When the pandemic hit, Glenn found the perfect time to write down the hundreds of stories about sales, showing up the right way, and achieving success in life he had been gathering since his 20s.
He arranged the lessons he learned throughout his four decades in business into 57 standalone lessons about how to win in sales, business, and, most importantly, life.
In this episode, the co-founder, VP, and general manager of Gap Wireless Inc., Glenn Poulos, shares some of the funniest and most educational stories that inspired his book “Never Sit in the Lobby: 57 Winning Sales Factors to Grow a Business and Build a Career Selling.”
He dives deep into the importance of constantly working on leaving a good impression, the stories that have more impact on his life, and all the lessons he learned after over 40 years of experience in sales and building and selling two companies.
Tune in and learn the sales principles that will help you live a fulfilling, wealthy, and healthy life!
Glenn Poulos is the co-founder, vice president, and general manager of Gap Wireless Inc., a leading distributor for the mobile broadband wireless and test and measurement equipment markets.
With over three decades of experience in sales, he has spent thousands of hours in the field or on the phone with customers and working with salespeople to help create several very successful companies.
After entering the sales field in 1985 as a technical sales rep, Glenn founded his first company, mmWave Technologies Inc., in 1991 and simultaneously served as president of Anritsu Electronics Ltd. for nine years.
Using his extensive knowledge and experience in the industry, he lectures groups on sales strategy, consumerism, and what motivates people at a raw emotional level.
Glenn lives near Toronto in Ontario, Canada, where he enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing pickleball.
Connect to Glenn Poulos
- What is Glenn’s advice to someone who wants to improve their income and is not into sales?
- Is it possible to learn how to sell, or is it an innate ability?
- What is Glenn’s mantra for business, and why is it so effective in generating massive revenue?
- Why we should always pick up the phone and answer incoming calls
- The story of how Glenn lost $5 million and what he learned from it
- Are business problems also personal problems?
- What is FLT, Failure To Launch, and how can we eliminate it?
- The biggest lesson Glenn learned that didn’t make it to the book.
- And much more…
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Podcast Transcription: Never Sit In The Lobby: 57 Winning Sales Factors To Grow A Business And Build A Career Selling with Glenn Poulos
Ted Ryce: Glenn Poulos, welcome to the Legendary Life podcast. So happy to have you here today.
Glenn Poulos: Thanks, Ted, glad to be here.
Ted Ryce: You’re a client of mine. But today, we’re having you on the show for a different reason. You’ve written an incredible book, a book I just finished, it’s called Never Wait in the Lobby. Tell us about why you wrote this book.
Glenn Poulos: So, I wrote the book as a culmination of writing down a bunch of factors—rules, which I call factors in the book—over the last 35 years, I’d say. I started writing them down when I was in my 20s. And I started repeating them to people. And a lot of them, I would name after people, especially the ones where you don’t want to do the rule, if you will, like don’t do that, do this, that kind of thing.
And, of course, I changed the names to protect the guilty in the book. And then people would laugh, and they’d say, “Oh, my God, that’s hilarious.” And then eventually, I started doing some public speaking at some other sales companies sharing some of my rules and stories and anecdotes and what have you. And eventually, everyone’s like, “Oh, you should write a book.”
And of course, I promptly went on to not write a book for the next 30 years. And then of course, the pandemic hit March 2020. And in Canada, especially, we had a pretty severe lockdown, there was really nothing open for quite a while. And I thought, what better time than now to open up that notebook that I had with the rules in it and write the book. And so I got down to brass tacks it back in March 2020. And that’s basically sort of the how and the why of it.
Ted Ryce: And I’ll tell you, one thing that… I think anyone listening to this right now who’s had some experience in sales, they’re going to resonate with what you’re going to say. And I’ll tell you, as someone who I don’t know if I’ve shared that much about my own personal business journey, but I was a coach, I was very good at what I did.
But the learning the business side, especially with sales, it was so challenging it, it challenged me in ways I never could have…It’s like, don’t read the personal development book, go into sales for a little while, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself. But for someone who maybe isn’t in sales, what would you say to that person listening about why this is important to know about and why they should read your book?
Glenn Poulos: Well, especially someone that’s not in sales but maybe wants to go into sales, they could start…The one great thing about the book, you can start anywhere in the book, flip it open for a few minutes when you’re having a coffee and read a chapter, jump to a different chapter 50 pages away, and it won’t matter. Because everything stands alone by itself.
They’re all standalone rules and principles. But they also flow together quite nicely, as well, especially at the very beginning, there’s just a torrent of rules that come out right away, which I can barrage you with in a minute. But one of the ones that I’m really, really proud of is the chapter called “My Mentor Made Me Do It.”
And that is a story of just one person. But I’ve actually had several people where this situation has occurred, where I was able to coach them from a career not in sales, nothing to do with sales. And in each case, with the people that I had worked with, none of them even had a high school education, they had all dropped out of high school, but they had an aptitude and they had kind of a fire in them.
And I said, look, the best way, the best job to make the most amount of money, it’s hard work, but it’s sales. I mean, it’s the worst paying job for lazy people. And it’s the most outstanding paying job for people that actually have some get up and go, right? And so I coached them through a series of, of just techniques and sort of mind over matters, on what they could do to go into sales and to work their way up.
And in each case, the people got jobs and have advanced in their career and are now making pretty much great livings selling things. And one case, it was cars that went on to technology. And another one, it was they went into advertising. So I’m not sure I really answered your question the most exactly. But the book can show you that anyone can get into sales.
And I’m always proud of the sales field because a lot of people say, “Ah, I wouldn’t want to be in sales or whatever. I like playing with my this or I’m an artist and I like doing my art or I’m advertising. I like doing that. Or I’m a tech guy, I like programming or I like technology and I’m like, “Hey, in every one of those fields, if you move into sales, you’ll be working with the state of the art in that field.
Nobody sells yesterday’s technology. Nobody sells yesterday’s advertising techniques. Nobody sells yesterday’s social media things, right? So when you’re into sales, you get the benefit of…A guy used to say he’s pushing the latest buttons every day. Or you can stay working in your lab and you can use your five-year-old instruments, right? Because your boss won’t upgrade, right? Because the one you’ve got is good enough. So I’m always a fan of sales as being a path to increase your standard of living, right. And I’ve seen it work for many people over the years, of course, too.
It’s like, guess what, there’s no diet to make your financial stress go away. There’s no exercise that you can do to have that tough conversation with your boss about why you need a raise, or whatever. What I love about your book in particular is, yeah, it’s about sales, but it’s really about stepping up as a person. That’s probably the biggest lesson that I got out of it, was stepping up as a person.
Because you even talk about, hey, listen, like, this is how you reply to an email. This is what you need to have on your email signature. This is what you do when you’re at a business dinner and you need to make an impression, that the napkin…You talked about this silver, you talked about so many things. And it’s really a guidebook on not just sales, but also how to step up your game as a person. Why did you include those things? Instead of just saying, okay, well, here’s the Glengarry close, all the closers…
Glenn Poulos: All the closing, copy for closers.
Ted Ryce: Right.
Glenn Poulos: Yeah. So, I put those in for some very specific reasons. And primarily, it’s because the mantra, the business that I’m running now, and as you know, because we’ve talked before, I just sold this business, but I agreed to stay on for three to five years, to help them to build the business to build it bigger, but I’ve been running the business for 15 years, and I ran a different company doing the same thing for 15 years before that, which I also sold that business too and then started this business.
And one of the things when I started this company, I had a different partner than them before, and whatever. And I decided to change the some of the ways we were doing things. And one of the prime rules, prime directives is that I wanted our company to be a pleasure to do business with. And I realized that it’s mostly to be a pleasure to be around, right? And so you need to be a pleasure to be with.
So, I try to make a good impression all the time. There’s a chapter in there called “You Only Get Forever to Make Another Impression.” And it means to, you know, a lot of people are like, “What the heck are you talking about?” And I thought it was the first impression my mom told me about. Well, yes, that one’s important, but so is the next one and the one after that.
Because especially with your boss, or your co-workers or your customers, you’re always making an impression. Did he answer the phone? Did he call me back? Was he nice? Did he reply? Is he helpful? Does he support me when there’s a problem? And my goal is always to leave the best impression on every interaction.
So, the story I tell him the book is when you hear the boss’s car, a Jaguar, his Cadillac Escalade rolling into the driveway and the thump of that door, and you know, that’s the boss’s car, or you can tell or you hear his footsteps in the lobby or whatever, you immediately switch into power mode, right?
And when he walks by your desk, you don’t want to be Alt tabbing from Instagram over to your CRM just as he’s walking by because in a nanosecond, he’s going to see that you were on Instagram, right? And guess what, he just made an impression of you and it wasn’t good.
And so I’m always in this mode of leave a good impression. So, I realized there were all sorts of mistakes that I was seeing made at dinner, you know, manners, how to eat, how to behave, how to order food, what to order, who pays, when should you pay, when should they pay? And so I wanted to pass all those along so people could avoid those mistakes, right?
And a lot of people have read the book and now that the pandemic in Canada has been over, the last few months, my travel’s really sort of ramped up. And a lot of people I visit, they’ve read the book, right? And so I was at dinner in the last few weeks, and there’s one guy, and he says to me, “Oh, there’s six of us and I have my meal, can I start or do I need to wait?”
And he’s sort of teasing me about the book. Because that’s in the book, right? I’m like, “No, there’s only six of us so you have to wait.” I said, “if there’s seven, you can start.” And then one guy with the napkin, dinner was over, or whatever. He says, “Can I put the napkin down now?”
But the point is, I made a point, I made an impression on these guys. And these are maybe some rules that they didn’t appear, but I follow them religiously, like, all the time, right? Especially the one I love at company and work and business dinners, is sit in the middle of the table, never sit at the end of the table. People are like, “What the heck? I want to be the boss at the end of the table?”
No. Because what if the guy on your left and right are boring, and they really don’t drive the boat, and they just accidentally sit beside you. But the important guy is at the far end, right, you can’t really have a conversation. If you’re in the middle, you can be a part of the entire conversation, you can look left, right, across from you, and the action flows around you.
And so I always get there early and I always sit in the middle. I always sit with my back to the wall as well, so that I can see all the action coming towards us and just be very cognizant of my surroundings. And these are just simple rules, a part of the 57 factor that I’ve used to make myself successful. So that’s sort of why some of those things are in there.
Ted Ryce: That makes so much sense. And I think as we get into a world that is even more automated, and we’re not using paper, people don’t have the jobs that they used to, those hard skills to say, like drive a truck, or whatever else is going to be outsourced to machines, it’s like soft skills, at least for the foreseeable future, that’s where it’s at. It’s always where if you’re willing to put in the work that you can level up, and it pays big with your career.
And that goes for anyone, right? Whether you’re running a company, or whether you’re just starting out, it’s like you have this ability to affect or to create relationships around you. In other words, like what you said, always leave that good impression. And don’t just think you made that good impression that first time. It’s like, you always get forever to make that second impression. So always be focusing on that.
It’s something that I personally… Man, I hate having an off day when I’m working with clients and showing up to a call. It’s like, “I got to step up my game.” And then when I heard that part in your book, I’m like, “Yeah, I’m doing the right thing. I need to keep doing it as well.”
Glenn Poulos: Yeah. I tried to come up with catchy, memorable titles for all the different rules, right? One of them is called, “Thank God, it’s broken.” Which is a simple rule, it doesn’t take long to describe. But basically, I noticed a lot of our salespeople over the years, when something would break at a customer, they would actually recoil and kind of go into hiding, as if they were kind of like scared to support the customer.
When I’m like, “Dude, this is your number one opportunity to be the most outstanding person because you need to grab on to that with all your fiber and support the hell out of that guy. He’s not mad at you because his widget broke. I mean, you didn’t build it, you just sold it to him. But the impression that you’re going to leave in how you treat him when it’s broken, is significantly different than when you’re selling it to him, right?
The guy who sells it to him, he’s everywhere, you know, while he’s waiting to cash his commission check is one thing, but the guy who’s there when it’s not working, he doesn’t punch you off to some service coordinator or something like that and babies you through the process. That’s actually what they remember.
And in the end on the next deal, when you’re like 2% more money, like for like, spec for spec, product for product, whatever it is, you’ll get the deal because of that service. He’s like, “You know what, I don’t care if he’s 2% more, he’s a pleasure to do business with, and when the shit hits the fan, I know he’ll be there to answer the phone.”
And I do go on at length about my biggest mistake of not answering the phone, right? I talked about that rule in the book, or not so much a rule but the lesson that I had learned about not answering people’s phone calls and voicemails and not returning calls.
Ted Ryce: Yeah, let’s talk about that in a second. But what you shared was so powerful, the story. It’s the opportunity, the, when something goes wrong, and we’re either working in a business or running a business, and the client is unhappy, it’s an opportunity to step up and to show who you really are. Instead of… I almost think like a dating analogy is appropriate, where it’s like, oh, you’re Mr. Perfect or Miss Perfect, whatever, when you’re on the date.
But then it’s that first disagreement, that first bit of tension, that shows you what a person is really made of. So that’s a lesson that everyone can use, and they can use in so many different areas of their life. But it better be something that you’re doing in your business as well.
One of the things I love about this book is you are successful entrepreneur. This is a passion… I think your passion for writing it comes across so powerfully. Because you narrate it yourself. I listened to the book. I didn’t read it. So for those of you who are listening right now, I’m an audio book guy right now, and I think that was a great move, because I really feel your personality coming out when you narrate it.
What is the hardest hitting story that you share in that book in your opinion? What’s the one that you look back, you’re like, is it just the one with the not answering the phone? Or is it the bankruptcy?
Glenn Poulos: Yeah, it’s funny, when I tell the story about not answering the phone, and I mean, the quick version of it, just for people listening is that I became the company joke, they would be like, “Oh, call Glenn and leave a voicemail. Ha-ha.” And I’m like, “What do you mean?” And they’re like, “Dude, you never answered the phone, and you never returned voicemails if. Unless we walk to your office, we can’t get a hold of you.”
What they didn’t understand and I didn’t completely elaborate on in the book is that I had been going through a divorce. I was extremely depressed and it took me quite some time to climb back out of it. And that came through in my level of service and my performance as a worker, but it ingrained in me. It was life lesson that I never forgot.
And I actually turned the ringer off for today. But a lot of time, I’m the failsafe in our business, right? If you keep hitting pound zero, zero, zero at Gap Wireless, you’re going to come to me, and then I’m like, “Well, you got the owner, so I mean, I’ll try to help you,” and they’re like, “the owner?” And I’m like, “Yeah, when you hit zero, zero, zero, that’s where the phone call comes to, it comes to me, and later I’ll go and figure out why someone else didn’t pick up your call.
But in terms of stories, that was one that resonated with me a lot. Some of them that had a huge impact on my life. You know, some of the most simplest ones, and I couldn’t come up with enough words to express how important they were to me like, $10 million in diamonds.
And that’s a great story where I worked with a guy at the Sears watch repair department, he left and started a jewelry store. I went off to college for technology and 10 years later, I came back to Niagara Falls where I grew up. And I saw his store and I said, “Hey, I wonder if you remember me, I’m going to drop in and say hello.”
And of course, he remembered me right away. He’s this guy named Romeo, an Italian dude, the polio guy, right? And this guy was such, you know, even though he was in a wheelchair with a cane most of the time. He was born in the 50s, I think and he was affected. And he was such a ladies man. It was amazing. He was little short dude with polio.
And so I said to him, I said, “Hey, Romeo, how’s it going?” He’s like, “Oh, Glenn, you will not believe, it is so amazing.” And he’s like, “I couldn’t be making a $10 million in diamonds, but I’m too busy fixing all these watches.” And I’m scratching my head going, “What are you talking about? Why are you fixing watches? Why don’t you just sell diamonds and hire a watchmaker?”
But he grew up being a watchmaker. And I see my guys repairing watches all the time. And that is like a saying that you’ll hear over and over again in my company, right? It’s like, “I could have been doing $10 million in diamonds but I’m fixing all these damn watches,” Glenn.
Meaning they’re caught in the muck and whether they’re doing it by choice or just because there’s no one else to help them at that moment in time.
But one of the biggest lessons in the book is the chapter that I never wrote, because the guy asked me about it, and this will resonate with you. It was the chapter that I never wrote and so of course, it never made it to the book, which was like, well, what’s one of the biggest lessons that you would want to book or you would want to tell out of the book or whatever.
And I’m like, well, my biggest lesson front of everything and selling two businesses, and all the money is don’t get fat. And, honestly, like, man, as you know, I’m now 60 years old. So, people are like, oh, you should have started your fitness when you were 20 or when you were 40?
Yeah, that was 40 years ago for me. And the longer you wait, the harder it gets, it’s definitely worth it to do it. But also, it’s easier to start off on the right foot and just keep on that path. And I really wish that I had managed to figure that out earlier on and put that sort of fitness and diet more upfront in terms of my journey over the years. So that’s an important lesson that’s in the book, not in the book.
Ted Ryce: And why didn’t that chapter make it to the book?
Glenn Poulos: Because I didn’t write it. That’s what I’m saying. It was a lesson that I learned only later.
Ted Ryce: Oh, gotcha.
Glenn Poulos: Yeah. So, when I looked back on it, I had already finished writing it or whatever. And I’m thinking to myself, I should have written that, because somebody w as asking me, what is the most important lesson that you want to leave, and they wanted me to pick one of the 57. And I’m like, “Well, I want you to follow all 57 and the number one thing is take care of your health.”
Because the money comes and goes, and the money won’t change your happiness. And it will not change your, you know, oh, when I get this amount of money, then I’m going to be happy, then I’m going to get a better car, and a better house and this and that, whatever. No, it doesn’t change anything. It’s your health, your relationships with your close family and your friends and things like that. That’s really where the growth comes from, I’ve found now.
And also my first business, I sold it to a public company, and they bankrupted it, and I lost $5 million. And I actually didn’t care about losing the money either. It didn’t slow me down at all. As a matter of fact, a week later, I started Gap Wireless, which is the company that I work for now, that I just sold a few weeks ago to a different company, one that will not be going bankrupt, though, mind you. So although I do a lot of things for the money, it’s more of a benchmark and a scorecard than something that changes my life.
Ted Ryce: So many people say that. And so many of my clients have said that to me, and I get it. How could we maybe get someone who doesn’t? Or how could you, rather, with a story like…Someone might be listening to you saying, “Glenn, that’s easy for you, you just said you lost 5 million bucks. I only have a fraction of that lose, I don’t have 1 million to lose, it’s easy for you to say that.” What would you say to that person who would say that to you?
Glenn Poulos: I would say I didn’t have the 5 million really either per se because I built the business up from… I was 29 years old. I was married for less than a week and I quit my job. And I told my boss at my other company, I wanted to spin off a division, I wanted to get ownership in it, they could keep some. And they said, “Oh make us a plan. We’ll show you why it won’t work.” That was the famous line
And I went back the next day and the plan said I resigned. And then I went home and I told my wife who I had been married to for less than a week, that I quit my job at 29. And the I ran the business and I made decent money over the years. There were good years, bad years. Went through the internet bubble of 99/2000,, where we made gangbuster money in the form of income and what have you and it was good.
But then someone came along and there were three of us, and we each got about $5 million for our share of the business. But it all came in the form of shares that I was locked up as an insider, I couldn’t sell them. So I saw this number in the sky, but I couldn’t spend it. I couldn’t buy anything with it because I could only sell certain amount every 90 days, as an insider. And so yeah, I didn’t have $5 million. I had $5 million of shares.
But this public company, it fell on hard times. It had a bunch of other divisions I didn’t know about, I didn’t work for, that dragged it down and they ended up forcing us into receivership and ultimately, the shares went to basically zero. And so my 5 million became worth nothing. And so easy come, easy go, in a way, right?
And so, to those people, I would say I didn’t have 5 million either. So I’m not trying to minimize it or what have you. But the fastest way to get to a point where you could make $5 million is one of two ways. One is either to start your own business. And that’s probably the easiest way. And the second way that I always counseled people is to get a job in sales, and to then invest the money wisely. And also don’t forget about your health and your relationships. Because divorces and health concerns and all that will quickly put you in a bigger state of poverty than the money, right?
So, anyone can literally do it. And nowadays, you can easily make several 100k a year in a sales job. And if you invest it wisely and don’t blow it at all on fancy cars your first year, you can easily save $5 million. And so that’s what I would tell them. And then they think, “I don’t know how to be a salesman,” I’m like, “Well, spend five minutes with me and I’ll start mentoring you.” Just read the chapter I alluded to earlier, “My Mentor Made Me Do It.” Because I believe anyone can sell, honestly.
Ted Ryce: And if you’re listening right now, you’d really need to get Glenn’s book if this is resonating with you. And that’s Never Sit in The Lobby. And we’ll have the link to that on the show notes for this episode. Glenn, I’m curious, I’ve been in my business growth mode. And one of the sayings that some of the people I’ve learned from who were running successful businesses have told me, like business problems are ultimately personal problems. Do you agree with that?
Glenn Poulos: I guess so, maybe, I mean, in a lot of cases, they could be. You may have engaged or disengaged inaccurately. But in a way, I guess I could agree with that. I’m trying to think of my most complicated situation that I had before I sold the business a few months back, was—we’re in the wireless game. So the 5g is now gangbusters right now, and our business has exploded. And we buy goods from all over the world. And we bring them to Canada and the US on containers. And we of course, have to pay those vendors. So that means we have a credit line with those vendors.
Now, our orders got millions of dollars more than we had ever expected and higher than our credit limits with all these companies. And we had to come up with $5 million, instantly for a ginormous order that we had gotten. And I didn’t have enough value in my home and my partner’s home in order to back up this one time need to buy this one large order, $5 million worth of stuff.
And I had to go to the bank. And they started off by saying, “Well, we need you to sign a line of credit guaranteed for two and a half million dollars each and whatever, dah, dah, dah, you need to back it up. Your house is already backed up for the first amount of line of credit, so we need a new house.” I’m like, “I don’t have that many houses.”
And so to make a long story short, it’s like, that’s what we need. And I said, “Okay, great, these guys need to be sold. And so I basically just went into sales mode. And I just basically explained to them, I just gave them a—I hardly ever use this word—but a spiel right about the business, the order, the customer, I showed them the PIO from the customer, I showed the PIO to the vendor and all that and I bent sold them.
And my bank manager went up to the VP, who went up to the credit risk management, and they gave us a 90-day one-time $5 million extension on our line of credit. And they said, “You better pay this back.” And we did. And it went right back to our normal limit. And then of course, when we sold the business…We’re with a very big company now they have their own lines of credit.
But this was before, this was in the fall. So that huge problem, I was thinking, “No, that’s a bank problem. That’s a money problem. I can’t get it. I don’t have that many houses.” No, it was a people problem. So, I guess I can agree with them.
Ted Ryce: Interesting. So, one of the things that you talk about is really the importance of showing up. One of the stories or actually several of the stories, it’s like always have something in your mind, always have something in your hand.
Glenn Poulos: That’s right.
Ted Ryce: And it’s the way you show up. And that comes to mind with the story that you just shared. And can you elaborate, can you talk about that a little bit, just the importance of how we show up. We talked a little bit about it, but the story you just share with so fascinating. It was basically you spiel, you came up with the spiel, and they made it happen.
And I think a lot of people look at their challenges, their obstacles and say, “Well, $5 million, I just checked, I don’t have it in my house or whatever the situation is. So there’s no solution here, but you found a solution. Can you talk a little bit about where that comes from and how we can get more of that?
Glenn Poulos: The keys that I find is basically take action and show up. And that is where most people stop, is that they have this FTL, Failure to Launch. And it’s the momentum that occurs once you start moving, that keeps you flowing forward. I will admit that I’m blessed with this gift which a lot of my co-workers don’t have. And it frustrates them and it amazes them at time, which is that I don’t really see the world instead of in terms of what’s happening next.
I see what’s happening three years from now, and that’s really what I’m thinking about. And in my mind, I have already built it. And people are like, “Hey, you haven’t built it. You’ve got to get the people. You’ve got to get the money.” And I’m like, “No, I just need to remember what the picture looks like. And then I’ll just figure out to solve the problems along the way.”
And I mean, of course, I’m not dumb. I realize I need the money and the people and whatever. But that’s not what I worry about. I don’t plan all that out. I plan and I structure things in a way. And then I get up and I take action. I snap. When the company went into receivership, I went into my retirement fund, and I pulled a bunch of money and I was incorporated within a day.
The Gap Wireless, that’s my initials, GP. In order to create a word, I had to buy a vowel. So I started the first one, A. I bought an A, GAP. That’s how I came up with the Gap Wireless. That’s the company name. But I took action. And I showed up and then I figured out what did I want the company to look like and then I started chucking away at the steps.
And over the years, we’ve created different divisions that we’ve gone in and out of different market segments and what have you. And I’ve always looked at the end in mind, which I think that’s a Stephen Covey, you know, “Always start with the end in mind.” That is so powerful. But then of course, every journey a thousand steps begins with the first step, right?
And so many people just don’t take that step. And if they did, they would amaze themselves. That’s the difference, is picture it in your mind, and then take that first step and have faith that you will figure out the rest. And you will be amazed at the resourcefulness that you will come up with.
Ted Ryce: I asked the client earlier today. He recorded a client interview success story. And I asked him what was the hardest part of the program? And I thought he might be, oh, learning to track. He was like, “Actually, signing up with you, actually making the commitment to do it was the hardest step.” And I was surprised by the answer because he’s like you, a very successful guy. And it was just very interesting to hear that.
And I think it’s important that no matter what level of socio-economic success, what level of financial success you’re at, this can show up in an area of life where maybe you don’t feel as confident. So, Glen, I want to switch gears a little bit. And one of the things—and you don’t tell a story about this, you talk about how you gave a speech to a bunch of Japanese people that you were doing business with and you speak fluent Japanese.
I’ve been struggling to learn Spanish, I’ve been teaching myself Portuguese and doing lessons. How did you learn Japanese, and could you maybe tell a little bit of that story? I know we’re running out of time here.
Glenn Poulos: So, my first company, we kind of merged with a Japanese company. And when I realized that I was going to go to Japan, what I did was that I would need to be… I realized from other travel that the number one way to have a good time on a trip is to learn the pleasantries of the country you’re destined for. Some are harder than others.
Because we, as North Americans, we have struggled, for instance, maybe to learn like Eastern European languages, like Russian or Polish, or something like that. It’s hard to learn those sounds and everything. And Japanese is no different. But what I would do is I would literally memorize as many pleasantries and responses as I could. And a lot of the people really were more…
So the trick to me was, I only need to learn how to begin the conversations or end them in their language. The middle, they always wanted to speak in English, so I wasn’t carrying on complex technical discussions. And the story in the book, which I drive at home, which was I was in the country with 50 other country managers, and I was the Canadian guy.
Ted Ryce: That was when you were working for someone else’s company.
Glenn Poulos: Yeah, and I still owned my other business, but I literally worked for this Japanese company, a billion dollar publicly traded company and what have you. I was a Canadian manager, the country manager for Canada. And I reported to the country manager in the US.
And so I memorized as much Japanese as I could. But I didn’t tell anyone about it. And I studied and studied and learned and figured out response and that sort of thing. If I said this, what would they say? And then I would say this back, and literally, just committed it to memory.
And so I had a set of slides, PowerPoint that I had to create; the same set of PowerPoint that 50 other countries had to come up with. And I was the first morning and I had two or three in and I was before my boss. And I got up on the stage. And as I tell in the book, and I’m like, [Speaking Japanese]
And then I looked around and I paused and I looked at everyone and I go, “Oh, maybe I should switch to English.”, And of course, the whole room erupted in laughter and applause or whatever. And then when I get back to my seat after giving my presentation, my boss says, “You fucker.” And he says, “Oh, I wish I had thought of that.”
And then afterwards, I would continue on with how are you? Good morning, good afternoon, good bye, and starting conversations. Then they would switch to English because they wanted to speak English more than I wanted to speak Japanese. And I would end the conversation. And then at the end, they’re like, “Oh, your presentation was the best. It was so good.”
And it was the same five slides that everybody else had given. And I learned that from that point on, those few sentences at the beginning, and at the end, will make a huge, huge difference. And so I started our Mexican operation for my first company, and we opened offices in Guadalajara and Juarez, and also in Mexico City, and whatever, and I did the same thing.
And again, I wasn’t carrying on fluently in Spanish, but I was conducting all the pleasantries and basic ordering and things like that. Asking for menus, ordering from menus, all that in Spanish and whatever. And it made a huge difference in my impact on people. So, it’s definitely worth the effort. And it’s a lot of fun, too.
Ted Ryce: I agree. And I think that comes back down to how we show up. Like, that person, that winning sales personality that you talk about in the book. It’s not like, say the right words. And I feel like whether it’s dating or health or sales, it’s like people get too focused on the tactics. But it’s not the personality behind it.
And certainly, when you’re dealing with people, it’s that emotional connection, showing the same five slides, but you start off in a very surprising way. They’re not expecting this Canadian guy to start rattling off Japanese, and there you go. And it was the best… I mean, it was such a great story. So many excellent stories.
Glenn, I know we’re coming up on time here. If you’re enjoying this conversation right now, again, Glenn’s book is amazing. What I appreciate, Glenn, is it’s full of a lot of good stories, instead of—I don’t want to say boring, but more tactical, you give the goods but you package it in such an entertaining way. And it’s just a pleasure to listen to.
And also something that made me reevaluate some of the things that I’m doing, the way I’m showing up. So if you’re listening right now, obviously, you can get Never Sit in the Lobby at Amazon, we can put the link to Glenn’s website on this page. But if you’d like to go check it out. It is www.glennpoulos.com. That’s G-L-E-N-N-P-O-U-L-O-S.com.
And Glenn, after going through these stories and sharing this, it’s been so much fun to talk with you in this context, in this way. What would you say is the most important lesson that you would want someone to take away from listening to your interview today?
Glenn Poulos: I already gave them the most important one, which is, don’t get fat. I almost feel like I want to be repetitive, but I found the difference. And now as I’m getting in my golden years, I’m above 60, I’ve had some people comment about their interaction with me. After they read the book, then they reached out to me. And I realized that the efforts that I put into being nice, the whole business on empathy, sympathy, compassion.
I go on and everybody’s like, “Why are you so big on this empathy and listening and blah, blah, blah, whatever.” And I’m like, “because that’s what makes you a good person.” So be a good person. And be a good person, you know, go and look up the dictionary the difference between empathy and sympathy, because most people think they’re, “Oh, I’m so empathetic.” And you’re not.
Most people are giving cliche responses, so that they can get back to their selfish motives. But when you really step into someone else’s shoes and see the world from their eyes, you respond differently. Like listen to understand not to respond. And practice active listening.
There is a great chapter on active listening—especially if you have a partner or a wife or husband—on how you can manage your conversations with using active listening, which I highly recommend. And be a good person and take care of your relationships. Take care of your health, because that’s the most important thing. That’s what I would say.
Ted Ryce: Glenn Poulos, thanks so much for your time today. Thanks for coming on and sharing your expertise.
Glenn Poulos: Yes, thanks, Ted. It’s so good to be here.
Ted Ryce: Awesome. Thanks so much.
Glenn Poulos: Thanks a lot, Ted.
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