Best Advice I Ever Got
The Success Margin
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A dear friend of my family, Andonis Getsos, was a
huge influence in my life.
Mr. Getsos gave me some invaluable advice.
I'll share it with you in a moment. Allow me to tell
you a brief story.
I was a teenager when I became very close with
A good friend of my parents, for some reason he
took a great interest in me. We spent quite a lot of
time together. He asked me to call him Uncle Tony.
He was an outstanding amateur wrestler in his
youth. I also love wrestling. He used to enjoy
wrestling on the beach with me.
We talked a lot. Uncle Tony was easy for me to
communicate with. I felt he understood me better
than anyone. He was a terrific active listener. A
quality all too rare in most people.
Uncle Tony was a multi-millionaire in the fur
business in New York City.
But before he achieved his remarkable success, he
had many setbacks, as do most entrepreneurs. But
unlike others who give up, he kept trying after he
experienced three business failures.
One day, Uncle Tony asked me what exactly I
wanted to do with my life. I was 16 years old. I
answered this way.
"I want to start and build my own successful
business. But I know there are no guarantees. I
may or may not be successful as you first time
around. So, it's very important for me to possess
fantastic survival skills. Then I'll be able to start
over if I have to.
"Of course, I also know my father is not in any
position to help me start over if I were to
experience a business failure. Nor do I want to
expect anyone else to help me.
"In fact, Uncle Tony, I want to be so good at
something that even if I were to wash up on Miami
Beach naked without contacts and without a penny
to my name, I'd still become a millionaire like you
in 5 years or less. To become expert in the most
important wealth-building skill would make me feel
"I'm willing to apply myself and learn whatever it
takes. What's best for me? Accounting? Manage-
ment? Law? Sales? Finance? What? I really could
use some guidance.
"Is this an impossible dream? What is your advice
Uncle Tony smiled and said, "Ted, it's not
impossible at all. The solution is quite simple.
There is just one skill you need to develop to
accomplish your goals. All the other areas you
mentioned are costs to any business. And you can
easily hire talented people for these functions.
"You must become really good at what few ever
master--sales and marketing! It's the only business
skill that brings in cash flow and funds all other
departments and talents the business may require.
That's why it's appropriately the highest paid
"But there is one big catch. You must learn to
ignore the many critics you will inevitably come
across. You need to learn how to think and act
"Most people never begin to understand or relate
to what it takes to become wealthy.
"What you need to discover is how to successfully
market your product or service. You can become
fabulously rich, have a lot of fun, and have a great
life along the way."
This was the best advice I ever got.
Uncle Tony went on to say, "But I must warn you.
Don't be surprised by lots of negative comments
and unsolicited advice.
"Many people, including your friends and family,
will try to discourage you from becoming a great
salesman and marketer. So will your teachers and
professors. Foolishly, most view sales and
marketing as a low-class career.
"They will instead encourage you to get a 'good
education' and later a 'good job.'
"But while a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, even
as an executive or professional, may suit some
people, it doesn't sound like what's best for you.
And, in my opinion, is not nearly as satisfying as
having your own successful business either.
"And what would surprise the average Joe, it's not
tougher to be a successful entrepreneur. In fact, you
will not have to be politically correct with so many
people, including incompetent bosses. And,
contrary to commonly held views, entrepreneurship
may be an even easier route than what a successful
executive or professional must take.
"Even books, movies, and plays are extremely
unflattering to sales people and business owners.
For example, the famous 'Death of a Salesman'
written by Arthur Miller. The lead role is depicted
as an unhappy, money grubbing, dishonest person
without morals. Such a view of nearly all
salespeople and entrepreneurs is completely
"While there are some crooks in the business
world, they are the exception.
"You can't succeed in a business in a big way for
long unless you are persuading many people to
voluntarily trade with you.
"Listen to those who criticize. Understand their
views, but pay them no heed.
"While they may or may not mean well, here is the
point. Their advice is meaningless. Don't be
influenced by anyone else except highly successful
"Instead of being a villain, the entrepreneur is
really the unsung hero of any society. For it is the
entrepreneur owners of small businesses, not big
business, who create over 75% of all new jobs.
And, of course, the majority of the wealth.
"In fact, 99% of all the world's self-made
millionaires and billionaires are entrepreneurs.
And they all started with a small business."
Uncle Tony was a very wise man. By age 18, I
became an independent salesman with Kirby
Vacuum Cleaner Company. I was fortunate to be
trained by an outstanding sales manager.
Within a few weeks, as a young kid I was earning
more in a week than most top executives earn in a
month. (The best sales and marketing training in
the world may well be door-to-door sales.)
At age 21, I began a business of my own -
Peterson's House of Fudge. I was a millionaire at
age 23. The business grew to 31 successful stores
of my own in six U.S. states.
Later I wrote my first book and began my
information publishing empire including books,
home study courses, and seminars, etc.
I won't go into all the details here as I've
written about it elsewhere.
This early sales and marketing training was a
great foundation for my direct marketing
activities. It enabled me to eventually
successfully market all of my own products and
those of clients around the world. I've achieved
sales exceeding 4.9 billion dollars in 49
industries. And the revenues continue to increase
I became what I advise anyone who seeks to
become a wealthy and successful entrepreneur -
an effective salesman and communicator. The key
skill is to be able to position products effectively.
Then to express persuasive ideas either personally,
one on one, or in writing, online and offline. And
also from the public speaking platform.
Uncle Tony's recommendation given me as a young
teenager was by far the best advice I ever got from
anyone. Because it's a universal truth in this
changing world, it's just as valid today as it was
then. And you can rest assured it will continue to
be 50 or 100 years from now.
Professional sales and later direct marketing
taught me the fundamentals. I continue to employ
and refine these skills today.
© Copyright 2007 Ted Nicholas