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  • Personal Branding Interview: Janine Driver

    Today, I spoke to Janine Driver, aka the “Lyin’ Tamer,” body language contributor to NBC’s Today show and CEO of the Body Language Institute. Here new book is called You Say More Than You Think: The 7-Day Plan on Using the New Body Language to get What You Want! (Crown). In this interview, Janine talks about the importance of body language, how she branded herself as an expert in her field, mistakes people make with their body language, how she gets mass media attention and some key points from her new book.

    What’s more important, body language or words and why?

    They’re both equally important. There is a common misquoted study by Albert Mehrabian that says 93% of what we communicate with others is nonverbal (words = 7%, tone of voice 38%, gestures 55%). This study was done under a very specific set of circumstances and was based on emotions and feelings only. At the Body Language Institute and in all of my keynote presentations from AOL to Coca-Cola to Accenture, I say let’s call it even–50% words and 50% body language. Just imagine if Albert Mehrabian’s study did apply to every situation — if your mother said something like “I wish you were never born”, would you say come on mom, I know only 7% of you believes that. No, of course not — those words are hurtful, mean, and would have life-changing impact. Words definitely matter, but body language can reveal more behind the words that are spoken.

    How and why did you brand yourself as the “body language expert”?

    The story of how I became the “Lyin’ Tamer” and subsequently a body language expert really all began when I was a little girl. One morning while in the checkout line of our local grocery store in Boston, I begged my mother for a pack of Bubble Yum. “Not today, sweetie–we need to buy other things”, my mother said. In the complex workings of a four-year-old mind, such information is interpreted as: “we are poor.” Fortunately for the Driver family, I had a clever plan…

    As my mother put away the groceries, I walked up the neighbor’s porch and rang the doorbell. Greeted by Mr. Perez, I described the deep financial abyss into which my family had recently fallen. Minutes later, I entered our kitchen and proudly handed my mother a crisp one dollar bill. We were rich! Or so I thought. To my confusion, not only was she mortified, but she also made me return the money. What did it all mean? How else was I to interpret her obvious plea for help in the grocery store? Immediately, I vowed to never be misled again.

    People call me the Lyin’ Tamer because that’s who I am! Since I was barely out of diapers, I’ve been researching and developing strategies to weed through the lies we are faced with every day and find the truth. Years later, I became a Federal Law Enforcement Officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). While with ATF (and since retiring in 2007) I instructed courses on trends, issues, and effective techniques in detecting deception, rapport building, body language, relationships, and cognitive interviewing. This position within ATF sparked the interest in body language that I have today, which is why I retired at the age of 37 and began my own company, the Body Language Institute, where we instruct individuals on how to use body language to get what they want (sales, personal, professional lives)

    What three mistakes do most people make before they even open their mouth at a networking event?

    Networking events are all about making new connections, and making new connections involves speaking to someone for the first time. Along with bringing a friendly personality, it’s also so important to appear approachable. In terms of body language, we all have three power zones — the neck dimple (throat), belly button, and what I call the “naughty bits” (groin area). When you leave these areas unobstructed, you appear confident and open to new opportunities. Just imagine someone standing with hands confidently placed down by one’s side or one hand holding a drink versus someone standing with arms folded across the chest or in the “fig leaf” (hands clasped in front of the naughty bits). Who is more approachable?

    Another mistake people make is donning the permasmile. What you should do instead is save the smile for when you meet someone. Don’t frown or appear unhappy to be wherever you are, but keep a softer friendly expression on your face until you shake hands with the person and introductions occur. Smile when the person says his or her name. Make sure your belly button is facing the person you are meeting — your target. Think of bowling or golf; where does Tiger Woods point his belly button after a swing — other than hottest girl on field? The target!

    What is your experience with TV media and what can you teach everyone else about how to use body language more effectively on air?


    My experience is that TV media is the best form of advertising for you, your brand, and your product. Before I talk about what to do once you’ve landed your on-air time, I have to stress how hard I’ve worked to get where I am. Many nights I’m up until 3am or I go to sleep at midnight to wake up at 4am to work on pitch ideas for shows. I am constantly thinking of partnerships that would work for me in television — what shows and what target market would my knowledge benefit most? What TV personalities will I click with? What can I do to be memorable and be invited back? I work my butt off to get my media. In the past, I’ve also written my own press releases (freepressrelease.com, clickpress.com, etc. — free!).

    As far as body language goes, I practice what I preach. I make sure I always have my three power zones open — I absolutely never have my hands in my lap. I take up space, touch the interviewer, use the interviewer’s name, etc. The key ingredient to a successful interview is the 30 seconds before the cameras role. Are you able to establish rapport with the person interviewing in just 30 seconds? If you can, I promise it will make the interview much more comfortable and natural, for both you and the interviewer.

    What are some key highlights from your 7-day body language plan?

    My book has the tools you need to change your life. Sprinkled throughout the chapters are REAL testimonials of REAL people who used my 7-day plan while being part of my Body Language Power Team. The transformations they made are remarkable and replicable if you follow the plan outlined in my book.

    In the very first chapter, I talk about the three A’s we practice —

    • Accuracy (break the old myths of body language, build confidence in your ability to read other people)
    • Application (at the end of each chapter, there are many practical exercises that you can use in your life immediately)
    • Attitude (radiate confidence everywhere you go)

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    Janine Driver, aka the “Lyin’ Tamer,” body language contributor to NBC’s Today show and CEO of the Body Language Institute, will equip you and your team with the skills that will allow you to gain an edge in the game of life. Janine has made appearances on The Rachael Ray Show, and CNN’s Larry King Live. She has been quoted in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and in magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Psychology Today. Janine’s book, You Say More Than You Think: The 7-Day Plan on Using the New Body Language to get What You Want! (CROWN) hits shelves, around the world, on February 16, 2010. Janine also is a popular keynote speaker and presenter(www.lyintamer.com), and is a certified instructor at the Institute of Analytic Interviewing. After teaching over 70,000 cops how to sell the most stubborn suspects the most brutal product—life imprisonment—Janine shares her secrets with fortune 500 companies such as AOL, Wyndham Vacation Home Ownership, Coca-Cola, the Hard Rock, and Lockheed Martin.

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

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