Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die

What makes people successful in life also makes them successful in business.

April 18, 2012
KEYWORDS book , employees , wisdom
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For his book “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die,” Dr. John Izzo interviewed more than 200 of the wisest people he could find.

He came away with an abundance of life experiences and wisdom about finding happiness and meaning, both professionally and personally. Izzo channels that wisdom into his corporate speaking engagements, hoping to give people a wakeup call.

Izzo—who will address the America’s Credit Union Conference in San Diego June 17-20—explains what the five secrets are all about and how they relate to business.

CU Mag: How does personal wisdom relate to the business world?

Izzo: The things that make a person successful in life are the same things that make a person successful in business. [What makes] for a rewarding life makes for a rewarding career.

Many of the people I interviewed had very successful careers, whether they were a town barber or the CEO/founder of a company.

CU Mag: Why should businesses foster meaning and happiness for their employees at work?

Izzo: Study after study show that highly engaged employees translate into significant outcomes in customer loyalty, productivity, and profitability.

Every manager has room for improvement. I have gotten to work with some of the best companies in the world, and one thing I’ve found is that these companies never get arrogant. They are always asking what they need to do to engage their employees and grow as leaders.

This lack of arrogance is one of the hallmarks of successful companies and successful leaders. People in successful organizations are always in learning mode. They never think that they have it licked.

CU Mag: How did you develop the five secrets?

Izzo: I have always been fascinated with why some people are able to find more happiness and success than others. I also had an incredible experience a couple of years ago in Tanzania, where I was working with some tribal elders.

They talked about having a council of elders. When you achieve a certain age and experience you go into this council and people come to you for advice. They asked about how it worked where I came from and, of course, I had to tell them that in our society we don’t really revere the elderly.

They were so shocked by this that they told me I should go back and form a council of elders. I didn’t think I could do that, but I thought maybe I could tap into the wisdom of older people and channel it. That is really where it began for me.

CU Mag: What should attendees take away from your presentation?

Izzo: People leave [the presentation] thinking about their lives in a different way. They leave thinking about what really matters. They ask, ‘Am I living my life the way I want to be living it?’

Almost everybody leaves the session with one thing that really gets them, [where they think] “I need to pay attention to that.” It’s a wakeup call.

People will find that this will impact their business and career, as well as their personal life.

Dr. John Izzo is a consultant and author of five books, including “The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die." It was named the best self-help book of 2008 by the Independent Book Publishers Association. Izzo will bring his insights about life to the America’s Credit Union Conference in San Diego, June 17-20.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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