Why You Do What You Do Is Your Key to Successstring(45) "Why You Do What You Do Is Your Key to Success"

Your why is the most important thing you need to determine. It is the reason you do the things that you do and why you are successful. There has probably been someone in your life – a coach, grandparent, teacher, aunt, or spiritual mentor – who’s made a difference for you. It may have been when you were young (it generally is) – it may have been recently. It may have been a positive experience or it may have been very negative. Either way, it is your “why” for what you are passionate about.

I’ve certainly had people who have made a significant difference in my life. One of those people in my life was my freshman high school teacher, Mr. Romero, at Gladstone High School in Southern California. Mr. Romero taught history and that class was the one that selected the student council representative for the freshmen. I had run for student council numerous times in junior high school and I was soundly defeated each time. The elections weren’t even remotely close. In fact, I came in dead last every time. Each election was a humiliating experience that left an indelible impression on me. So, by the time high school rolled around, I had no intention of running for student council ever again.

Why Mr. Romero

The first week of freshman history class, our teacher, Mr. Romero asked all the students, “Since we pick the freshman student council representative from this year’s history class, are there any volunteers for the position? Who would like to do it?” And nobody volunteered. Finally one of the prettiest, most popular girls in the class said, “Oh, Mr. Romero, you know, I would do it but I’m just so busy! I don’t have the time to do something like that.” Our teacher replied, “That’s OK, you don’t have to do it… But if no one’s interested in volunteering, as the teacher I get to pick. Are you okay with that?”

The students came back with cheers, “Yeah, yeah, yeah – you go ahead and pick!” So the teacher looked around the class, he paused at me, and looking me straight in the eyes he said, “Ivan, I bet you would love to do this, wouldn’t you?” I replied, “Well, um, well, yeah, I kind of would, Mr. Romero.” My momentary elation was immediately squashed when the entire class, almost in unison, moaned, “Oh no, not Ivan!” Even the too-busy popular girl stood up and said, “No, no, Mr. Romero, you know what – I’m actually not that busy. If you’re going to pick Ivan, I can do it, after all!” Of course, while she’s saying all this I’m thinking to myself: “Hello, you all see me sitting here, right?” But I couldn’t actually open my mouth to speak. I just sat there, quiet and embarrassed, holding my breath. Have you ever had a moment like this? Where you felt so small you just wanted to slip underneath the carpet? That was how I felt at that moment.

I Lacked Confidence

It’s important to put this experience in context. Today, I’m an author, speaker, and fairly successful businessman with franchises on every populated continent of the world. But remember, this was happening to me, a 13-year-old. I lacked confidence, I felt like I didn’t fit in at all, and I couldn’t get a chance to prove myself at something I really wanted to do. Just imagine, for a moment, how humiliating this was for me. I didn’t have the advantage of peeking into the future to know where I would end up. I have to tell you, it was a raw, exposed moment.

Somehow, Mr. Romero understood that and he gave the ever-popular girl a withering look and said, “No, you had your chance to volunteer and you didn’t take it. So I’m empowered to pick a representative, and I pick Ivan. He’s the student representative! Now, open your books and turn to chapter two”

Despite the grumbles rolling through the classroom, Mr. Romero’s decision was final. I was the Student Council Representative. My teacher believed that I could do a good job. I took a deep breath and knew I would work hard – really hard—to prove him right. When the year-end Student Council elections came around for the following year, I decided to do something I had vowed to never do again – I ran for Student Council. That same class who loudly protested my appointment voted me in for another year, by a landslide! As a matter of fact, I won every election in high school after that: Student Council, Activities Director, Student Body President – every one.

My Emotionally Charged Connection

It all started with Mr. Romero seeing something in me that I had not been able to see in myself. By giving me that chance, he infused confidence in me and that made a big difference in my life. I gained leadership skills and learned responsibility by being involved in those school projects that I had to take from the beginning to the end. Mr. Romero positively influenced my life by giving me the opportunity to succeed. He didn’t do the hard work for me, but he opened the door for me. He gave me a chance to excel. To succeed. To show what I was capable of doing.

Years later, I knew this was an important experience in my life but I never realized how seminal it truly was to the man that I would become. It wasn’t until a few years ago at an Asentiv seminar where everyone was going through their Emotionally Charged Connection to why they do what they do, that I came to realize that my entire life’s work was in fact, a reflection of what Mr. Romero did for me as a young man.

Every book I’ve written or business I’ve started has been an attempt to give other people an opportunity to succeed, to excel, to accomplish what they want to accomplish in life. I can’t “make” someone successful. Only they can do that. I can, however, provide the system, the process, and the opportunity for them to achieve their dreams. I have been continuously reliving what Mr. Romero did for me and I never even knew it – until I looked deeply into my “why.”

Your why is the most important thing you can figure out right now. It is the reason you do the things that you are passionate about. If you don’t know that – you can never completely fulfill your personal and professional dreams.


See the World Through The Lens You Choosestring(41) "See the World Through The Lens You Choose"

Two people sitting in a room, at the same table, having the same meal at the same time, can actually be worlds apart. How? Because they look at the world through a different lens.

I love astronomy, and I’ve learned that by choosing different lenses or filters for my telescope, I observe different things in the night sky. By just changing the lens, the things I view can appear or disappear before my eyes. Objects can be overwhelmingly bright and painful to view or they can be a beautiful sight to behold. I believe our lives are similar. The lens we choose to see the world through can greatly influence the things we see and experience.

Years ago, I realized that I needed to evict people from my life because the lens they viewed the world through was negative, fearful, hurtful, and sometimes caustic. It was not the lens I chose.

Focus Your Lens, Change Your Words, and Inspire Your World

The first thing I realized when I came to this conclusion was that words matter. What you say about your world experience helps determine the world you live in and the people you attract into your world. What you put in your head shows up in your world. Whether you’re talking about an abundance mentality vs. a scarcity mentality, the law of attraction, or the glass being half full, words matter.

The most common example of this in my life involves my “being busy.” I talk to so many people who say, “You must be so busy.” I no longer say “yes” to that question. Today, I say, “I have a full life.” You can be busy — or you can have a full life.  Almost everyone says that their life is busy. But busy shouldn’t be a goal you pursue. Having a “full life” is a goal worth pursuing and having a “full life” brings me joy. Truly words matter.

Back in 2012, I was diagnosed with cancer. I never said to people, “I have cancer.” I always said I was “diagnosed” with cancer. It was my diagnosis; it was not who I was. It took a while but now, rather than saying that I am in remission, I prefer to say, “I am healthy”. Words matter.

Last year drove home my point. While everyone was talking about being in lockdown or quarantine, I spoke about experiencing the “Great Pause” in life. The pause button was pushed on all of our lives for over a year. I found that how people responded to the Great Pause made a tangible difference relating to their experience and their life. Those people who learned how to embrace that mentality, when possible, were much happier than those who were mired in the horror of the situation.

When my wife of 31 years passed away in 2020, it would have been easy to say I was horrible when people asked me how I was doing. But instead, I tried to reframe the grief I was experiencing into something that would allow me to have a different worldview. I’d answer friends by telling them that it is “one day at a time for me” or, “I’m putting one foot in front of the other.” Feeling horrible was the truth, but I also believed that living in that mental space would not help me through the difficult times. One day at a time, and one foot in front of the other, was the lens I chose to focus on. Even when you feel horrible, words matter.

We live in fearful times. I’ve learned people get frozen by fear or they get focused by fear. I propose that you get “focused by fear”. Focus on a lens that will help you see through the fog of chaos that surrounds you and look for the possible.

Look for the positive. Look for how to reframe your situation so you can deal most effectively with the hand you have been dealt. Choose the lens that you see the world through. And always remember that words matter.

your business card

What to Do When Someone Refuses to Take Your Business Cardstring(58) "What to Do When Someone Refuses to Take Your Business Card"

Imagine handing your business card to someone at a networking event and having it handed back to you with, “Thanks, but I don’t need your card.”  How would you respond in this situation?

Business Card Etiquette 

  • I do not recommend giving someone your business card right away when you first meet them. I would wait until after you have had a good conversation with them. Listen to them talk about their business. Ask questions about how you could help them. Then, ask yourself if you believe that you have made a good connection.  Think about if you can help their business, or if they can help you with your business.  Decide if you are willing to build a strong relationship with them. If yes, I recommend asking the person if they would like to receive your business card because unsolicited cards are rarely kept.
  • A business card is a tacit invitation to make a future connection.  How you handle that connection afterward will determine how responsive your new contact will be.  So be respectful with what you do after someone gives you their card. Set a date to follow up with them. Find their preferred method to be contacted, then use it.
  • You should always have plenty of business cards with you when networking.  It still amazes me that people go to networking events and knowingly don’t bring cards with them. Bring business cards.  It is a “networking” event.
  • Just passing out your cards and collecting cards from others at a networking event is not networking — it’s card collecting — which is not a profitable way to build your business. Networking is about having conversations with people and making good enough connections that you can actually follow up with people. If you don’t make a meaningful connection, you might as well still be cold calling, no matter how many business cards you collect.
  • It is good manners to ask permission to add someone’s email to your distribution list. Unsolicited emails are rarely kept and can quickly lead to your email address being registered as spam. If you did not request the email newsletter, then reply with a request to be unsubscribed from their distribution list. If they ignore your request, use your spam filter. I use it regularly with unwanted emails.

Refusing to take someone’s offered card is just plain bad manners. What do you do if this happens to you?  Realize that some people just have little or no people skills and move on to someone who does.

purposeful meal

Using a Purposeful Meal as a Networking Opportunitystring(51) "Using a Purposeful Meal as a Networking Opportunity"

So, what exactly is a purposeful meal meeting? A purposeful meal meeting is nothing more than a meeting that includes a meal and a specific, meaningful purpose. And the specific purpose I want to talk about today is networking. These meetings are strategic and results-oriented with a specific purpose for the meal together.

A Purposeful Meal Provides High Value For Your Invested Time

  • It’s not a break from work. It’s a way to build a strong relationship with each other.
  • It’s not a time to have three martinis. It’s a time to teach three things about your business.
  • It’s not a romantic date. It’s a way to introduce your colleague to a potential new client.
  • It’s not about critiquing new restaurants. It’s a way to help a colleague solve their problems.

Let’s begin by considering the average workweek of five days. There are three main meals that could be eaten per day. Barring the usual hindrances to daily scheduling, this gives you 15 opportunities each week to have a purposeful meal meeting. That’s 780 opportunities in a year. Now, dining with 780 people could not only put a hole in your pocket, but it could tear a hole in some of your personal relationships as well. Let’s be realistic…imagine what your significant other would begin to think if instead of eating the majority of your meals with them, you were out eating each meal with a different person. You certainly don’t want to stay away from home so much that your children and/or pets no longer recognize you. So, let’s say half of your meals are spent eating with your family-you still have an estimated 390 opportunities for purposeful meal meetings.

Keith Ferrazzi: Build Trust by Breaking Bread

This level of networking increases his productivity and helps him connect with people from different parts of his community. Ferrazzi believes that his strongest links have been forged at the table. He has learned how powerful the art of throwing a dinner party can be in creating memories and strengthening relationships. Something magical and companionable happens when friends break bread together.

Ferrazzi is quick to mention, however, that if you continue to have dinner parties with the same people, your circle will never grow. His solution is to identify and invite “anchor tenants” to your party. These are people who are related to your core group but who know different people, have experienced different things, and thus have much to share. They tend to be the people who have had a positive influence on your friends’ lives. It’s akin to inviting the CEO to the manager’s table, as Ferrazzi says. Soon, other executives will want to be there.

More Than Just a Dinner Party

I had the opportunity to experience one of Keith’s networking parties firsthand, and the anchor guest that night was the legendary author Gore Vidal. Providing the entertainment was America’s oldest collegiate a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs of Yale!

Not all of us will be able to get a celebrity of Gore Vidal’s status and the Whiffenpoofs at our networking party, but I’m guessing that Keith didn’t have them at his first party either. However, the strategy is sound, and I encourage you to try out the concept as a way of building your visibility in the community. Keith has paid close attention to how a meal can most appropriately be leveraged for a business networking opportunity. The primary focus should always be on developing the relationship. Learning about each other, helping one another with problems, and giving of ourselves – that’s what defines a purposeful meal meeting.

Why not start now – begin to plan some purposeful meal meetings or dinner parties where you can make memorable beneficial connections. Do you have any stories about purposeful meal meetings or dinner parties where you made memorable, beneficial connections?  If so, I’d love to hear your story–please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!


The Real Secret to Success Isn’t Really a Secretstring(54) "The Real Secret to Success Isn’t Really a Secret"

Over my career, I have observed people with different personalities, backgrounds, and behavioral styles achieve success in life. Many times I wondered if there was a reoccurring theme running through their success stories that would clearly illustrate what creates success.

The Secret To Success 

When I was interviewing average business owners and entrepreneurs for my book, Masters of Success, I asked thousands of them what they felt the “secret” to success was. They generally told me things like: vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems.

I then asked many highly successful people who had obtained great wealth or personal achievement in business, sports, or science. They generally told me that success involved things like: vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems. Sound familiar?

This made me very curious. I was teaching at a California State University in the Los Angeles area. I asked hundreds of college students what they thought was the secret to success. These were all undergraduate students in business with little or no real-world business experience. What I found amazing was that they also said success involved things like: vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems!

Everyone I interviewed or wrote about regarding the secret to success gave me virtually the same answer. If we all know what it takes to be successful, why are we not all successful?

What Makes Someone Successful

I have found that many people are looking for some mysterious and ever-elusive secret to success beyond what they already sense to be important. The truth is, there is no great mystery. In fact, very often “success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge.”

When you hear successful people talk about the secret of their success, have you noticed that you rarely hear any real secret? What you do hear about is their unwavering adherence to some system or approach they believed in and followed with intensity and determination — an uncommon focus on something that less successful people simply take for granted or pay lip service to.

Even when the ideas are easy to understand, they often don’t get implemented. People think there must be something more. After I presented a keynote speech in Sweden years ago, a woman in the audience came up to me and said, “Everything you said makes so much sense. Much of it was about things that I’ve heard were important to do, but I never did them because they seemed too simple. I thought there had to be more to it than that, that the road to success was much more complicated and daunting. So I wasted valuable time looking for some secret”. Then she said, “I don’t understand why people often find it easy to make things so difficult. Myself included”.

Success comes to those who have not only a passion and a vision, but who also have a persistence and a commitment to perform the fundamentals over and over. They continue to work and learn until they can perform these fundamentals flawlessly. In the end, being successful is not about being different or having secret knowledge. In the end, everybody knows what the goal is and how to achieve it. This is common knowledge, and it’s been around for a long, long time. Success is about knowing these things and achieving them without giving up, making excuses, or getting sidetracked. 

secrets to harmony

Seven Secrets to Finding Harmony in Work and Lifestring(49) "Seven Secrets to Finding Harmony in Work and Life"

Would you like to know my secrets to achieving balance?  Forget about balance. It’s an illusion. “Balance” assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life. It is like the image of the “scales” where everything is completely in balance and equal. It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.  As an entrepreneur, finding time for your family, your business, and your leisure time can be challenging. It’s difficult to do it all.

The problem with that is that almost no entrepreneur can actually achieve that. We tend to live such hectic, busy lives it is incredibly difficult to fit it all in. So, what do we do about this?  For me, it’s about creating harmony, not balance. This is more than semantics – it is a different way of looking at life.  While life can’t be fully in balance, it is possible to create a life that is in harmony with your vision of who you are and what you want to do. If that resonates with you, try these seven secrets to finding harmony in work and life.

1. Be Here Now

These are three simple words that will make a huge difference in creating harmony in your life. Wherever you are, be there. If you are at work, don’t be thinking about the time you didn’t spend with your family the night before or what you should be doing with your spouse or partner. When you are at home, don’t be thinking about the work you have to do at the office. My secret: Wherever you are, be there fully and completely.

2. Be Creative About How You Manage Your Time

Be creative and inventive in finding ways that you can accomplish what you need to do yet still allow you to spend time with the precious people in your life who bring you harmony. And remember, many tasks and projects have a finite timeline. You won’t always have to resort to this type of creativity unless you want to. My secret: Be creative and inventive in finding ways that you can accomplish what you need to do.

3. Integrate Various Elements Of Your Life

For many years, I spent a couple of weeks or more working remotely from my lake house in the mountains. During that time, I worked my normal hours but also had quality time with my family in a vacation setting. Sometimes I would have my staff join me for short retreats and workdays. It was a great way to integrate work-life into a leisure environment. During the last week or so of the stay at the lake house, I exclusively spent time with the family and didn’t think about work. My secret: Look for ways to integrate elements of your life whenever possible.

4. Practice “Letting Go” And “Holding On”

It is not possible to “have it all.” Unfortunately, life involves making choices. Practice understanding what things to say no to and then letting go of them. Think about the things that are truly important in your life and hold on to them with all your might. My secret: Let go of the unimportant things.

5. Be Intentional About Who You “Let In Your Room”

Imagine that you live your entire life in one room and that room had only one door and that door was an “Enter Only” door.  Anyone who gets in is there for life. If that were true, would you be more selective about who you let into your room?  Everyone I ask that to says a resounding, “YES!” Well, luckily this is only a metaphor. However, when we do let people into our lives that are caustic or difficult, it is very difficult to get them out. My secret: Be more selective about “Who’s In Your Room”.

6. Set Firm Margins 

Life for people in this day and age is crazy busy. People will take up every spare moment in your life if you let them, so it is important to create a life that has “margins.” Build free time, family time, and personal time into the margins of your day-to-day existence. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. You’ll be happier when you create margins. My secret: Schedule your time to relax.

7. Work In Your Flame, Not Your Wax (secrets)

When entrepreneurs are doing things they hate to do, they are in their wax – meaning they are doing things that are sapping their energy.  When entrepreneurs are doing things that they love to do, they are in their flame. They are energized and excited. My secret: Do those things that you love to do by staying in your flame.

The truth is that when you are 70 years old, you are not going to wish you spent more time at the office. You don’t need to be a workaholic to be successful. Focus on creating harmony in your life with my seven secrets. Be creative. Find ideas from these secrets that work for you and the life you live. Make the time and be innovative. Harmony is created where harmony is sought. 


Business Can Be Noblestring(21) "Business Can Be Noble"

In 2013, my late wife Elisabeth and I had a chance to spend a week with Richard Branson on his island.  While we were there, I was able to do a video with Richard that you can find on this blog.  In the video, I asked Richard about his concept of the “Plan B Initiative.”  He told me that the ‘Plan B’ concept aims to bring businesses together in a united effort to achieve greater social responsibility.

Elisabeth and I talked about this concept a lot.  We realized that business can be noble.  That business can make a difference in the world and it can do it locally and it can do it swiftly.  We also discussed ways that BNI was already doing that at local chapters and how that might be expanded globally.

I was speaking at the California Riverside/San Bernardino Regional event for BNI on August 27th, 2014.  Elisabeth was to go up before me and talk about the BNI Foundation.  I saw her scribbling her ideas on the back of a napkin that she was going to use as her notes.  On that morning she stood up and said (much to my surprise):

“I want to start a movement (that’s what she said).  I want to start a movement.  A movement where business has a voice in what happens throughout our local communities.  A movement that makes a difference for children around the world.  I want to call it Business Voices and I want it to help us change the world by engaging our Directors and members to help their local communities address problems that affect them most.”  And on that day, at that meeting – Elisabeth began our Business Voices initiative for the BNI Foundation.

Since that announcement, people all around the world have done hundreds (if not thousands) of local community projects to collect books, do vocation days, collect school supplies, repair broken items in schools, and many other projects that make a quick and important difference in a local community.

I was proud of her for coming up with this initiative and I am proud of the people who have participated in Business Voices (it is open to people outside BNI) over the years.

If you are interested in making a difference in your local community, go to this link to help make a difference in the world:


I know that Elisabeth would not only be proud, but she would also be her exuberant self to see what this initiative, her initiative, is becoming to help business be noble.

Givers Gain

Applying Givers Gain in Businessstring(32) "Applying Givers Gain in Business"

Givers Gain is not only a great way to get business; it’s an even better way to do business.  This is why BNI has made it our principle core value in our networking organization.

Giving has many cultural and legal differences around the world. In some cultures, giving is seen negatively, yet it is a positive force in society, and that this can be applied in every business regardless of location or culture.

The Philosophy of Givers Gain

What is important in acts of giving is our motivation. Here is a list of motivations that fits with the philosophy of Givers Gain® and helps us maintain mental clarity around our motivations when we give.

  1. We give because we understand that in a community, what we do, others will do, and we all benefit.
  2. We give because we know that in the same situation others would do the same for us.
  3. We give because we want to give back where we have profited before.
  4. We give because when we work together, we get bigger and better results than working on our own.
  5. We give because we enjoy it.

Having ethical motivation is key to giving. You can always give once and justify your motivation, but giving over and over again requires a motivation that is understood not only by you but also by the people you surround yourself with. Adopting one or more of the motivations above will help you stay grounded to your motivation.

Here are some examples of where giving in business changed lives.

Allen. is a commercial real estate agent in Orange County, California, USA.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, Allen had met with as many businesspeople as he possibly could, using his network to find these people and to book a meeting with them. They were not just from his local BNI group but were members throughout the county. The more people he met, the more he was able to become a super-connector for the local business community. He was generating a ton of business for the local economy simply by making connections and giving the gift of a referral.

He even won awards for it and became the star of his group. He was recognized as having the most one-to-ones, and he also gave out the most referrals. Allen focused on building relationships and once he was convinced he had found a good business opportunity for both of his contacts he would often phone the contact on the spot and put them together, thus creating a powerful introduction much more likely to lead to business.

When asked how all of this activity had affected his business at a bad time for real estate, he said, “I am completing the best year in my 26 years in the business. I have had a great, great year.”

Giving in business, as in life, works in many different ways. Here is another example.

David runs a fantastic print business. He offers a brilliant service, great value, and delivers when he says he will, if not before. If you ever try to pay him a compliment, he’ll offer a sheepish smile and an explanation that he was only “doing his job.”

Just up the road from where his business is based in the area’s largest independent hotel, which, of course, he is a trusted supplier for. After turning around an order on a particularly short deadline, the hotel manager, showing the gratitude effect, offered David a meal for two at the hotel’s restaurant as a way of saying thank you.

David thanked his client, graciously declined the offer, and instead asked for something else—for them to take the call of one of his other clients, a commercial designer, and project manager named Suzanne. Suzanne had recently asked for help and David, being a supplier of hers, decided to use this opportunity to get her the introduction that her business needed.

The introduction was made, business was done, and both of David’s clients were happy.

In the true spirit of giving, the additional revenue has allowed Suzanne to take on larger development projects, which David now prints for. The local sub-contractors who are used on these projects have increased revenue and now come to David when they are in need of his products and, due to the quality of his work and products, they become ambassadors and referrers for his business.

David is selfless, humble, and a wonderful networker because he embraces the principles of Givers Gain. The cycle of giving continues to benefit him and those around him.

Acts of giving change lives.

Acts of giving can be powerful in business regardless of the size.  We can give many things. Here is a list of the types of giving that makes a real impact in a business community.

  1. Give a referral opportunity between two other businesses you know—maybe a supplier of yours and a client of yours.
  2. Give mentoring to a business that needs your expertise.
  3. Give your knowledge to local business groups.
  4. Give to local education and youth community groups.
  5. Give to the elders of the community.

All of this giving activity is part of an ecosystem that will come back and benefit you and those you care about in a positive way. You choose how to practice Givers Gain that is right for your business. Once you make a commitment to using the power of Givers Gain to fuel your business, success will follow.

The more Givers Gain happens then the more energy can be given to important global social concerns such as climate change and sustainability of our planet. Infinite giving allows us to focus on the bigger picture. The bigger picture is living in a world of plenty where resources are plentiful, and the struggle of life is not against each other. Rather, it is against suffering and scarcity.

BNI Master Connector

BNI Master Connector YouTube Livestream Eventstring(45) "BNI Master Connector YouTube Livestream Event"

It was very exciting to be a panelist during The BNI “Master Connector” YouTube Livestream Event on Tuesday, May 18th, on the BNI TV YouTube channel. If you missed the event and want to watch it, click here.

Thank you to all attendees who sent me their messages. The comments from this third global event were just as positive as our first event: Growing Forward Together, and just as informative as our second event: Restart the World. Thank you to each of the BNI members, directors, and visitors who joined us during this worldwide event.

About The BNI “Master Connector” YouTube Livestream Event

I want to thank BNI Chairman and CEO, Graham Weihmiller, for hosting an engaging panel discussion about becoming a Master Connector. I also want to personally thank the other two panelists for participating in the discussion: BNI Uganda National Director, Diana Ninsiima Kabuuka and the President of Membership Services Inc., Robert Skrob.

The event was open to businesspeople and entrepreneurs worldwide to help them build their business in 2021. During the panel discussion, I shared my vision for the future as well as my insights for business growth and personal success. We discussed how BNI and its 279,000 members are teaching businesses worldwide to foster global business recovery. Building strong relationships and empowered networks will lead to professional referrals and business growth. We shared ideas on how entrepreneurs can effectively build strong business relationships that can restart and ramp up their businesses.

Become a Master Connector

Master Connector is a BNI global initiative to help businesses and people connect. We hope that the tips we shared will help your business navigate through challenging times. Ultimately, we can build our relationships to create empowered networks and give referrals to others. Different people, different places, different countries, different faces, different cultures; we all speak the language of referrals, as we become Master Connectors.

If you are not a current BNI member, we invite you to visit a local BNI chapter and begin the process of building meaningful relationships with the other professionals at the meeting. If you are looking to grow your business, we can help and support your business in the essence of Givers Gain®. To receive an invitation to a BNI chapter in your area, simply click here.

During the livestream event, my fellow panelists and I featured the benefits of becoming a Master Connector and helped attendees understand that the person who builds trust by giving referrals and bringing visitors to their BNI chapter, is the person that experiences the greatest growth. Everyone learned how they can become a Master Connector by building strong relationships, giving referrals, and putting the “Connector Effect” to work in business and in life.

“The Connector Effect”

Viewers learned about the Amazon best-selling book, “The Connector Effect”, which I co-wrote with Graham Weihmiller and Robert Skrob. In this book we describe how using “The Connector Effect” can make business more lucrative, rewarding, and fun.  This book supports the broader business community with tips on how to become a Master Connector.  Use this link to download your own Kindle version of the book.

Connect at BNI Global Convention 2021 – Master Connection

Learn more about the content available to Connect. Master. Grow. by attending BNI Global Convention October 6-9, 2021. BNI is excited to offer two ways to participate, either in-person in Miami, Florida or virtually.

  • Connect to Master Connectors near and far through easy-to-use technology.
  • Master skills from industry leaders with a flexible schedule to meet your needs.
  • Grow through the Master Connections you are creating with the other attendees.

Tickets for the BNI Global Convention 2021 are now available. Click here to register.

Thanks to the BNI Marketing Team for the planning, marketing, and execution of another amazing livestream event. I also want to personally thank the BNI Chairman and CEO, Graham Weihmiller, for his inspirational vision for the future. BNI brings so many people together and connects them with each other for such a productive purpose.  With BNI you can become a Master Connector too.



Networking In-Person, Online, or a Blend?string(41) "Networking In-Person, Online, or a Blend?"

In 2017, I was sitting in the back of a senior leadership meeting for BNI.  The group was talking about the future of the organization and what we saw ahead of us as opportunities and challenges.  Someone from the group looked over at me and said, “you’re the Founder & Chief Visionary Officer, what do you see for the future of the company?”  I stood in the room and boldly said that because of advancements in mixed reality and holographic technologies, I thought the future of networking was likely to be online.  While I thought that would raise eyebrows – instead, it raised voices.  “No way,” was the overwhelming chorus of voices in response to my proclamation. The pushback was almost complete (with the exception of a few of the millennials in the room).

“Really?” asked one incredulous participant.  “Really, you’re the Founder of the world’s largest in-person networking organization and you honestly think that we will transition to online!?”   “Never,” said another person in the room. “I can’t believe that you would think that.” 

I re-learned a valuable lesson that day – when you have a bold vision, don’t just blurt it out.  Instead, ease people into that vision.  People aren’t receptive to massive change at first, they need to be eased into that change whenever possible [see The Cat’s on The Roof blog to see how to do that].

Recognizing the error of my ways, over the next year I began to talk at company events about disruption and how companies could become complacent in the delivery of their services and how they sometimes don’t see the train coming down the tracks at them. I spoke about Kodak, Sears, and Blockbuster as examples of what happens if a company is complacent with their operations.  I hoped that these stories would get them thinking about how we might be disrupted if we were not careful.  I later wrote about this type of disruption on Entrepreneur.com after I had been talking about it for well over a year.

In December 2018, I wrote another article for Entrepreneur about the change that I saw coming in networking organizations, a change like the one I suggested a year earlier that caused such a vocal reaction when I brought it up.  I re-introduced this concept more than a year after I first blurted it out because I felt that I had laid the groundwork more effectively over the previous year.  It was my formal prediction in this article that the future of face-to-face meetings would be online.  Over time, I referred people in my organization to these two articles to help prepare them mentally for what I believed to be coming. Granted, I foresaw this development because of the emergence of technology and not a virus, but I saw it coming, nonetheless.

In mid-January of 2020, I was at a mastermind event where we were doing an exercise lead by Kian Gohar, Founder of Geolab. It was his “Moonshot Exercise.”   In it, he asked us to create a vision that we wanted to be embraced within our organization.  My vision was that by the end of 2020, the senior management of our company would see the inevitable fact that the future of networking would be, at least in part, online.  Little did I know that by the end of that very month, we would embrace that vision.

Credit needs to go to the CEO of BNI, Graham Weihmiller, who saw that Covid was going to be a far bigger problem in the world than anyone else in our organization thought (or people from most organizations for that matter).   By the end of January, he had transitioned some of BNI in Asia to online.  By February, he had transitioned much of Europe and by March of 2020, he, the franchisees, members, and the Global Support Team, had transitioned the entire organization to online.  This was no small feat.  In January of 2020, the company had 9,700 networking groups that were meeting in-person, every week!  By March of 2020, we had over 9,700 groups meeting online every week!  This was a pivot of monumental proportions.

Since that time, the company has added more than 400 additional chapters bringing the total number of networking groups to over 10,100 world-wide.  Virtually all of these groups were meeting online for most of 2020.  What seemed completely unfathomable to most people a couple of years earlier became the norm in just two years.

The question now within the company is – “what does the future hold for meetings going forward?”  The answer to that question has not been settled but it is under discussion.  That process has begun with a survey of over 2,300 members from around the world asking them if they would like their networking meetings to be:

1) In Person Only,

2) Online Only, or

3) A Blend of Online and In Person Meetings.

As you can see in the results below, one third of the participants of this survey wanted to go back completely to “In Person” Meetings.  However, 16% wanted to stick with “Online Meetings Only, and a whopping (considering the attitude just two years prior) of almost 51% of the survey respondents were in favor of a blend of meeting both in-person, and online.


What was unthinkable to most leaders in the organization just a few years earlier was now very possible for two thirds of the people surveyed by the organization.

Because of the continuous advancements in technology, the move to online networking meetings was inevitable.  The spread of Covid simply expedited the imminent disruption that lay ahead.

Lead the disruption or be disrupted.  That is the mantra that entrepreneurs must embrace to survive in the 21st century.  For networking groups, that means that it is time to embrace the inevitable transition to meeting online.  That said, I do believe that a blended approach is perfect at this time. For most businesspeople, meeting in person and shaking someone’s hand (when it is safe for us to do that again) has no online equivalent.

What are your thoughts about these ideas?

Has online networking been effective for you and your business?

Master Connector

Join Us To Become a Master Connectorstring(36) "Join Us To Become a Master Connector"

Business leaders from around the globe will learn how to become a Master Connector on May 18th during the BNI Master Connector YouTube Live Event. I, along with a panel of experts, will be sharing ideas on how entrepreneurs can effectively build strong business relationships that can restart and ramp up their businesses.

Master Connector

On April 1, 2021, BNI kicked off a global movement, Master Connector, to unite organizations and business leaders worldwide to help local, national, and global businesses get back on the path to growth by building strong relationships with trust, giving referrals, and putting the “Connector Effect” to work in business and in life. Watch my video about becoming a Master Connector.

BNI’s Master Connector YouTube Live Event

If you are looking to grow your business beyond where it is today, then you will want to mark your calendar for May 18th, 2021 to watch BNI’s Master Connector YouTube Live Event on May 18th at either 8:00 am or 4:00 pm EDT. During each of the one-hour sessions, Graham Weihmiller (BNI Chairman and CEO) will be hosting an engaging panel discussion about becoming a Master Connector, with Diana Ninsiima Kabuuka (BNI Uganda National Director), Robert Skrob (President, Membership Services Inc.), and meClick here to register to attend one of the event sessions.

The BNI’s Master Connector Event will stream to over 70 countries via YouTube Live.  Viewers will enjoy learning about the Amazon Best-Selling book, “The Connector Effect”, which I co-wrote with Graham Weihmiller and Robert Skrob. The event also features the benefits of becoming a Master Connector and helps attendees understand that the person who builds trust by giving referrals and bringing visitors to their BNI chapter, is the person that experiences the greatest growth.

We are expecting tens of thousands of BNI Members, alumni, collaborators, and colleagues to attend these two sessions. Master Connector is a global initiative that will continue well past this event. We hope that the tools and tips that you learn will help your business successfully navigate through challenging times. Ultimately, we can build our business relationships together, create empowered networks, and give referrals to others.

“The Connector Effect”

Consider downloading Amazon’s Kindle version of “The Connector Effect” book where co-authors, Graham Weihmiller, Robert Skrob, and I, talk about how using “The Connector Effect” can make business more lucrative, rewarding, and fun.  This book supports the broader business community with tips on how to become Master Connectors. You’ll learn how to leverage your network and connections to effectively grow your business, and support those around you. Use this link to download the Kindle version of the book.


Master Connector Sessions Time Schedule

This one-hour event will stream to over 70 countries during two sessions via YouTube Live. The chart below lists the scheduled local time for your country.

Remember the Registration

Registration is now open to join us during one of the two event sessions. Visit https://cvent.me/lzAqLr?RefId=IvanMisner  to register or click below.

BNI brings so many people together across so many boundaries for such a productive purpose.  Therefore, we invite visitors and build meaningful relationships with our fellow members. We extend our hand to those who are looking to grow their business to visit a local BNI chapter. You can receive an invitation to a BNI chapter in your area with this link: https://www.bni.com/find-a-chapter. We can help and support your business in the essence of Givers Gain®. At BNI, we are Master Connectors and we invite you to become a Master Connecter, too.

checked in

Get Checked Instring(14) "Get Checked In"

Today’s guest blog about being checked in is by my Personal Assistant, Dana Coyle.

Dr. Misner, the Founder of BNI, wrote an article about how to be mentally present to succeed. It was about someone so engrossed in their cell phone that they almost walked into him. He talked about being fully present in whatever you’re doing rather than just going through the motions.  Be here now – make sure that you are ‘checked in’.

At a busy US airport there was an older gentleman who went to the gate attendant in the boarding area to check in for his flight. That attendant told him that it was a full flight and all of the seats were taken.

He said that they had made the reservation and purchased the tickets two months ago.

She said, “I understand, but it is a full flight and there are no seats.”

He continued to explain that they had a paid reservation and he wanted to check himself and his wife in for the flight.
She replied that “…you have to check in within 24 hours to confirm your seats.”

He said, “We couldn’t check in before. The hotel shuttle brought us to the airport and we just got here. We’ve had the tickets for two months.”

To which she said, “I’m sorry sir. It doesn’t matter when you bought the ticket, it’s when you checked in.” 

Be checked in at your BNI meeting

This sometimes happens at BNI chapters.  Members pay for their membership and then just go through the motions. Some are 90-minute members, only thinking about BNI on the day of their meeting, which can lead to fewer referrals, minimal visitors and less business growth.

Then something clicks – a Member has an effective One-to-One and gains a new referral partner, so they schedule more One-to-Ones. Getting to know their fellow members better means they are able to GIVE more referrals. This often leads to gaining more referrals, too, so they get more business. The excitement of successful referral marketing spreads as they tell others and invite them to visit the chapter.

They…get….checked…in.  They realize there is more for them in BNI if they are willing to put in the effort and use the tools available with their membership. The Givers Gain philosophy, put into practice, can be pleasantly contagious as the chapter gains energy and grows, while members see growth in their own businesses, too.

It doesn’t matter when you bought the ticket, it’s when you checked in. Are you fully participating in all that you do? It’s a good reminder in BNI, in business, and in life — Be checked in so you can be here now.

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