Bob Burg Interview

Bob Burg on the Success, Motivation & Inspiration podcast

Bob Burg is the author of multiple books including, “The Go-Giver”, a Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek Bestseller which, to-date has sold over 925,000 copies! The Go-Giver has been translated into 28 languages. It was rated #10 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the Most Motivational Books Ever Written, and it was on HubSpot’s Top-20 Sales Books of All Time!

Bob is the author of a number of books on sales, marketing, and influence, with total book sales approaching two million copies! The American Management Association named Bob one of the 30 Most Influential Leaders and he was named one of the Top 200 Most Influential Authors in the World by Richtopia.

Bob is an advocate, supporter, and defender of the free enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve. I’m excited to share our conversation with our listeners!

Below are some insights from Bob Burg. Enjoy!

What is your personal definition of success?

Success can be defined and measured in different ways. It’s also very contextual, and individual. It can be as simple as achieving a goal but it’s certainly not limited to that basic context.

My overall definition of success is an ongoing and genuine feeling of happiness and peace of mind based on having done’s one best in living up to their potential.

I always enjoyed Earl Nightingale’s definition of success from his Lead the Field album, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” And there are many other definitions I also enjoy.

Can you share the steps you take daily to improve?

I read voraciously. I watch videos and listen to audios, I observe and listen to people and I’m constantly checking my premises, understanding that I don’t know nearly what I think I know. Because of that, I’m hopefully able to keep my mind open. I think listening, engaging with people and not being attached to being right or knowing the answers is important. Questioning premises and asking ourselves, “Why do I think that?”, “Why do I believe that?”, or “What could I do differently?” is important. I’m constantly studying, learning, and hopefully growing!

What is your advice for someone making an important decision?

I think it goes back to learning how to make decisions, and not waiting until the last minute to decide that “now I need to know how to make a decision”. There’s a wonderful book written by a woman named Annie Duke. Annie is a world champion professional poker player. I’m not a poker player and it’s not necessary to be in order to benefit from her book called, “Thinking in Bets”. What it was really about is how to make the best decisions when you don’t have all the facts! We may have a preponderance of facts and a preponderance of evidence but we generally don’t have all the facts. What she talks about is learning how to think in such a way that we give ourselves the best odds of making the best decision. While the best decision doesn’t necessarily guarantee the best outcome, obviously the better the decision the better the odds of that best outcome occurring.

The most important thing is determining how you’re going to make decisions before those important decisions come up!

Tell me about a specific moment that set you on the path you’re on now?

I grew up with great parents, fortunately. Wonderful people who tried to make the world better for others! My dad was probably the best I’ve ever known when it came to people skills. His people skills were really based on truly caring about the other person and making people feel genuinely good about themselves. In terms of sales, it was understanding and learning that the sale is never about the salesperson. The sale is never even about the product or service, as important as the product or service is. The sale is always about the other person and how their lives are going to be touched or improved by using your product or service.

The basic premise of The Go-Giver is that shifting your focus from getting to giving. In this context, when we say giving, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others, and understanding that not only is that a pleasant way of conducting business, it’s the most financially profitable way as well! When we genuinely care about making another person’s life better, that’s when great things happen!

If you could recommend one book for our audience, what would it be?

“Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” by Annie Duke & “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

When you have a book that is tapping into truths in some way, that’s always a positive book to read!

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Which character traits do you value most?

I think genuine kindness would be the first character trait I really value. A person can act nice in order to manipulate another human being, but that’s not being kind. Both honest and integrity are important. Across cultures, across countries and individuals, I think these are things we respect and admire about people.

How do you push through tough times?

You just push through. Do you have a choice? You can stop or you can quit, but if you quit, you’re not going to get the results you want. So, if you have a great enough desire for something, you can’t allow yourself to quit. The road to success is paved with tough times. It’s paved with a lot of “No’s”.

Great friends of mine, Andrea Waltz & Richard Fenton wrote a book called “Go for No! Yes is the Destination, No is How You Get There”. In the parable, the book helps you to embrace the understanding that every no gets you closer to a yes, so long as you’re making the correct adjustments when necessary.

What inspires you?

I think what inspires me is that I love what I do! I believe in my message, and I have a personal need to get that message out in the marketplace and feel I’m making a contribution! I believe that as human beings, we’re programmed to feel that way! I believe that’s part of human nature. That’s what inspires me, that I feel I can make a difference. That I feel I have something to offer the world.

I don’t believe there’s a dichotomy between doing well and making a lot of money. The focus needs to be on the value you’re providing. In one of our books, John David Mann and I say, “Money is an echo of value. It’s the thunder to value’s lightning.” Which means, the focus must be on the value you’re providing the world, the value you’re providing others, and the value you’re providing in business. When the focus is on value, the money you receive is simply a very natural result of the value you provided!

How do you manage and prioritize opportunities?

That’s important. The more successful you become, the more people ask you and want things from you. The fact is: there aren’t enough hours in the day to be able to do that and still keep your sanity, and still do the best job serving the marketplace you need to serve. So, we’ve got to be able to say no a lot more than we say yes. The key is to say no in a way that respects the other person, that values the other person, that makes them feel good about themself, and at the same time, honors our own values and the fences that we need to put around these things.

Here’s the important thing: Don’t say no in a way that’s incongruent with your value system of treating people with kindness and respect. Here’s how you can say no to someone in a way that’s polite, kind, but also gets the point across: You simply say, “Thank you so much! While it’s not something I’d like to do, please know how honored I am to be asked.” Resist the urge to make an excuse.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

That is probably the easiest question I could answer! That answer would be, “18-year-old Bob Burg, shut up and listen more!” It was only after I realized how little I knew, and opened myself up to listening, and learning and growing, that things began to change!


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