It’s impossible to dislike Mark Matteson. He’s one of the most genuinely and relentlessly upbeat people in the world. He makes people want to be around him.
A quick story illustrates Mark’s nature. He was asked to keynote an international conference on commodity building material in Istanbul, Turkey. The conference asked him to recommend another speaker who could address commodity branding. Mark recommended me, so I went to Istanbul with him.
We were paired off with the other Americans by the conference host and given guided tours of the ancient city. Mark, who is nearly 6’8” tall, was wearing a scarf and British flap cap, looked like something out of Hollywood. It should be hard to lose a guy that big, but he was constantly getting separated from the group. I’d go looking for him and find him in the middle of a group of school children, posing for pictures (they really thought he was from Hollywood). Or, he would be making friends with some guying knitting caps. Or, he would be taking someone’s picture with their camera.
One of our stops was the Topkapi Palace, home for the sultans of the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years. The museum inside the Topkapi Palace contained ancient relics like the sword of King David (i.e., the same David who slew Goliath), the staff of Moses that he turned into a snake, the withered arm of John the Baptist, and so on.
I didn’t find any of the relics particularly believable, but found them all morbidly fascinating. At one point I noticed Mark was sitting on the floor against a wall. The relics had no interest to him. They were “stuff.” Mark is all about people.
As a consultant, Mark is all about people. He’s a coach. He’s coached basketball since he was 16. Helping kids dribble and shoot was really his first consulting job.
From Refrigeration Tech to Bestselling Author
Like many of us, Mark almost stumbled into the industry. He learned refrigeration service in the Air Force and went to work as a technician after he returned to civilian life. He began selling commercial service agreements and became so good at it, he was asked to give a talk to other technicians and salespeople. This was like coaching, which he loved and where he excelled. One talk led to another and another. Mark became a motivational speaker.
Innately curious about others, Mark is a master at getting people to talk about their favorite subject, which is themselves. Listening, a key skill for any sales professional, was one of the big reasons Mark was effective in sales. Customers would tell him what it would take for them to buy and Mark simply gave them what they wanted.
As a speaker, Mark listened to other speakers and other successful people. He studied success and leadership. He’s also one of the most voracious readers I know. Everything he learned came together in his first book, Freedom From Fear, which sold over 150,000 copies in multiple languages. A number of other books and e-books have followed.
While Mark is a bestselling writer and accomplished and popular speaker, keynoting events around the world, he still consults inside and outside of the HVAC industry. As a consultant, the same skills apply.
Mark described his consulting approach to me saying, “I generally invest time on site surveying employees, coaching the leaders, providing tailored workshops and all day seminars in a variety of disciplines: customer service, sales, team building, management and leadership, personal development and soft skills transfer. Every engagement is different. I worked with one client for eight years (they went from $1.8 million per year to $12 million at an 18% net profit). Most of the time it’s a couple of times a year with coaching in between.”
Mark finds that the biggest problems he observes with contractors is a lack of “self-esteem and confidence.”
“It’s believing in themselves, the value they offer and the confidence to ask for what they are worth. Everything else stems from that. You can’t ask for more money if you don’t believe you are worth it. You can borrow more money, you can’t borrow self-esteem.”
He helped one client reduce employee turnover from 200% to 20% within 12 months. He said, “I taught their managers to start to really LISTEN to the people they were serving and to say, ‘Thank You’ and, ‘Great Job, I am so glad you are here’ to their associates. We created an acknowledgment program (The MY HERO award) which amounted to written praise using simple forms.”
Mark laughs, “My wife said, ‘You get paid for this?’”
It’s not as easy as Mark makes it sound. If it was easy, his client wouldn’t need to bring him into help. When called, Mark gets results.
Mark Campbell, from RES in Warrington, VA, told Mark, “Having you come in and work with our company was nothing I expected and everything I needed. We can’t wait for your next visit.”
David Indursky at Encon Mechanical in Ocean, NJ, said Mark, “helped us turn our company around. The last five years have been amazing.”
Mark serves companies ranging from a couple of million to a couple of billion in sales. He says his sweet spot is the $5-10 million range. He says, “I am fond of the $5 million company that wants to go to $10 million. A service company that really wants to grow their people and the leader who is willing to change and lead that charge.”
Make Lifelong Learning Part of Your Life
I asked him how he would improve the industry. Mark replied, “Get contractors to read books, keep a journal and commit to making a lifelong learning a part of their lives! My books are on audio for the husbands, not the wives — they read! The very best contractors in this country, and many of them are clients, invest in training their employees 25-40 hours a year in a variety of disciplines. It’s ongoing and never ending. Books, seminars, workshops, coaching, journaling, never stop learning. It’s how I went from changing filters to speaking around the world.”
On the subject of industry resources, Mark adds, “I introduce clients to my friends, other speakers, organizations like Service Roundtable, books, audio programs, etc. I also introduce one contractor to another from my database of clients in a very tailored and personal way. Some of my peers and contractors clients have written books and began speaking at my urging. That has been very rewarding for me.”
He still sounds like a coach to me. I would add another resource, which is Mark’s excellent ezine available at this SparkingSuccess website.
Beyond the Trade
Coaching is something Mark has passed on to his kids. His sons all played college basketball. The youngest plays professionally, overseas. After a professional career, the oldest is now a coach.
Mark still enjoys a good pick-up game and works hard to stay in shape so he can. He notes, “I recently lost fifty pounds and ten inches off my waist. At 56 years young, I am in the best shape of my life. I don’t say this to brag, but to inspire. IF I CAN, SO CAN YOU FELLAS!! My next book will be about wellness, ‘Freedom from FAT!’”
Get a free copy of Freedom From Fear. Join the Service Roundtable at our regular, affordable price of $50 per month and ask for a copy of Freedom From Fear from our Success Team. Call 877.262.3341 and say you want to join the Service Roundtable and get a free copy of Freedom From Fear.