Written By: Scott Koepf, Vice President of Strategic Development – Cruise Planners
Astonishing! – Simply Sales with Scott- After attending a performance of Little Women, the Musical, I realized I am not intellectual enough to actually provide analysis on such a classic work of literature by Louisa May Alcott but now that it is a musical, I can relate! I was especially intrigued and inspired by the lead character, Jo March. While the actress playing the role was simply breathtaking in her portrayal and vocal ability (okay, it was my daughter Charlene), it is the character herself that is such a magnificent example of what is required for success. The play, and obviously the book, takes Jo through each of the stages required to reach our potential and beyond:
Discover your Passion and your Gift
Create a Future Vision that is Extraordinary yet Realistic
Work, Practice and Focus on the Actions/Skills Necessary
Believe in Yourself and be Persistent
Let Adversity Build your Courage and Resolve
About Simply Sales with Scott -Astonishing!
When she was young Jo discovers she loves writing and with her sisters as her inspiration, she crafts fantasy tales that they act out in the attic and beyond. She indeed does have a gift and she loves it so much that it becomes her consuming desire. For many travel advisors it is travel that we are passionate about but that passion is only the beginning. Through the story we see that Jo’s passion is writing however we learn her success only really occurred when she took her passion and added one more thing – her story. Little Women is semi-autobiographical, and it is the primary reason why the author is famous today. Her earlier writings were what she thought the public would want and while she found some limited success with those stories, it was only when she told her own story that her potential was released. It is the same for travel advisors. You can make a living selling travel but you will make a life when you do what only you are gifted to do. We call it niche or specialization in the business world but it simply comes down to taking your passion and integrating it with your unique giftedness to create your story!
Jo pulls her sisters in close and simply says “I have decided I will become a world famous author and make barrels of money so we can all have whatever we want!” While it seems almost cute and childish, it is really what is missing for so many people. Not only is there a fear to dream big but to say it out loud so you can be held accountable is terrifying. The power of goal setting and being held accountable to those goals is proven and well established so we just need that same approach on a grander scale. What is your one big life goal? Say it loud and proud and if it is not giggled at by a number of people then it is probably not big or unique enough! How about:
“I will be the most sought after ‘Green’ travel advisor on the east coast!” “I will be the top expert for worldwide river rafting adventures!” “I will be the leading expert in America for travel to Swaziland!”
Simply Sales with Scott -Astonishing!
Once again, make your vision statement huge but make it realistic and like Jo, make sure it is your story and not what you think people want to hear. To say “I will be a really good travel advisor” or “I will be a luxury expert” or “I want to sell lots of cruises” is not unique enough and it lacks personalization. It took Jo many years to realize this, so learn from her journey that your story is the key.
Once the vision is set then the work begins and although we all want shortcuts, true success will come through hard work and practice. Jo wrote story after story after story – always improving her craft. She also needed to do her day to day chores but her focus on writing was unwavering. In travel retailing you might need to spend a few years selling places, products and to people that are not perfectly aligned with your vision to be able to eat. However, like Jo, you need to continue to drive toward your ultimate vision so that eventually one hundred percent of your time and efforts are on your goal.
Make no mistake that the path to success is not easy but you have to believe in your vision and be relentless in its pursuit. Jo was turned down multiple times by publishers before finally winning one over to start her on her ‘paid career’. Overcoming rejection is just part of any journey so be ready for it. Another great lesson to be learned from Jo is that after so many rejection slips it wasn’t until she could personally explain and demonstrate the book that she got published. In other words no matter what the vision is or what industry it is in, two things are paramount. First, you are the vision and no email, letter or other newfangled social media will ever replace the power of you telling your story in person so strive to do so. And second, you have to know how to sell. To be viable, your vision has to be not only appealing to others but they have to be willing to invest in it. So while you are on your journey, take lots of time to learn the art of selling!
Finally, Jo encounters unexpected and devastating adversity. After experiencing the first adversity she sings a magnificent song titled simply ‘Astonishing!’ She decides, as we all must, that she will be just that – Astonishing. It is such a powerful word and you do not hear it much but it really is the result you need to desire. Your niche or specialization or more specifically ‘your story’ needs to be so unique and exciting that the reaction from each of your clients is way beyond the norm. The lyrics of the song are in the simplest form, the description of what you need to reach your full potential:
There’s a life
That I am meant to lead
A life like nothing I have known
I can feel it
And it’s far from here
I’ve got to find it on my own
Even now I feel it’s heat upon my skin.
A life of passion that pulls me from within,
A life that I am making to begin.
There must be somewhere I can be
I’ll find my way
I’ll find it far away
I’ll find it in unexpected and unknown
I’ll find my life in my own way
Here I go
And there’s no turning back
My great adventure has begun
I may be small
But I’ve got giant plans
To shine as greatly as the sun
I will blaze until I find my time and place
I will be fearless,
Surrendering modesty and grace
I will not disapear without a trace
I’ll shout and start a riot
Be anything but quiet
I’ll be Astonishing
I hate to give away a plot line in a show so if you are one of the few who did not have to read Little Women in school and plan to, then please stop here. For the rest of you, you know that Jo’s biggest fan and supporter, her sister Beth, dies. While their last scene together had me in tears it was how Jo overcame that tragedy that was so powerful. While she grieved for a long time it was through her other supporters (her Mom and other sisters) she found the strength to be even more persistent and focused on the vision that Beth had believed in. The song that Jo sings when she is ready to pursue her vision again is so aptly titled ‘The Fire within Me’. She discovers her motivation again and with the final word sung in that song, she also knows that her story is, as yours also can be …