Book Learning # 5

On Christmas day of 2000, my parents got me my first skateboard.  On that Christmas day while trying out my new skateboard, I met 3 kids my age who I would keep in contact with for a very long time: Dante (1 year older), Cathy (same age), and Charlene (2 years younger).  We met because they, too, got new presents–scooters!  But this is not what the story is about…

Cathy is now a successful hair stylist who does hair for rich people like Gwen Stefani (seriously) and many others.  Cathy and I grew up together in South San Francisco, we both moved to Millbrae in our early 20’s, and eventually moved to Los Angeles to take our careers further (believe it or not, us moving to the same cities was not planned at all!).

Cathy is a thriving and successful entrepreneur constantly looking for the next opportunity to make money to feed and clothe her daughter.  She has a very respectable boyfriend, who is also an aspiring entrepreneur.  On occasion, we like to get together to catch up, talk about our businesses and have some good laughs.  In doing so, her boyfriend, Arthur, and I got to talking about books one night and he told me to read “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie.  He highly recommended that I read it to help with my communication skills, so I did.

Without going into detail about the book, “How to Win Friends & Influence People” is essentially a list of principles to live by when wanting to effectively communicate with people, win them as life-long friends or colleagues, and become an effective influencer of your beliefs.  One thing that helped me tremendously after reading this book was: Become genuinely interested in other people.  Before, I always wanted to convey what my position was first.  By looking at my communication with people under a new lens, I am able to build better relationships more effectively by really caring about the other person and what they are interested in.  Why is this important?  My neighbor Cathy did not go to some prestigious school like Harvard or Princeton, but she is still extremely successful.  Why?  Cathy has built her success by perfecting her expertise and focusing on the building and sustaining of her relationships.  She treats her clients with so much compassion and interest and will buy their child (or even them!) a gift for their birthday, even though she may not know the child that well.

The key take away from both “How to Win Friends & Influence People” and my close friend Cathy is to focus on building and maintaining relationships, and be genuinely interested.  We all know you can’t get anywhere in this world by yourself…

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