The Greatest Networker in the World – Chapter 6: Teaching Kids Teaching
Teaching Kids Teaching
As we drove out to the place where the training session was to take place, I asked him what it was like when he began in Network Marketing.
“The first couple of years I was in this business,” he told me, “I experienced only a little success – at best.
“I started off like gangbusters. I made up a ‘names list’ of 250 people. I sent them all a terrific four-page letter I’d written, included some background articles on the products and their ingredients, along with some reprints I’d come across on health and nutrition, and included a sample of the products for them to try. What a great letter!
“209 of them said ‘Yes’ and ordered the product – and I signed up 50 of them as distributors. Not bad, huh?” he said, turning quickly to look at me with a broad smile.
“Not bad at all,” I said.
“Trouble was,” he continued, “after four or five months, not one of them – not one – was doing the business!”
“Really?” I questioned. “What happened?”
“What happened,” he told me, “was that what I was doing was working beautifully. For me. And not for them.
“I thought I was really good,” he continued, “but in this business, ‘good’ doesn’t count. What counts is being duplicatable. Which is precisely what I was not.
“I’d had a background in advertising and marketing, so getting people to see value in my products and having them want to try them was easy for me. I’d been doing that for years. Plus, I had a reputation for appreciating quality and having integrity. So my friends and associates trusted me. They assumed that if I thought the products were worthwhile, they were – so they’d try them, too. And our products were good – very good.
“In fact – ” he was really warming to his subject, and seemed to be relishing the memory of his early “success” – “I could persuade just about anyone to try the products – and I could excite many of them to come into the business, too.
“The one thing that was missing,” he said, “was doing the business in a way that others could easily do, too. The only way I knew how to do the business was my way – and hardly anybody else could do that.
“I was a marketing expert – they weren’t. And for 20 years I’d been involved in natural health and nutrition – most of them hadn’t. So although I was successful, individually, I wasn’t able to give my people a simple, easy way to duplicate my success. The only way they could have done that was to be just like me.”
“So, what did you do?” I asked.
“So, what did I do?” he parodied good-naturedly. “So, I failed!” He punctuated the punchline with another one of his huge laughs and slapped his knee.
It was clear that he’d told this story more than once – and that for him, it got better every time.
In fact, he was laughing so hard, he pulled the truck off to the edge of the road for a moment, pushed his glasses up with his hands and wiped the tears from his eyes, continuing to laugh at himself and shake his head all the while.
“Ahh me, this is such a wonderful, glorious business,” he laughed. “It’s so beautifully simple and straightforward.” He steered the truck back onto the road and continued.
“That was my first big lesson in Network Marketing. Once I realized what was missing in my approach, I set out to find a way to do this business that anyone – of no matter what age, experience, background, talents or whatever – could do. And more importantly, what anyone could teach other people to do easily and effortlessly.
“And for that, I found that the kids were some of my best mentors.”
Ah, so that’s where the kids come in, I mused.
Just then, we pulled into a parking lot behind a Little League ball field across the road from a sprawling red brick elementary school. “Come on,” he said. “Your trainers are waiting for you.”
I spent the next hour and a half watching and playing tee-ball with 15 six- and seven-year-old kids – 13 boys and two girls.
We didn’t have tee-ball when I was growing up. Here, there’s no pitching; the kids get to hit a ball that sits still, perched on top of a telescoping rubber stand much like a very tall golf tee attached to home plate. And we didn’t have girls on our Little League team, either – and certainly not shortstops with arms like slingshots who also hit line drives that made the fielders fall to the ground ducking to get out of the way!
The kids had a great time. So did I. And the very first thing they did in their practice blew me away.
All the kids sat around on the bottom rail of the backstop, behind home plate. The Greatest Networker enthusiastically called out each one by name.
“Here’s the Hornets’ ace shortstop, Julie Dugan!” he announced. Then Julie got up, ran out to home plate and took off her cap, waving it high in the air, and all the other kids clapped, whistled and cheered, and shouted out her name. Then he called out the next player, then the next . . .
They began their practice cheering for each other. That was it.
Throughout the whole thing, the Greatest Networker was an almost endless stream of praise, constantly telling the kids how great they did.
Well, actually, he’d ask them first. “How’d ya do?” Then he’d acknowledge them for noticing how they did; and then he’d tell them how good they were.
I also noticed that all his praise was focused on how much they were improving over the week before, or even the year before.
When they messed up (which they did a lot), he’d stop what was going on and ask them, “What happened?” Most of the time, the kid who goofed would say, “I did this or did that,” and the Greatest Networker/coach would ask, “What could you do differently next time?”
Sometimes the kids didn’t know what they’d done; then he’d ask, did anyone else know what happened? When he got an answer to that one, he’d ask the kid him- or herself if that were true – and what was a different way they could do it next time?
At first this whole process seemed a little strange to me, asking the kids everything. It actually struck me as kind of phony. Why not just tell them? It would sure save time. Besides, I thought, he already knew why – so why ask them?
So, I pulled him aside, and asked him about that.
“What do you learn when you ask me a question and I tell you the answer?” he asked me.
I thought about that, then replied, “I learn the answer.”
“Exactly,” he said. “And of what use is that?”
“Well, then I know what to do,” I said.
“And of what use is that?” he asked.
“Once I know what to do, I can do it,” I replied.
“Yes,” he said, “you can do it – but do you?”
“No, not always. Actually, not often,” I had to admit. Knowing the answer and doing something about it seemed very different.
“Two things are important here,” he told me.
“First, when you arrive at the answer yourself, it’s very different than when someone else tells it to you. Its meaning’s deeper, and there isn’t any question about whether or not the other person is correct. It’s your answer. You own it. And you’re much more likely to remember it when you find yourself in a similar situation again.
“What’s more,” he continued, “when you discover the answer for yourself, you not only get the answer you were seeking, but you get trained in finding answers. So, there’s twice the benefit.
“Knowing the answer, having the answer, is a far cry from doing the answer – would you agree?”
“Yes, I see,” I said.
“But the real secret is being the answer. Do you know what I mean by that?”
“No,” I said, “not really.”
“Okay,” he said. “Let’s say I’ve got a little guy here who’s learning how to hit a ball for the first time. So I tell him how to hold the bat, where to place his hands, how to stand, and I tell him the way to swing properly . . . I give him all the information there is to know about hitting a baseball. Now – does he know how to do it?
“Yes,” I said, “but I can see that knowing all that doesn’t mean he can do it, and it certainly isn’t doing it.”
“Good,” he said. “Yes, he knows how. He’s got the information about it, and information is really great to have. But he isn’t doing it – yet.
“And here’s the other step: he may do it once or twice, but he isn’t necessarily a hitter – yet. Being a hitter is just that – being a hitter.”
He must have sensed my struggle with his terminology – it sounded a bit like his verbs were getting twisted around each other. I felt my mind quipping a quick satire of my puzzled thoughts – “How do you do a being of having what you know . . . ?” and remembered that gloriously circular book title, What You Don’t Know That You Don’t Know . . .
He interrupted my thoughts to explain. “Have you ever heard anyone talk about goal-setting with the terms, ‘Have . . . Do . . . Be . . . ?’ Have the things you want to have . . . Do the things you want to do . . . Be the kind of person you want to be . . . ?”
I nodded that I had.
“The way I’ve found that works best is to focus on being first. Once you achieve that, doing and having come naturally. If you approach it the other way around, you can spend a lifetime not accomplishing your goals. Being first is actually easier, because being begins in your mind. Anybody can be anything, anytime he or she wants.”
I confess, that didn’t completely clear it up for me – and I knew that he knew that.
“Well, I know one thing,” I ventured. “We’re doing talk about this, but I’m also keeping you from being a Little League coach.”
“Right you are!” He seemed amused and delighted that I’d taken a stab at knowing what I was talking about. “I’d like to talk some more with you about being and accomplishing – but let’s have a conversation about that after practice. Okay?”
And back we went to join our “trainers.”
Click here to read: Chapter 7: Asking Right Questions