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-Napoleon Hill, who's the success author and business mentor who absolutely changed my life-- I keep his book up here because when I first encountered his writings, it just absolutely blew my mind some of the stuff I could find here. But his "Laws of Success" books have absolutely just worked wonders in my life.
-So he basically rode shotgun with the world's wealthiest man. And one of the things he wrote-- which just blew my mind, it just jumped off the pages-- is he says, "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it a seed of an equal or greater benefit." So, every adversity, every heartache, every failure, "carries with it a seed of an equal or greater benefit."
What does that mean, that behind every failure, there's a seed of an equal or greater benefit? I mean, how have you seen that play out in your life?
-I don't think you really know who you are and what your capabilities are, what your strengths are, and even your weaknesses, until you find yourself in an adverse set of circumstances. And the ability to move out of those circumstances and to look back and see that I didn't crater, I didn't give in. I stood up for what was right. I moved on. I accomplished what I needed. And you kind of got that stored into your backpack, as it were.
Because you're going to find another one. But once you get to that other circumstance that's negative that looks like it's going to fail you, then all of a sudden, you've got this backpack you can look in and say, wait a minute, I remember two years ago. Look what I came through. I can do this now.
-I've never seen that more true, it seems like, than recently. I've seen it tested so many times. But one of the guys who works here on our team, his father had passed away suddenly.
And the day after he found out-- I think it was the day after he found out. Maybe it was the day he found out-- he calls me to find out how my dad is doing. And my dad is suffering from cancer. But he thought outside of himself enough. He's that kind of person. And to me, I say I'm a big fan of that.
Now, I don't wish anybody to have adversity. I don't want to have my father deal with cancer. I don't want them to lose their dad. That's not what I'm saying here. What I'm saying is when he went through that, instead of being bitter and negative, he called me. And I'm like, that's one of the best humans I've ever met. So my opinion of him has always been high. But now I'm just like, pfft, are you kidding me?
And it's those kind of, I think, situations that we get tested and when people look at us. And I know that's when people look at you. And I think that's powerful for us to just marinate on that.
Now, I hate to bring it up. I know it's not a fun place to go back to. But your daughter was-- what was your daughter's name?
-Anne Catherine. And she's basically seven years old--
- --healthy, high energy--
-Yep. And beautiful.
-Yep, all the above.
-And then one day, she got sick.
-One day she got sick. And 21 days later, she died.
-And how do you recover from that? How is success still a choice when you lose your daughter suddenly? Not success financially. I'm talking about moving on and having success. How is that still possible?
-It changes you. It definitely changes you. And it can also hammer you into one place. Because I've seen it happen to other people. But Barbara and I were very fortunate. It certainly rocked our world. There's no doubt about that.
But at the same time, we were able to build our lives again. And using the memory of our daughter and how much she meant to us to help reconstruct the broken pieces, to kind of plaster them back together.
-Were there other people who watched how you handled that situation who commented?
-That maybe you impacted them through how you handled that situation?
-It's been 15, 17, almost 20 years ago since Annie passed away. And I still get people who say, I don't know how you and Barbara did it, how you came through it.
-You're going to get one more here. We have the five kids. And right now our oldest is nine. When you're watching this, they might be 39. I don't know. But when my daughter was about seven, it occurred to me, the loss of your daughter. That situation became real. I'm like, oh my gosh.
And when she had her birthday party, I kept crying all the time. My wife's like, what's going on? And I just kept thinking about how blessed we were to have her. And when my son was born blind, I remember specifically of thinking about you in that situation. And that's what carried me through that.
-Well, see, that's the whole great joy of a shared humanity. We all bring something to the table. It's like this great feast of humanity that I can bring my survival that adds to your thriving, as it were. You can bring your survival that adds to someone else's. And I think this is what we give each other. This is what we do. This is what makes this life really worth living. Because we are conscious of the needs of others.
-If I'm in the military right now, if I'm in a boat and I'm overseas, if I'm serving my duty, if I'm active duty, if I'm maybe reservist, if I'm in the military and I feel like I can't really start to have success yet because I got to serve my time of I've got to finish my duty. Or maybe I can't start my own business because I need to finish my-- you made the jump from military to success in entrepreneurship.
How is success still a choice if I'm maybe a civil servant? Maybe I work for the government in some capacity or I'm in the military. How is success still a choice if I'm in the constructs of civic duty, of a civil servant there. How can I still achieve success if I'm on a military base? Or I'm kind of--
-Well, it goes back to what you sort of alluded to. Because success can mean different things to different people. And if we are talking in terms of being gainfully employed as a soldier, but at the same time you realize that that will eventually end. What will be the next step of my life?
The military is not necessarily known as a place of self-starters simply because the mission has been clearly defined by others. And you're told what to do, and you're expected to carry it out. But to get into the world of work, being an entrepreneur or an incredible employee, being a self-starter is very important. And all of that, in my opinion, requires entrepreneurial thinking. And that process can start, really, wherever you are. It can really start where you are.
-So I can choose to start laying the framework or the foundation for success even if I'm in a job right now where I can't really--
-Most definitely. Most definitely. I have no doubt about that.
-Now rumor has it that you somehow transitioned from the military to the White House. Where you in the White House in some capacity?
CLIFTON TAULBERT: No. What happened-- when I was in the military my last two years, I worked at the 89th presidential wing, which was the base that handled all of the flights for the president and the incoming foreign dignitaries. It's a top-secret position, which just floored me that I had the opportunity to have such a position, working that closely aligned with the President, having to go to the Pentagon, having to work at embassies, and things like that. I mean, that was such a far cry from picking cotton in Glen Allen, Mississippi.
-So you probably had to pinch yourself when you're working with the Pentagon and this kind of top-secret service level. I mean, that had to be exciting.
-Very exciting. And again, going back to what we said earlier, I dreamed of that when I was picking cotton in the Mississippi delta. I just didn't know how it would look. That's why I know that if I have a young man or young lady who's in the military right now serving our country, and yet they want to do something different, that they can start dreaming of that different right now.
-Now here's the thing. You actually then transitioned into banking. What was your first job at the bank?
-My first job in the bank-- really you may not know this story. But that was an era in America in the '60s called the Civil Rights Era where there was great demonstration throughout our country. And I had moved to St. Louis by that time. And one of the jobs that I eventually ended up with was at a place called Jefferson Bank and Trust on Washington Avenue.
-Is it still around?
-It's still there.
-Jefferson Bank and Trust.
-In Washington Avenue in St. Louis, Missouri. Hiring me caused them to move another guy inside the bank who looked like me. Because at that time, there were no African Americans working inside the bank. And that was my very first banking job was a bank messenger. And that's the a that I hated almost as much as I hated picking cotton.
But I had determined that I'm going to make this the best thing. So I'm out there in the cold, standing in the door with a uniform. And I hear the words that there's a school you can go to for banking. So I don't have anything but nerves.
So I go in one day and said, I want to go to that school. Well, they're shocked because there are no black students at that school. But I said, I want to go to that school. And I eventually went to that school and was an A student at that school.
-So I want to make sure this-- I want to make sure that we're distilling this. Because it's happened for you. You're at a job. You're an employee. You're working there. And then you see an opportunity, and you pounce on it.
CLIFTON TAULBERT: I pounced.
-Now in my life, I was working at Target. A guy comes in. I pounced--
-There it is-- pounce.
- --on the opportunity, found myself working as a paid intern for an accounting firm where the prerequisite you had to have was you had to be studying accounting. And I was not studying accounting, but yet I landed this internship. But seeing those opportunities and pouncing on it, whether you're an employee, whether you're in the military, whether you're growing up poor, whether you're poor now, whether you're poor adult, poor kid, whether you're living on a farm, on a cotton field-- success is a choice no matter where you are.
-And it goes back to the mindset, the growth mindset. That mindset really positions you to see differently, to hear differently, and to expect more.
-So how did you first-- because a lot of people, if you're watching this-- I know a lot of people watching this might not know this. You were the man who helped-- you're one of the guys who helped take the StairMaster, which was a product that really was selling, and helped to market that.
You got a commission agreement to market that all over the country, ultimately. Had three years-- you had three years of rejections before you ultimately had some success. And you sold-- you guys sold millions of StairMasters.
-Well, you know, there were tons of StairMasters. So there's no doubt about that. And, uh, again it goes back to the opportunity. It goes back to the mindset that allows you to even hear the opportunity.
-How did you first hear about the StairMaster?
-I was at another meeting. It had nothing to do with StairMaster. I mean, it had all to do with StairMaster but nothing to with me.
-So, like a lunch meeting? Was it-- what kind of meeting?
-It was a business meeting. And people were just talking. And I was sitting at one end of the table. I clearly remember it.
And they were talking about this company that was located in Tulsa, Oklahoma-- North Tulsa, where I was living at the time. And still live here. And they said that this company was not doing well and didn't know if it was going to make it or not.
And I heard aerobic exercise. I heard getting your heart rate up. I said, these sound like good things. This company shouldn't fail. So I found a way to get out there to meet them and start talking to them.
-You thought these are good things. This company should not fail. Oh, I should start selling.
-I said, I want to be part of this.
-You heard there's a school for banking. I should be--I should go there.
-You heard St. Louis. I'll go there. Uh, military? I'll do that. You just do it! You just do.
You decide, right? And then you're just, bam! You're hopping in.
-It is that since of expectancy. It's that going back again, wanting to be successful, haven't really caught that, but not quite knowing how it would look.
But because I was so focused on being successful, I think I created this attention to opportunity. I really listened for opportunity. I looked for opportunity.
-So did you pick up the phone and just go [IMITATES BUTTONS BEEPING] and call them? Hey, StairMaster guys, I hear you're struggling. I would like to sell your product. Pay me, please.
I mean, how did you-- what did you say? How did you make that connection?
-You know, I did some research, obviously, to find out about. Read the newspaper articles. There wasn't much to read about it at the time.
But they were at a point that any good news was good news. And I came in. I said, "I can sell this to the federal government all over the country." That's what I said.
-You said that?
-I said that.
-Had you ever sold something to the federal government before?
-Not one day in my life.
-OK. But you felt like you could do it?
-I felt like I could.
-And you told him you could.
-I told them that I could.
-OK. So then you did-- you said I'm going to sell it. And then they say to you-- who's they? You're talking to the head of the company?
-Yeah, I'm talking to the three guys that owned the company.
-You cold called them. You pick up the phone and you called them?
-I went out there to see them. I did not call them. I went out there.
-You went on--oh, you went out there. So you go out there. And what are the terms of this agreement, my friend? What were the terms that you negotiated? Like, do you get paid every time they sold one? Was in a com--
-I got-- I got paid on a monthly basis.
-Only. Only commission.
-And for three years-- 36 months or longer, somewhere in that range-- you worked without a single check.
-Right. They didn't give me any money.
-Because you handn't sold--
-They didn't have the money!
-And you spent-- I mean, I'm just making up a number. But you probably spent 20-30 hours a week.
-Well, I had another job.
-Another job. So you're working 40 hours a week at this job?
-And then 40 hours a week at the other job.
-80 hours a week. You're working 80 hours a week for three years with no extra pay for this extra time.
-No extra pay for the extra time.
-We have a girl on our camera crew, which-- I don't know if we have her release but we don't care. This is Arielle.
She does a lot of neat things with marketing for us. And I think this week we had two big successes, is that right? We had two big successes this week.
And I don't know the number of hours-- maybe you could just hold up your fingers-- how many hours you had spent before you had any success. Like, 10, 10, 10? I--well, yeah, I was saying.
So she's spent hours and hours and hours and hours and hours just building relationships. Nothing, nothing, nothing and boom! Two this week. I couldn't be more proud of her. It's unbelievable.
But it seems like that's how success works.
-Yeah. It is not something that just comes and knock on your door. You go out walking. You go out looking with your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind to embrace the opportunity. And you'll find it may not happen the first day or the second day, but you have to be persistent.
-One of my favorite success authors is a guy named Og Mandino. Old school, back when you would name your kid Og. But with him, his-- Og Mandino, his philosophy was that--
If this is like a big oak tree here, his philosophy is that every day you swing. And then you swing and you swing and you swing. And you keep doing it until, eventually, the tree wears down and falls down because you've chopped the tree down.
And he says that most people take a blade and they swing and they go, ugh, well the tree didn't fall down. Well I'll go to another tree. Swing. To another tree. Swing. In their whole life, they never knock anything down.
And so he explains that, one, make sure you're trying to, basically, chop down a tree that worth chopping down. Make sure it's a big one. If you're going to invest some time, don't be, you know, attacking, you know, the little small baby trees all day.
But also understand you have to hit it. And I'm not an ax man. I'm very non-mechanically inclined, but I have done some physical labor and construction when I was starting the business. But I'm-- have you ever seen these loggers?
[SLOW MOTION YELLING]
These big trees, back before the power tools, it took a long time. And it seems like anything-- anytime it's a big tree, it takes a long time.
-Yeah, and that-- you know, when you think about success, most people tend to celebrate the end of the journey. And-- but I think we have to also understand the journey itself so that we can know what would be expected of us. And we can learn what I-- what's inside the entrepreneur, and thinking so that we can be better prepared to do what we need to do.
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