You want to know the BEST advice I’ve ever gotten?
I mean, a sentence said to me by a complete stranger? A sentence composed of special words that magically changed my life?
And a sentence that, hopefully, can change your life, too? 🙂
Before I tell you, I think some background exposition is in order.
Back in 2017, I worked as a door-to-door salesman. Needless to say, I wasn’t fond of the work and deceptive practices that it entailed. What I was fond of, however, was I had a reason to wear a suit everyday. There’s something about wearing a suit that fills you with confidence. You feel like you’re someone with a purpose. Someone who’s actually contributing to the world. Yeah…baby.
At the time, I was focused heavily on President Trump and his business lifestyle and management-style leadership.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is NOT an endorsement of Donald Trump’s policies. You have to give credit where it’s due. Trump made billions of dollars in the most competitive business environment in the world (i.e. New York City). He wrote multiple bestsellers, ran a successful game show, and even won a presidential election. These aren’t things the average Joe can do, let’s be honest.
Trump knows how to be productive from the moment the sun rises in the morning, to when it sets in the evening. I consulted his book, The Art of the Deal, and got an inside-look at his everyday life. When he wakes up, the first thing he does is read the newspaper, The New York Times. This ritual keeps him mentally-sharp, as any amount of reading will do.
So, being the protege I was, I followed suit (no pun intended). I subscribed to The Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s main newspaper. I suppose, in essence, I was modeling myself as the “mini-Trump”, being that CT and the Courant are a miniscule version of New York and the Times, respectively. Further, I was decades younger than him and far more wet behind the ears with the machinations of the world.
Yes, I was a Trump-wannabe back then. I’m glad I did the experiment, because it showed me what I’m not.
Anyway, back to the sales job. It gave me an excuse to be like Trump, day in and out. It gave me the opportunity to rise in the business world by attempting to open my own sales office (which, to my eventual chagrin, never materialized).
In case you’re wondering, yes, this job was what you call a “pyramid scheme.” Basically, prospective employees are lured in with the flimsy promise of starting their own businesses. They also get a shot at making a crapload of money by training people to excel in sales.
What they don’t tell you is this: 99.99% of all applicants who end up working for these offices, WILL NOT succeed in this industry. That’s just the way it is. The system only allows for so few at the top while offering plenty of space for the rest at the bottom. It’s the Pareto principle in action.
On his business endeavors, Trump himself went on record saying, “Most people just aren’t cut out for this. I don’t know why.”
But it wasn’t through Trump that I learned this unfortunate truth. It was my (temporary) boss.
See, the office I worked for was doing poorly. Overall, sales were abysmal. The team I was part of (responsible for energy sales) was tanking so bad, we were whittled down to 3 people because so many agents left and we couldn’t get new people in.
And the worst part?
We weren’t even feeling the urgency to pick up the slack and find solutions. At that point, we were the animal lying on its back, stomach exposed, accepting our fate at the feet of an oncoming predator.
It got to the point where the Office Manager from Boston had to come down to Hartford and clean house (let’s call him “Blake”). Blake’s managing style was in stark contrast to my boss. My boss had the tendency to let issues drift and lacked a firm grip on all his sales agents. When he talked, his voice sounded subdued and worn out. He didn’t radiate much conviction, either.
But Blake…man. Like I said, Blake was the total opposite. In his first day as Office Manager, he woke everyone up with a presentation about his background and what needs to happen. I remember Blake standing tall over everybody as my boss was just sitting next to him, shoulders slouched and authority dissipated. I felt pretty bad for him, not going to lie. The sales industry is as cutthroat as it gets, and no one’s position is ever guaranteed or safe.
Blake then said to us, point-blank, that he would fire everyone in the room if it meant improving the Office’s performance.
At one point, he asked all of us, “How many of you want to be Office Managers?” Everyone in the room promptly shot their hands up.
What he said next caught us off-guard. “Well, guess what? Most of you aren’t going to do it. It’s as simple as that.”
Pareto principle, remember?
Blake put all of us on notice and basically said, “Either start hitting standards or get out.”
And Blake’s advice to all the whiners, underachievers, and excuse-makers?
“Shut the f*ck up.”
Yep, “shut the f- up.” There you have it, those 4 words were the best advice I’ve ever gotten. You’re thinking of an excuse? “Shut the f- up.” Think the market is unfair? “Shut the f- up.” Think the system is rigged? “Shut. The. F-. Up.”
When Blake said those 4 simple words, he spewed them with such authority and conviction. No quivering, no wavering. It’s not what you say that matters, it’s how you say it. Blake had 10 years of industry experience behind him. He knew that excuses were just that: excuses. He’s seen and heard everything, and whatever people say about the sales industry is just noise.
Blake was my boss for only a week. He offered my energy sales team a brief stay up in Boston. The goal was to learn the tricks of the trade over a few days through his high-performing sales team. He was even cool enough to let us stay at his place overnight.
When I woke up the morning after the first day, I was dead.
I mean, inside I was dead.
I mean, I was emotionally and spiritually DEAD.
I didn’t even want to go to his Office and spend another day out in the field. I didn’t want to knock on another door for as long as I lived.
At that point, I was consciously and subconsciously aware that I wasn’t meant for this sales gig. No matter whose wing I was under, I wasn’t ever going to succeed in a business like this.
And that was that.
I told Blake that I didn’t want to waste his time, and he appreciated it. He wasn’t irate in the slightest. He knew this moment was coming. Remember, he was in the business for 10 years and has seen everything. We shook hands and I went on my way back home.
And that was that.
3 years later, I can easily say that Blake was the most influential boss I’ve had, albeit being under his leadership for only a week. Every now and then, I still hear his voice in my ear whenever an excuse to be unproductive starts to creep in.
“Shut the f*ck up.”
Thanks for reading, everyone! Be sure to hit Like and Follow me through either WordPress or Email! Also, this was my 100th post on this site! Man, time has flown by! Here’s to another 100. Till next time! 🙂