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Podcast Pit Stop: Jim Cathcart on Mastering Mindset and Sales Strategies

Mastering Mindset and Sales Strategies

In episode 100 of Pit Stops to Podium, we sit down with Jim Cathcart, a renowned mentor, author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker. With his extensive experience as the founder of The Going Pro Experts Academy Mentorship and author of 25 bestselling books, Jim brings a wealth of knowledge and practical insights to our discussion.

During the episode, Jim will explore the essential traits of a great sales professional and the role mindset plays in achieving sales success. He will share proven strategies for bulletproof selling and discuss how "The Acorn Principle" relates to effective sales techniques. Additionally, Jim will provide valuable advice on navigating challenging times in sales and the power of relationship selling.

If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!


Pitstop Highlights

Enhancing Sales Leaders' Mindset for Success

One thing determines success in selling more than anything else:  when a person decides that they will succeed.

It's also important to think like a start up...meaning, everything is on the table (willing to fail; try non-standard things)

Implementing Acorn Principle in Bulletproof Selling Strategies

An acorn has three parts: 

  • the stem (representing the acorn's legacy)

  • the cap (which holds onto the acorn until it drops to the ground)

  • the seed (which represents every oak tree that will come from it)

People are similar:

  • we have a legacy (ancient ancestors)

  • we have a protective cap (all the people who have guided and directed us)

  • we have a seed (the potential that lives in us)

When it comes to selling, you want to take all the good from the past (legacy/stem), all the wisdom you've picked up from your guides (the cap), and all your own talent and caring (the seed) and apply it to each customer to enrich their lives. 

Guiding Revenue Leaders Through Economic Challenges

Not everyone goes broke during down times and not every makes money during boom times.  How you respond to a challenging time will often determine the outcome; the key is to trust in what you know. If, for example, you have a system of selling that has proven time and again to work really well, then continue to follow it.

You also want to make sure you're giving your company the best possible chance to succeed by increasing your prospecting during downtimes.

Connect with Jim




Full Transcript

Brendan:  Hey everyone, welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast, where we talk to execs who competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I serve as a CEO of RevPartners, and I'm delighted to have with me today, Jim Cathcart for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome, Jim.

Jim:  Good to be with you. Thank you for asking me.

Brendan:  Well, hey, this is an honor, a delight and a privilege to have this interview. And for those that may not be familiar with Jim, Jim is a prolific author, Hall of Fame speaker. And he started the Cathcart Institute. And Jim, what I would love for you to be able to do to share with our audience is who the Cathcart Institute is, maybe a few things about your books, but ultimately what led you to start this and to speak and to write.

Jim:  Sure, Cathcart Institute is basically the length and shadow of Jim Cathcart. I formed it back in the 1970s when I first got into the field of human development, and I was working primarily at that time in the financial services industry with companies like Mass Mutual and, you know, life insurance companies, American Bankers Association, and so forth. But my focus has always been on developing the individual so that the individual attracts the outcomes that he or she wants. One of the philosophies I learned from a radio broadcast ages ago, Earl Nightingale, the Dean of Personal Motivation, was become the kind of person who would attract the goals you want, and you get the goals as a natural byproduct. So that's been my operating philosophy all these years. And as you said, I've written 25 books and I've delivered 3,500 paid speeches all over the world, literally all over the world and been president of the National Speakers Association and received most every award they give to professional speakers. So where'd all that come from? Well, it wasn't by getting a degree and how to do it, because there was no such thing. As a matter of fact, in 1972 in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I grew up, I was 26 years old. I'll save you the math. I'm 76.  So I was 22 years old, 26 years old, and I heard this broadcast on the radio and Earl Nightingale that day said, if you'll spend one hour extra each day studying your chosen field in five years or less, you'll be a national expert in that field. And I thought, nah. And then I did the math. An hour a day, let's say five days a week, 50 weeks a year, five years, that's 1250 hours on one topic. Now, if your one topic was something like leadership, you'd be knowledgeable, but it wouldn't particularly make you an expert. But if it was leading small sales organizations, absolutely you would become a leading expert because you've narrowed the field enough to where your specialty is more like a knife instead of a roller spreading paint. And so the more specific your field is, the greater your advancement will be. I chose his field. I knew nothing about it. I didn't have a college degree. I didn't have any money. I was making 525 bucks a month. I was a clerk in the housing authority, urban renewal agency, new wife and baby at home, 50 pounds overweight, smoking two packs a day, never had been an athlete or an academic scholar. And I didn't know anybody. So I thought, all right, I'm gonna have to do more than an hour a day. And first I got to figure out what I want to do. And it took me a few weeks to realize I wanted to do what he was doing. Two problems. I had never given a speech and I had nothing to say. So that'll kind of keep you modest. So I said, all right, what do I need to study? And I got all the classic books like think and grow rich and how to win friends and influence people and power of positive thinking and, you know, success through a positive mental attitude and on and on and on. But there weren't that many back then, you know, maybe a dozen books in that whole field back in the 1970s. Because this was the beginning of what later became known as the human potential movement. And it was all about psychology and applied behavioral science and knowing how to think better, be better, live better. And so I specialized in that, became a fanatical student of it. And about a year later I was able to lead some group discussions on goal setting and project planning and leadership and how to motivate people. And I did 400 of those for free in two years. Let that sink in. Where would I get the opportunity to lead 400 meetings in two years? Junior Chamber of Commerce, the JCs. Back then it was huge. They had 356,000 members, and I joined a brand new chapter in my neighborhood in Little Rock. And they had a program group discussion on leadership training called Leadership in Action. So I participated in one of those. And I said, I love this. When's the next one? They said, we don't have a next one. Why don't you lead one? Well, I led one and another and another. And literally, after work and on weekends and holidays, 400 of them in two years for no pay. Well, the first 50 or so, I was worse than lame at leading discussions. Embarrassingly bad would be a good description. The second 50 or so, I wasn't bad. By the second 100, I was pretty darn good and getting popular. And by the end of 400, I was good enough to go professional. And I got hired by the USJC's national headquarters to be in charge of leadership training for all 300,000 members. So I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where their headquarters were. And the JCs were really big back then because their market was the baby boom. Young adults trying to learn how to become successful. And today, the JCs have pretty much faded away. There may be, I don't know, 12,000 members. But look at groups like Toastmasters which is the leadership training and communication skills organization, it's got 360,000 members all over the world. So the need's still out there, it's just not the baby boom anymore. And so I ended up in the field of training and development full-time being paid at the JC's headquarters, did that two years and said, you know, I think I could do this on my own, launched that on my own. My first client was MassMutual and I got a six year contract out of that. And then I started working with banks and then bankers associations, then the ABA joined their executive faculty. And since that time, I've spoken, like I said, for 3500 clients all over the world in virtually every field you can name. And a lot of them you'd never think to name.

Brendan:  Well, if Dos Equis is ever looking for their next most interesting man in the world, I think I know where they can find him. I appreciate you sharing a little bit about your backstory. And we do have a tradition here at the Pit Stops to Podium, and that's not only to understand more about your professional background, but just to understand a little bit more about you as a person in terms of those passions and hobbies and interests you may have in this season of life.

Jim:  Well, let me show you with my camera. One of my passions is playing guitar. I'm a professional musician. I play and sing and I'm a songwriter as well. And my wife and I still perform. We've been all over creation. I've performed for thousands and thousands of people in China and across the United States. And I've performed for ducks by the lakeside when I didn't have an audience and I was just in the mood to sing. And I've performed in private events and nightclubs and, you know, wine bars and beer joints in California and Texas and all over creation. The latest performance was last week in Austin, Texas at a country music bar. And I'm a motorcyclist. I've ridden my motorcycle all over the world. I've had 18 different brands of bikes.  Toured the Alps on a motorcycle twice, 3,000 miles each trip, the Rockies, New England, all of California. And I was hired by Harley-Davidson in the year 2003 to be their keynote speaker for their 100-year dealer convention. And I don't ride a Harley, I ride a Triumph. But still.  You know, they knew I was a motorcyclist, and so they hired me and I got to speak to all their dealers from around the world in the millennium year. That was kind of a big deal for me.

Brendan:  I bet. Still no Harley? Keeping with the Triumph?

Jim:  No, I had one Harley and it was a little scooter back in the 1960s when I was a kid and my dad bought me my first bike. But, you know, never did buy one since then, but I've had Kawasaki's and BMWs and Hondas and Suzuki's and, you know, there were three or four different Triumphs and other kind of bikes along the way.

Brendan:  All right, Jim, let's transition the big idea. And so one of the things you mentioned earlier in the podcast was your passion on a variety of topics and your ability to speak into those, into wide audiences.  And in light of who we serve at Pit Stops to Podium, it's oftentimes that revenue leader. And that could be somebody in seat or an aspiring sales leader. And look, there's no doubt about it. This day and age, times are a little bit harder. And so from a seller perspective, having the right mindset becomes even more important. And so I really wanna get some of your feedback as it relates to how do it master the mindset and those effective sales strategies so that these sales leaders can be successful. So I wanna start there.  I'll only park there because I think it's really important for our audience. And the place I want to start is really thinking through the traits of a great sales professional from what you've seen, the people you've talked to. So let's talk about that first.

Jim:  Sure. Well, first off, there's one thing that determines success in selling more than anything else. And not a little bit more, a whole lot more. It's kind of like the only thing. It's almost that big. The person who succeeds is the person who decided to succeed, not the person who decided to try real hard. The person who decided they will succeed.  I was asked years ago by an audience member. How did you know you would succeed in your field? I said, because I was never going to give up until I did. And that really is it, Brendan. I mean, seriously, when someone says, look, I'm going to do this. This may not be the way that I get it done. I may have to go around the long way, or I may have to get more help than I thought, or it might hurt more than I was anticipating, or cost more, or take longer, but I'm going to do it. The world cannot stop a will like that. So number one factor or trait in a successful salesperson is the person decides they're going to succeed and they're willing to do the work necessary. Second, is you've got to think like a startup all the time, not like an established business, like a startup. Well, how do startups think? Well, first off, for a startup, everything's on the table, everything. They're willing to completely rethink all the things that they're doing. They're willing to listen to people that don't seem to know beans about this field, but they know about something else, and maybe metaphorically, those principles transfer, right? They're willing to stay later, show up earlier. They're willing to try creative things that nobody thought of before. And though it seems non-traditional, it might be the best idea. Like when I was hired by Mass Mutual back in 1976 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, I didn't know anything about life insurance. I knew little, but not enough to be an expert. And the general agent, Joe Willard, said to me, Jim, I want you to come move in with my agency. We've got a brand new set of penthouse offices and all kinds of facilities you can use. I said, Joe, frankly, I don't want an insurance career. He said, I know. You want to be a professional speaker, a consultant, an author?" He said, you got to do it somewhere. Come hang with us. And I said, well, Joe, he said, no, Jim, look, every other insurance agency in the world hires insurance people to come in and be their sales leaders, the sales managers. I want you to be my sales coach because your specialty is human development. You know more about mindset and motivation than many of, most of the people in the insurance industry know, because that's your exclusive specialty. I know enough about insurance. I can guide them on making deals. You tell them how to stay optimistic. You tell them how to get themselves up in the morning and get them to get themselves to do their homework at night and get themselves to stop thinking about themselves and start thinking more about how they're serving their client. You do your part. You'll do fine here.  Well, I did, and I ended up working for 36 different mass mutual agencies, and then the home office, and then the whole insurance industry and the million dollar round table and, you know, on and on, just in that one business silo. And, you know, I've had lots more like that over the years.

Brendan:  Yeah, I really like the mindset and the motivation you just described. And, um, that's where you start it. And it's really this, I'm kind of channeling my inner Ted Lasso if you've watched that TV show. But yes, yeah, it's the poster above the door. It's the belief. 

Jim:  There you go. I love Ted Lasso. I adore that show. Yep. And let me add something. I had the chance in 1994 since I was in Washington, D.C. at a convention to tour the White House with a group of other past presidents of the National Speakers Association. About two dozen of us. And at the end of our tour, we were in the foyer of the White House and President Bill Clinton at the time. President Clinton came out and shook our hands and took a picture with us and worked the crowd a little bit. Well, I'm from Little Rock, Arkansas. He's from Hope, Arkansas. We know a lot of the same people. And we grew up there at the same time. We're the same age, actually. And so he was talking with us and someone in our group said, President Clinton, we're professional speakers, but sir, in many ways, so are you. He looked directly at me when he replied. He said, you know, half my job is keeping people in the right frame of mind. And I said, that's a keeper, half my job. When you think about it, half your job and my job is keeping people in the right frame of mind. And it starts with keeping this person, ourselves in the right frame of mind. So when we were talking a moment ago about mindset, that's how vitally important it is. Think about the people you know who are driving revenue at massive levels, and then the ones at the next level, the difference in those two is probably not skill. It's mindset.

Brendan:  Yeah. Well, let's, I really like that half of the mindset. Let's dive into the next topic, which gets into some of the elements of one of your book called the Acorn Principle and getting into bulletproof selling. So I'd love for you to unpack that a little bit for our audience to understand. Okay, so it's a mindset, but then how do I really have this approach to how I sell?

 Jim:  You bet. When I wrote the book, The Acorn Principle, my idea in writing it was to make it a self-guided tour of what makes you who you are. So it's psychologically based and it leads you through examining in what ways you're intelligent, what's your natural pattern of energy and drive, which I call personal velocity, what values are behind the major decisions that you make and the motives behind your motivation. Things like that. What makes you who you are? Now, if you think of an acorn, an acorn has three distinctive parts. It's got a stem, a cap, and a seed. Well, the stem is the connection between this seed and all the oaks that ever existed before it. So it goes back to the beginning of time in the line of that particular oak. The cap holds onto the seed until it's ready to drop off and grow on its own. So that would be your coaches, your mentors, your guides, your parents, your role models, your heroes. And the seed represents the potential that still is within you. But it also represents, in this case, the oak tree, every oak tree that will ever come from this particular line. Because one acorn, if it produces a tree instead of becoming squirrel food, it produces millions of acorns for the rest of time. Well, the same thing's true for you and me. We have a legacy going all the way back to ancient ancestors we never knew. We had all of the people that guided us, protected us and directed us. And then we've got the potential that's in us and every life you and I touch continues that legacy down through time. So we matter whether we choose to make a difference or not. We either hold things steady, drop things to a lower standard, or we raise the standards and make a difference. I say it's better to make a difference.

Brendan:  I agree with that. And as it relates to selling specifically, is it the way you would think through that? Is that the legacy that you want to leave for yourself and ultimately for your family? Or how do you approach the Acorn principle from a selling perspective?

Jim:  Well, I would say from a selling standpoint, let's say I'm talking to a company audience right now. I would say your company has a legacy in the industry that you're in or the profession you're in and among the founders and the predecessors who came before you and made this company what it is today and this industry what it is today. The people you have worked with and been guided by have made an imprint on you that will last for a long time and it'll show up in everything else you do in many ways. But then again, you also through your own uniqueness make an imprint in everything you do. You can look at this as a company, you can look at it as an industry, you can look at it as your personal legacy or you can look at it as how you serve your customers. I say we take all the good that has come from the past, all the wisdom we have picked up from our guides and all the talent and caring that is coming from us and apply it to every customer to make their life better. Because the purpose of selling is not revenue. That's a product of selling. The purpose of selling is to make someone's life better. And if we don't do it at a profit, we don't get to repeat it. If we do make a healthy profit, a reasonable profit, we can do it in perpetuity.

Brendan:  I like that a lot in terms of the purpose. And I think it's a really informative way for a lot of our audience. I mean, look, we kind of started the onset that it's a lot of companies are struggling right now. The economy is tough. And so we think both in terms of this ACORN principle, but also in terms of the mindset, how do you coach that revenue leader or that aspiring revenue leader to not only deal with those highs, but ultimately to deal with those low points that and not only occur from a sales perspective, how do they keep the right frame in mind?

Jim:  What I've found is the biggest problem with dips is people lose faith in themselves. And we need to understand that first up, we are the variable. There's going to be constantly an ebb and flow in the economy and in each industry and profession. For the rest of recorded time, but the variable is us, because a lot of people get rich in the downturns and other people go broke in the boom times. So it's not the weather, it's how we're responding to the weather, right? And keeping the faith is a big deal. So if you're having trouble believing in yourself and keeping your own optimism high during a tough time, then believe in what you can believe in. Maybe it's your system. Maybe you're following a particular rhythm or routine that has been proven over time to be the best way to sell your particular product or service. Well, trust the system and follow that system, but make sure that when the times are tougher, when things are scarce, you put more in the top to filter through. In other words, increase prospecting, increase face-to-face contact with people. Increase the number of ships you're sending out if you expect one to come back in. Increase your activity because the natural tendency is to decrease and to withdraw and to isolate and to think more instead of acting more. You need more action. During COVID, I got, I raised my hand and said yes to every podcast, every interview, every phone call I could possibly, possibly connect with. And it allowed me to restructure my business from being primarily keynote speeches to becoming primarily mentorship and online coaching plus occasional mastermind retreats and keynote speeches. And I kept writing books, more and more books.

Brendan:  Yeah, I think it's a great way to personalize it and show an example, because oftentimes it's easy to fall into your point about retreating or feeling like a victim, but no one's gonna feel sorry for you. And so it's up to you to make sure that you get yourself up and say, hey, I'm going to have the right mindset and ultimately gonna attack this with some of that contextual aspects of how to think through what's important to you and your purpose.

Jim:  Yeah, and you also have to learn to counteract your own script, because the negative script in your own head that says, oh, no, you know, I should look for a different profession or whatever it is that's guiding you to scarcity thinking. Scarcity thinking leads to a nice safe bunker with high walls, but it never leads to revenue. Scarcity thinking, you can't save yourself to success, you know, meaning reduce your outlay and so forth. Should you reduce your outlays in a tough time? Absolutely. Should you be more cautious about expenditures? Absolutely. However, you cannot let that be your dominant mindset or you will end up just shrinking your life to the size of your illness and you'll never get better.

Brendan:  Yeah, it's a powerful thought. I appreciate that final word. Well, Jim, as we think through final lap question, if our audience wants to learn more from you, whether that's reading one of your books or hearing you speak or working with your organization, what's the next step that they can take?

Jim:  Easiest way in the world is go to free, nice start, right? Seriously, it's that simple, And you'll be able to download my latest book, What to Do When You're the Speaker. It's not about how to give speeches, it's how to handle all the things that when you're doing presentations, sooner or later you're gonna have to deal with. You know, like the previous presenter goes overtime or the lights go out in the middle of your talk or your laptop stops working or the guy says, you know, I'm sorry, but we just got called away. So talk to her instead. We'll be back. You know, those kinds of things. What do you do? Well, I wrote a book about that. So you can download that free and at that same site, it'll give you the option if you want to book a chat with me about mentorship or something.

Brendan:  That book sounds like most people's worst nightmare. So that should be a good asset and it's free. So Well, Jim, thanks so much for coming on. Really do appreciate it. Love your perspective. And I know our sellers will really benefit from it. So thanks so much.

Jim:  Thank you, Brendan.

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