Home » My Dream BNI 1-2-1 with Dr Ivan Misner, the Founder of BNI

My Dream BNI 1-2-1 with Dr Ivan Misner, the Founder of BNI

by Miranda Knapton

I was scrolling through my ‘Other’ email inbox on a late January afternoon at around 4.45pm, when I noticed an email subject I’d never seen before from BNI Global: “BNI® Director Wire – Want a 1-2-1 with Ivan?”.

That’s a little different, I thought. I’ve never been shy of asking a question or going into an unknown situation, so I clicked on the link to complete the submission requested for entry to this international competition. Who wouldn’t want to talk to the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of the global giant of a company they’ve been associated with for nearly 6 years?

To complete the submission, I had to consider what I really wanted to know from the man who’d literally done it all with BNI. What did he know that could help me in BNI? How can I serve my members, and future members, better? What did he know that could help me serve? Ivan is also a very successful businessman, what could I learn from him that could help my business and clients?

An email confirmed my success only a few days later, with an accommodating 10am appointment via Zoom.  

What did I learn?

The time came to sit with Ivan (he insisted that I call him by his first name), we started with a screen shot each then we dived into my questions, and this is what I took away from the conversation.

On the topic of setting up BNI chapters or new businesses

  • Set targets: if they hit them great, if they don’t move on
  • “Apply rules more like Mandela than Atilla” (what a hoot!)
  • “Use tough love, coddling does not ensure success in business” – as an empathetic person, this will be a challenge for me
  • “Always make it about them” (BNI members and business team)

BNI is 37 years old this year and when Ivan launched it, he was teaching 2 courses at a university (3 is considered full time), had a consultancy business, and BNI was 18 months old – plus he was going through a major life event. There was a lot to fit into his life at once, so priority management (as opposed to time management) became his number one tool, and these are some tricks he used:

  • Colour code your diary – his goes: green for things he’s passionate about, blue for admin and red for things he doesn’t like (ie conversations with accounting and legal fall into red)
  • “Hold the vision, not the obstacle. If you hold the vision in your mind any obstacle becomes easier to overcome.”

Ivan used one of my favourite quotes by Jerzy Gregorek “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” And the 4th quarter of his life is much easier as he made hard decisions in the first three quarters of his life.

That’s a life goal right there, to be so fit and well in the 4th quarter of my life!

What next?

Talking and learning are all necessary steps in self-improvement, however execution is the key to all of it. If you don’t execute, nothing changes.

How have I executed? I invited my pre-launch chapter in on the more difficult aspects of their set up in finding a suitable venue, day and time that suited many of them. The conversation that resulted and solutions that were found were a much faster version of what I could do alone.

That’s one week on from our 1-2-1.

What actions are you going to take after reading this?

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