How To Get Better At Business, Sales And Marketing When You Don’t Have The Personality For It

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Several weekends ago, I decided that I was finally going to teach my daughter how to ride her bike all by herself without any training wheels on. And I was super excited about it.

Ever since I became a new Dad, I had dreamed about this fairy tale moment where I would teach my daughter how to ride her bike for the very first time…And it was going to be magical.

I would hold her seat and handle bars, give her a gentle push and then watch her glide off into the sunset as she learned to balance herself on two wheels.

And at the end of her lesson, she would be so thankful for having her awesome father teach her how to ride her bike that she would continuously give me hugs and kisses all the way home.


Yep, I must have been smoking crack that day because that is not how it played out at all. In fact, it wasn’t even close.

Instead of giving her a gentle push and watching her ride off into the sunset, I gave her a push and she promptly toppled over onto her side. Then I lifted her up, gave her another push and she fell over again. This happened over and over again until the whining and the tears started coming out.

Daddy, I don’t want to learn how to ride a bike anymore. It’s too hard. I can’t do it Daddy, I can’t!

Have you ever watched those commercials and movies where the Dad and the child are having so much fun learning how to ride a bike? Well all of that is complete BS. Where the heck are all the missing scenes where the kid is crying and melting down? Where are all the scenes where the kid just wants to quit?

I Can’t Do It. It’s Too Hard

No, I’m not bitter:) But what bothered me the most about the whole bike riding lesson was that my daughter kept repeating to herself that she wasn’t good at bike riding. And she said it in such a way that she convinced herself that she would never ever be good at it either.

Overall, I felt really bad about the situation since it was partially my fault. I made her get on a bike and expected her to learn how to ride in just a single afternoon. I pushed her a little too hard and had unrealistic expectations.

So we called it quits for the day and decided to put it off for a little while before trying again.

It’s Not So Bad

The following weekend, I decided to try something different. Instead of just giving her a push and letting her go, I strapped on my roller blades and held onto her back as she rode. This way, I could support her in case she lost balance.

Also, she felt my presence behind her which gave her peace of mind that she wasn’t going to fall down. In a way, I acted like her training wheels. Slowly but surely, I could sense that her balance was improving and she started having a little more fun.

Look Daddy, I’m going so fast! Wheeeeeee

That afternoon after we called it quits, my daughter was definitely enjoying it more and the best part was that she was itching to go riding again.

I’m Doing It

Fast forward a few more weekends and my Hollywood dream finally came true. I was holding onto my daughter’s shoulders on my rollerblades as she was biking. And once we picked up a little speed, I slowly let go of her back….

Low and behold, she started riding all by herself! And she was so happy at the end of the day that all she could talk about was riding her bike. I also got my fair share of hugs and kisses. Overall, it was a great afternoon and one that I will never forget:)

So What If You Suck At Something?

Now what’s funny about my daughter’s initial reaction to learning how to ride is that we as adults often behave the same way. How many times have you told yourself that you couldn’t do something because you sucked at it?

How many times have you completely discounted or written yourself off because you didn’t know how to do something or tried something once but was bad at it? For me, I used to write myself off all of the time especially when it came to marketing and sales.

As a Chinese American who decided to pursue engineering as a career, I was always brought up to be humble, logical, passive and never brag or embellish any facts. In general, this type of personality and behavior is not conducive to marketing and sales:).

In fact, I always told myself that I was horrible at marketing because the science of human behavior made absolutely no sense to me and selling anything felt extremely unnatural. I hated talking about my accomplishments. I hated having to “promote” my products and website. I hated the entire selling process.

In fact, I kept telling myself that I sucked to such a degree that I started believing my words. After all, I had no idea what I was doing and I didn’t understand the fundamental principles of sales and marketing.

How To Suck Less

One of the biggest reasons I thought I was bad at marketing and sales was because I often expected instant results. I would try something that I learned online, it wouldn’t work out the way I had planned and then I would give up.

For example when I first put up affiliate offers on my blog, I expected them to convert right away. But when I didn’t refer a single sale, I immediately got discouraged and started questioning my writing skills.

Same thing happened with my email newsletter signup form. When I first tried to launch my email list, no one was willing to sign up because my sales copy was atrocious.

But over time and with repeated failures, I started getting better at marketing myself. I started getting better at writing convincing sales copy. And with each experiment, I gained a better understanding of human psychology.

What most people don’t realize is that the human brain needs time for certain concepts to sink in and this process often takes a while for most people.

Anyways once I started seeing a tiny bit of traction and sales, I began having more fun. And once I got a little better at marketing myself, I became hungry for more information. So I read books, blogs and watched videos, you name it. And slowly but surely, everything started to sink in.

Today, I have this weird conflicting mixture of Asian engineering blood and marketing blood all mixed inside of me. And even though I sometimes have to fight off my cultural tendencies and resist my engineering inclinations, I honestly think that I have half decent sales and marketing skills now:).

You Might Suck Now….

So when it comes to starting a business, creating websites, marketing your site or building an audience, know that you’re going to suck at it in the beginning. But the longer you keep at it, the better you’ll become.

Often times, it’s just a matter of getting over that initial hump. And once you start seeing a little progress, you might even grow to enjoy it. After all, we as humans tend to gravitate towards activities that we are good at.

Even the greatest minds all started from somewhere. The key is to start now and stop making excuses. Don’t ever tell yourself that you can’t do something because you suck at it. Anyone can learn.

photo credit: ewwhite

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27 thoughts on “How To Get Better At Business, Sales And Marketing When You Don’t Have The Personality For It”

  1. Hi Steve,
    I always look forward to reading your posts because every one is different and draws from your everyday experiences. Not only was it fun to read, but also really insightful. Being a women of Indian descent, I can relate to the challenges of “trumpeting your/ product’s horn” when I honestly used to believe that ‘if it really that good, it needs to sell itself’.
    I also like your comment about the fact that it takes time for people to warm up to a product/service. I am learning that as well during my sales/events. Thanks and looking forward to reading your blog in the future!!!

    1. Thanks Swetha
      I really appreciate your kind words. It’s funny how Asian culture is different from American culture in many ways. My parents were brought up to think that if you worked hard, you will naturally be noticed. THanks again!

  2. Great advice and story! I can really relate.

    You are so right – “success breeds success”. I have also found that making it easy as possible to experience early success is really helpful.

    For example, just paying a little more for quality can go a long way. With building businesses online, time and time again I see people struggling unnecessarily just because they are doing things on the cheap.

    Better to pay a little more initially – be more likely to get those early wins and succeed faster!

    Thanks for the post.

    1. Hi Quinn.
      That’s a great way to put it. Set yourself up for early wins and then you’ll gradually have more fun which will fuel further progress. Thanks for the comment

  3. Steve,

    Congrats on your new pedal wheeling daughter! Just a suggestion for the future: get a balance bike first. Learning to “balance” on training wheels is counter intuitive to real bike riding so have your kids learn to balance first and pedal later (it’s the easiest part of learning to ride a bike). Using this method, both of my kids were riding pedal bikes at age 3. And we just happen to sell a few :)


    1. Hey Tiffany,
      Agreed. We planning on using one for my son:) Will take a look at your shop.

  4. Novie Ko says:

    Wonderful read! I am also of Asian descent, not born in US, working in biotech industry, and think of myself as not very good at selling and marketing. Your blog encourages me to get better, and understand that it is ok to suck at the beginning.

  5. Great article! I needed to be reminded that things take time! Your little girl is adorable!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. She’s Daddy’s little girl:)

  6. I really like your post! I’m a public servant and enjoy the fact that I didn’t have to sell something because I’m suck at marketing. Now that I started my online business, I realized that marketing skills are very important…You can have tons of good stuff to sell but if you don’t develop your marketing skills, it won’t sell easily. I thought: “I hate marketing! I just don’t know anything about promoting stuff, I’m not a sells person, etc.”

    I bought a book (“The copywriter’s handbook”) and this is when I realized that selling can be learned. It can be learned as anything else. You just need to demystify it. It pushed me to improve my marketing skills. I may not be an expert yet, but I’m improving myself and I see some results!

    Your daughter is adorable! Mine (5 years old) successfully learned how to ride a bike 5 months ago! How know the feeling :)

    1. Hi Anouk,
      Sounds like you are well on your path to success. I love reading about copywriting because I still find it amazing how changing a few words can have such a large impact of sales. Who is the author of your book?

  7. Jamie says:

    Steve another great post, and a good reminder to try a different approach if the first attempt is not a great success. I hope you enjoy many more bike rides with your daughter.

  8. Richard says:

    Hi Steve

    A very interesting blog on how to market and indeed sell your products on line. My background is of Irish extraction and I live in the UK and I must say that from the readers responses I can understand feeling so foreign in a different land

    I have now come to understand the the concept of try try again and like your beautiful daughter don’t take no for an answer. There is a gentleman here in Britain who was totally disillusioned with the banking system due to the credit freeze and decided to open up his own bank and start lending to his local community. If you wish to see an example of human determination against the odds here is the website

    Self belief is the way forward

    Kind regards


  9. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. I was the mom who ran beside her daughters as they learned to ride their bikes. Oh, yes…the tears. I remember the tears.

    I’ve never worried about failing and fortunately both of my daughters (in college now) both love to try new things. I hope they don’t lose this quality. Yeah…you sometimes fail and you sometimes make a fool out of yourself…but you often get to do some really cool things.

  10. Just found your site, Steve. Nice article and nice site! Very encouraging!

  11. I remember being so frustrated when I started learning how to ride a bike. And you’re right – most of the time, we’re gonna suck at the very beginning of trying something new. It just takes a matter of practice and different approaches to finally get it right.

  12. This is true, “selling anything felt extremely unnatural” – if you do mean anything well that would be wrong because anything IS anything. It’s hard to suck in something whenever we’re not really happy with doing it, same goes to business. You can’t do business if you, the owner, doesn’t get along with what you’re doing. Great points here, Steve. Will be applying this in real life. :)

  13. Love this post, and the personal story that goes with it. Amazing how much persistence means in all of our endeavors, whether personal or fiscal.

  14. Great advice Steve,

    I think anyone, with enough persistence can “not suck” at something they really put their minds to. It seems we often place ourselves in boxes or categories which are often just self limitations. Nice example.

  15. Hi Steve, I have consistently read your blog for the past few days and each one just rings true. Believe it or not I am one of those people who never leave a comment on a post but well, here I am.

    You are so right about writing one’s self off when you try something and it doesn‘t work first time. I have always believed marketing/sales is not for me but this gives me more courage to try more


  16. I remember being so frustrated when I started learning how to ride a bike. And you’re right – most of the time, we’re gonna suck at the very beginning of trying something new.

  17. I really love this blog a really very informative and tidy post that I say by its own calligraphy! Everything I read is meaningful thanks to excellent writing.

  18. This is really an amazing story! As a businessman, we should learn some basic things from this article. In most of the cases, we have found that while implementing good things like marketing, sales, and resources we can easily get success in our business, but we have to show some patience and in which way we are able to fit the current situation. Thanks for such a wonderful story.

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