Yesterday I listened in on an “author teleseminar” featuring Tim Ferriss (Four Hour Work Week), Guy Kawasaki (How To Change The World) and Keith Ferazzi (author of Never Eat Alone and Who’s Got Your Back?). The call lasted about an hour. The topic was about creating “lifeline” relationships – a small, close circle of advisors with whom you can let your guard down and get honest feedback for moving ahead in your life.
I just wanted to share with you a few tidbits of advice that I found interesting or useful from the phone call. While these tips may not have anything immediately to do with your finances, they definitely pertain to your overall success in general, and that can definitely include what choices you make regarding how you earn your income and how much income you earn.
But this call was about relationships. And one thing I realized by the end was that whatever holds true for relationship building in one domain will hold true in most domains – blogging, your workplace, or any other field which you hope to enter and succeed it. So if I could boil the call down to several tips, this is what they would be.
Advice from Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki and Keith Ferazzi
1. You can’t succeed all by your lonesome. You will not only need a wider network, but you’ll need a much closer circle of advisors, too.
2. Your network is not the same group as your close, trusted inner circle of advisors. This group is ideally 2-3 people who you can consult with on a weekly basis about all of your ups and your downs. Whereas you probably don’t want to talk about your failures, etc., to those in your wider network whom you’re trying to impress.
3. It’s not lonely at the top, it’s lonely at the bottom. This tip comes from Guy Kawasaki. We all hear the adage about it being lonely at the top, because in theory, the 1% who achieve look “lonelier” than the 99% herd they separated from. But that’s only in the land of numbers. In reality, each major success got to where they are due to the people who helped get them there. This includes spouses, key associates, and mentors of all sorts. So conversely, you’ll stay at the “bottom” if you fail to network and allow others to help you.
4. It takes a certain degree of self-confidence to allow yourself to receive the help of others, yet it’s necessary for growth. This includes constructive criticism. Keith Ferazzi said he used to be quite defensive, kept his guard up, etc. This prevented his own moving ahead and getting real feedback from others.
5. To develop relationships with those “higher-up” than you, you need to lose all sense of entitlement. Don’t call, email or tweet someone you’re not on a close conversational basis with and say “hey, I have a great proposal I think you would be interested in, how about having lunch sometime next week?” – Your mentors, because they are “higher up” than you, are very busy. Make it easy for them. Tim Ferriss didn’t harass his mentors but would only send very brief emails with very pointed, specific questions. And no more than 1 or 2. He’d also give the mentor a “way out” – an easy, polite way to not respond to the email without feeling guilty or troubled by it. Show your mentors that you respect their time.
6. Don’t focus only on relationship-building with people who “look like” they’ve got success up their sleeves – build authentic relationships with the best of the people you naturally gravitate towards and work well with. For example, at Stanford or Harvard many students get sucked into trying to befriend the son or daughter of YZ Big Name company, when they should work on maintaining some of the more interesting friendships they currently have. If these people are interesting enough to you right now, they will probably also be successful later on. Don’t stick to pursuing those who graduated 20 years ago, either. Your time is now. Focus on people doing the interesting things, no matter who they are.
7. Be a member of many peer groups, not just your default one. Another tip from Tim: expand your horizons and make genuine friendships with someone in a different field of study, from a different culture or philosophy, someone with different goals in life. You only need to make one “anchor person” in each group to get access to the rest of that group or social world.
8. Your lifeline relationships don’t have to be best friends, and they may be someone you haven’t even met yet. The important point is how well they work for you. Is it based on mutual trust and generosity? But don’t overdramatize the search for a lifeline friend. You don’t need the relationship to feel serendipitous, there doesn’t need to be special chemistry beyond how effective the relationship works for you.
9. Test the potential for a lifeline relationship by having coffee just to “catch up.” These are people you need to be able to meet over coffee or lunch with and hash out what’s working and not working for you. When looking for a potential lifeline, invite them to a casual, informal cup of coffee or dinner and see how they respond to your questions, vulnerabilities and goals. Do they just turn your questions around and begin talking about themselves again? Are they open to meeting again next week? Is there the potential for growth in the relationship going forward?
10. You may have to “try a few” out to see how responsive and helpful they might be over the long-term. It’s also possible that someone might be a lifeline for a few years then no longer works out due to circumstances. Perhaps they no longer have the time to put in, or they’ve developed interests that take them in a new direction. Accept this, and develop a new lifeline friendship.
Don’t Just Plan, Take Action
As @marcandangel tweeted, “Good planning will help you establish a point A and B. But taking action is the only way to get from point A to B.”
Do you have experience with either of these organizations, or did you also hear the call? Tell me what you think about the relations between leadership, networking and relationship building. How has an “inner circle” worked, or not worked, for you?
One thing I think I can vouch for about planning vs. action is that until you take action, everything you’ve learned is just an image in your head. And until you make it your own by doing something, then you’re always working with images (or thoughts) you’ve got from other people. It’s not that images/thoughts are insufficient in themselves, but they are when they come from elsewhere rather than your own experience. But sometimes, before we make or take our own experiences, we need these images to get us started. They can really help guide one in the right (as well as the wrong!) direction.Related Posts
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