Building Community Through Better Relationships

Building Relationship Is For Them


Hall Crowd

Who doesn’t want to be loved? Some people seem to attract strangers who are willing to share their life stories. Whether they have an empathetic ear or a trusting face, these lucky listeners have people approach them with personal details. The best of these folks embrace their abundant relationship trait. Patience is often a common characteristic. An electric smile emerges as a sure sign in other cases. Nevertheless, recently two friends laughed over really good coffee about how they manage the unusual attraction of people who willingly over-share.

Friend One is a musician who has a full dose of the relationship trait. As a working musician, he finds himself in assorted halls, theaters, and churches where he encounters diverse fans. Invariably, after a set, fans and listeners are inclined to pull up a chair to share. Friend One believes his highly evolved ear makes him a gifted listener.

He receives their input by listening intently. Too often, people do not really want someone to solve their problems; they want someone to listen to them. They equate listening with caring. Because Friend One listens well, his audience believes he cares well. Consequently, they share well and in turn, experience relationship. Friend One’s gift is establishing connectivity with people who need it. The music is simply a vehicle.

Friend Two on the other hand, is a lecturer. Whether teaching, presenting, or consulting, he dispenses knowledge for listeners to apply. Establishing rapport is a skill he has developed over time. But in order to personalize information, he has to understand his audience in as much detail as possible. His primary skill is questioning.

Great lecturers do not necessarily create knowledge. But realize that knowledge is more readily available now than at any time in history. A great lecturer personalizes the knowledge. They present information in ways that multiple individuals in the audience want to receive it. Consequently, asking the right questions, while sharing information to ensure understanding, is an exceptionally valuable attribute. And, as the audience responds, either by individual or as a crowd, the connection becomes more firmly established. And, whether the bold learners address him during Q & A, or the extremely bold learners approach as he packs his materials to leave, Friend Two reinforces connection by exchanging more information individually.

Fundamentally, connecting with people happens at an emotional level. President Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” The conversation is just the foundation. The listening and connecting is where the value happens. Relationship is the foundation of human and commercial value. Would you buy your morning coffee from someone if you do not believe it is going to be good (or at least dark & hot)? Whether the power comes from listening or questioning, it is the personalized dialogue that expresses caring. And caring is the foundation of relationship.

So, in building relationship, how do you express caring? When are you most receptive to connecting?

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Get An Old Man

Two Men Talking 2

“You have to get an old man” advised the half-crazy upperclassman tutor to a group of freshman trying to survive their first term at an elite university. The freshmen were baffled how an old man could help navigate their coursework. Then, the tutor elaborated that the old man was for wisdom, not education. This was real-world knowledge. In any complex organization, success requires more than raw, intellectual firepower. Negotiating cultural landmines and systemic distractions requires understanding and revelation that only comes from wisdom. Figuring out any large institution demands more insight than any one individual can acquire in a few months. It takes scar tissue to navigate the intricacies of complex systems. Why not benefit from someone else’s wounds?

“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward.”, according to Vernon Law. Wisdom comes from learning the lesson and surviving to tell the story! Lessons are not simply endured, they must be learned. Old men have already learned the lesson. Imagine the advantage of having the lesson before the test. Youth involves absorbing experiences for the first time. The advantage of maturity is knowing that someone’s first time, is most likely not the first time something happened. Youthful exuberance does not provide that perspective. Every old man was once young. Identify one that has walked the trail that youngsters are preparing to walk. Realize that the old man does not just know the challenges, they know how to avoid them.

Another benefit of old men is that they have seen great ideas come and go. They have seen talented people long on vision and short on execution. They understand that results matter! The upperclassman had personally witnessed brilliant students that struggled because they had always excelled alone. They had never needed help, so never learned how to ask. Corporations, academia, bureaucracies are full of these types. The wise old man knows what newbies need before they do. He is not competing for a grade, or a promotion. He wants to be part of their success. Wisdom will be shared with someone and it will be valuable. Get in line and receive it.

The most fascinating part of engaging an old man is what he gets out of the deal. Some youngsters avoid bothering an old man because they have nothing to offer back. Their intelligence blocks their understanding. They assume they cannot reciprocate, then applaud their brilliance. Old men vary; often relevance is all they seek. Other times it is repaying an internal debt from when they finally accepted wise counsel. Occasionally, they see the greatness in a potential protégé that the youngster is afraid to embrace. Regardless, seek wisdom. Wisdom does not follow age. But, wisdom ages well. The old man does not have to be old. It does not have to be a man. Mentors only require understanding that can guide toward a desired result. Get an old man. Then later, remember to find a young person!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bloom Where You’re Planted


Community gardens uniquely reflect growth! The location’s inherent beauty and the unconquerable human spirit jointly emerge regardless of the surrounding environment’s condition. The individual may suffer. Aggregately, life thrives despite the surroundings. Whatever conditions may dictate the environment, in the presence of community, life perseveres. Similarly, great ideas are birthed wherever the human spirit intercedes. Today’s dilapidated warehouse becomes tomorrow’s technology hub. Like the garden in a field of asphalt, the result demonstrates that life, people and ideas have the capacity to bloom where they are planted.

Before the garden spreads, the first seeds must have their breakthrough. All the seeds have the genetic capacity to emerge in harsh soil. However, certain seeds have either genetic tenacity, or a fortuitous crack near their germination which results in their breakthrough. People, and subsequently communities, must take advantage of breakthroughs as soon as they happen. Blooming never gets the chance without an available opportunity. Call it luck; call it favor; call it destiny. But to bloom where planted, the individual has to answer the call. Whenever someone emerges successfully from squalor despite nearby death and destruction, that individual seized their breakthrough and then absorbed a disproportionate amount of radiance and nutrients. Another nearby person may have had more innate talent. Yet, they failed to seize the resources that were available to all. Blooming requires grabbing resources where seeds take root, then expanding beyond the local boundaries. Do not wait for the next turn. Fight for resources that provide individual transformations.

Greatness is not a singular event. The bloom that emerges in their desolate environment needs to spread seed in the environment so that additional growth can occur. The garden is not successful with one stalk. Success requires a community of vegetation to make the soil healthy enough for more growth. The goal is to bloom where you are planted. It is not bloom, then wait to be transplanted. Even with expanding growth opportunities, no guarantee exists that every new seedling has a breakthrough. Bloom where you are planted requires cultivating a more vibrant and fruitful garden which enriches the soil to reproduce additional growth. The pockets of life interact. Their networking strengthens their aggregate opportunities to benefit each other and grow. A community does not grow one individual at a time. It grows and flourished when multiple pockets emerge in the same general location. The groupings share resources and nourishment, then the garden eventually changes its characters. The asphalt gives way to fertile growth.

Creating a vibrant community requires a symbiotic, pro-growth environment. Tilling, seeding, watering, pruning are all components of growing a garden, even a community garden. Spreading ideas and opportunities into pockets of growth facilitate the next generation enduring the same routine. Blooming is not a singular event. Growth demands time and replication. To change the environment, the enriched soil must be maintained. Remove weeds that choke the growth. Also, introduce outside influences that understand how to grow gardens so that they benefit from proven practices. Blooming communities require the ability to develop and nourish each other. It is difficult, but it is worthwhile. But to start, the first intentional cultivation must bloom where it is planted.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter And Beyond

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Better Community, Better World | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen to One Story

Tell a Story

“Patience is the most necessary quality for business, many a man would rather you heard his story than grant his request.” Lord Chesterfield, an 18th century English merchant said this. He was right then; he is right today! Everyone has a story. And, valuable connections result from listening to these stories. In fact, great stories continue long after the storyteller has left. By listening to one story, the right story, lives can change. But, for the story to maximize value, both the speaker and listener must benefit. The problem is too few people listen which limits the value. So, what exactly happens when the right individual listens to the right story?

The Power of Knowledge
Recently, I participated in a conversation with a local celebrity and a business colleague. The local celebrity casually shared personal challenges that had derailed his career. He had just met me, and knew my colleague mostly by reputation. Yet, he confided in us. We listened patiently, encouraging his alternate plans. We had no right to judge. Frankly, we were flattered that he shared a fairly intimate story. The celebrity’s story radiated power because it was personal and life-changing. The listeners absorbed the story’s power because they honored his confidence. Hopefully the celebrity will be comfortable trusting in the future, in turn transferring more power to additional listeners. They will benefit from his previous, weaker decisions. Despite the fact that we could not solve his problem, nor grant his request, our listening amplified the power of his knowledge. The story made a difference.

The Power of Trust
As this celebrity continues to trust more, he increases his outreach and influence. Trust inherently amplifies credibility, resulting in value creation. Good ideas are easy to get. However, executing them is hard which is why they are valuable. As trust builds, people share more, then do more. Listening to one story strengthens the bond between storyteller and listener. It becomes easier to tell another story. The result is even more power for both the audience and storyteller. In this case the celebrity summoned his power to impact additional lives. As listeners, my colleague and I can manifest additional value as we trust, then share our stories resulting in additional individuals’ improvement.

Sharing a story, receiving feedback and embracing validation paves the way to reproduce value creation. Each shared story strengthens personal bonds, resulting in greater accomplishments. It is synergistic. A storyteller conquers her inner fear. Listeners, in turn, overcome greater external threats! Additional listeners do not really need details. The audience simply needs permission to transfer trust that a shared story can build relationships and personal confidence. Embrace that responsibility. Tell a story. Then, listen to one. Give someone you newly trust permission to share your power!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Person, Better World | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Just Passing Through

Too many people go through life just passing through. They neither contribute, nor take away too much. They don’t disrupt the status quo. They exist. Then, they no longer matter.

My friend, Bill, told me how he unceasingly seeks to help others. His occupation requires him to help people manage very personal issues and he makes a good living. He offers his expertise. He shares his resources. Ultimately, Bill solves problems. He refuses to live just passing through. He positions himself so that life passes through him!

Although Bill requires a specialized skill set to perform his job, his extraordinary performance has little to do with a singularly unique talent. Basically, Bill cares about people… a lot! Like a farmer cares about his land, his crops, and his livestock, Bill cares about his profession, his contacts, his prospects and his clients. He invests time in understanding them all. He sows seeds in them to increase their understanding. He also invests time in them to make sure their needs are met in other parts of their lives. If Bill knows a resource who can help someone with any problem, he connects that someone with the solution. Consequently, he generates tons of trust and lots of favors. In essence, Bill serves as a pass through for his clients and connections to achieve a more satisfying life.

While Bill easily identifies resources to help his clients and connections achieve their goals, he clearly understands that he must satisfy his own needs. The favors that he so easily brokers require constant care and cultivation so that they meet everyone’s needs. Even in sharing his time and attention, Bill is aware that he creates value for others. He does not keep score on who he helps and who owes him favors. But, he is aware that by regularly sharing, he constantly generates opportunities returning back to him. Consequently because Bill sows so aggressively, he has no problem successfully reaping. Because favors, value and goodwill flow through him, he has earned the right to partake in the bounty. Not only does Bill reap, but his connections are eager to return the benefits that he has provided for them. As highly valued favors pass through Bill to others, more opportunities pass back to him.

Ultimately, Bill creates value because he is ready to contribute. Legendary columnist, Dear Abby once advised, “The getting is in the giving”. To appreciate fully this belief, people yearning for success must accept the challenge to find their individual gift. Furthermore, they must share it purposefully and powerfully to contribute to other’s well-being.

However, you must not humbly wait for reciprocity. Instead, be intentional to extract value from what you create. Reap what you have sown. It’s OK to receive. Just being willing to deposit first. Put your skills, relationships, and resources to work. Accept the withdrawals and the resultant interest! You earn that privilege by generously passing through more value for as many people as you can. Now, that is success!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond

April 6, 2015 Posted by | Better Business, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

It’s Not Entitlement; It’s Embracing Possibilities

After recently lecturing at a private university, a student approached me to comment on my presentation. She mentioned an example that appealed to her area of career interest. Then, she made The Big Ask. Can you introduce me to someone who can help me land an internship? Fortunately, I had recently helped a colleague win a new position in the student’s area who could help. I called him on the spot and introduced the two of them.

A year ago, my student in a class at a two-year college moaned to her fellow student about not having a job lined up in her field upon graduation. The listening student reminded her classmate that I bragged about being eager to help students and having a close relationships with a local business’ leadership in the first student’s field. The first student spewed back, clearly within my earshot, that he (me) would never help me. And, shortly afterward left the room.

On the surface, the first student showed a sense of entitlement in pursuing her career. She had a more privileged profile. She was bold. However, the truth was more subtle. The first student embraced the possibilities. She sought opportunities. I am certain that I was not the first resource she asked for a lead. The second student had mentally eliminated possibilities. In her mind, she had issues. Life was hard. She was born on the wrong side of the tracks. No one does anything for someone else without wanting something back. Unfortunately, her reality did not have room for opportunity.

Incompetent or Impotent
These two students approached their desires differently. Fundamentally, both were incompetent. Neither student were equipped to do the jobs they wanted. As students, they really wanted opportunities to learn more so they could contribute more. The second one happened to be impotent, as well. Her inability to progress was self-imposed. The first student embraced possibilities and attached to available power sources. Furthermore, she attracted people to be invested in her success (including me).

Holding on to Your Limitations
“If you argue for your limitations, then you get to keep them!” Entitlement means that because of unearned privilege, someone’s desires should be fulfilled. It’s a horrible characteristic! At its worse, entitlement is a burdensome limitation. It implies that achievement has nothing to do with merit. Through entitlement, achievement requires no courage, no risk. And, without risk, there is no reward! The second student could only see the possessions of entitlement and the absence of them in her life. Lacking confidence in her own abilities, she believed entitlement to be her only chance of reward. Since entitlement was not forthcoming, she rejected all possibilities of rewards.

Self-fulfilling Prophecies
“Ultimately, the optimist and the pessimist are both right.” The first student demonstrated that success is a statistical event and embraced the possibilities of reaching her goal. She welcomed the adventure. Her optimism led to asking multiple times knowing that she only needed one positive outcome. The pessimistic second student had calculated her odds and rounded the positive outcome to zero. Once all outcomes pointed to failure, starting was senseless. She finished her studies begrudgingly. Unfortunately, she had already devalued her education since she had no expectation of living an improved life after graduating.

Ironically, by completing her coursework, she in fact demonstrated a glimpse of possibilities. Her disposition was impotent, limited and pessimistic. But, she was still engaged. The real power of embracing possibilities is the spark of hope that it requires. Background, experiences and self-image, can suffocate the fire. But possibilities remain. Embracing them breathes life.

Oddly, embracing possibilities does not require much more work. But, it does require a much different mindset. Receiving the answer, “no”, is not a lifetime sentence. With a slightly shifting paradigm, “no” can mean not now. Or, “no” can mean ask me again if you really want it. Sometimes, “no” means you asked at the wrong time, or asked the wrong question. And sometimes, “no’ means “no”. But still, someone else may grant your request. Persistence pays. Ask until you get an answer you want, or you have better information to meet your needs or circumstances. Embrace the possibilities.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond

November 3, 2014 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is That Really Me?

A local organiztion engaged me to write website biographies for their leadership team and staff. The team is both gifted and passionate. As part of the organization’s rebranding, it needed professional help describing the talent that execute their unique mission. After interviewing a key staffer, then submitting her biography, she delightfully squealed, “Is that really me? I want to meet that person!”

Accepting the compliment, I explained that I simply took her comments, then presented them back to her with respect, esteem and a few clever phrases. I told her story, I did not change her character. However, our exchange subtly reminded me that someone’s personal lens can distort their own self-perception. For example, a tall high school tennis champion looks in her mirror and privately sees an awkward loner. The class valedictorian sees her as an athletic goddess who would never want to be seen with him or his GPA. The result is that they daily walk past each other in the hall avoiding eye contact. Both are simultaneously thinking that the other is so cool, but would never be interested in someone like me. Unfortunately, this dynamic extends beyond students.

Marianne Williamson shares in “Our Greatest Fear” that, “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Far too often, individuals fixate on their flaws. Their “realistic” assessment is that they need improvement. Maybe they do. Meanwhile, their true friends implicitly and explicitly remind them how wonderful they are. These friends choose to share their precious life with the self-proclaimed, flawed individual. The individual’s common response is often, “You are just saying that because you are my friend.” But, why are they friends in the first place??? Considering the six billion plus people on the planet, these friends have options! You have friends because you are worthy!! Your friends’ lenses are valid, too. Maybe more so!

As for individuals who do not have others positively pouring in their perceptions, I have two examinations for you. First, examine the good points of your personality and character. Since these are your good points, you get to pick the ones that you like. Second, start examining the other six billion people in the world that are not currently connected to you. You can start in your immediate community, but do not stop there. Upon acknowledging your good qualities, you can then identify others who recognize, respect and esteem those qualities. Make the time to search until you find and connect with people who like the individual that is really you!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond

November 27, 2013 Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I KNOW A GUY – 3 Easy Steps to Creating Value

The planning for a major association conference is approaching a critical deadline!  During the organization’s executive committee meeting, ideas bounce around for speakers for the upcoming event. The objective is to be innovative, educational, and value-adding!  While brainstorming among potential speakers and topics, the vice-president shouts out, “I KNOW A GUY!”

As a group of professionals, everyone on the committee knows people.  But something special happens when you know a GUY.  Not just any guy, but a game-changing expert regardless of gender who generates value.  Value is created through relationships, credibility and actionable ideas.  Networking alone does not complete the assignment, win the proposal, or motivate an audience.  Value emerges from the credibility of the referrer and the execution by the target. The objective is to achieve results because of the relationship, not just drop names.  Consequently, knowing a GUY only achieves the objective when three criteria are met.

1. Referrals
Referrals are the foundation of networking. Successful professionals foster relationships that demonstrate their influence.  The number of people in a network may be large or small depending on who is measuring.  However, it is the influence that the network can demonstrate that matters.  When you know a GUY, who is part of your network and their presence at an event instantly adds value, then you have the right individual. Beyond position, wealth or celebrity, does the contact raise the experience level of those around him or her?  A yes answer means you have the right GUY.

2. Credibility
An essential element of elevating an event’s profile is that the GUY has a following who believes that she will deliver.  In a best case scenario, the GUY will contribute their proven expertise and challenge the participants with innovative insight and additional knowledge.  Maximizing credibility requires more than passing on pre-packaged information, but rather facilitating new ideas for the group’s benefit.  The participants must believe that individual or organizational improvements will result from the GUY’s contribution.

3. Execution
In order to facilitate change, the GUY must perform to a high level of expectation. A celebrity who appears at an event, makes a few canned remarks, poses for photos and exits has not created value. No improvement occurred. He did not execute.  A speaker, presenter, panelist or dinner guest that delivers actionable knowledge, facilitates additional introductions, moves forward the sales process, or solves a problem has accomplished a measurable goal.  That GUY has executed and value has been created. That is the GUY everyone wants to know!

Knowing a GUY is a form of social capital.  Recognizing a relationship’s value affirms that the capital can be exchanged.  Transferring trust through a personal introduction, demonstrated credibility, and recognized execution is essential currency to transact the social capital that yields tangible results.  So, when someone says that “I know a guy” measure the guy’s ability according to the likelihood for referrals, credibility and execution. The guy who passes that test, provides an opportunity for many to benefit greatly from a new relationship. The person who passes this test is undoubtedly the GUY you want to include!

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal at Hunter & Beyond

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Better Business | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

3 Reasons Why General Education Matters to Leaders

The old saying goes, “A leader without followers is just someone taking a walk.” This wisdom applies to business, technology, the military, but is presented as literature. Literature is part of General Education which represents coursework that emphasizes baseline skills. Such skills establish a foundation for educated individuals. While technical skills are essential to perform a specific job, combining that learning with General Education develops the capacity for different types of people to interact. Across departments, cultural backgrounds, geographies, or socio-economic status, the expectation that educated individuals have a similar set of skills and experiences starts with reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic and goes to recognizing life lessons from literary classics, thought leaders, and assorted cultural perspectives. Leading depends on this understanding.

1. You Lead the Other Guy
Lead, follow or get out of the way ~Thomas Paine, American revolutionary. For people to follow effectively, they must know where they are supposed to go and the leader must communicate that to them. A common understanding, a common language, a common set of beliefs are necessary to proceed in an orderly fashion. Just because you are loud, have a position, or have more experience does not mean that you are clear. Knowing how to read to understand, to write to be understood, and to connect with other people as they see the world helps all groups communicate and perform better. General Education develops this capacity.

2. Innovation is Born of Diverse Ideas
A leader’s expertise may be technological, but their peers and superiors still have to consider finance, sales, and human resources. How can you follow directions or agree on the best plans across disciplines, without understanding all perspectives? How can you truly innovate with only your own, original ideas? Innovation is clearly a collaborative exercise. Technical knowledge is based on historic learning. You learn how to do a particular task or execute a process, then you repeat it. However, our dynamic world means the marketplace constantly changes. No matter how much any individual professional dominates her technical field, to repeatedly benefit from great innovations she needs external inputs. For leaders who are responsible for creating strategies, new products, or future forecasts, General Education provides diverse thinking skills to optimally use all inputs.

3. Get Out Your Lane, Now Pass
Leadership does not stop inside the organization. Leadership is a skill and must be continually developed. Professionals who safely stay in their lanes will eventually run into traffic and stop progressing. But, professionals who intentionally get outside their lane gain new perspectives and opportunities to progress. Progressive leaders maximize their skills by contributing to ad hoc projects, corporate boards, industry committees and non-profit boards. In turn, highly productive boards perform at their best when they compile a diverse set of high-performing professionals. General Education learning skills that include: reading across intellectual disciplines, creating content to demonstrate expertise among decision makers, and enlarging one’s cultural lens to better understand a growing legion of followers, enable leaders to fulfill their greatest potential. In short, they lead better because they can authoritatively connect to more followers!

Organizations and their leaders have to be culturally aligned to be successful. A particular discipline may dominate an organization and dictate its objectives. But, the marketplace will not be that rigid. Charting new paths and solving new problems are essential to effective leadership. General Education teaches applying diverse skills to solve new problems. If you are not solving problems, then you are just taking orders and are easily replaceable! Without General Education, you become “just someone taking a walk”.

By Glenn Hunter
(inspired by MDP)

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Better Communication, Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment