Transform Your Sales Career by Casting a Vision

I have been a salesman, and I never enjoyed it. What I really love to do is bless others and improve their lives. But recently, as I was reflecting on many of the things I am currently doing, I realized that in every endeavor, goods, services or money was changing hands.

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I am a salesman. It just doesn’t feel like it. What’s going on

Typical Salesman
If you see this salesman and you think, “Hey! That guy looks like me!” you might want to hire an image consultant.

here?” For the next few weeks, I let my mind explore this scenario. What I saw in each context, whether it was one of our businesses, ministry I was doing, or a combination of both, was this: I have a compelling vision for what I want to accomplish; it is something I am very passionate about; and I share that vision with other people. Voila!

If you have gone through the Dale Carnegie professional development course (I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to grow) you learn something very important about enthusiasm. It’s awfully contagious! When I explain my vision, I am very enthusiastic, because it’s something I am very passionate about. People I talk to like the vision, the enthusiasm would be “caught”, and often without even asking, they want to “come along”, which meant I would get a “sale” or “partner”.

This was fascinating, but when it really got exciting was the day I realized I could transfer these principles to other people in different industries. Here is how this came about:

VIsion Casting
You need a very clear idea of your vision before anyone else can get excited about it.

One of my best friends is in wealth management. He loves the industry, but he was hitting a wall when it came to getting new clients. I then realized that he was having the exact same issue I did when I was a salesman about 15 years ago. I know his life story quite well, so I decided to try to craft a “vision” based on his life and what I knew he could accomplish in other people’s lives. I did this early one morning and was so excited that I had to tell him before he went to work.

Rather than just try to “sell his services”, I asked what he thought about taking a different approach, using actual events from his life.

“I know what it is like to grow up poor. I wore second-hand clothes from the thrift store Inspire Memeto school, had worn out shoes, and every month my family struggled to pay the bills. It was not fun, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it. Most people have gotten financial help from their parents, but I have had to help mine out over the years. I have spent the past few years learning the world of investing from some of the best in the industry. Becoming a millionaire, something I used to think was almost impossible, is quite an attainable goal for most. It is my personal mission to help as many people as possible avoid the hardships that I faced, and in the next two years, I want to put 100 people on the path to becoming millionaires.”

That, my friends, makes me want to become a financial adviser! Helping 100 people become millionaires is something that would get almost anybody excited and if someone is not currently on that path, I bet you they want to get onto it as quickly as possible.

Here are the steps to help you create your own, unique vision to change the lives of others.

1.  Be “other-centered”, rather than self-centered
The story above was largely about my friend, but his mission was completely about Focus on othershelping other people. Will he benefit from helping them? Absolutely! But it is the by-product, and not the focus, of his mission.

2.  Craft a story and vision that gets YOU excited!
Whatever product or service you offer meets a need. How can it have a dramatic impact on others? If you can accomplish anything you want using what you offer to help others, what would that be?

Big dreams inspire others, so don’t hold back! You will know you are onto something when an idea makes your heart start beating faster. Follow that thread, and the excitement will start to grow. As soon as you have something you really like, you will have trouble keeping it to yourself.

3.  Make your vision better
Write your vision and story down and refine it. Once you have it where you want it, tell it to some of your close friends and family and allow them to tell you how it affects them. Listen to their feedback and make more improvements

4. Say “good bye” to the awkward world of traditional sales

Paper Trash
Don’t memorize a dry sales script. Listen with empathy, refine your story and speak from the heart.

You can now throw your dry “sales pitches” in the trash, because you are now casting a vision for a better future! You are showing other people how their lives can be improved and equipping them with a message that is memorable and easy to pass on. When people truly catch your vision and hear your enthusiasm, they will be excited to join you on the journey!

Let me know how you apply this approach and the effects it has on your business. If you need help crafting your own vision, I am here to help. And if you are not currently on the path to becoming a millionaire, and you want to be, I can absolutely connect you to the man who can lead you there!

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The Critical Connection between Optimism and Entrepreneurship

If you are currently pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor and are not optimistic about its outcome, please allow me, as your grossly underpaid business adviser to give you some advice. Don’t do it!

“Well thanks a lot for the encouraging words, Mr. Free Business Adviser Oh, and by the way….you’re fired!”

Not so fast, Mrs. Pessimistic Entrepreneur! Give me a chance to explain, and hopefullyHalf Fool even convert you from the Dark Side to the Light.

“Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit is…an optimist at heart. The desire to start a business, in and of itself, is optimistic. It’s a belief that you can do something to improve your situation and make a positive change in the world.” Ara and Nick, the authors of “The Lemonade Stand” believe that optimism is so critical for an entrepreneur that they make it the first of 13 principles explored in the book.

Your perspective and attitude as you build a new business will be one of the greatest determinants of its success. It is often the enthusiasm and amazing determination of a business founder that inspires the first few customers to take a chance and pay for his or her services. If that spark is lacking when you approach people, don’t expect them to believe in something that you don’t.

So if you do have pessimistic tendencies, does that mean that you are doomed to be a business failure?! I, with all of the authority of a free business adviser, can confidently assure you that you are not.

Here are a few steps you can take to start improving your attitude and perspective:

1.  Consume the good stuff!

Captain Optimism
Your attitude affects far more than your business life. It even affects your late night superhero battles that nobody knows about.

This is not a plea to encourage you to start drinking expensive wine. If you are going to change how you think, you have to change what you hear and read. You can start by replacing your gansta’ rap (gangsters are cocky NOT optimistic) with great podcasts from very successful (and yes, optimistic) entrepreneurs.

I daily consume the wisdom of the EntreLeadership podcast, The Brian Buffini Show, The Ken Coleman Show, and others. I can do it when I’m driving or working outside, so it takes no time away from other projects.They are a lot of fun, allow me to learn from amazing businessmen and women, and I get a lot of great book recommendations. If you want some from me, feel free to ask. I always have a book with me, so any time I have to wait, I get to read.

2.  Put on a pair of “entrepreneur shades”
Have you ever presented a great idea to someone and all they did was tell you all of the

Persol
Just imagine that the word “Entrepreneur” is neatly placed on the side. My wife does my graphics and she ain’t here. I tried, but it looked pathetic. No, I’m not being pessimistic!

obstacles and reasons your idea won’t work? Don’t be that guy! Every business idea encounters obstacles. But instead of viewing those as road blocks, with your new fancy sunglasses, you will see them as detours. And with each detour, you have the opportunity to make improvements in your business.

I recently helped a homeless shelter start a recycling facility. Initially I wanted to start with electronics, but after one meeting with an expert in the industry, I knew it would cost a fortune and take a really long time. There are so many regulations and certifications needed! But rather than getting discouraged, I set that idea on a mental shelf, and pursued a far more simple type of recycling to start with.

And the electronics recycling? We now do that too. All of those “obstacles” were wiped away with a single signature, when a major electronics recycling company saw what we were doing, loved it, and allowed us to partner with them. See how this works? No obstacles, just opportunities.

3.  Trade in some of your “downers” for “uppers”
“Birds of a feather flock together,” your mom said. My mom said it too, and even though

Red Blue Pill
The attitude you have each day is ultimately your choice. The more you choose one, the more natural it will become.

it drove us nuts, they were right. Based on that, if you need a change of attitude, you might need a change of friends as well.

Start by finding someone who people love to be around and asking them out to lunch. An optimistic entrepreneur would be ideal. Then you can improve your perspective AND learn. (If you live near Joplin, Missouri, I like Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Red Onion Espressoria, and Chick Fil-A, in that order. 😉  )

The more positive influences you add in your life, the more optimistic you are going to become. And if you want to use your gifts and passions to change your family, your community, or even the world, YOU have to truly believe you can or you will never give it everything you’ve got.

 

The Shotgun or Sniper Rifle: Scattered vs. Focused

Are you going in a million directions every day, or are you laser-focused? It’s most likely the former, because unless you have deliberately gone through a process of focusing your life, our default mode is disorganized.

Essentialism Energy

However, there there is a step-by-step process for transforming your life from the image on the left to the image on the right. In Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he takes you through the following steps and covers much more:

1.  How to choose the things that are most important in your life

Essentialism Book

2.  How to say “No” to the things that are not the best use of your time

3.  How to decide where you can have the greatest impact

4. How to execute in that area

Don’t let other people make decisions for you. Take the time to choose what is most important in your life and start moving in that direction!

A Life Lesson from Zorro….?

If you saw him performing with his lifelong friend Lenny Kravitz, you would assume he Zoro and Lennywas just like any other world class rock star….and boy would you be wrong!

Zoro the Drummer is an anomaly, an outlier, an exception. You get the point. And his story is nothing short of phenomenal! Growing up in abject poverty to a single Christian mother, he discovered his passion for drumming at the age of 6. He then spent his life pursuing his passion relentlessly, while never leaving his Christian roots behind.

Zoro“Your days are limited, but your good deeds are not,” Zoro said in an interview with Ken Coleman, the host of the Entreleadership podcast. He not only knows that truth, but he lives it everywhere he goes. Zoro orders inspirational books by the thousands and gives them away, along with extra autographed drumsticks he keeps on hand, to fans everywhere he goes. He is also an author, (his most recent book Soar: 9 Proven Keys for Unlocking Your Limitless Potential will soon be in my library) speaker, fearless evangelist and has his own ministry (http://www.zoroministries.org/).

“What is your point?!” you ask.

It is simply this (and I think Zoro would agree). Whatever gifts or talents you possess were not given to you for your enjoyment. They were given to you to provide a platform unique only to you, so that you can use them to bless and encourage others.

For years, I have been an entrepreneur, starting many different kinds of businesses. But

Worthshop Gang
This is a crew of workers at a recycling facility I helped start to provide jobs for the homeless.

making money never has been enough for me. It is only in the last few years that I have pinpointed my sweet spot, that place where I love what I am doing and have the greatest impact. I use the business gifts God has given me and I have worked to develop to help non-profits and ministries to develop entrepreneurial ventures to fund themselves and provide jobs, especially for the homeless. I also love teaching what I learn to others, which is why I started writing consistently.

Where you are and what you can do are not incidental. They are both a part of God’s plan for your life, and as soon as you recognize that and start looking for opportunities to bless others, your work and your life will take on a new level of meaning and fulfillment!

*You can meet Zoro and hear his amazing story here: https://www.entreleadership.com/podcasts/207-zoro-the-drummerwhy-the-world-nee

Circuit Boards and Tropical Storms

Last Monday I would have chain-smoked all day long…if I were a smoker. It was so intense and I was so distracted that I kept doing stupid stuff, like walking out of my gym (which requires a key card to get in) without my keys. I had to bang on the door until someone heard it and let me back in. My wife, Nicole, had a very similar day. Hers probably got downright dangerous, because being an artist, she’s typically pretty scatterbrained. (Don’t you dare tell her I said that!)

All we could do is think and pray for my family in Houston, as hour by hour, the water

Flooded Street
Water in their street (which does not normally flood) was waste deep.

crept closer to their house. That morning we had offered to rush down with the truck and our largest enclosed trailer, but within a couple of hours they were completely inaccessible and we would have probably ended up being one more stranded vehicle on a flooded highway. So, from 9 and a half hours away, we waited, worried and prayed.

As I was leaving the house that evening for Cub Scouts with our son, Thatcher, Nicole showed me a picture taken from my parent’s front porch of a rescue boat driving down their street to take a pregnant lady to safety. Looking down at the ground, I could clearly see the water line. It was six feet from their front door. And the rain just kept falling.

I can’t remember a day when I prayed that much, but I’m pretty ashamed of myself. Why? Because I allowed my prayers to be limited by what I thought was possible. “Lord, please keep the water out of their house and keep them safe.”

“Oh, ye of little faith.” Yep, that was me.

The next morning, as soon as I woke up I texted my mom.

“Mom, what is the water level?!” My heart was racing as I waited for her response, fearing the worst.

“All of the water is gone!” she said.

Dry Street
Even though it rained off and on all night, by morning it was all gone. When I asked my mom how that happened, she said, “I have no idea! To me it was a miracle.”

“All of the water is gone!” I hollered upstairs to Nicole and the kids as my eyes teared up. She sent me a picture, and the same street that had a boat in it last night did not even have a puddle.

“Thank you so much, Lord.” I thought to myself repeatedly. I sure wish I had prayed for all of the water to miraculously disappear. But I just didn’t think it was possible. In retrospect, this reminded me of a powerful principle I live by….typically. Here it is:

In any given situation or pursuit, first decide what is ideal with a deliberate disregard for what is or is not possible. Once you decide what that is, go for it! If you are doggedly persistent, you will watch as paths form around obstacles that before seemed completely insurmountable.

The first meeting I had when pursuing the idea of a recycling facility for Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission (which would provide work for the homeless and funding for the ministry) was with a lady who had worked for the government in the recycling industry for almost 20 years. She has been an invaluable resource along the way. My initial objective was to focus on electronics recycling, but as she listed government regulation after government regulation related to that industry, my heart fell. It would cost a fortune and take ages!

I left the meeting despondent, but as in similar circumstances with other businesses I have started, I don’t give up. I simply re-route. In my mind, I have a set of shelves (I literally see them when I do this) and I took electronics recycling in my hand as if it was an object, and set it on the shelf. If something gets put on the shelf, it means that it is a good idea, but the timing is not right.

We did get the recycling facility going via a far less complicated and expensive

Worthshop Gang
This is just some of the people who are put to work on a daily basis in the recycling facility.

road. I then decided to take electronics recycling off the shelf and see if its time had come.

I made a call to my local recycling expert to find the most reputable electronics recycling company in our region.

“That would be ESCO,” Mary Anne said. “They are based out of Rogers, Arkansas. The owner is really nice and honest and I bet they would be willing to answer your questions.”

The day after I talked to the receptionist at ESCO, a great guy named Adam gave me a call. I told him what we were doing and said I was wanting to learn more about the world of electronics recycling.

Adam
This is Adam from ESCO, giving Gregg and me a lesson in the sorting process of e-recycling.

He volunteered to come to Joplin and while here, gave us some basic instructions, then extended an invitation for  my good friend Gregg (who runs the Worth Shop where this takes place, and my fellow co-conspirator throughout this process) and me to tour their facility.

I was pretty excited about the tour, but more excited about the possibilities. When I was alone, I would think and allow my mind to dwell on the ideal. I didn’t waste a thought on what was likely, what obstacles there were, or what was possible. To put it another way, I allowed myself to DREAM.

When we arrived at their facility, it was enormous! We had to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) to tour their 275,000 square foot facility. I’d love to tell you all about it, but, well…the NDA had me give them a picture of Nicole, so I’m pretty sure she would go missing if I did. 😉

At the end of the tour, he took us into the conference room and the three of us sat down. It was obvious he had something on his mind.

“We do not deal with individuals,” Adam said. “When we receive and send shipments, it is by the semi-load. Our biggest client is WalMart, and we do not have time for small accounts.”

I was not sure where he was going with this, but it wasn’t looking good.

“But I have been talking with the owner, and we LOVE what you guys are doing at Watered Gardens! What can we do to help you succeed?”

This is exactly the possibility I had considered. No, this was the exact possibility that I had allowed myself to dream. And I knew EXACTLY what to ask for.

“If there is any way that we can be legally placed under your umbrella of legitimacy, along with all of your certifications, accreditation, etc., that would be ideal. That would allow us to confidently approach businesses and the community, so they will know that their computers and electronics will be properly handled,” I explained.

“We will draw up the legal paperwork and send it to you,” Adam responded, as if it wasn’t a big deal at all. But to us, it was HUGE!

Printer
This sweet young lady is breaking down a printer received from The City of Diamond, MO. Even though she ended up covered in ink, she kept on going because she was having a blast!

Two weeks later, the paperwork arrived, and with the time it took to write one’s name, every single obstacle that made opening a legitimate electronics recycling facility impossible was decimated.

Since then, we have picked up computers from a Fortune 500 company, small businesses, and even, get this…government agencies.

Don’t waste your time, my friend, worrying about what is possible. Let your mind go to that place where your heart comes alive; where there is no limit to what you can accomplish. Let yourself DREAM! And then pursue that dream with everything you have.

Grumpy? It Might be Time for a New Job

It is my theory that a man’s grumpiness is largely related to how much he dreads his job.

grumpy-cat
I’ve always wanted to use a cat picture for something!

I have tested this theory on many people. When I find out someone has recently landed a job they love, I make a point to ask his or her spouse if they are less grumpy in the evenings. Every single time, the answer has been, “You know…he is!”

Unfortunately, I did not learn about this from a lecture, or read a Malcolm Gladwell book that referenced a study called “Nocturnal Grumpiness and its Direct or Inverse Causal Relationship to Occupational Contentedness”. No…I learned about it by trying to understand why I, a person who has lived most of my life extremely happy, was becoming a “grumpy not-even-old-yet man”.

As adults in the workplace, most of our time is spent, well…in the workplace. If we look forward to it, then the evenings can often be enjoyed. But if we dread it, it will gradually take a toll on us. In the back of our minds will linger the thought of the unpleasant day that is dawning with the sun. If the dread of work is new, it is pretty easy to spot. But if we have lived with it for a long time, the actual source of our psychological discomfort becomes vague and is replaced with a general grumpiness.

There is a reason the Nazis would have people in the concentration camps spend all day digging a trench, and spend the next day filling it back in; then start the next day doing the same exact thing. It was completely purposeless, and it aided in psychologically destroying those performing the work.

The reason is simple: we were all specifically designed to fulfill a purpose. And not just that, we were designed to fulfill a purpose that is truly significant, and unique to who we, as individuals, are.

I could quote books, articles, the Scriptures, etc., to back up the findings of my very un-scientific research. But we all intuitively know this to be true. Look back over the past few years and think of times when something you did brought you a sense of fulfillment, or even joy.  If you examine those times more closely, I would wager that you will discover some underlying purpose to that work that really meant something to you.

Identify that purpose and you will get a glimpse into your unique makeup; and with that, the start of your criteria when looking for your new occupation.

Life can be very rich, but all of that richness can be taken from us when we spend much of our time grumpy. And even though you probably can’t step into a purposeful and fulfilling job tomorrow, you can start the journey today.

Happy trails!

“They’ll All Laugh at You!”

“Did he care what people thought of him? Maybe. But not enough to keep him from doing what was right.”*

If your life is going to have a dramatic impact on others, on your community, or especially on your culture, you would want the same to be said of you.

The context Dr. Emil Freirich used his fearlessness to revolutionize was a children's leukemia ward.
The context Dr. Emil Freirich used his fearlessness to revolutionize was a children’s leukemia ward.

There are crossroads that each of us will come to where we know what we should do, see that no one else is doing it, know people will think we are nuts, and have to decide if we are going to do it anyway.

The single factor that stops so many would-be great leaders is that they know others will think less of them. Then they stand down. They conform. They take the one thing that is truly unique about themselves and tuck it away on a shelf, because they know that it is so new and so unique that initially, people won’t know what to do with it. That makes people uncomfortable. When you make people uncomfortable they don’t like it and therefore don’t like you. Just ask Jesus.

Untold thousands of children have enjoyed full lives since the brave work of Dr. Emil Freireich.
Untold thousands of children have enjoyed full lives since the brave work of Dr. Emil Freireich.

How passionate are you about doing what you know to be right? Can you take the heat, the criticism, even the mockery? If you can, the sky’s the limit. You might very well be the one to revolutionize your industry, your ministry, your community, or even your family.

 

*This quote was said about Dr. Emil J. Freireich, a now renowned physician who risked everything from his reputation to his career to implement groundbreaking new practices in the treatment of childhood leukemia. You will be able to read his amazing story in my upcoming post.