Guest Blog Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®

A More Purposeful Life (by Bijay and Anna Shah)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Bijay Rajnikantt Shah and Anna ShahBNI National Directors – BNI United Arab Emirates

BijayThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a beloved home for people of all ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, religions, and cultures. It has been more than a second home for hundreds of thousands of ex-pats, that have come to this gracious land and made a living, started families, and made life-long friends. With generations of families being settled in this Middle-Eastern country, the new-generation even considers the UAE as their first and ONLY home.

When Anna & I first moved to the UAE, BNI was not on our radar and we had no plans to make it our permanent home. We were just exploring what could be possible and if there might be any opportunities for us to make a good living and build a future for ourselves.

We came here knowing only 2 people in 2004. Fast forward 16 years later and we can proudly call the UAE our permanent home. Our 13-year-old son Aryan is born here and he considers this to be his first and only home. We are surrounded by an active community of over 600 givers in BNI and over the years made connections with thousands more both locally and globally.

As we celebrate the 14th International Networking Week and its theme “A World of Thanks”, Anna & I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest gratitude to the following people for what and who were are today:

Bijay and Anna Shah share a “World of Thanks”

  • Dr. Ivan Misner & the late Elisabeth Misner for creating this amazing organization that is truly Changing the Way the World Does Business®. Over the last 16 years, the BNI system has helped generate over US$ 440 Million in new business for our members in the UAE.
  • Under the Leadership of our CEO, Graham Weihmiller, and the support of the BNI Global Support Team, the last 5 years have seen exemplary progress in our technology and systems – creating a pathway to an even stronger and brighter future both for ourselves and our members.
  • Our Members and our Executive Teams who trust us and followed the BNI system in an organization that changed their life. Their continued support and enthusiasm are what keeps us motivated in doing what we do every day.
  • Lastly and most importantly, the leaders of this great country we now call our permanent home – the UAE. The UAE has also taught so many to dream big and to keep thriving until they achieve success, all being the influence of the great and visionary leader, H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

H.H. Sheikh Zayed’s legacy is indispensable to healing the fractures of a world that is being disfigured by demagoguery and divisive politics. Upholding human dignity – treating “every person, no matter what his creed or race, as a special soul”, as he put it – was his principal objective in public life. He emphasized the urgency of opening up opportunities in “all sectors” for women and warned that no society that excluded half its citizens could prosper. He welcomed people from every part of the world with open arms, transforming the UAE into one of the most pluralistic societies in the world.

The momentous change over which Sheikh Zayed presided was never, in his eyes, a departure from the heritage of the UAE but an affirmation of its finest aspects. The true genius of culture and society lay, he believed, in their capacity to adapt and thrive in a changing world. A cursory glance at the Middle East shows how right he was – and how well he prepared the UAE for the 21st Century. In a region characterized by strife and conflict, the UAE is not only a haven of stability and prosperity but also the place where the future is imagined and brought into being. At the same time, it has given so munificently to the less fortunate that it has gained recognition as the most generous donor of aid on earth.

We owe a World of Thanks to all of the people mentioned above for helping us find meaning and making our life more purposeful – Thank you!

Bijay Rajnikantt Shah and Anna Shah | BNI United Arab Emirates National Directors

#BijayShah   #AnnaShah   #BNIUAE  

Tiago

The Language of Thanks (by Tiago Henriques da Cunha)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Tiago Henriques da Cunha, National DirectorBNI Spain SLC

TiagoIn 2021, BNI invites you to celebrate a World of Thanks! A World of Thanks is a universal and wonderful pledge!

All cultures have a way to express thankfulness. In Portuguese we say “Obrigado”, in French “Merci”, in German “Danke”… but although all these different ways of expressing our positive feelings about something someone has done for us are unique, they all add something special and distinct.

 

I believe from my experience that a glimpse on these ways to say “Thanks” makes our Thanking much more joyful and meaningful.

World of Thanks in Spanish is “Mundo de Gracias” to Tiago

The Spanish word “Gracias” has the same Latin origin as “Gratitud” or “Grace”. So when we say “Gracias” in Spain (or in Latin America), we are telling people that we are “Grateful” and that we wish them to be filled with Grace.

This has a poetic flavor, and it evokes for me the “Law of Reciprocity”: what goes around, comes around. In Spanish culture, saying “Gracias” is not just a word, but something that builds our relationship with that person. Where does this relate to the idea of Networking? I think it has everything to do with it!

Through Networking we should build meaningful relationships with people. Get to know them well, help them in any way that seems appropriate and possible, and yes… thank them when they do something positive for us. Through our Networking endeavors, we build positive, self-fulfilling Communities around us. When we thank people, we are generating well-being and well-feeling. And for that, I think that here lies the power of saying “Gracias”. What better way there is to build those communities than to tell people we are grateful and that we wish them to be full of Grace! That’ is one of the reasons I think Networking is so strong within the Spanish culture (although there is no direct Spanish word for it).

In Spain, relationships are a key part of our culture. People just love to be with other people, from big family gatherings to staying out late on the terrace chatting about anything. So networking comes naturally to Spaniards. Saying “Gracias” was very important to me when I started working in Spain. Coming from a very close country (Portugal), I had to make some adjustments to the way I interact with people. I soon come to discover the uniqueness of saying “Gracias”. In just 9 years, we have created a community of almost 9000 committed people who network together and thank each other every week. Through that journey, I discovered that when really meant, to say “Gracias” is a powerful and truthful relationship builder. No long-term positive relationship is possible without the mindset that saying “Gracias” represents and demonstrates.

So I would like to say “Gracias” to all the people who have helped me on this wonderful journey of developing BNI in Spain: our Members, Executive Directors, Directors and Ambassadors, National Office colleagues, both past and present, and especially to my family. To them, I wish “Un Mundo de Gracias”, a “World of Thanks”, a “World of Graces” during International Networking Week® 2021

Tiago Henriques da Cunha | BNI Spain SLC National Director     

#BNIespanaSLC   #Tiagodacunha

INW

We Care, We Share (by Avryl Au)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Avryl Au, BNI National Director – BNI Thailand, BNI Macau & Hong Kong, China

AvrylWhat a great theme, “A World of Thanks”, is to kick start the year.  Each week on Monday, it is my team tradition when we meet to plan for the week ahead that we share gratitude and thank someone in mind. We often send a caring message to team members who cannot attend due to caring for their own family needs. I am thankful we have a team that sets priorities right, family is our highest priority to care for. We often have full participation every Monday morning. For that, I am thankful to my team of Directors and Ambassadors of KL West and KL South, Malaysia.

I want to say a special thank you to the INW Committee 2020 and continuing to 2021, Desmond Sia, Daisy Lee, Wong Chee How, and Andrew Hooi. Together with a very supportive team of assistants from throughout the regions, INW2020 made history in BNI by introducing a bigger vision and the possibility of Diamond Chapters. The result was 3 double diamond chapters are now in existence, in less than 12 months from the event. The first two were kicked off in 6 months. I sincerely thank the INW Diamond committee for making the historical event.

AvrylAvryl

Avryl thanks her INW teams

In the upcoming INW2021 event on 1 Feb, the same committee has extended the theme  “A World of Thanks”, by encouraging the entire region to care more and share more of their success stories to impact those who are already in BNI and to those that are not yet in BNI. The event’s purpose is to showcase the effectiveness of BNI through the power of stories. They have put together a range of success stories from members who have given beyond expectations for the community they are in. This year the event is online and it is easier to share our stories with the whole world.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Directors, Ambassadors, Leadership Teams, Subject Matter Experts, and Trainers for their persistence and patience to support every member in 2020, one of the most difficult years for a large majority of us. A special mention to Pava and Yee Peng who has walked the extra mile to push forward and accepted more responsibilities for the good of others.

My sincere appreciation to everyone for making my journey in BNI for the last 20 years,  very memorable and fun.

Avryl Au |  KL West & KL South Regions, and Klang Valley, BNI Malaysia Executive Director

#BNIMalaysia #BNIChina  #AvrylAu

Frank

Changing the Way the World Does Business® (by Frank De Raffele Jr.)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Frank De Raffele Jr., BNI Executive Director, Hudson Valley Regions (New York, USA)

FrankAmericans are Too Selfish

What if I told you that I had wanted to get 80,000 people together in the USA to help grow each other’s businesses? Would you think Frank was crazy? Would you say it is impossible? Would you say to me, “Frank, Americans would never do that, they are too focused on themselves, they are too independent, they are too selfish”?

Well, they’re not.  For the last 36 years, hundreds of thousands of American business owners and sales professionals have worked together under the banner of BNI to live a Givers Gain life and to make a difference in each other’s lives.  For over one-third of a century, Americans with their entrepreneurial spirit have been thanking each other for referral business through BNI.

Frank’s Great Memory 

A few years back I was at a BNI chapter meeting.  Toward the end of the meeting, which is when everyone “gives back” to the chapter, a gentleman stood up and shared a big event he had going on that day.  He told the chapter of an appointment he had that morning to close the largest deal ever for his company.  It was NOT a BNI referral.  It was something he had been working on himself for over 3 years.  He was just so excited and proud of finally making it happen he wanted to share it with his “BNI family.”  When he finished telling of his accomplishment the room went wild.  Everyone stood up, applauded, hollered, shook his hand, and hugged him.

As I watched this happen, I thought, “This is amazing.  Where else does this happen?”  Where do you find a group of people who receive no benefit from your business yet are truly excited and happy for your success?  How crazy is it to have a group of people who want to help you grow your business, success, and desired lifestyle?  After, he said his family didn’t even react as his BNI chapter did.

I am Thankful

It hit me hard that morning how lucky and thankful I am for this lifestyle I lead. Through BNI I have built a community of people who are focused on growing their business by first helping others grow theirs.  A community of like-minded people who believe, live and practice Givers Gain.

In 2021 I am thankful for every Nurse, Doctor, Firefighter, EMT, and Police Officer that risks their lives every day for me. Someone they don’t even know. I am thankful for my wife that has put up with me for 30+ years. (God Bless Her!)  I am thankful for the person I am today because of my Mom and Dad.  They were amazing people and parents who taught my sisters and me the value of hard work, respect, honesty and giving to others.  The amazing part is that they didn’t talk much about giving to others, they just did it. My sisters and I learned it by watching them live it.

Finally, I am thankful for a man back in 1985 that decided the way for him to make more money at his business was to put a “referral group” together using the philosophy of Givers Gain.  A simple idea, that became a Global Network called BNI, and for 36 years has been, “Changing the way the world does business.”

My life has been affected in ways that Dr. Misner will never know.  That my family will never know. But I know. I know that I am a better person today than I was 28+ years ago when I first became a member. Thank you, Dr. Ivan Misner, and every leader I have met in BNI that has made me the person I am today.

Frank De Raffele Jr. | BNI Hudson Valley Regions Executive Director

#FrankDeRaffele #BNIUSA   

INW

Diana

We Have Your Back (by Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka)

International Networking Week®: “A World of Thanks” story submitted by Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka, National Director – BNI Uganda

DianaIn May 2005, we launched the first BNI Chapter in Uganda. It was an exciting event and I looked to the future with great expectation. Three weeks later, I had my son, and shortly after his birth, I was diagnosed with vertigo. Vertigo is a deliberating disease that incapacitates you and my doctors could not understand the cause or tell me how long I would be incapacitated.  I could not walk; I could not carry my baby and I could not lead the young BNI team.

After my diagnosis, I received a visit from my business partners, Bijay Shah and Muraguri Elizaphan, and the president of the chapter, Tracey Ntabazi. I could read the shock on their faces as they saw my condition. At that time I was a Launch DC and I had one thought “that my journey with BNI Uganda had to come to an end”. During the visit, I mentioned I did not know how long my condition would be persist.  Bijay, Muraguri, and Tracey left me with one clear message; until I was back on my feet, they had my back.

Today, I am the co-national director of BNI Uganda. The words shared with me in that season have stood the test of time and been proved over and over again. From that season, I embraced BNI Giver’s gain philosophy because I had seen it lived out. Today, BNI Uganda’s Kampala Region has some of the highest retention rates in the world, because we have a culture of watching out for each other and can confidently say to each other, “I have your back”.

Diana owes “Ulimwengu wa Shukrani” to members and leaders from across the world for walking with her and truly having her back:

  • Francios: ED from France: during my first global convention you shared your lessons from your ED experience and I believed I too could make a difference;
  • Runjhun Gupta: for the words of wisdom and courage you have shared in the past and continue to share;
  • Avryl Au: for initiating that conversation in which you expressed your interest in African Art and ultimately flying  over 11 hours to share your 20 years BNI experience with my BNI family;
  • Graham Southwell: for the conversation, we had over lunch when I attended my first Executive Council meeting;
  • Murali Srinivasan: thank you for the morning walks in Dubai and Warsaw and the wisdom you continue to share;
  • Claire Sherman: for answering all my questions graciously;
  • YP Lai: for the lessons you continue to share and doors your opportunities avail;
  • Kenny Olunbanjo and the team from Nigeria: for the celebrations and navigating this BNI journey together;
  • Mike and Beth Levin: you have shared of your resources and are ever ready to help;
  • Sandra Hart: for creating the platform from which so many told their stories and inspired me;
  • BNI Uganda family: you have watched out for each other and created opportunities for each other in all seasons;
  • Bijay, Anuradha, and Muraguri: for starting me off on a journey that has made it possible for us to make a difference together;
  • Mac Srinivasan: for your story to keep our years on the light and not waver; and lastly
  • Ivan Misner: a world of thanks, for without your courage we would not be.

Diana Ninsiima Kibuuka | BNI Uganda National Director

#BNIUganda     #DianaKibuuka    

Stories

We All Tell Stories

Today’s guest blog is an extract from “The Introvert’s Edge to Networking”, by Matthew Pollard about the transformative power of stories. Matthew is the founder and CEO of Rapid Growth, LLC. He is a good friend who has shared much of my content on his platform. I thought you might enjoy some of Matthew’s great material.

Bethany and Shan Jenkins were luxury custom home builders. They worked with people who wanted that “crown jewel,” the $3–$10 million home that blew you away. While networking, they’d meet people who wanted a home like this, but would say, “We’re looking for a designer now; we’ll reach out to you when we’re looking for a builder.” Or, “We have a builder we like already; we’re just looking for a designer to get it drafted.” When they’d try to network with realtors, the response was generally, “We already have a builder we recommend.”

But Jenkins Custom Homes isn’t just a builder—it’s a design-build firm. The distinction is important. When the design and build are done by separate firms, the two sides rarely communicate well with each other, leading to last-minute chaos. The stress can take its toll on a marriage, leave customers with a house they resent, and even turn a dream home into a nightmare. That’s why it’s so important to work with a design-build company who knows what the extras cost and how to design their client’s dream home within budget.

The Jenkins team had a problem communicating this. Bethany felt they came off sounding as though they were bad-mouthing the competition—or trying to scare prospects into giving Jenkins their business. I told Bethany we could create a system for her that leveraged her natural introverted strengths. She asked, “How do I not sound salesy when people say, ‘I’ve already got a relationship with a designer; I’m just looking for a builder’—or vice versa?” “Just tell them stories,” I said. “For example, have you ever had a prospect come to you with a designer’s plans, only to inform them that the design didn’t fit their budget?”

Stories Sell

Bethany told me about Megan, who came to their office, explained what she wanted, then handed over her designer’s plans. The discussion went well, so to conclude the meeting, Shan said, “Great, let us take a look over your plans in more detail and we’ll get back to you on a fixed price.”

Megan replied, quite anxiously, “Can you just give me a ballpark figure now?” Normally, it takes time to calculate all the costs correctly. But Megan was quite insistent. So, Shan gave her a rough guesstimate. Megan burst into tears. She told them that she had informed her designer what her budget was. But after getting the plans, she’d gone to four different builders whose prices were double what she’d budgeted. Megan had worked with her designer for two years to plan the home of her dreams . . . and now five builders had told her there was no way she could afford it. She was either going to have to cancel building her home or spend more money to design a lesser home, always knowing it wasn’t what she really wanted. “How could this happen?” she cried.

I said to Bethany, “As unfortunate as poor Megan’s situation is, it’s a perfect story for showing—not telling—people why working with a designer and builder separately is so risky.” Today, when networking, if someone says, “I’ve already got a relationship with a designer, I’m just looking for a builder,” Bethany simply responds, “Congratulations on starting the process toward your dream home. What a huge milestone. If you’ve already locked in with a designer you’re happy with, excellent. However, has anyone told you about going the designer-then-builder path versus the design-build path, and why it matters so much?”

Many look puzzled and say, “No, what’s that?” Bethany continues: “Well, the major difference is—actually, you know what? Let me give you an example. See, when Megan came to us . . .” Bethany then wraps it up with: “So, of course, I’m not saying if you design and build separately this will happen to you, and I really hope it doesn’t. However, regardless of whether you use us or another design-build option, I strongly suggest you explore the possibility.”

When they do, who do you think they’ll see as the only logical choice? Isn’t that so much easier than self-promotion or feeling like you’re coming across as instilling fear? A simple story neatly sidesteps all that. You’re not expressly telling them they’re doing it wrong, so it doesn’t come across as judgmental. You’re not lecturing. You’re not even saying they should hire you or that their way won’t work. Megan’s story served as a way to educate prospects on the risks while inspiring interest in a different solution. It showed that Bethany understood her listeners, their fears, and how to avoid them.

Megan’s story and two other stories catapulted Jenkins Custom Homes from an annual turnover of $6 million after almost twenty years of operation, to more than $18 million the following year. Moreover, it took an introvert from hating the idea of selling and networking to loving it and dominating her industry! That’s the transformative power of stories.

The Introvert’s Edge to Networking

Matthew Pollard’s new book, The Introvert’s Edge to Networking, is available now.

Download the first chapter free here and check it out for yourself.

Purchase your copy of The Introvert’s Edge to Networking today.

When you purchase, Matthew will also give you free instant access to over $700 worth of bonuses, including The Official Introvert’s Edge Step-By-Step Implementation Training and a personal invitation to his private Facebook community of like-minded introverts.

To claim your bonuses, sign up here with your name, email and order confirmation number.

Giving Tuesday

Infinite Giving on Giving Tuesday

I have asked Julian Lewis to write a guest blog for my website.  Julian is one of my co-authors of the book, Infinite Giving.  Today, he is sharing the topic of “Giving Tuesday”, which is occurring in the USA tomorrow. Even though Julian is from Great Britain, and never heard about “Giving Tuesday” before, he is truly an expert on giving year-round.

As one of the co-authors of the book, “Infinite Giving”, you would expect me to be excited by “Giving Tuesday”, and I am. I am excited because for lots of people it is a reminder of the way we should live our lives every day. In a way, it is sad that we need a day for giving. However, I am a realist and I know that life is not one smooth path and we all need reminders from time to time.

The book, “Infinite Giving” was written by two Brits and a Yank. As a guest on The Yank’s Blog, I have to say “Giving Tuesday” is not a big thing in Britain. That said, nor was “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday”, and “Cyber Monday” years ago, and they are now. So, I suspect that “Giving Tuesday” will follow on. Hence, I am interested to see how “Giving Tuesday” develops.

I know that for many there are quite a few days that people practice giving throughout the year. For people who understand the concept of “Infinite Giving”, every day is an opportunity to give and to gain. I think to provide “Giving Tuesday” some balance it would be better described as “Givers Gain Tuesday”. Givers Gain® is the philosophy of BNI®, and the subject of our book focused on how you make giving infinite with The Seven Principles of Givers Gain®.

Givers Gain is more than a phrase—it’s a way of living one’s life. It’s a perspective to view and interact with the world. It’s an attitude, not an expectation. When it’s applied properly, it will change your life and when it changes enough lives, it will change the world.

When we give others gain, everyone can give something which means also everyone can gain. Just imagine a day where you know that you have something to give and at the same time you will be in receipt of a gift. Then start to imagine that is every day, not just one day in November or December. Let your imagination go wild and see what the world now looks like with all this giving in it. Giving truly can be infinite and what the philosophy of Givers Gain can achieve is also infinite.

What are you going to give? Here are some ideas.

  • Give your ears to somebody who needs to talk
  • Give you time to help a neighbour
  • Give your contacts to recommend a quality supplier
  • Give your knowledge to upskill someone you work with
  • Give your influence to change people view
  • Give your spare funds as a donation to the BNI Foundation

So if you have not yet started your “Infinite Giving”, today is the day to start. Continue on tomorrow and then the next day, do it on purpose for over 20 days and it will become a habit.

There are so many things we can give each and every day. One act of giving matched with one act of gaining can make a difference to the world. Once everyone in the world embraces an “Infinite Giving” mindset the problems of the world can melt away. Let’s all use “Giving Tuesday” to start a chain reaction. 

Gratitude Effect

Thoughts on The Gratitude Effect on Thanksgiving

I have asked Greg Davies to write a guest blog for my website. Greg is one of my co-authors of the book, Infinite Giving“.  He is sharing the topic of “Thanksgiving”, which is a holiday occurring in the USA today. Even though Greg is from Great Britain, and never has celebrated Thanksgiving before, he is truly an expert on the gratitude effect.

This is a bit of a weird one, a blog about Thanksgiving from the co-author of Infinite Giving, the Seven Principles of Givers Gain, which was written by Two Brits and a Yank. Why is that weird, I hear you ask? Well, I can easily discuss the gratitude effect as explained in our book. However, I am firmly in the “Brits” camp and have not attended a single thanksgiving celebration in my entire life (as we don’t celebrate it in the UK). I found myself researching this iconic holiday for the first time. Here is Ivan’s Thanksgiving message from last year. Now at this point, I roll out the elementary school presentation.

The First Thanksgiving

In 1621, 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims gave thanks for a successful harvest with a feast that lasted for at least 3 days, etc etc. Fast forward a few hundred years and we have Turkey, Mash, Pumpkin Pie, and the now infamous Black Friday. What I would much rather do, is point out that the “First Thanksgiving” was far from it.

Yes, it is the most referenced and the one that was recounted by attendee Edward Winslow in the American tradition and yes….well….maybe yes, it was the first where Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down and shared a meal (the jury is still out on that one), but the fact is those at the Plymouth Plantation would regularly give thanks for many different gifts that were bestowed upon them. The early Pilgrims would offer days of thanks for blessings such as military victory, end of a drought, recovery of a sick community member, and in this case, a successful harvest. They had built into their culture that when something good happens you need to take time to recognise it and say thank you.

The gratitude effect is not new-age, it’s science.

We cover this in the book, Chapter 11 Principle 7, The Gratitude Effect. There are some wonderful examples in the book of studies that show just how powerful saying “thank you” can be.

Gratitude, like so many other principles of success, is simple, but not easy.

The Pilgrims built gratitude into their religion and daily lives, it became a pillar of their belief and a cornerstone of their community, and for us to adopt this simple act will take a habit defining decision.

The gratitude effect requires a life-long journey of developing our ability to be grateful.

While the above may sound a little heavy, the actual effort involved in giving genuine gratitude is minuscule, but to begin with, it just feels weird. Try crossing your arms the other way, if you normally go left over right, go right over left or vice versa, SEE! IT JUST FEELS WEIRD. This has nothing to do with one way being right and the other wrong, it is just because your neuropathways have formed, and by doing it the other way, you are forging a new path.

That right there is the point, we must choose to forge a new path. We must accept that it may feel strange to begin with, but stick with it and recognise all of the wonderful things that are happening to us and say thank you. Then, a new habit has been formed.

The gratitude effect doesn’t take much effort and costs little or nothing.

I am thankful for the fact that I was asked to write this blog. I am thankful that in the single most challenging year that we as a planet will (hopefully) face in our lifetime, I have forged some of the strongest friendships, met some of the most inspirational people, and been touched by the light of human kindness like I never have been before. I hope that one day, people will give thanks for the difference I have made to them, because the real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? Happy Thanksgiving from England, the original home of the Pilgrims.

swirl

Become Productive by Getting Out of the Swirl

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”, “Creating Case Studies” and  “A Networking Secret” on my blog.   Today, he is sharing about “The Swirl”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert about getting out of the swirl.

“The swirl” is one of the things we talk about with Harley-Davidson dealers when we are coaching them to improve the profitability of their dealerships. At any given time in a dealership, there are customers considering buying motorcycles, trying on clothes or waiting for their motorcycles to be serviced; service techs working on motorcycles; parts orders arriving via UPS; and a parade of salespeople walking through the showroom. There are a hundred things the dealer would like to pay attention to, and at the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He works hard every day, but he can’t find time for the things that are most important because he is too busy.

That’s the swirl. Perhaps you have it in your own business. So many different urgencies crop up that you aren’t able to work on what’s most important. It’s like one of those shooting galleries at the fair. Targets pop up and you have to shoot them quickly before they disappear again. At the carnival, you’ve got to concentrate on the gallery to score maximum points and get the biggest prize. It feels great when you hit all the targets, both at the carnival and in your business.

When I get into the swirl in my own business, it actually feels good. It’s like I’m the head of an army that’s under attack. I’ve got projects and problems coming at me from all sides, and I’ve got to keep them all under control. While being in the swirl can feel invigorating, staying in the swirl is the wrong approach for a business owner. With Harley-Davidson dealers, we taught them to create trackable goals for each department.

Here is what we coached them to do:

Set your goals by first determining the total amount of money you want to make at the end of the year. Then assign a net profit contribution from each department. Based on that expectation, set goals for each month and what must be done within each department to achieve those goals. For instance, for motorcycle sales to generate the desired amount of profit, determine how many motorcycles the sales department needs to sell as a department. This will allow you to estimate the number of motorcycles each salesperson must sell each week to meet your goal.

Managing this way is like having a pause button for the swirl. You see that it exists, but it’s happening to everyone else, not you. That’s because your attention isn’t focused inside the swirl; instead, you can see all the way through it, straight to your goal. You are able to keep your attention on what’s really important, driving your business toward your real business goals.

Most business owners find themselves caught in the swirl. Within the swirl, we jump from one project to the next. Our goal is to keep everything running so we can quickly move on to the next big idea. We lose sight of where we are really trying to go. And it’s easy to find ourselves working and working and never seeming to make any progress.

It’s important to create a careful plan for the business you want to create. Outline the types of programs you want to offer, and create a timeline for when you’ll implement those programs. What will each of those programs contribute to your company’s profit? Who is responsible for getting them implemented? And for each person with responsibilities, what’s his or her schedule for getting the work done? These basic goal-setting and project management plans can mean the difference between getting caught in the swirl and reaching your business goals.

At the beginning of this year, you probably made some resolutions. You may have set some goals for yourself to achieve. How much progress have you made? If you’ve made progress, it’s probably because you set out monthly, weekly and daily goals in addition to just making a resolution.

If you haven’t made progress, make an appointment with yourself—an appointment you refuse to break. Outline what you need to accomplish each month to make your goals a reality. Consider what has to be done each week. And then put each week’s goals into your calendar so you’ll take a break from the swirl to get the important projects done. In the same way, you’d step away from your business to go to a doctor’s appointment, step away to improve the health of your business by focusing your attention on your most important goals.

While the swirl feels good at the moment, working on your goals gives you a great feeling that lasts. It’s actually a feeling of superiority. You can hold yourself above other business owners when you see them battling within the swirl.

Secret

The Secret Hidden in the Open

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” and “Creating Case Studies” on my blog.   Today, he is sharing a networking secret. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

There’s an ultimate test of physical endurance and mental fortitude: a six-day, 153.2 mile ultra-marathon across the Sahara desert called the Marathon des Sables (Marathon of the Sand). Competitors carry their own supplies as they compete in temperatures exceeding 120 degrees. The longest one-day distance covers 50.6 miles and includes 14.3 miles of sand dunes.

Four-time champion Mohamad Ahansal grew up in the Sahara. And in a place where most just try to survive, the skills Mohamad learned helped him become a winner in one of the most grueling footraces in the world. Since 1997, either Mohamad or his older brother, Lahcen, had won the race, until the 2014 year, when Rachid el Morabity, their trainee, beat Mohamad by seven minutes. Morabity has won the race each year since.

Morabity attributes his winning time to using a unique zigzag method to climb the large sand dunes that make up many miles of the race.

“Other runners, they go directly up the hill,” Morabity says. “They don’t notice the secret.”

Even though it’s easy enough to see the secret, instead of emulating the champion, competitors innovate their own improvements and try to barrel directly up the hill. Their intuition tells them that a straight line is the shortest distance and the shortest distance is always the quickest. Instead of learning from the proven results of the winner, they follow their less experienced intuition.

I used to think the same way. I’d learn a technique or a strategy from a mentor, and then I’d put my own spin on it. I’d say to myself “That may have worked for him, but I’m going to improve it and make it work even better for myself.”

It took me years to figure out my mentor’s technique was already improved. I was learning from the champion. There was no need for me to create my own innovations. Instead, I needed to get better at emulating what had already been proven to work.

I see people (who should know better) make this same mistake all the time. Instead of simply emulating what works, they try to make improvements. Or worse yet, they ignore the aspects that work and imitate the insignificant details.

They see, but they do not learn.

Within BNI, we have Ivan Misner, Ph.D. to learn from and emulate. He’s been networking, teaching networking and thinking about networking for more than 35 years. And yet, what do some new chapter officers do, make their own “improvements” to the system.

On its surface, following the system may appear difficult. It may seem like a harder way.

However, it’s similar to the Marathon des Sables champion’s “shortcut” of zigzagging back and forth while climbing sandy dues for miles. At first glance, the zigzagging appears to add more distance. Why would you want to add steps when you are already running 50 miles through a desert?

It’s because when you are running 50 miles through a desert, adding a few feet through slogging sand in an uphill climb saves you a lot of energy. That saved energy helps you endure longer and reach the finish line more quickly.

Too many people add features, change scripts or create innovations that reduce their own performance. What’s worse, they are also impacting the performance of every member of their chapter.

Instead, focus on following the system.

If you want to make changes, be clear about the goal you are trying to accomplish.  Become a scientist by first setting a hypothesis, “I believe making a change to ____ will increase referrals passed.”

If you can increase the number of referrals passed, Dr. Misner is eager to learn how you did it.

Dr. Misner approaches BNI as an engineer. If you can build a better, cheaper bridge in a shorter period of time, every engineer wants to know about that. Same with Dr. Misner and BNI, if you innovate a way to increase referrals within a chapter, then we all want to know about it.

But, making changes because you have a preference or belief isn’t good enough.  There are too many smart business people who are depending on the performance of your chapter to take any chances.

Follow the secret, hidden in plain sight. Then test innovations to determine their impact on your chapter.

Case Studies

How to Create Case Studies that Make Customers Buy, Engage and Ascend

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience” and “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of creating case studies. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating Case Studies

Your customer has three important decisions to make about you and your products. With each decision you have the opportunity to win or lose the customer.

Those decision points are:

  1. Should I give this product a try?
  2. I bought, is this really worth what I invested in time and money?
  3. I’ve been a customer for a while, I’ve enjoyed this in the past but is this still worthy of my time and money?

There’s one marketing tool that can help your customer choose you each time: a well-crafted client case study.

Really? A client case study?

Yes. These case studies and client stories are the most powerful tools you have on your side to foster strong relationships with potential customers, new customers, and long-time customers.

The publishing industry has undergone a huge transformation in recent years with subscriptions at historic lows. Today, Business Week is a shell of what it was with fewer than 950,000 subscribers each month. People Magazine, however, has more than 3.5 million subscribers. People want to read about other people.

Your customers want to hear about people like them. They want to hear stories of striving, overcoming, and of the underdog beating more powerful rivals. As great as your teachings and training resources are for your members, these stories are what they really want. You’ll attract and retain your customers in proportion to how well you deliver these stories.

These stories also prove that what you say is true. When you deliver example after example of individuals who have used your product or service and succeeded, you impact how your members think about your program and themselves. Even if a customer hasn’t gotten results. After reading or watching a video about one of your client success stories, they think, “Gee, maybe this is possible.”

After enough of these stories, your customer says to himself, “If that guy can do it, I can do it, too.” After this mindset transformation, she’s a lot more likely to use what she purchased and consider buying more. Which brings us to the question of the day:

How do you write a terrific client success story?

Recently, a long-time client asked me the following question about case studies; perhaps you have wondered something similar:

“My question for you is do you use these questions on clients based on what YOU did for them? YOUR process? Meaning, should I do these to sell myself and my product? Or do I put these forward as their own case studies of how my client became successful and leave me out? Then just mention some of the things I teach?”

On how far to promote yourself and your strategies in your case studies — it depends on the how you are using them.

If you are presenting case studies within a sales presentation, then you’ll want to make it clear where you were involved.

Or, if you are presenting this case study to existing members, you may be advocating a key philosophy. In this case, you may indicate the person is a member or client, then describe how using a particular product or service you sell created the impact.

To summarize: If you are in an overt sales situation, then be overt about your involvement. Then, in many other cases, it may be appropriate to illustrate the power of implementing your philosophy.

My formula for creating case studies is simple. I start by recording an interview with my member. I then provide the interview transcript to a writer to create a written case study.

Here are interview questions to get you started.

As you read the questions, replace the words “your member breakthrough process” with the name of your product or coaching program:

  • What’s your background? How did you get started doing what you are doing now?
  • How did you discover “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What did you think of it when you first saw it?
  • How did you get started implementing “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What has changed in your life since you discovered “your member breakthrough process”?
  • What advice do you have for someone else who has just discovered “your member breakthrough process” and is deciding whether or not to try it?

For best results I conduct these interviews personally. I can explore areas that would be interested to members by asking follow-up questions. However, if time is short I’ll often send these questions out as a survey instead.

Once I have a good interview recorded, I use the transcript to craft a compelling success story.

Once you have these case studies, you can use them in presentations, monthly newsletters, pull them together into books to give to prospects, or include them in email follow-up sequences to convert more prospects int customers.

Use demonstrations, capture case studies everywhere you can, and teach through examples rather than relying only on lectures.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

 

Frederick Marcoux

Say thank you and thrive! – by Frederick Marcoux

International Networking Week®: “A Week of One Million Thank You’s” stories from various international BNI leaders

Submitted by Frederick Marcoux, National Director – BNI Australia

Frederick Marcoux

This year’s International Networking Week theme is “One Million Thank You’s”. In Australia we’re really excited about this really engaging and meaningful theme! Saying “thank you” has a strong place in our culture. Furthermore, expressing gratitude and saying thank you is easy, fun and uplifting to give and receive. Therefore, this is really important and we’re doing it a million times during International Networking Week 2020!

Thank you to our amazing firefighters and other volunteers

The world press gave massive coverage to the bushfires happening in many parts of our country. We are still coming to grips with what 12 million acres of burned bushland and 1 billion animals killed means. However, many are suffering from the loss of loved ones and their property. Therefore, we are grateful to our amazing firefighters and other volunteers helping to address these challenges.

BNI Foundation Australia says Thank You!

We are grateful to BNI Global, BNI Members and Directors and others from 12+ countries who donated so far to the BNI Foundation Australia’s bushfires fundraising efforts (www.gofundme.com/bnifoundationaustralia). The funds will be used to help children and young people impacted by the bushfires. Furthermore, the GoFundMe organization itself donated $1,000 to our cause, and we are very grateful for that!

Resilience through abundance

Frederick MarcouxWe are very proud that BNI helps improve business resilience through the powerful support network we provide for business through our Chapters. It’s well documented that one of the top reasons for business failure in Australia is lack of support. Givers Gain® is serious business. Last year, the members of BNI in Australia generated $0.5 billion of additional revenue through a quarter of a million referrals. Members supported each other this way without expecting anything in return. This is an amazing display of abundance thinking and trust in the idea that “what goes around comes around”. This is why I believe that in BNI we support business by creating “Resilience through Abundance”.  The meaning of those few words put together is readily understood by business people experienced in our Givers Gain® philosophy.

Say thank you and thrive!

There are many more reasons to say “thank you”. In most cultures, the desire to be appreciated is common. It’s well documented that receiving thanks can have a profound impact on someone’s outlook on the day, on the week or even on their future. Does that sound a bit exaggerated? However, I don’t think so. The best job I ever had was when my accomplishments and efforts were regularly recognized and gratefully appreciated by my superiors.  Furthermore, there are even studies that show that someone regularly expressing gratitude has better heart health and more disease-fighting cells in their body!

Thank you Leaders of BNI in Australia

Frederick MarcouxGreat Leaders develop and nurture more Leaders, and BNI in Australia has many leaders who do just that! Therefore, BNI in Australia has more Franchisees than ever before thanks to the abundance mindset and awesome leadership of the Executive Director Team. A few months ago at the Global Convention in Poland, BNI Australia was awarded the “2019 Global Award for Franchise Development”. This means that Australia is the most developed “Franchised BNI Country” in the world today. Furthermore, that is thanks to the amazing collaborative spirit of our team. Therefore, in the spirit of recognition and expressing gratitude, it’s appropriate to acknowledge those who have contributed to this massive achievement:

  • Bob Greenup, Executive Director BNI Sydney Central for referring us Ilona Teremi the Executive Director of BNI Gold Coast. Plus, Paul English the Executive Director for BNI NSW South.
  • Braith Bamkin, Executive Director BNI Melbourne Central for referring us Lisa Thomas, Executive Director BNI Melbourne North and Helen Searle Executive Director BNI Melbourne West
  • Graham West, Executive Director BNI Melbourne East for introducing us David Harris
  • Glenn Anthoney, Former Executive Director of BNI Sydney North West for referring us Rebecca Raad, Executive Director BNI Sydney North West. Plus, Alison Attard, Executive Director BNI Sydney South West
  • Ilona Teremi, Executive Director BNI Gold Coast for referring us David McLean. Plus, Jeannie Anderson, Executive Directors for BNI Brisbane South East
  • Leisa Gill, Executive Director BNI Brisbane South West and Toowoomba without whom One Brisbane would not have been possible
  • Rob Warburton Executive Director for BNI Sydney North East for introducing us to Andrew Sim
  • Simon Derrick-Roberts, Executive Director for BNI Adelaide CBD and South for referring us Simone Douglas, Executive Director BNI Adelaide South

Finally, I would like to wish everyone an insanely great International Networking Week® 2020!

Frederick MarcouxNational Director – BNI Australia

 

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