You May Be Taking Counsel From the WRONG Person

(The 4 types of people you MUST surround yourself with)

I don’t trust people. I haven’t for a long time. As I get older I’ve become even more cynical. Part of my suspicious nature comes from the stuff I’ve seen and experienced. Many of you have read my latest novel, Drawing Circles and you’ve commented that you were “blown away”—thought that most people wouldn’t have survived some of the crap that the main character in the book (Tony DiBona) went through…and YES, the main character was closely shaped after me. (Just in case you were still wondering)

When I was younger I was quite impressionable—would follow anyone with a nice story. After I got burned BAD the first time (in my 20s) I began to look deeper into people’s background. As I aged into my 30s I was not so trusting and in my 40s I began to use Al Gore’s new invention, the World Wide Web, to carefully examine each and every proposition thrown my way—and the person throwing it.

Now I’m in my 50s and I don’t trust anybody until I stick a microscope way up their rear end…and I don’t sign on the line that is dotted until I speak to a few wise people first. I’m too old to be fooled again. I don’t have time to waste and I don’t like being lied to.

I want to challenge you to ask yourself an important two-part question:

Who am I taking COUNSEL or direction from in my life and my business?

AND… Do they have good fruit on their tree and deep roots underneath? 

Fruit on Tree

“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?” —Matthew 7:16

Why is this two-part question so critical for you to ask and answer?

Here’s why…

My guess is, regardless of your age, you probably don’t have a lot of time or money to waste. You are probably dealing with many personal and financial pressures to makes ends meet—keep everyone happy at home and figure out how to put away some nice money for the future so you can slow down a little—not have to work 50-60 hours a week forever.

In other words, you believe you are as talented as the next guy or girl, you want to get ahead and you want to get ahead sooner rather than later. In fact, you know that your LIFE and your very financial SURVIVAL depends on your ability to use your time and assets well.

Am I right?

In my first book, The CAP Equation, A Foolproof Formula for Unlimited Success in Sales, I tell a story about my first encounter with a dude named, Bud Cole. Bud was a real piece of work. He stood about six foot-nine and had a bad temper along with a bad toupee. He towered over me in the break room one morning in 1979 and sternly (but wisely) told me that in “years to come” I’d become a “product of” the books I read and the people I chose to “associate with and listen to.”

Boy was he ever right! I had surrounded myself with many of the WRONG people and I was taking their counsel without checking the fruit on their tree!

The next ten years of my life was like a roller coaster ride on acid! Almost ten years to the day I had become a complete product of what I allowed into my brain and who I took counsel from. Some of the results were okay, but some of the most important pieces of my life were damaged almost beyond repair. After I lost my business, my marriage, all my money (and most of my family’s nest egg) and after my home went into foreclosure and I filed personal bankruptcy, I gathered up the broken pieces and decided to change a few things.

The first decision I made was that I’d start over, but this time I would choose my input, my friendships and my professional associations far more thoughtfully and carefully. I went out of my way to make sure I was taking counsel from people that had the right kind of fruit on their tree.

Look, if you’re following me personally or The CAP Equation sales platform—if you’re reading this blog—you’re probably in some sort of sales, leadership or entrepreneurial position. You most likely need a little if not a LOT of support, training, coaching and mentorship. If you are NEW, your entire career probably hinges on the counsel you receive. If you are a veteran, the advice and coaching you get may determine whether you get to that next level or if your career stalls. Bottom line, we ALL need sage mentorship, but there are too many posers out there and as my friend, Tim Martin likes to say, “Your manager sucks at training.” Your-manager-sucks-at-training-blog article

And then…there’s your personal life!

You need sage mentorship and coaching in regards to personal issues, financial issues, relationship issues, etc.

But where in the heck do you go for that?

I’m going to finish up this article by telling you about the 4 types of people you need to seek out and listen to. Three of them will benefit you professionally and one of these types will benefit you personally.

  1. Your Professional UPLINE

The first thing I want you to do is identify someone that benefits from your success in your upline or hierarchy. I want you to make certain that they have built what you want to build. You’ll notice I sad, “BUILD,” I didn’t say inherit. Again, there are a lot of posers in sales management…someone who stepped into a position because of who they knew. They can’t help you if they didn’t build what you want to build from the ground floor up. Find that person and figure out how to get their time.

  1. A Talented PEER

After you take care of #1, then locate a peer that is tearing up the business you are in. Again…beg, borrow and steal their time. Do whatever you must to befriend them and get them to share their best practices with you. Offer to buy them lunch—tell them how “great” they are. (They are suckers for that! LOL!) You will learn different things from them than you will from your hierarchy. They will have a slightly different perspective on things. Also, they will not be as filtered as your hierarchy. They won’t be as careful with your delicate ego. They will tell you exactly what’s wrong with you and your game plan because they aren’t worried about hurting your feelings and they are generally type A personalities. (Quite direct)

  1. A Qualified External COACH (or coaching program)

After #1 and #2 are taken care of, then move to #3…find a great and qualified external coach or coaching program. Someone truly gifted is going to ask you questions you’d never ask yourself and help you find solutions that make your business more profitable. They are WAY outside of your bubble; hence, any of your B.S. corporate culture or issues don’t influence them.

However, before you open your wallet and spend thousands and thousands of dollars, make sure you establish a budget and stay within it. A great rule of thumb is 2 – 3 % of your gross annual commissions. Also, start small…maybe start with an online program before you pay for personal coaching so you can gauge the content and its effectiveness.

Again…make sure the coach or coaching program is conducted by a person that has tons of fruit on their tree, not some organization or dude that just wants to vacuum money out of your pocket. I see it all of the time, executive sales coaching being offered, in the way of group or individual programs. You can easily spend $1,000 or more a month and get a professional speaker or trainer that spent a short stint in corporate America (or worse, academia) and then he or she decided they’d rather spend their time on stage versus selling, hiring and training people in the real world.

As for yours truly, I invested thirty-five years in commission sales and organizational leadership before I even thought of putting my thoughts on paper or getting up on a stage. I spoke to a businessperson a few months back that spent over $6,000 for personal coaching and her sales results—production—actually went down. Definitely get an external coach, but start slow and test the water (content) before diving in.

  1. Your LIFE Board of Directors

Now, let’s focus on everything else, the stuff that doesn’t have to do with your career. I think you know what typically happens in the area of counsel in your personal or domestic life. We take financial advice from family members that are broke or in debt. We take marriage advice from our friends that are on their fourth marriage, we take spiritual counsel from buddies that will tell you anything you want to hear. That just doesn’t work.

Instead of fishing in those ponds I’d like you to try something else. Make a list of 2 – 4 people that have tremendous fruit on their trees, people that are generally older and hopefully much wiser than you. I want you to approach them and ask them if you can occasionally ask them for advice on the challenges and decisions that will affect your life, marriage, family, finance, etc. In essence, I want you to form a LIFE Board of Directors for yourself.

Okay…I know that when I began to employ this thinking, surrounding myself with people that truly had good fruit on their tree, everything changed for me. I began to learn things. I started to think differently. Some of these people challenged me to be a better salesperson, a better leader, a better son, brother, friend…even a better person.

Who or what are you taking counsel from?

Do they have good fruit on their tree?

Take a moment and take stock of this!

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 Also, if you haven’t had a chance to read or review my book, The CAP Equation, you can click on the link below. You can read the first 2 chapters for free:

The CAP Equation© website offers free resources for commission salespeople and sales leaders such as:

  • A library of training articles (Blogs)
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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©. Please visit Joe at: or

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