Million Dollar Monday

How to Build a High Performing Team with Keith Ferrazzi

June 07, 2021 Greg Muzzillo
Million Dollar Monday
How to Build a High Performing Team with Keith Ferrazzi
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

“High performing teams have radical candor and accountability. They will say what they’re thinking about ideas and each other,” explains Keith Ferrazzi, Founder of a global consulting and coaching firm that works with Fortune 100 companies. He shares secrets from his NY Times bestselling books with Host Greg Muzzillo on how to start creating more success in life and business. Hint…the key is relationships!

Chapter Summaries

  • 02:43 -Don't be Afraid to Ask
  • 05:37- Show up Early
  • 09:17- Secret Societies at Yale University
  • 13:42- Lead With Generosity
  • 16:27- Follow up or Fail
  • 18:14- Leading without Authority
  • 21:06 - Stop Playing Whack-A-Mole
  • 25:06 - Celebrate your Mistakes
  • 31:01- The Number One Relationship 


 
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Greg Muzzillo:

Hello, and welcome to Million Dollar Monday. I'm your host Greg Muzzillo bringing you real successful people with real useful advice for people with big dreams. I understand big dreams. I turned an investment of $200 and a lot of great advice from some really successful people into my big dream Proforma. That today is a half billion dollar company. Hello, and thank you for joining me today. Today might be one of the most important, if not the most important million dollar Monday I've ever done, because whether you want to be successful in life or successful in business, the bottom line is, and the key is relationships and we're joined today by an expert in relationships and consultant in relationships and a person who has actually written three great books about relationships. First, Never Eat Alone, a great book in and of itself another book about relationships, Who's Got Your Back, and finally new book Leading without Authority. And so let's get right into it. Let me welcome Keith Ferrazzi , Keith, thanks for joining us, Greg.

Keith Ferrazzi :

Thanks. And you know, I have to say, I've never in my life been on a podcast where somebody actually had all three books there. I'm incredibly impressed. That's I mean, certainly they've been mentioned before, but to have physical copies, where do you store all of those with all the guests you have?

Greg Muzzillo:

So, I got to show you something because in preparing the first time I ordered the book, you can't read , maybe you can't see, this thing showed up so wrecked from Amazon. I think that the UPS driver dropped it in a puddle actually had to order another one.

Keith Ferrazzi :

An order. Oh my gosh. Well, I got, I got two counts. That's probably 50 cents in my pocket. I appreciate it.

Greg Muzzillo:

There you go. You know, Keith, as we were already, we talked about earlier, do your homework. I mean, I think it would be an insult to the guest not to have done my homework, so , all right let's get started, Keith , clearly your relationship expert. I consider you a friend. It's great to know you and reconnect here, but let's start at the beginning. Tell us a little bit about your growing up years, your parents, your education, your early career, what were those things that drove you to be interested in relationships, to become an expert in relationships and to eventually even start your own business specializing in relationship ?

Keith Ferrazzi :

Yeah. Well, thanks a lot for asking the question. And it's interesting because over time it's, the story has even become clearer. In my own head, I grew up in an economically deprived community. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was crashing you and I are old enough to remember the seventies. When the steel industry was crashing down around us, everybody was losing their jobs Steel mills were closing, and it was a really deprived economic time for me. My dad was unemployed for six months at a time sometimes, you know, just scratching up to earn a living through ditch digging and whatever he could get, but he worked at a steel mill. And by the way, let me, let me pause for a second. So how does a poor kid from Pittsburgh whose dad didn't have an education whose brothers and sisters didn't have an education? How does a poor kid from Pittsburgh get to Yale university? Which was my school. Wow. The answer was my, old man at a commitment to education early on. And this is a great lesson I teach in my first book and a great lesson. For those of you who a re watching this, my old man used to say to me, don't ever be afraid to ask Keith the worst anybody could ever say is no. So my dad found out that there was a small, private, elementary school that only the richest kids in the community went to its actually a school that was on t he, the estate of the M ellon family. And my dad found out that his CEO, this i s a t the time when he was working, his CEO of a company c alled Kennametal was on the board. He took a lunch break and he got an appointment with that guy. And I don't know how back then, I guess it was a little easier and he showed up and he goes, sir, I got a son that I think is pretty smart and I don't want him to have to work this hard. And he showed the guy, his , my dad's hands, which you could never get clean. And , I got into that school. I got into that school. And then along the way, I met a wonderful woman , at the Latrobe country club where I was a c addy. My dad w as when he was unemployed. My mom became a cleaning lady for 20 bucks a day. And I went up to the country club and shlept, y o u k n ow, 18, sometimes 36 holes of golf for 20 bucks a day. And, th ere was a woman Mrs. Poland, who opened up the world to me by making me recognize because she sort of adopted me. She sort of adopted me and she made me rec ognize th at I didn't have to be born into wealth in order to have the benefits of nepotism. I used to be really off that I wasn't born into those wealthy families that I was going to school with. But then I realized that Mrs. Poland, because I showed up and there's a story I love to tell which I don't want to bor e. I won't bore the Dean, but I've been going on so long. And I know you've got great questions,

Greg Muzzillo:

No. Keith, if you're going to tell the story about your dad telling you to show up a half hour early, tell us.

Keith Ferrazzi :

All right . So my old man used to, y ou k now, get me up in the morning and goes, K eith, get up and go blow the stink off y et. Like, I don't even know what that means. I was eight I don't know how much stink I had on me. But, and, and he goes, get up there and go to the golf course a half an hour early, l ike p op, what the hell? Half an hour early. There's there's literally no reason to be there. The caddy masters are not there, no, one's there like maybe six minutes before everybody gets there, you know, I 'd get the credit. Right. But my pop was like, no, show up a half an hour e arly , I guess, by the way, my dad did that, he would show up early at work, not c lock i n right at time, he would get up at four, whatever it took in the morning. He'd always show up early for work. So I'm walking around and I'm bored. And I noticed as a result where the pins were placed, which on blind dog legs gave me an advantage of being able to tell my golfer , one of the pins at the front of the green , I would notice how the greens were cut that morning. And so I could read putts better. Now this wasn't my father's intention. My father's intention was just, get moving early, be the first in line. That's you know, this is a mindset. Yeah. And , but there was a woman named Mrs. Poland , who, after a few times I was caddying for her. She took a real interest in me and she asked, she said, Keith, what do you want to do with your life? I didn't want to tell her. A nd frankly, rich people scared me, r ich people from my perspective, their kids just made fun of me at school because of the clothes I had. And like, I just wanted to keep my head down, bring home my 20 bucks, but this woman was persistent. And she had now been asking me to caddy for her every day, which was a big deal. Sometimes I'd go up there and we'd wait all week and not get to, to , to caddy. I said, listen, I said, I you're probably g oing t o laugh, b ut my dad says here in America, if we work hard, we study hard. We get good grades. We can do anything. I mean, I could run for president someday. Now. I thought she was g oing t o laugh. And she said, yeah, you know, you could, and I would vote for you. Two weeks later, she had the local c ongressmen in her foursome. She literally had seen the guy, u h, in the, in the country club and said, Hey, I want you to come and golf with me. I've got this wonderful young man. I want you to meet his name was Congressman Murtha. He opened his doors to me. And , you know, and the motto for this or the lesson for this is why did they do all of this? And you mentioned it earlier when you and I were chatting. The reality is that it, Yeah. I mean, paying it forward. All of those wonderful things. I took two strokes off of her golf score. I was the best caddy she'd ever had. And it was because I showed up at the golf course a half an hour early. And this has been a through line to all of my writing in your life. If you want to be successful, you identify the most important people to your being successful and you are generous and serve them like a banshee. Like you just do everything you can. And by the way, that includes your spouse. That includes the friends that you want to have in your life.

Greg Muzzillo:

I know you went to Yale. I know there was some learning and some secret societies. I think most of our listeners,

Keith Ferrazzi :

That's interesting.

Greg Muzzillo:

Tell us just briefly , we don't have a whole bunch of time for that, but I think to the us outsiders, I just want to a little old college with 2000 kids. What's that all about? And what did you learn?

Keith Ferrazzi :

So, first of all, Yale university was an extraordinary university. Okay. And then I went on afterward to Harvard business school , after, by the way, in between those two things, I'm the only person from Yale that went back into manufacturing industry. I left Yale and everybody else was going into wall street. Everybody else was going in to consulting, et cetera. And where did I go? I went straight back to Pennsylvania. Cause I said I was going to do what I always said. I was going to do just change now the American manufacturing. So I went down to a plant and I was an industrial engineer working on bringing total quality management back into, into manufacturing in Pennsylvania well look , there's a couple of things I learned. First of all, I started learning things about leadership. I started a fraternity at Yale and yes, I was in one of the societies at Yale as well. And it was very interesting. The societies have a ritual that they practice on Sundays. And I think it was Wednesdays. And that ritual was one of the members of the society would have the night would have the floor and they would tell their life story, but they would, but they would tell their life story in a way that they were encouraged to share the things that were the un-sharable to be so vulnerable under the cloak of confidentiality, that you heard some pretty horrific things , from folks. But the point was that people ask why, you know, they hear about these society names. There's movies made about them, et cetera. But the reality is they, this group of folks have bonded and it transfers from generation to generation because they bonded around vulnerability, right? They bonded around openness and transparency and that act. And by the way, it was very similar. In my fraternity, my fraternity had a ritual. There was a generosity ritual that at the end, everybody said something they were grateful for or another person they were grateful for at the end of a meeting. And again, it bonded us and it ended us in such a powerful way today. When I, you know, for a living, what I do is I coach executive teams, right. That's what I do. So I'm coaching the General Motors executive team as it's going through the transformation from a mechanical engineering company to a software firm, competing against , Amazon and Google and, Apple and Tesla you know, I coach to the Delta airlines team. It was just going in, but I'm also coaching unicorn companies and I'm coaching startups that I take personal equity interest in. So my job of coaching teams, one of the foundations of what I do, and that's what I talked about in leading without authority is you build a foundation of a strong relationship where the team is committed to each other's success, where the team is so committed to each other's success that they'll give each other feedback because they care. Now, one of the interesting thing is you look at a high-performing team. And what I can tell you about a high performing team is that they have radical candor. As my friend, Kim Malone Scott talks about, they will say what they're thinking about ideas and about each other. Now you can go to a place like Oracle you can go to a place like Microsoft in the early days, like at Amazon, and they have a contract where they will say what they're thinking. They're very rough and tumble. They're very candid. It's a tough business. It's highly accountable and highly candid. Accountability and candor are the two earmarks of a great company. Now you can get it by contracting with it when you hire which very few companies get away with at scale, or you get it by building enough relationships that people care enough to hold each other accountable like we do with our families. If we, we identified something in a sibling that we thought needed to change, you'd tell them because you love them. So the relationship can be an underpinning of high-performing behaviors or the high-performing behaviors can just be programmed,

Greg Muzzillo:

Just touch on a few quick things in your book, Never Eat Alone. And you've just mentioned the word. And the first key concept that I really love is that the key to success you teach is one word generosity. Tell us a little more about that.

Keith Ferrazzi :

Yeah. Look, I mean, I think , I tried in my storytelling leading up to this to, to hit on some of the earmarks. I created a word , um, that is called porosity. Now porosity is a word that exists, but a sponge is porous. It absorbs, right. Your job with other humans is to make them porous, to open them up to you. And the way you do that is through being of service to them and being authentic. Your vulnerability opens up another person. I had a , I was twisted yesterday with one of my business partners and he was, you know, he and I were having a meeting and frankly, I thought he was being sarcastic and snitty in the meeting. And I just said, why are you being so snitty? And he and I got into an argument. And at one point along the way he said, Keith, I just don't think that you feel anything that I do is good enough right now. And I was like that, you know, that just arrested me from being on, I was on the defensive and the aggressive, because he was being so picky in this meeting. And he just hit me with his vulnerability, but that vulnerability changed the whole conversation, right. Change the whole and, by the way, for both of us. Right. So he was, he was being passive aggressive and being snitty in the conversation. I didn't understand it. I was upset. I was unnerved. And , then, you know , then he just laid it out there, right? When you can do that in a, team, right. When you can do that in a team, then you could really ask for what you need and a relationship, I mean, you know, I've only recently , found love in the way that I've always wanted to, you know, I've been married before and, you know, and as I've been writing, these works that I've written in particularly leading without authority. I invented another word it's called co-elevation, co-elevation two people committing to go higher together. Co-elevation and, and there's a whole set of attributes around it. And by the way, if anybody's interested, you go to co- elevation.com and there's even a diagnostic survey around eight key questions of whether or not you're in a co elevating relationship it's intended for your teams. But I just now thought about it . It would be great to, you know, to ask in a relationship as well. Like for instance, one of the questions is, do we have the courage to speak candidly, even when it's risky to do so, it's a beautiful question. And it's one of the eight attributes of a high performing team and one of the eight attributes of a high-performing relationship? One

Greg Muzzillo:

Other concept that you mentioned in the never eat alone book is follow up or fail. And I feel so many people, this is an area in which they need more encouragement because so many people do not follow up. Tell our listeners a little bit more

Keith Ferrazzi :

I don't know why, but you know, like, think about this, you go to a conference, you meet somebody that preciousness of that contact that preciousness of, you know, you have a conversation oh yeah let's have lunch or whatever it is, you know, that you worked to get that, right. It's like holding coins in your hand. And then you just drop them on your way out the conference by virtue of taking a stack of business cards, wrapping a rubber band around them and putting them off saying someday, I'll do something with them. And then you don't. Right . So, you know, it's just, I never felt that I had, I have a scarcity mindset, you know, poor kid , that scarcity mindset is something I've had to work to reverse in later life because it doesn't make you happy, but it sure does make you successful when, when you are afraid of losing any opportunity, because you've never been,given one, then you, you, you cherish these things. Right.

Greg Muzzillo:

Awesome. You know, the, one of the keys and the highlights of the Never Eat Alone book, and then we're g oing t o move o n t o your new book, but the tagline or the byline of the book is "never e at alone and other secrets to success. One relationship at a time." And that's what I say about Proforma people say, well, how'd you build this half billion dollar company? And I said, it's easy. Just one great team member, one great franchise owner at a time. C ause it's all we can do anyhow. Right. Amen. All right. Let's talk about Leading Without Authority, which I had a scratch my head when I first heard the title of the book, b ecause I thought you need to have authority to lead. And so tell me overall, why did you write the book? What's it about?

Keith Ferrazzi :

Look, what I see constantly is people being stopped in their ability to help your organization transform by thinking they have to stay in the box that they've been given. And the box that they've been given is the authority that they have very often minor . When I was back at Deloitte, I was just a kid in the Chicago market, but I noticed that our brand was, not strong. We were the lowest of the big eight at the time. And I started researching what high-performing marketing organizations l ook like i n professional services. And I was scratching off notes to the CEO with that. He paid attention to me and reached out to me and had a conversation. And I became a part of a team that was redefining marketing for the organization because of the relationships I was building with other marketers inside of the company, I was stitching them together as a team. And they, I didn't have the authority to do it. Right. I was being of service to them. I was calling meetings, w e were talking about stuff. The next thing you know, I was the chief marketing officer of the company before I was 30 years of age.

Greg Muzzillo:

I guess what you're also saying is for somebody to be on your team, you don't necessarily have to have the authority or the permission you just recognize, I think you talk in the book about, what's your mission, who's on your team.

Keith Ferrazzi :

Yeah. What's your mission. Who's on your team. And then the third piece is you go and apply the same attributes of never eat alone. You apply those in leadership. So I'm the guy who wrote the book about networking, but now to get stuff done in a company, you've got to build your network. So it's really the leadership version of the original book. So leading without authority is about your ability to build a network that co- creates, I could say, build a network that follows you, but I sort of feel that it's more like what Gandhi said. There they go. I must follow them for, I am their leader. if you really want to lead a group of people, you've got to open them up with generosity, opened them up a service. We've been talking about service leadership for a very long time, but that really meant leaders who have authority treating the people underneath them with generosity and service. What I'm saying is you don't have to have had the position to lead in that same way.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. I have to admit, as I worked my way through leading, without authority, I recognized way more things I didn't do that I should have done or that I did completely wrong. I'll be honest with you. I'm just kind of an old fashioned steam roller kind of a person. And one of the things I found interesting was , how you tell people that you advise people to ask for coaching before coaching others. Wow.

Keith Ferrazzi :

There's a great piece in this, because originally I wrote the book as a book that helps everybody be each other's coaches. My original idea was how do you put coaching into every contract of a relationship? So again, thinking about this relationship question, Never Eat Alone was about how do you build your broad network that opens doors. Who's Got Your Back talks about how do you create a group, small group of people that won't let you fail? Yeah. And then I was thinking, the next piece I want is how does every relationship have coaching embedded in it? But we do it really badly, you know, ask, and I don't know about you and your wife, but how good of a coach or you have your wife or how good of a coach is she maybe you've really got that down. But too often, we don't get that down. There's that , that relationship when it talks about elevating each other, that's not where you go. Right? So I wanted to teach that every relationship has coaching within it. Well, the way you build that, that permission, that's why I opened this word porosity, you got to open another person to be able to give them feedback. So let's say I wanted to give somebody my organization feedback. Number one, they better well know that I give about them. And that's an old saying, right? What do you know? It's like, you've got somebody who's got to know you care before they care. What you know. And so you , you've got to make sure that you open up a caring relationship. The next thing is you give them the feedback, but without giving it to them from the perspective of a dictate or a mandate, it's not about saying you need to change this. It's saying, Greg, you know, I care so much about your success you know , perhaps if you tried this, you'd get better outcomes. And I care about you enough to give you that, you know, that piece of feedback. And so giving a piece of feedback when you're not saying do this, which is what you do when you have authority. But when you say I care about you, I might suggest. So one of the things I do in a team is I do something called an open 360. So if we were all sitting in your executive team, Greg, every member of your team would get an exercise where they would, everybody would go around and say, Greg, what I most appreciate and admire about you is X boom, boom, boom. Everybody would tell you you'd recognize this a s a safe group that appreciates and admires you. Then they would say, because care for you, Greg. And you're so important to our success, I might suggest. And then they would all give you a suggestion. I might suggest this, that, or the other thing. And then you would listen to all of that. And you'd say, thank you. And you'd pick one thing. Then you're going to work on. And one thing that you're going to work on, that you invite the team when you're not working on it. When they see you violating it in some way that they're allowed to raise their hands and say, I want to support you, but you're not doing that thing. Right? So you recontract the peer to peer feedback. So, you know, Ray, Daleo from principals . We talk about peer to peer feedback all the time, but we now have a formula for bringing that into a team. So imagine a leader of a team where the teams now giving each other coaching and feedback, the team is elevating each other. Think about how that frees you up to be more strategic, to less be running around playing whack-a-mole all the time with every single individual.

Greg Muzzillo:

No doubt. And no doubt. I, I have to be honest with you. Although we have a great organization with a lot of great people. I wasn't great at doing what you're saying and I wasn't great at the next thing that I love about your book and that celebrate mistakes and failures. Goodness, I'm terrible at that Keith, talk to us about how to celebrate and why to celebrate mistakes and failures.

Keith Ferrazzi :

Well, listen, if someone's making the same mistake repeatedly, then I think, you know what you have to do for that person. But when, when somebody who is a high quality individual makes a mistake, it's just a learning opportunity. And to celebrate them for a number of reasons, one, because, Hey, this is great. This is a learning opportunity. You punctuate it , say, this is an opportunity to learn this. Let's have the dialogue. The second piece though, is the ability to celebrate risk-taking. I mean, we don't have enough risk taking in organizations. People are fearful. People are stamped down. We, if you want your organization to grow, you want every individual to innovate and flourish. And so celebrating people, taking risks to the point of failure is really critical. There's no, I mean, I don't know about you, Greg, but every entrepreneur that I know that's been successful has had failures because they've taken a risk, they swung the bat ,

Greg Muzzillo:

All such great advice. All right, let's get into some final questions. I could talk to you forever about these concepts, first final questions. What advice about relationships would you give to someone because most of our audience are folks thinking about starting their own business, or people with big dreams. What advice about relationships? Would you give to people thinking about starting a business, new in their business or just people with big dreams?

Keith Ferrazzi :

Well, I think the answer is build a community of people that you admire and serve that community. So in the olden days, I would say build a network, but that's you going out and building individual relationships? So I recently , I recently had started a tech company and that tech company, when I started, it was holy cow. I've never been a tech entrepreneur before. And so I said, I'm going to start throwing dinners with other tech entrepreneurs. And I started doing dinners with other tech entrepreneurs, and I started throwing questions out of, of how we could coach each other, be of service to each other. And just because I was the host, I was able to learn from the richness of that group, right. Build a community, not just a network, that's got to be one of the most important lessons I've learned since writing never eat alone. I talk about it a little bit in there, but you convening groups is such a leverageable and powerful way , to advance your learning and also your contacts.

Greg Muzzillo:

Great advice. And I know in the book Never Eat Alone. You give great advice also, and we don't have time to get into it right now. How do you identify people you want to be in that community? How do you warm them up? How do you break through the gatekeepers?

Keith Ferrazzi :

By the way, I carry that same advice over to inside of a company? So leading w ith t hat, if you're, if you're a current business owner, k eeps your people on a network inside of the company, teach your people how to network outside of t he company in service of your company. So you don't have to do it all yourself. That's the other thing I've probably learned over the years. You convene a group of folks, you encourage them, you incent them through your, through opening that porosity those relationships and they'll take Hills with you.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. Great stuff. All right. So as a relationship coach, tell us a little bit about how you would advise using social media to create and nurture relationships.

Keith Ferrazzi :

Yeah, look, it's , I wasn't born in that generation like you weren't. And the first thing I would do is make sure that you get the advice of a community, just like I would, anything else. So you're going to go to digital natives and social media natives to get your advice. And with those individuals, you know, you're going to start to learn from the young people. And that's one, the second thing is it's again, the same thing. It's a community, right? So you, I think we all, as entrepreneurs need to have a point of view, what are we doing in the world? Why are we doing it? And then to convene people around that mission, the mission doesn't have to be y ou selling your product. The mission has to be about how your company advances something in the world, right? So you're all about, you've got, you know, one of your c ompanies focuses on, promotional materials, but it really is all about customer intimacy. It's about connecting with customers. So you can have a conversation. You could have a LinkedIn page, you can have a conversation about the customer and make it a bigger mission of helping people accelerate that kind of intimate connection with your , with , your community. And that's a subject that maybe CMOs would come to . I don't know that a CMO is going to come to a conversation about promotional materials, but they will come to a conversation on a bigger grander issue. So begin to build those, those bigger movements. And that's what moves people on social media, talking about those bigger things.

Greg Muzzillo:

Yeah. Interestingly enough, though, studies show that of all of the advertising media, including billboards and television magazines, of course, some of that's going away, but even advertising on the internet e t c etera, Facebook and those kinds of things. The number one most recalled, advertising is a promotional product. Somebody that gave somebody something that they carry around physically, a pen or a bag or a shirt or a hat that has a brand on it is the number one most recalled piece of marketing and advertising

Keith Ferrazzi :

Connection. Right. That yet. Yeah, absolutely. I see it . But the things that I wear myself, you know, my buddy Peter Diamandis, and I'm always wearing his X prize jacket, which I think is fantastic. What

Greg Muzzillo:

Final piece of advice would you have for our listeners as we end our time here together,

Keith Ferrazzi :

You know, and this might sound a little hokey, but I think it's, it's been what really transformed my life. The number one relationship you need to work on is yourself. And I feel that entrepreneurs, there's a lot of insecurity out there among us. There's a lot of fear. There's a lot of scarcity and building that relationship, investing in whether it's coaching or therapy or whatever it is that you need to get out of your own way, right. Then all of a sudden the other relationships and all the advice I'm giving you it'll make sense, love and care and concern will become more .

Greg Muzzillo:

You know , I think when you and I were younger, you over in your rust belt, city, me over in mine, self care was something that , something that we were taught, but what a wonderful , and final piece of advice. First, if you love yourself, then can you extend that to others. Keith, thank you so much for joining me. I wish you all the best with your new book. And I look forward to staying connected. Thanks again.

About Keith
Don't be Afraid to Ask
Show up Early
Secret Societies at Yale University
Lead With Generosity
Follow up or Fail
Leading without Authority
Stop Playing Whack-A-Mole
Celebrate your Mistakes
The Number One Relationship