How can you become a ‘Love Cat’ to succeed in the new world of work?
What does it mean to love in business? The idea of ‘love’ at work can conjure up the image of a touchy-feely, frivolous, and emotional environment. But love in business doesn’t mean you have to start holding hands all day. In fact, infusing love into your leadership and work models cannot only improve morale, but it does wonders for your bottom-line. So how can we incorporate love into the workplace without being disingenuous?
Tim Sanders spent most of his early career on the cutting edge of innovation and change. He was an early member of Mark Cuban's Broadcast.com and after Yahoo acquired the company, he rose to chief solutions officer. Today he's one of the top rated speakers on the lecture circuit. He's written several bestsellers including Dealstorming, Today We Are Rich, Likability Factor, and his latest, Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. I recently interviewed Tim on the LEADx Podcast to talk about where we could stand to infuse more love, and how it can improve our success. (The interview below has been lightly edited for space and clarity.)
Kevin Kruse: Where do you see the author and publishing business going these days?
Tim Sanders: Reports of publishing's death are greatly exaggerated, right? Here's a few things. I see publishers continuing to be relevant but to a smaller number of potential authors. If you are an author with a significant platform, you're very flexible about what you're going to write about. Publishers can bring you really good editorial design and, to some extent, distribution resources. When I first started, I go back all the way to 1999 or 2000 when I signed my first book deal, publishers were a solution to get your message to the market. Over the course of 17 years, incredible self-publishing tools, Amazon CreateSpace, FastPencilPublishing, you name it, have come along and commoditized some of those publishing services like editorial, book design, and even distribution.
You and I both know that when you see a book in Hudson's News, it's there because the author paid for it to be there or the publisher paid for it to be there, but it's an equal opportunity opportunity. My message is smaller market for publishers with respect to the authors that get value, but they continue to be relevant. I did this last book, Dealstorming, with Penguin Random House, and I'm excited about that decision. They've brought a lot of value to the table for me.
Kruse: We are entering an age of hybrid authors, when sometimes we will choose traditional publishers, and other times we go independent.
Tim Sanders: Michael Bungay Stanier had a classic case study of that. He did three books on great work, and they had okay results. He's saying they had okay results. Then he had the idea for his fourth book called The Coaching Habit, but he knew in the back of his mind that his publisher would talk him out of it because it was such a specific book about asking questions, about what his company, Box of Crayons, did. He just decided to self-publish it, and he sold hundreds of thousands of copies over the course of the first year. I believe the reason why that's true is because the number one rule of marketing when it comes to your book is to write a book from the heart that works because if the reader gets real value out of the book and it produces an emotional response, they'll tell everybody about it. After you take your foot off the promotion gas, the book will keep on going.
Kevin Kruse: What's a ‘Love Cat,’ and where do we begin with it?
Sanders: When I say ‘love’ in the business world, what I mean is that you want to promote the success of other people. It's a feeling you have. It's an emotional feeling. You say, “I want to help Kevin be successful.” It's a feeling you act on. You help Kevin become successful by sharing the intangibles that you possess that are of your greatest value. You share your knowledge to help the other person get to the next level. You share your network of relationships to help them solve their greatest challenges and find true opportunities. Most importantly, you share your human compassion. You truly care about them as a person. You hurt when they hurt, yet you know how to be empathetic when it's time to be powerless. When you share these three intangibles, you are “Sharing and showing the love.” That's what I mean.
Love is a difficult word for us to use, just like talking about death is a difficult subject for us all to grasp. I think a lot of leaders, they just misunderstand love. They think love means I'm going to be nice to you, right? I'm going to let you run over me. I'm going to give you what you want. I'm going to look the other way when you break the rules. That's not what love is. I want you to think about your grandmother, not yours specifically, but in general terms. Grandmother loves you deeply, but she will hold you accountable to learn when she takes the time to teach you. She will take you out behind the woodshed, so to speak, when you go against her wishes and don't keep your promises. I believe with true love we hold people accountable. I think once leaders understand that love is that intelligent sharing of one's intangibles to help another person succeed, I think they can embrace it and they can make it the thing that separates them from every other leader that they know.
Kruse: Because you love your people and you support them doesn't mean you're not holding people accountable.
Sanders: Absolutely. Love is the killer app, I point this out early. I say there's a difference between personal love and professional love. Personal love, Erich Fromm, the great psychologist philosopher, said when we care about somebody, that's a selfless promotion of other people's happiness and well-being. That's what that is. Sometimes you can be very sacrificial. You don't have to think long-term. It's the way you might feel about your kid or your best friend. That is not what I mean in professional terms, and here's why; We all have a social contract at work, and that is to keep the lights on and keep the organization afloat for the sake of everyone else. As a result, it's a balancing act. We've got to be tough on standards, values, quality measurements. We've got to do that to keep the lights on, but at the same time we need to deeply care about the success of those that entrust us with their lives.
When you put it all together, it really jives with Napoleon Bonaparte's philosophy about field leadership. Oftentimes, he was translated to say that the leader's role is to define reality and then give hope. It's always going to be a balancing act, but I think for too many people, we feel more comfortable saying, “I'm going to be tough on standards and tolerant of people.” It gets back to the old idea, what's your priority? Do you love people and use money, or do you love money and use people? It is a fundamental decision we make early in our career, but the good news is we can change our mind. I know I have.
Kruse: In your book you have something called a ‘cliff and tag system,’ for taking notes. Can you describe this?
Sanders: This is something I developed early on as a love cat in training when I started to read a lot. The reason that I talk about this is to share knowledge, but first you must possess unique knowledge. For me to tell you ‘whatever’ happened, ‘whoever’ just won the championship, for me to tell you that is something you already know, it's called common knowledge. I've got to give you unique knowledge. That means first and foremost, I must become a student on your behalf.
There's a decision I made in 1997, 1998. The world was changing. My core customer was a retailer facing e-commerce oblivion. My job was to become a student of the game on their behalf, so I read books, difficult books, books that took me deep into the psychology of retail, deep into the future of internet technology. As I read those books, I became worried that I would forget the most important parts. It would be difficult then to share that knowledge or transfer those specific ideas, so I started to take a lot of notes, and eventually I developed this system. I call it the ‘cliff and tag.’ Here's how it works, folks:
When you're reading a book, you may come across something that you go,”Wow, that's profound. I want to remember that.” It could be a story that's been summarized with an insight. It could be a saying. It could be a statistic. Then what you typically might do is underline it and forget about it. I don't. I use the blank inside pages in the beginning and the end of every book. In the beginning of the book, those two to four inside pages, Kevin, those are what I call the ‘Good content pages.’ I always make sure that when I see something in a book I like, I bracket it, and then I read, and I stop, and I go to the front of that book, and I write out that sentence, sometimes having to use shorthand to fit it all on one line. This is a memorization technique that's worked really for me that helps drill that into me, that forced abbreviation.
Then the last two pages of the book are for things that relate to current projects or relationships I'm working on. I call that out because that's a different part of your mind when you read something and you make a connection, and you go, “Wow, that applies to this presentation I'm about to give. That applies to this consulting gig I'm working on. This applies to such and such account.” Those I would do in the back. Same thing, I write the page number down, I get the whole idea down to a single sentence if at all possible. That's a system I developed in the '90s that works well for me because I remember and call out more. Think about it this way; If I'm going to go meet with you and I know that my reading of Made To Stick by the Heath Brothers is relevant to our conversation, I can pull that book off my bookshelf and reread it, fundamentally reread it for the best parts in 10 minutes flat.
Kruse: It's like you're creating your own book summary of the most relevant applicable points.
Sanders: Yup. I have to say in all fair disclosure, and I know I talked about how hardcovers are the bomb, but over the course of the last five or so years, I've really been impressed with the improvement in eBook reading technology, specifically the Kindle format. I find myself now reading a lot in Kindle. I highlight, I make a lot of notes that I don't have to fit into a sentence now to say, “This is why it's important to me.” Then, folks, you can go to my Kindle, just google my Kindle or google my highlights Kindle, and you'll see that there's a place you can log in that has every highlight, every note you've ever taken because your Kindle constantly syncs to the internet. You can go right to your highlights for whatever book you read, and you can cut and copy those. That's what I do, and I put them in an Evernote, so now they're searchable.
The trick here though, is that when you do that, you probably want to reread over again all of your highlights to get that memorization technique. What I really like about this is not only is my library with me at all times on my iPad, but so are my cliff notes. I'm still able to really transfer that knowledge, review that knowledge, and if I talk somebody into reading a book, I share my cliffs with them as they read it to pay attention to the most important parts.
Kruse: I hand write notes in the back of my books because that helps anchor them in my memory. I like the tactile feeling of the notebook.
Sanders: However works for you. I think the key here is the point of all of this is you want to transfer knowledge to other people in your life to help them become more successful or solve problems. To do that, you've got to be able to put your fingers on that knowledge, you've got to be able to review it so that as you talk in conversation, you can deliver that kernel of insight that creates curiosity on the other side because that's the key. This system will help you.
Again, it gets back to the idea that reading business books like a student is an act of business love. You do it so you can contribute. You do it because you know that the greatest value you bring to the world is the value of knowledge and insights.
Kruse: I like to ask our listeners to become 1% better every single day. What's one specific thing you want us to do today?
Sanders: We've talked a whole lot about reading, and we've talked about the idea that that's the first step in building a great relationship, so I'll take another tact here. If you want to get better each and every day, I want you to set a new goal in your life. Every Friday by 3:00 p.m., I call it ‘Three by Three’ is the system, every Friday by 3:00 p.m., you will have introduced three people this week that should meet.
What I mean is I want you to have a networking goal because networking is about giving, it's not about taking. That's called prospecting. I want you to set up a networking goal that you will introduce three people every week that should meet. If you can, it'd be great if you could do it face to face, or Skype to Skype. It doesn't always work out. If you can, it's okay to deliver it by audio conference call. That's nice. You can orchestrate it. In many cases, you may have to do it over email. If you do it over email, I caution you, remember networkers are first and foremost good salespeople. They sell the value of other people engaging.
You don't just throw some introduction over the wall, “Hey, Kevin, meet Mark. Go rock together.” That's the worst introduction. You write a careful note that says, “Kevin, I want you to meet Mark, and here's why. Here's who he is. Here's what he can bring to your life.” “Mark, as I told you, I promised I'd introduce you to Kevin. A reminder here, here's his LinkedIn profile. This is why I think the two of you should meet.” I call that the ‘Benefactor and the Recipient.’ That's the two players in a networking introduction. When I write that note, the second I'm getting ready to send it, I stop and I call or text the benefactor, the person who's really going to help. I say, “Listen, you are about to receive an email from me, and it's a networking introduction I want you to act on,” and they acknowledge that. When they acknowledge that either on the phone or over text, that's when I send the networking note.
Then if I don't see the recipient respond within a day, I call the recipient and say, “What is wrong with you? I told you this is a good opportunity.” I get them engaged. Then here's the secret sauce. I don't expect anything. I'll never mention it again if I know you two engaged. I'll never mention it again. I don't care if the two of you engage and started Snapchat and didn't even thank me. I'm going to assume you paid it forward because assuming that other people pay it forward is what makes the world go around. That's what keeps you loving people over the years, over the decades. It's what keeps you from getting disappointed from people. It's how you defeat ego economics.
Friday by 3:00, introduce three people. Kevin, it's a challenge. It's difficult. To do this, I tell you all, you've got to change the conversation. Stop asking people, “What do you do?” When you meet them, after you get through that question, if you have to, ask them what they're working on that they're excited about. “What's your ‘Wow’ project?” is the best question to open opportunity doors because if you listen, they will tell you what they're working on, why they're excited about it, how they're doing, obstacles they're facing, resources they need. Like a flower, the conversation will blossom into an opportunity for you to make a connection.
You just have to believe that this introduction you're making is a game changer. You've got to believe it so much, you just don't throw it over the fence because it's really about sales. Networking is really about selling people on a dream. A dream that doesn’t have anything to do with you, either.
Kevin Kruse is a New York Times bestselling author, host of the popular LEADx Leadership Podcast, and the CEO/Founder of LEADx.org, which provides free world-class leadership training, professional development and career advice for anyone, anywhere.