The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth (Being Leonard Cooper)

In tribute to someone who’s had the viral moment of a lifetime while making a little “side jack” (that’s cash for all of you non-sales professionals), I wanted to acknowledge a cool kid.

I’m a huge Jeopardy fan, I hate to miss it so at my house it’s a DVR staple.  My teenagers and I watch it regularly with my son and I using pens as clickers and arguing over who the household champion is (I deduct points since he refuses to use the question format at times).  This week saw the end of the Teen Tournament and one of my favorite Jeopardy moments, proving that the geeks shall inherit the earth:

You’ve likely seen the video a million times by now and read a few articles about how awesome Leonard’s bad ass moment was.  My feeling when I read it was one of appreciation for a few reasons.

1. Intelligence breeds a level of confidence that is often missed. Leopard played the game with his arms crossed in a very relaxed stance for most of the nights that he was on. Nevermind the audience, the revered and rumored caustic host, Alex, or the possibility that he could be the dumbest of the smart people in that situation! You view the geek as the awkward kid in the hallways but he views himself as the one that’s smarter than the bullies; capable of acts that many people are uncomfortable with, from standing in front of a panel of adults in a judged competition (spelling bee alumni raise your hands) to arguing the pro’s and con’s of political viewpoints that may not have impacted him yet (I smile when I remember how seriously my high school debate partner, Holly and I regarded ourselves back then. It spoke volumes for our future potential–although we were far from geeks).

2. You can’t lose what you don’t have. No one understands this more than teenagers. That moment when they seem so blase (Leonard risking a cool $18K and even more, the chance at $75K), is actually an acknowledgement that they may not have truly lost anything in that moment. If you put a teenager or the new graduate in a work environment they are willing to ask the questions or push the envelope that seasoned professionals won’t. To some, it shows a lack of couth or demonstrates a sense of entitlement but I remember this “no risk no reward” feeling. Don’t you? The money wasn’t in his pocket..yet, so what was he really risking except for opportunity. And in doing so, he followed another opportunity…the risk paid off.

3. Being YOU pays off. Leonard’s mother may have been a little perturbed when her son said he wanted to grow an afro. She may have had all of the image concerns that most parents have but she probably chose her battles and focused on how awesomely confident, independent and smart he is. My son has asked for a laundry list of things that have been outside of what I consider the norm…blue hair, ear gauges–yes the earlobe stretching things–and some extravagant purchases–a thousand different musical instruments, a trip to Japan, all in pursuit of who he is now. Who he KNOWS he is. I’ve said “no” to some of those things and “yes” to others. The gauges, no, since he has had engineering aspirations and my experience has taught me that it may not be the best trademark for that career field. The blue hair, maybe, although I’m not sure how that will look for a first chair cellist in the high school orchestra and the trip/instruments, yes. He continues to push and I’m okay with it. He knows who he is. I’ve tried to create the “cooleyhigh” look of sweater vests and bow ties for him while he’s more of a vans and t-shirt kind of guy, staunchly refusing my efforts to prep him up. I like that about him.

4. Success isn’t optional. Leonard’s demeanor when he wagered that large amount of money was one that said “I have no choice”. Commitment to the purpose and forward movement is all you have when you know that you’re an intelligent being with unlimited potential. Enough said.

Leonard Cooper wins the Limitless Award for the week!

Channel your inner Leonard and get moving. Sell Something. Pursue Your Mission. Change Careers. Whatever it is you want to do, is only a wager away.

Don’t Be a Victim Charlie Brown


*Three things that you should know before you proceed:  First, this isn’t for those of you with Charlie Brown collectibles.  Believe me, you just won’t get it and you may feel a little judged.  Secondly, I consider Charlie Brown to be a poor role model but a great confirmation of valuable life lessons! Third, I still get the same goofy grin on my face when ABC announces the holiday line up and I will continue to watch (so should you).   If you’re still interested, come with me:


It feels good to get that off my chest.  After burying this blog piece deep in the draft bin for months I now feel removed enough from sappy holiday emotions to say what’s on my mind.

So here we go, four lessons that are validated through the life of Charlie Brown:

1) Mediocrity is a choice and a direct connection to self esteem.  This is demonstrated multiple times during It’s The Great Pumpkin…no less than when Charlie Brown chooses to attend Violet’s Halloween party after being told he was accidentally invited (Lucy informs him that he was on the “don’t invite” list).  Hs lack of self esteem ironically doesn’t allow him to protect himself from the poor treatment issued by others but instead leads him to walk right into their path, seeking acceptance from people who may not even deserve his friendship.  He’s willing to accept the bare minimum from other people.  Even worse, he shows his willingness to just get by in his costume selection; selecting the easiest costume, screwing it up and refusing to start from scratch. Now you’re the “ghost” with 18 eyeholes.  Oh, if only Mr. Schulz had written in an invisibility option, it would have been a better choice.

2) When people show you who they are, believe them!  In the comic strip and during various specials Lucy clearly demonstrates that her entire mission in life is to be Ol’ Chuck’s foil.  His weakness is the exact opposite of the rule; he believes that when Lucy treats him poorly that this is the exception to whom she really is.  He can’t reconcile that she loves to see him down!  Whether it’s after his fake out during the placekick or when she’s charging him 5 cents to degrade him at her booth (he pays a person who clearly doesn’t like him to give him advice), his failure is her success! In the off chance that Lucy decides to throw Charlie a bone and show him a little kindness she makes sure that she reminds him of all of his faults only seconds later.  Even when people lie their consistent actions tell the truth about who they are—believe them!

3) You are the company you keep.   I don’t have a particular gripe against Linus.  Let’s face it, he’s dealing with issues that are deep, considering that he has absentee parents and is left to be ignored by his abusive sister with his only comfort being his blanket and his spineless best friend.  Put all of that aside and focus on the greater problem, yep, you guessed it, Charlie Brown!  He is clearly older than Linus with their only commonality being that they have no show of force.  Why does he choose to spend all of his valuable free time with Linus?  We could say it’s his chance to assert himself and be the leader or we could refer back to Lesson #1.  Charlie has access to a creative and assertive ally in his dog Snoopy, however, man’s best friend must have heard rule #3 because he seeks his companionship with those more closely aligned with his perceived station or higher (he often is the most intelligent of the humans he emulates).

When individuals that are crafty and creative attempt to get closer to him–ahem Peppermint Patty–he is clearly disturbed by it.  C’mon a chick that could get people to call her “sir” in the 1950’s is most obviously a boss!  He could use a little of her chutzpah.  Schroeder is a creative genius but he doesn’t want the taint of association with Charlie. Would anyone have taken Mozart seriously if he schlepped around with a thumb sucking, blanket toting friend and a prematurely bald whiner?

4) You teach people how to treat you.  This is along the lines of rule #2. In the somewhat obscure You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown,  Lucy snatches the football out of Charlie’s path twice!  She asked him twice because she knew she could and that he would.  During the process of this humiliation, Peppermint Patty hits Chuck up for cash, inviting him to participate in a bike race with the winning prize being Pro Bowl tickets that “she has won”.  He ultimately wins the race and the prize which turns out to be 5 free haircuts (little known fact-his dad is a barber, obvious fact–he has no hair).  Bottom line, he is the easiest target because he is a willing target.

I could have written an article about Chuck’s eternal optimism, belief in the human race, and acceptance of others but those lessons have been opined before I’m sure.  As entertainment value and purposeful avoidance of Lesson #1 this was a much better approach for me.

To leave on a positive note,  when Charlie wins the bike race and is disappointed with his reward, Linus removes his thumb from his mouth for some interesting words of wisdom reminding him that, ‘winning against overwhelming odds is much more important than the reward at the end’.

Although as a saleswoman I might take issue with that statement too.

Nobody Said It Was Easy

Ever wonder how you can go home at the end of a long sales day and keep yourself from curling up in the corner of the shower, huddled and crying as you sing “nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard“….okay, so maybe Coldplay is a little melodramatic for a rough sales day but the sentiment fits.

Sales is tough. It’s not a game meant for the easy-going, affable gal with the ever present smile and the laissez faire attitude. Surely, you present that way at times for the sake of your clients, but the truth is that it can be a gritty, hard-nosed game. You need a tongue that glides, floats and entices with the movement of a lyrical gymnast and the mental fortitude of a champion chess player.

My first high-earning sales position was one as an Executive Recruiter during my mid 20’s. When I look back at that experience I realize that the saleswoman that I am today would have crushed that position and made the paycheck appear stolen (yes, I’ve reached that level of good).  But,  I wasn’t the saleswoman that I am today. Sure I was smart, intuitive, eager to learn, profit driven and ready to succeed but I was weak.  I didn’t have enough life or professional experience, at that time, to rebound quickly from failure. The word “no” was a death sentence in my mind. I didn’t know how to qualify and push through an objection to determine if it was a real or perceived, but even more detrimental, I held on to the failure through the next call…if I made it there.

What helped me? I had a phenomenal mentor at the time. He was patient, cerebral and the father of two daughters, which gave him great perspective on the emotion that I was exhibiting. His name was Paul, and I’ll never forget his reaction to my tears after the first time a “potential” close fell through. He looked at me without judgment and simply said “you can’t lose what you don’t have.”

It was easily the most effective statement that anyone had made to me at that time. I was sobbing over a contract that never existed.  Simple enough.  There was no business to be lost, and there never is, unless the letter of intent, contract or “referral” is on your desk. I was crying over milk that hadn’t been spilt because it had never even been brought home from the grocery store.

Learning and remembering this lesson has been a key factor to my success since then.  That one statement is the core to how I have been able to rebound quickly when it’s not easy, personally and professionally. So rather than spend your time mired in the world of Coldplay, mulling over opportunities lost, remember the lesson that sales will never be easy but you can make it easier for myself.