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Terrence J

How to Connect with Presidents, Royalty, & World-Class Celebrities

What does it take to make it to the top?

Have you ever wanted to make instant connections with the people you meet? 

A huge part of being successful in your professional field is networking and establishing long-lasting connections. You could make a connection with someone new today who could completely change your life. You could strike up a conversation with someone in a grocery store or a bank who knows all the right people to establish or advance your career. 

The question is, how can we instantly connect with people to make this happen? 

My guest today knows all about breaking the ice with everyone around him. He has a great deal of experience creating rapport with presidents, celebrities, athletes, and countless others. Believe me when I say that this guy knows practically every major influencer and decision-maker. 

I’m so happy to have Terrence J on today’s episode of School of Greatness! Today, Terrence and I discuss overcoming self-doubt and people-pleasing, how to shatter the ice with anyone you meet, and how to both create and sustain a success mindset. We have so much fascinating ground to cover, so let’s dive in!

Who Is Terrence J?

Terrence J is an actor, model, entertainment host, and author. He has a wide range of film and television credits, including Think Like a Man, Burlesque, The Perfect Match, and Scream: The TV Series. Terrence started his career in show business at the age of 16. While in high school, he DJed for 102 Jamz in Greensboro, North Carolina. After studying mass communication at North Carolina A&T State University, Terrence became famous through hosting the BET hip hop and R&B music video show 106 & Park. Terrence went on to host several reality shows and award programs, including Kourtney and Kim Take Miami, the Miss USA beauty pageant, Are You the One? as well as co-anchored E! News. On top of his seemingly countless film and television credits, he also released his first book The Wealth of My Mother’s Wisdom in 2013. 

More recently, Terrence has been working with the organization Be to energize and educate young people to vote in this year’s election. 

From his time hosting and acting, Terrence has become a master at making high profile connections. This guy knows everyone from Beyonce, Jay Z, the Obamas, and Kevin Hart, and he has so much knowledge on how to instantly overcome social barriers with anyone. Terrence has a ton of great advice to achieve success and build relationships along the way, so let’s get started!

Dealing with Self-Doubt and People-Pleasing

Terrence and I discussed what it takes to succeed in the entertainment industry. A crucial piece of advice that applies to everyone wanting success is being yourself and accepting the fact that you can’t please everyone. 

“Be specific to who you are. And don’t worry about trying to please everybody. You’re not going to be able to please everybody. Focus on who you are, focus on your craft, and the people that are supposed to love you will love you. And then those that don’t, you don’t have to worry about it. There’s enough to go around for everybody, so just focus on being you.” – Terrence J

Rather than worrying about pleasing everyone around you, just focus on your craft and being you. Everyone is different, and it’s impossible to please everyone when you’re being yourself. It can seem like a daunting task to overcome others’ negative opinions, but it’s important to remember that if some people love you, other people will hate you. 

“That’s been one of the hardest things in my life [because] my personality type is like, I feed off of love. I feed off of energy, and I’m so used to being cool and everybody loving me, and the world’s now not like that. People will hate you just because a lot of people like you.” – Terrence J

Terrence has faced moments of difficulty when dealing with the negative opinions of others. He observed that it’s a lot easier to focus on negativity than positivity. He used the example of the comments section of social media. He can receive a hundred positive comments, but if one person comments something negative, he’ll dwell on the negative comment and wonder what he did wrong. When you’re successful, you’ll always face naysayers and unwarranted criticism trying to discourage you. Terrence observed that the way to overcome negativity is to love yourself and surround yourself with people that love you for being you

“I’ve had times in my life where I was surrounded by the wrong people. And it’s hard to love yourself when you have negative energy that’s directly in front of you, meaning if I wake up in the morning and say, ‘You know what? Today I’m going to change the world,’ with the person that’s saying, ‘You ain’t going to change nothing,’ it’s hard to overcome that.” – Terrence J

So how can we surround ourselves with the right people who love us for who we are? Terrence observed that surrounding yourself with the right people takes positive energy:

“If you and [I] become friends, I’m going to help you, and you’re going to help me. … But you can already tell by us sitting down just the positive energy. I don’t want anything from you, [and] you don’t want anything from me. … That’s how you make the best friendships and relationships. [Be]cause then it’s building from a place of love and respect.” – Terrence J

Even though it’s good to help your friends professionally and allow your friends to help you, it shouldn’t be your relationship’s primary basis. You need to approach your relationships with love and respect rather than mutual benefit. 

Loving yourself and surrounding yourself with the right people are also essential for overcoming self-doubt. Even though Terrence is immensely successful, he still experiences self-doubt daily. He observed that pursuing greatness despite his doubts is the secret to his success: 

“I think my ability to overcome that doubt is why I’ve been able to be successful. … I wanted to be an actor and there were a lot of people that told me I couldn’t do that. And I had a lot of self-doubt, but it’s my ability to say, ‘Yo, forget it and go after it.’ That allows me to do both [acting and hosting.] But I have self-doubt every day, and that’s okay.” – Terrence J

Have you ever felt that you can’t accomplish great things because of your self-doubt? Terrence has achieved so much, but he still struggles with self-doubt. You’re not alone in dealing with insecurities — everyone has them, regardless of their level of success. I asked Terrence how he overcomes his self-doubt every day, and he had an awesome answer that everyone can learn from: 

“In order to overcome all of that, you just have to dig deep. Believe in yourself, [and] believe in something higher than you. … For me, it’s surrounding myself with the ecosystem of support and love. … When I go through it, I have the people that I call that help pull me out of the grave [of self-doubt.]” – Terrence J

Believing in yourself and something greater than yourself is crucial for overcoming your insecurities. Believe in your ability to accomplish amazing things, and tap into something greater for support, whether it be your God, friends, or family! 

The Key to Connect with People Instantly 

Terrence knows practically every influential person in show business, from Kanye West to George Clooney. He is exceptionally well connected, and he’s phenomenal at networking. But get this: Terrence is actually incredibly introverted. From a young age, Terrence adopted a more social personality to adapt to his surroundings. 

“You always gotta blend in. So you develop a big classroom personality to get yourself through [school] and to make friends. And then once I was able to transition that personality to a radio personality and then a TV personality, then I was able to kinda function at a higher level of doing big shows.” – Terrence J

Terrence has become incredibly comfortable with people despite being an introvert, and he even described his social skills and ability to adapt to different people as his superpower:

“My greatest superpower is, I think, people skills. … You’d be hard-pressed to find somebody that you can dump off in any type of room and adjust accordingly. … I can be in The White House with the Obama administration. I could … function in a presidential library with scholars, dignitaries, princes, and presidents. And then I could be with TI at the Trap [Music] Museum in Atlanta rolling dice.” – Terrence J

Despite being introverted, Terrence thrives around people, and he easily makes connections with everyone he meets. He recognizes that his ability to make connections is one of the keys to his success. He shared excellent advice that he received from the business mogul Daymond John:

“I just try to live my life knowing that every time I walk out of my door, every single person is in my life for a reason and nothing is to be taken for granted. … The achievements that I want to have are going to come from the people that I associate with. And so Daymond John told me a year ago, … ‘Your most important asset is your Rolodex.’ And so I just try to utilize that in the best way.” – Terrence J

Making connections with others may be the most crucial secret to success, so is it possible to make an instant connection with anyone you meet? Well, Terrence has some tricks up his sleeve to do just that. In fact, he uses what he describes as his “bag of tricks.” 

“I have a bag of tricks. … There are those certain things that will connect with anybody that I’m easily able to access. … So sports are always [one] of those things, [and] now the pandemic is always one of those things. … It’s important to just find those common denominators and break down those walls. And then once I get you [in] that first hook, I can do anything in the room.” – Terrence J

Finding a common denominator in conversation with another person is essential for making an instant connection. You find common ground with the other person, whether you discuss sports, 2020, the weather, or whatever else you’re both familiar with. Once you break down the initial barrier with someone, you’ll feel more comfortable engaging in conversation and building a relationship with that person.  

Another trick that Terrence suggested was adapting your voice to fit your surroundings: 

“I got voices … [that I use] when I’m in a room with people, and I have to put on in that room. I know what’s worked for me in the past. … There’s [a] certain tonality of my voice that I can use to accomplish what I want to accomplish.” – Terrence J

Have you ever noticed that you speak in different ways when you’re talking to different people? We do this every day. I’m not going to talk to someone that I’m interviewing in the same way that I talk to a crowd. You adjust your tonality and delivery based on who you’re talking to. Start to practice your tonality and delivery in different situations, and figure out what works for you when addressing different people. 

Another key that Terrence gave for connecting with people is research:

“[I] do research. I’m a student of people, whether it’s somebody on Broadway or whether it’s an ice skater. … If Tom Cruise knocks on my shoulder, I’m able to say, ‘Yo, your last movie.’ I’m always able to flip into it. … Most of the time, I just study enough about a lot that I’m able to just flex into one of my bags of tricks.” – Terrence J

You might not meet Tom Cruise anytime soon, but you can still take this idea to heart. You can research different professional fields and interests to establish connections with people. When you’re familiar with someone else’s interests or profession, you can create common ground and break the ice with that person! 

How can you start making instant connections with people? Maybe you need to work on your ability to find common ground with others, or maybe you need to figure out what tonality you should use to accomplish your social goals. Breaking the initial barrier with others will allow you to establish long-lasting personal and professional relationships!

“Be specific to who you are and don’t worry about trying to please everybody. You’re not going to be able to please everybody!” @TerrenceJ  

Creating and Sustaining a Success Mindset

Terrence has had immense success in both acting and hosting in his 15-year career. We discussed his mindset for success and how you can use your initial success to motivate further success: 

“For me, the hardest one is getting that first success. That’s the biggest one. Once you get that first success, then I understand that I can accomplish success. And then once you do that, you can always dip back into that accomplished success, no matter how old you are.” – Terrence J

You can tap into your past success to reassure and motivate yourself to accomplish more. This is especially important in the entertainment industry because success varies from year to year: 

“I’ve had years where I’m on fire. … Then you have years that are kind of dry, [where there’s] not much going on. I never feel like I can’t do it again. [Be]cause I built it. I’ve done it. I know I’ve done it at a high level. So I always know I could tap back into it. … Nobody stays on top consecutively.” – Terrence J

Even though there are years in which Terrence isn’t as successful, he doesn’t allow himself to be discouraged because he has his previous successes to tap into. 

Are you tapping into your previous victories and success? Maybe you’re feeling discouraged right now because you didn’t get the promotion you wanted, or maybe your business isn’t expanding as quickly as you thought it would. Encourage yourself to continue striving towards success by thinking about your past successes. You are capable of accomplishing great things, and your past victories serve as a great reminder of that fact. 

So what should you do if you haven’t yet had success in your field of interest? 

“What I tell the people going after that first level of success is to just not give up until you get it. You can not stop until you get what that goal is.” – Terrence J

Even if you haven’t yet achieved success in your field, never give up on your dreams. Keep working hard and stay persistent until you can break into your industry. 

Another key to creating or maintaining success is being flexible: 

“You just got to adjust. Sometimes the world will change. … Sometimes you gotta take a step back, and then you [have] to go into a different direction of success. And it’s important to go with the ebb and flows of life.” – Terrence J 

The world is always evolving, whether from advancements in technology or the changing professional landscape. You need to adapt your craft or profession to succeed or continue succeeding in the changing world. Maybe you’re a newspaper publisher and you need to adapt to online print, or maybe you want to become a professional photographer but you need to shift to the latest creative trends. The professional world is always changing, so you need to be flexible in your field and use your previous successes to strive forward to greatness!

Why You Should Listen to This Terrence J Podcast Episode Right Now… 

Guys, Terrence J and I covered so many different topics that I couldn’t fit in this article. If you want to learn about Terrence’s vision for his life, what he’s most proud of, and how to make a million dollars in only one year, check out the full episode!

Also, make sure to check out Terrence’s work with Be on Facebook and their website. He interviews celebrities and musicians, including Killer Mike, DJ Khaled, and Tristan Wilds, on why YOUR vote matters. Terrence stressed the importance of everyone encouraging one another to vote, regardless of your level of influence: 

“It’s about everybody inspiring others to vote. So I don’t care if you’re in North Carolina right now with a hundred followers on [Instagram] and you work at the grocery store, tell everybody that’s coming through at your local grocery store to go out there and vote.” – Terrence J

Terrence J has accomplished so much in his career, and the way he uses his influence to make a positive impact on humanity is so inspiring. His definition of greatness is something that we should all strive for: 

“My definition of greatness is living a life fulfilled, doing what you do to make yourself happy, and living a purpose-driven life with passion, inspiration, and love.” – Terrence J

Friends, join me on Episode 1021 to learn all about overcoming self-doubt and people-pleasing, making instant connections, and having a success mindset throughout your life!


To Greatness,

Lewis Howes - Signature

“My definition of love is pouring into other people the light and the positivity that you want poured into yourself.” @TerrenceJ  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What is the secret to creating an instant connection with anyone you meet?
  • Which one is harder, becoming successful or staying successful?
  • What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned in your thirties?
  • If you had to start from scratch, how would you make a million dollars in a year?
  • What do you have yet to heal from your past?

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Terrence J’s top 3 mentors.
  • How to build relationships and career opportunities as an introvert.
  • Why you should stop being a people pleaser.
  • Terrence J’s irrational fear of Jay Z.
  • How Terrence deals with self-doubt.
  • The tools for creating and sustaining a Success Mindset throughout your life.
  • Plus much more…

Show Notes:

Connect with
Terrence J

Transcript of this Episode

Music Credits:

Music Credit:

Kaibu by Killercats

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