Top iTunes Business Podcast

47+ Million Downloads

SPI 482: The 3-Second Rule That You Need to Know

I’ve got a great tip to share with you today — especially if you’re an introvert like me.

This goes way back to my first conference. If you’ve ever been to one of these events — Social Media Marketing World or VidSummit, for example — you know that networking is a big part of the appeal. The ability to walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and strike up a conversation can lead to incredible opportunities. But way too often we end up psyching ourselves out of making the first move.

What it comes down to is a lot like how I felt earlier this week, interviewing former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss on session 481 of the show. I felt scared. But often the answer . . . is action. So we’re going to dig into this topic a bit today, just you and me. Let’s do it!

You’ll Learn

SPI 482: The 3-Second Rule That You Need to Know

Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host – he thinks 3M should sponsor the show because he uses so many Post-it Notes – Pat Flynn!

Pat Flynn:
I was so scared. You could probably even hear it. I was scared. What am I talking about? I’m talking about this previous week’s episode of the podcast, where I interviewed Chris Voss, who is the author of Never Split the Difference, a book about negotiation. He’s a former FBI hostage negotiator, and I’ve never been more scared going into an interview.

I want to spend this follow-up Friday episode, not necessarily talking about what it’s like to interview somebody like that – you just do it. You just go into it. I was very, very grateful that we got to chat. Even in our Premium cast, we had even more fun talking about family and stuff. Once we broke the ice, it started to get a little bit better.

But I wanted to give you something that was a very similar-feeling to me back in the day when I first started, something that was extremely helpful to the start of my business, that I know if I didn’t do I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. It relates to this idea of being scared or having anxiety about doing something. Now, with relation to this podcast, I was very grateful because Jess scheduled it on my calendar. She reached out, we were able to connect and I had to show up. There we go. I really had no excuse. I could back out of course, but that wouldn’t be good. It was set up as an interview.

There’s going to be cases in the future where, especially after we get out of this lockdown, COVID, post-pandemic period, where you’re going to be in group situations, you’re going to be at conferences, You’re going to be with and around other people. I’ll tell you, I’ve been around a few people as we’ve been coming out of this. I mean, just close groups, people we trust and whatnot, and even I’m still having trouble remembering what it’s like to, I don’t know, talk to other people in a group. It’s really weird, you fall out of it. As we prepare to get back into the real world, as we all prepare to potentially go to conferences and meet new people, I wanted to give you a piece of advice that helped me when I first started, and that is the three second rule.

What is the three second rule? When is it applied? Well, let’s talk about that first. This is applied when you are in a place and you see somebody that you want to meet. That person could be somebody who maybe is an idol to you, or somebody that you know you need to reach out to, or maybe you know you need to have a conversation with them. Maybe, potentially, you want to start a partnership or at least even just ask a question. If you are at all an introvert like me, this three second rule is going to come in very handy, because to us introverts, meeting new people is very difficult. To us introverts, meeting new people is not something that’s comfortable, but when you realize how important it is to meet other people and just how impactful any new relationship could be in your life and your path and vice versa, you to theirs, you realize that you have to meet new people.

If I could go back into time, 88 miles per hour, back in the DeLorean and talk to my younger self, I would tell myself, “Pat, number one, that girl that you’ve been tripping about, she’s not worth it. Number two, meet as many people as you can. Don’t worry about what they’re going to say because you never know, that next relationship could be the one that changes everything for you.”

The three second rule is something that you tell yourself when you are in that moment where you see the person that you are going to be hopefully speaking to, shaking their hand, giving them a hug when we can all do that again – maybe not a hug upon first impression, but in those first moments, when typically, especially us introverts talk ourselves out of doing that, we come up with every scenario in our head to get out of that situation. We come up with every excuse possible to not move forward. The three second rule is this: Don’t give yourself more than three seconds to psych yourself out. You go up to that person and you introduce yourself within three seconds.

Now, of course, there’s some caveats here. If the person is in, literally, the middle of a conversation, you don’t want to be rude and interrupt them. You wait to your turn, and to your chance, and then you go for it. You don’t psych yourself out. If you happen to be walking by them in the hallway and they’re with a group, but they’re not really chatting, say, “Hey, excuse me, John. I just wanted to say thank you for what you do. It’s been great to hear your podcast. Can I ask you a quick question?”

It’s interesting because I remember what it was like… Going back to 2010, Blog World Expo, the very first conference and convention I ever went to was at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas. Again, it was called Blog World expo. Later on it turned into New Media Expo. The same event that I spoke at in 2015 onstage with a real life DeLorean that I brought onto the stage with me. Then the next year, the event didn’t happen anymore. I guess, I don’t know, maybe they thought we already set the bar too high. I don’t know. Anyway, 2010, I was not as open to the idea. I still am somewhat nervous and I’ll tell you a quick story at the end here of a moment where I didn’t follow the three second rule. I may have shared that story before, but it’s worth telling again because I still kick myself. I hope that I get a chance to meet this person again in the future. I’ll tell you all about that in a minute.

But 2010, I had no idea what I was doing at a conference. All I knew is I was a blogger, this was a blogging conference. Bloggers who wanted to grow go to blogging conferences and meet people and sit in on the conference talks, and learn, and try get better. I was invited to, because of the success of the Smart Passive Income Blog quite early on, I was invited to a little mastermind group. This mastermind group met a day before the event in a conference room that had a set of tables set up in a U-shape fashion. I saw my name tag there and I sat down and I had no idea who was going to enter the room. I didn’t know anybody. Then a few people came in whose names I recognized. Guess what? I got even more scared.

I saw people walk in like Darren Rouse from ProBlogger, and Chris Guthrie, another person who had a blog back then called, Literally that was the domain name. Because back then domain names, the more that you can exact match them to the search term, the better off you were. Not anymore and I don’t think Chris has that website anymore. I remember just not talking to anybody. I remember not ever raising my hand. I remember listening to everybody else and only talking when it was my turn to talk. I’m very grateful because people like Chris, Chris Guthrie, had came up to me afterwards, he was like, “Hey Pat, I like your blog. You want to go grab a lunch or grab a coffee?” We got chatting, and that’s how we became friends because he initiated the conversation. If he didn’t do that, I don’t know if we’d be friends today. I’m very grateful for that. We’ve kept in contact since then, but it started with the start. It always starts with the start.

If I could go back to then, I would do a much better job of mustering up the courage to just say hello to people and to not give myself enough time to psych myself out, because that’s really what I did. I just, what are they going to say? Are they even going to like me? I’m just going to look like an idiot in front of these people. Who am I to reach out and extend my hand to them? I think Lewis Howes was also in the room too, from School of Greatness.

It’s interesting because I think back and I’m like, Pat, Pat, Pat, what were you doing? Then I remember, I still feel like that sometimes, but I have the three second rule and the three second rule has helped me through many situations at all the conferences I’ve been at, at all the little workshops I’ve been to, at the mastermind groups I’ve been invited to. I haven’t given myself that much of a chance to talk myself out of meeting new people. Again, that encouragement of, okay, that next person that I meet, that next person who I say hello to, maybe there’s some value that I could give them. Then I could get value in exchange back in return. Maybe not then, maybe not immediately, and maybe not ever monetarily, but in some way, shape, or form, perhaps. It’s those chances that you give yourself. Every new relationship you create is like planting a new seed that could at some point sprout and turn into something to be fruitful, if we want to keep going with the analogy.

Who is this person who I didn’t use the three-second rule with that I wish I did? Well, I was speaking at an event. This was very recently, this was 2018, in San Diego, in the comfort of my own hometown, yet still not having the courage to say hello to this person. I was invited to a Dave Ramsey event. It was called EntreLeadership. I spoke on, hot topic, superfans, building raving fans out of people who just find you. This is a topic that obviously I’m very familiar with. I wrote the book on it, Superfans. Check it out if you haven’t already. The audiobook’s great. I go off script every once in a while.

So, I’m in the green room. If you don’t know what the green room is, that’s the room where they put the speakers and the VIPs to hang out outside of the bigger crowds, just to give them space. There’s oftentimes some beverages and some food and hors d’oeuvres there, and a bunch of tables, and often resting areas where people can sit in groups and chat or sit more privately. I was there getting a… I remember, it was a Perrier water, it was in a glass with ice, and it was one of those smaller green glass bottles. I was pouring myself a Perrier, not too much though, I don’t want too much bubbly before I go on stage. I was about 20 minutes before talking on stage. And all of a sudden the door opens and I see Simon Sinek walk in the room. Simon Sinek, Start With Why. His book, his very famous TED talk. I really, really loved all that he’s done, and I wanted to say thanks. But I was pouring my Perrier and he was there, he was getting some food on the other side and I never had the courage to just go and say hello.

That was the perfect time, in the green room. Not in front of anybody. When I started to think about it more, I was like, oh, well, he’s probably too busy or he’s probably coming in the green room to escape chatting and doing small talk. Like me, I escape to the green room sometimes to escape the small talk and decompress and regain my energy. Us introverts, we have to escape people to regain energy. Extroverts have to be around people to gain energy. I thought, okay, maybe Simon’s an introvert like me. Again, all this in just a few seconds, thinking about all these reasons why I shouldn’t come up to him, all the things bad that could happen or just… especially I was like, well, I’m about to go on stage. What if he blows me off and then I just fumble my talk and then I just… I’m thinking about it all day. Nah, I’m not going to take that chance.

Well, here am I today, two and a half years later talking about it, knowing it was a complete mistake. Sure, it could have just been a, hey, hello, how are you? Hey, hello. Hey, nice to meet you. That’s it. That would have been something at least. Here’s the thing, at least I would have given it a shot. You’ve got to shoot your shot people. You’ve got to shoot your shot.

The three second rule. Hopefully that is something you can put in your back pocket. The next time you go to a group meeting, a parent-teacher meeting, whatever it might be, where you’re around a bunch of people, don’t be afraid to say hello.

Now I know one thing you might be thinking, which is, well, what am I even going to say? Just start talking. Just start talking because an object at rest tends to stay at rest, until you start talking. Once you get going, the motions, that keeps you going. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. So just get into it. You never know. You never know.

I wish I could take that back. I wish I could go back and say hello to Simon Sinek. I’m sure there’ll be another opportunity in the future. I’m still going to be speaking on stages here and there. Not as much as I used to, but that was definitely an opportunity lost. The three second rule. Or, if you want to chat with somebody, schedule a podcast episode with a specific date and time where you know you’re going to chat with this person and no matter how crazy their resume might be, no matter how many hostage situations they’ve been a part of and how much they’ve negotiated their way out of something, you’re going to have a good time.

I definitely had a great time with Chris. I hope you listen to that episode if you haven’t already. That was episode 481, 481 with Chris Voss. It was a great one. How to use negotiation to level up, both in business and in life. I hope you check it out.

Thank you again for listening. I have been very, very much appreciating the kind words about these Friday follow-up episodes, because I think we’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the years. Pat, I love the solo shows. The interviews are great too. The idea of going twice a week, a Wednesday interview followed up by a Friday solo show, I think you get the best of both worlds. This one’s a little bit shorter, that other one is a little bit longer. I just wanted to say thank you for the positive feedback that has been coming in. It’s definitely been pushing me. It’s more work, but it’s work that I enjoy doing, especially when I hear that feedback.

If you wanted to offer any sort of constructive criticism or positive feedback, hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @PatFlynn. Let me know if you end up using the three second rule at any time, or maybe use this opportunity to not think and send me a message. Don’t worry about what I’m going to say. I’m going to do my best to reply. Again, @PatFlynn on Twitter, would likely be the easiest one for me to see, but @PatFlynn on Instagram, I get to Instagram every once in a while if you send me a DM.

Anyway, thank you so, so much for listening in. I appreciate you. Hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already. I look forward to serving you next week on Wednesday, another great interview with in fact, one of our very own. A student of SPI, a listener of the show, who’s created something amazing and a beautiful success story that’s, I’m sure, going to encourage you. Make sure you hit subscribe and look forward to that one.

Until then, thank you so much. I appreciate you. As always, Team Flynn for the win. Peace out.

Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound design and editing by Paul Grigoras. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess, our series producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

Share this post

Smart Passive Income Podcast

with Pat Flynn

Weekly interviews, strategy, and advice for building your online business the smart way.

Get Unstuck in just 5 minutes, for free

Our weekly Unstuck newsletter helps online entrepreneurs break through mental blocks, blind spots, and skill gaps. It’s the best 5-minute read you’ll find in your inbox.

Free newsletter. Unsubscribe anytime.

Join 135k+