“The Value You Bring to Others” — An Excerpt from Unleashing Your Superpower
The following is an excerpt from Jeff’s new book, “Unleashing Your Superpower: Why Persuasive Communication Is The Only Force You Will Ever Need”.
Growing up, I was always a go-get-it kind of kid. My mother was forever admonishing me to “Settle down, Jeffery. Settle down.”
But it made no sense to me. It just didn’t register. Why settle down when there was so much to be done – so much to discover? Why settle down when there were so many cool things I could be out there doing?
Yep; I was that kid. From as far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be out there making something happen.
By the time I’d entered elementary school, I was in hyperdrive. The most common comments on my report card were: “Jeff continues to talk too much in class.” “Jeff has a hard time sitting still in his seat.” I was that Ritalin kid who the teachers prayed – prayed each day – had taken his meds.
I felt pressures – both internal and external. My parents expected me to earn good grades. It wasn’t a wish; it was a mandate. And though I started out with the impression that good grades were dependent upon my homework, quizzes, tests – quantifiable things – I learned in time that there was another, equally important factor: my teacher’s impressions of me. I worked at making a more positive impression, and I know it made a difference.
Outside the classroom, I was always always looking for the next big thing. I wanted to be at the head of the pack.
One of my earliest memories of persuading other kids to follow me was when I was 8 or so, leading my friends through the neighborhood woods with torches we’d devised and, not surprisingly, accidentally setting a small fire. Fortunately, we were able to put it out ourselves. What a rush it was, charging forward, ablaze. I suppose there’s a metaphor there.
I think my DNA is hardwired for entrepreneurship. From an early age, I was on the hunt for business opportunities. Yard work was an early opportunity. But I wasn’t content simply mowing lawns. Instead, I landed the “contracts” and then hired my friends to do the work. It was called Snoopy’s Yard Service.
In the spring, I would knock on my neighbors’ doors to see if they wanted their lawn mowed, and in the fall if they wanted someone to rake up their leaves. I even created little yard signs that I put up in yards with scraps that my father, who was in construction business, would have around.
My friends wanted work and I had it, and now I was in business. I had a recurring revenue stream, steady clients. I was putting people to work, and now I was free to do other things.
I’d pay everyone enough to be happy and keep a share for myself. There were things I wanted to buy, and I liked the idea of saving.
I was the rainmaker – or whatever the 11-year-old version of rainmaker would be. I’d shook the bushes and secured the work.
My first real job, my first W2, was cleaning up a radio station at night and on weekends. Over time, I got to know the owners, and landed a job as a weekend DJ. I had a real job.
I’m a classically trained pianist, and at 15 I got my first church gig, playing organ during services. Now I was really generating revenue.
I finished high school a year early, but at about the same time, I encountered a detour. My father had a run-in with the minister of the church where I was playing – and where I was also active in the youth group, and dating that minister’s daughter – and he gave me an ultimatum: either leave the church or leave the house. I left the house.
I was 17. I packed my things and found a place to live. I was supporting myself with two or three jobs. Making it happen required quite a bit of all kinds of persuasion.
I was learning how to make things happen. Whatever it was that needed to happen – a place to live, income – I was finding a way to make it happen.
Though I never paused to think about it for long at the time, I can say now that at times I thought something was wrong with me. Why was I always starting something new? Why couldn’t I just settle for average? Why couldn’t I just be calm like everyone around me? Why was I always stirring something up?
Only when I embraced who I am, and came to love what made me different, did I realize that there’s a reason I am who I am. The passion and drive were in me for a reason. I had value to bring to others.