One of my favorite books of all time is a book called the Go-Giver sold about a million copies and is written by the man you are about to meet who is a long-time friend of mine, Bob Burg. He coauthored that book and several others with John David Mann, who was also a long time friend of mine. And they turned it into a Go-Giver series. His, their newest parable is called the Go-Giver influencer, but Bob and I met, I believe through Zig Ziglar way back in the day. And that was how we got connected. And then we’ve just known each other over the years. He is a hall of fame speaker. He BB for so many great companies, even a former us president speaks all all over the world. And, and these days is, is more focused on just building up a community and impact and people from home in, in a world of COVID like we all are. And we hadn’t connected in a while. And so Bob, I just, man, I’m, I’m honored that you’re here. My friend, it’s good to see you. Oh,
The honor’s mine were already one of my all timeFavorite people, which I believe, you know,
I hope you know that.
Well, I thank you. I, you know, it’s funny because I knew you personally, bef long before I read the Go-Giver, there’s, there’s a few of author friends that I have where it’s like, I don’t actually end up reading their book until years after I know them. And, and once I read the Go-Giver, I was like, Oh, now I know why we hit it off. We have such a shared philosophy. And for, for people that don’t know, haven’t heard of the Go-Giver you know, I certainly want to hear the story about you, how you’ve built your business in your personal brand. So what we talk about on this show, but I, I feel like it’s so interconnected to the message and the principle that you teach in your parables specifically, the Go-Giver. So can you like, just give us the, the, the premise and the introduction to what the Go-Giver concept is all about?
Oh, sure. The, the basic premise, and it’s actually very simple one, and that is that shifting your focus and, and this is where it really begins shifting your focus from getting to giving. And when we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others, understanding that doing so is not only a, a more pleasant way of conducting business. It’s actually the most financially profitable way as well. And, and, and it’s important to note, I think that when we say that it’s not for some, you know, Wu Wei out there magical mystical reasons. It, it actually makes very rational, logical sense when you’re that person who can take your focus off of yourself and place it on making other people’s lives better, right. Helping them solve their challenges, helping them get what they want help helping to bring them closer to happiness.
Right? However, that, that ends up working out through what you do. If people feel good about you, people want to get to know you, they like you, they trust you. They want to be a part of your life. They want to do business with you. They want to refer you and introduce you and tell others about you. So, you know, that’s really you know, where, where it comes from. And, but it has to be very genuine. It has to be authentic. You have to not, and I know you are, and, and I know the people you teach and who you coach and mentor are as well. It has to really come from a place of, of wanting to help, desiring to bring that kind of value to others.
Yeah. And I, you know, I know you’re, you’re such a proponent of like the free enterprise system in general. And, you know, I think like what you said, there’s a heart part of this, of just being, you know, thinking about other people, which I agree with so much. And I’m so aligned on and was an area that I’ve, I’ve had to grow and continue to have to grow constantly and actively pursue. That brings a level of satisfaction and joy, but there is also a shocking element to this, that money somehow shows up as a by-product of this. Why do you still believe that? Why do you believe that? What other evidence do you have, you know, in, with your, the success of your own personal brand or other people that, that make you go, if you trust this, it will work
Because it’s not something you have to trust on blind faith. It’s, it’s actually the only thing in a free market that’s ever been proven to work. Now let’s, let’s clarify when we say free, what we mean is no one is forced to do business with others. People do it on their own volition. Now this should not be confused with cronyism where, you know, as we know you know, whether big businesses, special interests, whatever, through their lobbyists on K street, basically by the influence of politicians to make laws and rules and regulations that benefit, that’s not what we’re talking about. That is not capitalism. That is cronyism in a free market. People only buy because they believe it’s in their best interest to do so. Right. But this is great because it means that that entrepreneur whose focus is on bringing value to others, right?
Pleasing that other person, helping them get what they want. That’s the person who, you know, let’s put it this way. I used to sit when I used to speak at sales conferences, you know, back before the COVID days when we actually went places to speak at conferences, I, you know, I’d be sitting in front of a room full of all these salespeople. And I’d say, I know nobody’s going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet, right. They’re not going to buy from you because you need the money and they’re not gonna even gonna buy from you because you’re a really nice person they’re going to buy from you only because they believe that it’s in their best interest to do so. And in a free market, which all I guarantee you you know, you and me and everyone listening, watching this, we, this is how we operate because no one has to buy from any of us. Right. It, that’s the only reason why anyone’s going to do business with us. So there’s nothing that we need to have, you know, blind faith about if we don’t please that other person, if we don’t bring immense value to them, they’re not doing business with us.
And how does that, how has that showed up in your career? I mean, you know, you sell millions of books between all your books. You’ve got all of these, you know, places that you spoke at. And I know you’ve spoken at some of the largest, I mean, you mentioned the sales meetings. I know it’s more than that, but specifically in the world of sales, you have spoken at some of the biggest and largest you know, kind of sales gatherings, you know, is that a philosophy that you carried into your career early on as a personal brand, and it helps you, or is this something you kind of learned along the way that amplified what you were doing? I think
There are two aspects to that. And it’s a great question. One is I was very fortunate, very blessed to be born to two great people who they were all about bringing value to others. So I got to see that as an example, now, as I grew up and got into the business world, you know, I, I think I kind of lost my way for a while. And I was around people who did things in a way that probably weren’t the best example and in some word, but some weren’t, you know, and so I don’t know what if I was necessarily on the right track. I think for a while it became more. Now I always had a great product or service I was representing when I sold for other companies. So that wasn’t the issue. It was a matter of the focus being on myself and the sale.
Okay. and I remember that I was in kind of a, kind of, I was in a sales slump and I came back to the office one day and I saw a guy there and a much older guy. He was not even in the sales department. I think he was in the engineering department. Nice guy didn’t say much, but he was one of these people and we’ve all met, you know that when, whenever he did say something, it was always very profound. Sure. And I think he saw me as sort of a Joe in the Go-Giver, which I would write about 25 years later with John David Mann. But I think he saw me as that young up and coming ambitious, aggressive, you know, nice guy, but whose focus was on himself, but not where it should be. And he said to me, can I give you some advice?
Fortunately, I’ve always been a pretty good student when it comes to listening to people around me. And I said, absolutely, please do. And he said, Berg, he was a last name kind of guy. He said, bird, if you want to make a lot of money in sales, he said, don’t have making money as your target. Your target, he said is serving others. Now, when you hit the target, you’ll get a reward. And that reward will come in the form of money. And you can do with that money, whatever you choose, but never forget the money is simply the reward for hitting the target. It ain’t the target itself. Your target is serving others and Rory that’s when it hit me that great salesmanship is never about the sales person. Great salesmanship is never about the products or services as important as those are. Great. Salesmanship is always about the other person. It’s about the people whose lives you choose to touch with the value you provide. It’s the people whose lives are a little bit better just because you were part of it. And I think when we go with that attitude, which is much more like my parents’ attitude than, than the people who I kind of started to learn from, I think we go with that attitude. We’re nine steps ahead of the game in a 10 step game.
Yeah. I mean, amen. It’s, it’s, it’s so good. And I mean, when I say go-givers one of my favorite books, Shaw, like I read a ton, I love it. And I’m telling you, this is like one of my top five all time favorite books. I mean, I think because, and it’s, it’s, it’s shocking to me, how rare you hear this message that you’re talking about, and particularly in the world of success, it’s all about achieve grind, hustle, grow. It’s a very centered message. It’s a very self-serving accomplish acquire, like, you know, grow your influence, grow your title. And, you know, I just am so aligned and believe with in the same that, that all of those things happen as a by-product of the number of people that you reach and the amount of value you provide. And I think it’s so, so eloquent. So, so tell us a story about the go giver. Like, did you, I mean, a million copies of a book is, is amazing. I mean, this is so few get there. How did you get the book deal? How did you meet John David Mann? Did this, did you guys like light up the bestseller list right away? Like, was it easy to write? It’s a parable, right. So did you, did you know you wanted to write a parable? Like what’s the, what’s the story behind the success of this book?
I can answer those really pretty easily. At first it came about because years and years ago, I had a book out called endless referrals. The sunrise with network, your everyday contacts into sales. It was basically a book on business networking, creating relationships, really for entrepreneurs and salespeople who knew they had a great product or service, they were proud of it. They knew how much of the value it brought, but they, they didn’t necessarily feel comfortable with the process of going out into their communities and creating those know like, and trust relationships, right. That they didn’t know how to associate. I was a how to guide that’s what it was, but I’d always read a lot of parallels, whether it was books like OD Mandino’s greatest salesman in the world or Babylon.
Oh, another good one.
I’m just trying to think, you know, back in the the late seventies, early eighties, doctors, Blanchard and Johns, and I’m a one minute series and then friends of ours, like Chris Weidner and certainly John Gordon, and so many people who have these magnificent you know, books. And what I w I found is that, you know, I’d read these parables and always enjoyed them so much learned a lot in a very short period of time. I think, you know, as, you know stories connect on a deeper level than a how to book, don’t get me wrong. I love how to books. I read hundreds if not thousands of them. But I think parables connect on a different level. So I thought, what if we could take the basic premise of endless referrals, which is all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people. They know like, and trust people have heard me say this for 30 years, probably they’re nauseated. When they hear me say that, by this point, I said, how could we take that and turn it into a parable? So I just thought, well, so what’s the, what’s the basic
What’s the essence of a person who’s able to very quickly and sustainably create those those know, like, and trust relationships. Well, they’re givers, right? They’re always giving value. Their focus is on giving value. So that part was easy to come up with the title, but go giver. But it was, it was when I, when I, when John David Mann agreed to, to co-author it and be really the lead writer and storyteller, because he’s a genius I’m a how to write. But so what happened was John was the editor-in-chief of a magazine I used to write for, and every month I’d submit my column and he would write back. I’d never met him personally at that point. And it would always be just so kind and so fantastic and so, so much better than what it was. And he, but he was always very polite and humble and say, you know, is this okay?
I put this here does this honor. And the running joke was that every month I’d, you know, write back and say, not only is it okay, you write my stuff better than I write my stuff. You know, when I came time for the book, John was the only one I wanted to write this with back then, John wasn’t well-known outside of his niche. Okay. Now this guy is the, the the co-op writer of choice. Whenever an agent or publisher has a celebrity, a CEO, a athlete that they right. But back then, very few people outside of his, his niche.
Speaker 4: (16:12)
Fortunately, I knew him. So I had asked him, so
He was still busy though. And so one day he and his fiance now, his wife, Ana they were at her mom’s in on the West coast of Florida. They took a four hour drive. We, we had a three hour dinner and discuss the book and what we thought it could be. He he called me back about three weeks later and said, you know what, Anna and I talked it together. I think it’s a good idea. Let’s do this. So it really only took us a few months to write the story, but it took us 25 rejections over the course of a year from the various New York publishing houses to actually find the, the pub now along the way. And you know, of course, some of them were, well, we don’t need another parable. There’s already too many. Some, it’s just not what we’re looking for other
Speaker 4: (17:01)
Agent at the time. Yeah.
Yeah. The McBride literary agency. And they were absolutely fantastic, but we always listen to what the, the publishers who said no, and we listened to what they said. And sometimes it was just, it just wasn’t the right fit or whatever. But other times they Al they had advice that that was really good. And so
Speaker 4: (17:22)
We kept on, you know, with chiseling it
And improving it. And what we really did was improve the marketing package for okay. Because that kind of came up, you know, a whole bunch. And, and and finally, I think the 26th one, if I’m, if I’m correct, and that was portfolio of business, division of a penguin random house, they loved it. And I’ll tell you what, Rory, they have been the perfect publishing, supportive and knowledgeable, and, you know, you know, they’re rooting for it. And so it’s just been great. So it happened exactly when it was, when it was supposed to. But yeah.
And did you have a big old lawn? Did you do like a big old launch? I mean, this of course is back in the days, mostly before, you know, virtual summits and funnels and lead magnets and all that kind of stuff, but, but did you have a big launch plan? Did you sell a bunch of units in like opening week or did it, was it kind of a slower build or like what, how did that happen?
So for that, we, we did put together a really nice size launch. I, you know, I don’t really do those anymore when I have new books and I don’t really see, excuse me, them being as effective as they used to be. Although that might just be me also, because I also know there’s launches that do wonderfully well for people. So I don’t want in any way to say it’s a, you know, this or that, but but back then, you know, we, we did a, a really big launch, but also sold a whole bunch of books to different companies that were going to have me come in to speak. And I really lowered my feet to do that because we really wanted in the first few weeks to really have a big buildup a bit. Right. And and, and that helped, you know, get the book on the wall street journal bestsellers list pretty quickly.
And we’re very fortunate because the early adopters of the book were not the people who really needed to read it the early adopters. Cause we, we received emails from many of them. They were simply people who were already extremely successful at huge organizations. They were the, this or that and said, what you guys wrote is just what I is, how I built my business. Okay. But nobody believes me. So they were getting our books to cut up, put through their organizations because you know how it is, the third party says it and it’s Oh yeah, well, of course. And you know, and so, so that really helped as well. So there were a whole lot of good things that came together at the, at the same time.
Yeah. Well, that’s, you know, that’s one of the things that’s so powerful about being a speaker and publishers, you know, even today love working with speakers. Cause they know if you’re a speaker you’re going to be out in front of a lot of people and they’re going to buy books. And that was how we launched take the stairs. I mean, we were doing, doing deals with early clients to get them to order lots and lots of copies. And I was basically leveraging my speaking as a, as a carrot to get them to do it. And we generated a bunch of pre-orders that way. Did you? And, and for me, I wanted to be a, I wanted to be a speaker and kind of became an author out of necessity. And then now I kind of view myself as more of like an author, like more of a content creator than even I do a speaker. But how did speaking happen alongside is, did you, did you start speaking first and were you really successful as a speaker and then you kind of bolted this on, did they kind of grow together? Like what was, how did you get, how did you get your first speaking gigs and when did it happen in relation to like the Go-Giver?
Yeah, so I was in, in sales of course, and then I was sales manager of that company. And I started after, when I was a big student of sales, you know, so I was, I was, you know, reading zigs books and Tom Hopkins books and, and getting the back then it was cassette tape albums. Right. and I, I was just a total student of sales and I went to a a seminar once and at the UN I bought the person’s tapes in the back afterwards. And in the back of his Syria, you know, the, the album, there was a page that said, if you want to make some extra money speaking and selling these tapes, call our office, which I did. And they taught me how to speak at all these places for free every civic club, group, organization, anybody that would have me in to do these 25 minute talks and then like, you know, a three minute commercial at the end.
And then in boom. And so, and I did that for a couple of years and you know, sold a ton for them. And it was great training, but eventually I wanted to kind of go into my own with my own sort of things that were working for me that I put together. And, and and so I just, you know, I actually, I joined the national speakers association, which you and I are both part of it. You had mentioned about the helping you, you were inducted into the hall of fame, I think. Was it last year, two years ago?
2019. I was, I went in, I think it was the year. Yeah. Just like just, I guess two years ago.
Yeah. So congratulations. And I remember I was not at that convention, but I remember when I saw it, cause I opened up the thing to look to see who were the CPAs, which is the, you know, the hall of fame and I saw you and I said, Oh man, that is so wonderful. He so deserves it. That was wonderful. And and yeah, so so it, because at, at national speakers association, you know, you, you, who, who were there, the people who are successful have successful speaking businesses. So I learned from them how they did it. I’m a big believer, Rory that you, you know, that it’s not necessary. It’s usually not productive to try to create the wheel. Right. You invent the wheel, especially when it’s already been invented. I’m a big believer in learning systems. So long as those systems are congruent with your values I define a system as simply the process of predictably achieving the goal based on a logical and specific set of how to principles, the key being predictability of it’s been proven that by doing a, you’ll get the desired results of B, you know, all you need to do is a and continue to do you’re going to get the dessert.
Right. So I learned from those who did it, and then at one of the meetings Randy Pennington, I remember, I don’t know if you know, Randy great, great guy. And he had said, you know, Berg, you really should write a book because it’s going to help you position your side. I didn’t want to why write a book? I was selling my cassette tapes up there, you know, doing programs and having a lot of fun, doing that. And and you know, doing pretty well for a couple of years, but, but he said, you know, it’s going to help you market yourself better. You’re going to be better position. You’re going to get higher fees. You’re going to, you know, so I did. And that’s when I wrote endless referrals and he was right. It was a wonderful marketing tool, but I’m like, you, I I’m like you. I started out as a speaker who wrote for utilitarian reasons. Now I consider myself more of a writer and content creator who’s who speaks.
Yeah, it’s amazing. I mean, NSA, I mean, that’s where I met Zig Ziglar and Brian, Tracy. I mean, like just walking around the hallways, I mean, it’s incredible the people that you meet there. And that was such, such, such an important part of my journey. And then the other thing that’s interesting is the more that I am around these really ultra successful speakers and authors, almost all of us have a story about how we started our career at one point, doing speeches for free selling something for someone else who was career track or Fred Pryor, or in our case, we, we, our former business, it was our business, but that was how we started. We would speak for free. And then we would sell a ticket for like, I think Anthony Robbins, he sold tickets. I want to say for Jim Rome. And you know, there’s Amy Porterfield used to who today is like a big celebrity. She used to work with Anthony Robbins. I’m pretty sure, like, it’s, it’s amazing how, you know, national speakers association, reading books and then learning to speak by under kind of someone else’s tutor, ledger, umbrella is such a common, common,
Isn’t it? Yeah. There’s a pattern there. Definitely.
Yeah. Well Bob, where, where do you want people to go if they want, if they want to connect with you and learn about all the things that you’re up to and like what you’re doing these days.
Yeah. Best places. Burg B U R g.com and pretty much everything’s there.
See, that’s a whole level, like Oprah goes by just her first name, but just when your last name only that’s like next level.
And it’s also, you know, what it is though, Rory it’s age, because I remember I, you know, I’m 63. So when the internet really kind of started to be out there a little bit, and it was just, there was a who I knew who said, and he was from the Silicon Valley and, and he called me and he said, bird, I want you to get Berg. This thing called burg.com. I said, why would I want something called burg.com? I’m never going to, he said, trust me on this one. He actually walked me through showing me how to get it, but a am I glad I did? But you know, again, this is back of that. I think that was the mid nineties or something late nineties or something like that. So it was age more than anything, more than anything else
That is classic. Well, Bob, thanks for sharing these stories and thanks for your wisdom. And I mean, just at, you know, a career, as you mentioned now, a couple of decades have gone by of just promoting and teaching these simple truths that continue to be true and they’ll continue to be true. And you’ve made such a difference on our, on our industry and our profession and and just on the world, man. So we wish you the best.
Thank you. Likewise, my friend and brother, I appreciate you.