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Selling Furniture & Mattresses – What Does Ox Baker Have To Do With Your Sales? Everything!

Do you ever remember a time when you looked like you couldn’t win? I recently spent time at my college homecoming and it reminded me of several principles of how to overcome adversity in life. I believe that there is a lesson we all can learn as professional salespeople.

We just celebrated our 30th year reunion of the BW 1982 Football Team. We had a great bunch of guys who loved to win. Our 4 year record was 36-6. We only lost twice in the regular season in 4 years! We were blessed to have some truly great athletes. We had our share of All Americans and All Conference players and some truly great coaches too. So what does this have to do with selling? Nothing yet. I want to tell you a story of promise, tragedy, determination, perseverance, and triumph. I hope you will agree by the end of this article that it has a lot to do with selling.

Tragedy- Ox Baker was full of promise. He was our best offensive lineman in our freshman year. It was a summer day between our freshman and sophomore year when I was told that Ox was in a horrible accident and that he might possibly never play again. His arm was shredded in an accident in a factory when it was caught in a machine. There was no skin left on his arm between his elbow and his fingers. He lost many of his ligaments. He lost one of the major nerves in his arm and to this day there are parts of his arm that have no feeling. He underwent five surgeries to repair his arm.

Perseverance- There isn’t a salesperson who has sold for very long that hasn’t suffered a set back or had to overcome an obstacle. Think back in your life when you had a serious challenge. To succeed one must decide first and foremost that they are not going to quit. Ox made up his mind that he loved this football team and he was going to be a part of it no matter what. Our coach did something very smart.  He told him that he wanted him to be part of the team while he was recovering from his injuries, so Ox helped Mrs. Tressel with the uniforms and helped our trainer with the laundry and was around the team for practices and games. He traveled with the team to all the away games.

He stayed involved and engaged. It was the best thing for him. I am convinced that he healed faster because he longed to be out on that field contributing. Sometimes we as salespeople have to walk before we run. A lot of the work we do isn’t glamorous but it is necessary. Ox had a lot of rehab to do that no one ever saw. He was the only person who really knew how much sweat, blood and tears he gave to rehab his arm. The same is true in sales. How do you prepare to win? No one except you really knows how much you are putting into it.

Triumph- If you are expecting that Ox magically returned to his starting position the next year you would be wrong. He did play the next year but he did not start. A lot of people would have quit but not him. The next year he received more playing time but still did not start even though by this time he certainly was good enough to. He could have quit and complained about the coaches, but he didn’t. He worked out harder and recommitted himself and yes the next year he started in all but one game due to a rib injury. Ox’s triumph was three years after what could have been a career ending injury for a normal guy. How long did it take you to succeed in selling? How many times did you want to quit? In my humble opinion it takes longer than three years to become a good salesperson. Ox has applied the lessons he learned in overcoming his injury and has gone on to achieve both personal and professional success. If you apply the same strategies that Ox did you will be successful too.

Action Step- Please share your success story with us! What kept you going when you wanted to quit? There is someone out there right now that needs to hear your words of encouragement!  Please post your comments and questions. I answer them all.

Please email me any ideas for articles that you want me to write. Have you written an article on sales, goal setting, or time management? I’ll be glad to publish them in my ezine and on my website! Please email them to me at

Wishing You Success,


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Comments (14)

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  1. Douglas says:

    Great article pete. Very inspirational!

  2. OX baker says:

    Thanks Pete! That was nice of you to recall some tough times in my life which actually defined me as a man. I’m actually in a sales role here at the Bank and I draw on this experience as regular motivation after a rough sales month. After 20 plus years in sales I would say its helped turned a problem into a blessing. OX!

    • Pete says:

      As I told you before Ox, You are one of my heros! When I was down I would think of what you went through and it made what I was going through look like no problem at all! I am proud of all my teammates and love them all but you have a special place in my heart!

  3. Gabe says:

    Well said Pete!
    I can still recall our friend Jeff (Ox) squeezing that tennis ball all the time in college. By his senior season, most of us had forgotten about his hand because he had worked so hard to overcome it, it became a non-issue. He was contributing to yet another championship season and playing at a high level.
    Therefore, no one is surprised that Jeff is a successful businessman, and more importantly, a great husband and father that is teaching his kids the same valuable lesson.

    • Pete says:

      Thanks Gabe! I have a confession. Our friend Tripp Braden helped me re-write this article. Actually the first paragraph was written by Tripp! Thank You Tripp!As well as a few sentences throughout the article. Gabe, I am so glad that you mentioned Ox as a great husband and father because that is so much more important than anything else we will ever do. The value of sports is it can teach as if we are willing to learn how to be a leader/father and a teammate/husband.

  4. Mark Rodriguez says:

    Thanks Pete, Ox is great guy – I got to catch up with him on Saturday.

    • Pete says:

      My pleasure Mark. After seeing Ox and talking to him, I was compelled to write an article about Ox’s challenges and triumph!

  5. Gio says:

    Great article Pete. The measure of a man is never when he is on top of the mountain looking down but when he has the perspective from the valley after attaining the view from the top. Many people will settle for the “Valley View” and will spend their life speaking to the past. The rare ones overcome to be the best. Jeff’s(Ox) story was a great example and he was a great teammate. His measure of overcoming adversity is monumental. I think when someone demonstrates perseverance it makes them unbeatable. They have the will to move past the setbacks and achieve their goals. We are a composite of all the experiences we live and we endore…Jeff will always be thought of as one of the strongest people I know, and I would be confident that any person like him would be successful at any endeavor in life. Best to all of you. It was great seeing everyone during homecoming weekend.

  6. Dave Rod says:


    Thanks for staying in the ‘game’. It is a true measure when you hit the wall of adversity and keep inching forward. I do remember feeling bad that you had this happen to you. But you got up dusted yourself off and succeeded. Great job! It was great to catch up with everyone! Good health and blessings to all! Thanks to Pete, Dino and Mark for putting in the effort to get the reunion together.

    • Pete says:

      Thanks Dave all your help in contacting our teammates. You were an integral part of the team that organized the reunion. I am sure Ox appreciates your comment! Be well!

  7. Laurie says:

    Great article… I truly believe that thru all of our life experiences – both good and bad – we learn valuable lessons… I know for me this has been so true… you never know where Gods will leads you…. My dad referenced the past few years financial situation – as “a correction period”… Looking back it hasn’t been such a bad thing… I have been much more commited to watching my pennies and being more focused on my day to day operations…. I look forward to waking up in the a.m. and knowing that I am blessed to own my business and am able to “make a difference” in someones life….

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