Tag Archives: Never Eat Alone

Who Do You Hang With? – Maybe It’s Time To Widen Your Circle; Really!

People are different.  And the more diversity between the people, the more differences there are.

So – here is the question of the day:  Do you always hang out with the same people – the same kinds of people? If so, maybe it’s time broaden your circle.

This simple advice is a key part of the message from Yale’s President Rick Levin to the arriving freshman class.   (I read this in this blog post by Arianna Huffington).  Here’s a key excerpt:

Levin pointed out how the students “come from all 50 states and 58 nations” and urged them (and their parents) to go “entirely outside the range of your past experience,” and “stretch yourself.” “If the friends you make here are exclusively those who come from backgrounds just like your own and went to high schools just like your own,” he said, “you will have forfeited half the value of a Yale education. Seek out friends with different histories and different interests; you will find that you learn the most from the people least like you.”

I’ve read plenty of books that offer similar advice.  Like this:

Sticking to the people we already know is a tempting behavior.  But unlike some forms of dating, a networker isn’t looking to achieve only a single successful union.  Creating an enriching circle of trusted relationships requires one to be out there, in the mix, all the time.
(So, therefore):
Set a goal for yourself of initiating a meeting with one new person a week.  It doesn’t matter where or with whom.
Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone:  And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors)


Seize any opportunity, or anything that looks like opportunity.  They are rare, much rarer than you think.  Remember that positive Black Swans have a necessary first step:  you need to be exposed to them.  If a big publisher (or a big art dealer or a movie executive or a hotshot banker or a big thinker) suggests an appointment, cancel anything you have planned:  you may never see such a window open up again.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan:  The Impact of the HIGHLY IMPROBABLE

In my own life, I am always learning from the wide array of people I “hang with.”  I speak monthly at the Urban Engagement Book Club, which includes a true mix of people:  non-profit leaders, business folks, some people who are pretty much in the homeless category, retired people…  I have experienced no other mix of people like it in my lifetime.

And I teach at a local community college.  There are people from multiple ethnic backgrounds, and all levels of the economic spectrum.  My students teach me so much every semester.

And then we have the audience of business leaders who attend the First Friday Book Synopsis.

And I lead regular sessions (Current Events and reading/discussion groups) with retired people.

You put all of these together, and my life is a rich, diverse set of moments that represent genuine diversity.

But I need to become even more intentional about this – as, I suspect, you do.  So, here some suggestions for us all:

1)    Go to at least one gathering, on a regular basis, that is made up of people who are not all “like you.”
2)    Read authors, and types of books, that are outside of your beaten path, and represent points of view that you disagree with.
3)    Look for another “new” person, and some new event, regularly.

Diversity is good for us.  But experiencing true diversity will not happen by accident.  You have to get intentional about it.  There are people to meet, ideas to discover, viewpoints to ponder.

Hanging with people who are not all just like you may be the most neglected learning discipline of them all.

Habit #4: Think Win-Win

Think Win-Win.

I don’t know any advice any better than this.  This, of course, is one of Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Successful People — #4 to be precise.

And if you think about “think win-win,” it reinforces a lot of “advice and counsel” from books we read nearly every day.  For example, today I presented my synopsis of the terrific book, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.  These quotes jumped out at me, and reminded me of Covey’s “think win-win” counsel:

Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them.
I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.
A network functions precisely because there’s recognition of mutual need…  first you have to stop keeping score.

Or, consider the concept of “generalized reciprocity” from the modern classic, Bowling Alone:  The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam.  In it, he writes about the appeal of generalized reciprocity:  “I’ll do this for you without expecting anything specific back from you, in the confident expectation that someone else will do something for me down the road.”

I think we need to trumpet this concept loudly and clearly in these tense days.  There seems to be such fierce competition with others; so many people who are so quick to find fault, to even question the motives of others.  It is as though there are people out there rooting for the failure of others.

And we forget that any one failure spells trouble for others – maybe for all.

I was recently re-reading part of Collapse:  How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond.  (One of those, “I really encourage you to read this book” books).  Here are a couple of quotes from near the end of the book:

Our own society opted long ago to become interlocked with the rest of the world…
In the Netherlands, we have another expression, ‘You have to be able to get along with your enemy, because he may be the person operating the neighboring pump in your polder.’

In one sense, there is no such thing as an enemy, but only fellow planet users.  If your economy is weak, my economy is threatened.  If your city is polluted, my clean air is at risk.  “If the dikes and pumps fail, we’ll all drown together.’’ (Diamond).

Let’s put it another way:  to think and act “win-lose” is really to think and act “lose-lose.”  We really are in this together, and “win-win” may be the only path to “win” at all.

“I Make Money by Making Friends” — why people network

Call it what you will.  Networking; schmoozing; conversation; customer cultivation.  Whatever you call it, it’s still the same basic truth — you make money, you build success, one relationship at a time.

This truth came through loud and clear in a conversation with an innovative CEO from a premier Austin recruitment firm.  The conversation took place on family reunion weekend in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  (If you’re ever looking for a great Bed and Breakfast just four hours from Dallas, check out Jefferson House — owned and operated by older brother Herman Mayeux and his wife Arleen).  The CEO is my brother Mike Mayeux, CEO of Novotus.  The money quote:  “I make money by making friends all day long.” And you should see him at work.  I’ve been with him while he is on the phone, I’ve been with him in a room full of people.  Mike is really, really good at making friends!

This truth has to be embodied in the right kind of person.  Mike is that kind of person.  He likes people.  He really, genuinely likes people.  So when he says that he is making friends, he really is making friends, building relationships in which he will do what he can to help others.  And one of the things he can do is help people find the right talented person to hire for a whole lot of different kinds of jobs. He is not making friends in order to get what he can out of the other person.  He is making friends for the purpose of making friendships, and all such genuine friendship is, by definition, reciprocal.  (Robert Putnam, in Bowling Alone, describes a working society as one which shares much generalized reciprocity).

Business books confirm this.  In The Power of Nice, (a book my colleague Karl Krayer presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis), the authors put it this way:  You make positive impressions on others, and then, “these positive impressions are like seeds.  You plant them and forget about them, but underneath the surface, they’re growing and expanding, often exponentially.”  This book also reminds us of what happens if we do not treat people in a friendly way:  “Just as positive actions are like seeds, rude gestures and remarks are like germs – you may not see the impact they have on you for a while, but they are there, silently infecting you and everyone around you.”  A little more:  “The good news is that positive emotions are more contagious than negative ones.  A Yale University School of Management study found that cheerfulness and warmth spread far more quickly than irritability and depression.”  And this reminder (with a subtle warning for those who are not genuine):  “If you’re concerned that a compliment will come off as phony or patronizing, then almost certainly it won’t.  The very fact that you’re worried about it means you aren’t a slick glad-hander, and you won’t come off that way.”

And, as always, Never Eat Alone states it clearly and simply:  “I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful.”

So, here is a set of business questions for us all:

1.  Are you meeting new people?

2.  Are you making new friends?

3.  Do your friends (your new friends/your long-time friends) believe that you have their best interests at heart?

4.  Do you have their best interests at heart?

5.  Are you making money by making friends?

It took my little (ok — “younger” — not so little) brother to sum up what I have spent years reading about and trying to learn:  “I make money by making friends all day.”

{To purchase our synopses of The Power of Nice and Never Eat Alone, and many other business books, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site}.

Everyone is Reading it – Are You?

Here’s an interesting little piece of insight — a lot of people claim to have read books that they have not actually read.

Why?  Because, to stay in the “admired/with it” group, they have to appear as with it.  And reading the current hot books, in some circles, especially some business circles, is a way to be and stay with it.

Seth Godin recently captured this in one of his short and tremendously insightful blog posts.  Here’s a brief excerpt:

The reason the New York Times matters isn’t about the delivery of news (it’s old by the time it arrives) or even the analysis (which is often spotty or wrong or banal or biased or boring). No, the reason it matters is because everyone else reads it….  You can change the definition of “everyone” and customize it for your industry or passion, but the fact is, we need to read what everyone else is reading in order to have a sense of being in sync. If it’s in there, it matters, because everyone else read it.

This fact — that we all need to read what everybody is reading in order to keep up with the buzz, “to have a sense of being in sync” — partially explains why the First Friday Book Synopsis (and other book summary entities — there are many!) is so valuable.  We identify most of the “hot” books, and then provide enough of the content to help our participants appear to be with it.  I think Godin is onto something here.  We have to read, or at least be very familiar with, the book — you know, the book everybody is talking about.  In the last few years, that book has been:

The World is Flat


Hot, Flat, and Crowded,


Good to Great








The Tipping Point


The Black Swan


Never Eat Alone


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team



and…  (Yes, I know I’ve missed some…)

What will be next on the “with it” list?  I don’t know, but this I do know — we will choose the next “with it” book for a presentation at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  (We haven’t missed many over the last 11+ years!)

Are you feeling like one of the with it group?

(And, by the way – most of these books are worth reading and knowing about for the useful content in the books, and not just for your reputation).

{To purchase our synopses of most of these books, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site}.

Our Networking Mandate — Go Fish in Every Pond

The First Friday Book Synopsis has been meeting for over 11 years.  Something new is happening — not in the content of our programs (we have always provided two synopses of best-selling and useful business books), but in the make-up of our participants.

Here’s what’s new:  people are coming from everywhere.

In the earlier days, we had a wonderful group of our friends, a few corporate folks, book lovers — but we tended to know each other.  But as time went on, and especially in the last five months as the economic climate has become ever more challenging, people from all sorts of backgrounds just started showing up.  We now see more and more people that we had not met before.  And, yes, we are glad to meet each one of them at our event.

Beverly Dawson, CEO of Elder Care LP in Dallas, puts it simply:  “You can’t just fish in your own pond. You have to fish in everyone else’s pond as well.”  Why?  Because there is no telling which industry, which type of company, which contact will come in handy for your next job search, your next business relationship, your next move forward…  One CEO from an Austin based-company recently put it this way: “business is so tough in this climate that I would drive 3 hours just for the chance to network with any three people I can find.”

That is why the attendance at the First Friday Book Synopsis is growing.  People are learning the truth that they should “never eat alone.”  Notice Keith Ferrazi’s sub-title to his book: Never Eat Alone — And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time  (The Ultimate Networker Reveals How to Build a Lifelong Community of Colleagues, Contacts, Friends, and Mentors). He wrote: You can’t get there alone.  In fact, you can’t get very far at all.  (p. 5).

And the reason we have to fish in all ponds is this:  “Lifetime corporate employment is dead; we’re all free agents now, managing our own careers across multiple careers across multiple jobs and companies.  And because today’s primary currency is information, a wide-reaching network is one of the surest ways to become and remain thought leaders of our respective fields.”  (Ferrazzi, p. 12).

So – we all need to go fishing.  All the time.   Our success depends on it.

(To purchase my synopsis of Never Eat Alone, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site).