Never Eat Alone

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time is a book about building relationships to be successful. Keith Ferrazzi claims that the secret to the success is building relationships. I feel like most successful people who give advice to help others be successful agree with this sentiment. When we think about the most successful person ever, we know that He built relationships with others to convert them to a testimony of His divine nature.

Ferrazzi goes through four parts:

  1. The Mind-Set
  2. The Skill Set
  3. Turning Connections into Compatriots
  4. Trading up and Giving Back

And each part has chapters that relate to each of them. One of the fascinating parts of the book are the “Connectors’ Hall[s] of Fame” where Ferrazzi highlights a famous “connector” who excelled at making good relationships. They pretty much exemplify the traits about which Ferrazzi speaks in the surrounding chapters.

The “Connector’s Hall of Fame” piece that was most interesting was Katharine Graham. She took over the Washington Post after her husband died and went on to make the Washington Post one of the greatest newspapers in the country. She went after Nixon over Watergate and published the Pentagon Papers Ferrazzi notes that she was successful because she was genuine with everyone she met. She had no ulterior motives. She wanted to be friends with people for the friendship, not anything else. This is one of the principles that is woven throughout the book. Ferrazzi constantly talks about being genuine and real, and helping others.

The great Connector was, of course, Jesus Christ. He loved people regardless of their views of Him or others. He was always willing to help other people regardless of their circumstance. When the woman who was taken in adultery was brought before Him, He did not condemn her. He loved her as the daughter of God that she was. Many may wonder why He would forgive her willingly, and yet cast the money-changers out of the temple in righteous indignation. He did this because He loves all men and women, and He cares about them as sons and daughters of God. He realizes what peoples’ desires are. And if they are willing to believe in and follow Him, He accepts them as they are. If they aren’t willing to follow Him, He still loves them and strives to teach them.

The Mind-Set

One of my favorite quotes from this book is, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” People often talk about dreamers as if that is a bad thing, but I certainly don’t think it is. As Latter-day Saints, we understand the importance of dreaming. The scripture we have probably read the most is in the beginning of the Book of Mormon. Lehi is a dreamer. Nephi always saw a vision and dreamed of making it to the promised land, which he did achieve.

The other aspect of dreaming that makes the Mormon church so great is that we dream of a life that is better than this life and eternal! We don’t believe that anyone but the very worst of us will get anything after this life that is not better than this life. There is a myth that Joseph Smith said that we would kill ourselves to get to the telestial kingdom. While it is doubtful that he really said that, we do believe that “the glory of the telestial…surpasses all understanding. Yet, that is also the place that we consider where they are who are “thrust down to hell”. If the glory of hell surpasses all understanding, then it sounds like maybe that isn’t so bad!

The Skill Set

The Mormon church is known for it’s missionaries that go around the world, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to people all day, every day, for two years. One of the key pieces of their success is finding a way to connect with anyone they can, in any way they can. This is part of what makes them successful. They are totally focused on spreading the good word, and they find a way to do that in any way possible. Certainly, eating with people is one way they do it, but they also do service, knock on doors, ask people who they know that might benefit from their message, and sometimes they just walk down the street and find people outside that need help.

In this section, Ferrazzi gives tons of great advice, but he also discusses the title of his book: Never Eat Alone. This section emphasizes that skill, and many others. He suggests that you find ways to meet with people whenever and wherever you can. By doing that, you can essentially make sure that you are connecting with the right people and connecting with many people every day. He isn’t just talking about eating with people, but also finding every possible way he can to build relationships with those that he needs to know. One thing that I did recently was sign up for an event just so that I could take a few of my employees to it, just so that we could spend time together away from work. The event was fun, but it was so much better to spend time with my employees and let them know that they were valuable to me (at least I hope they felt that way).

Turning Connections into Compatriots

“The only way to get people to do anything is to recognize their importance and thereby make them feel important. Every person’s deepest lifelong desire is to be significant and to be recognized” (163). Ferrazzi here helps inform one of the greatest beliefs that we have: each of us is a child of God. Not only are we all children of God, but we are also capable of becoming like Him. If that doesn’t fill us with a sense of being important, I don’t know what will. When you remind people that they are important, you are reminding them that they are children of God, and able to become like Him one day. That is so powerful. If you can do that in a way that is not preachy or pushy, but rather inviting, building relationships with others will not only come naturally, but people will flock to you because of how you make them feel. No matter what industry we are in, we can help people feel that way.

Trading up and giving back.

One of the key things we can do to expose ourselves to others and gain notoriety is to write. Ferrazzi recommends writing articles for publications, like newspapers or magazines. But we as Latter-day Saints have mostly been commanded to write in journals.

This Mormonad quotes President Henry B. Eyring who urges us to write down the spiritual experiences we have:

…Just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. O Remember, Remember

One of the reasons we write things down is to help tell the positive stories. President Kimball suggested that we write down the truth, but not focus on the negative (Discover Yourself: Keep a Journal).

Focusing on the positive is one sure-fire way to help yourself remember the good things you experience and experience more good things.

Conclusion

This is a great read if you are looking for ways to build relationships with others. I didn’t find anything that didn’t line up with what is already taught starting in primary.