Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Winners Know

For the better part of two decades, I have had the privilege of knowing many winners in many different walks of life.

As a young sportscaster, I had the chance to watch from the front row in the mid-eighties as Brett Hull catapulted from 4-th line minor-leaguer to an NHL scoring sensation. "The Golden Brett" became not only a superstar, but never let it go to his head.

Through the nineties and beyond, I observed at close range the qualities of top performers such as Frank McKenna, Roy H. Williams, Gene Simmons and countless others who distinguished themselves as winners in their chosen professions.

But, few have taught me more about winning than an otherwise ordinary guy from tiny Lakeburn, NB.

I first met Ken when he was running a sports card and collectible shop more than 20 years ago. Since then, his entrepreneurial journey has taken him to some exciting and rewarding places as the President and CEO of, Canada's largest private sale network. Launched with nothing more than "a big idea and less than a hundred bucks", was started by Ken and his partner Jeremy Demont while both were students at Atlantic Baptist University in 1998. Despite being severely undercapitalized, Ken and Jeremy possessed a winning spirit that ignited the imagination of Dale Betts and Walter Melanson who also jumped on board with nothing more than a wing and a prayer and a promise. Together, Ken and his partners have grown to more than 100 franchises nationwide, giving traditional realtors a run for their money in a multi-billion dollar industry now swirling with massive social and technological upheaval.

Few people know more about "winning" than Ken LeBlanc.

A real estate "David" who dared to challenge the MLS Goliaths.

Today, readers of The Seamless Brand will experience a guest post entitled, "What Winners Know". It was the core message Ken delivered in his opening keynote at the recent National Conference held in late January at the Melia Caribe Resort in the Dominican Republic.

By: Ken LeBlanc

"Whether you are a chess player, professional athlete, or a business owner the number one rule in winning has always been the same. Surround yourself with people who are wiser, more accomplished, and just plain smarter than you are!

I've tried to do that constantly over and over again with my life and I have been richly rewarded for it. I feel that I work with some of the best coaches, trainers, business partners, mentors, and franchise owners in the world. Personally, I always try to bring people on board who are smarter than I am.

So, as 2010 was winding down, I took some time to reflect. I studied world class leaders, authors, speakers, athletes, business owners and our top performing franchisees.

Here are what I believe to be the top 7 “Secrets of Winning” I have uncovered from this elite group.

#1. Winners Know What They Don't Know.

This might sound like a contradiction, but if you know what you don't know, you can go out and learn it, or find someone who can guide you through it. Real ignorance is not a lack of knowledge or education, but a lack of curiosity. The moment you think you know everything ... you're fucked.

#2. Winners Know To Avoid Cynics.

There are no successful cynics. Think about it: Real success, in any way society measures it – money, fame happiness, family – cannot be achieved in the presence of a cynic. Why? Because cynics and skeptics love to place the finger of blame on the disease before figuring out how to get healthy. The blame game is the easy way out. You will never hear a winner say, "I got screwed", "That should’ve been mine", "I never catch a break”. These are ALL dead end answers.

Winners understand the world owes them NOTHING. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission> Winners are driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing ONLY on the positives. And that's why they avoid the quicksand that cynics represent.

Cynics will pull you down They ply their drug one-on-one: It feels good to cynic to stay angry, to be pissed at the world and stay in one place forever. They specialize in what I call the "bitch spiral", which occurs when like-minded people get together and complain with such intensity that every slight against them becomes a gigantic conspiracy. They attack the successful under the banner of injustice: “Wal-Mart is killing small businesses”, “The Yankees’ payroll is ruining baseball”, and “Nobody is making money in this business”.

Just as faith and fear cannot co-exist, cynicism cannot reside in the same residence as Belief. Cynicism is not disbelief, but unbelief, a refusal. That is why cynicism is so dangerous to the average person. If you lose that sincere belief in yourself, in your relationship, as a child, parent, friend, or of your business, you become worthless to that being - no matter how talented you are.

Winners run as fast as they can from cynics.

And fire them from their lives!

#3. Winners Know How To Dive In

Winners don't care too much or dwell on failures. Business is not a marathon; it's a series of sprints. And most sprints are won at the moment the gun goes off. Many of us spend our time worrying about failure. Real winners don't give a shit about failure because they know that in no time they'll be diving into their next chance for success.

#4. Winners Don't Wait For Perfect

I have shared this concept with a number of our franchisees over the years. And it still holds true today. Winners focus on what they have - not on what they don’t have. Winners trust that version 1.0 out of the box is what it is and run with it. Even if they know that an updated stronger, better, cheaper, and faster version is coming soon, they still run with 1.0. Winners make the best of what they have in front of them and don't give a rat’s ass about what they are missing or what’s in their competitor’s tool box.

#5. Winners Are Married To Their Profession

This is something I’ve always known that was important and agreed with, but never realized how important it was until I heard Kevin O’Leary speak at the Atlantic Dream Festival back in October of 2010. Kevin is the guy who some think is a complete jerk on Dragon’s Den, but keep in mind he is the same jerk who sold his software business to Mattel for $4.2 billion dollars.

Here is what Kevin O'Leary has to say on this subject:

“People say to me that life has to have balance. I disagree, when you create or start a business you become its slave, there is nothing else, there is no balance. It’s just you and the business. If you are a real entrepreneur and what you strive for is ultimate success, you become myopically focused on it. There is no Saturday or Sunday anymore, just you and the business. If you doubt that you won’t become a slave to your business you will not become successful. There is no balance, no family time, no wife, no kids, just the business".

I often get criticized for this a lot. BUT IT IS THE TRUTH. The reason you create partnerships and a family is so they can have your back while you create wealth. The whole reason to become an entrepreneur is to pursue the ultimate goal of freedom. It doesn’t matter if people don’t like you. It doesn’t matter what they think about you. It just doesn’t matter. The goal should be to make that business successful. To most people, O'Leary's statements might seem a bit extreme, but it’s tough to argue with him. He has 4.2 billion reasons why he is right.

But the one thing that I have found to be true with all successful business owners is that winners never stop thinking of their business. They are obsessed. It’s embedded into their lives. They live, breath, and eat the business. They are in business mode 24/7/365. Winners are married to their business.

#6. Winners Are Committed

Winners look into the mirror every single day and peek at the ONLY person responsible for their success. They don't blame their financial or family situation. They don't blame the market. They don't blame competition. They don't blame employees or co-workers, the government or "the man". True winners look in that mirror every single day and know they are the ONLY person that can make or break their business. True winner's become accountable to themselves first, which by default makes them accountable to their business and their ultimate success!

#7. Winners Expect To Win

Since 1977, the International Ice Hockey Federation has been organizing the World Junior Hockey Championship. And every year only one team truly EXPECTS to win that tournament. This one team EXPECTS to win so much so, that anything less than a gold is cause for national disgrace and witch hunts over what went wrong. While other teams might jump for joy over a silver medal, the very idea of silver is sickening and repulsive to this one team.

Since 1977, this team has won no fewer than 15 of the 33 gold medals up for grabs. They have also captured a dozen silvers and bronzes – finishing out of the medals on just 6 occasions.

The Canadian World Junior Team is a classic example of a team that EXPECTS to win; just like the NFL Steelers, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and as much as I hate to say it, decades and decades of the Montreal Canadiens. You ask any one of the players or coaches who have been inside great organizations like these and they will tell you that the very idea of losing is disgusting. The parallels from the worlds of the Steelers, Yankees and Canada’s World Junior Team to the big winners in business like Apple, Nike and McDonalds are unmistakable. These are all great examples of teams that fully EXPECT to win when they step out to do battle!

If you take just one lesson from this list, I would hope you honor yourself, your families, your teammates at work by refusing to lose and EXPECTING to Win!

I know I EXPECT nothing less.


Ken's message about "What Winners Know" appears to have something in common with a deal that went down the night before Super Bowl XLV.

The night before the big game, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy cancelled the final team meeting and had everyone fitted for Super Bowl rings.

Talk about going out on a limb and placing faith above fear.

It was a gutsy move considering the ridicule McCarthy and the Packers would have faced if the Steelers had won.

Mike McCarthy expected to win.

So did Winston Churchill when the "Battle of Britain was about to begin.

And so did Sylvester Stallone when debts were thick and dollars were thin.

What about you?

Do you need to develop more of a winners mindset?

Whether you need to win for the sake of your company, career or country, are there two or three ideas from this list you could apply?

And take your game to the winners circle.

"You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win"

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

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