If you asked me to explain what I do in one simple sentence, it would be that I push people to success.

My company is a marketing agency. We do marketing stuff for clients. So of course the first thing I need to do is motivate people to become a client. That’s really the job of every sales person right? Motivate people to take action.

What is selling?

I don’t think of selling as cold blooded closing. I think of it as motivating. Through stories, context, examples that relate to their specific needs. The goal being to get them excited to take action to become a client.

I also find myself continually trying to motivate people to improve their own marketing. When I give a workshop, I share tools, tips and tricks. But the most important thing I do is motivate.

I can teach you the most dazzling array of marketing techniques known to man. But if I can’t motivate you to implement it, it’s all for nothing. Without action, nothing happens.

Here’s a guarantee

When it comes to action… You’re going to fail. And the more action you take, the more you will fail. And people fear failure. And more often than not, it’s that fear that stands in the way of action and ultimately success.

So as a motivator, my goal is to get people used to the idea that failure is just part of the game. And the more you fail, the more you struggle, the closer you get to success. In fact, I say fail fast and fail often.

So I love this type of advice and want to share some that I recently found motivating.

It’s great advice for any business owner or marketing manager. And it comes from an unlikely person: Robert De Niro. This is his commencement address to the 2015 graduating class at The Tisch School Of Performing Arts at NYU.


What does it have to do with being a business owner?

I believe stepping out and running your own business to be one of the most difficult things you’re ever going to do. But really any lofty goal is hard to reach. And the loftier the goal, the harder it is to be successful.

Maybe you’re a marketing manager in a small company and your dream is to run Facebook’s marketing team. Well you’ve got to be on an elite celebrity marketer level to swim in that pond. Lofty goal.

The bigger the prize, the bigger the chance of failure.

What I want

I have a goal to speak at A TEDx event. It’s why I do the other podcast I do with Dino Dogan called Road to TED.

There is a recipe for everything. If you want to be president of the United States, there’s a recipe to follow. If you want to be the President of a small local company, there’s a recipe that is far less complex. Agreed?

Now TEDx is a small, regional event run through TED but by local folks. So to get in there all I need to do is show I can speak well, have a great topic and know the organizer. I’m over simplifying but it’s just a recipe.

Now even if I follow the recipe there is no guarantee I will be a success. But I have maybe a 50 percent shot at getting the talk if I do my job right. Without following the recipe I might have had a five percent shot.

I could have set a loftier goal. To speak on the TED stage. Those are events that famous people speak on. Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, presidents of fortune 500 companies, presidents of countries.

I’m not famous. So if I want to speak on a TED stage, part of the recipe is that first I have to become famous. Even then, maybe I have a one percent shot at being selected for it.

The bigger the goal, the bigger the obstacles. The more rejection we’re going to face. Period.

The hardest job on Earth

Nothing in the world is more difficult that I can think of than being an actor. Sure you can work at local theater and make an okay living…maybe. But to be on the big screen? To be on Broadway?

Robert De Niro gave some incredible advice in his commencement address. In the 16 minute talk he gave them the honest truth about their degree: you’re effed.

Graduating with a degree in acting, directing, writing is a leap of faith. The odds of becoming a Robert De Niro or the next Martin Scorsese are so improbable it makes you wonder why anyone would even try.

He joked that graduates from the school of nursing will all be employed. Graduates from the school of dentistry, business, and other more conservative degree choices would all be employed. But graduates of Tisch… you’re just effed.

Get used to this!

His address was very funny and also pretty accurate. But he gave some of the best advice those graduates could have heard. Get used to rejection.

He told the class a new door has opened to them. A door to inevitable rejection. And that they will experience it whether auditioning for a part or a place in a company.

This advice was brutal. And it’s true advice no matter what your goals in life are.

But here’s the thing about rejection that he talked about that I loved. It’s nothing personal.

Why people really don’t succeed

People don’t take certain actions because of a very simple bunch of reasons. One, it might just be too hard. So take an easier action and work up to the hard one.

Another reason is they lack the passion. Well, that’s another topic. If you don’t bring passion to what you do, you may was well not bother.

But the big one is fear of rejection. If you want to make it as an actor you most certainly need to get rid of the fear of rejection.

“You’re going to be rejected a lot and often it will sting. But it’s nothing personal. A director may just have something very particular in mind for the role” said De Niro.

He joked about the time he tried out for a role as Martin Luther King Jr. He got rejected. The director just had a different kind of person in mind. It was nothing personal.

He was being funny there. But it illustrates a great point.

And the point is…

As a business owner, you won’t land every client. You won’t have every pitch accepted. But guess what…. The more you sell, the better your chances of success are because you just have more at bats.

Want to start a business? Bloomberg says 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start a business fail in the first 18 months. That is an 80 percent chance of failure in only a year and a half.

Get past that 18 months and there is more possibility of failure ahead. Doesn’t matter how big and successful you are or whether you’ve been in business 1 day or 100 years, it’s not easy. Anyone remember Blockbuster Video?

This is great advice

You have to keep working, it’s that simple. You must take action. And the more action you take, the statistical chances of success increase.

Rejection isn’t personal. When you fail, you move on to the next part.

But the person who steps out that door and hangs a shingle on their door is in for the fight of their life.

Statistically speaking, you stand a great chance of failure. 80%. How do you put yourself into the 20 percent? You find the recipe and follow it.

Just go for it

“Do your best and accept that sometimes your best won’t be good enough,” he told the graduates. And when that happens, (to quote something from the arts that is quite apropos); pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.