Selling Hard Lessons With Alec Burlakoff
Alec Burlakoff was once the Vice President of Sales of a pharmaceutical company, but this position landed him in prison. He has gathered everything he learned from his life behind bars in his book, Selling Hard Lessons. Join Mitch Russo as he talks with Alec about his time in prison. He opens up on what too much greed can do to you and how to quench this self-destructive mindset. Discover how Alec made a career in sales by knowing his target audience deeply and spreading inspiration as a motivational speaker and coach.
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Selling Hard Lessons With Alec Burlakoff
In this episode, I have something special for all my coaches in the audience. In 2018, my business was exploding, my coaching clients were winning, and my time was all but booked. I had a problem. I was wasting more time on pre and post-session admin than I had realized. At the end of a week, it amounted to over four hours of preparing, reviewing, sending, finding, and updating client homework. I knew there had to be a better way. I searched for coaching session management software, and I found lots of it, but none of it was easy to use, and endless hours of videos. None of it was inexpensive. Some were over $300 a month or easy to learn.
If you are reading this and are an entrepreneur, this is part of your education. When you find a problem, fix it, and turn it into a business. That is what I did. I decided to build my own coaching platform exclusively for coaches who like to track accountability and goals and do all of their session management in one single screen. That is called ClientFol.io. It solved all of my problems. My clients get their own dashboard to see their homework, fill in their accountability questions, enter their weekly goal-tracking statistics, and you could use it too. All you got to do is go to ClientFol.io and try it for $1.
This is going to be a different interview because my guest has some life experiences that I personally have never shared. He has a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work. You never guess he chose to be successful in a completely different area of business, but there is a story behind that, and you are about to read it. His ups and downs are remarkable in both directions, and you might get whiplash by reading it.
His most notable achievement was building and growing a startup to hundreds of millions in revenue in a few years. He’s a consummate sales talent with real leadership chops and focused ambition. A great combination, to be sure, but there is a dark side to my guest’s story, one that placed him behind bars in prison. That is just the highlight. You are about to dive deep with my guest, Alec Burlakoff. Welcome to the show.
Thank you, Mitch. I appreciate you having me.
You are a unique individual with a compelling story and a lot of talented abilities. That is why I love to share this with our readers. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me how this all started for you.
I started as a kid, quite frankly, growing up in summer camp as a camper. I became a counselor, a group leader and everything you can imagine. I loved being in that environment, playing ball, hanging out with kids, working with kids and being a mentor, a role model and a coach. I decided that I wanted to do that as a career. I majored in Psychology and undergrad and got a Master’s in Social Work and figured I would spend my life working with kids, helping them out in any way I could.
While I was working on my Master’s, I worked for a medical center. I worked with kids who came from broken homes, had substance abuse problems, and came from different economic backgrounds. I worked with them exclusively for quite some time. Upon finishing my Master’s degree, I went on to get a job in physical education as well as teaching some classes or high-profile private school. I ended up becoming their school guidance counselor for a number of years. One day, a life-changing event occurred while talking with one of the parents in the parking lot. That took me on a different path.
What was that? Tell me about that.
These kids I mentioned were highly affluent. There is a lot of money everywhere to be seen. That money was starting to take a toll on me. I was paying way too much attention to it. One day on that note, in the parking lot, I was supervising the carpooling, and we had a non-smoking policy on campus. I went out to a car, and it was a Bentley convertible. I spoke to the gentleman driving the car, who was smoking a cigar. I politely asked him to put the cigar out. He took one more puff of the cigar and blew the smoke in my face, and responded, “Petty rules from petty people.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. It wasn’t the only reason why I decided to move forward and take a different path, but it was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. From that moment, I was on a path I had never dreamed of embarking on.
It sounds like there was something inside of you waiting to be triggered in a sense by that gentleman with the cigar. In my world, the way I think about things is that everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to, even if, at the time, it doesn’t appear to be what you need, but it is what you need. Tell me about some of the decisions you made and what was going through your mind when, at some point, I assume you quit your job and pursued a different direction. Let’s talk a little bit about that.
I did some networking and leveraged some of the relationships I had at that school with some parents. One was a physician who had offered me opportunities before as far as getting me interviews in pharmaceutical sales. He saw me as a salesperson, and I went on several interviews. I didn’t get the first opportunity I thought was coming my way, but at that point in time, I had made up my mind that I was getting into pharmaceutical sales. I was relentless in my pursuit and continued to go on interview after interview until, eventually, I was offered a position with Eli Lily and Company selling Prozac and Zyprexa, an antidepressant and antipsychotic.
You were familiar with the psychiatry area because of the work you did before, but what made you decide to go into pharmaceutical sales? That is a huge jump. Was it the money? You say, “I can make a lot of money.” Don’t get me wrong. That motivated me in my earlier years for certain. I’m wondering what your motivation was.
I came from a family of sales. My father was in automobile sales. He was a lifer, and my brother was as well. They both did well. They started off as salesmen. They became managers, general managers, and part owners. I understood sales, and I understood that there was money to be made. Personally, I despised car sales. I dabbled in it in college. I knew there was an opportunity for me in sales, but I didn’t want to be in car sales.
In addition to that, my father knew that I had made a decision that I was going to move out of what I was doing and transition into some sales. He was dead set against that. He didn’t want that life for me, but I had to explain to him that I was going to be moving into a particular type of sale that was far different than what he had been accustomed to in automobile sales. Over time, I was able to get that message to resonate with him. I told him about pharmaceutical sales. He didn’t know much about it, but he spoke with several people, and they spoke highly of it. His attitude started to change slowly but surely. That meant a lot to me. I wanted to get his buy-in and support.
I saw pharmaceutical sales as a lucrative business, but at the time, at least in my eyes, I saw it as a business that was far more sophisticated than automobile sales. I want to tell you now, as I sit here and speak to you, I don’t think it is any different than automobile sales. I don’t think it is any more sophisticated, any more classy, any more on the up and up. Unfortunately, after what I have been through and the road I have traveled, I’m more the believer that sales are sales. The only differentiator in sales is the actual person selling the product.Sales is sales. The only differentiator is the actual person selling the product. Click To Tweet
Let’s be honest here, I know we have much more to hear from you, but I already know how high you went in this area of hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. You can’t simply call it sales is sales. Maybe it is for your unconscious competence of some sort. Nobody gets to that level of selling without either having something special, being someone special, or having developed some intellectual property that you have integrated completely that to you it feels natural. Tell me more about that.
First of all, one thing that I can tell you that I’m adamant about, you are not going to find somebody with more passion than me. Passion sells. I have never gone on an interview where in some way, shape, or form, the person at the other side of the table didn’t tell me that I was the most passionate person they had ever come across. That says a lot because everyone in sales, you would think, is passionate. My passion, I don’t even know where it comes from. It is a beast within. The problem with passion is that if not channeled appropriately, it could get you in a lot of trouble. Here I am now, and I have learned what it is that I need to do with that passion because if too much passion is not properly channeled, it can be a lot of problems for you.
In addition to that, I have always wanted to figure out how to do things my own way. I started off as a sales rep in pharmaceuticals. After a few weeks, I remember talking with my manager and saying, “If you allow me to develop and implement my own strategic targeting plan and design exactly how much time I’m going to spend with each customer or how many customers I’m going to target and call on per day, week, month, quarter, I guarantee you I will exponentially grow sales at a level that you never dreamed of.” She said, “No.”
In the back of my head, I was still already moving towards that direction. I’m a strong believer in quality versus quantity. That is the exact opposite of what you hear in sales. Most people in sales tell you the harder you work, the more money you make. The more people you call on, the better chance you have of closing the sale. That is not how I do it. I couldn’t disagree more. I’m a commodity. My time is valuable. I’m not going to waste it banging on the doors of people who have no interest in buying and are never going to be buyers.
I decided that I was going to work harder than anyone else at the rep level so that I could get promoted and get promoted fast. That was my mentality all the way until I got promoted to Vice President and then Senior Vice President. I was constantly implementing my own procedures, plan of action, targeting, frequency, sales message, and mentality around closing with the people who worked under me. This is why I continued to climb the ladder and produce results that most people were unable to do.
I consider myself fortunate. It could have backfired on me at any given time. In some ways, in the end, things didn’t go well for me. Here I am still talking now and moving forward with different plans and so forth. I have always been an innovator in the way in which I do things. I understand, based on the good, bad and ugly, what it is that worked for me, what it is that didn’t work for me, and where are the areas where I could potentially put myself in harm’s way as well as others. There is a hard lesson. My book is called Selling: Hard Lessons Learned. I know how to sell, but unfortunately, or fortunately, however you want to look at it, it is from the hard lessons I have learned along the way.
Before we get into the lessons, which I do want to talk here about and talk more about, you told me about rising to the top as the Vice President of Sales of a pharmaceutical company land you in prison.
What happened was we implemented a program that has been in existence in pharmaceuticals ever since I could remember. That was using physicians to promote our products to their colleagues, peers, other physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and people in the medical healthcare world. That is okay as long as it is done under strict conditions. It has to be an on-label presentation. You can’t go outside of the FDA-approved indication. There are certain things that they can and cannot say. That is usually only left for the question and answer part of the presentation. There are all sorts of rules and regulations that go along with a compliant presentation.
Where we went off the rails was the executive chairman of the board was dead set on the return on investment for the dollars we paid out to these people speaking. He wanted a 2-to-1 return on investment. If we paid the doctor $1,000 to speak to their peers, we wanted that particular speaker to write $2,000 worth of the product. That was strict, clear and concise. There was nothing of the sort that he wanted to hear. It doesn’t matter what it was that would get in the way of that. That was the be-all and end-all. Return on investment 2 to 1.
What we did is we began to allow these speakers to do nothing to earn these dollars, these honorariums, aside from prescribing their product. They were not on, in most cases, delivering presentations. Regardless of whether they were or weren’t, the only standard that was utilized to determine whether or not we would continue to have them speak and have them speak more was based on how much product they would write in return for the honorarium.
I want to be clear that I am 100% culpable here because I was the head of sales. It was me that made the decision to the executive chairman of the board, the owner of the company, and the founder of the company and say, “Yes, I will implement this program. I will hold these doctors accountable on your behalf. I will do as you say.” I’m a grown man now in 2022. Several years ago, I was still a grown man. A grown man should know that the decisions he makes are going to make or break him, and the decisions that I made put me behind bars.A grown person should know the decisions that could make or break them. Click To Tweet
There are a few things here I want to understand better. You were told what to do, and you implemented what you were told what to do, but you chose to do so because that was what your boss said, and otherwise, you knew if you didn’t, you would lose your job at a minimum and possibly maybe be blackballed. I get that. You are a grown man, and you take responsibility. I love that you take full responsibility for your actions. That is the true sign of maturity. I see that in you. The next question might sound a little odd, but I’m curious. I’m not in the medical profession. I assumed that this is how the medical profession worked anyway. Is it not, or is it that you guys took it a little bit to the extreme?
You are informed. Some people are completely flabbergasted to hear a story like that. Others like yourself, not so much. There is a book that came out. It is called The Hard Sell by Evan Hughes. In his book, he clearly illustrates, throughout his research and findings, almost all companies operate this way. He used an analogy that if the speed limit is 65, everybody is going 75. They are all breaking the law. Our company went 90. Because we were egregious and we went off the rails in such a disrespectful manner, that may be the reason or one of the reasons why we were held accountable. To my understanding, I and the others indicted in this specific case are the first ever to serve time behind bars.
The most important thing is that you took responsibility for your mistakes, and you paid society back for the mistakes that you made by being in prison. Let’s talk a little bit again about the statement you made before. You told me that all sales are the same, and yet when you sent me a copy of your book and I browsed through it, I’m seeing some sophisticated tactics and wisdom-based thinking in what you say and do. Are you telling me that a guy selling used Chevys on the corner in the winter is using the same exact tactics you do when you sell pharmaceuticals?
No, what I’m saying is that you are going to get the same tactics and characters across all types of sales. You could get a great sophisticated, savvy person in car sales, whereas most people are like, “That is a used car salesman.” I take offense to that. My father made a living in car sales, and I don’t see them that way, but others may. That is okay. What I’m saying is you don’t get my buy-in and my respect because you work for a particular company or you are in a particular type of sales.
You get my buy-in, respect and my attention because of the way in which you conduct yourself. To do well in pharmaceutical sales, in my opinion, and I have been there for several years, you do have to present yourself in a more sophisticated way because you are dealing with highly sophisticated and educated people.To do well in pharmaceutical sales, you need to present yourself in a more sophisticated way. Click To Tweet
I appreciate you sharing what you did, and it makes a lot of sense, particularly how you explained it. Let’s get past this. Now you are out of prison. Tell us what happened after you left prison. To remind readers, we are talking to the amazing Alec Burlakoff. He is amazing because of what he has been through, but what he has learned and who he is now. Alec, you get out of jail. Did your family abandon you? Did you have any assets left? I want to hear the story. Did you restart from zero, or did you have something to start from?
First off, I don’t want to get into great detail, but for my time spent in prison, I was inside for ten months. I was in a halfway house for nine months and on house arrest for three. The time inside was an education. I learned more about myself in that several months than I knew in my entire life. I learned more about myself in two weeks in a 5×8 cell for quarantine than I had learned in my entire life.
Prison to me is one long adult timeout, meaning as a child, if you do wrong, they put you in timeout, and they put you in a corner for a couple of minutes to think about what you have done wrong. That is what prison is, and they make you think. Whether you want to think or not, you will think. I want people to understand that, for me, the prison was a big deal. More power to them. I got all the respect in the world for them, not for what they did wrong, but for the way in which they carried themselves and conducted themselves.
For them, it was like, “It seemed like it was walking in a park.” Not for me. For me, it was life-changing, and I hated every day. I met good people. I did some productive things. I read and worked on myself, but I hated it every day. I want to make that clear. As far as getting out, no, I lost all my assets. I lost my wife. I look forward to that fifteen-minute phone call every day. I’m looking forward to talking with her. On one of those fifteen-minute phone calls, she told me she was divorcing me. That is not an easy thing, but it is something that I deserved and brought upon myself.
What I’m saying is that going to prison and doing time is only a small portion of what you lose by doing wrong. I lost, in my eyes, about everything. I lost my wife. I came out, and I was served with the papers. I’m fortunate in the fact that I have two beautiful daughters. I never lost them for a day. They are my life, pride and joy. There is never a day that goes by where I don’t fill myself with guilt for the fact of what I put them through and the fact that I was away from them for that long. Even now, they still have to deal with having a father that served time because there are many people out there who don’t look at them in a positive light, and they don’t deserve that. It is something that we have to live with.
I lost a lot. They didn’t deserve to lose anything. Moving forward is the only choice you have. I’m not oblivious to pain and loss. If you read my book, there is a lot of tragedy in my life. I lost my brother in 2013. He was only two and a half years older than me. There are a lot of things that I have seen. For those who suffered as a result of my involvement in the opioid crisis and so forth, there are no words to undo what I have done.
What I’m trying to do now is things like this, speak, share my story, get through to people like myself who were young, ambitious, susceptible to the mighty dollar and greed that comes along with it, and help them understand that passion is great, but not channeled appropriately could hurt them as well as other people that may be touched by what they get involved in.
My sales course talks a lot about, “I’m going to make you successful in sales.” I know how to do that. I’ve been doing that my whole life, but I’m also going to help you prevent yourself from your biggest enemy, and that is you. You are getting in the way because you are overzealous in your efforts. My consulting services and my ambition to speak on a larger scale and tell my story, I have already started, and I will do that for the rest of my life.
When I was in pharmaceuticals, the thing that I loved to do the most at the highest level was to get up on stage and speak to a large group of people and motivate, excite and touch. My message was all geared towards more and more. Now I need to change my message. I want to change my message, and I am changing my message. I’m still excited about the opportunity to do what I have always loved to do. That is to get in front of people and convey a message, but this time, a message that matters, or at least, in my opinion, matters.
Thank you again for sharing your story with us. The good thing about losing everything almost all at once is that it gets you clear. It is not like you have a lot of things that you have to focus on. You have to focus only on one thing. I’m not saying again that it is a good thing. It is that when that happens, you have the opportunity to focus in a way probably like never before. You clearly have done that.
Let’s talk about what it takes to do a great job as a salesperson. I’m talking about anybody who is selling anything, reading the blog and wants to learn from you. What do you say to them? What is the first lesson? Where are the things they need to be aware of or careful of? Why don’t you talk a little bit about that stuff for us?
There are a couple of different areas. First of all, many salespeople think the harder they work, the more results they will produce. I don’t agree. There is only so much to go around on a daily basis. If you exhaust yourself by putting your time, money, and resources into people that aren’t buyers, you are going to kill yourself. In the end, you are going to burn out.
Targeting is crucial. It’s identifying the right target. You cannot waste too much time doing that. You got to be able to weed through viable targets and the people that you need to keep passing over. I teach specific principles on how to do that. You want to be able to identify through focus open-ended questions their social style. You want to determine quickly. Are they amiable, analytical, drivers or environment?
If they are amiable, they are relationship-type people. They don’t buy from anyone that they don’t know, like and trust, and feel that they are friends with. You need to sit down with these people, look in the eye and have a cup of coffee with them ASAP and sit there for 4, 5, or 6 hours, whatever it takes. You are not wasting your time.
If it is analytical, it is the exact opposite. They are driven by data and numbers. They want to see it in black and white. If you don’t have a study to support what you are saying or the right consensus report, you are not selling them. If you got it, give it to them. If you don’t, they are not the right customer for you. If they are a driver, these people are business-oriented. They are the bottom line. It is like, “Here is the newspaper. Give them the headlines.” Don’t go into the details of every particular article. You are going to lose them.
They are on the phone with you, and they are working on five other deals at the same time. You got to move fast. If you try to sell them like an amiable, you lose them. These are basic things that most people don’t do. If they do, they do it way too late. They are way less fair with their focus on open-ended questions, trying to identify these particular people, and they lose them.
Another thing is closing. Everybody knows that closing is the most important part of the sale. The problem is 99% of the people screw it up because they close prematurely. They close before they have earned the right to close. You must earn the right to close. You cannot ask for the business because you think it is time to ask for the business. You are going to blow it.
Not only that, but even if you do get the business because you prematurely closed, you were aggressive, and you strong-armed them into it, they are going to have buyer’s remorse, they are going to back out later, and they are certainly not going to refer you to other people. You are not going to get that reoccurring income that you are looking for.
Closing is an art form, and it is all based on timing. I go through every single step-by-step process you need to implement in order to get to that critical point. If you follow my principles, you will find that closing, which most people say is oftentimes the most difficult part of the process, is the easiest. The customer is at that point saying to you, “Alec, you have been great. You have serviced me. You have answered all my questions and concerns. You have provided me with everything I need. What do I need to do to close this deal? Where do I sign?” It’s different things along those lines.
I want to ask you about something that I do. I sell software, and I’m not involved in the sale. It is all online, and it is only $29.97 a month. I also sell $15,000 coaching programs. I also sell a $100,000 package for those who want to build their own certification program. It sounds like a lot, but the ROI on that is beyond belief. It is incredible.
What I typically do is start by learning about this individual and their problem. I want to know what their problem is. I want to know what they are trying to solve and why no one else has been able to help them in the past. The second thing I do, which is maybe odd, but works well for me, is I start to use case studies by saying, “I had a client like that.” When I finish describing a particular client, I use my testimonials to close.
At some point, I say, “When do you want to get started?” That is my most aggressive closing question. It is about, “Take a look at what happened when I worked with Bob and Lily. See if you relate to that.” Usually, if it is a right fit and I pick the right testimony, and I have dozens of them, that person is going to say, “Can you do that for me?” That is how I do it. Is there a better way than that? Is that a different type of selling?
First of all, Mitch, I agree 100%. We do that in pharmaceuticals all the time. We would call it either third partying. I would speak to a physician and say, “Dr. Jones down the street had a similar patient. They presented with A, B, C and D symptoms. These were their potential precaution and warnings, and drug interactions.” They found this fit best with that particular patient type.
The other thing we would do is we are going to paint the patient picture. We would go in and say, “Dr. Jones, do you know that patient, Martha? She is 78 years old. She has pre-dementia. She is the one that always comes in and accuses your office staff of stealing her pocketbook. She is always wondering or concerned that she left her keys in the car. Her chart is this thick. She keeps coming back, and you don’t know what to do with her. That is the patient that would benefit from this medication.”
If he sees that patient that day, you know it is done, and it fits. That makes perfect sense. The only caveat is that particular type of sale is not necessarily perfect for everyone. It is based on their social style. Some people are not driven in that matter. I agree with you 100%. You want to find their need and pain point.
If they don’t need anything and they are not in pain from something, it is hard to sell them on something. People do buy things they want, but they buy things they need. That all 100% makes sense. I implement all of those strategies, but prior to going to the testimonial or the patient picture type of scenario, I do want to identify their social style. For example, if they are amiable and are all relationship-based, before I start talking about someone they can relate to, I need to get them to relate to me. That trumps everything.
It is the know-like-trust scenario. You got to get to know them. They got to get to know you. They got to like and trust you. That is where you are coming from. Let’s bring this to a physical realm. You and I both sell services, but there are people who sell stuff. Tell us about what that looks like. How is that different? Is it the same process?
As far as that is concerned with regards to selling something tangible, I have done it. I’m a firm believer that the principles are applicable across the board. It is the same idea. First of all, all day long, the most important thing I want to stress to people is that you are in sales because you are not a 9:00 to 5:00 guy. You are in sales because you want to have a life of your own and make money. Your time is valuable. You cannot waste it by spending time trying to sell to the wrong people.You're in sales because you're not a nine-to-five guy. You want to have a life of your own. Click To Tweet
Whether or not you are selling something tangible or a service, you want to make sure that whomever it is you are interacting with or how you gather your leads, whatever that case might be, these are the right people. A lot of people exhaust their energy because they are targeting the wrong people. Their lead generation is off, or if they have a storefront, the customers come in, there is only one particular salesperson, and they are talking with the wrong customer. Timing is everything.
You also have to understand one key thing. When the right customer comes along, and you have identified them as a buyer, that is when you are no longer working on your own time schedule. A lot of people in sales say, “I got into sales so that I can work my own hours.” No. When you have someone who is a serious buyer, in order to get through to them and make that product sell, you have to show them that they are the most important person in the world. You have to drop everything and anything. You are available to them 24/7 because they are a commodity.
You have been waiting for this person to come along. Here they are, and you are going to tell them that you can’t work with them at this particular time, you are not available on this day, and you can’t drive or get on a plane. No, you are not going to be successful. Not at the level that you are looking to have. Conversely, if you can cross off the people that aren’t real buyers, you are going to find out if you apply my principles that you have more free time than you have ever had before. At the same time, be able to devote yourself 100%. What do I do? I’m going to sell them. You mentioned you have a $29 course, a $15,000 service, and $100,000. If I find the right customer, they are going to get the $100,000 service that I can share.
I’m glad you shared that. I was in the semiconductor industry when I first started in the business. I was an engineer. I tell the story in my book that I was jealous of the sales guy who was making five times more than I was. I went and applied for a sales job. Before I got a chance to do the interview, I went over to one of the best salespeople in the entire industry and said, “Can I buy you lunch?” I bought him lunch, and I said, “How did you learn to do this?”
He was a jock. He was a professional football player and went into sales. I’m like, “How did you learn how to do this? Did you know how to sell?” He was like, “I had no idea how to sell.” I’m like, “How did you learn?” He goes, “I enrolled in the Dale Carnegie Institute and took their sales course.” I said, “Thank you.” His name was Kevin Hunt. He was a professional ballplayer in the ‘80s.
I drove right over to the Dale Carnegie sales office, and at the time, it came out of my pocket. I paid for my own training, and I loved it. It was the greatest education I ever had. One of the first principles that Dale Carnegie teaches you is to make sure you are speaking to the right person, which is what you were saying before. That was a great lesson.
We are going to transition to a different part of the interview now. If it is okay with you, what I like to do is get a little bit more information about some of your thought processes, and we do that with a few silly questions, but fun for me. Here is the first question. Who in all of space and time would you like to have one hour to enjoy a walk in the park, a quick lunch, or an intense conversation with?
I’m going to go with my gut. I’m going to say, Sylvester Stallone. I would love to spend some time with him. The guy is inspirational. He is intelligent regardless of the way he talks. I love his movies and his story. I love the story of an underdog. I have learned a lot from him. His movies, quotes, personal story and tragedy, I followed him. He had a lot of tragedies in his life. That is somebody that I feel like I can relate to, people that have not had a perfect life.
He always says that one thing, “It is not about how many times you got knocked down, but it is about how many times you can get hit, get up and keep moving forward.” It may sound a little corny, but it helps me get through each day because I have been knocked down, and I continue to get knocked down. There are a lot of people out there who want to see me stay down. A guy like Sylvester Stallone is a huge motivator for me.
Let’s put this in perspective. When you say you didn’t have a perfect life, I got to tell you something, you did. That is part of what I always believed. I believe that we are all having the life that we were designed to have, and we are at the place in life that we were designed to reach at the moment in time that you are reading these words.
It doesn’t mean you have to stay there and it won’t change. What it means is you are in control, but everything that happens has always happened and will continue to happen for the right reasons, even if you don’t understand them at the moment they happen. Sylvester Stallone, you, and I have had times in life that we wish we didn’t have. The bottom line is that we learn from those things and get better at being alive.
The true purpose of every single person on this planet, whether they know it or not, is to help others. You are involved in that, and that is the most important thing. If you are not helping others, it is going to be hard to make an impact on the life that you want. Thank you for that answer. It made a lot of sense. My only other question for you before we go on to the next part is, does this time that you have taken to redevelop yourself, are you pleased with that? Are you happy that you did that? Do you see that as an area or a time of growth in your life? That is important. I want to know the answer to that.
I see it as an area of growth in my life, but you asked me if I’m pleased or happy with it. No, I am not yet content because I am not there yet. I am a work in progress. I have a long way to go. I spoke to some students at the University of Washington. I was privy to their comments after I spoke. There were students who felt that I had not learned my lesson or I might do the same thing again in some way, shape, or form.
I needed to hear that. That was an eye-opener for me, and that tells me that I got a lot of work to do. To say I’m pleased would be extremely wrong and arrogant of myself. I’m far past that. Humility is something that I have grown to understand and live every day. Yes, I see it as a growth opportunity, and I believe I have grown. I just know that I have got to continue to grow. I got it from someone else, but I have been saying it for a long time, “If you are not moving forward, you are moving back.” I want to make sure I continue to move forward.If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward. Make sure you always continue moving forward. Click To Tweet
Here is the grand finale. This is the change the world question. Are you ready?
I know the answer, but I want to hear it from you. What is it that you are doing or would like to do that truly has the potential to change the world?
I love to speak, motivate, coach, touch people and give a message that is important. In that regard, my message is to be wary or leery of greed. That greed is the root of all evil. As far as changing the world, perhaps, I could get even a little bit more disciplined in the fact that I had a role of exacerbating the opioid epidemic because I sold a medication that wasn’t an opioid. I sold it in an inappropriate manner, did things that were wrong and accelerated the pandemic.
I would jump at any opportunity to do anything that would come back, whatever it is that I did, but whatever it is that is occurring and will continue to occur moving forward. I’m in touch with someone who is the CEO of a company. Their entire mission statement is to combat the opioid epidemic. We have been conversing about that for several years and trying to figure out a way in which I could have the greatest impact. I got some cool aspirations but saying is one thing, and doing is another, and I got a lot to do.
I know you will get it done, and you will keep doing it. Before we end this interview, I wanted to remind you that you had mentioned a couple of things that I thought were great offers to our readers. One of them was a free consult. Tell us a little bit about that.
I offer a free twenty-minute consultation. We get on a Zoom call, and we meet face to face. I’m open to anything that the person on the other end might want to ask or say to me, whatever the case might be. For me, the primary purpose of the consultation is to assess whether or not I can help them as it pertains to obtaining a level of sales that they would be happy with. The majority of people I work with are entry-level salespeople, people coming out of college, and people who are in sales but are struggling to hit quota and feeling pressure. They know they can do it, but they know they are missing something.
I had a tremendous amount of success with those people, but I need to have a one-on-one conversation with those people to identify what it is that they are looking for and make sure not only assess their needs but meet their needs. If I can, I’m going to offer them access to my digital course for a nominal fee, or we will get a little bit more intense and get into some one-on-one training. The twenty minutes is to figure out what it is, if anything, that is needed and that I can help with.
Alec, you also mentioned you were willing to give away the book that you are selling on Amazon for free to our readers. Is that still true?
It is for sale on Amazon for $25. I’m not looking to sell books. I’m happy to give that away for free. Anyone who is interested, email me at [email protected], and I will respond to them with a downloadable version of the book. It is not a problem whatsoever. It is my pleasure to do it.
Alec, it has been a joy chatting with you. I appreciated hearing your wisdom and story. I hope readers that you did too because, as you know, this isn’t a typical type of interview I do. I felt it was important to do because this gentleman, Alec, you are a standup guy, and I will be cheering for you going forward here. I want to see you take what you have created for yourself and turn it into real genuine gold.
Thank you very much, Mitch. It has been a pleasure, honor and privilege to spend this time with you. Thank you for having me.
- Alec Burlakoff
- Selling: Hard Lessons Learned
- The Hard Sell
- Dale Carnegie Institute
- [email protected]
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