As a frequent flyer, I expect flight delays, crowded planes, and people around me being stressed in airports or anxious about flying. However, something happened on our flight last Sunday that was completely unexpected.

It’s the subject of Lesson #9 in our series of Ordinary Encounters with Extraordinary People.

Lesson #9: Learned from Captain Tim

Dee and I were flying home from Miami to Newark on Sunday. Although people are more relaxed on weekends, you could still feel the tension in the airport. As we were waiting, I happened to read a Tweet of a friend who was upset about…

Last week Dee and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary together. We spent the day in Philadelphia — the city where we first met. While strolling through Rittenhouse Square Park, we had a memorable encounter with a man who inspired lesson #8. It’s a simple lesson in finding the strength to push through the obstacles that life throws our way.

Lesson # 8

Regardless of where you are in Philly — at the Italian markets in the South, on the playgrounds in the Northeast, or walking the cobblestone streets in Old City — there is a grittiness in the air. After…

We’ve all heard some version of the adage — “tomorrow is not promised to anyone”. It’s our reminder to live in the moment. Easy to say — hard to practice. What if you were told “you didn’t have many tomorrow’s left? What would you do differently…how would you change?

Chris and I recently met someone who was presented with this fait. What he did was pretty extraordinary — turning a life-threatening obstacle into a life-changing inspiration.

It’s our Lesson # 7…and the most heartwarming one so far.

Lesson # 7

A few weeks ago, Chris and I found ourselves on…

It was Dee’s turn to write the next post in our 25 Lessons Series, but she’s in China this week. So, I’m taking #6 off her plate — with a simple one that everyone should learn.

I went from selling staffing services for my family’s business in my 20's, to an entirely different stratosphere in my 30's. I landed my first mega deal — a $300 million dollar IT contract with a $600 million dollar joint-venture at age 35. I’ve had a gratifying career in IT services, however, I remember when I almost gave up.

Lesson # 6

I was…

Whenever I talk about or teach sales, I try to reshape the often negative perception people have of our profession. I often share stories that link selling to something purposeful. Usually I start a discussion by saying Selling is to Serve — a virtue I learned from my catholic upbringing.

I talked with my Great Uncle Mike recently — a loyal husband, devoted father and proud veteran — and I was reminded of what it truly means to serve others. I hope you enjoy his story.

Lesson # 5

Holding his older brother Denis’ hand, Michael Sheils boarded a ship…

I get pitched by new companies all the time. It’s one of the best parts of my job. I know there is a lot riding on a meeting with a large enterprise like American Express. However, the pressure to impress often causes people to do or say things that turn a buyer off.

Highlighting credentials is fine, but, name-dropping and number-boasting are not endearing qualities. Sharing client names is okay, but, sharing the sensitive details of the relationship is not. Focusing on sounding important won’t get you the second meeting. Focusing on what is important to the buyer will.


If you’re following “25 Lessons,” we hope you’re enjoying our perspective. We’ve taken a personal approach to a “how-to” series. Dee and I have tried to make our stories authentic with relevant learnings from everyday experiences. Please let us know what you think.

If you want to read more, please sign up for the launch of where we will be sharing more insights, useful tools and approaches that will improve how business gets done.

I had a subject in mind for Sales Lesson #3, then something happened last Friday. This lesson was tough to write.

Lesson # 3 —…

I’ve become pretty good at running in high heels since I took the job at American Express. Around 5:30, you’ll find me sprinting from my last meeting of the day to catch the PATH downstairs in our building. Soon I’ll be able to jump over a turnstile in Newark to secure a seat on my connecting train (If men only knew what it felt like to wear these shoes — there might just be a few more open seats).

I was commuting home a few weeks ago when I got a call from my step-daughter Sarah (we call her Sharky).

Lesson # 1- Learned from the Best Shoe Shine in Texas

So, you want to learn to how to sell.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money or sit in a classroom to learn the basics of sales — great lessons are all around us. My wife Donna (Dee) and I keep notebooks of lessons learned from everyday encounters by extraordinary people…just like this one.

Lesson # 1

Soon after deplaning at DFW airport, I could hear my favorite shoe shine guy just ahead.

Shine ’em up….Shi-i-i-i-i-ne ’em up” he bellowed in a deep voice.

As I walked…

Chris and Dee

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