Bob Burg is an author, speaker and expert on how to succeed in today’s business world. By sharing his knowledge with Fortune 500 Companies, franchises and direct sales organizations, Bob has become a prominent resource for many business leaders. I invite you to read my interview with Bob as he shares his beliefs on leadership and the ever changing world of business.
Mike Goldman: We seem to both be members of the very small pool of business parable writers. What inspired you to write The Go Giver and It’s Not About You as stories instead of standard non-fiction books?
Bob Burg: My first few books had been “how-to” nonfiction, including my biggest seller up to that point, Endless Referrals. However, I’d always enjoyed reading business parables and felt they were a great way to connect with a reader in such a way that the message could be received while in an entertaining, easy-to-read and absorb format. For a while, I’d carried around the idea of taking the basic premise of Endless Referrals, which was that, “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust” and putting it in a parable format. Fortunately, I was able to team up with the brilliant writer/storyteller, John David Mann and collaborate on what eventually became The Go-Giver. It’s Not About You was our second parable together which just seemed like a good follow-up to the original.
MG: I’m a big fan of your “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.” For readers who might not be familiar, these are:
The Law of Value
The Law of Compensation
The Law of Influence
The Law of Receptivity
The Law of Authenticity
MG: For someone who really wants to succeed, is one of these laws more important than the others? How can they start to apply it to their own life?
BB: Thank you for your kind words, Mike. In answer to your question, while Law #1 is the foundational law, none of them are any more important or less important than the others. Without applying all five one can never reach their full success potential. After all, no matter who you are or what business you are in (assuming it’s a free-market environment where no one is forced to do business with you) you must always give more in “use value” than you take in payment, or cash-value (Law #1). Otherwise the customer will not buy from you. Of course, this doesn’t mean you don’t make a profit. Typically, go-givers make an excellent profit and tend to sell at the higher end of the price spectrum. The reason is that they are selling on high-value rather than low price. And, a person will only buy when they feel they are receiving more in use value than what they are paying. Of course, since price and value are two different things (price is finite while value is the relative worth or desirability of something to the end user), the seller can give significantly more in value than what they take in payment and make a very substantial profit.
After that, you must also impact the lives of many people with the exceptional value you provide (Law #2). You must place the interests of your customers first (Law #3). Again, they are buying from for their reasons, not your reasons. You must be authentic (Law #4) or people will not trust you. And, you must also be willing to receive abundantly (Law #5). So, all the laws work together wholistically.
Regarding how one can start to apply these laws into their own lives and businesses, you simply begin by beginning. Taking action is the key. You don’t have to do it perfectly but you do need to begin. And, of course, the how-to aspect of each of these laws can be learned and perfected with both study and action.
MG: You’ve talked about the importance of building a network of “Personal Walking Ambassadors”, what is a “Personal Walking Ambassador”? How can you build a network of them?
BB: A Personal Walking Ambassador is a person who not only “knows, likes and trusts you”…they are a person who believes in you and wants to see you succeed. They will go to bat for you. They have your back. And, it isn’t one way. They know you feel the same way about them and are there for them, as well. Develop this kind of network and you become that center of influence; that go-to person with a fantastic reputation. You’ll also be the recipient of a very large and profitable referral-based business.
You build a network of them individual relationship by individual relationship; by always looking for ways to bring value to those whose lives you touch. As one of the mentors in the story, Sam, told the protégé, Joe… “by making your win about the other person’s win.”
MG: In my own work and in my book, Performance Breakthrough, I focus on the importance of passionate teams to overall business success. You presented a number of lessons for leaders in your book It’s Not About You: A Little Story About What Matters Most in Business. What do you think is the most important lesson to be learned for a leader who wants his team to excel?
BB: You’re doing such important work by having that as a focus. I think that it always goes back to the leader understanding that it isn’t about themselves but rather about those people whose lives they are trying to impact. And, there’s nothing Pollyanna about that. If you note the greatest leaders and top influencers, this is simply how they conduct their businesses. It’s how they lead.
With that in mind, it’s important to understand what moves your team members as individuals. A team is made up of individuals. An effective team is made up of individuals who understand that by putting the good of the team before themselves toward their common goal they are actually creating a win for themselves, as well.
I always loved what Dale Carnegie said in his classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People – “Ultimately, people do things for their reasons, not our reasons.” So, the effective leader asks themselves questions such as, “How does what I’m asking this person to do align with their goals; their needs, their wants, their desires?” And, to the degree you ask yourselves these questions and are willing to ask them and listen to their answers and make the connections between that and what you want the team to accomplish, your chances of leading a successful team increase dramatically.
MG: I agree with you that the creation of real value has to come first for both business and individual success. Why do you think that so many people have a hard time with this idea?
BB: If they have a hard time with the idea itself it’s because they haven’t been exposed to that as a way of successful doing business and living life. What I find, more often than not, is that even when people do intuitively understand that the value must come first (or even if it’s something they have learned) they have difficulty applying it.
One big reason for this is that, as human beings, we see the world from our own unique viewpoint, what I call our Belief System. Based on a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, popular entertainment, etc. it’s simply how we see the world. Interestingly, our personal belief system is pretty much set in stone by the time we are little more than toddlers and everything after that simply adds to the basic foundational premise.
So we grow up and live our lives driven by our personal belief systems that we’re not even consciously aware are driving us (our unconscious operating system). And, as human beings, we tend to believe that everyone else sees the world pretty much the same way.
The result? What we see as being of value is what we assume our prospective customer understands to be of value, as well. And, that is not necessarily the case.
The key is to understand that “Value is always in the eyes of the beholder.” It’s what they find to be of value, not what we find to be valuable. So, we must be able to match the benefits of our product or service with THEIR needs, wants, and desires.
As we like to say, “Money is simply an echo of value. It’s the thunder to value’s lightning.” So, the value must come first, and the money you receive is simply a very natural result of the value you’ve provided. And, your focus must be on discovering what they find to be of value.
And, this holds true for all aspects of our lives, not just business.
To learn more about Bob, visit. Burg.com.