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How to Handle Discrimination

July 31, 2013

Recent news regarding Trayvon Martin and the trial of George Zimmerman has everyone talking about discrimination.

Even President Obama spent 17 minutes talking about his own experiences as a young black man, and how he was discriminated against. Welcome to planet Earth, Mr. President! Discrimination is not a new thing nor is it confined to just race. Since the beginning of time man has discriminated against almost everything new and different: race, religion, music, clothes, trends, men against women, women toward men, you name it. When I started in the sales consulting business at 27 years old I was discriminated against because of my age. Then I was discriminated against for my ideas, my looks and even my height. While racial discrimination is terrible, I found most of what Mr. Obama said quite amusing -- even ridiculous. I remember being a kid walking through a store and the store manager following me because he was concerned I was going to steal something. I also have been on many an elevator and noticed men and women get extremely uncomfortable in my presence. My family were Italian immigrants who came to this country and felt so discriminated against they chose to change how they pronounced their names and even how they named their children. Trust me, in life and in business you will be discriminated against by others. Here are 4 ways for you to handle discrimination:
  1. Keep a full pipeline. I talk about this in my book If You're Not First You're Last. Having a pipeline full of opportunities means you don't have to rely on those that have preconceived ideas about you.
  2. Be persistent. Professional persistence can actually dissipate discrimination.
  3. Become the authority so people no longer see you for your race or religion but as the expert in your field.
  4. Work via referrals so you are engaging with prospects who have already been sold on your expertise.
Insurance, credit card and mortgage companies, banks, Ivy league schools, airlines, hotels, even socially liberal Starbucks discriminate, treating different customers in different ways. How? Insurance companies charge different rates to different drivers. Ivy league colleges discriminate based on grades and connections. At Starbucks, you don't get free drinks without being a member of their program. Get it? Not all discrimination is bad and not all discrimination is about race. In fact a smart business will discriminate and take better care of its best paying, most loyal customers. I do, trust me. I treat different clients differently and I would be a poor businessman if I did not. I also pay people differently — the more you produce and solve problems the more I pay. Look, you will be discriminated against. Now the issue is what are you going to do about it? How will you deal with it so that you can still succeed in life and in business? My wife wouldn't go out with me because she discriminated against me thinking I was just another "player." It wasn't her job to change her mind; it was mine! I hope this finds you GREAT!

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