Early in my career I would talk with everyone and try to pursue a relationship with every contact that I made. As I’ve now been networking for over 30 years, I can tell when I meet good people. There are a few times when my gut has been wrong, but those are the exceptions. Lately I’ve even been getting chills when I meet someone who I should be staying connected with. I bring this up because I believe most of us know when we meet good people, yet we ignore the signals because we don’t even know we should be looking for them.
I keep coming back to this concept of not looking forward businesses or a certain profession, but looking for people with certain attributes that we are looking for. I’ve always been told that when you ask the universe for something you get what you ask for. I believe the more specific you can be the better! The more I explain to people exactly what I’m looking for those types of people keep showing up in bunches.
I’ve mentioned a few times over the past few months that I’m looking for people that have 4 things in common:
- They are self-aware
- They want to leave the world better than they found it
- They get sh*t done!
- They are total givers, or what I call dolphins
A few weeks ago I received a text from a new friend and it said; Aware, Get Shit Done, World Changing, Dolphin. They not only know what I’m looking for, they’re self identifying as someone that I want to get to know better. I’ve become fast friends with this person and look forward to many more years of doing business together. There is this inner knowing that guides us if we’re willing to listen. When ideals and values align, we know. The hard part is when our inner guidance tells us to stay away yet we see dollar signs and decide to engage anyway.
Our culture is so focused on return, mostly financial. I would suggest that as we redefine success that we look for a different return our our relationships. In the end, if you’re a smart business person the financial return will be there, but not at the cost of our inner knowing. That part of us that just knows the right thing to do, the right people to stay connected to and the right path for us to follow. Many times it might seem scary to leave the old mind-set behind and the comfort of immediate gratification, but we are entering a new age, an age where creativity and inner wisdom will be more highly valued. It’s time to trust your inner voice and let it guide your life.
To a life well lived!
I’ve been developing the 5 Dots model for the past few months and I’m realizing which pieces of the puzzle I’ve learned from others and which ones are just part of my DNA. Ever since my dad started his business in my teens I’ve always clearly understood the concept of strategic alliances. My dad was selling tax shelters that would help wealthy individuals avoid tax burdens through investment options. Most people that were selling similar products would go out and look for wealthy individuals to sell these policies to, but not my dad.
What my dad learned in his business is that most of these wealthy individuals didn’t make decisions on how to shelter their money, that was done by their accountants. So, my dad did all of his marketing to the accountants because if he found an accountant that believed in his program he wouldn’t get just one client, he would get numerous clients. As teenagers, my sister and I would address envelopes and fill them with flyers about these tax shelters. My dad sent them to accountants in numerous major cities, not just NYC. In the thousands of direct mail pieces that my dad sent out he found a small handful of accountants that directed the majority of his business to him. I learned a lot from that experience and believe that strategic alliances is built into my DNA.
Over the years I’ve developed numerous projects through partnerships that allowed our company an easy path to success. That was all based on developing key strategic alliances. We really started to build 4-Profit with a strategic alliance with Avaya in 2000. In 2003 we launched a partnership with IBM, then in 2006 with Cisco and in 2010 with Shoretel. We met lots of owners of IT resellers, but every one of them was introduced to us by their key manufacturer. It wasn’t until the last couple of years of our business that we started to recruit individual companies separate from their manufacturer partners. This made our business development efforts very simple and straight forward.
As I go out and help others develop their business development strategy, identifying and mastering a strategic alliance strategy is a critical step to success. I still see so many people cold calling expecting to get new clients. I can tell you that I’ve never done any cold calling in my career. I believe that investing that time in key individuals who have the ear of your target market is so much more powerful than calling someone who doesn’t even know your name. So, where to begin?
The best place to start when it comes to strategic alliances is the think about companies that target your clients but don’t compete with you. For example, if you’re an accountant it might be a good idea to strategically align with a lawyer, a banker, a commercial realtor, and any other professional services firm that sells a non-competing product to yours. Once you can identify all of those strategic alliance partners it’s time to pick the ones that you can develop the best relationship with, the ones that have shared values and a shared level of commitment and skill. In the end, people do business with people they know and trust, so surrounding yourself with others that are trustworthy is a great first step.
For some of us, it might only take one strategic alliance to build our business. As with 4-Profit, partnering with a company like Cisco took many years to establish, but that strategic alliance provided business to our firm for almost 10 years. That’s a great investment even if it did take 3 to 4 years to establish. With 5 Dots I’m finding that companies who sell sales automation automation are ideal strategic partners for me. When you are implementing a sales automation system it helps to have a clear target market, a compelling story and clearly defined strategic alliance partners. At it’s core, sales automation is designed to take care of relationship management and there are lots of tools to generate leads from this tool kit. A strong and directed business development strategy is key to a successful end result. I’ve said many times, automating a bad system just makes bad things happen faster!
As you look to grow your business I highly suggest that you focus a significant amount of time on developing strategic alliances that will provide you warm introductions to your ideal clients. In the end, more prospects equals better clients!
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!
When I was at a recent event I saw someone that I’ve met a few times over the past year. This person is very nice, knowledgeable, and on the surface seems like someone that I should like, although that isn’t the case. The same thing happened with someone else last year, so I started to think back to a plethora of people I’ve met that I felt this way about. They were people that I didn’t want to get to know any better, but there was something deeper than that. I believe that the main reason that this is the case is because these people represent aspects of myself that I don’t like, they remind me of me, like a mirror of myself. As I realize this it hits me deep in my soul, why can’t I just love these people and let them be who they are? Why do I need them to be a certain way in order to connect with them?
One of the big things about the person that I met, it seemed like they only express themselves through their intelligence. I get the feeling that they have no real connection to their heart or soul. This might not be true at all, but that’s how they show up to me. Is it possible that I’m totally misreading the person and what I’m seeing is what I don’t like in myself? Or, is it that they remind me of myself at a previous time in my life. I know that I can come across totally focused on my intelligence and don’t connect with my heart or soul. So, this person is a mirror for me, showing me myself right in front of me.
I have a good friend named Miguel who I met through my Rotary club. He’s a wonderfully humble human being and someone who speaks his truth all the time. He spent 27 years heading up Xerox and Paychex here in San Diego and everyone who I’ve met whoever worked for him sings his praises. When I first met Miguel we had some really nice, intellectual conversations about our businesses. It wasn’t until we met for lunch and started to really learn about each other did I let him see my heart. He now tells people that when he met me he found my brain of some interest, while he really became a soul brother when he got to meet my heart.
I have some good friends who are able to just love everyone exactly where they are and not project anything on them. That is something that I strive to achieve. How can I show up every day without judgement? How can I stop looking at people as a reflection of myself and just accept them for who they are? This is part of my work, to just be present and not see people as my mirror. It might sound pretty easy, but I can tell you that it’s not. In the end, I might not want to spend much time with them and not choose for them to be one of my best friends, but the bigger issue is my judgment. I’m learning that the more I share about the truth, the more I share my story the more I understand. I hope that this post is helpful to you in some way.
To a life well lived!
I was at a book signing this week for my good friend Eric Kaufmann. He just launched his new book Four Virtues of a Leader. Eric is extremely passionate about leadership and his life is amazingly unique. Eric is a man who lived by himself for over a year in the woods, built a log cabin with his own hands, has meditated for months at a time and has a deep connection to self, the spirit and to a sense of a higher being. He is a husband, father, son and an awesome entrepreneur. His approach to life is one I admire and one that is worth exploring further.
In his book, Eric focuses on the four virtues that he believes are critical to a great leader. They include Focus, Courage, Grit & Faith. In listening to Eric at his book signing, his deep respect for the human experience comes through in spades. We are uniquely human and we all have fear, we all have sadness, we all have bouts with depression and we all have the ability to be great leaders. All of the virtues speak to me in different ways. The one that speaks to me the loudest is grit. Not sure why, maybe it’s because that is what has garnered me just about everything that I have ever obtained in my life.
The concept of grit is a simple one, never ever quit. There is a famous quote from Winston Churchill “never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” I truly believe this, especially when it comes to living our purpose. There is a famous TED Talk by Angela Lee Duckworth on grit. She believes that IQ is not the only determinate of success, that many who succeed have a measure of grit that distinguishes them from their peers. So what is it that makes people gritty? Is it something we are born with or something we learn? Is it something that when taken to an extreme will bring better results or not? How does one measure grit?
I’m not sure I have the answer, but I know that grit has been a key to my success in life. Many might see me as a dog with a bone, holding of for dear life even when it doesn’t seem quite clear. I often speak about the concept of trust and trusting that everything that’s happening is for a reason, we need to trust that the answers will reveal themselves in time. As Steve Jobs said in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, we can’t connect the dots looking forward, we meed to trust that it’s all happening for a reason and one day we’ll look back and see how the dots connected. As for our individual journey, when faced with challenges I believe we need to figure out what that lesson is and try not to repeat it. If we get a lesson and don’t learn it then we are bound to get the lesson again.
As with my wife and her current situation handling early stage breast cancer. Every day people tell me that they’re sorry for what’s happening. If we look at this from a grit perspective, my wife is earning solid leadership experience. No, seriously, she is growing in so many ways. The chemo treatments are not fun and losing her hair is life changing, but I can also tell you that she has more grit today than she’s ever had. She has more belief in her own ability and knows that she is worthy of surviving and living a full life. I know that she’s scared that it might return at some point in the future, and that she doesn’t want to go through this ever again, but her grit will carry her through.
At this point of my life everything seems to come back to being true to our reason for being, or our purpose, finding our tribe and finding home. As I go through this journey I believe that grit is one of the main contributors to my drive and determination to find my tribe and live my purpose. I’ve realized that this journey is not for everyone, and that’s OK. For me, I can’t live that way. It might seem easier to pursue comfort, the only problem is that this inner voice won’t let me do that. This drive, this need to contribute to the greater good, this inner spirit that moves me to wake up every day is founded in grit. I hope that we can all find the grit inside of us to help us pursue our purpose and live the life we were born to live, not the one we were taught to live.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!
Since exiting my previous business and returning from our 6 month global adventure 16 months ago, I’ve been on a journey to learn how to balance between how I make a living and how I make a difference. Upon our return I believed that I needed to make a living by teaching what I learned, by educating people how to live a more purposeful life. I’m not sure if it was my approach or my skill set, but that didn’t work out exactly as I’d planned. I can go back and explore exactly why it worked out the way it did, but if you know me at all, that’s not my style.
I’ve met others on my journey that seem to be able to monetize their way of being, but that doesn’t seem to be my journey. I love helping companies grow, love thinking strategically about businesses, attaching their identity to words that describe them and helping them tell their story. I also love developing relationships, establishing strategic alliances and managing lots of relationships. So, what have I really learned?
Having met with well over 1,500 people since our return last summer, the more people I meet the more I’m convinced that everyone’s journey is unique. I used to share my story as a way to guide others on their journey. Now when I share about my journey it doesn’t mean that anyone else needs to follow in my footsteps. I only hope that my words can provide comfort to those in the middle of the struggle. There is a place of peace and calm where we can fully live, create a life that we’re proud of and create financial return at the same time.
Now that I’m figuring out how to replace my income in this new iteration, where does my purpose come into play? If I don’t fully monetize my purpose where does it fit? One of my main purposes is to leave this planet infinitely better than I found it. I have found so many ways to do that, and it doesn’t need to be based in how I make a living. I tried that and it never felt totally right. I also spent a significant amount of time working with companies that are living and monetizing their purpose. Since I haven’t done that myself yet I don’t believe that is my home either right now.
I believe that part of my purpose is to be a bridge, a connector, in so many different ways. My title at 5 Dots is Chief Connector, that is the most appropriate title I’ve ever had in my life. I’m here to connect people who are waking up to this new way of being in the world and aren’t sure exactly how to get to the other side. I’m meeting more and more people that are starting to wake up and realize that they might not be as happy as they thought they were, that their definition of success is not working for them anymore. That is the work that I do once I help them grow their business, that’s not what I market because I don’t believe that’s what people will buy. If I show up living my purpose and sell my skillset, I can help companies grow while also helping them understand the new worldview that is upon us.
I’m more excited about this transition than I’ve ever been. It’s been a long haul and I forgot what it took to start a business from scratch, but I do see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m closer to the place where I can balance family, work, friends, community, financial return and fun. It has not been much fun in the middle of the mess, but I know it is necessary for so many reasons. I look forward to the coming years and continuing to live out my beliefs and see if, in the end, they will produce more happiness and joy.
In Success Redefined I stated that happiness is getting our needs met, where are needs are food, water, shelter, safety, air and health, with the hidden need of purpose. As for joy, that is found at the intersection of purpose and connection, or shared common purpose. As I spend time with people that have shared common purpose I am definitely finding more joy. As for the happiness part, that’s been more of a challenge with Ilise’s current health issues, raising two teenagers and not being exactly clear on how my purpose fits into my life. I know that I’m on the right path and I look forward to continued learning. I love sharing my experiences and seeing how others see the world as well. Please let me know what you think, and how you live your purpose and if you have found a way to monetize your purpose or are you monetizing your skillset?
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!
Over the past few weeks the theme of being attached to outcomes continues to surface. Many of us go into conversations with a map in our head of how we expect a certain conversation to go. My father used to tell me all the time that he would prepare for every meeting by thinking through in his head all the possible things that can happen so he can be prepared. It made sense to me in the past, but many times when you have preconceived ideas of where a conversation will lead we miss the greatest opportunities that might be right in front of us. We look to control the conversation and direct it toward our desired outcome, and if we don’t get what we expected we tend to get disappointed.
When I was in my mid-thirties I had a very memorable conversation with my older brother, Ken, and he brought up this concept of being attached to the outcome. He explained that the more attached we are to the outcome the more challenging life becomes. It was the first time that this concept had been presented to me. Over the years I have often reflected on that conversation and today I believe that the more we can be open to possibilities and the less attached we are to the outcome the better. This is especially true with our children. I don’t know about you, but I surely have an idea of what would be best for our kids. The only problem is that it’s their life not mine. I need to let go of my desired outcome so they can be the person they were meant to be, not the one I see for them.
In most business situations, we look for cues during conversations around body language and certain words that might open a door to take the conversation in the direction we expected, to achieve a desired outcome, until it doesn’t happen that way. I spent the first 35 plus years focused on the outcome of each situation. I didn’t allow the situation to just unfold and see where it took me, I knew what I wanted and I probably missed so many possible turns that I could have taken.
At this point in my life I believe we are all exactly where we are supposed to be, all the time, so my history is just that and I try not to judge myself on the past. I have to say that my conversation with my older brother many years ago opened my eyes to what I was doing and it’s a daily practice to not be attached to those outcomes. It’s been almost two decades of awareness and I still get caught in that cycle. Over the past few years I’ve become much more flexible and allowed myself to enter situations without any end result in mind other than trying to get to know the person that I’m speaking with. My approach didn’t change over night and I still struggle many times just letting things be.
I recently wrote about why we go to networking events. My initial thoughts when I started networking decades ago was to go looking for business. That has changed at this point in my life, now I go looking for people that fit through a screen of the types of people I want to meet or get to know better. If I meet some people that fit this profile then great, and if not that’s fine too. The experience just tells me that I should, or should not, be attending more events put on by that organization.
I have met so many people that seem to be attached to a predetermined outcome. I can only recognize it because I am often there myself. I believe that it not only limits our existing relationships, it limits the possibilities right in front of us. I believe that the more we let go, the more we are present to what’s in front of us and live in the moment the better.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!
As I continue to evolve this concept of business development as a service I continue to find new ideas that matter to businesses. When I first started looking at business development the first thing that I considered was how business development drives new prospects and clients into a business. After a little bit of time I realized that business development really encompassed existing client relationships as well. Now that I’ve spent the past 4 months talking with business owners I’m realizing that business development also includes employee recruitment.
Last week I wrote about moving from a doing to a being and living your purpose. Someone left a comment about the fact that they would love to pursue music and that was their purpose in life. The only challenge is that if they pursue music they might have a hard time supporting their family. I’ve also recently met an investment banker that loves what they do and would do what they do for nothing. Even though he would do it for nothing, his skill is extremely valued in by our society and provides him with an amazing income.
That made me think about our natural gifts and how valuable they are at different times in history and in different places in the world. Some people are gifted with a drive and determination to make a difference and would do their job even if they didn’t get paid, but they get paid very well (the investment banker). As for the musician, the odds of making a great living in that field is not very high and can cause a major disconnect between how we pursue our passion vs how we make a living. I was speaking with a new friend and he called this intrinsic alignment, when your business skills align with your personal motivation and together they produce financial reward.
For me, I’m a connector. I love meeting lots of people and making sure those that are in alignment get a chance to meet each other. Many might call this a sales skill, but I think of it more around the construct of business development. I happen to live in a pretty sizable city, so my skills of connecting people that might not have ever met has value. If I was born in another time without our communications systems or if I lived in a much smaller community where everyone knew each other than my skills might not be as valuable. Am I just fortunate that our society values my skills and it aligns with my purpose? I don’t know, and it this point I’m thankful that I can find a way to connect my purpose to how I make a living.
I understand how challenging this can be for some. I can see it being challenging when making a living competes with our inner purpose. On the flip side, I have traveled the globe pretty extensively and have noticed that those who live in more impoverished communities might not get the chance to align their individual purpose with their income producing energy. In the end they seem to be happy anyway. This seems to blur the lines between purpose, our inner drive, how we make a living and how these factors produce happiness and joy. I’ve been talking with lots of people over the past few years about this general topic and it seems like I’m in the minority in thinking deeply about these ideas. I know I’m not the only one who thinks about purpose and meaning and how it aligns with our work, and some have spent their entire adult lives on this quest. It does surprise me that most of our population doesn’t even think about these concepts. How can we move to a happier and more fulfilled culture when we don’t even think about what makes us happy and how it aligns with our work?
I’m not sure where to go with all of this so I welcome your thoughts. Is your work aligned with your purpose in life? Do you think about your purpose and how aligning with those that have shared purpose might bring more happiness and joy? If not, what is it that brings you happiness and joy? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
To connecting the dots …… one dot at a time!
My entire life, starting as far back as I can remember, I feel like I’ve been taught to be a human doing. I’ve adopted a mentality to see what’s in front of me, analyze it and figure out how to get what I want and what I need. To accomplish goals and to achieve expected results, regardless of the method. I’m not sure that this learning has served me as effectively as I believe. At this point in my evolution I would consider myself on a journey from being a human doing to becoming a human being.
For the past decade plus (probably since I had kids of my own), I’ve had this belief about how we grow up in our culture. Having spent numerous workshops and volunteer programs with inner-city youth and so many young people that have been traumatized in their life, I’ve seen what a lack of caring and support looks like. I’ve seen what happens to some that don’t get what they need as children, and it’s not just the kids from the inner city that are being neglected, I believe it most of our children. Our current culture does so much to rip away what we need to become our true inner self. The only story that makes sense to me goes something like this.
From the time we’re born we are the student, watching everything around us and learning to become a person in society, what many people might call our ego. This learning is delivered by all of the adults and other humans around us. Once we reach the age of adulthood, let’s say 21, we get to make a decision, or not. That decision is very simple; do we accept ourselves as the person we were taught to be by all the influences that were introduced into our lives, or is it time to become the person we were born to be? It sounds like a simple question, but based on my evaluation, maybe 1 in 1,000 people are taught to be the person they were meant to be. So, what do the other 999 of us do?
Some of us go to our grave having never sung our song because we didn’t know we were supposed to sing. Some of us just scratch the surface of who we are and might get a glimpse of what’s possible. Then there are the few that go on an extensive journey to find their true self, the one they were born to fulfill. This search can start at any age and can be a glorious ride. The only challenge is that many people that I meet don’t believe that this is our journey. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe this isn’t why we’re here, but to me it’s the only story that makes sense today. I would love to get your thoughts on this concept.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time.
P.S. A short update on Ilise and her cancer treatment. After 3 weeks of poking and prodding she has finally started chemo and had her first treatment this week. She is in great spirits and knows that this is just a temporary situation that will pass. I never stated that this is stage one breast cancer, so the doctors are certain that she will have a full recovery after the chemo and radiation. We have set up a meal train for anyone who wants to support us over the coming months of treatments at https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/g0yeze. Thanks for your love and kindness 🙂
Last week I talked about why we go to networking events and explained that the only reason to go is to meet like-minded and like-hearted people, members of our tribe. That sounds pretty straight forward, but is it really? Over the years I’ve done dozens of personal assessments and values exercises, attended hundreds of workshops, had thousands of conversations with anyone and everyone to try to figure out who I am. In many ways I’ve just begun this journey that started 53 years ago. The more I dig into who I am the easier it is to find the other members of my tribe.
In my most recent book, Success Redefined, I talk about a concept that I call the Connectedness Continuum. This concept is centered on the idea that their are 5 levels of connection in our society. The first level of connection is what I termed Surface level connections. These are our “friends” on Facebook or “connections” on LinkedIn. These are people that we might know by name, but we don’t really know them at all. The second level of connection is called Community based connectedness, or those people that have something in common with us. These are people that have a shared hobby or are part of a religious organization or are part of a sports team. The third level of connection is called Relationship based connection, or a one-to-one relationship with another person. This can be a family member, a friend, a business associate or anyone else that you have a personal relationship with.
The next level of connection is the most critical one, the relationship with ourselves. When we know ourselves we are so much better in our relationships and in the community. Beyond self, and the inner core of the continuum is the fifth and final level, our Purpose. Some people might call this our why, our reason for being. Once we begin to know self we can start to figure out our own individual why, but we can’t do that without first understanding our self.
I have searched for the past few decades to find myself and my why, and the more I search the closer I get. I’m not sure I’m “there” yet, but the more I learn the more peace I find in each day. The more peace I find the easier it is to show up in the world as myself, not the person that I believe others want me to be, or need me to be. I tried that one for many years and it didn’t bring much pleasure or satisfaction. So, for me the search for self is at the core of everything that I do, it’s the heart of the Connectedness Continuum and something that I believe is critical for our own journey toward happiness and joy. This is why I meditate, why I spend time with those with more wisdom and peace than I have. I continue to seek and with this search comes more clarity each day. I wish I could bottle the past 53 years of my journey and hand it to others so they don’t have to live through the same pains that I did (especially our two teenage children). If I did, I’d be stealing their life from them because life is what happens in the ordinary moments. It’s about the journey of self exploration and learning our own unique lessons.
So, wherever you are on the journey, I hope that you continue to search for self. The more more we know about what makes us tick, the more we understand what brings us joy and happiness the better we are for everyone. For me, this journey is just beginning and I look forward to using my gifts to help others reach their dreams. My greatest gift is my deep desire and ability to connect people with those that they need to meet. I don’t know why I have this skill or why it’s so much a part of who I am, but it is who I am. In the end, if we help others get what they want we’ll get so much more than we will ever need.
To connecting the dots ….. one dot at a time!