Never Eat Alone

Cover of the book Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

Why read this

  •  To know the top reasons why you should expand your social network;

Why listen to the author

  • He’s a New York Times best selling author;
  • Got an MBA at Harvard Business School;
  • CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, a consulting firm focused on changing human behaviors;

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Never Eat Alone – Book Notes

Reading time: ~7min.

Express Your Feelings and be Assertive

According to a Harvard Medical School study, people who repress frustration are 3 times more likely to say they have reached a point where they can’t achieve more success. People tend to think that anger is a bad emotion and therefore are encouraged to practice ‘positive thinking’. But Professor George Vaillant and other researchers have found that practice to be a denial of dreadful reality.

However, the Harvard team, which followed 824 people over 44 years, said it is important to remain in control when expressing your feelings, and that outright explosive fury is destructive and not particularly productive.

Psychologist Ben Williams defends a better position to express frustration which is to behave assertively. People who behave assertively stand their ground, that is, defend what they believe in, while being respectful. They show concerns for their position, as well as others’. This is a way of showing respect to other people, who in turn and for that reason, feel more respect for them.

For those that have not been able to practice this, and have been repressing frustrations or unproperly expressing them, studies suggest that there are three main types of talk therapy that can fight mild to moderate depression:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which tries to change thought patterns, beliefs and behaviors that contribute to depression;
  • Interpersonal Therapy which studies how one’s relationships impact one’s mood;
  • Problem Solving Therapy which helps one find solutions to specific problems that may be at least partially the cause of the depression.

Some patients find a few months of therapy are all they need, while others continue long term.

Network

“Before my eyes, I saw proof that success breeds success and, indeed, the rich do get richer. Their web of friends and associates was the most potent club the people I caddied for had in their bags. Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.

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,” whether he started out as a caddie or not.

This realization came with some empowering implications. To achieve your goals in life, I realized, it matters less how smart you are, how much innate talent you’re born with, or even, most eye opening to me, where you came from and how much you started out with. Sure all these are important, but they mean little if you don’t understand one thing: You can’t get there alone. In fact, you can’t get very far at all.”

When you help others, they often help you.

“Because of (…) specifically that lesson, I came to realize that first semester at business school that Harvard’s hyper-competitive, individualistic students had it all wrong. Success in any field, but especially in business, is about working with people, not against them. No tabulation of dollars and cents can account for one immutable fact: Business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people.”

“Over time, I came to see reaching out to people as a way to make a difference in people’s lives as well as a way to explore and learn and enrich my own; it became the conscious construction of my life’s path.”

People who instinctively establish a strong network of relationships have always created great businesses. If you strip business down to its basics, it’s still about people selling things to other people.”

“From my earliest days growing up in Latrobe, I found myself absorbing wisdom and advice from every source imaginable— friends, books, neighbors, teachers, family. My thirst to reach out was almost unquenchable. But in business, I found nothing came close to the impact of mentors. At every stage in my career, I sought out the most successful people around me and asked for their help and guidance.”

“Once you’re committed to reaching out to others and asking for their help at being the best at whatever you do, you’ll realize, as I have, what a powerful way of accomplishing your goals this can be. Just as important, it will lead to a much fuller, richer life, surrounded by an ever-growing, vibrant network of people you care for and who care for you.”

“There is no such thing as a “self-made” man. We are made up of thousands of others. Everyone who has ever done a kind deed for us, or spoken one word of encouragement to us, has entered into the make-up of our character and of our thoughts, as well as our success.”

Autonomy is like life vest made out of sand. Independent people may be good individual producers, but they won’t be seen as good leaders or team players and their careers should plateau early.

Set Goals

“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.”

All successful people Ferrazzi has met — from athletes, to CEOs, to accomplished managers, etc., — had goal setting as a constant in their lives. They all know what they want in life, they make a plan, and they go after it [cf. How Life Imitates Chess].

Ferrazzi’s dad used to say that “no one becomes an astronaut by accident”.

Here’s an exercise of crosschecking dreams and goals with things that make you happy:

  • Write down in a column your dreams and goals, not caring if they seem too over the top or too unimportant, that is, don’t censure or judge;
  • On a second column write down everything that brings you pleasure and happiness e.g. activities or being with people where you don’t notice the time passing;
  • Look for common points in both, or ways to make both happen, to find a direction.

As a complement to this exercise ask the people who know you the best what they think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses. What they admire about you and what they think you may need help in. This information should help further decide the direction you should take.

How to Network

Our potential to connecting to people is at any moment far bigger than we might realize: “All around you are golden opportunities to develop relationships with people you know, who know people you don’t know, who know even more people. There are a number of things that you can do to harness the power of your preexisting network. Have you investigated the friends and contacts of your parents? How about your siblings? Your friends from college and grad school? What about your church, bowling league, or gym? How about your doctor or lawyer or realtor or broker?”

The big obstacles of the so called “networking” — meeting new people and/or keeping in touch with existing acquaintances/friends — concern the first part, the activities that involve contacting with the unknown. But we can start connecting with the people we do know. We can focus on your immediate circle: friends of friends, old acquaintances from school/college/hobbies, family. Have you thought of asking your cousins, brothers or aunts,  if they know anyone that 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.”

“So don’t wait until you’re out of a job, or on your own, to begin reaching out to others. You’ve got to create a community of colleagues and friends before you need it. Others around you are far more likely to help you if they already know and like you. Start gardening now. You won’t believe the treasures to be found within your own backyard.”

“The choice isn’t between success and failure; it’s between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity.”

Be with people you’d like to be become, watch how they do, learn with them, and ask for their help if necessary. But don’t treat those under you poorly. In business, the food chain is transient. You must treat people with respect up and down the ladder.

What would you like to get better at in terms of connecting with others? Do you know any networking tips that you want to share? Has networking been helpful in your experience?

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