A lesson from my old man

he put me to shame

He put me to shame. But not on purpose.

It was a humbling reminder of one of the most fundamental business (and life) lessons ever.

Reproduced here for your edification, at the expense of my ego.

Two years ago, I met my dad for coffee at a coffee shop near my old office.

And by the time my Americano with heavy cream was gone, he had taught me a valuable lesson I won't soon forget.


My dad, a retired teacher, started a salsa business a couple of years ago.

He has an awesome recipe. It's really good salsa.  He has it manufactured by a copacker, and most of his sales are to small specialty brick-and-mortar retailers in the area.

Yeah. He’s in retail.

You want to know how he got on those retail shelves?




He asked a LOT of people.  And he got a lot of NO's.

But he also got some yesses.


In fact, he was in Williams & Sonoma before the pandemic shut down that particular location.


Once he gets placement in a store, he arranges to give "tastings" at the store on weekends.

He sets up a folding table, opens some jars of salsa and a bag of chips, and chats up with anyone who walks by.


He ASKS people if they'd like to try some.

He ASKS people what they think of it.

He ASKS them if they want to buy a jar or two.


It works like magic.

He usually sells 4-8 cases of salsa over a couple of hours.


My dad is not afraid to ask for what he wants.


While we were sitting outside the coffee shop, sipping our coffee, my dad leans forward and whispers,

"Hey, isn't that the owner?"

He motioned towards a guy who had been unloading things from a pickup truck into the shop.

"I dunno?" I answered.

Without hesitation, my dad called over to the man,

"Good morning! Looks like you've got quite the crowd today!"

The fellow turned around to find the speaker, saw my dad smiling at him, and replied,

"Yes! We're pretty busy nowadays. Very grateful!"

My dad stood up out of his chair and walked toward the man, his hand already extending for a handshake.

"My name's John, I'm a local small business owner as well!"

"Oh really? What's your business?"

To summarize what happened next, my dad ended up scheduling a personal "tasting" (ie sales call) with the guy. 

You see, the coffee shop sells breakfast burritos, and customers had been asking if they had any salsa or hot sauce to put on them.

A week later, the coffee shop was selling jars of my dad’s salsa.

Two years later, they’re still selling through a case or two per week.


Most of us are afraid to ask for what we really want.

Because we are afraid of the NO.


But if we never ask, isn't the answer NO by default? 


Is protecting our ego really worth the stunted growth (and probable death) of our business?

I sure hope not.


This week, I am giving you homework.

I want you to ask for one unlikely thing from an unlikely person.


Tim Ferris regularly asks for 10% discounts wherever he goes.

Sometimes, he gets one.

For no other reason than he was willing to ask.


What are you going to ask for this week?


Let me know,


P.S. Here’s my ask for today. I want you to check out the American Marketing Association and see if they are a good fit for you.

If you’ve been hustling alone for too long and feel like you’re losing your mind, I strongly encourage you to find a community or organization that you can share this journey with.

Solo entrepreneurship sucks if you’re truly solo.

Maybe the AMA is the org you need to cozy up to:

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