At the beginning of one’s career you might be told that the Machiavellian view of “business is business” is the way to get ahead in your career and you may have seen the business world as some cutthroat competition. I never felt comfortable with this view so when I read Love is the Killer App by Tim Sanders, I at least realized that I wasn’t alone in my views. Sanders argues that if you show that you care for your co-workers and clients on a more personal level, you will be more successful and even feel more fulfilled in your work life. His big take away is that you should focus on the intangibles:
Your knowledge: diligently read books that will help you continue to grow
Your network: the collection of friends and contacts you now have, and those new relationships you learn to grow and nurture.
Your compassion: that human warmth you already possess that you should show freely at the office (and basically all areas of life!)
When assessing situations, I have a tendency to consider people’s feelings first. (I’m a ENFP with the Myers-Briggs personality test – Extraverted Intuition with Introverted Feeling.) I wouldn’t say that I am a push-over by any means, but I at least try to consider where people are coming from, whether they are being put in a tough position or just having a really stressful time in their personal lives, before I try to approach them in a potentially difficult situation. This is why when thinking of business as a ruthless arena where only the most aggressive and scheming players get the spoils, I had some concerns about how I fit into the mix.
However, after reading this book, I realize that I am (or at least try to be) what the author refers to as a “lovecat” (really obnoxious name but it at least gets his point across.) A lovecat is “a nice, smart person who succeeds in business and in life.” Lovecats are people connectors. They use their relationships to help other people, which in turn ends up helping them by growing stronger and stronger networks. I consciously tried out the author’s method for connecting people when I introduced my hair stylist, who has been suffering with chronic back pain (and has tried everything under the sun, including going to the Mayo clinic, to no avail) to a family friend who has her own reiki practice. So far things are looking good and it seems to be a mutually beneficial relationship for them (my stylist has less pain, and my friend gets free hair styling advice ) One thing that I think is important to be conscious of when setting people up is that you should try to not have any direct benefit from these introductions or else it can taint the experience for everyone involved and make the interaction feel shallow.
The other big idea I pulled from this book was to read more. My first thought was- well, duh! because I am already a huge book nerd, but Sanders shed some new light on how to approach reading for my career development and breaks down his reading style for the audience to show how he can easily retain and later reference books he has read. I realized that other than this book, and only a handful of others, I haven’t read many business-type books since college. This inspired me to not only read more business books, but start a book club at work so that I’m not the only one obtaining these useful insights. Plus, there are not many other things I enjoy more than a great conversation about a book I’ve read.
I’ll keep you posted on how our book club evolves and probably post a few reviews here and there. Our first book is Webs of Influence: The Psychology of Online Persuasion – feel free to read along!
Do you have any good business book suggestions that we could read next? I’d love to hear them!