Why We Want Money: Top Originators Know

In this special excerpt from his new book, Eric Mitchell lays out how to start down the road to being at the top of the wealth list.

Eric Mitchell
A man yells excitedly in a rain of US currency.

Everyone who chooses the industry of sales is entering it to make money. I have never met someone who’s in sales for the selling aspect. There are two kinds of people in this industry: the people in the 99 percent who only make enough to pay their bills and have fun occasionally, and the people in the one percent who sell nonstop to make more than is necessary to survive. The people in the one percent go beyond what their needs are and build a large amount of wealth. The goal here is to make clear how you can move from that 99 percent of salespeople to the one percent, and that’s through understanding the why.

Why do people want to pursue the path of riches? With a good income, anyone can provide food, shelter, medicine, and basic necessities. That’s good for a modest, simple life and a mediocre living; however, earning over a million dollars a year is far beyond modest living. It’s enough to pay the expenses for many years. It’s fulfilling your dreams and turning them into the reality that you have the capability to achieve if you open yourself up to your own potential.

To understand what it means to chase after affluence, you must begin by comprehending the why.

People who earn a modest living, the average paycheck pensioners, are the ones who do not know why they want more money. The most common responses I hear for people’s whys are security, peace of mind, comfort, breathing room, and so forth. Nevertheless, these answers and reasons will only lead people to a simple, unassuming life that will forever lack a substantial income. Salespeople will experience a single, steep path that leads to wealth that is riddled with obstacles.

That 99 percent can struggle on the road to wealth. Going after wealth does not merely mean getting more money in your bank account, but rather, thinking about “what does money get me?”

Mathematical Awareness

The results matter as well. The path of earning more money comes with understanding how to make money and how to put that money to good use (thus the why). However, it is essential to recognize any pitfalls along the way. For example, Barry, a man earning more than a million dollars a year, works hard to acquire his wealth, but he also must factor in things like alimony to his ex-wife and taxes (local, state, and federal) he must pay. After all these things, he truly keeps a third of his income. So, it is not only important to take those factors into account when considering the pursuit of millions, but also to know the reason for pursuing such wealth.

In my time in sales, after speaking with so many salespeople, I have come to understand five primary whys that drive a person to work harder to achieve higher. These five reasons are what make a person fight for everything that they must reach to attain their goal, their why.

To begin with, understanding the whys first starts with comprehending that you can easily recognize the methods and systems mentioned by successful salespeople, but that all that knowledge doesn’t matter if you do not put in the effort to implement them. People often have cognitive dissonance when it comes to money and obtaining it. That is, people understand that they want that grand goal at the end, but they don’t see that money can be the way to accomplish it! That’s why 99 percent of salespeople are in the 99 percent as they do not understand their own personal why. The one percent of salespeople got to where they are by having a laser-like focus on their pursuits.

Objective Oriented

In finding your why, you will see where to focus your energy to accomplish your goals. Pursuing a target with no motivation or meaning behind it will leave you with a bewildering experience, and you’ll end up distraught and out of focus. The first step is understanding your why. Why do you want to jump in the car and drive down a steep, winding path? Because in the end, there is something that you need. If you don’t know why you want to pursue wealth, consider the reasons the one percent of salespeople use in their lives.

Through my observations and through talking to many people, here are what I believe are the five whys:

  • enhancing your lifestyle
  • achieving emotional gratification
  • caring for your parents
  • providing better opportunities for your children
  • ensuring a legacy, that is, something greater than yourself

The whys in the list are in no particular order and of equal importance. These motivations and goals are not directly going to make you rich, as you really cannot sell motivation. You need the motivation to make more money. That’s the critical thing you must understand when reading this chapter and the following chapters.

Some people will look at this path and only shake their heads regarding how difficult it will be. People in my industry convince themselves that there’s a plateau in earning, that there’s no way to go beyond a certain point. But these same people do not understand history and business. I can prove this!

When was the last time you used a travel agent? Most likely, never in the past two decades because Internet companies have automated the process and made it cheaper than ever before. This is the evolution of an industry where something dies and another better thing is born. My industry, mortgage, is believed to have too many moving parts, but with current developing systems, these things can be automated!

In the journey of a hero, he or she must first answer the call of adventure. For you, it’s the same. You must take that very first step to understand the ideas (which I believe are effective and that work for me) in this book and utilize them. I will teach you how to use the beliefs and systems in this book, but it all starts with a beginning: the why. The reason why one percent of salespeople succeed in their activities is that their personal why drives them.

The why is something of your choice, as I cannot tell you what it is. What I can do is break down the whys so that you may understand them. Choose one or more whys that will motivate you and drive you.

Enhancing Your Lifestyle

Everybody thinks this is something simple: a more beautiful car, a bigger house, more vacations, and so on. Throughout my lifetime, I have never met anyone—in the one percent of salespeople—who uses these kinds of goals as their why. After all, these things are merely objects and will not drive your activities. A more significant reason must be the why for this kind of motivation.

Think about it: if you’re in sales and reading this, you probably already have a nice, newish car or a beautiful, expensive house. Those are things anyone in the 99 percent of salespeople can achieve.

This why must be bigger than a new house or car. It must be something far more emotional! It might be something like a dream, something that is only attainable with a large amount of wealth. And no, I don’t mean two nice cars.

Imagine this: Roy, a man in sales, always had a knack for closing a deal. He got to his position through hard work, diligence, and drive. This drive stems from his impoverished childhood, a life where he was given nothing and worked for everything. His parents weren’t the cream of the crop: he had an alcoholic father and a bipolar mother. Roy wanted to get away from poverty and escape to a better life. He never wanted to go back to the life he used to have.

A dream earned through wealth is a perfect why because it is based on a powerful emotion: fear. People who live in poverty work to get away from adversity, pain, and fear.

Achieving Emotional Gratification

Emotional gratification is not something as simple as happiness or joy, but is even more significant than that. Everyone has normal levels of happiness and sadness, as that’s part of life. However, emotional gratification comes from pride. Everyone should have pride in themselves, a sense of self-worth—and you are worth a lot. This manifestation of pride is gained by showing others that you are capable.

Emotional gratification is the strongest from people who have something to prove to someone: parent(s), ex-lovers, colleagues, ex-friends, ex-business partners, teachers, and the naysayers (probably the most gratifying of all). This may seem selfish—and it may be—but it’s a strong why as far as motivation goes. Having pride is not a bad thing because pride shows that you are worth something. It’s the moment where you tell the others in your life, “I’m not done yet!”

To put it in other words, it’s like giving the middle finger to those who doubted you, whether it’s a former teacher or fate itself. This creates a strong motivation, a strong why to keep people moving forward. Think of the Rocky movies: the title character, Rocky, trains, fights, and even destroys himself to get a single second of gratification. His efforts are irrational. Emotional satisfaction is a prime directive that overrides your rational thought and does something to help you grab onto your goal.

Personally, this is one of my motivators, and it does push me forward beyond what I or any others could do. Nonetheless, mistakes can and will be made, and that much I’ve learned on my own. For me, I have multiple whys to give me strength, one of which is to prove to my father that I’m worthy, to show him that I am better, and that I have something to show for it! And, yes, it’s gratifying.

Take this example: Steve, a diligent young man, had peers in his high school who looked down on him for whatever reasons. Teens, being as cruel as they are, tend to exclude others for sheer self-gratification. Years later, Steve works hard and earns wealth, so much in fact, that he ends up making more than all of his former peers combined! It’s not only enough to make more than they do, but it’s also what he does with it. Maybe he shares his vacations photos on social media showing an extravagant life, or perhaps he takes the time to earn a position to boss around those who used to ostracize him in school. Now that’s emotional gratification!

Caring For Your Parents

From the get-go, you know this is a strong motivation. Any loving, devoted person would work their hands to the bone to care for the ones they cherish the most. Some people are brought up this way through culture or through family, or just have a natural love in their hearts. Have you ever heard a professional football player say he works and trains hard so that he can buy his mother a house? It’s a beautiful motivation and a fantastic why to achieve money. Accomplishing something to help one’s parents is indeed an admirable goal.

If you have ever thought about your retirement, you most likely thought about either one or both parents’ retirement as well. Ask yourself: Do they have enough for retirement? What happens if they don’t? That means they might move in with you someday.

To retire, you must first understand the Rule of 72: This formula is used to show how many years it takes to double the amount of money needed to have the same purchasing power. Consider the following example:

Susan has a modest income of $100,000 a year, and she plans to retire with at least $250,000 by the age of 65. However, the rate of inflation is at three percent. Using the inflation rate and the Rule of 72, we arrive at 24 years. That’s 24 years in which the $100,000 needs to double to have the same purchasing power because how much a dollar is worth now isn’t going to stay the same forever. Therefore, Susan needs a lot more than $250,000 by age 65 (more like $400,000). Not only that, but she must also consider her health as well. By 2020, there will be over a million Americans over the age of a hundred. Susan doesn’t need to plan for 65; instead, she needs to prepare for 65, 80, 100, and possibly beyond!

After considering that scenario, imagine that about your own retirement plus your own parents’ retirement. It’s going to take a lot of money, which makes this why very strong.

Better Opportunities For Your Children

A loving parent would do anything for his or her children. A problem arises when these parents do not know what to do to provide for their loved ones. Then, they may begin to move and calculate in the wrong direction.

If you have children of your own, what would you do to ensure their best future? This can take many forms beyond obtaining more money. Instead, the money can be used to provide better opportunities for them. What this why comes down to is how much are you, a loving parent, willing to sacrifice for your child?

The willingness to sacrifice can be a strong motivator and makes a perfect why when it comes to setting a goal. This is not something that purely benefits you (unless you plan on having your kids take care of you—in that case, look at the previous why again). This is the why where it benefits the child(ren) the most. What are you willing to sacrifice to provide them with the best opportunities?

Consider this: a father takes his daughter to gymnastic lessons. One day, the coach pulls the father aside and tells him that the daughter has an extreme amount of talent—the potential to be an Olympian—but only through training and hard work. Thus, the daughter needs better opportunities. The father has a choice: continue with mundane gymnastic lessons or move closer to an area with reputable gymnasts, training, and opportunities. Yet the father can’t move to another place because of his lucrative job at home. The solution: the father earns twice as much to provide for another home for his wife and daughter. The second home will be near the specific training center, and the father will be able to visit on weekends.

To create that kind of opportunity, the parent must wisely manage their time and earn as much as possible. There’s no time for television or mindlessly surfing the Internet, as those things don’t create wealth or opportunities. What I’m saying here is not meant to be advice for parents or instruction on how to become a better parent. It’s up to you to channel this why in an appropriate manner.

Legacy—Something Greater Than Yourself

This is the why that leaves a mark upon history, no matter how significant. This can either be a sign of altruism or of narcissism, but in fact, it’s both! If you’re seeking wealth—and I know you are—then you’re already probably a little narcissistic. This is not detrimental to your why, but it does need to be controlled.

How someone builds a legacy is up to them, but a legacy is something worth remembering! Money can be made into nearly anything. Wealth can build an orphanage to help forgotten children; money can go to a battered women’s shelter to help those in need; or wealth can even be used for something more personal like a community program to educate disenfranchised youth.

Wealth can accomplish all these things and more. When it comes to the difference between donating to a charity and starting your own charity, that is when real money comes into play. As an example, LeBron James, the professional basketball player, has used his own money to establish a school that offers students a chance at free college. That’s a legacy worth remembering!

But maybe you’re not that scrupulous in your pursuits—which is fine. So, what can you do with your wealth? Maybe you can build a business of your own. After all, corporations change the world and create a legacy of their own.

Use your wealth to build a life worth remembering!

Change Is Critical

Now that we understand the five different whys of obtaining wealth, I am hopeful that this information is resonating with you. Remember: you don’t need all five whys, just one. These whys must be convincing you to learn more, and if you’re craving that feeling, continue reading. On this path toward becoming that one percent of salespeople, you will face hardships that will push you beyond your limits. You will become uncomfortable, but I ask that you accept what I believe to true!

You must change. You must embrace being uneasy with yourself. You must learn. Salespeople must look at their results and ask themselves, “Am I getting the results I want?” But you should think, “How can I improve my results?” We’ll discuss how later in the book. People who ask the first question are forever stuck in the 99 percent of salespeople because they are only focusing on the results and not the why that drives them.

When someone is young, bold, and brash, he or she tends to think of the now rather than the later. If you’re the kind of person who plans on marrying someday, don’t you want to have a large sum to pay for the ceremony? Why work for that later when you can work for that now? If you’re planning on having kids, why start working overtime when the kids are born to provide for them instead of working earlier to provide? This is the foresight that 99 percent of salespeople seem to lack. Of course, you want to share your earnings with your loved ones and have a good retirement! But you don’t work for those things when they come up; rather, you work for those things before they come up. After all, you should go to the doctor to prevent disease, not cure it after the damage is already done.

A well-known cliché is, “The only constant is change.” It’s a cliché for a reason: it’s true! Examine this trope and do not become numb to it, for it will impact your daily life—as it should.

Experience Teaches

I know what it’s like to have a car taken away due to back payments. I’m no stranger to bankruptcy either. I’ve driven to work on two separate occasions with not a single dime in my pocket or a digit in my bank account. These are terrible moments that I suffered through, but I’ve used these moments to drive my activities and motivate myself to achieve. That way, I no longer come home with both an empty belly and fridge.

The journey should be enjoyed as it comes along. I’m one who advocates meditation, vacations, and quality family time as these are the small rewards for accomplishments within that journey. There are different phases of the journey throughout life, and achievements are earned in increments on that path.

I can work overtime all week and still go to the beach on the weekend. This didn’t happen all at once, as I worked decades to get into a position where I can relax on weekends. If you are trying to reach the one percent of salespeople, then you will come across hurdles at the start: tough and high obstacles that may be the hardest to overcome throughout your career.

It is like losing weight. Losing those first few pounds is the hardest thing to do because the body is reacting to something new. In some cases, people start gaining weight after starting an exercise and diet plan. A lot of dieters become discouraged with that first hurdle and decide to give up, but it is the people who don’t give up and keep pushing forward who lose weight in the long run. And that’s what it’s all about: the results in the long term.

Proper Motivation

A man once told me that he hated motivation because it fades, and you need to redo it every day. I responded by saying that he must also hate bathing!

Feeling motivated on a daily basis can get tough after a while. That is true enough. On that note, there are two major theories on how to motivate someone: the carrot and the stick. Broke and poor people would advocate for the carrot, as they see only the reward, a grasp at happiness. However, I have found that the stick is far more effective in achieving a goal. Consider these two examples: Roy, a recently married businessman, is living happily with his new wife in their new home. He makes a modest income that affords some luxuries in life now, but he’s hoping to rely on his company’s retirement plan and Social Security to care of him and his wife in old age. He’s content with life.

Warren, a recently married salesperson, is also living happily with a new spouse and in a new home. He can afford luxuries like Roy does, but he is afraid that his prospects will dwindle if he doesn’t work harder now to ensure his future. After all, his new family still has room to grow, but only if he is willing to put in the effort to accommodate that growth. If not, he could lose everything.

Now, which one of these two men will sell more and earn more? Warren, of course!

Ultimately, if you’re like me, you’re not going to spend your golden years in a retirement community! Understanding emotions, understanding why you want wealth, is only the first step to become a real top earner in your field.

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine March 2021 issue.
Eric Mitchell headshot
Eric Mitchell

Eric Mitchell is the Executive Vice President for Gold Star Mortgage.

Published on
May 13, 2021
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