Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”string(58) "Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”"

Stewart Emery (Success Built to Last) was over my house a few months ago.  At breakfast one morning he told me about an interview he did with a well-known billionaire in the computer industry.  The billionaire shared an intriguing story with Stewart about an experience he’d had when the senior executives of a company interested in purchasing his company visited his office to discuss the possible purchase.

Stewart Emery

 

At lunch, the billionaire told the senior executives of the company he was negotiating with that he was going to take them to the Executive Dining Room.  They followed him to the dining room which was very nice but not extravagant.  But that wasn’t the big surprise.  The surprise was that the dining room had a buffet line.  Moreover, the billionaire walked up to the buffet line, picked up a tray, and stood in line behind everyone else.  The executives looked around the room as it filled up and they realized that this room was not an “executive dining room” but was the company dining room.  The boss stood there in line with all the employees.  He spoke to everyone.   No one was afraid to talk to him.  In my opinion, he didn’t lead by being above them; he led by being among them.  Stewart told me that the billionaire said the management team was surprised by the fact that he and all the executives ate with all the employees.  One of them commented that this would have to change.  For the boss, it was a test.  This was not the kind of company that he wanted to sell his business to.  The negotiation ended that day.

Companies have a choice.  They can move toward exclusivity in their organizational culture or they can strive, commit, honor, and embrace inclusivity in their organizational culture.

Sometimes when people meet me, they say that they are surprised that I am approachable.   I find that interesting.  I think they feel this way because sometimes we, as leaders, act in a way that people perceive as unapproachable.  We act “better than” to other people.  I believe people should be surprised when a leader is unapproachable, not when they are approachable.  The problem is that we live in a world where success sometimes creates a sense of separation (with both the organizational leaders and others).  One of the key things to embrace in a successful company is the sense that the boss, the owner, the senior executive(s) are, in fact, approachable.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Please feel free to share any relevant stories and experiences you may have.

Is Your Path to Success Ignited by an Emotionally Charged Connection?string(69) "Is Your Path to Success Ignited by an Emotionally Charged Connection?"

In this video, I talk with my good friend and partner in the Referral Institute, Eddie Esposito, about a very interesting concept he helped develop which I’ve never before mentioned on this blog site–Emotionally Charged Connection.

Many people are not conscious of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it’s the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the check book or the head–there’s a big difference.  Once you become conscious of this Connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply five important elements of success which we talk about in the video: Vision, Mission, Goals, Strategy, and Action.

After watching the video, if you’d like to learn more about ways to develop your emotionally charged connection with your prospective clients, go to www.ReferralInstitute.com and locate a franchise in your local area or call the Referral Institute main line and they will be happy to direct you to where you can get more information.

Does Business Networking Have a Place in Formal Education?string(58) "Does Business Networking Have a Place in Formal Education?"

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., Roger Green asks me about my view on the idea that high cost education doesn’t necessarily prepare students for the real world.

In answering him, I talk about my feelings on where business networking fits into the world of formal education and I share some statistics about the true effectiveness of networking which, to me, are mind boggling; I also tell a personal story about having lunch with the Dean of Business at a prominent university and how his words to me speak volumes about the current position business networking holds in the world of higher learning.

What are your personal feelings on where business networking currently fits into, or currently should fit into, the world of formal education?  Did you study business at the university level?  If so, what was your experience?–Did you receive any education about networking while you were working on your degree(s)?  Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section.

Who’s in Your Room?string(25) "Who’s in Your Room?"

“Who’s in Your Room?”  This was the question asked by a close friend of mine, Stewart Emery (pictured in this blog) at a presentation of his that I attended a few months ago.

He posed an interesting series of questions and ideas to the audience; “What if you had to live your life in one room?  Whoever you want to interact with in life is in that room.  There is only one door.  It is a one-way door.  Whoever is in your room, stays in your room forever.  Whoever comes into your room impacts your life directly in many ways.  If you knew that this person would be in your room forever, would you have let that person in your room?”

He went on to ask, “If you let people in – what would your room look like?  Would it be:

  • An angry room?
  • Chaotic room
  • Happy room?
  • Conflicted room?
  • Would there be a lot of drama?
  • Are there too many people in the room?
  • Too many interruptions?”

His point was that the quality of your life is a direct reflection of who is in your room.  How you manage who you let into your room (and life) is very important.  How do we go about choosing who we let in?  He suggested a sort of mental “doorman” who is trained on your values and your passions.  It is this doorman who stops people from getting into your life who conflict with your values and passions.  Nobody gets in who doesn’t meet your personal values.

He asked us to do an exercise to think about the people who are in our room now.  Are there people close to us that don’t live our values?  Would we have let them in if we had thought about this concept before letting them close to us?

We design the room we live in, along with the people who are in it.  We can do that consciously, or we can do that by happenchance.  The choice is ours.  Understanding this idea now, who are we going to let in our room from this point on?

This concept fits powerfully with building a powerful personal network.  The people we bring in close to us should be people we want to work with.  They should be people who share our values and our passions.  Understanding this simple concept can help us to understand the difference between an opportunity or a distraction.  It can help us choose between a person who we think has a skill set we need versus a value set we wish to emulate.

What do you think about the concept of “Who’s in Your Room?”  Knowing this concept now – what would you do different in the future?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Unsolicited Advice is Rarely Appreciatedstring(40) "Unsolicited Advice is Rarely Appreciated"

I recently received an unsolicited e-mail message from a man named Chris.  The message stated:

I watched the “video for International Networking Week and… I found it personally offensive and amateurish.  I just thought you would like some feedback.  Consider that when you make your presentation on the Today Show [next week].”

OK, so I should begin by saying – I don’t know Chris.  I’ve never met him and have never talked to him.  Why he would feel compelled to send me such a ‘pleasant’ communication, I can’t fathom.

However, I am thankful to Chris.  I’m thankful because his e-mail message gives me an opportunity to talk a little bit about relationship networking.

Every time you communicate with someone (especially the first time) it is a chance to construct or deconstruct a relationship. This is the first time I’ve ever heard from Chris.  I’d have to say that “first contact” wasn’t very constructive.

I’m not sure what possesses people to send unsolicited criticism to someone they don’t know.  But it seems to be happening more and more in this digital world.  I can’t imagine that Chris would have the chutzpa to say this to someone if he were face-to-face with them.  However, the digital world is ripe with cyber critics who can say what they want and feel more removed from the situation via the internet (it’s possible that being outside striking distance may have something to do with that).

I went back and looked at the “offending” video.  Since Chris didn’t specify what “offended” him, I have no idea what was said that was so offensive to him.  As for “amateurish,” well, I understand that opinions are like noses, everyone has one (that’s the G-Rated version of this saying).  Despite knowing the opinion thing, I thought I should look at the video again closely.  It was shot by a professional videographer.  It had multiple camera angles, professional lighting, and even makeup (maybe that was offensive to Chris?).  I’ve had people say that this video was a bit “artsy” with the cutaways being a little distracting.  Some people didn’t like the switching between black & white and color.  At least those comments were specific and constructive.   But, amateurish – really?  I thought maybe this guy had some amazing website that would put my video to shame so I checked it out.  Ahh, rather than go to the dark side, let’s just say I wouldn’t refer him based on his website.

Here’s the bottom line:  if you want to succeed in life, make your own business better and be sparing in the way you criticize others.

I know, I know, some people just can’t help themselves.  So, if you just can’t hold back and you feel compelled to vent on some other poor unsuspecting soul, consider these four things before you press “send” on your nasty-gram:

  1. Is your criticism unsolicited?  Unsolicited advice (especially from people you don’t know – is rarely appreciated).
  2. Do you know the person to whom you’re sending the criticism?  If not, why are you really sending it (other than to get something off YOUR chest and put it onto their shoulders)?
  3. Whether you know them or not – is your intention to give ‘constructive’ suggestions (otherwise known as meaningful, specific, positive ideas) or just to vent?  If it’s to vent – tell a friend who loves you instead and leave the person you don’t know alone.
  4. If you send this communication – will it help construct a relationship or deconstruct a relationship?  If it’s the latter – remember Mom’s advice: if you don’t have anything good to say, say nothing at all!

No one has ever built a statue to a critic.  It’s easy to tell other people what they are doing wrong.  It’s hard to do the right thing yourself.

Have you ever had this type of experience?  If so, what did you do?  What would you add to my list above?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter.

 

Emotional Equationsstring(19) "Emotional Equations"

I had the opportunity to hear Chip Conley speak at the Transformational Leadership Council this last weekend.  He spoke about his new book Emotional Equations.

Chip created this self-help paradigm in order to break down life’s toughest obstacles into manageable facets that you can see clearly – and influence.  When Chip suffered a series of tragedies in the space of just a couple years – and his heart inexplicably flatlined after a speech – he began using what he came to call “Emotional Equations” (like Joy = Love – Fear) to help him understand and articulate what was going on in his internal system. These simple formulas helped him focus on the variables in life that he could deal with, rather than ruminating on the unchangeable constants (the bad economy, death, taxes) he could not.

Emotional Equations give people a new perspective on life and lead them beyond the concept of emotional intelligence and into an emotional fluency that enables someone to identify, name, and manage elements that can define, hurt, and help them. Equations like “Despair = Suffering – Meaning” and “Happiness = Wanting What You Have ÷ Having What You Want,” have been reviewed for mathematical and psychological accuracy by experts. With compelling real-life stories, Conley inspires people who study his material through these equations and to formulate others to address their own circumstances.

Chip says: “In these turbulent times, when so many are trying to become ‘superhuman’ in order to deal with life’s speed bumps, tragedies, and setbacks, Emotional Equations guides you toward becoming a ‘super human’ being.”

I highly recommend the book.

My Daddy Is Ambassador and I’m a Browniestring(46) "My Daddy Is Ambassador and I’m a Brownie"

When Martha Taft was a young girl in elementary school, she was asked to introduce herself to a group of people. “My name is Martha Bowers Taft,” said the child. “My great-grandfather was President of the United States. My grandfather was a United States Senator. My daddy is Ambassador to Ireland. And I am a Brownie.”

 I thought of that quote when I recently heard the following story from Nanette Polito from Cincinatti:

In this day of technology, our younger generation understands all the social media and how to communicate through texting, email, instant messaging, and Facebook. We, the slightly older generation, need them to help us wade through it.

But does the younger generation really understand the importance of creating face-to-face personal relationships?

 

As a member of BNI for the last 14 years and an area director for Greater Cincinnati and Northern KY for the last eight years, my son and daughter both grew up on BNI. What I never realized was they were watching from afar and taking it all in.

During the summer months, the kids sometimes would tag along with me to my chapter visits. Because they were business meetings, I would have them sit off to the side. One particular morning my daughter, then 12, sat in a different part of the restaurant. The group did not want her sitting alone and insisted she sit with us. So, I let her.

The meeting proceeded, and it came time for the 60-second commercials; Alexandra was sitting on my right and the commercials were going clockwise. As the gentleman on my daughter’s right stood to give his commercial, I prepared to give mine. But, before I could stand, Alexandra jumped up and said, “Hi, my name is Alexandra Polito. I am 12 years old and a Red Cross Certified babysitter. A good referral for me would be your children, if you need a qualified sitter.”

I was proud—and shocked—and so were my fellow members! Of course, we all commended her on a job well done. Proof? She received two referrals!

Who knew that those years of watching taught both of my children how to network. To this day they both have used those skills. Recently, I was talking to Alexandra about this memory and asked her if her fellow college mates really knew how to network; she stated they really didn’t.

Networking is not something taught in school, and our younger generation doesn’t understand that real importance of that face-to-face meeting and becoming visible, which leads to credibility.

So, yes, we are our children’s most important teachers, they are watching us! Make sure they see you networking and help them to understand what it is you are doing and why it is important.

 

What are we teaching our children about networking?  I’d love to hear a story from you about this.

Perception is Everythingstring(24) "Perception is Everything"

I saw a presentation at a BNI Conference a couple years ago by Chick Gallagher, my Executive Director in Delaware and part of Pennsylvania.

In his presentation he talked about “perception” being relative and how small things can substantially alter one’s perception.  On one of his Power Point slides he had the words:

A woman without her man is nothing.

As you might suspect, it got loud boos from the audience.  Then, he added two commas to the wording.  It still fell in disfavor with the audience (especially the women):

A woman, without her man, is nothing.

Finally, without changing any words he simply changed the first comma to a colon and moved the second comma to a different place in order to make this sentence:

A woman: without her, man is nothing.

As you might suspect – this sentence got loud applause from the audience (especially the women).  His point was that small changes in communication can completely alter the meaning of what is being communicated.

Punctuation is like people’s perception. A minor change can make a big difference in how the message is received and understood.

Have you run into this during your lifetime?  If so, share it here. 

ps. Before I posted this blog, I showed it to my wife.  She told me about a FaceBook page called: Let’s Eat Grandma OR Let’s Eat, Grandma.  The site says – see, punctuation saves lives!

 

Do Men or Women Get More Referrals?string(35) "Do Men or Women Get More Referrals?"

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7spXRgDljhg&feature=channel_video_title[/tube]

[Business Networking and Sex is scheduled to be released in January of 2012.  Stay tuned to other topics from the book by visiting www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com.]

Do women get a higher percentage of business from networking or do men? This is the lively discussion taking place between my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I in this short video.  What do you think?  I’d love to get your opinion on the topic!

After watching the video, leave YOUR opinion here.  Share which gender you believe gets a higher percentage of their business from networking and WHY.

A Life in Leadershipstring(20) "A Life in Leadership"

Last week I had an opportunity to go out to dinner with Dr. Warren Bennis after his presentation at the University of La Verne.   It was a true pleasure to spend time with him in a small group.  Dr. Bennis sat on my doctoral committee at the University of Southern California and I had a chance to study under him for a brief period while I was there.

For those few people who may not know who Warren Bennis is, let me suggest that you pick up almost any major book on the subject of “leadership” and I can almost guarantee that Bennis either wrote it or will be quoted in it.

His latest book is called: Still Surprised, A Memoir of a Life in Leadership. I highly recommend this book to you. Bennis is a master story teller who teaches by telling interesting and relevant stories interwoven with tangible and applicable advice.

His presentation last week took me back to my graduate school days.  I sat in the audience at the foot of an icon in the field of leadership and I took copious notes as he spoke to the group.   Here are some of the things he shared in his presentation and at dinner later that evening which impressed me:

He started his presentation by stating that “an organization is not about the buildings, it’s about the values that are passed on.”  He shared four key values relating to leadership:

  1. Showing respect is very important.  In fact, it is critical for great leadership.  We forget how sensitive people can be.  Simple things like saying hello or thank you.  Making other people feel important.  These are small gestures that can yield great results.
  2. Admitting mistakes. If you make a mistake, say “’boy’ I screwed up, but I’ll make this right.”  Telling the truth about mistakes makes us stronger.
  3. Adaptive capacity (This was my biggest takeaway of the night!) He said that it is important for us to develop the contextual intelligence to deal with challenges.  NO, 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.
  4. You have to want it! Being in the role of leader is something you must truly want.  If it’s not something you are passionate about – you’re in the wrong place.  Also, it is important to abdicate your ego to the needs of the organization.

During the evening, he quoted a couple of characters from Shakespeare, the first being Glendower who said, “I can call the spirits from the vast deep.” To which the second character, Hotspur, replies, “Why so can I, so can any man.  But, will they come when you call for them?”

Bennis concluded by saying that a defining characteristic of great leaders is that they have inspired followers–people who are inspired to come when called upon by a leader.

Dr. Bennis, it was an honor to spend some time with you last week.  I sincerely hope our paths cross again.

For my readers – which idea above resonates most with you?  Oh…. and pick up this book.  It’s really that good!

Great Opening Questionstring(22) "Great Opening Question"

A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. When you meet someone in a networking environment you should ‘listen’ more than you ‘talk’ (especially if it is the first time you’ve met). Consequently, in books like The 29% Solution and Networking Like a Pro, I’ve written a lot about the kinds of questions you should ask when you meet someone for the first time.

Recently, I was at a networking event and, at the end of the conversation, someone asked me a question that no one has ever asked me before at a networking meeting. She asked, “What is the most amazing thing that has happened to you today?”

I love that question because it is so positive and unique.  It made me stop focusing on anything other than the question at hand and required me to be completely present in the moment because I truly had to think about what the greatest thing was that had happened in my day so far.  At the time, I shared what came to mind with the woman who asked me the question.  However, it’s interesting to note that today, many months later, what I remember most is that question . . . not whatever “amazing” thing happened to me that day.

If you have a great opening question, I’d love to hear it. In the comments section, share a stand-out question that you, or someone you’ve met, has asked at a networking event.

No Faux Pas in India!string(21) "No Faux Pas in India!"

I’m headed to India this week to speak for BNI in Mumbai and Bangalore.  I look forward to meeting many people and having the chance to help them increase their business through referrals.

I’ve traveled to dozens of countries to speak and teach my philosophy of Givers Gain® in business. However, this is my first time to visit this exotic country. I’ve discovered that it is very important to get “briefed” by others before speaking around the world. I learned the hard way in one country during a public presentation that mentioning a woman’s “pants” actually indicates that you are speaking about her “underwear.” A story that talks about a woman’s pants, no matter how funny it is, doesn’t quite achieve the effect it’s supposed to when it’s told by a man and “pants”  means “underwear.”

Another thing I’ve learned is that using a specific phrase about tree roots in Australia or New Zealand can actually mean that you are talking about having sex. Who would have thought?! When I unknowingly used the phrase (in reference to tree roots–not sex) in the title of an article I wrote, folks in New Zealand and Australia began calling and e-mailing in handfuls to let me know of my blunder. On behalf of Americans everywhere who’ve used this phrase when speaking or writing to Australians and New Zealanders, I’d like to apologize.

In Sweden, there’s no expression for “word of mouth.” There, it is translated as “mouth to mouth.” Takes your mind in a whole different direction, doesn’t it?

And then there are hand gestures . . . don’t even get me started on talking about hand gestures! Suffice it to say, I’ve almost caused several international incidents by accidentally making the “wrong” hand gesture in some countries.

I’ll post a blog or two about my visit to India soon. But, before I go, help me out here would you please? Is there anything I should know about speaking in India? I’d really like to head back to the U.S. knowing for sure that the citizens of India are talking about something positive in regard to me . . . something other than me causing a public scene for saying or doing the wrong thing. 🙂

Wish me luck and, please, drop me a note here if you have any helpful information. Thanks!

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