Les Brown: You Gotta be Hungry (Full Transcript)

I do a lot of training for many corporations and I conduct sales seminars and I’ve heard all kind of guys doing techniques and training — people techniques of how to close sales and how to work within and begin to control the sale and how to ask for the close. Let me share something with you. You can learn all the techniques in the world. If you don’t believe in yourself, it won’t happen for you. I learned all of it. So that’s why I do a training called focus on the seller. You’ve got to focus on you. And as you convince you, as you sell yourself every day, every day, every day you will begin to see a difference in the things that you’re doing. Selling yourself on your ability to perform a job, to achieve a certain objective telling yourself every day, hey I go again, and I got what it takes. This is my day and nothing out here is going to stop me. And when you go out there – say it again – well, I’ll be back tomorrow. That brings me to the next thing.

It takes courage to act. Part of being hungry, when you’ve been defeated, it takes courage to start over again. I used to do door-to-door sales, and I was working with another friend of mine. And door-to-door sales, I mean it’s punishing, it’s cruel and unusual punishment. And I was a little boy, knocking on the door, “Hello, would you like to buy a nice working television set?” No, bam! They slam the door in your face. And the friend of mine that was working with me, they slam the door on his face and I look back and he was gone to the car. He said, ‘I can’t do this’. And he sat down in the car and he said, ‘You go ahead. I’ll be here when you get back’.

Now he had a mother and father to take care of him. My mother was ill. I’m adopted. I was hungry. I had to go on. I learned something about myself, that when you step into your feet, somebody said it was Winston Churchill, he said that courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. When you step into your fears and continue to push yourself to go on, something happens for you. It will enable you to transcend yourself.

I went to the next door, ‘Would you like to buy a nice working television?’ No, bam! Went to the next door, no, bam! After a while, I no longer took it personal. And I began to play a game. I say, well, I know there’s a yes out here somewhere. And I’m going to keep on till I find it. And I’m not going home until I do. And I continue to knock on doors. And then somebody eventually would say yes and I said, are you sure? And I would go in there and I would get the sale.

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When you have something you want to do, if you don’t develop the courage to do that which has been given you to do and you spend a lot of time going around trying to convince other people of trying to get their approval, what will happen is that you will lose your nerve. And other people will convince you that what you are doing doesn’t have any value and you give up on your dream. It’s an interesting thing about life, I’ve also found, that if you don’t have the courage to act, sometimes and particularly if you have something special to do, life will move on you.

If it were not for life, I would still be a disc jockey. I didn’t just leave voluntarily to go to the state legislature, I was fired. I was working on a job. And I came home one day, I was married at the time, [not two] of my former wife. I said that guy Bert I work for is stupid. She said, “If he is so stupid, why does he sign your paycheck?” Now you see why I divorced her, right? I couldn’t stand her.

That night I could not sleep well. Here was a guy that was controlling my life. I was going through all kind of changes because this man controlled my paycheck. And it was Carlyle who said truth crushed to earth shall rise again. Winston Churchill said the truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it but at the end there it is. And we know scripture that says he shall know the truth. And the truth shall set you free. And the truth that I had to come to grips with, that I wasn’t in charge of my destiny, the truth was that I wasn’t giving all that I had. The truth was that there are some things that I wanted to do but I didn’t have the courage to act on those things. And the truth was that Bert Charles was a blessing to me. He made life so miserable for me I had to start looking at my life differently.

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I started going to work earlier. I started being the last one to leave there. I started working harder than anybody else. The other guys could not — Why would you work so hard, Les? I said I’m not working for them. I have been cheating Bert at thought. I’ve been cheating myself and my family. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, do it with everything that you have, develop the habit of giving more than what you’ve paid for. Develop the habit of setting standards that others will be measured by someone said do not go where the path may lead but go where there is no path and leave a trail.

All right. It is easy to be negative today. It is easy to have a low morale today. I was at a corporation and they’re going through downsizing and going to lay off some 1500 people over the next few weeks. It’s very depressing there and those people that stay there 9 times out of 10, they’re just going to do just enough to keep from getting fired. Anybody can do that. But if you can begin to harness yourself and say that where I am, I’m going to do the best I can with what I got because that is an expression of who I am. If you get into the habit of just being mediocre, it will become a part of your consciousness. If you get in the habit of giving less than what you have it within you to give it will begin to reflect itself in your personality. It will begin to damage you psychologically and you don’t want to be a part of that kind of self-destructive behavior. And so you want to set some high standards for yourself.

The next thing part of what feeds that hunger: you’ve got to develop a sense of urgency. [Marcus] Aurelius said stop living your life like you have a thousand years to live. In life you are here a day and you’re gone today. If there’s something that you want to do and you can’t do it all at one time do just a little bit of it. I like what Robert Schuller says. He said, ‘By the yard, it’s hard but inch by inch anything is a cinch’. Do just a little bit of it.