What is the best investment you have ever made in your life?
How much return on investment ROI did it give you?
100%? 500%? 1,000%?
How long did it take for you to get that return?
What if I told you that one investment I made got me a return of 49,900%?
This calls for a healthy dose of "face with open mouth" emojis to symbolize the sensational factor of this case study😮😮😮
Now that the clickbaity headline & intro is out of the way and I have your attention let us get down to some real business.
So what is this new asset class I talk about which has the potential to reap massive returns in a short span of time?
Well, that investment your efforts in cultivating meaningful relationships.
Ahem…actually "a bare-hand" handshake was a safe greeting before March 15, 2020.
These days, a hand-shake has become as risky as having unprotected sex with a promiscuous partner.
In the socially-distant era — our seemingly innocent greeting may look something like this:
Anyway, back to our main topic — relationships.
I bet no one will disagree that relationships are a great asset to invest in.
Is it weird that a shy introvert like me is writing this case study on relationship building?
Is it ridiculous that an immigrant whose first language is not English is talking about how to effectively communicate with people?
Is it insane that someone who has deliberately stayed away from social media forever, is now discussing the intricacies of each of the major social media networks?
I am the guy who used to stand in a corner at networking events. My main objective at these events used to be making sure my glass is partially filled — so that I can at least pretend to belong and I do not look like a total misfit.
I am the guy who could not think of a decent question to ask to carry a conversation.
And here I am talking about relationship building.
Well, the journey was long. And it was not easy.
Let me take you way back. About three years ago 😀
I had made up my mind to fire my client.
I had enough of the clients sabotaging themselves, trying to follow conventional playbooks for building and growing startups. And they were doing it all wrong.
They were reducing their own valuations.
They are diluting their own investments.
All the time, they thought they are getting closer to their dreams of a unicorn startup company.
Anyway, I knew I had more to offer to the world than just my technology advice, which is world-class, by the way.
So I decided to venture out on my own. Expand my horizons.
Rather than just relying on a handful of clients I got through word-of-mouth, I decided to go out there and fetch a large number of affluent clients.
I knew my stuff. I had made hundreds of millions of dollars for my clients over my 20-year career.
From early-stage startups to Fortune 10 companies.
Across 6 continents.
From real estate, to finance, to consumer goods, to mining, to wearables, to logistics, to healthcare, to education, and on and on.
With FOUR patents, TWO published books, 150K students across the globe, a top-rated business podcast — I should not have any problem securing clients.
How wrong was I…
The phone was not ringing.
No one was calling me to hire me.
To pay for my advice — which generally gives them a HUGE ROI within the first hour they spend with me.
Pragmatic advice which turns companies around from the edge of disaster.
Brings innovation to market at a super-fast pace with a fraction of the cost.
No one but a handful of people knew what I could do for my clients and their businesses.
And now I had fired my most lucrative client.
Good thinking. NOT! 🥺🥺
So now I needed to learn how to find clients.
Someone said — market yourself.
I very quickly realized that I did not know anything about marketing myself. I did not even know the basics of marketing for that matter.
Anyway, like everything else in life — I was ready to pick up one more skill and implement it to the best of my ability. So I rolled up my sleeves and got ready for another adventure.
To understand marketing, I first took a couple of introductory courses on various educational sites.
I listened to some academic lectures on Coursera. Listened to some top-class podcasts by marketers and advertisers. Watched some cool TED talks from successful entrepreneurs. Binged on some online courses from internet marketing gurus.
Bottom line — in layman terms — I understood marketing to be a process to ensure your prospects know that you exist in the world.
Once I understood this concept — I needed the framework to make it happen.
I started learning and implementing the usual suspects:
Publishing articles, sending cold emails, webinars, social media marketing, SEO, 2-step funnels, 7-step funnels, short-form sales pages, long-form sales pages, and so on…
But nothing really worked. Everything looked so promising. The gurus guaranteed the results. How could this be?
I had never encountered such false advertising before. False marketing about marketing? Ironic, eh!!
In the world of technology, things usually work as advertised.
Even if it is a dusty old unmaintained open source project — chances are if you can download a working branch of code — it will work as expected.
Not in the world of marketing. It was not that cut and dry.
Now started the troubleshooting.
Marketing was a brand new world for me. I did not even know where to begin.
When things do not work as expected — I always try to backtrack and understand what did I assume or interpret wrong.
In this case, I realized I was trying to “over automate” everything and remove the human touch altogether from my marketing efforts.
This was the engineering mind at work — trying to optimize the system even before it produced any results.
Anyway, as I was trying to sort this whole thing out — one night I was watching this movie on Netflix called “Dolemite Is My Name”. It was about a struggling artist who built an empire on a shoestring budget.
A true story.
A true entrepreneur.
A true bootstrapper.
He did everything he could to figure things out. He was relentless. Nothing could stop him.
His story inspired me.
Apart from inspiration — I got a crucial marketing insight from the movie.
Check out the trailer (parental guidance recommended)
In the movie, when Dolemite — the main character, needed to sell a lot of tickets for his debut show — he went door-to-door, talked to a lot of people, shook a lot of hands, distributed a lot of flyers and walked a lot of miles to let everyone in the town know about his show.
That was direct outreach marketing. Face to face. The best type of marketing out there.
That is what I needed to do. Forget about all the automation — and rely on building a one-on-one relationship with my network.
Then I started another adventure of turning a shy introvert into a social butterfly who could build these relationships.
Well, I had to start somewhere.
Still an engineer and introvert at heart — I was not too comfortable trying out these skills in the real world out there.
It is not easy to put yourself out there.
Have you ever gone to a business conference, a networking event or a get together of a bunch of friends?
In these situations — have you ever been intimidated while approaching people?
Do you recognize some of these questions ringing in your head as your feet reluctantly walk towards your counterpart?
What will I say?
He or she seems like a big shot. Will they even have the time to talk to me?
Will I make a fool of myself?
All these emotions bubble up and start making a knot in your gut. Make you almost throw up. Rather than creating a mess — you just choose to hold on to a drink and NOT talk to anyone.
Honestly, I knew someday I will have to face that situation in the real world and talk to people face-to-face. But before I throw myself in the ring among the heavyweights — I always like to practice in a safer environment.
I wanted to get started in the comfort of the virtual social media world first.
I have heard a lot of people get massive success on LinkedIn very quickly.
So with great enthusiasm, I started learning about LinkedIn and its mechanics. I started observing its personality.
You see every social media platform has its own personality.
Instagram — young hip audience looking at cool pics…
Facebook — (now) — a place for 35+ to connect and share…
TikTok — 16+ crowd binge-watching mostly meaningless videos…
And LinkedIn — professionals open for business!!!!
So I started with LinkedIn. I found that direct outreach on LinkedIn could be the right approach.
Now, this is where Einstein’s definition of insanity will be applicable.
Even while trying to build relationships — my engineering mind took control and started implementing various LinkedIn automation tools, messaging thousands of people with templated messages.
STILL no results.
Many people got so annoyed that they sent some nasty responses.
Here is a specimen response I got from a Standford University professor and a "silicon valley CEO".
Apparently Stanford and Silicon Valley could really mess up your stress levels…and here I thought my life was stressful…🤷🤷
It was not easy to take that kind of abuse.
I was clearly doing something wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. 99% of the responses were polite and to-the-point.
But the problem was a cohesive well-flowing conversation.
Even if people responded — due to my own unorganized life — I was NOT able to send them a response on time, and instead of a decent conversation — I ended up playing a weird message tag with my connections on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn’s messaging system is not easy to navigate or organize.
One time I also got my LinkedIn account blocked for several weeks. Ouch!
Back to square one.
What was I missing?
Then someone told me about the power of follow-up. The light-bulb went off immediately (again!).
When someone sends me a message on LinkedIn — it gets buried in the massive list of unorganized messages. Some read, and some unread.
How many times I was able to respond to the plethora of messages (mostly sales pitches on LinkedIn).
I was equally annoyed by these constant sales pitches — then how could I expect my prospects to respond to my pushy sales pitches?
No — something had to change. I had to adopt a new method.
Some of you are born into circumstances where you have family support and access to a vast network. That enables you to be emotionally uplifted, stay focused, and be resilient.
However, many entrepreneurs and professionals do not have this support system in their lives and still don’t.
Especially now, in a world of physical distancing, continuing on your path without a robust support system is going to become increasingly costly to your financial, mental, emotional, and physical well being.
When my technical brain finally gave up — I had to swallow my pride and reached out for help.
And boy, did I get some help.
I ended up working with some of the best minds on the planet.
From Olympians, CEOs, executives, celebrities, billionaires, movie stars, sports stars, personal development gurus, you name it.
And I learned a lot from them.
The most important rule I learned was this:
For me to get what I want, first, I need to help others get what they want. Selflessly, generously and lovingly.
And the first step in this effort was to learn the art of conversation.
As I discovered later, interesting conversations are the most crucial aspect of human experience.
Let me explain.
If you look back at your extraordinary life — you will find that since birth, whatever you have gained or accomplished was just as a result of a network of conversations.
What do I mean by that?
You see — whatever financial status you have attained in your life thus far — has been through a network of conversations with other human beings.
Think about it — whether you have a few dollars to your name or you are a billionaire. All that wealth was generated and accumulated as a result of a network of conversations with others.
Every dollar, every penny, everything worth anything on this planet earth came into existence due to a series of conversations with others.
So rather than learning the next killer ad strategy, the next novel marketing hack, the next secret tactic — the best recession-proof skill you can learn to expand your business is the ability to converse with other humans.
But merely exchanging some words, phrases, or sentences with random people is not going to result in any significant accomplishments.
The great monuments, the great empires that ever existed, all the innovations and inventions, our institutions, and everything which is part of modern civilization was a result of deep, meaningful conversations.
Conversations where like-minded people came together and communicated their ideas to accomplish a common goal.
And what it all boils down to is — your ability to connect with someone at a deeper level.
Once you master this skill — you can start to generate new feedback loops at will. You can connect with more people. Expand your network. Have more conversations.
A handful of these conversations will lead to profound results in your life.
What is more — the return on investment on some of these conversations will be extremely high — literally tens of thousands of percent.
Case in point — the first-ever conversation between your parents. This could have been the first date they went on. Or a mediated meeting for an arranged marriage (yes they still have them in India and other parts of the world)
This first conversation led to courtship.
Which led to a proposal. (or not. you can skip this step in many cases)
Which led to marriage arrangements. (or not. you can skip this step in many cases)
Ultimately — the result of that first conversation led you to be born in this world.
I doubt YOU will find a bigger ROI in the entire universe than that first conversation between your parents.
If you are married or have someone special in your life — that relationship was built on a series of conversations.
If you have a job — that profession was offered to you based on a conversation. And you earn money mostly by having more conversations (written or verbal).
If you own a business, you produce value and sell products or services — all involve a series of conversations.
But you may have some doubts.
Like I am living through an era where we are socially isolated. How am I supposed to connect with others?
I am shy.
I am an introvert.
I do not like to talk to people.
Even if I am able to greet someone — I am so uninteresting — that I cannot possibly strike a conversation with anyone.
I am an immigrant. I have a weird accent.
No one knows me. What can I possibly bring to the table in this conversation?
I know these reasons and stories well — because I used to play them over and over again in my head.
But let me tell you — once you stop playing these stories and replace them with better versions of these stories — you will see your life transform very rapidly.
So what can you do to sharpen your human connection skills?
Well, there are 7 billion people on this planet. For the sake of efficiency — you need to figure out which segment of the population do you want to talk to and connect with.
They say you ONLY need 1000 true fans to live like a king on this planet.
Picking 1000 out of 7 billion is not an easy task.
So I encourage you to spend some extra time on this step. In the marketing parlance — this is your customer avatar.
Think about what kind of person they are.
How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do? What type of car do they drive? How many kids do they have?
Your customer avatar is a fictitious representation of your ideal client.
A very detailed fictitious representation.
If you want to develop any skill — it takes practice. And for building connections with people — there is no better alternative than actually connecting with people.
Connecting with people that match your customer avatar.
Make it a point to connect with at least 20 new people (matching your customer avatar) every day.
This can be done in person, online, on social media platforms, and other channels.
As I stated earlier, my favorite network platform is LinkedIn.
Here is a quick training I recorded which shows some of my methods for building and growing networks.
Using these methods, you can easily implement a system to connect with at least 20–40 NEW connections every day.
Once you connect with someone — do not just let that connection sit there. Get curious about your connection.
Talk to them. Learn more about them.
Make sure the conversation is genuinely about getting to know each other.
DO NOT even think about any transactional outcome at this stage.
Learning effective communication is the first step.
It is a potent weapon in your hand. But you need to use this weapon to make some conquests.
And the main goal of communicating with people is to build a deeper, meaningful relationship.
I will stretch it further and say that deep, meaningful relationships are the bedrock of any successful and sustainable business.
Now to borrow some terms from a typical internet marketing webinar.
People do business with people who they know.
But for them to know you — they must know that you exist. One of the main problems with small businesses is that we are virtually transparent to our prospects — because there is just so much noise out there.
It is not easy to get noticed.
Somehow if a prospect finds you or hears about you — they still do not have any intention of working with you or doing any business with you.
Maybe they are curious and want to learn more about you. Now, you must make sure that this required information is made available to your prospects.
Ultimately this romance should lead to the next stage of the relationship. They must start liking you. And vice versa.
But as experience has taught you — liking someone is still not enough.
You really must trust a person before you can feel safe enough to enter into a more meaningful relationship like a client or a customer.
You see — due to the noisy world out there — the prospective clients have a huge responsibility to figure out who can actually solve their problems.
Who can actually deliver on the promise?
Who can actually provide them good value and a great experience?
This is where you need to go above and beyond to establish trust.
Human beings are very emotional animals. And trust is one of the strongest emotions which bonds two human beings.
If you can consistently get people to know, like, and trust you — then you become a relationship machine.
And this will make your business recession-proof.
Because good relationships last forever.
The only x-factor here is how the world is going to react in this post-socially-distant era. You see, trust and credibility are very hard to build.
The global pandemic has severely affected our ability to trust other people. Because now our bodies have become weapons of mass destruction.
If someone coughs in a supermarket — all eyes turn in that direction.
When universally and globally, trust is in short supply — is it ridiculous to suggest that online credibility and a trustworthy personal brand will the currency of the future?
Whether you are a job seeker, an entrepreneur looking to raise money, a business owner looking for more leads, an executive looking for more introductions — having a solid foundation to establish that trust EVEN BEFORE your prospect talks to you — will be the difference between survival and elimination.
It is time to start focusing on how people perceive you.
Do they know you exist? Do they know how you can help them?
What emotions you invoke in them when they hear your name. Are they feelings of trust, credibility, and certainty? OR they are emotions of fear, doubt, and uncertainty?
Trust and credibility are the foundations of human connection.
Human to human connection transcends international boundaries, time zones, political affinities, gender, sexual orientation, and any other label we have assigned to our fellow members of the species.
Human relationships also are unaffected by things like a recession.
If anything, we are hard-wired to come together in the time of crisis.
But there are those doubtful voices again.
I know them so well because these are the same voices that used to constantly echo in my head.
Ah — well, I am just too damn busy being awesome to build relationships.
If people want to build a relationship with me — then they will find me and tell me so.
I am too isolated for anyone to reach me anyway.
I am an anti-social person.
I am slightly weird.
No one can relate to me.
Once again — all the negative stories and chatter that typically plays repeatedly in everyone’s heads.
So what can you do to overcome these supposed shortcomings of yours and build better relationships?
As people — one of the fundamental motivations we have is to be well understood by our fellow human beings.
So make an effort to learn more about people you are trying to build a relationship with. Without coming across as a stalker — show some genuine interest in their likes and dislikes.
Learn more about their life story. Their family, and so on.
When interacting with new connections — focus on creating memorable experiences.
Like a fun conversation about a recent podcast episode.
A mismatched arm-wrestling match in the middle of a bar.
A hilariously named drink.
Humor always is a great way to break the ice and remove any societal boundaries.
Everyone loves to share a laugh.
Learn to laugh with everyone (even at yourself).
These experiences will cement the bond of human connection.
Why do you think most of the business deals and made on the golf courses?
By the way, in the socially distant era — we may see virtual golf courses just to facilitate a familiar environment for entrepreneurs, business people, and professionals to continue to make deals.
This is just one of the innovations you should expect to see.
COVID has permanently changed our world.
There is no going back!
These new inventions are just what we will need to live in a brand new way.
Anyway, back to the experiential interactions.
These common experiences will give you a lot of subtle clues about the type of person you are interacting with. These clues bring about the common traits between you, which builds a stronger bond.
But this is only possible if you put transactional chat aside, and show a genuine interest in people.
If you continue to think of the other person as a "prospect" or a "lead" who will ultimately be converted into a customer — the transactional nature of conversations will kick in and will block you from building a deeper relationship.
To build upon the previous point — you should continue to build new relationships without any tangible expected returns.
You see, life is a series of random events. You never know which connection or relationship will prove to be a catalyst for a massive transformation at some future point in your life.
So treat all relationships as precious relationships.
There you go.
So now, you are well equipped to build some meaningful relationships, which hopefully will last forever.
Now for all this to work consistently and effectively — you really need to get comfortable in your own skin.
Become more self-aware.
Learn what motivates you. Learn about your deepest fears, desires, phobias.
Because once you become self-aware — you can start to adopt the role of a servant leader.
What do I mean by that?
Well, any business, whether it is for-profit or not-for-profit, is meant to serve its clients and customers.
Granted, there is a value exchange that takes place — goods or services in exchange for money or other tangible assets.
But at the end of the day, you are solving your customers’ problems. You enjoy solving their problems. And by being your patrons — your customers are “giving you the opportunity” to serve them.
As an entrepreneur — you are bringing other humans and resources together in the servitude of your clients.
So in a way, you are the lead servant. Or the servant leader, however you want to call it.
Once you experience this identity shift — the results will be nothing short of miraculous.
Because once you identify yourself as a servant leader — you start prioritizing giving over receiving/taking.
Now it may come across as a cliché — but the best way to start getting what you want is to give people what they want. If you cannot give it, you can help people get it for themselves.
This help can come in any form.
Help does not need to cost anything. It does not need to be enormous.
A new introduction. A new insight. A new book reference. A new website link. A new review on their book. A share of their social post.
Something that is trivial to you — may be huge for someone else.
Once you internalize this feeling of servitude towards others — every act of service will fill you with gratitude.
This gratitude will lead to a generally happy and satisfying life.
You will start to notice pleasant coincidences, synchronicities, serendipities. Life will start to feel effortless.
These pleasant feelings will lead to generally positive life experience.
Improved self-image and self-confidence.
Further fuelling your influence and prosperity.
So you see how this cycle will give rise to a chain reaction of goodness and prosperity to come into your life.
And this is what will lead to true fulfillment.
Realizing your full potential.
Giving the best gifts you have to share with the world.
Leaving a dent in the universe.
But there are those doubtful voices again.
Do you recognize any of these voices in your head? I certainly do.
How can I be a servant?
I am the CEO.
I am the boss.
I am too focused on making money. I have no time to serve.
I am not responsible for other peoples’ problems. I may only be partially responsible for my own.
I am only accountable to myself and my family.
I am a savvy business entrepreneur. I do not give anything away for free.
Well, once again — these are the stories that keep playing in our heads and keep blocking us from reaching our goals.
So how can you become a better servant leader?
Well, for one — prioritize giving over receiving.
When building a new relationship — think about how you can contribute to this relationship.
Remember, you can contribute in many ways.
You could help by investing a few minutes of your time to listen.
Giving a smile.
Sharing a laugh.
Lending a hand. And so on.
Most importantly — do not keep a score of the magnitude of your contribution versus the other person.
Focus on a win-win.
Prioritizing giving does not mean you need to be closed to receiving. Once you have contributed to the other person’s growth — you should be open to receiving anything that is offered back in return.
That will lead to more win-win and mutually beneficial situations.
Even if nothing is offered back in return — do not take it as a sign of selfishness. Maybe it is not the right time, or there is nothing meaningful the other person can contribute.
Just your ability to cultivate a meaningful relationship is rewarding enough.
Because as you will find out — the joy and satisfaction you will get with these interactions will outweigh any reciprocal contribution from others.
There you go.
So now, you are well equipped to build a deeply meaningful relationship and serve your clients.
Derive pleasure from your ventures.
Prosper from your hard work.
Ok, big deal. So I was able to build these connections.
But what about the real results?
What happened when I implemented these principles in life?
Well, lets just the results are beyond anything I could have imagined.
The quality of accomplished human beings I have had the pleasure to connect with is mind-boggling.
Take, for example, Dr. Jeff Spencer:
He is one of the most driven, goal-oriented, and accomplished persons you will ever meet.
He is a man of many talents.
But he is never satisfied with just learning something.
He lives by the motto:
Don’t be average
Applying that to his own life in a very beautiful way — he has championed every skill or art he has taken up.
Just a few of his accomplishments:
- Olympic Medalist
- His glass art is displayed in galleries across the US
- Masters Degree in Sports science
His list of accomplishments is longer than this case study— but I will try to capture the highlights.
Dr. Spencer revolutionized mental and physical training in motocross. Jeff is recognized as one of the top chiropractors in the world. Jeff spent 9 years as the mindset coach for the Tour De France. Coached 45 Olympic, world, Tour De France and National Champions.
• 9 Olympic Gold Medals
• 8 Tour De France Championships
• 23 National and World Class motocross championships
- And then, at 58 years old, adopted a 10-year-old girl from the streets Colombia.
Know who pays to keep him on speed dial?
• Tiger Woods
• Lance Armstrong
An immigrant from a small town in India getting coached by Dr. Jeff Spencer.
Here I am interviewing Dr. Jeff Spencer for my podcast — Bootstrapping Your Dreams.
But this is just the beginning.
Now, let us talk about Lisa Nichols.
Today, Lisa Nichols is a millionaire entrepreneur, a best-selling author, a humanitarian and a motivational speaker. And she is teaching people to turn their own breakdowns into breakthroughs, to discover their untapped and infinite potential, just like she did.
She was featured in the world-famous Secret.
LISA NICHOLS is one of the world’s most-requested motivational speakers, as well as a media personality and corporate CEO, whose global platform has reached and served nearly 80 million people.
She only the 2nd African-American female CEO to take her company public.
Lisa has written several best-sellers including the ever-popular Chicken Soup For The African Woman’s Soul.
I met Lisa in 2019 at a MindValley event. And since then I have learned a lot from her.
More on Lisa below…(hint: it is about the clickbaity headline)
The next celebrity is one of the most recognizable faces in the world.
Alexandra Paul is an American model, actress, and activist. She has appeared in over 100 feature films and television programs.
She is internationally recognized for her role as Lt. Stephanie Holden in the TV series — Baywatch.
Alexandra not only has killer looks but she also possesses a heart of gold. She is a relentless activist fighting for the rights of animals and people who need it most.
During the pandemic — she is feeding meals to the LA homeless.
Here I am interviewing her for my podcast — Bootstrapping Your Dreams.
Speaking of celebrities, next here is my friend and mentor, Steve Sims.
He is one of the most well-connected people on the planet. From billionaires to movie stars. From sports celebrities to music artists.
Somehow he seems to know everyone very well.
Here he is hanging out with some of his well-recognizable friends.
Steve Sims delivers the highest level of personalized travel, transportation, and cutting edge entertainment services to corporate executives, celebrities, professional athletes, and other discerning individuals interested in living life to the fullest.
He has worked with the A-list celebrities, the rich and the famous, and even the Royalty, and many prominent politicians, heads of state, and the list goes on and on.
Do you want to take a submarine trip to the Titanic? Or is private cooking lessons with the world’s finest executive chefs more your thing?
Steve can make the impossible happen.
He once got a couple married by the Pope in the Vatican!!!!
And here I am hanging out with him in one of his amazing events
And here I am interviewing him for my podcast — Bootstrapping Your Dreams
And here is Nic Peterson. He is easily the most awesome humans I have met. Ultra successful, Nic runs 7 multi-million dollar companies.
But what blew me away was the clarity of thought Nic possesses.
People pay him upto $65K per day — because he can save them millions or make them millions within one consulting session.
And here I found myself having dinner with him at an upscale restaurant in Vegas.
Learning from him about business and life.
And to top it off — I ended up in the company of two very successful and well-known entrepreneurs — Jesse Elder and Alex Huditan.
Jesse built and sold a successful line of martial arts training schools, and he now works with some of the most successful people in the world at developing and stretching their capacity for abundance. Because of his connection with incredible success, he has unique insight into the patterns that create (or hinder) success. Jesse is also the star of the viral Mind Vitamin video series.
Alex is an Entrepreneur, Investor, World Traveller, and Mango Juice Lover. He radically changed his life and his beliefs 6 years ago, going from a cubicle job in Bucharest, Romania to now owning multiple 7 figure companies and enjoying a real 4-hour workweek.
All of them have a unique story to tell. All of them built their empires from the ground up with a lot of hard work.
One thing which is common between all of them — they are A+ human beings who care about the "important" things in life. And they teach others how to prioritize the right things in life and business.
Simple yet powerful.
Anyway, here I am interviewing Nic Peterson for my podcast — Bootstrapping Your Dreams.
And now, the most special connection I made recently just before the pandemic lockdown.
Rajesh Setty is a serial entrepreneur. He is a silicon valley veteran and is currently involved in tens of companies.
He was instrumental in founding several US and India technology and publishing companies.
Raj has been a member of Band of Angels since 2007 and is an award-winning teacher at the Founder Institute.
He possesses vast experience and knowledge in the technology world.
He is the inventor of the popular ThinkBook series.
But more importantly, he understands humans very very well. With a calm and collected mind — he does not talk much. But whenever he speaks — each word is more valuable than the other.
I am fortunate to call him my friend, mentor, and partner.
Here is a very powerful and timely interview I recorded with him for my podcast — Bootstrapping Your Dreams Show.
These are just a few of the wonderful humans I have interacted with. The comprehensive list is long and it keeps growing longer every day…
Each individual is unique.
Mentors, coaches and people who influence you positively uplift you in more ways than you will truly understand.
Each individual can give you an invaluable lesson — but when you consider the combined effect of their presence in your life — the result is exponentially more potent.
In other words, you cannot have enough positive people in your life.
I have witnessed this cliche come true in my life in more than one way.
As we struggle to find our place in the universe, tackle the challenges thrown at us by life — it is very easy to slip into life’s uncountable traps and keep going around in circles.
Chasing a dream (which may not even belong to you in the first place).
Worse, in some cases, you may end up in some of the dark alleys of life.
I admit I have visited some of these life’s dark alleys. The experiences were scary.
I came close to death multiple times. And I have experienced the death of my loved ones.
The lessons from these experiences were profound though.
I am not sure whether it is possible to learn life’s crucial lessons without going through some hardships.
From the time when we started to walk. When we touched a hot stove. When we got our asses kicked in a team sport.
Failure and adversity form the basis of any new growth and acquisition of new knowledge.
Rather than dwell on the pain caused by these unpleasant events — I focus on the lessons learned.
The pain and suffering caused by life’s challenges are just part of the tuition fee you have to pay to learn these lessons.
The more life lessons you want to learn — the more tuition fee you have to pay.
And in most cases, life starts in a crowded classroom of a run-down college building from day ONE.
Poverty. Famine. War. The list goes on.
As if mother nature had not put up enough challenges for us in the first place — humans had to go out of their way to add a few more to the list.
It does not matter whether you started in the darkest of alleys — as long as you see a ray of hope, keep following it.
Learn to enjoy the process and not worry too much about the destination.
Consistency of action (no matter how minor) is the key to finding your path.
Also, I must caution you to treat as one destination as your final destination. Life is an endless adventure.
Never get too comfortable.
Never take a time-out.
Never sit on the sidelines.
Always be playing. Always be learning.
Because the stream of life never stops. It continues to flow.
In my short existence on this planet, I had to undergo multiple identity shifts.
Factory worker. Software Engineer. Husband. Leader. Parent. Spiritual Student and Teacher. Mentor. Coach. Author. Investor.
And I still continue to evolve.
I have to. But I cannot do it alone.
I am learning from the same people who advise the world’s top leaders and champions.
I did not even realize how life has transformed slowly.
This was my workplace in 1995 and this is my workplace now.
You can take a similar photo of your workplace today.
Maybe it is a cubicle. A corner in a tiny apartment (because of coronavirus lockdown). Your basement. Your bedroom.
Whatever it is. Take a photo.
Compare it with your new workplace every time you cross a new threshold in your profession.
This is your way of tracking your professional progress.
Very similar to the way you track your weight or height.
The results were better than my wildest dreams — but I was not done yet. You see I am an engineer and the urge to make systems work efficiently and eliminate waste is in my blood. I cringe when I see people waste their time on unproductive things.
As good as the results were — I wanted to take the real-world experience and scale it.
Scale human relationships? Seriously?
It sounded like the most ridiculous idea I have ever conceived of. But when I broke down my process — I went back to the basics. All relationships are a result of conversations with other people.
A cohesive and interesting conversation.
I realized I needed to scale my ability to have consistent conversations and the end result of that should be larger networks and more relationships.
This plan gave birth to one of the most powerful platforms I have created. It does not look awesome. It is no eye candy.
But what it can do is more powerful than strategy.
It is a weapons-grade networking platform.
It works with multiple social media platforms — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Shapr.
More platforms can be added with some work.
Using this platform, I can prospect, connect and message thousands of people every day.
Messages are personalized.
Even with thousands of touchpoints — the system keeps track of ALL my conversations and I do NOT miss even a single message.
No need for CRM. No need for email automation. No worries about the spam score.
I go right into the personal inbox on the phone of my counterpart and have meaningful conversations.
Here is a sneak peek of this platform:
It cuts down on the cluttered way of networking with your counterparts on social media.
I call it weapons-grade because it EXPONENTIALLY increases your capability to have thousands upon thousands of meaningful conversations with people in your network.
It can also help you reach out to people who are not yet in your network — and invite them to connect with you.
I personally have a network of more than 300K audience.
But about 10% of the audience is in my direct network. With this platform, I can potentially be having 30K conversations every week!!!
Imagine what kind of marketing you can do with that?
But why stop there?
Campaigning for political office in a socially distant environment?
Looking for a new executive role?
Want to connect with thousands of local property managers?
Want to stay in touch with your clients?
Want to build influence on the largest professional social media network?
Want to connect with the minister of commerce in a far off country?
The possibilities are limitless…
So what were the real results in terms of deals or business I brought in using this platform?
Well in 30 days I built a pipeline of 10+ startups looking to raise financing. Some of them are post-revenue companies with a very relevant product for the post-pandemic era.
The next step was to find the right investors. Once again, I invested about one week in connecting with highly experienced investors.
Within a week I had some of the most successful investors in my network.
Due to the coronavirus — the investor activities have been delayed. The good news is that EVEN with the coronavirus scare — one deal worth $750K is going through.
Update (May 01, 2020): The deal is now closed. The investment round was funded EVEN 6 weeks into the lockdown.
And this company needs to raise another $900K.
A pipeline of $12M+ with a confirmed deal of $1.65M — all in less than 2 months.
All by an introvert.
All with ZERO ad spend.
But more than monetary awards — I am proud of the transformation. Now I am not afraid to talk to anyone.
Even in a socially distant world — I am confident that I can connect with anyone, anywhere and collaborate with them.
Are you still not convinced that these relationships are the best investment for your life and business?
As I demonstrated in this case study, these relationships provide the warmth of community — but they also offer humongous monetary rewards.
I have had transactions of millions of dollars with the people in my network.
Connections or introductions.
All these touchpoints and conversations can lead to some tangible business.
And in many cases, it is not even strictly business. And this is where my best investment, which reaped 49,900% ROI comes in.
Let me share a quick story about how a $42 spent on a 6-pack of Indian spices led to 49,900% ROI.
In Sep 2019, I ran into the real-life wizard Steve Sims. During our initial conversation, I found out that Steve was very fond of Indian food (apparently Indian food is British national cuisine) .
So I ordered a few of my favorite Indian spices from Amazon and got it shipped to Steve’s home in an upscale LA neighborhood.
Those six boxes of spices that cost me $42 including shipping.
This small gift eventually resulted in an exclusive invite from Lisa Nichols (world’s no. 1 motivational speaker and a dear friend of Steve’s) to stay at her home for a 5-day exclusive retreat. The regular price for the retreat: $21,000.
Obviously, it was a delightful surprise, and I am forever grateful for this gift. But it all started with tons of curiosity about Steve, about his likes and dislikes and a small action on my part.
That is the power of relationships.
The message they sent me from their dinner table is too personal for me to share — but here is a sneak peak:
So there you have it.
Investing in relationships is the best investment you can make.
Especially, if you are an introvert.
You can listen better. You can empathize better.
Moving to Canada — it was quite scary.
New country. No contacts. No job. No money. And I had even thicker accent back then.
Anyway, I was able to connect with a few kind people.
Through hard work, luck, and a few meaningful relationships — I got multiple golden opportunities to work on some of the most exciting startups and projects in the world.
I was able to set up a decent consulting service business in Canada. I worked hard, and as an introvert engineer — I put my head down and kept learning more about technology and business. I did not put much effort into networking.
But eventually, instead of relying on word of mouth — I set out to expand my business and transform it into a mature, growing organization with a team, a strong messaging, authentic branding, providing world-class products and services.
I was an introvert.
I was coming from a 100% technical background.
English is still not my first language.
And I still have an accent.
I had a rough start.
I tried the usual LinkedIn automation — and got my account locked.
I tried to spam users on Instagram and Facebook — but was put in the messaging jail for days.
Even when I was able to connect with someone — the conversation never went anywhere.
In some cases, I actually managed to annoy some connections to the extent that they sent me some really nasty messages. I tell you it was not easy on the ego :-)
But all those bad experiences helped me to gain meaningful feedback and understand what really works.
I hope you find this information useful and you can apply it to your life and business.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or Facebook.