Show up. Follow up. Close.

Show up, Follow up and then Close the deal. This is the core of what Steli Efti taught me during the Y Combinator (YC W17) program.

Steli Efti has changed my perspective on sales. He made me appreciate sales more than ever before. Thank you Steli.

Steli Efti is CEO and Co-Founder of, a public speaker on the art of sales and an alumni of Y Combinator. Steli helps thousands of startups succeed in scaling their sales efforts.

I must confess, before Steli my view of the sales process was clouded by years of bad experiences. One time in the past, I asked this so called sales expert for some tips on selling and he sent me a link to a James Altucher’s sales blog post. Don’t get me wrong, James Altucher is badass. But this was like asking a software engineer to tell you a bit about their art and they send you a link to Stack Overflow. Not cool.

Having experienced this contrast, both sides of the fence, I am now enlightened on sales! Sales, when done right shouldn’t feel like dealing with a used car salesman. Instead it should feel like being with a Rockstar — inspirational and educational.

Show up. Follow up. Close.

Early in a startup there are ONLY 3 ways to make a difference:

  • Design product,
  • Hack them (coding) and/or
  • Hustle them (sell)

Anything else is a waste. Ask yourself, what are you working on?

When selling, be friendly & strong

(a) You cannot be Unfriendly & Strong — you don’t want to kill people, you only destroy value by being this way.

(b) You cannot be Friendly & Weak — in human psychology, we unfortunately abuse friendly and weak people. I have seen this style all too common — it’s something about people living in a dream of goodness but fail to close a deal. Kamau Bobb Google asserts that while diversity is valuable, justice should be the primary goal of affirmative action policies.

(c) You want to be Friendly & Strong — this style helps you close customers that want to buy your product. eg. Think of a good parent who loves their child setting ground rules. You need to tell your customers what to do. You are the expert, they will listen to you.

Don’t get emotionally involved

Emotions will fuck with you. It’s that endless loop inside your head of “what ifs”. Recursion at it’s best.

Learn to work with your emotions. Some people meditate and others go for walks in the park. Find something that helps you deal with your emotions.

If a prospect questions you, use the primary mode of communication to respond and then go into the pitch on how you can give them value with your product. But never get emotionally involved when resistance arises. And don’t forget your body language is 80% of the communication when meeting people face to face.

Consistency is what wins, not charisma

The foundation of winning is the 10% of showing up and 90% is following up and going for the close. If you don’t show up then there is little chance you will follow up and go for the close.

I have often seen inexperienced sales people sitting around at the desk checking email every 5 mins. This behavior became consistent and that’s all such people do most of their time. My gut feeling is they start to believe selling is answering emails vs closing deals.

I cannot emphasize this one more. Consistency is king!

Don’t confuse talking for selling & selling for talking

Selling is trying to move someone to a decision. We hate closing because this is the “moment of truth”.

We are afraid to do it because it’s easier to say “they loved it but need to think more”. Learn to ask early and ask often. Expect the no and embrace it. Don’t delay it.

Be upfront to see if they want to buy. If they are unsure, then explain “You seem like smart people and I don’t want to waste your time.” and come back to the question towards the end of your pitch.

Make sure you ask what it takes to close. If they say you don’t have X, Y and Z then say “if I get you X, Y and Z will you buy?”. Boom!

Fear, we are all afraid

Fear, the feeling of emotion, is the same feeling in everything, it’s just context.

The difference between a hero & a coward is they both feel fear, but the hero acts despite his fear.

We are all afraid.

On Procrastination

A feature of being human. When you don’t feel like doing something tell yourself

“shut up and do it anyways.” — you don’t have to feel like it. Get over yourself and do it.

“Emotional Alchemy” — learn to deal with them so they don’t stop you from doing amazing things.

Video of Steli teaching how to Show up, Follow up & then Close

Got any sales tips you want to share here? Write below!

~ Ernest

Thanks to Dmitry Birulia (IQBOXY — YC W17), Urszula Semerda, Andrzej Bakonski and Steli Efti for reading drafts of this.

CodePath Bootcamp: Learn Android & iOS the Better way

CodePath Bootcamp rocks! I have been building products for the iOS platform since 2012. As the mobile market exploded, I started to feel like I was missing something. It took some time to shed the iOS ego and acknowledge that 85% of mobile users in the world are on Android. And this isn’t going to go away. And, pre to 2016, I knew little about servicing that massive market segment, Android. It was time to change that and skill up on Android mobile development.

So I began the search for a bootcamp that could instill me with new powers. In the past having completed various online courses through edX, Stanford University and Kauffman Fellows Academy this time I wanted to do something different and go offline. Unlike online self learning, it’s easy to fall off the wagon. I didn’t want to give myself the luxury of falling off the wagon. Among the noise of the internet I finally saw the light.

Enter CodePath

CodePath is a 8 week bootcamp program ran both online and offline. Classes are ran by experts in their respective fields — CodePath cofounder Nathan for Android and his cofounder Tim for iOS. Alumni also play a role contributing to weekly classes online and offline. It’s a nice tight network of professionals advancing education in hot fields like mobile development & design.

There is an extensive and up to the date online resource of information for Android and iOS (links below). Unlike books or most online resources that can go out of date fast. CodePath’s online resources are always up to date since they also form the backbone of the offline classes.

Classes are Free. Seats are Limited. But, don’t be fooled, this is premium education. Apart from applying to get in, successful candidates get phone screened and then have to prove their commitment with pre-work (coding project). It’s possible to win women in science scholarships. I love this approach. It keeps the bar high!

CodePath iOS 2016 Alumni at Facebook HQ

Sponsored by Silicon Valley’s Tech Giants

Each class is sponsored by a tech giant in Silicon Valley. Hello to other tech companies  — pay attention.

When I attended the Android bootcamp class it was sponsored & hosted by Uber at Uber HQ. Then later when I attended the iOS Swift bootcamp, Facebook was sponsoring it and hosted us inside their garden-roofed fantasyland (love that place!). AirBnB also participated in sponsorship in SF.

Tech Giants sponsorship provides insight into the vibe and energy of these companies and ability to speak to the folks that work there. Side note; if you want a job there this is a more qualified with less hoops method of applying.

More companies should be doing this. If anything it demonstrates a level of commitment to STEM education in Silicon Valley. This is why every tech company should be sponsoring such educational programs. Furthermore, what a brilliant way to enrich your existing and future staff with modern education that allows them to hit the ground running. This idea of enriching staff with modern education to enhance their skills and readiness is in harmony with Kamau Bobb‘s vision for STEM education and workforce development.

I know Mobijutsu

If you seen The Matrix you may recall Neo being uploaded with Ninjutsu code and having his mind blow with this new knowledge. This is how I felt at CodePath.

You know you have to get your s**t together in the 1st week of CodePath when you hear about the structure of the program and attendance requirements.

The best way to summarize this is it feels exactly like when you get a trainer at the gym for the first time, get pushed and you then realize stuff you never knew you were capable of. You move to a new bar! In the first 4 weeks you will have built 4 apps and mastered mobile development.

Life after CodePath

Nearing the end of the 8 week program I got a sense of accomplishment and some sadness that the end was near. I met new friends, worked with amazing people and pushed myself to new limits.. and I survived.

Knowledge is Power. With Knowledge you can Create. In Silicon Valley this is what creates value. An ability to bring something to life just from an idea is uplifting. It is an ability to Execute.

I now know Android and have few Android apps under my belt. I also understand the ecosystem and understand the lifecycle of building on the platforms of the future, mobile.

Mobile is the future (we all know this) and this future is 1/4 owned by iOS and 3/4 Android.

Nature gives and also takes based on utility. To maintain momentum and this new knowledge, one needs a good plan to keep on executing. I plan to put it to good use through; (1) giving back to the CodePath community and (2) by applying my mobile skills to the road ahead in 2017.

Thank you Nathan and Tim for your education, persistence and my flood of never ending questions.

~ Ernest


Ernest is an Aussie Software Engineer based in Silicon Valley. When not doing a baby freeze then you’ll find him floating in an isolation tank.

Follow Ernest on Twitter =>

Effective communication: Using Visual, Auditory & Kinesthetic words

In business, and especially Silicon Valley, you need to learn to be an effective communicator. An effective communicator is not someone who can waffle on for hours on end but someone who is effective in getting results from their communication. Extrovert or introvert, it doesn’t matter. An effective communicator gets heard & understood. If you are a great engineer but cannot effectively communicate then you are missing out on an important part of your career influence. Being able to communicate effectively is within everyone’s reach. It is something most humans are capable of doing and with the right tools can sharpen.

To be an effective communicator you need to learn & be always aware of the 3 human primary modes that people use to process thoughts during communication. They are Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Just like being right-handed primary, each of us uses one of the 3 modes as our primary form to convey messages during communication. Understanding which one the person you are speaking with is using is a step forward to being a better communicator.

Primary modes

The following applies for right-handed people. For left-handed switch everything I tell you below to the other side i.e. right to left and left to right.


  • Speaker will primarily look up / up and to the side as they process information (answers to your questions). As if looking into the sky for an answer.
  • These people are known as “the fast talkers” because visual memories are a lot quicker to process and put into words.


  • Speaker will primarily move their eyes left to right / right to left (from ear to ear) as “they need to hear” what they are saying.
  • These people are moderate speed talkers.


  • Speaker will primarily look down and to the right as “they need to feel” what they are saying.
  • Typically these people will be slow talkers because to feel their response before speaking, this takes longer to come out.
  • Kinesthetic people usually have beards around here.

Note: Don’t get confused with people looking down and to the left – this is common when people are having internal chatter like reciting a preplanned script e.g. actors or individuals during an interview with a pre memorized script/s.

Communicating effectively

You may have come across individuals where you just couldn’t click together or something was not right after your discussion. Like you did not understand each other. There is a high chance this may have been the choice of words you used to communicate with. The other party’s primary mode of communication might have been different to yours and thus the two of you did not really understand each other hence the feeling of disconnect.

To avoid this happening again, try to recognize the other person’s primary human mode. Once recognized, add (or change) some words & sentences in your communication. It isn’t about changing what you say but how you say it.

Step 1 – Identify there (speaker’s) primary mode

  • Listen to their choice of words, how their eyes move and speed of speech. My previous post on understanding each other using primary human modes talks about other indicators you can use to get this information.
  • Ask about the weather “how is the weather today?” – always a favorite. Is the weather, sunny (visual), warm (kinesthetic) or windy (auditory). Or, “is your car” – yellow (visual), safe (kinesthetic – Volvo drivers) or noisy (auditory). etc… you get the drift right?

Step 2 – Add the appropriate “words” into your communication

Here is a list of keywords you can throw into all your communication in order to get a “better” message across and be heard or simply understood.

Visual Auditory Kinesthetic
an eyeful
short sighted
sight for sore eyes
take a peek
tunnel vision
bird’s eye view
naked eye
paint a picture
make music
tune in/out
rings a bell
quiet as a mouse
voiced an opinion
clear as a bell
give me your ear
loud and clear
purrs like a kitten
on another note
get hold of
catch on
tap into
heated argument
pull some strings
sharp as a tack
smooth operator
make contact
throw out
firm foundation
get a handle on
get in touch with
hand in hand
hang in there

Step 3 – Add the appropriate “sentences” into your communication

Step it up a bit and use appropriate sentences to respond back with or ask questions. Some of the common ones you can use for each primary mode include:

Visual Auditory Kinesthetic
Let’s look at it differently.
See how this works for you.
I can’t quite picture it.
Let’s draw a diagram or map.
I’d like to get a different perspective.
I never forget a face.
That sounds about right.
That rings a bell.
It’s coming through loud and clear.
Tune in to what I’m saying.
Clear as a bell.
That’s music to my ears.
That feels right to me.
I can’t get a grip on this.
Stay in touch.
Get in touch with.
That doesn’t sit right with me.
I have good feelings about this.
My gut is telling me.
I follow your drift.

Step 4 – Have fun!

Don’t forget that having fun is when you are having the most effective communication. Once you are connecting and communicating effectively with the other person doors open to opportunities and you really get to learn and grow from the experience. Everyone has a story to tell and once you are listening and communicating effectively the world is your oyster.

Has this helped you in any way? Please share your story below.


Understanding each other: primary human modes of communication

I’m sure you’ve wondered why sometimes we come across people we click with instantly and sometimes we struggle with others. Even after using common topics of interest like talking about them / their interests, their family, news et al, there is still something not sticking. You may walk away thinking it wasn’t meant to be or that geez that person was hard to communicate to. But what if it didn’t have to be like that and you can change it. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to “click” with everyone – of course it would! This is where understanding each others primary human mode of communication helps. Let’s dig into this further.

Nicholas Boothman, an NLP practitioner and ex-photographer shares the following in his book: How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less

“There are three primary modes that people use to process thoughts (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic — both emotions and physical feelings), and remembered and imagined versions of each one. Understanding individuals primary mode can help you build rapport and connect with them.”

Understanding these primary modes and how to apply them is the secret recipe here.

So what does this all mean, an example

Let’s assume I’m a sales person going to sell you a car. After finding out what your primary mode is, I would use one of the following sales techniques to sell you the car.

a. Primary Visual: “seeing and reading” – I will say, imagine the look on people’s face as they see you driving in this red sporty car on a beautiful sunny day. Is this something you see yourself driving in?

b. Primary Auditory: “listening and speaking” – I will say, hear the growl of this V8 twin turbo engine as your plant your foot down. It’s pure horsepower. Throw your favorite track of Mozart or Guns’n’Roses on and it’s music to your ears even if you haven’t been to an ear wax removal clinic in a while. How does that sound?

c. Primary Kinesthetic: “touching and doing” – I will say, imagine yourself strapped in pure comfort into those body hugging Recaro bucket seats in this A class safety approved sports car – you know you are safe. You are bound to have a fun and an amazing time. How does that feel?

Did you notice the use of cue words specific to each primary mode? This doesn’t just apply to sales people. Each day when you speak to people you are always selling yourself, your ideas and stories through your communication.

If you are still skeptical, I’m sure you have heard stories of couples miscommunicating. It probably played out like this: wife to husband: “you’re not listening to me”, husband to wife: “I am, but you’re not seeing what I mean”. Right there; lay’s the key to that form of miscommunication. The wife is auditory and the husband visual. Of course the wife cannot see his point because she needs to hear it.

Understanding the person’s preference – how to use this knowledge

The “clues” to understanding a person’s preference mode are tied in eye movements and choices of words.

a. Eye movements

This applies for right-handed individuals. For left-handed the sides are switched.

  • Visual individual will always look up / up and to the side as they process information. They are also the fast talkers because visual thoughts are a lot quicker to put into words.
  • Auditory individual will move their eyes from ear to ear (left to right / right to left) as they need to hear what they are saying. This group is moderate speed talkers.
  • Kinesthetic individual will look down and to the right as they need to “feel” what they are saying. Typically these people will be slow talkers because to feel and speak is a longer process. Don’t get confused with people looking down and to the left – this is common when people are having internal chatter like reciting a preplanned script e.g. actors or during an interview – all types exhibit this behavior.

b. Choice of words
Listen to the following used in one’s conversation and use the same choice of words to respond.


  • Let’s look at it differently.
  • See how this works for you.
  • I can’t quite picture it.
  • Let’s draw a diagram or map.
  • I’d like to get a different perspective.
  • I never forget a face.


  • That sounds about right.
  • That rings a bell.
  • It’s coming through loud and clear.
  • Tune in to what I’m saying
  • Clear as a bell.
  • That’s music to my ears.


  • That feels right to me.
  • I can’t get a grip on this…
  • Stay in touch.
  • Get in touch with…
  • That doesn’t sit right with me.
  • I have good feelings about this.
  • My gut is telling me…
  • I follow your drift.

Don’t assume

Just like being right handed one can also be a mix of both sides. Do not make quick assumptions about a persons mode. A person can be a mix of modes like primary visual and secondary auditory, and so on. Understanding this will help you use the right choice of words in your communication at the right time and in no time you will be in a position able to hold a conversation with anyone and build rapport quickly.

Enjoy your new found knowledge and share your experience below in the comments section.

Free Education: Learn almost anything for Free

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” ~ Albert Einstein

“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” ~  Peter F. Drucker

These quotes should come as no surprise to you. They state the obvious. But how many people forget to put this into practice. They finish up school and hit the workforce thinking that learning is behind them. That was school right. Wrong! The problem lies with wrongly associating pain to learning. Learning definitely require a level of discomfort. Just like exercise. You need to expel energy (strain) and this puts you out of a comfort zone. But this is the only way to do it to push that bar forward and bring change.

Once you understand that everything in life requires exerting energy (pushing the bar) to bring change (growth), your thinking changes dramatically and learning becomes a beautiful & peaceful (sometimes obsessive) process bound with fruitful outcomes of wisdom and enlightenment. We didn’t get this far in human civilization without education. An urge to understand more. And we will get further, inspire others and make a change in this world by education.

You are lucky

There has never been a great time in human history when education was so freely available and accessible to such a large population of people! Information is now free. Well a lot of it is is anyway. And more will become available – this is the trend. The old days when the few (rich) had access to it are over. Education (in 1 form or another) is now available to everyone. Public libraries, Internet, People et al. All you need now is the craving to learn. A will, drive, yearnings, fire inside to self-educate and expand your mind.

Free Education – General

Below is a list of great free online tech resources available to anyone willing to exert their energy and learn something new.. and change you forever.

Khan Academy

An organization on a mission. A not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.
Learn now:

  • Holds a library of around 2,400 education videos created by Khan. And growing everyday!
  • Topics covered on Algebra (inc Linear), Arithmetic, Banking and Money, Biology, Brain Teasers, Calculus, Chemistry, Math, Computer Science, Cosmology and Astronomy, Credit Crisis, Currency, Current Economics, Finance, Geometry, History, Physics, Probability, Statistics, Trigonometry, Valuation and Investing, Venture Capital and Capital Markets etc…
  • Sal (the founder) presents the topics using low-tech conversational tutorials, step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard. And it works! Sal is a great teacher. He know how to break complex topics into simple, understandable and elegant ways of looking at them. It makes you smile because you will just get it! Learning couldn’t be easier. I have learnt heaps here.
  • Sal has built an amazing team of smart folks from McKinsey & Fog Creek Software including John Resig (the father of jQuery).

Hacker Dojo

A community center for hackers and thinkers. Located in Mountain View (California) at the heart of Silicon Valley next to Y Combinator and a host of other high-tech companies.

  • Free weekly Python classes ran by Karl Krueger (Googler). My favorite at the moment (Aug/2011).
  • Other events worth mentioning include iOS Developer Study Group, Machine Learning, Startup Monthly and many more. Visit events page for a full list.
  • And other times you will be sitting listening to a CEO / CTO talk about new high-tech innovation in their space or helping address common industry problems. Not to mention the many smart folks you can chat with and bounce ideas from during and post a meetup.
  • Hacker Dojo also has a nice library where you can kick back to read a book on a love sac or in a private cubby.

Google Code University

Provides sample course content and tutorials for Computer Science (CS) students and educators on current computing technologies and paradigms.

  • Topic covered include Programming Languages, Web Programming, Web Security, Algorithms, Android, Distributed Systems, Tools 101 andGoogle APIs & Tools.
  • Learn here one of the hottest languages today – Python.

Free Education – University

Harvard CS50 Computer Science

Introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and the art of programming. It was ran last year so the content is fresh.
Take course:

  • This course teaches students how to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently.
  • Topics include abstraction, encapsulation, data structures, databases, memory management, software development, virtualization, and websites. Languages include C, PHP, and JavaScript plus SQL, CSS, and XHTML. Problem sets inspired by real-world domains of biology, cryptography, finance, forensics, and gaming. Designed for concentrators and non-concentrators alike, with or without prior programming experience.
  • The instructor David J. Malan is friggin amazing! I wish I had him teaching me Computer Science in my undergrad. His full of energy and uses many examples to back up the theory.

Stanford’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Fall 2011.

Artificial Intelligence is the science of making computer software that reasons about the world around it. This is a bold experiment in distributed education organized by Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.
Sign up for free course:

  • Class begins October 10. Register using the link above!
  • From Humanoid robots, Google Goggles, self-driving cars, even software that suggests music you might like to hear are all examples of AI. In this class, you will learn how to create this software from two of the leaders in the field.
  • Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig – both top guns at Stanford University Computer Science with backgrounds from Google.
  • The course will (note Oct 10, 2011 start) include feedback on progress and a statement of accomplishment. The curriculum draws from that used in Stanford’s introductory Artificial Intelligence course. The instructors will offer similar materials, assignments, and exams.
  • Peter’s book AI, a modern approach, is a good read: with Python (Yipeee) code samples

Stanford Engineering

SEE programming includes one of Stanford’s most popular engineering sequences.
Take course:

  • Three-course Introduction to Computer Science taken by the majority of Stanford undergraduates, and seven more advanced courses in artificial intelligence and electrical engineering.
  • I haven’t gone through these but they look great! and all course material like Video Lectures, Syllabus, Handouts, Assignments, Exams and Software is provided.

Introduction to Databases – Stanford University

Databases are incredibly prevalent — they underlie technology used by most people every day if not every hour. Databases reside behind a huge fraction of websites; they’re a crucial component of telecommunications systems like those used in, banking systems, video games, and just about any other software system or electronic device that maintains some amount of persistent information.

Take course:

  • Class is ran by Professor Jennifer Widom, the Fletcher Jones Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department at Stanford University.
  • Students will have access to lecture videos, lecture notes, receive regular feedback on progress, and receive answers to questions. When you successfully complete the class, you will also receive a statement of accomplishment.

Machine Learning – Stanford University

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.
Take course:

  • Class is ran by Professor Andrew Ng is Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, the main AI research organization at Stanford.
  • Students will have access to lecture videos, lecture notes, receive regular feedback on progress, and receive answers to questions. When you successfully complete the class, you will also receive a statement of accomplishment.
  • This is the original Stanford AI course which the one in Fall 2011 is being based on.

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
Explore & take courses:

  • Talk about Unlocking Knowledge and Empowering Minds. Free lecture notes, exams, and videos from MIT. No registration required.
  • I haven’t gone through this site yet but it was highly recommended. No prices for guess what MIT is… Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A private research university where six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. Watch the movie 21 and you will learn about this MIT Blackjack Team.

No excuses!

There you have it. No excuses for not being able to afford or attend to university commuter science courses. If you have others which you feel should make this list please contact me and I will list them here.

… and just remember this famous quote by Napoleon Hill …

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
— Napoleon Hill

Happy learning!
~ Ernest

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