In the interview:
00:57 – The story behind Larry’s book
05:21 – How do successful people do it?
06:58 – It starts with deciding
08:44 – Measuring importance
10:21 – What is success?
12:53 – Overdo it
17:32 – You need to adjust
20:26 – Expecting the worst
23:33 – You’ve got to finish
25:52 – Hold on to that pole
27:15 – Where can you improve?
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James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. Today, we’re going to be talking about success. So I’ve invited a fantastic success mentor, Larry Weidel, who’s actually just published a book about the topic of success. Welcome Larry.
Larry: Hello James! Glad to join you.
James: Isn’t that wonderful? We can be talking to each other on opposite sides of the world, and we’re able to share some ideas. Now, I recently had a look through your book that you’ve just published or is about to be published. I’m not sure of the status. At the moment, I got a preview, which is fantastic. It’s called Serial Winner: 5 Actions To Create Your Cycle Of Success. I’d love it if you could tell me why you put the book together.
How Larry’s book came about
Larry: Well, it actually came out October 20, and the idea for the book evolved from the work that I’ve done for 40 years and primarily expanding our financial services organization where we recruit and train people in the best and brightest get to move up and train other people, and eventually, if they build a big enough team, they can open their own office and even expand from there. So it comes into real quickly, they get past the point where they’ve learned the technical side of it, then it’s a matter of how they can manage themselves successfully for growth, which means continue to move forward and to move past the stage of surviving, getting beyond the worry of supporting yourself, but where you’re actually now compounding your income and you’re chasing your potentials just to see what you’re capable of doing.
Very few people have the capability of doing really incredibly big things and when they realize that potential, they really make a big impact on the world, and it’s a very satisfying way to live way beyond the income. But the income is not bad either. So I worked for 40 years with people in that arena and the book is an outgrowth of that because for all of the people who succeed, you have a thousand or more, maybe some of which are even more talented but somehow they can’t put two and two together, and you’ve got a situation where, as one of my friends said, the world is full of people who almost do it and what we need is more people who do it.
So the book was written not as a theory, not as a college textbook type thing, but basically for people who want to be action people, they want to be people of accomplishment, they feel like that’s their destiny, and they’re trying to get unstuck and get into a flow of self-discipline, self-management that will allow them to accomplish some pretty significant things. So that’s where the book came from.
James: So the book is essentially a how-to guide based on your experience and success in the finance industry.
Larry: Yeah, and as you know, the more successful you are, the more successful people you meet, and I’ve always been a student of success because I started out without any particular advantage or exposure. I didn’t have relatives to show me how these things work. I put it together step-by-step myself, starting as an employee, then getting out to where you’re on a commission, and then where you’re in business for yourself, and along the way, I did get in a position to have some pretty good mentors, and I peppered them with questions morning, noon and night because I proved myself early in the game, I wouldn’t be an instinctive genius like so many of them. I was going to have to work harder than most to figure the thing out.
So once I did that and found out that ideas did not care who used them, and then if an idea that work for one person could work for me, I took that philosophy and was able to pass it on to the people that I was training and developing, and we had an incredible success. None of us start off our day seeing how big of a failure can I be today? You like to accomplish things, you like to have some hope and sparkle in your eye if you’re even like, you’re accomplishing things, your life counts, you’re making a difference, you’re not only carrying your weight in the world but you’re making a positive impact.
“Ideas do not care who uses them.”
How successful people do it
To do that, you’ve got to know how to react to what life throws at you, just where you can stay, standing on your own two feet and not get knocked down. It goes back to the thing we used to say about Michael Jordan — You could never play basketball like Michael Jordan or golf like Tiger Woods but you can copy how they think. That’s what I’ve put in the book. How do these people think? How do winners, people that are serial winners, go from success to success? How do they talk to themselves? How do they evaluate the good things and bad things that happen to them in life? That’s what the book is about.
James: Right. That’s interesting. I guess I would say I think slightly differently about the people who wake up to see how much they could fail. I think most successful people realize that as you said, information really drives a value and we’re going to have a lot of tests and innovations that we have to execute, and we already accept that a lot of them won’t succeed. I think a lot of successful people just redefine failure as an investment and experience as another innovation that’s progressing them towards the ones that win and the ones that can be leveraged in a big way.
I’m sure some of the ideas are not all valued equally. Some will be fantastic ideas and other ones will be less good ideas, which sort of leads into the first step in your book, which is about deciding, because you’ve got 5 actions. I guess deciding must address which ideas are worth pursuing or not.
“How to go from success to success”
Larry: Well, at some point, you’ve got to stop thinking, and evaluating, and planning; and you’ve got to pull the trigger and go. The excitement and fulfillment in life is from what you accomplish and not what you think about doing. That’s not where they’re putting in your tombstone. “Here’s a guy who thought about doing a lot of things,” or “Here’s a guy who had a lot of potential.” If they’re putting a thing in our tombstone, it’s what you accomplish.
So the allotted times also you have things in your mind that you think you would like to do would be very exciting but when you get involved in it, it’s really not what you thought, and then you go on to something else. So the quicker you could get going and start chasing some of these things that inspire you and intrigue you, the sooner you can find out if that’s really going to be the case long term or if pursuing those things is going to be an educational experience that maybe causes you to divert in another direction. But at least you get it off your mind when you decide.
Should you be chasing success?
James: Yeah, that’s interesting. A lot of these comes from the premise that success means you have to attain things or pursue things. I guess if you are a Buddhist monk, you might not be so caught up in having to have all these things in the first place and maybe you could actually just let some things go and not be burdened, not feeling as though you’re missing out or you’re chasing all the time because if you’re always looking in the future or the past, you could really go through some anguish. Maybe just letting go of some of that is the first step to planning. It’s like what things aren’t really important? I think you do cover that, understanding why things are really important to you. Perhaps you could cover that a little bit.
Understanding why things are important
Larry: Well, I can’t speak from a Buddhist’s standpoint because I don’t come from that standpoint. I come from a Christian standpoint. You’ve got to find agreement in the world with people who have similar… You could pick up ideas from people, anybody, but the thing you’re going to find most of your common ground is from people who have a similar worldview. So I don’t know about the Buddhist thing, but it really comes down to hanging on to anguish and this and the other. That’s a lot about comes from indecision. It’s just like you’re stuck in one spot.
The book and what I’m addressing is people who feel like they were put on the earth to do things, they feel compelled to do the things, but for some reason, they feel like they’re in a box and they don’t have the advantages, don’t have the talent, and they feel like a victim. I don’t know if you’re a Buddhist or whatever you are, but when you go through life feeling like life has dealt you a bad blow, there’s nothing you could do about it, you’re a victim, “poor, pitiful me,” that’s a miserable way to live. You accomplish nothing.
You don’t want to be a cork floating down the river. You want to be somebody who has some say in the direction your life takes. If you’re not going to make decisions about your life and to make your life count, then there’s no reason to have freedom or to live in a free society.
The idea of winning
So the thing is that winning is not attaining things, or making money, or materialistic thinking. Winning isn’t success, in my experience, because there’s people that have all that stuff and are just miserable. I live in Aspen in Palm Beach. You overhear people in Aspen say, “I live in a $20 million house on the hill. I have no friends. I don’t know what to do with myself during the day. I’m bored out of my mind.”
So you find people that have things and are looking for satisfaction. And you’re exactly right. That’s not going to give you the satisfaction. Satisfaction, the people that are what you call happy, positive, fulfilled; these are people that are pursuing the things, in my experience, these are the people that are pursuing the things that they feel they’re supposed to be doing, that inspire them, that they feel they have value. They can make a contribution, help themselves, but also help other people. They’re in something that intrigues them. They’re not in something that they got shuffled off into a job that they have no interest in, no real talent, and they’re just kind of going through the motions, being passive and something like that. That’s not good for them. That’s not good for the company. That’s not good for anybody.
So the idea of winning is to say to yourself and even deciding things like, what turns me off? What do I want to do? What do I feel like I’m supposed to be doing with my life? And that may be working in a soup kitchen somewhere, working with a homeless or the poor. It may be in business, it may be in sports, maybe working with children, teaching, nursing. It may be being a professional athlete. But it’s like, what do you feel like your calling is? What really resonates with you inside and that you could get most excited about?
In life, we’re only going to be here James for a short period of time. We can sit and make excuses, and be passive, and watch the wind blow, in this time and the other, but pretty soon, life is going to be over. If you didn’t feel like you were put here to do anything, that’ll be great. Pass on through. But if you feel like there are some things that you wanted to do in your life, places you wanted to go, people you wanted to meet, skills you wanted to learn, then why not get after it.
James: Right. So you make your decisions and then you have your little plan to move forward. The next action step you talk about is overdo. Perhaps you can shed some light on that one.
“Winning isn’t success.”
Why you need to overdo it
Larry: Well, you know, we’re getting ready to go kick off the year again, and people have New Year’s resolutions, and almost nobody really succeeds in those things. The deal is we all have a tendency to underestimate as individuals, as companies, and even as governments. When we get into a new project, the overwhelming tendency is to underestimate how much time and money it’s going to cost to pull something off. It’s just a human nature.
I used to build houses. Whenever we were building a house for the first time, no matter how much margin for error we built into it, and always, we had cost overwhelms. Now after you do it 2, 3, 4, 5 or 20 times, then you can get it down to a science. But the first time you’re launching out, you always underestimate.
So the deal is you want to give yourself, if you’re going to try something, you don’t launch out and say, “How quickly can I be a failure at this?” You say, “I’m going to launch out and just see how big a success, how fast I could make this thing come true and then see if I start to enjoy it.” So the way you make that happen is not to just start with just do it, put a little effort into it. No. You want to start with a bang. You want to do what you think is overdoing it to minimize the potential for failure. We’re never promised success, but the the way we put the odds in our favor is by putting maximum effort into it.
Like see, what you’ve proved in your business, in this podcasting enterprise you’ve got going is you prove you’re good at it. You prove that you could make this happen. You could impact the world in a positive way. You prove that, but when you started, you didn’t really know. You didn’t know how big your audience would be, you didn’t know if the business would be successful, you support yourself, but the thing is, that’s the way we all are when we all launch out a new project. We want to do it, we’re excited about the possibility, but we don’t know. But one thing we can always tell ourselves as we start off in a new project, “I’m not going to be good enough to do this, giving it a half-hearted effort. I can never be great just piddling around.” So what you want to do is give yourself the maximum chance to be successful at whatever you’re pursuing by saying, “I’m going to go for it. I’m going to give it my best effort. I’m going to give myself the best chance to be successful.”
I’m in a company where probably for 20 years, we’ve had two 5-month contest a year. And then we’ll go to some place, Hawaii or the Bahamas or some place, New Orleans, Vegas, and take several thousand people off. And every contest, there’s hundreds of people in a 5-month contest that will miss it by one sale, misqualifying for a free vacation for them and their spouse in a luxury location, all expenses because of one sale. Now if they’ve known that was going to happen 5 months earlier, they would’ve found another gear or they would’ve put more effort into it.
And so, all of the hundreds that missed it by one or two sales, if they had known that was going to happen to them, there’s no way of 5 months they couldn’t have gotten an extra 10 sales. But they didn’t give it everything they had and so as a result, they were left out. And it happens over and over again. So thing is this is a pattern of human behavior and this is why so many people fall short in life. You don’t want to be one of those that dooms yourself to mediocrity or failure because you really didn’t give it a serious effort.
James: When I was a salesperson at Mercedes-Benz, they were quite clever and they would send gifts to the home address so that the wife would get the gifts. They’d get the towel from the luxury resort we we’re going to go to when we win the trip to Fiji or Tahiti, and they’d send sun cream and then they’d send a cap. So they really invested the family in the whole mission. I never missed out on those trips by the way (laughs). I hear what you’re saying.
It’s like that sales prospecting technique of imagining that you couldn’t have a single customer say no, how many people would you phone and get over that fear of rejection. It will be a lot of people.
James: Now the next step you talk about is adjust.
“Put the odds in your favor with maximum effort.”
Larry: Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that things that just don’t go as you expected in life. There’s always surprises.
James: Well in my case, I expect change. So they usually prove you right.
Larry: Right. And so, you know, life is complex. Life is like you say, changing. It’s always changing.
James: It’s basically the law of creation, that things constantly change and we have to adapt or we get superceded.
Larry: So you know that because you’re a successful guy. But the problem is people that are starting out in life and don’t have a pattern of success and they’re trying to break through into having somebody’s successes in their life, when they launch out with a plan A, this is the game plan I’m going to follow. I saw somebody else did it this way, I’m going to do it this way.
They don’t understand that life changes constantly and plan A is just something to get you started, something to show you that it can work, it has worked for other people in the past. But in life, you have to adjust because things will always go wrong and it’ll be the things you don’t expect. Like I put in the book, one of the professional football coaches, Bill Parcells said that when he started his career, the thing that probably saved his career before he even started was one of his old coaches told him, “Bill, when you leave your house every morning, tell yourself five things are going to go wrong before noon that you had no way of predicting, and so don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t feel like a victim. It’s just the way it goes. Handle them and keep on going.”
But when people are rookies at running their own life and they run into roadblocks, it’s the default assumption that you have to not fall for is to say, “Well, I shouldn’t have tried it. This is too tough. I’m not good enough. I should’ve listened to the people who told me not to try,” which is totally wrong. If you know going in, that like you say, expect change, expect surprises, and don’t panic and don’t personalize it. They just didn’t come out of the ether just to thwart you. This is just life. You make a simple adjustment and you keep on moving. And so that’s the thing that is just very helpful to know early on that you’re going to have to make adjustments and that’s not a big deal. It’s not something you get upset about. And usually the adjustment will be pretty obvious of what step you need to take around to get around the obstacle if you don’t fall apart and turn into a nervous wreck just because things didn’t work perfectly.
Expect the worst
James: Exactly. Like what Robert Ringer talked about, expecting the worst and being pleasantly surprised if it wasn’t. Eli Goldratt talks about the answer is always obvious in hindsight. It should be a simple solution. Peter Drucker talked about innovation. Basically, until we accept that we’re going to be constantly making changes for the rest of our life, we might be upset or confused when things change, but we can pretty much guarantee constant change.
The next step of course is: Finish.
Larry: Well I want to throw this real quick.
Larry: You’re reminding me of something I’ve read but it’s been 30 years ago, but I remember starting out of my business that I think, I came to the assumption after reading some of those things is like I used to say to myself, prospecting for sales, they can’t all be stupid but they can’t all say no. They can’t all be stubborn. You weren’t surprised when people didn’t agree with you, didn’t go along with the program, but you just say yourself, it’s not going to be everybody. So I’m going to keep talking to people. I’m going to find some people, and if I keep going, eventually I’m going to get there. So there’s a lot of value in not making too big of a deal about it when things go wrong. That’s a great perspective to have.
James: Yeah, I think it’s important, just a side note, that there’s a difference between plotting along in the wrong direction, like if you’re walking away from the watering hole in the desert. You might drown.
But if you’re in a tested, proven cycle where you know the result comes, you can logically reason with it. If you‘re prospecting for a sales product and other people have made sales for that product and you’ve made sales in the past, then it’s very easy to reconcile that you will have a percentage of “No” and a percentage of “Yes,” and purely because your solution may not be the right solution for each person that you speak to.
The same as when you go fishing, you might put down seven lines and only catch a fish on one, but if you’re constantly catching fish in the same spot, then you’re OK with those odds. You don’t go home and say, “Aw, no fish got on my other six lines today.” Instead, you take home your big kingfish and you cook it for lunch. You say, “Well, I found the winner.” We can be very optimistic when even a small percentage comes through, that’s what we focus on and scale up.
Larry: Exactly right, yeah. We’re never promised success, but if you follow proven patterns, and give it your best effort, you can put the odds in your favor.
James: It really is a big bet, and Richard Koch talks about that. Business is a big bet, because it will constantly change, and there’s no definite guarantees, but what we can be sure of is we can mitigate our losses by using those patterns. I love that.
I know we need to finish up now, and ironically the last things are “Finish and Improve.” Perhaps we can round out if you close out the five action step cycle with these last two steps, that would be awesome.
How to finish
Larry: Yeah. And the point there is, so many people, and you know, over a pattern of time when you’re used to training and working with large numbers of people you could see the sadness is so many people get so close to where they want to go: a promotion, a pay raise, whatever it is in business. They get so close, and then they kind of lose focus at the end and they get discouraged.
And the important thing about finishing is, you’ve got to tell yourself, “The closer I get to the finish line, the more I’ve got to focus on finishing. That’s not the time to be analyzing, “Should I have started this? Was this smart? Is this going to be worthwhile? Why am I doing this?” The closer you get to the finish line, you’ve got to push those thoughts away from you and lock in more and more like a lazer on getting through the finish line. Because if you let yourself get distracted, you can blow the whole thing. You don’t want to get close and say, “This is close enough, good enough.” No. If you set off for yourself, stay on track and finish because that’s where the payoff happens.
And the other deal is, as you get close to finishing a project, that’s when your enthusiasm that you started the project with is all burned off, you know, the little giddy excitement of starting a new project, and so many people are all excited about starting things but then as you get into the work of it, or towards the finish line, that little giddy feeling isn’t there, and they just fall away, where they put a lot of energy into it and they blow the benefit.
And so you tell yourself, it’s like climbing a mountain. The air is thin, you’ve burned up your resources, you’re more tired than you’ve ever been in the whole project. But if you stay on track and finish, you get to see the view on the other side, the rest of your life you can say, “I did it,” and the doors that get opened up by actually reaching the summit will be forever yours.
But if you let yourself slide back down the pole, it’s like somebody who, there’s a million dollars at the top of a flagpole, and you climb up the flagpole and you get to the top, and you’re exhausted and it’s two feet away, and then a bird flies by. And you look at the bird, and because of that, you lose your focus and you loosen your grip, a half-second, you’re going to be right down at the bottom and going to have to start all over again, because you let yourself get distracted.
James: That’s a great metaphor, by the way, very easy to visualize that. This is all providing that you had a good plan and decision-making process in the very beginning. I think that probably some people don’t get the flag because they’re questioning their plan or decision in hindsight. It’s better to have more emphasis on the decision and planning phase so that you only ever go up the flagpole that you know is the right flagpole and that has the right flag at the top. That’s going to make your ability to climb far easier.
And it’s also easier if you’re only trying to climb one flagpole at once, right? And to have fewer flagpoles to climb and more focus on that one flagpole, it’s much easier to finish one flagpole than to half-climb six flagpoles and never get one flag.
Larry: Exactly. And the deal is that, that kind of brings it to the last point, which is, when you finish, how is it that some people are able to go from success to success? Even in sports teams, well the ones that go through the finish line saying, this was great, unbelievable, I’m going to enjoy, I’m going to celebrate, but I’m going to notice the things that didn’t go perfect, I’m going to notice. I could have had better equipment, I could have had better time management, I could have been more efficient. In where I spent my time, what tools, what support, or it would have been a lot easier if I had more skill in this area or that area, and so I’m going to go back and improve myself in these areas because nobody ever accomplishes anything by being perfect. There’s always areas you can improve in. You don’t dismiss those in your euphoria of finishing your project but you note those in your head and say, I’m going to improve that, I’m going to improve that, I’m going to improve that. That sets you up for even bigger success in the future, the bigger opportunities like you say, the other goals that could come your way.
But almost, going after five or six different things and never accomplishing any of them, accomplishes you nothing. And so you want to stay on track, get one of them, get it behind you, improve, and then go after bigger things.
James: That’s fantastic, Larry. Thank you. And just to summarize here, the five action steps are: to Decide, to Overdo, to Adjust, to Finish, and then Improve. And I obviously recommend your book, which you can find out more information at WeidelOnWinning.com, the book’s called Serial Winner, 5 Actions to Create Your Cycle of Success. Larry, thanks for joining us and sharing your success formula.
Larry: My pleasure, James, and I wish you the best in all of your programs, and look forward to talking in the future.
James: Thank you very much.
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