The Masters of Success
What is it you want to be successful at? Who do you “hang out” with who is successful. This brand new book lets you “hang out” with some Masters of Success.
Will you give our readers a brief synopsis of your life, how you came to be the Ken Blanchard we all know and respect?
Well, I’ll tell you David, I think life is what happens when you are planning on doing something else. I forget whose line that was, but I never intended to do what I’ve been doing. In fact, all my professors in college told me I couldn’t write. I wanted to do college work, which I did. They told me, “You had better be an administrator.” So I decided I was going to be a Dean of Men, a Dean of Students. I got personally accepted into my masters degree program, and then provisionally accepted at Cornell, because I never could take any of those standardized tests.
I took the College Boards four times and finally got 502 in English. My mind doesn’t work. I ended up in a higher university in Athens, Ohio, in 1966 as Administrative Assistant to the Dean of the Business School. When I got there, he said, “Ken I want you to teach a course. I want all my deans to teach.” I had never thought about teaching because they said I couldn’t write, and you had to publish.
He put me in the manager’s department. I’ve taken enough bad courses in my day; I wasn’t going to teach one. So I really prepared and had a wonderful time with the students. I was chosen as one of the top ten teachers on the campus coming out of the chute. I just had a marvelous time. A colleague by the name of Paul Hersey was chairman of the management department, and he wasn’t real friendly to me initially because the Dean had led me into the department. But I heard he was a great teacher. He taught organizational behavior and leadership, so I asked him if I could sit in on his course next semester.
“Nobody audits my courses,” he replied. “If you want to take it for credit, you’re welcome.” I couldn’t believe it. I had a doctorate degree and he wanted me to take his course for credit. So I signed up. The registrar didn’t know what to do with me because I already had a doctorate, but I wrote the papers and took the course, and it was great.
In June 1967, Hersey came into my office and said, “Ken, I’ve been teaching in this field for ten years. I think I’m better than anybody, but I can’t write. I’m a nervous wreck, and I’d love to write a textbook with somebody. Would you write one with me?
I said, “We ought to be a great team. You can’t write and I’m not supposed to, so let’s do it!” So thus began this great career of writing and teaching. We wrote a textbook called Management of Organizational Behavior Utilizing Human Resources. It just came out with its eighth edition last year and it has sold more than any other textbook in its field throughout the years. It’s been more than thirty-five years since that came out.
I quit my administrative job, became a professor, and I worked my way up the ranks. I took a sabbatical leave and went to California for one year twenty-five years ago. I met Spencer Johnson as a cocktail party. Spencer wrote children’s books; he has a wonderful series called, Value Tales for Kids: The Value of Courage: The Story of Jackie Robinson and the Value of Believing in Yourself: The Story of Luis Pasteur. My wife, Margie, met him first and told me, “You guys ought to write a book together—a children’s book for managers, because they won’t read anything else.” That was the introduction to Spencer. So, our book, One Minute Manager was really a kid’s book for big people. That was a long way from saying my career was well planned.
Mark Victor Hansen gives you full credit for coming up with the idea for Chicken Soup for the Soul. Other than recognition, has the series changed you personally and if so how?
I would say that it has and I think in a couple of ways. Number one, I read stories all day long of people who’ve overcome what would feel like insurmountable obstacles. For example we just did a book Chicken soup for the Unsinkable Soul. There is a story in there about a single mother with three daughters. She got a disease and had to have both her hands and both of her feet amputated. She got prosthetic devices and was able to learn how to use them so that she could cook, drive the car, brush her daughter’s hair get a job, etc. I read that and I think, “God, what would I ever have to complain and whine and moan about?” So I think at one level it’s just given me a great sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything I have and has made me less irritable about the little things.
I think the other thing that’s happened for me personally is my sphere of influence has changed. By that I mean, for example, a couple of years ago I was asked to be a keynote speaker for the Women’s Congressional Caucus. The Caucus includes women in Congress, Senators, Governors, and Lieutenant Governors in America.
I asked, “what do you want me to talk about – What topic?”
“Whatever you think we need to know to be better legislators,” was the reply.
And I thought, “Wow! They want me to tell them about what laws they should be making and what would make a better culture?”
Well, that wouldn’t have happened if our books hadn’t come out and I hadn’t become famous. I think I get to play with people at a higher level and have more influence on the world. That’s important to me because my life purpose is inspiring and empowering people to live their highest vision so the world works for everybody. I get to do that on a much bigger level than when I was just a high school teacher back in Chicago…
What do you think makes up a great mentor? In other words, are there characteristics that mentors seem to have in common?
I think there are three obvious ones. One is I think they have to have time to do it and two is the willingness to do it. I also think they need to be someone who is doing something you want to do.
W. Clement Stone used to tell me, “If you want to be rich hang out with rich people. Watch what they do, eat what they eat, dress the way they dress—try it on.: He wasn’t suggesting that I give up my authentic self, but what he was pointing out that they probably have different habits I didn’t have.
Excerpt from Darren LaCroix’s section:
What do you think are the biggest obstacles people face trying to become successful?
That’s easy – their own thoughts.
Successful people think differently.
When I asked David Brooks, the 1990 World Champion, for advice, he pointed out that people who’ve never competed in the speech contest will give you advice the exact opposite of the advice given by the people who won.
We need to learn to think like the people who are successful doing whatever it is that we want to be successful at doing. The thought process comes first: the habits and talents will follow.
When I decided to do stand-up comedy, I went to successful comedians and asked them what was important to them; what their “thought process” is.
eBook version ~ $9.95
Are you making any of these Top 10 Speaking Mistakes?