MONEY Wealth

5 Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

man peering over fan of cash
Erik Dreyer—Getty Images

#3: Avoid time wasters.

When I finished my five-year study on the habits of 233 self-made millionaires, I made a breakthrough discovery. Nearly every one of the millionaires attributed their success in life to habits they learned primarily from their parents or some mentor in life. The secret to success is our daily habits. I thought this was a secret that needed to be shared with everyone so I began writing books about these habits. To date, I’ve identified more than 300 of what I call Rich Habits — and here are a few of them.

1. They Create Multiple Streams of Income

Self-made millionaires do not rely on only a single source of income. They develop multiple streams. Three seemed to be the magic number in my study. Sixty-five percent had three or more streams of income that they created over time. Diversifying your sources of income allows you to weather the economic downturns that always occur in life. These downturns are not as severe to the rich as they are to the poor. The poor put “one pole in one pond” and when their single income stream is negatively impacted in some way, they suffer financially.

Conversely, the rich have “several poles in several ponds” and are able to draw income from other sources when one source is temporarily impaired. Some of the additional streams might include: real estate rentals (each rental unit = a stream of income), REITs (each one = a stream of income), tenants-in-common real estate investments (each one = a stream of income), triple net leases, stock market investments, annuities (each one = a stream of income), seasonal real estate rentals (beach rentals, ski rentals, lakefront rentals), private equity investments, part ownership in side businesses (each one = a stream of income), financing investments, ancillary products or services and royalties (patents, books, oil, timber etc.).

2. They Dream-Set Before They Goal-Set

Dream-Setting is the act of clearly defining a dream. Sixty-four percent of the millionaires in my study were pursuing one single dream. Here’s the two-step process to Dream-Setting:

  • Step One – In 500 words or less, write down what you’d like your ideal life to be 10, 15 or 20 years out. Include specific details of your ideal future life: the income you earn, the house you live in, the boat you own, the car you drive, the money you’ve accumulated, etc.
  • Step Two – Using this script of your ideal future life, make a bullet-point list of each one of those details that represent your ideal life. These would be the income you earn, the house you live in, the boat your own, etc. These details represent your wishes or dreams.

Only after you’ve defined your wishes or dreams does the Goal-Setting process begin. Fifty-five percent of the millionaires in my study set goals around their dreams. This Goal-Setting process requires you to build goals around each one of your wishes or dreams. In order to build goals around each wish or dream, you need to ask yourself two questions:

  • Question #1: What would I need to do, what activities would I need to engage in, in order for each wish or dream to come true?
  • Question #2: Am I capable of performing those activities? Do I have the necessary skills and knowledge?

If the answer to Question #2 is yes, then those activities represent your goals. Goals are only goals when they involve physical action and you have the capability to perform the action required.

Let’s summarize this process:

  1. Paint a picture with 500 words or less of your ideal life.
  2. Define each wish or dream that must be realized in order to have that ideal life.
  3. Establish specific goals around each one of your wishes or dreams.
  4. Take action. Pursue and achieve each of the specific goals that will make each wish or dream come true.

You then repeat this process for every other wish or dream. When you realize each one of your wishes or dreams, your ideal future life will then become your actual life.

3. They Avoid Time-Wasters

When most people think of risk, they think of it in terms of some financial investment they make: investing money in a new business; investing money in stocks, mutual funds, bonds etc.; playing the lottery, gambling or lending money to someone. But financial risk is not the greatest risk most take. You can always earn more money. Money can be recouped. But there is another risk almost everyone takes for granted. This is a risk that, when made, can never be recouped. It’s gone forever. What is it? The greatest risk we all take is time. When we invest our time in anything, it’s lost forever. It never gets renewed or returned to us. Yet, because we are all given what seems to be an abundance of time, it has very little value to us. So we spend an enormous amount of our time engaged in wasteful activities such as sitting in front of a TV, on Facebook, watching YouTube videos, sitting at a bar, lying in bed or engaged in some other time-wasting, non-productive activity. And when we waste time, it’s gone. It will never return. We don’t consider how precious time is until we are older and we realize our time is running out.

Time needs to be invested wisely in pursuing goals, dreams or some major purpose in life. Any investment we make of our time should pay dividends down the road in the form of happiness events, financial security, creating a legacy or in helping improve the lives of others. When you see time as the greatest risk of all, it forces you to become more aware of exactly how you invest your time. Invest it wisely, because you will never get it back. Sixty-seven percent of the self-made millionaires in my study watched less than one hour of TV each day and 63% spent less than one hour a day on the Internet (recreation-related). This freed up time for them to pursue their dreams, goals, read, learn, exercise, volunteer and network.

4. They Found at Least One Success Mentor in Life

The average net liquid wealth of the 233 rich people in my research was $4.3 million. If you do the math, finding the right mentor in life is like someone depositing $4.3 million into your bank account. Ninety-three percent of the self-made millionaires in my study who had a mentor in life attributed their wealth to their mentors. Sixty-eight percent said that the mentoring they received from others was the critical factor in achieving success.

Success Mentors do more than simply influence your life in some positive way. They regularly and actively contribute to your success by teaching you what to do and what not to do. They share with you their mistakes and valuable life lessons that they learned either from their own mentors or from the school of hard knocks. Finding a success mentor in life is one of the least painful ways to become rich. It can put you on the fast track to success. In my research, I discovered five types of Success Mentors:

  1. Parents – Parents are often the only shot any of us have at having a mentor in life. This is why parenting is so important. Parents need to be success mentors to their children. They need to teach their children good daily success habits. If they don’t, it is likely their children will struggle in life.
  2. Teachers – Good teachers = good mentors. Teachers can reinforce the mentoring children receive at home from their parents, or step in to provide the success mentoring absent at home.
  3. Career Mentors – For those not fortunate enough to have had parents or teachers who provided success mentoring, finding a mentor at work can lead to success in life. Find someone at work who you admire, trust and respect and ask them to be your mentor. This person will be at least two or three levels above you in the pecking order at work.
  4. Book Mentors – Books can take the place of actual mentors. Sometimes the best source for mentors are found in books, particularly books about successful people. Fifty-eight percent of the self-made millionaires in my study read biographies of other successful people.
  5. The School of Hard Knocks – When you learn success habits through the school of hard knocks, you essentially become your own mentor. You teach yourself what works and what doesn’t work. You learn from your mistakes and failures. This is the hard path to success because those mistakes and failures carry significant costs in both time and money. But this is also the most powerful type of mentoring you can get because the lessons you learn are infused with intense emotion, and thus never forgotten.

5. They Never Quit on a Dream

Self-made millionaires are persistent. They never quit on their dream. They would rather go down with the ship than quit. Twenty-seven percent of the self-made millionaires in my study failed at least once in business. And then they picked themselves up and went on to try again. They persisted. Persistence requires doing certain things every day that move you forward in achieving your goals or life dream. Persistence makes you unstoppable. No obstacle, mistake or momentary failure can stop you from moving forward if you keep at it. These millionaires learned to pivot and change course, growing in the process. Persistence allowed them to learn what didn’t work and continuously experiment until they found what did work. Persistence is the single greatest contributor to manifesting good luck. Those who persist eventually get lucky. Some unintended consequence emerges, something unexpected and unanticipated happens to those who persist. Sometimes, those closest to you will urge you on and encourage you. But more often, those closest to you — those directly impacted by the obstacles, mistakes and failures that are part of the success journey — will try to stop you from persisting. It takes superhuman effort to continue to pursue success when there are so many forces fighting you. That’s what makes successful people so special — and also so rare. If you want to be successful in life, you must persist in the face of unrelenting adversity. Successful people are successful because they never quit on their dream.

There are many other Rich Habits, but I think these are some of the most powerful.

Habits, I learned from my research, dictate your circumstances in life. They unconsciously program us for success, failure or mediocrity in life. They can determine our social status – rich, poor or middle-class. Habits, I also learned, can be changed. The key to habit change is awareness and tracking. You need to become aware of the habits you currently have and would like to change and then you must track your new habits until they take hold. It takes an average of 66 days to replace an old habit with a new one. When you eliminate old bad habits and adopt new good habits, your life will begin to change for the better. It takes time, but it’s worth the effort.

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TIME Parenting

Why Amish Kids Are Happier than Yours

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...and probably more obedient.

Modern parents face tons of advice – a lot of it conflicting. New research seems to come out daily, and new experts are always spouting new ideas.

The Amish, on the other hand, hold onto old ways, with limited technology and a simple life. But Amish families are also marked by strong bonds, as novelist Serena B. Miller recognized as she did research for her historical novels about the Amish community. And she found Amish children to be “obedient and
content… and remarkably happy.”

Here are five secrets parents can learn from the Amish, as offered up in Miller’s new book: More Than Happy: The Wisdom of Amish Parenting.

  1. Extended Family. One big hallmark of Amish culture: children grow up not just with their immediate family, but in a broad network of people who know and care about them. And that network doesn’t have to be perfect to work. “Family,” Miller writes, “even flawed families with eccentric relatives—is important to a child’s wellbeing.”
  1. Imperfect Hospitality. The Amish nurture community by welcoming a steady stream of guests into the home. But they don’t try to have everything perfect before guests arrive. And they don’t apologize if things aren’t just right. They know that “most people care a whole lot more about being welcome than the condition of your home,” as Miller writes. And it’s an attitude that teaches kids to live without shame.
  1. Hands-On Skills. Amish make sure their kids have hands-on skills, even if they also have a higher education. And, those hands-on skills can build perseverance, attention to detail, and confidence that can help kids succeed in any other part of life.
  1. Practical Forgiveness. Forgiveness is a crucial aspect of Amish homes, where it is practiced daily, and seen as a way to show respect to loved ones. It also, Miller observes, provides Amish children with “a sense of security,” because in a climate of forgiveness, they know that “making a mistake is not the end of the world.”
  1. Creative Boredom. You might think that because the Amish world isn’t filled with technological devices, Amish kids would be more likely to get bored. In fact, the opposite is true. Because Amish kids don’t have a TV show or game to turn to if they feel a twinge of boredom, they have more opportunities to “use their own creativity to amuse themselves,” Miller says.

Ultimately, all Amish parenting is rooted in the faith at the heart of Amish practice. The Amish aren’t known for trying to convert people, but for the integrity of their lives. And as one old Amish man who Miller interviewed observed, “From what I’ve seen over the years, that is also the most effective kind of parenting.”

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TIME psychology

6 Secrets of Top Performing Work Teams

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Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Don’t just throw the best people together. How members get along is far more important than their capacities as individuals.

What makes for smart teams?

It’s not average IQ. It’s social skills. From MIT:

A new study published in Science found that three factors were significantly correlated with a group’s collective intelligence — in other words, its ability to perform a variety of tasks collectively, from solving puzzles to negotiating.

The three factors are: the average social sensitivity of the members of the group, the extent to which the group’s conversations weren’t dominated by a few members, and the percentage of women in the group. (The women in the study tended to score higher on social sensitivity than the men.) In other words, groups perform better on tasks if the members have strong social skills, if there are some women in the group, and if the conversation reflects more group members’ ideas. The groups studied were small teams with two to five members.

What’s the best predictor of team success?

How the team members feel about one another.

Via The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work:

The better we feel about these workplace relationships, the more effective we will be. For example, a study of over 350 employees in 60 business units at a financial services company found that the greatest predictor of a team’s achievement was how the members felt about one another. This is especially important for managers because, while they often have little control over the backgrounds or skill sets of employees placed on their teams, they do have control over the level of interaction and rapport. Studies show that the more team members are encouraged to socialize and interact face-to-face, the more engaged they feel, the more energy they have, and the longer they can stay focused on a task. In short, the more the team members invest in their social cohesion, the better the results of their work.

How well do they need to get along?

Remember the 5 to 1 ratio.

From The Ape in the Corner Office: How to Make Friends, Win Fights and Work Smarter by Understanding Human Nature:

It turned out that the fifteen high-performance teams averaged 5.6 positive interactions for every negative one. The nineteen low-performance teams racked up a positive/negative ratio of just .363. That is, they had about three negative interactions for every positive one…

Do people touch each other more if they like each other or does touching actually increase performance?

Can’t be sure but we do know one thing: “The teams that touched the most cooperated the most, and won the most.”

Via Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior:

So are touchy-feely people more successful at getting things done? There is no data on whether bosses who dole out the occasional pat on the head run a smoother operation, but a 2010 study by a group of researchers in Berkeley found a case in which a habit of congratulatory slaps to the skull really is associated with successful group interactions. The Berkeley researchers studied the sport of basketball, which both requires extensive second-by-second teamwork and is known for its elaborate language of touching. They found that the number of “fist bumps, high fives, chest bumps, leaping shoulder bumps, chest punches, head slaps, head grabs, low fives, high tens, half hugs, and team huddles” correlated significantly with the degree of cooperation among teammates, such as passing to those who are less closely defended, helping others escape defensive pressure by setting what are called “screens,” and otherwise displaying a reliance on a teammate at the expense of one’s own individual performance. The teams that touched the most cooperated the most, and won the most.

For creativity, mix it up a bit. The most creative teams are a mix of old friends and new blood.

Via Imagine: How Creativity Works:

“The best Broadway teams, by far, were those with a mix of relationships,” Uzzi says. “These teams had some old friends, but they also had newbies. This mixture meant that the artists could interact efficiently— they had a familiar structure to fall back on— but they also managed to incorporate some new ideas. They were comfortable with each other, but they weren’t too comfortable.”

Teams with men and women performed better:

We investigate whether the gender composition of teams affect their economic performance. We study a large business game, played in groups of three, where each group takes the role of a general manager. There are two parallel competitions, one involving undergraduates and the other involving MBAs. Our analysis shows that teams formed by three women are significantly outperformed by any other gender combination, both at the undergraduate and MBA levels. Looking across the performance distribution, we find that for undergraduates, three women teams are outperformed throughout, but by as much as 10pp at the bottom and by only 1pp at the top. For MBAs, at the top, the best performing group is two men and one woman. The differences in performance are explained by differences in decision-making. We observe that three women teams are less aggressive in their pricing strategies, invest less in R&D, and invest more in social sustainability initiatives, than any other gender combination teams. Finally, we find support for the hypothesis that it is poor work dynamics among the three women teams that drives the results.

A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Team trust is not determined by an average of the members, it’s at the level of the least trusted member:

In a team negotiation context, the authors empirically explored how judgments of team-level trust are derived from individual-level trust. Basing their argument on both the negativity bias and the discontinuity effect, the authors posit that people will focus most on the least trustworthy individual member of a team when making judgments about collective team-level trust. Findings from two studies demonstrate that perceptions of team trust are indeed lower than the average ratings of individual trust and are statistically equivalent to the least trusted member. In addition, compared with average individual trust levels, perceptions of collective team trust were found to be more predictive of (a) impasse rates in distributive negotiations and (b) the level of joint gain in integrative negotiations.

What inspires team morale? Great stories:

“Institutions that can communicate a compelling historical narrative often inspire a special kind of commitment among employees. It is this dedication that directly affects a company’s success and is critical to creating a strong corporate legacy,” said author Adam Galinsky, Morris and Alice Kaplan professor of ethics and decision in management.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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TIME Security

G20 Conference Gives Hackers High-Profile Targets

AUSTRALIA-G20-SUMMIT
Peter Parks—AFP/Getty Images Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (C) is welcomed upon her arrival at the airport in Brisbane to take part in the G20 summit on November 14, 2014.

Cybersecurity experts warn the global conference of world leaders is a prime target for hackers

At 3:10 a.m. on October 27, 2011, a less-than-diplomatic email landed in the inboxes of attendees at the G20 Summit, an annual gathering of heads of government and other representatives from the world’s top economic powers. “Ladies and Gentlemen,” the email began, “First Lady Nude Photos.” It was followed by a link that promised to open a stash of nude photos of France’s then-first lady, Carla Bruni. The link was also spring-loaded with malicious code that could infiltrate the device of a G20 delegate, opening a pathway to a wider network of devices. The sender needed only one hot blooded delegate to potentially infect an entire delegation.

It’s not hard to imagine the hacker or hackers’ motive. The G20 Summit draws leaders from 20 nations that comprise 86% of the world’s wealth. They bring in their wake some 4,000 delegates from various ministries, businesses and NGO’s, all of whom will converge on Brisbane, Australia Saturday for a weekend of handshakes and hobnobbing. They will also carry in their smartphones and laptops reams of sensitive communications, including agendas, talking points and trade secrets — a cornucopia of state interests that could offer rival nations an edge in future negotiations or standoffs.

It might sound a bit amateurish to send global bigwigs the same crudely-written emails that might turn up in the average joe’s spam folder, but security experts say hackers try every trick in the book to infiltrate the summit.

“Some groups that look spammy are the exact same groups that can send out extremely well-crafted emails,” says Nart Villeneuve, a senior researcher at the California-based security firm FireEye. The crude emails are often just the opening shot in a campaign that can extend to tainted memory sticks and emails that are indistinguishable from official G20 correspondence. FireEye researchers made headlines after last year’s G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia when they exposed a concerted attack against five European foreign ministries. In that case, an email attachment labeled “US_military_options_in_Syria” installed malicious code as soon as the recipient opened the official-looking file.

Villeneuve had a front row seat to the St. Petersburg breach. His team traced the malware back to a command-and-control server in China, where they observed a ring of hackers known as “Ke3chang” in action. For a brief, two week window, Villeneuve’s team saw the hackers issue commands to search for files and open backdoors to other computers of interest.

“The attackers don’t have to compromise a high level diplomat first,” Villeneuve said. “It can begin with anyone on that network.”

The St. Petersburg hack wasn’t the first time such a global gathering had been targeted: During the 2012 Olympics, for example, tainted schedules circulated among the attendees. And in the run up to 2011 G20 Summit, malware-ridden files infected roughly 150 computers in the French Ministry of Finance. “It’s probably the first time it’s been as spectacular as this,” said France’s Budget Minister François Baroin at the time.

But the high-profile hacks could very well get more spectacular until all attendees at sensitive events like the G20 collectively shore up their online security. Each delegation crafts its own security plan, but in an ideal world, says FireEye Threat Intelligence Manager Jen Weedon, attendees would use disposable phones and laptops that can be wiped clean of all content before and after the conference. Still, many attendees come from countries that may not have the interest or resources to take such measures, which many may view as extreme or unwarranted. “You can’t expect them to become security experts overnight,” Weedon says. But G20 delegations ignore the security risks at their own peril: already, Weedon says, Tibetan activists at this year’s conference have been targeted by a malware-infected document related to protest information.

Ultimately, the problem of hackers running amok at global gatherings runs deeper than technology alone. All hacking scams exploit human vulnerabilities — lust, credulity, curiosity — that can’t always be solved with a smarter spam filter. “It takes a human to click on something,” observes Weedon, a warning that this weekend’s assemblage of power players may or may not heed when the promise of official correspondence or other tempting links land in their inboxes. They’re only flesh and blood, after all.

TIME Television

VIDEO: Watch ‘Secrets,’ The New Game of Thrones Season 4 Trailer

Vengence. Plotting. Dragons. April 6th can't come soon enough for GoT fans.

As HBO continues to ramp up the hype for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones, they’ve released a third teaser trailer for season four, called “Secrets.”

As we saw in the series’ two previous trailers (here and here) political tensions are rising in Westeros and the events of the Red Wedding are weighing heavily on several characters’ minds. Many of the characters can also be seen questioning their positions. Note Cersei Lannister asking new character Oberyn Martell, “what good is power if you cannot protect the ones you love?” What good, indeed.

April 6th can’t come soon enough for GoT fans.

TIME psychology

How to Find out Anything from Anyone

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Henrik S¿rensen / Photographer Henrik Sorensen

A former intelligence officer shares interrogation tips for getting people to spill on first dates and their salaries

Wish you knew whether the wisecracking guy in the next cubicle got a raise this year? Or whether that stylish woman sipping wine on your first date wants to have kids? Bet you’d like to know whether your nanny really takes the baby outside everyday per your instructions. Well, a new book by an army intelligence interrogator could help you get the answers to your most pressing questions.

“Find Out Anything from Anyone, Anytime: Secrets of Calculated Questioning From a Veteran Interrogator” by James O. Pyle and Maryann Karinch won’t help you force a hostile to reveal state secrets, but it does suggest ways to turn someone who’s on the fence into spilling what you want to know.

“There are two things people will not give you for free: money and information,” says Pyle, who plied his craft in the U.S. Army, the Army Intelligence Center and School and the Joint Intelligence of the Pentagon. He explains in the book that the key to pulling out information lies in things like the “control” question, in which you ask something to which you already know the answer to find out whether the person is “lying, uninformed, and/or not paying attention,” he says. Then there’s the “persistent” question in which you ask the same thing in different ways to “explore all facets of the desired information.”

But the most important thing to remember is that there’s nothing better at clamming people up than an interrogation. So try not to make it obvious that you’re pumping someone for information, but “have a conversation with information in it,” he says. That means offering up stuff about yourself and showing curiosity and interest in what the other person is saying.

Here’s how this army intelligence expert would help you get an answer in these typical scenarios:

Does a first date want kids?

This is a delicate subject to broach on a first date, and a direct question could scare off many people. Generally, the best approach is to say something about yourself and watch the other person’s reaction. If you want to know, for example, whether he’s been married, you might say that you have been and then watch the response you get. “The eyes are the big tellers,” Pyle says. “Do they say Ohmygosh? Is there a pull back?” Compare that to how the other person looks when talking about non-personal or non-emotional subjects.

For the kid question, he suggests using the “third party” approach. If there’s a child anywhere nearby, you might comment, “Wow, look at that cute kid.” The answer might not be definitive, but you will get very suggestive clues from “I guess, but they don’t belong in fancy restaurants,” versus “I have two little girls and I sure miss them.”

Is my co-worker making more than me?

Asking right out about another person’s salary can seem intrusive, even aggressive. But starting a conversation—and including some sly flattery—might work wonders. “If I was half as good as you are,” you might say, “I’d be earning twice what I’m making.” If your target bites, she might offer something you can build on, such as, “Oh, I’m not making all that much.” Then you could counter with a really high figure. “Oh, you must be making at least X grand.” That’s likely to be met with a disclaimer, “Oh, no, not that much.” Then, Pyle suggests you guess a way-low figure, and she’ll probably respond, “Oh, more than that.” At this point, she may just tell you. But even if she doesn’t, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the answer.

Does the nanny follow my instructions for taking care of my child?

This is a tricky situation. If your nanny did not follow your instructions to take baby Lindsey out, for example, she’ll be very reluctant to tell you. This is where it comes in handy to know the different kinds of questions. Don’t ask a question that produces a yes or no reply, Pyle says. Instead, you might ask these other kinds of questions, always in a conversational way. Ask for a narrative. “How was your walk today? Where did you go? What did you do?” People who want to cover something, according to FBI narrative analysis, tend to minimize and dismiss: “Fine. Just walked around and came back.”
If that’s the response you get, dig in. What time did you go out? What did you see? Who did you meet? If want to check her truthfulness, you can summarize what she’s said and either leave something out or add something in. If she doesn’t catch it and correct you, that’s a sign she may be lying. Also, if you catch her in a contradiction, you can question her further. And if you think she’s just getting flustered, you can relax the tension by asking her a non-pertinent question like “Oh, that smells good; what did you make for dinner?” Then after a while, you can return to the questions you want answered.

What’s the state of my elderly parents finances and how much will I have to pitch in if they need long term care?

Many elderly people are extremely private about their money and won’t tell their kids how much they’ve got, where it is, or whether they’ve signed any documents to allow access in an emergency. For this situation, Pyle advises a different strategy. “Make an appeal,” he says. Express your love and gratitude to them, bring up an example like the neighbor who had a stroke but whose rehab was delayed because she hadn’t given anyone her power of attorney. Then, say, ” I want to ask you some questions, not because I’m nosy, but so you can tell me how I can help you if you need it. ” Then just launch into your questions.

“It’s a disarming approach,” Pyle says. “If they don’t buy it, then ask, “Why can’t we talk about this? Why else?” That may get a useful dialogue going.

In any situation, Pyle says, from asking your 5-year-old what he ate for lunch at school to asking a prisoner of war what he was doing on that road, persistence tends to pay off. He suggests you just keep asking, “What else?” until they say, That’s all.” Most of all, start a conversation in which people want to tell you what you want to know — and likely won’t even realize they’re revealing anything. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” he says, adding. “But if you make ’em thirsty, they’ll drink by themselves.”

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