8 Keys to Working from Home

IMG_5873Working from home is a rapidly growing trend these days. Otherwise known as “telecommuting”, more and more companies are structuring for employees to work from home at times.

According to a 2017 report by Global Workplace Analytics, 3.9 million U.S. employees telecommute at least half of the work week, a 115 percent increase from 2005. In over half of the metropolitan U.S. markets, telecommuting exceeds public transportation.

For obvious reasons, employees love it.

If done right, working from home has significant benefits, both for employers and employees. However, I’ve always questioned the efficiency and would bet there’s a huge variability from one employee to the next in “telecommuting” production.

As someone who’s had a home office for almost 20 years, I’ve lived through the benefits and the challenges of working from home. The convenience of working from home is great.

But there are watchouts.

Here are 8 tips for maximizing your efficiency when working from your home office:

1. Set up a good space

In recent years, much has been written about setting up the best office space. Some have advocated filling an office with motivating, inspiring objects that put you in a positive mood. My office has some of that.

For me, the two most important factors have been a space that can be quiet when you need it and with good lighting, preferably natural lighting. When we first moved to our house nearly six years ago, my office walls were lined with dark, natural oak wood. As hard as it was to do, when we remodeled our house last year, we painted the entire office white.

That decision has brightened up the entire space, and I think it’s helped make me more productive when I’m in there. It also creates a much more positive, uplifting vibe.

2. Be proactive before the workweek

Use weekends to catch up on non-work chores, like grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning the house, and doing yard work. Don’t procrastinate on those things because you’re home a couple days during the week.

Just because you’re home during work hours doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be operating at the same productivity as at the office.

Sometimes it’s not always possible to accomplish these items and also spend time with family, especially if you have kids into sports.

For the items that can’t be completed during the weekend, consider delegating those items. For us, the yard and pool get delegated. I love doing yard work, but carving out 3-4 hours every weekend for yard work just doesn’t work for my family.

3. Establish clear expectations and boundaries

One of the benefits of working from home is being around family during the workweek and not being away. There are many times I’ve completed expense reports on a play room floor, booked travel while eating lunch with the kids, or worked on a report on the couch.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

However, when you need to concentrate or need it quiet for a call or teleconference, you have to set those expectations and make the accommodations necessary, especially if you have younger kids.

4. Plan your days – don’t wing it

Unless you’re in a business that’s highly unpredictable, plan your days out ahead of time. Instead of working from to-do lists, put those items into your calendar.

Some businesses are more reactive in nature. However, even in those businesses you can minimize the amount of random calls and fire drills that surface.

A couple years ago I was dealing with this exact issue. I’d have a full schedule of calls and tasks to accomplish, but I’d be inundated with calls all day long. When I started logging the calls that came in, and why, I realized most of them were from my direct reports.

Most weren’t urgent.

So I communicated the expectation with my team in terms of what items were urgent and needed my attention, and which items needed to wait until our 1-on-1 calls. It made all the difference and freed up an abundance of time.

Take a close look at what consumes your day. Are you running your business and team, or is it running you?

5. Block out free time

It’s okay to block out an hour to have lunch with your family, or to meet a friend for lunch. Office-based employees do this type of stuff all the time.

When I first started working from home, I never did this. I’d hole up in my office all day, trying to maximize every minute of every day. In terms of productivity, it was great, but in some ways that work model was counterproductive. It’s definitely counterproductive to your family.

Additionally, people working from home don’t have a commute to or from those days, so most likely, the work day starts earlier anyways. If you’re diligent about starting early and sticking to your plan, there’s time to take an hour for lunch with your family every now and then.

6. Minimize distractions

Recently, a friend of mine was telling me he negotiated with his company to work from home two days a week to avoid office distractions. His reason: he couldn’t get anything done because people stopped by his office all day.

I’m sure that’s a real challenge in an office environment, especially if you have folks reporting to you, directly and indirectly. However, I’d argue the challenge is even greater at home, where no bosses are around.

With no supervision, the culprits for most people are social media, radio, and television. I’m not going to say don’t look at these things on home office days, but be cognizant of how much time you’re on them.

7. Set a cutoff time – and stick to it

There are certainly times when you’re trapped in your office, and it seems like you’ll never be done working for the day. But that should be the exception, not the norm.

Have you ever noticed how productive you are the day before leaving for vacation? Practice that mindset every day, have a solid understanding of what you can accomplish in 9 or 10 hours of work, and get to it.

Once your cutoff time comes, leave all electronics in there, close the door, and walk out. No employer will argue with that level of effort.

8. Include when possible

I’ve always believed one of the greatest benefits to working from home is your kids get to see you working hard. It’s important for kids to see the hard work their parents put into creating the life they have, as long as all of their needs are being met.

In their earlier years, they won’t understand it. But over time, it will start to sink in.

As long as it’s not top-secret information you’re working on, I’ve found it helpful to share with your family some of the projects and challenges you’re currently working through. And don’t forget to share the wins.

Some may disagree with this, but I’ve always believed that being as open, transparent, and communicative as possible yields the best experience for all. The key is open, transparent communication.

Working from home, and balancing the responsibilities that encompass it, is not easy, but it’s possible. My family and I had grown accustomed to it, and it works out extremely well for us.

If you take these tips and apply them to your home, office, and family situation, I’m confident this area of your life will work out well.

What are your best tips for staying efficient while working at home? Please feel free to provide comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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How to Never Forget Someone’s Name


In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says, “A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

When you meet someone new, how often do you have an entire conversation with that person, learn a ton of information about them, their family, job, interests, likes and dislikes, and then go to leave, only to forget their name?

It happens. But it shouldn’t.

If you find this happening to you, it’s most likely because you’re too worried about what YOU are feeling, thinking, or going to say, and not what the other person has said to you.

Follow these five habits, and you’ll never forget someone’s name again:

1. Repeat it back to them

Simple enough. You stick out your hand, say your name. They say theirs back. You say, “Nice to meet you, John.”

2. Ask them how it’s spelled

This one doesn’t work all the time, especially if they have a common name where it would be really awkward to ask.

For instance, my wife’s name is Jessica, so no one ever asks her how to spell her name. However, people always ask me if my name is spelled with one T or two. That one works well.

3. Say it to yourself three times

Repeating their name to yourself three times helps ingrain it into your brain, and it also forces you to focus on it, and not on what you’re going to say or ask next.

4. Introduce them to someone

Often times, we meet people at social gatherings where others are around as well. This is a perfect example where if you don’t remember someone’s name, and there’s an opportunity to make an introduction, you just downright look bad by not remembering their name.

5. Use it in conversation

This is to be used sparingly. We’ve all seen people that go to conferences or read a book on sales, and you can tell they’re trying WAY too hard to execute key fundamentals they just learned.

However, using a person’s name 2-3 times in a 10-minute conversation is not overkill at all.

Commit to the process outlined above, and you’ll never walk away from a first-encounter blanking on the person’s name. You’ll separate yourself from the rest, leave a solid first impression, and create a habit that will benefit you for years to come.

What are your best tips for remembering people’s names? Feel free to comment with thoughts and feedback below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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7 Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeeper


In sales, access is everything.

If you can’t get in front of the decision makers who can buy your product or service, you will never be a top-tiered sales person. Harshly put, those is sales who can’t reach decision makers usually don’t last long in the industry.

One of the greatest skills a salesperson can possess is a knack for befriending and getting past the gatekeeper. All top sales people possess this quality, especially those who are skilled at building long terms relationships.

Below are 7 tips to befriending the gatekeeper so he or she will WANT to get you in front of your target audience:

1. Smile

People who smile a lot appear friendlier and are considered more likeable. It’s a proven fact. Leading with a smile is the best way to disarm even the most stone-cold secretary. It’s hard to stay mad at someone when they’re smiling at you, even if they’re interrupting your day.

2. Remember their name

In his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says a person’s name is the most important word to them. As a salesperson, if you remember someone’s name, especially those at the lower levels of the org chart, you have separated yourself from 90% of the sales people who call on that company. Whether you put it into your CRM or have a different note taking system, make sure to write down and remember the name of the person at the front desk at every company you call on.

3. Ask for help

By nature, most people like to help others. My favorite way of engaging a receptionist at a business is to introduce myself, get their name, and then say, “I’m hoping you could help me out today.” As long as you do the first couple things right (and smile, or course), most people will genuinely be receptive to what you have to say.

4. Clearly state your purpose

The fastest way to get screened out is to be unprepared and sound like a nervous rambler. These gatekeepers see it all, and they can usually determine within 10 seconds of you opening your mouth if you are worth her boss’ time or not. Have the purpose of your visit scripted and practiced, and when the opportunity presents itself, deliver it confidently.

5. Sell them first

The late Jim Rohn used to say, “You never know who’s in the audience.” When you’re making your first visit into a business, you never know who’s who, nor do you know the potential influence everyone has. We’ve all heard the famous stories of the janitors who are best friends with CEOs of companies, so you must assume that everyone you encounter in the company has some level of decision-making power. When it comes to the gatekeeper, you don’t need to give them granular details on your product initially, but they should know what you have, how it may fit, and why it’s imperative she gets you in front of the top leaders.

6. Send a Thank You

Hand written thank you notes are really a lost art. It has become so easy to send an email or a social media message to someone, which is how most people follow up nowadays. Often times, they send the message before they’ve even left the parking lot of the company. Get some nice stationary and send thank you notes, especially to the people who get you in front of the key decision makers. Believe me, you’ll be one of the only sales people who does.

7. Keep in Touch

Make sure to keep in touch with the gatekeepers who help you, especially if you are in a specialized industry where people move around a lot. In medical sales, it’s not uncommon in a particular specialty to have hospital or office staff move to different facilities in the same town or area. Keeping connected with these people will make them feel appreciated, and it can also help you in the future. You can’t have enough friends in this world.

If you commit to following these 7 tips and acting on them, you will find yourself in a lot more meetings with the key decision makers you’re trying to meet with. Additionally, you’ll watch your sales results climb as well.

Please feel free to provide comments and/or your personal experience on this topic in the comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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5 Tips to Ensuring Your Voice is Heard

Have you ever noticed how some people are just easy to listen to? In meetings, they are always the ones whose opinions are highly coveted. In networking events, they can work a room like no other.

When they speak to their children and families, you can tell they are being heard and respected.

Why do people listen to them, when it often seems so hard for the rest of us?

The truth is, it’s not about their job title, their financial stature, or even their physical stature, for that matter. Although they may have reached a high level of success, it is the communication skills these people possess that make them effective communicators and garner the respect and ears of those around them.

If you aspire to be someone people listen to, consider these 5 best practices:

1. Hold Stronger Eye Contact

Shakespeare wrote, “The eyes are the window of the soul.” The first place to get someone’s attention is nonverbally.

Most people make weak eye contact, which comes off as less confident. The best leaders also make the best eye contact with those around them.

2. Speak with Brevity

Don’t be a rambler. Ramblers are not respected, and they get tuned out by most after their first five words.

Know what you want to say, and be direct and to the point. If people want clarification and need a more in-depth explanation, they will ask you to expand.

3. Listen ’til the Last Drop

When you talk to people, are you listening to create your response, or are you listening to understand? Do you find yourself accidentally interrupting others while they’re speaking?

The best leaders never do that, and it’s something we all must strive to work on.

Try this: during your next few conversations, listen and pause until it almost gets uncomfortable, or until the person asks you what you think. It may feel really awkward, but that’s really listening.

4. Present Solutions

Teddy Roosevelt used to say, “Complaining without a solution is whining.”

Identifying problems and roadblocks is easy. Everyone does it. However, the true leaders are the people who identify the challenges, and then throw out an idea or two to OVERCOME THEM.

They may be great ideas, and they may not be. That’s not really the point.

The key is: they focus their attention and effort on solving the problems, not dwelling on them.

5. Remove Yourself from the Equation

Before presenting an idea or voicing a concern, ask yourself: “If I had no personal stake in this, would I still have the same concern?” If the answer is no, then you should re-think what you’re about to say.

It’s usually pretty easy to sniff out how people are personally benefiting in situations. True leaders approach situations objectively and understand they will gain by helping others achieve their wants and needs.

Remember the famous Zig Ziglar quote: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will help enough other people get what they want.”

Practice these five steps until they’re second-nature, and you’ll find it much easier to get others’ attention.

What are your best practices to getting people’s attention? Please feel free to provide comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and President’s Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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Reading List: February 2018


Here are the books I read in February of 2018, along with key learnings and takeaways from each:

1. The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi by Kevin Lacz

Great book worth reading. What I really enjoyed about this book is the level of detail, and especially the emotional side, of what it’s like being an American soldier on deployment in a war zone. These guys are the true American heroes.

2. Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Dr. Tim Clinton & Dr. Gary Sibcy

Often times our actions and reactions are a result of our previous life experiences, especially those from childhood. In this book, the authors identify four different personality patterns that, when we learn them, make us better connectors and communicators with others.

3. The Potential Principle by Mark Sanborn

Mark Sanborn was the keynote at our national sales meeting last month, and I was grateful to get a copy of his new book. I’ve followed his work since reading The Fred Factor nearly 20 years ago, and I really enjoyed this book as well. Even if you’re at the top of your game, Mark Sanborn shows you how to take your game to the next level.

4. Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and your Children by Kim Fredrickson

This book should be required reading for all parents. As a parent with pre-teenagers and a toddler, the advice was very fitting for the portion of the journey my wife and I are about to encounter. Her insight on the psychology of children is enlightening.

Book Goal in 2018: 50

Progress after February: 9/50 (18%)

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.


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Reading List: January 2018

Q9KNRI9EU2Here are the books I read in January of 2018, along with key learnings and takeaways from each:

1. Sapiens – by Yuval Noah Hurari

I’m not usually a big reader of these types of science and history books, but I picked it up because I read that a bunch of smart people were raving about it (Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Tim Ferriss, to name a few). It’s a very interesting read, focusing mainly on the three key revolutions that have shaped the globe, and it also outlines how humans have essentially taken over the planet, essentially bucking the whole natural selection process.

2. Discipline Equals Freedom: Field Manual – by Jocko Willink

After reading Jocko Willink’s first book, Extreme Ownership, and hearing him on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, I’ve started following his work. The former NAVY SEAL commander of Task Unit Bruiser, which included American Sniper Chris Kyle, has a way of putting words on a page where when your alarm goes off in the morning, you feel compelled to wake up and get moving. Highly recommend this book!

3. Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms – by Tim Tebow

Santa brought me this book :), and I’m glad he did. I’ve never thought Tim Tebow could be a starting NFL quarterback, but I’ve always respected him as a person, especially for how he uses his platform to give back to those less fortunate. In his new book, he tells the stories of how he was cut from each of the NFL teams he’s played on, and how he’s continued to push through and work toward his goals. After you read this book, you’ll feel like stepping up your game as a human being.

4. The Magnolia Story – by Chip & Joanna Gaines (with Mark Dagostino)

One of my goals this year is to read more about fascinating people. My wife has watched the show Fixer Upper for several years now, which means I’ve also watched the show for several years. In a world where no one seems to be who they portray in public, I guarantee Chip and Joanna Gaines are different. I’d put money on it that what you see on that show is what you get. I wouldn’t ordinarily read this type of book, but it was a great read, and their story is unbelievably inspiring.

5. The American Jubilee – by Porter Stansberry

For those not familiar with him, Porter Stansberry is a highly controversial financial investor and publisher. He claims to have predicted the market crash of 2008, as well as other market fluctuations over the years. In this book, he predicts that America is on the verge of a severe market crash, specifically due to the debt to income ratio and pattern that exists in our lower and middle classes today. Although it’s a pretty depressing book to read, he does offer some good investing tips for positioning yourself well for the next market correction. If you can get through the doomsday overtone, it contains some solid advice.

Book Goal in 2018: 50

Progress after January: 5/50 (10%)

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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My Six Favorite Reads of 2017

Q9KNRI9EU2The late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones used to say, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

For most, meeting new people is the easy part, especially if you’re out and about every day. The hard part is dedicating the time to reading every day.

In 2017, I read a lot of good books. 18 to be exact. Not as many as I had wanted, but better than none. Some of those reads were really good, while others were a little tougher to get through. Regardless, I learned something valuable from each one.

When looking at which books I’d recommend to others, I’ve narrowed it down to six. These six books have provided me a lot of value, insight, and even corrective action.

If you read them, I’m confident they can do the same for you. Here’s the list:

1. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Having a strong drive and extreme pride are certainly important qualities. However, our ego has the ability to have detrimental affects on us as well. In his fourth book, Ryan Holiday shows us how we can harness our ego, while providing several examples of people who have, and haven’t, managed their egos effectively. As I was reading this book, I kept being reminded of one of the first leadership lessons I learned, from Trumaker CEO Mark Lovas: “Off self, and on purpose”.

2. The Front Row Factor by Jon Vroman

The Front Row Foundation is an inspiring organization that puts people with life-threatening illnesses and conditions in the front row of the event of their dreams. Through the inspiring stories and lessons of leading that organization over the past 10 years, Jon Vroman teaches us all how to be better “moment makers”. This book, which has accumulated 154 5-star reviews on Amazon, isn’t just another self-help book. It is well worth the read.

3. Giftology by John Ruhlin

I’m a horrible gift giver. Maybe it’s not my love language, maybe I don’t carve out enough time to give more thoughtful gifts, or maybe I’m just not that good at it. However, this is on my list of things I’d like to start doing better. This book has served as a great start for me, and I’m hoping to use many of the gift-giving ideas shared in this book in the future. John Ruhlin is someone I’ve known for a long time, and this book is a shining example of how corporations can reach high levels of success by taking care of their employees and customers.

4. The Marriage Mantra: 10 Guiding Principles to Building a Beautiful Marriage by Girish Kumar

As business people, it’s really easy to spend all of our time reading about business and professional development topics. However, we don’t spend enough time learning, caring, and nurturing the relationships that matter most to us. My recommendation is that every third book you read should be focused on improving either your marriage or relationships with those around you. In this book, Dr. Kumar gives some very practical advice that we should all be following but often times aren’t.

5. Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Regardless of what business you are in, building a positive online presence is vastly important. For most people, it seems like the challenge is knowing where to start, and also managing all the day-to-day responsibilities that come along with having a family and a full-time career as well. Michael Hyatt does a great job laying out simple actions that anyone can follow to build and maintain a positive presence in the world.

6. Integrity Selling for the 21st Century by Ron Willingham

On January 16th, I started a new job, and this book was required reading as part of my initial on boarding. In the end, I really enjoyed reading this book. Inside it, Ron Willingham lays out a very easy, simple-to-follow structure for leading sales meetings, and also for maximizing your effectiveness throughout the sales cycle.

One thing that’s important to keep in mind about books is, not every book will appeal to the reader. Some topics aren’t as interesting, sometimes a writer’s style just doesn’t vibe with you, and some books just aren’t easy to follow. However, I’ve always found it valuable to at least take one piece of value from everything you read.

If that valuable nugget can be something you can take action on immediately, that’s the best recipe for improved results. Knowledge is great, but if isn’t put into practice, then what was it for?

What were your favorite reads of 2017? Please respond in the comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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10 Lessons I’m Thankful to Have Learned in 2017

family pic fall 2017

When I look back on the year 2017, I’m overwhelmed with a mix of emotions.

In a nutshell, 2017 was absolutely nuts. In good ways and bad.

For me and my family, this year has been filled with change, gains, losses, ups, downs, lots of happiness, and our fair share of sadness.

Throughout the year, I’ve had many epiphanies, learned new things, and was reminded of lessons and things I knew, but needed a reminder to start doing them again.

Here are the 10 best lessons I learned, or was reminded of, during 2017:

1. There’s nothing better in life than an amazing person to spend it with

My wife is not only my rock; she’s the glue that holds our family and house together. Jessica is my biggest fan and has supported me through every business venture, home purchase and sale, masters’ program, hobby, and any other crazy idea I’ve come up with.

I’ve also learned to appreciate that she isn’t afraid to be direct and call me out from time to time either. While it makes for some interesting, and sometimes uncomfortable, interactions between us, the openness and honesty we have with one another is what I value most.

We know what’s important to each other, and we strive to make that possible for each other as much as possible.

Having the right spouse should serve as the perfect complement to you. My wife sure does for me.

2. Raising kids is the most rewarding — and challenging — aspect of life

Kids are exhausting, no doubt, and as the late business philosopher Jim Rohn used to say, “There is no greater leadership challenge than parenting.”

There’s also no greater reward as a human than to see your children learn, grow, mature, and mold into productive human beings capable of fulfilling responsibilities and accomplishing great feats, all on their own. Their mom and I are their biggest fans, and their biggest challengers. We love them more than anything and hope they grow up to be, do, and have far more than we do.

Most of all, we hope they are always as happy, optimistic, and energetic as they are today. They light up any room they walk into. I hope they never lose that quality.

3. Never take good health for granted

From the get-go, this year was marred by health challenges by several around me. My dad, who had been ill for the better part of 2016, passed away on January 3rd of this year. Nothing makes you question the way you’re living, and gives you a bigger dose of reality, than losing a parent.

Aside from my own experience, I also watched several of my own friends lose family members, battle their own health problems, and work through difficult health situations. Most of these people were what we’d classify as “healthy” too.

If you’re healthy, be grateful and do everything you can to stay healthy. Good health is not something we can always control. However, we do have control over the decisions we make, and to maintain hope that we can tip the odds in our favor.

4. We are largely shaped by our upbringing

I’ve always believed we are most largely shaped by nurture over nature, and that our upbringing shapes us more than most other factors. As I watch my own kids growing and maturing, I believe this even more.

There are certainly countless examples of people who have overcome all odds and created immense success for themselves, despite growing up in less-than-ideal circumstances. Oprah Winfrey is the example I first think of. While their stories are remarkable and inspiring, I believe they are the exception, not the rule.

Having a difficult upbringing does not necessarily keep people from accomplishing great feats, but a solid, stable, supportive upbringing definitely helps.

I’m extremely grateful for the upbringing I had. My sister and I never had everything we wanted, but we had everything we needed, and maybe slightly more. We watched first-hand how to work hard, provide for your family, and focus on the things that matter in life. We were taught to be proud and confident, but also humble. We were allowed to have fun but also held accountable to our responsibilities.

Most of all, our parents supported us in any endeavor or interest we ever had, and any opportunity we had to advance ourselves, they found a way to make it happen for us. Their love and support gave us a great start in life. I can only hope to do the same for my children.

5. There’s no place like home

Having a nice home sets the tone for many aspects of life, especially after living in a construction zone for the better part of a year.

Having a home you enjoy, are proud of, have worked hard for, and enjoy spending time in is just another motivator for me to work hard and do everything I can to produce more.

We finished out the remodel of our house this year and, as we really dug into it, discovered there was a lot more that hadn’t been done than had. After spending countless hours designing the perfect look, my wife spent even more hours shopping around for the best deal on every single product and vendor.

She led the entire project, and it turned out perfectly. It has been a great house for us so far, and it will be an even better place to host holiday dinners and gatherings for several years.

6. Wherever you are — be there and be present

The late business philosopher Jim Rohn used to say, “Wherever you are, be there.” Despite writing this advice several decades ago, the guidance is even more applicable today.

We have turned into a society of, as my mother-in-law says, “Vidiots.” Fitting, there’s now a television show by that name, which I have not seen.

No one can put down their phone. Walk through downtown or go into a restaurant in any city, and you can count the number of people with their faces in their phones. They’ve even had to create driving laws because it’s such an issue.

Technology is great, and certainly the functionality of smartphones and electronic devices has improved our lives. You can’t argue that. But it’s also created a movement where people don’t talk to one another interpersonally like in years past, and often times people aren’t aware of what’s happening right in front of them.

I’d never advocate not embracing, utilizing, and enjoying the technology we have today. But don’t let it capture your attention more than the people sitting right in front of you. Wherever you are, be there with them. Because they want you with them and fully present.

7. You can learn something from everyone you meet — if you’re willing to

As you reach higher levels of success, it’s easy to think it’s because you have more business answers than those around you. In today’s world, I’d argue it’s because you know how to ask better questions.

The days of the boss having all the answers and calling all the shots is over. Steve Jobs was once quoted as saying, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

After watching my wife lead contractors and sub-contractors through a full-house remodel this year, I can say I’ve learned more about construction, design, and building this year than I have since I watched my dad build our house over twenty-five years ago.

Don’t ever forget the famous quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn from him.” Remember that everyone you meet knows more than you about something. Give them the respect and opportunity to show you.

8. Be straight-up and direct with people, even if it’s not what they want to hear

Having worked in corporate America for the better part of two decades, I’ve seen this all across the spectrum. It’s easy to tell people what they want to hear. It’s more comfortable to avoid a potential conflict.

It’s also the surest way to lose respect from people you need it from.

Richard Branson recently published an article on his blog titled, “The Difference Between a Strong Leader and a Weak Leader.” In the article, he says “failing to confront a problem while it’s at the smouldering stage more often than not leads to it becoming a fully fledged fire that is much harder to extinguish and can do a lot of long-term damage.”

In business, and in personal life, we all have to break news to people that we know will not be well received. Sometimes there’s no way to put a Band Aid on certain messages. When faced with those scenarios, be empathetic to the person you’re communicating with, but be direct and straight-up.

They will remember, and they will appreciate it, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the initial moment.

9. Sometimes you have to hit “reset”

There are times when sometimes, it’s just best to move on and start over. Maybe the situation, or your relationship with the people involved, has become too complicated and impossible to repair completely.

Things can also become stagnant, and a change will give you invigoration and additional motivation. That’s the situation I found myself in toward the end of 2016.

Around this time last year, I was presented with a leadership opportunity within a different division of our parent company. After a thorough interview process, I decided I really liked the people, product, culture, and vision within that division. So, in December of last year, I made a decision to start the year 2017 with a new job.

Personally and professionally, it was the jump start me and my family needed.

For those who know me well, this point may sound odd, because I’m always the one who says to not give up and to persist through challenging situations. I will always maintain that position, because I do think it’s human nature to see a shiny ball and walk away from a good situation that could have been great before it has a chance to blossom.

I also think you can provide grass all the water and sunlight it could ever need, and it still won’t get green. That’s when it’s time to hit the “reset” button.

10. Life is short, so enjoy every minute with those you love

Nothing reminds you how short life is, and also how precious it is, more than watching your parent die. In the days when my dad was gravely ill and it was becoming more apparent the end of our time here was closing in on us, I found myself replaying my entire life in my mind.

I was reminded of all the great times we had together, and of all the lessons I learned from my dad along the way (most of which I didn’t get at the time).

As tough as that experience was, it also reminded how short life is, and how important it is to enjoy the time we have here, especially with those we love. I only had 35 years with my dad, and I hope my kids have a lot longer time with me, but we don’t know what the future holds for any of us.

So spend time with the people that matter to you, doing the things that matter to you most.

As we exit 2017, I know one thing for certain: There’s nowhere else I’d rather be, and there’s nothing I’d rather be doing.

My family and I are where we need to be, and we are happy. We are grateful and fulfilled with what we have and also where we’re going. It may sound simplistic, and it should be.

Life is only as complicated as we make it for ourselves.

What lessons are you thankful to have learned this year? Please don’t hesitate to share in the comments below.

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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Salespeople: Do These 4 Things to Build Trust Immediately

Some people are easy to trust. Have you ever noticed that?

Upon first meeting them, you just feel they are a trustworthy, upstanding person. And they may prove you wrong later, but initially you feel they are someone you can trust, divulge information to, and even take their advice.

As a salesperson, if you appear trustworthy, and prove to be over the long haul, you will sell more than those who aren’t. There’s no way to argue that.

While a lot of people possess the intangible qualities that lower people’s walls, they don’t come easy to everyone. If you find yourself struggling to connect with people you first meet, try these 3 tactics:

1. Make solid eye contact

Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The light of the body is the eye.” The Bible also says, “the eyes are the window of the soul.”

The quickest, surest way to build a connection with anyone is to first connect with the eyes. Hold eye contact a little longer than you would normally. But not so long that things get weird.

2. Extend a firm handshake

There’s nothing that shows a greater sign of weakness, and lack of social awareness, than a wimpy, limp-noodle, unconfident handshake.

When you meet someone, reach out, take the lead, make sure you shake his or her hand all the way back into the web of the thumb, and squeeze slightly harder than they do. Do that every time, and you’ll never have a bad handshake.

3. Repeat their name back to them

In his famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie says the most important word to anyone is his or her name. So, when you first meet someone and learn their name, repeat it back to them.

First, this shows them you respect the importance of them, and their name. Also, it will help you remember it.

Nothing turns people off more than having a great first interaction with someone new, only to have them ask prior to departure, “What was your name again?” Bad form. Don’t be one of those people.

4. Speak slightly louder than you need to

It’s a proven fact that people who speak louder are perceived as more confident, more credible, and more trustworthy. Speaking slightly louder than you need to displays a high level of confidence.

When people are soft spoken and don’t project their voice very well, it’s a sign of weakness. People don’t necessarily think you have something to hide. They just won’t take you as seriously, and you won’t make a strong enough impression.

On a final note, these tactics can help you establish trust quickly, but they won’t help you keep trust. If your end goal isn’t truly to help the people you serve, eventually they will sniff you out, kick you out, and never let you back in.

If you aren’t a trustworthy person, and you don’t tell the absolute truth 100% of the time, you are giving yourself, your family, and your company, a bad name. Your goal should be to build trust quickly, because you are a trustworthy, honest, hard-working person, and because you are someone people should work with, for the long term.

That can be Bonus Tip #5: Always tell the truth.

The path to sales success is always easier when you start on the right foot. By following these steps, you can build trust with your prospects quickly and maintain it forever.

What are your best strategies for building trust with prospects?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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How to Be a True Professional


Photo courtesy of @NittanyLyonFB

As a lifelong fan of the San Francisco 49ers, I was just as disappointed as the rest when I saw the news that standout linebacker Navarro Bowman was released by the team two weeks ago. A few years ago, he and Patrick Willis were arguably the best duo of middle linebackers of all time.

Just a few days after his release, he was signed by the Oakland Raiders. Three days later, he led the team in tackles as they defeated the first-place Kansas City Chiefs.

When I think of what Bowman brings to a team, it can be summed up in one word:


Navarro Bowman is a true professional. He will surely be missed by the 49ers, and he has already made an immediate impact with the Raiders. They got a great football player, even better teammate, and a true professional.

The habits and character traits of top athletes like Bowman can also help sales and business professionals succeed. Here are 10 habits displayed by true professionals that we all should strive to live:

1. Showing up every day

Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” The reality of that statement is obvious. When you show up every day, prepared and ready to work, you will give yourself more opportunities to succeed.

2. Giving 100% 

In his book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr states, “The more exacting the challenge, the more rigorous our rituals need to be.” In my opinion, the reason most people don’t achieve goals is not because of a lack in skill. It’s usually a lack of effort and/or attitude. Conversely, I’ve seen a lot of people with inferior talent develop into top performers, strictly because they were committed and worked hard to improve every day.

3. Not cutting corners

Cheri Huber published a great book in 1988 called How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything. Details matter, in business and in life. Smalls details and rituals, such as making your bed, reading a book all the way to completion, putting the toilet seat down, and always putting away your shopping cart may seem like insignificant things in life.

I disagree.

They show your willingness to do the right thing, to show respect for others, to not exercise laziness, and to see things through to completion. True professionals don’t cut corners in any of the areas listed above. And it carries over into every other aspect of their lives.

4. Solving problems

One of the most sobering questions you can ask yourself is, “Do I solve more problems than I create?” A general rule of thumb within my sales teams is the expectation that I am always open to constructive feedback, but if you have something you’re going to pick apart, make sure you also have a solution to present with it.

Bowman was that player during his tenure with the 49ers, especially in times when some of his defensive teammates were injured. And when it wasn’t possible for him to be that player, he and the 49ers decided it was time for him to find a new place to work.

5. Listening to feedback 

Here’s the fastest way to diagnose areas you need to develop: pay attention to how people respond to you. The comments they make, questions they ask you, and the nonverbals that are triggered from communicating with you give you the sense of how people subconsciously react in your presence.

Amateurs throw the blame back to the person giving the feedback. Professionals listen, internalize, and adjust where necessary.

6. Being a team player

Those who look at what’s in something for them really limit themselves and those around them. It’s no wonder several professional sports teams have embraced the book Ego is the Enemy and invited the author, Ryan Holiday, to speak to their teams.

When you put the team first, success is more likely to come.

7. Showing respect

For the greater part of a decade after college, I coached a high school baseball team in Northern California under is a guy named Jim Stassi. Now retired from coaching, he was one of the best coaches I’ve seen, in or out of sports.

One of the best on-field lessons he taught his players is the importance of showing respect, in this order: respect for the game, respect for your teammates, respect for your competitors, and also respect for the umpire.

Think about yourself in your daily life, both personally and professionally. Are you showing the proper amount of respect to all?

8. Always learning

The best in any industry always stay a student. They continue learning, expanding their skills and knowledge, and finding ways to grow.

Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle, whose early work was the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, once said, “Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him.”

You never know who you may learn from.

9. Putting purpose over self

When Trumaker CEO Mark Lovas was our Regional Sales Director at CUTCO, one of the best lessons I learned was the idea of being “off self and on purpose”.

Professionals don’t walk into a situation looking at what’s in it for them. Instead, they look to contribute to a purpose much greater than themselves.

When you focus on producing for the team, company, or even family, you benefit from their success. Always remember Zig Ziglar’s most-famous quote: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

10. Practicing 

In this day in age, people don’t place enough value on the importance of practicing their craft. In athletic and musical worlds, practice is a valued activity. However, in the business world, people don’t spend enough time practicing their skills in a safe environment.

Unfortunately, the practice most people get is in the setting where it really counts. In front of customers.

Make sure you take the time to practice your presentation, conversation, or interaction before you have to give it live. Trust me. You will be far better if you do.

Ultimately, most people read articles like this and say, “Yep, you’re right. I already know all of that stuff.” The real question is: How many of these habits are you living each day? I encourage to take an honest look at your daily practices and push yourself to do more of the items above.

Are you being a true professional?

Bret Barrie was a Hall-of-Fame and Presidents’ Club-winning sales rep and is a top-producing sales leader in the medical device industry. He is also the author of The Selling Edge: How to Reach the Top in any Sales Industry. A baseball enthusiast and fitness junkie, he is happily married with three children and lives in the greater Sacramento area. For more information, visit bretbarrie.com.

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