Next year, my first book It’s Not Just Who You Know celebrates its 10-year anniversary. For the past decade, I’ve committed to teaching people from all types of organizations from all over the world the power of building deep, authentic, and lasting relationships. I teach about the power of shifting personal and professional relationships from transactional to transformational. The power of building what I call Fifth Floor Relationships.

For the past decade, tens of thousands of leaders and organizations have embraced my universal message: investing unselfishly in the lives of others is the most important thing we can do for ourselves, our organizations, our communities, and our world.

For the past hundred years, many companies and organizations have had it wrong. Their goal was to win business…focusing only on ROI (Return on Investment). Fifth Floor Leaders build Fifth Floor Relationships. And Fifth Floor Relationships have a different goal: focusing on ROR (Return on Relationships). When we focus on ROR, we win people’s hearts. When we win people’s hearts, we win their business. We don’t just win their business…we win lifelong customers. Lifelong clients. And lifelong friends. There is a difference…a big difference.

The only way we can build lifelong relationships, lifelong customers, and lifelong clients is to rewire our hearts (and our motives) to develop relationships that serve others, rather than serving ourselves. It sounds easy, but it’s not. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Putting others before ourselves is hard. Really hard. I know this for a fact, not only because I’ve been teaching this most of my professional career, but I’ve also been learning it most of my adult life!

When I look back and appreciate the Fifth Floor Relationships in my life, they all have something in common. They are all real. They are all authentic. They are all vulnerable. They are all transparent. They are all humble. They are all deep. They are all genuine. They are all serving. They all are loving. And they all start with “Yes.” Meaning, if we ask something of each other, our responses are always the same…the answer is “Yes.”

Next month is our 20th Annual National Leadership Academy www.nationalleadershipacademy.org. For two decades we’ve been teaching thousands of high school students from all over the country the importance of building Fifth Floor Relationships and the power of becoming a Heart-Led Leader. During NLA we rely heavily on volunteers, donated meals, scholarship donors, etc.

For the past 20 years, I’ve called my friends Chris Harr and Shawn Early at Pepsi to donate all the beverages for NLA. And the answer has always been “Yes.”

I’ve asked my buddy Boyd Hoback, CEO of Good Times and Bad Daddy Burgers, to donate a meal for a couple hundred high school kids. And for the past 20 years, the answer has always been “Yes.”

I’ve ask my friend and mentor Bill Graebel if his company can be the presenting sponsor of NLA. And for the past two decades, the answer has always been “Yes.”

I’ve ask my friend Scott Lynn for advice and mentorship on many occasions over the years. The answer has always been “Yes.”

I’ve asked my friend Bob Hottman, founding partner of EKS&H, to send his staff to our Heart-Led Leader Retreats and the answer has always been “Yes.”

Jill and I have asked our dear friends Brooke and Link Wilfley, whose son Luke plays hockey with our 11-year-old Tate, for help with carpooling, sleepovers, and getting Tate to hockey tournaments…the answer is always “Yes.”

I’ve asked my pal Tom Konkel with Stewart Title to sponsor a corporate table at our annual NLA Book-n-Benefit…the answer is always “Yes.”

I’ve asked our electrician, Lee Schuessler, to come over to our home a hundred times to fix something ASAP…and the answers is always “Yes.”

We’ve asked our close friends Lisa and Byron Haselden if they can lend an ear to Jill and me and the answer has always been “Yes.”

I’ve asked my friend Jodi Rolland with JP Morgan Chase for dozens and dozens of personal and professional favors…the answer is always “Yes.”

I’ve asked my pal Joe Krenn, General Manager of Farmington Country Club, to host our annual NLA Men’s Retreat…raising money for scholarships…the answer is always “Yes.”

You get the picture.

And do you know why Chris, Shawn, Boyd, Bill, Scott, Bob, Brooke, Link, Tom, Lee, Lisa, Byron, Jodi, and Joe always say “Yes”?

Because I have won their hearts. And they have won mine.

Funny how authentic and lasting Fifth Floor Relationships work. The more we give, the more we receive. The more we love, the more we are loved. And the more we serve, the more we are served. But it must start with others first. And when you build personal and professional relationships with an “others first” heart, you will always get (and give) the answer “Yes!”