February 22, 2021 5 min read
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Larry King was a legendary interviewer with a career spanning decades and a list of wives that looks like a roster for a women’s basketball team. He was married eight times.
I’ll always remember watching his 1999 interview with Prince and thinking how comfortable he made Prince look during the interview. His direct questions really got to the heart of the man and his music.
I’ve learned a lot over the years from Larry King and his very successful career as both an entrepreneur and master interviewer. Here are the seven lessons that have stayed with me.
Make other people the star
One of the things that Larry King was known for was making other people the star of his interviews. He tried not to take the spotlight himself and let the people he was interviewing shine. Ora media, which King co-founded, announced at his death, “Larry always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and audience.”
As an entrepreneur, the ability to put the customer and client’s needs above your own is critical to success in business. It doesn’t matter how much you like your product or service. If your customers don’t like it you won’t make sales.
Ask concise questions to get the answers you want
One of the things that Larry King was well known for was his concise interview style. He asked short questions that got right to the point. And he often got information from people that surprised both them and him.
I’ve found in business that a direct and concise style can often get you much better results than waffling about. People respect people who are direct. They know where they stand with you and they will often do more for someone who is direct about the questions they are asking.
Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t pay to be rude. And Larry King was almost never rude, but directness can set you apart from others who beat around the bush.
Don’t worry too much about people liking you
While being professional is important in business and having a good personality helps, there are times where people aren’t going to like you. Especially your competitors.
You can’t be too bothered by this. If you try to make everyone like you all of the time you are going to have a hard time succeeding in business.
One of King’s most famous quotes is: “I never think of access or good will. I just want a good interview. I want guests to be informative and entertaining. I’ve never been concerned about someone’s liking me tomorrow.”
This is a smart approach to life and business. Approach your work with professionalism and don’t worry too much about people liking you.
Do one thing really well
Larry King had either wives over the course of his life and lots of hobbies, but he did one thing very, very well: interview people.
When you focus and develop your skills to become an expert in one area you can offer your customers and clients unparalleled service and expertise. And everyone wants to do business with an expert in their field.
By becoming an expert, instead of a “jack of all trades,” you can command premium rates for your products and services. It really pays off in the long run.
Be a professional no matter who you’re dealing with
In a Television Academy interview, Larry King said: “I never sat down with a President of the United States or a world leader or head of a country and thought, ‘whew, this is the head of a country — I have to be different!’ I’m still every man. What would a guy in the street say to Chirac of France if you had a chance to talk to him?”
This ability to treat Joe the sandwich maker and the President of the United States the same way is an important trait.
I have a friend in the defense industry who meets with presidents and senators and she feels very much the same way. She treats each person with dignity and respect and tries to give the best possible service to everyone, regardless of their position.
It’s estimated that Larry King did over 60,000 interviews over the course of his career. That’s a lot, and doing a lot of something is how you get good at things.
When it comes to succeeding in business, being the best gives you an advantage. And you get to be the best by lots and lots of practice. So do what you are good at and hone your skills.
Keep on keeping on
Larry King was determined to keep on working until he died. And he did just that, with his most recent episode premiering just two weeks before his death on his YouTube series.
When you can keep on going through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship you will give yourself an edge and a much, much better chance at success.
Larry King is a legend. He had massive success in an industry that is often fickle. And he did that by being one of the best in the business at interviews and by always putting his client first.
Those are great lessons for any entrepreneur to follow.