What Have I learned In 60 Years?

I am writing this and posting this on March 9.  Tomorrow, March 10 is my 60th birthday!  I am now a strong believer in #60isthenew40!  To celebrate I am leaving tomorrow for a 500-mile bicycle ride from Atlanta to Tampa, FL, taking me six days.  I am doing this as I love cycling, but mostly just to see if I can do it.  (It was either this or buy a really expensive red sports car or start a relationship with another woman, neither of which my wife thought was appropriate!) Can I stand the day in day out grind on staying mentally and physically on my game?  The daily ritual of getting fueled and ready in the morning, staying hydrated and fueled all day and then going through my recovery checklist in the evening.  Three days of 80 miles, one day of 66, then the last two days are gut check time, 102 and 91 miles the last two days.  Follow martymercer on Instagram if you want to see a few photo’s.

But that’s not the main subject of this blog.  Last weekend I was with my wife and three children and their spouses to celebrate my birthday early.  My son asked me to share with the group the three things I have learned over the years.  I have to say I was impressed by that request.  I told him to give me a day and I would think of a few things.  So, here are not three, but six (double the request!) things I have learned, mostly over the last 30 years, mostly in the business world, that I shared with my family.  In true millennial fashion, my kids were all furiously typing what I said on their iPhone’s!

  1. Don’t be afraid to be a late bloomer.  What I mean is that just because success or fame is not instant for you, or occurred at a young age, does not mean you won’t get to your success time.  I consider myself a late bloomer.  No real sports success until high school.  Climbed the corporate ladder for many years, but never to the very top.  But in the last 10 years I have found my calling and consider the last 10 years to be my bloom!
  2. Know more about your customers business than what you sell. I have always been in sales, and for many years I was an expert in only what we sold.  However, thanks to this late 10-year bloom, I now realize that once you have spent a year or so at a company, you know enough about them.  Stop studying your company and spend all (well, a lot!) your time studying your customer.  Success comes easier and more quickly this way.
  3. Learn about the rest of the world outside of your business vertical. For 25 years I led sales teams selling software to hospitals.  I was an expert on our software and on hospitals.  In fact, some called me a hospital savant!  Over the last 10 years of sales training and transformation, I have worked with many companies outside of healthcare.  And I discovered there was more to know about the rest of the world than I knew.  Always be learning about other subjects than just your company or vertical.
  4. Do what you are good at, can make money at, impacts people AND what makes your happy. Probably bad grammar, but all the connecting words are important.  You should do all of these.  If you are not doing all of these, find a new spot where you can.
  5. Always share the glory with your team – there are no solo events anymore. For the last 10 years I have been the guy up front leading sales teams through sales training, strategy sessions, changing the way they sell.  It looks like I am the “show”.  I am not. There are always several, if not many, people behind me who are making me look good.  You can lose alone, but you can only consistently win in the long haul with a team.  Make sure they know how critical they are to the successful outcome.
  6. And lastly, perhaps a bit whimsical, but I really mean it….at least once per week listen (in no order) to: Frank Sinatra, AC/DC, David Bowie and early Britney Spears. You will get a smile on your face, play some air guitar, pretend you are the coolest cat in the room, and realize that Britney is still making money….in Vegas!