Business Coach 101: Read, Learn, Apply
It was from a tiny condo (that I once considered to be a luxury resort) that we started rocking. I worked every holiday. I trained all of my DJs from here, and I brought the equipment upstairs and taught the recruits how to become a great DJ from right within our living room. It was during our time living at this condominium that we bought “the DJ trailer.” At that point in time, we really needed a trailer, and for some reason, I got caught up in the romantic and fairytale idea of buying the trailer while we were visiting Vanessa’s parents on our family vacation to Kentucky. This idea soon mutated into a crazy plan to buy the trailer from Amish aluminum-trailer builders that lived in Nappanee, Indiana, located within a few hours of my wife’s parents. Looking back on it, I would never ever buy a new trailer (unless it was in foreclosure or something) again. I spent way too much money on this beautiful trailer that quickly got dented and banged. Then I overpaid for artist friends (of one of our best DJs) to paint the trailer and to turn it into a viable moving billboard. To make sure that there could be absolutely no miscommunications, I drew up a full-color 3-D rendering of the van and trailer. I wanted the painters to know exactly how the vans were supposed to look when they returned them to me. After having already paid them the majority of the money upfront (which was a stupid thing to do on my part), what they returned to me (two days later than they promised) was a ghetto-riffic-looking trailer and a puke-green-dark-colored-mobile piece-of-urban-half-ass-graffiti-art-that-screamed-figuratively, “DO NOT BOOK ME BECAUSE I AM A HOMELESS DRUG-ADDICTED-DJ.” This van and trailer combo was not commercially viable in any way. It was horrible at best, and nauseating at the least. That trailer looked artistically gross and commercially out of place. Oh man, thinking about the $7,000 I spent on that trailer to buy it new and have it painted makes me wanted to throw up in my mouth while I type this, so I will move on. I really need to get over this before the inner hate that I feel every time I think about this turns me into Darth Vader. They also painted my beautiful 1998 Astro van with more of this Yoda-graffiti inspired artwork funk. I seriously felt like I was driving around a piece of Compton’s culture every time I drove the vehicle anywhere. Every time people saw it, they would say, “Holy crap, what happened to your van, Clayvis?” This was before the business coach days.
Anyway . . . moving on . . . during our time living at this condo, I was forced to stay up almost two days in a row to move my DJ equipment into a new storage because my hired help did not show up. It was from this condo that Vanessa, the DJ team, and I broke through the $100,000 gross sales mark. It was during this incredible time of growth that I met every client at Panera Bread (formerly St. Louis Bread Company) on 71st and Lewis. Shelly was the manager of this beautiful restaurant, and Fareed was the Panera Bread employee who always went out of his way to make me feel appreciated. He was great to me. He always said, “Hey, Clayvis, what is going on? How’s business?” The whole Panera staff went out of their way to treat me with respect. I seriously was there six out of seven nights per week every week for three years. I always bought something so that our relationship would always be a mutually beneficial one, and I always had a good reason for meeting customers there as opposed to meeting at our office.
**AN UNBIASED VOICE OF SANITY: Fareed (a former employee of Panera Bread): I was a dishwasher and would see the same guy come in every day around the same time and sit at the same spot. He always had the same suit on, and he would get the same thing to eat every day: a cinnamon roll and chocolate milk. I started to become friends with Clay and would have his spot saved and his food ready. He would meet potential clients who wanted to get married, and he offered his DJ service. He drove this old white spray-painted van that had “DJ Connection” on the side of it. You could see him coming a mile away with this spray painted van. Then you would see this nice-looking guy in a suit jump out (oxymoron). Clay did not care what anyone thought; he was on a mission to become a successful DJ. Panera Bread was the stomping ground for Clay Clark. Most of the staff liked Clay, except for my manager. She thought he was annoying and she hated how I would have Clay’s whole setup ready for him when he came in at night (everybody has to have a “Darth-Hater”). I have known Clay since 2002. I saw someone who believed he could do anything and never let anyone tell him differently. **
Obviously, the real reason that I didn’t want to meet people at my office was because I did not have one. I was trying to save up to afford one, but I just went with the code language, “We are in the process of creating new office space.” And finally, it was during this time that I first met Josh and Willi. DJ Willi heard of me as a result of the Debbie-Blossom-written Tulsa World article, and Josh heard of me through our mutual friend Chris. More than any material acquisition or material gain that we realized during this time, meeting and training DJ Josh and DJ Willi was the best thing that we did. As I began interviewing more and more people and booking more and more shows from there, my FAITH in the “DJ Connection Magnificent Obsession” and my abilities continued to soar. I became emboldened, so I finally told Jeremy that I really needed to talk to him. This time I determined that I was not going to be weak about it. I was going to tell him that I was going to leave Impact, and I was going to drop out of school immediately or as soon as possible. I told Jeremy that I had to do this DJ thing based on what I was reading in Think and Grow Rich, which ironically he had required me to read. When I finally met with Jeremy upstairs at Impact on one of the production couches, he was super supportive and sincerely interested in me and my success. I could not believe it; he really wanted me to do well whether I was at Impact or not. And after much talking on those green production couches, I had his blessing to leave. HIS BLESSING AND SUPPORT MEANT MORE TO ME THAN I THINK HE KNEW AT THE TIME, and we are still friends today. I remember returning home to my wife, Vanessa, after quitting school and after having put in my two-week notice at Impact, lying on our futon and looking up at ceiling of the condo thinking: YES! I have arrived! I’m no longer in school! I no longer work for anyone else! Holy crap, I am scared.
As odd as it sounds, I quit school to begin learning business coach principles at an accelerated rate. Napoleon Hill preaches on the importance of ongoing and never-ending pursuit of knowledge; however, I was no longer going to be patient enough to learn a skill over a four-year period. Now I would teach myself how to edit videos in twenty hours; I would learn how use Adobe Photoshop functionally through a series of all-nighter learning sessions. I no longer was going to sit around and wait for the next class session to learn new material. Now my books were my professors, and the customers were going to be the ones grading me. If I scored high, I would get paid well. If I scored low, I would not get paid. In my mind, I had graduated to a new and better understanding of learning. I had graduated from studying the theoretical, and I was now ready to study practical things only. The Business Coach Syllabus that I made for myself focused primarily on STUDYING THE RICH, AND THEN DOING WHAT THEY DID. This self-imposed Business Coach Syllabus was based on AN ENDLESS CYCLE OF READING AND VIGOROUSLY APPLYING ANY NEW KNOWLEDGE. I soon found that this form of learning was meant for me. I felt as though I had arrived intellectually. I was now an “entrepreneur.” During my first years enrolled in the Business Coach School of “Study the rich, and do what they do. Then read, learn, and apply,” I learned much from my book-form professors: Napoleon Hill, Robert Kiyosaki, Thomas J. Stanley, PhD., William D. Danko, PhD., Jay Conrad Levinson, the late John Rockefeller, Herb Kelleher, Chester Cadieux, Sam Walton, and countless other entrepreneurs. I have never quit reading, but these early books really did shape my thinking, ambition, and daily motivation. My Business Coach Curriculum during my first few years of entrepreneurship consisted of reading:
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership– JOHN C.MAXWELL
In the Words of Great Business Leaders– JULIE M.FENSTER
Guerilla Marketing– JAY CONRAD LEVINSON
Hip Hop America– NELSON GEORGE
How to Win Friends and Influence People– DALE CARNEGIE
Sam Walton: Made in America– SAM WALTON WITH JOHN HUEY
The No Spin Zone– BILL O’REILLY
Rich Dad, Poor Dad– ROBERT KIYOSAKI
Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing– ROBERT KIYOSAKI
The Greatest Salesman in the World– OG MANDINO
The $100,000 Club: How to Make a Six-Figure Income– D.A.BENTON
The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve–G.EDWARD GRIFFIN
The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons–NAPOLEON HILL
The Millionaire Next Door– THOMAS J.STANLEY,PH.D.AND WILLIAM D.DANKO,PH.D.
Think and Grow Rich– NAPOLEON HILL
Throughout my super-intense, self-directed business coach and entrepreneurship education course, I have failed time and time again, yet I am still standing. However, it must be stated that my rate of learning never exponentially increased until I began working for myself. If you are an entrepreneur reading this, and you feel like you should apprentice for someone who can teach you the skills you need, I strongly encourage you to do it! If you know what you want to do, go and do it starting now. Now, obviously, if your goal is to be a doctor, you will need formal education. But I am telling you this, if you have a backup plan, you will spend your whole life unintentionally implementing your backup plan (while your major goals and dreams begin to wilt away). According to Napoleon Hill, 95 percent of us will never find our life’s passion because we are told from a young age to pursue the path of least resistance. This path is filled with the lure of guaranteed benefits and a struggle-free work environment. And so if you take this path, you will end up where 95 percent end up (on a path that does not allow you to follow your dreams). When you were a kid, you dreamed about being a singer, a fireman, a baseball player, an army guy, a __________(you fill in the blank). Very few of us grew up dreaming about working at a job that offered guaranteed benefits. Could you imagine the first-grade conversations if you did? “Hey Larry, what do you want to be when you grow up?” Larry responds, “Well, when I grow up, I want to make around the national average, and I would like to have a car payment that I won’t be able to pay off before my car dies. I would like to live in an average house, and I would love to have a job that I am not passionate about because it pays benefits! Oh, and I am really excited about exchanging the majority of my waking hours (five-sevenths of each week) for a paycheck. I think that this sounds like the job for me.” My friends, resistance builds strength. Resistance training with weights builds big muscles. Resistance training in business builds tenacity, focus, and great business plans. You must decide today that you will not pursue the path of least resistance; you must pursue your passions. Thank you, Napoleon Hill, for teaching me this.
From the time I made the commitment to become self-employed, it has been a wild roller coaster ride, but I have learned a lot and earned a lot. I have had my share of upset clients, near-death and near-financial-death moments, stress, and enormous amounts of frustration; however, I have felt the thrill of achievement on more than one occasion. I remember waking up those first few days of full-time self-employment at 7:00 A.M. and thinking, This is the best. I also remember going to bed thinking, I wish the days were longer because I have so much I want to do. I am excited about life and the unbelievable opportunities that are available. Each morning that I woke up, I would put on my blue shirt, a tie, and some khaki pants in preparation to assume the “dial and smile” position. I would then spend the better part of the pre-work day frantically updating training manuals, typing confirmations from the previous night’s bookings (using the Microsoft Paint program as my database software of choice . . . I know it sounds disturbing, but it was cheap and effective), and then I would do the office work. Precisely at 10:00 A.M. I would hop on the phone. Now in those days, it was a little odd because hopping on the phone meant calling people who had no reason to want to hear from me. I pretty much cold-called as many people as I could every day to pay the bills, frantically searching for my next paycheck. Man, I loved it and hated it. The stress and the thrill combined to make a fabulous blend, like ordering a sugar-free drink at Starbucks and then adding a creamy topping to it with chocolate syrup and chocolate chunks. Honestly, my friend, during this time I would call everybody. My philosophy was that “IT’S JUST A NUMBERS GAME.” I HAD A GREAT SERVICE, AND I JUST NEEDED TO CONNECT WITH THE RIGHT PERSON. EVERY NO I RECEIVED WAS JUST GETTING ME CLOSER TO THAT ONE YES. If there was a bridal trade show opportunity, I was in it; if there was a company in the phone book, I called them. I actually called every single apartment complex in Tulsa because I knew that one of them was going to need some entertainment for their next resident-appreciation event. Sure enough, I landed a deal with the Wimbledon apartments to DJ for $225. This job came after I’d heard at least fifty direct no’s. I put Napoleon Hill’s philosophy of “over delivery” to the test every day. If you called me, YOU WERE IN FOR AN EXPERIENCE. If making DJ Connection viable meant making my voice hoarse in the process, I would have done it, and on many occasions, I did lose my voice after a day of calling.
I would bring so much alacrity and power to the phone that many people couldn’t resist booking me. Seriously, I was bringing the fire during each phone call like T.D. Jakes does on Sunday mornings. Every day I focused on STAYING ACTIVE and MAKING 100 CALLS. Over the years, I have seen many businesses fail because their owner was not willing to hit the phones, pound the pavement, and hit the streets to get the word out. My entrepreneurial friends, the cruel reality a young entrepreneur faces is that no one cares whether you succeed other than you. Thus, I brought the HUMOR, the PASSION, and the DETERMINATION to the phone on every call. It was the “Passion of the Clay” on that phone. I called that phone the “money line” because every time it rang, it brought me money and new clients.
At this time, DJ Connection offered three different packages: the Solid Gold, the Platinum, and the Double Platinum package. Each package had a masculine name although I was selling my products to women. I gave my products a masculine name because I was not smart enough to market my products to my customers who were nearly all women; I was designing products that could be marketed to myself. If I could have, I would have named my package the Light Saber package because I was a dude, and that is what I was into. Looking back on it, I realize that this is so ridiculous, but it is so true. That is why most disc jockeys who compete with us are dressed like morons and have tattoos on their forearms. They are marketing themselves to appeal to themselves, not to the consumer. What if Michael Jordan would have had this philosophy? Think about this for a second. Is NBA legend Michael Jordan more marketable or less marketable than Allen Iverson and his thirty tattoos, cornrows, bling, sagging pants, inarticulate speech, baseless opinions, and bad attitude? Of course, Michael Jordan is more marketable. If you are an entrepreneur, you must not dress and act like an idiot because people judge you based on your appearance. Why would you want to discriminate against yourself? People watch and judge in business just like guys and girls watch and judge people at the mall. Right or wrong, people judge you based on the image that you present. So for all that is good and holy, don’t name your packages marketed to women after things that guys like. Mentally marinate on this while asking yourself this hard question. Do I portray the right level of professionalism that I want to communicate to the world through my appearance, my website, my language, my packaging etc.? I went on marketing myself without ever taking the time to think about what I was communicating. I woke up at 7:00 A.M., did my paperwork until 10:00 A.M., made my calls until I got enough bookings to feed myself while the Tony Bruno and Mark Weddell sports talk radio programs played in the background. And then it occurred to me like a vision: I needed to go and meet with Lori Montag. She started and owns one of the most successful wedding businesses in town, and she will know what I need to know in order to grow my business.
“Knowledge without application is meaningless.”–THOMAS EDISON
Help give this business coach post more meaning than political debates by answering the following self-spelunking (self-exploring) questions:
1. Most self-employed people start out working alone. Are you okay with the idea of working alone until you can build your team?
2. Are you afraid of cold calling? (If you are, get over it; people can’t kill you through the phone.)
3. Write down the daily activities that you can begin doing tomorrow to create your own life momentum. (If you cannot, you must learn how starting today. Learn to encourage yourself.)
4. Create a regimented schedule that will get you closer to achieving your goals each day, and then force yourself to adhere to it.