I confess. I was not the best student during my school years. But one day, in Mr. Odell’s math class, I was struck by a comment he made. “The best mathematicians are lazy,” he said, adding, “the smartest people always look for shortcuts.” He then showed us how to eliminate multiple steps and still arrive at the correct answer. I now officially had permission to look for the shortcuts. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know anyone who would call me lazy, but I am always looking for the quickest, most straightforward way to finish.
In my early years as a fledgling businessman, I experimented with many different pursuits. Tying fishing flies, building fly rods, mowing grass, paper route, charms pops re-seller a/k/a ‘sucker dealer in junior high’, contractor, restaurant owner, mortgage broker, boat builder, concrete coatings, outdoor outfitter (rafting, canoeing, kayaking, climbing) fishing guide, chef, business performance consultant, SBA Loan packager, and, I even dipped my toes into the world of the Amway corporation. Yes, I was a soap salesman for a time. It was my first multi-level marketing experience, and frankly, there was so much about it that I truly loved.
It wasn’t long after joining that I met Ken Goss. Ken was steadfast in his belief in the principles of the Amway method of marketing and team building. “Just follow the formula,” he would often say. I watched all the successful Amway distributors work hard and make lots of money, but for some reason, I thought I could do it differently. Despite trying and failing at so many things, I couldn’t get Mr. Odell’s words out of my head. I was determined to find the shortcut to building a successful multi-level marketing business.
I spent a lot of time with Ken, constantly asking questions in search of my holy grail-the MLM shortcut. I asked him one day what was the one thing that was the most significant factor in his success. He hesitated, commenting that there were so many things, but I pressed him, and he said if he had to choose only one thing, it would be that he read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People every month. “The whole book?” I asked. “No, but I read something in the book almost every day,” he said, “It helps me to remember how to best communicate with my people.”
I wanted a different answer, so I said, “I know, Ken. I know reading is important, but there has to be something else that has played into your success.” He then said something that changed my life: “Nathan, you tell me that you know—are you sure about that?” “Yes,” I replied emphatically. Ken said, “Nathan, to know and not to do, is not to know!” Well, that left me without a response because I knew that he was correct.
So, I went and got a copy of the book and started reading with the idea that I would follow the book’s guidance and do what it said. It seemed like everyone suddenly got nicer. I was amazed; my business increased, and tasks involving other people were easier to complete and much more fun. I carried the book with me everywhere. People often say that it is the second most-read book in the world. Who knows, but it has sold over 30 million copies and, in my opinion, is one of the most influential books ever written.
So, I found my shortcut, and it was simple: don’t waste a lot of time trying to reinvent the wheel. Most of us think we know better than the experts what is best for us, even if it is not working, despite how easy it is to simply take existing knowledge and apply it to the present day.
So perhaps start the new year by doing some reading. You might win a new friend or have more influence over your world, and maybe you will find your formula for success.