Why You Should Learn From the Many Diverse People Around You
"The measure of a person,” says Mark Cover, “is not only how many people show up at his funeral, but how much variety there is in the group of people who show up.” The more variety, the richer the life.
“I’m not sure where I learned this,” he continues, “but somewhere in my twenties, I realized that I could learn from literally every single person I came into contact with. I think a lot of lives get short changed because many people don’t believe that.”
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Mark came from a rural farming community. Growing up, he had no idea what a real estate developer even was. No one would have ever predicted that he would become the CEO for a division of a multi-billion-dollar real estate development firm. He jokes that when he first graduated from college, all he had was a couple polyester suits, a smile, and debt. It is that humble beginning that taught him about the many opportunities available to someone with an open mind and a willingness to learn without preconceived judgments.
Although, at this point in this life, it would be easy for Mark to limit his contacts to business colleagues, investors and neighbors in his affluent neighborhood, he goes out of his way to cultivate relationships with diverse groups of people he wouldn’t typically run into in the normal course of a day. Every Sunday, he and his wife drive 35 minutes to a church that is in a neighborhood very different from their own. Sure, they could go to the church that is only a few minutes away. But, Mark doesn’t believe he can serve or learn as much close to home.
Parenting, Money and a Learner’s Permit
One group of people Mark has had the pleasure of learning from are private wealth holders. Because of his career, Mark has had the opportunity to meet the ultra affluent and financially savvy. And he’s observed what wealth can do to family dynamics. Inheriting great sums of money doesn’t always lead to more freedom. In fact, Mark says many second- or third-generation wealth holders are “frozen in fear.” They are afraid they will mismanage the money and ruin their family’s legacy.
“That’s why,” he says, “I’m a big believer in enabling young people with a sense of wonder, excitement and optimism for their personal opportunity and ability to accomplish things that matter to them.”
He also believes that parents must reflect respect for their children from an early age and that is how he raised his four children (now adults). Mark and his wife had a parenting philosophy in which they openly talked with their children, shared insights and wisdom and “always gave them a little more rope than they expected.” For example, in Texas, you can get a learner’s permit when you are 15. So, Mark says he pushed each one of his children to get their learner’s permit as close to their fifteenth birthday as possible. Lots of other parents were terrified to have their children start driving in the big city, but Mark has always viewed things from the other side. “It’s your life,” he says. “It’s short. Go out and grab it by the horns. As long as it doesn’t hurt yourself or someone else, go for it!”
Avoid this “Ghost” of Christmas Future
When was the last time you read the classic book: “A Christmas Carol,” by Charles Dickens?
If it’s been a while, I highly recommend it. Dickens is a superb story teller, and there is a reason this is a “classic.”
While reading this, it reminded me of an encounter I had that was a chilling reminder of the bad “Ghost of Christmas Future” I narrowly avoided all those years ago. Here’s what happened:
I was on my way to work with a new client one day when I stopped at my local Starbucks for a cup of coffee.
As I stood in line, I saw a city bus stop and a bunch of people get off. One guy – mid 40’s, tall and lanky – started walking towards the Starbucks, and there was something about the way he was walking that was familiar to me.
When he entered the store, I recognized him from many years before when we were both struggling inside sales reps trying to sell investments over the phone.
His name was John. After I got my coffee, and he got his, he came up to me and said, “You’re Mike Brooks, right?” “Yes” I said. “Hey, we used to work together!” he said. “I remember,” I said.
He asked me what I was up to these days, and I told him I had become a consultant in inside sales, and that I was off to work with a new client. I asked him what he was up to and this is when the chill hit me.
He said he was starting a new sales job today, and then he rolled his eyes as if to say, “And this one will suck, too.”
We walked out of the store together, and said goodbye and went our separate ways. He went to wait at the next bus bench, and I got into my Mercedes and drove away.
As I sipped my coffee and listened to the tunes in my plush car, I thought about how different our lives had turned out and wondered what happened to make them so different. As I did, I knew exactly what it was.
During our time together, the owners of the company brought in a sales trainer to motivate us.
He spoke to us for an hour about what makes the difference between the top money earners in sales versus all the other sales reps.
He said that you have a choice to either commit to learning and using proven scripts and sales techniques that would double or triple your income, or you could just keep doing what you were doing (ad-libbing), and then you’d just keep getting what you had been getting.
He said: “If you are willing to do what most sales reps aren’t willing to do, then soon you’ll be able to enjoy the things, the lifestyle, and the future that most sales reps will never be able to enjoy.”
I was sold. John wasn’t.
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I invested in this sales trainer’s cassette series, “Double Your Income Selling Over the Phone.” I committed to learning, practicing, and doing what he suggested.
Soon afterwards, my sales and income soared.
John thought what the trainer taught was just a bunch of old sales techniques that wouldn’t work for him.
John thought he knew better.
John didn’t believe in using scripts.
“I’ll sound like a telemarkerter,” he said. “I have to go with the flow because each prospect is different,” he persisted.
John didn’t believe in putting in the time, energy, or money to get better.
So he didn’t.
Fast forward to our Starbucks encounter. Over 20 years had passed between that sales trainer’s talk, and I realized, that seminar was the moment I made the decision to change my life.
When John showed up that day, he was the Ghost of Christmas Past that could have become my Ghost of Christmas Future.
My life has changed because of other sales trainer’s material, my commitment to investing in other sales material, and then learning and using all of it diligently.
My life is infinitely better because I did, and I have no doubt that had I not invested, learned, and used proven selling techniques, it would have been me that was taking a bus to my next, new job.
It sends shivers down my spine just thinking about it.
The moral here is that you, too, can avoid the Ghost of Christmas Past from becoming your future. There are a lot of great sales training books, CD’s, and courses you and your team can take advantage of to get better.
One of the best (in my humble opinion) is my new book “Power Phone Scripts.” Over 500 word-for-word phrases, questions, and scripts that will make you better in just about any situation you find yourself in.
So why not give yourself a gift this season?