The Thursday article I’ve written for Lifehack.org today may be one of the longest ones I’ve ever done for him — mahalo nui Leon for the valuable chunk of your blog’s real estate! — yet it was also one of the quickest ones for me once I actually sat down at the keyboard to write it. Why? People leave definite impressions on me.
In one sentence; it describes what happens when someone hires me as a speaker, and they decide we’ll become friends with a professional relationship by the time the engagement is over.
Think about this for a moment. When you hire someone — to do anything for you, anything at all — what lasting effect will they have on your life? What lasting effect will you have on theirs? What kind of opportunities might you be missing?
If you are going to spend some time with a new acquaintance, is that valuable time captured, or is it squandered away and wasted?
When you boil an engagement down to its essence, people want me to speak at an event because they are looking for some kind of inspiration or motivation. When they treat me as a vendor I do make sure they get that shot of inspiration they are expecting. However when they treat me as a prospective collaborator on their vision of greater possibility, that’s what they get.
Relationship can be a pretty loaded word for most of us — too loaded. We think of the “emotional bank account deposits” Stephen Covey talks about, instead of the Never Eat Alone stuff that Keith Ferrazzi so intuitively pitches as our today and right now in this moment strategies. We primarily think in terms of these large and significant investments we have to make in our key relationships, when in reality, relationships come in different shapes, sizes, colors and intensity to fit better with all the different shapes, sizes, colors and intensity that people come in.
Even when my speaking will be a one-shot deal for someone (e.g. it’s their turn to get speakers for the Rotary) and it’s highly unlikely that I will bring more coaching in MWA to their own company, in my perfect world the people I work with become my friends. We may not meet each other’s families, and we probably won’t exchange Christmas gifts, but we do maintain some connection. Nearly all become Ho‘ohana Community subscribers so that I can one day, someday, possibly introduce them to the rest of you in a comment or story, and so I don’t neglect to stay in touch as best I can.
Every single time you meet someone new, you need to go prospecting for the gold, for the hidden treasure they represent — for the aloha spirit that they are made of.
Today, I’m expecting a brand new refrigerator to be delivered to my daughter’s O‘ahu apartment; it’s my very practical Christmas gift for her. The delivery men bringing it have much more talent, personality and character separate from the brute strength and electrical connection knowledge they were hired for, not to mention the fact that they are my touch point to a virtual goldmine of other people in their own relationship networks.
Now you do have to learn some basic relationship skills. The speaking engagements that take the most work to pull off on my part are those in which the person hiring me has a hard time simply upholding their half of a conversation.
Despite how complete I feel our initial conversations were, I always arrive early at an engagement so I can check on the room’s logistics; set-up, sound, lighting etc. It can be both comical and sad how many times I encounter someone assigned to be my contact who simply doesn’t know what to do with me or talk to me at all when I’m not on stage; my being early catches them completely flustered. My aloha kicks in, and now, instead of me finding a quiet back corner to review my speech notes before everyone else arrives and I start mingling with guests, I end up playing teacher, mentor and coach, doing my best to make them comfortable with me. Now I’m a coach at heart, and I enjoy that too — truthfully, I love the challenge. But it’s like helping someone through their middle school adolescence when you’re expecting them to have already graduated from college.
So think about your own relationship quotient and capacity. Make a focused, diligent effort to improve it. If you are one of those people starting to write your New Year’s resolutions, add it at the top of the list. One of those best laid plans I had for us here in 2005 that got pushed down my priority list, was more talk story on Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone. Watch for it in 2006. If you haven’t read it yet, drop some hints and get someone to give you his book for Christmas!
Meanwhile, trust in what you already know and just make a conscious new effort to enlarge your own relationship quotient. You can start with some of the tips I shared today at Leon’s place, for when you read between the lines they apply to relationships in all those shapes, sizes, colors and intensities I mentioned, not just speaking gigs.
My meanwhile? I’ve got to clean out Ashley’s old refrigerator. Out with the old, and in with the new, possibly being delivered with a new friend.