In honor of the 400th episode of The Official BNI Podcast, Dr. Misner chose to discuss BNI’s core values.
We’re all in business to make a profit, but business should serve a greater need. Business can be honorable and noble and make a difference in communities and individual lives.
The true foundation for success rests in an organization’s culture. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. BNI’s core values help to establish its culture. It’s never too late to be thinking about your core values—or too early.
There are 5 established core values in BNI:
- Givers Gain
- Building Meaningful Relationships
- Lifelong Learning
- Traditions + Innovation
- Positive Attitude
There are two additional values that BNI is considering adding:
BNI serves a greater good by helping businesses around the world to create a culture of collaboration. Dr. Misner’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal for BNI is to change the way the world does business by incorporating these core values.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 400 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, coming to you from from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you, and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am doing great and I am working at the office this week. This week’s topic is- I wanted to make something that was kind of related to the fact that we are at episode 400. Can you believe that? 400. I think you have done 350 of those 400 with me?
Something. At least that much.
It’s really a huge number. I wanted something that is really kind of focused on sort of the big picture for BNI because this is our episode number 400, so the topic is make a good living while serving a greater good. It is really about, I think, in part the values that BNI has as an organization.
You know, all of us are in business to make a profit. That is what we are in business for. That is what entrepreneurism is about. But if it is the primary driving force in a business, we really become, I think, mercenaries to that process and I believe that I as a business professional should serve a greater need than simply making a profit. I think that business can be honorable. I think that business can be noble.
It can make a difference in individual lives as well as in communities. Small business is really an engine that drives many of the economies around the world. Small business doesn’t have the resources of large corporations. However, as small businesses network together, I think the sum of the whole becomes greater than those individual parts. Well designed collaboration based on an effective system and strategy can lead to, really, small business success. In the final analysis, the true foundation for success rests in an organization’s culture, whether you are talking about an individual small business or whether you are talking about an organization like BNI.
You have heard me say this before, Priscilla. I really believe that culture eats strategy for business. An organization needs a sound strategy to succeed, but it needs a great culture to excel. For me, that approach has been about creating core values around a corporate collaboration in BNI. Our core values help establish, as it does with any organization, our culture. It’s never too late or too early to think about your core values in business or in life.
So if you are hearing me talk about this and you think, I haven’t thought about that. I have been in business a long time. It is really never too late to be thinking about your core values. On the other hand, you may be new in business and you are thinking, this isn’t relevant to me. Well, it is relevant. The more you think about your core values as an organization, as a business, early in the process, the easier it is to pass that on, I think, as you grow.
In BNI, we have really five established core values, but there are two additional ones that we are considering adding to our core values. So let me give you the five, Priscilla, and then I will give you the two add ons and I will be happy to talk about any of these.
The first is one that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. That is the philosophy for givers gain. That is one of the core values of the organization. It began in BNI almost from the very beginning, this idea that what goes around comes around and if I help you, you will help me. We will all do better, and it is absolutely a core value to the success of BNI.
The second is really about meaningful relationships, about building meaningful relationships. BNI is a relationship organization. The more we can build those relationships with other business professionals, the more successful we are going to be. It’s really about trust. People do business with people they know and trust. So if you have those relationships, you build that trust.
The third is about lifelong learning. We used to call it education and training, but it is more than education and training. That is sort of the mechanism. The value is lifelong learning. Oftentimes, Priscilla, I really think that business people pay lip service to education. They say it is important, but they don’t spend much time on it. I have found that the businesses that are constantly sharpening their ax, that are improving what they do everyday are the ones that are most successful.
So lifelong learning is important to me personally. It is important, I think, to the organization. That is the third core value in BNI.
The fourth is an unusual one because they sound completely different. There are two points and they sound completely different. They are traditions plus innovation. They sound almost mutually exclusive. I don’t think they are.
If you want to have a successful organization, tradition is key. Your traditions tell you who you are as a company and the things that are important to you. But if your entire organizational existence is based on the past, you are going to fail because things change, so you have to have innovation. So it is really about that balance between balance and innovation.
The fifth core value in BNI is a positive attitude. People hate doing business with grumpy people. That is a technical term, by the way, Priscilla. Grumpy people.
We have done a number of surveys for Masters of Success of what it takes for a master networker. A positive attitude comes up over and over again. It is in our code of ethics. Have a positive and supportive attitude with others. So it is part of our code of ethics. I think it is one of our core values.
If you have somebody- I know I said this in a podcast some time ago. We had somebody in a chapter who the woman said, “The best thing this guy ever does is call in sick because when he is not there, we have a great meeting. He is a fun sucker. He sucks the fun right out of the room.”
So if you have somebody like that in your group with a really negative attitude, you have the wrong person. Go back and listen to the podcast we did. We have a podcast on Who Is in Your Room, right?
Go back and listen to that podcast, Who Is in Your Room? You want to pick people who are professional and good at what they do, but I think a positive attitude is really, really important. It is a core value.
There are two others that I am pretty sure we will be adding. The sixth is accountability. You know, one of the things about BNI or any network, if you have a network, one of the strengths is that all of the members are friends. One of the weaknesses of a network is all of the members are friends. It is both a strength and a weakness.
But groups like BNI are not friendship groups. They are referral groups. If you want to have a powerful personal network, you have to have accountability. Otherwise, it becomes a coffee clatch, a social group. So accountability is a key to success in business and in life and absolutely in a network like BNI. Accountability is, I think, critical.
The seventh, and I am really kind of shocked that the sixth and seventh were never put in our original core values. I am certain we are going to be adding these. The seventh is recognition. When I started BNI, one of the most important things was to recognition those who contribute to the group. We have a door prize at the end of the meeting for people who bring in the highest number visitors or most referrals. That is why we have the notable networker badges or notable networker certificates, the recognition each month for people coming in. These are all important aspects of the organization. We want to recognize the people who are contributing.
These are our core values in BNI. These are what I think has helped BNI achieve success. I think that by applying these core values, I think in many ways, we are serving a greater good. We are helping business people collaborate and be successful around the world.
What are your comments on that, Priscilla?
As you said each value, I thought about it and accountability is one that I haven’t thought about before, but requiring people to come to every meeting unless you have a substitute or sick or something like that. There are a couple you can miss, but basically, having to be there every week and your leadership team keeps you accountable to that standard. You know, so that is just one little aspect of accountability, but I think it is a great value to have. I am glad you brought it up.
Why settle for mediocrity when excellence is an option? Excellence is an option and accountability is the key to that. It is possible to make a good living while serving a greater good. The core values that I have tried to apply in my life and in my business have helped to create a culture in a context of building a business through networking. I think this approach is really a great way to get business. I think it is an even better way to do business.
Business, as I said in the beginning of this podcast, can be honorable, can be noble. It can be something that improves peoples’ lives, as well as communities. It can do so by not only generating more business for one another but by giving back to the community, by mentoring others, by immersing in a culture of shared learning and by collaborating with others.
I have a BHAG. Priscilla, I don’t know if you have ever heard that expression. BHAG. A big, hairy, audacious goal. I have a BHAG for businesses around the world. I believe we, BNI, can change the way the world does business. We can do that by incorporating these core values into our business and support collaboration and positive, meaningful relationships.
We are celebrating our 30th anniversary for BNI, and I believe that our focus on these core values, our philosophy, our vision, is really responsible for our 30 years of consecutive growth. There aren’t too many companies that have 30 years of consecutive growth. I think the reason we have that is that we are, in fact, serving businesses all around the world and helping them build their business through word of mouth.
It has been fantastic to do these podcasts with you, Priscilla. Number 400. I appreciate you and I appreciate your efforts in making these podcasts the success they have been.
Thank you, Ivan, it has been a real pleasure to be on this podcast with you every week. It is incredible. You are my personal coach and I love talking to you and hearing all of your wonderful and interesting ideas, so thank you.
Thank you. I appreciate that a lot and I look forward to our podcast again next week.
Okay, excellent. Thank you so much. I think that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.