Bob Beaudine, author of “The Power Of Who,” asserts an intriguing take on relationships: “You already know everyone you need to know.” As president and CEO of the executive search firm Eastman & Beaudine, he has placed people in some of the top jobs in the country; they now run major league teams, television networks, and college athletic programs. As a motivational speaker, he is sought by business, sports and entertainment organizations to speak at conferences, conventions and workshops. As such, he interacts with meeting planners on a regular basis.
Recently, Beaudine offered insights and ideas on both the day-to-day challenges and the longer-term career choices that affect meeting professionals. Here’s the takeaway . . .
Staying Focused Amid Chaos
For planners trying to stay calm and focused when there are a million things to accomplish before the day is done, Beaudine advised throwing out the concept of multitasking.
“The first thing we need to realize is that multitasking is an illusion,” he said. He pointed out that a meeting planner can’t solve a problem, such as getting signage changed for an upcoming event, and make a deal to plan a meeting for a new client at the same time.
“Double-mindedness does not work,” Beaudine said. “A classic situation many of us experience is when one person is reading or watching television while the other person is trying to talk about a problem.”
Planners need to focus solely on the task at hand and move in the direction of that focus to get things done, he advised.
One of the chapters in “The Power of Who” is titled “Lists and Instructions Are Not Your Enemy,” in which Beaudine explains how lists create structure and bring clarity.
“You can never get what you can’t see,” he pointed out. “You have to make a list that sets priorities.”
Mary Kay Ash, who founded Mary Kay Cosmetics, lived by this concept, he said. “She had a list of seven things a day she wanted to accomplish and she did not move to the second item until she had accomplished the first item.”
Lists also help planners get back on track when they lose focus, he added. “Think of going to the grocery store. Someone asks you to get them something, but you walk in and see something else, completely forgetting what you came in for. With a list, you can re-focus on what you need and get back on track.”
With all the distractions we live with every day, such as phones, Facebook, Twitter or people popping into our offices to talk about problems, lists are more important than ever, Beaudine said.
“The key is to remember that every task is extraordinary and requires your focus,” he said. “Start the day with a list, but try to create that list at the end of the previous day. In my office, we end the day by making a list. This helps us stop and focus on our goals for the next day.”
Beaudine suggested keeping paper and pen or some other means to record information close at hand.
“There are people who can’t sleep, because they wake up worried about something they need to do the next day,” he said. “My advice is to keep paper and pen by the bed, write down what’s bothering you in the night, and then you will remember to deal with it the next day.”
He added, “The best and most successful people keep some way of taking notes with them wherever they go. When someone gives you a good idea and you write it down, it shows respect, another key to being successful.”
Avoid Getting Overwhelmed
With all the details involved in planning an event, meeting professionals can easily feel overwhelmed. To avoid this, Beaudine advised that they remember his number-one rule: If you try to do too much by yourself, you do nothing well. This is when reaching out to friends becomes essential, he said.
“We have been lied to,” he said. “We are taught that mixing friendship with business is taboo, so we tend to separate our friendships from our business. But the most successful people empower other people to help them. They turn to their friends; that’s the power of who.”
When planners have a problem or feel isolated by a situation, they should sit down with a few friends and ask them “What can I do?,” Beaudine said. “You need a personal board of directors,” he advised. “ We are all given specific people in our lives who can help us in ways we never thought possible.”
“The people on your board form a personal support system and their goal is to help you because they love you. Most people don’t talk to their friends about business because they don’t want to seem vulnerable. We always think we have to be the smartest person in the room and that’s just not true. What we need to do is surround ourselves with smart people.”
Among the people to include in this board of directors, Beaudine recommends: a parent or parental figure; a mate, who could be your closest friend or a spouse; a loyal and courageous best friend, who will tell you what you truly need to hear; legal counsel; a career or life coach; a financial adviser; and a spiritual adviser.
“Part of solving problems is reaching out to people and asking for help,” Beaudine explained. “When you are overwhelmed, you need friends and you need to be able to reach out to them. Sometimes you need to run your ideas past other people, to speak your thoughts out loud, before you can hear the potential flaws and make corrections.”
Reaching Out Effectively
According to Beaudine, “networking is not working.” He explained that “using faceless websites, handing out business cards to strangers and sending out mass emails doesn’t get results because you don’t know the people that you’re sending this information to.”
Instead of networking, we need to turn to our friends, he said. Pointing out that all friends start out as acquaintances, he stressed the importance of being a friend to others. “In life we create relationships,” Beaudine said. “People need to know that you care about them and you need to know that your friends care about you. You have to know them for them to be able to help you. The power of WHO is about the power of your friendships.”
Meeting planners, he added, need to get other people to do tasks and the people that do those tasks have to feel appreciated. “If you help your friends, they’re likely to help you, and once you help your friends, don’t be surprised if you get a lot of business from them.”
He further explained the expanded power of friendship: “If I have 100 friends and you have 100 friends, we don’t have 200 friends. We have 1,000 friends because each of our 100 friends also has friends of their own.”
“The people you should try to get to know the best are those who understand your needs,” Beaudine advised. “If you know someone who knows someone who can help you, you’ve harnessed the power of WHO.”
Loving What You Do
During the recent economic downturn, many people had to find work outside their intended profession. For meeting planners concerned about getting back in the business, Beaudine said it’s a good time to re-examine goals.
“You can’t be successful at what you like. You have to love what you do,” he said. “If you love being a meeting planner then that’s what you need to get back to. If you’re hesitant because you’re worried about a paycheck, you need to start think- ing about the fact that change will do you good.
This is where your personal board of directors can help. Those who already know you can give you advice.
“Throughout history, the most successful people have two things in common; one is that they believe they have been assigned a purpose and have a destiny of their own, the second is that someone gave them purpose by saying that they believed in them. You need to create relationships with people who believe in you.”
Beaudine further advised, “The biggest sign that you need to change is that you are not happy. If you’re working at a place where you’re tolerated but not celebrated then you need to make a change. If you’ve lost sight of why you wanted this job, you need to make a change.”
We are given lots of clues in life that change is needed, such as arguing more at home or feeling unappreciated at work, he said.“Remember that one of the things the top performers do is spend time with their friends and family,” Beaudine said. “If your job is not allowing you to spend time with friends and family, then it’s probably time for a change. Also, you can’t succeed if you want to be like everyone else, so try to find one thing that you can do better. I believe that everyone has one thing that they can do better than anyone else and we need to bring that out. The power of WHO is a message of hope: you should be doing what you love.”
Ultimately, money should not be the biggest factor in choosing a career, Beaudine advised. “If the job doesn’t pay enough, it’s not going to work out, but remember all five criteria (see box) should have equal weight,” Beaudine advised. “Don’t make a move just for the money.”
All people, no matter what type of work they do, need to interact with and relate to others, Beaudine said.
“Too many people live in boxes,” he explained. “They have a box for work, a box for family, a box for friends and a box for leisure time. But we all have just one life, and to make the most of that life, all these things need to interact and relate to each other. Always remember that your friends will help you get through disasters and they will celebrate you when you succeed.”