The goal of this episode is to inspire you to see how using pretty darn simple principles could change your life and your accomplishments completely, and make good things happen for you that right now you might not even be able to dream of. Excellence, and what it can mean to your life, in both the short run and the long run. I was fortunate in that from an early age I had a good role model for excellence.
NOTE: Complete transcript available at the bottom of the page.
Screw The Commute Podcast Show Notes Episode 064
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Higher Education Webinar – https://screwthecommute.com/webinars[01:39] Tom's introduction to Excellence [04:17] I wanted to… [06:58] Persistent and Consistent [11:28] Real Estate and Flying [16:39] Night Clubs and Pizza Shops [18:42] Sponsor message [19:50] Prankmasters [23:37] The Commercial Internet [27:25] Making products excellent
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Episode 064 Excellence and how it can open doors you never dreamed of.
Episode 063 Steve Olsher reinvention radio. This guy got screwed for 7 million dollars and made a big comeback.
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I know this is going to seem like a brag fest of things I’ve accomplished. I assure you it’s not and I actually could include tons more stuff that I’ve done in my life. The goal of this episode is to inspire you to see how using pretty darn simple principles could change your life and your accomplishments completely and make good things happen for you that right now you might not even be able to dreams of.
Excellence and what it can mean to your life in both the short run and the long run. I was fortunate in that from an early age I had a good role model for excellence. I can remember being maybe 8 or 9 years old watching my dad wire a breaker box for a house. He was making the wires lay totally flat against a wooden back board and making a gorgeous 90-degree bend to head them toward the electric box. I vividly remember asking him why he didn’t just cut across toward the box instead of making the 90-degree bend to save wire.
I’ll never forget this. He stopped what he was doing and sternly looked me in the eye and he said, “Don’t you ever do a poor job at anything just to save a little bit of cost or trouble.” Man, I remember that as if it happened yesterday. He said, “Years from now someone will look at this job and know a professional did it.” He also said, “If there is ever any trouble, they will be able to troubleshoot it much easier.” And then he said it again, “Don’t you ever do shoddy work at anything you do.”
That one lesson has done me well over many years and not everything worked to the level I wanted it to, but it worked out way better than it would have had I not been raised with the principle of excellence.
Let me tell you the major turning points in my life based on the idea that I wanted to be really good at things that I do and no I’m not trying to brag here. I’ll be breaking these things I’ve done down into lessons that, if you use them, can make great things happen in your life.
Here they are and I hope they don’t bore you and I’m not telling you this to brag. I’m going to show you that a pursuit of excellence can make multiple great things happen in your life.
I wanted to get a Football Scholarship to Penn State. I ended up with football scholarship offers to over 40 schools and went to West Virginia University.
I wanted to be State Champion in wrestling in the State of Pennsylvania which was a hotbed for high school wrestling. I got 4th in the State only beaten by two guys that went on to play pro football.
I wanted to become a pilot (basically a high-class chauffeur). I ended up as a freelance charter pilot under part 135 of the FAA regulations which is a higher level than a regular old charter pilot.
I wanted to get into real estate. By the time I graduated college I owned 5 apartment buildings and a hotel and I started with nothing.
I wanted to start a nightclub. I owned the second biggest nightclub in the State. I don’t know how big of a deal that is hahaha
I wanted to start an entertainment company. “Prankmasters” which was my company did over 4000 custom designed practical jokes.
I wanted to be a pro speaker. I got my fee up to $20,000.00 and then started doing public seminars where I was grossing at least $100,000.00 plus per speech with back of the room sales.
People started begging me to help them with their speaking. Wrote the Wake ‘em Up video pro speaking system and the Wake ‘em Up Book, plus AmazingPublicSpeaking.com an enormous membership site.
Started selling on line. Got so good at it that people started begging me to teach them. Started the longest running most successful mentor program, the Great internet marketing Retreat Center and the Internet Marketing Training Center of Virginia. And remember I’m going to get back to tips you can use. This is even starting to bore me listening to all this stuff I’ve done hahahaha Believe me, I’m going to show you the things that I did to make all these good things happen. So, hang in there.
In the speaking business I refused to do Fraudulent things at seminars and I’m persona non grata at many of them because I exposed the rip-offs. I wrote an article called “The Top 20 Seminar Scams”. Hollywood noticed, I got an agent and we’re developing a TV show called ScamBrigade. They told me not to quit my day job LOL.
In my overall body of work Hollywood again noticed and a Documentary producer who has done 38 documentaries chose me as “The American Entrepreneur.”
OK. I know that sounded like a giant brag fest but there are a bunch of lessons in there which I’m now going to get to. If you follow the lessons, I assure you good things will happen to you.
Let’s break it down to some of the ideas that you can start implementing in your own personal and business life.
Let’s go back to all the sports stuff. First let me say that I was not in any way a natural. I was not that coordinated, strong, or fast. I had lots of fat on me and my waist was way bigger than my chest. So how is it that a non-coordinated weak fatty could achieve quite a bit in sports.
Persistency and consistency. When I made first team at a top 20 football school, it wasn’t because I was the strongest, or fastest. Not even close. Of course, you have to have a certain level of physicality to compete at that level and I’ll discuss how I got that later, but I was probably the least strong, slowest person to play my position. The reason I earned my starting position was because I was consistent. The coaches knew that I knew the plays and could even help others who forgot what to do. They knew that I was always in shape no matter how hot it was. They knew I was even tempered so I wouldn’t do stupid things to get big penalties, etc.
Now let’s go back to the persistency and consistency from the physical point of view. Many of the guys were natural athletes. They could do nothing over the summer and come back stronger and faster the next year. One of my roommates literally did nothing over the summer and came back running faster and bench pressing 50 pounds more than when he left.
That really sucks. But I must say, …being natural at something is not always a blessing. Many of the recruits at my school were fantastic natural athletes. The problem with that is many times people take things for granted. That makes it easy for them to blow off a workout or do nothing all summer knowing they would be fine in the fall. Not so with me. At a top 20 college football school virtually everyone can kill you physically. I maintained a heavy weightlifting, stretching and running program year-round.
The hard part for most people is what you do when no one is watching. For me that meant during the summer when no coach or other player was around, I kept up my schedule. I visualized what would happen if I slacked off. I visualized running on that field as a first team player for that first set of downs. As I played offensive guard, I visualized knocking out linebackers (which I did on several occasions because in those days you didn’t have to keep your elbows in when you smacked someone in the head).
When you can find it in yourself to work hard when no one is watching it shows when someone is watching. I also kept up my schedule during the entire school year. When everyone else was partying and smoking dope I was in the hallway outside my dorm room doing 30 minutes of stretching. And yes, I was made fun of and my nickname was “The Rock”. Not because I was strong as a rock. They said I had a personality like a rock. Hahaha. The jokes on them. Out of 31 scholarship athletes in my freshman picture only six of us graduated. The rest of those “great personality” people got thrown out, and flunked out, got arrested and I think one of them even died.
My sports life was somewhat like the tortoise and the hare fable. I just kept plodding along and great things came from it.
So, what can you take from this little section? You can pass up people that are naturally better than you just by being persistent and consistent and impervious to jeers, teasing and negativity from other people.
Use visualization when you’re by yourself and you need motivation to keep improving your skills when no one is looking.
Real Estate and Flying
Alright let’s move on to the five apartment buildings and a hotel and the charter pilot work. This is the concept of giving before you get. With regard to the hotel I had already used some of the persistency and consistency traits to impress owners of apartment buildings to sell them to me and hold the mortgage themselves, i.e. I didn’t have to go to a bank. How a deal like that works is an idea for an episode on real estate. Now let’s get to the hotel deal and the concept of giving before you get.
Even though I owned apartments in Morgantown WV while still in college, I was charging more to the students I was renting to than it cost me to rent from other people. My landlord was a guy named Frank Biafora. During the course of the year he would come over to the house I was renting to make repairs. Whenever he would come over, I would tell him I would help him, but I wanted him to teach me what he was doing. This went on the entire year. At the end of the year he came over and said he wanted to talk to me. I thought, Oh Oh. What did I do wrong? LOL, He said he had been renting apartments in this town for 25 years and not once. NOT ONCE had any body offered to help him let alone want to learn something.
He said, he wanted to retire and move to Florida. He said he owned a hotel in Fairmont, WV which was about 20 minutes away. He said, “I want you to have it.” He said if I came up with the first mortgage, he would hold back the second mortgage so I would have a no money down deal. I went to 50 different lending institutions and was shooed away from most. I kept at it and kept at it which goes back to the trait of consistency and persistency. I finally got the first mortgage, I paid it off, paid him off and made about $65,000.00 a year and then sold out to the city for six figures and ended up making about $400,000.00 in about six years and only had to go to the place one day a week to pick up deposit slips and make any small repairs.
So, what did we learn from this and what does it have to do with excellence? Being persistent and consistent is an excellent trait in a person. Also, giving before you get is an excellent trait and normally pays off handsomely.
Hey Tom. What about the flying and charter pilot stuff? OK. Let’s talk about that. It’s very expensive to take flying lessons. The beginning stuff is not that bad but when you get into commercial, and multiengine and instrument ratings that let you fly in bad weather, it can be really, really expensive. Plus, you’ve got tons of military guys with jet experience and not that many jobs to go around.
So, what did I do? I hung out at the airport. I worked for free. I took every flight I could to deliver planes across the country. I picked up brand new planes at the Cessna factory in Wichita and flew them back to Pittsburgh. Hahaha In those days the planes came with no radios. You had the radios installed at your local radio shop. I would fly down Route 70 reading the road signs.
The point is, I was able to build all my hours to get my commercial, multiengine and Instrument hours by working hard for free and I got paid back with a very expensive education and I was hired for $30.00 per hour for a couple years until I got sick of being a high-class chauffeur.
What were the excellent traits here? I was always on time or early for flights. Sometimes I slept at the airport to make sure I was absolutely ready for critical flights. I treated the clients, who were sometimes scared very professionally and I honed my skills so the flight was as smooth as humanly possible on small twin engine aircraft.
Ya see? Excellence can be as simple as being on time consistently. Treating people professionally and giving before you get…. and I guess a few sore backs from sleeping on the couch at the airport LOL
OK. Let’s switch to the nightclub/pizza shop days. Excellence there was not being chincey on the cheese and pepperoni. Delivering on a realistic time schedule. Getting the orders right every time. Being courteous at the cash register and waiting tables. Keeping things clean. Being professional in the handling of drunks and troublesome guests because we served alcohol.
In this case excellence meant not trying to save 25cents on a pizza which would create unhappy customers. It meant giving a level of courtesy not known at a pizza shop and bar. And it also goes back to a recurring theme of being on time. The doors opened on time and the pizzas were delivered on time which wasn’t easy. There was no GPS. Literally we would have directions to the person’s house like “go down route 857. When you see the big red barn turn right on a gravel road, go about a half mile and you’ll see some sheep on the left right before you turn onto our lane. When you see the y in the lane take the left-hand part of the Y and watch out sometimes the bull gets loose. If so, blow the horn and we’ll come out to the truck to pickup the pizza.
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When I got out of that business after two gunfights, knife fights and over 100 violent encounters with bikers trying to kill me and they shot up my car with shotgun blasts I decided the next business I got into would be fun for me and fun for the people that hired me. I was watching Candid Camera and I got the idea for a crazy entertainment company called Prankmasters. We custom designed practical jokes. This was long before Punk’d and Jackass. Even though it was a crazy company if you want to be successful, excellence still applies. We answered the phone full time so you didn’t get voice mail. Even though traffic was some of the worst in the world…this was in Washington, D.C. because I knew I would have to have a big city to do this, we did everything humanly possible to be on time. I.e. we could have overbooked to grab some extra jobs and then made everyone mad because in Wash. D.C. you couldn’t possibly be sure to be on time if you overbooked. This would have killed referrals and generated lots of refunds. Who wants that? It’s easier to be excellent if you think long term rather than just trying to make a quick buck.
We did more than 4000 jobs in that business with me doing over 1000 comic performances personally. And I wrote custom humor pretty much every day for the six years I ran that company. The business was very successful and got worldwide publicity but I was always thinking there was something out there for me that was bigger than this. I didn’t know whether it was TV or a movie or what, but I just knew something was out there.
It’s a bizarre story for another time but I found the next bigger thing for me. It was professional speaking. It was perfect. I had lots of business experience and I had lots of comic timing on stage. The only thing I didn’t have was the skill to create speeches and getting professional speaking jobs. So, I relied on another thing my Dad taught me. If you need to learn something, study like crazy and work with it until you master it.
My work was cut out for me. To be an excellent speaker I bought every book I could find on the subject (my library has over 200 speaking books) I bought every tape and video I could find. I joined the professional speakers association. I took consultations from other pro speakers. I didn’t know anything about microphones and meeting rooms. Heck I was doing small parties for the past six years.
So, this is my first example for you of how my quest to be excellent as a pro speaker had unintended good consequences. I got so good onstage people started to notice. Other speakers started asking me for help. I was helping so many other speakers I couldn’t get my own work done. Something had to give.
That’s when I wrote the “Wake ‘em UP Business Presentations” book and created the “Wake ‘em Up Video Professional Speaking System”. Besides my own speaking I started making a fortune teaching others pro speaking skills. I never intended this. I only wanted to become a really great speaker myself.
Now let’s rinse and repeat
Just like the Shampoo bottle that says, “Use the shampoo, rinse it out and then repeat”, when the commercial Internet came along around 1994, I thought, “It’s hard enough to sell my products and services across the street. You mean I can sell my stuff around the world from my desktop in my basement. This is great! I’m going to figure this out.” From 1994 to 1996 I studied the Internet. It was crazy. I didn’t make a nickel for those two years until I got good training from a guy named Cory Rudl. He was the 30-year-old grandfather of Internet Marketing. I got training from him in 1996 and by the year 2000. I was an Internet Multimillionaire.
Again, I was just trying to be excellent selling my own stuff. Guess what happened? Even before I became a multimillionaire and only one year after I got good training, people started to notice and started begging me to teach them. I founded one of the top three longest running Internet seminars called “Buttcamp”. As I said earlier, I come from a comic background and people were begging me to do an Internet Marketing “Bootcamp”. I thought to myself, I can’t just do a bootcamp. Everybody does bootcamps. I thought, “I’m sitting on my rear end making all this money. I’ll call it a “ButtCamp”. It caught on and I’ve done them in 11 countries and all over the US since 1997 only in London they made me call it a “bum” camp LOL.
It was another great example of how my quest for excellence lead to unexpected positive consequences in that I’m now considered an “Internet Guru” (btw I don’t call myself that) which lead to my Internet mentor program and my Internet school which is the only one of its kind in the country….probably the world.
In a few minutes I’m going to give you another couple ways to be excellent when you are making a product but before that I’ll give you a little idea of how a lifetime of excellence can play out.
Hollywood actually noticed. Years ago I was speaking at a memorial service for one of my mentors Dottie Walters. Unbeknownst to me a movie producer was in the crowd. I briefly met her after the service and never thought anything else about it. Apparently, she started following my career and years later she approached me about being the subject of her 38th documentary called “The American Entrepreneur” ….I thought you had to be dead to have a documentary done about you, but I guess they are dropping their standards. LOL It should premiere next year sometime.
Would this have happened had I not had a quest for excellence over a long time? I didn’t have Hollywood connections. My family was not famous or in the movie business. I believe it would never have happened had I not been consistently putting out good work. You all will be invited to the online premiere. You can see the trailer now at https://www.Facebook.com/americanentrepreneurfilm please like the page, watch the trailer and leave a comment. I’ll respond personally.
Let me give you a few tips on making products excellent
I’ve been selling e-books for many years I think about 17 years. I have a wedding speech and wedding toast e-book which helps people when they have to stand up and say something at their friends or relative’s wedding.
I could have easily put the e-book out with the basics of the technique to do the speech or toast and been done with it. I remembered my Dad’s words and I took 4 more days to go through my hundreds of speaker and humor books to find every piece of wedding related humor and quotes. Then I wrote an extra section on how to turn seemingly negative humor about marriage into something funny and sweet.
Compiling and putting all these references materials took almost a complete business week, but just like my Dad said, “Don’t worry about a little extra time or expense when it comes to making excellent products and services. Those books have been selling now for 17 years and I can’t even remember one refund request because I went overboard to make sure the person buying that e-book had everything they needed to get the job done.
Around the same time period I did the same thing with a book on Eulogies and it also still sells today with no refund requests. The only thing I did different was spend time researching lots of quotes and poems on suffering loss.
One of the best-selling business books of all time was called “In search of Excellence” 43 companies were highlighted in the book. Many of which have fallen on hard times or gone out of business. There’s actually a spin off book called “In Search of Stupidity”. I think many of those companies that failed or had hard times because they forgot about excellence in all areas of their business.
So, here’s a little recap of the many things I try to do to maintain excellence in my business.
Be persistent and consistent. You’ll make rapid progress in your skills and people can depend on you because of your consistency.
Be early or on time
Give before you get to prove yourself and stand out from the crowd (like helping my landlord in college)
Don’t be chincey with your products
Treat People professionally
Answer your phone and talk to people
Study and implement like crazy and people will notice.
Do enough big things over time and maybe even Hollywood will notice.
I hope you strive for excellence in everything you do.
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