Business Networking and Friendsstring(31) "Business Networking and Friends"

I have found that one of the strengths of a good networking group is that most of the members become friends. Ironically, one of the weaknesses in networking groups is that most of the members become friends. Yes, it’s both a strength and a weakness. Accountability is crucial in running a good network because friends don’t like to hold friends accountable. I have also found that people who truly understand business networking recognize the need to have a system and structure to get results.

It can be dangerously easy for a networking group that meets regularly to become a talk session over coffee with little or no networking taking place. That is what happens when the group loses sight of their purpose, their focus, system, and structure – or it happens if they never had any of those things to begin with.

Often, people begin to make up their own agendas and they lose their focus on networking. When you lose focus, the meetings become social. Networking should be about business. Of course, there will be a social aspect, but it’s mainly about business, commitment, and accountability.

Leadership and Teaching

People can be like water – taking the path of least resistance. Without the proper framework in which to operate, the agenda might become the current topic of the day’s news, or it ends up being whatever the person running the group thinks the meeting should be from their own personal perspective. Inconsistency like that, over time, is a problem for a networking group.

Even if the group has a good, strong leader, that person’s life will change at some point or maybe they will simply get burned out. The problem starts if there is nobody else to teach. Teaching is a leaky-bucket process. You begin with a full bucket of information. When that information is taught to someone else, some of it leaks out of the bucket and the people being taught get a limited version of the information. Then, when that person teaches someone else, the material continues to get watered down based on their personal understanding and their ability to articulate the material.

By the time you are in the third or fourth generation of people passing along the information, you only have about half a bucket remaining. When the bucket of information gets low, people start putting in their own content. The problem is that it might not be good content. I’ve seen this time and time again. By the way, very rarely does the material improve over time with the leaky bucket process.

I learned early on that the best solution is to write everything down to develop “train the trainer” material so there is consistency in the system and the way the training is conducted. Making the leadership training part of a replicable system is the best way to fill the leaks and have good leaders for the organization.

I think it is a beautiful thing when people in a networking group become close friends. The key is to make sure it doesn’t detract from the group’s goal of building each other’s business through networking and referrals.

It is important for ALL networking groups to ensure that there is a strong sense of purpose with a solid structure, and that each member is committed to carrying out the systems for networking which are already in place. This will ensure that members agree to be accountable with their business networking friends.

How does your networking group maintain its focus and commitment to systematic networking practices? I’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment below.  

What Kind of Man Do I Want to Be?string(33) "What Kind of Man Do I Want to Be?"

I was recently talking to a good friend and fellow member of the Transformational Leadership Council, Bettie Spruill.  We were talking about relationships and she asked me “what kind of man do I want to be?”  I thought that was a great question and I decided to write this blog on that topic.

I want to be a man who lives his values and treats others accordingly.  Living my values is an important aspect of having a fulfilled and meaningful life. For me, my values are fundamental to my identity.  They shape my beliefs, priorities, and behaviors. I want to be a man who lives his values and I strive to embody those values in all aspects of my life. My values include Givers Gain, a positive attitude, recognition, accountability, traditions, innovation, building relationships, and lifelong learning. I’ve incorporated all of these into my company, BNI.

The philosophy of Givers Gain is a value that I hold dearly. I believe that when we give to others, we ultimately receive more in return. This value is particularly relevant in my professional life, where networking and building relationships are essential for success. By giving to others, whether it is time, resources, or knowledge, I can build stronger connections and foster a sense of reciprocity.

Maintaining a positive attitude is another critical value for me. I believe that a positive outlook can have a profound impact on our overall well-being and our interactions with others. By maintaining a positive attitude, I can approach challenges with a sense of optimism and resilience, and inspire others to do the same. Additionally, a positive attitude can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment, where everyone feels valued and supported.

Recognition is a value that is important to me, both in my personal and professional life. I believe that acknowledging the efforts and achievements of others is essential for building strong relationships and fostering a sense of appreciation. By recognizing the contributions of others, we can build a culture of gratitude and respect, where everyone feels seen and valued. Recognition also aligns with my belief in the importance of building strong relationships, as it helps to create a sense of trust and mutual respect.

Accountability is another critical value for me. I believe that taking ownership of our actions and decisions is essential for personal growth and development. The older I get the less I believe in words and the more I believe in behaviors.  By holding ourselves accountable, we can learn from our mistakes and make meaningful changes that benefit ourselves and others.

Traditions are a value that is important to me, particularly in my personal life. I believe that honoring our cultural and organizational traditions can provide connection and belonging and help us to maintain a sense of identity and purpose. Additionally, traditions can help to create a sense of continuity and stability, particularly during times of change or uncertainty.

Innovation is a value that is important to me, particularly in my professional life. I believe that embracing new ideas and approaches can lead to more creative and effective solutions to complex problems. Innovation brings excitement and motivation, as we explore new possibilities and push beyond our boundaries.

Building relationships is a value that is essential for me, both personally and professionally. I believe that cultivating strong connections with others is essential for personal and professional growth and can provide a sense of support and community. By building relationships, we can learn from others, share knowledge and resources, and gain a sense of belonging.

Lifelong learning is a value that is fundamental to my identity. I believe that learning is a lifelong process, and that we can always strive to become better versions of ourselves. By embracing a growth mindset, we can approach challenges with an attitude of curiosity and openness, and use each experience as an opportunity for learning and development. Additionally, lifelong learning aligns with my values of accountability and innovation, as it involves being open to feedback and exploring new ideas and approaches.

Living our values is essential for leading a fulfilling and meaningful life. My values of Givers Gain, positive attitude, recognition, accountability, traditions, innovation, building relationships, and lifelong learning are fundamental to who I am, and they guide my behavior in all aspects of my life.

By striving to live my values and treating others accordingly, I hope to inspire other people to do the same and create a positive impact on the world around me. I believe that when we align our values with our actions, we can create a life of purpose, fulfillment, and joy. It is my goal to continue to live my values and always strive to be the best version of myself so I can positively impact those around me.

That is the kind of man I want to be.




Related Blog Posts:

What Are Your Values?

Your values shape you and your career decisions more than you may realize…


Working Togetherstring(16) "Working Together"

The idea of working together to achieve better results is a concept that has been around for centuries. Whether it is in the context of a family, community, or workplace, the notion that a group of people can accomplish more than an individual working alone has proven to be true time and time again. I have certainly seen that in BNI® where groups of business people work together to achieve far greater results than they would achieve by working separately.

Two key ideas underpin this concept. The first is the notion that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts. The second is something my friend Sam Horn likes to say, which is: “Sometimes 1 + 1 = 11.” 

The Sum of the Whole is Greater Than Individual Parts

The idea that the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts suggests that when people work together, their collective efforts are greater than the sum of their individual contributions. In other words, a group of people can accomplish more together than they could individually. This concept is often seen in team sports, where a group of athletes working together can achieve a greater level of success than any one of them could on their own. The same can be true in the workplace, where a team of employees can collaborate to create innovative solutions for complex problems.

Sometimes 1 + 1 = 11

The second idea that underpins the concept of working together is the notion that 1 + 1 = 11. This idea suggests that when two people work together, their combined efforts are far greater than what they could achieve on their own. This concept is often used to describe the synergy that can be created when people collaborate. When two people work together, they can bounce ideas off each other, challenge each other’s assumptions, and build on each other’s strengths. The result is a level of creativity and innovation that is impossible to achieve when working alone.

Benefits of Working Together

There are many benefits to working together to achieve better results. One of the most significant benefits is the ability to leverage the strengths of each team member. When people work together, they can pool their knowledge, skills, and experience to create a more effective solution. This approach allows each team member to focus on their strengths and contribute to the team in the most meaningful way possible.

Another benefit of working together is the ability to learn from each other. When people collaborate, they have the opportunity to share ideas and perspectives, which can lead to new insights and approaches. This also helps to build trust and understanding between team members, which is essential for effective collaboration.

Working together also has the potential to increase efficiency and productivity. When people work together, they can divide tasks and responsibilities in a way that allows them to accomplish more in less time. This approach also helps to reduce the workload for each team member, which can lead to better work-life balance and increased job satisfaction.

The idea of working together to achieve better results is a powerful concept that has proven to be true time and time again. Within the context of families, communities, or the workplace, the benefits of collaboration are clear. By leveraging the strengths of each team member, learning from each other, and increasing efficiency and productivity, teams can achieve success that would be impossible to achieve when working alone.

The sum of the whole is indeed greater than the individual parts, and when people work together, 1 + 1 really can equal 11.

I would love to hear your thoughts and stories about working together.

Create a “Bubble” for Great Business Presentationsstring(54) "Create a “Bubble” for Great Business Presentations"

When my good friend, Eric Edmeades, and I were at the recent Transformational Leadership Council meeting, we talked about his upcoming book, “Unforgettable”, and the power of giving great presentations. I asked him to share his thoughts on what it takes to make a great speech, and he talked about creating a bubble for the audience. You do this by taking people on an adventure, rather than just telling a story.

Learn how to create the bubble, and how to avoid breaking the bubble in this short video.  



I think Eric’s tips are helpful for all professionals who give business presentations, whether someone is an experienced presenter, or it’s their first time in front of an audience. I’d like to hear your thoughts; please leave a comment below.

Complaining is Not an Olympic Event!string(36) "Complaining is Not an Olympic Event!"

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to treat complaining like it’s an Olympic event? They train for it, they strategize, they even have special equipment (like a well-worn soapbox). But let me tell you, complaining is not an Olympic event, and I think it’s time we all start training for something more productive.

Imagine if complaining were an actual event at the Olympics. There would be teams from all over the world, each with their own style of complaining. The Americans would be masters of the dramatic sigh, while the British would excel at dry sarcasm. The French, of course, would be experts at complaining about the food, and the Germans would be efficient complainers, getting their grievances out in record time.

The opening ceremony would be a sight to behold. Instead of athletes parading around with their countries’ flags, teams of complainers would strut their stuff, each carrying a well-worn soapbox. The judges would be looking for the most creative complaints, the most eloquent grumbling, and the most persistent whining.

But what would the actual events be? There could be a race to see who could complain the loudest and longest without taking a breath. Or maybe a competition to see who could come up with the most trivial complaint. (“I asked for no onions on my burger, and there’s a tiny piece of onion stuck to the bun!”).

The most interesting event, though, would be the team competition. Teams of complainers would be given a situation (like waiting in line at the motor vehicle department) and would have to come up with the most creative complaints to get ahead. The judges would be looking for teamwork, persistence, and the ability to improvise complaints on the spot.

But let’s be real, complaining is not a productive use of our time or energy. It’s a negative habit that can bring down our mood and the mood of those around us. It’s much more beneficial to focus on solutions to our problems, rather than just complaining about them.

So, let’s start training for something more productive. Instead of complaining about the long wait at the department of motor vehicles, let’s bring a book to read or a game to play. Instead of griping about the weather, let’s plan a fun indoor activity or embrace the rain with a colorful umbrella.


When all is said and done, complaining may not be an Olympic event, but it is a habit that can be hard to break. Let’s all strive to be more positive and focus on solutions, rather than just grumbling about our problems. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll have a new Olympic event called positive problem-solving.

Business Networking and the Solar Systemstring(40) "Business Networking and the Solar System"

During a hike on my recent trip to Necker Island, my friend, Mike Macedonio, and I had a great conversation about comparing the hiking trail to the solar system.
I invite you to watch this short video to learn more.


It reminded me that business networking is a journey and it’s all about relationships. Remember, networking is a marathon, not a sprint.

Necker Island’s Sustainable Energystring(36) "Necker Island’s Sustainable Energy"

During my recent visit to Richard Branson’s Necker Island in the Caribbean, I walked toward the top of the island and took some video of the wind turbines and the solar panels. I invite you to watch the video and enjoy the view with me.





Related Video Posts:

Richard Branson: Virgin Voyages

I recently visited Necker Island (which I think is the best island in the Caribbean)…


Don’t Pitch!

One of the most important things to remember when you are networking…


Don’t Pitch!string(14) "Don’t Pitch!"

One of the most important things to remember when you are networking is:
Don’t Pitch 

During my recent visit to Necker Island, my friend, Mike Macedonio, and I talked about Networking Up, which is an idea that he came up with a few years back. You need to identify who are the successful people (however you define success) that you want to know, and find a way to network with those people.

Well, Mike and I saw several examples of people doing it wrong; they were trying to pitch a sale or idea to the owner of the island, Richard Branson.

Watch this short video to see more:


When you are Networking Up, don’t sell to people! You may think, “I’ll never have another chance.” Well, I guarantee you’ll never have another chance if you pitch anyone, especially the first time you meet them.
Instead, connect with people and find common ground. It changes everything.

Richard Branson: Virgin Voyagesstring(31) "Richard Branson: Virgin Voyages"

I recently visited Necker Island (which I think is the best island in the Caribbean) and talked with Richard Branson about one of his newest businesses, Virgin Voyages.
In this video, he shares how Virgin Voyages is different from other cruise lines.

By the way, BNI members who are travel agents can represent this business if they are interested.




When “Networking Up” (networking with someone more successful than you are), always try to talk about something that is new and interesting to them.
This is what was new and interesting to Richard, and I was happy to discuss it.

Rely on Your Support Networkstring(28) "Rely on Your Support Network"

We all face challenging situations at times, and whether someone is a master networker or they are new to business networking, occasionally we need to rely on the help and encouragement of others.

I believe in learning to rely on the people who respect, admire, and love you. They have the purest motives for helping you because they are genuinely interested in your well-being. They accept you as you are and will usually do whatever they can to help you achieve any goal. Even though they may not have all the knowledge or information you need, or the ability to bring you new customers, if you direct their willing efforts they can give you emotional, spiritual, physical, or financial support.

The gift of time can be an extremely valuable resource. The members of your network’s support component can help you at crucial moments in your business. They can perform essential tasks, lend you money, encourage you, work for you, help you deal with an emergency, serve as a sounding board for your ideas, even fill in for you for a couple of hours if needed.

To make the most of this resource, you need to determine who they are. 

The CATEGORIES of Your Support Network

The people most likely to give freely of their support fall into several different categories.

    People who are or have been your mentors genuinely believe in you, care about you and your success, and can be counted on for honest feedback and encouragement.
    These people are typically excited to hear from you and will remind you of how much they appreciate your support. They also open doors to business opportunities by spreading positive messages about you.
    People remember those who have done something helpful for them. Think about people to whom you have donated money, time, or other gifts. Most will go out of their way to support you. This can include people in your referral networking group, too.
    The friendships you’ve made throughout your schooling and career often become friends for life. You know, like, and respect each other. You may be reluctant to call upon a friend for help because you don’t want to admit you need it. Don’t let your ego get in the way; utilize these sources. A true friend will be eager to help and will not think any less of you.
    We often take our family and personal friends for granted, and yet they are, perhaps, our most reliable source of support. Don’t ignore them. However, we do need to keep in mind that some may be more reliable than others.
    People you have worked with outside of business, such as members of community service organizations, apartment or homeowner associations, local youth programs– they may be willing to support you in activities outside of the group’s normal scope. Join, participate, generously donate your time, and let others help you in your endeavors.
    These people are familiar with your work habits, ethics, values, abilities, interests, and character. They also know what it takes to get you to perform at your highest level. Often, like surrogate parents, they feel responsible for your success. It is okay to take advantage of this parental instinct.
    If you belong to a religious organization, there is a bond with others through a shared faith. It would be a mistake not to seek the backing of those leaders and other members. If on occasion you need them, don’t hesitate to use the support services and groups that are available.

The MEMBERS of Your Support Network

Now, go through your contacts to determine all the people you know who fit into each category. List as many names as you can. It’s okay if someone is listed more than once. The more names, the better. If one person is unable to provide the kind of support you need at a particular moment, you’ll have others to fall back on.

Keep in touch with them. Learn about the talents, knowledge, and contacts these friends and supporters have to offer. You may find that a simple call to say hello can turn into an opportunity for you to help them, too.


I think anyone who is building their business should consider these eight categories of support network members when you have some challenges, need feedback or help in some way. Remember, sources of help and encouragement are closer than you think.

Is there anyone else you would add to this list? I’d love to hear about your experiences with your support network in the comments.

I was a Lollipop Entrepreneurstring(29) "I was a Lollipop Entrepreneur"

It is extremely valuable to understand your behavioral style and how it relates to your business networking.  Most importantly, learning how to identify behavioral styles in others, and then learning how to adapt your own approach to those different styles, can make a significant difference in your referability.

I wrote about this in my book, “Room Full of Referrals,” with co-authors Dr. Tony Alessandra and Dawn Lyons. All customers and all networkers prefer communication in a manner that is most familiar to them. Knowing their personal style can help you customize an effective sales or networking approach for each unique individual.

Dr. Tony Alessandra calls this The Platinum Rule – the idea of treating people the way they want to be treated.

The Four Common Behavioral Styles

  • Go-Getter: Fast-paced, task-oriented, & doesn’t like to be wrong about anything.
                      Driven, Bold, Decisive, Strong Desire to Lead
  • Promoter: Fast-paced, people-oriented, gregarious, likes to be in the spotlight.     
                      Energetic, Outgoing, Fun-Loving, Positive, Talkative
  • Nurturer: Slower-paced, people-oriented, dislikes confrontation, & helps others.
                      Patient, Helpful, Understanding, Reserved
  • Examiner: Slower-paced, task-oriented, methodical, likes facts, & dislikes hype.
                      Effective, Efficient, Thorough, Research-Oriented

A key point to remember is that we are all a blend of the four styles with different intensity levels of each.

My Style

Oftentimes your behavioral style can be observed at a fairly young age.  When I was 11 years old, I missed the bus going to school one day. The school was about two miles away and I had plenty of time, so I started walking.

Along the way I passed a fuel station with a small store attached to it. My eye caught some awesome looking lollipops – big, red, strawberry-flavored suckers. They only cost a nickel (five pennies) so I bought four or five of them and continued on to school. When I got there, a friend saw what I had and asked me if he could buy one. I said sure he could – for a dime (ten pennies). He bought it right away! That day I sold all the lollipops except for the one that I kept for myself . . . and I saw a great business opportunity.

The next day I decided to walk to school again, and this time I bought a dozen lollipops at the store. I sold them all before school was done for the day. I did this the next day, and the next… for almost a month. I was very happy with my margin and the money that I saw growing from my lollipop enterprise.

That was my first experience in business, and it was obvious from that early time in my life that I was a “Go-Getter” behavioral style. 

The end of the story had another lesson in store.  After a month of great sales, the Principal called me into his office and told me I couldn’t sell candy to students on campus.  I asked him why and he said it was a school policy.  Then I asked him why it was OK to sell candy bars for the school fundraiser on campus but not sell other candy for any other reason.  He basically told me that was the policy and I could follow it or be suspended.  Thus, the last lesson I learned was about government regulation.  The next business I started was NOT on campus.


Do you recall your first business experience? How has your own behavioral style helped or hurt your networking and referral marketing efforts?  I’d love to hear your story.

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