Extreme or Inappropriate? How to Manage an Edgy Conversation
BY Tom Searcy
If you worry too much about being accepted, you won't be following your passion--and making a real difference.
Daniel Waldschmidt is one of the most aggressive and fresh thinkers that I have had a chance to interact with in the sales, sales consulting, sales training and sales development in the market place. He’s an aggressive blogger and an advocate for “edgy” conversations.
He brings to all of his dialogues a background in significant sales, management, leadership and explosive growth for the companies that he’s owned and managed–and now for the companies he works with in his consulting practice.
What does “authenticity” mean in the world of selling?
As soon as I hear someone use the word “authentic,” I know they’re full of crap. What we’ve forgotten about authenticity is that you can’t do things to be authentic. It’s not something you do; it’s something that is.
It reminds me of the old TV show, Dallas, where J.R Ewing said, ‘Once you’re able to fake integrity, the rest of it’s easy.’
That’s exactly right. As soon as you start manufacturing it–”I’m going to be authentic and here is my 5-step program”–then you have proven how much you don’t get it.
Don’t be a jerk, don’t be selfish, be kind, love other people, and talk about the real stuff, the stuff that is really gritty. That’s what most of us don’t talk about, right? We try to pretend like everything’s OK. Look at our performance. If we’re all good, how come we’re not doing so well?
You talk about “edgy conversations.” What does that mean?
As I look at companies that are successful … They all exhibit extreme behavior, they all exhibit a disciplined activity, they exhibit a giving mindset and they all have a human strategy. All four of them are important. When I say edgy conversations, I want to have conversations that matter.
Let’s just stay on the point of extreme for just a second. How do you separate edgy or extreme from inappropriate?
One man’s aggressive is another man’s inappropriate, right? It’s almost like flirting. If you flirt and the other person flirts back, then you’re OK, right? But if you flirt and they don’t, then, oops, you’ll get the call from HR.
I don’t really care about the line, and maybe I should, but you know, did Mahatma Gandhi look at what was inappropriate when he said ‘I’m not going to eat until you give me independence?’ Did he? I don’t think he did.
That’s where we’ve lost our magic in business. We’ve decided that we want to be accepted by others, we want to be appreciated by others, right now. [We focus on] immediate gratification, rather than doing the things that make us immortal.
Steve Jobs is another one of those unyielding, uncompromising, aggressive, ‘edgy,’ immortal people. But every one of those people spent their time in the desert: They were ostracized; they had moments of self-doubt. Many sales people feel right now as if they are in their own desert. How can those people find their power voice?
One word: discipline. Steve Jobs built a company, got kicked out of the company and returned–and in the years that he was back at Apple, the value of Apple increased 9,000 percent. During the same period of time, Microsoft increased in value 5 percent. Intel increased 14 percent. It was discipline … It’s what you’re willing to do without until you get there. That’s where you find your center: “I will not just do amazing things, but I will deny myself until I reach the success that every fiber of my being cries out for.”
How can sales people take the first step to dial up their conversation? What would you recommend that they do to take it up a notch?
I think the hardest thing, which is also the place where you have to start, is to love people. It’s hard. We as people have sticky, nasty2 habits, but when you love others you begin this process of loving yourself, and then you begin a process of creating value that others can buy into. I think that’s where you start, by loving someone else.