Leverage Your Achievements for Greater Successstring(46) "Leverage Your Achievements for Greater Success"

Success may be a lasting accomplishment; however, the thrill of success is transitory – much of the joy is the journey. Once it’s over, we often begin to wonder, “What’s next?” This feeling of emptiness is a cue for 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 then, equipped with what we’ve learned, we go on to new accomplishments in the next level. Each accomplishment becomes something we can stand on to reach even higher. We can leverage our success.

Small successes can add up to major leverage.

Each experience, each skill we’ve learned or honed, each new technology that we have adopted multiplies the results of our efforts. The achievements that we leverage can be our own, or they can be those of other contributors in a team effort. People 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 and may be 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 to help ourselves reach our own goals, and we can also help our associates, friends, colleagues, family members, and perhaps worthy strangers, reach their goals. Success contains many valuable and transferable components such as: 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

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, it 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. I call this the Givers Gain® philosophy and it is the principle Core Value of BNI®, the organization I founded in 1985.

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; they come 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.

Enjoy the Journey

Wherever you are in your success journey, it is important to remember that the joy really is in the journeyThere 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. That is 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 like to hear your thoughts after reading this blog. Share a story about your journey to success, tell me what success means to you, share the experience you got or the success you ultimately achieved from a past “failure,” or how you have leveraged your success to help others. Thank you.

Go the Extra Mile for Networking Successstring(40) "Go the Extra Mile for Networking Success"

I am regularly surrounded by people who know that connecting with others to network for their business is extremely important. However, I am often surprised at how many people put very little effort into purposefully strengthening the relationships with the people in their network. The fact is, you need to build strong relationships with the people who constitute your network, and vice versa. You want to be the first name that comes to mind when those in your network scratch their heads and wonder, “Hmmm . . . Whom could I go to with that problem? Who would be a good fit for that referral?”

Going the extra mile provides several ways for you to stand out and be positively memorable with potential referral partners. You want to focus on things that you can do to demonstrate the unforgettable value you bring to the table as a network member. Even though it is business networking and not simply about social relationships, it’s important to acknowledge that people like people who help them. If you help someone, in turn they will want to help you.

Take the Initiative

I recommend that you take the initiative in developing a relationship with someone who could be of help to you in networking your business. Here are some strategies to help you go the extra mile to accomplish this.

1) Be a value-added friend.
First, get to know the people who make up your referral team. Ask questions about their business, about their hobbies and their passions. Help someone achieve their goal. Before you ask what others can do for you, ask what you can do for them.

2) Become a catalyst.
The definition of a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Operate with intent. Take the lead and be the person who makes things happen.

.

3) Find an accountability partner.
This is a person to whom you can be accountable, responsible, and answerable. Have a  video or phone call with your accountability partner every week to discuss how effectively you implement networking strategies and if you meet the goals you set for your business.

4) Volunteer as a way of building visibility for your business.
People need to know, like and trust you in order to refer you to others. People who volunteer demonstrate their commitment to a cause, and to their community, without for concern for personal gain. Volunteering can help you build credibility with your networking partners.

5) Send thank-you cards.
A simple thank-you card may sound small in the big picture of business networking. However, receiving a traditional, handwritten letter or card of gratitude is memorable and shows that you are willing to go beyond an ordinary text or email that says “Thanks.” Sending a thank-you card to your networking partners is a simple, yet powerful, activity.

6) Timely follow-up is extremely important in moving a relationship forward.
If you are not following up when your referral partners call you, or you don’t follow up on the referrals you give to others, you’re not just losing business, you also risk losing credibility. Your follow-up technique will leave a lasting impression – make sure it a positive one.

Going the extra mile with the people in your network not only expresses your sincerity, it also opens the door to accept what the law of reciprocity has to offer to you and your business. Effective networkers invest their time to build deep relationships with the people in their network. They know that seemingly small steps in their business networking activities can add up to extra miles toward their success.

 

 

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Networking Lessons from Prize-Winning Cornstring(42) "Networking Lessons from Prize-Winning Corn"

What is one of the most important things you need to know about networking?

If you want to get more business, you must be willing to give business to other businesspeople.

That is why I founded my networking organization, BNI, on the central, guiding philosophy of giving benefit to others – Givers Gain®. It is an ethical theme that is common to all religions and all cultures: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

The underlying foundation of this truth is built on the concept that what goes around comes around. However, it is more complex than that. Networking is about relationship building. Over the past 40 years, I have found that the best way to quickly build a relationship with someone is to help them firstIf you want to get referrals, focus on how you can give referrals to others.

This is a story that I originally heard from a BNI Director some time ago. It is a great metaphor about the way that effective business networking works.

The Corn Story

A farmer in the U.S. state of Nebraska won the state fair four times in a row with his corn. Nobody had ever done that before, so the newspaper sent someone out to interview him.

The reporter asked, “What is your secret? Do you use special corn seed?”

The farmer said, “Absolutely. I develop my own corn seed, and that’s an important aspect of it.”

“Well, then, that’s your secret,” said the reporter. “You plant a type of corn that’s different from your neighbors.”

“No,” said the farmer, “I also give it to my neighbors who are also farmers.”

“You give it to your neighbors?” asked the incredulous reporter. “Why in the world would you give your award-winning corn to your neighbors?”

The farmer said, “Well, you’ve got to understand how corn is pollinated. It’s pollinated from neighboring fields. And if you’ve got fields around you that don’t have this top-quality corn, your field is not going to grow top-quality corn either. But if my neighbor’s field has this really strong corn, then I have awesome corn. And that’s how I’ve won at the Nebraska State Fair the last four years in a row.”

Think about it – this really is a key concept for successful business networking. To put it simply, if you’re going to be an effective networker, you need to go into networking with a commitment to helping other people because that is how you will be helped in return.

I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts?

Fashionable Canesstring(17) "Fashionable Canes"

Several years ago, I had some serious back problems that led to sciatica. That’s when I began using some amazing canes from Fashionable Canes.

They recently asked me to be a brand ambassador and I am happy to do so. I will be sharing some of my favorite canes in the coming weeks. Watch the video and get a special discount code to save 15% on their products.

As I said in the video, I am donating 100% of my commission to charity – the BNI Foundation. You can see the large selection of Fashionable Canes and walking sticks here and use the discount code: drivanmisner to save 15% (this offer is only available for a limited time).
Thank you for watching.

What’s Your Why?string(18) "What’s Your Why?"

Almost all of us have had someone who has made a difference in our life – a coach, a teacher, a grandparent, or maybe a spiritual mentor. Perhaps it was when we were young, or it could have happened more recently. It may have been a positive experience, or it may have been negative.

That person and your experience with them helped develop your WHY for what you are passionate about in life. I invite you to watch this video and hear the story of a teacher who made a significant difference in my life.

Mr. Romero saw something in me as a young man and gave me a chance to succeed and show what I was capable of doing. I’ve come to realize that my entire life’s work is a reflection of what he did and the opportunity he provided for me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. Thank you.

Educating Your Networking Partners Instead of Selling to Themstring(61) "Educating Your Networking Partners Instead of Selling to Them"

Educating the members of your business networking group about the type of referrals you would like to receive is much more important to your networking success than selling to the members.

Yes, this is a mindset shift about how you view your networking partners. It requires an understanding of the importance of educating your referral partners about your business. Remember, they are not the clients! Because these are the people who will be looking for referrals to pass to you, they need to learn about your business and about YOU. They are, in effect, your sales force. If you were training a sales team, how would you describe your products and services in a way for them to fully understand the benefits of what you have to offer? This is what you want to do at your networking meeting.

No one expects a referral group’s member to be an actual salesperson for all the other members. Yet, if you want referrals, the other members do need to be trained so they recognize potential customers for your business.

Resist the Urge to Sell

I’ve noticed that businesspeople have a tendency to “sell” to others they meet. When professionals join a networking group that has a focus on providing referrals for its members, they seem to think that by convincing them to try their product and closing the sale with their networking partners, they will somehow realize an influx of referrals for more of the same from those individuals. I agree that in order for the members of your networking group to refer you effectively, they must be familiar with what you have to offer. However, when you are in front of them, it is important to resist the urge to sell to the members! They will become familiar with your services and products through your consistent education about what you do, and specific descriptions of the people who are your target market.

Tips to Incorporate EDUCATING Into Your Networking

  1. Break your business down into its Keywords.
    At a networking meeting, it is very tempting to start out your personal introduction with a statement like: “we are a full-service XYZ company…” Resist this urge! When you have 50+ opportunities over the course of a year to introduce a new single keyword element of what it is that you are selling or providing, don’t waste the opportunity to feature one aspect of your business by painting with the full-service brush. Get detailed! Educate your networking partners week-by-week with a specific keyword that you provide.
    Feature a different aspect of your business and tell them who the ideal client is for that aspect during each weekly presentation.
  2. Avoid saying, “Does ‘anybody’ know ‘somebody’?”
    I often hear members of networking groups say things like “anybody who needs…” or “somebody who is looking for…” or “everyone with a car…” Usually, when I hear anybody or everyone, I tune out, because I know so many anyones and somebodies, that I end up referring no one! This is an interesting dynamic, but I think it has a lot to do with information overload. When you are asking for a specific type of business referral, your request to your networking partners should be specific! Using a catch phrase that is so broad and generic will limit the effectiveness of the results you will get.
  3. Teach your network members what your “dream referral” looks like.
    If you could come to your next business networking meeting with a walking, talking dream referral in tow, what would they be like? You want to be very descriptive of this person as you talk to your networking partners; make it so descriptive that it’s like that person is in the room with you. The more details you provide, the greater the chance that your partners will recognize that person when they come across them outside of the meeting! You can even include their name or their position in a specific company.
  4. Share customer stories.
    This is a highly effective way to educate your networking partners about who and what it is that you are looking for as a new customer. By sharing the qualities and aspects of your current clientele, you are illuminating the canvas for the rest of the group so they can see the picture you are portraying for them. When appropriate, consider bringing in a customer or client to talk about how you and your company have helped them. These kinds of interactions go a long way toward educating the group as to the type of person you wish to have referred to you.

Remember, successful networkers use their presentation time to “educate a sales force”  instead of trying to “close a sale.” Shift your intention in the group and you will find that the quality of referrals will shift for the better, too. Your time to close the sale will come when you are with the referrals that you receive from the group. By keeping your focus on educating your networking partners about what type of referrals you wish to receive from them, you will find that the referrals you get will be of a higher caliber and have more chances of becoming closed sales than if you try to sell your fellow members on what you are offering. Keep in mind that when you join a closed contact network, you are partnering with a group of people who will become, in essence, your sales force. To help them help you, you need to educate, educate, educate.

What are some phrases you use to educate your network on the products and services you offer? Are there any tactics that you tried that simply don’t work? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

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Leadership Strategies for Effective Communicationstring(49) "Leadership Strategies for Effective Communication"

I was interviewed by Karen Mangia for Medium.com as part of the series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” This is fourth and final excerpt from that interview.

THE QUESTION

What advice would you offer to other leaders who are struggling to have their messages heard and actioned?

MY ANSWER

The communication saturation and barking dogs strategy are key to getting a message out there.

“Barking dogs” are people who have opinions that you may or may not want to hear, and they will be barking outside the room if you don’t let them into the room. It takes a strong leader to handle the barking dogs but that’s what it takes to have good communication.

Also, it helps if you lean on the healthy core values of the company or organization. An effective leader needs to be the core value champion. Use the core values as part of the communication strategy.

QUESTION

Leading a remote, distributed team requires a different communication cadence and style from leading a team in person. What are five strategies any leader can deploy to improve communication and clarity when leading a distributed workforce?

ANSWER

While not five “strategies” exactly, I do believe that the “Four Knows” that lead to Co-Creation encompass all we need as leaders for clear and effective communication.

1.First is Focus.

These are the seven things to consider:

Mutually Desired Outcomes

The who, what, where, when, why, and how

It’s more than the “what”

Who — stakeholders

Why — what is the reason or reasons

Most important is the “how”

Commit to measurable outcomes

2.Second is Communication.

Those key points are:

Everyone speaks — we all have a unique perspective

Everyone respects

Everyone is patient

Everyone is honest

Everyone is transparent

Everyone builds trust

Everyone commits 100%

3.Third is Process.

Determine the co-creation structure you plan on using: Think tank, crowdsource, open source, or user generated.

Establish governance

Have clear roles and responsibilities

Deliver predictable results

4.Fourth is Execution.

Clarify expectations

Leverage contextual intelligence

Ask questions

Lead from behind — with guardrails

Coach and cultivate

QUESTION

What are the three most effective strategies to diminish distractions when there is so much competing for attention?

ANSWER

The first is certainly to be sure your team knows that you aren’t just listening to them, but you are HEARING them as well. When people feel like they are being heard, they will pay attention when you need them to be focused.

Communicate clearly to your team that they need to “hold the vision, not the obstacles.”  Obstacles tend to be the biggest distractions. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the distraction. If you get your team to focus on the vision, they tend to find workarounds for the distractions.

The best way to get people to focus on the vision is a concept I talk about in The 3rd Paradigm — that is “Communication Saturation.” When the leader saturates the team with relevant information (including a focus on the overall vision), it definitely helps to pull people away from distractions.

QUESTION

What is one skill you would advise every leader to invest in to become a better communicator?

ANSWER

The ONE skill that every leader should have to be a better communicator is to know that… there is NO one skill. It is always a recipe of factors. It’s like a great meal — one ingredient does not make a great dinner. It is a recipe that includes several things. For communication it includes things like being clear and transparent as well as practicing active listening, holding the vision, and communication saturation,

FINAL QUESTION

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

ANSWER

Others would have to say whether I have achieved this concept or not, but I feel that is exactly what I have done. BNI now has over 11,100 groups meeting in 77 countries around the world every week. More importantly, in the last 12 months (as of this blog’s publication date), the organization has generated $22.9 Billion US Dollars in business for our members (based on what they report via our online platform). If you take the UN estimates of Gross Domestic Product, there are over 100 countries in the world with a LOWER GDP than what BNI members generated for themselves in the preceding 12 months. That feels like a fairly effective movement to me.

 

 

 

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Communication Skills for Leadersstring(32) "Communication Skills for Leaders"

I was interviewed by Karen Mangia for Medium.com as part of the series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” This is third of four excerpts from that interview.

THE QUESTION

According to a recent Harvard Business School study, the most essential communication skill for leaders is the ability to adapt their communication style. How do you adapt your communication style?

MY ANSWER

The first step to adapting your communication style is to have good “contextual intelligence.” Good leaders are good facilitators. They understand the context of the situation. A leader understands the limits of their knowledge and adapts that knowledge to an environment different from the one in which it was developed.

Do not lead with a cookie-cutter approach. You can’t treat all situations or people exactly the same.

It is important for leaders to develop contextual intelligence to deal with challenges. This is the ability to adapt to the current situation. We can never conceive of all the potential problems in any given situation. This means that one’s ability to adapt is truly an important key to being a great leader. Do your best to understand the landscape and adapt.

However, you cannot plan for every unexpected situation. Sometimes, “what cannot go wrong will go wrong” which means you need to have a plan in place to address surprises that might hit you along the way.

QUESTION

Clarity is critical as well. What lessons have you learned about how to communicate with clarity in our distracted world of work?

ANSWER

Communication is an important part of my book, The 3rd Paradigm. In order for it to be effective, the leader must have seven rules:

  1. Everyone speaks — we all have a unique perspective
  2.  Everyone respects
  3.  Everyone is patient
  4. Everyone is honest
  5. Everyone is transparent
  6. Everyone builds trust
  7. Everyone commits 100%

Whenever I was dealing with a crisis, I practiced what I call “communication saturation.” I would saturate the organization with all the information possible to show transparency and to make sure everyone was being informed.

Secondly, and this one is difficult — bring the “barking dogs” into the conversation. These are people who have opinions that you may or may not want to hear and they will be barking outside the room if you don’t let them into the room. It takes a strong leader to handle the barking dogs but that’s what it takes to have good communication.

Karen: We often discover what works by experiencing what doesn’t. Tell us about a time when your communication didn’t lead to the desired results and what you learned from the experience.

From The 3rd Paradigm, we found seven problems relating to working together as a team:

– Personality conflicts
– Dealing with egos
– Poor communication
– People who don’t pull their weight
– Lack of agreement on who makes the final decision
– Individuals hijacking the direction of the project
– Nonaligned vision for the project

The more prepared the leader can be to address these issues using their contextual intelligence and adaptive capacity — the more successful they will be.

 

 

 

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The One Rule to Happinessstring(25) "The One Rule to Happiness"

Would you like to know the “One Rule to Happiness?” Here it is… there is no “one rule!”  It’s a recipe, a combination of things that help you achieve the life you desire. There is, however, one truth and that truth is that the quality of your life depends on the people in your life.  

Imagine that you live your life in one room and that one room has only one door. Now imagine that this door is an “Entrance Only” door, “No Exit!”  Whoever comes through this door will be in your room and your life – forever! They can never get out.

Luckily, this is a metaphor but let’s assume for a moment it was true. If so, would you be more selective about the people that you let into your life? Everyone I’ve ever talked to has said, “oh yea, definitely!”

So, the question then is – why aren’t we more selective? In fact, I would argue that the “Room Principle” is more than a metaphor. Think for a moment about someone who was once in your life, but they are no longer part of your life. Think of their name. Remember how they created chaos in your life. Maybe they were angry or toxic or just difficult to be around. Take a moment – do you have someone in mind?

Well, if they’re still in your head – they’re still in your in your room because every decision you make in the future will be based in part on the past experiences you had with this person. Neuroscientist, Dr. Daniel Amen, says; “that significant input that is received in your brain triggers neural activity that cannot simply be erased.” In other words, their fingerprints are all over your brain.

The Doorkeeper

This means that if you want to create your best life, you need to learn how to screen entry into your room. For this, I recommend the “Doorkeeper Principle.” The Doorkeeper guards entry into your room and your life. This is your conscious and subconscious mind. It is a process of thought and feelings to help you determine whether your door should remain closed or be opened to allow someone entry into your life.

The first thing you need to do is train your Doorkeeper on your values. This is important because you want to allow people into your room who have values that are resonant with yours. They don’t have to be the same values, but they can’t be dissonant or incongruent with yours. When I ask people to name their top 5-7 values, you can generally hear crickets so here’s a great technique to begin the training: start with your “deal-breakers.” These are the behaviors that are incongruent with yours. These are the things that you refuse to allow into your room and into your life starting now. They may be things like being toxic, exhibiting excess drama, not being truthful, not being positive.  They are the things that you just can’t stand to be around. When you start understanding these, it’s easier to move towards the things you do want around you. If you want to begin this process, go to a site on the internet that will help you to determine the values that you want to live your life by.

Understanding your values and training your Doorkeeper will help you screen all the future people who try to gain entry into your room, but what do you do with some of the negative or toxic people that are already there?

Two Techniques to Use

Here are two great techniques to use. First, is “Benign Neglect.” This is where you gradually reduce contact and interaction with someone. Assuming that you don’t want to burn bridges, but you do want to remove yourself from the relationship, a gradual dis-entanglement over a period of time is very effective. This works even when you don’t want it to. Think about someone you really did like but that you lost touch with over the years. This generally happens through unplanned benign neglect. Now, imagine achieving this with a plan.

The second way to help you address people in your room you wish you hadn’t allowed entry to is through “Homeopathic Doses.” A homeopathic dose is the minimum dose necessary to treat a problem. In this case, it’s about dealing with people in your room by structuring your interaction with them in very small doses.

Other people have power over your happiness only if you let them. Don’t let them. Instead, curate the life of your dreams.

My Fourth Annual Founder’s Day Eventstring(38) "My Fourth Annual Founder’s Day Event"

In 2021, I announced that I was beginning a new tradition called “Founder’s Day” which is a day where I meet with BNI® members from around the world in exclusive one-to-one meetings. This is possible because of the technological innovations that allow us to conveniently have global video conversations from the comfort of our own home or office, which fits in very well with our BNI Core Value of Traditions + Innovation.

The Founder’s Day idea came from of my favorite television shows called West Wing, which talked about the “Big Block of Cheese” concept in one of the episodesThe story goes that in 1835, the U.S. President, Andrew Jackson, was given a 1,400-pound block of cheese from a grateful dairyman. The gift was delivered to the White House (the U.S. President’s residence) and he didn’t know what to do with that much cheese. So, he opened the doors of the White House for the public to come in and take some of the tasty cheese for themselves. They say that thousands of visitors came to the White House and dispatched the massive cheese block in just a few hours.

The “West Wing” series had a few other episodes where they took this concept further and required that all the President’s top staff meet with public citizens to listen to topics that they would not normally hear about and embrace.

That motivated me to do a networking variation of the idea. Founder’s Day is my opportunity to meet with BNI members from around the world for the purpose of answering their questions about business or networking or leadership.

The results from the first three annual events have been gratifying. I have enjoyed the one-to-one meetings and greatly appreciate the 30+ conversations with BNI members as well as their positive comments. One person shared afterward, “It was an inspired session. I am ready to hit new destinations in this journey.” A new book in both English and Hindi, “Knowledgepreneur”, came about because of one the meetings. I was able to connect with people from around the world in a way that was meaningful for both of us.

BNI Members: You’re Invited

BNI members – I invite you to follow me on social media for information on how you can submit YOUR request to be part of my 2024 Founder’s Day on June 27th.

You can find all of my social media links at the top of this page. The Founder’s Day posts will provide the submission form with due date information.

Have Your Own 1-2-1s, Too

Business owners, managers, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals: have you invited your team or your clients to have a conversation with you or ask you some questions? Purposeful meetings can be a great way to build and strengthen your business relationships.

The 2024 Founder’s Day is taking place on Thursday, June 27th. I invite you to have your own special day of 1-2-1 meetings that day, too (or a least do 1 or 2 that day). Schedule time to meet with your customers or your teammates so you can hear and answer their questions. You may discover overlapping areas of professional and personal interests, and you may find ways that you can help them in their business or role. BNI members, when you meet with fellow BNI members, remember to share your One-to-One information in BNI Connect.

 

BNI Members Only: Click here to submit your 1-2-1 request for 2024 Founder’s Day.

It will take place on Thursday June 27, 2024, from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm CDT.

The completed form must be received by May 16, 2024, 11:59 pm EDT.

 

An Unexpected Twist in My Careerstring(32) "An Unexpected Twist in My Career"

I was interviewed by Karen Mangia for Medium.com as part of the series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” This is second of four excerpts from that interview.

THE QUESTION

What is the most unexpected twist in your career story, and what did you discover from your detour?

MY ANSWER

Being diagnosed with cancer at the height of my career was the most unexpected detour for me personally and professionally.

After the initial shock and resulting conversations with my close family, I started to think about how I was going to handle this within my company. As the Founder and senior executive of an international referral marketing organization (BNI®), I have a fair amount of public recognition and I am the public figure for the company. Thinking about how my diagnosis would affect my company, so many questions ran through my mind:

Should I try to keep the diagnosis secret?
Do I only tell key people?
Would I still be able to run the company during treatment?
Or do I need to hire someone to take on my role?
Seeing this as a potential weakness, would our competition try and take advantage of us during this time?
And at the end of the day, will my illness hurt the bottom line of the organization?

To me, the answer to the first question would help determine the direction I would take with the others.

The Path I Chose

So, I started with the question of keeping it secret. Let me first say that this is a very personal decision. Everyone’s experience is different, and I can completely respect it if someone chooses to tell virtually no one. I, however, did not choose that direction. BNI is a business networking, “word-of-mouth” organization. The idea of keeping that kind of secret in an organization like ours seemed impossible to me. So rather than try to keep it private, I chose to “go public”. I thought this strategy would help me guide the messaging. Note that I didn’t say “control the message” because I can tell you from first-hand experience — you cannot control it. However, I do believe you can guide and influence the message greatly by coming out in front of it.

Having decided to go public, I did it with a communication plan in place. After I decided what I was going to do for my treatment and why, I created a communication hierarchy of who I was going to tell and when. Below is the communication hierarchy I used for the dissemination of information. All of these were done within a three-day period:

Extended family
Close personal friends
Key management of the company
Employees at the Headquarters office
Franchisees world-wide
Global employees and independent contractors
Our clients
The public through my blog and social media

Since I opted for transparency in regard to my diagnosis and treatment, I chose to not hire someone to take on my responsibilities. Instead, I asked for help from those people who worked for me directly and indirectly. I asked if my close team would step up and fill in for me as needed and if my extended team (such as franchisees) would allow me more flexibility with project due dates and serious matters that would normally require my personal attention such as contract issues. They did so without hesitation.

As for the competition, that was easy. I have always believed that we shouldn’t worry about what our competition is doing (know what they are doing but don’t obsess over it) and instead, focus on improving our business every day. If we continued to do that with the team that was in place, we would not have to obsess over the competition and we didn’t.

That left the question of our bottom line. Before I answer that, let me discuss my mindset a little further. I chose transparency as the approach to my diagnosis. Transparency to the point that I posted multiple blogs on my site talking very specifically about what treatment approach I was pursuing and how I was doing every few months. I knew that if I didn’t update people, they would fill in the blanks themselves and it may or may not be accurate. I wanted to put the message out there myself — whether it was good or whether it was bad. I set sail for that approach not knowing how it would end.

I’m pleased to say that I am fully and completely in remission today. What’s also important is that my organization was able to follow my journey first-hand. They did not have to guess or wonder what I was doing. I put it all out there publicly and rumors did not flourish.

So, how did the company do during this period? Well, since my diagnosis the company has more than doubled in size. I think that happened because I had good people in place who were willing to step up when the boss was down. If I had to do it all over again — I’d do it exactly the same way.

 

 

 

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A Memorable Career Moment

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Karen…

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A Memorable Career Momentstring(25) "A Memorable Career Moment"

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Karen Mangia for Medium.com as part of the series called “Can You Hear Me Now?: Top Five Strategies Leaders Use to Diminish Distractions & Win in the Attention Economy.” This is the first of four excerpts from the interview.

THE QUESTION

What is one of your most memorable career moments, and what made it memorable?

MY ANSWER

An online platform for my company had recently been released, and it crashed and burned like the Hindenburg.

Immediately after, I was at a company conference and getting ready to face some of my key leaders. I stood nervously in front of the room and said:

“I want to apologize for what was released a few months ago. It was not what I promised it would be, and I take full responsibility for that. What I’d like for all of you to do is tell me everything you don’t like about the platform. Everything. Don’t leave anything out. I want to hear it all.”

This was my “Listen Till They Drop” strategy. Let them vent continuously for several hours. Do not interrupt them and, no matter what, do not argue with them about any suggestions or complaints they share. They needed to unleash their anger, and I needed to stay quiet and listen — not exactly my natural strength.

After three hours and more than 500 issues, a long silence finally fell over the room. The crowd was exhausted. They had nothing else to share. My “Listen Till They Drop” strategy had allowed them to release their pent-up anger. Maybe now everyone could focus on a solution.

I looked at them and shared my sincerest belief about this project: “Everything’s Going to Be OK. EGBOK. We’ll get through this. We will get through this because all of us are better than one of us. If we all work together to address these issues, we will create, together, a platform that will be a game changer for the company. Now, who wants to volunteer for the project board?”

I watched with immense relief as people began volunteering. By the end of the meeting, they had created a list of issues to investigate and put a plan in place. More importantly, there was a general sense of relief and accomplishment in the room. There was a sincere belief that the group could find a solution to the many problems the organization faced with this new venture. The tidal wave of anger had transitioned to the stillness of confidence. This was a productive meeting.

What could have been the worst day of my career might just prove to be the best one. The plan was in place. Soon the real work of co-creation would begin. I realized that the process would be messy, difficult, and frustrating — but I also knew it could work.

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