Having been around entrepreneurs most of my career, I have learned a great deal about the correlation between success in business; making lots of money; and one’s continued education. My opinion was formed over a three decade period as I witnessed the best of breed businesspeople consistently filling the seats of business and technical seminars and workshops that I attended as well as hosted. This never came as a surprise to me. It just disappointed me terribly that those who needed the training and education the most, never showed up for the classes. In this week’s lesson, we’ll be discussing why the BEST always seem to show up in the classrooms.
If I had to choose one major reason that I have personally enjoyed a successful business career, I would have to point to the fact that I probably invested more time, money and resources educating myself, my employees and my clients, than all of my fiercest competitors put together. I’m not sure why I decided to choose this path early on. No one ever gave me the advice to do so. However if I had to guess I would probably attribute my lifelong mission of continuing education to a sense of pride. I just wanted to be the best at what I did and the only path I knew was to learn from others who knew more than I did in classrooms; seminars; audio recordings; books and magazines. Somehow I always MADE the time and invested the money to learn.
It wasn’t very long before I figured out that the best way to obtain the best clients in the marketplace was to host free seminars and workshops for them. We hosted one night technical and business related seminars almost every month. While we invited a very large client base of all skill and success levels to attend, the seats were always filled with the BEST clients in the marketplace. Many of the mediocre or struggling clients would often sign up for our seminars, but would rarely show up to class. Since we served food and beverages to the participants, it was important to predict with some degree of accuracy how many people we would need to feed each time. We used to keep detailed statistics on who signed up for which classes and who actually attended. Out of every 100 people, our stats proved that 30 would not show up. This pattern became as predictable as a 24 hour day.
As our company grew and our seminars grew in size and quality, we began to charge a nominal fee of around 25 dollars to cover the cost of excellent speakers, refreshments and meeting rooms. The fees were paid in advance. We hoped that the mediocre participants that promised to show up for our free seminars and never did would turn a new leaf and begin attending since they were now paying a fee. Unfortunately, our 30% no-show stayed consistent. The BEST were in their seats and the slackers were making excuses the next day about why they missed the seminar.
While we would probably have paid the mediocre clients to show up and educate themselves in order to operate their businesses better and become a better client, I came to believe that no matter what we would do, they would have an excuse not to attend. On the other hand, our best clients were anxious to attend every seminar we held, along with their managers and employees – regardless of our nominal fee per person.
My experiences did not end with the seminars I hosted. I signed my sales team up for year long commitments to attend seminars every month where some of us had to travel 60 miles to the venue after a hard workday. Speaking personally and for most of my team, “we couldn’t wait to hear the wisdom of Zig Ziglar; the late Og Mandino; Brian Tracy; Jim Rohn; Denis Waitley; Tony Robbins; Ed Foreman; Wayne Dyer; Roger Dawson and scores of others who shared their knowledge; strategies and stories with us.” I got to know the producers of these seminars and their experiences and opinions on why the BEST always show up were no different than mine. They marketed heavily to business people in a marketplace of around two million people and would only get around 1200 participants to sign up for these seminars. They had the same experiences with no shows and confirmed my own data that only THE BEST show up consistently.
My advice to anyone who is looking to improve their business or their life in general is to hang around with individuals with a thirst for knowledge. Attend as many classes as possible and become a listener, reader and learner. The party hearty drinking crowd may not be the crowd of choice if you seek long-term success. Fun should always be a part of your life every day. However, once you have fun learning and growing your skills and knowledge in order to enjoy your career and lifestyle more, partying hearty will not be what you live for.
Always strive to be the best you can. Invest in your education. And enjoy the fruits of your labor for a lifetime!