Confucius Says …….

Real Knowledge is Knowing the Extent of One’s Ignorance.”

That’s the way this article starts. Sometimes I think that I should stop writing and just point you to great posts that I find. As I read this article, I remembered do-it-yourselfers who have tried to fix their own plumbing and wound up calling the plumber to fix a big problem, or try fix their own car and wind up making a mechanic rich fixing the resultant screw up, or wind up “injured” with a do-it-yourself exercise program. Whether we think we know more than we do, or we’re trying to save some money the end result might be that we make a bigger problem.

The same thing happens when we start a business. I did things backwards. Many business owners have an expertise, but can’t sell. I.E. – They’re a doctor, lawyer, CPA, franchise owner, grew up in the business, went to school to learn a skill, whatever. So, they could actually fix their prospect’s problem. They may not be able to “convince” their prospect to do business with them, but if they do, they can fix them. When I started in the debt collection business, I could sell, but I knew almost nothing about collecting debts. The result was that I always had more business than I could handle. I collected what I could and over the years had various other collectors and lawyers help me. They made money. I made money. I kept the clients because I could sell. Not because I could collect.

I guess my point is that I’ve seen many business owners wind up out of business, in debt, or bankrupt even though they were experts at their craft. They spent money on advertising, promotion, memberships, and other marketing, but couldn’t close the business when they got in front of the prospect. There’s really only three fixes.

1.) Go out of business now. Get a job before you lose your house.
2.) Hire a professional salesperson or create a partnership with a firm that can feed you business.
3.) Learn how to sell.

You pick! Thanks for the seed Rob!

Consistent Excellence

Most of you know that Elaine and I have a house at Goose Rocks Beach in Kennebunkport. Most of you also know that I like to eat. All of you know that I appreciate people that are good at what they do. This post is about all three.

We eat out a lot and over the years, we’ve enjoyed many excellent meals at the restaurants in the area. Several years ago, Elaine and I took Craig and Nancy to Windows on the Water in Kennebunkport. I won’t get into their background, but, trust me, Craig and Nancy know good service, fine food and wine. After the meal, they said that they would not only recommend Windows to their guests, but would mention John (our server that day) by name. Elaine and I brought our sons and their girl friends to Windows to celebrate when each turned 25. Marshall & Sharon to celebrate their 25th anniversary. Danny & PJ to celebrate their 25th and thank him for introducing me to a major client. Dinner with Mark, Robin, Dave and Brenda in a pre-wedding planning conference. Two years ago, Elaine and I hosted Mark and Robin’s rehearsal dinner in a private room at (Guess where.)…..Windows on the Water. Everyone that we’ve ever brought to Windows has left full, satisfied, impressed and with their little surprise. Everyone! Every time!

The food is always perfect. Exactly the way that you want it. The wine list always satisfies me and we’ve experimented and never been disappointed. We’ve had the pleasure of being greeted by Eva, Elaine, Christine and Laura. In addition to John, we’ve been served by Pat, Mike, Michael, Danai, and last night, Karen. It’s not unusual to have the owner, John Hughes, open the door and greet you when you arrive or stop at your table to ask for an opinion on your dinner selection. I’m reminded of this post. I wonder if John Hughes read the book. Obviously, he’s using the same play book. Everything and everybody walks the talk. Fantastic attention to detail. Everyone makes a difference.

Thank you John Hughes for delivering consistent excellence! Many could learn from you!

And to my readers: It’s worth the trip. Kennebunkport is beautiful in the fall. Schedule your trip, now. You can contact John and/or make reservations here.

Pete Caputa and Ed Batista

In early July, Pete Caputa orchestrated an email introduction and some blogversation between Dave Kurlan, Ed Batista, and myself. Since then, I’ve been kinda reading Ed’s blogs and yesterday this post made me call him today. I’m not gonna talk about the post. Read it. I can’t say it better. Ed’s very wise.


This post is about starting and growing relationships.


Ed and I talked about the way technology and “belly to belly” skills can complement each other. We also talked about some new things that Ed’s doing and I’m loving the fact that I know it before Pete. As it turns out, Ed’s gonna need to talk with Eric Tapley and Linda Cohan. Ed was on Eric’s website as we were speaking and I’d bet even money that he’s already read Linda’s guest post on this blog.


OK. Here’s the question and lesson.


Why did it take me six weeks (42 days) to call Ed? Pete made the introduction on 7/11. I called today, 8/22…….Answer – “I’m not perfect”.


You decide if the lesson is, “Just, do it.” “It’s never too late.” or “Every referral and/or introduction is valuable if you’re open-minded.”


Let’s see how long it takes Ed, Eric, and Linda to get together and how long it takes for Pete to find out what I know that he doesn’t know.

Just what is Emotional Intelligence, anyway?

Here’s another first! You may remember this introduction and invitation.

Linda responded with, “I want to respond, but I have never written a blog, and I do not know what to write about???”. I replied with, “Just what is Emotional Intelligence, anyway?”

Herewith her response and consequently her first blog post.

Hi Rick!

You are at the beach and now. I am also at the beach with some time to collect my thoughts about being a guest blogger.  I am responding to a question that you sent by e-mail that many professionals may wonder about:


just what is emotional intelligence, anyway?”


Over the past 25 years, much research has taken place to try and identify what makes top performers in the workplace.  What makes one person succeed while another with the same intellect, training and experience doesn’t fare as well?  These “soft skills” or lack of them, can make or break a professional’s career.


When we were in Kindergarten, the most important task for us to learn, was “to work well and play well with others.”  If we could do that, we would make friends more easily and have more play-dates. Our teacher would also be happy.  Maybe she would call on us more, give us more privileges and refer us on to a great first grade teacher! When we become adults, this “ability to manage ourselves and our relationship with others” is extremely important, because we are constantly exposed to new challenges and life experiences, and if our EQ competencies are highly developed, then we can meet these tests in a productive and positive manner.


There are different models for Emotional Intelligence depending on the expert you refer to.  The 5 areas that have been identified that are essential to our ability to be effective leaders are:


1. Self- Awareness and Control

2. Empathy

3. Social Expertness

4. Personal Influence

5. Personal Mastery and Vision


I must give credit to Adele Lynn from Lynn Learning Labs, who trained and certified me.  Adele’s model incorporates Vision and Purpose, which is an essential quality that all leaders must possess in order to be successful.


A professional who has developed their EQ competencies, will be able to build trust, improve their performance and ultimately increase their business results.


Hope this answers your question.


Warm Regards,




Linda Cohan MSW,CSC
Business/Personal Coach

Entrepreneurial Freedom

Read this post about entrepreneurial freedom. Now, many of you know that I spend a lot of time at the beach, near a golf course, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Bahamas, ski resorts, Disney and not much time in a traditional office. However, I seldom get complaints from my clients indicating that I’m not available to them, nor responsive to my needs. I have to tell you though, it appears that Bernie’s doing it up right.

So here’s the question. What’s the difference between you and Bernie? How can Bernie do this, but you can’t/don’t? Is it a good thing? Post a comment, or send me an email.

Dave Kurlan and Jim Huston

If you haven’t already read my last post, you need to go to: I’ve Got It! and if you haven’t read Dave Kurlan’s last post, you need to go to: More Death, because this post is the promised follow up and response.

The world is just a series of opportunities and coincidences, and this is both. I was lucky enough to attend Jim Huston‘s Three Day Brainstorming Session in Portsmouth, NH last Thursday-Saturday. We toured two very successful landscaping companies. We spent many hours in open forum, brainstorming discussions where no topic was off limits and everbody (20+ landscaping company owners) shared openly. A few experts were asked to speak and one happened to be Jeff Carowitz, a nationally known marketing guru for the green industry. Jeff fielded the question (not from me), “What’s the difference between marketing and sales?” He replied that marketing typically deals with a 3-5 year plan. Sales deals with right now. He told the story of the owner that called to say, “I’m near bankruptcy. I need a marketing plan.” Jeff’s thought, “No thanks!” and wouldn’t help. My thought was, “Go sell something.” Later, Jeff added that Sales is a part of Marketing. He also fielded questions on Public Relations, Advertising, Promotions, etc. and pointed out that each was a part of Marketing. I expect that Jeff and I will be interacting in the future and anticipate that it will be fun and productive.

One of the site tours included presentations by the landscape “designers”. Allison commented that Amelia had already met her entire 2006 sales quota in July. Amelia commented that Allison’s designs were excellent! Great detail. Perfectly to scale. Etc. Allison went to landscape design school. Amelia was a Mary Kay “Pink Cadillac” lady for 10 years. Allison wants to get to the design. Amelia does the design if she has to. Get it? How important is sales ability here? Both designers benefit from the same marketing program.

I talked with several owners during the weekend. One said that they closed 20-25% of their proposals, another said 65%. The rest were in between. Incidentally, we’re talking about proposals that take anywhere from 2 hours to 2 weeks to put together before the chase begins. Do you think the difference in closing rates is due to a difference in marketing ability or sales ability?

Some of you may know that I worked in the energy conservation industry from 1990 to 1994. A government facility put a project out to bid. Three companies responded (including our crack VP Engineering and his team of engineers). None were selected. The facility re-bid the project. I led the team. My ability to ask the right questions and develop SOB made it so that everybody was listening to us more than the competion. The difference:  $1.4 million. That’s only one story. I’ve got a million of them. How about 3 years, 100’s of competitors, blank slate RFQ and RFP, dozen’s of sub-contractor’s help leading up to Governor Weld’s signature on our contract and $4.2 million? All due to our marketing program? Yeah right!

Get with the program, marketing is important. It can positively predispose a prospect. It can plant a seed. Using pay per clicks, forms, catalogs and the like, you’ll make some sales. But, when human comes in contact with human it’s a sales opportunity and whether or not your marketing program works is about to come down to how well you can sell.

I was going to end here, but I have two more points.

First, Some of you are entrepreneurs. You might get your face time with a VC because of a letter, email, or other introduction that you send, but when you’re in front of the VC, talking about a number in front of a bunch of zeroes, you better be selling.

Second, Marketing, stop worrying. Sales people will never make you obsolete because most would rather answer the phone than make a cold call. Do a mass mailing than knock on a door. Blame marketing than take responsibility. Strong Salespeople, don’t start worrying. Make your calls. Work your networks. Do your deals. Recognize that you can make marketing look good by doing your job and the only opinion that matters to you is yours. Weak salespeople, continue worrying, get fixed, or get a job in marketing. Uh-Oh, Pete!

I’ve got it!

Pete, Tim, I figured out why I blog!

I like talking with certain people about life in general and sales in particular. I’ve know Dave and Marshall (Marshall, start a blog, dammit!) for 30+ years. I have other people that I enjoy talking to, too. Mark, Mark, Linda, Mike, among others. Dave as you know is busy. Two very successful companies, best selling books, etc. Marshall built a house on a lake and not many people have seen him since. Mark is getting PawSpot going. Working with Dharmesh on Hubspot. Looking for a house and preparing for his firstborn in December. Etc about Mark and Linda and everybody else I know, and oh, by the way, I’m on vacation from 8/12 (yesterday) to 8/20. EVERYBODY is busy and sometimes not in the mood to talk with Rick about what Rick wants to talk about.

This is why I blog. I know that a lot of the people that I like to talk with read my blog. It gives me the opportunity to start conversations with people who’s opinion I respect and anybody who reads my blog gets to “listen” in. I get to carry on conversations with people that I care about and respect at times when they might otherwise not be able to chat on the phone. I have also met some very interesting people, (blog-quaintance as Pete calls it.) through my blog.

OK, this is how I figured it out. Dave wrote More Death and expects a response. If Dave and I were having lunch, we’d talk about it and you guys would never know what we talked about. But I’m gonna respond to him in my next post and you not only get to watch, but you can chime in, if you want.

Update: Noah Kagan makes an additional interesting point at I am Not a Blogger.

Read the latest Update by Greg (with my new and improved opinion)

How to hire Design/Build remodeling and home improvement contractors

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Paskell and I am a Design/build remodeling expert servicing homeowners in the Worcester and Metrowest counties for over 15 years.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rick for his invitation to share on this blog.
I have known Rick for over 25 years and I am amazed that sales training from Rick 25 years ago, is still helping me succeed today. He has slowly teased me in the past few months that I could probably be the author of a blog and that I have a lot to offer based on my many years of experience in the remodeling industry. Somehow he knew what to say at the right time to slowly churn the fire within me to a point where the only obvious action was to begin my blogging experience. Yesterday he invited me and made it easy for me to do the only thing that made sense. Act!!!! 

My Blog
For years, a fire has been burning inside me to speak about the subject of homeowners who have had the unfortunate experience of hiring the wrong contractor to work on their home. Week after week I have witnessed remodeling and home improvement projects done poorly by contractors. Homeowner after homeowner experienced shoddy workmanship, unfinished jobs, money taken with no work completed, the wrong materials used for the job and three month projects taking a year to complete. Is it any wonder that homeowners have developed a mistrust of contractors? In a recent government report consumers rated contractors as the most complaint ridden industry in the country! Worse than used car dealers!

The purpose of my coming blog, will be to create a forum for homeowners to talk about how to prevent a bad contractor experience. My hope is that this forum will help homeowners become educated and informed on the importance of hiring the right contractor for their home improvement projects.

I look forward to the challenge ahead. If this endeavor saves one homeowner from experiencing a contractor nightmare the time invested will be well worth the effort. I welcome any feedback or ideas for topics to discuss from our readers.

In addition to thanking Rick Roberge for this opportunity, I would like to thank the amazing Pete Caputa for his support and help regarding the blog concept. Pete has begun to blossom under the tutelage of Rick Roberge, just as I did over 25 years ago.

Well for now, my first post has been cast and I am excited about the new horizons that lie ahead.

Mark Paskell      

UPDATE: I’m pleased to write that Mark has indeed started his own blog. You can find him at Good luck, Mark. I’ll be reading.

Ivan Misner & Patrick Carney

I just read this post entitled “Concise Introduction for Networking” in which Patrick Carney shares some of Dr. Ivan Misner’s wisdom.

Here’s my problem. Done in this manner, we spend 30-60 seconds reminding ourself what to say, 30-60 seconds saying it, and 30-60 seconds wondering if we did it right and we totally miss the other person’s intro. I’m reminded of this post of mine. If you are a marketer, you might be OK with getting your message out and the heck with the other guy. But, if you are actually looking to SELL something someday, wouldn’t it behoove you to find something out about the person that you’re meeting to learn if they are a prospect, a potential center of influence, a competitor, or what.

If you believe that networking is part of your marketing program, go for it. But if you think networking is part of your prospecting program, you should stop telling and start selling and you sell with your ears, not your lips.

No call to action. Just do what works for you.