Today, I spoke with Keith Ferrazzi, who is the New York Times bestselling author of Never Eat Alone, one of the most connected individuals on planet earth and his new book is called Who’s Got Your Back. In this interview, Keith gives us some of the bigger ideas in his new book, such as how to choose the right people, how to keep in touch with contacts, how to find people who have your back and much more.
Keith, is it possible to be successful without a support system in place?
What I’ve seen, in both research and my work with clients, is that a deep support system is what separates the merely good from the truly great.
How do you choose three people that you know will have your back?
There’s a filtering process that I discuss more in the book, but basically you need to find people who embody the Four Mindsets: generosity, vulnerability, candor, and accountability. These are individuals who are generous enough to commit to your mutual success; vulnerable enough to establish trust and an intimate connection; candid enough to tell it like it is, even when you don’t want to hear it; and able to follow through to consistently hold you accountable.
As you grow older, how do you hang onto old connections, without having them drift?
You might remember “pinging” from Never Eat Alone – regular check-ins is the best way to keep relationships strong even when you have big gaps between seeing each other. Of course, in the years since Never Eat Alone, the Internet has provided no shortage of mainstream pinging machines – Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Geni, and so many more.
Creating structure around your relationships is also a great way to avoid “drift” – monthly dinners, weekly movie nights, an annual weekend retreat together. You might also launch a Who’s Got Your Back style accountability group, to turn your closest friends into Lifeline Relationships – deep, intimate relationships with people who are mutually invested in each other’s success.)
If you want to build a powerful brand, how much would you emphasize networking?
Networking’s not a term I like, because to so many people it means schmoozing. I don’t advocate schmoozing to build a powerful brand. I advocate connecting – developing genuine relationships that give you permission to have a continued dialogue. It’s in that ongoing dialogue that you start building your brand. Embracing generosity and the other three mindsets I describe above will give you a strong foundation to start with.
You say that the lone businessman model no longer works, but isn’t that what we are taught in school and what we see in the workforce? If not, how is this changing?
From the Industrial Revolution and on, when organizations were structured in such a way that people were cogs in a giant system, the core mindsets that support lifeline relationships – generosity, vulnerability, candor, and accountability – weren’t so important. These traits were even devalued as behaviors and mindsets that suggested weakness or failure.
This is a new economy. We’re moving out of the industrial age, maybe even moving out of the Information Age into what some, starting with Dan Pink, are calling the Conceptual Age, in which emotion, empathy, and cooperation are critical success traits. I’d venture to go ahead and call it the Relationship Age. We’re at a incredible moment when technology and human interaction are intersecting and trust, conversation, and collaboration are top of mind and top of agenda – we’re all Twittering about it!
We need new skills and new information. We are no longer cogs. And on top of all that, what we want is changing too. Personal joy and satisfaction are gaining sway over material things or status claims as our chief hallmarks of success.
All of this requires that we, as individuals and as a society, relearn core values and mindsets that we’ve lost to some degree. Again these are vulnerability, generosity, candor, and accountability.
How do we go about finding these people who have our back?
Those people are all around us. Of course there’s a filtering process, but it all starts with making a choice to recognize that you’re surrounded by insightful people who you could care about, and who could care about you. You just have to open yourself to the reality that they’re there to help.
Would you rather have a network of 5,000 people or 5 close contacts? Why?
Fortunately, no one has to make that choice – you can have both if you work at it.
Keith Ferrazzi transformed professional networking with his New York Times bestselling book, Never Eat Alone. Both Forbes and Inc. have called him “one of the world’s most connected individuals.” His latest book is called Who’s Got Your Back. He is the founder and CEO of the business consulting firm Ferrazzi Greenlight. Ferrazzi is a frequent contributor to CNN and CNBC. He has authored numerous articles for leading business and consumer publications, including Forbes, Inc., Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, and Reader’s Digest. He was previously Chief Marketing Officer at Starwood Hotels and served as Chief Marketing Officer for Deloitte Consulting. Ferrazzi serves on the Yale University Board of Alumni Governors and the Board of Trustees of the Kiski School, and is also a Fellow of the Berkeley College at Yale.