The Donald Thompson Podcast

Hosted ByDonald Thompson

Donald Thompson, serial entrepreneur, mentor, and diversity-in-the-workplace trailblazer, chose Earfluence to amplify his influence for more speaking opportunities, business development initiatives, and networking with established leaders.

Sales 101: Mastering the Basics, with Larry Long Jr

Larry Long Jr is a master of the sales process – he’s energetic, he’s prepared, he knows how he can help his clilents, and works hard at being the best. And now, he’s giving back – in educating others on how to become better sales professionals, and to his community.

Larry’s weekly motivational minute

Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson Podcast. I have today, a good friend of mine, powerful businessperson and sales professional, Mr. Larry Long Jr. Larry, welcome to the show, my friend.

Larry Long Jr: DT. Thank you so much for having me. Truly an honor, a privilege, and just a blessing to be here.

Donald Thompson: Fantastic. Well, listen, one of the things that I’m so excited to talk and I, and I mean, this sincerely, is between the two of us, we’ve sold a lot of software. We’ve sold a lot of things and we’re both at the points in our career to where certainly we still have goals to achieve. But we also are in a mode, and I know you are in particular, about the give-back. About how do you take things that you’ve learned so the next generation of sales professional and businesspeople can do it bigger and better?

And so what I wanted to ask you is how did you start to develop that mindset from kind of personal delivery to now thinking about really sharing your talents with others?

Larry Long Jr: Yeah, that’s great. And Donald I’ve had that inside of me. Since a young child, I grew up in VA medical centers. My father worked in recreational therapy, serving our veterans. And he made it a point.

My father grew up in the projects of Baltimore City, only one from his family to graduate high school. He made it a point that it’s our responsibility when we’re fortunate, when we’re blessed, that you have to give back. And if you don’t, shame on you. So I’ve always had that, but I haven’t always been in a position where I could really share that, share those insights, spread the resource. Whether it was financial, whether it was just knowledge, but now I’ve been fortunate where I’m in a position where I can help others. So in terms of being an individual contributor and doing it kind of on your own, carrying the bag versus serving as a leader, whether it’s internal, whether it’s external in your local community, whether it’s in the sales and entrepreneurial community as a whole.

That’s my “Why?”  Martin Luther King Jr. says it best; “Life’s most urgent and persistent question is, what are you doing to help others?” So when I wake up, I asked myself, I look in the mirror and I say, “Larry, what are you doing?” Not, “What are you thinking?” Not, “What are you hoping and wishing and dreaming?” But, “What are you doing? What actions are you taking today to help someone else out?”

So it really that’s what I strive for every day through my actions is to help others, whether it’s through conversation, whether it’s through the reach, reach into my pocket and support a business or support an individual financially to accomplish their goals. That’s really what I’m seeking to do.

Donald Thompson: Oh, that’s powerful. And I think just in that one to two minutes gives our audience a reason to listen to you more than just the financial, right? There’s, there’s a motivation and the meaning, that drives you. And I think that’s really, really important. And that segues to my next question, being a sales professional, most people can look at things in terms of, “You know, I want to make a lot of money. I want to have a big commission check and different things.” But what are some of the characteristics that you find in people that are successful in that professional game of being a salesperson?

Larry Long Jr: Yeah. In terms of that consistency long-term success. So I’ve seen folks, and I call them “Me-Monsters” that are able to kind of, kind of find their way they have success here and there, but they’re not going to consistently perform, and perform at a high level and do it the right way. So we’ve all seen that folks in organizations can do things the wrong way and still come out on top. It happens. But, that, I can’t sleep at night if I’m not doing things the right way. So really what I look for, for a rep, it’s very simple.

It’s a servant mindset of wanting to serve and help others. Now that’s balanced out by business objectives. We’re in business to make a profit, to be able to take care of our families, our obligations, and to be able to make a nice living. The money, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make money, but if that’s at the core, if that’s your true “North,” what I found and what I’ve experienced is it’s going to be tough to consistently have that success.

I have an acronym that I call, “EPIC.” And, I’ve added a couple of C’S to the E-P-I-C, but very quickly, “E” is the “Entrepreneurial Spirit.” You might get a paycheck from whatever organization you work for, but if you don’t take that ownership like an entrepreneur does, and realize you’re going to get out of it what you put into it, good luck. The “P” is “Preparation and Planning.” If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. And I think Alan Iverson said it best, “Are we talking about practice?” Yes. We’re talking about practice Allen, not the game, because if you don’t practice, you’re not going to be ready for the game.

The “I” is “Internal Drive and Desire In Life.” If you’re doing it right, you’re going to get hit with obstacles. Those folks that I want on my team are those that find a way over them, find a way around those obstacles, find a way under; dig a tunnel if you have to. And if you have to, as a last resort, I call it the punch out.

Boom, I’m going right through it to find that way to success. The “C” is “Communication.” “Can you hear me now?” And so much of communication, and it’s by design, we’ve been blessed with two ears and one mouth for a reason, you’ve got to listen. How are you going to understand the needs, the wants, the desires, the challenges, hopes, dreams, and aspirations of others if you don’t listen?

Now also with “C”, you’ve got “Care.” Do you? It’s, I call it the, “Give a dag, dag-on factor.” The, “Give a damn factor.” To be honest with you. Do you actually care? Are you curious? And are you confident? So that’s what I look for. I mean, there’s other things.

Do you have a positive attitude? Do you have integrity without compromise? But at the core, are you trying to serve a purpose that’s greater than that person in the mirror? I think Young Jeezy, he’s got a song called “Go-Getter.” I love Go-Getters, but I really love a Go-Giver. I’m going to go out and give as much as I cannot expecting anything in return.

It’s just amazing. I know everyone wants that magical pixie dust. They want that silver bullet. When you give, it’s magical how things just seem to happen for you from my experience. I can’t, I can’t speak for everybody, but I know from my experience, the more you give, it’s kind of like, “TEDx 20 X” in terms of what you receive.

Donald Thompson: No, that’s powerful. I want to extend on that a little bit, because when you’re thinking about sales, you do think about “go get.” And what are some of the specific elements where giving makes sense in this professional space? And one of those things is knowledge. What our clients are looking for is they want to make the right decision to buy a product or a service from a company that will help them meet their goals?

And so a lot of times in this arena where we’re dealing with the erosion of trust, you have to give people a taste of what your product and service can do for them. You have to have a working lunch with their team and really whiteboard out how your product, your service, your programming, if you will, can help them meet their objectives. And then once you give them a little piece of that knowledge, a little piece of that perspective go forward, now they can have a better ability to not only trust, but be a champion inside their organization to help you be selected. And so that giving of time and knowledge can also be done with a purpose in terms of furthering that, that sales cycle.

So I think that’s really, really important what, what you’re describing. Larry, when we think about the brass tacks of being good as a business owner and entrepreneur and sales professional, a lot of people chase ghost deals. Right? They think they have a full pipeline of 20, 30, 40 deals and they spend time on all of these different organizations when really they’ve got five to seven leads that really matter. What are some of the things that you teach and recommend when people are looking at how to spend your time and what prospects and opportunities to really work on?

Larry Long Jr: You made a great point. And we call those “suspects” not prospects. And so many times I think the saying is, “Sales reps can wear the rose-colored glasses where, oh, everything is rosy.”

And that paints a pretty picture, but it’s not reality. Reality is when you ask the tough questions, “Are we going to be working together?” And then you shut up and listen. And you listen for not just what the prospect says, but even more importantly, how they say it. I love Zoom, go-to meeting, where I can see the expression, especially in today, where we’re not meeting in person where I can see the expression.

Do they say it with confidence that, “Yes. We’re going to be working together.” “Are you my champion?” That’s a simple question. And I’m putting a question mark at the end and I’m shutting up. “Are you my champion?” If the answer is yes, I’m going to follow it up, follow it up. “Well, how? How do we get this done? What are the internal politics within your org?”

“Hey, tell me this. What could derail this?” Let let’s just say, I mean, who would have thunk that we would be in a pandemic? Where are we going on seven months now where we’ve been in quarantine? Who would have thought of it? But essentially I need to ask and Tony Robbins, I, I love these motivational speakers.

Tony Robbins says, “The most successful people ask the toughest questions.” Therefore they get the toughest answers in return. And a lot of it is not just the questions that we ask of our prospects, but a lot of it is the questions that we ask of ourselves, “Why am I holding on to 20 deals when only 5 are real? It is it, is it a security blanket? Am I a hoarder?”

And essentially, can I teach myself the discipline to manage my time and respect my time that, “Hey, these 15 deals, I’m wasting my time, their time, my energy, my resource. And I could be focused on so much more if I just let it go.” Kind of like Frozen I’ve got, I’ve got a seven-year-old daughter so Let It Go is on my mind. If I just let those 15 go, it now gives me the space where I can accept more legitimate prospects into my pipeline.

Donald Thompson: Yup. No, I think you make a lot of powerful points. And I think, you know, in my experience, one of the reasons people chase ghost deals is they actually don’t understand the full cycle of how people buy.

And one of the things in our sales careers, and I’d like to hear your perspective on it. People don’t spend significant amounts of money unless there is a very clear payback that they can see and measure, or there’s a very clear pain that they want to eliminate. Right? And so what I’d like to ask you is, how do you work with, and how do you think about right, creating that compelling narrative for people to make that buying decision?

Larry Long Jr: Yeah. It comes down to the questions. It comes down to that business acumen and stepping into, I think they call it empathy, stepping into the shoes of your buyer. And most, most times it’s buyers, it’s not just one buyer. It’s the unit. So you’ve got your champion, you’ve got the person that has the checkbook, you’ve got the influencers. And if you don’t have a people map and understand the dynamics, you’re going to be flying blind. And a lot of times you’re going to be surprised, “Whoa, I didn’t even know that was a consideration,” because you didn’t ask the question.

You didn’t talk in with the prospect and, and there’s a saying of, “We’re sitting across the table versus I want to be sitting on that side of the table.” Where I’m a partner and not essentially across the table where it’s like, “Whoa, we, we, we’re not really sure if we can trust this guy. We’re not really sure if he has our best interests. We’re not even sure if he understands what our mission, our vision, our goals and objectives are.”

So if you’re in that place where you don’t know, K-N -O-W, you’re probably going to end up with a no; a N-O because of that. And these are things that we can control on our side. And I look at it as, if I’m a true sales professional, there are certain things that I do that others who might have the title of sales, but they’re not true professionals.

And these are skills that I can be working on, on each and every, each and every day, honestly. That the skill of asking targeted questions.

Donald Thompson: Yep.

Larry Long Jr: The skill of researching to understand what keeps that CEO up at night. What are the trends and where are we heading in 2021 and beyond within the industry so that I can now become an expert and I can deliver value as I tuck in within their organization?

And I essentially put on the camouflage. I put on the uniform of the organization to show them that I’m serving their best interests. And I’m not, some people call it, “Commission Breath,” and you can smell it from a mile away where it’s like, “Hmm, something is a little bit fishy here. This guy doesn’t really care about us. He’s, he’s caring about that little commission or that big commission check that’s coming. We’re going to hold off.”

Donald Thompson: No, I think you mentioned a lot of good points. I want to, I want you to expand upon the research. Because one of the things that you talked about is doing your homework so that you really understand the buying and the buying signals for a CEO, the pressures of that leader, and the opportunities that leader wants to take advantage. So give me a little bit more on how you research companies and organizations and people before you actually go into that, that sales situation.

Larry Long Jr: We’re, we’re dealing with it right now. My current organization, Teamworks, the CEOs of athletic departments are the athletic directors.

The pressures that they’re facing right now: budget cuts, budget furloughs, student athlete safety, mental health awareness, name image likeness. I mean, the list goes on and on. And we were able to find that the internet is a beautiful thing. It’s one of those things where today you can find almost any answer to any question that you’re looking for. But in addition to that, supplementing it by speaking to industry experts. By speaking to prospects, our current client base is one of the richest, just gold mines of nuggets. In terms of what’s on the mind of senior administration of athletic directors, of presidents of these institutions.

And it’s essentially asking the question in the spirit of, we want to help this community of athletics. So it’s really taking that initiative. It’s not the field of dreams of, “If you build it, they will come.” You’ve got to be intentional and you’ve got to be targeted with, uh, you mentioned it before, with a purpose.

Why are you asking me these questions? Well, you see what happened was I want to serve other athletic directors. My why is to empower and engage student athletes. And the way we do that is through the athletic department. And the way we do that is through the athletic director. So, I mean, our approach has changed.

We now go straight to the CEO instead of working at the team level director of ops, we’re now talking to the CEO and we’re understanding the problems that they’re faced. We’re now presenting the ROI. And when I say ROI, it’s hard costs. They want to know when you’re looking at numbers with a CFO and an athletic director, they want to know the hard cost savings.

The hard cost opportunity of increased revenues because they’re in a tough spot right now. They, the current environment, if you were just to rewind nine months, 10 months ago, there were a lot of institutions and organizations sitting pretty where there’s a little, actually let’s keep it real, a lot of waste going on.

We’ll just throw people at it. Well, that’s all evaporated. That’s all, it’s now all a dream where now they’ve got to look at each and every dollar that’s being spent and they’ve got to look at what’s the return on that investment. And essentially they’re making tough decisions. We can cut our software stack, or we can cut our people.

That’s a tough call. There are some trade-offs going on, but for us, if we don’t understand the environment, if we’re not sensitive to it, if we’re not flexible because every institution is different, we’re not going to have success. We’re going to lose credibility. And there’s a saying Donald,  “Say, do.” Your “say-do ratio.”

If I tell you I’m going to do something and I do it, I now get a notch-up in terms of that trust. If I tell you I’m going to do something and then I let it slip, uh-oh, that’s now a “Say-Dudu ratio” and that’s not a good place to be as a professional.

Donald Thompson: No, it was powerful. One of the things a friend of mine, Keith Pigues, wrote a book. He’s a former CMO and a very strong consultant. And one of his key phrases is, “Does your customer make more money because they selected you?” Powerful. That is something that I keep in mind across all the different businesses that I’m involved in, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s entertainment in athletics, whether that is technology, right? When we’re looking at presenting a buying opportunity for a client, do they make more money by choosing Walk West, our marketing firm. Do they make more money by choosing the diversity movement, our DEI practice? Right? And at the end of the day, business drivers need to have some level of financial outcome. And I think it’s important that sales professionals are very fluid in speaking the language of not only the CEO, but the financial decision maker.

Right? That is really under a lot of pressure like you described to do a lot with a little. And so I think, you know, what, what you’re saying makes, makes a lot of sense and it’s really powerful. One of the things Larry, when I talk with you, I always hear you quoting from other leaders from things that you’ve read and that just doesn’t happen overnight. How much time do you spend in self-education? In, in studying, in personal growth so that you can stay sharp so that you can stay on the cutting edge of, of what you do as an entrepreneur, but also as a sales professional?

Larry Long Jr: Great question. It never stops. And I’m very intentional with trying to fill my brain with knowledge from other folks. It’s, there, there’s two ways, eh, there’s a lot of ways you can learn, but there’s two main ways: you can learn from mistakes that you make on your own, and I’ve got a lot of dents in my head from a lot of brick walls that I ran into, or you can learn from mentors and/or many mentors who’ve made those mistakes on your behalf.

That’s the power of books. I mean, I’m looking at the books that I have just surrounding me. There’s so many lessons from those books. There are so many lessons from conversations. I mean, I’ve got hundreds of mini-mentors. Of, of folks that there’s a time in a season where I can call on them for insights on specific areas that I need assistance with.

One thing that I’ve learned is you’ve got to drop the ego, Larry. Back in the day, and I still struggle with it, “Oh, I got this. I’m a superhero. Oh I’m, saying it with my chest.” No, Larry. Drop the ego. Don’t be dumb. Drop it and ask for help because other people, they want to help. But if you don’t ask, they don’t even have that opportunity.

So when you talk about education, you talk about personal growth. And when I think about personal growth, it’s really mind, body, and soul making sure, it’s kind of like when we were able to fly, they tell you if we lose cabin pressure, you better put your oxygen on first. Or else you’re not going to be able to have that opportunity to put oxygen on anyone else.

It’s absolutely vital. I call it the “care factor.” So it’s caring about others, but if you truly care about others, you’re going to care about yourself and make sure you’re in the best position to be able to enable and help others. That comes with intentionality. You talked about time management. If you show me your calendar, this for almost anyone, if I look at your calendar, I can tell you what’s important to you.

Is it your faith? Is it your family? Is it your fitness? For me, is it fun? I love to have fun. Is it your finances? Is it your philanthropy? Which, if I didn’t know how to spell, I would think that started with an F as well, but essentially what’s important to you. And there’s trade-offs. Sometimes you got to make a trade off on fitness.

It’s not good, but sometimes there’s a time and a reason and a purpose behind it. Sometimes you have to get creative. Put that creative cap on and you can combine things. So essentially I’m doing work sometimes while I’m also engaging with the family. Now people say, you can’t multi-task and you’re absolutely right.

The studies, the data shows that you can’t. But, if I have two competing things I need to do, I’m going to try my best to do them both at the same time. So there’s a lot that’s there. Essentially, your personal development is directly impactful on your professional development, your professional growth, and your professional performance, which is what we’re all gunning for.

Donald Thompson: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I think, you know, if you think about high-level athletes, if you think about high level business leaders, high level entertainers, their professional development is something they took personal responsibility for. Right? You can work for a company and they have training.

You can work for a company and you have a mentor and a coach, but at the end of the day, it’s what you do often, right, after six o’clock. What do you do in those late evenings? What do you do on the weekend? Right? To make sure that you stay sharp on the cutting edge. That is the difference between being good and having massive success. And that personal responsibility for your own growth and success is really important, which brings me to my next kind of question, if you will.

One of the things that we partnered on together and, and you’ve worked with creative allies and, and taking the lead in a very powerful way. As you’re helping build out a sales course, titled very simply, Sales 101: The Basics. Tell me a little bit about that project.

Larry Long Jr: Donald, this is, you’re bringing a big old smile to my face because this is absolutely phenomenal. And, and I mean, I get excited about a lot of things, but I’m super excited to be delivering an on-demand, online, Sales 101: The Basics. And when you think about it, you’ve talked about sports. You look at Kobe Bryant, the Mamba mentality, it’s mastering the basics. You look at some of the most successful people, athletes, entertainers, politicians, and it’s essentially it’s mastering the ABC’s and doing it ad nauseum.

It’s kind of like, I played baseball at University of Maryland and since I took plenty of hacks off the tee, I, I don’t leave home without my bat. I got the pink bat celebrating breast cancer, but back to the course. I mean, we’re bringing knowledge. We’re, we’re bringing resource to those sales professionals that are looking to elevate and step their game up.

And when I think about the basics, I think of our modules. I think about the time management. It starts with where you spend your time. If you don’t manage your day, your day will manage you. And that’s not a good place to be. Number two, I think about discovery. I think about prospecting.

I think about negotiating, I think about demoing, I think about closing and that entire sales process. And those are the skills that we can control. So I look at it and I’m a big basketball fan. Russell Westbrook, he’s just ferocious. He averaged a triple-double three seasons in a row. It’s like, come on man.

But during the off season, he’s still working on his game. It’s like, wow, this guy’s a superstar, triple-double three seasons in a row. And he’s still looking to take his game to the next level so many times. And I see it firsthand, professionals, or quote, unquote “professionals.” They get complacent. They say, “Oh, I’m good.”

And we all know that good is the enemy of great. Even if you’re great, why not be spectacular? You’re spectacular. Why not be wonderful? You can always up-level and that’s what this class has presented. Just an opportunity for me to help and actually bring in. I’ve got some colleagues, some, some experts, some pros you’re included in there, Donald.

And I’m just super excited for us having the opportunity to share and pass that baton on. My father was a track guy. He was a long jumper, triple jumper, but I remember always going through the track with him and, and he had a baton and I loved it. Stick. We would work on that handoff. And this is my opportunity in the professional sense to pass that baton on to others and to watch them just flourish, watch them grow.

And I’m not a mind reader. I’m not a fortune teller, a future teller, but I know that we’re going to impact so many professionals that are going to come back and say, “Thank you.” You provided me with the inspiration. You provided me with the skills, the confidence for me go out there, make it happen, be a go-giver.

And just the results have been phenomenal. I guarantee that’s going to happen. There’s, there’s not too many guarantees in life, but I guarantee that’s going to happen, so. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited, Donald.

Donald Thompson: That’s awesome. That is, that is great. One of the things that, you know, when I think about, and I listen to you talk about the different sections, right? Negotiation and discovery and the different elements of the course. The one thing that comes to mind, is it’s not just for the sales professional, who else can benefit, right from this course?

Larry Long Jr: Donald, whether we have the title or not, we’re all selling. When I think about sales and we, we kick this off, I’m going to give a little preview, just a little teaser. But when I think about the definition of sales, it’s playing matchmaker. And you’re matching your product and/or your service, and/or your thoughts and/or your ideas with someone else’s needs, wants, desires, challenges, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. And if you’re able to make that match and for me,  my daughter just turned seven, my son just turned 11. I’m playing matchmaker when my son, “Hey, you got to make sure, you’re 11 now, you got to put on deodorant dog.” Because essentially it’s not going to be good for, you don’t want to be known as the kid, the stinky kid.” “My daughter, you got to brush your teeth. You don’t want your teeth to be falling out.”

We’re all selling in one way or another whether we’re a startup founder, whether I work for a nonprofit, whether I work in finance, I have the opportunity to speak with financial and HR professionals. And so many times they say, “No, sales.” Sales gets a bad rap. And I believe sales is not a four-letter word.

It’s not a naughty word. It’s a beautiful thing. And it’s a fortunate thing and a blessing because we get to help people. We get to solve problems. We get to help people accomplish their goals, their dreams, and there’s nothing more beautiful than being able to do that while also being able to benefit yourself. I think they call that a win, win-win, and DJ Collins said, “All I do is win, win, win.” I mean, if you can’t get excited about that, you better check your pulse.

Donald Thompson: I think, uh, I think you’re great. This is, this is one of the most fun, fun times I I’ve had, and we’ll have to uh, mix in legally or illegally some of the music that you’ve referenced so that people can get a little cultural uplift also with what we’re doing. One of the things that you mentioned is that advisory role of a sales professional. And I like that very much. In my own career, when I had a very slim pipeline, I was a beggar. I was begging for business. When I had a very large pipeline of opportunities and prospects that I was talking to, when I had a hundred different opportunities to make my sales number or quota, I became an advisor.

And even if that meant advising a client that they didn’t need everything we offered. A starter set of technology made sense. Because for the long-term, that’s what they needed at that time. When I had my numbers taken care of, it was amazing how much more of a knowledge-sharer I was with my clients.

And that advisory relationship is how you propel yourself from a, from just that bag-carrying sales guy, to that sales professional, to that trusted advisor. And I think that along the spectrum of professionals, I think everybody’s trying to get to that trusted advisor level where you’re really influencing internally and externally your organization, but you’re doing it because it’s the right thing for people to do.

The service is going to help them be more successful. Make them money, save them money, reduce their risk. And, and I think a lot of the lessons that you’ve described are helping people move from that Sales 101 to then over time being, being that advisor. As we, as we wind down Larry, and I want to be respectful of your time and I always enjoy talking with you. So I’d talk to you all day. That’s not the issue.  What things about the course, what things about Sales 101 would you share that maybe I didn’t ask? That, that you’d want to get out to the folks that are listening to us today.

Larry Long Jr: Yeah, there, there’s some great nuggets in there and I’m not going to give, I’m not going to give it all away. The listeners are going to have to tune in, but essentially it provides that great foundation for both the beginner seller, as well as the experienced seller. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to speak with the quote, unquote “enterprise seller.” The experienced seller who’s got, “I’m, I’m good. Larry. I’ve been selling for 30 years,” and what I’ve observed and what I’ve seen firsthand, is that over 30 years, you can get a little bit stale.

You can start believing your own hype. And I, there there’s a saying, “If it ain’t broke-,” I think the saying goes, “Don’t fix it.” What I got out; I’m going to get Steve Harvey on you. Survey says, “Nah, if it ain’t broke, you better break it.” And essentially there’s a lot of people with the pandemic, with everything that’s going on, they’re getting broken and they’re not ready.

This course is designed to arm you to be ready. It provides you the resource. Now you’ve got to put in some blood, sweat, and tears. It’s not, it’s not that silver bullet, but I can tell you it’s the next best thing. So I get excited and I’ll give you a little preview, there’s a section in there that talks about soap.

And it’s not the soap that I tell my son he needs to use to keep the funk off, but this is the soap in a medical sense. And I’m not sure if there’s a doctor in the house, but when you go to a doctor, they do a soap note. The “S” is subjective. “So, Larry, what brings you to us today? How long has it been going on? Is it worse at night? Then they do an objective and they are the trusted business advisor. They go through and they take that, that wooden tongue depressor. They choke you out. They, they run the test, they do the assessment. That’s the “A” to find out you don’t have strep. It’s not flu, “A” or “B.” It’s not this COVID-19.

Here goes my assessment and here goes my plan. Take two of these, and call me in the morning. Note to self, when you’re selling, you better be doing a soap note. “Mr. and Mrs. Prospect, why are we talking today? Why are you here today?” Objective, here goes what I see, here goes my MRI and my test, here goes my assessment, and here goes the plan.

And you said it best earlier, Donald. You were talking about being the trusted business advisor, you were talking about coming from a place of abundance. And essentially it’s that, it’s that swagger, it’s that confidence. It’s that knowing that you need me more than I need you. You’re not going to smell commission breath.

I popped a couple of Tic Tacs. “I’m fresh and so clean.” Essentially, I’m here to help you if you’re open to it. I’m going to get a little bit personal. My family, I’ve got some relatives that struggle with substance abuse. When my father was living, he shared with them, “I’m here to help, if you want to help yourself.”

It’s the same thing in business, the same thing in sales. I’m here and I’m going to go all out to support you if you’re open to it. If you’re not, it’s okay. Let’s call a spade a spade. Now’s not the time. You’ll be back. You will be back. I know that for sure and I’m not pressed. I’m going to brush my shoulders off and I’m going to, I have a term that’s called, “FIDO.”

It stands for “F-it, drive on!” I’m onto the next one, baby. When you’re ready, you know where to find me, so. That’s what we’re trying to get done. The class, I can’t say enough about it. I’m super excited about the release coming up in November, which is right here. It’s right here.

Donald Thompson: That’s exciting. The, the thing that we’ll, we’ll end with is we moved from the course from sales. And I do want to take a minute to now look at our macro-environment and just some of the things that are going on in our, in our, in our country. And. And there is an African-American professional. You’ve done very well for yourself, right? And you’re held in high regard in the arena, but you and I both know that late at night, if the blue lights are behind us, then we’re just black men.

And it doesn’t matter what zip code we live in, doesn’t matter what our professional is, we still have our hand on the steering wheel and, and we’re a little more afraid than our white counterparts. When you think about all the different things that are going on, what advice, perspective, would you provide to people that are not in the underrepresented groups? So, our white counterparts, of how they can lean in and understand more. How they can be an ally to learn more of what they may or may not understand.

Larry Long Jr: Yeah. And you, you, you said the golden word, “Learn.” And you learn by listening. You learn by asking questions. You learn by having an open mind that these are true things that have happened to folks that look like you and I just because of us having a darker skin tone. Which, when you say that, any human being has got to say that is ridiculous. You get treated differently because your skin is darker? No, but unfortunately that is the reality. And that’s the way it’s been, that’s the way it currently is, and change is needed.

I’m a big believer that change starts at the local level. To ask, “What can I do?” Look in, look to your left and your right at your neighbors. Look at your circle of influence, your sphere of friends, and check yourself, and really do a self-audit of where do you stand on the spectrum? What do you believe in and what are your actions?

There’s a saying, “Your actions speak so loud. I can’t hear what you’re saying.” And so many individuals and organizations I’ve, I’ve been observing. I’ve got my popcorn. I’m on a low diet, but I’ve been eating popcorn, and I’ve been watching them, and it just doesn’t align. What they say versus what they do. So I would encourage folks to take a look in the mirror and look at what do you do?

What are you doing in your local community, your neighborhood, your city, your region? Are you listening to the stories? Are you involved and pressing for change? Are you looking to understand and educate yourself on what’s been the experience of black and brown men and women, colleagues of yours, friends of yours, and what can you do?

Having known it, I tell him my son, “If you know better, you do better.” If you don’t know, you don’t know. That’s ignorance right there. But first, you’ve got to make the effort to know. Second, you’ve got to look at the action that you can actually take to make a positive impact. And if we have enough people doing that, we’re going to see real change and not just hear a lot of talk. Talk is cheap and I’m tired of the talk.

I’ve been hearing the talk ever since my mom and father growing up. We’re going through the same things. I’m a kid of the late seventies, eighties. We’re talking now about the same things that we were talking about then, and that my parents went through in the fifties and the sixties. Come on, man. You got to be kidding me.

Donald Thompson: I think that, uh, one of the things that I will leave our audience with and I want to share with you, people respect success. And the success that you’ve had, Larry, and the people that I know that know you hold you in high-esteem. And that’s across ethnicity, that’s across age.

And those of us that have reached a certain level of success have a responsibility, right? To pay it forward, have a responsibility to be a beacon of truth, and to keep pushing because it does allow us to have a voice that is broader and more powerful than others. And so I want to just tell you , friend to friend, I appreciate how you’re using your voice in a massively positive way. And every week I look forward to, I think it’s Wednesdays, right? It’s motivational Wednesdays.

Larry Long Jr: Yeah.

Donald Thompson: And you do, maybe it’s two to three-minute episodes, and you just talk about how people can take their mindset forward. And, you know, I, I just appreciate you taking the time and effort and doing those things, right, as you prepare for the next goals that you have. But along the way, you’re giving people hope and you never know who sees that video, that it’s really changing their life because they were really struggling that day. And so I encourage you to keep doing that, keep putting yourself out there, and I’m cheering for you all the way, and I’m glad that we’re partnering on this latest project.

Larry Long Jr: I’ve got to let you know, thank you for the kind words and thank you, Donald, for your mentorship, your support, your continued encouragement. The future is bright.

Donald Thompson: Amen.

Larry Long Jr: It’s bright. And the opportunity we have to impact others positively, that gets me inspired. That makes me feel good. And like you said, it’s our responsibility to press through, to push through, and to continue to try to change the game for a positive in our community. So, I’m privileged. It’s, it’s my privilege to know you. And I appreciate you, Donald.

Full Episode Transcript

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit

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