Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday #80: “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi

Dear kids,

There are a lot of books on marketing and business. But Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz is a pretty unique bug. You won’t see many books like it. Whether or not you’re interested in sales, this book could change your life. No need to read the whole thing. Just try the first chapters and see if you’re inclined to continue.

Selected Quotes:

On the importance of a social network and generosity:

  • Your network is your destiny, a reality backed up by many studies in the newly emergent fields of social networking and social contagion theory. We are the people we interact with. Our paychecks, our moods, the health of our hearts, and the size of our bellies—all of these things are determined by whom we choose to interact with and how.
  • . . . The book’s original foundational mind-sets—generosity, authenticity, and a belief that greatness is anyone’s to seize, regardless of economic background, ethnicity, age, or gender, so long as they provide ever-increasing value to others—are thankfully here to stay.
  • Here are just a few things that this book will allow you to do: 1. Create a fulfilling, authentic, effective networking strategy that lasts a lifetime 2. Build and align social capital to achieve ever more ambitious goals 3. Combine strategy and serendipity to keep in constant contact with a wide network of people 4. Filter and prioritize your relationships for quality interchange that supports your goals and values 5. Cultivate a magnetic personal brand that has people clamoring to share information, access, and resources 6. Translate that brand to social media to build a devoted online tribe 7. Increase your value to your network, and specifically to your company or clients 8. Create innovative content to build a reputation as an expert and increase your online influence 9. Get “discovered” and tapped for the best opportunities 10. Create a life that you love and the network to cheer you on
  • As a kid, I caddied at the local country club for the homeowners and their children living in the wealthy town next to mine . . . I watched how the people who had reached professional heights unknown to my father and mother helped one another . . . They found one another jobs, they invested time and money in one another’s ideas, and they made sure their kids got help getting into the best schools . . . I came to believe that in some very specific ways life, like golf, is a game, and that the people who know the rules, and know them well, play it best and succeed. And the rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people, for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become a member of the “club” . . .
  • When you help others, they often help you.
  • But . . . here’s the hard part: You’ve got to be more than willing to accept generosity. Often, you’ve got to go out and ask for it . . . Until you become as willing to ask for help as you are to give it, however, you are only working half the equation.
  • As Wired magazine put it in a 2010 cover story, “The secret to health and happiness? Healthy and happy friends … A half century of medical data [has] revealed the infectious power of social networks.”
  • Bottom line: It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.
  • I would argue that your relationships with others are your finest, most credible expression of who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Joseph Campbell, who coined the phrase “follow your bliss” in the early 1900s, was a graduate student at Columbia University. His blue flame, he decided, was the study of Greek mythology. When he was told there was no such major, he devised his own plan. After graduation, he moved into a cabin in Woodstock, New York, where he did nothing but read from nine in the morning until six or seven each night for five years. There isn’t exactly a career track for lovers of Greek myth. Campbell emerged from the woods a very, very knowledgeable man, but he still had no clue what to do with his life. He persisted in following his love of mythology anyway. The people who met him during this time were astonished by his wisdom and passion. Eventually, he was invited to speak at Sarah Lawrence College. One lecture led to another, until finally, when Campbell looked up one day twenty-eight years later, he was a famous author and professor of mythology, doing what he loved, at the same school that had given him his first break. “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living.”

On making a connection plan for success:

  • The most simple version of the plan is separated into three distinct parts: The first part is devoted to the development of the goals that will help you fulfill your mission. The second part is devoted to connecting those goals to the people, places, and things that will help you get the job done. And the third part helps you determine the best way to reach out to the people who will help you to accomplish your goals . . . This means choosing a medium to connect, but, more important, it means finding a way to lead with generosity.
  • Moreover, you can apply the worksheet to every aspect of your life: to expand your network of friends, further your education, find a lifelong partner, and search for spiritual guidance.
  • Your goals must be specific.
  • Your goals must be believable.
  • Your goals must be challenging and demanding.
  • I suspect you’ve never asked your cousins, brothers, or brothers-in-law if they know anyone whom they could introduce you to to help fulfill your goals. Everyone from your family to your mailman is a portal to an entirely new set of folks.
  • People to reach out to: Relatives. Friends of relatives. All your spouse’s relatives and contacts Current colleagues Members of professional and social organizations Current and former customers and clients Parents of your children’s friends Neighbors, past and present People you went to school with People you have worked with in the past People in your religious congregation Former teachers and employers People you socialize with People who provide services to you People with whom you interact on Facebook Other online connections in social media or community groups
  • Another effective way to follow up is to forward relevant articles to the people in your network who might be interested.

Other self-promotion advice:

  • About ten years ago, Thomas Harrell, a professor of applied psychology at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, set out to identify the traits of its most successful alumni . . . Those who had built businesses and climbed the corporate ladder with amazing speed were those who could confidently make conversation with anyone in any situation.
  • Some people become power brokers through sheer intimidation and force of will; others, generally with far better results, learn to become indispensable to the people around them.
  • My point? Real power comes from being indispensable. Indispensability comes from being a switchboard, parceling out as much information, contacts, and goodwill to as many people—in as many different worlds—as possible. It’s a sort of career karma. How much you give to the people you come into contact with determines how much you’ll receive in return. In other words, if you want to make friends and get things done, you have to put yourself out to do things for other people—things that require time, energy, and consideration.
  • Develop a Personal Branding Message (PBM) A brand is nothing less than everything everyone thinks of when they see or hear your name.
  • Your PBM comes from your content/unique value proposition . . .
  • Your message is always an offshoot of your mission and your content. After you’ve sat down and figured out who you want to be, and you’ve written goals in some version of ninety-day, one-year,
  • Your positioning message should include a list of words that you want people to use when referring to you. Writing those words down is a big first step in having others believe them. Ask your most trusted friends what words they would use to describe you, for good and for bad. Ask them what are the most important skills and attributes you bring to the table.
  • Upworthy found that the best strategy for producing viral content was curation, not creation—they pull links that are already performing well in social media. They repackage them with irresistible headlines and use their easy-to-share page . . .

The author also tells two stories about generosity and the lack thereof. In one, a highly connected businessperson refuses to reach out to a valued contact on someone else’s behalf, wanting to save that favor for himself. In Ferrazi’s opinion, he lost the chance to make a meaningful connection with two people who could help him later–the valued contact and the new up-and-comer. He also tells the story of his father knocking on a woman’s door and asking for the old Big Wheel in her garbage. He made her day, he says, offering her the chance to do something nice for someone else. She gave him a bicycle, too.



Get the entire recommended reading list at Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday.


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