Bob Burg is a sought-after speaker at company leadership and sales conferences sharing the platform with everyone from today’s business leaders and broadcast personalities to even a former U.S. President.
Bob's Favorite Books (Click on the links below to buy):
* Secrets of Closing the Sale by Zig Ziglar
E-Myth by Michael Gerber
Bob is an advocate, supporter and defender of the Free Enterprise system, believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve. He is also an unapologetic animal fanatic, and is a past member of the Board of Directors of Furry Friends Adoption, Clinic & Ranch in his town of Jupiter, Florida.
Bob is the author of a number of books on sales, marketing and influence, with total book sales of well over a million copies. His book, The Go-Giver, coauthored with John David Mann, itself has sold over 850,000 copies and it has been translated into 28 languages. His and John’s newest parable in the Go-Giver Series is The Go-Giver Influencer.
Tools / Resources mentioned
Gmail, Xero for accounting, and Intercom as a CRM
Bob started his journey as a news anchor but switched to Sales and later into speaking. His first realization to be a successful entrepreneur is to grow from inside which manifests in success outside.
Bob’s entrepreneurial journey started with a side hustle of selling someone else’s audio cassette program and later his own cassette program. After his speaking engagements became paid engagements, Bob started venturing into writing books to establish himself as an expert.
Bob then talked about his book ‘The Go-Giver Influencer’ which is about influencing people through pull as opposed to push. This type of influencing makes everybody a winner and longer-lasting.
Bob talked about his philosophy of being ‘an advocate, supporter, and defender of the free enterprise’ and the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to the number of people they serve. Being entrepreneurial makes the capitalism work and capitalism serves the people far better than any other ‘ism.
Bob’s advice to startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs is to place the interests of others first, build relationships, and follow through with human touch. Bob, based on his own experience, advises entrepreneurs to embrace change as change is inevitable whether you like it or not. Tells entrepreneurs that they don’t think they need to go alone and rely on mentors and having a system.
Episode Transcript (Click to expand)
Ramesh: Hello everyone. Welcome to the agile entrepreneur podcast. This is your host Ramesh Dontha. This podcast is about starting and building your own business with purpose, passion, perseverance on possibilities. Today I'm very, very honored to have a distinguished guest. His name is Bob Burg. You might already know about Bob. Bob is a very sought-after speaker at company leadership and sales conferences, sharing the platform with everyone from today's business leaders and broadcast personalities to even a former us president, Bob is the author of number of books in sales and marketing and influence with total book sales of well over a million copies. Believe it or not, his book, the go giver coauthored with John David Mann. Its self has sold over 850,000 copies and it has been translated into 28 languages and is the latest in the Go-Giver series. John and Bob have worked on this book called the Go-Giver influencer. Bob, welcome.
Bob: Thank you Ramesh. It's so great to be with you. Thank you for having me.
Ramesh: Actually, I don't know where to start. I'll be very honest with you, but I think that this is, because you are so well established by now. I would not start with what you're doing currently because we all know what you're doing currently. I want to go back to how have you started, I'm sure you did not start out as the inks at top 100 influencers of all-time kind of in a pedigree. So, you must have started somewhere. If you could just tell us how you started your journey.
Bob: Well, I began in broadcasting, first on radio and then on television. I was the late-night news anchor for a very, very small network affiliate in the Midwestern United States. So, it didn't pay particularly well, but I’ve got a lot of experience and that was good. But I really wasn't a very good news person and it wasn't long before I, as I like to say, graduated into sales. Now the problem was I knew nothing about selling and the company that I started working for, their training, let's say, wasn't very good. Actually. It wasn't that it wasn't good, it was non-existent. I was kind of on my own. And I floundered for a few months. And then while I was in a bookstore one day, and this is about 40 years ago or so, so quite a while ago, I came across a couple of books. One was by Tom Hopkins, one was by Zig Ziglar. And I bought their books and I began to study them, and I really, really studied them. And then just as importantly, of course, I began to apply the information they were teaching. And in a fairly quick period of time, my sales began to do very well. And you know, at that point I was encouraged, and I began really getting into personal development. I realized right away that that a success in selling, success in business, success as an entrepreneur was really about growing yourself from the inside. And that inside success manifest itself outside. And so, I began reading all the, you know, the great classic, such as how to win friends and influence people, thinking big, think and grow rich, you know, all those. So eventually work my way up to sales manager of another company. And you know, as time went on, I began teaching other people what was working for me and its sort of morphed into a speaking business.
Ramesh: I see. So, it's at some point then you quit sales or is it I don't know if that's the right path you took and then you started a full time into speaking and other engagements.
Bob: Yeah, though I never stopped selling you know, I'm still a sales person to this day. You know, I just sell a different product and myself, you know, as well as our books and various other resources. But no, it's, you know, still selling. But yes, I began a speaking business and like anything else, it's a business and so you need to learn how to sell and market your services and run the business in such a way that it's a, you know, that it's a, a profitable, sustainable business.
Ramesh: Alright. So, one of the things that a we talk a lot about on the show is how do you transition from working for somebody working for yourself. So, you were a sales manager and then you really did quite well because you're investing in yourself in a self-development. And then it was the transition sudden, like you said, I'm not going to work for somebody, I'm going to work for myself. Or was there a like a side hustling kind of way? How, how, how did you manage the transition?
Bob: Yeah, I did it as a side hustle first in that I started, I actually sold someone else's, back then it was audio cassette taped programs. And so, they taught me how to do free speeches all over the place at different civic clubs, groups, organizations, all types of, you know, company, different things where I'd speak for 30 minutes and then I would sell the tapes. And so that was very good experience. So, I did hundreds of talks for free, although I was also able to make some money from it too. And sell a really good product that was the other person's but eventually I decided to, you know, transition into my own business. And I developed my own at the cassette tape program on the topic that I was doing. And eventually once I got to the point where I felt I was ready to make it full time, that's what I did. But it, you know, it was still a struggle at first and there were times that, you know, I didn't know how much longer I was going to be in business and more than one, more than one occasion, I checked the want ads of the newspaper, which many of your listeners may not even know what that is, the want ads or the newspaper back then, that was a big, that was a big thing. But fortunately, I was able to have a couple of things happen at just the right time and it kept me in the business.
Ramesh: Hey Bob, Actually, you touched upon another topic I was going to get into. You said there were some tough times and you are somehow able to manage and some things you know, came through that helped you. Okay. So, if I can touch upon, how did you manage those tough times? Was there an internal grit that you had resilience you had or externally somebody was helping you manage? Or how did you manage those downtimes?
Bob: Well, you know, I mean, downtimes are uncomfortable, so you know, I think when people say, well, just, you know, realize it's all for the best and just have a good attitude. Oh, you do have to have a good attitude, but you do have to realize it's for the best. But that doesn't mean we're happy with it. I mean, it's tough. It's lousy when businesses aren’t good or even when it is good, but it's not sustainable, and so yeah, I mean, you handle it just by handling it. You basically, you sell yourself into success. So, in other words, you know, typically, and this is assuming you're running the business correctly, so that when you have clients and customers, it's profitable. Assuming that's the case, typically you need more clients and customers. So, you continue to sell, and you sometimes may feel like, Oh, this is just, you know, it's hopeless or it's useless, well, that's a decision you've got to make. But the chances are it's not hopeless that if you just keep on prospecting and connecting with people and you know, providing people the opportunity to buy that it's going to happen. Sometimes you just got to work hard your way out of a situation.
Ramesh: So, and then you switched into public speaking. It was the public speaking itself enough for you to sustain your business or what you are selling some product or service. And then public speaking was wrapped around the product or service or how did that mix happen?
Bob: Once I went into business for myself as a speaker and did it full time where it was my own product that I was selling. I had a, again a cassette tape program, which was pretty much my, at that time when I developed, ended up developing a couple of them, but at the time, there was one main cassette program. And what I would do is I would I did charge a fee for speaking. I learned how to market myself as a speaker, as a professional paid speaker. But of course, at that time it was not a very high fee. And so, I also at those events would sell a cassette tape program. And you know, those two together, again created enough income that, you know, I was able to struggle my way through. But you know, after a while, thank goodness it got to a point where it was, where as I like to say, it became sustainable.
Ramesh: Excellent. So, I think in every person's journey I see couple of inflection points. So, things that really you know, transform them from an also ran into no, suddenly an influencer kind of stuff. I mean, what was the transformation in your journey? Was it the speaking thing or afterwards we'll get into the book again, but what were the inflection points in your journey?
Bob: Well, my big challenge with the speaking in terms of the sustainability was I was a one-man operation, so I was selling my engagements and then I was out on the road speaking. And of course, when I'm out in the road speaking, I'm not selling anymore engagements. So there was that cycle right of, and eventually you know, I had to get to a point where I was willing to hire someone part time at first who then grew into full time, who could, you know, help with the marketing and selling and the logistics and the different things that freed me up and made it so I could do what I do best, which was the selling and the speaking. And so, you know, once that happened, But it's always difficult. You know, the question is so often the question is so often asked, when do you know, when do you know how to when the time is right to you know, take someone on. You can't really afford it, but you really can't afford not to. And that's the what you got to just make that decision and go for it. And it can be very, very difficult. I don't know of any magic bullet answer. It was very scary for me when I did it.
Ramesh: I call it working for the business versus working on the business.
Bob: Well, that the key. And I mean, that's, you know, in that goes back to Michael Gerber's excellent books on the E myth and so forth. We've got to be, we've got to set up the business from the start so that as quickly as possible, it is sustainable. But at first you are everything.
Ramesh: That is true. So, Bob, at some point then you grew to become an author and then a very successful author. So how did that writing thing come into being?
Bob: So, this was, it was actually very utilitarian. Okay. I did it because I was at a national speaker’s association meeting. I'd been in business for a year. I was on the cusp of, you know, doing well and a few people there said Burg, if you want to take your business to the next level, you need to write a book. You need to get yourself positioned as the expert. You can also, it's easier to market yourself and sell yourself. When you have a book, there's more credibility and get higher fees, you're more desirable and you know everything. And it turned out to be great advice. So again, it was just utilitarian purposes for, I wrote that book. I didn't really want to write a book. I did it because it was going to help position me better. And it did. After that my books that I wrote after that were because I felt I had something to say that I really wanted to say and wanted to share. And you know, and so all the rest of the books I’ve authored and coauthored have all been for those reasons. But the very first book was because I basically needed to write a book for my business.
Ramesh: Correct. So, Bob if you could talk a little bit about your Go-Giver influencer, I mean, that is a new parable as you call it. What is it about, and then what are your beliefs that you're conveying through the book?
Bob: Well, we really wrote the book because we wanted to take the topic and the concept of influence to a much deeper level. Because influence is so important. When you think about it on a very basic level hat is influence? Well, it can be defined as the ability to move a person or persons to a desired action, usually within the context of a specific goal. Now that's the definition. It's not really the essence of influence though. The essence of influence is pull, pull as opposed to push. We often hear the question; how far can you push a rope? And the answer is not very far, at least not very fast or very effectively. And that's why great influencers don't push. They don't try to push their will on people. They don't try to push people and manipulate people. It's not sustainable.
Bob: And it's typically not even, it's typically not even instantly doable. Sometimes it is, but it's the wrong way to do things. And again, it's not sustainable. Pull or attraction is the way to influence successfully and sustainably. What do I mean by pull or attraction? It's understanding that, and again, I’ll go back to Dale Carnegie, what I believe was his underlying premise in his classic how to win friends and influence people where he wrote, ultimately, people do things for their reasons, not our reasons. So, the most effective influencer knows that they need to ask themselves questions to make sure their focus focuses on the right place, which is the other person. In other words, how does what I'm asking person to do? How does it align with their goals, with their wants, right, with their needs, with their desires? How does what I want this other person to do? How does it align with their values? What problems am I helping them to solve? How am I helping them to be happier? How am I helping them to you know, achieve this or that what have you? And when we ask ourselves these questions thoughtfully, intelligently, genuinely, authentically, not as a way to manipulate another human being and to doing our will, but as a way of building everyone in the process. Now that's influence, that’s influence. You know, I like to say ultimate influence or genuine influences, the ability to work with others in such a way that everyone comes out a winner and being able to deal with others in a way that we make them feel genuinely good about themselves, about the situation and about us. And that's the ultimate in people's skills, which is the big differentiator. People skills is the difference maker between the person who maybe attains a reasonable level of success and that person who just attains enormous levels of success and achievement and seems to have the world just, you know, really eating out of their hands.
Ramesh: So, thank you very much, Bob. That was a pretty insightful discussion there. The other thing is you also have a podcast. I mean, you're doing so many things. You are hitting balls out of the park every day. So, what's your podcast about, what are you focusing there?
Bob: Well, the podcast is really featuring people. Other, you know, entrepreneurs' and authors, thought leaders, what have you, that really have a set of skills to bring to share with the audience. That in each of these people who were featured as guests, they really all tend to run their business, what we would call the go giver way. So, there are people who have a real true focus on bringing value to the lives of others touching the lives of numerous people would their value and also being very financially successful as well.
Ramesh: Okay. So, this is the question I ask. I'm in myself about other people and then some people asked me as well, a successful person like you who have done quite well. Financially, I'm sure you've done well. And then with the influence wise, you've done well, you've sold over 1 million books, but you're still willing to come on shows like these podcasts. And hustling, so why, I mean, is that a definitely, I don't believe it's a need, but you still are trying to hustle on a daily basis. What's the motivation here, Bob?
Bob: I love what I do. You know what I mean, There's nothing really more to it than that. I love what I do. Being able to share a message that I feel brings a certain amount of value to the world and people seem to be receptive to it. And I love learning. I love continuing to learn. I'm a voracious reader and listener and so, you know, because I have the opportunity to chat with so many people like yourself and you know, it helps me to continue to learn and feel good about myself.
Ramesh: Thanks Bob. So actually, one sentence I read on your bio, on the new website, it was interesting to me, so I just wanted to get a little deeper. You tried to say that you're an advocate, supporter and defender of the free enterprise system believing that the amount of money one makes is directly proportional to how many people they serve. So, question is, why did you feel the need to put the sentence out there? So, you must believe in something that you thought is necessary for people to know.
Bob: Well, that's a very, very insightful comment, Ramesh and that really is, and you're absolutely positively right. And I mentioned that free market, free enterprise. Because they're really, you know, at least in the, in the United States, and I think in other countries there is really such a misnomer and such a misunderstanding of what true capitalism and free markets represent. You know, and by the way, there's a big difference between free market capitalism and something called cronyism, which we have quite a bit of in the United States, which is where special interest groups and oftentimes big business, big industry get together and they buy the vote, you know, they buy special rules and regulations through their contributions to the government you know, through the politicians, through lobbyists and so forth. And they create an unfair advantage. They basically keep competition out of the marketplace and it's really, it's really a crime. I mean, it's really horrible that this goes on and it hurts everyone. But unfortunately, too many people think that's capitalism. That is not capitalism. That's cronyism. And it has really nothing to do with true free market capitalism, which simply means no one is forced to buy from anyone else. People do business with each other because they believe it's in their best interest to do so. And that means that it's better for the consumer. It's better for the business. It's better for the economy as a whole. Free market has resulted in an immense uptick in the standard of living in every single country that has tried it. Meanwhile the opposite of free market capitalism, which is socialism and its uglier cousin communism has resulted in massive poverty and starvation, jailing, killings everything bad. And you know, on the surface, socialism seems so generous. Right. But it's not, it's not, it's about control. And what it does is it doesn't honor human nature and people have a need to be free. And people have a need to be rewarded for their work and that reward doesn't necessarily have to be money. But for some people that is. Really, free market capitalism is not about money. It's about freedom and it's about people living their lives and pursuing happiness in whatever way they see fit, providing of course, that they don't infringe upon the rights of anyone else to do the same.
Ramesh: That is very true. Thank you very much Bob. That's great. You're also on a personal level, unapologetic animal fanatic. And a past member of the board of directors of fury friends’ adoptions. The question is are you biased towards a particular kind of animal or all animals?
Bob: I love all animals. You know, I grew up with dogs and I seem to have an affinity with dogs, their sense of loyalty and unconditional love and so forth. But I love all animals. I can't think of an animal that I don't love.
Ramesh: Okay, excellent. So, let's get into a little bit of on the advice to other people aspiring entrepreneurs. So, your own journey as well as the people that you talk to on a regular basis in their podcast. And then of course people that you've touched you know and, in your journey, so there are certain characteristics of people who are continuing to be successful versus people who are struggling to be successful. So, what are the attributes or characteristics that you have noticed in the people who are making an impact and then being influential?
Bob: Well, I think that they really, and this is law three from the Go-Giver, which is they place the interest of others first. They focus on their customers and I'm talking about from the moment they meet that person and through the relationship building process, through the sales process, the follow up and follow through the referral process. There are always you know, we say placing the other person's interests first. Now let me qualify that by saying we don't mean that they are a doormat or that they're a martyr or self-sacrificial. Absolutely not at all. But they understand that what I call the golden rule of business is that all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. And you know, there's no faster, more powerful or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you from others than by genuinely and authentically moving from an I focus or me focus to what we call and other focus, looking for ways to make your win all about their win. And these are the people who are the most sustainably successful business people.
Ramesh: Excellent. That is only one thing. And I’ve seen that from my own experience. I see that from experience 100% agree with you Bob. So, the next question is looking at your journey and I don't want to talk about in a regretful way, but things that you could have done or should have done sooner or something differently, whatever that is, you think as a piece of advice to other people?
Bob: Well, I think I resisted change at different stages of my career. And at a certain point, this was I think in a late nineties as the internet was really, really starting to get big. I mean, it was still well before social media, but the internet had now started to really catch on. And I really resisted at first, because I'm not very proficient when it comes to technology. But also, my business was at that point, we were really successful, and it was working well as it was. And I didn't want to have to change. And what I found out was it didn't matter whether I wanted to change or not, change was happening, and I was either going to adapt and adopt or be left behind and I really let myself get left behind and I had to kind of rebuild my business again. So, I would've adopted to and adopted technology a lot quicker. But I think again, that's a symptom, not a cause. The cause was not understanding that I had to be willing to change regardless of whether I want it to or not.
Ramesh: Yeah, very insightful there. How about the social media? Do you think you adapted to the advent of the social media, especially with people talking about video being the next big thing and things like that?
Bob: I wasn't excited about social media, but I learned my lesson and I realized I was going to have to you know, get involved with it. And now social media is a very, very big part of my business and I have a very big presence on, you know on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and my presence on Instagram is growing. And we do a lot of videos and you know, I'm very fortunate, my business partner who I’ve had for the last 10 years and who's an absolute genius and she also happens to be very technologically oriented.
Ramesh: I see. I think that's a good advice having a very good business partner definitely helps you on that one. Excellent. So last question Bob here. I know you give advice to the leaders and then the management team, but here we are talking about people have probably jobs and trying to do a side hustle or they want to be solopreneurs. So, these are the kinds of people, what pieces of advice would you give to people starting out or started, but you know, going through that chasm?
Bob: Well, first I would suggest you know, they read Michael Gerber's work you know the E-myth. Because, you know, he has some very important points there. Carol Roth also has a great book, the entrepreneurial equation, and there's, you know, there's others and of course making sure they tap into their coaches, such as you and so to really find the information. Don't feel they have to go it alone. Instead, you know, tap into the people who, you know, whether through their books, through their podcasts and through their coaching, such as you and so forth, and learn the information, have someone working with you, but you know, decide what you want to do and then seek out the information or what I call find the system. And I define a system as simply the process of predictably achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles. The key being predictability. It's been proven that by doing A, you'll get the desired result of B. Well then, you know, you need to do A and keep doing A until you get the desired result of B. And then, you know, I just say, act. And then stay persistent because understand you know the road is going to be paved with no’s and you got to get past the nos. You got to just keep going, get past them, understand that you're going to get a bunch of them, and that's okay. You know, you just keep going. You don't have to enjoy them, but you just keep going past them until you get the yeses you need.
Ramesh: Excellent. Bob, thank you very much. It's very insightful discussion and then lots of you know, great advice. Thank you very much.
Bob: Well, thank you, Ramesh. I appreciate you.