Mental toughness is critical in tough times. In this episode, Jimmy Vreeland, an Army Ranger, shares his insight on mental toughness.
“I love creating value for other people, but I don’t run a charity and dollars follow value. So maybe you’re not collecting the cash right now, but to me, selling is creating value. So, if you’re up and you’re breathing, you better be creating value.” – Jimmy Vreeland, Army Ranger
Whether it’s good times or bad times salespeople create value. That’s our calling. Salespeople find a way to create value.
Which profession requires more mental toughness; being an Army Ranger or owning your own business? You’ll be surprised at the response!
To gain mental toughness, think of the worst-case-scenario first, and then sell your way out of that situation.
What’s worse than bullets flying past you in battle? You’ll be surprised at the answer!
When you feel as though your thoughts are going dark, TAKE ACTION! You can sell your way out of the funk you are in.
“Jimmy, what advice do you have for salespeople who are facing tough times for the first time?”
Jimmy says… “SUCK IT UP!”
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How do I sell during uncertain times? – Part IV (with Jimmy Vreeland)
(Transcribed from Paul Reilly’s interview with Jimmy Vreeland)
Jimmy Vreeland (JV): I love selling. I love creating value for other people, but I don’t run a charity, and dollars follow value. So, maybe you’re not collecting the cash right now, but to me, selling is creating value. So, if you’re up and you’re breathing, you better be creating value.
Paul Reilly (PR): I love everything about what you just said. We need to hashtag that, dollars follow value. That’s incredible.
We are now on our fourth episode of an ongoing series on how to sell in uncertain times. There is still a lot of uncertainty out there, whether it’s the economy, the virus—you name it—we’re all feeling a little uncertain. During these uncertain times, I think it’s important to reach out to various experts. We have an interview today with Jimmy Vreeland. Now, Jimmy’s not an expert in the medical field or the economic field, he’s an expert on mental toughness. We’re going to talk more about that today.
On a personal note, I’ve known Jimmy Vreeland for several years. And, I’ve got to tell you, every time I talk to him, sit down with him, meet with him, I feel more pumped up than I did before. Man, he’s a motivating guy, and I look forward to having him on the show.
As you’re going to figure out in this episode, Jimmy is a little bit different. He thinks different. He acts different. He’s going to bring a different perspective on what’s going on, and also some advice for salespeople.
A little more background on Jimmy. Jimmy actually served our country as an Army Ranger. He was a captain and he served both in Afghanistan and Iraq. He’s going to share a little bit about those experiences and how that has helped him become mentally tough. He’s going to share a couple of ideas—some things that he has learned from that. Jimmy also has a background in sales. He was in medical sales for Stryker for a number of years. He’ll talk about some of those experiences. But he’s now an entrepreneur. He’s co-founder of a company called Cash Flow Tactics, and a principal in Joint Ops Properties. He’s heavy in the real estate market and helping people get financial freedom, so he’ll talk a little bit about that as well.
Before I get into the interview, I wanted to give a shout-out to today’s sponsor, The Creative Impostor Studios. They offer premium podcasting, editing, and consulting services. I’ve been working with Andrea over there for a number of months. She does a wonderful job, and man, they make it easy. So, if you’ve got a story to tell, if you’re thinking of starting a podcast, reach out to Andrea at the Creative Imposter Studios. There’s going to be a link to her website at our website TheQandASalesPodcast.com. On each one of the episode pages you’ll notice there is a link there to The Creative Imposter Studios. Check it out if you’re interested in starting a podcast.
With all that said, let’s get started with the interview.
PR: Hello everyone! I’ve got Jimmy Vreeland on today’s show. Jimmy, I tell you, man, I’m pumped to have you on the show. We talked last December. I think was the last time we talked. Is that right?
JV: Yeah. It’s been a little bit.
PR: Remember, a couple of years ago, we did an interview—an article. It was “How to Sell Like an Army Ranger.” So, I thought it would be a good idea to get your take on what’s going on right now. And, also, get some tips on mental toughness—what salespeople can do right now. There are a lot of salespeople right now that are uncertain. They don’t know what to do. Sales leaders are in the same boat. Maybe you could start off and tell us a little bit about your background as an Army Ranger. But really, how important has mental toughness been for you throughout your career as an Army Ranger, but also, now?
JV: I would tell you—I’ve said a few times that owning my own business, mental toughness-wise, is almost as bad as combat.
JV: Yeah man. A different type of fear, but it’s still fear.
PR: That’s interesting. I’ve never served so I can’t relate to that, but that’s a powerful statement from a mental toughness standpoint.
JV: Now, granted, I’ve been out for ten years so maybe I’m “nostalgi-izing” the combat experience and how bad it was. But, having a family, running payroll, running a business, borrowing money—it’s got its anxieties.
PR: No doubt. There’s always that level of uncertainty. What is it, as an Army Ranger, that has helped you build up some of that mental strength as you embarked on this new journey as a business owner, entrepreneur, and all that? Can you shed some light on that?
JV: Sure. My mindset on corona has been…I was actually at a Real Estate Mastermind when they shut the NBA down, right? I was like “This is a joke. This is crazy! What’s going on?” And then, by Friday they were saying that Wall Street’s going to shut down. And then, if Wall Street shuts down, banks shut down. If banks shut down, I can’t sell houses, right? There were some dark thoughts there. So, I came home for a week. I think I was a week ahead of everybody in St. Louis. No one seemed to care. Whatever. And then, by Friday I’m like “Okay. We’re going to have to move the office to work remote.” What I did as a mental exercise is I just did what we did in combat. I went for worst-case scenario first and started planning for that. I just looked at my numbers, looked at my business and said, “What happens if I can’t bring another dollar of revenue in? How long can I last?” Those are dark thoughts.
PR: You know, that’s one of those things where you look at the times, you look at some of the crazy things happening, and all of this uncertainty. I think what’s happening is we’re in that shock phase of, “Okay. What is going to happen?” And, since nobody knows, we go to that worst-case scenario. We prepare for that. I think that’s something salespeople should consider. Let’s say a salesperson right now is analyzing their territory: their forecast, where their numbers are going to come from. Maybe they should look at this and say, “If I had to completely refill my pipeline of opportunities, what would that look like?” And, just prepared for that—not hope for that, obviously—but being prepared for it, acknowledging that, yeah, that’s going to create some fear, that’s going to create some uncertainty. But maybe you could speak to how that fear and uncertainty motivates us. I know that sure motivates me getting up in the morning and realizing, “Okay. This is the reality. Let’s make the best of it.”
JV: Plan for the worst, and then I would legitimately ask yourself, “Is it really that bad?” In the Rangers, we just had a sick, sick sense of humor, because in our minds, the worst could always happen at any moment. I’ll never forget my first day with the unit, I stubbed my toe, and everybody died laughing. Most normal, civilized people would be like, “Oh, are you okay?” No. If someone got hurt, it was pure laughter. And then if you acknowledged you were hurt it’s like, “Oh my god, you’re such a (we used different words but) you’re such a wimp.”
PR: Man, Jimmy. You’re showing some good restraint today.
JV: I know.
PR: I appreciate that.
JV: What’s helped me in this corona thing is I just looked at worst-case scenarios and started planning against it. If the worst happens, it just happens. It is what it is. Here’s something because you’re kind of asking how does combat experience help. You know the worst thing about getting blown up, bullets flying, and being in actual combat…You know what the worst actual part of it was?
PR: What’s that?
JV: Thinking about it. Once you’re in the (bleep), you’re just reacting. You’re doing your job. You want to hear a story?
PR: Yeah. Absolutely!
JV: We were supposed to go into the mountains of Afghanistan, and they thought Bin Laden was in there. They were launching rockets. It was crazy. Every night they were just blasting where they thought he would be. We were told, “Intelligence says we’re going to drop you off at this mountain. It’s going to be the fight of your life. You’re going to run into machine-gun nests. This is their hideout.”
For seven nights in a row we were in the choppers loaded up and ready to rock. Six of those nights, they had us stand down. To get emotionally amped up like that six nights in a row…You weren’t going to sleep after that.
PR: That’s unbelievable, man. So you’re sitting in the helicopter waiting to go have the fight of your life, and then you’re told to stand down. And that happens repeatedly, night after night after night. Wow.
JV: What I’ve learned from that lesson was it’s not the fighting that actually sucks…It’s the thinking about it.
PR: Wow. That’s profound, man. It makes sense. It’s the thinking about it and not actually the going-through-it piece. Great insight. I think that could help any salesperson out there, any business leader, any sales leader facing uncertainty saying, “You know what? These are the things we used to freak out about.” We’re in it now. We’re thinking about it maybe a little bit because we’re still a little uncertain. But, what I’m hearing from you is that the worst of this is almost over from a mental standpoint. Is that fair?
JV: As soon as I went with my worst-case-scenario number—my business can stay open for 90 days not bringing in another dime of revenue (because the financial system we teach is very liquid). So, me and my wife and family can live for quite a bit without another dollar of revenue. Do I think that’s going to happen? No! I’m a salesman. I will find dollars!
PR: I love that.
JV: I can tell when I’m going dark. I allow myself 30 minutes to go dark. I’ll write down those thoughts, and then I’m like, “You have to start acting.” Because, remember, it’s the thinking that’s the worst part. The next thing is the action. The business owners I hang out with, a lot of them are really good at finances and numbers and organizations and systems and processes and all those shenanigans. That’s not a natural skill for me. My core competency is selling. It’s like more than a lot of my peers, I feel cautiously optimistic because I know if I can get out of just running my business, I can sell my way out of this.
PR: There you go, man. I love it. That brings me to an interesting question. I’d love to hear your take on this. I was doing virtual meeting the other day with a group of salespeople, and one salesperson asked, “Should we even be selling right now? It seems insensitive to the current situation with the crisis going on to try and really go out there and sell.”
What are your thoughts?
JV: My thoughts are, dollars follow value.
JV: I love selling. I love creating value for other people, but I don’t run a charity. And dollars follow value. So my logic is, maybe you’re not collecting the cash right now, but to me, selling is creating value. If you’re up and you’re breathing, you better be creating value.
PR: I love everything about what you just said. We need to hashtag that, dollars follow value. That’s incredible.
JV: It’s a sacred calling. I’ve got some value to provide, but now I’ve got to sell you into accepting this value. I’ve got to help you help you.
PR: This is amazing. You couldn’t be more accurate on what salespeople do. They create value. They make things happen. Why should that stop just because there’s a crisis going on?
JV: People need value more than ever right now. In the good times I had, the time to mess around at getting better; getting better at systems and processes and trying to become an executive in the only business I own, my interior dialogue after I went through that worst-case scenario was like, “(Bleep)! I’m going to get out and sell my way out of any (bleeping) problem I get into. Entrepreneurs and the salespeople that are working for these entrepreneurs are going to solve these [bleeping] problems.”
PR: They are. That’s the reality. Selling cures all. Didn’t Mark Cuban say something like that? Sales cures all. That needs to not stop at this point. It needs to be on overdrive.
JV: I’m working a lot more right now, and I’m loving it, because at least I’m in my core competency. All I am is on the phone all day selling.
PR: Make things happen. Creating value. Dollars follow value. You’re creating value for your community. You’re creating value for your team.
JV: And if you’re running into the fire, and every other (bleep) is running out, people are going to remember that.
PR: They are! I’ve spent more time talking to business leaders and business owners the last week. And I’ve seen more optimism from them than I’ve ever seen before. Optimism that we’re going to come through this and we’re going to be stronger because of it. There’s a general sense of nothing’s going to get in our way. And this was before the stimulus was announced. It seems like the people that have been through tough times before are almost more amped up than I’ve ever seen them during good times. And we’re coming off a good run. Ten years. Here’s one thought. Now, there’s a generation of salespeople and leaders that have yet to manage or sell in real tough times. Think about it. There’ve been ten years since the last great recession.
What advice would you have for someone that’s going into a tough time for the first time? What do you think?
JV: Suck it up.
PR: I love it. I couldn’t think of something better…Suck it up.
JV: Hard times, good times. Green jacket, gold jacket. Who gives a (bleep)? Get your (bleep) out the door and sell something.
PR: That’s what we’ve got to do.
JV: I wish there was another option. I’ll be honest with you. Me, as a business owner, when times were good I’m like, “I built this business in the best times. Can it survive a down turn?” Guess what? I’m going to find out.
PR: It’s probably going to make your business a little bit better.
JV: In the last ten days I’ve gotten better.
PR: You mentioned real estate. How did you initially get into investing real estate? I know that’s a topic a lot of the group here is interested in as maybe some alternative investments. How did you get into real estate initially?
JV: I read Rich Dad Poor Dad in Afghanistan.
PR: Kiyosaki, right? I’ve got that on the shelf over here. Great book. What was it about that book that said, “Okay. Maybe it’s time to get into real estate”?
JV: One – the whole concept of passive income which I don’t necessarily think it exists. I call it leverage income. Basically, there are other ways to make money other than working for it.
PR: Alright. So you’re reading that over in Afghanistan. What property did you buy in Afghanistan?
JV: You don’t pay taxes when you’re deployed.
JV: And you can’t spend money on anything, right? So I was crushing it.
PR: Okay. You’re not paying taxes. You’re making money.
JV: You can’t spend money. I would send all my cash back to my mom and brother and they would buy rentals.
PR: Really? If I asked my brother to buy me houses if I wasn’t there, I’d love to see what he would come up with.
JV: My brother’s a doctor. He’s smart. And very cautious too.
PR: Okay. That all adds up. How about we do this. We’re getting towards the end of the show and I know people want to hear more about what you guys do, so, how can people get in touch with you and with Cash Flow Tactics.
PR: Jimmy, thank you for being on the show today. Interesting insight. Especially for salespeople and what they can do to remain mentally tough. But also, when they start rocking those huge checks and bringing in a lot of cash, definitely gave them something to think about.
JV: If you’re a sales guy and you’re somebody who can make money on your own talent, I would be looking to invest in some type of skill set.
PR: Invest in yourself. Knowledge. Absolutely. Everything you learn is like inventory you put on the shelf that you pull when you need it, and it’s always there.
Jimmy. Thanks for being on the show.
Make it a big day!