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  • Writer's pictureJimmy Rex

The Secret to Making Friends & Influencing People

Growing up I would watch T.V. and movies and at the time my little kid mind was trying to form connections and figure out who I wanted to be when I grew up.  I would see examples ranging from James Bond to Al Bundy and a part of me wanted to be all of them. Like all humans I innately wanted to be liked by people, admired by my peers, and somebody my parents would be proud to brag to their friends about. 

It’s not that I always wanted to be rich, powerful, or successful, but that seemed to be the formula to achieve the rest. I’m sure many times growing up and even into my adult years I kept doing things I thought would bring me friends and happiness but really only made me look stupid to those on the outside. I thought people would be impressed if they saw “success” or if they thought I was rich.  But then I had an experience in about 2009 that changed everything for me. An experience I am forever grateful for because it helped me hack life’s greatest lesson in regards to making friends and developing deep loving relationships. 

I had an acquaintance that I would consider a friend but I only knew him from a distance.  On the outside, this guy had everything you could ever want in life.  He was very smart, amazing college athlete, he had Brad Pitt looks and always had beautiful women around him.  He was very successful in business and had an Ivy league degree.  One day I ran into him and he invited me to be a part of a network marketing company he was involved in. My immediate reaction was, I couldn’t have been less interested.  I didn’t even know why but I knew that people didn’t actually like this person.  I liked him but I also realized that even though I liked him, I didn’t really enjoy spending time around him. 

Fast forward about a year later and I had gotten somewhat involved in the company, mostly due to the fact that I had become close friends with the person that had recruited him to the business. His mentor in the business and I were talking one day and I asked him how my friend was doing recruiting.  He said that his business was all but dead and that he was shocked at how few people wanted to be involved in any way with my friend. What developed next was one of the most important conversations of my life and it opened my eyes to how I wanted to live the rest of my life. 

This very intelligent mentor explained to me that all of the acquaintances and friends of this guy secretly didn’t really care much for him.  They explained that they never felt like he cared about them as people and many of them even said things like, “I’m not cheering against him but I wouldn’t be sad if he had a little bad luck and it knocked him off his high horse a little bit.” 

Put another way, my friend was somewhat of an elitist.  Instead of trying to inspire others to greatness, he just wanted to make sure others thought he was great. 

At the end of this conversation the light bulb had gone off, I recognized why this friend was struggling and why at times I was as well.  This is what I learned… 

  • Nobody cares how smart you are!

  • Nobody cares how good looking you are!

  • Nobody cares how funny you are! 

  • Nobody cares how rich you are! 

  • Nobody cares how successful you are!

People only care about one thing and this is the secret to making every relationship in your life one of true friendship, loyalty, and love.. This is the question to ask yourself at all times… 

How do you make people feel when they are with you?

That one question is the key to everything. You can seem to have it all in life whether it is money, attractive members of the opposite sex, business success, toys, fame, etc.. But, if people don’t feel better when they are with you or if they don’t enjoy their life more and they don’t feel like their own lives are blessed because you are in it, you have nothing. 

When I learned this lesson, I realized that it doesn’t need to be about me.  Great leaders inspire others to realize their own greatness.  Everyone in the world can know you are rich and famous but why do you think Twitter and social media is full of so much hate? Cause those people want to see you fail! What are you doing in your life to inspire others? To help other people reach their greatness and feel that you know and care about them? 

I had a leader that truly made every single one of us under his watch feel like we were his favorite. He was my second mission president when I was an LDS missionary in Mexico.  This man was in charge of over 200 missionaries ages 19-27, a huge burden and responsibility.  The number of people he was leading, I knew there was no way he could know and care about me personally.  Then I met him.  My first day I met him I had already been a missionary in Mexico for 9 months.  I was still a junior companion and just another of the 200 kids he was now in charge of leading. 

The first time we met, I was at a zone conference with about half of the 200 missionaries in our mission and I nervously approached him to introduce myself. I waited in line as he met 7-8 others before me.  The second he saw me, without looking down at my name tag he just smiled and said, “Elder Rex, such an honor to meet you!” And as he was giving me a hug he said, “my wife has a little treat for you before we leave, we won’t be close by next week but I know Wednesday is your birthday and I wanted you have something from us!” 

I was blown away.  Within 20 seconds of meeting this complete stranger, I already knew I was going to spend the next 15 months giving him every ounce of energy and courage that I could.  I would run through any wall for this man. 

A couple months ago I interviewed my good friend Kyle Van Noy on my podcast “The Jimmy Rex Show” and he relayed a story to me about the first time he met Bill Belichick.  Considered by most to be the greatest football coach to ever live. It was 2 years ago and at the time Kyle had been playing for the Lions when he was traded mid-season to join New England.  Kyle was nervous to join a new team and mostly just anxious to figure out what was going to be his role.  Then on the first day he was practicing with the new team he related this story..

He was standing there with the defense doing drills and learning the play book when Coach Belichick walked past him swinging his whistle around his neck and he just looked at Kyle and said, “I always get my guys.” And then he just kept walking. Kyle told me that in that one moment he knew he was wanted and he felt so much support that he was going to give more than he ever thought possible to help his team win the championship. Three months later they won the Super Bowl.  

It’s ok to lose.  It’s ok to be wrong.  It’s ok to win. It’s ok to be right.  But the real win is always the win beneath the surface… Do the people around you feel better about themselves because you are in their lives? Do people want to be around you because they know life is just better when they are? Next time you are in a fight or trying to prove a point or just talking with a group of friends, ask yourself this one question..

How do you make people feel when they are with you?


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