LEADING QUESTIONS: Sales training guru takes own advice

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Leading Questions

Welcome to the latest installment of “Leading Questions: Wisdom from the Corner Office,” in which IBJ sits down with central Indiana’s top bosses to talk shop about the latest developments in their industries and the habits that lead to success.

Sales training guru Paul Lushin, 52, has long counseled business owners that there comes a time when executives can stand in the way of progress and need to let the next generation of leaders take a firm to the next level. Now he’s following his own advice, allowing employees of Lushin and Associates Inc. to take a greater role in generating business while he explores spending more of his time in community service.

“I think I’ve been socially lazy,” said Lushin, founder and president of the 14-year-old firm. “I think there is so much more that I can give to this community. I think there is board service that I could provide, to help different agencies. But I need to get more active and involved and not always be thinking about networking, or the next biggest deal.”

Lushin already has logged significant time in civil service. The Kokomo native was a police officer from 1981 to 1988, the final two years spent with the Indianapolis Police Department. In the video at top, Lushin explains how his career in law enforcement helped pave the way for his subsequent move into sales.

One of the lessons learned was humility. Lushin was fired from the force in 1988 (although it ultimately was noted in his official record as a resignation) after conspiring to file an accident report with false information, he said. A fellow police officer had accidently backed Lushin’s personal car into a building, and Lushin led another officer to report the damage as vandalism in order to avoid higher insurance premiums and protect his friend’s driving record.

“It was a good awakening,” he said. “I think it was best character-building experience that I had. It was one that really caused me to reflect, ‘What kind of man are you?’

“The humility of it all was very good for me. I had no income. I had three kids. We lived in a house that we were rehabbing downtown, and it had no heat, no running water.”

After about four months, Lushin landed a sales position as territory sales manager for Fortune 500 firm Ecolab, which provides cleaning, sanitizing, food safety and infection control products and services. Showing how police work had a strong sales component–for example, avoiding a potential altercation by convincing a suspect to accept handcuffs–helped convince Ecolab to give him a shot, he said.

He soon was promoted to district manager, overseeing 19 people. When another promotion required him to travel four or five days per week, thus limiting the amount of time he could spend with his family, he decided to strike out on his own.

Lushin founded Lushin & Associates in 1997. Over the course of several years, it evolved into its current identity as a firm that helps clients improve their top-line revenue through customer service, sales training, sales management training and executive coaching. The 10-employee company expects $2 million in revenue for 2011, Lushin said.

In the video below, Lushin reveals the kinds of common mistakes that even good managers make. Such flubs include failing to trust employees to take on more responsibility and succeed on their own.

“Products have a life cycle, and so do you as a manager,” he said. “Let new creative minds emerge and blossom. If you constantly suppress them, you’re suppressing your own future. You’re suppressing your own fortune.”



  • skills for a lifetime
    Paul was my coach for about 2 years when I was directly out of college. Through those 2 years, I gained knowledge and understanding in the art of communication beyond anything I could imagine. 5 years later, all of my thanks go to Paul and Lushin and Associates for providing me with skills that have set me apart from the rest of the business world. Thank you.
  • Worth the money
    Our 50+ person company has been working with Paul for almost 2 years and I can easily say it has fundamentally changed our business. You either like Paul or you don't but if you can put your able to check your ego at the door you'll find Paul to be a fantastic teacher, trainer, mentor & coach. We find him to be 100% genuine and truly has our best interest in mind. He's not afraid to "tell it like it is" -- which, sadly, is becoming more and more rare in today's politically correct world.
  • A good guy
    While attending Paul's classes I realized that the company I was working for was not a good fit for me. I told Paul I was going to leave my job, and he helped to introduce me to my current employer. He's a nice guy and he's not all about money. He does want to help people.
  • Much more than a sales coach
    Paul, has been my coach for about 6 months now. He is business minded when necessary and always genuine. He has an uncanny ability to find the behaviors one may have that keeps them from being more successful, and helps you deal with them. Sometimes it's tough love, but we all need some of that in our lives. If you knew Paul then you would know that he is not a "all about me" person.
  • Annoying and difficult
    Antagonistic radio message convinced me that "Looooo Shin" is a legend in his own mind. I'd write more, but then I'd have to bill the IBJ for my 'expensive and difficult' opinion!
  • Watch him
    Paul is all about Paul. Mr community is all about going to the bank. Seen it first hand. Grinds through people quickly and ruthlessly.
  • annoying
    His commercials on WIBC are so annoying, it's his pushy-sounding voice.

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  1. By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.

  2. Merchants Square is back. The small strip center to the south of 116th is 100% leased, McAlister’s is doing well in the outlot building. The former O’Charleys is leased but is going through permitting with the State and the town of Carmel. Mac Grill is closing all of their Indy locations (not just Merchants) and this will allow for a new restaurant concept to backfill both of their locations. As for the north side of 116th a new dinner movie theater and brewery is under construction to fill most of the vacancy left by Hobby Lobby and Old Navy.

  3. Yes it does have an ethics commission which enforce the law which prohibits 12 specific items. google it

  4. Thanks for reading and replying. If you want to see the differentiation for research, speaking and consulting, check out the spreadsheet I linked to at the bottom of the post; it is broken out exactly that way. I can only include so much detail in a blog post before it becomes something other than a blog post.

  5. 1. There is no allegation of corruption, Marty, to imply otherwise if false. 2. Is the "State Rule" a law? I suspect not. 3. Is Mr. Woodruff obligated via an employment agreement (contractual obligation) to not work with the engineering firm? 4. In many states a right to earn a living will trump non-competes and other contractual obligations, does Mr. Woodruff's personal right to earn a living trump any contractual obligations that might or might not be out there. 5. Lawyers in state government routinely go work for law firms they were formally working with in their regulatory actions. You can see a steady stream to firms like B&D from state government. It would be interesting for IBJ to do a review of current lawyers and find out how their past decisions affected the law firms clients. Since there is a buffer between regulated company and the regulator working for a law firm technically is not in violation of ethics but you have to wonder if decisions were made in favor of certain firms and quid pro quo jobs resulted. Start with the DOI in this review. Very interesting.