There's an old saying that you can't judge a book by its cover. Otherwise, you might wonder what on earth Brandon Steiner is writing about in his terrific new book, "You Gotta Have Balls."
Yes, you read that correctly. Catchy title, to be sure, but a completely accurate description for the story of the guy who runs the largest sports memorabilia business in the country, Steiner Sports Marketing. The subtitle explains: "How a Kid From Brooklyn Started From Scratch, Bought Yankee Stadium and Created a Sports Empire."
Brandon's rags-to-riches story is inspirational, fascinating and, best of all, replicable. He started his life in a very poor apartment with a single mother who was often sick. He escaped to Yankee Stadium whenever he could scrape enough money together, just to have a break from his less-than-idyllic life.
A born salesman, he shares the story of his early endeavors delivering newspapers. When he was having trouble signing up customers, his mother challenged him to find other services to offer to prospective customers. What else could he do for them?
So Brandon, who lived near a bagel shop, told customers he could deliver bagels or milk in addition to the newspaper. Before long, he was delivering 100 daily papers, 150 Sunday papers, 100 gallons of milk every week and more than 100 bagels every Sunday. He found his passion at a very young age and parlayed it into what eventually became a multimillion-dollar business.
His success is summed up in one of his favorite sayings: "If you want more money, don't pay attention to the money. Pay attention to the thing that makes the money."
Brandon is the master of "what else?" -- the attitude that has helped him develop the winning formula for his success. This book is a game plan for any aspiring entrepreneur or anyone in business.
One of his childhood passions led to his blockbuster deal to buy the old Yankee Stadium contents for $11.5 million. "I wanted to buy the priceless remains, from the foul poles to the lockers to the bullpen bench. I wanted every seat, and every sign -- and of course, every patch of dirt and grass," Brandon said. "In preserving these totems from the wrecking ball, we'd also be preserving a very substantial part of people's lives. We had to treat it like your grandmother's home -- respectfully, delicately. Every little piece had a meaning and a story."
His attitude stems from years of customer service, from his paper route to hotel jobs to building his own company. He reminds readers to focus on relationships, not transactions. "Do as much as you can, for as many people as you can, as often as you can, without expecting anything in return," he says.
"You Gotta Have Balls" reads like a great novel, and teaches like a great textbook. Brandon Steiner's story inspires, amuses and motivates all at the same time. Read it, study it and get your game plan together.
Mackay's Moral: What else could you be doing for your customer?
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.