Little Engine

Little Engine

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at

I think I can. I think I can. I thought I could. I thought I could.
It’s my birthday. I’ve had more than 50 of them. And lets just say that they’re not as exciting to me as they once were. However, they are more stimulating. More thought provoking. And with each passing one, more intense. I think there is an old saying that goes, “The flame burns brightest near the end.” And not that I feel I am near the end, but I certainly feel the flame burning brighter. I started to think of my favorite books. And for more than 50 years, my favorite book has been, The Little Engine that Could. It’s all about a train trying to make it up a hill. Others tried to discourage her, but she had enough fan support, enough cheerleaders, to make it up the hill using the timeless phrase, “I think I can, I think I can.” Well, naturally my thoughts turned to sales. And why not revive this 1930 classic with my version of The Little Salesman that Could. And what started out to be a whimsical thought ended up being a seminar today at the Charlotte Home Builders Association. I will try my best to re-create the points of the seminar. I think I can. I think I can. In order for sales people to make it “up the hill” they must have the same qualities as that 73-year-old little engine. And please keep in mind that for every little engine that could, there are a hundred or more that couldn’t. Interesting to note that no one ever wrote a book about the little engine that couldn’t. Also interesting to note that in 1930 the author, Watty Piper, had the foresight to make the little engine a heroine rather than a hero. Below are elements that I challenge you to think about and self evaluate in your little engine. These are not “how to” sales techniques. Rather, they are “why I” elements of personal development. They are not “sale now” they are “sales forever.” They are not about commissions. They are about wealth. And not just monetary wealth, they are also wealth of knowledge.
1. Your total belief system. The theme of the book is also the theme of your success. Believing that you can achieve what ever you set your mind to. You must believe that you work for the greatest company in the world, that you offer the greatest products and services in the world, and that you are the greatest person in the world, or you are in the wrong job. High self-belief leads to high success. Medium self-belief leads to medium success. Low self-belief…you get the idea.

2. Belief drives passion. Mediocrity stems from lack of belief more than lack of skill. Passion is the intangible in a salesperson’s presentation that makes the message transferable. Passion exhibited by the salesperson creates a desire to buy in the heart and mind of the prospect. Passion exhibited by the salesperson coverts selling to buying. (People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy.) It’s an emotional transfer that can later be justified logically.

3. Have the attitude of YES! I think I can is a ‘yes’ thought, not just a positive thought. It is a positive determination with a positive projected outcome. It is more than determination. It’s YES. A ‘yes’ attitude is stated in terms of what can be done and stated of a positive outcome. Earl Nightingale in his legendary recording The Strangest Secret says: “You become what you think about all day long.” Think you can.

4. Invest your time in things that will help you succeed. How many hours a day do you spend in ‘non-success’ areas? Time wasters like TV reruns, news for the second time today, or someone else’s drama. What could you achieve if you took half of that time and invested it in studying about your biggest business obstacle or biggest business opportunity? Suppose you just decided to become an expert in relationship building. An hour a day will make you a world-class expert in five years. Or you can take that same hour and become a world-class expert in re-runs of ER. The choice is yours and those who will pass you. Think you can stop watching so much TV.

5. Begin capturing your thoughts, strategies and ideas in writing. If someone were to ask me for ONE thing that I can pinpoint to my success, without a nanosecond of hesitation, I would answer, “writing.” In a month, I will enter my thirteenth year of writing this column. Success is a low level word when I describe what the discipline of writing has done for my career, my success, my fulfillment, and my legacy. It should also be noted that I never started out to be ‘a writer’. I was merely clarifying my thoughts about my strategies, philosophies, and methods of selling, and then getting them published. I never wrote a book, I just wrote a column. However, the column has turned into three books. If you only choose to believe ONE THING that I tell you: Believe that writing will take you from where you are to any place you want to go. Think you can write.

6. Take a course in writing. Learning how to write will help you put words you are thinking about into clear, concise, written thoughts and ideas. Personally I have found the more I write, the more ideas I get, and the clearer they become. Most people think, “I can’t write” or “I am not a good writer.” Easy answer. Study writing. Read someone whose writing you like. Write your thoughts down. Take a course in writing. And then begin to refine your technique or style. When I first began writing I thought I was a pretty good writer. I just re-read my first ten columns. They pretty much sucked. But, I thought I could, I did, I learned, and then I refined.NOTE WELL: I wish there was a way I could explain the power of the written word. The only thing I can say is to re-enforce my early statement that every piece of business good fortune for the last thirteen years has in some way or another come from writing.

7. Take a course in something you love. By learning more about what you love to do, it will create a positive atmosphere and a positive mind set about learning and achieving. The things you love to do, you do with passion. The combination of learning, achieving, and passion can make for world-class expertise in anything you think you can.

8. Get so Internet savvy that you can teach a 14-year old rather than vice-versa. Many adult business people are functional computer illiterates. If you don’t have your own website, and you don’t have your own e-mail address, and you don’t access the Internet everyday, and you think you are in the business world, think again. People who did not grow up in the computer age may have let it pass them by. It’s OK, it’s OK. Not everyone thought automobiles would make it either. Some people thought radios were stupid. And someone in their infinite wisdom thought there would only be a market for two dozen laptops (this statement was made after extensive research). I believe that person is now a waiter at Shoney’s. If you are at the crossroads of Internet entry and computer literacy, I implore you to think you can. Computers are cheap, Internet access is cheaper, and both are 21st century tools that are the gateway to your fame, fortune, financial freedom, fulfillment, and fun.

9. Begin clarifying your ideas in public — and get known as a person of value at the same time. After I began writing, people began to call and ask if I would speak at their civic organization (Rotary, Kiwanis). It gave me a chance to speak and listen to my written thoughts. Speaking, like writing, is a barrier to entry in the world of success. Rather than taking a course in speaking, you only have to join Toastmasters. Live speaking opportunities from the first meeting ( Speaking strikes fear in the heart of the unprepared. But, speaking will position you as a leader and a thinker in your community or your industry. NOTE WELL: If you write your thoughts down, speaking becomes infinitely simpler. Once you get past a little bit of fear, it’s not only fun, it’s profitable. It’s also an open door (and an open wallet) to anyone in your audience. If they like you, it’s likely that they will pay to see you again.

10. Publish something. This column is my words of advice published by someone else. Being published has an authenticity about it. The written word is very authoritative and is often tantamount to believability (‘Dewey wins!’ not withstanding). Being published also means that someone believes your thoughts are worthy enough or sound enough for others to read. It’s an affirmation that your thinking is clear and your direction is sound. It is one of the ultimate “I think I can-I thought I could” achievements.

10.5. Give value first. This is a philosophy and a strategy that I learned on accident, that has become the key differentiator between how others “sell” while I create the atmosphere to “buy”. Here is the marketing strategy (another accident) that arose from that philosophy: “I put myself in front of people who can say yes to me, and I deliver value first.” The overused and baseless expression “added-value” or its brother “value-added,” means you have to buy first in order to receive any value. It’s referred to as an incentive. My take on it is its somewhere between silly, non-existent, self-serving, or begging. My strategy (and soon to be a book) is to put valuable information in the hands of my most probable purchasers so that they may benefit, get to know me, come to respect me, and then call me wanting to purchase. This is not a theory, it’s a strategy that has been working for thirteen years. It is important to note that this strategy was not, “I think I can,” it just happened as a result of all the other “I think I can’s.” It’s an “I thought I could.” It was the classic case of cause and effect rather than preconceived notion. Well, there’s the formula. Think you can? Or do you think it sounds like too much work? Why don’t you not pre-judge what is hard or easy and begin by purchasing (or going to your kids bedroom and getting) a copy of The Little Engine That Could. That’s an easy way to start your thinking process. I know, it sounds simplistic, almost hokey, but so does every other self-help book ever written. Hokey but accurate. I have just given you a birthday present on my birthday. I am going to add a wish. I wish you would take this information and read it three or four times. And I wish you would take action in some way that might begin to put you on a better path to achievement, success, and fulfillment. If you know me, you know that I very rarely wish for anything. Maybe because I believe wishing is a poor substitute for hard work. I can wish all I want, but the hard work is up to you. And my feeling about it is, of course, I think you can. I think you can.
FREE GitBit… I have a bunch more Think-I-Can quotes — two pages spoken by Orison Swett Marden, from his immortal “He Who Thinks He Can” published in 1908. Go to, register if you’re a first time user, then enter MARDEN in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to
2003 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without writtenpermission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer o 704/333-1112