The Greenlight Highlight: How A Young Professional Practices Relationship Mastery To Serve and Succeed

Maxwell Lyons
Sydney, Australia (as of three weeks ago)
Greenlight Member Since: July 2010

Elevator Pitch: “I love being stretched and attempting to play above my current capacity. Born and raised in a small town in Idaho, I owe so much of the success I’ve had in life to the relationships I’ve developed.”

What experience in your past was the moment you recognized how important relationships are to your success? 

I grew up valuing friendships, but hated “networking”. I viewed it as pretending to be something and someone you are not, and that never sat well with me. After I read Never Eat Alone, it flipped what I thought about networking on its head and showed me that my friends and my business contacts could be one in the same. That’s the moment it clicked for me that relationships can be powerful, as well as fun, in the professional world.

What’s the coolest things you’re working on at home or at work right now?

Right now I’m in Sydney, Australia on a one-year program through Hillsong, my church in NYC. I’ve always been passionate about volunteering and helping people. I felt the need to take a year off from work and enroll in this program. It’s a leadership college that involves taking classes on leadership and applying it to various volunteer opportunities around Sydney. I’m just getting started – literally one day ago and I arrived in Sydney 3 weeks ago to get acclimated.

What relationship building skills and strategies are you applying to the project you just told us about?

Because of the strong relationships I’ve built at Accenture, they were gracious enough to give me a one year leave of absence. I expect to put my relationship skills to work immediately in my work here in Sydney. The ability to connect with people in a real and authentic way will be important to my work in this program.

What’s your most effective relationship action planning routine? The one you renew and repeat with the most success? 

Basic pinging has been the most critical skill that I use to maintain closeness with those in my network. It’s takes so little effort and means so much to the person receiving the ping. Just a quick 5-10 word text or email can have a huge impact.

What positive results have you noticed in your life since you started putting the strategies of relationship mastery to work?

When I first joined Accenture, I was blissfully ignorant. Being brand new, I didn’t have a feel for the hierarchy and the typical channels of communication. As a result, I would go straight to the heads of divisions that I wanted to get to know and apply the myGreenlight concepts. That brazenness (or ignorance) really worked for me. I didn’t have time to let fear and negative thoughts keep me from making the relationships I wanted to make a reality happen and the result was a new group of very influential friends at our firm.

Are there any successes from the myGreenlight program that you can quantify, specific to either your business/revenue or your network?

After reading the books and following the program, I have built a RAP around 1100 contacts that I care about and work on managing relationships with continuously. During the holidays I pull the whole list and shoot out an email to that list. I also ping as I think of them and share items of interest. Before I left New York, I sent all my New York City contacts an email to let them know I was leaving and invited them to a single destination where they could come and say goodbye. About 200 people came out to say farewell. It’s very cool when a bunch of friends from different areas of your life come together and you get to cross-pollinate social circles. That strategy works well for me to conduct social arbitrage.

Have there been any challenges in your life that you’ve been able to solve by applying the mindsets and process of relationship mastery? 

I did have one challenge in my first year in New York. I was charging head first on the myGreenlight program and I overloaded my schedule with too many one-on-one hangouts. Even on weeknights, I wasn’t getting home until after midnight. These one-on-one hangouts are awesome in the right circumstances, but in retrospect, I should have consolidated meetings and allowed these people to meet each other. It took me a bit to realize that I wasn’t being very efficient and to make an adjustment. On the last night I was in New York I had a dinner at a Thai restaurant before my going away get together with 20 close friends, many of whom didn’t know each other. I followed Keith’s suggestions on setting the right ambiance for conversation and intimacy and it was a huge success. Introducing some of my mutual friends has resulted in new sets of best friends within my network.

Max, any parting words of wisdom to those considering or in the myGreenlight program?

Growing relationships is a process. It’s hard to change your entire lifestyle and how you’ve thought about relationships up until now overnight. For me it has been a long process. I started to see success initially, but committing to that process is what brought the real long-term rewards. Commit to the process, it will be worth it.

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