Ruined For Life – Only Read If You Are Ready To Hate Tom Hopkins (And Me) Forever

I hate Tom Hopkins! Seriously…. Yes, I’m talking about THAT Tom Hopkins. The same Tom Hopkins who is the renowned sales trainer, author and motivational speaker. He ruined me for life and I can’t begin to tell you how much it has impacted me and my family.  Every day Tom’s words haunt me and make me do things I don’t want to do. I’m warning you right now: If you continue to read this article, there will be many days in the future that you hate me like I hate Tom.

Tom Hopkins Laughing

Are you serious? You are still reading? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

About 17 years ago, someone gave me a set of Tom Hopkins’ sales training tapes. Being new to sales, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. About halfway through listening to his program I heard Tom utter these exact, unrelenting, miserable, utterly convicting words, “I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.”  I stopped the tape and felt a disturbance in the force.  Surely I had heard Tom wrong, or he meant if differently than I was understanding him. He didn’t really expect people to actually live like that did he? So quickly I hit re-wind to listen again.

This time he sounded like he was taunting me, I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” I was stunned. I was agitated and confused. Was he suggesting I could no longer watch every inning of every Seattle Mariners game? I mean, I know that wasn’t productive, but I work hard and deserve some down time…….

For the last 17 years that phrase, I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” has swirled around my noggin forcing me to make decisions and take actions that I am uncomfortable with. Sitting on my butt, surfing the internet, and setting my fantasy football lineup is much more comfortable than cold calling. Being proactive in leading my team through conflict resolution isn’t comfortable either, but it is productive.

So is Tom Hopkins saying you can’t ever relax? Of course not. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is engage in true “RE-creation.” Spending quality time with people you love in a relaxing atmosphere can often leave you unbelievably recharged and raring to go! But is watching 4 hours and 13 minutes of television a day helping you reach your goals? (BTW: According to The Wall Street Journal the average American adult spends 4 hours and 13 minutes watching television per day.)

The following is a list of things I do differently today because I heard Tom say, I must do the most productive thing possible at every given moment.” If you want to join the truly productive crowd, I might suggest you consider making these changes too!

How Tom Hopkins Impacted My Life

  • I watch dramatically less TV. Instead of 4 hours a day, I often don’t watch 4 hours a week. And if I do, It is ALL TIVOed. (God invented TIVO so that you don’t have to waste time watching commercials.)
  • I read at least an hour per day. This one practice has driven my career further than anything else.
  • I don’t hold grudges. Worrying about how someone has hurt you or staying angry at someone else only hurts you and oftentimes the person you are so mad at doesn’t even know that you are mad.
  • I don’t do things that I don’t like doing. Life is too short to mow my lawn. I can pay someone else to do it and use the time for something much more productive.
  • I have learned to delegate. Some things must be done only by me, but that list is a lot shorter than I would like to admit.
  • I don’t worry about the future. My favorite quote about this is, “Worry is like interest paid in advance on a debt that never comes due.”
  • I don’t wait for the future. I lost my mom at age 57. She was a history minor who desperately wanted to explore Europe when she retired. She lost her battle to cancer 8 years before she could retire. The bible says that tomorrow is not promised, so my wife and I have made it our policy to “go now!”
  • I’ve stopped trying to make everyone happy. John Maxwell says that it’s not your job to make everyone happy. That’s the job of a clown. Full disclosure: I’m still struggling here. Just as an alcoholic is never cured, but is in recovery, I too am a recovering people pleaser. “Hi my name is Tim, and I’m a people pleaser…..”
  • I’ve stopped teaching pigs to sing. I can’t begin to tell you the amount of time, energy and effort I have wasted in my life trying to get people to go on a journey they didn’t really want to go on. I’m over it! The reason you can’t drag people to success is exactly the same reason you shouldn’t try to teach a pig to sing: All it does is waste your time, and annoy the pig.


Conclusion: Maybe it’s time to look at those things that are killing your productivity. Remember, time is the only resource you own that can’t be replenished. How you use it is critical to your success.

Question: Do you hate Tom Hopkins as much as I do for making you push yourself? Leave your answer below in the comments section.

Tim Martin

    Tim has spent the last 22 years in the VB sales world. During that time he has recruited and trained over 2,000 agents to get people to do what they should, but wouldn't do if we didn't come along. In addition to his leadership rolls at the two largest VB carriers on the planet, Tim has worked with outside organizations through consulting and sales coaching. His energetic and humorous key note addresses have also inspired and electrified audiences throughout the United States. Currently Tim is also working on his first book "Success Is Voluntary."

    Tim and the lovely Dizzy D reside in Peoria, Arizona. They have been married for 29 years and are the proud parent of two gorgeous grown young women, Brittny 27 and Victoria 25.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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    6 thoughts on “Ruined For Life – Only Read If You Are Ready To Hate Tom Hopkins (And Me) Forever

    1. I can certainly relate to your article. Tom’s training changed my life in the late seventies. I went from a sales person who had no idea how he closed a sale to a salesperson who knew precisely how and when to close a sale. His basic “how to” training can fit any product.
      My biggest struggle from your list is making myself stop trying to teach pigs to sing. After learning the concepts Tom teaches I believed that anyone could and would succeed in sales if they just followed the basic rules of prospecting and closing techniques. Working with AFLAC and with Colonial in the past caused me much frustration when attempting to get unwilling people to do just the simplest of prospecting, presentation, and closing tasks.
      I am still working on learning to let people fail when they are unwilling to do the job, but it is still frustrating to see people with great natural talent squander their opportunity.
      Thank you for the article and thank you for the title of the article. I opened and read it with the anticipation of having to defend Tom, but you were right on.

      • Frank,

        Thank you for your insight into training new agents. You are absolutely right about the frustration level that watching people with all the talent in the world struggle to do the the simplest of things. If they are unwilling to concentrate on the basics, they are in for a very short, miserable experience in their insurance career.

        I have lead nearly 100 sales managers in my career and this subject is something that we all struggle with. We (as the leader of the new agent) can’t want their success more than they want it. Conversely, I think it is the job of leadership to help the people we lead to see and unlock the potential they possess. This creates a fine line between pushing our agents to stretch and dragging them to success. We MUST do the first and avoid the latter.

        Wishing you (continued) success!


    2. One of my biggest take aways from Tom was his story about the cherry tree. I have carried that story throughout my 25 year career in voluntaries. If you can identify a prospect’s cherry tree, he/she will lead to a sale almost every time.
      @ Frank Bates- I learned a long time ago that one of the most valuable lessons I could teach a new trainer was that they cannot want success more for a new rep than the rep wants it for themselves. Match their energy and their drive., but wanting it more for them than they do is a lesson in futility. And it’s a hard lesson to learn.

      • Jody, Thank you for your comments! Could you please explain the cherry tree story. I know it, but most of the people reading probably don’t…. Thanks!!!