How to DJ like a Party Scientist


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


What resonated in this article? Leave a comment or send me an email. Criticisms are welcome and celebrated. beyoutiful@thepartyscientist.com

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A Game To Warm Up Creative Thinking — What if… Then.


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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. Person 1 (or 3) responds: I would “action”… And then adds another layer.
  4. 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.

So **** competitiveness.

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3 Methods for Creating Interpersonal Psychological Safety

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.

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The Party Scientist’s Top 10 Tools for Virtual Joy and Connection


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.

My experience with LUSH Cosmetics.

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: beyoutiful@thepartyscientist.com

Have a team that requires a boost of joy, team spirit, and connection? I can help you develop an experience to do just that.

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F.Q. — The Fun Intelligence Quotient: How to facilitate fun.


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.

  1. The ability to access a prosocial state.
  2. The ability to produce interpersonal psychological safety.
  3. 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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How to Design Cathartic, Ecstatic, Communal Experiences


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.

Set Intentions

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.

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How to Bring Humans Together in a Pandemic.


I thought it was impossible. Here are my hard-learned adaptations.

In this article, you will learn principles for bringing people together regardless of the context. Near the end, you will learn some hacks for COVID human connection.

My name is Jacques. Before the pandemic, I travelled the world with a giant speaker. I started singalongs, group hugs, dance parties, and huddles among strangers. Sometimes on planes.

In the last three years, I discovered my life purpose: to advance public health by normalizing new forms of socialization, particularly ecstatic celebration.

I feel an electricity through my veins when I bring people together. If you want to feel this too, read on. I will show you how.


On the news, they called me a self-proclaimed party expert. Although I go by The Party Scientist internationally, the principles of bringing people together through parties apply to most gatherings.

The importance of greeting. Having an opening ceremony. Priming your guests. Role-modeling vulnerability. Introducing people to one another. Creating space for people to be seen. To name a few.

“We, as young people, need to learn how to socialize differently” This is my favourite quote from the segment. It explains why I am stoked to write this article. How we currently socialize is way too unstructured. We bring people together passively and expect magic to happen. Typically it doesn’t.

It doesn’t happen because hosts are too chill. Priya Parker talks about this in her book. Chill hosts don’t want to intrude. They are afraid of bothering people. So what do they do? They let the gathering evolve organically. They wait for magic to happen instead of making it happen.

And then they call themselves spiritual: “I don’t apply force, I surrender to the flow of my gathering.” Really, their kicking themselves in the shin. If the thousands of rituals I’ve facilitated for others has taught me anything, it’s that epic experiences require active curation.

I am going to show you how to make magic happen. Not to wait for it. But how to actively curate magic in your gatherings. If you would prefer to be a passive host, then stop right here. These principles are not going to work for you.

Ready to learn how to be a VYVACIOUS host, as I like to call it?

Vyvacious (adj):// active in unleashing energy and vulnerability in the human interactions at a gathering.

Principles of Bringing People Together

How do chill hosts and vyvacious hosts differ? For all these principles, I will contrast the two styles of bringing people together.

GREET THEM

Chill hosts say a minimal hello or do not notice when someone arrives.

Vyvacious hosts get everyone in the room to welcome them with applause. They introduce the newcomer to others. They embrace the newcomer!

Recommendation: Welcome people enthusiastically when they arrive. Make them feel seen and loved.

PRIME THEM

Chill hosts name a time and place for people to show up.

Vyvacious hosts describe the purpose of the gathering, encourage their attendees to set an intention, outline what they need to bring, and build anticipation for the gathering.

Here is an example of a script I wrote for one of my gatherings.

ATTN: Covid 1 Year Anniversary Troops!!

This is one of your Chief Commanders here. You have been selected for this secret mission of spreading joy through the streets of Vancouver on this monumental day that entered us into unprecedented times.

Your mission is to elevate the mental health of all of those we encounter. Below is some vital information to make this mission a success:

Recommendation: Prepare and build excitement for your gathering. Spend some time creating a video or letter for your guests to watch before they show up.

ROLE MODEL VULNERABILITY

Chill hosts are straight-faced and formal.

Throughout priming, greeting, and the opening ritual, vyvacious hosts laugh at themselves and express themselves. No formality here! They are vibrant and alive. They may stutter, they may dance, they may joke. They are their goofy authentic selves.

Recommendation: Exaggerate your emotional expression. Vulnerability begins with full emotional expression.

FOCUS THEIR ATTENTION

Chill hosts never bring the group together. There is never focused attention on a shared activity or person. This means there are no rituals, because rituals require shared attention and intention.

Vyvacious hosts focus the attention of the group on a single person or activity. This is what I am doing when I get everyone to line up and participate in a crowdsurf train. Everyone is working together to create an epic experience for the crowdsurfer.

Out of all the rituals, the most important ritual is…. Bazinga! The opening ceremony.

Recommendation: Design rituals for your gathering. Do a toast. Make a speech. Tell a story. Bring the group together through shared attention.

ACTIVATE PROSOCIALITY

Chill hosts don’t start a gathering. The gathering just fumbles its way forward. There’s no start gun. There’s no official welcome. It’s just BLEH.

Vyvacious hosts begin their events by activating prosociality. This is twofold. They first ground their participants. Then, they get people connecting.

There’s a diversity of methods to accomplish these objectives. Meditation, silence, and eye-gazing are a few for the first. Dancing, singing, and think-pair-sharing are a few for the second.

The bottom line is that the opening ceremony has the objective of activating prosociality (for social events) and of reminding people of the purpose of the gathering. We want people to be peaceful and joyful. This neurophysiological state enables relationships to form.

Before all my U-HAUL Missions, I give a speech at the beginning. Then I invite everyone else to share with the group what they’d like to give to strangers.

Recommendation: Form a circle at the beginning, say a few words, and then do something together as a group that puts people into a state of peace and joy.


Let’s now discuss COVID. Here are some COVID modifications for real-life gatherings, because… let’s be real, that’s what we crave.

Choose an iconic, majestic location.

For the Hike Rave, we chose the lookout above Vancouver.

Incorporate an activity that everyone can do.

Don’t make conversation the activity. People will get bored, and they won’t physical distance. Some examples of activity I have incorporate: biking, hiking, dancing, games.

Remind people about consent.

There are different levels of COVID comfort. Some people hug. Some people wear masks. Others kiss. Whenever my participants arrive, I remind people to be conscious of others safety levels. As an event organizer, I have researched the risk levels, and it’s still very low without distancing.

Host an experience, not a hangout.

Talking creates aerosols. Especially when people face one another and talk toward one another for long periods of time, the risk of transmission goes up. By designing an experience involving exploration, physical activity, and novelty, the risk goes down. Movement reduces transmission. Conversation increases it.


Are you still a chill host? Or have you become a VYVACIOUS host? I hope I have given you the tools to step into your power and start leading your participants to unity and exhilaration.

Most social gatherings are unstructured. Drizzling a little structure onto them through your leadership can amplify the benefits that your participants reap.

It may be edgy, but may we continue bringing people together in this bizarre time!

 — The Party Scientist
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Human Contact versus Human Connection.

They’re not equals. One is desperately needed, the other is overwhelming people’s lives.


The questions I answer in this article:

Can we apply the philosophy of essentialism to human connection?

Which forms of human connection are essential? Which are trivial?

Essentialism is the approach of focussing on the vital few instead of the trivial many. It’s about saying yes to things that are a **** yes, and saying no to the rest. It’s about identifying the factors that lead to 99% of the outcome you want — by nature of the repeated Pareto principle (the 80:20 rule).

The answer to the first question is yes. We can. And in this article, I argue that we should. We should prioritize certain forms of human interaction more than others. For our health, life satisfaction, and sense of belonging.


Look for a second at how most humans connect with one another.

1. They’re quite distracted, aren’t they? It’s absent-minded. People check their phones. People get distracted by the physical environment or their thoughts. Very little attention is put on the interaction.


2. That’s not all. There’s also a fast pace to it all; people are scheduling their connection time and have ‘agendas.’ Because of the obsession with career and work in western culture, people have put end times to their connection. They’re checking the time constantly. They’re worried they’re going to be late for the next appointment. Our obsession with doing takes us out of the moment with the people we love.


3. Finally, there’s the superficiality. This is a natural outcome of the two previous features of most human social interactions. Due to the lack of attention and time-stress, it’s difficult to fully understand, feel, and relate to what our conversation partner discloses. In other words, people are not embodying their interactions with others. They’re just in their heads.

Human connection may be rushed, absent-minded, and superficial. This decreases its impact on our well-being.

What perfectly demonstrates where socialization norms are going is an observation I’ve made repeatedly: teenagers have conversations with one another without taking out their AirPods. They’re connected to some form of stimulation 24/7.

This freaks me out.

So I have trained myself to engage in human contact instead.

Human contact is emotional, physical, and spiritual.

Emotional: both humans in the interaction notice and echo each other’s emotions, through eye contact and paraphrasing.

Physical: it involves supportive touch or affection. Hopefully, there’s a hug at the end.

Spiritual: the context of the interaction is about what matters in life and what matters to the individuals.

Human contact is deep and nourishing. Human connection is not guaranteed to be.

How do we create more moments of human contact in our lives? I have contemplated on this, and have made these adjustments to my life.

I use two phones. One has no data or apps.

I consciously look people in the eyes and feel what their feeling. I am intensely present.

I have a ten-second hug policy.

I ask questions about how people are feeling, not how they are thinking. About their well-being. About their life lessons. About what enriches them.

I surrender to the surge of physical resistance that comes up when I am frustrated, triggered, or criticized. This means I relax into the discomfort in my body.

Please. Tell me yours.


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Cheers to human contact,
 — Jacques, Chief Scientist and Writer, The Party Scientist’s Lab 🧪

Why I organized controversial, disruptive activities on Halloween.

Creativity and determination were applied to create a “best night of my life” moment.

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Knocking on a neighbour’s door at 10PM, Halloween night, in a hazmat suit.

In the night, in the neighbourhood of Kitsilano, Vancouver Canada, I crept up on the patio of a stranger. I knocked on their door.

At another house, I pressed the buzzer. Three times.

Yet another, I went into their backyard.

One party scientist wearing a hazmat suit, on a mission to spread love, hope, and laughs.

It was uncomfortable. It was intrusive. It was controversial. But I knew that my efforts were rooted in good intentions. I knew that the people living in the house would appreciate the surprise me and my 7 close friends had in store for them. We had been rehearsing.

Welcome to Halloween in a pandemic.

This year, my creativity was tested. My co-founders and I, all party scientists and thrill-seekers at heart, asked ourselves: How can we bring the good vibes to the city while following public health guidelines?

In Vancouver, there is a limit of 6 people you can have in your household. So there were no house parties planned. Given the restrictions, Halloween was pretty much cancelled. A normal person would have accepted this and put on a spooky movie in the safety of their own home.

My squad, on the other hand, we had different plans.

After pondering the question for some time, one of my co-founders had the golden idea.

We rented a mini-van, got 6 of our best friends dressed in hazmat suits and masks, and we hit the road. It was time to distribute some love letters while performing a very special dance for unsuspecting families.

Michael Jackson’s Thriller. We called it the reverse trick or treat!

We met at WeWork, adorned our hazmat suits, and wrote the love letters. I picked up the minivan, and we all jumped in, singing songs on the way to the first (random) neighbourhood.

I went to the decorated house, knocked on the door, and pressed play on Thriller. Meanwhile, all my friends jumped out of the mini van and launched themselves onto the street, face down, dead, like zombies. Then, we slowly twitched upward and thrilled our observers.

Five houses later, our mission was accomplished. A 100% success rate. Everyone we handed a love letter to was filled with hope. People were doing the thriller with us from their balconies. Someone gifted us a box of chocolates. A group of teenagers joined our dance and sang with us in the street.

Our success illustrated a few realities of being human.

First, we exaggerate the risk of socially edgy activities.

“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it.” What this means is that when humans are thinking, they exaggerate the importance of what they’re thinking about. This is called the focusing illusion. When we think of uncommon social behaviours, we exaggerate the potential negative consequences in our minds. We make it a big deal in our minds. We think about all the people we can piss off. We exaggerate the consequences of pissing people off. We fret.

Humans have a negativity or ‘haters’ bias. We’re plagued with the tendency to pay attention to the one critic instead of the ten praisers. This bias, complimented by the focussing illusion, explains why I am likely the only person on Earth to assemble my friends in a minivan and perform the thriller in front of strangers in random neighbourhoods.

What I have realized in my years of igniting impromptu dance parties across the planet, in often inappropriate places, is that the negative consequences are often less likely and less severe than I thought. This realization has led to some of the greatest achievements of my life. By consciously disentangling the risks of social stunts (like talking to a stranger or dancing in public), I have become invincible to analysis paralysis.

Somehow I have never been fined for starting very loud singalongs at 2AM…

Second, there is an inherent fear of being ostracized to human psychology.

Why do humans follow social norms? Why are 50% of people very slow in adopting new technology and ideas (according to the diffusion of innovation theory)? Why are we so afraid of rejection?

Genetic coding. Humans are genetically engineered to fit in because isolation is a threat to survival. In the savannahs of Africa, being deserted by the tribe meant certain death. And so, the fear of being ostracized was an adaptation to avoid that. But it is no longer healthy to operate based on this fear.

We certainly didn’t when we went out into the streets, grabbing our crotches, blurting ‘heeeeheeee.’

I argue that it’s actually healthy to step outside conventional social norms. Why? Because they have been engineered by advertisers and capitalists. In my article about toxic social norms, I explain why social norms are like cigarettes. If you take your happiness seriously, you MUST deprogram yourself socially.

So, it’s necessary to break free from the fear of being ostracized and practice authentic expression. To do this, we must stop showing off and obsessing over what people think of you. These behaviors prevent us from having fun in new ways and are characteristic of ‘status anxiety.’ This is a cause of depression, according to Johann Hari.

Third, the best moments in life involve shared risk-taking.

We cannot deny that there was a risk in travelling through the night, playing loud music and dancing… During a pandemic. People could have thrown stuff at us. People could have rejected our offer.

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: ‘Fun and danger are on the same wavelength.’ Replace danger with challenge, if you are more risk-averse. When the stakes are higher, people’s emotions are higher. And when an eventual success is declared, the celebration is more intense too.

This is exactly what happened last night. We didn’t know what would happen. There was the possibility of failure. We could have gotten into trouble for jumping out of our minivan in the middle of the street. But, when we didn’t, it exhilarated us. When a young boy finally emerged from his house after the 5th buzzer ring and said he’d watch our thriller, we were ecstatic.

The ‘shared’ element is super important. Humans bounce emotions off each other. We are naturally emotionally-sensitive creatures. When suspense is experienced by a group, it’s more intense than suspense experienced by an individual. When a challenge or threat is overcome by a group, the celebration is louder and rowdier, because of the amplification of emotions that happens when humans synchronize.

So. What to do?

Stop being run by social norms, your body-guard-like thinking tendency, and the idea that you are stronger if you can do it alone.

Go out and set your individualistic ego on fire. And make the fire bigger by bringing friends.

How to touch someone without touching them.

The benefits of touch justify learning how to touch humans without touching them. Let me tell you how. I’m not crazy, I promise.

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A photo from Amsterdam’s Daybreaker, 2019. It begs the question: What’s a good replacement for human limbo?

March 6, 2020, I returned to Canada from the ‘human contact’ festival, having led a workshop on accessing joy through human connection and multiple 200-person bear hugs on the beach. This is Envision Festival, and here is how people at the festival like to connect: holding hands, colliding bodies, and cheering loudly. Pure expression.

There’s definitely something magical about the synchrony of it all. When you bring hundreds of bodies into proximity, and when they exchange emotions through touch, movement, and vocalization, it’s really easy to feel connected, accepted, a part of something… and high.

I have made this observation in 12 different countries. Human touch and proximity were so fundamental to my art form: facilitating massive, ritualistic celebrations. So, did I cry and panic when COVID hit?

No.

I chose to be optimistic; prosocially intelligent people are resilient in finding ways to create joy and belonging in their interactions. So, I started leading massive virtual parties, for companies like Chevron, and for thrill-seekers across the world. Every week, I would sit down and invent a bunch of virtual games and exercises to elicit the same DOSE (Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins, Thank you Radha Agrawal), which is much easier to generate body-to-body. But then, something horrible happened.

I got sick of virtual connection. I started to long for the high generated by the physical presence of others. Good thing I lived in Vancouver.

The cases were so low in Vancouver at the time (May). So, I safely assembled a crew and held bike raves, every week. I drafted safety protocols, designated a Chief Safety Officer, and designed human connection activities. It was fun, and I got interviewed in the news to share tips on how to party safely.

After 15 events, I had learnt some alternatives to touch and proximity. My style of facilitation had transformed. I am no longer orchestrating crowd-surfing, bear hugs, and ‘mega drops’ (my favourite celebratory activity). But I believe I have found techniques that mimic the exhilaration.

I want to share with you the results of my experimentation.

This is a party scientist’s guide to replacing the high of physical contact. Without the virtual ****. Below are five different techniques that you can use in your in-person interactions with others to revitalize them.

Let’s dive in.

Use your eyes.

When we engage in eye contact, we transfer emotions. I call it emotional presence; I look at someone intently in the eyes and notice their emotions. Eventually, you cannot help but start to feel their emotions. Oxytocin is released and you start to feel closer. www.human.online provides a platform for engaging in eye contact through zoom.

In your interactions, look people in their eyes and hold it. Absorb their emotions and get high off oxytocin!

Use your body.

Using your body encompasses positioning, facial expression, and posture. Position yourself so you are facing the person. Express emotions through your facial expression. Open your posture toward the person by having your palms face toward them. Two things happen when you practice these techniques. The likelihood that you will feel what the other person is feeling increases, and your ability to express emotions that will transfer to the other human increases.

Who likes being in at a party where everyone has a neutral facial expression? I don’t. In my interactions, I exaggerate my facial expression organically because I have sensitized myself to the emotions of others. When I do this, it creates permission for others to express themselves more.

In summary, create an ‘into it’ vibe with your body language.

Now, practice emotional reflection.

Eye contact and body language are two prerequisites for emotional reflection. This is one of my treasured methods for amplifying expression in my social interactions. Here’s the principle: Whenever someone expresses an emotion, that emotion can be amplified if you feel it and reflect it back at them. Using eye contact, gestures, and facial expressions, you can create more joy in almost any interaction.

Sadness can be amplified too. But, I prefer to amplify joy and deflect negativity. When you practice emotional reflection for uncomfortable emotions, you reduce your ability to actually support the person in front of you. Empathy is sometimes overrated.

Leverage synchrony.

There are piles of research articles on the links between synchrony, in the form of laughter, singing, and movement, and neurochemical changes in the brain. When someone laughs, sings, or moves, I automatically start to mirror them. It makes me feel closer to them, and it amplifies the expression.

Don’t feel the desire to laugh, sing, or move? Try paying more attention to the expression happening in the human before your eyes. Feeling others’ emotions is one way to practice authentic emotional reflection. There’s also the ‘fake it till you make it method.’ Even if I don’t feel like moving, laughing, or singing, I do it anyway. And it changes my state as a result.

This behaviour relates to my philosophy. Here’s one principle I remind myself: Stop being ruled by your state and take conscious action to control it.

Help others.

The helper’s high. Have you heard of it? It turns out that when we consciously choose to help others, it can make us feel good: dopamine and oxytocin are released in the brain. This DOES NOT happen when we are guilted into helping another person. Helping others when you have not choosen to do it results in resentment.

My suggestions for simple ways to exercise kindness is by practicing an attitude of gratitude (saying thank you 20 times per day), spending money on others, sharing relevant information with others, and connecting people to others in your network. These actions fill my life with meaning, I find.

Share non-attributive gratitude.

I mentioned that I try to say thank you 20 times per day. It’s a form of acknowledgement. This technique goes a step further. Non-attributive gratitude expressions are characterized by the acknowledgement of the specific actions that someone took, the description of the impact they had on you, and the linking of those actions to the person’s values.

Here is an example: “Rod, your presentation was very thought-provoking and clear. I loved your analogies. It helped me stay engaged and understand the value of OKRs. I have a lot of confidence in your communication skills. It says a lot about your attention to detail and your ability to articulate complex ideas.”

Being specific and personal is the name of the game. After every experience I lead in Vancouver, we practice this technique by participating in an appreciation circle. One by one, people go into the center and appreciate one another. I also like doing this at the dinner table.

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I am always building my repertoire, so if you have any tips or tricks to add, I would love to hear them.

What is your favourite replacement for physical contact?

The new emotional intelligence is… prosocial intelligence.

When I was 17, I discovered emotional intelligence. In 2020, I discovered prosocial intelligence, and invented a term for it.

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The ability to evoke positive emotions in interpersonal interactions is one of the underlying skills of prosocial intelligence.

After losing my first job as a lifeguard for making one of my students cry, I picked up Ekhart Tolle’s the power of now and started practicing self-awareness. As you know, this is one of the fundamental skills of emotional intelligence.

Throughout university, my EQ skyrocketed. I started meditating, journaling, and forgiving. My relationships improved.

But, you can only go so far with EQ. There’s no doubt that being self-aware, empathetic, and self-regulated is useful. It transformed my quality of life.

But there’s a level higher.

EQ enables another form of intelligence: PQ (Prosocial Intelligence/Quotient).

To illustrate PQ, let me share one of the highlights of my life.

In 2019, I departed on a whim to Costa Rica to volunteer as a harm reduction staff at a festival. Upon arrival, I started a conversation with a stranger in the customs lineup of the airport. I made a good impression, we shared some laughs, and I got the guy’s contact, which came in handy a week later.

I arrived at my hostel in Jacco beach, my first destination. At my hostel, I met a group of Canadian travellers. I remember hanging around the pool with them, engaging in personal story-telling and introspection. We exchanged vulnerabilities and offered new perspectives. It was a moment to be cherished. It was a human-bonding moment.

A week later, I joined these travellers and stayed with them during another giant festival, this one world-renowned, called Envision Festival.

I did not have a ticket.

So, I messaged the stranger in the airport lineup who I knew was attending the festival. Surprisingly, he offered me a ticket. For free.

I rolled up to the festival with some music and led some bear hugs and singalongs outside the main gates. The main gate ambassador approached me and told me “We need to join forces!”

Epic moments later, I was eating with festival staff and I had earned a name for myself among the marketing team at the festival.

In 2020, they invited me back and I performed on the main stage, opening night, with my co-founder and another changemaker named Gini, a powerhouse entrepreneur and community architect who I had networked with.

So, in the span of three weeks, I networked with some incredible humans, and it led to some incredible opportunities and friendships. AND MEMORIES. At any moment, I can return to these memories and fill myself with excitement for life.

When you are prosocially intelligent, opportunities originating from positive, meaningful human connections fly at your from all directions. My trip is exemplary of this. I had scheduled to be in Costa Rica for one week. I stayed for three, made incredible business connections, attended a world-renowned festival, and had my first appearance on the main stage.

That’s not all. The entire trip, my mood was higher than normal, my physical energy was perked up, and my excitement for life was flying high. When you consistently engage in powerful, expressive interpersonal interactions, your mental and physical health is improved.

These are a few of the benefits of PQ.

So, what the hell is Jacques talking about? Let me define it for you.

PQ is the ability to initiate positive, meaningful human contact. Simple.

Not so fast however! PQ is more technical than that. You must develop a few core competencies before you can transform your social interactions into fuel for social, mental and physical wellbeing. The first is the ability to create internal psychological safety.

Psychological safety equals “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” Thank you, Amy Edmondson, for transforming how I relate with humans.

Then, what is internal psychological safety? Well, it’s a translation of your mindset. A growth-oriented, anti-perfectionist mindset enables you to justify taking interpersonal risks regardless of whether it is actually safe or not. On a plane and want to start a singalong? It’s not a safe place to take interpersonal risks.

I did it anyway, and created ‘interpersonal psychological safety.’

This is what Amy is talking about, above. This phenomenon exists within the group, not within your head. This has to do with how the group feels, not how you feel.

This is the second core competency of PQ: the ability to create interpersonal psychological safety. When this is present, suddenly play, fun, expression, and creativity become possible. The depth of your interactions increases. You get to meet the authentic human with whom you are interacting.

A natural extension of these core competencies is the ability to evoke positive emotions in your interactions. Joy, laughter, gratitude, love, excitement. Whenever I feel these emotions, I feel closer to the human with whom I am sharing them.

Positive emotions matter. They reduce stress, increase creativity, and accelerate social-bonding. They also make life exciting. They are healthy.

When you can access positive emotions through human connection, you free yourself from relying on unhealthy sources of joy: shopping, screen entertainment, drugs and alcohol, ‘likes’, (comment below if I am missing any!). The research suggests that you will live longer and happier if you source the majority of your joy from human connection.

I have broken PQ into three core competencies, but there’s one more which relates most closely to leadership: initiating prosocial activities in groups. Standing in an elevator with four strangers? Ask them to share what they are looking forward to. Sitting down at a dinner table with a bunch of acquaintances? Suggest that everyone introduces themselves with their nickname and obsession. Driving with your family or friends to a far-away location? Play a game or sing a song together.

Prosocially intelligent people have a toolkit of activities they initiate in group settings as a means to contribute MASSIVE value. The truth is, many social gatherings are poorly designed, too unstructured, and lack unity. By increasing the amount of closeness and fun in the room, prosocially intelligent people make a name for themselves.

Voila! Those are the four key competencies of PQ. Common among all of them is action.

I believe PQ is a step beyond EQ. You cannot have PQ without EQ. PQ has been the backbone for my mental health, my energy management, and my service-oriented relationship management.

I want to invite you to commit to one behaviour that exercises one of the core competencies I mentioned. Set forth and reap the benefits!