Human behaviour

The balcony of life

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Jonar Nader explains his concept about ‘The balcony of life’ and asks if we are indeed doing what we would wish for ourselves. Or are we running around wasting our opportunities to live a zestful life? Further below is a transcript of the video.

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Here is the transcript:

Angela: Well, the time is up for our business segment now and my guest says meetings waste time. Yes! How many meetings do you go through and you sit there and you go run around in circle, you get absolutely nowhere. I mean, if you’re bored at work, have a meeting. It’s probably a good idea. If you’re a CEO of a company, weed out the red tape of the spaghetti-like systems and policies and chopped-defined ways of the system.

I’ve been reading the book and I love the – I mean, the title alone sold it to me. The book is called How to Lose Friends and Infuriate People. Now, this is the complete opposite of this adage that we’ve been living with since the year dot about winning friends and influencing people.

Jonar Nader: Yes.

Angela: Where did this come from?

Jonar Nader: The point being that if you want to live life to the fullest, you’ve got to first be in control of yourself. You can’t let others be in control of you and that means that you need to be wise. I mean, we talk about meetings. We don’t have meetings so that we can exchange knowledge. Oftentimes, a meeting is a ritual tribal activity that says, I’m the boss, you’re inferior, and this is going to …

Angela: One of the things that I found fascinating in your book was this balcony of life scenario.

Jonar Nader: Yes.

Angela: Tell us about that.

Jonar Nader: Okay. Well first, we say to people, imagine if you’re a just a spirit first and you’re standing on this balcony and you’re looking down on this round thing called earth. And you see strawberries and people making love and sand and sunshine and beautiful things, and then you say, ‘Would you like to wear a human body and go down on earth and actually spend some time?’ You say, ‘Yes, yes, pick me, pick me.’ Well Angela, what would you do? You’d say, ‘Well, I definitely have strawberries and I’ll go to the beach and I’ll make – I’ll feed the birds.’ Well, here you are, have you been to the beach? Have you had your strawberries and have you fed the birds?

And oftentimes what people wish for themselves is not what they are doing. The reason being is they just get so inundated with the bureaucracy, the red tape, with the backstabbing. And it can become incestuous. It can become such a burden that the only way out is out. No more fussing about. No more diplomacy. Just get out of my way. But it doesn’t mean that one needs to be rude or that you need to be inconsiderate. In fact, the book is quite the opposite. If people are rude to you and they’re inconsiderate towards you, then you need to stop it even if it means losing friends and infuriating people. That’s the notion. Now, I’m not saying go out and lose them. I’m saying just don’t let them waste your time because time is life.

Angela: Isn’t it a bit impractical though? I mean, yes, I’d love to be doing nothing but picking strawberries and lying about on the beach but I mean I’ve got to earn money to be able to do those things?

Jonar Nader: But you should be enjoying (as I can see you are) what you are doing. I mean, earning the money should be a by-product of absolutely doing what you love best. Getting a gold medal – you know, people don’t say, ‘I want a gold medal.’ They say, ‘I love swimming so much.’ And then the gold medal comes, you know. Look at these richest people in the world. Fortune Magazine this month had the 40 richest people under the age of 40 and all of them started out in a garage working ridiculously illegal hours just because they love doing what they were doing. Money and success should come as a result of what you do but you can’t do it just by doing it. You need to strengthen yourself.

Angela: You’re right though. I mean I love what I’m doing and I sort of always say to people I’m really lucky because my job is sort of like my hobby. I love this but some people can’t do what they love doing.

Jonar Nader: Well, if that’s the case …

Angela: Then what?

Jonar Nader: … well then if that’s the case, okay, that’s fine but make sure that it’s not made doubly hard for you by people who play the games around you. And you can’t then just go out and say, get out of my way if you yourself are not strong enough. So, the book talks about how to strengthen yourself, how to work in an environment in a group, and how to live in society. They’re the three important things. You don’t say to someone, ‘Look, you know, go and do this. Go and ride a bike.’ And they don’t know how to ride a bike. You don’t say to someone, go and reclaim your life when they don’t know what to do when the bus – so the book says, before you go to the bus and before you go to the government, any establishments and do what you believe has to be done, build yourself so that you yourself is strong and then strong in both personal sense, business sense, corporate sense, and societal sense, and then go throw the punches. And that’s what the book says.

Angela: One of the – the goal setting thing is really big in business these days. You know, set goals and achieve them. But you – you talked about, you know, like increasing sale target as a goal for individual. You say it’s counterproductive. Why is it so?

Jonar Nader: Yes. Well, I mean the whole notion of setting sales targets and so on is just one big game that executives play and you start off with let’s – let’s make a million dollars and then they take it all the way down to the poor person on the street and all of a sudden, the target is $2 million. We play these games. What you should do is not say, go out and make two million. It should be, go and do the best you can. Have fun. Be empowered. I can’t empower you. Only you can empower yourself. Only you can motivate yourself.

Angela: But you can give people the keys to empowerment, can’t you?

Jonar Nader: I think you can teach people about how to do things and the most important thing a business person can do is not to empower you but to take away the things that demoralize you. Take away the spaghetti-like bureaucracy. Take away the intimidation, the intangibles in the office that actually suppress you. They’re the things that I can do as a CEO. Not say to you, you are now empowered to make a decision. Well, you can’t. The – I can teach you about how to make better decisions, teach about customer service, but ultimately you have to make that decision. The best I can do is take away the idiots about you that actually stop you from being your best.

Angela: Certainly, in terms of customer service, there are some people working in the service industry who simply shouldn’t.

Jonar Nader: Yes.

Angela: Because they don’t seem to be people-people. So, how do you – how do you get them out of there?

Jonar Nader: Well, that’s comes back to the boss. I mean, absolutely the top. These people who have businesses and they give – notice on Saturdays, the casuals work in department stores. The busiest time is Saturdays for any retail. Yet, the people on the floor are those who are least interested in their career in the store. They’re just casuals and so on. That has got to change. And if you don’t want to change, fine. You just – you’ll just go out of business, you know. Customer service isn’t just about being nice to people. It’s about product knowledge, knowing your industry inside out, knowing everything about everything you can possibly know. If you don’t, get out of the way because selling is as much a profession as nuclear physicist.

Angela: It’s not about having Basil Fawlty on the shop.

Jonar Nader:

Angela: How to lose friends and absolutely infuriate people. And Jonar C. Nader has been with me this morning. Thank you very much.

Jonar Nader: Thanks, Angela.

Angela: It was a lot of fun. And the book is a lot of fun.

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