How to attract people you can count on — in life, love + business.


I aspire to be the kind of person that Mister Rogers would be proud of.

The kind of person who gets dressed up — and shows up.
The kind of person that friends feel comfortable calling at 4am, with a genuine crisis.
The kind of person who never (ever!) cancels a commitment at the last minute via text message, without a trace of remorse.

I’m getting there.

I’ve noticed, though, that over the past couple of years, I’ve started to attract increasingly steady, sane & reliable people into my life. And (not surprisingly) this phenomenon is directly proportionate to my own ever-increasing steadiness, sanity & reliability.

Here’s how I’ve learned to attract people I can count on — including some of the language I use, to hold commitments in place.

❤ Lay down the law — with a dash of love.

It’s an unfortunate truth, but when you give people even a little bit of wiggle room — they usually take (advantage of) it. I know, because I’ve seen it. Annnd I’ve done it.

That’s why I established a new policy for workshop registrations. It looks a little something like this:

Once you make your payment, your workshop registration is non-refundable.

If you are unable to come, you can absolutely give or sell your ticket to somebody else. If we have a waiting list for the event, I’ll do my best to help match you up with that ‘somebody’.

But, except for highly unusual circumstances (think: illness, divorce, heartbreaking catastrophe) I don’t offer straight-up refunds. Thank you for understanding.

It’s sensible, sane & humane. And, it helps me keep a rock-solid headcount for each workshop. WIN!

❤ Model the behavior you want to see.

Un-flaky people are attracted to their fellow un-flaky people. The easiest way to become … less flaky? Use resentment as a litmus test to guide you into projects & relationships that genuinely light you up.

When you commit to something you love, that’s a commitment you tend to keep.

❤ Use shame … sparingly.

Once upon a time, when I was a shamefully flaky 18 year old, my then-sister-in-law invited me over for dinner. In my spongy adolescent brain, this meant “come over, or not, it’s cool, whatever.” But to her, this meant, “buy a special organic Cornish Game Hen, lovingly roast it for hours, set out the nice china.”

When I texted (I know, I know, it’s heinous) to cancel a few hours before dinner, she was understandably upset. And she gave me a schoolin’ I will never forget. And you know what? Her shamestorm genuinely affected me. I resolved to grow up, on the spot.

❤ Trust the beginning.

Buddhists often say: “As in the beginning, so in the middle, so in the end.” Which basically means: if someone seems unreliable the first time you meet them, that’s probably how they’re going to be … for the duration of your relationship.

Of course, people do change — all the time. They change their minds. They change their jobs. They change their haircuts. But when it comes to deeply-embedded habits — chronic tardiness, disorganization, lying — people rarely change overnight. So the question becomes: how many nights are you willing to wait?

❤ Express your appreciation.

Mister Rogers used to sign off his hand-written letters (and later, emails) with four simple words: “I’m Proud Of You.”

His friends, family & TV production staff completely adored him — and were deeply devoted to him, right through the end.

The lesson? Expressing your affection & gratitude inspires people to rise to the occasion, to stick by your side, and to bend over backwards for you.

I’m a big fan of tangible gifts (I love sending out BirchBox subscriptions & Vosges chocolate — people are rarely disappointed!). I’m also a staunch advocate for courageous compliments, unexpected love notes, and purposeful praise.

Try starting with: “I can always count on you to …” / “It’s so refreshing how you …” / “I really appreciate the way you …”

❤ Know what you want.

Is there anything sexier than clarity? Nope.

If you make precise declarations – “I’m looking for an assistant who knows more about WordPress than God himself, and can proofread like an English major hopped up on a gallon of green tea.” — then people have a chance to step up, and deliver.

If you’re vague & open-ended with your requests, well … that’s what you’re gonna get served.

❤ When all else fails: accept flaws & fold them into your rhythm.

Let’s say you’ve got an amazing friend who is chronically fifteen minutes late (to everything!) but incredible in every other way. You know what? You can probably handle it.

You can try giving her a deceptively-early arrive time (“Oh yes, it begins at 10:35am. Sharp.”) and then bring a nice book, just in case. She’s worth it. You’ll live.


Your turn! How do YOU attract people you can count on?
Any magic spells, boundary-making potions, or common-sense techniques we oughta know about?


business // acceleration devotion // liberty


How to attract people you can count on in life, love + business: via @alex_franzen #biz

Alexandra, thank you for pointing to some great ways to create a solid foundation of “peeps” to weave into our fabric of life we’re each looming. As I mentally run my hand over the nubby, rich, highly textural life I am weaving, I have tremendous appreciation for the places that are knotted and flawed as I remember working through relationship challenges that formed these “blemishes” and I find myself profoundly grateful for the learnings those knots and flaws represent, even as my foundation grows stronger.

Betsy McDowell on Mar 11, 2013 Reply

I want to speak to the flipside of being reliable – yes it’s great to be that, but you can get a lot of flak if you ever slip from those standards for whatever reason and secretly I think it can be seen as boring and not as interesting as the flaky fun person….and you get asked to do things a lot….

How to attract people you can count on — in life, love & business. | Alexandra Franzen via @alex_franzen Yes! to this

I’ve been trying to be more transparent and say how I feel. Putting everything out on the table encourages others to do the same. And having open communication has really helped my relationships.

I’ve also been making a real effort to do what I say I’m going to do….immediately. I’m responding to emails, returning phone calls and getting information to the right people in a prompt matter. I appreciate when people do that for me so I’m trying to preemptively return the favor.

As per usual, you have read my mind. This is FANTASTIC. Any suggestions for how to establish a boundary in one of those situations where it’s already gone down a bad road?

(And I am the lovely friend who is chronically 15 minutes late, and not going to change. I frequently tell my ever-so-punctual bestie that she needs to stop getting so upset about it, and just embrace the extra 15 minutes of free time.)

P.S. I will NOT be signing up for the once-a-month list, but if you open up a “twice a day, every day” AFranz communique option, I’m there :)

Beautiful! I’ve had my share of flaky people (comes with the territory due to my line of work) and what I have learned to do:

BE the poster child for reliability ‘n dependability (when I say I am going to do something, I do it – on time, no excuses)

When people see that I behave in that manner, they seem to want to straighten up and fly right. The ones that don’t seem to drift off to whatever la la land they like to inhabit. Or I simply stop putting energy into them and then I drift off in to reliability land (my favorite place to be!).

Ah boundaries….always a challenge but so necessary.

OMG. I was just having a conversation with a girlfriend about this yesterday – Perfect timing as always x

Such an inspiring post for me at this moment, Alex. It met me at precisely perfect moment. I don’t have any magic spells – just straightforward truth (like it or leave it), kindness, and little visualizing :-)

Love this because I have some additional inside information on our dear Mr. Rogers. He was nice: very, very nice. AND he was very, very clear about his expecations and demanded that you live up to them. When I was in kindergarten, my school went to be part of his show. We got to see the stage and the land of make believe and the train (which was surpisingly tiney). Then, we went to the filming stage and were instructed to do various dances/moves going round and round in a circle. Mr. Rogers and Lady Aberlin were there to assist. Mr. Rogers told us in a very stern voice (not that nice one he used on TV) that we couldn’t stop going in our circle. That if we did, we’d have to do it all over again. I was scared I was going to mess up, so I just went and sat in Lady Aberlin’s lap (she was very cozy).
Looking back, he was setting the expectation, and he got it……it was a success. And a great lesson for me. I still love Lady Aberlin more than Mr. Rogers.

Amen. Thank you.

How to attract people you can count on — in life, love & business. | Alexandra Franzen via @alex_franzen

You said it all sista!

Can I use that Mr. Rogers, love love :) :)

I so love this! In a course once we practiced doing EXACTLY what we said we would do for one week. I was pretty shocked at how difficult that was. From that experience I learned to be more conscious about what I commit to. Sometimes is means saying no with love. It also gives me more compassion for others when they don’t quite live up to what they say they would do.

Maya Angelou said: “When someone tell you who they are, believe them.”

The juicy detailed story of learning this the hard way? Dated someone once (for six years) that spontaneously in the beginning of our relationship booked us for a weekend away, planned dinner dates, and was excited to engage in neighbourhood adventures with me – even cooked us dinner. It was lovely. But sometimes as he was telling me what he had in store he would also say: “I never do things like this.” (The grand hint that I didn’t take … but didn’t engage in further. Today I might have asked: “Why are you doing this now if this doesn’t feel like something you do?”).

He was right. After the very beginning, he never did anything like that again. I planned and pushed our relationship uphill from there for five years. At the end of our relationship he shared that he did “all that stuff” in the beginning because that’s what you do in the beginning to set the relationship up. Major difference in values because I liked who he was most at the beginning of our relationship and hung onto the beginning of our relationship long after it ceased to exist.

So, then I started paying more attention to who does what all along. Because I know that we want to be our ideal selves, but behaviour is more revealing than words. Ideally, the two match and when I looked for that, and trusted that, I was in better company. Haven’t looked back since.

Wow, that’s just perfect. Thank you – I try to be reliable, but in my enthusiasm about new stuff, I can have a tendency to jump into something without figuring out if I have the time/energy/money to commit properly – which in the past has caused me a load of trouble. I don’t do it so much now, but I do have to really force myself to hold back so that I don’t have to let people down, and as a result, people don’t let me know. Yeaaaahhh!
And I love the point about using shame sparingly – I prefer to wiggle my way out of telling someone if they stepped over the line, and it always bites me back on the bum because they’ll just do the same thing again. Annoying but my own fault. Being a mum has helped me a lot, but I do need to turn that around in my biz too!
Thanks a gazillion!

So true… We have to embody the qualities we are seeking in others so that we can resonate that out into the universe. I created one of my oils around this exact theme a few years ago “Intregrity” (I honour my commitments to myself”. I went through a phase of feeling disappointed and let down with people and then had to really ask myself “where am I not showing up or following through for me?”. When I started to become more aware and changing my behaviour, everyone else around me became much more solid and then surprised me in the best possible way with how supportive they are…. A great reminder! x

This is a great kick in the pants for me!

I’ll admit it: there are times when I have flaked out on my friends or on plans. It seems to be almost the “norm” here in NYC, but it is never okay! Yes, we’re totally stressed out and pulled in a million directions, but we need to exercise the power of “NO” not a case of “Maybe”. Maybe is for pansies.

Hmm..I think I just got an idea for my next blog post! Thanks for the inspiration, Alex!

Once again, the timing of your posts is laugh out loud serendipitous and I’m totally bookmarking this one! For ages I agonized about being late for stuff, particularly because it it really clashed with the rest of who I am – responsible, supportive, loyal, thoughtful, always prepared to put the effort in. Then I looked at who and what I was late for – it was always stuff I was really uncomfortable about and the lateness was anxiety-driven 99% of the time. I’m not saying that everyone that’s flaky and is late for stuff is suffering from anxiety and I’m certainly not saying if you’re late for stuff let yourself off the hook, but the resentment can come in different forms and if you notice a pattern, look at it for goodness sake – it took me AGES to cotton on to and since then it’s saved me so much stress!

Soops on Mar 12, 2013 Reply

This is exactly what I needed to read Alexandra! I attract my clients by being extremely clear around the type of women I want to work with. She resonates from my heart.

Standing ovation slow clap, girl. <3

I have two beloved friends who were always, ALWAYS late. Whereas others around them were responding with “Oh well”, I didn’t let them off the hook.

I named it each time: you’re late. You were late last time too. I asked THEM if we needed to set a “fake” earlier time. I brought it to their attention and made it clear that I was going to name it every time it happened.

By holding that – naming, noticing, not just letting it go – they have both become people who are gorgeously punctual… for me at least ;)

I like it when others hold that kind of expectation of me too, when they name where I’m being flaky. It causes me to step up and show up.

Great post, thanks Alex.

Attract people you can count on — in life & in business. @alex_franzen tells you how:

Ok, this will be the only comment of a man here. But I really like your web site Alexandra.

And this post talk to me soooooo much. I have a site web/business too, and I attract a lot of people who just want to take advantage of me. People not really sane or reliable.

It can be really frustrating… :)

Your post give me hope, that some day the right ones will show up in my life.

I don’t know the right fomula to attract the right people other than to be true to myself, but I know how to reject bad people. Haha. With no remorses.

Thanks for your great blog, and your cute face. ;)

Wonderful post that rings very true. Modeling the behavior you want to see is probably one of the most important ways to get it in return, and it’s also the one I struggle most with when it comes to punctuality and texting. I hate when someone cancels/lets me know of a 20-minute delay via text at the last minute and I try never to do that, but it does sometimes happen. Each day is a step closer to being the reliable and patient but assertive friend I’d like to be. Thanks for the radiant advice!

I love your pieces more and more :) !

I agree except for the part about shame. Shame is toxic.

Such a great article, and a worthwhile read… something I hope to put into practice. It’s quite timely for me. :)

Your blog also seems to be full of some great readers and commenters with good sense (not that I’m included myself, haha!). But it seems you are attracting quality readership as well as relationships– something that recommends your blog. :)

This is awesome! I can see that I’ve been attracting flaky because I explained what I wanted in a flaky way. When I took the time to actually articulate what it is that I need, people could immediately see if they fit in that description or not. Less admin, too. LOVE this post!

Your website is a portal to wonderfulness. I love how the overall attitude is super positive but also real, authentic. I find that combo rare, indeed. So, thanks!

What I like about this post–and aspire to myself, but find it challenging–is that you bring up the skeevy and handle it with loving kindness–Mr. Rogers *would* be proud!–without bitterness or rancor.

I love that. I will use this as an example when I’m writing and go all Darth Vader, lost on the dark side. I will remember this, and look again, and see if I can find a way to look under rocks with angel eyes like you do.

Many blessings upon your halo!

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