Do you know how many times I hear a message like, “Pat! I’ve got a billion dollar idea! We’re going to be the next billion dollar company!” In this video and article I get into why your great idea sucks, and why you should stop focusing on great ideas.
Why Your Great Idea Sucks (and What to Focus on Instead)
Let me explain to you why your ideas suck. Let’s say I have two people. One has the most ridiculous idea in the world. It could be the next Uber or Facebook or the next whatever you want to call it. It’s a great idea. The other guy has spent two years mastering a skill set. Day and night he focused on mastering the art of selling, selling, selling. He did this while the other guy focused on coming up with great ideas.
I’ll put all my money on the guy mastering the art of selling over the guy with the great ideas.
5 Examples of People with Great Ideas
Here are five examples that illustrate this point. And I promise you that you’ve never heard of some of them.
First we have Mark Zuckerberg. Everyone knows Facebook, that started in December, 2004. Zuckerberg didn’t even come up with the idea. The Winklevoss twins came up with the idea for Facebook, and Zuckerberg took it. You can call it stealing or whatever you want to call it, but Zuckerberg took it and started coding Facebook.
Then we have Steve Wozniak who learned how to create the computer in April, 1976.
Next we have the McDonald brothers who started McDonald’s on April 15, 1955.
Then there’s Nick Swinmurn. Do you even know who Nick Swinmurn is? Can you guess? Stop Googling it, and keep reading, and in a minute, you’ll know.
Next is Martin Eberhard. Oh my gosh! Martin Eberhard, wherever you are, I hope you’re not reading this.
Zuckerberg took his ideas from the Winklevoss brothers. And he started coding with his friend, Eduardo. He raised $18,000 from Eduardo. And they created Facebook. It was originally called The Facebook and was Harvard’s yearbook. If you haven’t yet seen the movie, The Social Network, you should watch it. It’s a great movie.
All of a sudden, Mark Zuckerberg ran into a sales guy named Sean Parker. If you don’t know who Sean Parker is, he was the founder of Napster. This dude knows how to sell. Zuckerberg said that Facebook would be a million dollar business, and Parker said, “No, this is a billion dollar idea.” Parker sold the vision to everybody. Now Zukerberg is worth $56 billion, and Sean Parker, the sales guy is worth $2.6 billion. Do you know what the Winklevoss brothers who came up with the idea are worth? Between the two of them, they’re worth $200 million, from their lawsuit settlement. Now of course you can say, “Pat, at least they’re worth $200 million.” Yes, but I would much rather be the sales guy.
Now let’s go to the next example, Steve Wozniak. I interviewed him many years ago. It’s a fascinating interview, which you can listen to here.
Wozniak found a sales guy names Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs knew how to sell. He had no clue what Wozniak did. When Jobs worked at Atari, he asked Wozniak to do the coding for him, because Jobs didn’t know how to code, but Wozniak did. Wozniak was the idea guy and he knew what he was doing. Jobs was the sales guy. If Steve Jobs was alive today, his net worth would be roughly $10 billion. Wozniak’s net worth is between $100 million to $200 million. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s still good, But the sales guy learned how to sell an idea to the rest of the people.
If you haven’t yet seen the movie, The Founder, you have to watch it. The McDonald brothers knew how to start a restaurant. Another guy, Ray Kroc sold milkshake machines. One day, Kroc got an order from the McDonald brothers for eight milkshake machines. He wondered if it was a mistake, but no, there was no mistake. They needed eight milkshake machines.
He decided to visit the McDonald brothers and was amazed by what he saw, and he knew McDonalds could be something big, if it was scaled. He paid the McDonald brothers $2.6 million to buy out the name McDonald’s and now the McDonald brothers can’t even use their own name.
Ray Kroc went to investors and sold the vision, and now there are over 36,000 McDonald’s worldwide. When Ray Kroc, the sales guy died, his net worth was $1.5 billion.
Listen in here to find out who Nick Swinmurn is, and his great idea.
Next, Martin Eberhard. Do you know who Martin Eberhard is? If you haven’t yet Googled this, let me tell you. Martin Eberhard is the original founder of Tesla. Elon Musk didn’t start Tesla, Eberhard did. Then Elon Musk showed up and saw that Tesla could be bigger than anyone else thought. Musk sold the vision of Tesla to the world, because he’s a sales guy. And you and I bought it, and now Elon Musk is worth a little shy of $20 billion.
So what’s my point here to you? If you think you have a billion dollar idea, that’s great. I don’t have a problem with that. But I want you to make a lot of money, and to do that, you need to focus on becoming an incredible salesperson. Focus on learning how to sell and communicate. Focus on selling the vision and product.
When I got out of the military, I couldn’t sell anything to anybody. I couldn’t even sell anything to myself. I was the worst salesman in the world. My body was incredibly fit at the time, but I couldn’t sell a gym membership to anybody.
I worked at Bally in Culver City. It was the worst gym, because it was in a basement, and the place smelled. I wanted to give up because I couldn’t sell. The manager, Cisco, was incredible. He knew how to sell to anybody.
He said to me, “Patrick, I believe you can do good in sales. So before you quit, I want you to do something. You need to learn how to sell at Fox Hills Mall.” I said, “Dude, if I can’t sell memberships at a gym, with all the equipment here, how am I going to do it at the mall?”
Listen in here to hear how things went for me at the mall.
After my experience at Bally, I discovered I liked financial services, and I knew I could sell them. But I didn’t come up with the product of insurance, annuities, stocks, bonds or mutual funds. I didn’t invent those ideas, but I learned how to sell.
By the way, I’m here to tell you that the more you focus on learning how to sell, and the more you improve that skill set, you are always in demand. People will need you for the rest of your career. Remember that. People always need a leader with sales.
So focus on mastering your skill set, and stop trying to come out with the next Apple or Snapchat or Facebook, or any of those other things that turn into billion dollar ideas.
I’m not telling you not to come up with ideas. But I’m telling you that knowing how to sell is more valuable than having a ridiculous idea but having no clue how to sell. The sales guys do much better than the idea guys all day, every day, and twice on Sunday. So my recommendation to you is to stop trying to be the guy that’s comes up with the next Uber, Facebook or Snapchat. Spend a year or two working under somebody who knows how to sell and learn to sell. Learn how to be an incredible communicator. Put yourself out there in front of other people, even if that’s a little bit uncomfortable. Do that, and then see what happens to you in the world of business.
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