Lily Ann Fouts

LojAventura – Outdoor Adventure in Loja and Beyond

“We’ve been told there’s a waterfall up the Zamora Huayco river, but nobody ever goes up there. Do you want to go scout it out with us tomorrow morning?”

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Loja Packing List

What to Pack for a Trip to Loja, Ecuador

Are you planning an exploratory trip to Loja and wondering what to pack?

I’m a nerd when it comes to packing. I’ve honed my skills over the years from my own multiple trips across the globe, beginning early in life as a child fugitive.  I also have many good friends who are avid travelers, and we geek out on this topic.

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Buses in Loja, Ecuador

During our latest trip to Loja, I visited the transportation office and the tourism office, begging for a complete map of the Loja city bus system.

Although the buses run along established routes at regular intervals, no complete map seems to exist outside of an Android app called SITU Loja, but since I have an iPhone I wasn’t able to test it.

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Plaza San Sebastian

33 Things to Do in Loja, Ecuador

I’ve written a lot about Loja as a potential place to live. It’s the main focus of my book on Loja, and will continue to be a major focus in the second edition of the book. But what about the city and province of Loja as a destination for travelers? I’ve explored this theme in more depth in the second version of my book! (CLICK HERE to learn more if interested!)  In this post, I'll share 33 things to do in Loja--both the city and the province (and one thing outside the province, but close to Loja).

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Ecuadorian Residency Header

A Woman Pursues Ecuadorian Residency in Loja

When I found out we would be returning to Loja (unexpectedly, see 2016 Holiday Letter), I downloaded The Visa Chase and Other Fun Stories of Ecuador, by Diana Cevallos to my Kindle.  Diana is an expat from the United States who has been living in Ecuador since 2011 and in Loja since 2012.  She spent the first few years trying to obtain Ecuadorian residency visas for herself and her son.  I had interviewed Diana for my book, Live Like a Local in Loja. She has a wealth of knowledge about the city of Loja and culture of Ecuador. […]

outskirts of baños ecuador

A Unique Adventure in Baños, Ecuador

The bright yellow house down in the green jungle valley below beckoned us. We were in Baños, one of the most popular tourist towns in Ecuador, walking up a dirt road off the tourist radar, beyond all the hostels, tour companies, and restaurants and into the surrounding farmlands.  We had recently left our beloved Loja (where we had been living), spent a week in Cuenca, and now we were making our way north to Quito for the return to the U.S.  We paused in Baños for a few days and felt overwhelmed by all the tourist traps.  We hiked out beyond the town, hoping to catch a glimpse of the local life. […]

Racial Issues in Loja

I’ve recently heard from a couple different African American readers of my book, one of whom asked me about racial issues in Ecuador. I’d like to share our correspondence so that others who have similar questions will have an answer. I hope it helps someone!

I’ve recently heard from a couple different African American readers of my book, one of whom asked me about racial issues in Ecuador. I’d like to share our correspondence so that others who have similar questions will have an answer. I hope it helps someone!

The response…

I honestly wasn’t too sure, so I wrote to a few of my contacts in Ecuador and asked about their observations. Two of the replies are from expats, and one is from a local. I received a mixed bag of answers, and here they are:

First reply (from an expat):

“I don’t think the discrimination here is half as bad as it is in the US. One of my local friends posts cute pictures of black children all the time on Facebook. In Loja there are a fair number of blacks and I have never seen anyone notice. Our friends have a black friend who is a professional of some sort. He is married to a Lojana. He is from the US East coast. So I say no problem. Ecuadorians are in general people of color. Either Spanish, native or mixed.”

Second reply (from a local):

“There are racists in Ecuador and most of the people of color live on the coast where it’s very hot, as you know… But there is a couple in love and I think in Loja it’s not too bad! But in the whole country I assume it’s kind of the same (the thing is that on the coast it can be a little dangerous). I really think that Loja will be a good place. I used to have some college classmates that were from the coast and they seem like it was not bad. I mean there will be racist people everywhere and I know it’s pretty sad… usually big cities are better because there is more diversity…I hope that can help a little.”

Third reply (from an expat):

“The black Ecuadorians are centered around Esmeraldas (northern coast) due to a slave ship crashing there around the year 1553. David Sazaki has also written of black Ecuadorian communities in the mountains in the north of the country (small city somewhere up that way). Unfortunately, Ecuadorians in general are very racist. They worship white skin and light coloring (hair, eyes, etc.) and you’ll notice most of the advertising displays scantily clad European women who look very different from most Ecuadorian women (partly because they are so tall and thin—even the white Ecuadorian women have a different body type than the models used to sell things).

There are some black retirees who are doing fine in Cuenca, but like almost all the expats in Cuenca, they don’t spend their time with Ecuadorians. I do see black people in Loja every now and then, I think most come from the coast to live in Loja to work here. There is also a retired black North American couple living in Loja right now as missionaries. I had lunch with the wife and asked her what it was like being black here. She said it is the same as in the US, everyone assumes you are dishonest and are going to steal things, etc. When you walk into a store the staff follow you around suspiciously. She said it was this way her whole life in the States, so it isn’t any different here. But she also said that as soon as she opens her mouth they figure out she is not from the coast of Ecuador and some relax more after that because they assume if she is a gringa, she has money to spend.

I so wish that we could all move around the planet without having to worry about how people will label each other based on looks.

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Gringos don’t make friends with Ecuadorians anyway (some of the younger ones do but it rarely happens with the older retirees), and I imagine for a black person it would be even harder. In Vilcabamba it would be fine with the expats there; I suspect skin color would not matter to most of them. I recommend joining the giant Ecuador Expats Facebook page, and ask there about Ecuadorian communities in the mountains that have black people. David Sasaki could tell you where there are some, so he will likely answer if he sees your post.

Also, I want to add that not ALL Ecuadorians are racist, of course!! I know an Ecuadorian who went to grad school in Colombia and had a black housemate who came to be a close friend. After that he (the Ecuadorian) had a romantic relationship with a black woman. And other Ecuadorians have had life experiences that have taught them how stupid racism really is, so there are some who do not close their hearts based on skin color.”

Closing Thoughts…

Based on my own experience in Loja I think that regardless of the color of your skin, if you work to learn the language and the culture you will make some friends among the locals, though it sounds like it might take more effort.  My husband and I are very obviously Caucasian, so I can only speak from that personal experience.  I am curious to hear experiences from people of other races as they move or travel to Ecuador.  I know of another couple who read my book and are Asian, so I am curious to hear about their experience when they return from their upcoming trip, too.  If you have any thoughts to add, I (and likely many others) would love it if you could share in the comments below!

I so wish that we could all move around the planet without having to worry about how people will label each other based on looks. I recently saw a video about that which made me almost cry:

Cuenca in Photos (…and how it compares to Loja)

What makes Cuenca such a magnet for expats?

Although most of my Ecuador posts and my book are about Loja, where we lived in 2014, Cuenca is by far the more popular choice among expats. I think there are several good reasons for this. We spent nearly a week in Cuenca (though I was out of it with a nasty cold for a couple of those days) and really liked it.

In this post I’ll share some of the photos we took in Cuenca, and provide some commentary on my reactions to Cuenca and how I feel it compares to Loja.

We traveled to Cuenca via bus from Loja, which cost us $7.50 each. The mountain scenery between the two cities is well worth the winding ride of 200 kilometers. The bus station in Cuenca is almost across the street from the airport, and both are not far from the center of town. Loja’s airport, in contrast, is 45 minutes away from the city.

The first thing I noticed about Cuenca is its size—considerably larger than Loja. The sprawling city lives in a valley much wider than Loja’s valley, so the mountains are a lot farther away and it just feels a lot more urban. Loja is not that small—it has a population of around 200,000—but it does have a small town feel.

The first thing I noticed about Cuenca is its size—considerably larger than Loja.

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One of the first things we did when we arrived in Cuenca was to go find a vegetarian restaurant. While most of the traditional restaurants were happy to fix us up with vegetarian alternatives to their usual menu, one thing we missed in Loja was a good variety of eateries. There are some good places to eat, but not nearly as many as Cuenca!

What we found: A vegetarian restaurant (and health food shop) called Néctar.

Néctar, with a health food store on the first floor and a restaurant on the second floor.

The colorful atmosphere at Néctar.

The colorful atmosphere at Néctar.

For a reasonable $3.50 each we ate a vegetarian meal which included a soup, salad, main dish, drink and dessert. We saw a mix of locals and foreigners inside the restaurant.  (Incidentally, the equivalent restaurant/health food store in Loja is Alivinatu.)

The next day we took a bus tour on a double-decker bus. Everyone else on the bus was a Spanish speaker. They asked us if we spoke Spanish—apparently ready to give the tour in English, too, if needed—but when we assured them we were bilingual the tour proceeded all in Spanish. We received a good overview of the city and learned a little about its history, architecture, and various neighborhoods. It also gave us a good idea of what we could go back and explore in more depth later.

Touring Cuenca's streets on a double-decker bus.

A door on one of Cuenca's many beautiful buildings.

Buildings of Cuenca.

Buildings of Cuenca.

Looking over the city from one of Cuenca's hillsides.

Looking into downtown Cuenca from the hills.

Mall del Rio--Cuenca's shopping mall.

Flower market in front of an old church.


Loja has a double-decker bus also, though we never took the tour while we were there—something I regret and plan to do next time we go down. Overall, the tourism industry in Cuenca is far more developed than in Loja…and there are more attractions, cultural events, and architectural wonders to see in Cuenca.  Cuenca is, after all, a UNESCO World Heritage City.

Overall, the tourism industry in Cuenca is far more developed than in Loja

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Cuenca’s museums are also more likely to have English signs since they have a large English-speaking population and far more tourists. We visited several museums in Cuenca, including the Museum of Religious Art housed in the Old Cathedral.

The Old Cathedral of Cuenca.

Inside the Cathedral/Museum of Religious Art.

Another display at the Museum of Religious Art.

One evening we joined a couple hundred other people—mostly locals—in an auditorium to watch traditional Ecuadorian music and dance from various indigenous tribes. (Cost: $2.50 each, and well worth it.)

Traditional Ecuadorian Dances.

Traditional Ecuadorian Dances.

Traditional Ecuadorian Dances.

Toward the end, several audience members (including me) were brought on stage to dance.

Loja has a reputation for being the cultural capital of Ecuador, but because of its size there is always more going on in Cuenca. We saw announcements and advertisements for cultural events multiple times per week in Cuenca. For people who like to be out enjoying the art and culture scene on a very frequent basis, Cuenca has a lot to offer!

Another great museum in Cuenca is at the Banco Central del Ecuador, which in addition to nice displays inside, also sits next to the ancient ruins of Tomebamba. Near the ruins they have also made some beautiful gardens, and the complex also has an aviary with exotic birds and a few alpacas. Oh, and it’s all free!

Banco Central del Ecuador.

Ruins of Tomebamba.

Tunnel at the ruins.

Beautiful vegetable garden at the ruins.

Looking back at the ruins from the vegetable garden.

Trails and gardens at the ruins.

More trails and gardens.

Grazing alpacas.

Cuenca is simply a great city, with great architecture, colorful murals, beautiful parks, and a thriving cultural scene.

An artist touches up a mural in Cuenca.

Speaking of parks…parks are one of the first things I seek out in any city I’m traveling in. I enjoy green spaces, free activities, exercise and watching the locals play with their families and friends. Cuenca has great parks and urban trails, too. Keith and I followed a path along a river for a couple of hours, down one side and up the other. We ended up in a beautiful park with nice playgrounds, soccer fields, and walking trails through the woods.

Raised path in a park in Cuenca.

Path along the river in the city park.

Soccer teams playing in the park.

As I wrote in my book, for most expats, Cuenca actually makes more sense than Loja as a place to live. It’s easier to get to, there’s more to do, there are more medical facilities, and English is more widely spoken. I would even consider living in or near Cuenca myself, because there really is a lot to like about it.

What to do I not like about Cuenca? The one thing that bothered me was the friction I felt with the locals. Most people might not notice it, but after living in Loja and experiencing such warmth from my local neighbors and friends, in Cuenca I felt slightly resented.

I think it is probably due to the thousands of expats who have moved to Cuenca, and the negative experiences the locals have had with some of them. I know there are many expats who will not learn Spanish, which is the number one source of frustration for the locals.

Coffee Tree - a popular gringo hangout. Almost every customer we saw while we were there was a foreigner.

With my obvious gringa appearance, I have to work harder to develop relationships with the Cuencanos and show that I am not there to take advantage of them or treat them as inferior, as some other gringos may have done whether intending to or not. In Cuenca there were also times when I felt I was being charged higher prices simply because I was a foreigner. Happily, this rift between foreigners and locals is still mostly absent in Loja.

If I were to live in Cuenca, I would select a neighborhood well away from the large concentration of expats and work hard to forge friendships with my Cuencano neighbors. I believe it is still possible to live like a local in Cuenca if one is careful, but for the most part both the locals and the expats are likely to expect you to develop friendships in the expat community, and mingling with the locals will take more of an effort.

Mostly it comes down to a matter of personal preference. I like smaller cities. I like beautiful places that have not yet been spoiled by tourism and large expat communities. I like easy access to mountain hiking trails. I like to get to know the locals. And I like a good symphony or cultural performance a few times a month. Even though Loja does not have any huge tourist attractions and it’s not as exciting a city as Cuenca, it satisfies all of those needs for me. Besides, Cuenca is just a few hours up the road—making it a great weekend getaway.

So what kinds of things do you look for in a place to live? Share in the comments below!

If you’d like to be notified by e-mail when I have updates or new blog posts about Ecuador or Latin America, enter your email below!

South Pole Freethinkers

This last weekend Keith and I went to a Labor Day party and ended up doing an impromptu interview on a live podcast show called Dogma Debate.

Our friend, Darrel Ray, thinks it is utterly cool that we have worked at the South Pole and that we took his books (The God VirusSex and God) down there and donated them to the South Pole Library.

Darrel immediately led us over to David Smalley (the host of the show) when he saw us walk up.

“You gotta interview these two,” he said, an arm around each of us. “Keith started a freethought group at the South Pole and took my books down there, so now I have my books on all seven continents! These two are like my favorite people,” he said.

With that endorsement David asked us a few more questions and agreed to add us to the show.

The commotion all centers around Keith’s decision to start the South Pole Freethinkers group back in 2010, after noticing that this place dedicated to science had three religious events per week, but nothing specifically for non-believers.

Keith started a freethought group at the South Pole and took my books down there, so now I have my books on all seven continents! These two are like my favorite people,” he said.

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What bothered Keith most was that taxpayer funds sponsored regular visits from a chaplain for church services and ministry, in a place where it is estimated that the cost of transporting and maintaining a person costs upwards of $800 per day–and probably considerably more when that person flies frequently.

Keith contacted me—I was still in the U.S. at the time—and asked me to send down some secular videos—the lectures from the 2009 Atheist Alliance International convention—and other materials. He also contacted the president of American Atheists (David Silverman), who sent down a bunch of AA magazines.

When the materials arrived, Keith began a weekly gathering and added it to the station’s calendar of events. He put up posters advertising the meetup next to posters advertising the other events around the station.

South Pole Freethinkers Group

A poster Keith made to advertise the new South Pole Freethinkers group.

The new meetup was not well-received. Keith’s posters were torn down or graffitied every week.

Torn Freethinkers Poster

Torn Freethinkers Poster

As long as you could tell it was a Freethinkers poster, Keith left it up. The controversy began to arouse curiosity among station residents. Attendance started out with 5 people, then 7, then 17, then 30…

In the end attendance plateaued at 5-10 regular attenders per week–more than any of the religious gatherings.

After he returned to the States, Keith gave a presentation about the South Pole and his Freethinkers group to the Denver Atheists in Colorado, and asked for donations of secular materials that we could take down the following year. Several generous people brought us boxes of books, magazines and videos at the next meeting.

Denver Atheists Donations

Donations from the Denver Atheists.

I applied to work the next season as well—it would be soon after our wedding—and I was hired as an alternate, but no positions opened up for me. Keith told them he would not be going unless a position opened up for me also, but when none did they begged him to at least come for the first few weeks of the season so that he could train the new electricians, none of whom had worked at the Pole before.

We agreed and Keith flew south for six weeks. He continued holding the weekly meetups, and again his posters were frequently torn down or graffitied. A friend of Keith’s and regular attender took over the group after Keith left, and kept it going for the remainder of the season.

During the 2012-2013 season I had the privilege of obtaining a position at the South Pole, too. We took more secular materials with us and continued to offer the regular South Pole Freethinkers meetup, now in its third year.

B-3 Lounge

The lounge where we held our weekly South Pole Freethinkers meetups.

By this time, people seemed to accept the fact that a group of non-believers had come to stay, and the posters were left intact almost all season.

One day we were in the library and Keith noticed that almost all of the books he had donated were missing. We knew people might be borrowing them, but suspected foul play.

South Pole Library

The South Pole reading room.

Our usual weekly meetings continued. The format was generally a video (mostly lectures or documentaries) followed by group discussion.

A couple of weeks after Keith noticed the missing books he was again in the reading room and noticed the edge of a book peeking down from the back of the top of one of the shelves. He brought a chair over and discovered a whole stack of secular books had been hidden up out of reach and out of sight. He took them down and re-shelved them.

Kell, our most loyal and faithful attendee–who also became a good friend–was going to be spending the winter at the Pole and she vowed to keep the meetup going all year long.

We did not return the following summer, but Keith’s other friend–who had taken over in Year 2–kept it going after Kell left.

Several people—even some who didn’t attend our meetups—took time to thank Keith for making this option available to people who do not identify with any religion.

We look forward to returning to The Ice again someday and being involved again!

Several people—even some who didn’t attend our meetups—took time to thank Keith for making this option available to people who do not identify with any religion.

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The South Pole Freethinkers brave enough to stand in the cold and squint into the sun.

By the way, if you’d like to listen to the interview we did on Dogma Debate, we were at the very end of episode 201. CLICK HERE to listen to it on YouTube, starting at 1:26:26. Enjoy!

Want to read more about our time in Antarctica? CLICK HERE to see more of my Antarctica posts! And feel free to share your questions and comments below! (I do realize that religion can be a “hot topic” for some, but please keep it nice and friendly, ok? Thanks!)

Notes from World Domination Summit 2015: Part 4

Have you read my earlier WDS posts?

Click here to read Part 1 from July 9 and 10.
Click here to read Part 2 from July 11.
Click here to read Part 3 from July 12.

This is the fourth and final in my series of WDS notes. If you missed WDS, I hope you found this enjoyable! And if you were there, hopefully my notes brought back some good memories and added some new perspective.

We’d wrapped up the main stage presentations and closing party the night before, but on Monday, July 13, they offered another day of WDS Academies, so I signed up for the full experience!

How to Take Action After WDS: Pam Slim and Rob Young

Rob Young and Pam Slim

Rob Young and Pam Slim

I’ve definitely had the experience of going to a conference, coming up with some great ideas, and then being so overwhelmed that I didn’t really know where to start with all of the information I’d been exposed to. So when I saw this workshop, I signed up right away.

Pam and Rob pointed out that ideas don’t change the world; action does. Success = idea X action. Do rather than dream.

So, what stops us from taking action? They identified four blockers:

  1. Idea overwhelm. Either too many ideas, “blah” ideas, or no ideas at all. Don’t wait for the perfect idea. You discover better ideas as you act.
  2. FearWhere is the fear? We all have fear connected with our idea somewhere. The antidote is definition. Why are you afraid? Fear is a protective force. Take steps to address the reasons for the fear. Examine doubts. Ask specific questions. Dig in as to why you’re scared and make a plan to mitigate it. Dancing with the fear is what we’re doing when we ship.
  3. Time. Get more results, not more time. Question everything you think you need to do. Remember, 20% of your effort yields 80% of your results. What outcome do you expect from each action? Can you do it in a less time-consuming way? Do you have to do this? Is there another way? Look at each activity through the Ease/Impact Quadrant:

Ease/Impact Quadrant

Pam and Rob pointed out that ideas don’t change the world; action does. Success = idea X action. Do rather than dream.

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  1. Inertia. Where do you even start? You need to plan…but don’t over plan. “Just enough” plan. Plans unblock inertia.

There are three levels:
CEO – The vision. That big thing you will do.
Manager – The “just enough” plan to get moving on your project.
Doer – The worker. If you know the task but not the steps to take, ask someone who has done it before!

You’ll need to wear all three hats, but not all at once! Which of these things comes most naturally to you? Where do you need the most work?

To help you decide which idea to work on, do these things:

  1. List out all your ideas—don’t evaluate, just list.
  2. Think about the different criteria to consider: What’s the strongest fit with your values? What’s the quickest path to money? What’s the most meaningful? What will make the biggest impact? Which is the easiest to execute? What’s most fun? Which is the most strategic? What’s most profitable? Select the top 3-5 criteria you feel are most important to consider.
  3. Create a matrix with your most important criteria down the side and your top ideas across the top. Give each idea a rating of 1 to 3 (least to most) for each criterion, then add the columns at the bottom. Which idea has the most points based on your most important criteria?
  4. Select your top idea. Describe it, and identify the fears you have about it.
  5. Put on your CEO Hat and write out your big vision for your idea.
  6. List out all the things you need to do to move your idea forward.
  7. Organize your ideas along the Ease/Impact Quadrant (see above).
  8. Create a plan for how you will carry out your idea for each of the next 4 quarters. Do the easy/high impact activities soonest. Eliminate the difficult/low impact activities. Think about where you could get help for the high impact/difficult activities.
  9. For the very first activity you need to do, break it down into small steps and list the three micro actions to take next.

The Six Repeatable Steps:

  1. Big picture
  2. Break it down
  3. Work out what matters
  4. Build it back up
  5. Get specific
  6. Make it easy and do it!

People Skills for Business: Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards

Vanessa Van Edwards

The last workshop of WDS had arrived, and I’d been looking forward to this particular Academy. I’ve been following Vanessa Van Edwards for well over a year and had taken a few of her online classes. She has a website called and is an expert in the science of body language and people skills. Here are my notes:

People skills are the glue of business.

Physical pain and social pain are perceived the same way by the brain.

Design your unique brand of charisma.

Instead of the usual boring conversation starters, “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” etc., use more creative conversation starters. For example, “Is this a busy season for you?” “Any vacations coming up?”

Have a story toolbox. Weave in favorite stories with people who aren’t too interested in you. Put “hooks” in the stories. What are your favorite stories to tell?

People skills are the glue of business.

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Save conversation-worthy articles (the Pocket app is great for this).

Taking Notes

Me, taking notes. Image: Armosa Studios

10 People Principles:

  1. Capture that first spark. First impressions matter! People only take a second to make up their mind about you and it’s very difficult to change!
  2. Always thrive. Figure out which social environments you thrive in, which ones you dread and which ones are neutral. Be sure to “fuel up” before attending any “survive” event!
  3. Build trust. We judge on charisma, credibility and intelligence. In order to convey the best impression of yourself, keep your hands visible and expressive (above desk, out of pockets). Keep your hands visible when the other person talks. Consider adding videos to your website, and keep your hands visible in the video. Handshakes should be firm, 1-3 pumps, and dry (if your palms are sweaty dry them off first—some people carry a tissue in their pocket for this, or use your clothes).
  4. Trigger dopamine. People love to talk about themselves. Let them impress you. Keep the conversation going by saying, “Yes, and…” and add to what they have said. Some potential conversation starters: “What personal passion projects are you working on?” “Anything exciting happen today?” “Any trips coming up?” What’s the first question you ask at a networking or client event? Can you come up with a better one?
  5. Connect purposefully. We tend to use one of three gazing styles when we look at someone. Power gazing is looking at the other person between the eyes and the forehead. Social gazing is looking at the other person’s eyes and mouth. Intimate gazing is looking from the other person’s eyes all the way down to their sternum and back up. The type of gaze you use will affect how you are perceived. Social gazing kills negotiation. What’s your default gaze?
  6. Be memorable/vulnerable. Ask people for advice. Think about what you need help with, and what you’ve done already on your own. Who can help you? Asking for advice allows other people to talk about themselves (which makes them feel better) and shows your vulnerability, which makes you more memorable to them.
  7. Decode hidden emotions. Learn to read people’s facial micro-expressions to detect fear (raised eyebrows, open mouth), anger (verticle lines on forehead, hard eyelids), happiness (crow’s feet next to eyes, cheeks raised), contempt (one-sided mouth raise, narrowed eyes), disgust (nose crinkled, upper row of teeth visible), etc. Respond appropriately to these emotions so that they feel understood. Practice at!
  8. Be the highlight. Always start on a high (positive) note with people (e.g., “Nice weather!”), not on a negative. Be a raver/super introducer at your next event. When you introduce people to each other really talk them up (in a genuine way—don’t be fake).
  9. Honor personality. Use the “platinum rule”: Treat others as they would treat themselves. People will want to be treated differently depending on whether they are introverts or extroverts, focused or easy-going, explorers or preservers, worriers or calm, challengers or agreeable. If you want to attract a particular personality type to your business, write your website to appeal to your ideal customer. Get a free app at!
  10. Be the element of surprise. Find ways to add surprise to your business interactions. Some ideas: add quotes or funny jokes to your e-mail signature; add quotes or questions to your name tag at networking events; include surprise features/bonuses to your products; have surprise specials; celebrate client anniversaries; send occasional gifts to clients; organize fun/unique meeting locations; find ways to add surprise to business cards, marketing materials, website, etc.

If you want to learn more about body language or people skills of any kind, whether for business or for your personal life, I highly recommend Vanessa Van Edwards. She really knows her stuff and has several different courses available online!

Goodbye, WDS!

And after a Q&A session with Vanessa, just like that, it was over. I took my lunch—which I hadn’t had a chance to eat between the two Academies—and sat out on the steps in the shade outside the building, watching people go by as I ate. Another attendee came and joined me after awhile and we chatted until his bus came.

I had a great time and part of me wanted WDS to keep on going, but the other part of me was getting pretty “peopled out”—being around large groups of people for 5 days straight can be tiring when you’re an introvert. Especially with the big parties thrown in.

All in all, I learned some new things, recharged on inspiration, and made some great connections. I’m so glad I went, and I hope to come back to WDS in the future!