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5/2/2013 8:06:15 AM -
How to win friends and influence people...

I’m really kind of a nobody. I’m a high school football coach. I’m not a world-class powerlifter, I don’t own a multimillion dollar private training facility, and I haven’t invented any kind of crazy training system with a trademarked name and thousands of people around the world following my collection of social media pages.

What I’m fortunate enough to have, however, is a network of people who match the above description. I’ve developed and cultivated this network over a number of years, to the point where I’ve met and stayed in touch with a lot of people.

This morning, I had an interaction with someone fairly well-known that made me think about a few things regarding what people in this industry can do to develop a reputation, whether it’s a good one or a bad one.

There are several types of people in this business. I’ve seen people with limited ability become phenomenal successes, but I’ve also seen some of the most knowledgeable people in the world fail to be able to even secure a job. This morning I was reminded of why this is sometimes the case, so I decided to list a few things that may help.

1. RELATIONSHIPS ARE A TWO-WAY STREET: When someone asks you how you’re doing, tell them. That’s the easy part, but a lot of people miss the next step. You have to ask back. Most “disliked” people in the business haven’t figured that out. You’ll ask them how they’re doing, you’ll get a full litany in response, and that’s it. Most people don’t want to deal with narcissists, so even if you’re not interested in someone else’s current situation or well-being, you should at least fake it, if only briefly. This should be a total reflex action:

“How are you?”

“Good, how are you?”

2. QUID PRO QUO: This is a “favor” business. People do each other favors. They ask for stuff, stuff is asked of them, and it’s almost like a barter system. The thing with that, however, is that you can’t be a complete taker. If you ask someone for a favor, something has to be done in return. Too many times, you’ll see people who’ve made names for themselves in the industry just kind of sit back and expect these types of favors without offering anything in return. That’s not how things work, and it’s a quick way to cut off avenues that could potentially be helpful to you.

3. SAY “THANK YOU.”: Obviously, we all know this—or at least most of us do—but you’d be surprised at how many people in this industry don’t know the value of a simple follow-up thank you note (or the concept of saying “thanks” in person). Even if you have nothing to offer in return to the person who’s shared knowledge, given you their time, or done you a favor, the least you can do is say thank you. I’m shocked at how often I hear this complain from people, but I guess at this point I shouldn’t be.

4. DO UNSOLICITED SHIT: I realize that I’ve taken the first three steps here to talk about everything being a two-way street, but there’s value to unsolicited, unconditional acts of kindness, as well. Want to make friends or connections in this industry? Show people you have value to them by simply doing useful shit with no strings attached. Many times, this will be a complete waste of time and energy. Sometimes, however, these acts will be returned to you tenfold, making the practice worthwhile.

5. BE RESPECTFUL, BUT DON’T SET YOURSELF UP: Too many times in relationships between coaches, or between “training celebrities” and “regular guys,” I’ve seen the non-famous person be far too deferential and ass-kissing. This sets you up for failure, because if you do it, the “big time” guy 1) Won’t take you seriously, and 2) Will, if he’s an asshole, take advantage of your hero worship for as long as it lasts. Most successful people in this business aren’t THAT far removed from being just like you. Consider yourself a respectful equal, and don’t come off like you’re trying to kiss people’s asses or force “bro-hood” on them.

6. UNDERSTAND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF THE FACT THAT EVERYONE HAS AN EGO: I’ve done more than my share of behind-the-scenes favors for a lot of people in this industry. So have a lot of other people. One of the reasons we get into this shit in the first place, however, is that we have something of a narcissistic streak. I know I do. I still take a lot of pride in the fact that I was (and still am) a good athlete—and that I’m currently a good coach. That makes me chafe at being “big timed,” because my ego is probably bigger than the guy doing it—which makes things that much uglier when the “big timer” comes around a few weeks later looking for another favor. Understand that people, even if you don’t value them for anything other than their services, likely value themselves far more than you’re aware of. In other words, we’re not all here for you.

This isn’t directed at anyone, really. It’s just a collection of thoughts derived from a lot of experience in this industry. There are MANY, MANY great people in this business, and I have the good fortune to be friends with many of them. Honestly, it’s only a few assholes who poison the well, and you learn who they are—and stop dealing with them—quickly.

Do your job, be gracious, don’t be a taker, and you’ll be well ahead of the game.

Angry Coach

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