Nuggets for Your Notes: On Motivation, Gratitude, and Doing Better Business

It warms my heart when sales leaders and business owners reach out to me for advice on motivation. My friend, Steve Richard, once said, “You can’t coach people who don’t care” — so when people ask, I don’t take the requests for granted.

If you need a bit of motivation, here are some “nuggets for your notes.” Bookmark and refer to them on dreary days, or when you’re already energized and want to level up.

And always write down action items alongside your notes. Doing what you say you’ll do is very powerful.

First, take a deep breath. Notice you were able to do that without feeling pain. That is a gift. Look at what an amazing place you’re in (whether it’s the city, the office, your home, anywhere). Recognize all the beautiful, talented people you encounter, and the multitude of opportunities at-hand. Each deep breath fills your body with oxygen, with life.

You are wealthy beyond imagination. If you make $60k a year, for example, you’re 78x wealthier than 1 billion people. This puts you among the top 1.5% wealthiest people in the world. A billion people earn less than $762 a year. Keep this perspective.

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Every hour of the day, practice gratitude with a simple, silent pause. Wiggle your fingers. Smile wide. Open your eyes. Concentrate on listening to the sounds around you, noticing their flow. Think of all you’ve accomplished, and all who’ve sacrificed time to help you get to this very point in life. Honor that journey.

Create anticipation when you reach out to prospects. This comes from my experience drumming in a rock band for over 20 years. From creative promotional fliers, to specific songs playing overhead (as patrons enter the venue before a performance), to thank you calls and emails the day after a performance, always build momentum. Get people excited to see you and be with you, and you’ll both win. There is power in anticipation. Create that swirl with your prospects and clients.

Find (or remind yourself of) your purpose. US Navy SEALs call this a trigger: it’s the one vivid picture in their mind that pulls them through the darkest, most life-threatening times. Who or what is your trigger?

Set order before there is confusion. ICU patients undergo an average of 178 tasks during their hospital visit. Medical staff mitigate the risk of losing patients through checklists. Hone-in on what checklists you need to succeed. Often times, it’s the most fundamental step that’s missed, which is often the most critical.

Design your life. Own your calendar or it will own you. Take control of each hour, each day, each week. It’s simple: there are people you’re waiting on, and people waiting on you. Start there, and every task will fall into place. Learn to say no to meetings, calls, and events that don’t serve your mission.

Practice self-awareness at all times. You are constantly setting an example. Your colleagues, peers, clients, or bosses may never tell you how you’re (negatively or positively) influencing them, but you are.

Double down on your strengths. You possess unique strengths, gifts, and experiences like no other. Give us the best version of you, or you sacrifice all you’ve been given. Pay zero attention to your weaknesses or areas of improvement.

Opportunity favors the one in motion. A common practice in jiu-jitsu is to constantly move. Motion causes emotion. Be accessible to your marketplace, make it very easy for people to correspond with you, and correspond right back.

You are in the service business, so serve. Leverage Metcalfe’s Law, which says, the larger the network, the more powerful. Those who need you will know you’ll get it done, because you’re always moving forward.

Each of us needs all of us, all of us need each of us. De La Salle High School’s football team holds players accountable:

“The most famed method the coach uses is something called commitment cards. Players will commit to something and write it on 3x5 index cards. At the team meeting the night prior to a game, a player will exchange a card with another player. They are now accountable to each other.

If someone writes: “I will make seven tackles,” his partner has to make sure he does. If he doesn’t meet his commitment, he must explain why he didn’t at the next meeting.” Try using commitment cards with your team at work.

Know where your company came from. Visit the Wayback Machine to get a glimpse of where your company (and you, as a part of the organization) came from. Sweat equity + branding + repeated, excellent service = dynasty.

Success leaves clues: if you built the business, continue to model your favorite founder’s attitude, hustle, drive, and outcomes; and if you didn’t build the business, emulate the resolve of your founder.

Stop rushing. You can still maintain a sense of urgency without rushing. Where do you need to be but right here, right now? It’s not quantity of life, but quality. Too many salespeople, for example, rush to get that promotion, only to soon find themselves on a performance plan, because they skipped past the fundamentals.

The best players master the basics — the bounce pass in basketball, the vertical kick in swimming, or “taking dead aim” in golf. Never stray from the 101 stuff.

Focus on them, not you. I’ll continue to promote this approach. Please, for the love of God, start attracting business vs. pursuing business. Your clients and prospects need answers from a trusted advisor who has earned credibility and rapport. Earn it by adding value to the marketplace (providing service that drives referrals, writing and speaking, articulating industry / market issues you’re clients can overcome with you involved).

For today, practice giving…and expecting nothing in return. Russell Simmons once said, “people let themselves be known through their work.” Over time, “they become indispensable.” Work hard, take massive action, and never lose sight of your desired outcomes. The money will come, but focus on helping people get what they want. Period.

Stop judging your clients and prospects. They’re in their own way and are seeking your help. You and your team must build a groundswell of anticipation, so your clients and prospects get excited about the vision, and all the possibilities your offering will expose. Help them gain market share, drive an efficient operation, increase revenue, and beat their competitors, but do it with love.

Tell prospects your objective when you first engage with them. They shouldn’t have to guess why you’re asking so many questions.

For example, if you work for a recruiting firm, you might say, “My job is to find you the best career opportunity I can. If it feels like I’m bombarding you with questions, it’s because I want to tailor your experience and make sure the right people at my firm are involved. Bear with me, but we’re going to find the best place for you.”

Your competition is not defeating you. You’re defeating yourself. For those of you in sales development, if you’re not scheduling meetings, creating new revenue opportunities, receiving referrals, or at the top of the leaderboard, I hate to break it to you — it’s because of you.

The same goes for your teammates. If someone on your team doesn’t hit their number, it’s just as much your fault as it is theirs. You’re either on a team, or you’re a team.

Privately track your progress and accomplishments. No one else, but you, owns your career. You need a “place” to visit, to remind yourself of all you’ve accomplished to get here. Write down every time you’ve taken something from x to y in a given time frame.

Do this in Evernote, Google Drive, or on your bathroom mirror. When times get rough, or when you simply want to take stock of your competencies and successes, refer to your list.

Examples: I hired five people and promoted three in 12 months; I went from sales specialist to sales development representative to account executive in 26 months; I spoke at 2 conferences and on 3 webinars this year; or, I closed business worth $15M in 4 years — you get the picture.

Please pay this forward. It starts small. If someone asks you for advice or feedback, embrace the moment. Invites for “a quick cup of coffee” or “a walk around the block” are small signs that your opinion matters, and are opportunities to serve. Listen and watch for those little signs.

I’d like to hear what nuggets you’d add to someone’s notes. Share some good ones for us in the comments.



Leading the worldwide sales development organization @ServiceNow, Board Member @GableHeartBeats, drummer @seguesounds, happy guy.

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Ralph Barsi

Ralph Barsi


Leading the worldwide sales development organization @ServiceNow, Board Member @GableHeartBeats, drummer @seguesounds, happy guy.