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“If Benjamin Franklin had picked someone to teach the lessons in self-mastery that he used in his life, he would have picked Bob Burg.”

~ Vic Johnson, Founder AsAManThinketh.net

Transparency. The More Things Change…Or, Do They?

September 5th, 2016 by Bob Burg

John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and Jr.“…{You} must recognize that we are living in a different generation than the one in which {your} father had lived, and that it was possible, in building up an industry such as {his}, to maintain a comparative secrecy as to methods of work, etc. and to keep business pretty much to those who were engaged in it.

“Today…it {is} absolutely necessary to take the public into one’s confidence, to give publicity to many things, and especially to stand out for certain principles very broadly.”

Obviously, this advice must have been provided fairly recently to a business leader who hadn’t yet caught on that things are significantly different than they had been. Now, instead of operating in secrecy, even a major, multi-national corporation must be — what’s that word we so often hear — transparent, right?

I mean, this is the 21st Century. With the Internet, search engines, social media, and review sites, there are many ways a company can have it’s reputation ruined and its customers, shareholders, and stakeholders angry at them. Now, corporate leaders must — they simply must — adopt this most recent way of conducting their business.

However, that advice was not particularly recent at all! According to Ron Chernow, in his fantastic book, TITAN: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr., this counsel was actually given to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. by his confidant (and future Canadian Prime Minsiter), Mackenzie King regarding handling a tragic and fatal mistake at a family-owned company. While Junior was much more involved in the Rockefeller Foundation, the charitable foundation established by Senior, the advice held for all aspects of the business.

Junior’s father and his associates at Standard Oil were famous for being extremely secretive about their operations. And, this secrecy — far from helping their cause — resulted in very negative public opinion of their business and set the stage for future legal difficulties and eventual threats of imprisonment. Later in his life, even Senior eventually came around and realized his mistake in this regard.

The point is, while the public now has many more avenues for determining what a company truly stands for, they’ve always had a much higher regard (and, trust!) for those companies that not only show their true colors, but communicate them, as well.

Mega-corporation or small business; solo practitioner or non-profit charity; early 1900’s or 2000’s, the principle itself never changes…only the media that expose it for what it truly is.

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We invite you to join us at one of our last two Go-Giver Sales Academy Live Workshops in 20l6. For more information visit: www.gogiversalesacademy.com

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Understanding The Antagonist

August 8th, 2016 by Bob Burg

See the worldThe following profound quote caught my attention on Twitter:

“You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.”

~ John Rogers, screenwriter, film and television producer, director, comedian, comic book writer

Since the author of the quote is a professional storyteller perhaps he’s teaching a lesson on the importance of an aspiring writer understanding this dynamic.

And, I believe that what he said is brilliant.

It also pertains to everyday life. Our everyday lives.

This blog has often featured lessons regarding belief systems and understanding that we all see the world from our own personal viewpoints based on a number of factors. This is below the surface of conscious thought and I often refer to it as our “unconscious operating system.” Not only do we operate solely based on the premises of our belief systems, others operate solely out of theirs. And, neither are aware of such.

So, it’s often suggested not only to become aware that we are operating this way but that the other person is, as well. This leads to a deeper understanding and makes effective communication more likely. This concept applies to interpersonal transactions and relationships, as well as to observing life, people, and different views in general.

However…Mr. Rogers’ statement brings it to an even higher level.

The current political scene is a fascinating example.

Members of the two major parties seem to operate out of two completely different ways of seeing the world, human nature, causes, and effects. (Please note that I’m not referring to the specific candidates, national, state or local, but rather the general voter committed to their party’s philosophy.)

Not only does each person believe they are correct in their understanding; as we often see, read, and hear, each sees those of the other party as being so wrong that they often subscribe their motives as “evil.”

So, on one level we could say that simply by understanding the other side’s viewpoint it could help us close the gap when discussing issues with them.

But, That’s Not Enough

Let’s move to an entirely deeper level by taking Mr. Rogers’ advice and actually try and understand why he or she (individual members) sees themselves as a protagonist (in this context, the hero, or “good guy/gal”) in their own version of the world.

There are numerous articles and books you can read on the individual thought processes of a person who identifies as a Democrat or a Republican. But, another excellent method is to simply ask them; of course, in a way that does not elicit their defensiveness but rather provides you with an understanding of how they think, and why? I’ve done that a lot with friends in both major parties since, being libertarian, I don’t fully identify with either.

Here’s a thought though. If the very idea of asking a D (if you’re an R) or an R (if you’re a D) causes you defensiveness or even a feeling of anger, please understand that this will not be productive in terms of gaining insight. And, if your goal is to influence that person to consider your viewpoint, then you must be able to first understand it (remember, understanding is not the same as agreeing) from their side.

In other words, you must be able to understand why they see themselves as the protagonist, not the antagonist you believe they are.

Interesting is that the way you see them is most likely the way they see you. And, once you understand them better, perhaps they’ll understand you better.

Next step: Once you’ve completed this “political” exercise, begin to do this with others you find difficult to understand and relate to.

Can understanding why your antagonist sees themselves as the protagonist in their own story make you a much more effective communicator, friend, family member, coworker, supervisor, salesperson, customer, leader, etc?

What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts, opinions, and examples with us.

Listening… Now That’s a Thought

June 6th, 2016 by Bob Burg

Listening-telemarketersReceived a telephone call from a company doing a survey:

Me: Hi, this is Bob.

Caller: Is Bob there?

Me: Th…this is Bob. Good morning.

Caller: I’m doing a survey regarding children and television. Do you have any children or grandchildren under the age of 13?

Me: No, I have no children.

Caller: I see. Do you have any children or grandchildren under the age of 13?

Me: Um, well, I…I have no children, thus no grandchildren, and none of the children or grandchildren that…I don’t have are under the age of 13?

Caller: I see. I won’t bother you then. Thank you for your time. Have a nice day.

Me: You, too. Bye-bye.

The moral of the story?

I don’t know.  Okay, there are many lessons. While working from a basic script is fine, actually listening to someone after you ask a question is obviously very important.

What other lessons might we take away from this?

And, in case you are wondering, yes, I was very polite and no, I was not snarky. It’s not my style. Though, I must admit, I struggled just a teensy bit with that.

Build, Encourage, And Recognize Your People!

May 11th, 2016 by Bob Burg

David-Novak-O-Great-OneWhen John David Mann and I talk about “Building Your People” (Key #2 from The Go-Giver Leader) we mean that in a couple of ways: one is to teach, mentor, and coach them to becoming more effective, both in their defined role within the organization as well as in their own ability to lead others.

Second is to make them feel good about themselves: protected, loved, and valued member of the business family. And, a person whose abilities we believe in.

The first part makes intuitive sense to many who look at leadership in the traditional way. The second part, not always so much.

There’s a tendency for one to feel, “Well, that’s all very nice — warm and fuzzy and all — but maybe we should wait until we’re making some serious money before we go that route.” Not to mention, after they’ve already proven themselves to be worthy of our caring.

Of course, there’s a very powerful and counterproductive false premise at work within that last thought process: namely, that building your people is a luxury that can wait until “after they’ve already…” And, that your company will thrive if you wait.

Building your people, before they’ve proven themselves, while they’re doing so, and on an continual basis is vitally important to the success of your organization. We see it time and again in the hugely successful companies. We see the opposite in the less successful companies. And — something I hear from employees constantly — we see this in once great companies that are now struggling.

Did they forget that it’s their people who made them great? Apparently, yes.

I had the opportunity to read a copy of the just-released business parable by David Novak, Former Chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands (Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell).

The book is entitled, O GREAT ONE!: A Little Story About The Awesome Power of Recognition.

David’s list of business and leadership awards — including one of the “100 Best Performing CEOs in the World” by Harvard Business Review is long and well-deserved.

I mention this because a huge part of his leadership success was the ability to build his people in both of the above-mentioned ways. He did this through recognition; one of the most powerful forms of building a human being.

As the protagonist in this book, Jeff, pointed out:

“First we’ve got to fire up our people, who will then help to get our customers excited about doing business with us, and from there the money will follow. Too many business leaders focus on making money first without considering the fact that it’s people who will make it happen.”

A couple of pages later, when responding to one of the skeptical members of his leadership team, he explained:

“What I don’t think you realize, Anna, is that this isn’t fluffy stuff. It’s very much about results, about recognizing and rewarding the kind of real results that make a difference to this company’s bottom line. And it’s about driving future results by sending a clear message about what behaviors lead to results.”

Anna still didn’t quite get it at that point, but eventually she would.

What today’s top leaders hope is that more and more leaders come to fully understand it. Company slogan’s such as, “Our people are our greatest asset”, “we care about our people” and others are just that; slogans. And, meaningless ones at that…until a culture of this type is created, consistently communicated, and endlessly cultivated.

And that will only happen when today’s leaders understand that there is nothing soft about it whatsoever.

Super Leadership…and A Super Bowl

April 22nd, 2016 by Bob Burg

Demarcus WareGo-Giver Leaders tend to be less interested in taking the stage than they are in giving the stage. They are less concerned about themselves than they are about their team and the individuals who comprise that team.

Rather than, “look how great I am!” they authentically communicate how fantastic those on their team are!

And, they communicate this, not just to those outside of their organization (though they certainly do that), but to the team-members themselves. Not only in what they say, and not just in what they do, but also in who they are.

I love this quote by current Denver Broncos All-Pro outside linebacker (and future Hall of Famer) DeMarcus Ware, as shared on Twitter by future Hall of Famer and past All-Pro wide receiver (now coffee entrepreneur), Rod Smith:

You don’t inspire your teammates by showing them how amazing you are,
but by showing them how amazing they are!

And, that, to me, says it all!

Of course, lest we think that this attitude is in any way self-sacrificial, we should note that these types of leaders in the corporate environment tend to have happy and productive teams, and very profitable businesses.

And, I heard somewhere that DeMarcus’ team did pretty well this year, as well! 😉