Bill Gibson – Ride The Right Horses To Success

Two weeks ago I spoke at the Good To Great Conference at Emperors Palace here in Johannesburg, South Africa. The title of my speech was “There Is Always Another Way Of Looking At Things.” Part of that speech was on Riding The Right Success Horse which is part of my Turning Entrepreneurial Spirit Into Business Opportunities Manual / Book. Several people requested a more in-depth description that reaches beyond the slides I used. Big thanks to Al Ries and Jack Trout. Note: The content is leaned towards South Africa although it can apply anywhere in the world.

 Riding The Right Success Horse

 Al Ries and Jack Trout are the authors of the books Positioning, Marketing Warfare, Bottom-up Marketing, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing and a number of other excellent books. In 1991 they wrote a book called HORSE SENSE – “The keys to Success is Finding a Horse to Ride”. HORSE SENSE hasn’t had the recognition and popularity that some of their other books received even though it is an excellent book for helping an individual pick the right idea for success.

In their book they give the “odds for success” (like the odds in betting on horses, boxers, etc.) on each of 14 success horses. We are going to give you a brief description of each one of them and the “odds” for success that Trout and Ries put on each one of them.

A way to use these success horses is that when you are looking at an idea, business opportunity, or an investment into a business or career you can look at how many of these success horses are present in the opportunity and are they the ones with the better odds.

We will start with the Success Horse with the best odds for winning. These are called the Short Shots. From there we move to the Medium Shots and then to the Long Shots that have the worst odds for winning.

The Short Shots

The Family Horse: 3 – 2 Odds

Trout and Ries say that is hard to divorce a daughter, son, brother or sister. If you are lucky to have been born into the right family your odds for success increases. If your father was the Honourable Thabo Mbeki, Nelson Mandela, Harry Openheimer, Ernie Els, George Bush or Mel Gibson your chances of success increases. Doors open easier, more opportunities are put in front of you, the expertise is available to help you and positions in companies are accessible as well as an abundance of capital (money). Even prominent names in local communities and industries increase their “success odds” in those communities and industries.

Many daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are too proud to utilise the Family Horse. Trout and Ries say it is an asset so leverage it for what it is worth. Remember some peoples’ success assets are “their good physical looks”, others may be “exceptional athletic talent” or “acting abilities”, while others may be their “intelligence and brilliance” and another may be “access to money” … so don’t be afraid to capitalise on the Family Horse if it is one of your assets.

Even though you may not be part of a prominent family you can capitalise on the Family Horse if you are in business with someone who has the credibility, status and power of their family name on their side. It improves your chances of success in most cases.

The Spouse Horse: 2 – 1 Odds

History is full of examples of people who married the right person and that factor became a major contribution to their success. With many people it is not considered ethical. Trout and Ries’ message is simple … “Everybody needs, a success horse to ride”. If you are married to the right person it obviously opens many doors to success, just like the family horse does. Utilise it … it is your second best option in reference to the success horses available. The downside, compared to the Family Horse is the possibility of divorce. There are many cases where this happened but the two people kept the business relationship or partnership in tact. Fred and Gale Hayman created Georgio Fragrance. They divorced but still worked together and later sold to Avon for $165 million.

The Partnership Horse: 5 – 2 Odds

The advantage of a good partnership or strategic alliance is that “two of the right heads together are much better than one”. Also an “equally valuable” partner can be generating revenue and opening doors to opportunities you may not have the time or ability to do. Also true partners trust each other and can be objective which is sometimes tough to be when you are by yourself.

We are often poor evaluators of our own ideas. With enthusiasm, energy and youth on our side we start strong as loners and often quickly experience the success we are looking for. With our hands on the controls and our confidence building we can easily begin to believe we are the “only one” that can do what we do and “that we do it much better than everyone else.”

Very quickly we can hit the “ceiling of our own success potential” because the opportunities get bigger, more complicated and require additional talents and expertise. Remember, the basic talent of one individual can only grow so much. Trusted, equally talented partners open the doors to many new opportunities and helps spread the responsibilities, risks and yes the profits, but the profits may be much bigger. They also help keep our “egos” in check.

Word of Caution: Be sure you are getting involved with a partner, partners or “strategic alliances” that are equally talented in an area you need in your business and their contribution level is equal to what they bring to the business. Partnerships and strategic alliances must be sustainable and they are only sustainable if both parties continue to believe it is fair and equitable. A bad partnership can also destroy a business.

The Other Person Horse: 3 – 1 Odds

If F W de Klerk had stayed in power as the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki would probably not have had a turn at being President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela took a special interest in Thabo Mbeki and saw the potential. The relationship with Mandela (the Other Person) helped Mbeki eventually become President. In large corporations people often attach themselves to a rising star and rise with them. That is riding The Other Person Horse. A boxing promoter may ride the other person horse (a talented boxer) to the top or a boxer may ride the other person horse (Don King) to the top or bottom?

The Other Person Horse could also be an exceptional sales manager, top producing sales person, a marketing genius, a software developer or a financial wizard that you hire to work in your business. The key is be always alert for opportunities to associate, partner, affiliate, promote or hire others that increase your chances for success.

The Idea Horse: 4 – 1 Odds

To win with the Idea Horse you’ve got to be willing to stick your neck out and handle the criticisms and ridicule you may have to take. To succeed with an idea or concept you often have to be the first with it or the first with a “new twist” to the old. That means the experts may challenge you or say it won’t work. The experts said the Beatles would never succeed in the United States and that people would never buy bottled water. They were wrong. Unique advertising concepts, different ways of marketing and selling would be viewed as Idea Horses. When it comes to the Idea Horse there are several questions to ask.

Is it first, is it bold, does it have impact, is it unique, is it something obvious, logical, timeless and makes sense but no one has tried it. Is it simple to launch and produce, and can it upset or rock the market. Remember, it is easier to find a good idea, package it and market it rather than invent and develop it. The Idea Horse can also combine with The Other Person Horse by having Other People around you who are brilliant idea people. You also have to be sure others will buy into or market your idea.

The Product Horse: 5 – 1 Odds

The Product Horse or Business Concept Horse has great value because if done properly, it can make you money while you sleep. Often it is the person that recognises the value of a product or business concept and how to market it that makes the real success out of it rather than the inventor, originator or founders. Ray Kroc got wealthy off of McDonalds. The McDonald brothers did not. The importance here is that it should be a product, concept, process or business that can be replicated and others can market it, operate it, or expand it without you being present.

The Medium Shots

The Publicity Horse: 10 – 1 Odds

A few years ago Rebecca Loos definitely capitalised on the Publicity Horse claiming she had an affair with David Beckham, world famous football star. She received several hundred thousand pounds for her Sky One interview with Kay Burley called Rebecca Loos: My Story. At London’s premier of Uma Thurman’s new film in London, Loos showed up with her female TV presenter friend Emma Basden. Basden was dressed in a similar football outfit to the one David Beckham wore at a showbiz party the previous night … sparking speculation that Rebecca was mocking the Beckhams. General Swarztkoff, just after the first Gulf War in Iraq was booked out solid at $90 000 per speech as a public speaker. He was riding the Publicity Horse. The majority of people are not independent thinkers. They believe what they read in the newspapers, hear on radio or see on television or from “other” people and those “other” people usually get their information from newspapers, TV and Radio as well.

Donald Trump leverages The Publicity Horse, so do politicians, entertainers, professional athletes, corporate executives and even special interest groups. Can you, your idea, your product, your business or your people capitalise on the Publicity Horse. If you can create “publicity” and “celebrity status” with your assets you increase your odds for success.

The Geography Horse: 15 – 1 Odds

If you owned a piece of property where the developers decided to build the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town you would have had the Geography Horse working for you. If you were a security specialist living in South Africa you are in the right Geographical Area. A specialist in Small Business Development in Sweden could not capitalise on his/her small business expertise like he/she would be able to if living in South Africa with the big focus on SME’s. If you own property next to Kruger National Park and you build a Game Lodge, geographically you are in the right spot. The Geographical Horse means increasing your odds of success because of Geography (location of you or your idea is in the right place at the right time).

The Hobby Horse: 20 – 1 Odds

Some people love to eat so they turn their love, passion or hobby into a marketable restaurant, a cook book or TV show on cooking or restaurant guide. Others like to exercise so they become personal fitness coaches or open a health club. When you like to do something, you tend to do it a lot and the more you do it, the better you get at doing it. Your confidence builds and eventually with that increased knowledge you become a specialist. One gentleman who loved opera opened a part time business as an “Opera Tour” operator and promotes and markets opera tours to Europe. He goes along, sees the operas and makes money while doing it. One of the advantages of the Hobby Horse is you are doing what you love to do. The downside is it doesn’t necessarily guarantee you business success. Many people who loved Golf, became Golf Pro’s and now hardly ever play and golf because they are busy trying to run their Golf Pro Shop and Golf Lessons business and do not have time to play golf. Sometimes when your hobby becomes your business you lose the passion and enthusiasm because of the responsibility that goes with it.

The Creativity Horse: 25 – 1 Odds

Even though you may have been born with an exceptional talent … in writing, playing an instrument, painting, acting, singing, speaking, you may need more than that talent to succeed. You need recognition. John Lennon’s aunt told him “you’ll never make a living playing that guitar”, Paul Mc Cartney failed the audition for the Cathedral Choir in Liverpool and neither of them would’ve become famous with their talents if Brian Epstein had not recognised them, created an image and marketed them. The Creative Horse is a tough horse to ride because creative people get their priorities reversed. They believe their expertise, creativity and talent will get them there. More than any other horse the Creativity Horse requires outside recognition!! Whether you write, paint, act, sing, dance, photograph or what-have-you, invest a good portion of your time searching for the outside expert who can certify your creativity. Also look for ways to make yourself stand out … be different, e.g. Bruce Springsteen – The Boss nickname, “Swim with The Sharks” is more powerful than “Getting Ahead in Business” as a book title.

The Long Shots

The Company Horse: 50 – 1 Odds

Out of 100 people in a company according to Trout and Ries, one will make it to the top of the organisation. The competition is heavy for upward mobility in a large company. “A company, especially a big company, might not represent much of a future to you, but it does have one major benefit” according to Trout and Ries, “A big, well-known company is a great place to get your ticket punched (utilise it as credible credentials), provided it is the “right” big company.”

When joining a company it is important to ask what can I do for the company but equally important is to ask what this company can do for me. In South Africa, right now if you are a Historically Disadvantaged Individual and you can rise through the ranks of a well known company you are increasing your odds of success because of the shortage of senior executives of colours. There is a good chance you will be “head hunted” by executive recruitment companies eventually being placed into a phenomenal position with an excellent package even with share options.

Another way to make it is in a smaller company. The key is to get in early with a company with great growth potential and be next to the Founders and ride the Other Person Horse and Company Horse to the top.

The Education Horse: 60 – 1 Odds

Trout and Ries are not saying that education is not important. As a matter of fact, they are saying that the Education Horse is especially good “out of the starting gate.” Just like in a horse race getting quickly out of the Starting Gate is important in your business and career life. They also say, just like working for the right company to get the right credentials the same applies to the schools you attend. The Brand Name of the educational institution can make a difference especially in your early years. The Educational Horse is there to get you in the race. A degree by itself won’t make you successful! It is the application of that information and credentials that gives you your success. Many well educated people spend a business life time being frustrated because they see “less educated people than themselves” doing better than them. How they get caught is they believe their education entitles them to be ahead in the race. That is a myth. It is not true in the real world. Trout and Ries also suggest: “Be careful that you don’t lose that precious commodity called common sense. Many people are born with common sense and go to school and lose it. Remember, there are lots of people who are educated beyond their intelligence.

In a country like South Africa, where millions have been deprived of a good education, it is important to tread cautiously with the Trout and Ries comments, on this subject. Education is vital and there is and continues to be a need for making the education of our people a top priority at the same time we need to continue to re-enforce, “it is our attitude, our outlook, our life skills, ambition and application of the education that guarantees our success, not education alone! “What Trout and Ries are saying is: “If you bet on education alone it is a Long Shot.”

The IQ Horse: 75 – 1 Odds

Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a measurement of the intelligence of a person. The quotient is calculated by dividing a person’s mental age by her/her actual age and multiplying the result by 100. A mathematical genius would usually have a phenomenally high IQ. The world renowned elite organisation called MENSA, which is an elite group of people with extremely high IQ’s, only accepts those with an IQ of 140 or higher. So why would Trout and Ries only give the IQ Horse a 75 – 1 odds of success? The following research may shine a light on this. In Canada a number of years ago there was an article in the “Star Weekly” a weekly publication that came out on Sundays country wide. It talked about IQ levels of people in the various careers in the country. After putting hundreds of people through IQ tests they were able to determine which two careers have the people with the highest IQ’s. Guess which careers they were?

The people with the highest IQ’s were bartenders and taxi cab drivers. According to Trout and Ries “there’s a reason why intelligence doesn’t correlate very well with success. The smarter the people are, the more they depend upon themselves. After all, they know everything! They depend on themselves to get ahead. But it is a long shot to depend only on yourself!

Now in Canada, the researchers discovered something similar. They discovered that these very intelligent bartenders and taxi drivers did the jobs that they did because it gave them continual interaction with people, they could have many different conversations with many different types of people which was stimulating and above all they had independence and felt like they worked alone even though they were around other people. The researchers also found out that most people with high IQ’s had little patience for other people who did not mentally pick things up as fast as them. They preferred to work alone.

As one college President said to the faculty, “Be nice to you’re A students because they will come back and be your colleagues, but be exceptionally nice to your B and C students because they will come back and give us a new auditorium and a new science building.”

Less intelligent people usually know they are less intelligent and they usually look for others to help them up the ladder. In other word they look for additional Horses to Ride in order to succeed.

It is a blessing to be smart and an advantage if you can maintain a perspective on that fact and continually look for additional Success Horses to ride.

By the way, for the last couple of years there has been a lot of talk about the importance of EQ which is Emotional Intelligence. Successful entrepreneurs usually score higher on EQ than IQ. EQ is really “common sense.”

The Hard-Work Horse: 100 – 1 Odds

Hard work and a Winning Horse will get you anything in life. The hard work could be optional but the Winning Horse isn’t optional.  You need it. What is being said here is that the belief that hard work will bring you success is not true. Now, you may say that successful people tend to work hard … and usually harder than most people. Yes, they do. But, that is quite different than saying “people who work hard tend to become successful.”

Lots of entrepreneurs have been on “sinking ships” and they kept working harder and harder and it didn’t solve the problem. W A Fields once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try again … and then quit. No use in being a darn fool about it.” There are times you need to change horses. You may be on the wrong horse. Hard work alone is not the answer; it is the adding of the right horses with it.

To put in a good days work and give it the best you’ve got is a necessary attribute in every job in every field. At the end of the day you walk away with the internal gratification that you are living within your own integrity and you are contributing your share to your company, organisation and country. Don’t ever lose your good work ethic. It is valuable. All we are suggesting is that you add some of the other Horses to take yourself as far as possible.

The 14 Success Horses that you’ve just reviewed can also be utilised inside an organisation by an employee to improve their odds of upward mobility. They can also be utilised by those with Professional Practices to help themselves and business be more successful. Marketers, business owners, sales people, entrepreneurs, artists and entertainers as well as those in political careers and working within our parastatals and government organisations can receive great value by utilising these principles.

From an evaluation or testing perspective we’ve taken these 14 Success Horses and created a “Potential for Success Assessment Tool” that you can test your ideas, opportunities, career choices, investment possibilities, business options, success options with. If you have an idea, strategy or opportunity in mind see how many of these Success Horses you can make part of your success strategy. The more you have going for you, especially the Short and Medium Shots, the better your chances of success are.

  “Potential For Success” Quick Assessment Tool


Your idea, Opportunity, Venture, Investment or Success Option “Description”


Tick R the box for each one of the Success Horses that are present or could be part of your idea, opportunity, venture, investment, success option or strategy.

Success Horse





The Family Horse 3-2 Short
The Spouse Horse 2-1 Short
The Partnership Horse 5-2 Short
The Other Person Horse 3-1 Short
The Idea/Concept Horse 4-1 Short
The Product/ Process Horse 5-1 Short
The Publicity Horse 10-1 Medium
The Geography Horse 15-1 Medium
The Hobby Horse 20-1 Medium
The Creativity Horse 25-1 Medium
The Company Horse 50-1 Long
The Education Horse 60-1 Long
The IQ Horse 75-1 Long
The Hard Work Horse 100-1 Long

“If you have found this blog article to be valuable for you, I would be grateful if you “shared” it with your Social Media Networks. Also feel free to circulate it by e-mail or other means internally within your organization or externally to your clients, suppliers and personal and business network. Thank-you!”    – Bill Gibson

Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is and his website is He can be reached at or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page:

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Bill Gibson – The Day I Personally Met Nelson Mandela (Lessons In Leadership)

Friday, the 18th of July was Nelson Mandela Day here in South Africa (His birth date). As a tribute to this great leader I am re-posting my blog article: The Day I Personally Met Nelson Mandela (Lessons in Leadership). It is worth a re-read even if you have read it before. Great Leadership Principles. The thought of Nelson Mandela takes me back to late 1995 when I was preparing for my 3rd visit to South Africa from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. On the way out the door, I made a very bold statement to my wife Beverley and my two sons Ryan and Shane. It went something like this, “during this trip to South Africa I am going to personally meet Nelson Mandela!” Well, needless to say there was lots of laughter and comments like “are you dreaming?”, “get real dad”, “I know it’s great to be positive but it will take more than positive thinking!”

Three weeks later I’m packing my suitcase getting ready to head back to Canada after a great few weeks of speaking in Johannesburg, South Africa! At the last minute I realized I had forgotten to buy gifts and that most of the shops were closed on a Sunday. I hopped in my car and made my way to the Rosebank Rooftop Market that I heard would be open. Suddenly in the middle of Rosebank, the traffic came to a halt…obviously a car accident. The line of traffic was moving very slowly and people were out of their cars. I asked one of them, “is there an accident?” His answer was, “no…Nelson Mandela (Madiba) is out for his Sunday afternoon walk…that is stopping the traffic!”

Then I noticed to my right a wall of body guards giving President Mandela the privacy and room to walk. I pulled over and parked the car and quickly walked to the wall of body guards and took a deep breath and asked “can I meet President Mandela?” They answered “not today.”

Then from behind the wall of body guards came Nelson Mandela’s voice …”ask him if he is Canadian” I said “yes” and he replied, “let him through.” Wow…the power of thought and the power of taking a chance and asking! (By the way Nelson Mandela is an honorary citizen of Canada.)

I stepped into his presence and he grasped my hand in the most sincere handshake fashion imaginable. He asked me my name and then proceeded to ask where I was from? I told him Nova Scotia…he knew where it was. He wanted to know my father’s name…what he did for a living (diesel mechanic), my mom’s name, my sister…was I from the city or the country. Eventually he asked me what I was doing in South Africa. I explained that I was a speaker and trainer with a focus on entrepreneurship, marketing, sales and people development. His response was, “please don’t just visit…come and spend time here and help us grow our people and our country.” We spoke for about 5 minutes and all the time we chatted he held my hand and looked squarely into my eyes. The only way I can describe it is…I had just had a rare experience of being with a man who was deeply rested in his being! I could feel the peace within Nelson Mandela. It was a spiritual experience. I was electrified.

How wonderful…he recognized the Canadian accent. He wasn’t political or all business…he wanted to know about me as a person. All of us as leaders could take a lesson from Nelson Mandela’s way of dealing with people. There is a saying that people will often forget the words we use but they will always remember how we made them feel. I felt special, I felt his sincerity, his humbleness and his caring yet powerful presence. I will never forget how he made me feel. Thank-you Madiba! 19 years later and I am still here in South Africa.

There is a message here for communities, countries, business and families. Try to remember…“people go where they are invited and stay where they are appreciated.”

When it came to the use of Power, Nelson Mandela also had it right. He was quoted saying after becoming President of South Africa, “The problem I have “is not” how to use power. My biggest problem is how “not” to use power.”

In his book Leading Like Madiba, (Leadership lessons from Nelson Mandela) Martin Kalungu-Banda got it right. He wrote:

  • Where he could punish, he tried to understand the position of the one at fault
  • He practised restraint, when he could have used power to settle scores with those who had treated him and his colleagues as if they did not matter
  • When he was in such a strong position that he could push others to comply with him, he preferred to consult, persuade and even plead in order to settle matters

Instead of intimidating people with his power, he chose to bargain and quite often forgo the short term “sweet victory.”

If all those who are called or think of themselves as leaders, learnt how not to use power, our homes,our work places and our world could be friendlier, happier and even maybe more peaceful.

Madiba you will live on in my mind forever. I am so grateful that I met such a giant of a man during one of my first visits to South Africa. What a privilege! We need more leadership role models like Nelson Mandela in this world. You are and always will be a legend…you will live forever!

“If you have found this blog article to be valuable for you, I would be grateful if you “shared” it with your Social Media Networks. Also feel free to circulate it by e-mail or other means internally within your organization or externally to your clients, suppliers and personal and business network. Thank-you!”    – Bill Gibson

Bill Gibson is a Canadian who is living in South Africa. He is an international speaker and author and a developer of sales, service, marketing, collecting, employee morale building, personal development and entrepreneurial training programs and systems. His blog is and his website is He can be reached at or phone +27-11-784-1720 in South Africa. You can follow Bill Gibson on Twitter: @billgibson1, connect on LinkedIn: or Knowledge Brokers International SA Pty Ltd Facebook Page:

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Bill Gibson – Don’t Burn The School

How did you get to be where you are at and know what you know? Along with some good choices and lots of hard work and possibly a little luck along the way you also made errors, you made wrong choices, you experienced pain and frustration…in other words you had to experience growing up, you had to experience learning at school, you had to experience romance, relationships, addictions, and other lessons from business and life in general. You were not just told how to do it!

The fact that you and I have learned and possibly graduated from aspects of the “School Of Life” and at times the “School Of Hard Knocks” we still have no right to “Burn The School” and not let others experience and learn from some of the same schools.

In my opinion we need to be patient, kind, understanding and less judgemental with those who are following behind us trying to learn what we have learned. We all want others to not have to learn some of the painful lessons we have learned. It makes common sense and it is reasonable to teach, guide and mentor to help others, for example…like our children, relatives, friends, employees and associates…find an easier route and learn from us and our experiences. Although, there comes a time when we have to realize each and every one of them are also entitled to learn and find their own way by going through similar “Schools Of Life” and “Schools Of Hard Knocks” that we have graduated from.

If we are honest with ourselves, we know that some of our greatest moments of learning and positive change and growth came from some of the toughest moments and situations we experienced along the way.

Empathize, be there for them, while at the same time acknowledge that others have the right to learn from that same school and we don’t have the right to “Burn The School” just because we graduated.

Often when I’m asked for advice, my answer is, “here is my experience with a similar situation although I must say I do not want to insist that this is the answer because there are always exceptions. Consider what I’ve shared with you and then make your own decision. Don’t give your power and future to me. It belongs to you!”

The one great thing about taking into account the advice of others and then making your own decision is, “if it fails you know it was because you chose it.” I’ve found it more heart-breaking when I’ve failed following someone else’s advice. There is great satisfaction in that saying…“well at least I did it my way.” If I’m going to pay for that mistake I want it to be mine! That also goes for your successes as well. Accept the advice; accept the help while at the same time do not give your power of success and failure away. And, remember, failure is part of success…not opposite of success!

Over the years this simple statement “I have no right to burn the school” has made it less painful when I’ve had to stand by and witness others close to me going through some of the pains of learning life’s lessons…while I couldn’t do anything about it and felt helpless. By the way they also are entitled to experience the joys and highs of those schools as well. So don’t “Burn That School” either.

Hopefully this simple little philosophy will also work for you at times that you need it. Have a good week!

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Bill Gibson – You Can Stay Forever Young

Last year I wrote this blog article when I turned 68. Tomorrow I will be 69. Another year under my belt. As we age we begin to repeat ourselves…so why not repeat the blog article with a few minor changes? Here it is! 🙂

It is a great day for me to address the topic of You Can Stay Forever Young. Tomorrow I’m 69 calendar years young…born on May 10, 1945 to Murray and Mary Gibson (Sister Sharon) into the community of Newport Station, Hants Country, Nova Scotia, Canada. (About 300 people). Here I now live and work full time from Johannesburg, South Africa. To get to what age really is I’d like to start with the subject of change. I’ve always found it is important to look at change as a positive influence in our lives. When we go through changes we usually have to learn new ways of doing, thinking, speaking and being. The understanding of the four stages of learning can help you see the benefits of change and it can keep you stay forever young. 111 If you search back through your life and explore the process you went through while learning new things in your life, you will notice that you experienced these four stages of learning. Think about when you:

  • learned to drive a car
  • learned the skill of typing
  • learned to use a computer
  • learned to dance
  • learned to change a diaper on a baby
  • learned a new communication skill
  • even learning to make love (LOL)

Firstly you started at stage 1 and that is where you did not even know that you really did not know i.e. unconsciously unskilled. Then you tried to drive a car with your limited experience. You suddenly realised you could not drive (stage 2). You were consciously unskilled. You felt very awkward, slow, stupid, etc. This is the stage many of us give up because of the discomfort. I mean, who wants to look and feel unskilled?

Now, if you persevered you eventually reached stage 3 – consciously skilled where you became quite happy with your driving and were conscious that you were getting skilled at it. You were alert and had an awareness of all your driving moves. (I practised on a dead end dirt road with a gravel pit at the end of the road in my uncle Reid Shanks’ old pick-up truck.) The truck was old and beat up so I couldn’t damage it!  When we become consciously skilled there is a great feeling of achievement and it creates excitement. This is the result of advancing from the consciously unskilled stage to the consciously skilled stage. You experience the winning feeling of accomplishing and completing.

The final stage is the unconsciously skilled area of learning. This is where you are driving down the road and leaning down changing radio stations or the CD player and suddenly wonder who has been driving the car and whether or not cars have passed by. If you were not consciously driving, your unconscious must have been driving. The unconsciously skilled area is where you are so experienced at doing something that you do not have to think about it.

Now, by understanding these four stages of learning it makes it easier to comprehend why you may resist change in the consciously unskilled stage of learning something new. But the real benefit is that feeling of accomplishment, exhilaration, and achievement that comes to us when we conquer this stage and end up at the next stage. Accomplishing something new creates energy and energy creates spirit and spirit is youthfulness.

We all know someone in their late sixties, seventies or eighties who look as if they are ten to fifteen years younger than they really are. These people are always out participating in new adventures and activities uncommon to their age group. In my opinion, these people have found the fountain of youth. They are not afraid to venture through the awkward growth stage of learning something new. (Consciously Unskilled). They do it continually. They are not the people that say “been there, done that, got the T-shirt…life is a bore.” They look forward to every day.

For most people it is much easier to stay secure with the old and what is comfortable. However, when you begin to master that new venture, new challenge, new skill there is a great sense of achievement, that creates energy in turn creating spirit.

Talking about spirit, if you look into the eyes of these active elderly people you see spirit. They have found the fountain of youth and it is in their attitude of always learning, progressing and trying new things. It is about openness and a willingness to try and a willingness to fail and try again. Individuals, departments, companies, communities and countries, which are willing to accept and tackle change with vengeance, have spirit. Change is an opportunity to rejuvenate and grow. Opportunity can be found in change. So grab that opportunity to infuse a new energy into yourself and others around you. If you do this, you will always have the energy to continually develop your company and your selling, leading and learning skills and in turn helping you enjoy your business and personal life even more. SANBS Change (2) By the way, it is important to never judge your age or someone else’s age by the date of their birth. Age can be measured in three ways:

  1. Calendar Years: That is how many years you have been on this earth. (Society has a tendency to think in calendar years.)
  2. Biological Years: Think of five people that are all the same age in calendar years. Example 50 years of age. None of them look exactly the same age. Some have grey hair, some don’t. Some have more wrinkles than others. Some have youthful bodies, some don’t. You can affect the age of your body. Marius Liebenberg, a friend and partner, has a guest house in Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa. A few years ago just before the ARGUS Cycle competition a 72 year old man showed up to stay overnight two days before the one day competition. He had just cycled 1200 kilometres from Durban to Cape Town! How old was his body? He was probably as fit as the average 36 year old. Therefore he was not 72.
  3. Psychological Years: Some 32 year olds are 104 years of age. You hear them say “There is nothing new, life’s a bore, I am getting old, there is no future, etc.” Then you have the 70 year old who says there is a lot that is new, life’s exciting and they are childlike and happy. This is the one that can have a major influence on your biological years and the way you treat yourself. Your psychological age is the most important one. Be open to change, adventure, growth, risk, learning, challenges, new ways, new places, new people, fun and excitement and you will stay forever young.

SANBS Change (2) For me, at 69 calendar years of age, this is the day I commit to at least 2 blogs a week and in the next 90 days will launch a new book and move strongly into online marketing. Watch this space…it is time to inspire not retire!

I’m really excited about sharing, connecting and helping to build an even more meaningful prosperous joyful future for myself and as many others as possible. Today is the first day of the rest of my life. God willing, I’ll be speaking, writing and marketing at 100 calendar years of age. Have a forever young week!

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Bill Gibson – Take A Lesson From The Airlines

Flying these days is great…look at the extra’s you get!

  • Newspaper
  • Magazines
  • Coffee, Juice
  • T.V
  • Telephone
  • Computer Access

Travelling on a jet has its nice sides, particularly the service. As soon as we sit down we are offered a newspaper or magazines. Coffee, juice or a drink comes after take-off. Small inexpensive favours help people relax and enjoy their experience. Incorporate some of these services into your place of business, particularly if customers are waiting for service by themselves. Computer access, T.V., computer games, books and magazines, a calculator and free coffee or juice bar can really change the customer’s experience.

How about several pairs of eye glasses in restaurants for people who have left their spectacles at home or a small flash light so they can see the menu? One restaurant in Swaziland has a beautiful wooden cigar box full of eye glasses for customers to choose from. How about several permanent wall chargers for people to re-charge their cell phone while waiting?

Banks, financial institutions, and any other companies that deal with financial figures can go a long way toward pleasing their customers with a minimal front-end investment. A few pocket calculators fixed to the front counters are helpful to customers filling out deposit slips etc. This service would be appreciated at other businesses that require calculation, like building supplies, paint, wallpaper and furniture.

Remember, the customer is ultimately trying to figure out how much product to purchase, we should make the process as convenient and painless as possible. What kind of magazine or pamphlets and “How To” information or other tools could be left in your waiting area or given to customers to read or listen to while waiting? They should have real customer appeal.

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Bill Gibson – Testimonials / Awards / Recognitions Are Powerful

Everyone likes to read other people’s mail. Provide this opportunity for your customers by displaying letters of appreciation from your satisfied customers. One retailer has a huge 4’ x 8’ board called the “appreciation board” with dozens of thank-you letters from clients. How about one on your website?

Another one of my clients had 4’ x 5’ blow-ups made of several letters. He displayed them on unusable wall space. Some retailers put blown-up testimonials in retail display stands as testimonials adding credibility while enhancing the selling atmosphere.

The key is to ask for a client to put her comments in writing and let her know why you want it. People like seeing their name in lights. You could even write an article per month about one of your clients, put it on your website or on a magazine or newspaper type masthead and display it in your store. Why not interview three or four clients per month on video, talking about how happy they are with your business and play the video in your store or on your site. The potential is unlimited with this idea.

At our company, Knowledge Brokers International, we often start a sales presentation to potential clients by reviewing a couple of our reference letters that indicate the fantastic results a client received by utilising our processes and services. Utilise those testimonial letters at every opportunity.

Quite often potential clients will ask us to send some information to review before having a meeting with them. We often send 4 or 5 reference letters and almost 100% of the time we get the appointment without sending too much information. Right now, make a list of 6 clients or customers you could solicit for an endorsement quote or letter that could be paid of a display, placed on your website or become part of a presentation

Posted in Advertising & Promotions, Marketing - Internal & External | Comments Off on Bill Gibson – Testimonials / Awards / Recognitions Are Powerful