Welcome to the Beehive

A Beginner’s Guide to Conquering the World of Business
By Robert J. Safuto

ii

Introduction: Welcome to the Beehive ......................................................... 1 Lesson One: Protect Yourself ................................................................... 12 Lesson Two: Be Tough ............................................................................. 47 Lesson Three: Make Mistakes Then Learn From Them ............................ 68 Lesson Four: Sell, Sell, Sell ...................................................................... 83 Lesson Five: You Gotta Have Heart........................................................ 101 Lesson Six: Leverage the Power of a Team............................................ 120 Lesson Seven: Constantly Evaluate........................................................ 137 Lesson Eight: Never Stop Learning......................................................... 153 Lesson Nine: The Power of Anticipation ................................................. 175 Lesson Ten: Believe In Yourself ............................................................. 199 Afterword: The Beginning ....................................................................... 226 Reading List ............................................................................................ 228

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iv

Introduction: Welcome to the Beehive

I originally wanted this book to be a straight memoir. One day, I just decided to start writing about my life, one story at a time. In the process of writing, something unusual happened. I

began to see a common thread weaving through each part of my life. That common thread happened to be related to all the

careers I’ve had. I realized that I have done a lot and had a much more diverse work experience than anyone else that I know. At the time I discovered this information I wasn’t sure that it would make an interesting book, but it was sure interesting to me. As I continued to write I came to another strong realization. I realized that along the way in my experiences of working life I had learned valuable lessons. I learned lessons that propelled me forward and built on top of each other like the LEGO blocks I played with when I was a kid. Every time I thought I had learned all there was to know in business through I one then door began and to learn a new lesson. I would door walk would

shortly

thereafter

another

appear in front of me. As I moved forward, I learned. I thought back to the beginning of my work life and realized that the vast majority of the things I learned were purely by
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 1

chance.

Throughout

my

teenage

years

and

early

twenties

I’d

picked up a lot of information, but I was not able to link all the information together well enough to use it to my benefit. I progressed in my business knowledge slowly but surely. Over the years, that slow processing of information has lead to many

larger breakthroughs. As a result of these breakthroughs I’ve been able to increase my earning power and improve my lifestyle. I’ve also been able to put myself in a position to make more of the decisions to guide my life. By my own definition, I’ve been successful. I ended up asking myself why all of this information might be so important to others. My personal breakthroughs aren’t

necessarily relevant to complete strangers. But it wasn’t the breakthroughs themselves that I was drawn to. I was drawn to the factors surrounding those breakthroughs. I was drawn to the core lessons learned while working for each breakthrough. I wrote out the major lessons that I’d learned and I settled on ten of them as being the most important. These ten common-sense lessons were the bedrock of my personal business successes. I did a lot of investigating and pondering the meaning of these lessons. I

discovered that these lessons are everywhere in the world of business. So why are these lessons that I’ve learned so important to you? These lessons are important to you simply because they can
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 2

help you improve your skills in business so that you may find your own success. There’s proof of this not only in my life but in examples set by many other individuals. Consider the fact that most of us will spend at least a third of our lives working. Shouldn’t you try to make the most of that time? Don’t you deserve to harness all the tools available to assist you in finding your success? Invest some time in this book and you’ll have one more important tool to help guide you to your success. These lessons that I speak of weren’t always as clear to me as they are now. To illustrate my point, I’ll take you back to a definitive time in my life when I had yet to realize the power of these common-sense lessons.

GRADUATION DAY

I remember the day I graduated from college. I felt like a large weight had been lifted off my shoulders as the “burden” of

school had been put behind me. In my mind, full-time work was going to be a breeze compared to sitting in classrooms for 15 hours a week in addition to a part-time job. After all, I’d been working since I was twelve years old in some really tough jobs that many people would never want to do, so I figured that

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

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things could only get easier. My education had prepared me to take on the world, or so I thought. After graduation I immediately began working full time for a shipping company that I’d been working for over the past two years on a part-time basis. I felt fortunate not to have had to deal with a ridiculous process of interviewing with companies to beg for a job. In 1991 there weren’t too many opportunities available for someone graduating from a non-prestigious school with a general business degree. Within a few weeks of graduation I was in the work force full time and I was working longer and longer hours. Gone were the days when I could leave work after just five

hours. Gone were the days when things that didn’t get done on my shift were done by people from the next one. I was no longer a part-time worker and full-time student. I was a full-time

employee, work was the first priority and my bosses made sure I knew it. Things were moving fast, would so soon after college. faster than I ever thought they I figured that I’d have a few

months to get used to my new responsibilities, with my bosses giving me some breathing room. I was wrong. In retrospect, it seems that it would have been worthwhile to pause and take a couple of months off to travel, clear my head and prepare for life in the working world. Unfortunately, the
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 4

economic realities of the time made starting work immediately a forgone conclusion. At my new full-time job things seemed to move even faster as I began to realize that the subjects I had been learning a few months before only covered a small fraction of the knowledge required to successfully make my way in this new world. In

short, I felt like an alien dropped onto a planet of worker bees. I didn’t know the lay of the land and I didn’t speak the language. I wasn’t sure what my goals should be or how I should try to get ahead. In reality, I was beginning a second and much more important education. Does the situation sound familiar to you? Have you ever felt like there was something more you needed to know to not only survive, but to thrive in the world of business?

ENTERING THE BEEHIVE

Millions of people enter the world of business on a daily basis. There are children a getting few extra their first for jobs, high school and

students

earning

dollars

spending

money

college students trying to earn their way through school. Then there are the college graduates. Every few months a new university graduating class makes the same transition from the campus to the cutthroat world
5

of

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

business armed with barely enough tools to survive the first few months in the new world. If these folks are lucky, they’ve

already learned a good deal from previous jobs and have a good frame of reference to start with. The frame of reference changes completely, though, once you’re expected to make your way in the business world and start a career. Sure, there are plenty of valuable lessons learned and topics covered in universities around the world, but the toughest

lessons we all learn involve dealing with what actually happens when there’s real money on the line in a business and the bills to pay are your own. It’s a tough, new world you’re in and attending school is only a small part of your preparation. In your life there will be many phases of learning and the school phase is just one of them. Moving from the school phase to the worker bee phase is a true lesson in reality. The halls of knowledge tend to be an idealistic environment inside a

vacuum where studies are not putrefied by greed or anger. You may read stories of corporate mismanagement and perform case

studies on unsavory business dealings, but that can’t approach the reality of being involved in such a deal. Yes, it’s a jungle out there. The lessons that we have to learn are vital to our survival on our own and they apply to everyone who works for a living. Whether you are an entrepreneur, manager, artist, software
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Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

developer, candlestick maker or everything in between you will need to learn and apply these valuable lessons. The folks who have a focus on non-business type programs may even be at a deeper liberal disadvantage arts or than those who studied barely

business.

Most

technical

curriculums

touch on topics that our young people will NEED to know in order to survive in the business world. After all, even the greatest painter, actress or computer programmer needs to know how to be a business person in order to survive and thrive in this world. Some people aren’t fortunate enough to be able to afford a college education and for those people things can be much

tougher. Forced into the working world at a young age and a low level of experience, these people may end up spending all their time just trying to learn the rules to survive, while thriving may always be out of their grasp. But some high school graduates have been able to make it in business, succeed financially and fare much better than those with college degrees. There are

certain skills to be learned and they’re not always learned in the classroom. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve graduated from a top university or just have a high school diploma. All of us need to master certain abilities in the working world, the

beehive, in order to secure our future. Here’s my main point: There are lessons to be learned outside the classroom that can ONLY be truly learned outside
7

the

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

classroom. These lessons deal with topics that are very blunt, stripping the sheen off of the subjects presented so eloquently in school. I plan to pull back the curtain on the show and have you take a closer look inside your life as a worker bee. It doesn’t matter whether you’re still in school, have been out of school for a day or 20 years. Wherever you’re at in your

business life, you need to learn (or re-learn) these lessons.

WHY WE WORK

Before we go any further, I want you to answer this question: Why do I work? Be honest now. In fact, right after you answer that, then answer another question: If I had $2 million in the bank, would I still do the same thing for work that I’m doing right now? If you’re a really lucky person, you answered yes to the second question and didn’t give the answer that probably 90

percent of people would give to the first question, which is MONEY. Let’s face it, most of us work so we can have enough money not just to live but also to grow and thrive. And if we had $2 million in the bank we’d probably do

something that we really loved to do like paint, write, make music or volunteer for a good cause. These are facts. This is life. You can’t stop the world.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 8

I couldn’t stop the world either and as quick as I realized that fact I began to find ways to speed myself up a bit while cultivating skills that would make the world around me seem a whole lot slower. A couple of years ago I heard a veteran NFL quarterback

describing the difference between being a rookie and a veteran. As a rookie, he was dogged by the fact that he had only three seconds to get rid of the ball before being crushed by

defenders. As a veteran, he relished the fact that he had three seconds to get rid of the ball. The difference was a mindset cultivated through experiences that lead to great skill. In year one, those three seconds would fly by and the defense would be on him in a flash. By year ten those three seconds held enough time to drop back, scan the field and throw a pass. Those are lessons he could never learn in school. He had to learn them on the field of play. Just like the rookie quarterback becoming a veteran, a rookie in life needs to become a veteran to learn to speed up a bit and develop a mindset that slows everything down so that you’re not just keeping up, but gaining ground. Ninety-nine percent of us will never get paid millions of dollars a year to throw a

football, which is why getting these lessons in our brain is so important. That job, that business, that opportunity, that dream …
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 9

All those things are our Super Bowl. They are our draft day, our big movie career or our winning lottery ticket. In short, they are the doorway to our dream of doing what we love and controlling our own destinies. Are you in? Can you see what I’m getting at? It’s important, really important, that you get these lessons into your brain and start taking them to heart. The sooner you take these lessons to heart, the sooner you can start gaining ground and living your dreams. In the 20 years since I first had that paper route I’ve managed to learn these vital lessons. I’ve been able to speed myself up while slowing things down around me. It’s been a

journey of learning and discovery with some highs and a lot of lows. The journey began long before college graduation; it just took me a while to to realize it. From paper delivery and boy to

factory

worker

soldier

to

restaurateur

energy-market

specialist, with a healthy number of careers in between, I’ve been building a solid foundation for achievement and success in business. I’ve learned to control my business destiny and it has unlocked a host of opportunities in my life, allowing me to feel more confident than I’ve ever been.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

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I want to share what I’ve learned with you. My sincere belief is that these common-sense lessons will help you down the road to business success in your life, whatever that may mean to you. The adventure begins …

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

11

Lesson One: Protect Yourself

“One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves." - NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI

A few years ago a young woman walked into my restaurant to apply for a job as a waitress. She couldn’t have been older than 19 or 20 and she had a fresh face, a nice smile and really short hair. I commented that the short haircut looked really good on her. She turned her head, touched her hair and replied in a very shy manner, “Well, it used to be longer but I just had it cut.” “Why’d you do that?” I replied. Just as shy, she replied, “Well I was getting paid for it.” I told her that it sounded like easy money to get paid for having a haircut, but she didn’t look happy and after a short pause she offered, $200.” By the look on her face and the sound of her voice I could tell that she needed the money badly. I could also tell that she was ashamed of being taken by a guy she had just met who seemed very nice and charming. The young woman, who I’ll call Kelli, was a student at a fashion school in Manhattan and very new to the city. She was
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 12

“But

the

guy

didn’t

pay me.

I

was supposed

to

get

looking for ways to keep her head above water while pursuing her dream of being a fashion designer. I gave her the job, but she had already learned lesson one the hard way. Lesson one is this: dealings. You need to protect yourself because people will lie to you and cheat you out of your dreams if given the chance. Sounds harsh, I know, but please read on. Honest people get beaten all the time in business deals and you don’t want it to happen to you. It may have happened to you before and it might happen again. In your working life you’ll deal with businesses both big and small. You’ll deal with individuals as well. You’ll deal with people as an employer and employee. You’ll deal with people as a service provider or service receiver. In every one of these Protect yourself in all of your business

situations there is the potential for you to be taken advantage of. Not everyone makes the choice to treat others so badly, but the ones who do can make your life miserable and put a serious dent in your plans for the future.

BUILDING TRUST

In

order

to

properly

protect

yourself,

you

need

to

know

something about building trust. Knowing when and how much to
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 13

trust someone else is a cornerstone skill for operating in the world of business. You build trust with people like you build a life savings. Building trust takes time, effort and patience, but it’s

certainly worth it. It’s worth it because trusting someone too much without having built trust can lead to great

disappointment. Kelli trusted her business counterpart too much when she got her hair cut. Kelli didn’t think she needed to protect herself, as do so many people who get shafted every day. As a young man, some friends and I went to Times Square in Manhattan to get fake identification so we could pass for 18 years old. We met a guy there who gladly would set us up if we gave him $20 each. We were eager and easily sold. He asked for the money and promised to return shortly with the

identification. He left and never returned. We didn’t even think to protect ourselves and we got taken. Similar circumstances occur every hour of the day with grown (and supposedly experienced) adults being taken advantage of by employers, business partners and acquaintances. The common

element in many of these situations is the fact that people haven’t taken the time to build trust. In a world of light-speed Internet, we’ve all become used to things happening so quickly. This type of environment favors those who would hoodwink you out of your hard-earned money.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 14

The folks who started the online auction Website eBay knew the importance of trust when they created the blueprint for

their highly successful venture. When doing business on eBay, users are encouraged to leave feedback to indicate whether or not their interaction with a buyer or seller was a positive one. By allowing users to leave feedback for the people they do business with, the folks at eBay created a trust “quotient” which allows potential buyers and

sellers to evaluate their counterparties and determine whether or not they should trust them. That level of trust translates into a willingness (or not) to do business with other users of the site. Before making a buying decision rating. an eBay able user to to can view take

review other

another people’s

person’s feedback

feedback allows

Being

business

transactions

place much quicker than in the conventional world where we must build trust over time. In everyday life you won’t have the luxury of quickly

reviewing feedback when you’re making business decisions. So you might be asking the question: How do I build trust with someone? Good thinking! Building trust in the world of business takes time and it involves more than a handshake and some friendly conversation. Here’s an important point. In business you trust a person’s actions over their words until you’ve developed a level of comfort in dealing with them.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 15

So if you’re a new employee at a company or are newly doing business with someone you’ll want to rely on the results of people’s promises until you feel comfortable that they are the type of people who deliver on their promises. It’s hard to know exactly when you can say that you “trust” someone. There isn’t a point or a moment where trust exists. It’s something that moves forward little by little over the

course of a relationship. And since there’s no clear answer as to when you should fully trust someone, you should continue to protect yourself while dealing in a business environment. My

golden rule on this subject is simple. Until you really feel like you know someone, you should always err on the side of safety and gain all necessary assurances before moving forward in a business deal. For many people, the first true “trust event” that occurs after college involves accepting a job with an employer. Once you accept that first job you’re likely to be extremely relieved to know that you’ve got a job, but you might not have considered all the details involved in accepting that job offer. Since my first job after college involved me continuing with a company where I was already working as a part-time employee, I thought about few details when accepting my full-time position. As a result, I had no idea what I was in for and probably ended up a little bit poorer because of it. I never asked
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Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

questions about my work hours or career progression. I didn’t ask what other that people would to expect me was me a to do. Hence, almost

everything

happened

surprise.

Surprising

situations at work never feel good. Being careful and building trust become extremely important once you make the jump from student to worker bee. And whether you plan on working trust for will someone always else be or an plan issue on of being an

entrepreneur,

supreme

importance. The level of trust that you allow in your business dealings affects how you are compensated. It also affects your

ability to be successful by potentially putting a dent in the faith you have in yourself when things go wrong. Read on to learn more about how to protect yourself while building trust.

ASK QUESTIONS

Asking questions is a very powerful way to protect yourself in a business situation. More often than not you can detect warning signs when you ask a few questions that your counterpart can’t (or won’t) answer. When Kelli made the deal to get her hair cut, she didn’t think she needed to ask questions. She simply trusted that her new friend would deliver as advertised. Unfortunately, things just don’t work that way in the world of dollars and sense.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 17

Kelli was a rookie in the game of life and as such a rookie in the game of making deals. Kelli didn’t have the time to build trust since her rent was due soon and she needed to act quickly. She wasn’t alone because all of us end up in desperate

situations at one time or another. Have you ever been in a job interview and had the interviewer ask you if you had any questions? Did you ever clam up and forget what you wanted to ask? In every interview for a job that I’ve ever been on I’ve been asked, “Do you have any questions?” Every time in my first few interviews I would freeze up because I didn’t know what questions to ask. Sometimes I was afraid that my questions might upset my potential employer. The next thing you know, complete strangers are offering you a job and you’re accepting because you need a job and don’t want to pass an offer up. Imagine making a decision that will have a great impact on the majority of your waking life and not asking a few questions. It sounds crazy to think about it, but people do it every day. If you’re not the type to question others, change your ways now! Pointed questions should not upset potential employers or

business partners. Good questions show your peers in business that you’re a sharp person who cares about the details. Kelli should have asked some important questions prior to getting her hair cut off. One question that comes to mind is
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 18

this: “How and when will I get paid?” In fact, the question of payment is probably next to the how most the important or one in any that business will be

situation,

product

service

delivered. Kelli never did ask that question, although she did ask how much she would be paid. It was a good start but not enough to convince her adversary that this girl couldn’t be

taken for a ride. If you’re catching ready on to (and ask, I know that you are) should you’re I be

probably

getting

“What

questions

asking in business situations?” I’ll give you some more detail on that in just a little bit. Kelli’s first questions should have involved how and when she would get paid. Hindsight tells us that she should have demanded payment up front. After all, when the guy wouldn’t pay it wasn’t like she could put the hair back onto her head! So if a

situation has permanent implications then you should get paid SOMETHING up front. Smart business people take a deposit when they know they will have to commit time and resources to prepare for a job. We’re just using common sense here. If you have no previous relationship with a person or a company, then you want to be thorough in your inquiries so that you can protect yourself and keep the hair on your head!

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

19

In school, most of the time we’re taught that every question has one right answer. But in business you really want to focus on hearing the answers that you know are wrong. There may be one wrong answer to a particular question, with 20 right answers. For example, you may ask a prospective employer how many weeks of vacation you’ll be entitled to. You might be hoping to hear something more than two weeks and anything more than two weeks would be correct. But if you hear them say two weeks or below, then you know they’ve got it wrong. So you may be asking: “How do I know the right answer?” Great, you’re catching on! Knowing which answer is right will depend on your level of experience. If you’ve achieved the right level then you’ll know the answer to the question. If you’re not there yet the answers to certain questions may lead to more questions. Time and

experience will ultimately guide you to the knowledge that you need to have to decipher what answers are desirable and what answers are just plain wrong. Kelli’s level of experience jumped considerably after only a few weeks in the city. She’d been hoodwinked more than once so she was cautious about everything. Yes, she asked how and when she would get paid for working in my restaurant BEFORE accepting the job. She had learned the hard way before and lost a few

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

20

dollars and a lot of hair because of it. Hopefully, as a result of reading this book, you’ll end up better off then she did. I’ve given you some general guidelines about asking questions but that’s hardly enough information to make you an expert in dealing with business situations. I’ve put together a list of important questions that you NEED to get answered before getting into a business situation. If you’re entering into a business arrangement with another individual or corporation, you might want to ask: What product or service is getting delivered? Who is delivering the product or service? What are the payment terms? What should be accomplished in the final outcome? When should the final outcome be complete? What happens if the product or service is delivered late, incomplete or not at all? What happens if the receiving party fails to pay on time? Does the counterpart have references of people with whom they’ve done business before? If you’re interviewing with a prospective employer, you may ask: Exactly what duties will I be performing on a daily basis?

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

21

Will I have a job title and how does that compare with other titles in the company? Who will be my direct supervisor? Will I be responsible for other personnel? How often do you appraise employees’ performance? What are the health and retirement benefits? These are just a few questions that you should be asking when entering into a business agreement. If you don’t have answers to these questions, then you aren’t ready to go forward. If the folks you’re dealing with refuse to answer or dodge your

questions, then walk away and deal with someone else. Better to deal with someone who’s eager and accommodating than deal with a person that treats you like a jerk. As you move through the process of your business deal, other questions may come up and you should continue to get those questions answered. Even the questions that may seem dumb to you are worth asking. The key is that you must feel comfortable that all your questions are

answered and issues are resolved prior to moving forward in a business situation. Now I want you to start the first of many exercises to come in this book. Don’t worry, none of them are hard and all of them will increase your knowledge about how to succeed as a worker bee.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

22

I want you to write down a short overview of a business situation that you’ve been in recently or are likely to be in soon. After writing that short overview I want you to think of and write down questions that were relevant to that situation. If the situation happened already, don’t worry about the

questions that you didn’t ask. I want you to write down all the questions you can think of, including ones that you didn’t ask. This exercise will help you to think about the questions you should be asking and break down some barriers in your mind about questioning others.

ENGAGE COUNSEL

We’ve already established that our friend Kelli didn’t ask the right questions and therefore failed to take the first step to protect herself. Being so new to the city and business

situations, she couldn’t have been expected to know what was happening when she got duped by her would-be hair thief. After all, even if she had asked the right questions her lack of

experience might have led her astray anyway. It would’ve been really helpful if she’d had someone to talk to about the whole situation prior to the shearing that she ended up getting. The next step to protecting yourself is to Engage Counsel or, in other words, find someone who can give you solid advice.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 23

We all need someone to talk to. When we’re kids we talk to our parents and maybe our older siblings for advice. Later in life we may ask teachers or guidance counselors for advice. But once we step off the slow-moving machine of higher education and step onto the fast-moving alien planet of worker bees, we end up short on advisers and long on adversaries. If you’re lucky

enough to stay close to your family and friend support network then you have something great to fall back on. But if you’re one of the many who takes the leap and heads to far-away places, knowing who to talk to won’t be that easy. And besides, when you’re fresh out of school the last thing you think you need to do is ask someone for help. You just learned all you’ll need to know, right? Wrong! You need a counselor. You need someone with a little bit of experience who has no agenda and can provide you with bits of sage advice to keep you on track and away from the bad guys who cut all your hair and stiff you on your end of the deal. Say these words to yourself right now: “I don’t know as much as I think I know about insert a subject here.” Saying something like that is humbling and most of the time we avoid thinking it, but the truth is that no matter who you are you can always learn something from someone else. The first step to person (or people) for engaging counsel the job. In is to find the right the right
24

order

to find

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

person you first need to open up to the idea that a counselor is necessary. If you’re reading this book, I’d say it’s a safe bet to say that you’ve already come to that conclusion. You’ll need to have some criteria for a counselor in order to begin your search. Any person providing you with counsel should be someone you respect and trust. It should be someone who is available when you’ll need them. And above all it someone who has more experience than you you’ll be seeking advice. Whether you’re just out of college or have 15 years in the business world, you’ll need to be able to evaluate your should be

in the areas where

potential counselors prior to giving them the job. After all, if you’ve just graduated college you might not get too much

valuable advice about work from your roommate who got out of college with you. Evaluating the person’s level of experience is important, as this person will provide input that guides your life. Being successful at this step requires a skill that can’t be taught in any school. That skill is being a good judge of people. You may ask, “How do I know if I’m a good judge of people?” That’s a good question and there’s no simple answer that works for everyone. My simple guidelines for judging people are these: Engage people who are honest with you and others Engage people who encourage your endeavors
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 25

Engage people who really understand you If all the above are true, then engage people who are eager and willing to help Do you know any lawyers? For all the lawyer jokes that you hear I’ve found my lawyer friends to be some of the most

intelligent and thorough people when it comes to assessing a situation. Have you met any people recently who you like and are a bit more experienced than you? There may be someone at your job who you admire that could help you. Seek out this person who will be your confidant and guide and they will probably end up finding you. People who are experienced absolutely love it when others come to them for advice. It makes them feel like they’re respected and their efforts are worthwhile. Do you have anyone in mind? Keep thinking. Take a couple of days to assess the world around you and identify someone. Once you’ve settled on someone, then you’ll need to approach that person and ask them if they’re interested in helping you out. OK, you might want to ask, what do I do if the person I choose says no? No problem, move on and try to find someone else who’s interested in helping you. You can’t be discouraged by a few no’s because there will be a lot of them in your quest for

success. After all, you want to be dealing with someone who’s enthusiastic about giving you advice. Anyone who says no to your request for counsel is not a good fit anyway.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 26

Consider this your next exercise. Develop some basic criteria and seek out a counselor for business situations in your life. Once you’ve found your counselor and started this relationship, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed in your

endeavors. Of course, having a counselor won’t be worth anything unless you actually spend the time to get some counsel every once in a while or as often as you need it. To not do so would be like jumping out of an airplane with a parachute but not using it! Finding and utilizing a counselor is but one of the steps to protecting yourself. There are still a few things that you’ll need to do. Each new thing that you do is as important as the previous thing, so read on.

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT

When I was starting out as a paper delivery boy at age twelve, business agreements were simple. I delivered the papers and all that I wanted out of the deal was some spending money. As I got older, things got more complicated. My job wasn’t just about spending money anymore. Working was more about

security than ever. When making my first decisions after college I had absolutely no idea what I really wanted out of my new career. I treated my job as though I was a paper boy who needed
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 27

some spending money. Not knowing what I really wanted ensured that my job wouldn’t really benefit me in a meaningful way. Sure, I’d get paid some money for working but I wouldn’t be able to create a solid future until I could envision that future. As I stated in the introduction, we work for money or benefits so that we can gain, be secure and shape our future. In order to get those benefits you have to know what you want to get out of your business arrangements. In some situations, knowing what you want is second nature to you. When you walk into a restaurant you may want a good meal at a reasonable price. When you go to a movie, you pay to see entertainment that you enjoy. But what about those times when you’re looking for a job? Are you just looking for a job that pays well or are you also interested in a special kind of

professional development? Do you want to lead a team, have an office or get three weeks vacation? Do you want to try your hand at running your own business? What about health care and other benefits besides salary? You could have many more questions about these things or anything else. The key here is to understand that without

knowing what you really want to achieve in a given situation, you’re lost even with all of your questions answered. In the previous section I mentioned the importance of asking questions. Knowing what you want helps you to ask the right questions.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 28

Maybe you’re a business owner or you aspire to own your own business. Knowing what you want out of a business situation is much more important when the business is your own. This is

because there’s usually a much higher financial risk involved when you’re running your own business. It may sound surprising to hear that many entrepreneurs fail to know exactly what they want to get out of their business arrangements. Some people are great at coming up with ideas and getting those ideas off the ground in the form of businesses, but that’s where the motivation and initiative stops. When I was in the restaurant business I partnered with a person exactly like this. As a result, I joined a business that was merely surviving on inertia with no direction and no real future. You could see in the bottom line that the business

wasn’t making a profit. In fact, the business was losing money every month. I joined the business because I saw a diamond in the rough and wanted to inject the business with my direction. I knew what I wanted to get out of the business and those ideas affected how I ran operations. This attitude resulted in

improved financial health for the business (and me) in just a few months. The key point here is that business owners who know what they want in all situations are much more likely to be successful than those who have a vague idea of their goals.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 29

I do understand that at times it can be extremely difficult to pull it all together to know exactly what you want. You may have just graduated school with a boatload of student loans and high expectations from others. You may be in the middle of a career and finding yourself unexpectedly unemployed. You could be a single mom (or dad) trying to provide for your family while still having a home life. You may be running a business that’s struggling and be too involved in keeping things going on a dayto-day basis. Many high-pressure situations like these make it tough to put it all into perspective. People who are successful in business find a way to get that perspective. Like the veteran quarterback who can avoid a sack and make the most of his short time, you need to handle the pressure and find a way to make the world around you slow down just a little bit. Is that very hard to do? Yes. But with practice it is doable. People just like us are doing it every day of the week. I want you to work on a little exercise to bring it all into focus. Grab a sheet of paper and think of all the business

situations that you are in now or may be involved with in the near future. Write down a short description for each of those situations. Leave space under each situation for some details. Under each of the business situations I want you to write what you hope to get out of the situation. Once you’ve decided what
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 30

you hope to get out of the situation, expand on it by writing down how you plan to ensure that you get what you want out of a situation. Here’s a simple example of how this should work: Situation - Calling on a client for a potential sale. Expectation – I want the client to either continue the sales process by requesting more detailed information or agreeing on the spot to purchase my product. Action Plan – I will prepare before the meeting by ensuring that I understand the client’s situation and needs. I will

prepare and present material that addresses those needs. I will show up on time for the meeting, and be very positive and very responsive to the client’s questions. I will ask for the sale or, at the very least, make my best attempt to move the sales process forward. You see, it’s a very simple thing to do. It just requires a bit of thinking and some common sense. The key to knowing my action plan was knowing what I wanted to get out of the

situation. Try this for as many scenarios as you can think of. And remember, this isn’t school, so there are no mistakes on this. Everything you write down has value.

GET IT IN WRITING

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

31

OK, so you’ve built a little bit of business savvy by completing the previous exercises. You’ve got a good basis to move forward, and move forward we must. These skills will inevitably lead you to a point where you’ll be ready to enter into some kind of business agreement. Agreements are just words and by themselves they don’t really hold any weight when engaging in a business deal. Any agreement between yourself and your counterparty needs to be legally verifiable in case something does not go as expected. And as much as we’d like to think that people are all honest and everything will happen as planned, it’s just not the case.

That’s why you’ll find that the best way to protect yourself in a business situation is: Get your agreements in writing! Now this may be a step that seems to be common sense but so many people skip it because they think that it’s easier to take someone’s word for something instead of putting it on paper. This thought process is one hundred percent wrong. Remember, we’re talking about ways to protect yourself here. So imagine you’re engaging in a business agreement to provide a service for someone and everything goes smooth on your end. You get paid on time, you’re happy and they’re happy, end of story. Now imagine the same scenario but your client now refuses to pay. They may start making up reasons why you shouldn’t be paid or that you should be paid less than what you agreed upon. You
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 32

would

probably

protest

that

you

delivered

the

agreed-upon

service completely and on schedule. The problem is that without the terms in writing you have no way of proving that fact and your claims against your client will be severely limited. I never took a class in college that specifically dealt with contracts because I was a business major. They do exist, but the problem is that you probably only think about them if you’re interested in law. Well if you’re in college I’d strongly

suggest choosing contract law as an elective no matter what your major is. In fact, I think that a class on contracts should be mandatory since we’ll all be in many situations where some sort of contract is (or should be) involved. I remember working as a tile and marble installer on a very large job in a building for a very famous developer in New York City. The job involved very expensive marble being installed in a building that had a prime location, so it was bound to be very lucrative. When the job was complete the developer tried every trick in the book to defer and/or reduce the payments to my company. This developer made up stories of defects and late work to try to reduce our payment by tens of thousands of dollars.

Here’s the best part, the job had already been verified onsite and the terms, which were met completely, were in writing! The developer simply didn’t care and wanted to throw out
33

the

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

original terms AFTER the job was done. A dispute was brewing, but could you imagine my company’s situation if we didn’t have a written contract? Luckily, my boss had gotten a deposit to cover all the

materials involved in the job prior to starting, so he wasn’t at a total loss my while he attempted got paid to get paid for the work.

Eventually,

company

every

penny

of

the

original

price but we wouldn’t have had a chance of that without the written agreement. Later, we realized that this particular

developer made his money by squeezing small contractors after a job was complete, and I’m sure that many of them got squeezed pretty hard. In partnering with my wife in her photo business, we deal with situations that require agreements all the time. I

introduced her to the concept of getting things in writing for all of her business dealings. When people agree to have my wife provide wedding photography services, the cost can run into the thousands of dollars and the photography contract protects each side from the other doing something that can hurt the other. For example, there is a clause that requires the client to pay a one-third deposit so that my wife can set aside the time and not book any other jobs. There’s also a clause that requires the client to provide a week’s notice for cancellation or

forfeit their deposit.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 34

These

clauses

prevent

clients

from

double-booking

photographers while they wait until the last minute to make a final decision. To protect the client, the agreement states

exactly what photo services will be delivered on the day of the wedding. So by looking at the agreement you can see all the details about the services to be performed. The terms for the deposit are an important part of any

written agreement. If your business arrangement requires you to set aside time in the future and/or commit other resources

before the job is done, then get a deposit for your services. A deposit that is refundable under certain conditions is critical to ensuring that the other party is serious about a business deal. From time to time, my wife will do photo shoots at cost in order to test new equipment or lighting techniques. These shoots are set up without deposits and nearly half the time the people fail to show up for the appointments. Conversely, when she collects a deposit for her services the people show up one hundred percent of the time. When people are paying a deposit it shows you that they are serious about

enlisting your services. When you accept a professional job these days many employers will require you the sign an employment contract prior to hiring you. You should read these contracts and know what they say
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 35

prior

to

accepting

a

job.

You

have

the

right

to

make

this

evaluation and I would avoid any employer who tries to get you to sign something without evaluation. You also have the right to add anything to the contract that has been promised but is not contained in the paper that you will sign. Oftentimes we’re

tricked into feeling that it’s “take it or leave it” in this type of situation and that’s just not the case. Some employers may give you that attitude and those are the employers that you’ll want to run from. I know that you’re getting smarter as we go and probably asking the question: How do I know what terms should be in my agreement? First of all, if you’re thinking about how your written

agreements should be worded and structured, then give yourself s gold star because you’re grasping a very important concept that will serve you well in business. Second, you should take some time to try to assess your contractual needs. If you’re someone who provides a product or performs a welldefined service, you can probably write out a contract that will cover most situations and leave space for the name of the person whom you’re doing business with. If you provide a service that varies greatly from client to client, then you may want to

include a few basic terms and fill out the rest as you take on work.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 36

Here’s another situation where your counselor will come in handy. Your counselor can guide you on setting up some template agreements. Another thing that the counselor should do is

recommend that you have a lawyer review your template agreements to insure that they are legally binding. After all, spending the time to get things in writing is worth nothing unless you can enforce the agreement. Sometimes people will try to beat an agreement that’s been signed. strong, Remember legally my example about the building my developer. company A

binding

agreement

prevented

from

being fleeced out of money and prevented us from being put in a very dire financial situation. Taking the time to review your agreements with a lawyer costs money but it will save you bigtime in the end. For your next exercise I want you to get into the mindset that you have the right (and the obligation to yourself) to put your agreements in writing. I want you to think of a situation where you should’ve had a written agreement but didn’t. It may have involved a job that you accepted or a business deal that you engaged in. You could also think of a situation where you had a written agreement but it didn’t include all conditions that you would have liked. Either way, use that situation to think of all the conditions that should have been in the

agreement and write them out. Once you’ve done that, consider
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 37

how your situation could have been improved by having some of these conditions in writing.

ENFORCING AGREEMENTS Thus far, I’ve given guidance on ways to protect yourself while you build trust in a business environment. All of this is great in theory but must be practiced in order to provide the true benefits that you desire. All of these measures lead up to your

written agreement. The written agreement is not the end of the line here, though. What if you make an agreement with someone and the other

party fails to meet the terms of the agreement? This is where you need to take strong action. The next lesson is a very

important one: Be prepared to enforce your agreement. If the other party in an agreement meets the terms of the agreement and you do the same (which you should always do) then both of you should be satisfied. If your counterparty fails to meet the terms of the agreement, then you have to act;

otherwise, all your previous work and preparation are put in jeopardy. This is one of the most difficult areas for people to take action on. The reason people fail to enforce agreements is that it requires that you engage in some sort of confrontation.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

38

Have you ever seen a class on confrontation in a college curriculum? classes. You probably are haven’t in unless the art you of took some law

Lawyers

trained

confrontation,

whereas everyone else is left to figure out how to do it (or hire a lawyer!) And while the thought of a confrontation may seem unpleasant, it really doesn’t have to be. You also need to remember that if you’re on this step then there is probably either some money or a service that you are owed and there’s no way you can make it in the business world if you’re getting robbed of money or services. From our youngest years on we are generally taught to be very nice and avoid confrontations with other people. This thought is so pervasive throughout society that we’re left feeling like

confrontations are a bad thing and should be avoided all the time. I remember one time sitting on an airplane watching two men argue over which seat number was the window or the aisle. A man had gotten on the plane first and taken the aisle seat. A few moments later another man got on the plane and said to the first man that he had a ticket for seat 7B, which was definitely the aisle seat. The first man looked him directly in the eye and insisted that 7B was the window seat. The man with the ticket for the aisle seat protested once and the man actually in the aisle seat rebuked him again. Without further protest the main with the
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 39

ticket for 7B took seat 7A without another word spoken about it. In this situation the man who took the window seat was obviously looking to avoid a confrontation while the first man was really looking for one. And while this certainly wasn’t a critical

situation it illustrates how some folks will try to impose their will on others even in the most unassuming situations. The key here is not to let others impose their will on you without you having some say in the matter. Your say will involve the action that you take to enforce your business agreement. You may be thinking that enforcing agreements only applies in situations where a person owns a company or is an employer of others. This is not the case. As an employee, you should be prepared to require your employer days, even to follow his written

agreements with you. These

smaller

companies have

employees sign some kind of standard agreement. If you sign the agreement and the employer violates the terms, then you are well within your rights to take action. After all, you are not an indentured servant and you should never act as if you are one. Stand up for yourself and you’ll get what you want, rather than getting what others think you should have. At this point you’re probably looking for guidelines on what your possible courses of action are in enforcing your agreement. The action that you should take will depend on the situation.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

40

In my wife’s photo business, she takes a one-third deposit for all work performed and if the client fails to show up on the day of the shoot, then the agreement states that she can keep that deposit. Now, she’d rather complete her services and get paid the full amount rather than have for time. a client who doesn’t show, but the her

financial from

penalty her

last-minute And

cancellations the other

protects person

wasting

besides,

fully

agreed to forfeit the money if they failed to show up for their appointment. I learned this lesson the hard way. In my years running a personal training business I had gotten burned a few times in the beginning by clients who made appointments, then failed to show up. After this occurred a couple of times I began enforcing a twenty-four hour notice rule on cancellations, with the penalty being the price of the session if the client failed to show up. As a young paperboy, I had a few deliveries that failed to pay me after the first week. My paper manager advised me to keep delivering and that they would probably come around with a

payment. Well after I had to pay back the cost of those papers for the second week in a row, I decided to take action. I

stopped delivering the paper to the homes that hadn’t paid.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

41

In both cases I took action to enforce agreements and as a result I was able to quickly reverse the situation. My unpaid newspaper deliveries tracked me down and paid their outstanding balance so they could get their papers delivered again. As a personal trainer, I had forgotten the lessons I learned as a paperboy, but once I had to pay all the bills on my own I made sure to remember to take action so that I’d have enough money to pay the bills. percent My personal training I clients had my almost one

hundred

attendance

after

instituted

twenty-four

hour cancellation policy. Now, always if have you the are really of averse to confronting the short others end of you an

option

accepting

agreement. Of course, that would mean that you’d be moving in the opposite direction of your goal to become a stronger

business person and achieve your dreams. You will also be a bit lighter in the wallet, as you’ll be getting paid less and/or paying more than once for services that are owed to you. All it takes is a few of these situations and whatever business that you’re in will not be a business too much longer. I’m going to assume that you have grasped the importance of enforcing agreements and that you are ready to take action. It’s important that you understand what actions you will take prior to having to take them.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

42

You should be asking yourself the following question prior to making a deal with anyone: How will I react if the other party fails to meet the terms of the deal? Your action depends on the situation. In some instances

direct legal action may be necessary. In other instances you may just need to communicate directly with the other party in order to resolve the issue. Sometimes people just forget to do something and need to be reminded. One great example of using communication to resolve a disagreement comes from my experiences buying and selling on the auction site eBay. As a rule, I always provide feedback for people who sell to me and require feedback from others who buy from me. Since I always provide good service, the higher number of quality feedback that I have, the easier it will be for me to buy or sell in the future. Whenever I sell something on eBay I will always request that the winning bidder leave feedback after the transaction is

completed, while explaining that I will leave feedback for them once they’ve posted mine. Even with this policy stated, some people will still not leave feedback. In my earlier dealings on eBay I always wanted feedback but never did anything about it, so my feedback rating stayed pretty low even though I’d sold quite a few items. I got tired of that situation, so I made sure to create the written policy and follow up all sales with an eCopyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 43

mail a few days later specifically to request feedback if it had not been left. Since I’ve started doing this all of the people buying from me have left feedback. These people probably would not have left feedback otherwise, but all they needed was a reminder. That’s a simple example of how direct communication can

resolve something lacking with an agreement. Other situations that involve dealing with larger businesses will be more

complex. If you’re an employee of a business, you may have few choices in forcing a business to meet its obligation to you. The one option you do have in that situation is to find another job. Sometimes telling your employer that you’re ready to go

elsewhere will get him to honor his agreements with you. You’ll definitely want to get your counselor involved in

deciding actions related to enforcing agreements. You should be able to run through your business situations with your counselor and come up with necessary action plans. Some of these plans may involve direct communication, some may involve legal action, and some may involve a little bit of both. The key here is that you need to know what action you will take if a deal goes wrong. Don’t obsess on the potential failure of a deal, but know that you’re protecting yourself by taking action. Following this advice will greatly increase your chances
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 44

for

success

by

saving

you

the

financial

loss

and

emotional

strain of broken agreements. This is the perfect time for another one of those ever-

important exercises. As I stated earlier, your willingness to enforce your agreements stems from your feelings about

confrontation. Because of that fact, this exercise focuses on confrontation. You’ll write down a series of questions,

contemplate them and then write down the answers. Here you go: How do I feel about confrontations in general? When was the last time I felt like I confronted someone? How did I feel about that confrontation? Does a confrontation mean violent action or are there other types of confrontation? How important is it to me that I stand up for myself? Have I ever suffered financial consequences from failing to confront someone? What are the details of a situation where I should have stood up for myself but didn’t? Why is it important to stand up for myself in business situations? Seeking counsel, getting your questions answered, agreeing in writing and then enforcing agreements are the cornerstones of a successful life in the new and alien world of business. But

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

45

while these actions form the cornerstones, there is a lot more to a successful life in the beehive, which is why you must read on.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

46

Lesson Two: Be Tough
“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight - it's the size of the fight in the dog.” - DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Back in the 1960s the Cuban Missile Crisis had many Americans fearing a nuclear war. In October 1962, American intelligence sources detected

Russian missile sites being constructed on the island of Cuba, just 90 miles from the United States. The presence of such

missiles constituted a dire threat to the security of the United States. In the days that followed, the United States and Russia were locked in an intense game of chicken. President John F. Kennedy ordered Russian a naval “quarantine,” to whereby bring the U.S. Navy blocked and both

ships

attempting to

additional Tension

missiles rose on

construction

materials

Cuban

ports.

sides of the conflict and many Americans feared that the country would go to war. After several days, Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev

rethought his position, turned his ships back for Russia and agreed to tear down the missile sites in Cuba. During that time President Kennedy had to make hard decisions that affected the future of the United States.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

As a leader,
47

President Kennedy needed to take action to show that the U.S. would not of tolerate giving such in a threat America to its national an security. threat,

Instead

when

faced

imminent

President Kennedy took action and stood tough. Now there’s no way of knowing how things would’ve gone

without the so-called “quarantine,” but in this case the end certainly justified the means. It’s a rare situation in business where the outcome of a situation can be life and death (unless you’re dealing with the Sopranos!) But where our livelihoods are involved, standing your ground is very important. President Kennedy’s actions were those of a leader protecting the interests of the U.S. population. As a business person, you must be ready to take tough stands in order to protect yourself and your partners. If you learned

Lesson One then you know how important it is to protect your interests. That’s why the second lesson you need to learn is this: In business you have to be tough. Many years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, I witnessed a few tough stands while working on construction sites in New York City. As a worker on a variety of jobs large and small I

witnessed businessmen in the construction industry fighting for their business. On one particular job a roofing contractor strongly objected to some waterproofing work that my crew was doing in a shower
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 48

room of a building. As we worked on the job, a guy busted into the room demanding that we stop because, as he said, “That’s roofers’ work!” We roofers were shut down for in several heated hours as the head our of the

union

engaged

negotiations

with

boss.

After a while they came out of closed doors and we were allowed to continue with our work. That situation left a lasting impression on me. I remember how passionate the roofers were about the fact that we might be doing work that could mean a paycheck for one of their fellow workers. And I remember how adamant we were about this work that was putting food on our tables as well. Both camps took a stand, with the roofers refusing to let us work and us refusing to leave the room so the roofers couldn’t take over. To both sides the business was worth it and we both had our legitimate reasons for standing pat. In the end the bosses worked it out, but not before they had a chance to air their grievances and come to a suitable compromise. These days you rarely read or hear about a management

philosophy that advocates being tough in a business environment. The “Zen” approach of going with the flow and avoiding conflict seems to be very popular in print. Don’t fool yourself into

thinking that the hallways of the shiny office buildings can’t

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

49

be as tough as that shower room in what was to be the New York Foundling Hospital. Whether you’re involved in a small business or a salaried worker in a large corporation, you must defend your standing in order to persevere and get ahead. After all, our quality of life depends on our business skills and unless you’ve got a great curveball or are lucky enough to be a movie star then you’re probably working for a living, which means all of this stuff is extremely important to your financial well-being. Right about now you’re probably thinking: What exactly does this guy mean when he says, be tough?

PRINCIPLES Know your beliefs and principles and stick by them. Not having defined principles is like a boat not having a rudder. The costs of not having (or not following) your principles can be great. Take the following example, for instance. One of your life principles might be to be honest in all situations. Now let’s say that you’re working in the marketing department of a large corporation. Your boss has a meeting with you and asks you to “pretty-up” the results of a marketing

survey of your company’s latest project because someone higher up on the food chain needs the product to appear successful.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

50

Your

boss

makes

it

clear

to

you

that

jobs

are

on

the

line

(including your job) if the numbers don’t come out right. BOOM! You’ve now got a personal dilemma, or maybe not. You’re being asked to compromise your beliefs and fudge the numbers or, in less diplomatic terms, you’re being asked to lie. Depending on your previous experience you may not be able to imagine such a scenario occurring in a reputable organization. All you have to do is look at the business news on a regular basis to see that this type of thing does happen, and quite often. Major corporate flameouts like Enron, Tyco and WorldCom have shown us that some folks in the corporate world work very hard to deceive their co-workers and the public in order to advance their financial position in society. Back to your dilemma. When asked to do this particular deed, you can hear it in your boss’ voice and see it on her face that refusing to fudge the numbers a bit would greatly upset her or, in less diplomatic terms, she’ll can you like tuna if you don’t help out. You’ve reached an important moment of decision in your career and in your life. On one hand, you can help advance your career in the short term, while on the other hand you might be taking an action that may hurt others and you might have to pay dearly for later.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

51

The real decision, of course, has nothing to do with your career and everything about whether or not you’re willing to stand by your principles. The obvious decision here is to stick by your principles and refuse to change the numbers, or so it seems. You see,

somewhere along the way you can lose sight of what’s real and situations like this can become like a gray area where small compromises are rationalized by saying things like, “It’s only a small change, so how could it hurt?”, or “We’ll balance things out correctly next quarter.” NO! Don’t listen to those voices, whether they’re coming from your boss or inside your own head. Once you start breaking your principles then you’re more likely to do it again and again. Each little compromise can propel you down a quite slippery

slope. Think about those executives who made what they thought were small fibs and were so happy when they got the bonus and

promotion. Now think about how they felt when their names showed up on TV connected to a corporate scandal. Financial penalties and plea bargains inevitably follow and all of a sudden those little fibs turned quite devastating. You’ve got to be tough and weather the storm in the present. Refuse to fudge the numbers and your boss will put all kinds of
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 52

pressure

on

you

like

threatening

to

fire

you,

withholding

a

bonus or passing you over for promotion. So be it. Sometimes being tough means weathering the storm in the present so that the future will hold brighter days. Never mortgage your future for a little satisfaction in the present. Get the picture? Stand by your principles!

COMPROMISE At times, being tough can be a paradox because while you need to be tough in business you also need to know when to compromise. Knowing when and how much to compromise is an art in itself. Once again, we find ourselves in an area where your counselor can help you. Since your counselor is more experienced than you are, he or she can help you find the right level of comfort with compromise in a given situation. My general guideline is that you should consider compromise in all areas except ones where your principles are compromised. You will find out that compromising your principles opens you up to a world where you never know where you stand. On the other hand, there are areas where you might want to give in a bit in order to get things done. In the Cuban Missile Crisis example that I began this lesson with and the subsequent example of the construction site, both

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

53

sides ended up compromising just a little bit in order to bring the situation to a satisfying conclusion. In each case, the satisfying conclusion was dictated by the situation. In the Cuban Missile Crisis it was very satisfying to have avoided all-out war while gaining the removal of the

missiles from Cuba. In the construction example, both sides were able to continue working on their respective jobs after only a short delay. After all, no one gains if both sides blow up at each other and

progress gets stopped all together. You may have to compromise with your business adversaries at some level. The compromises involved in the earlier examples were relatively

straightforward. In the Cuban Missile Crisis example, President Kennedy agreed to forego any further military action and lifted the

“quarantine” in exchange for Russia removing their missiles from Cuba. In that case the U.S. held fast on the basic principle that we will protect our mainland in the event of a threat. But there was a compromise in that we decided not to use force, but strong persuasion. The result was successful for us but the U.S. would have been well within its rights to defend itself more forcefully. In the construction example, our immediate livelihood was

threatened and we couldn’t ignore that, but at the same time our
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 54

boss was willing to be reasonable as long as the terms were discussed beforehand. In the end we were allowed to continue working on the shower room while the roofers were given a chance at some other work that we were scheduled for later on in the job. In both cases, both sides adjusted their desires in the short term in order to come to the compromise. You can’t always

convince the other side of a situation that a compromise is necessary, but you can keep an open mind to the possibility of meeting in the middle. The actual situations that you deal with will be different from my examples no matter what business you’re in. To make the decision whether to compromise or not a little simpler, just ask yourself this question: Does the following action violate one of my guiding principles? If the answer is yes, then you’ll want to stand your ground. If the answer is no, then a compromise is probably in order. As a tank platoon leader I dealt with situations that

tested my toughness and willingness to compromise on a regular basis. Many times soldiers would challenge my authority to see how far they could push the envelope and get aw ay with stuff. Most of the time, I stood my ground and refused to give an inch but there were a few situations where compromise was necessary.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

55

I can remember one incident in particular where I got word of a soldier who had stolen a part from one of our tanks on the morning of a big inspection, causing my company to be missing a crucial part while securing it for his company’s benefit. I was furious and ready to turn the guilty party in to the Military Police. To me, theft within the U.S. Army was inexcusable and should be punished harshly. I was ready to take action when a senior Sergeant in our tank company pulled me aside and suggested that we could use the information as a bargaining chip, thereby

gaining favors from the offending company and allowing internal discipline to take place by the other Company Commander. I was ready to bring down the whole house and report the theft to the Military Police but luckily I stopped for a second. The favors that we were being offered would more than make up for the lost tank part and the soldier agreed to apologize to the tank crew from whom he’d stolen the part from. So instead of ruining the career of a young private who didn’t know better and causing huge scandal, we came to a compromise that involved

acknowledgement of wrong doing and compensation for the wrongful actions. (And unknowingly, I practiced the tenet of engaging

counsel that I mentioned in Lesson One.) Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are two people who know that being tough and sticking to your guns can pay off big time. They sold
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 56

their script “Good Will Hunting” for $600,000 to a major film company. At the time, they were just struggling actors trying to get a break in the film business. The film company wanted to make the movie with two other actors in the starring roles. Ben and Matt had the right of first refusal on the roles and they would not let the movie go forward without being cast in the roles that they wrote for themselves. After all, their but film long-term actors, goal and the wasn’t script about was being a

screenwriters,

simply

vehicle to help them get film roles. In addition to that, the film company insisted that the movie be shot in Canada where production costs would be much cheaper. Once again, Ben and Matt stood tough and insisted that the movie be shot in the Boston area, where the script was

originally set. While they insisted on some things, they were willing to be flexible and compromise on adjusting some areas of the story. As a result of Ben and Matt’s tough attitude on their dealbreakers, the script went unproduced for a year and a half until Miramax agreed to purchase the script rights from the first film company. The rest is history. Miramax agreed to make the film with Ben and Matt in the starring roles and use genuine Bostonarea locations.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 57

“Good Will Hunting” went on to gross $138 million and win Ben and Matt Academy Awards for Best Screenwriting. Even more

important for Ben and Matt, though, was the fact that they were then seen as movie stars. In the six years since “Good Will

Hunting” they’ve both starred in multiple big-name projects and earned sizable sums of money. Ben and Matt stood by their

principles while compromising a bit and probably even exceeded their original dreams of Hollywood success. These are great examples, but how you learn how to be tough while compromising is entirely up to you. Your best chance is not to be afraid of putting yourself in a situation where

conflict may occur. Frankly, every agreement that you enter into has the

potential to end up in a conflict, just like all of your other relationships. When the time comes, you just need to think about how important a particular situation is to your business and life, then act accordingly. Right now what I need you to do is stop for a second, put down this book and take a few moments to do some soul searching. In the previous paragraphs I mentioned principles. The Merriam Webster dictionary provides the following definition of the word principle; a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption b (1) : a rule or code of conduct (2) : habitual devotion to right
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 58

principles <a man of principle> c : the laws or facts of nature underlying the working of an artificial device. So in this case we’re talking about your personal rules or code of conduct. Do you know what your guiding principles are? Don’t be ashamed if you don’t. I can’t ever remember anyone

sitting me down to really think about principles but you find that taking this step is as important as anything you can do when entering the workforce. Take some time with this, do some soul searching and even ask your counselor if you have to. It’s that important. Return to the book when you’ve got a list of at least five guiding

principles. The list will get larger as time goes on but for now you should have a baseline to start from that puts the earlier part of this lesson in focus. Here’s an example of the start of my list of principles: 1. Honesty – conduct myself in a manner that is truthful in all my business dealings. 2. Fairness – evaluate both sides of a situation before making a final decision. 3. Responsibility – take ownership of any mistakes or

missteps and admit when I’m wrong. Your list may have three principles or ten to start with. The length does not matter as much as the intent and feeling behind the principles on the list. You don’t have to complete the list
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 59

now,

but

I

do

expect

you

to

add

to

the

list

as

your

most

important principles become apparent. Hopefully, it didn’t take you too long to come up with some guiding principles because I don’t want you to lose the flow of the book. There are many important lessons ahead. Armed with the will to be tough when necessary and your

guiding principles, you’re ready to move on to the next facet of this lesson. Because even as you’ve vowed to be tough, stand by your principles and compromise, you still need to …

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

A

major

part

of

being

tough

involves

handling

those

nasty

situations that come up out of the blue and throw our best-laid plans into confusion. As young children most of us get into routines that are very comfortable and as a result we learn to loathe the unexpected. Higher education isn’t always the best place for us to learn to deal with change either. Classes are scheduled for certain times of day and as the student you show up to get your lesson. In the crazy world of business, the lessons and challenges come at you without any predetermined experience.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 60

schedule

and

this

can

often

be

a

harrowing

In my first full-time job as a loading dock manager, I was initially surprised and really frustrated when conveyer belts broke down and trucks came in late, causing confusion and

increasing my work hours. I hadn’t yet opened up to the idea that inconvenient and sometimes devastating events will occur. I needed to keep my cool to get through them instead of being angry and frustrated. My initial reactions to unexpected events involved a good amount of yelling and cursing before I pulled myself together and addressed the issue at hand. I’m not sure how much time I wasted being frustrated, but it was too much. The thing that you have to learn is that the unexpected will occur and that you need to let it bounce right off you while you keep moving forward. Being upset does nothing to change the new circumstance. On Aug. 14, 2003, a huge blackout occurred that left millions in the Northeastern United States without power. Within minutes millions of people in the city of New York took positive began of action to deal home with over items this unexpected and stores wouldn’t event. began lose

Commuters having

walking

bridges so

sales

perishable

they

everything to spoilage. New York is a tough city and one of the reasons it’s so tough is that New Yorkers deal with unexpected events as much as

anyone. I’m sure there were also plenty of people who were very
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 61

frustrated and angry that they couldn’t get home or couldn’t conduct business as normal, but that’s negative energy and it’s counterproductive. Unexpected events don’t always occur on such a grand scale. The event may be something that takes place at your company. Your company reports better-than-expected earnings and then also announces a round of layoffs and reorganization. And guess who’s part of the group being fired? That’s right, it’s you. Or how about this. Your job is moved from the United States to somewhere overseas and they’d like you to train your

replacement. It sounds crazy but this stuff happens to people and seemingly calm lives can be turned upside down overnight. You have to be ready to deal with the unexpected! Life in the military is all about change. As a soldier, you can be deployed all over the world if the need arises. My time in the Army taught me all I need to know about dealing with change. Accept it, evaluate the situation and move on. I’d like you spend time thinking about some unexpected things that could occur and imagine how you’d deal with them. You could lose your job, or a family member could become ill or maybe something great could happen like you’re offered a promotion or you find out a new baby is on the way. There are many types of unexpected changes and you need to be ready to deal with them in

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

62

a way that’s constructive and keeps you on track. This approach will help you to continue on to realizing your dreams. Grab a piece of paper and write out a few examples of

possible events. Then think about and write down how you’d deal with those the events. future The but exercise to merely isn’t get designed you into to the have mode you of

predict

thinking about dealing with change. Some of the events could be perceived as others you may perceive as negative. I’m positive, while sure you’ll be

surprised at the answers that you come up with and the feelings that are associated with those answers. Put this book down until you’re finished with the exercise and then come back and read on.

BE DECISIVE What will you have for dinner tonight? When will you leave for work tomorrow morning? How will you make a living after you get out of school? These are basic questions that everyone has to ask at some point in their life. We’ll all deal with these questions and many others. We deal with these questions by making decisions. Some decisions are

routine and made in seconds, and there are some that are tough and require lots of thought.

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63

Being able to make the tough decisions determines your level of toughness and furthermore will affect your level of success in the business world. There’s an old saying that goes like

this: “He who hesitates is lost.” You don’t want to be lost. The more ambitious you are, the more tough decisions you’ll have to make. After I got out of the military I had some very tough decisions to make. While working at a large technology consulting firm I felt underappreciated, underpaid and

dissatisfied with the work that I was doing. I had some serious decisions to make about my future. At that point there were simply two choices. One choice was to do

nothing and continue with the status quo. Another choice was to make a change and do something else. I had already learned the price of waiting around and not making a decision, so I knew what to do. I chose a different path and did so quickly. I didn’t want to regret every day that I went to work. There are so many other situations that will require

important decisions in your business life. Should you take a certain job? Should you ask for a raise? Should you buy from a certain vendor? There are tons of questions and just as many decisions. You need to master making these decisions in order to have a chance at finding your success. Many times people get paralyzed or ignore times of decision because of fear. People fear that the decisions they make will
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 64

be

bad

ones.

These

feelings

are

normal

but

you

have

to

understand something. A decision is very rarely bad on its own. The actions that you take after your making outcomes a decision will or

ultimately

determine

whether

are

positive

negative. I’ll give you a strong personal example from my life. At the point where I decided to leave my civilian life in California and join the Army, many people thought it was a bad decision. I was derailing a great adventure and a nice career that I was building in the fitness industry. It could have been a bad decision but I made sure to get as much out of my

experience in the Army as possible. I traded one set of possibilities for another. A few years later, after I had achieved my goals, I decided to go back to civilian life. Again, people reminded me of my accomplishments in the military and some thought it was a bad decision for me to leave. I was decisive again and reentered civilian life. I lost nothing in the process, as I was determined to use all that I had learned in the military. This landed me in the technology consulting job that I mentioned earlier. I used the same process in that decision that I did with all the rest. And while I was moving from decision to decision and sharpening my skills, other people I knew were staying in their same old situations and complaining about the ruts they were in.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

65

This process worked for me because I put in the effort and made my decisions turn out positive. You’ll need to do the same in order to be successful. Look around in your own life and examine the business people whom you admire. Chances are these people are not afraid to make tough decisions. That willingness to make the tough decisions is undoubtedly a major reason for their success. What are the tough decisions that you have to deal with in your life? Are you good at making decisions or do you have

problems making decisions? If you think you’re doing well, then could you do better? Do a quick exercise to find out about your decision-making skills. Write down the last three important business decisions that you made. When I say important, I mean to exclude those decisions that you have to make every day. To me, an important decision would be something that could change the course of your career. Think of the situations that you’ve been in. Even if you were in a situation where you

decided to stay with the status quo, it still qualifies as a decision. So write down three decisions and explain the situation.

Answer yourself the following questions for each situation: Why did I make the decision that I made?

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

66

Did I take too much (or not enough) time in making the decision? Did my actions after the decision make the outcome

positive for me? Do the preceding exercise in earnest and you’ll find out more about how your appetite for decision-making is affecting your career. I hope I’ve given you an idea about what it means to be tough and why it’s so important to have a certain amount of toughness in your career and personal lives. The only thing to do now is go out and practice what you’ve learned. It won’t be easy but if you give it a chance you’ll find the right mix of toughness and compromise to make things work for you. Sure, you’ll make some mistakes, but then that leads us to the next tenet of my

philosophy.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

67

Lesson Three: Make Mistakes Then Learn From Them

“Better

to

do

something

imperfectly

than

to

do

nothing

flawlessly.” - ROBERT SCHULLER

When I first graduated from college I was terrified that I would make a mistake. It really didn’t matter what the mistake was since it could be related to any choice that I made at that point in my young life. Sixteen years of graded education had taught me that a higher grade was better and that perfection was, well, perfect. I began to feel like aiming for an A and getting a C would never be acceptable. Hence, I decided not to take too many

chances and grabbed for the easy and safe B. After all, why stretch myself and take a risk at the age of 21? I also wanted to please my parents, who had a vested interest in seeing me go on to a “normal” career that provided me

security. This way I could go on to owning my own home and starting a family just like they had done. And so, for a short while I adopted my parents’ version of the American dream. Does this sound like a familiar story to you? The story

doesn’t necessarily get any better if you stay in school to pursue an advanced degree, either. The high cost of advanced
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 68

education can force a person into a very “safe” existence in order to preserve income to cover student loans and other

educational expenses. After all, people don’t feel good about taking risks when they’re $40,000 in debt and just starting out in the working world. Even if they are loaded down with debt, there are some folks who still have the will to make risky moves and take the chances that lead to being a successful folks are business among person few and but

achieving

their

dreams.

Those

the

courageous. It’s more likely that you are like I was right after college. I was having second thoughts about pointing my career in a lesscertain direction. It took me less than a year after I graduated from college to realize that the “safe” route wasn’t the one for me. I was

working as an operations manager for a shipping company with long overnight hours and low pay as my reward. Day by day I felt my life slipping by and I couldn’t see a very exciting future for myself. I was a bit depressed at my prospects and as a result I was drinking too much and gaining weight. It wasn’t a very productive time for me. This daily malaise finally reached its peak in the Christmas season of 1991. Something, and I’m still not sure what,

compelled me to make a change in my career. Maybe I just got
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 69

sick

of

coming

home

tired

and

not

feeling

excited

about

anything. Maybe I was watching a movie and saw something that made me realize my life wasn’t headed where I wanted it to go. That doesn’t matter, because all that’s important is that I was compelled to make a move. I began researching possible

careers with no idea where I would end up. I wanted a positive change in my life. I had gotten excited about physical fitness in recent months so I began a deeper investigation of the

possibilities in the fitness industry. Soon after I decided that I would start educating myself with a goal of becoming a personal fitness trainer. Let’s stop right here and ask a question. Have you ever been compelled to make a change in your life? Have you ever felt like it was time to I make would some bet new that moves the and open to up new those

possibilities?

answer

both

questions is yes. Reading this book may be one of the moves that you’re making. Here’s another important question: Do we always act when we feel strongly about making a change? The answer most of the time would be no. The reason people hesitate is because change equals risk and if you take a risk you just might make mistakes and be considered a failure. And no one wants to be considered a failure.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

70

MISTAKES ARE AN ESSENTIAL PART OF LIFE What is failure? I once heard that the only people who fail are the ones who fail to try something they are compelled to do. This thought is counter to the popular thinking that it’s better to avoid failure (or mistakes) than to welcome the chance to try something new. At the time I began making major changes in my life, many people considered my thoughts to be grounded in insanity. I came from a place where a steady job and certain income were highly valued things. There were no big dreamers, artists or superachievers in my family, or my world growing up, for that matter. There raising were simply people All who of were doing good their and duty noble and and

their

families.

this

was

there’s certainly no shame in that approach, but my gut was screaming for something different. I was compelled to act so I embraced the following philosophy: The only mistake in life is not following your heart. Have you ever had the same feeling? Have you ever had the feeling that you NEEDED to be doing something else or that you needed to go in a different direction? I believe that these are feelings that many people have but few express outwardly for fear of being rebuked or ridiculed. There’s just too much

negativity happening for people to take that chance.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

71

Negativity be damned; I felt something and needed to act on it. Once I decided that I wanted to be a fitness trainer, I began planning some new moves, researching possibilities in the fitness industry and teaching myself the principles of good

health and fitness. I made some changes. By taking chances and making the jump to a completely new industry I opened myself up to a world of new mistakes. I knew nothing about the world of fitness. I had no formal training in exercise science or physiology. This was a very scary time, but it was also the most exciting time of my life. I stopped listening to the naysayers and started taking action. Slowly I began to realize that I could make mistakes, learn from them and in turn increase my chances of success. And guess what, I was happier. You’ll be happier too when you forget the negative and take your best shot at whatever it is you want to do. Gone were the nightmarish memories of the college “Career Fairs” where professors encouraged students to interview for

jobs with major corporations. People want and deserve more than jobs. People want an

exciting life that fulfills their dreams, and college was the last place to cultivate thoughts about dreams. I began learning the valuable lesson that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and don’t keep repeating
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 72

them. In fact, I’d say that making mistakes is an essential part of maturing and finding out who you are in this life. I know there are a million indications that point toward avoiding

mistakes but those indications are dead wrong! I had plenty of chances to make mistakes during my first few months as a personal trainer. This new world exposed me to new people with different ideas and backgrounds than mine. Many

times I would say the wrong thing or lose training clients due to my lack of ability in the area of sales. Each time I made a mistake I would put the memory of what happened into my mental toolbox and be vigilant about referring to that memory when a similar situation would come up again. I found that unlike the exams that we all took in high school and college that there are re-tests with many chances to earn an A. Higher education simply fools us into thinking that you have one shot at every moment.

MISTAKES LEAD TO SUCCESS So where did I get the guts to start taking all these chances, you ask? The U.S. space program during the 1960s provided me with some valuable examples of how taking risks and learning from mistakes could pay off. The engineers and scientists working on the space

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

73

program endured very long hours for years and years while trying to perfect the first rocket that would go into space. All that I remembered from school were the stories about the successes of putting men into space and then on the moon. School failed to teach me all the small and major failures that

occurred in the process of getting to those milestones. After each crash and explosion the scientists would go back to the drawing board and try again, processing what they’d learned from their past failures until they finally created a new paradigm in the field of space exploration. In short, their mistakes led them to success. After learning some more about the space program I took a look at my own life and realized that I was avoiding challenges in the mistaken belief that success involved avoiding mistakes at all costs. The U.S. space program example teaches us that if we strive to avoid mistakes then we can’t discover new things. Without mistakes we can’t learn. I decided to look at things in a new light and celebrate my mistakes as steps toward my future goals. Do you avoid challenging situations just to make sure that you never take a misstep? If you do, then you must realize that instead of trying to reach your goals in business you’re really just expending a lot of effort trying to be perfect. You end up just spinning your wheels.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 74

That’s not what we want at all. We want to move forward and find our success. Remember this important point. Trying to be perfect will not move you onward and upward in the beehive.

MEASURE YOUR SWING As I slowly absorbed these facts about the space program I had less and less fear about putting myself in challenging

situations. I also learned that the whole process wasn’t just about making mistakes and learning from them. Another valuable lesson from the space program was this: You need to calculate your risks when going into a venture. I call this measuring your swing. After all, the space program scientists didn’t put a human into the first rockets that they were testing until they were certain that an unmanned rocket could be launched into space and recovered successfully. The first astronauts went through thousands of hours of

rigorous and realistic training prior to being selected for the manned space flight. So yes, there were great risks but at the same time the scientists were smart enough to try to identify the risks and deal with possible consequences before taking the next step. Sounds a bit scary, but the important part is that in spite of the risks they kept taking those steps forward.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

75

Making a big life change probably won’t require the same preparation as the astronauts required. A person committed to their dreams will understand that the willingness to risk

mistakes and learn from them along with the ability to measure their swing can take them to very high places and give them an edge that can’t be found at any school. Taking risks can

certainly lead to possibilities never thought of at the local career fair. I don’t expect you to be an expert at evaluating risks and dealing with mistakes. I’ll go through a simple example from my life and then give you the opportunity to work on a few examples of your own so you can ease into the whole thought process. Back when I was 18 I decided that I really wanted to learn to play the guitar. I always loved listening to music and was fascinated by people who had the ability to make great sounds from their guitars. Thinking like the 18-year-old that I was, I focused on the risk that the whole venture would be a failure. You’re probably wondering what risks are possibly taken by

trying to learn the guitar. First of all, a capital investment was required. I would need to purchase a guitar in order to play and that would cost a couple of hundred dollars. How could I afford to buy a new

guitar? How would I know which guitar was right for me?

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

76

Then

I

would

have

to

invest

in

lessons

with

a

teacher,

because I had no idea where to start or what to do. How would I find a teacher and once found how would I know the right one to choose? Next I would have to make time dedicated to learning and practicing the instrument. What if I didn’t have enough time to get good at it? What if, no matter how hard I tried, I never played well? My family and friends might be really disappointed in me. That seems like a lot of brainpower going into what should be a small decision. Frankly, it is a lot of brain power. The

thought process is focused on the obstacles to learning to play the guitar and many people do not get past that stage when

making decisions. After all, there are multiple opportunities to make mistakes and face potential ridicule for failing. The key here is that it’s okay to make such evaluations as long as we take it a step further and deal with these risks. How could I afford a new guitar? I investigated guitar prices and determined the minimum amount I would need to purchase a guitar. I was working and saved some money every week for a couple of months to afford a low-cost starter guitar.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

77

How would I know which guitar was right for me? I went to a couple of different guitar shops, talked with sales people and tried some different guitars in my price range. How would I find a teacher and once found how would I know the right one to choose? I looked in local music newspapers and inquired at guitar shops about teachers. I met with a couple of different teachers and tried out a couple of lessons with each to see if I was enjoying it. What if I didn’t have enough time to get good at it? I made time. I gave myself 30 minutes per day dedicated to practicing the guitar. What if, no matter how hard I tried, I never played well? I gained comfort from the thought that everyone had to start from scratch and if they could do it, then so could I. Isn’t it amazing how many different lines of thought can go into one seemingly simple decision? While these thoughts may

seem limiting at first they are only one step in the process of taking risks to better yourself. These risks lead to mistakes, but as I correct each mistake I get closer to success. If you break each risk down into individual parts and address them as such, you’ll see that they are easily dealt with. What I’d like you to do now is spend a little bit of time evaluating at least two situations where you feel mistakes can be made. Break down each situation into smaller parts using my
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 78

earlier example as a guide. Each of those smaller parts will be an issue or potential area for mistakes. Decide how you’ll

address each issue. Be creative; you may come up with multiple possibilities practice your for each point to of risk. The goal here is to you

ability

evaluate

situations

and

give

confidence in doing so. And by the way, I’ve been playing guitar for sixteen years now. I still have the first guitar I ever bought and play it almost every day. I’d say that the investment and risk

definitely paid off. BIG RISKS LEAD TO BIG REWARDS If we look at the world of business we can find many individuals who’ve taken big chances in order to reach their goals and be successful. Michael Dell started his computer company out of a dorm room on the University of Texas campus. As a fresh-faced student, Michael left school to focus on a company that would eventually become the No. 1 direct computer sales firm in the world. If that’s not a risk, I don’t know what is. Most parents would be mortified at the prospect of their child quitting school to start a company at such a young age. Ten years ago I didn’t know one person who had ever heard of Dell Computer and now just about every adult person recognizes
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 79

the name. Michael Dell understood the importance of vigorously going after his dream, learning from his mistakes as he went. After all, his goal in life wasn’t to merely have a college degree, but to create a life that would fulfill his dreams. Michael Dell took a big risk by quitting school in favor of a small computer business. He worked hard to make his risk pay off with huge rewards. Today, he’s the chairman of the most

successful computer company in the world. There are plenty of other business examples of risk-takers who’ve made mistakes in recent years. Earlier in the book I mentioned eBay and its innovative system for building trust. The innovative services introduced by eBay are only one

reason why it has been a very successful company in the Internet sector. While many of the company’s contemporaries have been

acquired or run out of money, eBay has continued to grow more profitable with each passing year, growing from profits of $7 million in 1998 to $250 million in 2002. This facilitator of free trade on the Internet didn’t become one of a handful of Internet blue chips by playing it safe, either. Over the past five years eBay has been constantly moving into new business areas and developing new offerings for its growing customer base. Some of those moves, like moving into the

Japanese marketplace and the development of a customer payment system, failed miserably and lost the company money.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 80

Other

moves,

like

the

purchase

of

PayPal,

yielded

high

dividends. So in order to find out what would work, eBay CEO Meg Whitman and her staff had to activate some ideas that seemed to have promise but failed. The key here was that the eBay team was able to recognize their failures, adjust their plans and try

other things that eventually worked. Today, many people consider eBay the most successful Internet company yet. I tend to agree. Learn from their approach and you will be rewarded. You may not be a CEO or even aspire to be a future CEO, but taking those chances, making mistakes and adjusting is so

critical to finding even the least of your dreams. What’s more important, though, is that you’ve grasped all the philosophies that I’ve put forth up to this point in the book. You’ll need to truly believe in what’s been presented in the first few chapters in order to move on and get the full benefit of what we’re trying to do here. So far we’ve talked about

concepts that you need to believe in, but as we move forward we’ll explore the actions that you’ll need to take in order to conquer your dreams.

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CHECKPOINT

You’ve done well to come this far and I want to make sure the message sticks. Take some time to reacquaint yourself with the first three lessons of this book. Go through all the exercises and re-examine your commitment to moving forward. Once you’ve reviewed the first three lessons, come back and start with the next lesson, where you’ll learn that people who are succeeding in the professional world worry less about risks and think more about how to sell their ideas.

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Lesson Four: Sell, Sell, Sell

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” - ZIG ZIGLAR

Back when I was in my early teens my friends and I used to ride the New York subway to Times Square in Manhattan. Once there, we immersed ourselves in this totally crazy world of bright lights, street hustlers, pinball parlors and adult-themed entertainment. Mostly we’d just walk around like little talk tourists in a

crazed, adult version of

Disneyland. We’d

about getting

fake identification which hopefully would convince people that we were eighteen years old. We’d eat pizza and just watch the street. One Times Square staple from back then that has since disappeared are the three-card monte dealers. Three-card monte is a game where a person flips three cards (two black and one red) around and when they’re done flipping a player tries to select the red card. Back then this game was THE street game in Times Square and it was also a big hustle. Unsuspecting tourists or kids from Long Island would plunk down forty dollars and try to pick the red card, with a hundred dollar payout if they were successful. Of course, most of the

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

83

time the tourists would lose and they’d have to fork over forty dollars to the dealer. The only winners weren’t really winners at all since they were working with the dealers to give the impression that the game could easily be won. Now this game was completely illegal, but the zeal with which the operators plied their trade was admirable. There they were taking this game that appeared to be a total con and convincing people that they should actually

plunk forty bucks down on a street corner, with no guarantee of a payout even if a real player won. The three-card monte operators knew something that all

successful business people know. You’ve got to sell whatever it is that your business or dream is. The three-card monte operators could have stood there on the street corner with cards waiting to be shuffled, but instead they put on a show which gathered crowds and then those crowds got sold on the idea of trying to make a buck by picking a card. Since three-card monte is not a legitimate business, I certainly wouldn’t recommend that kind of selling to anyone. Still, the concept ideas. is the same when you’re promoting your business or

IT’S ALL ABOUT SELLING

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

84

If you have a dream, idea or business on your mind then you have to be the first and foremost salesperson in order to make it happen. skills You your can do everything to forward else your right ideas but without be sales

efforts

will

severely

hampered. Here’s a very important question: How did we get to the point where so many business people, young and old, have forgotten the importance of being good at selling? Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to stay out past a certain hour and your Mom or Dad would object? Did you ever start countering their

objections with, “But Mom, all the other kids are staying out”? Or “Dad, please, if you let me stay out I’ll come in early tomorrow”? Between staying out late, going to the movies and staying up to watch TV shows, I must have had thousands of debates with my parents. Each one of those debates was a sales session. I was selling my idea on leisure activities and answering their

objections one by one. Most of the time the parent wins the debate but the times that you do win feel great. Somewhere along the way I lost that zest for selling and so do many other people. It’s probably because we get more

independent as we get older and have less to sell. Once we have jobs and cars and reach college age the last thing we want to do is have to convince people of what we should have or do. School
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 85

doesn’t help much either. Teaching young adults how to sell is not a priority in high school. I’ve never met a person who’s been taught anything about the importance of sales in high

school. You may get some exposure to sales in college, but then the focus is usually marketing, which isn’t nearly as important as the ability to sell. Artists have it even worse because most fine arts curriculums abandon sales altogether, leaving artists at the mercy of large corporations to sell their work. These corporations then give the artists pennies on the dollar. Compounding the lack of emphasis on the importance of sales in business (and life) is the fact that we come to view the sales profession as a sleazy group of old men going door to door trying to sell vacuum cleaners or useless life insurance. How about those folks who call you up in the middle of dinner or your favorite TV show trying to get you to buy a time share or a satellite TV system? Those unsolicited types of sales definitely give the profession a bad name because they are annoying people. Coming out of college, and even after that, I thought of sales as a dirty profession not worthy of my time. I wanted to be an executive and be in charge of things while leaving sales to the salespeople. Many people I’ve talked to feel the same way about sales, but they haven’t learned the simple fact that

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86

everyone is a salesperson to some extent and if you’re not then you probably need to be. It took me a little while in the business world to re-learn the importance of selling ability. I realized that my ability to sell would make the difference between working for someone else and being able to work for yourself. Like many people, I came to this conclusion the hard way. When I started my personal training business I had never been in a position where I really had to sell in order to make a living. So while I was focusing on learning to be a great

trainer I wasn’t making much money because I couldn’t sell to clients. I quickly learned that I would have to sell in order to survive in my new profession. Everywhere I went after working as a personal trainer I found that sales skills were essential. In the military I had to sell my troops on training strategies so that my tank platoon could be successful. As a technology consultant I had to sell clients on our services while selling my bosses on my abilities so I could move up in the organization. As a restaurant manager I had to sell potential patrons on the idea that they would enjoy my restaurant. My wife is an amazing photographer, but she never really had a steady business on her own until I talked to her about the importance of selling. By learning to focus a certain amount of her time on selling skills she’s been able to gain
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 87

more clients than ever. In all these situations, selling is a common key to success. This tenet of my philosophy even applies to folks who have more traditional jobs working for large businesses. In the last few years working for corporations as a consultant I’ve learned that you need to sell in order to meet your career objectives within a corporation. If you’ve got an idea that will benefit the company or would like to move into a different area of the business, then chances are you’re going to have to pitch that idea and overcome the objections of someone higher up the chain of management. Without the ability to sell you’re likely to languish in dead-end positions, with your best ideas never getting

implemented. I define dead-end positions as ones that fail to challenge you and fail to fulfill your everyday needs as a

professional. If you’ve ever been in one of these positions then you know what I’m talking about. It makes it hard to get up in the morning and even harder to imagine your dreams coming true. And this is why you have to sell! My personal examples about selling may seem simple because they are on a small scale. But when you start thinking about selling in situations where hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake, then things really get complicated.

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88

As a consultant to the energy industry I became involved in situations where that kind of money was at stake. It’s good to realize the importance of selling early, and with small amounts of money involved, so you’ll be ready to capitalize when the bigger challenges arise.

LEARNING TO SELL My first step toward becoming a salesperson was recognizing that I needed to be one. The second step was going out and getting some knowledge. I read books and listened to tapes talking about sales techniques and dealing with clients’ objections. I can

still hear Zig Ziglar’s voice from his sales tapes that I bought and listened to a hundred times. The next step was actually applying these methods and finding out what worked. During this process I made mistakes and

adjusted. There were plenty of frustrating moments but I was getting better by the day. By now I trust that you’ve bought in on the concept that you’ll need to sell to be successful. Otherwise, I haven’t been a very good salesperson! Next, you’ll need to know how you can begin to build your own sales skills. Unfortunately, there are very few lessons that can accurately depict the situation of really trying to sell to someone who

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89

needs to be convinced that your product or idea is worthwhile. In school, people discuss sales techniques and learn to analyze target markets. This preparation is nothing compared to dealing with a live person who has many objections to what you’re

offering. This is all good because there are many “real world” opportunities to hone your sales skills. Real world situations are the best training grounds for

salespeople. You probably have many opportunities to practice selling but you might not know it. As a young paper delivery boy I focused on delivering the papers on my route without ever thinking that I should be

stopping in on folks who didn’t get the paper to try to sell them on the idea of receiving it. In this way I could have built up my paper route and earned more money. I just wasn’t thinking of selling. As a military officer I learned that I had to sell ideas to my superiors in order to get approval for my plans. Many times I fell short of convincing my bosses but I learned from each attempt and honed my skills. There are other options available to help you improve your sales skills. When my wife started advertising her actor’s

headshot business I advised her on improving her sales skills. One powerful technique for building sales skills is to go

through mock sales scenarios. Mock sales scenarios involve role playing to simulate a sales situation. In my wife’s case we
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 90

practiced situations where people would call her to ask about photo services. I’ve also done similar exercises where I’ve sat alone and talked myself through an upcoming sales discussion. These mock sales scenarios allow you to identify weaknesses or areas where you may stumble in presenting your ideas. They also help you to build confidence in presenting a particular topic. If possible, do some sales exercises alone to build your confidence and then have other people work with you so that they can give you their impressions of your approach and demeanor. Between the mock scenarios and your work in real situations, your sales skill should improve and give you a better chance at success.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE SELLING Even with good sales skills there are still some very important aspects of selling that you will need to master. All the skills in the world won’t help you if you don’t know what you’re

selling. Imagine if you’ve got an idea that you want to pitch to your boss and at the last second before the pitch you were told that instead of talking about an idea to improve revenues in your department you would have to sell your boss on the idea of

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91

purchasing a new type of software that you know little about. You would probably have a very rough time making the case. It’s important to be as knowledgeable as you can be about your idea, product or service. People feel confident when you speak from a position of intelligence on a particular subject and they are more likely to see it your way. Besides just knowing a lot about what you’re speaking on, you’ll also need to know any issues that aren’t directly related to what you’re proposing but might affect the folks who agree to your idea. If you have a proposal to reduce revenue in your department you need to know how that proposal might affect other departments. If you’re trying to sell a product to someone you need to know if it will have an impact on any other products a person may already be using. As a personal trainer I had to keep in mind how a specific exercise plan would fit into a person’s lifestyle or personal preferences. You see, the more you’ve done your homework, the better equipped you will be to deal with the questions that you’ll be asked. Yes, people will ask questions. Some will ask very few

questions and others will ask a lot of them. Either way, you need to be able to answer the questions right away or at least get the answers in short order. Your ability to answer people’s

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92

questions will be a major factor in determining whether or not you’ll be successful at selling.

DEALING WITH OBJECTIONS Questions can be easy to deal with compared to objections. It’s highly likely that almost everyone you sell to will have some objections. Objections are the reasons why a person has doubts about buying what you’re selling. Objections don’t mean that you can’t sell to the person; they just mean that you need to

provide more information. The key to dealing with objections is being ready for them. So when you’re selling anything you need to think about the reasons why someone will reject what you’re offering. Once

you’ve done that, you need to think of rebuttals, or reasons why their objections should not stop the sale. If you’ve followed the last two tips by being knowledgeable and ready for

questions, then you should be able to handle this step provided you’ve thought out potential objections along with the proper rebuttals. There will be situations where you may hear a rebuttal that you hadn’t thought of before. In that case you’ll need to think

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93

on

your

feet

and

come

up

with

a

rebuttal

on

the

fly

while

remembering that objection for any future sales discussions. I recommend keeping a detailed log of objections that you can refer back to before each sales call or presentation. Having such a log allows you to be well-prepared for dealing with

objections in the sales process. CLOSING THE SALE The last (and most important part) of selling is closing the sale. To close the sale you simply need to ask for the sale. There are many different ways to close the sale. If you’re

pitching an idea, you might summarize your key points and state the chief reasons why you think the idea will be successful. If you’re selling a product you might say something like, “So how many of these would you like to order today?” Closing the sale can be tough because it involves getting a decision from someone in the moment. At the time you attempt to close the sale there may be additional objections and questions. The more experience you have in selling, the better you’ll be when it comes to closing sales. One word to the wise is not to try to close the sale too early in the process. Make sure you’ve provided a decent amount of information about your product, service or idea. The danger in trying to close too quickly is that the other person (or
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 94

people) might think you’re trying to get a quick sale without considering their needs. Keep in mind that smart business people will always ask questions and want solid information. Learning to close takes time and effort. You’ll make mistakes but you’ll learn from those mistakes. Whatever you do, don’t forget to ask for the sale.

DELIVERING Once you’ve closed Any sale the good is sale, you haven’t person finished knows that your the

responsibilities. closing begins. of the

business your

where

greatest

responsibility

Once you’ve sold you have to deliver on your promises. So if you’ve sold your boss on a new idea, then you’ve got to work to make that idea pan out. If you’ve sold someone on a product, then you need to deliver a product that does just what you said it would do. Failing to deliver will hurt you in the long run, as you might fool someone once but they will rarely allow you to fool them twice. While situations working where as a technology consultant big I saw for too many

companies

promised

things

projects

worth millions of dollars and then failed to deliver on those promises.

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95

As a business person

you should

always be

aware of your

ability to deliver on a promise, and if for some reason you can’t deliver, then you should be upfront about it. It never feels good to admit when you’re wrong but it’s better to swallow your pride than to cover it up. With this approach people will respect you and just may give you a second chance if you mess things up. I’d like you to do a practice exercise that you should repeat every so often to keep your sales skills sharp. Write down three sales situations that you either have found yourself in or are likely to find yourself in. The situation can involve a product or service you want to sell. The situation can also involve an idea that you want to sell. Write down a few things about the situation first by answering the following questions: What is it that I’m trying to sell? Who am I trying to sell to? What will the people I’m selling to get out of my product, service or idea? What are some objections that people might have to my proposal? Once you’ve answered those questions for each of the

situations, imagine yourself trying to sell to someone who knows nothing about what you’re selling. Tell the whole story and try to imagine what questions you’ll answer, how you’ll answer

objections and how you’ll try to close the sale. This type of

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96

creative visualization will boost your confidence for selling in real situations.

PERSISTENCE Even with the preparations that you’ll make for selling, you will still hear the word “no” from people. I’ve heard a lot of no’s for a variety of reasons and this leads me to an important point about sales, persistence: To be successful at selling you have to be persistent. You may hear a dozen no’s or even a hundred no’s before you hear the word “yes.” This will challenge your ability to deal with rejection. Most of us are horrible at being rejected in any situation and this is the reason why so many people avoid

selling their ideas. Remember, the word “no” doesn’t mean that your idea is garbage; it just means that someone else doesn’t have the same vision that you have. You must be persistent and power through. If you quit after just a few no’s then you’ll never know if you could have realized your dream. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon heard plenty of no’s when trying to sell their script for the film “Good Will Hunting” but they believed in their dream and kept adjusting and pressing on until they got a “yes.”

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97

You hear stories all the time about business ideas that got passed on by one company only to be picked up by another company and become successes. Sure, many ideas and initiatives fail to gain acceptance, but a good salesperson learns and moves on. There’s another key in sales that allows you to persist even in the face of mass rejection, belief.

BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU’RE SELLING You absolutely have to believe in your idea, dream, art (or whatever) to sell them effectively. As the part owner of a small restaurant I hustled more than any employee ever would. And I sold the restaurant to anyone I though might want a good meal, which was everyone, in my opinion. Belief and passion gave me the ability to keep going and try new things even after my

restaurant was empty for three nights in a row. Ask yourself this question: What do I believe in? You will always be good at selling something that you truly believe in. Think of the difference in your energy when you’re speaking about something that barely interests you. Then think about your demeanor when you’re talking about something you

really believe in. It’s amazing to see someone’s face change when the topic changes to a subject that really interests them. Their eyes light up, they start to talk a bit faster and get

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98

really excited. Their body language tells people that they’re behind the topic one hundred percent and as a result everyone around them is uplifted. That’s what you need in order to sell. Anything less is just faking it and everyone will know it. Take this moment and start writing down some things that you strongly believe in. Include topics or hobbies that you really love and enjoy. Imagine how you would sell each one as an idea to a total stranger. I bet that you’ll have no problem getting your energy up for this task. Successful people learn to sell, persist, believe and make things happen. The harder you work at it, the more positive changes will happen faster. A young man named Myles Kovacs is a shining example of a business person who understands the value of sales. In the past three years Myles has turned his passion for custom cars into a multi-million dollar a year business that has gained nationwide attention. He started a custom car lifestyle magazine called Dub on a shoestring investment of ten thousand dollars and has used his magazine as a vehicle for selling car customization products and services. He turned his passion into a successful business that he loves. He’s to also selling that to his and making deals with to major and

corporations

insure

dreams

continue

grow

thrive. Myles has done all of this without a college education.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 99

Myles is living his dream and his ability to sell with passion is making that dream happen. Your goals may be more modest or they may be even more grand than Myles’ goals, but you’ve got to sell to make it happen. Even with great sales experience all of us have come to

understand that just about anything can happen even if you’re educated and strictly following the lead of this book. Bad days, weeks and even months will pop up when you just can’t seem to do anything right. Our business and personal lives can be fraught with pitfalls. That’s why I need you to read on and find out why it’s so important to have heart.

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100

Lesson Five: You Gotta Have Heart

“Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” - H ROSS PEROT

As a kid growing up in the 1980s, I used to watch the New York Jets play football on TV every Sunday during the season. The Jets lost a lot more than they won, but no matter what the score of the game I would always stay tuned for the two-minute warning at the end of the fourth quarter. At the two-minute warning the TV station would play a segment called Fantastic Finishes. The segment was sponsored by a large corporation and featured video clips of teams making amazing

last-minute comebacks to win games. The clips were fun to watch but they were also very inspirational. You got the feeling that amazing things were possible if you gave it your best shot in the face of likely defeat. One thing I’ve found to be true is that just like those fantastic finishes, you too need to give it your best shot even when the odds are against you. Many people call this having “heart.” Whatever you call it, it’s essential for success in the world of business.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 101

DEALING WITH ADVERSITY Remember these words: You will be judged in life not by your actions during times of success, but rather you’ll be judged by your actions during a time of adversity. It’s easy to feel good and face the world when things are going great. When things start to turn for the worse, that’s when you’ll truly be tested. Inevitably, most new ventures or ideas traverse rough ground at the start and then get better over time. Some situations have longer cycles of failure and success then others. Some ideas become successful and then

suddenly have a major setback and you’ve got to start all over again. In your quest for something greater in life you’ll be in a few adverse situations due to a personal or professional event. And let me emphasize that everything I’ve covered up to now is important, but without heart none of it will mean anything.

Tough times will arise and you’ve got to be prepared to stand and meet them or be relegated to obscurity. Your react to adversity will ultimately define your ability to

existence and

determine whether or not you will reach your dreams. I wish that my university had a class called Adversity 101, where we would go through a variety of very difficult scenarios

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102

to help deal with future problems. It probably wouldn’t have been very realistic but it would have been something. Just once I would’ve loved to have heard a professor say to me, “The odds are against you and you’ll need guts and strength to make a difference in this world.” At this moment, I want you to ask yourself a very important question. How do I handle adversity? The answer to this question will lead you to a very interesting place. This place will

identify how you’ll react when your business, idea or ambition hits the rocky ground that I spoke of earlier. Do you sulk and wallow in your problems? Do you gain resolve and take action to improve your situation? Do you do a combination of these things? You don’t have to write anything down yet but I’d like you to take 30 seconds to think about this question before reading my example of how not to react during adverse times. One tale of adversity that begs to be explored is that of the once-great Enron Corporation. Enron originally existed as a

pipeline company that changed its name and acquired a myriad of other interests in highly speculative industries such as energy and data bandwidth trading. The leaders of Enron were ambitious and determined to build a large, powerful and financially formidable corporation. decade Enron enjoyed steady and profitable growth For a while

promoting a culture of backstabbing and greediness amongst its
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 103

employees. Life inside Enron could be defined as a survival-ofthe-fittest culture. Weakness was not tolerated and high

performance was rewarded. Even as this dog-eat-dog culture was being criticized, Enron’s stock price was high and this made many people very happy, especially the thousands of people whose pensions were fully invested in Enron stock. In the fall of 2001, Enron fell apart like a house of cards. It slowly came to light that revenues and profits had been

inflated for years through a variety of complicated schemes that were completely illegal. As Enron’s stock price fell, the company leadership prevented employees from converting (selling) their Enron stock in the

pension plan. By the end of November 2001 Enron stock tanked to less than a dollar a share from over $70 a year earlier. The company declared bankruptcy, which effectively made its stock worthless. As a result, thousands of people lost hundreds of millions of dollars in life savings. All the while, the architects of these sophisticated

schemes, including the CEO and CFO of the company, insisted that they were innocent and vowed to fight any government charges of fraud even with an them. The executive ever-growing boatload team of Enron made of evidence against themselves poster

children of how not to deal with adversity.

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104

In their zeal to build a powerful corporation, the Enron leadership team created a monster. The goals were so lofty that any setback would seem like a major disappointment to

shareholders and the business world. Afraid to deal with these setbacks head-on, key leaders devised schemes to cover up losses while maintaining the veneer of a corporation continually on the rise. These activities constituted one big lie. Even worse, as things were collapsing around them, Enron’s leaders took actions to make the situation worse for employees and shareholders by preventing sales of stock. The leadership of Enron showed their mettle in the face of being caught red-handed. And their mettle did not include an ounce of heart. Enron’s leaders faced moments of adversity when they realized they could not grow the company by honest means and then later when they were caught lying to the business

world. Faced with making hard decisions, they were dishonest, which in this case lead to a very hard fall.

HONESTY You cannot succeed in business or in life if you don’t have the heart to move forward, and do it honestly, when you’re faced with tough times. You have to be honest with yourself and you have to be honest with the people around you.

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105

Being

honest

with

yourself

means

that

you

have

to

acknowledge your problem, whatever it may be. In the case of Enron, one of its early problems was the fact that the company could not continue to meet its lofty goals. Instead of

acknowledging this fact, the leaders chose to lie. The leaders of Enron decided to fool themselves by denying the obvious. In that case, the obvious move would be to change plans and readjust expectations of growth. The business world is a hard one and although there would have been criticism and doubt for the new plans, in the long run the company would have probably been saved. Enron’s leaders didn’t have the heart to make the changes and handle the criticism; thus, everyone suffered. Being honest with others is essential as well. The two really go hand-in-hand because people who can’t be honest with

themselves will rarely be honest with other people. These folks will continue to perpetuate a cycle of half-truths and outright lies in order to cover up their indiscretions. The leaders of Enron excelled in covering up to the business world and their own employees. they They created companies that looked to help legitimate Enron be

while

were

really

just

instruments

dishonest. Had these folks been honest, there may have been more than a few employees with the heart to step up and pitch in with practical ideas on how to keep the company moving toward its

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106

goals.

Instead,

the

executive

leadership

led

thousands

of

employees down the road to disaster. Being honest takes real heart because it can often mean that you’ll have to expose your missteps. Somehow, we’ve all been conditioned to be afraid to acknowledge our mistakes. If we live with this fear then we’re building our own walls between us and our dreams. are a You part already of life. learned Have in Lesson to Three admit that your

mistakes

the

heart

mistakes honestly and you’ll stay on the path to your dreams.

FRAME OF REFERENCE

My first real test of dealing with adversity in the business world came only a few months after graduation from college. I was miserable with my position as an operations manager for a shipping company. The hours were long and the job was more about survival than growth into a career. One day I decided to confide in one of my bosses that I was about to quit due to the heavy workload and stress of the job. My boss, a guy named Doug Hartman, was a good person and I felt like he would respect my feelings. I laid out my feelings while he listened intently. When I was finished he said these words, “Do what you feel is right for you because this life is your own. But do yourself a favor and think for a second about how
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 107

you’re going out. The job has you beat and you’re walking away. That’s a bad way to go. Why not give it a little bit more time and try to turn things around? Then you can go out knowing that you don’t have to walk if something gets tough.” Maybe Doug was being a good salesperson and selling me on the idea to stay in my job, or maybe he just cared enough to give it to me straight. Either way, I took Doug’s words to heart and I devoted myself to leaving for a new career on my own terms. I spent the next three months around and do a better job. It was a working to turn things tough time and I was

challenged in every way but I walked out to begin my next career feeling like I could handle any tough times ahead. Without that speech from Doug Hartman and my acceptance of it, I would have had none of the success that I’ve had to this day. That first experience of standing up for myself and walking out feeling good about things turned out to be the cornerstone of dealing with adversity in my life. As the next adverse

situations arose in business, I looked back to my time as an operations manager and gained resolve that I could deal with things and continue to be successful. Each adverse situation was stamped in my memory and created what some people call a frame of reference. A frame of reference is information in your brain that you can mentally refer to when dealing with adverse situations. I
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 108

learned

more

about

frames

of

reference

during

my

extensive

military training. In the Army I endured some of the toughest physical and mental training that you can imagine while

preparing for real-life missions. Often I would be taxed to my physical and mental limits, going for extended periods without sleep while being extremely active physically. There’s no way to truly create a fully

realistic combat situation in a training environment but you can condition someone to go back to a frame of reference to assist them when the time comes. Someone who’s done something once will always be more

confident when they find themselves in a similar situation at a later time. And so it is in the world of business that the more times you hurdle problems, the more heart you will have for dealing with them in the future.

WALKING THE HARD ROAD Remember, you can be humbled in this life and more than likely you will face a few tough situations as you make your way. You have to stay in the game and deal with it. One specific example of dealing with adversity while I was in the military was when I joined the U.S. Army as an infantryman.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

109

As

a

newly

enlisted

combat

soldier

in

the

Army

I

faced

challenges that I would never have seen otherwise. The mental and physical stress that a person is put under in basic training can’t be replicated by anything in civilian life. Me and the fifty-three other recruits in my platoon slept little and worked to exhaustion as the Drill Sergeants controlled our every move throughout the day and night. While many saw no point to this exercise, I could make a direct correlation to making it through basic training and succeeding in the civilian world. After a few days there were some people who wanted nothing more than to get out of there. But where would these people go? They weren’t thinking ahead and they certainly weren’t looking to their left and right to see the others persevering with them. They had lost the heart needed to go further and would never know how far they could have gone. You see, in business and in life quitting is a disease. Taking the easiest way out is a form of quitting. Losing heart and quitting do not challenge you to go one step further in your existence. In the weeks to follow I would find my own theories tested numerous times, but they couldn’t have been tested any more than on the final road march of basic training. The infantryman must complete a fifteen mile march in full battle gear with a weapon. As we started to walk very early in the morning the rain began to pour down. Everyone was soaking wet. After the rain stopped
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 110

the sun came out and it became very hot. By the halfway point I was drying out but my feet and back were beginning to ache. By the ten-mile point I was hurting pretty bad. We would stop every few miles but I was now unable to remove my boots since I feared that my feet would swell and I wouldn’t be able to get the boots back on. A truck drove up and down the line to pick up soldiers who “fell out” of the march. I wanted to stop really bad, but stopping meant quitting and quitting meant going through this all over again. I thought back to Doug’s speech. I made it back then, so why couldn’t I make it now? There was one person on the truck but I would never go on that truck. I was taking the hard road, but often the hard road can deliver the greater rewards. I finished the march even

though I was in tremendous pain. I couldn’t walk straight for three days afterward but I felt like a million dollars. I felt like I could do anything and that’s the way you need to feel to be successful. Have you ever had a moment in your life where you wanted to “get on the truck” and quit during a challenge? I’d be willing to bet that the answer is yes. We’ve all had moments like that. Had everything in my life come easy I probably wouldn’t have learned those early lessons. I did learn those early lessons and you shouldn’t be afraid to learn them too. The going will get
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 111

tough

in

life

and

you

will

need

to

have

the

heart

to

move

forward in response. Once again, there’s a direct correlation between your

willingness to take the hard road and your success in business. The executives at Enron took the road that afforded them the easiest path, in their eyes. They tried to take a shortcut to success. They failed because there are no real shortcuts. You have to put in the time and the sweat like I did on that road march. The time and the sweat will pay off if you stay the course, even if things get tough. There is probably no greater testament to the power of heart to overcome adversity on the tough road than the action in the hours after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. The city of New York was gripped in fear with thousands dead and massive damage downtown. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani marshaled forces from all walks of life to begin a rescue and recovery effort unheard of in the modern era. Thousands of ordinary people took on the unthinkable task of clearing away the World Trade Center wreckage alongside

coordinated efforts with the Police and Fire Departments, Red Cross and dozens of other agencies. All the while, order was kept in the city even though most police were assigned to the area near Ground Zero.

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112

Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his inner circle had the heart to make tough decisions at the city’s darkest hours. As a result, millions of people knew that all was not lost and immediately began a very difficult rebuilding process. The mayor’s actions on that day did not go unnoticed. Leaders of business recognized that someone with so much courage and heart has the potential to make things happen in ways never thought possible. Mayor Giuliani’s skills shouldn’t have been a mystery. Over the past eight years he had helped to transform New York from a down-and-out metropolis into one of the world’s great cities. Through his firm, Giuliani Partners, the Mayor now provides crisis services speaking management, to cities for emergency and preparedness around few and the leadership world. his When

corporations Giuliani,

praise

Mayor

cite

advanced

education but rather his experience running the city and ability to handle even the toughest tasks as his strongest traits.

SEEING THE RAINBOW’S END Henry Ford once said, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” The rewards that you get from having the heart to face adversity can be elusive.

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113

Many times you probably won’t be able to see the end in sight when you’re working through a difficult idea or tough times in your career. One thing that keeps me and many other successful people going is vision. Having vision allows you to feel and experience your outcome while still in the midst of your journey. I liken it to believing in the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Although the pot of gold is only a legend, your goals in dealing with

business can be achieved if you allow yourself to focus on the outcome as a motivator through hard times. Focusing on the outcome that you can’t see requires great effort. Earlier in this chapter, I mentioned some of the

hardships I endured during some of the most relevant

military service. memories of

Those times are when it was

times

difficult to see the end of the rainbow. My first military test was a fourteen-week infantry basic training course at Fort Benning, Ga. Instantly, my life changed from being a civilian with all the say over my time to being a soldier in training with every moment decided by Drill

Sergeants. The first few days of this training were some of the toughest times at that point in my life. There were a number of young recruits who decided to quit training and return home. On one of those days early in the training, the Drill Sergeants
114

sat

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

everyone down to talk about the people who wanted to go home. One of the Sergeants urged everyone to remember why they came and what their goals were. I took this message to heart, as I was having my own doubts about the whole situation. I thought about my original goals in joining the military. I wanted to accomplish something in my life, learn about leadership and

serve my country. To quit at the very beginning would always leave me wondering if I could have achieved those goals. These goals were my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. A couple of years later I had the same feelings during my fourteen-week stint in Officer’s Candidate School (OCS). Once again, I thought about my original goals in wanting to become an officer and those thoughts helped me to get through OCS and earn my commission. To this day I’m not sad that I stuck around to accomplish provided my goals with in the military, knowledge as and the a journey itself of

me

valuable

strong

frame

reference for what hard times are about. What I learned during my first few weeks in the military and continued to learn throughout my military career and afterward can work for you. If you allow yourself to visualize your

outcomes, you have a much greater chance of success. The key to being able to visualize your outcomes involves remembering why you undertook a particular venture in the first place. You will have days when you will be working hard and
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 115

working late into the night. At those times your morale may get low. You may think about giving up. It’s during those moments that you need to stop and think about the overall goal and also think of the alternatives if you abandon your efforts. Great

champions and successful business people are all able to harness their vision. It is essential that you do the same. Take a moment to perform an exercise that involves

visualizing your goals. Think of a goal in your life right now that you’d like to achieve but haven’t been able to complete as of yet. It’s preferable to think of a goal that’s been difficult to achieve. Write down some of the things you’ve been feeling while you attempt to reach your goal. Ponder these thoughts for a few moments and then write down all the reasons why you initially set out to achieve your goal. Take a few more moments to ponder these reasons and then ask yourself if it’s still worth it to keep trying. I think you’ll find that the answer almost all of the time is yes.

THE SCHOOL OF HEART So how do we learn about heart? There’s no school out there that can teach it. Even this book can’t give you a true idea of the emotional strength that it takes to get through tough times. Heart is an intangible trait that can’t be measured. Thus, it

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

116

does not fit into the A, B, and C grade structure of higher education. Heart doesn’t find its way onto the evaluation forms you’ll encounter while working at a big corporation. And while this fact may seem frustrating, it gives hope to people who never fit into the system in the first place. And since this is an intangible trait there’s no simple way to go out and “get” it. I do believe that you can develop heart like one develops any discipline. Being willing to face challenges is the first step to building this inner strength. You simply need to want

something bad enough and then go after it. Test yourself. When I was lifting boxes on a freezing loading dock in the middle of a winter night I was learning about heart and I didn’t even know it. I wanted something (money for school) bad enough and I saw the goal (a fulfilling, financially independent

future) clear enough to keep moving forward. The same goes for when I was marching those 15 miles in the rain and heat. Each time I took on a serious challenge in my life I learned something about myself and what I was made of on the inside. Each time I completed a challenge I felt stronger and surer of myself than the last time. I’ve slowly built on my heart by taking on challenges and using them as a frame of

reference for future challenges. You will benefit by doing the same.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 117

Ask yourself this important question: Are you the kind of person who takes on challenges or avoids them? Avoiding

challenges is usually called the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance may get you further ahead in the short term, but it won’t help in building heart. Somewhere along the line you will run into an obstacle that you must go through. When that time comes you need to be ready for it. Take some time to ponder this issue. Do you look for the path of least resistance or do you face challenges? Be honest with yourself and decide how you will conduct yourself from this day forward. Your decision to face challenges will have an

enormously positive effect on your life. I understand that you may still have doubts about your

ability to persevere through very tough times and be successful. I’d like you to take some time to think of situations where you faced a hardship. Write the situation down and then consider your reaction. Write down your reaction as well. You should have a handful of these situations on the page. Look closely at them and try to determine if there’s anything that you would have done differently. If you did persevere through a tough time, then remind

yourself what it took to get through. Remember the motivations that you’ve had to come through adversity. Those same

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118

motivations will serve you well in the future. When you’re done with this exercise, come back to the book and read on. Hopefully you’ve got a much better idea of what “heart” means to you now. Remember that tests of your heart in this life won’t happen just once, ten times or even a hundred times. There may be hundreds of situations in your lifetime where you’ll need to exhibit that inner strength and courage which guides you to a greater goal. Don’t fret because you can do it. In order to have the ability to sustain through tough times it helps to focus on the next tenet of my philosophy…

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119

Lesson Six: Leverage the Power of a Team

“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” - VINCE LOMBARDI

Remember those three-card monte dealers that I talked about in Lesson Four? Every time I went back to Times Square I would see them running the same con in the same spot. After all those years I figured that they must have been successful since the average small business startup in New York City lasts for less than a year. Their secret to staying in operation for so long was this: Teamwork. The three-card monte crews used teamwork to leverage their efforts tourists and who outsmart lost the police money. as You well see, as in the unsuspecting to the

their

addition

dealer and the patsy who would play as a show for the crowd, there were always at least one or more lookouts who kept a

watchful eye for the police. If an officer was approaching the game then the lookout would make a signal and the dealer would scrap the game immediately and walk away. As crazy as it may sound, their consistent

teamwork allowed them to keep operating and generating income over a long period of time.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 120

The dealer himself could not run the game since without the patsy it would be harder to generate interest in playing their game. Even the dealer and the patsy could not do it alone

because if they got caught in the act of the game they’d be arrested and that would definitely cut into their profits. So the three-man team worked. At least, it worked until Mayor Giuliani decided to have the police force use some smart teamwork of their own to rid the streets of these hustlers. In a city like New York there’s

always a bigger fish that can come along and swallow you up. The three-card monte example may not seem like a practical one, but it underscores the following fact: No matter what

you’re doing, you’ll need to build a solid team in order to succeed. David Ogilvy, who turned $6,000 into an advertising empire, once said, “Surround yourself with partners who are better than you are.” Many other successful business people follow that

sentiment and focus on support team. I first learned

surrounding themselves

with a quality

about

the

true

value

of

teamwork

while

dealing with dozens of complicated situations as an officer in the Army. I was a platoon leader in a tank company, involved in operations where groups of soldiers from five to 200 worked

together to complete a mission or solve a problem.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 121

One of the most important tasks we performed on a daily basis was maintenance on our tanks. As a platoon leader, I was one of the least-experienced people in my platoon in the area of tank maintenance. At the same time I was ultimately responsible for the mechanical health of the vehicles in my platoon. I simply could not succeed in this situation without leveraging the power of a team. I knew that the Sergeants in my platoon were very

knowledgeable about the mechanics of the tanks so I put them in charge of day-to-day maintenance of the vehicles. While the Sergeants handled the day-to-day items that they were skilled at, I focused on planning for our maintenance needs and determining the items that our platoon would focus on in each maintenance session. All the while, I continued to build my proficiency in tank maintenance by watching and listening. This approach resulted in a higher quality of operation for our tanks, which meant we were ready to handle our core mission. I watched as some other people tried to take on too much responsibility. imagine, Their results were were not as good, with as you can By

because

they

overwhelmed

details.

utilizing teamwork as a necessity, I realized that using the knowledge and motivation of people around me was the way to go.

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122

I kept these experiences in mind when I was running a large New York City restaurant. There’s a lot more going on in a

restaurant than what is seen by the customer. When I started running the restaurant I learned fast that the restaurant

business required the leverage of a great team in order to have a chance in hell of surviving. I immediately knew that my areas of strength were around leadership, logistics and customer service. Obviously, the food had to be great, so the first thing I did was evaluate my chef and his kitchen staff. Lucky for me, the chef was first-rate and I could trust him to run the kitchen. Then I evaluated my servers who, thankfully, were very

reliable and friendly with customers. Next, I looked at the bar staff and realized that they were very weak and that we needed a newer and more motivated bar team. I also identified weaknesses with our after-hours cleaning crew and started work on finding a new group for that effort. I leveraged personnel. I left the setting of the tables and the choice of décor to my head waiter, who had a lot more style then I did. By focusing on my strengths and weaknesses, evaluating each area of need and adding (or replacing) the necessary team members, I was able to
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 123

my

abilities

as

a

good

evaluator

who

can

manage

create a business environment where the restaurant had a strong chance of success. Take a few moments to assess the level of teamwork that you utilize in your business life. Ask yourself a few pointed

questions. Am I using a quality team to insure that I get the best results? Do I try to do everything myself? Am I overwhelmed by the tasks I need to perform on a regular basis? Does quality suffer because of my lack of experience in certain areas of skill? Write these questions and the accompanying answers on a piece of paper. Take a few moments to ponder the answers, then read on.

LIGHTEN THE LOAD While utilizing teamwork seems like such an obvious practice, I keep meeting many people who get focused on trying to do

everything themselves. I’ve been one of those people. I got used to doing everything I could in all my jobs as a teenager since teamwork was rarely needed or stressed by my

employers. Later on, as an operations manager for a shipping company, I tried to do the same thing and it drove me crazy. I spent hours on tasks that would have taken me a fraction of the time if I’d been smart enough to use some of the folks that I had working for me. Utilizing a team makes sense because it

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124

lightens your load and gives you that much more chance at being successful. People who are running small businesses often try to carry the complete load themselves. Imagine yourself running a

business and dealing with sales, marketing, accounting, customer service, clerking, etc. The simple fact is that it’s just not possible to do all these things by yourself and still run a business effectively. Maybe that’s why many small businesses fail within the first year of operation. There are so many intricacies involved in business that if you try to do everything yourself, then some really important things will fall by the wayside. One reason that many entrepreneurs try to do it all involves money. It’s hard to enlist a lot of help when the budget is tight and you need to make your dollars go far. You have to be creative financially and really know the areas where getting

assistance brings you the most bang for your buck. When I first started to assist my wife with her photo

business, I explained the facts to her so she would understand and fully respect the enormity of the task of starting your own venture. I wanted her to imagine having to do all the important things a business owner needs to master while still having to do the photo work as well.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

125

After taking a close look at the situation, we decided that she should account for her own money but hire an accountant to insure that she was in compliance with the tax laws and

regulations. We also decided that we’d consult a lawyer to make sure that there were no potential legal problems with her

contracts for photo services. And I agreed to be her webmaster and deal with marketing on the Internet. Whenever she has a big photo job, we hire an assistant to make sure that she can focus on the photography and the

assistant can focus on the less technical aspects of the photo shoot. What we’ve done is put together a small but highly effective team that allows my wife to manage a quality small business. Without the assistance of a team she would have a great deal of difficulty fulfilling all the needs of her business while still producing quality products and services. Running the business is still difficult but it’s manageable and very, very rewarding for her. Looking around New York City, it’s easy to find other

examples of people utilizing teamwork to thrive. You can’t walk down a major of thoroughfare vendors in Manhattan without noticing coffee the and

dozens

street

selling

everything

from

donuts to hot food cooked to order. These savvy entrepreneurs make a good living working from their food carts but
126

they

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

certainly don’t do it alone. They

have suppliers for all of

their food items and dry goods. They have storage spaces nearby where they place their carts overnight and they have repair

shops where they take the carts for service. All of this allows them to focus on the tasks of preparing and selling food. Leveraging a team isn’t only important at the small entrepreneur level, though. My example from the previous lesson about Mayor Giuliani’s team illustrates how powerful effective use of a team can be in larger organizations. Mayor Giuliani was able to leverage the experience of the commissioners of the police and fire departments when figuring out how to make the city a safer place. He would consult with the heads of the Parks Department and Department of Community Affairs quality when of dealing for with the issues related to of improving citizens. the Mayor

life

city’s

millions

Giuliani knew the value in having the best people advising him in each of these areas. He put a premium on taking the time to select the right person for each job. The mayor’s use of a team paid off nicely for the city of New York. During his tenure, New York City experienced a renaissance that defied everyone’s expectations. Leveraging a great team made it all possible. In the corporate environment the concept of teamwork can be a puzzling paradox. I’ve experienced more than a few situations
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 127

where

people or

failed

to

work over

together someone

as

a was

result in

of

petty for a

bickering promotion

jealousy another

who

line are

over

person.

Large

corporations

very

competitive, with many people vying for a few big promotions every year. Fostering teamwork in these kinds of competitive

environments is challenging, to say the least, but it can happen if you’re smart and resourceful. I’ve seen both good and bad examples of teamwork in the corporate environment, and when it’s working right everyone feels good about it. One of the reasons that people in corporate environments fail to properly who utilize are teamwork is related own to entrepreneurship. feel like

People

running

their

businesses

entrepreneurs and as such they value the leverage that a team gives them. I know I’ve felt much more empowered and motivated as a small-business owner than a corporate employee. The fact is that many corporate employees aren’t empowered to think like entrepreneurs. As a result, they shun teamwork in favor of completing big tasks with minimum help so they can take the credit for themselves. This is understandable since most

folks are just trying to make sure they get credit and have more opportunities for the future. Lifting the whole load at the

office may seem achievable in the short run, but in the long run it will wear a person down and reduce motivation. It certainly

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128

wore me down when I tried to run the whole loading dock by myself. Do you feel If motivated the answer to is utilize yes teamwork you in might your work to

environment?

then

want

consider selling your bosses on the power of teamwork. Either that or you might want to find a workplace where you’re

encouraged to leverage a team. Remember, your working life is a marathon, not a sprint, and you can’t win a thing if you burn yourself out in the first half of the race. Focus on your strengths, lighten your load and you’ll be well on your way to brighter days!

EVALUATING YOUR NEEDS In order to field the proper team to assist you in your business endeavors, you need to evaluate your needs. Earlier I explained the areas where my wife needed assistance with her photo

business. I helped her to determine those needs by asking some questions. The following three questions went a long way in

evaluating her needs. What area of my business do I do best? What else do I do well? What are things that I need to do that I can’t do well or learn in short order?

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

129

These determining

three where

simple you

questions need the

will

go

a of

long a

way

in They

assistance

team.

allowed us to easily identify that my wife would do all the photography, picture editing and organization of photos. We also decided expenses. By answering the first two questions, we had a clear focus on what my wife could do best. The third question helped us to identify where she would need help. In this case we immediately identified that my wife needed help with marketing and Web site construction and maintenance. I had some free time and the right knowledge, so I offered to help with that. This question also helped us determine that it was worth it to engage the services of a lawyer and a tax accountant. Armed with a good vision of her team, my wife was ready to move to the next step in her business life. While the previous example of evaluation works very well if you’re an entrepreneur, you may feel a bit helpless if you’re an hourly employee or in the a large department can of a corporation. apply. The that she would keep track of all her income and

Strangely

enough,

same

example

still

difference is that instead of evaluating only your needs, you’ll want to try to gather where the strengths are among your coworkers. An easy task this is not. Evaluating people takes time,

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130

patience and a lot of observation. It pays off, though, when you know where your strengths are and act accordingly. You should evaluate your peers, subordinates and even your bosses. Many companies don’t have a formal process to evaluate up the chain. That doesn’t matter a bit. Know the strengths and weaknesses up the chain and you’ll be able to react accordingly when a situation comes your way that could leave you hanging out to dry. I like to think of myself as a manager of a baseball team. Whenever I’m in a situation that requires a certain expertise I think of the people available on my roster of possible helpers. I remind myself of each of their skills. Then I get the right person in the game to help my team win. It’s time for an exercise about evaluating the need for a team. First I want you to think of a current job, project or idea that you are working on. Write down the details of the situation as much as you can. Then think about the necessary skill areas and write them down. For each area of skill, notate next to each one whether you’re weak or strong in each area. Isolate the areas where you are weak. Figure out which of the weak areas you can learn in short order. This exercise should help to show you what you do well and where you need assistance. Now ask these two questions of yourself: What kinds of people can help me? Are these people in any way available? If you have
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 131

problems coming up with good answers, then ask for advice on the matter. Remember Lesson One and find a good counselor on the subject. In almost every situation there’s a way you can add people to your team so you can focus on what you do best.

BUILDING YOUR TEAM

Once your ideal team is identified, you then have to set out to bring the right people together. This may be the hardest part of teamwork. Many people fall into the trap of picking team members just to fill the roster and say your team is complete. This approach is a bad idea. When assembling your team you’ll want to keep in mind that the quality of your team members matters as much as anything. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the same goes for your team. Use some very basic rules when assembling your team and

you’ll be much more likely to have a good group. Choose people who you can get along with. Choose people who have the skills that you really need. Choose people who are motivated and want to be a part of your team. Choose people who meet all of the previous three criteria. If you’re thinking that finding people who meet all the above criteria is hard, then you’re right on. My best advice to you is
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 132

to

leverage

the

power

of

friends

and

people

you

trust

to

recommend those folks that you might not know already. And if you make a mistake and pick a poor team member, don’t hesitate to find someone who better suits your needs. You don’t want a weak link in your team to bring you (and your dreams) crashing to the ground. Once you’ve assembled your team, you’ll need to manage the team. You manage the team in order to make sure that you’re getting what you want out of the situation. Knowing what you want was an important point in Lesson One, so don’t hesitate to look back to that lesson to freshen your mind on the topic.

MAKING IT WORK If you’re on track with me you’re probably asking the question: How can I become better at utilizing teamwork to lighten my load and make positive things happen? First of all, you need to know how to relate to a team. As I said earlier, in the corporate world I’ve seen many situations where getting people to work together seemed impossible. In the military I faced the challenge of getting people of a large variety of social backgrounds and mindsets to work together

under a myriad of terrible conditions.

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133

There’s no definite formula for team success but there are three things essential to having a chance at managing well: 1. Know your team members. 2. Respect your team members. 3. Don’t play favorites. If you know your team members’ abilities, then you’re more likely to put them in the spot that helps you the most. This creates positive results. If you respect your team, you’re much more likely to get that respect back and that leads to strong performance. If you treat everyone equally and maintain an open system where people feel like they count, then your team members will feel unthreatened and be much more likely to give it their all. This advice is good in theory and difficult in practice. You build this expertise over time with a combination of

experience and an open mind. When I started work on the shipping dock I had no idea about how to make teamwork happen. I was a good worker at

loading trucks so I was quickly promoted to managing the team. To me it was all about getting the freight out the door, so I focused on that. I also ended up spending many hours after

shifts loading boxes. One of the more experienced managers came in early one

morning and told me, “You’ve got to use your team.” I took those words to heart. I made many mistakes like not following the
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 134

three essential tips that I mentioned above to pull the team together. I wanted to get better so I took the time and learned. The key message here is that achieving success with even a great team can be difficult. Think of all the sports teams

packed with great players who failed to win a title. In 2003, the Florida Marlins shocked the New York Yankees to win the World Series. The Yankee team was stacked with stars but was no match for a solid and cohesive unit of hungry and not very wellknown players. The 2003 Florida Marlins proved that a well-managed team can make great things happen. Manage your team well and you can make things happen for you. You’ll success in see that you’ve and of in a greatly life team improved by taking your this chances advice to for and do

business the power

leveraging

rather

than

trying

everything yourself.

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135

CHECKPOINT

Three more lessons complete. You’re doing great. Review lessons four through six to reinforce the material you’ve learned so far. It’s critical that you grasp the previous lessons before moving forward. These checkpoints are important in evaluating

your progress. Once you finish your review you can read a lot more about the importance of evaluation in the next lesson.

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136

Lesson Seven: Constantly Evaluate

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” - SOCRATES

Back

in

my

early

twenties,

I

started

this

process

of

self-

evaluation. I read a great book by a guy named John Bradshaw called “Creating Love.” In the book, John advocates examining your life to figure out your motivations and true goals. This exercise of life

examination was also designed to improve personal and business relationships, which hopefully would lead to some sort of

breakthrough. I was sold on the whole concept so I decided that a true evaluation of my life was in order. As a part of this evaluation I took a look at my current situation and asked

myself where I wanted to be in five years. I made an action plan and set out to achieve my goals. Five years passed and I realized that I had been where I wanted to be for several years but had no idea where I wanted to go from there. I thought that this whole evaluation thing was something that you did every so often but not all the time. I realized that I had a lot more work to do to get to the next place I wanted to be.

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Here’s a key point: You need to be constantly aware of your situation in order to insure that your career is heading in the right direction. In other words, you must constantly evaluate your situation. You might be screaming at the pages right now, “But I’m

living my life and I don’t have time to stop and evaluate every step of the way!” Do you remember the introduction where I gave the example about the rookie NFL quarterback feeling rushed with only three seconds to throw? You may be at a point where you feel like there’s no time, but one of your goals should be to develop the poise necessary to take the time to evaluate. Most of us are really good at evaluating the small day-to-day things but we get caught up and don’t evaluate the BIG things. I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, “so and so has lost sight of the big

picture…” Unfortunately, we all tend to lose sight of the big picture and this jeopardizes our chances for success in business. Let’s go one step further with this and do a quick exercise. I want you to write an answer to the following question: How was the last day of my life? Think of the last twenty-four hours of your life, consider everything that happened, and then write

down your feelings about it.

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138

How

long

did

it

take?

Probably

only

a

few

minutes.

Now

consider the answer to this question: How has my whole life gone? WHOA! That’s pretty heavy and likely to take hours or longer to work on. It’s a difficult task, but only if you rarely step back and evaluate where your life is headed. Most of us, including myself at one time, rarely look at the big picture. We get lost in the small details and we go off course. Before we know it we’re in the wrong place and the

journey to where we need to be seems insurmountable. No worries though, because if I can rediscover the importance of

evaluation, then anyone can. Besides, regular folks like you and me aren’t the only ones who need to evaluate things.

CHANGE OR LOSE American evaluation downtrodden auto in companies the 1980s. learned With the importance gasoline aware of repeated and a

soaring

prices of the

economy,

people

became

very

costs

involved in purchasing and maintaining their vehicles. Vehicles with large, gas-guzzling engines and high

maintenance costs were the norm from the big U.S. automakers. Between the high cost of purchasing the vehicles, the small

warranties, and the cost of gas and regular maintenance, people were getting fed up. So while the big U.S. automakers were

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139

coasting down the river, assuming that they could set demand by producing the cars that they wanted, Japanese automakers like Honda were preparing to shake things up. Honda began to introduce smaller, less-expensive cars with better gas mileage. On top of those things, Honda’s cars had much better warranties than U.S. vehicles. What started out as a trickle turned into a flood and within a few years the big five automakers were losing tons of money, laying off workers and generally causing a shocking ripple effect throughout the

economy of the United States. It took over a decade for the U.S automakers to adjust and recover from their sales slump, but the damage had been done. Meanwhile, After the Japanese U.S. automakers kept evaluating in and 1983, adjusting. Japanese

created

import

quotas

manufacturers began moving production to the United States in order to continue to increase their market share. The U.S auto industry learned the hard way that not taking the time and spending the money to evaluate things is a huge and unacceptable risk. The Japanese auto manufacturers had an edge because they were focused on constantly re-evaluating their

business. It has become increasingly clear that from the biggest

corporation down to the single individual, constant evaluation is essential to success in business.
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Read the news every changing. Your business

day and is

you’ll see to change

that business is as much as any

likely

other. Without evaluation of your situation, assets and goals you will be lost. Still, many folks don’t take the time to

evaluate and insure they’re heading in the right direction.

CONSCIOUS EVALUATION Every moment of every day we’re all evaluating something. Right now I’m evaluating whether this sentence I’m writing makes sense to me. This morning as I opened my eyes I evaluated whether or not I was too tired to get up. You’re probably evaluating

whether or not to keep reading or put this book down. All these things are part of our unconscious evaluation process. This is the evaluation process that we go through every waking moment of our lives and it’s second nature to us. In order to be successful in business we all need to tap into the conscious evaluation process that deals with the more

complex and abstract issues in our lives. My reading of John Bradshaw’s book helped wake me up about consciously evaluating things. Once I began to take the time to examine the things happening in my life I realized where the gaps existed between my actual life and the life I wanted.

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141

A very important area of that life was my career. It didn’t take much examination for me to realize that my career was

falling short of my expectations. I began to evaluate the status of my career and positive changes followed. Without taking that time for evaluation I would’ve never been able to move forward and make the changes necessary to keep my business life moving in the right direction. In business as in life people get used to their everyday tasks and much evaluation can fall into the unconscious realm. This is a dangerous situation for a business to be in because it is essentially on autopilot. When you’re on autopilot in

business there are many ways that the forces of the world can act upon you and cause bad things to happen. The big U.S.

automakers set their business on autopilot for years and the market forces of the auto industry acted upon them and they lost market share. I meet so many people who are on autopilot in their careers. As a business consultant I meet hundreds of new people every year and get to spend some time in their work environment. For every motivated planner who’s thinking of the future, there are three people muddling through in the present. These folks are just trying to get through the day. They are generally unproductive and certainly don’t appear to be very happy. I totally understand where these people
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are

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

coming from. Daily tasks and the pressures of life can force you into autopilot mode. I’ve been there myself and that’s why I recognize the importance of choice to plot your course. Are you on autopilot in your business life? When was the last time you really thought about your current situation and getting conscious and making the

direction? Ponder the answers to these questions for a moment, then read on. THE BIG PICTURE Looking back at my high school and college years, I could see that my ideas and perceptions about any kind of evaluation had been skewed. To me, an evaluation was something that occurred for a

specific instance or piece of work and nothing more. The way people are graded in school on a class-by-class basis lends

itself to people focusing on individual classes instead of the big picture of a total education. In fact, after four years of college I still hadn’t pulled together the meaning of all those different classes that I had just taken. Because of the grading philosophies I had viewed them as individual exercises when they were really supposed to be one collective lesson. I learned this fact over the next

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143

couple of years as I was myself.

learning how to make a living for

The necessity for constant evaluation didn’t really start to hit home until it began to affect my personal training business. The freelance nature or of personal out on training required needed me to

constantly

evaluate

lose

desperately

cash.

Within a few months of getting into this exciting new industry I was training a handful of clients and making a nice wage. I

thought I was doing very well since my clients were looking better and commenting on how much better they felt. I was

focusing on what I was seeing on the surface, the small picture. Then in one week I lost two of my five clients, who decided to stop working with me. One working with another trainer former client decided to start in the same gym. I was highly

distressed since these losses were going to take a toll on my pocketbook. After some inquiries I found out that the clients had been happy with my service and the results initially but then became bored and wanted different and more strenuous workouts to keep them excited about the routine. Like the big U.S. automakers, I had assumed that my clients would accept what I gave them and I never took time to talk with them to elicit detailed feedback. As a result of these events I immediately re-evaluated how I was dealing with my clients. The last thing I wanted to do at that
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 144

point in my life was lose money. I realized that I had been treating my clients like a class from college. Once I had attained their business and showed them some

results I felt like I had earned that “A.” I didn’t learn about constant evaluation in school but once it began to affect my life and cash flow I gave the concept a good hard look. Are you focusing on the big picture all the time in your business life? Do you achieve things and then continue to follow up to insure you’re on the right track? If you answered no to either question then you should readjust your priorities to

include constant evaluation.

EVALUATE EVERYTHING You use constant evaluation to lead you to success by evaluating everything around you, whether it seems like a big deal or a small deal. You evaluate the things that you are choosing to do and you evaluate the forces that you can’t control. My current business as an energy market consultant provides a perfect example of how important it can be to evaluate

everything that affects you. My job is to advise companies on the rules of regional electricity markets and provide guidance on how they can better conduct business in these markets.

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145

In order to do this effectively I need to evaluate the rules of the market, which are constantly changing. I also have to evaluate the effect that rule changes will have on my clients’ businesses. I have to evaluate changes in technology to see how they might affect a particular market as well as my clients. I have to evaluate my level of knowledge on the energy markets and my clients. There are more evaluations that I have to make on a regular basis. Without these evaluations I would quickly become a non-valuable resource in my industry. Unfortunately, for many people the task of setting goals and evaluating is one that seems to fall by the wayside as life gets busier and we get wrapped up in day-to-day living. Living and running a business day to day is one of the simplest traps to fall into, but luckily it’s also easy to get out of that trap. You can stop at any point in the process and evaluate your

current situation.

THE EVALUATION PROCESS The process of evaluation begins with a few questions, continues on with action and never really ends. An exercise is in order to get your brain jumpstarted on the process of evaluation. You can start by taking stock of where your life is at this moment. A powerful exercise involves some open-ended statements that allow

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146

you to elaborate and understand how you feel about your current situation. Try working through these statements: My life is… My career is… My family is… My finances are… My love life is… Write down the continuation of these statements and you may be surprised at what you find out about your life, or more

exactly your perception of your life. Our focus here is mostly on evaluating your business life, so I’d like you to follow up with some more direct questions that will address specific

business issues. Some relevant questions are: How do I feel about my current career? How many clients do I want to have? How knowledgeable am I about my business? What other fields of endeavor am I interested in exploring? How knowledgeable am I on the latest trends in technology for my business? What promotions or incentives would I like to receive at work in the near future? Be as detailed as possible when addressing each question. Include suggestions for building on the positive areas and

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147

improving on the negative areas. Write it all down, then take some time to ponder it and review. Ask yourself these questions and as many others that you can think of. You should keep asking questions until you feel like you have enough answers to paint a realistic picture of your current situation. When I had my personal training business

dilemma I asked myself some of these questions: Do I have enough knowledge of fitness to provide my clients with varied workout routines? Have I paid enough attention to the needs of my clients? How many clients do I want to have three months from now? These questions and the resulting answers shined a light on my weak areas and allowed me to take action, and action must be taken. The big U.S. automakers had to act in the 1980s or they faced a possibility in the of extinction. approach to Their the evaluations car led to The

changes

their

business.

evaluation of my training business resulted in information that allowed me to improve my business situation and get a better grasp on my future goals.

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148

TAKING ACTION The first part of my discussion on evaluation deals with

questions and answers. The second part deals with action. The process of evaluation is indeed an action in itself, but

following up on the information gained by evaluation is what makes the effort worthwhile. Once I evaluated my personal training business, I took action in order to change the direction of my business. You’ll need to take action to change your situation as a result of your

evaluation. Taking action is a critical and very rewarding part of the complex evaluation cycle. You’ll notice that I referred to

evaluation as a cycle because it’s a continuous process that ends when you quit growing, which should be never! The cycle goes like this: Evaluate, take action and evaluate again. It may sound like you’re going round and round but you’ll actually make great progress because you’ll have a much better idea about what critical issues need to be addressed in order to keep moving in the direction that you want to go. After evaluating the changing auto industry, U.S. auto

companies built smaller cars that required less maintenance and had longer warranties. I took specific actions to save my

personal training business. I changed my training philosophy and

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149

re-evaluated my clients’ workout

routines every

six weeks.

I

devoted more time to studying exercise science so that I could offer clients more varied and exciting workouts. The moves paid off and I was soon able to get and, more importantly, keep clients for a longer period of time. The net effect was a steadier flow of income and the ability to continue in a business that was much more desirable to me than a nine to five job. Let’s start an exercise on taking action with the results of the exercise from the previous section. You asked yourself a number of questions aimed at evaluating your current situation. Armed with those answers, I want you to spend some time thinking about the actions that you should take as a result of your

evaluation. Here are a few examples from situations in my life to get you rolling on taking action: Question: How do I feel about my current career? Answer: Good, but I’d like to explore other opportunities. Action: Perform research on other careers that might interest me. Question: Do I have as many clients as I like? Answer: No, I’d like to have more clients. Action: Create a new marketing plan. Make it a daily priority to talk with people about my business.

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150

Question: business?

Am

I

as

knowledgeable

as

I

need

to

be

about

my

Answer: No, I need to learn more about my business. Action: Seek out more knowledge by reading a new book each month on topics related to my business. These are very simple examples but they can be as complex as you need them to be. I recommend that you start working on

evaluating the simple things before you move on to more complex issues. This approach will help get you used to the cycles of conscious evaluation and action. Go through the cycle of evaluation and action at least every month from this point forward. Identify areas for evaluation and continue to monitor them. Once you’re in the swing of evaluating your business situations, I recommend evaluations on a quarterly basis just like companies evaluate their finances. Regular

evaluations will keep your ship heading in the direction of your choosing. As you go through continuing cycles of evaluating and

adjusting you’ll notice that your goals will always seem more attainable. You will know where you stand and you will have the opportunity to consciously plan your future. At the same time, it will be hard work because evaluation will force you to look at things that would otherwise go unresolved.

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151

I liken the evaluation cycle to facing a tiger that lives in your closet. You know that the tiger has to go if you want to feel safe. You figure if you keep the door closed maybe the

tiger will leave your house on its own. Facing the tiger is tough, but removing the tiger is very rewarding. I hope you’re excited about self evaluation. You should be, given that it will change your life in a very positive way and open the door for the next liberating tenet of my philosophy…

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152

Lesson Eight: Never Stop Learning

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” - HENRY FORD

I woke up one morning in May of 1991 and breathed a great sigh of relief. “That’s it,” I thought. “I’m finally finished with my education.” It was my graduation day from college and I was to receive my Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I had been worn down by sixteen years of schooling while trying to grow up. I was ready to put education by the wayside for the rest of my life. I was ready to practice everything that I had learned and do great things out in the world. I had a problem, though. The problem was that I wasn’t even mature yet. I knew very little about what was in store for me in the business world. I may have been a graduating college senior but I was still a freshman in life. Like many young people I thought that I knew it all and was ready to move forward in life without investing any more time on the pursuit of knowledge. What I was primarily interested in was the pursuit of some money and a chance to live on my own.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 153

This philosophy seemed to work for a short while, as I earned a regular salary and gained a small measure of financial

freedom, but then I hit a hard wall. You see, the knowledge I gained from high school and college was enough to get me my first job, but it wasn’t enough to help me achieve the continued goals that I would have in life. I wanted to get a place of my own, do things that were

important to me and, of course, make more money along the way. After a few months of full-time work I felt like I wasn’t making any progress. I had a lot more to learn before I could start moving in the direction of my goals. I needed to embrace the following fact: You can never stop learning if you want to

succeed in the world of business. My journey to a renewed attitude about education came around the same time and that I a wanted more to leave my job at a shipping already

company

pursue

fulfilling

career.

Having

spent four years in college with my parents eager to see me make it for myself, I had no choice but to embark on a journey of self-learning. Frankly, I had neither the money nor the time to go back to college. One positive note that helped me move forward was the fact that I had taught myself to play guitar over a period of about three years. Knowing that I had some ability to learn effectively without a teacher in my face spurred me to go out
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 154

and gain the knowledge needed to get in on the ground floor of personal fitness training. Take a look at your own situation for a moment. Have you reached a point in your life where you’re coasting on the

knowledge you gained five or ten years ago? Are you actively seeking out new learning experiences? If you don’t have a plan for continued learning, your business skills will erode and your possibilities will be limited.

EDUCATION DRIVES BUSINESS If you take a look at the events in this world over the last ten years, there are some pretty powerful illustrations of the need for ongoing personal education. Since the early 1990s the technology revolution has swept over the world like a massive tidal wave, turning paper-based communications into a flood of bits and bytes. The Internet, high-speed and wireless networking have enabled an information superhighway that has transformed virtually every industry on the planet. Back when I graduated from college the computer skills that were being taught focused on programming in languages like BASIC and using non-graphical spreadsheet programs like Lotus 1-2-3.

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155

Twelve years later, you probably couldn’t find three people out of ten who even know what those things were. In 1991 the Internet was something that was only used by the government and the military. Now everyone is aware of the power of the Internet. And of course, there’s e-mail, which has become the single most efficient and cost-effective communication

method in modern society. While technology changed, industries changed along with it and people’s perceptions about changed. As a result, how business can be conducted

the expectations

of people’s knowledge

have changed as well. So now a secretary is not just expected to know how to type and file, but how to use Microsoft Word,

navigate the Internet, manage e-mail, and maybe a database or two. This expectation is all fine and dandy for someone who’s been to school in the last few years, but what about the people who graduated in 1991? The answer is simply that you must continue learning or face extinction in business and in life. Without continued education, it’s impossible to keep up with all the changing trends and standards in the world of business. The people who turned their backs and refused to recognize the technological revolution have become marginalized, downsized and phased out. It’s a horrible thing to realize that people can be pushed to the edges of society by technology, but similar circumstances
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 156

have occurred in every era. People in the early 1900s who did things by hand were replaced by people who operated machines. Those people who operated machines were replaced in the 1990s by people who programmed computers that operated machines. Anyone who was resting on their laurels thinking that they could coast along for twenty or thirty years to retirement got a big shock when their boss let them know that they were being replaced by a newer model that never takes a coffee break or has to use the restroom. The skills that the average person needs to continue working on to be successful go far beyond technological ones.

Interpersonal and communication skills need to be honed in order to deal with people in the myriad of situations that you’ll encounter in your business life. Do you think you learned all the interpersonal skills you needed in college? Wherever you’re at now, do you think you know everything about these types of skills? Or any other skill, for that matter? The masters of any subject know that there’s always more to learn.

THE GRADUATION CONCEPT The process of going through high school and college with big fanfare at the end of each fosters what I call “The Graduation Concept.”

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157

The graduation concept involves the impression of finality given by the completion of structured educational programs.

Graduation is portrayed as coming to the end of a road. This is not reality, though. In reality, the end of one learning experience is the

beginning of another in a process that goes on and on until you die. If we adjust our thinking, we can realize that the purpose of higher education should be to learn how to learn rather than trying to learn as much as you can in a four to six-year period. After all, you’ll spend much more time out of school than in it. I once read a Zen proverb that said, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” To me, this statement reflects the exact opposite of the graduation concept and it’s exactly the attitude everyone needs in order to succeed in business. I could beat you over the head all day with quotes about the importance of ongoing learning. You might even be thinking that what I’m saying is simply common sense. Yeah, it is common

sense. But how many people stay on course and follow through on this common sense throughout their lives? Are you continuing to learn by actively taking steps to expand your knowledge and

understanding in this world? Do you feel like you’ve “graduated” and have no more need for seriously educating yourself? If you feel like you’ve graduated then you’ve got some work to do. Even
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 158

as you read this the world is changing. Your ability to adapt to those changes will be a major factor in determining your

business success in the future. Remember, the brain is a muscle. Like any other muscle, the brain needs exercise to stay strong.

MAKING TIME TO LEARN If you’re like most people you lead a busy life. So you might have some objections like, “But I’ve got to work and raise a family and I don’t have time to be a student of life.” That’s a good point and leads us to an important question. How do we continue meaningful learning while functioning in the world,

meeting our responsibilities and forwarding our goals? In response to that question I’ll feed you some more common sense for dinner and tell you that like anything else, you need to make time for learning. Think about it. We make time for so many things in this life like television, magazines, extra hours of sleep, overtime at work, vegetating, spending time with our family, etc. Now some of that time is very well-spent and some of it is not. You need to find the time that is not well-spent and carve some of that out and make it learning time. As children we made time for learning without even knowing it. Take a look at kids playing and you can see them using their

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159

imagination, hear.

asking are

questions like

and

repeating that

things all

that

they of

Children

sponges

absorb

kinds

information. And as a result they learn things at a rate that most of us can’t comprehend as adults. Take language, for instance. Children will learn the basics of a language just by listening and observing. A child can learn to speak just about every language As that they’re that exposed to

during

their

formative

years.

adults

learning

curve

takes a lot more time. Part of this is because we’re so used to speaking and hearing our native language, but it’s partly a

result of the fact that we’ve denied our ability to continue to learn rapidly even as we get older. As adults we have to work a little harder and consciously make time for learning. All successful people make that time and there’s no reason that you can’t. When I started my personal training business I used to read fitness books while on the long subway ride from Queens to Manhattan. Things like audio books allow us to gain knowledge while driving our cars or listening to a portable music device. Leveraging technology is a great way to make sure that you have more time for learning. Of course, you have to take time to learn about new technology in order to get the benefits. Take a few moments to think about how you use your time. Write down a time overview of the last few days of your life.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 160

How many hours did you spend watching TV? How many hours did you spend commuting to work? How much time are you spending with family and friends? Do you have a steady routine or does your routine change on a regular basis? How many hours are you

sleeping a night? Seriously take the time to evaluate how your time is used. Then find what I call “moments of opportunity.” These are times when you can afford to make time for learning. You might watch a little less TV. You could wake up half an hour earlier. You can listen to an audio book while commuting to work. Commit some time to mapping out how you use your time and you’ll have a much better chance of utilizing moments of opportunity.

WHAT YOU NEED TO LEARN Once we realize in our how important we’re we it is to embrace with an to continued important learn? The

learning question.

lives, do

presented to

What

things

need

continue

answer to that question really depends on the person. I believe there are certain areas that everyone should continue to develop no matter what your goals in business are. These are areas that I call general knowledge areas. On the other hand, each person has individual goals and

interests that don’t necessarily relate to what other folks are

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161

trying areas.

to

accomplish.

I

call

these

areas

specific

knowledge

The most important general knowledge areas are the ones that will support the possibility of success in business no matter what your goals are. No matter what business you’re in or what your goals are, you’ll always need to be highly skilled in the management of people and money. Owning up to the reality of the high-tech landscape has

caused me to dedicate myself to building skills in the area of computer technology. The simple fact is that any job or business that you’re involved with will require strong computer skills in order to be successful. In addition to computer skills, sales, marketing important and customer service experience which have proved to be me

general

knowledge

areas

have

helped

keep

competitive in the business world. Let’s make quick list of the general knowledge areas that will make the greatest impact in your business life. Management of people Management of finances Computer skills Sales and marketing ability Customer service

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162

I want you to spend some time thinking about your background in each of these areas. Make an honest assessment about how much time you’ve been spending in trying to gain the skills that you need. I wouldn’t expect you to become an expert overnight, but you must consider these skills in your action plan for continued learning. The general knowledge areas will support you no matter what business you’re in, but the specific knowledge areas will make the difference between you and your competitors. When I became a personal trainer my specific knowledge area involved physical fitness. This differed greatly from my job as a shipping manager, which required me to have strong logistical skills. I was very motivated to make a change and I spent many hours cracking the books and learning about physical fitness in order to make the switch from one career to the other. My ability to learn made the move possible and gave me the freedom of choice in my profession. Your specific knowledge is your bread and butter. If you want to change industries or careers, then you need to figure out your new specific knowledge area right away. If you want to improve on your current situation, then you’ll need to shore up on your existing specific knowledge area. Take a few moments right now to think about what specific knowledge is required for either your present career or
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the

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

career that you want to move into. Write down a summary of this information and keep it in mind as you continue your lifelong learning process.

CULTURE OF LEARNING When you’re learning new things it’s a fact that the process requires a serious commitment. In most cases you will be engaged in learning activities while practicing your chosen craft and earning a living. This balance can be a difficult one, but it’s hard for most people to forego a paycheck for a few months while they learn a new discipline or refine an existing one. More than likely you’ll need to learn on the fly and you’ll need to be smart in the first place to make that happen. The good news is that you can do it! I’ve been involved in six very different careers since college graduation. In addition, I’ve learned to play the guitar and build Web sites. I learned all the skills needed for my endeavors while I was working, dealing with everyday responsibilities and forwarding my goals in life. If you ask me how I did it I can tell you simply that you need to: Create a culture of learning in your life. Whole companies have learned that creating a culture of

constant learning can provide enormous benefits and give their

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164

business

a

decided

edge

over

their

more

stagnant

thinking

competitors. General Electric Corporation (GE) is a perfect example of a company that has developed a culture of learning, which has in turn fostered success in the world of business. GE is a large company learning with multiple in business to units continue and to they’ve promoted and a

culture

order

diversify

grow

their business. Some might see a diverse array of businesses as a difficult environment in which to foster a culture of learning. The

leadership at GE realized that they could use this diversity to their advantage. GE views their diversity as a limitless source of learning opportunities and a storehouse of ideas. Besides just having the ideas and sources of knowledge, GE has taken action to insure this information is spread across the organization. They do this by bringing together people from all levels of the organization to work on problems, share knowledge and create action plans to help in all areas of the company. GE’s leadership events makes occur sure across that all these the types diverse of learning and

sharing

business

areas,

calling it “Horizontal Learning.”

There’s no

doubt that this

approach has been a major factor in GE’s growth and success over the past twenty years.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

165

As an individual, you need to believe that you can learn continuously in order to break through to a culture of learning in your life. It also helps to have good reason to want to keep learning. Once I started on the personal training business I quickly realized that in order to be competitive and make good money, I needed to be highly knowledgeable in not only specific knowledge area of physical fitness, but the general knowledge areas of marketing, sales and customer service as well. I learned bits of all these areas over the years while

working on many jobs during school but this was like a master course because there could be no excuse that this was just a “part-time” job. I needed to learn in order to survive in this new world, so I went out and found information where I could. I scoured books, audiotapes and magazine articles for relevant

information, filtering out things that seemed counterproductive and applying information that made sense. I also learned muchneeded personal training and business skills from other

successful trainers in the gym. I left no stone unturned in my post-college education aimed at achieving my goals. Knowledge will not necessarily find you. You need to seek out knowledge wherever you can find it. All kinds of knowledge are freely available if you’re willing to take the time and the effort to go out and find it.

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166

My culture of learning involved absorbing learning into every aspect of my life. Using this technique, I was able to process large amounts of information and get smart on a lot of important topics very quickly. This approach took up a lot of my spare time, but I was at a place in my life where I was willing and able to make those types of sacrifices. My experience creating a culture of learning in my life came in handy during my time in the military as well. One of the key missions that we had as soldiers was to constantly learn and get better at the basic skills as well as our military specialty. From basic training to officer candidate school to my time as an armor officer in Germany, almost everything I did involved

learning something new. When I was in charge of maintenance for my tank company, the weekly maintenance day was not only about insuring that our

vehicles were in great shape. Every week we would focus on a different part of the tank and have a training class about it that involved hands were on training to and lectures. the Each so week, they

different

people

assigned

lead

class

themselves would learn about preparing and delivering training. This process insured that everyone in the unit was knowledgeable about the vehicles, which were our lifelines during combat. This is just a single example from my military experience but there are hundreds more. Given the way I saw the culture of
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 167

learning embraced in my military experience, it’s no wonder that our armed services are able to do incredible things while under amazingly short deadlines. Chances are that you’re in a different place in your life right now then I was at the start of my personal training or military careers. That’s okay because no matter what your own situation is like now you always have the time to decide how you will shape a culture of learning in your life. You might be wondering exactly how you can begin to shape this culture of learning in your life. The best advice that I can give is first and foremost to make every part of your life about learning. I’ve frequently put myself in positions where continued

education was not only helpful but completely necessary. From my time as a personal trainer to my stint in the military, the restaurant business and then consulting I’ve been challenged to master new concepts. I recommend that you take the same approach and take advantage of challenges to help spur learning in your life. You should seek out the most relevant and available sources of information on the things you want to learn. These days there are so many and learning even options, with the Internet, books, as

magazines

continuing

education

learning

classes

viable options. You need to take the time to evaluate these
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 168

sources

to

see

if

they

can

fit

into

your

learning

culture.

Evaluate these sources based on the time you have to spend as well as their cost. Another very important way to help build your learning

culture involves people. Just like I recommended a counselor in Lesson One for advice on important issues, I recommend

surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do and learning from them. These people could be friends, co-workers, employees or simply people who share the same goals as you do. Just as GE uses diversity to their advantage, you too can use the diversity of people’s knowledge to help you be more

successful in business.

GETTING THE KNOWLEDGE YOU NEED Getting the knowledge you need starts with making a commitment to lifelong education and then following up on it. After all, everyday life has a way of nudging its way into our best-laid plans. Before you know it, months and years go by. For me, the commitment came at the point where I realized that my school education alone wasn’t going to take me as far as I wanted to go. You might commit under similar circumstances or you might be the one who ends up laid off (or downsized) and in need of a new profession.

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169

You might also be at a point in life where everything is going well but you feel like you want to expand your horizons. Whatever the reason, you can see that a commitment to ongoing education is essential to being successful in any business. The toughest part, though, is the execution of the action plan for educating yourself. First, you need to decide on the areas that you feel need improvement. Then you need to be able to access the proper

knowledge and set aside the necessary time to learn. Finally, you need to teach yourself or work with others who will teach you. Next, you need to find your best sources of knowledge and mine them for all they’re worth. You just have to take the time to seek out knowledge. You can’t take for granted that knowledge will just come to you. You must be on the hunt, period. My experience in the lifelong learning process is that if one has an open mind, one learning experience will lead you to the next one. I’ve also learned that you can’t learn everything at once, so patience is a key here. Your skills in a particular area of knowledge will be limited as you start to learn

something new, and it can be frustrating. Don’t worry. Lean on your stronger areas of knowledge until you learn what you need to in other areas. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so be patient and learning will pay off.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 170

The process for making the commitment to learning happen also hinges on your ability to follow the evaluation steps laid out in Lesson Seven. will Taking you the the time to properly evaluate to your move

situation

give

necessary

information

forward with your learning action plan.

CREATE A LEARNING ACTION PLAN When I decided to make the move from the military world back into the civilian world, I came up with an action plan for

learning. The first question that I asked myself was, “What do I want to do for a career after the military?” I tried to think of areas that I found interesting that could also provide a source of income. Computer technology with my quickly home came to mind and since I

really

enjoyed

working

computer

using

the

Internet. The second question I asked myself was, “What do I want the job to be like?” My answer was that I didn’t want to be in a normal nine-to-five office job. I wanted more autonomy and a flexible schedule. Basically, I wanted something very unlike the military.

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171

After deciding to focus on a computer-related industry I had to do some research on the types of jobs available in the field of computer technology. I read a few books, magazines, looked on the Internet and asked advice from friends who were working in the civilian

world. There were so designer, database

many job technician,

possibilities like programmer, Web developer, technology

architect, and on and on. I was completely puzzled and a little frustrated. One day a friend mentioned work the field of to technology assist them consulting, in meeting where their

companies

with

clients

computer needs. I was immediately interested because this work involved computers as well as customer service. I’ve always been very excited about serving people. Other components of the job included travel and the possibility of having Fridays off. All these things appealed to me, but I still had more learning to do. I began to research the different companies in the field to try to find out more about what they did for their clients. Knowing facts about a company is key to getting in the door. I asked myself another question: “How do I go about landing a job as a technology consultant?” Within a few weeks I was able to find a company that

specialized in placing former military officers with consulting
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 172

firms. They even gave me homework to increase my chances of having a successful interview with my prospective employers. This whole process took place over the two months before and two months after my discharge from the military, and it involved non-stop evaluation and learning. I wasn’t able to save too much money as a military officer and I needed to pay for a place to live back in New York, so I was motivated. The motivation paid off because within two months of my discharge I was starting a new position as a technology consultant with a very large and well-respected firm. Without taking the time to evaluate and develop a learning action plan, the results that I achieved might not have been possible; at least, not so quickly. I’ll never really know how things would have gone differently without the preparation but I don’t think that they could have gone better. Here’s the big question for you. Do you think that your

future is as promising without an action plan to continue your education? We both know the answer to that question. Today is the day to start a learning action plan. Take this on as an exercise and write an action plan before moving on to the next lesson. Ask yourself those important questions, come up with a simple plan and execute!

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173

I’ve done well on my journey so far and none of it would have been possible without a commitment to continued learning.

Experience has also taught me that I would need to keep my eyes open for new learning experiences if I wanted to continue to have success. Once your horizons start expanding you’ll also be ready to make some more moves in your career and in life. Although a time like this can be very exciting, it can also be stressful because a lot will be happening that you’re not used to. That’s why you’ll need to follow the next tenet of my philosophy and beat the world to the punch.

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174

Lesson Nine: The Power of Anticipation

“Change is coming in your life. Sometimes it comes quietly and sneaks up on you. Sometimes it bowls you over like a sudden storm. Either way, change is coming, change is happening and you need to be ready to deal with it.” - ROBERT J. SAFUTO

Back around the time I was searching out a new direction after college I took the time to read a few books about management and organization. My plan was to try and find a few nuggets of

information that made sense to me and then apply them in my endeavors. It seemed to me that the information I had gotten from my college business textbooks was very sterile and didn’t really apply to any of the situations that I found myself in after college. I found a book called “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Unlike my college textbooks, “Seven Habits” contained plenty of common-sense knowledge that I could apply. There was one particular nugget of information from “Seven Habits” that ended up being really valuable to me. That nugget was the directive to “Be Proactive.” I had never even heard the word proactive in high school or college. I was intrigued by this new concept.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 175

Being proactive means getting things done before they need to be done. It’s about using your mind to anticipate activities and take action to deal with them. As a student I was very used to being reactive. Situations just seemed to pop up and I would handle them as they occurred. I wouldn’t focus hard on a particular class until right before an exam, at which point I would cram for two days before the test. Immediately after the test I would do a complete brain dump so I could focus on the next class with an exam coming up. It would get pretty rough around final exam time when I’d

usually have back-to-back tests. I’d usually end up with B’s and an occasional A grade. While all this was going on I don’t think I was learning the subjects of my classes as much as I was learning to react. As I stated earlier in the book, higher education rewards you based on your performance on tests and not your overall approach. This convinced me that I was succeeding at my studies since my Grade Point Average was a solid B. Success becomes redefined as you get older, though. In

college I was somehow able to work out juggling a job loading trucks and going to school with my reactive approach to things. As my responsibilities grew, the reactive approach became more and more difficult to sustain.

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176

When I started working a full-time job as a shipping manager, I began to realize that every day was a test. I couldn’t do a brain dump nightly and start fresh in the morning like I did when I was taking that classes carried or over loading from that day trucks. to day me to I and had more

responsibilities often than not

things

occurred

forced

address

unforeseen issues. If I couldn’t locate a particular missing package, instead of passing the responsibility off to the next shift I would have to stay until I tracked the package down and gave the customer an answer. If one conveyer belt had a breakdown I would have to figure out a way to keep the packages moving and get the belt fixed. If on a certain night, there was a higher volume of

freight than another I needed to adjust and handle the increase in volume of packages in the same amount of time as any other night. And I would have to handle these things in addition to the daily tasks that I was expected to complete. It all became a bit overwhelming for me. The fact that I was learning was this: Effective business people anticipate situations rather than reacting to them. Life, more often than not, conditions us to react rather than plan something out and prepare for all the actions necessary to be successful. Take a look around society and you’ll see what I mean.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 177

Have you ever talked to a bride who wants to lose weight so she can look better for exercise plan months her wedding? Instead of starting an to help get her into shape,

earlier

inevitably she ends up cramming all the diet and exercise into a short period just before the wedding so she can fit into her dress and look “good” for all of the wedding guests. The resulting stress from trying to cram a six-month plan into two months throws off her equilibrium and makes the poor bride miserable. This misery causes the bride to react and eat like crazy when the frustration peaks. I saw this scenario more times than I would like when I was a personal fitness trainer. If you’re having trouble dealing with the many curveballs that life can throw at you, then you’re probably reacting rather than anticipating. Anticipating in life and in business will make the difference and give you an edge over your competition. Anticipating is all about knowing what you’re going to face in any situation,

deciding how to prepare and then taking the appropriate action. In short, you cannot be a success unless you learn to

anticipate!

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

178

THE POWER OF ANTICIPATION Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion, was a master of anticipation in the early days of his career. He trained hard for each opponent and easily beat them every time he stepped into the ring. Mike had this great knack for eyeing his opponent and beating him to the punch every time. Mike’s early career was made of anticipating and taking

action, while his opponents had no choice but to react to his punishing blows. Like everyone else who makes a habit of

reacting, Tyson’s opponents were behind the power curve and at a serious disadvantage. Mike Tyson rode the power of anticipation and preparation to a world boxing title and great financial fortune. Unfortunately for Tyson, he failed to maintain his great anticipation skills. He looked like a poorly prepared, slow fighter while defending his title against Buster Douglas in 1990. Instead of beating his opponent to the punch, Tyson was the slow fighter who ended up on the receiving end of a bad beating. I ended up with some bad beatings working twelve-hour days trying to handle all the unexpected situations at my job as a shipping manager. When things got really bad I sought out the advice of some older managers. They suggested that I actually do some planning prior to each night’s work.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

179

The idea to plan was a new one to me but I immediately gave it a shot since I needed help badly. What I found was that the planning added more tasks onto my daily activities and initially this frustrated me. After all, I was trying to reduce my

workload, not increase it. As time passed I realized that all the preparation was

actually saving me time. I began to analyze the freight patterns so a big volume day wouldn’t catch me by surprise. I discovered that I could expect a big spike in volume on the Friday before a holiday weekend. Businesses wanted to get all their shipments out the door so their employees could take the following Monday off. This helped me plan for the number of personnel that I would need for a given shift. I also began checking the conveyer belt system long before a shift to try to identify any maintenance problems. I put

measures in place to deal with the loss of any particular belt. For the first time in my life, I was anticipating rather than reacting. Problems that usually took hours to get straight were being dealt with in a fraction of that time. It certainly wasn’t a concept that I completely embraced overnight. It took me a couple of months of making mistakes, learning and trying new things to get it right at that particular job. Getting it right and learning to anticipate gave me the power to control my

career.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 180

I can’t tell you what it felt like the first time that I was actually able to leave work on time on a Friday night so I could meet up with friends and relax. Having that kind of freedom is what the power of anticipation is all about. KNOW YOUR BUSINESS All this talk of anticipation brings us to a very important question. How does a person learn to anticipate in a business environment? The first step to using anticipation effectively involves knowing your business inside and out. This knowledge not only covers what happens at your business on a daily basis, but also understanding all the forces that act upon your business to

cause situations to change. Let’s look at a simple but effective example of how knowing your business is an essential factor in anticipation. When I was running a restaurant in New York City I realized how quickly I could be overwhelmed by business problems. In

other types of industries, situations develop in hours, days, weeks or even longer time periods. I learned fast that when you’re dealing with the public providing an immediate service, situations can develop in a matter of seconds or minutes. That piece of knowledge alone allowed me to anticipate a myriad of situations, but understanding that things could occur quickly
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 181

wasn’t enough. I also needed to know what situations had the highest probability of occurring. At least once an evening a customer would become unsatisfied with one aspect of our service. When you’re serving hundreds of people each evening one of the things you learn is that

sometimes there are folks who won’t be pleased know matter how hard you try. These situations occur quickly and must be

addressed immediately in order to limit their effects on the overall situation. The goal at my restaurant was to please the customer, so my challenge was to watch for a dissatisfied customer, understand why they were dissatisfied and then find a way to address the situation to bring about a positive result for both the customer and my business. Finally, I needed to record or remember the situation so I’d have a frame of reference to deal with such a situation in the future. By using this technique I learned the following information. On a given night we were likely to have at least one customer who would express some level of dissatisfaction. That customer would most likely express dissatisfaction in one of two areas: speed of service and the noise level of the restaurant. I

learned that customers liked to be served quickly and wanted a quieter atmosphere.

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

182

Luckily, I had a good chef and a floor staff or there could have been a lot of other service issues to anticipate. Knowing these facts, I took steps to make sure the process of ordering and delivering food made sense. I also dimmed the lighting and played more relaxed music to give the restaurant a more intimate feeling. When dealing directly with customers I learned to be as

attentive and accommodating as possible, even if their requests were a bit unreasonable. Utilizing these techniques resulted in generally happier customers and a much smoother process from

night to night, allowing me time to focus on situations that were not as foreseeable. The key to learning about your business involves watching, understanding, addressing and remembering. By doing these four things you can get to know your business quickly and stay on top of all the forces that can cause a situation to change. If

you’re able to answer the following three questions then you’re doing well at knowing your business. How fast can a situation change? What events are most likely to occur that will affect my business? How can I best address the events that will affect my business?

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

183

Ask

yourself

these

questions.

If

you

can’t

come

up

with

answers right away, you should take the time to investigate this information before moving on with this book.

PLANNING TO WIN Knowing your business is one great step to mastering the power of anticipation. The next step is to take the time to plan. Planning is the action that creates value from knowing your business. Good planning makes the act of anticipation possible. Just like everything else that is necessary, planning takes some more time out of your day. Planning takes time out of actually executing your business. Many people are great at executing but not nearly as good at planning. Even if you are not a natural planner you must take the time to plan. You can learn better planning skills. The most

successful business people are the ones who learn that taking the time to plan can make all the difference in a tough business situation. In order to help you internalize this concept I want you to take a moment right now. Close your eyes and think of all the little things taking time away from you on a daily basis. Think of the things that cause you to end up catching a later train or cause you to have to go in to the office for a couple of hours

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

184

on

Saturday.

Think

about

those

things

that

happen

in

your

personal life that end up throwing everything out of whack. Now for each one of those things think about how you could anticipate them. Think about how and why these events occur. For each event, think of one thing you can do to anticipate and deal with it. This exercise is a microcosm of the planning process. Take this simple exercise to heart and use the information to head off situations that would otherwise take time away from you. By doing this you’ll be using up some time in the short run but saving yourself a lot of time for more important things in the long run. Planning to win in business is what separates two groups of people, anticipators and firefighters. Anticipators are the folks who are planning and easily

handling all sorts of situations. They are the folks who take bumps in the road in stride and keep on going. Firefighters are business people who fail to plan properly and get stumped by tough situations. They are the ones who have to stop everything in order to deal with an issue. While the firefighters are stuck trying to deal with obstacles, their

competitors are forging ahead and winning. Examples of planning to win are everywhere.

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185

Consider a football team as an example. Every college and pro football team has a game plan that they follow. The game plan focuses on each opponent, taking into account the opponent’s

strengths and weaknesses. The game plan also takes into account the planning team’s abilities. The abilities of both sides are fed into the game plan. The weather outlook may feed into the plan as well. The coach may also throw in adjustments to the plan based on his or her

personal experience. The coach of one team has probably scouted the other coach to see how that person reacts in different game situations. Basically, everything that the coaching staff knows about the game, the teams and the forces that can create

situations are fed into the game plan. A strong game plan can make the difference between a team that is cohesive and

effective and a team that is sloppy and ineffective. In business, game plans are just as important as they are in sports. I’ve seen the benefits of planning (and the pitfalls of not planning) in every venture I’ve been involved with. As a consultant to the energy industry, I create a project plan as the first order of business in every engagement. This plan lays out the major tasks, which are then broken out into smaller sub-tasks. Based on my knowledge of the business I estimate the amount of time each task will take and think about potential pitfalls.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 186

I

evaluate

the the

plan

as

a

whole

and

I

evaluate

its

parts, Taking

anticipating

events

that

could

alter

situations.

these steps allows me to be ready for the challenges that each engagement offers. When most people get started in the world of business, they focus on production and execution. They eschew detailed planning in favor of attempting to get immediate results. That’s OK,

we’re a results-oriented society and I know that I felt like my duty was to produce first and plan later. Your industry or

profession of choice does not affect your need to plan. You simply must take the time to plan to be effective in business. Successful business people know that the planning time is time well spent in the long run. Say you take an hour at the end of each day to plan for the next day. If you work a ten-hour day, this reduces your

production time by ten percent. A lot of people would be upset at that lost ten percent. But the ten percent is not really lost, it’s invested. That time you spend planning at the end of each day could save you several hours of dealing with situations that you

weren’t ready for. That’s how the investment in planning pays off. Take a few moments now for an exercise on the value of

planning. Think about the top five events that take time away
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 187

from producing in your business. For each one of those events, write out how and why they occur. Then follow that with some ideas to deal with each type of event. These events can be very simple or very complex but it’s important that you be truthful about what’s getting in your way. By evaluating these examples you have begun a planning process that will power your ability to anticipate the most situations and give you an edge in business. critical

THE PLANNING PROCESS It’s very important to more clearly define the planning process. Planning involves analyzing your needs in a situation. Planning is something that definitely needs to be practiced and perfected over time. Planning takes time but it’s the key input to

anticipation. Simply put, without planning you will not be able to anticipate a thing! In the examples above I described specific situations where planning led to positive results. In all situations there are certain factors that need to be taken into account in order to make the planning process an effective one. I define an effective planning process as one that allows you to anticipate nearly all potential issues so that less than ten

Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved.

188

percent problems.

of

your

production

time

is

spent

on

reacting

to

Determining the factors to be considered in planning must happen factors control first down in into the two process. We can start by breaking are under of the our our

categories: and

Forces

that

(inside

the

circle)

forces

that

are

out

control (outside the circle). Distinguishing these forces from one another is a very important part of the process. Many

inexperienced business people will spend too much time fretting about circumstances out of their control while not spending

nearly enough time on those things that can be controlled. To be an effective anticipator, you need to spend the majority of your time focusing on things that are inside the circle. Let’s take a moment to look at the forces that are outside the circle. These are the things that we should plan for but can’t control. The weather is a great example of a force that’s outside the circle. Many people are in professions that are greatly affected by the weather. When I was in the military we always had to consider the weather when we were planning an operation. Weather affects visibility and the condition of the ground, which in turn helped us decide how and where we would move our forces. In the energy industry, the weather can give an indication of a very high or low demand situation. The weather can indicate a
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 189

possible energy emergency. As a result, energy industry planners will prepare to meet the changing needs caused by the weather. Weather baseball also teams affects must outdoor monitor sporting potential events. bad Major in league making

weather

decisions whether or not to play a game. These decisions have decided financial effects on their teams. I’m sure that you could come up with a number of ways that the weather can affect your business. And even though the effect on your business of the may next be different for from of the us effect the on the is

business

person,

all

weather

outside of our control. The simple rule of thumb for dealing with the forces like weather that are outside the circle is to plan but not dwell. As a young business person, I would get upset by too many things that were out of my control. I would spend valuable time

fretting over situations that I had absolutely no control over. I should have spent my time thinking and planning for the next event but my inexperience kept me focused on being frustrated. Over time I learned that if I spent my brain power focusing on things I could control that I would manage my business in a much more effective manner. Successful business people know that being angry or upset at circumstances they out of the their control and

accomplishes

nothing.

Instead,

accept

situation

plan to deal with it.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 190

In order to successfully plan for outside forces , you must take at least four steps. First, know the force. Second, know as much about how it can affect you as possible. Third, make an action plan based on the best information available and the forces that you can control. Fourth, make changes as the situation develops. The key to dealing with forces outside the circle is being in control of the forces inside the circle. The forces inside the circle are under your control and you should spend the lion’s share of your time planning so that these forces can work for you. The forces that are under your control involve the quality of the product or service that you deliver. They involve how you deliver your product or service. They involve how you create what you create. No matter what your business is, you must

consider these forces in your planning process. Back in the days when I was managing a loading dock I had absolutely no control over the amount of packages that came

through on a given day. I could only plan based on the time of year and past experience. This was a factor that was outside the circle. The number of packages certainly affected how I would run things, but not as much as the quality of my team. If one or more of my team members failed to show up for a shift, or if
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 191

everyone showed up but didn’t perform well, it could be a long night. The quality of my team was a factor inside the circle. I had the power to hire, train, evaluate and fire my personnel. I came to know very quickly that even on slow days things wouldn’t run very well if the team didn’t perform. I had some rough days at work until I started to realize that I needed to focus my planning around the team and spend less time worrying if people were going to ship a lot of freight that day. Do you ever spend time worrying about forces out of your control? Do you know all the forces within your control that should be a part of your planning process? Think about these questions. I want you to take the time right now to think about your business and list the major factors that are inside and outside of your circle of control. Describe how much of an effect you can have on each of these factors. If you can’t have any effect on something, then it’s outside the circle. If you can, then it’s inside the circle. Once you’ve made these determinations you’ll know where you need to focus your efforts and you’ll be more prepared to continue with an effective planning process. Once you’ve considered which forces are under your control, you need to think about some important constraints on your

planning.

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192

The four key general constraints are time, money, people and technology. Each of these areas must be addressed for a proper planning process to occur. They are simply addressed by asking yourself some questions and considering the answers. For time: How much time do you have available? Is it possible to extend the amount of time available? For money: What are the costs involved in this situation? What are the limits of my budget? Will I have enough money to complete the project? For people: How many people do I have to assist me? What skills do the people on my team have? Do I have enough people to get the job done? For technology: What technology is available to assist me? Do I have the knowledge to make use of the proper technology? Is there technology that I need to acquire in order to get the job done? These questions are just a start. You need to come up with a list of questions specifically for your situation in order to make the planning process worthwhile.

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TAKING ACTION With the planning process started, you’ve got a big advantage over many other folks who are neglecting to take the time to plan. But planning isn’t foolproof and it isn’t the end of the process. That’s why you need to make sure that you follow up your planning by taking action. Action is the common thread throughout all these concepts, but it’s not always apparent to people that they should pull the trigger and get something done. How many times have you heard or said, “Well I was planning to get this done, but…” BUT YOU DIDN’T! Everyone does that some time or another. Some people skip the action step all the time and they’re left wanting. Some people fail to take action because they have a fear of mistakes.

Remember Lesson Three: It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you learn something from them. I got a master course in the action part of this concept as a tank platoon leader in the U.S. Army. We would spend hours every day at the motor on our many pool M1A1 hours checking, tanks. we rechecking Soldiers and performing constantly preventive all those

maintenance question

would on

how

were

spending Of

maintenance

and

maintenance

training.

course,

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thoughts would go out the window as soon as someone experienced a breakdown in their vehicle. In training and on the battlefield, an armor soldier’s life happens on his tank. A broken-down tank is a depressing

situation that you want to move past as quickly as possible. Those hours and hours of preventive maintenance and training greatly they reduced breakdowns deal and with gave soldiers confidence could that be

could

quickly

situations

that

not

avoided. It was all about avoiding a situation where they would have to be caught off-guard and react at an inopportune time. Sure, there will always be events that you have to react to, but if you’re constantly evaluating your situation, learning, looking for pitfalls and taking action, then you will be way ahead of the game. Action makes the difference between a talker and a doer. Talkers make big plans and are always preparing for their next action. Doers always take their plans to the action step and deal with the results one way or the other. Talkers never have to worry about negatives because they rarely take a chance on a course of action. Talkers are likely to be very critical of folks who act on their plans. Doers handle the results and make the necessary changes in order to be successful. The talker

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gains in the short run by lack of effort. The doer gains in the long run via hard work and experience. In business you need to be a doer and you should ignore the talkers. As a doer you’ll run the risk of being criticized, but you’ll be respected by those who know what’s really important. From my earliest working experiences I’ve been a doer. My first paper route at age twelve taught me the rewards of taking action. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to recognize the talkers in action. In general, folks who fail to follow up on plans develop bad reputations and command little respect in the world of business. In the corporate world I’ve heard people espouse grandiose plans that they would never follow up. I remember being at a team-building event for a large technology corporation I was

working for and listening to an executive hold court about his plans for improving things in our business unit. Everyone was excited and hopeful that these changes would take place and improve the workplace. Months passed, nothing was changed and this caused me and other employees to get very

upset. In a nutshell, that executive lost our respect when he failed to follow up on his plans. The simple point here is that you need to be a doer in order to be successful. Don’t talk about a plan unless you intend to

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try to make it happen. Remember, the only failures in life are those who fail to try. You also need to avoid talkers. Recognize the talkers and avoid them. People who fail to follow up on their promises will cause you problems, either by failing to meet a commitment to you or by other people’s view of you because you are aligned with the talker. I want to wrap up this lesson with an exercise about action. I want you to identify situations in your life where you have gone through the effort of planning and then failed to take action. Write down a few examples of these situations and try to figure out why you held off on taking action. Did you talk about your plans to others? If you did talk about the plan, did you follow up later to explain why you hadn’t moved forward? You want to recognize whether or not you’re acting like a doer

instead of a talker. Honesty in this exercise will help you to recognize your tendency for taking action. It will also help you to understand what’s holding you back from taking action on your plans. Remember the power of anticipation to propel you forward in business. action. forward. By Know your business, to make detailed plans a and take step

taking

this

heart

you’ve

taken

great

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CHECKPOINT

Congratulations on completing Lesson Nine. It’s time for another checkpoint. Look back at lessons seven through nine to reinforce the knowledge that you’ve gained. Make sure that you take the time to do this. The final lesson is extremely important but it will not have a major impact unless you’ve truly grasped the concepts in all of the previous lessons.

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Lesson Ten: Believe In Yourself

“Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours.” - RICHARD BACH

I’m not ashamed to say that as a young man I suffered a crisis of confidence. I had doubts about everything in my life, from my physical prowess at sports, to my attractiveness to women, to my ability to succeed in a career of my choosing. That fact is a shame because knowing what I know now I could have had a different and much more fulfilling past. As we all know too well, the past cannot be changed. We can only change our present and future. Over the years I have gone through a slow, but steady

transformation of learning to believe in myself. My past fears have created some disappointments in my life. That’s fine by me because I feel very lucky to have learned to believe in myself at any age. Many people go their whole lives without really understanding their potential. I realized that I had turned the corner a year after I was discharged from the Army. I had taken a job working for a very large and prestigious technology consulting firm and I was not happy with the experience. I decided to leave my job and strike out for a new experience. When I announced my intentions to my
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 199

boss,

she

immediately

made

an

impassioned

plea

for

me

to

continue working at this company. The last thing she said to me was this, “You’re so very valuable because you can do anything you set out to do. People like you are in short supply.” I

thought about what she said later and realized that it was true. Because her words rang true I knew I was destined for better things. Lesson Ten is the lesson on which all the other lessons are balanced: The greatest goals in life can only be achieved if you truly believe in yourself.

EGO

I want you to say the following statement out loud. I can only achieve if I truly believe in myself. Does it sound silly to you? There was a time when I thought it sounded real silly to me, but that was my ego getting in the way. Your ego is that little voice that pops into your head any time you attempt to pursue something new, different and

challenging. Left unchecked, our ego will run roughshod over the best of our plans and greatly limit our potential. The ego tells us that something we want to do is too hard or will take too long. The ego convinces us that our ideas are ordinary and our

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dreams are out of reach. When our ego has consumed us we wake up in the morning feeling helpless and hopeless. Our potential is limited and one day bleeds into the next. Imagine a prizefighter who can’t answer the bell for the next round of a fight. When the ego has taken over, a person is not ready to deal with the next round of life. The fact that you’ve gotten this far in the book tells me that you’ve overcome some important obstacles, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many more obstacles to overcome. The doubt and fear engendered by our ego is powerful. When I was still a teenager I realized that even the simplest decisions were frightful ones. I agonized for months over

wanting to learn to play the guitar. All the usual thoughts popped into my head. It will cost a lot of money. It will take so long to learn. People will laugh because I’m not good at it. The ego was talking to me big time and running the show. Somehow I mustered the will to get started with guitar lessons and I’ve continued to play for the last sixteen years. How did I fight past my ego? Maybe I’d reached the point where I was so paralyzed that I had no other choice but to try something new. Whatever it was, something clicked. Unfortunately, that experience wasn’t the end of my belief issues.

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Making the move to go from my first job after college to the personal training business was like jumping the Grand Canyon. It was very scary and I didn’t think I’d make it. I thought about it for a long time prior to finally making my decision. I didn’t believe in my ability to change and this cost me precious time. I finally did make the change and after all of my trepidation about the move I realized that it was something that I could handle all along. I slowly began to believe that I could choose the path for each day of my career and my life. What spurred me to belief is still unknown to me, but I can tell you that finding your belief in self is an endless process. Like everything else that requires discipline, you start small and continue to develop it every day for the rest of your life. There are stops, starts and moments of doubt but if you’re

committed to creating your version of success (and I know that you are) then you’ll stay on track.

MEASURE YOUR BELIEF Before we go any further, I want you to honestly assess your level of belief in yourself. The only way I know to do that in a short period of time is to examine goals that you want to

accomplish but haven’t. Take a few minutes to think of things

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that you’ve wanted to accomplish in your career but haven’t yet done so. Better still, think of things that you haven’t even started to act on. Make a list of all the things that you can think of. Then select the top five most important goals in the list. Some possible examples could be: Wanting to learn a new skill,

approaching your boss about a promotion, wanting to go into a completely new line of work, trying to promote an idea that you have, making more money or wanting to start your own business. Whatever your choices are, they’re your goals and they’re very important to you. Now that you’ve chosen your top five unachieved goals I want you to write down the answer to the following question after each one: Why haven’t I achieved this goal yet? After you’ve written that out, I’d like you to write down the answer to this question: What have I done recently to forward the possibility of achieving this goal? After you’ve done this, I want you to really study your

answers. If the reason that you haven’t achieved any of these goals has to do with doubt or fear, then you have some personal belief issues. If you’re not regularly taking steps to achieve these goals, then you have belief issues even if fear or doubts aren’t readily apparent to you.

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Let’s say that you work at a Wal-Mart, make $6.50 an hour, you have a goal of raising your wages to $8 an hour and you really need this extra money. But you haven’t thought about or made any serious attempt to get a raise for months now even though you really need more money. You may say that you have no fear of making more money, nor do you have doubt that you need to make more money. So why haven’t you been taking steps to make more money? The reason is that you don’t fear the goal itself, but you fear the steps that you’ll have to take to achieve that goal. These steps will likely require some kind of change and we all have a certain amount of fear and doubt with regards to change. Once again, the ego is working overtime. The difference between those who achieve their goals and

those who don’t is this: People who achieve their goals find a way to diminish their fear and doubt through belief in

themselves. This thousands example of is just one type of some example of and there will are

other

possibilities,

which

apply

directly to situations happening in your life. I want you to examine those situations as honestly as possible. That said, if you have a belief problem and acknowledge it, you’ve taken an important step to unlocking the possibilities contained in this book.
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GOALS

At this point in the book there should be no long faces on you, the reader. This should be a happy moment. Jump up and scream like a kid who’s learned that they’ve got a snow day because every second that you step forward in this process is one step closer to achieving your goals. Although this chapter isn’t so much focused on goals as it is in believing in yourself, I need to take a moment to explain why goals play such an important part in self-belief. After all, if you really believe in yourself then the goal shouldn’t matter, right? Wrong! Too often I’ve seen my own (and other people’s) hopes dashed by ill-conceived goals. The fact is that no matter how much you believe in yourself you will start to lose faith if you’re met with consistent setbacks. What I’m getting at is the important point that you need to set yourself up for success by setting goals that are, first and foremost, realistic. This doesn’t mean that you should avoid

shooting for the moon, but it does mean that you should consider intermediate goals prior to getting to the moon. Your goals have to support belief in yourself, and in order to do that your goals must BE REALISTIC.
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As a personal trainer I saw many people come into the gym with strong belief in themselves but unrealistic goals. A person would come in and state that their goal would be to lose thirty pounds in six weeks. Without much investigation they begin an ill-conceived program and after only the first week and two

pounds of weight loss they express frustration and begin to lose belief in their ability to get fit. How do we make sure that our goals our realistic? For

starters you can talk about them with your counselor. Do you remember your counselor, that very important person that I

introduced you to way back in Lesson One? If not, then take a little time to go back to reacquaint yourself with the

importance of this person. Your counselor should be able to help put you on the right track. You can also do your own independent research to figure out if your goals are realistic. For example, if you want to become an astronaut, you might want to consult the NASA Web site to get more information on the program and any educational or age

requirements that exist. Read the biographies of past astronauts to find out their experiences and to get a better idea of

whether outer space is where you want to go. In the meantime you’ll also need to SET INTERMEDIATE GOALS.

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Whether you want to be a college graduate, business owner, professional musician, sports star or astronaut, you’ll need to set goals that you can reach in the short term. Turn a journey of a thousand miles into individual steps and it becomes much more palatable. Michael Dell didn’t wake up one morning in his dorm room and say, “I want to be the CEO of the world’s largest direct marketer of personal computers by the end of the month.” He probably starting out by wanting to build and sell a

couple of systems, then later move into a small office and build the company one step at a time. This approach helps us build our skills and achieve goals while reinforcing a belief in

ourselves. Let’s stop for a short time here and take a look back at those five real important goals that you chose in the last

exercise. I want you to build on each of those by adding several incremental goals to each ultimate goal. Write in time frames for each intermediate goal as well, starting with things that you can accomplish sooner and moving toward the more complex goals that will take longer. The more you break a larger goal down into intermediate goals, the better you will feel about the process and your belief in self will be greatly strengthened. As a tank company executive officer in the U.S. Army, I can remember being responsible for understanding all the systems in
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 207

the M1A1 tank. The M1A1 tank is a large and very complex piece of machinery, and considering the whole vehicle at once made my stomach turn. I had no choice but to learn so I broke the tank down (in my mind of course) into a number of logical sections and spent a week focusing on each section. I read manuals, asked questions and generally absorbed all the information I could handle on that area of the tank. Within a couple of months I had an incredibly strong knowledge of how the vehicle worked from top to bottom and I felt very confident that I would continue to be proficient to the level of expert. The same philosophy of breaking goals down into smaller parts has helped me immeasurably in the areas of playing and writing music on my guitar. I like to break songs down into smaller parts, mastering each part before moving on to the next part, until I have the whole song down pat. Whether you’re deciphering the inner workings of a tank,

writing songs or training for the space program, breaking larger goals down into smaller ones will help you to believe in

yourself while pursuing larger goals. If you’ve heeded the advice I’ve given so far you should be in pretty good shape, with some goals identified and a good idea about how to make those goals seem more attainable. There is one more pitfall in the goal process that can’t be ignored.

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In Lesson Seven I discussed evaluation and its importance in this philosophy, so naturally I expect that you’ll be evaluating the progress that you make on these goals. There is a huge

pitfall in goal setting that many people, especially those with crises of confidence, fall into. I’ve seen (and personally experienced) this pitfall in so many different situations from my days as a paperboy to my time as a personal trainer and in my stint as a restaurateur. The pitfall goes like this: You set goals for yourself but you look at other people or businesses to measure the results. Let me explain this with some examples. When I was a

newspaper delivery boy I wanted to deliver as many papers as possible. My goal was to have a bigger route so I could make more money. I’d see other delivery boys with baskets full of papers, a lot more papers than I had, and I got very frustrated, even though I was steadily increasing the number of deliveries on my route. It felt like I was running on ice since I couldn’t catch up to some of the other deliverers. Years later, when I was running a restaurant, I had several plans happening to increase

business, including one for Sunday brunch. We started out with only a handful of customers for brunch and after a few weeks we had more than doubled that number to around 15 customers. I should’ve been satisfied that we were
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 209

moving in the right direction, but I looked over at a restaurant down the street and noticed that they were hosting over a

hundred customers for every Sunday brunch. I was frustrated and for a moment I started to think my plans were hopeless. I had to stop and remind myself that we were steadily improving. My plans were working but they would take some time. My point here is this: If you measure the success of your goals based on someone else, then you always feel like you’re failing. People who’ve moved to the next level and have strong belief in themselves know that it pays to MEASURE AGAINST

YOURSELF. Have you ever set goals for yourself and then gotten

frustrated because someone else appeared to be ahead of where you wanted to be? I think that everyone does this at some point in their life and it can lead to great frustration. In the gym people say, “I’m not as slim and toned as she is and I’ve been exercising for months. It’s just hopeless.” At work they say, “He just got his second promotion since I’ve been here and I haven’t been promoted yet. This is a dead-end job.” Business owners say, “They’ve got twice as many customers as we do. We’re doing everything wrong.” At the university students say, “She’s in the best sorority on campus and has a GPA one point higher than mine. I can never compete with that.” This goes on and on.
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Measuring your progress based on others will definitely sap your belief in self and give you an unclear picture of YOUR true progress. The main reason why this is the case is the fact that everyone’s circumstances are different and as a result the state someone else is in has nothing to do with you. Other people who appear to be doing better (or worse) than us are in a different place with different circumstances and, as such, don’t portray an accurate picture of our situation. Let’s take the slim woman in the gym, for example. When the person who wants to reach a certain level of fitness sees that woman and gets frustrated, there are a load of things that she probably doesn’t know, like how long she’s been exercising or what her eating habits are like. Maybe the woman who looks more fit uses drugs or other

shortcuts to make herself thinner. In the meantime, all this time and brainpower used up on envying others could be focused on positive things like an honest evaluation of your progress and actually doing some exercise. The business owner who frets over the competition’s apparent success would be better off spending her time refining her own business plan and not worry about how her competitor did this week. Remember, YOUR GOAL IS TO MAKE YOU BETTER, and not try to engage in some sort of a horse race.

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If all of this seems quite distracting, then you know that it’s a function of the ego involved here. Our ego does its best to keep us away from change and improvement and measuring

against others is one way that the ego achieves this. The only way to defeat this is to make a conscious effort to measure all of your goals based on yourself. Work on your

intermediate goals and achieve small victories every week. Stick to your plan. Talk to your counselor. Avoid considering what others are doing with regards to your progress. These are your goals, so live them for yourself.

ENVIRONMENT

The

next

key

ingredient

to

believing

in

yourself

is

your

environment. When I say environment, I don’t mean your physical environment but rather your emotional environment. This is the environment that is created by family, friends, co-workers and anyone else whose opinion matters to you. Does your environment foster belief in yourself, or does it foster doubt and fear? This is a tough question to ask because oftentimes people with a belief problem are hindered by those closest to them. When I was first developing my goals and dreams as a teenager I always valued the opinion of my parents and they always seemed
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to steer me in the direction of the route that they felt was safe. As I got older, the safe routes were usually counter to my adventurous goals. Mom and Dad didn’t mean me any harm, but in their own way they were reinforcing my erroneous belief that I had limited capabilities. Later in life, my friends and co-workers were key figures in shaping my emotional environment. I had grown up around a group of kids who became abusive adults in a way that seemed innocent at first but then turned very ugly. My close group of friends seemed to be bent on tearing each other down to the point where there would be fistfights over the slightest comment about someone else. I didn’t fit well into a group with that attitude but I’d grown up with these people and didn’t know what I would do socially without them. Once again, my emotional environment caused me to be fearful and doubt

myself. The negative attitudes that cause you to doubt yourself will find you at work as well. My varied work experiences over the years have exposed me to a wide variety of negativity from

people who obviously felt helpless themselves. At times this negativity has dragged me down and it can

certainly drag you down, too. Most of us don’t even realize how damaging our work environment can be to our psyche. The fact is

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that if you’re not confident at your chosen profession, then you won’t be able to have the success you want. You can identify a bad situation at work by paying sharp attention to your co-workers and business associates. Listen for the people who are always complaining. Look for those who yell and berate people while doing their business. Watch out for

folks who put down your ideas without any rational reason for doing so. These are the people who are eroding your confidence in the workplace and you should avoid them. Do any of the things I’m describing sound familiar to you? Ask yourself this question once again: Does my environment

foster belief in myself? Ask the question three times and each time I want you to place the following words in between the words “my” and “environment”: work, home and social. Write down the answer on a piece of paper. This is another important

exercise and it may be the most valuable one of all. You see, in order to be able to believe in ourselves from the inside, we first have to identify the forces that are acting on us from the outside, then take action to defeat those forces. If it all sounds very serious then you’re right on track because, as I said earlier, learning to believe in yourself will unlock all of your potential and change your life. To take the exercise a step further, I want you to focus on the areas where you answered “No” to the above question. You’ll
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 214

focus by answering the following question: What is it about this situation that is stunting my ability to believe in myself? More specifically, you’ll want to focus on the people who make you feel less than you are. How do feel when you’re in this

situation? What is it about the situation that makes you feel this way? Focus on these questions and put the answers down on

paper. Our feelings always seem so much more real when we see them in print. I’m willing to bet that this exercise brings out some strong emotions. Keep those emotions with you because you’ll turn them around and use them to build your belief back up to where it needs to be. Before we get there, though, I want you to look at the areas where you answered “Yes” to the question, because while it’s important to examine the negative areas, it’s just as important to examine the areas where your belief is reinforced. Ask yourself the same questions: How do feel when you’re in a positive situation? What is it about the positive situation that makes you feel this is way? just Internalizing as important as and remembering go of the the

positive

moments

letting

negative moments.

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BELIEF ALLIES At the end of these exercises you should create a list of belief allies and belief enemies. Your belief allies are people who make you feel strong and confident, while your belief enemies are people who tear you down and make you feel helpless. You’ll get the best results for improving your belief in self if you increase your exposure to your allies and decrease your exposure to your enemies. I know that this may sound too simplistic, especially if your belief enemies are involved in the most important areas of your life. Don’t worry, I wouldn’t expect you to just up and run from all the people who give you negative feelings. And while you may not be able to decrease your physical exposure to these people, you can decrease your emotional exposure to these folks. You can decrease your emotional exposure by setting filters in your mind. Now that you’ve identified your belief enemies you can place your mind on guard and tell yourself to disregard the negative vibe of those who make you feel bad. In the meantime, you can also tell yourself to pay more attention to your belief allies, thereby gaining more benefit from their positive vibe. It’s important for me to stress that just because someone is a belief enemy doesn’t mean that they are your enemy in life. It does mean that they don’t share the same vision that you have

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for your potential. You can still have a relationship with a belief enemy, but you don’t allow them to influence your belief in self in a negative way. This is serious stuff here because it involves re-thinking your relationships and making great CHANGES in your way of

being. As serious as all this is, it’s very necessary because you’ve got a plan for success and can’t afford any freeloaders on the train. The bottom line here is this: Surround yourself with people who make you feel better about yourself. Your next question is probably, “How do I go about

surrounding myself with allies?” That’s a great question. After all, there are some people out there who may have no belief allies to start with. That’s okay because I’ve been there and I’m here to tell you that you can make it happen even if you’ve haven’t got one belief ally at the moment. Way back in Lesson One I stressed the importance of finding a counselor to assist you in your journey through the business world. The counselor, in effect, could be your first and primary belief ally. If you’ve recently started the process and haven’t found that person yet, it’s OK. It’s not how fast you find your counselor; it’s having the right person that counts. Belief ally is only one role that your counselor will take on but it’s

probably the most important one.
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In order to be able to find belief allies you have to be on the lookout for your allies. In this case, the famous quote “Seek and ye shall find” fully applies. You want to be keeping an eye out for like-minded

individuals. Look at work, look at home, look at school, and look at your church or any other place where you interact with people. These people could be all around you right now. Think of the people in your life who make you feel good about your

decisions. Think of the people that you wouldn’t hesitate to talk to about a new idea or venture. These people are your

belief allies and you need to recognize them as such because you’ll want to keep them around and continue to build your

relationship with them. A light bulb may have popped into your head because you

realized that there are some belief allies that you’d originally overlooked. Or you may be thinking, “No, I still don’t have anyone in mind.” If you answered the latter, then don’t fret. Remember, seek and ye shall find. But rather then just dumping you off there I’ll provide you with an exercise that can help you to find and recognize your belief allies. Ask yourself this question: What type of person helps to foster belief in myself? Write down the qualities that such a person has and even write down some things that they might tell you when you come to them with a new idea, plan or dream.
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 218

Next, you’ll ask yourself: Who do I know that fits my stated criteria? Write down all the names that you come up with. If you came up with no names, that’s fine because regardless of whether you have one name or twenty on the list you should still

complete the exercise. Your next task is to answer the following question: How can I find belief allies to take along on my journey? Think about where you could go and what you could do to bring these types of people into your life. You have to be open to the possibility that new belief allies can show up anywhere and at any time, because they can. If you keep the set criteria in mind you’ll know when someone fits the bill. Mark my words, once you

recognize the first one then many more will follow. You’ve done a lot of work so far while reading this book. You have a pretty impressive set of tools to work with. You’re ready to slay the ego and break through that invisible barrier to belief in self. I want you to go back to the beginning of this chapter now and read it again. Read the chapter and continue to absorb the concepts put forth in it. Do the exercises again and see how you feel. I’ll bet that you feel stronger the second time around. Read the chapter a third time if you like. It can only help. Once you’ve reinforced the material contained in this chapter we can take the last few steps on this journey.
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VICTORY OVER FEAR At the end of the day, believing in yourself is ultimately about victory over fear. The ability to defeat fear stands solidly between you We and take your our success fears in life and in the we go world and of our

business.

with us

wherever

places of work are no exception. Even if you follow all of the lessons in this book, fear can still hold you back. It’s that strong. As a child, I can remember having the same ridiculous fears that all children have. I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of certain scary movies. I was afraid of the monster under my bed. We all have fears like that as children. As we grow older we get braver about those things but we tend to replace the child fears with other adult fears. That’s

exactly what I did. I gradually replaced my childish fears with things like fear of failure or fear of being ridiculed by

others. Fears such as these tend to feed on themselves. They are heartily assisted by the ego and people never naturally grow out of them. My fearfulness led me to make decisions that pulled me away from the things that I really wanted in life. As I reached my late teens and early twenties I could feel myself being pulled

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further and further from my dreams at a time when I should’ve been as confident as ever. Have you ever felt like this? Have you ever been driven by fear to make a choice that was counter to everything you really wanted? Read the news to see so many examples of other people turning away from all that is right for them as a result of fear. People turn to drug abuse because they fear both emotional and physical pain. People turn to ruthless business practices because they fear losing their jobs and their status in the world. People ignore their families and focus on work without any balance in their lives. All the while they are being drawn away from the things that are right for them in this life. Is fear holding you back from achieving in business? If

you’re not careful, fear can and will hold you back. Fear will have you turn to decisions like taking a job you know is wrong for you just to please others. Fear will prevent you from

speaking your mind on a situation that you truly believe in. Fear will prevent you from striking out on your own to start a business. How has fear held you back in business? Think about it. All this talk about fear can make things sound pretty dismal. Fortunately, things are going pretty well for you. If you’ve gotten this far in the book you’ve achieved a lot and you’re
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 221

obviously motivated. The good news is that you can beat fear and open up amazing possibilities in the process. Beating fear is not an easy task. It takes not one battle, but a series of with ongoing fear,” battles. place These battles, your or

“confrontations

take

throughout

whole

life. They continue to take place because fear never really goes away. It just manifests itself in different forms as you grow stronger and your life changes. Confronting fear requires

stamina, belief and a whole lot of heart. I first confronted my fear out of sheer frustration. It seems as though extraordinary circumstances are required in order to jog us out of our pattern of accepting fearful circumstances. For me, the extraordinary circumstances involved feeling

completely helpless at my first job after college. I felt like my whole life had been decided and that really depressed me. This helplessness had a very strong effect, though. It

spurred me to want to investigate other options for my future. These options would include a different path than the one that I saw as inevitable. Fear still held me back. I hesitated for months as I slowly began to get ideas of things I could and should do to move my life in the right direction. I slowly began to take action. I gained confidence from small successes. You can use the same techniques I’ve used to beat the fears that are holding you back. Set small, realistically achievable
Copyright 2004, Robert J. Safuto. All rights reserved. 222

goals.

Once

you

achieve

a

few

small

things

it

becomes

much

easier to move on to bigger endeavors. Once I had a few small successes, the confidence I gained allowed me to spend more of my time figuring out what I wanted and less of my time worrying about what other people wanted from me. It was around this time that I began to think in earnest about new career choices. For you, this means starting to take personal control over your life situation and making your own choices. The things that everyone else wants you to do are not as important as what you know is good for yourself. Just knowing that I had some sort of control over my life made me happier and less fearful. I was able to then trust my instincts and take the next step to actually decide to leave my job as a shipping manager so I could become a fitness trainer. Many people might not consider this step a big deal, but any person who’s been paralyzed by fear knows that it is a huge accomplishment to make a bold career change while in a fearful state. This step signified a victory in the battle over my fear of changing paths. I later realized that the previous steps allowed me to confront my fear of changing my life’s path. So the next step for you is to confront the fear that is holding you back and take a big step forward.

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Confrontation of your fears is probably the hardest part of this process. Have you ever had to speak in front of a large audience? Have you ever had a serious illness that threatened your life? These are situations where people must confront some of the more acute fears known to humans, public speaking and death. These are moments where big steps are taken and important decisions are made. If you talk to people who have faced situations like speaking before a large audience or facing the possibility of death, they will tell you how relieved and excited they were after facing these fears. Once you face a fear, it doesn’t mean the fear is gone

forever. It just means that the fear has been defeated for the moment. You see, the same fears are likely to come back again, but your knowledge of beating fear in the past will propel you the next time around and the time after that. The more you

confront fear, the less of an issue it turns out to be in the future. Your victory over fear should be on your own terms and on your own timeline. Only you can have a true understanding of how you are feeling about a certain situation. Now go out and face the world, practice these lessons and watch as a whole new world of possibilities opens up before you.

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THE BEGINNING

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225

Afterword: The Beginning

Every time I get to the end of a book I always think, “What next?” When I enjoy a book I always seem to be left wanting more. My hope is that this book has left you wanting more. If this book has left you wanting more then I feel like I’ve done my job. This book is not intended to be the last book you read about business skills. Rather, this book is intended to spur you on to gather further knowledge and achieve further growth. The ten lessons presented here are very important, but there are many more lessons that you will need to learn. You have to start somewhere, though, and this was an excellent start for you. My recommendation for the first next step is simple. Read this book again from the start. I’m a very strong believer in reinforcing any information that I find to be helpful. The

information contained in this book constitutes the basics for success in business. In life you can never get too much of the basics. The basic things are the ones that you fall back on when times get tough and you’re stumbling. So don’t hesitate to pick up this book whenever you get into a rut and want to break out of that rut. My next recommendation is to continue your quest for of

knowledge and take action to move closer to your version
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success. To help you in your quest I’ve included a reading list that contains a number of very valuable sources of information on different topics. You can’t go wrong by taking a look at some of the books on this list. Somewhere along the way I’m sure that you’ll start a good list of your own. The important thing is that you continue to gain knowledge and move towards your

dreams. I don’t consider this part of the book to be the end of anything. I consider this to be a beginning for both you and me. I wish you the best in your quest and hope to meet you sometime soon.

Robert J. Safuto August 2004

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Reading List

I’ve

found

the

following

titles

to

be

extremely

helpful

in

guiding the development of my business knowledge over the last fourteen years.

The Artist’s Way. Cameron, Julia. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992. The Road Less Traveled. Peck, Dr. M. Scott. Simon & Schuster, 1978. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey, Stephen R. Simon & Schuster, 1990. Principle Centered Leadership. Covey Stephen R. Simon &

Schuster, 1992. The Winner Within: A Life Plan For Team Players. Riley, Pat. Putnam, 1993. All I Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. Fulghum, Robert. Ivy Books, 1989. Follow Your Heart. Matthews, Andrew. Price Stern Sloan, 1997. Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. Bach, Richard. Dell Publishing, 1977. Ziglar On Selling. Ziglar, Zig. Ballantine Books, 1991. The One Minute Manager. Blanchard, Kenneth Ph.D. and Johnson, Spencer M.D. Berkley, 1982.

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228

The Greatest Salesman in the World. Mandino, Og. Bantam Books, 1968. Made in America. Walton, Sam with Huey, John. Doubleday, 1992. Losing My Virginity. Branson, Richard. Virgin Publishing, 1998. Leading the Revolution. Hamel, Gary. Harvard Business School

Press, 2000. Awaken The Giant Within. Robbins, Anthony. Summit Books, 1991. First Break All The Rules. Buckingham, Marcus and Coffman, Curt. Simon & Schuster, 1999. Leadership. Giuliani, Rudolph. Miramax Books, 2002.

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