This past November, my friend and I had the honor of meeting legendary rocker Alice Cooper at the annual horror convention Days Of The Dead in Chicago. Yes, I’m a horror fan and will no doubt write about the inspiration I get from the genre at some point.
I always get nervous when I meet a famous person. Not necessarily because they’re famous, but because I want to believe that they’re as cool and nice in person as they appear to be in the press. In this case, Alice Cooper was exactly how I thought he’d be: courteous, warm, and attentive. As cliché as it might sound, he came across as a regular guy who just happens to be a real-life rock star.
The more I thought about the time I spent with him, the more I realized that we can all learn a thing or two from Alice Cooper beyond his wicked performing or golfing skills. The three takeaways I received from this experience were: Listen to your audience; be present in your conversations; and make the other person feel like they’re valued. Alice did all of these things with everyone he met that day, and I’ll never forget it. Here’s what they mean to me:
Listen to your audience
My friend and I were in the middle of a line of approximately 500 fans. When we got up to where we could see Alice, I noticed that he would pause and look at every single person he met in the eye, sit back, and converse with them as if he was talking to a friend. I had just as much fun watching the man interact with people as I did having my photo taken with him.
The next time you meet someone for the first time, remember to stop and take the time to listen to what they say. Listening shows that you care about people and appreciate their interest and attention.
Be present in your conversations
My friend had just had an important surgery four days before we hopped on the plane to Chicago. However, he wasn’t going to let losing a body part stand in the way of meeting one of his idols and he let Alice know that. They ended up having a conversation about how amazing healthcare is nowadays, and all the incredible things that surgeons can do. The details got a little gory, but this seemed appropriate since we were at a horror convention.
When you looked at Alice’s face as he talked with my friend, it appeared that there was no other place he’d rather be than right there, in that moment, having a normal conversation with one of his fans. If you’re present in your conversations, you’ll not only gain insight into that person’s perspective, but you’ll probably discover a way that you can help them, as well. The result can be a new client, friend, or at least a pleasant conversation.
Being present means focusing on the person with whom you’re interacting so they know that they have your undivided attention. This conveys respect and makes people more willing to trust you.
Make people feel valued
I was able to listen to Alice talk to many people during my time in line and not once did he talk about himself except to answer questions from fans. It was a pretty incredible thing to watch. It’s most likely that not all of your conversations will be as interesting as one with Alice Cooper, but if you treat people like they’re a “star,” then I think you’d be surprised at the possibilities that could come out of talking to them.
Making people feel valued shows that you appreciate them for who they are. It also demonstrates your humility and grace despite any amount of success or fame you’ve achieved.
Meeting Alice Cooper was a truly amazing experience that made a huge impression on me. Not only is he literally a rock star, but he’s also a rock star at life. Despite his status, he still takes the time to make everyone around him feel special by listening to them and giving them his complete attention. There’s a lesson to be learned from this for all of us.