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I am a Fly Fisherman and a Salesman…

 As we wade into these cold days of winter and the holiday season it’s time to reflect back and remember. We need to ask ourselves: what did we do that was successful? Where did we fail? Can I become better? Can I sharpen my skills? Can I laugh at myself…?

Sitting on the side of a beautiful mountain stream this fall in my home in western North Carolina I begin to understand the similarities between my favorite hobby and my career, being a fly fisherman and a salesman. Let me share an experience I had fishing this year. I’ll then spin it over to a sales opportunity I had by simply changing a few words. I hope you enjoy my logic and comparison!

As a Fisherman: I study the maps and selected my target streams and rivers. I made sure my gear is operating correctly and I’m using the latest tech to give me my perceived advantages over my competition. This day on the water I realized it may be a bit more difficult to fish than I planned for. I begin to cast out my selected bate to those sweet spots first as I navigated the stream being careful not to fall or get in over my head. I studied my surroundings trying to see what may be hatching. Do I fish top water, or do I have to go deeper?

As I made all those empty cast, I knew my skills were getting better, my desire to catch that big trout get stronger with every attempt. Then out of the corner of my eye I see him top the water, he’s feeding, could this be my time? I quickly adjust my position and cast my bait towards that trophy fish… I’m just a little short. I quickly spin out more line and whip my rod through the air and landed right on target. Once, twice, three times and he won’t hit my lure. I gathered in my line and opened my fly box in search of that perfect fly and I quickly tied it on. As I started peeling off my line and getting ready to make that winning cast a great big chocolate lab splashed right in the middle of that spot. Yes, I laughed and watched the dog and his owner play fetch right in front of me... he never even knew I was there.

I left the stream that day smiling and saying to the trout, I’ll be back, another season is just around the corner!

As a Salesman: I studied the maps and selected my target Customers. I made sure my gear is operating correctly and I’m presenting the latest tech to give me my perceived advantages over my competition. This day I’m with a huge client and I realize it may be a bit more difficult to be successful than I planned for. I begin to cast out my selected products showing everyone my sweet spots first. I navigated through each department being careful not to mess up or get in over my head. I studied my surroundings trying to see what an easy sale may be. Do I go for that opportunity, or do I need to go bigger?

As I met all those contacts, I felt my skills were getting better, my desire to win that big project got stronger with every discussion. Then out of nowhere I meet him, the top man, the project manager and he’s friendly, could this be my time? I quickly adjust my position and cast my attention towards my trophy contact… I’m just a little off. I quickly present more options and then I whipped my best seller out on the desk which I thought landed right on target. Once, twice, three times and he still won’t show me a sign. Is he interested? I gathered my thoughts and opened my backpack in search of that new prototype, found it and I quickly presented it. His eyes widened but just as I started spieling out my prepared line and getting ready to make that winning pitch his assistant interrupted and informed him that he was needed immediately on a conference call. Yes, I laughed, he shook my hand and walked away; but did he know I was even there?

As I left for the airport I smiled and said I’ll be back, another meeting is just around the corner!

My take away is simple: things happen in life beyond our control, never give up! Study, practice, do the things you love and enjoy but fish on! Oh, and one other thing, don’t forget to laugh! Happy Holidays and a prosperous 2019 to all…

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