This is my first podcast in 4 years! I can’t think of a better guest to kick off 2018 than with one of the smartest sales trainers on the planet, Anthony Innarino. I was so bummed when I had recorded this interview in 2014 and then wasn’t able to publish it. The good news is that Anthony absolutely crushed it and I can’t wait to share it with you!
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” ~ Oscar Wilde, Writer
Have you ever been kicked in the cajones? Either literally or figuratively, we have all been kicked in that most sensitive place from time-to-time. …
In late October of 2014 I received a call from my supervisor, at 6:30 a.m. while I was working out….. (By the way, getting a call from your boss before 7:00 am is NEVER good news…) He started by saying, “Guess what we need to talk about?” When I told him I had no idea, he said, “Upper management is very concerned about your blog and podcast.” His main purpose was to let me know that we had to attend a conference call that afternoon with HR. (Again, not great news… I have yet to be invited to a conference call with HR where good news was shared…)
When the appointed time came, the very nice HR specialist and my boss told me, in no uncertain terms, that the company was not happy with me and my blog/podcast. They felt that I was teaching competitors how to sell Voluntary Benefits. (Technically true as I don’t ask or care what company my subscribers work for. Success Is Voluntary is “carrier agnostic.”) They also told me that they hated the fact that SIV was “carrier agnostic.” They felt that as a corporate employee of their company that I should not acknowledge the competition or the things they did right. They pointed out the fact that I had featured a picture of a sales team from their main competitor listening to the Success Is Voluntary Podcast as part of their Monday Morning Meeting (Brandon Smith ROCKS!!!)
Later that day I received a “Final Notice” stating that continuing the blog/podcast would result in termination.
Have you ever taken a red-eye flight across the country to say goodbye to a friend who is dying? That’s exactly what I did five days ago on Easter Sunday. Bill Ball, my 44 year-old best friend, was in ICU at the Cleveland Clinic and his body was betraying him after battling leukemia and being hospitalized for the last four months. He was in full-blown organ failure. Other than his heart, kidneys, liver, and bone marrow, the rest of his body was doing great. But apparently those organs are somewhat important, at least according to the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic. Who knew?
Before we go any further, I want you to know that Bill has rallied big-time in the last 72 hours! He is out of ICU and all of his organ are responding, including his kidneys. (I haven’t been that excited to see someone peeing since my kids were potty training.) He still has a long row to hoe, but his doctors are now very encouraged (and encouraging) that he will be back on track by the end of next week. If things go as planned, he will have a bone marrow transplant then and be on the road to recovery.
So what does this story have to do with success and sales? EVERYTHING!!!
In Allen Iverson’s infamous 2002 rant, he said “We’re talking about practice…” 17 times in just 1 minute and 39 seconds. If you haven’t seen the video, it is embedded below. (Just click the picture of Allen to watch.) Allen attempted to minimize the fact that he had missed a practice by saying that he always answered the bell when the game was being played. Allen claimed that he understood that he was supposed to be a role model for his team mates and lead by example. But he also intimated that HE didn’t need to practice anymore…. That he had arrived. Allen was dead wrong, and so are you if you think you can skip “practice” and just turn it on during the game.
Malcolm Gladwell suggested in his book Outliers that to get world-class at something it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice/performance. I’m sure Allen has his 10,000 hours in, but to stay world-class you must continue to work on building your skills. As anyone who has been stupid enough to take up the game of golf will tell you, you can’t work on your swing/game while PLAYING golf. You must pay the price on the practice range.
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It’s not uncommon in our world to applaud workaholics. Hold them up as heroes. You’ve seen this type of highly charged entrepreneur or independent salesperson. They race around, cantankerously announcing that they are exhausted, so busy, swamped, slammed. They’ll tell you there isn’t enough time to get everything done. They think they’re successful, you think they’re successful, and they definitely seem prosperous to the world. But, if you think about it, that really doesn’t make much sense. You can only TRULY be successful if you can actually reap the benefits of your hard work.
Look, I’m probably the last one that should point fingers. I ran 60 – 70 hours a week for close to two decades, never taking a true vacation. (A cell phone or beeper was always strapped to my side.) When I began to take stock of my life, I realized that I had not taken a vacation longer than 7 days since I’d begun my commission-selling career in 1979. I’m not sure I was completely present to my wife and daughter during my go-go years. I still struggle with that now, even in semi-retirement.