Today I want to talk about business. I know you’re saying to yourself, “Self, doesn’t he always talk about business?” And the answer is, YES. Earlier this year, some businesses came to an abrupt stop. For those of us who are lucky enough to keep busy with work, chances are we’re not doing the exact same thing as we did before. Some things have become obsolete, while other things have become so in demand that people are hoarding them. Think about toilet paper, cleaning supplies, now meat like beef and chicken. All of those things became almost essential to the point where people were buying up as much as they could and stocking them away.
There’s another thing in business that I think is really important that is starting to get hoarded, and that’s attention. Your attention. My attention. I am getting so many emails, so many invites to Zoom meetings, and different Facebook groups that I don’t have enough attention span to deal with all of these invites. I don’t know about you, but everybody’s competing for your attention. They’re trying to say, “Hey, look at this over here.” But they’re missing one key step, the piece that makes you want to pay attention and that is building relationships. What we’re going to talk about today is how to build relationships so that when you do make the ask, people will pay attention.
The 100/0 Principle
There’s a guy that I have coffee with all the time. His name is Al Ritter, and he wrote this great book called The 100/0 Principle. The concept of the book is based around one simple thought, give 100% of yourself, 100% of the time, expect nothing in return and watch what happens.
Now I’m not talking about giving away your time or your talent or your treasure; that’s being taken advantage of. What I’m talking about is building authenticity inside of relationships with people, so that when the time comes for them to pay attention to you, they return the favor. Does it always work 100% of the time? No. But it all starts out by identifying key relationships that you need to invest in that hopefully will have a return on that investment.
It’s up to you to choose which relationships you want to invest in, but the hope is that it will have a return on investment for you or for them. It could be your customers or your coworkers or your family or your friends. But the key thing is you have to invest 100% of yourself, 100% of the time, expect nothing in return and watch what happens.
There are four key steps that my friend Al outlines when it comes to doing this. Let’s go over those.
Step 1: What Can You Do?
Determine what you can do to make the relationship work, and then do it. This should all come from a place of respect and kindness to the other person, whether or not he or she deserves it, especially at that time. That means that you have to determine that you’re willing to invest even if the outcome may not be the one that you want.
I think the one key question you have to ask yourself is, “Why or how is this relationship important to both myself and this person or persons”. A valuable relationship has some reciprocity built in that can be emotional, physical, or outcome-based.
Step 2: Expect Nothing In Return
Step two is don’t expect anything in return. Zero, zip, nada. Why would you do this? Because certain people will give a return on that investment when the time is right.
I remember a time I was heading down to Mexico. We were actually walking across the border from Arizona into Nogales. We were going down to explore and get something to eat. A little kid walks up and hands me a little packet of mints and says, “Here.” I took them and I walked away. Then I got berated by everybody in my group. It’s like, “You don’t understand. He gave you that because you need to give him the money back. That’s why they do that.”
My mind was not in that place at the time, but that lesson has stuck with me forever. I’m sure he felt very disappointed, but for every one mint packet he gave away, some people would give a penny, some people would give a dollar. Maybe even some people hand him a $10 bill. Who knows? But he was giving it away not knowing what to expect in return because I’m sure I’m not the first person that’s ever done that.
That story and that guilt have stuck with me forever. And now when somebody gives me something, I try to think, “How can I return the favor? What can I do for them that is as good, if not better than what they did for me?” You’ll find people who will want to do that.
Step 3: Don’t Personalize The Outcome
Don’t allow anything the other person says or does, no matter how annoying it is, affect you. In other words, don’t take the bait. Don’t take it personally, because when you do something somebody’s going to react one way or the other. The key thing is don’t personalize it, just do what you do, let it happen and expect nothing in return.
I find this all the time. When I give presentations, there are certain people in the room who are contradictory and try to put holes in all of my theories. And I think, “That person will never want to work with me.” Well, two years later, all of a sudden I get a phone call and I’m amazed. You never know when what you’re doing is going to affect somebody. It just may take time. The way it took time for me to learn that not giving any money to that kid who gave me those mints was selfish.
Step 4: Be Persistent
The fourth and final step is to be persistent with your generosity and your kindness. We often give up too easy, too soon. Especially when people don’t respond the way that we want them to. Remember, if you expect nothing, you will never be disappointed, but keep at it because the payoffs can be huge. When you take authentic responsibility for the relationship, more often than not, the other person takes responsibility as well. Consistently by giving 100% of yourself, 100% of the time, people will often return the favor even greater, and if they don’t, don’t worry about it.
Let me leave you with some final thoughts. As people are clamoring for your attention, don’t just disregard them. Think, “If the shoe was on the other foot…” What could they have done to get your attention so that you would participate? Chances are if they had been giving you something with nothing in return expected, you would feel a sense of reciprocity, and chances are you would pay more attention to them.
What can you be doing right now to build attention in somebody’s mind so that they’re willing to give you their attention in the near future? Give 100% of yourself, 100% of the time, expect nothing in return and watch what happens.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about giving 100% of yourself while expecting nothing in return. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to your expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?