VIP HR: Empowering Beliefs
The story of the elephant man and the supermodel
by Mike Sperduti

I believe there is only one key strategy for solving all of the problems that people say are impossible; it is the single most important human resource—empowered beliefs. This concept applies to beating a terminal illness, succeeding in business or marrying the person of your dreams. I have made empowering beliefs a key focus of my life, and have studied, interviewed and understudied with some of the greatest spiritual leaders, life coaches and business mentors available—not to mention my very own parents, who time and time again have defied the odds.

One of my favorite teachers was my friend, Steve, or “The Elephant Man.” He is one of the greatest salesmen I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. This story is one of my favorite life lessons because it includes booze, women and great music. I am going to share this story with you so you may learn how to empower your beliefs. Sit back, relax and let’s take a trip back to New York City and the final year of the fabulous eighties—1989.

I was 22 years old when I landed my first big job trading world commodities such as sugar, coco and crude oil. I worked at a prestigious firm and had an office in the World Trade Center. Man, I thought I was big stuff, and I was going to make my mark on the firm. My first goal as a new broker was to meet and become friends with the top sales producer in the firm; this way, I could accelerate my way to the top of the sales charts. If you have studied my work, then you know one of my key sales principles is to model excellence. This is the same strategy that I recommend to all my sales training students and consulting clients. Find out who is the best at what you do, find out what they are doing differently and then model those principles in your business. (For more on modeling, read “Be a Model! Or Just Perform Like One,” HomeCare October 2015.)

The man on top at my new firm was a broker named Steve. He was out-producing the other brokers three times over. To a newly minted, 22-year-old salesman, Steve was living the life—big commissions, Rolex watches, helicopter rides to work. Steve was in his early forties, around 20 years older than me. I started hanging around him, learning everything I could, and eventually had the good fortune of becoming friends with him.

One thing about Steve, though, was that physically he was one of the most unusual-looking men I have ever met. I do not judge people by their looks by any means, but behind his back, other brokers would refer to him as “The Elephant Man.” The best way I can describe him is that he had a poor, sallow complexion and a lumpy body that reminded me of the Michelin Man. The best part about Steve is that he exuded confidence and retained a positive self-image, despite being—by almost any standard—extremely unattractive on a physical level.

We became good friends, and after a big commission day for both of us, Steve asked if I wanted to go out and celebrate. No one enjoys a good time more than I do, so of course I said yes. It was ladies’ night at one of the sexiest places in the city, Buttle’s Night Club, so that is where we headed. New York Jets linebacker Greg Buttle owned the club, and all the beautiful people went there to party.

With the bar and dance floor full of beautiful women, Steve would scan the club in search of the most beautiful of the beautiful, and then he would ask me, “Hey, kid, who is the hottest woman in this club?”

Once we came to an unanimous decision, he would fearlessly cross the floor to approach her and ask if he could pull up a stool and buy her a drink. I watched in horror as this scene played out the entire night with woman after woman, and he endured the most brutal rejections. These rejections would often come in different forms much harsher than a polite, “No, thank you.” The women would often react with facial expressions that could be read from across the room as, “Are you kidding me? Don’t you realize how far out of your league I am?” As he got closer, many of these women distorted their faces as if they were eating lemons. That night, Steve approached the hottest women in the club and received cruel rejections from all of them.

As Steve made the stroll back to the table, I would be feeling his pain. But Steve would return to the table with his head held high and a smile on his face. “Oh, well,” he’d say, “her loss.” And he meant it! He knew that he had something special to offer, and that no one was too good or too pretty for him—no one was out of his league. This scene would play out week after week with identical results. Still, Steve was undeterred and determined.

One day, just like all the others that year, we were at a supermarket and he asked me once again, “Who is the hottest girl here?” There was a cute brunette across the aisle. He walked over to her and, from my vantage point, I could see that this encounter would be different; she liked him! They started talking and she said, “Yes, I’ll go out with you.” It was amazing and so exciting to me. She not only said yes to a first date, but also yes to a second date, and yes to marrying him—and today, Steve is married to one of the most beautiful women, both inside and out. It was further evidence for me that good things happen to good people. This takes a winning life philosophy—never sell yourself short, and live with the absolute understanding that you will accomplish whatever you want as long as you go hard for it everyday and never, ever give up.

The difference between winning and losing at anything is your mindset—what you believe is going to happen, will happen. This is what is so powerful when you embrace the self-fulfilling nature of your thoughts and beliefs. Certain beliefs can be extremely harmful to individuals and organizations. They can prevent cooperation, stifle creativity, limit possibilities, damage relationships and constrain valuable human resources. Or, as with The Elephant Man, your beliefs can be liberating, empowering and a vehicle for success. The greatest gift you can give yourself is when you understand that, no matter what, it is your choice as to what to believe. In any situation you can find empowering or limiting thoughts. I truly hope you consciously understand this and always choose to empower yourself.

When you seek to get better outcomes or accomplish the impossible, the biggest contributor to your success will be your state of mind. You can have mountains of knowledge, skills and qualifications; however, if your mind is charged with doubt, uncertainty and a feeling that you aren’t worthy, then you are unlikely to perform at your best—hurting your chances to win. Being in a resourceful state of mind helps you to access the best of your personality, knowledge and skills all serving you at your command. A doubtful state will make it difficult for you to be your best and will always limit your potential. Take a look at how Steve viewed his situation and why he is successful in the graphic above.

As you can see, there is no right way to think or feel; it is a conscious choice. One way of thinking will make you feel strong and is useful; the other hurts you and is harmful. Always remember to choose your thoughts carefully, and eliminate any limiting beliefs.

Steve was both a great person and an excellent salesman. He understood that rejections are incremental and necessary steps on the road to success. His objective was to meet and marry one beautiful special someone, not to have a series of tawdry one-night stands with women who could not see past his physical appearance. To him, the hundreds of rejections were absolutely necessary steps along the way to his ultimate success. His “sales goal,” so to speak, was one—and he met it. Understand, every rejection brings you one step closer to the answer you are looking for; you want more of them—more quickly—so you can achieve your goal!

Business owners and salespeople should realize that getting rejected a handful of times does not mean the year will be a disaster, it just means you need to make more calls and handle more rejections because, for every no you get, you are closer to the one yes you need.

How many people do you know who have settled, who go through life moaning and groaning about their fates? You know the ones: They sold themselves short, had some bad luck and accepted that they will never reach their goals. The only reason it is not going to happen for them is because they gave up. I truly believe that if The Elephant Man married a supermodel, then you can accomplish what you set out to accomplish—and I can, too. So go for it, and make the most of your life and your business!