Hinsdale author pens guide to relationships

Every relationship begins with a first impression, and without a good one, the chances of developing a successful friendship, business partnership or romance are greatly decreased, said Joe Brocato, Hinsdale resident and author of "Hit It Off: 21 Rules for Mastering the Art and Science of Relationships in Life and Business."

"The essence of the book is really teaching readers how to develop what I refer to as unique relationships - those that are difficult, if not impossible, to replace," said Brocato, who's been a lawyer for 31 years.

The book coaches people in the roles that critical thinking and mindfulness play in the development of any relationship. That starts from the moment two people meet, Brocato said.

Each chapter explains one of Brocato's 21 rules, which include lessons in the use of eye contact, listening skills and humor, among many other things. Throughout the book, Brocato uses real-life stories to illustrate when things work, when they don't and what can go wrong. He calls the stories "train wrecks and Zen." Train wrecks are what happens when the rules aren't followed; Zen occurs when they are.

Brocato regards the book as a roadmap for people to make good first impressions and build solid relationships that help them meet their goals, whatever those goals might be. The result, he said, is better relationships and a happier life.

Brocato studied hundreds of sources while researching his latest book, which already is gaining a lot of attention. Loyola University recently added the book to its leadership curriculum, Brocato said, and he's talking to other universities, including some Ivy League institutions, about making "21 Rules" part of their required or suggested reading lists.

"I really want to create a movement around playing by these rules," he said.

Inspiration for the book came when Brocato was just 10 years old. He accompanied his grandfather to buy a new muffler for his car. Brocato witnessed his grandfather's first interaction with a man and how he instantly befriended him. The meeting left a lasting impression on Brocato, who said he became deeply interested in the whole concept of relationship development and first impressions as he entered the business world. It wasn't until the pandemic began, when Brocato missed having day-to-day contact with people, that he finally sat down to research and write his book.

"Hit it Off" had its official launch at the Oak Brook Barnes & Noble store on May 4. Brocato said the book sold out at its launch event and is doing well at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other points of sale. But he's not content to let the books sell themselves. Brocato is planning more book signings, speaking engagements and partnerships to get the book in the hands, ears and minds of as many people as possible. He's even launched a line of merchandise to remind people of the book's principles.

"You have to be able to establish connections with people," he said. "There's a way to harness the rules in my book to establish these strong emotional bonds. I believe it can really make the world a better place."

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean