OK, so you don’t have a medical degree . . . or a law degree . . . and it doesn’t look as if you’re going to become CEO of a Fortune 500 company. What can you do NOW to put yourself on a fast track to achieving success in a high-income career? Here’s what I would do: I would figure out what line of work I’d like to be in and then become an expert at some aspect of it that would make me a lot of money. What business or profession could that be in your case?
Well, if you are already committed to a career, and you like it well enough, you could stick with that. If, on the other hand, you hate your work and everything about it, as well as everyone connected with it, you should look for greener pastures. But for the moment, let’s say you work as a bookkeeper for a new-car dealership and are not satisfied with your $30,000 salary. You could dream of owning the business, but that’s not likely to happen any time soon. You need money to own a car dealership. Money you don’t have right now.
For the immediate future, you have to set your sights on something that is attainable. So, look around. Aside from the owner, who else is making good money? Well, the sales manager is bringing down a steady $70,000 a year. That’s not bad. And then there’s Joe, the No.1 salesman, who is making even more than that. You check it out and discover that you can’t be the sales manager because the company has a firm policy of hiring only MBAs for that job.
So that leaves you one option: becoming a salesman and going on to claim Joe’s spot as Numero Uno Salespro. You could tell yourself, “Forget about it! I am not a natural, and God only knows it takes a natural schmoozer to sell cars.” But if you are smart, you will recognize that selling cars, like almost everything else in life, is a process that involves no magic — just specific actions, each of which can be studied and then learned. Let’s say you become friendly with Joe and eventually gain his trust. You take him out for a drink one evening and get him to open up and reveal his secrets . . . the things he does to consistently outperform (and out-earn) every other salesperson.
I’m not an expert at selling cars, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the conversation went something like this:
Joe: “If I’m selling to a couple, I always shake hands with the man first.
That way, he feels important. Something he needs to feel to make the decision I want him to make.”
You: “That’s neat, Joe. What else?”
Joe (smiling): “One thing I never do is say, straight off, how much a car costs.
If, before I’m ready to close, a customer pops the ugly question, this is what I say: ‘Let me ask you something, Mr. So-and-So, how important is it to you to drive a car that is safe and comfortable for your family?'” And then Joe would tell you a few more “things” he always does. Now, these “things” individually may not amount to all that much.
But put together in a single presentation, they add up to this: how Joe manages to be the company’s No.1 salesperson, month after month after month. Since that — becoming as good as Joe — is your goal, these specific “things” he does are the secrets you need to learn. The great salesman, you now understand, is not somebody with supernatural powers but an ordinary person with specific, valuable knowledge. The same is true of any moneymaking profession.
People who actively earn high incomes do specific things that result in some desired outcome — a sold car or a perfectly designed microchip, for example. Most people who aren’t financially successful don’t understand this. They feel they are adequately educated and blame their poor circumstances on factors that are either unrelated or only marginally related to their lack of success. They say their bosses don’t like them. They claim to be victims of racism, gender bias, or prejudice. They say they are not understood. Or not properly appreciated.
If you find yourself talking that way, do yourself a favor and stop whining. If you start today by identifying a specific, high-paying job that you want to do, you will have taken the first big step. Figure out what you want to do and then promise yourself that you will become an expert at it, even though you have no immediate prospects of doing it. Starting tomorrow, learn something about that job. Find out what it takes in terms of hours and days. Find out what it typically pays and when it pays more and why.
Ask about the daily routine, the common problems, the biggest challenges, and the best rewards. Ask. Observe. Read. Keep it up, day after day, until you start to feel as if you understand the job. Then accelerate the process. Approach those, perhaps from other companies, who do the same job. Tell them what you know and ask their opinions. Admit your ambitions to them. You’ll be surprised at how much they’ll tell you.
As you become more and more of an expert, it will start to show — even if you don’t intend it to. You will be more informed. More confident. You will speak with greater authority and more clarity. People will begin to treat you differently. They will gradually come to regard you as a person who deserves their respect. You may find them asking you questions, seeking your advice. You will notice that your boss and other “superiors” will look at you and talk to you differently. Ultimately, you will no longer feel ignored or unappreciated.
Then, one day, the opportunity will assert itself. A job will open up. And you will be called in to fill it. Why? Because the word will already be out. You will have already demonstrated that you are “perfect” for the job, and so the decision to hire you will be an easy one. In the case at hand, you will be hired as a car salesman because you know the cars — cold — and you know their prices, and you know the selling protocols and procedures, the company requirements, the legal requirements, and so on.
Your next goal will be to outsell every other salesman. And you will do that by, again, studying the specific actions of the best salesmen and then learning those specific actions until you know them completely. That will give you the confidence to use them. And in using them, you will get the reward of seeing them work — and that will give you the motivation to continue. Before you know it, you will be at the top of the heap — earning the kind of money you are right now only dreaming about. And then you can start making promises to yourself. First to make a hundred grand. Then a million. Then 10 million. After that? Anything is possible.