Fredrik Eklund's New Book: Read an Excerpt

Exclusive: The 'MDLNY' agent reveals his secrets to success in 'The Sell.'

He's one of the top real estate brokers in the nation—so if anyone knows what it takes to be successful, it's Fredrik Eklund.

In his new book, The Sell (out Tuesday), the Million Dollar Listing New York star divulges his tips and secrets on what it takes to rise to the top. In honor of the book's release, the Daily Dish has an exclusive excerpt of Chapter 1. Check it out below.

Chapter 1

Be You: Forget Selling—Begin Finding Yourself

We’re off! But first, I think an introduction is needed. I’m Fredrik. Nice to meet you! It’s such a pleasure shaking your hand. Let’s celebrate this moment. Look around. We are here, we are alive, and we are on our way to realizing our destiny. I congratulate you for being you. You are beautiful and are going to be everything you are meant to be. And if no one told you they love you today, I will— and I do.

How you connect with other people using your charm, intelligence, authenticity, humor (and looks) is a barometer for how well you persuade, inspire, and gain confidence. (And how much money you make.) It is also critical to how effective you’ll be in promoting yourself whether you’re pitching Donald Trump on a $2 billion development, or a fashion editor on your new design, or yourself via your profile on Match.com.

Every day— no matter what your station in life or your line of work— you are selling yourself. You. Are. Your. Brand. And. Your. Product. In business, it’s important to know your product, but it’s more important to know yourself and what you bring to the table. People trust what’s genuine. You’re not out to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. No amount of money or success is worth losing your good name.

Show People Just Who You Are
Let me tell you how being true to myself not only saved me, but made me, too. After high school I applied to the Stockholm School of Economics, one of the premier business schools in Europe. Each year thousands of people apply and only three hundred are accepted— I was one of them. I knew I was one of the privileged, but it honestly didn’t make me feel accomplished or right.

The Stockholm School of Economics was filled with young men and women, most from good families, all competitive, who dressed up for dinner parties and were destined to be bankers. At orientation on the first day, J. P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs brought sandwiches into the auditorium and presented a future I really wasn’t interested in. The school was an institution, and as I walked down the marble- clad halls with cathedral ceilings, I felt I didn’t have another four and a half years to give until graduation. I wanted to live right then and there, to get out in the sunshine and build something.

The final death to me was in statistics class my first semester, with its auditorium full of formulas and graphs. Everyone had to sit still for hours, taking notes, and all I could do was show up and tune out. I had a hard time sitting still, and to this day I still can’t sit still for too long. I looked out the windows and imagined, What if I could see the Empire State Building outside instead of the summer gardens dying in the crisp fall winds? How would that make me feel? As I was realizing the Stockholm School of Economics wasn’t my thing, a friend introduced me to a girl named Maria who had an idea to build an Internet start‑up offering customer- relationship- management software. Internet shopping was still in its infancy and hadn’t really caught on with most consumers. Maria wanted to solve the missing human touch by giving online shoppers a virtual assistant, or avatar, to answer questions and help at checkout—Siri before Siri.

Maria needed a go‑getter to help her find seed money. And she didn’t have to ask me twice. That summer, Maria and I wrote the business plan in the computer room at my business school and went looking for investors willing to provide financial backing for a start‑up, a.k.a. “angel investors.” We bought student- discounted airline tickets for fifty dollars and flew to Paris to meet with potential venture capitalist types. We slept on the sofa of Maria’s high school friend and came home with $1 million dollars, successfully selling 50 percent of the company before it really existed. And that’s when I decided I wasn’t going back to school.

I dropped out and (then) told my parents I was done with studying. My dad asked me to stay, telling me that an education is for life, something that no one could take away from me, ever. I said my life is my life, and no statistics professor can take it away from me, ever. My classmates thought I was crazy and told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life. I told them they would see, that I was going to prove them wrong. I hugged them goodbye and wished them well on their own journeys.

Big start-ups were hot, and Sweden was ahead of the curve. Mature, successful guys from the old business world were trying to find ways to climb aboard the new, faster economy. They knew they needed to get a horse in the tech race or be left behind, and they wanted to pair with young, smart tech types on the cutting edge. My father, a former speechwriter with the Swedish government, gave me the e‑mail address of former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt and several powerful, high- profile, and wealthy businessmen.

I sent an e‑mail to Mr. Bildt and four or five other major names. I didn’t worry if I was important enough. I took action before doubt could rear its ugly head. The e‑mail simply said to show up at this address, at this time; we have an interesting Internet- start up, and we know you’ll want to be a part of it. Maria and I set up a PowerPoint in a boardroom we’d rented for the day, complete with graphs of how much the company was going to be worth. They all came. Each saw the other familiar faces in the room and realized they couldn’t (or shouldn’t) say no. We offered each of them a small piece of the company in exchange for their names, experience, and faces. Attaching these power players, with their fifty or so years of political and business savvy, gave me— the twenty- year- old entrepreneur— huge street cred.

Two years later, we had more than forty employees and everything felt possible. According to the business plan, we were going to become the number one customer- relationship- management software company in the world. Our new company, Humany.com, was going to take on Oracle. I was the CEO and the youngest person in the company, and with Carl Bildt on the board, we landed on the front page of many Swedish magazines and even got a write‑up in the Financial Times. The Internet was now on everyone’s agenda. The new economy was on fire, and the Swedish media made me the IT whiz kid and placed me on the cover of our most popular magazine wearing a big smile and a Hawaiian shirt while standing in front of the former prime minister.

Working that hard, day and night, kept me sharply focused, and my outrageous dream to move to New York tamed. People said I was the perfect entrepreneur. The press called me a “risk taker,” an “aggressive salesman,” and a “tough negotiator” with a “strong sense of intuition.” At first, I had to sell only an idea, then a company that didn’t exist, and finally software that was still being programmed. By the time our software was finished (and didn’t actually work), the Internet bubble was beginning to burst and so was my head. I was tired and confused. Most of these new start- ups were falling apart. Ours was, too, and our working relationship unraveled along with it. Maria and I began arguing about everything.

It was the turn of the new millennium, I was twenty- three years old, and it was still many years before Facebook and Twitter were founded. Things in the Internet bubble had to happen so quickly; the pressure to grow and be profitable at the same time was contradictory, and the investors and media pushed us to chase more money— or go bankrupt. I remember taking a cab home to the apartment Maria and I had bought together, going into my half of it, and crying by myself. I cried because I was exhausted, and I could see the inevitability of our business’s collapse. I started to feel like a failure. It was too much at once. I had all these peoples’ (and their families’) futures in my hands, and I had no real experience in a world that was crumbling.

Failure was new to me, and I hadn’t yet come to understand that failure is inevitable if you want to be wildly successful (more on that later). I briefly thought, as many do in similar situations, that there would never be another opportunity for me, that I’d never climb out of the mess I was in. I’ve now realized that we are all a combination of failure and success. Like joy and pain, without one, we’d never know the other.

As they say, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps, sold my shares in the company I had started just two years earlier, and got out. I made the very complicated decision to be true to my dreams and to leave the company, my family, and Sweden for New York . . . by myself.

Before I left, I decided there was one more thing I needed to do. I needed to tell my friends and family about the real me, to “come out.” I broke up with my beautiful girlfriend, Simone, who was devastated, and I finally gathered the courage to tell my brother, my mother, and my friends that I was attracted to boys. A few months later, after I had fallen in love again, it was time to tell my father. My dad and I had a nice dinner at the new summerhouse he’d just bought, and before bed, he asked if I’d help him take the garbage up to the bin by the road. I was incredibly nervous, but it was pitch black out, and I couldn’t see him, so that (and the wine at dinner) made it a little easier. I said, “Dad, I’m in love with someone.” He asked me what her name was, and I said, “his name.” He stopped. He was quiet. Then he said, “Fredrik, you are my son, and I will always love you. You can love whomever you want.” My family and friends all proved supportive and assured me they loved me regardless.

Without being the true me— both personally and professionally— I’d never be writing this line right now. I acknowledge that as difficult as this six- month period was for me— quitting my company, coming out to my loved ones, and finally moving from Sweden— I had it easier than many others out there. But here’s what occurs to me. Often the things we think are going to be hard are just hard to start. Once it’s set in motion, it’s liberating. I suppose it’s sort of like jumping out of an airplane. The only real resistance is ourselves, our fear of the unknown. Whatever we need to do to live honestly and whatever transition we need to make in order to follow our dreams and be true to ourselves is the path we should take.

As excited as I was boarding my flight to New York, I was torn, and my head was a swirl of emotions. Had I made the right decision? Would I ever recover? How could I make it starting all over in a city where I didn’t know a soul? I shook off my doubts and buckled up for the ride. I had no choice but to make it work. I wasn’t going to come back with a broken tail between my legs. I was going to make everyone (and myself) proud. Because I had to.

You Being You
I’ve learned the hard way that to be successful and happy in life we have to really be ourselves and showcase our true personalities. It’s such a simple thing to say, but what a difficult thing to discover and carry out. Take note: The number one mistake you can make is watering down your true self because you’re afraid others can’t handle the 100-Proof you. Don’t fall for this. Failing to speak your truth and share yourself with the world in an open, honest way is a costly miscalculation. Many people go to great lengths to hide their true selves because they fear who they are is not the person they’re supposed to be. Erase all that. You are supposed to be you.

Rather than reaching for the stars with everything they’ve got, many people let self- doubt and insecurity take over. Maybe you are inexperienced, but you can still be unique. Stop comparing yourself to others and realize that while you may not have the same things others have to offer, what you do have to offer— you— is enough. You just need to figure out who you are and play to your strengths.

Whether you’re an actress from Springfield taking her first Hollywood audition, an entrepreneur pitching his first start‑up company to a venture capital firm, or, as I was just over a decade ago, an enthusiastic and ambitious (but also terrified!) young Swede trying to sell real estate in a foreign land with little relevant prior experience and no local contacts, your fundamental challenge is to establish other peoples’ trust in you. And trust, after all, begins with one thing and one thing only: the truth. If you want people to believe in you and in what you have to offer, you have to believe in yourself. So I say this: Step out into the world as boldly and confidently as you can. Be yourself and let people see exactly who you are. And, as people get to know you, share your personal story and allow your full personality to shine.

Now, Let's Hear About That Story!
Look at yourself in the mirror. Take a good, long look. What makes you you? I need to know. The world needs to know. You must know. Why? That’s your secret- power source.

What makes me me? I have a European background, an impish sense of humor, deft social skills, and fun hobbies including cooking, photography, and taking care of my dogs. Whatever your unique qualities and passions may be, they are your ammunition when you’re with a customer, a client, your boss, a love interest, or whomever it is you’re trying to sell your products, services, or self to. In the beginning of your career, as my story proves, sometimes personality is the only thing you’ve got.

We all make the same mistakes. We run scared of ourselves.

When I started, I was so nervous working in my first office that I often pretended to be somebody I wasn’t. I thought making jokes would be inappropriate and that my signature, attention- getting high- kick— in which I raise one leg and scream, “Weeee!”— would get me fired. I thought I should hide my Swedish heritage and work on toning down my accent because I feared clients would think I had just gotten off the boat from Europe and knew nothing about New York real estate.

Other people can smell nervousness and insecurities like a shark smells blood. These things can be cute on a first date but never when you’re asking people to trust you in business or with the largest financial decision of their lives. The first secret of this book is that the only way to conquer those nerves is by being your true self.

Break the ice, make some jokes, kick in the air, give your customer tickets to a Yankees or Dodgers or Cardinals game, compliment your client on her sparkly shoes, give your buyer a high five, or do what I have done at least once: Jump out into the middle of Fifth Avenue, stop traffic, and scream, “I love New York!” Be loud, even weird. Tell the client a very personal story. Let your boss become a co-creator of your success by sharing your goals and dreams. Be anything but quiet and boring as long as you are yourself. Yes, I am telling you this: It is much better to be dumped by your client— or your coach or lover— for being too out there and memorable than for being too withdrawn and easily forgotten.

People will always forgive you— probably adore you— for being eccentric, but they will never forgive you (if they even notice you) for being boring. You’ve heard that cliché of thinking outside the box. I’m telling you to throw the box away. Forget the rules of normalcy. I’m not suggesting you join the freak show, but showcase your originality. Find your points of difference. You will rise to the top in your career by being a little unconventional. If you don’t believe me, consider what happens in my industry. Hordes of newly licensed real estate professionals come out every year, and only a few become winners. The crazy and happy ones, not the normal and bitter ones, become the real superstars— the ones people will remember (and recommend) long after they do business with them.

No matter what job, endeavor, or industry you’re in, the sooner you start being you and not some fabrication of what your mind thinks a successful robot from that world should act like, you will be on the road to big success. Why? People love being around someone who is comfortable and happy in his or her own skin. It is always a beautiful thing to watch, and it cuts through any resistance.

Getting Past No
What’s that? Yes. I know, I know. You’ve been beaten down. You’ve had pain. You’ve endured a lot of sh*t! People have told you no so many times you want to get in bed, crawl under the covers with your favorite furries, like my Fritzy and Mousey, and never come out!

Well, since the world has told you no, let me take a moment to tell you yes! Yes to you!

Have you ever heard that life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it? I couldn’t agree more. Your response to any situation either moves you happily forward or holds you frustratingly back. It’s time to move forward. Won’t you please step inside Freudrik’s School of Psychodynamics, where we figure out the relationship between our inner life and the outside world?

I’m so glad you could come. Take a seat. We’re going to talk to little you. You know, the little you at four years old. See that little self of you sitting there? You’re sooooo cute! Where’d you get that darling outfit? You’re bubbly, fun, and full of personality. You skip around the yard with a big smile on your face. You sing loudly in the tub. You love to giggle. Your teacher says you’re an amazing artist. And you have the best lemonade stand in the neighborhood because you are the one standing behind it! Now, what happened between that kid you were then and the you you are now? Did people call you names? Hurt your feelings? Were you abandoned by a loved one? Did your frenemies make you cry? Did your parents tell you to be a doctor instead of an artist? Did you give up on a dream and settle for less? It happened to all of us!

I’ve never told anyone this story, but I’ll tell you now. I’ve always had really long eyelashes above my really blue eyes. When I was fourteen years old, the older guys in the schoolyard began making fun of me by saying I had “girl eyes.” They would yell at me in their pubescent voices, “Look at him! He has girly eyes!” I died inside. I became so scared to pass those boys in the hall that one day I went home and used my mom’s manicure scissors to cut off my eyelashes. My mom asked if I had burned myself, and I just nodded. I felt so ashamed I couldn’t even tell my mom why I did it. I was trying to remedy a problem that I didn’t even have.

But here’s how the world works. Last week, I was out with Jennifer Lopez, showing her $20 million penthouses. We were standing on a terrace overlooking all of downtown Manhattan. She turned to me, took one step closer, as the sun must have been hitting my eyes, and said, “You have the bluest, most beautiful eyes. . . .” I thought of those boys back in Sweden and forgave them. My husband tells me that almost every day, but somehow I think J. Lo saying it makes a better ending to this story.

I’m telling you, we have to let it go. We don’t want to spend any energy replaying the tape of those past hurts, holding on to past mistakes, failures, and sadness. You’re safe now! You made it. We are on a penthouse terrace together. Let’s move on. Because the new you is actually the old you— the person you were before the world got you down.

Think of what Picasso said: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” I say don’t grow up! As kids, we are amazing. We’re colorful. We’re eccentric. We’re full of life. Then a lifetime of sniggers, side eyes, and naysayers encourages us to blend in, be like everyone else, be boring. Guess what? Boring is, well, boring!

I’m not saying you have to be loud or weird to be successful, but you do have to find what makes you special. You can be exciting and interesting, even if you’re not an extrovert. Okay, fine. So you think you are boring. Let’s talk about that, too. You didn’t used to be boring, did you? Look back in your life. You had color; you had laughter; you had vision and dreams. Remember when you got so excited playing with your Transformers and Barbies, building sand castles, singing with your hairbrush microphone, or riding your bike? Let’s go back there. Not to the activity itself, but to the joy you felt performing the activity. The key to success is going back there and finding that you. That’s the real you, the exciting you, the happy you, the you others want to be around.

Someone very smart once said that happiness is temporary but that joy is eternal and love is recognizing that joy in others. I forgot who said it; maybe I just made it up? But I’m glad I did. Because when you are yourself and find joy in all you do and who you are, no one can take that away from you. Need help getting there? Look at a child. Watch them playor eat an ice cream cone. It’s like looking into the face of God. There’s nothing wrong with a child having fun. In fact, we applaud it. But suddenly we get to be adults and the fun must die. We look at ourselves and wonder, What is wrong with me? It’s a downward spiral into the vortex of the deadly uninteresting. You can make the decision to be sad for what you don’t have or glad for what you do have.

I’ve got some good news. You can choose to start your day over again at any time. So, here at Freud-rik’s School of Psychodynamics, we’re going to pull out our erasers and wipe away all of those people who have put us down, the teacher who told us no, the bully who punished us for being different. If you want, write the names of the worst offenders on a piece of paper and literally erase them. Or if it makes you feel better, scratch them out! Scratch hard. They don’t matter anymore. They are yesterday. This is today! We can start again.

Reidentify yourself! Spin around. Do the moonwalk. Skip around the room. Give yourself permission to be fun you again. All the great entrepreneurs I know are big kids. I certainly am. So find the playful kid in you and put him or her on your shoulder. That crazy kid is the first member of your new winning team. Bounce ideas off young you, push thoughts through that prism, and your work becomes more beautiful than it was before.

Do this and you’re definitely on your way to improving your business! What’s the worst that can happen? Um, let’s see. . . . You start enjoying your life? If you can’t be out there being the you you really are, you are wasting time (and your life!). Yes, you’ll get by, working hard, but making very little, and enjoying it even less. You’ll become old, tired, and bitter, and, quite frankly, there are already too many old, bitter, underwhelming people in the world going to bed each night after pretending to be someone they aren’t all day.

Finding that authentic, unique you is the secret to mastering the art of The Sell.

Steps for Bursting out of Your Shell and Being Your True Self

Now, how do you do that? How do you find and express the real you? I know it sounds easy, but for a lot of people it isn’t. Don’t despair. You can do it in five easy steps:

1. Look inside.
In today’s society, with everyone on social media trying to prove how happy and accomplished we are, life can sometimes feel like a giant competition, but it’s not. On some level it is a race, yes, but it’s only a race against yourself. You are your own competition. We all start and end the race alone, which is a beautiful thing if you give it some thought. And one of the first rules of business is to know your competition, which in this case means knowing yourself.

How do you describe yourself? Are you funny? Empathetic? Do you have an interesting talent? Do you juggle, read palms, know some sleight of hand? Are you an amazing cha- cha dancer? Do you play sports? Whatever that is, you’re going to want to play that up. Capitalize on it. Don’t be scared to bring out your box of tricks, make them stronger or louder. Show it off. It’ll make others fall in love with you, the real you.

2. Find your trademark.
Tarzan has his yell, Louboutin has his red sole, and I have my high- kick. They all were born out of a need to stand out. Let me tell you how the high- kick came about. I invented it around the age of fourteen. I had been growing so fast, so quickly that I used to wake up in the middle of the night with extreme growing pains in my legs. I grew a foot in just two years, and it was borderline freaky. I was suddenly tall, but the weird thing about my body is that it was (and still is!) almost all legs. Every time I saw my grandmother, she literally didn’t recognize me. So, I created a high- kick with my long legs to make my grandmother laugh and remember me. It worked. And now it makes everyone remember me.

What do you have? Do you have a signature? I used to try to get my business partner, John, to wear pink bow ties. He finally told me he hates bow ties, but he loves pink shirts. You must be comfortable with your trademark. Even if it’s something small— a wacky broach, plaid socks, or a pocket square— find it and make it the billboard of you. You need it, it will make you memorable, and in the future that trademark will work for you even when you sleep— because others will copy it and spread you further into the world.

3. Get over what other people think.
Let go of trying to please everyone or live up to anyone’s expectations. It just doesn’t work, and that’s a proven fact. I always say to my team that you can fool everyone (for a while) but you can never fool yourself: When you go to bed at night, you know the truth, and that’s the only thing that really matters. If you are not true to yourself and try to change yourself for others, you’ll grow sad because no matter how much approval you gain from others, you will not approve of yourself. You are the one you need to make happy.

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. Start with you and then others will be so comfortable around you, they’ll have to love you. It might take a little time, but the wait will be worth it. I do know successful people who are hiding their true selves, and I know how empty their success feels because it isn’t really theirs; it is someone else’s they have copied or borrowed from. There’s a great quote that everyone thinks is by Dr. Seuss (but is really by Bernard Baruch): “Be who you are and say what you feel because those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.” You were born to be you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You are fabulous. And once you realize this, everyone else will, too, except the never- Ending carousel of jealous naysayers (but more on their important function later!)

4. Know what revs your engine.
What makes you smile? What makes you feel loved? Do you like a challenge? Do you enjoy working with people? Do you want your work to have an impact on your life and the lives of others? What do you dream of? Psychologists say the three biggest motivators are the need for achievement, the need for affiliation, and the need for power. Determine what combination of these things makes you the most excited to get up in the morning, and that will help shape your success. Mine is achievement, for sure. My entire life I’ve wanted to feel accomplished, as if I had achieved something, perhaps even something to be remembered for. Power, to me, is such a fleeting thing and not interesting unless you use it for good.

Affiliation is probably the least interesting in my life, and I never felt any need to belong to any clubs or associations, to be a member of something; if anything I was a loner who had always traveled by myself and loved to be in the minority of opinions. So what are yours? Let me hear them.

5. Embrace failure.
In a competitive world, authenticity rises to the top. Accept your failures, as I have with my Internet disaster, just as you do your successes. That means admit your mistakes— we’ll talk about some of mine later— as easily as you celebrate your triumphs. Take it one step further and really incorporate your failures into your successes, make them yin and yang. Wear your successes and your failures on your sleeve, with an open heart. Speak your truth and tell people your story, just as I have with you.

If you’re always 100 percent you, you’ll be able to put your head down on the pillow at night and sleep well, and wake up again each morning ready to take son the world. This is something that being on television has really taught me: The more real I am, the more open I am about my failures and insecurities, the more love I’ve gotten. I once got completely humiliated on television, and after much resistance, I just gave in. I cried, and I let go. And it was the best thing for me. Not the character Fredrik that people love to watch on TV, but for me inside, my true self— to let my guard down and be okay with it.

Let me take this lesson of being you to the extreme by sharing another aspect of my experience living The Sell. When I am working with celebrities, I have learned that being myself is even more important. Celebrities have fame and money and don’t care about titles, business cards, data, or reports. They have passed that stage or handed it over to their business manager. They assume you are the best at what you do because they’ve found their way to you or you to them— and since they are at the top of their game, you must be, too. They do want discretion, but more importantly, they want somebody real. All day, every day, they deal with people chasing them, telling them what they want to hear, and nodding at their every whim. Everyone is so damn nervous around celebrities. You need to act as their self- assured friend. You need to make them stop seeing you as an anxious, quivering wreck and instead start seeing you as the confident and charismatic person you are. Only then do they want to deal with you.

When a celebrity looks at me and thinks I can actually have lunch with this guy, that’s when I have won them over. And everyone wants to have lunch with you, not you pretending to be someone else. I have shown apartments to Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba, Hilary Swank, Sofia Coppola, Ben Stiller, the Olsen twins, Britney Spears, Daniel Craig, David Bowie, Iman, Marc Jacobs, P. Diddy and so many more. I’ve met them all. And you know what? When I first meet a celebrity, I’m me. I high- kick in front of them, too.

Oh yes: I shook Leonardo’s hand, and then right there, in front of his bodyguard, entourage, and even the sneaky paparazzi across the street, I kicked high up in the air and showed my colorful socks and pointy toes, and squealed, “Weeeee.” I’m sure he was thinking, This guy is insane. But, more importantly, he thought, With that confidence, he must have a lot of experience. And I like him! After my high-kick, I retracted to a boring pose with both feet on the ground, corrected my suit and my hair, paused for a second, and said with a straight face, “I’m number one for a reason.” And guess what? It worked. It works every time.

I always tell my team: No one wants to work with a dull, frightened, self- loathing person. I certainly don’t. And in my business, every transaction involves a lot of money and is a super serious process. It’s probably the biggest financial decision in the client’s life, and if that client doesn’t enjoy the company of his or her agent, he or she should move along. I know I would. I’d rather work on my own and do the search or selling myself than work with Mr. Hard Sell or Ms. Boring. The same is true whether I’m buying a car or a cup of coffee or getting my hair cut. We want to be around good people. When I’m purchasing something, I want the person in front of me to be 100 percent confident, fun, and real with his or her own special personality.

Find yourself. Be yourself. Sell yourself. Trying to do otherwise is a real waste of time. Embrace and celebrate all that you are. Be the best version of you and people will want to do business with you. Let me put it to you bluntly: Life itself is a people business. All the successful people in the world are highly attuned social beings.

We should be able to march confidently into a room, be ourselves, and at the same time really notice and take in all the people in that room. We should be able to detect and understand their behaviors and emotions, picking up on what they say and how they express themselves through body language. We should be able to appreciate and empathize with their most important needs, wants, and dreams. I’ll give you some tricks on this in later chapters, because when you have these key social skills, you’ll attend any meeting, event, or gathering and end up walking home with a slew of new friends and acquaintances (and potential clients or customers).

When you know who you truly are, you are able to listen and talk just the right amount, build trust, and be with people of all ages, sexes, cultural groups, and income levels. Just like it’s supposed to be. It works like this: When you’re you, you’re remembered, talked about, and even bragged about. This has the effect of a stone thrown in water. The ripples go on and on. You’ll reach the best destinations . . . by being you!

Reprinted from The Sell by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright 2015, Fredrik Eklund.

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