Realize that any communication is an exchange, and that human beings are, by nature, concerned with their inner world; the receiver wants to feel heard. If they feel seen, heard, and understood as a human, this makes them more receptive to listening and reciprocating (doing a better job and being more invested as they feel more valued and appreciated as a human).
We are all competing in an attention economy. From pings and dings to blinks and rings, companies and content constantly compete for our limited time and attention. How do great leaders turn down the noise and tune in to the messages that matter most? What does it take to be heard above the noise? And how do we create communication that cultivates community and connectedness in a distributed, distracted world? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” As a part of this interview series, we had the pleasure of interviewing David A. Caren.
Born in the Bay Area of California to a heroin-addicted mother, David A. Caren is an author, hypnotherapist and emotional optimization coach with intimate experience overcoming traumas and hardships. His incredible resilience, massive determination, and never-ending curiosity instilled a fascination with the mind, emotions and human behavior.
Since 2004, he has dedicated more than 10,000 hours to thousands of clients worldwide to solve life’s greatest challenges, receiving over 500 five-star reviews.
While he may not have invented the Internet or solved world peace, he is intensely passionate about helping people live better lives through the power of their own minds and optimizing emotional responses.
Thank you for making time to visit with us. Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is one of your most memorable moments, and what made it memorable?
When I think of my most memorable moments, I have one that stands out above all others. That is traveling to Jamaica for a one-week vacation that still feels like it was two weeks, with my wife. This was our first official vacation after 10 years of marriage, and what we termed our belated honeymoon (We were married in a drive-thru wedding chapel in Las Vegas with those close to us in the back of a pickup truck).
What made it most memorable was, for the very first time in my entire life, I was able to not worry about expenses, and we could do all the things we wanted. This was huge for me, coming from diving into grocery store dumpsters with my mom and siblings for food and evolving to being able to release the financial fear of safety and evolve into a deeper appreciation for the efforts of the hard work and personal growth along the way.
This definitely marked a pivotal moment in my journey as a person.
Let me tell you, that breathing room, mentally and emotionally, will stick with me for life and has become an emotional and mental anchor point moving forward. Now that my mind knows I can achieve it, it’s already much easier to inject in other parts of my life.
What is the most unexpected twist in your career story, and what did you discover from your detour?
I’ve always been an entrepreneurial spirit as far back as I can recall. My first “job” was at a farmer’s market at the age of 13, unloading frozen vegetables with my bare hands, until I could afford my own gloves. From there it was fast food, starting from the top and working my way up no matter what I did. I was always dedicated to becoming my personal best no matter what I put my mind to. I have always seen EVERYTHING as an opportunity to grow, even if it might suck in the moment.
I would say the most unexpected “twist” was turning my own personal growth journey into a business. My only full-blood brother passed away suddenly when I was young. I was about 20. He was around 19. If he was the black sheep, I was the white sheep. He chose a life on the streets, and I chose school, education, and working on myself to become a better person.
That experience shook me to my core. It took me about ten years of “numbness and shock” before I came out of it and started digging deep into my own emotional and mental wounds.
Here’s where the unexpected twist comes in: I was drawn into the world of metaphysics, energy work, spirituality, trying to make sense of the unknown. Now, I’ve always been extremely grounded in reality, even though the possibilities of the unseen world and the mind have fascinated me. So, I dove deep and found ways to bridge both worlds, the “intuitive” and the internal.
That brought me to Hypnotherapy as a profession in about 2004. Since then, I’ve seen some incredible things in some very short time periods, not only with myself but also with my clients. For example, through hypnotherapy, I was able to help my wife overcome an “incurable” vocal disorder, Spasmodic Dysphonia where the vocal cords would spasm every few seconds, to speak normally again. One day, we got to her root issue, processed through it, and the next day, she could speak normally again. That was about a six-month journey to get there and well worth it.
What I discovered from that journey was how powerful the subconscious mind is ESPECIALLY when working through traumas and unresolved emotions.
According to a recent Harvard Business School study, the most essential communication skill for leaders is the ability to adapt their communication style. How do you adapt your communication style?
Adapting communication styles is MASSIVELY important. Recognizing that not everyone operates the same way as you is one of the biggest mindset shifts to make.
I personally adapt my communication styles by listening and getting a sense of how someone else communicates. Then I shift my delivery to work with the receiver. It’s much easier for me to shift my communication style than it is to expect someone to adapt to mind. Discovering how someone else’s mind works is like a puzzle to me that unlocks deeper rapport and better results. It is AMAZING what happens when someone feels seen, heard, and understood.
Clarity is critical as well. What lessons have you learned about how to communicate with clarity in our distributed world of work?
When you are working with people in a distributed environment, there are many things to consider, some cultural, some language, some perception, and again it goes back to attentive listening and stepping out of our own operating system.
As far as clarity goes, I would say the most important lesson I’ve learned is that I first have to be clear within myself of anything I want to be done. I cannot expect someone to understand my needs, wants, or desires if I am not even clear on my own mind. Clarity begins with me. The clearer I am in my own mind, the easier and simpler it becomes to convey to others.
We often discover what works by experiencing what doesn’t. Tell us about a time when your communication didn’t lead to the desired results and what you learned from the experience.
This one is a little aside and has a longer evolution arc. Since we first met, my wife would constantly get frustrated when I would interject when we were having a conversation (mostly jokes or puns), whether that was something internal, or if we were going live on social media or teaching a class together, (We have a very strong working and personal partnership.)
One time she literally called me out while we were live, which created a whole enlightening conversation afterwards, but still couldn’t figure out why this action was so compulsive. We chalked it up to that was just how I was.
It wasn’t until recently that we uncovered why. I was subconsciously trying to redirect attention back to myself so I could feel special and wanted as a survival mechanism from my childhood.
Since then, the compulsive action has evolved into a conscious awareness every time, and the habit is shifting quickly. (Again, that is the amazing power of the subconscious mind working in the background.)
So I have learned that no matter how deeply ingrained some communication pattern seems to be, if you can get down to the root of the habit, changing the pattern can be much easier.
What advice would you offer to other leaders who are struggling to have their messages heard and actioned?
My advice to other leaders is to check your ears and your expectations. Are you a frantic firehose of fear? Are you coming across with overwhelm, stress and anxiety because of some underlying fear? Have you found clarity in your own mind before putting something on someone else?
You cannot expect someone to magically reach into your mind and deliver on something if you can’t convey it clearly, concisely, and with compassion. There is a person on the receiving end, who generally, and most often genuinely, wants to help. They just need clarity and direction at first to build a relationship of trust so they want to help more.
See your team as people first. Communicate with them as people.
Leading a distributed team requires a different communication cadence and style from leading a team in person. What are five strategies any leader can deploy to improve communication and clarity when leading a distributed workforce?
YouTube Video: 5 Communication Strategies For Leaders https://youtu.be/8OGhLy7z7Ro
1 . Presence
- One of the most important strategies is showing up authentically and bringing as much of your mental presence to the exchange. When you are present, you are more mentally and emotionally clear from the pains of the past or the fear of those past pains repeating. The more present you are the easier it is to listen and communicate effectively with clarity and genuine confidence, which leads to better results.
2 . Active Listening
- Realize that any communication is an exchange, and that human beings are, by nature, concerned with their inner world; the receiver wants to feel heard. If they feel seen, heard, and understood as a human, this makes them more receptive to listening and reciprocating (doing a better job and being more invested as they feel more valued and appreciated as a human).
3 . Validation
- Validating the receiver and lifting them up mentally & emotionally goes a long way to achieving communication buy-in for a more efficient exchange of information (not to mention getting more done with less effort).
4 . Subconscious Confirmation
- This is an effective strategy for gaining rapport, using physical body mirroring (when visual communication takes place, like Zoom or in-person) and key-phrase responding (repeating key phrases back verbally or via text) allows the receiver to feel heard and understood, which deepens the communication, allowing more efficient results.
5 . Being The Observer
- Witnessing the communication without emotional attachment allows a leader to RESPOND effectively instead of REACT emotionally. If you find yourself emotionally triggered (it happens to the best of us), work on the button, so you can show up with less emotional reaction and more effective response next time. When you are reactive, you are operating from some subconscious fear that cuts off your higher brain functions that allow clarity, compassion, and effective communication. As we feel safe and confident, we have more connection to our higher brain functions and can more effectively get our points across and achieve better results.
What are the three most effective strategies to diminish distractions when there is so much competing for attention?
YouTube Video: 3 Effective Strategies To Cut Through Distractions https://youtu.be/PTJS8gke2pw
- First: Attention is a habit, and we can train it.
(You’ve already trained yourself to be distracted, even if you didn’t realize it.)
Understand the subconscious motivation for distraction and make the most of your attention.
What I find is that the mind, when we get into “distraction mode,” is typically trying to protect us from something. The key to getting into “focus mode” is to get your conscious and subconscious minds to work as a team instead of battling each other. When your subconscious mind understands that “doing the things” makes you safer and creates more resources, it will be an extremely valuable asset instead of a roadblock at every turn trying to “protect you” from doing the things.
- Second: Train the habit.
Whenever you notice the habit, procrastination for example, take a few minutes and dive into it.
It only takes a few minutes at a time. Best time is right in the morning for 5 minutes. The second most important time is whenever you catch yourself consciously in the old habit. Take 5 minutes to retrain. The most important thing is consistency because you’re building a communication and relationship with your subconscious mind, which ultimately is trying to help the best way it can (similar to a distributed workforce).
- Third: Reclaim your mental and emotional resources.
We spend quite a bit of our mental and emotional resources compartmentalizing old stuff that we did not have the tools or safety to process. (Which goes into your overstuffed emotional closet.)
That leads to things like overwhelm, stress, and burnout.
As you process and release the things you have been keeping in your emotional closet, you reclaim those resources and attention to do more with the present tasks, instead of protecting yourself subconsciously from threats that are long passed.
- Bonus Tip: Journaling for even a few minutes can help tremendously.
The mind is incredibly powerful and just the act of creating a mental construct in our own mind can give us relief, safety, support, acceptance or love that we have been looking for outside of us. We can cut out the middleman and give ourselves what we thought was missing.
Some journal prompts to use:
- What am I afraid of if I do the things I’m avoiding?
- What am I actually reacting to? What is the root?
- What emotion am I ready release right now for five minutes?
- How can I rewrite the story in my own mind to give myself whatever was missing?
- For example, become a better internal mother or father to yourself to help that inner child feel safe.
- What can I do for myself to feel safe, loved, and accepted moving forward?
What is one skill you would advise every leader to invest in to become a better communicator?
The single most valuable skill every leader could benefit from for better communication is active listening. That includes asking open-ended questions, listening without agenda, and engaging the receiver where they are now and discovering what they need to level up to where you need them to be to deliver better results.
Having clarity on what you want to be achieved is also key. Providing the resources to accomplish anything you need done is bigger than a checklist of tasks. You will get more accomplished by treating your people like humans first, humans with a desire to feel good for doing well, feeling capable of doing the job well, and empowered with proper training or education to accomplish the job.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
The single most powerful movement that creates ripples of change into the world is taking personal responsibility for our own emotions. When we take responsibility for our own emotional state and optimize our emotional responses, that internal change ripples forward as a natural byproduct to anyone and everyone we meet, whether it is a few moments in passing to life-long connections.
Leading by responsible example of personal development and self-growth is the next evolution of inner peace.
And I firmly believe that can be achieved through emotional optimization. We do not have to continue being impulsively driven like wild animals by our subconscious wounds.
We have the power to create a better world, starting inside our own minds, which means taking the reins and guiding our own journeys.
We have all experienced challenges in life. The question is whether we shall continue being ruled by those wounds, or choose to evolve and adapt beyond impulsive reaction to external stimuli.
How can our readers stay connected with you?
I love connecting and helping people. It is in my DNA or something. My website would be the best way to stay connected. That has links to my newsletter, all the socials, as well as my books and membership programs. I am most active with my membership communities and on Facebook and YouTube.
I will put those links below for those who want to stay connected.
For anyone interested in Emotional Optimization™, as of this interview, I have my Emotional Optimization Academy™ and a new book coming out on Amazon that goes deeper into what Emotional Optimization™ is and how it can help you not only become a better leader, but live your best life in the process. Imagine reclaiming the resources you have been wasting in the background with your unresolved emotional closet… What more could you accomplish with less overwhelm, stress, and burnout? How much greater could your impact be with more clarity, purpose, and passion?
Speaking of, I have a book I created especially for leaders and entrepreneurs titled, Overwhelm, Stress & Anxiety. The Pressure Cooker of Entrepreneurship that includes my 5 Minute Emotional Release™ process.
You can find that on Amazon: https://DavidACaren.com/PressureCookerBook
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.
You are all doing some amazing things here. It has been a pleasure and an honor to be a part of this. I really appreciate how you bring the voice of leaders to the world and appreciate you having me.