Infomercial star Anthony “Sully” Sullivan shares his best lessons learned about the art and science of persuasion.
- Approaches to understanding the pain and being the cure
- How to make an entrance and take control
- Why you should own your nerves and not hide them
Best-known as the spokesman for OxiClean, Anthony is the pitchman of choice for dozens of innovative, practical usage consumer products including the X5 5-in-1 Steamer, the Sticky Buddy and Smart Mop. Star and Co-Producer of the Discovery Channel series “PitchMen,” Sully is also a regular guest of choice on a variety of television news and entertainment outlets including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Rachel Ray,” “The Tonight Show,” “Conan” and “Katie,” as well as news programs MSNBC, ABC, CBS, BBC and Fox News Channel.
Items Mentioned in this Show:
- Sully’s Website: AnthonySullivan.com
- Sully’s Book: You Get What You Pitch For
- Book: The Loyal Lieutenant: Leading Out Lance and Pushing Through the Pain on the Rocky Road to Paris by George Hincapie
- Book: The Martian by Andy Weir
Sully, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.
Thank you for having me. The whole idea of being awesome at your job just is, who does not want to be awesome at their job?
Oh, cool. Well, certainly, that’s how we think and believe here, and so it’s fun to have someone who is legendary at a particular job of pitching products. But I’d like to, for a moment, hear a quick version of your backstory about coming to America, sleeping in a van, and selling mops. How did this unfold?
You know, every time I tell this story I think back to what an epic journey it was. I was about 20 and I was a little bit lost in my career, I didn’t have a career. I had bartended, I had my own karaoke show, I had delivered slot machines and pool tables, I had swept floors, I had managed a bar, and I was a little bit lost. And I was kind of weighing up going back to university to get a degree. I couldn’t find a passion, I say, “What am I going to do?” And my mom was trying to convince me to get into journalism. She said, “You’re a writer. You love to write. Why don’t you go to Cardiff University and get a degree in journalism?”
So, while I was hovering around, in between in kind of this sort of space where I wasn’t quite sure what’s happening, I stumbled across a friend of mine had a market stand. And being a market trader in England is a little bit looked down upon. Market traders are seen as somewhat maybe a little bit shady and very few people, at least from my background, kind of looked up to guys that worked at markets, kind of a flea market thing. And I never really went to the market.
Anyway, my friend had a stand, and it’s traveling market around in North Devon and he sold T-shirts and he had a speeding ticket, and he said, “Look, it’s Wednesday. Can you go down to the market stand? I’m going to go to court and fight my speeding ticket. Can you just go and watch my market stand?” I didn’t have anything to do, so I said, “All right. I’ll go down.”
So, opposite me is this guy selling these car washes called The Amazing Wash-Matic. And while I’m sitting there, drinking cups of tea, selling one T-shirt every hour because, you know, I was just literally watching his stall for him while he was in court, and I was mesmerized by this guy who was selling these car washes, and he would do a pitch.
It was the first time I ever paid attention to a pitch. I had seen people pitching products before but here I was for seven hours, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I watched this guy. And by the end of the day I could almost do the pitch because he must’ve done it 50 times, you know, I want to say five minutes, and so 12 in an hour. So, at least 50 times I heard it.
And I started to count his money. They say never count other people’s money, right? But I was bored so I’m like, “Oh, my God, this guy is selling five to six car washes every five minutes, and at 10 pounds a pop, he just popped out like 700 pounds worth of car washes, or $1500.” And I was just fascinated by his pitch. He said the same thing, over and over again, and every time he would finish, he converted it into a sale. And I’m like, “Man, if I have to stand out there in the market, I’d much rather be pitching than just sitting here waiting for people to come to me.”
So, I went over to him at the end of the day, I introduced myself, and he sort of was boxing up his lack of product because he’s sold it all, and he kind of blew me off and drove off. Anyway, I went back to my friend’s house that night who went to get his speeding ticket, his name was Phil. I said, “Phil, that guy, Mark, he’s unbelievable.” I said, “You got to tell him that I want to work for him. I want to do what he does.”
So, Phil, being a good friend of mine, went over, he said, “Hey, my friend, Sully, was watching the stand. He really wants to do this.” So, long story short, the guy teaches me how to pitch, and he was very, very clear to me, he said, “This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to write this down with a tape recorder,” I took an old-school tape recorder with me, and he dictated the pitch, or he did the pitch and I wrote it down on a piece of paper, I stuck it to my visor in my car, and I learned it word for word.
And he said, “When you know it word for word, come back to me and you can have a try at it and see if you’re any good at it.” Well, it’s kind of funny, so I literally learned it word for word. I stopped at a stop light, took my visor down, I read it and I put it back up, and I memorized it. It was about two pages of copy, which is quite a lot of copy to remember, but I remembered it word for word.
So, I called him up, back in the day they didn’t have cellphones, I rang him at home, I say, “Hey, Mark, I think I’m ready to come and pitch.” So, he said, “Come down to the markets tomorrow at 12:00 o’clock and try your hand at it, see if you’re any good at it.” So, I get down there, and he literally, I showed up and said, “Hey, Mark,” it’s 12:00 o’clock. He throws me the car washing device, it’s called the Car Wash-Matic, I think I told you that. And then he just walks up, he says, “Good luck. You got an hour. Just knock yourself out.”
So, I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “Holy crap, I got to go. I’ve got to pitch.” And I had never pitched in my life. I knew the words but I’m like, “How do you get a crowd?” The only thing I failed to do, I’d never really practiced with the unit. So, I knew the words and I knew how to work it but I’d never actually put it all together.
So, anyway, this guy comes up to me, he says, “Hey, how does this thing work?” And I’m like, “Okay, I’ll show you.” So, I’m like, all right, go into the pitch, I guess, so I did the pitch. I wish I had it on tape because it was probably the worst pitch in the history of pitches. Anyway, I got a little crowd, and I was like, “Oh, my God, I got a crowd of people here.” And before I knew it there were 10 people standing around watching me fumble through my first presentation with my first pitch.
Anyway, sold one, and I couldn’t believe it. I was like, “Holy crap, I’d never done this before and I sold one car wash to the guy that asked me how it worked.” Well, in that hour actually I ended up selling seven.
There you go.
So, Mark came back, and he said, “How many did you sell?” And I said, “I sold seven.” And he said, “Seven?” and I gave him 70 pounds, and then he looked at me, he’s like, “You sold seven in your first hour of ever doing this?” I said, “Yes. Is that good or bad?” He said, “That’s amazing. It’s like I didn’t expect you to sell any.”
So, that was my introduction to pitching, and it was great. I remember the transaction, it was like striking gold for me. I was like, “This is just… I’m loving this. All I got to do is talk and people will hand me money.” So, very quickly, I ended out in London. I took to it like a duck to water. I went from all over Devon to Cardiff to Bristol, and then people would watch me work. And I got asked to come to London to work in sort of big leagues, if you will, of that world, the big-name street markets like Petticoat Lane, Wembley Stadium, Black Bush.
So, I went from this little country market, country bumpkin because I’m from the boondocks of England, to working fairly high-profile markets with mobsters. I mean, I worked for Charlie Kray who’s one of the infamous Kray Brothers. I worked for Charlie for a little while. And then I turned the TV on one day, and this is the quick story, I got to shorten the story up.
But I turned the TV on one day and I see my first infomercial, and that’s when the lightbulb really went off, and I’m like, “You know what, I got to go. I got to get on TV. I need to get off the street,” because it was tough. It was London, it was cold, it was raining. It all sounds great when I talk about it, but there were a couple of days when I break even and be pouring down with rain, and it was a really sketchy crowd, and I’d have to drive and my gas money, and just making ends meet in the winter time.
So, long story, I met a guy who lived in L.A. and he was selling this mop called the Super Shammy Mop, and I tried to sell this in London and it didn’t go very well because for various reasons it just didn’t sell well in England. And I heard it was selling well in America, called him up and said, “I will come out for free, and I would work for free, just let me work in America.” So, he agreed, I jumped on a plane, sold all my belongings, everything I had, cashed in everything, gave my escort van to my brother, and told my family I’m going to America, to L.A. to seek my fortune and going to get on television. And everybody laughed. Everyone.
My mom taught I was crazy. My dad actually believed in me, he’s like, “You go, son.” But I think they all thought I’d be back. And my coworkers, my neighbors, my friends, my landlord, they’re like, “You’re going to go to America to sell mops. What are you, out of your mind?” So, I landed in L.A. in 1993, and I’d actually been to L.A. before surfing, my surf trip, so I did know the lay of the land a little bit. I’ve been to Hawaii surfing, and I started beating the streets in L.A.
And, obviously, as usual, nowhere could I get on television. Now, everyone kept telling me, “You need to be on TV,” and I was like, “Yeah, I know, but who do I talk to? I don’t know who’s going to discover me.” And people will come up and offer, “Oh, we need to get you on TV.” And I said, “Yeah, I know. How do we make this happen?” I was so eager.
Anyway, in L.A. I worked up and down the West Coast selling mops and it was great, Ventura County Fair, Costa Mesa, San Diego, Boat Shows, San Jose, Portland, I also went into Vegas a couple of times, I went over to Phoenix.
Anyway, I got a phone call to go to Miami, and they were like, “Hey, do you want to do the Miami Home Show?” And I was like, “Yes,” just so I could. I need to get out of up north. Now on the way down to Miami we stopped off, me and my partner at the time, we stopped off in Clearwater because we had a week off. And I drove past HSN, and I was like, “Oh, that’s the shopping network.” I’d seen it on television, and I’m like, “Oh, maybe that’s an opportunity.”
We went down to Miami to the Miami Home Show, had a great time, spring break, two young European guys, girls everywhere. Now I felt like I was back having a little bit of a better time. I mean, we had made some money and I’m still living in the van, and we ended up working the same Home Show at Tropicana Field where the race play now, the Lightning used to play there, Tampa Bay Lightning, and a buyer came up to me from HSN, her name was Nancy Cooney, and she watched my pitch three times, and I called her out. I said, “You’re going to buy something because you just can’t stand there and watch me? I’m not here for entertainment.” That’s how cocky I used to be.
She said, “No, I’m not going to buy anything from you now, but I think I want to put you on television. I think you would be great.” And she handed me a business card, and it said, “Nancy Cooney, Buyer, Home Shopping Club.” I was like, “Oh, my God.” I was so rude to her. And she gave me my first break, and she got me on TV, and they ordered 5,000 mops, and we sold 5,000 mops in 23 minutes. And I remember that was the very first time I got on TV, and that’s when I knew I wasn’t going home. The day I got off TV, I was like, “I made it. I did it. I got on television.”
And It happened fairly quick. When I look back on it, I mean, I was so impatient. I was in my early 20s. I wanted everything to happen. Within a year of coming to America, I was in front of 90 million people pitching my mops on TV. So, when I look back on it, sometimes I think it was a stroke of luck, was it right time, right place. Some people say – what do they say – luck is preparation meets opportunity. I’ve looked back on it and I’m like, “How did I end up in front of that woman at that time when she made a decision to get me on television?” And it all just fell into place. And that’s how it all started, and I haven’t looked back.
I’ve had a couple of challenges along in my career, I’ve had some bad years, but at the curve, the growth curve of my ability to learn and to, I think, grow in my business, there’s been a few peaks and troughs, peaks and valleys, but’s it’s been, “We’re going to have double-digit growth this year again.” I’ve met the late, great Billy Mays, and I’m extremely grateful and fortunate to have made a career doing something that’s quite odd. There’s not very many of us. I’m a pitchman and that’s what I do, and I guess I’m good at it.
At first, I’d be a little bit embarrassed about it when I first started out I’m working the markets and it’s kind of a lowly profession. My mom used to give me crap about it all the time. She’d be like, “You know you’re a market trader. That’s not what I sent you to school for. You’re better than that.” But in the minute I got on television she changed her tune, “My son is on television.” So, that’s how it all started.
Well, that’s fascinating, and thank you for walking us through that there. And so, I want to talk about some of the learning then. When you talked about it’s a rare profession, not a lot of people do it specifically, I think all of us do persuasion all the time in terms of getting folks to say yes to agree to what we want them to do.
And so, I would love it if you could share with us some of like the top principles you think are particularly applicable to professionals? Like if someone is asking for a raise, or want someone to buy into a proposal, or get budget allocated for an initiative or project, what do you think are some of the top lessons you have picked up over time that totally applied to these kinds of context?
Obviously, I just finished my book and you can’t go to college to learn to pitch, there’s no degree. And I feel like sometimes there should be. It should be mandatory in a sales course, sales and marketing, to understand the dynamics and the architecture and the mechanics of what makes a great pitch. So, I tried to look back at, “What was the structure of the Wash-Matic pitch? What was the structure of the Smart Mop pitch? How did I sell 5 million Swivel Sweepers?”
So, I started to look back at it. And even today, we’re actually looking a new mop called the Hurricane In-and-Out Mop, and I’m actually working the pitch today, and I had one of my colleagues break out an iPhone just to tape me doing it, and I’ve never done it before. And I watched it back actually and I started to make myself smile, I’m like, “Man, I got that.” I’m watching myself and I started to go, “I’m relaxed and I just seem like I’m having a conversation with myself.” I’m like, “Man, I’m not even selling that. I’m just enthusiastically getting you to get interested in what I’m doing and just by sheer magnetism getting you excited enough about the product where you’ll give me money.”
And that’s why, when I’m selling product, I just said I’m selling it, but I don’t feel like I’m selling. I feel like I’m having a conversation where I’m getting you interested and I’m getting you to buy in.” And in the cover of the book, I wrote Control any situation, create fierce agreement and get what you want out of life.
The fierce agreement part is something I sat down with my co-writer and I am like, “If you are in a situation where you want a raise, or you want to get your kids to eat at a restaurant where they normally wouldn’t want to go, say, you want to get sushi and they want to eat mac and cheese, or you’re going to walk into a room and you want to get funded, or you need a loan, or you’re trying to get into college, you’re going to find yourself in a pitching situation.”
So, what I tried to do is like, “How do I apply the principles that I sell product to selling yourself?” And in the book, I have 10 principles and I talk about know your acceptable outcomes and obsessive preparation are things that I talk about, when to push back, to never be closing. But one of the things that really hit me today, I have this unwavering belief in the product that I’m excited about and I think the energy, there’s a certain energy where you can just pick up on my level of enthusiasm and authenticity for the product.
And I think before you even go into a situation where you’re selling yourself, you’re pitching yourself, you got to do a mental check and it’s almost look in the mirror, and there’s a scene in The Wolf of Wall Street where Matthew McConaughey does that strange thing where he bangs his chest. I almost think before any – and I kind of wish I put this in the book – you got to go in with this positive mindset where, “I’m going to get this. I’m going to do this. Failure sounds so silly. I’m going to walk in that room and I’m going to get this. Even if I don’t get it, I’m going to die trying. I’m going to leave it all in there so even if I don’t get it I still can walk out with my head proud.” Because you’re not going to get everything all the time.
I failed. I’ve pitched to a hundred people and every single one of them walked off. But then the next pitch, I have pitched to a hundred people and sold 25 units, so it doesn’t always work. But I do that smile, and that shoulders back, and that confident attitude is something that you can’t teach, and that’s something that I really feel that some people kind of do walk around with their head down, and they have that “poor me” attitude. You’ve got to shake that completely.
And Tony Robbins will talk about this, the passion and enthusiasm, the smile, it’s got to be there, “It’s going to happen. I’m going to win. I’m going to win. I’m going to get the job. I’m going to get the job. She’s going to give me the number. She’s going to give me the number. We are going to eat sushi tonight. The kids will eat sushi. This is going to happen.” So, it’s sort of like get your eye on the prize, and get your head in the mental game. So, once you got that organized then, I think, if you study the 10 pitch powers that I talk about in the book, and I can run through them real quick.
You know what, the way I’d love to do this, if we could, is, all right, so we start from a place of unwavering belief, we got this smile, the shoulders back, the confidence, you completely believe it, the passion, the enthusiasm, the eye on the prize, okay. So, it’s like we’re ready to start from that starting line.
So, maybe could you walk us through over the course of, I don’t know, five or 10 minutes. Let’s say we’re going to make a pitch at work associated with, “Hey, you should promote me and/or give me a raise.” Could you maybe walk us through, “All right, how are we going to rock each of those powers to make this come together in a compelling pitch?”
Absolutely. Take a raise, for example, it happens to me a lot. I have employees. My employees actually are pretty good because they know. I’m like, “Don’t come in, if you want to raise, you’re going to have to pitch me on why I’ll give you a raise.” And I’m pretty good at like, “If it’s a good pitch, I’m buying what you’re selling if your pitch is great.” So, I love it when my people come in to me and they pitch me.
The first thing I do, in the book I talk about, “Right, you’re going to walk into a room. You need to know your acceptable outcomes. You have to have very clear, defined, set of goals that you’re willing to, your price, you’re going to start right.” “I’m making 50,000 a year, I want 60. It’d be nice to get 57,500. I’ll settle for 55. If you continue to pay me 50 I’m going to quit.” So you got three. You’re going in with a very clear, defined objective that you’re right.
So, before you even walk into a room you know what it is that you want. You’re making 50,000, you want 60, you’ll settle for 57.5, but 55 will do it, “If you don’t give me 55, I’m leaving.” And you need to be prepared to stick with that and have the fortitude to say, “Well, I’m going to walk in and this is what I want and this is what I’m going to go for.” So, you go on for 60 but you’ll accept 55. I like that because it takes away, now, it’s very clear. When you walk in, the person on the other end of the desk is going to go, “You know, they know exactly what they want,” and right there, that to me is very compelling.
I talk about understanding the pain and being the cure, right? If I’m an employer, if my employee understands the kind of stress that I’m in and the pain that I’m suffering because our accounting department is overloaded and we’re not getting paid on time, I’m going to go walk in here with a clear plan, “Well, here’s the deal, we’re in accounting, the accounts receivable is 90 days. We got $600,000 uncollected. So, I’m going to walk in here,” now you’re going to walk in immediately with a pitch in how you’re going to improve your employer’s life.
It could be you’re going to make a harder, better coffee if you’re a receptionist. You’ve decided that you don’t like the phone system works and you’re going to answer the phone in a better way, “And, by the way, I’m no longer a receptionist. I want to call myself the Director of First Impressions because I believe that everyone who walks in the door is the first thing they see is me. I’m the lowly receptionist, but I don’t want to be called the receptionist anymore. My new title is I want to be the Director of First Impressions and this is what I’m going to do for you.”
And you’re going to literally start listing off, before you even get into the money situation. Obviously, you’re going to walk in and say you’d like a raise, “And here’s what I’m going to do for you.” Not, “I deserve,” and, “I feel,” and, “I’ve been here for a year, and I think it’s my annual review.” Bollocks to that. They’ve heard all that.
You’re going to go in and you got to start rattling off the 10 things, the 10 or 15 or whatever you think you can do to improve your odds. Write them down. Walk in with a piece of paper, you know your acceptable outcomes, and you start just going down that list of how you’re going to make your employer’s life better. You haven’t even got into the money situation yet, he just knows you want a raise.
I talk about, in pitch power number 3, obsessive preparation. There’s a high likelihood that your boss knows. I know when my guys want a raise, “Can I get a meeting with you next Wednesday?” I pretty much know what’s coming of their mouth when they want that meeting, it’s a review and a raise. So, most people are going to be afraid, right? You’re going to walk in, it’s an intimidating environment, some bosses are super tyrannical. Practice. Go with your wife, your roommate, your buddies down at the bar and practice asking for this raise. Practice the eye contact. Practice in front of a mirror. I don’t give a crap. Like, get in, practice it.
And then I talk about breaching the forcefield. Make an entrance and take control is power number 4. When you walk in the room, I don’t want you to walk in the room like Billy Mays, “Hi, Billy Mays here.” But make an entrance, I talked about this earlier, shoulders back, smile, look good, firm handshake, shut the door behind you, take your seat without being asked, don’t be intimidated, sit down, take control of the room. I’m not talking about taking total control but take as much control of the situation as you can.
So, make it very clear, “I know you’re busy, Mr. Sullivan, but I just need five minutes of your time,” and sit down and make great eye contact, look good, and get right to the point, then you’re not sitting there flustering not knowing what you’re going to do. I talk about breaching the forcefield. I don’t know if this is so necessary in a job situation.
Reach across the desk, shake hands, make a comment on how great your boss looks today, or ask about how his kids are doing in school, some random bit of information or some exchange that is off-topic that warms the room a little bit, “Did you see the game last night? Great game. How’s your kids doing in school?” Something just to make it so it’s not all about the asking for the money. Get that relationship warmed up a little bit.
Power number 6. Facts tell, story sell. One of kind of the pillars of sales is the feature benefit part of it. Features and benefits are great but if you can weave a story into your pitch, “The other day when you came in and it was pouring out with rain and we didn’t have an umbrella or something and you slipped on the floor, and blah, blah, blah,” if you can weave a story and get some humor into your pitch, you can personalize it. And, all of a sudden, your ask becomes related to something that actually happened. Keep the story on point.
You know, I have 10 pals here, and I don’t know if I’m going on too long here.
Oh, no, keep going.
If you make a mistake, which is highly likely that you probably will, in asking for a raise situation, you might be so nervous that you’re sweating. Own it. You might not be able to get that confidence, you might feel like you’re being shut down, you can just tell him, “You know, I’m very nervous asking you for this but I’m going to have a crack at it.” Own the nerves. So, if you are a nervous person, don’t hide it. We will see it. You can tell who are public speaking who are terrified at public speaking.
Rather than sit there and just shake, own your nerves, “I’m really nervous today, boss. Just to let you know I have a great respect for you and I’m shaking in my boots, but here it goes anyway.” The person on the other end of the transaction will respect you for respecting them, and owning the fact that you’re nervous. If you’re going to ask your high-profile executive for a raise, it can be nerve-wracking.
One of my favorites is there’s a high chance that your boss is just going to say, “No, there’s no money this year. There’s no money in the budget. We don’t have a raise for you. You’re going to have to work.” If you really believe, there’s a couple of things going on there. Firstly, it’s easy for them to say no, right? “No raise.” What are you going to do? You have to bank on this happening, “No, we don’t have any money plus you’ve done a lousy job.”
This is when I talk about pushing back. You double down here. You sit there and go, “Right. Let me just start again,” and you push right back. Now, I believe that a lot of people who say no the first time are doing it just to see what you’re made from, “What are you made of? How badly do you want this?” It’s quite often a coach won’t start a player, right? They want the player to want to be on the field, so that no sometimes is not a no. It’s just they want to see what you got. If they say no, double down. Now, sometimes a no is a no is a no is a no, and you’re like, “You know what, this isn’t going to work,” and just bail.
Now, when you say double down, do you simply mean repeat yourself or how do you…?
Yes, you lean in, repeat yourself. Just go back and say, “I don’t know if you really heard what I’m saying here, but let me be very clear,” and just go in again. Go for the second pitch because the pitch didn’t work the first time. Go in again and have a plan for the no. So, you’ve got maybe, “But, wait, there’s more” moment. “All right, look. I’ll tell you what I’ll do.” This is where your acceptable outcomes, “Okay, here’s what. I wanted this but I’m going to do this and I’m going to do this.”
So, I like to push back. I don’t do it all the time. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve been selling stuff and I’m looking at selling at this person who’s never going to buy. You just want to get them out of the room. And you won’t know that, I think, until you’re in the room, and then sometimes you just bail, right? The person is not engaged and this isn’t going to work.
And one of the last things I talk in my book is never be closing. I’m not a big fan of the close. I know you have to finish and you have to wrap it up, and there are times in a conversation, “Okay, so next steps.” But I’m not a big fan of the hard close. Like, did you ever see the movie Glengarry Glen Ross?
Right. Yes, indeed. The ABC.
The ABC, always be closing. A action, B I forget. First prize set of Cadillac, second prize a set of steak knives, third prize you’re fired. I feel like closing is reserved for timeshare salesman who are, by the way, if you like to close that hard, are some of the best at what they do, they block the door, you can’t get out, it’s like you’re in a maze, they turn the AC all the way, the heat all the way up.
I believe if you pitch correctly, and you’ve taken the steps that I talked about, you’ve shaken hands, you’ve made eye contact, you’ve stated your case, you’ve pushed back, you’ve prepared obsessively, you’ve got your boss nodding, you start to see the signs of, “You know what, he’s going to give me a raise. I got this. It’s going to happen.” Let it happen. Trust the process. I’ve seen this firsthand. When I’m selling or pitching, I know when I’ve got them. I can tell you the moment when I’m in front of a hundred people. We call it under the ether in the pitching world when you have the crowd under the ether.
When I was really early back in England, I used to sell this two-foot extension handle to the Wash-Matic so you could reach on the roof of your car. And when I used to sell it I used to hold it up in the air as if I was showing it to them, and then I’d move it around to the left and I’d move it to the right, and I could watch the whole audience’s head, everyone would follow like a metronome. And I’d put it down to the ground, they would all put it down to the ground, and I used to say, I tell people, “You watch what happens when I do this.”
You’ve got them under a spell because you intrigued them, you entertained them, in a way you got them interested, you entertained them, and now it’s time to persuade them. In that moment, when you see the boss’ arms unfold, he might lean and go, “ All right. I really like what you’re talking about here. Let’s talk about this a little bit more.” And you’ll find that the barriers and the walls just literally start crumbling down in a situation, in asking for a raise, he might give you a raise right there and then. He might shake your hand and go, “You know what, I’ll get back to you in 24 hours with my answer.”
And that’s when it’s time to finish with confidence, “You know what, Mr. Boss, thanks very much for your time. I really appreciate it. I just want to tell you I love working here. You can count on me. I’m a team player,” and do the moonwalk out of the room backwards. Don’t turn your back on the boss, okay? You walk out of the room backwards. You don’t have to walk out bowing throwing roses down. Finish with confidence, eye contact, shake hands, walk out of the room, shut the door, say hi to the assistant. Finish with confidence.
And I run through this in the book, and I really feel that in asking for a raise, getting a job, you could’ve gone up to a beautiful stranger at a place, a public place, you’re like, “You know what, I really find that person attractive.” All these little principles can be used to get an upgrade in the airline to get in the First Class, to get an exit row, to get the last room at a hotel, to get a loan. Most people fumble through all those interactions and they wonder why they don’t get what they want. And I’m not saying you have to pitch all the time because it’d be exhausting, but it sure helps if you can do it, and it’s helped me a lot. So, that’s the long and short of it, really.
And I tried to put it all in the book, and I really wanted the book to be of value to people who are not in sales. Obviously, I think it is pitching. I use it to sell a product but if I can help one person get a raise, meet an attractive stranger, get the job of their dreams, get into college, get funded, sell a movie script. The pitching, you think about they’re always pitching movie ideas and pitching TV shows. Some people are really, really good at it, and it’s a great skill to have.
Okay. Cool. Thank you. Well, then, so now, tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure to mention before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?
When I first started this career, I think, I thought this is just one lucky pitch on how to sell a car wash. And what I did, I took these principles and I applied them into different products. And I’ve been doing this for 25 years now and got a multimillion dollar facility down there in Florida, and people come from publicly-traded companies, come to us for our expertise in this. So, I know it works.
It works for a Nutrisystem when we’re selling weight loss. It works when I’m selling OxiClean. It worked today when I was working on my new mop. I have met some of the most amazing people in my life and got to do some amazing things just because I pitch them. And I’m working on a couple of things right now, and I’m going to pitch the hell out of people. That’s what I do, so, yeah, it’s fun to talk about it.
All right. Cool. Thank you. Well, now, can you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?
I love the whole quote, “It’s not the critic who counts,” I’m trying to think of the whole. It’d Teddy Roosevelt, right? That’s one of my favorites. “It’s not the critic that counts. The credit belongs to the man who’s actually in the arena, whose face is marked by dust and sweat and blood, who errs, who strives valiantly, who comes up short.” I think I’m butchering the quote. It’s one of my favorites. I just feel you’ve got to keep going.
And one of my other favorite quotes is Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” There’s been a couple times in my career when I wanted to quit. One thing, perseverance, just keep going. Stay in the saddle. I don’t know if you watched the movie, the documentary, the HBO documentary The Defiant Ones. Have you seen it?
Oh, it’s fantastic. It’s about Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre, and at the end of the documentary they interview a lot of very famous, successful artists, musical artists. And there’s a little two-minute clip at the end of it, and they all say the same thing, “Keep going. Stay in the saddle.” And I would say that to anyone out there, it’s like, “Do not let them grind you down.”
Winston Churchill, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” You cannot quit. And all the successful people who I had the good fortune to meet, Joy Mangano who is a good friend of mine, CEO of HSN who just went to work for Weight Watchers, Mindy Grossman is a good friend. Everyone who’s had that trials and tribulations and difficulties.
I just met Lance Armstrong last weekend. I don’t know if there’s a lot of people, detractors of Lance. I happen to be a fan of Lance. And there’s a guy who, “Pull yourself up off the ground no matter what, and move forward.” You’ve got to move forward. And too many people, I think, give up because it’s difficult, it is hard. It is difficult successful and you do have so many failures along the way, but stay in the saddle.
Oh, great. Thank you. And how about a favorite book?
You know what’s funny? I was thinking about this the other day, the book that I picked up that I could not put down, and it’s like you’re not going to think of like Aristotle or anything, or Marcus Aurelius. It was Andy Weir’s book The Martian. You read it?
Oh, the one the movie is based on?
You saw the movie? I picked that book up. I must’ve bought 20 copies of that book and sent it to people, and gave it to people. I was just completely immersed in that book. When the movie came out, I was like a geek. I was sitting in line to watch it, first person. And I watched it twice. It just captivated me, that book.
I also I think I’ve read every self-help book known to man. In my 20s I was like craving. The shortcut, I was looking for the silver bullet – The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People, The Power of Positive Thinking, and I think a lot of those books rubbed off on me, and I start reading them after a while because they all sort of said the same thing. These guys were all talking about the same stuff.
I like Malcolm Gladwell’s book, so I think Malcolm is super talented. I’m in the middle of reading George Hincapie’s biography right now, so that’s really what I’m reading today. I do it like a chapter a day. But I’m not a massive reader, but that’s my book comment for that.
Okay. Cool. Thank you. And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours that helps you be awesome?
I love to exercise. I’m an exercising fiend, and as I get older I’ve discovered that you’ve got to keep moving. And I do everything I can to at least get an hour and 30 minutes – and it’s probably excessive – a day in the pool, on the bike, or running. I kind of cut back on my running, and I’m actually entering a triathlon called Island House Triathlon in two weeks, and I’m about to hop on my trainer. But if I’m not working or pitching, I’m normally on my bike or in the pool.
Now when you say when you get older, you have to keep moving. I’m curious, what happens if you don’t? What makes it a necessity?
I’m 48 and I’ve discovered there’s three things that you kind of need to do to have a great physical, mental, intellectual, spiritual life. And one is, eat right, it’s really simple. People are, “What do I got to do? What do I got to do?” Eat quality food whenever you can. And I know you’re going to have a cheeseburger every now and then. If there’s an opportunity to eat quality food, there’s no substitute for it.
Exercise and to find something that you love to do and do it regularly, and get plenty of rest. Sleep. Sleep is underrated. Get your eight hours. You need eight hours, go to bed early. Nothing good happens after midnight. And I’m really trying to practice those three things, and I also try and surround myself with super positive people. I really believe that if you look for happiness, you’ll find it. If you look for drama, it will come to you. So, I try and make a conscious effort to search out the great things in life each and every day.
When I wake up, I took a look, it’s 70 something degrees in Florida today. It’s absolutely beautiful. So, I try and surround myself with great people and have a great community. And I love my little girl. I got a little six-year old girl who’s birthday is this weekend who lights me up, so I’m super excited to take her for a birthday party this weekend.
Oh, great. And, Sully, if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?
AnthonySullivan.com my website. I’m super accessible. You can reach me on Instagram, SullyonTV, S-U-L-L-Y onTV. If you want a little funny video or a shoutout, just reach me on Instagram. I’m happy to do it. And you can reach me on Facebook on AnthonySullivan, and Twitter @sullyontv, that’s S-U-L-L-Y on TV. Yeah, I’m super accessible. I try to be as accessible as I can to inventors, to entrepreneurs, to students, to anyone who kind of wants a little advice. I’d love to get back and be of value.
Oh, beautiful. Thank you. And do you have a final challenge or call to action you’d issue to folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?
You know, I think it is this era we’re living in, there’s never been a better time to be in business with the platforms that are available whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Kickstarter.
All right. Excellent. Thank you. Well, Sully, this has been a real treat. I wish you lots of luck with your upcoming mop and book and all you’re up to.
Thanks. I hope your listeners will enjoy it. I really do. So, good stuff. Thanks for having me as a guest. And anything you need, just give me a holler and let me know.