Maybe the worst part is the loneliness. Does this sound familiar: You’re sick of the status quo. You decide to make changes at your small shop. You want your life to have meaning, to feel that what you’re doing is important. So you redefine your company. Crank up the red carpet customer service. Your selling price allows for a real, professional salary for you, career benefits for your staff, extras to make the risk and headache worthwhile.

If everyone in our industry would stand tall we would all be better off, right? So you start to preach the gospel of good business. At association meetings, you’re sharing your philosophies of business to anyone who will listen.

“We deserve to make a living doing what we do. We gotta stick together! Act like professionals and charge accordingly. No more low ball pricing! No more butt crack plumber jokes! We can all move up the ladder together!”

Of course, the chorus chants, “Damn straight! That’s what I’ve been saying!” and an intoxicating moment of solidarity compels you to buy a round of drinks. Better days are coming, you promise yourself, as the glasses clink.

Then, on Monday morning, you walk up to the supply house counter and hear the last line of a conversation, “… rip off artist … giving the rest of us a bad name.” You don’t think much of it until you lose a water heater sale, by more than $200, to one of your competitors. This is the same fellow who was whining about how hard it is to make a buck with all those other guys and their cutthroat pricing.

Face it, my friend. If you plan to make a success of yourself and your business, you will probably stand alone in your marketplace. Because your success will annoy all the other folks who have given up! They have gotten comfortable with the idea that “it can’t be done here, not in our town.” So when you start making changes, well, one of two things could happen with your competitors:

  • They realize that they have been wrong.
  • They decide that you are wrong.

The first option involves fundamental change, hard work and criticism. The second involves no work at all … just more of the same, peppered with sarcastic snips at you, while waiting for parts at the supply house.

You see, as nice as it would be for the whole industry to start flying straight, it’s not going to happen. Chances are you will stand alone if you choose to act like — and charge like — a professional. And some days the loneliness can make you want to pack it in. Would it help to have a pep talk from someone who has been through tough times and achieved incredible success? Let me introduce you to some of my friends … Jim Rohn, Mark Victor Hansen, Jack Canfield and Steven Covey. I’ve grown close to these folks and many others through audio tapes. I am addicted to self-help tapes. The speakers’ voices have rescued me when I have been sinking in doubt and discouragement. When I hop in my car I always make sure I have a stash of tape programs. On quiet days in the office, I listen to tapes while I work. I have learned more through self-help programs than I ever learned via formal education.

Here are a few of my favorite counselors, teachers and friends. (I’ve listed the number for phone orders for each one. Also, check out the Amazon Web site at It’s a virtual bookstore on the Internet. Search by author and you can order and ship with one click once you set up your account.)

Jim Rohn

My good friend Paul Swan sent me Challenge to Succeed in the '90s, one of Jim Rohn’s seminars on tape. Wow! What a good story Jim tells of his own road to success! Jim was broke and embarrassed by age 27. Married with kids and only pennies in his pockets, he was introduced to a successful businessman who became his mentor. This fellow asked Jim why he was not yet successful. When Jim started to blame his dead-end job and the economy for his woes, his mentor stopped him short. “Mr. Rohn,” he said, “the problem is you.” Jim paid attention to the meat-and-potatoes suggestions for success and shares them in his programs. Here’s a sample of Jim Rohn’s wisdom:

“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” “The best motivation is self-motivation. The guy says, ‘I wish someone would come by and turn me on.’ What if they don’t show up? You’ve got to have a better plan for your life.”

“Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems; wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenges; wish for more wisdom.”

I love this guy! I had the incredible opportunity to hear him speak live at the Ohio PHCC convention in 1997. It was Paul Swan’s goal to meet Jim Rohn, and he arranged to have him speak at the convention. A testimony to the power of goals and planning.

To order Jim Rohn’s tapes call 800/929-0434.

Mark Victor Hansen

Have you heard any of the Chicken Soup for the Soul stories on tape? Mark Victor Hansen co-authors the series with Jack Canfield. Listen to a few of these heart-warming stories and see, as Mark says, if it doesn’t break up your “pity party” Aside from the Chicken Soup Stories, Mark has an incredible library of self-help books on tape. His riches-to-rags-to riches story is inspiring … following his heart and his mentor R. Buckminster Fuller, Mark was building geodesic domes in the 1970s. When the oil embargo hit, his plastic-dependent company sank and Mark lost $2 million in one day. He recovered with the help of an audio tape called Are You the Cause or the Effect? by Cavett Robert. Mark listened to the tape 287 times, bearing witness to the power of repetition! He started over … and became an expert in sales and sales training. Mark targeted the insurance and chiropractic industries. Industries that, like plumbing, have a poor image with the general public so his lessons apply easily to PHC professionals. Here are a few quotes from Mark:

“Even in the worst depression, 25 percent of businesses are booming — in your industry find out what they’re doing and do it.”

“Real leaders like Lee Iacocca see vast possibilities and sell their dreams to their companies, their employees, their funding sources, their government and their buying public.”

“The true world of causation lies within your mind. What you experience in life, whether prosperity or poverty, is the effect of your thoughts. Change your thinking, and you automatically change your results.”

Mark believes in having big dreams. Forget realistic. Landing on the moon was never a realistic goal! His delivery and enthusiasm are catching. Mark is my first listening choice when I am needing a shot-in-the-arm.

Mark and his co-author Jack Canfield wrote my favorite self-help book of all time: The Aladdin Factor: How to Ask For and Get Everything You Want. This book outlines how to ask … for sales, wealth, attention … so that you get it. Nice! Mark and Jack know the power of the parable. Stories are what you remember, what makes the lesson “stick.” Call 800/929-0439 to order Chicken Soup for the Soul and the rest of Mark Victor Hansen’s library on tape.

Stephen Covey

No one is better than Stephen Covey for helping you discover what is really important in your life. His most famous audio book is The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But my favorite program is called First Things First. Stephen suggests that more important than climbing the ladder of success is making sure it’s resting on the right wall. What if you climb to the top … and don’t like where you end up? His guidelines for prioritizing and planning are the best! Here are a couple of his thoughts:

To leverage our time, we should devote less attention to activities that are urgent but unimportant and more time to those things that are important but not necessarily urgent.”

“Win-win is the attitude of seeking mutual benefit and it begins with a commitment to explore all options until a mutually satisfactory solution is reached, or to make no deal at all.”

Stephen Covey’s materials can be ordered from 800/654-1776.

The best part is that these friends are introducing me to their friends. Jim Rohn turned me on to George Clason, who wrote The Richest Man in Babylon — a simple financial plan that will handle debt and insure personal wealth. Mark Victor Hansen suggested I meet Napoleon Hill and learn how to Think and Grow Rich. I also recommend L. Ron Hubbard’s tape The Affinity-Reality-Communication Triangle. It’s a perfect explanation of the mechanics behind communication and understanding. And Barbara Sher has a wonderful methodology for getting things done in her audio book Wishcraft. I could go on and on.

These great teachers are available anytime and anywhere. Make your drive time class time. Learn from their experiences. Try their techniques and methods. Once upon a time you went to school. Now it’s time to learn.

And as you develop yourself and your company, I promise you this — you will attract new friends who delight in your success. You can share your goals and dreams with them and help each other grow and prosper. There is a natural gravitational pull between like minds.