Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


Interview with Brian Klemmer



For my Embracing SUCCESS interview series, today I have Brian Klemmer. His latest book is The Compassionate Samurai: Being Extraordinary in an Ordinary World (Hay House, 2008). I was delighted to read a book that encourages a mindset so close to what I believe. The business world is known for being cutthroat at times. Business people become aggressive in their pursuit of success. But it doesn’t have to be that way! There is great SUCCESS in being a good person. And when you follow Klemmer’s advice, that personal SUCCESS leads to accomplishment in business.

The Compassionate Samurai has brilliant suggestions for keeping your integrity in ways that can help you win. Like my upcoming Nice Girls Can Finish First book does for women’s life skills, Klemmer gives business practices a makeover to provide constructive alternatives for getting ahead in an ethical way. I had lots of questions for him that he kindly answered for you to learn from.

How would I define a Compassionate Samurai? “A compassionate samurai is a huge result producer whose life is about contribution. Most people tend to be either nice people who do not produce large results OR large result producers who are greedy self centered and even non ethical. At Klemmer & Associates we train people to be Compassionate Samurai.”

What made me write the Compassionate Samurai? “The world is in trouble. Especially our country. It doesn’t take a genius to see that although it does take a great deal of courage to admit it and do something about it. The key to solving the problems are character issues. That is so with an individual, a company or a country. The book, and Klemmer & Associates Leadership Seminars Inc. is dedicated to creating bold ethical leaders committed to a world that works for everyone with no one left out.”

How important is it to maintain a balance between having compassionate values and working hard to do what you can to pursue career goals? “Balance is a key to a lot of things including power and happiness. What the book is about is that compassionate values are not contradictory to material success, but actually complimentary and supportive. Contribution focus is not just a high moral principled thing to do it makes the most business success financially. A mediocre owner pays their employees just enough to keep from quitting. They do that thinking that maximizes profit. A mediocre employee works just hard enough to keep from getting fired thinking that maximizes their personal interest. Abundantly successful owners contribute to their employees by paying more than normal, by giving recognition, by listening to their viewpoints, by paying for opportunities to grow. In return they maximize profits. They have long term employees who take responsibility for the business reducing their work load who are exceptionally creative at solving problems. Same goes for contribution focused employees. They get promoted or fired. Sometimes fired because they are very threatening to mediocre managers. But either way they make more money.”

There are 10 codes in the book-that a compassionate samurai lives by. Why are they more important than business skills for getting ahead in business and life? “Skills produce incremental success and achievement. There is nothing wrong with that. Character changes however, produce both exponential increase and it is long lasting. Klemmer & Associates can create a bigger change in the bottom line in a shorter period of time in any company with character changes in honesty, trust, contribution, boldness, responsibility, honor, than anyone can with any skill set. Plus you can teach a skill set and people still won’t necessarily do it! My first book was titled, “If How To’s were enough we would all be skinny rich and happy”. People know how to lose weight, save money, be honest or respect others. It is character issues that prevent them from doing what they know to do.”

Why do I think so many people ignore many or all of the codes I discuss in the book in their pursuit of success? “Because it takes hard work and one character issue is that people want something for nothing. So they don’t want to invest money on a seminar to help solve the problem. They don’t want to take the time to do it. They want to do one seminar or talk to one person ONCE and have learned it. To make a samurai sword they take two metals, heat, fold, and beat them 80,000 times to produce the incredible sharpness, hardness, and yet flexibility they are known for. It is the same in becoming a leader. I think also that people are afraid as they start looking at themselves what they might find that they don’t like. That’s ironic because in my experience whatever they discover they don’t like is usually covering up something incredibly beautiful they currently can’t see.”

How can someone best face a challenge that creates a lot of fear? “First of all decide whether they really want what is beyond the challenge. Fear is not good or bad. It is simply an indicator that you are about to act outside your comfort zone. Sometimes that is dangerous and harmful and sometimes not. So there is a risk reward ratio that assists us in making that decision and in having the courage if the decision is to proceed. In other words you cannot make a valid decision on knowing only one side of that formula risk and reward. A $100,000 is not expensive or cheap until you know what value you are getting and what are your odds in getting the value. The problem becomes in that many rewards and risks are hidden. To the average person who is afraid of leaving their job they often have never experienced a higher paying, more fulfilling work and have no idea what all the rewards are to include things like being a great role model for your children so they have belief they can do what they want. Nor do they see or are willing to see all the risks in staying with their current job such as in ten years being a dead walking zombie with no passion in life. If the reward is high enough in ratio to the risk you will overcome any fear.”

How would I define success? “I have my own definition, but that is very different than the majority of people’s definition. You ask most people today what is success and their answer revolves around accumulation, acquisition, and consumption. I am not against those things, but I believe success centers around contribution. I would define success as being in alignment and fulfillment of your unique God given purpose. When people explore their unique purpose it somehow someway always deals with making a difference
or contribution. In the process of achieving that we invariably accumulate things, but it is not the focus.”

Why do I think people believe that nice guys finish last? “Average people are myopic. They only think short term. How do I feel today. How much money am I making right now. Often times the not nice approach produces immediate results, but it does not last over the long haul. I have talked to young males and they have flat out told me, treat women a little mean and they stay with you. Be nice and they leave you. In the short term that is often unfortunately true. However in the long term it will not produce a great 20 year marriage. You can exploit someone in business whether it is a worker or a client and make more immediate cash. In the long term however it will be harder to keep employees or clients and to make as much money. Look at our environment. We do many things because we are myopic. We need to educate people on the value of thinking long term. Sustainability of a business or marriage is as important a part of your definition of success as is immediate quantity of results.”

How can nice guys give themselves the best chance to finish first? “By reading the book, taking our seminars and applying these ten character traits. We are result freaks. We like finishing at the top. In our corporate work it is often structured so that we don’t get paid unless we produce agreed upon results so we know these ten traits work. We are the only company that for people in the direct sales industry measures the participants increased income and recruitment and we publish it by company on our web site so we look foolish if we don’t produce.”

What is my best advice to someone who says, “My goal is to be successful”? “Clearly define it. Most people are vague in order to avoid failure, but ironically that produces failure. Then ask yourself whether that “success” resonates on three levels: your mind, your heart, and your spirit. It is a great way to make any decision. Does it make sense? Does it feel right in my heart? Does it resonate spiritually with you? Once you get a yes on all counts go for it full tilt. True happiness is knowing you are where you are supposed to be. It is being in alignment with your purpose.”

Brain Klemmer has studied leadership since being at the United States Military Academy (1968-1972). Known for his humorous and practical style of communicating, Klemmer is one of today’s most in demand speakers. His character development and leadership seminar company, Klemmer & Associates Leadership Seminars Inc., has conducted its works for more than 100,000 people around the world for over 20 years. His clients include well-known corporations such as Aetna Life Insurance, American Suzuki Corporation, General Electric, Walt Disney Attractions, and many more. Check out The Compassionate Samurai (Hay House, 2008). It’s a wonderful resource for achieving a very positive SUCCESS.



  • David Bursis

    Great interview! I love the concept of compassionate samurai. A strong spiritual feel. Thanks!

  • Pat Miran

    I enjoyed seeing these principles merged into doing successful business. The book sounds terrific. Will have to pick it up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01445486103480238038 Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    Glad you both found it helpful! It is a book worth reading.

  • Jim Clark

    Klemmer comes from a school that is all about standards: standards of character, standards of conduct, standards of performance. He’s Proud and True.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01445486103480238038 Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    You’re right Jim. Those kind of standards, combined with a compassionate heart, are a very potent combo.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your help! rH3uYcBX

  • Anonymous

    Hello. My wife and I bought our house about 6 months ago. It was a foreclosure and we were able to get a great deal on it. We also took advantage of the 8K tax credit so that definitely helped. We did an extensive remodeling job and now I want to refinance to cut the term to a 20 or 15 year loan. Does anyone know any good sites for mortgage information? Thanks!Mike

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