EPISODE 391: Renowned Sales Speaker Ron Karr Explains Why a Velocity Mindset Can Help You Achieve Bigger and Better Results

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Optimal Sales Mindset Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on June 17, 2021. It featured Ron Karr, former president of the National Speaker Association (NSA) and author of “The Velocity Mindset.“]

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RON’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Stay with your heart. Your heart knows where you need to go so let your heart drive your destiny. Not your mind, because your mind is filled with your limiting thoughts, your stories and all the other stuff we put there. Let your heart drive your destiny.”


Fred Diamond: We have the great Ron Karr, he’s the author of The Velocity Mindset. It’s good to have you here, we’ve been talking to you for a while, we’d hoped to get you on our live stage. First of all, congratulations on the book, it got a lot of attention. You’re a well-known sales speaker, you’ve been one of the leaders at the National Speaker Association for a long time and you’ve been recommended to us by a lot of our good friends like the great Bill Cates and Mark Hunter. It’s great to see you virtually. Let’s get started, I’m very excited to hear what you’re going to be talking about.

Ron Karr: Thank you for having me this afternoon. I want to ask everybody a simple question, do you remember the last time you felt on top of the world, that you were invincible, that anything you wanted to do, you could just plain do? For me, that moment is vivid in my mind.

It was July 30th, 2013 in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States of America, the city of brotherly love. I was standing in the wings of the grand ballroom at the Marriott hotel and the convention chair person was welcoming the 2,000 professional speakers, thought leaders and authors.

As he was welcoming them, I heard a beautiful rendition of God Bless America, “Land that I love, stand beside her and guide her through tonight with the light from above.” I have to tell you that even as a jaded New Yorker, my eyes misted over. Then I heard, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 40th president of the National Speakers Association, Ron Karr.

I walked onto that stage and I had to admit that at that one moment, I never felt as loved, appreciated and accepted. I delivered my acceptance speech, after which the 2,000 professional speakers, thought leaders and authors leapt to their feet in a rousing standing ovation with Bruce Springsteen singing in the background, “Come on up for the rising, come on up, lay your hands in mine. Come on up for the rising, come on up for the rising tonight.”

I can tell you that at that moment, I’d reached the pinnacle of success in my life. I was at the peak of the mountain and then, like all of us, we know that all good things must come to an end. At the end of my presidency, the earth below my feet just collapsed. I fell from the top of that mountain hard, it was in the form of nine surgeries mostly on my back in the next three years.

You know how Tiger had one level fused and he had trouble coming back? I have nine levels fused in my back and I’m still playing golf today. That’s not the reason I’m telling you this story. When you’re down and out like that and you start thinking about your life, you start thinking about all that you have accomplished and all that you have not accomplished.

I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my life, but yet there were still some things I just didn’t get to. When I started thinking about why that was happening, I realized it wasn’t because of external forces. Mostly, it was because of my own fears and stories that I was telling myself. Fears of why it wouldn’t happen, stories that I was telling myself that I wasn’t qualified, and therefore, I just did not go after them.

At that time, I was approaching 60 years of age and as you get to 60, though we live longer, you realized that your runway is kind of getting short. I started saying to myself, well, you better get on the stick. So, the concept of velocity started coming to my mind and yet, if I ask you, Fred, when you hear the word velocity, what’s the first word that comes to your mind?

Fred Diamond: Speed, obviously, acceleration.

Ron Karr: Yeah, and that’s what most people say. I thought that was what velocity was, but then I realized, wait a minute. The first 59 years of my life, I’ve been living hard and running hard, similar to what we do every day. We’re running hard, doing our to-do list and at the end of the day we stand back and say, “I didn’t have a free moment. I ran fast, but what did I really accomplish?” More importantly, did it get me to where I really wanted to be in life? That’s where I was at, at that moment.

I started investigating velocity and velocity’s not just speed. The physics definition is velocity with direction. As I studied that, I realized the one thing that prevents us from going further and faster is the direction that we’re going after. Either the lack of a direction, the wrong direction or a direction we don’t believe in. Your destiny.

I started looking at what I wanted to do for the rest of my life because for the last 30 years, I’ve been a sales trainer, I’ve been a sales keynote speaker, an advisor at a board of directors and I’ve been very successful. But I was losing some of my passion until that moment because the passion started coming back.

I became passionate about creating the Velocity Mindset movement. I was dedicated to ensuring that no one, no matter what part of their lives they were in, will sit back and be regretful because they either weren’t fulfilled or they didn’t get to where they wanted to be in life. That’s my passion for the next 20 years.

What I want to do today is I want to talk about each of you and how we can get you on the velocity track, speed with direction, that’s going to help you get to where you want to be in life. Whether it’s closing a big deal, whether it’s being the #1 salesperson on your team, getting into the house that you want, whatever it is that’s important to you. This program is dedicated to helping you get there.

Now, in the book The Velocity Mindset the subtitle is How Leaders Eliminate Resistance, Gain Buy-In and Achieve Better Results. So who’s a leader? You are a leader. Salespeople are leaders, your managers are leaders. Teachers are leaders, parents are leaders, coaches are leaders. In fact, if you really want to be brave enough, everybody in this world is a leader because we should be leading our own lives.

If you look at the top successful leaders and you look at the one thing that they do, and this is the premise of the book, the premise is what would the world look like if everybody acted like a leader and not as a victim of circumstance? What would this world look like?

What leaders do is after something happens or goes on that may be below what they expected, they don’t blame others. The first thing they do is they ask this one central question I’ll ask you to write down. What could I do differently next time?

For this presentation today, I’m going to be covering three areas that’ll bring velocity to your life. Mindset, alignment and destiny. All I want you to do is go on your own personal journey, keep a piece of paper out and when something strikes you as something that you feel makes sense that’s going to help you get to a better spot in where you want to be, just jot that down. This is your personal journey.

Let’s talk about mindset. By the way, mindset, alignment and destiny, the acronym is MAD. I want you to get MAD about your life, I want you to get MAD about where you want to be, but in a good way. Mindset, alignment and destiny.

What is mindset? Mindset is so important, it dictates everything we do. It’s how you’re thinking, it’s what you think is possible, it incorporates everything that’s in your mind whether it’s your aspirations, your fears, your stories, whatever. The one thing that can negatively impact our mindset is our limiting thoughts and beliefs, our stories.

What is a story? Something happens to you, someone tells you you’re not good enough to get someplace. You hear that and then you internalize it as to what you think they mean, that’s your story. You’ve created a story about it. Now, some stories work well. If someone says you’re not good enough and it led you to push and push to always go and be the best, that’s great. But if someone says you’re not good enough and you develop a story that you’ll never make it in this deal or whatever, then that story’s not serving you well.

Here’s the good news, he who writes the story can rewrite it. That’s what stories are, they’re not facts, they’re not even reality. They’re just what we’re creating as reality in our mind. Let me give you an example. When we talk about velocity in the book, sometimes you want to gain velocity, you have to slow down or even pause, sometimes you have to stop to gain velocity.

My first sales job was 1980. I was hired by raw business machines, I was seduced by them. It was when they converted from the liquid toner that got all everybody’s clothes to the dry toner. Very crisp copies, no mess, no fuss. They said, this copier’s great, it does 15 copies a minute, clear. I said, wait, where’s the collator? It’ll be here in six months. Where’s the duplicator? It’ll be here in six months.

Basically, all I had to sell was a copier that can do 15 great copies a minute and that was it. I start calling on doors and I’m going to an office manager and he said, what can I do for you? Well, I’ve got a great copier, does 15 copies a minute. Great, can it do what the Xerox machine on third floor does? Collate, dilate, duplicate? I go, “Uh… Not exactly.” “Come back when you can.”

After being kicked out on my butt for the next four months and realizing I was not getting where I wanted to go, I realized that maybe I got to start doing something because the adage is if you don’t like the reaction, change the action, and we’re the ones who are doing the action. My pause was what I call having a board meeting with me, myself and I.

The board meeting happened in New Jersey at a diner, and I go into the diner and I say, okay, what are you selling? A copier. Can you do what the other copiers do? No. Is that what you should be doing? It has to go deeper because we should be selling outcomes. What does a copier do? It’s really part of communications, so maybe I should change the conversations from a copier to communications.

I go in the next call, the officer manager goes, “What can I help you with?” I said, “Would you agree that a copier is nothing more than a communications vehicle?” and they said, “Yes.” I said, “When it comes to communications and copiers, what’s your biggest challenge?”

All of a sudden her eyes just got big and the emotions started coming out. She goes, “Oh my God. We’ve got this one copier on the third floor, Tim, Sally, they get up for one copy on the first floor, they chit-chat, by the time they get to the staircase, go upstairs, they’re in line behind all these big jobs. By the time they come back, it’s two hours.” I say, “How often does that happen?” “The equivalent of two full-time employees.

You want that back? They said, how? Simple, I’m not competing with the third floor. I’m going to give you one copier per floor, 15 copies [unintelligible 0:12:37] copies and I’ll bring you back those two full-time employees. I started selling three at a time. My machine didn’t change, my company didn’t change, I changed. It was my mindset that changed.

It was understanding what I was doing and what did I need to do differently to get to the end result. As you sit here today about your mindset, whatever you’re dealing with, just ask yourself. Is your mindset serving you well? What should you be doing differently?

We’re going to be talking about three things. The first thing we’re going to be talking about is empathy. When CEOs get ahold of me or sales managers, they want to hire a new leader or salesperson, we do assessments. One of the traits that we look for high rating is empathy. Why?

If you don’t have empathy, you don’t care about other people. If you have empathy, it means you’re going to be asking questions about where they’re trying to go and what’s important to them. Salespeople without empathy are all about them. They come, they puke all over the customers all their knowledge about everything and they want to know why they’re still not buying. They’re creating PhDs because it’s all about them and nothing about the customer.

You need empathy in order to get into people’s minds. In other words, think about this. We talk about how mindset’s so important. If mindset’s important to us, isn’t it important to them? If we really want to influence others, shouldn’t we find out what their mindset is all about? That’s the concept of empathy.

The second thing that I work with clients on is who’s your ideal customer? One client they were on a retainer with, they were doing 450 proposals a year. We cut it down to 250 and they doubled their revenues from 8 million to 16 million. Why? Because all that extra time on proposal that was taking two hours to two days was wasting their time. It wasn’t their ideal customer. They can now use that time to work with the people who will buy from them, spend more time finding better solutions and their business shot up.

I recently had another client with the same thing. Quotes coming in from inside sales. All they did was quote, quote, quote, they were only closing 15%. When the CEO finally got mad enough and moved from quote to qualify, meaning, who are these people? Do they have the products in their wheel set? Are we the ideal vendor for them? If so, then we quote. Their closing ration jumped from 15% to 60%. Do a good job of finding who your ideal customer is, because not all customers are good for us.

The third part is where we’re going to have a little fun. I asked Fred if he’s going to engage with me here. How do you engage the brain? I’m going to talk about three hormones, but you’re going to see how it plays out here really quickly. The first hormone is cortisol. We can’t eliminate cortisol, cortisol is the fight-or-flight hormone.

If you accept the fact that you’re a leader going into a customer, the first thing that you must do is create a safe environment for them to want to interact with you. You have to think ahead as to what that environment is, is what you’re planning to do going to serve you?

Zero to two is very little engagement. There’s nothing bad going on. You’re there, but you’re not really engaged. Three to five is where the real engagement is, this is where you’re listening intently, you’re engaged and you want to get going. But then all of a sudden, something happens, you start to have doubts, you go to six, seven or someone’s interrupting you.

If my customer, I’m calling them up and they’re not expecting me, I’m an interruption. Their cortisol goes up. Even a customer expecting me, if they’re really busy and they still have their meeting, their cortisol’s still high because they’re wondering, is this really going to help me? Because I’ve got too many alligators to deal with. Six to seven is still having doubt. Eight to ten, this is not for them, they check out either physically or mentally.

Fred, here’s what I want you to do. I want you to put yourself in the mind of someone who’s really busy. Let’s put yourself in the mind of Institute for Excellence, and I call you up to let me speak to your group one day. You’re busy, you’re dealing with a hundred different things and all of a sudden, you get this call from some guy you don’t know.

The phone rings and all of a sudden, I say, “Hi.” Where’s your cortisol at that moment?

Fred Diamond: It’s pretty low.

Ron Karr: Okay. Then I start saying, “Fred, let me tell you why you need to bring me in as a keynote speaker for your event. I’ve been doing over a thousand events, I get high ratings, a five out of five and it’s going to give you a lot more business. I think that we should talk about getting me to speak.” Let’s stop. Where’s your cortisol now?

Fred Diamond: It’s still pretty low. It’s somewhere between one and three at the most.

Ron Karr: Okay. Some people answer like Fred did, but other people answer six and above because they feel they’re being sold to, their defenses are up and they’re not even buying into anything yet. You follow where I am? But wherever you are, zero to a seven, it’s not serving me well. My job is to recognize that, so I’ve got to find out how do I get you down to a three to five?

Let’s start again. I’m still an interruption to you and here we go. “Fred, thank you for taking my call today. I know you get these calls all the time and you only want the best speakers. Can I just ask you an important question? What are the three things that you look for from the speakers that present to your audiences?”

Fred Diamond: I would say great content, energy and involvement, where they get the audience involved.

Ron Karr: At this moment right now, where’s your cortisol?

Fred Diamond: It’s down lower, more the engagement side. It’s a two and a half, maybe a three at the most.

Ron Karr: You started giving me information, right? We talked about the cortisol, but now the second hormone’s oxytocin, the trust and love connection. Oxytocin, trust is earned over a period of time. But Fred, is it safe to say that if you didn’t have one little bit of trust in me right now, would you have shared those three things with me?

Fred Diamond: No.

Ron Karr: What gave you the trust to do that in my first question?

Fred Diamond: You didn’t come on too strong, you made it about me, you asked me a good question which is actually the right question to ask. I have no shortage of speakers who reach out to me wanting to be on the stage, we get about 50 speakers per year who reach out, plus we have some that we’ve had before we want to have again. Usually, like you said, it’s like the first example.

“I have spoken to thousands of audiences around the world, spoken to tens of thousands of people.” I’m like, okay, great. Every speaker that I’m going to bring on has done that, that’s not really that important to me. What’s important to me is that you’re going to give me a good show, which means I’m going to give my customers a good show.

Ron Karr: Right. By asking you that question, what are the three things you want to get out of a speech, there was a change in your brain chemistry that time. You remember that moment?

Fred Diamond: Absolutely.

Ron Karr: I’m going to ask you the question again real quickly, answer the same way, okay? I want the audience to see this or listen to this as to how he responds. Fred, what are the three important things you want your speakers to deliver for your audience.

Fred Diamond: Great content.

Ron Karr: Stop. Right at that moment, your eyes shifted up. At that moment, there was a change in your brain chemistry, you started feeling different. Can you describe it for us?

Fred Diamond: I actually felt myself standing a little bit taller, I actually got a little bit of a chill on the back of my neck. I was surprised to feel that as well.

Ron Karr: When you felt that, did you feel I was more a disturbance in that time?

Fred Diamond: No. Actually, I wasn’t thinking about you at all, I was thinking about, that’s a great question. I was thinking, what do I need? I haven’t answered that question in a while, no one’s really asked me that question in a while but it’s a very important question to me because the event that we bring speakers to is my product.

I see we have a whole bunch of IES members who actually are watching today’s webinar and I’m sure there’s a whole bunch who are listening to today’s podcast. They know I need to ensure them that I’m not going to waste 5 hours of their Friday morning at the end of the week once a month.

Usually, the first Friday of the month we do our live programs so we spend a lot of time ensuring that, we can’t afford to bring a dud. Luckily, we’re able to get the cream of the crop, a lot of NSA speakers and people that you’re familiar with. When you asked me that question, I was like, “Let me think about that for a second.” I answered that question many times but not in a while, that’s why I was thinking a little bit harder. It’s a great question.

Ron Karr: That’s the oxytocin, you started trusting because you felt like this was going to go someplace that you care about and may help you, and you gave me those three pieces. And you started feeling good, right? That’s the dopamine. But dopamine only rides with oxytocin, if you don’t have a trust of some kind, you won’t be feeling good.

We talk about if you want people to buy from you, they have to trust you. Trust is earned, but they have to trust you in everything you’re doing and they’ll start trusting you more if you make it about them, not about yourself. Let me give you a real example of how this works.

In the early 2000s, I was brought in by a very well-known financial services company, they knew their numbers. Five calls for a financial advisor to get a new investor on board, they wanted to reduce their sale cycle, gain velocity.

I went out and they were cold calling retiree homes, that was their market. In the first call, this retiree couple opened the door, we went in and I counted on my watch for 12 minutes, all he talked about was pictures of their grandkids trying to build that social engagement. I can see in the eyes, they’re going like, “What are they doing here?”

Ladies and gentlemen, our customers don’t need more friends, they don’t need more relatives, they need solutions to their problems. I took him outside and I said, just cut the chit-chat down for 30 seconds. Then I want you to go in there and say, look, I’m a financial advisor, this is not about your stocks and bonds, I know you have somebody. I just want to ask you an important question, would you mind? They said no.

When it comes to your future, what are the three things you want your money to provide for you? And all of a sudden, they got into a different conversation. The manager heard about this and they said, we got a class in here in the headquarters, they’re all four to seven years in the experience. Can you do a one-hour for them? It was 5:30, end of the day, went and did my hour. We’re all staying in the same hotel.

That night, eleven o’clock, my phone rings and it’s one of the people from the class who said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but I got to talk to you.” I said, why? He goes, I tried what you said, I had widows, both for $100,000, both who wouldn’t buy from me. One for six months, one for three months.

I called them up and I said, I was remiss. All I kept talking about was stocks and bonds but I never asked you the most important question I should have. Do you mind if I do? Both said yes. He said, when it comes to your future, that’s what I’m really here for, what are the three important things you need your money to provide for you?

They both got in a different conversation they never had, one committed their funds to him that night and one gave him another appointment. That’s how fast you can change the reaction of your customers, but it all depends on your mindset and how you come across. It’s about them, not about you.

That’s the second part, alignment. How do you align? Making sure you’ve got the right people to talk to and how you engage them. The third part of that is D, destiny. Why did I leave this for the end? Destiny should be the first. I left it for the end because I want you to think about it the most when we’re done. Because like I said, velocity plus direction, direction is destiny.

If you go to Newark Airport and you’re flying, you say to your pilot, where are we going to go? He goes, I have no clue. Would you stay on the plane? The answer is no. But if the pilot wants to go to Miami, he starts with the other side first. He’s got Miami, then he works his way back to see what are the right points, then he looks at the storms, and he makes all these alterations so at the end of the day he gets you there the safest way and the fastest way.


If you have all the answers upfront, it means you’re not shooting big enough. Leaders know it’s okay not to have the answers upfront, because they know that if they’re working on the right thing, they’ll go find the answers. Don’t let not having the answers stop you.

What’s the result when we worked with this client? 18 months later, they were awarded a $200 million deal, negotiated at a good price. That’s why your destiny is so important. Ladies and gentlemen, what I want you to do, I want you to think about MAD, mindset, alignment, destiny. What can you do differently to get to where you want to be?

In closing, I’m going to talk about one other thing we put into the book, The Velocity Mindset. It’s the concept of intuition. I always thought it was fluff 30 years ago when I heard about it, but it really isn’t. What’s intuition? Nothing more than all your biases, experiences, what you know about yourself, what you’re willing to do, what you’re not willing to do. All that stuff that you hold in your heart.

If I ask people, “What is your intuition?” they go up here trying to analyze and they’re in the wrong place. If you’re really accessing your intuition right here, that answer should be coming to you immediately. You should not have to think about it.

We got the book done at the end of September and just as I was handing in the transcript, I was supposed to move to Florida because I wanted to get to a warm climate. My intuition started talking to me saying, “You’ve had this heart valve issue, all your life it’s beating tighter. Maybe you better go for another echo because maybe you’re not going to Florida.”

I go, “Come on, that’s so stupid.” I said, “Dude, you just wrote about it in this book, so are you going to walk your talk or not?” I called my cardiologist, he did the echo and he pulled a file. He goes, “You’re not going anywhere. It’s so tight, your aorta valve, you have two years left and you could die suddenly in six months.” We got the best surgeon, we did the surgery and today I’m in the best cardiac shape ever. But I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t allow myself to listen to myself.

You know what you have to do in your life, you know what you want to do in your life. What we all have to learn is to listen to our intuition, trust it and act on it. My hope for all of you is that as you go forward, you go for the things you really want. You go for the kinds of relationships you really want, not what you’re being told you can have and not have, but what you really want.

Identify what the steps are to get there, go find the people that can help you figure it out and go after it. Do not allow your limitations, your limiting thoughts, your story to stop you because when it comes to velocity, it’s not the external things that happen to us. It’s usually our own self-induced limitations that prevent our own velocity from happening. That is something we can all control.

Fred Diamond: Ron, that’s very powerful. As a matter of fact, we have a Women in Sales Leadership Forum that we do, it’s a six-session program held over two months for women and sales leaders across the world. We dedicate a session to intuitive decision-making and it’s always the most powerful session that we do.

Ron, I want to thank you again. Also, I want to acknowledge this. You alluded to this in the beginning when you mentioned that great day when you were at the NSA and you were giving your final speech with our good friend, Bruce Springsteen. You’ve touched tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of sales professionals around the globe in your career, you’ve been doing this for a long time.

You’ve reached the highest level of speaker and you’ve worked with some of the biggest and best companies in the world. I just want to acknowledge you for the tremendous work that you’ve done in your career to help sales professionals and business leaders and entrepreneurs really take their business to the next level.

Your point about intuitive decision-making is so on-target. You know the right thing, you need to stick to the right thing. Ron Karr, as we end every single Sales Game Changers podcast, give us your final action step. Something specific that our audience can do right now to take their sales career to the next level.

Ron Karr: If I could just add one thing before I do that on this slide here, if you go to velocitymindset.com, we have a leadership assessment. Not only does it assess what you think about your leadership skills but it gives you the do’s and best practices about what you can do immediately. I invite you to take that, you also get weekly Friday videos on Velocity Mindset and there’ll also be a link to the book if you decide to purchase it.

What is the one thing that I want you guys to think about and do? Stay with your heart. Your heart knows where you need to go, let your heart drive your destiny. Not your mind, because your mind is filled with your limiting thoughts, your stories and all the other stuff we put there. Let your heart drive your destiny.

Fred Diamond: Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the great Ron Karr. For everybody watching today, thank you. Ron, thank you so much.

Ron Karr: Thank you so much.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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