Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lessons on Crony Networking From David Rockefeller

From Jerry Schwartz:
In the world of David Rockefeller, personal relationships are paramount. And he never let a dictator's misdeeds prevent him from doing business. Iraq's Saddam Hussein? Chile's Augusto Pinochet? Romania's Nicholae Ceausescu? He met them all.

"Even though I was totally unsympathetic to these regimes, I believed the bank should work with them," he writes.

In the process, he accumulated a truly gargantuan Rolodex -- a metal cabinet packed with more than 100,000 cards, alphabetized on a revolving carousel of trays. Press a few buttons and -- WHIRRRRRRR -- a tray pops up. A secretary pulls out Nelson Mandela's card.

Rockefeller started networking during World War II...To Rockefeller, it's like a game, like chess. "You have to think ahead, one move leads to another. You have to think ahead about how you're going to get from here to there," he said.

From Shel Horowitz:
How many people are in your "Golden Rolodex"? David Rockefeller kept track of 150,000 people, on note cards. When he met with someone, he knew all the right questions to build the relationship.

Ronna Lichtenberg, president and owner of the management consulting firm Clear Peak Communications and owner of http://www.askronna.com, shared with FBC members at the May meeting the nine principles of business success she outlines in her new book, "It's Not Business, It's Personal":

"It pays to be personal." The genuine personal touch sets you apart from the crowd. What did David Rockefeller do with all those note cards? "His ability to get people to do something philanthropic or for his business, depended on his ability to say, 'Jennifer must have gotten out of her braces by now.'"
Forbes writes:
YOU CAN MEASURE DAVID ROCKEFELLER SR.’S wealth and power by taking a look at his stock portfolio, his real estate holdings or his art collection. Or you can take an elevator to the 56th floor of Rockefeller Center in New York and look for an alcove that encloses a massive Ferris wheel of a Rolodex. This 4-foot-by-5-foot contraption is the fulcrum of Rockefeller’s globe-trotting life at the age of 84. Here can be found everyone the former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank has met since he was an assistant military attach at the U.S. Embassy in Paris during the 1940s. It has 150,000 names.

This is not some museum piece. This is a working man’s toolbox. Though he retired as chairman in 1981, Rockefeller still uses it to develop new business for Chase. And he uses it to raise money for his innumerable charities–often mixing the two. We’re talking logrolling on a major scale, with worthy causes the ultimate beneficiaries.

 Rockefeller confirmed his 100,000 plus Rolodex to CNN in 2002:
CNN: We use this expression Golden Rolodex, which seems utterly inadequate when it comes to describing yours. Is it true you have a Rolodex of 100,000 or so names?

ROCKEFELLER: There are a lot of names in it. I haven't ever counted them, but there could be that many. I have met a lot of interesting people.

Of course, you don't have to be a crony capitalist to make a powerful contact list payoff, but you have to start developing it with insightful notes about the contact and then not be afraid to use it. I have on occasion contacted people that I met 20 years ago, if it made sense to contact them--and I explained where we met,

BTW: University of Chicago economist Irving Fischer invented the precursor to the Rollodex.

Bloomberg reports:
Fisher designed a large revolving-file system to allow for their quick retrieval. When he felt he perfected his system, he sold a version of the idea that allowed the New York City telephone company to organize and quickly retrieve telephone numbers.
His concept eventually became the Rolodex system. When another business company merged with him to form Remington Rand, Fisher became a multimillionaire. 


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