Oct. 14, 2022

Fireside Chat With Maddox: Nick Gray teaches us how to build big relationships with small gatherings

My guest, Nick Gray, is an LGBTQ community ally, an author, and a cocktail party host, extraordinaire.  He shares his story of moving to NYC in his mid twenties, not knowing a single soul and what he did to create an epic social network, centered around meaningful connections and community.  He was so wildly successful, he decided to write a book. The book is so easy to follow that anyone can build their own connections and community by merely following his "paint by numbers" instructions.  If you experience any form of loneliness or isolation, Nick can show you how easy it is to put an end that.  All you have to do is "TAKE THE 2 HOUR COCKTAIL PARTY CHALLENGE!"  Due to the nature of this topic, this is the most FUN episode I've recorded.  Sharing it with you totally excites me!

Nick's Profile
How to Host a Party Website
The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: Book info
The 2-Hour Cocktail Party: Amazon
Networking Event: How to Host One, Easily
Clothing Swap: How to Plan the Party
Hosting a Happy Hour: Nick Gray's How-to Guide
Nick Gray's personal website

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Coach Maddox  0:03  
Hello, Nick Gray and welcome to The Authentic Gay Man Podcast. I'm so excited to have you here today.

Nick Gray  0:10  
What's up? I'm happy to be here.

Coach Maddox  0:13  
Yeah, this is this is great. So, before we jump in, I just want to tell the listeners that, of course, you guys know that this podcast is for GBTQ men, and that's the guests that I normally bring on. However today, while Nick is not part of the GBTQ community, he's a huge ally. He has lots of gay friends. And trust me, he is cool, cool, cool.

Nick Gray  0:38  
You know, I marched in that gay pride. I used to live in New York City for 13 years. And my apartment was right on West 10th Street near what's the name Stonewall Stonewall? Is that the big thing? Right? Yes. And so I live near there. And so the gay pride parade would come by and it was it was the biggest party in New York City. The gay guys really know how to party.

Coach Maddox  0:58  
We know how to party. Absolutely. That's great. I love that I would have loved to attend a Pride Parade in New York City. Because Dallas is kind of lame.

Nick Gray  1:11  
Oh, it's not a big Yeah. This is like the whole city gets taken over. I mean, you can't go anywhere with it. I mean, you're a part of it. Whether you want to be or not. It is the city. It is pride.

Coach Maddox  1:23  
Yeah. Yeah. I've heard tales. Well, I think today is real special for for me, I know for me, and and I think it's gonna be for the listeners too. And the reason I brought Nick on is because Nick has this amazing story. He wrote a book called the two hour cocktail party. And the tagline is, tell me the tagline. I can't recite it from memory. Oh, yeah.

Nick Gray  1:47  
How to build big relationships with small gatherings. Well, and

Coach Maddox  1:53  
I want to say that I read the book. And I was so enthused that I started planning my first two hour party. before I was even a quarter of the way through the book. I have hosted one so far, that was a raging success. Now I want to say I'm a person who has entertained and thrown parties my whole life. I thought I had it down. And I did to some degree. But when I read Nick's book, it was like, Oh, my God, this is so simplified. I mean, it just was so easy and effortless and, and inexpensive. And it just, and I thought, You know what, I'm going to set aside everything I know, all of my own experience, I'm going to set aside my ego. And I'm just gonna paint by numbers. I'm gonna follow the instructions and do what Nick says to do in the book. And I gotta tell you, it was it was the best party I've ever thrown in my life. Yeah. And my guests were like, Oh, my God, this was amazing. As they walked out, they were all winners. The next one, I got flooded with text messages after the party. The next day, I got flooded with more text messages. And so I immediately planned my next one, which is next week, I have 18 confirmed guests. And I'm planning one that's already on the books for mid November having an absolute blast.

Nick Gray  3:26  
Well, and your party next week is something special. Do you want to tell people what is special about it?

Coach Maddox  3:31  
It's special in that it is all for just the gay guys. My first party was everybody in my life. You know, it was, it was everybody. But the one next week is just my gay boys. And I'm really, really excited about it.

Nick Gray  3:46  
That's pretty good. That's pretty great. I think it might be my first gay only party that someone has hosted. Using my book, it might be it might be you're going down in the record books, once again, going,

Coach Maddox  3:58  
I'm going down in the record book as being a first that's awesome writing.

Nick Gray  4:03  
That's pretty cool. Right?

Coach Maddox  4:04  
That is very cool.

Nick Gray  4:06  
What you said was something interesting. So you said and you've used this phrase before, when you talk about my book, that it's the paint by numbers. And so if you're listening to the authentic gay man podcast, you're someone who wants to improve your life, you're probably a bit of an overachiever. And yet, maybe you are listening to this and you think, Oh, I don't need to know how to throws parties who needs to read a book about parties? You know, maybe you're thinking that or maybe you're thinking, I don't host parties. I'm not the type of people who, who hosts a party. And I think what you said is interesting Maddox, because this book gives you a new way, that if you already host parties, that gives you the permission to make it easy. And if you've never hosted a party, it'll tell you exactly what to do to make it a success.

Coach Maddox  4:56  
Yes, and that's why I mean, maybe that paint by numbers is at all old thing, but no, I love it. When I was a child, my mom painted by numbers, she would buy the little canvas, it's a little kits and, and the little pots of color, and you put, you know, the color in the spot where it went. And at the end, she'd had this perfect painting. Yeah. And that's what you know, it was, anybody could do it if you didn't have to really have any talent, if you could just match the numbers and fill in little spaces. And that's kind of what this felt like to me. You lay out everything in the book, there's checklists, and there's do it this way. But you know, Nick, one of the things I love about your book is that you'll say, okay, like one of the I'll give an example. He says, You want to have the party start at a specific time and end at a specific time, and you want it to be two hours. Yeah, don't do last. Don't do more do two hours. And he says, I've experimented with this, I've thrown hundreds of parties. And he's perfected this, he's he is a master to our cocktail party host. Master is the key word there. And so he said, there's a specific reason I love that he did this all through the book, he would tell you what to do. But then he would tell you the psychology behind it, he would explain why you do this. And he said, The reason you want to end the party in two hours, is because the party will still be rocking and rolling, it will be at its peak. If you don't in the party, then people start to fade away and they wander out. And the energy, it's like an animal that's dying on the side of the road, the energy just dissipates. And the last thing people will remember is that last few minutes when everybody was gone, and there wasn't any energy in the room. But when you end it, it's when it's while it's at Full Tilt. It leaves them wanting more. And all they can remember was that peak energy that was happening in the room at the time you ended the party. So I just gotta say, it was hard to in the party, the party was going so full tilt that when I came 9pm the time, I cranked up the stereo really loud with Willie Nelson singing, turn out the lights, the party's over. And I turned the lights up bright. And it didn't even faze them. My guests were so engaged, that they just kept on having the party. And I'm like, wow. And so I turned the music up even louder and no response. Then I finally started turning the dimmer switch and flashing the lights back and forth. And that finally got their attention. And I said, the party's over. It's time to go home. Thank you so much for coming. Uh huh. Uh huh. And it worked. But I'll tell you what. It's scarce his psychology behind why he tells you what to do is part of the best part of the book to me.

Nick Gray  7:56  
Yeah, it's yeah, these things I learned the hard way. And I love that you were a little worried. Can I tell you story? A guy named Angelo called me two nights ago in the middle of his party. And he said, Nick, I have 20 people at my party. They're all talking and having so much fun. Are you sure I need to do the icebreaker? Why? Why would I stopped the party when everyone's talking and having fun? Shouldn't I wait until nobody's talking? I said no. You're never going to find a moment when nobody's talking. You need to stop it now and do the icebreaker. Trust me, Angela, say exactly this, say Hey, everybody. It's hard to make new friends as adults. I want you all to come here together to make new friends to do that. We're gonna circle up and do a quick round of icebreakers. And so I convinced him to do it. I didn't hear back from him for the rest of the night. I was like, oh, no, what happened? Maybe he didn't do it. He called me the next morning. He said it was amazing. The icebreaker was so good added new energy in the party just exploded. So there's all these counterintuitive things, I think, right? And in the party early, doing icebreakers, counterintuitive things that you don't think you need a book for, but I don't know. Maybe it helps.

Coach Maddox  9:09  
They're very counterintuitive, because, you know, my first reaction was, oh, that sounds lame. I'm I didn't think it sounded all that lame, but I thought some of my guests would think it sounded like the whole icebreaker thing that name tags, but no, they absolutely love, love. Loved it. So cool. Right? You know, and I'm thinking I'm gonna backtrack for a minute. We're just going to be all over the map today, I think, which is great. But I think that I really intended to say this before we got into the thick of of parties and all but, you know, there's a lot of conversation in our community. There's articles all over the internet about how our community really is in an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. Yeah, and I have experienced some of this in my own life. And to me, this is Like a very simple way to elevate yourself out of loneliness and isolation, if you're experiencing that in any shape, form or fashion, whether it's a lot of loneliness and isolation, or whether it's just a little bit more, and you'd like to have a little bit less, this to me is a bonafide way to move beyond that and to begin to create the connection and community that maybe your heart really really yearns for. I know mine does.

Nick Gray  10:32  
Heck, yeah. Heck yeah. And think about the gift you get to give to your friends. Even if you are thinking about loneliness, if you're thinking about who am I going to invite? Well, your friends, if you're feeling that your friends are probably feeling it to your friends, your neighbors, those in your community. And Maddox and I can talk about who you can invite to your party to try to give you some ideas, because maybe you're listening to this and you're thinking I'm lonely, who can I even invite to the party. And we can talk about that, how helpful it is to bring your different friend groups together. But also, maybe if you're listening to like, I'm not lonely? Well, I can almost guarantee you you are because here's what they found. They found that number one men are more lonely than women, two 15% of all men say that they don't have one single close friend. I think about my friend Tyler, who moved to Little Rock, Arkansas, and he moved there for his wife. But he didn't have a single friend that he could call on a Friday night to go have a beer with, he didn't even know somebody that he could go out with. And so he read my book and started to host these parties. But it is a thing. It's funny, as we get older, it's harder to make new friends. And nobody teaches us how to make new friends as we get older, when in reality, that's when we need it more than ever. Most people peak in their friendships in college or university. And then it just goes downhill after that people get married, they move to the suburbs, they get a new job, whatever it is, we get older, and we have less, when in reality, we get older, and we need more.

Coach Maddox  12:06  
That is exactly right. And I think another dynamic that plays a role here is that most of us don't really want to admit that we're lonely and isolated, because that's equated with being a loser. And nobody wants to be a loser. So we're actually lonely and isolated. But we're in the closet with our loneliness and isolation. Because we don't want the the connotation that goes along with that. Yes, right.

Nick Gray  12:39  
It's nice to think about how life can be different. Or what could happen with just one new person that you meet. There's a friend of mine who has this idea, which is that any one person has the chance to change your life. We don't know where we're going to meet that person or what could possibly happen. But it's those things that I'm obsessed with. And I love to talk about, and I'm on this mission to try to get 500 people to host a party. I'll talk about it, but you crushed it, you absolutely crushed it. And you're off to the races. Because you hosted one, your next one is coming up, you already have your next party. And I'll give your listeners a little micro pro tip of this is okay. But the biggest benefits in your life will come when you can make hosting a habit. And I think we've done that with this book to give you the M V P the minimum viable party.

Coach Maddox  13:35  
Yeah, it is already becoming a habit for me. Like I could see this actually just being an every four week thing. Yeah, you know, as soon as I finish one, I'm the next day working on my guest list for the next one, because you need about a three to four week runway to pull that off. Yeah. And so it's just this cycle, but it it already has. Just I mean, I've only thrown one party and worked on two more. And I've already met a whole bunch of new people. How cool is that? You know, one of the things and I know you know this, Nick, one of the things that I decided to do because my little group of gay male friends was limited. There was only about seven of them. Yeah. And I thought well, that's not going to make very much of a party. So I I asked each of my seven friends if they would bring a guest. Yeah, that was kind of like their entrance fee into the party. Now it wasn't a half, two, I didn't make it a half, two. I just, you know, let's make it a game. If everybody will bring a friend, then we have doubled our size. In just one party. We will all have an opportunity to meet some new faces. And there is I mean, I started off with like me and those seven guys. There were eight of us and now I have 18 confirmed RSVPs. So it totally worked. You know, and we haven't even gotten to the party yet, but it totally worked.

Nick Gray  15:11  
Which is such a cool idea. There's that idea of this friend naissance, a friend Renaissance, inviting your friends to bring a friend. It's a small thing. But those are little multipliers that start to happen when you host a party. And the secret is, by the way that everybody wants to be invited to a party. Everybody wants the gift of an invitation to the party. And when you become a host, you get to give that gift out to a lot of people.

Coach Maddox  15:38  
Yes, and it's very exciting. I think one of the things that has really shifted for me, I mean, I've literally had a shift in consciousness. And this is something that you taught me in the book, you mentioned it, I don't know that you talked about it a lot. But you mentioned it briefly. And it just stuck with me. And that is everywhere we go, we meet interesting people, like in our everyday life, you're at Barnes and Noble checking out at the register buying a book and the person checking you out, strikes up a little conversation with you. And they're an interesting, interesting person. You, I'm already doing this man. I was on the hike and bike trail the other day. And I had knee surgery recently, and I had not been walking and I'm back on the trail. And this total stranger, this woman says, Where have you been? I look up and I'm like thinking, do I know you? And she said, You know, I see you on the trail all the time. But I haven't seen you lately. I was just wondering, where have you been? She introduced herself. I said, Well, I had knee surgery, and I had to recover. But I'm back my knees better. I'm walking again. And so we had a lovely look conversation. And then I wished her a good day and turned and walked away. And I got about 20 steps away. And I went, This is what Nick's talking about right here. I turned around and I screamed out her name, you know, in the distance and said, Come back, come back. And she came back. And I said, you know, I host parties where I bring people together to make new connections and build community. Would you like to be a guest at one of my parties? She was so excited. She couldn't stand it. She couldn't give me your contact information fast enough. Right. And so that's what I'm kind of doing now. I'm just approaching people that I meet that I don't know them from Adam, that in the moment they've shown up and been kind and cool and friendly. And they just had that good energy, you know, we know and good energy when we experience it. Right? And so you have created like this shift in the way I'm approaching life now. By just that little tidbit that that you shared in the book about just be aware of where you are, there's somebody interesting to invite to your next to our cocktail party.

Nick Gray  17:51  
It's so true. It's so true. And I want to drill down there on that a little bit. Because what would you have done? If you didn't have your next party on the calendar? What would you have done if you didn't host? The reality is we meet all these awesome people? And don't we don't build relationships with them? Because life is busy? And it's hard? Would you have invited her out to coffee or dinner? I don't know. Maybe but you're busy. And it's hard. And it's a big ask. It's a big ask to say, Hey, new person? Do you want to go out kind of on a date? Do you want to go out with me even just a friendship date? It's a big lift. As opposed to what you said, I look, I think you're pretty interesting. I host these parties where I bring half my great friends and half really cool people I made in town that just seemed fascinating and smart and sharp. Do you want to come my friends and I do it you'll meet some new people? That is such an easier thing for someone to say yes to than the alternative, which is like, Hey, do you want to go out for coffee? Do you want to and then you guys never scheduled you didn't do it. So that idea that you get to be generous, you get to give her the gift of a party. Instead of saying like, Hey, I'd love to pick your brain for coffee, which I don't know, I have a whole beef with that phrase. But those are some things that I think and I didn't invent this concept. I've just I think found a formula to make it easy to help people learn how to do that minimum viable party. What's the easiest gathering that paint by numbers that Matic says, to just guarantee that you'll have a successful event?

Coach Maddox  19:33  
Yes, I absolutely love it. And you are so right. Let's get into a little bit of your story. Nick, I kind of want the listeners to understand what prompted you I mean, what way before the book ever came about? You had a need you had a yearning you had a place where you were that was not where you wanted to be. And then you came up with this idea and it was struggle. In the beginning, perhaps but I'm gonna step back and just let you get into the weeds and because I really think that, you know, some of my a lot of my listeners are gonna be able to totally relate to this.

Nick Gray  20:12  
Okay, sure. I moved to New York City, what, 15 years ago, but, but I grew up I grew up. Middle class I grew up. I don't know if I told you this. Do you tell did that tell you that I grew up in Dallas and Plano? No, I grew up in Plano. I went to Matthews Elementary School, Hendrick middle school, I would have gone to Plano east, I went to Clark. So I grew up in Dallas, I went to school in North Carolina, I spent a lot of time in North Georgia. But, but I worked a lot. I didn't have a lot of friends. I didn't really have any social life. I don't even think I had a girlfriend at all my 20s. And I moved to New York 15 years ago, with the intent to make new friends and to have a social life. But I did not mid 20s. Right. I moved there about when I was 27, maybe 2526. I'd have to look it up exactly. Okay. But I didn't have friends. And I did not know how to make new friends. I remember when I the first time I went to a bar and I talked to a stranger. I could not sleep that night, I was so electrified by the idea that I could just talk to strangers. And you know, it's not like I, I could do it well, immediately. But But that night, you know, I went up, I talked to somebody about something. And I was so nervous. And I was so scared to do it. And I did it. And they actually talked to me, they didn't throw a drink in my face. And I was just so electrified. So I started to go to networking events, and I went to parties, but I was not very successful going to those parties. You know, I've never been a huge partier. I don't drink alcohol. I don't I just I'm just not successful in nightclubs the way that some people may be traditionally are. And so I decided, instead of going into bad events, I would bring the party to me, I would start to host my own parties. And over a series of about 10 years, I hosted hundreds of parties, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. And I learned a formula, if you will, that I've been teaching the people over the last five years of everything I learned to guarantee that their first party will be successful. So that's a little bit of my story. But I'm guessing you're gonna want to drill down deeper. So I'm happy to answer any questions you have. Yeah, I

Coach Maddox  22:33  
kind of want to hear the initial why, you know, what was going on inside of you? How are you feeling? How are you experiencing life that because you you're no experience, no friends don't how to make friends. And suddenly you decide you're going to host parties. That's a pretty bold step. For somebody that, you know, really, you're describing yourself as being kind of socially inept. And now you've just decided to host parties. So there had to be something pretty serious driving that I'm I'm thinking,

Nick Gray  23:08  
yeah, maybe just the loneliness. Similarly, the frustration at going out to events and leaving, feeling like, why didn't I talk to anybody new being at these events and like trying to work out my courage to be like, I'm gonna go talk to somebody and then leaving and being mad at myself and being like, Ah, I just wasted like, I moved here. And this. I mean, that is a real feeling that I have had before. And feeling that energy and anxiety of trying to work up the courage to go talk to somebody and not doing it, or maybe doing it and it not going well, certainly a lot of times of not doing it and leaving feeling like it was my fault. When in reality, I learned that it's not that it wasn't my fault, just that the host hadn't planned an event where it was easy to do that. And I think that's an important part that we have to remember that as hosts of parties, we can do things like name tags and icebreakers to make it easier for people. But yeah, I think I went to plenty of events where I failed, and I did not have a good experience. You

Coach Maddox  24:20  
know, one of the things that this experience taught me was that when we invite a room full of people and a lot of them don't know each other in and we just invite them and that's all we do. They come in and now we just they're there they're on their own. I now look back at that and think how cruel I love that. You know how cruel and how Oh, I don't like I'm kind of having a hard time coming up with inappropriate mean just just just not good and and it's only because I had It's something now to compare it to, you know, it's, it's not the it's not the food. And it's not the surroundings because Nick tales that his first apartment in New York was the size of a postage stamp so small that the thing that makes this magical is two things, two things, and that is the name tags and icebreakers. Yeah. And it's the two things that as we said earlier is counterintuitive. Everybody thinks, oh, nobody's gonna know. Lame, you know, but no, no, no, no, it was the, the sprinkling on the it was the fairy dust on on, you know, whatever, however you want to word that it was that was the two things that really took the party from being mediocre to being absolutely friggin fabulous,

Nick Gray  25:47  
right. And it's just a little bit of structure. That is that generous authority. It's being a host, that's not afraid to add some structure. A lot of people say, Oh, no, I'm gonna be a cool host. I just want it to be cool, man, I just Let's just hang out, let's just hang Let's just hang I don't want to. It's not a war, it's not networking. And they say that because they want to be cool. And that's actually kind of rude. It's actually kind of mean, it is. It's mean, right? Because you're not giving your friends the gift of meeting new people. And that is such a gift that you can give to your friends. And it's why your party can be successful when you bring all these different groups of people together. It is so special and magical. It's great.

Coach Maddox  26:40  
Yes. And I want to call out that there's a big difference in that authoritative host that gives the gift of truly connecting with people as opposed to the trauma of standing in a room full of strangers.

Nick Gray  26:57  
Yeah, the trauma. And we have

Coach Maddox  27:01  
all been at a party where we walked away feeling traumatized. I know, I have, you know, when when you don't venture out and talk to somebody, and you leave and you go home? Yes, we feel like shit. I know. I feel like I never do in that way. Because now we're feeling like I didn't even have enough balls to go up and talk to anybody. Or if we did talk to him, and then they threw that drink in our face or just turned and walked away. You know, we leave feeling so defeated. And it doesn't have to be that way.

Nick Gray  27:33  
Yeah, it's true. It doesn't have to be that way. It's not rocket science to this is not rocket science. Anybody can do this. And so the success that Maddox has had in hosting this doesn't mean just well, oh, obviously he can do it because he hosts a podcast, and he's a great coach. And he does all this. Anyone can learn how to do this. That's what we want to share. Absolutely.

Coach Maddox  27:57  
Anyone can learn to do this. I have a friend. He's mid 40s. straight man. We've been friends for about a decade. never had anyone into his home, never entertained, never thrown a party never done anything like this. And oddly, he found your book about the same time I did. And we were reading them. And we were planning our parties and didn't know that each other was doing that. And then I read his invitation. And I went, have you been reading the two hour cocktail party? And he said, Yes, I said, Me too. And we got the greatest laugh. But he recently it was like, two weeks ago, he had his first party. And it was a knock down drag out success. And he had no party experience whatsoever. And was really like, Okay, I'm not the person who pulls off parties. That is so not me. And he decided to do it because he just sees the value in connection and community. We're living in a time when the way the world is right now is not conducive to connection and communication. Right? We've got to swim against the stream if we're going to have connection and community. Yep. And so my friend's swim against the stream. He has to disperse party, but he read the book. He followed the instructions and his party was a screaming success.

Nick Gray  29:14  
So cool. That happened. Did he email me I forgot if he reached out to me, I forgot.

Coach Maddox  29:21  
It's T V T. V. E. Did you hear? Oh,

Nick Gray  29:24  
yes. I talked to him. The oh my gosh, that's your friend that's made for you. Thank you for that connection. I just talked to him recently. He had such a good party. He's a he's a good guy. He's a good dude.

Coach Maddox  29:38  
He is an amazing human being. I love this man. I thought he could be my brother and I couldn't possibly love him more.

Nick Gray  29:47  
So cool. That's it. I just talked to him. Yes, yes, he did a great job.

Coach Maddox  29:52  
So I want to hear now maybe a little bit about as you begin to work through the key inks, you were throwing hundreds of parties in New York City. What was the result of that you went from? Okay, I just moved to NYC, I don't know anybody. I'm lonely, I'm isolated. I'm awkward. I'm tired of going to places and not talking to people. You started and as, as it unfolded, what did that produce in your life? What What was the result?

Nick Gray  30:25  
One of the first things that happened to me that I noticed that was very unique, was people started to introduce me to their friends, saying, Oh, you have to meet Nick, he hosts these awesome parties. And that never happened to me in my life before nobody would ever say Oh, you have to meet Nick. Like, it's just I don't know, I'm not like, super tall or muscular. I'm not a musician or an artist, nobody's out there saying you have to meet this guy. And then I started to host these parties. And people would say that. And I found that people would just come into my life that I wasn't even trying to meet. Now I'm getting all these people that I get to meet. That was one of the most surprising things I started to hear. And now I'm hearing from others, the same thing starts to happen as they become known as a person who host parties, people come into their life without even them. And it still happens. This week, I just got introduced to two new people today who just moved to Austin, my friend said, Oh, my gosh, we invite them to one of their parties. So that was a benefit I got early. I think I also just learned a little bit about group dynamics, I talk in my book at the end about how I went to a fancy event. And I didn't know anybody there, I would have been very intimidated in the past by all these people. But I think and I don't know, I was never good at small talk. But now at least I can hold my own in an event or I don't know people. It's a muscle that you build and talking to people. And so now I may present myself as someone who's very confident and now going, but oh my god during my parties. By the way, one of my favorite things to do is I'll go sneak into my bedroom and just like lay down on the bed and like read Twitter, I'll just kind of recharge my batteries for five minutes. Because it takes a lot, right, it is hard to be a host, but I'll go sneak out of my own. So I'm not like a super, super turbo extrovert. But those are some of the benefits that I've gotten. And then of course, I launch my business, I launched this multimillion dollar company called Museum Hack. After years of hosting parties. I use that network that I built to help me launch a business and that was just absolutely major. Well,

Coach Maddox  32:43  
and I want to drive home, you know, we tend to sometimes compartmentalize our lives. We put okay, this is over here. And this is business networking. You know, and this is over here. This is a personal or private party, and we put them in boxes. But what I'm hearing you say is, by the time you had thrown hundreds of parties in New York City, you had this huge network, and it was across every segment of your life. It wasn't just personal, even though they were fun parties. They were they weren't for the intention of bringing business people together, right yet everybody works in some kind of business. And so there was this natural thing that happened. The network that showed up for you into debt being a social network, a professional network, a resource network D all of the above. Yeah,

Nick Gray  33:33  
it really was I didn't think about the buckets and keeping people separate, I found that I was more successful if I could bring everyone together. I didn't think about oh, these business friends and oh, these personal friends. I like mixing it up. And I think that's what makes my parties successful. It's the diversity of attendees. It's not just diversity in race, which is what we most commonly speak about, you know, they say, the shape and the shade of your genitals is what people think about diversity most often. But it's more than that. It's the age groups of people. It's their occupational diversity. There's a lot more that can make a party group diverse. And so I think that's a really nice thing. Yeah,

Coach Maddox  34:19  
I agree. And, and I really try to I love diversity. I try to build diversity into everything I do. my circle of friends, any parties that I throw, doesn't matter what I it adds interest, people that are different than me are interesting. Yeah, there's just no, no, two ways around it. I had a thought simpler see. So we've all heard the adage. It's not what you know, it's who you know. And your story kind of proves that, Nick, you built this and huge network of people. And then when you have started to launch your business or to do anything, anything you you wanted to achieve in life. You knew that there were people in that circle of influence that you could reach out to for whatever it was you needed. Yeah, yeah, there's so much value in having community. And yet, it's where we write historically right now we're putting less time and energy into that than perhaps we ever have in history.

Nick Gray  35:26  
It's true, it's true. And I think you said something there that I want to try to riff on. I built my network first, the idea of it's not what it's who you know, right? I built that. First, by hosting the parties, I didn't try to start a business and then host parties to launch it, I started to give first, and that is a true core concept of who I am, in that I try to give people the maximum value. If you want to host parties, if you want better friends, if you want to be surrounded by a group of people that can lift you up, you kind of got to give to them. First, you need to be doing cool things yourself, I don't want to use that word cool to say that this is only a party for cool people. But I mean, if you want to be surrounded by people doing great things, you need to do great things yourself. And the easiest way to do that is to start to host a gathering. Everyone wants to know someone who brings people together. But the secret is, anyone can be that person. All it takes is a little party.

Coach Maddox  36:33  
Exactly. And keyword, little, because you recommend that the parties be between 15 and 20 people

Nick Gray  36:40  
15 to 20 people. That's it. That's the secret number

Coach Maddox  36:43  
that's so doable. You know, I recall, you explained that less than 15. And the energy, you don't quite have the energy that you really need, and more than 20. And then it's a little bit hard to manage. So it's just that sweet spot between 15 and 20. And you're right. Yep. My first party, there were 16 in attendance, and you'd have thought that, that you'd have thought that the nearest football stadium was full. It was It felt that way. You know, I mean, I don't live in a really tiny place. But I don't live in a really big place either. But it the party filled the whole living space of of, you know, I live in one of those stack townhomes. So it's my living spaces on the second floor, dining room, kitchen living room, and we filled it.

Nick Gray  37:35  
But the best part is that even in and it's one of the biggest complaints I hear from people, oh, my house is too small. Oh, I live in an apartment. While I still live in a studio apartment. It's basically one bedroom. I don't know if it's one bedroom or studio. But the energy in these small apartments is actually better than in these huge mansions.

Coach Maddox  37:54  
It is, you know, you can take the same number of people and put them into different size rooms. And the party where they're all spread out. You know, the psychology behind this is Wow, nobody showed up. Right? You could take that exact number of people and put them in a small space where it's kind of crowded and kind of tight. And the psychology is oh my god, this is a rockin and rollin party. You look how many people are here. Yeah. And the numbers the same? It's all governed by the space you put them in?

Nick Gray  38:26  
Yep, yep. At your party, by the way. Did you notice? Did everybody congregate in the kitchen? Or did you test moving them around a little bit.

Coach Maddox  38:38  
I took the emphasis off of the living room. Nobody ever even went into the living room. We stayed around the dining room table and in the kitchen. And the majority of them were in the kitchen because that's where the bar was. Right? I have an island in the middle of my kitchen and I set all of the bar up on the island. I put the food on the dining table. And so between the food and the drink, people stayed in that area. I seriously nobody even went into the living room and no one ever sat

Nick Gray  39:12  
down. That's which is key. By the way for listeners sitting down as the kryptonite to a successful party to a cocktail party. You know, of course you sit down at a dinner party, but a cocktail party you want people to be standing if they're able, because it helps move people around. When you sit down, you're locked in. It's very hard for someone to go up and approach a seated group to join the conversation.

Coach Maddox  39:37  
Yep, that is very true. And I took that to heart you know, I didn't ever incur I didn't put any food or drinks in their living room. I didn't encourage people to go over there. I kept everybody kind of corralled in the kitchen and dining room. We formed a circle. I have a big glass dining table. And we formed I took in the dining room chairs out to get them out of the way so nobody would sit in them and say They wouldn't take up space. And we formed a circle around the dining room table for the icebreakers where we could all face each other. Hmm. Perfect. That's really smart, insane, how wet how much they got into those icebreakers.

Nick Gray  40:18  
By the way, a secret formula if listeners are wondering what my party formula is about what happens, you can think about my name Nick and I C K, and stands for name tags. I stands for icebreakers. C stands for cocktails only no dinner, and K stands for kick them out at the end. It's only two hours long. So that's the NIC party formula. I love it. Pretty good, right? What are you going to do at your next party? Are you going to do anything different? Or is there anything new that you want to work on to build your hosting muscles?

Coach Maddox  40:59  
You know, you did talk to me about the advanced icebreakers. And I'm contemplating that I haven't made a decision yet. I was kind of waiting to see how many people ended up showing up. I may be prepared for that.

Nick Gray  41:15  
You had an amazing attendance. Hold on a second. Remember this your first party you reported that like you invited 19 and 20 came or something?

Coach Maddox  41:24  
Well, I invited 19 and 19, confirmed RSP to every guest. Biden said yes. Now, there were two at the last minute that something came up in their life that prevented them from coming. And then there was one that just no showed. Mm hmm. So I ended up with 16. That's still a really high percent of you know, when you stop, and we if you Google and say, you know, what's the average percentage of people that show up to a party, you'll find that it's probably bluer than 50%? Most

Nick Gray  41:57  
there's way less, most parties these days. 50% There's so many no shows and flaking. My thing is less ghosting and more hosting.

Coach Maddox  42:07  
Exactly. Exactly. Well. And just so the listeners know, to you have taught in your book, you teach so many things that while they seem small and subtle, they make huge difference. You know, the way you invite the people and the way you talk to him about it, you've got them so engaged, that they wouldn't dream of not coming unless something emergency comes up, you know, right. And that's what happened for, you know, my people that didn't, one of them would I mean, she was a CPA, and it was tax night that night. Yeah, yeah, she worked all night long, you know, and was bummed that she couldn't come to the party. But yes. I think that the party now that's next week, I have 18 Yes. RSVPs. And I don't I've gotten one person that said, you know, it's weeknights are really, really hard for me. One out of all the people that I invited only one declined all the rest. Confirmed. That's pretty good.

Nick Gray  43:13  
It's pretty good. And it's one of the reasons that we host these parties. I suggest hosting the parties on only Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday nights, because those are non socially competitive nights, their green level days, a red level days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, people are out there busy. A red level is a holiday weekend. Don't try to host your party on a red level day. You want it to be successful with full attendance. So make it easy. Make it easy for you and make it easy for your guests to say yes to your invitation.

Coach Maddox  43:46  
Yeah, yeah, it's a it's a system. And it it works. If you work it, it works. Yeah, that's true. So the next part of your story is you left New York City and moved to Austin, Texas, where you didn't know a soul there either.

Nick Gray  44:03  
Yeah, it's true. I didn't know I knew a couple people. I want to be honest, I knew a couple people. But I did not have a lot of friends here. I did not know a lot of friends. But what I did know was the formula for how to make a lot of friends. And that's to get to town and start to meet people and host parties. And I would go out and I'd say hey, I think I'm gonna host a party in a couple of weeks. If I do, can I send you the information, start to collect people's info. And then when I had enough I hosted the party, wash, rinse, repeat. I just kept doing that. I probably when I moved here was hosting every two weeks, which sounds like a lot. Don't. Please don't hear that and say, Oh, I can't do that. I'm just telling you. I've hosted hundreds I knew how to do it. It was easy for me. And within two or three months, I had a huge busy social life filled calendar because I knew what to do.

Coach Maddox  44:55  
Yeah, that's pretty amazing. Pretty amazing. You Yeah, you had perfected it in New York. So when you got to Austin, it was like, you know, easy. It was easy. So what would you if you were going to drop? Just the number one wisdom bomb on the listener? What would that be?

Nick Gray  45:23  
Number one wisdom balm. Well, I want to encourage people to try to take the challenge to host their first party. And sometimes it can seem big and scary and wild. And I would encourage you to just take the challenge, and know that if Maddox is saying this, if it can be successful, you can see hundreds of other people on my website that I've read my book, and accepted the challenge that things will work. But if I can give them the biggest knowledge bomb. Hmm. I think the biggest benefits come when you can make hosting a habit to know that everybody wants to be invited to a party. Even if you're nervous about inviting someone I can tell you from hosting hundreds of parties myself, no one has ever gotten mad that I invited them to the party instead, the opposite. They're thankful they're grateful. They remember me. They invite me to their parties. They say hi to me at the grocery store. They remember my name. And that for me. I mean, I was not a popular kid in high school. It's not like I was bullied, but I did not. I wasn't popular. And now I feel popular. I don't know. Is that something to think about? Is that weird to talk about being popular as we get older? I don't know.

Coach Maddox  46:37  
No, it's not, you know, because I think that the nature of the way you're doing it, it's not just popularity. It has an element that feels like popularity. But what you're describing is that you've become desirable, popular with a specific group of people and those people. It's not a superficial thing, like the popularity that we experienced when we were in high school. These are people that you have bonded with that you have a really a real connection with. It's not surfacey. Yeah, yeah. And that's that that's a big, that's a real big difference to me. Yeah.

Nick Gray  47:19  
And like you said, at the beginning of this, we're lonely. There's a loneliness epidemic happening. And it's not just in the gay community, it's men, specifically, straight or gay, have a hard time making friends. And as we get older, we need them more than ever. We so if you don't ever, we need them more than ever. And if you don't want to do this for yourself, I'd encourage you host a party for your friends. Give them the gift, give to your community, and the benefits will come back tenfold.

Coach Maddox  47:52  
Beautiful. I love it, Nick. This has been great. This has you know, a lot of my episodes are around heavy topics. And they're pretty serious. And this has been really a fun episode to record because there's just been so much energy, and I'm loving everything about this. I'm loving everything I'm doing. So this was a very fun thing to talk about for me.

Nick Gray  48:19  
Well, I can't wait. It'll be fun to come back in a year or something. And I bet that you'll be hosting so many events, there's going to be you know, the authentic gay man podcast meet up where listeners are going to get to gather in Dallas, Texas sometime, how cool would that be that you'll be hosting so many events. I think it'd be fun to be neat to do.

Coach Maddox  48:40  
You know, it's the authentic gay man podcast. And I just want to leave one thing on the table. And that is to step up and take this challenge that Nick is talking about is an opportunity to step more fully into your authenticity, it's an opportunity to be vulnerable. It's it is a vulnerable thing to do to host your first first party. And vulnerability is a magical thing. Because what it does is it it really does attract the people that we most want to hang out with. To us. Yep, it's happened in my life over and over and over every time I allow myself to be truly vulnerable. The ideal people come and sit right next to me. Yeah. And so this is an opportunity to step into that space to lean more deeply into your authenticity, and then to reap the rewards of that authenticity. That's true. That's true. Nick, thank you so much. This has been epic. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.

Nick Gray  49:43  
I certainly have enjoyed it and I'll give a little shout out for your listeners. If you enjoyed this podcast, please leave a review for Maddox on the authentic gay man podcast. leave a review in whatever app you listen to this in. It sure would mean a lot and help attract more people. on this mission of the authentic gay man podcast how to do for that commercial, you

Coach Maddox  50:04  
did great. Hey, I didn't pay him to do that. That was I didn't even know he was gonna do that was all on him. Thank you, Nick. And I just wanted to reiterate that in the show notes, there will be a link to Amazon where you can purchase the two hour cocktail party book by Nick. And there will also be a link to his website where you can go and check it out and see all of the other things that he does around parties. And yeah, it's really, really cool.

Nick Gray  50:33  
Yeah, cuz this is a formula. And I'll include this in show notes about how to host a happy hour, how to plan a networking event, how to host a clothing, swap, all those things you can apply this formula to. So we'll include those in the show notes. For sure. By the way, this isn't just about alcohol. If you don't drink alcohol, neither do I. But we use that phrase cocktail party, because it's an easy, lightweight social gathering. It's the most flexible of all gatherings that you can be successful with.

Coach Maddox  51:00  
Yes, and I'm glad you said that because I rarely ever drink and I the party I through I drink water all evening long. So it's yeah, it's alcohol is present. But that doesn't mean you have to have to go there if you're not a person who drinks. Oh, yeah. Nick, thank you so much. Thanks for having me as a guest Great to meet everybody. It was awesome.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Nick GrayProfile Photo

Nick Gray

Author, CEO

Nick Gray is an entrepreneur and author living in Austin, Texas. He started and sold two successful companies: Flight Display Systems and Museum Hack. Nick is the author of The 2-Hour Cocktail Party, a step-by-step handbook that teaches you how to build big relationships by hosting small gatherings. Over 75,000 people have watched his TEDx talk about why he hates most museums. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and New York Magazine called him a host of “culturally significant parties.”