During a hike on my recent trip to Necker Island, my friend, Mike Macedonio, and I had a great conversation about comparing the hiking trail to the solar system. I invite you to watch this short video to learn more.
It reminded me that business networking is a journey and it’s all about relationships. Remember, networking is a marathon, not a sprint.
This is my belief about thinking big. Our vision controls our perception, andour perception becomes our reality. Don’t become so attached to a limiting belief that you can’t see what is possible. Move past limiting beliefs and move towards meaningful beliefs. Think big.
The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. Think little goals and expect little results. Think big goals and smash other people’s expectations of you. You know, it takes the same energy to think big as it does to think small. Sure, if you think big, you’re sometimes worried about whether you can achieve those dreams or not. But when you think small, you’re disappointed in yourself because you didn’t achieve the success you want. Personally, I would rather be a little bit worried than disappointed in myself. Think big. It takes as much energy as thinking small, but you can end up in a much better place.
Be a Product of Your Decisions
Do not let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big. There are those voices rattling around that will stand on your shoulder and tell you why that dream isn’t realistic. I had that. Rememberthe story of my dream of having 10,000 chapters? Did I let that guy influence my dream? No, I didn’t. Don’t let small minds influence your big dreams. I’ve seen ordinary people do extraordinary things throughout my career. I believe anyone can do extraordinary things with the right mindset, plan, and effort.
The last time I was on Necker Island, I heard Richard Branson say that if people aren’t calling you crazy, you’re not thinking big enough. I love that. And he’s absolutely correct. To inspire others, though, you must first inspire yourself. If you want to be big, you need to start thinking big and behaving big. Don’t be a product of circumstances. Be a product of your decisions. One of my greatest lessons in life was learning that I can alter my circumstances by first altering my beliefs, then my attitude, and eventually my behavior. If you have the power to change lives, grasp it.
Think big. Think big, my friends. Think about how you can change people’s lives. Anything less is not a good use of our opportunity.
I had an opportunity to go back to Necker Island this month where I spent the better part of a week talking to Richard Branson. I asked my followers on social media to suggest questions that I could ask Richard and the one that I chose to focus on was about his legacy. Specifically, what is the legacy that he feels he will leave behind?
My impression of Richard is that he is not one to mull over his legacy in the world. That said, he is one to contemplate the impact that he has had on the people around him.
Surprisingly, the first thing he spoke about when I brought up the topic was his family. “In the end,” he said, “it is about your children and your family. How you brought your children up and how they live on in your name is an important part of your legacy.” I asked him for an example of how he did that with his children when they were young and he spoke about the family dinner table discussions. He said, “it’s so much more interesting if you can throw out a discussion with kids and have a dinner table debate on the issue.” He said that he “wanted them to learn about what’s going on in the world and most people don’t do that.” For him, it was a way to guide and coach his children about issues in his community and the world and that learning is an important legacy to carry on.
My experience of Richard is that he lives his life to the fullest. Every day on the island he would swim a lap or kite sail around the entire island. Then, he might go to a nearby island to ride his bike. In fact, he just had a nasty bike accident as I am writing this blog where he thought he might have broken his hip. Luckily, he did not. I private messaged him on our What’s App group saying: “I am so glad you are ok. I’d suggest you slow down a bit but I do NOT think that phrase is in your vocabulary.” The rest of the private What’s App group seemed to agree with that assessment.
Also during the conversation with Richard about his legacy, he spoke about the planet and the need to reduce our carbon footprint whenever possible. He described in detail how Necker Island was now virtually carbon neutral with a solar-panel powerplant covering a large portion of the island along with three massive windmills up on the hill supplying energy to the island.
He once told an interviewer that that “with extreme wealth comes extreme responsibility. And the responsibility for me is to invest in creating new businesses, create jobs, employ people, and to put money aside to tackle issues where we can make a difference.”
Richard said that “you must be driven by a purpose that is greater than yourself. I’d like to think I’ve lived a full life and made a difference but in the end, it’s about how you brought up your children and how they live on in your name.”
During the summer of 2013, while spending a week on Necker Island with Sir Richard Branson, I had the opportunity to discuss his “B Team” concept in depth with him. The B Team is a group of internationally renowned business and thought leaders that seek to accelerate the implementation of Plan B, an equal commitment to the planet and people, as well as profit. When I interviewed Sir Richard, he said, “We can’t leave every problem to government — non-profits alone cannot solve the tasks at hand. We cannot continue to do ‘business as usual”.
Plan A for business has traditionally been to focus only on making the largest profit possible. You know that adage, “He who dies with the most toys wins?” That is how I have personally seen most people in business approach their corporate and personal success. Now we are seeing more and more successful businesses giving back in order to make the world a better place.
Conversations are taking place in the marketplace that reveal this shift happening. Books like Conscious Capitalism by my friends Dr. Raj Sisodia and John Mackey, and We First by my good friend, Simon Mainwaring, have become best sellers. It is encouraging to see that a new focus has reached critical mass and is rapidly moving toward the tipping point.
As I interviewed Sir Richard about the B Team and Plan B, he began to inspire me question what it would look like within my own company if we were to seek to implement Plan B. Then my thoughts led me to consider what it would look like in our communities if not only my company implemented Plan B, but many others did so as well.
Four ways businesses can engage in their own Plan B focus
1. Create a nonprofit arm of your company.
While you may feel that it is too costly or needs a lot of administration to create your own nonprofit charity, that’s simply not true. Most cities and even states have community foundations in which you would be able to create a donor-advised fund. When my own company, BNI®, started to really become successful, we chose to start a corporate charity with a focus on children and education. The BNI Foundation awards grants to teachers who can’t secure funding from their school districts or states for the resources they need so badly.
2. Get to know the nonprofit organizations that are working hard to support life-changing and environment-sustaining causes.
For the BNI Foundation, that means learning what we can about organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs, and Junior Achievement. They need resources, like computers and tablets, consultants and mentors, as well as host businesses so students can come in and learn about business — to find the inspiration to press through their challenges in order to graduate from high school or even to dare to dream that they may one day go to university. They also need community members to be involved on their boards and with their fund-raising efforts.
In order to reach in and help out, you have to know what the needs are. Keith Ferrazzi, in his book Never Eat Alone, encourages us to use our lunch breaks as power meetings with others with whom we want to network. You can set aside one lunch per week (or more, as your time allows) to have with the organizers of charities you want to get to know better. This is a great way to develop relationships with the people who are pouring into the causes that matter to you.
3. Bring your employees and clients along with you.
Show them how they, too, can help out. Consider holding a staff volunteer day at a school site that needs hands-on help. There are many ways your company can work together to address the many needs these schools have.
Without our help, inner-city high schools will continue to experience the average drop-out rate of nearly 40 percent. This is certainly not good for business! We need a strong, well-educated working class in our country. As we have implemented our call to action and are getting to know the educational support organizations in the major cities of our nation, we are learning that students who are able to access mentoring from the business community have a high-school graduation rate of between 95 to 100 percent. The BNI Foundation is starting an initiative we are calling Business VOICES to let entrepreneurs know what needs are out there. You can start something similar as it relates to your company’s cause or join us.
4. Host a Get-Acquainted Meeting for a nonprofit that is having a positive impact in your community.
You can be a gatekeeper for the organizations which need support. You might have space at your office to host a gathering there. If not, consider underwriting a get-acquainted meeting at a local establishment. Some of these organizations have regularly scheduled get-acquainted meetings and would benefit greatly from your support in sponsoring one or several of these events.
These are just some of the ways you can plug into Plan B and help make a difference. Charitable activities are an important part of building a powerful personal network. Things will change for the better when small companies adopt local issues and bigger companies adopt national issues and global companies adopt international issues. I believe business can be noble and change the world in thousands of positive ways!
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.
Last week, I was back on Necker Island to celebrate “International Networking Week®” by “networking up” my circles of support with Richard Branson. I did a video a few years ago with Richard when we talked about a concept he had called, “the B Team”. It was brilliant and as a result of that conversation, we created the “Business Voices” initiative for the BNI Foundation. My wife, Beth, came up with that concept based on the conversation we had with Richard.
The B Team
Richard has an organization called “The Elders”, which is supporting some of the big issues in the world today: such as climate change and other things. He thought that maybe a business version of “The Elders” would be good too. They now have about 40 of the topmost respected business people in the world as part of “The B Team”. They are doing great things.
In his book, “Finding my Virginity”, Richard discusses his concept about circles of support. It perfectly aligns with my networking organization. Richard shares with me about circles of support in this video.
Circles of Support
According to Richard, when a new person joins Virgin, they will say, “Don’t try to solve all the problems of the world, just draw a circle around yourself first”. Start by drawing a circle around yourself to make sure everything inside that circle is working well. Ask yourself: Am I meeting my fitness goals? Have I got my alcohol intake right? Have I got my work-life balance in harmony? Once you feel that circle is fine, you widen the circle to include family and friends. Once all that is manageable, you can start thinking about bigger things and do everything you can to help others. If you have a small business, make a difference in your city. Support local programs that support health or education. Finally, you can draw a circle around your country and the last circle around the world.
I highly recommend the book, “Finding my Virginity”, by Richard Branson. The concept of managing your circles of support on page 354 works so well for BNI members. The network that I created is where you got a small circle of people and over time, taking that circle a step further by building relationships. If everybody who reads this blog creates a circle, the world will be a better place.
Last year, My wife Beth and I posted a question on Facebook in search of the most creative and interesting answer. The question was: “If you had an opportunity to ask Sir Richard Branson one question, what would it be?”
In this video, I reveal the best, most interesting question that someone responded with:
“What venture or company do you wish you had started instead of someone else, or what business did you have a chance to invest in but didn’t and now regret not investing in it?”
I go on to reveal the equally interesting (if not more interesting) answer to this question which I got lucky enough to receive directly from Sir Richard Branson himself during a visit to Necker Island.
Watch the video now for Branson’s answer . . . and, hey, you never know–perhaps this will be the answer to a question you get during a game of Trivial Pursuit somewhere down the road, in which case you’ll be darn glad you watched this video! 😉
I’m curious– what would YOU ask Richard if you could ask him anything? As long as it’s not something like, “Richard, will you adopt me (even though I’m 57) and make me independently wealthy so I don’t have to work for the rest of my life?” (Ha, ha . . . :-)), then I’d love to hear what questions you come up with! Please leave your feedback in the comment forum below. Thanks!
The Butterfly Effect is part of chaos theory, which is a part of mathematics. It basically proposes that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly alter something extremely minute but which starts a domino effect of altering one thing after another until something finally gets altered which actually changes the weather. So what does the Butterfly Effect have to do with networking? Take 5 minutes to watch this video and find out! I tell a pretty powerful story about how the Butterfly Effect caused some very unexpected things to happen in my life, resulting in an amazing experience.
As I’ve mentioned in a couple of my recent video blog posts, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking. Today’s video is one of several short videos I’ll be posting which cover networking topics we will be focusing on in the book. These videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and, ultimately, we want to gather stories from networkers like you who have experience with the different topics I discuss in these videos.
If you have a story relating to the ‘Butterfly Effect of Networking’ which demonstrates the power of this concept in a significant or remarkable way, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing. Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well. Thanks in advance for your participation!
[Note – unfortunately, there was a lot of wind during this recording. We did our best to edit it out. Thanks for understanding.]
I mentioned in a previous blog, “Virgin Territory,” that I recently visited Necker Islandand had the opportunity to spend some time with Richard Branson. During that visit, Richard was kind enough to take a few minutes to record this video with me and share what his ‘Plan B’ initiative is all about.
The ‘Plan B’ concept aims to bring businesses together in a united effort to achieve greater social responsibility and a better, more sustainable planet. Watch the video now to find out how you can be a part of the ‘B Team’ and play a part in making the world a better place for us all to live in.
What are your thoughts on this concept? Do you share Richard’s ideas about the importance of businesses placing higher importance on social responsibility and bettering the environment? What might you be able to do in your business within the coming weeks to bring it more in line with the ‘Plan B’ concept? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment forum below. Thanks!
I recently spent a week on Necker Island with Richard Branson and it was an amazing experience, just as it was when I was there a few years ago right about the time I first started writing this blog. During that initial visit to Necker, I wrote about the Butterfly Effect of Networking for the first time ever.
During this visit, Richard told me a very interesting story about his early days with Virgin Records. He was 20 years old and publishing a student magazine. He wanted to give students a better deal on records and decided to start a new business. “Slipped Disc” was initially one of his favorite ideas for a business name but when one of the people working with him suggested that they were all “complete virgins in business,” Richard decided on the spot to call the new business Virgin Records.
Once he had the name in place, he moved forward with the process of getting a trademark on it. He put in a trademark application through the UK trademark office for the name “Virgin Records.” However, he immediately encountered a problem; the trademark office denied the filing stating that the term “Virgin” was, according to them, “rude!” Richard shared with me that he continually tried for nearly four years to get them to approve a trademark on his company because, the fact was, without it the brand was in danger of being copied. Finally, out of frustration, he looked in the dictionary for all possible definitions of the word “virgin” and discovered a definition that might assist him in his plight to gain a trademark. Armed with his newly discovered definition, he contacted the trademark office yet again and explained to them that according to the English dictionary, the term “virgin” was not rude. In fact, when he cited the dictionary definition of “virgin” as “pure,” the frustrated bureaucrats had no choice but to relent. That’s the story of how Richard Branson finally received the trademark on his iconic company – The Virgin Group.
After sharing this story with me, Branson said, “Brands are very important. You either need to be very creative or you need to spend a lot of money to build the brand name.” He explained that Virgin was one of the brand names that was really creative and that’s why it worked from the start.
There are now hundreds of companies within the “Virgin” brand. I’ve personally used Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Blue, and Virgin Hotels (to name a few) and as a customer of each of these companies, my experiences have been either good or great. If you’ve been a patron/customer of any of the Virgin companies, I’d love for you to leave a comment in the forum below offering your feedback on which of the Virgin companies you’ve used and what your experiences were like–do you think the global image/reputation of the Virgin brand factored into your decision to give your business to a Virgin company as opposed to their competitors? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts–thanks!