Tag Archives: intermediate

Hollywood and New Skills

It’s been about 4 months since I started my new business, and about 4 weeks since I quit my job to pursue my business full-time.

At first there were a lot of tears, fears, and uncertainty. It’s pretty overwhelming to not know where the rent is going to come from. I wasn’t very good at sales, but I had to sell if I wanted to eat, so I had to get up each day and try again.

Fast-forward 4 weeks

There are still a lot of tears, fears, and uncertainty. I still have to sell if I want to eat, and I’m still not very good at it. The doubt and overwhelming pressure still make me cry at least once a day.

See, in Hollywood, there’s a lot of doubt leading up to The Big Decision. But once you’ve decided, then actually implementing the decision takes only as long as one inspirational pop song. You try, and you try, and you get better, and better, and soon you’re ready for the Final Showdown.

It’s harder to live through it

We all know that that’s a technique Hollywood uses to compress the boring parts. But in your real life, alas, you don’t get to do that. Acquiring skills is more like the “Toepick” scene in The Cutting Edge: you’re going to fall down many times, people will laugh at you, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference at all.

I promise you are getting better. But I promise that it won’t feel like it for a while.

Resources for Further Reading
Mastery and the Average Factory Worker (PG 13: language).

Never Eat Alone Metrics

In my last post, I reviewed Never Eat Alone, a book about making connections with other people and its relationship to success.

As you may know, my new year’s resolution is to improve my networking skill, since I will never get ahead in life if I remain the shy introvert that I currently am. But how do I do that?

Never Eat Alone is a great start: it’s got a lot of good information, and is very helpful when I’m wondering how-to or should-I. But a good portion of the book — half of the chapters — are about things you should always do when you meet people. How do I keep all of them in mind while I meet with my three-new-people-per-week?

Networking Metrics Sheet

This sheet is for people who’ve read Never Eat Alone, and want to see how well they live up to its instructions. If you haven’t read the book, some of the terminology may be a bit odd, but you should be able to figure out most of it.

At the top is some basic information: who are you meeting, when and where, and who is your point of contact (mutual friend, networking group, class you’re taking together, etc. How did you find out about this person in order to want to meet them?). And finally, why did you want to meet with this person in the first place?

Then a space for questions you want to ask them (letting them talk about themselves is a great way to impress them), and notes you take when you ask.

And finally, a scorecard (whose first point, ironically, is “Don’t Keep Score”. But that pertains to the relationship between you and the other person; this scorecard is to measure yourself.) For the skills or attitudes that Mr. Ferrazzi thinks are critical, how did you do? Rate yourself on a scale from 1-5, and fill in the appropriate number of bubbles. (Or answer the question posed, obviously. You’re smart — you can figure this out.)

Awesome Links

Get your Never Eat Alone free download.

Buy Never Eat Alone while simultaneously helping African children get an education. (Learn more).

Book Review: Never Eat Alone

As always, the product links in this post are affiliate links. Learn More.

I came across Never Eat Alone many years ago, but I ignored it. It had been recommended to me as a good book for salespeople, and I could clearly see how never eating alone would be helpful for salespeople… but I wasn’t a salesperson, and never would be, so why bother? (I’m pretty sure the recommendation came from Sales Dogs, which had just convinced me that everyone’s in sales, but what can I say? Sometimes I just don’t catch on very quickly.)

It’s not just for salespeople

Never Eat Alone will certainly be useful for salespeople (whether your business card says “sales” or not), but it is, as the cover says, “secrets to success, one relationship at a time”.

The fact is, success anywhere requires relationships. Any investor will tell you of the importance of building your team. Social intelligence is one of the three key tenants of being an iconoclast. More people get jobs through personal connections than through all other job-searching methods combined. Suppliers and assistants are more helpful, linchpin-y, and willing to bend the rules if they like you. Henry Ford famously demonstrated the benefits of having team members who are smarter than you. Jeffrey Gitomer sums it up: “All else being equal, people prefer to do business with their friends. All else being not quite so equal, people still prefer to do business with their friends.”

Having a strong, solid network can get you jobs you would never have heard of, get your business contracts, sales, or investors that you would never have a chance to meet, and warn you of investment opportunities before it’s too late to take advantage of them. No matter what your monetization plan, you need a network.

But I don’t want to be a sleaze-ball!

We have many pre-conceived notions of what it means to network, from the pit-bull salesperson who forces his business card into your hand to the boot-licking brown-noser who flatters her way into the corner office. I suspect that’s part of the reason Keith Ferrazzi avoids the verb “network”, preferring instead “connecting” “building relationships”, or similar, because of the negative connotations we associate with “networking”.

Rest assured, this book is not about being aggressive, dishonest, or sycophantic. In fact, there are entire chapters about how not to be the networking jerk.

This book is about honestly making genuine connections with people, and using those connections in a way that is kind, respectful, and helpful to both parties.

What could be improved

The margins are too narrow.

I traditionally start book reviews with the bad parts of the book, but there’s really nothing (apart from the lack of note-taking space) that I feel is sub-par. Oh, he recommends a lot of things that make me want to cry — I’m a shy introvert, and hosting a dinner party or cold-calling someone with a secretary is my idea of torture. But that’s my problem, not his.

What’s Awesome

The book starts with his explanation of why he thinks building a network of personal relationships is important — how it got him out of factory work and into CEO-level work, how it got him job promotions, sales, and opportunities, as well as making him lots of friends.

From there, each chapter focuses on a particular skill, concept, or attitude that he thinks is crucial for building, maintaining, and using a strong network. He tells a (frequently embarrassing) story about how he learned this skill or how he applies it, highlights the important steps or underlying ideas, and — in many cases — ends with a “Connector’s Hall of Fame Profile”, discussing someone who is particularly good at networking.

Recommendation: Buy It

I borrowed Never Eat Alone from my cousin, and it was well worth the time I put in to reading it. But the book is also a how-to manual of some depth, and you’re going to want to refer back to it fairly regularly. In the end, my cousin bought me a copy for my birthday so that I would give her copy back.

Buy Never Eat Alone while simultaneously helping African children get an education. (Learn more).

You can’t risk XP

I talked a couple weeks ago about the RPG metaphor for improving your abilities: the more you practice, the more XP you spend.

But if spending XP is identical to “practice”, why don’t I just say “practice?”

Because practice is a verb — it’s something you can choose to do or choose not to do. But experience point is a noun — it’s a resource that you have and want to use wisely. It was for that reason that I treat it as a thing, and asked you to track where you spend your XP: I want a poor use of XP to feel as painful as a poor use of money.

The difference between XP and money

There’s an important distinction, though, that sometimes gets overlooked, and that’s that you can lose money. You can lose it gambling, or on a bad investment, or on a good investment that had bad luck, or simply falling out of your pocket.

But you can’t lose XP

You, like everyone else, get 24 hours a day; 960 waking minutes to do with as you see fit. Whatever you spend that time doing, that’s what you’ll get better at. Your XP always turns into greater skill at something.

You can take more chances with XP

That means that you can spend XP on ventures with much greater uncertainty, without worrying about actual risk. You can start a blog with no idea what you’re doing, and the worst possible outcome is that you learn something about blogging. You can start a freelance business by setting up a profile on elance and pick.im, and the worst possible outcome is that you’ve learned something about freelancing and online marketing.

You can risk money; you can risk pride; you can risk relationships. But you cannot risk XP. Practice is the only investment with a guaranteed return.

Resources for Further Reading
Homework: Where are you spending your XP?
Resourcefulness
The best place to invest your money


Reminder: If you like to run your life on the calendar year, it’s time to schedule a time for your annual planning retreat.

Resources: Making big changes

I’ve provided a lot of information in the last couple of weeks on how to select a new year’s resolution — that is, how to decide which major change(s) you want to make in your life. But I haven’t talked at all about how to actually make those changes.

I was going to write a blog post on this, but as I thought about what to say, I realized that others have already said it.

Christopher Penn talks about the three questions to ask yourself before you jump off the cliff towards your aspirations.

Steve Pavlina talks about using the first few days of your motivation to set yourself up for success. He also explains the structure of a habit change (hint: it’s not 1. decide to change 2. change easily 3. live happily ever after), and gives an example of that structure in one of his habit changes.

Basically, it comes down to this: if you decide to make a change, you have to think about other changes that go along with it. Deciding to change your spending habits means also changing your eating-out habits and your spare-time habits and your grocery-shopping habits and your clothes-decision habits. Changing your eating habits means also changing what you order at a restaurant and which aisles you go down in the market and which foods you stock in the cupboard.

So think about all of that, and put together a plan to make it happen.

And since there wasn’t much value added to this post, you’ll also get your regularly-scheduled Thursday post this afternoon.

“Habit is habit and is not to be flung out the window by any man, but must be coaxed downstairs gently one step at a time” – Mark Twain