One Percent Improvement
By Lisa Gschwandtner
After completing 17 Iron Man Triathlons (swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles) and becoming a world-record holder for the Iron Man USA course, Don Fink knows the importance of training and self-motivation. At his most recent job as managing director of the Mid-Atlantic Region for the Private Banking Division of Citi-Group (where he headed up a team of about 30 professional salespeople who helped $30-million-plus executives with their investments and other financial needs), Fink says the worst thing salespeople can do is work only for the short-term.

“Some days people will be all pumped up and they come in and make a lot of cold calls,” Fink observes. “Other days they’re burned out. They aren’t in the mood to do it.”

Fink sees a strong parallel between achievement and consistency, and believes salespeople who are in it for the long run will get better results.

“Don’t have the idea that you’ve got to have this mega-big day and do 150 cold calls and then tomorrow be so burned out from it you can’t do anything,” advises Fink. “The same applies to training. Going too hard, going too long and then having setbacks is really what you want to avoid. Consistency is the key.”

“If I had to pick one thing that’s been my key to success, both in business and athletics, it’s to just focus on getting a little bit better at a time – just 1% better than where you are now,” says Fink. “And it’s also very helpful if you can figure out ways to benchmark that so you can actually gauge your progress over time. But if you focus on just getting 1% better all the time and block everything else out, the gap keeps closing, and sooner or later you look back and you realize that those 1%s have added up to substantial improvement.”

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