The Go-Giver Philosophy: An Interview with Bob Burg on The Price and Value Journey
March 8, 2022
At last count I've hosted and/or produced over 1,200 podcast episodes, and I haven't looked forward to one quite as much as this one. Bob Burg, Hall of Fame keynote speaker and co-author of The Go-Giver, one of the most influential business books of all time, joined me on The Price and Value Journey.
In our conversation Bob discussed the philosophy of being a go-giver and what it means, why giving and receiving are not opposites, why giving does not mean giving away services, how to view price and value, and much more.
You can find this episode of The Price and Value Journey on your favorite podcast app or by following this link. Below you will find an embedded player to listen right here or a transcript you can read.
I've been a fan of Bob's books for a long time, and I can't recommend The Go-Giver highly enough. If you've already read it, then move deeper into the Go-Giver book series, including The Go-Giver Leader and The Go-Giver Influencer. You'll receive value which will echo in your life for years.
©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray
John Ray: [00:00:00] And hello, everyone. I’m John Ray on The Price and Value Journey. And I am delighted today to have Bob Burg as a guest. Now, I have been a disciple of Bob’s – he doesn’t know this – because I’m one of those people that has read all his books, in some cases, twice. And if you haven’t done that, I would encourage you to do so.
John Ray: [00:00:22] If you don’t know Bob, he has for over 30 years been helping companies, sales leaders, and their teams to more effectively communicate their value, sell at higher prices with less resistance, and grow their businesses based on his book Endless Referrals.
John Ray: [00:00:44] But Bob is particularly known for The Go-Giver series, and that’s a series of books that he coauthored with John David Mann, and that have been bestsellers. And The Go-Giver, which is the anchor book of that series, has sold over a million copies at last count. It’s been one of the top motivational business books, really, of all time. So, I would encourage you to check those out.
John Ray: [00:01:14] And one other thing I’ll say about Bob, he’s an animal fanatic, and that’s one thing I love about Bob. So, congratulations on that work. Bob Burg, thank you so much for coming on The Price and Value Journey.
Bob Burg: [00:01:25] Hey. Thank you for having me, John. Great to be with you.
John Ray: [00:01:28] Yeah. Thank you. So, let’s talk a little bit about just the origins of The Go-Giver series and what led you to introduce that philosophy? And we’ll get more into that philosophy in just a second. But what led you to it?
Bob Burg: [00:01:49] Well, I guess the answer to what led me to that philosophy is just watching, and studying, and learning what successful people did. And I noticed that people who were sustainably successful always looked to how they could provide value to others. I think they understood something probably intuitively. That is something I say pretty much every conference where I speak, and that is to ask the audience, “How many of you agree with this statement, nobody’s going to buy from you because you have a quota to meet”?
Bob Burg: [00:02:32] How many of you believe that nobody’s going to buy from you because you need the money or just because you’re a really nice person? And it’s the same as a professional. You may not have a quota, but they’re still not buying from you because you would like them to. They’re going to buy from you, or do business with you, retain you, whatever it happens to be, however you want to call the sale, it’s going to be only because they believe that they will be better off by doing so than by not doing so. And that’s the only reason why anyone should do business with you, or with me, or with anyone else.
Bob Burg: [00:03:12] And what I noticed is the most successful people understood this. Now, again, they may have just known this intuitively or they may have learned this, but they understood it. And so, they knew that their job was to always find ways to bring value, immense value, to those they chose to do business with.
John Ray: [00:03:35] In your books, you say this is not religious, although these principles are contained in a lot of the world’s religions, one of the things that I’m curious about is, do you have to have a predisposition toward giving to be a go-giver? Because it is counterintuitive, as you say.
Bob Burg: [00:03:54] Yeah. I think that if you have a predisposition too. And you bring up a good point, too, and let’s first kind of define what we mean by giving in this context. I think people hear the title of The Go-Giver, and they may think it’s talking about giving money, or giving away your services, or not caring about making a profit. And it has nothing to do with those. When we say go-giver, we’re simply talking about understanding that shifting your focus from – and this is just your focus – getting to giving.
Bob Burg: [00:04:31] When we say giving in this context, we simply mean constantly and consistently providing immense value to others. Understanding that doing so is not only a more fulfilling way of conducting business, it is the most financially profitable way as well. And, again, not for any woo woo way out there, magical, mystical type of reasons. Not at all. It’s very rational. It’s very logical.
Bob Burg: [00:04:57] When you’re that person who can take your focus off of yourself and place it on serving others, moving off of yourself, and looking at how you can determine what they need, what they want, what they desire, when you can take your focus off of you and place it on helping another person solve their problems and challenges, well, people feel good about you. They want to get to know you. They like you. They trust you. They want to be in a relationship with you. They want to do business with you directly. And they want to tell others about you. So, when we talk about giving, that is what we what we mean.
Bob Burg: [00:05:35] So, do you have to have a predisposition to it? I think some people have a predisposition to wanting to be of value to others. Now, I think most of us do, actually. Most of us, when we get into business, it’s because it’s our way of expressing our values, our personal values.
Bob Burg: [00:05:55] If you’re an attorney, you want to help that other person. If you’re an architect, you want to help that other person. If you’re an accountant, you want to help that other person. You’re doing all these things through your business. But as human beings, we tend to have a desire to do something that makes a contribution.
Bob Burg: [00:06:19] Now, there’s nothing self-sacrificial about that, though, and it’s important to understand that. It’s through our contribution to others, through giving value to others, that we cause people to, again, want to do business with us. So, that’s why I say it’s not only in alignment with human nature, it’s very, very profitable.
Bob Burg: [00:06:43] Now, if someone does not have a predisposition to it, let’s say they are what we call a go-taker. A go-giver is someone who’s focused on providing immense value to others. A go-getter is someone who takes action. We love go-getters. A go-getter is not the opposite of a go-giver. The opposite of the go-giver is a go-taker. That’s that person who feels entitled to take, take, take without having added value to the person, to the process, to the situation.
Bob Burg: [00:07:10] Go-takers tend to be very frustrated because they rarely attain the kind of success they feel they deserve. But even when they do, and they do sometimes, it’s typically not as sustainable because it hasn’t really been built on a correct foundation. But there are also those go-takers who do, over time, build a financial empire, and they’re very good at what they do, and they make a lot of money, and it’s sustainable.
Bob Burg: [00:07:38] But, first, they’ve got to work awfully hard at it. They probably have some very specific talent that allows them to do that. But they make it as they do not because they’re a go-taker, it’s in spite of being a go-taker. Not to mention, typically, go-takers, even financially successful ones, tend to have awful personal relationships for obvious reasons.
Bob Burg: [00:08:05] So, we say be a go-getter and a go-giver, just not a go-taker. But if someone is by nature a go-taker, they can learn to become a go-giver. But they’ll have to understand why it’s in their best interest to actually focus on the other person.
John Ray: [00:08:23] There’s a moment in The Go-Giver where Joe, who’s the protagonist of the story, he has that moment where he figures it out. And it actually is not at his job, or his occupation, or, for the rest of us, in our business, it’s at home. So, talk about the significance of that, because that was striking to me. That’s when you talked about the law of influence.
Bob Burg: [00:08:54] Right. Exactly. And he realized that his relationship with his wife should not be a 50-50 proposition. It should simply be 100, with both of them looking to benefit the other person. Now, this should not be confused with a codependent type of thing, where one person is abusive and the other person is saying it’s okay. Not at all. That’s not we’re talking about.
Bob Burg: [00:09:22] We’re talking about that, at best, when two people, both, are focused on bringing happiness to the other. Well, now you’ve got a wonderful, wonderful situation. And what Joe realized was it wasn’t that he and Susan should be 50-50, but if he would focus on the 100 part and then as he saw, she did the same, and that’s what happened so often.
Bob Burg: [00:09:44] Well, the reason we put this into the story, because it is a business book and it’s through a business publishing house. But we also wanted to make the point that success principles – and we’re not talking about strategies or tactics necessarily because those do differ across the board – universal laws, they transfer, whether you’re talking about success financially, physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially, relationally.
Bob Burg: [00:10:10] And we wanted to show that, yeah, this isn’t just for business. It’s actually for all the aspects of life that are so important. But that, often, a principle that is utilized at home can be transferred to business. And a business principle can transfer to the home or to any other other areas. So, that’s why we included that.
John Ray: [00:10:35] You know, it strikes me, Bob, that you’re very familiar with Robert Cialdini and his Laws of Influence and Reciprocity. And I think some people misinterpret reciprocity, and they think it’s meant to plant something in someone else that creates an obligation. And you do a really good job of explaining that’s not what reciprocity is all about.
Bob Burg: [00:10:58] So, our law, Law Number 5, is the Law of Receptivity. Dr. Cialdini’s law is the Law of Reciprocity. And they’re two different things. They’re both fine principles. And they both have their time and place. Reciprocity – and this is in Dr. Cialdini’s book – is the very human need – so it’s an aspect of human nature – to want to return in-kind what someone else does for you. It’s just human nature. And it’s the same with all of us. If someone gives or does something for someone, we have a human need to want to give something to that person. But that’s just how it is.
Bob Burg: [00:11:44] Now, that can be used to manipulate another human being or it can be used just for very innocuous reasons. If you go about giving value to others without – what I call – an attachment to the result, so you’re not giving to this person for the idea that they have to then feel obligated to give back to you. You’re not doing it for that reason. You’re just giving value to others because that’s who you are and because that’s who you are, it’s what you do. You’re naturally creating that benevolent context for success where it will come to you.
Bob Burg: [00:12:20] Now, again, nothing magical, nothing mystical about it. And that when that happens, now is when receptivity comes in. Receptivity is simply the ability to receive that which comes your way.
John Ray: [00:12:36] Now, let’s talk more about that because, as you say in the book or you said somewhere along the way – I can’t remember if it’s in the book or not – that’s the hardest law for folks to wrap their heads around because I think it throws people off. First time readers, the first four laws are about giving and then we’re talking about receiving. Talk about why this is hard and what you counsel folks about that.
Bob Burg: [00:13:08] And you bring up a great point because as John David Mann – my fantastic co-author and really the lead writer storyteller in the series – as he says, the first four laws are like the fingers of a hand. The last law, the law of receptivity, is like the thumb. It brings it together, but it’s a little different. It’s different than the fingers. So, yeah, the fourth first four laws are all about the value you’re providing in certain ways. The fifth law says, okay, now when it comes to you, you need to be able to receive it, and this can be difficult.
Bob Burg: [00:13:40] The law of receptivity says the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. This really means nothing more than understanding that you breathe out, but you also have to breathe in. It’s not one or the other. You’ve got to do both in order to survive and in order to thrive. You breathe out carbon dioxide, you breathe in oxygen. You breathe out, which is giving; you breathe in, which is receiving. Well, giving and receiving are not opposite concepts. Yet the world around us gives us the message that they are.
Bob Burg: [00:14:15] And whether it’s a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news, media, television shows, movies, social media, political conversations, whatever, what do we hear all the time? That money is horrible, and the people who have money are bad, and they did it on the backs of others, and they this, and they that. You see it in every movie and on every T.V. show, the villains are always wealthy. Now, there are people in the world who certainly do things that are evil and bad and some of them make a lot of money.
Bob Burg: [00:14:44] But for those of us who are operating in a basically free market type economy – and when I say free market, I simply mean no one’s forced to do business with anyone else – the only way you can earn a very, very high income is by providing a lot of value to a lot of people. Because, remember, no one’s forced to do business with you. You have to earn it through the value you provide them.
Bob Burg: [00:15:12] But because of the horrible, not mixed messages, just the horrible negative messages, the anti-prosperity messages were hit with from everywhere around us. It can really get into a person’s head. And when I say in their head, I mean their unconscious, not the conscious part. That’s the most insidious thing of all. That, consciously, sure, everybody, we want to make a lot of money. Great.
Bob Burg: [00:15:35] But unconsciously, if you associate money with something evil, if you associate money with taking advantage of others, if you associate making money with being dishonest, and, again, it’s unconscious, then what you’re going to do is you’re going to push that away. You’re going to reject it unconsciously, but you’re going to do that. And that’s why people have such a difficult time.
Bob Burg: [00:15:56] And I can’t tell you how many people just wrote to us and said, that chapter is the first time I’ve ever felt it was okay to make a lot of money. Well, really, John, we didn’t go into detail in any way about that. It was very surfaced the way we handled it. And yet, still, people were able to kind of see. Because of that, what I would suggest people do is, if they have an issue with this, which most people do, and I certainly did at one time, and that is to make a study of prosperity. A study of prosperity.
Bob Burg: [00:16:36] So, there are people out there like Randy Gage. There are people out there like, well, the late Bob Proctor, who we just lost. There are people like Sharon Lechter and Ellen Rogan and Ken Honda and David Nagel. And there’s just a great book I just read by Derrick Kinney that just came out called The Good Money Revolution. And these people, they write, they speak, they blog, and they go into detail on the mental and emotional aspects of money. And 99 percent of what they talk about is the mental game. It’s how to get past all those blockages and allow the prosperity to come to you that you’ve earned.
John Ray: [00:17:21] You know, I think a lot of services providers have the perception that when you say adding value, that means giving away services to clients. And for you, I want you to say more on that, but it’s really bigger than clients and prospects, and giving value is much, much bigger than whatever your services are. In fact, it may not include anything about your services.
Bob Burg: [00:17:50] So, let’s look at the difference between price and value, because I think it begins there. And it’s important to understand that price is a dollar figure. It’s a dollar amount. It’s finite. It simply is what it is. Value, on the other hand, is the relative worth or desirability of something to the end user or beholder.
Bob Burg: [00:18:17] In other words, what is it about this thing, this product, service, concept, idea, what have you, that brings so much worth or value to another human being that they will willingly exchange whether it’s time, or money, or whatever it happens to be, for this and feel great about it while you make a very healthy profit.
Bob Burg: [00:18:40] Now, it would be like, let’s say, an accountant who does someone’s taxes and they charge the person $1,000. That’s their fee or price, $1,000. But what value are they providing their client in exchange for this $1,000? Well, through their work, their dedication, their getting to know this other person and their business, and what have you.
Bob Burg: [00:19:02] They’re able to save their client $5,000. They save them countless hours of time. They provide them and their family with the security and the peace of mind of understanding it was done correctly. They provide empathy in the process. They are able to work and teach this person how to be able to know that everything they’ve given, this value that they’ve given. They’ve given well over $5,000 in value, way over, in exchange for $1,000 fee.
Bob Burg: [00:19:35] So, the customer, the client feels great about it. But your accountant also made a very healthy profit because it was worth it to them to lease, if you will, or sell their time, their energy, their knowledge, their wisdom, their research, everything in exchange for this $1,000 fee. And maybe 900 of it was profit. And that’s exactly what they needed to make it worth their while.
Bob Burg: [00:20:01] So, in any market based exchange, there should always be two profits. The buyer should profit and the seller should profit. Because each of them comes away better off afterwards than they were beforehand. The more value you’re able to communicate, the more that you can charge, obviously. And most go-givers tend to be people who operate this way, tend to be at the higher end of the price scale, because they’re not selling on price. They’re selling on value. When you sell on low price, you’re a commodity. When you sell on high value, you’re a resource.
John Ray: [00:20:43] I love it. Bob, we’re coming to the end of our time, but I want to get to one other point, which is, you talk about in The Go-Giver Leader. And this is one of the books in your series that maybe solopreneur or small firm owners won’t necessarily read because they think they’re not leading a big team, but they ought to read it.
John Ray: [00:21:06] And one of the things you talk about is the biggest challenge that any organization has is the fear and doubt that swirls around in the minds of team members. And that a leader’s job is to hold fast to the big picture of that vision. Address, though, how do I keep holding that vision myself? Because I need to have it in myself before I can communicate it to my team members and to the world. How do I hold it in myself?
Bob Burg: [00:21:42] Well, the toughest thing for any business owner or any entrepreneur is that, when things are going sideways, which they do sometimes, is not getting so frustrated and scared and all the other emotions that come with it, that you just kind of throw up your hands because they’re looking at you to get your response. And so, we say the easy part is having the vision. Anyone can have a vision. The toughest part is holding the vision, especially as things are going wrong.
Bob Burg: [00:22:16] And so, I think it comes down to really two things. One, it’s that original desire or what they call your why. So, why are you doing what you’re doing? Why did you have that desire in the first place? What was it that caused you to create this business, knowing you were going to work long hours and probably use a lot of your own savings, or whatever you had to do? And so, you had a desire that was obviously very big in the first place. And that’s often not enough to hold it.
Bob Burg: [00:22:50] But I think when you combine that desire with belief, now, is where you’ve got it, in a couple of things. One is having a belief in yourself that you’ve got what it takes. But it’s also a belief in that vision that you’re holding. You’ve got to so believe in that vision and in your desire, the reason why you had that vision, in the first place. Because that’s what the desire is, the vision is the manifestation of that desire, what have you.
Bob Burg: [00:23:26] So, having the belief is what keeps you nine feet tall and bulletproof. It’s that belief that what you’re doing is bringing value to the world. It’s nudging the world forward. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. And that it’s worth it. And I think when you have that, that’s what allows you to hold the vision. But without that desire being strong enough and that belief being strong enough, well, it’s very hard to hold the vision.
John Ray: [00:24:01] Great words here from Bob Burg. And, Bob, we’ve got to let you go and sprinkle more value around in the world like you always do. But before we let you go, for folks beyond just reading your books, how can people that are interested in your ideas engage with you further?
Bob Burg: [00:24:21] They could go to burg, B-U-R-G, .com, and pretty much everything’s there. One very exciting thing we have going is what’s called the Go-Giver Community. And this is where people all come together who have a business and they really just want to be with a whole community of people that believes in living their lives and conducting business the go-giver away. So, they’re focused on providing value to others and also willing to allow themselves to receive that which others wish to give to them. So, it’s a really, really great community. So, we invite people to come and take a look.
John Ray: [00:25:02] That’s great. Bob Burg, he along with his coauthor, John David Mann, is the author of The Go-Giver series of books. Bob, it’s been a pleasure and honor to have you on the show. Thank you so much for joining us.
Bob Burg: [00:25:16] Oh, thank you. It’s been a pleasure.
John Ray: [00:25:19] I want to thank Bob again so much for coming on The Price and Value Journey. I can’t think of anyone more qualified to talk about value than Bob Burg. If you want to know more about Bob and The Go-Giver philosophy, go to burg.com. You can find all his books there, including The Go-Giver. There’s an expanded edition that just came out in the last few years. He also has The Go-Giver Sell More, The Go-Giver Leader, and The Go-Giver Influencer. And I recommend all of those books, they’re terrific guides to success in business.
John Ray: [00:26:05] Bob mentioned his Go-Giver Community network, and if you’d like to know more on that opportunity, go to thegogivercommunity.com. That community is the answer to the question, What do I do now that I’ve read the books? What do I do now because I want to dive deeper? And that community is a great answer to that question if you’re interested in more.
John Ray: [00:26:29] I’m John Ray on The Price and Value Journey. And if you would like to check out our complete archive of shows, go to pricevaluejourney.com. And if you’d like to connect with me directly, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for joining us.
About me: I help solo or small professional services firm owners with the confidence and positioning necessary to improve their pricing and change the trajectory of not only their business but their life.
I have a podcast called The Price and Value Journey, which features interviews with industry leaders and audio versions of my blog posts. You can find the podcast on your favorite podcast app.
I also have a book coming out in 2023: <i>The Price and Value Journey: Raise Your Confidence, Your Value, and Your Prices to Grow Your Business Using The Generosity Mindset.</i>
For more information, go to PriceValueJourney.com