Rory Vaden is known as the “Self-Discipline Strategist.” He teaches audiences around the world how to become a master of self-discipline, action, goal-setting and achievement.
As an entrepreneur, Vaden co-founded an eight-figure global consulting practice with more than 100 employees, servicing clients (such as P&G, YPO, Wells Fargo Advisors, Merck and Land O’Lakes) in more than 40 countries. He's also a New York Times bestselling author, and his most recent book, Procrastinate on Purpose: 5 Permissions to Multiply Your Time, was the basis of his TEDx talk which now has more than 1 million views. Every week, he hosts a podcast called "The Action Catalyst with Rory Vaden.”
I sat down with him in his Nashville, Tenn., home and asked him about building a personal brand, an eight-figure business and a powerful speaker and author platform.
Here are five skills entrepreneurs and influencers need to master, according to Vaden. Check out the full interview in the video above.
1. Master sales.
Southwestern Consulting, which Vaden co-founded, is part of The Southwestern Family of Companies, and it houses a door-to-door educational product business called Southwestern Advantage. Vaden began selling for Southwestern Advantage in college and quickly learned how to sell face-to-face. He recalled that he knocked on doors for 14 hours a day, six days a week.
“I [was working] on straight commission, sort of running my own business in this program," Vaden says. "I ended up making about $200,000 in five summers. I really got my start knocking on doors and dealing with rejection and getting slammed.”
Vaden became a leader in the company, and he also began speaking, coaching and facilitating leadership training. Soon, he and a few partners had the idea to form a coaching and consulting business under the Southwestern umbrella. When it came time to get Southwestern to invest in the business, again his success came down to sales. Not only did they focus on their sales strategy, he and his partners also had to sell their idea in the room face-to-face. Vaden's advice to those seeking funding is to create strategic answers to sales questions.
“How are you going to sell? How are you going to get a customer? How are you going to get your first customer, then your first hundred customers, then your first thousand customers? Then how are you going to have 100 people that are selling it, or how is it going to scale?” Vaden says. “It's very simple. Figure out how you're going to make one sale, and then figure how you're going to multiply that."
Want to land a publishing deal for your book idea? Forget about your ideas and passion and focus your book proposal on what the publisher wants to know, Vaden advises.
“What is your path for sales? What is the fastest path to cash?" Vaden says. "How are you generating revenue? Everything else is just details.”
2. Master your ego.
Vaden got to pick the mind of Zig Ziglar and was personally mentored by Eric Chester, a Hall of Fame speaker and bestselling author. I asked Vaden how to make the most of incredible opportunities like these, and he explained that you need to humble yourself and do what you’re told.
“The number-one thing that you have to do as a mentee is execute on their advice," Vaden says.
Chester told him to go and give 1,000 presentations, and then get back to him. So Vaden joined Toastmasters and spoke for free 304 times before his first professional presentation. Not many people would continue for free past the first 100 or maybe even 50 or 25 presentations. But those people likely won’t become masters, either.
3. Master your time.
This is the main strategy Vaden breaks down in Procrastinate on Purpose. He encourages readers not to focus on tactics or practices, but instead to change their mindset on time altogether.
"We have more technology, and yet we're more behind than ever before,” Vaden says. “We have more emails, more stuff on our to-do list, more things left unchecked at the end of the day. That's why efficiency doesn't work. That's trying to manage time.”
To multiply time, Vaden says we must stop operating in a complete state of urgency and instead give ourselves the emotional permission to spend time today on things that create more time tomorrow, via elimination, automation, delegation and procrastination. Successful people understand that even though it takes approximately 150 minutes to effectively teach and delegate a five-minute task, it’s worth it. He breaks it down:
“If you look at that task over one year instead of one day, and you go, ‘Okay, I'm going to spend five minutes a day on the task 250 working days of the year. That means in a year, I'm going to spend 1,250 minutes on the task.’ It's not, ‘Should I spend 150 minutes to save five?’ It's ‘Should I spend 150 to save 1,250?’ It's why the rich get richer. It's not because they're greedy. They think differently. And the way that wealthy people think about money is exactly the same way that multipliers think about time."
Again, Vaden says we need to give ourselves “emotional permission,” which is key for many mompreneurs like myself (and dadpreneurs as well).
“[Instead of thinking] 'I have to be the one to buy his diapers, and I have to be the one to make his food and I have to be the one that changes every diaper, because it makes me feel like a good parent,' another way of thinking about that is, 'Actually, somebody can help with that stuff, so that when I have time, we're sitting focused and we're playing, and we're engaging, and we're snuggling and we're teaching him.'"
4. Master yourself.
One of Vaden’s key principles is that one never stops. To truly become a master at sales, writing, coaching, speaking or anything else, he says, we can never stop learning or striving.
"There's no invisible finish line of when you have figured out how to maximize your time to the fullest," Vaden says. "Success is never owned. Success is only rented, and the rent is due every day."
He went on, “Take the stairs. Do the things that nobody else is willing to do. Do the things you know you should be doing even when you don't feel like doing them. And if you can get yourself to do that, if you can get yourself to take the stairs, then you can do anything."
5. Master serving.
The most important point Vaden shares is one that comes up again and again with my millionaire guests: Focus on your customer. Focus on solving their problem and adding more value than anyone else. Southwestern Consulting calls this “servant selling.”
“The more you can be focused on helping other people, whether that's in sales, or leadership, or public speaking, or writing or podcasting, it's hard to be nervous when your heart's on service," Vaden says. "That's what it's all about.”
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