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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

Victim OR Victor

April 20th, 2017 by Bob Burg

Victim OR VictorIn this blog we’ve often discussed the “false dilemma” — the unnecessary use of the word “or.”

For example, “Wealthy OR Happy” as though it’s necessarily one OR the other when of course it can and should be both. Another is “nice OR successful.” Then there’s “giver OR receiver.” And numerous others.

On the other hand there are those things that are one or the other.

One cannot be angry AND happy.  A leader cannot be a manipulator AND have a loyal organization. A colleague cannot be a known gossiper AND respected.

And…a person cannot be a victim AND a victor. It truly is one OR the other.

Before I continue please allow me to establish a premise that differs from some others. There’s a teaching by many in the personal development community claiming that there are no victims and that we all — perhaps on some type of metaphysical level — always directly cause our own situations. With all respect, I disagree.

In my opinion, there certainly are victims, and through no cause of their own. People (and groups of people) are victims of natural disasters, of elements of their birth, of upbringing, of diseases, of despotic tyrants, of bullying, of horrible incidents that they did not cause.

They are victims. They did not bring it upon themselves.

However, I believe the choice they have is whether to remain a victim or do whatever they can in order to improve their lot and become victors.

Because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed in 59 years is that there is no such thing as a victim AND a victor…simultaneously.

Many victors began as victims or had something horrible happen to them where they became victims. But at some point they made an important decision.

A friend of mine explained how many years ago he got “taken” by his partners with whom he’d cofounded a franchise. When the franchise later became a huge success he was left with crumbs. He told me that for a number of years he lived in anger, resentment, and victimhood, sharing the story with anyone and everyone who would listen.

Indeed, he was a victim. But it was only after he decided he was tired of playing that role did he go on to build other successful businesses and reach the level of success  and happiness he knew he could. As he told me, so long as he remained in victim mode there was no way he could accomplish what he wanted.

Both individuals and groups — most of us have been victims of something. Sometimes little things. And other times, really, really big, horrendous, even monstrous things. And we all have the right to remain a victim and live in our victimhood.

Or, we can decide we’re no longer content with that, and do everything we can to become a victor, an overcomer, a hero of our circumstance.

One thing we cannot do is be both victim AND victor. It is definitely an OR.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to share your thoughts.

 

 

Theo Epstein and the Trust Factor in Leadership

March 13th, 2017 by Bob Burg

Theo EpsteinDoes trust really matter when it comes to leadership? After all, leaders pay people to do their jobs. Trust is somewhat beside the point, right?

Actually, not by a long shot. Research both formal and anecdotal proves that organizations run as such suffer in big ways, including the bottom line.

On the other hand, leaders who treat their people with respect and who’ve earned the trust of their people tend to have an entirely different result. These organizations are happier, healthier, more profitable, and sometimes even win world championships after 86 years and 108 years respectively.

Last week I received a very excited email from my great friend and brother, Randy Stelter, a veteran professional educator and Athletic Director of Wheeler High School (and without question a long-time loyal Chicago Cubs fan). Randy is also the coauthor of A Teacher’s Guide to The Go-Giver, a curriculum for High School students.

He wrote:

“I was coming home today from an Athletic Director’s meeting and ESPN Radio was interviewing Cubs President, Theo Epstein. They asked him about the ‘trust factor’ he has with the players. He shared a story about sitting on the bench with a player in 1995. The player made a statement about the fact that no MLB (Major League Baseball) players ever trust management. Theo said the lightbulb went off and he vowed he would never lie to a player and that all contracts and conversations with agents would be on the up-and-up. He has never deceived a player during negotiations. He went on about ‘trusting and knowing’ the players and meeting their needs in the contract periods. Very refreshing and no wonder he has turned two programs around that had such world series droughts.”

No wonder, indeed. Of course he brought a lot of knowledge and talent to the equation. But, lots of baseball executives have knowledge and talent. That’s simply the baseline (no pun intended). Trust was a key factor for the man who brought the Boston Red Sox their first World Series championship since 1918 and the Chicago Cubs their first one since 1908.

It was the trust he focused so hard on earning that allowed him to operate without the — as Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Speed of Trust puts it — “low-trust tax” that affects so many organizations.  After all, when your team-members know you care about them, they’ll not only negotiate in good faith; they’ll be committed to a team goal that is bigger than themselves.

As Simon Sinek, author of Leaders Eat Last so eloquently stated it, “Trust is a biological reaction to the belief that someone has our well-being at heart.”

Trust comes not by being demanded but by being earned, in small part by what one says, in greater part through what one does, but in greatest part…through who one is!

Mr. Epstein, as a public figure, is a fantastic ambassador of this message. But he’s just the latest in an ever-growing line of leaders who understand this simple truth: when leaders earn trust, they are nine steps ahead of the game…in a ten-step game.

What Gets Us Into Trouble

February 15th, 2017 by Bob Burg

What Gets Us Into TroubleOne of the most often asked questions I receive during podcast interviews is, “What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?”

This is actually one of the easiest questions for me to answer. There are two pieces of advice.

The first is, “listen a lot more…and speak a lot less.” (Both were definitely issues.)

But, it’s the second one that’s the biggie. I’d relate — with an exclamation mark in my voice — to “younger Burg” one of my all-time favorite sayings:

It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

I don’t know who originally said that. Mark Twain is often credited. While he said something somewhat similar in one of his books, he didn’t quite say that.

Regardless, in my opinion, it’s brilliant, and it’s something I wish I’d known those many years ago when I thought I knew it all.

What a difference-maker that would have been!

At 20, I was absolutely, positively, and without question certain that I knew how the world worked and what people thought. And, why they were wrong.

It call came down to what I thought; no, what I knew. And, what I knew that I knew.

Except that it turned out I didn’t. Not even close. I ended up being so very wrong about so many things.

As human beings, we make decisions and judgements based on very, very limited information.

We tend to do this well after we are 20 years old. I did. I’m sure I still do.

Sometimes, what we know that “just ain’t so” simply fits the belief system in which we grew up. Other times it’s the beliefs and words of our friends, teachers, peer group, political party, or even those things our favorite media personalities believe.

Of course, there are times when what we know for sure is indeed true. But I suspect that’s far less often than we’d like to believe.

The good news is that the moment we become aware of this phenomenon of human nature, we can take steps to correct it.

My friend, leadership authority Jesse Lyn Stoner, tweeted:

“Instead of believing everything you think, think about what you really believe.”

Screenwriter and producer Britt Michaelian tweeted:

“Whatever it is that you resist can only be effectively transcended if you question every ‘certainty’ along the way.”

And, 100 years earlier, iconic playwright George Bernard Shaw tweeted (only kidding) ;-):

“Progress is impossible without change, and those that cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

The above quotes remind me of how my 20-year-old self absolutely knew what he knew… that just wasn’t so.

Seems we see this constantly these days on television, social media, and pretty much wherever people meet in person. And from all the various points of view, right?

Not only would I like to see more respectful and civil communication between those with opposing viewpoints; I’d like to see us questioning our own beliefs just to make sure that what we absolutely know for sure…really IS so.

 

 

“People Wisdom” from Gandhi

January 15th, 2017 by Bob Burg

people-wisdom-gandhiIn his terrific new book, Reinvent Yourself, prolific author, entrepreneur, blogger, podcaster, and serial reinventor-of-self, James Altucher shares a ton of wisdom. Included are lessons from business titans to historical figures; world-class athletes to top entertainers, and many more.

And, in his usual humble, self-effacing way, he shares golden nuggets of wisdom from…himself as he takes their lessons and serves them up to us through the filter of his brilliant mind.

While this is not a review of his book (though I recommend it highly), there’s a quote I’d like to share and then provide my own thoughts afterwards.

On page 168 James points out that Gandhi never actually said the oft-quoted, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” However, he did say something perhaps even more profound:

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”

Rather than go through each individual line and thought in the Mahatma’s magnificent statement, let’s look at what I underlined, beginning with, “If we could change ourselves.” This informs us that we have a lot more potential to influence the world around us than we might believe. As we deal with others on an individual level, to the degree which we are in control of our own emotions, that’s the degree to which can positive effect – and yes, change – their attitudes.

In Adversaries into Allies I suggested the following:

“Expecting someone to be helpful doesn’t change them, it changes you.  And that is what changes them.”

In other words, regardless of their natural or current state, if you go into the transaction believing they will be kind, helpful, and gracious…YOU will take on the corresponding attitude of thankfulness and gratitude. And, the chances are excellent they will respond to that.

Always? Of course not. This isn’t magic. There are all sorts of people. But…usually?

Absolutely!!

Yes, it begins with you. You and your emotions are the only element of the equation that you can control. Change yourself, and watch how the world changes for you.

So, you can indeed become the change you wish to see in the world.

Giving and REALLY Receiving!

December 16th, 2016 by Bob Burg

Bob Burg - Giving and REALLY ReceivingEarly on in The Go-Giver, Joe, upon realizing he would not land a desired account, referred them to one of his competitors who was in a better position to help them.

No, he didn’t want to do that, but he understood it was the right thing to do for the client.

This later came back to Joe in a big way.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out like that. After all, life is life. Then again, that’s not why you make that referral.

You do it because it’s in the best interest of the customer. That’s the only reason for doing so. And, that’s the only reason you need.

The definite result is that you feel good about doing what you feel was right. The very likely result is that the customer feels good about you, trusts you, and respects you. And, he or she is very likely to come back to you when you can help them.

It also might result in some serious referrals, as well. After all, a person can’t feel much safer referring someone they care about to a salesperson who has demonstrated that their ultimate objective is the client’s best interest.

John David Mann and I provided an example of this in Go-Givers Sell More, and we’ve both seen it and experienced it personally in our business careers.

So has Erin Bradley.

Erin is a mortgage lender based out of Winter Park, Colorado. She also wrote a fantastic little book titled, Pursuing Freedom in which she shares her methodology for growing her business through referrals.

At one point, Erin relates an incident where a prospective customer asked if she could help refinance her home. Unfortunately, Erin’s company was not able to assist her.

As she describes it:

“Rather than give her the bad news and leave it at that, I researched a few local banks and found one that could help her. Despite not having done the loan myself, she was grateful for the direction and began referring business my way. To this day, I can easily count more than 30 transactions over the past few years that came to me as a result…”

30 transactions!! Again, it doesn’t always work out like that. However, when your goal is to help the customer regardless of the outcome for yourself, the sale will occur directly much more often than not. And, even when it doesn’t, the seeds of goodwill you’ve planted will create that benevolent context for your success both short-term and long-term.

Yes, placing the other person’s interests first is actually the most profitable way of doing business.

Can you share a similar story? We’d love to hear it!

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