I recently attended MLT University and heard one of the best speakers in a long time. The buzz before the speech was that he was a former NBA player. When the gentleman walked on to the stage, he introduced himself as Walter Bond and started off by saying, “You are probably disappointed that Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson didn’t walk on stage, but you won’t forget me after I am done, because they were better basketball players, but I am the best motivational speaker in the business.”
I can tell you that he wasn’t wrong. Walter Bond’s story is one of confidence, perseverance and overcoming your weaknesses. Walter was an All-State high school basketball player from Chicago. He had the confidence to become an NBA player. But according to his college coach, he needed to fine-tune his skills. Walter’s parents convinced him to attend a college where the coach gave no guarantee of playing and he would need to earn his spot on the starting team. It was a life lesson Walter’s parents instilled in him at a young age.
Every year, Walter failed to make the starting team. The coach would tell him why and he’d go back and correct that weakness. Finally, in his senior year, he earned his spot. Unfortunately, that season, he broke his ankle twice. His career appeared to be over.
Just before taking a job in the business world, Walter went back to his coach and asked what he would have to do to make the NBA. He told him he was never going to be the best forward or ball handler, but if he could perfect his three-point shot he would have a chance. Fast-forward one year. Walter Bond became the first-ever non-drafted player to start for an NBA team. Now, after leaving the Dallas Mavericks, he makes more money than he did playing ball. As Walter says, “I am always improving my game.”
Here are some tips he gave to the travel agents in the room that day. The first one is the funniest and the most insightful, and if you understand it, you are guaranteed to make more money.
• Find a niche and be the best you can be—or you suck. (Hint: Remember Walter’s personal story.)
• Dress for success and connect with your clients—don’t sell them products. People want to buy from people they like.
• Stop selling tangible products and start selling hopes and dreams. Example: Don’t sell a honeymoon or a romantic getaway—sell a strong marriage.
• Figure out what you don’t do well and fix it.
• No buts—all buts stink!
On a final note, what you are reading now is our annual “Pink Issue,” wherein Michelle Morgan of Signature Travel Network shares her inspiring story of confidence, perseverance and constant improvement in her game. Sound familiar? So, there’s the guarantee. Listen, learn and you too will be more successful—just like Walter and Michelle.