Trying and Learning: Secrets to Success


Recently, I read a quotation scrawled on a chalkboard in our Comstor Colorado office.

It said, “I have never failed; I have tried, and I have learned.”

I’m not sure who wrote it, or who it’s paraphrased from, but in it I think are two secrets of success: trying and learning.

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to try on a number of different hats and learn a number of new skills along the way. Each role I’ve had has provided me the opportunity to learn by doing, as well as to train and educate myself to bolster the value I contributed to the role.

Early in my career, I became a product manager for Cisco products. Prior to that, I had been in product management, primarily focused on software product lines. As a then burgeoning hardware vendor, Cisco represented a big change for me. I still recall the first phone call I had with a customer who bombarded me with product questions that I could not answer. It was then that I knew that to be successful, I had to educate myself.

As I was learning on the job, I was also learning at home. I embarked on the challenging task of taking and passing my Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) exams. Having taken these two exams, I was better prepared to serve my customers. Moreover, seeking out the training afforded me the ability to speak with my customers at greater depth. It also enabled me to provide more value throughout the course of my customer interactions—ah, success!

The additional training similarly paved the way for me to move into new roles and new opportunities. Ultimately, being proactive and seeking professional development enabled my move into technical sales, which then led to field sales. These experiences, the education on the job, and away from work afforded me the opportunity for further growth, personally and professionally.

As any manager can tell you, staff management is an entirely different world. But, I was up for the challenge and ready to embrace whatever a career in management had in store.

Once again, I looked to learning, education and additional training to help me grow in this area. There are countless books on the subject, each of which has its own nuggets of information that you can take and make your own. The best advice I had was from my VP at the time –he said, “I love managing people. I get to see how unique we all really are.”
What I took from his words — what I learned — is that while we may share a role or a function, we all – no matter our position in the company — bring a unique perspective and style to a job. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it is — in many ways — how we become successful.

In business as in life, we miss 100 percent of the shots we don’t take or the journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step; really, there are countless clichés surrounding success. These clichés exist because the messages ring true for most of us at some time or another.

At the end of the day, these clichés speak to trying, learning and growing. Enjoy your success!

To learn more from Dan’s business and sales tips, click here.


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