My favorite book of all time is Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. This book is the blueprint to building an amazing network by giving back to others by listening to them, taking an interest in them, and finding their strengths. The philosophy is so simple, yet profound. Better yet, it works. Carnegie passed away in 1955, seventeen years before I was born. I've often wondered, what it would have been like to live a day in the life of Carnegie.
There are some people who are put on earth to deliver a message. Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, Og Mandino, and Napoleon Hill were a few of the first in the revolution of thought leadership and their lessons went on to influence entire nations. To have personally known the likes of amazing leaders like these must have been mind-altering. They change the way you perceive the world, interact with others, and achieve goals.
Today marks a whole new era of thought leadership, with an entirely new set of names brandishing the industry with concepts designed to help people from all walks of life live their dreams. While the likes of Carnegie, Ziglar, and Mandino have passed on, others of their caliber have been born in a world where we are hyper-connected to not just our neighbors, but to everyone we have ever met in our lives, through social media. Forty years ago, one could get by without studying and understanding thought leadership, because most had such a small sphere of influence that their capacity to win friends, create influence, and achieve dreams, paled in comparison to the opportunities that are available in today's world. After all, today, everyone you need to know to achieve your dream is literally at your fingertips, a click away on social media. The thought leaders of today - the Tony Robbins, Sheryl Sandbergs, Michael J. Mahers, Arianna Huffingtons, and Hal Elrods of the world carry a huge weight on their shoulders. Not only must they master and share the lessons of the Carnegies, Ziglars, Mandinos and Hills, they must also create and teach new strategies for achieving greatness in a world that is totally interconnected, and where the average person each day is communicating with more than just his neighbors and family, he's talking to the entire world.
Recently I had the rare opportunity to spend two days with one of the greatest thought leaders of our world today, Michael J. Maher. I wanted to interview him on greatness. I wanted to pick his brain about what it takes to shoulder the responsibility of leading millions of people to better lives in today's new socially connected economy. I did the interview with Michael, which I'll share at another time. Today I'm going to share with you something way more special than the sixty minute back and forth we had about success.
Remember what I said at the opening of this post? What would it be like to spend a day in the life of Dale Carnegie? What I realized as I began writing the article about my interview with Michael J. Maher, is that I had experienced something much more special than just the interview alone. I had been given the opportunity to live a day in the life of one of the greatest thought leaders of our time, the father of the Generosity Generation, and the author of the best-selling book, The Seven Levels of Communication, Michael J. Maher. The time I spent with Michael was the story that I needed to share, more than the conversation we had. Join me as I offer you right now four crucial lessons to living a life of significance from the man that literally wrote the book on it. These lessons were garnered from my observations of this amazing visionary, over two days we shared together in San Diego. I'll save the interview for another day, because today I'm offering you enough to change the trajectory of your life forever:
There's No Sweeter Name - In true Carnegie fashion, Michael J. Maher, is a master of memorizing the names of every person he meets. We were meeting another thought leader, Hal Elrod, for lunch at a restaurant that Michael had visited the day before. When the waitress greeted us, Michael addressed her by name. Said Carnegie, "There is no sweeter sound to one's ear than the sound of his name." Michael J. Maher lives by this. Once you know someone's name, you have planted the seed for a potential relationship to be born. In fact, Michael goes out of his way to create that relationship with everyone he meets. Upon addressing the waitress by her name, he then asked her if she was ready for her upcoming day off in which she'd be climbing a nearby mountain. Michael went on to ask her questions about the trip. I sat back and observed, blown away by the simple generosity he offered by getting to know others. He had planted the seed by asking for and then remembering her name, and he was watering that relationship by asking questions about her. By the way, I saw Michael plant and sow numerous relationships in our short time together, with wait staff, perfect strangers, and taxi drivers. Michael invested time and interest in every person he met and it was amazing to watch.
Fashion Forward - In my two days with Michael J. Maher, he was always the best dressed in the room, wearing pinstriped suits, a tie, and perfectly buffed shoes. We even shared a ride to the airport where we were both returning to our respective homes and while I had dressed in jeans and sneakers to relax for the long ride home, Michael wore his signature navy pinstriped suit. "Do you own jeans," I wondered aloud? "Yes, but you never know who you'll meet on a plane." Michael is always prepared with his A Game. One of my first mentors out of college taught me the importance of always dressing for the job I wanted, not the job I had. Since that time twenty years ago, rarely do I wear jeans or casual clothing to work. Michael took my thinking to a whole new level. If you want to live a life of significance, and help others do the same, you better dress like you mean it all of the time. There's a good chance someone totally amazing is sitting next to you on that plane ride and the best way to catch their attention is to make them wonder the moment you sit down, "Wow...who's this guy? Probably someone I need to know!"
It's All About Perspective - Michael is a lifelong learner. In the business of sales training and motivational speaking, he sees the entire world as his own personal focus group. On the ten minute ride to the airport I watched Michael in action as he quizzed our driver, Debra, about what it would take for her to refer one of her clients to a real estate agent. Michael had just come back from interviewing one of the best real estate agents in the world for his new Mastery Spotlight Series program that he will be unveiling in May and he's obsessively curious about how the mind of the consumer works because this gives him an edge over every other sales trainer and motivational speaker. Michael is in the business of helping sales professionals master their own personal greatness by helping them better understand what their customers want, and the only way for Michael to know what customers want is by talking to them about it. Michael is constantly picking the brain of anyone he talks to in order to see the world from their perspective. The greatest sales people in the world have a 360 degree perspective, and so must the best trainers, speakers, and authors in the world as well.
Let Your Principles Shine - Back to that lunch meeting with myself, Hal Elrod, and Michael. Upon having our food served, I immediately dug in. Michael stopped both Hal and I for a moment to ask if he could say a blessing before we ate. "Of course!" we both agreed. In a world that has become so hectic, busy, and even downright draining at times, Michael has found a way to step back, breath, and let his principles shine. His love of God and his family are infectious. As important as it is to him to carry out his purpose in life, he has found a way to do it without compromising his morals nor the people that are the most important to him. There are many examples in the world of people who have sacrificed everything, including God and family, to achieve their dreams. Michael J. Maher proves that the only way to achieve big dreams is in a way that is in moral alignment with your own personal principles.
Now I know what it must have been like to spend a day with Dale Carnegie, because I've experienced as close as one can possibly get through my two days with Michael J. Maher. Millions like me have followed his book, speeches, and mission, and I can say now from experience, he is a visionary and leader who is as authentic as they come. The Generosity Generation has legs, because the leader of this movement has heart, determination, and values. Dale Carnegie once said, "You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you." Michael J. Maher is the absolute proof of this. Millions follow his message because he has become obsessively interested in everything that makes other people awesome.