I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Stech July 2006, at the grand opening of a real estate development project in which we were both investing. I consider myself very fortunate to have met a lot of great people in the normal course of making investments and attending classes, courses, and clubs. However, if you’re like me, you’ve probably come to the realization that it’s not possible to maintain close relationships with everyone you meet. There simply isn’t enough time in the day. Dave however, is one of the few outstanding people I’ve met for whom I will make the time.
Dave has held executive positions for 2 well-known Fortune 50 companies for over 20 years, has early-retired twice, is an active real estate investor (e.g. one of his team’s strengths is research & due diligence), and places taking care of his family at the top of his list of priorities. He’s one of the most genuine and sincere people I’ve had the priviledge of knowing.
He shared with me 3 insightful and inspiring ideas that have already made a huge impact on my life since I began applying them (almost 10 months ago now), which I’m going to share with you here. These are more than just words of wisdom; if you read with your heart, I think you’ll notice there’s some other “positive energy” or “spiritual rightness” to them — that applies not only to business, but to life.
Dave Stech Success Concept #1: Give First
If you have ever been to a networking event, 90% of the people typically go with the wrong idea in mind. They walk in asking themselves, “who can I meet that can help me?” Not that this is necessarily bad, but that there is a better way. Have you ever known someone that was a “taker”? Where they’re always trying to get something from you, whether it’s your ideas, money, or time? It can be draining, right? Don’t you prefer to hang out with “givers”, i.e. people who contribute ideas, energy and time? People who help you move towards your goals? Be like the kind of person you would prefer spending your time with.
John F Kennedy said it well, when he prompted the American public to “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” The same idea applies on the smaller, more immediate scale for each one of us, i.e. with those we interact with on a daily basis. This applies to whether it’s a family member, a business partner, or someone you’re meeting for the first time at a networking event.
Offer and take steps to add value first. Call it good manners, good karma, or “paying it forward” – whatever the label, it’s like magic, and better yet, it works.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s simply a better way to be. You’ll feel better for helping others. You’ll feel more positive, and with that positive feeling you’ll accomplish more. A potential indirect benefit I should mention is that someone might feel like they now “owe you a favor”. Though I caution you not to give only because you expect to receive from that person later on. This might seem a bit self-contradicting, but the more genuine and selfless your intention when you give, the more unexpected goodness, from unexpected sources, will come back to you.
Dave Stech Success Concept #2: The 3-Filter Rule
The second key concept for business success, is a common sense approach on how to choose your business associates. Once you read them, it may seem obvious, but the key is to be aware of them and apply these filters as appropriate. Dave’s 3-filter rule helps you filter out or exclude certain types of people with whom you should or should not be building relationships. Here are the questions to ask of the individual in question:
Filter 1: Does the person have an uncontrolled ego?
Filter 2: Does the person have uncontrolled greed?
Filter 3: Is the person trustworthy?
To expand a bit on each of these, the first question is a check on a person’s ability to see and admit their own flaws and limitations. If they believe they are always right and/or are overconfident to the point where they can’t or won’t learn from a given situation — sooner or later this ultimately catches up with them, and can negatively impact you if you’ve partnered with them.
Regarding uncontrolled greed, those who “make it” in business do so because they act ethically and because they strive to create win-win situations. Successful business people seek to add value to all parties involved in a transaction. If you’ve got someone who’s only and always thinking about themselves and/or is not willing to think and give something for the other side, then chances are they are short-sighted and will not be in business for the long term.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
The third point, trustworthiness, falls into the “yeah that’s obvious” category, but make sure you check and watch for it. It’s impossible to ask someone every possible situational question and how they would respond, so at the end of the day — this point of trustworthiness is key. You want to know when the tough decision comes up, that the person will simply “do the right thing.” That’s it. It all boils down to that.
Now, I recognize these 3 filters presents some challenges of practical application. You might ask, how do I determine if they have a huge uncontrolled ego, or are exceedingly greedy, or simply trustworthy?
Here are a few ideas that can help:
a) Spend some time getting to know the person. Listen to their stories and ask lots of questions. Find out when they had difficult choices to make, what did they decide and why?
b) Find out who they spend their time with. Who a person chooses to spend their time with reflects a great deal about them.
c) Ask for referrals. If people are as good as they say they are, and they’ve been in the business for some time, they should have no problem, providing credible references. Be sure you are serious about pursuing a longer term relationship with them and not wasting their time.
Perhaps I may be a bit naive, but I prefer to expect the best in people, until they prove themselves otherwise. At the same time, the investor/analytical part of me, is always cautious and questioning. I aim to be honest with myself in assessing the people I decide to partner with and/or promote.
Of these 3 filters, Dave says:
“If you see 1 of these qualities you should walk away.
If you see 2 you should run away.
If you see 3, shame on you, for not running at 2!”
A forth criteria, would be to spend time working only with those whose company you enjoy. Life’s about adding value AND having fun. Joy is supposed to be part of the process.
Dave Stech Success Concept #3: The Power of 6
The third key concept for business success, is something he calls “The Power of 6.” This goes back to the 1st paragraph in this article, where many of us may have 20, 200, or 2000 contacts, but practically we can only have “close” business relationship with a select few. (We’ll exclude family relationships in this, as those should always be a priority for you.)
This last concept hit home for me, as I was attending all these clubs, classes and seminars, getting contacts, making phone calls, and sending e-mails. The race I was quickly losing to, was one against time.
The concept, the solution, is this:
Find, build and maintain 6 relationships with people who are at or above your level of competency, in the same or complementary field as you.
Wouldn’t it be great, when you’re asking for help to send an e-mail to just 6 people, and know they will do everything in their power to give you the best possible advice? Or to make a phone call and know they will pick up or that you will be at the top of their list to call back? You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, just a select few. You’ll find that when you apply this concept you will have more time AND will be able to achieve more.
Are you starting to see the efficiency and the power in this?
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. If you share this concept of “Power of 6” with your 6 people, and they do the same with theirs, you essentially have 36 people in your network. And if one of my 6 gives me a referral to one of theirs, I don’t have to re-establish and re-build that relationship because I’ve also already shared with them the 3-filter rule, and since I trust my 6, I trust their 6 by association.
If we go one additional level, and say those 36 people, have their 6, you now have 216 high quality people in your network, and with that many people, you should be able to solve any problem you run across and achieve whatever it is that you aim to accomplish.
Because all successful people take action, to recap, here are 3 suggested actions you can choose to take:
1) Make it a conscious decision to help at least one person each day. It can be a small or large thing, but hold yourself to it. You’ll feel better for it, and in return, you’ll see more results.
2) Apply the 3-filter rule to your existing business associates. If you’re in doubt, ask some more questions to try and get to a point where your gut tells you “yup, this person’s trustworthy”, otherwise move-on. Sometimes one of the best decisions you can make is to *not* spend time with someone that may be questionable.
3) List your ideal “Power of 6″ people and start taking steps to cultivate those relationships. If you don’t personally yet know 6 people whom you’d want on your team, describe their ideal characteristics & experiences, and then start asking around. Seek them out. Trust me, they’re out there; it’s up to you to find them. Once you have a solid team around you, you’ll be making large strides towards your goals.
These 3 success concepts have made a profound impact on me and my results. I know they will have the same impact on you and your endeavors once you begin to apply them.
Dec 2008 Update: Want to bring this Power of 6 concept to life for yourself?