I made an assumption several years ago that could have been costly. With over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing experience, I thought I had heard or read about every good business strategy. During the first 15 years of my career I had read books, listed to tapes and CD’s, gone to seminars, interviewed successful people and more. During that time, I received somewhere in the neighborhood of one million dollars in sales training, so I thought “What is more of the same going to do for me?” Besides I work 60, 70 sometimes 80 hours a week so who has time for this stuff anymore?
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
The wake-up call for me came a little more than six years ago as we were just bringing our then new technology DigitalDocs™ to the title industry. I wondered at the time if our existing sales channels and marketing strategies would bring this groundbreaking technology to the title industry effectively.
I started to revisit the teachings of sales pro Brian Tracy and I soon discovered I was “out of the loop”. The marketplace had many new (and very successful) experts I had never heard of who were teaching the latest in sales and personal excellence (another area I had been ignoring.) I was shocked at the amount of websites, seminars, and content that was now available to anyone. The subject matter ranged from sales and marketing concepts, to website optimization, to personal development, to email marketing and more. Lately mobile technology, blogging and social networking are the hot topics.
It was then I read a statement, more like a philosophy, that changed my outlook:
If you want to be successful, work harder on yourself than you do on your job. –Jim Rohn
I thought “Wow, I am working very, very hard on my job, at least 60 hours a week. What is this telling me?” But the fact was we weren’t getting the initial results I thought we should, so something must be “not right”. I decided I would follow Mr. Rohn’s advice although not without hesitancy. I was afraid to work fewer hours as it might result in a decrease in revenues. But I did it anyway.
From that point forward, I began to read every day (early morning and late at night) books on self-development and sales and marketing excellence. Some were “how to’s” and others took a more psychological approach. Some were written in the 1800’s, 1900’s and several in this century. Did you know there is a book called “How to read a book” (first written in 1940 by Mortimer Adler)? I also bought CD’s for my commute, and obtained podcasts and audio books for the times when I wasn’t in the car.
What happened was nothing short of dramatic. The more I read, the more I learned and the more I learned the more effective we became. The company grew and we went from doing business in one state (Florida) to now having customers in well over 40 states in just a few years.
Would it have happened anyway? Maybe…but probably not as fast and looking back I wouldn’t want to take the chance. I now know that learning and self-development is a never ending job for as long as I am in business and for the rest of my life.
As it turns out, I am enjoying the process. I am learning from experts (some are geniuses) from years’ past, and today, at whatever pace I want to read or listen. The good news is I only have to spend time on the subjects in which I am interested. I don’t believe anyone is exempt from this whether you are 25 or 95 years old. If you want to attain success all you have to do is work harder on yourself.