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The Power of Enlightened Self-Interests in Business—and in Life

Posted on: June 1st, 2021

The Power of Enlightened Self-Interests in Business—and in Life

As an entrepreneur, your ability to persuade—to get people who are key drivers of your success to do what you want them to do—is crucial. That is true whether it’s convincing a great talent to join your company, motivating employees to give it their all, convincing customers to buy your solution, or getting the counterparts in a negotiation to go along with key aspects of a deal.

In those and many other moments, entrepreneurs generally focus on selling—their ability to promote themselves and their companies in ways that get others to buy in, or actually buy! The main goal of most business owners is to sell, sell, sell. Even when starting a new company, proficiency at selling concepts and ideas can be a big difference between getting funded and not getting funded. In these scenarios, selling the vision and future of the burgeoning business can be all the harder because you might not have anything more than a brilliant idea or two.

But here’s the thing: When it comes to getting others to take the actions you desire, you may be doing it wrong—or at least, not optimally.

Here’s why.

When selling doesn’t sell

When most business owners try to sell—their ideas and vision, their companies, their products or services, and so on—they make it all about themselves. They try to persuade their audience of the merits of their perspectives and positions and win those people over. Of course, many entrepreneurs are extremely skilled at painting wondrous pictures.

But while in many situations such an approach can (and often does) work very well, it has its limitations. Many people who are important to your success may be turned off by “being sold to” by someone who always makes it all about himself and his self-interests. Therefore, if your approach is to always be selling, you will run into strong opposition and disinterest—maybe only occasionally, but perhaps quite often.

The bottom line: You need other people to help you succeed—but straight-out selling is not always the best way to enlist their help. So what can you do?

Enlightened self-interests

In many instances, an approach that is more effective than selling is to concentrate on the goals of others around you—and then find ways to show them how they can reach their goals by helping you succeed.

This approach centers on both what other people seek to achieve (their self-interests) and what you seek to achieve (your self-interests).

We see this approach used often by entrepreneurs with sizable wealth—those with tens of millions of dollars in net worth, for example. Instead of pitching their products or services, for instance, these leading business owners develop a deep understanding of the people they are dealing with. They talk to the other person or the audience and find areas of commonality. This helps them uncover the self-interests of these other parties. These top entrepreneurs then concentrate on where their self-interests overlap with the self-interests of the other people.

This overlap is referred to as enlightened self-interests (see Exhibit 1).

Exhibit 1

Enlightened Self-Interests

When you approach business situations using an enlightened self-interests model, your aim is to enhance individual relationships by making the moment and the conversation all about the other person—not about you. Your goal is to focus on what is meaningful (and not meaningful) to each individual who is potentially important to your future success.

Important: An enlightened self-interests approach is best geared to one-on-one interactions or small groups. To get the most meaningful results, you need to engage in deep dialogues that help you uncover others’ self-interests. If you are in front of a large audience—making a presentation, for example—it can be more difficult to use this approach. In such instances, seek to understand the group as best you can—for example, by talking to the group’s executive director or leader about their interests and concerns well in advance of  your presentation.

Putting enlightened self-interests to work

Consider some possible outcomes in the context of leadership when you take this approach:

  • You are able to build a substantial and hyper-loyal following.
  • You are able to do a great job of motivating others within, and outside of, your company to do their very best so your company can excel.
  • People will stick with you even when things turn bad—some may even “follow you into hell” if necessary.

Think about it. The very nature of leadership is that people are following you and working hard to make your company successful. They believe in your vision—for the business, for yourself and for them. A critical characteristic of a leader is the ability to garner loyalty and create a powerful supportive culture. By enhancing your relationships with your employees and showing them how following you will get them to their goals and objectives, you garner that loyalty and create that culture.

Consider the issue from another perspective—your significant customers. You can get enormous traction with customers when you are able to help them address their concerns and assist them in achieving their agendas. The key is for your offering to match up to what they require. Instead of trying to convince others that your product or service is what they should buy, you find decisive ways your offering addresses their most important concerns.

This is not a subtle difference. When you are selling, the focus is on you. When you are uncovering and aligning self-interests, the focus is on customers. By showing people how they can get the results they want by using your company’s capabilities, you are aligning your self-interests and their self-interests to create enlightened self-interests.

Using enlightened self-interests in your networking efforts

Selling is also commonly used when entrepreneurs build business networks designed to help them make important connections. But we find that using an enlightened self-interests approach can potentially help you establish and strengthen valuable network relationships more quickly—which results in those high-value people becoming motivated advocates for you. The people in the network are more likely to make concerted efforts not just to work with you, but also to find other impactful people for you to work with.

When this happens, you become “top of mind” with your advocates. When new possibilities arise, these people do all they can to connect you to those potential opportunities. Likewise, you end up doing the same for your business associates through your networking connections—which in turn creates even more motivation for your connections to introduce you to people who can help you succeed.

When you concentrate on everyone’s enlightened self-interests:

  • Other people will actively identify resources and make robust introductions.
  • The introductions are to people who have a good chance of being able to provide you with what you need and want.
  • Your close business relationships will truly understand what will help you be more successful and are will look out for the right people to introduce to you.
  • People with whom you have built the strongest relationships will become your fiercest advocates.

Beyond the business

Your main aim in using enlightened self-interests is to develop powerful working alliances with other people who can help you build an astounding company. But there is so much more to your life than just business or money.

When you strengthen key relationships using this approach, you can also set the stage for life-enhancing possibilities. Those people with whom you have strong business relationships—from employees to other entrepreneurs—can also end up being strong resources you can rely on when you need something for yourself or your family, or if your personal life gets tough.

Ultimately, it’s all about being able to call on people for help—something that is more easily done when dealing with people with whom you have strong relationships. Maybe it means getting preferential access to a specialty physician, helping your kid land a great job or even getting introduced to a celebrity. Regardless, when you help other people achieve their self-interests even while you pursue your own, you build a powerful network of people who can greatly improve your life—and the lives of people you care about most.

This report was prepared by, and is reprinted with permission from, VFO Inner Circle.  AES Nation, LLC is the creator and publisher of VFO Inner Circle reports.

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those held by Kestra IS or Kestra AS. The material is for informational purposes only. It represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. It is not guaranteed by Kestra IS or Kestra AS for accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.

Fusion Wealth Management is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. https://www.kestrafinancial.com/disclosures

VFO Inner Circle Special Report
By Russ Alan Prince and John J. Bowen Jr.
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