30 Year Anniversary

Happy Anniversary to me!

Today marks 30 years in the professional development business. I can’t tell you how scared I was the day I drove 45 minutes home. I rushed into the house took a shower to wash off the dirt, sweat, and grime of the day, hurry to dress and run out the door to what would be my greatest career decision of my life. 

I was Vice President of a landscape company that I had taken from 11 employees to 125 in 3 short years. My wife and I had a 4-month-old baby girl and one on the way. We had been married for only one year. Our goals and plans were not negotiable to move 1500 miles away and start a new life in a place near her family with a more wholesome environment to raise kids. The hustle and bustle of the big city was not appealing to raise a family. We had 3 months left to save money, find a new job, and settle into a new life. Terrified of the change, and the requirements to support a family with the unknown, caused wombats to circle in chaos in my stomach.

The professional development course was 12 weeks, 3 hours one night a week. I’m forbidden to state the name but I think you will get it. We had to talk for two minutes each week in front of the room. We worked on public speaking, memory, putting others interest first, capturing the audience, gaining confidence, and causing emotional engagement with topics that caused one to contemplate their own experiences, and how to share so everyone would take away a lesson appropriate for themselves.

That foundation changed the trajectory of my life. After the move I wound up working for this large international training organization winning friends and influencing people.  Two years in, I had capped out. No matter how smart and hard I worked I could not make more money. I had been certified in every program they offered and was in the top 10 in sales every month for 18 consecutive months in the 100th market in the country. I began to search for my next career challenge and the ability to find a way to help more people improve the quality of their life and those they touched.

I forced another opportunity with a sales focused international training organization. Again, I’m forbidden to share the name. However, pain and a sales system was the basis for the program. I showed up as a surprise at the local office between Christmas and New Years and asked to borrow the phone. He was a friendly competitor and I had been asking for an opportunity for months. He asked if I had car trouble or if I need anything.

I said, “Yes I need to borrow your phone.” Shocked, but also kind and concerned.  I said, “I’m going to set some appointments for us.”

“What are you talking about?”, he replied.

“I’m going to set some appointments for us!”, I restated. 

Studdering and stammering he gently told me he was not financially ready to take on an associate.

“That’s ok, don’t pay me any money until I bring some in the door, and then you can pay me what you think I’m worth. It’s a no loose situation!”

Thank God he acquiesced and I walked in picked up the phone and began dialing for dollars.

Hitting the roof is a mild description of my wife’s reaction that day when I arrived home. She went ballistic. You did what? You quit your job, took a strait commission job, with two babies, no insurance and $3,000 of bills every month? Are you out of your freakin’ mind?

I did not get as excited as her about the possibility of failure. I asked how much money we had. $800, was the answer. How much do we have available on credit cards? $8000, was the response. How much are our monthly bills? She fumed $3000 a month. I said, “Don’t worry honey, we have two and a half months to make $3000. I got this.”

So another chapter of the journey began.

2 months later I was introduced to Dave Kurlan and Objective Management Group. Instantly I became a fan and a Partner, winning top producer awards in both the Sales Training Organization and OMG each quarter from day one. The Sales evaluations and candidate selection tools became my anchor to success. 5 years later I politely parted ways with the international sales training organization and started a sales specific recruiting business, Sales Kingdom. I partnered with another colleague and franchised Sales Kingdom then sold it to one of my associates several years later.  The key to our overwhelming success was the ability to Identify, Attract, Test with OMG’s customized candidate selection tools, Interview, Hire, Onboard, and Keep stronger sales staff. After the sale we decided to teach sales recruiting and also offered sales development services again with OMG as our anchor.

14 years ago I was fortunate enough to join OMG as Partner Coach. The second best decision of my career. There is no description for the knowledge and experience I’ve gained in working with Dave Kurlan and the Partners of Objective Management Group. A giant shout out to the ownership and the partners who have given me the opportunity to leverage my experience and touch more lives through others. Like the stone cast into the pond, the ripples we see on top are yet a small part of the overall ripples as the stone sinks to its resting spot at the bottom. All the while allowing me to continue to develop our business Sales Development Expert.

In 2003 we put our first course online. Now on this anniversary after building 5 learning management systems and 30 years in the business, we have experience surpassed by none. I have been so very blessed to have worked intimately with literally thousand’s of companies, tens of thousands of salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders. From global giants to mom and pops, venture capital, generation transition, M&A’s and every kind of organization you can think of. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of appointments, 2nd calls, failed proposals, and millions upon millions of calls, emails, networking events, webinars, conferences, and social media posts.  

Thank you to everyone that influenced my career! Thank you to my wife for believing in me. Thank you, mentors who took time to teach me. Thank you to the prospects that said no and forced me to learn to get better. Thank you to my clients for allowing me to be ’your sales guy’! Thank you to my collages who were kind enough to share, listen, and push me beyond my limits. Thank you to the Good Lord who guided me and gave me the talents to help others. Thank you to my associates who caused me to apply what we teach internally and who have made my life easier.

So there you have it. That is my story and I’m sticking to it.

I have no plans of slowing down, retiring or in any way stopping or pausing what I do. I’m still excited every day to get up and see what the Lord brings my way and who he wants me to help. I hope I can do this another 30 years!

Happy Anniversary to me!

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Author: Rocky LaGrone

Rocky LaGrone is a seasoned sales development expert with over 25 years in sales development and training working with well over 1,000 companies of all sizes in various industries.

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