Talk to 550 People a Day

At the Leadercast Conference, I heard Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP AG, speak. When he was a kid, he owned a deli. His competition was 711. Without going into all the details, he made it very successful.

After the deli, his first “real” job was working for Xerox in sales. In the beginning of his career there, he was assigned a mentor and went with him to sales meetings. The first meeting he went to, he took over the sale for his mentor, and made the sale without even having to give a demo. He went on to be very successful in sales with Xerox.

When reflecting on why was he able to have so much success at Xerox, he attributed it to knowing how to interact with people. He said, “In the deli I owned, I talked to over 550 people a day. I know how to interact and relate with all kinds of people.”

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In other words, Bill had “practiced” getting to know people, learning how they think, and learning how to interact with them 550 times a day in the deli. He put in the hours necessary to become good with people.

His story challenged me to think about how much practice I am putting in at the things I want to get good at. For instance:

  • If I want to get good a fundraising:
    • How many calls am I making a day?
    • How many people am I talking to a day?
    • How many meetings am I having each week?
    • How many asks am I making a week?
  • If I want to get good a writing:
    • How many words am I writing a day?
  • If I want to get good at speaking:
    •  How many times am I speaking? 

Whether it’s Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule or Bill McDermott speaking 550 people a day, the lesson is clear: If we want to be world-class at something, you need to be practicing . . . a lot.

John Maxwell says, “The secret of your success is always found in your daily agenda.

If I looked over your agenda everyday, would I see the practice necessary to be successful in the areas you want to be successful? 

If not, you better start practicing today.

Action steps:

  • What skills do you need to practice on a daily basis to get you to where you want to go? 
  • Make a list of those skills and find a way to practice them everyday.

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