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Work the room by controlling who’s in it, Ivan Misner says

It’s been far too long since he’s been on the show, but one of our favorite guests is Ivan Misner, the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Austin, Texas. BNI is the world’s largest business networking organization.

We love Ivan because he’s one heck of a nice guy. He’s also a wise man, and he’s put a number of sage thoughts into his latest book titled Who’s in Your Room: The Secret to Creating Your Best Life.

“I love the concept for this book. Imagine you live your entire life in one room. And that one room has only one door. And that one door is an enter-only door – so that when people come into your room, into your life, they’re there forever. You can never get them out,” he said.

Now, luckily, it’s a metaphor, Ivan said. But let’s pretend that it’s true. Would you be a lot more selective about the people you let into your life?


So, Ivan said, the question becomes why aren’t we more selective about the people we let into our lives – either professionally or personally?

Think for a moment, he said, about someone who was in your life who created chaos, who was caustic, whom you really wish had never been admitted to your room.

“If you’re thinking of them, they’re in your head. And if they’re still in your head, they’re still in your life,” he said.

So it pays to be very, very careful about who you let through the door, Ivan said.

I get this. I really get it. In fact, I’ve made some decisions recently to eliminate some people from my life with whom I don’t have value system alignment.

That, Ivan said, is a key concept. You must be aware of your own value system in order to have a benchmark for evaluating relationships.

“If you don’t understand your values, then you can’t take it to the next step, which is what we call the Doorman Concept,” he said.

The Doorman is your conscious and subconscious mind, Ivan said, and you will have a conversation with your Doorman whenever someone is trying to get into your life.

“By the way, they don’t have to have the exact same values. Diversity is a good thing with values, but they can’t have values that are completely incongruent. They can’t have values that just don’t work at all with who you are as a person,” he said.

You need to have a list of deal-breakers, Ivan said, traits that you absolutely cannot abide in a close relationships. These could include constant drama or anger, for example.

Now, suppose someone slips past the Doorman, Ivan said, and you realize there’s an intruder in the room. How do you handle it?

There are a number of techniques, but one of the best is benign neglect. This works when you don’t want it to, when you neglect good relationships. And it most certainly works when you have a plan to implement it with a specific person, Ivan said.

You implement it using “homeopathic doses,” he said. You maintain a minimal connection so that you don’t burn bridges.

“I’m not a believer in burning bridges. There’s no reason to do that. But sometimes people just aren’t good for you, so you want to pull away gradually,” he said.

You’ve probably figured out that all of this applies to business relationships, too. I like to put it this way:

Good deal. Bad partner. Bad deal.

Too often, Ivan said, we take on a bad business relationship, however temporary, because there’s money involved.

But assuming you’ve been diligent about populating your room with quality people, the task now becomes how to live within the room you created, he said.

Forget about balance. You’ll never achieve it. Life is too messy, Ivan said. Instead, strive for harmony. Here’s how:

– Be here now. Be fully present in the moment as much as possible.

– Practice letting go and holding on. You can’t have it all. You have to make choices.

– Live in your flame, not in your wax. When you love what you’re doing, it’s obvious. So, too, when what you’re doing becomes drudgery.

There are more, but you’ll have to listen to the full interview with Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI. And buy the book, of course.



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