Winning Friends, Influencing People

How to Win Friends and Influence People

I am often asked what books or people influenced the most in my life.  There are so many books, quotes, poems and stories that have changed my thinking and helped form me to become the person I am now.  There are however only a few books that I return to almost every year when I feel that I need to review the lessons written on those pages.  I just finished re-reading a classic by Dale Carnegie, a book that has been read by countless leaders and influencers over the past eight decades since it’s original publication.  If you are looking for one of the most powerful and useful books ever written, read How to Win Friends and Influence People.  The lesson are timeless and applicable no matter who you are.  It is a textbook on how to communicate with others and influence others to your ways of thinking.  At the end of each chapter is a recap about the lesson of that chapter. I have listed those principles below because I believe they may help others.  For more in depth stories about how these principles have been used throughout history, you will have to read the book in it’s entirety. Enjoy…and take notes.

How to Influence Others

1.Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

2.Give honest and sincere appreciation.

3.Arouse in the other person an eager want.

Making People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest..
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

Win Others to Your Way of Thinking

  1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
  2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “you’re wrong.”
  3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
  4. Begin in a friendly way.
  5. Get the other person saying “yes, yes” immediately.
  6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
  7. Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
  8. Try to honestly see things from the other person’s perspective.
  9. By sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
  10. Appeal to nobler motives.
  11. Dramatize your ideas.
  12. Throw down a challenge.

Be a Leader: Change people without resentment

  1. Begin with honest praise and appreciation. 
  2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
  3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
  4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
  5. Let the other person save face.
  6. Praise the slightest improvement and every improvement.
  7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
  8. Use encouragement. Make the faults seem easy to correct.
  9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
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Where Are You Going?

Know Where You Are Headed

I don’t know if you feel the same, but I’m sick of hearing that “life is a journey” and that “it’s about the journey, not the destination”.  These cliches do very little good for anyone and more that’s likely believing them can actually hold someone back from achievement.  I agree that it is important to be mindful of what you are experiencing in the moment and be grateful for the experiences we have in life, but I would argue that if life is a journey, all journeys should have a destination.  In other words, there should be a direction or a target in which you set out to reach or you will end up aimless and drifting though life.  In my experience, the majority of unhappy people are not unhappy because they failed to reach a goal or hit a target.  They are unhappy because they have no idea what they want, where they are headed and feel like they have no control over what is happening in their life.  In other words, if you don’t set a destination for your journey, life will happen TO YOU, not FOR YOU. 

While hitting targets and reaching goals is important for a sense of fulfillment and importance,  I would suggest the real power lies in setting the goal, not reaching it.  Making a decision about the direction your life is headed in shows yourself and others that you have agency in your own existence.  It’s not possible to always achieve every goal we set due to unforeseen circumstances that are outside our control.  But missing a target is much better for a sense of well being that having to target at all.  Aimlessness is a tragedy that will throw your life off track.  Having a sense of purpose and direction is vital to feeling alive and happy in my opinion. That is why we must be careful about internalizing platitudes that are perpetuated online if they allow us to rationalize away the fact that we have not decided what we want from life.  We have to decide what we ask from life.

I admit that it is difficult to know exactly what we want in life at all times.  This is especially true when we are young.  But having a general sense of what makes us happy and what type of life we would like is important.  If you have no idea what you want from life and your philosophy is that “you are just here to enjoy the ride” or some other similar philosophy, I can guarantee you that at the very least you will continually wonder what your purpose is and you will often be at the mercy of others who have a created a plan for their life.  Of course, plans change and destinations must be adjusted or postponed for external events- that’s just life.  But that doesn’t mean we should give up on setting goals and targets for ourselves.  These are essential for our well being.  If life is a truly a journey, it would do us all well to remember the final destination is death.  It is up to you to decide what destinations you’d like to see along the way before the journey ends. 

What Do You Have a Right To?

Enough About Your Rights

This post will be short and may sound like a rant, but I feel the need to clarify the difference between actual “rights” and things people wish they had. In today’s social media environment, there are so many millions who like to say that they have a “right” to free education, a “right” to free healthcare, a “right” to a certain income. These are not rights. These are wants. No one has a right to ask something to be free while others are paying for the service. In fact, there are only a few rights that exist to humans. Among them are the right to life, liberty and property. That’s it!

This means that you have a right to your life- no one else has a claim on it. You have a right to own property, which comes from the fact that you own your body and what your body produces via work in the marketplace. Lastly, you have the right to liberty, meaning that no one else has a right to initiate violence or aggression against you, nor do you have a right to do so to anyone else. Liberty means that so long as you are not violating another person’s life or property, or initiating aggression against another, you are essentially free to go about your business. These are really the only rights that exist for all humans. Just as you have no right to a free car, because you would be violating someone else’s property and liberty by taking one, you also do not have a right to free college (because someone would have to pay to service your education- a violation of their property, their money and time). The same goes for health care. As long as someone is spending time and energy to service your health care, they must be compensated. You do not have a right to ask others to pay for what you are receiving. That would be a violation of their property- their money. You have no right to a “universal income” without producing valuable work to earn income. Even if the government is paying, other individuals are truly the ones on the hook for what the government spends.

I apologize if this all sounds harsh. You may have been told you have endless rights to many things. Much of this is due to that fat that government are engaged in other activities and spending on programs besides concerning itself with protecting your liberty and property. Government should exist to protect your rights and that’s it. You do have rights after all. You have the right liberty, life and property. You have the right to not have others violate your rights. You do not have a right to violate other’s life, liberty or property. You do not have the right to ask for a product or service for free, because someone must spend their labor and money to support that product or service, so asking it for free would be a violation of their rights. It’s also worth noting that groups do not have rights. Only individuals, all individuals have rights. You do not have special rights because you identify with a certain group of people. Nor do you have less rights because you’re a part of a group. You have the same rights- life, liberty and property.

In Liberty,

Sean

Being World-Class

What it Takes to be World-Class

Being a business owner for more than a decade, I have been forced to become a student of the marketplace. It’s my opinion that the only businesses that will continue to thrive in the coming years are those who are determined to be world-class. Not just good or even great, but only world-class organizations will be able to navigate the rapidly changing and volatile business climate. Unfortunately, good enough will not cut it the way it used to in generations past. Technology has vastly improved our lives, but it has also created increased competition in the work place and removed many of the boundaries and limitations businesses have, leading to more businesses being able to compete in a global marketplace. Businesses who compete in a crowded marketplace will all eventually reach the same fate unless they are able to break out and become world-class. What follows is what I believe makes a company (or an individual) world-class:

1. Inspire a feeling in people- World-class companies inspire certain feelings in others. It’s as if there is something special the company does, and other people want to be a part of what is special. A world-class company has no problem finding great people to join the organization because great people want to be around other great people. Think about world-class companies- Apple, Disney, Lego, Rolex, Ferrari, all of them can be associated with some special feeling. The best companies make people feel special about buying their product or being part of their team. They inspire a sense of pride.

2. Obsess about being the best at only a few key things- World-class companies and individuals understand that in order to be the best in the game, their focus has to be on being the best and doing what it takes to achieve that distinction. World-class performers know that only the best get recognized and acknowledged long-term. For world-class companies, it’s about leaving a legacy and only being one of the best companies will ensure that. The key is to only focus on the things you can be world-class at and not be distracted by those you cannot.

3. Work to be better all the time- The best understand they must constantly work to improve or they will not be the best for long. For people, progress equals happiness and the same goes for companies. For world-class companies, making progress is a necessity.

4. Fixing and anticipating problems before they arise- Problems are a part of life and business. The longer you live or stay in business, new problems will arise that will force you to grow and adapt. World-class companies differ in that they are able to anticipate problems before they occur because they have fully thought through and tested their ideas. If problems do occur, world-class performers are quick to make it right for the client.

5. Almost anyone would recognize its greatness- This almost goes without saying. World-class and greatness are almost synonymous. It’s worth repeating though the greatest companies and performers are recognized by others outside the industry as being world-class. The reputation of world-class companies is important to uphold. Without it people recognizing

6.People talk about the high quality and refer others without hesitation- Great companies make it exceptionally easily for clients to refer them to others. World class companies’ products are like a status symbol. Having the product or service means something, it stands for something.

7. Paying attention to details- The gardeners at Disneyland are meticulous about exactly how they plant the flowers and which way the plants are facing. The janitors, also known as cast members are careful to pick up trash and clean spills immediately. They take pride in making the clients experience a special one. This happens by paying attention to detail. The beautiful wrapping of an Apple product illicit a special feeling in the customer because they understand the company they are doing business with is paying attention to detail. When a car’s upholstery is hand stitched, the same attention to detail allows the business’ driver to take pride in doing business with them. Clients of world-class companies are happy to do business with them. This matters a great deal because the client knows if the company can pay attention to detail, they will pay attention to them as a person, even care about them! Focussing on details as well as the overall picture is what separates good from world-class.

I’ve struggled to move up from being good or great at certain things to world-class. Like many things in life, even if you have a roadmap on how to get somewhere, it can be exceptionally difficult to actually get there. In fact, most just look at the arduous journey and never take the first step. Still others, try for a while and then move on to something else or settle for “good enough”. My sincere desire is that everyone become world class at one thing in their lives. A world-class parent, athlete, student, philosopher, teacher, salesperson, employer, employee, CEO, speaker, actor- anything that helps other people. I think we should all strive to be world-class at whatever we do. After all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing right, and world-class companies do it right more often than not.

In Heath,

Sean

Dealing with Loss

Something Worth Considering

Much grief and despair that humans experience is due to some loss in our lives. We either lose someone or something and we feel pain because of this. We become attached to certain relationships and possessions. When we lose what we are attached to, immense pain occurs. Pain is a natural part of life and there is no way to eliminate completely from our lives. However, I think that it’s worth considering that when it comes to loss, it would serve us well to remember that we don’t actually own anything in this life except our own bodies and mind, and even those can be taken from us. Therefore, becoming too attached to people and things is actually a cause for pain that can be reduced because everything we perceive that we have in life is actually on loan to us. Circumstances outside our control can take these things away at any time without warning. Indeed our very lives are just on loan to us by nature, the universe, God, whatever term you prefer. Like a car at the end of the lease, we will have to turn ourselves back in to the dealership.

Should we walk around dwelling on the fact that we truly own nothing in this life? I don’t believe that is the best way to live. Instead, I think that quietly recognizing the fact that we don’t really have control over anything except our own mind and actions can help us actually reduce the pain we feel when we lose something or someone. The Stoics referred to this practice as negative visualization- by contemplating the reality that we will eventually lose everything and everyone in our lives, we can prepare ourselves and reduce the sting of the loss when it occurs. The practice can also lead to a greater appreciation fort the people and things in our lives. Because nothing lasts forever, we can learn to take nothing for granted and appreciate all we have just a little more. The pain of loss can also be lessened just by remembering that we were lucky to have been blessed with certain people and things in the first place. Eventually, we will lose everything, including our own existence, so we should actually learn to enjoy what we have a little more.

Again, nothing can ever stop the feelings of pain nor the grief associated with loss. But we can learn to reduce that pain by practicing negative visualization. The real key to satisfaction is wanting and enjoying what you already have, not in yearning for something else. Remembering that everything is temporary, we can learn to enjoy our time living. Life is beautiful exactly because it is temporary. So treat people a little better, appreciate your relationships a little more, enjoy material things without becoming too attached to any of them. Attachment leads to unnecessary pain because loss is inevitable. Enjoyment without attachment, that’s the simple formula for fulfillment. Just remember this, what is simple is not always easy!

In health,

Sean

Why Sales Should Matter to You

Sales 101

Too many people have a negative connotation about the term sales. Some think that engaging in sales in unimportant or even dishonest. I would like to clear the air about what sales really is and why it matters to you. This may blow your mind, but every single person is engaged in selling. Everyone. Sales or selling is simply the ability to communicate the value of whatever you are doing. When you were interviewed for a job, you were selling your abilities. If you started a company, you had to sell prospects on the value of your ideas or products. If you are a parent, you must persuade, or sell your children on the importance of doing things a certain way. Even if your job is cleaning, or something not directly associated with sales, you must still sell the idea that what you are doing is useful to your bosses and keep your performance of a high caliber if you want to retain your position. We are all salespeople.

Most of us think that only those involved in direct sales, like selling a product or service and overseeing the transaction of money is sales. But the truth is, that in the marketplace, we are all salespeople. Christopher Columbus was a great salesman because he persuaded the Queen of Spain to give him three ships so that he may find a faster route to the East by sailing West. He didn’t offer any guarantees, but his expedition turned out to be more profitable for the Spain than he or the Queen ever imagined. It’s very important to remember that persuasion is sales. Nothing sells itself. One must be persuaded to buy something, or join something, or hire someone. That is why I believe sales is the most underestimated skill that one can have.

Of course, there are good and bad salespeople. If you’re not where you want to be, it’s because you haven’t sold enough people, or the right people on the value of what you bring to the marketplace. You can be bad at sales through lack of communication, lack of confidence and lack of empathy for the other party. You can also be a bad salesperson by being and outright liar, but that relates back partially to not having empathy. Take note; the three keys to being a successful salesperson are 1.Having incredible confidence in yourself and your product. 2. The ability to communicate value to that others are persuaded agree with you. 3. Having empathy for the other party so that you can properly meet their needs. The last key is the most important because it ensures that you are meeting the customers needs in a way that benefits both parties because this will lead to many more sales and clients coming your way. Having all three is what leads to becoming a great salesperson. The best part is that all of these skills can be learned. No one is born a salesperson. They must develop the skills to persuade.

As the marketplace changes and more jobs and workplaces are becoming automated, sales will be the one skill set that will continue to be needed by all companies. As I mentioned earlier, nothing sells itself. So the people that are able to meet client needs by communicating the value of a product or service will always be in demand. I’m always looking for incredible sales people. I love people who have so much confidence in themselves and the product that they believe not selling someone on the product is actually a disservice to that person because nothing else will meet their needs as well! I hope that cleared up the air on sales. You are in sales. I am in sales. The kid who convinces his parents to let him eat candy is in sales. Everyone is in sales! Now go out and show others how you can meet their needs the best.

In health,

Sean

The Problem With Passion

The Problem With Passion

We are often told to find something we are passionate about to do for our work because it will make us happy. I think this is terrible advice. How many people tried out their passion in the marketplace and ended up on unemployment and food stamps? Where do you think the term “starving artist” comes from? Don’t get me wrong, if you can find something you’re passionate about and also make a good living doing, that’s fantastic! But first and foremost, making money is about providing value to others in the marketplace. Finding an occupation that others value and are willing to pay for is the fastest way for most people to produce income. You may not be passionate about what you are doing, but at least you can fulfill financial needs. After you accumulate some savings, you may be able to start a side business based around something you are really passionate about and make it flourish. However, there are a couple of warnings that I would offer regarding mixing passion and work…

1.What you are passionate about today may change in the future. I can tell you from personal experience that what I was really passionate about in the past, I no longer have any interest in. Some things I believe I will always be passionate about- fitness, business, writing. But some things like Magic the Gathering and wrestling, which I used to be very passionate about, no longer do it for me. If I had decided out of high school to start a business selling comics and playing cards, or becoming a wrestler, I imagine that I’d be wildly unhappy today. I’d probably also be struggling to make ends meat.

2.Work and business have a tendency to make you question whether you are really passionate about something. In other words, it can lead some people to actually hate what they used to be passionate about. For example, I learned very quickly after I opened a health club, that my passion for bodybuilding and fitness had nothing to do whatsoever with actually owning and running a health club. My skills as a bodybuilder did not translate into increased revenues, decreased business expenses, higher employee morale, or anything necessary to make my businesses a success. Also, as some members of my clubs will tell you, I have a problem with buying too much new equipment because I like it personally rather than examining whether it truly adds value to the customer experience or the value of the business as a whole. If I’m being totally honest, my passion for fitness has faded at times because now I associate many new problems and stresses with something that is my passion. That is a very difficult thing for most people to handle emotionally. It has taken me many years to figure out how to separate training with the realities of owning a training facility.
3.Being passionate about something does not necessarily mean that you will be good at doing it for a living, nor does it mean that you were meant to do it. What I’m trying to hint at here, is that your purpose in this life may not be what you believe you are passionate about. If you are very lucky, you will find passion in your purpose. If this is the case, you will be one of the few who can produce income, by doing what you like and also by helping others (purpose). I suggest that you look for purpose first, then try to find what it is about fulfilling your purpose that you can be passionate about. For instance, as a bodybuilder and health club owner with auto-immune disease, I can build businesses for others to become healthy and transform themselves, and also serve as an example for overcoming certain disabilities. I can’t do that only by lifting weights though. No one is going to pay me for lifting weights and doing cardio. (I wish they would.) I can, however use my passion for lifting and mix it with my purpose (helping others overcome obstacles). This is why I continue to own health clubs as opposed to doing all passive investing in things like real estate.
4. Passion often does not mix with logic. The Stoics advised us to always use reason instead of emotion, because they understood that our emotions can deceive us. Have you ever been in an argument and said some atrocious things? Looking back you may realize that saying those things were not useful in the least and you regret not thinking before speaking. This is an example of letting passion overcome reason. Eleanor Roosevelt was once complimented on her “passion” for getting social legislation passed. She responded “I hardly think the word passion applies to me.” The First Lady understood that she she was driven by something more important than passion. She was driven by purpose. If she let herself become too passionate about anything, she may have forgotten reason to ensure that her purpose was realized. Eleanor Roosevelt understood that purpose is more useful and longer lasting than passion.

So beware any advice suggesting that if you always follow your passion, you’ll be happy. You may not. Passions fade. Passions confuse our ability to reason. What we are passionate about today may change. Perhaps no one will pay us to engage in our passion. Instead, focus on mixing purpose with passion. Finding you purpose and then finding areas where you can be passionate about that purpose will lead to far more fulfillment and likely far more income than choosing to follow a career based on passion alone.

In health,
Sean