It's clear to me that emotional intelligence is the most important skill for success in adult life. And the consummate career application of emotional intelligence is the sales department. So I'm fascinated by sales.

I used to think I'm not that good at sales. For example, I'm an open book—I have very little ability to bluff or play my hand close to my—actually, what is that expression? I don't even know the expression.

But then, when I told one of my mentors that I'm not good at sales, he said, “Of course you're good at sales. You've gotten three companies funded.” He's right. I wanted to take back all the times I said I'm not good at sales. The thing is, I have a specific talent in this department: selling ideas.

I have gotten companies funded when they were still just philosophies about how a market will move, what the trends are, and what ideas will work. I have yet to raise a later round of funding, where the company is selling actual products or services with me raising money to sell them faster.

I'm also great at the consultative sale. I'm great at meeting someone who wants to think in new ways, and tossing some ideas back and forth and then going to lunch, or yoga, or commenting on each others' blogs. I connect easily on ideas, and can close a sale there because the idea exchange is so rewarding.

There's another kind of salesperson, though. The kind that can hit numbers, close tough deals with demanding customers, and compete effectively against the most cutthroat of their peers.

I am fascinated by this type of person. I don't meet them a lot, which makes me nervous. Because I want to be more like them, and there's a great piece by Clive Thompson in the New York Times about the Framingham Heart Study that shows that you become more like the people you hang out with. And it started to worry me that I don't like hanging out with competitive types.

I know, you're thinking, WHAT? But I'm never about getting the most money or getting up the ladder the fastest. I'm always about getting what I want to do when I want to do it—having the work that makes me happiest feeding the life that makes me happiest. Frankly, that is so much work for me that I don't have any energy left to notice who is winning.

But it worries me. It worries me that in general, when I'm in hand-to-hand combat—on the volleyball court, in divorce court, in Ryan Healy's office—I tend to give in so that the whole process ends sooner and I can get back to whatever is going on in my head. I always want to get back to thinking about ideas. And that desire makes me not the strongest competitor.

When I was flying two or three times a week, I sat beside a lot of sales guys. And it is mostly guys. First Class is always full of men when you travel between smaller cities, and the odds of sitting next to someone in sales on any late-in-the-day, weeknight flight, is very high from any city.

I talked with sales guys a lot and mostly I learned that I don't think like they do.

So it should come as no surprise that my company just had to hire one of these sales guys: Justin Rheinhardt. That's his name. I loved hiring him because I knew my days of having to be a cutthroat closer were over. Justin is that. But also I loved hiring him because I learned so much from him in just two weeks.

For example, Justin was in recruiting, which makes sense because we are selling services that help recruiters. So I asked him why he wants to do sales instead of recruiting.

And he told me that if you're a sales guy, you can't be a recruiter, because good recruiters really care about placing the candidate where they fit. Good recruiters build relationships to help people over a long period of time—helping that person build their career on a path that works for them.

Justin just wants to sell, so he was closing instead of counseling. For Justin, the rush of the close is what drives him. Which I totally believe, because I don't really have that. I have the rush of a good idea.

I talked to Richard Goldman, COO of Birkman International, a company that helps businesses make intelligent hires by using the Birkman Method for personality assessments. Goldman says, “If you're a great team player, you probably don't belong in sales. Salespeople are in it for themselves. They eat what they kill.”

I asked Goldman if he thought I could develop these skills, and he says that our underlying needs are set by age five or six, and our usual behaviors are set by age 22.

So it's pretty clear to me that I'm not a salesperson, and I'm not an eat-what-I-kill sales person, plus I'm not going to become one either. I'm more of a convince-someone-else-to-go-out-and-do-the-killing person.

Also, Justin has a rule that you make your calls list at the end of the day, so that you can start calling right away in the morning. That calling part seems really hard to me. You have to be really driven to kill to be able to sit down and make calls every day.

But I know that if you want to be an idea person, you should sit down and write an idea first thing in the morning. And now, come to think of it, maybe you can tell who you are by what you require yourself to do first, every day.

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  1. Heather
    Heather says:

    I’ll drink to that! I’m making some changes in my career right now that allow me to be the natural night-owl that I am. I’m not making gads of cash, but I’m successful in my book because I can sleep when I want to sleep, work when I want to work (for the most part), and am living on my terms.

  2. Dan Owen
    Dan Owen says:

    This “eat what you kill,” “you must be driven to kill” language is such nonsense. Salespeople spend most of their time getting rejected and feeling like shit. They have to psyche themselves up constantly just to survive, let alone make a sale. Commission sales work causes you to live with fear and doubt every second of your day — it’s more like “dig worms to survive” than “eat what you kill.” I was in sales for years, and the zero-sum idea of “eat what you kill” only works when you’re selling to someone who doesn’t really understand the product (selling collateralized debt obligations to pension funds is a good example of this) and can be easily taken advantage of, and even then it doesn’t work if you expect to go back to that well more than once. Effective selling involves figuring out what someone’s problem is and solving it for them. Good salesmen are chess players, not Masai warriors. Stop perpetuating this nonsense.

    • Aaron Erickson
      Aaron Erickson says:

      Agree – most “eat what you kill” types in the professional services business end up getting incentivized to sell the wrong thing to people that have not much of a clue of what they are buying.

      Maybe works for cars or stereos, but for anything more complex, particularly consulting or advice, it is a model of doom.

    • Jim C.
      Jim C. says:

      What you say is true in some cases. I have worked with sales people (as an applications scientist who went along on sales calls), and they all were out to solve the customer’s problem (with one of our products, of course). We believed in our products (scientific instruments) and wanted satisfied customers. (An amazing amount of instrument marketing is strictly word-of-mouth.)
      But there are salesmen who are out to make a sale once with a customer, whether it fits the customer’s needs or not, because that customer won’t be back anyway. Think of people selling muscle cars to twenty-somethings. In five years that kid will be living in another state and will probably be buying a grown-up car anyway, so close that sale and move on to the next victim.
      On the other hand, the dealer who sold us our first station wagon knew we’d be back, if we were satisfied. And we were, and we bought our next car from him too.
      It depends on the market you’re serving.

  3. Ken H
    Ken H says:

    You’re pigeon-holing yourself and sales people. I have seen many organizations with highly successful sales organizations based on team collaboration (internally among the staff) and consultative solution discovery (externally with customers). The particular mix of personal characteristics that lead to success in sales varies quite a bit, depending on the organization’s business model, sales model, and culture. Birkman gave you some stereotypical bromides that fit your own biases, even though those prototypical profiles do work in some settings.

  4. prklypr
    prklypr says:

    Play your hand close to the vest (or chest), is the saying you are looking for:) The literal reference is to holding your playing cards close enough to your chest so no one else can see them.
    As for the topic of sales, Richard Goldman hit the nail on the head: if you are a good team player, you will be lousy at sales. Looking out for #1 is the goal of every successful salesperson I have ever encountered.

  5. Domestic Executive
    Domestic Executive says:

    I think like you. Ideas, aligning and inspiring people towards a vision. Close the deal, yuck. I think this is because I hate with a passion being on the receiving end of a killer sales person. I find them annoying in their persistence and lack of emotional intelligence. I’m an early morning person – most productive at that time of day. My eyes snap open and my mind starts whirring in an instant. That’s the time I write down my ideas and then spend down time during the day composting them.

  6. Marsha Keeffer
    Marsha Keeffer says:

    My experience with sales guys in Silicon Valley – yes, Penelope is right, most are guys – is that they’re Closers with a capital ‘c.’ Actually, even the women I know in sales (one’s been an Agilent / HP salesperson for 20+ years) are that way. Hence, the phrase ‘eat what you kill.’ To Dan’s point, they’re also incredible problem solvers who always find a way to make the deal. Their thrill? The signature on the contract. Once that’s in hand, they’re onto the next one…

    I’m more relationship-based and interested in helping – client service and attention are paramount. The first thing I do in the a.m. is check email to see if any emergencies have occurred, then move on to my list.

  7. Paul Stoltzfus
    Paul Stoltzfus says:

    I am definitely the ideas type. Not so much eat what I kill. I’d rather create a new program that populates a zoo and then have someone else kill and prepare what I want to eat – so I can have plenty of un-interrupted time to speak my next zoo into existence.

  8. cd
    cd says:

    this really resonates with me. thank you. almost like youre in my head. on this one anyway ;)

    these days for me anyway its less “eat what you kill”. most reps i know make a reasonable salary (in most cases as much or more as other salaried employees in services, ops, etc). the darwinian piece of it is the close, for sure…you can live on your salary, but if youre not closing, you better be looking foar another salary someplace else…

    its the upside to me that drives the behavior. less “eat what you kill” more “coin operated”. almost every rep i know takes each step in a day understanding where it takes him or her toward the reward. steps in any other direction are wasteful and most unlikely.

    nice post.

  9. still learning
    still learning says:

    I am really bad at sales but I have somehow landed clients from cold calls. People can tell I am not really a sales person over the phone so they are more likely to listen to me. Also, being at the right place at the right time is so underrated and might be the most important part of making a sale. One of my friends actually told me that I didn’t have a sales personality and they couldn’t understand how I stayed in business. I said, "I know what clients are looking for and don’t pressure anyone into anything."

    • Dan Owen
      Dan Owen says:

      How could this be: you’re “bad at sales” yet you successfully sell in the absolute hardest selling environment that exists on earth: cold calling. Maybe you’re actually good at sales but because you don’t buy into the “eat what you kill” mentality you’ve talked yourself into believing something about yourself that isn’t true.

      You’re in good company: Penelope also believed something about herself that wasn’t true: she measured her success by how she achieved it rather than by what she achieved. People who are “not good at sales” aren’t able to fund three companies. Funding three companies proves that you are actually good at sales. People who “eat what they kill” but aren’t able to fund a company actually suck at sales despite having the “right” mentality.

      Do you see how ridiculous this way of thinking is?

  10. Rubi
    Rubi says:

    What about PR–where flacks sell ideas and still have to close the deal? It seems a mite more delicate to sell concepts than to sell goods, but it doesn’t matter to my employer unless I close the deal. In fact, the news outlet might just not be a right fit but superiors don’t want to hear that. The reporters also are drawn to certain personalities and get irked by pushiness.

    Any insights? I would like to perform better at my job or look into a new career perhaps.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      That’s a great question. Because I’m on the receiving side of the PR sale all the time. And, I have to confess, the PR types who are hard-driving and relentless and determined to get me to write about them are the ones who get the most results out of me.

      I wish I could tell you that the philosophizer PR types win me over. But they don’t get results from me as a journalist.

      This was true when we were hiring a PR firm for Brazen Careerist as well. We chose SHIFT in a large part because I thought Jim Joyal, the CEO, was absolutely amazing at closing us. I thought to myself that if he closes everyone else like he’s closing me, then he’s going to get us tons of press.


      • Dan Owen
        Dan Owen says:

        Apples and oranges. You'll never know whether you could get more press than SHIFT gets you unless you fire them and hire someone else. It's a completely different kind of sales, one that rewards bullshitters far more than product or service sales, where the quality of the product is highly quantifiable.

        By the way, I well remember your posts about how bamboozled you felt by Tim Ferriss, who also "closed" you "hard." You've resented it ever since and haven't stopped punishing him in your blog (as well you should). But Tim practiced the kind of all-out, eat-what-you-kill philosophy toward you that you think marks a skilled salesperson.

  11. Cat in Boston
    Cat in Boston says:

    I am glad you did not hire another Ryan, although the other two are fine, but three would have been too many.

  12. MJ
    MJ says:

    Ha. Good post. I’m an idea and writing person who spent some incredibly miserable time in sales long, long ago because I really needed a job and I can talk and persuade well and relate well to others. But good God I hated it. HATED it. And found the “shiny shoe” type of salesmen pretty revolting (you know, the type like the high-net worth personal finance salesmen in the office suite close to mine now – shiny hair, shiny shoes, shiny suits, Montblanc pens, and a whole lotta talk with little supporting data). Not all are like that, but the shiny shoe ones I’d run from as a customer too.

    This raises the related but separate issue of “why do any clients not just laugh when the guy with the Bentley pulls up, swaggers in, and shows off his cuff links, Montblanc and gelled hair and starts pitching them? Don’t they know they’re about to be lied to in a big bad way?” Still don’t understand this one…

  13. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I can absolutely relate to this because I’m an ideas gal through and through. And I hate having to make sales calls. For years I beat myself up for not being able to be the person that could just pick up the phone. I sometimes think about myself being this super star great sales person who closes super great deals. Because I’m really good at retail sales, where people come to you, but going out to sell something doesn’t come naturally for me. I finally had to be ok with not being the sales girl but also know that sometimes I need to suck it up and just do it.

  14. Howard Hermes
    Howard Hermes says:

    I have to disagree with this post. I’m in sales and I definetly don’t have the “eat to kill” attitude. I’m the consultative salesperson and have had good success at it. I’ve had to work at it and develop selling skills, but what I found is that it takes more than one type of person to succeed in sales. One of my friends in the office is the typical stereotype of salesperson you talk about in your post and what we found is that he closes people I would never be able to close with my style, and I close people that would be turned off by his style.

  15. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    This comment isn’t really related to your post…Well…It sort of is…a little…I think?…

    Although you may not have a carnivorous drive to eat your mate – um, I mean close the sale, you ARE a very talented writer. You write interesting things in a unique voice that somehow manages to be both hilarious and quite serious all at once. While I may not become a better sales person, by reading what you have written, I become a better writer.

  16. Heather
    Heather says:

    I think your use of the word emotional intelligence in the context of work/sales is misleading. Daniel Goleman who brought emotional intelligence to the commercial and organizational setings now refers to these skills as emotional competencies. He has backed off from Emotional Intelligence because the research evidence for its existence is lacking. I think you are referring to interpersonal skills which include emotional competencies. They are commonly only measured with a self report questionniare which gives you a score for your own assessment of your emotional competencies. More information here
    Selling something to someone is easy if you believe in it. Your passion will motivate you because motivation is driven by emotion.

    • Tea
      Tea says:

      Bravo! I feel happy and confrmed reading what you have said, because this is my eperience. I am passion about what I sell and it shows.

      I hate and run away with fear from sales people who are obvious, and I see no true joy or passion connection with what they sell.

      When I sell I need to be authentic and transparent same as the people I want to buy from.

  17. Rahul
    Rahul says:

    “Sales” is confusing term and I see some people have misunderstood the “closer” bit. Justin seems to be a fantastic closer. The high of closing the deal is fantastic.

    Generally sales people are of two types Hunters and Farmer. Idea people make good farmers but not very good hunters. (no pun intended – but I see the farmer connect ;)).

    Farmers cultivate long term relationships with regular nurturing. Hunters’ sales process, to put it crudely, is like a pride of lions hunting. A lot of pre-attack strategy goes into it. And final sales close is swift, deft and precise. Hunters for big deals are like that. The in your face hunters we see at some auto-dealerships are not real big-game hunters though they probably initiated the term “hunting” the customer.

    Also there is a way client wants to be sold to. If he/she wants to meet farmer (no pun again) then meeting a hunter is a put-off. A client who wants to meet a hunter-type is awesome client!

  18. Marsha Keeffer
    Marsha Keeffer says:

    OK…I have to respond to the PR thing.

    I’ve got 10+ years of PR experience in Silicon Valley and there’s a paradox in the PR biz. Every PR person actually has two sets of clients: the client company that hires them and the journalist(s) that they want to do a story on that company.

    PR people who get it (and get placements) find the right slice of the Brazen Careerist story to tell. The pitch is personalized and highly targeted. They’ve done their homework, know you and your story, your company’s business goals, its products and services. This beta level knowledge allows them to develop accurate pitches that relate to the journalists’ assignment, their audience and their publication, blog or organization.

    I’m betting you were moved by Jim’s closing because he was in such total alignment with you and BC. Another expert at this – like Jim – is the brilliant Lee Caraher at Double Forte. Such people are increasingly rare and worth their weight in gold.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking response to Rubi!

  19. Isao
    Isao says:

    Thank you, this topic (as well as comments from other readers) helped me realize why I am not suited to sales or PR job (and why I shouldn’t feel bad about it).

  20. Erika Harris
    Erika Harris says:

    “I tend to give in so that the whole process ends sooner and I can get back to whatever is going on in my head. I always want to get back to thinking about ideas. And that desire makes me not the strongest competitor.”

    This reminds me of the story about the “successful” American businessperson who, while vacationing on a tropical island, was trying to convince a native fisherman how much more effective it’d be for the fisherman to invest in more working hours and more boats and more nets so he could catch more fish and then hire a team of fishermen to grow, grow, grow his fishing enterprise.

    The fisherman kept asking the businessperson, “But why would I want to do that?”

    The businessperson’s answer, eventually, led to this:

    “So you can… uh… retire to a tropical island… and work at a leisurely pace in a stress-free environment and enjoy a degree of personal sovereignty.”

    The fisherman graciously spared the businessman a reply. The fisherman’s satisfyinglife was his reply.

    You may not be the strongest competitor, Penelope, but it sure seems like you WIN in the personal sovereignty department. Which, for the record, trumps and transcends competitiveness altogether.

    Eat what you kill is not the noblest model. Some folks might prefer to just plant a garden (or farm). That’s pretty good eatin’, too.

  21. Tim
    Tim says:

    About 15 years ago I was working at a startup software company that sold programs that helped you select the correct “engineered product.” For example, they performed the complex math needed to ensure that the pump you bought was the right one to make the flush toilets work at the top of a skyscraper.

    It was a tough sale made all the more difficult by the user interfaces we designed. Our programs did not look any easier than getting out a slide rule and figuring out the configuration you needed on a piece of paper. Or several pieces of paper.

    I wrote our user manuals (never mind that red flag — that a program designed to make buying an engineered pump easy required a user manual), and our sales guy asked me to accompany him on some calls. I could explain the software better than he could, and I was not like the software engineers, who (much as I loved them) lacked a certain savoir-faire.

    I knew I would be a lousy salesman and told our sales guy that. However, this situation was different. All our products’ problems aside, I could sell them because I *believed* in them. Our salesman, who had and continues to make a career selling whatever he thinks he can sell, looked upon me with pity.

    “That ain’t selling,” he said to me. “Anyone can sell something if they believe in it.”

  22. Dr. G
    Dr. G says:

    I agree with Tim. Of all of the jobs and careers out there, I think sales requires the highest level of emotional intelligence. In the UK, although sales is obviously a critical function and people in these roles can earn well, sales as a career is not regarded particualrly highly. I think part of that comes from the fact that its possible to enter sales and do well without a huge range of qualifications. Many people though don’t recognise (and value) the emotional intelligence capabilities required to succeed in this area.

  23. Pia Lachheb
    Pia Lachheb says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. I try to write every morning, because I find that’s when my ideas are fresh and uninhibited by the inner critic. Just free-writing, is well, freeing. It’s also the only time I really get for me and that feels great (it’s sort of meditative). But unfortunately when the days grow longer (especially during pitches – when hours evaporate) I lose this routine, and feel quite out of sorts without it. In regards to how friends shape behavior, imagine the influence significant others have! I’ve seen friends turn a strange shade when paired up with odd mates:)

  24. Shari Risoff
    Shari Risoff says:

    Excellent post… however… I am not a hunter-gatherer (eat what you kill), I am a farmer type salesperson (plant seeds, tend & then harvest) who meets & exceeds numbers everytime I sell SERVICES… but tangible products, not so much. I think it depends what the product/service is that is being sold, but there is a need for both and success for both types.

    Your final sentence is the key – to know which you are…

  25. Barry Moltz
    Barry Moltz says:

    People only buy when they are in pain and have money to solve the pain. It’s not personal. In sales, we just need to be there when people are ready to buy. There is where marketing comes in!

  26. Philotera
    Philotera says:

    We are thriving as a company in this recession because we do not believe in the ‘eat what you kill” philosophy. Everyone is part of a team, and they have to be able to support and promote the team. No one owns a client, and clients know they can call any of us and get the same service, same quality work. In the past couple of bad years many of our competitors have failed or scaled back who kept to the “eat what you kill” ideal. We have grown and prospered because we are a team. No rock stars. No slaves.

  27. Joselle
    Joselle says:

    “Maybe you can tell who you are by what you require yourself to do first, every day.”

    This is a great insight. In the middle of the day, it’s very easy for me to lose focus and figure out what is most important to me right now–especially because I don’t have a job to go to everyday. The first thing I require of myself everyday is to read. But it’s reading with the intent of finding the answer of what I’m supposed to do next and, most importantly, why. Whether it’s a novel, self-help, a catalog, anything, everything I read is with the intent of me trying to find some key.

    Why do you think you want to be good in cutthroat sales when your natural inclination is to develop and sell ideas? Furthermore, why do people want to do things they are not naturally good at? I feel like I’ve been hitting up against that problem since forever–wanting to be what my personality is not. I think my job in life is to want what I’m good at. That’s very hard.

  28. Peter Sharpe
    Peter Sharpe says:

    Very interesting article and comments.

    The main thing I never realised about sales was how wide reaching it was. In the UK I think we have a negative perception of salespeople and associate it with annoying cold callers and door to door sales. When I got a job as a proposal writer out of University it dawned on me.

    I am a salesman!

    And I am. I may not have to cold call, knock on doors or even meet clients but I go through the same process of finding the client’s needs, creating a product that meets them and presenting it in a clear and attractive way. And I find it absolutley facinating. As others have mentioned, the buzz of closing the sale, the buzz of the letter of acceptance hitting your desk is second to none.

  29. Christien
    Christien says:

    Such an expansive topic, buuuuut…The top dogs of corporations in the 40s though mid 70s all started as salespeople because they were clearly tied to the revenue generation. Then technology hit home more, which allowed people in finance & operations to rise to the top. During that time, sales people got some bad labels in the business worlds (pick a sales movie for proof).

    As 2010 approaches, the shift is reverting back to the sales person. Why? Because as several of your readers suggested, it takes a person that plays chess not checkers combined w/ a strong emotional IQ. The best sales people I meet, and manage, are the ones that are as much a part of their client’s business as they are the brand they represent.

    In today’s world, your prospective (or current) customers can get your product at anywhere at anytime, so you better make sure they see value in what you as a person bring to the table. You need to make them feel like they will be lost without you (sing Air Supply to yourself here).

    That is all.

  30. David Gehring
    David Gehring says:

    In today’s economy, it seems the most valuable positions are either creating something or selling something someone has created. As much as non-meat-eating folks like to disparage the meat-eating sales guy personality type, without them, awesome stuff would never get sold…I guess except for Google ad inventory…but that’s another story.

  31. Allison Scott
    Allison Scott says:

    Emotional intelligence for sales? Too big a leap. Maybe some have it, but I would point out that there are some emotionally stunted, yet smoothly performing psychopaths (more common than you know – pretend to have situationally-appropriate feelings, have mastered the display only) and narcissists in sales, as well as lots of truly emotionally intelligent folks. It’s like the surgeon and the knife…it’s all about the true intent of both parties as to whether it’s therapeutic cutting or assault/murder.

  32. Salesgurl
    Salesgurl says:

    My favorite part of this post was the last sentence because I realized the first thing I do in the morning (before ANYTHING) is to take my birth control pill. I’ll be happy in any role, as long as it isn’t Mom.

    • Allison Scott
      Allison Scott says:

      Know thyself, and you do. Stick with that and more power to you. No one dares say “Momhood not so much fun”…but I will. Parts are not so much fun. There’s this conspiracy of parents that refuse to recast their lives…because I believe…most of us are sheep and once we’ve narrowed the constant decision-making about who we are and what we’re supposed to do; out of duty to a really really cute forming human being, we just don’t step back much to re-assess ourselves. But I punched up the value and enjoyment of the good parts, so my life is not one of regret. Sort of one of bemused endurance ’til the freedom of their college years comes to me. I gotta say, I ADORE my kids, and their endless cuteness at all ages really helps compensate for lost opportunity.

  33. Cat Thrasher
    Cat Thrasher says:

    Great post!

    I used to study psychopathy for a study I did on infant fear. One thing I always believed was that sales people are a little psychopathic in that they are low-fear. There are two factors according to Hare’s “Psychopathy Checklist,” one pertaining to antisocial behavior (Factor 2) and one pertaining to emotional detachment (Factor 1). While factor 2 is found in many criminals, factor 1 is what differentiates these people as psychopathic.

    However, factor 1 can exist in anyone with varying intensities. Sales people tend to be high on factor 1, and that fascinates me. I’m jealous.

    However, another way to say it is that sales people are “low fear,” which is a big part of factor 1. That’s what I am studying in infants…if we could just find the generally low-fear traits early-on, we might find an entire subset of individuals who are good at getting what they want, without the stigmatic “psychopath” label. A bunch of low-fear “super-babies,” if you will: resilient to internalizing disorders and good with people.

    Anyway, I wish I were this way! Alas, I’ll have to stick to ideas.

    • Allison Scott
      Allison Scott says:

      Wow, that’s fascinating about the 2 factors; and I get what you mean by fearless good…emotional detachment (at right times) good also.
      I wonder if circumcised boys have a different fear sequence? Did you look at that too? I was so against circumcision, spouse was for it, and we did it his way. First son didn’t get lidocain; second one did…and they both deal with melt-down fear situations so differently. Parents perpetually wonder about the nature/nurture influence. Too many factors to know; I suppose.

  34. John
    John says:

    > when I told one of my mentors that I'm not good at
    > sales, he said, "Of course you're good at sales. You've
    > gotten three companies funded."

    You’re so full of shit, Penelope, how do you even walk?

  35. Kirk in Indy
    Kirk in Indy says:

    The best sales people are ‘selling’ long before they: A) realize it and/or B) get paid for it. In other words, they’re naturals. This demographic also tends to communicate their value almost effortlessly & with confidence. This applies to an ‘elevator pitch’ at front end or a ‘closing call’.
    This results in trust, recognition of value, etc. YOU are definitely in this group.

  36. Connie
    Connie says:

    I love sales and I am very good at it. I really believe the reason why I am good at it is because I love it. That helps tremendously. I also believe that in order to get the sale, this person has to at least like you in order to give you the sale. Now, I am not good at all sales. I can close sales over the phone alot better than I can close sales in person…. Listen, we all have a gift and we are all good at something. You just have to find out what that is. Good luck to you all:)

  37. LÃ¥n penge
    LÃ¥n penge says:

    Please consider to hire good sales staff instead of trying just to sell products yourself.
    And like John wrote – it´s natural for real salesperson to sell products.

  38. Patrick
    Patrick says:

    There are two kinds of sales people… good, and bad.

    Good = what you describe yourself as – you take something you believe in, and sell it… if the product is what you expect, you’re not so much selling, as letting something awesome and desirable sell itself. This isn’t sales, it’s providing people a service, letting them know that something they need is out there, and all they have to do is grab ahold

    Bad = selling things people don’t want or need, by convincing people that they really do want/need this. A good example is car sales folk… a good car seller will lie, cheat and steal to get you to sign on the dotted line.

  39. Nick
    Nick says:

    Sales is all about empathy and information. Pushy sales people will work in some areas but if you ever want to be a great sales person it is more about connecting.

    And that goes for anything from selling used cars to a coffee mug tree. Whatever you are trying to sell you need to know how to relate to the person you are trying to sell to.


  40. Medstore
    Medstore says:

    Thank you, this topic (as well as comments from other readers) helped me realize why I am not suited to sales or PR job (and why I shouldn’t feel bad about it).

  41. Annie
    Annie says:

    This entry really made me feel good about myself. I’m naturally a PR gal, storyteller, marketer, etc. I can sell ideas, but selling a tangible product… definitely not my forte. Thank you for continually inspiring me. I’m in the process of pitching investors so I can hopefully hire my own “Justin” type.

  42. john
    john says:




  43. Heatrush
    Heatrush says:

    Every morning that I wake up, and force myself to read a paragraph of Emerson, I have an absolutely tremendous day. The entire universe lines up with new unexpected meaning.

  44. Heatrush
    Heatrush says:

    Every morning that I wake up, and force myself to read a paragraph of Emerson, I have an absolutely tremendous day. The entire universe lines up with new unexpected meaning.

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