“Nice, smart people succeed.”
Love is the Killer App, page 195
I grew up believing that real, substantial, “big-time” success in the business world is only available to mean, ruthless people willing to win at the other’s expense and that my honesty and tendency to show compassion for others would ultimately shorten my career path. Like you, perhaps, I was led to believe that there is only so much “stuff” (e.g. money, wealth, property, market) to go around and that “winning” in the business world was about eliminating competition and climbing over bodies to get to the top (not literally, of course.) And, it was about grabbing as much of the available “stuff” as possible on the way.
I started my corporate career with one of the largest accounting firms in the world. Despite the existence of a well-worn career path in that firm, from new employee to partner, I was pretty much resigned to achieving minimal success in the business world because I refused to join the ranks of the mad dogs in the dog-eat-dog business world – people that endeavored to climb to the top of the corporate ladder.
My views about my career path changed, however, when I encountered Tim Sander’s book Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. In Love is the Killer App, Sanders promotes a new way to succeed in the business world, a way that calls for business professionals to share their intangibles: their knowledge, their network, and their compassion. He refers to this way of being in the business world as “the Lovecat Way.”
The Lovecat Way
“‘Be a lovecat,” I replied. ‘And that means: Offer your wisdom freely. Give away your address book to everyone who wants it. And always be human.’”
Love is the Killer App, page 3
In opposition to the “mad-dog” way of doing business (i.e. fighting your way to the top at the expense of others), the Lovecat Way offers a way to succeed AND be nice. Instead of hoarding knowledge (since “knowledge is power”,) guarding your connections (so that others can’t benefit from them,) and being a cold, calculating business warrior, the Lovecat Way rests on the sensible sharing of your knowledge, your network, and your compassion. Sanders posits that over time sharing these intangibles will help you create value in excess of what your employer pays you.
When Sanders suggests sharing knowledge, he means habitually sharing “everything you have learned and everything you continue to learn”. By sharing your network Sanders means sharing your “entire web of relationships”. And, by sharing compassion, Sanders means sharing “that personal quality that machines can never possess – the human ability to reach out with warmth, whether through eye contact, physical touch, or words.
What do you get in return for following the Lovecat Way? Sanders lists 6 career-enhancing benefits:
- Benefit 1: You build an outstanding brand as a person
- Benefit 2: You create an experience
- Benefit 3: You have access to people’s attention
- Benefit 4: You harness the power of positive presumption
- Benefit 5: You receive exceptional feedback
- Benefit 6: You gain personal satisfaction
After making a compelling business case for following the Lovecat Way using these 6 benefits, Sanders provides details on how to increase and then share your intangibles wisely.
Regularly acquire and share knowledge
“Here’s a practical four-step program designed to make knowledge work for you: (1) aggregation, (2) encoding, (3) processing, and (4) application.”
Love is the Killer App, page 71
To remain valuable in today’s business world requires continuous learning. While acknowledging that there are many ways to learn something, Sanders strongly recommends that we read books as our primary way of increasing our knowledge. Simply reading any book through once, however, won’t suffice. For people interested in truly increasing their value and sharing it with others he prescribes the following:
Aggregate – find the right material to read. Make sure you’re reading material that will help you help others. Peruse newspapers, magazines and bookshelves in search of material relevant to your field of business.
Encode – you’ll be reading for future use, not entertainment. So, Sanders recommends that you make notes and comments in the margins of the book and that you index the book’s main thoughts and quotes on the book’s inside front and rear covers.
Process – commit the main thoughts to memory by reviewing major sections before reading further. Additionally, you might try writing an outline of the book as a way of anchoring the material in your memory.
Application – create value by sharing what you’ve gained from the book with others. There are many ways to do this. You could write a summary or review for publication online. You could join a book club. If an appropriate book club doesn’t exist in your area, go onto meetup.com and create a club of your own. (Or join our Actionable Business Book Club!)
I’ve been following this process for years now and can vouch for the effectiveness of the approach. In fact, I now have friends and colleagues who regularly contact me just to find out what I’m reading!
Add value by sharing your network
“While networking may seem like a random process of meeting people, recalling names, scooping up business cards, and eating an occasional meal, you’ll do best if you follow a system such as mine, which is composed of (1) collecting, (2) connecting, and (3) disappearing.”
Love is the Killer App, page 119
As you can tell from the quote above, Sanders is as deliberate and systematic about building and sharing a network as he is about acquiring and sharing knowledge. In the first step, collecting, Sander recommends that you decide on categories for grouping your contacts before you even begin collecting business cards. He groups his contacts into six basic groups: coworkers, peers, customers, family, music fans and specific trade-conference attendees. (Obviously, we would all need to create our own categories.) He also suggests that you create a habit of updating your network information on a regular basis. For example, I’ve made a habit of updating my networking files every Friday afternoon before I leave the office.
The second step, connecting, involves looking for opportunities to connect the people in your network. When you’re talking with people, listen for cues as to what kind of value they offer, for what they do. At the same time, you need to listen for signals about their particular needs or things they are looking for. This will equip you to then orchestrate connections between the people in your network.
The third step, disappearing, is my favorite. Sander’s Lovecat Way focuses on adding value by sharing your network freely and without any expectation that you’ll receive anything in return for making the connection. He points out that when you make a habit of introducing your contacts to each other and then letting them know that you expect something in return, they will begin resisting your introductions. So, when you introduce people, make sure they know that you aren’t expecting them to “pay you back” in some way.
In the section devoted to ways that you can share your compassion, Sanders follows the same pattern he established in the sections on freely sharing your knowledge and network; first he makes a case for more compassion in the business world and then he provides examples of smart (and safe) ways to show compassion.
After reading Love is the Killer App for the second time (part of the “process” step for me,) I’ve begun to look for ways to share my network by introducing my LinkedIn connections to each other.
In the comments below, let us know…
What Lovecat technique are you prepared to implement in your life?