Monday, May 11, 2009
Who's Got Your Back? Building Trust in Your Life
Quick: Name three people -- who are not related to you -- that you would trust with your deepest, most intimate thoughts.
Now let me guess who you named: 1. The guy in the cubicle next to yours; 2. Someone you met online nine months ago; and 3. One of your employees.
If you're Jorge Colon or Maxine Zdebiak, it's the second choice. If you're someone else, you may be so busy laughing your ass off at the thought of trusting anyone at work to answer your phone -- let alone tell them your deepest thoughts and feelings -- that you can't think of a single person.
But according to networking guru Keith Ferrazzi, what we all need is deeper, more trusting relationships. Without them, he says, we're never going to really have the level of success we desire.
Ferrazzi says the idea for his new book, "Who's Got Your Back," came about when a friend made him realize that even though he was super busy and seemed very successful with his company and bestselling book, "Never Eat Alone," he had “few relationships with people I could really open up to, share my fears and failures and goals and dreams with, and ask for help.”
Ferrazzi began considering why such relationships were important and how they could be developed. But unknown to Ferrazzi as he was working on the book was that Colon, Zdebiak and two other people who had met through Ferrazzi's Greelight Community had already formed a close-knit group, working for months to develop a deep friendship that would transition into advising one another professionally.
“We’re basically four wheels on a car,” says Colon, a Florida-based lawyer. “Everyone has different roles they play. We end up sharing more with one another than we do with our own family.”
While the four members in various parts of the world are very close, only Zbebiak and Colon have met in person. Using Skype, having one-hour phone conferences at least three times a week and e-mailing continually, the group has encouraged one another when needed; kicked butt when required.
“Even though our relationship has been virtual, sometimes it’s easier to talk to a stranger. We have a real candid intimacy, and we really worked to develop that,” Zbebiak says. “I didn’t have this with other business associates. This is a very different way to build relationships. We stay in contact three or four times a week, and exchange a lot of e-mails. The connection is so strong; we feel we’ve known each other for years.”
When learning of the group, Ferrazzi sent them drafts of "Who's Got Your Back" to get their input. “It was uncanny when he (Ferrazzi) asked us to review the book, because it was what we were experiencing,” Zbebiak says. “Our group has brought me a stronger self-confidence. We have incredible support for one another.”
Much in the tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous or Weight Watchers where there is no clear leader and members support one another through highs and lows, Ferrazzi says he wants people to find that “safe place” where they can help one another achieve the success they desire.
Ferrazzi says that as many people struggle with tough financial times, being laid off from jobs or watching careers disintegrate, such close, trusting relationships are needed more than ever. “You don’t have to struggle alone,” he says. “It could be the woman in the cubicle next to you, or if you’re the boss, members of your own team, who can help you.”
Of course, this is often difficult for many people who believe that letting their guard down, or exposing their vulnerabilities to others will make them less successful, or appear weak. Ferrazzi says he learned first-hand that "struggling alone" not only hurts personally, but professionally.
"We can't do things the way we used to," he says. "Those leadership skills -- where we went it alone -- aren't working today."
Do you think relationships in the workplace are changing? How?