Make a Good Living While Serving a Greater Good

All of us are in business to make a profit. But if that’s the primary driving force in business, we become mercenaries to that process.  I believe that I should serve a greater need than simply to make a profit. I believe that business can be honorable.  It can make a difference in individual lives as well as communities.

Small business is the engine that drives many of the economies around the world.  Small business doesn’t have the resources of large corporations.  However, if they network together – the sum of the whole becomes greater than the individual parts. Well-designed collaboration based on an effective system and strategy can lead to small business success.

However, in the final analysis, the true foundation for success rests in an organization’s culture.  In fact, I believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast.  An organization needs a sound strategy to succeed but, it needs a great culture to excel.  For me, that approach has been about creating core values around a culture of collaboration.

Core values establish culture. It’s never too late or too early to think about your core values in business and in life. Here are my core values:

  1. The Philosophy of Givers Gain®(What goes around comes around).
  2. Building Meaningful Relationships
  3. Lifelong Learning
  4. Traditions + Innovation
  5. Positive Attitude
  6. Accountability

I believe that it is possible to make a good living while serving a greater good. The core values I have tried to apply in my life and in my business have helped to create a culture of collaboration within the context of building a business. This approach is not only a great way to get business, I believe it is an even better way to do business.

Business can be honorable. It can be something that improves people’s lives as well as supports and helps local communities. It can do so, by not only helping to generate more business for one another, but by giving back to the community, mentoring others, immersing in a culture of shared learning, and by collaborating with others.

I have a big hairy audacious goal (a BHAG) for businesses around the world. I believe we can “Change the Way the World Does Business” and we can do that by incorporating core values into our business that support collaboration and positive meaningful relationships.  

We are coming up on the 30th anniversary for my company (BNI) and I believe that our focus on these core values, philosophy, and vision are responsible for our 30 years of consecutive growth. Through strong economies and serious recessions – my organization has grown year in and year out for 30 years without exception.  Few organizations can say that.   I think that is a testament to our approach to doing business.

Have you given thought to your organization’s core values? If so, share your company’s core values here. I’d love to hear your comments.

 

 

Your Contribution Lives On

The news of Robin Williams’ suicide stunned me last week. He is someone we collectively feel strongly personal about, as if we knew him as a friend. And the situation that apparently led him to take his own life – depression – just left me feeling like I had been sucker punched.

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And then it led me to some deeper and more profound thoughts. Albert Pine, an English author who wrote in the early 19th century said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains unchanged and is immortal.” There is no doubt that Robin Williams has left a mark on our world. I have spent hours laughing through one of Williams’ movies, a comedy show or even a simple interview, and I’m sure you have, too.

To paraphrase Pine, I would say the following: What we do for ourselves ends with us.  What we do for others lives on.

I certainly hope that what I do for others will live on. This shattering event has given me a moment to pause and take a look at how I have started a movement within business with the purpose to change the way we do business.

I’m so serious about this movement that I have adopted as my motto: “Changing the Way the World Does Business®”This change comes by implementing a shift in the focus of how we go about growing our businesses – from a dog-eat-dog, competitive model, to a how-can-I-help-you, collaborative model.

One of our business colleagues said recently about our mission that “we know referrals are our purpose, but impacting someone’s life is our calling.”

When doing business with the “givers gain” philosophy gets really embedded in practice, there’s a huge movement from “transactional” to “transformational relationships,” and both people and business take on fresh dimensions of trust and creativity that can’t be measured with mere numbers. That ethos and experience, multiplied in viral fashion, changes the face of business, which in turn impacts lives in positive ways.

Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, wrote, “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.” This Givers Gain business focus started when I was just 28 years old and has provided me with a rewarding and long career.

I think we can all use our loss of one of America’s great comedians and actors to start a conversation about what our contribution is going to be that will live on past our life span. I would encourage you to design a fulfilling life. Whatever you are, be a good one, as my friend Stewart Emery says.

I sincerely hope that somehow Robin Williams had a sense of the contribution he made to our lives before he left us, all too soon.  

Rest in peace, Robin. You will be missed.

What’s in It for Us?

When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in early 2012, I embarked on a journey to find a holistic way to treat it.  Though it wasn’t at all easy to find natural ways of treating cancer, I was lucky enough to have my wife Beth by my side every step of the way and, as a certified sports nutritionist, she has quite a bit of knowledge in regard to nutrition and holistic health.  With Beth’s help and the help of some very talented doctors, I managed to avoid surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy through a very specific diet plan. For me, the holistic approach worked and I am now in full remission.

My wife and I now share the diet plan which was responsible for my success in overcoming cancer via a website called MisnerPlan.com.  Recently, someone who heard about the site responded with overt suspicion and asked how we are benefiting from sharing this information.  “Yeah, but what’s in it for the Misners?” they asked.   So, what’s in it for us, huh?  Well, this video is our response to that question and in it we openly share exactly how we are benefiting from the Misner Plan and exactly what it’s all about.

After watching the video, please feel free to leave any feedback you have in the comment forum below.  And, if you know someone who might benefit from the information on www.MisnerPlan.com, Beth and I would love for you to share it with them.  Thanks!

Free Monthly ‘Networking Cafe’ Webinar–You’re Invited!

In this video, filmed at a recent networking conference in Nashville, TN, I talk to my good friend and partner in the Referral Institute®, Eddie Esposito, about the monthly Networking Cafe webinars we offer to the public.  These FREE monthly webinars offer invaluable information about how to grow business through networking and referral marketing and we often have guests on the webinar who are experts at helping people achieve business success.  Past guests include Jack Canfield, Michael Gerber, and Susan RoAne, among others.

These “Networking Cafe” webinars take place on the last Friday of each month and all you need to do to find out how to participate (we welcome you to ask questions during the webinar) for free is to visit the following link: http://referralinstitute.com/index.php/en-us/networking-cafe.

Thanks so much for watching this video and I really hope to interact with you on one of the upcoming webinars in the near future.  Also, if you have any suggestions for topics which you would love to have addressed on a future webinar, by all means, please leave your topic suggestions in the comment forum below–I’m  more than happy to address all valuable and relevant topics.  Thanks!

9 Questions to Help You Start Gaining Visibility through Volunteering

One of the first steps toward networking your business is to become more visible in the community. Remember that people need to know you, like you and trust you in order to refer you. Volunteering can position you to meet key people in your community. It connects you with people who share your passion. It gives you opportunities to demonstrate your talents, skills and integrity, as well as your ability to follow up and do what you say you are going to do. It instantly expands the depth and breadth of your network.

 

People who volunteer demonstrate their commitment to a cause without concern for personal gain. Thus, you should be volunteering with organizations or causes for which you hold genuine interest and concern. If administrators or other volunteers perceive that you are in it primarily for your own gain, your visibility will work against you, and you will undermine your own goals.

Volunteering is not a recreational activity; it’s a serious commitment to help fulfill a need. To find an organization or cause that aligns with your interests, you need to approach volunteerism with a healthy level of thought and strategy.

Start by asking yourself the nine questions below.

1. What do you enjoy doing for yourself in your spare time?

2. What hobbies do you enjoy?

3. What sports do you know well enough to teach?

4. What brings you joy and satisfaction?

5. What social, political or health issue are you passionate about because it relates to you, your family or your friends?

6. Based on the answers to the first five questions, what are three organizations that you can identify that appeal to you? (Examples: youth leagues, libraries, clubs, activist groups, church groups, homeless shelters) Choose the one that most appeals to you, and research the group online and in the community.

7. Now that you’ve researched this group, will it give you an opportunity to meet one of your professional or personal goals? If so, visit the group to “try it on.”

8. Now that you’ve visited this group, do you still want to make a final commitment of your time?

9. Are other group members satisfied with the organization? (To learn this, identify three members of the group to interview in order to assess their satisfaction with the organization. Consider choosing a new member, a two- to three-year member, and a seasoned five- to six-year member to interview.)

Once you’ve done the research required to satisfactorily answer these nine questions, join a group and begin to volunteer for visibility’s sake. Look for leadership roles that will demonstrate your strengths, talents and skills. In other words, volunteer and become visible. It’s a great way to build your personal network.

Are you already an active volunteer?  If so, what organization do you volunteer for and how has it helped you gain visibility within your community?  I’d love to hear about your experiences so please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Are You on the Right Track with Career Networking?

Despite what a lot of people might think, there are actually many more similarities between business networking and career networking.  In this short video, I point out some of the key similarities between these two types of networking and explain the ideal time for people to start thinking about their career needs and making efforts toward career networking.

Watch the video now to learn the five magic words that can completely change the dynamic of potentially challenging conversations and open the way to form important, lasting connections and beneficial relationships in your networking efforts and throughout your career.

Also, if you have a story about how you have used basic networking skills within your job, before you were looking for a job, or as you were starting a job, I’d really love to hear from you.  Please share your story in the comment forum below and be sure to submit your story at www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.comWhen you submit your story via SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com, it will be considered for inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield and Gautam Ganglani.  Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to reading your stories!

Building Social Capital Is the Groundwork for Future Payoff

In a video blog I posted recently, I talk about the Law of Reciprocity which is one aspect of social capital theory.  In today’s video, I specifically address what social capital is and why investing in social capital is one of the best investments you can make in order to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network.

My friend Alex, whom I mention in this video, is a master at building social capital and there isn’t a person who knows him who wouldn’t help him in an instant in any way they could if  he asked them to.  Alex has an expansive support system comprised of a diverse array of people who are all willing and eager to help him succeed and it’s all because he dedicates himself 100% to investing in the relationships he builds with those around him.  If you could use a support system like Alex has (which I already know you could because we ALL could), then start creating ways to build social capital with those in your network at every opportunity.

Perhaps you’ve already got a story about social capital that’s similar to the one I share in this video about Alex, or a story about how you’ve built great social capital with someone who is now just itching to help you in any way they can.  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

The Law of Reciprocity Works in Mysterious Ways


The Law of Reciprocity is a part of social capital theory and, in simple terms, it basically states that what you give/put out to the world will come back around to you in equal measure (i.e., ‘what goes around comes around’) and if you help others, you’ll receive help in return.

The interesting thing is that the Law of Reciprocity is not always immediate and the way in which it’s actually working is not always clear cut or easy to see.  You may help a person in their time of need and find that your good will toward them comes back to you in the form of good will or help repaid to you from someone completely different.  That’s the beauty of it though . . . when you have pure intentions toward others and act positively on those intentions, life (via the Law of Reciprocity) will reward you in surprising ways (And good surprises are much more fascinating and enjoyable than being able to predict exactly how the good you do will come back to you, right?).

In this video, in addition to discussing my general view on the Givers Gain® and the Law of Reciprocity, I share my initial reaction in regard to recently finding out how my son helped a friend in a time of dire need and I talk about how I believe the Law of Reciprocity will no doubt come into play for him as a result.

Do you have a story about how the Law of Reciprocity has affected you?  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Leverage Your Achievements to Heighten Your Success

Success may be a lasting accomplishment, but the thrill of success is transitory; much of the joy is the journey.  Once it’s over, we begin to wonder, “What’s next?”  This feeling of emptiness cues us to step up and get ready for the next level because success goes on as long as we keep building new steps.  We graduate from one level and, equipped with what we’ve learned, go on to new accomplishments in the next.  Each accomplishment becomes something we can stand on to reach higher.  We can leverage our success.

Small successes can add up to major leverage.  Each experience, each skill learned or honed, each new technology adopted multiplies the results of our efforts.  The achievements leveraged can be our own, or those of other contributors in a team effort.  Those who work alone against tall odds to accomplish what others might consider mundane achievements often end up amassing powerful capabilities.  However they are combined, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts if used to full effect.

The resources we find most useful as levers depend on both our immediate and our long-term goals.  Many are specialized, closely identified with a particular field or profession or industry.  Trial lawyers, politicians, and motivational speakers cultivate forensic skills, the ability to sway audiences.  This is a vital resource that can be transferred from one project to another, even in different fields.  The same goes for marketing skills, management expertise, and most leadership skills.  The more success we have achieved, the more easily we can apply these resources toward achieving new ends.

As a lever, success is also portable to others.  We can use it not only to help ourselves reach our own goals but to also help our associates, friends, colleagues, family members, even worthy strangers reach their goals.  Success contains many valuable and transferable components: experience, skills, wisdom, insight, confidence, enthusiasm, energy, money, reputation, sometimes just the outsize influence of fame.  These assets can be mobilized in pursuit of different ends, including the needs of others.  All that is necessary is to choose a worthy goal and turn the momentum of success in a new direction.

Networking is a structured system for leveraging success and thereby sharing its benefits.  Helping others achieve their goals not only leverages a person’s success for the benefit of others, but also brings the leverage full circle: what goes around comes around.  Although it springs from an initial good given without expectation of recompense, an altruistic act for a network contact accrues social capital.  The benefits provided eventually come back to the giver.

The ultimate leveraging of success is the philanthropy of those whose accomplishments have made them rich and who look for ways to give back to individuals who have helped them and to the community that nurtured their success.  Their rewards come not in the form of superfluous money or fame but in the prosperity of those they help and in the goodwill and approval of the community.  This is success of a whole new order–social immortality.

No matter where you are in your success journey, it’s important to remember that the joy really is in the journey There will be plenty of times when we not only don’t immediately achieve the success we’re aiming for, we actually end up completely failing at what we were trying to do; and that’s when it’s crucial to keep in mind what Henry Ford once said–“Failure is the opportunity to begin again intelligently.”  In other words, the experience we get in our journey to success is truly invaluable and that experience is what will end up fueling our greatest successes.

Success is a topic that has so many different aspects and perspectives to it and I’d really, really like to hear the thoughts you have as a result of reading this blog post.  Whether you have a story about your journey to success, what success means to you, the experience you’ve gotten/success you ultimately achieved from a past “failure,” or how you’ve leveraged your success to help others, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks in advance for your input and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

‘Givers Gain’ Is a Standard, Not a Sword

Givers Gain® is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity.  In the context of networking groups, people who adopt this philosophy dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow networkers rather than making their foremost concern getting business for themselves.  In doing so, other people naturally become eager to repay their kindness by sending them business in return.  Givers Gain is a great way to live life in general and it is a standard which we can all apply to ourselves—key word being “ourselves”; it is not a sword to be pointed at others who may not adopt the philosophy.

Unfortunately, I have seen the Givers Gain concept abused from time to time and, as you may have guessed, the reason I’m writing about it now is because I saw it abused quite recently.  The entire concept gets misused when we start pointing a finger at others and saying things like, “Milton doesn’t have a Givers Gain attitude—he’s going about things all wrong.”  What’s interesting is that when we say things like this about other people, it’s often because they’re not doing something we think they ought to be doing in business or life.

Again, Givers Gain is not a sword to wave around at people who aren’t doing what we think they should be doing.  It is a standard we can apply to ourselves and ourselves only.  Ironically, when we point our index finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us—it’s a perfect reminder of whose actions and tactics we really need to be worrying about, don’t you think?  Don’t be the person who tends to blame others for their woes instead of focusing on their own behavior.

People who criticize and point fingers at others can be very caustic, which is one of the reasons it is important to be really selective about the people you surround yourself with (especially in the context of networking groups).  That said, there will undoubtedly still be people in our lives who are unendingly critical, judgmental, and just plain vitriolic.  I know I certainly have a couple of them in my life, including one person in particular who appears to have made criticizing me his favorite pastime.  They’re the people who love to talk about you, but who never actually talk to you about issues.

So, what do you do if you practice the Givers Gain philosophy in a sincere and consistent way, yet there is still someone waging a very personal attack on you?  How do you respond when they start waving their interpretation of the Givers Gain concept in your face like a sword of criticism?  The answer is simple—be yourself.  Continue to apply the philosophy to yourself in every way you can.  Vitriolic people are that way because they can’t control themselves.  Maybe they’re basically angry, maybe they’ve had a difficult life—who knows?  It doesn’t really matter because they are who they are and you can’t change them.  As much as we’d all like to steer clear of these people, there will be times when it’s virtually impossible.

Telling someone they’re wrong about you never works (I know this from personal experience); they’ll just come at you even stronger.  I can tell you what does work though.  What really works is when somebody else stands up and says to the person who’s badmouthing you that they’re out of line, or that what they’re saying is simply not appropriate.  It’s a little like a referral—nothing beats a third party endorsement . . . or, in this case, a third party defense.

Why am I bringing all this to light?  Because, the fact is, you are going to find yourself around a vitriolic person at one time or another—someone who’s combative instead of collaborative, someone who’s saying horrible things about someone else—and I want to take this opportunity to strongly encourage you to stand tall and speak up.

Good people stand up when caustic people say bad things about others; and if you practice Givers Gain as your own personal standard, you already know that standing up for others will encourage others to stand up for you.

Do you have a story about an experience with a person who was criticizing you to others or other people to you?  How did you handle it?  I’d love to hear your story, as well as your feedback on this blog post and on the Givers Gain concept in general.  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

True or False?–The More You Promote Yourself, the More Referrals You’ll Get . . .

If you believe that promoting yourself, in the traditional sense, is the best way to get referrals, I hate to break it to you but it’s actually not a particularly effective way of generating referrals.  The thing is, just talking about yourself is not enough–you’ve got to teach people how to refer you.

You’d think that people would listen when you describe what you do and then just naturally put two and two together when they come across somebody who needs your product or service but unfortunately it doesn’t often happen that way.  People need to be led down the path.  You’ve got to say, “This is what I do.  Here’s what you need to look for, and this is how you refer me.”

Every day we all stand in the middle of a sea of referrals.  They are all around us, they happen all the time, but unless we (and our potential referral sources) are trained to pick up on them, we are oblivious to them. 

The secret is to train yourself and your sources to listen for the language of referrals.  Tell them, “When someone says, ‘I can’t,’ ‘I need,’ ‘I want,’ or ‘I don’t know,’ whatever she says next is a possible referral for me.”  Teach your sources to listen for words or phrases expressing a specific need: “I can’t get this lawnmower engine running right,” or “I don’t know which tax form I need to use,” or “I want to remodel my dining room, but I don’t know any good contractors.”  One of these could translate into a referral for you or someone you know.

Remember also that referral success arises from a system where information flows in both directions.  Approach it not by promoting yourself but by learning about other people’s businesses in order to find business for them first.  After that you can explain to them what you do–if they’re interested.  Maintaining a balance, with an emphasis on the philosophy of Givers Gain®, is what will most efficiently and effectively bring you success in referral marketing.

Think of one person in your network whose business you are interested in knowing more about.  What ways can you think of to get the ball rolling this week in regard to opening up a discussion with that person about each other’s respective businesses?  Please leave your comments, thoughts, and ideas in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

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