Nick Gray is the Founder of Museum Hack, a company that does renegade museum tours. He’s on a mission to help people make more friends, grow their network, and enrich their lives.
He recently authored a book called The 2-Hour Cocktail Party that teaches you how to have more parties and bring more people together. Everyone wants a friend who does that! Nick is actually one of my good friends here in Austin and just a great personality to be around. I can’t wait to share some of what we talked about and where he gets his inspiration!
Let’s get to know Nick Gray!
Why Should You Host a Party
The average American adult hasn’t made a new friend in over 3 years. That’s wild!
Nick wants to help people – even shy, introverted people – cut through the fake crowd to find and build a genuine crew.
On my podcast interview with Nick, we talked a lot about the importance of being authentic, how to be successful in small business, and how to live life more richly.
The goal of my podcast is to continue to add value. We want you to be inspired to do great things, and Nick’s going to drop some gems for us today.
Transparency and Being Genuine
When I asked Nick what inspired him in his quest to bring more people together, he started with a story about trying to make friends in a big city.
“I lived in New York for 13 years and I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t know how to make friends. And I remember I read online somewhere that you could go up to people and say, “Hey, what’s up, are you guys friendly?”
It’s such a stupid thing to say, you’re laughing at it now, but it kind of works actually, right? It’s like, yeah, I guess we’re friendly. Like you have to be a real asshole to say, “No, I’m not friendly.”
I just like to meet people. And I think, I always try to think, how can I give a lot of value before I try to take anything from somebody. How can I help them before I even think about how they can help me?”
How did transparency and being genuine become a pillar of your brand?
Nick realized the value of authenticity and being vulnerable through social media. Sharing real, authentic things (like the fact that he was losing his hair) would always elicit a thousand people wanting to talk through DMs and comment, but nobody wanted to reply publicly. They were too embarrassed.
“There are so many people online that are promoting themselves as such big deals. And I don’t know. I think really genuine people can see through that and you can see through all the fake people out there, and look, I don’t always have the best days. I’m having a skin breakout. I’m balding. I got, I got problems. Just like anybody else…”
Learning lesson: Being authentic and vulnerable online works the same way in person. The more “real” you are, the easier it is to make friends. It shows your transparency and how people can relate. It resonates with them.
You Are Who You Hang With
What I love most about Nick is that he’s always looking for new friends who he can learn from.
And according to Jim Rohn, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Nick and I love this phrase!
The people who we surround ourselves with inspire us. We become more like them. And so it is important that we think about who we spend most of our time with.
“We can choose our friends, and the people who we surround ourselves with inspire us. We become like they are. So think about who you hang out with and how much that person adds into your life. Are they taking your life? That’s hard. That’s some hard medicine.”
Are these people adding value, or are they taking away from your life?
The lesson: Cultivate your group of friends. Learn how to build relationships that inspire you.
The 2-Hour Cocktail Party
In relation to creating new relationships and growing your network, Nick’s book The 2-Hour Cocktail Party has everything you need to host life-changing parties for you and your guests.
Nick has learned the social dynamics at play because of all his experience hosting parties at home.
And so in his book, he carefully wrote all that he learned so that you can grow your own network and help others connect with new people, too.
The Perfect Party Formula
Nick’s book outlines a few pro tips that really shape a gathering.
The basics are:
Decide you’re going to host a party and commit to it.
Pick a date for your party three weeks from now, ideally on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday night.
Keep the length of your party to two hours.
Invite your friends, colleagues, and neighbors.
Ask everyone to RSVP and confirm their attendance.
Space out three reminder messages with fun, relevant information.
At the party, do these four things:
Use name tags with first names only.
Facilitate three quick icebreakers.
Take a group photo.
End the party on time.
On Having More Fun
When I asked Nick about his plans for the year, he said that he plans to live more vibrantly.
“I want to live a little more vibrantly. I want to have interactions with people where I choose the difficult way.”
His philosophy is: If it’s not fun, try to make it more fun. Or just leave!
“Let’s say that you got to see a movie with a friend. You have paid to go see that movie and halfway through the movie, you’re thinking, this movie kind of sucks. There’s two ways to go. You can either keep sitting through the movie, or you can say to your friend, Hey, does this kind of suck? Let’s just leave. Let’s just bounce. Right?”
Anybody can become the center of their local community or neighborhood. And one way to do that is by hosting parties.
You can learn how to bring people together. All it takes is a simple two-hour party.
Connect with Nick Gray and get some real-time party advice here:
Nick Gray on Instagram
Nick Gray on Twitter
How to Host a Party
How to Host a Happy Hour
How to Plan a Networking Event
Jeff: Nick, I’m so glad that you’re here today. Y’all, Nick is one of my good friends here in Austin, and I was just telling him before we even got started with the recording, that he’s just walking inspiration and he has a big smile or a wonderful personality, and you just get good energy every time you’re around Nick. So Nick, welcome again.
Nick: Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Happy to talk to anybody who’s listening. I hope you get something valuable out of this interview with Jeff. I’m going to try to help you out and add value. I love it.
Jeff: And that’s the main thing with this podcast that we want to continue to add value. We want you to be inspired to do great things, and Nick’s going to drop some gems for us today.
Jeff: So Nick, you’re always on the lookout for new friends and you make it a point to share your life online in a transparent and authentic way. So how did transparency and being genuine become a pillar of your brand?
Nick: I am tired of these fake hoes out there, Jeff. There’s too many fake people out there. And that’s why you said, how do I be genuine? I’m always looking for new friends. I think that, you know, I’m always looking for the next friend that can change my life. Like I’ve learned a lot from you. I’ve learned a lot from Matt, who we met through nomadic Matt, and I think it’s just, it’s great to meet new people. So I always like to meet new people.
Nick: Um, what’s the deal with being off.. second question…
Jeff: Okay. Wait one second. So as you move, it goes in and out.
Nick: As I move?
Jeff: Yeah. So as you like, turn…
Nick: Oh the audio
Jeff: Yeah, audio wise.
Nick: I’m so glad that you told me that. So let me think what I can do about that. I can always, I guess, try to look at the mic.
Jeff: Well, I mean, whatever the direction is. Yeah. It’s just more so the direction. Right now, it sounds good. But when you start looking off.. yeah, it goes in and out.
Nick: Good. I’m so glad that you said that. Um, let me just pull up, hold on a second.
Jeff: No problem.
Nick: Oh, I do like the little reminder here. Hold on a second.
Nick: Cool. Um, okay, good.
Jeff: Can I get you to just answer the question over again?
Nick: Yes, yes, yes. I’m going to redo it. Uh, how does transparency and just being genuine? How does that become a pillar? Is that the question generally? You know what, I think I’m just tired of fake people. There are so many people online that are promoting themselves as such big deals. And I don’t know. I think really genuine people can see through that and you can see through all the fake people out there, and look, I don’t always have the best days. I’m having a skin breakout. I’m balding. I got, I got problems. Just like anybody else. Um, a funny story, which probably isn’t even what you want to know, but…
Jeff: Please, I love to hear it.
Nick: I share a lot of stuff on my story. And one thing, I’m an older guy. I’m 40 years old. I am losing my hair.
This is a normal thing. As men get older, we lose our hair. It’s so funny, Jeff, because I share so much stuff.
And that’s one thing that whenever I share it, a thousand people want to comment and talk to me in my DMs about it, but nobody wants to reply to it kind of publicly because they’re too embarrassed. They’re too embarrassed to talk about it. Um, so anyhow..
Jeff: Well, that shows your transparency and how you putting it out there, how people can relate and it resonates with them. And I even learned that even just being a plus size man, and actually talking about my plus size travel adventures, some people don’t want to put it on, but they’ll DM me. They’ll let me know their insecurities or anything that they’re going through in that regard. And it’s always been encouraging to me to see that because the more authentic we can be, the more people can resonate with it. And how do you actually leverage this authenticity to grow your network and further your career?
Nick: The idea to grow my network, when I first moved to New York city. So I lived in New York for 13 years and I didn’t have a lot of friends. I didn’t know how to make friends. And I remember I read online somewhere that if you would go up to people and if you would ask them and say, “Hey, what’s up, are you guys friendly?”, It’s such a stupid thing to say, you’re laughing at it now, but it kind of works actually, right? It’s like, yeah, I guess we’re friendly. Like you have to be a real asshole to say, “No, I’m not friendly.” And how do I use it to grow my network? I just like to meet people. And I think, I always try to think, how can I give a lot of value before I try to take anything from somebody. And so I’m thinking a lot about that. How can I give.. How can I meet new people? How can I help them before I even think about how they can help me or how I can grow my network or something like that.
Jeff: No, I love that. What used to be one of your biggest weaknesses or obstacles you faced just as a person or even in an entrepreneurship?
Nick: I think one of my biggest weaknesses that I..
Jeff: Used to. It doesn’t have to be now, but like it used to be.
Nick: Yeah. Um, I remember when I was launching my business, I had this business called Museum Hack that did renegade museum tours. And it all started when this woman took me on a romantic date to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York city. And I built it up into a business, a big business later on, but during the early days I didn’t charge enough money for it. I didn’t really know the worth of my own services. And people really told me, “You should charge more. You should charge more.” And I resisted that for a long time and I wish I would have raised my prices sooner. I think there’s some irony in me saying things like, “I don’t like fake people.” And then on the other hand, I’m like, “Charge more!” So I don’t know how to rectify that situation.
Jeff: But how did you, in a sense, even with those situations, like, how did you, did you just do it? Like, did you just actually charge more? And he was like, “Well, here we go.”
Nick: I sort of did. I’ll tell you what I worked on for my business Museum Hack for many years as a fun hobby project. And so I refined my craft every Friday, Saturday night, weekends. I devoted myself to spending time to become the best tour guide in the whole world at this museum. And it wasn’t until I really developed it and worked on it as a hobby, then I turned it into a business. Right. So for me, I felt better about charging more because I knew that I was good. Right. And I’ve worked so long to become really good at what I did. I’m trying to think of more weaknesses. I’m sure I got plenty of weaknesses.
Jeff: No, that was perfect. That was a good one. Like, that’s a great gym right there. Like just knowing your worth. And then also what you just said, like, wow, you have me over here thinking to myself like, “Okay, all right.I need to, I need to get on that. Like, I really do. Like, I know that I am with Chubby Diaries and everything that I’m doing business wise, that I am consistently like daily, like trying to get better and better and better. I’ve committed myself to getting better and better, but actually taking some time throughout the week to reflect on some things. I think that’d be really promising for me because once again, once I am charging prices, I can be like, “Hey, I put in a lot of work. And I’m trying to make this experience one of the best experiences you ever had, uh, more value for it.”
Nick: So we were talking at the beginning about that sort of transparency. And I think that’s that authenticity, what you just said, knowing that you put in the work, that you’re good, that you’re getting results, that your friends, you hear people who write to you who know how much you’ve helped them with their travels. And you’re seeing that stuff. I think about my own journey of just being transparent or genuine and how I am in my stories that I share online, right? On my Gram.
Nick: I grew up and my dad had a fried chicken restaurant. I always worked in or lived in this people pleasing sort of environment, because as a restaurant or some other businesses, you’re sort of always in kind of the customer service mindset of helping people. And it’s that idea of giving value, I think is really big.
Jeff: I love that. I really do. Did you think this is where you would be? Like back in the day, did you think this is where you would be career wise, life wise?
Nick: No, Jeff, I’m a 40 year old balding, single man. I did not think I would be here. What the hell? No! I’m in the dumpster. I’m in the back alley. All I got is my Tesla. I got nothing else going for me.
Jeff: Please do that. What is with this day y’all. I could not..
Nick: Give me a wife. I’m done with this. I’m over, I’m outta here. I want a dog. I want a pet dog. That’s all I want.
Jeff: Well, I’ll be, and I’m guessing you want all that now because you’ve done so much so far. And like you’ve helped multiple, like organizations grow and you sold multiple businesses. Um, like what factors do you consider before deciding to work with or invest in businesses or projects?
Nick: Okay. First I want to be clear. I don’t do any type of angel or venture capital.
Jeff: For sure.
Nick: But I think that that’s a suckers’ game, unless you got like 5, 10, 20 million dollars to invest. You gotta be real careful because it’s so easy to lose. I think the best investment that you can make is probably in yourself, in your own businesses, your own learning or just buy index funds, like buy the index fund, don’t try to be a stock picker. Um, what do I think, what are the factors? I think before I decide to work or invest, I think about investing my time with new friends or my money into an investment, I look for.. I don’t really like flashy people. I’m loud and I’m sort of annoying now on the podcast. I think I would hate myself. If I met myself, I would be like, I don’t want to hang out with that asshole. Um, so I like people that are like hard workers that show up, that are humble, that are really there. I’m not looking for fancy watches, flashy cars, things like that.
Jeff: And I think that’s one thing I love about Austin. And even just being around y’all a lot of times, like y’all have a lot to boast and brag about but just even, just our group of friends and stuff like that, that I get to be around y’all are some of the most humble people I know. I mean, y’all have y’all moments, but still, I’m always in awe about y’all humility because you’re still this fun, big personality. But there’s so much humility behind that personality. And I love that so much.
Nick: Nice. I like that as your listeners are thinking about this, you’re mentioning that friend group and that peer group. You know, I do believe that you are what’s that quote, like “You’re the sum of the five people that you hang out with the most”, and we can choose our friends, you know, and the people who we surround ourselves with inspire us and we become like, they are. So think about who you hang out with and how much that person adds into your life. Are they taking your life? That’s hard. That’s some hard medicine.
Jeff: Yeah, for sure. For sure. And, and going back to just the selling of a business, like, what is life after selling a business and how do you decide what to do next?
Nick: When I sold my first business, which I wasn’t involved in for the last year of that business, I wasn’t involved. I started my new company, but I’m going to tell this story because it was so weird, many businesses, you can do sort of two things. When you sell a business, one is you sell your business and they want you to stay around for like two to five years afterwards to make sure that things go. The other way as sometimes happens is they want to buy the business and they want you out. You’re out ‘cause they got a new plan and that’s how it was with the first business that I sold. They wanted us out. And so one day you go from having 70 employees and you’re the boss and everybody’s giving you love and attention to the next day, you don’t even have keys to the office. You have nothing to do. And that’s, it’s very weird. It’s very weird. These are nice problems to have, right. That bank account, but it’s just very weird. And so I would say that it’s not, yeah. So there’s that. What else is neat about it? I would say the freedom that you now have after you’ve sold a business is absolutely incredible. The freedom to set your schedule to choose how you spend and live your life and the financial freedom that kind of comes with that. That is a gift and that’s a luxury. And a lot of people I know can struggle with that. Right. It’s like, what the hell do I do now?
Jeff: For sure. I like that. And we’re literally coming down to our last two questions and these are questions that we ask everyone on the show. But before we get to those last two questions, my question for you is: what are you most proud of?
Nick: What am I most proud of? Like looking back on just your career and everything.
Jeff: Life-wise like, what are you most proud of?
Nick: I’m proud of that. I started my museum business 10 years ago. Museums, frankly, were not as cool as they are now. They’ve come a long way. And I happened to be at the right time, at the right place to help work with a lot of people to make a lot of museums more cool. I got to work with some amazing museum educators and tour guides and standup comedians. And we worked on things to help ever so slightly move the needle of what was acceptable to do and to think in a museum space. And I think I’m most proud of being involved with that group of people, not just in my company, but the whole museum world. That’s something to be proud of. And then I’m very thankful that in my first business, it was a family business that I got to work with. My parents, it really brought us closer together. I wasn’t very close with my parents when I was in college and we really came together, working through thick and thin. And so I’m thankful for that.
Jeff: I love that. I love that. And so our last two questions, questions that we ask everybody on the show. Our first question is: what are you inspired to do in half of 2022?
Nick: I am inspired to live a little more like a crazy person. If you know me, I love wearing the color blue. I’ve tried to hire these stylists and I’m like, look, you don’t understand. I want to wear all blue. I want to dress like I’m in the circus. They are like, you are crazy. I’m not going to do it. And I’m like, I want to do that. I want to live a little more richly. I want to live a little more vibrantly. I want to have sort of interactions with people where I choose the difficult way. Let’s take an example. Let’s take a very simple example, but let’s say that you got to see a movie with a friend and you have paid to go see that movie and halfway through the movie, you’re like this movie kind of sucks and there’s two ways to go. You can either keep sitting through the movie or you can say to your friend, Hey, does this kind of suck? Let’s just leave. Let’s just bounce. Right? And nobody leaves movies. I love to leave movies. If I’m not loving it, then I’m out of there. I want to take that same attitude and approach to hanging out with friends. Hey, if this isn’t fun, let’s make it fun. How could we make this more?
Nick: So that’s what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about living more, a little more fun, a little crazier.
Jeff: I liked that. I liked that answer. I don’t think I’ve heard anybody answer anything remotely like that. So that is, that is definitely dope. I appreciate you on that one. And the last question, words of encouragement for our audience. Can you give us some.. Let me just think about it. Words of encouragement for the audience.
Nick: Okay. I’ll say something that somebody told me recently. I don’t know if it’s encouragement, all your listeners are going to do awesome. And I bet they’re great. Because if they’re even listening to you, it shows that they want to work and improve, but I’m going to give them a tip that resonated with me.I recently went to my friends, a very good friend of mine, his father’s funeral. It was sad. It was unfortunate, but it was a beautiful experience. And he said, “I really wish that I would have recorded my father talking and just sort of interacting when he was healthy and a sound mind. I wish I could have saved it. Just set up the camera and just talk, have him tell stories. What was life like?” Whether this is your family, your close friends, your extended people. Having those memories is potentially something that I was inspired to do now with my family, say, let’s just do it.
Let’s just bank that. And let’s just hold those things. That’s the important stuff. Doesn’t cost you anything to do might be a little weird, but just do it. He really wished he would have had that. So I hope I can share that forward to find some goodness out of that sad situation.
Jeff: Wow. I love that. Well, ladies and gentlemen, Nick Gray, thank you so much for being here. Is there anything that you want to bring some attention to or a shout out?
Nick: We will like your links and everything in our show notes. Yes. Yes. I want to give a shout out. I hope that they’ll append to this video, to my podcast or this part of it. I believe that anybody can become the center of your local community or neighborhood by that I’ve learned to do that is by hosting these two hour cocktail parties, I’ve written a book it’s a how-to guide, very step-by-step with specific examples and scripts that show you how to make new friends and build big relationships by hosting small gatherings. I think everybody wants somebody like Jeff, somebody like me who brings their friends together, right? That idea of people that can bring together well, the secret is that you can be that person. You can learn how to bring people together. All in Texas, is a simple two-hour party. Even if you don’t drink alcohol, I don’t, you can still do this. It’s a lot of fun. So that’s a book that I have. I think it’ll come out in may for any of your listeners. I’m happy to share it with them by email. Just shoot me an email. I’ll send you that PDF. You can send me an email at email@example.com or say, “Hey, I’m the Instagrams. I’m Nick. Great news. Any AWS? I love to make new friends. So say, “Hey, a friend of Jeff’s is a friend of mine.”
Jeff: I love it. I love it. Well, thank you so much again. Uh, and we’ll have this podcast probably coming out in May, so we’ll make sure that people get to get that book. And so, yeah. Appreciate you again, Nick.
Nick: Alright. Thanks, Jeff. Great to talk with you.
Jeff: For sure.