Guest blog: 8 Questions with New York Times Bestseller Joe Sweeney

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Check out this week’s guest post from my good friend, Brandon Steiner. In this post, Brandon shares details from his interview with bestselling author, Joe Sweeney, including the inspiration behind his new book Moving the Needle.

- Jeffrey


I was so excited this week to welcome my good friend, Joe Sweeney, to Steiner Sports to speak to the staff about his must-read new book, Moving the Needle, which was released this week.

For those of you that don’t know him, Joe is a New York Times Bestselling Author coming off of his first book, Networking is a Contact Sport. Joe is a master networker and one of the smartest guys I know.

Following his talk with the company, I had the chance to discuss in-depth about how to “Get clear, get free, and get going in your career, business, and life.”

Brandon Steiner: Who is this book for? And, why did you write this book? Joe Sweeney: I’ve done roughly 200 talks all around the world and I realized is that people were trying to figure out how did they move the needle and improve their performance in both their personal and professional lives.

BS: If I’m just a person that wants to get better, this is the book for me?

JS: I’ve noticed that everyone in their careers and in their personal lives have one of three issues. It’s:

  1. How do I get clear?
  2. How do I get free?
  3. How do I get going?

All of us get stuck. Part of the reason I think I could write this book is that there have been times in my life where I wasn’t free, I wasn’t clear and I didn’t know how to get doing.

I’ve researched what great performers have done in the business world and in the sports world, and I’ve tried to take nuggets from all of them into a book that will help people move the needle.

BS: You’re known for raising the bar ethically and your thinking processes. How can people be able to do that?

JS: I don’t think there’s any great secret. One of the great ways to operate ethically in business is treat people how you wanted to be treated. One of the things that Jeffrey Gitomer taught me is really how to create wow factor. Usually when I speak I ask people when was the last time they were wowed. Do they remember that? Do they remember how that made them feel? The question I usually ask them is, “If you remember how great that makes you feel, why wouldn’t you wake up and try to wow somebody everyday.

Every year I create a “Wow” budget. What things can I do and/or buy for people that will create a “Wow” experience?

As you talk about here at Steiner Sports, you try to find something personal and then do something memorable and people will never forget you and you’ve got a great vehicle here to change people’s lives.

BS: You’re a master networker. Why is networking like fishing?

JS: Usually what I tell people is networking is like hunting and great networkers are really great fisherman, not great hunters. How many times do we say to people that you’ve got to go hunt down a client? What’s interesting is that when you go hunt people down they do the same things that animals do-animals run when you hunt them down, people do, too.

So, when you think of good fisherman, what do they do? They survey the pond, they find out what type of bait the fish are biting on at what time of day and they go there and the fish take the bait.

You might say, Joe, that’s a great analogy, but how do I make that work in the business world? I will say that the next networking event that you go to if you want to go from a hunter to a fisherman do this: pretend you’re the host. Even when you’re not because what does the host of a part do- their number one objective is to try to make you feel comfortable by connecting others.

You might say, “Hey Brandon, do you know Michelle over here? You’re both in the sports business.” All of a sudden what happens is that there’s an energy being sent out and people think you’re a great connector, so they’ll come to you.

Here’s the other thing I say, when you go to networking events, people have a pit in their stomach. If you really examine that ask yourself where’s your focus…it’s usually on you. If you can tell pretend that you’re the host, it instantly takes the anxiety out of networking.

BS: What’s the biggest takeaway from Moving the Needle?

JS: I think the final chapter- it’s about putting it all together in your life. When you become free, clear and get going what you realize as Copernicus said, “You’re not the center of the Universe.”

If you can help other people get what they want in life, you can do anything. Part of that process is clarity, freedom, and having the tools to get going. Then you’ll realize you’re not in business, like I said today, at Steiner Sports you don’t sell anything, you just help people get what they want by reliving great moments in time for them.

BS: You spoke to some Navy SEALs last week. What was that like?

JS: One of the struggles that the Navy SEALs have is their transition from intense training to civilian life. So, the Navy SEALs have put together a program in cooperation with the Honor Foundation to help them in transition.

One of the things that I do, as well as other faculty members, is we help the SEALs on transitional skills. One of the things that’s really interesting is I have had a chance to get close with them and watch how they train. I talk about the experience in the book and I think there are so many lessons that we can learn about laser focus and how to be prepared. Most of us think we get up everyday at work and we’re prepared, but what’s interesting with the Navy SEAL training is that less than 1% of the people that try to become Navy SEALs become Navy SEALs. But, their mindset [going in] is that everyone thinks they’re ready to become a Navy SEAL; they just have to work at it. That’s not true. This whole idea about being prepared and being laser focused- if you look at what they do is they are willing to ultimately die to protect our liberties and freedom and I am just grateful that they’re there.

BS: Word Association – Coaching.

JS: Coaching is critical. If anyone wants to perform at a high level and stay there consistently you need coaching. Think of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan…every single person on the walls of this building has had coaching. I think one of the benefits of coaching is that it really helps us get clear on what it is we have to improve on.

I love using the example of a golf lesson. I ask, “Have you ever had a lesson?” They say, “Yeah.” Then I ask, “Have you ever videotaped your golf swing?” People say, “Yeah.” When I ask them, “What have you learned?” most people will say that they thought they had this beautiful swing and then they see themselves in this video and they see this herky-jerky swing. So, coaching will help you mirror what it is you’re doing and will help you improve whatever it is you want to do.

BS: Networking.

JS: Networking is a place we go to give and not get. Part of the whole first book was to re-frame what networking is about. It’s really about serving others.

BS: Moving the needle.

JS: Moving the needle is about performance and people say, “What’s the needle?” It’s really ourselves and who we are and what we’re about. Part of this book is a system is to improve everyday.

BS: Sports.

JS: Sports is an arena that can take all of us to another level. It’s action-filled, it’s a place for camaraderie and one of the things that I’ve noticed about sports is that the whole experience gets indelibly etched into our psyche.

Let’s do this: what sport did you play in high school or college?

BS: Basketball.

JS: Did you play in high school?

BS: I played.

JS: Do you remember your best game?

BS: Of course.

JS: Do you remember how many points you scored? How many rebounds you had? My wife will say, “How the heck do you guys know that?” I think what happens in sports is that its about creating special moments in time. That best game of your high school career, you got all juiced up and you performed. I think that gets sketched into our subconscious and you can talk about that 40 years later, what you did at that great high school game.

It’s like playing your greatest round of golf. You know every shot you took because sports take you to another level where you perform physically and mentally. You’ve got to be laser-focused and that’s something you don’t forget.

BS: It is amazing the correlation between sports, life and business.

Bonus question – How important is goal-setting? You seem to have some interesting takes on goal-setting.

JS: I’ve studied goal-setting my whole life and it’s a great thing, but I think so many of us are focused on accomplishing the goal and we put together in the book a five-step process of goal-setting. The most important stage of this is Stage 2 where you ask yourself, “Why?” Why is it that you want to do whatever it is that you want to do?

The purpose of this is not so much to accomplish the goal, but it’s really to help you find meaning and purpose in everything you do. A key point to that is asking why. Why do you do this? Why do we get up everyday and come to Steiner Sports? If you can create a big enough why it makes life that much more fun

BS: Thank you, Joe.


To find where to purchase a copy of Joe’s book, Moving the Needle, click here.

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Are you the “Toast” of your meetings?

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I’m gave a 10-minute talk at Toastmasters in NYC last month. Subject? Humor – what it is, how to create it, and how to use it.

I was challenged to help the club members (who all have humor as the basis of their speaking) find new ways and new ideas to make their audience laugh and engage.

MAJOR CLUE: At the end of humor is the height of listening. If you’re at a comedy club, and the comedian tells a joke, and you’re laughing so hard that your drink is coming out your nose, as soon as the comedian starts to talk again, you immediately stop laughing and start listening. You don’t want to miss what’s next. At the end of humor is the height of listening. Got it?

Presentation skills are one fifth of the sales process. The other four being your selling skills, your product knowledge, knowledge of the customer, and your attitude.

Most salespeople study presentation skills and positive attitude skills THE LEAST. When in fact, if you weigh the five elements, those two are at the top of the list. Why then are you not studying presentation skills?

If I ask everyone reading this column to put your hand in the air if you are a member of Toastmasters, not many hands would go up. (Yours included.)

Finding your voice, and combining it with your courage equals speaking in public. Speaking in public is arguably your best networking, notoriety, brand building, and confidence building opportunity in existence. And a great place to learn is Toastmasters.

Got speech?
Got courage?
Got (meaningful) subject matter?

If you’re in sales, speaking in public is critical to your success.

- Learn the science of speaking and presenting.
- Join and practice at Toastmasters.
- Graduate to speaking at civic organizations.
- THEN look for opportunities within your market.

Topics? Speak about something the audience will value and respect you for.

- After ownership, how do I use…
- Maximum productivity
- Memorable service
- New ideas
- Morale in the workplace
- Profit

BEWARE and be aware. The experts are not experts. Most “expert” advice about public speaking is weak and generalized. Here are a few examples (IN BOLD) of what NOT to do:

  • It’s ok to be nervous. If you go into a presentation and you’re nervous, in my book that’s NOT okay. You have to go into a presentation or sales presentation wreaking of confidence. The reason you’re nervous is because you’re unprepared. And being unprepared is one of the best ways to lose a sale or an audience.
  • You don’t need to be perfect. Really? When I see a rule like “don’t try to be perfect,” I always think to myself “exactly where would you like me to screw up?”  When I am building rapport, when I am presenting my product, when I am trying to understand customer’s needs, when I am talking about my value proposition?  Or maybe when I am trying to complete the transaction? (AKA: close the sale)

NOTE WELL: Heck, if there is someone I want not to be perfect—it’s my competition. Let them screw up. Let them blow the sale.

  • Know your subject. DUH! When you’re giving a presentation “knowing your subject” is a given. The rule should be “know what your audience doesn’t know, and talk about that.” What you need to know is how your customer uses, benefits from, and profits by owning your product.
  • Practice, practice, practice. When an expert tells me to “practice, practice, practice,” the first question I want to know is, “practice what?”  What it should say is build your presentation skills daily by giving presentations and recording them. When you’ve done the recording, play it back immediately. If you’ve ever wanted a dose of reality, I promise you that playing back your presentation will be the funniest, most pathetic thing you have ever seen or heard. For most people, it’s the grimmest dose of reality.

THE VALUE OF RECORDING YOUR PRESENTATION: When you record yourself, it’s the exact evidence of what you said and how you said it. How impactful it was. How transferable it was. How persuasive it was. How convincing it was. And ultimately, how successful it was. Recording your presentation will reveal every blemish, every error, every weakness, and give you a report card on your effectiveness.

The average salesperson (not you of course) is presentation-weak. This is predominantly caused by lack of study, lack of creativity, lack of belief, lack of preparation, and lack of recording.

Wouldn’t you think with all this at stake, that presentation skills would be one of the highest priorities in a salesperson’s life?  Well, luckily for you, the average salesperson doesn’t feel that way. The average salesperson is home right after work hunting around for the TV remote instead of hunting up new facts for their presentation tomorrow. They’re hunting for a can of beer instead of hunting for a Toastmasters meeting.

Hunt for a speech. When you find it, there’s money attached.


Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of twelve best-selling books including The Sales Bible and The Little Red Book of Selling. His new book, 21.5 Unbreakable Laws of Selling is now available as a book and an online course at For public event dates and information about training and seminars visit or email Jeffrey personally at

© 2014 All Rights Reserved. Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer. 704/333-1112




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