I have shared this story in many of my presentations and it always seems to inspire someone. I hope this written version will accurately convey the energy in which it should be delivered.
It pretty much goes like this:
Years ago I took a job selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door. (Yes, I was desperate.) I didn’t have much confidence in my abilities.
No one thought I would make it more than a week. In fact I heard from someone, years later, that they had taken bets on how long I’d last. Obviously I wasn’t very impressive to them. The job was worse than difficult for me…sometimes, it was downright humiliating. I had no idea how I ended up in this place with Vaccuum people or what they were so amped up about. Who gets excited over a vacuum? Did I mention it was a ridiculously overpriced vacuum that looked like something my grandmother might have owned when my mother was young? I wasn’t impressed on first take and it was difficult to get over that first impression no matter how much they showed me it could do. All I could think was: “No one’s gonna buy this if you just show up with it and tell them it’s well over a thousand dollars!” Guess how many I sold in my first month? I believe I sold three. Maybe four and all to family members who were “helping me”. It was weird.
After a month of discouragement and one very real meltdown, the manager decided that since I kept coming back, they would throw me a bone. He sent me out with a guy who called himself “Ken Ro”. In fact, he announced his arrival everyday by yelling to the top of his lungs in true Samuel L. Jackson-esque style: “Ken-RO is here! Whoo!” At first he scared me a little, but it seemed to always get people smiling and laughing, so I accepted his total insanity as just part of the ambiance. I hadn’t spent any real time with him however, and this day with Ken Ro was sure to be unforgettable.
Kenny looked just like Montel Williams but WAY less mature!. He talked of himself in third person. That’s not easy to get away with. Somehow it seemed to fit him. He was a riot and I learned alot about people from him. I asked him what the heck RO meant and he gave me a long winded and very enthusiastic (southern Baptist preacher style) explanation that really made no sense at all but made everyone very electrified! We were all ready to be RO’s when he was done but he concluded on a hushed and dramatic note: “You don’t just get to be RO for no reason, son.” He said. “You gots to go out there and earrrrrn that title! You… you aint earned it yet.” I laughed a bit and then asked him: “Ok, I’ll bite. Haha! What do I have to do to earrrrn it?” (He was so serious about all this too.) He looked at me totally intense (maybe it was a look of insanity?) and he said: ” You gotta outsell the BEST! You gotta outsell KEN-ROOO!!! WHOOOO!!!!!!!”
I wish you could hear the voice he did all this in too it was priceless!
For some reason, I took that challenge and even though I’m usually not much of a competitor, I went out and did just that. It took me about two months but I finally outsold him one week by nearly double his numbers and in one day (same week), I matched his daily sales record.
I couldn’t wait to see his face when he saw the numbers posted. I waited quietly off to the side to see it. Sure enough, cocky and up to that point – undefeated – Ken-RO approached the wall. He was checking his chart against the usual suspects of top sellers and his face remained quite normal… until he saw it. By this time everyone in the office had gathered to see what was going to happen. Ken-Ro’s jaw dropped so fast I thought his brain was going to melt. He stood dumbfounded for only a second and then realized he was the center of attention and quickly composed himself. Turning over his shoulder to look at me he forced a big frown that looked more like a grin and said: “OK… OK…” nodding as he sauntered my way. “SO!” nodding again but this time more menacing like he was going to hurt me now. “SHAUN…” (His fist raised over his shoulder and eyes now popping out all scary like) “ROOOOOOOOO!!!!!!” and his hand came down into my hand catching me in a bro-style hand shake that seemed to never end as the whole office began to cheer and applaud. It was awesome.
And from that moment on when I walked into work, I was greeted with a round of “Shaun-RO!” by everyone.
Why am I telling you this? Because I think you can be a RO. Just remember: YOU GOTS TO EARN IT! You aren’t as limited in life as you think. Go be a RO!
061205-N-8148A-074 – Montel Williams, a talk show host and former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, spends time aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG-83) while traveling through the 5th Fleet area of operations to collect footage for a holiday special dedicated to U.S. service members. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)