In my previous article, I wrote about how critically important it is to put in the right kind of hard work over time to accomplish anything worthwhile. This article provides one more example that proves anything is possible.
Back in the early 90s, I worked for a sales training company that brought in a new guy who was supposed to be groomed to eventually take over the company from the founder. Although I kept my opinion to myself, I didn’t see what the founder saw in him. He was short and fat, looked a bit like Shrek’s younger brother, and talked way too fast. He had no experience with sales or sales training. He was so clueless that once while he was assisting me in a class at Lanier (the copier people) he told the students to go “Xerox” their sales call plans to use in their next exercise. Another time, we flew to Chicago in January (from Florida), and he forgot to bring a coat.
I don’t point those things out to poke fun (well, maybe just a tiny bit), but to establish a baseline for the rest of the story.
At least he had a capacity for hard work. He bought a bunch of sales books and spent hours reading them. I thought I was a voracious reader, but he made me look like a vegetarian at a barbecue. He carried about half a dozen highlighters, and one day I looked at one of his books and saw that about 80% of it was yellow. I said, ”You gotta be kidding, how are you going to remember all of that?”
He replied, “I pay someone to transcribe all my highlights, and then I go back and read those highlights and highlight the important parts.”
Well, this eccentric fellow never made it to the top of that company, but he and I became fast friends and did some work together after we both left. As we both struggled to get our independent businesses off the ground, he kept studying, working, and highlighting, and eventually made a name for himself.
That fellow’s name was John Spence, and today he’s extremely successful as a speaker, trainer and author. All those highlights have been distilled into his book Awesomely Simple.
Just another overnight success that took years in the making.
The funny thing is, he still reads just as much as he did and works just as hard. The only change is that he’s starting look more like Shrek’s older brother.