Rob: All right well, welcome to our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you are in the world today. I have a person that we’re gonna talk with today who I consider to be one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and you’ll quickly realize that and as you start to listen to some of his stories and hear some of the background and a little bit about Randy. But let me introduce Randy because, I don’t say that lightly when I say he’s one of the most respected people I know and not just by me but might many many other people who I know, that says a lot about Randy. He started out as a student body president at Ricks and while he was there I said, “You know Randy, is there anything you haven’t done?” Because he’s done all these things and he looked at his phone and he showed me this picture of him riding a bull while he was in college. Not only was he study body president, he did some bull riding while he was there, which immediately my respect level went through the roof for him when I saw that. He went on to the Harvard OPM Program. He starred and sold several businesses very successfully. He has six children, a beautiful wife who’s amazing in her own right. One of the things that stands out to me most about Randy, amongst all his success’ and all the people he knows, he’s probably the most connected person I’ve ever met. The thing that really stands out the most about Randy is his impeccable character and honestly, he genuinely cares about other people and helping them succeed and that’s one of the reasons I believe Randy has been so successful himself is because he wants to see other succeed and he comes across very genuine people realize that he’s very sincere in what he does. So without further ado, one the most successful people I know and down to earth, just loving, kind people; Randy Garn!
Randy: Well, thank you Rob! I really really appreciate you saying those kind words and I feel the same about you and what you and your dad have built with BYB and the whole leadership thing is so critical in everybody in all facets of our lives and so I’m learning to be a great student of yours.
Rob: Yeah, well that goes both ways! It’s always hard too, when someone introduces you and says all these amazing things, it’s like what do you say after that? But Randy really is amazing! Do you think, Randy, if you wouldn’t mind just giving them a brief background on you that I didn’t cover? You know, where you’re from, a little bit about you, anything that you think would be valuable for someone to know?
Randy: Yeah, I think it is important to know where we’ve come from and you know, I grew up in a really small town called Sugar City, Idaho. You know, when I left I think there’s 1150 people there after I left. And I mean it was just an amazing place and I’ll get back to that. Why I think our roots and the way we are raised, and the way we’re raising our children are so critical for the people that we become, and especially with character and integrity and in leadership. And so I grew up and my dad was a high school football coach for 29 years. He’s going into medicine and then you know he had these four boys and he’s like, “Man I’m gonna buy a ranch and I’m gonna be a football coach. I’m gonna teach my kids how to work.” So I mean he sacrificed on what he could have done but he wouldn’t give it up to the world and so you know, I grew up in a really fun environment. It’s so funny when I meet a lot of leaders, they’re like, “You know my parents abused me,” or you know, “I was in some serious trauma,” or other things happen and that makes people great. You know when they can overcome those things, but I was actually fortunate enough to be led by a really, really good man that told me that I could do anything I wanted in life and actually mentored me and stuck with me the whole time. And so, somebody that I love and admire and he’s still alive today and I respect him and he still gives me a quote every night and how he helped build me up every night and so that was some of my roots was growing up in that type of environment.
Rob: Did I hear you right to say that you either rode a tractor or a truck or something and he would always be playing these tapes of some these greats?
Randy: Yeah. In fact, we had about, you know it was about a twenty-minute ride out to our ranch where we raise cattle and horses. And so, we had about 300 head of cattle and we had 50 horses at one time so I mean it wasn’t a huge ranch but it was a ton of fun and we would listen to Denis Waitley and Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar and The Strangest Secret from Nightingale and that’s some of the things that I’d listen to and then he’d mentor me. We’re out there fixing fences and all that and he’d talk about it. You know, we grew up in kind of a family to where we are God-fearing and we literally would say family prayers at night and then put it in and everybody in, ready? Break! Go Garns! And so it was just fun. It was a good time, so yeah we listened to a lot of the classics and you and I did a call with Denis a couple of days ago and he’s a great man, but that’s some of the things I grew up on.
Rob: Yeah, and the irony is all these very people who you grew up listening to now, you become very close friends with them. In many cases, helping mentor them as it goes both directions and ironic how you know that fate aligned that way. Speaking of this, interestingly, we were just with the group today and was talking about estate planning and one of the things was mentioned was often times we think about estate planning as it’s just financial. You know, here’s what happens to your finances. This particular person leading the discussion was saying, you know what? It’s so much more that! It’s a legacy that you’re leaving. It’s a legacy of character. It’s a legacy of what you’re teaching your children and in so many ways it sounds like you’re such a product of what your parents created for you in the environment.
Randy: Yeah, I would totally agree with that in a lot of ways. And so I mean now I’ve got a family of my own, married probably one of the most awesome women on earth and I’ve got an amazing life. In a lot of times, I do, I talk a lot about kind of the home court advantage. You know I had a CEO reach out to me the other day and he’s like, “Man I’ve got two kids and you know things are rough at home. How do you balance everything? How do you grow a business and keep things right personally and stay fit and do all these things? I can’t keep it up!” And he’s like, “Randy, you’re probably single and being able to do all these things!” I was like, actually I’m not! I have an amazing wife. I’ve got six kids. I’ve got two sets of twins. I run multiple companies and we’re growing things like crazy! He about lost it! He’s like, “How in the world do you balance all that?” You know, I said, well first off you got to have to make sure you get everything right both personally and professionally because, for me, there’s no distinction. And I know a lot of people try to put things in silo but for me, Rob, there’s no distinction between who you are at business and who you are home and who you at church or who you are personally and professionally. It’s you’re one person and so the way that you show up in one place is the way that you really show up everywhere.
Rob: Ooh, we could stop the podcast right now. If we all just live that, what a huge impact it would have on the world. Randy, actually segways into a thought I had and that was you know one of the things that is amazing about you, is the relationships you have with so many people. And so you had a chance in your life in these different associations to meet some of the most incredible people and influencers on earth. So, from all these people you’ve met and you just describe some of it right there, if you had a narrow down to a few things what sets apart those who you most admire and respect and why?
Randy: I thought about this a lot you know and I thought about this over a great deal. I actually wrote a book called, “Prosper.” We hit The New York Times in 2011 and I wrote the book with a close friend of mine. We started another company that we sold in 2014. But for me, it’s those people that are balancing money and happiness and sustainability. And to be able to do that, that’s where prosperity really comes in for me. But to be able to do that, you have to have some real deep character and there’s a few people in my life that I really truly respect. You know, I just was on the phone with Brandon Steiner from Steiner sports and Harvey McKay – I’m on his advisory board. He’s written 13 books, “Swim with the Sharks,” and you know, “How to use your head to get your foot in the door,” and many others. But for me, it’s people that have really lived the law of reciprocity and that you know, Brandon always says, “Do as much as you can for as many people as you can for as often as you can without asking for anything in return. And watch what life does to you and for you.” And so, I watch them and I watch how successful they are but also successful is more than just monetarily. It’s like it’s rich in relationships and rich in being able to do business development and rich in being able to call anybody at any time and have access instead of you know trying to pay your way into things. You have access to the things you’d never have access to because you’re such a giver. That’s one characteristic that I know the people that I really admire and love.
Rob: Yeah it’s interesting you say that because, really, we live in a world where it’s almost counter to our culture. At least from my perspective, there’s so much in the world of what’s in it for me and how do we grow and I and we and us and what you described is so powerful and I just think, you know, our listeners don’t know this but you have this ranch up in Wyoming, this beautiful ranch in a valley called Star Valley and you bring people there often go fishing and take some time in the outdoors and you had a couple of people who from the outside would be considered very successful recently and I remember you show me the pictures of the dad catching a fish with his son and taking that time and so many things come from that. Not only was that a relationship that you had with him, where just purely giving your time not only giving but creating a rich experience. It’s not even just a lunch or dinner, you’re out there fishing side by side and secondarily there’s this dad fishing with his son for what looked like one of the first times in his life and the rich experience that they were having together and his son will never forget that and so I think you’re one of the epitomes of what you just described.
Randy: Well, I mean that we were doing that for them and they become even deeper friends right? There’s another principle that I live, one is the law of reciprocity but the other big one, Rob, that’s really been effective for me is called the experience economy. Joesph Pine wrote a book called “The Experience Economy” and that’s why we have you know the Trout Ranch. We’ve got other properties and then I do, I take a lot of people up too. Got some great friends up at Sundance and Chad Lindebaugh and the guys that run Rocky Mountain Outfitters or we go horseback riding or fly fishing or zip lining and you go have an experience with somebody and a lot of times you’ll spend the whole day together and maybe talk business about twenty minutes. When they kind of come out for the whole day and we have a deal done. And so a lot of times people get so stuck in to, you know, “We will meet you at the hotel,” or wherever. I love to get out and do stuff with these guys that never experienced the things that we can offer. So I’m really big on the book by Joseph Pine called “The Experience Economy,” to generate deep meaningful, relationships but also drive tremendous value and move the business forward in a big way naturally.
Rob: Yeah that’s awesome. I mean there’s another terminology: transactional versus transformational. I mean, lunches are great, dinners are great but what you’re talking about is the spirit of good, better, best. Taking something that’s good and making it way, way better because it’s so rich, it’s so deep and so real. I mean you’re out in the outdoors and so much amazing things that can happen from that. So building on that what you just described there, and maybe now zeroing in on you not so much on others, but from your own life experiences, what are two or three of your biggest lessons learned through life? I mean you’ve seen so much now. What are one, two or three of those lessons learned that you feel could we have a real impact in the lives of our listeners and what tips would you share from your own experience?
Randy: From my own, experience, I think some of the biggest things are, you know you don’t need to please everyone. And I think early on in my career, you know the most valuable asset that any of us have is time – is our time. And so I have a formula for whether I’ll do business with others or not and it’s a formula that I actually learned from it another gentleman that does partner with this up at the top of the trout ranch. It’s called you’re the P. over your E. squared. Take look at fractional equations get your P. over your E. squared that means that your principles are higher than your ego or economic interests, always. I always look at somebody and I say, at the end of the day is as their principles other principals higher than their ego or their economic interest in something and will they stick to that more so because I have done business and I’ve done things with individuals where, man, it looks on paper like it’s going to be a fantastic, amazing, awesome opportunity and we’re going to crush it and we’re all gonna be billionaires and you know being able to give back and do all the stuff but the end of the day you know that something’s just not right and I’ve actually got some pretty good Spidey senses for that, where you just know that there’s just something that’s just not right and I went forward with that is like I haven’t quite figured that out you know when I was younger but now I have. If it just doesn’t chemistry, doesn’t fit right or like something just doesn’t feel like, “Oh heck yeah. We’re gonna crush this, we’re gonna do this!” if you leave a meeting and you feel like I just I don’t know if I am in. It doesn’t mean that they’re always unintegrous or whatever it may be, but it’s always been where their ego or their economic interest don’t align with mine, it has not ended up being a good thing.
Rob: That right there just to pause, I know you have one or two more to say, but that is a huge, huge deal. You know it’s interesting as we put together the book you know as you well know Become Your Best and ironically used the word principles – The 12 principles of highly successful leaders. And in doing so interviewing hundreds of people and you try to look for these patterns of success and what sets apart great leaders and high performing teams from everyone else. And so you see that there’s this pattern that emerges there’s where the 12 principles come from. At the same time, it was really interesting because another pattern emerged and it was at the very same principle but when they were violated. And one of the things you see over and over in CEOs and leaders that at least was from my experience and perspective was their downfall was their ego.
Rob: And when ego became so big that it got in the way the progress of the company or got in the way of the finances so they couldn’t or they couldn’t take input – the ego, was in many cases, their downfall. And we have several coaching clients right now and part of the reason I know this is, “Hey I’ve got a nice present or so and so and their egos got so big, how do I handle this?” Because it’s kind of killing our business. So just to reinforce it, what a great thought that is so P over E squared, is that right?
Randy: P over E squared – so your ego and economic gain, but you’re right, I mean there’s been, in fact, we just met with another amazing, amazing man and he said the best CEOs in the world are those that have humility. Isn’t that interesting? They have humility and they follow their principles. Because you can do anything, I mean you can have success for a short period of time but if your ego and your economic interest and you get too greedy, it’s gonna get in the way and it’s going to stop you from growing and the best CEOs both have humility and also give credit where credit’s due. I mean, there are different forms of ways you can pay people. One of the best ways that I know how to pay people is to give them credit.
Rob: Yeah, make them the hero. Yeah, that’s really good. Any other thoughts on that lessons learned from your past experiences? I mean that’s a fabulous one right there.
Randy: Yeah, I think the other big one for me is something that again my dad, he is just an amazing man and I can’t wait for you to meet him but one of the things; I was leaving for college and he told me one thing and I wrote it down. I’ll never forget in this state is like my first day going up from college. I just got back from living in the Philippines for two years and literally had like four days until I start college and he said, “Randy, I want you to know one thing is that if you don’t have your own goals then someone else will use you for theirs.”
Rob: Wow. Yeah, that’s powerful.
Randy: So, you think about that whether you’re a CEO or you know working for somebody or whatever that is but again you know if you don’t have your own goals then someone else will use you for theirs. So I work closely with a lot of very high powered people in on some advisory boards and we work on strategy. If you do not have your own personal strategic plan and if you don’t write down those principles like you guys talk about like leadership like when I went to your live event, it was awesome! Because you were really pushing people to write down and to really manifest what they wanted to accomplish and so that was like one of the biggest key advice that had ever been given to me is, you know, “Randy if you don’t have your own goals someone else will use you for theirs.” And I know you guys do a lot of that with what you do and even this year, BYB Daily Journal that I’m using and everything else it’s so critical, to set those goals and know exactly what you’re doing -every single day, every single week, every single month and execute well.
Rob: Yeah, because the whole point is to lead a life by design rather than live a life by default.
Rob: And you know the research, backing up what you just said, is that a person is 90% more likely to accomplish something when they have a clearly written goal. Yet on the other side of the scale, on average only 10% of people have clearly written goals and so getting very intentional and focused. But I love that quote, I wrote it down. I’m gonna use that again in the future because it’s so spot on. “If you don’t have your own goals someone else will use you for theirs.”
Randy: Exactly right.
Rob: That’s a good one. I like that. You know, we’re sitting here talking Randy and so many people listen to this podcast because their businesses in a leadership position or you know they want to be a better employee, yet many people also have these families at home, they’re in a relationship with someone else and a lot of what you’re saying now goes right back into the home, doesn’t it?
Randy: Well, it does. I mean that’s why I said it. It really does. You think about your family, to think about your most valuable asset. To me, it’s my children. I actually literally plan time to spend time with them or planning out you know our whole entire year; when we’re doing vacations and all that. When I was younger, we didn’t plan our vacations and then somebody else put something on there like, “I’m sorry honey, we really can’t go to San Diego,” or “We can’t go to Hawaii this month of August, because I actually have an event I’m speaking at or doing.” But now, we do have to plan those things out or you will miss baseball games, you will miss opportunities for your family and family things and so, why do we work so hard? Literally, for me, it’s because so I can actually give my family that things that they need so I don’t want to miss that time especially the prime of their life. And so, I don’t want to be one of those guys you know like Cat Stevens, “A cat’s in the cradle,” where I didn’t spend time with my most valuable assets so I think it does spill over to home and again that’s part of my whole thing on home court advantage. You got to plan those things out or else other people use your time for other things.
Rob: I’m so in agreement on that, absolutely! And, everything you’re talking about, not only planning and being intentional with our children and with our spouse. I just met someone at a conference, Randy, last week and the two people walked up and, it’s not a credit to me or you. It’s the principle. That’s what you’re talking about. And they just said this short hour just changed my life and they say, “Well, you know I haven’t been on a date with my spouse in over a year.” It is just because life – it’s so easy for life to come in and take over if we’re not being intentional planning and doing the things you’re talking about. Because, in our society, unlike in some others around the world, wow it’s so fast paced here and so we’re not intentional we run the risk of something else taking over our lives and suddenly we look back and say, “Wait a second, where’d time go and our kids around the house and our relationships? You know, what happened?” So I love that! If you want, Randy, since we’re about twenty minutes or so. I can’t believe it goes by that fast and I got to tell our listeners, something cool about Randy, that we don’t know, we’re in the very early stages but I just had this thought, it’d be fun to go to the Everest base camp store talking about experiential and this experience economy, and so we got on the phone and I asked for Randy, “Hey Randy, how would you like to go? And would this be some you might be interested in?” And we want to keep this to a small group and Randy was like, “Man I had this is as a dream of mine forever!” You know, I was thinking maybe it might be fun to take my will be, at the time my 18 old son with us now and we talk about these experiences and we’re in the early stages of planning and just before the podcast we’re thinking, you know, maybe 2019/2020, the thought is if we don’t plan it now, what’s the odds it’s something like that’s ever going to happen?
Randy: It’s so true, Rob and just think about that both! It will help us to get in shape to do that – that’s some serious, serious hiking but just think of the experience that we have that the group that will go will do something that we’ll never forget, right? And so you’re exactly right but we’re planning that after two 2019 or 2020 and you have to do that because time flies! Time flies so fast that if you’re not staying on top of the stuff you’ll miss out on living the intentional life is what I call it.
Rob: Hopefully my mother in law is not listening in this podcast because she doesn’t know that yet. So as we get ready to wrap up, maybe one more thing if you don’t mind Randy. I haven’t really asked you this yet. What’s an experience in your life that really, if you look back to say maybe that experience or one of the experiences that were one of the most influential experiences on you, help shape you and who you’ve become today? Would you mind sharing that?
Randy: Yeah, I mean, one that just comes to my mind that I’ll share with you. As you know, back in our company we started company back in 1999 and you know, it just exploded and back after two and a half years of being business and really profitable and growing and we had some people that came in and said, “Hey, we’ll give you all this money and you know we’ll take you IPO and we’ll do a reverse merger and you know we ended up doing the deal and it took us 3.5 or over 3 years to unwind it and it’ll cost millions of dollars to be able to do so and so that was one of my most valuable experiences because we said you know what these guys are really super smart you know they’re in their forties, they’re amazing, they’ve done business stuff but come to find out that it was really not what it was all out to be. I remember my business partner looking at me and he said, “You know what, if we’re waiting for all the smart people to show up, we’re actually here.” And we’re literally just looking at each other and so I think one of the biggest things is that I’ve learned in my life is to have confidence in myself, in that, if somebody else can do it, I can do it. So you can’t fear those things and it’s just like what’s the difference between a $4,000,000 company a $40,000,000 company and a $400,000,000 dollar company – that really is really good people and strategy but it’s a really good leader. Leadership is everything and so I stopped looking at other people to be my leaders and I started looking inward and started to build my own leadership qualities and traits and that’s been a big focus of mine I’d really say for the last 18 years or so. But it all stemmed from that experience.
Rob: How was that when you’re going through it at the time?
Randy: Oh bro, it was the worst ever. It was dark days, you know. It was it was really, really hard because we had all our employees that were also rooting and fighting for an understanding but it was a lot of prayers and in a lot of good things but we ended up you know really, really exploding after that as well, so I mean it’s those things that build character and put hair on your chest when you go through tough experiences so it was good.
Rob: It is. You know it’s interesting that’s what you shared and I think a lot of our listeners know that my dad went through similar experiences and it took him seven years. I remember him going down to the office with him. You know, speaking of being intentional, bringing everything back together. I remember running around the building – it’s a dark building but I’m down there in his office with him until like 9 pm. He’d work these 15 hour days – trying to get out of a similar dark period and from that experience, that was kind of a refiners fire for him to really shape him to who he became later on in life and they’re certain principles as a result of that and standards that we live by now as a company, for example, we will not operate with debt. I know that’s not the case in every industry and companies there are, you know, different thoughts on that but that’s one of the things that we will do. He will never get in that position again. It’s one of my personal mottos – the same principle. So it’s amazing what can come from those refiner prior experiences. Boy, they’re tough when you’re in the middle of them, aren’t they?
Randy: Yeah, and I learned too, you can’t go sometimes in life you can’t go around things or over things. Sometimes you just have to go right through them, you know?
Rob: That’s why you got the nickname. What do they call you as a fullback in high school? The little ball of hate?
Randy: Yeah, the little ball of hate. Back in the day. It’s a ton of fun!
Rob: Randy, thank you so much for being on this podcast. I mean you’re such an incredible friend, mentor, example and I think all of our listeners – I’m extremely confident they felt not only sincerity but who you are and why you’ve had the influence on people that you’ve had and who you’ve become. So if you wouldn’t mind, if there’s any way they can either contact you or any details that you share about how they can learn more about you? If someone wanted to reach out in some form or fashion – is that something you could share with them?
Randy: Yeah you know what, this is gonna be awesome because one of the software technology companies that we have is a marketing communications technology and it allows you to get really good at personal relationships and following up. It’s a company called Skipio and so the best way to get a hold of me as I’m really on my V. I. P. line and if you will just text me the words S K I P I O at 801 332 9909 and I’ll be able to be able to follow up with you and you’ll get a reply from me on some of the cool things that we’re working with on the how to be a really, really amazing communicator and how to be really good on follow up. So again it’s Skipio, just text keywords Skipio to 801 332 9909 and you’ll get a text right back from me with all my contact info.
Rob: Awesome, so text Skipio – S-K-I-P-I-O to 801 332 9909 is that right?
Randy: That’s correct.
Rob: And Randy will respond to you and we use Skipio. This is a great service if you’re in any type of business where the customer experience is important which should be just about all businesses. You can also go to skipio.com and see what they do is a business a little bit more. Very, very cool what they do and Randy will respond so that’s very generous of you to offer that out there for them Randy. Any parting thoughts?
Randy: You know the last parting thought that I have is that I hope that all the listeners are you know utilizing Becoming Your Best tools. Honestly, Rob, you came in and you spoke our company about what was it three months ago?
Rob: Yeah that in there. Somewhere in there.
Randy: And it has been it’s been amazing, both for myself but other people keep referencing it in our office so all of the listeners I’d say you know the most important thing to do is to continue to work on yourself and continue to become the best individual, the best human, the best person that you can, and that way you can really reach out to others in a big way. And so I’m just that’s the one thing but I’m trying to do a lot better is to be the best you know leader that I can be and change as many lives but I possibly can before I go to the other side. And, so the other thing is one last thing – relating back to that story, is that a lot of people think you know in today’s society it’s like you know well I should deserve that or I should you know that’s something that I deserve. I should deserve to be the CEO or I should deserve to have lots of money. I will tell you, that you really don’t get what you deserve in life. You get what you work hard for and what you negotiate. So those are the two things – the two principles I live by: you don’t get what you deserve in life you get what you fight, scratch, beg and plead for and negotiate. That’s what you end up getting in life so that’s part of my last leadership tip for everyone.
Rob: Well, that is so true and I certainly echo and feel the exact same as you do so. Randy you’re amazing! Thanks so much for being on the podcast. I know this is a huge deal for our listeners. It impacts me and it will certainly impact them so thank you for being here and everyone remember that one person can make a difference and it’s just like Randy said it’s you and I asking what can we do to make a difference so wishing you a great day and wonderful week where you’re at in the world.
Welcome to our podcast listeners, wherever you might be in the world today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host with Becoming Your Best, Global Leadership.
Think of one of the most amazing books you have ever read! What sets it apart from all of the others? Well, it’s the words!
And, imagine an incredible speaker or comedian. Aside from their unique presentation, it is the words that gives them passion to make a difference. They’re put together in the right way that make us laugh or reflect upon a play or movie that you have been to or seen, it is the words that also really penetrated your soul in a way you can never forget.
I mean, just think about Mary Poppins:
Even though the sound of it
Is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough
You’ll always sound precocious
Who could ever forget that one or “A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down!”
Or how about John F Kennedy? “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!”
Or Martin Luther King, “I have a dream…”
Yoda: Do or do not! There is no try!
So, think of the words that have influenced your life: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I know I can, I know I can…., I knew I could, I knew I could, I knew I could. This little phrase from The Little Train that Could has lasted with me for all these years.
Today’s podcast is about the use of words, which is wonderfully exciting and a mind-blowing part of Principle #7 of The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, and this particular one is: How to be an effective communicator.
Words happen to be a huge part of communication. So, what’s really the vision for using words? Well, they allow us to both communicate and understand in a way that inspires and impacts both your behavior and the behaviour of others.
So, words really do provide you with the capacity to articulate even your own personal vision, just think about that. Which in turn can affect your thoughts, your actions, habits, character and ultimately your destiny.
So, if there was ever a reason to work on your good, better and best in an area, your use of words is it! So, whether you are 20, 40, 60, or 80 years old, our words, and in turn, our actions really define who we are.
As a matter of fact, talk about being self-conscious of something, my capacity to do this podcast is limited or enhanced by my use of words. Yikes—what a responsibility.
And as we reflect on The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, these principles are ever vibrant, fresh and they NEVER get stale or old. Each one is an inspiration that lifts us to new heights. However, when they work together, all 12 together, magic happens. A chemistry of excellence is released.
So, Principle #7 is, of course, to be an effective communicator. Our capacity then, to use these words, really effects our capacity to communicate well. And so to improve in this area is an exciting, wonderful, breath-taking journey.
Today, actually, it would be so fun to be together, to discuss and brainstorm these in person. To share our thoughts on ways to use words better. And so, I will imagine that your thoughts and contributions in our discussion are a vibrant part of this podcast today. In the absence of being together, let’s just share some of the things we might have discussed in the form of a word checklist of things that you (we) can do to enjoy this expansive journey that has such a big impact on our lives.
We could talk about language and words: So let’s start out by listening to this one. Diane Setterfield from The Thirteenth Tale.
“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”
― Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale
Wow! Words are so cool and so inspiring. Whether you are communicating with a large group, small group, or one-on-one, the words that you use make all the difference in the world.
To stimulate our discussion, I have identified 6 different dimensions of the “word checklist” that helps you in Becoming Your Best in this area.
Let’s dive right in this! Here is the first one of the checklist that helps us become our best through the use of words:
1.Increase Your Vocabulary: Increasingly your vocabularly is a huge predictor of success. You can practice new words that you don’t use – really, everyday. Some years ago, as a father who wanted to help his children, I became aware of an institute called The Johnson O’Connor Institute, Test. It’s located in different areas of the United States and this is something – it’s about a 5 hour test and it accesses your capability, among other things, your vocabulary as well. And so, we have sent different of our children to this in San Francisco. I actually accompanied them. And after the 5 hour test, an assessment result is given to you which is probably about 20 pages. It’s terrific! But then it focuses in on vocabulary! And so, Johnson O’Connor has done a huge amount of research in this area. And particularly the studies have focused on the impact of vocabulary on people’s lives and has drawn many amazing conclusions from a vast amount of testing and experiments performed in more than 20 years of research. A significant part of Johnson O’Connor’s research observed successful people in many walks of life and really trying to correlate their success with factors such as gender, age, scholarship levels and many others including vocabulary levels. He tested people on the most diverse endeavors like the students about to take their SATs or executives in large corporations, coaches, teachers etc.
He always found the same results, no matter which area he looked at, and no matter how he analyzed the data: a person’s vocabulary level is the best single predictor of occupational success.
He actually did a study with managers in 39 large manufacturing companies. Below are the average results of an extensive vocabulary test, averaged and grouped by hierarchical level:
*Chart described in podcast for visualization purposes.
O’Connor really took extreme care to statistically isolate variables that could distort the results. So scholarship level and age, for example, were considered to make sure it was indeed vocabulary, and not something related, that correlated with success.
And so ultimately, here is the deal. He discovered professional success depends entirely on thinking and communication skills which are directly related to vocabulary. That was the bottom line. I love this quote from Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science.
“A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.”
So this is a huge part of a checklist in strengthening our capacity to use words is to build a strong vocabulary.
Here’s number two:
2. Make your words come alive. Words that breathe – color, imagery, smell, texture, feel, energy and emotion. For example, Zig Ziglar, who’s spoken a number of times at our company seminars and he would say: People refer to money as cold hard cash. “It is never cold nor hard. It is soft and warm.”
We can use similes and metaphors. Here’s one for example: Her tears were like a rushing river. Well, what a great simile! Because it compares someone’s tears with a rushing river. A person’s tears can’t literally be like a rushing river, but by saying that the tears are like a rushing river, you’re conjuring up an image in the individual’s mind, that’s listening to you or reading what you’ve shared, of how much someone is crying.
Or her heart broke like glass! See what an image that creates?
Or the young man trying to remember his father’s advice on a blind date and paying his date a compliment. He could have said, “Your face could make a clock stop”. Or, he could say, “Your face makes time stand still!”
Well, these are tremendous images that help us see things. How about this Primary Song that I learned this when I was 8 years old.
I looked out the window, and what did I see?
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree!
Spring has brought me such a nice surprise,
Blossoms popping right before my eyes.
I could take an armful and make a treat,
A popcorn ball that would smell so sweet.
It wasn’t really so, but it seemed to be
Popcorn popping on the apricot tree.
Isn’t that great? Well that’s a good example of using words in a way that makes things come alive! Of course there’s no popcorn on an apricot tree, but you can see it in your mind! You can see the beautiful white blossoms on an apricot tree – you can almost smell them and it connects you to Spring and the surprise and you want to go out and take an armful and what smells so sweet. This is an idea of using words in a way that they bring things to life.
Here’s number 3 on our word checklist of things that we can do to use words better:
3. Use words that are kind, uplifting, and encouraging. Never mean, degrading, and discouraging. Find something good to say about others. Especially in their absence. Think how much better the world would be if we were all kind to one another. That doesn’t mean we can’t disagree and have differences, different points of view, but just imagine what kind of world we would have if EVERYONE were uplifting in their comments about others. They found the good. The change in a world starts with you and it starts with me. We can do this and it spreads. Here’s a great quote by Vashti Quiroz-Vega.
“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.
Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar (or I might add, the blessing) they leave behind.”
― Vashti Quiroz-Vega
Well how true. Here’s another one from Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun. This is an amazing one:
“We cannot control the way people interpret our ideas or thoughts, but we can control the words and tones we choose to convey them. Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings. Never underestimate the power of a single word, and never recklessly throw around words. One wrong word, or misinterpreted word, can change the meaning of an entire sentence – and even start a war. And one right word, or one kind word, can grant you the heavens and open doors.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
So there’s three that we’ve talk about on our checklist.
1. Build your vocabulary
2. To make your words come alive
3. Use words that are kind, uplifting, and encouraging. Never mean, degrading, and discouraging.
So we ask ourselves then, what can we do next to build our capacity to use language?
4. Be sure to use your spellcheck and good grammar. There are a few things that really distract more from a well meaning letter or communication than words that are spelled incorrectly or they may not be in the right order. Read over your document several times to assure accuracy and, in really important documents, have others read it as well to give you a check and a balance. That’s a great tip for us.
5. Use words that are positive and upbeat. Watch the impact words have on your thoughts and feelings. I’m going to use an example from a book that was a huge inspiration to me, especially in my youth and early 20’s. I read the book The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz numerous times. On page 68 in that book, he uses this example of phrases which create small negative images versus phrases which create big, positive mind images.
I’m just going to give five examples that he used in the book. It will give a feel for it. But they are important to discipline ourselves so we’re really using the big, positive mind image type words.
|Phrases which create small negative mind images||Phrases which create big, positive mind images.|
|1. It’s no use, we’re whipped.||1. We’re not whipped yet. Let’s keep trying. Here’s a new angle.|
|2. Five years is a long time to spend before I’ll get into the top ranks in your company. Count me out!||2. Five years is not really a long time. Just think, that leaves me 30 years to serve at a high level.|
|3. It won’t work. Dark, gloom, disappointment, grief, and failure.||3. It will work, let me prove it. The image: Bright, hope, success, fun and victory.|
|4. I’m too young (old) for the job.||4. Being young (old) is a distinct advantage.|
|5. The market is saturated. Imagine, 75 per cent of the potential has already been sold. Better get out.||5. Imagine! 25 per cent of the market is still not sold. Count me in. This looks big!|
As we think about this thought of using words that are positive and upbeat – Think good words. Use good words. Use good language versus bad language.
I will never forget when I heard the tapes of one of our President’s of the United States. I could not believe the foul language that was totally unnecessary. What a disappointment that was.
My friend, Stephen Covey, who had, one of his trademark was a shaved head, would often say, why waste hormones on growing hair when you can use them on good looks. 😊
Well this was another way of saying – why waste time on unsavory language, when you can focus on good language, things that are upbeat and positive. Because so often, when we are using language to the opposite, it’s an expression of frustration, of wasted time. And so this is a way that we can really use our language to a better use in a way that puts us in a better place.
Here’s number 6:
6. Use words to be a captivating and tell interesting stories.
To be an interesting story teller. People love stories. So, think about it. What are some of your favorite stories. How about TRUE stories from your own life? Share them with others, write them down, learn from them and in many cases, you will have fun time with them, as will others. We can learn great wisdom from our experiences and we know them in total detail in smell, in feel and what it was like and what we learn from it. But let’s not forget that these may also be a benefit for others. I’ll just share an experience that I had when I was 17 years old. I happened to be a senior at Vallejo high school on the baseball team. Our baseball team was an extraordinary baseball team. They were very successful, one of the best in California. I guess I was 16, I was a junior and I was working hard to get into the starting rotation. Mid season, I worked my way into starting – I was both a catcher and played outfield and so we had a great catcher so I was played in left field. We were battling with Napa High School for first place. They had a couple of players that became future professional baseball players. One played for the Mets, another for another team. They were good. The Buckner boys. So, this particular day, a game was being in the evening. Left field was facing the setting sun and so I was on the east side of the field looking directly west as the sun set. There was a man on 1st, it was the 5th inning and Billy Buckner got up and I couldn’t wait for things to get going here. I’m ready to make it happen. We had a good game. We were ahead, by the way, 3-1 at this time and excited. Billy Buckner hit a long fly to left field and it was a high fly. I was ready for it. I put up the glove as I was taught to do to block out the sun when the ball gets into the sun and you can’t see it coming. So you theoretically put your glove up there, block the sun right where the ball’s at and you catch it. Well, this particular day, it didn’t quite work out that way – I put up my glove and I was off by a couple of inches. The ball came right over my glove, hit the top of my head and scooted off as a high rate of speed right behind me and I turned around and chased it down but by the time I could throw it in, it was a home run and the score was tied. I was devastated. I felt terrible. And so we got up and ready for the next batter and the next batter came up and hit a line drive down the left field line and it was one that I thought I could have a shoe string catch on the fly and make the out. And so I was giving a 100% effort, full speed and I reached down to catch it and the ball bounced three inches in front of my glove, straight over my head. I turned around and ran after it full blast. By the time I threw it in, it was another in the park, home run. The score was now 4 to 3, and now tears are going down my face. I’m praying, “Oh Lord, please do not let them hit another ball into left field.” Oh, well there was two outs and the next hit was into left field, fortunately I was able to make the out and the side was retired. Of course I had to return to the dug out and face my team and my coach. My coach was just shaking his head down at the end of the dug out – I don’t think he’d seen anything like that. I happened to be the next batter up, so things could get worse – in this case they didn’t, I did get on base, but we lost the game. Well, there we go! What did I learn from that? Well, I learnt a lot of things from that. First of all, you don’t give up. Things will work out. Better days will come, even if we have a bad day.
The next day at baseball practice, the team presented me with a hardhat with a glove taped to the top of it. Well that’s the way it goes. Well this is a great story and a great memory for me. I can still see the baseball field, I can still smell the grass. I can still see the dirt and it lives on. Well this is a story I’ve shared with our children occasionally and it was a great learning experience for me.
So there you have it! That’s just an example of how we can use words that might be interesting and might be captivating as we become story tellers to teach important principles.
So, here we have it. That’s our 6 word checklist, that we might think about that helps us use words better.
Conclusion: Here is your 6 word checklist.
- Build your vocabulary.
- Use words that live! Popcorn popping on the apricot tree. Bring em alive!
- Use words that are kind, uplifting and encouraging. Never mean, degrading and discouraging. Speak to people well wherever you might be! Find the good. These words will bless lives versus tear them down.
- Use your spellcheck and work on good grammar.
- Use words that are positive and upbeat that create positive images and ultimately actions within our lives that leave good behind us so we focus on high efficiency in effectiveness in using positive good words.
- Use words to be a great story teller: To teach principles and to communicate.
Well here’s my invitation to each of us today:
What can you do in order to make these a bigger part of your life? To use words so that we can be an effective communicator. Well one of the things – the actions that you can take, and this is my invitation for us today, you can invest in and regularly study Becoming Your Best, The 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. If you do not have a Becoming Your Best Book yet, I would recommend that you invest in one. And that you should take 5-10-minutes to review the principles and go through them. What will happen is that this will help you be in the upper 5% of leaders anywhere as you start mastering these 12 principles because that’s what we discovered in our 40 years of research of what sets apart high performers, the best leaders in history, from everybody else. It is these 12 principles. So, not only invest in one yourself and regularly study it, also invest in Becoming Your Best as a gift to family members or a fellow worker. Because they will have the same type of experience and maybe one other action that you can take, is within your families and organizations, share one principle per week. You can assign out who will teach the principle. But you just take 5 minutes and have one person share the principle then the next week, another person will share or teach the principle. If you do this, at the end of 12 weeks, you can step back and evaluate how you did in the 13th week, and then start over again. 13 x 4 is 52 weeks! It means that you can work on these wonderfully powerful principles, that will lift your life, for the rest of your life. As we master them, these create a light within us of effectiveness, a chemistry of excellence, that radiates without and touches everyone. Well we wish you the best, as you work on using words effectively! May this 6 word checklist be a blessing to each one of us. Never forget as you do this that you are making a difference every day of your life. This is a great way to focus on becoming your best. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best – Global Leadership, wishing you a great day!
“We live and breathe words. …. It was books that made me feel that perhaps I was not completely alone. They could be honest with me, and I with them. Reading your words, what you wrote, how you were lonely sometimes and afraid, but always brave; the way you saw the world, its colors and textures and sounds, I felt–I felt the way you thought, hoped, felt, dreamt. I felt I was dreaming and thinking and feeling with you. I dreamed what you dreamed, wanted what you wanted–and then I realized that truly I just wanted you.”
― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince
“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can bring tears from the hardest hearts.”
― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
“Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say infinitely when you mean very; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.”
― C.S. Lewis
“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.”
― Ludwig Wittgenstein
“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.”
“Words… They’re innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they’re no good any more… I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”
― Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing
“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.
Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.”
― Vashti Quiroz-Vega
We cannot control the way people interpret our ideas or thoughts, but we can control the words and tones we choose to convey them. Peace is built on understanding, and wars are built on misunderstandings. Never underestimate the power of a single word, and never recklessly throw around words. One wrong word, or misinterpreted word, can change the meaning of an entire sentence – and even start a war. And one right word, or one kind word, can grant you the heavens and open doors.”
― Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem
Steve: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, where ever you might be in the world today. This is your host Steve Shallenberger and we have a very special guest and friend on our show today and I am as excited as I’ve ever been to have somebody here. He’s wonderful. He’s a one of a kind individual with a life of inspiring others, including me, and helping people all over the world to reach their fullest potential and dreams. Welcome, Denis Waitley.
Denis: Hey Stephen! Great to be with you. It’s a real honor and a privilege to be on your podcast and I hope we can shed some more light to your audience which you do so well on Becoming Your Best.
Steve: Well thank you so much. Well yes we’ll just go ahead and get right into it and before we get going I’d like to just give a little background of some of the things that Denis has done and generally his nature which is amazing. He is inspired, informed, challenged and entertained audiences for over thirty five years. I know that because in 1983 and 1984 in one of my first companies where we had 700 sales reps that were going all over the world – Denis was one of the individuals that we invited to speak to and train all of these young sales reps. There were going all over, and they were energetic of full of energy but Denis and along with the number of his friends Zig Ziglar, Earl Nightingale, Ira Hayes – I mean these are some really cool people who changed our lives and Denis was one of those. And so we’re just part of that but he has done that all over the entire world. He’s spent many years in China , hopefully will have the chance to have them tell us a little about that experience, in India, United States. Recently he was voted business speaker the year by the Sales and Marketing Executives Association and the by Toastmasters international and inducted into the international speakers hall of fame. He’s had over ten million audio programs sold in fourteen different languages. This is just great! I actually pulled Denis a number of your books off my bookshelf again this morning. I’ve read that many times – The Psychology of Winning, The Seeds Of Greatness and it goes on. His audio album The Psychology of Winning is the all time best selling program on self mastery. He’s a graduate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and a former navy pilot. He holds a doctoral degree in human behaviour. Denis we’re so excited to have you with us!
Denis: Well thank you Steve. It’s really great to be with you. You know it’s been a wonderful journey. I’m still out there. You know people say, Well, you’re long past retirement age and I said well retire – by its very definition means to go to bed or tired for the last time. If you’re retired it seems tired again. So I’m re inspired and retried instead of retired and I think that’s one of the secrets that we all learn from people like Billy Graham and people like you know George Burns. You can name them and they seem to live longer because they’re engaged in learning and they have the curiosity of a child that doesn’t end when you finally stop earning. So I think you’re yearning should and learning should continue regardless of your no longer earning.
Steve: Well that is a great way to put it. All of a sudden, that great voice a Denis Waitley is coming back and we just kinda lean forward to listen to all those great quotes that you have. That’s an inspiration for me , like I’m already past retirement ,but I am no where compared – I think Denis is like a 184 at least.
Denis: It seems like it. You know, Steve, I’ve been doing eulogies for all of my contemporaries and that’s not, of course something that you look forward to. So, I did the eulogy for my friend, Jim Rone, Eulogy for my friends Zig Ziglar, for Wayne Dyer, Eulogy for my friend Steven Covey and even for Robert Schuller and Billy Graham was a friend of mine. I don’t like to drop names like that but as I look at it them, I say to myself, “Wow, I’m so fortunate to still be out here.” But I have a cousin in England, Jack Reynolds ,who’s 106 and he holds the Guinness Book of Records for the highest, longest, zip line journey for the oldest person. And it shows him at 106, shouting and yelling as he’s going down this is a blind over the mountain in England and I asked him how do you live so long and he said,” I look forward to being a 107.”
Steve: Well that’s great you know just recently Denis I’ve had the opportunity in just the last few months to be with the number of longevity in health doctors just on a retreat or different circumstances – one in Singapore there. Dr Oz was one of them. Another, Dr Mao is his name and then the third Dr Foruhy – they’re amazing but they talk about, and there among the world’s leaders on health and longevity. They all reflected a number of things in common that we can do to extend healthy living: stay fit, get adequate sleep. One of the ones I like the Dr Oz said was your heart needs to have a reason to keep beating.
Denis: Well that’s good, that’s a very good. That’s when I have learned that too because I studied Prisoners Of War for my doctoral dissertation and I found that no American prisoner escaped during the Korean War from a minimum security camp but many of them escape from maximum security camp and that’s because leaders always want to get home, or get to where they’re going and people who feel that they’re victimized and have no way out or no way forward, then don’t live as long and that’s what happens to many service people and coaches when they retire . If they retire and do nothing and have nothing really going on, you know we all say why don’t we just play golf and fish. Well I like to eat what I catch and I don’t like to kill fish necessarily but I do like taste of a fresh fish and I don’t play golf anymore because why would I run my self esteem on a want like that.
Steve: That’s great. Well there’s so much we can talk about that I think today let’s start talking and I hope you don’t mind and for the benefit of our audience, I’d like to start off talking about The Psychology Of Winning. This is a wonderful book and I am going to read just a small portion out of it. It’s an introduction and then perhaps Denis can tell us about what inspired him, what led to him write The Psychology Of Winning, and how was it been impactful in your life and others? So let me read this clip first. This is where he talks about true winning. True winning however is no more than one’s own personal pursuit of individual excellence. You don’t have to get lucky to win at life nor do you have to knock out other people down or gain at the expense of others. Winning is taking the talent or potential you were born with and have since developed and using it fully towards a goal or purpose it makes you happy. Winning is becoming the dream of yourself that would fulfill you as a person with high esteem. And winning is giving and getting in an atmosphere of love, cooperation, social concern and responsibility and that is why I’ve been so inspired about Denis because not only does he set it out there but then he’s he says now here are some things that we need to do the will help us realize those dreams. So how did it all happen? What led to The Psychology Of Winning.
Denis: Well, that you know, of course a long journey, but as things always start in childhood – so as a little boy, I grew up during World War II – a dysfunctional family. My father left home when I think I was 9 years old when he left but he went to war and then he and my mother broke up and my mother became very bitter because they weren’t spending his checks home and so she became disillusioned with life and was fairly negative it and as a way of combating that disillusionment I rode my bike about ten miles over to my grandmother’s house every Saturday because she was an inspiration. So she and I planted a victory garden and she taught me about the seeds of greatness. She said whatever you put in the soil and nurture will come up and be fruitful and I said, “But how come weeds don’t need water?” And she said, “Well weeds are like negative thoughts. They blow in on the wind and they don’t need any water and they just need people to repeat them.” So we did this victory garden and she inspired me when I was little and in a dysfunctional family where your father maybe is an alcoholic and your mother’s a negative for perhaps all of the right reasons, I found that by reading biographies of people who’d overcome enormous obstacles to become successful – I found that these people had problems that I never even dreamed about and yet they seem to be fulfilled and happy. So I read a lot and then I began to try to be a leader in my school to overcome feelings of inadequacy and feelings of abandonment perhaps by my father and to make a long story short, going to the Naval Academy during the Korean War, I learned a lot about discipline and target seeking and I became a navy pilot which meant that I had to visualize, internalize, I had to fantasize but I had to be goal oriented and I think as a surfer in southern California who finally became disciplined enough to be a carrier pilot, these things went together but I never wanted to destroy people in war- I want to defend my country but I had a calling that I wanted to develop the potential within people because I was struggling myself and to make a really long story short ,during the worst time in my life, when I had custody of my 4 little children, I was divorced and had no income I wrote The Psychology of Winning at the worst of times. Now people, you know Tony Robbins and some of my friends would say, “Well usually, you write a book about your success!” And I said “Well I wrote the book for myself, so that I could learn from what I was not doing to do the things I know I should be doing. And so at the worst of my time, I wrote my best work so to speak, and so I think writing it for myself, giving myself the encouragement to do things that were a little more difficult but took a little more habit, a little more discipline, a little more effort; I put together these principles and I use POW because I had been a rehab facilitator for the returning Vietnam prisoners of war and I use that as a metaphor- POW means either Prince Of Wales, putting on weight, power of women or psychology of winning and it’s a perception through the eye of the beholder. So my premise is it’s not so much what happens to you that counts, it’s how you take it and what you make of it so what’s your response to the daily life ; your anticipation of the future and the way you treat failure as fertilizer. Failure is the fertilizer of success. My grandmother used to say as we were fertilizing our plants, she said “We just take all the stuff and mulch and up and it grows green plants,” and I said “So that’s what you do with failure huh? She said you don’t lay in it wallow in it. You use it as a learning experience. So I would say that my grandmother who immigrated from England and going through World War 2 and the Korean War – I thought we’d always be at war because that’s all I knew growing up, and so I was so gratified to realize that the war is finally ended but POW, does really mean for me psychology of winning rather than a prisoner of war.
Steve: Wonderful! Boy, what we’re great comments and thanks for the background. Talk about seeds! There are so many nuggets of what you just shared of and your grandma must’ve been some lady!
Denis: Well I think about every day I have a mahogany butterfly that she always wanted that I finally made enough money with my paper out to buy it for is the only gift that I wanted from her life but it’s in my kitchen and I look at it every day and we have a little silent conversation but she was definitely the role model and inspiration in my life and that I’ll always be grateful for having her. She would say “You mow the bass line I’ve ever seen.” and I would ride my bike 10 miles just to get that kind of recognition from her and that good feeling of you’re a good boy and you can do good things and the seeds of greatness and I always ask her “Will the Japanese win?” And she said “No ,you always get out what you put in.” So you get the harvest of the seeds that you sell sow – she said they will not win because their premise for doing what they did was not good and honest. I said “Wow.” She said, “So model yourself after people who’ve given service but not necessary are celebrities,” and I’ve always felt that the most successful people will never be known in the media because they’re not celebrities, they are so busy living life and doing good they don’t get covered by the media.
Steve: Great insights! if you wouldn’t mind, you said something that caught my attention. You said in the middle of all this you had to you know this wonderful influence and contrast of experiences as a young man but the influence of your grandma on talking about planting the right seeds and in in the middle of all this where you’re feeling “a bit like a failure,” because of some of the things that had happened , you said just mention that you felt a calling to help others develop their potential and you included yourself in that group. Would you mind talking about that feeling you had? This calling you felt that you needed to address and respond to and how big of a deal was that for you?
Denis: What was really a big deal see because at the Naval Academy is Episcopalian and growing up the only religious training I had was my grandma reading some really great proverbs and things out of the good book. So I went to Sunday school because the Presbyterians have better uniforms on the softball team and so I went through all these religious experiences and finally and later Billy Graham said to me, “So you’ve got all these experiences what denomination are you? and I said, “Sir I was hoping you might give me a suggestion.” And he said, “You know you’re on your journey .” So the truth of the matter is when I would hear Handel’s messiah at Christmas time , there was this inner tingling and this feeling that there was something internal and I think I was becoming acquainted with my soul and yet not having any formal religious training, it was definitely an inner inspiration so I felt that perhaps I had made a lot of mistakes in my apprenticeship in life so that I might be able to learn to do the right things. And much of what I’ve written about are certainly repetitions of the scriptures and the Old and the New Testament and all the great books that have been written so there’s no question that I’m not an original. I’m someone who’s leaned from reading and experiencing and traveling about these things and I think that it was at that bad time of not having income, having my four children wanting to come back home to San Diego or to California and I was in Pittsburgh in their worst winter and I had just sold the Jonas Salk Foundation to the Mellon Foundation back in Pittsburgh and I found myself divorced with custody of four children who didn’t want to be with me in Pittsburgh in the winter. They wanted to come home. It’s almost like saying “Come on we’ve always been a team!” And they said ‘We want to go home, dad.” I said,” I know but you’re with your dad.’ They said “Yeah I know but we want to go home,” and I think that was the turning point where you put your head out the window and say, I’m fed up with myself. I’m not going to take it anymore but which meant I’m not going to do this to myself. So I went into this program of self analysis, self awareness and found that I was not doing the very things that I had read about and I was only superficially scratching the surface. I was only skin deep and so I got into it very deeply and that became that book for The Psychology Of Winning which became an audio program first and then a book, was really a diary of what I needed to learn myself and the only regret I have Steve, is that at the time that I wrote it, OJ Simpson was running through airports for Hertz Rent-A- Car and had suffered rickets as a child and had bold legs and he became this NFL superstar and I included him in my book and I’ve been trying to remove him from the book ever since. But you can’t pick winners in all of the so called role models. He certainly isn’t a role model but so in other words by I learned these principles for me so that I would do them and I began to do them and I went from being somebody who was always late, which is perfect for my name, “Waitley,” – wait for me and so I should have changed my name to swiftly or rushly but I became Waitley but I became first to the gate Waitley. I became someone who was always on time and I did that because I am an absolute believer in the creation of habit and I’ve learned so much about good and bad habits and healthy and unhealthy and about ninety percent of our daily activities are habitual we do them autonomically without even thinking and so I’ve spent most of my life trying to help people not break habits – but you don’t break a habit. You re write it ,you overcome it, you change it but you don’t break it. You know habits are like submarines there silent and deep. They’re like comfortable beds easy to get into but difficult to get out of and habits are just this knit pattern of thought that becomes automatic after a while and so I think working with the Olympics, I was really lucky as you know, Bill Simon was president of the Olympics and he appointed be as the first chairman of Psychology for United States Olympics in 1980 and through that experience, I watch these amazing young people get into the habit of winning. And they became they did within what they were doing without and they simulated and they rehearse and they practiced, on and off the field and finally watching the skiers go through the visualization at the top of the run before they hit the first gate and watching swimmers go through the meat ,watching figure skaters backstage going to their routines and not falling during the Triple Axel. I saw all of this and I said you know in addition to being emotionally inspired there definitely is a way to do this if you can control your thinking and if you can fill your thoughts which I call “Psycho Linguistics,” because thoughts are traffic and the brain is either a cul de sac construction zone or freeway. And you can create a freeway in your brain by controlling the traffic that flows through your brain and it actually makes a new highway toward your goal is like a GPS system but instead of a goal positioning satellite or a positioning satellite, it’s a goal positioning system in your brain that you can train to have a target so specific and so emotional that your brain will allow very little distraction to get you there so fortunately through the years neuroscience has proven that positive thinking is more than just the placebo effect. It actually are creators internal pharmacy that really helps optimism become the biology of hope as well as the psychology of hope.
Steve: These are some really extraordinarily inspirational ideas and I’m just thinking I know that so many of our listeners including me and I’d expect all of them have this feeling of something special that they can do in life and then it takes going through thinking about their own unique talents in this introspection that you describe saying how do I address that and how do I concretely move forward and so, these things that you’re sharing are so important , so inspirational. I know that they’re covered in your books. As you think about this the book Psychology Of Winning, you’ve been talking about on some of the key parts that are really important for us to realize our goals.
Denis: Well that’s a very good question. I think the first one is realizing that your intrinsic worth. I think that worth internalized is better than worth externalized and I think you have to feel deserving of success before you’ll really experience it, which really means that if love is not inside of you ,then how can you give away something you don’t possess? So love must be there in the first place and I’m not talking about narcissistic self love. It’s the kind of thing that say given my parents and my background given who I am, how I look ,what age I am my ethnicity my religious beliefs ,I’m kind of glad I am me! And in fact I’d rather be me than anyone else in the world live in at any other time, in fact that’s who I am. I’m as good as the best but not necessarily better than the rest so I don’t compare myself favorably or unfavorably with other people although the Olympics do that with the standard of excellence but that’s just to be an Olympian and to compete with world class standards -doesn’t mean you’re necessarily trying to knock and beat the other person. You’re just trying to be your best against world class standards. So I think the most important thing is to believe in your potential because only then will you invest in yourself. if you don’t feel worth investing and then you won’t invest in it you’ll live your life as a spectator – happy to be in the stands and I am happy to be in the stands as well watching tremendous performances but it’s much more fun to be in the arena however small and participating. So I think intrinsic self worth, believing in your dream when that’s all you have to hang on to is the single most important quality. And then the second one is to always give more in value than you expect to receive in payment, because it seems to be that you really do have an unfailing boomerang. People always called the law of attraction or the law of cause and effect but I found when I am truly interested in helping other people genuinely not to get something for me ,but if I get out of me and into them and transmit whatever value I have in the way of service or advice, that in that way I don’t expect a return on the investment but I usually get it ten fold. So I’ve always believed that if you give more in value than you receive in payment you’ll be truly rich in every sense and then of course there is the idea of expectation, optimism, the world revolves around optimism and people who believe in solutions rather than are just complaining about the problems and we have so many critics and so many tweets and so much Twitter as so many instagrams and so much Facebook and so many selfies. You know I’d like to be unselfish in a selfie world and I’d like to instead of being skin deep, I’d like to be soul deep and I’d like to measure diversity not based on how you look on the outside but the experiences you’ve had as you’ve been growing up . In other words we all bring a diversity of experience, why do our eyes have to tell us what we should believe or why the war years and our eyes have to be the ones that are the megaphone and also that the block? So I believe that in expecting the best ,that optimism, Harvard does have a new school of placebo and they have found that even people who have after stopping the surgery if you have the sham surgery which you agree to and they just do a little incision and sew it up, the chances of your recovery and feeling good are almost as well as if you have the real surgery which shows that God has given us this incredible ability to believe in something that we really want and is valuable and gives us the pharmacological influence to do it in other words: the endorphins and the harbingers of peace and happiness. So I believe also that happiness is the decision that you make and I train the Olympians above all I’ve decided to be happy and I think happiness is a decision, not a results and if you wait for a result to make you happy, you’ll probably be for ever hung in that suspense of wondering when it’s going to happen.
Steve: Well I’ll just tell you, Denis, for all of us who are working on becoming our best, which literally creates a fulfilment of light, a happiness within us that goes out and radiates and touches everybody. These things that you’re teaching us and sharing with us today are the very things that create that light and I’ve been taking good notes today. I thank you for that and I’m always shocked at how fast time goes like we’re done.
Denis: I know we are! I spent a lot of my time talking to uber drivers and I said you know you have this incredible mechanism and they say, “You being my little GPS that I have up here on my dashboard so I can take,” I said yes first you must know where you are and then you crank in where you want to go and if you know where you are and where you want to go it’s much easier to get there because that’s called focus and specificity. And they go, wow, thanks for the info doc! Do I get to I get a tip? Anyway Steve it’s been a real thrill, a real honor for me to be with you. I just keep wanting to plant apple seeds like Johnny Appleseed and I don’t know how many of them will get in the soil and take but doesn’t matter if you just keep throwing them out – one or two and all I want to do is make a difference in one or two lives and that’s enough for me. Plant shade trees under which I myself will never sit.
Steve: Thank you. I can tell you for sure of one person and I know it’s countless people where that seed that has fallen and grown and continues to do so. So I personally thank you!
Denis: Well thanks, Steve. I hope we connect again we will. When you’re this way and I’m that way let’s really do have a reunion. That’s important – friends who haven’t seen each other but are still friends for a long time.
Stev: You bet, you can count on that. Now we can’t end this podcast without this question and the question is, if you’re giving in a parting shot to your family or your friends and brothers or sisters across the world ,what would it be it would be?
Denis: It would be that time is the only equal opportunity employer and please don’t rush to your life trying to get wealthy only to find yourself too old to do the things that you save the money to do and remember the one most important thing; the values you leave in your children are much more priceless than the valuables you leave them in your estate. My children have never thanked me for all the money that I’ve spent on them but we always talk and laugh and cry over the time we spent together. So make sure you spend time with those you love, not just tweets and that just instagrams and not just text .
Steve: Thats great advice. Denis how can people find out more about what you’re doing? How can they have access to your book , your materials or whatever?
Denis: I think you know just going to DenisWaitley.com and I have that funny one n in my nameand I what I’m trying to do is create a library and most of it free. So I’m not trying to get people to go to my website so I’ll make money off them. I’m trying to go so that they’ll be able to get NFL locker room style pep talks for free which would mean that the music the lyrics, if you will the quotes and the best of what I’ve done. I’d rather give it to them free then try to sell them something on a subscription so hopefully they’ll get more free than trying to surf around the store.
Steve: Wonderful, thank you Denis for being part of the show today. It’s been amazing!
We wish our friends that are listening today all the best as well as you continue making a huge difference in the world I’m Steve Shallenberger with becoming your best global leadership wishing you a great day.
Steve: Welcome To The Becoming Your Best Podcast. This is Steve Shallenberger your host. I’m excited to talk about the subject today. It’s how to stay motivated and 6 Key Actions that you can take to stay highly motivated. As we think about Becoming Your Best and the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders, I’ve been thinking about never giving up, that’s principle #12. Each one of the Principles alone is important but alone really, insufficient by themselves. It’s how they work together that creates a chemistry of excellence. Never give up is a decision to keep going, it is a pattern of employing the other 11 principles and in the process of working on our vision and goals, of Becoming Your Best, while experiencing success, failure, making pivots, failing again, succeeding, succeeding, failing, learning and moving forward to a great place. Never Giving Up is at the heart of success for all humanity. It is a principle, a force of human will, will power of overcoming setbacks, learning, never giving up and making progress. Sometimes spectacular progress.
The subject today is part of Never Giving Up and a vital component, even a full cousin and it is Staying Motivated to Reach Our Vision and Goals!
Whether you’re a Sales Person, CEO, Division Leader, Parent, Coach, Teacher, Professional (Doc, Dentist, Lawyer, Accountant, etc.) Student, technician, truck driver and so forth the STAKES ARE HIGH! Our level of motivation can literally determine our success! Our level of motivation is like a light burning without that radiates everywhere without.
One of our five sons is working as a Sales Rep in Chicago and it’s very interesting because he has some very clear goals, a great skill set and deciding to make a difference is a mental state and it literally drives us to a high level of achievement but it is the motivation that is the drive line that is helping Tommy be successful every single day. One of the things that Tommy has done to help reinforce this motivation is he’s chosen my wife (and I get to be the bystander to reporting each day). She is his accountability partner. He calls her every single day and reports how it’s going. This is one of the ways Tommy is able to sustain a high level of motivation and it’s paying off. He’s one of the very top in this business. Towards the end of his wonderful and amazing life, Stephen Covey and I went to lunch one day and we were talking about what were the most important things that he taught. And out of all the things that he taught, the 7 Habits and the other things, he said, these are the two: P/PC balance – Probability now and Profit Capability. The PC is the ability to produce profits over a long period of time. Our ability to balance these in a successful way are what determines our long term success. So if you focus too much on profitability this year, you can burn yourself out at the expense of your PC. If you focus too much on the PC then your P suffers this year. It’s this balance. The second of the concepts that he felt were the greatest that he taught, was that the private victory precedes the public victory. I love this concept and it is as true today as it was over his illustrious career where he touched millions throughout the world. This is what I’d like us to think about is that the private victory has a huge impact on our public victory in terms of sustaining high motivation.
So in preparation for this podcast, here at BYB, we have been doing research throughout the world on this very subject: How Do You Stay Motivated or What Discourages You or What keeps you from staying highly motivated . The findings from this research have had a huge impact for me on better understanding what people do to stay motivated or what discourages them. I appreciate the feedback from our many listeners around the world. This has been so helpful. Staying motivated is both a science and an art. I have culled from the feedback from the research on this study and developed this into 6 key actions you can take to stay motivated.
The opposite of being motivated is to be discouraged. This can vastly impact your happiness, joy and productivity, not to mention your quality of life. This is especially true is you are suffering from fiery adversity. The fact is: The STAKES ARE HIGH in our lives.
What can you do (what can I do?) to stay highly motivated? So here are the 6 things that I have called from this research and I’ll try to really touch on some of the various thoughts that have been given – I’ll weave them into the 6 thoughts as well.
- Follow your vision, goals and pre-week planning. This is huge in terms of staying highly motivated. Dr Oz recently said, “Your heart needs a reason to keep beating.” That is what we put into our vision. What is the reason that we have for living? So making it passionate, exciting and meaningful. This is the head point, the starting point, the head gates, the direction we want to move in life including love, relationships and doing great things with your talents. This REASON is articulated it in a vision and cascading now through smart annual goals and being executed pre-week planning. This is a process that inspires leadership and action. And literally as you embrace these experiences, you recognize the daily victories that you have! It’s interesting as through this study, I’ve realized that ,money as a goal is important, but it was far from the biggest factor in keeping people highly motivated. So this is an important part of our vision and goals and pre week planning to be financially reliant and ahead of the game but it’s not the most important think that keep us highly motivated. One fellow said, “Money isn’t important, but it does rank right up there with oxygen.” Well, what’s so important about pre-week planning is it helps you to put it all together. It helps you to visualize your success, the things that count most to stay highly motivated. The components of that that do help us maintain this high motivation is Exercise, meditation, doing good things, working on balance; so it’s this whole package of key things that allows us to stay at the top of our game. Some people said in the survey and in our research to make a game for achievement. So, daily execution in sales is a good example if that happens to be your business. I recall, when I was going through college, during the Summers, I was a door-to-door book salesman for the South Western Company also for Eagle Systems International. Here was the game that I made: this was Door-to-Door sales, everyone was a potential customer – we just didn’t know it until we opened the door. So everything was pretty fast hitting. The game was to give 20 demos in morning, afternoon and evening. People in the area that I worked in called me “The Running Book Salesman.” I literally run from door to door so I could achieve that goal. I did that – the result was that it would help me be the Top Sale Reps in the company. And so, these are things you can do: vision, so you really follow your vision, annual goals that are set by roles – so what are going to do in the personal aspect, family and friends, professionally and civically? This very clear focus of smart goals meaning very specific achievable, measurable, relevant to your vision and timely – they help us stay focused. And then it’s down to the implementation, pre week planning which is simply this: taking a few minutes during the weekend, 20-30 minutes to think through the lens of your roles, the key roles that you have in your life and what are the actions that matter most. And then you mesh that in to when you’re do them with your existing goals and so you set up your week so you can win and succeed. This focus really helps you control the things that you can control. It’s interesting because when you follow a focus on these things, you’re literally working on what you can control and not wasting your time or your focus to things you cannot control. This focus has a huge impact on being able to stay highly motivated. Just one quck footnote before we go on the number 2 , from the study, these are actually the things that discourage people: Not living up to my potential, not getting things done/procrastination, having negative thoughts or when things don’t pan out that’s what leads to discouraging. This next one is really interesting – no recognition, direction, or deadline. This one of no recognition from others is important. Biases, and lack of finances. So what I found is our annual goals and Pre-week planning really help with every one of those. They really help you control the things you can control and work on those type of things so you end up on the other side of the ledger.
Now, we actually listed in a graphic pie chart each of the top of these 6 things. Here is number 2.
- Belief in a higher power. This was ranked way up there in helping people remain highly motivated. And expressing gratitude and recognition of this belief in a higher power. What this does is that when people believe in a higher power, they recognize the potential they have. My friend Zig Ziglar used to say, “God don’t make no junk!” How true that is! You are special and have God-given capabilities and capacity. There is a higher purpose in life. This belief can provide enormous motivation. This belief will help you LOVE yourself and realize how good you really are. At least that’s my take on it. That’s why so many people I think rank this as such a high force or influence in their life to stay highly motivated.
- Prayer and meditation. These are major influences on staying highly motivated. This reminded me of both George Washington and Abe Lincoln. Two of the very most significant historical influences to impact on our world particularly on the United States and being key figures on setting up and establishing a government a constitution, a way of living that has influenced all of us in our modern world and billions of people. George Washington in the very depths of despair in trying to stay motivated – he needed, as the leader of this force – this continental army who were fighting for their very lives, needed to stay upbeat and motivated. Our home and others, that I’ve seen that we have this great painting by Arnold Freeberg of George Washington kneeling in prayer. There’s many accounts of this of this is where he gained his strength to stay focused and motivated. Abe Lincoln, during the battle of Geddessburg, he went to his study and knelt in prayer and asked for divine help, that they were able to be successful in the battlefield. He relates that this gave him a great sense of peace and confidence and people were marveling while many were leaving Washington during that battle of Geddesburg and the event that the confederate army would have been victorious, Abe Lincoln said, “I’m staying.” During this time, he was very motivated. This is the account that he gave. Meditation and reflecting on the things that count most are very helpful to us.
- Associate with other upbeat motivated people. Have fun. Recognize others for the good that they do. Failure to recognize others and their contribution does leads to discouragement. On both sides of this – we are going to determined to control what we can control but we can control recognizing others. So let’s associate with other people that are like minded. In this regard, I am so fortunate. I’m fortunate to have an upbeat family. My work associates are amazing, high achievers and they focus in all aspects on their lives in being upbeat and having fun. A good example is at a conference last week, a number of us executives went to. Just before the evening or the afternoon session of the conference, we went out to a Go Kart place which was not too far away. And we had a great time. We survived the Go Kart experience together. My back got slightly rearranged but we work hard and we play hard. We have upbeat language and actions and consideration and respect for each other’s. All of these things literally create a culture of high motivation. It doesn’t we don’t have challenges. It doesn’t mean we don’t have set backs and problems. How we approach it really is a big deal. So have an accountability partner on positive goals. If possible, stay away from chronically negative people.
Let’s go over these first four:
- Follow your vision, goals and pre week playing.
- Belief in a higher power – everybody isn’t going to do that in the way you do it, but that is one of the results of this survey from across the board for what people can do. If it’s helpful, it’s something you can think about.
- Prayer and Meditation and the strength, peace and depth it can give you.
- Associate with other motivated, upbeat people.
- Fill your mind with upbeat, inspiring thoughts. This is something that you can control. I like what William James wrote, “The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds as you think, so shall you be. These are things you can control for example like: Read great stuff, listen (podcasts, TED talks, motivation materials, upbeat soundtracks), Learn – literally as you learn, you increase size of hippocampus. The size of your hippocampus, it directly impacts the health of your brain, body and your life. Memorize upbeat poems. I love doing this. This does the very same thing as in filling your brain with the right kind of stuff. Share learnings and experiences with others. One of the people that I met last week in a seminar came up to me afterwards said ‘I loved being here today. I love the thought of BYB. I’ve been thinking about motivating thoughts. And I’ve created a journal where I’m writing these down. And in the morning, when I wake up, I look at the journal and it helps me continue this process. When I say fill your mind with upbeat and inspiring thoughts, I mention soundtracks, movies, whatever. I like things like “Amazing Grace,” with William Wilbur Force, Apollo 13, Rudy, Remember The Titans, The Sound Of Music, The Legend Of Bagger Vance, Rocky and so forth. These are all little things that we just keep doing little by little.
- Positive Self Talk and affirmations (include this type of language in your vision). I like what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Sow a thought and you reap an act. Sow an action and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny. And that’s what we’re talking about here. Positive self talk and affirmations. This the type of language that you include in your vision. So a good example of this one is “Today is going to be a great day.” That is an affirmation. “I do great work.” These are the type of things we can put in our vision and fill our minds. Positive Talk. The body is very obedient. The body will conform to what we ask it to do. One of the great examples of this. One of my first companies – ESI we have over 700 hundred sales reps and they would go out and of course be positive with every single client or customer. We would hold a training with all of them before the launched out to all of their assigned areas in the United States and as we worked on positive self talk and one of the things we would work on is, we would say together, three times, but they may need to say it 10 or 20 times or as many times as they were going to their areas:
“I Feel Healthy, I feel happy. I feel terrific. “ At first they may not have felt healthy, happy and terrific. They may have felt lousy and discouraged and down in the dumps. But as they said, “I Feel Healthy, I feel happy. I feel terrific,” over and over , pretty soon they found themselves feeling that way. It literally impacts the body on releasing endorphins and changing how you feel.
So those are 6 things that you can do that came from this research. I’m just going to review it one more time.
- Follow your vision, goals and pre week planning. This sets up a process that deals with so many things that take away from motivation and add to motivation and helps you do it better.
- Belief in a higher power: Each person will have to decide how you do that and what it means to you
- Prayer and meditation
- Associate with other update and motivated people: That is so fun. I’m grateful to have friends work associates and family who do that. And it’s helpful to me! I reflect upon them and feel the gratitude and appreciation I think that adds to my motivation.
- Fil your mind with upbeat, inspiring thoughts
- Positive Self-Talk: Be careful of the language going on in your own mind.
Here’s an invitation – something that may be helpful. Many people help us if we have a sample of what a vision or goals may look like. If you would like a PDF of some samples, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will just send you the Free PDFs of samples of vision and goals. Another thing that you might consider is investing in a BYB book and BYB planner. You can go to our website becomingyourbest.com and indicate that you would like to have a book and a planner and I would be happy to sign the book for you. These will help you do these 6 things we just talked about and stay focused on What Matters Most.
One other thing that you might consider is to give a gift of a BYB book and/or BYB planner to a family member or work associate. These are transformational forces that have inspired the #1 Leadership forces in your life. As you work on these 6 KEY ACTIONS which is to:
1. Follow your vision, goals and pre week planning
- Belief in a higher power
- Prayer and Meditation
- Associate with other upbeat and motivated people
- Fill your mind with upbeat and positive thoughts
- Positive Self Talk.
These things will help you Stay Motivated: You WILL STAY HIGHLY MOTIVATED and it will affect your happiness, joy and productivity and that of everyone around you.
We are wishing you all the best as you make a difference in the world for good every day.
This is Steve Shallenberger, with BYBGL, wishing you a great, safe day.
Steve: Welcome to all of our podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today, this is Steve Shallenberger – your host with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership and we have an exciting and vital subject that we’re talking about today that I can best introduced by a poem that I heard many years ago. It’s been one of my favorite poems. I’d like to share it with you. I’ve actually committed it to memory and it’s been a powerful and positive influence my life. Here’s how it goes; maybe you’ve heard it before.
I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you upward, onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might as well just turn over to me for I will do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed, but you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, then after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas of all failures as well. Those who were great, I have made great and those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine though I work with the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human. You may run me for a profit, or run me for ruin, it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am habit.
I love it! What a powerful force that habit is in our lives and we are not necessarily perfect, but by being persistent, continuing to try over years and over decades of making mistakes, of blowing it, of continually trying the habit becomes perfected in our lives and you are the recipient of the blessings that good habits bring into your life. The tremendous power that comes into your life as you continue to work on mastering the twelve principles of highly successful leaders of Becoming Your Best and the Transformation Challenge will bless you for the rest of your life. And as we think about the subject of habits, it’s really important to think about, well how do we really put the right habits in our life? And as we reflect on our life, how do we instil those things that bring us the greatest happiness, health, longevity and productivity in the workplace where we can be among the very best. Where we can really make a difference – that is the pursuit that we have. I like what Aristotle said, “Excellence is an art won by training and habitualization. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but rather have those because we have acted rightly. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” I love that that statement made so many thousands of years ago. So, how do you form a habit? And what goes into it?
So today, in this podcast I would like to recommend four things that we can do to help us form the right habits. Now first of all, number one is to know the right things to do. What are the right habits that we want to build into our life? Now I’ve already mentioned that the Twelve Principles of Highly Successful Leaders is a good start. It is built on decades of research of the things that make a difference, of the things that create happiness, of the things that create excellence, that helps set apart those high producing in individuals teams and leaders from everybody else. So we’ve already done a lot of the work and that’s a big umbrella. And what’s interesting is the more you master those, research those, the higher you climb the summit, the more that you see and understand and the more glorious they become in terms of the good that they do. But one of the biggest challenges is we don’t know what we don’t know. And one of the best solutions to solving that problem is humility and a desire to learn. In other words, how do we see what we don’t see today. How do we make that decision of what habits we ought to be sowing into our life and which ones we ought to be rooting out. So when we have this spirit of ‘I need to understand or ‘I really don’t understand at all, it is what allows us to have the desire to surge forward. In other words, I need to see things more clearly. My happiness and success in the future, my ability to make a difference depends upon it. I need to gain new skills so reading, listening, attending conferences, having experiences with others all give of us a greater vision to be able to see and help us through that refining process. I’ll never forget this great comment by my friend Charlie Jones he shared thirty five years ago, “You will be the same person you are today in five years except for two things; the people that you meet and the books that you read,” and indeed those are the things that help us get to a better place. Now there are couple components here that are really important. I talked about sowing habits, knowing the right things to sow in our life and continue to work on but it’s also rooting out, its weeding out, pulling out the habits that don’t serve us well. Then we are the makers of our future. I liked what Miguel de Unamuno said in his work The Tragic Sense of Life. He said, “To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.” I’m going to repeat that. That is one profound quote. “To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.” In other words we want to be discerning about those forces that direct our life. And so we want to do away with the bad habits and build upon a sure foundation of good habits. So for example, I recently did, this is the example of going deeper on the good habits and taking out the bad habits. I recently did a podcast on Principle 11 of the 12 Principles which is: Live in peace and balance. It’s doing those things that bring goodness in our life that allow us as we move through the journey to be highly productive at a high level but do it at a rate that sustainable, that’s happy, that brings us peace and balance in life doing the right things and so I shared in that podcast that I’d had some recent experiences in the last 60 days on health and longevity. And also it reminded me at the same time of an experience I had 35 years ago. This involves four doctors, Dr Jaffe; the one I met 35 years ago, Dr Mao, these last three in the last 60 days – tremendous experience, Dr Oz and Dr Fotuhi. These revealed to me a whole new area of perspective and understanding that will help me have greater fitness, health, longevity and vitality which in turn then provide me with a greater peace and balance. So this is an example of taking these habits that we’re developing and working on them so they become a vital part of our life, but they’re the right things. We root out the things that don’t work, the things that may actually put our health at risk. We take these things out and we put the others back in, so this is an example of this. So number one is know the right things. Number two is to do the right things and how do you do the right things? In other words once you know all the right things, how do you take these and make them part of your life? Well this is where having a clear and inspiring vision, clear and motivating annual goals that are smart goals; that are annual goals, in other words it’s a repeatable process, with accountability and then finally the execution piece where the rubber meets the road with pre-week planning. These three powerful forces help us do the right things. This is where we repeatedly do something that creates this excellence in our life, so for example let’s take a part of our vision, and you can do this, a good way to think about your vision is the different major roles of your life; so personal, your health, your finances, your mental part, spirituality. Another would be your relationships with your partner, your spouse, your family, with your teams, another professional, these are examples. What is your vision look like of what you’re going to do, that defines your direction. Well, under personal, where I’ve just shared about this experience with these Docs I’m thinking a lot more about well how do I have health and longevity? So part of my vision is to be fit and healthy! It is also to have a healthy diet. So this is the head water if you will. These are the seeds of ideas and thoughts we sow in our mind. Number 2 then, what are my annual goals? So, some of my annual goals would be to exercise a 1,000 miles during the year. Another is to do 7,500 sit ups and push ups. Another is to weigh in the range of 175. Now I am not in that range, I’m a little above that right now but that is the goal, that’s what I’m working on. And finally then, pre-week planning where we take a few minutes during the week and we get set for a great week by thinking about these very same the lense of these very same roles and what actions will I take this week that are in harmony with my vision goals and how I want to live. This is the execution piece so every single day it’s already planned out in a very busy schedule that we all have. So this is how you make it part of your DNA, how you make it part of every cell. You’ve heard us mention this that we either live a life by design or you will live a life by default. This is how we create the life that we hope to live. I love this quote by Colin Powell:
“If you were going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception- it is a prevailing attitude.”
And so, as we set up our vision, goals and the implementation piece, pre-week planning, it literally is this prevailing attitude. So there’s two points right there; number one, is to know all the right things to sow into our life. One of the things we hope to become our habits. Number two is do the right things and this is how they start becoming habits and the number three, is to never give up trying to do the right things. In other words, just keep on trying! Like I’m telling you, I don’t know what your experience is, but as I’m focused on my vision and annual goals and particularly the pre-week planning part, I blow it regularly! Like all the time! Like every week! For example, my pre-week planning, I put down under my personal role; these are some of the acts: no sweets, no dessert, so have a healthy diet right? I also put specifically exercise 5 or 6 times depending on the week. It might have to do with kindness or writing three thank you notes and so then I put it down on when I will do it on a stand. I sketch out my week and I see it – I mentally create this week which is the prelude to the physical reality. So many times I do these things that I’ve set up, but most weeks I miss an exercise to two, or I eat a cookie or maybe six of them, but the vast majority of time, I do most of the things on what matters most on my pre week planning. So don’t be hard on yourself because the fact is if you’re forming habits of doing the right things, the vast majority of time they become habits. And you’re getting better and better by and by and with getting better, you are becoming your best. I love the Spanish proverb:
“Habits are at first cobwebs, and then cables,” and this is how they become. I am better today really I think, then at any time in my life overall. I may not be at the peak of my physical vitality, but I feel that way. I feel is as good as I’ve ever felt and it’s not just been for months has been for years and it’s ever improving. But in perfect, but it’s a trend line of moving upward. I appreciate what Thomas Edison said when he was interviewed by the press one time. They asked them “How many times have you failed while inventing the light bulb?” And he said, “I really haven’t failed at all” is his response, “But I can tell you ten thousand ways the light bulb won’t work.”
In other words, it’s this process before you finally arrive at the glory of where it is sustainable and where these habits are really helping your life become much more automated, where you don’t have to think about your exercise or fitness because it’s something you do. You don’t have to worry about it’s not as big an issue of working on a healthy diet because it’s what you do. Or being patient with another person because you finally gone through the refiner’s fire and you’ve worked on it so much that you’re in a better place. That’s number three.
- Know all the right things to do.
- Do the right things
- Never give up. Keep trying.
- I’d like to recommend that I think is something that may be of immense help for you and that is shared the things that you want to do with an accountability partner.
In our seminars we invite people at the end of the seminar to think about something they’d like to work on, that would have a significant impact for good on their lives, that we reviewed that particular day and so that is if it were part of your life that you would be happier, healthier, more productive. Doing the things that you want and then set a plan to work on it and then team up with an accountability partner right then, right in the room. Somebody next to you or somebody you been sharing with throughout the day. And then get it on your calendars that you’re going to report in 30 days on how things have gone. Now this is an extremely powerful experience. I realize that most of us do not do this regularly in our lives. Would that be right? Do you have somebody that you set a specific thing and say okay let’s set a date on our calendar in thirty days, let’s report to each other how about you? Well I know that is something that I haven’t always done. It’s not something that I see, but when this happens, this is a game changer. It really creates a fun accountability. So about three or four months ago, I decided to go to a seminar that Rob, my son, who’s the CEO Becoming Your Best, was giving with outstanding financial institution – one of our great clients that we’re fortunate to be able to work with. In the back, while I was observing, one of the individuals there, one of the key executives in the human resource group, didn’t have somebody to share their ideas and assignments with during the day and so we were working together. But at the end of the day we needed, she needed, I was the observer an accountability partner and so I volunteered, there I was. It was fabulous! We both decided something that based on these wonderful inspiring principles that we’ve been talking about that we wanted it become habit in our life, second nature part of our DNA. So we each picked something that was related to them that would be of great help to us. We set a date 30 days later and then I called Shelly and we had a great accountability visit. I’ve got to tell you was an enormous help for me and I think Shelley said the same thing for her – that was very helpful. This is how we can help one another in the process. So these four things will help us develop the type of habits that we want and to root out the type of habits that aren’t helpful.
So if you’re doing something, for example you have an addiction, that you just know isn’t helpful this is a way forward and so as we think about this I like this great quote by Samuel Johnson:
“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
And so let us be determined and if we see a habit that is hurting us, that we will have the courage and the fortitude, the endurance to break the habit. That we will break that chain and we will replace it with things that will become just a strong in our life and you will reap the happiness and joy and peace that comes along with it. I love this particular thought and it is at the very basis of Becoming Your Best.
It is this: The best races not been run, and the best song is not been sung, and the grandest deeds have not been done. The best lies in front of us the very best of life and as we go through this process, you become a light to everybody else in your life. You help change your community, those around you, by the very virtue of your influence for good. It helps us create a better world. It’s been great visiting today about this powerful force in our lives. Remember every single day you are making a difference. That is why it is such an honor to be able to work together with you wish you all the best in this course. May you have a great day. This is Steve Shallenberger with Becoming Your Best Global Leadership.
Steve: Welcome to all, our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, where ever you might be in the world today. This is your host Steve Shallenberger and we have a terrific guest. I’ve been looking forward to this visit and interview. He’s a very talented individual, great background in leadership and innovation. Welcome David Burkus!
David: Oh, thank you so much for having me and and thanks for that awesome plug. It’s all down hill from here, thank you!
Steve: We’re gonna have a great time and the subject we’re going to talk about I think is going to be useful, applicable, to really every single one of our listeners us. So, before we get started let’s just talk a little about – I’d like to share with you a little about David’s background. He is a best-selling author, a sought after speaker, an associate professor of leadership and innovation at Oral Roberts University. His forthcoming book; Friend of a Friend offers readers a new perspective on how to grow their networks and build key connections, and this is one that’s based on the science of human behavior not just wrote networking advice. He’s delivered keynotes to leaders of Fortune 500 companies and the future leaders the United States Naval Academy his Ted talk has been viewed by over 1.8 million different listeners and he is a regular contributor to one of my favourite magazines The Harvard Business Review. So, David here we go! Shall we get launched?
David: Yeah, yeah, thank you! I’m excited. Thanks for having me on.
Steve: Ok, well if you don’t mind, tell our listeners about your background and especially including any key turning points in your life that’s had a significant impact on you and what you’ve ended up doing. What’s your story?
David: Yeah, yeah, I mean it depends on how far you want to go.
Steve: Back to 1812.
David: I know right? Yeah, it’s one of those things where you don’t realize what you’re turning points were until years and years later right. So, the story I usually start with now because it made me realize a lot of the importance of the topics that we’re talking about was when I was in high school I transferred schools in the middle of high school and one of the things that got messed up was that the two different schools used two different sort of progressions for how you’re supposed to do your math classes. So I arrived in a geometry class having never taken algebra and the teacher was going over something on the board. She did that thing where you can move a number from one side of the equation the other. It’s been so long since I’ve done a number that I don’t remember what that’s called. But I remembered looking at that and going, “I don’t know how she just did?” That I’m clearly missing something. So I went up to her afterwards and I basically explained that problem and she said, “Okay, we have two options. You can basically transfer to the class were supposed to have your freshman year and you’ll be behind a year or I also teach that class I can give you the text book you can work on it on your own and then come meet with me when you have questions and what have you.” And so I did that. I taught myself algebra. When I finally took algebra, algebra two – I got a ninety three, so I think I taught myself pretty well! But the big lesson I learned from that is that you can do anything you need to do in your life if you find the right people to help you, right? And that and that’s why I say was sort of it’s a weird story from my high school life but it’s been a a lesson. It took me a long time to realize that I learned early on and benefited from. So everything else that I’ve done in my life; from being able to write books, hosting a podcast, for a time travelling around speaking, becoming a professor – everything else that I’ve done in my life has been because I decided, “Okay this is what I want to do now. Who the people in need on my team to help me?” And that I mean logically leads to a book like this one A Friend of a Friend which is basically about that idea. I took a much different approach of not just networking to add collections to my to my network per se, I took the approach that there’s this giant network out there and what I need to do to accomplish the things that I want to do is figure out how I navigate to the people that can help me.
Steve: Wow, that is so valuable and let’s just talk about networking. So, you’ve already alluded to the impact that networking can have on our lives and I think if anyone of us that’s listening today, really reflect upon our lives and things that we’ve accomplished especially things that we’re proud of. Most often we can trace it back to somebody that’s had a huge influence, somebody that’s given us a leg up. Sometimes it might just be an introduction, others might be a long term relationship and that’s open many, many doors. So, why from your point of view, is networking so important and what are the different dimensions of networking?
David: Yeah, so you already hit at some of it right there. Fundamentally when we think of networks and connections and that sort of thing we think of two different reasons why it’s so important. The first is the one most people think of and it is true but it’s the your network is your net worth through the average of the five people you meet etcetera etcetera sort of advice and they really are studies that show that paying attention to, in the sociologist lingo they call it, “Social capital.” Paying attention to the sort of the value that’s in your connections, the value you provide to them and that that they provide to you and people who learn how to do that especially learn how to do that early on have better more fulfilling careers that make more money, they’re more likely to go into leadership roles – all of those sort of things. So that’s what we normally think of. The thing is I think is interesting is you know you said, “We all have an example of that kind of one person,” – here’s a really interesting thing I found from the research. It turns out that when it comes to influence; the people who are influencing your life it’s not just your friends; This is why the books called “Friend of a Friend.” It’s not just the people that are in your life, in your network now. It’s also the people that are one and two degrees of separation out from you. So in everything from happiness, to smoking rates, to obesity; we see this thing called the 3 degrees of influence. Your friend of a friend of a friend – even if you’ve never met them has a statistically significant impact on a lot of the dimensions of your life. Which means that it really it behoves everyone to pay attention not just the people that are closest to, but kind of the entire network that’s around them because it’s influencing you even if it’s just and subtle unnoticeable ways. It’s influencing you way more than you know.
Steve: A friend of a friend of a friend?
David: Yeah, so the study I like to quote the most often showed that your friend of a friend of a friend so 2 degrees of separation out even if you’ve never met them has a 6% chance of increasing or decreasing your happiness. And I know 6% doesn’t sound like much but when you look at the relationship between money and happiness and if I gave you a $10,000 raise that would only increase your happiness about 2%. So statistically, I can’t go and say, “Okay so a good friend of a friend a friend is worth $30,000 right? 2% times 3 – I can’t do that because the way the statistics and that sort of stuff work but it’s interesting to me that it does strongly signal that who’s in your network and who is in their network – the people that a friend of a friend of a friend are almost more important to your life satisfaction than how much money you make. And that is an incredibly compelling reason to pay attention to people who are around you.
Steve: That’s great. Well that’s a big deal so as we’re sitting here today thinking about our futures, our network quote unquote is “gonna have a big influence on our success, our health, our happiness,” is that what you’re saying?
David: Yeah, no absolutely. More so than we know. You know, there’s that old old old phrase, “you’re the average of the five people you interact with the most? Well that that is true, but the other truth is that sort of the 500 people that are around you are also having a subtle influence on you that it’s important to pay attention to.
Steve: No, good thought that and just to take that a little further. So many of our listeners are really extraordinary people. These are people that are really trying to make a difference and they are making a difference and so one of the things you’re saying David is as we’re mindful about the people in our lives and that we can actually do some things that impact, that integrate well, in a great way, also our influence is going to touch others. So ought to really be thoughtful about this right?
David: Oh, you’re exactly right! Right, so you are, yeah that friend of a friend of a friend can influence you but you were also that friend of a friend of a friend for a lot of other people, right? So how are you doing ,what are you doing with the norms that you’re broadcasting? Is your disposition more happy and optimistic, focused or is it constantly sort of critical and negative because you’re having a way bigger impact than you think! You know there’s that other sort of old phrase “You don’t need a title to be a leader?” You don’t need to be hugely popular to have influence. You already have influence in more powerful ways than you know.
Steve: Yeah, great. So what’s your recommendation to our listeners, David on how to develop an effective network in their lives, especially in the context that you’re talking about?
David: Yeah, so the big idea in the book is that we kind of need to redefine what it is when we say networking. Most people have this mental model that networking is about finding ways to meet strangers and turn them into contacts, right? So for most people when I say like your network – they think about the number of connections they have on LinkedIn, the number email addresses in their address boo, or if their old school you know they think about health take their rolodex is right? In the end the truth is we need a different mental model. The truth is we all exist inside of a network 7.4 billion people strong and counting and then that network has little clusters, the niches, in there and you have a more sort of immediate network around you. When I say your network, I really mean the network that you already exist in and the best approach is to figure out how to navigate that network and what’s missing for rather than just run up new contacts and I’ll give you a great example of this. Most of us ignore what often referred to as sort of the hidden network. Because if your goal is just to run up to the count, to add as many new people to your network as you can, then you miss what sociologists call “weakened dormant ties.” These are people that you already know but you’re not that close to or you don’t talk to all that often and the studies show that these people are actually more likely to give you new and helpful advice than the people that are close to you for precisely for the reason that they don’t think like you so having exposure to them is giving you exposure to information that you don’t think. And then the other thing we do is we might occasionally ask people for an introduction to a specific person but we we’ve fallen out of the habit of exploring who is that one degree of separation out from us. Who do our friends know that might be useful to get in contact with. Because you don’t ask for introduction, to be constantly sort of searching the fringes of your network to see who’s out there that might one day you would be able to provide value to where they could provide value to you. So I call this in that the you know the sub title we use the term “The hidden network.” I call that kind of the hidden network because it’s the part that most of us ignore. We have a close circle of friends and then we run off to go try and grow our network by meeting total strangers and we ignore the people that we know but we’re not paying enough attention to, or we ignore the people that are friends know that could be useful to us or that we could be useful to.
Steve: Yeah, well that’s really great and I’m not sure how to ask this next question. You might even be able to help me form the question but we’re talking about a network and you’re talking about a difference between something that is just a checklist. This thing out there that may or may not be helpful is a group of friends. I’m not sure if I’m even getting that right but it’s a whole different quality. You’re talking about a network of relationships of friends of people where you have a vested interest with one another. So is that what you’re trying to say in this?
David: No, that’s exactly right. I’m talking about, I like to call it sometimes being a good human being, right. Which we often forget to do in the context of a professional network, right? We do these things with our friends – like when you meet a personal contact, you look for multiple different ways to connect with them you look for who you might have in common, you look for all of these things to get a feel for how your friends connect to each other and then we flip and we switch to the domain of our sort of professional life whether it’s a company we work for company were starting with were looking for a job etcetera, we don’t do that sort of information rich approach like you said, we just try and run through the checklist to run up the count on how many connections we have. We ignore a lot of the value that we know exists because in our personal life, in our personal network we’ve seen it and we don’t do it when we move over the professional side.
Steve: Yeah well thanks for pushing us a little further along this line because, really it is one thing to be thoughtful, I mean this is one of the purposes life when it’s all said and done you look back and say well I’ve got my family and friends and these are among the things that count most to me and maybe part of what you’re saying is let’s look at these relationships that we have and enrich them and realize there’s also something beyond those relationships we ought to be thinking about.
David: Yeah, that’s exactly right and you know often like we tend to put people into buckets, right? We tend to have our work contacts in our personal friends but you know the people that I’ve seen that are the most successful are the people that have merged those two right? So I mean families usually important some people are lucky enough to work with their sort of whole family but a lot of people end up you know over the course of their career; the most successful people the ones who the people they work with all their friends not in a weird sort of burn out: “I have no personal life way” but just in a way that they realize that providing value to those relationships, growing sort of the depth of those relationship, making work friends into real friends are making real friends and work friends provides a more enjoyable career and a better life.
Steve: Ok, that’s good stuff. Now I hope David doesn’t mind. I had a pre peak at his upcoming book A Friend of A Friend. I’m just going to read off some of these chapters for our listeners and then as we connect the dots here, perhaps you can just, I’m gonna ask you another question as we think about these. So here are some of the chapters Find strength in weak ties that’s interesting I can’t wait to hear about that see your whole network and now we see that in a different context is just not this cold thing it’s a deep meaningful living thing. Become a broker and feel structural holes, seek out silos, oh yeah, build teams from all over your network become a super connector. Man this this is good stuff. And it goes on skip mixers, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about that and then build stronger ties through multiplexity. So, here’s a question, what have you found to be the best way to approach developing a meaningful network of friends and friends, okay.
David: Ok, so the strongest reaction I gathered from you is on that skip network mixers thing, so let’s start there shall we? So you again we go with this mental model of. If the goal is to just run up the number of connections you have, you’re gonna have a different strategy than if your goal is to see the entire network that you exist in and respond accordingly if your goal is to run up the count than what you’ve inevitably been invited to one of these networking mixers right the meetups where everybody kind of goes around the room and says when they are what they do and then it sort of like a speed dating for professionals thing where you’re trying to find a useful connection to each other inside a like you know sixty seconds. Of course everybody finds these little awkward. Everybody doesn’t get the connections that, most people don’t get the connections that they need. And then they walk away thinking “Oh I’m just so bad at this. I’m bad at networking blah blah blah,” The truth is it’s not actually it’s not you, it’s the event. The research is is strongly indicative that when the goal and the sole goal of an event is just to meet new people , we default to our comfort zone ,we default to the things that we’re used to. We end up talking to the two or three people we already know for most of the time. If we do talk to new people wind up talking to people who look like us, act like us, work in the same industry, etc we don’t spend enough time with the brand new connections especially the ones that are more diverse, very different than us right so it’s not you, I mean it is, because we all have this default, but it’s not used in particular it that these meetings fundamentally are kind of flawed. What was a research suggests is that if you participate in what one sociologist calls shared activities – these are these are meetings where the goal is to pursue something bigger than yourself. So this could be everything from you know working for a non profit board, this could be pick up softball leagues, this could be a hobby, this is anything where everyone’s focused on something other than meeting new people, something that they can’t do by themselves and in the process of focusing on that other, you end up looking to the left and to the right and finding people who are more different than you, finding people who are not people you already knew , and you end up building a deeper relationship with them because you’re focused on something else and the relationships almost happened by accident instead of being focused on just meeting new people and defaulting to your comfort zone.
Steve: Now what a great perspective and description. That may be why there are many people that dread going to a mixer.
David: If that’s you, then you have my permission to never go to one ever again. As long as you spend that time looking for shared activities. What is the local trade association I can jump in with? What is the charity that I can help volunteer for? What is the the sports that I can pick up and do as a team? You know whatever it is. You reinvest that time in a shared activity, you’re gonna have a way better return on investment then going to that networking mixer and feeling awkward for sixty minutes until you figure out how to leave unnoticed.
Steve: Ok, that’s great. Now, are there any watch out for our listeners to be aware of when their strengthening and developing this type of network?
David: Yes, so the biggest watch out is for this is, in the book we talk about the sociological principle called “Homophily,” and I mean it translates from the Greek word, “ love of same” but the interesting thing from a network science perspective is that the primary driver for why our networks aren’t as diverse and full of people different than us as they should be isn’t that we’re all you know we were all just bigots and we want to only know people that are like us. it’s actually kind of a network effect. if you are not paying deliberate attention to your network, what happens over time is you tend to cluster near people who were similar to you. They may look like you, they talk like you, they have the same job as you, there in the same stage of life is you; all of those sort of things and then what happens is that when you get introduced to new people – those introductions come through people who look and act and think like you and some of those new people you’re being introduced to you are more likely to look and think and act like you. So, the homophily thing is actually a network of fact and it takes deliberate action to break out of that. Shared activities is one really good way to do it. You can’t just rely on sort of defaulting to meeting new people through your network. You have to be deliberate about who you’re asking for introductions to but also where you’re going to meet new people so that you’re not meeting more people who look and act and think like you. My favorite term describe these people by the way, the sociologist Ronald Bert uses the term redundancy which is great because it’s not that mean but it is a little mean to show you that if somebody thinks exactly like you then they’re kind of redundant to your life and then there might be a wonderful friend but when you really need to make a tough decision you don’t need redundant connections you need connections or provide you more in diverse information.
Steve: Such a thoughtful approach as you’re really thinking about your future. You know we have one really one shot at this and fortunately we have redoes if we blow it, but one life and so is your thinking about this looking for in the future, I think what David is saying to us what he’s teaching us today is to invite diversity into our life. What are areas that we need to grow in? What are areas that would make us more complete? Open more doors? Help us have a greater impact for good?
David: Yeah, that’s exactly right and one of the questions that I like to ask on a regular basis is the question, “who do you know in blank,” with blank being kind of whatever sector I need to know more people in. So this can be in geography, who you know in Cleveland, it can be an industry that I don’t have a lot of contacts in, it can be sort of an ideological group, right who do you know that votes this certain way. It can be whatever it is we need, instead of just asking our network who should I meet? It can be a person who is deliberate about asking what type of person you’re seeking out and then ask the people around you who you know that in that kind of community which is going to be a stretch for them because if they’re too much like you they’re gonna have to stretch as much as you would have to stretch but you get a better answer because you’re asking specifically, “I’m looking for more people” in in sort of this category because I don’t have enough of those people in my life.
Steve: That’s terrific. Well, I’m always amazed at how fast time goes David. Here we are, we’re done like, so it before we end up, do you have any final tips for our listeners keep in mind is they’re working on this kind of a networking, so that they can get it right?
David: Yeah so the “who you know in blank” question is one of my big tips. The other one is to spend more time re engaging with those weakened dormant ties. You know a lot of people that you don’t interact with on a regular basis because the busyness of life happens the business of your work happens and you fall out of favour with them, particularly in a work context; former colleagues people who either at a company that you left or part of a business that you started and then left or whatever it is or, who they left right ;these people that you used to work with but haven’t talked to in two or three years – they’re incredibly valuable connections to have for new information and don’t wait to you need it. Start warming up those contacts now and making a point to regularly check in with those people now and it’s finding ways to provide value to them now so that when you need more access to different information or you need help from further out in your network it’s much easier to get in contact with those people.
Steve: Ok, good that’s great advice. In other words, part of what brought you together or something perhaps special – a work, a relationship but you definitely have a contact in one of the words I wanted to pull out there that you said, “What value can you give to them?” Did I hear you say that? Like, that’s a big deal.
David: No, it’s a huge deal. I mean so that my favorite term to describe sort of networks etc, is that term social capital. It’s kind of weird because it implies that like okay there’s value in relationships and you have a tendency to get into instrumental about it, but when you think about any kind of capital, it follows the investment principle right? The more value you put into it over time, the more it’s worth. You don’t you don’t just start an IRA and then make a million dollar withdrawal from it if you didn’t put all that money in and allow it to grow over time. You can’t do that. And your network works the same way. The more social capital you build over time, the more that will be there now. even if you never withdraw it then you then you’re what I like to call adjusted genuinely awesome human being but it’s also comforting to know that it’s there when you need it , if you’re taking care to provide value to the network that’s around you over time .
Steve: Well this is been great, this been great today. So how can people learn more about what you’re doing David?
David: Yeah, so I mean , the book is A friend of a friend – it’s available in every good bookstore if a bookstore doesn’t have it then it’s not a good bookstore let me know how I’ll convert them. Probably the best place to find me – I’m really really unique last name Burkus right so davidburkus.com is probably the best place to keep in touch and really, like if you’re if you’re all of you listen all the way to this time did fly but you are part of that sort of end of the podcast club, that could actually stay and pay attention the whole time and hopefully that means he really enjoyed it so if you did please go to davidburkus.com, there’s a bunch of different ways from there that you can contact me keep this conversation going because I would love to hear what resonated with you and how you’re putting these ideas into practice.
Steve: Well, this is how people become their best. They work on things like this. They gain new ideas new thoughts they develop themselves so they can be one of those contributors and relationships all great ideas, David!
David: Thank you, thank you so much for having me you!
Steve: Thanks, David Burkus for being part of this podcast show today and what a great and productive visit this is been and we wish each of you that are making a difference in the world the very best as you go about making that difference and to all of our listeners never forget that as we do these things we become our best to become a light a light that really creates an influences these type of relationships networks we have in and when we give it also comes back in a big way I’m Steve Shallenberger with becoming your best global leadership wishing you a great day thank you for listening
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