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This one will be a little strange. Business is good; in fact it is great, and since I have been conducting sales training classes and sales consulting for my clients that range from small business to Fortune 100 clients, I have never had a bad year. You are probably asking, “Then what was your biggest mistake?”

The answer is simple: being too creative and wanting to explore new avenues. That might sound nuts, but let me explain. When my first book, "Can I Have 5 Minutes of Your Time?" was released in 1993, it did very well, better than I expected and has more than 20 printings. Subsequently, my friends and clients started saying, “So Hal, when are you coming out with another book?”

My answer, which I kept to myself, was I really did not have another book. I was not really an author, but a speaker who had to write something to lend credibility to my keynote addresses and sales workshops.

Now, I did not want to be a one-hit wonder like so many of the 1960s garage bands that had only one song that made the Billboard charts. I wanted to be creative and decided to write my follow-up book on customer service, comparing the best companies and what they do well with the worst companies and what they do poorly. “Lip Service” hit the stores in 1998 and also was successful.

I felt I had the author thing down, so I wanted to tackle yet another subject that needed to be researched for a couple of years before writing the book. “Get What You Want” explored the science and art form of negotiating and how to negotiate like a pro.

The sales were fine, but not as spectacular as my first book.

The mistake started to creep in, like a slow weight gain or receding hairline. People started to think that I was a motivational speaker, or they were not really sure what I did for a living.

What struck me was simple, but not so simple to fix. I needed to continue to focus on what I did best, the one field that I truly loved and had a passion for. Sales. Sales training, sales management and everything to do with sales.

A simple plan is necessary for anyone that is self-employed:

• Don’t do many things average. Do one thing well.

• When your vocation feels like a vacation, you have truly found your calling. Keep searching for what makes you happy.

• Ask yourself, “What do people think I do for a living?” and get their feedback.

• Look at your business card and see if it lets people know what you do without them having to ask.

• Be the best at what you do by constant research and dedication to your craft. Michael Jordan played baseball and golf, but is remembered for basketball due to his dedication to the sport.

It is funny so many of us tell others what to do and yet we do not always do it ourselves. Find that niche, build your brand and work to be the best at what you do. Trust me, I do not want to go to my family doctor who is also a cardiologist, podiatrist, massage therapist, auto mechanic and nail technician.

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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