Last Man Standing
Sometimes the only thing you need to succeed is to be the last man standing. What I mean by that is, you have to be willing to persevere even when the conditions are tough because something better is just over the horizon. If you don't believe in yourself enough to sustain all the ups and downs, you might give up too soon and miss great opportunity. Remember, nothing worth obtaining is ever easy, sometimes you just have to hang in there a little longer and be the last man standing.
I've always been a hard worker. It was really normal for me growing up. I never really knew any difference. Growing up on a farm forces you to have a strong work ethic. I learned at an early age that in order to get what you need out of life, you have to be willing to work for it. I learned that from my Dad, he’s a military man and an entrepreneur. He was always juggling a million things... Leases, businesses, the farm, and obviously his military time. He worked really hard for everything he had. What’s more important is that if you fight for it long enough and hard enough, your break will eventually come.
Look at Kid Rock - he struggled for 13 years before he made it in the music business! Or how about Jennifer Garner? When I was working in LA, I heard a story about how she had her bags packed and her flight home from Hollywood booked when her agent called to tell her she had an audition for the TV show ‘Alias’. What I take from these stories is that life is hard. You have to hustle, you have to work, and you can’t expect things to fall into your lap. Yeah, once in a while luck comes your way, but most of the time you have to earn anything you want. I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty and literally have my fingernails in the dirt. I think if you’re willing to do that, then it will pay off. Yeah, there are a million people out there who are talented, good looking, and skilled at selling, but a lot of the times, for whatever reason, it’s the last man standing that gets the gig.
I remember when I was working as a cocktail waitress in the VIP area of the Hollywood Palladium. There were many nights that were brutal, then one night I met The Offspring. After introducing myself, I explained that I was a singer songwriter. I remember one of the guys in their group saying “yea, you and everybody else in LA”. But, someone in the entourage asked if I had a demo of my work. Then he called me back a couple of weeks later because he had actually put the CD in and listened to it. He said "Damn, you have a voice! You should be fronting a rock band". So, I took my grandma's advice "say yes...you can always say no later"! I'd grown up listening to pickers on a porch - country, bluegrass, and blues music, so this was something completely new, and it was unchartered territory, but I didn’t care because it was an opportunity. At the end of the day, who cares what I was singing, it had to be better than serving drinks!
While I was in the band, I was constantly sending out press packages, faxes, and emails for the band, and we kept getting rejected. "Oh, no one's heard of you", or "you guys don't have a following". Finally, we got a call back from an agent who had been looking for a female fronted band to play a special event over in Europe. Our performance at that show led to us getting more shows and getting to tour across a total of 17 countries! After generating a buzz and a following from touring, we were actually being called by big Hollywood venues like The Viper Room and House of Blues. In a pay-to-play town, we were being asked to play for money. My biggest take away from that time in my life is to be confident in what you do. Keep putting it out there, and it will come back, even when you least expect it.
When I moved into a career selling super luxe cars, I had an opportunity to start at Tesla Motors. I remember being a huge fan of the product and Elon Musk, but the exhausting working conditions were something I wasn't prepared for. It involved: unrealistic hours, no days off, low hourly wage, no sales commissions, and on some days, literally thousands of people would stop in. Our sales team was dropping like flies, and I don’t blame them. I wanted to quit everyday because it was exhausting! But I hung in there. Something in my gut kept me there. I was meeting people and I was learning how to close deals. I was learning valuable skills, and because I stayed there and didn’t quit, I got the opportunity to work at Lamborghini Uptown Toronto. It never would have happened if I had quit! I realized that you have to evaluate where you are and know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. I realized that if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, you’ve just got to hang in there and follow your gut. However, there will come a time when you need to speak up and say ‘Alright, I need to make a move’. That’s when you have to put your money where your mouth is. You have to be ready to walk if you have to, and you’ve gotta know that you’re really skilled at that one thing. Make sure you're really ready, but if you are, then don't be afraid to move onto the next thing.
If you’re not there yet, that’s okay. Read books, pay attention, and listen to what people tell you! One of the biggest things I've learned in sales, is that people will give you the cues. Ask people about themselves and develop a relationship. When I was selling Tesla, my colleagues would ask why I didn’t talk much about the cars, and honestly, I didn’t need to talk about the car. If customers wanted to ask questions about the car, I had the answers. But the majority of the time, people want to talk about themselves. They’ll tell you about their life, then you take those clues and find the right product for them.
For me, confidence in myself came from hustling and struggling. I wasn’t going to stay in a job where I had no social life, no family life, I was sick, exhausted, and I was only making $13/hour. I thought ‘you know what? I’m going to close a sale with everyone I come in contact with’. I knew that in my career, I had to eventually be with exotic cars and eccentric people that think outside the box. I thought ‘alright, I’ve got to hone my skills here, become the best, and the confidence will come so that I can move up the ladder’. I was going to prove to everyone that I could do it. But to get there, you’ve got to want it. I've realized that confidence is figuring out your own style. Just because someone sells
one way, doesn’t mean it will work for you. The tactics are the same, but you need your own style. Once you develop your skills, confidence and hone in on your own style, you'll be ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
So the next time you feel like throwing in the towel, ask yourself whether you are giving up on the one yard line? If you want it bad enough you’ll endure and before you know it, you'll score that touchdown. Sometimes you just need to be the last man standing and opportunity will present itself.