Transcript of Interview with Edward Harding
Dan: Welcome to another episode of Shoulders of Titans. This is Dan Lok and today I have the privilege of bringing you a true titan. An American sales champion, a dynamic hard-hitting professional speaker who is also the author of the book, “The Lost Art of Direct Sales“. An entrepreneur who has 40 years of practical experience from being in the trenches and on the front line of every economic business climate from the peak of prosperity to the depths of recession. So I hope you can hear the excitement in my voice; I’m so excited, I’ve been trying to get Ed on the show for a couple of months now, a lot of back and forth so Ed, welcome to the show!
Ed: Thank you, Dan. It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to share with you some experience, strength, and possibly hope anytime.
Dan: Ed, maybe tell us a little bit about your background and how did you get into business or get into sales?
Ed: Well, Dan, it’s at this point kind of a long story. I’m 73 years old. Although I’m young for my age and I’m very physically active and I believe in staying physically fit and exercising 3-4 hours a week – that keeps the blood flowing and the heart going. Because if you’re in business as an entrepreneur, you’re going to experience every emotion and feeling from the depths of depression to the heights of exhilaration and anticipation; at least I have. And I started out my career in business at 27 years old. I kind of took a few years; I probably wasted about 8 years or 9 years by the time I was 18 playing and being- actually I was a child of the 60s and that was a very, very free and open period in American history as I remember the drug culture began and things kind of got a little bit out of control during 1963 through probably 1967 and that was a period where I had just hit maturity as a young man and I finally, after years of playing, at being successful and being kind of a phony-baloney I finally decided I had a burning desire to become the man I wanted to become.
And that’s, I think, the first step and ingredient Dan that a successful entrepreneur has to have is a burning desire. That’s the genesis of all the education and it’s actually special education because it’s stuff that you won’t learn in college. And I’ve had many friends who went to top 50 universities and had MBA’s – in fact my brother was a brilliant guy, he passed away a couple of years ago; and he was a Georgetown graduate and he went to Loyola Law School – he could’ve gone to Harvard, but he wanted to stay in California and he was a brilliant attorney; but that was the extent of his capabilities was being a good attorney – so when he settled a big case and he got a lot of money, he invested with me because I had been exposed to two generations of real estate investors and that was kind of my goal because
I played around till I was 27/28 years old; I knew I was not going to go to Harvard, I knew I was not going to go to Yale, I knew I wasn’t going to get an MBA, I never was a great student; but I always had this ability to articulate and my father told me that I would be a great salesman. And, because of my background, I was – and I almost hate to admit this – but I was virtually unemployable.
Dan: I like it, I like it – same way, same here.
LESSONS IN DIRECT SALES
Ed: I just couldn’t seem to take orders, follow instructions or work for anybody. It just wasn’t a part of my wheelhouse. So I had to, first of all, listen to my father who had a more objective view of my personality and then I had to find a mentor who could give me the game and the rules of the road and I was very fortunate. I found a gentleman who turned out to be my best friend and my mentor for 30 years and he was in the direct sales business.
Now, direct sales, for those of you that are working for big corporations, is equivalent to selling in the home; it’s not quite door to door, although door to door is just one step harder and when you go door to door you’re just out there and you’re on your own and there’s no structure, there’s no big company behind you so you’re just on your own two feet and you have to work on your own experience and ability. And in sales, I wanted to become a professional so I started listening actually to motivational tapes; I started with Napoleon Hill and I listened to Thinking While Rich and then I read the book three times and I started to realize that I had to learn to become a true professional closer to be in sales.
Because anybody can go out there and get excited about something, but in order to get the order you have to be able to close and when you’re in selling, people say ‘no’ to you and that’s the hallmark of being a successful closer – is to be able to take those ‘no’s’ and objections and to turn them around into reasons to agree or to go along with you or to purchase your service or product.
And it’s not accomplished through arguing with people; it’s actually the opposite. It’s accomplished by agreeing with people. “Yes, Mr. Jones, I understand where you’re coming from. I totally agree with what you’re saying to me.” And it’s kind of a “yes, but” situation. There’s certain methods for handling objections, but it starts by giving an effective presentation and during the presentation you want to get people to agree with you as much as you possibly can – in other words, if you’re giving a presentation that lasts for an hour let’s say, you want them to get to agree with you or say yes to you, possibly 100 times. And if you do that, and you build up those yes’s all down the path, it’s going to be hard for them to turn around and say no at the end.
It’s not going to be that hard because they always do. And they say they have objections or they have questions; questions are much easier than objections. And the formula for handling questions is you answer the question in as few words as possible and then you ask a closing question. And a closing question is any question the answer to which confirms that they bought. And that’s kind of a dirty word, I don’t like the word “bought,” I like the word “invested.” But since I’m doing this as kind of an instructional thing, I’ll use some of the words that I consider to be bad language in the business of sales and they don’t create opportunity – in fact, they affect your mentality and they give you less opportunity to get people to agree with you.
Positive mental attitude is the foundation and then building skill by listening to the masters that wrote the book on closing, like J. Douglas Edwards and motivation, Napoleon Hill, Earl Nightingale; and I think being a spiritual person. You have to have, a lot of people won’t agree with this, but I think you have to have a relationship with God to be on the right side of things. I think that principles and ethics are very important in an individual’s belief system.
Dan: And our values as well.
Ed: The values are part of your belief system and they construct the things that make you tick and that create genuine enthusiasm which is shared with another human being. In other words, if you’re very, very excited about something and you go and talk to somebody about it – that excitement transfers itself, it actually transfers itself to another human being. If you walk up to somebody with a smile on your face, chances are they’re going to smile back at you. And those kinds of things are contagious, but they’re necessary ingredients in having a positive outlook on life and the world.
And, as you mentioned, I have worked through every economy and recession and I have continued to go forward to the point where today I am in my early to mid 70s and I have 40 years or 43 years of experience at being very successful because the first couple of years you’re learning and there’s a learning curve and when that learning curve breaks out you – I hate to say “you” because I should be saying “I” – I found that it was almost miraculous – it was magical, the results that I could achieve were impossible and the things that I accomplished were impossible.
At least they would’ve been impossible to me at an earlier age but the more I accomplished, the more professional I became, it seems like the more ability I acquired, I started out in sales and as I said – you have to be what’s called a closer and you have to be able to create a desire in your prospect and that desire is created by your own enthusiasm and your own genuine appreciation of the product that you’re selling; if you don’t believe in something, don’t go out there and try to persuade somebody else to own it or try to invest in it. Now that’s the correct language. You don’t say “buy,” you don’t say “sell,” you don’t say “when you buy,” you say, “when you own.” People don’t mind owning things, they just don’t want to buy them.
Dan: They just don’t want to pay for it.
‘THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING’
Ed: That’s correct. And they’ll always tell you they’ve bought enough, they’ve got enough but it’s a process of opening the door, getting the commitments as you go down the path to a narrower tunnel and coming out the narrow end of the tunnel to where you’re in the freedom of persuading somebody to make an investment in your product. Now, there’s certain things that people have to have and you’re always better off and it’s always easier if you can get involved in a business that is producing a product in an area of absolute human necessity.
Dan: Oh, OK.
Ed: Healthcare. Housing. Food. Transportation. To name four of them. Those are areas of absolute human necessity. And if you become successful in those fields. In healthcare, you’re going to be a doctor. In transportation, you’re probably going to own a trucking company. In sales, you’re going to persuade at least one out of three people that you give your presentation to to purchase your product and that’s the hallmark of a true professional is a closing average of one out of three.
Now I’ve been at places where I went 1 out of 10 and then I’ve been in situations where I got three in a row. But, over the years I would say that it averaged to one out of three; once my skills were effective and my presentation was professional and by professional I mean, filled with anticipation, excitement and positive energy. And even if you’re selling a subject that involves a negative situation – for example, healthcare. People don’t get healthcare unless they’re sick, right? So, the best way, I think, to sell healthcare is to talk to people as they’re growing up as I have my children. Both of my daughters ran their first mile with me when they were between 4 and 5 years old.
And I believe in physical fitness, I believe in keeping the heart rate going and the blood circulating for at least a half an hour to 40 minutes, 3-4 times a week and I do it to this day. I have the greatest exercise machine I’ve seen; I’ve been on everything from treadmills to horizontal bars and this particular thing is a bike where it has the handles and a bar that you can raise and lower so you can pedal it with your arms and work your upper body, then you can lower it and pedal it with your feet and work your lower body and I do like an hour about 3 times a week, or 4 times a week, every other day and I keep myself young, energetic, mentally alert and paying attention to what’s going on around me.
So, even at my age, I’m not my mentality – I don’t feel I’m getting older and duller. I feel as I’m getting wiser and more active. And I make less mistakes and less wrong decisions and the results of my life, I think, prove what I’m saying. As they say, ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ And I have started with absolutely nothing; in fact, in debt. And gone to where I am what they call today a ‘high net worth individual.’ Which doesn’t mean that I’m Donald Trump; it just means that I’m above what the average successful retailer would consider to be their peak performance. I have run my own operation successfully, I have mentored and been a sales manager of up to 500 men and women and by the way, the sales field today is more open for women than it is for men; I’ve had the most successful salespeople work for me, besides Tony Robbins, have been women.
Dan: Yes, yes. Now, for our listeners who don’t know, you actually gave Tony his first sales job. What was it like? What was he like when he was young, when you first met him?
Ed: He was 17 and hungry. And if you read my book, The Lost Art of Direct Sales, Tony wrote the forward and he gives a little bit of his history that he was walking down the street when he was 17 years old and his father had left and he didn’t get along with his mother and he just had to make a way for himself to go and that’s kind of the same situation that I found myself in and I was lucky to find a mentor and Tony was fortunate enough to go to work for me and as a result he created his own open-ended opportunity. And I believe in open-ended opportunities – not opportunities that are restricted by layers of – what do I want to call it? – layers of old people above me that I have to wait for them to retire in order to move forward.
I want an area where I can learn at my own pace and create according to my own ability and be free to progress as quickly, or as slowly, as I need to. And then I pray for inspiration and guidance because there’s a lot of ways to make mistakes; there’s a lot of ways to listen to false prophets. There’s lots of fake leaders out there that sell phoney opportunity and fake accomplishment and when you’re on the path, your gut gives you your momentum. And once you get on your path, you’ll feel it inside of yourself and the excitement of the opportunity and the momentum builds. But you have to have direction; my mentor, was as I mentioned, a fellow named Joe Martin and he started out as a door-to-door peddler. And he worked for a company called The Trade Corporation which was a big deal in the late 50s, early 60s – they sold a thing called the Photron camera. And basically it was kind of a specialized camera, supposedly one of the things they had used on the moon but it was an opportunity and structure – you buy the film from us, and we’ll include the camera at no additional cost.
Dan: Very smart because the money is in the film, not in the camera.
Ed: That’s right, that’s where the repeat business is. That’s the Gillette principle. You buy your blades from us and we’ll give you the razor. Unless you use an electric razor, I don’t get a good shave with an electric razor, so I don’t use them but if you use a regular razor with a blade you’re going to experience I think a better result but you have to make the effort – it’s like anything else. If you put the ingredients in and pay your dues, you’re going to get the results. And like I said, a big part of my mental attitude is physical fitness and good health and sanitary living. I live well, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t indulge in drugs, I don’t – well let’s put it this way – I try to avoid self-destructive behavior patterns. And I actually became an expert on self-destructive behavior patterns in my early 20s.
Dan: You learned your lessons that way.
METHODS OF LEARNING
Ed: Three methods of learning – experience is the bitterest, imitation is the easiest and revelation is the noblest – so I have tried to elevate my consciousness to a level of revelation. But, you know, my mentor early on when I was 28 years old, he used to pound into my head: fools create, wise men imitate. So I imitated until I got to a level where I could actually create without being a fool.
Dan: Ed, from the book, from what I’m learning from you – correct me if I’m wrong, because I want to summarize maybe a little bit of your personal philosophies. So let’s say a young guy comes to you, let’s say he is 25 years old and he says, Ed, I want to be as successful as you, I want to have a good life, I want to make a difference. Would you tell him first, hey, young man learn how to sell, learn how to communicate because when you learn how to sell you can make sales and create revenue, right?
Being an entrepreneur, one of the chapters in your book that I like, it’s actually very near the end, you talked about once you make the money when you’re in your mid-thirties, now you are a multi-millionaire making it – OK you know how to do because you’ve mastered sales, but now it’s also investing and make sure we keep it. Because sometimes we see entrepreneurs they make the money, business goes well and then, like you said, when recession hits – bam! They lose everything and have to do over again and then they make it and then they lose it again. So, would you say that’s your philosophy? Or anything you want to add to that?
Ed: Well I absolutely agree with that. It’s a part of building yourself up and I mentioned there’s three ways of learning – imitation is the easiest. So, if you’re starting out in an open ended opportunity which I haven’t seen any that don’t involve a very sophisticated education or paying the price to become successful and paying the price on your own two feet is 15 hours a day 7 days a week.
Ask anybody that’s run their own store successfully that makes money – enough money to avail themselves of a good lifestyle. And I have always not worked for material things; I don’t work for money. I work for success, I work to become the best at what I do and if I become the best at what I do the money is going to come automatically. If you’re successful, money will rain all over your head like you won’t believe. And once you learn how to make money, I think that was the nexus of your question – what do you do with it? You can buy a Mercedes, you can buy a Porsche, you can buy a Ferrari.
Dan: You had a boat before and then you sold the boat.
GUTS, INSPIRATION AND DIVINE GUIDANCE
Ed: You could buy a boat – I had a beautiful 80 foot yacht with five bedrooms and it was absolutely a great, great lifestyle that I loved for 30 years and then there came a time when I was tired of driving the boat and then I hired a captain and then I would get bored being out on the ocean for long periods of time so I had to change my lifestyle and I think that change is the part of evolution, of life, I don’t want to ever stop growing.
Today, I have a beautiful home – you know I walk out my patio and my feet are in the sand and I walk another hundred yards and there’s the ocean. I live right on the ocean. I don’t have a boat anymore because I don’t want to travel to the destinations – I’ve already been there. And I do love working out. I do love creating opportunity. I don’t create opportunity for other people like I used to. I created a lot of opportunity for young men and women for 25 years. I ran interviews everyday. And I hired thousands and thousands and thousands of people and I found that most people aren’t willing to pay the price to be successful.
They’re just not willing to use the energy of youth – there’s an old saying, ‘youth is wasted on the young.’ And I think that I understand that today. Because if I had not wasted those years between 18 and 27, I may have gone higher on the scale of success and today I look for ways to be more successful at everything I do. I don’t look at it from a framework of my own ego. Egotism, for me, is a recipe for self-destruction. The most successful people I know can step in and out of their ego. The Mercedes that they drive, or the Rolls Royce, or the 80 foot yacht is only a by-product of the success that a man or woman creates with their own guts, inspiration and divine guidance. And that’s my belief system. And it’s taken me, like I said from the point where I couldn’t run an apartment to where I’ve owned a thousand of them. And now I’m selling them off and investing in areas of automatic income because I’m 73 years old. I don’t want to have to build anything again.
Dan: Yes. You’ve already done all that in the 40 years-
Ed: I’ve done it several times and you know the first time you start making money and you find yourself in a bar, you’re buying drinks and you’re looking for female companionship and you’re doing all of those things. I’m on my third marriage and I’ve been there for 18 years and it’s taken me like I said experiences to teach me – two divorces to find somebody that I’m really in love with. I haven’t fantasized being with another woman for 18 years. And, for me, that’s impossible.
Dan: Thank you for being so open, Ed. I appreciate this.
Ed: Well, you won’t get it all the time. I can guarantee you. Politically correct is not my favorite method of living. I’ve never been politically correct – I’ve always been outside of the norm. And grateful.
Dan: So would you say Ed that like you said you made the money young as a young, young man and you’re going to the bar, you’re trying to buy affection, companionship and then the second time maybe I don’t know, materialistic things – a bigger home, all the toys right? And then, I’m curious – what’s then the journey, like the third time, what have you learned? What do you value then?
Ed: Well as you think, if I had a Porsche I’d be able to attract a higher grade of female companionship – at least that’s the way I thought. And I realized that those things don’t fix it. Contentment and self-realization is an inside job. It doesn’t work from the outside in. It works from the inside out. And the more I’ve tried to make it work from the outside in, the more I’ve found myself dissatisfied, hurt, unhappy and soulless. And that’s not what I want to be. That’s not my goal. That’s not the kind of human being that I’ve tried to become and fortunately, God has blessed me with the right kind of guidance, the right kind of membership, the right kind of experiences and I’ve grown through them to self-realization.
SPIRITUALITY IS KEY
Dan: Ed, is that why you say it’s important to have combined the spiritual side of it? So, yes, we’re learning the outside skills let’s say in business – how to sell, how to market, how to negotiate, how to raise capital – all those things at the same time if we also work on the spiritual side and spiritual teaching, get involved with God and faith – that just balances it out so we’re more well-rounded.
Ed: I believe that. I think that without my spiritual nature I would be an empty shell. I mean I might have a net worth of $50 million, but if I don’t experience first of all divine guidance, a relationship with God, second of all, love. From my wife, my children. If I don’t have those things then life is empty and everybody I know, no matter what level of the economic ladder they’re on, what level of success, if they have those things, those material, emotional experiences – they will find self-reliance and self-satisfaction and self-love.
Dan: So it’s a bit like appreciate being grateful with what we have and while still striving for what we want, we’re still accomplishing and achieving but not just like how some people say – oh if I get this, if I buy that, then I’ll be fulfilled, then I’ll be happy. What you’re saying is more, you know enjoy the journey, smell the roses and just happily achieve.
ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Ed: I agree with that, and I could go on talking about that subject for days because you can have all the money in the world and if you don’t have those other things – family, friends, real feelings, real emotions and believe me, fear is one of them – and when I started out, the fear of failure was almost crippling. It cripples you, it makes you afraid to even attempt – but breaking through the fear of failure, taking a risk, and maybe even experiencing failure.
Because I’ve done things that I’ve failed at and I have to pick myself up, dust myself off and get back on the road and do it again and again and again. Until I experience success. Once I get that feeling I move forward and you mentioned gratitude. I think if you stop and think about it – the greatest feeling you will ever feel, or emotion you will ever experience, is that of gratitude. I believe that being grateful is what happiness is defined by.
Dan: Yes, I agree.
Ed: If you have an attitude of gratitude, basically you’re going to be I think a pretty happy person.
Dan: Yes, you’ll be a very wealthy person regardless what possessions or material or what home you live in or what car you drive – you’ll feel like a wealthy guy.
Ed: Well I’ve been fortunate; I was in a business where I made money but that’s not the hallmark of success. There’s brilliant and great teachers. There’s people that serve humanity in ways that don’t involve making money that are far greater than I am. If you look at the life of Mother Theresa-
Dan: Good example, very good example-
Ed: There’s an example that I will never be able to live up to no matter how much money I make. She saved lives, she created miracles. And I’ve been fortunate where I feel like I’ve participated in a couple of miracles in my life; I’ve been blessed with that ability to help other people and to give it away and there’s an old saying ‘in order to keep it, you have to give it away.’ And that’s a mantra that I believe in and have believed in for at least 30 years. That’s a part of the learning curve of becoming, I guess, truly successful – is learning that in order to keep it, you have to give it away. And I’ve helped a lot of other people to become successful; in fact, much more successful than I am. For example, a good example is Tony Robbins.
Dan: Yes. Did you ever envision back then when Tony was 17 that he would be the Tony Robbins he is today?
Ed: No, I didn’t. I didn’t. But, as Tony says in the forward to my book – he learned something from me that went beyond being well-dressed or creating a good appearance. It went deeper. And he has greatly accomplished it and I think that when he has a seminar and 20,000 people come – those kind of results speak for themselves.
Dan: Yes. I was just at Tony’s event last year in New York. Yeah I think maybe close to 10,000 people, something like that – it’s quite amazing to see.
Ed: It really is. They pay, I think, at least $300 a head.
Dan: Ed: Oh, minimum. Minimum. It depends on the seat but I think the average is more like $1,000.
Well if he gets 6,000 people at $1,000 it’s easy to see why – I mean you can Google his home in South Palm Beach and he moved there – I talked to him, he moved to Florida – I asked him why he moved to Florida and he says that when Governor Brown raised the California income tax from 10-13% he wanted to get the hell out. And Florida has no personal income tax. And part of the tax proposition – I mean that can create a big, a very high level of resentment in life if you feel like you’re supporting a welfare state. But just remember that in order to keep it, you have to give it away and if your own life progresses – and in my case, back in the early 70s, a one bedroom apartment was $125. But the average income was $1,000 a month. And I know because I took credit apps from hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people from 1968 on. And I looked at those incomes and I looked at those jobs and I know what people were earning and what people were paying and you could hire somebody, I think the minimum wage was $1.25 an hour. So now things change and things progressed and the only difference is the numbers.
Dan: A couple more zeros.
Ed: Yeah, it’s just a magnification of zeros and I would consider myself as a successful person – I don’t think of myself as rich. I think of Bill Gates as rich. I think of myself as successful and living well and living the life that I want to live. And I think that’s the most important thing – whether you’re a schoolteacher, a nurse, a lawyer, a doctor, an entrepreneur – the rule of success is measured in personal growth and conscious expansion in terms of your ability to accept human nature and to accept yourself with your own personal failings and inadequacies and learning to improve on those.
And I think that is a greater benchmark of success than becoming a millionaire or a billionaire. I think the personal growth and personal development and love of your fellow man and a love of yourself, not from an egotistical standpoint but from an appreciation of your own self-worth based on accomplishment, based on personal growth – is what’s really important and that’s my belief system, that’s my value system and that’s what I try to instruct and try to create in my children.
Dan: Very, very profound. Ed, before we go – you’ve given us so much, these golden nuggets – I’m taking notes and I’m thinking of questions –
Ed: Has an hour gone already?
Dan: Oh yeah, can you believe that?
Ed: Seems like ten minutes.
Dan: I know! There’s so much you could share with us; but I definitely want to get your perspective on – because you’ve seen all the ups and downs from a business point of view – how can entrepreneurs kind of protect themselves from economic downturn? What are some of your investing principles? Maybe you can give us like two or three of those before we go.
Ed: Well, I think the first and most important is to invest in areas of absolute human necessity. And when I looked at it I thought, well I’m never going to be a doctor. I’m not going to go to law school and be a lawyer. I’m not going to become a certified public accountant and what can I do? Well I can learn to make money and then I can learn to invest it in housing. And at my peak I had over a thousand units that I rented to people that were not qualified to purchase their own homes yet and there’s millions of us out there that aren’t qualified to buy our own homes and I certainly had years and years and years where I was at that level of accomplishments and I’m glad that I had the willingness to pay the price to earn real success.
And I wish that for any listener, anybody that has a burning desire – that’s the number one ingredient. Read, Thinking While Rich, by Napoleon Hill, read the literature that’s produced by the great teachers of success and that includes Jesus Christ. And I think his basic teaching was treat people as you would like to be treated. And that takes the ego out of the equation if you’re doing well by other people. So that’s about what I can give you Dan and I hope that gives a little bit of experience, strength and hope to some of your listeners and motivates somebody to go to the next step.
Dan: Ed, thank you so much for inspiring us today with your just amazing story and your experience, sharing your thoughts and ideas. I highly encourage for our listeners to get a copy of Ed’s book – you can get it from Amazon – The Lost Art of Direct Sales – which Tony Robbins wrote a forward to – phenomenal book. You should get it. And also, Ed, your website – if they want to find a little more about you, where should they go?
Ed: EdwardHarding.com. They can Google me and then go to the website – I haven’t written on the website in a couple of years but there’s some things written there. I’m available to do your show anytime and I talk to people everyday who contact me and I’m pretty much an open book.
Dan: Thank you, Ed. I appreciate it. I am just so inspired by you with your philosophies and a lot of things I want to integrate in my life to take it to the next level. So thank you so much.
Ed: Well I’ve been blessed with good teachers and my mentor Joe Martin said go to the next level and the next level and the next level and at 74 I think I’ve transcended quite a few levels.
Dan: Yes. Thank you, Ed. Have a great day. Thank you so much.