I recently joined an online book club ran by Charelle Griffith from PropelHer. The group “provides unashamedly ambitious women with a carefully selected programme to help develop the mindset and skills needed to succeed professionally and in life.”

It’s right up my street!

My first book in the club was Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi and Tahl Raz, a business classic and New York Times best seller which was originally published in 2005. The book explores the extreme power of relationships and how successful people recognise that everyone within their network can help lead them up the ladder of success, and vice versa.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and sincerely wish I had started reading business-related and self-development books like this earlier on in life. Never Eat Alone fed my appetite for self-development and the following three key areas of the book truly resonated with me.

Build It Before You Need It

“Others around you are far more likely to help you if they already know and like you.” Keith Ferrazzi

We are all guilty of only reaching out to people when we want or need something. I’ve done it myself.

Keith explains that “people who have the largest circle of contacts, mentors and friends know that you must reach out to others long before you need anything at all”.

He goes on to say that we are all too often caught up in the daily grind, just doing enough to simply get through our days. However, building those circles of influence needs care and attention over time. We are all too aware that people do business with those they know, trust and like, and developing meaningful relationships simply cannot be rushed.

What did I start doing differently?

I resolved to email or send a little audio message to two people in my contact list every day. The messages are warm and friendly and simply ask how the other person’s doing. I’ve been doing this for almost six weeks now and it’s lovely to check in with connections, old and new, to see how they’re doing and to spark new conversations.

2. Don’t Keep Score

“The key to success in one word: generosity.” Keith Ferrazzi

I knew I was going to get a lot out of this book when I read that quote.

The chapter goes on to explain that friendship and, indeed, networking, is a constant cycle of “giving and receiving – of asking for and offering help”.

In short, we must recognise there is a mutual need to help one another, and the more people we help on a regular basis, the more help we’re likely to receive over time in return.

What did I start doing differently?

This was pretty radical thinking after the amount of time I’d spent in the corporate world and the dog-eat-dog mentality that comes with those who consider business to be full of competition. It reminds me of the relatively new saying: business should be about collaboration and not competition.

So that’s what I focussed on.

I regularly collaborate and skills swap with other VA business owners. This has removed any need for competitiveness because we all know we bring a completely different skill set to the business table and can complement rather than compete with one another. What a breath of fresh air!

3. Manage the Gatekeeper – Artfully

“Many executive assistants are their bosses’ minority partners. Don’t think of them as ‘secretaries’ or as ‘assistants’. In fact, they are associates and lifelines.” Keith Ferrazzi

Yes. This!

As my whole business model is based on providing executive support, this chapter was a refreshing read.

Keith tells a story of how he had taken the time to befriend his boss’s assistant, Mary, and that the relationship allowed him to gain easy access to his boss on a regular basis despite her gatekeeper role.

What did I start doing differently?

I’m not sure too many of us wield as much power as Mary seemed to, as assistants are sometimes seen as mere administrators with a distinct lack of recognition and progression in the corporate world. But the reality is that we provide right-hand support to those we work with and treat their businesses as if they were our own.

It’s wholeheartedly encouraging to read about how others see the true value the assistant role holds within a company.


I truly enjoyed reading Never Eat Alone and continue to refer back to my annotations on a regular basis. If you’re keen to read more, you can purchase your copy here.

“Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs in our own companies: Me In. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” Tom Peters