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How to Achieve Success… Just by Listening

by Kevin D. Crone

April 24, 2017

One morning on Fort Myers Beach, Jack, a successful Michigan businessman, stopped by in his Maserati to ask if I wanted to go out on his very big boat fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead of fishing, we started talking about success – his ups and downs and how he blew away competition and worked hard to build his business. He worried out loud that he doesn’t think his managers and the young leaders in his industry know how to succeed today.

He touched on work ethic. He said it would be great to have everything you want, a great family life, all the trips and toys and houses, “But it costs money that you earn” he said. “How do you get everything including the great family?… Work extremely hard at it and enjoy it with the family.”

Challenges? Well his life was about going for it – despite fear.  “You can’t live by fear. You go further in your thinking, do things quicker, and take things deeper.  Go around it, through it and face it.  Just act . You’ll figure it out because of your fearless action.” Will his young people do that?  “Absolutely not.  And someone, regardless of age, will come along and eat their lunch.”

His views on… Not accepting the lack of growth.  

“You either grow or die.  No decision to be made here. You figure out what it takes and you do it, regardless of the immediate fears and consequences.”  He told me of a time when he bought a building which meant no take-home pay for a while.  All successful entrepreneurs I know have a story like that while I think of his big boat.  His advice that all of us can heed, “Someone is going to kick your butt who will know how to succeed.  Count on it. So why not be that person to your competitors?”

I think of all the CEOs, owners and leaders I’m currently working with to help them re-think their business so they can have a go-to-market strategy that takes share; positions them to increase sales; and prepares their salespeople to take the competitive hill with them. They are all, to some degree, like Jack. They are what Malcolm Gladwell calls an outlier.

They think about what’s going on (which automatically puts them outside their box). They pursue what makes sense to them and their customers, and are not overly concerned with what people think of them. They pursue their wants.

  • Alex, what a practical tiger, an incredible doer.
  • Walter, tired of the way his industry does things and is changing it.
  • Jeff, who wants to have fun growing his traditional business in a scary, changing industry with an offering that matches up with what his customers are motivated to buy.
  • Chris, a smart analytical type who really sees what is going on and is always moving forward.
  • David, from an immigrant student visa to making a terrific manufacturing business in two provinces but is now faced with the commoditized issue and the way distributors unfairly treat him.
  • Andy, just wants his baby (company) to grow and will do what it takes and he doesn’t own it.  He basically drives sales and takes care of customers for the Canadian division of a German company.
  • Doug, who is willing to think through how to offer, market and sell in a flatter market with his dealers who are not as aggressive as he thinks they should be.  Yet he is changing his leadership, his perceptions, putting aside his disappointments so he can create a new future for his brand.

I could go on with descriptions of other leaders I am with who take the time to rethink, relearn and act quickly on what it takes to succeed, change and grow . Funny, we never discuss the word change. We just, as we call it, advance up the hill with our troops, to think through whatever is needed to win business.

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Too many other companies and their leaders I meet are too laid back, thinking everything is okay, resting on their past success, waiting out tougher times for a return to the flourishing, steady more stable ones. They think they are planning and implementing, yet they seem to be waiting for all the pieces to come together before they act. (For example, get the right team in place, improve CRM, improve website or social media marketing tools etc.) They say all of these issues create too many distractions, too much to do now to take the time to rethink, to change how they go to market. Huh! They need to remember when they were like Jack. Without realizing it they lack the drive and focus of the entrepreneur to just get at it.

I have become a catalyst to a small community (I want it that way) of leaders and their teams who are igniting their business by waking up themselves and their teams to ignite their customers with their business . It is exciting and fun working with these fabulous leaders. I was advising, teaching, giving away advice for six and a half years through my Monday Morning Mentors, free workshops, webinars etc. and what was missing was actually having people do the things that needed to be done. A young person encouraged me to take a few companies at a time and help them implement quickly. Education and information is cheap and somewhat useless in comparison to what I see my leaders are doing and what Jack has done. They pull the trigger on new business strategies. Others read, Google, and talk about them, yet seem so overwhelmed with technology and their day to day problems to act. It is tough, challenging, but very fulfilling to work with a bunch of Jacks.

Thanks Jack!  Everyone in business I know should go fishing with you and listen.




Who are you listening to? What do you need to implement?

Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
(905) 826-7300

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