On this episode of the Sales Gravy Podcast, Jeb Blount sits down with celebrity chef and entrepreneur Vera Stewart, to learn how persistence and a “never take no for an answer” mindset helped her build a business empire.
Southern Home Cook Turned Nationally Recognized Celebrity Chef
Vera’s entrepreneurial journey started back in her undergrad days, baking cakes and pies for her chemistry professor just to get a passing grade. After graduating from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) she taught school for four years before starting her family and becoming a stay at home mom.
But Vera missed the sense of self-reliance that having an income brought her, and started a catering business out of her home kitchen in Cartersville, Georgia.
The rest of the story is legendary as she leveraged luck, chance meetings, relentless persistence, and an infectious competitive spirit to build a business empire and nationally known brand in hospitality and cooking.
Taking Risks Creates Opportunity for Success
As her business grew, Vera took advantage of opportunities as they arose. What some might have considered a risk, Vera saw as an area of potential.
From catering the governor’s luncheon, to appearing on Food Network, starting her own TV show, and writing amazing cookbooks, Vera always rose to the challenge, took advantage of every opportunity, and never took no for an answer.
She was able to climb to the next level again and again at different points in her story because she held on to a simple, but powerful mantra: “All they can do is say no.”
The VeryVera Show Origin Story
Through a stroke of luck and the willingness to say yes in the face of uncertainty, Vera landed a spot on Throwdown With Bobby Flay. It was a pivot point that changed everything.
Following her appearance with Bobby Flay, a local Augusta, Georgia TV station offered to let Vera record six episodes for her own show. It was an instant hit and she wanted more.
When she was told that it would take five years to get syndicated, Vera was undaunted. She approached a station in Savannah, GA with a pitch to syndicate her new show.
Vera pitched her show to WSAV, with a crucial mindset—she led with value and focused on what was in it for them. She demonstrated exactly how she could help them sell more advertising.
This is how The VeryVera Show landed its first syndicated market. Today, The VeryVera Show is in 40 markets with over 300 episodes to date and has never had a station cancel.
Resilience. Tenacity. Adversity.
Vera’s entrepreneurial journey is as inspiring as it is informative. What we can learn from her story is that resilience, tenacity, and the willingness to face adversity are invaluable to paving the way to a successful business or career.
Sales is a unique profession that affords salespeople the opportunity to essentially work as an entrepreneur within an organization to earn commission.
In many respects, you are your own boss, call your own shots, and have an incredibly high earning potential compared to other lines of work. The only way to take advantage of that potential is to overcome obstacles, take risks, deal with rejection, and not take no for an answer.
Sales professionals who adopt an entrepreneurial mindset can leverage their skills, knowledge, and experience to achieve remarkable success. Entrepreneurs are known for their ability to innovate, take risks, and seize opportunities, and salespeople who embody these traits can excel in their careers. Here are five ways that salespeople can harness an entrepreneurial mindset to be successful.
5 Ways Salespeople Can Harness An Entrepreneurial Spirit to Advance Their Career
Approach Your Career With A Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is the belief that one’s abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. Salespeople who have a growth mindset are more likely to see challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. They are also more likely to embrace new technologies, methodologies, and sales techniques that can help them improve and achieve their goals.
Take Initiative and Ownership of Your Future
Entrepreneurs are known for their ability to take initiative and create their own opportunities. Similarly, salespeople who take ownership of their work are more likely to be successful. They should take the initiative to identify new prospects, develop new sales strategies, and take risks when necessary to close deals.
Adapt and Pivot In The Face of Change
Entrepreneurs are known for their ability to pivot when necessary and adapt to changing market conditions. Salespeople who can adapt to changing customer needs, new sales techniques, and market trends are more likely to succeed. They should be open to feedback, willing to try new approaches, and able to pivot quickly when circumstances change.
Put Customers First— Always
Entrepreneurs know that their customers are the key to their success, and salespeople should adopt the same mindset. They should focus on building strong relationships with their customers, understanding their needs and preferences, and delivering value in every interaction. Salespeople who prioritize the customer experience are more likely to build long-term relationships that lead to repeat business and referrals.
Vera attributes much of her success to asking for what she wants with relaxed, assertive confidence. Confidence is key in both sales and the entertainment industry, and Vera’s story reinforces just how important assertiveness is in achieving success.
People lean into relaxed confidence. Assertiveness demonstrates that you expect to win. When you want something— a meeting, a next step, a sale— ask in a way that shows you believe the answer will be yes, rather than in a way that suggests you already expect a no.
Vera Stewart proved doubters wrong and built a food and hospitality empire because she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Take a moment to consider how you can break through barriers that are holding you back by adopting a “never take no for an answer” mindset.
About the author
Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…