Archives For Character

IMG_3007I’m often asked what books to read – but rarely asked how to read them…

Have you ever considered, how to read a book?

Following my Keynote at the BASF Sales meeting in Frankfurt Germany this week, I did an interactive session on Character; the importance of building character, and how to go about building your own character. I often ask sales groups, “Are you reading sales and marketing books?” Rarely do I find a group with more than 2 or 3 people actively reading. It’s a lost discipline.  Reading is central to building character.

Mark Twain once said, “The people you spend time with and the books you read determine who you will be five years from now.” That includes both character and skills.

Andrew Carnegie – From Failure to Success

In preparation for my session I was reading about Andrew Carnegie. At an early age he and his family emigrated to the US from Scotland. he was penniless.  By age 30 he had his own business in the steel industry, and by age 60 he was one of the wealthiest people in America. He donated millions to the New York Library, and founded what is now, JP Morgan.  William Thayer, in a book on character writes, “He had few school privileges, for at the early age of 14 he was compelled to quit school forever to earn his daily bread.” How did he become so wealthy? Thayer goes on, “He could read more or less every day…he was a thinker…he was never satisfied without knowing the reason of things.”

How to Read

Later in the book he talks about how to read.  Of course, most of us in business can read. Hopefully you can read this…but that’s not what he’s talking about.  In his section on reading he states, “Get a habit, a passion for reading; not flying from book to book, with the squeamish caprice of a literary epicure, but read systematically, closely, thoughtfully, analyzing every subject as you go along, and laying it up carefully and safely in your memory. It is only by this mode that your information will be at the same time extensive, accurate, and useful.”

How I Read

I started to apply these principles in college. Up until then, books sat unread on my shelf. And those  I did read, I didn’t retain. You would know that from some of my high school english lit. grades.  Today I read every day. I read on the plane, before going to sleep, and often in the morning as well. I also listen to audio books while exercising.

Highlighter in hand, I find that marking my books up helps me pick out the important stuff. I also create a cheat sheet of page numbers and important facts in the books I really care about (I make these note on one of the blank pages at the front of the book). If a book is not helpful, I quickly abandon it. I either sell it or toss it to create more landfill.  The ones that make the cut are on my shelf for future reference.

Video is great – but in many ways I think it has made us lazy. I enjoy watching a great movie. But looking back, it’s the books I’ve not only ready, but studied that have made significant impact on my life and my business.

© 2015, David Stelzl

P.S. Speaking of books, have you read the updated House & The Cloud?  Even if you have the old version, you’ll want to read this one. It’s a complete rewrite, designed to address today’s security market with cloud, BYOD, and the digital, connected generation of workers taking over business right now.

Get it on Amazon.…  << Click to visit Amazon.Com


The Greedy Salesperson

September 1, 2011 — 4 Comments

In my early day’s of sales management one of my colleagues made the statement, “Greed is good.”  The idea being, we want the sales team to want money, which in turn will drive them toward greater profits.  It sounds right when you hear it in passing…I’m convinced it’s dead wrong.

The Good to Great Paradigm

Collins, in his book Good to Great states it this way, “All companies have a culture, some companies have discipline, but few companies have a culture of discipline.  When you have disciplined people, you don’t need hierarchy.  When you have disciplined thought, you don’t need bureaucracy.   When you have disciplined action, you don’t need excessive controls.  When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great performance.”  And I would add, “When you have disciplined sales leadership, you don’t need greed – in fact it’s destructive to the trusted adviser mindset.”

Money and Character

Sales performance is largely a character issue.  The fear of failure, the fear of man, lack of focus, lack of discipline – lack of endurance.  These all lead to a lack of sales.  Money does not change character.  It has been show that a pay increase sparks excitement, but only for a short period of time.  Once in place, poor character returns, and the same old habits inhibit success.  Over the long haul, more pay will only direct the paid performer to focus in one area or another, not actually improve their performance.

Money and Aptitude

Money may cause someone to try harder for a moment, but skills are not acquired by greater pay, nor  does one suddenly become confident with the skills they have.  Seeking out new skills and practice that makes perfect, takes us right back to character.  People with desire to grow and learn, are people of character.

Greed, a mindset that leads to poverty

Brian Salcido, Albert Gonzales, and others who have taken the shortcut to success have done so out of greed, not character.  Their skills have been acknowledged for what they are; high-tech hackers with bad character and discernment.  Greed leads people to prey on other’s weaknesses rather than working to demonstrate value.  Greed causes some to recruit others, drawing them into deceptive schemes to make a buck. Greed destroys trust, ruins client relations, breeds customer dissatisfaction, and avoids accountability, leadership, and teamwork.  In the end, the greedy one is found out, and while perhaps hired for their demonstration of skills, is now fired for reasons of bad character.

© 2011, David Stelzl

The Anger Trap

November 21, 2008 — Leave a comment

First – don’t forget there is a new post at on sales strategy!

This week I have been hosting a seminar on 7 Basic Principles of Success.   We have over 30 attendees meeting over 6 days; every night and all day Friday and Saturday.   I appreciate the investment these men and woman have made in self improvement and life balance, but selfishly I have to say, I learn more than anyone when I conduct these programs.  Last night I was reminded how important it is to consider factors more important than skills in achieving success. 

Anger and irritations are one of the most destructive forces in your business.  Clients may mistreat you, lie to you, or take advantage of you in this dismal economy.  Meanwhile you may face all kinds of political and unjust decisions made within your company.  If you experience none of these, count yourself blessed.  The problem is resulting anger doesn’t affect those you are angry with; instead it destroys you.  It takes your focus away from the work you are doing, tempts you to write self incriminating emails which will be retained and used against you at a later date, it affects your health, and inhibits your ability to think clearly. 

Anger is a trap. Make it your personal habit to consciously forgive those who offend you, recognizing that in the long run you will outperform those who behave unjustly.  The one who is free to think, learn, and explore without the weights of irritation and anger will ultimately win.