Powerful Conversations begins with Active Listening

How well do you listen?

Step back and listen to your personal dialogue and you might be surprised at what you come up with. Listening is an art defined by your presence, and your ability to remove the ‘need’ to respond.

Actually, it’s not a ‘response’ that’s the issue. It’s often a reaction because you feel as if you want to share an opinion… desire to interject… choose to contradict what’s being said.

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An effectively listener is a ‘powerful’ listener… someone who chooses to forego ego and the desire to constantly make a point.

Is this you?

Conversation doesn’t have to be like this… when you choose to ‘actively listen’.

The results will surprise you. You’ll break down barriers, potential conflict and disagreement. You’ll replace this, instead, with empathy and understanding. The value of this… you create a win-win situation.

In light of the volatility, and strong opinions that we find ourselves in, vis-a-vis our political landscape and greater global turmoil, powerful conversations infused with active listening is key to this resolving misunderstandings.

The only cost to you: effective use of time; relinquishing distracting arguments; assuming that you always have to be right.

The power of conversation is determined by ‘powerful active listening’.

Zen Paul & Zen Eric

Zen and The Art of Connecting Without Words

Have you ever been in a situation with someone where you just could not connect?


Maybe it was an argument and the more that was said the farther apart you became. Maybe you really wanted to get to know someone and no matter how hard you tried you could not connect.

There is a very logical and scientific reason for this:  The words we speak only communicate 7% of the message we are trying to send, and it is the last 7% of the message that is received. Think about this! 

Speaking is the least effective form of communicating or in this case connecting. It is not that words don't matter, but if you want them to be effective you need to focus on the other 93% of the communication process.

What is the other 93%?

The other 93% of the communication process include: the tone of your voice; the speed at which you speak; the expression on your face, your ability to listen without judgment…  

I’d like to share one very effective and easy technique that can immediately have you connect to and be in sync with 93% of the communication process.


"Mirror, Mirror on the wall who is the fairest one of all" You probably remember that fairy tale… right?  Well, according to linguistics and people who study nonverbal communication there is plenty of truth in this story.  You see, all of us at a  subconscious level like or trust people that we believe are like us. And how do we know if they are like us? If we try to connect with just our words, it is hit or miss, usually miss, and we struggle to create rapport.


Most people try to be “in rapport” by using words to try to find common interests. " You like Blue, I like Blue." "Did you see the game? I love that team too.'  But if words only constitute 7% of the communication process… and it is the last 7%, then you have an explanation of why meaningful connection doesn't work most of the time. 

Your body and mind are connected together in a cybernetic loop. Your body is an extension of your mind, allowing your thoughts to act upon the world… Your senses feed the results of those actions back into your mind. You are inseparably part of a feedback loop comprising you and the world around you.  You can use this principle:


Try standing up straight, taking deep breathes… and try to feel depressed, or… put your head down, slouch and get excited. It is impossible. 


We will cover more about how to use your body cues and expressions in another blog post. For now, let's see how we can use the cybernetic loop principal to improve our ability to communicate effectively. Let’s return to the mirror exercise:


If you mirror someone else's posture: how they breathe, the speed at which they speak… you will become connected to them at a cybernetic loop level. You will connect with them at a level that includes the over looked 93%. You will begin to feel more of what they feel and think more like they think, as you change and shift they will to, and vise versa. Magic happens in the realm of the 93%.


Remember, people like and trust people that they perceive are like them. From years of experience using this principle, you will connect in profound ways without even saying a word. Because of the cybernetic loop effect, you establish deep trust and rapport very quickly. You will be able to read the non verbal cues to be impactful, effective and respectful.


Next time you perceive "it is not working”, be it in sales… meeting someone for the first time… or even an argument, stop and notice how you can shift your posture, sync your breath with theirs, and the speed at which you are speaking to match theirs. Stop talking, listen… and mirror them. 

Everything we do in life is based on communication. As your communication gets better your life gets better. Learn and use this simple and powerful principles to to take your effectivness to the next level!


As a teacher of mine once said, "you can be right or you can be effective".

Be sure to listen to the attached audio file for useful techniques ond exercises on how to use non verbal communication to connect with yourself and other people.


Mirror mirror on the wall..... when you mirror me I feel like the fairest one of all!

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Super Bowl 53 & 'Jesus' Comes To Town

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

-Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

What does a Jew, a Christo-Buddhist and a Born Again Christian have in common, amidst the backdrop of Patriots-Rams Super Bowl revelry?

A powerful conversation!

‘John’ and Zen Eric

‘John’ and Zen Eric

This was Downtown Atlanta… and John, Paul and Eric, 3 Super Bowl apostles, were discussing Jesus and redemption hours before gladiatorial battle of Super Bowl 53.

6’2” with a Texas drawl and cowboy hat, John was in Atlanta for a religious convention and to share his ardent faith with anyone who was searching for redemption. Zen Eric and Zen Paul were searching for a dialogue, with someone you had a powerful story and commitment.

Why does someone turn from alcoholism and fornication to Born Again, traveling the country preaching his/her ‘indoctrinated’ beliefs?

Zen Paul gets in on the action

Zen Paul gets in on the action

We were curious. John was open, forthwith and honest with his ‘journey’. From Jesus to Matthew… The Ten Commandments to addressing hypocrisy, John was well versed and passionate. His beliefs weren’t necessarily ours, though his authenticity, transparency and demeanor well deserved our attention.

We weren’t there to judge… we were there to listen and respect someone else’s opinion.

In a society where politics leads to entanglement, heated debate and disrespect, getting back to active listening and dialogue is key to moving forward. It’s up to each and every one of us to step back and determine whether we are rebuking or respecting…. listening, or languishing in the conflicts that are eating away at the fabric of our society.

Super Bowl 53… we chose to listen with intent. We don’t have to agree, though we recognize the value of respecting someone else’s space.

Creating community for community,

Zen Paul and Zen Eric

Zen Eric masters the evening

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A wild, eventful eventful evening where Zen Eric struts his stuff at the 2019 ControlTrends Awards. This is where Zen Eric announces the 2018 CTA Award Winners, Young Guns, Petock Award Recipient, and Hall of Fame Inductees.

As Stromquist and Company’s ‘Chief’, Zen Eric and his formidable crew lead the way in building automation, combustion control, industrial process monitoring and much more.

It was a masterful evening as Zen Eric humbled the crowd and himself at the Fox Theater, Atlanta, GA, discussing the memory of his father and the lessons learned, which makes Eric ‘why’ and who he is today. A remarkable and memorable story and evening. It’s humility like this which paves the way for today’s Everyday Master, Eric Stromquist.

Proud of you brother!

Zen Paul

The Zen Brothers

An Exciting 2019

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Taking off in late 2018, The Zen Brothers took you on a whirlwind of dynamic, stimulating, engaging and fun podcasts. From Japan to LA, Vietnam to New Mexico, our reach was broad and content meaningful, as we introduced our Community to The Zen Brothers Everyday Masters: successful people with empowering experiences to share.

Our focus: to inspire and create community of successful, like-minded individuals. In an era where dialogue has taken a back seat to opinion and polarized beliefs, The Zen Brothers aims to break down these walls and build better understanding, dialogue and powerful communication.

As we zoom into 2019 we are excited to expand our community, lead together, learn, appreciate and share the insights of motivated and driven Everyday Masters. Join us weekly as we share powerful conversations with you… our community.

Inspiring and sharing,

Zen Paul & Zen Eric

The Zen Brothers.

Peter - The Miniature Penguin Volunteer

St. Kilda Beach, Melbourne, Australia - witnesses 1300 miniature penguins swim back to their micro-environment every evening.

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Since 1980 these cute, cuddly creatures venture back to their resting place after spending a day swimming the ocean tides. It’s a micro-environment that draws an audience of throngs of locals and visitors, waiting in anticipation until the sun goes down and the furry creatures arrive.

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This is where Peter comes on the scene. One of many volunteers… and certainly ‘the right one’, as you sense, feel and

become immersed in his passion to make his regular volunteering count. Peters’ face lit up… as I can only imagine it always has since before he retired.

It’s this passion that sucks you in, leaving you with a sense of greater insight and a memory well worth holding onto.

It’s this purpose and ability to make practice meet intent that makes Peter one of our Street Masters: someone who leaves an impression, without looking for anything in return. It’s authenticity at it’s best.

So hats off to you Peter: Keep those Aussie evenings alive with your knowledge, passion, stories and experiences.

Zen Paul & Zen Eric

The Zen Brothers

A conversation: Sydney, Australia to Atlanta, Georgia USA

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Eric: What’s happening Down Under Zen Brother?

Paul: Another beautiful day in paradise my friend, as we gear up for a powerful 2019 of extraordinary podcasts with extraordinary Everyday Masters.

Eric: I get all this, and I’m jazzed to hear your excitement, as I feel this too. Though what I’m asking is: What’s happening with you?

Paul: Me! I’m sitting at this huge bay window overlooking one of Sydney’s pristine beaches… Coogee Beach. The sun is out; people are swimming from beach-to-beach against the current; oarsmen are rowing in groups from shore to surf, surf to shore; and there’s this tranquil feeling that everything is in sync as I sip my Tieguanyin tea and embrace the Sydney summer. This is life Down Under.

Eric: Wow…wow…wow! Sounds like a piece of magic.

Paul: Wish you were here Zen Brother! I’m just thinking how we can capture this ‘balance’ for our community as we tidy up 2018 and head into 2019. I’m supercharged my friend. 2019 is going to be a great year, as we create with our community, for our community. In the meantime, I’m going go hit there beach and make waves. Catch you tomorrow.

Eric: I’m taking your energy and will run with it. Catch you tomorrow Zen Brother.

Why we do what we do

This is Paul… and this is Eric… and we’re The Zen Brothers

This is Paul… and this is Eric… and we’re The Zen Brothers

A critical and meaningful question that we are frequently, directly or indirectly asked: Why we do what we do?

We are inspired to give back to community, sharing with our community the heart, soul and spirit of individuals who might not have been recognized for their ‘gifts’ - the reason we created Everyday Masters.

Our purpose is to help enrich the lives of our community via the stories and experiences of others.

The Zen of giving is to be authentic in our motives. Our passion is to offer our community insight into the experiences of others: meaningful experiences that can be adopted by each and everyone of us.

It’s the authenticity, spirit and heart that each one of The Zen Brothers Everyday Masters has to offer to our community. It’s the failure, resilience, fortitude and growth that has allowed each Everyday Master to share their story with integrity and humility.

We do what we do at Zen Brothers because we are passionate and motivated to give back, inspire and be inspired. Join us, as we break down barriers and build a community of like-minded, successful people…

This is Paul… and this is Eric… and we’re The Zen Brothers.

Night Art - A lesson with James Lee Brooks III

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Atlanta’s Little Five Points is quirky, alive and very real. It has soul and authenticity which draws attention to its novel offerings - shops, shows, and street life. This is where I found one James Lee Brooks III.

At night I grabbed my camera and drove the congested traffic of downtown Atlanta. It’s an adventure every time you hit the night streets of Atlanta and last night was no exception.

Making my way to Little Five’s Euclid entrance I passed busker’s, street vendors, a homeless couple and an array of pubs filled with nightlife.

James Lee Brooks III captivated my attention, so I sat with him on the pavement, chalked up a conversation and listened to his story. Inspired by his artistic mother, he took up painting from a very young age. “I grew up poor, though I was rich in other ways”. James’ art expresses his ‘richness’: bold colors, vibrant characters and rich canvases portraying a collage of energy, spirit, and soul.

I left consumed with his energy, spirit, and soul, knowing that I will visit his masterful personality and unique, artistic strokes… again.

Check out: Tending The Magnolia - From Slavery to the White House

Bringing alive Everyday Masters and creating community,

Zen Paul & Zen Eric

The Zen Brothers

The He‘art’ Of Tea

Yen & Hung - Hien Minh Teahouse - Hanoi, Vietnam

Yen & Hung - Hien Minh Teahouse - Hanoi, Vietnam

As we gear up our Zen Brothers podcasts to take you around the world, we’re excited to be able to bring you to Hien Minh Tea House in Hanoi, Vietnam. The heart and soul of this teahouse comes from its proprietors: Nguyen Viet Hung and Hai Yen – 2 Everyday Masters who epitomize love, empathy, servitude and honesty in business. This rare combination of attributes is why we’re excited to share their story in the not too distant future. 

From collection of tea leaves to preparation by hand, to knowledge, passion and travel into the mountains to extract the most ideal quality tea leaves for production, Hung and Yen live their profession with a passion that most people will never experience. Our objective is to share their story and work ethic with our community, enriching your lives and learning from each other. 

 

From your Zen Bothers,

 

Eric and Paul 

The He'art'

As we gear up our Zen Brothers podcasts to take you around the world, we’re excited to be able to bring you to Hien Minh Tea House in Hanoi, Vietnam. The heart and soul of this teahouse comes from its proprietors: Nguyen Viet Hung and Hai Yen – 2 Everyday Masters who epitomize love, empathy, servitude and honesty in business. This rare combination of attributes is why we’re excited to share their story in the not too distant future. 

From collection of tea leaves to preparation by hand, to knowledge, passion and travel into the mountains to extract the most ideal quality tea leaves for production, Hung and Yen live their profession with a passion that most people will never experience. Our objective is to share their story and work ethic with our community, enriching your lives and learning from each other. 

 

From your Zen Bothers,

 

Eric and Paul 

A tremendous Zen experience this morning

 

You might have heard the term: Empty your cup.

A revered Zen saying: 

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

A good friend of mine just returned from Japan, where he bought a gift for me: Premium Kabuse sencha and Kaze no Shizuku - oolong tea form Inokuro tea farm, 100km outside Nara.I prepared the oolong The blend is extraordinary and the texture is soft on the palate. The flavor is sweet and lingering.  I was so happy, yet a little confused about this varietal tea. 

The experience was tremendous. I then realized that I prepared the oolong. I didn’t have my glasses on. 

In the West we tend to limit our senses. In the Far East it’s experience that aligns knowledge with wisdom. I have my teacher, Ghimm Mun Lam, to thank for opening my eyes. 

When our cup is full, when we have an overly busy mind, we often fail to embrace opportunities. 

Join us at iTunes: The Zen Brothers or access our podcasts for free on this website

Creating Community, with our Community for Community.

Zen Paul & Zen Eric

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Thanksgiving... see you next year

The joy, grief, love and despair as we all took a day or week off to enjoy a mega turkey, stuffing… and feeling stuffed from the extra calories and a family ‘affair’.

Bloated with family interaction and the usual mega consumption of Tryptophan, vis-a-vis the turkey express, we wake up the next morning feeling the horrors of last nights meal and family jousting. It’s OK, we have 365 days to regroup before we are at it again.

Not so fast!

Why do we put ourselves through this anticipation and torment?

It’s obvious: we love turkey… once a year; and we love our extended family… once a year.

This is a choice that we make once a year.

Aunt Mavis still tests our patience by repeating her favorite phrase: “You look fat… life’s not good for you?” Uncle Marv comes out with his favorite rhetoric: “You still married to that lousy good for nothing?” - when it’s actually him who’s suffering from a less than ideal marriage.

Back to reality.

These interactions happen every day, in a busy office or work environment. Your boss, peer or even staff can undercut your sanity and performance, leaving you frustrated and resentful.

It’s up to you to refine your environment, inside and out. This is what we want to share with you at Zen Brothers.

There’s no room for mediocrity and apathy when you are fully-engaged and motivated to succeed.

There will always be those Aunt Mavis’s and Uncle Marv’s who will try and undermine you in every aspect of your life. It’s up to you to build resilience and focus on greater purpose and further success.

So join us at our weekly Zen Brothers podcasts, as together, we learn to dump the Mavis’s and Marv’s, fortify our positions, and create memorable experiences.

Always with you,

Zen Paul & Zen Eric

'Shifting' confrontation

Shifting Confrontation

What if you could shift a potential confrontation to a win-win? 

Confrontation - “a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation between opposing parties.”

In any situation, when we are left to confront a hostile ‘adversary’, we often shift from a defensive stance to an offensive act… as our adrenaline builds. Though it doesn't need to be like this. 

The above scenario is indicative of how we lose control of a situation. 

In a discussion with Zen Eric this past week, as we sipped Da Hung Pao tea, he brought up associated and disassociated experiences, which are concepts of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. 

With Associated Experiences we experience interactions ‘within the experience’. In contrast, when we allow ourselves Dissociated Experiences, we learn to step outside of the immediate situation. The latter allows us to observe our interactions and communication with others outside of the tension and conflict. The benefit of learning and experiencing this is tremendous. 

Whether inside your work environment, with a spouse or other family member, or confrontation on the streets, try to envisage a situation where you can ‘dissociate’ from the immediate situation or threat. You condition yourself to step out of a potentially difficult scenario and retain control. It’s this self-control that can shift a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation, to a win-win. 

Ideas like these, and so much more, is what the Zen Brothers share on our weekly podcast: a community of like-minded driven people via powerful conversations.

'Shifting' confrontation

What if you could shift a potential confrontation to a win-win?

Confrontation - “a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation between opposing parties.”

In any situation, when we are left to confront a hostile ‘adversary’, we often shift from a defensive stance to an offensive act… as our adrenaline builds. Though it doesn't need to be like this.

The above scenario is indicative of how we lose control of a situation.

In a discussion with Zen Eric this past week, as we sipped Da Hung Pao tea, he brought up associated and disassociated experiences, which are concepts of Neuro Linguistic Programming.

With Associated Experiences we experience interactions ‘within the experience’. In contrast, when we allow ourselves Dissociated Experiences, we learn to step outside of the immediate situation. The latter allows us to observe our interactions and communication with others outside of the tension and conflict. The benefit of learning and experiencing this is tremendous.

Whether inside your work environment, with a spouse or other family member, or confrontation on the streets, try to envisage a situation where you can ‘dissociate’ from the immediate situation or threat. You condition yourself to step out of a potential difficult scenario and retain control. It’s this self-control that can shift a hostile or argumentative meeting or situation, to a win-win.

Ideas like these, and so much more, is what the Zen Brothers share on our weekly podcast: a community of like-minded driven people via powerful conversations.

What if you were to take a moment and belt out a laugh?

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The Importance of Humor

G’day, this is Paul and I’m with you to share the lighter side of life. 

Think of this scenario: 

You’re fatigued with head to the grind at work. You are left to meet one of those incessant deadlines that coincidently pop up at 3pm on a Friday afternoon. The world’s resting on your shoulders and the ground feels as if it’s about to erupt from under your feet. The clock’s ticking and the sweat on your brow hits your keyboard. The muscles on your neck begin to bulge, as you turn a shade of Hulkish green. Yes, you feel like ripping someone’s head off.Life all of a sudden… sucks!

What a blah scenario. 

What choices do you have?

Explode with rage… or, embrace the lighter side of reality: “This too shall pass”.

Take a chance…Laugh it up: You use about 30 of your 43 facial muscles when you belt out a laugh; your brain’s chemicals that transmit information begin to tap dance, and you’re left reaping the rewards of this human primal instinct… that we too often underutilize. 

 Don’t feel like laughing… fake it ‘til you make it. Where you’re currently standing or sitting, belt out a laugh at the top of your lungs… just do it. Who cares what others think. It will leave you with a smile that will reverberate throughout the rest of your day. 

 Humor is therapeutic. It will beat away that stress and boost your immune system. 

 The next time you’re looking for an antidote to work or life kryptonite, blast it away as you belt out a laugh. 

 We’re The Zen Brothers and we’re keeping you in touch and in focus.