Bow wow, you really can teach an old dog new tricks


Hey, who are you calling an old dog?

If the shoe fits….

I used to be the young guy around my office, what the heck happened; did somebody fast forward the clock?

With age comes wisdom

In exactly 61 days from this post, I will be celebrating 30 years of employment with the same firm. Is that old-school or what? It must run in the family; my dad was with Minute Maid/Coca Cola for 40 years.

Doesn’t sound like I took too many risks along the way, does it? I didn’t get married until I was 27 but started on a family shortly thereafter. I am somewhat conservative by nature but being responsible for others, my family specifically, probably made me even more so.

Would your outlook change about work if you didn’t have a guaranteed paycheck? Out of approximately 70 employees in our corporation, there are currently 7 of us who have no income other than what our book of business produces. No guarantees. That is called 100% commission and it means for the last 25 years I have never, ever had two paychecks that were the same.

That sounds pretty risky for a conservative guy, doesn’t it?

That is why I have to laugh at times when I see certain guru’s online, these young whippersnappers who are so-called experts, telling me how to do it. Their motto really should be do as I say, not as I do.

Oh, they might have had some limited success along the way, but was it sustainable? If they were so successful, then why aren’t they doing it anymore? Do as I say, not as I do…

30 years, same job, commission only; I must be doing something right, you suppose? Or just too dumb to know any better.

However….comma….that is not to say I am too old and set in my ways that I can not still learn. In fact, I like to think I am more of a sponge and can still learn from each and every person I encounter. Some good, some bad, but it all can be processed to make me smarter.

There is usually good information in there somewhere, but sometimes you just have to take it with a grain of salt…whatever that means…

Something else I know

Sales is all about production; what have you done for me lately? You might have had a walk-off home run along the way, but if it wasn’t enough to walk away, then you have to get right back in the grind. Ideally you can parlay that shot into other opportunities, but as soon as you start to coast you are losing ground.

That sounds like hard work, you would think after 30 years at least you could slow down.

No rest for the weary and there are young bucks coming in every day taking shots at my accounts.

But that is what keeps me in the game, eager and willing to learn and know if I don’t at least get up to bat, I will never get a hit.

Age is just a number…

That’s what all the old people say…

I can assure you, the texture might look a little weathered, but Billy the Kid is who you will find inside.

For what it’s worth, my 9-point guide to new tricks

  • Be all in; if you are going to commit to something, give it all you have. Do what you said you would do.
  • Be persistent; not annoying, but stick with it.
  • The grass is usually not greener on the other side.
  • Be marketable; always continue to grow and learn to increase your worth to the organization and to yourself.
  • Make the ask; otherwise, don’t complain if you don’t get what you want.
  • People really do remember how you made them feel; work on making it a positive experience.
  • Don’t assume I know what you do; own it and tell me who would benefit from it. How can I help you?
  • Say please and thank you; that will never get old.
  • Finally, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room; just smart enough.

Almost as good as my eat less, exercise more wisdom, huh? It never is rocket science, it just seems everybody wants to put a new or different twist to it.

My lap around the track

My first quarter was very solid; but that was only one lap around the track. If I’m going to break Bannister’s mile record I will need to keep this pace for the next 3 laps as well. That means keeping my eye on the ball (hey wait a minute, I thought you were talking about track…). That also means my social activities online will be intermittent. But it’s ok because I am in a good place online and off, so it’s still good to be me.

How is your year shaping up; are you still keeping your eye on the ball?

You will probably notice I use quite a few sports analogies in my writings; since I was never going to be a pro athlete, maybe writing about it would have been a good avenue for me. Nah….I’m where I’m supposed to be; I have the greatest job in the world…really.

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27 thoughts on “Bow wow, you really can teach an old dog new tricks

  1. I had a nice long reply here, full of wisdom and witty humour, but some April Fool’s joke made it all go poof! So I’ll just say…bravo to us who’ve been in the self-employed-no-guaranteed-pay-check world forever, and I’ll take a sports analogy any day. Happy early 30th anniversary – will you be hunting in Walmart to celebrates? Cheers! Snowshoes

    • It must be that 6 inches of snow you are getting; April Fool, huh?

      Me, Inc; even though I’m housed at Lanier Upshaw, I’m the one who has to get the ball rolling to make it happen so I can put my great team to work. The one thing I will say about sales, at times it looks pretty easy, but I will also say ‘the water’s fine,’ if someone thinks it is easy come on in…

      I was hunting in Walmart last week for tennis balls; always an adventure…:).

  2. Hey Bill! I so resonate with your stream-of-consciousness style of blogging! I relate to the risk you take in never having the same paychecks two weeks in a row and yet are conservative. (me too). I don’t relate to the same -job-for-30-year part – I tend to change things at least a bit every five years or so, though I have been self-employed for all of my post-university life. I, too, was 27 when I married, and I too use mixed metaphors – a lot – but you don’t see it usually because I edit them out!
    What stands out for me most here is this: ‘Be all in; if you are going to commit to something, give it all you have. Do what you said you would do.” and particularly the last part. They say you cease to remain successful when you stop doing what you did to become successful in the first place. That’s a pothole we want to avoid when we’re running the bases ;-)
    Happy Monday!
    Lori

    • That’s another blog rolling around in my head, what is better, getting a fresh start every few years or continue to bring value to the organization the longer you stay? I guess it’s a personal decision and really need to know when to fish or cut bait.

      Early in my career I was eager to volunteer but not always so good to follow through. I learned a valuable lesson and when to say ‘no’ when need be.

      Knowing mine is the only income coming into the household caused some anxious moments but we always found a way to hang in there. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen a couple of my brethren draw a paycheck (for the month) in the $500-$600 range….yikes….

    • Actually my request is the R1 TaylorMade golf driver; it is one sweet stick. Probably won’t help my game, but I’ll be stylin’ and profilin’….30 years, that is kind of a long time, huh?

  3. Bill, I can see what’s kept you successful and free of complete burn out after 30 (wow) years. You have the personality and style that’s required in the type of professional work you do. I would trust you with my account, absolutely, and I’d know if any mistakes were made by the team you’d be the first one there making it right. Can’t actually say the same about my current agent, now that I think of it!

    • That’s nice of you to say; I do try to treat my customers like I would want to be treated and the last thing I need to do is be less than truthful. Sometimes that means you have to stand up and get your ass chewed, but the buck stops with me; my accounts, my responsibility at the end of the day. It seems like most mistakes in insurance are financial related in some form or fashion and it only takes a few of those to make sure you pay attention.

      I really like the people part of it; and for our ‘ideal’ customers who really get it, we really can help make them a better business. Those are the really fun accounts when you can quantify your results.

      Good to see you Julie, hope all is well.

  4. Hey Bill – aside from a mean curve ball and impossible-to-hit knuckle ball, I’m still in the batters box! :o

    When I get a hold of one of these suckers – I’m going to knock the freaking leather off the ball!

    Did I tell you I was a little league all-star? Pitcher, short-stop?

    I hit 22 home runs during the season and the rest were walks and strike outs :o

    I pitched two no-hitters that year and had more than 9 strike outs a game in half of the games I started.

    I broke my thumb and actually hit a couple of one handed home-runs over the left field fence :o

    If not for the thrill of knocking people silly on the football field, baseball would have definitely been my second sport :P

    Keeping my eyes on the ball and getting on base – period!

    Happy 30th Anniversary, bro!

    • I had 23….actually, most of mine were inside the parkers; I didn’t really grow until after 11th grade and unfortunately my window of opportunity with baseball had passed me by. But I’ve always loved the game. I did always make the All Star team….

      Thanks for the wishes sir; and swing away Merrill…..

  5. #1 resonates the most Bill. So many of these ‘whippernappers’ as you say are doing what they do on the side (collecting a steady pay cheque week to week at their ‘regular’ job). The best advice I received when I wanted to detour professionally was to quit my (steady, well-paid, well-respected, reliable) day job and do what I wanted to do 100% of the time. I needed to be all in. And frankly, I can relate to that sense of desperation that comes from lack of pay cheque. But I like it. It keeps me focused. The only other thing I would add to your list is ‘listen’. Also really critical in sales. Hope you’re well Bill.

    • Ah yes, I should have included that and made it #10. Probably the most important because if you really listen you can pick up a lot of clues and understand what is really being said to you.

      My biggest challenge as the only bread-winner was being able to walk away and start from scratch again. I didn’t have a huge pot of cash sitting around that would have floated me.

      At the end of the day however, it is very easy for me to see I made the right decision staying just where I am.

      Good to see you Ruth, hope you have been well.

  6. Hi Bill

    Doing what you love to do is the secret ingredient to your success. If people really like what they are doing it will show and others will definitely notice. That is what gives a pep in the step. I am sure it is easier to sell to people when you believe in what you do. That is probably why a lot of people are not successful at outside sales, well at least one of the reasons.

    Lots to take away from your post no matter what we do.

    Mary

    • It’s not always a bed of roses, but there are many, many more good days than bad. I do enjoy coming in to work and as long as I do and have my health, I could very well be blogging about my 40th 10 years from now. Whoa…:).

      I do believe in what I do and I am more about the relationship than the sale.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Conservative? You were the first on your block to have a bake sale to support gay marriage. You picketed saying why does the word Devil as in Devil Rays cause any issue. You embraced New Coke, unlike everyone else. You voted for Mondale for gosh darned sake! I mean no one voted for Mondale! You moved to Florida when it was only for Old People…before you were old! Conservative? Bah you Sir are a Hippy!

    • Easy now, I do have a gay sister and speaking of sisters, did she send you a picture of my youth? I thought I was a hippie until Uncle Sam got a hold of me.

      My grandfather was a Church of God minister, if he was alive now it would be interesting to see him attend our family Christmas get togethers now. I think we have all the bases covered except a person of color and it’s probably only a matter of time…:).

      Angels (maybe) and Mets have one under their belt; 162 and O?

      Good to see you sir.

  8. All that for the last line. “I have the greatest job in the world.” That says more than all of the stuff before. How many of us can say that?

    I love my job too.

    There sure are some new tricks in that old dog.

    I still owe you those photos. I will send them to you.

    Cheers Bill.

    • You saw my gig, it wasn’t too shabby, was it?

      Every day is certainly not a picnic, and there are days I just want to walk away, but I suppose you can that to just about anything in life. Other than being a beach bum, I don’t know a profession I could be in that would be more suited to my personality…and I think my gig pays a little more than beach bum right now…:).

  9. You know I love a good sports analogy, Bill. In fact, you are always welcome to help me flesh out my “baseball section” in case you get bored on one of those spring days when you are at the park and blogging on your mobile device. If the muse smacks you or anything.

    Of course, that could just be a foul ball that smacks you.

    I did help start a company over 12 years ago, but I can’t imagine working 100% commission…EVER. More power to you. Of course, I suck at sales…so that is probably why. I know my limitations.

    • If I thought too deeply about it, it might scare me and cause some sleepless nights. Fortunately with insurance, it’s renewable and sustainable and you can so the chances of it all going away at once are slim.

      I’ll cover all the bases for you during baseball season…:).

  10. Well, we’ve discussed some of the advice floating around out there before. I think your track record speaks for itself. BTW, I’ll buy your next drink if you’ll put me in the young whippersnappers category. :) If only…

    Good 9 point list. The one that people have so much trouble with — ask for the sale. Glad you added it!

    • Oh yeah, you are definitely in the whippersnapper category…and you know I’ll let you buy me a drink…:).

      You know how some people are deathly afraid of public speaking; I would have to say ‘making the ask’ can be as equally as daunting as well. Of course, we all want to be so compelling it sells itself, but that is rarely the case.

      Is this the weekend you are headed to Nashville?

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