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Street SmartsSM:
One small man provides giant inspiration

By Michael Nardy, Electronic Payments Inc. (EPI)

Recently, I was watching "Rudy," a movie about Rudy Ruettiger, the underprivileged, undersized football player attempting to fulfill his dream of playing for the University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish in the mid-1970s.

As much as it pains me to know a movie I have watched is about the Fighting Irish - myself being a Boston College graduate and harboring generally ill feelings toward anything Irish from South Bend - I have to say this is one of the most awe-inspiring and hopeful movies on television today.

I would also venture to say that the two best "triumph" movies are "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Rudy." Thankfully, they both receive constant airplay.

Who is Rudy?

If anything, I am using "Rudy" as a metaphor for being persistent and not letting your dreams fall by the wayside as you fulfill your immediate needs. We all desire a steady income, a solid foundation upon which to build our lives and a stable environment around us, so we may more easily prosper.

I used to say, "I want to graduate college before I do X, Y or Z," or "I need to be 'this' financially stable before I endeavor to do 'that.'" I'm sure you have had similar life-planning sessions - whether drawn out on paper or just gone over in your heads. Each of you has likely placed stepping stones on a path to success.

The problem is we often place stepping stones out there and then deviate from their path. Or, the stepping stones quickly become stumbling blocks. The key is not to let that happen, and when it does, to regroup and reassess your path so that you can, perhaps, take a step back but still continue to move forward.

Rudy had several stumbling blocks along his path. No one in his family had ever gone to college, let alone played football there. His family had tremendous care for one another but had yet to achieve anything above mediocrity.

To have this pint-sized, what would essentially be a "kid" (the real Rudy was 5' 6" and 165 pounds) show the desire and heart to bring himself from the dank Joliet, Ill., steel mills to Notre Dame can be a lesson to any ISO or merchant level salesperson (MLS).

Turn a negative into a positive

All manner of negative thoughts often run through our minds:

  • I can't buy a house before interest rates drop.
  • I can't buy that car because the payment would be too large.
  • My sales need to grow before I can hire an agent.
  • If I don't make that sale, I'm not successful.

The list can go on and on.

Too often, we don't value what we have, nor do we value what we are able to attain. We look around the industry and see fancy cars, big parties, public companies and huge information technology budgets, and we are jealous. The "J" word is a dirty word and can often result in misplaced anger in many areas of life, not just business.

Instead of looking at what you can't do, look at what you can do.

You can buy a house at the current interest rate, but instead of 4,000 sq. ft., it might be 3,000 sq. ft. Perhaps you'll vacate a leased office and bring your work home, deduct a portion of your mortgage as a home-office expense and consolidate some expenses that way. Home ownership is attainable to everyone who plans smart and makes good financial decisions.

You can buy a car. Perhaps not an SUV with a $700 monthly payment, but you can obtain an automobile.

You can hire a sales agent. But before doing so, hire a secretary and see if having someone scheduling appointments, tidying up paperwork, answering calls and relaying messages maximizes your time and increases your deal count. I bet it would.

Persistence in anything - having the heart and desire to move from one deal monthly to 10 or from a $10,000 residual to a $50,000 residual - is a veritable drug that can grab hold of you.

Rudy had been told "no" so many times in his life that I imagine he almost became immune to the word. Or better yet, perhaps he supplanted "no" with another phrase that gave him the drive to do more. Instead of "No, you can't," I imagine he heard in his head, "No, I bet you can't do that." Then he worked even harder to prove wrong the people who underestimated him.

Persistence pays, literally

We don't like to be told "no." It is ingrained in the human psyche that we must have an affirmative answer to any of our demands or desires. Why would we ask for something if we didn't really want it?

Rudy was a yeoman in the United States Navy. Yeomen are petty officers generally assigned to clerical work. Rudy also worked in a steel mill - the same one in which his older brother, father, uncle and friends from high school worked. But he dreamed of something larger, something more important.

If his life doesn't exemplify an uphill battle, I can't see one that does.

How many times have you pitched a merchant only to be shut out? I can think of several locations I've gone into that were not interested in my offers at first. These are places I patronize or businesses that do work for me at my house. The shop where I get my hair cut refused my processing proposals at least a dozen times. Like Rudy, I never let up.

You will encounter merchants who aren't interested in your sales pitch. But don't assume it's the end of that deal. You can always be persistent and try again, so long as you are careful to not let your tenacity turn into an exasperating experience for the business owner.

Take time between visits. Don't let your desire to obtain business turn into the only reason you go to a restaurant, barber shop, gym, etc. The key to sales is knowing when you can push the envelope and what buttons to push. In the case of the hair stylist, I won the account, because they needed another terminal, and I was there to provide it.

With others it might be their need for a quicker funding solution, more processing limits, better local service or an updated terminal. It's your job as ISOs and MLSs to find out what merchants need.

Emulate Rudy's resilience

This article has dealt with being persistent and finding the value in what you do on a daily basis rather than feeling regret over what others have and the reasons you aren't keeping up.

Believe me, you are keeping up. You are providing for your families, paying a mortgage or rent, and putting food on your tables. Many of you are contributing to your communities and to your churches, coaching your children's baseball teams or attending their dance recitals.

It took Rudy three applications to Notre Dame before he was accepted. He took classes for two years at Holy Cross Junior College - not even playing football - just dreaming of the day when he could attend Notre Dame. There was no guarantee that he could even play football for the Irish if he were accepted. He applied anyway.

Now, if you applied to college, how many times did you apply for the "reach" school the guidance counselors said was unattainable for you? Did you reapply if you didn't get in, or did you give up and go to one of the schools that accepted you?

Heart comes in all forms, whether it is on the playing field or on the sales calls you make each day. Remembering that Rudy didn't give up in the face of adversity might help you put things into perspective.

Michael Nardy is Chief Executive Officer of Electronic Payments Inc. (EPI), a founding sponsor of the National Association of Payment Professionals and one of The Green Sheet magazine's Industry Leaders. EPI is one of the nation's fastest growing privately held payment processing companies offering ISOs and MLSs profitable partnership programs and cutting-edge tools to help their portfolios grow. To learn more about partnering with EPI, visit epiprogram.com or e-mail Michael at mike@elecpayments.com

Article published in issue number 061102

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