Wheel of Fortune

Everyone sells.

Doesn’t matter what your profession is. You sell ideas, passionate thoughts, beliefs, and values. You sell these to your friends, co-workers, family and even sometimes strangers. 

But some of you sell professionally. Your income depends directly on your sales ability, execution, and follow through.

And then there are the hunters. You are responsible for generating your own leads. I’ve interviewed salespeople who have said, “Once I get the appointment, I’ll make the sale.” But getting that appointment is the most difficult part, especially if you have no other way in.

The challenge is daunting…think about it. Even with those we know well, keeping their focus and attention is often difficult. Imagine trying to get someone’s attention who doesn’t know us at all, yet knows our title - salesperson.

That’s the challenge of a hunter.

Imagine the famous “Wheel of Fortune” spinning fast and furious. That’s your prospect’s attention. Or maybe your potential “date” – isn’t that a form of prospecting? And your job is to find a way to stop the wheel, if only for a moment. At that point, you have their attention and significantly improve your possibility of a good conversation to determine future value. That’s the crux of the sales process – the Wheel of Fortune.

My greatest sale ever is in the other room. 28 years and counting. We met on a blind date – totally avoided the Wheel of Fortune.  No prospecting necessary. Whew! Never would have gotten her attention as a pure hunter.  Wow. That sounded creepy.

There you have it; the best way to overcome the Wheel of Fortune.

A referral. Or in my case, a blind date.

Sometimes Mean is Mean

Hard to miss this guy.  He stood out amidst all his co-workers, eager new drivers and terror-stricken moms and dads.  He seemed mean. He was complaining about someone being out on the driver course during hours of operation. That’s an honest complaint on his part. Yet there are ways to address this appropriately, and his was not one of them. Yelling and complaining in front of everyone, including the newbie drivers that might be on the course with him next! And one of the newbies was our daughter, Brittany.

No one, especially Brittany, wanted this guy to be their driving instructor.  It was scary enough just trying to pass the test. Heck, new drivers are more likely to pass the driver’s test than most of us, because we’re likely overconfident and not in the crosshairs. With this nasty guy, crosshairs are a massive understatement!

So, there we were a few weeks later. We were practicing a final time in the dreaded parallel parking section. This is the most feared challenge on the course, and Britt wanted one more shot at it.   As Britt was backing in according to plan, the road parallel to us lit up. It lit up with the nasty guy in the middle of a test run with a new driver. Just as he pulled over, red and hot, I realized my mistake.  I misread the hours of operation for Saturday and was about to pay the price. Yikes! This could be bad. And it was.

As he started yelling at me, he very rudely directed us to the sign that read “no driving on course during hours of operation.”  The sign was right at the parallel parking section. I missed it, badly.

Immediately, I wanted to apologize and yet, try to explain my misunderstanding.  And to be very honest, I was already hot about his attitude and approach, especially the way he handled himself before. Just not a nice guy. He was right, yes. But wow, there are better ways to address it.

I also realized quickly that Britt might be driving with him in just a few minutes. So I held my tongue, told him it had nothing to do with my daughter, it was all me and apologized profusely. Totally humbling.

A few minutes later it was time for the test. And yes, we got him. Wow, looking at Brittany’s face as he approached, and then as they drove away… that was awful. Just a few minutes earlier, I didn’t just poke this bear, I lit him up!

She failed. He offered his reasons. Whatever. Brittany went back a week or so later, had a different, very nice instructor, and passed. Oh, but he was there that day and griping about something else. What a mess.

Hey, he was right. We were there at the wrong time.

Yet, thinking about all the people I’ve ever met over my lifetime, this guy stands out above all. He was the meanest, nastiest, and verbally abusive.

And while I teach workshops based on books like How to Win Friends and Influence People, this guy was the anomaly.  

As my friend and mentor for so many years said about one of my speaking engagements, “Why did you focus on that one negative guy when you had a whole room of people fully engaged?”

Good point. While it’s good human behavior to be nice regardless of the other person’s demeanor, some people will not change.

Sometimes it’s best to move on and just make a fun story out of it.

Goals versus Maintenance

In 1982 I set a goal.

Run a full marathon without stopping.

I completed that marathon, with stopping – meeting my goal.

Goal accomplished…now what was driving me? Nothing. Up to that point, I had a motivating factor driving my daily actions. One: my dad, my coach.  Two: my personal ego - hopefully not in an arrogant way, but just the excitement of achieving something most have not. Plus I was driven by the fact that my dad had already run nearly 50 of his 66 marathons, and maybe a marathon would truly qualify me as his son. And three: once committed to training, I had no interest in not accomplishing the goal only to have to repeat all the effort, time and discipline just to “try” again. Nope. Once and done for me!

But what happens once the goal is accomplished? Where is the motivation? What is the driver? What keeps us moving forward This is why the diet industry makes up billions of dollars of repeat buyers each year.

Goals are fantastic. But they have an end. They lead to a plateau, and in many cases, a valley. 

While I love goals, and they’re critically important, I’d like to advocate for something in between.


Not very exciting, I know. And that’s often why maintenance is not enough to drive us to follow the disciplines for daily actions.

But maintenance is necessary for many reasons.

One: it helps us stay at or near the level we accomplished by chasing the goal. Two: it helps us honor what matters to us. For example, often people, like me who set the marathon goal, really are honoring the long-term purpose of good health, energy and stress management which leads to better quality of life.  By following some level (not nearly as extreme) of the daily disciplines to achieve the marathon, I may not be setting myself up for the next race, but I’m building the philosophy and consequent habits to make good health a reality – by chasing it daily.  And with good disciplines in place, setting and striving toward the next goal is that much easier. 

Last year I set a goal to listen to the Bible in a year, which I did. This year, I’ve committed to reading the Bible daily, but there’s no goal…It’s just maintenance.

If you’re not chasing a goal – sales success, running a marathon, losing weight or something else, be sure to find actions you can engage in daily to keep the momentum and honor what matters most to you through daily maintenance. Because maintenance leads to growth. It helps us to live consistently in the benefits of the journey rather than just basking in the success of the destination.

Talking to Your Lawnmower

Years ago I heard a guy on cassette –that’s right, back off. Anyway, he shared an illustration about people’s perspective of positive versus negative talk. 

He said, “Imagine walking by a neighbor one warm sunny day and hearing him cursing out his lawnmower because it wouldn’t start. He’d pull and pull and nothing. And you hear him say to his lawnmower, ‘You’re such a #&*! And a *&$#! I hate you!’ You smile, think, ‘Yeah, just like my worthless lawnmower’. It never occurs to you that he is cursing at his lawnmower!  And yet, if you walk down the same street, same neighbor, only this time the lawnmower starts immediately. And you hear him say, ‘You are such a wonderful lawnmower, always starting right away. You rock!’  You would think the guy is nuts!”

Why? Because negative is acceptable and negative sells.  It’s unfortunate we see it this way, but we generally do and it’s time to change.

Let’s take it a step further…what about positive and negative self-talk? Same thing. Every heard anyone say, “I’m so bad at remembering names”? Most people who hear that will quickly agree.  “Yeah, so am I!” Or maybe it’s more about handling money, or getting up on time, or winning a race – speaking poorly about ourselves in those areas is acceptable, maybe even politically correct. 

But let’s think about the winners around us. Those who are successful, at least in specific areas. How about Usain Bolt? Ever hear an interview with him say, “I don’t know if I can do this? The competition is so good.” I don’t think so.

How about Muhammad Ali? Didn’t he say something like, “I’m gonna knock him out in the 3rd round!”  People might consider that arrogant.  Funny thing is, perhaps he wasn’t talking to them; perhaps he was talking to himself!

Picture getting on the airplane and the captain over the intercom saying, “Listen, gang, I can’t guarantee your safety.  No one can, but I’ll do my best to get you there in one piece. Here we go.” Nope. I’m out. Give me this guy: “I’m the best at what I do, so rest assured you’ll arrive comfortably and safely.” Much better.

Or maybe the brain surgeon – “I’ll do my best, but no guarantees!”  No way! Give me the one who says, “I’ve trained all my life and no one is better. I will succeed and you will make it!” No one can guarantee that level of success, but on that surgery table, I want to hear it anyway!

Closed Mind/Closed Doors

(Contributed by Mitch Greene)

About a month ago I was invited to go outdoor boulder climbing, very early in the morning on a cold winter day. This is the sport I participate in, and I love it very much... when it's warm anyway. I agreed simply because I wanted to make my friend who invited me happy. I would soon regret that decision.

I left my house to pick up my friend when it was still dark out. It was about six in the morning and if you looked closely enough you could see the frost on the grass. It was 27 degrees out there and I was no longer happy about my decision.

It was about an hour drive out, followed by another hour hike bushwhacking in the mountains. I carried a heavy backpack on my front and a very large crash pad on my back. This was for the inevitable falling, or crashing part. I was uncomfortable, cold and very unhappy that I came. We spent nine hours in the freezing cold, climbing on rocks that felt more like ice cubes, and, by the time we were done, my fingertips were bleeding and my body was stiff and cold.

The odd thing about this story is that when I got home and looked back, I realized how much fun I actually had and how badly I wanted to do it again. I even called up my friend and told him to take me another time.

My expectation for the trip directed my initial attitude, and, therefore, influenced my negative mindset during the adventure - despite the sense of actually enjoying it when looking back.  If I had been more open-minded and optimistic up front, I would have actually had a great time during the experience.

What positive memories do we have now, that, maybe at the time, we didn't actually appreciate or even enjoy? If the memory is good, then why not the actual experience? Living in the future. Living in the past. Nah, how about living in the moment?

Next time I will choose to experience the moment with a better attitude!