An Exclusive Interview with Dan Kennedy, Author of
The “No B.S. Book Series” — A no holds barred, kick
butt, take no prisoners guides to business success
In this interview, I talk with Dan Kennedy about his three new, outrageous, confrontive and controversial ‘No B.S.’ books. Dan is a world-famous speaker, with a 29 year career including 9 years on the #1 seminar tour in America, addressing audiences as large as 35,000, repeatedly appearing with former U.S. Presidents, General Norman Schwarzkopf and Secretary Colin Powell, top athletes, Hollywood celebrities, legendary entrepreneurs like Debbi Fields (Mrs. Fields Cookies), Jim McCann (1-800-Flowers), Ben & Jerry (Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream), and other leading speakers including Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy and Jim Rohn. Dan is also a highly successful entrepreneur who has built, bought and sold businesses; a high-paid consultant and advertising copywriter commanding $20,000.00 to $70,000.00 and more per project; and the consultant to a group of about 50 different niche-industry consultants, in total assisting over one million business owners annually.
Q: We’re going to tackle business, sales and time management in order. Let’s start with business. What DON’T most entrepreneurs know about achieving truly exceptional success, about getting very, very rich from their businesses?
A: Answering that begins with a discussion of intent, understanding the purpose of business and the prime responsibilities of the entrepreneur. I’ve discovered that most entrepreneurs surprisingly aren’t totally focused on getting rich, so they are not making their business decisions based on that intent. Truth is, most people who call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ aren’t; they are ‘small business owners’, and there’s a very important difference I discuss in the new NO B.S.BUSINESS SUCCESS: THE ULTIMATE NO HOLDS BARRED, KICK BUTT, TAKE NO PRISONERS TOUGH AND SPIRITED GUIDE.
Q: That title has attitude, doesn’t it?
A: Well, yes it does. It’s not a marshmellow, warm ‘n fuzzy book, nor is it theoretical or academic. It’s straight talk from real entrepreneurial experience in the real world – where they eat their young every morning.
Q: In Chapter 5 in your book, you talk about how entrepreneurs really make big money. Are people confused about this?
A: Sure. Most business owners suffer from three basic, false premises. One, that they should be focused on increasing sales and revenues, on growth of gross. Two, that there are rules and norms for their particular type of business or industry they need to adhere to. And three, that their creation of wealth is fueled foremost by working in and on their business.
Q: Well, all three of those seem reasonable…
A: They’re crippling b.s! First of all, wealth has as much or more to do with creating value as it does with creating income. In Chapter 5, I show how most businesspeople look for value in all the wrong places. And just focusing on more sales, more gross, more customers out of the context of value can lead to a lot of pain and agony. So you need to understand ‘value.’ Second, industry norms equal normal, that is ordinary, that is average results. If you want exceptional results, that means you want abnormal results, and that means you have to strategically defy your industry norms, strategically break rules – even to the point of really annoying peers and competitors. In Chapter 4, I present four Positioning Strategies, two of which defy norms. Third, the entrepreneur’s biggest payoff comes from improving his own skills, not just narrowly working on improving his business as it is currently defined. With this in mind, in Chapter 5, I define the six entrepreneurial competencies that, when mastered, lead to incredible income.
Q: If you had to summarize what this BUSINESS book is all about in just a few sentences, what would you say?
A: First, about managing yourself, the entrepreneur. About staying sane in an insane world. About surviving the entrepreneurial experience. Second, it’s about being the master of your business, not a slave to it.
Q: Rattle off a few of the most provocative ideas in this book.
A: You have to reject the entire idea of limited choices – so I talk a lot about re-examining your own beliefs about your business. The isolation of the entrepreneurial experience is dangerous – so I talk about how to very carefully and creatively assemble your teams and networks and coaches and alliances. Optimism can be virtue or vice depending on application – so I talk about the differences between silly positive thinking versus engineering good reasons to be positive, about creating a legitimately motivational environment to work in vs. trying to force yourself to be motivated. ‘Do It Now’ may not be the best advice. This book challenges you to think differently about every aspect of business.
Q: You have 21 ‘No B.S. Eternal Truths’ for entrepreneurs. Name several.
A: #3: Failure is part of the daily entrepreneurial experience, and #4: How you deal with failure determines whether or not you ever get the opportunity to deal with success. #19: A normal business can only yield a normal income. To earn an extraordinary income, you must develop an extraordinary business.
Q: Before we move on to sales, give us one really great piece of ‘no b.s.’ advice for entrepreneurs.
A: Satisfy yourself. Engineer or re-engineer your business to serve and satisfy you — and believe you can do that. Start working on a few provocative lists. List#1: Things you hate or frequently complain about, about your business. List#2; things you’d change if you could wave a magic wand. In the book, I’ll show you how these lists can actually unearth hidden, great opportunities concealed in a business.
Q: Okay, let’s move on to your second book, NO B.S. SALES SUCCESS — The Ultimate No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners and Make Tons Of Money Guide. Why is ‘sales’ so important?
A: Everybody needs to sell their way through life. Anybody who thinks and insists selling isn’t a critically important part of their life is too thick, in too much denial for us to help here. But if you get that you’re in selling, to some degree or another, you might as well get serious about doing it at an optimum level, for best results, with least stress and struggle. Which gets to my book – because most of the advice about selling is utter and complete b.s., regurgitated, antiquated, manual labor intensive methods.
Q: Go ahead and describe the book.
A: In Part 1, I provide 15 specific, simple strategies for sales or negotiation. Part 2 is for professional salespeople: how to stop prospecting once and for all. I tell salespeople that ‘cold prospecting’ is stupid. Unnecessary. In Part 3, I boil everything down to a 6-step sales process. I call Part 4 “Dumb and Dumber” because it deals with the dumb thoughts and behaviors that sabotage sales success. Like the b.s. that sales managers shovel onto salespeople. If you work for a sales manager and want to really make him fire-breathing mad, copy this chapter and tick it on his desk. In Part 5, I present my personal, most used, most valuable strategy, Takeaway Selling.
Q: What’s the biggest single misconception people have about selling?
A: Almost every salesperson and sales manager views selling as a process of actively applying force. Almost every book, tape, seminar and sales trainer teaches selling as a process of applying force. Prospecting is hunting, is forcing yourself on others resistant, at least initially resistant to you. Selling is forcing people to accept you, your ideas, your proposition, your price. Closing is forcing people to act now even if they want to delay. It’s all force. This is all as primitive as the caveman’s idea of romance and seduction; whack her over the head with a club and drag her back to the cave. Look, I’m all for tough-minded selling. One of my 15 strategies is: ignoring the word ‘no.’ But I wrap tough selling into a very different context: magnetic attraction and takeaway, so that there’s no force. Instead, people are standing in line begging you to accept them as clients, customers or patients.
Q: Many’ll say that sounds like a pipe dream.
A: Everybody thinks their business is different. Nobody’s is. What I describe in this book is VERY contrarian, very different, radical, but it is proven in hundreds of different businesses, by thousands of different people. I’ve yet to see the salesperson or business owner who cannot switch to this sales approach – and isn’t orgasmically happy after they do.
Q: Let’s get to time – your 3rd book, NO B.S. TIME MANAGEMENT FOR ENTREPRENEURS: The Ultimate No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide To Time Productivity And Sanity. You are legendary for getting enormous amounts of work done, and equally legendary for some strange time management habits. What’s behind the legend?
A: Those two things are linked. I wrote this book to answer the questions everybody who does business with me or gets to know me asks. For example, I refuse to use a cellphone or e-mail, I have only one staffperson in an office 1,000 miles away from me, I take no unscheduled incoming calls thus no interruptions, I am rather inaccessible. I am militant about guarding my time and I bar anyone who disrespects it from my life. As a result – I said: as a result – I get more accomplished in a week than most do in six months. This book is about that. A truly radical approach to time. If somebody immediately reacts – “well, I could never do such things in my business” – they desperately, urgently need to read this book. By the way, when its previous edition was out of print, used copies of the old edition were selling on e-bay for as much as $118.00 that I know of. This was something of a cult classic. More word-of-mouth about this book than anything else I’ve ever written.
Q: Why is time management different for entrepreneurs than others?
A: The very first chapter in this book is: how to turn time into money. That’s what entrepreneurs must do, that others don’t. In this chapter, I present a number, one single number, that will change the way you think of, invest and control your time forever. Our needs and pressures as entrepreneurs are very different from those of executives or school teachers or anybody else. This is reality based book.
Q: You have a chapter titled: how to drive a stake through the hearts of the time vampires out to suck you dry. That’s an incredible visual. Tell me about time vampires.
A: You have to understand, I view people who waste my time or disrupt my productivity or deflect me from my goals as mortal enemies. It’s very black and white. Time Vampires are needy, thirsty, selfish, vicious creatures who, given any opportunity, will suck up all your time and energy and leave you weak and debilitated. Once they find a good meal, they keep coming back, too. In the book, I identify the four main breeds of Time Vampires and tell you precisely what to do to kill them.
Q: Why did you write these books?
A: Mark Twain said: any man who writes but for money is a blockhead. So, of course, I wrote them because I got paid to write them. Which loops back to one of the first questions in this interview. But beyond that, I wrote all three as my reaction and response to the enormous quantity of unadulterated bullcrap foisted on people about success. The bookshelves are overflowing with stuff written by pinhead college professors, bean counters and also fakes and frauds, who’ve never actually done what it is they’re teaching or writing about. Some of it’s silly, some dangerous. I thought people deserved a truth-teller. I’ve tried to be entertaining, to make each book a good read. The editor of Forbes Magazine actually compared my writing in the No B.S. Business Success book to the great American novelist, Tom Wolfe’s. I wouldn’t go that far, but I hope people have fun with these books, find them easy to read, fast-paced. But above all else, I’m blunt. There’s no sugarcoating here. No theory here. Everything’s right out of reality. I didn’t think we really needed another book on how to succeed – I thought we needed a different book.
Dr. Joe Vitale is the author of way too many books to list here. His latest title is “The Attractor Factor: 5 Easy Steps for Creating Wealth (or anything else) From the Inside Out.” Register for his monthly complimentary ezine at http://www.mrfire.com/
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