The One Thing Every First-Time Leader Needs To Do

Jerry Acuff
Photo courtesy of Jerry Acuff

[The following is the full raw transcript for a LEADx Podcast interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Kevin Kruse: Hello everyone, Kevin Cruz here, welcome to LEADx Leadership Show, all about next-generation leadership. Or is it teaching leadership to the next generation? Either way, I'm glad you're here, I'm glad you are back, I love all of you for the support you are giving us. And today on the show, you're going to hear from a top sales consultant who gives advice kind of old school, which I love. Sometimes his advice rhymes, sometimes it's old paper and pencil lessons that he's updating into the modern digital age. We talk about nurturing relationships, his new app, called Really Linked. Five keys to motivating employees, and basically how he went from being fired and unemployed to growing and now running a 10 million dollar a year consulting practice.

But first, if you're the kind of person who likes to say thank you when it's deserved, I hope you will thank my LEADx team by taking one minute to leave a rating on iTunes. Just go to, that's going to bounce you to the right website, and you just click some stars and the more ratings we get, the more reviews we get, the more likely iTunes is to recommend us to others. And while you're at it, visit, check out the free video training of the day, and check out the LEADxAcademy, over 50 courses in micro lessons, I mean, over 100 micro lessons, to help you to stand out and to get ahead. Three day free trial, nothing to lose, everything to gain.

Our quote of the day is from Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships. The ability of all peoples of all kinds to live together, and work together, in the same world at peace.”

Our guest today's a best-selling author, speaker, and the founder and CEO of Delta Point, a sales consulting firm. He is ranked as one of the top ten sales experts in the world, and was voted Game Changer of the Year in 2017. He mentors college basketball coaches, athletes, and entrepreneurs around the country. Our guest is Jerry Acuff. Jerry, welcome to the show.

Jerry Acuff: Thanks Kevin, it's good to talk to you.

Kruse: We always riff on so much fun stuff, I'm really looking forward to this. But I always start with the same first question, because I believe failures are stepping stones, there's no win or lose, it's just win or learn. So I want to learn from one of your failures, Jerry. What's one of your best failures in your career?

Acuff: Well, I actually got fired as VP of sales of a training company in 2000. And … or 2001, I guess. And I had been really good friends with the CEO, and I disagreed with him on a major issue, so he fired me. And so I couldn't find a job, because nobody wanted to hire a 51 year old guy in Phoenix, Arizona to run a sales force. And so I relied on my network, and so I worked my network, and actually made a list of the people that I was closest to, and called them and said, “Hey, give me some ideas about some things that I can do.” And one of them, who happened to have been an employee of mine, who was running the cardiovascular marketing group at Astrazeneca, said, “Hey, why don't you come and give a speech to my group?”

And I said, “Well, that would be a waste of money.” And he said, “Why?” And I said, “Because you're not changing peoples' behavior with a speech. If you want to change peoples' behavior, you need a consultant who understands change management, and can actually understand what change you're looking to do, and then how do you actually execute that.” And he said, “Well, can you do that?” And I said, “Yeah, I probably could.”

And I had developed a change process, which we still use to this day, which I think is the way real change happens that works. And so, he hired me for six months. In the middle of that, they asked me to help them figure out how to sell a product, and I helped the product go from 350 million to a billion. And I got the reputation, then, at the time the company was just my wife and I … I got the reputation then as somebody who if you have a product that's hard to sell, you should call me, because I can figure it out.

And so we've worked on 15 billion dollar brands, we've done 165 projects, we've had 164 successes. But what I learned from that was you can be the greatest at anything in the world, but if you don't have a network that can help you when you need help, you're in trouble. And so that's one of the things that ultimately led me to book, The Relationship Edge, because I believe that if you have a valuable business relationship with another person … I'm not talking about a friendship-

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: I'm not talking about, “Let's go play golf.” I'm talking about somebody who wants to do business with you because they believe in you, and they believe in what you're capable of. You're far more likely to never be out of work, and if you're an entrepreneur, you're going to find a place for your ideas to land, because people will listen to you. The biggest challenge we have in communicating is getting people to listen to us.

Kruse: That's right.

Acuff: And if they don't listen, nothing else happens. So, learning the power of that network has really driven so much of my work.

Kruse: Jerry, that's a great failure story, power of the network, and the timing is amazing, because I think it was only one or two episodes ago on this podcast, I shared the story about I was just contacted by sort of like a relative who hadn't been in touch with me for a few years, and-

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: His message was, “Out of the blue, I've been laid off, I'm 51 years old-“

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: “And now I need to find a job.”

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: “And who's going to hire me?” And as you and I both know, especially our friends in the pharmaceutical industry, it's sad, but I get an email like that about every month, every two months.

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: Someone who says, “Oh my gosh, I've been 20 years here in this company, I never saw this coming, and now I'm 50 something years old, and I've been laid off.” And so I say to my own audience too, I say, “Dig your well before you're thirsty when it comes to networking.”

Acuff: Yeah.

Kruse: Whether it's LinkedIn, or in person, whatever it is, you can't wait until you're thirsty to start digging that hole.

Acuff: Right. But, you know, I actually developed an app which I'm launching I think next week or the week after called Really Linked.

Kruse: Really Linked.

Acuff: And I hope … Really Linked. And it's who you really want to be linked to. I have 7,300 connections on LinkedIn, and I say yes to everybody.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: But when I sit down and say, “Who are the people that I must stay in touch with on a consistent, persistent, relevant basis?” That number is 42. So those 42 people are in my Really Linked app. Now what my app enables me to do, and I built this based on the idea that I got from Buzz Williams, the basketball coach at Virginia Tech, who at the time I was mentoring at Marquette. But basically, what the app enables you to do is to download somebody from your phone, and my assumption if they're important to you, they're in your phone.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: And you can call them, text them, email them, or you can send them an email with the subject line already written, it says, “Can we have a meeting?” And you can do all of that without going into any other app. And every time you contact them, it keeps a record of when you contacted them. Now, it also has the ability to remind you that today, I need to call Dave Bonnell, or Ian Kelly.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: And so when I click on “remind Ian Kelly” it takes me right to his contact information, and I can do that. The other thing that it does is it creates a place where you can write notes. And there is no maximum space for notes, it's just what memory your phone takes. So, it's a free … and it's going to be free, a mini CRM.

Kruse: That's great.

Acuff: But my whole thing is, these people who call me out of the blue, that I haven't heard from in 10 years, I don't help them. Because first place, I don't know them.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: The only people that I help, and I will move heaven and earth to get them a job, are people that I know, and know well, and I know that would make me look good if I represented them. But the only way that that can happen is I have to be in constant contact.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: Now what's constant contact? It's probably at least three or four times a year. It doesn't have to be 20 times. And I mean, I call people when they ain't going to answer.

Kruse: Right, right.

Acuff: And I'll call and say, “Hey this is Jerry, I was just thinking about you, I was a reading a book the other day that said, ‘Never forget a customer and never let a customer forget you.' And I just want you to know I'm thinking about you,” and I hung up.

Kruse: That's great.

Acuff: When I entered these 42 names into Really Linked, two nights ago, and I sent probably half a dozen messages just for kicks, to see if it was working perfectly, because I've been working on this for five years.

Kruse: That's great.

Acuff: And it's amazing, I got six responses back, and two of them are business development opportunities.

Kruse: So let me … this is interesting to me, because, and we just stumbled on this, we didn't talk about this ahead of time. I, for a decade now, have wanted what you just built, or at least a version of it, because same thing, we've all got our big CRMs, whether you're using, or Constant Contact, or ACT in the old days, and now LinkedIn is building a lot of that functionality in. But what I felt is I wanted that short list of-

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: People who, in my mind it was almost like a garden, you need to tend the garden.

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: And so, if you're not watering that garden once a quarter-

Acuff: Yeah.

Kruse: It's going to die off, right? So I wanted something that would tell me or show me, hey, here's the people you haven't contacted in 90 days.

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: Right in my hand. But how'd you come up with the number 42?

Acuff: Well I just looked at my entire … I just made a list of the people that I think are crucial to my success. Now, it doesn't mean that the other 7,000 people aren't important to me-

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: That's a separate issue. And you can move on to my crucial list very easily. But I will tell you, I have a business that's roughly nine or ten million dollars. We've been in business 17 years, we've got 30 employees. I can trace 80% of my business to two people.

Kruse: Wow. Wow. And that's an interesting exercise, right, for everybody to think about-

Acuff: Yeah.

Kruse: It's not even the 80/20 rule in your case, it's 80/2, two people.

Acuff: Yeah, and it's not that they've given me all that business, it's that they have connected me-

Kruse: That's right.

Acuff: To other people, who have connected me to other people. So if I do like a genealogy chart of where my business comes from, 80% I can trace to two people.

Kruse: And that does show the power, for all of our listeners out there who either are solopreneurs, consultants, or want to be someday-

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: How business development really does work.

Acuff: Yeah.

Kruse: It's not that … I mean, you can make a lot of progress with cold calling, but these days, it's that relationship that then who do they know that then become in your contact.

Acuff: Yeah, and the thing is what the relationship buys you is an open ear.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: If I call you and say, “Hey, Kevin, I've got somebody I want you to meet,” and I think I told you that you need to meet Gary Pittard.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: I didn't tell you that because I was trying to do Gary a favor. I was telling you that because Gary's one of the smartest, most interesting people I've ever met in my life.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: And knowing what you do, and knowing that there are opportunities outside of the United States-

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: And he has a beautiful business in Australia, New Zealand, and Southeast Asia, I thought it would be great for you to connect. Now, a big part of the relationship building component of what we teach, whether it's in our virtual training, Jerry Acuff VT, or whether it's in my book, is that you have to do things for each other.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: It's not like I'm talking to these 42 people so they can do something for me. I'm constantly trying to figure out what I can do for them.

Kruse: Right, right.

Acuff: But what I believe is that the laws of the universe say when you give, you get. Now, if you give and you think you're going to get something in return, that's manipulation. To me, I give to everybody because I believe that the universe says that if you give, you'll get. Now I don't know where the getting's coming from, but I believe that the getting is coming. And so … and I wind up getting text messages or email messages, “Hey, I need to talk to you about a business opportunity,” and all of these people are people that I've stayed in touch with, but usually it's just a text to say, “Hey, how you doing?” It doesn't have to be a letter.

Now, the way I got the idea, Buzz Williams, a basketball coach at Virginia Tech, who if you don't follow Buzz on Twitter, you're crazy. Buzz is one of the most phenomenal human beings on the planet. And he is the most giving person on the planet. He's also one of the, for my money, the top 20 basketball coaches in America. But he calls one person, writes one person, texts one person, and emails one person every single day. And he has little thing called, he calls it his kindergarten calendar, and he's got a little box there that says CTEW, call, text, email, write.

And I said, “Well Buzz, how do you figure out who to call or text?” And he turns the dang thing over and he's got 120 names there.

Kruse: Incredible.

Acuff: So he stays in touch … I mean, I hear from him … he and I are really good friends, and I hear from probably three or four times a week on text, so I'm probably not on his list. Now there are some people who don't need to be on your list. There are some people that you have such a close relationship with that … I don't need to put my wife on my list.

Kruse: Right, right.

Acuff: Right. I've got certain clients that I know I'm going to stay in touch with. But, the idea of persistent, relevant contact is the only way that you can maintain influence.

Kruse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Acuff: If you don't do that, you lose influence because I don't know you well enough to recommend you to anybody.

Kruse: You can see, I'm jotting notes like crazy down, crazy here. Okay, so one real quick thing, Jerry, that triggered me. This was … I found this an hour ago, you're talking about like what you get is what you give, you hit that-

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: Over and over. One hour ago I just learned that The Beatles, the last song they ever recorded, and the last line of that song is, “In the end, the love you get is the love you give.”

Acuff: Wow. That's incredible.

Kruse: That's the very last line they ever recorded together. And-

Acuff: Wow.

Kruse: When you said, like, “Hey, there's some people that don't need to be on this list,” like your wife, you don't have to like remember, have a system, to do it. I've got to tell you though, I'm going to challenge you a little bit on that, because one of the things I started doing just in the last year, I started getting better at starting my mornings with some kind of reflecting on my purpose, and my goals, and sort of my intentions. And one my … I talk about my three to thrive, health, wealth, and relationships. And so for relationships, each morning I sort of think about the most important people in my life, and how I'm going to connect with them. And like you said, you don't have to do that with everybody, but I've got three kids, and you'd think, “Kevin has to remind himself to connect with his three kids?” But one is off in college, one's a senior in high school with jobs, and activities, and all the rest, and my son's home, he's younger, around more. But if I don't sort of do that morning intention, it will be a couple or a few days before I've connected with my 19-year-old daughter, well 20-year-old daughter, she just had a birthday, in college.

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: And I find that if I just pause in the morning, and think about how will I strengthen that relationship with my daughter, it reminds me to send her a text, or to take a picture of her cat on my phone, and send her a picture of my cat. And so I think even being mindful and intentional with some of our closest relationships can strengthen those relationships. As it puts us in contact with our distant kids a little more often.

Acuff: Yeah. Well you know, Zig Ziglar wrote a book years ago called Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World, and I read the book, and the line that I never forgot, he says, “Children spell love T-I-M-E.”

Kruse: T-I-M-E. Time, right.

Acuff: And I also believe that employees spell love T-I-M-E.

Kruse: That's great.

Acuff: And I think oftentimes, and one of the things I tell people, I learned 35 years ago from Don Durvits, the five things employees want from a supervisor. And I've never been able to improve upon it. One is they want competent job instruction. “Show me how to do my job.” The second thing they want is a degree of independence in doing the job. “Show me how to do it, but let me be me.” The third thing they want is to be informed about the things that are relevant to them. The fourth thing they want is recognition, praise for a job well done. And I'd say because of technology, we suck at that.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: We think a text is praise, we think an email is praise. I've got a big idea for you, buy a damn Hallmark card.

Kruse: There you go.

Acuff: Now they've gotten way expensive, but people don't forget that.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: My son had to give a speech on Friday at school, he's a senior. And so we actually had him write just a handwritten note on stationary that says, “Ryan Acuff”, to the person who introduced him, who's his mentor, and then to the woman who helped him write the speech. And I bet you $1,000 that 10% of the kids do that.

Kruse: Right, right.

Acuff: But I remember, of all the cards I got in my life, I got a card from my regional manager one time when I was trying to get promoted, and he said … and I don't remember any of them, except I remember this one. He said, “Enclosed is a list of the 10 people I most appreciate.” And when you open it up, it said, “Your name is on here 11 times.”

Kruse: Oh, wow.

Acuff: And I have never forgotten that. So the fourth thing people want … I mean, the last thing people want is they want to work for a leader, not a boss. Boss spelled backwards is double S-O-B.

Kruse: We just got a masterclass, like not only did we get all this relationship stuff, but we just got a masterclass in engagement and motivation when you're a leader, which I love this stuff.

Acuff: But I mean, that's what your expertise is though, and you're focused on growth, and recognition and trust is so important. I've always told people, “If you want excel … ” I mean, I tell people … I was DM. I had the top district in the country I think seven out of eight years, the year I wasn't number one, I was number two. And so I'm always fascinated that people never ask me, “How did you do that?” And I tell people, “I did it accidentally.”

First thing I did was I hired really, really well. And I got lucky on that, and that's a whole nother story. Whole other segment. HR has ruined that, by the way.

The second thing I did was at the very first meeting I said this. I said, “Look, as long as I'm your leader,” and I don't know I said this, it's just what I thought of. I said, “As long as I'm your leader, we will begin every meeting the same way. I will ask you to tell me what are you doing specifically to develop yourself as a human being. And I expect you to have an answer. Now, I'll start.” And I started talking about reading. And I had this big epiphany in 1981 when I read Roger Staubach and Jack and Garry Kinder's book that said, “Chances are you'll be the same person five years from today that you are today, with the exception of two things. The people you meet, and the books you read. A person who won't read is truly no better off than a person who can't read.” Now that actually was originally said Charlie Tremendous Jones.

Kruse: That's right. That's right.

Acuff: And then they did recognize him. But since then I've read 585 business books. I read 100 book summaries a year. I read 25 books a year, and I've written four bestsellers. Not like you, who's written six. Yours are actually New York Times bestsellers, mine is a lower definition of bestsellers.

Kruse: Well that's a whole nother conversation too, but anyway.

Acuff: But my point is, what I did unintentionally, was I created a learning environment. And it took about a year before people took me seriously. Before they said, “Hey, the fat guy in the front of the room ain't going to stop asking us questions, we better get an answer.” And when you create a learning environment, regardless of what it's about, learning is so energizing.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: It is so fun, and what it enables you to do is to get people to better self-manage.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: And so, to me, I think if you're going to have great engagements, you've got to have a learning organization. I bought part of book summary company called Read It For Me, and the reason I love it is because every one of their book summaries are 12 minutes or less. So I can do two a week, and do 100 a year, and get the essence of the best business books-

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: Written. And my employees have to send me weekly what book summary did they do, and what did they learn from it, because I know if … my old boss used to say, “When you're green, you're growing, when you rock, you're rotting.” And so I know that if we're green, if we're growing, then we're okay.

Kruse: Yeah, I love that, and of course this just reinforces the big theme on the LEADx leadership show, it's like we need to be lifelong learners, we need to have a growth mindset. I think it's always served people well, but in this day and age, where change is happening exponentially, if you're not learning every day, or at least ever week, you are going to fall behind. And God forbid, you get laid off at that point where people are going to want to know, are you able to still perform at a high level. So it's great reinforcement.

Jerry, I want to … but I also want to ask you, because I ask guests like these same two questions, and you talked about the failure one. With all of the advice that you have though, do you have a specific piece of advice for a new manager, like a first-time manager?

Acuff: Yes. Falling in love with your people.

Kruse: That's great. You do that, all else will come from that.

Acuff: If I love you, then I'm going to always do what I think is right by you. And I used to tell my employees, I said, “I want you to understand what my job is. My job as your leader is to help you succeed with this customer, in this territory, in this district, in this region, in this company, and in life.” But that means, that if I love you then I'm going to kick you in the fanny sometimes.

Kruse: That's right.

Acuff: Because you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing. And I'm not going to be doing it because I'm a jerk, I'm doing it because I care about you.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: Now, I hired 20 people in eight years. The 20 people I hired, 13 got promoted. Of the 20 people I hired, 19 were in the top 8% of the company within two years, the only that wasn't I fired after three weeks. So if you stayed with me longer than a month, you were guaranteed to be in the top 8% of the company. But I love my people, and I don't mean it in some corny way, I mean I really believe that when I'm looking at their performance, I'm looking at my performance. And if I can focus on what it takes to make them successful, and the most important thing to make anybody successful is to truly, truly care about them.

Now, the other thing I think that I teach managers is two other things, one is the key to all growth and development is self-awareness. And you should say that 100 times a year. Because if I can get you to understand that self-awareness is the key to your growth, then it's a lot easier for me to have a conversation with you about places where you're not self-aware.

And then, the third thing I tell managers is to learn from your people. Because the reality is, in my group, I was probably … even though I'm already right now the number five sales expert in the world, which I don't believe, but I put on my website. And I'm not disagreeing with … I don't want to disrespect the research, but I mean, come on. But my point is, I was probably the sixth or seventh best salesperson in my group, and so when I went out and worked with them, what I was trying to do was to see what could I learn that I could share with other people.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: And so, I think that takes humility. I think it takes your own sort of idea that others can teach you things. The other thing I told people was don't be in a hurry to prove that somebody made the right decision to hire you. Get to know your people, you can't love them if you don't know them.

Kruse: Yeah, I love that advice. In my forthcoming book, I have a chapter, Leaders Love Their People, and I think in this day and age there are still so many people who think like you're supposed to stay distant or lead through fear and all that. And what was kind of a mind changer for me, I don't read a lot of leadership sports psychology, I need to get better in that area. But John Wooden who said, “You don't have to like all your players the same, but you have to love them all the same.”

Acuff: Right, yeah.

Kruse: And there is a lot of truth to this. There can be someone-

Acuff: There's a ton of truth to that.

Kruse: That you don't actually like. You're different personalities, different interests, whatever it

is, but you can still love a person that you don't like. You care about them-

Acuff: Right.

Kruse: As a human, as a person, as a team member.

Acuff: Yeah. And you want them to be successful.

Kruse: Right, right.

Acuff: It's about … I always say, my book The Relationship Edge, I always say, “Look, I can save you a boatload of money, you don't have to buy the book, just remember one thing, it ain't about you. It's about them.”

Kruse: That's right.

Acuff: And that's the theme of the book. Now, we teach people there how do you build relationships with people you don't naturally connect with? How do you leverage the relationships you have? The average person doesn't know how to leverage the relationship they have, and there's very specific verbiage that you need to use in order to leverage a relationship. Most people don't take advantage of their network, they don't even think about building their network intentionally. And my big thing is to build it intentionally. And then build it broadly. Don't just … most people build it very narrowly, within my industry or something-

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: And the truth is, you need to build it very, very broad.

Kruse: Yeah. And you said they don't have to spend the money, but I'm going to encourage them to do that. Again, the book is The Relationship Edge, The Key to Strategic Influence and Selling Success. We've been talking about a lot of the ideas, it is jam-packed, I've got dog-eared pages. But Jerry, you've taken a lot of this content from your books, from your teaching, your live speeches, and you're launching an online academy for this, is that right?

Acuff: Yeah, it's called Jerry Acuff VT, we used the LightSpeed VT system, which we love. I just got the idea one day that so much of everything that I've written and done, which has primarily been used in pharmaceuticals, had utility in every other business in America. And so, I just put down everything I knew about how do you set and achieve stretch goals? And when I say stretch goals, I'm talking about how do you, let's say, happen to have a seven-figure income 13 years in a row? How do you go from being a district manager to running the company in five years? So most people don't know how to set and achieve stretch goals, so that's in there.

The relationship part is in there, the essence of The Relationship Edge. We also teach people how to sell without being pushy and aggressive. Most people are taught to be pushy and aggressive, 90% of people don't want to be pushy and aggressive, and as soon as the manager leaves, they revert back to being themselves. We teach them how can you succeed by being yourself?

And I wouldn't be in the top 10 sales experts, five sales experts in the world if the stuff didn't work. And then the last thing we do is we have a whole section on how do you coach selling in the field in real time. And the thing I love about Jerry Acuff VT, is that 95% of the lessons are five minutes or less.

Kruse: And you have over 100 lessons in there.

Acuff: Yeah, there are 128 lessons. And you don't have to buy them all, you can buy them in pieces, etc. But the whole idea is, what does great training look like? Now, you're the king of training, for my money, you are the Godfather of training in the pharmaceutical industry. And a person who I totally look up to, as I do Ian, as you know. But my thinking of training was changed dramatically by Brad Lee. And Brad said, “Great training has four elements. Number one, it has world-class content.” Now I think it has five elements, I think the second element which he doesn't talk about is world class delivery. Because you can have world-class content, lousy delivery, and the train's not going to stick.

But the next thing it needs is repetition. Now, our idea of training used to be, and I would say for 15 years, go do the training, do two or three followup webinars, and you're good. And I don't think that anymore. I think you've got to do world-class content, which I think our stuff is. You've got to do world-class delivery, which we're really good at what we do. You have to have repetition, which is the reason why the virtual training makes so much sense because if you find something in there that you want to truly learn, you can watch it as many times as you want to and get it into your spine. And all of these things are less than five minutes. And then the next piece is practice.

Kruse: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Acuff: Too many salespeople practice in front of the customer. When what you ought to do is practice someplace else. We give you very specific examples in Jerry Acuff VT about how do you, if you're a manager, how do you teach somebody to practice?

And the last thing we talk about is how do you coach selling in the field in real time. The interesting thing that we found, is that in the pharmaceutical industry, the rep only goes to the manager 14% of the time for advice about sales. Now, why do you think that's true? Well, it's because they think the manager doesn't know anything. And the manager doesn't know anything, because once we promote you to a manager, we stop teaching you about selling. We anoint you as an expert when you really aren't. They go to themselves or their colleagues, which is scary if you've got a mediocre organization.

So, and coaching is just very large term. In the 1850s, coaching became synonymous with the term private tutor. So what we try and teach people is that if you're coaching people, you are a private tutor. And the question you have to ask yourself is, “How good are you as a tutor?” We give people a self-assessment with the 10 areas that you have to be great at in order to be good at coaching in the field. And I'm not talking about coaching selling. I'm not talking about coaching performance, or-

Kruse: Yeah, yeah.

Acuff: Coaching how to do a clinical … I'm not coaching selling, which is a very narrow subject.

Kruse: Right.

Acuff: And it's easy to define and understand. What we did was create the process, and Drucker says, “If you can't make a process out of it, then it ain't any good.” So we created the process which we think works, we've been doing it for two years, our clients love it, and we're doing something that nobody else does, which is teaching people how do you teach and coach selling in the field in real time? Most managers are good at six, or seven, or eight of them, but those two or three that they could get better at.

Kruse: Yeah.

Acuff: And again, if self-awareness is the key to all growth and development, then wouldn't I want to know that?

Kruse: Absolutely. So Jerry, we've got to wrap this up, but please tell our listeners the best places to find out more about you and your work. I know, right, is the new platform?

Acuff: Yes, and then

Kruse: And And we're of course … we will put the links in the show notes, and in the articles, so they'll be one click away from everybody.

Jerry, you have been dropping value bombs galore, as I like to say. Like so much stuff, you saw me scribbling notes, so much of it new, so much of it reminders, which I'm always-

Acuff: Yeah.

Kruse: Grateful for. And it's just been another fun conversation. We'll have to let a couple of months go by on our calendars and then just do it again.

Acuff: Well there's more in the tank.

Kruse: Jerry, thanks for coming on to the LEADx show.

Acuff: Thanks, Kevin, thanks for having me.

CEO of LEADx, and NY Times bestselling author, of Great Leaders Have No Rules and Employee Engagement 2.0. Get a FREE demo of the LEADx platform at