DJing is being re-invented. Learn how to not get left behind.
Read this article to learn how to leverage music to create unprecedented nourishing experiences with large groups.
Most DJs. They focus on technicals. They think about BPM, transitions, and tracklists.
Does the audience care?
If you ask them, they will say yes. But, psychologically, they don’t. Psychologically, the audience cares about togetherness.
The audience cares about feeling connected to the DJ and to each other. And DJs have no idea how to evoke this feeling.
This is the great incongruity — DJs focus on what they think the audience thinks they want. But the truth is that the audience craves belonging and social acceptance. The technicals of music are not the best approach to fulfilling this want.
This is why I am calling for DJs to evolve to the next phase of party culture with me. A party culture that focuses on belonging and uniting experiences.
This is the age of the party scientist.
A party scientist focuses on connection, not technicals. A party scientist speaks to the audience and cultivates a sense of WE. A party scientist forgets about looking cool, thereby enabling every audience member to let go of their self-consciousness. A party scientist is radically different than a DJ. And radically better at producing an exhilarated sense of unity.
DJs play music, party scientists use music to ignite play.
Amidst the loneliness epidemic, the world needs DJs to evolve to party scientists. The rewards are there.
How to evolve from a DJ to a party scientist?
In my adventures throwing parties in 12 different countries, I have learnt a lot about facilitating potent experiences. These are 5 steps I recommend every DJ take to nourish their audience, not just musically but spiritually.
Introduce yourself and your intention — Speak from your heart about the experience you want to create for everyone. Be vulnerable. Don’t try to look cool. Make sure the audience knows that you need them to make it happen.
Radically express yourself — Audience members are looking at you for cues as to what is acceptable. If you jump and shake your head, they will too. If you take off your shirt and throw it, they will be more open too. If you cheer and yell, they will too. Use the microphone to make your expression public. Simple phrases like “I love this moment!” work wonders.
Invite your audience to look at each other — Eye contact is the emotional highway. Simple episodes of nonverbal connection can do wonders to create togetherness. Use the microphone to get people to look away from the stage and smile at a few people.
Play singalongs — Singing is an evolutionary social-bonding process. When humans sing together, endorphins are released in the human brain. Use the microphone to lead the singing. Make sure you sound bad so that others are not self-conscious.
Break the divide — Most DJs are separate from their audience. Break this separation. Invite people on stage or go join the crowd. When you get off your pedestal or invite other people onto your pedestal, you make everyone feel welcome.
Example: Do what Steve Aoki does.
My thesis is this.
If you want to have a larger emotional and physiological impact on your audience, apply the science of social-bonding. Be a party scientist when no one else even knows what this means.
And remember: Your audience thinks they want one thing, but really craves something entirely different.
The audience craves being celebrated by their fellow fallible creatures.
There is a science to building belonging. Here’s what I have learnt from my own experience building peer groups and communities.
Do you have a tribe? Does your brand have a tribe? Are you looking to create a tribe?
This is my tribe. In this photo are dozens of experience creators and facilitators who I nominated to join my community, PEAK-XP. It feels like I have known them for ages.
A tribe is defined as a close group of humans who share a concern for each other’s welfare. A tribe is a little bit more extreme than a community. A tribe stands for something. A community may just exist around a shared activity, whereas a tribe has a purpose and identity.
My tribe is a group of thrill-seekers who value health, personal growth, and playfulness. My community PEAK-XP is a platform for me to interconnect my tribe and offer them value. It’s located on Slack.
Travelling the world studying the science of social bonding and immersing myself in different tribes taught me that there is a science to engineering belonging.
In this article, I want to share the 20% that got me 80% of the results. I hope the lessons help you create your own tribe, strengthen your brand’s tribe, or inspire you to improve the tribes to which you belong.
I think that building tribes and connecting humans to one another is one of the greatest acts of generosity. Helping others by connecting them with others is not often compared to buying gifts for someone or taking them out for dinner. But it is more powerful!
I believe tribe-building is a form of giving, and so I implement these principles in my day-to-day life.
Cultivate shared purpose and values.
Again, again, and again, I read about the importance of purpose and values. The specificity of who is in your tribe delimits the belonging that can be experienced within the tribe. If the purpose is not thought out, your tribe will suffer the ‘everything and nothing effect’ whereby members of your tribe do not know why the tribe exists and who the tribe is for.
The purpose of your tribe is the shared outcome that everyone is working toward. Is it personal growth, cooking expertise, animal ethics, or marriage improvement?
Reflecting on the purpose of your tribe and the values that underlie this purpose is essential to building a self-sustaining tribe. That is… one that operates regardless of whether you are there fueling it.
All of this ties into the mistake of overinclusion. With diversity and inclusion as the new focus for many leaders, the importance of exclusion has been lost. Your tribe is not for everyone, so do not include everyone.
For years, I included everyone in my community. Finally, I drafted some core values and started being selective about who I let into my tribe. This is one of my sign up forms for my community. You can see that joining my tribe is not for everyone.
Stories were the medium for transmission of cultural information before the invention of writing and computers. In copywriting, story-telling is one of the most powerful ways to sell a product. The same applies to tribe-building. Humans are wired to resonate with others’ experiences. We are empathetic beings and can’t help it.
Stories relating to the origin and values of your tribe will stimulate interest in the tribe and also strengthen your shared purpose and values. Stories inspire people to live the tribe’s values. Stories also inspire people to join the tribe.
Stories, of course, contain a protagonist. This is the main character who goes on a journey to overcome a particular challenge. This challenge is significant. Resonance with the protagonist in the story what attracts more tribe members, especially if the purpose of your tribe is to address said challenge.
Here’s an example of a story.
One of my tribe’s core values is Thrill. We define it as openness to new experiences, seeking the excitement of new experiences and connections.
During my workshops, I like to tell the story of arriving in NYC for the first time. I did not know anyone, but regardless I decided to attend a high-profile networking event in a high-rise. I showed up alone and introduced myself in front of fifty people as a party scientist. Everyone laughed. Then, given a last-minute opportunity, I decided to lead a session during the event on the science of bringing people together. It went well.
My courageous networking and leadership led me to make some awesome connections. I met the leaders of massive communities in the city and was invited to a private event for facilitators and event producers.
At that event, I did not shy away from the opportunity to lead. With the 20 people I wanted to connect with, I led a group sit—which erupted in a cheer at the end. Then, multiple people wanted to talk to me.
My embodiment of thrill led me to build a network of friends and collaborators in NYC, in less than a week.
My tribe members resonate with the challenge of building belonging in a new environment, meeting new people, and facing the fear of embarrassment.
Focus on the first impression and the last impression.
A pivotal moment in building your tribe is when someone joins the tribe or arrives at one of your gatherings. Research on memory has shown that humans remember the beginning, peaks, and ends of experiences. This means it is important to begin a relationship on a strong note.
My goal during these moments is to make newcomers feel accepted, valued, and included. I begin my gatherings very intentionally, with connection games and energizers. When new tribe members join my online community, I reach out to them personally to welcome them, and I nominate them to introduce themselves and ask for help.
For gatherings, the last impression is just as important as the first impression. Would people come back for more if the experience merely petered out? Or if it ended with a bang and a feeling of “I want more”? My favorite rituals for ending my classes are designed to produce this feeling. They include appreciation circles, inspirational speeches, and vulnerability sharing.
Create a platform to tighten the tribe.
In Tribes, Seth Godin says that leaders give people a platform for organizing around a purpose. This platform is one that enables intercommunication between tribe members. The easier it is for members to connect with one another, the more likely social bonds are to form. This means community leaders must be intentional about building a platform that enables members to connect with one another. And they must create an environment where engagement and reaching out is encouraged.
I have implemented a private platform for my tribe to connect with one another and for community engagement to be visible to everyone.
Ask for help.
I remember a quote from an article in the Harvard Business Review, written by Brenee Brown: “She found that asking for help was the #1 trust-building behavior in a survey of over 1,000 leaders.”
In my own tribe, I encourage people to ask for help because it is the basis for belonging. I role model the behavior and I also have created a digital message channel strictly for asking for help.
Here’s a summary of my principles: Be intentional. And exclude.
Remember: relationships are slow. Be patient. Belonging develops slowly, over repeated encounters. Rushing belonging is not the right approach.
Trust me, I have rushed for 70% of my life. And it has led to some below-average communities.
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This is my plan for ending the loneliness and depression epidemic that plagues modern society. In one sentence—we must upgrade how humans gather and socialize.
This manifesto explains my dreams, declares my life’s purpose, and defines the human connection movement. I describe my core values and life philosophy, based on the science of happiness. My intention is to inspire human connection professionals, aspiring and established, to view their work as a part of the solution to a public health emergency.
Welcome to the modern renaissance.
Since the establishment of social media and rampant consumerism, belonging and social trust have decayed North America. According to research reported by the Atlantic, interpersonal trust continues to plummet in America. And historically when this happens, nations fail.
In the last 30 years, there’s been a shift. From WE to ME (See Instagram.com). Community involvement and civic engagement is on the decline. ‘Getting ahead’ is common vernacular. People are hoarding supplies for the financial or institutional collapse (See Google: Toilet Paper AND Covid). It doesn’t look like cooperation will win.
Have you noticed the shift from WE to ME?
Have you been to a gathering and observed that most people are there to show off their lives, not to connect with humans outside their clique?
Have you noticed that most videos on Youtube about motivation or success focus on egocentric pursuits instead of community-centric pursuits?
Have you scrolled on Instagram or TikTok and witnessed the epidemic of attention-seeking and external validation?
Have you felt the rise of ‘self-image management’ in how people present themselves online and in the real world?
Sometimes, it seems like we’re all trying to compete with each other on who is living a better life… doesn’t it?
It was not always this way… you know.
Our tribal ancestors were vibrantly socially connected. They regularly came together and danced. They had rites of passage for youth. They raised their children communally, looked at each other in the eyes, took care of each other, shared rituals… and most provocatively, they defined success in collectivist terms, not individualist ones.
Take a look at the anthropological record, and you will quickly confirm the vibrancy of community life. It’s mostly been lost.
How our ancestors embraced communal life and ritual is illustrated in countless records. In Dancing in The Streets: A History of Collective Joy, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich draws from anthropological research to conclude that communal rituals and celebrations are innate to the human species.
Ehrenreich describes the communal values of indigenous tribes and chronicles the decline of these values during industrialization:
In today’s world, other people have become an obstacle to our individual pursuits.
In Healthy at 100, author John Robbins explains that vibrant personal relationships were a conspicuous characteristic of the centenarian zones, including the Japanese people of Okinawa, the Hunza people of Pakistan, and the Abkhasians of Russia. For one, these people shared experiences together.
Not only do they plant and harvest and eat together, but people share with their neighbours the experiences of birth and bereavement, of children marrying and parents dying. In this way, the community is able to take part together in the most joyous and frightening moments of life. — John Robbins, Heatlhy at 100 (pg. 33)
People in these communities cared for each other.
In Okinawa, Hunza, Vilcabamba, and Abhkasia, there is a deep sense of human connection and social integrity. People continually help one another and believe in one another — John Robbins, Healthy at 100 (pg. 284)
Tragically, as Robbins explains, western culture and modernity have reached even these remote peoples. As a result, their cultures have decayed and the people are no longer living long and healthy. Diseases of modernity have reached even these populations.
It’s disheartening, isn’t it? But it sure makes sense. The strength of one’s social relationships is known to predict longevity. And modern culture does not prioritize depth of relationships.
Research has shown again and again that the healthiest thing we can do is spend more time engaging in meaningful, face-to-face connection.
I created VYVE to revive a culture of connection in the modern world.
Western culture has been plagued with egocentrism, materialism, and consumerism.
According to landmark research by Tim Kasser from Knox College and Richard Ryan from the University of Rochester, these three isms are damaging our health and relationships. They found that goals in the four areas shown below contribute to a higher sense of well-being and goals in the three toxic areas/values can actually breed dissatisfaction and increase both anxiety and depression. These toxic goals perfectly embody western cultural values.
In the words of Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections — Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, “Just like junk food has taken over our diets, junk values have taken over our minds and made us sick.”
As human connection professionals, we are taking a stand for a different way of life.
We know about positive psychology. We know that the quality of our relationships is the most important factor in our happiness. We know that the research on human well-being has proven beyond a doubt that relationships are more important to our health and well-being than our individual success could ever be.
Informed by the research, we believe… The authenticity and vibrancy of our personal relationships is the strongest indicator for a good life.
To live life to the fullest, we must question mainstream cultural values. They cause us to miss out on what’s really important in life: contributing to a community we love, working on projects we love, and sharing experiences with people we love.
We choose to prioritize the moments where we feel most alive. Moments where we feel heard, accepted, empowered, and ignited. These moments would not feel the same — and in many cases, would not even exist — without other humans.
These moments characterize humanistic communities. These communities cultivate the vibrancy, authenticity, and well-being of their members and their interconnections. Humanistic communities are under attack by a virus. A virus of the mind—hyper-capitalist dogma and profiteering. Accumulate, control, and protect resources at all costs.
In the current mental health crisis, we see the need for an overhaul of western cultural values. From individualism to collectivism. From achievement to community service. From distrust to open-heartedness. Humanistic communities must be revived and rebuilt.
As human connection professionals, we have devoted our lives to building humanistic communities and to giving the elixir of life—human connection. We believe this is the most effective way to advance human well-being.
As a community of professionals, we empower each other in our quests. We help each other increase our impact and our financial freedom.
to give the elixir of life — human connection.
face-to-face human connection is the most commonly-practiced health habit and is prescribed by doctors more often than any other medication.
1. A local headquarters for human connection professionals in every metropolis.
2. A physical social club where human connection practices are facilitated on a daily basis in every metropolis. Like CrossFit, but for human connection.
3. A global institute whose purpose is to create new human connection professionals and entrepreneurs.
We envision a global network of thousands of human connection professionals across the developed world, comprising hundreds of local chapters. In these physical spaces, facilitators will work together to engineer, launch, and lead businesses about human connection.
They will also facilitate human connection modalities, in the night, in the morning, and in the day. Every day.
Picture this. You arrive in any city and you can find your tribe immediately — other people who deeply value human connection and want to give it to as many humans as possible. You have like-minded entrepreneurs to mastermind with, and there’s nightlife experiences that actually nourish you.
Our Philosophy — the 5 Vs
Vibe: I take responsibility for my life and my vibe.
Vitality: I prioritize my physical, mental, and social well-being.
Vibrancy: I see myself and others as limitless sources of positive, playful energy.
Vulnerability: I ignite fun and belonging for myself and others.
Venture: I seek the thrill of catalyzing new connections and experiences.
We embrace the presence of others fully by creating, initiating, and contributing to connections.
We generate our own courage to create epic moments and express our radically authentic selves.
We sacrifice our egos by giving up the need to appear cool or high-status, to create fun and belonging for others.
We bring people together through celebratory rituals, dance parties, and sing-a-longs wherever we go.
Our Identity as Human Connection Professionals
We are facilitators of community and connection
We are reviving a culture of human connection
We are nurturing vibrant relationships in our lives
We are elevating our selves and our impacts together
We are the life force of the modern renaissance.
By building communities about human well-being, we are combatting the epidemic of loneliness and depression in this world.
By spreading belonging and positivity wherever we go, we are giving normal people hope for the future of humanity.
By empowering others to become community catalysts, we are reminding every human of what they know intuitively…
My name is Jacques. I am the founding party scientist of VYVE. I have led communal celebrations on the mainstages of festivals, within the double-decker buses of London, in the Zoom rooms of Fortune 500 Companies, and throughout public streets, subways, and beaches of 12 countries counting 🌎
VYVE began as a public health initiative founded in 2017. During my Pharmacology degree, I worked as an emergency medic at music festivals for three years. Reviving dozens of young people motivated me to start a sober partying company called Party4Health.
Under Party4Health, I brought thousands of strangers together at hike raves, bike raves, beach parties, street parades, and even… underwear runs. All without a single city permit. Leading hundreds of parties, workshops, and gatherings, I learnt how to design and facilitate shared experiences, unlock human expression, and foster meaningful relationships and belonging.
Fundamentally, I am motivated by the public health benefits of meaningful human connection and community. I have dedicated my life to envisioning, engineering, and leading communities because I am alarmed by the degradation of mental health and human connection in western culture… due to COVID, social media, and mainstream cultural norms.
We are self-deception machines that employ altruism, conversation, and kindness to show off.
Learn about the hardwiring of humans for social and reproductive signalling. In other words, we are programmed to seek out social status.
The elephant in the brain is the colloquial term for the collection of dark, yet obvious, motives of homo sapiens. The Elephant in the brain is also a book written by two psychologists that explores the hidden motives for human behaviour… most of which are about reproduction.
Here’s an example of the elephant in the brain in action:
We like to think we are doing things for others, but really we’re doing things to signal that we are a worthy ally to others.
Studying the elephant has shifted my paradigm on human behavior. It has stopped me from deceiving myself. It has helped me cultivate self-compassion for when I engage in selfish behavior.
In the book, they offer analogies to describe the three segments of our brains: The Rider, the Elephant, and the Path.
The Rider is the conscious mind. It makes slow, thoughtful decisions. It is lazy and depletable. It requires effort to engage.
The Elephant is the unconscious mind. It makes automatic quick decisions. It is where the evolutionary programs live. It is socially and sexually hardwired. Motives under the elephant are often subconscious.
The Path is the environment. It is the choice infrastructure: the external situation that makes some choices hard and some easy. The path ‘nudges’ to make certain decisions. In a really significant way according to behavioural economists. When the path is controlling us, we stick to the default option. We do not opt for another choice.
Another analogy described in the book is the idea of the press secretary. We think we are the president, but really this is our unconscious mind. The press secretary of the president is the conscious mind.
Here are my insights and upgrades from the book.
We, human beings, are a species that’s not only capable of acting on hidden motives — we’re designed to do it.
We are designed to conceal egoism.
Appearing egoistic in front of others is damaging. It reduces social trust. So, the elephant hides our egoistic behaviours. It deceives us into thinking we are being altruistic, when really we’re trying to raise our social status.
The elephant conceals selfish behaviours with noble ones.
My Application — Look for the selfish motives in others altruistic motives. Be cautious with others’ selfless acts. Not everyone is truly giving without expectation of anything in return.
Social norms exist to punish uncooperative behavior.
Following social norms promotes survival. It promotes trustworthiness. Following social norms is a social signal that you’re a part of the group.
An example of the protective mechanism of social norms exists with violence. Social ostracization results from harming or betraying another human. The consequence of being isolated is far greater than the potential revenge of the person being harmed.
The risk of being ostracized as a result of transgressing a social norm encourages people to behave — it encourages people to not harm others through violence, stealing, cheating, etc.
My application — Carefully select the social norms you wish to transgress. Weigh the risk and reward.
Enlightened self-interests are interests we should aspire to adopt.
This is the term that the authors give to pursuits that are selfish, but via altruism and prosociality. A great example is philanthropy or volunteering.
My application — Adopt a service-mindset. Help others become better. Instead of competing, cooperate. Become the resource to which all others rely. This will raise your social status.
Signals are demonstrations that you are worthy of allyship or sex.
Without illustrating your virtues, they are worthless.
Signals are outward social behaviours designed to show off your fitness for allyship or reproduction. One example of a signal is our work ethic. It goes up when others are around.
Modern day signals involve our digital lives — Facebook and Instagram are just amplifiers of signals. When we share how great we are, more people want to be are friend or have sex with us.
We must accept that status-seeking is hardwired into humanhood.
There are two forms of social status: 1. dominance and 2. prestige.
Prestige signalling involves showing off expensive things, either financially or energetically. Expensiveness is defined here in terms of resource-intensity. A peacock has a very expensive tail because it is a burden to them.
Dominance signalling involves showing off one’s capacity protect one’s position in the social hierarchy, which determines one’s access to reproduction. Dominance is gained through greater capacity for aggressiveness and competitiveness.
In everyday life, there are dozens of signals.
Body language: Laughter, eye contact, and physical mirroring are all means to build rapport and gain allyship with others.
Conversation: Knowledge sharing is a means to show off how many tools we have in our backpack.
Consumption: We show off what we consume to illustrate who we are and how many resources we have.
Education: Getting a degree or certificate has less to do with competency than it has to do with displaying credibility.
Beauty: We embellish ourselves to show off our reproductive potential and dominance status (for men).
Studying the elephant has led me to lower my expectations on the average human. I don’t want to expect them to be altruistic, because I will be let down.
This book has also given me a framework for having compassion for others selfish pursuits — we are all guilty of misleading others because we mislead ourselves.
In one sentence, if I were to summarize the harsh conclusions of the book:
The elephant is selfish and almost all of its actions are intended to promote survival and allyship with our kin.
Learn why you should never lie. It does more harm to you than you think.
Lying is a choice to not cooperate with others. I have decided to stop lying. Let me give you some reasons why you should too.
Doesn’t it feel horrible to lie? Yes, it does, it haunts us for the rest of our lives sometimes.
When we lie, we refuse to give someone a clear picture of reality. When we offer false encouragement, we do the same. When we try to prevent our loved ones from experiencing disappointment or embarrassment, we are putting a band-aid on the issue. Down the line, our lies eventually surface and lead to more harm than if we had just been honest.
Do you want to be regarded as trustworthy? Do you want to be regarded as someone who offers unbiased feedback? Do you want people to trust your word? I want that. I want people to take me seriously. I do not want to be the boy who cried wolf.
When we lie, we program others to ignore our word. We give people bad expectations about ourselves. “Jacques won’t show up. Jacques won’t fulfill his commitment. Jacques is manipulating me.” I never want people to gossip like this about me. So, I pledge to stop lying.
My pledge was an outcome of reading an essay, Lying by Sam Harris. Here are my takeaways and how I am applying them to my life.
Truthfulness is different from fact-fulness. Truthfulness is a trait characterized by the intent to communicate with honesty. To be truthful is to communicate your reality — what you know and feel. To be factful is to communicate an objective reality determined by science.
Truthfulness is a virtue. It’s a sign that you want to invest in a relationship. It’s a sign of respect: This person deserves to know my truth.
When you lie, it actually increases your deprecation of others. It conditions you to dehumanize others; ‘they don’t deserve the truth.’ When you lie, you are exercising the wrong muscle — cynicism.
When you lie to another human, you categorize them differently than how you categorize yourself. You deserve the truth but others don’t.
Omission and Comission
There are two forms of lying. White lies, and blatant lies. White lies are when you knowingly exclude or omit information. Ex: False encouragement. When we make white lies, we undermine our friends’ clarity of reality. We protect their inaccurate picture of reality. We protect them from discomfort.
Lying by omission has an energy problem. It takes physical energy to step up and take the responsibility to communicate honestly with others. In some cases, it will just not be worth the potential conflict. Imagine telling people what you actually think about them all the time. That would be exhausting.
Avoiding blatant lies is a lot easier. These are lies that are committed. This is deception — when you knowingly give someone inaccurate information. These lies are active. Whereas, white lies are passive.
My application: I avoid lying by omission in relationships that really matter to me, and in high-stakes situations. I do not lie by commission.
It takes effort to track your lies. There is a heaviness to reflecting on the past so that your actions are aligned with your lies. To keep your lies from being discovered, mental accounting is required. Mental accounting drives you out of authenticity — you always have to be thinking about whether your actions will reveal your lies.
Summary: Liars must keep track of their past so that they are not found out in the future.
Those are the main ideas from the essay. In one sentence, lying is a refusal to cooperate with others; a recoil from a relationship.
Moving forward, I intend to adopt the following behaviour changes.
— Do not lie to others in front of others.
— Do not lie by commission.
— Do not falsely encourage others when you think it’s a horrible choice.
In this article, you will learn a game that unlocks creativity and play in a group of up to 5 people. Ready to expand your prosocial toolkit?
When I researched improv, my mindset changed. I learnt that there was a philosophy, a framework. It was not just fun and games. improvisers think differently and practice principles. I soon realized I wanted to incorporate these into my own practice.
One of these core principles is Yes And: Build off another person’s expression, don’t block it. This principle is encapsulated by the distinction between responding to someone with ‘yes, and’ and with ‘but.’ When we respond with ‘but’ we’re fault-finding. Our curiosity is not active. Our cooperativity goes down. The speaker feels less encouraged to share more.
When we respond with ‘yes, and’ we are getting excited about, expanding on, and validating what has been shared. We approach the interaction from a place of collaboration, not competition or argumentation.
Argumentation is generally not prosocial. Exploration is.
I want to argue with people less. I want to give up my dogma and get curious about others’ experiences. Yes, And helps me do this.
All that to say, I invented a game based on this improv principle. I have used it with groups all over the planet. Here’s how to play:
Person 1 begins with the following sentence stem: What if “event happened in our immediate situation”? Ex. What if you heard a big explosion outside your window right now?
Person 2 responds very concisely: I would “action.” Ex. I would run outside with a speaker and play music. Then, person 2 adds another layer to the story: What if “event happened”? Ex. What if everyone was already dancing and the explosion was a confetti cannon? Note, it’s best when each player responds with a single concept or response. Less is more.
Person 1 (or 3) responds: I would “action”… And then adds another layer.
And so on.
The story being created can involve one protagonist or two or three. Start by using one protagonist that everyone responds as. This means that all the players are pretending to respond as the same person.
When to use this game
This game is perfect for activating the imagination and playfulness of small groups. I usually play with groups of 3 or 4. This is a great game to open people’s minds for creative thinking. It’s a great warm-up.
When the game gets boring, change the game. Add a layer of complexity. Modify it.
And always remember: When someone wins, the game is over.
Learn how to create the permission for others to express themselves.
Role modelling is at the center of creating safety for others. If you’re not expressing yourself, then don’t expect others to be express themselves. Most people are just waiting for someone to break the ice and create a permission force field for quirkiness and authenticity.
The acronym DIE, which refers to ego-death, outlines the three approaches for producing safety for others. These strategies are about the first letter, D: Demonstrate risk-taking.
In my free Masterclass, I go into more depth about DIE, and the plethora of approaches to creating interpersonal psychological safety. You can sign up for it here.
Be involved in the moment
Presence is about being in a place and not being absent-minded. Involvement is presence plus engagement. This means that you are interacting with the moment, contributing, creating, and playing with it. Presence is a great start. But on the spectrum of passivity to activity, presence is in the middle. Involvement is on the active side. Involvement is the opposite of consumption.
Disclose about yourself and your feelings
When we disclose to others how we are actually feeling, people feel our authenticity. When people feel our authenticity, they feel safe to authentically express themselves too. The meaning of authenticity is the alignment of actions and feelings in the present moment. By being the first person to disclose something real, something you’re feeling, you create space for others to do the same. When disclosure is embodied, it means that the feeling is actually present. This is what people feel through your voice.
Be the first
The first dancer, the first one to cheer, the first one to reach out, the first one to trust. Being the first is about giving up on waiting for fun, and taking responsibility for creating the fun. Don’t wait for others to start doing something. Be the first. How I like to do this is by being the first to approach, the first to get excited, or the first to admit something about myself.
Here is me being the first one to dance and initiate a dance party.
This was a brief summary of one the modules in my course: The Fun Intelligence Quotient. Sign up for my lab and be the first to know when it is released.
Learn ten simple tools to produce magical human moments.
Read this if to upgrade your virtual facilitation skills. I will share 10 of my go-to strategies for designing high-ticket corporate virtual experiences.
It has been a year and half since I was forced to develop my virtual facilitation skills. I return to this article with new insights about Zoom and virtual activities.
At first, I was a total amateur. I did not know how to use a mixer and microphone. My database of games and tricks was small. And, my studio was ugly. Period. How things have changed…
Today, I lead virtual experiences for conferences, LUSH Cosmetics, Accenture, and other Fortune companies. I have hacked the code of producing the exhilaration and liberation we thought was only possible with a giant physical festival stage. I want to share with you some of the codes.
Codes that go beyond good quality audio and video.
Now is still the time to become a master in facilitating virtual human connection!
#1: Designate a speaker.
Give people turns to speak. In a large group, interruptions can destroy the psychological safety within a meeting. If people want to speak or ask a question, I encourage them to let me know through the chat function. Alternatively, I use people’s names to nominate them to speak.
#2: Leverage music.
Music is the universal human language. Before starting an event, I like to play a lighthearted song, one that everyone recognizes and one that elicits laughter. As an example, you could play the Circle of Life or Whitney Houston. Here’s one of my favourites that always works.
#3: Leverage movement.
Getting enough blood flow to the brain is important. Physical exercise releases endorphins. These improve our mood. I like to have my participants stand up and clap to a song or follow a few simple movements. You can have your participants lead these movements, as well.
#4: Leverage visualization.
At the very beginning of my video calls, I leverage visualization in two ways. I get my participants to imagine they are in a room together. And, I encourage my participants to imagine their best friends’ smiles in the room with them. Afterward, I get everyone to share a smile with everyone else on the video call. And perhaps a creative gesture.
#5: Ensure two-way communication.
If participants are watching instead of interacting with others, it is less likely they will experience joy and belonging. I use the break-out room function in Zoom to allow more interactions among my participants. This assigns them to small groups so that there is more space for participants to speak. I also give my participants ways to interact with one another. For example, I use an open mic at the end of the event called the Unconditional Round of Applause.
#6: Let participants be seen.
To be seen and heard is a psychological need. During group activities, I spotlight different participants. This means that the entire group sees them on the screen. This gives them a chance to say hello to everyone else on the call. Meeting hosts, stop hogging the spotlight!
#7: Show and tell.
Being home-bound puts us in proximity to a lot of meaningful keepsakes. I like to have my participants share a meaningful item with the group, oftentimes accompanied by a short story. This has been successful in fostering emotional closeness. It’s best to use the breakout function for this activity.
#8: Play a game.
There are hundreds of games out there. Jackbox and Deepfun.com are two great resources. Two of my favourite games are called No No No Thank You and It Could Be Worse. These games are great because they are simple, short, and require no interface.
#9: Do or watch something laughter-inducing together.
Shared laughter is medicine. Find a meme or short video that is innocently funny. Share your screen and computer audio, and voila! Make sure to unmute participants so you can hear everyone laughing. An excellent example is the sheep-check in exercise.
#10: Do a compliment shoutout.
This is a gratitude exercise. I encourage my participants to either (a) use the chat to describe and compliment what someone did or (b) I give the mic to someone who wants to verbally compliment another participant in the group. Oftentimes, without the explicit permission to recognize our peers, we don’t do it. This is an excellent way to end meetings.
Send me an email or comment below with one action you’ll take to apply this knowledge. Research suggests that, otherwise, you’ll forget everything you just read. Email: email@example.com
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How to initiate moments of joy and connection. For You.
My happiness has been repeatedly elevated by moments of human connection for which I have been responsible. When I catalyze a ritual or experience of human connection, it never fails to fill me with joy and fulfillment. I witness the smiles and connections I generate. It fills my soul.
It is this feeling that has inspired me to write this article.
FQ is a different approach to happiness. Sure, happiness is an inner game. Emotional intelligence is important too. But, what has taken my emotional well-being to the next level has been bringing people together and setting them free. This is the underpinning of FQ.
This article is a course outline. I will teach you my methods for bringing people together, but also the life philosophy that motivates me to do it. This life philosophy is about the inner game — our quality of mind. But also, it challenges the conventional definition of the good life.
My hope is that this article blossoms into an online training, and then a book. It has been too long that we have overlooked the relationship between joy and bringing humans together.
The Fun Quotient
a metric for one’s ability to initiate positive interpersonal interactions.
FQ is one way to measure your interpersonal competence. Your FQ goes up when your competency in three core skills goes up.
The ability to access a prosocial state.
The ability to produce interpersonal psychological safety.
The ability to evoke positive emotions in interpersonal situations.
Humans with high FQ leave the humans lucky enough to be in their presence elevated, energized, and confident. Do you remember a time where you felt fully seen and empowered by another? FQers create this emotion, but they also elicit excitement.
FQers create permission for authenticity and vulnerability. This is the most foundational skill for anyone interested in bringing people together. Whereas most facilitators use self-disclosure or sadness to normalize vulnerability, high FQers know how to use goofiness, joy, and self-deprecation.
Competency #1 — Activate the prosocial state.
Everything flows more easily when you are in a prosocial state and when your guests are in a prosocial state. A prosocial state is a relaxed, un-self-conscious, positive state. Consider getting into a prosocial state as the lubrication of your creativity… graphic.
There are three methods for entering a prosocial state. You can apply these techniques for your own state and for your guests’ state — 1. Raise your heart-rate. 2. Optimize your thoughts. 3. Elevate your mood.
A prosocial state is also characterized by an internal sense of psychological safety: “It’s safe for me take social risks, I’m not afraid of rejection or judgement, I’m on a growth journey.” When we believe it’s safe, whether it’s safe or not, we can take action. We can fall on our face and get back up. We can learn and practice.
In the course, I will go into all three in detail.
Competency #2 — Create psychological safety.
Interpersonal risks are actions of expression or non-conformity. On the mild side of the spectrum, an interpersonal risk could be a smile and wave. On the extreme side, it could be getting everyone’s attention and initiating a line-dance. Interpersonal risks have rewards and dangers. The risk-reward ratio is favourable. Trust me.
Psychological safety is defined by a shared belief that interpersonal risk-taking will be celebrated, not shamed.
To create psychological safety, interpersonal risk-taking as a facilitator is necessary. Often, facilitators use self-disclosure and emotional vulnerability to create safety. FQers use silliness, positive expression, games, and excitement.
For the FQer to take action, they need to not be attached to the result. They must know that its the courageous action that counts, not the result. Being in the gladiator arena is what counts. Not whether you make mistakes. These beliefs reinforce a sense of internal psychological safety I was talking about earlier.
In the course, I elaborate on the principles for developing an unconditional internal sense of psychological safety. I also present the different tactics for creating psychological safety in social environments.
Competency #3 — Uplift your humans.
This is the final competency of FQ, and it stands on the foundation of the previous competencies. This foundation is necessary for the activation of creativity, vulnerability, and play — via the activation of positive emotions.
FQers know that positive emotions reduce stress, boost creativity, and enable deeper human connection. FQers may activate positive emotions for their own sake, or for the sake of nurturing closeness and self-disclosure.
FQers do three things to activate joy — they invite and celebrate human expression, they take the playful path, and they evoke prosocial energy. This energy is the additional emotional expression that is unlocked when humans express in synchrony.
The first technique is about noticing small bits of expression and positively reinforcing those expressions. Example: When someone smiles or laughs, join their smiling and laughing. No straight-face.
The second technique is about your behaviour. Cultivating a ‘propensity to see the light or bright side of life, to joke with other people, and not to take things too seriously in life, keeping a positive state of mind.’ I use goofiness and self-deprecation as a practice for taking the playful path.
Finally, the last technique. What we have all been waiting for. This is about the art of facilitating group activities, circles, and games. I have a repertoire of games that I apply consistently. My favourite is the cinnamon role hug. The principle here is that a facilitator’s expertise is no greater than the quality of their tools. Evoking prosocial energy is about using tools.
One of my favourite tools is music. High FQers have their different styles of evoking prosocial energy, but they all know the power of music in their facilitation. The right song can increase engagement in your group activities, intensify the emotions people are feeling, and give people guidance as to how to participate.
In the FQ course, I give participants my favourite songs and activities to break the ice and ignite play in any social environment. Here’s one song that I have played in tens of countries — I will always love you, by Whitney Houston.
So what did you learn? Comment below and reinforce your memory.
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Social trust is one of the best metrics for the health of society.
Read this article if you are interested in learning about the systemic causes and solutions for loneliness and depression.
In this article, I present the problem of social distrust — how it has infected our cities and will continue to fester unless neighbourhoods are completely redesigned around belonging. Then, I present an inconspicuous solution: public human connection rituals. And vyving.
Growing up, I was fortunate enough to live in a rural neighbourhood with high social trust. My parents allowed me to bike ride wherever I wanted. There were a lot of other families in the neighbourhood. I knew pretty much all my neighbours and had probably been to all their houses for dinner at some point.
Cities are not like this.
Most neighbourhoods in cities are plagued with social distrust, a metric I learnt about while researching the Happy Cities team. Their research has revealed some interesting results.
One of the best ways to measure social trust is by asking people how much they trust their neighbours, local law enforcement, and co-workers. It turns out the factor most integral to our well-being is trust in neighbours.
Think about it. When we trust our neighbours, we can let our kids play freely. We can leave our door unlocked. Naturally, we socialize more in our neighbourhood. We participate in more community volunteering. We have more shared meals with neighbours. We invest in community infrastructure. We do not litter or steal, because they KNOW us.
Having trust in our fellow city inhabitants reduces crime, increases well-being, and amplifies social connectedness. It is one of the greatest metrics for community health.
So how are we doing? Taken from America Is Having a Moral Convulsion, featured in the Atlantic, not too well.
In 2012, 40 percent of Baby Boomers believed that most people can be trusted, as did 31 percent of members of Generation X. In contrast, only 19 percent of Millennials said most people can be trusted. Seventy-three percent of adults under 30 believe that “most of the time, people just look out for themselves,” according to a Pew survey from 2018. Seventy-one percent of those young adults say that most people “would try to take advantage of you if they got a chance.”
This an urgent problem, because most societies collapse when trust collapses as explained in the article.
So what can be done?
Let’s first begin with what I do. Then, let’s expand it to more societal solutions — such as redesigning neighbourhoods, cities, and economies.
The Practice of Vyving
Public acts of joy have an impact on social trust. When we see strangers expressing themselves and playing with each other, it signals to everyone around them that it’s safe to do so. Expression and safety go hand in hand. Play happens when humans are in a parasympathetic, prosocial mode. This is why the presence of play within a neighbourhood is a sign of community health. Safety and trust lead to more play behaviour.
But it also works in reverse. The public expression of joy and practice of play can create a sense of safety and trust within a neighbourhood. And this, my friends, is the mechanism of vyving.
Vyving works by activating public spaces with joyful acts of play and human expression — namely singing, dancing, and frolicking.
Vyving combines place-making and public joy expression. Vyving defined —
To ignite joy and human connection in public spaces — by means of dancing, singing, and playing with other humans.
Place-making is the process of creating quality places that people want to live, work, play, and learn in. Vyving is a form of place-making because it ignites human celebration in public spaces. It creates mental associations between public spaces and human expression.
What does vyving look like?
I vyve as a self-development practice. I vyve to restore social trust in our cities. I vyve because it can reduce crime and facilitate belonging. It’s backed by social psychology.
When you play publicly, you invite others to play with you.
Vyving is a great tactic, but it is superficial. The root cause of social distrust is how cities are physically designed and how the economy incentives either cooperation or competition. This environment matters. So, idealistically, how can we change the environment? Let’s dive in.
The Overhaul of Cities
Neighbourhoods must be a certain size. Dunbar’s number is the maximum size of relationships a single human can maintain; after this number is exceeded, interpersonal trust is not as automatic because anonymity increases.
This is one of the largest problems in cities — we’re all anonymous. If one of us were to wrong another, anonymity would ensure that it would not come back to bite us. Anonymity breeds social distrust.
Neighbourhoods must also incorporate communal spaces. Gathering spaces. Places where the community can engage in its rituals and activities. The relationship between proximity to parks and well-being has been shown. But I challenge the urban designers to go farther: to design spaces where community programming regularly takes place.
The more pedestrian a neighbourhood, the higher the trust. This means that we must design cities around alternative forms of transportation, instead of the private automobile.
Not being an urban designer, I’m sure there are countless projects rethinking neighbourhood design. Based on my research on human connection, the method I will emphasize is the shaping of the environment to make belonging a default. Public spaces, communal kitchens, shared vehicles, and smaller buildings (Dunbar’s number).
The Overhaul of Economic Incentives
The most significant and elusive intervention relates to economic incentives. Does the economy incentivize us to trust one another? The simple answer is no. The American-style economy incentivizes exploitation and profiteering. The economy incentivizes personal achievement. When everyone is pursuing their own goals, instead of community goals, it’s difficult to trust others.
I dream of an economy with an entirely different metric than GDP. One that reflects the depth of our human connections, not the depth of our pockets. I am excited about what Bhutan has done. They have overhauled their economic incentives, and that’s why they’re one of the happiest countries on Earth.
I know that blockchain will play a role in the economic transformation.
There is a crisis of trust in North America. So what can we do about it? What micro-actions can you and I take to be a part of the solution? To close this article, let’s commit to embodying trust. Let’s commit to forsaking cynicism. It’s too easy. It generates distrust. Let’s commit to the following behaviours.
Look people in the eyes and smile as you pass them.
Dance and sing in public regularly.
Get to know your neighbours. Invite them over for dinner. Offer to supervise their children.
Focus on relationships, not transactions. In other words, stop trying to take advantage of people.
Finally, lobby your local politicians to invest in local place-making.
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What distinguishes a leader from a community leader? An entire philosophy.
In this article, I introduce the mentality of the community-builder. It will transform how you do business, how you connect with others, and how you view community-building. Prepare for a paradigm shift.
I often tell people — community-building has been a spiritual experience. I tell them this because I want to emphasize the difference between community-leadership and executive leadership. It’s a different attitude. It’s a different method.
Operating VYVE, my entrepreneur’s association for human connection professionals, gave me the chance to practice the community mentality. After 6 months of trial and error, the mentality has forever changed how I view leadership.
The community mentality….
It’s behind-the-scenes, altruistic, empowering, opportunity-creating, and generous. It relies on patience, selflessness, and trustfulness.
In one sentence: an attitude characterized by a sincere desire and excitement to elevate others and set them up for success.
Organically, I have adopted the mentality. I think it is because I have experienced the intense fulfillment and connection that accompanies making others feel good, proud, and fearless. I have helped countless community leaders face their fears, try new things, and prevail.
What is the method by which the mentality drives people forward? Instilling self-belief in others and creating fertile environments for progress.
I tell people everyday that they are more capable than they know. I remind them of their past achievements. I tell them how important their work is. I acknowledge the progress people are making. All of this does one thing. It cultivates belief in oneself.
If I try for long enough, I can and will succeed.
When we adopt the mentality of a community-builder, we are reminding people to believe in themselves. We remind them the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.
Practically, those who’ve adopted the community mentality share the spotlight. They bring people into the spotlight. They build platforms and show off the work of others. For a great example, you can check out my newsletter, where I feature 4 human connection professionals every week and mention countless.
Not only do they feature and spotlight others’ work, they build platforms for people to do their work. They introduce potential collaborators to each other. They send out personalized resources.
The common theme is that they are an ambassador for the person’s initiative. They are serving with no expectation of return, merely for the joy of giving.
How do you adopt the community mentality? The community mentality makes life more fulfilling. It gets you high off empowering others. It gives you the kindness bliss. So, here is a checklist for adopting the mindset.
Ask yourself how you can help others first — the community mentality is based on service. It’s about amplifying the work of others by cultivating fertile environments and self-belief. When you help others, they will trust you and naturally want to reciprocate. What goes around comes around.
Give credit away — when you succeed, tell everyone who helped you succeed. Others are much more responsible for our achievements than we think. Every time you hit a milestone or get attention, use it as an opportunity to acknowledge the values and character of your community members. Here’s an example: every time I recap a community event, I recognize the participants who contributed to the event.
Focus on community success — individual success is often prioritized over the success of the community. This mentality encompasses different metrics for success. Instead of your own wealth and status points, look to the collective wealth and status of the community. When we cooperate, everybody wins and we end up with more well-being and wealth than if we just focused on ourselves.
Ask people how you can serve them better —open the channel of constructive feedback between the community leader and the community members. This reminds them that it’s safe to be candid and that your purpose is to serve them. Do what you want to do by all means, but don’t ignore the problems your community members face.
Seek to interconnect — the more interconnections within a network, the stronger the social glue becomes. As a community leader, I introduce people to one another all the time. I am always asking myself at the end of my interactions with others: Who do I know who could play a part in this person’s success?
My greatest guidance for adopting the community mentality is to shift your self-talk from ME to WE. Catch yourself when you’re thinking about WIIFM — What’s In It For Me. Instead, ask yourself how you can conveniently amplify the work of the person in front of you without falling into a helper’s complex.
So go out into the world, and during your next interaction, try out the mentality. It will take time to integrate so be patient.
I write a personal newsletter serving 903 human connection professionals in becoming world-class facilitators, entrepreneurs, and community-builders.
Edgy experience-design principles you haven’t heard of.
Read this article if you are passionate about creating transformational experiences. I will share with you the principles I leverage to take people out of their heads and into their pulsating bodies.
After reading Recapture the Rapture, by Jamie Wheal, I was little confused as to what to do. He talked about the importance of rites of passage, of sacraments, of responsible entheogen usage, and of scripture and worship. But, I was not sure what to actually do as a community architect.
His chapter on ethical cult-building was insightful but not practical. In his culture toolbox, he elaborates five elements: metaphysics, ethics, scripture, deities, and sacraments. I had never thought of metaphysics and scripture in the context of community building, so this was a plus. It really broadened my understanding of my mission to revive human connection in the developed world. Jamie argues we need to build new metaphysical and ethical frameworks to accomplish this…
But I’ll leave the theoretical and sense-making frameworks to the philosophers. As a facilitator and party scientist, I am much more interested in sacraments. Specifically, rituals involving social-bonding.
Meaning System 3.0 is a fancy term for a new culture that saves humanity. A culture that transcends the gender and culture wars and unites us all in facing our greatest challenges as earthlings. In describing Meaning System 3.0, Wheal emphasizes the importance of three habitual processes embedded in human life: catharsis, ecstasis, and communitas.
Catharsis is release and healing. Ecstasis is liberation and transcendance. And communitas is heartfelt connection to humans, self, and nature.
My mission in simple terms is to normalize a practice of cathartic, ecstatic, communitastic expression. And I believe a great way to realize this is through the modality of collective joy. However, the experience design principles below apply to all types of experiences. They are universal.
Finally. Let’s identify the principles for designing rituals that meet the standards for Meaning System 3.0.
Set the Stage
Participants must know that the experience has a different intention. They must see it in a different light. This is not just an entertainment experience. It is a transformational one. And so, how we invite people and communicate the experience to people must be informed by this unique intention.
We want our participants to drop in to a different state of consciousness during the experience, and so they must enter the event with aligned motives. The goal is not fun or socialization or relaxation. The goal is to heal and transcend.
In designing my experiences, I set the stage by crafting an excellent ‘liftoff package’ for my attendees. Within the liftoff package, I describe the techniques we will be using, I explain how they can participate, and I give them accurate expectations. I want them to know where they are going so that they can fully trust me as a facilitator and fully participate in the experience.
The second way I set the stage is through video communication with my guests. Again, this is about building trust. With transformational experiences, your guests need a level of safety and trust to fully open their hearts and give up control; surrender is an essential characteristic of transformation. They need to know, like, and trust you as their host.
So whatever we can do as hosts before the experience to cultivate this is indispensable. Direct communication is one manner. Giving your participants activities to do before the experience is another. Yet another is what the host does to open their transformational experience: the opening ritual.
I have discussed the importance of opening rituals in many of my other articles (see how to bring people together in a pandemic). An effective opening ritual does the following: 1. it promotes a sense of psychological safety among participants; 2. it evokes a prosocial and relaxed state of mind in participants; and 3. it generates a sense of trust in the host.
In summary, setting the stage involves building trust before your guests arrive and orchestrating an opening ritual.
The intentions of your guests deserve a section of their own. If intentions are aligned, participants will validate one another’s liberation and expression. If they’re not, participants will not feel safe to let go and release. So, it’s necessary to be very clear as to the purpose of the experience. Ensure that people who are just looking for a fun or social thing to do are not present. This damages the bubble of psychological safety.
Guide participants in their intention-setting by referencing the purpose of the experience: to transform through accessing altered states of consciousness. If you make this clear, you will not have to deal with the confusion of uncomfortable guests.
Incorporate Techniques of Ecstacy
At last, the most juicy part of this article.
Wheal discusses multiple techniques of ecstacy in his book: sex, respiration, entheogens, pain/pleasure, and music. A technique of ecstacy is a means to induce an altered state of consciousness that produces a profound change in psychology. In other words, a technique of ecstacy is a method for producing a mystical experience. And as Wheal references in the book, having a mystical experience is closely correlated with emotional well-being.
So to produce a transformational experience, the experience designer must incorporate a ritual that leverages a technique of ecstacy. I am no professional in the realm of sacred sex, entheogens, respiration, or pain induction. But I am a professional in the realm of music; music, dancing, and singing are my essential tools for electrifying audiences and breaking down social categories.
If you’d like to explore how to design and facilitate music and dance rituals, I have written about it in my newsletter. And will continue to write about it until the end of time.
My suggestion to facilitators is to train in a technique of ecstacy and then apply it in your experience.
This article was about levelling up your experiences. Making them cathartic, ecstatic, and transformational. It’s about time we as experience designers leverage the ancient techniques of ecstacy and elevate global consciousness.