Don’t Freak Out: How You Can Suppress Stress When Meeting VIPs You Admire

Let me ask you a quick question.  Does it stress you out to think about meeting your heroes?

If you suddenly ran into a very important person you really admired — I mean someone you really, really admired — would you be able to have a coherent conversation?

Would you so impress this person with your effortless charm and wit that they would want to take you home with them? Or would you start sweating profusely and be barely able to remember your own name?

Unfortunately, a lot of people fall into the latter category.

If the idea of meeting someone you admire – such as a VIP or very successful person in your industry – makes your heart race and your palms sweat, then you are not alone. A lot of people get nervous when they meet a VIP they admire.


In a previous Dumb Little Man post, I shared five easy ways you can actually meet busy and famous VIPs, even if you hate networking. In this post, I’m going to discuss how you can minimize or suppress your own anxiety when meeting VIPs so that you can make the most of the interaction.

Why You Need to Control Your Anxiety Around VIPs

These nervous symptoms are no laughing matter. Whether you are a career-motivated individual who wants to move up the ladder, or if you own your own business, then nervousness around important people can be a major career or business killer.

But here’s the good news: there are ways to overcome stress induced when meeting VIPs and “celebrities” in your industry so that you can actually make a more human and more personal connection with almost any VIP, rather than coming off as a nervous, incoherent groupie.

Simple Tricks You Can Use to Suppress Stress

The key to suppressing this anxiety is to trick the mind into treating your encounter as if it is just an ordinary personal interaction with a person who doesn’t have great fame, power, or influence. This is actually easier than you may think.

Here are three ways you can manage stress around any VIP:

1.)  Remind Yourself That We’re All Human.

VIPs and celebrities are used to having people around them that act nervous, uncomfortable, or fidgety due to their own status and/or fame. If you can suppress that instinct and just act like nothing is out of the ordinary, it will be noticed.

Remind yourself that the VIP is human just like you. I love the phrase “they put their pants on one leg at a time” because it reminds us that even super famous people have to do ordinary, every day things like getting dressed or using the toilet. Even world leaders get zits or hemorrhoids or feel nervousness.

This may sound silly, but picture the VIP sitting on the can or eating a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream on the couch at midnight. These visual images will remind you that you’re not that different.

If you act like it is totally normal for you to be in the VIP’s presence, you are more likely to fit in, which means they will treat you in a more normal and human way, rather than like an outsider. 

2.)  Provide Value Before You Take Value.

Here’s a big difference between you and me, and a big name VIP or celebrity: a huge number of the people they meet will want to get something out of that person.

That would suck, right? You would be constantly on alert to the first sign of a person who wants to get something from you.  As a result, VIPs tend to surround themselves with people who specifically do not ask for anything in return.

So flip that equation around.  Offer something of value to a VIP, even if it’s something simple like a hotel recommendation, a restaurant tip, advice on a hobby they are interested in, or a suggestion of something to watch on TV.

The suggestion will be appreciated, and the VIP will treat you more like the human and considerate person you are.  It will make the entire interaction less stress-inducing and more like a normal, human exchange.

3.)  Educate Yourself About the VIP in Advance.

If you know in advance that you might meet a VIP, you should take the opportunity to do research.  Use online sources like LinkedIn to thoroughly review the person’s profile. Look for things you have in common with this person, and any new developments in their life.

For example, before I interviewed bestselling author Dan Pink for my podcast I discovered we’d both worked in the Clinton White House. Before I interviewed Amy Porterfield for my podcast I discovered we both graduated from the same college around the same time.

Doing your homework will increase your confidence and will ensure that you are up to date on what is going on in their life.

By doing research in advance, you will increase the chances that you will have a meaningful and more natural conversation about a subject you both care about, because you will be able to discuss interests in common or shared connections. The more natural the conversation, the less likely you will freak out and bury your head in the sand.

Written on 1/27/2014 by John Corcoran. John Corcoran is an attorney for entrepreneurs, a former Clinton White House Writer, and he puts his pants on one leg at a time. For more tips on meeting VIPs, download his free guide, How to Increase Your Income in 14 Days By Building Relationships with VIPs, even If You Hate Networking.

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