Gratitude for a Huge Life Lesson

I’ve been in the training and consulting business for twenty years, but in many ways the past year has been the most exciting and gratifying time of my career, because of a huge lesson I’ve learned about friends, colleagues, and even competitors.

When I began my sales training career, I was unknowingly infected with a terrible attitude. The founder of the company I worked for was extremely protective of his intellectual property and egotistical enough to believe that his way was not only the best way but the only way. Competitors were enemies and there was nothing to learn from industry peers. And of course, you never gave anything away—no one but paying customers would ever get a chance to see your materials.

Even though I left the company 15 years ago, I carried that attitude lodged in my bones and have only recently taken the steps to cure myself. I’m happy to say the attitude is in remission and hopefully gone for good.

Two steps I took put me on the road to a cure. First, I began blogging and second, I reconnected with Dave Brock, a colleague from the early years.

Blogging taught me that exposing my ideas to a wider audience only helps make them better. It taught me that giving value to others (and I hope I have) is reward enough in itself, but also plants the seeds for future rewards if you’re patient.

When I reconnected with Dave, he was incredibly generous in offering his time and advice, and most importantly his connections. I at first thought it was strange that the people he seemed most connected with could be considered competitors to him and to me, but I quickly learned that his openness and generosity were not unique in the community of sales experts that he introduced me to. I’ve received advice from many of them, served on a few panels with others, and have had some graciously agree to review my new book.

Probably the most important lesson I’ve learned from hopping out of my tiny pond into the big ocean is that in fields such as sales, persuasion and communications, there really is no such thing as “intellectual property”; we’re all just stewards of the knowledge we gather and the best we can do is refine it, maybe add a little to it, and most importantly, pass it on.

From them, I have received three gifts for which I am very grateful this Thanksgiving week:

  • I’ve learned more about myself and my profession. I’ve learned that my ideas and expertise are solid, but that there is always more to learn and different and—yes—better ways of saying and doing things.
  • It has made me more useful to my own clients, because now I have a vast pool of resources to draw on to refer to them when it’s outside of my sweet spot.
  • It has been a lot of fun dealing with driven people who love and respect knowledge and are fascinating to interact with.

I would like to thank some them here below, which is always risky because of the chance I might leave off someone. If I have left off an important name, it’s a memory problem, not ingratitude.

Dave Brock, of course. John Spence–Grasshopper, the pebble you snatched has become a boulder. John Jantsch, whose book, the Referral Engine was the catalyst that stopped my procrastination. Clients Alex T., for your support—it didn’t work out this year but, as the Dolphins say, there’s always next year…Bill D. for all your help—I’ll raise one of my greenies to you this Thursday. Thanks also to those who agreed to read my book and give me their honest opinions: Jill Konrath, Charlie Greene, Andy Rudin, Anthony Iannarino, Jim Keenan, Andy Blackstone, Chip Bell, Spencer Penhart, Dan Waldschmidt, Paul McCord, Mike Weinberg, Dave Stein, Reg Nordman.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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  • Mike, comments like this are what makes blogging and connecting so much fun and so rewarding.

  • Great piece Jack! Well-written. We have much for which to be thankful. Because of Dave’s intro, I feel like I have a new friend and resource in you. Just finished your great book and am looking forward to posting a review.
    Thanks for “thankful” post!

  • Thanks Jack – making difference is definitely a primary objective for me, but also something that is tough to set out to do – it just happens by sticking with something long enough. It is always gratifying to hear when it works.

  • Jack Malcolm

    Well, I was going to leave the name Shrek out of it, but since you started it…Thanks for the kind words, John. I’ll look for pictures of your Thanksgiving dinner on FB!

  • Thank you Jack. We have worked together for nearly 18 years – and I have loved every minute of it. I have learned sooooooo much from you – and continue to learn from you. You are one of the most talented, intelligent and focused professional I have ever met. You have been a wonderful mentor, coach, guide, business partner – and a TRUE friend. Happy Thanksgiving Donkey!!!

  • Jack, I’m very touched by your kind words. As you cite, I’ve learned there are so many outstanding colleagues that I can learn from and share ideas. It’s great to be part of a community the recognizes this value.

    Have a great Thanksgiving! Regards, Dave

  • Jack Malcolm

    Same to you, Andy!

  • Jack,

    And thank you for all the support and assistance over the last few years – happy Thanksgiving!


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