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Interview with Motivational Speaker and author, Bob Burg

Bob Burg Keynote speaker and author Josh Hinds: Bob, can you share your background with us, as well as what has led you to speak and write on the subject of business networking and developing Positive Persuasion Skills?

Bob Burg: Sure Josh. I began as a television news anchor. Being in television was something I wanted to do since about the age of 12. Always thought it would be somewhere in area of sports but turned out that the opening was in news.

Also turned out that, although I enjoyed it, I wasn't the "natural" at it that I thought I would be. The aptitude for understanding the issues and following them quickly and intelligently just wasn't there. I could communicate what was written on paper, but that was about it. Paraphrasing what Sigourney Weaver said to Bill Murray in the movie, "Ghostbusters", "I probably would have made a better game show host." :-).

To earn some extra money (small-market news guys don't make a lot of bread), I began selling advertising time for the station. This led to additional sales jobs and a quest for learning all I could about sales. Of course, in studying sales, we end up studying people and the psychology behind them. I found it to be fascinating. Also, once learning began there was some aptitude there as well.

Being, in my opinion, a "teacher" by nature, it was also enjoyable teaching others the success skills of selling, eventually, working my way up to sales manager of the last company I was with. Then one day, after attending a Zig Ziglar seminar, I knew that's what I wanted to do ... speak. Of course, at the time I had nothing to speak about.

After buying some tapes from a gentleman named Billy Burden, who taught a really good memory course, I went to work distributing/selling his tapes by speaking for free at every civic club, organization or anyplace else that would "allow" me to speak. From there I went out on my own, eventually developing my programs on networking/referrals and positive persuasion skills based on skills I'd learned and acquired throughout the years.

Josh Hinds: What is networking and why should someone care?

Bob Burg: That's such a great question, Josh, and the reason it is is simply because of the preconceived notion that most people have about networking. Most people, when they hear or see that word, immediately picture the stereotypical quick-walking, slick-talking sales manipulator type who's glad handing, shaking hands, and aggressively sticking a business card into the face of everyone they meet saying things such as "hey, give me a call - I'll cut you a deal."

This, of course, has nothing to do with networking. That has more to do with ... hard-selling, which is the antithesis of networking. I define networking as simply, "the cultivating of mutually beneficial, GIVE and take, win/win relationships."

When done correctly, with genuine caring about the other person, their needs, their wants, their goals, and their desires ... and when following a system ... it will result in a dramatic increase in your referrals business.

Lots of referral business. A referral business that makes life and business a lot more fun, a lot less stressful, and a lot more profitable. It's simply a better way of doing business. That's why someone should care.

Josh Hinds: How has having a well-established business network benefited you? And how can someone just starting out, who basically knows no one in his or her area, go about developing their own network of people? What is key?

Bob Burg: First, It's benefited me more than I could ever express or explain. The network, constantly being developed and cultivated, has resulted in such great friendships and business than is imaginable. It has made business so much more profitable and life so much more fun.

Never, could I have grown my speaking business as fast as I did without a network of mentors, fellow speakers and friends that were there from the beginning to help me. Of course (and as is SO KEY to networking), I reached out to them first, and always tried to give back far more than I received. Although this wasn't always possible, it often was, and the effort was always appreciated.

Josh, my biggest single client, and one that's accounted for well over a million dollars in revenues and is still producing to this day came about because of one networking contact whose friendship I developed over the span of a couple of years. I'll always feel I owe this person big time. Keep in mind though, when I finally asked him for the connection, I'd already proved myself to him as a giver, and he was only too happy to entrust me with his client, knowing I'd make him look good for the referral.

Regarding your question about someone just starting out who doesn't yet know anyone, that's no problem. Just start now. Go to the places where those with whom you wish to develop relationships "hang out" or attend. In my book, "Endless Referrals", I outline a system that takes a person through an initial hello to the development of a huge network of people.

But always keep in mind, the key is to always ask yourself, "How can I help this person in THEIR life (and I *don't* mean, via my products and services)?" not, "How can he or she help me?"

The Key to effective networking? Be a giver. Be a people-connector (setting up others) and be an information-giver. Give without worrying about getting back (an excellent book I read lately that makes this point beautifully is entitled, "Love is the Killer App" by Tim Sanders). Just do your part. Always connect good people with other good people. You must make the effort to do the right things. Then, don't worry about it. God will take care of the rest.

Josh Hinds: You're the author of "WINNING WITHOUT INTIMIDATION - How To Master The Art Of Positive Persuasion", ENDLESS REFERRALS - Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales", and NETWORK YOUR WAY TO ENDLESS ROMANCE - Secrets To Help You Meet The Mate Of Your Dreams - can you give us an overview on these books and what you hope the readers will take from them?

Bob Burg: " Winning Without Intimidation" is my personal favorite and its theme is basically my mission in life. That is to show people that you can get what you want in your dealings with difficult people while being nice, and by being pleasant ... and help the other person to feel good about himself or herself at the same time. Nice guys (and gals) finish first, not last; providing they are willing to learn how to do it. There's absolutely no reason to be anyone's doormat or to be a bully.

Satisfaction comes a lot easier, and with a much smaller price by being a master positive persuader.

"Endless Referrals" is simply the answer to the question asked by most sales people, and that is, "Who do I talk to next, now that my original list of names has run out?" This book helps you turbo-charge your network in a very fun, simple, and non-threatening way (non-threatening to both the prospect and the salesperson).

"Endless Romance" is really nothing more than "Endless Referrals" for single people :-). Utilizing business networking skills in order for single people to meet other single people. My co-author for that book, Laurie-Sue Brockway came up with a concept called "The Romantic Resume" that is probably the best part of the entire book. It's helped a lot of people in their own clarification process.

I also have another book coming out in the Fall of 2002 entitled, "GOSSIP: Ten Pathways to Eliminate it from Your Life and Transform Your Soul." Co-written with Lori Palatnik, it's a sure-fire way to end the oh-so-destructive habit of gossip; something I had to personally overcome in my own life.

Josh Hinds: What is your best piece of advice to people trying to significantly improve their Persuasion skills?

Bob Burg: To realize that, as the great Dale Carnegie ("How to Win Friends and Influence People") said, "People do things for *their* reasons, not our reasons. So we must make our reasons, their reasons." Also, realize that a person's ego is their driving decision-maker.

I love what the wonderful Les Giblin ("How to Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with People") wrote, describing persuasion: "{It's}The science of dealing with people in such a way that our ego and their ego remains in tact." Of course, Josh, key to that is "tact." My Dad defines tact as "The language of strength." As you can see, I've had some excellent teachers.

Josh Hinds: How can someone ensure they're being persuasive in a positive way versus being manipulative?

Bob Burg: I've always felt this was a very valid question because, the fact is, the principles used in the Winning Without Intimidation system are simply that... principles. And principles, in this sense of the word, are neither positive nor negative; they just *are*. And, as such, they can be used for the good (persuasion) or the bad (manipulation).

As far as I'm concerned, the best explanation regarding the difference in the two comes from a book by Dr. Paul Swets, entitled, "The Art of Talking So That People Will Listen." He says, "Manipulation aims at control, not cooperation. It results in a win/lose situation. It does not consider the good of the other party... In contrast to the manipulator, the persuader seeks to enhance the self-esteem of the other party.

The result is that people respond better because they are treated as responsible, self-directing individuals." So, I guess, Josh, that I would sum up the answer by saying that intent has much (if not everything) to do with whether it's persuasion or manipulation. May we all aim at being master persuaders.

Josh Hinds: How do you define success?

Bob Burg: Interesting question, because I've always enjoyed hearing how others define success. Of course, Earl Nightingale said that success is the "Progressive realization of a worthwhile goal or dream." I think that's great.

Recently I read an excellent book, entitled, "WOODEN" by John Wooden (the famous UCLA basketball coach) and Steve Jamison in which Coach Wooden provided his definition of success as following: "Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming." Another beautiful definition.

From early on, my Dad taught me his definition of success. He quotes the Talmud in which Simeon ben Zoma says, "Who is rich? That person who rejoices in his lot." In other words, that person who is grateful for what he he or she has, and that includes their loving family, friends, health, finances, ability to contribute to others, and practically everything else that would be important to a person.

Josh Hinds: How important has having long term and short term goals been in your life? How do you make sure you follow through on such goals and they don't simply end up getting set aside?

Bob Burg: Personally, I've never felt this was one of my stronger points. Yes, my goals are written down. Yes, I review them. I've often put them aside, however and forgotten to look at them for extended periods of time. I've always kept my major ones in the forefront of my mind but, I think if there's a major weakness I've displayed, it's not always keeping the paper they are written on right in front of me so I could consistently see them. Because of that, I believe that I've, at times, become distracted. So, this particular question is certainly one in which I'd say, don't do as I've done; do what I *haven't* done.

Josh Hinds: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in life so far?

Bob Burg: I've been very fortunate to have accomplished some things that many people would have considered impossible, and I'm happy for that. But I'd like to make two points concerning this. One is that, I've had many more failures than I've had successes. What people see are my successes. I advise them not to get too caught up in those and think that is necessarily the norm for me. My successes have simply been the result of working past the failures.

The other point regards the personal successes that we have in life. And, that is, "Take pleasure in your successes, but not pride." Take pleasure that you were given certain gifts by God that have allowed you to be in a position where you could put the hard work and effort into making a dream become a reality.

Take absolute pleasure. But don't take pride. Pride is when we think *we* are it. That greatness stems from us. It doesn't. A great example would be Mark McGwire. Here's a guy who worked very hard, and played through many injuries in order to have the batting success he had.

He should take much "pleasure" in that, and in his accomplishments. And he should (and I'm sure he does) also realize that had God not given him the powerful body and ability to develop himself as a hitter, put him in a country like America where one could choose one's profession, and at a time when people would pay lots of money to come out to a ball game, thus supporting the game, he wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of that.

Taking pride in oneself says "I am the root cause of my success." Taking pleasure in ones self and in one's accomplishments says, "Yes, I've done something wonderful, AND it's because God has made it possible."

Josh Hinds: What would you most like people to say about Bob Burg?

Bob Burg: That I always tried to make people feel good about themselves. That I always tried to do what was right. My favorite quote is from Micah 6:8 ... "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God." Apparently, that's what God wants from us, and I hope I can do my best to carry out that instruction.

Josh Hinds: Bob, I appreciate your taking the time for the interview. How can people contact you?

Bob Burg: Josh, first, let me say that I'm honored to be your friend and that you would choose me as an interview subject. You embody all great things, and are truly one of life's "good guys." People may contact me by going to my website, which is www.burg.com.


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