Apr 12, 2021 • Podcast

What is a Go-Giver? with Bob Burg

On this episode, Paul is thrilled to interview speaker and author of The Go-Giver, Bob Burg. 

Always give value to others.

“Be a go-getter (a person of action) and a go-giver (someone who is absolutely laser-focused on providing immense value to others).” 

Don’t be a go-taker (someone who takes without adding any value).

“Money is an echo of value.”


Connect with Bob at Burg.com.

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What is a Go-Giver? with Bob Burg

(Transcribed from podcast)

You know, money is simply an echo of value. Money is an echo of value. It’s the thunder, if you will, to value’s lightning, which means nothing more than that the focus must be on bringing immense value to another human being. – Bob Burg

Paul: Hello friends. We’ve got an exciting show for you today. Today we have Bob Burg on the show. Bob Burg – He is a highly sought after speaker sharing the platform with everyone from today’s business leaders, broadcast personalities, even a former US president. Now, Bob is the author of a number of books on sales, marketing, and influence with total book sales of well over a million copies. In fact, his book, The Go-Giver, which is co-authored with John David Mann, itself has sold over 975,000 copies and it’s been translated in 29 different languages. So we’re thrilled to have Bob on the show, and I will say, I actually read The Go-Giver about eight years ago. I share a quick story about that in the actual program today. But I’m excited to sit down with Bob to talk about The Go-Giver and talk about some of the principles, and also how it relates to sales. So please enjoy.

Before we get into the interview, though, a quick shout-out to our sponsor over at The Creative Impostor Studios. Andrea does a wonderful job, especially when it comes to starting a podcast, growing a podcast, even revamping it if that’s what you need. If you’ve been thinking about a podcast—if that’s where you’re looking to go with your brand, please reach out to Andrea and her team. We’re going to have a link to her website on this episode’s webpage, so please check it out.

Also, let’s mention a couple of books. Pick up Bob’s book on Amazon or wherever you get your books—The Go-Giver. He has several series in that Go-Giver brand. So you’ve got The Go-Giver Seller, The Go-Giver Influencer. There’s a whole series around it. The original though, The Go-Giver, it’s available wherever you get your books. You will gain a lot from it. I absolutely love this book.

Also, pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. In Value-Added Selling—actually, Bob and I talk about some of the parallels between The Go-Giver and Value-Added Selling and the concept of value and money. Really, it’s your go-to guide on how to go out there and compete more profitably. So pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. We’re on the fourth edition, and that’s available wherever you get your books, Amazon probably being the easiest.

Alright folks. Let’s get to the interview.

Paul: Hello friends. Welcome to another episode of the Q and A Sales Podcast. First of all, I wanted to thank Bob Burg for being on our show today, Bob. Thank you very much. Appreciate having you here.

Bob: Oh my pleasure, Paul. Great to be with you.

Paul: Bob, I’ve got to say, first of all, I’m a huge fan of The Go-Giver. In fact, I read your first book, The Go-Giver, it’s probably been about 10 years ago and the reason why… I was training a group of salespeople, and over lunch we were talking about, you know, some of our favorite sales books that we’ve been reading or anything that we’re reading right now. And there was one salesperson, she said, “Paul, you’ve got to check out this book, The Go-Giver.” And I said, “Okay. Yeah, I’ll check it out.” I first grabbed the Audible version, so I listened to it on my, actually, way home from that training piece, and I absolutely loved the book. (B: Oh, thank you.)

One thing I really loved about it is it’s more entertaining than most of the business books that I read. It’s written in a story, in a parable, which, you know, that’s how we learn. That’s how we’ve learned from the beginning of time. (B: Sure) Wanted to thank you for being here, and also, I’ve got to tell our community, you practice what you preach. I mean, we ran into each other in Orlando earlier this year. You had an event, I had an event, and I just came up and introduced myself and we stayed in contact. And I just asked if you’d like to be on the podcast, and in true Go-Giver fashion, you agreed. So wanted to thank you for being here today.

Bob: My pleasure to do so.

Paul: So let’s go ahead and get started with just a few questions. After I read the book, I was very curious about what initially sparked the idea for The Go-Giver. Maybe you could share a little on that.

Bob: Well, years ago, back in the nineties, I had a book out. It was really my first one. It was called Endless Referrals and the subtitle was Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales. And it was basically a how-to book written for entrepreneurs and salespeople who knew they had a great product or service; they knew it added immense value to the lives of their customers and clients, but they may not have felt comfortable with the idea of going out into their local communities and building those relationships that cause people to want to do business with them directly and refer them to others. So it was really just a system, and I define a system as the process of predictably achieving a goal based on a logical and specific set of how-to principles, you know, the key being predictability, right? If it’s been proven that by doing A you’ll get the desired result of B, then you know that all you need to do is A and continue to do A and continue to do A [chuckling] and eventually you’ll get the desired result of B.

So that’s what it was. It was the system for doing it, but it was a traditional how-to book. But I’d always enjoyed reading parables. As you said, that’s really how we learn. And I think that parables, which are stories, I think they reach the reader on a deeper heart level, right? And I’d always enjoyed reading them from, you know, whether it was Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman In The World and in his great stories to the magnificent “One-minute” parables from Drs. Blanchard and Johnson. And in more recent times, people like Chris Widener and Jon Gordon. Many of the people that you and I are both familiar with because we both belong to National Speakers Association.

And, you know, and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could take the basic premise of Endless Referrals, which is that all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust, and put that into parable form. So in coming up with the title, I basically just asked, so what is the essence, the basic essence of that person—that salesperson—who can quickly and sustainably create those know-like-and-trust relationships and it’s that they’re givers. They’re always giving value, to cite your language. They’re giving value to others. That is where their focus is. So calling it, The Go-Giver was kind of a natural. Really, the best thing I did for the book though, was to ask John David Mann, who at the time was the editor-in-chief of a magazine I used to write a monthly column for, and I knew he was brilliant writer and great storyteller—I asked him to be the lead writer, storyteller. And so we coauthored it and it was a great collaboration. But really the reason why the story pops as it does is because of his great writing.

Paul: The writing does matter, right?

[Both laughing]

Paul: That message, you know, just being The Go-Giver and immediately I got it. When I saw the title of the book, it’s kind of like a play on the term go-getter is it not?

Bob: It is, it is. It’s that, you know, that pattern interrupt, right, because people see go-giver and they think, ‘Wait a second. I know of the go-getter.’ In fact, there was a great parable called “The Go-Getter,” written by Peter Kyne I think nearly a hundred years ago. Wonderful book if you ever get a chance to read it; it’s fantastic. And what’s interesting is people naturally assume that the opposite of a go-giver is a go-getter, but we don’t think so. We love go-getters because go-getters take action. And you know, you’re a very successful entrepreneur yourself. You know that you can have all the greatest thoughts, best ideas, the nicest intent, but unless action’s put into the mix, nothing’s going to happen. So we say, be a go-getter, a person of action, and a go-giver, someone who’s absolutely laser focused on providing immense value to others. Be a go-getter and a go-giver, just don’t be a go-taker. That’s the person who feels entitled if you will, to take take take without adding value to the person, to the process, to the situation.

Paul: Gotcha. And I think we, you know, just hearing those names, the go-giver, the go getter, the go-taker, we probably know each and every one of those people. We run into them all the time.

Bob: Sure, sure. And you know, it’s interesting because a go-taker tends to be very frustrated because they rarely achieve the kind of success they feel they deserve. Now sometimes they do though. But it’s a very difficult way to make a living. Really tough. You’ve just got to be there all the time and working. You’re never really working a great referral group because your customers don’t particularly necessarily like you and they don’t nec—, but if you know, you work hard, there’s a lot of ways. It’s a big world. You can certainly be a go taker and have some success, but very very difficult to sustain.

Paul: It is. And, just hearing you talk about this—the go-taker and the go-giver—it almost seems like, for a go-taker, there’s a lack of meaning in the success maybe or something. Just knowing what I’ve, you know, read about the go-giver and the five laws, maybe there just lacking that depth of meaning in that success.

Bob: Oh, I think so. Because I think as human beings, most of us really do want to feel we are making a contribution, that we’re, you know, again, to take your phrase of, you know, we’re bringing value to others, to the world around us, that we’re nudging the world forward. As entrepreneurs and salespeople, we express that desire through our business, through our products, through our services, so people who do not take it, I think, to that level, and their focus is really on ‘Just what am I getting from it?’ And that’s where it really breaks down, I think. As we know, money is simply an echo of value, right? Money is an echo of value. It’s the thunder, if you will, to value’s lightning, which means nothing more than that the focus must be on bringing immense value to another human being.

The money we receive is simply a very natural result of the value we provide. And that’s where you and your dad just, you make such a difference for people because you’re talking about the difference between price and value. Where price is a dollar figure, it’s finite. It is what it is. Right. And if you sell on price, you you’re a commodity, right? You sell on a high value, well, as you say, you’re a resource. Now, the thing that I think people do is they confuse price and value, because value, and this is just my definition, but value to me is the relative worth or desirability of a thing, of some thing, to the end user or beholder. In other words, what is it about this thing-this product-service-concept-idea, what have you, that brings so much worth or value to another human being that they will willingly exchange their money for it and be ecstatic that they did while you make a very healthy profit?

Paul: Absolutely. I mean, value, it’s just critical. In this world, you have an opportunity every day to create value for other people, in the business world and our personal lives. What’s interesting, how you’re defining value, so similar to how we define value. It’s, you know, it’s an outcome, it’s what people gain. And it’s what they’re willing to sacrifice to attain it. And that includes price and cost and all that good stuff. You know, one thing— I’d be doing the Q and A Sales Podcast community a disservice if I didn’t ask just for maybe a brief preview of the five laws, because I love your book so much. And I think if we can give them a little preview of what it is, it’ll really help them. So maybe a little on that.

Bob: Sure. So the five laws themselves are the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity. The first law, the law of value, says your true worth—in the business sense, of course—your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment, which for anyone who hasn’t studied your teachings, they would think, ‘Wow, you’re losing money,’ but you know that, you know, you teach that’s different, right? It’s the—. And so, we know that the greater in experience you can give that other person, right, that’s the difference maker and they feel great about the fact that they’re paying what you’re asking, because they’re receiving so much more in use value.

The law of compensation says your income is determined by how many people you serve as well as how well you serve them. So where law number one says give more in value than you take in payment, law number two tells us that the more people whose lives you touch with the exceptional value you provide, the more money with which you’ll be rewarded.

Law number three is the law of influence, which says your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. Now, when we say this again, that sounds counterintuitive, but so let me just clarify that when we say “place the other person’s interests first,” we certainly don’t mean you should be anyone’s doormat, or a martyr, or self-sacrificial in any way. Absolutely not at all. It’s simply understanding as Joe, the protege and the story learn from several of the mentors, the golden rule of business, of sales, is that, again, as we talked about earlier, all things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to you those people they know like, and trust. Well, you know, Paul, there’s no faster, more powerful, or more effective way to elicit those feelings toward you in others than by genuinely moving from an I focus or me focus to that other focus—looking out for their interest or as Sam, one of the mentors in the story advised Joe, making your win all about the other person’s win.

Law number four, the law of authenticity, says the most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. In this part of the story, Debra shared an important lesson from her sales career, that all the skills in the world, the sales skills, technical skills, people skills as important as they are (and indeed, they are all very important), they’re also all for naught if you don’t come at it from your true, authentic core. But when you do, when you show up as yourself, right, [chuckling] day after day, week after week, month after month, people feel comfortable with you. They feel good about you. They feel safe with you. Why wouldn’t they? They know who they’re getting. Right? And that’s something that’s big when it comes to trust. And this is where the relationship really—where the magic of the relationship really happens.

And then law number five is the law of receptivity which kind of brings it all home. And this law says the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving which really means nothing more than understanding that, yeah, you breathe out, but you’ve also got to breathe in. You breathe out carbon dioxide; you breathe in oxygen. You breathe out which is giving; you breathe in which is receiving. Unfortunately, the world around us provides us with so many negative, horrible messages regarding money, abundance, prosperity, business, and so forth, you’d think anyone who makes a lot of money does it on the backs of others or it does it through nefarious means. It’s a big world. There’s plenty of people out there who do things that we, you know, would not agree with. But, nah, by and large, the only way you can make a very, very hefty income is by providing immense value to others. Cause remember, you know, and I say this to sales groups, nobody’s going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet.

Paul: [Chuckling] So true.

Bob: They’re not going to buy from you because you need the money and they’re not even going to buy from you because you’re a really nice person. They’re going to buy it from you only because they believe that they will be better off by doing so than by not doing so, which is the only reason anyone should buy from you or from me or from anyone else. So you’ve got to provide/give them great value. You’ve got to touch the lives of others. You’ve got to place their interest first because, as you know, it’s about them. You’ve got to be authentic. And then you have created the, what we call, benevolent context for your success. But you’ve got to be able to receive it. So that’s why we say that that giving and receiving are not opposite concepts. It’s not, are you a giver or a receiver, no. You’re a giver and a receiver, but you understand that the laws of life, the laws of nature say the giving comes first. We plant before we harvest; we sew before we reap. We give and that giving leads to receiving, and then we need to be able to accept that with gratitude.

Paul: That’s excellent. And now, Bob just a follow up question on that. You’ve worked with so many different sales organizations, salespeople from throughout the world. Which law do you think is the most challenging for people to accept and to apply?

Bob: Oh, without question it’s the law of receptivity, because we have been trained by the world around us with these negative negative messages about money. And remember, like 99.9% unconscious and that’s the most insidious part of all. It’s not that we resist abundance on a conscious level. Everyone would say, “Sure, I’ll take all the, you know, money.” But how often do we see people that either sabotage the situation, even when they’ve earned the right to receive, or in some other way, push it away. I remember a great book published back in 1960, Psycho-Cybernetics, by Dr. Maxwell Maltz, talked about how the mind works and how our belief systems, which are given to us well before we’re able to question premises and critically determine whether this— right? And the world gives us all this information, and that’s how we—. And the way we see the world unconsciously, our set of beliefs, our belief system is what dictates to us what we will allow ourselves to accomplish.

And unfortunately, the world around us gives us such horrible, negative messages about money and abundance that the law of receptivity is the most difficult one, which is why I’m a big believer, Paul, that we need to make a proactive study of prosperity. Many of these people from National Speakers Association, but people like Randy Gage, people like Ellen Rogin, people like— and others like Sharon Lechter and Bob Proctor and David Nagel, Ken Honda. These are great teachers and practitioners of prosperity and they all have blogs, and they have books, and they have YouTube videos, and they have all these things. So my feeling is, you know, we get enough of the horrible stuff from the world around us naturally, I think we need to study prosperity to make sure to bring that really good information into our minds.

Paul: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I was thumbing through your book today, I have it right next to me actually, but one of your endorsements was from the guy who wrote Thou Shalt Prosper.

Bob: Oh yes.

Paul: His name is…

Bob: Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Paul: That’s it. And I remember listening to his book one time. And in his book, he talks about how helping people make more money is one of the greatest things we can do. And if you think about it, that’s—you know, you could make the case that in The Go-Giver, you’re helping other people become successful—and so this whole idea of making money sometimes gets a negative connotation, as we’ve mentioned but, helping people make more money, I              t’s, part of who we are. It’s part of what we can help other people do.

Bob: Absolutely. And that’s why the free market, when properly understood, is actually the best way to help everyone. Everyone benefits from a free market because in a free market, one plus one equals three. (P: There you go.) [inaudible] expanding— Your value expands. Remember price is finite, value is expansive. There’s never a limit on the value we can provide another human being.

Paul: Only our mindset. [Laughing]

Bob: Only our mindset. And that goes right back to the abundance.

Paul: It does absolutely. You know, I’ve got to ask because I’ve read The Go-Giver, and it’s a book that I pass out to colleagues, other salespeople. If I meet a salesperson and I feel like they’re aligned with The Go-Giver, I’ll send them the book as just some recognition.

Bob: Wow!

Paul: And, occasionally, I’ll get an email about Value-Added Selling, like, “Hey, this book really helped my career.” People will share a story, an example. I’m sure you’re getting just bombarded with messages from people saying, “Hey, this book helped me. It changed my life. Changed my perspective on business.”

Would you be willing to share maybe a positive note that you get about the book from one of the people that have read it, that really believe in it that really sticks with you, if you wouldn’t mind.

Bob: Well, no, you know, when we receive a letter, an email, it’s such a compliment. And I think, again, as an author and you know this, of course as an author, it’s just there’s— is there any nicer thing than to know that the value you provided through this medium, if you will, through the book, touch someone’s life in a very positive way.

But I remember one, this was from way back. It was soon after the book came out, and it came out in the financial crisis that we had back in 2008. And it was a letter from a guy who owned his own small business. He was a roofer in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. And what he said was, like with every other roofer, he was going through a horrible time. People were just cutting back. The business was just shrinking and he was doing what every other referral was doing, and that is trying to give the least in order to make the same amount of money. And he said, he read the book and it just kind of hit him. And he had a whole different idea instead, “How could I add value?”

Now, like you and your dad say, and this is very important, that adding value doesn’t mean you’re adding to your own cost. It means you’re adding something in the experience to another human being. And this is what he did. And so what he did is he found how he researched the insurance companies that people were usually doing business with when they had an issue with their roof. And he really found out how to make it easier for his customers to get their claims taken care of. He cut down a lot of their time and energy in doing so. So without it costing him anything but some research time, and once he had that recouped that was all profit to him, he was able to now approach people and let them know that not only could he do a great job with their roof, like every other roofer can, and that’s fine, but he could actually make the process for them to recoup their money extremely simple. That is adding value to a customer’s life. And his business just really took off from that point. Now that’s the great part. [laughing]

Paul: Wow. That’s incredible. And you think about, during those tough times, right, and without reading that book, without understanding that message, living it, and then having the opportunity to go out there and do it, who knows where his business would’ve been otherwise, which is great.

Well, that’s exciting, you know, We’re getting towards the end here. So I’d like to hear just one thought. And again, I’d be doing a disservice to the podcast community if I didn’t ask if Bob Burg has some words of encouragement for the sales community. The past year has been a tough year. It’s interesting. A lot of the salespeople I train, they’re telling me, “Hey, I’ve had my best year financially. I’m crushing my quota.” Others have been struggling. But I think anyone, whether you’ve been successful on paper or not, the past year has been struggling mentally just getting through this year. Any words of encouragement or advice for those salespeople out there?

Bob: Well, we have seen the same thing where some people have just done great, and others have just been—. And I think it, first, it comes back to understanding that successful people tend to deal in truths. They don’t ignore the truth because it’s inconvenient. Instead, they accept it. They research it, they understand it, they accept it. And then they say, “Okay, now that I know the truth, what’s not in my control and what is in my control?” And the things that aren’t in their control, they’re going to ignore it because it’s not in their control, but they’re not going to stay there though. They’re not going to live in that place that’s not in their control. They’re now going to ask, “What can I do? What is in my control?” And once we start asking ourselves that question, okay, that’s a different question. That’s a different premise. And now we’re able to find the answers.

But, you know, I think the piece of advice, if you will, which I think holds for any time, whether it’s COVID or anytime that’s not COVID, which is hopefully most of the time, right? [chuckles] And this is something I learned almost 40 years ago. I’d been in sales for a couple of years and had some real good success, but I went to work for another company, which was selling a high-ticket item, and I immediately went into a slump that was very difficult for me to get out of. And I began to panic and I began, you know, and I began to really focus on myself and the sale and getting out of the slump. It was all about me, right? Again, younger Bob Burg. And, you know, it’s like, hey, I think it’s very, very natural. But fortunately, one of the people at the company, and he wasn’t even in sales—I think he was in the engineering department or something—and I didn’t know him very well, much older guy, nice guy. Didn’t have much to say, but whenever he did say something, it was typically pretty profound.

And I think he saw me as Joe in The Go-Giver, who I’d write about years later, you know, the young, up-and-coming, ambitious, aggressive salesperson who was very frustrated and not coming near to living his potential. And he said to me, “Burg,” (he was a last name kind of guy), he said, “Burg, can I give you some advice?” And I said, “Yes, please do. I need it.” And he said, “If you want to make a lot of money in sales,” he said, “don’t have ‘making money’ as your target. Your target,” he said, “is serving others. Now, when you hit the target, you’ll get a reward, and that reward will come in the form of money and you can do with that money whatever you choose. But never forget, the money is simply the reward for hitting the target, it ain’t the target itself. Your target is serving others.” And I think when we can approach sales from that foundational premise, I think then, Paul, we’re really nine steps ahead of the game in a ten-step game.

Paul: That’s great. I absolutely love it. And that’s what it’s all about. It is about helping others. It’s about serving others. It’s not necessarily making a deal for your company, it’s about making a difference for that customer.

Bob: Paul, I love that.

Paul: Excellent. Man, well, this has been great. So I’m, I’m curious, you know, I read The Go-Giver several years ago. What is something new you’re working on?

Bob: My business partner, Kathy Tagenel, who’s absolutely brilliant, she and I just opened up The Go-Giver Success Alliance mentorship community which is really committed to helping our members to achieve their next level of business success and personal fulfillment. So it’s not a Facebook group. It’s actually on a whole separate platform that we have. So we’re very, very excited about it. Some really great people in there, all sharing with each other and all focused on bringing immense value to others and being open to receiving the value that comes their way as well.

Paul: Oh, that’s great. That’s great. We’ve got to put some info on that on the transcript for this. We’ll have some links to all that stuff on this episode’s web page. And also, people can actually go and download the first chapter of The Go-Giver. Is that right?

Bob: Yeah. Burg.com is probably the best place: BURG.com. And if they just scroll down to where it has the books, they can get the first chapter and an excerpt from, really, any of my books.

Paul: That’s great. And The Go-Giver by the way, it’s available wherever you get books. I mean, there’s, I think, close to a million sold worldwide. Is that correct?

Bob:  Yeah. Close. It’s getting there. [chuckling]

Paul: Wow. All right. Well hopefully, hey, maybe this will push it over the—. [laughing]

Bob: You never know. Absolutely!

Paul: I’ll get my cut that after. Hey, law of reciprocity, right? [inaudible]

Bob: You’re in sales. You deserve that fee. [Laughing]

Paul: Well, this has been absolutely wonderful. Thank you for joining us on the show. Thanks for adding value to the community and sharing your thoughts. So, really appreciate it.

Bob: Thank you, Paul. I love the work you’re doing.

Paul: Hey man. Have a great one.

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