Category Archives: Randall Bell

Success Circles: 4 Steps to Great Relationships

By Randall Bell, Ph.D.

Humility and authentic connection are at the core of all great relationships. And strong relationships are at the core of all lasting success. One of the most fascinating insights into relationship dynamics came out of the Stanford Prison Experiment conducted in 1971. In this experiment, two groups of students were placed in a mock prison in the basement of a Stanford University building and were randomly assigned to the roles of prisoners and guards. The students were observed for several days. What then occurred has become one of the most striking and disturbing observations of human relationships. The students began to manifest either aggressive or rebellious behaviors depending on their role.

Though everyone knew that this was just a test, the “guards” began to act rigidly and display hostility towards their supposed “prisoners.” The guards seemed to enjoy the authority and control to a level that went beyond acceptable boundaries. The guards increasingly pushed and even abused their authority—even though their authority was not real. On the other hand, the prisoners banded together and rebelled against the guards. They planned escapes. They insulted and harassed their captors. When the study ended, the guards were reluctant in yielding their authority and resisted their prisoners. The test had to be shut down prematurely and only after outside intervention.

Losing Perspective: The illusion of power can be wildly intoxicating. The Stanford Prison Experiment is an extreme example of a common phenomenon that can occur at any level of a small business or large corporation. Often, when we gain authority in life and in business, we can lose sight of how we gained that authority in the first place. With all the outward signs of authority—a nicer office, a new car, a different job title—we forget those who helped us along the way and we forget that there are others around us who could help us grow even further. We stop listening. We become distant, disconnected, and our confidence turns into arrogance. Eventually, we start making poor decisions and, with nobody around to advise us, we lack the perspective to notice our deteriorating decision. At any level of an organization, this kind of isolation and narrow-mindedness is a set up for failure and even widespread disaster.

Success Circles: The antidote to these toxic effects of authority on social relationships is to always maintain humility and authentic connection. Developing and maintaining a “success circle” in your professional life is key to keeping you grounded as you move into leadership positions with more and more authority. Building a success circle isn’t just about making friends and it isn’t just about networking—it’s about actively maintaining and developing a core group that will push you, advise you, and help you succeed in good times and in bad. These people make up your own personal presidential cabinet. You might be in their cabinet, too. There are four essential steps to developing a success circle: Strong relationships are at the core of all lasting success. Click To Tweet

1) Observe & Identify: Identify people in your sphere of influence who have a gift in some specific area. Your sphere of influence includes friends, acquaintances, relatives, neighbors, and colleagues. Here we observe and to pay attention to who these people really are. Perhaps they are not aware that they have a gift. We really get to know those around us and what sets them apart.

2) Connect: The art of connection is one of the most powerful secrets in life. This doesn’t have to be a formal effort. Just having lunch, playing a game of tennis, or going to a ball game can form the basis for real connection. Over time, you will gradually build up a success circle of informal mentors on whom you can count for the best advice.

3) Ask for Insights: This is where the humility comes in. When you are at a crossroads or are faced with indecision in in business, reach out to those in your success circle who have demonstrated expertise and knowledge in the area you are struggling with. Recognize that you aren’t an expert in all areas. Ask the person exactly how he or she did it. It is important to ask for detailed insights. Vague statements and general advice are everywhere, and they will only take you so far.

4) Listen: When people in your success circle speak on their area of expertise, listen carefully. You may even want to take notes. These notes may be some of the most valuable notes you ever take. Because each person in your success circle serves as a living example of the expertise you have already seen in them, you can trust what they say.

Real Growth: Will Rogers famously said, “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.” Maintaining humility and asking for help are the only skills you need to develop a success circle. Developing a success circle is a simple task, but it’s immeasurably valuable. There is a wealth of knowledge and information out in the world that is free and can be learned while playing a game of tennis or drinking a cup of coffee. Sometimes the answer you need is only a phone call away. Success circles keep you growing while keeping you grounded.

Dr. Randall Bell is a socio-economist, speaker, and author of Rich Habits Rich Life. He has consulted on such cases as the World Trade Center, Flight 93 Crash Site, and OJ Simpson. His work has generated billions of dollars to build lives and communities. He documents the poor habits that lead to disaster—and the rich habits that lead to transformation and growth. For more information on Dr. Randall Bell, please visit

The Four Cornerstones of a Great Business

By Randall Bell, Ph.D.

Randy Bell, PhD

Throughout the world, majestic structures stand as legacies to history’s greatest empires and civilizations. The castles of medieval Europe, the aqueducts of the Roman Empire, the temples of Ancient Greece, the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Ancient Egypt—these structures still awe and inspire wonder centuries after they were constructed. Though they are found all over the world and include cathedrals, bridges, opera houses, pyramids, and towers, they all have one element in common.

All of the world’s greatest structures rest on a solid foundation. And the integrity of every foundation depends on its four cornerstones.

The Four Cornerstones: Cornerstones were chiseled one hammer swing at a time. Nobody really knows the origins of the term “fair and square,” but it most likely comes from the construction of cornerstones. “Fair” refers to rock—that it is free of cracks. “Square” means that the stone is perfectly cut and that the corners are at right angles. It is hard work to make a cornerstone, which then sits underground largely unnoticed. But laying a solid foundation ensures that what is built will last. It is hard work, but it is worth it.

Great businesses, like buildings, must have a solid foundation. And the foundation of a great business is only as strong as its four cornerstones. Often businesses are thought of as single entities that must do one thing well to succeed. Just as a building with one cornerstone would collapse, a business cannot succeed with only one cornerstone, no matter how strong. There must be four elements in a business’ foundation. The four cornerstones of a business can be summed up as Me We Do Be.

The Me Cornerstone: When you are building the Me cornerstone, you are building knowledge and wisdom. You focus on your thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. Building the Me cornerstone of a business means that you don’t just conduct business day-to-day and react to whatever comes up, but that you listen, learn, and carefully choose your direction. You should spend time in deep thought to develop intellectually, spiritually, and philosophically. It’s important to take time to turn off all the noise, knowing that great insights already reside inside of you if only you take the time to listen.

For a business, this could mean taking some quiet time at the start of every day to reflect on the mission of the company and to plan for the day. Common signs of a weak Me cornerstone in a business include an arrogant, know-it-all attitude, a confused company mission, and a widespread sense of spiritual poverty. The signs that a business has a strong Me cornerstone are that everybody at the company is continually learning, people know why they are doing the work they are doing, and they see their work as service to a greater cause.

The We Cornerstone: When you are building relationships, you are within the We cornerstone. Here you connect with the right people and build your circle of success. Within this cornerstone we develop culturally, sociologically, and influentially. You build social capital and avoid toxic people. You recognize that the most important force on the earth is kindness.

In a business, this means showing appreciation to staff, vendors, and customers who make the business run. A weak We cornerstone shows up as poor morale, a breakdown in communication, and widespread conformity. In a business with a strong We cornerstone, there is an energetic and elevated spirit, a creative and expressive team, and everybody knows and embraces their unique style.

The Do Cornerstone: You are building the Do cornerstone when you build productivity. The Do cornerstone includes the physical, financial and environmental aspects of a business. In the context of a business, the Do cornerstone means adding value to the company, customers, and clients and producing quality products and services. It also means staying healthy, keeping to the budget, and maintaining a pleasant office space. A weak Do cornerstone shows up as bad health, debt, and clutter. Signs of a strong Do cornerstone are that you are in shape, adding value, and keeping your spaces clean, tidy, and pleasant.

The Be Cornerstone: The Be cornerstone is where you build the future of your business. This is where you develop and set goals, manage your time, and document your achievements. Ultimately, with this cornerstone, you contribute to building something bigger than yourself and your day-to-day work. This is where you break out of your comfort zone, set goals, and create something timeless. A weak Be cornerstone shows up as aimless wandering, poor execution, and shortsighted, selfish decisions. Signs of a strong Be cornerstone include clearly stated goals, executing goals, and a strong sense of history.

Finding Balance: Cutting corners has always been disastrous. History books are full of examples of buildings, people, businesses, and governments that ignored one or more of these cornerstones. The initial result is a feeling of something just not being right in the company culture. The end result is often collapse.

Many people tend to get stuck in the Me cornerstone. They never go beyond their own thoughts and feelings. Professional organizations often get stuck in the We cornerstone and become social gatherings with that do not build wisdom, produce anything, or contribute to anything greater than their own survival and funding. Many government institutions get stuck in the Be cornerstone and accomplish little besides attempting to preserve their own legacy.

Making It Count: Likewise, many businesses tend to get stuck in the Do cornerstone. They mistake busyness for business and focus on productivity at the expense of wisdom, connection, and legacy. This may work in the short term, but in the long run it is a recipe for failure. For success in the long run, all four cornerstones must be solidly in place.

The slow, difficult process of building each of these four cornerstones of Me We Do Be is not always glorious and often they may go unnoticed for years. But in the long run these four cornerstones form the foundation of a great business.

Dr. Randall Bell is a socio-economist, speaker and author of Rich Habits Rich Life. He has consulted on such cases as the World Trade Center, Flight 93 Crash Site and OJ Simpson. His work has generated billions of dollars to build lives and communities by documenting the poor habits that lead to disaster—and the rich habits that lead to transformation and growth. For more information on Dr. Randall Bell, please visit