Today, I’m talking to Bob Burg. For 30 years, Bob’s been helping sales leaders and their teams more effectively communicate their value and grow their businesses in ways they never thought possible.
His book, The Go-Giver, is a Wall Street Journal bestseller that has sold close to a million copies since its release. It was rated #10 by Inc. Magazine as one of the Most Motivational Books Ever Written, and was on HubSpot’s 20 Most Highly Rated Sales Books of All Time.
Bob has been named one of the 30 Most Influential Leaders by The American Management Association, as well as one of Inc.’s 100 Great Leadership Speakers. I was fortunate enough to see Bob speak at our company’s Journey event in Indianapolis earlier this year, and I knew I had to get him on the show to share his wisdom with all you Blueprint listeners.
In our conversation, you’ll discover why shifting your mindset from “getting” to “giving” isn’t just the most fulfilling way to live life and do business, but it’s also the most profitable!
Here are 3 of my big takeaways from this episode…
- [07:03] The five principles covered in The Go-Giver, including what’s actually going through a prospect’s mind when making a purchase – and why the most successful financial advisors are the ones who place their clients’ interests ahead of their own.
- [36:11] The major mistakes that financial advisors make that lose them clients left and right – and how to ditch the elevator pitch, stop talking like a salesman, and get AND keep a prospect’s attention.
- [39:36] How to use Bob’s 10 Feel Good Questions to make a lasting impression with prospects at your next event – including the ONE key question that will set you apart from everyone else.
- [04:02] How Bob’s book, The Go-Giver, came to be – and why readers are so much better at connecting with a parable about business than a how-to manual.
- [11:24] Why making low fees your differentiator is a bad way to do business, and what financial advisors can do to truly stand out from the competition.
- [15:44] How the Ritz-Carlton conveys excellence in every step of the customer experience – and how any business can do this in order to totally own their demographic.
- [27:35] How Bob’s father, a.k.a. “The Original Go-Giver,” impacted his personal and professional life.
- [35:57] What Bob learned from interviewing Lisa Copeland, the #1 Alfa Romeo dealer in the United States – and why Lisa is rewarded, year after year, by providing a unique experience that enriches her customers’ lives.
- [39:36] The “not prospect-y,” rarely asked questions you should be asking prospective clients to set you apart from everyone else.
- [47:06] Why we’re only compensated based on how many people we serve and how well we serve them – and how creating a benevolent context for your success ultimately allows you to receive like never before.
- [49:27] What Larry King & Bob both believe the most successful people in the world have in common.
- [50:51] Bob shares the secret ingredient to becoming great at sales
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Bob Burg’s 10 Feel-Good Questions
- The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea
- Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales
- Adversaries into Allies: Win People Over Without Manipulation or Coercion
- Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success
- The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide with Work That Wows and Jobs That Last
- How To Win Friends and Influence People
REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
Thanks for checking out the latest show on to this weeks’ featured reviews.
This weeks’ first review comes to us from user 2014blt.
Really appreciate the review! I wish podcasts would have been a thing when I was first getting into financial services, amazing how you’re now able to virtually mentor under just about anyone! The one practice that I’ve always taken full advantage of though is making sure I surround myself with people I aspire to be like and can learn from, so well done on making sure you have a mentor in your early years. From my experience, you can shave years from your learning curve simply by learning from those that have been there before and eliminating those same mistakes they’ve made along the way. Thanks so much for the kind words and the review and good luck on your journey as a financial advisor.
The next review comes to us from user Phorton0919.
Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts! I love hearing that this podcast is not only bringing value to the new advisors out there but also those of you that have been doing it for a decade or more. It’s my goal to bring an eclectic mix of guests that are rock stars in their respective fields that we can all learn from regardless of whether we’re brand new or a seasoned veteran, all while trying to make it entertaining along the way. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a review and for listening in. More great guests and episodes on the way!
The last featured review for this week comes to us from user Mrshihtzu11.
Thanks again for listening in and also for subscribing. For those of you that may be new to the podcasting experience… make sure to subscribe if you want to be notified when each new show goes live and make sure you never miss an episode. Typically, on most podcasts, just scroll up, tap the subscribe button, and you’re all set from there. I love that this review mention not only valuable content, but the fact that there are actionable insights as well.
That’s one of my biggest goals for each episode is to give you ideas to implement immediately into your business and is why I highly recommend having a notebook close by while listening in. It’s my practice as well during each interview to take extensive notes. In fact, many of the ideas shared by past guests have directly impacted my own business. Oftentimes, I joke that I would be doing this podcast regardless of whether or not anyone was listening to it, as the conversations I’ve had over the years have literally changed my business and life. It’s been an incredible journey over the last three years that I’ve grown to love, so I’m glad it’s helping many of you who’ve been listening in along the way!
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For those of you that have interest in diving deeper or figuring out how you may be able to have our team help you implement many of the ideas shared on the show, my day job happens to be consulting financial advisors from all over the US on how to grow their business and design a practice that serves them, versus them serving it. Yes it’s possible to grow your business and work less, this is a model we’ve replicated over and over in markets all over the country… So, if you’d like to apply to see if it makes sense for us to have a 1-on-1 conversation on how to overcome what may be getting in your way, you can do that at bradleyjohnson.com/apply. It takes about 5 minutes to fill out the application so we can understand what your business looks like, what challenges you may be facing and how myself and my team may be able to help. We then dive into a Discovery session where we ask a lot of questions based on your survey. We do a lot of listening, and take a lot of notes to build a rough draft of our proprietary Elite Advisor Blueprint – 90 Day Plan™. Taking the first step is as simple as applying at bradleyjohnson.com/apply 🙂
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Brad Johnson: Welcome to this episode of the Elite Advisor Blueprint Podcast. I have special guest, Bob Burg, here with us today. Welcome to the show, Bob.
Bob Burg: Thanks, Brad. Great to be with you.
Brad Johnson: Well, it hasn’t been that long since I was graced with your presence. I have the opportunity to see you live out in Indianapolis at our journey event and you absolutely crushed it there so I thought why not just continue the value and have you guest on the show here. So, thanks for joining here.
Bob Burg: That was a lot of fun. That was a terrific group of people. They made me feel very welcome. I love the mission of the company. I love what you guys are doing.
Brad Johnson: Well, thank you. Well, so for those that aren’t familiar, we’re probably going to dive in pretty deep into your book, The Go-Giver, which I think if you’re in business and you haven’t heard of The Go-Giver by now, you’ve been hiding under a rock somewhere because I think it was first introduced to me years back, which is obviously a parable and we’ll dive into that today. But just out of the gates, obviously, you’ve done successful in business over your career, Bob. I’m just curious how did The Go-Giver, the actual book project, come to be? It’s a parable. It’s not like one of those boring business books with all kinds of principles. It’s told in story form. How did that happen in the first place?
Bob Burg: Well, years ago back in the 90s, actually, I came up with my first book called the Endless Referrals, the subtitle, Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales and that was a traditional boring how-to book and it was on how to really how to cultivate relationships that would lead to people feeling good about you, knowing you, liking you, trusting you, wanting to do business with you, wanting to refer you to others. It was really my system for endless referrals. And over the years, I’ve read a lot of business parables. I just always enjoyed them and found them a great way to a quick read, a great way to learn. You can connect this through a story much better than with a how-to. And so, I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d love to take the basic premise of Endless Referrals which was that all things being equal people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust and put that into a business parable.
So, the first thing I basically did was ask, okay, so what is the basic essence of a person, an entrepreneur or sales professional who’s able to create those know, like, and trust relationships both quickly and sustainably? And the answer is that they’re always giving, giving value, always looking for ways to make other people’s lives better, right? And so, we came up with the title The Go-Giver, but the best thing I did for this book was to ask John David Mann to co-author with me. John was the editor-in-chief of the magazine I used to write for. Back then he wasn’t as well-known as he is now. He’s the co-author and ghostwriter of choice for all the publishers and agents who have celebrities who really can’t write but who have a great story to tell and John is the… but back then few people knew about how brilliant a storyteller he was. Fortunately, I was one of the ones who knew. So, I asked John and when I say asked, I mean, pleaded with John to be the lead author and storyteller of the book. And so, we collaborated on it and it’s been a fun ride.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, I mean, now it’s published in all kinds of different languages and it’s traveled all over the world. I think what’s cool about it is the principles are timeless and even in just the very beginning of the book, you tell a bit of the story of all of the different businesses. It’s impacted all of the like high school teachers were basically teaching their students out of it. So, for those that aren’t familiar, can we do just kind of a high-level overview of the five principles covered in the book? And maybe throw in a story or two of kind of your main protagonist and the journey he goes through as he uncovers that?
Bob Burg: Yeah. It’s basically about a young guy named Joe. He’s a young ambitious aggressive up and coming sales professional, a good guy, but he’s sort of has his focus in the wrong place. He’s very eye focused. It’s all about Joe. It’s about Joe meeting quota. It’s about who owes Joe what and so forth. And what happens is he meets a main mentor by the name of Pindar and he kind of learns a very important lesson, which is really the premise of the story, and that is that shifting your focus, and this is really the key, shifting your focus from getting to giving. And when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing exceptional value to others. Understanding that doing so is not only a nice way, a pleasant way of conducting business. It’s the most financially profitable way as well. And not for some woo-woo way out there reasons. It actually when you think about it, it makes very logical, rational sense.
When you’re that person who can take the focus off of yourself and place it on others, making other people’s lives better, people feel good about you. They want to get to know you. They come to like you and trust you and want to be part of your world, part of your business. You know, it’s sort of, I believe I said this at the conference and I say this a lot when I speak to sales organizations say that, you know, nobody is going to buy from you because you have a quota to me. They’re not going to buy from you or invest in you or however you want to call it. They’re not going to do this because you need the money and they’re not even going to do this because you’re a really nice person. Right? They’re going to buy from you, they’re going to do business with you, they’re going to invest with you because they believe they will be better off by doing so than by not doing so and in the basically free-market economy in which we all operate.
Bob Burg: And when I say free market, I simply mean no one is forced to do business with anyone else. Okay. So, in this type of economy, that’s the only reason why anyone should buy from you or from me or from anyone else because they believe they will be better off as a result of doing so. And what’s great about this is it means that that salesperson, entrepreneur, advisor, whomever, who is able to place their self-interest aside, not deny self-interest. We’re human beings. Were self-interested creatures, okay? But to place that aside and really just place your focus on that other person, the entire goal, bringing them immense value, that’s the person who thrives. You know, Adam Grant, he’s a professor, a behavioral research psychologist professor at Wharton Business School, wrote a very, very popular book bestseller called Give and Take.
And he cited a study of Australian financial advisors who were the top producers, the top money-earning financial advisors, and the question was what made them so special? What separated them from everyone else? And of course, there were certain points of a financial acumen was important but a lot of people with financial acumen advisors do well, but it’s not a separator, right? It doesn’t distinguish you. They also worked hard. But again, many financial advisors work hard. No. What it was, was that these advisors place the interest of their clients ahead of themselves. They placed the interest of their clients ahead of their company. And as a result, that was the determining factor with everything else being equal and they became the highest producers. So, again, there’s nothing woo-woo about this. This is very, you know, it’s very logical when you think about it. Even though sales and business typically isn’t logical, that is actually very logical the reason why this works.
Brad Johnson: Right. Bob, do you mind running through the five laws just for those that aren’t super familiar with the book?
Bob Burg: Not at all. The five laws themselves are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity. And the first one, the law of value, Brad, that is the foundational principle, right? And it simply says your true worth in the business sense, your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment. Now, you first hear that, it’s a little counterintuitive, right? Because give more in value than I take in payment, I mean, that sounds all nicely nice and everything but it also sounds like a recipe for bankruptcy. So, we have to understand the difference between price and value. Price is a dollar figure. It’s a dollar amount. It’s finite. It is what it is. A financial advisor, regardless of whether they are fee-based or commission-based or however you want to do it, there’s going to be a fee that they charge, obviously, for doing that.
What’s a value that a financial advisor gives the client? Well, first, they’re helping them create and manage wealth. Over the course of that person’s investment lifetime, there’s going to be a lot more money they receive back from it than what they’ve put in. They are helping that person to have the confidence and the peace of mind and the security of knowing that they have a nest egg and/or they’re going to be able to do things when they get older that they wouldn’t be able to do without the knowledge and wisdom and the help of this advisor. They may be building up money to assist a cause that they really like or to leave a legacy financially for their children. Whatever it is, as a financial advisor, by the very nature of what you do, you’re giving that client much more in value than what you’re taking in payments. So, they feel great about it and, of course, you also make a very healthy profit.
Bob Burg: The challenge with this though, is that that’s just the intrinsic value you offer. Any other financial advisor can pretty much promise the same thing and in many ways be able to do it. So, what separates you, well, not you but the person listening or any financial advisor from everyone else? Because let’s face it, if a prospective customer or client cannot distinguish between any two or more advisors, it’s always going to come down to who has the lowest fee or commission or what have you. And unless your last name is Walmart or Amazon.com, trying to make low price or low fee or low commission your unique selling proposition is not a good way to do business. It’s not productive. It’s not profitable. It’s certainly not sustainable. So, what we need to do is be that additional value. We need to be that which distinguishes us from the other advisors.
And I call this type of value, extrinsic value, okay, because it’s everything that is not just by the very nature of what the product or service is supposed to do or be. So, how do you communicate that extrinsic or that additional value? Well, the good news is there are hundreds of ways to do so but they tend to come down to five what we call elements of value, and these elements of value are excellence, consistency, attention, empathy, and appreciation. And to the degree that we can communicate one or more hopefully all five of these elements of value at every single touchpoint from that first moment we meet that person, whether it was something inbound or outbound or referral or whether it was and all the way through the relationship-building process through the follow-up and follow-through through the actual presentation, through the referral process, to the degree that we communicate those elements of value that is the degree we separate ourselves from the competition and we take price or fee out of the picture.
Brad Johnson: Bob, can you share – one of my favorite examples you shared at in your event, speaking of, number one, excellence was just your communication that you can train your staff to have and you shared an awesome example from the Ritz-Carlton. Can you share that to the listeners here?
Bob Burg: Yeah, because excellence, aside from being competence, excellence is also simply how you make people feel at every touchpoint. Tom Peters and his newest book, The Excellence Dividend, had a great saying in there. He said, “Excellence is the next five minutes. In other words, in the next one minute. In other words, what are you doing right now that that’s excellent?” And I see something like that as the way you from answering the phone to the way you put someone on hold, to the way that you answer your emails, to the way that you always make sure that the way you’re communicating to someone says that you value that person. And I brought up the example, if you go to a Ritz-Carlton, any of the guests contact employees, which at a Ritz-Carlton is everyone. They will never greet you by saying, hi, hey, or how are you doing? It’s always good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, depending upon the time of day.
When you ask them for help, aside from putting down what they’re doing and assisting you, they also when you thank them, they will never, ever say, “No problem.” They won’t even say, “You’re welcome.” They’ll say, “My pleasure.” Now, the interesting thing about this is someone could say, “Well, that’s the Ritz-Carlton. They’ve got the training and they’ve got the budget. They got this and they got that.” Well, here’s the thing. Any other hotel in the country in the world from an international conglomerate to a small mom and pop could do the same thing. Marriott, Hyatt, Westin, all fine, fine properties, and they do that sometimes. Super 8 hotels could do it. Motel 6 where Tom Bodett leaves the lights on for us, okay, they could do it. And you know who else could? Dave and Mary and their three staff members, team members at Dave and Mary’s Stop and Stay In. They could do it too.
Bob Burg: Now, someone might say, “Well, Bob, wait a second, though. You know, Dave and Mary and their team of three could say, good morning, good afternoon, and my pleasure until the cows come home. They’re not taking the market share away from Ritz-Carlton.” Of course, they’re not but they will absolutely own their targeted demographic. And I’ll just tell you, they will take market share from Motel 6 and possibly from Super 8 and the reason why is because they become that place that when you go there, they make you feel special. You know, they welcome you. You know, they’re going to remember your name and they’re going to make sure you’re treated like a – and so, see, those are those things we can do. That means when someone comes into your office, it means everyone there who passes by them smiles at them, asked if they’re comfortable, would they like a cup of coffee or tea or water or what have you, but we make sure they’d be amused when you put someone on hold. You don’t say, “Hold.” It means, “May I put you on hold, please?” And it’s all those different things that we can do and we can systemize in order that it’s consistent which is the next element of value.
Brad Johnson: Well, I think that was the key thing there is at the Ritz-Carlton it happens every time. Not sometimes.
Bob Burg: Yeah. No exceptions. No excuses.
Brad Johnson: So, let’s go to because I know our time here is short today and we’ve got way too much to cover in our time together. Let’s go to gratitude which is kind of number five or appreciation as you shared. What are some key things there? Obviously, knowing our audience are independent financial advisors out there, some ways you’ve seen advisors or maybe other businesses relate to a financial advisor show gratitude in their business and maybe what that’s even led to over time for their business?
Bob Burg: Yeah. Well, gratitude first is basically a way of being. It’s a way of seeing the world. We see the world with gratitude. We appreciate all those things. Here’s the thing, Brad. I say that gratitude is the trait which makes happiness possible. Why? Because you can have all the blessings in the world and it doesn’t have to be a yacht. It could be anything from being able to see touch, taste, hear, smell, to be able to walk, to be able to drink a cup of coffee in the morning, to have a roof over your head and to work with people and to be able to, you know, these are things for which to be very grateful. But here’s the thing, if we’re not grateful for them, it’s the same as not having them and you can’t possibly be happy. So, what does that have to do with being an element of value? Well, people who are happy are attractive.
And when I say attractive, I don’t necessarily mean looks-wise, although everyone looks better and more attractive when they’re happy, when they have a smile on their face but what I mean is that people want to be around people who feel good or who are happy, who live in gratitude, right? And it’s just a way. Now, but it’s not enough just to feel that way. It’s important to express, to communicate that gratitude and that means saying thank you. It means saying thank you as often as you can possibly find ways to say thank you. For anyone who does good things that benefit you, and maybe even people who you’d like to have do good things that benefit you, thanking them in advance. It means that when you meet a person at a mixer or a charity event, it means you send them a personalized handwritten thank you note that says thank you, “Hi, Dave,” or, “Hi, Mary. Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you. If I can ever refer business your way I certainly will.”
Bob Burg: Or, “Hi, Joanne,” or, “Hi, Tom. It was great meeting you with our kids’ ball game last night. I thought your Sally and my Tommy were the two best out there,” with a smiley face and to send it in a number 10 envelope, handwritten, hand-stamped, and send that out and that’s gratitude but it also says to that person, “Wow. That’s a person who’s professional. That’s a person who dots the Is and cross the Ts. That’s a person who is probably very competent at what they do.” And so, there’s really all these things and, by the way, this also goes with the people who are on our teams, thanking them at the end of the day for having come in. I’ve done that for years and I’m not saying it to brag or anything but I’m saying this is feedback I received from people who’ve worked with me that they love the fact that I thank them every day for having come in. That means a lot to people. So, when we do these things, when we express gratitude to anyone and everyone, wow, what a difference it makes and makes us more attractive to us.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I think what’s so interesting about that, here are my notes from you speaking out the event, whenever we can we say thank you to people, gratitude we feel is the gratitude we express. And I think what happens so often is it’s felt like, wow, that waitress was awesome or that waiter was awesome but we don’t actually take that extra step to communicate it to them. And when you do, it’s the most amazing thing because nobody else does and it just lights up their day. Even in your book, you never know how those little acts of kindness circle back around. Like one of the very opening pieces of your book, Joe or not Joe, the main character, the mentor talks about he bumps into a random old guy on the street and he apologizes for running into him and then that ends up being his future wife’s dad that he runs into later that day.
Bob Burg: Okay. So, here’s the thing that you brought this up, because a lot of the stories in the book even though it is a fictional story, these are things that happened. So now, it didn’t end up in a wedding but my dad told me the story when I was a little kid. There are a couple of stories about my dad in there that we told through Pindar and Joe, of course, but one of them was dad was on his way to pick up a date and he actually did, you know, a guy did bump into him, an older guy, and the guy was very embarrassed because it was obviously his fault and dad’s in all service, “It’s fine. Are you okay?” And that’s dad. That is how he was and it turned out about an hour later dad was over the person’s house picking up his daughter and when the date introduced dad, my dad, well, not my dad at the time but my dad who become my dad, she said to her dad, “Oh, Daddy, I want you to meet Mike Burg. This is my date,” and the man said, “Oh, that’s the nice young man who I bumped into,” and he was so grateful to my dad. Well, you know, that’s a true story. Those things do happen.
Brad Johnson: So, that story was actually your dad’s story.
Bob Burg: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: It was not your mom, though.
Bob Burg: No, that part wasn’t…
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, tell me some more stories about your dad.
Bob Burg: Well, okay. So, there was one. Remember when Pindar and Joe were talking and remember, we had a subplot about Joe and Sue, his wife, and they had a real kind of 50/50 relationship and it was always who owes who what and I did this, now you do that, and they were kind of, you know, they love each other but they were having a little bit of a difficult time. And Joe said to Pindar, “You know, how is it that you and Mrs. Pindar have been married for 50 years?” and Pindar said, “Well, you know, Joe, when you really love someone you care about their…” or actually he said, “I care about her happiness more than I care about my own.” And Joe said, “Well, wouldn’t some people call that codependent?” And Pindar said, “Yeah, they would. You know what I would call it?” and Joe said, “Happy?” And Pindar said, “Exactly.” Now, here’s a story. This again was with my dad. Now, I put the part in there about codependent because you’ve got to be when you write a book or you do a blog or something, there’s always someone who if you don’t explain that, they’re going to say, “Oh, so you’re saying someone should take abuse?”
Of course, that obviously wasn’t what we were saying but this was based on when I was about 10 years old, and a bunch of my friends’ parents were getting divorced and my folks had a great marriage. They still do. And I said to my dad, “You know, dad, why is it that so many of my friends’ parents are getting divorced and you and mom have such a great marriage?” And he said, “You know, Bob, when you really love someone, you actually care more about their happiness than you do your own.” Now, again, this is not in any way meant that where it’s a one-sided type of thing. It’s where both people truly love each other or as my mom always said when they truly like each other, both people are giving 100%. It’s not 50/50. And that’s why the lesson and the story which Pindar brought back around to business is that great business, great relationships are not 50/50. They’re simply 100.
Bob Burg: And when you have both people giving 100, you actually create a bigger pie for everyone. But, yeah, so that was another dad story. There were a number of stories that were based on things that actually happened which was fun to kind of put the story in.
Brad Johnson: That’s cool to hear. I’m glad you shared that. So, let’s take a segue. That’s what I love about conversations like this is I just like to let them go where they go. So, what I’m hearing from my side is, obviously, your dad had a big influence and impact on you. Was he in business? Obviously, you’ve done well for yourself. What did your dad and kind of some of that mentorship and how he modeled love for your mom, how did that relate to you down the road?
Bob Burg: So, he and my mom both grew up very poor and depression-era time and my dad was really Americana, the slums and the tenement. You know, the tenement houses and the whole thing, it was right out of a Norman Rockwell kind of thing but they were entrepreneurs and mom kind of ran the business for dad. He ended up having a – and the only way I can really describe this is a gymnasium school for kids that was based on building self-confidence through physical activities such as sports and self-defense. When he got out of World War II, he ran the 5th Street Fight Gym for Angelo and Chris Dundee in Miami Beach. And this was Angelo Dundee would eventually train Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, a whole bunch, but back then this was back in the 50s right after the war and the gym was just really starting out. It was still big. It was kind of the Miami gym.
And so, when dad came back up north, I’m from Massachusetts, the Greater Boston area, dad opened up a like a one-room place where he taught boxing and it expanded to where he was teaching kids self-defense, sports, but the parents would work in with their children and then dad would also talk with them afterwards. He ended up actually having a full-page article in Time Magazine written about him, and he never went to college. He had a gift and he always had a gift with people. And so, he also worked very hard and it was not a sometime thing with him. I mean, I saw him get calls from families at two in the morning who are having a problem and he gets up out of bed and he’d go over there.
Bob Burg: So, it was really something I grew up with learning how we work with people. Yeah, that was a good – and mom was wonderful. She was just more comfortable kind of behind the scenes. Dad was more of the out-in-the-public type of person as I am, right? So, only with him, it was more local. It was the Massachusetts area, but they used to have psychologists and psychiatrists sending kids and sending families to dad’s gymnasium school and so it was a pretty big deal.
Brad Johnson: Wow. So, your dad was kind of the original -o giver. That’s what it sounds like.
Bob Burg: You know something, yeah, t’s a great way to say it. You’re absolutely right. You’re absolutely right.
Brad Johnson: It’s so cool to hear that. I know one of the things I found with this podcast is we talk a lot about business but we also talk a lot about what’s the point of building a successful business if your wife and your kids don’t know who you are. And so, a lot of it also segues into just building a business that actually serves your family and so that’s cool to hear that your dad really modeled that from the get-go for you. And a lot of his stories ended up translating into this book, which I guess what, it’s sold a few copies over the years.
Bob Burg: Yeah. A few.
Brad Johnson: What your dad think about this book when he heard some of those stories and how they were resonating with people?
Bob Burg: Well, he knows I always tell stories about him that there was a story about dad that got into my book, Adversaries Into Allies. His dad was the greatest when it came to people skills and I know you’re a big fan of Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. And so, for dad, I’m not a big believer in the natural salesperson or the natural leader, right? We may have an inclination to like someone being an athlete have might have an inclination to be an athlete. They have good small motor and gross motor control. But if they’re not in the batting cage every day and if they’re not there, they’re only going to get so far. And it’s the same with the leader. You might have an inclination toward it, but unless you study it, you learn it, and it’s the same with sales. It’s typically as, you know, it’s not the person with the gift of gab who’s a natural. It’s the one who has a gift of listening who is more inclined to be but it’s still not natural. We need to learn these things.
But I got to tell you, he just had a natural way with people. His people skills were just him. And you know, I always say the single greatest people skill is a highly developed and authentic interest in the other person. And I model that, you know, off of that but one of my favorite stories and this one actually got picked up over the internet and got in a couple of other books too but there was a time and remember now this is in the 60s. So, the situation is a little bit different than it is now the way and I remember and I was probably again about I had to be 11, 12 years old, maybe at the most. And we were having the carpet redone. I remember we were in another part of the house while they were working. And at lunch, my folks bought pizza for the crew and my dad went out there to talk with the crew chief and he was one of these kind of gruff kind of guys who was, you know.
Bob Burg: And I remember he said something to my dad and I was around the corner listening. They didn’t know I was there and the guy said, “I’ll tell you. This is an expensive job. Women will really spend your money, won’t they?” You know, again, this is back in the 60s so I don’t want anybody to, you know. And dad just he responded as I knew he would. He said, “Well, tell you what, when they’re the reason that you’re successful, you want to do anything for them you possibly can.” And that he didn’t say it in a way putting the other guy down. He didn’t say it judgmentally because that’s not how my dad did it, but that wasn’t the answer the person expected and he kind of tried again. He said, “Well, yeah, but they’ll really take that to where they can,” and he said, “Well, tell you what, it’s my pleasure to do anything. She’s just the best thing that ever happened.” Well, still he tried one more time and I’m almost laughing at this point because I know my dad’s not going to give in and ever say anything that would in any way de-edify my mom. There’s no way. And he said, “Yeah, but they’re…” and my dad is, “Well. You know, I’ll tell you…” Well, finally the guy gave up.
And I remember just thinking to myself, first of all, I wonder if this guy just like learned a lesson that a real man doesn’t down talk his wife. A real man edifies and compliments and speaks highly of those he loves. I doubt the guy learned that lesson but maybe he wouldn’t be so quick to say it, again, but it taught me a lesson, of course, because as you know, as kids, we embody what we see, not what we’re told. And so, but people did love that story, but that was dad. You know, that was my dad and mom.
Brad Johnson: He didn’t preach it. He modeled it.
Bob Burg: Exactly, yeah.
Brad Johnson: Just as an aside and I think it’s a valuable lesson and we’re all humans. We all make mistakes and dads live up to our potential every day. But you think about just the people that you enjoy being around in the company or the couples that you enjoy being in the company of, they never break each other down. They build each other up.
Bob Burg: That’s so true.
Brad Johnson: And I think the other thing is when you talk negatively about people, if I talk negatively about a mutual friend we have with you, Bob, the next thing you wonder when you turn around is, “What does Brad say when I’m not here?”
Bob Burg: What is he saying about me, right? Exactly.
Brad Johnson: And so, it’s just like a life lesson and, obviously, it translates to business but it translates to everything is just do your best to never say anything negative about anybody and it’ll serve you really well.
Bob Burg: It really will. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Right on.
Brad Johnson: Well, that’s cool to hear that story from your dad. Alright. So, once again, not a lot of time here. So, I want to go a different direction here. You host a podcast. You’ve had a lot of very interesting people on, a lot of authors, thought leaders. Do you have any favorite stories or lessons from the podcast, I mean, I think you’re over 100 episodes now, that just really stick out? I’ve got many of those by talking with interesting people like yourself over the years but always loved to ask that when I know somebody is running their own podcast.
Bob Burg: Okay. So, there’s a woman by the name of Lisa Copeland. She is out of Austin. And Lisa, she’s now an author and a speaker, but for many years, she was the owner and general manager of the Alfa Romeo Fiat dealership in Austin and it was I think the biggest selling one in the country year after year. How did this happen? Well, Lisa, who was successful in the mortgage business before that, she went into a car dealership to buy a car. She had the check with her, didn’t need financing, very expensive car she was buying. And the salesperson actually said to her that before he would take her out on a test drive, he wanted to have her husband here with her. Oh, my goodness. She said, “No, thank you,” and she walked out. And she said she never wants another woman to have to go through that again.
And she actually opened up a dealership. Okay. She was a salesperson. She knew how to sell a Jeep but had not had experience in that business. The most successful Alfa Romeo and something. I don’t know if it’s Fiat, but it’s Alfa Romeo and something. And until again, she stopped doing that, but what she did is she made it so that she created an amazingly comfortable buying experience for men and women. Everyone was treated correctly. And I love those stories where someone takes something ridiculous that happened and says, “You know what, I just don’t want other people to have to go through that,” and they bring value to the marketplace. And they make a ton of money from it. That’s free enterprise. That’s free-market capitalism. You solve a problem in the marketplace, you find a way to bring value either where it wasn’t before, or you improve upon it.
Brad Johnson: Well, there’s a lot there, Bob, in financial services. A lot of financial advisors make the mistake. You know, there’s a husband and wife sitting there side by side right in front of them across the desk and they’re sitting there the whole time 90%, 95% of the time just talking to the husband. Because in the traditional sense of old families, it was always the male that made the money decisions and they don’t realize it, but they’re losing potential clients, left and right. So, it’s a good lesson in the car business, it’s a good lesson in financial services, or really any business that treats everyone equally.
Bob Burg: Exactly.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. I mean, just as a quick aside, I mean, I’ve seen a few examples of that in financial services. A lot of our offices do an agenda for the meeting, print two copies, and slide them to both, the husband and the wife so they know they’re equally valued. Ask a question and start with the wife and then get the husband’s feedback and then vice versa, because guess what? My wife and I don’t agree on every aspect of every decision we make. So, guess what? Sometimes there’s two sides to that and our very best advisors are almost like therapist and marriage counselors finding a middle ground. And so, it’s cool you shared that story. I want to go to you shared some amazing stuff out in Indianapolis about questions when it comes to connecting with people and showing up differently versus the, “Hey, what do you do for a living?” So, can you share some of those because I know a lot of advisors out there can benefit from that.
Bob Burg: Well, it was when you meet someone for the first time at an event and it could be your kid’s ball game, it could be a charity event, it could be the Chamber of Commerce business exchange function that people say, “Well, that doesn’t work.” No, it doesn’t because most people do it in such a way that it’s not going to work, right? People walk around, they glad and backhand slap and shake hands, stick business cards into people’s faces and basically say, “Give me a call.” I mean, that’s not what they do, but it’s pretty close. I kind of comes across that way when you meet someone, hand the business card, and kind of hit them up for business. And really what we need to do again is shift our focus. Move from that eye focus to that other focus. And so, when we do ask that person for what they do, and they tell us, and again, we’ll get you the same example that we use at the event that he says his name is Gary and he sells copying machines to business. And he asked us what we do. And what I’m going to suggest you don’t do is give him…
Actually, what he does is he probably gives you a big elevator speech, right, because that’s what everybody is taught to do, “We always sell high-end copy machines to companies to modernize the current and we help blah, blah, blah, blah.” That’s just what people are taught. So, you listen respectfully, of course, but when they ask what you do, don’t even a great benefit statement like, “Well, we help people create and manage wealth,” don’t even do that. Not right now. Just say, “You know, I’m a financial advisor with ocean side of investments,” whatever you want to say. You’re not avoiding it but here’s the thing. Right now, at this point when they first meet you, their interest in you and in what you do can really be summarized in three words, okay? They don’t care. So, if you come up with that big elevator speech and the whole ad, you know, it’s a turnoff. You’re like everybody else and again, they’re looking at who they’re going to talk to for the next conversation. Instead, focus on that person, and I have what I call feel-good questions to ask.
Bob Burg: So, these are not prospect-y questions. They’re not intrusive. They’re not invasive. They simply make this person feel genuinely good about themselves, about the situation, and about you. Okay? And so, for example, again, Gary sells copying machines and so you might say, “Gary, how did you get started selling copying machines?” Or a little bit more elegant would be to say, “Gary, how did you get started as an office products professional?” and this is a question that, you know, it’s not a slick question. It’s not a clever question. It’s pretty mundane, actually, but people love to answer that question. I call it the movie-of-the-week question because you’re making this person the star. And this is not something that generally happens with this person. How many people ask him to tell his story about how he got started in the fascinating career of selling copy machines.
His own family has never asked him that question, most likely. And here’s you who he’s met for the first time who rather than all of a sudden talking about what you do. No, you’re simply asking him to tell you his story. The next question is sort of a follow up to that, which is, what do you enjoy most about what you do? Now, it might come across more like, “Wow, you must have had some fascinating stories over the years.” What do you enjoy most about your work or what do you enjoy most about what you do? Again, it’s a feel-good question. It elicits a feel-good response. Kind of flies in the face of so much sales teaching where we’re taught to immediately find their pain or reach to their heart and tear it out. So, well there’s a time and place obviously where when we’re sitting down to share with them and to do the presentation, we may have to help communicate tactfully how we’re going to solve their financial pains or what have you. That’s a different thing.
Bob Burg: But right now, when you first meet that person, that was not the time to find their pain. It’s the time to find their joy and have them associate that joy with you. Now, once you’ve asked a couple of those questions, now it’s time to ask what I call the one key question that will separate you from everyone else. This is, again, not one of the feel-good and I have 10 of those questions in my arsenal. You’ll never have time to ask all 10. In fact, even if you do have time, don’t because just a couple is all you want.
Brad Johnson: You have those on your website, right?
Bob Burg: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: We can put that link in the show notes.
Bob Burg: Yeah. Burg.com/10Q for 10 questions. Yeah.
Brad Johnson: Awesome. We’ll put that in the show notes for everyone.
Bob Burg: Yeah. But only ask two or three of them at the most. Otherwise, you will come across like an investigative reporter. No, you don’t want to do that. But so, once you’ve asked a couple of those questions, now it’s time to ask that one key question and this will absolutely set you apart and establish value in that person’s mind. And the question sounds like this, “Gary, how can I know if someone I’m speaking with is a good prospective client for you?” Or Mary, who’s a chiropractor, “Mary, how can I know if someone I’m speaking with is a good prospective patient for you?” Or, “Dave, how can I know if someone I’m speaking with would be the customer for you?” however you want to say it. And by the way, if it’s someone who’s not in sales, per se, we’re on sales kind of but you know what I mean? It’s not something where that would be maybe it’s the CEO or someone in accounts receivable or someone who’s not in any business.
The question might be, “How can I know someone I’m speaking with would be a good connection for you or would be someone you’d like to meet?” But let’s look at, let’s go back to Gary for a second and see how this plays out. He sells copying machines and you say, “Gary…” A good way, by the way, to lead into that question is to say, “You know, I always love connecting good people with other good people. How can I know if someone I’m speaking with would be a good client for you?” Well, Gary, again, he’s just amazed that you’ve asked this question, and he thinks about it for a moment. He says, “Well, I guess if you’re ever in an office, and you notice a copying machine, and next to that copying machine is a wastepaper basket and that wastepaper basket is filled to the rim and just overflowing with crumpled-up pieces of paper, that’s a good sign that copy machine has been breaking down a lot lately, and that would be an excellent prospect for me.” So, Gary has just shown you, he’s told you how to add significant value to his life.
Bob Burg: And right now, he in this five to seven-minute conversation, Gary already sees you as someone who could play a significant role as part of his sphere of influence.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Those were gold when you share them so thanks so much, Bob, for running back through those. And what’s funny is it just circles right back around to the whole parable of The Go-Giver, which is just giving first. And guess what? People that do that in life, it always comes back. Always. Especially if there’s no expectation.
Bob Burg: Yeah. You know, and that’s where we have law five is the law of receptivity and we’ve got to allow ourselves to receive because what we do when our focus is really on bringing immense value to the lives of others and serving many others with that value. The law of compensation says your income is determined by how many people you serve, and how well you serve them. So, when we give value like this to others and do this intelligently, thoughtfully, authentically, and constantly, we’ve done what I call create a benevolent context for your success. And, as you know, I also put a big focus on understanding, learning how to ask appropriately for referrals and introductions, and so we make it proactive. It’s not just reactive. But as the business comes in, you’ve got to allow yourself to receive.
And with the messages we get from the world around us when it comes to prosperity and abundance and money, they’re not mixed messages. They’re negative messages. And if you look at so much of the news and the teachings on the different, you know, you think everybody who makes a lot of money did it on the backs of others or by being crooked or by doing that. It’s a big world out there. There’s people who do bad things. But you know, by and large, and I’ll say this, for anyone who works in the free market aspect of our country, okay, which again means no one’s forced to buy some. No one’s paid government for special rules and regulations that you know what I’m saying? I’m talking about for all of us who are out there where no one’s forced to buy from us, they do it because they believe they’ll be better off by doing so, the only way we can make a lot of money is to serve a lot of people with exceptional value.
Bob Burg: So, it’s important to realize, you know, it’s not are you a giver or a receiver. You’re a giver and a receiver, but the focus is on the giving. And this is why we say that money is simply an echo of value.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, one quick question then we’ll let you run here. So, in the book, there’s a Larry King story that you just heard or at least a comment from the mentor, that he says, “Hey, he had a conversation with Larry King and all of the most successful people that had come on his show were just real genuine givers like good people.” Is there any truth behind that story? Or was that just an added line?
Bob Burg: That was actually me speaking with Larry King in the green room of a – we were both speaking at one of those the get motivated programs that in the 90s that they used to put on and I said to him. You know, I said to him, “You know, Mr. King, you’ve interviewed so many people. And I’ve always found in my life that the bigger people were, the nicer they were. Well, not always. It’s not always, but usually.” And he said, “You’re absolutely right.” He says, “You know, you can get…” and I think we said this in the book. He said to me, “You can get to a certain level of success without that, but to really get to that, that extra, that huge level of success, you’ve got to have something extra.” You know, and usually, he said those people are the most gracious, humble people.
Brad Johnson: I had a feeling there might be a story behind that line in the book so that’s cool to hear that was a real conversation.
Bob Burg: But you know…
Brad Johnson: Well…
Bob Burg: Oh, excuse me.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Go ahead, Bob.
Bob Burg: You know, I was going to say and I and I shared this I think at the event we did but I think what really kind of set up for me understanding this was a couple of years after I got into sales, because when I first got into sales, I knew nothing about sales in terms of the formal sales training and the company where I first started will say their training was negligible, at best. And when I say negligible, I mean, non-existent. So, I was kind of out there on my own and I floundered for the first three months or so. I didn’t know what I was doing. One day I go into a bookstore. I get a couple of sales books and it showed me there’s a system. I thought that was a really cool how-to and within a few weeks, my sales began to go through the roof. And I studied sales and I studied personal development for a couple of years. I did really good, but not as I should have, not as much as I should have been. There was something holding me back. Something.
And when I say something, I mean me, right? Because that’s always the way it is. And I remember coming back one day, from a non-selling appointment. It wasn’t non-selling by intent. It was supposed to be a selling appointment and I remember I must have looked really just, you know, ticked at myself or whatever and there was an older guy there. He wasn’t even in the sales department. I think he was in the engineering department, but there’s one of these guys who didn’t say a lot but whenever he did, you know, it was always profound. And I think he saw me as kind of as Joe in the story, a guy you had a lot of potential, work hard, but just was frustrated and whose focus was not in the right place. And he said to me, he asked, he said, “Can I give you some advice?” And I said, “Yeah, please do.” And he said, “Burg, if you want to make a lot of money in sales, don’t have making money as your target.”
Bob Burg: “Your target,” he said, “is serving others. When you hit the target, you’ll get a reward and that reward will come in the form of money. But never forget, the money is simply the reward for hitting the target, hitting the target itself. Your target is serving others.” And once I – so that was my epiphany because that’s when I realized that salesmanship, great salesmanship is never about the salesperson. It’s never even about the product or the service as important that is. It’s about the other person. It’s about how you’re going to help them live a better life, how you’re going to help them be healthier, wealthier, happier, have more. Whatever it is that they get from you, that’s what it’s about. It’s about how they are going to benefit from your products and services and from your help. Once we understand that, now we’re nine steps ahead of the game in a 10-step game.
Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. Well, Bob, I know you’ve got to get on to another interview. So, I don’t want to hold you up. I want to respect your time. Thank you so much for, number one, you serving our clients, our advisors at the highest level out in Indianapolis. And then once again, just continuing that on to the show. This is going to help a lot of advisors out there. So, thanks for sharing your wisdom and your time.
Bob Burg: Thank you for having me. Thank you.
Brad Johnson: Alright. Until next time, Bob. We’ll see you.
Bob Burg: Bye.
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