5 years ago this month, I felt impressed to start a blog with a funny name—The Sales Lion.
I didn’t know what it would become.
I certainly didn’t know it would grow into the business and company it is today.
And the truth is, I still don’t know what it will eventually be.
But as I reflect back at this amazing period of my life, I wanted to share with you 10 lessons that have become incredibly apparent to me during this time period.
As you read these, I hope you’ll be touched with a few that may relate to you in some way. And if you don’t have the time to read what I’ve written below, I hope you’ll at least take a minute to watch this quick video my 13 year-old daughter Danielle made as a surprise for me this month—a Father’s Day gift that magically sums up what these 5 years have entailed.
10 Life Lessons from 5 Years of Living a Life on the Web
1. You Will Not See Where the Trail Goes until You Begin Walking It: Too many of us want all the answers when starting a blog, a new venture, or a business. But the answers aren’t meant to be known at the beginning, they’re meant to be discovered as we go.
2. The More You Write, the More You’ll Realize What You’re Really Trying to Say: In conjunction with #1, when I started The Sales Lion, I thought it was about “sales.” Then I thought it was about “blogging.” Then I thought it was about “inbound and content marketing.” But today, I realize it’s about something much deeper—communication, human relationships, and growth. In other words, I don’t think I was put on this earth to write about marketing. But I do think writing about marketing is taking me to the place I’m eventually supposed to be.
3. Communication is the Greatest Skillset of the 21st Century: Whether it’s personal or professional, the world is thirsting for GREAT communicators. As for me, I’ve really spent these last 5 years studying this subject and contemplating everything about it. Whether I’m reading an article, watching a video, speaking from a stage, or sitting in an audience—my mind is consumed with what makes for great communication versus what fails to make a connection. Furthermore, I firmly believe your ability to communicate will have more impact on your income than any skills, training, or “education” you’ll ever receive.
4. A Blog is NOT a Business: That’s right, a “business” is a business. A blog is just a way of formatting and organizing articles on a webpage. And unless you realize that your blog is just a subset of something much bigger, then it’s a very good chance it won’t (at least monetarily) become what you hope it will be.
5. Value is in the Eye of the Beholder: When I started The Sales Lion, I was just a “pool guy.” And because of this, I saw the world from a pool guy’s perspective. This is also why I saw business as a series of set prices, products, and hourly wages. Today, I don’t work for wages, and I know I never will again. The things I teach can bring tremendous value to a business—often times meaning millions of dollars—which is exactly why my income is roughly 600% higher today than it was 5 years ago.
6. The Teacher Always Wins: We live in a world where business and people are so worried about selling what they sell, and doing what they do, that they forget to stop and truly listen to what their audience is trying to say. But the moment we stop, listen, and become obsessed with solving our customer’s and audience’s problems—then the magic begins. The best content marketers are teachers at heart. The best speakers and presenters are teachers at heart. And the best sales professionals are also teachers at heart. This reality will be true from now until the end of time.
7. If You Try to Sound Smart, You’ll Look Stupid: Every single one of us, more than ever, has an internal gauge that is turned off by that person who is desperate to look smart to the rest of the world. But the most successful of us know the goal has nothing to do with appearing smart, but rather being understood. This, ultimately, is the essence of persuasion and influence.
8. We Overestimate the Highs and the Lows: When I first started blogging, I kept waiting for my “big break.”
When I wrote my first blog post that went viral, I thought everything would be different…but it wasn’t.
When I finally got invited to speak at a major marketing conference, I was sure everything would be different…but it wasn’t.
When I gave my first keynote to 1000 people, I imagined how everything would be different…but it wasn’t.
When I landed on the cover of the New York Times, I thought everything would be different…but it wasn’t.
You see, after each one of these things, there may have been a “bump” (granted, the NYT was a BIG bump) in opportunities, but the reality is success (the kind that lasts) is a gradual thing, and clearly isn’t founded upon one-hit-wonders.
At the same time, when supposed “bad” things happen, we often grossly overestimated their actual effect on our lives.
This is why the most successful in this space or any other manage to keep perspective, in the best or worst of times.
9. Social Media Will Screw You Up if You Let It: Yes, I’m being serious. Obsessing over the number of blog comments you’re getting will get you nowhere. Getting depressed over things such as likes, shares, and retweets is utterly detrimental to the soul. I’m not saying that social media doesn’t make a difference, because it can and often does, but good grief it has messed with the psyche, and success, of millions.
10. No Success Outside the Home Will Compensate for Failure Within the Home: This may be what I love so very much about this video from my daughter Danielle at the beginning, as it shows my efforts to be the dad I “should” be while trying to grow a career, an agency, and a brand. And although I’m far from perfect, I can honestly say I have a better relationship with my wife and 4 children today than I did 5 years ago, and that makes me very, very happy.
***One final note***
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my gratitude for the people in this industry that have supported me, believed in me, and helped me attain whatever success I’ve been able to achieve up to this point. To name a few, my sincere gratitude goes out to: Jay Baer, Mitch Joel, Michael Stelzner, Joe Pulizzi, Gini Dietrich, Chris Brogan, Derek Coburn, Ian Altman, Joey Coleman, Mark Schaefer, Krista Kotrla, the HubSpot gang, and too many others to even mention. Thank you all for believing.