Patrick Kilner reveals why traditional networking methods no longer work—and shares his simple process for expanding influence.
- Why everyone needs to find six key relationships
- The simple secret to winning anyone over
- One question you should never ask—and another you should always ask
Pat Kilner has created and led three companies: two in the real estate space and one in the training world. He’s currently the CEO of the Kilner Companies which includes The Kilner & Kirk Group, The Indispensable Agent, and Tower Hill Enterprises. Pat is also the co-founder of the DC Accelerator, a young professional development non-profit. Pat serves on the boards of primary education initiatives and donates time to develop strategic plans for inner-city non-profits at the service of youth in the DC metro area. His companies support the special needs community in the DC areas as well as in Jamaica. He studied business and philosophy at The Catholic University of America and taught and studied economics at the Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, where he achieved a Master’s degree. Pat lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC with his wife, Elena, and their children.
- Book: Find Your Six: Stop Lead Generating & Start Building Influence
- Website: FindYourSix.com
- Website: PatrickKilner.com
- Tool: Google Ngram
- Tool: OptimalWork.com
- Book: Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail by Keith Ferrazzi
- Book: Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Everyday Life by Luke Burgis
- Book: The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Thank you Sponsors!
Pat, welcome to How to be Awesome at Your Job.
Pete, it’s great to be here.
Well, Pat, I’m so excited to get into your wisdom of Find Your Six: Stop Lead Generating & Start Building Influence, which has plenty of applicability, not just for sales-type folks but anyone looking to build influence and have mentorship and good things flowing. But, first, we have to hear about your semi-pro athletic experience in Spain. What’s the story here?
I played soccer undergrad, and I ended up having the opportunity to go and study in Pamplona, Spain, so running the bulls, which only happens, that’s a 10-day sort of event. That’s not what little Pamplona looks like all the time. But I was there, and the great news is there’s no NCAA in Spain but the university had a futsal team, which was just starting to make its way into the US at the time, futsal, but was really big in Brazil and Spain, and I’m looking for a way to get some exercise in, go try out for the team, and make the team.
And because there’s no NCAA, everything is semi-pro. There are just gradations of semi-pro, and this university team was a pretty high-level semi-pro team, and I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into, but that’s how I stumbled into it, is just through the extension of my academic career and being on a really cool campus, and friendships that led me to try out for this team. Total blast and learned some great new skills and meet some awesome friends in the process.
Oh, that’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Well, we’re going to talk about building friends and allies and networking. Maybe to kick us off, could you share one of the most surprising, fascinating, counterintuitive discoveries you’ve made along the way when it comes to what we might call networking, what we might call relationship-building? What do you want to call it?
Yeah. So, well, I want to talk about it as business development. So, every business needs to generate revenue, and what I want to propose to anybody who’s listening, regardless of whether you feel like you’re in the business development realm or not, is that you are contributing to that. You’re contributing to a business and its functioning, and so, in some ways, shape, or form, we’re all business developers.
And as I began researching this book, and frankly, actually before that, maybe I’ll tell a quick story about how I sort of stumbled upon this. I was teaching a class of entrepreneurs, business owners, business leaders, in the DC metro area, which is where I’m from, of about 40 people, and we’re doing a mid-year check in on their businesses.
And I said to them, “Okay, so you all had revenue goals. What are those goals? Six months ago, what did you set those goals at? Write that down.” Okay, they write that down. “Now, how are you trending towards those? We’re about six months in, how are you trending towards those goals? Write that number down. Now, you may have been a little bit overly optimistic at the beginning of the year, so that’s okay. We still have six months to catch up. Given that, what is the lead-generation tactic that you have in your back pocket that you can pull out and make that revenue come in the door.
I spoke about it specifically through the lens of lead generation at the time. And they all wrote that down. And I was treating this as sort of a mastermind. So, I said, “Okay, great. We’re going to get a few really good things here out of 40 people.” I said, “Okay. So, given that lead generation, I’m just curious, how many of you are really excited to do that lead generation, not just for the next six months but for the next three years every day, two hours a day, just go get it? Because I know that if you’re excited about what you’re doing, you’re going to continue to do it. It’s not just going to be a solution for this year but for future years.”
And if I may, so for examples of these lead generation tactics might be, “I’m going to get up in the Facebook ads, or the Google ads, or start calling people, or asking for referrals.” So, any number of those things might’ve been on the table.
Smile and dial, pound on the phones, write scripts, dialogues, objections, handlers, all the stuff that you learn in that lead-generation sort of paradigm, knocking doors, whatever it is, speed networking, “How many networking events? How many cards can I hand out?” Those types of things. And when I asked that question in that way, and it wasn’t a scripted question, it was a live question, nobody raised their hand, nobody said, “I can’t wait to do this for the next three years plus.”
And so, now I didn’t have any content with which to sort of have the mastermind. And so, I said, “I’m just curious, how many of you who have kids would be excited to take that lead generation tactic that you wrote down and teach it to your kids so they will have more flourishing, more exciting careers and lives?” Not a hand.
And this began the process for me of thinking, “Well, if we’re not excited about how we’re going to make business come in the door,” and, by the way, these people, most of them had most of the skin in the game for their organization. They were the leaders of their organization. And if the leaders of the organization aren’t excited about that, they can’t transfer that skill to other people. It’s just something they’re trying to retire from as quickly as possible, and that’s not a sustainable reality.
So, there’s something broken about just how we think about business development. And it shifted my thought process. Business development is sort of the broader thing. Lead generation is really just a blip on the radar screen of the history of business development. So, to answer your question now, what was sort of the aha moment or that piece of evidence that really struck me, is after this, I went and I got on Google Ngram, which is really a cool tool if you played around with it.
And what you’re able to do is figure out when the first times we actually used certain language around certain ideas. So, it categorized all of the…Google has sort of categorized everything that’s ever been written. So, you can use this tool, and academics use it a lot, and what I found is that we didn’t actually use the word lead generation, the phrase lead generation, until around 1976.
If you’ve been in sales since the ‘80s, you think that lead generation is synonymous with business development. It’s actually just there’s been a turn of phrase. Things like smile and dial, things like scripts and dialogues around telephone, hitting the phones, all of those ideas, call centers. You can actually look at how these spiked in the ‘80s and the ‘90s, and then how they get taken over by technology and re-used. So, who does lead generation better than any human being now?
I’m thinking Facebook or Google.
Right. Exactly. The really critical thing, and what I’ve begun to discover in my research is that if you are doing lead generation, eventually you get beat out by cheaper options that do it 24/7 and actually, ultimately, better than you because AI is just eating your lunch when it comes to lead generation, which actually makes us feel like cogs in a big wheel of our business instead of the indispensable drivers of our business.
And so, to get back to the story, that’s why nobody really wanted to continue doing this long term because, whether they realize it or not, they realize, “I am fighting a losing battle.” So, take travel agents, for example. How many travel agents do you know are in your phone?
I don’t know any.
Right. So, if you know some one or two, there used to be travel agents all over the place. What happened? Lead generation was the thing, and they got disrupted radically by tech. So, Travelocity, whoever, has just cut out the middleman because they’ve, ultimately, really quickly done better lead generation than a human being could do.
So, what I talk about in the book is that if you’re doing lead generation, not only is it stripping you of your joy of working, but you’re also more disruption-prone. And so, let’s look at our relationships and where the relationships were…our relationships are really commoditized. Commodities are easily exchanged for anything else or versus the few relationships that are indispensably fundamental to our success that, regardless of what happens, they’re still going to be there for you, and we all have those in every aspect of our lives.
So, that’s the premise of the book. The question then is, “How do I go find those fundamental relationships, that are not commoditized, faster so that I can accelerate my career?” And the surprising thing to me is that people have applied this to mentorship, they’ve applied it to their sales, they’ve applied it to finding major accounts, to building boards of trustees because they realized, “Wow, in order to really accelerate my growth, I just need a handful of really amazing people.”
That’s beautiful. And this reminds me of Keith Ferrazzi’s book Who’s Got Your Back and some stuff I’ve done back in the day with accountability groups and folks who really support and challenge me in terms of making things happen. And so, yeah, it is broad and vast, whether you’re deliberately trying to get folks who you can sell stuff to, or rather you’re seeking out mentorship or other kinds of relationship goodies.
So, tell us, if that’s something we want, like, “Yeah, I would love that in my world,” how do we go about doing it? And maybe I start with you say “Find your six…” What’s up with the six? And why is six people the magic number?
So, I went and started researching “Exactly how many people do you need?” If the lead generation paradigm tells us you need thousands in order to get a small percentage. That’s basically, “You need to make these many calls in order to have this sale or this conversion rate,” “You have to have these many likes in order to get…” whatever, that dopamine hit.
If that’s what it’s telling us, that volume is the key, how many actually do we need in your six? And so, the shift, just to sort of reveal it is you really need a shift to thinking about being in the talent game, that if you’re in business or just in life, you’re actually not in the lead generation game anymore; you’re in the talent-searching game. So, how do you go find that talent? How to do that?
Now, where did six come from? I’m very fortunate to have built a business around great relationships, great professional relationships, and I found the 60 most impactful people who had had really long term and illustrious careers. So, these are folks typically 60 plus in all sorts of different careers, and I took them out and I interviewed all of them because really, really interested in “What are the keys to long-term success? And who are the people that made that happen for them?”
So, I was really curious in finding out the characteristic of these people. But, in so doing that, what I found is that the average number of people that had made really impactful contributions to really high performers in their careers was just six people. It wasn’t 600 people, it wasn’t thousands of people, it was just six people, and that kept happening as I’d have these interviews one after another.
And so, not only did I find the characteristics of the talent that they had saddled up next to, or who had invested into them, but I also found that you actually just need six of them. And they sort of accidentally found their six over the course of an entire career. So, my question was, “How could we go find those six in six months or a year? If you knew how to crack that code, what would that look like for you?” And so, that’s why six is from some of the ground research, if you will.
And so, when you talk about those six, can we paint a little bit of a picture in terms of “If someone is in someone’s six, it kind of looks like this. These are the sorts of things they do for them; they share with them; they talk about.” What does that look, sound, feel like in practice?
Yeah. And you can apply this to, again, anybody in any career. I’ll give you sort of the principles that you can apply to anything, but then we can certainly drill into what that might look like for specific people depending on their career. But the first thing you’re looking for in terms of a character trait is longevity. So, I began looking for people who had clocked a lot of hours with others by virtue of their position.
So, why longevity versus sort of very transactional relationships? So, if somebody is in the habit of just having transactional relationships, they’re not typically going to be in the connection game, in the wisdom distribution game, that I’m looking for, for later on. So, that’s the first thing, is look for longevity. So, people who are spending more time than usual in relationship with folks. And we can drill into that a little more. So, longevity.
The second thing was implicit trust. So, for me, I was looking for people who, and this is what I found with others, people who worked in really big organizations, and they found people who were implicitly trusted, not just by them, but by the entire organization. Everybody that ran across them, these people actually, in many ways, their career and their income depended on the fact that everybody who encountered them was deeply implicitly trusting of them.
And then the final thing is finding people who have an ownership mindset to their work. So, these are the people that if the company is going down, they’re holding onto the rudder the whole time. They’re trying to make this thing go. Their DNA is part and parcel of the company. I had a great encounter with somebody who was in legal document storage, and he said, “I know exactly who you’re talking about,” and I’m thinking, “Okay, he’s going to talk about one of his clients. He’s a partner at a law firm.”
And he said, “It was the woman who greeted me at the front desk of the law firm. Her DNA was all over this place. She knew when the partners were having issues, if they were staying late, how the cases were going, if their professional relationships were good, or if she could angle me in to go help sell whatever I was bringing to the table.” And so, that type of person who, maybe isn’t actually on paper the owner, but also, but really is they own their job.
So, if you find people who have that type of longevity, that implicit deep trust, and an ownership mindset, you’ve basically found the right person. So, if I’m hiring for an organization, or when we’re hiring for…I own a real estate company. When we’re hiring people, we’re looking for people who, when we’re interviewing them, have established implicit trust with others around them, and how they do that, and how they think through those relationships.
We’re looking for people that have a true ownership mindset versus, say, what in the book I call a run-it mindset, or a work-it mindset, sort of that Fred Flintstone end-of-the-day, like the dinosaur gets pulled by the tail and he’s like, “Okay, I’m done. I’m washing my hands of this thing.” And that’s a commoditized relationship with the employer. That’s sort of working for the weekend.
So, those are the people that we’re looking for both internally as well as externally to advise us, to make connections to major accounts, to refer us business. And so, in the book, I go deep into how to apply those principles, but that’s sort of your talent profile, if you will.
Okay. And so then, I’m thinking about it from two lenses. One in terms of like the sales business development, and another one in terms of sort of mentorship and growth and development. So, if we’re thinking about it on the mentorship side, so much time means much time in the career or the domain that we would like their wisdom in. Is that fair or how are you thinking about that?
Yes. So, it could be, I would say, in general. And so, longevity really is the first indicator of whether somebody is trusted. You can’t be trusted unless you’ve spent time with folks. So, it’s a really quick filter. If you look at your list of everybody. Let’s say you work for a big consulting firm, and you’re up and coming, or you just got there, and somebody says, “You know what you should do is go find your mentors here.”
Look for the people who have the longest-standing client relationships and relationships within their teams, and who have clocked the most hours with those people. These may be managers but it could also be people in the regular mix of the organization. So, I’m looking for those people. That will limit your list pretty substantially. One of the things that I realized is I was getting frustrated in my business that depended a lot on referrals that people who have known me for a long time just weren’t giving me a lot of business. I was so frustrated.
And then I realized, actually, they don’t spend enough time with most people on a daily basis to build enough trust in order to send me business. And the same is true if you’re looking for mentors. These folks have to be in the practice of investing time into folks so that when they decide, “Hey, you know what, you should go talk to this person.” What do mentors do really, really well? They connect you to other wisdom through other great people. And so, that’s why longevity is really important. That then indicates the type of trust you’re looking for.
So, when you’re, let’s say, you’re looking for that mentor, you’ll know that you have somebody who’s implicitly trusted by asking them the right questions when you sit down with them. Maybe asking them who their mentors are. What kind of relationships do they still have in those mentor relationships? Or, they may be in peer mentor relationships. What kind of organizations are they involved in? What kind of board activities should I get involved in that you found really great?
People who sit on boards, oftentimes, they have to be implicitly trusted. They have a fiducia allegation. So, those are some of the indicators that I’m looking for when I’m looking for a mentor, is people who are really generous and who kind of know that this is going to come back around. All this stuff comes back around whether in the form of business or the right connections when it comes to sort of this game of life that we’re all playing.
Well, could you maybe tie it all together in terms of perhaps a story? So, there’s a person who was looking to turbocharge their advancement, ascent, wisdom, and they set about identifying six folks who could be of great assistance, and maybe we don’t need the 20-minute saga, but just the general broad strokes of what happened, how they went about it, and what results came from it.
Right. So, I’ll give maybe a personal one here. So, the first business I started was in real estate, residential real estate business, and I got into it prior to the 2008 bust. But then 2008-2009 happened, and there was blood in the streets. National Association Realtors went from 1.5 million people to 750,000 people in less than two years, so experienced people taking early retirement really quickly. And I’d been in the business for three years at the time.
And I remember thinking, “Okay, all the stuff that all of these people who have taught me, who are now getting out of the business and it was all lead generation stuff, I need to figure out how to do this better.” And so, I called somebody who I knew had weathered storms in his own career, and he was, at the time in his 60s, and I called him up, and I said, “Jerry, I’m trying to juggle all this. I’m looking for any wisdom that you have.” I was not pitching business. I just needed his advice.
And, unknowingly, and by going to him and saying, “Listen, I just…I’m coming hat in hand here. As you know, I got a young family, you’ve done exceptionally well, and I’m sure have weathered some storms. Would you be up for a cup of coffee or breakfast?” And he said, “No problem.” Two days later, on his calendar, one of the busiest people I know.
And 45 minutes of me taking copious notes, and I remember he turned to me at the end, and he said, “You know, Pat, these are great questions. I listened the entire time,” and he said, “You’re going to do really well in real estate.” And what was interesting was I hadn’t talked about myself the entire time. I just asked the questions.
And here I am, I feel like a total pseudo-professional, total impostor, that I should be getting kicked out of this industry as well. I’m holding on. And he said to me, “You’re going to do really well. Listen, I’m really good at this attorney thing,” he was an attorney, “but I don’t know anything about real estate. I like how you think. If you run across any investments, let me know. That would be good for me.”
I’m thinking, “Wow, that’s…” I wasn’t selling. I can’t believe that this person just did this. But then he said something even more interesting, he said, “When I get back to the office, I got to get to court here in a second, when I get back to the office, I’m going to make an introduction to three different people for you.” And he put his name, his professional name to me, a young professional who was just struggling. He knew that I was trying to figure this whole thing out, and made connections to other professionals who respected him enough to say, “Yeah, I’ll have a conversation with you.”
And from that, what I found is that the right people, so Jerry for me was my first, the first one of my six ever. And great people in his shoes, great mentors, these people who sit at your table, if you will, that I talk about in the book, they are great connectors, they’re great wisdom distributors. I got more wisdom in one breakfast than I could ever imagine, but then he connected me to others who could help me. And those others also put their name to me because he had shown them that he was going to do that as well.
And it was my job to research what I wanted to talk to them about, how I could help them, and to stop worrying about not knowing everything, and just get out there and have these conversations. But Jerry taught me that the right people will be amazing connectors and, what I call in the book, wisdom distributors for you as well. And so, that set me on a course to build a really big organization that has provided for my family ever since through a serious recession. And I never did lead generation again after that.
Beautiful. And so, alternatively, you just kept talking to great people who introduced you to other people, and then away you went.
Yeah, I thought to myself, “Gosh, if I could have one of those conversations every day, what would my business look like? So, how do I go about doing that?” And so, I spend the last half of my book talking about how to have those conversations. What’s the art of that meeting? How do you land the meeting? How do you prepare for the meeting? How do you artfully have the meeting? What do you do to follow up? How do you add value? Can you even add value? I’m just starting out here.
Or maybe I feel like an impostor because I just shifted careers, but what I realized is, gosh, for the time that I spent those 45 minutes to an hour that I spent there was the most fruitful time, and I could imagine doing that for three, five, 15, 25 years every day of my career.
Beautiful. Well, so let’s hear it then. So, let’s say we got a professional, they want to meet some of these people, have some of these conversations, get it going, what’s sort of the step one, two, three of making it happen?
Yeah. So, the first thing, and it sounds really simple, is make your list. Who do you know currently? And look at that list and ask yourself, “Okay, of the people who I know currently,” you can say, “Hey, I just arrived in a new town. I don’t know that many people. Who do you know, because you know some folks, somebody helped you moved, somebody recommended that you use this company for X, Y, and Z, so you know some folks?” And so, make that list. It can be short. It can be long.
Then ask yourself, “Of those people, what would I be if I could ask them one question? What would I be most interested to ask that person about?” Some people, you won’t be able to come up with anything. Others, you’re going to have three or four questions that you can’t wait to ask them. So, like a good podcast host, now you have really pointed questions specific to that person. And so, that’s the first step, is finding just a handful of folks who you want to go sit down with and have a cup of coffee with. That’s step one.
You can build that list in a number of ways. Chamber of commerce, directories, you can look up people. It’s so easy to find lots of lists of people to go sit down with, and to be interested and have these conversations with. It’s obviously better if you have connections to them prior, but if you don’t, okay, you can start somewhere and we’re really, really fortunate to have all sorts of networking opportunities online as well. These can turn into much deeper relationships.
So, second step is now you’ve got to get the meeting. So, ask for advice. The easiest way to do this is to ask for advice, and ask for advice authentically. So, here’s how not to ask for advice. Don’t call somebody – Pete, I’m sure this happens to you all the time, “Hey, Pete, you’ve got this successful podcast. Could I pick your brain?” And you’re like, “Gosh, if I had a dollar for every time somebody asked me to pick my brain, I’d be super wealthy.”
Here’s the problem with that. There’s a certain laziness to just saying, “Hey, Pete, can I pick your brain?” They haven’t actually dignified Pete with a little bit of research about “What specifically does Pete do really, really well that I know about, that I’ve really thought about so that he knows I’m not going to waste his time, and that he also knows where the direction of this thing is going to go? We’re not just going to sit down for a cup of coffee and this is going to turn into a two-hour long conversation, and we’re going to get nowhere. But I’ve got somebody who’s actually interested specifically about something that I’m an expert in.”
So, that’s the next step is research the person well enough to know why you’re asking them for advice. Then go have the meeting. Now, what does that do? That comes off very authentic because now it’s not a script. This is not lead generation. I’m not lead-generating this conversation with you. I’m being very specific. I’m authentically curious. And authenticity is really, really powerful in relationships, especially at the beginning.
And with that authenticity, now you frame the conversation that you’re going to have. Now, you’re going to go meet with the person. The conversation is framed. They know that you’re going to honor their time. They could be the busiest person you could possibly find. If you show them that you’re going to honor their time, and you’re authentically curious, they’ll have the conversation with you.
You go have that conversation, and if you ask the right questions, three, four really, really good questions, make sure that they know that you know about them. Again, you’ve given them the dignity of saying, “Listen, you’re really busy and I saw this and that, and I’d really like to know how you made manager. How did you go from here in your career to here in your career? That seems like almost an impossibility to me but I’m sure that you’ve got some insights in this.”
Or, “How was it that you landed that major account when you were pretty early in your career? How did you do that? Who were the people that made those connections for you?”
So, asking that, or you might be really…I remember going through a phase where I really wanted to know what made high performers tick and what their daily routine looked like because I really wanted to hone in my daily routine, and I was coming authentically to that in asking that question as well. So, those are some of the things, and now those are the bedrock for a much deeper conversation.
Here’s what I found with Jerry, is that because my conversation and my questions were specific and authentic, he liked how I thought, and he said it. He said, “Pat, I like how you think. You’re going to do really well in business.” We don’t work with people because of what they know. We work with people and we hire people and we want to continue relationships with people because of how they think.
Think about your best relationships.
Yeah, that resonates. And I guess I’m thinking of what not to do. I received a LinkedIn message, like, “Oh, hey, I see that you’re a podcaster. Could you send me a link to your podcast?” This is on LinkedIn. And I’m thinking, “My LinkedIn profile literally says, ‘Pete Mockaitis, podcast host and trainer and chief at AwesomeAtYourJob.com.’”
And so, I guess it’s like, “Okay, you’re not a real human. You are a piece of software that is automating outreach because a real human wouldn’t do that.” And so, what you said is like when you do that bit of research upfront, it helps distinguish you from the vast majority of inbound requests that are just like, “Meh,” as opposed to, “Oh, okay, you’re a human being. You’ve spent some time looking at my stuff. Therefore, I have an inkling that if I were to invest some time in you, it’s going to be well spent.”
And I think Tim Ferriss has some good tips about how you show just that, like, “Hey, your time was well spent. You mentioned a book, I read the book, and here’s my key takeaways from the book you mentioned that I’ve already read two days after you told me about it.” It’s like, “Oh, this guy. Okay, you’re serious. Intriguing.”
And be an active listener. Carry one of these things around and actually take notes because, again, you’re endearing yourself to this person who is honoring you by giving you their time. But flip this on the other side, when asked correctly for your wisdom, have you ever been offended?
No, I guess that correctly is the key word. But, no, I haven’t. It’s flattering. I guess the worst-case scenario is I feel guilty that I don’t have the availability to give them a little something. That’s like the worst but it’s always pleasant and uplifting because, most of the time, most compliments that come my way immediately precede a pitch to be a guest on my podcast, which makes them feel very insincere.
Of course, there are plenty of genuine compliments as well. They’re just outnumbered. But givers versus takers, right? So, yeah, that totally resonates. And so, if there’s any…I guess that’s sort of a good takeaway there. If there’s any fear, like, “Oh, I don’t know. I wouldn’t want to bother them. I wouldn’t want to inconvenience them. I’m little ole me. I couldn’t possibly….” Point well taken. It’s like if you do it well, they appreciate it.
Any other do’s and don’ts for that reach-out message? You do your research. You convey you’ve done your research. You don’t use the phrase ‘pick your brain.’ Anything else?
Yeah, I think stop thinking that you don’t have anything to offer. So, you’re giving two gifts. One is the gift of actually having done your research and asking this person about what they’ve dedicated their life to most likely, “You’re awesome at this. If you have the time, I will inconvenience myself to make sure that you and I can sit down. I’ll meet you at the airport if you’re traveling all the time during your layover.”
So, that’s the first gift, really is that’s what gets me out of bed. Somebody says to me, “Hey, so and so told me that I should be in touch with you because you’re really, really awesome at this,” specific thing. “Would you have any time for me? Not next week maybe, but any time in the next month or quarter. Could I just find 45 minutes on your calendar? I’d love to take you out for a cup of coffee or whatever works best for you.”
And so, again, so that type of idea, and I go through a bunch of different ways to do that and endear yourself. So, that’s maybe going to look different within depending on your organization, depending on your career track, but really mastering that language, and that art of preparing, and the art of having a meeting is actually, frankly, a lost art because we hide behind screens so long that we’re actually not in this habit of connecting deeply with people and allowing them to have that in return, really, in an authentic way.
Now, that’s the first gift. The second gift is the gift that you give them afterwards. So, if you’re doing this, and I said if I could have this conversation every day, so if you said, “Part of my business plan or my career plan is to have one cup of coffee every single day with somebody who could be,” what I call in the book, “an influencer candidate, somebody who could be a candidate for my six. And those are just people who I have an authentic curiosity about what they do.”
So, because you’re doing this, you have a network, maybe not of people who are at the top of your list, your six. That’s sort of a sacred spot, but you have a lot of people who are at different places in what I like to call the influencer pyramid. So, they may be not as influential for you but really great folks. You can find a lot of those. And now you can be a connector of great talent. Again, you’re in the talent game. You’re looking for just a handful up here, but you will have…you do this for a quarter, you do this for half a year, you’ve got 50-100 people who know your name and who you can connect others to.
And so, even if you’re not somebody who’s old and wise and can give that wisdom, like Jerry did to me, you can certainly be what Jerry also was, which was a connector to other great minds and other great influencers, potentially. So, that’s the next gift. And so, those two gifts really are super impactful. And what it does is it reframes who you are in the mind of the potential influencer. They now see you in a totally different light. So, those are some of the hacks, if you will, of that conversation.
That’s cool. Well, thank you. Well, Pat, tell me, anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?
Yeah. So, I’d say this, never leave a meeting without asking this simple question, “Knowing what you know about me, Pete, who else do you think I should talk to? If you were in my shoes, who else would you go talk to?” because not everybody is going to be your Jerry who’s just going to think to do that to make the connection. But if you prompted that, what I found is I had maybe a list of 25 people when I started out, who I was just desperate to learn from. That turned into a list of thousands over the years because I prompted that question.
And so, if you’re in these great conversations, again, you’re looking for a mentor, “Knowing what you know about me, who am I looking for?” What I found is also, just mathematically, you’re looking for, basically, a one in 20 talent. So, Pete, I’m sure you’ve hired folks before, and you go, “Gosh.” When you’re hiring out of desperation, you’ll take the first person who sends you a resume, when you’re looking for talent.
The same is true for mentors, the same is true for almost any person you’re looking for, external talent or internal talent to your team. But if you’ve talked to 20 people, gosh, you know what the landscape looks like and you can now choose who you’re going to go invest your time in, or time with, and who you want to forge that relationship with. You can talk to 20 people over the course of a month. Over the course of six months, you’ve found your six.
That’s good. I see how that math works there. Monday through Friday, hmm-mm. Thank you.
Take off a weekend.
Well, now can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?
This one is from Dostoevsky, so great Russian novelist. And he said…and this is really comforting too, a guy who got straight Bs through college. He said, “It’s not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them – the character, the heart, and generous qualities.” I love that. As a dad, that’s what I want to teach my kids. So, that’s one of my favorite quotes.
And a favorite study or experiment or bit of research?
So, that Google Ngram, I thought was I kind of nerd out on using that. I think it’s really interesting to understand how we use language and why we use it at certain times and how it impacts us. So, as a tool, I thought that was really, really interesting, and something that I think that I use quite a bit still.
And a favorite book?
Okay. So, I’ve got two here. One is my favorite book of the year. I probably recommended this book more than any other, and it just came out this summer, a book called Wanting by Luke Burgis. It’s on the reason why we want what we want, and how people influence, how the people around us deeply influence why we desire, not just why we want things but why we actually form certain desires for things.
Totally made me shift how I see the people around me, and I’d wrote a book about the people around me. Fascinating book. He studies a guy named Rene Girard, who many people know was a mentor to the likes of Peter Thiel and others at Stanford. So, awesome book, a must read. And then David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers. One of the coolest stories about entrepreneurship around, and I’m an entrepreneur, and this is like these guys totally bootstrapped it and figured it out after having a bike shop. So, really, really cool story.
And a favorite tool, something you use to be awesome at your job?
OptimalWork.com. These guys have been a total gamechanger. I would not have been able to crank out a book without OptimalWork. The thesis here is that I particularly like a tool that they have on their site called The Golden Hour. And what it allows you to do is to get into the state of flow. So, block out distraction, get into a state of flow on command. So, a pretty amazing tool. Highly recommend it. I’m having my high school kids doing this already and it’s changing their grades already.
Flow on command, that’s enticing.
Yeah, and that’s the key. And they do this at Harvard, so they take kids who are already high performers, and they teach them to actually perform at an even higher level and actually enjoy what they do a whole lot more. So, Dr. Kevin Majeres is behind this. He’s a clinical psychologist and just a tremendous mind. So, OptimalWork.com.
Cool. And a favorite habit?
For me, it is waking up earlier than my competition. I think it has to happen.
Okay. And a key nugget you share, something that really connects and resonates with folks; they quote it back to you a lot?
Yeah. So, I’ve got two from the book. One is simply trust is transferable. We can trust-transfer, and that’s a big part of the book is this idea that you’re really in the talent game and the trust-transferring game. And then the other is I didn’t actually expect as much resonance with folks, but folks who are trying to balance your family life and professional life.
This struck me that this idea that save your professional time, effort, and money for the most influential people so that you can save your personal time, effort, and money for the most vulnerable. So, whatever you’re in, like in my case, those are kids running around in diapers at a certain point of my life. But that’s why I work so that I can provide and really spend my time, effort, and money with them.
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?
So, really easy, FindYourSix.com or PatrickKilner.com will lead you to me, yeah. And it’s pretty easy. There’s forms on there. You can probably find my email on there as well.
All right. And a final challenge or call to action for folks looking to be awesome at their jobs?
So, I’d ask, really, what’s, first, a reflective question, “What is the cost of commoditization in your business of your relationships?” So, if you’re in sales, lead gen, but fill in the blank. What’s the cost of that compounded over time for your career? I’d encourage you to take the Find Your Six challenge. I lay out a challenge at the back of the book, and it just says, “Here’s how to go about the challenge. Here’s how to find your six in six months or at least get to that point.”
If you want to totally reframe your business development and understand that, regardless of what your position is, you’re in the talent game. So, that would be the challenge. It’s really just built into what I have here. And here’s the idea, the business grows and your career grows and sustains and becomes disruption-proof only through the right talent. So, you’re in any position, “How do I disruption-proof my talent for my career so that I’m indispensably important?” It’s through the right relationships, and not just, “Hey, you scratch my back, I scratch yours,” but real investment into them.
All right. Pat, this has been a treat. I wish you much luck with your six.
Pete, thank you.