The Disruptors: Biz Guru Bob Burg

The Disruptors is Pursuit’s new monthly feature that showcases thought leaders and CEOs who are changing the way we do business, how we perceive the startup landscape, taking ideas to the next level. It is where innovation meets a created market where none existed before.

BIO: Bob Burg regularly fills auditoriums for his talks, and has shared the stage with thought leaders, Olympic athletes and a former U.S. president. The American Management Association named Burg one of the 30 Most Influential Leaders.

ABOUT: For years Burg was known for his book Endless Referrals, but recently it’s his business parable The Go-Giver (coauthored with John David Mann) that has garnered him much acclaim, and sold more than 800,000 copies.

Since its release, it has stayed in the top 25 on 800ceoread’s Business Book Bestsellers List, been translated into 21 languages, and was rated #10 on Inc. Magazine’s list of the Most Motivational Books Ever Written. Burg and Mann’s newest book in the series is, The Go-Giver Influencer

QUOTABLE: “Most people can tell, over time, who genuinely has their best interests at heart, and who doesn’t.”

NUTSHELL: “Persuasion is always win-win in nature.”


What is the premise of the newest book, Go-Giver Influencer?

Bob Burg: It’s moving from an ‘I’ focus or ‘Me’ focus to an ‘Others’ focus.

By and large, people are going to do things because they want to do them, or believe it is in their best interest to do them, or there is some type of emotional, financial, physical pay off for them to do it. We need to always approach it that way. If we want to influence someone to move to a certain result, we have to focus on them, and tap into what they desire.

When we can take our mind off of ourselves, and place it on bringing value to another human being –– it’s not only a pleasant way of living life and conducting business, it’s also the most financially profitable in the business sense. And it’s the most profitable in all the other ways that profit can be measured: relationships, friendships.

Can you tell me something that might be the worst thing that people do with regard to persuasion and influence?

Bob Burg: The worst thing is trying to manipulate someone into doing their will. Because that’s not what influence and persuasion is about.

Influence can be divided into two subsets, one is persuasion and one is manipulation. When you think about it on a basic level, influence can be defined as the ability to move a person to a desired action.

If you are doing it in terms of persuasion, then you are doing it in a way that benefits all parties, but your focus is on bringing value to the other party, understanding that as they get what they want, you are also getting what you want. Persuasion is always win-win in nature.

Manipulation is the opposite. Manipulation means you are focused only on yourself. While you might not want to hurt someone else, if that is what it takes to get the results you want, you’ll do it. You win and the other person loses – or hopefully they don’t, but you don’t really care if they do or don’t.

What advice do you have for people who want to give a presentation in a boardroom or in front of colleagues?

Bob Burg: Do your homework. Then, find out what you are hoping to accomplish through your topic. Then, you gear your talk toward that.

What benefits can they get from what you are talking about? Then you gear your presentation to answer those questions.

It’s important to be entertaining, but don’t tell jokes. Find humour in a certain story or point. If you are, by nature, not a funny person, and you are not able to learn, don’t try to be something you are not.

How does one choose the right business coach?

Bob Burg: You look at the greatest athletes, they have coaches. You look at the greatest business people, they have coaches.

I think a business coach is important because we can get a point of view from someone who cares about us, but is not emotionally involved with us.

Find someone who has proven they are a great coach. Just because they were a great CEO at one time, doesn’t mean they would be a great coach. We know that some of the best athletes in the world are horrible coaches. Some of the most intelligent people in the world are horrible teachers. Someone being good at something doesn’t qualify them.

It’s that something that Stephen M. R. Covey talks about in the Speed of Trust, a combination of competence and character. You want to be sure they are confident in what they do, and have high character.

I think also it needs to be someone whose values are congruent.

One of your latest podcasts was about networking and building relationships. What is an under-utilized concept people tend to miss in this regard?

Bob Burg: You’ve really got to care about bringing value to their life as part of that relationship.

If you don’t, the effectiveness can only go so far. Most people can tell, over time, who genuinely has their best interests at heart, and who doesn’t.


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