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The Go-Giver | Bob Burg & John David Mann

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Published in: 2015

Amazon | Goodreads

The Go-Giver is the fictional story of the management consultant Joe who works at a large company where there is a “dog-eat-dog” culture. In order to keep their jobs, or climb up in the organization, the employees must deliver ambitious billing goals. Joe is a typical careerist who plans to elbow his way up in the organization through hard work. But when, for the third quarter in a row, he is about to miss his sales target, he hears about “The Chairman” – a businessman who in some mysterious way has reached the absolute top. He contacts “The Chairman” and gets to spend a week with him, learning the secret behind his success – “The five laws of stratospheric success”

“Most people just laugh when they hear that the secret to success is giving… then again, most people are nowhere near as successful as they wish they were”

#1 – THE LAW OF VALUE. The first law reads “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment”. In short, the secret behind success is to give. Most people have a mindset that tells the fire “give me warmth and I will give you firewood”. This is not how the world works. If we just focus on giving, and see it as a way of life, then good things will start to happen to us. The first law determines our earning potential. But it is law number two that determines how much we actually earn.

#2 – THE LAW OF COMPENSATION. The second law reads “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.” Our income is directly proportional to how many people we serve. If we seek more success, we should look for ways to serve more people. It’s about building a network of people who know us, like us and want us well. They never have to buy anything from us, the important thing is that we are in their consciousness. It’s like having an army of personal ambassadors around the world.

#3 – THE LAW OF INFLUENCE. The third law reads “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interest first”. Keep the other person’s interest in mind: forget 50/50 – it’s 100/0 that counts. If we focus on the other person’s interest first, then our interests will always be taken care of. Some call this enlightened self-interest. If we make sure that others get what they need, others will make sure that we get what we need.

“Don’t keep track. That’s not networking – that’s poker. You know how people say “win-win”? It sounds great, in theory. But most of the time, what people call “win-win” is really just a disguised way of keeping track. When you base your relationships – in business or anywhere else in your life – on who owes who what, that’s not being a friend. That’s being a creditor.”

#4 – THE LAW OF AUTHENTICITY. The fourth law reads “The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself”. Real “people skills” are to be a person, to be oneself, to be authentic. It trumps the knowledge of all the sales and influence tricks that exist.

“Everyone likes to be appreciated. And that’s the golden rule of business. All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”

#5 – THE LAW OF RECEPTIVITY. The fifth law reads “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving”. Being able to receive is connected with being able to give. We humans are born with an appetite and a baby’s survival is based on being able to receive help. As children, we have dreams, are curious and believe in ourselves. To be able to achieve all this, we as children are open to receive help – something we lose with age. Many become too proud in adulthood to receive help – which hinders them. In the end, the secret to success is to give. The secret to receiving is to give. And the secret behind giving is to be open to receiving.


Francis Greenburger: Perseverance and the Downturn Advantage

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Francis Greenburger, Founder and CEO of Time Equities Inc. (TEI), at the podcast Behind the Bricks. Since its founding in 1966, TEI has amassed approximately 31 million SF of CRE, across 30 states and 5 countries. He also has many other notable successes outside of real estate as literary agent, author, philanthropist, and founder of the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice.

The episode can be found here.


The New Conceptual Selling | Miller and Heiman

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Published in: 2005

Amazon Goodreads

If the old rules said “talk it up until your prospect bites”, the new rules say “start by listening to the prospect”. Your product or service is not unimportant. But it is secondary to the customer’s perception of his own situation. People buy for their own reasons, not for yours. The “concept” often signifies the preproduction blueprint – the theory that the marketing and R&D people had in mind before the product became a reality. That “concept” will not be equally significant to all potential buyers – or ever going to be as significant to the customer as for the developer.

INDIVIDUALS HAVE CONCEPTS. What is bought is what the customer thinks the product or service will do for him or her. The concept is subjective, linked to individual values and attitudes, and different for every customer. By ignoring or working against the customer’s decision-making process, you ensure confusion, resentment, and – sooner or later – lost sales. 

UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS. A study conducted for the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in 1985 showed that 96% of unhappy customers never complain directly to the salesperson, but 91% of them will not buy again from that salesperson. The average unhappy customer will talk to at least nine people about the experience. 13% will tell over twenty other people. Customers ending up in “buyers remorse” or “buyers revenge” is not good for business.

BUILD LONG-TERM. The individual order is never enough. You also need satisfied customers, long-term business relationships, solid, repeat business with your “regular” customers and enthusiastic referrals to new prospects. This means that sales transactions involve mutual dependence. The philosophy of Win-Win selling recognizes that mutual dependence and gives you a reliable method long term.  The goal is not to increase just any business, but good business – which is by definition Win-Win business. Don’t oversell expectations, don’t get suckered into a giveaway, hear the customer out and be willing to talk.

WHY WIN-WIN DOESN’T HAPPEN. When Win-Win doesn’t happen, it’s often because the salesperson has not made a conscious enough effort to ensure that it does happen. Most commonly, she assumes her win is more important than the customer’s win, or that the customer will win automatically because he’s gotten a “great buy”. In other cases, salespeople don’t even think about this at all. In all these cases, they end up with Win-Lose.

THREE TYPES OF THINKING. You will always encounter the same natural order: (1) Cognition thinking allows the decision-maker to understand the situation he or she is facing, (2) Divergent thinking helps the person to explore options and solutions, (3) Convergent thinking enables the person to select the best solution.     

THE CUSTOMER DECISION-MAKING PROCESS. The new conceptual selling is a road map where every customer makes buying decisions in a series of predictable and logical steps, that can be identified and tracked by the seller. By systematically following this sequence and helping your customer to follow it, you discover either (a) there is a solid fit between his needs and the solutions you can offer, which can lead to a quality sale, or (b) there is no such fit, and you should not be doing business together in this particular situation.

THREE KEY PHASES. Phase one is getting information – involves finding out the customer’s reasons for being interested. Phase two is giving information – involves describing and demonstrating your product or service, but only in relationship to the needs of the individual customer. Phase three is getting commitment – so that the two of you share commitment to the buy/sell process (it doesn’t mean “overcoming the customer’s objections”).

CUSTOMERIZING. Customizing the sale is the only way the seller can survive, long-term. Understand the customer’s concept, and connect your product/service by relating cost/price, descriptions, packaging, technologies, specifications, demonstrations, capabilities, and proven results. Broad knowledge in highly technical products can become a liability if you fail to distinguish these essentials.

ACTION COMMITMENTS. What is the minimum commitment to accept to continue to invest in this sale? Does he or she really want to play Win-Win? Otherwise, you may be wasting both of your time. As your expenditure of time and energy increases throughout the selling process, your customer’s degree of commitment must also increase. If commitment isn’t mutual and incremental, you’re spinning your wheels.

THE MYTHS OF TRADITIONAL SELLING. Four common beliefs constitute a kind of mythology of traditional selling. (1) “push the slinky sphinx” – i.e., product push, (2) trial-and-error of your bag of selling techniques until something work, (3) memorize a script, (4) do more legwork – i.e. assume that your techniques are fine and that the problem must work harder, and (5) “you gotta believe” – i.e. all you need is positive thinking. Don’t buy into these myths.


Risk Game | Francis Greenburger

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Published in: 2016

Amazon | Goodreads

Francis Greenburger is an American real estate developer, author and philanthropist. Since 1966, his Time Equities has built up a portfolio consisting of over 2.8m sqm of commercial properties (residential, office, retail and industrial) mainly in North America, but also in many places around the world. The portfolio was by 2018 valued at over $4bn. This book is Greenburger’s biography, describing his life from a 12-year-old bookkeeper to a real estate mogul, and the many ups and downs in between.

SORTS OUT HIS FATHERS BUSINESS AS A TEENAGER. Greenburger dropped out of school during his early teens and began working for his father’s publishing company. There he took care of the bookkeeping. His father was not a strong businessman and the publishing house had basically been run at break-even since the start during WWII. When his father died, Greenburger took over the business and sorted out the messy financial situation with debts and receivables in all possible directions. Greenburger quickly forced through substantial price increases and made the publishing house profitable. Thereafter he turned his focus to his latest interest, the real estate market.

FINDS A NICHE WITHIN PROPERTY LEASING. When you stumble upon something difficult to find, and it shows to be a profitable business venture, you likely have found a lucrative business niche. Greenburger learned this when he, as a 16-year-old, rented out half of his rented office for the same amount he paid for the entire rent. His tenant had had difficulty finding an office and once they found one, they were willing to pay up for it. After that, Greenburger started signing leases on large, and difficult-to-rent, premises and divided them up and sublet them at higher rates.

THE CO-OP KING OF NEW YORK. With the profits from the subletting, Greenburger began to buy up rental properties in dilapidated areas. After some renovation and focus on security in the area, he divided them up and sold them as “co-ops” to the tenants. He gave the tenants a discount on the expected market value of the apartments so that they made a nice deal immediately upon purchase, regardless of whether they resold or stayed. By the 1980s Greenburger’s company had become market leader in New York within the conversion of rental housing to co-ops.

CHANGED THE SKYLINE OF NEW YORK. In 1993, Greenburger bought land to build a skyscraper in Manhattan. However, the 64-storey skyscraper on 50 West Street was not completed until 2018 because the financial crisis in the 1990s, as well as again in 2008, temporarily put a stop to the plans. The total cost of the project was $600m.

BECOME THE BEST IN A NICHE. Anyone who spends a lot of time in a certain market, or a certain niche, will ultimately be very good at it. If you look at all the objects in a niche over a long period of time, you will learn what is good value and what are risk traps. In the early years, Greenburger walked up and down Manhattan and built a mental map of all the streets and its properties, getting better at his game than most of his opponents. 

PERSEVERANCE – STEP BY STEP. Greenburger never had any grand plan of building a real estate empire. He just took one step at a time, looking at what at the time made most sense and then pursued that. He had grown up with parents who struggled with money and had a strong urge for security and independence, which gave him great perseverance in pursuing his real estate ventures.

LONG-TERM VIEW AND REFI-EXITS. Nowadays, Greenburger generally takes a longer-term view than most in the industry. He does not “flip” properties quickly just to get a great IRR. If there is stable cash flows an “exit” could always be made through re-financing. There is also a tax benefit being a long-time investor, releasing cash through refinancing instead of exits. Time Equities is happy holding properties for 20+ years if the cash flows are stable.

HAVING CASH CAN BE AN EDGE. When Time Equities entered Holland, they bought in at a time where no banks were willing to finance properties outside A locations in Amsterdam. Time Equities was however financially strong and were able to pay all cash. Being one of very few buyers, the acquisitions were done at bargain prices. Later, in a better market, they counted on being able to refinance the assets.

BEING GLOBAL OFFERS OPPORTUNISTIC DEALS AS WELL AS LONG-TERM STABILITY. In the real estate business, things are cyclical but not on a national basis; they are cyclical on a market basis. To be able to ensure strong cash flows regardless of the economy, Time Equities invests in multiple markets and property types, as well as all from development to conversion to management. Real estate companies entirely focused on development on one type of properties in one market inevitably get into trouble when the market disappears – as it now and then always does.

HARDSHIPS GIVE YOU THE ABILITY TO EMPHATIZE WITH OTHERS. You do not build character when things are good. Everybody can have good character in positive times. It is when adversity hits that real character gets defined and built. When you run into problems you should face up to them, embrace them, and do what you can and then move on. Greenburger says that you need to have confidence that the future is going to heal the wounds of the past, whether they are personal or economical. He believes that those that have not experienced tragedy really do not understand it.