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What to ask successful business owners

Do you know any successful business owners?
Surely you must. They are all around us.
Identify those you believe might serve as a mentor.
Call them up. Offer to take them to lunch.
Pick their brains.
We’ve picked the brains of people in our industry.
Many are in in the U.S. Some are in other countries.
Pick the brains of any business owner who will sit still.
Just ask:
What do you believe made you successful>
Then shut up, listen and learn.
They like to talk about their successes.
Ask about setbacks and how they overcame them.
Ask them what they have done lately to:
1. Gain new customers.
2. Sell more to current customers.
3. Sell more products and services.
4. Widen their profit margins.
5. Boost their bottom lines?
Listen to their answers to every question.
Take notes. They will feel honored that you do.
For business tips on doing more with less, click here.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about finding balance in your life.

Find a friendly business model

A sure way to succeed is to find a successful business model.
Then model your business on what they’re doing right.
It may not even be in your industry.
We can learn from success in many other industries.
We have taken successful ideas from:
1. Reading the business media. These include:
Success and Entrepreneur magazines. Business Week.
The Wall Street Journal. Selling Power. CEO. B2B.
Publishers Auxiliary. Circulation Idea Service.
2. Friends in our industry who are not in competition with us.
Show up at your industry’s trade association meetings.
Attend their functions and network with fellow members.
3. Friends in other industries willing to share their success.
Their tactics and strategies can be customized for our business.
Make friends with people in business associations.
Attend your local chamber of commerce events.
Develop friendships where you can help them and vice versa.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about what to ask successful entrepreneurs.

TGIF: How to say “Happy birthday”

Pat McBride used to bake birthday cakes for us.
Pat worked with us at the Philadelphia Bulletin.
When one of us had a birthday, Pat baked.
Her speciality: A Harvey Wallbanger cake.
I made one this week for our crew at the Chronicle.
It was my wife’s (our publisher’s) birthday.
Here’s Pat’s recipe, with one small amendment.

Harvey Wallbanger cake
1 pkg. Duncan Hines Yellow Cake Mix Deluxe
3-oz pkg. vanilla instant pudding
4 eggs
4 oz. oil
2 oz. vodka
2 oz. Galliano
6 oz. orange juice
1/4 lb butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup Galliano
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease and lightly flour bundt pan. Make batter with first seven ingredients and pour into a bundt pan. Bake 50 minutes. While cake is baking, melt butter in saucepan. Add sugar and stir over moderate heat until sugar dissolves. Mix in Galliano and set aside. Remove cake from oven and punch 100 holes in top with a toothpick. Pour warm sauce over cake, cover and allow sauce to penetrate over night. Turn cake onto serving tray and slice. Pour coffee. Enjoy.
Pat shared this recipe with us. Thanks, Pat.
Next week we’ll talk about finding friendly business models.
See you then.

What you say is truly important

Please repeat after me: Business people are teachers.
What do I mean? That it’s our job to educate.
Who? Customers, clients, patients, employees.
Among many things, we teach English.
We teach the impact and importance of words.
Sales trainer Tom Hopkins taught me this.
He wrote the classic “How to Master the Art of Selling”.
It was the first sales book I ever read — 25 years ago.
Tom taught me:
It’s not a cost or a price with the customer.
It’s an investment.
It’s not a contract.
It’s an agreement.
Words are important.
They can be friendly — or intimidating.
Investment and agreement are friendly.
Costprice and contract are not.
Never forget that.
For more sales tips, see “How to Peel a Green Banana”.
Click here to read about it.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about a special birthday cake.

Separate the gifts from the givers

Yesterday we talked about your list of those you know.
If you missed it, just scroll down and read it.
Why would you compile a list like this? That’s easy.
Some people you can help. Some can help you.
If you are in sales, almost all of them can help you.
You can help them — to make sound buying decisions.
If you are in another line of work, they can help you.
All are potential customers, clients or patients.
How do you market your services or products?
You now have a great prospect list. Work it.
It helped Jerry Fowler sell prospects their dream homes.
It helped Joe Girard sell prospects the vehicles they wanted.
It will help you sell whatever you’re selling.
Never forget: If you’re in business, you’re in sales.
For more on sales, see our “How to Peel a Green Banana”.
Click here to read about it.
Tomorrow we’ll talk about the importance of language. 
See you then.

Make your list and check it twice

Santa Claus had the right idea. Make that list and check it twice.
Joe Girard started with 150 names and added to it weekly.
Joe’s list enabled him to set car sales records for 11 straight years.
Jerry Fowler built a list with more than 5,000 names.
Jerry sold a lot of homes to prospective home owners.
He also used those names to win school board elections.
Here’s what Joe and Jerry had on their list. You can, too.
First, everybody you know. And everybody who knows you.
It takes time to compile this list. And you will add to it.
Then their contact information. Email and mail addresses.
Phone numbers. Cell. Office. Home phone numbers.
Who they are and your relationship to them.
Finally what you can do for them or they do for you.
What do you need all this information for?
We’ll talk about that tomorrow.
For more tips, see our “Doing More With Less” workbook.
Click here to read about it

It’s not just who you know

I was reminded of an important business principle Sunday.
At a celebration of the life of a deceased friend, his campaign manager said the first thing he asks his candidates to do is to bring him a list of friends with contact information.
Some bring lists of 50 names. Some 100. A few 200 names.
The deceased had a contact list of more than 5,000.
“That was my first clue we might win this election,” the campaign manager said.
Contacts are just as important in business as in politics.
It’s not just who you know. It’s who knows you.
Who trusts you? Who will help you? Do business with you?
Do you have a list? How many names are on it?
If you don’t have one, you’d better get busy.
For more tips, see our “Doing More With Less” workbook.
Click here to read about it.
Tomorrow: Who and what needs to be on your list.

Please help me achieve a BIG dream

Usually on Friday we share a favorite recipe.
Instead, I want to share something far bigger today:
A mission, a goal and a dream you can help with.
Some years ago our family operated a printing plant.
Our son David worked there with another young man.
“Dad,” he told me one day, “Jimmy can’t read.”
That shook me. In our country, someone can’t read?
David himself had problems in school.
He is super bright and super active.
School officials wanted to put him on Ridilan.
We fought them and won. But David had a problem.
He was dyslexic. He had problems reading.
So here’s the mission, the goal and the dream.
My mission is to eradicate illiteracy.
My dream is to help kids with learning disabilities.
My goal is to sell 20 million books.
That will generate $200 million.
We can help a lot of young people with $200 million.
My new book, “Your Life’s Great Purpose” is ready.
You can order a copy at
I will personally autograph it for you.
Help put this book in the hands of 20 million people.
It can cut years off their journey to success.
Thanks for sharing a mission, a goal and a dream.
I hope you have a great weekend.
Monday: An Essential Entrepreneur strategy.

Leadership: Fairness in public education

Charlie Moye had a struggle in public school.
His father Richie found a special school to help him.
Like most private schools, it was expensive.
Richie learned a disappointing lesson.
Other states help parents pay for such expensive schooling.
Not South Carolina.
Richie says he learned that South Carolina would rather pay lawyers to fight you than help you pay for special schooling for a child with learning disabilities.
Is this leadership in public education?
I don’t think so. You shouldn’t’t think so either.
In public education’s defense, lets concede that private schools enjoy an advantage.
They can choose who they admit. Public schools don’t have a choice.
They have to take everyone, regardless of motivation or ability.
How do you feel about a state’s obligation to educate all children?
Should we at least contribute the same amount of money to a special needs child who needs expensive special help?
I welcome your comments.
For more on leadership, see
Click on “Success Strategies”.

3 secrets of advertising that sells

It took me many years to find out what makes ads work.
Here is what I learned in the trenches the hard way.
• Ads that sell explain benefits, not just features.
Don’t list features and assume the prospect will understand.
An ad that says cell phones take photos is selling features.
The ad should show the benefits of a camera in your phone.
For example, you can send vacation photos home to your friends.
Remember: If it’s about the product, it’s a feature.
If it’s about the customer, it’s a benefit.
• Ads that sell put your prospects in the picture.
They talk to him from his perspective.
Don’t just say “This is the best cell phone on the market”.
Say: “Enjoy the benefits of the market’s best cell phone”.
And show them what they can do with it.
Cell phones are full of benefits. It’s what gives them value.
• Ads that sell build credibility and trust.
I received an offer for a book on diabetes the other day.
I don’t have diabetes but I might get it.
The offer said if dissatisfied I could return the book.
It said I could return it even 20 years from now.
Return it for a full refund, no questions asked.
That’s an advertiser with confidence in his product.
Confidence built trust in my mind with:
• Guarantees and warranties.
• No-risk return policies if dissatisfied in any way.
• Testimonials from satisfied customers.
• The publisher’s reputation and length of time in business.
It’s neither rocket science nor brain surgery.
For more on this, see
Click on Jerry’s Books to order my sales workbook.
It’s called “How to Peel a Green Banana”.
Its strategies will help you sell more prospects.
Tomorrow: Fairness in public education.