Momentum Podcast: 111
Stronger Relationships Fast
by Alex Charfen
Sooner or later every entrepreneur parents that their ultimate success is dependent upon their ability to build relationships. Unfortunately this is hard for most of us. This was a particular area of weakness for me. I always felt like I was born with a different operating system and I did not understand the people around me. There were very few shortcut I found in understanding other people that really worked. This is one that not only worked, it permanently change my life.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen, and this is The Momentum Podcast made for empire builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future, and instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.
Stronger relationships fast. Whether you've realized it or not yet as an entrepreneur, one of the most important factors in your long-term success in your business, in the outcome you're trying to create, in the contribution you're trying to make in the world is your ability to effectively build and develop and grow relationships.
Now, if you're like me, just the very statement of the ability to build relationships being responsible for your success might make you uncomfortable. You know, when I was ... Was is not the right word. I still am incredibly socially awkward. I have a hard time understanding most people. I'm socially misunderstood often. You know, when I was younger, I had a really hard time being like everyone else, fitting in. I was that kid in class. You know, maybe you can relate to this. Like I'd be sitting in school and a thought would come to my mind or something that I should, like a question for the teacher or something that I was going to say, and I knew I shouldn't. I knew the other kids would make fun of me. I knew that it was something the teacher would be thrown off by. I knew I was going to probably cause some disruption, and I would be sitting there saying, "Don't say it. Don't say it," and then I'd say it, and I could hear myself. It was almost like watching myself do it.
When I was younger, I had a hard time not saying the wrong thing to people, and as things came out of my mouth, I used to think like, "Why am I saying this?" I remember I babysat for this couple. It's interesting. I've actually reconnected with Margie [Deutsch 00:02:43] recently. She actually came to a meetup I did. She was in one of our products, and I babysat for her when I was a kid, and I remember one night her husband was dropping me off at my parent's house, and he was wearing pants that had like embroidered sailboats on them, and I made a comment like, "You could just put those pants on a flagpole and ships would see them," or something like that because they were so loud, and as I was saying it, I was thinking, "This probably isn't the right thing to say." And I really liked the guy. I think his name was Mark, and it was really embarrassing for him, and it was just like this awkward, weird thing that I said, and I think I still babysat for them after that, but I used to do stuff like that all the time.
And today I think it's because I just didn't know what else to do. You know, I don't feel like I was born with the same operating system that everybody else was. When I was a kid, I remember when I was four or five years old in Mexico, we went to a school that I was attending with my younger sister, Michelle. She's two years younger than me, so she would have been two or three, and we were walking around the playground, and a kid came up and touched my sister like for no reason. He didn't have any right to touch my sister. There wasn't any reason for him to be doing it, and I punched him in the face. So, I was the five year old kid known for knocking out a kid at the kindergarten open house before school started.
So, I share this with you just to demonstrate how ridiculously socially awkward I've been and also to share with you like it's been hard for me to create relationships. Even when I got into business, it was still difficult because when it was a business conversation, I was very good at having business conversations, but it would switch over to personal, and I would stumble and stutter, and I didn't know how to talk to people, and I had a hard time understanding what questions to ask and how to just not create an awkward situation for me and for everyone else.
And then when I was in my early 20s, someone gave me a classic book that I had never seen, I had never read. It was called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and the reason I'm doing this podcast about this book is because I think much like one of my other favorite books, Think and Grow Rich, a lot of people own this book, but they haven't read it. They haven't internalized it. They haven't actually applied all of the steps.
You know, there's an incredible story behind this book. I don't want to go into any of the tactics that Carnegie teaches. I don't want to go into any of the steps that you can take through in the book because if you buy this book, if you're willing to download it, listen to it, read it, and go through each chapter and apply each strategy and test it in your life and experiment with it and see if it works, you will step by step show yourself an entirely new way to communicate with other people. You will step by step, show yourself an entirely new way to build relationships fast that are strong where people actually care about you where you care about other people because the way Carnegie shows you how to communicate, he provides a framework that will help you improve almost all of your communications overnight.
About 99% of issues in life are a result of poor communication or miscommunication or a misunderstanding, and this book changes that. Here's what it did for me. It provided a framework around this nebulous thing called communication so that I could start understanding that there was ways to respond and ways to initiate conversations and ways to communicate where if I was willing to apply this system, it actually made me successful most of the time, and as I continued to read the book and continue to obsess over it, that I didn't miss as big as I used to. I wasn't telling anyone to run their pants up a flagpole, you know? It was like I started to get closer to communicating in a way that created progress most of the time, so I made progress most of the time.
And this book was so simple. It made it easier for me because people were incredibly complicated. Like here was the hard part about communication for me. See if you can relate to this. People were complicated for me. Like I didn't understand people very well. Now, I feel like I understand our type of person intimately. Like I can tell people things about themselves that they don't understand, but a lot of it comes from applying the principles in this book. Because they were so simple, I had this simple variable of Carnegie's principles along with confusing people, but together it worked out.
And there's so many reasons why I love this book. So, Carnegie was a public speaking teacher, and one of the most influential people in my life is Rick [Lara 00:08:01], my public speaking coach since I was 13 years old. I'm 45 now. Rick's been the person I call my speaking coach for 32 years. He's coached my team. He's coached my wife. He still coaches me. He's still one of my closest friends in the world, so I love the fact that Dale Carnegie was a public speaking teacher, and the story behind the book is even better.
Carnegie had gained a ton of notoriety for his courses on public speaking and understanding people and creating relationships, and what had happened was a executive at Simon and Schuster sent someone to his course and had it transcribed, and he presented Carnegie with this transcript of his lectures, and Carnegie got excited about it because prior to that he wasn't really interested in publishing. He didn't know why he should. So, as soon as he saw it in transcription, he got excited about the lectures, went and polished them off, cleaned them up, made sure that was what he wanted to say, and then agreed to publish, and I love that because Carnegie, when ... Here's what I know about public speakers, or here's what I believe about speakers. I'm a speaker, and when I'm giving the real stuff, when I'm really giving as much as I possibly can, it's always in front of an audience because the audience's energy supports me in creating the content in the room that day. Like I know there's this massive exchange between speaker and audience, so I love the fact that How to Win Friends and Influence People was written in front of an audience.
Like one of my other favorite books, Zero to One by Peter Thiel. Zero to One was a series of lectures that Thiel did, and he had this student, I think his name's Josh Masters, who sat in the front row, took incredible notes, presented him with a transcript, and then Thiel published another one of my favorite books on entrepreneurship, Zero to One, so I love that that's how this book was created.
So, Carnegie agrees to publish, and here's what the publisher did. The executive at Simon and Schuster took 500 copies of How to Win Friends and Influence People and sent them to people who had been through Carnegie's course and then ordered a book run of 1,200. A first press of 1,200.
The 500 samples got them 5,000 order, and they sold 250,000 copies in the first three months this book was available. That would be incredibly impressive today. That would be a number one New York Times Bestseller for several months if that happened today, and 250,000 copies in the first three months. This book created a communication revolution. It's sold 30 million copies worldwide.
And here's what's so awesome about it. Something I love about this book is that 30 million copies have been sold, and I guarantee the way this book works, it's probably been read more than 30 million times because this is something you hand on. This is something you reread. This is a book that I bought for my kids. This is a book that will live on forever, and it constantly got bad reviews. It was called extremely simple and childish and not worthy of academic reading, and there was very little research or reporting on it, and it just got trashed from one place to another because it was seen as this simple, contrite, way too easy manual.
And 30 million copies have been sold, but I guarantee you it's been read far more than that because this is the type of book that you read and you pass on and you have somebody else read and you reread. I bought it for my kids. I bought it from my wife. I bought it for my teams. I've given it to my clients. It's one of those books that once you read, but not just read, apply and understand the lessons, it indelibly changes your life, and the reviews that it got calling it simple, those fascinate me because what Carnegie did was take one of the most complicated elements of our existence, which is interpersonal human relationships, and he created a manual that shows anyone how you can succeed most of the time, and in reading this book, I went from being one of those people who really had a hard time building relationships to learning how to build relationships, to understand people better, to care about people in a different way, and to understand what they wanted and how to have relationships that were symbiotic, that helped everyone.
It's been one of the most valuable books that I've ever read in my business career. If you want a book on how to sell, if you want a book on how to build relationships, how to get the best partnerships, how to attract the right deals, how to hire the right people, this is the book. It's all in there.
But don't let it fool you because when you pick it up and read the table of contents, you might think to yourself, "This is way too simple," but like so many other things in life that are so simple like breathing. Get a little more oxygen and you'll think clearer, you'll create more momentum. Like hydrating. Doesn't it just make sense if we drank more water, everything in our lives would get better? Or like the principles in this book, so simple that the critics actually said it was too simple.
The fact is, if you take this book, this incredibly complicated subject of interpersonal human relationships is laid bare. It's made easy. It's step by step. It's paint by numbers how to create relationships with the people around you that last forever, and take it from someone who growing up, I didn't really have a lot of friends, and I don't think that's because I didn't want them. I think it's because I didn't understand how to act around other people. I had just huge anxiety even being around other people.
The first real friend that I made in my life was when I was 19. His name's Price [Gibbons 00:14:24]. He's still my closest friend. It's like once I found someone, I was like, "Okay, I'm not going to let go of this guy," but the principles in this book changed everything for me because now I have hundreds of friends and people who I work with it that we've changed each other's lives, and there was a period where for about 10 years I traveled with a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People.
I was zigzagging all over Latin America and the U.S. running my consultancy, and in between meetings and at night, I read this thing over and over again because here's what I knew: The more I read it and the more I applied the principles, it got easier to create relationships. It got easier to understand what was going on for the person around me. It got easier to see other people's perspective, and I think it's exactly because it's so simple. It's the simplicity of this book that will help you create more relationships next year that are stronger and create momentum for you and give you the protection and support you need than I think just about any other book you could pick up and read.
So, I want you to build strong relationships fast, and my sincere recommendation is you go either get the Audible copy or order off Amazon the hard copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People and check it out. I don't have an affiliate link or anything. This is just from me to you. Even if you've read it before, go grab it off the shelf and ask yourself, "Am I really applying all these principles?" Because every time I read this one, I get something new out of it, and every time I read this I get crazy momentum out of it just by applying what I'm reading. It's almost by osmosis, my relationships and the people, the strength of the relationships around me gets better.
I just want to take a second and for those of you who celebrate Christmas, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas, and today I'm out in California with my family. There was actually an edit in this podcast a few minutes back because the fire alarm in my parents house went out off because my dad's cooking dinner out here, and I just want to thank you for listening to The Momentum Podcast this year, tell you Merry Christmas. This is an important time of the year for a lot of us, and I just want to let you know that I appreciate you, and I thank you for going on this journey with me and for listening to this podcast and for helping me work through so much of this content myself.
Most of what I ... Not most. All of what I share is what I apply in my own world in my own life with my own clients, with my own family, and no one can do this and execute it perfectly. Not even me. And this podcast has helped me learn more about myself this year and understand more about my content, and I just want to thank you if you've left a review or you've sent us a message or you've let us know what this podcast has done for you or you've tagged me in a post or any of those things. We crossed 100,000 downloads today, and that is such a massive milestone. We hit 100,000 downloads on Christmas Day that I just want to thank you all and let you know how much I sincerely appreciate you, and thanks for being a listener and a member of The Momentum Podcast audience.