Errol Gerson is a principal in a Management Consultant Firm, providing strategic Management consulting services to mid-size to large enterprises – specializing in strategic Financial Management planning, Succession Planning, Strategic Marketing and Management, Blue Ocean Seminars, Business Model Design, Merger and Acquisition Strategies and Blue Ocean Strategy consulting. Gerson also does 1 and 2 day management workshops on the above subjects.
After graduation from the University of Southern California, Gerson worked in public accounting and Consulting for the first 6 years of his career. In 1978 he went out on his own and founded a Business Management and Accounting company and ended up with over 40 employees. He sold the company to his partners and co-founded cow with 4 Art Center grads, and it was the first Interactive Design firm in the US in 1992 and subsequently sold his share to investors in 1998.
Gerson was then recruited to joining Creative Artists Agency (largest Talent Agency in the world) in 1998 as Director of New Media Consulting and was there until 2004 when he was recruited to become the COO. of the National Lampoon Television network which he ran for five years. Since leaving the Lampoon, he has been a Principal of the Gerson Group until today.
As an educator Errol Gerson has been teaching Business Management, Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Designers at the world-renowned Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, for the past 50 years. Errol has now taught some 5,350 students over a period of more than 150 continuous semesters at Art Center. During his tenure at Art Center, Errol Gerson has been the recipient of numerous Great Teacher awards, culminating with him being the recipient of the ‘first’ Legacy teaching Award given in 2006 for 100 semesters of teaching. The ‘Spirit of Entrepreneurship’ course is limited to 25 -30 students who have a desire to learn how to develop and grow a large enterprise venture.
Errol Gerson has also guest lectured at his Alma Mater USC-Marshall School of Business, The Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate School, the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University, Cal-State Northridge and many other colleges and universities. He lectures on Negotiation Strategies, Blue Ocean Strategies, Sales and Marketing, Wealth Creation, and other related areas of business. He has taught professional seminars for the A.I.G.A., Advertising Photographers of America, Society of Illustrators, Industrial Design Society of America, Wedding Photographers International and many others. Gerson has been widely published on a myriad of subjects related to the Business of Design, The Role of Design in Society, The basics of Entrepreneurship, Success and Motivation strategies, Goal setting and Life planning. Many of these articles can be found in LinkedIn, Instagram, The Huffington Post, the AIGA quarterly, American Management Association, Journal of Social Science Review and others.
Errol Gerson / Pro community - 3point175
Jeanette: Errol is an educator, entrepreneur and marketing master who has been teaching management, entrepreneurship and leadership for over 50 years at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. where he is somewhat of an institution. He is also a principal in a management consulting firm called Gerson Group, providing strategic management consulting services to midsize and large enterprises.
Our podcast today will be about selling in business and entrepreneurship. We would like to understand the true meaning of selling and be able to do business differently. Errol we are super excited to have you here with us today. Indeed, we are in the presence of greatness. If I may say so, we have experienced first-hand the wonderful stories and the principles behind them and the wealth of knowledge that you have to offer, and we would really like to share this with our audience to be able to give people this gift.
So, without further ado, we'd like to kick off perhaps if you could tell us some of your stories relating to business and sales strategy, how did you get onto this journey first of all?
Errol: Initially my education is from the University of Southern California, where I studied accounting as an undergraduate and then I went to work for Arthur Andersen, a very large accounting firm. And then decided I wanted more education and so I went back to school, and I got my MBA in finance and management, and I worked for them for about seven years and in the last two years I used to wake up in the morning saying to myself something wrong, I'm not happy going to work, I'm not looking forward to doing what I'm doing, I'm not learning, I'm not growing. You got to do something about it.
And one Friday afternoon, after doing a little bit of financial planning for myself. I walked into my boss’s office, and I went adiós and he went what does that mean? I said, you know what it means. It means goodbye. He says, why do you leaving early? I said no, I'm leaving permanently, and his eyes got bigger round and he said what's this all about? And I explained to him that I had posed an existential question to myself. Are you a chief or you a worker? and I came to the conclusion that being a worker wasn't fulfilling. There's nothing wrong with that, by the way, but for me there was no fulfillment. So, he said, what are you going to do? I said I'm going to start my own company. He says, but you have no clients. I said nor did Arthur Andersen when they started. And he laughed. He said, you have some money. I said yeah. I've got about four months of money. He says you think at last. I said no, I don't think, I guarantee it will last. He stood up and shook my hand and said, I wish you the best and out I walked.
It was a Friday afternoon and I spent Saturday and Sunday going what the hell did you just do? Hahahaha. Monday morning, I went to a place called Century City in Los Angeles where all the big buildings are all corporate and I rented an entire 120 square feet. It was so small I barely had room to change my mind. But I bought a used desk, a used chair. I got a phone. And I put a piece of paper on the door that said, Errol Gerson and company need clients. And days went by, and I started calling my network and letting people know what I was doing and sure enough within a few weeks one or two people had called and said could you do this? Could you do that? can you do income tax? the answer is yes. And then I decided to lubricate the process.
People who know me or heard me say you have to stick out an eighth of an inch. And I believe you do. So, what did I do? I called the Dean of the USC Medical School and asked if I could teach the doctors who are about to graduate how to run a practice. I had studied up books on how to run a good practice, he said with pleasure 2 weeks later I was teaching doctors. Three years later, I was getting those doctors as customers. I was growing my own trees. I was making the mountain come to me. I then went to the dental school and the law school and then I decided because I loved music and I spent my early parts of my youth in a rock and roll band. I went to the Big rock and roll clubs in Los Angeles, the Whiskey, the Roxy, the Troubadour. And every time I saw a band where the audience went berserk, I thought to myself these guys must be good. And I went to them and had a card prepared and I handed them the card and I said hi I'm Errol Gerson, I'm your new business manager. Then they laughed. They thought that was very funny. Some of them threw me out. But most asked me what is a business manager do? And I told them. You take care of music. I'll take care of your business and I'll make sure that you keep the vast majority of the money you make. Well, I got lots and lots of rock and roll bands. And those connections turned into ultimately my representing at least a dozen big name rock and roll bands, artists, actors, directors and of course, because of my teaching at Art Center all of the students I had who graduated in illustration, graphic design, photography, automotive design. When they needed financial help, who did they call? they called me because every week Errol would send out an email to all these people not asking them to become my client because my philosophy is help first before you ask to be helped. So, I would give some advice on a few things and that's how it began.
And by 1992 we had 70 employees and three offices, and it was a wonderful, wonderful journey and then I unfortunately was diagnosed with degenerative osteoarthritis in my hands and had to undergo six surgeries and have some bones from the Bone Bank put in my hands. And so, I sold my firm to my partners. That was the end of that journey.
The next journey was four students at Art Center who introduced me to something called Mosaic, which was the precursor to the Internet. And when I looked at this, I went oh my goodness gracious, I want in. And within a month we had built the foundation of the first interactive design agency in Los Angeles and I did something very interesting. In those days you had to buy URLs. So, I went out and I bought Mercedes-Benz, Tetra Pak, US Olympic Committee, Shell Oil. I bought about 20 names. Cost me almost $30,000 and then I made contact with someone at Mercedes-Benz. The marketing officer asked him if he knew what the Internet was and I said please look up who owns the name mercedes-benz.com? He said, how do I do that? I told him and he went. It's you! I said yes! and I would like to meet you either this week or next week because I want it. It's my gift to Mercedes-Benz. He said you want me to pay you back. I said absolutely not. It's my gift. I walked away with the Mercedes-Benz website and two other CD's for them that we earned well over three $400,000 on. And so, you know, because I owned all these URL's, of course they wanted to talk to me. And it costs $1200 each, by the way, and we gave it to them as a gift. US Olympic Committee, you name it one after the other and they were blown away. That was so smart of you to buy our URL. I said yes, I know. Hehehe. So that was the beginning.
Luis: Well, you mentioned something about help. It is very hard for some people to understand that sales is about helping people. Right? So, the first thing that comes to mind when people hear sales or salesperson is an image of a film pursuit of happiness. The door to door selling of something that you may not necessarily need. And sometimes they associate this with manipulation, sales with manipulation. So, you however, have different definition of selling. Will you be able to reframe its definition for us? Perhaps giving us examples from your own experience?
Errol: Sure. I do an experiment in my class and when I teach seminars. The lights go dark, and a word comes up on this green black background in blood red letters and it says, salesman. And I give the students a piece of paper and a pencil, and I asked him to write the first thing that comes to mind. Now, because I can't be vulgar on your podcast, I won't use some of the words, but you already know what they say. You know sleazy car salesman life insurance, cheat, etcetera, etcetera. And then I turn to one of the students and I say, what do you do? And she says, I'm a graphic designer. I said that's not true. She suggested is I'm majoring in graphic design. I said no, that's not true. When you graduate, what are you going to do? I'm going to go on interviews. And when you're on an interview, what are you doing? She said I'm selling. I said yes and you have such a negative view of selling. Your chances of getting a job are zero.
Then I asked another one and another one, and the old tell me the same. Thing so I asked them where do these stereotypes come from? Oh, you know Kirby vacuum cleaner, door to door, girl scout cookies which is the easiest thing in the world to sell by the way, you don't need any skill to do that, but people have a negative connotation because selling creates fear and what is the fear that somebody will say no.
So, let's reframe the word fear. False evidence that appears real. It's nonsense. My definition of selling is making somebody else as excited as the thing you're excited about. That's all. Second definition selling is doing someone a favor and that's not arrogance. When I go to help a client to assist them in creating value, I'm doing them a favor. I'm giving it my time and experience and they're giving me their time and some compensation. Well, last time I checked that's a win win. Now, I do very little call cold selling. It's not my style. What I believe is in relationships. The research tells us that 90% of sales come from referrals. So, when I got one client. When I started the business, I asked him for a referral. He gave me a referral to a friend. The friend said, hey you do some accounting, yeah, he says you're very good. I said thank you I am. He said you're also confident, I said yes, I am. He said, well, let's have coffee. I said, would you like to meet this week or next week? I didn't say when you would like to have coffee, cause he'd never meet me, he said next week, I said beginning of the week or end of the week, he said end of the week, I said Thursday or Friday, he said Friday. I said morning or afternoon, he said afternoon, I said three or four, he said four. I said see you at 4. He had no choice. I gave him no choice. I've been doing that for 50 years. There's no such thing as not having a meeting with me. Can't happen.
Jeanette: And do you think this technique would work well for both small and large companies?
Errol: Absolutely. 100% yes. It's based on psychology. The concept is if you give a human being an option, they will choose one. If you ask a closed ended question, when would you like to meet me? Oh, I'm going on vacation, my aunt's having surgery, my dog has to have his, what? They come up with 100 reasons. Why? You didn't give him a reason. If you give a person a reason, which is an option, they'll choose one.
Luis: This has been a very interesting conversation. You have already defined the word sales, shared examples and stories with us. You have also explained in simple words how you can get that precious meeting with the client. We often hear that people tend to confuse pitch with sales. Could you explain what's the difference between the two?
Errol: A pitch is a very, it's a $7.00 dollars word for selling. We don't want to use the word selling cause it's a $0.50 word, so we go. We're doing a pitch today. All congratulations. We're doing a pitch. You see Luis when I walk into a new client presentation. The first thing that is in my hands. Is a vanilla folder. And what's inside it? Because they're going to ask me what's in the folder and the answer is everything there is to know about your company when you started, who started it, who your clients are, they say, can I see that? Sure! And it's filled with everything I said is no bull, and they open it up and it's thick it's at least an inch of research. And they go, wow, you did a lot of homework on us. I said, well, you should never go to a gunfight with a knife. And they laughed. I think that's very funny. And that's one of the secrets. To get people comfortable, get them to smile.
You know the word smiles just five letters. Small methodology to improve your life every day. That's why people call me Doctor Mnemonic because I have a mnemonic for almost everything.
So, the other thing Luis I do magic. I've been doing magic for almost 50 years and my specialty is close-up magic. And so, I tell him I'd like to give you a card. And I have cards, except I've turned them upside down and I put them in my hand, and I use my thumb and I squeeze one out and it's blank because it's upside down and I go, oh, I've given you the wrong card. Hang on a second and I push it back inside. And then I pretend to be tapping on my hand and then I pushed the one directly underneath it, which is the right side up and I hand it to them and they laugh. They think that's so funny Wow, how did you do that? What have I just done? I've created something called rapport. I have said to this person, you and I are both human beings. If you cut me, we both, I bleed red. You bleed red.
What I'm trying to be is be a human being to another human being. I don't want the barrier. If I walk in a room in it's a square table I immediately go sit on their side. I never sit across from people. Why would I put a boundary between me and somebody? And at first a little bit taken aback. If I'm in someone’s office, first thing I do is ask for a cup of coffee. Do you really want coffee Errol? No, I already had my coffee. Then why are you asking? Because he or she is gonna take a minute to pick up the phone, call somebody to get Mr. Gerson a cup of coffee and while they're doing that, Errol is scanning the room for photographs, for awards for anything. And I remember very well pitching a major music manager, and there was a picture of his daughter on a horse and was obviously in a in some championship. And when my coffee came, I said thank you, I said, I see there's a champion horse rider in the family, he said what? I said that picture behind you. Luis, he spent the next 15 minutes telling me every award she had ever won. By the time he was done. The sale was closed. It was over. I had become a trusted friend. People do business with people they trust and people they like and if you can get both those things done you won't just have a job; you'll have a client who will come back to you over and over and over again. Might surprise you to know that every client of mine gets a birthday card every year. On his or her birthday and it says the same thing. Dear Luis, happy birthday. You thought I'd forget. Not a chance, Errol. Within one hour of that card arriving this device will go off and it will be Luis saying, I can't believe you remembered my birthday and I say I can't believe you thought I'd forget. I never forget important things of friends of mine. See! spam risk!
Now I'm beginning to like phones when they give you something called spam RIP. I like people Luis and when I walk in a room, I shake hands because the minute you shake hands with someone, you break the boundaries down and then we have a conversation.
Here's what Errol never ever does in a pitch. Why me, why me, why me? I wanna tear my hair out when people do, why me? My job is to create doubt in your mind if you don't change to wanting to work with me and because I've done my homework I know where your vulnerabilities are and I'm going to exploit them.
Most people who sell, they sit down, and they say hi, I'm Errol. I'm from the ABC graphic design firm. We do graphic design. We do. Why me why me like a like a robot. And the client does this zzzZZZ. Boring! Instead, I talk about business. I don't do PowerPoints. I make conversation. I have a, uh, a pad of white paper and couple of markers when I want to make a point, I write them down; 94% of successful salesman have conversations, 95% of unsuccessful salespeople pitch me, me, me, me, me. Don’t pitch you, pitch why change. Based on the goals that you shared with me and the current path that you're going down with regard to your financial plan. I just wanted to ask you what would happen if this plan that you have was not in direct correlation to your goals, oh, they'll tell you. And they say, why do you ask? so because I'd like to point out a couple of areas where I think you're at risk. And you say you're wrong. So OK, yeah, and I pointed out and I say you see, my view is that if you do this, this and this, you will have significant improvement in the operating ratios that you seem to be concerned about. Is that the kind of conversation that you normally have with your financial advisor? And the answer is usually no. And say, well, see, that's what I do. I have conversations. We talk all the time. I listen carefully to you.
Selling isn't telling. It's listening. If you get the client talk, he or she will tell you everything you need to know. Just listen. Be knowledgeable about business. Don't talk about your graphic design or the last 16 story building you and talk about your why? Because people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. That touches people's hearts. They develop a connection with you. Again, I go back to the simple statement that 90% of all sales come from referrals. If a friend of Luis is and Luis tells his friend about Errol, the chance of Errol getting that customer is 90%. Why? Because your friend trusts you and you told him to trust me. Therefore, he trusts me A = B, B = C. So, A = C simple mathematic.
Selling is fun. Have I done crazy things to get clients? Yes. I wanted to try to get one of the biggest rock and roll bands literally in America and the manager would not return any of my calls, every trick in the book. He chose not. So, I went to a chocolate company in Los Angeles, and I asked this man very famous chocolate company can you make a chocolate telephone that works? He says, you mean it calls people. I said no. The handle lifts off, you know the old phones with the cradle and a cord, he said. Yes, I said, how much would it cost? He said, let me think about it. He said $700.00, I said done. He said I need half upfront, I said done. I gave him $350.00 he said give me a week. I said fantastic. I came back a week later sitting on the desk was the most perfect replica of a telephone in pure chocolate. Even the cord had been made out of marshmallows, wrapped in chocolate, the buttons on the phone worked. I gave him the money. I thanked him. And then I went to the Plastic Mart in Los Angeles and had them build-out of plus out of Perspex acrylic the most beautiful box you've ever seen, and I put the phone inside. And then I went back to the chocolate company to make a little business card out of chocolate that said, eat the phone, then called me Errol Garson and my phone number. I then called a modeling agency and told them I wanted a very good-looking model who is at least 6 foot 3. And I want you to go to a costume company and rent a vintage Western Union costume and I want her dressed this way. He said that'll cost you $450 done. Now I'm into it for a grand. My partners think I'm nuts. She came and picked up the phone. She was very beautiful, 6 foot 4, dressed in a Western Union outfit, complete with a little hat and I told her, you, young lady delivered this phone to this man, not to anybody else. Cut a long story short, she went to the agency, she walked in, people went bananas. Oh my God, everybody rushed out of their office and then somebody said, what is this? And she said, I have to deliver it to, and she said the name of the man. I won't use his name. So, they told her where the office was. She walked in, he looked at her. She walked up to the desk, and she said this is for you and she sang the Western Union song which they used to do. She turned around and walked up, 10 minutes later phone rang. It was Michael. You Errol Gerson? Yeah, he said you're the one who's been emailing me and telephoning me for the last like two months, right? Yeah, he says you're crazy. I said yeah, I know. He said, how about lunch tomorrow? I said fantastic. Would you like to eat here or here? He said, no, we'll eat here. I said I'll see you at 2:00 o'clock. We had lunch and two hours later I signed a contract with one of the biggest bands in America. We became good friends and he always introduced me as his crazy business manager. And by the way, the phone went around to everybody in the company who ate a piece of it. And some of them left that company and went to other companies and called me and referred me other clients. Because Errol decided to stick out an eighth of an inch.
I don't want people to forget me Luis because we meet too many people every day. I want them to Remember Me, so I give him a reason. You know in the movie Jeanette, Schindler's List, everybody remembers 1 scene. The little girl in the red dress because the movie was shot in black and white. That was Steven Spielberg genius. So, to the people who are listening to your podcast, I have a question. What are you doing to stick out an eighth of an inch? Do you volunteer to work on charities? You'd be amazed how many people you will meet. And don't do it to get work, do it because it's the right thing to do and then don't be surprised if you get 5 new clients out of it.
Luis: I like those words.
Jeanette: What an amazing story. What a way to differentiate yourself.
Luis: Now, one of the questions that we receive because we have some friends that you know in our network and this is one of the questions in times of crisis and economic slowdown, should we stimulate the consumption of a product and if so, how can we overcome obstacles to do this?
Errol: There's an old saying Luis, one man's meat is another man's poison. We have just come through 2 1/2 years of world hell. Every single one of my clients suffered economically in a very major way. I immediately called every single one of them to arrange a meeting to begin to plan for how much reduction in business they foresaw and that I would then redo their cash flow plan, their profit loss planning, balance sheet banking arrange for loans, help them with the government, PPP loans, etcetera. So, the pandemic created more work for me and by the way helped my client survive. And yes, it was painful but instead of panicking, I saw opportunity. You see Luis I have a saying; problems are opportunities in disguise, and it's not just a saying because you've been in the in the group with me and you know that I make a statement. If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.
I have a very dear friend who's a rabbi. His hair is like colorful carrot. In fact, it's literally like a carrot. They have seven beautiful kids, and they all have the same red hair. His oldest comes home from school, says Papa I'm never going to school again, and his dad says, OK. He says immediately the kid doesn't know what to do now, he says, Dad, you didn't hear me. That says, I heard you're never going to school again. Oh, you don't mind. No, it's not mine. Well, what will I do dad oh you'll clean the house, you'll do the wash, you'll cook, you'll bathe the kids, you'll drive them to school, dad I can't drive? I'm nine years old. Well, you said you didn't want. To go to school. He says, would you like to know why? I she said, yeah tell. Well, a kid turned to me and called me carrot top. Oh, what a terrible thing. If I, were you, I would never go to school again but here comes the smart Dad, he says, but if you do and you don't have to, I'll give you a quarter $0.25 to every single kid who calls you carrot top, so, his son says Dad what if eight people call me carrot top? He says how much is that says $2.00 sees dads teaching him his math. So, the kid goes to school, and he comes home. He says Dad, you owe me $1.75, so Dad gives him $1.75. He comes on the next day, says Dad, you owe me. $0.50 gives him $0.50. He comes home the next day and there's never a penny owed ever again. That's reframing Luis.
What would most parents do? What do you mean you're not going to school? Of course, you're going to school. What are you crazy? But do you want to be an idiot? End up in jail? That's not creative thinking. Creative thinking is to look for the good. That's my motto. Look for the good you find it. It's there. So, when we talk about economic crises. Don't talk about crises, talk about opportunities. The difference between a crisis and an opportunity is how you look at it. It's mental. It's how we prepare ourselves. Every day the world gives you a gift 86,400 new seconds. Gotta use them all up today. They're not available tomorrow. How you gonna use them? Proper persistent planning prevents poor performance. When's the last time you did a SWOT analysis on your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats? When's the last time you read a great book that stimulated you? Good to great, Jim Collins. Your erroneous zones, Wayne Dyer. Well, what, what? When is the last time you did something to make you more interesting as a person? Do you get out of bed on the same side every day? Do you shave with the same hand? You're taking life for granted. You can't do that. Because the only time we value something Jeanette is when someone takes it away and I lost a good friend four years ago and it was a very, very awful experience. But the good news is we spoke. At least once every other week. So, I had no regrets.
Jeanette: So, if we were to go back to the re framing of words and we talked about selling not being something which is manipulative, but more of understanding what people need and listening. So how would you really gauge whether you're doing? Is it being effective and say, for example a marketing campaign? Do we continue to invest in that marketing campaign, or should we change strategy? How would you go about understanding that?
Errol: I never, ever tell a prospective client that I'm going to help them. Because the concept of helping somebody is like saying to them, they're drowning. That's a very bad way to start. What I say to people is I've listened to you very carefully. I understand what your challenges are. Never use the word problems ever. I understand your challenges. I believe that our company can add value to what you are doing to the point where it will not only benefit the company, it will benefit your clients. Is that something that resonates with you. Now I'm looking for the first, yes. See, my job is to get 3 yeses. When I get 3 yeses game over. So sometimes when presentation, and that's what it is, isn't going well. I say to the person, Sheila, can I ask you a question just out of the blue question? Oh sure. Why did you invite me here today to make presentation to you guys? You know she's going to do Jeanette. She gonna sell herself on me. When I graduated USC, I was invited to go and interview with IBM. So, I went to the interview, and I was ready for all the questions, and he had come the one that I knew was coming. He said Mr. Gerson, IBM's one of the biggest companies in the world. We make better computers than anybody. Why should we hire you? And I said, Sir, that's a really terrific question. But before I answer, which I will, I was wondering if I could ask one of my own, he said, of course. I said, Sir, I'm graduating in the top 3% of my class. Have been the President of the USC Accounting Society. I've interned at and named three big firms for the past three summers. With respect, Sir, why should I work for IBM? Jeanette, he spent 20 minutes pitching me on why it should work for IBM and when he was done, he said to me, Mr Gerson this was a great interview. Yeah, I approve you. You're going on to the next one. Go to room 124 bye bye. And I walked out. So, I asked people what why don't you invite me? Now I get them to sell themselves on me and I'm listening for keywords and I'm watching body language and I'm watching if they sitting forward in the chair or they're leaning back if they leaning back, they're not interested in what I have to say when I talk to people. I'm always like this. Paying perfect attention and looking at them and every time they say something that is important, I always come with my notebook. Beware of people who come to sell you something without a notebook there are not interesting people and I write it down and they say Errol, what did you write? Oh, that you had mentioned that when you moved one of your offices to this area you had significant difficulties in staff retention. I have some ideas on that. Now we've got another 10-minute conversation.
See, God gave us two ears. You got to listen out of both of them. Unfortunately, I'm deaf so I can only listen out of 1. But God also gave us two hands. One to help ourselves and one to help other people. That's my life philosophy. If you like people you'll be a terrific salesperson. But there's a book you should read and it's called Influence by Doctor Robert Cialdini from Arizona State University. It's a masterpiece. Yeah, the book you should read is The seven habits of highly effective people by my mentor, he became my mentor Doctor Stephen Covey. I learned more from Doctor Covey than in my entire master’s degree in one week. It was a complete paradigm shift for me. He taught me how to reframe, Luis. He said, Errol, you're going to begin the journey from dependent to independent to interdependent, and I'm going to show you how. There's the best week I've had spent in my life. And I never forgot. And I've practiced it ever since. And if you see a copy of my original book, it's barely held together with sticky tape. And I still read it and I write on LinkedIn all the time and I post on Instagram, and I do podcast with you, and I did a podcast with Chris Do that reached almost 50,000 people. And I do it. Not for what it will do for me. I do it for what it might help another person.
Someone once asked me why do I teach? and the answer is simple. I get to touch the future. That's an awesome idea. What you do for your clients is helping them touch the future. That's all they want.
Jeanette: Errol, you just mentioned LinkedIn and recently there was a poll that asked the question what is more important? whether it was customer loyalty, brand product or customer experience. And in fact, the last option customer experience came out to be voted 92% of the time. So, in your experience is customer experience the same as human relationship?
Errol: Firstly, I disagree. I believe that the answer to the question is all three. Because what if you did good customer experience without something else? Nobody would remember you. Maya Angelou once said something beautiful “People will forget what you told them, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.
My answer to that question of LinkedIn is how do you make your customers feel? Do they feel trust in you. Do they like you? If the answer is yes. Game over you won and they won. Because it is, you see, selling is not win lose. Or lose when it's win win. They get something. You get something that's called a symbiotic relationship.
At a student at Art Center. Who came to me and she said I'm quitting Art Center, I said OK. She said you want to know why I said no. You told me you're quitting Art Center. She said yeah, but I want to tell you why. I said then you should have said to me Errol, I wanna tell you why? OK, she said Errol I wanna tell you why I'm quitting out, so I said why are you quitting? And she said, I'm not good enough. I said fantastic you should quit tomorrow morning. She says you're agreeing with me, I said, sure. So, you think I'm not good enough? I didn't say that you said that. How do you know you're not good enough? Well, I look at… I said don't you even finish that sentence. I look at the work of other students and they're better than me. The word better is a superlative. I'm asking you the following question. When you do your work, are you giving me 108%? And she said no. I said, are you giving me 100%? She said no. I said meet me Saturday at 1:00 o'clock at this address I wrote an address, she said, where is it? I said you'll find out. So, she came Saturday, and she was standing there, and we were standing in front of Children Hospital, Los Angeles. She said, why are we here, I said? Did you do what I told you? She said yes. I brought all my markers and colored markers in black, and I brought pads of paper. Good. Come with me. When we walked into the Children's Hospital, got in the elevator, went to the 4th floor. It was the children cancer ward, the oncology ward. And there was my friend, the Doctor who he knew she was coming. I said, Doctor this is so and so and so this is doctor. Doctor, this is the artist I told you about who's going to teach all the children, how to draw. I then turned around and said bye bye and I walked out. Her eyes. She came to class, and she said, you SOB, I said what happened. She said you already know. I said what did you do? She said, well, I went into the ward and immediately the children face lit up and I gave them each paper, and then we decided to have one student, one of the patients sit on the chair and we all drew him. I said you stay there an hour, right? She said no, you know. Oh, really. Like I said, how long do you say? She said six hours. I said wonderful, but you never going back, right? Said I'm going back every Saturday. She never dropped out of Art Center. She graduated with honors. She came to me every week and she said I gave 108% this week. Next week it'll be 109. She went on to have an incredible career in illustration. She lived in New York, used to send me an email saying I'm still giving 109%. If we can just get people to get outside of themselves. Everything changes. Because if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change. Now, is this something you do once a week? Once a year? No. Something you do every day. Same reason we brush our teeth every day, so our teeth don't fall out. You have to motivate yourself every day. You want to be a great salesperson. Learn how to motivate yourself.
Here's a book. This is my gratitude book. Right? And every night I write down three things I'm grateful for. And I have, I don't know 50 of these now. And then Friday afternoon about 4:00 o'clock I start reading them. Boy talk about a high. Man, I'm walking on cloud 9 for hours. The other thing I do in the morning is, Uhm, I get up and I take out my phone. I look at that picture. Those are my grandkids. I can only have a good day. The 1st 30 seconds of your morning determines the next 30 hours of your days.
What do you do when you wake up? I tell you what I do. I thank God for being alive. I'm 77. I'm not 47, I'm not 17. So, I don't have as many breaths left as you and Luis. But I can assure you one thing I'm not going to waste a single one of them. If I'm vertical that's a very good day.
Luis: And that's why we are so proud to be part of the Pro Group.
Errol: As am I.
Luis: And we will love you to share with the people that are listening what the pro community is all about.
Erool: About a year and a half ago I did a seminar. For some people in Europe for Sabrina, who is member of our pro group. And it was on how to stick out an eighth of an inch. It's one of the speeches I give. And there was a young man from England by the name of Ian Thackrah. And he contacted me afterwards and we started talking. And he said, early said, some of the things you've said today I've never heard said before. I said, well, that's good. Were they valuable? He said yes and he said, what if we were to share them with likeminded people? I said that would be a joy. How will we do that? He said, well, you write on LinkedIn almost every other day. So why don't you put up a post on LinkedIn that you're looking for 25 to 30 people want to become part of a community, who want to come together once a week. Share experiences, learn from each other and contribute. So, I did. And what happened? 2530 people signed up. And what have we done for the past year? We're a year old. We come together each week as friends and colleagues. Ian and I try to share knowledge, pose questions. But at the end of the day the power of the pro group is that it is a family. One of our group is in Ukraine, Andrii. And we care about him, and we worry about him and I was just astonished at the response of the pro community to Andrii. Because everybody response was how can we help? It's an amazing idea. That's what makes me want to get up and come every Wednesday to the pro group and then every other week I do it for people in Europe at night. But it's a symbiotic combination and aggregation of people from all walks of life, from all skills but all creative entrepreneurs. The thing that links us all. Is the love of entrepreneurship. Define it, Errol. Easy. Entrepreneurship is doing things that most people won't do, so that you can live your life like most people can't do.
Jeanette: Where Errol you manage to motivate us a lot. We are super excited about your book that is due soon called Motiv8. It is going to be a little collection of gems of information that puts together so much experience. Would you like to tell us some more about it and you know maybe how people could reach out and get a copy? How would it work?
Errol: So, like all good books, it requires three things. It requires somebody to write it, which was for me like having my teeth pulled out. Because I'm not a writer, I'm a speaker. I am more comfortable speaking, so I hired a ghostwriter. And he worked with me and asked me questions and I sat in front of the computer screen for 3 1/2 months. Now the book the writing is done. It is now in the hands of the second most important person who is the editor. And the editor's job is to rip it apart and put it back together again so that it makes sense. It is in the editor’s hands we are going through edit #3 very painful process but learning a great deal. And then I haven't, uh, a book agency who seems to like the subject and they will then try to go out and sell it. And if they don’t, I will self-publish it through Amazon, which is perfectly fine. I don't expect my book to sell 24 million copies like Brené Brown. But that's not the intention. The intention is to help people understand what I believe and that is the most powerful force that I know. Is the power of motivation. And so, I took the word motivate, which is 8 letters and that is why the book is called Motiv8. The eight ways people stay constantly motivated in their lives and it is an accumulation of things that have happened to me while I taught 5300 people. But each letter is amplified by stories and by my beliefs. So, for example, M is the 1st letter and I believe that if you want to be motivated in your life, you need mentors. If you don't have a mentor who is called what I called a spiritual guide, you're missing a critical component in your life. I was lucky to have three. And then it goes to oh and T and the rest of and I won't give the book away, but that's what it is. And then there is another book coming out called Fifty.
Jeanette: Oh, another one, wow.
Errol: Yes. Fifty is about 90% finished and it is the 50 things that I learned teaching in 50 years and that one is only going to be about 227 copies. That's it. And there is a story as to how we got to that number. It's not important, but I'm very excited about this book as well. Stories are everything.
Jeanette: Yes, stories are everything and you are an exceptional storyteller. It was an honor to have you here with us today. Sharing these pearls of wisdom, it was amazing. Listening to your stories and motivating us to do things differ. Mentally, the way we interact with people and make us friends before business partners, thank you so much for all your wisdom.
Errol: Jeanette, I want to say one thing before we end. Firstly, I want to say thank you for the privilege of being invited and to speak with the people who listen to your podcast. It is a great pleasure for me.
The last thing I want to say is that my goal is not to motivate anybody. My goal is to create the love of learning to motivate yourself. Because you see, if I motivate you and I'm the reason and I'm not there, you don't get motivated. Well, that's no good. So why do I teach? I teach the love of learning. I don't teach entrepreneurship because I know that when people learn to love to learn, that's when real growth takes place. So, my goal is to tell people stories. For them to remember those stories and hopefully to find ways to use the information. To motivate themselves if they want to quote the things I say, quote away. You don't have to say it came from me. It's not important. What is important is that I want people who are motivated who have been self-motivated to take the responsibility to go and might motivate somebody else. In Hebrew there are two words tikkun olam, and it means to heal the world. I believe life philosophy to heal the world. One person at a time. If we can do that, we can make this a great place for your daughter and for my grandchildren.
Jeanette: This was Errol Gerson and you are listening to The Human Agenda. Thank you so much for joining us in this episode.