Question on "The Persistent and Timely Will Inherit the Earth" -
Which is the best methods for dealing with people that correspondences aren't as much interesting as many with other people, and that you don't feel there is a fit, but they are really nice and want to connect with you ?
One thing I've learned is that you never know who is going to rise in the world.
Just writing to a random stranger on the internet shows a decent amount of tenacity on someone's part. Most people won't do it. So you're already filtered down to people who will put themselves out there a little bit and take a bit of action.
I know a guy who applied to work for me in a job when he was still in high school some years ago. I couldn't say yes to that - didn't want to deal with labor law, signing a contract with a minor (including IP assignment, work for hire... I don't know, seemed like it would have been a nightmare) - but he seemed like a good guy, so I took him out to lunch at a little Greek restaurant near my office and just asked what's going on his life.
He followed up with me a lot, a really hard working guy... now, at this stage, he didn't have anything really crazy-fascinating-interesting going on his life. I'm not saying that to be mean, most people don't when they're in high school. But he seemed like a good guy and he was really tenacious, whenever he asked for advice he applied it, and so on. So maybe once or twice a month he'd ping me and ask if we could grab coffee or food, and we did.
I lost track of him for a while when I left the States in 2008, but a few years later he'd become an extremely talented computer programmer, salesman, entrepreneur, and artist. Just massively prolific. Long story short, we wound up doing some really cool work together once we re-connected. He's also a really outstanding guy and I'm lucky to count him as a friend.
I think it's a common mistake, checking out someone's credentials and what they've got going on right now before deciding to help or not. If someone takes a bit of a risk, has a bit of tenacity, is gracious, and applies advice after they ask for it, they're probably going to rise in the world. Maybe not, but probably. The time to become great friends and colleagues with generals is not when they're generals - it's when they're lieutenants and captains.
I do have two pieces of general advice, though.
First, you want to conduct your life as a filter for the people you want in your life.
I'm all about doing some stuff instead of talking about some stuff. I know writers that broadly talk about compassion, etc, etc are going to have people looking for a shoulder to cry on. Well, that's not me. If you get knocked down and bruised up, we could look at why that happened and some useful things to get on your feet and fightin' again, but no one's getting their hand held here.
So, by having the right sort of ethics and life and putting those on display, you're already filtering and adjusting the kind of people who will like hanging out on your site and like writing to you.
Second, if someone wants advice, give them something to do immediately.
I learned this from a friend of mine who is a filmmaker, mostly nature documentaries. Apparently, that whole space has a ton of people trying to break into it, so he gets requests from people all the time about whether they can intern for him, be his assistant, or whether he'd just give them advice.
What he does now is immediately gives the person something to do. It could be a basic research task, or an errand, or he tells them to go buy and read a couple books on a topic and then get back to him.
He says that cuts out 80-90% of people right there. My experience, sadly, has been similar. But whatever, it's better for everyone if you know beforehand that they're not going to work on whatever you suggest.
But beyond that, try to be cool to everyone. Anyone who shows a little tenacity and risk-taking has something going for them. Be brief if you've got to be, but always try to be a little helpful if you can. I don't know how long I'll be able to keep doing it like I do now, but I enjoy it and I've connected with a lot of great people. I've also been surprised at a number of people who are just coming out of their shell and building really interesting lives, but their external world doesn't reflect it yet.
I agree that there are a *lot* of takers in the world. They will take advantage of your time and generosity. They will suck you dry without giving you anything in return, ever, not even a “thank you.”
I guess everywhere in the world, regardless of culture it is hard to find people who are not takers. I always have social trust, but somehow when people ask, I always think how I can help. Now I realized that a person needs to make certain steps to help himself. People sometime so reluctant to act. And I guess when they get my first advice and help, because they find that nobody helps them, they just start abusing relations starting asking for more and more from me, as they think the only way out.
It is true that the best way to find out if a person is serious to do something, ask him to do something.
I also faced with situations where people who took my help, got nice contracts, are unwilling to help even they could.
I am just continue seeking nice people who are not takers.
In my case, I try to do the following:
Whenever someone mentions they need me to help them with something (advice, idea, action etc.), I start asking specific questions, make as if I am already making a first step and showing interest - and then 'throw the ball back to them' - my number one filter is: 'Here's my email / phone number / etc., please remind me about it tomorrow'. It has worked great for a number of situations, like people gathered at a table talking generally, and someone mentions they need something from me - I always say 'we can do it, no problem', and then add - 'could you just remind me tomorrow' or something.
When I was little, I used to get out of my way to help people when they just mentioned something, only to find out they didn't value my input. This would drain my energy and make me feel stupid - sometimes the person didn't even remember asking for help. So lately the 'drop me an email to remind me please' filter has been a great help.
If the person needs the help, they would email / call me and we'd start working - but I don't remember when this last happened. And I'm not talking some complicated things - it's simple tasks like 'could you send me the photos from last week' etc. It's actually quite sad - but also, it shows you who's worthy (and actually needs) your help in the first place. It's a bit like the advice Sebastian is writing about - give the person something to do straight away.
Keith Ferazzi, author of the book "Never Eat Alone," says that you should go out of your way to help everybody who asks. This makes Ferazzi look like Mother Teresa (which is why he wrote it), but it's bad advice.
The ugly and hard reality is that there are a *lot* of takers in the world. They will take advantage of your time and generosity. They will suck you dry without giving you anything in return, ever, not even a "thank you." You MUST screen out these people. Time is just too precious.
Asking a person to do work to show commitment before you do something for them is the right way to do it.
I get asked all the time by people to help them find jobs (I run a jobs website and executive recruiting business). I tell them to go to the website, pick a job they like, send it to me with their CV and a short cover letter on why they are suitable for the job. If they do that I'll forward the job to the executive recruiter handling the vacancy.
It *does* cut out 80% of people right there.
If they're not willing to help themselves, great. Neither am I.
Question from a reader -
I often compare my life to others, especially to successful persons. It doesn't do any good to me. I feel such an injustice and get angry or depressed. Even if rationally I know that it's stupid and that there are people who got a way harder life than myself.
Do you know how to deal with that ?
About a week ago I woke up and got out of the RV, which I've had parked on the same street for the better part of the last five months. To my surprise there was ANOTHER RV in front of mine. It was a lot older, but about the same size.
I went to lunch, and as I returned I saw a man getting into the RV.
"Hi! Welcome to the neighborhood," I said jokingly.