My loveable Grandpa Leroy Martin Boardman went by the nickname ‘Gabby’. It was bestowed upon him because of his remarkable gift for gab. Grandpa Boardman would opine, debate, discuss and pontificate with anyone in earshot. His pulpit was a counter stool at the Beacon Diner in downtown Belvidere, Illinois, population 23,000. The men who would gather there for morning eggs, toast and coffee were subjected to my grandfather’s talks on politics, business, religion, farming and family. On Sundays, he hung out at Ike’s Cigar Store where he’d play pinochle and take the opposite point of view in every conversation. He would argue just for the sake of arguing.
I share my Grandpa Boardman’s insatiable desire to communicate, and debate with the masses. It’s in my DNA. But over the years I’ve learned the hard way that in business, and in personal relationships, success is not achieved by talking. History demonstrates the great ones, from Jesus to Benjamin Franklin to Abraham Lincoln, were all extraordinary listeners.
This is why I’ve spent the last 4 years training myself to shut up. No one ever learns, or earns much, by talking or arguing.
To begin the process, I bought Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ on audio CD. I listened to it in my car and on my iPod, over and over and over again. Since 2008, I’ve heard it about a dozen times. Still, genetics are very hard to overcome. Sometimes my instincts take over and it’s blah, blah, blah, blah, and more blah.
So, whenever I get the urge to debate, interrupt, or generally just talk for the sake of talking, I pop one of Dale Carnegie’s CDs in my car and listen to the entire book – again. The results that follow are often miraculous. After struggling with some excessive gabbiness in the month of August I decided it was time for another dose of Dale. With a renewed commitment to keeping my lips sealed and my ears open several new opportunities came up, including:
- A $650,000 commitment from a new equity partner.
- A possible strategic alliance with a successful real estate investment group.
- Even more hugs and kisses from my daughters, who seem to be more consciously aware than anyone that I’m really paying attention to what they have to say.
One could argue that I would have gotten these same results with or without my mouth shut. But something deep down inside me says otherwise. And so does Dale Carnegie, who once said, “The ideas I stand for are not mine. I borrowed them from Socrates. I swiped them from Chesterfield. I stole them from Jesus. And I put them in a book. If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?”