Let’s get one thing straight … we all begin as a NOVICE. No one, let me repeat that, NO ONE starts as an expert. We all have to learn to walk, talk, eat, swim, count, write, and read. We all start at zero, the bottom, from scratch, zip … with absolutely no knowledge, experience, or understanding of the “THING” we are about to learn. I actually like that fact; for once, everyone starts at exactly the same place. No one has a head-start when it comes to learning.

So, then the journey begins; your progression from being a Novice, then Average, then Skilled, then a Specialist, and finally an Expert is all up to you. I really like the title of “EXPERT” because it has to be earned. You can assign someone a title of Vice President or Sales Manager, Boss or Director … but EXPERT, that title is something to be revered, respected, and admired.

EXPERTS have put in the time, effort, and study to EARN the title. They have dealt with the pains, frustrations, exhaustion, stress that come with obtaining the title of EXPERT. In fact, it’s really not a title at all, it’s a designation or confirmation that the person you are dealing with is very, very good at what they do. I like being around experts, because they have traits in their character that can do nothing but help me. You see to be an EXPERT you have to have passion, conviction, focus, discipline, dedication, drive, purpose, commitment, spirit, determination … and the undeniable WILL to perfect your SKILL.

According to the American Society for Training & Development, American workers average 6.5 minutes per day developing their skill. That statistic alone explains why there are so many average performing people. Most people just aren’t WILLING to put in the time and effort needed to raise their skill level.

Your success has a great deal to do with your level of SKILL, but not everything. I know a lot of talented, smart, well-educated people who have, in no way, come close to reaching their full potential. I was speaking to a Vice President of Sales yesterday, who was expressing her frustration at several of the sales people working for her who have the skill but not the will. She told me they have all the talent, but yet they still don’t excel. She went on to say they have the training, knowledge, understanding and a huge opportunity, with thousands of potential clients available for them to call on, but they accept being average.

You have the FREEWILL to succeed, if you have the WILLINGLESS to do it. The big question is WILL you? Who would have ever thought such a simple word as WILL would have so much to do with your success. Here are a few quotes I want to share with you that should hopefully broaden your prospective on how important WILLPOWER is to your success. They are by people you may have never heard of … ( de Balzac, Min, and Crowley respectively) … but the brilliance of their words is indisputable.

  • “There is no such thing as great talent without great willpower.”
  • “Lack of willpower leads to more failure than lack of intelligence or ability.”
  • “In the absence of willpower the most complete collection of virtues and talent is wholly worthless.”

Anyone can go from Novice to Expert if they have the WILL to do it. But, the “Skill Knob” below can only be turned to the “Expert Notch” if you have the WILL to make it happen and the discipline to study, learn and practice to perfect your SKILL.

Skill Knob

Willpower is a muscle.

The more you use it, the stronger it gets.



Solve It by Sundown

The Internet has revolutionized the computer and communications world like nothing before. This world-wide broadcasting system can disseminate information without regard to geographic locations at the speed of a “click,” and there lies a BIG PROBLEM.

The speed of a “click” has now conditioned us to how fast we expect things. If you want a book you just download it (CLICK). If you want a movie you just download it (CLICK). If you want a song you just download it (CLICK). If you want information about something you just go to Google, type in the info you need and CLICK. We are all being conditioned to getting INSTANT service and information. That being said, it should be no surprise to you that your customers are becoming more and more demanding at getting whatever they want … NOW!

Right now, there are some of you who have already received a few text messages while you are reading my article and people are expecting an instant response. There is no turning back or slowing down when it comes to technology; there is only speeding up and moving forward. Therefore, the companies that will succeed are doing everything they can to please their customers in a manner their customers expect … which happens to be … NOW!

I would, therefore, recommend a simple slogan, mantra, or motto for all employees of your company to live by … Solve “IT” by Sundownbecause if you don’t, you have just opened the door for your competitor to do so. I used to work with an IT company that sent out my weekly articles; if I ever had a problem with their service, their standard response was, “we will get back to you with a resolution in 72 hours.” The third time that happened I changed companies. My new IT company had me up and running in one hour and I have been working with them for years.

Anytime you push off a customer to fix something tomorrow (or in 72 hours), you are giving them the opportunity and incentive to go find someone who will be willing to fix the problem today. You customer is thinking, “If they can fix it tomorrow, then why can’t they can fix it today?” Now, sometimes you don’t have the part(s) or person available to fix it today and you tell the customer that. Well, my question to you is this: Does your competitor? Remember the internet: A few typing strokes and clicks on a computer and I will have a list of your competitors available to ask that question, and if they can fix it, YOU ARE GONE, FINISHED, TOAST.

The brilliant man Benjamin Franklin once said, “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I don’t believe Mr. Franklin ever envisioned The Internet, but he sure understood how to be successful. If you want to set your company apart from your competition, then I would do everything I could to establish a culture that understands …


Passion is Powerful

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working with Germania Insurance (based in Texas) at their annual sales conference with all their independent agents attending. The night before, at dinner, I had the opportunity to talk to several of their agents. I was fortunate to sit at the table with Matt & Kara Sodolak. (Matt is the insurance agent, and his wife Kara is in banking) I use the word “fortunate” because, I was about to witness what I would best describe as TRUE PASSION for your profession. 

I asked a question of Matt that I have asked countless times …“How do you like being in the insurance business?”  His response surprised me. Without any hesitation he said, “I love it. It’s my job for life.” In all my years of interviewing people, I have never had anyone say this is my “job for life.” The passion, sincerity and conviction in his voice just knocked me over. He sat forward in his chair and followed his statement with, “I love helping people and I get to do it every day.”  There was NO DOUBT in my mind the passion Matt felt for his job, career and the company he worked for. I felt that anyone who had Matt as their agent was so fortunate. He never mentioned commissions … he talked the whole time about protecting his clients and how people counted on him to make sure they had the proper coverage in case something disastrous happened.

Unfortunately, something disastrous did happen; Texas has been slammed this year with enormous floods destroying millions of dollars in property and causing havoc to people’s lives. I heard from Matt last week and he shared a quick story about one of the people who works in their claims department. He wrote:

 “Rob, one of our most valued Customer Service Reps made a comment that made me think of your message and how you said, ‘you must make a commitment to your career to be successful’.  She said, ‘being in the insurance business, all of our customers’ problems become our problems and we have to be here to help them through it that’s why they do business with us and that’s what keeps our lights on; you gotta love it or you are at the wrong place!’”

It doesn’t surprise me that anyone who works with Matt would also have a passion for their job; he would attract other people who would want to do, help and care for others. Let me share a few anonymous quotes with you about the Power of Passion: 

  • Lack of PASSION is fatal.
  • Do it with PASSION or not at all.
  • Talent isn’t much without PASSION.
  • PASSION is the difference between having a job or having a career.
  • Purpose is the reason for the journey – PASSION is the fire that lights the way.

Maybe the one thing that is causing your career from not taking off … is that you aren’t looking at it as a career; it is simply a job to you and your customers, associates, managers and boss can sense that. There is always going to be frustration, toil, hassles, problems, glitches, hitches and difficulties in any job (that is why they call it work). But, if you look at it from a different perspective … that what you are doing is helping people in some way … then it all becomes worthwhile. Galileo, the great Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, and mathematician, once said: “Passion is the genesis of genius.” So, let your passion become the start of something great for your career.

When there is Passion in your Purpose

you give Power to your Potential.


Different Approach

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to address the Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association and it was one of the most memorable programs I have done in my career; the people attending the conference provide drug & alcohol testing for any company, organization, state or federal agency. During my interviewing process to help me customize my program, one of the questions I asked them was … “What makes your job difficult?” Several people responded: “Having to deal with all the stupid excuses people give for testing positive for drugs.” That response really intrigued me, so I dug deeper in my questioning to get actual examples of their excuses; I will get to the excuses in a moment.

To help them with this difficult portion of their job, I suggested they deal with the problem with a different approach. I proposed they print up a little one-page list of excuses that will not be accepted for testing positive for drugs and hand that to them before being test. That way, if they do test positive for having drugs or alcohol in their system, there is no need to waste everyone’s time using any of the excuses listed. Below are the actual excuses given (with NO embellishment) and the form I suggested they print up.

Excuses That Don’t Work for Testing Positive for Drugs

You Will Need To Try Something Different – These Aren’t Acceptable

More Originality Will be Required

  1. I was at a party and everyone was smoking pot around me, so it’s second-hand smoke.
  2. Someone must have put something in my drink; I swear I would never use drugs.
  3. I take my friend’s pain meds when I have a migraine.
  4. I used to smoke pot years ago when I was fat. I hear it stays in your system for a long time.
  5. It was the cookies I ate at a party. I think it was medical marijuana.
  6. I ate a bunch of poppy seed muffins.
  7. I kissed a girl who had just used cocaine.
  8. I take supplements from the health food store.
  9. I buy hemp oil and make salad dressing with it.
  10. I have to light my wife’s joints for her because she uses medical marijuana and she is too sick to do it herself.

So now, when someone tests positive, they no longer have to deal with these 10 silly excuses … hopefully saving them a little time and frustration, and they did it by adding a little twist of humor in the process. May I suggest for you managers and leaders out there, to take a look at things you have to do like: evaluations, reviews, critiques, changing policies, implementing new software programs, meeting deadlines, revamping procedures, enforcing guidelines, delegating responsibilities, providing feedback, or complying with state and federal government regulations … and see if you can find a different approach that might make it be accepted more favorably.

Originality and humor can help take the “sting” out of any situation, so anytime you can add a little of it, to help take the drudgery or negativity out of an issue, mandate, or task … I recommend you go for it.

Don’t Second Guess

We all have to make decisions every day. Some decisions we make require little thought and the consequences will not be earth shattering or career changing. But, there are other decisions we have to make that can have an enormous effect on our lives. Decisions like … who we are going to marry or do we stay single, where are we going to live, should we have children, what career/job we choose, should we change jobs, do we get a college education or advance our education even further … these are big, tough, critical decisions that aren’t easy to make and the FINAL DECISIONS are life changing. 

I had to make a huge decision this week. I sought out council from people I respect and I measured all the pros and cons. I tried to consider all the “What If’s” and I assessed the consequences with doing it or not doing it. I had received advice like … “I should absolutely take the offer, no questions asked” … to … “no way take the offer, it is not in your favor”. I had been working towards this goal for several years, and when the offer came in writing … I turned it down.

So, what pushed me to say “NO” to the offer? Was it the 13 pages of fine print, written in their favor? No, that wasn’t it; I actually was expecting that. What really helped me decide were two things. The first thing was there was a huge “What If” question that had a very bad result, if all didn’t go well. The second thing was a statement they made: “This is our standard agreement that is non-negotiable.” Everything in business is negotiable and they just told me it isn’t. That one statement made me start re-evaluating everything … and to finally make a decision to say, “NO”. 

I started thinking, once we started doing business together, what else was going to be “non-negotiable.” That one statement triggered me to start thinking of alternatives, options, other possibilities, and a new direction I could pursue, if I said “NO” to their offer. I felt re-energized, stimulated, excited about the other options and even more surprising to myself … I was feeling no remorse about saying, “NO.”

Who is to say I made the right or wrong decision? Some people might say, “Only time will tell,” but, I still have a great deal to do with … the story that will be told. In all my years in business, I have learned two very important things about making decisions.

Ask yourself if you can live with the consequences if it fails … because if you can’t live with it – don’t do it.

NEVER doubt your decision, NEVER look back, NEVER SECOND GUESS…  because if you do, those actions will help to sabotage your decision.

My job now is to make my new direction the right direction, the right choice, the right decision.

You should never make a decision because it is the easiest thing to do, nor should you make it based on convenience and most importantly, never “Second Guess” the decision you made. Former President Harry S. Truman once stated: “Once a decision was made, I didn’t worry about it afterward.” I would recommend we all follow his advice; I know I am.

The Fastest Way to Kill a Good Decision …

is to Second Guess it.

How Many Fans Do You Have?

In the world of entertainment, sports and business … entertainers, athletes, athletic teams and companies have fans. 142 million people follow Katy Perry on Twitter and Facebook. Soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo has 138 million fans following him. Justin Bieber (136M), and Taylor Swift (128M) followers. 59 million people follow McDonald’s, Disney (51M), Red Bull (45M), Starbucks (43M), and Pepsi has (36M) followers. The world of Social Media is rampant with fans.

My question to you today is, “how many FANS do you have”? If you plan on advancing in your business career, it is imperative to have FANS; people who will vouch for your talent, integrity, creativity, resourcefulness, positive attitude, tenacity, thoroughness, and/or energy. Do you have any FANS who will vouch for you?

I am not talking friends … I am talking FANS who are impressed with your skills and talent. Let’s look at FANS from a different perspective for a moment; your perspective. “If you were assigned a big project by your boss, that meant keeping or losing your job, and you were allowed to pick any 5 people out of your company to help you with the project, who would you pick? Would you pick your best friends or people you know are the most talented and who would be able to help you do an amazing job on the project?” I know what my answer would be without any hesitation; I’d choose the talented ones.

The five people that I would choose have a FAN base. They would be known throughout the company as REALLY GOOD! Their work ethic and record for getting things done is known by their peers. Their associates, managers and bosses all know who they are. Everyone wants them on their team. Associates ask them for help and advice and they are always happy to oblige. Doing the bare minimum is not in their DNA.

Developing a FAN BASE is no easy task. FANS are hard to impress. FANS are demanding and expect YOUR BEST all the time. FANS want winners. FANS require consistency, reliability, trustworthiness, stellar performance and are not impressed with words, promises and plans. FANS are impressed with accomplishments, not rhetoric. FANS hate excuses and apologies. Think back on the 5 people you would have selected for the project and ask yourself why you would choose them. Write down the things they do that impresses you. You now have identified why you would choose them … so why would anyone choose YOU? Here is an acronym that will help you with developing FANS. Be Formidable, Awesome, have Nerve and be Steadfast. 

F  ormidable … inspiring respect through being impressively intense and capable

A  wesome… causing awe; inspiring an overwhelming feeling of admiration

N  erves… courage and control under pressure, fortitude, stamina, and boldness

S  teadfast…loyal, committed, dependable, solid, and trustworthy

If You Want Fans

Then Give Them Something to Cheer About

How Many Crayons are in Your Box ?

If we were to compare the life we live to a box of CRAYONS, unfortunately, a lot of people will settle for a box of only 8 crayons containing the colors … red, yellow, blue, green, orange, brown, purple, and black. But, to be really successful in life and business, we don’t need to limit our options. There is a box of crayons with 24 color choices and even one with 64 color choices … in fact, there are currently 120 crayon color choices: 23 reds, 20 greens, 19 blues, 16 purples, 14 oranges, 11 browns, 8 yellows, 2 grays, 2 coppers, 2 blacks, 1 white, 1 gold and 1 silver…now we are getting somewhere.

If we stay within the confines of 8 colors (limiting our choices), when it comes to deciding what we need to do next and how we need to do it, we will greatly limit our chances to succeed. To be successful, we need to think freely and not be bound by old, limiting rules, policies or practices (limited colors of crayons). If someone were to start a taxi company, I would guess most people would think they need to go buy some taxis. But Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no taxis. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the world’s most valuable retailer has no inventory.

I have heard so many people tell me that they aren’t that creative, imaginative, ingenious, innovative, inventive, original, prolific, visionary, or clever; my response to them is start mixing colors and see what you get. A great chef will come up with a wonderful new recipe by simply adding some different ingredients.  World renowned scientist Albert Einstein once stated: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”

There are those who hate to hear the overused statement … “you need to think outside the box.” So, for those who don’t like that statement … would it be better to say: “ You need to expand your horizons, think differently, be more creative, think of other possibilities, or consider alternatives?” Here is a statement that will get people looking for more alternatives (crayon colors): “You either figure out another way to do it or you’re fired or we lose or we go bankrupt.” Necessity is the mother of invention and that statement just created some serious necessity.

Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed the cotton gin.

Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would look at it. People scoffed at       the idea of railroads. They thought that traveling thirty m.p.h. would stop the circulation of the blood.

Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph.

In the early 1980’s, the great consulting firm, McKinsey, forecasted that a worldwide market for mobile telephones would top out at 900,000 by the year 2000. By the year 2000 there were 900,000 people signing up every 3 days.

Research didn’t predict the success of the telephone, radio, television, cable, personal computer, fax machine or mobile phone … unconventional thinking made them happen.

One 3M executive said that more than 50% of their new product innovations in his division came from ideas of complainers … not 3M … but from customers.

Your success is dependent on never confining yourself to one train of thought, one way of thinking, or limiting beliefs. Sometimes, there are different ways to accomplish the same thing; here are 25 ways to do things you may have never thought of.

How many crayons are in your box? Most computers display 16.8 million colors to make a full-color picture, so as far as I’m concerned, 120 crayons just got waxed. (no pun intended). Get out of your box, start mixing colors, looking for alternatives, considering possibilities and never discount any idea as nuts. If everything you ever wanted was one step out of your comfort zone (your box) … would you have the courage to take the step? I hope so.

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit

when there are footprints on the moon.”



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