Taking a short break from the weekly marketing and sales tips to give you…
Something a bit sentimental.
Something I’ve never really shared publicly. Not like this at least.
It’s pretty raw, fairly uncomfortable for me to talk about.
But the response has been so overwhelmingly positive that I wanted to share it with you as well.
This week’s episode is a clip from a recent keynote I gave to a room full of salespeople.
Not only did they give me a standing ovation but the kind words they’ve said online after the fact solidified my belief that this story should be shared.
Despite the fact that it makes me feel uncomfortable to share, it’s been impactful for those that have heard it so here it is…
– Amanda Holmes
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[00:00:00] Amanda Holmes: This was the hospital room that my father stayed in when he was battling cancer. I’m not used to sharing this. I can go hardcore into the strategies and tactics, but I don’t normally share the backstory.
Thank goodness. We were a virtual company, so I would get on a call and I’d just be sobbing and nobody would know because I’m on mute.
[00:00:17] Leads were drying up. Our whole sales process – it was right in the shift to online commerce. We were in a serious place of disruption. I couldn’t do it alone.
[00:02:07] Pre-CHI, I was a singer/ songwriter. I released several records. I met my mentor, who is a spiritual saint Sarva Loka Maa Her Holiness Sri Sri Sri 1008 Guruji Poonamji. it’s quite a mouthful, but I call her Guruji. So I was studying meditation right before my father passed. I was living in Asia and she cured me of Celiac’s disease and actually rebuilt my stomach lining.
[00:02:30] It’s a really interesting story. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, it is a wild story. So I came back and I normally don’t share all of these details. So this is the part where forgive me. If I’m not used to sharing this, I can go hardcore on the strategies and tactics, but I don’t normally share the backstory. So, this was the hospital room that my father stayed in when he was battling cancer.
[00:02:56] And he stayed in the cancer unit for 382 nights and he never once spent one night alone. It was me, my mom and my brother, and we just circled all nighters cause he had leukemia. So we had night sweats and we’d be changing out the bed. And so when you say you sell the hospitals, there’s something that I know about living, practically living in one.
[00:03:19] So that was his bed and then mine was the, you know, little cot in the corner. Yeah, never show much story. But, so then after that year and a half of battling for his life in the hospital and that’s, that comes with a lot of difficulty. I don’t know if any of you have experienced that caregiving process or loving somebody while they’re gearing up or whatever that looks like.
[00:03:45] My father was determined and he won every battle he ever fought except for the one to cancer. So we were very close. I was born on his birthday, which is coming up February 13th. It was kismet. Yes, very special relationships. So he passed on August 12th, 2012 and it was utterly devastating. If any of you have, you know, I’m sorry for your loss if you have lost somebody that is in your every day, every waking moment, it’s overwhelming to say the least. And in all that time that I spent with my father in the hospital, never, never once, not once did we sit down and say, “Hey, you know, Amanda, if you, if you take over my business, if I, if I don’t make this, this is what I want you to know.”
[00:04:38] We never had that discussion. We never talked about what his businesses were. I didn’t know where half of them were. So after he passed and then I inherited a couple hundred staff, all double my age. That’s a picture from one of our events with just my executive team and some of the sales superstars.
[00:04:58] I was given an honorary chairman of the board role because they’re like, we don’t know what to do with this girl. I was the same age as Steve when you started your business. So it was 24. And, yeah, it, it is so trying to mourn thank goodness we were a virtual company, so I would get on a call and I’d just be sobbing and nobody would know cause I’m on mute.
[00:05:22] Or if they did see me on the call sheet, they go, “Amanda, are you here?” “Hi.” “You want to say anything?” “Uh, no”. Not a lot came from me and the emotions were just crazy. I had nightmares every night of my father’s mortality in the hospital. And so I drive the streets in my car at night. Cause I, when I’d go to sleep, it would be too terrible to see his face.
[00:05:51] So I would sleep in my car, even though I had a place to sleep, but in my car, I knew that my legs would fall asleep after an hour and a half. And it was just enough where I would wake up and then it wouldn’t be able to have the nightmares. So, I know what it’s like to have a hard time. And in the business, it wasn’t like he just kind of left something that was all fine and dandy.
[00:06:13] We were in a serious place of disruption, kind of like what we’re experiencing today. All of the businesses were ran by a lead system that was generated through the radio and radio was dying on the vine. So leads were drying. Our whole sales process – it was right in the shift to online commerce and we had never processed one payment online.
[00:06:41] So I was hiring and firing C-suites like crazy, trying to find CMO, CTO, CFO, anybody that could fill the void of my father, which was very difficult. But I did have my mentor Guruji. She kept telling me you should step in as CEO. And I looked at her and go, “Are you crazy? No, no way would I ever do that. No. No.” So for two years, she’s like, “Amanda”, I really think you should step in. I’m like, no, no. And then, one of my staff said, “Hey, I’m going to go climb Kilimanjaro.” Does anybody familiar with Kilimanjaro? Yeah. Largest freestanding mountain in the world. It’s 19,340 feet up in the air. And he said, “Yeah, I’m going to go climb it. Would you like to go climb it with me?” And I thought that sounds like a great idea. That’s a great 25th birthday. Yeah, sure. He’s like really? You’re going to come and get, well, you didn’t invite me didn’t you? Was that not? Okay. Because normally the people would be like that’s in three days and then they would say no, but I’m always in for challenge.
[00:07:46] I really love a challenge. So I was like, yes, climb Kilimanjaro. Okay. So I fly to Africa, which is a great story, but I won’t share it here. The first day that I step onto the mountain to get ready to climb, it takes five days up and two down. Altitude sickness actually affects those that have a hard time breathing.
[00:08:07] So people that smoke actually have an easier time with altitude because they’re used to constricted breath and they’ve told me, at least maybe it was to make me feel better, but they told me. “Olympic athletes even have a hard time summiting because they’re used to breath.” So I’m a trained singer, right?
[00:08:27] Breathing is a huge part. I had just certified in yoga teacher training. So breath was everything to me. So I get out there and I’m like, like I had the roughest time and they always put the slowest person at the front to set the pace. So I was, it was between me and a 65-year-old woman setting the pace this whole way.
[00:08:49] It was painful. So the last day they really thought they’d left me behind with two, two African men, one by the name of Donut. So I had Donut on my left arm and I had another man on the right, because if I fell, I would fall down the mountain. My eyes were rolling to the back of my head. Like, a gentleman died the day that I summitted.
[00:09:09] It was kind of crazy. So I finally made it to the top and that’s me doing a handstand. I was so thrilled. I couldn’t believe that I had actually made it, made it. And during this track, I realized two things. One, I realized that I couldn’t do it alone. I’d made it there, but I needed Donut and the other guy to help me get there.
[00:09:34] And I also realized that every mountain climbed starts with just one step at a time. And being CEO felt like the insurmountable thing but I had staff and I had people that could rally width. Right. And it just took one step. So I came back, I fired the CEO. I stepped in as CEO.
And in the first week, the first thing I got was a lawsuit, which I was like, oh, okay. That’s okay. We can manage this. The next day, my staff came to me and said, “Hey, the merchant servicer has shut down your account. So you can’t pay your hundreds of staff.” I’m like, “Oh, what’s a merchant services?” No idea. This following day, they came to me and they go, “Amanda, we’ve just spent half a million dollars on Salesforce. And we want, we’re thinking that maybe we shouldn’t go into that CRM system. Maybe we should just stay in our current one. What do you think?” I’m like “Yeah. What’s the CRM system?” Terrifying. Right. Okay. Stepping in a CEO, bigger than my britches. I swear. Okay. So after two years, I finally stepped in as CEO. I changed our marketing and sales systems.
[00:10:48] So one of the first things I did was I took our process that we had been doing in-person and I turned it online and I started running webinars, educational webinars. And because we have a big database, I’d get about 400 business owners on a call. And here I am, spunky 26-year-old. I’m going to teach all of these 50 to 60 year old men that run successful businesses how to double their sales.
[00:11:11] And it was crazy. I still look back and go, I can’t believe I did that, but it did increase marketing that year by 1176%. It improved our sales conversions by 1100%. Because we were selling one to many now and we doubled our coaching clients two years in a row from that strategy. So that was the first out of the gate.
[00:11:32] And obviously over the years, I’ve increased and doubled and all of that wonderfulness, but that was just from Kilimanjaro to two years later. I brought in some of our biggest clients and our first Fortune 500 client after my father passed, was Panasonic. Stepped into that. That was a bunch of fun. It was at a time when the millennial generation was believed to be an utter failure.
[00:11:57] Like they were just like millennials. I don’t think they’re going to do amount to anything in life. So we’d been written off as a generation and Inc wrote an article about how I had stepped in as CEO. They’re like, look! one did something. So it went soft viral that day. It was the second most shared article over, you know, I think there was Elon Musk that day and Jeff Bezos and all of these headlines, but I made a headline because millennial did something ridiculous, but what to do.
[00:12:28] So some of the ingredients that I look back to see what was successful. I followed the system that my father created. So he never directly let’s say, sit me down and say, here is, let me teach you my methodology. But, so I had to go into our online portal and I had to watch his videos just like everyone else.
[00:12:48] And I had never read his book. So I had to sit down and I started reading the book. And taking that information over and over and over and over again for six months straight. I watched those videos just over and over and over again. Also for some of you that know what a core story is, I read our core story over and over and over again because repetition is the mother of all skill.
[00:13:10] So, right before I was about to release the manuscript to the publisher for this new edition, I was so, because I didn’t have my father to ask questions about, or people would be like, “Oh yeah, I knew your father really well.” And then I’d go and look through his emails and find out that he was not a good relationship with my father.
[00:13:31] So the only way I really knew was going through his old emails. So I was reading through his emails and at four in the morning before I had to give the manuscript, I found this email where my father said, “I have generated more wealth in the last six months than the prior eight years combined. And it’s because of this one thing that I want to teach you.” And I was like, “Gold. I found it”
So I’ve actually put that into the 13th chapter, which is how to live a rich and full life because of all of the chapters. I think that one is the one that at the end of your days makes the difference between wealth and money in a bank account.
But that key to true success and for those of use that, that may know a bit about farming, maybe you’ll appreciate this as an analogy. So I had also gone to my guru and I asked her, you know, what, what should I teach people in this book? What can I really give them that would really make a difference to their world?
And she gave me the example of a tree. So imagine that you have an apple tree and you could take an axe and you can hack it, the tree in anger and greed and an annoyance that gimme the apple. I want the apple. Right. And you pluck the apple and you get to eat that. But there’s something, the sweetness is stolen from the apple when you did it in so much anger and aggression and pressure versus if you go up to a tree and you look at its beauty and you go, this is magnificent. Thank you so much tree. I’d like to have an apple. And then you put that apple and the sweetness of that apple is so lovely because you’re in this place of gratitude and humbleness.
So all of the strategies and tactics that my father taught through this whole book, the one that just needed a minor shift that he realized in this letter was the intention that when he came from a place of pressure and anger, that it stole the sweetness from the deal. And when he decided to come from a place of gratitude and humbleness, that wealth expanded exponentially. So the one thing that I want to add to this whole journey of, you know, how did I get myself out of a really crazy situation was this intention of how do I come from the best place of service? And if I can serve my clientele, I know that that will create a ripple effect and it will give me the best abundance possible because I’m in this place of feeling that I’m doing what’s best, which is what we all inherently want to feel at the end of the day.
[00:16:06] So I use this whole idea of intention and service to increase sales conversions. So I came in and I saw my guru and I said, you know, I’m really not converting on these webinars. And, you know, they were just not closing. And she said close so she’s from India. Not really in the sales and marketing sphere.
[00:16:25] Right. She’s like close, what does close me? And I’m like, oh, you know, like when a deal, like you close up, you know, like a vice. And, she said, why would you ever put pressure on something like that when you want to put a seed in the ground and watch it bloom, how wonderful would that be? If you put a seed in, and then you know, that that seed create an orchard when you’d like to create orchards.
[00:16:46] And I went. Yeah, I’ll never going to say close again. And that’s when we increased our sales conversions by 1100%, it was the change in my intention. I also used it. I was really coming from this place of how can I better serve our clients? How can I better serve our clients? And the answer came to me, double prices because people aren’t appreciating what they’re getting and when they pay more, they appreciate the value.
[00:17:14] So I doubled our prices that also helped us. So what you would think is counterintuitive, it’s that intention that will help everything. And I’m about to teach you, you guys ready for now the sales strategies.
Okay. Thank you. Thank you. And there will be a winner that we’ll get, if that’s okay. Can we give a great, okay. Upon Rachel’s request, I have put this up. So how many of you think this isn’t the question for the answer? We’re going to do a stadium pitch challenge shortly, but how many of you think, or how many companies make it above a million in annual sales? What would you guess?
[00:18:02] Yeah, percentage 65, 10, 4, 40 anybody else? Yeah. 8, 12, 25, 15. It is 5%. So 95% of companies will never make it to a million in annual sales. Of that, 0.08% will ever reach 5 million. Of that, 1.5% will ever reach 10 million and 0.004% will ever reach a hundred million. Oh yeah. It’s supposed to say a hundred million and beyond.
[00:18:37] Can we give a congratulations for this team? For AvKARE and R&S. Amazing.
[00:18:48] Amanda Holmes: I think I’m done. Oh, with one minute.
[00:18:56] Oh my God. I can take a picture. Wait. Stay standing. That was awesome. Thank you.