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  • Bob Burg

“[Burg] has demonstrated that adding value to people's lives is the way to climb the ladder of financial success.”

~ Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame Quarterback and Founder/CEO GoSmallBiz.com

How to Remember What You… Didn’t Say

December 21st, 2014 by Bob Burg

Certainty - How to Remember What You... Didn't SayThe long-running local children’s show featured a man with a genial manner and entertaining style. He was truly one of the most beloved area personalities and hero of many a young’un, including me.

So, it surprised me when — in my teens — talking with someone who’d been an audience member years earlier, he said he didn’t like him. Why? Because, according to this person, he’d yelled at the kids to “shut up!” as a commercial break was ending and they were about to come back live.

Years later I got to know this man, both through working with his production company on a project and…while dating his daughter.

In my mind there was no way this gentle man, this genuinely kind human being, would’ve told a bunch of young audience members to “shut up!” It just seemed totally out of character for this person I’d gotten to know.

So, I asked him about it. As hoped, he assured me he did not say that. He did remember the incident because it had been the only time in all those many years he’d ever had to even slightly raise his voice to his audience at all. The children were very noisy as the show was about to come back live and — as much as the producers had tried — they couldn’t get the kids to stop.

With just seconds left before air time he — in his naturally deep voice — simply said, “Kids, quiet down!” and that was that. Silence. And just in time. It probably surprised them that that he even stepped in at all since that was the job of the producers.

But, back to the exact words. I mean, it was a long time ago. Could he possibly have said it and just not remembered?

“No, Bob. It’s not possible. And, you know how I know it’s not possible?”

“How?”

“Because it’s a word I never say. It was not allowed in my home growing up? And, we didn’t allow it in this home as our daughter was growing up. It’s simply not something I would ever, ever say.” (As a side note, same in the Burg home… thanks Mom and Dad.)

What a great lesson!

Have you ever said things to some people, or in certain contexts, that you just “know” you’d never say to other people or in other contexts?

Well, it’s not really so. If you would ever say something to someone in any situation, there is absolutely a great chance you would say it mistakenly to someone else or in some other situation. Even though you don’t think you would.

The only way you can ensure never doing so is if the word or expression itself is not part of your vocabulary.

If you would absolutely never say it, then you can indeed be sure and remember that you didn’t say it.

Otherwise…you might have.

What words or expressions have you consciously chosen to never say…ever!?

My Hypocritical Judgement

December 14th, 2014 by Bob Burg

My Hypocritical Judgement - Bob BurgThe other day, I witnessed a young man say something insulting and hurtful to the person he was speaking with.

I’m almost 100 percent certain he didn’t mean for it to come across the way it did…mainly because his comment appeared to have come from a total lack of any forethought whatsoever. It was thought-less of him to say.

And, I felt myself judging him. I literally (not figuratively, literally) said to myself, “What a stupid thing of him to say!”

Then, out of nowhere, some thoughts began to flood my mind. They were vivid memories of times from as far back as my boyhood to as recently as…well, much too recently, when I said or did something just as unthinkingly or maybe even just as hurtful. Perhaps the only difference is that while I’m still ashamed and embarrassed* by the realization of the hurt I caused, I don’t believe the young man is yet aware of his.

I do know that I immediately stopped judging him.

This does not mean that what he said was any less wrong or that he is any less responsible for his words and actions. Or, that I am any less responsible for mine. It just means that it’s part of the human condition that we probably all participate in at one time or another.

While we can learn from everyone (even by noticing their mistakes) we probably don’t need to judge them as much as we need to be consciously aware of what we ourselves say and do.

—–

* Yes, I realize it does no good to continue to feel ashamed and embarrassed. We all have our mishegas to work through.

 

Curing The Leadership Crisis

December 11th, 2014 by Bob Burg

John Allison: The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market CureWould the principles that make one an effective, successful and happy individual create those same results for a company, and for society as a whole? In this absolutely terrific book on leadership, the author says that yes, indeed they would.

The following is from John A. Allison’s introduction to his recently-released, The Leadership Crisis And The Free Market Cure:

“{T}here is a set of ethical principles that is consistent with the laws of nature and the nature of humans that is the foundation for individual success and happiness. These same principles are applicable to organizations and to society.”

“The ultimate goal in life is to achieve happiness {in terms of} a life well- lived.” … “In this overall context, this is a book about leadership in the pursuit of happiness, at the individual, organization, and societal level.

“The foundation for this concept is self-leadership, which is essential for organizational leadership. Most failures of leadership are failures of self-leadership. And, most organizational failures are caused by failed leadership.”

It’s safe to say that Mr. Allison knows from whence he speaks. The prestigious Harvard Business Review named him one of the decades top 100 most successful CEOs.

More importantly, for 20 years he served as Chairman and CEO of BB&T, one of the largest financial institutions in America, growing the bank from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets during his tenure. And, they were hugely successful during a time when many banks failed spectacularly.

But, perhaps the banks’ huge profits came as a result of cronyism and sub-prime loans?

Actually, no. BB&T was one of the few banks that did not involve itself in sub-prime lending, writing only conventional mortgages. Mr. Allison was very outspoken against sub-prime lending, as well as cronyism in all its forms, including that between Washington, D.C. and many of the major banks.

When the bubble burst and banks were going under, he and his bank were left standing tall; not only in reputation…but in profitability, as well.

How Was This accomplished? Through rational, long-term thinking combined with a desire to provide exceptional value to customers, employees and shareholders alike.

And…by acting from a base of uncompromising values.

Now CEO of the highly-regarded libertarian think tank, Cato Institute, Allison approaches life and leadership from a very practical, logical, and rational viewpoint. He also approaches his relationships with employees and customers with an extremely benevolent, win/win mindset (as he referred to it, “getting better together”) always at the forefront.

Like the vast majority of ultra-successful people I’ve known and in this case, studied (I’ve been a fan for quite a while), he understands that happiness is the ultimate goal; that financial success is just one aspect of overall success and happiness. And, that all leadership begins with self-leadership; mastering ourselves and our character traits.

Two Distinct, But Integrated Parts

Part One, “Values in the Pursuit of Happiness” includes a chapter on each value that he deems vital and necessary to one’s successful pursuit of happiness. They were also the principles he used to lead at the bank.

They include being Reality Grounded, Reason (Objectivity), Independent Thinking, Productivity (Profitability), Honesty, Integrity, Justice, Pride, Self-Esteem (Self-Motivation) and Teamwork (Mutual Supportiveness).

According to the author, “Not only are these values not contradictory but they are integrated. Failure to execute on one value will make it impossible for you to execute on another value.”

Part Two, “Leading for Personal, Organization, and Societal Greatness” is really a Masters Degree in business leadership. That it’s told from the personal experiences of a man who has been there, done that very successfully, and is willing to share exactly how, is truly a gift. Absolutely fascinating and enlightening.

While again, logic and reason are very important to the author, his writing is warm and thoughtful, and he certainly understands the dynamics of emotion and human nature; that most people make decisions based on their emotions being in control. Yet, as he says, “Emotions are not a valid means of knowledge.”

So, how does he suggest we don’t make counterproductive decisions based on this fact?

“The goal should be to train your emotions so they automatically support the conclusions that your rational mind determined.”

Powerful!

One of my favorite points had to do with the importance of understanding the relationship of value and money, and that a business only makes money to the degree they focus on bringing value to their customers. I loved this gem:

“In the 1960′s, the CEO of General Motors announced that the mission of GM was to ‘make money.’ Shortly thereafter GM’s earnings started to decline. GM was created to make cars in a variety of price ranges and quality categories. Its real purpose is to make ‘good’ cars, and when it does this very well, it gets to make money. At BB&T our real purpose is to help our clients be financially successful and economically secure, and when we do this well, we can make money for our shareholders.”

He also warns about what he calls the “ultimate psychological sin of evasion.” This occurs when we choose not to explore what we know we should explore because we are afraid the information will not concur with our already-established views. Evasion has a dramatically negative impact on one’s happiness, as well as the success of a business or a society.

The author is very firm regarding the importance of staying focused on truth. He says, “When we evade, we are detached from reality and cannot learn or grow.” True both for individuals and for businesses. And, for society? He asks, “Do our political leaders make decisions based on reality?”

The pages of my copy of the book are filled with notes and underlines as well as starred and bracketed sentences and paragraphs. I simply cannot do this book justice in a single post. Let me suggest — if I may — that you purchase this book, read it, study it, and then buy it as a gift for all the leaders and potential leaders in your life.

There are a lot of excellent leadership books on the market and I’ve benefited from reading many of them. This one might just be the most important one yet!

—–

P.S. Here are just a few more gems from the book I couldn’t resist including. And I worked hard to whittle it down to just these: :-)

“It is a significant error for a leader to promote a vision and not deliver. This is a fundamental breach of trust with the organization’s constituents.”

“The organizing principle of human action is purpose….{W}e are purpose-driven entities.”

“If your work is just ‘work,’ you are missing a lot of what life is about.”

“The ultimate societal incentive is freedom.”

“It is noteworthy that we seem to tolerate a level of dishonesty in politicians that we would not tolerate at work or with our friends.”

“It is irrational to expect someone to change his or her behavior based on nonexistent feedback.”

“The primary manner in which you earn self-esteem is by living your life with integrity and living your life consistent with your values.”

“Much of leadership is based on the ability to integrate multiple specialists to accomplish complex work that no single specialist could achieve alone.”

“Successful communities (teams) are created by voluntary mutual consent…Successful teams and communities cannot be built using force.”

“The compound self-esteem impact of working to your potential day in & day out is significant.”

“Earning money is tremendously rewarding, even if you give it all away. Earning money in a free society is a symbol of productivity and has a meaningful psychological reward. It is the earning, not the having, that is valuable.”

“Remember human flourishing — happiness — is the end of the game.”

The Continuum of Thought

December 7th, 2014 by Bob Burg

Feel Good!Yes, thoughts are things. And, each act of human creativity, every invention; indeed, all progress is preceded by thought.

Thought, combined with correct action and fortified by burning desire, belief, determination, and dogged persistence is almost unstoppable.

However, on another level, in this case an emotional level, let’s look at three different types of thoughts and how they serve or do not serve us.

Productive Thoughts: These make you feel good; they are empowering. Thoughts with positive, uplifting feelings put you in a good place for personal productivity, accomplishment, and overall happiness. While these good thoughts can simply happen on their own, by and large they are the result of choice and conscious awareness (and, in my case, a yellow sticky note on my computer that says, “FEEL GOOD!”)

Productive thoughts are also seeing the good side of something rather than the bad (congruent with reality) such as judging someone favorably when you don’t know their intent. And, very importantly, feeling gratitude for the many blessings in your life, big and small.

Neutral Thoughts: These bring forth neither good feelings nor bad. They’re not negative and they’re not positive. It’s not so much that they are realistic as much as they are without conscious thought.

Counterproductive Thoughts: Anger, resentment, ingratitude, grudges, etc., can absolutely eat away at a person. They result in bad feelings and, unchecked, can only undermine happiness. As one who for many years lived like that it’s still very easy for me to allow myself to fall into the trap. When this happens, I am now able to catch myself quickly (usually) and consciously interrupt the pattern.

These negative thoughts and feelings are fed through actions such as gossip, complaining, judging others unfavorably, victim-hood, accumulating debt and more. They also go hand-in-hand with poor self-esteem.

Every morning I read the brief email from Abraham-Hicks. Nearly 100 percent of the time, the message has to do with allowing yourself to feel good; consciously deciding to feel good. I read it so that I remember it. Without these reminders I find it too easy to forget; yes, despite the above-mentioned sticky note.

So, in the continuum of thought, from helpful to harmful, where do you usually stand?

How do you keep up the productive thoughts and good feelings? Any suggestions?

Integrity and Honesty — For YOUR Sake

November 25th, 2014 by Bob Burg

Integrity and HonestyIn his new book, The Leadership Crisis And The Free Market Cure, John Allison defines Integrity as, “the harmony of mind and body” and says that, as a principle, it “guides us to act consistently with our beliefs.”

After a brief but brilliant explanation regarding how one cannot act with integrity if one’s values are either contradictory or not aligned with reality, the former BB&T CEO, now CEO of the libertarian think tank, Cato Institute made what I felt was another profound point:

“Many people view integrity as some form of duty. Integrity is not a duty. It is a means to improve the probability of being successful and happy.”

I find that statement to be powerful because if one displays integrity simply out of obligation to others, he or she cannot truly be happy. It’s only when one lives in integrity because it is congruent with their own values and how they wish to relate to the world that it can lead to happiness and personal fulfillment.

The extra benefit to living with integrity is that others respect you; they trust you more…and are more likely to want to be in relationship with you.

Mr. Allison’s teaching reminded me of wisdom from another person I also greatly admire, the late, Harry Browne.

Mr. Browne, whose classic on sales is – like Mr. Allison’s book on leadership as well as a recently-reviewed book by Russ Roberts — a spectacular treatise on understanding human nature wrote:

“Honesty is not a self-denying virtue. It’s one of the greatest assets a salesperson can have.”

There are two parts to this, as well. First, you are honest not for the sake of others (though, that is also very important) but because it is congruent with your personal value system. This allows you to be happy. And, in the end, happiness is what we as human beings ultimately desire.

The additional benefit to being an honest salesperson is the degree of trust you earn from your prospective and current customers and clients. This results in their gladly buying from you and just as enthusiastically referring you to others.

Yes, living with integrity and honesty certainly makes you more valuable to those whose lives you touch and influence. It affects you, however, on a much deeper level.

Because, when it comes right down to it…

It allows you to genuinely feel good about yourself and live with a sense of joy, peace of mind, and happiness.

Your thoughts?