So here we are—Thanksgiving in the US—a time when we can all reflect on what we’re grateful for, and also the things that truly matter. For me, because this was such a special year, I feel obliged to mention a few names of some people that had a profound impact on my life during this time period. So, if I may indulge just a bit, here goes:
1. Derek Coburn: Many of those reading this article may not know who Derek Coburn is right now, but mark my words, you soon will. Derek is the founder of a group in Washington DC known as Cadre—an organization consisting of highly successful business owners, entrepreneurs, and other overachievers. A literal master at networking and human relations, Coburn has a book coming out on the subject in a few months and is easily one of the biggest influencers in the Washington DC area. In 2013, over 60% of all the revenue generated by The Sales Lion came directly or indirectly from my Cadre experience—an eye popping number really—and an experience that reminded me just how critical our “offline” network is in a very “online” world.
2. Jay Baer: I’m going to be very honest here and say there have been times I’ve asked myself why Jay Baer has been so kind to me over these last couple of years. His interest in my well-being and success is literally baffling, and the fact that he asked me to write the foreword to his bestselling Youtility has proved to have a major impact on my career as well. I simply can’t thank Jay enough for the person he is.
3. Mitch Joel: There are few people I enjoy chatting with in this world more than Mitch Joel. Those of you that listen to his podcast likely understand what I mean by that, because, to put it simply, his mind just works at a different level than most people—present writer included. During our many conversations this year, one particular discussion had a massive impact on my career. Basically, Mitch asked me what I had been charging organizations to speak and upon receiving my answer, he berated me—without filter—for the next 20 minutes on why I needed to raise my prices and understand the value of my skill set.
Because of that one simple conversation almost a year ago, speaking fees have tripled and today make up about 50% of my personal revenue.
4. Ian Altman: Like Derek Coburn, many readers may not be familiar with Ian just yet, but his star is on the rise. I first met Ian a little over a year ago when he saw me speak at a Cadre event. Shortly thereafter, he told me he also was a speaker and that our messages were very much aligned—he in sales and me in marketing. Well, to be honest, I really didn’t believe him until I saw him speak and thought to myself, “Holy cow, this guy is great. His message is phenomenal.” Shortly after this realization, Altman approached me about putting on an event—one where marketing, sales, and customer experience were combined and taught in a way attendees likely hadn’t been a part of, and the Remarkable Growth Experience was born.
5. Chris Brogan: Although many people “know” Chris through his blog, I’ve feel like I’ve gotten to know him in a different light over the past year or so. On one particular occasion, I was walking the streets of Bangor Maine one night (there for a speaking engagement) and out of the blue I see Chris as well, walking solo. We met up in the street with a big hug and for the next couple of hours proceeded to have a tremendous conversation about life, family, and just about everything else under the sun.
But here is why Chris has had such a big impact on me—Ever since our first encounter over 4 years ago (when I was a nobody in the online world) Chris has always made me feel like the most important person in the room. The guy has a very special skill when it comes to this, literally more than maybe anyone I’ve ever met.
6. Loren Feldman/Mark Cohen: Who are Loren and Mark? Well, Loren heard me speak at the International Vistage conference in Dallas Texas earlier this year, after which he told me he’d like to run a story in the paper he worked for about what I’d discussed in my presentation. Shortly thereafter, he had one of his journalists, Mark Cohen, interview me—an experience which lasted about 90 minutes. A week later, the article was on the cover of the small business section of the New York Times and literally overnight my career seemed to change in incredible ways. I’m so grateful Loren had the vision of just how successful that story could be, and Mark was able to work up a masterpiece that ended up being the #1 shared and emailed business story in the Times for the next 3 days.
7. Rich McElaney: In case you haven’t noticed Rich around TSL before, he’s actually the VP of Business Development for the company. To make a long story short, Rich has been around the block and is rich with business and marketing experience. He came to me about a year and a half ago and basically said, “The sky is the limit for you, but you need someone to bring order to the chaos.” Truer words have never been spoken, and today Rich is the lead on multiple accounts for The Sales Lion while also managing/brokering all my speaking engagements.
8. Alison Whitmire: Some people lead from the front, other lead in the background. Alison Whitmire is the latter. With a very keen ability to help others discover their talents and story, Alison is also well known for the fact that she was the TedX organizer that brought in Simon Sinek for his famous Ted Talk. This past year, Alison approached me about speaking at a TED and as I mentioned on this blog, I was extremely close to giving up on the idea because I didn’t feel like I had the right talk. After going to Alison and telling her that I wasn’t going to be able to do the talk, she literally “rejected my rejection” and convinced me to push through. To me, it was a phenomenal act of faith on her part and was the catalyst to the success I had with TED, and what it has meant for my career since then.
As you can see, all the folks mentioned here had a direct impact on my career, but there is another group I have to mention that supersedes anyone above, and that’s my wife and four kids. Without question, they are an anchor to my soul, keeping me from drifting about in the storms of life and bringing me incredible happiness and joy, day in and day out.
Thank you everyone above, and thank YOU for being a reader and supporter of The Sales Lion. I’m truly humbled to be so blessed.