I’ve been fired.
I’ve been bullied.
I’ve been injured.
I’ve been rejected.
I’ve been divorced.
I’ve been cheated on.
I’ve been broken up with.
I’ve been made a laughing stock.
I’ve been cast aside countless times.
I’ve been physically and verbally abused.
But most of all I’ve been resilient.
Life is not about how we handle the best moments but our attitude when we encounter the worst.
Pain becomes life’s greatest teacher we just never know when class will be in session.
Chris Tuff was one of the first advertisers to work directly with Mark Zuckerberg in 2006 and filmed one of the first “viral” videos, which landed him on the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Tuff’s natural ability to connect with his nearly 80% millennial and Gen Z workforce led him to publish the national bestselling The Millennial Whisperer in 2019. A global movement soon followed as the Atlanta resident shared lessons on empathy and genuine connection at work on some of the largest stages in the world including such Fortune 100 companies as Nike.
If we got away from the noise and pressure of pleasing others we might find clarity in our thoughts.
As much as we might have a hard time trusting them, our thoughts paint a colorful picture of the world we’d like to live in and the person we’d like to be.
Our thoughts are truthseekers. Our thoughts are vivid and exploratory. Our thoughts hold a key that could unlock our dreams.
Which is why we often avoid them. We’re scared of what our thoughts might tell us. We fear the truth. We fear it telling us something far different than what the world wants us to be.
So we seek chaos and noise and warm bodies. We seek distractions. We thrive on being busy.
But when we get those moments of calm where our thoughts can become vibrant, those moments can wake us up and make us whole again, even if only for a few precious minutes.
Instead of running away, we should be seeking, chasing, and trying to plan more of those moments as they might end up giving us the fuel we need to power us to the next level of our growth.
We just have to bridge the gap between what the world wants us to be and what we truly want to be. That bridge is built on acceptance. We must accept the truth within and respect it for what it is. That is the only way we can start to become comfortable with our path forward.
Walking toward the truth ends up being the most honest thing we can do for ourselves and for our lives.
How many times do we look at others and think these sorts of questions…
What’s their life like?
Why are they here?
What led them to this spot?
Are they really happy?
How often do we wonder what others are doing? How often does the curiosity peak?
It’s easy to imagine what others are going through and create stories to make our assumptions seem real.
But how often do we turn those questions back on ourselves?
How often do we pause and question where we are at?
It’s always easier to look away from our situation and judge, critique, and imagine how others’ lives are going.
The harder thing to do is let others live how they live and use that energy to focus on where we are hurting or where we are feeling anxiety and frustration in our current state. It’s hard to look in the mirror and judge the person looking back at us.
But, turning those questions back on ourselves can open up a new dimension of clarity and lead us on a clearer path toward better decisions and better answers to these questions.
Answers that, if we work to change for the better, ultimately make us happier day after day.
Many times we struggle through life believing this is how it has to be.
No one says that what we are doing or how we are feeling has to stay this way. That is entirely up to us.
It’s not an overnight change and certainly not easy but we should be happy it is that way. We should be grateful that the hard work we put in and the endurance we’ve managed to muster up to get to a new place, a better place, don’t just evaporate overnight as well.
Those newfound habits have shaped us in a different way where we can leverage that momentum and progress on future endeavors.
We’ve got ourselves into the position we are in today. We’re at the Basecamp site. We see the mountain in front of us.
We have a choice.
Are we happy with where we are at today? If not, then we have the ability to climb to new heights to discover happiness. it won’t come without some pain and difficult moments ahead but when we decide to put our hands on that rock and start climbing we’ve already made a big change. We’ve committed to the change instead of just talking about it.
We’ve taken action.
We’ve transformed our mind, in an instant, from someone who sits and blames the world or gets up and does something about it.
We are on our way. We are ready to tackle a new phase of our life.
Some people see a wall color as green. Others see it as blue. The exact same wall on the exact same day standing in the exact same place.
We have only two choices.
We can argue that we are right and the other person is obviously wrong, flawed, and shouldn’t be trusted.
Or, we can agree that our perspectives are different. We may not be sure exactly how they came to that conclusion but either way we respect where they are coming from. Their vantage point may be different than ours because we come from different backgrounds, different experiences, and different belief systems.
It’s not that it’s wrong. It’s just an alternative viewpoint.
It’d be an interesting and curious world if we took the latter option more often.
In 2001, Scott Sunderland found himself going from a 35-year-old athletic father, husband, and business owner to lying in a hospital bed unable to move. Using visualization techniques over the course of a year, Scott was able to heal himself. However, old limiting beliefs, past traumas, and disempowering mental habits came back to haunt him when, in 2012, he watched his best friend drown in front of his eyes. Blaming himself, he was broken once again. Standing in a room on fire, Scott was faced with running through those flames to end up at the empowered life that he lives now. Today, he shows others how to run through their own flames to find freedom from their own minds and limitations in order to live a life of passion and purpose.
Benjamin Marcovitz is a champion for growth, a leadership expert, and the founder and CEO of the Rise Institute, which advances the understanding that human beings can grow and develop beyond their estimations, and that expecting radical growth from those who struggle can and should be the norm. Using his expertise in consulting work, background in education, and boots-on-the-ground research on human behavior, Marcovitz helps leaders accelerate their work and generate breakthrough performance in their employees. He believes the world will be transformed if people understand and recognize the possibilities for growth within everyone.
Jake Kelfer is a lifestyle entrepreneur, life elevator, and coach to ambitious entrepreneurs and freedom seekers helping people create incredibly impactful and profitable businesses. He is the bestselling author of Elevate Beyond and Elevate Your Network, a high-energy motivational speaker, and the founder of the Professional Basketball Combine which helps NBA draft prospects turn their dreams of playing pro basketball into their reality. He and his work have been featured on Forbes, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and many other major media outlets. Connect with Jake on social @jakekelfer!
Brittany Brave is a NYC-via-Miami based comedian seen on TBS, MTV, The Wendy Williams Show and featured in The New York Times, ELLE, Ashton Kutcher’s A-Plus and more. In 2019, and Brave was named Best New Talent at the NY Comedy Festival. Brittany produces the monthly shows Rock Candy Comedy at Rockwood Music Hall and Improvised Tarot, and runs Cat Call, (@wearecatcall) a platform for female events and conversation. She does all this and is still somehow only 4’11. What a crime.
Episode 115 welcomes in Vitality Coach and Author, Chana Mason, to share more about her journey and how she is helping people overcome their mental blocks to move forward and live a more happy and fulfilling life.
After a long journey of healing from physical and emotional trauma, I’ve dedicated my efforts to helping others not just heal, but thrive. As a Vitality Coach, I guide others to clarify an exciting vision for their lives, shift the beliefs getting in their way, creating a plan of action for manifesting their dreams, and learn the tools to get there. I offer one-on-one coaching, workshops, and retreats both in English and Spanish in Israel and the Americas. Through yoga, meditation, dance, laughter, and practical hands-on lessons, I help clients and event participants be honest about their beliefs and actions, take the courage to be vulnerable, connect more deeply to themselves and others, and ignite massive transformation in their lives!
Month 5 of my Dozen Months of Discovery is finishing up today and my challenge for this month was to write one blog article a day for the entire month of May, 31 days to be exact. As I write this post, this will be my final one of the month and I thought to share a few things I’ve learned throughout the month.
There are many people who write blog posts daily and have for years, for them this achievement is fairly pedestrian. I was originally going to learn the keyboard for this month but after a conversation in April with a friend and talking about sharing more of my message online, it became clear that a challenge like this would be good for me. I haven’t been consistent sharing my voice online besides my Podcast, which is mostly geared toward guest interviews. The written word is still very important on the internet and since I hadn’t blogged consistently in the past couple of years (5-10 posts a year), I wanted to challenge myself to get into a headspace where I can articulate my ideas into text and have to think through things more slowly versus just spitting off thoughts in my head while recording an audio Podcast.
With that, here are a few things I took away from the month:
Consistency is still the most important
This word has continued to pop up every month of the Dozen Months of Discovery and is a constant message shared with guests on the Just Get Started Podcast. Doing something once or twice is nice but putting the time and energy in to continually accomplish something takes more than just momentum; it takes discipline, prioritization, and grit. Whether it is a week, month, or longer or a different interval of time (launching a Podcast episode weekly), being focused on never missing this helps build the foundation to future success. One of the most glaring differences between anyone who achieved anything is putting in the work over an extended period of time. That has to be part of the equation.
You get better by practicing
Different than consistency, simply putting time into practicing something you are not great at improves that overall skill but it might help build others as well. For instance, I am not a great writer by any stretch but making a point to write every day helped improve my sentence structure, grammar, messaging, and most importantly my creativity. My writing has improved, even if just incrementally, but my creativity and observations flying around in my head were able to be articulated in a different way by making myself have to go through this daily practice. So keep practicing areas you are weak at. You don’t need to practice all of your weaknesses but weaknesses that might be essential to your overall growth, like writing, was something important for me to focus on.
Prioritize & Strategize
I’ve discussed the importance of prioritization before and when you have a challenge like this or anything that is important at the given time you have to make sure you understand where it falls on the priority list. It doesn’t have to be #1 but if this goal, however long, is important then you need to make sure it’s a priority or it’ll fall off early on when other “cool” things pop up and you’ll lose steam. Secondly, once you’ve recognized your priorities and have them listed, you need to strategize how you are going to fit them in during the day. Some days, I wrote my blog articles first thing in the morning while others I wrote right before bed at night. There are always a lot of balls to juggle each day and if you can think through what you’d like to get accomplished and the time it might take then you can make a simple to-do list to get these things done and block out the right time to do them.
Just Finish It
Everything prior is all leading up to the big takeaway, sometimes you just have to muster up the intestinal fortitude to get through “it” and finish. Some days get away from you and you might be tired but keeping your mind focused that you must keep the streak going can be enough to push you to the finish line. Remember, we all have bad days and we all have days that feel subpar but one of the most rewarding things you can do is finish whatever you had planned even when your tank is on “E”. That energy can propel you for multiple days going forward and be just the thing to pull out of your memory bank the next time you come across a tough timeline or situation and remind yourself that you’ve been here before and you’ve finished the race.
I look back at the past 31 days and it’s cool to see the great content I’ve put together, especially an 8-part series on a sales topic I had thought about writing for a year. Using this month as a motivator, I was able to complete those articles and will now be putting those together along with other content for a new Sales eBook in the coming months. These 31 blog posts may do nothing besides additional content sitting on my website but I take away the fact that I completed another challenge (5 out of 5!) in my Dozen Months of Discovery and can use those experiences for future personal and professional goals I have going forward. Sometimes putting a timeline and line in the sand can be helpful and if you struggle to achieve certain goals you’ve had in the past then maybe this is the time to put that time constraint around it.
Every opportunity is a chance to learn and grow and I hope you’ve continued to do that for yourself this year and will set a new bar for yourself next time with the aspirations of exceeding your expectations once again.
I had a chance to get back out to Umstead Park today with my son to go for a nice trail walk and enjoy some of the beauty nature has to offer. As we were about halfway through the walk he started to ask the age-old question, “Are we there yet”, which prompted me to share some insight about life which I’ll share here.
The trail is a metaphor for life and the only thing certain is there is a beginning and there is an end.
We all start out the same way, through birth, although everyone’s trail looks different.
My perspective on the trail and the difficulty in certain spots is based on my experiences in life up to this point. I might be able to easily navigate certain terrain more easily because I have come upon similar things before and can use those memories to help me get through. There will inevitably be spots though where I need to pause and consider a plan of how to get to the next step; which rock should I step on to propel me forward, should I jump or take a long step, is there any spot that looks slick. All of these types of things come at us at different speeds and at different times, too. You have to be ready to seize all of the opportunities when they are presented to you and make the correct calculation and best decision with the information you have to go in the right direction.
My son has a different perspective. For starters, he is much shorter than me so his view on the world is already different. Everything looks bigger and scarier and his footing is a little unsteady because of the surface area of the roots and rocks. It’s not harder, it’s just different. But he also doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. The things that I am looking out for, right or wrong, may not be things that he even considers and that can work in his favor, too. There is also a lot more fear of the unknown because he hasn’t seen as many paths as I have and hasn’t climbed as many hills so his mind isn’t callused as much as mine is. That will come in time and he’ll have to endure these when they come upon him.
That’s why support systems and having people you trust are so important to get through life. We all need mentors and guides at various times and those lessons taught (like Yoda on Luke’s back during Jedi training) will come in handy as we are on our own and have to make decisions in real-time. You can walk the trail of life alone and maybe do just fine but it gets lonely and dark and depressing that way. Finding purpose is a lot harder.
You won’t always know if this path will lead to the right spot but if you continue to evaluate the terrain coming ahead you can try to get back on course if you happen to veer. So this hits another parallel, what happens when you get way off course?
We all get deep into situations we shouldn’t have whether it is a poor career choice, poor health, or a poor financial situation like when I was in $18,000 of credit card debt. That sucked. I couldn’t believe I got myself in that big hole on top of the car payment and student loans that needed to be paid off. Not to mention the other bills that had to be paid each month.
But I had a choice.
I could continue to go down that path even though I had a feeling of where that was going to lead me; more stress, more anxiety, more frustration, less happiness, or I could alter course and use my judgment and newfound experiences to lead me in a better direction.
It wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t going to be quick but for me to get back on level ground I had to keep chopping away in small increments. I had to choose that new path every day. In order to tackle newer challenges that were important to me then I had to make the sacrifices in the short term to help me out in the long run. Eight years later, I was completely debt-free, over 50k paid off, and I felt back on track to conquer new adventures.
And so that’s the moral here, as I told my son, the trail is the fun part and not the destination. Oh, you’ll certainly get somewhere someday but what stories are you going to be able to tell when you get there and what level of pride will you have that you navigated tough terrain and not only achieved your goals but worn the path just a little bit more to help people that are coming behind you.
That’s what I wanted him to learn and I hope it’s a great lesson for you reading this today.
Enjoy the peaks and valleys because they are inevitable.
Stop and smell the roses and don’t be in such a hurry to get somewhere.
Help others by being a guide and marking the trail with your experiences.
Don’t let fear guide you on your path but the belief in yourself that ultimately you know the direction if you just trust your own judgment.
Good luck as you navigate your own trail and hope to run into you at some point on the journey!
We all deal with stress in our own way and I’ve found that most of the “dealing” is rooted in childhood behaviors and situations that are not going away any time soon. There is hope though that you can change those behaviors and become a person who can deal with stress much better or whatever challenges you’d like to overcome.
I got to thinking about this with a work situation today when I was trying to get some information to a potential client and was waiting on others to finish their side of it before I could send it over.
In the past, I’d get anxious and be stressed out if things were taking a bit too long. I’d be checking emails or refreshing salesforce or whatever to help me cope and feel like I was at least checking and would be ready to pounce when needed. This was rooted in a lot of childhood issues I dealt with around wanting to make everything perfect because I was always fearful of being judged and not being good enough. I was always someone to go above and beyond in many situations especially when it was with people I didn’t know because of this need to make a good impression. Not a bad thing, I guess, but I’d get stressed and worry a lot. As I got older, this worry continued to transpire into my work and always having that fear of judgment in the back of my mind I’d bend over backward to get things done so quickly.
I still like to try and get things done quickly, that’s just how my personality is and I have a hard time sitting around when things aren’t complete. However, I recognized that it didn’t make any difference for (insert a given task) to be done 2 days earlier, for example, and therefore I became much better at prioritizing and staying patient.
What I have come to understand is that I need to prioritize very quickly the tasks coming across my desk and make lists / time stamps on when these need to be accomplished. If urgent, then let’s get it done but if not then don’t fret so much if it’s sitting there to do in a couple of days. This is where the patience comes in. One of my best traits I’ve learned as an adult and it transfers to many areas especially when dealing with stress and getting things done. It wasn’t always this way but as I prioritize things more clearly I don’t let my mind get cluttered anymore with focusing on it and I move on to the next important item.
The big step to make all of this possible was to address those feelings as a kid that I had to please others and look good in their eyes or I wouldn’t be worthy enough. Although I am continually working on this, I’ve all but conquered that tall mountain. My self-confidence is at a high level and I’ve come to grips that I’m not perfect and will never be. I’ve realized that if I am true to myself and the others around me that’s all that matters and I can hold my head high that I am living the life I want. Trust me, this took many years to work through and it’s a continuing process.
Here are the steps I’d go through and still do:
Sitting in thought and reflecting on my past
Have the self-awareness to recognize where I need to improve
Have the courage to make changes, slowly if necessary, to move in a better direction
Keep checking back in with myself and repeating this process to build a more solid foundation
There is no “easy” button, that’s for sure, but dealing with stress and anxiety and worry has been a big issue in the early part of my life and I made a commitment to change this, among other things. It took time and patience but I had a vision for where I wanted to go and trusted the process of getting better every day.
One last thought, I’d encourage a read of the book “Awareness” by Anthony De Mello as a starting point as it was a welcomed addition at the right time and helped a lot in these areas above.
I hope my story helps you in whatever areas you are trying to improve and please reach out if I can be a resource at all.
In Part One of this Eight-Part Series, I wanted to touch on what I feel is arguably the most underrated of all attributes to have as a sales professional, Patience.
I can understand why this is the case, though. For years the adage has always been to “sell, sell, sell” and “more, more, more” and it basically has been wired into our DNA that we aren’t doing enough and need to keep pushing harder. Although sales have changed drastically in the last decade, this mindset still exists.
It’s okay to move fast, there is nothing wrong with that as long as expectations are laid out but what causes a lot of issues is when we move at a different speed than the potential client and moreover when we try to push the accelerator when the potential client and we haven’t taken into consideration the true timeline of the potential client.
In any dealings with any human being, the quicker we can get to the right decision is always better. It means we can move forward to the next step and continue to grow. Nobody can argue that. I make sure I do that on (almost) every call with a potential client. We want to make sure we are on the same page in regard to where we stand. That’s fair. Where I messed up a lot early on with this is that if there is a needed break in the normal cadence or a timeline shift I might not have picked up on these cues and my “follow-ups” weren’t always on point. Luckily, I learned this early on and is still something I practice consistently.
You must not get happy ears when talking about the timeline and have to fully understand the next steps, future decision, evaluation process, or whatever other points on the map that need to be hit before a partnership is finalized. Patience is the secret weapon here. I’ve seen it all too often where we want to “get it in before the end of the month” and start to sound selfish and pushy. Generally, this has come with pressure from management to want to close business. This is where you need to really go with your gut. I’ve had this situation happen a lot. I always go with what I think is right. Except for a couple of times, and luckily I avoided disaster.
I’ll share a quick story that relates to this.
I was working a fairly substantial potential partnership that gave us the green light to move forward but had delayed multiple times due to internal hurdles. I had a great relationship with an internal champion and was getting fed a lot of intel so I knew where the hold-up might have been. In the meantime, they (my champion) was also dealing with a lot of challenges in their own role and things that had surfaced that were unforeseen. He went dark on me for many weeks which was uncommon. I respectfully reached out a few times here and there not being pushy and understanding what he was up against.
No answer. No response. Weeks piled up.
After about 8 weeks passed with no response, I started to get pressure from my manager as our expected close date was approaching even though I had been transparent all along where things were at. He asked me if we should reach out to someone else there, my Champion’s boss, to get an update. I refused and pushed back knowing that person was mainly controlling the budget but not too involved in the overall choice. If we overstep my champion that could put a serious “knife in the back” feel to my champion and alter the partnership altogether.
I knew they were partnering with us and things like this just come up. After repeated pressure over and over I finally caved and said I would call his boss and try to get an update. Fortunately, the day I called he was out of the office and I decided not to leave a voicemail. Before I called back another time days later, I reached back out to my champion and fortunately received a response. A little luck is never a bad thing.
But I was right. He apologized profusely for the lack of communication and shared what had been going on and how it’s been a nightmare over there due to some unforeseen business challenges with their organization. It wasn’t that he was trying to avoid me but he was just busy with his full-time job. We were all good and were able to proceed and keep the relationship going forward.
Luckily, that situation didn’t hurt me but it confirmed a valuable lesson.
When you are a sales professional and are responsible for a quota you have to own that quota 100%. You have to do what is in the best interest of the client and yourself and trust your judgment all the way. You also have to remember that the person(s) you are working with has 40 other priorities to deal with on their end not counting personal life issues and things you have no idea might be going on. Having the proper level of patience shows that you respect their situation and that you have a relationship built on trust and communication, hopefully, established early on, and that wins in the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and trying to speed up something that isn’t meant to be sped up can put you in a bad position.
On that note, there is one other piece of the patience puzzle I wanted to touch on. The micro-side of patience.
The micro-side is something extremely important as well and it involves each and every interaction with a potential client.
How many times have you received an email later in the sales process and just replied straight back to exactly what they are asking for? I bet the answer is almost 100%.
But I’d suggest a different route. This is a great example of where patience can work in your favor. Why are they asking that question? What additional conversations have happened internally that posed that question? Does the answer, one way or another, change the direction? A question generally has much more meaning behind it and I always pick up the phone and try to get my potential client on a quick call to clarify. It allows us to make sure we are fully on the same page and we understand each other and it also recalibrates the next steps and timeline and confirms we are still in line with that as well.
Responding quickly just to get it done isn’t always the best approach and sometimes it takes additional time and energy to flush out a situation and learn the nuances and reasoning behind it.
This is most important when it comes to phone calls and the speed of your messaging, response to questions, and time on the phone. When you are trying to rush to just get through it you miss a lot of valuable information that is helpful during the partnership discovery.
Sales are like professional dating that if you build enough rapport and trust early on in the conversation you can go well past the intended endpoint. If things are going well, why rush through it. Be thoughtful, be insightful, ask deeper and curious questions, get to the bottom of something you don’t understand.
All of these things happen when you have a mindset focused on patience and an understanding that you are in control most of the time but the times that you aren’t you need to be okay with taking a deep breath and letting someone else lead even if it doesn’t match up with your expected timeline or path to finalizing the partnership.
Remember, patience is underrated so this might be one of the biggest areas you can find improvement in right away. Start to think about areas in your entire sales process, both internal and client-facing, where you can start to leverage a more patient attitude and style and I’m confident you’ll start noticing a big change in the overall structure of your sales pipeline, relationships, and eventual partnerships.
As I continue to go through this reflection period and have dipped into the memory bank of my earlier days it never dawned on me how many obstacles were in my way to grow as a person. Some of them I conquered, others it took many years to overcome, and others were sheer luck when they were removed for me, hence is the case with my older brother.
As a middle child, it was a brutal upbringing. Never feeling adequate enough as the 2nd son but certainly not new or different enough as the younger daughter. I felt stuck. I didn’t have many friends outside of school and hung out with a lot of my brothers’ friends. It’s funny now, really, but back then I looked up to him as an older brother and wanted to do the things he did. That’s pretty natural in most families and definitely wasn’t different in mine. Being only 17 months apart, we were close enough in age to play a lot of sports together and enjoy some of the same things. But we were so different it wasn’t even close. We thought similarly as we do to this day, but our actions were different which makes sense with his position as the first child and my place as the 2nd fiddle.
It was like that all the way through school. He was the cool, obnoxious, funny kid and I was, well, Nick’s brother. I played the role well and hid my feelings which most kids do and went on with it. What else was there to do.
But then my chance came to break out of the funk. A glimmer of hope to break free from the shackles of that existence. My big brother left for college.
So here I was, atop the mountain I so desperately was looking for. Finally, I took advantage. From afar you might not have noticed, but I knew there was a change. I was more outgoing, more sure of myself, and more the life of the party. See I too had quite a sense of humor, self-deprecating at times, and since I had forged my way as the “everyman”, I fit into many groups. I could hang with the athletes, spark conversations with the smart kids, and didn’t have a hard time talking to the girls (well unless it meant asking them out!). Still, some work needed to be done there.
What I noticed looking back is that I had built the tools in place to “win over” the crowds and be very likable and fit in almost anywhere.
I had learned emotional intelligence from being the quiet one and observing my surroundings.
I built my confidence slowly from working hard on my golf game and earning my own money through various jobs.
I learned empathy and compassion from hanging around with my grandparents
I learned to listen from watching a lot of interview TV from Regis and Kathie Lee, David Letterman, and Oprah.
It was only when the main obstacle was moved to the side that all of these things, that I didn’t really realize back then were strengths, came to life, and allowed me to open up as a person and spread my wings.
I think this can be a lesson for anyone out there struggling to find their own way. You may have what you need already to push forward and succeed but maybe there is that one obstacle standing in your way. Maybe it is the wrong job, wrong city, wrong group of friends, or something completely different. I got lucky that my big brother went to college, but you may have to pull back the layers a bit more to find what is holding you back.
Look at all the clues and whiteboard it if you have to but more times than not the most logical answer is probably the right one. The right answer may not be the one you want it to be but at least you have identified the problem and can take action to overcome it.
Once you get that boulder out of the way I’m confident that you too will be able to spread your wings and fly.
Before you go grab the latest and greatest sales book, understand you already have most of what you need to be successful at sales. You’ll learn a ton through experimental trial and error but I think a few suggestions below can get you started on an easier path as well.
In my opinion, I believe there are a lot of things early on that make sales hard for newer folks that don’t have to.
Too much information – product knowledge, value statements, sales playbooks and frameworks
Too much bad direction – poor training, unproven sales templates, bad call scripts
Bruised confidence – Overwhelming expectations, high activity metrics, poor personality fit in the role
There are good intentions behind all of these, especially from organizations facilitating these practices, but oftentimes it comes in the form of misguided or misinterpreted information and that can cause a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for reps, especially new to the game. Now, throw in all of the sales books out there that sales reps are suggested as they start down this path. A lot of this information and the strategies or practices are outdated and what has worked for some that wrote the books may not work for all using its teachings.
I personally believe there are other things you can do first to help you get on your way and be a more well-rounded sales professional.
Learn How To Write
Most sales are done through phone or email so those are the two powerhouses, to begin with. This is not about “sales tactics” or anything like that. This is about proper grammar, word usage, paragraph length, bullet points, and all other things around professional writing. It’s vital because you will write thousands of emails and other documents in your career. Learn how to write in a clearer form and this will help when you start slipping in your sales language. Also, it translates well into your spoken word.
My Suggestion: First, I’d take a few writing courses online for free or jump on YouTube and type in How To Write Better. It also doesn’t hurt to download the Grammarly plugin for Chrome as this will help instantly as you begin to type. Next, I’d look at the emails you write to people and which ones tend to get the most positive responses. Remember, the tone is very tough to pick up in an email so how you write can be taken in multiple ways if not structured correctly. That’s why I say positive responses. Also, emails tend to grab your attention from people. Are they short, bulleted, bolded, etc? Chances are, if they catch your eye then they probably will to your future clients as well.
Learn How To Listen
Listening is hard and can be much harder when you are trying to think about the next question to ask without paying attention to someone. Stop that. You’ll have plenty of time to ask questions and a gentle pause isn’t so bad. Being able to dissect a conversation and pick up the undertones of the language as well as the social awareness piece all at once is a masterful skill to have.
My Suggestion: There are a lot of ways to do this and it could be as simple as turning on a Podcast to try and observe the conversation or you might call a friend or family member and interview them. Try to catch yourself when you lose focus and attention as well as when you start to think ahead too much and forget to stay present in the discussion. It can be much easier to lose focus over the phone without someone watching you being visibly distracted so keep an eye on this.
Learn How To Learn
When was the last time you actually learned something new that you knew nothing about the topic beforehand? It’s a No for most people, too. However, the great thing is you can start today. Pick something you are curious about and learn about it. For instance, during my Dozen Months of Discovery, I learned Spanish for a whole month. My sessions with the tutor were really difficult especially the first few days but it got me attentive and feeling like a beginner learner again. You may even sign up to do a demo of a product you are interested in. Whatever gets you into the mindset of knowing nothing and then having to take in information for the first time.
My Suggestion: When you are demoing a product, think of the person on the other end that has no idea what your product does, how it could help them, or is able to visualize use cases to help a problem they might not even know they have. You have to do a great job of communicating properly and simply and your messaging has to help them come along for the ride otherwise you’ll lose them. By going through this prior, you’ll be able to anticipate the challenges the future client might have during the call and it will help you navigate better. (i.e- Slowing down, fewer mouse clicks, reiterating key points, pausing to ask questions and get clarity, etc.
Learn How To Get Uncomfortable
The best sales reps and leaders I’ve been around have taught me how important it is to “own the room” in any conversation. Sales conversations can get uncomfortable really quickly. You need to be confident in yourself and believe that the product can truly help the client to solve a problem they have. This is tough when you are new to sales because you get nervous or timid or fearful or (insert appropriate word here). Heck, even I have these feelings every now and then and I’ve been doing this for a dozen years.
My suggestion: Figure out how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Put yourself into situations when you get really nervous or anxious and try to navigate yourself through that process. Even if it’s a big struggle, you’ve grown a bit and it will help you on the next try. This could be as simple as asking a person out on a date randomly that you see out somewhere, taking an Improv class, or signing up for a Public Speaking course. Many of these options cost minimal dollars and the experience gained is priceless.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to deliberate skill practice and the beauty of all of these is that whether you choose to remain in sales or not, these are very transferable in almost any other career you go into.
So, think a bit differently as you look at a sales role. This can be valuable for anyone doing sales especially entrepreneurs or company founders and, yes, even seasoned sales professionals. You should always be looking to refine your skills and improve your communication and I hope some of this guidance will be a big help in your life.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions and I’m happy to be a resource.
I had a serendipitous conversation today that activated something in my brain which reflected on my time in high school woodworking. Yes, I took woodshop in high school and loved it.
I certainly wasn’t the best at measuring and cutting but I created some cool things. A Poker table with a beautiful Formica top. A breakfast chair that I believe my Dad still has in his house. I also made a Chalace with the lathe machine (it’s a machine where you secure a piece of wood and it spins very fast and you can chip away or sand down the object). I still have that Chalace somewhere, too.
And that’s what got me thinking about this call today.
I want to have all the answers to the puzzle from day one. I want to know the direction and the destination. I like having the “knowns” of the situation. It helps me.
But it’s not realistic.
Everyone reading this now is doing something very different today then they were doing 10-years ago. A different city, a different family situation, a different career/title, etc. We don’t have the playbook.
Life is like a game of backyard football, we mostly just improvise on the fly.
So that what got me thinking about my Chalace and the lathe machine back in high school woodshop. I had an idea of what I wanted but as I started to widdle the wood down it started to take a different form. Some spots I had to shave more than expected. Others were a bit harder and laborious. Sanding took way longer than expected.
I focused on the journey and experience of the process and had a “sort of” path to go down but nothing more. I didn’t know what or how to explain it then, but that is what I now call my “North Star”.
The North Star is your mission and vision of where you want to go but it’s just that, a vision. There is no flag in the ground saying “I’m going to be here at X date and be doing X”. Life doesn’t work that way. As long as you start down the path that is leading you toward your mission you’ll find your way. I think we all do, eventually. When you look all the way back later in life it’s really the moments of the journey that are most memorable and rarely the finish line.
Just keep chipping away at you “Chalace” and don’t get so caught up in the finished product but put a lot of focus and attention on the process and experiences you are building through it now.
In the end, whenever that happens to be, the stories and the experiences that shaped them turn out to be your legacy, and reaching the finish line becomes an afterthought.
I’ve followed Ray Dalio for many years and this is one of his cornerstones to a successful life.
Pain + Reflection = Progress
You need to go through bouts of pain and then add the element of reflection to the mix in order to grow to the next level.
As I pondered this more, I thought about my sales career and the sales professionals I’ve been around. We were always taught, as many in sales are, to find the “pain” with the prospect. Pull out the “pain” and you’ll be able to help them realize where you can help them.
But how many times do we take our own medicine?
A virtual show of hands… How many people have figured out where their “pain” is in their sales process or career and worked hard to improve that area?
I didn’t think so. I’ve been bad in this department as well.
What we found that “works” is solid and we continue to use it over and over. Same pitch. Same play. Same song and dance.
When have we stepped outside that comfort and got really nervous or awkward or silly in order to improve?
Maybe an SDR is struggling to get the right messaging on prospecting calls. When was the last time you did a role play and got really uncomfortable? When was the last time you actually asked a prospect what they thought of your approach? When was the last time…(insert your own curiosity)
Maybe it is someone that gets nervous with large groups in presentations. Instead of continuing down that road, have you considered Improv classes? Toastmasters? Volunteering at an event where you are thrust into speaking in front of people? Again, insert your own question here.
We are really good at getting to the “pain” of our future clients but have an extremely difficult time putting ourselves in that painful situation to improve first.
It sucks but it’s the only way.
My question to leave you with is this…
What one thing can you do this week to feel some pain but know that it will push you forward to new heights?
I’ve had a ton of interesting experiences in my life, and some, where I made wrong choices and had to do things over or I made them harder than they probably needed to be. I hardly looked at the choices I was making, how I was reacting to them, and where I could improve. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, I wish I had laid the pieces out and tried to fit them together to unlock the mystery.
Then I hit what I have affectionately called my “Renaissance Period” in my early 30s.
It has been a journey of deep learning and discovery filled with eye-opening lessons and revelations that have helped alter my path and set me on a more meaningful course for my life.
As I reflected and thought of the impression I wanted to make on the world, I was reminded of my grandmother, Nana Ro, as I called her. She was my everything and she taught me so many very subtle lessons that I didn’t realize until much later. She had been through a lot. She had witnessed pain. When she was in her mid-20’s and with two toddlers at home, the love of her life and father to her boys got killed in a car accident. She didn’t find out until a day later.
She had several miscarriages later in life, worked 3rd shift to make ends meet, and raised five children along the way. She deserved to take a break every once in a while. She deserved to get waited on like a Queen. But she never once complained about it. She was the epitome of servant-leadership.
For the years I knew her it was extremely rare for her to do anything first or for herself, especially when her grandkids were around.
She cooked dinner, we ate first.
We wanted to watch a TV show, she turned the channel.
She cooked Christmas cookies, we always ate them first (and found her hidden spot in the downstairs freezer and raided that as well)
I wish I realized this all in my younger years. It wasn’t until this Renaissance Period and deep reflection that I realized (very luckily) that some of this rubbed off on me and a whole bunch more of it needed to be refined. It took some work to iron out the learnings and apply them to my life. But here’s what I came up with. Simply put like Nana Ro would have done.
Feed others first that otherwise can’t feed themselves.
Translation – Many people, to no fault of their own, have a narrow view of the world, business, new technology, etc. and you have the opportunity to be the guide of information for them to open up a new way of thinking. You can help people help themselves by feeding their minds with creative ways of solving a problem or simply suggesting to them to ask the correct question to themselves to gain a new lens on the same situation. You need to do it with honesty and humility, however, as this is the way for people to start buying into those ideas but you have to let people be the hero of their own story and you are just the guide to get them to their destination.
Don’t be so polished and lighten the room up
Let the ego go! Nobody wants or needs the hard-ass and it doesn’t go over well anymore. I’m not saying to not be professional especially in business environments but try to be “business casual” in your encounters with most people. They’re human just like you and do you think they are as happy as they seem or don’t have 15 other things on their mind or even want to be at this particular job? So lighten up the room, have fun, be personable. It not only differentiates you from almost everyone else but you get more out of people that way. Being yourself builds trust and respect much quicker than putting on “a show”. Trust me, people can see right through the charade. Just stop it!
Bring a smile to everyone you encounter
Smile more often. Take the glass-half-full approach to life. There are a lot of bad times and challenging situations but you have a choice to make each and every day. You decide on the attitude you’re taking into your family life, your business, your workouts, and everything else that matters to you. Even though things may not be perfect, be the strong one that others can use for inspiration. I know it can be hard but looking at life through the positive lens ends up making it much easier and manageable. You somehow can breathe a bit more freely. The storm clouds seem to pass and the days just appear brighter. Trust me, it works, because I’ve tried it both ways.
Although I narrowed down to three bite-sized chunks, I learned so much from Nana Ro that I can’t put in one article. Some stuff I am still uncovering periodically as I reminisce about my childhood and the time I was lucky to spend with her.
I miss my Nana Ro very much. She passed away in the Spring of 2019 and I think about her often. I think about her kindness and the love she projected out into the world and hope she’d be proud of my mission and the impact I am trying to make on the world.
EPISODE 79: Creator/Host, Growth Mindset University
ALSO AVAILABLE ON THESE PLATFORMS
Episode 79 welcomes Author and Creator/Host of Growth Mindset University, Jordan Paris. It was fun to connect with Jordan and learn more about his journey around creating the Growth Mindset University and ultimately designing the life that he wants.
Jordan is also the founder of The WordPress Rocketeer, where he focuses on developing engaging websites to launch his clients’ dreams to infinity and beyond.
His approach to life and business is simple yet powerful: Don’t make a living, design a life. With this creator’s mentality, Jordan has been able to produce outstanding results for himself and challenge others to rise above circumstances and take control of their lives.