Strong for Performance Podcast
019: You Don’t Have to Be Ruthless to Win
Have you ever wondered if a business can really be sustainable if you focus exclusively on serving others? That’s exactly how my guest Jonathan Keyser has built his commercial real company. In his new book, You Don’t Have to Be Ruthless to Win: The Art of Badass Selfless Service, Jonathan describes the stages of his own awakening to this approach when working in the cut-throat, back-stabbing commercial real estate industry. Now he’s on a mission to transform that industry as well as other companies open to a way of doing business that’s focused on helping others.
- Why Jonathan credits his own coaches for where he is today
- How to make SERVICE a mindset that drives your thoughts and actions
- The 15 principles that have guided Keyser since Day 1
- How going above and beyond for clients results in long-term sustainable success
- Examples of Keyser team members who display extraordinary acts of kindness and service
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Read the Transcription
Welcome to another episode of the Strong for Performance podcast. I’m your host, Meredith Bell, and I have with me today a very special guest. I am delighted to welcome Jonathan Keyser to the podcast.
Thank you for inviting me. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Well, thank you, Jonathan. One reason I’m so excited to have Jonathan with me today is he has a new book that I have read, studied, and just love called “You Don’t Have to Be Ruthless to Win.” I just not only love that title, but I love the approach that he has built into that process. He is the founder of Keyser, which is a commercial real estate company in Scottsdale, Arizona. It has been an Inc. 5000 company, and I think you’ve had multiple awards, if I’m not mistaken, for being one of the 10 best places to work. That doesn’t happen by accident. There has to be a culture that causes people to enjoy being a part of that organization.
That’s one of the things that I am really looking forward to getting into with Jonathan today because he has had amazing success in not just creating principles, but living by them and getting everyone in his company to buy into and live by those. Jonathan, I have to tell you, I think that’s rare. Don’t you?
I do, unfortunately. In today’s world, I think it is somewhat of an anomaly. Through the Keyser Institute, that’s our goal is to change that.
Yes! That’s the other thing I love about what you’re doing. You’re expanding this outside of your company to the entire commercial real estate industry, and also other industries. We will talk about that a little bit later, but let’s back up a minute. I want to get you to talk a little bit about your journey just briefly. Where did you start and how did you get to the point that you are today?
First of all, thank you for having me on. It’s an honor to be part of this podcast. For all of you listening, I promise I won’t waste your time. My journey to selfless was different from most. I was raised by parents who taught me to love and serve. My parents were Christian missionaries and I grew up when I was a kid overseas in Papua New Guinea. From an early age, they pounded into me this idea that you have to love and serve and help and give. The problem is that we were poor, and I hated being poor, Meredith.
It was a miserable thing as a child to see other kids. When I got back from overseas, I realized in an instant, “Wow. There’s a bunch of kids that have a lot more stuff than I do,” and so I had this sense of being poor. I decided at a young age, “Look, obviously this giving and serving and helping stuff doesn’t work because we’re so poor, so I’m going to go and do what it takes to be successful.” So I got into commercial real estate because a buddy of mine said I could make a lot of money.
As I got in, I realized really quickly, “Wow. This is a cutthroat, ruthless industry,” so I became ruthless because I believed that I wanted success more than I cared about living the way that I was raised. While I had some success, I was miserable, as you can imagine. I was misaligned with my core values and I just felt trapped. I didn’t know that there could be another way. Then 15 years ago, I go to this conference and this guy gets up and he starts talking about service and he starts talking about helping people. He starts talking about how you could create success by helping other people create success.
I was blown away. I went up to him afterwards and I said, “Is that really true? Does that really work or is that just something you say to get up on stages to sound cool?” He said, “No. It’s really what I do and it’s what I work.” I said, “Well, I’m going to do that in Arizona. I’m going to do the same thing. I’m going to learn how to do this and I’m going to go implement a selfless model within commercial real estate in Arizona.” That was about 15 years ago. I came back and reinvented myself, and it was a long, hard road, Meredith, as you read about in the book.
Everybody had thought I went crazy. Here I was, national rookie of the year for Grubb & Ellis, and now I’m out doing what looks like free concierge services to the community, just connecting people, helping them find jobs, helping their kids get opportunities, all kinds of things that looked nothing like commercial real estate. What I was doing was, developing relationships, which over the long run has really served me back. Now today, we’ve formed the largest firm of our kind in the state around these ideals. You talked about in the pre-podcast discussion about our 15 cooperating principles.
Once I figured out and got through the five years of not making a lot of money of figuring this out and I started to have a lot of success doing business this way, I had an epiphany moment in 2012 where I realized, “Wow. This is the opportunity to do more than just help me be successful. If I could teach other people how they could be successful through this idea of selfless service as a business strategy, they could be successful as well. Oh my goodness, maybe I could actually change the world and show that at the end of the day, you don’t have to be ruthless to win.”
That was my epiphany in 2012, and created a company out of 15 cooperating principles. Now, it’s surreal. I’m flying to Baltimore and D.C. to be a guest on morning shows. The whole hitting Wall Street Journal #1 and Amazon in seven categories for my book, “You Don’t Have to Be Ruthless to Win,” but it all comes back to this idea of the more that you help others succeed, the more that you succeed. Now, it is the long game. Right? We’re not looking for instant gratification or get rich quick. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can turn this off now because that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about long-term sustainable success.
What I’ve found is that the more you invest in helping other people, the more that you create success for yourself. That’s the whole point of the book is rather than feeling like you have to go look out for number one, scratch, claw, fight your way to the top, and then once you get there you’re exhausted and tired, but you’re like, “Okay. I made it and now I’m going to go spend my time giving back.” What if you could do both? What if you could integrated life where you spend your time serving and helping others, they in return spend their time trying to help you back, and you have this extraordinary existence where you have financial success, you have amazing relationships, you can sleep at night because you’re not doing the things that your mother taught you not to, etc.?
For me it’s, obviously I get excited about it. It’s a mission that I’m thrilled to be a part of. As I look back, it’s hard for me to believe as a young missionary kid that one day I’d be doing morning shows in D.C. and have a “Wall Street Journal” bestselling book and be on this amazing podcast with you. To me, all of that is a testament to the fact that this isn’t about me. I’m just a guy. This is about this idea that’s bigger than all of us, that you truly can create extraordinary success through service, and if you focus on helping other people succeed over the long run, you will succeed.
I love that, Jonathan. One of the reasons I resonated so strongly with your idea of selfless service is because I believe in my core being of service to others is the way to perform and help the world become a better place.
I know that you didn’t go through this and come to all of this by yourself. You had two coaches who I have admired for a long time, Steve Chandler and Steve Hardison. I know that many of listeners are coaches. I think it would be really valuable for you just to spend a couple minutes talking about how they influenced your thinking and your actions in this journey to forming your company and building what you’re building today.
I talk about them, as you mentioned, a lot in my book. For all of you coaches out there, I’m a huge fan. One of things that I tell people all the time is I wouldn’t be here without the coaches that have helped me in my life. As I write about in the book, the transformative process that working with a really good coach guides you through is extraordinary and I was very blessed to have both Steve Chandler and Steve Hardison, and today I have a lifetime contract with Steve Hardison. The summary that I would say there is my favorite part about having a coach is that they help you see things about yourself from both sides of the coin. From a possibility standpoint that maybe you don’t see because you have this mindset that you were raised with that’s limiting, or from things that you’re doing to get in your own way standpoint.
I’ve been the recipient of both of those. I’m a huge believer in coaches. Now, I think that there are a lot of coaches out there who call themselves coaches without really investing the time to become an extraordinary coach. I was fortunate to have amazing coaches. In my book, I talk a lot about how that impact happened and what they did to really help me, but the truth is I would not be here without them and I rely on my weekly coaching session with my coach to help me stay focused, stay exactly where I need to be, make sure I’m thinking big enough, make sure that I’m not squandering opportunities in front of me, working on my own mindset, making sure that I’m not harboring things inside that are getting the way of success, etc. Yeah, I could talk about that for hours, but I feel like the only reason I’m here is because I’ve been able to stand on the shoulders of giants. For those of you out there who are helping other people in that way, I thank you for it.
One of the things I wanted to tap into where you were talking about one of your sessions with Hardison was he was really pushing you to think about service and the motive behind your focus on service because, initially, you thought you were doing it right. But because of his coaching, you realized that your motives weren’t as pure as you thought they were.
The reality is when I learned about this new technique, I thought of it just like that: a technique, a different way of creating success, and I was focused on the end justifying the means. If I’m going to get there, then I want to do this stuff to get where I want to get to. In the process, what my coach Steve helped me realize is that I was just doing another form of manipulating. I was doing another form of selling, and I wasn’t really serving people. I was keeping track.
It was more like trading, but the other person doesn’t realize you’re trading until they’ve already received, and it’s creepy and it’s gross, and I didn’t realize I was doing that. Once he helped me see that I was, I had this huge epiphany moment where I just went, “Wow. That was ugly. I don’t want to be that guy. I don’t want to be the person doing that. How do I be different?” Having him help me get to a place of pure service has been extraordinary in my life.
That leads me to your very first principle, which is about “we serve.” To me, that’s the core underpinning of everything you do with your company, the selfless service. Talk a little bit about what does that look like, and what do you mean when you say it’s not about me?
Sure. It’s very simple, Meredith. I think a lot of people get caught up in this. There’s this idea that the word service somehow is tied to religion or it’s tied to some sort of submissive state. I don’t view it that way at all. I think that we all know how to love. We all know how to serve. We do it in our family lives. We do it with our kids. We do it in our social circles. Then we get into business and we feel like we need to be different and we feel like we need to go fight, fight, fight and stand up for number one and win, win, win.
In the process, we abandon all those things that really create those extraordinary relationships. If the key to any business, if you’re a coach and you want more clients, the key to getting clients is to have people that can, one, know about you, but two, trust that you’re going to be able to help them and see you as an alternative than the many other opportunities they have, both coaches, courses, whatever.
For me, what I tell people is service is not a technique, it’s not a tactic. What service, is a mindset. It’s an approach. It’s how you do things. Whatever I’m doing, my thought process, I’ve trained myself to have a thought process be, “How can I help this person?” That’s all I spend my time doing. I don’t ask for anything in return. What’s amazing about that mindset is that the more you do it, the more you blow people away and the more people like you and the more that they want to help you back. When you do that everywhere you go, people start talking and they start telling other people.
“Have you heard about that Jonathan Keyser guy?” “No, what’s he in?” “Well, he just helps everybody. If you need anything, just call him. The guy’s crazy enough just to help you.” What it does is it creates this groundswell effect of people telling people about you. Then when you do get a client, then you do the same thing. You try to figure out how you can push more value across the table for whatever they’re paying you in fees, so that they think that you’re the greatest deal in the world and they want to go tell all their friends about you.
It becomes this organic process where each act of service enables a relationship that creates a future potential opportunity both with the individual or any of their circle of influence, and that’s what we’ve done here. We don’t have a sales and marketing function. Here at Keyser, we serve. We help. We give. We go above and beyond, and it comes back in spades. It comes back in introductions from other people and people telling people everywhere I go now. Here’s the funniest part about all this, Meredith, for me is back in the day when I was a ruthless jerk. My book is worth the read.
I’m not saying that because it’s my book, but this book is something like you’ve never read before. I describe in self-scathing detail how I used to be this ruthless jerk, and all of the things I used to do, and I give you kind of that peel back the onion and let you see under the sheets on what it’s like in the commercial real estate brokerage industry, and then I describe how we’ve created a company that’s transforming the industry. All of it, all of this all comes back to your question, which is at the end of the day, the reason why people like us, the reason why people say nice things about us is because all we’re trying to do is help other people.
When I was trying to just be a man after things for myself, people thought I was an arrogant jerk. Guess what? I was. Now, I go around and I just help as many people as possible and everybody treats me like I’m a nice guy. It’s the funniest thing in the world. The counter-intuitive nature of trust creation, I mean that’s really what we’re talking about. What’s the fastest… Steven Covey talks about speed of trust. What’s the fastest way for someone to trust you? For you to go above and beyond and help and serve them.
We’re all kind of afraid to do that because we think we’re going to be taken advantage of. It’s my experience that, sure, are there people that have taken advantage of me? I guess if you want to say that, I suppose that’s true, but I don’t even view it that way because I don’t think the universe can handle an imbalance. Even if my act of service isn’t reciprocated in one place, it comes to me from some random other place, and so I don’t have to worry about the receiving. I just got to worry about the giving.
I think if everybody in a service or sales mindset took, and you don’t have to go be radical and transform yourself as I did and go broke in the process, just in every meeting or conversation or phone call that you’re going to have, just come to it from a “how can I push as much value across the table as possible to this person? How can I really help them? How do I really listen to them? How do I ask questions as coaches?” How do you ask questions that really get to the heart of the matter versus dancing in the surface level, which doesn’t do anything? I think a lot of coaches are content to do that. Mine aren’t. Mine dive super deep.
That is so important because you become memorable just because you ask questions that no one else asks because most people are waiting for their turn to talk and aren’t interested in really going that deep. It’s putting themselves vulnerable, as well as not being sure how to respond to the answers you might get.
There were some stories you told in your book about members of your team that helped illustrate this. One of them had to do with a health situation. The wife of one of the people he was talking to had a serious illness. Would you just share that? Because to me, that’s an idea of something totally unrelated to providing services related to your business that has a huge emotional impact on the other person.
Yes. It can be challenging if you’re working with individuals, there’s a lot of things that are in your purview. You’re helping them across the spectrum, so I can see how the question might be a little bit more nuanced for the coaching world versus my world, where it’s very clear that what I do is I help companies negotiate office leases and I help them roll out medical facilities or retail sites across the country. For me to go in and say, “Hey, let me help you by becoming your broker and negotiating your deal,” that’s not what I’m describing.
The example you describe, which is all of the examples in the book, they’re true, but they’re also illustrative of hundreds of those exact same kinds that we’ve done in different situations, so they’re not like one-off, although they are because each act of service matters, but they’re categories, if you want to say it that way, of different ways that we help people, and that’s what you’re just leading at.
One of the things that we always want to try to do is use our vast resources of contacts to help people when they’re in a time of need. Now, that could be when their spouse has a medical issue. That could be when their kid as a problem. That could be when they have something where they need some legal help. Whatever it is, it’s knowing the people that are in a lot of different categories that can help people can be very useful.
In this situation, the potential client’s wife was dying of a rare blood disease. He was relatively new to town, having been relocated from another state, and he was having trouble getting to the right doctor for her and it was quite serious. We spent the time to figure out who the right doctor would be, figure out how to get access to her, and then made the connection and got her in to see her quickly. That made a difference for her. She’s since passed, but it made a difference in extending her life significantly.
Our friend became a client and couldn’t believe that we would be willing to do something so kind. When people are in a time of need, that’s when they need help the most, and yet that’s when most people run. That’s when most people are saying, “Call me when it’s all rosy and I don’t have to deal with your nonsense and you have a big deal for me,” instead of relationships, people, service. People, in times of need, which for executives is often a time of transition.
You get laid off from a job. What do you do? People call me in Arizona because they know that I’ll help them get connected, or they call my team when you have a family member going through an issue. That can be devastating and completely distract you from what’s going on at the office. Having someone who is in a situation personally. I’ve helped a lot of people with personal challenges, where they come to me because they don’t know who else to talk to, and we have a meeting in a private room and they’re weeping and they’re bearing their soul and they need someone who can really help them.
I know for all you coaches out there, that’s a common thing for all of you. Being able to be present with those people without judgment and the really come from a place of, “How do I serve this person to the maximum?” I think, to me, is the secret to long-term sustainable relationships. While we do an amazing job negotiating real estate deals for our clients, and our clients appreciate us just for that, what really people value is the fact that they know that no matter what it is, we’re going to be there. We’re going to help them, and they can call us with anything. It’s that mindset of service to the people you want to be of service to that really creates those sticky relationships where they don’t want to use another coach, use another commercial real estate broker, etc.
That’s great. Well, there’s so much we could say about service. I want to cover a few of the other principles because all 15 of them are really worth studying, but I was struck with number five because we expect to win every single time and this whole idea of that mindset of being the best. In the context of service being the underlying piece, talk a little bit about why and how you are having that winning attitude, and really maybe tie it into number three of being bold also.
I think it’s very related.
Yeah, you bet. Well, number three is we’re bold and fearless and not afraid of making a mistake. We never punish mistakes. It all ties back to number one as well because from a service standpoint, the reason why we expect to win is because we know that we’re going to serve better than anyone else. We proved that all throughout the process. If they’re really looking for someone who’s going to do the best for them, we’d know that we’re it because we’re the most committed. We’re the ones that are most willing to do the most. We’re not afraid of taking bold action as it relates to how to do that.
We’re transparent. We’re bold. We’re honest, and we try to go so far above and beyond that our competitors would go, “I don’t even want their clients because what those Keyser people do for their clients is crazy above and beyond and I don’t want to have to do all that, so we’ll go find some other clients.” It’s this idea of being so committed to another individual that no matter what your mindset is, I’m going to win because I’m going to do more. I’m going to bring more value. I’m going to push more opportunities your way. At the end of the day, I’m going to be more committed.
Thinking about bringing people on your team that have that kind of a mindset, what do you look for in the characteristics when they come to you? Because I know you’re very committed also to development. That’s another principle. But what is it that is most important to you when you’re interviewing something around this having a winning attitude and being committed to being the best?
Coachability is huge for us. Willingness to not be right all the time. If there’s one thing I know it’s that the older I get, the more I realize how little I know. I think from a mindset standpoint, the humility involved in not having all the answers is a big one we look for. We also look for someone who really resonates with the service message. You can tell. You could see it in their eyes and you can listen to their speech and listen to their writing. Unlike traditional commercial real estate firms that are looking for the alpha males that are just out to dominate, dominate, what we’re looking for is people that really care about serving other people, that really want to do good in the world, and that bring a skillset and competence level to perform at the highest levels. It’s a high bar.
Think of it like a Navy SEAL. We’re not for everybody. We’re looking for the best and the brightest, and the few that are willing to commit their life to service and do something extraordinary. What’s been most amazing is by creating a culture that’s so distinctly clear around what we stand for and what we don’t, that that’s what we tend to attract because those individuals then go, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been looking for that my entire life. I can’t believe I just found you. Let’s roll,” kind of thing versus trying to compete over compensation or time off or things like that. People join Keyser because of the alignment around the mission and of the culture we’ve created internally with everybody working together as a team for the benefit of all. That is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and it’s part of why I love what I do.
Well, that reminds me. I didn’t mention this at the beginning, but one of the things I really enjoyed about the structure of your book is for each principle, you talk about how it applies at the individual level within the company to contribute to an overall healthy culture. Then also how it applies when you interact with clients and customers. I think that’s a fabulous structure because sometimes when you focus on one aspect of it, it’s hard to think about, “Well, how would this apply over here?”
We call it the inside out revolution, the three levels of reinvention. You got to start with yourself. You’ve got to be the change you want to see in the world, as Gandhi said. You got to start here, and that’s where the personal development comes in, principle 10. Right?
Then when you go into your company culture, you have to create that same culture within your organization, and so we teach you how to do that in my book. Then the third is how do you actually do this in the community? One of my good friends, John Mackey, who… This is his book right here. He rights in Conscious Capitalism about how there’s these stakeholders that are beyond just your shareholders that are all the people you do business with, your community partners, your vendors, etc., and making sure that you’re treating them with the same level of service. It’s my opinion that it takes that three-part, inside yourself, company culture, and community collaborators to really affect significant, meaningful change and to create long-term sustainable success because you can’t be fake. You can’t be one thing one place and another thing another place, and I am far from perfect. Nobody in my organization is, but what we are is extraordinarily committed to this ideology. That’s what matters to us.
That’s great. Well, having a software company as I have over the last 25 years, and one of our tools being for 360 degree feedback. Of course, I was really intrigued with number 12, being coachable, because a lot of that has to do with how open are you to getting feedback and when you behave in a way that isn’t consistent with what we’re looking for. I’m also curious to know because so many companies haven’t created a feedback culture that when they do something like a 360, it’s like, “What am I going to hear? What am I going to see?” What it sounded like you have going on a day-to-day basis is this openness of giving honest feedback to someone, and also having it received graciously. Is that accurate?
Yes, very much so. It starts with you as the leader. A lot of coaches aren’t open for feedback themselves. A lot of CEOs aren’t open for feedback. The way that I look at principle 12 is it’s me. If I’m not living it, if I’m not being 100% coachable, no one else is going to be. With all of these principles, I mean, one of the cool things about my book is that I took everything I’ve learned on how you could create a selfless organization and put it into this book. As part of that, my trials and errors, so you don’t have to go through those, as well as how we actually implemented it.
When I did a rough draft of this book before it was completed, the biggest feedback that I got from people that reviewed it was there’s not enough how-to in it. As we worked to make it better and improve it before we published it, we’ve tried to pack it full with, “Here’s exactly how you can do it. Here’s some tips and tools and resources and other books. Here’s lots of case studies and examples,” because the idea is there’s a lot of companies with principles that do nothing about it. We want our vision. My mission is I want to create a Fortune 100 company that completely transforms commercial real estate brokerage and business as we know it through this idea of success through service.
I personally believe that selfless service is the greatest business principle of all time. My goal is to show people that, look, at the end of the day, sure, like my book title, you don’t have to be ruthless to win. So how do you actually do that? That sounds almost cliché. “I get it, Jonathan. That sounds nice. How do I actually do that?” That’s why this book was created. Whether you actually engage with us on the Keyser Institute side or we ever interface again, I wanted you the reader, you the listener to have everything in your power for how specifically we’ve created this distinct culture of selflessness within an industry and within an organization or a group of organizations that tend to be the exact opposite.
How have we done it? Well, we’ve done it around 15 cooperating principles. For each, we teach you exactly how to do it for yourself, with the company culture, and for the collaborators. At the end of the day, they all work together to create this extraordinary culture that we call Keyser. Our vision in the future is for Keyser to be the most trusted brand in the world and people to know that in any interaction with a Keyser individual, somebody will be there trying to help you as much as they possibly that. That, for us, is the joy of it all.
As we’re working on all that, all these other things happen that create success for us is people want to help us back, but we’re not doing it for that reciprocation. We’re doing it because we love to serve. Then the benefits of it are we get great relationships. We make a lot of money, etc. It’s that idea of tying success to service, of give you shall receive. Rather than ruthlessly fighting for number one, as I used to do, spending your life focused on helping other people and then reaping the rewards of that over time.
You know, some of the folks that are our listeners love being of service to their clients. The idea of selling, promoting themselves is rather challenging for them. One of the things that I thought was so great about your book is it relieves that pressure of perceiving yourself in this role as a salesperson when you’re thinking of being of service.
It’s a short and simple answer. If you have a prospective client, the best way to get them as a client is to just start serving them already. Just help them and they’ll be like, “Man, I can’t live without you. I want more of you.” Versus trying to sell yourself and how great you’ve been, and then once they finally pay you, then you’ll agree to start serving them. It’s ass backwards. It’s like, serve first. Give first. If you really are as good as you say you are, they’re going to want more.
That’s great. Well, tell us a little bit more as we’re wrapping up here about your new institute. Who would be an ideal person to work with you and get to know more about that?
Sure. The Keyser Institute is designed to train, empower, and ultimately certify the next generation of selfless leader. It’s designed to create. Think of it like a black belt in Six Sigma or even like an MBA or something like that where you get a certification for being a selfless leader. It’s hard to get, easy to lose, extreme accountability, but the idea is that we’ll have progressive course work along the way, so kind of the toe-in-the-water signup and go read the book and you’re like, “I want more.”
We will have an online series. Then we will have workshops. Then we will have personalized stuff. It’s whatever level you want, we’re here to help. This is my labor of love. It’s designed to help create selfless leaders that then could go out into the world and bring this culture, this culture of service to their organizations. My ultimate goal is to have people go, “Wow. That crazy Jonathan Keyser was actually onto something because ever since I put my company through the Keyser Institute, my success has gone up 30% to 40% or 100%.”
Then it’s also designed for leaders who are helping other leaders to identify where they could become more selfless in their service. I think a lot of people get the concept and know how to do it at some level, but part of what we do is train that deep level of service where you’re really scratching some itches that have never been tapped into. As a coaching client myself, it’s that deep interaction that touches my soul in places where no one else has ever had access that enables me to get access to myself that really is the most meaningful work I do.
To get there as a coach, to be able to provide that level of service requires extraordinary commitment to, one, self-improvement of yourself, and then two, the willingness to serve this other individual. It’s basically the same answer to the question I already answered around principle five and principle three. It’s that same thing. It’s like, how do you bring the very best self to the interaction? That very best self is a constant work. I’m a work in progress. Every week, my coach helps me realize some dumbass thing I’ve done this week that I’m like, “Oh my gosh. How did I not see that before?”
It’s that constant improvement that makes me able to be a better service to others. Then when I’m being in service to other people, if my focus is 100% on them, not in my head about what I got to do tomorrow or what I screwed up yesterday or this or that, just in pure service to that individual, as a coach, if you’re coming from that place, you’re going to uncover things that no one else can uncover. You’re going to help people in places that they didn’t even realize that they needed help in. It’s a blind spot for them. To me, that idea of self-improvement combined with deep, deep service is the whole point of our firm, and that’s what we do. Our firm is all about self-improvement, everybody helping each other get better, and then taking that and serving in the community as much as possible.
You haven’t mentioned it, but I have to think, there’s this impact on family life too.
Yes. I used to be a disconnected dad at some level, and it’s really neat to watch my kids start to embody the same selflessness that they now see me do. That’s my biggest wish for them is, number one, I realized in my family life that the more I serve my wife and the more I serve my kids, the better our relationship, the happier I am, and happier they are. It’s almost like a “no, duh,” but yes. This stuff really applies at home. It’s the same thing with your friends. It’s the same thing with your communities, your social clubs, your church groups, your whatever is no matter where you are, people are people.
If you’re really going to create sustainable relationships that matter, you have to be in service to them. We all kind of know that, but then we wonder why we have these fights with people and we don’t like them and they don’t like us. It’s because we’re thinking about ourselves and we’re not focusing on them. Usually when someone’s lashing out at us, they’re just screaming there in pain. We can either take it personal and go react and make them bad and demonize them and then create this war, or we could just, like when my wife gets really upset, I don’t do it perfectly all the time, but I try to just go put my arms around her and say, “What’s the matter?”
Even if it sounds like she’s attacking me, it’s like she’s not really attacking me. She’s feeling something and I just need to love her. It’s that kind of mindset wherever you go is just having a lot of space for people as part of service is being willing to love them even when they don’t seem lovable or when they’re doing mean things to you or whatever, but it’s that mindset that creates joy. The thing for me that’s the most gratifying thing about all this is I’m happiest when I’m in service to other people. If you look across philosophy, that’s a pretty common thing.
I don’t even talk about happiness much because that’s not the point of my book. My point of my book is you can create financial success by serving, but the happiness that comes of being in service to other people, any time I’m depressive, which isn’t very often, but if I do get depressed, my instant trained thing is who can I go help? Because as soon as I pour myself into helping someone else, my whole mindset changes. I get happier and I get to be the beneficiary of my active service.
Yeah. That’s such a powerful benefit. The other word you use that we don’t hear that often in business, but it’s there, is love.
When we think about being in service to others, caring deeply about them and their wellbeing and really having a sense of love towards other people to me just makes a huge difference in how they respond to us because they sense that caring.
I just think everything you have said is just so on-target, I think, and I just love your mission to have this kind of an impact on so many people throughout the world because it’s so needed. As we wrap up, Jonathan, thank you so much for your insights, your passion, your commitment to this, and I’d like you to share how people can get your book and also get in touch with you if they’d like to learn more.
Ruthlessbook.com is the book website. You can also get it on Amazon. If you go to Ruthlessbook.com, we have lots of free additional resources, if you’d like them. We have video content. We have three levels of reinvention. We have all kinds of things that you can download for free, so I’d invite you to go to Ruthlessbook.com. Then for those who’d like to learn more about the institute, you can contact us through Ruthlessbook.com. You can go to Keyser.com and email us. There will be a lot of resources up there for you as well.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is we’re looking for people to join us in this mission. Whether you come to work for me, whether you hire us, whether you go through the institute, or whether you just listen to this or inspired and implement this in your own company culture, that’s what would make me the most happy. That’s why I spend my time doing this because I want to change the world. I want, like you said, to see a world where people selflessly help each other regardless of personal gain, understanding it’s in their own personal best interest to do so. Thanks again for having me on. It’s an honor to be here. I hope that this has an impact on a lot of people.
I do too, Jonathan. Well, I will be helping to spread the word when it goes live. Thank you and continue doing your great work. I appreciate you.
Thank you, Meredith.