Playful Humans - People Who Play for a Living

The Power of Cocktail Parties and Memorable Social Gatherings with Nick Gray

September 26, 2023 Mike Montague Season 3 Episode 162
Playful Humans - People Who Play for a Living
The Power of Cocktail Parties and Memorable Social Gatherings with Nick Gray
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever wondered how to host an unforgettable cocktail party? Well, you're in luck. Our guest, Nick Gray, author and creator of Museum Hacks, is here to spill the beans on creating an experience that leaves a lasting impact on your relationships. We dive into the world of two-hour cocktail parties and unravel how they can be a perfect avenue for networking and building new friendships. Nick’s treasure trove of expertise guarantees success with your next event.

Moving further, we discuss the ingredients of a memorable gathering. With Nick's guidance, we discover how to balance the party size, select activities that engage everyone, and how to break the ice with his favorite questions. So, are you ready to become the host with the most? Grab a drink, join us, and let's go out and play!

Party Times: Start, End, & Best Times

Icebreaker Name Tags: Examples and How to Do It RIGHT

How to Host an Event: Parties & Networking

Where to Throw a Party? Ideas and Venues for 2023

Icebreaker Activities for Your Next Event

Nick Gray's Personal Website

Friendship Recession Website

(0:00:03) - Building Relationships Through Hosting Events
(0:07:45) - Creating Memorable and Stress-Free Social Gatherings
(0:20:25) - Fun in Museums and Beyond

(0:00:03) - Building Relationships Through Hosting Events (8 Minutes)

We explore the world of the two-hour cocktail party with Nick. Nick shares why a cocktail party can have such a lasting impact when it comes to building relationships and helping us build our network of acquaintances. He also talks about how we can all start hosting our own events to create an awesome experience for somebody else and build new relationships and friendships. He has helped hundreds of people learn how to host their first event and make it successful.

(0:07:45) - Creating Memorable and Stress-Free Social Gatherings (13 Minutes)

Nick shares what makes a great get-together and how to make sure everyone has fun. We explore the importance of choosing one focus, the ideal party size, and how to be the host. We also discuss the benefits of doing physical activities over board games. Finally, we look at Nick's favorite questions to ask and activities to do to break the ice.

(0:20:25) - Fun in Museums and Beyond (6 Minutes)

We explore the concept of 'playful humans' with Nick Gray. We discuss trivia games and the importance of creativity and connection, as well as how to host a great gathering. Nick shares his challenge of getting 500 people to read his book and offers to review RSVP pages and give tips on who to invite. So let's go out and play!

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Support the Playful Humans mission to help adults rediscover the power of play:

Speaker 1:

It is another playful humans podcast. I'm your host, mike Monague. Find us at playful humans and playful humanscom. My guess this week is Nick Gray. You can find him at Nick Graynet or at Nick Gray news on all the socials and he is the author of the two hour cocktail party how you can build big relationships from small gatherings. He also has a playful career where he started fun museum tours called Museum of the World, museum hacks, and we're going to get to find out how he plays for a living and how he can help you have a better cocktail party and have some fun live and in person, not virtual. We're doing it live. Here we go.

Speaker 1:

All right, nick, we like to start with the joke of the week here on the playful humans podcast. The joke of the week this week is brought to you by zoom comedians. Zoom comedians are remotely funny Most people not remotely funny so comedians are Okay. Here's the official joke of the week. I accidentally glued myself to a copy of my autobiography the other day. My wife doesn't believe me, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's good, I like that.

Speaker 1:

All right, so let's start with the book the two hour cocktail party. There's a lot in there already. Why a cocktail party? Why two hours? And how did you get here, where partying is your business?

Speaker 2:

That is crazy. First of all, if you don't drink alcohol neither do I the book has not a single drink recipe. It's not about cocktails itself, but it's about the what a cocktail party means compared to a dinner party, and I think that let me just start to set the stage. If you're listening to those podcasts, you are a playful person, you like playing, you like having fun. How would your life be different if you had like 10 times as many playful people in your life who you could call and hang out with or do fun stuff with? And that is the reason that I want to try to convince you today to host an event that when we build our network, when we surround ourselves with people who inspire, encourage and challenge us, it can totally change your life. It did for me. I found that the best way to do that was by hosting events.

Speaker 1:

Yes, yeah, and I was just going to roll back a little bit. I don't want to depress people, but sometimes it starts this way on this podcast that this is a big problem and a big issue that you're solving right, because in the 50s I feel like people were always having cocktail parties and dinner parties and adults were hanging out and having fun things and especially, post pandemic, we just see that there's this like friendship recession and this loneliness pandemic that people are not connecting in real life as much as they did before and I think, for some reason, that tradition didn't get passed to the younger groups. Like I don't see or I don't get invited to many cocktail parties and maybe that's me but do you find the same thing? That people are not partying live and they're not getting together as much as they used to?

Speaker 2:

You know, I think that post COVID, social stuff has changed not entirely, but just a little bit. We're a little bit more awkward, where I saw this funny video from somebody who works as a barista and they said work from home people, you need to warm up and talk to at least one other person before you come into the coffee shop. Because they either come in and they're like so anxious and they're just like I would like a coffee please, and they or they're just they have so much energy that they're like I want a coffee. I saw a bird. The bird was doing this. Have you ever seen a bird before? And there's like no middle ground. You know, like work from home people are just like one of the other Social stuff has changed.

Speaker 2:

You know, I have heard from a lot of people who used to host regularly. They had a hosting habit and then COVID kind of shut everything down for a year and then they just never restarted their habit. Regardless, over the last arc of my life, 15 years I found that hosting events was the single best way for me to meet interesting people, hang out with interesting people, get invited to interesting events. I found that in order to meet interesting people, I had to do interesting things, and the best, easiest, fastest way to do that was just to learn how to host a good event.

Speaker 1:

I think there is a big moral lesson here, too, that I've tried to incorporate into my life that, as an entertainer and a performer, I can sit back against the wall and say when will somebody notice me? Or I can go out there and do something worthy of being noticed. If you're one of those people that are like I don't get invited to parties, I don't have that many friends start hosting parties and start making friends and invite people over. This is your chance to create an awesome experience for somebody else and build a new relationship, find a new friendship. I saw some stories on your website that people moved to new cities where they don't know anybody and they're able to start this from scratch and really get out there and form cool relationships, lifelong friendships from inviting people to a cocktail party.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, by the way, moving to a new town is so challenging and for many people they just wouldn't even know how to approach it. Or maybe you've moved into town and you just moved during COVID and you just never really built the network, and I specialize in that stuff. I've helped hundreds of people learn how to host an event, and their first one, to make it successful, and I find that really the key here is building your network of acquaintances. And you may not like this idea. You may think, ooh, networking, no, I like to play, I like that fun, 100 percent got it. And also, all new friendships begin at the acquaintance level, and these days it's kind of awkward, especially for two guys like us, to ask somebody like hello, adult man, do you want to be my friend?

Speaker 1:

That's how I feel, yes.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, it's like can we hang out sometime? What I find was it is so much easier to invite somebody to something that you're hosting, and, after hosting hundreds of different types of events, I just found that cocktail parties are the easiest low stress thing. It's easy for people to say yes to and it's easy for me to host.

Speaker 1:

So that's why I'm going negative here a little bit, because I think it's because you got the positive side covered and I'm all bought into this.

Speaker 1:

But, my first question kind of comes up with. I feel I don't drink either and I feel like adults kind of default to alcohol. Situations like let's go to a bar or let's go do an escape room or let's go somewhere else, that it has to be outside the house to have a gathering and it maybe it has to include alcohol or football game. And when you mentioned the bro side of things like, ok, well, I can ask a guy to go watch a chief's game at B-Dubs, but I'm not going to invite them over to my house to have conversations, like it feels weird. So help me out a little bit here.

Speaker 1:

I think the alcohol detracts from actual real connections. It kind of becomes like a crutch for people to rather than actually connect and have real moments. And you kind of mentioned play too. I find in play situations where you have icebreakers, you're doing something together, a board game or a card night, those at least facilitate some of that awkwardness out and it lowers all that anxiety of like we're showing up to a business networking event and we're going to be professionals and we're going to try to close business and get prospects in the funnel, like that, those don't seem to work either. So I think there's a lot of problems with other traditional events and the question really is like what creates a magical one? What's one that people remember that it's low stress, it's easy and allows welcomes new people more easily than others have?

Speaker 2:

you hosted a good Game night, and how did you do it?

Speaker 1:

Yes, two things. One my favorite get together is we have a fondue night with our friends and we do cheese, two types of cheese fondue and two types of chocolate fondue for dessert and all the stuff just laid out there and you can just dip and eat and chat. And People do drink and stuff. But it's just, it's casual to set up of like we're gonna be here and we're gonna hang out and have, you know, catch up Twice a year, once a quarter, with the friends. That's my, my favorite party. But the game nights are also fun. So I actually go a little bit over the top, nick, I'll be honest, probably not easy, but for, like, new Year's Eve will create like a Board game Olympics with like brackets of everybody that's showing up and do different competitions of ping-pong, ball bouncing and Somebody's got to win apples to apples and somebody has to win a Video game like Jackbox TV, and we'll all compete against each other and brackets to crown one champion of each of the five different or six different stations, depending on how many.

Speaker 2:

How many people do you usually have come?

Speaker 1:

to that. All kinds of stuff, not a lot. I think the. The magic number is probably what you would say, somewhere between 12 and 24. You don't want it bigger than that and smaller than that. Sometimes it's More of just like a friend gathering, like the fondue night that I mentioned. Yeah, huh, what's your thought? What? What's the ideal party size?

Speaker 2:

for you. Well, here's the reason I asked about game night. I talked to somebody who had read my book and was like oh yeah, I want to do this and I want to do a game night. So I'm gonna host a cocktail party and a game night. And the Problem is that he didn't choose one focus and so he had half people show up for a game night and Half people show up for cocktail. I see you smiling.

Speaker 1:

Like you know, I've ruined plenty of parties by trying to like stop the cocktail party part and start a game part because I was Getting bored or I felt like people were just, you know, talking shop or something and not having any fun. So I totally agree. I think you For sure.

Speaker 2:

What I told him was I said look, that's such a mismatch because game people sit down and you got to be there at a critical time and it's starting cocktail people are there to mix and mingle. So yes, for this audience game night. I love game nights. I love anything that can bring people together. And here's the secret whether you choose to do a cocktail party or game night or something, just be the host. You can be the host. You can be that lynch pin in your community To easily bring people together. That can be you. All you have to do is step up and do it. And when you follow some steps like I have in my book using your core group, collecting RSVPs, sending reminder messages these little tactical, practical and specific things can just elevate your skills and make people feel like You're serious about having fun, if that makes sense.

Speaker 1:

Yes, I love it. I just got serious play certified by Lego a couple of weeks ago and wait really yeah, out of Bill and Denmark they did an online course where I learned and teach people how to have conversations and do icebreakers with Lego pieces and stuff.

Speaker 2:

Wait, that's cool as heck yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I might have to have a Lego party as well. That's one of the things that I've done and I do have exercises for that, where I have all the separate pieces of like 100 different Lego minifigures and you have to build yourself in Lego when you come in as like your name tag, and then you can ask people and be like, why did you pick that? Like here's my little guy and he's on stage with a microphone and public speaking. You know, you met me at inbound when I was talking last time and that's my little guy. He's got jeans on and a blazer and stuff and he's ready to go and somebody else might pick a totally different. You know crazy hair.

Speaker 1:

I've had people just stack of legs because they love to dance or have long legs and stuff and all kinds of cool things for icebreakers. But I wanted to give you some props. Love the book. It is the two hour cocktail party how to build relationships with big relationships with small gatherings, available anywhere you get books. You have a ton of great tips around when to start, you know promotion, how to pick a date, getting the right times, the length and all the logistical stuff somebody would need to know in order to do their first one. I love that.

Speaker 1:

But I feel like for this podcast we need to dive into those icebreaker activities and do you have like some favorite questions? You ask Do you like physical activities? You know different things, like I find sometimes in my experience the movement is different than a board game. Like you said, there's some board games I don't like at all because everybody sits around the table and they're focused so hard on winning the game that you can't even talk between terms Because everybody has to be laser focused on what's happening, like with tiles or dominoes or Mexican train and stuff like that that they just do not work for parties. Other games where it's casual and you can kind of take your turn and then go get a drink and get up and come back and do something more, like kind of like a silent auction where you don't have to be fully present. You just got to check in every once in a while. Those can be a lot more fun. But what are your thoughts and experience? I really am curious here.

Speaker 2:

So a lot of my work involves helping people to meet with and talk to as many new people as possible in a light connection way. So I'm not. Really my focus of work is not in deep vulnerability and connection. It's more of let's meet seven or eight people and maybe you'll want to go deeper with one or two of them, and so I focus on that light stuff and, as such, even at a game night, I would encourage using things like name tags and a round of icebreakers, because it just helps to signal to the room to know who's there.

Speaker 2:

The alternative is you know it's the game night. Hey, what's up? Everybody's doing their own kind of introduction. Somebody shows up late. They don't really know everybody. Hopefully, with a game night, you're using this to grow your circle of playful people and you're adding new people into that world. That's part of being a generous host is you get to make people feel welcome, accepted, appreciated, and icebreaker helps to level the playing field, and so, even if I'm with six people, I'll say hey, you guys don't totally know each other, let's just do an icebreaker real quick. And what you don't want to do is to force people to get real vulnerable real fast. Yeah, at the beginning of the night, when nobody knows each other, put your head.

Speaker 1:

What's your biggest fear? What?

Speaker 2:

are you most afraid?

Speaker 1:

of Deep in your soul. What's your?

Speaker 2:

worst first date, even that one, what's your worst first date? Like that's what I call a red level icebreaker. I think about just getting people to signal and just warm up, because a lot of my stuff, especially among game people, there can be people that are shy, that are socially anxious, that have a little bit of anxiety, and so I just want a simple one Say your name, say what you do for work or how you spend your days, and what's one thing that you really like to eat for breakfast, like what's your go to kind of breakfast thing, something like that. That is a green level. That doesn't take a lot of thought. I'll give you a bad example. A bad example could be hey, welcome to board game night. Say your name, say what you do for work and what's your favorite board game. Well, now people are like trying to come up with some creative Somebody else may have said theirs Kind of elicits a little judgment.

Speaker 1:

Or they dive in on it and they go well. No, mine's better than yours and it creates attention rather than relieving tension with those.

Speaker 2:

Yes, yes, same thing with what's your favorite book, what's one of your favorite movies. Anyhow, doing a very simple one at the beginning is very helpful For a small game night of you know six, seven, eight people. By the way, I heard from Priya Parker, who wrote this book called the Art of Gathering, that groups of larger than six will generally bifurcate into two smaller conversations. So if you have a dinner or something with eight people, pretty likely it's going to split into other conversations. My expertise again is in these larger cocktail parties, which 15 to 20 people really 18 is your best number for that. It's actually easier to host an event with 18 people than it is for seven, because you, as the host, can just sit back and let the room manage. There's enough energy with seven. You're babysitting, you are really with seven, there's some awkward silences and that's the reality of it.

Speaker 1:

Love that. Great tips. There's so many more in the book the two hour cocktail party. Find it at Nick Graynet or just go to Amazon type in the two hour cocktail party and get yourself a book Really cool. Get the paperback version too, so you can see all the different templates and Nick tells you what to say and what to put in the emails for the invites and all kinds of great stuff there that we don't have time to get into because I have two things left for you. I want to play a game here in a minute, but your business that you sold was doing museum tours called Museum Hacks. It sounds like a super fun business that you set up this play business where you get to play for a living. You get to give cool people fun experiences for a living. Give me the short two to five minute version of that story and why you would encourage other people to play for a living.

Speaker 2:

Short version is would you rather take a museum tour with a volunteer docent who has 25 years of art history class, or would you rather take it with Mike, your host of the Playful Humans show, who is going to have fun with you? And that was my whole thing. I want to go in a museum tour with someone that I'd want to hang out with afterwards, because I don't know about art and I don't know about history. I started to give these tours without any art history background, just self-taught, with the focus on fun, playful things at the museum, and then I would hire stand-up comedians and Broadway actors to lead those tours, and so I think that was what was like sort of special or unique.

Speaker 1:

It sounds so fun and I know that it is a lot of work along there too. I hate the quote that you find what you love and you'll never work another day in your life, because I'm sure it's a lot of work building and business like that and coordinating all the different tours and schedules and hosts and all the background. But I also just love the idea that I saw on your website and in your TED Talk that you're taking selfies with paintings and statues and you're finding the most unusual things and we've all been there, right, we're all that. Really. I think that 12-year-old inside where you're like, look, that's a picture of a naked lady or that's a funny-shaped art statue from the 3,000 years ago and that's way more fun that what you're going to talk about with your friends than the artist created this and the deep meaning or the intellectual symbolism of the red color and things like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I like doing those fun stuff because it's what people, it's the juicy gossip about the art, and what we thought of with Museum Hack was let's just get people interested, because a lot of people are there due to a sense of obligation. They're like, oh, I have to go to this museum and so we're like, ok, well, let's just talk about the fun stuff. How much does it cost? Who was the drunkest? Like what crazy stuff happened to this painting? Like when was this stolen? Why?

Speaker 2:

Oh, that's cool and that got people to ask questions and it got them to be like OK, what, Like, what's up with that? So we really had fun and we do little silly things. We'd pass out candy on the tours to just raise their blood sugar and just get stuff going. We'd like run or fast walk through the museums. We'd like pretend to sneak around a little bit.

Speaker 1:

Oh yeah, that's right. Lay on the floor. I saw that. All kinds of good stuff.

Speaker 2:

Lay on the floor.

Speaker 1:

And I think it's just great ideas. I hope people go and they go to your website and they dive deeper into it, nick Graynet, because there's so much to unpack we don't even have the time to do it today, because before we leave we've got to get you to play a game. Are you ready? I'm ready. Ok, I'm excited to learn from you. So do you have a game?

Speaker 2:

for us this week. Yes, so my game is kind of a trivia game and I just want to say that there are no wrong answers and so I'm not going to judge you. You're not a bad person if you can't do this, but without looking at a map, and we'll just start. No, let me start. Start easy and then we'll go to hard. Can you name for me as many cities or countries that start with the letter M?

Speaker 1:

And well, I'm in Missouri and I think I said cities or countries not states.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, states work too.

Speaker 1:

Let's go. Missoula, missouri City, madrid. Minneapolis Ding ding, ding, All right good.

Speaker 2:

Good, good, good, great. So now I'm gonna give you one more, one more letter, and the same thing cities, states or countries with the letter oh. What letter should we pick? Let's say D D.

Speaker 1:

D Delaware, Denver, des Moines, detroit, denmark and I don't know. Is there Danube? That's a river. Okay, I'm gonna.

Speaker 2:

Danube. I'll take Danube, I'll accept Danube. I'll accept it, I'll accept it. I'm gonna add that oh, you're in good gay shows too.

Speaker 1:

We're gonna have to do one of these together. Oh, that was the rim shot. I meant this one. It was a lot of fun.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, but I'm adding that now Cities, states, countries or major rivers.

Speaker 1:

That's right, it's all part of the show.

Speaker 2:

The last one that I do and this is trivia, so I guess it's not that much fun of a game, but I just think I love world maps and cities and improving my knowledge of the world and this one always stumps me. I'm terrible at it, Like I get like two or three sometimes. But how many countries can you name on the continent of Africa?

Speaker 1:

Oh man, not a lot. So Egypt, Lesotho, Africa, South Africa, Congo, and that might be it.

Speaker 2:

That's good. Four is it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, namibia, and one other one there, nigeria.

Speaker 2:

And Nigeria. You did a great sweep of the South Africa Lesotho, Namibia, really good job. That one always blows my mind when I try to ask friends to name them and then I go back and I look at the list I'm like, oh, how did I miss Morocco or something like that? And like all these rent, like Mozambique? Oh, of course that one. Oh, I totally forgot Learning about so.

Speaker 1:

I'll give you a quick one and then I want to hear from you how you can help us and we can help you. But love I love that I do that in some of my speeches for playful humans is category challenges are different than trivia. You said trivia and that's not very fun, because if you ask somebody to like name the year the thing was signed, like if you don't know it, you're out of options. But when you ask people to name as many things as possible, it becomes an infinite game. It becomes creativity and connection challenges rather than a stressful like focused in one right answer challenge. So I love the example of your game today. Thanks for teaching us another playful humans lesson. How else can you help us or we?

Speaker 2:

help you. I'm really focused on trying to get 500 people to read my book to host an event. I think that, like you said, there is a loneliness epidemic, a friendship recession. I'll send some articles about that. But if you check out my book or go to my website, read some of the articles on how to host a housewarming party or a happy hour or something, send me an email. I'd love to help you out. I'll review your RSVP page. I'll give you tips on who to invite. All my contact info is on my website and in my book, so please check it out. We need more gatherings. We need more people hosting fun stuff. I agree.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for being on the show, Nick Gray, Nick Graynet and the book the two hour cocktail party. Go check it out and go have some fun. Go play, go host a gathering and tell Nick about it. He wants to hear about your party. I want to hear about your party as well, and if I'm close by, I want to be invited. I need more friends. I need to go to more parties. So go to playfulhumanscom. You can check out playfulnesscom. You can find out what playfulness quiz, find out what playful personality is, or rediscover other benefits in the power of play for adults. Playfulhumanscom. See you next time. Don't wait for tomorrow. Live for today. Keep on chasing the sunshine. Go out and play.

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