Back to School (And Back to Basics!)


By Julie Escobar

It’s that time again. Kids everywhere are returning to school and although mine are all but grown up, I got to see a glimpse of that first step into “the big world” in the eyes of my nephew Eli, who is still in grammar school. Shy and unsure, but excited and eager—it got me thinking about some of those first lessons we learn, how important they are to building a better life and how easily we can lose sight of them in our hustled and hurried world.

So this month take a look at some of the best lessons you learned along the way and consider what impact great teachers made on your life. Then remember that some of those lessons we can put to good use today as we grow our businesses, build relationships, and seek that peace of mind and life balance that can be so elusive for professional salespeople and entrepreneurs.

BUILD RAPPORT: Part of that “playing well with others” talent that we had to learn as children, great parents and teachers shared the art of finding common ground and appreciating differences. They taught us to pay attention to the people around us with an open mind and a compassionate spirit. I believe this life skill is a very real common denominator in top producers. Unlike their “hard sell” or self-indulgent counterparts, the savvy sales professional understands that building rapport with a client or customer (or anyone for that matter) is about creating a connection. It’s not about qualifying them or finding an edge, but more about building a relationship, creating a dialogue, and opening a door to what could be a lifetime client.

Some keys to building solid rapport:

  • Ask Questions. Truly one of the best skills of any salesperson, practicing the art of asking the RIGHT questions (those that are engaging, compelling and about the other person) is a must.
  • Listen more than speak. My mom always said that we were given two ears and one mouth in that proportion for a reason! Listening has become a lost art with many people but it is the key to information gathering, showing respect and displaying genuine interest.
  • Lighten up! It’s okay to smile, to laugh and to be warm—after all think of the alternative!
  • Look around you. Whether you’re in a home or someone’s office you’ll find clues to their interests, family, accomplishments. All of which are a great springboard for conversation.
  • Do your homework. If possible, learn as much about your customer or client before you meet to give yourself a head start on getting to know them!

BE BRAVE: I like this one. Did your mom or dad ever tell you to be brave in a tough situation? To lead and not follow? To “just try” when you felt like you couldn’t do something? Is that something that you’ve passed down to your children or your protégés? To do extraordinary things, to accomplish greatness, and build foundations, you have to step out of the wings a little. You have to dare to be different and meet challenges where they are. I love the Robert Anthony quote, “The opposite of bravery is not cowardice but conformity.” There’s not much we can’t achieve if we’re willing to do the tough stuff, to fight for what we believe in and to put our bravest face forward —even when we’re feeling not so courageous.

FOLLOW THE RULES: This is a tough one. In changing economies, in difficult times, and frankly, when we’re hell-bent to get something we want, it’s tempting to break the rules or to take short cuts. I’m not saying you have to follow the trends, or conform to the masses but in terms of the basic laws and principles of character, integrity, and professionalism, show them what you’ve got. The very best of you. From good manners to good behavior to good business practices, trust me, in the long run it makes a huge difference to your reputation and the name you present to those around you.

 It’s a funny thing about standards; people will rise or fall to the level that you set them. Know that it’s fine to set boundaries and expectations. In fact, look at the marines for example. Their motto is they only want a “few good men.” Not everyone—just the few. That’s high standards, and they have a line out the door to get in. Whether you are dealing with customers, kids, friends or family, it’s important for you—and for them—to know that when it comes to the important things that matter (like that integrity and character stuff we just talked about) you’re not willing to accept or deliver less. Believe it or not, your bottom line will reflect the high bar that you set.

KEEP LEARNING: Oh my! If we could just convince EVERY child the benefit of this one! Our capacity to learn is limitless as is our ability to utilize that knowledge to enrich our lives, advance our careers and soothe our souls. Each week or each month, determine a skill, a technique, a piece of history, or a tool for the future and then learn everything you can. Become the master of your profession and feed your mind with all the wit, wisdom and knowledge that you can. It will keep you younger, sharpen your competitive edge, and hopefully, ignite a love of learning in those around you as well!

So, tap into that childhood spirit of old and dust off the best lessons you’ve learned from teachers of every size, shape and color. Maybe it was an elementary teacher, a high school coach, a wizened grandmother, a mentor or a parent—take the time this month to remember what they told you and what they taught you. While you’re at it, if possible, let them know they’ve made a difference in someone’s life. I did that and made someone’s day. Who’s day can you make? “Take out your pencil and paper and let’s begin…”

As always, call us if you need us at 1-866-234-8740   and visit our site online at  We’ll always do our best to ensure your “homework” is a great experience!

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