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How to Sell Yourself
By Joe Girard Robert Casemore
Warner Books Copyright © 2003 Joe Girard
All right reserved.
Chapter One Selling Yourself on You
My name is Joe Girard. I grew up in the motor capital of the United States, Detroit, Michigan, the city that put the whole world on wheels. I suppose it was natural that I, like so many others from this dynamic city, would become a part of the automobile business. Not making cars, but selling them. As a matter of record I am the World's Number-One New Car Salesman.
In case you think I hung that tag on myself, let me set you straight. The title was given to me by the Guinness Book of World Records. I still hold it, and I'm still in the book. As of this writing, no one has successfully challenged me-no one has beaten my record of 1,425 new cars sold in one year alone. They were not fleet sales; all were individual units sold at retail, belly to belly. I was audited by the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.
What the Guinness Book of World Records doesn't mention is that I really sell the World's Number-One Product-which is not an automobile at all: It's me, Joe Girard. I sell Joe Girard, I always have, I always will, and no one can sell me better than myself.
Now, let me bowl you over. The World's Number-One Product is also you, and no one can sell you better than yourself - when you know how. That's what this book is all about: how to sell yourself. Read it carefully, soak it in, commit parts of it to memory.
At the end of each chapter I'm going to tell you some things to do now, as you read along, each day-things that will make you the World's Number-One Salesperson of Yourself. Do those things and you'll be a winner. I guarantee it!
Sell myself, you ask? Certainly, because we are all salespeople from the time we can reason effectively to the end of our days. I once heard Father Clement Kern, of Most Holy Trinity Church, now retired, one of our city's most beloved Roman Catholic priests, say to this effect: Even after the end of our days we'll probably be doing our level best to sell St. Peter on ourselves.
WE'RE ALL SALESPEOPLE
The kid who is trying to talk his mother into letting him stay up an extra hour to watch TV is selling.
The girl who hints to her boyfriend that she'd rather see a romantic movie than a hockey game is selling. And when he tries to talk her out of the idea and get her on the edge of the ice, he's selling.
The teenager who wants the old man's car for Saturday night is selling.
And the guy who steps up the voltage as he says good night at his girlfriend's door is selling.
Anybody who has ever asked the boss for a raise is selling. The mother who talks up the virtues (if any) of broccoli to her child is selling.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you do and wherever you do it, you're busy selling. You may not have been aware of this, but it's true.
Who, then, is more qualified to show you how to do a better job of selling yourself than someone who climaxed a career in selling by being crowned the World's Number-One Salesman? But first things first.
YOU MUST BE SOLD ON YOURSELF
Before you can sell yourself successfully to others-and thus sell your ideas, your wishes, your needs, your ambitions, your skills, your experience, your products and services-you must be absolutely sold on yourself: 100 percent.
You must believe in yourself, have faith in yourself and have confidence in yourself. In short, you must be totally aware of your own self-worth.
It was my mother, Grace Girard, who instilled in me an awareness of self-worth, who helped teach me self-respect. God knows, she had formidable opposition in my father.
To this day, I still remember vividly the conflicts I had with my father. I could do nothing right. For reasons I have never been able to understand, he spent most of his life assuring me that I would never amount to anything. As a Sicilian kid who sold newspapers and shined shoes in bars, I seemed to have nothing going for me but the street smarts I was learning. I began to believe my father. My self-respect nose-dived through my teen years until one day I found myself staring at the prospect of reform school. Close call, but my mother, thank the good Lord, wasn't buying what my father was selling.
Mother spent most of her life assuring me that I could be Number One. She always stressed to me the importance of selling myself, of thinking of myself as worthy. In her own way she was saying what my friend Dr. Norman Vincent Peale told me years later: "Joe, you are what you believe, you are what you think you are."
It all begins with how you think about yourself. Just who are you, anyway?
THERE IS ONLY ONE YOU
I remember my mother smiling and holding my hand and saying, "Joey, there is no one else in the world like you." Thank God, most of us have mothers who think about us that way. Mine was something special, and because I had so much love for her, I believed what she told me. And besides, I didn't have a twin brother, so who could be like me?
However, I did grow up with twin brothers in my neighborhood, Eugene and John LoVasco, and I remember them well.
They were absolute look-alikes. I can still hear their mother telling mine that she couldn't tell the boys apart. It was true. Everyone knew that Eugene and John were twins, and identical twins to boot. But were they? Years later, when I had moved away, I happened to mention them to an FBI friend, and he told me that there is no such thing as identical twins.
Consider this: The FBI has files of fingerprints numbering in the millions, maybe even billions. And we've all been told that no two of those sets of fingerprints on file are alike. No two people since the beginning of time have had identical fingerprints. No two people yet to be born will have fingertips or even palms that will coincide.
But that's not all. My FBI friend also told me that voiceprints can be made of words whispered, spoken, sung or shouted, and that these are often used in positive identification. As with fingerprints, no two people ever had or will have exactly the same voice. The human ear might not be able to detect a difference, but a voiceprint can.
It's an indisputable fact. No two people have identical personalities. On the surface, so-called identical twins may look alike, so much so that their own parents might have difficulty in telling them apart, but if you were to try to match the right half of one's face to the left half of the other's, they simply wouldn't go together.
There is only one you. There is no one in the entire world to equal you, to match your fingerprints, to match your voice, to match your features or to match your personality. You are an original in the fullest sense of the word. You are number one. And now that you know it, your job is to reinforce that fact in your conscious and subconscious mind every day.
HOW TO SHOW YOU'RE NUMBER ONE
I wear a gold lapel pin that says No. 1. I'm never without it. I used to wear it because I'm the Number-One Salesman. Even though I've stopped selling cars and lead a whirlwind life of lecturing before business and industry groups and on college campuses, and writing what I've learned so that others may benefit from it, I still wear that pin because it reaffirms my belief in myself. I'm sold on myself, and that pin says so out loud.
You wouldn't believe the number of people who ask me, "What does your lapel pin mean?" Strangers on planes, people with whom I share a lecture platform or a television camera, even men and women in elevators who usually stare straight ahead and say nothing-they all ask me that question or a variation of it.
I tell them, "It means I'm the number one person in my life." Sound selfish? Egotistical? Not at all. Looking Out for Number One is a book that enjoyed a status for some time as a runaway best-seller. Some readers regarded it as putting forth an extremely self-centered viewpoint. Others, more charitable, saw it as a handbook on enlightened self-interest. I believe that each of those reactions missed the point. The message I came away with was this: If you don't believe you're number one, no one else will. What you must look out for is that belief.
Now, you do this: Go to your nearest good-sized jewelry store or the jewelry department of any large retail establishment. There you will find that you can buy yourself a similar Number-One symbol. Most jewelers have it. I've even seen it in mail-order catalogs. The symbol might be a pin like mine, or it might be a necklace, a bracelet, a charm or a ring. Wherever you wear it and whenever you do, it will flash in the sun or glisten in the light of the room. It will throw a spark back to your eye and remind you constantly that you are number one. It's part of what's called psyching yourself up, selling yourself on you.
MUHAMMAD ALI: PSYCHING YOURSELF UP
Not since Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber who came pounding his way out of the same Detroit ghetto that I did to become heavy-weight champion of the world in 1937, has there been a champ with the guts and drive and class of Muhammad Ali. He changed his name along the way, remember? (I'm going to be telling you some more things about Joe Louis later on, but for now let's consider Ali.) He won the championship first in 1964, when he was Cassius Clay, and he won it again as Muhammad Ali in 1974.
Ali told everyone who would listen-in person, in the locker room, in the ring, in front of radio microphones and TV and movie cameras, in newspapers and magazines-that he was number one. His words became a trademark. I am the greatest!
You better believe it. I've watched Ali before a fight as he starts to sell himself. He tells the press, in poetry yet, "I'm going to knock him down in five/He's going to take a dive/I'm going to sting him like a bee/So he won't see." Ali liked to call the round. What was he really doing? Simply selling himself. He turned on all the valves to get the adrenaline, the juices, flowing. What happened?
His opponent heard this or read this and started unselling himself. To top it off, in the ring, while the referee was citing the rules, Ali would look at his opponent and tell him what he was going to do to him. It's all part of selling himself.
The first time he fought Leon Spinks is the only time he did not go through this normal psyching-up process, and the world saw Muhammad Ali go down to defeat. He failed to sell himself on himself, failed to reaffirm that he was number one. The second time he fought Spinks he didn't forget, and the world saw him regain his title, heavyweight champ of the world. He is the greatest!
You have all kinds of opponents, all kinds of obstacles, in life. You're in the ring every day. You can win or you can go down for the count. Why not be a winner? It's more exciting, it's more rewarding, it's more downright fun!
A fellow I know, John Kennedy, who scouts for the Toronto Argonauts, quotes this to-the-point saying among athletes: "Winning is what counts in a game. Coming in second is like kissing your sister."
You don't have to be on the muscle about it, you don't have to tell your opponents, your obstacles, what you're going to do to them. Just be positive and tell yourself that you are the greatest. Do it right now. Say it out loud as you look up from this book: I am the greatest! Say it again. If you're all alone, shout it a couple of times. Make the walls shake. Sounds good, doesn't it? Now go back to reading this chapter.
All people who sell themselves successfully are first sold on themselves. Selling yourself on you can take a lot of forms, but most of them add up to this: Learn to like yourself. How?
GEORGE ROMNEY: THREE STEPS FOR LIKING YOURSELF
The late George Romney-former president of American Motors, former governor of my state, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and a man widely known for his integrity, his ability and his spirituality-once presented these thoughts, I'm told, in a speech he gave before the members of his Mormon Church.
1. Never do anything, anywhere, that you would be ashamed of.
2. Don't be afraid to give yourself a pat on the back now and then.
3. So live that you'd be glad to have yourself for a friend. I think it's a terrific three-step formula for liking yourself, and Romney surely must have followed his own advice. As I observed him over the years, as I saw him give freely of his skills and experience to his fellow citizens, I can tell that not only was he genuinely sold on others-he was also thoroughly sold on himself.
But don't think he hadn't faced obstacles. I recall when he first decided to run for governor of the State of Michigan and he mentioned honestly that he had prayed in order to reach a decision.
You may or may not know of the jeers, the laughter that he received at the hands of some of the media. Another time, he mentioned just as honestly that he had been "brainwashed" concerning certain aspects of military and foreign affairs. Again, the media and many people hurled the word back in his face. But he went on to use those obstacles as stepping-stones.
TURNING CATCALLS INTO COMPLIMENTS
If you just keep selling yourself on yourself, you'll have an easier time of getting to be and remaining number one. There will be many obstacles, and you must be prepared for them. Early in life my mother warned me that the years ahead would be full of problems, but she cautioned me never to dwell on them. To do so, she pointed out, is to set yourself up for getting caught in a trap of negativism. This can happen, and it nearly did to me.
The year I first became the Number-One New Car Salesman, I was honored at a banquet given by the automobile company whose cars I sold. It was known as the Legion of Leaders banquet. I received a lot of heady applause that first time, but little did I know or even suspect the image-shattering obstacles that were in store for me.
The next year I was back again-the Legion of Leaders-and the applause lessened. The third year at the banquet I received not applause, but boos.
I stood there at the speaker's table and I was stunned. I was so shocked and dumbfounded that I was literally paralyzed. I looked down toward the end of the table and saw my late wife, June, in tears. I looked out over the audience of other salespeople and I could feel their reactions-of I don't know what-as if they were giant obstacles suddenly shoved in my path toward success.
As I stood there listening to the jeers and catcalls of my fellow salespeople-those who were not number one in selling, but the twos and threes-I suddenly gained some courage by remembering another who had suffered the boos of the crowd. In my book he is one of the greatest ballplayers of his time, a man who batted .406: Ted Williams. I remembered that every time the stadium echoed with boos for Williams, his average went up. At that moment in my life, I learned from him how to turn off the catcalls and get on with the job.
Excerpted from How to Sell Yourself by Joe Girard Robert Casemore Copyright © 2003 by Joe Girard. Excerpted by permission.
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