All things being equal, would you rather hang out with someone who makes you laugh or someone who is dull and dour?
The answer should be obvious and helps explain the success of people who take their work—but not themselves—seriously. Included in this group is Dan Yuen, someone I have had the opportunity to be around many times over the years.
Here’s the kind of guy Dan is: about 25 years ago, he managed to avoid breaking into laughter when he jokingly told a business associate—his eventual wife—that he had three children named Ping, Pong and Net.
The associate, Sandy, was a self-described “girl from the prairies” of Saskatchewan who simply laughed at the remark, not knowing what to make of it.
For the first several months, their interactions were limited to phone calls that Dan, who was actually single and childless, would make as part of his job selling cellular phones in the early days of that industry. Sandy would review the prospective customer’s credit history and decide whether to approve the purchase.
After meeting, they began dating, then building the Amway business together. Now married for more than 20 years, they also became Amway Diamonds in 1992. Ever since, they have led one of the largest organizations in Canada as well as within World Wide DreamBuilders (WWDB).
Along the way, there has been no doubt about it–Dan doesn’t pass up many opportunities to find humor in a situation, or to create some laughs. Often, those quips come at his own expense.
There’s this one-liner he shared during a recent WWDB Dream Night: “When Sandy told me to get in shape, I said, ‘Round is a shape.’”
But don’t be fooled—beneath that joke-cracking, self-effacing surface is a driven, extremely competitive man. He takes his business very seriously.
Dan and Sandy both were determined to get off the 50-plus-hour weekly grind that is so often the price for traditional success in corporate life. Sandy’s work led to poor eating and sleeping habits and sent her to the hospital at least once a year for ailments that included ulcers.
“I was building someone else’s dream and literally killing myself,” Sandy said at a WWDB Dream Night. “But when you are building your own dream, you’re not tired.”
Their rapid growth was fueled, not deterred, by scoffers and skeptics like co-workers who would refer to Dan as “Danway.”
“We are negatively motivated,” Dan said. “(The criticism) was like pouring fuel on the fire and just spurred us on to go and do more.”
Sandy, meanwhile, was the only member of her family who left the prairie. At first, she was the “black sheep”—a designation that has since been revised, she jokes, to “rich black sheep.”
Delayed gratification is at the heart of their success.
Some people misunderstand delayed (or deferred) gratification, equating it with some extreme, damaging form of self-denial. In reality, the process of delayed gratification helps develop important character traits such as patience, self-control, and will power.
And the payoff is bigger and better rewards. As Dan told the Dream Night audience:
“Pay now and play later, as opposed to playing now and paying the price later.”