Anywhere you can get it.
The best way to become good, even great, at anything is to learn anything you can, from anywhere that you can. I for one, have been fortunate enough to have had a number of mentors in my career, People, who took the time to teach me, to bring me along, and to foster me, when it came to helping me move forward. Often these were older and more experienced people. But the point was that these people took the time to help a young man who wanted to learn.
From Bill Davison, president of Maine electronics, I learned how to organize an entire status presentation over the course of a single weekend, so that I would be able to face a hostile team from our largest customer on a cold Monday morning in January.
From Joe Bugel, the engineer, or what they used to call “methodizer”, on my programs, I learned the gentle art of office politics, especially when one day he told me that I needn’t worry about the upcoming lay off because I did not make enough money to make a difference…and he was right.
From Lou Cardillo, I learned how to deal with buyers no matter how hard and tough they were…and Lou was one of the toughest…but with that proverbial heart of gold.
From Art Branstine, I learned how to develop, and complete a huge annual proposal. It was for the Minuteman program that our company Rockwell, was prime on. He worked with me every evening in those pre-computer days of legal sized graphed sheets until I got it right. An experience I never forgot, nor do I ever want to repeat, which caused me to become the only PCB sales manager ever who had no interest in quoting, and would not even allow prints in my office.
And from Presbyterian pastor John Gable, I learned the art of conflict resolution in a calm and peaceful manner, where everyone would walk away feeling like they won.
From my father I learned to get along with everybody, the good ones, the difficult ones, and even the obnoxious bores. My father got along with everyone to the point that they all loved him in the end.
And from my mother I learned how to talk to anybody, she could strike up and hold a conversation with everyone from Billy Shufeldt, the little brat across the street to Mike Landry the would be Hells Angel with the Harley from next door to my college professors. And now, at the ripe old age of ninety one, she still talks to everyone she meets. And everyone is fine with her as long as they talk. My sister and I like to say that she would get along fine with Charles Manson, as long as he talked with her.
Okay, so those are some of the people who have helped me along the way. Now who are yours? Think about that, for a minute, reflect on your own life, and remember all the people. along the way who took enough of an interest in you to share some of their knowledge and experience with you.
No matter who you are, no matter if you are type of person who’s theme song is “I did it my way”, you didn’t, you were helped along the way, all of us were and we should appreciate that.
Even today I am always looking for people who can inspire me to be better, to be smarter, and to grow.
When I want inspiration, I read a biography of someone I admire. Teddy Roosevelt is always a great inspiration to me. I love reading anything about old Teddy.
When I want to do a case study in business, I’ll watch an Episode of “Undercover Boss” or the “Profit”.
Sometimes when watching T.V, I’ll stop by QVC for a few minutes and watch the pros do their hard selling. Those people know how to sell! And speaking about knowing how to sell, no one was better at it than Ron Popeil. What a master he was at the hard sell. In fact, he started at the Wisconsin State Fair, before his Pocket Fisherman made him famous. I lived in Wisconsin for a while, and for me, the highlight of attending that State Fair was to watch these sales people pushing mops, or pots and pans and of course those shoe-cutting, tin can cutting, tomato-slicing knives . And strangely enough, I always walked away learning something.
The lesson here is to stop, look, listen, and learn. You can learn something from anybody, if you are willing to take the time to do it. And notice, I did not even talk about the traditional tools for learning like books, videos, and seminars. If you are serious about your career, and being the best, you can be as not only a sales person, but a good person as well, then you will be wise to learn everything you can, from anybody you can, from anywhere that you can. Oh, and one more thing, don’t forget YouTube and Ted Talks, both of those are fantastic sources to learn everything about anything. It’s only common sense.