Leadership Tactic #61: Make It About Them

There’s a line in Fight Club that I’ve loved since the first second I heard it: “When people think you’re dying, they really, really just listen to you…instead of just waiting for their turn to speak.”

Once I heard that line, I started realizing how often I was just waiting for my turn to speak. I do this all of the time. Do you? Think about that today. Be aware of it today.

The big problem with that way of life, especially when it comes to business, is that it’s completely counterproductive. The more you focus on YOU, the less people care.

Here’s a great example for how to make it about the customer, not about your tip.

If you’ve tried to promote your business or your “personal brand” using social media the last few years, you probably realize what I mean. Go on Twitter or Facebook at some of the businesses you’ve Liked. Some of them write incessantly about themselves. They talk about their promotions, their products, their visions. (Now, I actually like it when businesses talk about the people behind the business–I think it’s important to put a human face to impersonal companies.)

Others focus on THEM (well, you). They feed you information that you can use, stories that will make you laugh or cry or think, or maybe a forum to share your thoughts. Somehow by focusing on you instead of them, they manage to attract way more fans.

I was listening to an awesome talk by Simon Sinek the other day that had a great example about how focusing on THEM can make a huge impact on the bottom line. (By the way, watch the whole talk–it’s the most informative and inspiring 30 minutes you’ll spend today.)

Sinek went up to a homeless woman in an urban area and asked her how much money she makes on an average day. She said about $20. At the time, she was holding a sign that was all about her. You’ve seen these signs. She was out of work, 5 kids, no husband, back pain, etc.

Sinek asked her if he could rewrite her sign for one day. She had nothing to lose, so she accepted.

2 hours later, she had made $40.

That’s twice as much as she makes a day. But Sinek pulled it off in 2 hours. What did the new sign say?

“If you only give once a month, please consider me next time.”

She made the sign about THEM. She’s putting herself in the giver’s shoes; she knows a passerby can’t give to everyone, so if they only give once a month, she’s saying that her cause is legitimate. She’ll still be there in a month.

It’s tough to be a great listener every time. Our thoughts drift, and maybe we have something really clever to say. But start to be aware of whether you’re truly listening or if you’re just waiting for your turn to talk.

Make it about THEM.

Do you have any examples regarding times that you’ve made it about them…or about you?