On a recent 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas (YS) spoke with guest Joe Hart, CEO of Dale Carnegie, on his new book “Take Command.”
YS: How did you and your co-author, Michael Crom, leverage the ideas for Dale Carnegie for 2023?
JH: During the pandemic, Michael and I were talking about what the world was going through. And we just realized that the world needed a book that brought Dale Carnegie’s wisdom to life for the current generation. Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” is an absolute masterpiece. It’s been a bestseller for over 85 years. So, we thought, how do we build on these amazing ideas? Can we make them accessible to a younger generation? That’s where we came up with the concept of “Take Command.” It’s really about taking command of your life, by breaking it into three parts. The first is, take command of your thoughts and your emotions. Think about all the things that hold us back or fuel us. They all happen between our ears for the most part. If I’m afraid or stressed, how do I take command of my emotions and turn them into something that will propel me forward? How do I develop resilience and courage in any kind of adversity?
The second part is, take command of your relationships. So much of our lives come down to the quality of the relationships we have. When we have good relationships, that leads to happiness and success. But how do you deal with difficult or challenging people?
The third part is, take command of your future. Live an intentional life. What’s your vision for yourself? That really draws on the wisdom that millions and millions of people have gained from the Dale Carnegie program. Have you created a vision? Where do you want to be? What kind of life do you want to lead? What’s your legacy? We have this life right now. How do we make it as impactful as possible?
We’re hoping that these steps are going to help unlock even more greatness for the people who read it.
YS: Could you expand on the quote from the first chapter:” I now know with a conviction beyond all doubt that the biggest problem you and I have to deal with, in fact, almost the only problem we have to deal with, is choosing the right thoughts.”
JH: That quote comes from Carnegie’s “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” Someone had asked Carnegie, “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve ever learned?” and he talked about the importance of how we think. If you think about two people who are in the exact same situation, but one person is happy, while the other is down, why is that? It’s just the way that we think. So, we felt that the place to start the first chapter was with our thoughts. We have a whole range of emotions and ways we approach things during the course of the day. But how often do we stop and actually consider how we think about the thoughts in our head? I f someone says something, you might get defensive. Why? Maybe the first thought in your head was that person was trying to hurt you. But what if you re-evaluated that thought and asked, “Is that really true?” Maybe your perception could be wrong. Maybe this person is actually trying to help you. Maybe you should assume positive intent. Often with social media, you’ll see what other people are up to and it might bring you down. You might think you’re missing out and that people aren’t including you. Stop. Take a timeout and ask, “What thought is going through your head?” Maybe you’re thinking, “People don’t like me.” Is that really right? Maybe we should flip that thought or reframe it.
So, part of what we talk about in this chapter are techniques and strategies to help people pay attention to what they’re thinking and to start choosing thoughts that are empowering.
YS: We’re going to take a few questions from our audience. David Tawil, CEO OF Sellers Back Office, asks, ‘What is the most important trait for building a business at 23 years old?”
JH: Remember that you don’t know what you don’t know when you start a business Especially if it’s your first business. But it really is about conviction, belief, and persistence. In my experience, starting my first business, it was harder than I thought it would be. The things I thought were going to happen didn’t happen. I found myself working way harder than I had ever thought possible, having incredible headwinds that I thought were going to drive us out of business. But you’ve got to have conviction, belief, and persistence. I really believe that if you have a good idea and a sound business concept, and you really put everything you have into it, you’re going to be successful. Now, maybe that’s not always true. But you want to give everything you have so that if it doesn’t work the way that you want it and you move on to something else, you can at least look back at it and say, “I gave it 100%. I have no regrets on it.”
YS: Our next audience member wishes to remain anonymous. They would like to know how someone can apply the strategies of Dale Carnegie even when they are at odds with their personality.
JH: The essence of Dale Carnegie is that every single person has inherent greatness, every single person is unique, and you need to live according to who you are authentically. When we talk about a person giving a presentation, for example, they might try to be someone they’re not. But we always get the best talks from those who are truly coming from who they are and from their experience. But then, a lot of the principles from “How to Win Friends and Influence People” encourages readers to behave a certain way if they want to have stronger relationships. For example, the very first principle is “don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.” Now, it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to have hard conversations with people. It just means that often people who are constantly critical and negative are not people that we want to be around. Now, someone might say, “Gosh, I’m just authentically negative and critical.” But I think life is about growth and improvement. So, what the principles offer is a way to develop stronger relationships and to have a happier, fuller life.
YS: Could you expand on this Dale Carnegie quote from Chapter 2: “If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be.”
JH: We used that quote because Chapter 2 is really about conditioning your mind for success. It’s great to go into the gym and lift weights once. But if you really want to get strong, you’ve got to keep going over and over. That’s what conditioning your mind for success is about. You develop this ability to think in a constructive way that helps and empowers you.
Part of what we talk about is building a routine. Do you have routines in your life that are helping you develop consistent patterns and habits that will make you successful? Every morning, when I wake up, I’ll get a cup of green tea and carve out 30-60 minutes to reflect about the prior day. What worked? What did not go well? Do I need to go back in to have a conversation with someone? I haven’t always been that way. I’m sure other people could also say that the first thing they do is check their cell phone, emails, or whatnot. And maybe that works for some people. But I want to carve out that time to make sure that I’m intentional with the rest of my day. Usually, I find that any of the emails that are there aren’t all that urgent. They can wait. This chapter is specifically talking about our mindset. Are we doing things to develop our mindset? Are we reminding ourselves of our strengths? And are we starting to frame our thoughts so that we see opportunities, instead of just seeing challenges everywhere?
YS: A consistent theme in your talks is that connecting with people authentically and respectfully in one of the most important skills you can have.
Can you elaborate on that?
JH: So many things in life come down to our relationships and the quality of our relationships with other people. Whether it’s the people in our immediate personal circle, the people who we work with, or anyone else. Dale Carnegie had said that 15% of what we do that’s successful comes from technical skill, 85% comes from our ability to interact with others. You could be really great and knowledgeable at your career, whether it be an engineer, lawyer, doctor, etc., but if you can’t engage with people effectively, you’re going to be limited in terms of how far you can go and the impact that you can have. So, when we talk about connecting with others, it really is about understanding other people and having empathy. Trying to see things from another person’s point of view. Even when dishing criticism, I personally think you can almost say anything to someone if you say it in the right way, particularly coming from the right spirit and intention. That’s what it’s really about. Helping people connect and learning how to interact with people. Even if you’re already great at it, how do you get better?
YS: How does an executive or CEO balance their responsibility to grow the company while being respectful and empathetic to others?
JH: They’re not mutually exclusive. I think there is a perception that in order to get great results, you have to be critical and really tough. But there are many examples of some of the greatest CEOs who have gotten people working together, helped them bring out their best, and who have achieved great results. One example from the book, who has been a mentor to me personally, is Alan Mulally, who was the CEO of Boeing and Ford. He came and took over Ford in 2006, when it was near bankruptcy. He took over a company that had a very challenging culture – people were undermining each other, gossiping, and all these different kinds of things- and he said, “Look, we’re not going to have that kind of a culture. We’re going to work together as one team.” He basically set the values for the culture, and he told me personally, “The CEO has to make sure that they have zero tolerance for people who violate those values.” It might have been in an executive team meeting, someone would be sarcastic or would say something negative to somebody else, and he wouldn’t tolerate it. He set a culture where everything in the organization was transparent. Everyone knew the plan, everyone knew the metrics, and so forth. You can achieve great results and bring the best out of people at the same time. If people aren’t getting results, that doesn’t mean you tolerate that either. It just means that there’s a way that you handle it that at least respects their dignity. If someone’s not hitting their targets, you say, “Hey, I noticed you’ve been missing your targets. Let’s talk about that.” And try to assess whether or not the person is capable and willing. If they’re not, you say, “That’s okay. This is probably just not the place for you.” Bringing out the best in someone doesn’t mean that you tolerate mediocrity.
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