Ep 009

Bob Burg on The 5 Secrets of Genuine Influence


Bob Burg

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Inside This Episode

How can you truly understand your clients needs, goals and desires if they don’t fully trust you?

In today’s episode, I’m talking with Bob Burg about how you can communicate with your clients and prospects more effectively, improve your ability to navigate difficult conversations, and create an environment where they feel safe and comfortable to share the things that they typically wouldn’t open up about.

In case you didn’t know, Bob Burg is the bestselling author of The Go-Giver, which has sold over a million copies and was rated #10 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the Most Motivational Books Ever Written. For 30 years, Bob has helped companies and their teams to more effectively communicate their value, sell at higher prices with less friction, and grow their businesses.

In this episode, we dig into his framework, The Five Secrets of Genuine Influence, which include: Mastering Your Emotions, Stepping Into Your Clients Shoes, Setting the Frame, Communicating with Tact & Empathy, and Letting Go of the Need to be Right.

3 of the biggest insights from Bob Burg

  • #1 How to master your emotions, retrain your brain, and stay calm in stressful, high-pressure situations.

  • #2 The unconscious operating system that’s holding you back from truly understanding and effectively communicating with your clients.

  • #3 How to use tact and empathy to navigate difficult conversations, eliminate resistance, and create a safe environment that builds trust with your clients.


  • 00:00 How COVID impacted how Financial Advisors do business
  • 4:00 How to master your emotions and stay calm under pressure
  • 10:19 A simple tactic for practicing self-management so you can be a better leader during tough situations
  • 16:30 The unconscious operation system that’s holding you back from truly understanding and communicating with your clients
  • 23:48 How to set the frame and turn defensive or adversarial clients into allies
  • 27:38 Communicating with tact and empathy
  • 34:25 Letting go of the need to be right, so you can become a more effective and trusted advisor.
  • 41:06 The 5 books Bob would recommend to his 18-year-old self.




  • People skills are really the difference maker between a successful advisor and a stratospherically successful advisor.”– Bob Burg

  • Most conflict is simply a misunderstanding that we’re operating from two different sets of beliefs, and don’t even realize it.” – Bob Burg

  • When you think about it, sales is a matter of giving another person a number of things. You’re giving them time, attention, counsel, education, empathy, and immense value.” – Bob Burg

  • The more someone is stuck on having to be right, the less they usually are right.” – Bob Burg

  • “If you’re an advisor out there and you’re not diving into multiple layers in that first interview with a prospective client, you’re missing a massive opportunity.” — Brad Johnson

  • “Make sure you are the master of your emotions as opposed to your emotions being the master of you.” – Bob Burg

  • “Once the mind is stretched, it never reverts back to its original shape.” – Bob Burg

  • People do business with and refer business to those they know, like, and trust.” – Bob Burg

  • Genuine influence can be defined as the ability to get the results you want when working with others in such a way that they feel genuinely good about themselves, about the situation, and about you.” – Bob Burg

Brad Johnson: Welcome to another episode of Financial Advisor Evolution. Excited to have Bob Burg here with us today. Welcome to the show, Bob.

Bob Burg: Thanks, Brad. Always great to be able to speak with you. It’s been a couple of years now. So, great to reconnect.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Couple of crazy years in between our last interview and today. So, we were just talking before we went live here. So, why don’t we just start here? Obviously, in your profession, author, public speaker, live events pre-COVID was a really big thing and then nobody did any of those for a while. Everything went Zoom and virtual like we are here today and now I feel like the world is getting back into meeting in person again. What learnings did you have that could impact financial advisors out there, business leaders out there from just like this whole business evolution we’ve gone through here recently?

Bob Burg: Well, you know, Brad, if anything, I think it’s knowing that human nature is such that where people will at first kind of react with panic, which is what people did at first, right? They’ll then start to go into a response mode and figure out what needs to be done. And we saw that with, as you mentioned, Zoom, where before it was, “Oh, no, no.” You know, that was never going to – you could never really replace the person-to-person or the in-person meeting or the in-person communication with Zoom and not that it replaces it. I think it’s an “and,” it’s not an “or” but it’s not an “or” but we did because we had to, right?

Brad Johnson: Yeah.

Bob Burg: And I think that’s what we saw. People began to adapt and adjust and they did what they needed to do in order to make things work.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. It was really, I mean, the bottom line that one of the things that I took from it too, Bob, along those same lines was humans need connection, whether that’s, yeah, basically they got it however they could at that point, which was through video interface here. But I think the interesting thing that I saw with business is how business had to evolve, especially in financial services. I know a lot of our offices now, virtual Zoom interviews was a thing they always thought maybe someday, and then it became a reality because it had to be. And have you seen that across other business verticals as well where I think at one point if you were going to do a meeting, everybody had to fly halfway across the country for a three-hour meeting? How have you seen that impact other verticals that you deal with?

Bob Burg: Oh, I mean, I think you’re right on the mark. It absolutely did. But you also make a great point, though, about that human-to-human connection because I’ve known and when we were talking with me, I don’t love to travel so, to me, I would love to do every keynote on Zoom, right? But no, that hasn’t happened. Now, that we could get back to being in-person, it’s amazing how quickly people got over Zoom. Now, the in-person events. However, I also think to a point, you know, what do they say once the mind is stretched, it never reverts back to its original shape or what have you? I probably messed that up but I think you know what I mean. So, now there are a lot more, though, meetings where no, we don’t have to meet in person. Now, we can meet through Zoom. It’s now appropriate. It’s now acceptable to do that. So, it provides those options. But the in-person connection is definitely it’s human and it’s desirable.

Brad Johnson: Let’s transition here to I know one of our very first interview we ever did, we really dove into the Go-Giver and kind of the five principles of what that means. And for those that aren’t familiar with Bob, author, speaker, Go-Giver is one of those most business books, a parable really that has all kinds of business lessons woven in. And I know more recently, I mean, the book’s been published all over the world. I don’t know if you call this a re-release or what an author would call it, but the Go-Giver influencer is a new iteration on the take in some of those principles. So, I would love for you to dive into those a bit and maybe apply that to maybe it’s the connection side, maybe it’s the leadership side. I know you speak on a lot of those topics.

Bob Burg: Yeah. It’s a sequel. I mean, there are four books actually in the Go-Giver series. There’s The Go-Giver, which is the one we discussed. Then there’s Go-Givers Sell More, which is the only one in the series that’s not a parable. It’s more of an application guide to the Go-Giver itself. And there’s the Go-Giver Leader. And then the last one that John David Mann, he’s my awesome coauthor and he’s the lead writer and storyteller. Believe me, he’s a genius. I’m just how to. I’m step one, step two, step three. And so, our last one was the Go-Giver Influencer, which is really about people skills. And, you know, Brad, I really believe that in any profession and especially when it comes to financial services, when it comes to the financial advisors we know, people skills is really the difference maker between that successful advisor and that stratospherically successful advisor because it really and we’ve talked about the personal connection. It is about the connection. It is about the relationship. It begins and ends there. It’s why we say that all things being equal, people do business with and refer business to those people or those advisors they know, like, and trust.

And people skills is a big part of being able to do that. What we call genuine influence is it can really be defined as the ability to get the results you want when working with others in such a way that they feel genuinely good about themselves, about the situation, and about you. This can be challenging sometimes, right? Because, again, we’re dealing with people and people are emotion-driven. They’re ego-driven. They have their own ways of pursuing happiness and interacting with others that don’t necessarily jive with ours. So, if we were to talk about the five principles of this, it begins with mastering your emotions. It’s really where it all begins. You know, the sages said they asked who is mighty and they answered, “That person who can control their own emotions and make of an enemy a friend.” Now, it might not be an enemy but it might be being able to take someone who is disagreeing with us or taking an issue that is very difficult in being able to bring everyone together as a like mind. This is so important because it’s only when we were in control of our own emotions, when we’re in control of ourselves, that we’re even in a position to take a potentially negative situation or person and turn it into a win for everyone involved.

Hey, we all so admire that person who no matter what’s going on right around them, they just remain calm. They remain cool. They’re able to make decisions logically as opposed to reacting and so forth. And we admire ourselves when we act that way. And how often do we, based on what someone else says or does, do we allow ourselves to feel hurt or frustrated or victimized or angry? And we say or do that very thing that not only is not productive in terms of getting the results we desire but are absolutely counterproductive. So, we’d have to ask the question, well, if we know better, why do we do that? And the reason is, is because we’re human beings. And as human beings, we are emotional creatures. It’s simply how we’re built. Now, we’d like to think we’re logical, right? We all like to think we’re logical. And to a certain extent, we are but we’re pretty emotion driven. We make major, major decisions based on emotion and we back up those emotional decisions with logic. We rationalize, which if you break the word rationalizing to, it simply means we tell ourselves rational lies, and we do that to justify that emotional decision we made or losing our head, losing our cool when we know it was not the right thing to do.

So, Brad, one thing I think is very important is to understand that we’re certainly not saying you should deny your emotions or forgo your emotions. Emotions are a very important part of life. They’re a wonderful part of life. They bring us joy. They make life worthwhile. No, we’re just saying make sure you are the master of your emotions as opposed to your emotions being the master of you. One of my great friends, Leadership Authority, Dondi Scumaci, I love how she says it. She says, “By all means, take your emotions along for the ride but make sure you are driving the car.” So, take counsel from those emotions. Okay? Listen to them. They’ve got wisdom to share but make sure the logical part, the CEO part is the logical part of your mind and they’re the ultimate decision maker.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. So, there’s five and I want to get to all five but that one by itself we could spend hours on. It was once shared by a mentor to me. He said leaders are calm what you just said, calm and confident. And he actually shared there’s a scene from We Were Soldiers, the Mel Gibson movie from back in the day, if you remember that one.

Bob Burg: Yeah. I remember.

Brad Johnson: He is the general and he’s in the middle of battle and there’s a bullet like he’s standing and bullets are like whizzing by his head but he’s calm, which inspires, obviously, confidence in whoever is trying to follow you and he’s directing. And easy to say, hard to do. Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the Viktor Frankl quote, “Between stimulus and response, there’s a space,” and most people that’s like a crack on a sidewalk, right, between the input and the emotional output. And do you, I’m curious, because I think conceptually people understand exactly what you’re saying but, in the fire, it’s really tough to actually do it. And so, any thoughts around how to actually not just want to do it but say, “Okay. Yes, this person just came at me kind of hard. I’m going to give myself some space and then I’m going to react in a way that I’m going to be proud of.” Ideas around how to actually pull that off in the real world?

Bob Burg: This is where it’s so important to retrain your brain to do that. The most difficult aspect of controlling one’s emotions is when it happens at the moment, right, and you’re not ready for it. So, what we suggest is this. I asked people when I do this at conferences, I will ask the audience members to just picture in their mind a situation or a person who just or that just pushes your emotional buttons every time. Okay. This person who says what they say or they do what they do, whatever. And in picture what usually happens, okay, they say it or do this and you get angry and it’s back and forth and it’s a lousy situation, right? And every time you say, “I’m never going to get sucked into that again. I’m never going to do that again.” That happens every time because you’re not expecting it. So, picture that happening and don’t judge yourself. Just be with it for a second. Now, I’m going to ask you to see the same thing happening, this scenario. And again, it could be a situation but let’s just say it’s a person and this person says what they say or they do what they do but now I want you to rather than react, I want you to go into response mode.

And I want you to imagine yourself being, as you said, very calm, very in control, letting them finish talking without interrupting them. I want you to see yourself having a calm demeanor and just a pleasant look on your face. I want you to just put out this great energy and then you’re going to respond with just the perfect, calming words that defray the situation, that just bring this to a wonderful, wonderful, feel-good, mutually beneficial conclusion. Okay. Don’t worry about the words. Those come later but just imagine yourself doing that. Okay. Now, I want you to practice doing this. Practice it consciously and constantly, Brad, much like an astronaut. Okay. Before they go into space on an actual mission, what are they going to do? He or she is going to do hundreds and hundreds of simulations. Why? Because heaven forbid when they get up there and something happens, it’s not a surprise. They’ve done it before. They’ve been there. They’ve done that. Now, you might go, “Bob, you know, it’s still not the same. Imagining you’re up in space isn’t the same as being in or not imagining but going through the simulations isn’t the same or imagining handling a situation perfectly isn’t the same as the actual.”

It’s close enough because, as we know, the subconscious mind cannot distinguish between what has happened and what has been suggested to it over and over again with feeling. Okay. So, you don’t have to do this hundreds of times but do it until you feel very confident that when this situation happens, you can handle it. Now, the next time it does, it’s not going to be a surprise. And when this person says that thing or does that thing, you’re actually going to have a little conversation in your head. It’s going to be a nanosecond, though, it’s going to seem like a long time, “Oh, yeah. I remember Burg telling me this. That’s right. He and Brad were talking and they were talking about this, and I’ve been practicing this. I know what to do.” And you’re going to do that very thing. You’re going to respond beautifully and you’re going to be calm and you’re not afraid. You’re going to say the perfect things, and it’s going to be wonderful. And it’s going to take this relationship to a new level or it’s going to just simply not bother you and you’re not going to…

And then when you do this, really take pleasure in the fact that you handle it so well that you’re now equipped to do so. Now, here’s the thing. Two things. One, the fact that you did that one time perfectly means you could do it perfectly every single time. Now, the second point, you won’t do it perfectly every time because you’re human, we’re all human, and every so often we’re still going to get caught in that, you know, kind of mind thing that happens. But I’ll tell you, you start practicing some of these situations doesn’t have to be the exact thing, but the principle base of the situation that usually happens, start rehearsing this just like I talked about, like an astronaut going up into space. You will be amazed. Within a few weeks, you’ll be a different person in terms of how you respond to situations instead of reacting. And not only are you going to feel better about yourself. Other people are going to see this in you and you will be that person who becomes known for the way they just so wonderfully handle these usually tough situations.

Brad Johnson: You’re really reminding me. Have you ever crossed paths with a guy named Ian Cron before? He talks a lot about the Enneagram. So, he’s a therapist and he talked about meditation being a way to create more of this self-awareness in space. But what came to mind when you were kind of going through that astronaut example and kind of rehearsing the situation before it happens is I feel like you’re almost sometimes if you can remove yourself and almost like view yourself and almost like you’re the actor in the movie. So, you’re observing, well, how would I want to respond? And it’s that kind of self-awareness and that’s a really cool exercise. I’ve never heard it put that way where you’re kind of pre-rehearsing as if it’s already going to happen and what are you going to do the next time that happens.

Bob Burg: The observer. Right.

Brad Johnson: Yeah.

Bob Burg: So, yeah, you’re so unattached to them. So, it’s really a terrific thing.

Brad Johnson: Cool. Well, we should probably get to number two, step into the other person’s shoes. Tell me about that.

Bob Burg: Yeah. Also known as understand the clash of belief systems, right? Because they will step into their shoes sounds pretty easy until you think about it and you realize maybe it’s not so easy because most of us have different-sized feet. So, literally, we can’t step into the other person’s shoes. Figuratively, we can’t step into their minds. Why not? Because we’re not them. And we all come from a different set of beliefs. What is a belief? Well, a belief is a subjective truth. It’s the truth as we understand the truth to be, which means it might be the truth or it might not be the truth. That might just be a belief. Well, you know, that belief system that we operate or what I call an unconscious operating system is developed early on and, well, really it’s a combination. Our belief system is a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television shows, movies, popular culture. But by the time when little more than toddlers, our basic set of beliefs is pretty much etched in stone, and everything after that kind of just gets added on.

And that’s why I say, you know, we’re all subject to this unconscious operating system thinking that we are operating out of conscious choice when really we’re operating out of a, you know, if you remember the original movie, The Matrix, right, where people didn’t even realize that they were simply a program, part of someone else’s program, right? But here’s the thing, not only do we operate in this mainly unconscious way, but so does the other person. Now, to make it even more difficult, right, more convoluted, we tend to believe that other people see the world, have the same basic set of beliefs that we do. And yet it’s not true. Now, this is why you hear people say things, “Oh, nobody would like that.” Well, it’s not true. It’s not that nobody would. You wouldn’t. Doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t. Or “I would never treat someone that way.” No, you wouldn’t because that’s not congruent with your beliefs, right? So, in other words, we all come from these different beliefs. And so, most conflict is simply a misunderstanding that we’re operating from two different set of beliefs, two different premises, and don’t even realize it.

So, in order to step into another person’s shoes, we need to kind of really get where they’re coming from and there’s only one way to do that. And this is everything about sales, right? And that is ask questions and listen. Ask questions and listen. Not the surface kind of questions that you’re asking only so that you can, you know, while you’re waiting for your turn to talk but listening not just with your ears but with your eyes, with your posture. My coauthor, John David Mann, came up with a great one. He says, “With the back of your neck.” In other words, you’re putting your entire self into listening to this person to, as Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand.” Right?

Brad Johnson: Right. Right.

Bob Burg: That first part is so important about understand because we don’t know what they’re thinking. And then even when they say something and we think we know, we still might not know. And that’s why we have to ask clarifying questions to make sure that what they said, what they meant is what we heard and understood. And so, that’s how we step into their shoes. We do it through asking questions and listening. And we make sure that we don’t just assume that we’re both on the same wavelength. That’s why we ask clarifying questions. “You know, Dave, just to make sure I understand what you’re saying or just to make sure I haven’t misinterpreted, but when you say _____, what specifically do you mean by or is there a specific, you know?” So, in other words, we’re going to always ask people to define their terms but we’re going to do so in a way that’s very diplomatic and polite.

Brad Johnson: So, that right there, what’s interesting in the world of financial services, you know, an advisor out there sits down with someone the first time and a lot of people would call the first meeting a discovery session, a fact finder. And the very best advisors that I have ever interacted with, they are incredible at those clarifying questions because active listening when somebody can repeat back to you what you said, it shows they were listening, shows they cared. And then you can actually go down a path of, “Oh, no, I didn’t mean not at all. I actually meant this.” And now you can really seek to understand your point. I love that to where you can actually help and serve because you get to the root of what they’re actually trying to accomplish. So, I think just that right there, number two, step into the other person’s shoes, if you’re an advisor out there and you are not diving, we call it peeling back the onion, you know, in multiple layers in that first interview with a prospective client, you’re missing a massive opportunity. So, I love that example there, Bob. I know you’ve worked with a lot of advisors and people in the finance space over the years. Any thoughts around that specific to finance just on that second step there?

Bob Burg: Yeah. Well, I would make sure that there are certain terms when we talk about security, when we talk about peace of mind, when we talk about legacy, when we talk about all these different terms that come up that have to do with, you know, remember, ultimately your prospective client is going to decide to invest with you because they believe it’s more likely that working with you, they will be able to attain happiness, right, whatever happiness means to them. So, with all the words that are used in terms of what this person might like, we need to make sure that our definitions of a certain thing are matching with their definition of that certain thing. And that’s where clarification, clarifying questions really come into play. And I think you said it beautifully, really, because to not acknowledge that and pay attention to that, you’re doing it at your peril.

Brad Johnson: Yeah. Once again, that topic, we could go down a whole another path. I think the interesting thing in finance is most prospects would walk into an office and say, “Yeah. I already have a financial plan.” You know, “financial plan” that can mean so many different things in the world of finance. That can mean a couple of insurance products. That can mean a portfolio full of different stocks. Very rarely do I find when you’re truly building a holistic plan, kind of CFP standard, most people don’t walk into your office with that. And so, the cool thing is if you go down that path of, well, what does a financial plan mean to you? “Oh, well, here’s how we define a financial plan and you can really create differentiation there because most people would walk in. And I can tell you from experience, they actually don’t have a financial plan. They have a few products that they’ve collected over the years, kind of like a kitchen junk drawer. So, cool. I love that. Let’s move to three. I know our time is limited today. Set the frame. What does that mean?

Bob Burg: Well, a frame is the foundation from which everything else evolves. So, when you set the proper frame or reset in an already negatively split frame, you’re really 80% to 90% of the way to the results you want. And to illustrate a frame, I like to use a story, something that happened years ago that I observed. I was at a Dunkin Donuts and there was a little boy, a little toddler, 2 to 3 years old and he was running around the restaurant, whatever it’s called, Dunkin Donuts store. And his parents called them over to the table. He starts to walk over and he slips. He takes a spill on the floor. Now, he didn’t hurt himself but you could tell that he was kind of shaken up. He was confused. This was not something as part of his belief system. Now, first thing he did, if you’re a parent, the first thing he did was look at his mom and dad for their interpretation of the event. Okay? What happened happened. He wanted to know, okay, what happens next? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Okay. Now, I’m watching this and I totally believe that had the parents gotten upset, panicky, rushed over, “Oh, no, my poor baby,” he’d have started to cry, right? But they handled it just absolutely beautifully. They walked over quickly.

Of course, they were concerned but they had a very calm. They control their own emotions. But they looked at him and they smiled and they laughed. They applauded and said, “Oh, what a good trick. That looks like so much fun.” Well, the little boy immediately started to laugh. The parents set a productive frame from which he could operate. Okay. That’s a frame. Easy to set a positive frame. The question is, what happens when the potential client comes with a negative frame? And this is the person who maybe comes into your office and says, “Well, you know, I’m not sure what I want to do. Don’t pressure me into blah, blah, blah, you know, or something like that.” Now, if we buy into that frame, that’s obviously a defensive frame or it’s an adversarial frame. If we buy into that, well, now it’s push, push, and nothing good is going to come out of that. But instead, what if we were to again respond, control our own emotions, step into their shoes, reset the frame by saying something along the lines of, “Well, Mr. Johnson, thank you for sharing that with me. Well, I’ve been very fortunate to work with a great number of people and helping them form a powerful financial future.

Whether or not I’m the right fit for you, we simply can’t know without digging deeper and discovering what your needs are. So, please know our conversation is for both of us to understand that. And if it turns out we’re a fit, great. If not, that’s okay too.” Now, what you’ve done is you move this from an adversarial frame into one of two allies who are simply both looking out for his best interest, which is what he cares about.

Brad Johnson: I love that. Yeah. The interesting thing is how they stack because without mastering the emotions, the story about the parents there, without them checking that, they can’t.

Bob Burg: Exactly.

Brad Johnson: You know, they can’t efficiently set the frame. So, very cool. Okay. Let’s move on to four, if you’re good with that, on communicating with tact and empathy.

Bob Burg: Yeah. You know, my dad always defined tact as the language of strength, and I always love that because sometimes it just takes a lot of strength to speak tactfully and diplomatically to someone who really, you know, kind of you don’t want to and so forth. But tact is really communicating an idea to someone that they normally would not be agreeable to. And doing it in such a way that not only are they not defensive toward you and resistant to your idea but they’re actually open to you and more accepting of your idea. That’s tact. Now, empathy, which is its cousin, right, empathy is, by definition, the identification with or vicarious experience of another person’s feelings. But here’s the thing about that. We don’t understand their feelings necessarily because, again, going back to belief systems, we’re not them. So, when we said earlier, we don’t know what’s in their head, well, we don’t know what’s in their heart either. But here’s the good thing about this. Empathy does not necessarily mean you understand exactly how they feel because you might not. It means you understand they’re feeling something. And that this something is distressful to them and that you were there to help them work through it. And you communicate this, sure, with what you say and how you say it. That’s part of it. But, you know, Brad, it’s really you communicate it just by the way you show up. And just by the energy you put out there and the genuine caring you have for that person.

Brad Johnson: So much of this thought applies to how great advisors interact with their clients. I think the empathy piece, well, actually, I want to ask you. So, how are there questions? Are there certain frameworks? Like, if I was an advisor back to that first appointment, somebody comes in and they have a million bucks. They’re 65 years old, husband, wife, and they’re overwhelmed, you know, everything that’s going on in the market currently. That’ll create that pretty quickly. So, having into it. But I’m curious, how would you go about, hey, there’s a belief system there and you’re seeing that belief system has that maybe riding a roller coaster of ups and downs in the market that’s creating a lot of stress. How would you start to transition, to communicate, “Hey, would you be open to a different view?” Are there certain phrases, words you use to kind of start to tiptoe into that where you might want to communicate a different way of thinking and then being open to that?

Bob Burg: Yeah. Well, one of them is just simply understanding that they may have a lot of feelings about what they don’t know and they can be a high net worth client or prospective client but that doesn’t mean they understand money and investments. And they may know they don’t understand money and investments. It’s not a strength of theirs. And so, sometimes it’s using an iMessage and saying, “It just might be me.” You know, I’m getting the feeling that you have some real thoughts and concerns, which, by the way, makes perfect sense. This is very important to you and I would expect that you have a lot of concerns. What I would love you to do is to feel comfortable asking me whatever you feel is important because this is what I do. So, this is something I do every day. So, I just want to let you know that my goal is to help you invest in a way that’s both comfortable for you and a way that’s going to attain for you the results that you want. And when you do that, you have created sort of the environment where they feel safer sharing with you those concerns that they may not have shared with you before.

You haven’t blamed them. You haven’t said, “This is what you’re doing wrong and this is what I wrote,” right? But instead, you’re letting them know that you are basically there to answer those questions. You are letting them know that this is something that you do all the time so that you do understand the situation and that they are more than welcome to ask you those questions and discuss those concerns in a very non-judgmental manner.

Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. One of the tools you just used there that we coach on a lot is just kind of asking permission, right? Instead of telling, you already said it multiple times, ask questions and nobody wants to be told you’re doing this a different way than you should but I’m curious if you opened with that comment that you just did, could you extend on to that? Hey, if at any time during this conversation I see that there might be an opportunity or maybe a different strategy you haven’t been aware of or utilized in the past, would you be open to me sharing that with you? Is that fair? Kind of tip-toeing into here, there might be a different way or do I have permission to share that with you along the way? Have you utilized different tools like that?

Bob Burg: You know, Brad, I think that’s just such an important part of any type of counseling. You know, when you think about it, sales is a matter of giving another person a number of things. You’re giving them time, attention, counsel, education, empathy, and immense value. Now, the counsel that you’re giving them does need to be with their buy-in. And that’s why, as you mentioned, asking for permission to share an idea. And sometimes I even use because I’m a big believer in giving the out or back door so people feel autonomous, they have a choice. And that is sharing an idea you may or may not be interested in pursuing. And when you do that, it’s. “Oh, yeah. Well, it’s my choice.” And this advisor respects that, yeah.

Brad Johnson: You’re relieving pressure on the conversation. There is no wrong way to go. One of my friends, Chris Smith, he says, “Act as if you’ve got nowhere to get,” and you’re acting as if you’ve got nowhere to get. It’s like we could use it or maybe not but…

Bob Burg: Great idea.

Brad Johnson: We’ll prove it out there and talk through that. Okay. We good for step number five. So, as a reminder, five secrets of genuine influence. That’s what we’re covering here if you’re tuning in late. Let go of having to be right.

Bob Burg: And you know, this one’s an interesting one because it kind of how can you be influential if you’re not always going to be right. Well, that’s what helps you become influential because when you can let go of having to be right, that doesn’t mean you’re not wanting to be right, that you’re not desiring to be, that you’re not going to prepare to be right. And of course, you are. You’re going to do your very best to be right. What it means is this. You’re going to lose your emotional attachment to having to be right. When you do this, a couple of beautiful things happen. Okay. First, you put yourself in the position to be a learner. You actually put yourself in a position to learn more because you’re not stuck on having to be right. You’re allowing for the possibility that you may not be 100% right or you may not be right about now this as opposed to the person whose life philosophy seems to be, “My mind’s already made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Right? That person can never know more than what they know right now. And typically the more someone is stuck on having to be right, Brad, the less they usually are right.

And so, that person who’s willing to go into learner’s mode creates that environment where they’re more likely to actually be right. Here’s the other part. When this other person realizes that you’re not trying to be a know-it-all, that you’re more of a, as my friend Dan Rockwell calls it, a learn-it-all.

Brad Johnson: I like that.

Bob Burg: Yeah. When you’re not looking to just be right at any… When you’re not looking to be right by making them wrong, they now lower their defenses. They now understand that you’re someone who your only goal is to seek the truth wherever that may lead. And when that’s the case, now they’re more likely to let go of having to be right and join you in the search for truth, again, wherever that may lead. So, this is why great leaders and great influencers have lost their attachment to having to be right and why they’re so very effective and more trusted.

Brad Johnson: One of the things we say at Triad a lot is check your ego at the door. And it’s so spot on with that last principle. It’s, you know, coaching. I’ve been very fortunate I’ve been able to coach some of the top independent financial advisors in the last decade-and-a-half that I’ve been in this industry. And that common theme, Bob, that you just hit on be very best, regardless of how successful they are, are continue to be growth-minded. They don’t know it all. They haven’t figured it all out. And that’s why they continue to grow and excel and exceed, you know, something that very few would think was possible just a few years later. I heard Microsoft, I think it’s at Microsoft and you can correct me, maybe you’ve heard this. One of the ways they do this, one of the frameworks they talk about is they have a saying that says, “You are not your idea.” And so, they take this idea that people kind of comingle with their ego.

Bob Burg: Right.

Brad Johnson: And they just set the idea on the table, and then they combat the idea around and argue the idea and have a bunch of really smart people refine the idea without taking personal offense if it’s not exactly what they originally put out there. Is that Microsoft?

Bob Burg: I don’t know. I hadn’t heard that about Microsoft, but I love the idea. I know Ray Dalio talks about that in his book, Principles, which is a fantastic book. But I’ll tell you another book. I really recommend and please excuse me for turning my back one moment. I know that’s not…

Brad Johnson: You’re good. You’ve got a few back there. It might take a second.

Bob Burg: Adam Grant wrote a wonderful book a couple of years ago called Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know. And I really think that this book is one of the most important books of our times.

Brad Johnson: Think Again. Why is that? Give me one reason why.

Bob Burg: Yeah. Sure. Because he goes through the entire, I would say, in summary, the aspect of human nature that is so ego attached to having to be right that we really cannot see where we’re wrong. Okay. This is where cognitive dissonance, this is where confirmation bias comes into play. And it’s absolutely so counterproductive to our success as individuals and as a society. And he just to me not only outlines it but provides so many just fantastic, fantastic examples of how to really be able to check our premises and have those aha moments. But he also talks about how to be more persuasive. And some of that is by again letting go of having to be totally right and look for where that other person is also, you know, has a point and in his right and taking it from there. But yeah, I just think this is an absolutely terrific book.

Brad Johnson: Well, thanks for sharing that, Bob. We’ve got a lot of readers, obviously, that listen to this podcast so we’ll put that in the show notes. By the way, I’m going to get with you and the team and we’re going to drop some books out. We’re going to drop some book bombs out. So, we’ll get a couple in your collection, your personal collection that you’ve written and we’ll get those out to the audience because I know you’ve got a handful to pick from. I know our time here is essentially at an end. I would love to really ask you one last question, and I wasn’t planning on asking this, but you went to the library behind you. So, those watching on video, Bob has quite the library behind him. You good for one last question before we wrap?

Bob Burg: Sure.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, I’m going to make an assumption here. I’m going to check in with you, though, just like we’ve learned on this conversation today. I’m going to assume you’re a pretty well-read guy that reads a few books a year. Is that fair?

Bob Burg: Yes, it is fair.

Brad Johnson: Okay. And you’ve got a handful of them there behind you. So, let’s rewind and let’s say Bob Burg, did you say 62-year-old Bob Burg?

Bob Burg: 64.

Brad Johnson: 64-year-old Bob Burg.

Bob Burg: Five in a couple of months.

Brad Johnson: Okay. So, almost 65-year-old Bob Burg:, knowing what you know today and all the wisdom that you’ve learned along the way, it’s your responsibility now to go back to 18-year-old Bob Burg:. And you’re his mentor. And you get to pick five books and they can be on that library shelf behind you or they can be somewhere else but you got five books, only five books that you can gift young 18-year-old Bob Burg: and say, “Hey, read these, absorb them, dog ear them, and these are going to help you get where you want to go in life.” What are those five books?

Bob Burg: I would say the first one would be The Secret of Selling Anything and this is by a guy by the name of Harry Browne, B-R-O-W-N-E. There’s a story behind this that I won’t get into just because of time limitations but, to me, it’s the ultimate book on understanding human nature. Now, he relates it to sales but really it’s a book on understanding humanity. What makes people say and do the things they do. This to me is just fantastic. It was written in the 60s, wasn’t published until 2008, I don’t think. Written in the 60s so language is a little dated and so forth.

Brad Johnson: Is it still in print? Can people go out and buy it on Amazon?

Bob Burg: Well, yeah, because here’s what I would suggest. If you go to Burg.com/Blog write in, in the search “the secret of selling” and it will come up to the review I did on it. I wrote a review. Yeah. And then at the bottom, I think I linked to the person who sells it because it’s an independent publisher and you can also get it on Amazon. So, that’s one. I would say Think and Grow Rich. I would say Psycho-Cybernetics would be one that we should all read. It was written in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz and that really is…

Brad Johnson: Psycher? Can you say that one more time?

Bob Burg: Yes. Psycho-Cybernetics.

Brad Johnson: Psycho-Cybernetics. Okay.

Bob Burg: Can’t find it but it’s back there. Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz. This is the ultimate book on understanding how our belief systems would either hold us back or move us forward and it’s absolutely brilliant. How to Win Friends and Influence People would be another one.

Brad Johnson: One of my favorites.

Bob Burg: Yeah. And then I’d also say The Science of Getting Rich written back and here’s a, they have a retro version they came up with written in 1910 by Wallace D. Wattles. And really, it’s all about how to, you know, understanding that the value you bring to the marketplace is what’s going to represent the income that you bring in but it’s a small, short, brilliant read. So, those are just five. There’s many more, of course, that I would recommend.

Brad Johnson: Thanks, Bob. You’re the man. We’re actually rolling out a Triad. That was a little bit of a selfish request because we’re rolling out a Triad book club. So, now I have five great options to pick from there, besides your own. Well, Bob, as always, you always over-deliver. So, thanks so much for carving out some time for the audience here. Can’t wait to get this out to the world and look forward to the next time that our paths cross in person.

Bob Burg: My pleasure, Brad. Always great to be with you. Thank you.

Brad Johnson: Alright, Bob. Take care.


These conversations are intended to provide financial advisors with ideas, strategies, concepts and tools that could be incorporated into the advisory practice, advisors are responsible for ensuring implementation of anything discussed is in accordance with any and all regulatory and compliance responsibilities and obligations. Copyright ©️ 2023 Triad Partners, LLC. All rights reserved.


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