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Foreword

by John David Mann

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“Go ahead, make my day.”
“Houston, we have a problem.”
“I’ll have what she’s having.”
“Work around here?”
“Attica! Attica!”
“Rosebud...”
Hear John read it


How can a tiny handful of words speak such volumes? None of these lines is longer than five words, but each evokes an amazing range of ideas, experiences, emotions and attitudes. It’s the screenwriter’s Haiku magic, that ability to capture the depth and breadth of human experience in a little scatter of simple words.

The very same thing that happens in these classic film scenes also happens in your prospecting conversations. Events and sometimes even destinies turn on the simplest lines of dialog in that casual encounter called “opening conversation with a stranger.”

Russ McNeil takes a master screenwriter/director’s eye to this single scene and devotes 155 brilliant pages to deconstructing it in careful, thorough detail. By the time you’ve finished reading these pages, you will understand exactly how this scene works and be well on your way to recreating it yourself, spinning your own miniature masterpieces in variation after variation. This is a bold claim, but I make it with confidence because Russ knows his stuff, and Prospecting Rules! is the real thing. If you’re looking for gold, you’ve got it in your hands.

Often when reading books about sales, prospecting or networking, I start to feel claustrophobic, as if walls of information are closing in and I urgently have to memorize it all, because my future encounters with people who might be viable prospects will be a test I can hope to pass only based on how well I have crammed.

This is not a happy feeling.

I’m happy to report that reading Russ’s book is nothing like that. Quite the opposite, in fact: I enjoy ambling through its pages as much as I would strolling through a great novel. There’s plenty of information in here, all right; every page is thick with thought-provoking insights. But it doesn’t feel complicated. As I turn the pages, instead of muttering, “Okay, I’m gonna have to remember this,” I find myself saying, “Right! Of course!” It feels less like formulas to be memorized, and more like descriptions of some cool dance moves I can’t wait to try out.

By the way, of the six quotes above (“Go ahead, make my day,” etc.), five are from the American Film Institute’s 100 Top Movie Quotes. I’ll leave it you to guess which one is from the book you’re about to read. (Hint: it’s not “I’ll have what she’s having,” though using that as a conversation-starter is an interesting thought.) You’ll learn all about it in Curiosity Paid the Cat, starting on page 64.

We like to say of our industry, “Anyone can do this business.” We like to think of this as the ultimate equal-opportunity opportunity, the epitome of democracy in free enterprise. But there is no getting around this central fact of the industry:  to be really successful at it, you have to get really good at it. We like to think that all you have to do is be yourself, be sincere, be a product of the product: “Share your enthusiasm, let the tools tell the story — and the rest will take care of itself.” But that’s not how it is.

Our business is a profession. A profession of amateurs, granted (amateurs in the best sense: one who does what she does for the love of it) — but a profession nonetheless, and the central skill of this profession is knowing how to conduct a friendly, genuine, effective prospecting conversation. There are those rare few individuals who possess this skill innately, for whom this conversation comes naturally. For the rest of us, Russ has finally taken the Swiss watch apart, shown exactly how it works, and put it back together again.

I’ll have what Russ is having.

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John David Mann is co-author (with Bob Burg) of the national bestseller The Go-Giver and author of The Zen of MLM. He was cofounder and senior editor of Upline and editor-in-chief of Network Marketing Lifestyles and Networking Times. He edited and produced John Milton Fogg’s The Greatest Networker in the World (1992), which became the industry’s defining book of the decade and sold more than one million copies in eight languages. He also worked with John Assaraf and Murray Smith writing The Answer (2008), with Paul Zane Pilzer writing The Next Millionaires (2005) and with Jeff Olson writing The Slight Edge (2004). John has also been an active direct selling leader for more than twenty years; during the 1990’s he built an organization of over 100,000 distributors that earned a personal income of several million dollars.
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