RAJIV SHARMA, programme director of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Nigeria, tells JOSHUA BASSEY that organisations can turn around their fortunes by adopting appropriate communication and mindsets.
How did you get into the field of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)?
I started my career in sales in 1990 with an auto company. I never wanted to be in sales at that point in time. I took up the appointment as a temporary job.
I didn’t make any sales for six months and the company decided to sack me. That was when my eyes were open to the realities of life. So, I went to my manager and told him, sir, I really need this job, if you sack me, I will be without a job and I’ve been really trying to get a job.
He told me yes you need a job, but I don’t need people with this kind of attitude. He told me we don’t need people who are highly qualified and educated, but people who can do the real job. I said okay give me a chance. And he said, okay if you perform well this month, we’ll continue with you, and that year, I was the best salesperson in the same company.
So, I learned at the beginning of my career that if you change your thinking, you can actually change your career. When I look back in time, I see that it’s not about what we want, but what the universe wants from us.
Today I am rated among the best sales trainers in the world, number six by Best Global Trainers which is a research company.
In 2013 I invented a model called MARK model. M stands for Mindset, A stands for Action, R stands for Repetition, K stands for Knowledge.
You may have a great mindset, but if you don’t take action, nothing is going to happen. If you keep thinking that great things are going to happen and you keep lying on the bed, nothing is going to change around you. You have to get out of your comfort zone. You have to get out of your bed, you have to start taking proactive actions. And those actions are going to either take you towards your goal or take you away from your goals.
A lot of people want to create wealth. A lot of people want to make money. But how many people are taking positive and proactive actions towards creating that wealth for themselves? Once you realise that you are taking some proactive actions, you will see that one action will not get you the result that you want. You need to repeat those actions again and again and again. And when you repeat them, you attain mastery, and self-mastery.
I came out with the MARK model and the world appreciates it. The world says that’s something we can try. Today there are more than 200,000 professionals across the globe that are practicing the MARK model.
What does neuro-linguistic programming entail?
I came across this concept in 2006. Richard Bandler is the co-creator of neuro-linguistic programming. I was fascinated, and I fell in love with this concept. Neuro is the way you think. Linguistics is the way you speak, and programming is the way you behave.
Your success and result actually depend on three things: The way you think, the way you speak, and the way you behave. If you have to achieve any success with anything in life, big or small, you have to make sure that your thinking should be of a growth mindset.
You would be wondering why some companies make a lot of money and become very rich and some don’t. Some actually fail.
It depends on how the leadership thinks. What kind of common language are they creating for themselves? For example, company A, company B, and company C use specific languages.
How they greet their customers and how they treat their customers. As I told you, if you behave yourself, if you conduct yourself well in front of your customers, your customers are going to become your fans.
A lot of people ask me how this applies to business. Neuro-linguistic applies to all the spheres. It applies to teaching, it applies to coaching, it applies to leadership, it applies to sales, it applies to customer service, it applies to human resources. Because human resources think, speak and behave. And this is one of the most important works that all human resource personnel should embrace. All HR professionals need to imbibe in their system neuro-linguistic programming. Management should build neuro-linguistic programming concepts in their organisations.
You need a new language. You need to articulate something else. You need new behaviour. If a bank is behaving in a particular way, another bank has to behave in a better way to get their customers. That is all it is. And funny enough, everyone in the world is actually using NLP. You are using NLP all the time but you are not trained on that. All organisations need to train themselves in neuro-linguistic programming.
What are the key components of NLP?
As I shared with you, the first component of NLP is your senses. How many senses do you have? You have five senses. What are those? The way you see, your looks, the way you hear, the way you speak, the way you smell, the way you taste. Nobody has actually taught us how to use these senses.
Was there any school where they taught you what to see and how to see it? But what you see will be different from what she sees and what he sees. In neuro-linguistic programming, the first element is that it sharpens your senses. You will be able to see beyond the obvious. You will be able to hear what is not being said. You will be able to see how that man or woman is feeling. But how many people can actually see their own behaviour? The majority of people are not even conscious or mindful of their behaviour. People are not mindful of what they are doing at any point in time. These are the things about NLP. It makes you more mindful, it creates, and it raises your consciousness of performing things. That’s one element of NLP.
The digital age and digital marketing is all about how you communicate your message to other people. Yes, every post, every message you see on digital platforms is actually connecting with the people. It’s about using the language to impact somebody’s mind. It goes back to anything.
If I craft a message which is going to appeal to your mindset, you will pause there, and you will watch that message once or twice. And you will think about it.
The first thing is that you have to craft your digital message in such a manner that it should impact the human mind. It should impact and connect with someone. For example, I was talking about money. You can create a lot of money with NLP if you are using it correctly.
There are certain words which are very important. Neuro-linguistic programming teaches you how to use those words effectively to communicate better, to relate better, and to create a rapport with another person. That’s one element of the digital marketing part. The second element of digital marketing is about creating reach.
That reach is the customer you want to have. And we can actually create a reach of 7 billion people. That is what digital marketing allows you. The post you write here in Nigeria can be seen in China by somebody, can be seen in India by somebody, can be seen in the US by somebody.
So, there are no boundaries. Whatever you are thinking, you can actually express it. The term we use for digital media in NLP is RACE: Reach- Action- Conversion – Engagement.
When you expand your reach, you get more customers. But those customers need to take action. If somebody is looking at your brand, for example, and he doesn’t spend money on your brand, nothing has happened. Once the person has taken the action, then the C part – conversion takes place. Conversion means when he has actually become a customer of your brand. And the E stands for engagement. Now you continually have to engage that customer. Otherwise, he will not stay with you; he will go to another brand.
What do you hope to see NLP change in Nigeria in the next 10 years?
People around the globe are the same. The colour of the skin does not change the colour of the blood. When you mix the colour of the blood from one and second and third person, it will still be the same colour; you can’t even differentiate which is Chinese blood or Indian blood or Nigerian blood. It is the same thing with the soil. The way the grass grows here is exactly the same way it grows in India.
You put the seed, you water it and then it grows. The gravitational force; the way it applies here in Nigeria is the exact way it applies in China, India and the US. The globe is one race, but we as humans have created boundaries, we have created these countries.
We can definitely improve but we have to think about two or three things. China and India were exactly in the same place where Nigeria is today, but they have progressed and we seem stuck here. But I still feel that somebody is going to shake this all up and people will rise.
A Nigerian can’t perform in Nigeria but he goes to the US and starts performing. Why? Is it the environment? Let me give you an example. We’re 200 million people here; if we all start throwing water bottles on the road, this place will become dirty. Now, the responsibility is not with the cleaners alone, it is with every citizen that we should not litter around; we should not make our country look dirty.
If you look at the Japanese, their concept is so good; if they drink water and the bottles are thrown around the stadium, they will clean the stadium before they leave. They will not talk about the cleaners. Even if we have 10 million cleaners, they can’t clean if 200 million people start littering around. So, the responsibility is to create awareness and education. When you build yourself, your country and company will benefit from it.
How can businesses create global brands?
How did Google become so big? How come Microsoft became so big? How come Apple is so big?
How come these companies have become so big? It is because they did not employ people only from one country. They employed people from different countries. So, these people coming from these countries bring different skill sets. Somebody who’s coming from India brings technology and that mindset. Somebody who comes from Europe brings art along with him. Somebody who comes from Africa brings that heritage, the strong heritage of civilisation. That’s how they created such wonderful companies.
When you hire people globally, then you have global skills with you. And then you create a global company. So, if you really want to make your company a global company, you need to hire global citizens. You need to hire a global workforce. You cannot depend on one workforce only.
Let me share something with you; when you hire people from arts backgrounds, those who create great music, and you deploy them in an IT company, there is an impact it creates. Somebody who sings very well, you put him into an IT company. What is he thinking now? He’s thinking how will I use my music? So, he creates software which can sing. If you hire a footballer in an IT company, that football will be thinking how can I create a game in which you can play football? You don’t have to go to the field, you just sit in front of your TV and you can create a game.
Today if you apply to work in a bank, the bank will say “You have not worked in any bank before, so why should we hire you?” They just want to confine themselves to banking. That bank cannot be innovative because they are not hiring people from different fields. If they start hiring people from music, people from drama, and people from different domains, those people will come and show how banking can operate in their domains. That’s how you create a global brand.