Sunday, April 21, 2019

Morris Elstien: Founder of MorrieCONNECT - Episode 1013

Howard:             Good morning everybody, this is Howard Fox, the producer of The Success Insight Podcast, and the co-host with my partner Randy Ford. Randy can't be with us today, so I'll be taking the reigns. Hopefully we'll do Randy justice, because the great work that he's doing. And I am very excited today to introduce to you, to Morrie Elstien. Morrie's the president of the firm MorrieCONNECT. Morrie, welcome to SuccessInsight.

Morrie:               Thank you, Howard.

Howard:             So Morrie, tell us a little bit about who you are, because you've got such an interesting story, and little bit about your background, and about what is MorrieCONNECT.

Morrie:               I'll certainly try to give you that information, Howard. Morrie Elstien has been in Chicago for a little over 50 years. Many of those years he was in the direct mail business and owned a company that for many years provided millions of pieces of mail that went into the marketplace, mainly for credit card clients. The company was sold 13 years ago with over 875 employees working with our company, and over 280 000 square feet of space. Morrie, and that's me of course, decided that I did not want to retire, wanted to continue in the workforce, and made a decision to go to work only for a friend, feeling that, that would be a way of getting out of politics.

                             When I was offered a job two weeks after the company was sold, it was a friend of mine who suggested I come to work for his company and be involved in selling logistics. After talking for a short period of time over breakfast, I said that I would like that opportunity, and we went into my being involved in business development for the logistics company. It was a company and a word that I had not had a lot of familiarity with. I realized that I didn't know who I would start to contact and talk to, about logistics. As I thought about the predicament that I was in, in taking a job with a good friend and trying to help him sell this product, I realized that what I had done over 50 years of being in Chicago, was made a tremendous amount of business friends.
                             Many of them affluent successful, wealthy presidents and owners of companies. And my thought was, "Well, what can I do to get them interested in my company as a business, and me as a business man instead of just the friend that we ... and friendship we had developed?" And so, I decided to start introducing presidents and owners of companies to other presidents and owners of companies when I thought it would produce commerce. Between the two presidents I was introducing, I didn't know what was going to come back to me, but I thought if you pay it forward, and do something good, something good will happen in return.

Howard:             Morrie, you know, the pay it forward approach, is that ... and then the world of networking, is that ... you don't often hear that, and I wonder if you could share a little bit more about your thoughts on this idea of pay it forward?

Morrie:               Well, my feeling Howard, is that when you want to do something for somebody, and you wanna do it because it's the right thing to do, it is accepted in that manner. And when you go to meet people who have positions as decision makers, in my case particularly, presidents and owners, what you wanna do is you want to try to immediately become a partner rather than a salesperson. You realize that the person that you're sitting across the desk from has the same needs as you have, which are growing the company that they're working for, and meeting their next new clients. If you're willing to present to them a formula of paying it forward, and introducing them to people that they would like to know, you automatically become a partner. And that partnership can last forever.

                             And so, it's my feeling that that is the most central part of making a network work, paying it forward, giving to the other person, and of course hoping that something's gonna come back, but mainly showing your willingness to give forward first.

Howard:             With this philosophy around pay it forward, and I love it, and I would hope that I try to live that as well. I mean, as you said, rightly so, we have to pay our bills, pay the mortgage, and we wanna make a good living, a reasonable living, but this idea of paying it forward, I see from my own perspective ... for example, connecting on LinkedIn, yes I'll connect on LinkedIn, and immediately somebody is trying to sell me work. Their professional product or their service, and this idea of paying it forward and getting to know the individual we're connecting with, or we've developed this relationship, that's definitely a different mindset than some of the salesy approaches we still see. What is your response to those kinds of folks that go right into the sales without developing that relationship, and being a servant or paying it forward?

Morrie:               So, I think Howard, what I've learned is that so necessary to let people know that you want to help them that being a salesperson has some real problems and they include the fact that practically nobody wants to meet a salesperson. They don't wanna be sold. When they're interested in buying, certainly they wanna meet the people who they need to buy that service or product from. But in normal situations, nobody wants to meet a new banker, a new real estate guy, a new insurance person, a new wealth manager. But everybody is willing to meet a connector. Someone who they believe is going to help them grow their business.

Howard:             Do you find that your approach, this pay it forward approach to building a network, and enriching the network, nurturing it, that is there a difference between the face to face versus the internet based approach to networking? And do you have a ... I know you're located here in Chicago, where I'm located, it's how we met. But do you have a preference of the face to face versus the virtual aspect, and are there ways to be successful in both? What are your thoughts?

Morrie:               I think that certainly we all try to use filters because we all have a limited amount of time that we can use, and sometimes those filters can be the use of internet services. I must tell you that my approach to phone calls is not one that really values a phone call interview. So, when people ask me for a phone call, I immediately tell them that I don't do phone calls. I follow that up by telling them that one of the reasons we need to meet in person is I wanna help them grow their business, and to do that I wanna make introductions, and I'm only able to make those introductions once we had met face to face.

Howard:             And what are the responses that you're getting back from individuals? Are they open to that face to face? Or is it just something they hadn't expected it, and they're just, they elect not to go forward? What are your thoughts there? Or experiences?

Morrie:               Well, I think in many ways that that adds to my pay it forward attitude. When you tell somebody you wanna help them, you wanna help them grow their business, you wanna help them meet people that you know that could be good for the growth of that business, you immediately take away the negative reaction of I wanna do a phone call first. I would say in the 13 years that I've been practicing this pay it forward approach, I have had zero, no one, who has refused to meet in person after I tell them that one of the reasons for having that meeting is to help them.

Howard:             And I can attest to that because you and I have met in person, and I certainly respect that, and it was enjoyable nonetheless. I mean, if anything, it's a great initial conversation, a cup of coffee, tea, and you continue to talk or you part ways. But you've at least had a chance to be face to face and have a conversation. Are there any articles, books, that you're seeing out in the ... whether it's I'm doing Google searches, or the shopping cart sites like Amazon where everybody has this technique of how to do networking, anything that you've been reading or that you're finding valuable? And it aligns with your pay it forward approach?

Morrie:               I would say Howard, that I've met some folks over the years who've had the same approach to doing business. Every one of them has been extremely successful using this approach. I think I've read virtually every book that's on the market regarding networking and the strength of networking. What I realized is that while everybody talks about how to network and the value of networking, no one really talks about the process. I'm not sure if you're aware that I'm writing a book, hopefully it will be published within the next four to five months, and it's about the process of networking. How do you really do it? What's the formula? Are there formats? Are there templates that you use? Are there things that you've learned over the years that make it more successful?

                             Everybody seems to talk about the word network, but if you're not using that network, if it's not something that helps you by paying it forward to other people, than network has no value by itself. It only has value if you're using it.

Howard:             This book that you're writing, it's four to five months out. Do you have a title for it yet you'd like to share? Or is it still you wanna keep that under wraps?

Morrie:               I wish I did. I'm afraid the publisher has the final say on what the title's will be. I presented at least 10 of them and we're still working on that.

Howard:             Sounds good. Well, I hope that in the five months down the line when the book is published, that we'll be able to get you back onto SuccessInsight, and we can have a launch, so to speak, for you. Because it's such a wonderful topic. And I'd love to learn a little bit more about MorrieCONNECT. So, you did some work with a friend, there was some longevity in helping that individual grow their business, but then you made the decision to leave and start MorrieCONNECT, so tell us a little bit about MorrieCONNECT, and who are your target clients? Who are you trying to grow your business around?

Morrie:               Well, I work with four primary titles, president, owner, managing partner, and COO, and I don't do that because I'm a snob, I do it because I think at that level people understand the importance of using pure connections to help grow their business. I've been amazed over the years to find that there are so many leaders in industry who had not understood the value of the people they know, the human assets. And so, one of my really strong desires over the next years of my being in business is to try to make people understand the importance of helping their friends and the people they know in business.

                             Subscription business because that's really part of MorrieCONNECT is simply bringing on clients who are interested in growing their business, and meeting presidents and owners of companies, it's based on a 12 month subscription model that allows them to receive a certain amount of introductions, 10 to 15, over a 12 month period with two sit-down meetings, and gives them an opportunity to tell me who they wanna met, and for me to tell them who, out of the 9200 presidents and owners of companies I've met over the 13 years, I can introduce them to. So, on a weekly basis, I'm still meeting between 17 and 19 presidents and owners of companies, and trying to help them by allowing them to subscribe to MorrieCONNECT, and for me to make introductions that can be good for their business growth.

Howard:             You know, that is a pretty phenomenal model. So, you've had this network in place, these leaders, presidents, owners, partners, CEOs, COOs, et cetera. And now you're enrolling clients into the business, and that in itself is kind of adding on to your connections because, as you enroll new clients, you're also making new ... getting new introductions as well. So, it's kind of just a kind of organic growth. Once you kind of prime the pump, it just has this ability to grow, and that's a pretty phenomenal model. I am curious if maybe for a minute or so to take a look back into your career.

                             I mean, you've worked with some pretty recognizable logos, Kraft foods, Miramont Corporation, Owens Illinois. Can you share a little bit about what some of the learnings you've had, the life learnings, the mentors you've had, that you're continuing to bring forward into your life today as the president of MorrieCONNECT, and how you do your work and your philosophy that you are continuing to put out there. So, what are some of those lessons?

Morrie:               Well, I think the primary lesson is one that I got from a good friend of mine just recently, when I started MorrieCONNECT, we had a chance to have breakfast, and he asked me what filters I'm using when I'm trying to meet new people that should become part of MorrieCONNECT, and also to get introductions to people. And the word he used was "Heart". And it was a word I had never thought about when I was involved with other companies doing the work that I was doing with them, and I took a look at the people that I'd helped the most, and the people that have been most successful in helping me, and it's amazing that word, "Heart", though I never thought of it as something substantial in terms of making it a point with the people I met, I realize now as I look back on the years that I've been doing this, how many wonderful people I've met who truly have "Heart".

                             One of the most incredible things about this system is you never have to make a cold call, you never have to ask somebody for anything. People always wanna give you something back. And when I meet with people, one of the primary questions they will say to me is, "Morrie, how can I help you?" That's a wonderful thing to have happen, and when you think of how many business people you've met over the years, there's very few times when people will say, "How can I help you?" But when you're paying it forward, making introductions that help people grow their business, they always say, "How can I help you?"

Howard:             That's wonderful. And I think in some ways, as we come to the close of this podcast, we have this feature that we ask all of our guests, and we call it "Insight2Go". It's an opportunity for our guests to share any insight, could be a book, an idea, a quote, success. I'm wondering is this perspective around "Heart", is that an insight that you would wanna share with our audience? In fact, you've just shared it, but if that or is there anything else that you'd like to elaborate on, what's that insight that you want to leave our audience with?

Morrie:               Howard, I'd like everybody to think when they walk into a meeting, when they're meeting somebody for the first time, to ask two important questions. How can I help you grow your business? Who might I know that you would like to meet? If you ask those two questions, you're dealing with what most people go to sleep with every night, and wake up every morning if they're presidents and owners of companies, and the reaction you get back makes you immediately a partner and not a salesperson. If I leave this conversation, and this opportunity to have this podcast with you, with anything, it's to please tell you that being a partner gives you so much more opportunity than being a salesperson. Think about the person across the desk, and ask him those two questions.

How can I help you grow your business?

Who can I introduce you to that I know, that you would like to meet?

Howard:             That is wonderful, and I definitely take that to heart. And for sometimes I think it's a hard lesson. I often see, for example on LinkedIn, individuals are selling, here's all the things I do. And the conversation is all focused on them versus how can they help another individual grow their business, or who can I introduce you to that can help you? So, those are wonderful insights and I thank you for offering those. Morrie, in the time we have left, I wanna make sure that our audience can learn more about you and your work. Let's start with MorrieCONNECT. What's the URL so people can find you, and also if you can share the best way to reach out if it's email or via phone.

Morrie:               So, I think the best way to reach me is at my website, which is That will give you contact information and allow you to reach out to me over that website, and of course I'll immediately react by getting back to you.

Howard:             That's excellent. Morrie, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your day, a day that I know is full of networking appointments, people that you're going to meet, and I do wanna thank you for spending that time with me, and with our audience, and we certainly look forward to learning more about you, and your work, and your successes. We especially wanna hear about how the book turned out when it gets launched. As I recall from authoring a book, it's kind of like having a baby. It can be painful, but when it's delivered, it's a wonderful feeling. So, we look forward to hearing about that. So Morrie, thank you again for being a guest here on The SuccessInsight Podcast, and anything else you'd like to share before we sign off?

Morrie:               I'd just like you to know personally Howard, that you're one of the people I know who has heart.

Howard:             Well, I truly appreciate that. I truly do. Well folks, there you have it. We've been chatting with Morrie Elstein, president of MorrieCONNECT. Definitely, when you get a chance, go visit him at his website, And on the website there's the ability to send him a message and get to know him, and be prepared to sit in front and have a cup of coffee or a cup of tea, and have a great conversation, especially if you're here in the Chicago area. 

So folks, that's it for SuccessInSight, for Randy Ford, my co-host. This is Howard Fox, this is The SuccessInsight Podcast. We look forward to having you join us in listening to our next podcast. If you liked this episode, please add your comments, please follow the podcast, Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, go out there and have a phenomenal day.


Morrie Elstien is the Founder of MorrieCONNECT. Simply put, Morrie is a connector.  He assists business leaders and professionals through introductions, in meeting one another for the purpose of their discovering opportunities that will support and advance their businesses. Morrie invites you to visit him at

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