never give up

Don’t Throw the “Quit Switch”

At the beginning of his classic self-help book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill tells the story of R. U. Darby and his uncle, who went out to Colorado from their homes in Maryland to strike it rich digging for gold.

After finding a carload of ore, their mine ran dry.  They dug on for a few more weeks and then quit, selling their rights, their equipment, and their maps to a junk man.

The junk man consulted an engineer to take a look at the maps, and after digging another three feet, struck one of the richest veins of gold in Colorado history.

In their book, 100 Ways To Motivate Others, Steve Chandler and Scott Richardson call what Darby and his uncle did throwing the “Quit Switch”.  The gold-diggers threw the switch just three feet away from incredible wealth.

Every day, I speak with professionals who have either thrown the Quit Switch or have one in hand.

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Asking for referrals never worked for me.”
“I tried doing seminars a few times, but they never did anything.”
“I tried running my own practice, but it was just too hard.”
“You can’t make a living as a [financial advisor, insurance agent, small town attorney, realtor—you insert the category]…Well, I know some people do, but I can’t.”

It was difficult, or it wasn’t instantly successful…throw the Quit Switch!
It was going along, but too slowly…throw the Quit Switch!

NFL Coach George Allen said, Most people succeed because they are determined to.  People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit.”

If your career or practice isn’t where you want it to be, stop thinking that you know when to quit.  You may be only three feet away from your vein of gold.  Don’t throw the Quit Switch.

panning-Miner

One of the points Napoleon Hill makes in his story about Darby is that the junk man was smart enough (or humble enough) to call in an engineer (an expert) to look at the mining maps.  That option was always open to Darby and his uncle, but they either didn’t think of it or they ignored it, and they chose to stop digging instead.

The only real question is: Do you want to be successful in this career or not?  If you do, get the help you need to succeed.  Don’t wait until you feel it’s hopeless and you already believe you have no choice but to give it all up.

In other words, if you really want it, swallow your pride, and keep REACHING…

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Even a DOG Can Do It…

My fellow coach Amir Karkouti shared a story with some of his colleagues recently that I want to share with you now:

Some time ago, a team of scientists took a dog and put him in a cage where the floor had a very mild electric current running through it—just enough to make the dog a little uneasy.

As soon as the dog was put in and felt the current, he bolted out of the cage through the open door.

They returned the dog to the cage and this time shut the door.  A week later, when they opened the door again, the dog had no interest in leaving.  He had become accustomed to the discomforting cage.

Stuck 

While the dog stayed sitting there, with the electric current running through the floor, the scientists brought in another dog, and opened an adjacent cage with an electrified floor.  As had originally happened with the first dog, as soon as the second dog felt the current, he jumped right out.

Here’s the fascinating part: Seeing the second dog bolt, the first one suddenly realized that he, too, could leave the dissatisfying space he was in and, after a few seconds, again ran through the open door.

Escape Artsy

Only after seeing the second dog escape did the first dog remember that he didn’t have to stay in that less-than-happy place.

Most professionals find themselves in a dissatisfying cage of their own: not earning enough money, being overwhelmed by work, being otherwise unhappy in their situation.  But, like the first dog in the study, after awhile they become “comfortable” with being uncomfortable, and they make no big moves to change the current.

In my book, The High Diving Board, I refer to what most people call the “comfort zone” as the “safe neighborhood”.  Staying where you are is not necessarily “comfortable”.  Sometimes it’s downright UNcomfortable.  But it is familiar.  And because the unknown—stepping up your game, hiring a coach, etc.—might be more uncomfortable, you stay where you are.

With humans, even seeing someone escape from his or her cage doesn’t always inspire us to leave our own.  That requires a decision—the decision to get out.  Once you’ve made the decision, knowing what to do becomes much easier.

If you’re in a cage of your own making, or feel that you’ve ended up in someone else’s, don’t wait until you’re in so much pain that there’s no choice but to leave, or be there forever.  Make the decision to do it now, and then find the help you need to run free.

Hey, even a DOG can do it.  So if you’ve been stuck, pick a new direction, and just keep REACHING…

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Don’t Forget the Most Important Person

If you’re like most people, you found yourself juggling all of the things you had to do this past month, including social obligations and gifts galore, and you may have left someone very important off of your list by mistake…YOU!  If you could have anything in 2014, what would it be?  And why don’t you have it yet?

When we don’t have what we want, we tell ourselves stories about why we don’t.  These stories usually involve our circumstances: Not enough time, not enough money, not enough education, the wrong kind of education, etc.  Or, they involve the people in our lives: Friends who don’t understand us, spouses who are overbearing, children who are demanding, sick parents, etc., etc., etc.

I often upset my workshop attendees and clients by calling the people or circumstances we blame for holding us back exactly what they are—excuses.  Not having money, time, or training may make getting what you want more difficult, but people whose circumstances are far worse than yours have overcome these obstacles by the sheer force of their commitment.

Make Time

A simple “resolution” you can keep this month is to commit to giving yourself an hour’s worth of time to figure out what you want and what’s keeping you from having it.  During that time, ask yourself these Five Questions as part of a “SWOT” Analysis:

1. If you and I were to meet three years from now, what is the absolute minimum that will have to have happened in order to allow you to say your life is terrific?

2. What strengths do you already have that you could leverage to get you there?

3. What weaknesses will you have to acknowledge?

4. What opportunities can you take advantage of that will help you along the way?

5. What are the hardships and obstacles you’ll need to overcome to get to that point?

If you do this analysis before the end of the month, you can make plans you will keep for the New Year.  Make time for yourself, and you’ll be able to maintain your holiday spirit all year round, even as you work hard to keep REACHING…

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CONCEIVE It, BELIEVE It, ACHIEVE It!

A few years ago, I was asked to give the keynote address at the Thirtieth Anniversary Celebration of Princeton Toastmasters.  I decided to speak about Napoleon Hill’s discovery in the 1930s that the wealthiest and most successful people of his time were all following the same Simple Success Formula:

If you conceive an idea for something that doesn’t exist in the world today—an invention, personal wealth, fame, the success of your business, or anything else—and you believe it is possible, and pursue it with passion, it will become a reality.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe,” Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich, “The mind can achieve.”

Or, stated simply: “Conceive It…Believe It…Achieve It!”

Thomas Edison conceived that electricity could be a safe, economical source of power for lighting homes and stores, towns and cities.

Andrew Carnegie, the original “Slumdog Millionaire”, conceived as a boy that even a starving orphan could rise through the restrictive societal structure of his time to become wealthy and influential.

Both of these men conceived it, believed it, and achieved it.

In 1993, an unhappy lawyer who had spent a year battling cancer and complications from treatment that left him disabled and bankrupt conceived of an idea for a career—as a speaker, coach, and author—that was nothing like the one he thought he was chained to for life.  He dreamt of helping other professionals who were struggling—or completely burnt out, as he had been—find their true calling and success.

But for years he didn’t believe what he had conceived, so nothing happened.  A full five years later, in 1998, it was having joined Toastmasters, and having built confidence as a motivational speaker, that helped him believe in the reality of his dream career.  The belief became so powerful that soon, nothing could stop him.

Now, over 15 years later, I visit firms and organizations throughout the country doing what I love.  I coach individuals who are going through equally challenging life and career transitions as I once experienced.  And I’ve written two books and countless articles, sharing the lessons that I’ve learned with an audience wider than I could have imagined.

The main one is this: You can have anything you want…You can be anything you want…You can do anything you want.  If you conceive it and believe it, you’ll achieve it.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find the right track and to keep yourself on it.  Until you conceive of doing that, or until you believe you can, keep REACHING…

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Small Talk, BIG SALES: Lessons from a Master Moneymaker

Mehdi Fakharzadeh is one of the most successful insurance sales agents in history.  At 92, he is still taking on and servicing clients.

Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs.  Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries.  A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.

Individual Coaching

At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato.  Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:

1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals.  Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with.  His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.

2. Love what you doMehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby.  He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.

3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have.  Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.

“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”

4. Make them clients first.  What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked.  “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply.  But he continued:

“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him.  I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”

None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.

5. Never give up!  A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence“Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution.  There’s always a solution.”

6. Talk “Nonsense”.  That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.

“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ‘4’, and the other man pushes ‘8’, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’.  When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”

Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun.  As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.

Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing.  Love what you do, and keep REACHING…

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Beating THE “BUT” MONSTER

You know the feeling: You gave the presentation of your life!  You were “on fire”.  Every question was met with a dazzling, intelligent, emotional, cogent, coherent answer.  Every idea that you could share with your clients or prospective clients found its way into your head and flowed bountifully into your words.  But…

As you’re driving home, you’re not so sure.  They seemed to love the first feature you spoke about, but there was something about their comparison of your second feature to the competitor’s that might have indicated a preference for the competitor’s services…
And then, there were those few awkward seconds when your attempt at humor went right over their heads…
And those few moments when you remember feeling you were a bit “salesy” or sounded a little too desperate.
And a piece of food from lunch was stuck in your teeth!…and your tie was on, but it was sticking out from under your shirt collar…and the stain you failed to notice until now…

Growing your network, giving presentations, interviewing for clients—or for work—definitely has its ups and downs.  When the adrenaline rush starts to dissipate, the self-doubts to which we are all susceptible come flooding in.  We begin to analyze everything we’ve done, finding fault with enough things to replace all the confidence we had a few moments before with an empty, aching feeling that we’ve somehow botched the whole endeavor.

"But"

Courtesy of DeviantArt.com

It’s The “But” Monster at work.  In my book, The High Diving Board, I talk about this creature whose original purpose was to prevent you from roaming out into the streets, or beyond the borders of your “safe neighborhood“.  As you grew and expanded that “neighborhood”, however, The “But” Monster learned to hide better, but grew with you.  Now, when he pops up out of nowhere, he’s huge, and he’s angry that you got past him in the first place to make that important call or presentation.

So, he welcomes you back home to him with the doubts that should have kept you from venturing out in the first place.  He tells you, “Yes, you wanted to fly, BUT…you’re really out of your league here.”  Or, “Sure it was a good presentation, BUT…you don’t really know that much and your competition is probably much better, anyway.”  Or, “It was a good presentation, BUT…they were probably stuck staring at that food in your teeth.”

“Why don’t you just stay here where it’s safe?” he urges.  And he could be speaking powerfully enough to keep you wallowing in that self-doubt, and causing you to avoid the next venture altogether.

BUT…don’t let The But Monster beat you!!!  Here are some ideas that might help:

a)  You can’t stop the negative feelings from arising, so let them.  Your lifelong gatekeeper is strong, immortal, and immutable.  The one thing you can do is let him rattle on, but recognize that the doubts he raises are a natural reaction to your choice to go beyond your safe neighborhood.  If you’ve accepted the concept that it’s okay to be afraid in the pursuit of your goals, then accept this corollary: You can’t stop the self-doubts, but you can decide not to let them slow you down.

b)  It doesn’t matter, anyway.  No deal, no presentation, and no single event should matter so much that actually “blowing it” could possibly destroy your life or career.  Get over your doubts about this one by jumping right into the next one.  Hey—if nothing else, you’ll have a new disaster to worry about!

c)  Let go of your outcomes.  Set your goals, do the things you need to do to reach those goals, and then stop worrying about how an individual situation works out.  For every call or presentation you actually mess up, there will be another you get right.

If you need help changing your attitude toward the bumps in the road to your success, and toward your very own incidental “But” Monster, contact me.  Or hone this outlook and other skills by joining me for my Mastering Client Referrals Workshop on Saturday, October 19th.

In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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If You Really Want It, Don’t Back Away

COME TO PRINCETON IN OCTOBER
AND BECOME A REFERRAL MASTER

If you’re a financial or insurance professional, join me on Saturday, October 19th for an all-day
Mastering Client Referrals Workshop.

Boost your year-end sales and start 2014 on a roll.  For details, take a look at

https://sandyschussel.com/mcr-workshop

Register by Friday to take advantage of the Early Registration Discount.  Or call me at (609) 454-3810 and we’ll talk about whether this program makes sense for you.
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Most people don’t really understand what courage is.  When I ask them to define it in my workshops on Overcoming Fear, the answer I often get is “the absence of fear”.

But this answer isn’t accurate.  While there are a few seemingly fearless fighters, most military personnel will admit, when you ask them, that they were afraid much of the time they were in the field.
Courage is not the absence of fear; it’s action in the face of fear.  These brave people risk—and sometimes sacrifice—their lives, but not without fear.  They do what has to be done, despite the fear.

Wherever I go, I find professionals and entrepreneurs struggling to grow their businesses or advance their careers.  These are people with all of the technical skills they need to be successful, but they’re still, somehow, not getting what they want.

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Either
(1) they don’t know how to get it, or
(2) they know what they need to do, but they are allowing their fears to hold them back.

Other times, more simply:
(3) they haven’t yet decided to make the change.

If you feel like your practice ought to be growing, but you’re just stuck, start by recognizing that one, both, or all three of these factors might be at play.  If fear is one of them, understand that it’s okay to be afraid when it comes to stepping into sales and marketing and other “dangerous battlefields“.  Admit that you are afraid.  But don’t respond by backing away.

Ultimately, the fear itself can’t hold us back from having what we want and need in our businesses or lives—how we view fear and our learned response to fear are the real threats.  We feel the “fear factor”—the butterflies in our stomachs, the rapid pounding in our chests—and the little voice in our heads warns us: “It’s not okay, back away.”  And we obey.

When we were children, this response probably saved our lives many times.  We’d feel those feelings when we came too close to a hot stove or stepped into the street.  But as adults, if we so much as think of picking up the phone to make that prospecting call, or attending a networking event, or making a presentation—our “back away” response keeps us from doing what we need to do.

The good news is that if we learned this response, we can unlearn it and replace it with something better:

“It’s okay to be afraid, but if this is my goal, then I have to do it.”

Battle Call
Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers (2002)

If you can get past the fear on your own, do it.  If you can’t, decide to hire someone who can help you, or contact me to take a step in the right direction and back onto the playing field.  No matter what you choose to do, if you have a mission, keep REACHING…

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Rejection Therapy

Be sure to check out my recent interview on entrepreneurship, sales, and success at Letsmote.com!
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If you fear rejection—in your telephone conversations, or when you ask a prospect to engage your services—you’ll definitely want to spend just 24 minutes viewing the following Video Lecture by Chinese-American entrepreneur Jia Jang at the World Domination Summit.

Jang talks about the fear of rejection that almost caused him to give up his dream of creating his own company.  He mentions going online to a site where he learned about “Rejection Therapy”.

When I saw this, I was intrigued.  I had given countless workshops wherein I challenged participants to purposely ask for things that they were previously sure would be denied to them, but I had not yet heard of “Rejection Therapy”.

After one of my Manhattan workshops, two of the attendees who had flown in from the Midwest went to a bar together and asked the bartender for free drinks, expecting a “no” response.  They told the bartender that this was their first time in New York and that they wanted to make sure the drinks were good.

To their surprise, the bartender gave them the drinks they requested, making it clear that he would allow them just one each.

When they excitedly shared their adventure with our group the next day, the point was clear:

Ask.  You may just get what you ask for.

I wondered if there really was a website about “Rejection Therapy” and if it was anything like what I was already doing in my workshops.

It turns out that Canadian Jason Comely is the founder of rejectiontherapy.com, where he defines a real life game with only one rule:

YOU MUST BE REJECTED BY ANOTHER PERSON AT LEAST ONCE, EVERY SINGLE DAY.

“Please notice the wording of the rule,” Jason tells us.  “It doesn’t say you must attempt or try to be rejected.  The rule is you MUST be rejected by another human being.  In this game, rejection is success.  No other outcome will meet the requirement of Rejection Therapy.”

If you want to play the game, visit his site, and read about what counts as a rejection attempt and a successful rejection.  Jason freely shares his game and offers a game card you can use (not required) for just $10.

In his talk, Jang tells us that in “playing” Rejection Therapy, he asked a police officer if he could drive the police car and a pilot if he could fly his small plane.  To his surprise, both let him do it—just because he asked.  In fact, in my workshops, many of the outlandish requests made by my attendees are granted.  Some have told me they found it difficult to actually be rejected.

If you often don’t ask for appointments or referrals, or a sale, because you’re afraid of being rejected, spend 100 days playing Rejection Therapy.  You’ll learn the lesson that Jang did: that it’s OK if someone says “NO”.  It’s just his or her reflex, capacity, or opinion—nothing more.

Contact me today for help, and if I have availability, give me an opportunity to surprise you with a “YES”.  Either way, keep REACHING…

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Take Mighty Swings

Baseball fans know that most of the great home run hitters also have unusually high rates of strikeouts.  The most revered of these players, Babe Ruth, once advised a fan: “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.”  But most of us are too afraid of striking out to swing hard enough and often enough to hit home runs.  Instead, we wait for some perfectly pitched ball and hope to swing just hard enough so we can be sure we’ll make contact.  Taking mighty swings is not for us, because there’s always a chance we could strike out.

Beth, a newly appointed 30-year old Sales Manager for an investment brokerage branch office, was getting terrible results.  New advisers weren’t staying with her, and the sales of her veteran advisers were drastically declining.

I discovered that Beth was agonizing over every decision she had to make.  She would constantly seek the help of her irritated regional manager and make excuses to her advisers about why she didn’t have immediate answers for them.

“I usually have a gut feeling about the right response,” she told me, ”But then I start to question it, and I end up not being able to make a decision.”

“Would your situation actually be any worse if you just gave in to that gut feeling and took your chances?” I asked her.

“It couldn’t be much worse,” she admitted, “I’m going to lose my job if I keep running to my boss with every question from the field.”

I asked Beth to experiment for the next week by just giving in—all the way—to those “gut feelings” she had mentioned every time she was presented with a work decision.  She promised that she would.

Two days before our next appointment, Beth called me, excited.

“I had to make a decision about how a sale would be structured and I did what we said,” she exclaimed.  ”I followed my gut and gave my veteran adviser my opinion right there on the spot—and it was a home run!  Later,” she told me, ”I heard him tell another one of my advisers that I had given him great advice.”

Like any of us, Beth is sure to make mistakes in the work place, but practicing taking mighty swings will continue to serve her much better than did her fear of striking out.

If I can help you take mighty swings, you just have to step up to the plate and contact me.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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DIAMONDS, in Your Own BACK YARD!

Russell Conwell, the founder and first president of Temple University, is best known for his famous inspirational lecture, Acres of Diamonds.

At the heart of that lecture was a story about Ali Hafed (now available on my Free Resources page!), a farmer who sold his land in order to go hunting for diamonds all over the world—exhausting all of his money and energy, and eventually committing suicide.

In the meantime, the man who bought his farm soon discovered that the land was on what would turn out to be Golconda, the largest diamond mine in history.  Across every acre of that farmland, below each and every inch, there were diamonds.

You can find Conwell’s entire speech online in several different places, and I have used the Hafed story many times before.  It tends to come in handy when I’m working with clients who have more than 100 clients of their own (sometimes several hundred), but who are, for some reason, still frantically “prospecting” everywhere to try and find business.  They’re cold calling, networking, advertising, sending out mailings, and doing other superfluous activities that might unearth the occasional diamond, but they’re forgetting to first look in their own back yards.

As professionals, the diamonds in our back yards are the people we know already, particularly, our existing clients and the people they can introduce us to.  If they are not fully committed to us and are not yet willingly introducing us to the people in their lives, we should start digging here before we wander the globe looking for new sources of business.

These should be your initial steps:

1. Identify your 10-20 best clients and rank them (#1-#20).

2. Starting with your Number 1 client, ask yourself these three questions about each:

Is there a way I can serve her by connecting her with someone in my network?
Is there another way I can serve him beyond what I’ve done already?
What else can I do to make her my advocate?

3. As soon as you’ve done the analysis for a client, set an appointment with him in which you are prepared to serve, surprise and delight him.

4. Also, decide for each client how you’re going to bring up the idea of being introduced to someone in her life.

5. Spend time in each appointment learning as much as you can about your clients.  As Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People, would say: “Be impressed, not impressive.”

I would love to help you mine for diamonds without the frenetic prospecting that I see so many professionals fall in to, but you’ll have to find the courage to contact me.  In the meantime, keep digging, and keep REACHING…

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