If there’s one lesson we’ve learned from watching the evolution of social media, it’s that people love to be heard.
In fact, I believe that one desire is why we find so many photos of people’s lunches, their pets doing really boring and mundane things (like staring at them when they eat), not to mention the cavalcade of pointless “quizzes”, memes and fluff that get posted by 97% of the people who use facebook, twitter, and Instagram each day. People are starved for attention in a world that is all but disconnected from real communication and meaningful connection.
Entrepreneurs, especially affiliate marketers and network marketers are schooled on “what to say”, when to post, how to post, and the importance of determining their “why”. But I’ve noticed that fewer than 10% of the self-proclaimed “leaders”, “gurus” and “heavy hitters” of our industries invest any time teaching the one thing that I’ve personally found makes all the difference between consistently growing my business and stagnation… the art of listening.
Chris Majer, founder and CEO of the Human Potential Project and author of The Power to Transform: Passion, Power, and Purpose in Daily Life, tells us, “According to the International Listening Association, more than 35 studies indicate that listening is a top skill needed for success in business, yet less than 2 percent of all professionals obtain training to improve listening skills,” adding, “Listening isn’t taught in any business school, and there are few listening courses available to companies. The subject tends to get dismissed as the dreaded ‘touchy-feely’ stuff.”
Several entrepreneurs from our group have asked me privately why I haven’t been writing new articles in this forum for the past eight weeks. Some were worried that the two massive heart attacks or subsequent cardiopulmonary issues that I have been dealing with for the past seventeen weeks were to blame. Others wondered if I was simply walking away from this project. But the reason for my silence has been more a matter of choosing to listen — to take time to get a clearer “pulse” on what it is that my readers and students of our mentoring program really want and need.
You see, most people go out there and find a product or service they want to sell, because it appeals to them in some way. And then they wonder why others aren’t responding the way they want. They’ve chosen the harder road — what some would call “the road more traveled”. And I’ve made that mistake before as well.
Many of you will readily remember that a while back, I became involved with a company that claimed to be one of the most innovative social distribution networks in the world — where people would become members of a global initiative, and simply shop at the same stores they shop at now, and rather than earning commissions on their sales, they would share in what the company misrepresented as “the company’s global profit”. Who could say no to a profit-sharing opportunity like that? I mean, all I had to do was to buy a Walmart and Target gift card each month for the amount of groceries and medications we were already buying, throw in a Starbucks card for $25, maybe a Chile’s and TGI Fridays gift card for $50 each, and tell our friends to do the same thing.
The problem with that is that I became involved because that company was promising to do something that appealed to me… deeply… because I had been working on a similar idea for two years prior. But I quickly discovered that the idea wasn’t something the marketplace was ready to embrace. People were not looking for a chance to get cash-back on their purchases, and they were (wisely) skeptical that the company’s management had really thought this whole profit-sharing concept through properly. And within a matter of weeks, I was among those who were skeptical, and later unimpressed.
I thought back, and the only other time I’d experienced that kind of failure in growing a profitable business was in 1993, when three partners and I created the world’s first enterprise social network — a company called MyFreeOffice.com.
I was convinced that our idea of networking entrepreneurs, customers and prospects, using a web-based “community” was brilliant and would work. It appealed to me and to my sense of where the Internet was headed. I saw it, and believed in it more than anything I’d done until that time. The problem was that the public was not ready for the idea of social networks, and wouldn’t really be for another five to six years. And even then, it wasn’t the overall marketplace or entrepreneurs who would be ready, it was college students and musicians for the first three to four years really. And that wasn’t the market segment MyFreeOffice was focused on attracting.
What happened in both of those cases was the same thing…
I started doing something that interested me. I was trying to sell what I liked, wanted and was attracted to. I wasn’t listening to what the marketplace was looking for.
So eight weeks ago, I took a little breather. I considered it a working-retreat, and began to really dive into my due diligence process. I started asking questions and really listening to what the people in the marketplace were saying (and not saying). And I began to refine my skills along the way — no longer just repeating back what I heard, but really working to interpret the data I was receiving.
And as I listened, I found opportunities to genuinely validate what the consumers were looking for, and what they didn’t want as well. I stopped looking for a way to sell them what interested me, and started to hear some very surprising common interests from them, when I encouraged them to forget what they were told about success and entrepreneurial efforts, and really dig deep into what they wanted in the first place.
And that information I learned from so many of you resulted in a number of major shifts in my life, including changes that many of you have seen in this mentoring community.
We’ll begin offering short-term, more targeted opportunities for entrepreneurs to learn very specific skills that will immediately put them into profit, depending on their personal interests and needs.
We’re expanding the scope of what we do in this community to include a broader range of small and medium sized business owners, not necessarily involved in direct sales or home business programs.
We’ve discovered a pattern that really surprised and excited me, as I listened to why so many people began to pursue home-based businesses and direct sales projects, and those discoveries have led us to offering some of the most innovative and truly “disruptive” approaches to wealth building I’ve seen in 38 years in this field.
And most of all, we’ve redoubled the commitment I made almost four decades ago, when the late Mr. Jim Rohn became my personal mentor… and that commitment was the commitment to really listen.
So I am very excited to be back, and excited about the new directions we’re taking things in, as well as the energy so many of you are bringing to the table, as we truly listen to what you’re looking for. And what could be easier than forgetting about trying to sell you what interests me, and instead providing you with the solutions you’re already interested in, and have been all along!
What about you? Do you think it might be beneficial to refine and sharpen your listening skills in the marketplace? What about in our homes, our schools, and our society?
Might we accomplish more in a seemingly divided and hostile socio-political environment, when we begin to genuinely listen, than we could simply trying to advance our agenda? I’m not suggesting that we have to compromise our commitments to social justice, compassion or equality by any means. In fact, I believe that listening can actually improve our chances of realising those all-important goals.
And I would love to hear from you in the comments below, if you’re inspired to join us in becoming better listeners.
I’m going to be creating something of a private beta-community, where a select group of entrepreneurs come together to further explore this idea, and provide me with some critical feedback that I would appreciate as I “flesh out” the content for a new series we’re going to offer the marketplace on Entrepreneurial Listening & Success.
That’s a class that will be offered in a couple months for $199, but those who reach out to me privately, whom I invite to be part of the beta-group, will have access to that entire program for free. And they’ll get some other exciting goodies along the way, worth several hundred dollars as well, just for helping out.
Now it’s your turn. If you listened to what I had to share tonight, and if it sounds interesting to you, the next step will be for you and me to have a thirty minute conversation this week (the cut-off for this private beta-group will be Saturday, March 18, 2017). Just schedule your appointment by going directly to my calendar at: http://calendly.com/DrSalvato/interview (the link for that will disappear from this blog on Friday evening).
And so I will leave you with this inspiring performance from an adorable and talented little brother who is LIT… and if this doesn’t do it for you, please dial 911, because you might be dead!