Cluelessness and what's behind the door


A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.

- Elbert Hubbard -

A little while ago I wrote about a situation is which I was contacted directly by my company's main competitor with the intention of them bringing me on-board with their company in a national role; I met with the person, an upper-level executive, and listened to his proposal. In the course of the discussion he asked me about what I thought was the reason for my success in the industry which I've only been in for a short time and because I didn't want to give away any real information I answered vaguely then clarified in a basic way.


That's right, I told him, my cluelessness is my greatest asset, and managed to keep a totally straight face when I said it, and the look upon his face was absolutely priceless.

He'd contacted me because I have secured many rather sizable accounts that his company used to hold; take enough away from the competition and they panic, move away from their own game-plan and begin to act in increasingly desperate ways which only serves to destabilise them further. It amused me to watch him from across the table thinking, how the fuck does this fellow who calls cluelessness his best feature, take all that work away from us?

Well, it's not magic; it's a lifetime of hard work, consistency, persistence, failures, evaluation, research and study, the right thoughts, attitudes and actions, dealing with rejection, managing my emotional state, ego and hubris, experience, making changes and not being afraid to fail and a thousand other things as well.

Let me explain my cluelessness

On the surface it looks like I'm saying I have no clue, but only a fool would think that of me, and then probably pay the consequences. What I meant, and one of the other success-elements I didn't list above, is the ability to not prejudge a situation.

I don't look at an opportunity and think, I'm too inexperienced, too new, too expensive, or whatever, to approach that opportunity. I might not initially understand how my company could fit their situation but if I don't walk in the door I'll never know, and that'll be an opportunity lost. Prejudging a possible outcome and failing to pursue it will only ever do one thing which is to cause that opportunity to never have the chance to eventuate or progress.

I work in the fast-paced heavy transport, freight and logistics industry; it's demanding and very lucrative.

Winning an account could mean annual revenue of many millions of dollars to my company and for years to come and my company expect results, and when I deliver them they expect more in an endless cycle. It's not easy work, in fact it's really fucking hard work, but - I'm not trying to sound immodest here - I seem to be able to do it with relative ease and the results have come quickly. I'm not saying I'm the best there ever was here, I'm simply not. However the experience and skills I've gained throughout my life seem to have focused and with my cluelessness, my lack of prejudgement of a situation, I am making things happen. I do what other's don't, I walk in the door and ask questions.

It's about people

This time last year I quit my job of some twenty years in commercial real estate and took a couple months off. After I got a little bored I sent out a few applications and had four interviews inside of a week.

I recall, in one of them, the interview panel telling me I had no experience with their product and I agreed because it was true. I was confident I could do the work and explained that when I'm selling a product or service, any at all, there's a single common denominator and that's the fact I'm selling to a person. I know people and so I feel qualified, is basically what I said. They went on to test my skills in that regard and I demonstrated with ease.

Of course, sometimes there's a degree of technical knowledge involved, but they knew I didn't have the technical knowledge based on my curriculum vitae and yet there I was, being interviewed. Sales is always about the person and is less about the product. If you need a spoon, there's only so many different types, and so it comes down to people and how they feel, interact and understand each other. If I was not to treat with the decision-makers and others well, the other spoon company would win the business probably even if my spoon was a bit cheaper; it happens all the time. People want to deal with people they like, or so I've found.

Not every door I walk into turns into immediate business, it never will. But if I walk in I have a chance, and the rest is up to the situation and whether my company has a viable solution, and how I move the process forward with the people I'm dealing with.

Using my ears and mouth in proportion - that is two to one - listening 66.6 percent of the time and talking 33.3 percent of the time, reading body language and commanding my own to get into a synergistic situation with the prospect and then providing solutions based on the needs analysis I've conducted is what wins business. Understanding my product is a focus, but it's more about showing how it can cater to the prospects' requirements and needs than it is talking at them and downloading a pile of knowledge or information.

Anyway, that's how my cluelessness helps me succeed at heavy transport, trucking and logistics, a highly-competitive and cut-throat industry. Having the ability to walk in without prejudging a possible situation and its chance of success or failure has it's merits in my business and others, and has paid dividends for me.

This post was written within the worklife community, a fairly new community based around one's work life. If you're keen, take a look, read the guidelines and rules and have a try at it.

Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default - Tomorrow isn't promised so be humble and kind

The image in this post is my own

3 columns
2 columns
1 column