personal story Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
necklace

The Necklace

As many of you know, my wife passed away a few months ago.  I’ve wrestled with sharing the necklace story because it is a bit out there for a left-brain business guy, but friends have suggested that I should share it, so here it is.

After Elisabeth passed away, all my children came over for a private memorial at our house. We gathered around her Bagua Circle (pictured here).  Elisabeth loved to do Tai Chi and Qigong (Chi Gong) in the circle with nature all around her.

That evening, I brought my two daughters and daughter-in-love (as Elisabeth called our daughter-in-law) up to her closet and I gave them some of her jewelry to remember her.

I told them that I would eventually give them most all her pieces except for two that I wanted to keep; her wedding ring and a necklace.  The necklace was a heart with a lock and key that she often wore.  We looked everywhere for the necklace – her jewelry drawers, the safe, everywhere.  But we couldn’t find it.  I was distraught because this necklace had a lot of sentimental value.  I bought it for her on a long romantic weekend trip to New Orleans and we both loved this piece a great deal.  Ashley, my eldest daughter, said that sometimes women drop a piece of jewelry in their purse and so we went through every purse she had.  (OK, so can I just say – OMG, I had no idea she had so many purses!!!!). We did find some jewelry but not the one I wanted so badly.  I was distraught because the necklace held so many happy memories.

The Necklace Dream

After the family left, I went to bed.  That night, I had the first dream about Elisabeth since her passing.  I had a very vivid dream about hands (that looked like Elisabeth’s) holding up a small pocketbook to my face and opening it up.  I couldn’t see anything else and I woke up and wrote the dream down.

A couple of weeks later, my daughter, Dorian (AKA Cassandra) came over for Thanksgiving Dinner (an American tradition).  While she was there, she asked if she could look through some bags that were in our pantry that had a lot of Elisabeth’s things in them.  She was looking for a Switch game that they both played together.  Dorian couldn’t visit Elisabeth’s island on the game without permission and she wanted to do that.  I told her to feel free to go through the bags and if she happened to find the necklace to let me know.  She sat on the floor and started going through everything.  I stood next to Dorian wondering if I should tell her about the dream I had.  It was so “out there” for me that I thought she would think I was losing it.  However, I felt compelled to tell her and so I shared the dream.

Just as I finished telling her about the dream, I looked down at her and she opened a small pocketbook and held it up to my face – “does it look like this?” she said as she opened the pocketbook and pulled out the necklace.  And there was the pocketbook exactly like in the dream I had.  I realized that it wasn’t Elisabeth’s hands in my dream, it was our daughter’s hands, and it was held up to my face just as in the dream except in her other hand was the necklace.

The fact that I shared the dream with her just as she found the pocketbook and necklace at the same moment was surreal.  We laughed, we cried, and we were both dumbfounded.

No one really “knows” what happens after we pass on – but today more than ever, I believe our loved ones can come back to us in mysterious ways with messages.

I have no answers – only my experience.  And that experience was stunning.

Have you ever lost a loved one and felt that they somehow spoke to you afterward?  If so, tell me about it here.

Merry Misner Memory

A Merry Misner Memory

It has been an unusual year full of stress. Therefore, I have decided to take a break from my educational business referral marketing blogs. Instead, I have decided to take a moment to share a merry Misner memory to spread some holiday cheer.
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Take a few minutes to watch and enjoy this video about a fond memory from one specific Christmas in the Misner family. So much has changed in our family since that Christmas Day, so long ago.
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A Merry Misner Memory

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The memory of building that Barbie DreamHouse years ago really stands out in my mind and makes me shake my head and smile all at once. I really had fun recording this video. It allowed me to reminisce and reflect on a wonderful memory. So many unforgettable and irreplaceable memories are made each year by families around the globe during the holiday season. I hope this video stirs up some great holiday memories for you.
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The Barbie®DreamHouse™

Here are the 17 steps for building the Barbie DreamHouse. Note: NO words, only this blueprint.
merry misner memory
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How a Barbie DreamHouse is supposed to look. Mine had architectural and design variations.
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I wish a very Merry Christmas to those around the globe who take part in celebrating Christmas tomorrow. Happy 2020 Holiday Season to all from the Misner family!
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think

We Don’t Pay You to Think

Recently, my assistant, Dana made a couple of suggestions to me.  She then asked if I minded her giving these suggestions. I immediately said that not only did I “not” mind her ideas, I wanted her to think and share her thoughts with me.  I then told her the following story about an experience I had many years ago.

You gotta do what you gotta do

When I was 21 years old, I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree in California.  I had scholarships to help but I still needed to work a job to pay for my living expenses.  I found a good paying position working for a large chain grocery store stocking shelves from midnight until 7 am four days a week.  Ugh.  That was brutal.  On some days, I would work all night, go home to get a shower, and then go straight to classes at 9 am.

Even then, I believed that sometimes You gotta do what you gotta do to get to do what you want to do.  Early on, I knew one thing for certain and that was that I did not want to work at a grocery store stocking shelves (at any hour of the day) for a career.  I came to that realization because of one conversation that I had with the “Early Shift Assistant Manager” of the store soon after I started my employment there.

The night crew had some serious quotas for boxes that had to go up on the shelves each and every night.  While it might not sound very hard, the truth is that it was back-breaking work and one of the most physical jobs I ever had. One morning as I was coming off a break, I had a conversation with the Assistant Manager. I suggested to him that I thought would help in moving the many pallets of boxes that had to be taken by dolly to every aisle in the store.  It was a small suggestion but I thought it might help.  That’s when the Assistant Manager gave me a “life lesson” that I would take with me for the rest of my career. He said, “Ivan, we don’t pay you to think!  We pay you to get lots of boxes on lots of shelves every single night.  Now get back to work.”

I Pay You to Think

I remember so vividly standing there and thinking – “Someday, I’m going to own my own business, and I promise that I will never, ever, say that to anyone who ever works for me.  Ever!”  In fact, I will tell them the opposite: “I pay you to think!”  I want ideas, input, and engagement from everyone.

I have no idea where this manager is today but if I ever meet him again, I would tell him that I appreciate that comment because it cemented my belief that managers and entrepreneurs need to do the opposite of what he said to me.  They need to listen to the ideas that employees have.  They may not all be gems but listening shows you care about them and their ideas.  It also gets engagement and possibly even a certain amount of loyalty because the employee feels that their input matters. I may not have applied this perfectly over the years but it is something that I have truly strived to always do with the people who worked for me.

I kept track of him for about ten years after I left the company.  At that point, he had been promoted to the “Main Shift Assistant Manager” and I was well on my way to building a global enterprise that now has operations in more than seventy countries.

I believe that “paying people to think,” is exactly what entrepreneurs and managers should always be willing to do.  Sometimes we get our life lessons from people who give us great advice and sometimes we get our life lessons from people who give us horrible advice.  By applying a little discernment, they can both be a gift.  His was certainly a gift for me.  I did my best to never, ever, follow it.

first date

Love at First Date

Someone recently asked me how I knew Elisabeth was my soulmate after our first date. I’ve told the story many times and I cover it a bit in the book, Givers Gain, but I don’t think I’ve ever written it down as one story so here it is:

I first met Elisabeth in 1986. It was at a BNI Leadership Team training I conducted in LA (Los Angeles). I vividly remember meeting her. She was young (23) and very motivated and I could see why the group elected her the President. I also recognized that she was very smart and she was… gorgeous. Although I was undeniably attracted to her – I was also in a relationship and didn’t connect with her again for two years.

In that time, unbeknownst to me, she moved from LA to Prescott, Arizona (many hours away). I was scheduled to speak in Phoenix (about 2 – 3 hours from Prescott) and out of the blue she called me. Now in 1988, I was no longer in that relationship and when she called, she said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but we met in LA a couple years ago.” My heart pounded but I calmly said, “Yes, yes, I remember you, Elisabeth.” She told me that her chapter knew had she met me and they asked her if she would call me to see if I would “swing by” Prescott to speak to their group – so she asked me that question. I knew I couldn’t just “swing by.” I knew it was an overnight trip so I did something I have never done before – I said, “If you’ll have dinner with me, I’ll drive the 2 – 3 hours over to Prescott to speak to your group,” and she said “Yes.” That was about April or May of 1988.

Honestly, for her it was a business meeting but for me, it was a date. I could tell pretty quickly that she wanted to keep it professional and I remained a perfect gentleman all evening. We spoke for hours. Many, many hours. I didn’t get her home until almost 1am and we had the BNI meeting that morning at 7am.

There was something special about this woman (after the first date)

When I got home to LA the day after the meeting, I had a conversation with the nanny (Pia Jacobsen – PJ) who was watching my young daughter (whom Elisabeth later adopted). She asked me how that “date” went that I was looking forward to so much. I told her that it was a “good thing that she lived so far away” and she asked me “Why?”. I told her, “Because if Elisabeth lived nearby, I would ask her to marry me”. PJ said, “Are you crazy, you just got divorced – you can’t get married again so soon and especially after one date!” I agreed that it was crazy and I told her I knew that I was a logical, left-brain thinker, but that there was something special about this woman and it was probably good that she lived so far away. It would give me time.

Elisabeth and I then started talking a couple of times a week by phone. This was back in the day when long-distance phone calls were crazy expensive. Beth couldn’t afford the calls so when she wanted to talk she would call me and we’d hang up immediately and I’d call her back because she didn’t make enough money to afford talking for very long. And I, of course, called her directly – a lot. We saw each other in person a couple times over the next seven months but the relationship was almost exclusively by phone.

We’re going to be a great team!

In late December, we were talking and she said she had just gone to a Chiropractor’s conference (she was a Chiropractic Assistant). I was still running my consulting business full-time AND doing BNI close to full-time. She asked me for some “business” advice. She said she had two job offers and wanted my professional opinion (as a business consultant) as to which was the better opportunity. My first question was – “Where are the jobs?” She said, “One was in Dallas and the other was in Pasadena” (close to me). I immediately told her the best one was Pasadena. She said, “But you haven’t even heard anything about the offers!” I said to her – “I don’t know if you get it by now but I’m interested in you. I recommend Pasadena.” So, she moved out to California in February. (The cover photo above of Elisabeth and I was taken in February 1989. I took her to the BNI Murder Mystery event in San Diego. It was our first getaway together) Then, she left the chiropractor and came to work with me in March (see the note from Elisabeth to me below). I asked her to marry me in April, and we were married in May, 1989 (see photos from our wedding at the bottom of this blog).

While it wasn’t love at “first sight” it was, for me, love at “first date”. We were married for 31 years. I don’t know “how” I knew. I’m not sure that “knew” is even the right word. It was something I “felt.” And for someone like me, who values tangible information and facts, to get such an overwhelming feeling – I knew I needed to pay attention to it. I’m glad I did.

Please visit the Elisabeth Misner memorial website and leave your memories or stories about Elisabeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Restart the World"

Now is the time to “Restart the World”

Business people have survived the most challenging economic time since the Great Depression. Over the years, I have seen BNI members come together and support other entrepreneurs after hurricanes, tsunamis, wildfires, floods, and other natural disasters. I am incredibly proud that BNI members helped one another when the unexpected business disruption or personal life issue occurred.  They are the embodiment of our “Givers Gain®” philosophy.  I know, with the help of their fellow business professionals, we can “Restart the World” together.

Please watch this video as I share an incredible story of hope I witnessed from the days after the 1994 Northridge California Earthquake.

“Restart the World”

The past eight months have been the most challenging economic time since the Great Depression. On September 15th BNI declared that we are taking a leadership role in restarting the world from the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a global movement to help businesses, big and small, restart and grow together. We have already received many amazing stories of how our BNI members have survived and thrived during “the great pause”. Presently, our BNI members have already helped their fellow BNI members generate over $10,000,000,000 (over ten billion US dollars) worth of business in the midst of these challenging times from referrals generated from online networking. BNI wants to build a strong future for the others businesses worldwide during this difficult time with your help.

Help us to “Restart the World” in your local area.

  • Reach out to other local entrepreneurs and business professionals
  • Invite them to visit your online BNI chapter meeting
  • Show them how your BNI chapter can support them at your meetings
  • Educate them on ways to grow their business with networking to help them as they help others
  • Share your BNI story and testimonials from referrals you have given and received
  • Invite them to join your BNI chapter and be part of our successful restart in their area
  • Show them that BNI is about helping and supporting one another in good times and in bad

Become a beacon of hope in a sea of fear. Let us change our circumstances and “Restart the World” together. Your local BNI community can give you, and the people that you know, the support you need to thrive. Today, more than ever, you need your network. Today, more than ever, you need BNI.

Request an Introduction

Request an Introduction to Meet a Big Name

If you do not know someone personally and want to reach them, I would not contact them directly. Instead, I would find someone that knows them and I would request an introduction. When you request an introduction to someone well-known or very successful from a trusted third party, it smooths the path to meeting them as you network up.

That is exactly how I met Harvey Mackay, author of “Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive”. Back in the ’90s, I had not published any best-selling books yet, so very few people knew who I was. Still, I wanted to meet Mr. Mackay to ask him if he would write a section of my upcoming book. I thought he would make a good contributor as he had written about networking before. No matter how many times I tried, I could not get past his assistant without name recognition.

A well-connected driver

I started asking everyone I knew if they knew anyone who might have a connection to Mr. Mackay personally. A year later, I was on a book tour in another state. A BNI member in that city picked me up at the airport. While on the one hour drive to the hotel, he asked me many questions about my book. He attended the book tour event that week and asked if I would like a ride back to the airport the next day. I agreed. On the ride to the airport, he thanked me for all the suggestions I had shared on how to build a powerful personal network. Then he asked, “Is there anything I can do for you?” 

So, I said to him, “I’ve been trying to connect with Harvey Mackay. I have not had any luck getting past his assistant. You wouldn’t happen to know someone that knows Harvey, would you?” He said, “Sure, I know his assistant pretty well. In fact, I have her mobile number”. He went on to explain that he always volunteers to drive visiting authors from the airport because he learns from them during the hour drive. That is why he volunteered to drive me.

Request an Introduction to a gatekeeper

He knows Mr. Mackay’s assistant because he talked to her many times the previous year when he volunteered to drive Harvey Mackay to/from the airport. He wanted to know why to qualify me before he passed it on to his trusted contact. I told him, “I wanted to ask Mackay if he would be willing to contribute to a book I was writing called “Masters of Networking”. Mackay had written a book on networking and I knew he would be a great contributor”. The driver said he would be happy to reach out to Mackay’s assistant and request an introduction to him.

Introduced to Harvey Mackay

Guess who called me the next week? Not the assistant, but Harvey Mackay himself. Mackay is an icon in the business world. I was honored to have a fantastic conversation with him. I learned that he absolutely “walks the talk” when it comes to networking. He took the time to learn about me and my book. My luck changed when he agreed to write a contribution to my book. Over the years, we have talked together on many occasions. He was even a keynote speaker at one of our BNI conventions. We have strengthened our relationship and I consider Harvey a good friend.

I was able to request an introduction to Harvey Mackay because I asked people who I knew and who I believe trusted me. I would ask people who trusted me for the referral. They knew I would not betray their trust. People do not want to give a referral to someone who just wants to sell something to their contacts. It still works for me today.

favorite places

Thoughts About My Favorite Places Take Flight Like Birds

Recently, Beth and I were sitting on our balcony at our Beach Condo in Galveston, Texas talking about where our favorite places are on the planet. Beth pulled out her phone and thought people may like to know where my favorite places are to go in the world. This is a question people do ask us because we travel a lot. On one airline alone, I have flown over 2.3 million miles.

Beth videotaped me answering the question. “Where is my favorite place in the world?”  Below is the video of the conversation I had with Beth.  I think people might find it interesting. Consider this as part of my G.A.I.N.S. exchange as I share my “interests” with you.

The things you enjoy doing and the places you enjoy going can help you connect with others because people are more willing to spend time with those who share their interests. Knowing other people’s interests makes it easier for you to help them in some way. Therefore, let them know your interests as well. If you and your contact share many of the same interests, it will strengthen your relationship. 

Where are my favorite places in the world?

You can watch the video above to learn where my ultimate favorite place in the world is located. You might be surprised by my answer. Here are a few other favorite places on our list:

  • Galveston: Relaxing at our beach condo. Now and then, the local birds take flight, rise up, and soar above our heads.
  • India: We have a lot of members in India and I enjoy visiting with them.
  • Necker Island: We enjoy spending time with Richard Branson on his private island.
  • Paris: We enjoyed the two months we spent in France for our 25th wedding anniversary.
  • South Africa: We did an amazing safari together at Camp Jabulani.
  • Sydney Australia: Beth loves Sydney. It is one of her favorite places, but not her number one place. Can you guess where Beth’s ultimate favorite place is? Listen to the video for her answer.
  • The Great Barrier Reef: We explored it from a small ship.

COVID-19 has changed our travel life. We look forward to the days when we can travel the world again. Visiting these favorite places we mentioned, and also exploring new places we have never been to before. By sharing this video, we know we will receive many invitations to go visit and revisit many places all across the world.

Therefore, I suggest that you add this question about your favorite places when discussing your “interests” as part of your G.A.I.N.S. exchange. Download a copy of the GAINS exchange profile form. People will get to know you better when you share your favorite places in the world during your one-to-one meetings. Please share below in the comments your favorite places in the world too.

life

You Are Not the Dumbest Thing You’ve Done in Life

If you ever feel like you’ve done a bonehead thing in business or life, this story might make you feel better.

The most memorable television interview I ever did in my life was my first “live” interview — which was very nearly my last live interview.

It was early 1995, and my first major book was hitting the shelves coast to coast. A cable station had invited me to talk about it on the Fairfield County Exchange morning show in Connecticut, right across the border from New York.

My publicist called me before the show and said, “Don’t forget that this is live. Completely live. Whatever you say will go on the air (this was long before the notorious Janet Jackson disaster – now everything is tape delayed). She also added that “They want you to do something visual for the show.”

I thought, This is networking, not lion taming. What can I do that’s visual? Run up and down the aisles handing out business cards? So I thought I’d put together a “tool box” with “networking tools” inside — badges, cardholders, and the like. Kind of goofy, but it was visual.

Somehow it didn’t feel like it was enough. So while the New York area Executive Director for BNI, was driving me to the show, I came up with an idea. “Lance,” I said, “what do you think about a magic trick?” I am an amateur magician, and I have a trick where I hide some flash cotton in my hand. I wave my hand, and a flame briefly flares up out of it. I happened to have it with me and I said, “Here’s what I’ll do. We get to the end of the interview, the interviewer holds up my book, and I say to her, ‘Careful! That’s hot!’ And then I take it from her, and whoosh! Flames shoot out of it.”

“Yeah, that’s good!” said Lance.

A little while later, I was sitting in the green room at the studio. It was a large cable station, and the show was a big, 90-minute show with 10 guests or more. I was sitting there with Lance and a bunch of other people, watching the show on a monitor, waiting to be called, when this guy dressed like a Native American walked by. Then another guy walked by dressed like a cop. Then another guy, dressed like a cowboy.

Someone joked, “Gee, it looks like the Village People!” Everyone laughed and we all agreed that wasn’t likely. Then I heard the on-air announcer say,

“Next on the Fairfield County Exchange”

The Village People!

life

life

and (long-pause with less excitement)

Dr. Ivan Misner to talk about networking.

 

I panicked. “Lance,” I said, “I’m gonna die here!”

I thought, better juice things up a notch. Make a bigger flame. So, I stuffed some more flash cotton into my palm.

The Village People went on. I watched them on the monitor. They were great! They were fun! They were hysterical! They did “Y-M-C-A,” shaping the letters with their bodies, of course. They were visual! The audience roared, screamed, jumped up and down.

I thought, I’m going on after them? Are you kidding me, I’m going to bomb, I’d better use a little more of that flash cotton.

The Village People kept the audience jumping and screaming for more. The show fell behind schedule. I knew my interview was going to be rushed. I was up next. I had the cold sweats.

The producer came over and said, “Get ready, we’re going to have to rush you on and mic you up.”

“Okay,” I said. I took another pinch of flash cotton (just for good measure) and followed him out of the room.

As the Village People came offstage to a rowdy standing ovation, I was seated in a chair in front of the cameras, half-facing the host and hostess. I was holding a copy of my book and I wanted to prepare them for what I was going to do. I said to the hostess, seated immediately to my right, “Hey, listen, when we get to the end of the interview, would you hold this up? Then I’ll say — ”

At that moment, the director, who could hear us through her headset, walked over to us and said, “No, no, no, I don’t want her holding the book up. We have a JPG of the cover, and we’ll show it in another shot.”

As soon as the director walked away, the hostess turned to me and saw that I was panicked and said, “I’m the host, I’ll decide. What do you want to do?” I started to explain the trick. As I got to the same point in the first attempt to explain, the director came back and said, “I told you, I don’t want her holding the book up! Okay, we’re on LIVE in five, four, three —”

The hostess whispered to me, “Just go ahead and do whatever you’re going to do. I’ll follow along.”

So we did the interview. I thought it was kind of a lame interview with the toolbox thing, especially following the Village People, but I knew we’d have a great ending.

As we finished up, she said, right on cue, “I have here a copy of Dr. Misner’s book.” She held it up. The director scowled.

I said, “Careful! That’s hot!” I reached over, took the book from her, and opened it up. And WHOOOOSH! a gigantic flame shot up. Huge, I mean really big. A much bigger flame than I expected and the book caught on fire.

The hostess screamed, “AAAAHHHH!” and she jumped into the lap of her co-host, waving her arms and hollering. The director was holding her head, yelling “Cut! Go to commercial!” The cameramen were blinded by the flash and came out from behind their cameras. I stomped on the book, trying to put out the fire. The audience laughed hysterically. Apparently I made quite an impression – just not the one I was hoping for!

The hostess, still sitting in her co-host’s lap, said, “Oh, thank God I didn’t swear on live television!” Her co-host looked off-camera, snapped his fingers, and yelled, “Wardrobe! new pants for her, please!”

I looked over at Lance who was just off stage. He put two thumbs up and said, “Now, that was visual! But we should go now.”

In most places around the world, I may be considered an expert on networking, but in Connecticut, I think I’m considered an arsonist. So, no matter how embarrassed you may feel by some stupid thing you’ve done in life – just think of this story and you won’t feel so bad.

Business Networking Diversity

Business Networking Diversity

I believe that it is important to build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people with different interests and backgrounds.  The only thing that they should have in common with you is that they should be really good at what they do.  Create a personal network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.

It is human nature to build friendships with people that are like us.  The problem with surrounding ourselves with similar people is that they also tend to have similar contacts and know the same people as us.  When networking, it may be difficult to make connections with new people or companies with whom we desire to do business. In running a large business networking organization for over the past three decades, I often speak to people who tell me they want to network exclusively business professionals who have similar clients.  Although it is good to include these people in your personal network, networking with them exclusively would be a tremendous mistake. When it comes to business networking diversity, you never know who people know.  One of the important keys to being successful at building a powerful personal network is diversity.

A diverse personal network enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors or “linchpins” in your network.  Linchpins are people who in some way cross over between two or more clusters or groups of individuals; this allows them to link groups of people together easily.  The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network. The strongest networking groups I have seen over the years are generally the groups that are diverse.  I believe that one of the problems in understanding this concept is a somewhat built-in bias that many people have about networking with individuals that are outside their normal frame of reference.  Let me share a story:

An incredible voice, an incredible connection from networking diversity.

Patti, a BNI Director, arrived a little early to a BNI meeting that met in a private meeting room and noticed an older gentleman setting up coffee mugs in preparation for the meeting.  She struck up a conversation with the man while waiting for the BNI members to arrive.  In talking to him, she was really taken by the amazing tenor of his voice.  She mentioned to him that he had an incredible voice and asked what he did before this.  The gentleman informed her that he used to be a commentator for CNN!  He went on to share with Patti that in his later years, he wanted to work in a less hectic job as well as live closer to his daughter.  He decided to take on the job of managing these private meeting rooms because it gave him an opportunity to be close to his family while having a less hectic career later in life.

Later during the meeting, one of the BNI members, Don, mentioned in his featured presentation that his goal is to host a radio talk show someday. He was looking for some contacts that could help him pursue this dream.  After the meeting, Patti asked Don… “Do you see that guy over there (pointing to the ex-CNN commentator)?  Have you seen him before?”  “Yea,” said Don, “he’s the guy who sets up the coffee for our meeting.”  Patti said to Don, “Did you know that he used to be a broadcaster for CNN?”  Don said, “I had no idea!!!”  Patti suggested that Don introduce himself. Don had seen the man on many occasions but had not struck up a conversation with him because he felt that they had little, if anything, in common.  The truth is when it comes to networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connector for you to a whole world of people that you might not otherwise be able to meet. This resulted in creating an incredible connection for Don in the broadcasting industry. Don now hosts a local radio talk show.

Diversity in your network is the smart thing and the right thing to do.

working from home

Seven Tips for Working From Home

In the early 1980s, I spent one of several evenings in the home of an entrepreneurial couple who lived in the foothills of Los Angeles.  This couple would regularly invite people over to their home to talk.  Talk about what?  Everything.  Life, relationships, business, and most of all – the future.  It was an informal mastermind group of people who loved good wine, forward-thinking, and great conversation.  One night after an interesting discussion among that night’s guests, the husband invited me into his office (but not working from home back then) and showed me a fairly large rectangular hard-plastic box.  It was a box with a very small, 5” screen on it.  He turned it on and it lit up with bright yellow monochromatic characters that flashed on the screen.  He said – “It’s an Osborne!”   “An Osborne what?” I asked.  “An Osborne computer,” he said.

By today’s standards, this precursor to the personal computer wasn’t much to look at.   The least expensive mobile phones on the market today have infinitely more computing power than that big box on his desk.  Nevertheless, I was impressed.  More importantly, I remember the words he said next:  “This kind of technology will change the world and the way people do business in it,”  Clearly, I could see how computers would enhance the business but, I still didn’t understand what he meant.  He explained that this type of technology “will allow people to do business anywhere – even at home!”   This was a prophetic comment if ever there was one.

Working From Home Tips

working from home

Working from home has become more common, and sometimes like today – more necessary. So, if you’re working from home these days, here are some things to consider:

  1. Establish a dedicated area as your workspace.  It could be a room or just a table.  But that is your workspace.
  2. Focus.  Don’t get distracted.  Your home is now your office.  Treat your workspace like your office.  Structure your day like you would in an office.
  3. Use the technology that is at your fingertips.
    1. Teams, Zoom, GoToMeeting or any other platform that allows you to talk to people online.
    2. Here’s a crazy idea – talk to people using that 21st Century version of what Alexander Graham Bell invented – your telephone.
  4. That technology is great – but stay OFF social media unless it is directly work-related.
  5. Plan your day.  Schedule your work on your calendar, hour by hour.  This will help you stay focused and on track.
  6. Communicate your expectations and ground rules with anyone else that may be at home with you (toddlers and younger are an exception).
  7. Take breaks away from your “workspace” and go back to your workspace immediately after your break time is over.

Working from home can be productive, I know.  I’ve done it off and on for more than 35 years.  The trick is that you have to have a plan and work that plan… even when your work is also your home.

student loan

How My $5,000 Student Loan Became a Multi-Million Dollar Business

Before I tell this story, let me say up front – I used the student loan in this story to pay tuition.  That said, let me tell you how that led to a multi-million dollar company.

Most people know me as the Founder of BNI.  However, I actually started a property management company three years before I started BNI.

My $5,000 Student Loan

I was recently going through my old files and ran across the paperwork for an old student loan that I took out during graduate school.  It was 1982, and I had applied to USC for a doctoral degree.  I really wanted to do my Ph.D. there, but I also had to figure out how I would pay for it if I was accepted.  Several years earlier, I had been accepted to Occidental College for my bachelor’s degree.  I was offered a 50% scholarship to go there. However, I couldn’t afford the other 50% (nor could my family).

Therefore, I went to a community college and then a state college, because that’s what I could afford (by the way, they were great schools).  Although I didn’t know how I could pay for the doctoral program at USC, I didn’t care. That was my big goal. Therefore, I applied and I was accepted.  I received a couple of small scholarships. However, I still had to pay the lion’s share of my tuition myself.

At the time, I had a full-time job in Los Angeles. However, I wasn’t making enough money to cover living expenses and the doctoral program.  So, I took another job. Working as many hours as I could so I could save up enough money to pay for that semester’s tuition.  I discovered that one semester at USC cost me more than my entire bachelor’s degree!  But that was my vision, and that’s what I worked towards.

I worked the two jobs AND I applied for a student loan of $5,000 to help pay for a semester at the university of my dreams. Having no idea if I’d get the loan, I applied. I worked to make the money in case I didn’t get the loan, however.

Well, a few months later (right before I was to start at USC), I was approved for the loan!  The thing is, I had also saved $5,000 from my extra work to pay much of the tuition in case I was not approved.  So, I had $5,000 in cash and $5,000 available as a student loan.  What should I do?  Should I use my $5,000 cash to pay for school, or should I take the low-interest loan for school???

Well, I knew I couldn’t keep working long hours for the next several years. Therefore, I decided to take the low-interest loan and use the $5,000 in cash that I had earned and applied it as a down payment on a condominium.  And that’s where my journey began in the investment property business.  You see, I flipped that condo a few years later for a larger house.  I then flipped that house a few years later for another larger house, which I then flipped for another two homes.  Eventually, I flipped those two homes to pay about 50% of a commercial property that I was building in Texas!

The original loan allowed me to take my $5,000 in cash and turn into a $1.8 million dollar commercial property. Of course, my wife and I made other cash investments over the years. We turned this little company I started into a multi-million dollar business with nine commercial properties and dozens of tenants.  All of this happened because I got a $5,000 student loan. I worked really, really hard to earn money and invest it – not blow it on things that wouldn’t matter decades later.

This is a story about the use of leverage and the commitment to discipline. 

Leveraging your money and using discipline can lead to incredible success.  I used leverage and discipline later to help build the BNI business.

By the way, I paid off all my student loans including interest years ago.  It was a proud day for me.  However, four weeks later, I got a letter from another university that read: “Congratulations Dr. Misner, your daughter has been accepted to our school.  You can go to this portal to make the tuition payments on her behalf.”

This time around, I didn’t need student loans.

Emotionally Charged Connection

My ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection

In my book, “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect”, I talk about my ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection. We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you generally as a child that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative.

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 checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference.  Once you become conscious of this connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply it.

Gladstone High School

My ECC resulted in my desire to help others to succeed. I cannot make you successful. I always lost when I ran for student council. As a freshman at Gladstone High School, Mr. Romero, my freshman high school history teacher, picked me for the student council. “Oh no, not Ivan. Anybody but Ivan”.   I do not know what he saw in me but I am going to do whatever I need to do to make him proud. He saw something and helped me to succeed. I’m doing the same thing now. I had a handful of teachers that saw something in me and supported me. We all have something like this that helped guide a chapter in our life that will influence our future.

Your “why”–the Emotionally Charged Connection you have with your work–is the most important thing you can figure out about your business. If you don’t know why you do what you do, you’ll never fulfill your professional dreams.

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