Have you ever had the experience of hearing someone articulate what you need better than you could yourself?
Keith Ferrazzi, author of the hit business book “Never Eat Alone,” spoke at the Mediabistro Circus conference I went to this week. He has a new book out called “Who’s Got Your Back?” and I expected a talk that would be part networking pointers, part book shill.
Instead, Keith gave a talk that got a lot of people weepy, including me. Here’s the promo for Who’s Got Your Back?
The Cliff’s Notes version is that when his first book became a hit, he still wasn’t happy. He was working like crazy to keep up with the consulting gigs and speaking engagements and not feeling fulfilled.
Then he finally let his guard down to a few people he trusted, admitting he was struggling, and asked for help. That became the basis for this book: that you need to have people in your life who you’re willing to be vulnerable and honest with, in order to get where you want to go. You need to find a few people who won’t let you fail.
Keith said we let ourselves down all the time, but we don’t want to let others down — which is the reason Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous help so many people. Being real with a few key people about what your goals are can help you keep moving toward them.
Of course it can’t all be a one-way street. It’s probably not a super attractive invitation to say to a person you respect “Hey, I know you’re really busy but could you take some time away from your goals and dreams to help me achieve mine?” These relationships need to be about generosity in both directions. You help each other get where you’re going.
I think part of the appeal of doing this blog is being more open and honest about what I need in my life, because I’ve spent years trying to put on my game face and project that I have it all under control. Keith really nailed a place I need to evolve: letting my guard down and admitting when I need help.
I’ve just started reading his book so I expect I’ll blog about it again later. For now, here’s one parting thought from his talk.
Keith asked all of us to schedule a long, slow dinner with someone we’d like to get closer to, someone we’d be willing to let our guard down with and talk about our hopes and dreams, our fears and our failures.
Would you like to take up his challenge and reach out to someone for a conversation that goes deeper than niceties and small talk?