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Event Spotlight

Keith Ferrazzi | University of Phoenix

Who's Got Your Back
by Juanita Berge, 1 Jul 2009

University of Phoenix joins forces with Keith Ferrazzi to bring you the 2009 Who's Got Your Back nationwide book tour. A true believer in the power of peer support, University of Phoenix has been helping to create lifeline relationships among students since its inception in 1976.

Keith Ferrazzi transformed professional networking with his bestselling book Never Eat Alone, which shared the secret of his impressive climb to the top: powerful marketing acumen, deep generosity, and a remarkable ability to connect with others. Never Eat Alone has been recognized by Forbes as one of "the best business books" every year since 2005. Both Forbes and Inc. have called him "one of the world's most connected individuals."

You are climbing your company's corporate ladder at a good pace. Your current position could only be described as a success, when out of the blue you receive a new offer. A dream offer really. One you'd dared not hope for at this stage of the game. You're excited, thrilled, but also apprehensive – filled with a strange foreboding. It's probably just a natural fear of the unknown, some angst about leaving the well-trodden halls of your current company. You're loyal to them to be sure, yet this new offer is just too good to pass up. Isn't it? Who do you talk to about this? Your closest career allies happen to be your boss and a co-worker that started when you did. Surely there must be someone besides your parents to talk to about such a monumental career move?

If you've ever experienced this schizophrenic state of affairs have I found the book for you. Keith Ferrazzi, a well-known name in business circles, was in town June 9th speaking about his latest book, Who's Got Your Back. Sponsored by the University of Phoenix, the NY Times bestselling author spoke to a mostly full Park Hyatt ballroom. Probably best known for his first book, Never Eat Alone, Ferrazi's second offering has made the best seller lists as well. Who's Got Your Back follows the premise that all of us need to develop a team of people to provide support and advice in our professional lives. Trusted people with whom to establish lifeline relationships. A few key people who have our backs, whom one can talk to about anything and who would encourage and support, give feedback and perspective, tell the truth even if it's a truth we might rather not hear. People who will hold us accountable every step of the way. As Ferrazzi puts it, "Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you will find an indispensible circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues. These groups come in all forms and sizes and can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of both professional and personal life, but what they all have in common is a unique kind of connection with each other that I've come to call lifeline relationships. These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed far more than others." His book provides us with a step-by-step guide to developing those lifeline relationships.

The first part of the book takes us through full expositions of the four mind-sets that are necessary to creating those relationships. They are:

Generosity – How can you contribute to others every day? How can you use your talents to serve others? What do you have to offer? In a business setting, where people are usually distracted and in a hurry, leading with generosity is a great way to get someone's attention. The more generous you are to other people in offering first your humanity, and then your knowledge, advice, and talents, the more they'll be willing to share their concerns – and the more you'll be able to help them meet them.

Vulnerability - Being vulnerable takes incredible courage. It is a crucial mind-set to master if you hope to build a circle of trusted advisors in your life. Moreover, it's the partner and predecessor necessary for candor – the courage to voice the truth about yourself and others, and to receive the truth in return. It's the courage to reveal your inner thoughts, warts and all, to another person.

Candor – The ability to engage in healthy, caring, purposeful criticism - as opposed to turf wars, nit-picking, or simply turning our backs and not communicating about issues at all. Once we accept that our shortcomings do not negate our merits, we can compartmentalize criticism and not let it overwhelm us.

Accountability – Ultimately the most important one in achieving and sustaining long-lasting success. Some semi-forceful reminders to keep us on track and going forward. Someone to hold you accountable for your goals.

Who's Got Your Back    Who's Got Your Back

The book has an anecdotal style, despite its many lists and numbered discussion points. It's an easy read. The next section is devoted to "Building Your Dream Team." Ferrazzi takes us on a nine-step process of how to find and work with a trusted group of lifeline relationships.

  1. Articulate your vision – As with anything in life, you need to choose a direction. You'll need to identify some broad, forward-thinking goals that describe your aspirations.

  2. Find your lifeline relationships – Ideally, you should look for people who share the same values regarding your dreams and goals.

  3. Practice the art of the long, slow dinner – Its essence is to build trust, openness and vulnerability. It's like a courtship, where the four Mind-Sets come into play.

  4. Broaden your goal-setting strategy – You need to identify not just your ultimate objectives but the new skills and knowledge you'll need to grow and achieve them. This means setting two kinds of goals, learning goals and performance goals.

  5. Create your Personal Success Wheel – Establish a combination of learning and performance goals across seven sectors of life: personal, professional, financial, wellness, intellectual, spiritual, and giving back. Represented by the wheel.

  6. Learn to fight!- When trusted partners get together to refine and debate goals, it's sparring. Sparring is a vitally important exercise, one that's much more intense than a conversational long slow dinner. And while the back–and-forth of sparring can get heated, at heart the give-and-take among you and your advisors is all about improvement and learning, changing and growing.

  7. Diagnose your weaknesses – Understanding your weaknesses can end up being the source of your greatest strength. Those who understand what's holding them back are already moving forward.

  8. Commit to Improvement – Commit to acting on the understanding you've gained – by keeping your word.

  9. Fake it till you make it – then make it stick - Escape the self-fulfilling prophecy that you can't or won't. Pretend that you can, and you will. Then learn to sustain it.

Follow this carefully laid plan and, according to the author, you will achieve the changes you want to make in your career. As Ferrazzi says, "The concept of reaching out to others for support isn't about changing who you are. It's about enlisting the help and advice of others to help you become who you can be."

The audience had many devoted Ferrazzi followers. There was quite a line of fans seeking his signature in their copies of Who's Got Your Back? and a brisk business of book and CD sales in the back of the room. Prior to his presentation, two different people told me virtually the same thing – that he moved his audience in an authentic way. The organization that Ferrazzi heads, Ferrazzi Greenlight, is a consulting group that implements the relationship mission outlined in his book on a corporate level. It is very successful. An offshoot of that is the Greenlight Community, peer-based mutual success groups in numerous cities, which has worldwide participation. You can check out this movement for yourself at

Print Article  Brought to you by: Keith Ferrazzi | University of Phoenix

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