October 9th, 2014
Without question, the single biggest influence on my life has been my father. Through his words and actions, he taught me a lot about sales, business and life. On the occasion of his birthday, here are a few of the lessons that have shaped me.
1. Find opportunities and go after them
My father has always been entrepreneurial, dating back to when he was a kid. He would buy packs of gum at the store and sell individual pieces to his classmates in school for a nice profit. I followed in his footsteps, although selling candy bars instead of gum. My dad is a big believer that there are opportunities everywhere—you just have to find them and make the most of them.
2. You are responsible for your own success
Our family was never wealthy—and there were some lean years—but my father never blamed others or asked for handouts. And he wouldn’t let me get away with blaming anyone else for my mistakes or failures. He impressed upon me that everyone is ultimately responsible for their own success. No one is entitled to anything. It’s why I started selling door-to-door at the age of seven. If your sales aren’t where you’d like them to be, don’t blame your product, your boss or the market. Look in the mirror. And then do something about it.
3. Be generous
Please don’t get the idea from the previous paragraph that my dad is selfish or unsupportive. Quite the opposite is true. He’s generous with his time, his effort and his money. He’s generous toward his family, his friends and his customers. He understands that giving is more important than getting. And often our generosity comes back to us in ways we could never imagine.
4. Ask questions
Conversations with my father are always interesting. Not because of the things he says, but because of the questions he asks. He’s not looking to impress, he’s looking to learn. About prospects, about the economy, about people, about life. It forges stronger connections with the people he talks to and gets him valuable information. It’s why I stress the importance of asking questions in my sales training seminars.
5. Stay positive
My dad smiles a lot. And he always has a kind word or a compliment for everyone he meets. When he visits clients, you can actually see them perk up because of his presence. I’m not sure if my positive attitude was inherited or if I just unconsciously imitated him growing up, but either way, it has served me well. Because buyers prefer to do business with people who are positive.
6. Know your priorities
When my parents got divorced, my father lost his car, his house and his business. But he got full custody of me and my brother. We were what he cared about most. What’s most important to you? That’s what defines your success.
7. Do whatever it takes
After the divorce, my dad worked multiple jobs to support the three of us. He was willing to do whatever it took to make sure we had what we needed. And he has always maintained the same approach with his customers, often going above and beyond to take care of their needs. Are you willing to do whatever it takes?
You won’t find my father on the cover of Forbes or in any Who’s Who, but he’s a great man and a true success.
Happy Birthday, Dad. And thanks.