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 Andonis Getsos.

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 MiamiBeach 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 financially secure.

“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 for me?”

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 skill.

“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 independently.

“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 erroneous.

“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 entrepreneurs.

“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 betrained 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 each day.

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. Your correspondent

Ted Nicholas