The RAP that Made Keith Ferrazzi a First-Time CEO

In this video, Keith Ferrazzi describes the relationship strategy that transitioned him from CMO of Starwood to CEO of an innovative startup of its day. Hope you enjoy it!

Have you ever sat down and consciously written out a relationship strategy to achieve specific goals? Did it help?

James Altucher: Groping His Way to Success

Here are a selection of things people have said about James Altucher that you can find on the Internet:

“Hedge fund hotshot”

“the best blogger of our generation”

“i’m going to kill him and eat his remains”

“an entrepreneurial savant”

“I hope you’re not starting a cult but if you are, I want in…”

“an absolute moron”

“a genius”

Like many of the examples and case studies used in the myGreenlight curriculum, the guests on the Social Capitalist are often smooth, connected players with the right pedigree, the right suits, always ready to say the right thing. James Altucher is none of those things. His pedigree is a portfolio of astounding failures. His dress is less Wall Street than Occupy Wall Street, if the movement employed an IT guy. And above all, the things Altucher says inevitably piss off at least half the people who hear him say them.

That’s what makes it so remarkable that Altucher has grown a loyal tribe of hundreds of thousands that read his blog, opened doors to everyone from the super-secretive hedge funder Steven Cohen to Mad Money’s Jim Cramer, and built enduring relationships while reinventing himself and his career in multiple industries. He’s done it as an outsider, with an unorthodox style. And there are some powerful lessons to learn from that style:

You’re afraid. Now you have a choice: Fit in or stand out.

Much of the work world is built around your fear and giving you a way to hide from it. There will always be someone around to tell you how to fit in. Because it’s not too hard to figure out how to fit in, you’ll have no problem finding plenty of examples and advice on what to wear, what to say, and how to act. Standing out is harder. You have the choice in everything you do to stand out or fit in. Fear will always play a role in that decision. There will always be a voice in your head that tells you not to speak up, stand out and do work that matters. Altucher writes: “Fear is the enemy of honesty. Fear of losing clients. Fear of pissing off family. Fear of going to hell. Fear people won’t like you. Fear of being alone. I very much have these fears. But fear never made anyone money or anyone happier or healthier…” It’s not that Altucher isn’t afraid; he’s always afraid but he knows the choice to stand out is the only one that can bring him success. Continue reading

An Easy Introduction that Guarantees They’ll Want to Hear More

Introducing the first community member guest post on the myGreenlight Blog! Our first featured guest is Rebecca Rapple who helps good people get great jobs by teaching motivated job seekers how to standing out effectively. Join The Fast Track, her free newsletter for practical tips & jolts of inspiration! -KS

Many of you are familiar with the ideas of leading with generosity and deep listening. I believe that they are the keys to success – in business, in life and in growing your network.

Granted, it can be hard to lead with generosity when meeting someone for the first time. Most of these introductions begin with formalities – “What do you do?” It’s not easy to make such an introduction generous, but your introduction can be effective, engaging AND generous all at the same time – a triple win!

Leading with effective generosity is simple. Reframe your “elevator pitch” into a Super Hero Story (into a problem that you solve). Then, rather than use “What do you do?” as an opportunity to talk about yourself, use it as an opportunity to invite your new acquaintance to share their stories and their experiences about the problem that you solve. In other words, ask them a question.

After they engage you with their experience and stories, you can respond with a heartfelt and personalized message about how to make their specific challenges easier. They get to share, you get to make the perfect pitch: everyone wins!

Here’s an example to help you clarify how to use this yourself:

Ryan, a Technical Project Manager, Strikes up a Conversation at an Event

Hello! I’m Ryan, how are you doing today?

Hi Ryan, I’m Sarah. It’s been quite the event this morning. So, tell me Ryan, what do you do?

“Well, do you mind if I ask you a question? How is the communication between your IT department and sales team?”

Ugh, don’t get me started. It’s like they are from different worlds – and talk about competing priorities! The sales guys always want something custom and the IT team is all about standardization… It’s one of my biggest challenges.”

“I hear that loud and clear – and that is actually what I focus on: improving communication between IT and sales. How do you manage that relationship today?”

As you can see, leading with generosity, with a question about your Super Hero Story, is a very effective way to engage your audience and connect with them on a deeper level. And given that the development of meaningful connections is the surest path to success in business and in life, can you really afford not to lead with generosity?

What are your tips for an effective introduction?

How Legendary Silicon Valley Networker Heidi Roizen Gets Lucky

Before there was Keith Ferrazzi, for me at least, there was Heidi Roizen.  It was about eight years ago when I was a cub reporter for Inc. magazine and I’d read the Malcolm Gladwell profile, “The Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg,” which gave name to those rare types who seem to know everyone and who apply that knowledge to generate a seemingly endless torrent of opportunity.

Lois was a master of creating and managing social capital. Gladwell called such people connectors. He wrote that these connectors’ skill was so distinct and valuable, so vital to any environment dependent on the free-flow exchange of information and skill (which is to say every environment populated by humans) that in some oblique way they run the world. And then, in what seemed at the time a needlessly taunting postscript directed personally at me, Gladwell hypothesized that connectors were born that way. That this powerful skill was innate.

That last part was particularly troubling to me as I had just come to recognize two unsavory realities for an ambitious young man intent on becoming a big success: the reality that a lot of the big successes I was encountering in those days seemed kind of like Lois and the reality that I was nothing like her. What I lacked in sociability, however, I made up for in angry obstinacy. I decided I’d challenge Gladwell’s hypothesis.

The simple plan was to find other Lois Weisberg-types and try to extract a common set of rules and principles by which these people navigate the world. If I could do that, then those rules and principles could be taught. Maybe the only truly helpful documents I discovered early in my research was a Harvard Business Review case study on a woman named Heidi Roizen, the subject of this month’s Social Capitalist interview.

One of the few female power players in Silicon Valley at the time, she had started and sold a successful tech company, become an executive at Apple and then a well-known venture capitalist.  She called both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs friends and was known to have one of the deepest, most extensive networks in the Valley.  She was undoubtedly a connector, and unlike anything else I found, the case study laid out some strategies for how Roizen operates. It convinced me that I was on the right track. Continue reading

Legendary Networker – Heidi Roizen

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Heidi Roizen. Click here for the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – Heidi Roizen. Access the audio recording here. Enjoy!

Tahl Raz:     So what are the big a-has and takeaway for people?  What lessons, both general ideas and concrete strategies, have proven over the years to deliver the most value and create the most change for other people?

Heidi Roizen:     I think that, first of all, just being given some guidelines and being told that you don’t have to be a natural.  That everyone can develop these things gives people some belief in their ability to go out and do things.  And I’m a big believer in, you know, the first step is you got to believe you can go make a change and you can make something happen.  I think the idea also that everyone has something to give.  What do you possibly have to give to someone else?  And by the way, the fundamental approach for me, if you want to boil this case down to one thing to takeaway, it’s don’t approach someone because you want something from them.  Approach someone because you have something to offer.  Now there’s no reason that offer can’t be a win-win for you as well.  But think in terms of what value are you bringing to other people because ultimately, that’s why they’re going to continue to connect with you and they’re going to answer your phone calls and your e-mails and your whatever, is because they see you as someone who can be helpful to them.  And I think that’s a very easy thing to learn, right?  And that’s a very easy thing to test and check as you go out and prosecute your life is when you go out and intend to form a relationship with someone, the first thing you should think is, what value am I to them? Continue reading

Gratitude: The Relational Elixir

Very skilled social capitalists often receive attention for the really clever, grand activities they incorporate into their work life, everything from the organizational systems they implement to the fancy parties they throw. In the context of these elaborate strategies talk of something like the power of expressing gratitude can seem so small and so overblown — until you read the research.

Want a quick booster shot to immediately improve a relationship? A minor thankful gesture, according to the following study, has a transformative impact:

This research was conducted to examine the hypothesis that expressing gratitude to a relationship partner enhances one’s perception of the relationship’s communal strength. In Study 1 (N = 137), a cross-sectional survey, expressing gratitude to a relationship partner was positively associated with the expresser’s perception of the communal strength of the relationship. In Study 2 (N = 218), expressing gratitude predicted increases in the expresser’s perceptions of the communal strength of the relationship across time. In Study 3 (N = 75), participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition, in which they expressed gratitude to a friend, or to one of three control conditions, in which they thought grateful thoughts about a friend, thought about daily activities, or had positive interactions with a friend. At the end of the study, perceived communal strength was higher among participants in the expression-of-gratitude condition than among those in all three control conditions. We discuss the theoretical and applied implications of these findings and suggest directions for future research. (Source: “Benefits of Expressing Gratitude, Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Changes One’s View of the Relationship” from Psychological Science.)

Gratitude doesn’t just immediately improve a relationship, it can make it more productive. Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, covers another study on the power of “thank you” in the workplace:

The simple act of having a boss come by and offer a public thanks to one group, and but not the other, really packed a wallop.  These fundraisers were paid a fixed salary, so Grant and Gino compared the number of phone calls made be each fundraiser before and after the “thank you” intervention.  The results were pretty impressive, as while there was no change in the average number of calls made by the group that was not offered thanks, the folks who heard a warm two sentence thank you from a boss made an average of about 50% more calls during the subsequent week. (Source: “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)

Piling up daily small interpersonal wins with seemingly trivial gestures is the social capitalist’s bread and butter.

Tahl Raz is the host of myGreenlight’s Social Capitalist Series.

Mini Mission Monday

One of the key things that we talk about here at myGreenlight is the idea of strategically linking people to your goals.  In addition to thinking about WHAT you need to do –  if you think about WHO can help, and HOW you can enlist them to do so, success is that much closer at hand.

Look at what you need to get done this week.  Pick one thing and then think about WHO could help make it happen.  How are you going to reach out to them in a generous way? Now, do it.

The Key to a Street Smart Education? Knowing Your Network.

Get the full transcript from the interview here: Social Capitalist – Michael Ellsberg.

The lucky among us learn to succeed modestly on other people’s terms; a rare few learn how to use the world, instead of being used by it. One reason, according to Michael Ellsberg, the author of the forthcoming The Education of Millionaires, is that’s precisely what school prepares us for:

” … most of us have focused our education, in the classroom and beyond, on much lower- leverage knowledge: How to follow orders and be obedient little schoolboys or cubicle jockeys. How to do as we’re told….We’ve basically just trained ourselves to be cogs in a machine.”

Michael, our first guest on The Social Capitalist series, sought out and interviewed America’s self-made, self-educated millionaires and billionaires to discover that one thing they had in common that distinguished them from others. Using rather than being used by the world is less about one particular talent than it is a process of a particular kind of learning that gives these movers and shakers access to what Ellsberg calls higher-leverage knowledge and skills.

It’s a process of street smart self-education that involves connecting with the people who do what you want to do. Actually, not just connecting, but knowing and engaging with them on a deep and personal level. In trying to explain what that engagement means, both the entertainment impresario Russell Simmons and the marketing maven Seth Godin told Ellsberg that it meant creating “flow:” as in not a singular transaction or exchange but a constant current of interactions and information and shared experiences with a particular network.

The more flow you have with the right people, the more experiences you gain access to, the more higher-leverage knowledge you learn (sometimes called street smarts), and soon you’ve developed a skill set and intuitive sense that allows you to recognize opportunities within your field that others overlook, and a confidence to act where others take pause.

Social capital, it turns out, is the real world classroom where achievement is really learned.

Which network of people is providing your self-education? How much flow is there?

For more on the nitty-gritty tactics and strategies of these self-educated entrepreneurs, listen to the podcast, and then be sure to pick up Michael’s book, The Education of Millionaires.