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-We're moving on here to this point number 11-- build a fortress of great relationships. Jim, you write here, "It is not only who you know that determines the value of your relationships. It is whether they know you as a valuable business resource. Define who you need to know today and five years from today. Start now to cultivate the relationships and the reputation which will expand your possibilities." Boom! Just unload the truth cannon, my friend.
-To be intentional about the cultivation of your relationships, most people are not. You say, hey, who do you know. Tell me about your circle of friends. And they start naming all the people they've known that have sort of been like the little cockle burrs that attach to your clothing as you walk through the woods. Right? They're friends that they picked up along the way, but they didn't necessarily choose. Well, if you would choose to keep them, cool. Then that's a friend you ought to cultivate. But if it's a friend that's really not like you want to be, then maybe you could diminish the amount of time you spend with that friend, and spend more time with the one that is giving you more reinforcement.
-I have do the devil's advocate. I have to ask this because I know there's a Thriver going. Are you saying you need to hate people?
-No, no. Hate's not a useful emotion.
-I mean, you're saying if there's someone around who's kind of a Negative Nancy, sort of an Eeyore of life, sort of a Debbie Downer, you're saying you need to minimize your time with this person?
-Yes, absolutely. Intentionally diminish the percentage of your time that is spent with people who drag you down. My sister used to associate with a woman who was so negative that every time I saw her I started getting depressed. And it just occurred because she always looked at the ugly side of whatever was there, was always skeptical, was never happy and uplifting.
And I just said to my sister once, I said, hey, when you come over next time, don't bring her.
-It's fine if I go somewhere where you and she are together. But when I'm inviting you over, I'm not by default inviting her over because I'd really rather not have her around. And of course, my sister knows me well enough that she got it, what I was talking about. But that'd be awkward in some cases.
So just be tactful about it. But diminish, intentionally diminish, the amount of time you spend with poisonous people. And increase the amount of time you spend with positive, nurturing people.
-In your own life, I know that you have done this. I've seen it from afar as I've researched you. And I feel I got to know you virtually. You've done work with Og Mandino. If you don't know who Og Mandino is, we're going to get to that in just a second. But you've done work with Og Mandino. You've done work with the Napoleon Hill Foundation. You've done work with some of the biggest names in the self-help industry.
But at one point, you were a government clerk. And not disrespecting government clerks, but you were here. And at some point you got to here. Walk me through an example, a story time, of how you were able to intentionally reach out to people five years in advance that later changed your life.
-The first thing was I decided who my heroes were. Who do I admire so much that I would consider it a privilege to just be in their presence and hang out with them, right? And in my case, I wanted to be a professional speaker and author. And I was not one. And so I said, all right, who are the people I need to listen to, learn from, be around? And of course, I didn't have permission to be around them. So I just listened to them and learned from them and read their books.
And then I joined the National Speakers Association.
-Here we go.
-Brand new. We had, I don't know, 200 members at the time. This is back in 1974, '76. And when I joined, I was really not qualified to be a member of the National Speakers Association. But it wasn't that sophisticated yet. And so it was easy to join. So I paid my, at the time, $60. And then I started planning to go to the speakers convention. And I knew at the speakers convention, there would be a gathering of a couple of hundred of the top professional speakers and authors in the world. And they would be sharing their secrets with each other at that meeting.
And so I saved up my money. I went to the meeting. It was in Louisville, Kentucky. And when I arrived at the meeting, I knew nobody. So I went to Bill Johnson, who was running the association at the time. And he was doing the check in. And I said, I'm Jim Cathcart from, at that time, Tulsa, Oklahoma. And I'm here to attend the speakers convention. He said, well, good. Nice to see you, little boy. And so he signed me in. And I said, hey, can I help in any way? And he said, what do you mean? I said, you need somebody to put together packets, or move chairs, or double check meeting room set up, or do announcements, or take tickets at the door or something? And he said, well, yeah, as a matter of fact. And so I ended up as his go-for.
-Yeah, I did go for coffee, go for tickets, go for whatever. And I helped out. And then there came a time later in the meeting where they were holding what they called "speak to me," which was little cameo presentations, like you get up and do your elevator pitch almost. And I said, can I do one of those? And they said, well, sure. And so they put me on later in the agenda. And I got to stand up and do a little story in front of everybody. And that was cool. It at least got me some face recognition.
And then I said, I really like Clay. And not literally. But the guy, like you, was leading a panel discussion. And I said, I like that. I could do a panel discussion pretty well. If you need someone to lead a panel, I'll do that. And Bill said, well, next year, let's look at that. And sure enough, a year later I did.
But I remember going and standing near a circle of the big hero speaker people.
-The big guys.
Yeah. And looking at them like, wow, isn't this cool? I'm this far from the people I think are the coolest people on Earth. And they noticed me. And they said, hey, come here. And they opened their circle up. And I walked in. And they accepted me like a peer.
-A lot of people-- here's where people blow it. A lot of people at that moment when they say, hey, tell us about yourself, would immediately wax poetic and say, well, I'm the [BABBLING] and start really telling about themselves. Luckily, I was enlightened enough at the moment, which was rare for me, to do the right thing. And I told them a little bit about me and immediately asked a question that got them talking again because I was there to listen and learn, not to promote. So I listened and learned and they started liking me. Oh, that guy's nice. He's courteous, he professionally, he seems fairly bright, and so I got more involved. Then later in the day there was the first ever Speaker Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
-First ever. 1976, Louisville, Kentucky. Excuse me, 1978. I joined in '76 and the meeting was in '78. Louisville, Kentucky and at the Galt House Hotel. And the keynote speaker was Zig Ziglar, one of--
- --one of the newer speakers on the circuit at the time, and he blew them away, of course. Well, I couldn't afford the $40 for the luncheon because it was an extra enrollment, so I went across the street to a street vendor and bought a hot dog and came back and stood in the hallway outside and listened through the door. I did. And I listened as all these people were doing what they were doing and they were inducting these people. And I remember a man named Nick Carter from Nightingale-Conant Corporation was accepting the award on behalf of Earl Nightingale, my number one major hero who was not at the meeting physically. And it was just such a big moment.
But over time, I got to know all these people. I got to hang out with them. They've been in my home I've been in their home. We've co-authored works in some cases. We've served on committees together. We've gone to dinner and told stories.
-So my favorite author, everyone knows, is Napoleon Hill, and then you're like, yeah, yeah, yeah. And the 17 success principles, you're in the audio.
-I'm in the audio--
-How do you--
- --in a dialogue with the grandson of Napoleon Hill.
-How do you do that?
-He was a doctor?
-How do you go from showing up at this thing in 1976 to being on the CD? What are you-- what's the jump?
-Well, first off, you've got to be intentional about your career.
-That means that you've got to think it about and intend to do something and actually take the steps to make it happen. That's why we've got this list. That's the whole point of this list, is to give you a way to control the elements in your own life and career that get you qualified to be in those kind of places. Because I was absolutely not worthy when I first started hanging out with these people, and they accepted me because I was at least humble enough to be grateful and gracious and not try and draw the spotlight to me. Hey, let me tell you about me. Well, I've talked about me enough. What do you think about me? No, I didn't do that. I focused on them and on the ideas they were discussing. And over time, more and more opportunities unfolded.
I remember the day that I met Og Mandino, the author of "The Greatest Salesman in the World" among other books. I felt unworthy to touch his hand, You know? And then we hit it off, and we collaborated on some works. And then one day, I was with W. Clement Stone, his boss, who was at the time the richest man in North America, the founder of Combined Insurance Company of North America, and previous personal manager of-- pause-- Napoleon Hill, the author of "Think and Grow Rich."
So W. Clement Stone was speaking at the Jaycees National Convention in Indianapolis, and I was his host from the Jaycees Organization so I was taking care of his needs and walking him around. And we walked over to an exhibit area and Og Mandino was there on behalf of Success Magazine that he was president of, and he was telling people about the magazine and about what they could do for the Jaycees, and we walked up. Now here's W. Clement Stone, richest man in America, big deal, brilliant guy, author of "The Success System that Never Fails," and little old me. Rosy-cheeked kid. And we walk up to the booth and Og says, hey, boss. How you do-- Boss, this is Jim Cathcart. Og Mandino recognized me and pointed me out to the guy that I was--
- --escorting that day and he said, boss, Jim's a great writer.
-Blows your mind.
-A great writer called me a great writer? Someday I hope to prove him right on that. But wow, what a moment.
-And this is what we're talking about. You say a fortress of relationships. When you think of the word fortress, what do you think of? I mean, you think of a fortified-- something you think about, like maybe a guy has a castle that he's built around back in the medieval timess--
-Imagine that you're in a random crowd of people and you see a marauding heard of assassins headed your way. What are you going to do? Excuse me, you're a big guy. Would you stand over here near me? Hey, I'll tell you what? You and me, we get back to back and let's use these sticks as defense. You build a fortress of relationships to protect you from the marauding herds. Well, on another level, you're doing that in your own life but doing it in a much more benign and generous way.
-People that are well connected, by the way, don't have a hard time finding jobs, bouncing back from adversity, because you always have that fortress surrounding you that kind of protects from the ups and downs of the economy. It connects you to things. So right now, Thrivers, action items. I encourage you to write down-- just write down right now. Go ahead and write down a list of what's-- I know it's challenging but let's do it. Think about 25 people that if you knew that person it would change your life. Ask yourself, who are 25 people that if I knew-- and it could be as crazy and big as you want because Jim over here, you wrote down these people who are the leaders of your industry. So go ahead and out them down.
-People that I thought were way, way, way beyond my reach. By the way, it's not people who if you knew them. It's people who if they liked you. So it's not about knowing them. It's about them knowing you and liking the fact that they do.
-So make a list of 25 people that if they liked you it could change your life. I just want to encourage you. If you look-- we won't dive into it too deep, but I want to make sure you know this. If you look deep into the life of, let's say, Bill Belichick, coach of the Patriots, how he went from being a guy who never played high school or college football to being a coach in the NFL. Very intentional plan he had. If you think about any leader-- how did President Obama get to where he got to? Very intentional plan. You have to be very intentional about those relationships, and I know you can do it. Don't feel like you're disqualified from success. You can absolutely do this.
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