What You THINK You Know Gets in the Way!

Are You Really Coachable?

She sucked all of the good energy out of the room.

I called it. I knew she’d be the token malcontent when I got stuck sitting next to her at lunch the previous day. Joe B. finds something to like about everyone. She seemed nice, but she was a tough case.

Let me first warn you, this is a longer than usual article. I don’t want you to even start reading it unless you have about 9 minutes to focus on it.

Let me also back up.

Beth and I were in Philadelphia this week. We had several business reasons to be there, we even did some historical sight seeing, but we were primarily there for a high level mastermind meeting, one with the coaches we employ to help us with our book marketing and publicity efforts.

So, we were there to learn—to be open and receptive to the perceptions of our coaches and peers…

…but the lady from lunch couldn’t have been more closed down—shut off and insulated.


Let me set the stage.

At the mastermind meeting, we would each have the chance to update the group of fellow authors and speakers about our business platforms which generally consist of our books, training programs, live speaking events or any other product that supports our core expertise.

Our panel of coaches have us pitch what we’re doing, tell the group what our challenges or opportunities are, and then ask for constructive input. Both the coaches and peers get to ask questions and poke holes. So, in this respect, the mastermind meeting can feel a lot like the TV show, Shark Tank.

She was from Russia. We will call her Svetlana. (Not her real name)

At lunch the previous day, Svetlana made sure to mention that she was a registered attorney in her country and that she also had a double masters. She wanted to make sure we knew this. She blurted out a little about her business model at lunch. I’m not sure if it was her accent or the fact that I’m a little slow, but I didn’t fully understand it. She was all over the place and didn’t allow for an exchange. She was not an easy person to talk to or connect with. She seemed smart, but not very open.

I may not have any formal education, but I do know something about people. And I know that smart is not everything.

The fact that you went to a good school and have multiple sheepskins hanging on your wall is worth something, but not everything. All of the great ones—the truly enlightened entrepreneurs—know this.

They get this.

So let’s fast forward to the actual mastermind meeting. It was her turn to describe her business model to the small group and ask us for help. The objective of the meeting is for the coaches and peers to help the attendees get the unfiltered input they need to move their platforms forward. As Svetlana began to talk, I watched her body language. She seemed absorbed with herself and I knew instantly that it was going to be an interesting exchange, or lack thereof.

I wasn’t the only one that was foggy on her business model, it was apparently unclear to EVERYONE in the room. The businesswoman sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, “I have no idea what she‘s promoting or what her strategies consist of.”

So, we were treading carefully, trying to pull information out of her. As the group asked her straightforward questions, she became defensive. She actually argued with the expert coaches and her successful peers. I think she believed that since she went to the best schools, got an MBA and a law degree, she knew what was going on. I’m convinced she thought she was, by far, the smartest person in the room.

She kept saying, “You guys just don’t get it. Nobody understands my business model.”

Of course, Svetlana was 100% right…we WEREN’T getting it and we DIDN’T understand it, but it wasn’t because we were all stupid. It was because she couldn’t explain it succinctly and wasn’t addressing our questions directly. (Maybe that was the attorney inside of her. LOL!)

In one breath, she described how the recently changed economy in Russia had “crushed” her ability to command the fees she was asking for. She clearly stated, “This is a big problem,” and also that she was, “Looking for answers.”

In her next breath, after a few of us made suggestions that she may need to adjust her business model, she, again, sternly admonished, “You guys just don’t get it. Nobody understands my business model.”

Beth immediately leaned over and murmured, “You called this one.”

After working with thousands of independent sales people and entrepreneurs I have something called emotional intelligence, which can only come with experience. I can spot them a mile away and after lunch the previous day I mentioned to Beth that, “What Svetlana THINKS she knows is going to get in her way.”

Back to the mastermind…

After Svetlana snapped at a few of her peers, nice people that were trying to help her, we shut down. Why in the world would you want to HELP or mentor someone who suggested with their words and body language that they’re smarter than you—that they know it all?

The answer is, you WOULDN’T.

The world around us has changed a little. Smart certainly means something, but not nearly as much as PERSONALITY. It is my belief that high level people want to work with and help those who are kind, accepting and genuine and those vital traits have ZERO to do with the college degrees hanging on your wall.

Please don’t walk away from this blog thinking or saying; “Joe B. is denigrating higher education…he’s jealous because he doesn’t have one.” That’s not my trip at all. My point is not to put down formal education or to suggest that intelligence is irrelevant. My point is that…

…all the things you need to know can’t be learned from books. People can be really smart in some areas, and totally ignorant in others.

My other point is that just because you didn’t attend the best school or have multiple degrees doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, rich and happy.

I may be the living proof of that statement! LOL!

What I am trying to convey is that in today’s competitive world, to succeed in commission sales or any other entrepreneurial venture, you have to learn many things that never get taught in school.

So, where can you learn what you need to learn to win?

If you’re lucky and have good parents, maybe they teach you a thing or two. If you’re equally fortunate, you may bump into a mentor who’s willing to take you under their wing, out of the goodness of their heart. However, in this competitive world, we rarely see that.

Few people are altruistic.

The truth is, if you don’t seek out mentors or coaching programs, (paid or pro-bono) you may be totally on your own. If you have a strong drive, that may help, but I believe that the key factors are your level of openness, your humility and your charisma.

Your ability to be open to what you DON’T know, the charm to attract mentors and the ability to get along with others trumps your formal education.

Svetlana displayed none of these traits during our brief time together. She didn’t understand that, when you’re struggling, when your business is sinking and you need help, you’ve got to appeal to the mentors around you and then LISTEN to what they have to say. You can’t cut them off, literally telling them they’re ignorant, and then expect them to want to help you. What was apparent to those in the room was that:

Svetlana was in LOVE with her own ideas
Svetlana liked to hear the SOUND of her own voice
Svetlana was MARRIED to her current business model
Svetlana was convinced that she was the SMARTEST person in the room

…and lastly…

Svetlana was not a very open or COACHABLE person

What she THOUGHT she KNEW was getting in the way of her connecting with people, getting them to like her and then suggest viable solutions for her business challenges.

Near the end of her time on the hot seat, one very nice and talented peer suggested that Svetlana read the book, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. While I immediately thought, “Yeah, that book would really help her,” Svetlana just glared at the woman and gave her the ‘stink eye’.

When Svetlana saw that her peers had become quiet and realized her allotted time to seek input was over, she sank down in her chair and crossed her arms. Her body language said it all.

She realized that nobody was interested in giving her any more advice.

Look, this is not an uncommon scenario at all…at least not for me. People get into a new business and they put their heart and soul into it. It can be a product launch, a new sales career, a brick and mortar business start-up or an MLM business.

Because you’re so smart, you convince yourself you’re a winner. And when you hear, “NO” or the economy or some other business factor becomes an impediment, you get angry and double down on what you THINK you know. You become what we call an UNCONSCIOUS INCOMPETENT. (You don’t know what you don’t know) Because you believe in yourself so much, you’re going to prove everybody wrong.

Your business model MUST be right!


Good luck with that approach to business and life.

Before I exit this blog article, let me tell you about Svetlana’s exit from the mastermind meeting. Beth, my wife—gotta’ love her—sensed Svetlana was frustrated and went over to encourage her to keep seeking answers. Svetlana seemed even more closed off and muttered that the meeting was a “waste of time and money”. Then she stormed out of the room.

Svetlana made some choices that will, in my opinion, keep her from ever becoming highly successful. Let me tell you without sugar coating it what it will take for YOU to become truly coachable and ultimately WIN BIG in your chosen game:

You have to have the desire to LEARN from others around you
You must to be willing to constantly CHANGE
You’re going to have to ADJUST or refine your paradigms
You’ll need to PIVOT away from failing strategies to save your business
You have to possess the ability to RECOGNIZE your mistakes

I don’t care if you are 30-something or old like me (54), it’s never too late to change your personality.

To WIN BIG you’ll need to figure out how to play the game of life. This requires that you acknowledge that you’re wrong about some of the things that you think you know…some of the things that may be getting in your way.

Are you willing to do this in front of your mentors and peers?

You may not be if you’ve won big at the game of higher education. But then again, advanced education has nothing to do with winning the game of life.

Hey…if you enjoyed this and want to read more…the book is out!

The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales is available on Amazon:

CLICK HERE:  http://amzn.to/1b39pk4

Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales 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 proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. 

Go to the RED ARROW BELOW for access to FREE GROUP COACHING opportunities and other complimentary sales/leadership resources.

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