#028: Joe Buzzello Transcript – “Genius”

Host: Tim Martin
Guest: Joe Buzzello
Episode 028: Genius
January 10, 2018

Genius Work Diagram

Download pdf Transcript HERE

Welcome to Success is Voluntary, a podcast devoted to helping you become the salesperson you were always meant to be, where it’s all about helping you learn the techniques and tools that will enable you to win in the increasingly competitive world of voluntary benefits. Welcome your host, a guy who has hired and trained over 2,000 voluntary benefit salespeople in his career, Tim Martin. Success is Voluntary, selling voluntary benefits.

Tim Martin: Yes, my name is Tim Martin, and you are listening to episode number 028 of Success is Voluntary. I couldn’t be more excited to have my next guest on. My good friend, Joe Buzzello, is nationally recognized. He’s an expert in sales, entrepreneurial growth, and sales leadership. He has been selling for over 40 years, and a lot of it has been in individual and business to business. He has built $100 million business units for Fortune 500 companies, served in executive-level leadership positions, and has been inducted into AFLAC’s sales hall of fame.

Since he stepped away from leadership with Fortune 500 companies, his personal professional efforts have gone into writing and speaking. He also coaches sales, entrepreneurial, and leadership professionals. In 2015, Joe released a book, a great book, designed to assist sales people and trainers. The book and training workshops are entitled The CAP Equation: A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales. Joe’s book was an Amazon Best Seller and is a must-have in many sales organizations throughout the United States.

Joe maintains a website at www.joebuzzello.com. Without further ado, here’s Joe. Good morning, Joe!

Joe Buzzello: Good morning, Tim!

Tim: Thanks for stopping by. I think this is your third appearance on this show, so either a) you really like me, b) you really have nothing better to do, or c) you’re just a glutton for punishment.

Joe: Well, actually it’s early in the morning, so I have nothing better to do, and by that I mean that this is probably the best thing I could do (talk to you), because I do like you. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment. All of us salespeople and entrepreneurs are leaders. We love the sound of our own voice, so who wouldn’t want to wake up in the morning, talk to a nice person like you, get interviewed, and get exposure? I have nothing better to do, and what I mean by that is there’s nothing better than this.

Tim: Well, thank you, Joe. That’s very nice of you. Like I said, you’ve been on a couple of times, and I did introduce you in the intro here. I guess that’s a little bit redundant, but I did give a little bit of your background in the open, but why don’t you tell our audience a little bit how you got started in sales over 35 years ago. Right?

Joe: Yeah, it was. It was actually in the summer of 1978. I was 17 years old. I write about this in the opening chapters of the next book I’m releasing which is called Life in Sales: Volume 1.

Tim: Wait a second! That is the name of the book, but I think you have the longest subtitle in the history of subtitles. It’s Mentors, Saints & Sinners – Wisdom, Truth & Lies, and The Incredible Lessons Learned. Boy! That is intriguing, and you were kind enough to send me over an advanced copy of it. I got to tell you it was exciting. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to cut you off, but you talk about it in your new book coming out.

Joe: I’m such a wordy person, and I don’t feel the need to edit myself anymore. When you’re my age and you have had some success… I’m kind of an artist. I don’t consider myself a fantastic writer, although I think I’m a very good writer, but I really like to say what I like to say, so I’m challenged by some of the comments from professional editors, but I do get wordy. Yes, that subtitle for Life in Sales… Mentors, Saints & Sinners.

Haven’t we all had mentors, people who were just great to have in our lives when we needed them to help us and push us in a certain direction? We’ve had saints, people who sacrificed for us. I think of my mother and father. Then, we had the sinners. We had people who tried to take advantage of us and what they delivered to us is the second line of the subtitle. Wisdom, tremendous wisdom from the mentors in our lives, and truths from people who loved us enough to tell us the truth about ourselves. Then, those sinners lied to us.

What I do in the book is I call out. I tell in a very transparent way some very, very interesting and very true stories about what happened in the early part of my sales career (the first four or five years of my sales career), but I call out at the end of each chapter… It’s kind of like you tell the story, and as we know great salespeople are great storytellers, but then you have to stop telling your story at some point and say, “The point is…” or “What I learned from this is…”

That’s what I do at the end of every chapter. I say, “This is what I learned from that.” If you were reading, you probably got that. The lesson was kind of cloaked in the story, and here’s what it is. I deliver the lessons from each little vignette or story. It’s a teaching book. It’s not just a book of funny stories and incredible stories, but it’s actually a teaching book as well, so thanks in advance for your review of the book. I can’t wait to receive your review, and I hope it’s a good one.

Tim: It will be. I can’t wait to send it to you but also get it up on Amazon when the book is released. I love how you do end each chapter. You really do stick the landing, so to speak. For some of us who aren’t quite as bright sometimes the lesson goes flying by, so it’s nice to circle back and make it obvious. I appreciate that.

Joe: Exactly, but getting back to your question…How did I get started in sales? I’ll give you the short-story version. I’ll try not to be wordy. It happened in the summer of 1978. I graduated high school. I was contemplating going to community college. That didn’t work out for me. I just wasn’t led to do that. I was a night manager of a liquor store on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks in Sacramento Valley, a suburb in southern California.

My dad said, “This is not a real job. You’re now 17 years old and almost 18. You’ve graduated high school. You need to go get a real job.” Those were his words, with a Camel non-filter cigarette dangling from his lips. He delivered me a newspaper. We didn’t have the Internet. Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet, so he delivered me the Valley News, the classified section. He delivered me a pen and a highlighter, and he said, “Go to work.”

I went to the sales part of the classifieds because I felt I could keep my hands clean. I’m not really structured for physical labor, so I went to sales. People kept telling me… It’s funny. I don’t know if anyone ever told you this growing up, Tim, but people used to tell me, “You’d be good in sales because you like to debate points and you like to convince people of things.” I heard that. Did you ever hear anything like that when you were a kid?

Tim: Oh, my gosh! Absolutely. My mom said it to me all of the time and, of course, I didn’t accept it and tried to do everything else. At 32, going through a business bankruptcy, I finally relented and fell backward into sales. Boy! I haven’t looked back.

Joe: When you hear that, especially when it’s a parent, you want to do the opposite, but I had a lot of good friends tell me, “You love to debate,” so I circled this ad for Universal Ford, the home of low prices, on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood, and they hired me immediately, and they sent me down to the California DMV to get my auto sales license which you needed at the time. They gave that to just about everyone. As long as you were outside of a prison they would give you a car sales license. If you were inside a prison, I think it just took longer.

Tim: It was contingent upon your release.

Joe: Yeah. I started selling and leasing Fords in the summer of 1978. That’s how I got started in sales.

Tim: Wow! You’ve come through this whole process, and again, it’s outlined in your book. Actually, this is Volume 1. This first book takes you up to 1982.

Joe: Yeah. The first volume was actually a short period of time (only four and a half years), but it was so foundational and there were so many interesting experiences and critical lessons that it really filled a volume and I didn’t want to shortchange people, so I just decided to break up my career in several volumes.

I have it outlined that it’s slated for three volumes, and every one will have a very different character and feel, but the early lessons were some of those lessons that stick and I still use those teachings and lessons and experiences today. I still fire back on them. It was a very short period of time in Volume 1, and it ends in the summer of 1982.

Tim: I assume those early foundational years really set you up, like you said, for a long-term period of sales. About five years ago you introduced me to this expression, genius work. Could you kind of flesh out exactly what you mean by genius work and how you’ve kind of evolved that for yourself?

Joe: Yes. That’s a great question. I use that term, genius work, a lot, and I assume if we start to use a phrase a lot we tend to make the assumption that people know what it means, but let me break it down for a moment. That’s a great question. Genius work to me (the way I use that phrase) means a combination of the work you really like and you truly enjoy that gives you energy when you get up in the morning.

I consider this to be part of my genius work and, probably as well as I know you, part of your genius work as well. We just love talking to other really smart people and having thought partners and being in a think-tank situation. Genius work is first and foremost made up of the work you really love and you really truly enjoy.

It gives you power. It gives you passion. It gives you energy. It gets you up out of the bed. It gets you rolling out of bed in the mornings instead of rolling over and staying in bed. You combine that with a work that you actually do well. Genius work is a combination of work you love and work you’re pretty good at.

This is interesting. Let me give you an example. It’s a great example. I actually really love strumming my guitar. I have a very nice Martin guitar, and I really like playing. I know you’ve actually taken some lessons, and you’re advanced well beyond my expertise. I’m going to be honest with you. I don’t really play the guitar very well.

I can form two and a half chords on a good day. Occasionally, some sounds come out of the guitar that people will nod their head and say, “That’s not bad,” but their next statement is, “Can you please stop?” I can clear a room with my classical guitar playing. I really like playing the guitar, but I’m not very good at it.

Let me give you an example of the other part of this equation or element. Here’s something I’m really good at but I don’t like. I’m really actually good at task-type manual labor work. Another example of this is from a few weeks ago. We’re doing this big construction project in our backyard.

Our general contractor said, “We’re going to come in here and dig for septic. We’re going to dig for gas,” because even though we’re in the middle of Scottsdale, Arizona, we have a horse property of over an acre. It’s rural, so we’re not tied to sewer or gas. I’m building a casita, a guest house, so for the guest house we have to supply our own services.

They were going to do this big dig, and there was all of this nice cobble, this beautiful river rock all over that area of the property. We needed to move that. I wasn’t going to do it, because I hate manual labor, so I actually made a few phone calls and people were either busy or it was too expensive.

One guy told me he was going to charge me $1,600 to move the rocks. All I needed was them raked up and piled up. I said, “There’s no way! I’m not cheap, but there’s no way I’m going to spend $1,600 to move those rocks.” I couldn’t get anyone’s attention at a reasonable price, so I went to the Home Depot.

I got a big industrial rake. I got a wheelbarrow. I scheduled about two to four hours a day over a weekend so I wouldn’t kill myself. Probably in about eight to ten hours I had all of the river rock effectively raked up. I even employed my wife for a few minutes to help me one day and put her to work, but really, I’m great at that stuff. I’m great at taking a task (a manual, tedious task), but I hate it.

A great question is…Are you doing work right now that people say, “You’re really good at that”? You keep hearing, “You’re really good at that,” but you hate it. It may be cubicle work. It may be work that is tedious to you. That’s not your genius work. Is there something you love that you’re just not very good at? I’m good at golf, but I’m not great at golf. I’m not great enough to be considered a high-level competitive player, so it makes me even want to stop playing competitively because it’s frustrating. The guitar is another one.

What do you do well that you love? That’s genius work, but there is one more element I’ve added to this in the last few years. I had to think about those planets coming together and obscuring each other, like a total eclipse. You have a total eclipse of what you do well and what you really love. Those planets eclipse, but there’s one more planet that needs to get in the way and that is, in the real world you must be able to monetize your genius work. You have to make a living. Right? I’ve added that one. What do you think of that?

Tim: I like it. In fact, I was thinking about that the other day. You’ve heard the expression… We’ve all heard the expression, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life.” That’s absolutely true, but you might also not put food on the table, so…

Joe: It’s funny. My daughter… God bless her. She’s the greatest kid. You know my daughter. You have two wonderful daughters as well. By the way, congratulations! You now have one of your daughters engaged. That’s fantastic! You and I together have three daughters. We’re not a couple, but together we have three daughters.

Tim: Pray for us!

Joe: Yes. My daughter is almost 20. She’ll be 20 in March. She’s so creative. She’s so wonderful. She wants to be in the music industry. She wants to be in the business of music. It’s such a tough industry, but she just has such a love for music. She’s a classically trained violist and has already performed at Carnegie Hall. She doesn’t know how talented she is, but she really doesn’t want to perform. Although she plays very well, she really wants to be in the business of music. I think she’ll wind up in branding or tour management or something like that.

The music business… What a tough business to make a living in today! As we know, the industry has changed, and you don’t really make money on the sale of albums or cassettes or CDs. Now, it’s really streaming. You’re really married to Apple Music or Spotify to get streaming royalties. That is so small unless you’re a Taylor Swift that you really have to tour and sell merchandise to make a living, but think, Tim, about all of these people who are so gifted.

They love music so much and they’re so gifted. They satisfy the first two elements of Joe B’s genius work thing, but they don’t satisfy that third element. They can’t figure out how to monetize it. All of a sudden, they’re 40 or 50 years old, and they’ve been on the road playing for a number of years, and they have nothing in their savings account. I don’t judge anyone, but I do ask the question…Is that preparing for retirement? Is that a life? You have to be very careful to ask that third question. “I love this, and I’m really good at it, but how in the world do I monetize it?”

Tim: That’s the critical question, isn’t it? Let me ask you this, then. What do you consider to be your genius work now, Joe?

Joe: Well, that’s personal. I can’t share that with you on here. No. Wow! You’re hitting me with this. In my heart of hearts, I believe my genius work might fall into a couple of different categories that kind of coalesce and support each other, but I certainly know how to sell, I know how to communicate with people, and I know how to teach people how to sell.

I believe the art of communication and the art of being involved in the sales process creates a win-win for people. I know how to sell. I know how to teach sales. I’m good at that, and I really enjoy it. I really love it. Selling and teaching sales is certainly part of my core competency and part of my genius work.

I’m good at building business protocols. I’ve built some nice businesses. I’m good at the start-up thing. I’m good at moving a business forward. I’m good at being an entrepreneur. As you know, one of the most important components of being an entrepreneur is having a great deal of self-discipline, being able to make decisions, and then really executing on the decisions and strategies you’ve drawn up on paper.

I’m good at all of that stuff. I’m really good at managing myself, managing my emotions, starting a business, and being an entrepreneur. I’m good at selling. I’m good at being an entrepreneur. I’ve trained and taught and coached a lot of entrepreneurs, as well. Another element is I also have a natural desire to lead people and grow teams of people.

One of the things I also heard when I was just getting into sales… Actually, the car business was very short-lived, if you read the book, Life in Sales: Volume 1. I won’t take anything away from the book when I tell you the dealership I worked at was shut down for 41 counts of illegal sales tactics. It’s a really funny story!

Tim: Only 41? Wow!

Joe: Only 41 counts of illegal sales tactics at Universal Ford, the home of low prices, on Lankershim Boulevard in North Hollywood in the summer of 1978. I was only there a series of months shy of a year. I left. I got tipped off that something was going to happen. I wasn’t doing anything illegal, but a lot of people there were. I refused to do anything that was unethical or treat the customer in a bad way. Actually, that didn’t help my career there either, but anyway… That was very short lived.

I consider my first real sales experience when I left the car business. My dad was right there with the newspaper again, and the next blind ad I circled led me to Pennsylvania Life Financial. Penncorp Financial was a conglomeration of small divisions of accident insurance products kind of bundled on the back of the old Pennsylvania Life Company.

Penncorp Financial hired me. I was in one of their divisions called Transpacific. I sold $39 accident policies door to door in the business community. They were designed for business owners, so I was in commission B2B sales. That was really my first foray into sales, and within months as a salesperson, Tim, I was taking people out into the field.

My manager’s name was Tom Smith. A real name. No federal witness protection program. That was his real name. Tom Smith would give me a person and say, “Joe, would you just have this person ride with you today?” I had those ride-alongs, and those were my best days because I had someone to perform for and talk to. I espoused all of the wisdom I had for an 18-year-old.

Very early in my career, people said, “You would be a great sales leader, sales manager, or trainer,” so that thing came up. Those three core competencies led me to begin to recognize the platform I started to build was really what I call an SEL community. I attract salespeople, entrepreneurs, and leaders. Hence, the acronym SEL.

I started to refer to my own community as an SEL community because those are the three categories I believe I’ve lived in. I’ve done well. I believe if you’re going to be an entrepreneur and have a business you should be a great salesperson. You should be a great leader. You should be a wise and thoughtful leader. The entrepreneurial category, the sales category, and the leadership category all come together.

I also enjoy writing and creating content. If you’re going to be in our business, if you’re going to be a writer, you should write. If you’re going to be a trainer, you should be training from original content. I love creating content, and I think I’m pretty good at it. I also love collaborating. What we’re doing right now, you and I, being able to add talented people to your platform, your thought partners to your think tanks… I love the mastermind concept. I love bringing people together.

I think that’s my genius work. I think it probably starts and ends there. If that’s all I did for the remainder of my years, whatever God and the universe allows me to have on this planet, I think if I touched salespeople, entrepreneurs, and leaders with my original content that’s a pretty good thing.

Tim: I couldn’t agree more, Joe. When I was thinking about your genius work, all of those things came to mind for me for you. I know how you’re pursuing a lot of it. I know you’ve done some mastermind groups where you’ve gotten together entrepreneurs once a month and those kinds of things. I know you’ve done a lot of speaking. In fact, you told me earlier you’re just about ready to go on the road. You have a very full schedule for the next several weeks. I know your platform and your writing have really touched a bunch of people, so that’s awesome.

Here’s my biggest challenge in doing my genius work. I won’t bore everybody with my genius work today, but it’s hard to make sure your time is set aside to do your genius work. There are so many other things that are trying to get in your way. Steven Pressfield calls it the resistance. All of these things… It seems like whenever you’re trying to do your genius work, the universe or some evil force, if you will, tries to keep you from doing it. In the last five years, Joe, what have you done or how have you gotten better at saying, “No”?

Joe: Boy! That’s a great question. I think it starts with a decision, and I think some of these decisions started as soon as I got busy. As you and some people who may follow my background or some of my work may know, I retired at a relatively young age of 48. I took some time off. After that time off and after I decided to…

Really, it happened in 2014. I made a decision to start to do the work I’m doing now, so I’ve done this work for less than four years, but in the last four years as I ramped up and began to reach out and do this work, I realized you are going to have a lot of people…I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way…who are very willing to waste your time.

I’ll first tell you who I say, “No,” to. I think logically in this. “Who should I say, ‘No,’ to and why, and how does that clear space for the things I want to say, ‘Yes,’ to?” The kinds of people I say, “No,” to in a very polite way are people, first of all, who I can’t help. To answer your question, I became really, really skilled at identifying people I can’t help. If I really can’t help a person personally or professionally, I won’t spend time with them because it’s a waste of the time God has given me on this earth, and it really doesn’t do much for them.

It could be someone who wants to become a personal coaching client who is willing to invest that time and money. I may not be willing to invest in them if I don’t believe I can really help them. It could be someone who says, “I want to become part of a personal coaching program.” As you do, I might get to know them a little bit, maybe ask them an interview question or two via email or a quick 15-minute phone call. I may or may not invite them into the group, but I’m good at saying, “No,” to people I can’t help personally and professionally.

It’s easier professionally, but it gets really tough personally. This thinking for me transcends into my personal life as well, and really, what I’m referring to here, Tim, are people who are in a very fixed mindset. They’re not in a flexible growth mindset. If I identify people in my life who are in a fixed mindset, then I usually try to avoid them because a person convinced beyond their will is of the same opinion still. Do you know? I think you know. You probably have a mental picture of what I mean by a fixed mindset. Right?

Tim: Absolutely. In fact, I’ve done quite a bit of personal coaching as well, and I have fired clients because they’ve invested time and money and I’ve invested my time, which is money. I give them homework. I give them suggestions. Then, they don’t do it. I mean, they’re paying quite a bit of money sometimes to get my opinion, and if they’re not going to follow through, if they’re not going to at least give it a try, that’s very discouraging to me.

Even though I hate giving up the income they might bring me, my sanity, I guess for lack of a better word, is much more important to me than a little bit of money. I think we can do the same thing in our personal lives. Think about Alyssa when she was little. You would tell her things and you would tell her things and you would tell her things. Then, one of her friend’s parents would say the exact same thing, and it was a big revelation to her.

Joe: Yeah! As Jesus learned, you’re never a prophet in your own town. The greatest prophets in the world had to travel great distances to have their voices heard. By the way, those of you listening to this podcast, if you want personal, one-on-one coaching, if you’re a high-level salesperson or a sales trainer or leader, you really couldn’t have a better mentor or choose a better mentor than Tim Martin, and I mean that sincerely.

Let me also tell you… My mind works in buckets and categories. I have this first category. These are people I’m willing to say, “No,” to, and that creates more space and time in my life, and there are situations or invitations or organizations or projects I say, “No,” to. There are people and there are situations. We’ll just call them situations.

Any project or situation or business invitation, if it doesn’t 100 percent, and I mean 100 percent, fit my value structure, at this point in my life I’m very happy to say, “No.” It may not fit my value structure. It may not be 100 percent in alignment with my level of integrity or ethics. I’ll throw that out as well. Really, I don’t care what the revenue is that may come with this project. I just say, “No.” Also, if I don’t think a project or a business initiative or situation will be fun…I underline the word fun…I just say, “No,” like Nancy Reagan said.

I’m also lucky that I’ve worked hard. I’m lucky I’m not lazy. I’m lucky I’ve created financial freedom, so now I get to pick the work I do. I get to choose it. It’s easy for me. I’m a pleaser. I know, Tim, you’re probably a little bit of a pleaser, too.

Tim: I’m a recovering people pleaser.

Joe: It’s just easy to say, “Yes,” to everything, but whenever you say, “Yes,” to something, as we have learned, you’re saying, “No,” to something else.

Tim: I agree. How do you say, “No,” to people? You say it in the most polite, wonderful way, and you’ve told me, “No,” before. I still come out of it feeling valued and feeling like you still care about me. It’s not about me. It’s about the project or those things you’ve said in the past. You’re a busy guy, and I don’t expect you to say, “Yes,” all of the time, but I’m in sales so I have to ask. Anyway, give our audience a little bit of a glimpse into some good ways to say, “No.”

Joe: I think you have to create those boundaries and fences. If someone is listening to this podcast… If you’re driving, keep your hands on the wheel, but if you’re sitting at a desk and you’re making notes, write down the word boundaries. Write down the word fences. For some people I have boundaries. In fact, for most all people I have boundaries. In fact, for everyone you should have boundaries. Even a spouse, because we need to have some personal time and some privacy. It’s just the way human beings are. We have boundaries for virtually everyone.

Then, you have fences. What I mean by fences is I’ve identified that person as not being a positive influence in my life. I have a fence, and it has barbed wire on it, and I have a gun, and they’re not getting over. They’re not getting onto my property. I’m kidding you. I would never shoot a gun at anyone unless they came on my property, but you have boundaries for some people and you have some really hard fences for others. That’s how I think about it.

When I identify someone as not really being a positive influence on me or my family, I have a fence, and they’re not getting in. For others, I have boundaries. They may knock on the gate, and I may yell, “Come on in.” There’s a natural boundary. I may stand out on the porch and talk to them and I may invite them into the house and I may not, but I always do it in a very polite and kind way.

When I’m saying, “No,” to someone I have a boundary with I’m talking to them. I’m having conversation. I may say, “Tim, that sounds great. That sounds like an interesting invitation or project, but unfortunately, I’m overcommitted at this time.” I’m usually not lying because you and I are usually overcommitted most of the time. I’m not lying at all. “I’m overcommitted at this time, Tim. I’d like to consider it at a different time.”

If I’m never going to consider it, then I would be honest and say something like, “Tim, that’s a great invitation. I’m flattered, but I’m not going to do it and here’s why. We can discuss it, but I’m not going to do it, and here’s why. Here’s why it doesn’t fit for me right now, but if I can help you in some other way, if I can refer someone to you or help you find someone, please ask, but it’s not going to be conducive for me in getting to where I want to go with my business plan and career.”

Everything (the root source of my thinking) is, “If I say, ‘Yes,’ to something, is it going to lead me to my intended destination?” My goal, my objective, my intended destination… When I say, “Yes,” it had better completely align with that thought. Is it leading me closer to my intended destination?

If it is, great, if it’s a positive adjunct in my business life, my career, or my personal life. If it’s not, then I’m foolish for saying, “Yes.” I said, “Yes,” to the wrong thing. That’s the litmus test for me. When I say, “Yes,” is it leading me closer to my intended destination? If not, I need to abort. Can I say, “No,” in a very positive and polite way? I think you have to work at it, but it sounds a lot like the word text I just gave you.

Tim: Boy! That is such good advice. I struggle. Like you said, I think everybody kind of struggles with saying, “No.” I think the weakest way to say, “No,” is, “Let me think about that,” or “I’ll get back to you on that,” or “Maybe I can do that.” What that really means is, “No,” but you’re just too weak to say it. I kind of struggle with that.

In my leadership experience, when you’re responsible for organizations and you’re responsible for building people and all of that, one of the things I’ve found is people you really care about and people you really can help, perhaps, want so much of your time, and you just don’t have enough time to give it to them.

I’ve found one of the best ways I can help them without using up all of my time is to refer them, like you said, to other people or, even more immediate sometimes, is to give them a book to read. Point them in the right direction. In today’s day and age with Kindle and all of that with Amazon, a book is instantaneously available or, with Prime, no more than two days away.

I was reading a brand new book by Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek theme. It’s called Tribe of Mentors. In it, he asks every single person he interviews the same question, and I’m absolutely stealing it because I think it’s such a great question. I’m going to ask you, “What are the books you’ve given most as a gift and why?”

Joe: The CAP Equation. My first book.

Tim: Other than yours. Hey! I’ve given at least 100 of those out over the course of time, so I think you have sold at least 100. Right?

Joe: We counted this up the other day. With bulk sales and individual sales on Amazon (obviously, the book is available on Amazon) and with books purchased at events and with promotional copies, we’re somewhere around 32,000 to 33,000 copies out there, which is pretty good for a first book by a first-time author, self-published. We’re very proud of that. Eventually, I know it will climb to 100,000 because the book has legs. I’ve probably given away The CAP Equation most, but the book I’ve given away that isn’t authored by Joe B. is The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud.

Tim: I love that book!

Joe: You gave me that book. You turned me on to that book. You turned me on to some great books. The Power of the Other, as you know, is a great book in the sense it really gets you thinking about putting people in your business and personal life in some very cogent categories. It helped me determine what people look like.

Dr. Henry Cloud talks about the four corners. You could take almost anyone in your life and throw them in one of those four corners as soon as you do a little study or read on the book. It really helps you understand the power someone else can have in our life and the makeup and direction of your life and the success you want to have. Certainly, people could add to that success, people could take away from that success, but The Power of the Other by Dr. Henry Cloud is the book I’ve probably handed out the most.

Tim: Like I said, that is such a great book! I took my whole leadership team through that. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big macho guy. Yeah, right. I cried multiple times while I was reading that book. It really impacted me. In fact, it was kind of one of those things when I got done I couldn’t shake it for a while. Not that I wanted to, but it kind of just sat there and marinated, and I was very, very mindful of it for quite a while. Thanks for bringing that book up. It’s not like I forgot it, but I forgot how powerful it was in my life at that moment in time. That’s awesome! Joe B., almost 40 years in sales.

Joe: Yeah. From 1978, so if I get to June of this year and I’m still alive and I consider myself still a salesperson and entrepreneur and a leader (all three of those SEL categories), it will be 40 years.

Tim: That’s fantastic! You’ve arrived. Right? You’re done growing. You don’t need study. You’ve learned everything you’re going to learn. Right?

Joe: Absolutely! I arrived a long time ago. I’ve just been coasting for years.

Tim: I know a lot of people who, unfortunately, stopped growing. They basically died years ago. They just haven’t laid down yet. I know that’s not you. What have you done in the last four or five years to really grow personally and professionally? What are some of the things you’ve invested your time and money in the last few years?

Joe: Well, one of the first things I did when I decided to write my first book, The CAP Equation: A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales, now available on Amazon… Don’t you love those commercials? The first thing I did when I decided to write The CAP Equation was I hired a firm. It was a public relations firm out of Philadelphia. They specialized in helping first-time authors get their heads straight.

The platform I subscribed to, and it wasn’t inexpensive… It was about $11,000 or $12,000 a year. I actually spent two years with them, and I think I got every ounce of juice out of the lemon there, but what I did was gain access to coaches in several different areas. I’m big on coaching. I’m big on receiving coaching. I had a coach to help me learn how to write, because I had to finish the damn book, and I had a coach who actually worked with me to teach me how to speak for money.

I had been speaking from stage for many years, but I was really an amateur and never got paid for it. Now, I had to go to people, to event organizers and coordinators and sales executives, and ask them to pay me to come and speak to their group. It’s a different art and science. I also had a coach who helped me create content through my stories. These were all very specific coaches who had expertise in these areas. That’s the first thing I did.

The second thing I did was I went out and started expanding my life’s board of directors. Tim, you know… Well, whether you know it or not you’re on that list. You’re one of my life’s board of directors. If I have something going on that is a challenge, opportunity, or a decision and it’s a big decision, there are about six or eight people who I might run that by.

The list has changed over the years, but usually those people on your life’s board of directors are older. They don’t always have to be, but many times they’re older. They’re wiser. They have to be wiser than you. Otherwise, why would you put them on your life’s board of directors? You’re looking for older (traditionally), wiser people, people who will be honest with you, like Dr. Henry Cloud talks about, people who will be honest with you, a Corner #4 relationship.

They’re going to tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear or what they think you want to hear. Obviously, through personal coaching I expanded my life’s board of directors. I got involved in a national speaking organization, NSA, and became a member. I met a lot of great people there. I got outside of my comfort zone.

This last year, I got outside of my comfort zone again. I took some training in March of this year and decided to launch a CEO mastermind peer advisory group here in the Scottsdale area, and I’ve attracted some very nice people to that group, that think tank of small business CEOs in the Scottsdale area. That was daunting for me, and I knew it was going to be uncomfortable.

I wanted to get out of my comfort zone because one of the things I really wanted to do when I relocated from LA after 55 years… A year and a half ago my wife and I decided to relocate to Scottsdale where we had a vacation home. We found this piece of land, and now we’re building this very complex monstrosity compound. So much for downsizing! It looks like I’m building a water park in my backyard right now.

We relocated here, and I made the comment to Beth, “I really want to be involved in the business community here.” The best way to do that combined with my “genius work” was to reach out to small business people and say, “I want to bring a small group together. I want to do some personal coaching with you guys, and I want you to mentor each other.” I created a peer advisory group here in the Scottsdale/Phoenix area. That was very uncomfortable.

Just imagine moving to a new place and cold-calling business owners and CEOs and asking for the opportunity to coach them or mentor them. It was pretty daunting. I believe you not only grow personally by getting coaches and assembling your life’s board of directors, but I believe you also have to take that next step and maybe do something that makes you uncomfortable. That’s really the piece you grow exponentially by. I’ve grown exponentially as I’ve started to do some work I was actually a little fearful of.

Tim: When you told me you were back out cold-calling, I was very impressed. I mean, it’s one of those things, as you get a little further and further away from your initial upbringing, if you will, as you were out in the field all of the time, that call reluctance doesn’t go away. It takes a little while to be able to pick up that phone or walk in that door with a little bit of confidence and rhythm in those kinds of things. It’s a little tricky to shake off the rust. You and I had a discussion about that a few months ago. That was almost a humbling experience for you. Right?

Joe: It was humbling. Just imagine when you’re getting started and you don’t even know what to say. You’re creating your own sales process and your own kind of talk because it’s kind of a weird thing. It’s not a typical sale, and it’s really not a sale at all. It’s almost a mutual selection process. I have to decide if I want to spend time with this person, and they have to decide if they want to spend time with me.

Just imagine how many people didn’t take my phone call, didn’t return my phone call, or hung up on me. I didn’t really have people hang up on me, but what I mean by that is they’re just very short with you and you know they don’t want to be on the phone with you. If someone didn’t take my call or didn’t return my call or was short with me, when the phone call was over, I just said to my self, “Don’t they know who I am? Didn’t they know who they were talking to? I’m Joe B.! Damn it!”

Tim: I was just going to say that. “Do they know who are you? Come on!” That’s a good point in sales.

Joe: That was humbling.

Tim: That’s a good point for sales period. Right? We’ve talked about that a lot in the past. They’re not saying, “No,” to you. They don’t even know you. How can you get upset about that if they don’t even know you or what you possibly can do to help them? They just don’t even want to listen right now.

There are a lot of factors in that. They could just be slammed, or their spouse could have yelled at them that morning on the way out of the house, or all of those things. Like I said, I’ve been out in the field quite a bit in the last couple of years helping new agents, and all of those things come rushing back really fast.

Joe: I have to say one last thing and then let you wrap up. You have to realize why you’re doing it. The reason why I was doing it was I wanted to find that one person. Let’s take this guy named Rick who became part of my platform. Rick was really looking for a group of people who he could be open to and he could share his opportunities with and get some unfiltered feedback from. I was looking for that one person who would totally benefit from that mentorship and peer advisory and it will change his business and his life.

I knew why I was doing it. I was doing it to find that one person, and my products and services would change their life for the better, so I was willing. When your why is strong enough, you’re willing to go through some of that stuff we title as rejection. That’s what I kept thinking about. “I need to find that one person. After I find that one person, he or she can easily lead me to another.” That’s how my group was formed.

Tim: That’s fantastic. I love what you said. When your why is big enough, you can continue to press on and do those things that may be uncomfortable but are so necessary to get back into doing your genius work, where we started this whole conversation. The genius work doesn’t always come easy. Right?

Joe: No, it doesn’t. It’s like everything else. You have to work at it. You have to clean up your thinking. Steve Jobs said, “It’s hard to get your thinking clean, but it’s worth the time and effort, because if you get your thinking clean you can really accomplish almost anything. You can move mountains.”

Tim: Awesome! I’m going to wrap up here, Joe. I’ve kept you long enough. Again, I really appreciate you coming on. Tell people where they can find you. Tell them where they can buy your book, all of that good stuff.

Joe: Absolutely. The book, The CAP Equation: A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales, and I also wrote a novel. I’m a novelist as well, Tim. I know you read it. Drawing Circles will be available on Amazon soon. A Life in Sales: Volume 1 will be available on Amazon. If you go to Amazon and put in Joe Buzzello you will reach it.

To get in touch with me, go to joebuzzello.com. If you go to joebuzzello.com and push retools, you’ll actually be pushed out The CAP Equation program, an audio and PDF program that’s just a gift. We occasionally blog and occasionally push out free content. There’s a lot of free stuff. I know there is some great free stuff and some premium products on your site as well (successisvoluntary.com).

That’s how they can get in touch with me. I’m here at jbuzzello@me.com. That’s my personal email address. I actually talk to fans and followers and clients if you have a thought or a need. I’m completely available. I stay very, very busy. I’m not going to waste your time or waste my time, but I love to talk to sales, entrepreneurial, and leadership geeks like us. I love us!

Tim: Absolutely! Joe, again, thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for being on my life’s board of directors and being one of those Corner #4 people for me. You’ve helped me. I like to say there are a few people in my life who are in that Corner #4 who loved me when I was unlovable. I thank you for that. With that, I’m going to let you go. Thanks again.

Joe: You got it! Thanks so much for letting me on. Go sell stuff, everyone! Go have some fun and change some lives with your products and services.

Remember, everything is voluntary, including success. Take it in your hands now. Head over to www.successisvoluntary.com, and stay up to date with all the latest tips, news, and techniques in the world of selling voluntary benefits.

Tim: How great was that? As always, Joe brought it. I feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to interview some of the brightest people on the planet. It was clear to me Joe has honed his skills in sales, entrepreneurial efforts, and leadership. Because he has paid the price of personal growth, he is definitely doing his genius work. On a personal note, I am so thankful for his ability to challenge me and to help me to stretch toward my full potential.

If this podcast helped you in any way, could you please do me a huge favor? Could you please go to the show notes at successisvoluntary.com/028, as in episode 28? Once you’re there, please share this episode on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever social media platforms you hang out on. It will help others discover the podcast, and it might even change their life. That’s it for today. I’ll see you back here next week. I have a very special guest I promise you won’t want to miss. Remember this week to volunteer for success.