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How to distinguish yourself as a business person, and have effective leadership – Bob Burg joins me in the discussion.

Bob Burg speaks for corporations and associations internationally, including fortune 500 companies, franchises, and numerous direct sales organizations.

Bob was best known for his book “Endless Referrals,” but over the past few years it’s his business parable, “The Go-Giver” (coauthored with John David Mann) that has captured the imagination of his readers. You should also check out his most recent release “The Go-Giver Leader.”

In this episode we discussed:

  • Tips on successful selling – “The Go-Giver” style. (8:58)
  • How to distinguish yourself in today’s competitive marketplace. (14:39)
  • 5 Elements of Value: Excellence, Consistency, Attention, Empathy, and Appreciation. (15:43)
  • How to influence others – “pushing” or “pulling.” (32:52)
  • How to find and keep the right mentor. (40:43)

Find out more about The Go-Giver, The Go-Giver Leader, and The Go-Giver Podcast.

00:01 Michael Port: Welcome to Steal the Show, with Michael Port. This is Michael. And you know that Steal the Show is not just a podcast about public speaking. Our goal is to steal the show in all aspects of life, because performance is such a significant part of so many of the things we do. And to that end, I’ve brought Bob Burg to help us become go-givers, and you’ll learn a little bit more about that in a moment. Let me give you his bio first. First of all, he’s a great friend of mine, the most lovely, classy man you will ever meet. This is the kind of man that, when a woman stands up from a table, he will stand up as well. And there are not many people that behave in that way anymore.

00:53 Michael Port: He’s also a sought-after speaker at company leadership and sales conferences, and he’s shared the platform with everyone from today’s business leaders and broadcast personalities, to even a former US president. Bob is the author of a number of books on sales, marketing, and influence, with total book sales of well over one million copies. His book, “The Go-Giver,” co-authored with John David Mann, has sold over half a million copies, and it’s been translated into 21 languages. It’s now being released in a new, expanded edition, with a foreword by Huffington Post founder and publisher, Arianna Huffington. Bob is an advocate, supporter, and defender of the free enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve. He’s also an unapologetic animal fanatic, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Furry Friends Adoption and Clinic in his town of Jupiter, Florida. Hi, Bob.

01:56 Bob Burg: Hey, Michael. What a nice introduction. You are amazing, thank you.

02:00 Michael Port: You’re very welcome. Listen, you talk about entrepreneurial spirit, but what about those that aren’t entrepreneurs? We’ve a lot of people who listen to the program who aren’t entrepreneurs. Does the message in The Go-Giver, and the The Go-Giver Leader apply to them?

02:20 Bob Burg: Well, yeah, it does, because when you think of it, entrepreneurship, which we see as that person who invests money in a business, or raises funds for a business, they have a certain product or service they believe in, they want to take it to the marketplace, and they understand that for them to succeed, they must focus on providing value to others, and that, ultimately, the responsibility is up to them, the entrepreneur. Well, you can still be that way even within someone else’s business, as an employee for another business. And, I guess, instead of being an entrepreneur, you would be an intrapreneur, an entrepreneur within another organization. But you still understand that it’s up to you to communicate that kind of value. If you want to say, put on a performance, absolutely. It means you are absolutely focused on communicating the value you provide to others, though in this case, instead of it being the end user or customer, it might be your fellow team members, it might be your supervisor, it might be the employer. Those are now your customers, and you’ve got to put on a show for them. And when we say put on a show, we mean authentically and genuinely give them value.

03:38 Michael Port: So let’s talk about that. So, that is, in large part, the premise of the book, and the foundation of your work, is giving value, and being in service of others. Can you talk about the premise of The Go-Giver Leader, which is your new book, and how that may relate to performance in leadership?

04:02 Bob Burg: Sure. The core message of The Go-Giver, as you said, is shifting our focus from getting, to giving. And when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing value to others. It means, Michael, moving from an I-focus or me-focus, to what we would call an other-focus, always looking for ways to add value to them. Now, this does not mean that you, what do we say? “Placing the other person’s interest first,” right? But that doesn’t mean you’re a doormat, it doesn’t mean you’re a martyr, it doesn’t mean you’re self-sacrificial in any way. The Go-Giver Leader simply says that shifting from a me-focus to an other-focus creates a more powerful, lasting leadership. Why? Because a go-giver leader simply means you know you’re charged with a huge responsibility, and that is to serve others, to focus on bringing exceptional value to those you lead. Go ahead, I’m sorry.

05:00 Michael Port: Yeah, no. There are some people that seem to be born this way. That they are naturally empathetic, they are naturally giving, and they get incredible pleasure out of it. And as you said just previously, sometimes people go too far. Sometimes people will give so much of themselves, that they forget about themselves, and, as a result, sacrifice their own needs, and even dreams sometimes. But, let’s just say you’re giving in a very healthy way, what about the folks who may not feel that they are naturally predisposed to this particular philosophy? Now, I wonder if somebody who is not predisposed to this particular way of being, would think of themselves as not particularly predisposed to this way of being.


05:53 Michael Port: But, we’re all different, and there isn’t one way of being, of course.

06:00 Michael Port: Right.

06:00 Michael Port: But I do think your philosophy applies to all of us if we wanna do big things in the world. So how could somebody who might not feel that it’s their first instinct, or their natural disposition to wanna do things for others before they think of themselves, how can they start to make a shift?

06:20 Bob Burg: Yeah, and that is such a great question. I think it begins with understanding, or even being made to understand that the way you’re doing things now are not causing you to be as effective as you otherwise could be. Now if you say this to somebody and if somebody says, “Well no, I think of myself first, and it’s all win-lose and I don’t care about the other person,” and so forth and so on. And Michael, usually those are not very successful people, business-wise or personally. Personally for obvious reasons, right? [chuckle]

06:50 Michael Port: Yeah.

06:51 Bob Burg: And business-wise, because let’s face it, in the mainly free market based economy in which we live, the only reason someone’s gonna do business with you, is because they believe it’s in their best interest to do so. So when someone says, “Well I would rather just think of myself and go for the money.” How often do people buy from a salesperson who they believe just wants their money? Not usually.

07:14 Michael Port: Yeah, the extreme example is the Mafia. Now, I would do what they say, because it’s in my best interest, because if I don’t, they may kill me. And they are the extreme representation of people who are not thinking about others, but they are thinking only about themselves and that’s at that sociopathic level. But a regular person who may not believe that doing good things for people as the first way of being, really produces much. They think it’s soft or they go… You know what? I mean… I don’t know, I mean it’s cut-throat in here, and it’s competitive.

07:51 Bob Burg: Right. Well, let’s go back to what you said about the Mafia. That is not free market because that’s force, that’s compulsion. If you don’t do what they say, or it could be anybody who’s using force, that’s a different thing. What we’re talking about is in a free market based environment, where no one is forced to buy from you.

08:11 Michael Port: Yeah.

08:11 Bob Burg: If someone is not forced to buy from you, you have got to be concerned about them. When you think about it, what is selling? Selling is simply discovering what the other person wants, needs and desires, and helping them to get it. In order to do that, you must be focused on them. On the other hand, let’s go to your person who really doesn’t see this as being very important. So they go in there, they’re about to do a sales presentation, and what is a presentation but a performance, right? And again, that doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic, and you do a beautiful job of explaining it and I love this, how you explain that an actor on stage is not being less than authentic, they have simply found a way to tap into authenticity. They have become that part. And that’s so very important.

08:58 Bob Burg: And you as the salesperson, let’s say, you have absolutely got to feel as though you want this other person to benefit. If you don’t feel that way, it is going to come across. So, it’s in your best interest to actually care about that other person. But there are people, again, they think it’s soft, they think it’s mushy, they don’t see. And that’s why I would say to somebody, so let’s say you’re the prospect and I’m the sales person. I’m about to do a sales presentation for you, and I really don’t care about you. I only care about transferring your money into my pocket.


09:40 Bob Burg: So I just blab about my product and how great it is, I ask questions, maybe, to find some things out so I sharp-angle, close you in, and you can tell that I have no interest in you, just in making the sale. Are you more likely or less likely to buy from me? And most people will say, “No, absolutely less likely.” So now I ask you questions, and I ask you questions in order to understand, in order to discover what your wants, needs and desires are. You can tell that my entire goal, genuinely and authentically is to benefit you by matching the benefits of my product or service, with your wants, needs and desires. Are you gonna be more likely or less likely to buy from me? And most people will say, “More likely.” So once a person, Michael, understands that it’s actually in their best interest to be a go-giver, and care about providing value to others, that’s when they are ready to begin the process.

10:46 Michael Port: It’s fantastic. Thank you, that’s very, very… Very helpful and very comprehensive answer, I believe.

10:54 Bob Burg: Thank you.

10:54 Michael Port: There are five laws in the book, and I would love you to share them for our listeners, because I think they’re so helpful.

11:05 Bob Burg: Well, the five laws from The Go-Giver are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity and receptivity. The law of value says your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Now, this sounds counter-intuitive when you first hear it, because it sounds like you’re not making a profit. “Give more in value than I take in payment? How am I supposed to stay in business this way, never mind thrive?” But for this, we simply have to understand the difference between price and value. A price is a dollar figure, it’s a dollar amount, it’s finite. Value on the other hand is relative worth, or desirability of a thing to the end user or beholder.

11:49 Bob Burg: In other words, what is it about this thing, this product, service, concept, idea that will bring so much value, that brings so much value to someone, they will willingly exchange their money for it and be ecstatic that they did, while you make a profit? As a great example, the last heroic public speaking event that you and Amy put on was so fantastic. And people paid a good amount of money to attend that thing. And the value they received from the two of you and some of your guests, I mean, was just absolutely out of this world. And when I talked to people afterwards, and said, “How did you enjoy this?” “Oh, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my… ” “Oh, this is gonna help my business!” “This is gonna… ” Right? So, they paid money? Of course they did, they should, and you should make a very healthy profit from it. But the value they received was so much more than what they paid.

12:43 Michael Port: Thank you for that, thank you so much. I have a question specifically related to that. So, if you’re the business owner, or if you’re somebody inside an organization, and you’re trying to develop your offers, price them, and produce as much value as you possibly can for the buyer, how does a person add value to others without costing too much money? And the reason I thought that came to mind is because, when I think about HPS Live, we spend a lot of money on it.

13:21 Bob Burg: Yes, you do.

13:21 Michael Port: And that certainly helps provide value, because we’re bringing a lot to the table. But, there are other things that we do that don’t cost money, that provide extraordinary value. And I think that, sometimes people get concerned with how much it will cost them, to bring value when they’re producing a product or a service. And they may miss some of those intangibles. So, could you address that?

13:56 Bob Burg: Yeah, and this is wonderful, this is so important because, remember, in today’s day, technology has really levelled off the playing field, so that most products and services are pretty much the same. The television set you buy, it’s gonna work. That was different when I was growing up…


14:18 Bob Burg: When I had to stand behind the family TV, holding up those two little antennas, and hold my left leg in the air, and right arm…

14:25 Michael Port: I bet you were the cutest kid.

14:26 Bob Burg: Oh, yeah. I was adorable.


14:30 Michael Port: Were your cheeks pink?

14:31 Bob Burg: When I say adorable, I mean not adorable. [chuckle]

14:33 Michael Port: Were your cheeks pinchable at that time, too?

14:36 Bob Burg: We all had that aunt, right? Who pinched the cheeks.

14:39 Michael Port: Yeah.

14:39 Bob Burg: And so, I guess they were. [chuckle] You’re funny. But most products and services these days, they work, and so a lot of times… And let’s face it, if five different people are representing a particular product, and the potential buyer sees no differential in that product, it’s always gonna come down to who has the lowest price. And that’s a dangerous way to do business. When you sell on too low a price, first your business is not fun, it’s not profitable, you’re not able to serve the person as you need to because you’re too busy hustling more low-paying people, who are just gonna get you enough to pay the bills. It’s not a good way to do… Let’s put it this way, unless you’re last name is WalMart, selling on low price is not a good way to do business. Walmart does pretty well with it, but for the rest of us, if we try to sell on price, we’re a commodity, and that’s how we’re looked at. When we sell on value, you’re a resource.

15:43 Bob Burg: So the question is, “How do I sell on value? How do I communicate this additional value, when my product or service is probably pretty much the same as the next persons?” And so what we need to do is we need to be that additional value. How? Well, there are probably hundreds of ways to communicate that additional value, but they tend to come down to five, what we call, elements of value. And they are excellence, consistency, attention, empathy and appreciation.

16:19 Michael Port: Could you do it one more time? Say it one more time.

16:22 Bob Burg: Yeah. Excellence, consistency, attention, empathy and appreciation. And I could take those, and put them to HPS, because… And even though you have a product or service, obviously, that is different from most others in what you do. Nonetheless, to add that additional value, this is what you all communicate every second of the time that everyone’s there. Excellence, obviously. I’ve said this to people. I’ve never seen someone who just has the way of excellence in what you do, I’ve seen you take some of our speakers, and just, within a morning, just absolutely turn them into, not a different speaker, but a much better speaker than they were, simply by stepping into their own authenticity, and knowing how to do it. So the excellence, right there, of course.

17:14 Bob Burg: Consistency, you do it every single time, no exceptions, no excuses. Attention, it’s attention to detail, it’s understanding that people are different, they’re individuals. It’s not one size fits all. And, not only do you have to give attention to people, you’ve got to be able to communicate that to them so that they understand that. Empathy is really being able to identify with another person’s feelings. It means, “Hey, they’re not Michael and Amy, they haven’t been professional actors, they haven’t been speakers who’ve made a ton of money before. This is what they’re wanting to do.” And they have fears, and they have concerns, and they have challenges, and you need to be able to put yourself… You need to make… I guess you could say, put yourself into their shoes, but most people have different sized shoes, different size feet, so that doesn’t always happen, but you’ve gotta be able to communicate that you understand that they’re having an issue. And then appreciation, I loved seeing the displays of appreciation from you, Amy, and your team making people feel genuinely good about being there, as though they were the most important audience you’ve ever had. And that’s adding value, that is a focus on the other person.

18:32 Michael Port: First of all, thank you for the kind words, and this is exactly what we do, and it’s interesting because when you talk about something like appreciation, it’s really easy for us, because we really do appreciate the people we serve. Every once in a while somebody will send an email into your support desk, and I’ll just write them back, and they are often surprised. I say, “But, who else am I gonna talk to besides the people that I serve? That’s who I’m here to talk to.”

19:04 Bob Burg: Right.

19:05 Michael Port: So it’s interesting, because some of the things that we do that seem normal to us, are surprising to clients, because they may not be normal, say, in the industry.

19:20 Bob Burg: Right.

19:21 Michael Port: And so it’s often… And one of the things I learned from you is it’s often easier to be special than people might think. Because what you’re talking about here is not something that is intellectually complicated. Excellence, well, be best in class. When it comes to speaking, people often… First question they’ll ask, “Well, how do I get speaking gigs?” I say, “Be the best in class,” because if you go and show up and you’re fantastic, you’ll get more and more gigs, but if you show up and you’re first just focusing on the business side, “How do I get speaking gigs?” Even if you don’t wanna speak professionally, but when you show up there you’re not best in class, it’s not gonna produce the kind of effect that you want.

20:09 Michael Port: And consistency, I love consistency, because even if I go get smoothies at the smoothie place, if I really love my smoothie and I go back the next day and it’s different, even though I ordered the same thing, I go, “I don’t know. Alright, I’ll try it again.” I go back the next day, and it’s really, really great. I’m like, “Oh, this is awesome.” The next day, not so good. Eventually, I stop going, because it’s not what I expect, and that’s really important. So that’s another thing, in our world, I’m sure people say this to you all the time, “Oh my God, you’re just like I thought you’d be!” Which is a compliment, except it shouldn’t be.

20:51 Bob Burg: You’re right, exactly. [chuckle]

20:52 Michael Port: It’s like, “Oh, my God! You have so much integrity!”

20:54 Bob Burg: Yeah, that shouldn’t be a surprising thing.

20:56 Michael Port: Right, and it shouldn’t be something that you get points for, it should be par, it should be baseline. [chuckle] But that’s part of it, it’s the consistencies, that wherever you are, you are who you are. And attention, I love attention, because people want to feel special. And attention and appreciation seem to have some overlap, to me. When you pay great attention to people, when you show your appreciation, you’re of course paying attention to them. And empathy, oh gosh, I just love, because one of the key elements in any speech or presentation is demonstrating that you understand the way the world looks to the people in the room. And if you can’t do that, even if they like your ideas, they may disconnect or push back, because we may be asking them to do something confronting, or difficult, or if you’re charging a high fee for something, even if they want what you have to offer, they may look for ways to say no, because it’s easier that way.

22:05 Bob Burg: Right.

22:06 Michael Port: And if they don’t believe that you understand the way the world looks to them, it’s an easy no.

22:13 Bob Burg: Yeah, I agree, and a lot of that, as you talked about this, it just reminds me so much of how trust always comes into the picture, no matter what. And I was reading a fantastic book, I know you and I are both book readers, and our libraries probably look a lot alike, [chuckle] but I was reading Simon Sinek’s book, “Leaders Eat Last,” which was an absolutely beautiful book on leadership, and one of the things he talked about, because he went back to how everything goes back to the cave person days, when it was all about survival. One reason why, by the way, consistency is so valued by people, because you had to know consistently that this meant this all the time, it was a matter of life and death. And even though we don’t have those same survival challenges these days, it’s been hardwired into our DNA to respond to that. And what he said, and I absolutely love this about trust, he wrote, “Trust is a biological reaction to the belief that someone has our well-being at heart.” Now there’s empathy, what you were talking about, right?

23:18 Michael Port: Yeah.

23:18 Bob Burg: They will respond to you when they truly believe that you have their well-being at heart, that you empathize with them that you care about what they’re going through.

23:30 Michael Port: I’m starting to get real turned on here. Not in a weird way, but, I mean just the concepts. Because it just gave me a flashback to my years in Aikido, which is a Japanese martial art. And I spent about 15 years in that particular discipline, and one of the things that occurred at our conferences, oftentimes we have a big conference and lots of different teachers would come in, or our dojo would host one well-known teacher. And when it was time for dinner and the buffet was put out, the teachers ate first, and everybody else waited until they came to get their food. And it’s the exact opposite of Simon’s concepts. And it’s interesting, because that particular system is passed down for many, many years of Japanese culture.

24:29 Michael Port: And the hierarchy, the structure was so severe, that most people learned through fear and intimidation. They were afraid of their sensei getting angry, or not liking them, or thinking that they’re not good. And it was a very interesting environment to me, because it was very different than my natural way of being, it just didn’t really make a lot of sense to me, but I was part of it for a long time and I understand where it came from.

25:06 Michael Port: But it’s interesting, because what I saw is a lot of people would end up leaving the discipline, because they would find other disciplines that were more open, and allowed people to, no matter what stage of development they were at, to be involved in the development of the system. So for example, I moved over to Brazilian Jujitsu. And Brazilian Jujitsu, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a white belt or a black belt, whoever wins the match, is the better competitor in that moment. So you could be training for 20 years, but that doesn’t mean anything unless you can win the match. So it was very clear who wins and who loses. And the white belt, if on the first day they come in and come up with some technique that’s phenomenal, everybody will wanna learn it from them.

25:57 Bob Burg: Ah, interesting.

26:01 Michael Port: So the protocols are more flexible, they’re more open, what you give to that dojo, that school in Brazilian Jujitsu, and this is again, demonstrating your concept, the value that you bring, is how you are recognized. Your reputation is based on that. Whereas I found in Aikido training, for a long time the value, your value was associated with your rank.

26:28 Bob Burg: With your rank right, it’s positional leadership.

26:30 Michael Port: Positional leadership, it’s the exact opposite of what you’re talking about. And I mean look, I’m no economist, and I’m not gonna ask you to get into an economic theoretical dissertation on why the Japanese economy fell apart when it did, but it was that leadership style, that hierarchical system was so much a part of that culture, that I think it negatively affected their ability to continue to grow their companies. The people at the lower end of the organization ended up just being yes people. And this happens a lot, if you don’t feel like you have a place in the leadership of the organization, then you’ll just do whatever you’re told and you’re not gonna speak up, because if you speak up and someone senior doesn’t like it, you’ll just be slapped down, and it’s not your place to speak. So I’d love you to address leadership in all levels of an organization, and how, even if you’re not the most senior person at an organization, how you can be part of that leadership?

27:41 Bob Burg: Well let’s look directly at something that you just brought up. David Marquet, Captain David Marquet wrote a brilliant book called, “Turn the Ship Around.” Fantastic guy. And David Marquet back in the ’90s, after working his way up to Captain, was assigned a ship, a submarine, the USS, I wanna say Albuquerque, but it’s Santa Fay, [chuckle] the USS Santa Fay. This ship was literally, not figuratively, Michael, literally the worst performing, the worst rated submarine in the US Navy. He came onto the ship and he immediately saw why.

28:24 Bob Burg: First of all, people were totally disengaged. They were absolutely in not any way committed to this ship, they were just putting in their time, they had looked like they had been beaten down, it had been a very top-down, command and control type of environment. And what happened, they were out of some maneuvers one day, it was a training session. Fortunately, it was just a training session, and he gave an order, and the person said, “Aye, aye, Captain.” And repeated that order to the next person, and the next person didn’t enact the order, and Captain Marquet was wondering why.

29:00 Bob Burg: So he went over and said, “Why didn’t you just… ” And he said, “Well, Sir, this is a new ship, and it actually doesn’t have that particular number that you asked for it to be put up to.” Well anyway, so Captain Marquet went to the person he gave the order to who said, “Aye, aye.” And said, “Why did you say, ‘Aye, aye,’ if you knew this ship didn’t have that particular number associated with it?” And he said, “Because Sir, my job is to take orders from you.” And Captain Marquet realized right there they had a big, big problem.

29:30 Bob Burg: And by the way, it’s not that Captain Marquet wasn’t prepared, he was supposed to take command of a whole other ship in one week prior to this, he was then given this assignment. So he realized at that point, that not only were there people who knew more about the ship than he did, if they were just gonna take orders from him, this could be catastrophic, absolutely catastrophic. So what he did in turning the ship around, is he gave leadership to them.

30:00 Bob Burg: Now when we say give leadership, we don’t mean you say, “Okay, you guys must do what you want.” That wasn’t what it was about at all. What he did is he taught them. He mentored them. He coached them. He built them, he gave them time, he gave them energy, he gave them belief in themselves. And boy, did they start to respond. Now, hey, in any organization, not everyone’s gonna respond right away to this, and remember, people had for years been treated like this. But a certain number did begin to respond. And their attitudes changed, and they started to lead, right? And then, [chuckle] and all of sudden, things are starting to happen and within two years, his ship had gone from the lowest ranked submarine in the Navy, to the number one ranked ship in the Navy.

30:49 Michael Port: And the operative word that you use there was he gave…

30:52 Bob Burg: Gave leadership.

30:54 Michael Port: He gave it to them.

30:54 Bob Burg: Exactly.

30:55 Michael Port: Because it seems to me that when you give somebody the opportunity to have influence, you’re giving them leadership aren’t you?

31:05 Bob Burg: Yes. Oh, absolutely. Well, John Maxwell says, “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” And yeah, I believe you can define influence, simply as the ability to move a person or persons to a desired action, usually within the context of a specific goal. And while I believe that’s the definition, I don’t believe that’s its essence. I think the essence of influence is pull, not push. You never hear someone say, “Wow, that Virginia, she is such a great leader. She has so much influence, she has a lot of push with people.” No, they’d say, “She has a lot of pull with people.” Because that’s what influence is, pull is just the opposite of push, it’s like power is the opposite of force, right? Force is control, it’s manipulation, it’s intimidation, it’s compliance. When you try and lead through compliance, well what happens is, at best, people are gonna do exactly what they’re told, and not one bit more. But that’s at best. At worst, they’re gonna find a way to sabotage the process completely, whether consciously or unconsciously. That’s compliance.

32:20 Michael Port: Well, this is one of the topics that you address extensively in the book, and how a go-giver creates influence, both personally and in business.

32:31 Bob Burg: Right.

32:33 Michael Port: So, could you address how it relates directly to new business, specifically? Again, how does this kind of influence, using The Go-Giver strategies, relate to pulling in new business?

32:52 Bob Burg: Well, [chuckle] you’re certainly the expert of pulling in new business. Your first book was the absolute, with the velvet rope and all. [laughter] The absolute epitome of pulling and attracting the right business to you, and attracting the right way. Well, so one of the ways that we do this is by communicating to others, really, that we have their best interest at heart. It means that when you first meet someone, rather than focus on yourself and your own business, which is intuitive to do, you need to get things moving, so you meet people and you slap a business card into their hand, and you say, “We do this, and we do this, and we can help you with this.” And of course, what you’re doing is you’re pushing, you’re not pulling.

33:33 Michael Port: Yeah.

33:35 Bob Burg: When you pull, it’s when you’re focused on them. It’s when you invest 99.9% of the conversation asking them questions about themselves and their business. It’s asking them how they got started in their business, which by the way, as mundane as that question is, “How did you get started as a so-and-so?” It’s a question most people are never asked, and they love being asked.

33:57 Michael Port: You’re really right about that. That’s very interesting. You and I are probably asked that a lot, because we’re interviewed very often, but I don’t think most people are asked that question. It’s very interesting.

34:08 Bob Burg: No. The person selling copying machines, or the person who’s an accountant, or the person who’s an engineer, very few people when they’re at a party, or they’re at any kind of business event, or they’re at any kind of fund-raiser, very few… “So tell me, Murray, how did you get started as an electrical engineer?” It’s just not a question. So when you ask that question, that’s pull. You’re saying to them, you’re communicating, “I’m interested in you. I wanna know more about you.” And that’s always very welcomed to people.

34:38 Michael Port: There’s your concept of attention, once again.

34:41 Bob Burg: Exactly right there, yes, yes.

34:43 Michael Port: That’s fantastic. Going back to the concept that we were addressing in terms of the story that you told about turning the ship around. It reminds me of an example that was in one of Gladwell’s books, I believe. I think it was, “Outliers,” if I recall correctly.

35:03 Bob Burg: That was a great book.

35:04 Michael Port: It was a great book. Is that where he talked about the airline accidents?

35:10 Bob Burg: Yes, oh yeah, the Korean airlines, absolutely, yes. And that was cultural, they had to listen. That’s just what they did. What a great point, yes.

35:19 Michael Port: Yeah. The Korean airlines were having the most accidents, and the most fatalities, and they couldn’t figure out why. The pilots were well trained, the equipment was fine, air traffic control was doing a good job. But the co-pilots were not questioning the pilots.

35:37 Bob Burg: Right.

35:38 Michael Port: Because culturally, they were not to do that.

35:41 Bob Burg: That’s right.

35:42 Michael Port: So if the pilot made an error, the co-pilot might not say anything about it. And when they changed that one thing, their safety records improved.

35:54 Bob Burg: Exactly. That was a perfect example, absolutely.

35:58 Michael Port: And interestingly enough, they had to, if I recall correctly, they had to go through a lot of re-training, because it’s almost, and I’ll use this term very loosely, it’s almost like being brainwashed. When you grow up in a particular culture, whatever culture that is, you develop your belief systems based on your experience, and what you’re told to believe, and what you see around you. And if you’ve been operating under that particular way of being and belief system for 30, 40, 50 years, unlearning, it’s not always that easy. It takes a lot of courage, doesn’t it?

36:41 Bob Burg: It does. In my book, “Adversaries Into Allies,” I have belief systems as one of the five main principles, it’s that important. I mean you bring up a fantastic point. Our belief systems are simply the way we see the world, it’s our unconscious operating system. We don’t even know we’re acting according to these beliefs. These beliefs are a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television shows, movies, popular culture, cultural mores, everything we touch, taste, hear, see, smell. But you know what? The interesting thing, and you alluded to this, they are basically given to us very, very early. [laughter]

37:22 Michael Port: Yeah.

37:23 Bob Burg: And by the time we’re little more than toddlers, Michael, our basic belief systems are pretty much etched in stone. And everything that comes in, every experience that comes into our lives after that, basically is added on to the basic foundational premise of our belief system. They’re very unconscious, again, we don’t even know that we’re operating based on these belief systems, and so is everyone else, by the way, and they don’t know it.

37:49 Michael Port: Yeah.

37:50 Bob Burg: And we tend to, as human beings, think that the way we see the world is the way other people see the world. How could it be anything else, right? Because it’s all we know. And that’s why you have arguments with people and you think, “Oh, I would never say that to anyone.” Well no, you wouldn’t, because it’s not your belief system. Or when someone says, “Oh, nobody feels that way.” Or, “Everybody likes that.” No, no that’s not necessarily true at all.

38:14 Michael Port: I love that you brought that up, because one of the things that we teach our students is to do their best to stay away from generalizations and absolutes, because as you just demonstrated, absolutes are often false. When you say, “Everybody does this, everybody thinks this, it’s always this way,” most people in an audience can think about an example, or an experience that contradicts your statement. The example I like to give, because it’s ridiculous, is if you said, “No one likes ear wax flavored ice cream.” Somebody in the audience might think, “I went to school with a kid named Fritz, he used to pick his ears and eat it. He was weird, but I bet he would like ear wax flavored ice cream.” That’s not what you want them thinking about. So you might say instead, “I would imagine that most people don’t like ear wax flavored ice cream,” and then what you’re doing is you’re including people in your discussion, who may not have the same exact viewpoint, and they’re more likely to listen, to pay attention.

39:29 Bob Burg: Yeah, this is one of the things that Benjamin Franklin did when he realized that as much potential as he had, he realized that his way of communicating with people was hurting his progress. He was such a brilliant guy, and he could win arguments through the Socratic method, but what he did is he really put people down when he did it, and he spoke in absolutes quite a bit. And he made a decision that from that time on, he was going to stop speaking in absolutes, and he was gonna speak with more humility, by doing just exactly what you said, not making things absolutes. And he brought, he was able to pull more people in. And one thing about influence and persuasion, if you’re going to influence and persuade others, they’ve got to have that trust for you before they will trust your idea.

40:19 Michael Port: Yeah, so this brings us to leadership and mentorship. Because we decide, don’t we, if we’re gonna follow someone. We decide if we want to look at somebody as a mentor. A mentor can’t come along and say, “I’m gonna be your mentor.” “But I don’t really want you to be.” It doesn’t work that way, you have to…

40:42 Bob Burg: “What if I don’t want you to be my mentor?”

40:43 Michael Port: Yeah, you’ve gotta seek it out. And it may develop organically, or it may develop intentionally, you might ask for it, or it may be offered to you, but either way, people, if we wanna be mentors or leaders, people need to want to be leaders, or to want to follow us in some way, or to learn from us. So, one of the things that I would suggest to folks is to do their best to avoid mentors, or leaders, who speak in absolute terms. Because it’s suggesting that there is only one way. One way of being, one way to approach things, one way to do things. So let’s talk about mentorship because people are well-served by mentorship. I have mentors, I am a mentor, I think this is a big part of our development as people. And years ago, you were an apprentice before you became a craftsperson, that was just part of the process. And it was an incredible opportunity to become an apprentice.

41:57 Michael Port: These days I’m not so sure we as a culture still embrace that concept. People, when they come out of school they automatically say, “No, I want a six figure job right now. I know I haven’t ever had a job before, but I want it right now.” As opposed to, when I started my business, I would go to people who were influential and say, “Listen, let me just hold your coffee cup. Give me stuff to do that you don’t wanna to do. I will do it for free. And if I’m doing it well, you’ll keep me around, and maybe I can learn from you.” And that’s how I started out, and I think a lot of friends of ours did the same thing. So what do you think the best way to find a mentor is? And, perhaps most importantly, what should an up-and-comer not do when trying to find one?

42:46 Bob Burg: Yeah, those are both important questions because those people, Michael, who understand that a mentor will be a positive addition to their life, they want to actively find a mentor. These are people who understand that you can cut your learning curve time immeasurably by having a mentor share their experiences with you, and help guide you. Not do it for you, but help guide you and be there for advice. Now, I think sometimes, and this has to do with what you said about impatience, is sometimes people will approach someone, and by the way, it might be someone local who’s a known business person, it might be someone online, the medium itself almost doesn’t matter anymore. But someone might approach someone who they respect and say something like, “Hey, I’m starting a business doing so-and-so, and I love what you do. Will you be my mentor?”

43:41 Bob Burg: I’m gonna suggest that is not a productive way of finding a mentor. [chuckle] Because, when you do that, first, a mentor-protégé relationship is just that. It’s a relationship. It develops over time, it’s cultivated over time. So, if you’re a young buck looking to kind of… And you just go to someone and say, “Hey, will you be my mentor?” It’s almost like approaching someone and saying, “Hey, would you be willing to give me 40 years of your life and business experience? Even though you don’t know me from a hole in the wall.” It doesn’t show respect for the person or the process.

44:17 Bob Burg: But what you can do, is you can introduce yourself to that person, again, the medium at this point doesn’t matter, there’s so many ways to be able to meet someone. Let them know that you’re starting a business, you’re starting out doing this, you respect what they do, “May I, if it wouldn’t be inappropriate for me to ask, may I ask you a couple of very specific questions?” And so what you’re doing is, with humility, you’re letting them know that you’ll also understand if they’re too busy. But you’re letting them know that you’re gonna ask a couple of questions, you’re not gonna take up a lot of their time, and it’s gonna be very specific. Now, when they say yes, and most people will, you wanna make sure that you don’t ask them something that you could easily discover for yourself through simple, online research. Because, again, that’s disrespecting them, it’s disrespecting the process. You wanna ask a couple of very specific questions. Then you let them know how much you appreciate it, you’re looking forward to applying that, and you will keep in touch with them and let them know how things are going.

45:21 Bob Burg: Then, what I would do is, that very day, write a handwritten, personalized note of thanks to them, thanking them for their time, for their counsel, that you just so value what they’ve said, and that you’re looking forward to applying it right away. You can also, a nice touch is to, again you can do this right online, through research, find out their favorite charitable cause, and make a small donation. It doesn’t have to be a big one, but a small donation in their name, because it will be then sent to them by the organization so they’ll know you do that. Now, you’re not doing it to kiss up to them. No, you’re doing it so that they will know that you respect the situation, that you respect the process, that you appreciate them and showing that gratitude. Obviously, you can’t provide value to them to the degree they can to you right now, though like you said, if it’s a local thing, and you can get their laundry, or you can drive them around, or whatever it is, sure. But that’s not always something you can do, but you’re letting them know how much you value this.

46:25 Bob Burg: Then, you want to, a month later, a couple of weeks later, whenever it’s appropriate, to touch base with them again, and just let them know how things are going. And maybe you have another question right there, maybe not, but you ask one another time. And what happens is, over time, the relationship starts to develop. Then, if it’s supposed to happen, you have a pure mentor relationship.

46:51 Michael Port: It’s so inspiring when somebody asks a question, and then a month later they come back and say, “Hey listen, I just wanna let you know, here’s what I did.”

47:00 Bob Burg: Exactly.

47:02 Michael Port: “Because you suggested I do that.” Or, “You gave me that information.”

47:06 Bob Burg: Sure, that’s something, yeah, you’re so right on the mark.

47:07 Michael Port: Oh, it’s so exciting. I mean if someone comes to you Bob, and says, “Hey Bob, I’ve got a bunch of questions.” And you say, “Oh yeah sure, no problem.” And they ask and you answer. And then you bump into them six months later, you haven’t heard from them, and you say, “Oh, so how’s it going with that particular thing you were working on? Blah, blah, blah, the questions you asked?” They go, “Oh, well, I haven’t done anything yet. But, I know at some point… ” So one of the concerns that people have is, if they’re just a protégé, meaning they’re just someone who wants some mentorship, what value can they provide to the mentor?

47:51 Bob Burg: Well, aside from appreciation, you can always look for things, again and it’s so easy these days to do an online background as to what college or university did they go to. And when you do have an alert set up online, so that when something comes up about that university or something, you get it, and if it’s something that would be of interest, you cut it out, you send it to them through a personalized handwritten note, “Hey, just came across this. I know you’re an alumni. I thought you might find it interesting.” Little things like that, that show that you’re thinking of them. Or maybe you know they collect wooden eagle statues, or something, and you find a place that has the… Whatever it is, you look for ways, again, so it doesn’t have to cost money, but you look for ways to do things that will be of value to them. Remember when we talk about value, value is always in the eyes of the beholder. So it’s not a matter of giving them something that you think is of value, you’ve got to ask, what is it that they, find to be of value? And, by the way… Oh, go ahead.

48:50 Michael Port: For example, if someone wanted to show appreciation to you, and they were in your community, they could donate their time, say once a week for a while, they go and donate their time to the…

49:05 Bob Burg: Yeah, Furry Friends.

49:06 Michael Port: Furry friends Adoption and Clinic.

49:09 Bob Burg: And Clinic, exactly.

49:10 Michael Port: That’s what you value, and you would be just thrilled that they did that.

49:14 Bob Burg: Absolutely, oh, absolutely.

49:17 Michael Port: Yeah. So there’s a little hint for those who are in Jupiter, Florida, who are around there. Okay. We obviously have to start to wrap up. I wanna bring it back to performance, because the things we’re talking about, they have performance elements. Asking someone to mentor you, you may be nervous, so you need to control your breath and your body. And articulate yourself in a way that is clear and concise, and compelling. If you are working on organizing your process for having a sales conversation, and your applying The Go-Giver strategies or philosophies, or how are you also working on the performance of those strategies and philosophies?

50:12 Michael Port: Because anytime you make a decision, you’re performing. Because that’s what the performer does, the performer makes choices and acts on those choices, because those choices tell the world, I.e., the audience, who that person is. And so, one of the reasons, and I was thinking about this earlier, something came up when you mentioned, that that is what’s so interesting about learning from the actors craft, is that each time you make a decision, that you make a choice, your telling the world something about you. And that’s performance. And of course, hopefully, you’re making decisions that are authentic and they’re true for you and they’re leading you in the path of your choosing, but people will know who you are, based on how you behave, that’s performance. So we think about our choices very carefully.

51:26 Bob Burg: That is so right on the mark. And it’s just something that we all need to keep in mind. We all need to on top of conscious awareness, at all times. And that’s how you so beautifully tie in performance and authenticity, and results. And really, how you are branded in a sense, by others.

51:48 Michael Port: Yeah, well your reputation is in large part, based on your ability to make commitments and fulfil them. That’s leadership, and that’s trust. If I say, “Hey Bob, I’m going to come over tomorrow at 2:00.” And I don’t show up, you get worried, you call me up, “Michael, is everything okay?” “Oh, no, no, I was fine. I was playing a video game, I got distracted.” You’d go, “Okay. I had organized my afternoon around you but, okay. I’m sure that happens once in awhile.” And then I say, “Oh no, I’m sorry. Let’s reschedule, let’s do it on Thursday at 10:00.” Well I show up, I don’t show up until 10:30. All of a sudden you’re going, “This guy’s a flake. I can’t trust him to do what he says he’s gonna do.” Well that’s my reputation. And to me, that’s an element of performance. It’s making choices, and following through on those choices. And it seems to me that when you are a go-giver, you are someone who makes commitments and fulfils them, because if you’re gonna demonstrate excellence, consistency, give attention, have empathy and show appreciation, you’ve gotta do what you say you’re gonna do.

52:58 Bob Burg: Yeah, that is such a big part of it, and when people do that, wow, what a difference maker it is. Again, you become that additional value in people’s minds, and it takes the other elements in a sense, out of the equation, it takes price out of the equation, if it’s a matter of you’re a salesperson, it takes… Hey, let’s face it, there’s people who work for organizations, Michael, the money may not be as good as the competitors, but they so love the leadership, and they know they can count on the leadership, they know the leadership and the leaders are character based, which means they’ll be flexible on strategy, but when it comes to those value-based decisions, they are immutable, immovable and absolutely, unchangeable.

53:46 Michael Port: So one last question, final question. Was there a piece of advice that you received, maybe before you even knew anything about what it meant to be a go-giver? And if so, how did it make a difference to you?

54:09 Bob Burg: I would go back about 35 years, when I first started to learn sales, and learn about professional selling. And I was doing well, but I certainly was not reaching my potential. And I remember coming back one day to the office after a non-selling appointment, not purposely, it just happened I did not do what was necessary for the sale to take place, even though the prospect was a great prospect, and would have very much benefited from the product, okay? So it was totally on me, my responsibility.

54:51 Bob Burg: And I remember coming back feeling really discouraged. And one of the people at the company, an older guy who was about to retire, I didn’t really know him, he was a pleasant enough guy, but he said to me, he said, “Burg, can I give you a piece of advice?” And fortunately, I’m a coachable guy, I’m a teachable guy, so I said, “Yeah, absolutely.” He said, “Burg,” he was a last names kind of guy, by the way, as you can tell. He said, “Burg, if you wanna make a lot of money in business, if you wanna make a lot of money in sales,” he said, “don’t have making money as your target. Your target is serving others. Now, when you hit the target,” he said, “you’ll get a reward. The reward will come in the form of money. But never forget the money is simply the reward for hitting the target, it’s not the target itself. The target is serving others.”

55:40 Michael Port: Beautiful.

55:40 Bob Burg: And to me, yeah, that was a difference maker.

55:43 Michael Port: So you stand in the service of others as you stand in the service of your destiny. It’s beautiful. Beautiful. Bob Burg, I love you, you’re the best. Listen, thank you so much for being here, and if people, I know there’s, they can go to, and I’m sure they can pick up The Go-Giver Leader, or The Go-Giver, anywhere books are sold. Is there anywhere else you want them to go?

56:05 Bob Burg: Yeah. If they go to, without the hyphen,, they can scroll down, check out the books, The Go-Giver, and the new one, The Go-Giver Leader, and we have a podcast that we have lately and they can subscribe to it there as well. Michael, thank you so much for having me on the show. I just love you and Amy, I adore you both, and it’s just such a privilege to be with you today.

56:28 Michael Port: Thank you so much. So, everybody, keep thinking big about who you are and what you are for the world. Thank you for your attention. I never take it for granted. And so if you have a moment, go ahead and give us a rating and a review. We’d really appreciate it. And go out in the world and be a performer. Not a critic, be a performer. See you next time.