Interview: Co-Author of "The Go-Giver," Bob Burg
- Posted by chicagosean
- on January 8th, 2011
Just after Christmas, I wrote a post titled “2011:A Community of Go-Givers,” where I highlighted an eye-opening book co-authored by Bob Burg and John David Mann titled “The Go-Giver: A little story about a powerful business idea.”
Several people left positive comments on the blog, and many more sent me emails or twitter messages thanking me for turning them on to the book. Believe me when I tell you – the pleasure was all mine.
Highlighting another amazing benefit of the growing awesomeness of social media, I was humbled to be contacted directly by one of the co-authors, Bob Burg, to thank me for sharing his book with my readers. Before twitter and StockTwits, this NEVER would’ve happened! How great is it to read a book that has had a powerful impact on you, share it with your friends, then have the author reach out to say hi?
Delighted to have made Mr. Burg’s acquaintance, I asked him if he wouldn’t mind having a chat with me about how the book came about, how he’s personally lived with the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success which are laid out in the book, and how social media has impacted his business? Graciously, he accepted my request and what follows are excerpts of our conversation. Enjoy…
THE CREATION OF “THE GO-GIVER” WAS A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT WITH JOHN DAVID MANN. WALK US THROUGH HOW THAT WORKED?
John and I had never met in person. John was the editor-in-chief of a magazine I used to write for. So every month, John would take my articles and edit them and send them back, and so forth. And as a writer, you always have a little bit of a defensiveness. You’re worried that an Editor is going to take a really important thing and cut it out in order to make it grammatically correct or make it otherwise fit the page and so forth. But with John, he would send back the articles (via email) and (as a brilliant, yet humble guy) he would say he changed this, or corrected that, etc, and would say he hoped I didn’t mind and would ask if it was ok? But it was always GREAT! It was always so much better than what I had originally written. I’d jokingly write back: “John, you write my stuff better than I write my stuff!”
John is a very gifted writer and story teller. I tend to be much more of the “how-to” type – step one, step two, etc. I had a book out called “Endless Referrals” that was basically a road map or a system for creating a referral business and it is was much more “how-to” from beginning to end. When I started to come up with the basic idea of the “Go-Giver,” I actually tried to write it on my own at first. But I quickly realized there is a very big difference between a “how-to” book and a fictional story.
Meanwhile, I knew that John was the writer behind a couple of very big books, and figured he was the perfect guy to be the lead writer on this because he could work magic with it. John is just such a great writer and story teller. He has a way of making the characters and the storyline come alive. Within a certain genre, John is very well known and he’s a very busy guy. Everybody wants to work with him. So when I’d written to him and asked him if he’d be interested, I hoped he’d have the time. What I learned later from his wife Ana (then fiancé) was that when he kicked around the idea, his initial response was: “I’m really too busy to work on another project right now. But it’s Bob!…I’ve got to at least take a look at it.”
Later, while John and Ana were visiting her mom in Tampa, they made the drive across the state to Jupiter, Florida (where I live) to talk about the book. We went out to dinner one night and just bounced some ideas back and forth. Armed with this discussion, he went home to think about it. And within a few weeks, he emailed me back saying: “I think we’ve got a winner here.” And then we went to work on it, and BOOM – it just kinda happened. He was a real pleasure to work with. Whereas, before we’d just communicate via email regarding the magazine articles I was writing, we’ve since become GREAT friends. So that just goes to show the relationship right there – to know, like, and trust is what opened the door. Without John’s writing skills, this book wouldn’t have been anywhere near as powerful and as successful as its been. He really made it happen.
WHERE DID THESE FIVE LAWS OF STRATOSPHERIC SUCCESS COME FROM? YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCES? OR WERE YOU INSPIRED BY SOMETHING YOU’D READ OR LEARNED ELSEWHERE?
Well, I’m a voracious reader of success materials and studies of people who have been successful. What made them successful? What were their mistakes along the way? I wrote a booklet called “The Success Formula” [www.thesuccessformula.com] that you can read or listen to free online. It only takes about 20 minutes to read it. In it, I boiled everything down to three basic laws of success – very general, of course. And I did this because I love studying that topic.
The “Five Laws of Stratospheric Success” that John and I talk about in “The Go-Giver” – we both had seen them in our own lives. We both had great parents who embodied those laws, even though we hadn’t necessarily been told about them as “laws.” And people we’ve had a chance to do business with have utilized these laws. So we were challenged with: “What was it that hugely successful people do? What have they done? What have WE done to be successful? What DIDN’T we do when we WEREN’T successful? Our answers to these questions helped us come up with those Five Laws of Stratospheric Success.
WAS THERE EVER AN “AHA!” MOMENT?
No, I don’t think it was an “AHA!” moment. I grew up watching my folks like that and I got the impression from John that he did too. I just kind of always knew that it was a way of ‘being’ that works out really well.
DO YOU EVER ENCOUNTER PEOPLE WHO MISUNDERSTAND YOUR MESSAGE?
I wrote a blog post once entitled: “Beware of False Go-Giver Premises,” because when you have a book with the title “Go-Giver,” people often want to take it to an unnatural conclusion. They think that to be a Go-Giver means you mustn’t make a profit or you must be a doormat or somebody’s whipping post. Yet, this book has absolutely nothing to do with any of that.
Being a Go-Giver simply means a person has embraced the philosophy that one can shift their focus from “getting” to “giving” – constantly and consistently adding value to people’s lives – and has come to realize and understand that not only is it a nice way to live life (which I think is pretty intuitive), but it is a financially profitable way as well! That’s really what this term means. So when we say “giving,” we’re really talking about being “other” focused: taking your eyes off yourself (not meaning you take your eye off the ball in business or whatever you do) and putting it on how you can add value to another person. That’s really what we mean.
In “Go-Givers Sell More” (a follow-up book), we make a statement: “Money is an echo of value: it’s the thunder to value’s lightning.” And that’s really just a fancy way of saying – FOCUS ON THE VALUE! Because when you focus on the value, the money is gonna come. Why? Because of some “way-out” thinking? No! It comes because people understand that your focus is on them and on serving them value and therefore they are going to have that “know, like, and trust” toward you. They are going to feel comfortable with you. And they’re going to want to do business with you and refer you to others. Focus on the value, and the money comes. Focus on the money, and that comes across to others either consciously or unconsciously. People will know it’s all about the money and therefore will be less likely to do business with you.
There’s nothing about this that’s some “feel-good theory” that doesn’t actually work in real life. This is how successful people run their lives.
HAVE YOU EVER COME ACROSS A REAL-LIFE PINDAR (the character who is the source of enlightenment in the book)?
We named each of the characters after different people John and I knew in real life, and Pindar was the middle name of one of John’s professors in college. We kind of modeled Pindar off of Bob Proctor because Bob is a guy who has been very successful and is very much a go-giver and he’s always there to help people and provide council. There are others too – it’s kind of a compilation – but Bob is pretty much who we envisioned.
We took compilations of people – or very loosely based characters off of real people – and applied them to the occurrences that happened in the book, many of which actually happened in real life.
The main character Joe was completely made up – we’ve all been Joe at one time or another.
IT’S QUICKLY BECOMING A SOCIAL MEDIA/NETWORKED WORLD. LET’S DISCUSS HOW YOUR “FIVE LAWS OF STRATOSPHERIC SUCCESS” DESCRIBED IN THE GO-GIVER IS THE PERFECT MODEL FOR THIS ENVIRONMENT.
The golden rule of business, sales, and networking is: All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. We can take that and simply shift the medium. We know people don’t do business with and refer business to computers they know, like, and trust! It’s the person sitting at the computer that matters. The key is, how do I provide value to others? It’s the same thing. I have to take the focus off myself and provide value to another person. That is the basic principle involved. You can take the different media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter or Youtube – and there are different strategies certainly based on the medium – but it’s still the same thing. It’s still the relationship. It’s still developing the “know, like, and trust.”
Thanks to the social media tools available today, I’ve gotten to meet people, such as you, that I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet otherwise unless we were introduced by a common friend. I’ve gotten to meet some great people that I’ve not only gotten to be friends with, but have been able to learn from continually and do business with! This NEVER would’ve happened without social media.
I see this very much with you: it’s that the best are all focused on how we can provide value to the other person. As the character Sam said in the book, the best relationships aren’t 50-50, but simply 100. Just keep focusing on the value you can provide and great things happen. Why? Again, it’s not because of some far-out mystical reason. It’s very practical – you’re planting seeds of goodwill everywhere you go! This is how it happens.
So when it comes to social media, find ways to provide value on Twitter, Facebook, through your blogs, Youtube, etc. Each platform is unique, but there are always ways to provide value for others.
YOU STUMBLED UPON MY ORIGINAL BLOG POST ABOUT THE GO-GIVER AND THEN REACHED OUT AND INTRODUCED YOURSELF TO ME ON TWITTER. WHAT EFFECT HAS TWITTER, SPECIFICALLY, HAD ON YOU AND/OR YOUR BUSINESS?
Twitter has had an amazing effect! It really has. The sphere of influence has grown exponentially because of the medium itself. People ask me if social media has replaced person-to-person interaction? No! There is no either/or. There are very few either/or’s. It’s usually AND. The whole thing comes down to the relationship and what Twitter does is it allows you to connect with people you may have otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet – at least so quickly or easily. But you still have to cultivate that relationship.
The way these social media platforms have helped to promote our book is that we’ve been able to cultivate so many great relationships with great people, and it’s certainly the reason this book has sold so much. It isn’t because John and I have gone out and talked to individual people and that’s it. It’s because of people, like you, who have gotten behind it and have had a desire to spread the message to others they know (who they have the “know, like, and trust” relationship with). This way, there is authenticity behind the message and it has happened like that. The process is not as controlled or as controllable as it used to be – the way some of the “old school” people out there like it. That isn’t happening anymore. Believe me, I’ve had to get used to that myself.
MANY OF THE READERS OF THIS INTERVIEW MAY BE INTERESTED TO KNOW: SINCE PUBLISHING THE BOOK, CAN YOU GIVE ANY EXAMPLES OF THE FIVE LAWS WORKING IN YOUR OWN LIFE OR BUSINESS?
These things happen all the time. Ironically, it is almost hard to come up with any one thing. It seems like everything I do that has been successful – and believe me, I’ve done a lot that wasn’t successful – it’s been because of these five laws in one way or another.
One example. There was a potential client that I really wanted to get to because I thought I could add value to their company and to some of their different organizations they had throughout the country. But I wasn’t having any success at all. Not only could I not get my foot in the door…I couldn’t even find the door!
When I first started doing speaking engagements, I attended the National Speakers Association meetings. I had been at it for a little while, my business was growing, but I was still a very new speaker. At one conference, there was a guy there that I had actually met at another previous conference. Met his whole family – wife and two daughters. Just a nice, nice family. He was a Vietnam war hero, had an arm shot off and was missing an eye. But what an inspiring guy! I got to know him pretty well over the next few functions we’d attend. We would hang out and he’d tell me about the various speaking engagements he was involved in. Later, whenever I had a possible engagement with a client, if for whatever reason it wasn’t the right fit or I was already scheduled somewhere, I would refer him to take my place. I didn’t think much of it – just wanted to add value to the client and to my friend.
Well, at this particular conference we were attending together, it got brought up in conversation that this company I was trying to land was a client of his! Now, I didn’t just want to ask him to make an introduction, as I didn’t want to be inappropriate. I knew it was probably a relationship that had taken him a long time to cultivate. But I did ask: “I’d like to introduce myself to someone to build an inroad to prove that I can add some potential value, would you have any advice for me in order to find the door that I need to get my foot in?” His response was “Nonsense! Not an issue at all! I’ll have my contact call you.” And the very next day, I got a call, and I got the booking. And that client over the next few years has accounted for well over a $1 million in business, actually several million!
All this came about as a result of focusing on the other person, touching lives, developing positive influence that people “know, like, and trust,” being authentic about it, and being willing to receive. So that’s basically all the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success right there.
Many thanks to Bob for taking the time to chat with me and to share a little bit about himself and his experiences with my readers. Bob maintains a blog at www.burg.com where you can continue to gain from his wisdom. If you’d like to purchase The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea on Amazon, just click the link.
The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.blog comments powered by Disqus
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