“Crunch!” I can still remember the sound as I bit into that tasty cream cheese bagel.
I sat down for breakfast several years ago with a man I knew very little about. I took the appointment because a friend told me he was a successful businessman and a wealthy benefactor. I knew that he sat on the board of directors at the school where my friend works. That’s it.
I took the meeting anyway. I didn’t know exactly why. I had no idea what I was getting into.
I was searching for career answers. What I found was the most beneficial information I’ve ever received from a networking conversation. I’m here now to tell you that story.
Conversations With a Millionaire
We met at Goldberg’s Bagel Company and Deli, a place that purports itself to be an “Authentic New York Deli.” In the heart of Atlanta.
Sigh. (I am a native New Yorker, after all!)
He walked in and I shook his hand. He smiled and introduced himself. I could tell right away I was chatting and dining with a very confident, self-assured man. Little did I know, he was already retired for 13 years. He looked young.
Despite my deli concerns, I dove headlong into my everything bagel with cream cheese. Pretty good, actually.
He asked me how things were going and told me a little more about himself. He launched a start-up venture with a partner over 25 years earlier. They offered a niche marketing service for financial companies that provided tremendous value and incredible sales leads. Something like that. Oh yeah, one more little tiny piece of detail:
They sold it 13 years ago for just north of $100 Million to a German financial services company.
My ears perked up. He already had my attention but now — I was really all in.
He explained that he and his partner founded this company with the sole intention of selling it to make a profit. He didn’t just have an exit strategy. He had a comprehensive road map and plan that addressed exactly how they intended on growing the business and then marketing the company to find a buyer.
Cool story. But I still hadn’t profited from the experience.
I listened more as he asked me what I saw as my next steps with my coaching and writing career and writing. I told him I had just finished writing my first book. He was impressed. As things began to wrap up, he turned to me and said:
“Well, Chris, I’m not really sure I can help you all that much, unfortunately. I’ve been out of work and retired now for 13 years. I’m sorry.”
Oh, well. At least I got a free breakfast out of it.
Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had missed the hidden message. I was thinking so much about me and not enough about what he had said. I pivoted, realizing I was onto something, and quickly asked him, “What is the best advice you can give me, particularly considering all of your business success?”
I needed him to go just a tad further. He did.
The Only Piece of Advice You Need
Here’s what he said:
“You sound like you have a lot of great ideas. But great ideas alone won’t take you where you want to go. You have to GET SPECIFIC. I recommend that you write out in very specific detail on how you envision the next five years of your life unfolding. Write out your objective. Write out your goals. Write out very specific steps of your process for EXACTLY how you plan to achieve success.
This will help you envision success. It will provide meaning for what it takes to reach your goals. You may not want to launch a start-up company, but you do want to become a successful author. You need to put together a bulletproof plan, in extraordinarily specific detail, for exactly how you will do this. Not just for your book, but for every area of your life.
It’s Time to Get Specific
I peeled myself out of the wooden booth. I committed the moment to memory and burned his sagacious advice into my thoughts. I thanked him for his time and we went our separate ways. I immediately went home and started writing. Later that weekend, I began — in earnest — my efforts in completing this five-year plan. It took me a few months but I nailed it down.
I live today and every subsequent day executing the tasks from this plan. I’m much more confident and determined, as a result. I used to be wishy-washy, flying by the seat of my pants in both my day job and side hustle. No longer. I needed a wake-up call and that man provided it. Hopefully, this is yours.
You’re going to start moving in the direction of your dreams the day you cut out the B.S. and get specific on exactly how you plan to achieve your big dreams and goals. GET SPECIFIC for all of your plans. GET SPECIFIC about all the things you want and, just as important, all that you don’t want — no matter where you are in the process.
Lukewarm and “in the middle” will get you nowhere. You’ll stay in the same place, which is actually worse than moving backward. We must move forward in life. The surest way I know how is to get specific and do so with a positive attitude and intelligent work ethic.
It’s yours for the taking if you want it. It’s worked for me. You can also ask my friend who sold his business for over $100 Million.
What are you waiting for?