The Death Spiral of a Salesman


You find yourself cutting some corner. Something that you have to do. Maybe you pay an invoice a little late, maybe you make a design choice that’s expedient in lieu of being perfect.

Then, what happens, is you don’t get hired again.   Maybe you don’t get caught but someone knows. 

You have to work harder to sell the next thing. You get tired, because it’s so hard, and sloppy with a contract.  A payment term gets overlooked. A feature gets left out.

You have to, of course, redo the work.  This means you’re not profitable.  So you can’t make the offer letter to the top talent.  Because you don’t have the money.

It seems endless. Break-fix Requests coming in, you can’t triage fast enough.

You lay awake at night, turning in bed like a rotisserie chicken.  You can’t breathe because you were so close.  You replay conversations.  You are the outside looking in at a slow train wreck.

You get fat. You get short with the people that love you. You bury your head.  And stuff slips. A top employee asks for a raise. Because it’s a shit-show and to be part of it requires a premium.  Nobody cares anymore because what’s the point of trying. All the work will be turned to ash. So why bother?

For a while, you still believe. That one big deal, one lucky break can save it all. Maybe it will, maybe you can.  Sales cures all.

But that break never comes, and you can’t close with power because the lack of belief shines through your every action.  You can’t close. You don’t even bother calling prospects anymore.

You should have quit a long time ago.


You fix it. A little bit at a time. With humility and hustle and empathy. You see where you are, and extract the drama from the data.

The struggle is real, but also, optional.

Velocity is the soul of improvement

I want to get better. At everything. At how I live, where I live, what I do, all of it.

It hurts so badly sometimes to be sluggish, to go a week without growth, to miss a monthly target.

And I’ve learned one thing- doing things faster is the way to get better.  Most of us move and think and act so slowly.  We need so much information and we can’t really do anything.  Decisions get bogged down because there’s no real delegation.

We have to be faster and that means:

  • process
  • debrief
  • template
  • plan

It burns me up sometimes how much opportunity I’ve already squandered and I’m dead set on not doing it anymore.


I’m sharp again.

I spent last year not being vary sharp. Not being good. Living in tactical hell.

I lost my edge because I was fighting for survival. The working class milieu.

I don’t know how you unravel, exactly, but it is a combination of:

  • punting on tough decisions.
  • suggesting and not commanding
  • not taking care of your body and brain.
  • Not being committed.
  • Overmedicating/indulging.
  • lack of routine
  • Not respecting your power base (home, family, close allies).

2013 was a good year, I mostly went on inertia from the momentum I had.

I lost so much ground in 2014 on every possible front. I  started my recovery in January, and it felt like I was faking it. Felt like I was pretending.  I wasn’t sure that the steps were working, and I really had a case of impostor syndrome.

Now?  I know what I can do, and it sounds like bragging/vanity, but it’s the truth. I’m not a loser.

I have this feeling of sharpness, ability, confidence now.  I know I’m doing good stuff, I know I’m pushing and making a difference.

…whatever it takes to have this all the time.

Basic Skills

There are some basic skills that you have to have to run a company.

Most people don’t have them.

A partial list:

  • How to run a meeting
  • How to talk to your company people.
  • How to set a target.
  • How to assess default risk.
  • how to run a p+L
  • how to assess what imapcts different choices have (basic analysis stuff)
  • How to bring your own energy.
  • How to report on a target.
  • How to create a strategy that dominates the market.
  • How to create change without burning people out.

These are the table stakes for succeeding at a high level.  Nothing there is something that you can’t learn in a few hours, but still, most people – say 90% can’t do that sort of thing.

The reason is that they don’t get into the field and experience why it’s important.

This is why CEOs get paid what they get paid. My assumption is that there is a vantage point issue.  As we level up,  we see more of the world.

Like this:


This was cribbed from all over the web, including @therealbanksky.

Your own space.

Nobody is reading this blog.

Ghosts in the machine tell me there are comments, and there once was a blog here, but this is not the point.

I’ve mostly left Faceboo; that is to say, I have an account and I deactivate it every time I log out.  I jump on to message someone specific, like an old phone used to be.

I deactivate it because it gets to me. The nutty hustles.  The politics.  The “interesting ideas” that lead to nothing.

I can’t beat it back, I don’t have the strength to let it bounce off of me.

Here’s a space to think. Not to talk to others, but to work things out in my head, to meditate on whatever. It used to be – on livejournal – we’d write these pieces of thought. These 1200 word journal essays, part travelogue, part derrangement, part epiphany.

The promise of the Internet was we’d all have these outposts, our own spaces. The kind of conversations we wanted. We’d all get to do this, and it would be good.

Marketers ruin everything and they all made LiveJournal, turned that into Facebook and now we have a neverending stream of images about how great our lives are (and private groups bitching about our families.)

I prefer not.

Most American Men

Have a problem.

They aren’t attracted to the women they can get.  They are contemptuous that all their effort gets them inferior people, that it’s hard.

They lash out like goons.

Lather, rinse repeat.



Ad Roll Problems

Ad Roll is a company I hope to be doing business with.

The problem is that they email me from  OK, fine filter.

But their customer service is from there, too.  So if I filter them, I have to look for their message.  Ugh.  Accept their (not well written) e-mail or I miss support messages.

When I used to work at the bank, I’d call people and always get my calls returned. Sometimes they’d be mad at me for “crying wolf.”  “This is Chris from your bank – would love a call at ####.”  They thought something was wrong/stolen/etc.

Think it through.  success@ or something different would be a better way to market.


The car  salesman will sell you any car and say it’s a good choice, honestly.

The married guy that hits on every girl and probes them all for possibilities.

The underling that backbites his boss but takes orders.

The guy that wants to write a book some day, but you know he never will.

This is what sleazy is.  Noncommitment. Dabbling. It’s not attractive.

At the essence of sleaze it’s about not being committed. It’s about going with the flow, where the wind will blow.  We feel people are sleazy when they’d do anything. We admire people that are committed to something.

You have to figure out what’s right/wrong for you and go in that direction.


Getting Crazy Out Of Your Life

I had an employee who had a recent meltdown.

Some sort of personal issues, I don’t really know, but there was ugliness, the type of which had followed him around. He lost his shit on a dime.

He was on trial, he was treated unfairly. He had a point, we had an ambiguous agreement. But he had to go. I had to get him out of my company, out of my hair and away from me. Had to.

He was becoming dangerous. He had personal issues and he needed money, and he was extorting me.

I had to get him out of my life and be done.

Sometimes it means paying, sometimes it means police, sometimes it means both. When someone is insatiably crazy, you have to extract them from your life for good.