Fire yourself?

I recently came across a movie clip on You Tube. It was the famous Alec Baldwin scene from Glengarry Glen Ross and the real message it delivered was, and is, undeniable.

If you haven’t seen the movie let me set the scene. The movie revolves around the struggles of a less than ethical real estate company with less than ethical salesman working for them. Each day is a struggle to “close the deal” and earn big commissions—no matter what it takes.

Alec Baldwin’s character is the heavyweight that has been asked by “downtown” to speak with the salesman of one of their offices that is doing poorly. These salesmen come back to the office each day at 7:30 PM, drink coffee and complain about all the reasons they can’t sell anything: the economy, the real estate market, and everything else they can think of. “Only the rich get richer” and “sales is a tough business” are their daily excuses.

Enter Baldwin’s character. The first thing he does after saying “Let’s get started…” is to scream at one of the salesmen (Jack Lemmon) who left his desk to get another cup of coffee, just as the meeting started. “PUT THAT COFFEE DOWN!” He continued, “You think I’m (being tough) on you? The good news is you’re fired. Do I have your attention now?” Great way to start a meeting.

Baldwin then goes on to announce the new sales contest for the month. The first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado (the “in” car in those days), second prize was a set of steak knives. “Third prize is you’re fired.” (One can only imagine what they did to fourth and fifth place.) He then goes on a profanity-laced tirade for several minutes about how the salesmen were ineffective and ends the meeting by saying they would never be successful, “because a loser is a loser”.

The scene is a profane, abusive and disrespectful oratory (don’t watch it if bad language offends you) that is fitting to the rest of the movie. But, as I watched for a second and third time the more subtle message began to surface…

You and I are still in the real estate (title) industry after all this time and everything that has transpired. Illegal and unethical lending practices, real estate and title professionals committing fraud, a market that has lost 30% or more of its value in 36 months, and order counts that are 50%-90% off from peak just to name a few. We’re still here. Why?

You have every reason to stand around the coffee pot and sing the blues with your associates. Foreclosures are at an all-time high, bankruptcies are commonplace, one out of ten Americans are unemployed, no one can qualify for a mortgage and gas is $4 a gallon. Why not go to lunch with the office and predict as others have done, “the market won’t turn around until 2016 and will never be what it was!”

Why don’t you do these things? Because you have said, “I’m staying no matter what.” You could have quit but you didn’t. You could take another job but you won’t. You could have said, “ENOUGH” and thrown in the towel but instead you said “bring it on!”

Alec Baldwin character’s message was it doesn’t matter what the “coffee drinkers” in this world are saying, what the market is doing (or who is stealing money from their escrow). I think he would say to us today, “I don’t care if can’t see real estate agents because they aren’t in the office. Go find them.”

But I also realize you may not be happy with where you are today. The real estate market has affected us all, right? Maybe not…I still routinely hear success stories from the best of salespeople in our industry.  They may have to work a little harder, but they’re still getting it done.

There is opportunity all around you and all it takes is someone with a little bit of innovative thinking and positive energy to rise to the top and it won’t matter what the market or anyone else is doing. If you are in need of a wake-up call, use a similar strategy as Baldwin’s character and fire yourself! No, I didn’t say quit your job. What I meant is fire yourself and create a specific objective that once attained, allows you to hire you back again. What objective? Something worthwhile and attainable, five new customers, five more orders this month than last, process each file one minute faster than what you usually do or 20 new sales calls in the next 30 days. Whatever is meaningful to you that demonstrates to you your ability to perform your job with excellence.

The movie Glengarry Glen Ross may have said “A loser is a loser” but we know that’s not who we are. The next time I see you, ask me, and I will tell you the truth…a winner is a winner.


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