More Acclaim for Who’s Got Your Back

“Who’s Got Your Back is more than a ‘self-help’ book. It’s the first ‘let
others help’ book. If you’re serious about your success, listen to Ferrazzi and build your support circle today.”
—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind
“In a bleak time for business, Keith’s book is both a wake-up call and a
cheerful reminder that you can beat the odds—with the right help.”
—Dr. Mehmet Oz, co-author of the #1 bestseller
YOU: The Owner’s Manual, and host on the
Oprah & Friends XM Radio Show

“I am not a big reader of self-help books, but this is refreshingly simple. Not the simple found in clichés but the elegant simplicity and
useful voice of experience.”
—Seth Waugh, CEO, Deutsche Bank, Americas
“Ferrazzi does it again. Concrete advice with inspiring stories: a business book for everyone that goes far beyond just business.”
—Teresa M. Ressel, CEO, UBS Securities
“Keith’s program isn’t about changing who you are. It’s about enlisting others to help you become the best you can be.”
—Dennis R. Glass, President and CEO,
Lincoln Financial Group

“Keith Ferrazzi has done it again. In Who’s Got Your Back, he provides
brilliant insights to building your ‘dream team’ of trusted supporters
that will ensure your success—through intimacy, vulnerability, candor, and accountability. It’s a must read!”
—Bill George, author of True North
and former CEO of Medtronic

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“Keith Ferrazzi does for relationships what Tom Peters did for management . . . he’s opened our eyes to a new reality that relationships
are the key to success in business. Who’s Got Your Back will teach anyone, from job seekers to CEOs, how to quickly build the kinds of
relationships that really make a difference in business.”
—Jack Canfield, co-author of The Success Principles
and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series

“Ferrazzi points out that a seismic shift is underway; we are moving
from isolation and corporate silos to community and collaboration.
This book is a road map for success in the new world, conveyed with
emotion and wit.”
—Devin Wenig, CEO, Thomson Reuters Markets
“Keith is at the forefront of understanding relationships as a technology for success. This book will grab you from the first page and
shower you with ideas, provocations, and insights that make it worth
more than the price of admission.”
—Seth Godin, author of Tribes
“After reading Keith Ferrazzi’s Who’s Got Your Back, you will not only
be inspired to make change happen in your life, but you will be able
to make it stick!”
—Bill Novelli, CEO, AARP
“If I’d had this book at the start of my career, I would have saved myself 30 years of trial and error. If you are serious about your success,
I strongly recommend that you read this book and build your support circle today.”
—Marshall Goldsmith, author of What Got You Here
Won’t Get You There, New York Times bestseller,
Wall Street Journal #1 business book

“Get ready to read a book that will strengthen every one of your closest relationships. If you haven’t read Who’s Got Your Back, you’re at a
competitive disadvantage.”
—Tom Rath, author of the bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0

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who’s got
your back
the breakthrough program to build deep,
trusting relationships that create success—
and won’t let you fail

k e ith ferrazzi

b r o a d w ay b o o k s
new york

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Copyright © 2009 Keith Ferrazzi
All Rights Reserved
Published in the United States by Broadway Books, an imprint of The
Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
www.broadwaybusinessbooks.com
broadway books and its logo, a letter B bisected on the diagonal,
are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Book design by Tina Henderson
Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file with the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-0-385-52133-8
printed in the united states of america
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
First Edition

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To purchase a copy of 

Who’s Got Your Back? 
visit one of these online retailers: 
 
Amazon 
Barnes & Noble 
Borders 
IndieBound 
Powell’s Books 
Random House 

www.BroadwayBooks.com

contents

acknowledgments
introduction

xiii
1

SECTION ONE: who’s got your back

7

How lifeline relationships can change your life—as they did mine
Lose Weight, Get Rich, and Change the World
Well Connected and All Alone
Know Who You Are and Where You Belong
Eureka!
Why Do We Need Lifelines?
Building My Own Inner Circle
Four Ways Lifeline Relationships Will Help You
Mentors and Lifelines
Now Let’s Get Started

SECTION TWO: the four mind-sets

9
11
12
15
17
22
26
27
28
31

Creating a foundation for lifeline relationships
The Power of Intimacy
It’s in Our DNA

33
34

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contents

The Consequences of Life Without a Tribe
Ease Off the Brakes
Getting Tribal: The Four Mind-Sets to Building
Lifeline Relationships
Destination Safe Place
Mind-Set #1: generosity

What Do I Have to Offer?
Universal Currency
Personal Currency
Is My Currency Good Here?
Now, Let Others Help You
Give and Let Give
Asking for Help: The Law of Attraction
Give, Get, Repeat
Mind-Set #2: vulnerability

Who Do You Like Better?
Don’t Be a Coward—Have the Courage
to Be Vulnerable
A Risk That Pays Dividends
First, Build a Foundation
“But Seriously, at Work?” Yes, Even at Work
Trust Me
The Eight Steps to Instant Intimacy
Mind-Set #3: candor

The Value of Full Disclosure
The Right and Wrong Ways to Be Candid at Work
Let’s Get Candid
Taking Candor to the Next Level
Become the Straight Shooter
Shoot Straight, but Never Shoot When Angry
Pitfalls of Candor

35
40
41
43
46
48
48
50
52
54
58
60
63
65
65
66
67
69
72
73
74
87
89
90
93
93
98
99
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contents

Mind-Set #4: accountability

At Long Last, Change!
The Right Buddy, Not Just Anybody
The Business of Accountability

SECTION THREE: building your dream team

ix

104
105
108
114
121

Nine steps to creating the lifeline relationships that will help you
get the advice and support you need to achieve your goals
Step One: Articulate Your Vision

129

Step Two: Find Your Lifeline Relationships

131
132

Look Beyond Your Immediate Circle
How Will You Know if the Other Person Has
Lifeline Potential?
The 4 C’s
The Team You Choose Will Change and Evolve
Cleaning House
Step Three: Practice the Art of the Long Slow Dinner

Act as If: Lifeline Role Playing
Reach Out Far, Wide, and Constantly
Try a Little Candor
Are They Tough Enough to Hold You Accountable?
One Last Thing
Step Four: Broaden Your Goal-Setting Strategy

The Nuances of Goal Setting
Stretch Goals
With Performance Goals, Failure Is an Impossibility
Make Their Work Goals Your Goals
Create a “Press Release” for Your Goals

141
141
144
145
148
151
151
152
153
153
155
156
159
160
160
162

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x

contents

Step Five: Create Your Personal Success Wheel

Blend, Don’t Balance
The Who Factor
Do You Really Want It? Or Do You Merely Think
You Should Want It?
Troubleshooting the Goal-Setting Process
Mission Creep
Belief Gap
Skills Gap
Third-Inning Slump
Step Six: Learn to Fight!

Sparring Ground Rules
The Four R’s of Listening
Getting Down to Sparring
Step Seven: Diagnose Your Weaknesses

Just Pick One
Pushing Past Our Limitations
Know-It-All
Remember That the Glass Can Be Half Full, Too

163
164
167
169
170
171
171
171
172
173
175
183
185
188
195
203
205
205

Step Eight: Commit to Improvement

210

Step Nine: Fake It Till You Make It—Then Make It Stick

216
219
222
226
227

Faking Your Way to Mutual Support
When Things Go Wrong
Troubleshooting the Four Mind-Sets
Collaborate, Don’t Compromise

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contents

SECTION FOUR: make it your life

xi

231

The tactics, strategies, and structures—from formal organizations
to do-it-yourself peer groups—that help you stay the course
A Little Structure Goes a Long Way

There Is a School for Every Fish in the Sea
Taking the Loneliness Out of the
Entrepreneurial Journey
Getting Stuff Done
Do It Yourself

How to Conduct a Meeting
Forming a Greenlight Group
Recruiting 101
The Recruiting Dos and Don’ts
It’s Easy After the First Time
Initiation Rites
The Promises
Greenlight Group Promises
The Principles
The Rules of Engagement
Holding Each Member of the Group Accountable
The Buddy System
Spotlight Sessions
Celebrate Conflict
One Final Recommendation
Transforming the Workplace

Lifeline Relationships Within the Corporation:
What You’re Working Toward
The Greenlight Method
Make It Your Business
Pay It Forward and Keep It Going

233
238
241
243
246
247
250
253
254
255
256
257
257
258
259
260
261
262
263
265
266
268
269
282
284

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xii

contents

Never Sell Alone (For Salespeople Only)

A Road Map to Getting More “Team” in Team Selling
How Can I Get Started?
Communication Is Critical
What Are the Common Pitfalls of Team Selling?
The Rewards of Team Sales

coda: escape silo nation
index

286
288
291
295
296
298

299
305

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acknowledgments

T

he simplest, most complete definition of a lifeline relationship is
someone who will never let you fail. So many were lifelines for me
during the three-year process of writing of this book, and the results
are the best argument for mutual support that I could ever make. I’m
so proud of what we created together.
First, a deep thanks to the core team who helped me bring this
book to life, listed in alphabetical order because each was critical to
its completion: Max Alexander, Jim Mourey, Tahl Raz, Sara Grace
Rimensnyder, and Peter Smith. Jim Mourey, aka Data, has been with
the project since November 2007, when we plastered the walls of my
house with giant Post-it sheets. He led the research effort and provided tireless insight and support. Sara Grace helped me bring the
manuscript home during the final six months, providing untold
hours of writing, editing, and project management. Max Alexander
put a great deal of tireless energy and effort into this project, over
many months. Peter Smith dived in 24/7, and during the holidays; his
combination of talent, good-heartedness, and generosity make him
what could only be described as a true mensch. And finally, Tahl Raz
deserves my utmost gratitude. He helped get this project started with
his insight and butt-kicking criticism, and then helped me bring it
home, in a tone and style that I consider poetry.

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xiv

acknowledgments

To my intellectual lifelines, the core of the Greenlight Research
Group—Mark Goulston, Morrie Shechtman, and of course, Data.
Mark was up at the house for many of those initial sessions, and has
been available to brainstorm and provide spot-on feedback every
step of the way. Morrie brought candor to the forefront of my life
at a very crucial moment; his work around Accountability Groups
strengthened my belief in the power of workplace peer support and
had an important impact on FG.
To Manlio Carrelli and Jeff Kaplan, who made invaluable IP contributions to the “Transforming the Workplace” and “Never Sell Alone”
chapters, respectively. Finally, to the handful of talented writers who
generously contributed their insight and art at several stages of the process: Brett Brune, Peter Carbonara, Lucas Conley, Vince Rause, Heather
Schultz, Karen Watts, and Frank Wilkinson.
A deep bow to my tireless editor Roger Scholl at Random House,
who did yeoman’s work on draft after draft, making every chapter sing,
and without whom I may not have been a writer at all (it was Roger
who called me up and suggested I write the book that would become
Never Eat Alone); to Michael Palgon, my publisher, who stayed calm
through every missed deadline; and to my friend and publishing mentor Steve Rubin.
To Stan Lim, for his caring support and sacrifices, as well as his
contributions to the jacket design; and to my mom and dad, for making everything and anything I wanted to achieve possible.
To Julie Ede, the den mother of my house and a dear friend. Julie,
the angel of WGYB, provided sustenance (among a million other
things) when I literally didn’t leave the seat I was in for hours and
hours, over many days.
To Ray Gallo, Roel Hinojosa, Bob Kasunic, Gavin McKay, Tad
Smith, and Fernando Trejo, the friends I turn to most quickly and in
my most vulnerable states. These guys provide every level of practical
and emotional support and accountability—lifelines to the fullest.
Also on that list belongs my infallible accountability buddy, Dr. Rob
Dirksen. Rob, let’s keep on running.

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acknowledgments

xv

To my fellow travelers in peer support, leaders in the organizations
and institutions who’ve helped us learn so much: Raphael Pastor of
Vistage; Matthew Weiss and Matthew Stewart of Entrepreneurs Organization; Bill Pepicello and Terri Bishop of the University of Phoenix;
Jean Nidetch and Dave Kirchhoff of Weight Watchers; Bob Halperin
and Daniel Schwartz of YPO; Bill George, author of True North, among
many other great achievements; and Bill W., the founder of AA.
To Tony Robbins, whose friendship has had a major impact on my
life; George Halvorson, whose research and intellectual spirit deserve
their own book; to our friends at Facebook, including Matt Cohler,
Jon Fougner, and Tim Kendall, who are providing the technology to
connect us ever more closely; and to the Gallup Organization, which
has done so much to advance the cause of deepening workplace relationships. (Special thanks to Gallup CMO Larry Emond and partner
Doug Stover, who was so quickly helpful when we needed it.)
To the dear friends whose stories have made this book live and
breathe, with special acknowledgment to Lisa and Mehmet Oz, who
have both inspired me and supported my work over the years. Lisa
spent time with me that she didn’t have, to make the manuscript
great—no wonder Mehmet’s so successful!
To John Reid-Dodick, Devin Wenig, and the team at Thomson
Reuters Markets. I left our first meeting together giddy from our collective success and mutual inspiration, which set the tone for everything. I am thrilled by our work together, and I offer my sincere thanks
for participating as a case study here.
To Roger Arnold, Mark Dean, Jason Owens, Nikki Sorum, and
the entire crew at Thrivent Financial: Thank you for providing such
an incredible model for team sales, and for being so truly committed.
Without Jason’s coordination and insight into dozens of hours of interviews, there would be no “Never Sell Alone” chapter.
To the entire group who discussed and/or reviewed early outlines,
chapters, and drafts—your generous input and help not only led the
way to a “good book,” but also gave me the encouragement I needed
to get across the finish line: Sherry Chris, Samantha Clemens (who

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xvi

acknowledgments

was involved in multiple brainstorming sessions), Danielle GaudioLalehzar, Vicki Halsey, Dwayne Landry, Monish Mansukhani, Glenn
Richardson, Peter Roche (with special kudos for his insight), Teresa
Ressel, Matt Sharrers, Guru Singh, Hilary Tetenbaum, Howard Tucker,
Peter Winick (who went above and beyond by reading an entire draft
almost overnight), Ian Ybarra, and Dave Zobel.
To my cousin Wendy Scalzitti, whose partnership success story
gave me the strength of conviction that I was on the right track.
To my agents, Jay Mandel and Wayne Kabak at William Morris,
who are absolute pros and have been so responsive during this entire
process.
To Kevin Small, singularly the most brilliant individual I’ve ever
met when it comes to understanding the future of the business of
helping others, and how to manage it.
To those who participated in our Greenlight Group pilot at Big
Task, with special thanks to Eric Hansen, whose courage to be candid
and vulnerable elevated and set the tone for the entire group, and to
Beth Comstock, whose role in the success of that day was critical.
To the lead Greenlight Community Ambassadors, whose enthusiasm is launching a movement: Jorge Colón, Maxine Karchie, Sana
Ahmed, Seb Bourcheix, Tami Conner, Kim Ann Curtain, Michael
Dill, Hammad Khan, Robert Mees, Aurelie Penn, Gina Rudan, Scott
Sonnon, and Kent Speakman.
To the many individuals whom I’ve been blessed to help and who’ve
helped me more than you could know, especially Scott Bowen, Drew
Pace, Guy Baruch, Noah Laracy, Robin Kimzey, and Joerg Floeck. I
hope our work together has had as much of an impact on you as it has
on me, and on this book.
To Mike Minasi, Ferrazzi Greenlight’s first client, who’s become a
close friend along the way, proving once again that the best business
relationships are personal.
To the past and present members of the Ferrazzi Greenlight team:
Thanks for your patience, your talent, and for each of your individual
contributions to who I am today. You all are the ultimate Greenlight

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acknowledgments

xvii

Group, providing that safe place to make mistakes and to learn together, as well as being the incubator and proving grounds for everything WGYB proposes. Special thanks to Jim Hannon and J. P. Kelly,
for their sacrifices and contributions that made it possible for me to
spend many hours writing that should have been spent focusing on
FG; to my marketing director Love Streams for creating a dynamite
campaign and tour for this book; to Chris Tuffli for bravely launching
one of the first Greenlight Groups outside of FG; to Russ Brodmerkle
for checking every quote; to Todd Goodrich for transcribing every
interview; and to Fiona Kennedy, for her near-24/7 commitment to
making me and Ferrazzi Greenlight successful.
And finally, to Peter Guber, Greg Seal, Bob Kerrigan, Bill Braunstein, Doug Turk, and Bo Manning—my business lifelines whose
game-changing guidance forms the spine of this book. Special thanks
to Greg, who was willing to pound his fist on the table and be there
for me as long as needed to help make Ferrazzi Greenlight what it is,
and is becoming, and to Bo, my first boss, my mentor, and now my
business partner.
I am eternally grateful for this incredible group who truly get me
and care.

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introduction
A person is a person through other persons.
—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

B

ack in my Singapore hotel room after a day of meetings and a
dinner with my team, jet lag was kicking in. We were a globetrotting group of management consultants from Deloitte & Touche.
The night before, I had slept on the plane from London, but even
those amazing new horizontal seats in first class were no substitute
for a real bed, and I practically dissolved into my mattress. I was just
nodding off when I heard a rustle under my door. Ugh, a fax! Leave it
till the morning, I thought.
But as the company’s chief marketing officer—and newest member of the firm’s executive committee—I wasn’t one to just leave anything. So I dragged myself out of bed, shuffled to the door, and tore
open the envelope.
The fax was not from anybody at Deloitte. It was a job offer. From
the other side of the world, I was being offered the position of CMO
at Starwood Hotels, a relatively new company with its own audacious
global ambitions. It was in so many ways a dream position for me.
Starwood’s goal was to reinvent the stale hotel industry and create
entirely new brands that would be recognized around the world, with
a central global marketing division. For my part, I would be expected
to transform and lead the slumbering (pun intended) hotel marketing world as part of an energetic new team at Starwood.

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who’s got your back

I should have been thrilled—it was a substantial leap forward for
me into the world of consumer marketing, with more upside and responsibility—but instead, I was filled with angst. How could I leave
the Deloitte guys, just when our work was beginning to pay off? I was
the first CMO of the partnership and the first global marketer to have
worked out successfully—mostly because I came from the operations
side of the business and really knew the guts of what we did from
the ground up, but also because I was new enough not to think the
same old way. And I had a team who really wanted me to be a success.
Deloitte was taking a fragmented set of country-specific consulting
partnerships and consolidating them under one brand, much the way
Starwood wanted to consolidate its hotels. It was a complex process
that was yielding a big payoff. I knew it would be hard to replace me
quickly—every able partner was stretched thin—which gave me more
than a little guilt.
But there was a deeper voice causing that angst that I wasn’t listening to, that I wasn’t conscious of until years later: As much as I
believed the Deloitte team needed me, the truth was, I needed them.
Had I known then what I know now, I would have recognized that
sinking feeling I was experiencing as the fast erosion of my support
network like sand under my feet.
Network—that was something I thought I understood pretty well.
After all, the Starwood fax didn’t just blow under my door accidentally. It came as a result of my lifelong commitment to building a
network of real relationships. I got the top marketing job at Deloitte
by nurturing deep relationships with company executives (including
CEO Pat Loconto) while I was still a student at Harvard Business
School. The importance of reaching out to and connecting with
others was a skill I had learned as a working-class kid in western
Pennsylvania, where I caddied for the wealthy folks on the other side
of town. I discovered that not only did they belong to the same country clubs and social circles, but they all did business with one another.
As I got to know many of them, I realized that anybody could join
that “club,” as long as you cared about other people’s success rather

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introduction

3

than just your own. It was a skill that business schools and too many
people overlooked.
In many people’s minds, I became Mr. Relationship, hooking up
one group of people with another.
Given all of my connections, what was the big deal about leaving
Deloitte for greener pastures? I was young, barely thirty, with my
whole professional life ahead of me. Why wasn’t I ecstatic?
Of course, like many people faced with a job change, I knew I
would miss my friends at Deloitte. But my emotions ran deeper than
that. I was the new guy on a team of seasoned leaders charged with
globalizing the company—a tight-knit group led by Pat and his righthand man, Bob Kirk, along with other senior folks at the firm like Greg
Seal, who had first hired me as a brash young summer intern (and
kept me, several times, from getting my butt fired for my audacity).
They all welcomed me as a protégé.
This wasn’t just a team that worked well together; it was a group
that cared about and encouraged each other. They helped me grow
during a formative time of my professional life. And I cared about
them as well, and still do. We all trusted each other; our core values
were almost perfectly aligned (even if our skills differed); there was
nothing we couldn’t do, or say out loud. We raised our voices, traded
opinions, shared ideas over long slow dinners, and took lots of chances
and forgave each other often for our mistakes. I can’t remember a
time when I felt unsafe. We were partners schlepping around the
world—only it didn’t feel like schlepping. Instead, we were totally
infused with excitement, optimism, energy, creativity, and hope. I
would bound out of bed sometimes in the middle of the night to go
into the office while it was still dark because it was such a thrill. These
were more than just my colleagues—they were also my friends.
It wasn’t just that more heads were better than one. With no concern about stepping on toes or hurting someone’s feelings, we were
able to let new ideas ricochet around the room like popcorn. Our
commitment to candor was extraordinary. We debated passionately
and called each other out on our mistakes. We motivated and inspired

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4

who’s got your back

each other, rather than embarrassing or shaming one another. And
we held each other accountable, to make sure we stayed focused on
our goals. We learned and shared an enormous amount in a safe environment that allowed us to take risks and really grow.
There was nothing we couldn’t talk about in our group. So of
course I turned to the guys for advice around what they thought I
should do. Yep, I was willing to ask the CEO of our company if I
should leave and take another job. We had that kind of team.
When we all gathered together in the lounge of our hotel the next
night—one of those British colonial palaces with overstuffed leather
couches that looked like they were straight off the cover of a Ralph
Lauren catalog—I told them about the fax the previous evening. Despite our camaraderie and the warmth of the surroundings, it was
hard to get the words out. I try to remember that moment to this day
whenever an employee of my own consulting firm, Ferrazzi Greenlight, tells me he or she needs to move on to new opportunities. I try
to think of it as a graduation, not a loss—like the time my able colleague Gavin McKay left to pursue his dream of opening a line of his
own innovative fitness studios. He was the first “graduate” of Ferrazzi
Greenlight.
What I needed from the Deloitte team was to tell me it was okay
to graduate.
I certainly knew Pat would be disappointed. But he knew me well.
“Starwood is a place where a great young marketer could really make
a name for himself, Keith,” he said. And the others agreed. A couple
of days later, as our plane landed in New York, I felt someone’s hand
on my shoulder, waking me up. I assumed it was the flight attendant
telling me to put my seat back up. But when I opened my eyes, I saw
Pat resting on the edge of my seat.
“Keith,” he said, “one thing I want you to remember: Don’t ever
look back. This is the right decision no matter what lies ahead. Just
keep looking forward.” At that moment Pat might as well have been
my dad, who had always told me, “Never look back, son. The worst
thing is to look back and ask, ‘What if?’ ”

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5

I never again had the blessing of a boss like Pat, but I know such
bosses are out there. When I meet great leaders like Jamie Dimon of
JPMorgan Chase, Devin Wenig of Reuters, Bob Iger of Disney, Todd
Lachman of Mars, Mark Jordahl of U.S. Bancorp’s wealth management group, or John Pepper, formerly of Procter & Gamble, I think
how lucky their teams are to be working under someone who really
understands what great leadership is all about. But as Pat said, keep
looking forward . . .
So, thanks in large part to the advice of my support group and
teammates at Deloitte, I left them behind.
As I write this I realize I didn’t do much to create that Camelot
moment in my life; it happened around me. Sure, I did the right things
to be open to it, but I never thought it was something that could be
replicated. Over the years, as I became an entrepreneur and ran my
own businesses, those days at Deloitte stuck in my mind as such a
fleeting, serendipitous thing—the luck of the draw. At the time, I
couldn’t really articulate why it was so special, or why it worked; it
just felt exciting and emotionally and intellectually charged. I had been
the poor kid from the sticks who managed to land in one prestigious
school after another—feeling out of place everywhere I went. While I
was excited about the new jobs I took, I longed to have that feeling of
support and connectedness again. The one thing I took away from
my experience at Deloitte was the incredible power of having a team
of people guide me, encourage me, help me to be open and candid,
hold me accountable, and allow me to achieve my full potential. I
realized I wanted to find a way to create that experience again.

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SECTION ONE

who’s got your back
How lifeline relationships can change your life—
as they did mine

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Lose Weight, Get Rich, and
Change The World
Maybe that sounds like the dubious title of some shameless self-help
book, but it’s pretty much the most accurate way to describe the life
of Jean Nidetch. Jean was a plus-sized housewife who enlisted her
friends to help her stay on a diet. What she ultimately accomplished
is remarkable. But how she accomplished it is something every single
one of us needs to understand.
Jean was overweight. She was overweight as a child, she was overweight in high school, and despite endless diet regimens, her waistline kept expanding throughout her twenties and thirties. Eventually,
this five-foot-seven-inch woman weighed 214 pounds, wore a size 44
dress, and fit the medical definition of “obese.” Jean tried diets and
pills that promised to take off pounds, but she always gained back
the weight she lost.
In 1961, at age thirty-eight, Jean started a diet sponsored by the
New York City Department of Health. After ten weeks she was twenty
pounds lighter, but starting to lose motivation. She realized that what
she needed was someone to talk to for some support.
Her inspiration: Since she couldn’t get her pals to make the trek
with her to Manhattan to sign up for the official health department
regimen, she brought the “science” of the program to their living
rooms in Queens. Jean and her friends would all lose weight together.
Out of those first meetings grew Weight Watchers, today widely recognized as one of the most effective weight-loss programs in the world.
Nidetch’s idea was simple: Losing weight requires a combination of

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dieting and peer support. She held weekly meetings with weight
check-ins and goal setting to promote accountability, coupled with
honest, supportive conversation about the struggles, setbacks, and
victories of losing weight.
Eventually, Nidetch, who’d lost seventy-two pounds, rented office
space and started leading groups all across New York City. In 1963
she incorporated. The company went public in 1968 and was sold to
H. J. Heinz in 1978. (In 1999, Weight Watchers was again resold, to a
unit of the company Artal Luxembourg.) As of 2007, Weight Watchers International had retail sales of over $4 billion from licensees and
franchisees, membership fees, exercise programs, cookbooks, portioncontrolled food products, and a magazine. Nidetch retired in 1984,
leaving behind a legacy that has saved the lives of literally millions of
men and women. As the company’s current CEO, Dave Kirchhoff,
notes, “Though the science of weight loss has evolved over the years,
the core of Jean’s program—support and accountability—has remained
a constant.”
What’s so extraordinary about all that? Jean just wanted to get
skinny, but through an inner circle of friends offering expertise,
wisdom, honesty, and support she achieved far more than she ever
imagined possible. Jean discovered what the great leaders and peak
performers throughout history have always known: Exceptional
achievement in work and life is a peer-to-peer collaborative process.
Behind every great leader, at the base of every great tale of success, you will find an indispensable circle of trusted advisors, mentors, and colleagues. These groups come in all forms and sizes and
can be found at every level and in nearly all spheres of both professional and personal life, but what they all have in common is a unique
kind of connection with each other that I’ve come to call lifeline relationships.
These relationships are, quite literally, why some people succeed
far more than others. In Who’s Got Your Back, I want to give you a
practical guide to building an inner circle of lifeline relationships so
you can do for your life what Jean Nidetch did for hers.

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Well Connected and All Alone
Ten years after leaving the executive committee of Deloitte Consulting, I had been, at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, one of the youngest
chief marketing officers in the Fortune 500. In 2003, my first book,
Never Eat Alone, promoting the power of genuine relationships and
generosity in our lives at work, had become a national bestseller. And
from everything I heard back from readers and clients, the book was
helping people change their lives for the better. I felt as if I was beginning to find my real purpose in life—helping others improve their
careers and their companies. It felt so much more meaningful than
putting “butts in beds,” as I would joke, as the chief marketing officer
at Starwood. Shortly afterward I had fulfilled a lifelong dream by
starting my own consulting and training company, Ferrazzi Greenlight—or FG, as we called it. To the outside world, I seemed to have it
all—success, money, recognition, well-paid speaking engagements, a
stack of appreciative fan mail, and a professional and social network
the size of a midsized metropolitan phone book.
On the surface, life was great. But beneath, everything wasn’t as it
seemed. The fact is, in terms of where I wanted the company to be,
my business was disappointing me. I was feeling overwhelmed and
isolated. It felt as if I was at a pool party, surrounded by friends and
acquaintances, but instead of mingling and passing drinks, I was alone
in the deep end of the pool, struggling just to keep my head above
water . . . and no one seemed to notice.
I realized that I was behaving like a mediocre manager. Too much
of our client work required me to execute it personally. Although I’d
hired a handful of skilled executives to help me build FG, I hadn’t
prioritized the time to coach them to do what I do, or to figure out a
business that didn’t involve me doing most of the legwork. When my
colleagues tried to intervene and take the burden off my back, too
often I was disappointed with the results. My solution: I put my head
down and tried to bulldoze through my problems, taking on even

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more, which caused me to neglect even more of the day-to-day management of the company and spend even less time coaching my team.
I was on the road constantly, an absentee CEO. Our work was more
than just a job to me; it was a mission I believed passionately in. I
believed in it so much that I couldn’t let go when I should have. So I
was racing around the country like a crazy guy. And yet FG was turning down business because I couldn’t do it all by myself.
It was an old behavior that I knew in my gut was tripping me up,
yet I couldn’t see a pathway beyond it. It was a downward spiral.
People would tell me constantly that my energy level was contagious. But the fact is, drive and ambition can take you only so far. I was
too busy getting on planes, meeting new or prospective clients, giving
speeches, and grasping at every shiny new idea that came along, hoping the next one would somehow eclipse or fix all our problems.
How did it look to people around me—those people at the pool
party, smiling and sipping their drinks while I was desperately treading water in the deep end? Got me—I never bothered to ask them. I
never talked about my problems or shouted out for help. The people I
needed were within arm’s reach the whole time—but I couldn’t see it.
Most of my team just tried to do the best they could with a CEO
who was missing in action. But the irony wasn’t lost on them: Keith
Ferrazzi, the guy nicknamed “Mr. Relationship” by the media because
of the success of Never Eat Alone and the size of my network, was failing at managing the relationships in his own company.
So often we know something in our lives isn’t working, but we
ignore what our gut is telling us and keep on doing it anyway. I only
wish I’d had the courage to tell the people around me, “Guys, I need
help. I’m drowning here.”

Know Who You Are and
Where You Belong
At their essence, my problems weren’t just business problems. For so
many of the daily and strategic issues that a company faces, I relied
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on the world-class network I had put together, using the insights and
guidelines I described in Never Eat Alone. I could turn to any number
of clients, lawyers, bankers, vendors, or board members in my network for specific advice. But the help they could give me was relegated to a call here or a coffee there—dribs and drabs. I didn’t have
anyone in my life whom I could turn to at any time for a completely
candid, no-holds-barred discussion of what was really going on in
my life and my business. I hadn’t established the kind of close, deep
relationships with a few key people who would do whatever it took to
make sure I never failed, and for whom I would do the same. The kind
of relationship I’d had with my team at Deloitte.
On one level, I had lost touch with a sense of my strengths and
weaknesses. When that happens, we lose the power to manage our
shortcomings, and the result is self-defeating behaviors. Overcoming
them is about, ultimately, knowing thyself.
Look at it this way: Success is the ability to create the results in life
we truly seek and not, say, just the amount of money you make. People who have a clear picture of what makes them tick, who know
their true inner motivations and priorities, simply don’t get in their
own way. They can focus with energetic intention on their goals. It’s
what allows ordinary people to live extraordinary lives.
Acquiring that knowledge is a journey with no single destination—and yet somehow we all still get lost at times. When we do, we
need the external perspective of a lifeline—an eye-opening kick in
the butt.
For me that kick came from a friend of mine, Peter Guber, the
film producer and former head of Sony Pictures. In the course of one
incredible day, my life began to change.
I’d dropped by Peter’s home to offer some advice on a book he was
thinking about writing. In his living room, surrounded by memorabilia from Peter’s movies—the actual Batman suit from Batman, and
the gleaming awards he’d brought home for producing such hits as
Midnight Express and Rain Man—I was rattling away, giving him
feedback on the book idea, when all of a sudden Peter sat back in the
sofa and started to shake his head softly.
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“Keith,” he said, “I think you need to consider being a little more
elegant.”
I was dumbfounded. Elegant? Was my advice too direct? That was
impossible with Peter. Elegant? Few words in the English language
were more loaded for me. I instantly flashed back to the fancy private
grade school that I’d attended as a kid on scholarship. My workingclass parents in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, couldn’t afford the school uniforms, so we had to buy them as hand-me-downs from the “nearly
new” shop. I hated going into that store and would hide in the racks
for fear I’d be discovered by a classmate—which of course I eventually was. “Hey, Ferrazzi,” the kids would say, “whose name is written
in your jacket today?” From my clothes to my “Pittsburgh-ese,” I was
made painfully aware at an early age just how inelegant I was.
Peter noticed the expression on my face and shook his head affectionately. His smile reminded me we were friends and this was a man
who cared about me, not some high school classmate out to give me a
hard time.
“Keith . . . that look on your face. I’m not talking about your clothes
or your poise,” he went on. “I’m talking about elegance of purpose
and activity. Keith, elegance is the art of exerting the minimum amount
of effort for the maximum effect, the maximum amount of power
and achievement in our life. You work so hard, Keith. There’s nothing
wrong with that, but I see you scramble constantly. I get e-mails from
you at all hours. You’re among the smartest people I know, but you’re
working so frenetically. With all that effort, and given your talents,
you should be a lot further than you are now.”
He paused, looked me in the eye, and leaned his head in.
“Keith, let’s walk through this together. Do you know where you’re
going and how your business is going to help you get there? Because
it’s not clear to me. Can you say that your almost superhuman efforts
are aligned and focused on whatever that place is?” Noticing my astonished expression, he added, “Keith—am I the first person ever to
say this to you?”
I knew that Peter’s insight and wisdom were dead on. But no one

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had ever put it to me so directly. I also knew that Peter’s candor, while
tough to swallow, was as strong a sign as any that he was invested in
my welfare. It was as if he’d seen me flailing around in that pool and
taken the time to toss out a rope.
For some reason, I felt completely safe and respected, hearing
what Peter had to say—I wasn’t embarrassed or defensive, even with
Batman staring me down from the corner. I was grateful, touched,
and relieved. I’d spent most of my life trying to be so much for so
many other people—I wasn’t good at admitting my weaknesses. Yet
sitting here, alone with Peter, it was all so easy. He wasn’t implying I
was weak. Just human. That I had strengths I wasn’t utilizing and
behaviors I had to address.

Eureka!
Peter made me realize that I needed help. I needed more support of
the kind Peter was offering. There was no way I could get to where I
knew I wanted to be and develop my full potential in my business
without it. I didn’t have to be afraid to let my guard down, because
there were already plenty of people around me who saw me for what
I was and still respected and cared for me.
The truth is, I had plenty of relationships in my life. But I had few
close, intimate relationships with people I could really open up to,
share my fears and failures and goals and dreams with, and ask for
help. I had started to think that because I was the boss and people
looked to me as an expert, I was supposed to be the one with all the
answers. But I didn’t always have them. The really powerful relationships I did have—my family, some intimate friends I’ve had for
years—couldn’t deliver the kind of insight and feedback on my career
and life that I most needed to hear. I needed people I trusted who
understood my professional goals. I had those people in my life, too!
I’d just never asked for their help. I was too afraid I would come across
as weak or flawed; I was frankly embarrassed by some of my behaviors.

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Why risk undermining other people’s perceptions of me by admitting
my weaknesses? But inside I knew I was fooling myself if I thought
they didn’t already see it for themselves.
Then it hit me. While I’d been anxiously trying to design a new
road map to achieve my personal best, both I and my crack team of
researchers and consultants at FG were already hard at work exploring ways to sustain behavioral change for all manner of companies.
The answer that we had alighted upon was the power of peer-to-peer
support, much like the support Peter Guber had offered me. It was a
new and fascinating area of practice for FG, born out my own interest
in the use of peer support in highly successful self-help programs
like Weight Watchers (which helped my sister Karen) and Alcoholics
Anonymous, a rich set of new psychological studies, and firsthand
experience from people like Morrie Shechtman, a deeply insightful
and wonderfully candid consultant, speaker, and author, and Dr.
Mark Goulston, a hostage negotiator and the noted author of Get Out
of Your Own Way. (In fact, both Morrie and Mark ultimately joined
our research institute at FG.)
What if, we hypothesized, we could adapt the don’t-do-it-alone
advice that is the bedrock of twelve-step programs, Weight Watchers,
and faith-based support groups and apply it in the corporate environment? Leverage the same basic methodologies found in the most
successful behavioral change programs in the world to keep organizations and employees focused on positive change and targeted goals?
Empower people with the tools to help each other identify and resolve
issues that held them back personally and professionally?
Eureka! It was a triumphant moment.
FG had started facilitating peer-to-peer environments within
structured groups like sales forces and executive teams. The returns
were measurable and almost immediate, not least in the renewed
excitement of their people and the companywide commitment to
develop new skills and improved behaviors. For our clients, these
improvements were typically reflected in increased revenues within
a couple of quarters. We were seeding companies with new tools

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and techniques, allowing their people to establish lifeline relationships with each other.
Peter Guber had helped me to see how alone I had made myself
in trying to solve my problems as a manager and leader. And the
work we were doing at FG had evolved into the blueprint to overcome it—to allow individuals to use the power of peer-to-peer support from a few close, trusted advisors—to do more, faster, and with
more fun, and to become more successful at what they did as a result.
I could see that my personal and professional lives had never been
more aligned.
I hoped to get more of Peter’s input and time. But I realized I
also needed support and advice from more people like Peter, trusted
people with whom I could establish lifeline relationships. I needed
a few key people in my life who had my back, whom I could talk to
about anything and who would encourage and support me, give me
feedback and perspective, tell me the truth even when it was a truth
I might not want to hear. People who would hold me accountable
every step of the way. I had served in that role for others over the
years; now I had to start letting others be that for me. I had to let
others in more deeply.

Why Do We Need Lifelines?
Each one of us is a salesperson, leader, and entrepreneur, seeking
answers. All of us work hard at our jobs and careers—and I include
stay-at-home parents in this category. We’re all entrepreneurs of our
own ideas, whether we own our own companies or work for someone
else. We’re all leaders in our own lives—with our colleagues, with our
employees, with our kids, and in our communities. Each one of us is
a salesperson of ourselves and our opinions, if not of business products and services. And most of us come up against personal and professional problems that are just too big to solve alone. If we want to be
as successful as we know we can be, we need the help of others.

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So whether you’re running a country, a business, or a household,
you can’t know everything you need to know to be successful—no
one can. We need the advice and feedback of people we trust. It’s why
mothers instinctively reach out to other mothers for advice on schools
and doctors. It’s why parents talk to other parents about schools, curriculums, student activities, social events, dating, teenagers, and the
like. It’s why the most successful teams surpass each team member’s
wildest individual dreams. It’s the reason presidents create “kitchen
cabinets.” Reaching out to and connecting with others doesn’t show
up on the syllabus of most business schools. But one day it will.
Here are eight things that are clear as day to me:
1. Life coaching, with its hazy self-helpish title, comes in for more
than its fair share of ribbing in the media and elsewhere. But look
past the snarky skepticism and you’ll find a nearly $3 billion market of executive, life, and career coaches. And it’s growing at a clip
of 25 percent a year! A massive industry has emerged suddenly
to fill a relationship vacuum. As a society, we’re crying out for
more community, more help, more advice and support. As individuals, we’re looking for lifeline relationships anywhere we can
get them, even if we have to buy them. This is an issue that’s not
going away.
2. Most organizations remain entrenched in the status quo. And the
status quo is often a hierarchical structure where communication
is downward, linear, and one-way, from management on down.
But real, candid communication—communication that spawns
open, honest relationships—is nearly impossible if based on such
one-way communication.
Top-down directives might have been fine when employees
were factory cogs and work was all about efficiency. But most of us
no longer do cog-like work. In the information age, success is less
about efficiency than effectiveness—that is, the ability to get the
right things done, rather than just the ability to do things right.
Those who have a few close, deep relationships are able to

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get the feedback, perspective, and input that are the lifeblood of
effective decision makers. The better you become at building such
relationships, the better you’ll be at what you do, and the more
value you’ll bring to the table, whether you work inside or outside
an organization.
3. A seismic shift is now under way as passionate individuals, empowered by technology, come together to form ad hoc “tribes”
capable of tackling all manner of projects. The Internet has provided the tools for sharing and cooperating on a global scale.
Everywhere you look, you can see people coming together
around shared interests to work together, to make change, to take
action. The potential to transform the workplace, society, and the
economy is revolutionary. And those who’ll play the biggest part
will be the ones with the skills and behaviors that I talk about in
this book.
4. The Internet is an important tool, but it’s not the answer. There’s
an explosion of new sites available to help connect people. Ning,
Meetup, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook . . . the list is endless. There
are now countless ways to coordinate and connect us, but “connections” are not lifelines. Online, we have more “friends” than
ever, but we’re still damn lonely. In 1985, the average American
had three people in whom to confide matters that were important
to him, according to a 2006 study in the American Sociological
Review. That number has now dropped to two. More than 25 percent of Americans admit they have no confidants at all.
5. Considering the vacuum of skilled, effective frontline management in companies today, executives, managers, and employees
who are proactive in finding a team of advisors to help give them
feedback and coaching, accountability, and support are the ones
who will flourish in today’s challenging environment. They’ll also
save their companies a lot of time and money by being more
knowledgeable, perceptive, productive, and innovative. Lifelines
are prepared to take risks and speak openly with each other, fueling the creative interchange from which new ideas spring.

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6. Most people want more out of work these days than just a paycheck. Heck, most of us want more out of life. Like no other time
in history, people are taking the search for meaning in their work
more seriously.
There is no easier or more effective way to gain that meaning
in our jobs, and find work enjoyable again, than creating lifeline
relationships. In his book Vital Friends, author Tom Rath cites research from the Gallup Organization that attests to the fact that
people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely
to be engaged in their jobs. Yep—that’s seven times. Not only are
these people more joyful and more apt to innovate, take risks, collaborate, and share bold new ideas, but their customers are more
engaged as well. In fact, if you have close friends at work whom
you respect, your employee satisfaction level increases by 50 percent (you’re happier with your benefits as well as your paycheck).
And that happens to be good for your employer, too. A study
of fifty-five high-performing global business teams at fifteen global
firms conducted for a 2007 Harvard Business Review article, “Eight
Ways to Build Collaborative Teams,” found that deep social bonds
were the major predictor of team success. The other two? Formal
initiatives to strengthen relationships, and leaders who invest the
time to build strong relationships with their teams.
But companies spend little effort to promote these kinds of
friendships and relationships as of yet. Every one of those companies, though, is a tribe waiting to happen, a group of people
hungry to be transformed by a few lifeline relationships.
7. For business, an initiative is not common sense unless it makes
dollars and cents. There are a handful of forward-thinking companies that formally encourage employees to establish lifeline relationships, as I’ll discuss later on. For the rest, their inattention
has a price: According to a 2004 study by Deloitte Research (a
group I actually kicked off when I was working there), the annual
cost of worker disenchantment in the United States is a stunning
$350 billion, and approaches half a trillion dollars globally. Amer-

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ican companies invest $50 billion annually in leadership training.
A report published by the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton
(now Booz & Company) pointedly summarizes the situation:
Senior executives in every industry and every region lament their
organizations’ inability to execute. As firms grow in scale and scope
in a global environment of increasingly rigorous stakeholder demands, the cost of complexity necessarily rises and the capacity
to align and adapt invariably diminishes.
In other words, as far as leadership training is concerned, the
loss outstrips the investment seven to one. Which confirms my
opinion that most leadership training completely misses its target.
According to Tom Rath’s Vital Friends, only 18 percent of people
work for organizations that provide opportunities for social bonding in the workplace. In fact, many companies actually forbid the
practice. That’s why we designed a set of formalized rules to show
how this can be done.
A few companies have created outright rules against employee
“fraternizing.” But more firms unwittingly discourage teamwork
and mutual support through misguided policies. But companies
and individuals who reject mutual support are going against the
grain of research—and pure common sense.
8. And finally, mama knows best! As I and my staff got deeper and
deeper in our research on peer-to-peer support groups, we suddenly started to see their imprint everywhere. From FDR’s and
JFK’s kitchen cabinets to church basement support groups to
the larger-than-life examples of successful bosses and their highperforming teams on the covers of national magazines, we saw
groups helping to provide support and advice to improve the lives
of others, every day.
I remembered my mother’s card club back in Latrobe. It was
originally made up of eight women meeting regularly every month;
for the past forty-three years they have shared their dreams for
their families, their joys and struggles in their marriages, their
frustration in making ends meet. When I called Mom to ask her

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about her group, she told me they were just talking about how
angry they were over the growing size of the empty space at the
center of a roll of toilet paper—not exactly what I was expecting!
Of course, they did much more for each other than commiserate over the price of paper goods. The ladies helped each other
through cancer, heart disease, and the deaths of two members,
“Aunt” Rita and “Aunt” Ruth, giving and receiving love and support from each other around the card table. I can’t tell you how
glad I am Mom has had such a group over the years, especially
since my father passed away.

Building My Own Inner Circle
Soon after Peter had applied his kick to my behind, I was eager to get
feedback on how to turn my business, and my life, around. I decided
to call Greg Seal, my old boss from Deloitte. For some reason, it just
seemed fitting to reach out to Greg first. Though Greg’s nickname at
Deloitte had been “the Hammer,” I felt safe reaching out to him and
asking for help. Greg understood my general business, cared about
me, and would be as happy to hear my voice as I was to hear his.
Greg lived a short flight away in San Francisco and was about to
retire from Deloitte. I spent only a few years with Greg as my actual
boss. But throughout my time at Deloitte, he was one of my strongest
mentors. I also knew from experience that he would never candycoat anything.
When Greg answered, I blurted out, “Greg, I need your help.” I
was so nervous—after all, I didn’t want to lose Greg’s respect, admitting to the ways I felt I was falling short in my life. But I was even
more afraid that if I didn’t get right to the point, I’d lose my nerve.
“You know I’ve been building FG into what I hope will be a worldclass consulting and training firm—basically the same thing you
helped build and lead at Deloitte, but on a much smaller scale. And
honestly, it’s been such a struggle, Greg. I’ve come to realize I’m not

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acting like a good manager. I’m not sure I’m even being a good leader.
How can I be so good at helping advise others and be so bad at helping myself?”
We talked for maybe ten minutes, then Greg said what I expected
him to say: “Keith, it sounds like we need to have a long slow dinner
and a bottle of red wine.”
I couldn’t help but smile, as that was Greg’s solution for every
important life decision that needed to be hashed out. He had taught
me that everything, even business, always boils down to people and
relationships, and those took time.
So Greg and I set a date.
That wasn’t so bad, I thought when I hung up. I’d just told one of
the people I respected most, an early mentor I admired more than
just about anyone in the world and whose respect meant the world to
me, that I felt I was failing as an entrepreneur. Was it difficult for me
to admit this to Greg? You bet. But I also felt in my gut that Greg, as
always, would have my back.
Not long after that, I found myself at a dinner party talking with
a man named Bob Kerrigan. During dinner, Bob mentioned that he’d
read my book, and he began asking some fairly penetrating questions
about me, my philosophy, and even my business—questions that might
have come across as intrusive to some. But because of all that I was
going through, I welcomed them. Bob had the same ability as Peter
did to make a person feel completely at ease in about three seconds—
or maybe I was finally ready to hear what other people were saying.
I was impressed by Bob’s directness—I hate small talk. Usually
I’m the one driving such conversations, but this time I was the person
in the passenger seat. It came as a relief, actually.
At one point, Bob even asked me about money—something he
had plenty of (Bob has run a major financial services business for
three decades). Me, I’d always made good money—I couldn’t recall a
year when I hadn’t brought home plenty by anyone’s standards—but
I’d always felt scared that the bottom would fall out someday and I’d
be left without a safety net. Still, by burying my head in the sand,

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I’d frittered away a lot of money over the years. I used to say that
as long as the card went in and money came out, I was happy. I may
have liked to think of myself as a disciplined guy, but clearly I wasn’t
grasping the whole truth.
Our company finances were also a bit of a mess because I spent so
little time attending to them. My accounting department back then
consisted of one very bright but inexperienced guy whom I’d hired
right out of college to be a combination personal assistant and office
manager. We probably lost $100,000 in uncollected expenses alone
our first year out thanks to my sloppy financial management! (Money
issues, as I found out later, rarely “just” have to do with finances. In
the end, money is all about self-worth and self-respect.)
Bob certainly knew that this kind of behavior was a sign of something much deeper—and he gently began tugging at that thread. “How
frequently do you look at your books, Keith?”
“I have someone in-house, my assistant, but that’s not working
out so well,” I replied casually.
“Are you aware of your accounts receivable days outstanding?
What is the total number? Are you on target to meet your plan? How
closely do you watch your cash flow?”
This was dinner conversation? I literally laughed out loud.
So many questions, so few answers. But for some reason, I didn’t
feel judged. Was I embarrassed? Sure, but I didn’t feel that Bob thought
badly of me—he just wanted to help. Along with Peter and Greg, Bob
was lowering a rope so I could grab on to it.
“Bob,” I said finally, “I cannot tell you how exciting this is to me.
Thank you. I needed this. And I would love to talk more. Can we get
together for lunch next weekend?”
“How about a nice long dinner this week?” Uncanny—he sounded
exactly like Greg.
Bob and I met up as planned later that week and continued to
meet at least once a month thereafter. Each time we met, he gave me
homework, which I would take back to the office to discuss with my
finance guys. Bob encouraged me to bring a full-time controller on

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board, which I did. As a result of our conversations, I buttoned up the
ship that was FG. But naturally, our talks weren’t all about me. Each
time we met, we discussed Bob’s life, his own dreams and challenges.
I gave him homework, too, as well as ideas and perspective.
With Peter (at first a casual friend), Bob (a serendipitous encounter), and Greg (a former boss and mentor), I now had three incredible
lifeline relationships to guide me, encourage me, help me to be open
and candid—three people who had offered to be generous with their
time, hold me accountable, and help me to achieve my full potential.
I had my own protective tribe keeping an eye on me—and me an eye
on them.
We all tend to believe that such moments and those people come
into our lives by chance, and rarely. But I assure you, they don’t have
to be either haphazard or rare. As I’ve discovered, we can proactively
create these transformative relationships and the positive life changes
they lead to in our everyday lives and in the workplace. This kind of
support can be yours tomorrow.

So what happened in my life as a result of this support?
For starters, I tripled my company’s earnings in one year. We
quickly expanded this practice to our team at FG—from the entrylevel associate all the way to the sales force and my senior team. I
began to open myself up to my colleagues, tentatively at first, and
then more boldly. Not only did I learn to delegate better and more
often, but I brought in new senior management that allows my company to have entire businesses that run without my involvement at
all. I’m working less and earning more.
In response to the measurable results we were experiencing in our
corporate work and within FG, we formed the Greenlight Research
Institute, a think tank devoted to studying how better relationships in
the workplace and among customers can lead to more sales, customer
evangelism, higher employee engagement scores, lower turnover of
key resources, measurable increases in productivity, and noticeable

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innovation through more healthy risk taking—not to mention a more
caring and connected leadership that has paved the way to a better
work environment for everyone.
And the wins haven’t stopped for us, or for our clients and their
people. The support of a close circle of friends and peers continues to
define, enrich, and encourage my professional trajectory. I feel happier and more fulfilled. I no longer panic or get angry over important
decisions gone south. I’ve regained control of my life, both personally
and professionally. I now go through my life with the help, support,
and advice of a close group of advisors I trust, respect, and admire
who are just a phone call or an office visit away.
Not surprisingly, my relationships with my staff have improved
250 percent. (I don’t know why I pulled that figure from the air; let
me just say at last we’re the team I’d always hoped for.) Of course, this
new environment doesn’t mean that conflicts and mishaps don’t happen. They do. The difference is that now when they come to light they
are remedied quickly, candidly, and as a team.
Today my office—we recently moved to a much bigger building,
with plenty of room for growth—is a retreat for me, rather than being
a source of concern.
Ferrazzi Greenlight is on its way to surpassing all my dreams.

Four Ways Lifeline Relationships Will Help You
There’s a good chance that you’ve already experienced the power and
potential of lifeline relationships at some point in your life. Imagine
some of the attributes of the best bosses you’ve ever had—the kind of
boss who encourages you, who gives you space to grow, who appreciates your efforts, who doesn’t micromanage but guides your development with wisdom, and who handles your slip-ups with firmness,
understanding, and candor. Or think back to that good friend or
family member who dropped everything to be there for you at a critical juncture in your life and didn’t let you fail. Picture that associate

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you had at work who took a risk for you, and whose influence still
touches you today.
If you’ve ever had an important person or group of people in your
life who’ve shepherded you in the right direction—even if you’ve had
just a taste of it—you know what I mean. And you can have more of
that in your life—right now!
How will these relationships benefit you? Here are four ways I
believe lifeline relationships are critical:
1. To help us identify what success truly means for us, including our
long-term career plans.
2. To help us figure out the most robust plan possible to get there,
through short-term goals and strategies that would tie us into
knots if we tried to go it alone.
3. To help us identify what we need to stop doing to move forward in
our lives. I’m referring to the things we all do that hold us back
from achieving the success we deserve.
4. To have people around us committed to ensuring that we sustain
change so that we can transform our lives from good to great.

Mentors and Lifelines
Although I believe mentors are essential to all successful individuals,
there is an important distinction between mentors and lifeline relationships. The mentored relationship is one, in essence, between
master and apprentice. The mentor generously shares knowledge,
contacts, and the full wisdom of his experience with an eager and
deserving student. It’s certainly not a one-way relationship—there
are many ways that the student gives back—but the balance of authority is heavily weighted toward the mentor.
A lifeline relationship is one between equals, between peers,
between individuals who can be intellectual sparring partners and
confidants.

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Of course, no relationship is static. Remember me and Greg. Over
time, as you grow personally and professionally, the best of your mentors may often become lifelines.

Now Let’s Get Started
Are you at the top of your game? Are you looking for additional advantage? Do you feel stuck or out of balance? Have you ever had the
suspicion you were put on earth to accomplish something unique but
you’re not sure what that is or how to get there? Despite your accomplishments, do you sometimes find yourself stepping on your own
shoelaces or getting in your own way? Are you ready to break through
your own self-imposed glass ceiling? Do you feel alone in your pursuits? Are your relationships as rich as they could be? Would a little
more discipline help you? Wouldn’t it be terrific to have people who
have your back and who’ll be there for you, in your career and in your
personal life? Are you ready to move beyond mediocrity to ultimate
success?
In this book, you’ll meet countless people who’ve found success
thanks to the help and input of a close circle or group of advisors. The
evidence of the power of such lifeline relationships is overwhelming.
From small-town employees to businesspeople to entrepreneurs to
individuals, millions of people around the globe have gotten help
reaching their goals and overcoming their challenges through the
power of others.
Let’s get something straight: The concept of reaching out to others
for support isn’t about changing who you are. It’s about enlisting the
help and advice of others to help you become who you can be. This
kind of peer-to-peer support and feedback is the often unacknowledged key behind the achievements of so many of the high-performing
people I come in contact with every day. I’m convinced it’s the secret
behind each one of us achieving our full potential in our careers, our
businesses, and our personal lives.

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All you need is three people to change your life for the better.
That’s it—just three people. (Oh, and in all likelihood, they’re not the
three people who probably just came to your mind!)
I’ll help you think strategically about the people you should want
in your inner circle. Once you’ve established a safe place with a group
of trusted advisors, you’ll find that you’ll start taking more risks, both
individually and within your group, and in your company.
Here’s another guarantee: that you’ll be so emboldened by the
success you’ll have in the early stages of this process that you’ll want
to do even more. How can I integrate this more fully and formally into
my life, and share it with others? you’ll ask yourself, whether within
your company, your household, your extended family, your church,
or your community. You’ll become, as I have, an ambassador for the
Four Mind-Sets that make up the foundation of such relationships, as
I’ll talk about shortly.
That’s what happened to me. My deepest hope is that I can help
you achieve your dreams in life, too.
So whether you’re a doctor, an executive, a line manager, a selfemployed artist, a full-time mom, or simply someone who wants to
live his or her best life possible, I’ll show you how to create your very
own Dream Team to help you bust through your own personal glass
ceiling and start achieving the success and fulfillment we all were
meant to enjoy.
Let’s all go forward—together.

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Who’s Got Your Back? 
visit one of these online retailers: 
 
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