I’m often asked, “Who has been an inspiration to you during your life?”
My answer is that there are a handful of people who have influenced me in terms of business and personal development. I’d like to tell you about four who have impacted my life both professionally and personally.
Michael E. Gerber
The first is Michael Gerber. Michael is an icon in the field of management. He wrote the book “The E-Myth” (entrepreneurial myth). I did not know Michael when I read the book, which I first picked up when I started BNI®. One of the things that really resonated with me was that he talked about systems, systems, systems. You have to write everything down and create systems. Make it replicable and sustainable. AND you have to learn how to work on the business, not just in the business. There are so many things that Michael wrote that I applied to BNI. I truly believe that BNI, as an organization today, exists the way it does because of the influence that “The E-Myth” had on me.
What really amazed me is that going forward almost 20 years, I finally had the opportunity to meet Michael and spend a fair amount of time with him. He visited me at my home, which reinforced my attitude about his knowledge and business acumen. He is amazing. I highly recommend that you read his book. He absolutely makes a difference in people’s business lives.
Number two is for personal development as much as business development, and that is Jack Canfield. You may know Jack from the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series which has sold over 500 million copies worldwide. I’ve gotten to know Jack really well and I think he is an amazing guy. He invited me into the Transformational Leadership Council (TLC), which I have been a member of now for a number of years, serving on their board and membership committee.
For somebody who has sold 500 million books and is as well-known as he is, oftentimes ego enters the room several minutes before they do. Not so with Jack. He is easy to talk to, very well-read, low ego, very intelligent, very personable, very driven, and very connectable.
Here is one of the things that I really love about him. He is highly engaged when he is at a seminar. He is up front, listening to everyone’s presentation and taking copious notes. I have learned a lot from Jack; he is a great guy. I urge people to read his books on success, such as “The Success Principles,” and read any of the Chicken Soup books – they are outstanding.
The third person is someone who may not have the name recognition as the first two, however he has really influenced me personally and has influenced BNI. It is Stewart Emery. Stewart has written a number of books including, “Success Built to Last.” I highly recommend that book. He has also written the book, “Do You Matter?” It’s about branding and design of a business, which is really good. I think Stewart is one of the great minds of our time. He has come up with some ideas that are really powerful, two of which I talk about often.
The first is culture eats strategy for breakfast. I love that concept. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. If you are part of an organization that has marginal culture and great strategy, you’re not going to do well as an organization. If you are part of an organization with great culture and a marginal strategy, you will probably do pretty well. If you are an organization that has great culture and a great strategy, you are going to beat the competition every day of the week.
The second thing that I learned from Stewart is the concept that became the basis for the book we co-authored together, “Who’s In Your Room?” The idea is that, assuming you let somebody into a metaphorical room that you create and you can’t ever let them out, would you think twice about who you let in? It’s a great concept and it is particularly relevant for BNI chapters and networking groups because if you bring people in, you realize that you are going to be with these people for a long time and can never get rid of them if you let them in. I appreciate Stewart for sharing this brilliant concept with me, and with all of us.
Sir Richard Branson
I got a chance to meet Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group, several times through my visits to Necker Island. I’ve spent time with him there and got to know him reasonably well. He is gracious, kind and patient with people. He can connect to anyone at any level of an organization and make them feel empowered and good about themselves. He knows how to relax and have fun, and he’s a great host. I love that he has absolute laser focus on anyone he meets; he gives his undivided attention to them. He talks with that person as if they are the only one in the room, maintaining eye contact with them the whole time. I have gone to school on Richard and his ability to network effectively with all people at all levels of an organization, and I’ve learned a lot from him.
So those are people who have influenced me both personally and professionally.
Who has inspired you? I invite you to think about two or three people who have made a difference in your life and share why & how in the comments section.
I believe gratitude is a good thing. I suggest that if you know these people personally, or if you can connect with them somehow, let them know that they have influenced your life.