Never Eat Alone (2005) by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz was expanded and updated and re-released in 2014. Some of the major issues included in this self-help book are networking, making impressions, building trust, branding, goal setting and seeking help. Most readers will find these key areas in self-development applicable to all areas of life, private and public.
A major issue affecting most readers is the notion that they are “invisible,” and their invisibility holds them back from reaching their full potential and their desired success. Keith and Tahl explain how invisibility can be far more damaging than failure.
“Invisibility is a fate far worse than failure. It means that you should always be reaching out to others—over breakfast, lunch, whatever. It means that if one meeting happens to go sour, you have six other engagements lined up just like it the rest of the week. In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear” (p 99).
Being visible is vital in business. Meeting people online and face-to-face should remain a high priority as you build your biggest list of friends and colleagues. Nothing, however, replaces good-old-fashioned in-person visits, whether for lunch or at professional conferences.
“Social media is your friend, to be sure, but it’s not the same as sitting with people, talking, and catching up. The more bloated our virtual communities become, the more that people are going to use in-person contact as a filter for true relevance. I highly recommend you budget some time and money for conferences, and to visit cities where you can schedule a few days or even just an overnight during which you host a cocktail party or schedule a bunch of meetings” (p 103).
When you do get the chance to meet others, you’ll have to make an impression—hopefully it will be a good one. But don’t worry: not everyone is meant for you. Some people like authentic Italian pizza from Rome, some like authentic Chinese noodles from Guilin. People are different and have different tastes. So, don’t try to impress everyone. Don’t even try to impress. Be yourself. If they like you, great! If they don’t, don’t worry. Keep smiling and keep being you.
“When it comes to making an impression, differentiation is the name of the game. Confound expectation. Shake it up… Be yourself… vulnerability… vulnerability… We’re an open-source society, and that calls for open-source behavior… Being up front with people confers respect; it pays them the compliment of candor. The issues we all care most about are the issues we all want to talk about most… It’s a call to be honest, open, and vulnerable enough to genuinely allow other people into your life so that they can be vulnerable in return… Even when there is disagreement, I’ve found people will respect you more for putting your cards on the table” (pgs 154-155).
Far too many people in their endeavors for quick fame and sudden success forget about building trust with others. Trust is key. Trust is paramount in human relationships. So, when building your network, remember to also build trust.
“I’ve found that trust is the essential element of mixing with powerful and famous people—trust that you’ll be discreet, trust that you have no ulterior motives behind your approach, trust that you’ll deal with them as people and not as stars, and basically trust that you feel like a peer who deserves to be engaged as such. The first few moments of an encounter are the litmus test for such a person to size up whether he or she can trust you in these ways or not” (p 319).
Another major issue any reader might find helpful in their pursuit of happiness in their careers is the understanding that each person is a brand. According to the American Marketing Association, “BRAND” can be defined as “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” Your brand is how you are identified by others and how you distinguish yourself from the herd of others out there in the real world.
“Lifetime corporate employment is dead; we’re all free agents now, managing our own careers across multiple jobs and companies. And because today’s primary currency is information, a wide-reaching network is one of the surest ways to become and remain thought leaders of our respective fields… Our careers aren’t paths so much as landscapes that are navigated. We’re free agents, entrepreneurs, and intrapreneurs—each with our own brand” (pgs 12-13, 17).
The world has changed in the last thirty years. The 20th century is out and the 21st century is in. We must change to survive. Adapt. Evolve. Large multi-national corporations will no longer be loyal to any one individual employee. Why not? Because there are billions of people out there and one person can be replaced by a hundred willing individuals wanting to be paid far less. Unless you have a brand. Unless you are known in high circles. Unless your brand is known around the world for offering value that others simply do not have.
“Each of is now a brand. Gone are the days where your value as an employee was limited to your loyalty and seniority. Companies use branding to develop strong, enduring relationships with customers” (p 22).
But despite all the dreams and ambitions someone has, the dreams and ambitions will remain nothing more than that unless concrete goals are created and carried out. Success is built on achievable objectives, one simple list at a time.
Think of creating goals like creating a personal contract with yourself. Reminding you to act on your dreams and ambitions, to follow through, to break down the large difficult chunks into manageable projects that you can easily achieve. When you do, your confidence will increase because you know you are pulling yourself closer to your dreams and ambitions.
“Disciplined dreams all have one thing in common: a mission. The mission is often risky, unconventional, and most likely tough as hell to achieve. But it is possible. The kind of discipline that turns a dream into a mission, and a mission into a reality, really just comes down to a process of setting goals” (p 29).
But don’t forget to write down your goals. Put that list to paper and sign it. Date it. Keep it and mark off your goals as you go along. Then create more goals. You can never run out of goals.
“Your goals must be in writing. Have the conviction to put your intentions to paper. An unwritten wish is just a dream. In writing, it’s a commitment, a goal” (p 33).
As you start to accomplish your written goals—day after day, week after week, year after year—remember that hard work and merit simply won’t get you to where you need to be. We live in a highly complex world that is social, communal, illogical. Talent is also only a small part of the equation. The biggest piece in the puzzle is your relationships to others. Think of it this way: We still need each other to survive (or at least people like to think we do). Or think of it this way: We can always use more friends.
“We are the people we interact with. Our paychecks, our moods, the health of our hearts, and the size of our bellies—all of these things are determined by whom we choose to interact with and how” (pgs xiv-xv).
The people you interact with will help change your life, for better or for worse. Choose your friends wisely and carefully. With kind and good intentions, seek support in those individuals who truly care. The ones who are willing to take the time to help you—from one human being to another. Seek out those who have kind hearts. Seek out those who make others laugh and smile, not cry. We can have as many friends as we want. And we can have as many family members as want. But don’t forget: We do things together.
“Poverty, I realized, wasn’t only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people who could help you make more of yourself… And the rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people, for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become a member of the ‘club,’ whether he started out as a caddie or not… This realization came with some empowering implications. To achieve your goals in life, I realized, it matters less how smart you are, how much innate talent you’re born with, or even, most eye opening to me, where you came from and how much you started out with. Sure, all these are important, but they mean little if you don’t understand one thing: You can’t get there alone” (p 5).
Now all you need to do is ask yourself:
“What is my legacy? What have I done that is meaningful” (p 362)?
The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a member of the Hemingway Society, Club Med, and the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London.
He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Father’s Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystic’s Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America: A Look Back (2020); and forthcoming: Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being; A Time to Forget in East Berlin; and, The Endless Endeavor of Excellence.
He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.
You can follow the author on Facebook @ cg.fewston – where he has 400,000+ followers