While an entrepreneur creates a business, a Zentrepreneur creates a business and a life. Rubin and Gold's unusualand highly successfulapproach to business and life invite the question: What is the secret? Their answer in a nutshell: They do what they love. Is it possible for anyone to create the life that they want? Yes, say Rubin and Gold, if they prepare their mind to do so. With humor and clarity, Rubin and Gold share their personal experiences and their philosophy, encouraging readers to resist negative feedback ("dreamkilling"), take risks, set goals, find a mentor, learn from failure, and live a life of balance and harmony.
Author Biography: Ron Rubin bought and took charge of The Republic of Tea in 1994, a two-year-old company that had been founded by the same people who created The Banana Republic. Shortly thereafter, marketing veteran Stuart Avery Gold joined Rubin in the company's mission to create a Tea Revolution. In keeping with its whimsical identity as an independent nation, The Republic of Tea calls its employees Ministers, its customers Citizens, and its sales outlets Embassies. Ron Rubin, the "Minister of Tea," is Chairman of the Board. Stuart Avery Gold, the "Minister of Travel," is COO and company editorial "voice." The Republic of Tea headquarters are in Novato, California. Rubin resides in Clayton, Missouri, and Gold resides in Boca Raton, Florida.
Read an Excerpt
LIVE YOUR PASSION
LIFE IS BUT A DREAM
That's what they said when they would lift the black, travel-worn salesman's sample case.
Heavy to carry and full of weightwith a frayed hanging-on-to-what-was-left handle, corners that twenty-something years of road trotting, give or take, had tattered. You looked at it and knew that it had decades ago seen better days and thought, why tote such a thing? What with all the wonders Samsonite has brought to the world: telescopic handles, retractable wheels, Velcro this and Velcro that. Even a grunt MBA could appreciate that there were easier ways to journey through airports and taxi around than to lug such a torment and eyesore.
In fact, why travel with such a dread at all?
That's what colleagues and associates wondered. Certainly something wafer thin and glorious from Coach or Cartier would be more fitting for my friend Ron, whose success and business acumen had been validated and lauded. Absolutely the price for such things had not for a long time now been an issue. The point being, this was an anomaly that only a few could figure out, and even fewer could understand. In other words, what's up with the shit dinosaur sample case?
The answer was simple.
Inside the hefty beat-up hopelessly dated black case were, please believe me, shhhh ... Secrets.
Hikingback through the years.
Spring. Ron's first day out of college. First real job. Salesman. Wholesale liquor salesman to be exact. Son of the owner to be more exact.
Not an easy life.
I don't think most people realizeand why should they?the amount of demeaning crap you have to take when you want to join the family business. If you become a doctor, an accountant or a stockbroker, you walk into work every day chest out, your head high, no problem. But want to follow your passion and become part of the life that always accompanied your father home, from the first morning you show up the look on the faces of your fellow employees will tell of a terrible fate that will soon be told. At first you're welcomed with open arms. Then you're flattered, and then yadda, yadda, you're flattered some more.
And why shouldn't you be, sure you're the owner's son, but after all, you are immaculately bright and wondrously talented and hard working and energetic and of course life at that moment was so on an upswing. What a wonderful feeling it is to think this is how work will beevery day the sunrise bringing acceptance and favor.
It was only twenty-three minutes into the first hour of the first morning on the first day when the heavy crash of reality came thundering down on Ron.
Now the following might not seem like it's worth even a paragraph, but please follow meit isas you will hopefully see in the pages and chapters to come.
A brief narrative about the wholesale liquor businessa tremendous behemoth of a business, even more so now than in years past when Ron started out. Today, those who pitch the Chardonnays, Cabernets, and Merlots, along with assorted spirits and ales to our eateries, hotels and corner package stores, are huuuuge monstrous gajillion-dollar companies, with a highly educated and well-trained sales force whose numbers are legion.
Not so back then.
Back then the business was the province of tenacious small businessmen with no formal education, but who understood the politics and workings of their towns. They worked it street-by-street, corner-by-corner to sell and service every account possible. These sales were made by a handful of wing-tipped whiskey salesmen who navigated their way in ashtray-filled Oldsmobiles, their pockets weighed with change to report in (no cell phones, pagers or office e-mail in those prehistoric times). And though their work took them from one continental cuisine establishment to the next, meals were sandwiches and potato chips, nothing that required utensils, because who had time to sit down when every commission was so hair-pullingly earned? Every day was like the day before. You called on an account, shmoozed, made the sale, took the order and got the hell out. Seldom did a day end at five. Never did anybody think it would. Hard work for those who had been at it for a while. Shit work for those who wanted at it.
In other words, be careful what you wish for.
Now maybe if they wanted someone whose verve and vim could show them some real sales technique that wasn't from the previous centurymaybe they would have listened to Ron's every suggestion. And maybe if a college degree and the kind of whizbang hotshot intensity that a spirited youth can bring to the party were something they were scouting for, they would have taken full advantage of Ron and gone with him all the way.
But only maybe.
Understand, when you're a racehorse full of oats, you're ready to run, and when you bolt the gate, watch out because there isn't a single soul who wouldn't be startled at how fast you can pull away and bring it home. But do you want to know the truth?
Getting started was like glue.
Ron could not, repeat, could not believe it. He did not see how such a thing was possible. Because, and here's the thing, along with a repertoire that included a sat and studied for college sheepskin, there wasand now get ready for it, here it comesa full year of turning hours upside down at U. C. Davis fiercely mastering viticulture and enology.
Agreed. A yawn subject of no interest for most, but if you wanted to gain knowledge and insight of all that can be learned about the art of the grape and the vintage and value of port, and if it was your passion to know what makes a '61 Lafite one of the great wines of our lifetime, then this was a classroom you were every green day glad to enter. A great personal experience at the time, which was so remarkable, becauseand now commit this to memory, it's v e e r r y important:
Once you find a passionate interest, it hits you, permeates your mind. Truly. It creates a continuous array of bright spots, an elation and excitement that can absolutely, positively, one hundred percent, provide you with the most important tool you will need to achieve success. Drum-roll, please (for effect only, but if it helps to drum this into your noodle, all the better):
Discovering your passion will ignite the fire and fan the flames of your dreams and desires. Living your passion will put the world on notice that you are different. Different because your life is more purposeful, fulfilling, joyous and exciting. Passion provides you with the best possible odds to successfully catch and live your dream.
Again, file this away:
Passion breeds excitement, excitement breeds success.
But more about this in a sec.
Briefly now, the lesson that is equally important to remember here is simply this: If you carefully prepare, come to the table pumped with talent and skills that are second to none, but more than that, if you bring along with you a gourmand discipline with all the learnings that your bean can hold, but even much more than that, if you possess the chutzpah it takes to walk barefoot over broken glass, you know what?
Forget it, it all means nothing.
In business, to every new face you meet, and every handshake you extend, you are one thing and one thing onlyyou are cookie-cutter conveyor-belt standard. There is, believe it, nothing you can do or show new under their sun, until you prove otherwise.
Two editors at the New York Times are sitting around beating a dead horse, discussing yet another idea about yet another feature story on the new millennium. One asked the other who he thought was the most significant, influential human being living today: Whose reach impacts us all one way or another on a daily basis?
Not the Pope.
Pause. "The President?"
Nope. It wasn't the President.
Again a pause. Mind totally blank, but working. "Can't be Greenspan at the Fed?"
He was right. It wasn't.
Stymied. One eye closed sighted in thought. Then in a snap, his genius breaking through: "Duh, where's my head? Rupert Murdoch. Worldwide media mogul, almost the fourth branch of government. He can set the agendacontrol the flow of information."
Murdoch was not even a thought.
Things were getting desperate, the ship starting to tank. Going down fast. And before things started going glug, glug, the other man gave the answer. (It was Bill Gates.)
You could see the gears turning before the first one finally replied, "You claim Bill Gates? Nerdy Bill Gates?" Finally, after a third and final pause, quick head nod. "You're right."
And you know what?
He was, of course, right.
Bill and his software are changing the world every morning we get out of bed, proving that there is no law that says you have to have a college degree to become the richest person in the world.
Bill Gates was a dropout. Bailed from Harvard after his third year to devote himself full boogie to his passion, computer work. At a time when other twenty-year-olds were stuck in a course of contemporary literature, the time saved from college placed our Billy boy in his garage, fiddling with the beginnings of what would make him a phenomenon, the premier player in brainware. And it's not the least bit inconceivable, that had Billy stayed in college, perhaps hung around going for a Ph.D., someone else today would be the holder of the world's greatest fortune, which provides us with another important tidbit for you to commit to your cranium:
All degrees are absolutely essential, but essentially worthless.
Depending on what?
Depending on you and what you need to achieve your individual passion and dream.
In other words, if you have a burning desire to study something: go to college.
Likewise, if it is your dream to become a doctor, a lawyer, a pharmacist, a therapist, a teacher or some other career in a specialized field that requires generalized knowledge:
Go to college.
And if your sights are set on holding a lucrative position in banking, business management, architectural design or maybe some sort of precision engineering, well, you get the idea:
Go to college.
And if you rule that it isn't a grievous and damaging error to ignore your heart, putting off your true aspirations and dreams in order to please your family and the educrats who would deter you from following your innermost longings and desires, then I wouldn't give the time of day for your soul, but nevertheless, fine, it's your call, so by all means:
Go to college.
But if you have second thoughts about the importance and/or necessity of a degree to accomplish what is burning inside of you, and if you are willing to work like hell and crank it hard in order to make your dreams a reality and thus become an infinitely happier human, then class, make no mistake, you are staring into the looking glass, facing one of the great truths where you have to decide if the image you're making is the image you see. And as you look into the mirror, ask yourself these nagging questions: What is it in my heart that I must do or be? Do I have what it takes to summon the courage to be true to myself and follow my imagination and passion?
Welcome to the Crossroad of Chaos.
A stomach-churning time where it is not remotely unusual to feel frustrated, panicked, confused, miserable, frightened, ridiculed, jacked around and even useless.
And many, maybe most, don't arrive here at an early age. The ultimate challenge of taking charge of your own destiny can happen at any age. Even if you have achieved the reward of a degree, if you find that the path you've taken doesn't work for you, be kind to yourself; pull up anchor and make a move beyond the conventional patterns of wisdom that say you are what your college diploma, friends, family and associates say you are. You simply must not allow anything or anyone to lay a trip on you. The whole point is, in order to pursue your passion and acquire the happiness you absolutely deserve, you must not be afraid to turn your back on the opinions of others or the investment and time spent on a degree.
Howard Schultz wasn't afraid.
He refused to follow what was for him, the unnatural path of his family's well-meaning expectations for his future. After graduating from college, he staggered. Despite the pleading of his parents he drifted from a career in sales, desperately looking for some kind of work that would capture his heart and soul, when a few years later, he too found himself standing at the Crossroad of Chaosa place where the pressure and ignorance of others kill countless ideas and optimistic plans. But in a very real sense, the bold decision to pursue one's passion has genius, magic and power in it. And as any king salmon knows, it's no piece of cake to go swim upstream. Yet the very fact that they do it is proof that helps to illustrate this: Something that is seemingly impossible can be achieved once the decision to wake up and succeed is made. And now every day, millions around the world are grateful that Howard Schultz decided to wake up and smell the coffee. His decision at the Crossroad of Chaos was to ignore the voices that would derail him, and, instead, take that profoundly crucial step to follow the wisdom of his own passion, empowering him to create one of America's great entrepreneurial success stories: a two billion dollar business called Starbucks.
Again, when it comes to following your passion and living your dream:
All degrees are absolutely essential, but essentially worthless.
Remember, Bill Gates had no sacred sheepskin. In all probability the lack of a college diploma would have disqualified him from working at most major American companies. Fact of the matter is, it probably would have made getting through any corporate door tough when he could not rely on the possession of a college diploma as the basic proof that he possessed a talent and intelligence. Which you can bet had a lot to do with the way Bill was treated when he tried to make his presentation to those wise gray heads at IBM.
Legend has it that like a baby born with a tail, Bill Gates was someone they couldn't get rid of fast enough. Probably watched with joy as they shoo-flyed him away The point is, and again, I want to separate it here: There is nothing you can do or show new under their sun until you prove otherwise. Bill Gates learned this early on. So totally and completely great was his belief in his passion, that nothing, not anyone, could deter him from the grand wonders he wanted to create. Standing ovation for Billy boy. And as for IBM?
Shoulda, woulda, coulda ...
Okay back to Ron and that first spring day of work, that he remembers clearly, as clearly today as thenthat emotional beginning of being daisy-flesh with the preparation and background that would allow a career in the wine and spirits business to become a reality.
Ron had the schooling behind him, but better than that, he grew up around the business, and even much better than that, he knew a good deal of how to present the company's portfolio of offerings. His expectations were way high about the living he would make. This was no slim-shady Ponzi scheme. There was plenty of jack to be made, the dollars real and potentially many when he would begin calling on an account and pitch the industry's class of the field A+ brands. Ready to go like hell, Ron knew that there was nothing that could take him away from hitting the streets and triumphantly making his mark ...
Unless, of course, Ron was taken to the Dead Room.
Now the Dead Room was a room that few had ever ventured to and even fewer ever dared volunteer to go. No way as cavernous as the warehouse space that stored the Canadian Club, Cutty, Jack Daniel's and the rest, the Dead Room, nevertheless, was in its own foreboding way, vast. It was here in exile, at the very back, behind a heavy paint-peeling steel door, that dead inventory was finally, unceremoniously, laid to rest. And who can tell what makes perfectly good inventory become a scourge? Ultimately, it's a combination of many unfortunate factors. But mostly, there's one fact that stands out from all the rest.
It doesn't sell.
Surely somewhere there must exist a Dead Room museum. A shrine dedicated to corporate America's consumer can't-misses. Over here, ladies and gentlemen, is the famous Edsel and on your right for your chuckling pleasure, who can of course forget: New Coke. And up ahead, a wonderful photo opportunity, the Sony Betamax. The Dead Room here, and for many long months, was a temple honoring a stacked-up tribute to someone's not so bright idea at Seagrams.
Ron would have been crazy to think otherwise. What else would you call it when your whole life, every prior experience, all the years of preparation was for, well, nothing? Born and bred to mine diamonds, Ron was given a shovel and pointed at a pile of coal. And while most would sag and drop into despair, all enthusiasm and energy seeping fast, the paranoia of youth rallies against a world bent on tearing you down. Still, rocked, still staring and still, well, somewhat stunned, Ron confidently accepted the goddamn challenge, wondering how in the hell in this or any other universe he was ever going to sell this shit. That was the thought that kept him company.
That and the specter of failure.
But being a child of the Pepsi generation, there were a lot worse things than this, and that's the kind of lie Ron told himself: I'll show them, now and forever show them all, if they give me one half a chance. Which, in point of fact, is what they did give. That and oh, just one more thing ...
A spanking brand new salesman's sample case. An undodgeable truth, filled with bottles of hopeless dead stock from the even more hopeless Dead Room, a case weighted with the impossibility of any success.
Jaded, full of scars from the marketplace, the tired ancients watched, all seven of them, and generously imparted the Solomon wisdom of their many years.... Hey kid, don't lug that thing around, you'll grow a hump.... was the first nugget from the woolly mammoths, followed closely by ... Your hand will turn into a claw.... Take a brochure, show 'em a picture.... Why go kill yourself? ... No one can sell that shit anyway. And now, looking back on it, do you want to know what the strongest memory of that day was?
They were right. But they were wrong.
Wrong by cases and cases of the dead inventory, which is what Ron sold that very first day out. And after all these many years who can remember what the case count was the next day or the next day after that, or in all the quick days that followed, as he went about nailing down sale after sale, but by the second week's end you could happily go make plans to turn the Dead Room into a bowling alley, if you wanted to, that's how out from under all that inventory empty the Dead Room had become.
To the ancients anyway. But only to them. They were a wise and experienced bunch, still they could not believe that the debris carted in the heavy-as-stone salesman's sample case hadmiraculously out of some bizarre bluesold. That said, would they believe that what was really being carried in the salesman's sample case was the same substance that was carried in Ron's head, heart and soul?
Would they believe that even if the case was laden with bricks it would still feel light as a feather, becauseand here more important than anything, is the very real secret about the case and why it was always carried close without the slightest hint of any effortinside, alongside whatever its contents were ... shhhh.
A like-what-you-do-life loaded with passion and burning desire.
Freely put, Ron loved being in sales.
And would the ancients be able to appreciate and understand that?
Because truth being the truth, life had for so long now held them sour and captive, with no sense of contentment in their air. Years wrinkle the skin, but to live without a passion, well, that wrinkles the soul. Tired and exhausted, the grizzled warriors viewed the days hunkered in their foxholes, disgusted with their circumstances, bitter about the path not taken, their true gifts and talents squandered. Worse. Their regrets had taken the place of their dreams. Worse yet. Their desires had forever been set aside, and perhaps even more tragic, all but forgotten. Trapped. Totally. The ancients watched the years, wondering what it must be like to do what you like and to like what you do, and why would someone younganyonewant to share their chains?
And pretty thought-provoking too, when filed away as a lesson. And do please file it. Tattoo it in back of your eyelids. Sneak a reassuring peek whenever. It can save your ass many times over when the echo of doubt comes ringing. Make it part of your mantra: real happiness in life depends on how you embrace what you are passionate about. Only by embracing your passions can you achieve the satisfaction and joy in life you are destined for.
Now, a word here should probably be added about how hard it is to make what is known in the great game of business as The Cold Call. Actually two words.
Not hard like climbing Everest or swimming the Atlantic. We're talking hard like roof tarring or asphalt slinging on a steamy August afternoon. It is agonizing, miserable work with the cloud of rejection over you every time you set out. And it never goes away, no clearing skies. And if that were not enough, throw in the additional always present pressure of failure and some, many, most, all, have a hard time dealing with it. A fair number can't deal with it at all. Ahhhhh, but for the ones who do hang in and hang on, for the ones who believe in themselves and believe and find joy in what they are doing, the ones that pursue their passion, you will need a calculator to add up the rewards of their perseverance.
Remember, no successful person ever made it without facing the risk of rejection and failure. More importantly, remember that the word risk often is accompanied by the word no as its constant companion. But without ever risking rejection and failure, you will never hear the word yes. By having the courage to risk rejection and failure, you provide yourself with the wondrous opportunity to succeed. More about this later.
But for now, another important aside. A short one, promise.
Business people are constantly getting pummeled from every direction. They take an incredible amount of shit compared to regular human beings. No matter how much you've read, heard or imagined, a career in business, any business, is really, primarily, finally, about one thing.
The next sale.
Doesn't matter who you are selling, or if what you are selling has the potential to change lives. The simple and plain truth of the matter is this: nobody wants to take the time from their busy day to see or hear what they regard as another pestering pitch. Nothing personal, it goes with the territory, but remember again: with increasing import, there is nothing you can do or show new under their sun until you prove otherwise.
And if you're lucky, skilled and shrewd enough to open a few doors, then you better be prepared to seize the opportunity and dazzle. Dazzle brilliantly. Create an excitement, dispense enthusiasm about whatever it is you bringan idea, a plan, a product, a serviceit doesn't matter. Trumpet it assiduously with passion and propensity; let the light into their world, the point being:
You are not Columbus setting sail on uncharted waters; you are Captain Average navigating through a sea of sameness, unless you show them that you are different.
Excerpted from success@life by Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold. Copyright © 2001 by Ron Rubin and Stuart Avery Gold. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
|Before the Beginning||1|
|Chapter 1||Live Your Passion||13|
|Chapter 2||Stay Focused||37|
|Chapter 3||Find a Mentor||55|
|Chapter 5||Set Goals||85|
|Chapter 6||On Your Mark... Get Set...||101|
|Chapter 7||On Being a Zentrepreneur||111|
|Chapter 8||Secrets of the Temple||123|
|Chapter 9||And in the End||147|
|Epilogue: The Ring of Wisdom||153|