How I made a fortune (twice) hiring CRACK ADDICTS vs. MBA's
Written by Marx Acosta-Rubio 2019
OK… so my very first full time employee for sales was a “functioning” drug addict.
I say "functioning" because he would show up to work in what seemed to be a “functioning” state, but then we would find him asleep at his desk, and his computer screen will look like this…
And that would go on forever. Why? Because he would fall asleep while typing notes on the customers CRM screen, and then as he fell asleep, his finger would get stuck on a particular key.
I kid you not! Lol
He's the reason I went from working at home to opening an office. I couldn't stand having the guy work for me at my house.
His name was Chuck, and I have no idea what happened to Chuck.
My second full-time sales employee was a convicted felon (drugs) who had to take the bus to get to work.
My best performing sales employee, well he was a crack addict.
Literally, a crack addict!
Of course, I didn't know he was a crack addict at the time, but I soon found out. LOL
Now not all of my employees were drug addicts, or felons, but I had my share. In fact, they were the smart and capable ones, which should tell you a lot about the quality of employees which applied for jobs in my industry.
But this story has a very happy ending and a great point to it.
So let me share with you how a crack addict became a millionaire working for me, and how I capitalized on their desire to want to do better.
We were in our second office in California, I was already a millionaire at this time, but not a deca-millionaire. That came shortly thereafter, thanks to Eric.
Eric was my crack addict employee, who broke all the records in sales, and made himself a millionaire. Eric is also clean and sober now, and retired as a stay-at-home dad with several real estate holdings.
OK, so back to the story… I just wanted to give you the quick update, so you can see that it has a happy ending, so as I share with you what I'm going to share, you won't be so shocked and surprised. LOL
At this time I had already figured out how to sell, and how to somewhat train people with no experience to become superstar salespeople on the phone. And face-to-face.
What I had yet not figured out was how to actually hire people the right way.
At this time, I was still selling, and therefore, my day consisted primarily of selling and helping others sell well.
Basically, I was strictly a selling machine!
Anything outside of selling, that was administratively, or accounting, or even interviewing, I just saw is what I call NIPA (non-income producing activities). Therefore, I couldn't be bothered with any of it.
If it didn't make us money, I just had no desire to partake.
But we did have an ad running for salespeople, and I did have to do interviews, as much as I disliked to do them, because, it was the only way to hire new salespeople, besides, of course, referrals (which became the number one way of getting new sales people to work for us, until I figured out how to actually do it right. But that came later.)
I had scheduled an interview with this "Eric" guy for 10 AM on Monday morning.
10 AM because that's usually when I showed up to the office.
So lo and behold, when I got to the office, a little past 10 AM, I saw this person sitting in my office… Waiting for me.
I had forgotten I had an interview, so I looked around to the sales guys and gals and admin, with a perplexed look on my face, as if to say "who the heck is this?"
He turned me off immediately.
He was wearing a tie-dye shirt, sandals, shorts, and his peppered gray hair wasn't even combed.
When he spoke, you could see the buildup of the little white saliva on the corners of his mouth and he had a really bad habit of tasting his own saliva. I can't even explain it. All I can tell you is that it made a squishy clicking annoying sound.
I knew right away, there is no way I'm can hire this guy. Not even close!
So I went thru the formality, not to be rude, and then told him later that I would call him if I was interested. That had to "think about it."
But there was nothing to think about, I already knew, since before I even talked to him, he was never gonna get to work at my company.
So he left, thanked me for my time, and I went and got on the phones and began to sell and help my sales team sell.
Basically, it was just a regular day.
We all worked late, we had a good day, and I went home to be with my family to return the next day, to rinse and repeat.
Lo and behold, as I strutted in to the office again a little past 10 AM I noticed that there was Eric, sitting at a desk, on the phone, and what we call the "incubator".
The incubator is where we put new hires for at least 90 days, where we begin coaching and training them and teaching them until they figure out how to somewhat do the job, and then move them over to a regular desk.
As I walked past Eric, I thought to myself "what is this guy doing? How do I get rid of him?"
Truth is, I was rather annoyed at him for just showing up. I had not hired him! I HAD NOT HIRED HIM!!!
So I was already set to tear him a new page, so I called him into my office.
Me: "hey bud, I didn't hire you… I didn't call you… What are you doing here?"
Eric: "I know… (Clicking, squishing, tasting his own saliva – yuck!) So I figured I would just show up and start to work."
Me: (how do I deal with that?… What do I tell him? I don't want to be rude.) I understand, but… (I noticed that he was still wearing the same clothes he wore yesterday, which included open toe sandals… AHA!!! Gotcha) hey bud, I don’t want to be rude, or anything, (in negotiations we call this ‘a throw away’, which means I'm about to be rude…) But here in California we have something called OSHA, and it's illegal for me to have any employees with open toe sandals. So, I'm afraid that you can't work here."
Eric: "I see… (Clicking, squishing, tasting his own saliva – yuck!) You know… I didn't know that… But during lunch, I'll go change and be back in time."
Now I knew that he lived in Pasadena, which was at least a 45 minute drive, there's no way he will be able to make it back in less than one hour, so I figure, I would agree to that, and he'd be late, and I could fire him.
Now look… Don't judge me… I may have already been a millionaire, a great salesperson, but a great business owner, and leader, I had yet not become.
Me: "OK bud, but so long as you are back in less than an hour, if not, I'm going to have to let you go."
Eric: (Clicking, squishing, tasting his own saliva – yuck!) OK…"
And by now you know that he was able to pull it off, but what you don't know, is HOW he pulled it off.
So Eric leaves, and then comes back in less than one hour, but this time, his shirt is torn, he's got scratches on his arms, and he's bleeding from a hand. He's also got puncture wound on his leg, but he has socks covering his feet with the sandals.
He walks into the office, as if his appearance is normal, and nothing to be focused on.
But I'm a little concerned at this time, so I walk over to him, and asked him if he's OK. What happened? Are you OK? Can we get you any medical attention?
He looks up at me, pauses for what seemed to be a few minutes, and he says "no… I'm OK… Thank you." And gets back on the phone.
I leave him be, go back to my desk, and watch him cold call as if nothing had happened.
I can't stand it!
I have him come into my office, close the door, and I tell him he has to tell me what happened, and why he only has socks on and not shoes, otherwise, I'm not sure he can work for me.
Eric sits down, does that clicking squishing tasting his own saliva sound – yuck! - And proceeds to tell me the following story.
Eric: "I knew you would fire me if I was late. And I really want to work for you, and like this job. So I went to my friend’s house, Jonathan, and knocked on his door to see if I could borrow a pair of shoes. Jonathan wasn't home. So I jumped the fence and tried to open the back door. But I forgot he had a dog. Now I had not seen the dog, but I remember there was a doggy door by the kitchen. So I went in the doggy door, and scratched my arms as I squeezed in. The dog heard a commotion, and began to bite my leg and tug on my shirt. When I finally made it inside the house, I ran to Jonathan's room, and locked the door behind me to keep the dog out. As I tried on his shoes I realized his feet are smaller than mine. So I figured I could just borrow a pair of socks, and that would be OK with you. And with the dog inside the house, I left out his bedroom window, scratching myself up some more, in order to jump the gate again, get in my car, and come back here on time."
I was dumbfounded, I didn't know what to say, all I did was stare at him for a good two or three minutes.
Then I burst out laughing.
And I mean, a belly laugh, an uncontrollable loud, hilarious laugh that everyone in the office could hear even with my door closed.
This is when I knew that Eric was going make a great addition to the team.
Now it wasn't all rainbows and unicorns and sunshine.
I did not know that Eric was a crack addict, but I found out shortly thereafter, when his wife called me from the emergency room because Eric had fallen down a flight of stairs cracked his head open, and had bleeding inside his head.
I promised him I would hold his job for him.
He came back a week later, and explained to me that he went to buy some crack, smoked crack from his dealer, got into an altercation with the dealer, and the dealer pushed him down a flight of stairs.
As much as I appreciated Eric's candor, I had no idea how to respond to this.
Eric tried, in vain, to get clean and sober.
The stories are abound and hilarious as they are sad and frightening.
I finally intervened and helped Eric become sober.
Once he became sober, he channeled all of that creativity, and effort into becoming a great salesperson.
Eric broke the record by earning $52,000 in commission in one month back in 2004.
Eric then continued to make over a half-million dollars a year working for me, and as he parlayed his extra earnings into real estate, he built enough of asset base and residual income, that he could live off the resources of his own real estate.
So what about the MBA?
Well… two MBA’s who worked for me cost me tens of millions of dollars.
Now I don’t blame them (anymore), because I do take full responsibility. But when I look at my career, it is the ability to get average people to perform extraordinarily that served me well, not hiring MBA’s.