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About This Episode
Not a lot of us are excited when the 5:00 AM alarm goes off.
But we could train ourselves to be.
Recently on Sales Engagement, I was able to chat with Tom Alaimo, Growth Account Executive at Gong, about setting yourself up for success with a killer morning routine and habits of mind. Tom was named sales rep of the year in North America and hosts the podcast Millennial Sales.
Like so many of us, Tom launched into sales with Cutco. “There’s no better training ground than just going in person. That cold call or big presentation is a lot less scary once you’ve been standing in people’s homes and cutting up their dinner with them,” Tom said.
So, Tom gets up about 5:00 every morning and does the same few tasks every day.
Let’s jump straight into how he built habits that carried him to success!
Sales rep of the year
I asked Tom what he did differently that gained him such distinction.
“Anyone that’s been in sales knows that what you get out is equal to what you put in — but it also takes some luck, too,” he said.
One of Tom’s most valuable learnings was to focus on what he can control: having the right attitude, putting in the effort, treating people well, making good choices.
“I got really honed in on being super disciplined. I started getting up at five in the morning, and I’d be prospecting in the morning,” he said.
This newfound discipline — this redirection to focus on what he could control (that is, himself) — really paid off for Tom.
At the beginning of this major change, Tom said he hardly knew what the limits were. He spent time visualizing his success… in his terms, obsessing about it.
“I was just so totally focused and obsessed with trying to sell and trying to be successful with the company that I put all my eggs in that basket and it worked out well,” he said.
The 5 AM alarm
The one discipline that Tom said has made the biggest impact on him is waking up at 5:00 or 5:30. He’s a morning person, so he loves to start the day while others are sleeping and start getting things done.
“I try to get as many top priorities done by noon as I can. Then the afternoon is gravy,” he said.
He credited several books but particularly The Growth Mindset for illuminating how self-discipline is empowering.
Quick recap of an inspiring example: Edwin Barnes wanted to work with Thomas Edision. Edison refuses, but Barnes doesn’t give up. Through sheer persistence and desire, he changes Edison’s whole business and becomes the top Ediphone salesman.
It was a light bulb moment for Tom (sorry, couldn’t resist).
“I can be tenacious, I can be persistent, I can work harder than people, I can pursue things with more passion,” he said.
Here are some things that Tom tries to do every single day:
- Wake up in the 5:00 hour
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Write down goals, beliefs, and affirmations
- Drink coffee
- Focus on positivity to overcome self-limiting beliefs
- Knock out top two goals by noon
These habits begin the night before. Tom sets out everything he needs in the morning before bed so that he doesn’t have to think about it. This easy-to-do action helps him wake up focused and keep focused throughout the morning.
Top two priorities by noon
No matter what the goals themselves are — prospecting, writing a blog, preparing for a podcast or presentation, working on a deck — Tom gets them done in the morning.
“I try to get those two things done that I know I’m going to be proud about at the end of the day,” he said.
Depending on how much time they take, he might be ready as early as nine or ten to get into the normal sales day.
The first two or three hours are just focused on Tom and his top goals. He doesn’t distract himself by checking his email or his phone because, honestly, nobody truly needs him at six or seven in the morning.
Get started waking up early
Right now you wake up at 6:45 or 7:00, but you’re going to set your alarm for 5:00 tomorrow. Maybe you feel on fire for two or three days, but then you’re so exhausted that you quit.
Does this sound like you?
There’s a strategy for retaking your mornings, and it has to do with playing the long game.
Set your alarm 15 minutes early for this week. Then 15 minutes earlier for the next week or so. Now you’re comfortable with the 6:15 alarm, so you can push it back another 15 minutes, and so on.
Take a gradual approach for this goal, as for most big, life-changing goals.
Don’t forget to have a plan for your early-morning time. Otherwise you’ll plunge right into the distractions and feel that you haven’t gained any time at all.
Tom’s parting wisdom
- Control your attitude and your effort. “You can control how hard you work, you can control your attitude, you can control the decisions you make, how you treat others,” he said.
- In order to become valuable, add value to others. “It’s just doing those little things that can help make people’s lives easier and help try to make their job better or easier,” Tom pointed out.
- Surround yourself with great people. “That could mean joining a great company. That could mean surrounding yourself with great friends or whomever is inspiring and uplifting to you,” he said. “I put a really high emphasis also on virtual mentors, like, who’s in your Instagram feed? Who are you reading? Whose podcasts are you listening to?”
Get in touch with Tom on LinkedIn, via his podcast Millennial Sales, or on Twitter and Instagram @TommyTahoe.