March 16, 2011
News & Opinion: Today We Are Rich
Tim Sanders lights up the room when he walks in, and his words have a similar effect. The positive messages of his previous books, Love is the Killer App, The Likability Factor, and Saving the World at Work, have inspired both big corporations and small organizations to focus on people, how they can help them, and work better together. His new book, Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence is now available, and it's his best yet. Drawing on personal stories from his youth, to his rise in leadership positions, the book focuses on individuals, and clearly describes how building one's confidence, in the face of adversity or lack of money, can create a life rich beyond expectations. I sent Tim a few questions about his experience writing the book, and about some of the messages inside. His responses are below. I think you'll agree it's worth pursuing. How does this book differ from your previous books? Today We Are Rich is the prequel to my first book, Love Is the Killer App. By prequel, I mean that the new book reveals the ‘story behind my story’ and the root of my point of view about people being loving creatures that almost always give back. In Love Is the Killer App I infer, but do not explain the nature of The Abundance Mentality. This belief, that’s there’s enough to share, underlies all of my work. The new book explains that Abundance stems from a strong sense of self-confidence, trust in others and faith in something bigger than one’s self. We cultivate it through our lifestyle, especially our thinking patterns. The Abundance Mentality makes you a calm big-dog in life. It is an antidote to jealousy, envy, greed or competitiveness. It’s a silo buster in the business world. In the fall of 2008, I was compelled to reach back into my childhood, warts and all, and recollect why I was so committed to giving – especially during times of apparent scarcity. It was during that time I reconnected with some of the books I read as a child on the farm: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, How To Stop Worrying And Start Living by Dale Carnegie, Guide To Confident Living by Norman Vincent Peale and The Magic Of Believing by Claude Bristol. All of these books were released between 1935-1942. They addressed The Greatest Generation and their parents with advice on overcoming what Hill called “The Fear Of Poverty” – the most crippling fear known to man.” Pop-spiritual books like The Secret reduced their meaningful and action oriented works into short-cut ‘just see it and you will achieve it’ techniques. While these seemed plausible in 2006 at the top of the real estate bubble, they left people emotionally decimated in 2008 and 2009. Today We Are Rich shares seven principles of lifestyle design that turned me around two different times: Once as a scrawny outcast and later as a sideways-moving adult. During two major recessions, I’ve been able to stay poised instead of paralyzed through them. While I’ve talked about these experiences on the lecture circuit, I’m sharing them with readers for the first time. Per the title of the book, what makes us rich today, and how can we maintain that beyond today? Today We Are Rich is a statement, a declaration of your abundance. There are two kinds of rich: Bank account and Rich In Spirit. The first kind comes and goes, frequently via the business cycle or disasters/windfalls of some sort. The second kind you build up by sharing what you have and making a difference. When you share, then, you are worth something to the world – either as a person or an organization. No matter how much money you lose, you can always find a way to help someone or some other group out that’s worse off than you. It’s that realization that gives you unbreakable confidence during the worst times. When you look at the history of recessions, the leaders of industry that had the Abundance Mentality were the entrepreneurial risk takers that rose up from the ashes with game changing products, services and charities. Let’s talk bank account now: Confidence is economic rocket fuel. Leaders that believe they will do well in a circumstance are more influential, less prone to emotional meltdown and operate with a sense of flow. Sales people that possess total confidence are more likely to close business and gain endless referrals. One study even suggests that your overall level of confidence was a better indicator of your future earnings than your educational background or work experience. Total confidence then, is money. To stay rich into the future, you must invest time and energy into your point of view. As Dave Ramsey told me in 2008, “a guy that’s confident because he’s on a roll is like a guy that’s a fast runner because he’s being chased by a tiger.” That’s why millions of Americans are having personal recessions today, triggered by events on Wall Street. They coasted through the good times, but reality caught up with them eventually. In other words, don’t wait for windfalls and boom times to believe in yourself. You need to liberate yourself from the market when it comes to your outlook – and that means you need to likely change the way you live from your waking moments on. With the increase of technology and information in our lives, how can we foster a healthy "mind diet?" It’s hard, almost impossible, not to be consumed by the information being targeted at us. We carry always on gadgets, constantly check our social networks and the ensuing stream of information is all but random – much of it negative. To feed your mind good stuff, you need to be as judicious about what you put into your mind as you are with what you put in your mouth. Even though fast food is everywhere and sugary foods are ubiquitous, millions of people have successfully filtered them out of their diets. This is what we need to do with our info-diet. Instead of surfing the web, purposely read good books that give you an understanding of the future, or help you perform better in your life. Instead of jumping out of bed and checking your email, put it off an hour while you read, rehearse your day and work on your business relationships. Instead of carrying your smart phone everywhere you go, set to ‘Interrupt Me’ – leave it in your car or turn it off completely. Don’t follow negative minded or depressed people on Facebook, twitter or LinkedIn. They are toxic to you, and if you catch their funk, what good can you be to others? Scrutinize the magazines and newspapers you read for their commitment to inform you, inspire you or harmlessly entertain you. You’ll know the scare merchants by their apocalyptic headlines, designed to glue you to them (and the ads they serve). Filter out the shock-blogs and stay away from gossip – it’s a socially acceptable form of pornography. What are some elements of a great conversation, and how can people put those into practice? I’ll direct this to leaders here. Napoleon Bonaparte once said “the leader’s role is to define reality, then give hope.” It’s a balancing act, a ying-yang between today and tomorrow’s promise. Great conversations are grounded with a rational sense of today’s circumstance. No hiding from the facts. But they also manage to project into the future, and often focus on solutions more than never-ending problems. There’s a dynamic to them, like a great song or movie, where the conclusion is both empowering and energizing. Think about the last great conversation you’ve had – it possesses these elements, otherwise it was depressing or pollyannish. One other note: Great conversations are collaborative and build on ideas instead of shooting them down. Too often at work, we take on the curmudgeonly role of Devil’s Advocate, trying to prove we are smart. We trot out top-of-our-head objections, thinking that our conversational partner never thought through them. It’s insulting, usually. If you are the final decision maker that’s writing the check, sure, it’s important to put ideas on the grill. But as a colleague, when someone has an idea, you should build on it like an improv troupe. You just may come up with a Lennon-McCartney like piece of magic. Beyond saying thanks, why is ongoing gratitude so important? Gratitude is a muscle, not a feeling. When you believe that others are helping you, you do not feel like you are alone. When you focus thoughts on who is helping you, why they want you to succeed and how big of a difference it’s making – you will develop a strong sense of trust in others. Also, you can’t be hateful when you are grateful. Your mind has only so much room, and gratitude is as expansive as fear. Maybe more so. When you start out a day or even a meeting with thanks, you paint yourself into a positive corner. The other reason you should give thanks is that it will help others understand where they are making a difference. This will reinforce the behavior, and likely create more good deeds or innovations on their part. Think about the concept of recognition at work: It’s a thanks given, a feeling of appreciation, and increased satisfaction on both parts. Here’s the problem, we lose our gratefulness due to a lack of exercise. Think about the new-hire employee. Talk about gratitude! What happens when they become a veteran team member? In many cases, they lose all the Love for the job, and disengagement ensues. In the book, I share how one manager gathers team members to take on the role of a new-hire, looking at the company’s assets fresh. The exercise gives them boundless energy and enthusiasm, as it often reveals new tools to bring to bear on a circumstance that’s much more favorable than they ever thought.