The fact that you’re reading this blog means that you’re likely to be in the 60% middle of the road performers, i.e. people in the bottom or top 20% are not likely to be readers of this post.

This isn’t meant to offend anyone because I’ve been in the 60% at times myself! So, it’s not my opinion but a fact because there are the top 20% of performers and earners and then the rest, and whether we like it or not, we have to accept that this is a universal truth.

The key questions for you are therefore:

1. Do you posses an ambition to be or at least, get as close to the top 20% as possible?

2. Are you frustrated that you’re not making the progress you’re truly capable of and want to realise more of your potential?

3. Is your thinking such that you don’t believe it’s really possible for you to move higher, faster, easier than your current methods?

4. Would it help to know how to become far more influential in your relationships, whether this is with customers, colleagues, bosses, people you manage or even loved ones?

From personal experience and from leading successful teams and businesses with, if I may say – great cultures, I can tell you that improving who you are and where you get to be is not only a possibility but a guarantee if you’re willing to invest a little time in yourself.

I say this because waiting for or expecting others (like the companies we work for) to invest in us will only leave us as under-achievers versus our true capability, the risk is that we remain dissatisfied and unfulfilled.

Avoiding this risk of under-achievement therefore requires that we develop Personal Leadership Skills so that we can manage the person in the mirror much better.

I cover this in detail in my book and online course, within what I term the ‘6-Figue Success Essentials’ framework, so named because it enabled me to become No 1 in my field and as a result, earn a 6-Figure salary early in my business career.

There are 7 steps within this framework but the one step I’m going to share with you today was by far, the biggest reason for moving me from ‘Wannabe to Top Performer’ and it can help you to write your own ticket to career satisfaction and success too.

As I said, I cover a lot more detail in my book and course but let me run through one example of how you can invest in yourself to learn easy, learn fast and learn well!

My first introduction to enterprise level negotiation and deal-making was a rude awakening because I entered the arena with bucket loads of self-belief, only to find that I was totally unprepared for what was to come, i.e. through my own ignorance… I didn’t know what I didn’t know!!!

I’d joined the National Sales Team of a major publisher as the youngest account manager by far.

Quote “All the existing account managers are old men (they were in their late 30’s) who play golf half the week and sleep in the afternoons, I’ll show them how to do it” I said to my boss!

And then, OUCH and I mean a BIG OUCH!

It was a whole new ball game dealing with enterprise level customers compared to small businesses because these we brand name advertisers with complicated decision making processes and difficult to manoeuvre political landscapes. The buyers were tough people to influence because everybody wanted their business and competition was fierce.

So, during my first year in the role, I learned very quickly that I just wasn’t the bees knees after all, which had a bit of a knock on my confidence and self-belief to be honest.

But whilst this was the case, I still had a strong desire to be successful and importantly, a willingness to learn.

I just needed a way to lift my expertise (from virtually nothing) if I was going to be Credible enough to compete with the peers I now had Respect for and crucially, win the Trust and business of major clients.

These factors became what I termed the ‘3 Step CRT Influence Process’ and were instrumental in gaining influence with my future clients.

Anyway, lift my expertise I did and this enabled me to win ‘Distinguished Sales Achievement Awards’ and even be recognised with a one-off ‘Outstanding Contribution to Business Award’ too but not without some personal research and study, along with some help from my peers.

I say this not to brag but simply to impress upon you that investing in yourself will deliver results far and above what you might believe they could. I didn’t expect these kind of results and was astonished by the impact to be honest because all I wanted to do was to improve myself and not be seen as a failure.

The level of success therefore came as a bit of a surprise but investing in myself in two ways was deliberate:


I invested both my own money (not a lot I should add) and my time in relevant education over and above anything my company was providing, which wasn’t much. This included gaining insights into big business from world renowned ‘thought leaders’ across a wide range of business matters.

By adding such knowledge, I saw my Credibility with senior execs increase, Respectbe afforded me for the advice I gave and ultimately Trust was earned in a way that set me apart from my competitors.

I obviously don’t know your preferred learning style but for me, it had to be quick, easy and most of all – impactful!!! I wanted information that would make a meaningful contribution to what I did for a living and not just information for information sake.

I researched many options and came across some outstanding ways to learn easy, learn fast and learn well by way of summary books that could be read and digested easily in an evening or weekend and audio books that I could listen to whilst driving or flying, which I did a lot of in those days. I found the following to be invaluable:

Soundview Executive Book Summaries because they took the best selling business books published each year and condensed them into just 8 pages typically. So, there’s no filler or fluff, just the core messages and this enabled me to read a book a week or 50 in a single year.

I also used Harvard Business Reviews because these gave me access to articles not available elsewhere and which, were also like complete books condensed into just a few pages.

I’ve also referred to compressed non-fiction books via portals like because each book summary includes: 1) a rating, 2) the top take-aways, 3) a full summary, 4) significant quotes, 5) an author biography and other key points – all of which can be absorbed in less than ten minutes.

In terms of audio, I’ve used a vast array of providers from direct companies to audio portals like iTunes, Soundcloud and Audible in particular because of their extensive catalogue of over 21,000 business books by category, publishing date, length and language.

These resources cover just about every industry, sector, geography and job function but are particularly valuable in terms of understanding the best management and leadership thinking and trends available today.

They’re great because whilst specific technical knowledge of your environment is important, these resources will broaden your knowledge and help generate new ways of thinking.

I’m sure, that if you’re prepared to invest in Self-Education, you’ll find it offers a key to unlock success way beyond what you might think is currently possible. It opens doors and adds to your competence and self-confidence in ways you just wouldn’t believe.

And once you start to see the results of this small investment in yourself, you’ll also find that it becomes a never-ending journey of growth and personal achievement but most of all; it’s an enjoyable and rewarding one.


Make sure your education is not just academic but practical in nature and this means learning from the best, i.e. those who are already achieving what you’d love to achieve.

With this in mind, I invested time with my peers, shadowing, observing, asking questions and testing their methods with my style.

I didn’t learn masses but the quality of advice was brilliant from one of my senior peers in particular, who happened to be the top performer at the time.

It was so simple and yet made such an impact on my results that I ended up replacing him as the top performer. Sadly, he’s now passed away but I’m truly thankful for his advice and support, and I have to give credit for much of my success to my ‘old’ colleague.

I received three key pieces of very wise advice from him:

1. Get clients to visit Head Office because you would a) impress them with the quality of our systems and processes and b) increase the number of internal contacts that could take pressure off yourself from an admin point of view. He said that when he’d done this, he’d never lost a client and it helped ensure his customer retention was the highest in the company. He also had more time to spend with his customers rather than doing non-sales producing admin. I think this can be a real winner in key account sales today in what’s becoming a ‘virtual’ world where people meet less and less face to face.

2. Take clients to lunch, not as a gift or perk but because when you do this, you’re able to get behind their work mask, uncover personal challenges and motivations, and build a stronger, more credible, respectful and trusting (CRT) relationship. Working on a business intelligence contract not so long ago, I saw this happening a lot of the time in the ‘square mile’ otherwise known as the financial heartbeat of London.

3. Negotiate with your company on the behalf of the customer, rather than the other way round because if you do the best possible deal for the customer (within company guidelines of course) it ends up being the best deal for the company too. This enables the customer to get a better return on their investment (ROI) and they’re more like to stay as a customer, but also increase their spend with you compared with your competition.

Being young and a bit naive (otherwise known as ignorance) I’d considered items 1 and 2 as frilly, fluffy stuff that were more like schmoozing than being professional and business-like. Once explained to me though, the light bulb in my head went on and these became part of my modus operandi too.

As for item 3, I’d always considered myself a strong negotiator and got the best price I could from customers but my customer retention wasn’t brilliant.

In fact it was pretty average, until that is, I applied my colleagues’ advice. I’m sure some companies would still balk at the idea of number 3, just as I did before understanding what it could do for me personally.

But it went wider than just benefitting me because it also benefited my company and of course, my customers… this piece of advice was a sure-fire ‘win-win-win’combination.

The investment in my own business education through the summary books and audios, added to the 3 specific pieces of advice from my colleague enabled me to break records for customer retention, growth and new business generation all in the same year. And, this set me on my way to some other satisfying wins in my career elsewhere too.


1. Accept that your company will only invest in you to the degree that it helps you deliver the results they want, you may be one of the few where you have a manager that cares about you personally but few companies or managers will invest in you as the person. So you need to invest in yourself.

2. Understand that Self-Education is a sure-fire way to increase your competence, confidence and success. It can separate your from your peers because if you rely just on what your company offers as training or development, then you’ll just be getting what everyone else gets and it won’t help you to stand out.

3. Try to listen and learn from top 20% of performers and not those who are average, poor or mere theorists because their advice will just get the same result as them. In the same token, don’t just listen to average or poor managers either (80% fall into this bracket too) but seek out advice from the top managers, even if it means they compete with yours.

4. I want you to know that most top performers are decent people (that’s how they get to be top performers) and are they’re willing to share. It’s a massive compliment to be asked to be honest but ‘the ask’ has to be sincere as these kind of people don’t like to have their time wasted.

For my part, my ‘old’ colleague was thrilled for me when I took top spot because it wasn’t me who’d done it on my own, he’d played a crucial role in assisting me and it gave him a glow to know that was the case. As the old saying goes:

“You can’t lift someone higher without being lifted higher yourself” he did this for me and I’ve tried to do this for others ever since.

And just as a final point on this subject, if you’re afraid to ask, then you have to ask yourself the question ‘what’s the alternative’ and consider the answer.


“Consider this aspect of developing your Personal Leadership Skills as a research project of enormous significance to you because that’s exactly what it is, a project in self-education that enables self-exploration, self-discovery, self-knowledge, self-understanding and ultimately, self-fulfilment”.

This blog is a just a small section from my Strong Minds Personal Leadership Mastery online program. If it resonates with you and you’re interested to know more, you can check out the course curriculum on my website here or on the Learning Management System I use here.

You can reach out to me personally from the contact page on my website too and I’ll be happy to try and answer any questions you have.

In the meantime, thank you for reading this blog and I wish you well in your quest to become a Top Performer.



Author & Creator of Strong Minds: Personal Leadership Mastery Playbook, Interactive Online Program & Podcast

Originally published at