Success is not an option. It is your obligation.
So much of our time slips through our fingers because we can’t focus. It is a very human problem that is amplified by today’s electronics and ever-present noisy distractions. We can’t do the work that’s necessary for our success and even pay attention to the people who are necessary for our happiness.
That is the simple message from Grant Cardone, an old-school sales motivator who doesn’t so much train as he does preach. He doesn’t preach a droning Sunday sermon, either. It is a foot-stomping, straight-talking, high-volume “Hallelujah!” that can’t help but get you out of your seat (or on the phone) and selling, which is why he will be the keynote speaker at the InsuranceNewsNet Super Conference, Sept. 26-28 in Chicago.
It doesn’t hurt that Cardone has a Southern-fried accent from his native Louisiana as he riffs through his against-the-grain wisdom. He does not shy away from saying that “advisors” are just people who do not want to admit that they are salespeople.
His direction is hardcore hard selling: If you are not selling enough, you don’t have enough prospects in your pipeline. If you are not successful, it is because you chose not to be.
If you have seen one of his many videos on YouTube and or seen his appearances on news outlets such as CNBC, you know that he is not like anybody else.
For example, Cardone calls buying a house a sucker’s bet, although he got his start in real estate and now owns 5,000 apartments and plans to own 10,000. Despite being a multimillionaire and owning five companies that he says yield $100 million in revenue, he still rents his own residence.
When he is not running his companies from his Miami base, he is out traveling to companies — including Google, Sprint, Aflac, Toyota, GM and Ford — to coach their sales teams.
He often videos himself on the road with his latest thoughts for his eager fan base. He posts those short videos, but he also does other media, including radio and video from his Grant Cardone TV Network operation.
He freely admits he is obsessed with success. In fact, the latest of his seven books is called Be Obsessed or Be Average.
In this interview with Publisher Paul Feldman, Cardone tells how success is your duty, obligation and responsibility.
FELDMAN: A lot of people in our industry don’t see themselves as salespeople. What would you tell them?
CARDONE: I would tell them they skipped a step. They went from maybe being a student and they jumped into business. They’re intelligent, they’re great and they have a great product to represent.
But where’s the revenue piece? Where’s the income piece? The only reason a business fails or succeeds is not the quality of the product but the amount of the revenue it produces. That’s how we measure businesses.
How much money does it make? Even Elon Musk is asked that question every day. Whether he wants to go to Mars, build electric cars or create solar panels, the question is going to be “Hey, Elon, when are you going to start making some money?”
The insurance agent, the financial planner, the small-business owner needs to make money selling a product or a service. Or they need to go raise money, get investors — which, by the way, is a sales job all in itself.
FELDMAN: How about those who recognize that they are in sales but don’t believe they need sales training at this point in their career?
CARDONE: Maybe you don’t need to do it. What you do need to do is understand the game is changing. Entire industries are being disrupted at rates that have never existed on this planet.
Insurance agents, real estate agents, financial planners, dentists, chiropractors are under the threat of either government regulation or industry disruption. There is going to be something happening in these spaces. It’s already started to happen with banks, ATMs and the retail environment.
Where people are not achieving at high levels, they’re going to be replaced by more efficient means. It happened to the horse. I know that was a long time ago, but it will happen to the bank teller, and it will happen to insurance agents. It will happen to financial planners.
Trust me, Amazon’s looking at both these spaces right now, figuring out how they can displace average producers and small-business owners who only make a little crumb. Why go for the crumb when you can have the whole cookie?
FELDMAN: Are people thinking too small?
CARDONE: Unfortunately, this is what most people are doing. Most people have gone into business saying I am better off making $60,000 or $70,000 a year working for myself than working for somebody else.
But it’s not true, and my message to small-business owners is quit lying to yourself. It is not better to work for $60,000 or $70,000 a year, whether it’s for yourself or someone else. Simply, you’re not making enough money to have freedom.
FELDMAN: A lot of our readers would consider themselves solopreneurs. They don’t have staff; they’re doing everything. What advice do you have for people that are in that mindset?
CARDONE: You put a fancy word on it, solopreneur. What does that even mean? It’s made up. Call yourself little baby business boy. Punk businessman. Tiny thinker. Susceptible to big guy.
You’re going to get crushed. You will not be able to provide for your family. That’s what you should call yourself, not “I’m a solopreneur. I’m a business owner. I’m self-employed.” These are fancy words for something.
What does it mean that you’re a solopreneur? Does that mean that you’re the warden and the prisoner? Why would you start a business that never becomes a business? A business is something that’s going to operate whether I’m there or not.
The value of that business is determined by how much money is made and who’s making the money. It shouldn’t have to be me every second of every day. I say this with empathy and understanding because from the ages of 29 and 45, I tried to be a solopreneur, only to find out it is an impossible business proposition.
Smaller is not better. Faster is better. You have to be big as well. You can’t be small today and think that you’re still going to exist in the future.
FELDMAN: What does it take to be great at sales today?
CARDONE: To be great at sales or to be great at anything, you need to make a commitment to something.
I’m not great at sales because I love sales. I don’t know that Tom Brady’s great at being a quarterback because he loves football. A lot of people think “I need to love something to be great at it.” No. You need to commit to it.
I don’t do sales because I like it. I actually hate sales. I’ve written seven books; most of them mention sales. The 10X Rule and Be Obsessed or Be Average really didn’t talk about sales much.
I’ve written 13 bestselling business programs for large sales organizations. There’s not one book or program or speech where I say I love to sell. I don’t love to sell, but I do like to make money. And I love to be successful. And I love growing my business. And I love taking care of my family. And I love hiring new people. And I actually love paying the IRS a lot of money. I love that.
To get those things that I love, whether it’s taking care of my family or getting great schooling for my kids or giving a lot of money to my church, I need to sell to do it.
Average salespeople do not get paid. Not in real estate, insurance, financial planning.
FELDMAN: You say you really need to decide whether you’re going to be a professional or an amateur.
CARDONE: You need to decide whether you’re going to be a maniac.
The people who are winning on this planet are the ones who are out of balance while the rest of the world seeks balance, some harmonic state. People are like, “I’m going to be a hummingbird. I’m going to float.” Look, even the hummingbird’s going 600 miles an hour so that he can keep himself aloft.
Look at the bumblebee. The bumblebee is doing something that is physically impossible. How? Through a lot of activity.
People who do great things on this planet, they have a big support system around them – it’s got to be big. Jesus is still selling today. Tremendous support system. Lots of money. Taking in money every day. You have to. They have to be out there promoting and expanding.
But it all started from a small idea. I’m going to leave my village, and I’m going to go out and I’m going to speak the Word, which is promotion. Jesus was obsessed.
Fast-forward. Look at Steve Jobs. Different kind of dude. Totally obsessed with the idea of Apple. Not the iPhone, but Apple. Changing the way people use technology. Making it comfortable where people are using it and depending upon it every day.
I suggest to people, give up your Mommy and Daddy’s idea about just be happy, just be grateful. Take one vacation a year at the Holiday Inn, where you get a free breakfast. You’re going to fly on points everywhere. You might get an upgrade; let’s hope for an upgrade. And 30 years from now, you pay your house off.
If 2007 and 2008 taught me anything, it taught me that the middle class is one economic break from poverty at any given day.
FELDMAN: How does getting obsessed help people avoid financial disaster?
CARDONE: I would tell people that they need to become obsessed with a lot of things. You need to become obsessed with success. You need to become obsessed with money, finances and new income.
You need to become obsessed with getting known so that people can actually buy your product or service. You need to become obsessed with getting attention in the marketplace. You need to become obsessed with social media.
If you ask your entire audience, “Could you do more than you’re doing now?” I’ll bet you it’s over 94 percent. And the other 6 percent just said no because they don’t like me and want to disagree with me.
They’re thinking, there’s no way I’m going to agree with this dude about anything. That’s because my message is really one that goes against the last 30 or 40 years.
Particularly in America, where we’ve been influenced by psychiatry and psychology to embrace our inner child. Mommy and Daddy are to blame for everything, and we didn’t enjoy our life enough, and that money doesn’t matter, and money won’t make you happy.
Money won’t make you happy, but I’m going to tell you something. Success will make you happy. Success is a game. When you win, you feel good. Everybody feels good. That’s why they stand up and say, “Wow! We did it!”
That’s what I’m really talking about when I talk about money. Money is just part of the way to measure a person’s success.
FELDMAN: And money is the vehicle for doing all of the things that you want to do.
CARDONE: And doing the things you want to do in the future. Mike Tyson gets paid hundreds of millions of dollars to fight, and then he blows it all. That’s not success. That’s regret.
A successful person is also not somebody who makes millions and millions of dollars, then hoards it all because they’re worried about losing their money, and they die with millions of dollars in a bank account. Success is not “I’m successful in my business, I make a lot of money, but my marriage is falling apart, my kids are on drugs and I hate myself.”
I’m talking to people about being obsessed with having everything. All of it. Not balance, but expansion in every major part of your life. To have that, you have to be obsessed. It’s not going to come easily.
FELDMAN: How do you sustain your own obsession? You’re creating, you’re speaking. I see you on social media.
CARDONE: I say yes. When you called up and said, “Hey, can you do an interview with us?” I’m like, “Yeah man, let’s roll.” I say yes. I feed the beast.
The first 30 years of my life, I tried to conform to society. I tried to be everybody’s friend. I tried to be like what everybody else wanted me to be.
Every time I tried to bring it down, simmer down, get less attention, dream less, the sicker I got. I literally got physically sick. I got uncomfortable. I got unhappy. I was irritable. I didn’t like work. I felt burnt out all the time.
By the way, I’m not here to just be me. I’m here to seek my potential. I don’t even know who I am. I want to find out who I can be. Every time I create a new program or write a book, I’m not doing that to try to make money.
I’m buying real estate right now; we own about 5,000 apartments. I’m going to try to go to 10,000. I don’t know if I can do it, and I don’t think it’ll make me happy if I do do it, but I do know this. I’ll start knocking on the door of my potential. I’ll start discovering more interesting parts of me.
That’s what keeps me jacked up. That’s why I’m excited all the time. Half the time I’m excited, I’m scared, I’m curious. It’s like a child. That’s what keeps me interested.
I tried the other way. I tried to be satisfied. I tried to play golf three times a week. I tried all the vacation stuff. But really what I want to do is I want to be productive. At the end of the day, if I’m more productive, I like giving money to charity.
I’ve raised over $115 million for charity. I’ve given almost $20 million of my own money to charities. When the hurricane happens in Houston, I go there and help. When it happens in Florida, I help.
I don’t mean I just write checks. I do write checks, but I get my friends to write checks. Then I go there and throw down and help.
I’m part of a planet, and it needs help, and I can’t help if I’m low on energy and low on money and low on friends.
FELDMAN: How do you keep your level of energy?
CARDONE: No clue. I use it. I use all my old energy, and new energy seems to show up. I think people are trying to save their energy.
Somebody said to me once, I need to catch up on sleep. I’m like, you can’t catch up on sleep. That’s dumb. If you only slept four hours yesterday, sleeping eight hours today doesn’t catch you up on the four hours you missed yesterday.
What people need to focus on is can they do more or not? Could you be more charitable? Could you talk to more people? Could you send out more email? Could you do more on social media? Could you follow up with your customers better? Could you have a bigger smiley face? Could you hug your kids one more time? Could you love your wife a little better? Could you have sex with your partner more often?
Whatever it is, you doing more of it ain’t going to kill you. We look at the things people do too much of — the bad stuff. If I just do more of the good stuff, I will literally suffocate having time to do the bad stuff. Stay so busy that you don’t have time for boredom to set in and start distracting the human being’s potential.
FELDMAN: You talk a lot about 10X. Why is 10X thinking critical to business today?
CARDONE: That was the concept of my sixth book. I was really trying to understand why I had underestimated my ability in life and in business. I had underestimated everything I could do in my life. Some people go out and overspend. I’ve never overspent. I have always underestimated my ability to produce.
All my thinking has been too small from the very get-go. All the thinking in public schools is very small. What do you learn there? Read, write and count. Nobody teaches you to think big.
Even if you’re setting goals, we know the goals that you’re setting are smaller, based on the education that you received.
Look, 76 percent of America is living paycheck to paycheck. Something is wrong with the mindset. To live in America, where you have choices, where people could make as much money as they want to. Yet, almost eight out of 10 people live paycheck to paycheck. Something’s wrong with the thinking.
FELDMAN: What are your thoughts about hard selling?
CARDONE: If you have a good product and a good service, you should be willing to push people hard. I have no problem with pressure.
I do the right thing to people. If it makes them uncomfortable and me uncomfortable, I still do the right thing. You don’t raise $115 million for charity without pushing people, trust me.
Rich people do not give money easily, and they never give you all they can without a push. Diamonds don’t become diamonds because they sit in the earth. They never become the diamond without the pressure. Pressure makes diamonds. Pressure makes targets achievable. Pressure is what will get Elon Musk to Mars.
The greats love the pressure. They get used to playing under pressure. I was at the seventh game of the World Series. Look, the Astros love the pressure.
FELDMAN: What about the softer sell?
CARDONE: In sales, everybody’s like, “I just want you to know I’m not selling anything. I don’t want to pressure you.”
I would never say those things to somebody. I would say, “Hey, I am selling you, and I will pressure you if you show me that you can’t make the right decision.”
Right now, I’m working with a company that does $5 billion in sales. I’m going to get an agreement to get a percentage to take them from $5 billion to $7 billion.
Now, if there’s some goofball in that company, some guy making $80,000 a year that doesn’t like me or is threatened by my technology or my solutions, I definitely will pressure him. I’ll definitely call him out and say he’s an idiot. Because I’m going to take that company from $5 billion to $7 billion.
If somebody doesn’t take that company to $7 billion, the company is going to go to $3 billion, because it can swing either way. If you have the potential to go from $5 billion to $7 billion and you don’t, then I guarantee you’re going to $3 billion.
So, the people in the company need to pressure the company to hit their targets and exceed their targets. That takes people willing to push. You win because you push. You don’t win because you just show up.
FELDMAN: What happens if the buyer pushes back and says you’re applying too much pressure?
CARDONE: I don’t want to pressure you, man. But look, you and the wife are making the wrong decision here.
You’re thinking you’re not going to buy the life insurance. You want to think about it a little longer. Look, you’ve been thinking about this for 30 years. Your wife is exposed right now. Your life is exposed. It’s time to do something.
If I’m selling gym membership and you’re 40 pounds overweight, I am going to say, “Dude, when are you going to do it? You didn’t get 40 pounds overweight in three days. This has taken a lifetime. You’ve known it. This isn’t the first time.”
FELDMAN: Are there any ways to soften a buyer?
CARDONE: I wouldn’t worry about it. The ultimate way to be a great salesperson is to keep a full pipeline. The best salespeople I know have full pipelines. I don’t need to do personalities, tonality, match, mirror. I don’t need to do any of the tricks. I need a full pipeline. Full pipeline means when you say no to me and you walk out of my office, there’s somebody else sitting in the chair after you leave.
That’s why people have to get known. It’s never been easier than it is today to get known. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. These are all instruments. They’re today’s billboards.
The top insurance agent in your city used to have every billboard, every bench. Did radio and TV. Facebook is now that medium to where I get known and I can create a full pipeline.
FELDMAN: What would you say are the most violated basics people overlook when they’re trying to sell?
CARDONE: They don’t even think about making the sale. They think about getting people to like them.
Listen to what salespeople say: “I don’t want to sell you anything.” Well then, what are you doing here? I’m not sure what we’re doing. People say dumb stuff.
The guy wants to be a businessman without being a salesman. The guy at Morgan Stanley wants to be a financial planner. I’m like, “Dude, you ain’t a financial planner. You’re a salesman. What’s the problem here?”
The problem is you’re at a barbecue and you don’t want to tell somebody you sell financial instruments. You want to tell them you work for Morgan Stanley.
Basically, we’re 11th graders. “I’m on the football team.” You’re more interested in impressing people with your title than you are impressing yourself and your family with your finances.
I’m a dad. I think I’m a good dad. I want to show my kids that I am actually Superman. They think I am. Now I need to prove to them I am.
The way I do that is I take care of them. I don’t take care of them just because I get them a place to live. I take care of them because if something happens to me, their financial life is not going to change because I’m not around any more.
What happened in my life is that when I was 10 years old, my dad died. When my dad died, our entire mode of operation, everything in our household, changed because the next week, a check didn’t come in.
My dad was a successful guy. My dad worked hard every day, but he did not do enough to take care of my family after he died. A little bit of life insurance, just enough that my mom never had to work again, but not enough to where my mom wasn’t scared every day.
FELDMAN: You also have different ideas about time management. What are your thoughts on that?
CARDONE: I think the idea of time management is ridiculous. I’ve been around some unbelievably successful people. They’re not trying to manage time; they’re trying to create it. They figure out ways to create time. They figure out how to buy time. That’s what people should be doing.
How can I buy time? Some people would say time is not for sale. Dude, that’s not true. I don’t want to manage it any more than I want to manage money. I don’t want to manage money. I want so much money I don’t need to manage it. I want to create.
I want a bigger social presence. I want more customers. I don’t want to just manage the ones I have.
Look at Amazon. Amazon is not managing what they have. They’re going out and acquiring everything they can.
That’s where we’re at today. People need to think bigger. Everybody needs to go exponential rather than thinking about being a manager. Why did we go from business owners to managers?
A manager is many levels below business owner. The business owner, the entrepreneur, is the guy or gal who is putting time and energy and resources at risk to expand with a product or a service or an idea. That’s a long way from being a manager.
I don’t know what happened that all of a sudden we’re managing time, we’re trying to balance our lives.
You go from this gung-ho entrepreneur to a guy talking to me about being a Buddhist monk. Which one you going to be, man? I want to own the mountain and rent it to the monk.