So I’m having dinner with this one guy and another guy a few months back. It was a dinner where a business coach of mine was introducing me to another colleague that he was coaching as well. He wanted us to meet so that we could encourage each other and share best practices.
I’ll call the other peer colleague, “Zach.”
Zach is a very nice man. A few years older than me. A highly skilled sales trainer. Knows his stuff.
Zach and I roughly do the same thing, so we are talking about what we were both building inside of our business models. I got on one of my rants like, “What I build and the way I build it may not be ‘pretty’, because I’m not formally educated, but I can promise you that I’ll finish whatever I set out to do, regardless of what it takes, because that’s what Joe B. does…blah, blah, blah…”
That kind of thing…where I refer to myself in third person in an attempt to be funny.
I went on and on. Zach asked a few questions about where I was at now, listens for a while, is quiet for a moment and then says, “I got you figured out. You’re the type of person that just says to himself, ‘I will win.’”
So I go, “Yeah…I guess.”
He went on to tell me that he’s met only a few people like me over his long career, people that simply make a macro decision first that they’re going to win at their game, then they figure out what all of the micro elements of the process need to be. I’m putting it in my own words, but the essence of what he said was that he’s encountered a few people that reach the conclusion, “I will WIN,” then they go out into their market and figure out how to win, but ultimately succeeding at their game is never in doubt.
“…people that simply make a macro decision first that they’re going to win at their game, then they figure out what all of the micro elements of the process need to be.”
I enjoyed meeting Zach. He had a lot of great little sayings and quips from years of outside sales and also being on the road training salespeople for Sandler Training. He asked if I would stay in touch with him as we don’t live too far from each other, and also asked if I would act as an accountability partner—check in with him—as he was feeling a little isolated in his daily activities.
As I finished my overpriced steak and drove home, I couldn’t get that one little thing he said out of my mind. “I got you figured out. You’re the type of person that just says to himself, ‘I will win.’”
I believe that his words stuck in my head because when he said them to me, I could tell that something I gave off led him to really feel I was committed to winning, regardless of the cost. I had never put my resolve or commitment in that specific frame of reference he used, “I will win.” In fact, I’ve never consciously thought, “I will win,” in those exact words before, but then again, maybe I always had done exactly that in some sort of unconscious way.
His comment made me go back to week-one in sales, July 1979. This was when Bud Cole (my agency VP at Pennsylvania Life) stopped me in front of the donuts and asked me if I’d ever read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This is the story I tell in my first book, The CAP Equation.
I buy the book and it changes the way I think, hence, it began to change my life. Napoleon Hill tells the stories of men and women that started out with a certain objective in mind and then simply refused to stop dreaming, scheming, working, tweaking and planning until they accomplished what they had originally set out to do. That book alone (and my Father’s wisdom and encouragement) was the reason I had enough inspiration and internal motivation to fight through some battles that would otherwise have sunk me…and most people that try 100% cold call commission sales. But I know that somewhere in my subconscious, when things weren’t going well, I said to myself, “I will win,” I’ll figure this thing out, and that was that. I sold enough of those $39.00 accident policies to be considered for a management promotion by age 20.
As I made the drive home from Fleming’s steak house after my dinner with my coach, Rob and my new friend, Zach, my mind traveled from Bud Cole’s Think and Grow Rich intervention to my subsequent gig in the MLM business.
Nobody really makes money in multi-level marketing right? But in a few short years of doing it part time I was up on stage as the youngest single Emerald Direct Distributor in the history of Amway US. I was a 24-year old star, being recognized nationally. I almost quit the business ten times inside of my first year, however, there was a stubbornness that I had already learned—the personal precedent I’d founded from figuring out how to survive and thrive selling those stupid $39.00 policies. I was 100% committed to winning. I just had to figure out how.
And I did.
There is the rest of the story, and it was a doozy. I documented it (in fictionalized fashion) in my first novel, Drawing Circles. It’s an incredibly surprising, tragic and real story.
Getting back to the present, my Lexus knows its own way home, which allows me to daydream, and that’s what I did as my brain connected another dot or two. I drove and thought about Zach’s words—the “I will win,” thing. I applied those words to other leaps of faith that I had taken to see if there was a correlation.
One notable example was accepting a ‘scratch’ Regional Sales Coordinator’s contract with Aflac back in the early 90’s. By the way, this is about the stupidest thing a person can do because the position was front-loaded with expenses and you have zero revenue going in. However, by 2008 from a zero production cold start, we had established a 120,000,000 million dollar in force block of business for Aflac. I had done so well that I had the ability to step away and semi-retire, which is what I did. The legacy team we built was so legendary that two years ago Aflac’s West Territory entered me into their Hall of Fame.
With regard to my Aflac career, I was NEVER 100% prepared for any of the challenges that were thrown at me, and certainly not ready for the various levels of success that can offer even more unique challenges. None of that mattered because, right up front in 1992 when I accepted that original ‘scratch’ position, I’d made a decision to win. I knew instinctively that as long as that decision was made first, I’d figure everything out.
Last but not least, I applied Zach’s hypothesis to the journey I’m on now. The one where I stepped away from corporate America and reinvented myself in this bubble that some of us lovingly call the, “speaker, author, coach thing.”
I know it may sound glamorous to write books that get glowing reviews, get hired to step on stage to great applause, and to be asked by ultra-successful people to formally coach them, but trust me, there are many days when I wonder what the F- I’ve gotten myself into. There are so many things that go into writing a book. The least of which is the emotion that WHAT you’re writing, WHILE you are writing it is probably pure sh*t and nobody will read it. LOL!
Then there is the speaking on stage stuff. The first unnatural thing about this is asking a group to hire you and pay you money to get up on their stage. Then, if they do hire you, you actually have to show up and kill it. It’s not bad if you actually like being the center of attention, but I’m at an age where I’d prefer not to be. But as they tell me, if you wanna’ sell books, you gotta’ be out there speaking. So the whole thing is weird and wonderful and mysterious.
I sat there in my driveway and thought again about Zach’s theory—the one where I’m the guy who just says, “I will win,“ and then figures it all out.
Before I turn off my ignition I flashed back on the scene a few years ago. I’m sitting at my home office desk in L.A., working on the manuscript of my second book, not 100% sure where my author, speaker, coach thing was going to go. The first book had started to sell really well. I was getting some offers to speak. People were beginning to ask me to coach them, but the whole direction of the gig was still a little blurry to me.
Beth, my wife, walks over and hands me some mail, but stands there. There’s an envelope from the California Department of Insurance. It’s a renewal notice for my insurance license. I’ve had the license since July of 1979. I would need this license to be active if I ever wanted or needed to accept another position in the industry, the industry I’d spent almost my entire career in.
She was looking at me with that look. Then she asked, “We aren’t going to renew this, right?”
And I knew I was screwed.
It was at this time I’d have to either stand up with confidence and state, “I will win” at my new game so, sure, lets tear this thing up. Or…I’d capitulate to the feelings of security that the active insurance license would offer me. (Like a nice warm, soft blanky)
I recall that I was quiet as Beth stood over my desk. It wasn’t my finest moment of resolve.
“Honey, maybe it’s a good idea if we just renew this license for now.”
She glared at me. Didn’t say anything for a moment, then spoke.
“Joe, we are either going to do this thing or not. You already know you can write and people like what you write. People love to hear you speak and train. You know how to do this. You’re a natural business coach and mentor. Why are we messing around here?”
It was at that moment that my mind went right back to the teachings of Napoleon Hill and every truth I’d learned about making a real commitment over the years. It was then, whether it was conscious or not, that I said to myself, “I will win,” I will get good at this, just like I got good at everything else I decided to get good at.
Beth was still standing over my desk waiting for me to ‘man up.’ I smiled and slowly tore up the envelope and its contents into about eight neat pieces. I dropped the pieces into my trash as she smiled and walked out of my view. That was a few years back and I have continued to get better and better at this strange gig I am in. I am winning and I am figuring a lot of things out.
I turned off my ignition and walked inside of my house. Beth asked me how the dinner was. I told her that I had met this guy, Zach, and he accused me of being that guy who says, “I will win,” and then goes out and does exactly that. She smiled and said, “That’s nice honey,” and then went back to watching House of Cards.
I haven’t gotten Zach’s words—his accusation out of my mind since we met.
Nobody had ever pointed that thing out to me before in the way he had. I’m glad he did, because now I use it as my own little personal mantra. Whenever I’m questioning the price of building my business and getting to the next level, I simply tell myself:
“You will win, Joe!”
“There is no doubt about it. It’s already in the bag—already accomplished!”
“The resources and strategies needed for you to win will appear.”
“Just keep moving forward. Don’t stop. Your skillsets will almost naturally develop and you’ll figure it all out.”
Are you that rare person that Zach has also met? Do you say to yourself, “I will win,” first and then go figure it all out?
Apparently, I’ve been doing this my entire professional career. I was a confused, broke 18-year old when I started reading Think and Grow Rich and many other incredible books. Today I’m a multi-millionaire, a business owner and an investor. I also have a wonderful family life and a ton of great friends, so yeah…I guess this kind of stuff works.
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on the roles of direct selling, entrepreneurialism and leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his platform, www.joebuzzello.com and The CAP Equation©.