I recently listened to The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg and John David Mann. The authors package the five laws of stratospheric success into a brief, engaging, and easy-to-read parable.
Multiple books have been written about each of the five laws, but the authors effectively illustrate these laws in a story about Joe. Joe is a relatively successful sales executive who feels like he is stalling in his career. He is about to miss his quarterly sales quota, and he desperately turns to a wise old co-worker for help. This co-worker introduces him to “The Chairman” who in turn introduces him to five successful people. The five people each teach him one of the laws of stratospheric success.
The format reminds me of Andy Andrews’ Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions That Determine Personal Success. The main character, David, is transported to seven key points in history where historical figures teach him the seven decisions.
The five laws of stratospheric success are as follows:
1. Value: give more in value than you take in payment
This is a principle not easily measured by traditional accounting methods. Accounting seems to dictate that businesses should extract maximum payment from customers while expending the minimum cost.
However, this law defines value much more broadly than can be measured by dollars and cents.
In a successful transaction, one that will lead to more transactions, each party must feel they are better off than before. The customer must feel that the product or service they receive brings more value to their lives than the dollars they spent. On the other side, the seller must receive a price higher than it cost to provide the good or service.
Money is simply an echo of value created. As Dave Ramsey likes to say, banknotes are “certificates of appreciation."
This law must be followed to create any successful business, but it is easy to see in some relatively new business models.
Many online software companies use a “freemium” model. Their pricing may include various pricing levels, including a free version. Those using the free version are obviously getting more value than they’re providing in payment if they find any value at all. It also provides a risk-free way to decide if the additional features in the paid version will be of more value than the cost. This is a major improvement from the old days where customers made large and long-term software purchasing decisions based on a demo.
Many professional content creators (bloggers, authors, etc) offer most of their content for free. As they prove the value they can provide, some percentage of their followers are willing to pay for books, courses, conferences, etc.
2. Compensation: your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them
This reminds me of Zig Ziglar’s famous quote, “you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want."
Some of the perceived inequity in the world results from this principle. It may seem unfair that famous musicians or sports players get paid millions while many beloved teachers barely make enough to live on. Like it or not, these famous people are paid more because they are able to reach more people.
In The Go Giver, a teacher realized she would be able to serve more people if she created an online education business. As a result, she was able to provide value to more people and earn more compensation.
This law doesn’t mean that it’s not honorable to serve within a small sphere of influence. But the law does mean that the compensation will be more limited when compared to serving a larger audience.
3. Influence: is determined by how abundantly you place others interests first
In order to influence those around us, we need to shift our focus from I or me to others. When others can see we have their best interests in mind, they will trust us and therefore allow us to influence them.
Of course, the interest must be sincere, and the reason for desiring for influence must be to serve. Many influential leaders have used their influence for self-serving and even evil purposes, such as Hitler and Stalin.
For one of the most influential works on influence, see the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.
4. Authenticity: the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself
You will serve best by being yourself and not who others want you to be. You have unique gifts and talents to bless the world with.
Bronnie Ware, a nurse who worked for years with dying people, wrote a popular blog post about the top 5 regrets of the dying. The top regret was "I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."
Being yourself doesn’t mean being who you are now without improvement or progression. That’s just complacency and stagnation. Being yourself means becoming who you want to be.
5. Receptivity - the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving
This may be the hardest law for many of us to follow. We know that giving to others is a good thing, but we have a hard time receiving. It may be that we don’t want to put other people out. It may be that we don’t want to admit that we could use help.
It takes two to tango. For us to be able to able to give, someone needs to receive. Sometimes that receiver needs to be us.
Kids love receiving gifts. Christmas is an especially magical time. But as we get older, we find much more joy in giving gifts than receiving them. Finding joy in giving is a good thing, but as a receiver we can allow others to feel the joy of giving.
These five laws are more about who we are than what we do. Sometimes the best way to change who we are is to first change how we act. If we are sincerely trying to change, we really can fake it until we make it.
As we follow these laws, we can make our way toward stratospheric success!
Question: How have you applied these laws?