016 Maura Thomas on Attention Management

Maura ThomasBuilding on last episode’s discussion of avoiding digital distractions, productivity expert Maura Thomas takes us through attention management.

(Maura is also an author, having written Personal Productivity Secrets, and Work Without Walls. She has her own productivity consulting business, Regain Your Time.)

Maura never intended to get into this field, but she was a “Kelly Girl”, as they were called back then and ended up working at a productivity company with David Allen, (grand)father of Getting Things Done (also known as “GTD” to productivity dorks).

In this episode, Maura dives into:

  • Why we tend to measure productivity the wrong way.
  • Why “time management” doesn’t work anymore.
  • Why the “2 minute rule” has been corrupted into bad advice.
  • How Maura got into productivity by accident and ended up working with David Allen the (grand)father of Getting Things Done. Plus, where she agrees with David (and where she disagrees).
  • The difference between “action” verbs (like “plan”) and “actionable” verbs (“call Joe”), and how this relates to productivity.
  • How to build up your ability to focus, including some specific hacks Maura used on herself when she was trying to write a book or convince herself to exercise.
  • The 3 areas of Attention Management (one of which discussed a lot in the last episode).
  • How being mindful can help you not only be more productive at work, but also in your relationships.
  • How to control your attention for your purposes, while everyone else is trying to steal it.

Get the episode now on iTuneslisten on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.

Books by Maura:


Other books mentioned in this episode:

Apps for mindfulness and meditation:

The wine…

verada2014 Verada Tri-county Pinot Noir, (a mixture of grapes from Monterrey, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara).



Where you can find Maura: RegainYourTime.com, @mnthomas, YouTube, Facebook

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Get the episode on iTunes (check out the new Apple Podcasts– nice!)


Listen on Overcast.fm.

Listen on Google Play.

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Episode 15: Jill Konrath on more sales in less time and eliminating distractions

Jill KonrathJill Konrath has written 3 best-selling books on sales, and now she’s out with a new book on personal productivity called More Sales in Less Time, Surprisingly simple strategies for today’s crazy-busy sellers.

As Jill mentions, she didn’t write this book because she started as an expert in this, but “to save my life”, because even Jill Konrath has challenges with getting things done and handling the constant interruptions of modern life.

Here’s a short clip:

 In this episode, Jill talks about:
  • The completely accidental way she got into sales (this is becoming a pattern, right?).
  • Why sales was a great fit for her, against all her preconceived notions.
  • Why she started her own company.
  • How she got overwhelmed with the very technology that was supposed to help her.
  • Why our brain is not optimized for modern life and how it leads us down the wrong path in the modern world. (And what happens to your IQ when you multitask.)
  • The real reason she wrote this book (to save my life)
  • How family emergencies forced Jill to prioritize even more ruthlessly (crossing of the “nice to do’s”, and “like to do’s” and focus on the “have to do’s”. (And why having a “don’t do” list is as important as having a “to do” list.
  •  How Jill used to use her calendar, and how she changed to be more effective with her time.
  • The practical suggestion from Jill’s book that Reuben put into place the next week.
  • The surprising amount of time top sellers spend selling
  • How to use the Pomodoro Technique to get started on tough tasks (Jill says she gets more done this way than with any other technique)

Plus, hear how this interview caused me to violate my own productivity rules. 😉

Get the episode now on iTuneslisten on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.

Books by Jill:

More Sales Less Time

Other books mentioned in this episode:

  • The One Thing, by Gary Keller (who here in Austin created the biggest real estate company in the world)

Apps mentioned:

  • RescueTime— gives you analytics on how you’re spending your time on your computer.
  • Freedom.to— block websites that can drain your time.
  • Unroll.me— easier management of email subscriptions
  • SaneBox— automatically filters your email for you to show you the most important stuff (personally, I’m generally pretty happy with the way Google prioritizes email)

The wine…

I switched to cab for this one– a very nice 2013 Franciscan Estate Napa Valley cab which was quite good and made me think I need to get back to cabernet sauvignon more often.

Jill enjoyed “something white from the fridge.” 😉 She said she’s not used to having wine while being interviewed.


Where you can find Jill: JillKonrath.com, @jillkonrath, LinkedIn, YouTube

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.


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Episode 14: Marylou Tyler on Predictable Revenue and Predictable Prospecting

MarylouTyler_06B_XparentPredictable Revenue is one of the best books about sales to come out in the past decade. There are so many great things to recommend it, but one thing I love is a book that makes me change my mind. Marylou Tyler authored the book (along with Aaron Ross), after starting her career writing systems code. (This might be the biggest change from coding to sales in Sales for Nerds history.) She’s now got a new book out, focusing on the front of the funnel, called Predictable Prospecting.
In addition, Marylou took this episode up a notch, not just with the great advice I expect, but she enlisted a mixologist friend to come up with a special sangria recipe for you (thanks, Jeff Naples). After a successful coding and sales career, Marylou starting sales consulting for companies like MasterCard, Bose, and Apple.
In this episode, Marylou goes into:
  • How she moved from writing code to sales, and how she used her engineering background to go from “freaking out” to sales success.
  • How she set up a sales process before CRM and relational databases (“anything you do more than once can be part of a process”).
  • How she took the stress off herself and improved sales results systematically. Hint: don’t try to fix everything at once. Focus on what needs attention first and A/B test it.
  • The counterintuitive reason she focused on the top of the funnel.
  • The prospecting differences between inbound and outbound.
  • The key thing that drove her success, and why, after 30 years in the field and 2 books, she’s currently taking 5 classes to get better at it (along with a programming class).
  • How to set up “Question Trees” to improve your conversations and take the stress out of listening so you don’t have to think about what you’re saying next, but you can really listen.
  • How to write great emails.
  • And much, much more.

Get the episode now on iTuneslisten on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.

Books mentioned in this episode:


The wine…

Chateau De GrezelsI enjoyed some Chateau de Grézels 2014 Malbec/Merlot blend, a very interesting french wine that tastes heartier than most french blends (due to the Malbec) and more expensive than its < $10 price point would suggest.

Marylou had some Lost Angels Pinot Noir (along with Jeff Naples’ Sales for Nerds Sangria).lostangelspinot




Where you can find Marylou: @maryloutyler, MarylouTyler.com, The Predictable Prospecting Podcast

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.


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Episode 12: Caleb Sidel on moving from dev to sales, finding a niche, and more

Caleb SidelCaleb Sidel got a degree from Carnegie Mellon in computer science and mathematics. I don’t know if you can get an nerdier than that. 😉 (He also got a minor in French, which will come into play in a story at the end of the episode where Caleb remembers me not exactly representing Americans well in France.)
Caleb is a partner and co-founder at Strategic Growth Inc, a Salesforce.com implementation partner that has grown rapidly with a core of partners who are responsible for sales and technology. This means a somewhat different approach to sales (and sales training, as they grow the team). Caleb has a long, long list of Salesforce certifications that I won’t bore you with, but he’s deep into Apex code, the Salesforce API, and more.
In this episode, Caleb talks about moving “up the stack”, from implementing features for internal “clients”, to implementing features for external customers, to doing freelance consulting, to co-founding and growing a firm.
Caleb’s tips include:
  • How to find a niche from a technical perspective. We keep talking about the importance of a niche on this podcast, but what if you don’t know what your real market niche is. Caleb discusses why you can find a niche from the technical side in a way that defines your market niche for you.
  • Why all the partners at the firm have to sell (and keep up their tech chops).
  • The importance of passion, not just with your customers, but with your partners.
  • The really simple way they train their consultants to sell.

Plus, there’s that embarrassing story about me. 😉

Get the episode now on iTuneslisten on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.


Château Teyssier Montagne-Saint-Émilion 2012 bordeaux blend. Delicious. Very french, in a good way.

Where you can find Caleb:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.   Sites mentioned in the Episode:

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Episode 11: Brian Spross on Law, Lawyers, and More

Brian SprossBrian Spross got his degree in Mechanical Engineering, and he takes that meticulous approach to law. Brian’s firm specializes in law for tech firms, and I knew he loved wine, so I thought he’d be a great fit for the podcast.
After all, the legal aspects of business are critical to sales, but even more than sales, something that many technical founders don’t want to consider.
Brian provides some great tips, including:
  • When you need a lawyer.
  • How (relatively) inexpensive it is to set up a company, and why you must, must, must do this.
  • Why people don’t have good contracts in place (and what you can do about it).
  • How the “designed to…” approach from engineering is so useful in law and contracts.
  • Why your technical people need to read (at least) the technical parts of contracts and agreements.
  • Just because you got paperwork from a big, important company, doesn’t mean you have to sign it “as-is”.
  • Red flags for contracts that may cause problems down the road.
  • The simple way to pick your lawyer.

Plus, I recount the painful memory of the one time a client skipped out on an invoice.

Get the episode now on iTuneslisten on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android.


The Wine

La Posta Malbec from Argentina, 2014. Another big red, but really nice and smooth as it breathes.


Where you can find Brian:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.


Sites mentioned in the Episode:

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Episode 10: Scott Ingram on the Path to Sales Success

Scott IngramScott Ingram is the host of the Sales Success Stories podcast, which I’ve been enjoying lately. Scott’s interviews bring a lot of very specific, tactical advice which is great for people who want details.
I’ve tried to follow Scott’s lead in getting specifics.
In this episode, Scott explains:
  • How he got great mentors to help him get his network administration consulting company off the ground.
  • How referrals help, but they can only take you so far.
  • Why you should pick a sales process– don’t try to invent one.
  • Why we often fear sales, and what we can do about it.
  • The importance of having a niche (yet again).
  • How he created a great, nerd friendly sales shortcut.
  • Why it’s easy to recall bad salesmen, but hard to recall good sales experience.
  • Why women are overrepresented among top sales performers.
  • The promise and peril of The Challenger Sale.
  • How to align your sales process to you, so you can sell authentically (and why this is so important)
  • The importance of planning and ritual, including Scott’s morning routine (starting at 4:30).
  • Why there’s no replacement for “time in the saddle”

Scott was also super helpful as a fellow podcaster, using his (much nicer) setup, so this should sound better than previous episodes, too.

Get the episode now on iTunes, or listen on Overcast.

2011 Hawks View Cellars California Syrah
The Wine

Hawk’s View Cellars Syrah, 2011. Big red, but very smooth as it opens up.



Where you can find Scott:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

Books mentioned in the Episode:

The Sales for Nerds Episode with Adam Boyd from Sandler.

The Comodoro Technique, which Scott uses to help him plan.

Need Nudge (relationship app).

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Episode 9: Matthew Pollard on learning to sell

Matthew PollardMatthew Pollard (“The Rapid Growth Guy”) comes on Sales for Nerds to talk about how he learned to sell and become one of the top sales reps in Australia, despite being extremely introverted. He took an approach that seems so simple after he mentions it, but I hadn’t heard of anyone else doing sales “self-training” this way.
In this episode, Matt discusses:
  • How he taught himself to sell, including the steps of the sale, how to turn features into benefits, and how to close.
  • How he taught his team to sell.
  • “People hate to be sold to, but people love to buy.”
  • Why if you’re doing too much “hard core selling”, your message isn’t right.
  • Why introverts have a long term advantage in sales versus most extraverts. (And how to take that advantage.)
  • Why he puts the message first, even before the audience.
  • Why you need to turn features into benefits, and benefits into stories.
  • Why stories are so important.
  • What can I do above and beyond the core functional skills/services/products to give my customer an amazing experience.
  • Why you don’t want to spend tons of time writing “educational” proposals– it not only wastes your time, it decreases your chances of winning.
  • If you confuse the customer, you lose the sale.
  • Practical steps on niching, including a real world example (and a meta-example of Matthew’s storytelling).
  • Why our brains are overwhelmed by input and we have to focus.
  • Focus on the people who love what you do– not the people you can never make happy.
  • Most people have been motivated by fear of not having enough money for most of their lives. They have a set of goals that are driven from here.
  • Why if you do what you love, there’s always more energy (as shown by Matthew in this interview after getting 4.5 hours of sleep).
  • The mistake people make in underestimating themselves.

Get the episode now on iTunes.

barahondaThe Wine

Senorio de Barahonda Sin Madera 2012– lots of pepper and blackberry and some licorice, but not in a bad way. Opens up nicely — although, as we note, it could really do with a steak or a lamb chop. 😉

Where you can find Matthew: Web site@MatthewPollard_, LinkedIn. And here’s his growth exercise.

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

p.s. Here’s Sydney Road, where Matthew started his sales career:

Sydney Road


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Episode 8: Erik Luhrs on Positioning

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs (“The Bruce Lee of Lead Generation”) He is the creator of Subconscious Lead Generation and GURUS Selling, and is the author of BE DO SALE. In this episode, Erik talks about how good positioning provides the foundation for successful sales (and how bad positioning ruins your sales efforts, even if you execute well).
Here are some key nuggets:
  • Why if you’re crashing into a (sales) wall, you don’t want to check the last 50 feet, you want to check your map.
  • Why you don’t want to try to make up for bad positioning with sales heroics.
  • If your market doesn’t appreciate differentiation, you’re in the wrong market, or you’re looking at the market the wrong way. (The majority of businesses that have problems are going after the wrong target market.)
  • If you have chosen the right target market— what’s different about your perspective?
  • Why you need to have a niche (sound familiar if you’ve listened to other episodes?), with some great examples.
  • People’s biggest problem is that they don’t know what they’re biggest problem is.
  • If they don’t understand their biggest problem, they’ll bring in the wrong solution to the wrong problem.
  • If you’re going to do the same stuff as everyone else, you don’t need to open your business.
  • Effective positioning doesn’t just attract the right prospects, it eliminates the wrong prospects, so you don’t waste time and energy on them.
  • Once again, how we are not rational creatures…
  • How he broke the single day sales record at Champs Sporting Goods when he was 17.



The toolkit Erik mentioned.

14pn_huntington_smThe Wine


Pali Wine Co Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara, 2014. Really nice jammy Santa Barbara pinot. 😉 (Erik had a Blue Moon.)


Where you can find Erik: Web site, @erikluhrs, LinkedIn

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 7: Ash Maurya on Scaling Lean

Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean and Scaling Lean, talks about how to build products and companies that matter, while minimizing risk. How can you systematically de-risk your business, so you can focus your limited time, money, and energy on what makes a difference. Whether your company sells products, services, or both, tune in, because Ash says, “Life’s too short to build products nobody wants.”

“Lean” has become a buzzword, and you may not know what it really means (or means to you). In this episode, Ash talks about how you can “run lean”– avoiding wasted effort and minimizing risk, and “scale lean”, by giving yourself permission to scale in stages (tweet).


Ash Maurya In this episode, Ash gives tips on how to avoid wasted effort and minimize risk in a startup, including:

  • Why you need to fall in love with your customers’ problem, not your solution.
  • How to “get out of the building” to talk to prospects to learn from them (not pitch them), even if you’re actually still in the building. (Advice I wish I had followed many times.)
  • How long should it take to prove (or disprove) an idea?
  • How Jason Cohen (from Episodes 1&2) used lean techniques to sign up Ash to the earliest version of WPEngine.
  • If you’re having trouble wrapping your head around “lean”, consider this: “Don’t build a key first and then try to figure out which door it might open. If you flip it around, and find the door first, building the key is easy.”
  • Why the hard part these days isn’t “building the product”, it’s “building the customer.”

And don’t feel bad if you’ve made mistakes on this path.

A reader of Ash’s first book came up to him and said “I wish I’d read this book 5 years ago.”

Ash replied, “me, too.”

Here’s the link to Episode 7 with Ash Maurya.

Books mentioned in the episode:

WH Smith Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012The Wine


WH Smith Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2012. (Listed at $58!!! I can assure you can find it for much, much less than that.) Yummy, fruity, strong California Pinot Noir. If you tend to like that kind of wine, you’ll like it. (It’s strong enough that some decanting, or at least airing, would be helpful. Or, if you can be patient, just let it sit in your glass for a while.)


Where you can find Ash: Web site, Twitter

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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Episode 6: John Livesay on How to Pitch

John Livesay (aka “The Pitch Whisperer”) helps entrepreneurs craft compelling pitches. He’s the author of The Successful Pitch: Conversations On Going From Invisible To Investable (pretty good pitch, right there in the title), host of The Successful Pitch Podcast, and has been featured in Inc., Forbes, Fast Company, CBS, Fox, and more.


John Livesay
In this episode, John discusses how he got into this niche, how hard he worked on his own pitch, plus:


  • The two simple, critical elements of a pitch
  • Why people are so bad at pitching
  • Why stories are so important
  • The importance of establishing your niche (it’s not just about your pitch)
  • What happens when you confuse prospects with your pitch
  • How surviving in the Amazon is like surviving in the business world
  • And much more…

Books mentioned in the episode:

The Wine

Stags Leap ChardonnayWe did this via Skype, so we each had to bring our own wine.ron-rubin-russian-river-valley-pinot-noir-2013

John had some Stag’s Leap chardonnay (@StagsLeapWines).
Reuben had Ron Rubin (no relation) Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (2013). Quite yummy for folks who like Russian River Valley pinots.



Where you can find John: Web site, Twitter, The Successful Pitch Podcast

Update: Check out John’s TEDx talk on being your own lifeguard.


Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com.

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