196 Grieving Loss and Rebuilding Success – Jeff Goldberg

What You Will Hear:

  • Divorced, 3 Months Behind on Rent – Jeff’s Story
  • How to Reach Out for Support When Life is TOUGH
  • Finding Your Way out of Terrible Situations
  • Be Your Own Coach, Tap into What You Know and Succeed
  • Grieving Loss and Rebuilding Success 

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More about our featured guest

Jeff Goldberg is an award-winning sales professional with 4 decades of sales, sales management, training & consulting experience. Many people don't know he was once stuck – emotionally and financially devastated from a divorce and loss of business income. He shares his story of grieving loss and rebuilding success.

Jeff is the co-author of two books, “Leverage Your Laziness!” (an Amazon Best Seller) and “How to Be Your Own Coach” He  is also a partner at The Entrepreneur Center on Long Island, where he’s a Business Growth Strategist,  heading up the Corporate Training Division.


Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to Relaunch. The best show you will ever hear for career changers, corporate misfits, creatives in hiding, and those with a dream. If you need a daily dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas, and practical steps, well, guess what? You have landed on the right show. If you're a daily listener, welcome back and thank you for tuning in and for being involved in the after-show online conversations. And if you're new to the show, welcome again, and just know that you are among friends. On the show today is international speaker and business growth strategist, Jeff Goldberg. And I'll bring him in here in just a minute, but before I do, let me share with you why you're gonna wanna stick around and hear what Jeff has to say about his own personal relaunch and how he had to begin again, at ground zero. Building up his life, his business, and his well being.

[01:02] Joel: If you've listened to this show before, then you know that I am on a personal mission to help 200,000 of our listeners learn to believe in themselves again; and here's where Jeff comes in. He is going to share with us some empowering ideas, and some inspirational stories to help us do just that; to believe again. He has co-authored two great books that that hopefully, he can weave into the conversation. “Leverage Your Laziness” is one of his books, and “How to Become Your Own Coach” is the second book. Jeff, welcome, welcome to Relaunch. Good to have you here.

[01:37] Jeff Goldberg: Thanks. It's great to be here.

[01:38] Joel: It is good to have you. We're looking forward to today's show and one of the things that I've learned about you, Jeff, as I was getting ready for the show, is that you spend some time as a stand-up comic and I love…

[01:52] Pei: I did not know that.

[01:55] Joel: Yeah, yeah. I know, see I don't tell you everything.

[01:58] Pei: Okay.

[01:59] Joel: Okay. I just love hearing those behind the scenes stories about the people in comedy, in theater, and actors. You know the behind the scene stories that people usually don't hear about, unless they ask. So, here I am asking. If you think back to your stand-up comedy or your theater days, can you think about one of the more memorable, behind the scenes moments, maybe a funny moment that you can't get away from even though you've tried to move past?

[02:33] Jeff: Well, I think it has to do with how I got my start. And when you say that… By the way Joel, I appreciate that you're calling me a stand-up comedian. In fact, I've only tried it twice. But in my line of work, where I'm a sales consultant and trainer, I get to be very funny and use humor to engage people. But, I'm one of those guys who, all my life, people said “Jeff you should be a stand-up comedian,” ”cause I was able to make people laugh and…

[02:57] Joel: And because it pays so well and because there's so much job security in it.


[03:03] Jeff: Well, as a matter of fact, I'm sensing some facetiousness in your voice and, of course, you know that's not true. And I just never really believed that I really had the talent to do that, but I went to Club Med with a couple of friends one time and… Have you ever been to Club Med?

[03:17] Joel: No, but it's always a good idea.

[03:19] Jeff: Exactly, right. Well, one of the things that happens at Club Med when you go in… It doesn't matter which one you go to. They put on a show for you every night. And one week, during the week that you're there, you can be in the show if you want to. So, the GOs, those are the people that work there, come along the beach or wherever you are, and they say, “Hey, would you like to be in the show?” And, of course, when they came to my friends and I and said, “Would you like to be in a show?” My hand went up immediately.

[03:39] Joel: Of course.

[03:39] Jeff: And I said, “What would you like me to do?” They said, “Well, what would you like to do?” And I replied, “Could I do some stand-up comedy?” And they said, “You can do whatever you want, sir.” I said “Can I use foul language?” They said “Sir, you are paying us to be here, you can do whatever you want.” So, for three days, I prepared a stand-up comedy routine and I'm pacing up and down the beach, and practicing. The big night comes and they say my name and I got up and I killed, literally kill… Well, not literally. I didn't kill anybody, but the audience was going nuts so much, so that afterwards people were coming up and buying me drinks and saying, “Where can I see you back on the stage? You're gonna be the next Seinfeld.”

[04:17] Joel: Oh, my goodness.

[04:17] Jeff: Yes, exactly right. My head was exploding. It was like “Oh, my God! Maybe I really could do this fantastic thing.” So, I got back home and wrote a routine and I went to Jimmy's Comedy Alley in Bayside, New York which was a converted bowling alley. And you're asking for the moment that I remember behind the scenes. Well, it was open mike night and I'm pacing back and forth and, “Good evening, ladies and gentleman. My name is Jeff Goldberg. Good evening… ” I'm practicing and the MC walks over, he goes, “First time?” And I said, “Well, how could you tell?” Anyways, he calls me up first, I get up there, and I came to learn a few things.

[04:50] Joel: Uh-oh.

[04:50] Jeff: First of all, you learn the relativity of time. When you tell a joke and it goes over well and people laugh, time goes very, very quickly, but when you tell a joke… And, of course, every joke you tell, you think it's funny, otherwise you wouldn't say it. When you tell a joke and it doesn't go over, time tends to stretch out forever. I also learned that it's very easy to make drunk people laugh when they're on vacation in Martinique, and a lot harder when they've paid you $40 in Queens, New York.

[05:19] Joel: Oh, now that is almost tweet-able. Well, we'll have to work on trying to shorten that down, but…


[05:26] Joel: I was going to ask you when the people at Club Med asked you to be in the show, if you said yes before the second margarita or after the third margarita? I was just curious.

[05:40] Jeff: I'm pretty sure it was [10:00] in the morning and we were sitting on the beach, so I think that was just the second margarita.

[05:44] Joel: Oh, okay. You always gotta pace yourself when you're at those all inclusive places.

[05:50] Jeff: Exactly right.


[05:52] Joel: Appreciate you sharing that with us Jeff. This show, as you know Jeff, is all about the Relaunch and we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches, starts and stops along the course of our personal and our professional lives. And generally, what I ask people to do is zero in on the one relaunch that has been the most significant for them or that has been the most transformational for them. And then just unfold the story from there. And if that's okay, let's go ahead and do that. Talking about Jeff's relaunch, you tell me. Where do we need to start?

[06:34] Jeff: Well, it was 2008 and as I'm guessing that everybody who's gonna be listening to this broadcast knows, it was a pretty tough time in America and the economy had dropped out. A couple of years before that, I had gone through a divorce which is psychologically hard and of course financially hard. Now, as a sales consultant and trainer, which is how I earn my living, I've been fairly successful for the vast majority of my career. No matter what I did. Whether I was selling, managing sales people or once I became a consultant and sales trainer on my own. But in 2008, at the very end of the year when the economy was just tanking completely, I had two contracts that were both very large, that were… One was a brand new client that was supposed to sign with me for $285,000. And let me just take a side step for a second and tell you, at the time I was a sole proprietor. It was me and nobody else, and that means $285,000, you're probably talking about putting $275,000 into my pocket with the other $10,000 going to various expenses. So it was actually the biggest deal of my career.

[07:42] Jeff: At the last second, when the bottom really dropped out of the economy, after these guys had shaken my hands and said, “We're going with you, we've eliminated all the other vendors we're looking at, we want you.” But before we signed a contract, they had shaken my hand and at the last second they said, “I'm sorry, we decided to go in another direction.” So $285,000 was out the window. The very next week, I'm talking seven days later, I had called a client that I'd been doing business with for a long time and said, “Hey, I'm just checking up on that outstanding invoice for $43,500.” And I had previously experienced with them that sometimes invoices get lost in the shuffle, one time an invoice was stuck under somebody's, another invoice and they lost it, but the company had always paid. So I was just very gently checking up because, I don't about, to you, Joel and Pei, but $43,000 was a lot of money to me. So I was very, “Hey, I'm just checking up on invoice number whatever it was for $43,000. I don't know if its lost like the last one was or, can you just tell me where we are in the process? ‘Cause it was due last week.” And my contact said, “Oh, didn't anybody call you? We've decided we're not gonna renew with you, we're not gonna go with that again.”

[08:51] Jeff: So in the space of seven days, I lost $285,000 and $43,000 which, for just about anyone, is a pretty good year and for me is an excellent year. Now here's the really sad part, one of the things I teach people to do is to consistently prospect. Because you never know when something bad is going to happen. Sometimes it's got nothing to do with anything that you could have effected, but who could have predicted that the bottom was going to drop out of the economy? I certainly couldn't. And I didn't practice what I preached. So I'm at the end of December in 2008 and I'm down over $300,000. But the worst part is, I had absolutely nothing in my pipeline. So I'm reeling from a divorce psychologically. I'm out over $300,000 and I've got absolutely nowhere to go and nothing to do and I'm broke. ‘Cause as good as I am at earning money, and I'm real good at it, I am just as good at spending it, Joel and Pei, and I'm not a really great saver. Maybe one of the financial consultants in your audience will reach out to me and teach me how to do that.

[09:54] Jeff: So you're talking, here's a guy who's able to make a lot of money but I'm pretty much broke with nothing to do and nowhere to go. And I'm still reeling from this divorce which makes things tough psychologically, and the entire country is going nuts because the economy has tanked. And I don't know if you're aware, but in a bad economy, the first three things to go in most organizations are advertising, marketing, and training. And those are also the last three to come back. Well, I'm in the training business, so it's the first thing to go. So there I am in the beginning of the year, devastated emotionally, devastated financially. And I actually froze. I didn't pick up the phone, I didn't do anything. I just sat there pretty much holding my head going, “I don't know what I'm gonna do. I've got no money. I've got three young kids and an ex-wife that I've gotta take care of. Gotta take care of myself.” And I really was at a complete loss and a complete stop.

[10:49] Jeff: And a few months later, I was three months behind on my rent, two months behind on my car payment, struggling to make sure that I was still taking care of my children, 'cause that's the most important thing in my world, but at one point my landlord actually came to me and said, “Jeff, if you can't pay the rent next month, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave.” And I was actually looking at living in my car, because I had no money, nowhere to go. And I couldn't have been more emotionally distraught. So the bottom had really dropped out, not just for the country but certainly for me.

[11:22] Joel: Wow! Let me ask you this, Jeff, and I really appreciate you sharing here. As you were getting ready for your own lift off and your own relaunch, during that struggle and that pain, and I'm not gonna pretend to understand that I knew what it was like to be you because obviously, there's no way I could fully appreciate that. What are some of the things that you either learned or relearned about your own possibilities, potential? Maybe your own value, if you will, that helped to pour that gasoline into the fuel tanks so that you could propel?

[12:00] Jeff: Yeah, that's a great question. So the first thing I realized was that I need to follow the same advice I would give anybody else and the first thing I would have told them and the first thing I did was start reaching out to the people who know me, care about me and in fact, love me.

[12:15] Joel: Sure. Okay, and let me stop you right there. How tough was that?

[12:18] Jeff: Very tough. It was emotionally even more devastating maybe than the situation I was in. Look, I was over 50 years old at the time, and I had to call my landlord and sit down with her and tell her what happened and say “Look, I'm not gonna be able to pay the rent this month and I don't know what I… When I will.”

[12:33] Joel: Could you tell me how, hold on, I appreciate you wanting to really get into that story, but let's talk about reaching out for help because we both know or we all know how important that is but my God she doesn't make it any easier, so how did you learn or what steps did you take so you could start reaching out and then you could start letting other people really understand the situation and more importantly how they could help because one of the things that I've learned is if you're gonna ask for help you gotta be specific.

[13:09] Jeff: Yeah, it was really a matter of taking stock. It was taking a look at, “Okay, I'm in this terrible situation. I need to find some way out of it otherwise I'm really gonna be living in my car and I don't know how I'm gonna do any of the things I need to do including get back on my feet”, and so I had to take a look at who can I call, who does care about me and who do I think is smart enough to give me some good advice? . And I came up with a list of people and I started calling them.

[13:38] Joel: Let me ask you this, how long or how short, what was the actual list that you've worked from?

[13:45] Jeff: It was a very short list, there were only three people on it.

[13:47] Joel: Okay, okay.

[13:48] Jeff: Because they had to fit a certain criteria, I had to trust them enough that I could bare my soul and in my mind humiliate myself and I had to also believe that they were intelligent enough and smart enough in the business world that they would give me some solid advice.

[14:06] Joel: Okay. Now this is an important point and I'm really glad that we're talking about this because while we may have a thousand Facebook friends or 10,000 Twitter followers or, pick your social media platform and that's all good and a lot can be said for people that are paying attention to your content and checking you out every once in a while online but when you're setting yourself for your own relaunch, when you're ready to blast off into the next phase in your life it's about the shortlist, it's about the people that know you, that believe in you, that trust you, that you can come absolutely naked in front of a mirror clean with people to help them know that they can help you, yes?

[14:58] Jeff: Absolutely true but there's more to it than just that. I have lots of people in my life like that but I also needed not only can I be naked in front of them but that they'll actually have the smarts or the experience or the wisdom to help me out, it's why I often tell people “Your family is often not the right people to go to.” Of course they care about you, of course they love you but they're almost a little too close to the situation and none of the people I reached out to were family, that they're like family but they're not real family.

[15:26] Joel: Good point.

[15:26] Pei: Very good point. So, with that shortlist knowing that they love you, trust you and can provide the inside wisdom to the situation, so what were the best advice from that tight little group?

[15:43] Joel: Good question. Good question.

[15:44] Jeff: That's perfect Pei. So here's what really made the difference, I actually sat with my best friend in the world since high school and that's a long, long time, who is a highly successful attorney and I've always shared everything with him and he with me and I explained the situation and he certainly, he sat and he listened carefully without interruption and then he simply said, “Jeff, you are a business coach. You help people come out of this all the time, so if somebody came to you and described this situation what would you tell them to do?”

[16:19] Joel: Don't you, isn't that an annoying question by the way. Little tongue-in-cheek but…

[16:25] Jeff: It was an annoying question but I hadn't really thought of that before, I hadn't really thought of, “Hey, I'm a smart guy. I know how to fix these situations.” I was so messed up in the head that I had forgotten who I am, it's kind of like in the movie Lion King where Mufasa says to Simba, “You've forgotten the face of your father or I've forgotten my own face.” And when my friends said it to me, and it was full of love and full of caring, “What would you tell somebody who came to you?” Almost in an instant I knew what I had to do. It was almost, really no kidding, within a minute I was like “Oh my God of course!” What would I tell somebody else and that's all I needed to do. Of course I still needed to actually do it, I actually needed to take the action but with his help and we actually set up a series of support calls where he was willing to talk to me as often as I wanted to but every Monday morning we were gonna start out with “Did you do what you said you would do?” and he actually had me make commitments to him each week and that's what made the difference, figuring out the plan, getting into action and having somebody to support you.

[17:36] Jeff: You mentioned that one of my books is called How To Be Your Own Coach but even in the book where we advise people how they can coach themselves to success, the book by the way is about setting goals and achieving them, there's a million books about how to set goals but then our book we actually say “Now that you've got goals here's how you actually go and get them.” And in our book, we actually say “Even though it's called how to be your own coach, you still need a coach, you still need somebody to hold you accountable because left to our own devices, most of us, not everybody, but most of us will lie to ourselves and cheat ourselves. So, you need somebody who will kick you in the rear end when you need that.”

[18:10] Pei: That trust and accountability behind you was so key. What was it that you already know, you just didn't take action on and why was that?

[18:22] Jeff: Perfect question. What I needed to do was actively prospect. I needed to do the thing, I'm the very best at teaching and the thing I hate doing most, which is pick up the phone and cold call new prospects, and I hate doing it. No kidding. I always say it's not bragging if it's true. You're talking to one of the top five people in the country, maybe the world, to teach people how to prospect effectively. But I hate doing it myself. That's what I needed to do. He said, “You need more business. How do you get more business?” I said, “Well, you prospect.” He goes, “Well, have you been doing that?” I'm like, “No.” And it's so obvious, it's almost like I'm stupid for not thinking of that. But, when your head is messed up, sometimes you just can't see a foot in front of you, and I needed my friend to say, “What would you do?” and actually sit with me. We sat for hours and came up with the plan. And the best part of the whole story is it took a very, very short time to turn things around once I knew what to do and, most importantly, got into action.

[19:25] Joel: Great, great tips right there. Short list, accountability partner, and then being held accountable. And one of the things that I say, and I'm sure you say something very similar to this as well is, the key to clarity is action. Because, like my friend Larry Winget says, “You get an idea, you take immediate action, fast action, and what does that provide? Fast feedback.”

[19:52] Jeff: Yeah, yeah. It's okay to make mistakes. But when you're not in action, there's nothing to judge against. It's like whenever I coach sales people, I tell them, “I need you to do activity. I don't care if it's the wrong activity, but I can't correct nothing. I can only correct something. So get on the phone, knock on a door, send a letter, send an email, make a Tweet, do whatever you're gonna do, and show me what the result was, and then we can fix it.” And I just, Joel, Pei, I was not in action. That's really all it took, and really in three months, my life turned around.

[20:23] Pei: Wow!

[20:23] Joel: Go ahead, Pei.

[20:24] Pei: Now Jeff, I'm curious. So, you were coaching sales before and now, after going through this process, what was the major difference in your coaching strategy or how you coach others because of your own struggle?

[20:43] Jeff: Brilliant question. The coaching itself is no different, but the credibility is better because I have a story to tell that almost all of them can relate to. You see, sales is, for most sales people, not all but for most, it's a game of up and down. Good month, bad month, good quarter, bad quarter, good paycheck, bad paycheck. So, when I'm standing in front of a sales team, or an audience, or giving a keynote speech, or anything like that, a story like I just told you, while embarrassing to a certain extent, really gives people something they can relate to, and when I tell them the end of the story, that in 90 days I was able to turn things around, completely pay off all the debt I had created in the short time that I was, lost all that money, and it helps them to listen to me differently and it makes me more relatable. I'm not just the guy standing at the front of the room or up on the stage who, “What does he know about my life?” I've lived your life. So, while the coaching isn't any different, the experience that the people have who I'm coaching, I think, is different for them.

[21:46] Joel: Well, like my coach tells me, now you have street cred [chuckle] And sometimes that is the difference maker.

[21:54] Jeff: Yeah. Exactly right. And what I really had to was, my friend, Ken, he helped me reverse engineer, which is really taken from my other book, Leverage Your Laziness. We talk about you've gotta take a look backwards. You work from the end result to the beginning to figure out what you wanna do. It's how we got to the moon. They didn't say, “Well, first we'll build a rocket.”, they actually reverse engineered us to the moon. When Kennedy set that as a goal, they said, “Okay, so we're on the moon, what had happened right before that, and what happened right before that?” And when you reverse engineer, you can really figure out your life.

[22:29] Joel: Absolutely. I love that. In my book, Finding Your Voice, coming for a landing on this one, is I tell the story about Apollo 13. Remember that movie, Apollo 13?

[22:40] Jeff: Sure.

[22:40] Joel: And you remember that party where Kevin Bacon, his character, and Tom Hanks, and everyone was kind of gathered around the TV watching Walter Cronkite announce that Neil Armstrong had first, had landed on the moon?

[22:55] Jeff: Yep.

[22:56] Joel: And well, the next scene, Tom Hanks' character, Jim Lovell, he and his wife are out there in the backyard, and he's looking up at the sky, and he has his thumb over the moon, and he's twitching his thumb back and forth. Now you see it, now you don't, now you see it, now you don't, looking at the moon. And Tom Hanks said, “You know, we now live in a world where man has walked on the moon” and then Tom's character says, “And it's not a miracle. We just decided to go.” And when you make those decisions that, “You know what? I've gotta turn my life around. I've gotta pay off this debt. I've got to relaunch my life into a better second half,” all you gotta do, just like that story in Apollo 13, is you just decide to go.

[23:47] Jeff: You're so right, Joel. I've done a lot of personal development work over decades, and one of the organizations I was very active with for a long time is the Landmark Forum People. And one of the things they say is, the forum begins the moment you register. It's making that commitment, putting the pen to paper, making the deposit. Stuff starts to change before you even take the course you've got to make that decision and get into action. You're so right. That's perfect Joel.

[24:15] Joel: Thank you very much. Jeff Goldberg is our guest today, “Leverage Your Laziness” is his Amazon best seller, also “How to be Your Own Coach” is the other book that he has co-authored. Really appreciate your time today Jeff, you're welcome back here on the Relaunch Show any time. Thank you for…

[24:36] Jeff: Awe thanks, it was my pleasure guys.

[24:37] Joel: Thank you for your time today Jeff, have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day.

[24:41] Jeff: Thank you, you too.

[24:41] Pei: Thank you.

Connect with Jeff Goldberg on his Website and Twitter.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

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