Author:Auping, Jonathan


Grant Cardone has gone from a car salesman to a businessman with $1.4 billion in assets under his management.

But he still thinks of himself as a salesman, and he's arguably the best in the world. Before meeting him, I wouldn't necessarily have characterized myself as a cynic. It's just that I had a pretty good idea of what a salesman does: tries to sell you on something. So, if I had one goal going into the meeting, it was "don't buy it."

Cardone consults for multiple Fortune 500 companies. He offers financial and sales guidance to anyone through his training platform, Cardone University. He owns and operates seven companies with an annual profit of $150 million, and his real estate firm, Cardone Capital, holds $1.4 billion in assets. He's an international speaker with 2.4 million Instagram followers and seven books to his name including a New York Times best-seller. All impressive, but I am a tough sale.

Our conversation in Dallas was sandwiched between same-day flights to Texas and back to his home of Miami. It included a few sales tropes that, out of the mouth of just about anyone else, probably would have made me bristle. The title of Cardone's most popular book is If You're Not First You're Last, a sentiment I have never personally agreed with. Cardone also isn't shy about taking commonly accepted motivational adages and shredding them like they're less useful than the advice of a fortune cookie.

These are the types of conversations that usually put me on guard. And yet, put together, all his sales advice and turns of phrase and enthusiasm never really seemed to form a pitch. They formed a story. It was a story about a guy who hated sales. A guy who was bad at them. A guy who has experienced being rejected and who still seems to have complicated feelings about it even though his net worth suggests he should've long ago gotten over it. A guy who just wants you to take a risk when playing it safe keeps getting tougher and tougher.

It might sometimes sound like Grant Cardone has the tendency to speak in sound bites, but those words explain how he got from where he was to where he is now, and I don't think I can tell his story without them.

"One of the great things that happened to me in my life was the car dealership, and one of the worst things that happened to me was the car dealership."


Cardone was 21 years old and standing in the unemployment line in Lake Charles, Louisiana, when his uncle found him. He had no money. He hated college, but was a year away from earning a degree. His uncle insisted that he take a job selling cars. Cardone responded that he didn't go to college to sell cars.

"Well, you didn't go to college to be in the unemployment line," his uncle said. The next day Cardone was selling cars.

That is, he was showing up to a job at the car dealership. He wasn't selling many cars. "I was a bad salesman, period," Cardone says. It wasn't about cars. By that point in his life, he'd already tried his hand at selling insurance and working in retail. He didn't know how to build rapport with customers. He didn't know how to find common ground with them. He didn't want to ask uncomfortable questions.

If you're reading this you probably have a hunch how this part of the story turned out: Cardone got better at those things, and he started selling cars.

It all started with a mentor he never met. One day Cardone came across a sales training tape by a Southern car salesman named Jackie B. Cooper. To that point, Cardone says, no one had ever shown him how to be a professional salesman. The idea that there could be a method to selling cars was a revelation.

"I listened to that tape until it broke," he says. The only part of the tape that wasn't worn out was an 800 number printed on it that he called asking for more materials. He could buy more for $3,000. "I borrowed the money from my mother and that turned my whole life around."

The tapes prepared him for every possible sales scenario. He started showing up to the dealership early. "I was rehearsing what would happen each day," he remembers, now over 35 years later. "I would do [that for] 45 minutes to an hour." This segued into his natural proclivity for teaching. The rest of the sales team started to notice that the weird guy who was practicing his sales every morning was selling 15 to 20 cars a week, an almost unfathomable rate. Soon enough, they were joining him in his morning rehearsals, everyone role-playing a specific possibility. "The more I helped, the more I...

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