At the end of my first calendar year in sales, the owner of the company pulled all 100+ members of the sales team together and read out the names of the Top 10.
After the ceremony was over, the woman that coveted the 3rd spot came up to me and said, “Wow, Congratulations Michael. #9 in your first year. I had heard that you were doing well, but I had no idea you were leading your team. Would you mind if next week I sat with you and watched how you worked.”
Being an introvert with a speech impediment I was petrified to have anyone eavesdrop on my conversations, let alone one of the best in the office. Nevertheless, I agreed, and the following Monday when I walked into the sales pit there was another chair at my desk and a woman holding two cups of coffee with a smile on her face. From morning till night for the next five days, there she was, right by my side. She said little and wrote a lot.
When the week was winding down, I asked her why someone who was obviously doing very well had taken an interest in a newbie, instead of shadowing the top sales person, and the words that she said next still have me thinking to this day:
“There is a lot to learn by studying the best. However, there is also much to learn from the people that on paper should not be doing very well, but are. Whether they know it or not, these people have some tricks up their sleeves and I want to learn them. Next year when you hear who is in the Top 10, of course make friends with #1, but when you hear a name that surprises you, get to know them also.”
And with those words, she thanked me, shook my hand and turned back to her office in a manner in which only the cool can.
Who YOU Should Be Learning From:
It is easy to get caught up in the idea that in order to be the number one, we have to learn from number one.
We gobble up books by Tim Ferriss. We quote the words of Tony Robbins. We place the latest unicorn founder on a pedestal and research a hundred and one ways to replicate their process. However, throughout my career, life has reminded me time and time again of the lesson my mentor shared with me some 16 years ago:
“Sometimes it is the unassuming ones that end up teaching us the most.”
The people who drive Hondas and whose clothes never seem to lie right. The people that never get the chance to walk into the spotlight and shy away when their name is called for landing in sixth place.
We all know these types of people. They are the 55 year old man who quietly comes into work, rain or shine, and does their job and has done so for the last 30 years. They are the 35 year old woman who does nothing flashy, but consistently puts up good numbers. They are the 23 year old kid who does things a bit differently that the veterans seemed to have missed.
These are the people that my first mentor encouraged me to get to know — the people that she aptly nicknamed, “Mr. Number Six.”
Mr. Number Six:
My first mentor taught me that most people are not consistent. Not Mr. Number Six. He makes his calls every single day.
My first mentor taught me that most people over celebrate. Not Mr. Number Six. He shows up to work everyday with a clear head and focuses solely on his process.
My first mentor taught me that most people get discouraged when things go south. Not Mr. Number Six. He knows that in order to get to the good — he has to work through the bad.
My first mentor taught me that most people think only about themselves. Not Mr. Number Six. He understands that the best way to clear his own path is to help others to clear theirs.
My first mentor taught me that most people after a good month build castles in the sky. Not Mr. Number Six. He invests in himself and then adds a little bit more padding onto his children’s and grandchildren’s education fund.
At first glance it may appear that Mr. Number Six is just playing it safe and following the herd, but if you pay close attention something interesting pops out.
Mr. Number Six, by showing up everyday and doing his job, is in fact doing the exact opposite of most people.
He makes his calls every single day, most don’t.
He prioritizes his process over results every single day, most don’t.
He stays positive and on course every single day, most don’t.
He cares about the success of others every single day, most don’t.
He proactively invests in himself and his family every single day, most don’t.
Mr. Number Six is not charismatic and what he does is not glamorous. But my mentor taught me that Mr. Number Six, though he may not look the part, is your average millionaire.
And the best part — Mr. Number Six is accessible.
He is the guy sitting in your office right now plugging away.
He is guy sitting on the train reading a book that you heard was good.
He is guy who carries his little brown bag into the break room and sits down at the same table at the same time each day.
This week take a look around your office and scroll through your list of contacts. Identify the Mr. Number Six’s in your life and say hello. You may be surprised, even though he rarely gets asked for advice, if you take the time, you may just find that Mr. Number Six gives you the world.
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