50 Rules of Success: Be the Host

What follows is the continuation of success habits that will become part of a book I’m writing, “50 Rules of Success”.

Rule:  Be the Host

Most people who know me would probably not describe me as shy or a loner.  The truth is that my natural state is a shy person who is perfectly happy being by myself.  I enjoy the quiet of being alone.  As I started my business some forty years ago, this shyness was not an asset.  What changed my perspective was an interview with Ed McMahon who was late-night TV legend, Johnny Carson’s sidekick.  For you non-Baby Boomers who are asking yourself, “Who is Johnny Carson?”, he would be today’s Jimmy Fallon and Ed McMahon would be Steve Higgins.

In the interview, McMahon talked about how he got over his own shyness.  He said when he entered a room, he took on the role of the ‘host’.  Think about his perspective for a moment.  If you had a large party at your home, as host, you’d make sure that you went around and said hello to all of your guests and go out of your way to make them feel comfortable…ask them questions about their family, job, etc.  This is just what any good host would do.  By adopting this persona at all gatherings, it gave Mr. McMahon the confidence to move around the room and speak to as many people as possible.

Of course, this strategy was in stark contrast to my own persona where I was trying to ‘survive’ the party and, upon entering the room, would immediately seek out my closest friends and stick with them the whole time.  While this allowed me to feel safe, it was not a good strategy for someone trying to build a business.  After watching his interview, I decided to give it a try.  Yep, it was a bit awkward at first but I soon got the hang of it and noticed that I began to change.  I looked forward to parties instead of dreading them and I looked forward to meeting new people.  I became much more of a ‘people person’.

TIP: Left-to-Right.  A long-time friend and fraternity brother of mine gave me this tip at a very large cocktail party.  When I ran into him, it was obvious that he didn’t intend to stay long and he said to me, “Left-to-right, Stewart”.  I gave him a quizzical look and he explained.  “When people enter a large room, they tend to move into the room from right-to-left.  I have somewhere else to be tonight and I want to say hello to as many people as possible so by moving through the room left-to-right, I’m moving against the traffic and can see virtually everyone in about ten minutes.”  Left-to-right…try it, it works!

Why this rule matters

If you want to be successful in business, understand that 100% of your money comes from other people.  Knowing this, you begin to understand that in business, as in most of life, ‘relationships are king’…meaning the more relationships you have and can establish, the more successful you will be.  People want to do business with people they like; people they respect; people they trust…and none of this happens until you establish the relationship.

TIP: Find Reasons to Celebrate.  Building relationships is all about ‘connecting’ with people.  At my firm, everyone is empowered to look for reasons to celebrate a client’s success.  We would define a ‘reason’ as anything of any significance (to the client).  Obvious reasons might include a new grandchild, buying a new home or celebrating a retirement.  But anything can count.  For example, we have a client who won the senior nationals doubles tennis tournament for his age group…a perfect opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate his success.  By the way, the more obscure the reason, the more effective the gesture often is in the client’s eyes.