Yeah, It’s The “New Year’s” Post


“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
– Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
US Artist

Andy’s right, isn’t he? Here’s what I’ve noticed about time. It doesn’t care what you do with it. It just keeps moving. If you choose to sit on the couch with the remote in one hand & Cheetos in the other, time will oblige you. If you choose to ignore it, time will oblige. If you choose you do it differently today, time will oblige that, too.

And that, of course, is why I’m writing.

I wrote it on page 41 of The Tinderbox Tapes:

…then his father hit him between the eyes.

“One year from today your life will be exactly the same as it is today…unless you do something different today.”

I’ll be in Louisiana, Ohio & California this month to talk about this very thing. With each group, I’ll point out the same thing: The challenge with all this “Doing it Different” stuff is that we don’t see results right away. Even worse, we don’t see failure right away, and that’s a shame. If we did, we’d save ourselves a lot of grief. But we don’t. Instead, we fail to make those 5 extra sales calls today & nothing happens. Likewise, we make those 5 extra calls & nothing happens. Not today.
But it’s not about what does or does not happen today. It’s about the cumulative effect of 30 days or 6 months or one year of doing something different each day. How different will things be next year because you do something different today? Just one little thing. One little adjustment. And if you don’t… What will you still be complaining about next year? What will you still be waiting to happen? What will you still be dissatisfied with?
See? Time doesn’t “do it different.” You do. If you choose to do it the same, then this time next year you’ll be doing the same resolution routine you’re doing right now. The trick is to be able to see the future; to elevate your view above today and to see 30 days, 6 months, 1 year from today. (That’s a future post right there)
I saw a post on Facebook the other day that said something like, “I’m opening a gym called Resolutions. The first 2 weeks it will have exercise equipment; then it becomes a bar.”
We all know why that’s funny. The truth is that time doesn’t change things. You do.

My July Column is Out!

My July Column for Benefits Selling Magazine is out. It’s titled, “I Sold Cancer When Cancer Wasn’t Cool.” It’s about the importance of telling your story & being you, no matter what the popular tide is. You can read it on the magazine’s site, along with all my columns this year.

The paper version offers a few extras, so if you’re in the benefits business and don’t yet subscribe, be sure to do so while you’re over there. IT’S FREE! Just click the SUBSCRIBE link at the top of the page.

And with all the changes we’re facing today, I know of no better way to keep up than Benefits Selling.

Thank you, as always, and please share with your friends!

Haven’t picked up your copy of The Tinderbox Tapes yet? You can download it right now for under $5 from your favorite online bookseller, or order a print copy here.

“This was the best book I’ve read all year!” – Chad in South Carolina

Needed this today. Thought you might, too.

Brian Said...

“There is only one thing that it requires real courage to say, and that is a truism.”

— G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), English Writer

I’ve never been a fan of affirmations as a means for helping you change your life’s direction, mainly because they remind me too much of today’s clip. Something just doesn’t ring true about them. If you’re a card-carrying member of The PLU Nation, you agree with me. It’s part of what makes you a PLU.

If you’re not familiar with the affirmation concept, the process is simple. You talk to yourself daily about the kind of person you want to be, even though you’re not there yet. After saying it enough, the theory goes, you’ll start to become that kind of person. For example, if you’re always late and wish to change that, you start each day by looking into the mirror and saying things like…

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Why You Need To Get Rejected

As part of my book release, I’m writing a bit about my journey to publication because whether the new world of your dreams is writing an inspirational novel or making a sales quota, the lessons are the same.

I chose to publish my book independently. It was a business decision, pure & simple. The traditional route is slow & laborious, with multiple gatekeepers. I speak to large groups of people all the time & didn’t want to wait 3-5 years to get a book in their hands that I truly believe will make a difference for them.

I’ve been in sales my entire adult life, so if I have a story to tell & an audience to hear it, my first priority is to find a way around the gatekeeper & directly to that audience!

But in this case, I tried the traditional route first because I was new to publishing and thought it better to follow the herd. Over the course of 2 years, I got an agent, waited impatiently as he pitched it to publishers and then listened to their reasons for rejecting it.

There’s a myth that all Indie authors are bitter about being rejected and thus choose to publish independently to stick it to the man. Not true… at least not for me.

Each time I got a “pass” from a publisher, I got feedback about why. That feedback caused me to rethink and rewrite, which made The Tinderbox Tapes a better book in the end. I like to think that if an editor picked up my book today, they would say, “How come he didn’t send me this book?”

We used to teach our salespeople that practice is just as valuable as a sale. Read that again. It’ll change your life.

We all know that the more you do something, the better you get. And each time you meet with a decision maker & they say no, two things happen:

1. You get some practice

2. You get feedback that will help you make the next one better

So don’t fear rejection. Don’t let it stop you from making that call. Remember that you’re getting better with each no you hear.

Comedians say the tough crowds make you better. If you present “on stage” for a living, you know what they mean. While the good crowds are what we all dream of – the ones who “get it,” who laugh & cry & nod their heads in all the right places and sign the contract at the end of the presentation – it’s the tough crowd that makes us rethink & rewrite.

What do you need to rethink & rewrite today?

I know it’s not convenient to do, but that’s not the question. The question is: Are you capable?

So give it a shot…I bet you’ll astound yourself today!

If you had 6 months…

If you’ve read The Tinderbox Tapes – or even the synopsis – you know that Mike Turner’s dad left him 6 audio tapes to listen to after his death.

Mike sort of dropped the ball on the old man for 25 years, which is where we join his story, so that’s okay.

As Father’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking, “What advice do you want your kids to hear from you & only you? Have they heard it yet? Are they old enough to understand it? If they’re not, are you recording in some way so they’ll be able to access it when they are old enough?”

My advice to my boys is basically what I wrote in The Tinderbox Tapes, so I’ll not repeat it here, but what about you? What’s the best stuff you want to pass on to your kids?

If you had 6 months to live, what “wisdom” would you want to be sure your kids knew – even if you had to record it for them to access later?

Let us know in the comments, and Moms, this is for you, too!

Thank you in advance for sharing w/ the rest of the PLU Nation, and AYT!

What’s Your Story?

It was 2009. The booking agent agreed to meet me as a favor to a friend. I was excited because he booked big name motivational speakers and I had just left a 20-year career to pursue that very line of work, convinced I was the next Tony Robbins… or maybe Matt Foley. (Though my van is parked out at the end of the Wal-Mart parking lot, not down by the river.)

He had promised me five minutes, and we were 30 seconds in when he asked, “What’s your story?”

“Well…” For some inexplicable reason, I hadn’t anticipated the question. As I hesitated, he stepped up to help.

“Didn’t happen to immigrate here with five dollars, two pants and one shirt, did you?”

“No, I-”

“English is your first language, I suppose.” He peered over the glasses perched on the end of his nose. “Ever quarterback a Super Bowl winning team or survive a plane crash? Anything good like that?”


“That’s a shame.”


“Well, in the speaking business, I’m afraid you’re a white dress shirt.”

“I don’t follow.”

“When people call me, they’re not buying a white shirt. They have white shirts all over the organization. They could get one in the next cubicle over for free. For their annual sales meeting they want a striped shirt, or a herringbone, maybe; something they don’t see everyday; something special. If only you were a former Alabama football star and Vietnam hero who played championship ping pong, ran across the country and eventually became a millionaire shrimp fisherman…”

“That was Forrest Gump.”

“And everybody LOVES him! I could book that guy three hundred dates a year…Good luck, son. Call me if you get a story like that.”

I was devastated. I had been in Nashville for a month, and saw this appointment as a sign that God was indeed looking after my family as we began our new journey. Now I felt like Moses as he heard for the hundredth time, “Are we there yet?”

A white shirt, really?

Dude, I spent twenty years with a Fortune 200 company. I’ve got sales and training awards with my name and “#1” on them. I’ve traveled the world as a trainer. I’ve spoken in countries where I needed a translator.

A white shirt?

Heck, I’m in The Smithsonian! Actually, it’s the research archives, which means my stuff is in a box next to the Ark of The Covenant in that really big warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark… but who else do you know who’s IN THE SMITHSONIAN?

A white shirt?

Look, Buddy, God made me special. I know that because Bob and Larry told my kids, and I paid attention, too.

He didn’t make me a white shirt.

Did He?

To snap me out of my pity party, my wife took a Cary Grant biography from the shelf – I’ve been a fan all my life – and opened it to this picture of the gentleman himself. I can’t explain why, but it’s always been one of my favorite photos. There he is; seated on the floor with his legs crossed, in a tuxedo…and a white shirt.

A white shirt is classic. It’s not flashy, but the occasion doesn’t call for flashy. Sometimes a white shirt is the only thing that will do. No shame in that. In fact, there’s a certain healthy pride in that.

So I wrote my book about a white shirt kind of guy & got an agent & fired the agent & finally self-published. And just a couple of weeks ago, I finally released my first inspirational novel The Tinderbox Tapes.

I got an email the other day from a reader in California. He said he’d nearly finished the book in one sitting. Told me I was the next Nicholas Sparks; something I’d never remotely considered, but have since decided I kinda like. Said he was buying more copies to give to friends and family.

Got another one from a reader in South Carolina. He said, “Absolutely astounding! Could not put it down!
I read books in 3 categories: mystery/entertainment, spiritual and business/self help. I would have to classify your book in all three categories. This makes the 14th book I have read in 2012 and I can honestly say, this is the best book I have read all year!”

These were special because they were my first “real” reader experiences. Someone I don’t know reached out to tell me how my inspirational novel had affected him. Have you experienced that yet?

If not, I bet it’s because you see yourself as a plain white shirt. Don’t buy into the hype about all those “special” stories. As a writer, you have a unique story to tell. Whether it’s herringbone or solid, pastel or primary, it’s the story God gave you, and He intended for you to share it.

Sure, it’s scary putting yourself out there. What if people don’t like it? Here’s the thing. We can never know what will happen when we share our story, but we know exactly what will happen if we don’t. There’s a reason we talk about Peter walking on water instead of the 11 guys who didn’t move.

I teach insurance salespeople about “telling your story” to prospects. Can you imagine the power of a compelling story that prompts you to buy insurance that later saves your family from financial ruin?

Your story is the most important thing you can share with the rest of us because we gain encouragement, inspiration and instruction from it. See, we need your story even when we don’t realize it.

And you’re the only one who can tell it, so we’re depending on you to do it.

So, whether it’s a novel, a memoir, a speech, a lesson plan or a sales presentation, what’s your story? You better start typing because we can’t wait to hear it.

(If you’d like, you can start in the comments below.)

Robin Roberts Inspired Me Today

My wife and I wake up every morning with Robin Roberts, and we love her.

Maybe it’s because her dad was a Tuskegee Airman, which is one of the truly fascinating stories in U.S. Military history; maybe it’s her time here in Nashville & the fondness she stills has for Middle Tennessee; maybe it’s the grace she displays with guests, even when the topic is delicate; maybe it’s her history on SportsCenter; maybe it’s just that Southern thing – South Georgia roots and South Mississippi roots aren’t all that different. Whatever it is, we love us some Robin Roberts.

As I was getting ready this morning, I noticed GMA was celebrating Robin’s 10th anniversary (Great memories on that video, btw). At first I thought I’d seen it wrong, but I googled it later when I should have had both eyes on the road, and sure enough… a decade.

Now, before you think you’re losing your mind because there’s NO WAY Robin has been sitting next to George for TEN YEARS, let me clarify. That’s 10 years on the show, not 10 years sitting next to George. That would 2 1/2 years. And she shared anchor duties with Diane Sawyer for 3 1/2 years prior to that.

So you can go ahead and freak out now because you’ve been waking up every weekday morning since 2006 to Robin Roberts at the GMA anchor desk. (Truth be told, it’s been longer than that, but I don’t want to beat you up too badly.)

Why the freak-out? Because, like your kids turning 18 or your 20th wedding anniversary, these milestones are times of reflection, and let’s be honest. If we think about where we were when Robin began waking us up each morning, and where we are today, our response may be less than celebratory.

There’s a great moment at around 5:57 in the segment, when George is reading from the photo book. Did you hear it? Isn’t that something we would all want in our testimonials? “You’ve taught us the most important three words…”

My question is, “What are you & I teaching those around us?”

Let’s do something together right now. Think for a minute about what was on your list in 2006, when Robin became a co-anchor. You don’t have to take all day. Just think about your “someday” list. You know, “someday” we’ll be living where we want to live; “Someday” I’ll be working where I want to work; “Someday” I’ll get my act together; “Someday” we’ll get along better; “Someday” I’ll write that book; “Someday” I’ll learn the guitar; “Someday” I’ll paint again…

Got it? Good.

Now, what’s still on that list? Go ahead and call me “Buzzkill Brian,” but you know it’s time to change some things. What are you waiting for?  In her 2007 book, From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By, Robin says, “I’m a big believer that you have to put yourself in position for good things to happen to you.”

I know you didn’t ask for this on a Monday, but that’s the point. It’s a new week with a fresh start. A new opportunity to do just one thing to move you in the direction of your dreams. Just one thing. We talk about here all the time. Remember this? And how about this?

So, how about today? Remember, “someday isn’t on our calendar, but today is on every page.” Let’s turn someday into today. Let’s write one page, make one call, send one email, buy one flower.

In 5 years, Robin will be celebrating 15 years on GMA. You can be celebrating with her – or not – but 5 years is going to pass either way. Let’s make sure today that you & I have something of our own to celebrate.

I can already hear Robin saying, “Go on with your bad self!”



The Tinderbox Tapes is out! You can get it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Apple and Sony are a little slower, but it’s on its way.