Customer Reviews: It's Not Just Who You Know: Transform Your Life (and Your Organization) by Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships
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on October 5, 2010
All 17 reviews here are very similar in style and content. They don't so much review the book as promote it very energetically. One gets the sense that they were prepared as part of a marketing program. The reviews often mention highlights of the book. That looks like "teasers" to me. They also include many exhortations to buy the book - the old marketing "call to action" staple. And an unusually high percentage of readers found the reviews helpful. Hmmm...

I have extracted below a list of some phrases taken from the headers, first and last sentences only, at least one from each review. Note the excessive use of exclamation marks, and the extensive use of power words generally, and emotional ones especially. Use this list from these reviews for your own marketing - it's a good one: inspire, success, meaning, purpose, relationship, children, leader, community, heart, aspire, incredible, grateful, wonderful, genuine, power, positive, love, enjoy, invest, impact, excellent. They recur frequently in various forms and contexts - classic marketing.

Ok, so here's my review of the book:

Spaulding uses his own life experiences to describe the importance of relationships, and then elaborates on how you should apply them in your life. The book follows the classic motivational/self-help writer/speaker formula: catchy phrases, personalization to make advice come alive, loads of emotive power words, lots of promises of transformation, and the obligatory formula of the ilk "common-sense plus everyday-thing equals dramatic-effect."

The sheer number of players and the financial success of inspirational/motivational writer/speakers proves that there is a market for this style, so I must assume that many people love it and must be suitably inspired. If that's you, this book fills out the template really well so you're sure to get your money's worth.

For the rest of us, it's just basic psychology. We all want to be better as people, in relationships, financially, or whatever. So, promise us that. Then, make it really readable and very human, so that we can relate. Inspire us with tales of people overcoming adversity. Gain credibility by telling us how bad it was for you and that if the five simple steps in the book worked for you, imagine what they could do for me? And finally keep it really everyday simple. No analysis, no theories, no academics, no long words, no hypothesis testing. Just personal testimony and lots of really simple power words. Oh, and no hard work required, no discipline, no sacrifice, no setbacks, not much effort at all. The author has been through all that for you. Just follow the elementary formula described in the book, and you will have a powerful and dynamic transformation in your life. (I'm not knocking Spaulding, just describing how the genre works.)

Here my further skepticism. Spaulding mentions that he is dyslexic, which made him embarrassed and appear to be stupid. It is a terrible affliction and I have much sympathy. I realize that it must be very embarrassing and that it most certainly does not mean you're stupid (full credit to him for his pre-writer business success, and for his two Master's degrees - great accomplishments, especially with dyslexia.) But he says this was only diagnosed when he was 40. Really? The diagnosis has been around for a very long time. How was this missed?

It is also apparent from the book that he is a very likable, easy, friendly individual. He is also obviously a born leader and a natural public speaker. All credit to him, and what a blessing to have those talents to offset his learning difficulties. But is the implication that I might be like him if I follow the formula in his book? My cynicism of this genre aside, all he is doing is describing his talents. I too have talents but, even if I described them to you in a highly motivational style, I know you won't become like me.

Thanks to a friend for gifting me this book (one of the exhortations contained therein, btw), and I paid you the respect of reading it, but can I go and get on with Real Life now, please?

Here the extracts mentioned above:

Inspiring & Thought Provoking - Oh my goodness did this book make me is thought provoking and inspiring ... and how you can be a better person and still be successful. meaning and purpose to what you do.
Relationships are truly measured by more than what you get out of them...
A Must Read for All Ages!! - Tommy Spaulding's, "It's Not Just Who You Know" is an inspiring and insightful look ... share with your children and students as this will help them develop into true Leaders in their communities.
A Warm-Hearted Memoir about the Virtues and Benefits...- If you know someone who aspires to such a role, do the person a favor and share a copy of this book with him or her.
An incredible book; an incredible person; and an incredible message.
so good it earned my first review ever!! - If you are at all on the fence about acquiring a copy of Tommy Spaulding's book, get over the fence! ... I am grateful to have the opportunity to spend time with such a wonderful read!!
Must Read for all - this is the best book I have read in years...READ THIS BOOK. Tommy Spaulding is changing the world -- one relationship at a time.
Tommy is the genuine article, the real deal and you will thank yourself for investing a few hours of your time, reading his book.
A must read and not just for business people!

Examine the power of "netgiving" versus networking - the positive impact they have on your professional and personal life. The unlikely stroke of luck ... You will never look at a chance meeting or formal introduction in the same way after reading this book
I love Tommy's book - Successful relationships are a critical fuel that fulfills people's lives ... create more successful business relationships. Tommy teaches you how.
You will love this book! - This book captures the importance of being authentic ... A business oriented book you will enjoy reading, and gain a great deal from!
This hits it on the button...This is a must read for all and one that will help to make the world a better place. Bravo!
Read and learn from him! - The investment in this book will seem small in comparison to the investment you will make in yourself ... There are so many aha moments from this book that can impact you and more importantly
Excellent Read... A Home Run - This book is great for anyone interested in learning about...success ... This book has so many lessons in it, you might have to read it twice!
A Must Read...Excellent Book...Incredible, Inspirational Challenge - I have read this book and must say that I have been inspired and challenged...This is a must read that I believe will be a classic that is re-read often. I look forward to see the many ways that Tommy Spaulding's message will impact our culture! (This one got a comment saying the review looked fake. The author took the opportunity to promote Spaulding's speaking tour. Hmmmm...)
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on October 18, 2010
A better title might be "Nice Guys Don't Finish Last."

In this very enjoyable, feel-good read, Spaulding describes how being a nice guy - interested in others, listening with respect to people, helping out others, etc. - has given him a great life. His book is part memoir, part inspiring story and part justification for building deeper and more meaningful professional relationships.

Other reviewers (advocates, maybe?) have described the book well so I won't. Here's what they didn't say but you should know:

The book is more high level than how-to. The suggestions for ways anyone can take relationships to level five - the penthouse - are based on his experiences and personality. They worked well for him but might not fit too many others.

This guy takes extroversion to new levels - it's extroversion on steroids. He says anyone can learn to do what he does but just reading about his activities made me want to spend more time alone. And I score above average on extroversion!

While his stories of how relationships changed his life were very moving and convincing, he focuses only on the positive relationships. I would have benefited more from hearing how he dealt with what he calls cancer in relationships - jealousy, selfishness and insecurities - as well as people who are very critical or don't share your values.

Maybe that will be Volume 2.
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on May 4, 2014
I had the opportunity to read "Its Not Just Who You Know" when I found out that Tommy Spaulding was going to be the keynote speaker at a conference I was attending. I thought it might be interesting to read his book prior to the talk, in hopes of getting more out of it.

And I'm glad I did. The author tells a truly inspiring tale of how authentic relationship building -- as he calls it, "net-giving" rather than networking -- can impact your life and your business. He weaves into and out of autobiography and allegory, articulating the lessons through the stories from his life and the lives of people he has met on his journey.

The lessons are largely an updating of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," but with a strong aversion to the manipulative side of networking and an emphasis on building authentic relationships with people by liking them, rather than trying to get them to like you.

As someone who reads and writes a lot on customer service issues, I found the book to be a refreshing take on how to build relationships, with a number of specific lessons and step by step instructions on how to implement the theories in your life and business.

I really enjoyed it, got a lot out of it, and look forward to using some of the ideas in my own personal and professional relationships.
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on January 21, 2011
The ego is tough to get through--maybe deserved but does he have to spread it on so thick? There are nuggets there, it is just hard to glean it out.
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on January 30, 2011
First, the book was ghostwritten(see the acknowledgement page).
Second, the author is a middle class white kid from NY. He claims to have been diagnosed with dyslexia in his adulthood. This with both parents, grandparents, and all of his uncles being school teachers. No one noticed? Is this an example of an author needing a "hurdle" to overcome and since it is impossible to prove that someone ISN'T dyslexic he chose this?
The writing uses three words where one would suffice. The message is good, and says that you should find people who can help you, and befriend them. By good, I mean the opposite of the Christian ethic.
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE is at least honest about it's intentions, so I recommend that one instead of this.
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on June 14, 2014
The author talks about this book as a modern evolution of Carnegie's classic, "How To Win Friends and Influence People." Spaulding accurately suggests that that book seem to be border line based on techniques for manipulation. Spaulding's book talks about true principles for building deep and lasting relationships.

Two term/principles that I will also remember from the book are netgiving and ROR.

Netgiving is the term Spaulding uses to communicate the true purpose of getting to know others. This focus on thinking how you can serve others is the key to building deep relationships.

ROR or "Return on Relationship" is Spaulding's play on ROI and refers to how deeper relationships always pay you back far more than you ever put into them so long as your focus is on adding value to the other person. This semi economic term applied to relationship building is a quick and fun way to think about it.

Read this book to understand the core principles that will help you grow more and greater relationships.

If I had a criticism it would be that the author uses his own story as an example in too many instances. As such a successful netgiver his high profile network of friends may seem intimidating to some readers. Don't let this stop you from reading the book and learning some great principles.
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on June 4, 2014
'It's Not Just Who You Know' is more that a tremendous success story of someone who overcame a significant learning disadvantage, dyslexia, and turned it to his advantage, but also a blueprint for how we can excel at building real and long term relationships. In a world where far too many of our relationships are transactional in nature and, hence, short term and shallow, Tommy Spaulding shares from his personal experiences how to build what he terms, Fifth Floor, or Penthouse relationships. Early in his life when his dyslexia seemed to limit his options, a significant choice was made. In his words, "I shifted my attention to what I could do, rather than getting caught up in what I couldn't." Powerful and sage counsel for all of us, especially the youth of the world, today. That shift in focus also lead him to discover that you "don't have to be a prodigy to change the world" and so Tommy Spaulding has spent his young life doing just that, changing the world one life and organization at a time.

Get it, read it and enjoy it and learn what "Don't Be A Chirping Bird" means, learn how to become a "Fifth Floor Giver" and how to live the "Give/Get from the Outside/In."

I read this book as '12 Books Group.' Come join and read with us here [...]
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on June 16, 2014
I won this book from the 12 Books Group and overall, really liked May's selection. I felt it was easy to ready and had a good overall message.

I think the biggest takeaway is the chart of the Five Floors of Relationships. The book goes into much detail about each of the relationships in the chart and Tommy Spaulding does a good job of filling in the pages with personal stories of these kinds of relationships and how it has led him to success in his own life. I felt the stories were pretty good, but I did feel at some points that the relationships he had were a lot by chance for him and that most people don't get so lucky. But, I think the overall takeaway is great.

I enjoyed the "relationship shifter" points at the end of the several chapters/sections.

I give this book 4 stars because I really thing this book or at least the concepts are really great. I think relationships take you a long way and no opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with people should be missed. But, I felt like the last third of the book suffered from repetitiveness and I think could have been shortened. I felt the book dragged a bit towards the end and the stories weren't as strong anymore. But, that's just my opinion, and either way, I felt like the overall book was well written and really flowed well.

I definitely will refer to these different floors of relationships in my work and leadership roles!
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on May 26, 2014
I just finished reading this book. I took it slowly because of the memoir aspects of the book. I am also an introvert, and that can be a problem. By the time I process something, the extroverts around me have galloped off to the next thing, chattering all the way. Parts of the relationship building described in this book appear to mix both personality types. We have the wide open extrovert tendency to open and forge relationships where they can be useful with the introvert desire for deeper knowledge and understanding of the other person.
While I have read abridgments of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, I have not read the book itself. What I have read leads me to feel that that book forges a form of manipulation that I do not feel comfortable with. Mr. Spaulding says he took the book as a starting point and expanded it, adding a "win/win/win" component to the basic principles, and that I really approved of. It's been a long time since I studied business in school, but this work could fit in the lesson plan successfully.
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on October 2, 2015
This book was recommended by my director through work. At 1st I expected another Dale Carnegie spinoff, with all the stories of rubbing shoulders with the founders of our corporate country. I was humbly surprised to read such a touching memoir that highlights the key notes to becoming a better person. I look forward to reading this again.
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