A Rich Man’s Greatest Secret

He’s rich, powerful, respected and proud of the fact that he has the same best friends since he was an early teenager.

Nothing was handed to him; he earned it all.

If you ask him, as I did in 2011, he’ll tell you his unusual success all comes down to consistent application of his “greatest secret to success”.

Think of it like a formula for gaining power and just about anything else you want in life.  This formula can work for you.  I’m sure of it.  It can turn you into a powerful, wealthy man if that’s what you want.

However, here’s the rub… You’ll probably reject it as too simplistic. Most people do.  You’ll see it as risky.  You’ll have to start giving a lot more of yourself and, odds are, you won’t want to do it.   You’ll think it’s unfair so you won’t really try.

Nevertheless – if you can get over yourself, apply and evolve the formula over time, you can have virtually anything you want.

Early in life, you probably discovered there are two ways to get what you want.   You can try to take what you want or you can find a way for the things you want to be given to you.  Of course, ‘taking’ can often be unethical so that’s not a long-term formula for success, which leaves us with convincing people/world to give us things.

How does one encourage the world to give its fruits?

It sounds a bit harsh when put this way, but it’s true: much of life is transactional.  We give when we get.  If I want something from the world, I know I have to earn it.   Whether it is love or a job or even a pleasant greeting from someone, you can have it all if you’re willing to give in advance.

As my friend put it,

“If you wanted people to do nice things for you and be a part of your life, you had to always keep the “friendship bank” in the black.”

A tactic to get what you want from others

‘Giving to Get’ is the first step in developing a value creation disposition and value creation is the secret to getting everything you ever wanted.  You can make great progress by developing the habit of always asking yourself, “how can I add value to this person/situation?”   It won’t come naturally.  It will require focus and training as you learn to set aside your desires so that you’re more objectively able to help another.

A Giving to Get approach can take you pretty far and most of the successful folks I know have mastered at least this step.  Giving to get is a tactic.  It’s manipulation and political maneuvering.  It is self-serving, first, which isn’t necessarily evil, but certainly can be.

Still, Giving to Get, or giving first and hoping for benefits later is the root of all successful relationships.   Give love if you want to receive love.  Give a kind word first if you’re hoping for one in return.  Give trust if you hope to be trusted.  Give your full faith and effort toward common cause if you want the same.

Giving to Get vs. Going to Bat

Giving works all the time, but most feel it’s risky so they hold back.   That’s precisely why the Give to Get crowd finds such greater success then average.   Being willing to take on the little bit of risk and give in advance moves Give to Getters up the ladder quickly.

Giving to get is effective and is why, unfortunately, most folks stop here, at step one, thinking they’ve reached the top.  Giving to Get produces results, but only in relatively tiny ways and in limited circles.  The truth is, Giving to Get is superficial.  It’s a start, but it’s the two dimensional version of value creation… productive in the short term and simply unwise in the long game.  [The “long game” is a topic for another day, but trust me, this is the game you want to be playing.]

So, what’s better than giving to get?

Try this for a change.   Try going to bat for someone.   Look to a friend or colleague who’s been struggling to beat back some demon or overcome an overwhelming obstacle… steel yourself and say to them, “don’t worry.  I got this one.”

I’m suggesting you do this without regard for any gain on your part.  I’m telling you to throw down for them.   Make their plight your own, not to be swept up in the drama of it, but to sweep it aside as a demonstration of your power and love for that other person.

In his words,

“It is truly amazing how learning to be generous, at all times, can change your life. As you know… it’s not an effort to “buy” people — that doesn’t work. It’s just an effort to let people know that you’re not ever going to “take” from them. And being with you — whether it’s dinner out on the town or working in your company — is always going to be over-the-top.”

Try it and see what happens.

How to create long lasting business partnerships

In the late 90’s a bright, ambitious financial writer managed to strike a deal with a successful publisher.  As part of the deal, this young writer received financial backing, mentorship and a stake in the new fledgling publishing company they created.  In exchange, he would be the driver of the business.  The partners would support him, but even at the start, everyone knew that success or failure rested most firmly on the shoulders of the writer-turned-entrepreneur.

More than a decade later both the partnership and the partners have flourished beyond anyone’s best hope. The partnership has become a 9 figure/year business and the undeniable leader in its industry.   There’s no way the business could have achieved such rare success if the partnership hadn’t been in a position to thrive along the way.

This profitable partnership shares the same qualities of other great partnerships I’ve witnessed, including:

1. Everyone understands ‘the deal’.   “I’m responsible for X, you’re responsible for Y and we’re going to share in the upside and downside 50/50 (or whatever).”

2. Everyone is an honest broker.  There can be no conflicts of interest.

3. There is genuine respect and admiration all around.    You might get into spats from time to time, but the shared interest and mutual respect ultimately win the day.

All this is pretty basic, but here’s the important part….

The business will evolve as will the lives and relationships of the partners.   Ultimately the evolution can make ‘the deal’ unfair for one or more of the partners.   Unfairness sows the seeds of the most destructive force in any relationship… resentment.   Resentment has the ability to take down your business in a way that no competitor or economic threat ever could.

“A deal is a deal” – is Bunk.

Relationships are not about contract enforcement.  They are about making sure that all parties have an environment where they can flourish individually and in pursuit of the shared goals.    As things evolve, “the deal” will need to evolve with it.

We’re not talking about the day to day workload or temporary shifts in contribution to shared goals.  Focusing on that type of ‘fairness’ is petty and deeply counterproductive.  We’re talking long term, fundamental changes that virtually ensure ‘the deal’ would be unfair as far into the future as one could imagine.

If you want a partnership to succeed over the long term, it’s up to you to always be mindful of the fairness for both you and your partners.