July 9, 2023

“Enter a room like you’re supposed to be there and speak as if others need to hear you.”

-Sean Stephenson #Sean365

Today I encourage you to embrace the idea that we belong in every room we enter.

Whether it’s a family dinner or a convention of thousands of strangers (and everything in-between), a solid way to enter any room is with the quote above in your mind from Sean Stephenson coupled with this one, paraphrased from my good friend, mentor and results leader, Lee Richter:

“I don’t need anything…I’m here to contribute.”

From there, anything is possible.

There’s a third mindset when you enter any room in the P.S. if you get that far. 🙂

When I wrote about “Intentional Dinners” in my book Overdeliver, based on the famous Boardroom Dinners (developed by my mentor and founder of Boardroom Inc, Marty Edelston), I wrote how many dignitaries who attended didn’t think they belonged in such stellar company (despite being equally stellar).

This was always perplexing to me.

Maybe it was misplaced humility?

However, these self-described interlopers had extensive, multiple page, resumes describing decades of success in one industry or another so it had to be more than that.

Maybe it was a case of the good old standby, “imposter syndrome.”

I have studied this “syndrome” in the past…having experienced it myself over the years; and I have had discussions about it over the past month, inside my Titans Xcelerator Mastermind and the recently concluded Overdeliver Bootcamp (next one coming soon…email me for details).

During those discussions, there was no one on those Zoom screens (50-100 of some of the best marketers and copywriters in the world) who had not experienced feeling like an imposter at some point in their lives.

So much for it being a “good old standby” excuse.

And what about the guests without an expansive resume?

Most of those folks were intimidated from the get go upon receiving an invitation to a Boardroom Dinner.

Getting an invitation was special…but always deserved…whether you were a source for an article in one of our newsletters, a resource for our company (e.g., copywriter, consultant) …or just a F.O.M. or a F.O.B. (Friend of Marty or Friend of Brian).

The concept of “everyone knows everything about something” always plays with experts and novices alike…watch this 6 minute video for an explanation about this phenomenon if you haven’t watched it yet.

I used this “pep talk” to relieve anxiety for guests experiencing some trepidation in advance of a Boardroom Dinner…and I also use it in all situations where misplaced humility or imposter syndrome seem to be taking hold.

While it was understandable for a relative “newbie” to a Boardroom Dinner to play small (and less understandable for a giant in the business world), it was obvious that in both cases, it has little to do with their life experiences.

It has everything to do with self-confidence and knowing who they are and what they know.

In Chapter 10 of Overdeliver, I wrote further why “everyone belongs” …with the number one reason that you were on the guest list. 🙂

Making the Invite List

In the early days, Marty hosted the dinners by himself; later, I had the privilege of co-hosting over 150 dinners with him.

If you were an expert who appeared in any of our publications, you were immediately added to the guest list for the future.

If you were an expert, author, speaker, or thought leader we met at a conference, or if you were someone we heard in the media, or someone fascinating we read about, your name would also be added to our invite list.

[And also F.O.M.’s and F.O.B.’s 🙂 ]

Assembling experts in every industry and vocation, and having them share with each other in their area of expertise, guaranteed that everybody left the room smarter after dinner.

Marty’s simple summation about the dinners was, “There is no better way to spend an evening.”

However, even with a guest list curated this way, many still felt they were invited by mistake.

That’s when this excerpt from Overdeliver, turned into advice for you as a host or a guest, comes in handy:

Everyone Belongs

Don’t allow anyone to play small at your dinners.

[And for that matter, any room where you have invited guests who were invited for a good reason…that is, to share themselves with the group]

As you create bigger and better dinners [meetings], someone is bound to look around and wonder if they really belong.

I say shut that down immediately, having fallen into the same trap myself.

If this does happen, explain why they belong as much as anyone and that you are very excited that they are there, and that you can’t wait to hear what they are going to share.

If they don’t believe you, emphasize to them that everybody is an expert in something, and when you share your expertise and your passion in a way that is totally giving, extraordinary things happen for everyone around you.

And that’s precisely the reason why dinners like these are so profound in their simplicity.

AuthorRick Frishman, a regular attendee at these magnificent dinners, devoted an entire chapter to The Boardroom Dinners in his book, Networking Magic.

He summed them up like this…and keep in mind that this also applies to any meeting you host or attend, with or without food:

Start with the best people you can reach.

Invite your most interesting, enjoyable, entertaining friends and contacts.

Invite people you’ve heard about but don’t know.

Invite people whom you’ve wanted to meet.

Select guests who are experts in fields that interest you and in areas that you know nothing about.

It doesn’t have to be all talk. If you know musicians, poets, or entertainers, then ask them to your gathering to liven up and diversify the mix.

Although good food certainly helps, great people should be your top priority.

Prepare and ask questions that will make your guests expound. Once they’re talking, sit back and let the magic work.

You’ll be amazed at what can happen when you add intentionality and structure 
to something as simple as “dinner.”

Since the adjournment of my Overdeliver Bootcamp, the concepts of “everyone belongs” and “intentional dinners” have been top of mind for me for two reasons:

  1. Because everyone belonged…although some needed a little coaching (see above)
  2. On the last call, l went over the step-by-step process for them to create their own intentional dinners (or meetings) where everyone belongs…and it was this part of the call, which seems obvious and simple to me, that created many new ideas from the participants that I didn’t see coming.

Note: Even if you didn’t attend the Overdeliver Bootcamp you can read and follow in Chapter 10 of Overdeliver (which you can buy here) how to set up intentional dinners and meetings on your own.

I make no money on the sale of the book and it’s inexpensive; but that doesn’t mean I will pick up the tab for your dinners. 🙂

The notion of doing things with intention—whether it’s entering a room or organizing a dinner—is not rocket science.

But entering a room with confidence and being part of dinners/meetings with intentionality (as a host or a guest) are exceptional ways to live…and eat…with more gusto.



P.S. There is a third way to enter a room with confidence without anxiety.

To review the first two:

  1. “Enter a room like you’re supposed to be there and speak as if others need to hear you.” (From the great Sean Stephenson who you can read about here)
  2. “I don’t need anything.” (From entrepreneur Lee Richter)

  3. Be peaceful when entering a room…enter with total acceptance…and give up “there is something wrong here.”

This third one is a “combo meal” of something I heard at a personal improvement seminar…and read inside a stale fortune cookie at the end of (what became) an intentional dinner. 🙂

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

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