How many seminars a year would you think you might attend – company requested or on your own? Are you just a once-a-year kind of person or are you someone who wants to learn and not just network for new business contacts? Either way, the last time you went, what did you really learn, and how much stuck with you afterward? What did you apply to your job? Did this seminar really change you?

Seminars don’t work for most people. The average person comes away from a meeting and says, “Wow, this is great, I’m gonna change this and do that.” It is more likely that after that seminar, you put the material given to you on a shelf and never looked at it again.

Now, what happens when you put on deodorant? It wears off and you need to re-apply it the next day. Motivation does the same thing – it lasts about 24 hours.

Put imagine yourself at a football or baseball game. You follow the team into the locker room, and the coach is firing up the team, saying, “I know you guys can do it, you’re the best, I believe in you.” The players head out to the field, feeling good, but something unexpected happens – they lose the game. Why did they lose? Simple. The coach gave a great speech, but where was the practice?

The same concept can be applied to owning a dog. During the training period as a puppy you would take the dog outside and when it did its business, and you provided praise and then gave it a treat. But, by constant repetition and positive motivation, the dog now knows what to do on its own.

People learn the same way.

When you go to your next seminar or retreat, you must follow a few rules:

• A goal without a plan is just a wish: What is your plan on implementation after the seminar? What will you do, and in what time frame? Write it out. Imagine going into the bank and asking for a loan without a business plan. You will not get too far.

• Define your goals: A goal must meet four vital requirements: First, it must have a specific time frame (days, weeks, or months). Second, it must be measurable (you know when you’ve achieved it). Third, the goal has to be realistic, allowing you to not get frustrated and give up. Lastly, your goal must be challenging, which will give you a sense of accomplishment.

• Take small steps: In the 1991 movie, “What About Bob,” the therapist character played by Richard Dreyfuss advised his patient, Bill Murray, to “take baby steps.” Don’t do it all at once. Do a little bit each day and work toward your final goal.

• Celebrate small successes: Who says that you should only celebrate after you finish the big goal? What about all those steps to get there? If you want to lose 50 pounds, aren’t you thrilled when you lose the first five pounds?

• Practice, practice, practice: After you just changed your old habit into something new, you must practice so you can stay on top of it. Harvey McKay said in his timeless 1988 classic book, “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” that if you are practicing all the time and doing it wrong, you are just perfecting an error.

The next time you go to a seminar and hear a speaker, don’t just go home and say, “This will work, I can do it.” Have a plan, follow your plan, and turn your goal into reality by following a few basic steps. Remember, the idea is 10%, but the implementation is 90%.

Hal Becker is a nationally known speaker on sales and customer service. He is the author of numerous business books including two national best sellers, “Can I Have 5 Minutes Of Your Time?” and “Lip Service.” Hal’s newest book on sales is titled “Ultimate Sales Book.” He can be reached at


Letters, commentaries and opinions appearing in the Cleveland Jewish News do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, its board, officers or staff.

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