As I look back over more than 40 years of business experience, several people still stand out as influencers.
As a rookie radio announcer at CKWW Windsor, my first boss, George MacDonald, called me into his office one day and said, "Mather, we're making some changes around here and you're one of them." He was not known for his indirect approach.
Weeks earlier he had told me, "The art is to hide the art." He was referring to my tendency to sound like an "announcer." He suggested I was not speaking to a room full of people over the radio; they were in their cars, offices, or working at home with the radio in the background.
"Talk to them one on one," he told me. Excellent baseball players make the game look easy. Professional actors get you lost in their performances. And effective salespeople help you buy, rather than simply pushing their products or services. Their art is invisible.
Another influence on me was Charles T. (Tremendous) Jones. Charlie was an inspirational speaker I was privileged to meet when I was an aspiring professional speaker. His little book, "Life Is Tremendous," is a great read and contains plenty of valuable life lessons.
Once I introduced Charlie to a crowd and told everyone, among other things, that his book was in its sixth printing. Before I could finish, he gently pushed me aside and told everyone: "The longer the introduction goes the more trouble the poor speaker gets into. Dave is right though, my book is in its sixth printing. That's because the first five were blurred!"
Everyone howled with laughter and spent the next hour laughing and laughing as Charlie made point after point. He told them: "Don't you just love people who, when you don't think like they think, they think you don't think! I don't care what you think—just think!"
Later he told me, "Dave, never make a point without a story, and never tell a story without a point."
He was a master with words and stories and never a day goes by that I don't smile at Charlie's humour. I am especially thankful I followed his advice about three important decisions in life:
- What are you going to live your life for—your purpose.
- What are you going to live your life in—your career.
- Who are you going to live your life with—your partner. He also said marriage is not 50/50; it's 100/100. So true.
Another great influencer is Lee Straughan, who led the Dale Carnegie business in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Lee was the best builder of future leaders I've ever met.
As a rookie salesperson, I was making phone calls and he asked if I wanted some feedback. I eagerly said "yes." Then he said, "Dave you're a beggar." I was puzzled until he explained: "You ask people when would be a convenient time for them to see you. But your time is as valuable to you as theirs is to them.
"So give them an appointment, just like professionals do. Tell them you have Thursday morning open at 10:15. Will they be in their office at 10:15 Thursday? If they say, no, then ask if afternoons are better. Then suggest a specific time in the afternoon."
I tracked my numbers, and I booked at least 25 percent more appointments with this approach.
He also taught me to look into a mirror when I was feeling sorry for myself, and do it—feel sorry for myself. I'd look myself in the eye and say, "You poor little thing, the world shouldn't treat you that way." I couldn't last more than 20 seconds without laughing, and that was Lee's point. Get over it and get on with it!
All three people are no longer with us, but I treasure their valuable lessons.
Dave Mather is a 40-year veteran business coach. His columns can be read at www.theepochtimes.com/n3/author/dave-mather