had software engineering managers tell me they would take an average engineer than can talk/interact with a customer over a top tier developer that can’t.

    I don’t think there are many people that would try as hard as you to get time with a client

    1. You see some of the STARKEST contrast between EQ and IQ with engineers. We all know the engineers were the smartest in math and science and got the best grades in HS. But we also know plenty of very socially awkward engineers, especially here in the SF Bay Area.

      A job is usually a specialized skill-set that can usually be mastered in 6-12 months. After that, it’s all about how you build your network of friends and supporters to get you to the places you want to go.

      Come to think of it, perhaps writers/bloggers demonstrate an interesting dynamic between EQ and IQ as well. Hmmm.

      1. As an IT person with a high EQ, I can tell you exactly what it feels like to have a “normal” set of social skills with people who aren’t quite there yet. People are always surprised to find I’m in IT since I’m so open and friendly. I’m going to leverage my soft skills into a position where they put me ahead, instead of being stuck in a cube in front of a computer for 8 hours a day.

      2. There is a great podcast discussing this topic that I was listening to recently. The guest was talking about the high incidence of depression and suicide amongst super-genius engineers and programmers (~190 I.Q.). The point was that in most cases… as the I.Q. increases, the E.Q. decreases. The discussion continues mentioning university studies showing that ‘success’ is determined 70% by E.Q. and only 30% I.Q. The podcast is here:

      3. is this also something to do with personality, i think i have high EQ, but I am an introverts, so it is really not easy for me to make friend, I tried give first, but it didn’t work, it hurt me badly

  33. Great post, Sam! It reminds me of some of the things my former company did to build relationships with artists, managers, and agents. As an independent concert promoter, we could never *really* compete with massive corporations like Live Nation and AEG on a financial level. At a certain point, they’d always outbid us on a show or tour. But we could built more intimate relationships with personal touches — making someone more comfortable by surprising them with their favorite food or drinks on the road, special gifts like that autographed book you mentioned, and more. It didn’t always pay off, but it often led to unexpected opportunities down the road.

  34. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    Bravo! This is a tremendous reminder. Thanks for putting together such a captivating two part post to drive this message home.

    EQ vs IQ is something I’ve had to develop professionally because it is easier to go for the quick win. I’ve had to remind myself to do the type of activities you suggest, such as consider the activity from their perspective, or to give first. Over time, these tendencies have become second nature, but there is always room for improvement.

    I’m sad to see a reality show with Ryan & Lukas isn’t in the works, but glad to see this was the reason you were able to stay in such a nice place.

    1. Fiscally Free

      I also enjoyed the two-part post. Linking it to the last post was a nice touch.

      I’m glad Sam included the point about saying someone’s name. We had a fellow come teach a class at my office and he kept saying people’s names. It seemed strange at first, but I eventually realized it kept everyone way more tuned in. I had never seen it before, but was pretty impressed.

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