The Greatest Networker in the World – Chapter 13: Teaching Teachers
As we were leaving the kitchen, the Greatest Networker turned to me and asked, did I play billiards?
“Pool?” I asked in return.
“No, billiards,” he replied. “No pockets. Three balls. Two white – one red.”
I said I’d never played, though I’d seen tables like that before and had wondered about the game.
He took me through another part of the house, off to the opposite side of the living room, to a wonderful room that seemed right out of a gentleman’s club in Britain or Philadelphia. I fully expected a couple of old, white-bearded gents in smoking jackets, holding cigars and brandy snifters, to show up at any moment.
The room was arranged around a vividly green billiard table, made all the more bright by a bank of three sets of shaded lights clustered together that hung in a straight row down from the ceiling above the table lengthwise. The table itself was an antique – heavy and old, with ornate hand carvings all over the sides and claw-and-ball feet. There was a brass plaque on one end which read, “Presented to Anthony and Rebecca. Happy 30th Anniversary.”
I looked up at him after reading the inscription and he answered my unspoken question.
“Rachel’s mother and father. Her dad taught her to play, she taught me. She is, as you’ve seen, a superb teacher,” he said.
“She is that,” I agreed.
“What makes her so good . . . ” he said, handing me a cue after rolling it back and forth on the table two or three times, with a “Try this one,” “ . . . is her devotion to having her students surpass her. No matter what subject she’s teaching – riding, billiards, Network Marketing – she is absolutely intent on having you go further than she’s gone.
“Remarkable woman,” he added with love, respect and obvious pride.
He briefly explained the object of the game to me: we each had one of the two white “cue” balls as our own for the duration of the game, and the task was to hit each of the other two “object” balls with our own cue ball to score a point. He proceeded to show me how it was done by running 38 points before finally missing what he explained was “an easy, three-cushion shot.”
Remarkably, I made six shots in a row before sitting down for his turn.
As we took our shots and between my asking his advice on where to aim or what kind of “English” – or spin – to put on the ball, we talked about all kinds of things.
The room had a series of hunting prints and stuffed animals around on the walls. He said he wasn’t a hunter, although he loved guns and shooting. He stuck to killing clay pigeons, rather than real ones, he said, adding, “Though Kazuko had never figured out how to cook them very well.”
The animals were Rachel’s father’s. He was a sportsman and my host had kept his trophies more for the memory of him than anything else.
I asked him what Rachel’s father was like.
“He taught me to shoot,” he replied, “ . . . and more – much, much more.
“He considered it a flaw in my character that I didn’t enjoy hunting real animals. He was a pretty macho guy – a Teddy Roosevelt type. He used to tell me that he only bothered keeping my company because Rachel was so fond of me. He was a most remarkable man.
“Tony was successful in business,” he continued. “Not rich, but he worked hard and did very well for himself and his family. Rachel was their only child, and Tony always considered her his oldest son – the heir to his family name. I fully expected him to insist I take his name when Rachel and I got married.
“When Rachel was nearly 16, she wanted a car – a red Corvette. Tony said, ‘Okay, I’ll get you one. But how can I be sure you’ll value it and take proper care of it?’ She didn’t know the answer to that, so he told her he’d think of a way for her. And he certainly did that.
“On her 16th birthday, he gives her this small gift-wrapped box and inside is the key to a new Corvette – and a phone number on a piece of paper. I can just see her, jumping up and down all excited, throwing her arms around him – you know?”
“So Rachel asks, ‘Where is it? Where’s my car?’ And he tells her it’s in the garage. So she runs to the garage to see it, and there it is – in pieces!”
I must have looked shocked, because he said, “No kidding – in pieces – hundreds of them! He’d bought her the car all right, and then he had a local mechanic take it completely apart – engine and everything – and lay it all out all over the garage floor!”
“Amazing,” I said. And it was. I told him I couldn’t imagine someone doing that!
“Boy, I couldn’t either,” he said. “Until I met Tony, that is.
“So, picture this, there’s Rachel, she’s standing there looking at all these parts scattered all over the place and he comes up to her and asks, ‘Don’t you want to know what the phone number’s for?’ She says, yes, and he tells her that’s the name of the mechanic who’ll help her put the car back together again. He’s expecting her call, he says.”
“What did Rachel do?” I asked, still incredulous at the whole affair.
“She put it together,” he said matter-of-factly. “Took her four months of nights and weekends, but she did it. She drove that car for over 17 years. He was right. She took incredible care of it.”
“That’s amazing,” I said.
“Tony was amazing,” he said, shaking his head with the memory of the man.
From his use of the word “was,” I assumed that his father-in-law was no longer living, so I didn’t ask about that.
He asked if I’d like to see the guns Tony had given him. I’d never owned a gun – not even a toy as a child. My mother was adamant about “No guns!” But, I do admire craftsmanship and quality – of any kind – and the guns he showed me were magical. You could see and feel how fine they were. They had the spirit of excellence about them.
His pride and joy were a magnificent pair of matched Weatherby “his and hers” field shotguns, fitted into a wooden, green velvet-lined case that had belonged to his father-in-law. 12 gauge for him; the lighter 20 gauge was a woman’s gun. Much of the metalwork on the guns was engraved in hunting scenes like the prints that were hanging on the walls.
I asked if he and Rachel shot together and he said they had. I asked who was the better shot and he said he was. I asked if he intended to teach Rachel to be better than he was – and he said, “No.”
“I’ve already got enough trouble keeping up with her. Besides, if Tony didn’t teach her to be a crack shot, you can be sure she wasn’t all that interested. So, I’ll get to keep being a better shot for myself – at least, for a little while longer,” he laughed and then promptly missed a truly easy billiard shot. “Whoops,” he said, “I think Tony’s trying to tell me something.”
We played and talked for another hour or so. I did well, especially for the first time playing the game. He showed me how to make the basic shots, the break shot, and how to use different kinds of English for different situations.
I thoroughly enjoyed the game.
“Billiards is very much like Network Marketing,” he told me. “In many ways.
“It’s a game of position. Certainly the shot right in front of you is important, but you must also think ahead two, three shots or more. You want to make the first one successfully, but you’re always planning for the next one . . . where the balls will end up after you complete that shot. That way, you can easily string together 10, 20, 30 successful points or more.”
“Don’t you lose your focus when you’re planning so far ahead?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “You expand your focus, enlarge it to include the future.” He stood up, away from the table and leaned on his cue. “You’re making sure you see the big picture . . . how one action fits into another and then another. That also builds momentum. And when you approach your business-building from that larger perspective, your priorities shift and you begin to focus on longer-term concerns.”
“Such as?” I asked him.
“Teaching teachers is a good example,” he told me.
“Usually, when you’re concentrating on teaching people to teach people, your results are slower in coming than if you focused on simply teaching people how to sell products and sponsor people. That’s a simpler job, and it yields larger results faster in terms of generating sales income – at least at first.
“But when you teach people to teach people, you move from creating results to empowering others.
“Of course, that’s a result, too. But it’s bigger. What you’ll end up with is longer-lasting success, more leaders and more leadership in your organization, which ultimately results in both greater stability and greater productivity.
“Do you remember how I told you I began, with significant success for myself, but no one else was doing the business successfully?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“It’s like that,” he said. “When I came to understand how the business works, that it depends on our ability to effectively sponsor people who know how to teach people how to teach other people, my business began to grow for real. I suppose I could have taught people to write compelling sales letters, but that’s not what drives this business – and it certainly wasn’t what drives me. I’ve developed a number of persuasive letters people can use to get their prospects to take a look at the opportunity, and my people use them with good success. But after that – what happens? After they’ve agreed to take a look, what do people do then?”
“Ask questions?” I answered.
“You bet!” he replied, “but about what? See, unless you’ve been taught to help people discover or reveal their own values and what’s really important to them, you can’t connect your opportunity to anything lasting or meaningful in their lives. It’s not anchored to them. You might come across the rare one or two folks who are self-motivated, who already understand Network Marketing, people, sales – the unique way we do it in this business, and how to teach and train others – but they are very rare birds indeed.
“For the most part, you’ll be working with inexperienced people, turning them into professionals. And, ‘professional whats?’ is a good question. Professional teachers.”
He paused for a moment, closing his eyes, and I knew he was creating a picture of what he wanted to say. I closed my eyes just for the heck of it to see if I could come up with a picture of what he was going to talk about. When I opened my eyes, he was staring at me.
“Falling asleep on me?” he asked humorously.
I explained what I was doing and he shot out one of his booming laughs that echoed all around the wooden walls and terra cotta tiles of the billiard room.
“Well . . . ?” he asked. “What’d ya get?”
“I remembered this story I heard from a workshop leader back in New England. He was telling a group of us about a music professor he’d had in college. He said he walked in the first day – thinking he was pretty good – and the teacher put a horrendously difficult piece of music on the stand and told him to play it. He slaughtered it. He was awful! His teacher sent him home to practice.
“Next week, he showed up for his lesson expecting to play the piece he was given for homework, but instead, the teacher put a new, even harder piece in front of him. He thought he was bad before, but this one was ridiculous! He was more than awful.
“This continued for another couple of weeks; he’d murder the piece in class, take it home to practice, come back and be given one twice as difficult as the one he hadn’t even come close to mastering from the week before. Finally, he was so upset and frustrated, he exploded all over his teacher. ‘Why this . . . ? What the h . . . ?’ And the teacher pulled out the very first piece he’d given him and said sternly, ‘Play it.’ And he did – beautifully!
“He was amazed. The teacher took that one away and put the second lesson on the stand and said, ‘Play that.’ And he did – he was great! So, he looked at the teacher and the teacher said, ‘Robert, if I left you to your own devices, you’d still be practicing that very first lesson – and you still wouldn’t be able to do it right. I don’t care about your playing one piece. I care about your playing!’
“That’s what I got,” I said.
The Greatest Networker just looked at me in silence before he replied – he was visibly excited, and he began to pace about and gesture as he spoke. “That’s a fantastic story,” he said. “That’s great! It not only illustrates teaching somebody more than . . . well, like teaching a man to fish instead of giving him a fish. You know, when you teach him to fish you feed him for an entire lifetime, instead of just one meal.
“But it also illustrates the whole business of stretching – going beyond your comfort zone. That student was stretched far beyond where he himself would have ever gone all by himself. Boy, he had a great teacher. I’d like to have that guy in my Networking business!”
“What guy?” asked Rachel entering the room, and to her husband asked, “Ready for our walk?” She was dressed in jeans with chambry, work shirt and a pair of used, canvas Keds. She looked like a college girl.
“Sure, let me change and I’ll be right down,” he said. He was still dressed in his sarong. I noticed I was, too.
“No need,” she said, and tossed him a pair of jeans and sneakers with socks.
“Great,” he said. “I’ll go get these on. Tell Rachel that story you just told me – then come for a walk with us, okay?”
I looked at Rachel. “He asked you,” she said.
I pointed to my sarong.
“Ooops,” she said. “Your clothes are still in the bath room – yes?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Come on,” she said, signaling me to follow her. “Let’s get your clothes and you can tell me your story.”
“Okay, I agreed,” and as my host ducked into the small bathroom off the billiard room I walked with Rachel to get my clothes and told her my story.
She had much the same reaction as he had. “What a great story!” she said.
“Can you say more about teaching teachers?” I asked as we reached the bath room. I picked up my clothes and must have looked a little lost – there was no room to change in. Rachel smiled, pointed to the clothes in my hand, and just said, “Please,” as she ducked out of the room to wait outside, leaving the door so we could continue speaking.
As I changed, she explained about teaching teachers, speaking loudly so I’d hear her clearly.
“Have you ever seen a Karate master break through boards or bricks?” she called.
“Yes,” I said.
“Can you picture where he is concentrating all his energy?”
“Towards the center of the middle board,” I reasoned.
“Nope. That sounds logical – but it doesn’t work that way. He directs his all energy to a point just below the last board. That’s where the focus is . . . the goal. In that way, the Karate master assures that the force of the blow will carry through all the boards – or obstacles – in the way.
“Of course, you need to teach people to use the products and recommend them passionately to others, and they need to know the high points of the compensation plan, and above all, to have a deep, abiding respect and pride in Network Marketing itself . . . all that’s important. But more than anything else, they must be taught to teach others to succeed.”
I stepped out, now dressed, and her voice dropped to normal volume as I appeared.
“That’s the selfless quality most every leader in our business possesses. Do you know what I mean when I say ‘take a stand’ for someone or something?” she asked.
“I think so,” I told her. “Taking a stand is like . . . well, ‘Stand By Your Man.’ How’s that for someone who doesn’t know anything about country music?”
Rachel laughed, “Very good,” she said. “That’s what I mean. It’s like sticking up for someone – like the Queen’s champion in days of old when Knights were bold. In our business, you take a stand for the people you sponsor. You champion them and their success. The shortest and most direct way of doing that is to teach them to teach others.
“Well, truth is,” she added, “You teach them to champion others, to take a stand for their people. That’s what that professor in your story did for his student. He took a stand for what was best in his student. Sometimes, doing that requires your giving people a rough time. Sometimes, being stretched hurts, especially if your mind isn’t flexible and isn’t used to it.
“That’s another benefit of working on your habits of belief. You get used to stretching on purpose. It makes you mentally flexible,” she said, and we had reached the front door where her husband was waiting for us.
“So, you want that teacher in the story in your Network?” she asked him.
“Sure, wouldn’t you?” he asked.
She poked her finger into his chest and said, “I’ve already got him,” kissed him on the cheek with a playful growl, and opening the front door, said, “Let’s walk, gentlemen.”
Click here to read: Chapter 14: What’s Your Next Step?