I had a subject in mind for Sales Lesson #3, then something happened last Friday. This lesson was tough to write.
Lesson # 3—Learned from Our 19-Year-Old Son
I was on the phone with our son Jamie. He has one week to go of his freshman year at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. I was giving him a last bit of encouragement.
“How are the grades?” I asked.
“They’re fine. I actually pulled my Accounting grade up to an A,” he said.
“Great! That will help for next year,” I replied.
Jamie took a long pause. Cleared his throat. I knew it before the words came out of his mouth.
“Dad—about next year,” he murmured. “I am not going back to college.” His voice cracked.
I gulped. I needed some time. My parental alarm hit Level 5—Code Red! Running through my mind were all the reasons why this could be a terrible and risky choice. I tried to think of something impactful to say.
I am seldom at a loss for words, but this time I choked. And yet I was not completely blindsided. He’s been hinting of this throughout the year. He has a very strong aptitude but he’s never really been excited about sitting in a classroom (I wonder where he gets that from?). However, he does have a knack for business (I know where he gets that from). He’d started a few small businesses as a kid—snow shoveling, car detailing. Soon after attending college, his roommate introduced Jamie to a few other ideas including affiliate marketing on social media and now they are promoting a trading education platform.
Jamie fills up the silence by saying, “I’m sorry if you’re disappointed, but I need to see this opportunity through. I need to go all in. I won’t let you down.”
This chapter in Jamie’s life is not closed—at least, not just yet. It’s ultimately his choice, but we will make sure he has a balanced perspective to make a decision. However, it does bring up a crucial lesson on how tough it is in business today and what it takes to be successful.
There is a quote made popular by Thomas Friedman is his book The World is Flat that pretty much sums it up:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: When the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
Our son and anyone else who decides to start a business will eventually learn that it takes discipline, stamina, execution, prudence, experience, capital, and a strong network (among many other things) to make a business sustainable and successful. However, one thing for sure is that you’d better be driven. Whether it’s starting a business or performing in a highly competitive sales profession, with enough inner drive, you’ve at least got a shot. Nothing in business happens until a sale is made—and sales don’t get made without someone driving them.
Good luck, little lion. We believe in you.
—Dad and Dee