Dear Reader,

Not long after graduating from college, I took a job selling oceanfront condominiums in Florida.

I had never worked in sales before, but this seemed like a good place to start. The units were beautiful. And there was no prospecting involved. Instead, the developer brought the prospects onsite for us to tour.

At the end of my first month, our manager posted a ranking of all the associates by sales volume. To my utter mortification, I was dead last.

If I were going to keep my job, I knew I had to do something, and quick. But what? I looked at the top of the rankings and saw that the number one associate was an older gentleman named Don Traster.

With all the stealth of a rogue elephant, I'm sure, I began shadowing Don whenever he gave a tour, eavesdropping at every opportunity. And it didn't take long for me to realize why he was so damn good.

It wasn't that he had some incredible sales pitch. Nor was he the stereotypical smooth-talking salesman. Quite the opposite...

His real strength was that he had an almost preternatural calmness about him. Sure, he was an experienced salesman. But when Don Traster spoke, he used the kind of soft, quiet tone that a trusted doctor uses to discuss your test results with you. His whole demeanor put you at ease. His soft voice and direct, emotionless delivery not only eliminated any sales pressure whatsoever, it also conveyed enormous credibility.

The man's calmness put everyone under a spell. There was something magnetic about it. And, needless to say, his hapless sales prospects went down like Japanese zeros over Guadalcanal. (If you could afford an oceanfront condo and Don Traster was showing you the property, trust me, you were buying one.)

Don was far from unique. In 1902, James Allen published his classic book, "As a Man Thinketh." In it he revealed that, "The more tranquil a man becomes, the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find his business prosperity increase as he develops a greater self-control and equanimity, for people will always prefer to deal with a man whose demeanor is strongly equable."

Easier said than done, of course, in our hectic, deadline-oriented world. How do you remain calm in a non-stop whirlwind of quotas, meetings, appointments, e-mails, cell phones and pagers? According to Allen, it starts by changing your thoughts:

"Nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world... A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts."

Some folks will argue, of course, that their stressful thoughts are merely the result of personal circumstances. That's not necessarily true, however. We all have a tendency to spin a narrative around whatever is happening to us.

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it," writes Eckhart Tolle, author of "A New Earth."

"Instead of making up stories," Tolle writes, "stay with the facts. For example, 'I am ruined' is a story. It limits you and prevents you from taking effective action. 'I have fifty cents left in my bank account' is a fact. Facing facts is always empowering. Be aware that what you think, to a large extent, creates the emotions you feel."

And those emotions, in turn, will create feelings of either anxiety or serenity. Don Traster's calmness, for example, wasn't feigned. His ordinary demeanor was a combination of alertness and complete unflappability. And those qualities have a powerful allure both inside the business world and beyond.

"That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture," writes Allen. "It is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold... How insignificant mere money-making looks in comparison with a serene life."

None of us want to feel harried or stressed out, of course. But the paradox is that tranquility is not only desirable for its own sake, but subtly attracts the very opportunities the stressed-out majority are out chasing.

So slow down. And remember the words of psychologist William James, "The great discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.

Carpe Diem,


Author's Bio: 

Alexander Green has just launched Spiritual Wealth (

What is “Spiritual Wealth,” exactly?
According to Alex:
"Anything that can be measured in dollars and cents, I call material wealth. Everything else – the love of our families, the health we enjoy, the time we spend doing things we enjoy or working on things that really matter – I call spiritual wealth."

Alex is also the Chairman of Investment U, where his actionable investment ideas are published three times a week. He’s the Investment Director of The Oxford Club, as well, where he’s beaten the S&P 500 nearly 5-to-1 over the last five years.