Title: From A Broke Student to a 7-Figure Sales Leader with Steven Cohen
Steven Cohen is Co-Founder of Sundar Energy, a residential solar company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the fastest growing sales team in the country. Steven went from a broke student to a 7-figure sales leader and keynote speaker.
In this episode, Steven talks about how he uses fear as a motivator, why it’s important to stay ultra-consistent, and how he develops and coaches his teams to be high-performers.
The worthiness complex
Common fears in high-performers
Our unconscious mind creates our world
Leveraging pain to make shifts
Stop putting meditation on a pedestal
Lessons in stoicism
The law of familiarity is the enemy
How Steven approaches culture and team-building
Be the victor not the victim
Steven’s definition of direct sales
How he stays rejuvenated
Why you should create financial freedom for yourself
Connect with Steven:
Connect with James:
3:35 James: “What is a game-changing book you’ve read recently?”
Steven: “One of my favorite books is a book called ‘Ask and It is Given’, written by Jerry and Esther Hicks. It really focuses more on the thinking, the spiritual side of success. You can read all the tactical and all the strategies, which are important, but I believe that until you have the right philosophy, and until you have the right awareness over your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions, and really can frame them in a certain way that’s gonna support you, all the strategies, all the techniques, all the circumstances, you’re not gonna be able to really capitalize on them until your inner world until your inner world is right.”
6:53 James: “What has been your biggest fear that you’ve confronted and maybe still wrestle with when you made that choice to leave that old Steven behind and embrace this new version that you strive to be?
Steven: “I would say probably the biggest challenge and I still face it today is I think the worthiness complex. New levels, new devils, right? In order for you to take on a new lifestyle, a new level of success, a new death in a relationship, whatever part of your life that you’re trying to enhance, there’s gonna be challenges and there’s going to be certain things that come up from the marketplace, from the universe, in order to test you about how committed or how serious you are in order to accomplish that goal that you’re trying to accomplish. And for me, I think the biggest thing was getting to that level of success. Becoming that person that I dreamed of, having the social skills and not being able to handle it or not wanting the responsibility that came with it or having it and then potentially being at risk to lose it.
I forgot who said this, but, being poor, being broke, isn’t the worst thing that can happen in life. It’s tasting that success and losing it for a lot of people is the worst thing that could potentially happen. So I feel like a lot of people including myself, we almost stop before we achieve that milestone, or we stop right before that gold is mined because of our fear of once we accomplish that, either not being able to handle it, being overwhelmed or potentially losing it, therefore we don’t take the action that we need to get there.”
9:19 Common fears in high-performers: using fear as fuel as opposed to a paralyzer.
James: “I’ve created a fear series on just fears that are common in high performers. And I would consider you a high-performer…a high-caliber leader. And when you study these types of individuals you understand that they’re human like everybody else, and that they feel the fear but they actually use it as fuel as opposed to a paralyzer. And the fear that you mentioned for me lumps into fear of success, which is the one that I have the most intimate relationship with.
And it doesn’t mean that you fear the things that you want. It means you fear the change that comes with the things that you want. And the change can be the pressure. It can be the spotlight, it can be the risk of having it and then having it slip through your fingers. And thank you for sharing that because I know a lot of leaders out there probably resonate with the same thing and it’s very common.”
11:26 Your performance is directly related to your unconscious mind. Our personality creates our personal reality.
Steven: “My job inherently is a lot of dealing with people, emotions, different types of walks of life. My biggest goal is to try and help people grow and develop, because I believe that your results in the marketplace, your results in solar direct sales is a reflection of your inner world. It’s a reflection of the inner work that you’re doing because we bring ourself wherever we go. So you can’t go out there and go crush 10 installs in a month, or go crush a quarter million, half a million dollars, whatever your goal is, if you don’t believe deep down that you’re worth that level of income… Unconsciously, you’re going to stop yourself from achieving what you want and start self sabotaging yourself because of those beliefs that ultimately run our unconscious mind is what creates our world. Our personality creates our personal reality. I love that because I believe in that. So in order to get your income or your external results to the level that you want, you first need to get your yourself, your personal development, your personality, your attitude your values, your discipline, all these non-physical things to that point first in order to sustain that.”
14:43 Steven describes his breaking point, and how he leveraged pain to make shifts in his life.
Steven: “There was a breaking point where I was with my mom and we were going to a payday loan place because, she was late on her bills. And I remember going with her and I just remember on that car ride home, like making a conscious decision, just getting so fed up with my current lifestyle and like these current circumstances. No, I need to make this happen. I can’t wait 5, 10, 15 years because my parents are getting older. They can’t afford that. And I almost leveraged that pain unconsciously at the time now looking back, I can consciously realize it. I leveraged that pain and that discomfort and that fear in order to really shift something in my life. And then from that point forward, maybe it was a month, a year, I don’t remember exactly, but that’s when I got into solar shortly after that. And then people’s circumstances and places started coming together in order for me to start my trajectory on my journey of success. And, my monetary income started being a reflection finally, of what I believed I was worth.”
20:05 Stop putting meditation on a pedestal. Complexity is the enemy of execution.
Steven: “It’s still one of those things that I struggle with to this day. For a long time I used to put meditation on a pedestal. There’s this esoteric, crazy magical, mystical thing about meditation. And I think when people do that or at least for myself it’s a little scary. It’s a little intimidating and complexity is the enemy of execution. When you create this complexity in terms of processes, in terms of tasks, in terms of things that you wanna do, chances are, you’re not gonna do it because you’re not making it easy for yourself.
You wanna set yourself up to win. So now my relationship with meditation is very similar to my relationship with solitude… just spending time with myself. Cutting out distractions, cutting off noise, doing my best to stay off social media and just spending time with myself without stimuli, bogging down my psyche. And that’s when, to your point, the magic happens.”
23:00 Staying ultra-consistent and using mantras to weather the storm.
Steven: “There’s a mantra that I’ve been saying to myself for I feel like the last seven or eight years. It’s things will work out because things always work out. And I remember during more uncertain times in my professional career where, I was all in financially, I was all in emotionally. If things didn’t work out, I didn’t know what I was gonna do. And we all have to go through phases and seasons.
Whenever things pop up, challenges big or small, because you know, the more money you make, the more successful you become doesn’t get easier, right? You just become better. You become better at dealing with these bigger problems. And by having certain mantras that ground me, like things will work out because things always work out, are you dead though? Are you going to die? And having these mantras give me a sense of peace and grounding that have helped me in the challenges and in the seasons of storms in order to have the faith in order to take action, and in order to get through it. Because at the end of the day any decision, any challenge, any mountain that we go against, it’s not gonna kill us for the most part in modern day society.
So therefore it’s the actual fear and uncomfortability. That’s actually more scary than actually taking the action in order to get there. So you need certain anchors in order to ground you, to give you the confidence, to give you the empowerment in order to make that decision. That’s number one.”
24:40 Lessons in stoicism. James: “What do you ask yourself regularly that help you not buy into the emotional storms that may happen along the journey and stay focused and rooted in you the vision or the purpose?”
Steven: “I’ve always been a very stoic person. And I haven’t really started studying stoicism up until the last couple years, but it’s always something that I’ve embodied from people like you who have told me certain things about myself that I really appreciate, or mentors of mine. I’ve always been a very consistent person in the way that I show up in my emotional bank account.
I never allow the highs to get too high. I never allow the lows to get too lows, the peaks and the valleys. I usually stay pretty consistent. One of the compliments I tend to get is, know, it doesn’t matter if it’s a bad day or a good day. I show up the same way. And at first I didn’t do that by design.
It was just more of my default, but the more I’ve dove into that, the more I realize that’s been one of the characteristics or one of the gifts that’s been able to serve me the most because what happens with most people while they’re not consistent is because they’re so reactive to whatever is going on in their.”
29:30 The law of familiarity is the enemy, especially for over achievers.
Steven: “Law familiarity is one of our biggest enemies. I feel like it’s something that I try and battle every single day. What becomes familiar becomes taken for granted. Whether that’s your wife, whether that’s your relationship, your house that you wish you had one day, the dream car that you now have your career, all these things that we wish and desire.
And we work so hard for that we accomplish after a week after a month, whatever it is, we lose that sense of energy and that sense of gratitude and appreciation of getting it. So for me, battling that law of familiarity is really important because if you don’t take time to celebrate your victories, you lose a little bit of hunger and you rob yourself of the experience bbecause if you’re not taking time to enjoy it, what gives you the motivation to go out there and get the next thing?”
33:33 James: “You’re really good at building culture and at recruiting. Talk to us about how you think about culture and forming a team that can unify and support one another. What are some components that you could share with us that you think would be valuable for any leader who wants to build a team who is already currently leading a team?
Steven: “I think the challenge with people trying to build a team is they’re not clear on the thing that they’re trying to accomplish.
For the last decade, my mission has been to help myself and help as many people as possible live life on their own terms and do that by developing, do that by increasing their communication skills, do that by bringing in like-minded individuals that share a common goal and a common dream, because you’re gonna get there that much quicker.
So step number one is you need a strong vision. You need a strong ‘why’.
Number two is you need a super solid foundation. And three it’s Ziglar’s, OG quote that everyone knows about, right? “When you help enough people get what they want, you get what you want by default.”
I’m not in the profession of selling solar. I’m in the profession of building people because as you build the people, the product will sell itself. And for me, I’ve always really have tried not to just help people in their business, but to help people in their life.”
43:11 Be the victor not the victim.
Steven: “Either you’re the victor or the victim, which is a great book, but it’s true. I think 95% of people’s challenges go away when they stop playing victim. If you can truly, take full responsibility for everything going on in your life, the good, the bad, the ugly, the great.
If you’re always blaming your circumstances or the economy, or my coach, isn’t doing a good job or this hood already got burned. If you’re always blaming outer circumstances, you’re giving your power to things that are outside of your control. Therefore you can’t change anything. And that’s when people get into that story and they hold onto these problems of why they’re not in the situation they are, or why they’re on probation or why their car got repoed. And because they don’t want to take ownership over their life and what they created.
44:29 How Steven defines the direct sales industry.
Steven: “I believe direct sales is just a personal development program with a big compensation plan attached. And that’s how I’ve looked at it for the last 10 years. Sales is the job, that’s what you do. Knocking on doors, selling solar, online marketing, like whatever your sales profession is, pest control, alarms, whatever that’s the job. But the person that you become in the process is ultimately gonna be the biggest reward.
For me, direct sales has changed my life. Not just financially, the byproduct, but because I had to become a completely different person. Growing up I was low, self-esteem, super shy, bad at communicating. I’d walk into a room and care more about what people think about me versus what I think about them. And for me, direct sales was that opportunity. It was that college for learning and for me to really transform myself by doing something really uncomfortable. There’s a quote that says two years of knocking on doors is like equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in communication. Being able to, work on your communication skills, being able to work on your emotional intelligence, being able to work on your level of consistency.
47:56 James: “What are your energy rejuvenating activities that help you continue to show up the way you want.”
Steven: “Massages are a really big thing for me. I try and do them weekly, if not weekly bimonthly, at least two times a month. For me, it’s a sense of meditation.
For a really long time I always neglected my body. I remember in 2018, I was like, oh, I don’t need to work out. I don’t need to go to the gym. I don’t need to do this. I’ll do that when I’m rich and I can afford a personal trainer, I gotta focus on this right now. When that was completely backwards. I was actually preventing my financial success because I wasn’t focusing on my health, my body, my energy, my rejuvenation, my vitality. So massages are something that’s changed my life because it it allows me to just think for 60 minutes to 90 minutes in a dark room, not doing anything, it’s almost like a forced meditation.
I’m big on things like cryotherapy. I’m big on taking vacations once a quarter, away from work. I’m just big on making sure that my cup is filled because I realize that if I’m not being selfish Then I’m not able to serve people at the highest level that I need to.”
56:24 Why you should create financial freedom for yourself.
“I think focusing on financial freedom is my biggest goal right now. It’s not just about making money, but it’s also about figuring out a way to make money not important to me anymore, because me and you are both deep thinkers. James, I know you do a bunch of stuff in Colombia and like all these really cool trips to really learn more about yourself, learn more about life.
Why are we really here? And for me, one of my biggest goals for a really long time after I’ve taken care of a lot of the monetary solutions that I’ve been able to accomplish is making enough money where I can clear my mind up of the basic necessities and the things that I need to do.”
I think most people are so content with just surviving in life and just playing the cards they were dealt that they almost give up on their dreams. They give up on why we’re really here. And for me I really want to inspire people by doing it myself.
You can create a life where you can have all your financial stuff taken care of and really be able to go deep and tap into why you’re really here and figure out like what your mission is. And that’s really been my mission this last year is to figure out what I need to do to get myself to that level and help as many people as possible get there.”
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