How To Beat The Odds

Posted by John Livesay in blog0 comments

4 Key Questions To Ask When Booking Your Next Speaker
The Power of Positive Thinking & Being Present

Have you ever wondered what the winning formula to success is? Here it is: Mindset plus preparation plus resilience equals success. I developed this formula based on my experience in sales over the last 20 years and seeing what worked and didn’t work for me. 

Imagine you’re trying to bake a cake and leave out a key ingredient. The cake might fail to rise, and you wouldn’t know why. Each of the steps in this formula is a key ingredient you can use to be successful — whether you’re a salesperson, a business owner who has to sell in order to grow your business or a leader who has to inspire your team to be resilient. 


As a keynote sales speaker, I have to sell myself to clients who are considering me versus other speakers. What I say to myself before the call is crucial. If I have the wrong mindset, then the self-talk sounds like, “I’m not good enough” or “Why would they pick me?” If I had this mindset, I’d never get hired. Instead, I get myself in the right mindset by remembering other talks I’ve given and the great outcomes that resulted and telling myself, “I am confident I can deliver a great keynote” and “I am the right person for this opportunity.”

The key to getting into the right mindset is to stack your moments of certainty. Write down three or four times you got a “yes.” It could be when you got hired, when you got a second date or when you won an award. Stack these up in your mind and remember how great you felt, and then put that in your head versus fearful thoughts. Try to see the outcome you want to happen before you even start.


The famous tennis player Arthur Ashe once said, “One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”

The preparation that Emma Boettcher did to beat the Jeopardy! champion James Holzhauer was impressive. She wrote a paper in graduate school about whether certain clues could predict how hard the question was. After she’d been called to appear on the show, she prepared by watching it every day and pretending the pen in her hand was her clicker to buzz in. Then she decided that wasn’t realistic enough and used a toilet paper holder as her pretend buzzer. She had to beat the odds of winning against Holzhauer, and she did it by preparation. 

The preparation I do before a call to get hired as a keynote speaker is a key to my success. Recently, I was being considered to be a speaker for a real estate company, so before the interview call, I called their customer service line, as well as a competitor’s, to see how I was treated. That preparation impressed the client, and they were very curious to see what I found out.

To prepare yourself for success at, say, a sales pitch, an interview or presentation, write down three questions you think you’ll be asked, and be prepared to answer them before they ask you. Another way to help you prepare is to take an improv class to get your confidence up and learn to think on your feet. Improv is all about saying, “Yes, and … ” When you practice taking what’s thrown at you and responding in a way that keeps the conversation going, you’ll be able to trust yourself to come up with a good answer on the spot.


How fast do you get up when you fall down or get rejected? Boettcher used resilience in addition to preparation, as it took her four tries before she was accepted to be on Jeopardy!

One thing I’ve observed when speaking to real estate agents is that the number one difference between the top 1% of them and those who struggle to make a living is how fast they bounce back after getting a no. The top 1% let it go immediately. The others say they let it go, but many of them mope around in a bad mood for two weeks or more. 

These examples show the power of bouncing back fast as the key to resilience. In business and in life, it’s not a question of whether you’ll get knocked down, but when you’ll get knocked down and how fast you’ll get back up.

My key to resilience is to never take rejection personally. When I was selling ads for a global media company, I didn’t always get the sale. Instead of beating myself up, I would just tell myself, “A ‘no’ now, doesn’t mean ‘no’ forever.”

To become more resilient, see how fast you can let rejection go. Stop talking about it with friends and co-workers. Stop complaining about how tough it is out there. Stop talking about the economy or other things beyond your control as the reason for your failure. Learn a new sport or anything where you’re not going to be great at it. I’m not a good bowler, but it’s fun for me to do with friends. When I let go of the last score or the last gutter ball and start fresh every time I get up to bowl again, I am retraining my brain to let go of past failures.


Think of yourself as the pilot of your life. Ask yourself the following questions — much like a checklist a pilot uses before they take off to fly — when you feel like giving up or need to beat the odds to be successful: 

• Do I have the right mindset to keep going?

• Am I prepared enough?

• Am I resilient? Can I bounce back fast after getting knocked down?

If you can answer “yes” to all three, then you can beat the odds and make your dreams become your reality.

4 Key Questions To Ask When Booking Your Next Speaker
The Power of Positive Thinking & Being Present

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