#1 Skill for the 21st Century (Part 1 of 3)
As we discussed in Leadership for a Changing World, technology, knowledge and change are expanding exponentially. Technology and globalization will continually challenge entrepreneurs to stay relevant and competitive.
The top 10 jobs of 2010 didn’t even exist in 2004.
The U.S. Department of Labor reports that today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by age 38.
Besides your continual and never-ending practice of learning and self-improvement, what will be your No. 1 asset during these expanding and fast-changing times? Unequivocally, it will be the relationships you can build.
If we want to calculate your potential for increased wealth, we would not look at your current bank balance, cars or property inventory; we would look at the inventory of your quality and high-caliber relationships.
Therefore, the No. 1 skill you will want to hone, practice and master will be your ability to NETWORK. Your ability to get to, connect with and establish relationships with important and purposeful people with will be your gateway to any goal, destination or aspiration you have.
In this post, I want to pull the curtain open on one of the most spellbinding and fear-gripping illusions there are about networking and connecting with your “Big Kahuna” or dream targets.
Just like in the classic book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, people build up a front about who they are. You will remember that Oz did his best to portray himself as mysterious, powerful and frightening, appearing once as a giant head, once as a beautiful fairy, once as a ball of fire and once as a horrible monster and then at last when he finally grants an audience to Dorothy and her friends he is invisible—nothing but a disembodied voice.
But when the curtain is finally pulled back it is found that Oz is actually none of these things, but rather a kind, ordinary man from Omaha, Nebraska, who has been using a lot of elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself appear great and powerful to the people of Oz.
This is true about a lot of people who appear to be very imposing and powerful—behind the fanciful press releases and elaborate packaging, they are really only normal, frail, sensitive, vulnerable, fearful, hopeful, generous and flawed human beings… just like the rest of us.
And many times it is not even the attempt at wizardry on the part of the subject; rather, it is the illusion OTHER PEOPLE invent or create about them. In fact I would say this is more often the case.
One of the great benefits of my role as publisher of SUCCESS is the opportunity to meet and spend time with some of the most celebrated and revered people on earth. I can tell you firsthand, every one of these “famous superstars” is just as normal as your next-door neighbor or second cousin. Really, people like Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Mehmet Oz, Donald Trump, Maria Shriver, or whomever, while they have done some pretty extraordinary things and have some very insightful philosophies and ideas to share, they themselves are simply flesh and bones wrestling with the same human frailties we all do.
Let me give you a quick, really recent example. In our upcoming May issue of SUCCESS I will introduce you to Peter Guber. Peter is the former chairman and CEO of Columbia and Sony Pictures Entertainment, where his movies earned over $3 billion and garnered him 50 Academy Award nominations. His company now, Mandalay Entertainment, is the largest owner of professionally affiliated baseball teams and stadiums in the United States. And along with partners, he recently purchased the NBA Golden State Warriors for $450 million.
When he was head of Sony Entertainment, there were thousands of employees and contractors who would shiver at the mere mention of his name or his entrance into the same room . Actors, directors and screenplay writers would lay awake at night for weeks, fear stricken about their upcoming meeting or opportunity to present to him. This continues to be true today, now not only in Hollywood but also in sports entertainment.
Several weeks ago he invited me to his home in Bel Air. I found him to be extremely gracious, warm, humble, open, sincere and affable. He talked about his struggles, hopes and unrealized passions. He invited me to his home because he needed help. He was publishing a book and needed help and insight on the book-publishing world (great book by the way: Tell to Win). For a man who plays at the pinnacle of power, fame and society’s most celebrated achievements, he was very open and vulnerable about what he didn’t know and that he needed help.
Here is the key point: People are just people. No matter how one’s press agent has packaged them or what society’s meme has built up about them, they DO put their pants on one leg at a time… and all have fears, needs, hopes and unfulfilled desires like the rest of us. When you embrace the idea that behind the curtain there is just another kind and normal human being, it will evaporate the fear or hesitation you have about reaching out and networking with them.
Who is your Big Kahuna target? What one prospective relationship (within reason, Oprah can’t be everyone’s target) would make the biggest difference to the achievement of your goals? Start networking your way today.
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