“It’s not what you know but…”

question-marks-Joseph MichelliAccording to the old adage that sentence stem ends with “who you know.”

On stage and in writing lately I have concluded that the old adage doesn’t tell the whole story. As such, I have modified it to say:

“It’s not what you know OR who you know. It’s what you know ABOUT who you know.”

In essence, I am saying you can have a lot of acquaintances, but if you don’t truly get to know people you can’t serve them.

One person I know well, Howard Partridge the CEO of Phenomenal Products, weighed in on my modified phrase and supercharged it. Howard shares his take: “It’s not what you know OR who you know. It’s what you know ABOUT who you know, and what they know about you (positioning).”

We could even add Jim Cathcart’s insight to our phrase.

Jim says “It’s who’s glad they know you.

If that isn’t enough to think about, an Internet marketer highlights the importance of perception with this tidbit:

It’s who THINKS they know you.

Howard and I agree, if you take this one step further in the age of commoditized products and service…

“It’s not only who knows you, but who LOVES you!”

Put all together, try this on for size:

It’s not what you know or who you know.

It is:

  • What you know about who you know.
  • What they know about you.
  • Who thinks they know you.
  • Most importantly, it is who loves you.

Do I dare ask if you want to make any additions or modifications?



Joseph Michelli

Joseph Michelli

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., is a certified customer experience professional, one of Global Guru’s top three experts on customer service, the author of nine business books about companies like Airbnb, Starbucks, Zappos, Mercedes-Benz, and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. In addition to being a Wall Street Journal and New York Times #1 bestselling author, Joseph helps leadership teams improve the experiences they provide for team members and customers. He also is an internationally sought-after keynote speaker on leadership and customer or patient experience.

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