What Does it Take to Become a White-Collar Winner?

Post by Jerry Baker on October 16, 2018

As I’ve mentioned before, I once believed military leadership and corporate leadership were completely different. I was wrong, and in fact, there is much to be learned from the discipline, focus, accountability and other elements of military leadership. For a sales professional, Coach Bill Hart’s book, “White Collar Warrior,” provides great lessons and tools that will raise your game to a new level.

Whether leading a few or many, it’s essential to keep the message as simple as possible. I’ve found the concept of “less is more” is usually true. Coach Hart demonstrates this with his seven proven lessons to improve your sales leadership, underscored by the perspectives of military leaders and his own coaching experience. The topics, tools and advice are excellent, and the lessons are perfect for anyone wanting to improve.

Coach Hart’s seven lessons include: training is the foundation for everything; discipline determines success; fear must become a friend; sales plans determine success; failure can be a gift for growth; motivation matters most when you feel the worst; and growth depends on your team.

All great lessons — plus experience, rich examples and tools to make them easier to understand and apply.

Business Coach Bill Hart sitting at desk with laptop

Reflections on ‘White Collar Warrior’

Personally, overcoming fear and hesitancy means a lot to me. I continue to see smart and well-intentioned professionals get stuck on over-thinking strategy. They fear moving forward without a detailed, well-thought-out strategy. I get what they are trying to do, but at some point — usually sooner than later — you must overcome the fear of failure by just taking action. If what you’re trying to do isn’t 100 percent right, then make the changes needed. That way, you can best take advantage of a market opportunity and you won’t lose momentum, which is often critical.

My advice: do something positive to move forward!

I learned this lesson early on; it was one of my first assignments out of graduate school for a new employer. I was asked to estimate the cost to build the forward fuselage of the SST as the subcontractor for a major aircraft builder. This included determining the program cost, cash flow and the company’s return on investment, and ultimately negotiating the deal. What? Wait a minute, you must be kidding!

Of course, I had the benefit of reviewing previous proposals, and I had a few months on the job. I sort of knew what was required! But it was clear that I had only 30 days to put the proposal together, get management’s approval and, if accepted, meet with the contractor and get the contract. I quickly learned to move forward.

For the most part, giving it my best shot has worked throughout my career. It’s helped me progress and do things I might not have done otherwise. Moving forward and taking a chance paid off!

Of course, not everything has worked out. There were failures — some were small and a few large. That’s where Coach Hart’s “Failure can be a Gift” pays off. I always tried to approach every challenge with the belief that it could be improved somehow; even the things that went reasonably well. I always — well, at least most of the time — gave myself the grace that if it didn’t work or wasn’t working as well as expected, I could always make changes.

There are two keys to turning a failure into a win. When the task is complete, always look to see if there was a better way to do it and remember it the next time. And if the plan isn’t working, even if it was a great idea or so you thought, don’t be afraid or reluctant to change it — and do so sooner rather than later. You always have the gift of making a failure a winner!

The lessons from America’s military elite and Coach Hart’s personal experience as presented in “White Collar Warrior” are well worth your time. I encourage you to read the book and see if you, too, can benefit and prosper from what’s presented. And, as always, let me know what you think.


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Jerry Baker
CEO Mentor

Jerry Baker joined Building Champions as a CEO Mentor in 2009. He has experienced the impact of coaching firsthand as a client and corporate partner of Building Champions. He most recently served as CEO, President and member of the Board of Directors of First Horizon National Corporation and First Tennessee Bank.

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