Success Lesson One

I once asked the owner of a car dealership what he looked for in the ideal salesperson.  He didn’t even have to think about it.  “I like ‘em with a lot of kids and a lot of debt.”  Fear, baby.  It makes the world go round.  I’m guessing it’s the same for women, but if you take a young man (me), and add a first baby and a first mortgage, you end up with a guy who goes to bed worrying and wakes up afraid. (my first two decades of work)

My early-adult fascination with success stems directly from my absolute ignorance of it.  “God will provide,” was the entirety of my financial planning education from my Dad.  The fact that God, always and without exception, did exactly that for our family left me even more ill-prepared.

I have no idea why the CEO of the bank I worked for would waste a minute talking to me, but he always did.  He looked like the gray-haired Clark Gable, he had beautiful girlfriends and he drove a brand new Jaguar, English racing green with the wire wheels.  “If you want to be the nice guy, you better hire yourself a hatchet.” That’s what he said once, interrupting me in the middle of my question, “You seem like a nice guy—.”  

That day while shooting my silly video of part time jobs for executives, we waited together inside the taxicab he was pretending to drive.  I asked him, “How did you get here?” 

I was expecting a chronology, but he said, “There are basically two things that people hate more than public speaking.  I’m good at both of them.  That’s why they pay me.”

Then he just stared at me with a little smile.  I finally started laughing and caved in, “Okay, what are they?”

Dead serious, he offered, “People hate to start.  Especially if it’s going to be hard or new or risky, they would just rather wait.  I’m good at saying, “Let’s go.  Let’s start now.”

Then he stared at me again.  I didn’t laugh this time. He was smart to wait and let that one sink in.  “That’s what it’s like with the production crew,” I said.  He smiled and nodded.  “What’s the second one?” I asked. 

“Never touch something twice,” he said, “Deal with it, delegate it, or dump it.  Make a g**damn decision.” 

Looking back now, I’m sure he believed that there were a lot more reasons for his success than those two things, but he had watched me work for a few minutes and decided that those were two things I needed to learn.  There were a dozen levels of bosses between him and me but he chose to lead where he was at the time.  That is why they paid him.