Reciprocity

The darkside of reciprocity

When I first got into the networking game and tried to define what I was doing and why--I was drawn to the research on reciprocity. That reciprocity and mutual obligation are the most powerful sources of influence in the world. I was very influenced by Robert Cialdini's body of work, his lectures and my conversations with him.

The idea that networking and later mentoring revolved around creating mutual obligation. In fact I used to tell a long and very popular story about how we do favors for others--favors we don't want to do, but we don't know how to say "no".  When you are thanked for a favor you did not want to do, I counseled people to say, "I know you would do the same for me." And like you did the favor against your better instincts, the person who received your generosity will unwittingly say how they "owe" you. This gimmick "proved" our inner desire to help one another. That's what I thought and that's what I taught.

Expectations are the ruination of the individual.  Tomi D. Kobara

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What I have learned since is that auto-reciprocity syndrome (I made this up), the robotic, sub-conscious process of responding to one another and owing one another is not a reflection of our true selves. 

The idea of expecting a return for our generosity is the darkside of reciprocity. That giving that is conditional, is really not giving. Once you plant the seed of obligation, the main growth comes through your selfishness. 

This conclusion generates all sorts of questions:

  • Giving for the tax deduction?
  • Giving for recognition?
  • Giving for personal gain?
  • Giving to create obligation?

Not saying that these forms of gifts are not good or needed. I think we would all admit that unconditional giving is different. Is any giving unconditional?

Yes! I have seen it. People who give freely and quickly. You have witnessed it too. Now do these people give to feel good and to feel good about themselves--isn't that a selfish need?

I am not counting this as reciprocity.

I love Steven Levine's distinctions about three types of giving. 

  • Beggarly Giving:  When we give with only one hand, still holding onto what we give.  In this kind of giving we give the least of what we have and afterward wonder whether we should have given at all.
  • Friendly Giving:  When we give openhandedly.  We take what we have and share it, because it seems appropriate.  It's a clear giving.
  • Kingly Giving: That's when we give the best of what we have, even if none remains for ourself.  We give the best we have instinctively with graciousness.  We think of ourselves only as temporary caretakers of whatever has been provided, as owning nothing.  

Are you a beggarly, friendly or kingly networker?

I mentally and intellectually made this shift from reciprocity in my giving awhile ago. I truly try to give unconditionally especially in my networking and mentoring. I have found it is so much less complicated when you don't keep score. Give first, give often, give without expectation. That is my goal.

Like everything in life the more often you do it the easier it becomes. 

Some people say give first and then get. I am going much further here. Just Give. Give because it reflects who we are and what we want to be. Give because it makes us feel good. Give anonymously. Give because we care. 

So in networking and mentoring, you give time, connections, and knowledge unconditionally. Generosity

I know I am not the only one who is thinking this way. I know that each of you is giving a lot of yourselves. And I truly appreciate how generous you are with your time and your resources. I am writing this as a confession about what I have learned about networking and mentoring over these decades. I am writing to remind me and anyone else that the greatest ROI is to the preservation of your authentic self. Becoming a "kingly" giver and networker is our goal.

People who view life as a zero sum game, they believe that every gift must be replaced. That every commitment generates a commitment. This is pure reciprocity.

Generosity is unlimited. You always have something to give. You have more to give.

I have had the great pleasure to hear Muhammad Yunus speak and he reminds me of this goal. He speaks in absolutes and I think purely about what we need to do as fellow human beings. His mission in life is "When poverty is in the museum". I love the vision of visiting a museum in the future with a comprehensive display on poverty! But he also talks about social business. Business that has no profit and gives its returns to the community and the customers. He was asked why a business that limits its profits would not qualify as a social business. He said, "When you get 1% in profits, it is human nature to try and make it 2%. Not having profits you focus 100% on the business of helping people." 

Likewise, when you think about what you get first or what you are owed, you put yourself before the gift. It compromises your generosity, your networking and your mentoring. 

How can we all give more freely because we are merely temporary custodians of possessions, connections and knowledge?

Life is not about trades and transactions. Not about IOUs. I have traded reciprocity for generosity.

Life is about being the best you can be and helping others be the same.

Thanks for reading. John

 


Philanthropy for the 99%

We make ourselves so crazy during the holidays that we forget important things. We get easily caught up in the giving season and forget to give of ourselves--we  forget why we give. Don't get me started on the commercialization of this time of year and how we have been trained to buy our way into and out of the holidays. We all know in our hearts that material things can never repair or advance our relationships. We know that a single time of year of superficial contact will not sustain our network. Yet we fall into this trap, into this mental deception, on a pavlovian annual basis.

Presents will never replace our presence.

Let's be more philanthropic. 

This fancy P word can seem foreign and inappropriate for us who occupy the lower 99%. But let me assert that if you understand its true meaning we all need to adopt it as part of our lifestyle and habits all year long. 

φιλάνθρωπος philanthropos, combined two words: φίλος philos, "loving" in the sense of benefitting, caring for, nourishing; and ἄνθρωπος anthropos, "human being" in the sense of "humanity", or "human-ness". 

When we care about each other, about our fellow human beings--when we love each other--this is philanthropy. 

Giving is not a chore it is a habit. It is not a list of things to buy. It is your readiness and willingness to help others unconditionally. 

It is not a task to unburden our guilt. It is the joy of loving another. Of responding to needs with openness and kindness. 

Here are four quick tips to become more philanthropic:

1.Write a note: One of my greatest peeves is the un-signed holiday card. The mass mailed card that contains nothing human--not even the label is hand written! Yes the photo cards are nicer than a card with a pre-printed name, but wow have we lost our humanity. Writing a note that is personal and thoughtful is a beautiful thing and a lost art.

The thought does count, but you have to act on your thoughts.

2. Give the gift of time: Where you spend your attention and time defines what is important to you. Make a commitment to spend more time with those you care about and love. Don't just say it to yourself, but make a commitment to them. You need this as much as those you care about. Don't regret time lost with others. It will be you who loses. 

3. Give to your passions: Align your financial and volunteer giving with your passions--with the issues that are most important to you. Don't get stuck with giving because you "always" give to them. Or because someone else asked you to. Make your giving reflect who you are and who you care about. You will give more and get more. Your giving will have meaning to you and others.

4. Give more: As a nation we give about 4% of our income to charity. Actually, the middle class is the most generous and gives almost twice the percentage of their incomes as the super rich. However, we all need to give a little more.  We can afford it. There is a growing population at the bottom of our economy that is really hurting and suffering. Pick an issue or cause that resonates with you and give! You can make a difference with any amount of money. Give what you can.

These are the most important investments into your network. Networking your passions and care for others multiplies your impact and your opportunity to make a difference.

Jk and yunusA few weeks ago I had the great honor of meeting Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Laureate, the creator of micro-lending and the founder of the incredibly successful Grameen Bank. He was asked what corporations could do to be more philanthropic--how could their corporate social responsibility be more successful? He said, "If every corporation adopted 50 or 500 families in poverty and helped them, we would end poverty. We need to help each other."

We can easily get caught up in complex campaigns, strategies, and efforts that yield little change. Helping each other, helping people in need--will always make a difference.

Who do we know that needs our help? Who needs our help that we need to know?

We change the world one person at a time. We do.

You have so much more to share and to give to others.

Let's be more philanthropic, in the true sense of the word-- during the holidays and through the next year and the next.

Thank you for all you do for others and what you will do in the future!

Thanks for reading. John 

PS: Interviewed for LA Magazine's website on trends in philanthropy in Los Angeles


Bundles of Potentiality

Readers of my blog have a greater and larger understanding of networking. Not a set of techniques used to advance personal agendas or selfish goals. Such networking is short term, short lived, and short on changing lives and the world around us.

Networking is a process of connecting people, their ideas, their dreams, and their synergistic power. Networking is a set of relationships that forms a web of love and support for the people in and around it. It is a way of life or a lifestyle. Research shows us this is not just a collection of good ideas for self improvement, this is about how the world works It is about our human potential and releasing that potential for the common good.

According to Margaret Wheatley:
The scientific search for the basic building blocks of life has revealed a startling fact: there are none.  The deeper that physicists peer into the nature of reality, the only thing they find is relationships.  Even sub-atomic particles do not exist alone. One physicist described neutrons, electrons, etc. as “. . .a set of relationships that reach outward to other things.”  Although physicists still name them as separate, these particles aren’t ever visible until they’re in relationship with other particles.  Everything in the Universe is composed of these “bundles of potentiality” that only manifest their potential in relationship.

We live in a culture that does not acknowledge this scientific fact.  We believe wholeheartedly in the individual and build organizations based on this erroneous idea.  We create org charts of separate boxes, with lines connecting the boxes that indicate reporting relationships and alleged channels of communication.  But our neatly drawn organizations are as fictitious as building blocks are to physicists.  The only form of organization used on this planet is the network—webs of interconnected, interdependent relationships.  This is true for human organizations as well.  Whatever boxes we stuff staff into, people always reach out to those who will give them information, be their allies, offer support or cheer them up.  Those lines and boxes are imaginary.  The real organization is always a dense network of relationships. Unfathomable_potential_goal_cards_business_card-p240184404307414631z74gr_400
 
We are just "bundles of potentiality" that only manifest their potential in relationship.

In many ways we are like acorns with hundreds, perhaps thousands of oak trees within us. Seeds of potential that will sprout, grow and endure only under the right circumstances----relationships. Most of us never know our true bundle of potentiality. We get caught up in our lives and we reap what we sow. We are afraid of our potentiality. And most potential is lost.

It is the many relationships and experiences in our networks that cause friction with our potentiality and sometimes sparks fly. Sparks of inspiration, understanding and meaning. When we connect to help, to learn, to support, and to explore our goodness and the goodness of others, we encounter our potentialities. We start to understand how interconnected we are. How intertwined our potentiality is. How much our destinies are tied together.
Funny thing is we can see the potentiality in others. It is often plain to us what others could or should do. Others see us that way too. What would happen if we helped one another to reach that potential? To work together to find our common interests and seek the common good. 
We waste so much time on our differences.
  
As the physicist notes above, we need to reach outward and become visible, our potentiality becomes visible only through relationships.
 
If we don't connect and work together we will perish. We will not create, procreate or generate new solutions and ideas.
 
A network is a web of mutual obligations, of love, and caring of human expression. Nothing that lives and thrives is alone or not networked. To network is to be human. That's why we network. To pursue our common bundles of potentiality and make them visible.
Thanks for reading.  John
 

Do yourself a favor, say YES!

As we approach another week of turkey and thankfulness, we pause to reflect on the time, challenges and blessings we all have had. It is a wonderful time to be with family and appreciate what we have.

 

How do we directly convey our appreciation to those who deserve it? People in our present, people from our past? People who help us routinely and people who set you on the right path? But is saying "thanks" enough? Well, it is a very important start.

 

If you are truly grateful, repay them with an offer of unconditional support. How can I help YOU? Make an unsolicited offer to do them a favor. I do believe that reciprocity is the most powerful form of exchange. Ask people how you can help them. I am not talking about a well maintained ledger of give and get. I am suggesting that you need to repay what you have received with an act of generosity. Make sense?Yes

 

Here's the lesson: People said "Yes" to you. They agreed to help you, guide you, and get you what you needed. Without their willingness to say YES, you would not be where you are.

 

For many years one of my many new year's resolutions was to " to say "NO" more often, to decline "opportunities" and favors, so I could focus on "priorities". It was one of my early career efforts to be more focused on time management. I naively thought I could and should control what happened to me. That the word "NO" would protect me from bad things that would undermine my grand plan and my mission. Once I learned that the only thing I controlled was my ignorance, I was free. So I abandoned it as a goal when I realized, what a negative thought it is. Saying YES is good. Being open and positive is so much more important to me than the alternative.

 

It is a a universal truth that you attract to your life what you give time, attention and focus--positive and negative. Say YES to the positive!

 

The word YES has helped me experience the flow of life that comes my way. It opened my eyes, my heart and my mind to new ideas, people, careers, and opportunities. Most important, it helped me become stronger and better as a person!

 

In writing this, a friend shared this link with me. Sasha Dichter of Acumen Fund conducted an experiment of just saying YES for 30 days--the generosity experiment.

 

Warning: for you literalists, I am not talking about hedonism, your unhealthful habits or illegal activity. :) Talking about helping each other.

 

If you talk to my assistants over the years, certainly my wife, they will concur that my inclination to say YES and agree to things can seem random and overwhelming.

 

I sometimes get used and abused--that is a risk. Some say I am a sucker, others generous. I never regret it.

 

Saying YES, and agreeing to do people favors is the currency of karmic capitalists. You learn that the more you say YES the more you get. What goes around comes around and usually it is a quick trip! Not driven by material gains or things, but experiences, new people, perspective, self awareness, getting out of your comfort zone and most important feeling good about who you are! Doing good begets good.

  

Saying YES becomes a frame of mind. And we all know that to change the game we have to change the frame!

 

So easy to say NO! 

 

One of the first words our kids learn after "Dada", is "NO". Why? because we say it so often. 

 

The YES philosophy has many consequences. It takes some time and effort to fulfill and deliver on your favors you say YES to. But the upside and return to you is 10x the "cost". Say YES to:

  • Meeting with people to discuss ideas
  • References
  • Job searches
  • Informational interviews
  • Resume reviews

Try to avoid the delusion that saying NO is more disciplined and focused as I once did. Try saying YES often if not all of the time. And your heart, your mind, and your soul will gain energy, rhythm, understanding and satisfaction.  

 

Express your gratitude by doing others favors. Do yourself a favor, say YES!

 

Thanks for reading. John


Mentor, teacher, coach--What do I need?

This is an important question. There are times when you need teachers and coaches, but, In my opinion, you ALWAYS need a mentor or three. Mentors provide guidance and reality checks as you and your career/life develop. A mentor provides ongoing or momentary feedback that helps you focus on what is important to you and to your future success. The big difference is you don't go shopping for a mentor like you might for a coach or a teacher.

I teach, I coach and I also mentor. I am recruited to serve in the first two roles.  When I teach I bring a curriculum, an agenda, a set of questions and goals. When I coach I bring questions and I listen, but I drive the content and the subject matter. When I mentor, I listen, but for the most part I let the mentee drive. Mentoring can easily start in the teaching and/or coach environments. But lectures and transmitting knowledge and experience is a small part of the true mentoring relationship. Mentoring depends heavily on the growing set of questions and self awareness of both mentor and mentee. Awareness of the needs and possibilities of both. Some people never get this--that mentoring is a two-way street and consequently they rarely experience mentoring. They may be inspired or their view of themselves may be shifted by a conversation or an insight shared. But mentoring is a persistent process that is defined by the conversation built on trust and truth.Dialogue

Steve Blank, the well known entrepreneur, recently opined about this phenomenon--people's confusion about these roles and specifically how one acquires a mentor. He mentions how he has received requests to be a mentor while he is on the stage lecturing. Awkward! In this consumer society we think we can just pick a mentor, even ask a total stranger to be a mentor. Mentoring relationships usually emerge from relationships of trust. A chemistry is developed between the two parties over some period of time, it can be rather quick or lengthy, then a deeper sharing of thoughts, ideas, philosophies and advice generates the mentoring. Mentoring is not a commodity. You don't seek it, shop it, and then buy it.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.  Buddha

As Steve says, "mentoring is a dialogue", it is a higher order exchange, a frank conversation to help each other. Teaching tends to be a one-way flow of ideas. I know that all of these methods are not silos and that they blur into one another, that the lines that define them are at best fuzzy. But mentoring is different.

In fact, the Steve Blank posting was tweeted and shared by a former mentee of mine, who has in turn become my mentor. And the roles have continued to shift and change depending on the subject and the circumstance. This has been a process that has been repeated many times for me--Where the roles over time always reverse and vary. In a mentoring relationship we serve as reality checks, sources of ideas, and instant mentoring partners. When we need each other we are available for one another. Mentoring is a great dialogue, a give and take, a relationship of mutual benefit and trust.

The real question is are you mentorable? Are you ready to be mentored? Really? Are you prepared to be mentored ? A person who has not given any thought to their goals, has not done any soul searching, does not know their strengths, is not passionately curious about their future, is not a good candidate for mentoring. Some people I encounter, young and more mature, hope that the mentor they find will unlock the secret recipe of success and shine a bright and glorious light on their new path to fulfillment and success. I kid you not! They are starving for great wisdom, connections, and insights to be served up on a silver platter from the Iron Chef kitchen of the mentor. They expect to sit back and be served and consume the contents of the dishes and magically life will be delicious. Yikes! Waiter

Finding your mentor(s) is a process of meeting people, people you respect, admire, work with, volunteer with, and encounter in your pursuit of your life's work. People that are part of your journey of curiosity and discovery. If you are focused on becoming the best you can be, you will find a mentor and be mentored. Your quest for answers will push you towards people you know and new people you will meet. And some of those relationships will become mentoring dialogues that last months, years, and even a lifetime.

There has been great evidence that mentoring relationships with at-youth risk that last less than 1 year and even 2 years can damage the youth. Why? Because the process of developing trust and mutual understanding takes time, regardless of the great willingness of the participants, time, persistence, the process of showing up and caring, to strengthen a relationship to be able to have the meaningful dialogue. Until that relationship becomes a trusting one, little mentoring benefit occurs. Every mentoring relationship I have had has made me a better person, manager, parent, and leader. And every survey of mentors that I have read, every attempt to understand the benefits of mentoring show that the MENTOR gains more than the mentee. The target of the at-risk youth mentoring or corporate mentoring, always gets less than the mentor. This may sound counter-intuitive, but you would know if you mentored others. That's why I have been advocating adopting a lifestyle of mentoring, because the benefits are so overwhelmingly positive to the mentor and do a lot of good for the mentee. This is proof that the dialogue and the reciprocity are essential to mentoring.

Understand your greatness, pursue your passions, and become the best you can be and you will find mentoring. Seek great teachers, great coaches to hone your skills, your craft, and your questions, mentoring will find you.

Thanks for reading. John


Please Pass the Plate of Thank Yous and be Grateful for the Plateful

This week many of our families come together to celebrate family and to over-eat. :) We pause for a brief moment to be grateful for what is and what will be. Bowl_of_Gratitude  

Regardless of where you are in your life and what is happening to you, you have much for which to be grateful. I know some are going through pain and suffering and I never want to make light of these real tragedies and challenges. But if you are reading this, you have been given so many opportunities and chances to succeed. Not all of them have gone your way. But you are alive to fight another day. People have helped you, supported you, and loved you for all of your wonders and warts.

The research on gratitude and thankfulness is so intuitive and compelling. People who express their gratitude to themselves and others are so much better off.

One of the most powerful and gratifying networking processes is to reach out and thank people from your past and your present. Connect with people you see everyday and others you have lost touch with to express your gratitude for their assistance in shaping your life. The key to do this is not mixing a thank you message with any requests or personal needs. Never thank to get. Nothing more fulfilling and personally beneficial of imparting a pure and sincere expression of thanks.

Think about your blessings this year, even amongst your hardships. Things that you feel fortunate to have and to have experienced. Write down three of them.

Here's the advice I gave a couple of years ago that can drive your gratitude networking:

  1. Think of people who continue to be there for you and have provided you with support, moral and financial. People whose friendship, love and care make a difference in your life. Write down their names. Tell these people what they mean to you. 
  2. Think of people in your life whose lessons and teachings continue to make a difference in your life today. People who mentored you. These may be folks you have not contacted for years, but every so often you think about them . Write down three of their names.  Reach out to them, make a call, e-mail them and express your gratitude.
  3. Think about the things you have accomplished so far this year. Things you know made a difference in your life and in the life of others. Things that may not have been recognized or earned you distinction, but in your heart these things mattered. Write down three.  Remember what you do is important and valuable. Read them and appreciate your gifts. Gratitude for who you are and what you have done keeps you balanced with the other side of you ledger.

Connect and re-connect with people you care about and pass a plate of thank yous down the line. Gratitude is one of those gifts that nourishes us all. 

Regardless of your circumstances, you have much for which to be thankful. We take so much for granted and often we let our appetite for more numb our taste buds for the present.

So enjoy your time with family, indulge in the holidays, and strengthen your network past and present with a heaping serving of thank yous.

Thanks for reading. John


The Art of the Intro---Do you have a Hype Man?

If you believe that your success is tied to others, then you have to connect. Connect with people that help advance your thoughts and ideas. Connect with people who show you the paths to greater fulfillment. Connect with people who give you validation and an important sense of community and belonging. You have to understand that doing it alone is impossible. That isolation and insulation are your enemies. Once you accept this, then you have to engage others in your quest to become the best you can be. The best way to meet people is to be introduced to them.  Properly-introduce-yourself-572x297

As I have said many times, networking is a contact sport but it is also a team sport. In that vein, working with a partner or a team makes it so much easier to meet people. Meeting people at a social gathering, corporate reception, or other general networking opportunity is so much more fun and productive, if you are being introduced to others. No one is truly comfortable with the solitary process of "cold calling" and walking up to people we do not know and introducing ourself. The process of having someone else pave the way by making the connection is always more elegant and effective. If you want to meet new people or a specific person, form a pact with a person or people you know going to the event, to introduce one another to people they meet/know to each other.  This can turn these often anxiety ridden moments into a pleasure.

After I gave a presentation on networking and the power of the introduction recently, a young, very hip African American man approached me. He thanked me for the idea of "being introduced" to others. He was very excited and animated and told me that it was like having a "hype man". "You know, a hype man, the guy who promotes the rapper", he said (he crouched down starts shaking his dreadlocked head and pointing at an imaginary rapper and rapping) "He's the greatest rapper!" Yes, we all need a team of hype men or women. Advocates to give us third party endorsements. Someone else to talk about us, instead of ourselves. My best friend Willie used to call me his "Press Asian" when we were students. :) I was trying to help him get more visibility on campus. I was unwittingly a very early version of a hype man! We need others to refer us, promotes us, and introduce us to "audiences" and opportunities.

The old maxim holds true, " Could not have said it better myself."

But the art of the introduction goes beyond the sometimes superficial event scene and can be more targeted than general hype and promotion of your brand. You also need people on your hype team who know you well to partake in a much more strategic form of introduction. An introduction to others who you don't know that the team thinks you should meet. Others you have identified and want to meet. In either case, a warm introduction that gives you more credibility and enhances your value can make all the difference. 

The answers to these questions will help determine your strategy to meet people through introduction to advance your network and your career. 

  1. What are your goals, your priorities, your needs? What are you looking for? In other words, you have some direction that guides your networking. Otherwise, you foolishly think opportunity will come up and throw you a surprise party. 
  2. Who do you want to meet? Who do you want to talk to? Have you identified specific individuals, experts, executives, potential mentors/sponsors that you want to meet? There should always be people that you have respect, have a valuable perspective, or could help you-- people you would like to talk to.
  3. Which organizations, companies, non-profits do you admire? At some point you want to know these entities better, understand them, and perhaps be affiliated with them? Like individuals, you should be tracking organizations that you think are leaders, innovative or just plain intriguing. 

With these goals and targets in mind, you need to unleash your hype team. Talk to your inner network and pick their brains on who knows the people and organizations on your list. Start recruiting your hype team members. Make sure they are up to date on your resume and your skills, knowledge, and abilities. And then push them to find connections and introduce you.

These referrals are not a list of names and contact info given to you---that is bad form. There must be a warm hand-off, which requires a personal and professional introduction. In some cases you may want to draft an intro, just as you would do for a letter of reference. What do you want the intro to say and sound like? Why leave it to chance?

Of course, this only works because you are the hype man for your network too. You have to be willing to refer and introduce your network to others. 

Lastly, if you are ever going to be introduced as a speaker, or recognized at an event, make sure you provide some guidance. Often, people will ask you to draft the public intro. Don't just give your resume and cross your fingers--provide the intro and shape your brand!

Use the team concept of networking to meet people and uncover opportunities through introductions. Get a hype team and join a hype team or three. Make every introduction count. You will see that networking can be more enjoyable and successful when you work together. 

Thanks for reading. John


Network with the spirit of Aloha

I have been going to Hawaii since I was a kid, worked on the islands a few summers, met my wife Sarah on Oahu, my parents and sister Katie live in Lanikai....Probably visited Hawaii 50 times so I feel like a local, although the real locals know I am not! Anyway, there are many reasons I love the islands outside of the fragrant breezes, beautiful views, lush flora, white sand beaches, and the delicious food. There is a feeling here that is different from any other state or state of mind. There is a culture of mutual respect and friendliness that is unequaled. Established in 1959, it is a youthful state that has an energy and culture that is fresh and tranquil. Clearly the surroundings matter. In other words, when beauty abounds, your own beauty and uniqueness shine. Aloha

From the urban go-go-go world I live in, (I know NY or Hong Kong are much faster and intense!) you have to decompress when you get to Hawaii. The mighty spirit of Hawaii always overcomes my impatience and anxiety. It is a certain reliever of my mental pain and suffering.

Think about a state government that has included the following passages in their legislative code to remind government officials and its residents of the spirit of Aloha.

"Aloha Spirit".  "Aloha Spirit" is the coordination of mind and heart within each person.  It brings each person to the self.  Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.  "Aloha" is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.  "Aloha" means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.  "Aloha" is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.  "Aloha" means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable."  (Underlining and italics added)

These last three sentences are powerful words of advice, especially in the context of networking and mentoring. The idea and the practice of giving without obligation is so meaningful. How much we need each other to exist, evolve, and succeed. To dismiss anyone is to dismiss ourselves. Human existence and communication is made up of the verbal and the non-verbal. The said and the unsaid. The known and unknown. When we seek to understand, we ask questions, we listen to one another, and we observe carefully. What was once unknowable is shown to us.

In Hawaii, everyone hugs. Everyone brings food. Everyone defers to others. As an LA driver, I notice things when I drive. People motion for me to turn in front of them or give me their parking space. Unheard of courtesies on the streets of the angels. The universal law of attracting to your life whatever you give time, attention and focus to--positive or negative is part of Aloha. You see these values exhibited everywhere and everyday.

You can't help but be a better person when those around you are generous and forgiving. And when you are generous and forgiving, the people around you benefit too.

So a few thoughts and recommendations:

  1. Give first without expectation.
  2. Treat everyone as you want to be treated.
  3. Surround yourself with an uplifting network of people and inspiration.
  4. See and be the positive and you will attract same.
  5. Visit Hawaii or a place like it!

Network with Aloha and you will have peace and prosperity.

Thanks for reading. John


Network with your Boss: Manage, influence and challenge up!

There are so many misconceptions and myths about networking and mentoring. One of the most ignored and neglected networking opportunities is with your boss. Many people mistakenly think that relationship development is aimed at only new, external prospects, and higher ups outside of your work environment. Those of you who have followed my principles and posts know that the key to effective networking is to focus on your existing network. People that you know and are comfortable with are the keys to your success. And your boss is one of them. Bob Beaudine in his book The Power of Who calls this "The Who". The people in your inner circle. We tend to neglect people we know, or think we know. And one of the most neglected and overlooked targets of networking is your immediate supervisor. I can hear you loud and clear! "That relationship is not going to yield the sort of benefits I need!" "I need new inspiration and new ideas." Perhaps. Perhaps not. Nevertheless, your current boss can determine your fate, your greater influence as an employee and undoubtedly your future path. And if you have invested a great deal of time and energy in understanding your boss and his or her perspective, background and connections, then you are the exception. My experience tells me you just haven't. By the way, this applies double if you do NOT have a great relationship with your manager!  Managing up

Somehow you got this boss. You had something to do with it when you got hired or promoted or transferred. You picked this employer and supposedly evaluated the organization's capacity to nurture your special and unique gifts. You must have conducted some due diligence on your hiring manager, right? It is well understood that the professional development culture, your specific boss' desire and capacity to grow talent AND your chemistry with this person is worth 20%+ of your comp. But hopefully you already knew that. If not, make a pledge to do it in your next transition, especially if you are making a career shift. Really young green inexperienced people do not assess the quality of their supervisor and get distracted by the reputation of the employer (I want to work for Disney for example) or the initial salary and often a not so helpful boss. Your ticket to a sustainable and growth filled career trajectory are placed in the hands of your immediate supervisor and his/her boss.

Marshall Goldsmith in his book Mojo recounts many stories and case studies about these challenges. Here is an excerpt from the book where Goldsmith gives his advice:

Every decision in the world is made by the person who has the power to make that decision--not the "right" person, or the "smartest" person, or the "most qualified" person, and in most cases this is not you. If you influence this decision maker, you can make a positive difference. If you do not influence this person you will certainly not make a positive difference. Make peace with this. You will have a better life, help your organization in positive ways and be happier.

Goldsmith is referring to your supervisor! And the power and choice you have to influence your boss and manage up!

We have all  dealt with difficult and important "customers". Quirks, attitudes, and personalities that we had to endure to get the job done. Just holding our nose, doing the minimum, or avoiding contact would be career suicide. You had to use your full complement of powers and talents to make it work with grace and with professionalism. And many times you would actually enjoy it, the process of the relationship. Yes, there are the jerks that we have encountered. But most people, once you get to know them are decent well-intentioned, and often very interesting. Your boss is your most important "customer". He/she needs TLC but also expects great work and service.

Don't respond like a sitcom husband whose brow beaten wife wants his attention, "I am here everyday ain't I, I do what you ask---that's how I express my love."

The point here is turning your impressive research, charm, attention and relationship development skills on your boss. Not to suck up and kiss butt. But to manage up, influence up and challenge up. How do you develop a more trusting relationship with your boss? How do you generate a more conducive environment to have conversations about your future, the future of the department and of the entire organization? How can you help your boss succeed and add real value to the department and the organization's goals?

Some boss basics:

  1. Do some basic beyond the bio research on your boss? Do you know his/her interests, family, charities, and ambitions?
  2. 360 degree network with other colleagues---How are others relating? What works for them?
  3. Make additional to time to meet to share thoughts and compare notes outside of your regular meeting as often as you can.
  4. Get to know your boss' asst. How else will you know when he/she is in a good mood or how to get on the calendar?

Here are some tips on managing up:

First of all bosses need and want to be managed. It may come from on high, from their assistant and or from their subordinates (that's you!). They need help to do everything that's expected of them, which takes your insane job duties to another level of craziness. In this light here are a few recommendations that have worked on me:

  1. Meet and exceed your job duties: This gives you the opportunity to be influential. A slacker with great ideas is still a slacker.
  2. Prepare solutions to problems: Always have an way to solve a problem, otherwise you join the whiner's chorus line.
  3. Submit new ideas: New ideas are great, but writing them down shows you are serious and your written ideas will be treated as such.
  4. Give honest feedback: Be a source of accurate feedback on presentations, speeches, e-mail announcements from your boss. Few employees provide advice and counsel on how to improve these leadership initiatives and therefore things don't evolve.
  5. Don't gossip or feed the rumormill: Be smart about what you say about your boss, your employer, and your colleagues.
  6. Step up and jump in: Be among the first to volunteer for new opportunities.
  7. Make your boss' world simpler and easier: Advise on systems, processes, and methods to make his/her work life more efficient. Young tech savvy employees have an advantage here!

Do some or all of these things and your influence will rise and your ability to effect change in your workplace and in your career will also increase. Managing up gives you much more to say about your achievements in your job. Building more trust in your relationships, especially with your boss can be very rewarding.

Thanks for reading. John


Don't refer unqualified candidates. Don't pass the trash!

The power and influence of networking trades on your reputation--your brand. If you do not manage your brand by making sure that nothing undermines it, then you are a very poor personal brand manager.

If you have any semblance of a network, then you are being asked to help friends and relatives with their job searches or even more likely, for their friends or relatives. Always respond to assist and be helpful as I  have advised repeatedly here. The benefits you derive often exceed any you dispense.

However the decision to refer or hand-off your friend, relative or others is one that you have to examine carefully and thoroughly. Just as you stand to benefit from the experience you also can also damage your brand.

Referring job candidates that you know are not qualified, prepared, or even good is simply stupid for all concerned.

In Waiting for Superman, the award winning documentary on the state of education in America, it characterizes the process of exporting or exchanging horrible teachers between districts as either "passing the trash" or conducting "the dance of the lemons". Principals and Superintendents who can not fire really bad teachers because of tenure, opt to shipping these teachers to other districts in exchange for their bad teachers. It is an obscene process that reflects how little the kids/students matter. Pasing the trash

When anyone refers, forwards via e-mail, a candidate they do not know, or worse, a candidate they know is weak--they are passing the trash. Imagine what this does to a brand, especially if they are a repeat offender at referring bad candidates.

I get dozens of referrals a month for specific jobs. And there is a dramatic increase in this transactional, thoughtless, process of referring candidates bereft of quality. Sometimes it is plain embarrassing. But always a waste of time. I have to decline the candidate AND explain to the referrer that the person is not even close to the specs.

People just want to get the task of helping people off their plate and on to someone elses. This is a cardinal sin of networking and mentoring.

Why mentoring you ask? Because the referrer needs to take the time and effort to help the candidate reflect on their goals, on their resume, on their process. This is where mentoring can be the most valuable. Stopping someone from a poorly defined job search and adding value to their journey is the purpose of mentoring. These moments of mentoring can be super powerful. No one is served if you just robotically agree to "forward" their resume. And you become known as a trash passer!

Passing the trash is a new form of spam. Puts me in the position to be the bad guy. because not only do I swiftly decline these candidates, I tell them and/or their referrers why. In a number of cases I de-brief the candidate on their missing qualifications, typos on their resume, career goals and the lack of fit. But somebody has to push back and stop the stream of trash. I feel sorry for the candidates because they are pretty much riding the process out. However, they get damaged in this process too. They are seen as not having their act together and when ruled unqualified, that hurts them psychicly and in the marketplace.

Stop before you refer someone. And don't refer anyone you think has dodgy or sketchy qualifications. No one wins and almost everyone loses, especially you.

Thanks for reading. John


Reality check from Haiti and the power of networks

Do you remember the 1985 story about the $5000 of relief aid that was sent between Mexico and Ethiopia, which was enduring great suffering. Drought and war had ravaged the Ethiopian way of life. I remember thinking that the $5000 was such a pittance given the urgent and widespread needs. However, I realized I had mis-read the article. the financial aid went from Ethiopia TO Mexico to help with the huge earthquake in Mexico City. Then I learned that in 1935, a half a century before, Mexico had sent aid when Italy invaded Ethiopia and they never forgot. Ethiopians who remembered reciprocated, they fulfilled their sense of mutual obligation to their brothers and sisters in Mexico.

We help Haiti now and in the future because we are connected to them. Because we have an obligation  as humankind to help one another. I just hope that our focus on Haiti and the needs there will not fade too soon. 2 weeks into the devastation and our attention spans are already strained.

I was formally introduced to the International Medical Corps(IMC) last week. It was sort of embarrassing because IMC is based here in LA and I really did not know them. They provided a small corporate briefing to raise money and awareness. IMC is a very impressive organization that provides medical aid as their name implies. They were on the ground in Haiti 22 hours after the earthquake was reported. In fact they are most often first in where medical assistance is required.  By the way they are the ones who helped save Monley the 5 year old who was pulled from the rubble and is now doing fine. In brief here's what separates IMC from others:

  1. IMC engages the local population to train and sustain their efforts. 96% of their team members are from the local country.
  2. IMC stays with the hard work of getting through the crisis and then moves into the necessary transition to public health and rebuilding. IMC is among the few humanitarian agencies still in Darfur and Iraq for example.
  3. IMC spends 92% of its gifts on their programs! Amazingly efficient.

But IMC leverages their donations by serving as a hub of a powerful and experienced network of resources. They use the power of multiplication to amplify their impact. They match every dollar with a minimum of 20x in aid and support. In fact I was told that it is now closer to 59 to 1! But it is their philosophy to not be a foreign aid team that parachutes in and leaves that impresses me most. They train locals to grow their reach from thousands to millions and leave a legacy of a self-reliant infrastructure.

The power of networks are known to all of us. And if they endure because they are self sustaining then the ripple effect really happens. Networks that are not dependent on one member or one resource are powerful and replicable. IMC responds by engaging its growing worldwide network that now spans 50 countries.

Nancy Aossey has headed IMC for the last 25 years. Like all great leaders she is brimming with energy and passion for her work. She is charismatic but not flashy. She is very much like IMC -- substantial. More about effectiveness than ego. Probably why their brand is not a household name. Nevertheless they continue to do their magic where they are needed.

After learning about them my family decided to give them most of our 2010 charitable contributions. Please consider helping them too. 

Our lives are truly changed by the people we meet. If we spend a little time understanding who they are, why they do what they do, our own trajectories and paths are altered. We glean little bits of sanity and rationality, and comfort from these encounters. And sometimes these conversations open our brains to new ideas and thoughts.  It shows us the power of the human spirit. It redefines us. We get mentored in these moments of enlightenment and reconsider who we are and where we are going. Learning about IMC had that impact on me.

Yeah I am a bit of a pushover, my heart and maybe my own guilt lead me too often. But I think these moments are after shock reality checks. They are the speed bumps that get us to decelerate a bit and consider what we are doing to make a difference. We could all quit our jobs and join IMC. Not suggesting that. But we need to learn from IMC's wonderful model.Reality checks

We all volunteer, donate, and empathize--that is the baseline of humanity. We do that because we are upright and we have hearts. But how do we leverage the good we do? How do we use our talents and networks to multiply that good? As I am fond of saying, even the lone ranger did not ride alone.  Never be discouraged by "I am just one person". The power of networks, of working with others is empowering and powerful. Re-committing ourselves to our own passions and engaging our networks in that work has to be a priority. And one person can make more of a difference.

So give money and or time to Haiti. It will make a difference and make you feel good. But use this time to consider the IMC model of leveraging goodwill through your network. Think about how we make a bigger impact or change. And like Mexico and Ethiopia, we will also build stronger bonds to help one another now and in the future.

Thanks for reading. John


Your Career Kitchen Cabinet

We all know that any great organization, company, even celebrity, certainly political leaders need a small circle of trusted advisers. And as we see in the news headlines everyday, if that counsel is not real and provides only encouragement for the wishes of the leaders(s), then trouble is imminent. --Like the old drunk who relies on the lamp post more for support than any illumination. True advisers provide accountability and a reality check on actions and plans. Who advises us? The regular folk who are not famous, rich or elected? We all have goals and dreams, but many of us need help to keep us on track. Otherwise, we can get away with saying and thinking things we never do. By the way, thathabit will give you a monorail ticket to a very undesirable place called Regret City!

Less than a couple of weeks into the new year you are probably still committed to your resolutions -- please say you have not bailed yet. :) One way to insure longer term success is to form a "kitchen cabinet",a group of your trusted advisers to monitor your progress and hold you to your goals. Similar to a board of directors, your cabinet knows your goals and asks for status reports. Like a a good board they are not interested in effort and activity, they want results. They are interested in a better you. BoardBoard room

However, unless you are such a popular person where you can attract people to serve your needs and you alone, then you should build a different structure based upon reciprocity. A group, no more than 6, that agrees to help one another. This kitchen cabinet gets together on a regular basis for the expressed purpose of advising and assisting ALL members succeed. This is a group of serious colleagues that care about each other and are committed to helping one another. Career guru Barbara Sher calls these success teams. It is a mentoring seance, where you are joined by the futures you see for one another.

Here are some basic tips on how you get started buiding your career kitchen cabinet:

  1. Forming the cabinet--Clearly, picking the members of your cabinet is the toughest part. Start with a couple of the people you know well. People you trust and getting together with them more frequently would be fun. If they know each other that is even better. Meet with them and broach the idea. I advise against couples only because invariably it introduces elements that can distract from the group goals. Things like chemistry, candor, and buy-in can be factors. If you are daring, each of your closest associates could invite one person that would add new dimensions and breadth to the group. And there is always something about having new people there to make you more attentive to the process. The key is getting people that have rapport, agree on the group goals, and are committed to mutual success. Try to avoid a group that all have the same backgrounds, political beliefs, or industry connections. This is where diverse thinking is powerful.
  2. Convening the cabinet--Without consistency this will not work. Sher recommends weekly meetings. I think monthly will work. But like a good book club, you got to prepare and show otherwise all is lost. Each member rotates to convene the group by choosing the location and date and time (if you have not settled on a regular date and time which is recommended.) You can set standards about the quality of the establishment, cuisine, newness etc to add a little incentive for the group. One group I was in required the host to cook "extraordinary" food so at least the food might generate thought. The group should make a one year commitment--12 meetings.
  3. Common ground for the cabinet--This is critical. Getting everyone familiar with the bios and backgrounds of each member is essential. So spending time on the introductions, in-depth and revealing understandings of one another will generate a new network of opportunities. Next, everyone needs to write down their goals. Use my SWiVEL or devise one based upon the needs and interests of the group. Having a common form that gives everyone a starting point for the conversations that will ensue.
  4. Cabinet sessions--After the intros and written docs, the sessions just have to make time for every member to report on their progress and allow for feedback. Not so formulaic that it feels too structured but focused on your purpose as a group. The assumption is every member is there to offer advice, expertise, and their network.

Hands together
But this is not a business as usual approach that helps one another achieve mediocrity. The secret to this concept is others will invariably see your potential more than you do. Your ideas become more polished or get abandoned because of the feedback. And when the group gets some momentum built on respect and trust, then the cabinet can become an incubation lab to explore new ideas and aspirations.

The reality is WE is always better than ME. We have to work together to refine our ideas about where we are going. A kitchen cabinet can be a powerful advantage that strengthens your network and your path to achieving your goals.

Thanks for reading. John


Holiday Cards or House of Cards

Tis the season when we get filled with both the joy and burdened with the habits of the holidays. You know what I mean. The fun and chore of giving and getting. One of the most interesting parts of the season, at least for me, is the exchange of holiday cards. And here we often go into pure robotic mode. J0401611

Some anal maniacs have been sending out cards already. I got one before Thanksgiving! The card was unsigned, no note. They planned early but did not have time to personalize it. Why send it? I guess to check it off the long list of holiday tasks.

Many people have heard of the BYU professor who sent randomly chosen people from the phone book holiday cards. The next year close to half sent him cards! Robert Cialdini, the former Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University used to tell this story. I followed up with him on several occasions and had the pleasure of hearing him speak many times. He later sent me a Xmas card! He taught me many things, but mostly the power and importance of reciprocity. That's what the BYU professor proved, that the trigger of mutual obligation can provoke a pavlovian response to a stranger who sends us a card! Yikes.

We decide to take on the hassle and expense of sending a card to friends and love ones. (that is if we really review the list to see if they are in fact still our friends) We may even use this opportunity to send a photo or two with a little newsletter on the happenings of the family unit because we have not had time to update them during our busy busy year.

Here are some basic principles and opportunities created by the holiday card exchange:

  1. If you are going to send a card, please sign it! If we are merely sending out an impersonal mass mailing, then why do it. Email it. It's not the thought that counts, it's being thoughtful.
  2. Make sure you update and cull your list. Only send to people that matter to you. Exchanging a piece of paper and a stamp with people you do not care about will never matter. If you do not remember the person on your list, you may be better off opening up your local telephone directory! :)
  3. If you send a newsletter, please make it readable and brief. For a long time I wrote the anti-holiday family newsletter in protest. Instead of the typical brag sheet of happy faces and perfect family stories, I revealed the truth accompanied by an embarrassing photo of the family--like this one. SunflowerSadly, to me, this newsletter and photos were banned by an angry mob with whom I co-habitate.
  4. Add card recipients on the fly to connect with new people you have met or reconnected with.
  5. Keep track of your list. As you add recipients, figure out a system that works for you. Fyi--no list, no network!

Thinking and acting green is also urged. But there is still something about a personal note, card, photo and maybe newsletter that is lost in the cyber-world we live in. Consider the pleasure you get when someone actually puts pen to paper and says something real! That's my point if you are not going to personalize it and put your John Hancock on it--walk away from the cards!

In any event, the holidays, despite the craziness are a wonderful time to reconnect with people. People you know well, people you just met. It is a time to express our appreciation for one another personally. Thankfully, everyone, well most everyone, understands that the gift giving thing is less this year. So your time, your personal effort to actually talk is valued and valuable.

Please do not say that you understand this, "but the holidays are too busy--I will make those connections next year." If so, keep that promise! Otherwise, it usually goes on the Himalayan size pile of intentions and to-dos that we tend to ignore.

Like passing out business cards you have to be thoughtful and intentional. Like all networking, how do we make the connection meaningful for me and thee? Otherwise we are building a cardboard network and a house of cards.

Cheers! Thanks for reading. John



 


Sincerity and Serendipity = Karma

What is Karma? It is the impact and result of our actions, some say it is moral causation. Others, "You get what you deserve. What goes around comes around." Often there is a negative spin or emphasis. In Japanese there is this concept/word Bachi! Loosely translated it is a divine punishment for bad behavior. But for Japanese Americans, it is often used in jest. For example, when my son tries to slug me and misses and hits the wall. We say bachi!-- you deserved that! Karma But karma is a much broader and deeper belief in the actions we take will return to us. That there is a cycle of causality--that good deeds return benefits and harmful acts return harmful effects. We have all witnessed it and maybe wished it! :) In the end, whether we believe in reincarnation, heaven/hell, or destiny, we know that the concept of karma exists and plays a role in our lives. 

Something I espouse here often and try to live up to, is the very basic idea of treating everyone as your equal. That status, demographic characteristics, income, title, or appearances are never effective ways of judging influence, importance, or relevance. 

I met a Beverly Hills private banker this week who told me this story. She was volunteering at an urban school teaching kids financial literacy. Later, she was sitting in her nice banker's office and a 6 year old kid walked into her office and said, "Hey you were at my school!" And the banker confirmed this was true. The young man confidently announced his intention to open up a bank account. His mom was now visible at the door and motioning for her son to leave the busy banker alone. "So you want to open up an account?", the banker queried. The mom nodded as the son emphatically exclaimed, "Yes!" So the banker decided to take the young man through the private banking process instead of escorting him to the tellers' outside. She completed the application and the account was opened.  The banker followed the full personalized process as if this boy was a high net worth customer. A hand written thank you note was sent. A then a telephone call to check in on this valued customer was made--the father answered. "Who is this? You are calling my son and he is 6 years old! You telemarketers are ruthless and stupid!" Before he hung up, the banker explained that his son opened up an account, which was verified by the mom (again!). The father was dumbstruck and handed the phone to his smiling son. Afterwards the father grabbed the telephone to tell the banker that he has lots of money in banks and no one calls him. He thanked the banker for her follow-up. The next day unbeknownst to the banker the father began singing the praises of this banker, regaling his colleagues with this story. He decided to start transferring his assets to the private banker's institution, his investors followed suit at his urging. Reciprocity When the dust settled, more than $50 million was deposited! The private banker set all time records for production and was honored. Karma! It all started out with a real, sincere and serendipitous encounter with a 6 year old boy.

One of my closest friends Rob, told me a story last night about a colleague he had at Wharton. This quirky professor decided to write letters anytime he experienced something good. He wanted to counteract those who only wrote to complain. He loved writing and jotted notes to cashiers, receptionists, clerks, and employees of all disciplines and copied the appropriate executives. He received grateful replies and to his delight, he received complimentary services and gifts. Some of the recipients were so surprised to get a compliment , because few ever came. The Karma here is palpable, isn't it? It's true we are quick and deliberate to acknowledge the bad and accept the good as an entitlement. I am as guilty as anyone. Bachi on us!  I am going to seriously try and acknowledge the good whenever I see it or experience it. I know it makes a difference. 

We encounter people and opportunities everyday through serendipity and through our spheres of influence. If we treat each of these chances as a time to do good and to never underestimate the value of the moment and the person, then our karma will rise and the bachi will fall.

Thanks for reading. John



Building a network of trust and honored obligation

It is one of the most beautiful compensations in life that no one can sincerely try to help one another without helping oneself.  Ralph Waldo Emerson


The first lesson of networking is to always give without an expectation. We have all encountered those that take first, never intending to return the favor. Or worse, those that deceive to gain advantage. The news is replete with the con artists, the grifters, the felonious who take advantage of the gullible and the weak. The scandalous and despicable Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme has littered the financial, charitable, and investor community with hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of victims. Victims, who through a network of trust, were deceived on so many levels. It is now clear that the biggest victim may be our trust in one another. Every time someone gets burned, deceived, and hoodwinked, one of the candles of trust is blown out and we live in a darker world. Don't some of us have to look in the mirror and ask how much do we have to answer for this misplaced trust? Were we partially blinded by the prospects of extraordinary returns? Avarice and selfishness can be influential accomplices in our mistaken choices. 

Trust is so essential to our lives. It guides us through the traffic intersections, at our babysitters, when we enter our credit card #, and when someone shakes your hand and makes a commitment. We have all been betrayed. And it gives us pause and perhaps makes us each a little more callous and a little less trusting. In the end, you have to write-off, literally and figuratively, these setbacks as aberrations and exceptions. And if you are like me, you trust again. I am a bit of a sucker. And I have many stories where my good faith investments of time and resources were based upon deceit or false hopes. I have endured great disappointment in myself and others. However, these experiences have taught me many things. But being less compassionate has never been one of the lessons. Regrettably, we can become more wary in granting unconditional trust, but we have to recommit ourselves to trusting and believing in human decency and reciprocity. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

The LA Times columnist Tim Rutten reports that, "...every just society is bound by the ties of reciprocal obligation. Each member of the social order owes to every other an equal commitment to the common good." Reciprocity is the most powerful form of networking. Mutual obligation and our connection to the common good is unique to the human race. Alvin Gouldner and other sociologists have reported that "there is no human society that does not subscribe to the expectation of reciprocation." The world re-known anthropologist Richard Leakey agrees: "We are human because our ancestors learned to share their food in an honored network of obligation." Robert Cialdini, noted social psychologist, found in his extensive research that "human societies derive a truly significant competitive advantage from the reciprocity rule." In short, when we need each other, when we depend on one another: we become a stronger community. We have to make frequent and generous deposits into the bank of goodwill knowing that withdrawals can be made when needed.Call it kharma. Call it insurance. Call it the power of we. While we may endorse this concept, and there are reasons to doubt it, wouldn't it be amazing if we all lived this way? 

Madoff exploited this human virtue and damaged our community trust. We are grateful if we were not directly victimized and we reach out and help those who were. It all has to start with our mindset. Giving first. Nurturing our networks. Being true to the common good. And rejecting any violations of reciprocity as violations of our connection to one another. Networking is not a technique to get a job or a favor, it is a way of life that spans all cultures and defines the human species. Investing in our networks strengthens our sense of belonging and our interdependence. Through our ethical commitment to networking, we add more fire to the eternal flame of human trust and shed more light on our common ground. 

Happy Holidays! May the spirit of giving continue to guide and inspire you! Thanks for reading, John