[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success introducing your host, Matt Bodnar.
[0:00:12.2] MB: Welcome to the Science of Success, the number one evidence-based growth podcast on the Internet with more than a new downloads and listeners in over 100 countries. In this episode we discuss how to master relationships. We go deep into cutting edge networking strategies from one of the world’s top connectors. Examine how to unite people in collaboration and co-elevation. Talk about the power of generosity in building real and authentic relationships. Look at letting go of individualism and much more with our guest, Keith Ferrazzi.
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In our previous episode, we explored rejection in-depth. We talked about the incredible power of rejection. Went deep into rejection therapy. Looked at the incredible results created by seeking out rejection and living beyond your comfort zone. Talked about the magic of asking why, and heard a few incredible stories from the 100 day rejection challenge and much more with our guest, Jia Jang. If you want to become absolutely fearless, listen to that episode.
[0:02:34.4] MB: Today, we have another incredible guest on the show, Keith Ferrazzi. He is the CEO and founder of Ferrazzi Greenlight and is the best-selling author of Who's Got Your Back? and Never Eat Alone. Keith’s Greenlight research Institute has proven the correlation between specific practices that improve relationships with business and success. His works have been featured in several high-profile publications including the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Inc., Fast Company, and much more around the globe.
Keith, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:03:02.3] KF: Matt, awesome. Thanks a lot for having me.
[0:03:04.4] MB: We’re super excited to have you on here today. Never Eat Alone is probably one of my — If not my all — One of my favorite books of all time and definitely the best book I've ever read about building relationships. I constantly reread it at least once a year to kind of get a refresher and recommend it to people all the time. So it's really great to have you on the show.
To start out, I’d loved to begin with kind of one of the things you talk about in that book specifically which is this idea that when people sometimes hear the phrase networking, they think networking is kind of a dirty word and it's got a lot of negative connotations. How do you sort of think about repositioning or viewing sort of networking and what people traditionally think about it in a new and more productive way?
[0:03:43.2] KF: I would say the simplest thing I tried to do the very beginning running the book was to shift the word network into relationship building, and that's not even enough. I mean, the idea of building authentic relationships is crucial, but in this very self-serving and narcissistic world where everyone's scared about taking care of themselves, you better lead with generosity to get someone's attention. So the addition to the principle of building real relationships is leading with generosity.
I’ll tell you that some of my work in the most recent years and transforming large organizations has awoken me to some problems in business today. One of them is that we still are clinging to that John Wayne rugged individualism mindset of, “I'm out to take care of myself. Based on taking care of myself, I will reach out to critical individuals and enlist them in helping me take care of me.” That's the way the world works.
I want to start shifting that to the recognition that greatest things in our lives are only going to be happening through co-creation. Co-creation is an idea that is one step beyond how you think of collaboration today. You think of collaboration as; I got something to do. I need other people. I’m going to go get buy-in, or I got something to do. I need other people, and there are resistors not I’m pissed off and I’m going to figure out how to work around them, etc.
Really leaning in and making a contract with critical individuals that are crucial to you achieving the mission you have in this world and co-creating and what we call going higher together, co-elevating not just collaborating. Co-elevating — Committing together to go to a different level while we’re both achieving our missions. That's the next generation of real networking. That to me is such a big shift in mindset, but when you embrace it, the world opens up to you and people open up two fundamentally differently.
[0:05:55.0] MB: I think that's so great, and to be — One of the quintessential lessons from Never Eat Alone, that it seems like this idea of co-creation is almost the next evolutionary step, is this notion that relationship building is not about sort of what's in it for me. It's much more about a shift to, “How can I add value to people in my network? How can I make everyone around me as successful as possible?” By doing that, that's how you really truly build authentic relationships.
[0:06:23.6] KF: Yeah. Like I said, networking used to be; how do I collect as many business cards as possible to get opportunity from people? Then you move that from; how do I build real authentic relationships focused and born on generosity? Kind of taking that third piece now is; and how do we commit to growing together in the process? That's the added element. The co-elevation element is not just building authentic relationships, not just leading with generosity, all of that critical, but now how do we commit to helping each other go higher? That actually is an emotional commitment that you don't see very often.
I’ll give you a quick example. Many of your leaders, many of the people listening to this are leaders who run teams of some sort. If you ask your team members, “How many of you think you could be 10% to 20% better at what you're doing right now?” They’d probably all raise their hands. Basic humility, of course we could be.
Now the question is, “Look to the person you're right. Do you think it's your job to help them get there? That's co-elevation. Are we really committed to helping each other go higher or we’re just getting our shit done and working with each other as best we can? That's a different level, and I feel in a world where traditional hierarchies and silos are no longer serving us, we've got to create a new work contract of co-elevation.
[0:07:48.7] MB: So how do we do that? Tell me about a bit more about building that emotional commitment to co-creation and co-elevation.
[0:07:56.4] KF: As I mentioned, it's going to be the title of my new book and it’s the subject of my new book. The first thing you have to recognize is that you’ve got to do all the work yourself. Meaning — I have a foster son who's 19 now. When he was 12 and came into our house, he was the biggest jackass you could possibly imagine. He’s been in multiple homes before us. Absolutely concerned about his — Whether he’d be sticking here in this home and screaming at us, “You will never be my father!” and that's sort of thing.
What if I cross my arms and said I’m going to wait for him to meet me halfway. Do you think that would have gotten anywhere? Yet in the work environment we’re constantly doing that. We don't take full responsibility for the elevation of all of the relationships that we need to be successful, and that to me is the first act of co-elevation network that you have, which is your recognition that it's on you. It’s all on you. Does that make sense to you?
[0:08:59.9] MB: That makes total sense, and I love that shift. To me, it's funny when you look across the lessons of everybody, from ancient stoics, to Navy SEALs, it seems like that focus on taking responsibility for things that maybe they seem kind of outside of your sphere of influence is actually really almost the superpower that enables you to achieve incredible things.
[0:09:22.0] KF: The opposite of that is a victim mindset, where you just sit there wringing your hands and saying, “The boss won’t let me,” or “I didn't have the resources,” or “I don’t have the time.” That's a victim mindset and you will end up being mediocre or getting fired with that.
The key is to take full responsibility for the relationships. Then the question is; what’s the blue flame? Like if you have an individual, if somebody wanted to go create a different relationship with me in order for them to be more successful, they would have to understand my blue flame. They would have an understand what really matters to me. What's going to drive success in my eyes? How will they serve that, right?
You just going out and being of service to somebody when you are may be of service to them in a way that they don't appreciate is useless, but do you have the mindset? I was just working with a head of HR for a big company the other day. I was suggesting to her, “Do really know the blue flame of your boss?” You keep trying to push on him programs and what he cares about is making his next quarter's earnings or he's going to be fired. How are you a conduit to him making his next quarter earnings? Until you show up that way, then you don't have a right to be considered his trusted advisor and his partner.
You’ve got to come from the perspective of fully understanding what a person needs and wants and how you can serve them in that direction before you could open up the co-creation. So it's all on you and you have to position it from the perspective of, really, it's all about them. Those are two of the first core steps.
[0:11:14.3] MB: No keep going.
[0:11:15.8] KF: Well, I was going to say the next step of course is now put the questions and the dialogue on the table, because if you’re going to co-create and co-elevate, then what are the questions we have to chew through?
I've been looking recently at how my brand is positioned at the marketplace. I’ve got this new book coming out a year from now, and I've got to figure out how to build a pre-audience for my book before it comes out in addition to those who just read Never Eat Alone. For somebody to have a squarely, an understanding of, “Okay. Ferrazzi’s brand is going to build, call it, 15, 25,000 presales for this book before the book comes out. What is Ferrazzi’s business? It’s coaching high-impact teams and Fortune 500 executive organizations.” Now, we take those two things, and somebody says, “Here are the five questions Ferrazzi, we’ve got to crack the code of in order to figure out how to get your outcomes.”
Boy, now I am interested. Somebody has got my blue flame. They’ve identified that they want to be of service to achieve it and they've given me a set of questions that become imminently obvious for me that have to be cracked in order to get there, and I might tweak that there aren’t five, there are six and here’s three additional ones and we work together.
Now, all of a sudden you have a business partnership. You have a real partnership, a co-elevation partnership. Now, along the way I’m going to want to know from that person how do I make them successful. They’ve spent enough time really breaking down what success looks like for me. Now, I begin to awaken to their success. Does that make sense to you?
[0:13:06.5] MB: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. I think just the shift of — I think the two things that you pinpointed specifically, kind of the idea of if you're in a victim mindset today or you’re kind of someone who feels like you don't have a lot of agency or you're trying to get people on your team and you can't do it. The two shifts of; it's all on you, it's your responsibility to make something happen, and it's all about focusing on the other people and what they want. I think those two shifts are fundamental and it’s so crystal clear. I mean you see it across the board from a number of different spheres, but to me I think both of those are just really, really important.
[0:13:42.9] KF: Yeah. Again, this discussion I’m going to have on Friday with a news outlet, pretty big news outlet, is going to even talk about our current president and how a business president is leading the government today. The idea of an individual who got elected by micro- segmentation and understanding a very core distinct narrow audience in creating a lot of residents with that core audience is now tasked with leading a collective, but not focusing on leading the collective.
My view is that you can't bring a country together. You can bring a company together across silos and divisions. You can’t achieve greatness in any mission unless you know how to create us. Creating us becomes a new competency of leadership, and that's what we’re talking about here.
This co-elevation contract is the contract where an entrepreneur looks at the mission that they have and the ecosystem that they want to impact and invites that ecosystem in to a journey of co-creating something great together, going higher together. That's what entrepreneurship to me is all about, and that's internal and external with the organization. That's all on you and it's all about them.
Then more broadly you define to them, the more successful you will be. It's not just a narrow audience of your own people. It’s not a sub-segment of your own people. It's your own people, your vendors, your customers your prospects. How do you invite this community into a movement in a sense, a movement? Your product’s got to be inviting people into a movement. Consuming your product is you being invited into being a participant of the movement of people that believe what you believe. Whether that's selling real estate or whether that's selling consulting services or a new consumer brand, you're trying to create a movement internally on your organization and externally to come together and believe something. Are you following me on this?
[0:16:06.3] MB: Yeah. I think it's a core lesson and something that — It's funny. I mean, obviously you're a master of relationship building and how to get people on your team, but you see these lessons echoed from everybody from spy recruiters, to hostage negotiators, a very similar kind of core thesis and lessons.
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[0:17:33.3] MB: I'm curious, in the work you've done championing these ideas, what have you seen kind of some of the biggest hurdles, or when people hear this, what are the reasons people don't get on board or what are some the reasons kind of people resists these ideas?
[0:17:49.4] KF: I joke that there're three reasons, and it’s not a joke. It’s true. Laziness, cowardice, or really a sense of — We can call it entitlement. It's more a sense of wellness kind of almost vindictiveness. I’ll explain what I mean.
One of them is these relationships that, Keith, what you're talking about sounds like a hell of a lot of work. I've been very comfortable living in my silos, treating vendors like vendors, selling to customers, not co-creating with them. What you're suggesting requires a lot of work. Yes, it does, but the absence of it in this new radically interdependent marketplace will mean you're going to fail.
If you don't open up your aperture and create a wholly different set of partnerships, you won’t succeed. So laziness, just laziness. Cowardice is if I open myself up this way, what if they reject me? What if they don't put up I'm not smart enough? What if they don't have time for me? All of those things, right? It’s these fear-based mindsets are always going to hold entrepreneurs back.
The third is what I really — The word I think I was looking for a second ago was indulgence. I am used to not liking this person. I'm used to having a controversial relationship with this particular constituency or this customer base. Large automotive companies had an entire damaged set of relationships with dealerships for decades. That was just accepted. It's just accepted. Frankly, I considered it an indulgent to continue to think about one of your major channels as an adversary. That's like a teenager just getting comfortable with the clicks and the people that don’t get along inside of the high school. You see that operating in organizations all the time and people all the time. Whether it's your laziness or your cowardice or your indulgence, the answer is you have no choice and you want to be truly great in this world to find ways to co-create.
[0:19:57.2] MB: What have you found has kind of worked for you in terms of getting people over those hurdles?
[0:20:02.5] KF: Practice. I mean what we do is we don't teach this stuff. We coach it. Showing up over six months with an executive team, opening up different ways to behave with each other is crucial. So that's the key. The key is really trying to unleash a different set of experiences, and once you get people to taste a different way of being, they’ll be, “We want to try it again.”
Small little bites, what I always say to people in Never Eat Alone is you’ve got 250 pages of tons of ideas. Try a couple of them on. If you like them, you’re going to want more. It's just very distinct experiences.
[0:20:45.5] MB: Yeah. I think that's great advice. For me personally, I keep coming back to Never Eat Alone just because there's so much practical advice in there. I kind of implement three or four ideas from it and then I come back and I’m like, “All right. What else can I learn from this thing?” I mean that book is probably been out, what? 10 years, and I’ve read a lot of other books about relationship building and I keep coming back and I’m just like, “If I just execute what's in this book, I'm going to 10 X the effectiveness of my relationship building strategies.”
I'm curious, for someone like you who's obviously become incredibly successful, how is that impacted either sort of positively or negatively or changed the way that you pursue kind of relationship building broadly, but specifically a lot of the tactics and strategies you talk about within that read alone.
[0:21:34.2] KF: Frame the question again a little differently. You’re saying how does these mindsets changed the way I've evolved in treating relationships?
[0:21:42.7] MB: Yes. Since you know since you've become more successful and grown so much since the launch of the book, how has that impacted, either in a positive or negative way, the way that you think about relationship building and the strategies you use?
[0:21:56.1] KF: Yeah. It’s interesting. In the old days, I had no currency. Nobody knew who I was. I was a poor kid from Pittsburgh, and I had to, of course, assume it's all on me. There was no assumption that anybody wanted to spend time with me, so I had to bust my ass to bring all the currency to the table. But the question is once I've had more success and there are more abundant set of individuals who would like to co-create with me. Now the question is filtering, and getting a better sense for where to put time and energy.
I have the say that as long as I keep grounded what the core mission is and consistently put that out there to people and ask, “Is this something you share with me? Is this mission to change the way —”My view is I want to change the way the world relates through the workplace. I have found that by changing a way a leader shows up as an executive in the workplace and ends up makes that leader a better spouse and a better parent, that's where my livelihood is. If other people share that with me, then I'll find time for the co-creation. Knowing you audience better than I do, help me understand a few parting words that you think — Like what do think is on their mind having head all of these?
[0:23:26.7] MB: I mean I think the two lessons you shared specifically regarding kind of co-creation make a ton of sense, and I think we’ve talked about a little bit some of the hurdles that involve that. One of the questions we submit to our audience when we have guests coming on board and we ask them to ask some questions. One of the questions that a listener had which may tie into this is from Maddie in Chicago, Illinois. She wanted to know for young professionals, when’s kind of the right time to start thinking about implementing a lot of these ideas?
[0:23:56.9] KF: Well I started when I was in fifth grade. Does that count? The bottom line is this has to be a new set of behaviors that you try on and wear. We talked about earlier, how do you get this mindset to shift? Practice. The earlier you practice, the more likely that these behaviors are going to be yours for a lifetime, beginning to build that bridge network.
I wish in retrospect — I just went to my college reunion and I was reasonable then, but I wish I'd known what I know now then, and I would’ve build much more deeper, longer-lasting relationships with a subset of the movers and shakers at the time that were at my university, because these people are running the world today and some of whom I know loosely and can certainly reach out to as a fellow classmate, but I didn't sustain those relationships. All around us are extraordinary people, hang out with extraordinary, build those relationships for the long-term, and that will be your growth trajectory and an area of opportunity for yourself.
Matt and Austin, I appreciate your time, and thank you so much for exposing my ideas to your audience. I love what you guys are doing and I appreciate the affiliation of success.
[0:25:10.7] MB: Absolutely. One just quick question, where can people find you and your work online for listeners that want to do some more homework?
[0:25:17.5] KF: Yeah, please. I have a great newsletter which is free that goes out to those who really want to put these practices in place. You can reach me at keithferrazzie.com or just on LinkedIn. Sign up to follow us there. Those would be the best places.
If you want to be a part of our newsletter, you can text my name. Just text Keith, K-E-I-T-H to 66866. So if you type in 66866 and type in my name, Keith, it will instantly sign you up for my newsletter, or go to my website.
[0:25:54.0] MB: Keith, thank you so much for coming on the show. I know we didn't have a lot of time today, but we really appreciate your wisdom, and you're one of the most insightful thinkers about relationship building and I think the advice you offered today is incredibly practical.
[0:26:07.9] KF: Thanks, gentleman. I look forward to staying in touch and doing something again in the future.
[0:26:13.0] MB: Thank you so much for listening to the science of Success. We created this show to help you, our listeners, master evidence-based personal growth. I love hearing from listeners. If you want to reach out, share your story or just say hi, shoot me an email. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. That's M-A-T-T@successpodcast.com. I love to hear from you and I read and respond to every listener email.
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