INTERVIEW WITH SOLOMON HICKS

Solomon Hicks - 66 years of age, an African American who was born in the Deep South of the US when Segregation was at its height (the meaning of "Segregation" will be explained later), Motivational Speaker, former Prudential Insurance Salesman Extraordinaire, founder and CEO of Solomon Hicks Financial, Inc. - a man who will, without fail, cause one to be amazed at his unquantifiable depth of conviction that we are all DESIGNED to succeed. The sheer energy with which he encourages others is unmistakable. It is not about doing the 'lecture circuit' - he is more than comfortably well-off - but rather it is the uniqueness of an unparalleled desire to help others discover and use their own individual methods and strengths to be successful. He does not believe in getting people to copy-cat him, but what he unselfishly seeks to do at every workshop/seminar conducted by him is to be the instrument whereby his level of achievement can be replicated in others. He is a personal one-to-one mentor to hundreds of people all over the world, the great majority of who were once abject failures but are now enjoying highly successful careers in the Insurance Industry. More than 80% of them are Top Producers and have graduated to the Million Dollar Round Table.

He neither theorizes nor uses the examples of other successful individuals (past or present). What he does do is * inject a hefty dose of credibility into his workshops/seminars, by drawing upon the vast storehouse of his personal experiences, gained over a span of * four decades that led him to success at the highest level in the Insurance Industry in the US. He is among the top 1/l6th of 1% of Agents! And all it took was an unswerving commitment to follow the dictates of being a person of integrity. He stresses AND lives by the principle that in the Insurance business, "commitment is the first battle to overcome and it becomes the ground upon which all other battles will be fought."

Success was not handed over to him on a golden planer. He had to work harder than most because he was a "Coloured" American with the added disadvantage of being born and living in the "deep South" where Segregation was religiously practiced. For those who are unfamiliar with the term "Segregation" it refers to the past practice in the Southern States in the US where ALL non-whites, and especially African Americans, were treated as inferior beings and considered totally unfit to freely mingle with, study alongside, eat in the same restaurants, use any seat in public transport, live in the same locality, etc., as "whites." Any non-white who contravened this was mercilessly eliminated with no questions asked. At school, an "O" level student in a Coloureds-only school would be taught at Sec 1 level using outdated second-hand books from Whites-only schools. Most of them were told to expect to become nothing more than farm workers as grownups. Discouragement and repression was the order of the day for them.

To a present-day person in this region Segregation would seem so unreal and cruel, but it was very much the accepted practice until it was dismantled by US Federal Law in the 19605. However, Solomon Hicks broke out of the mould before then because he believed and knew deep within his inner being that he was born for greater things: he was, like all other human beings, designed to succeed.

To quote from one of his books, "There is order in all of nature. We were not created haphazardly. 1 happen to believe that an (omniscient), (omnipresent), sovereign God made us all with a purpose and an idea in mind. I would stake my life on it. I have in fact. You may believe that. You may not. It doesn't matter. Even science tells us that every living thing is alive because it has found a way to succeed in this world. They say there is an undeniable order in nature that if something is living, it should be succeeding. The fact that we are humans means we have a choice about howwe succeed." The secret life of a #1 Salesman

In a recent interview, his unswerving belief in and practice of COMMITMENT was evident and it is still the cornerstone of his life. He is a committed practicing Christian and he makes no effort to mask this. But he does not at all force his belief on his mentees or seminar participants.

In his autobiography "Wise Guys Finish First" he writes: "The goal...is not for you to know my story, but to use my story to uncover your own." * In today's dog-eat-dog environment this is a refreshingly uplifting premise.

Solomon Hicks started on his first "real" job at age nine. It was at a local 24-hour restaurant/truck stop called "Drive 'Round It" where he washed dishes, pumped gasoline and waited on drive-up customers on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9pm to 6am for all of US$2 per night and all of which he gave to his mother, brother and sisters. From that early age he was moved to unselfishly give money to his family. And to honour him and continue the training process, without any words spoken, his mother accepted and used the money. After an exhausting weekend work schedule which ended at 6am on Monday, he would grab a short nap, change clothes and go to school, and the whole process would repeat from Friday evening!

Always curious and thirsty for knowledge from an early age, he preferred the company of older people, including his mother and grandmother, who also taught him to cook. However, his curiosity and thirst for knowledge did not end at accumulating information but rather extrapolating it to use it in a way that would make him as successful as those people he most admired: his mother, Ms Solita Hortman (a white lady who opened a restaurant in the same town later and eventually employed him there) and Dr. Thomas Vivian McCoo a black medical doctor (who could only eat in a corner of the kitchen out of public view, with a wooden crate serving as a  'dining table' though paying the same as a white customer). Success to Solomon did not equate in terms of wealth or possessions, because he observed that the people he most admired were living "right"; so too he pursued living right. And living right entailed making good decisions because those are the decisions which allow you the freedom to be good and to do good for others.

Years later, in adulthood, he found that Wisdom is in effect the willingness to make choices that give you the freedom to be good and to do good for others. Sol Hicks, Wise Guys Finish First.

During his work tenure at the "Drive 'Round It" restaurant where the cook on his shift was an alcoholic, his young mind analyzed that there will be a day when the cook would be absent due to having 'one drink too many', and when it did happen, he became the shift-cook at a princely salary of $3 per day! He worked hard at turning out good, delicious food with a genuine smile on his face and this drew the attention of his next mentor Ms Solita Hortman when she patronized the "Drive 'Round It" in order to pick up tips in managing the restaurant she wanted to open! So, in one fell swoop, because of his commitment to be the best, he moved to USD $20 per week at The Town House Restaurant!

After a few years of growing up and maturing emotionally under the mentorship of the three most important people in his life, he moved to Kansas to live with his father who had remarried. While on a short visit to his grandmother in Chicago, Sol was informed by his stepmother that he was not welcome in her home any longer. In Chicago he found a day job as a teller in a bank. He would meet his wife of 46 years in that city. In order to fulfil his promise to his mother-in-law to buy her daughter a home within 6 months he took on a night job as a labourer with Johnson & Johnson. It was a rough job where he was required to pound rosin into powder using a sledgehammer, and then putting the powdered rosin in a mixer with other chemicals to turn out band-aids. The house was bought within 3 months instead of 6! He had kept his word and even out-performed. After a while it was decided that he stop the night job in order to attend college on the promise that he would be given a promotion and a raise at the bank. He was devastated when, after a few months, the bank employed another person to take up the position he was promised and he quit then and there.

Unemployed and frustrated he found himself working for one of the bank clients selling real estate on a commission basis. He never got paid any of the $18,000 of commissions due to him and which was stolen by the person who employed him. Eventually he got a job at Prudential under a Manager and even though he was nearly fired, he eventually became Rookie of the Year.

He did not become the top salesman at Prudential WORLDWIDE by wishful thinking or by any contrivance. He worked at it and saw a prospect in every person he may meet on the way to an appointment. At 66 years of age, he has been the top producer (1/l6th of 1%) for the past nine years. This achievement is yet to be bettered. Among the people he had mentored is a gentleman he mentored for 9 years who today is also among the top 1/l6th of 1%. At one time people even discouraged him from mentoring others and more especially abject failures. But Sol holds fast to the principle that "Making room in your life to teach someone will only make you boner at what you do. A candle loses nothing when it lights another candle. In fact there is twice as much light." Sol Hicks - The Secret Life of a #1 Salesman

Though as a mentor he only spends 20% of the time on his own business he is still at the top with the added bonus of having company now!

It was never smooth sailing in selling his way to the top. There were many instances of dejection, rank discouragement (when he was told that he was too old to get to the top, so retiring was a wiser option) and many other obstacles that would have derailed him. Sol however learned that every human being was created to succeed, because failure was and still is not an option for our Creator. Failure, on the other hand, is wholly the result of an individual's choice to quit. He teaches that nothing can disqualify anyone from success. Success is waiting for every one of us as long as we are willing to be moulded by our particular circumstances. "...success is not something you ever have to chase; it's something you only need to learn to expect and accept." Sol Hicks - Wise Guys Finish First.

At the very core of everything he believes in is the assumption that God does not plan for failure, because it is not part of His divine nature to fail; failure is impossible for God or He would not be God. Those of us who fail do so because of our inability to grasp hold of this truth.

During the brief 60-minute interview with Sol, he made one point very plain; he was put on this earth to help others to succeed at the highest levels and simultaneously instil in them that they too, must in turn, teach and freely impart their knowledge and skills to others. It is impossible for any Seminar or Workshop participant who learns from him not to succeed, because he teaches from his own life, experiences, discoveries and downsides. It is this total selflessness that sets him apart from others who seek to promote their products at seminars/workshops. The only product that he promotes is his life as a Salesman who got to the TOP.

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