Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop"

Throwing My Loop…    

By:  Michael Johnson   



     As a young man, he threw himself across the bed in his hotel room and wept in despair.  He had no money, no friends, and no hope.  At the young age of twenty-two, his only thoughts were of suicide.  He would later say that’s when the thought came…“There must be others like me!”  So began the career of Dale Carnegie.
     On that day, Carnegie realized there were countless others who were lost and alone with no idea how to do better.  He decided to devote his life to answering the question of how it is we win friends and influence people.  He traveled to the New York City Library and read every single book about psychology, sociology, human behavior, and sales.  He stayed two months.  At the end of that time, he said he knew no more than he did when he came in - but Carnegie persisted.  He kept looking for answers.
     In addition to interviewing countless successful people and learning how they became so, Carnegie taught classes at the New York YMCA on public speaking and developing self-confidence through improving interpersonal skills.  While the interviews certainly gave him information, teaching the subject taught him even more.  Remember that old line about “We teach what we need to learn?”  Never more true than in Carnegie’s case.   Carnegie stumbled onto deep and powerful truths in our dealings with others.  He wrote them in his signature work, How To Win Friends and Influence People.  If you haven’t read it, go buy it.  Even though written in 1936, like all great literature, it’s timeless.  Might change your life…it is one of the books that certainly changed mine.  Here are his recommendations to win friends…

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a man’s name is to him the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener.  Encourage other people to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.

     Sound simplistic?  For most my early years, I would have certainly thought so.  But now I see the difference between people who do the things on that list and those who do not.  There is a world of difference.  Most times you can recognize the ones who do ‘cause they drive a really nice car and are doing well in life.  They are happier, make more money, and experience higher life satisfaction.  After all, how many people do you really like who do the opposite…

1.      Only interest is in themselves.
      Frown all the time.
      Always forget your name and everyone else’s.
      Talk constantly.
      Only talk about what they are interested in.
      Make you feel inferior.

     Does all that sound like somebody you really want to sit around the fire with? 
     What’s all that got to do with you and me?  Here’s the kicker…we all have to live in the world and we all have to make a living.  We’re all selling something.  From the rope horse trainer to the classroom teacher, we are all selling something.  If you do those things on Carnegie’s list, people want to deal with you.  That’s it.  Carnegie put words on paper that show us what people are hungry for…communion, connection, genuineness, and sincerity.
     Some criticized Carnegie saying he just discovered a way to con people out of their money.  I disagree.  I think he discovered a way to win friends and influence people to learn how to do what he was talking about.  That’s what we all want.  To do better.  Here’s an example of how not to…
     I wanted a new cowboy hat.  When I arrived at the chain western store (who had 1,000 hats) the manager was studying the computer.  After sitting there a full two minutes, he raises his eyebrows, without looking at me, says, “Help you?”
     “I want to buy a hat.”
     “What kind of hat?”  Didn’t ask me my name, didn’t get up and shake my hand, didn’t tell me his name, and still hasn’t looked at me.
     “I brought two pictures of hats I like.  My budget is $300 to $500, and I want to see if you can make this quarter-horse crease for me?”
     “Nope,” he said, without looking at the pictures.
     “You can’t?”
     “Nope, we don’t have hats with a quarter-horse crease.”
     “Can’t you do one from a hat that hasn’t been creased?”
     “Nope,” and he goes back to his computer.
     Hold that thought - then consider this example of how to…
          I called Standard Hat Works in Waco, Texas.  Lenny answers his own phone.
     “Hello, this is Lenny and I can help you.”
     “Hi, Lenny, I’m Michael and I want to buy a hat with a quarter-horse crease.”
     “Nice to meet you on the phone, Michael, and you have come to the right place.  I can fix you a hat.”  Then he says this…
     “This is Friday and I’m swamped.  I’m usually off on Sunday and Monday, but I appreciate you calling and if you and your wife want to drive to Waco, I’ll come in on either Sunday or Monday and we will get you the hat you want – whatever’s best for you.”
     Does it come as a big shock to you that Standard Hat Works in Waco, Texas sells thousands of hats?  I gave Lenny my money ‘cause he does those things on Carnegie’s list.  Lenny’s hat store does really well, and I’ll bet you anything Mr. Computer Cowboy over at the chain western store is seriously complaining about how bad the economy is these days.
     Next time somebody tells you it’s the Japanese, Chinese, or Koreans destroying the economy, remember… it’s not them.  It’s us.

          Michael Johnson


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