A conversation with Ron Karr
I recently interviewed business development expert and bestselling author of “Lead, Sell, or Get Out of the Way,” Ron Karr. Here are highlights of our fascinating conversation.
LF: Ron, could you tell me about a formative event from your past that contributed to the person you are today?
Ron: The event that most changed me occurred in 1988 when my parents were in a horrific car accident. There was an explosion and in a moment both were close to death. Thankfully they survived. That event motivated me to begin asking two vital questions that shape my life.
First, what does success look like? And second, are my actions supporting it?
Those two questions continue to change me. They change anyone who seriously asks them.
LF: What is one of your biggest mistakes?
Ron: The thing that held me back the most in life was needing answers up front. You can’t blaze a new trail if you need all the answers before you launch. I’ve learned the importance of keeping vision up front. First commit to vision and answers will come. The power of focus enables me to say no to things that don’t matter.
LF: What piece of advice do you most frequently give others?
Ron: Create something. People in marketing, sales, and leadership are too worried about the competition when we should be focused on creating new results for the people we want to influence.
Creativity is where the future lies. Capture your creative thoughts in a private journal, let them ruminate, and then bring thought to reality. The real magic is in execution.
LF: What books have changed you?
Ron: Many books have changed me, two recent ones are:
“MOJO” by Marshall Goldsmith
“Free, the Future of Radical Price” by Chris Anderson
Questions for the community.
What piece of advice do you most frequently give others?
What piece of advice have you received that changed you?
Click here to leave your comment
November 1-2, 2010 Ron is hosting: Ron Karr’s Lead, Sell or Get Out of the Way 2-Day
Sales Boot Camp.
November 3, 2010 Ron is hosting: Creating a High Performance Sales Culture – Executive Summit.
Call Ron at 201-666-7599, mention Leadership Freak and get 10% off registration for these events.
Community note: I’ll be reviewing Ron’s book next week and we’ll be giving away five copies of his book.
A lot of Thanks to you Dan for making this discussion possible, and thanks for Ron for being here!
The piece of advice that i give it to others and to myself is: “face it” don’t bear a situation until it becomes unbearable, analyze it as soon as possible and observe its development and your possible interventions, you will have a lot better chance of improving it!
The piece of advice that it changed me recently is: “be happy you are moving forward”, thinking of it gives me a lot of balance of being passionate about making dreams true and also live the moment, not an easy challenge.
Best to you all,
Thanks for your great comment.
I love the advice you give and the advice that changed you… Nothing like focusing on progress rather than problems. Nothing like focusing on forward movement to encourage.
Best to you,
One of my mentors used a variation of ‘face it’ and said in any tough situation, ‘lean into it’ rather do what the more primal part of your brain says which is run away fast. Threefold benefit from facing it, one it does resolve (or evolve); two, if it goes well you can give yourself a pat on the back for dealing with it rather than ruminating and three, whatever the outcome, you will learn something.
Hi Huda, great comments. I totally agree with you regarding your concept of the “waiting for the unbearable” or as I say it letting things fester until it is too late. Regards, Al
What an wonderful post. Mr Ron Karr has a great life story, and I understand him. Most of us, put real question about meaning of life success when we face a dramatic life situation. From every difficult situations, rise strengths and vision, in my opinion.
My answers to these great questions are:
1.What piece of advice do you most frequently give others?
-depending on situations when others seek for advise from me, first I make sure that I understand their story correctly and after that I try to motivate them, and make them see the positive part and to EXPLORE it (this could mean for them to be creative if they have this quality, or to have courage to discover their skills and to pursue a happy “road”. Be focus on positive!
2.What piece of advice have you received that changed you?
-I received a very profound advise from a special person: “Don’t matter what others say about you, it matters what God say about your actions.” It made me to have an “eye” on my actions first, and after that on others.
Of course that this “exercise” of the “eye” I am adapting on each subject of my life. My believe is that to be able to create something lasting, business or personal life, each of one must take an “exam” from time to time. Is a large subject for me , I have more thoughts, but I think I already said what was essential from my point of view.
Also a great advise received from other special person for me: ” don’t let your frustrations get in away of your goals. Keep doing things which help you to achieve your goals”- you should know that person “Dan”.
Kind regards to all,
Thanks for your great comment. I love how this post is working out and look forward to what everyone says.
Personally, if I’m not careful, I can let what others are doing get in the way of what I am doing. Your comment is a great reminder.
I’m glad you dropped in,
I appreciate your effort to conduct such a valuable interviews with Ron Karr. It inspires to be focused towards goal. I agree that vision can be achieved with right actions and focused direction. Shape of the success creates action. Bigger the shape, bigger the action and vice versa. People with great vision face more obstacles and ups & downs but with dogged determination they overcome all hurdles. I like the point that people worry about competition whereas real game is in result. Customer need result that is more than what they expect. And value proposition comes through creativity and differentiation.
I frequently give advice others to prioritize first. I believe, vision is usually ultimate goal. And to achieve vision, the need is to achieve small goals or priority first. So, without meeting immediate priority, it is highly impossible and looks impractical to achieve vision.
When people around me talks about me positively, it actually encourages and inspires me to do more. When I discuss some dream with my friends and family, they support it with their belief in me. It again encourages and motivates me. When I see the happiness and proud on the face of my family, friends, and people around me, I feel proud. My pride inspires me to do more and even for impossible goals. This is the way I get what I want and believe What I do.
Love your comment. One point really sticks out to me personally.
“People with great vision face more obstacles and ups & downs” I hadn’t thought of that side of this discussion. Your statement is one of those truths that is so clear and simple that it’s truth is unavoidable.
Thank you for adding value to this worthwhile conversation.
You can check out Ajay’s bio at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/ajay-gupta
Hello Dan and the LF community,
I don’t give so much advices. But probably, the best advice I ever give – that is now dating more than a decade- because that’s the one I get the best feedback is:
“Put yourself in danger”
This of course doesn’t mean “do something dangerous and irresponsible.” 😉
A good advice-reminder I received is (somehow pretty close to the previous advice):
“You are already out. So, what do you have to loose? Go!”
These advices work pretty good for me because I am programmed “oriented toward” instead of “avoiding pain”.
Cai Wei Ye
Cai, my spin on ‘put yourself in danger’ is take risks…take them, with wisdom and skill. (read that a long time ago). The author who I have not tracked down, said, we need to risk every day in all of the arenas. Ron points to that by not needing all of the answers.
Cai, I like your comment. Risk aversion leads to complacency and stagnation. Growth can only occur as Doc puts it with skillful and sagaciously made attempts. Wayne Gretsky: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!” Regards, Al
Good Morning Dan!
What an interesting start to the day. I look forward to reading what everyone shares.
As far as advice I often give? It’s generally about communication – the key to everything. Either encouraging others that there’s no such thing as just one solution, to always get at least a 2nd (qualified) opinion and that “wisdom is found in the midst of a multitude of views.” Which applies to anything in life, health or business. That no human is infinite enough to contain all the knowledge of a single subject, much less of the universe. So celebrate that wonder and make use of individual expertise by adding their insight and value to your team, even if it’s just to add to your own collection of thoughts personally, so you can make informed and empowered decisions.
Or something along the lines of mediation. “OK, you’ve hashed out your concerns with me, but have you gone to the source? Have you talked to that teacher/volunteer/manager/parent/business/peer that you have a suggestion/concern/issue with? Because they can’t do anything about what they don’t know.” All too often, people avoid confrontation, so nothing is ever addressed. When you feel helpless, the last thing you should do is give up. And to keep in mind that though emotional reality is real and does give us valuable information, that emotional reality and factual reality are not generally the same.
As far as advice that changed me? The first thing that comes to mind for me are words from my Grandmother when I was a child, after I showed her a crochet sculpted hockey puck I made. A thought occurred to me as I was learning to crochet, that I could do more than what everyone around me was doing. That I didn’t have to just make doilies and afghans. That I could use a hook and yarn to sculpt, kind of like clay. So I set about to prove my theory. As silly as it might sound, showing Grandma and hearing her words was a pivotal and freeing moment I have never forgotten. “Well look at that clever thing! See there’s nothing you can’t do and bring into reality when you set your mind to it. If you want it, and work for it, you can do it.” As an adult, I realize those words may seem cliched, but that tiny young moment contained so much power for me. Something huge shifted inside of me. I have since heard stories from others who were criticized for not doing things “correctly,” and as a result they never really picked up the art. You never know what it is that will make a difference for someone.
Also to take a look around you, that often people are surrounded by their greatest assets and don’t even realize it and therefore never tap into their potential. And that talents and weaknesses often go hand in hand. Sometimes if you look hard at a weakness, a talent (part of the solution) will show its face. Not everything is completely as it seems. There are hidden gems and opportunities everywhere. We have but to look.
Hope your week is looking great!
Hi Julia I also enjoyed your “grandmother” story and it reminded me of advice provided to me at the young age of 13 many moons ago. This was a janitor who unbeknownst to me was a chess master and here comes Al the chess club president who “really” knows all about it and challenges the janitor with a match. Well needless to say it was thoroughly embarrassing when he proceeded to handily beat me very quickly 4 games in a span of 10 minutes! The clincher was that he never stopped mopping the floor and would tell me to yell out the moves and he would yell back his move without ever laying eyes on the chessboard! No need for a lot of analysis here as to what the moral of the story was. He smiled and turned to me as I started to leave and said “Son you should never underestimate the realm of a human being simply by looking through the lens of a stereotypic world.” (or something to that effect).
I am not sure whether he was quoting some one or not but Humility has been part of my core ever since. That little old man “saved” me and opened up my mind to a world that is full of knowledge and reminded me that every person is my teacher if I am willing to be the student. Kind regards, Al
Al and Julie,
I must say that all the comments have enriched me but the two of you are hitting on all cylinders. Julia you nearly made me cry and Al you made me laugh. 🙂
Man if I have any more fun I’m going to pop!
Thanks you guys your awesome.
I LOVE your story! That is awesome! And what a gift! Dan, I’m laughing too. And I love that quote. I’ve been blessed with the influence of many “old” people in my life, which I’ve been really grateful for. Can’t tell you how much I owe them today.
Stories like these just keep reminding me how important micro-moments can be. I try to remember that as a mother. And I look forward to being one of those very cool and influential “old” people too one day. LOL! 😀
Love the expression “micro-moments.” Small things matter.
Julia, I agree with those who have complimented your grandmother’s wisdom! It strikes me as funny/karma that my “Wordless Wednesday” today had to do with the word “sculpt” (or, um “sclupt”): http://waytenmom.blogspot.com/2010/10/wordless-wednesday-gold-edition.html
Thanks Paula! What fun synchronicity. I’m really blessed. Both my grandmothers taught me crochet, but she was probably the most influential. Perhaps because I grew up just down the street from her. She’s still alive today at nearly 92 and has been an inspiration to me as she has fought lymphoma for the last 15 years or so. Every time she loses her hair again, she never complains, crochets herself a new hat and continues to share smiles and hugs for everyone who crosses her path. Admittedly, she is largely why I do what I do.
Whenever I hear someone make a statement that appears to be “the truth” ie. something like “we can’t go tomorrow because the office will be closed” I now always reply with “are saying that because you know that to be true or do you think that’s the case?”
Some people can’t tell the difference between what they think or believe and what is the true situation.
Thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken. It’s great advice to confirm what we “think” and avoid making what we “think” THE truth.
Thanks for sharing the intuitive wisdom of your Grandmother. Wasn’t that a foundational moment, wow! Think of all the ways that might have gone sideways, but she was so savvy and respectful of you to encourage that ‘there is no box to think outside of’ perspective. And all it took was a few words…the right words. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Doc. It really was! I’ve had to really appreciate in my adulthood what a gift that was. My entire life view shifted right there. It’s funny, neither of my grandparents seemed to realize what an impact they had on me. Today I try to remember that, not only with my own children, and their friends, but everyone I encounter. The impact we have, even in just a few moments, can be powerful to someone else even when you don’t realize it. Negative or positive.
Ron’s second point of capturing your ideas and let them ruminate (or percolate) reminded me of an interaction with an coworker who sometimes had an Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh) mindset.
“Oh, bother, why try, won’t matter.” Not only is the glass half full, it probably has a crack in it and it will take too long to fill.
He complained that he had had this idea over three years ago, nothing ever happened and then after all this time, it finally came into reality.
We then talked about planting seeds, how some germinate, some don’t and some just take a really long time to get growing.
For leaders, it is tough to blaze that trail, but definitely worth it if a clear vision guides you.
Dejavu all over again. I think anyone who has led has heard someone else mouth something they previously said as if it were there own. Perhaps it’s good advice to not get too upset when others take longer to arrive at the “wise” conclusions we earlier arrived at… 🙂
Doc is a featured contributor and encourager on Leadership Freak. Check out his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/doc
JULIA, I think God gave grandmothers special wisdom, we often do not realise until we are adults what they told us as children. I will be borrowing your granny words of wisdom and design and frame it for my 4 year old daughters’ room who no longer has a granny, hope you don’t mind if she share your grandmother.
Thank you very much Julia.
Not at all Beverly. She’d feel humbled by it, but would love that.
What piece of advice do you most frequently give others? I often advise others to try to see the different angles of a problem before making decisions abruptly. This strategy typically works better with most adults as opposed to my children, who aren’t always capable of the emotional complexity to do that yet.
What piece of advice have you received that changed you? I am very cautious by nature. This can restrict progress for me because I miss opportunities waiting for all of the “stars to align.” A supervisor fairly early on was fond of the “ask forgiveness later as opposed to permission now” school. Although that is frequently a counterproductive attitude to have, for someone with a hesitancy to act, it does give me perspective and nerve to ask myself “what is the worst that can happen if you proceed?”
thanks for your comment. You remind me of something I recently read about Amazon. They give an award for employees who act without permission. I think they believe you get what you honor.
Thanks for adding value to the conversation.
All the best,
Paula is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. She regularly shares her insights and perspective. Her bio http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/paula-kiger
Thank you all for all of your comments. Your insights are truly amazing. There is one more thing I have learned. That is to fire those who drain your spirit and energy.
When I started my consulting and speaking business in the late 80″s, I had an office in an executive suite. I befriended this sales exec who had a remote office in the same suite. Every morning we would have coffee and he would complain how bad life is and how everybody is out to get him. I couldn’t figure out why I was depressed around 10am each morning.
Then it hit me. The depression came after those coffee clutch meetings. As nice a guy as this person was, I had to fire him to protect my sanity. I no longer had coffee with him and I did better in my business.
Choose your friends, mentors and confidants very carefully. Family you for the most part cannot choose. But all others you can. Pick the one’s who will support, nuture and push you to do better.
We all can use Julia’s Grandmother as the litmus test of who qualifies to be in our inner circle.
Keep Leading and Keep Selling!
Now I have tears. Thanks Ron and everyone for your kind words honoring Grandma Dorothy. My grandparents blessed me with a sense of foundation when other parts of my life were not so certain. In the same way, I feel this extends to all the positive people in our circles of influence. I hope to be visiting her again before the end of the year and will take your hugs to her.
Thanks for sharing Ron. Consider one of the alternatives…you could have kept him on and been in a downward spiral for several decades.
And perhaps by your action, you helped him to see that he needed a different perspective on life.
It seems we often never know what plants the seed of change, however, if attuned, we probably do have lots cues that change we must.
Ron thank you for providing the seed for today’s discussion. We are always thrilled when Dan can do a book review or an interview. It brings the live aspect to the forefront and enriches everyone. Kind regards Al
I really enjoyed this posting. I appreciated the comments from Ron and all the others. I even took some of their quotes and wrote them in my journal.
So glad it was useful!
Thanks for all you do,
It’s wondeful to read through the new format of covering interviews/ engaging conversation and thereby giving important learnings.
I admire the 2 things that shaped the life of Ron Karr. Focused actions are quite vital for the desired success. As regards the frequent advice that I Iusualy give is to have a postive mind set and solution oriented attitude, while the advice that I received was to contribute and develop people to build the institute. The consistent good efforts certainly would help me to achieve the set goals within a stipulated time period.
You may please bring a good variety for writing your posts and keep the interest of LF Community Readers at the higher level.
Dear Dr. Asher,
Thanks for your comment, for supporting Leadership Freak, and encouraging me.
I think “solution orientation” is a superb piece of advice. It will most definitely take others higher.
I can see where your new role at ITS requires you to build others. I think all leaders could benefit from that advice as well.
Dr. Asher is a featured contributor on Leadership Freak. You can read his bio at: http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/dr-asher
Dear Dr. Asher,
Your points- focused actions and positive mindset are classic ones. It has power to transform any person. I also believe that positive mind set has power go concentrate on goal. And when a person concentrates, he surely wins. It is rightly said, Well begin is half done.
And there always is that choice, be positive or not. Even in the worst of times, there are things we can learn or not. Being creative to foster an environment where the SOP is continuous learning is one of the leadership challenges, but wow, the benefits….and the fun! Peoples’ eyes sparkle when you have that.
Absolutely agree Doc. We always have choice, either to be positive side or negative side. The deciding factor is often is our interest. And what matters most for us make the choice.