Interview with Personal Development Blogger and Author Vishal Pandey
Vishal PandeyVishal Pandey was born in Lucknow, India. After completing post graduation in management, he joined the corporate world, only to realise that it was not the path for him. His decade-old passion for self development lead him to the world of writing and creation of his blog - www.selfactualization.co.

His blog was originally created to share information with the world, but later evolved into a platform for mutual interaction with his readers. After receiving inspiration from his role models, he wrote Success Code, followed by Positive Thinking and his most recent book, Social Success, which we will be chatting about today.

So without further ado, it's my pleasure to introduce today's guest, Vishal Pandey.

Hi Vishal, thanks so much for stopping by the Activia Training website. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi, my name is Vishal Pandey. I am the author of multiple books on success and self improvement. I stumbled upon self improvement books when I was in high school and was hooked for life.

Transition from reading to writing happened when my blog members kept emailing me to write a book. With their encouragement, I started my journey as an author.

When did you become interested in the topic of personal development?

When I was in high school, I attended an amazing seminar on "Focus and how it gives you energy". I never experienced anything like it before in my life. To say that I was quite impressed would be an understatement. At the end, the speaker recommended a book called 'Think and Grow Rich'.

I brought the book, read it, and was blown away by the potential of the knowledge inside it. I immediately started using its principles in several areas - studies, relationships, and even finding jobs.

But what I got out of it more than anything else was hope. I came to an understanding that things are possible if you focus on them and are disciplined. You can get what you want out of life. Opportunities are there, you just have to take them.

I started searching for similar books, and found that there is a whole genre of books like it. Good times.

Your latest eBook, Social Success: Be Likeable, Create Instant Rapport and Influence People, was published earlier this year. Could you tell us a little more about it?

Social Success: Be Likeable, Create Instant Rapport and Influence PeopleI believe our social interactions are a major source of happiness and satisfaction in life. We can have all the success in the world but if we don't have close people to share it with, there will be a lack. Things will not be the same.

When I look back, some of the most valuable memories of my life are the moments I shared with my loved ones.

I was a very shy kid in my childhood. Fortunately, I had a loving family and a few close friends, so everything was fine.

Things changed rapidly when I had to move to a new city by myself for higher studies. Suddenly, the loving circle of family and friends was replaced with strange faces that were too busy to give any attention to me. It felt like being thrown in a cold pool in the middle of winter.

It was then that my lack of social skills became apparent. To cope with the new challenge, I started reading books on improving one's social skills. I implemented what I learned and slowly built myself a social circle filled with people I liked spending time with.

But I didn't stop there. I kept learning and improving my social skills for next several years. My book Social Success is a collection of the most impactful social insights that I came across in all these years. In my experience, your body language and behavior have the most profound impact on your likability and charisma.

If you can get both of these relatively under control, you will be amazed at the results.

Social Success contains both body language tips and certain behaviors that will skyrocket your social skills, along with the mindsets and logic behind them.

Could you tell us a little about the research that went into this book?

As I mentioned earlier, I needed to improve my social skills desperately. I started by reading every book I could get my hands on and immediately started implementing its principles. Whenever something worked, I would take a mental note of it and start using it even more.

When something worked repeatedly, I would write it down in my diary at night. Social Success contains list of social practices which worked well, repeatedly.

Are you working on any new books at the moment, or what’s next for you?

Currently, I am writing a book on maintaining and improving relationships in our day to day life. It will come out later this year.

How do YOU define social success?

Initially, I considered social success to be the ability to meet and connect with people. I used to measure it by the number of social contacts you make.

Over time, my definition of social success changed. I now believe that social success is the feeling inside you that you can handle yourself in diverse social situations. It's a quiet, inner confidence that you can resolve conflicts, create quick connections, have more fun, negotiate, persuade and influence other people.

This is my personal definition of being socially successful.

In your book you talk a lot about first impressions - what is one simple way to create a good first impression?

Let me start by saying that your first impression is influenced by every facet of your personality (your dress, your smile, your energy level, eye contact, posture, mood, behavior, the way you shake hands and many, many more..)

But, if I had to pick ONE aspect that creates the BIGGEST impact on how you are perceived by others, it would be a positive attitude. In several years of socializing with people, I have found nothing more powerful, more impactful, than displaying a positive attitude.

If you can genuinely see the other person in a positive light and be friendly towards them, you'll not believe the responses you will receive from people.

Try this simple exercise. Next time you meet someone, as soon as you see their face, quickly imagine a halo above their head. It sounds funny but works amazingly well in practice. You will instantly put that person in a positive light. You will feel more relaxed. Your eyes and smile would radiate genuine warmth.

The other person will immediately 'feel' it and will reciprocate the same warmth. This works particularly well with strangers.

This is my go-to practice in situations where I must create a positive impression. Furthermore, it really hammers down the importance of cultivating a positive attitude and being friendly to others.

How important is body language when communicating with others?

This is a huge topic. There's an old saying that says "it's not what you say, it's how you say it". Whenever you are talking to people, your actual words are only 7% of the message other person is receiving from you. Your body language and tone of voice make up the remaining 93%.

For example, let's say you meet your friend. You say, "Hi John, how are you today?" but you avoid making eye contact, don't smile and don't shake hands. I am sure John would think why you even bothered to say hi.

Such is the profound impact of body language on our social life. We tend to put a lot more importance on the body language of a person than his words because of one simple reason - body language is very hard to fake.

And we don't even think about it. We can immediately 'feel' it when someone says one thing but their persona is telling a different story.

If someone's smile is not genuine, you will feel it. Some people say you can imitate a genuine smile by squinting the outer corners of your eyes and slightly raising the outer tips of your lips upward when you smile. It will create a smile that is almost indistinguishable from a real smile.

I have a different opinion on it. I believe that even if I produce a seemingly genuine smile as described above (IF I remembered all the steps!), you will feel it. You will get that I am smiling out of courtesy. That's not actually a genuine smile.

How?

Because of a lack of warmth. If I am not truly feeling good inside, but displaying an expression of happiness, you will sense a lack of warmth behind it and will only smile back due to courtesy.

You cannot hide your inner world. Your face and body will ultimately reveal what you are feeling inside, no matter what you do. I believe it's best to develop a positive attitude and beliefs first. Charismatic behavior and body language will automatically flow from there.

I felt I needed to address the whole inner world issue separately as it's not only crucial for your social life but for enjoyment of life in general. If you are interested in the topic, check out my book Positive Thinking: What It Really Takes to Free Yourself from Negativity.

Do you think people have natural social skills, or is it something you can learn?

I believe some people are innately more social and outgoing than others, but anybody can improve their social skills, if they focus on it.

During my childhood, I was an extremely shy kid with zero social skills. As I grew, my life situation forced me to learn social skills.

I improved quite a bit, but did not stop. I was so fascinated by it because all my life, it was something I never had and when I found that I can improve it, I became obsessed with it.

They say that the enemy of the 'BEST' is 'GOOD'. I was so bad at social interactions that when I found I could improve, I wasn't content with being just good. I wanted more...

And I sincerely believe, if I can do it, anybody can do it. The only requirement is that they must be willing to.

Vishal's book, Social Success: Be Likeable, Create Instant Rapport and Influence People is available to order now on Amazon. Or if you'd like to connect with him on Twitter, you can find him at @selfactualized9.