How to Create Success One Relationship at a Time: Never Eat Alone

Written by Scott May 18, 2009

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
by Keith Ferrazzi
Pub. Date: February 2005, Bantam Books
ISBN- 9780385512053
320 Pages
Success Rating:5
Buy Never Eat Alone at AmazonWhy I Read this Book: Our lives and our success are directly related to the quality and quantity of the people around us. I have never seen a better guide for enhancing relationships than this.

Topics Covered:

  • The importance of relationships in all walks of life
  • Tools used to nurture and maintain relationships
  • Making the act of helping others a life priority
  • Living with a genuine interest in others lives, goals and dreams
  • How to create a genuine connection and relationship with most anyone desired

Review:

A friend of mine from university introduced this book to me over two years ago. He said it was a must read for anyone interested in building relationships both personal and professional—and especially for the author of Reading For Your Success… I am sitting here kicking myself that I only finally got to reading it last month. It’s no surprise that my friend has become quite the successful lawyer in the meantime. Next time hopefully I’ll act a little quicker. This is one of the more far reaching books I’ve come across. It’s the type that every one of us could benefit from regardless of our stage in life or current level of success.

I have a firm belief that our level of happiness and enjoyment for life comes down to one fundamental concept—the quality and extent of our relationships with other people. Just think for a minute of your most memorable moments. What first comes to mind? My guess is that most of you will not be thinking back on a time when you were doing something all alone. Instead you will likely be able to remember the people who were there, the smiles, the laughs or the stories. I was at a party last weekend and something hit me. The only thing that makes a night out, a bar or a party entertaining are the people you meet or the people you see whom you already know. Keep that in mind next time you’re out. It is the relationships that make life really worth living and they are certainly what make success so worth achieving. Remember the old adage–if you make it to the top of success mountain and you are all alone, you will likely jump off it.

This is a concept I first learned from my parents and family in their teachings and I quickly began to put together countless examples from my life proving this to be true. People are everything. It should be no surprise that a big cause of unhappiness and depression can be loneliness. The fact that people do not have (or feel they have) someone to relate to or someone to share their life with, can drain happiness and excitement in a heartbeat. The power of relationships continues to amaze me on all fronts. I happened to read an article in the Wall Street Journal just yesterday talking about friends and a 15-year study that showed people with a great number of friends throughout their life live an average of 22% longer than those who have very few friends. This should not be surprising.

Thankfully, Keith Ferazzi learned this very early on–that people are the oil that makes our world, lives, businesses, and just about all else, function. So he decided to write about it. Never Eat Alone was the result and it has turned into a “how to” guide to be sure you are doing everything in your power to create the kind of genuine relationships in all parts of your life to make it a screaming success. I believe he even boasts to have a list of over 5,000 people who he could call at any time and they’d pick up the phone and be happy to do him a favor. Think for a minute about that claim. How many people do you have in your life who’d fit on that “call any time” list? Sadly for many of us it’s only a handful or perhaps twenty or thirty, or a couple hundred at best.

I once met someone who I noticed frequently turning down offers to meet, have lunch or get together with various people. When asked about it he told me that he didn’t need anyone else in his network. That blew me away. Something tells me he didn’t mean it. At least I hope not.

Done properly and genuinely, a network is synonymous to a group of friends and is just as much a place to give as it is a place to receive. At no point in any of our lives should we feel like we have made enough friends. That concept baffles me. I happen to love interacting with and meeting new people. I have taken courses and read countless books on psychology, relating to others, relationships and simply understanding people–all so I can better relate to, enjoy and understand the company of a greater number of them. That’s exactly why I picked up this book. And sadly, I think that’s also why it took me a couple years to finally do so. In the back of my mind I had a feeling that I was doing a pretty good job of it. Yet after finishing this book, I couldn’t believe all that I still had to learn.

Never Eat Alone not only got me even more excited about meeting people, but it also dramatically enhanced the number of quality and unique interactions I had on a regular basis.  If you don’t mind, a couple personal examples may be in order. Since reading this book I have met as many best selling authors as I had cumulatively up to that point, I’ve created relationships with a number of business moguls, been in communication with Warren Buffett, met and chatted with Jessica Biel on a number of occasions and I was interviewed by CNBC. And those are just the recognizable examples. On top of that I have made more new friends than I had in many months previously. It’s been nothing short of amazing and quite rewarding. And I know I am only getting started. I do not mention these to toot my own horn but simply to show you that the stuff in this book works. It works quite well in fact. Now that I think of it, I have seen more direct and immediate outcome from this book than I think I ever have from a single book.

Key points to take away:

  • Networking and meeting people should not be about getting something but instead about how you can help someone else
  • Relationships are the lifeblood of our happiness and success
  • You will experience greater success focusing on doing things for others than one could ever have only focusing on themselves
  • People like people who are like them or who are like who they want to be
  • You can never have enough friends or know enough people
  • People do business with people they like
  • Often times meeting someone or getting something simply requires that you ask—something very few people find the courage to do
  • You must stand out and be memorable

Keith walks through just about every social and professional category in one’s life and gives examples and guidance of how to create new relationships and enhance existing ones. The first is just as important as the second. If there was ever a road map to making friends, this is it. He covers everything from hosting dinner parties, speaking at events, remembering birthdays, meeting celebrities, being a mentor, being a mentee, discovering others interests, building rapport, following up, sharing your passions, building your brand—it’s all in there. I wish you could see the mind map I created after reading this book. There is just so much useful content!

Throughout all this explanation and guidance of how to meet and have more people in your life, Keith makes a very crucial point that I feel so many of us have gotten completely wrong over the years. You don’t just network when you need it. You don’t network just to get something from someone. The goal is not to get from others. It is to give. And that’s always the most rewarding anyway isn’t it?

It all comes down to genuine interest in others. Networking and meeting people is not about getting yourself somewhere. It is about finding the ways in which you can find genuine interest in others and enhance their lives. He quotes Dale Carnegie’s famous line numerous times “You can be more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other people’s success than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in your own success”. What a statement.

I was on a no-shoes beach run one Saturday in Santa Barbara a couple years back when something similar hit me. I had just had one of my best few days ever interacting with others. And after some thinking, I came up with my own explanation of why. I decided that the quality of your relationships is a direct representation of your level of GENUINE energy and excitement for others’ goals and dreams. That made it so clear to me.

On our own quest for success it can be all too easy to think only of yourself and what you can do to reach the top of your version of the mountain. And we quickly lose sight of the fact that the mountain only exists because of the people, the relationships and the friendships in our lives. These are what have created and built that mountain.  And the only way we’ll have a prayer at seeing the summit is to start with our gratitude for them and what they do every day to lead us closer to our goals. Every interaction we have, whether we see it to be positive or negative, has an effect on our success. Some of us believe it’s all self-made. But take a close look at anyone’s success and it should become clear. We are here to do all we can to enable those around us to achieve their goals. I can assure that if you take that “pay it forward” approach to the people in your life, new and old, you will not believe the success and good company you will keep at the top of your mountain. On that, I will leave you with a question I like to ask myself every morning. What interesting new person might you meet today?

Who have you met as a result of this book? How have you traditionally looked at relationships in your life and their value? What do you do to create and keep friends? How much of a genuine interest have you had in the success of others when compared to your own? Could you pay it forward a bit more than you are? Or perhaps you already are. Either way, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

~Reading for Your Success

Buy Never Eat Alone at Amazon

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Valuable Quotes:

Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.

Real networking is about finding ways to make other people more successful. It is about working hard to give more than you get.

I’ll sum up the key to success in one word: generosity.

Relationships are more like muscles–the more you work them, the stronger they get.

It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.

Human ambitions are like Japanese Carp; they grow proportional to the size of their environment. Our achievements grow according to the size of our dreams and the degree to which we are in touch with our mission.

Reaching your goals can be difficult. But if you have goals to begin with, a realizable plan to achieve them, and a cast of trusted friends to help you, you can do just about anything.–Virginia Feigles

Nothing in my life has created opportunity like a willingness to ask, whatever the situation.

Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can be more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other people’s success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in your own success.

Creativity in business is often nothing more than making connections that everyone else has almost thought of. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just attach it to a new wagon.

Passion keeps you going through the rough times come hell or high water, and both will come.

Balance can’t be bought or sold. It doesn’t need to be “implemented.” Balance is a mind-set, as individual and unique as our genetic code. Where you find joy, you find balance.

Ultimately making your mark as a connector means making a contribution–to your friends and family, to your company, to your community, and most important, to the world–by making the best use of your contacts and talents.

Remember that before someone will lend you a hand, you need to touch their heart.–Robin Sharma

Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problems as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter so the world will at least be a little bit different for our having passed through it. –Rabbi Harold Kushner

Achievement of some goals can feel as disappointing as failure. Living a connected life leads one to take a different view. Life is less a quest than a quilt. We find meaning, love, and prosperity through the process of stitching together our bold attempts to help others find their own way in their lives. The relationships we weave become an exquisite and endless pattern.

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