It’s easy to talk about buzzwords like motivation and resilience, but without proper action steps, they are fruitless. Joining Victoria Wieck is Asia’s #1 Business Coach, Daniel Tolson. In this episode, Daniel defines emotional intelligence and empathy and their impact on sales. He also breaks down the four fears business owners have that hinder them from success and counters them with tips to help you overcome and deliver. Plus, Daniel shares actionable, achievable goals to help you translate emotional intelligence and motivation into your life. Get a look into Daniel’s inspiring journey from overcoming learning disabilities to now helping others succeed by tuning in.
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Daniel Tolson On Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, And Overcoming Fear in Sales
I’m so excited to share this time with you with an amazing business coach. In fact, he is Asia’s number one business coach specializing in emotional intelligence. Ladies and gentlemen, can we all agree that we all need more emotional intelligence? The world would be a better place if we all exercised more emotional intelligence. I want to introduce you to Daniel Tolson. I’m going to have him explain a little bit about himself and his amazing journey. This is where I’m going to have him speak to you about it directly. He has an amazing story that’s very powerful. Daniel, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me here. It’s a great pleasure.
Tell my audience a little bit about your journey and specifically all of the learning disabilities, fear, and limiting beliefs that you have had to overcome yourself, which has fueled your passion for helping other people overcome similar obstacles. Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I remember running at school in the school carnivals. I will be running, and my knees will collapse. My mom would be saying, “Daniel, what is going on?” I said, “I don’t know. My legs collapsed.” At age eleven, one day, I came home. I stood in front of my mom at home, and my whole body collapsed. She said, “Daniel, it was like a bag of bones on the ground. You collapsed. We started to get some medical treatment. We noticed that your hips are out of alignment. Your spine and neck were twisted. They discovered the platelets in the cranium were pushing down on the left and right hemispheres of the brain. That was giving you all those constant nosebleeds that you had.”
As I started to do these checkups, they realized that I was visually impaired. Albeit I had a 20/20 vision, I still couldn’t see properly. I was going for music lessons and constantly make mistakes playing the guitar. I was repeating mistakes over and over again. They realized I was tone-deaf. I’ve got diagnosed with a linear sequential learning disability. It was one of these interesting disabilities where you could see everything on the blackboard at school but when you write it down, nothing matched on the paper. When I would read what was on my paper, it was all jumbled up.
I could remember the kids laughing at me, and the teachers started to think, “Maybe there’s something wrong.” The teachers did some work with me, and then I was diagnosed with a linear sequential learning disability. For five years, I sat in remedial therapy. I remember going to one special school. They sent me down with a big piece of butcher’s paper. I was probably about twelve. All the other kids were about age five. I knew there was something wrong.
All I had to do in this room was to draw a figure eight on a piece of paper. By doing this, it was supposed to be re-aligning the left and right hemispheres of the brain. I was doing that, and this went on for five years. After five years of remedial therapy, I’ve got Epstein-Barr Virus, chronic fatigue, and teenage chickenpox. I dropped out of school and never finished school. In the following two years, I had reconstructive knee surgeries. The first nineteen years of my life were a mess.
That’s what makes it amazing because most people could have and would have given up. It would have been so tempting and easy to limit yourself and say, “It’s because I have physical limitations, and I can’t think clearly. It’s because something is wrong with my brain. I was medically diagnosed. I’m doing the best I can. I’m doing great for people that are disabled.” It wasn’t enough for you. You decided that nothing was going to stop you, and you were still going to find your maximum potential.
You found a formula that worked. I’m sure that there were a lot of professionals that helped you along the way. If you, the patient, aren’t willing to work with that and experiment and be constantly in search of excellence, you wouldn’t have come to where you are now. The word emotional intelligence is something that seems to be a lot of people are now using as buzzwords. In your opinion, what is it? Why do we need it? How does it help you get ahead in life?
It’s a buzzword, and people throw it around. We’ve got to get back to the roots of it. It’s being street-smart. That’s what it is. My parents were pawnbrokers. They bought and sold secondhand goods. We used to buy and sell secondhand jewelry. My parents were not formally educated. My father was a farmer. My mother was a hairdresser. They were street-smart. They could read people. They also knew their strengths and weaknesses. When we look at emotional intelligence, it’s being street-smart. We can use that intelligence in business and get rewarded for it.
Dr. Daniel Goleman said, “Emotional intelligence contributes to 58% of your success in your daily life. It’s a huge contributor to success.” When we look at somebody who is confident, confidence is a part of emotional intelligence. Imagine trying to do a business, and you lacked confidence. Imagine trying to do a business, and you don’t believe in yourself, and you are comparing yourself to other people.
What happens is you feel worthless. You don’t feel that you deserve the good things, so you don’t take action. The first part of emotional intelligence is that self-awareness, “Who am I? What are my strengths? What are my limitations?” Instead of focusing on what is wrong with you, you focus on your strengths. What we say is, “What you focus on grows.” You focus on your strengths and apply to them. That’s where you start to grow your business around that strength.
That’s interesting because you say that something like 58% of your emotional intelligence is directly responsible for your success. I would argue that’s 80%. I have a Master’s degree and all that, which I don’t use. Thank God. I had to unlearn how to do that. When you say the word street-smart, how do people get street-smart? In my opinion, it’s people that have a pulse on other people’s emotions.
If you look at a customer and you are going on about something, and your customer is staring at you like blank-stare, somebody who is street-smart is going to go, “I have lost this person. I need to get back on track.” Where somebody with a PhD in Communications might go, “I’m doing fine. This person doesn’t understand. They don’t realize that the customer is what matters to you.”
If there is no empathy, there is no sale. People are 100% emotional when it comes to purchasing.
I tell people in marketing, “If you can’t convince a fifth-grader, then you have lost it. The fancier words you use, somebody you are talking to is either confused or they have to look up a word in the dictionary, that’s each and every opportunity to lose a customer for good. If they don’t understand you, they are not going to buy anything from you.”
Street smart is having a pulse and understanding how to read body language. It understands when I say, “Daniel, welcome.” We shake hands, and everything is great. All of a sudden, he started staring at you. You know he is either confused or he doesn’t like what you are saying. He is not interested or something else is distracting him. You don’t have his attention. You’ve got to do something right.
A street-smart person would be pivoting and thinking about, “When was the last time he was smiling at me? When was the last time he seemed so excited?” and you want to go back. On TV, we do this all the time. We have to read the screen. The host is talking in your ear like, “When you set a soccer mom, all the phone lines in California went through the roof.” I would pivot, “When I took my daughter to the soccer games, you keep on doing this.”
Street-smart is not something you have to go get a degree on. It’s caring more about people and understanding your plan. That’s an important part. I don’t have any problems with people who have all these academic degrees. A lot of times, when you get that, you hide behind those papers, certificates or whatever you’ve got thinking that you are on a higher-playing ground or that what you are saying is intelligent. I feel like some people lose something in the process of getting all those degrees.
What you are talking about is empathy. Empathy is the ability to read other people’s emotional makeup. That comes through sensory acuity. I will unpack what you are saying. You have heard the voice in your ear. It’s soccer moms. A lot of people hear soccer moms. It will go in one ear and out the other but you’ve got that sensory awareness to say, “This is emotionally interesting to people.” You focus on that. Also, it’s hearing that and saying, “This is important to others.”
What people don’t understand about empathy is that if there is no empathy, there are no sales. People are 100% emotional when it comes to purchasing. We become logical in the left brain, and we make the decision in the right brain. When you find those little things, you drill down into them. It’s like following that seam of gold. It might only be an inch wide but it could go a mile-deep into the Earth.
Daniel has written a few books. My favorite is the Mental Detox. He has another book called How To Win a Sales Now. They go both hand-in-hand. A lot of people who teach you how to gain sales will teach you all these manipulation tactics on digital media, digital space, or all the marketing buzzwords. Whenever you are doing marketing campaigns, even advertising or giving a speech, when you don’t have empathy, and you are not authentic, it shows through. Believe me. Those people that are buying from you know when you are full of BS, and you have never cared about anybody. If you learn all these buzzwords, they know.
If people don’t like and trust you and don’t think that you care about them, they are not going to buy anything. In America, we have a 30-day money-back guarantee for everything. You are not going to do it. It’s caring about what other people think and always having that pulse. It’s caring enough to know their temperature when they are angry, starving or confused. What you are asking is to invest time to understand that.
In that sense, people like you and me with learning disabilities had to work extra hard. Back then, in the 1970s, when I left, we were second-class citizens to men. I watched my mom watch body language in a room. I watched my mom and grandmother not only pay attention to what was said in the room but also what was left unsaid in the room. Between that and my learning disability, I’ve got pretty good at being quiet and a great active listener.
That’s something that our society needs more than ever before. Daniel, let me get back to overcoming fear, the lack of confidence, and courage. It’s all these things that limit not only your beliefs and performance but also your potential. Give me 2 or 3 tips on how we can handle this. You could go to Daniel’s website. It’s DanielTolson.com. Share with us a few nuggets here.
The first step is self-awareness. Self-awareness is being able to name the fear that you are experiencing. We say, “If you can’t name it, you can’t tame it.” There are four fears that are going to be triggered when you start your business. The first one is the fear of being taken advantage of. If you are experiencing the fear of being taken advantage of, you won’t be asking for help. You will hear messages from experts and authorities. You won’t ask for help because you are afraid of being taken advantage of.
The second one is you will feel the fear of rejection. Rejection comes when you are about to stand up, pitch your product and service. You will say, “I don’t want people to disagree with me and say no.” You experience that fear of rejection. Thirdly, it’s the fear of losing your stability. Many people who have got a side hustle are afraid to go all-in because they say, “What if I try then lose my financial stability?” They get stuck in their comfort zone.
The fourth one is the fear of trying and then making a mistake. They say, “What if I try and make a mistake? What will people think of me if I have a temporary failure? My whole world is going to fall apart.” The first part is self-awareness. The second part is being able to regulate these fears. That’s the key thing. When it comes to regulation, one fear that’s triggered can impact your performance for four hours. You may get the fear you triggered, and then for the following four hours, you are like a deer in the headlights. You have frozen and you are not productive. All business virtually stops.
Thirdly, you need to have resiliency. In business, you are going to fall over many times. The majority of the things that you do are never going to work but I can promise you that 1 thing out of 100 that you do will pay back so handsomely. It’s like you’ve got more than half a billion dollars in sales. I bet the majority of things at the start didn’t work.
If you can’t name it, you can’t tame it.
Eventually, once you figure out what doesn’t work, you find the one thing that does work, and you start to put all of your energy into that. That’s why you need resiliency because you are going to fail a lot, and you’ve got to keep getting up. You can’t stop. You’ve got to keep moving forward. Those are the three things. It’s self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation.
Here is the thing. Of the things you named, self-awareness, as hard as it sounds, it’s probably one that most people don’t have a problem coming up with. In fact, they are going to come up with too many things that they are aware of, “I can’t sell. I’m not a salesperson. I’m not good at accounting.” There are all these things that they can’t do. Of all those, resilience and motivation are the two things that consistently people have problems dealing with.
In the first few years, I would send out 50 letters that were manually typed. This was before computer days. I would send out 50 letters every single day. The conversion rate was at 10%. At that time, they were telling me, “You are lucky if you get 10% of the people to respond and 90% of the people who respond will respond with no.” Your conversion rate of getting a maybe or yes was at 2%. It was very low.
If you look at someone like Michael Jordan or you can take LeBron James even. I’m not a basketball fan. I don’t even understand it. Whenever you do watch him play, every other shot, they don’t make it. They are not making 90% of their shots. They are making 30% of their shots. If you think about that, they are the best. Can you imagine the professional basketball players who are not legacy names? They are missing 60% to 70% of their shots.
Someone like Michael Jordan is given a lot of the Hail-Mary shots when the clock is winding down. They’ve got no shot at all. He is making whatever. That’s similar to our business environment. A lot of the stuff that we do are Hail Mary. Do you see somebody like Babe Ruth? When you read his stories, he was batting 400 or 500. That means 5 or 6 times out of 10, he was missing as well. They have made such a name. Don’t be afraid when you fail and when something doesn’t work out.
Rejection is feedback. What I do always is to ask people, “Thank you so much for writing back to me because most people never take the time to read my letter. Of the people that read my letter, very few people take the time to tell me no. Thank you so much for even doing that. If I can indulge you a little bit about why you don’t want it, is it too expensive? If there is any feedback you can give me, I will be so blessed. You don’t have to buy a thing from me.”
When they give you that feedback, you incorporate that. You can go back months from now. You can go use it with other pitches because they are giving you some good feedback. That’s how I’ve got my business started. The resilience factor doesn’t just mean that you have to have thick skin. It means that you’ve got to make that commitment no matter what. Don’t let those temporary rejections and failures or whatever outcome that you didn’t get to set you back because you’ve got to stick to it.
I listened to Denzel Washington when he gave a commemoration speech at graduation. It was such a befitting thing that he was giving this speech at that very stage that he had assumed was going to be his last audition. He said, “I have been going to audition after audition forever. I’ve never even got a one-liner.” People said, “You are not a good fit.” He said, “I had booked this audition.” He realized for the audition before that, that he was never going to be a good actor. He was never going to get a break.
He said, “I gave my word that I’m going to come to the audition, and there were people waiting for me. I will give my best and let it be. I’m going to go and be a taxi driver or whatever life has waiting for me.” That’s the one he got a breakthrough role. He said, “Had I quit the day before or had I not shown up to this one because I was disappointed, there would be no Denzel Washington.”
He was giving that speech at that very auditorium that he was not going to show up to. He showed up to this one. Resilience is a huge thing. The last thing is motivation. I don’t know about you. I’m going to ask you a little bit about this now. You are suffering from anxiety with all the fears and everything else and then something doesn’t work. You are like, “Everything I fear came true.” It’s so easy to do.
If you are lucky enough to have a wife, son, friend or colleague and say, “Daniel, that’s not true. Look at what you have all accomplished so far. You didn’t get exactly what you wanted but look at all the stuff that you learned. You’ve got to keep going.” You keep going, and then the second time something doesn’t work, that definitely gives up. You don’t even ask anybody. That’s what I see a lot, especially with Millennials. They don’t have patience, resilience, commitment or persistence. How would you advise someone on the best way to motivate themselves in that situation?
I wrote a book called Free Drugs for Entrepreneurs. Free Drugs was all about releasing this competitive advantage in your body. The first thing about motivation is our goals are in the future. We are going to spend the rest of our life in the future. If we are optimistic about our future and believe within ourselves what we can achieve, then we become more resilient. There are a couple of things we’ve got to do. The first one is we have to set a goal. That goal has to be realistic for us.
If you have a goal that is totally unrealistic for you, then your subconscious mind says, “This is not true. I reject it.” You will cause fears, doubts, and limiting beliefs within yourself. We say, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. By the yard, it’s hard.” Have a big vision but have goals that are achievable. When you set a goal, you get dopamine. Dopamine floods through the body, and it gets you excited. It’s that thrill of the chase. You haven’t started yet, but you get excited. Secondly, you take one step towards that goal, and the body releases adrenaline. The heart starts to pump, and you get excited. Once you achieve a little win or one small step, and you succeed there, the brain releases serotonin. That is nature’s happy drug.
Once you’ve got these three neurotransmitters and positive chemicals in your body, dopamine, adrenaline, and serotonin, you can’t feel depressed and anxious. Your enthusiasm levels start to rise and you say, “If I can take that, I can take the next step.” It’s one step at a time. If you can do those one steps, then you will keep that motivation. It’s not just it’s going to stick around for a day. It stays around for weeks, months, and years. That’s a competitive advantage.
You have unlimited potential. You can do more than you ever thought you could.
What you are saying is to take that next measurable step, and then it’s a cumulative effect of training your body to release happy chemicals it uses on its own. I enjoyed our conversation. You brought some incredible knowledge. A lot of times, when we talk about things like emotional intelligence, motivation, and resilience, these are very vague words. A lot of people don’t use it. I’m sick and tired of listening about motivation, inspiration, encouragement, empowerment, and all this stuff.
If they are not matched up with action and goals that are achievable, then they just become words. They don’t transform your life and your way of thinking. You can’t then impact other people, which is depressing because you are working pretty hard to do that. I appreciate all the knowledge that you shared. For any young entrepreneurs, would you like to say 1 or 2 words that are key to how they would succeed that you haven’t discussed before? It’s a little tip if you want to leave with the parting.
You are so much more than you think you are. Your DNA is what you are made of. If you could stretch it out from where you are, it would reach the sun and back 300 times. You have unlimited potential, and you can do more than you ever thought you could.
I completely agree with you on that, whether you are talking about Elon Musk, Bill Gates or Jeff Bezos, each person came to Earth, born with the potential to be whoever they wanted to be. Some of us have it easier than others. The other thing that you and I didn’t discuss and that we probably would agree on is the quality of life that we desire too by doing this right. It’s not just grinding it out all the time pointlessly.
Ultimately, all the entrepreneurs want freedom from our horrible bosses. We want freedom from feeling like a slave to a paycheck. We want to be able to live our life the way we design. Thank you so much for coming. Once again, would you tell us how the audience can reach you and all the freebies that you offer on your website?
Come and play. My website is DanielTolson.com. There are a ton of resources. There are my free books, Mental Detox and How To Win Sales Now. Set that goal. There are a lot of free webinars and training also, so you can develop your emotional intelligence.
Thank you so much for joining me here and coming to the show. For all of you reading, I always say, “Be happy. Happiness is your choice.” I hope you make great choices. Have a wonderful week.