Jim Yaghi

Goofy 14-Year-Old Sells His Consulting Services

It was 1995. The internet was still on dialup.

He scored his first computer consulting contract. Amazing. Fuzzy little boy, dressed in daddy’s shirt and tie, with awkward, patchy blond fluff growing out of his upper lip. Everything about him screamed,

“Don’t hire me!”

Could you imagine this guy as a consultant?

Could you imagine this guy as a consultant?

Silly-looking teenager. Wanna-be consultant.

It was me.

I suppose it’s hard for you to imagine me like that. You know, since I grew up into such a handsome, cool, heart-stealing, hairy feller. Haha. On second thought, maybe it’s just me mum who sees me like that, aye.

So there I am, standing at the doorway of the office building. Uncle Trevor hurrying me along as I stopped to tie my shoe laces. Dipping my tie on the concrete. I looked up to see an attractive, well-dressed Chinese woman at the entrance.

“Hello,” she said to Trevor.

“G’day,” he called out. “This is Jim, the fella I was telling you about.”

She leaned out with her arm extended and smiled. I firmly shook her hand and mumbled something. Could’ve been “hello” under my breath. I was a notoriously shy mumbler. But hand-shaking, I was used to.

I wondered for a moment if maybe I was in over my head.

Just a few days ago, I was a regular high-school kid. And today I’m a consultant, shaking hands with the CEO of an international company. Intimidating, certainly.

This deal was brokered by Uncle Trevor. A family friend from New Zealand who had moved to Malaysia a little before we did.

As we walked through the office-cubicles and they spoke of business deals, my memory drifted back to Friday, the week before.

Uncle Trevor often dropped by dad’s office on the way home from work to ask us over for dinner or check-in on us. He was a good ole’ Kiwi bloke.

That particular Friday afternoon, I was pretending to do some homework.

The grown-ups spoke.

I eavesdropped on their conversation and heard Uncle Trevor complaining to dad about a communication difficulty they were having with their various international offices.

I looked up from my books and interjected, “Why don’t you get them to use the Internet?”

Even though I was pretty new to the web myself, I was already creating websites and internet applications. Few people even knew what it was at that time.

But to me, the Internet was AMAZING. I thought it was the solution to just about anything. My idea was that they equip all their offices with modems, get internet subscriptions, and communicate by chat and e-mail.

To you that might sound like it’s “duh” obvious. Except you’re forgetting it was 1995 in Malaysia. My Hayes 96,000 bps modem was considered cutting edge.

My old Hayes dial-up modem loved to download at a whopping 7kb/sec lol

My old Hayes dial-up modem loved to download at a whopping 7kb/sec lol

Dude, I was downloading at 7kb/sec and that was the shit!

Trevor liked my suggestion. A week later, he phoned me to ask if I would be interested in coming to his office and speaking with their CEO about my ideas.

I agreed.

And that’s how I got myself in this big mess.

“Why did I open my big mouth?” I wondered. Homework was never so appealing as it was today at Uncle Trevor’s office.

But there was no running away now. And I’d look like a right fool if I ducked behind my father’s friend.

The CEO’s name escapes me, but she was friendly enough. As we chit-chatted, I became more comfortable.

All the while, I was having a conversation with myself. I was insecure about my appearance. I knew that in spite my best efforts, I wasn’t fooling anyone into thinking I was some bad-ass, hot-shot consultant.4

How could I gain their confidence in my abilities?

How could I make them forget my age and awkwardness?

In an instant, I knew.

My plan was marketing in its crudest form. Even as a boy, it was pure instinct.

I had many disadvantages working against me.

  • I was a kid. That was a fact.
  • I was unprofessional. That was a fact.
  • I was a one boy show. And that was a fact.

What possible reason could they have to hire me instead of another expert, older, and more experienced?

They could certainly afford someone else. But I was confident I could serve them well.

And that was my biggest advantage. I was actually very competent as an advisor. It’s important when you are disadvantaged that you draw on your strengths. Computers were my thing. I lived and breathed computers.

I could offer a better deal, faster, for cheaper, and still deliver the same service someone else would.

My reading material in those days consisted of technical manuals–I read them for sport. I downloaded nerdy jokes. I programmed computer games.

For god’s sake, I used to prank-call computer technicians and operators to ask them questions they wouldn’t be able to answer.

Then…

I’d swear and call them names before hanging up.

Silly, I know.

A simple presentation technique I discovered when I was 14 allowed me to nab that consulting contract for myself. And even today, I use it to build trust with customers so they will choose me over everyone else.

With my short-comings and all.

Have YOU felt this way when marketing online?

For example, you might have a small downline or customer base. You might make a few bucks here and there instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars a day. Or you might still be stuck in a 9-5 job rather than get a full-time income from home.

Who hasn’t been there, aye?

In my early days of selling business opportunity, I wished I could drive a half-million-dollar car like my upline’s. I imagined that would make it easier to presuade prospects to buy. I didn’t know, of course, that this had little effect on recruiting real business partners.

Funny, that as a kid I had better sense than I did three years ago, when…

I was naming my unemployment “financial independence”.

Little did I know that my prospects were smart enough to see through that. Just as easily as the CEO could tell…

My stupid “consultant” clothes were just a front.

Presentation of expertise flips the perception of your prospects.

It’s critical for building credibility and trust.

Companies rent out large office buildings in the heart of town to present themselves as professional. They spend millions of dollars on a single television ad campaign to present their products and services in the best light. They print letterheads and logos and come up with corporate-style slogans to present a large and experienced image.

Billions of dollars are spent every day on this type of presentation.

You can do the same without spending a cent.

Because the kind of presentation I’m talking about isn’t achieved by “dressing for success” or faking your image. It’s achieved by demonstrating real honest-to-goodness authority. The greatest advantage prospects have in dealing with you.

After all, everyone is an expert in something compared to other people.

She was no Computer Expert…

When I met the CEO, I discovered quickly that she was no computer expert. No one else on her staff had more than a basic knowledge of how to use their computers. I only had to demonstrate that I brought to the table the expertise they lacked.

And I certainly could.

Yet, without making a display of my expertise, I would rely on nothing but my unfortunate appearance. Something I couldn’t change.

When the CEO let me get to work, I looked at her office’s computer set-up. I explored each computer in the DOS prompt. That black screen with white characters flying up the screen was intimidating on its own.

I appeared thoughtful. I let it sink in. That this is some heavy, technical shit. Certainly not something that just ANYONE could do.

Then I spoke rapidly in geek-talk:

“The specifications of your machines are too low to handle the load of a TCP/IP application. You need faster CPU, an expanded RAM, and more hard drive capacity. You could communicate with your other offices by getting a server setup in each office with a 96,000 bps modem or a dedicated fibre optics line. Then you’d need Ethernet cards with LAN connections to create intranets within each office.”

Of course, she didn’t understand.

She wouldn’t be able to do much with that vomit of jargon.

I only said it to show that I was an authority. Had I left it at that, I wouldn’t have got the contract. She still needed to understand what she had to do.

I repeated slowly, “You need to get at least one modern computer in the office and setup the others with a special part that will connect the office computers to one another. You need one more piece of hardware that communicates between offices through the phone line. Kind of like a fax machine lets you use the phone lines to send documents”

This set the CEO at ease.

I nailed it home by showing her I had a complete and simple solution.

“I will write for you a full report to explain what you need and where to get it from. As well as an estimate of your cost. Then I’ll suggest a few experts I trust to install the setup for you. How’s that?”

“Of course. That would be wonderful,” she replied.

And just like that, the deal was made.

Be careful.

You don’t want to come off like a show-off. People don’t buy what they don’t understand. Excessive jargon will only confuse your prospects.

Only the tiniest expert language is needed to demonstrate your knowledge. It helps implicitly address all their objections by letting them know that YOU know what you’re on about.

They rather buy an expert than learn all that complicated crap by themselves.

If prospects trust that you have a thorough knowledge of the product or service you’re selling, they’ll automatically trust your advice.

By the way, this isn’t just a face-to-face sales “trick”.

You can pull it off just as easily in a google ad, a sales letter, or even a video presentation. Lightly sprinkle a specialized word here and there. And you’re in.

For a long time, I didn’t know that what helped my upline sell was not so much his flash car or his numerous business trips. But rather that he kept up with current events in the stock market and real estate. He sprinkled that information in conversation and stories he told. And it was in fact, the very reason I had trusted his advice when he suggested I start a home business.

Whether he really did well in real estate or not, I believed he had. And when a savvy businessman tells you that he’s building a Network Marketing business full-time, you listen.

Imagine if Donald Trump told you that a building was a good buy, you’re likely to take his advice.

That evening, when I returned home, I told Dad the full day’s events. He beamed with pride as I explained what I did to established authority.

Later, he gave me a report template and helped me create a professional written presentation of my recommendations.

I submitted my consultation along with a $3,000 bill for my services.

The Apple model I bought with my consulting money...

The Apple model I bought with my consulting money...

With the money I made, I bought the first computer I ever paid for. It was an Apple Power Mac I had my eye on for months.

     

     

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      12 Responses to Goofy 14-Year-Old Sells His Consulting Services

    1. 11 Nods

      Hey Jim – Nice article. As relevant today as it was 14 years ago!

      • Nod

        hi guys!

        Jerry: thanks bro. you're absolutely right…especially in working out backwards from my age how long ago it was lol. i'm not as quick as you in head arithmetic but i guess that's why you're the rocket scientist and i'm the “ppc tamer” ay :P

        Husam M Yaghi: (for those of you who dont know, that is my uncle the rocket scientist hehe) uncle, the detail i left out in the article was that you were the one who bought me the Hayes modem from the states and sent it to me in Malaysia. I owe you for all the dreams I realised as you had supported me when I was just a kid who talked too much. I remember the first FTP account and terminal I ever had access to was because you had set it up for me. And all my programming manuals were sent to me by you. You were my hero then and still are. lots of love!

        Kurt Henninger dude thank you for your kind words. I haven't been writing lately because it's been hard for me to stay seated at the computer without pain. I'm glad to be back (although not completely cured). This post was inspired by a very good book i'm reading titled, “The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook” by Joseph Sugarman. I didn't know it was a copywriting trick to show technical expertise to create trust. And i guess the point i wanted to make was that a little technical jargon just positions one better as an authority. But like you said, keeping it simple is also essential otherwise people won't understand what you're selling and will not buy on that basis. A LITTLE technical jargon is god. Too much is bad.

        Jim

    2. Nod

      Hey Jim – Nice article. As relevant today as it was 14 years ago!

      • Nod

        hi guys!

        Jerry: thanks bro. you're absolutely right…especially in working out backwards from my age how long ago it was lol. i'm not as quick as you in head arithmetic but i guess that's why you're the rocket scientist and i'm the "ppc tamer" ay :P

        Husam M Yaghi: (for those of you who dont know, that is my uncle the rocket scientist hehe) uncle, the detail i left out in the article was that you were the one who bought me the Hayes modem from the states and sent it to me in Malaysia. I owe you for all the dreams I realised as you had supported me when I was just a kid who talked too much. I remember the first FTP account and terminal I ever had access to was because you had set it up for me. And all my programming manuals were sent to me by you. You were my hero then and still are. lots of love!

        Kurt Henninger dude thank you for your kind words. I haven't been writing lately because it's been hard for me to stay seated at the computer without pain. I'm glad to be back (although not completely cured). This post was inspired by a very good book i'm reading titled, "The AdWeek Copywriting Handbook" by Joseph Sugarman. I didn't know it was a copywriting trick to show technical expertise to create trust. And i guess the point i wanted to make was that a little technical jargon just positions one better as an authority. But like you said, keeping it simple is also essential otherwise people won't understand what you're selling and will not buy on that basis. A LITTLE technical jargon is god. Too much is bad.

        Jim

    3. Nod

      Hey Jim,

      Nce post.

      Your old Apple Power Mac reminds me of my first old skool computer, the Atari 800XL – now those were the days!

      Keep up the valuable posts.

    4. Nod

      Hey Jim,

      Nce post.

      Your old Apple Power Mac reminds me of my first old skool computer, the Atari 800XL – now those were the days!

      Keep up the valuable posts.

    5. Husam M. Yaghi
      Nod

      “All achievements, whether in the business, intellectual, or spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought.” Ralph Marston. Jim, you had a plan for your life at an early age with vision for distinguished accomplishments in life. You have proven to be a great role model for all. Keep up the posts as we enjoy reading them and we do learn from them as they contain plenty of useful messages.

    6. Husam M. Yaghi
      Nod

      "All achievements, whether in the business, intellectual, or spiritual world, are the result of definitely directed thought." Ralph Marston. Jim, you had a plan for your life at an early age with vision for distinguished accomplishments in life. You have proven to be a great role model for all. Keep up the posts as we enjoy reading them and we do learn from them as they contain plenty of useful messages.

    7. Nod

      Jim,

      Great point and tying it in with an excellent story. Good to see you back writing again.

      The marketplace today in MLM is FULL of people “trying to impress” and people calling themselves “mentor” or “guru”. Often times, as you pointed out people can't identify with that.

      Really what people want is to get a clear simple solution and could skip the technical jargon all together. Identify with them and what they need and you'll have people looking to do business with you.

    8. Nod

      Jim,

      Great point and tying it in with an excellent story. Good to see you back writing again.

      The marketplace today in MLM is FULL of people "trying to impress" and people calling themselves "mentor" or "guru". Often times, as you pointed out people can't identify with that.

      Really what people want is to get a clear simple solution and could skip the technical jargon all together. Identify with them and what they need and you'll have people looking to do business with you.

    9. Nod

      Hey Jim

      That was a really great article and story that you put together. This was the first time that I have been to your blog and your article totally kept interested the whole way.

      I will totally be back and I will be RTing this too.

      Thanks man

      Steve

    10. Nod

      Hey Jim

      That was a really great article and story that you put together. This was the first time that I have been to your blog and your article totally kept interested the whole way.

      I will totally be back and I will be RTing this too.

      Thanks man

      Steve

    About Jim Yaghi

    Jim Yaghi is an advertising consultant and traffic expert, with a background in Artificial Intelligence.
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