When I completed my degree in Zoology in ’98, I did what all highly educated science grads did; I became a waiter. I worked at Tiger Lily’s on Queen Street, a wonderful pan-asian restaurant that primarily serviced the beautiful people of CityTV. Cynthia Mulligan once tipped me $10 on a $10 meal. So not only was she the most talented anchor at the time, she was clearly on the fast-track to sainthood.
But how did a zoo grad become a trader at a bank to an award winning sales trainer at Sony to running the marketing program at LG to becoming a junior partner in an investment bank?
When I received my first or second paycheck ($200) from the restaurant, I took it to the bank to make a deposit. While I was waiting in line, I read a brochure on retirement savings plans. Not sure what possessed me to do it but I left the line and went straight into the branch manager’s office. I proceeded to sell him the plan. The stuff came out of me like I knew what I was talking about. Then I asked for a job. He sat there with a “WTF?” look. Then he smiled. “You’re a bright guy. Do you have a resume?” He flipped it to the trading manager at RBC and gave me an introduction. I got the job and became one of the highest volume guys for the three years I was there, eventually becoming a senior trader before I left. The gentleman was Norman Sung. I have no idea if he remembers me but he is the person who started my career and I am forever indebted to him.
In that moment, I convinced myself of 3 things:
1. If you don’t ask, the answer is always ‘No’ – If you expect anybody to hand-deliver opportunities to you, you’re an idiot. Here’s the thing. Most people are conservative. Most people are safe. Most people are afraid to ask for anything. This does not have to be you. If you just ask, you’re already further ahead. You can have all the education in the world and the most spectacular, world-rocking ideas; but if you don’t open your mouth to ask for recognition, resource or opportunity, all that dies with you. Asking is the difference between getting what you deserve or watching some other guy get it instead of you. There was no way I was qualified to do the job I asked for. But the moment he gave me a sliver of hope, I busted my ass to catch-up. I worked during the day and studied till the next morning – every single day for six months.
People don’t ask because they’re afraid of hearing ‘No’. Dude. I hear ‘No‘ everyday. In sales, as in life, there’s a success/failure rate for everything. If it takes five ‘Nos’ to get to the ‘Yes’, every ‘No’ gets you closer. What’s that? You’re not a sales guy? Don’t fool yourself. Everybody is always selling themselves. If you don’t see yourself as that, than you’ll lose to the guy who does. DISCLAIMER: This only works if you’re a hard-worker who strives to deliver. If you’re just an entitled slacker, you’ll be spotted in an instant and black-balled.
2. Everybody is good. Can you imagine going through life assuming everybody is either going to screw you, steal from you or harm you? It’s a shi__y way to live and sadly from what I see, a lot of people live this way. Hard to meet good and open people if you aren’t one yourself. I’m constantly offered opportunities because I’m like an open-book. Sure, some folks try to take advantage but almost all others like what they see and want to work together fairly. I’m the luckiest person in the world in terms of mentors. I have three highly accomplished professionals who work with me, no strings attached, no costs, no hourly billing fees, nothing. They just want me to do well. And you can’t attract people like this if you’re closed up and calculating. If you’re closed up and calculating, you’ll just attract people who want to use you as a tool. You’ll never attract buddies. DISCLAIMER: This only works if you’re a hard-worker who strives to deliver. Although you should always assume people are good, you should always assume people are busy. Nobody will give you the time of day if you’ve wasted their time once.
3. You can convince yourself of anything. Make sure you convince yourself of the right thing. As much as we think we’re brilliant, we can all be fooled. And it’s especially easy to fool ourselves. Killers, fraudsters and guys who run Ponzi schemes rationalize their actions. They are able to find good in their obviously criminal actions. And they can live with themselves. But here’s the thing. You can do the same. You can convince yourself that you’re awesome. You can convince yourself that you can sell anything, do anything and persuade anybody. As long as you do the work and make daily gains, you’re going to be the person you’ve convinced yourself you are. DISCLAIMER: This only works if you’re a hard-worker who strives to deliver. If you’re a hard worker, this is called ‘Setting a Standard.” If you’re a slacker, this is called “Believing your own bullshit.”
If you expect good things, you’ll get good things.