Farewell to Mr. Super Fantastic

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to the study of success and of successful people. I have read, researched and pondered what it means to be a “success”.

What is it?

Is it the 6-figure income and the beautifully appointed mansion in an exclusive neighborhood? Or, for you, does success look like the “fix it up” lake house with your weathered jeep parked in the driveway? It’s a personal question that each of us must define for ourselves, and that’s not always easy when so many outside influences rush to tell us what’s best for us.

How do you achieve it? Why do some lucky few seem to come by it so easily, while other people just cannot ever seem to get there?

Growing up in a family who neither helped me to plan for my success, nor expected me to succeed, a passionate desire was sparked in me to find a way to succeed on my own.  That powerful desire led to a series of serendipitous events that would lead to a very successful career. Along the journey, I’ve encountered many wise teachers who impacted me with the message that they shared. One such teacher was Keith Harrell, who I will forever remember as “Mr. Super Fantastic”. Keith passed away on October 18th. He was only 54.

Some years ago, while working in Microsoft’s Atlanta office, I was asked by my boss to secure a motivational speaker for our upcoming district meeting. Among the names suggested I check out was Keith Harrell. We ultimately signed Keith for the gig, and I will never forget how he just took over that room. Sure, being 6ft 7’ had something to do with it, but this man had presence. His message of a focused, positive attitude and the importance of speaking positively forever impacted me and my thinking about success. It might well have been one of the few times that all of my sales compadres actually listened attentively to the guest speakers every word.

Keith encouraged us to use big words to express positive feelings that promoted harmony, goodwill and success for everyone. He reminded us that our success in sales (and in life) was totally an inside job. And, that’s where Mr. Super Fantastic comes in. When asked any day of the week how he was doing, Keith would respond with a rousing “superfantastic” in reply. I adopted the word immediately and used two versions in my voicemail message.  Sometimes, it was thanks for calling; it’s a Super Fantastic day here at Microsoft. Or, I’d conclude my message with an upbeat… Have a Super Fantastic day! Oh, the wonderful comments people would share with me about how my message made their day. As I did then, and as I do now, all the credit goes to Keith!!!

Success in any undertaking is always dependant on how successful we decide that we want to be. It truly is an inside job. Keith was right about the power of powerful, positive language. When you are smiling and using upbeat words, it’s pretty darn hard to be griping and complaining. So, in honor of Mr. Keith Harrell, here’s to your superfantastical sales success now and forevermore!

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