Founder’s Chronicle: Vanessa Van Edwards of The Science of People

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)



scienceofpeopleWhat is The Science of People, and how did you get started in the field?

I'm an author and behavioral investigator. If I could, I would call myself a professional people watcher because I speak, write and endeavor to crack the code of interesting human behavior.

My specialty is human lie detection and body language in business. But my unique approach has reached all audiences on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and The Wall Street Journal. Simply put, I got started in this field because people were lying to me, and I wanted to find a way to stop it.

People lie all the time — about two to three times during a 10-minute interaction. I began to study the science of fraud detection and realized I could equip myself with tools to read body language and hidden emotions. This has changed my life and my business. I had no idea how much I was missing.

I speak and write about interesting human behavior and teach companies and individuals how spotting lies and hidden emotions can improve sales, HR efficiency and leadership.

How can individuals in the marketing/advertising industry (i.e. agencies, CMOs) use The Science of People to create either more impactful end-results or enhance in-house performance?

Only 7 percent of our communication is verbal. 93 percent of our communication is through body language, tone of voice and facial expressions. Do you know what you are communicating to the world? Probably not.

Most people make marketing videos, ads or brochures only thinking about the verbal content. They don't think about what the body language of the video is saying, what the model's face is communicating or the psychological meaning of color.

Managers and HR directors also don't think about using nonverbal communication to make better hires, lessen office friction and improve work relationships.

Body language can completely change everything about the way you do business and make you more profitable.

How is body language and lie detection study being used in the marketplace? How would you like to see this evolve?

Body language and human lie detection is only really used in government agencies and security companies. I want to bring the techniques that law enforcement, FBI and CIA agents use into the work world.

We have just as high of stakes and interact in just as high-pressure environments. We need to know what our bodies are saying and what other people's hidden emotions reveal to protect ourselves and be more successful.

As an entrepreneur, what impact has branding had on your venture’s success so far? How do you approach marketing? With whom do you collaborate to get your message out to your target audience?

Branding is everything. Having a clear message and target audience has been essential to our success. When you don't have strong branding, people don't understand your angle, why you are different and, most importantly, why they need you.

I have used the media to get my message across. Nothing speaks better than a hard-hitting CNN video. When a well-respected media outlet lists your title and experience in their video, there is no better positioning.

What entrepreneurial ideas and start-up lessons can advertising professionals apply to creating breakthrough work?

I can give the same advice to advertising professionals as I give to entrepreneurs:

Use power body language when persuading.

Use rapport body language when selling.

Use trust body language in your advertisements.

Many advertising professionals find themselves interested in entrepreneurship. What advice would you give to someone with marketing skills interested in starting a new venture?

Validate your idea before making the big leap. If you have an idea, start it on evenings and weekends. Ask your friends about it, then ask strangers, then ask the meanest person you know. If you get great feedback, then think about making the big jump as an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs need to be hungry, but they should not be desperate. So you don't want to leave without being able to pay your bills.

Thought leaders in marketing regularly reinforce the idea that agencies (and other marketing-oriented organizations, too) should collaborate with startups. Do you agree? Why? How would you like agencies to collaborate with your organization?

I wish more agencies collaborated with me. For example, I would love to be able to critique ads that do and do not work for audiences or agencies themselves. Often the reason an ad or campaign didn't “resonate” is because the nonverbal communication —what's behind the words — was off. I would love to work with agencies but also use agencies’ successes and failures as case studies to learn from.

vanessa-van-edwardsVanessa Van Edwards is a published author and techpreneur.

As an acclaimed writer and behavioral investigator, Vanessa is a professional people watcher—speaking, writing and cracking the code of interesting human behavior for audiences around the world. Her specialty is human lie detection and body language in business. But the unique approach of her company, the has reached all audiences on CNN, Forbes, Business Week and the Wall Street Journal and she is a sought after consultant and speaker.

Vanessa is a published Penguin author and a Huffington Post columnist. She regularly gives keynotes and appears in the media to talk about her research.

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