Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

August 26, 2014

3 Valuable Lessons I Learned From Top Sales World Going Bad.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you see people doing bad things and appearing to be successful in spite of their poor behavior. You should never forget that time has a wonderful way of putting things back in their right place. People who do bad things get what is coming to them — and your continued focus and hard work will yield you the results that you want for yourself.

I was reminded of these lessons with my recent falling out with Top Sales World, led my Jonathan Farrington.

Here’s the story of a good guy gone bad.

I’ve been a part of Jonathan Farrington’s Top Sales World  organization for what seems like a half dozen years. He invited me to join — and I donated a few hundred dollars to his cause. He was an underdog with a grand idea — be a “shining light” for the sales community.

Over the last few years I’ve been a part of contributing hundreds of articles and other content that I’ve created over the years. I was never paid for my content — and I was okay with that because I bought into Mr. Farrington’s belief that Top Sales World could help people create better lives for themselves.

In the last two years, a few of my close friends and mentors left the group. Most of them didn’t make a big deal, but they just observed that “everything wasn’t as it seemed”. I figured that out for myself at the beginning of this year.

Sometimes you realize what you were fighting for isn’t real.

When I launched EDGY Conversations in April, I asked 100 of my favorite business influencers to help share the news about our launch. They were all wonderfully kind — recording podcasts and writing blog articles and sharing the news of our best selling book on social media. They helped me sell 20,000 copies of the book in a few weeks — which was amazing.

The only one who wasn’t willing to help was Mr. Farrington. He told me that if I wanted the support of the community that I helped to build and promote — now almost 200,000 members strong — that I would have to pay him. I was shocked to my core.

After investing hundreds of hours in his underdog success — without ever asking for money or promotion, his attitude towards helping me out was appallingly cold water. As a matter of principle, I refused to pay him anything.

Maybe I should have spoken up sooner.

Instead of causing a scene, I just decided to gently ease my way out the door — not let other people drag my attitude down. Up until today you have not heard me gripe or complain about Mr. Farrington’s selfish behavior. That was between him and I.

Last week I learned that the Vice President of Content for Top Sales World wasn’t being paid for work done over several months. Imagine if you went into work and your boss told you that the money you’re owed for working yesterday and last week — and over the last 3 months — won’t be coming to you and that your only remedy is to “sue me.”

Again, I was shocked when I heard the news. And then I felt guilty for not speaking up months ago when I first experienced problems of my own. The organization labeling itself as the “shining light of the sales profession” is majorly screwed up. Perhaps now in legal jeopardy.

I have no axe to grind with Mr. Farrington.

Anyone trying to change the world for the better has my vote.  I’ll put my money and time behind it almost every time — like I did with Top Sales World. Sadly, Mr. Farrington has steered his organization onto the rocks, and I can no longer with good conscience be a part of it.

More personally, here are a few valuable lessons I learned in this process. Chances are, you are going through something like this right now too. If not, these lessons will be helpful down the road when you run into a problem like this of your own.

  1. Asking hard questions up front can save you from disappointment later. — The idea of using other people’s content to build a community isn’t new. The Huffington Post did it successfully a few years ago when they sold to the new AOL. I didn’t challenge Mr. Farrington’s ideas at first. I bought into it. Why not change the world for the better? Had I dug a little deeper and asked hard questions, I would have learned that Top Sales World is really a retirement plan for Mr. Farrington — use other people to build a community and then sell that community to a willing buyer. By the way, there is nothing wrong with that plan. Capitalism is awesome. My problem was willful ignorance. Had I uncovered Mr. Farrington’s monetization strategy earlier, I would have been less bought into the “change the world” rhetoric. I failed to act with eyes wide open.
  2. Apologies and appreciation are more than words. It’s a lifestyle. — We all want to feel like we’re more than a piece of red meat for someone else to get their way. So many of the problems in the past with Top Sales World between Mr. Farrington and willing promoters — like myself — could have been easily resolved with a simple apology or heartfelt appreciation. I can’t rightfully judge Mr. Farrington’s intentions or motivations, but I can tell you how his actions made me feel — which is something you don’t easily forget. Many times when I voiced my concerns about the direction or positioning of part of Top Sales World, I was smacked down. Perhaps Mr. Farrington isn’t aware of his emotionally unintelligent style. My challenge is make sure our clients and community never feel that way. I hope you’ll call me out like this if I lose my way.
  3. A bad business plan might turn you into a bad person. — If you don’t have a plan to do the right thing it’s likely you’ll find yourself in a world of gray that has you crossing the line into doing bad things. By the way, a bad business plan doesn’t just hurt you — it impacts your employees and contractors. In this case, Mr. Farrington seems to be doing bad things — which is hard to reconcile with my perceptions of the gentleman who originally invited me to help him make a difference with Top Sales World. I’ve seen it before though. Money get tight and instead of having hard conversations, leaders decide to point the finger and blame everyone else.  It’s a reminder to me that the decisions I make have consequences months from now.  The employees and vendors we choose might bring out the worst in me. It’s something to remember.

Ever find yourself in a position like me?

Frustrated and confused and angry about people doing bad things and seeming to get away with it?

The truth about success for any of us is that our results are what we make them. It doesn’t really matter what other people do to us — or around us. Each of our response to frustration is ultimately what defines the level of greatness you achieve.

I suggest you tell yourself what I whispered in my own ear: “Stand up. Move on. Go be awesome.”

Learn something that will change the rest of your life.


Update: The monies not paid to the Vice President of Content were not paid over three months and not an entire three month’s worth of payments.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.