Steffan Edward Bote is a rising name in the sales industry in Calgary, Alberta. Growing up in that same city, Steffan pursued his passion for basketball throughout most of his formative years, starting in middle school and progressing through his time at Bishop O’Byrne High School. As a high school athlete, he traveled throughout the United States to play in tournaments with his team, earning several all-star mentions and accolades, and a few MVP recognitions, as well. In 2013, he helped his team win their first ever city championship.
Following high school, Steffan earned his Diploma of Education from Bow Valley College, where he studied criminal justice and law enforcement administration in pursuit of his childhood dream of becoming a police officer. However, at 19, he found that he wasn’t fully prepared for all that such a career would entail, and made the difficult decision to find another way to fulfill his desire to help others. Somewhat to his own surprise, he found that fulfillment in a sales career.
After graduating college, Steffan Bote found his first working role as a business development representative at the Dilawri Group of Companies, the largest automotive group in Canada. He soon transitioned into sales at the same company as a brand ambassador working out of one of their dealerships. Finally, after his experience there, he moved on to a senior advisor position at a different dealership in Calgary in 2018, where he remains today.
As a senior sales advisor, he views his position as an opportunity to make a difference for people by providing solutions for his clients.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
Well, to be honest, I wouldn’t say that becoming a salesperson was an idea at all, in the sense that the question implies. At the time, I didn’t really see sales as a career choice. I wanted to become a police officer—that’s what I went to school for. But at 19, I wasn’t ready for all of that. I wasn’t mature enough. So, I did what anyone fresh out of college does when getting into their career of choice stops being an option: I got a job. In my case, it was a job in sales.
I didn’t expect a sales position to have any sort of challenge to offer me, but I was proven wrong. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to reach pre-set sales quotas, and doing so gave me a chance to use and to grow my skills. I worked hard to become a better salesperson, and that’s what got me into bigger and better roles. So, I’ve been in sales ever since, and it’s something that I’ve become really good at. I’m 25 years old now. There’s a lot of room left for growth, but I’m still willing to learn and work hard to keep moving up, and that’s exactly what I’m doing.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is really all about the customer. I take the customers in and make sure I have a handle on their needs. For example, I’ll make sure I have an accurate understanding of the problems they’re having to ensure that I can recommend the proper service or the proper repair for their specific issue. Then I give the work to one or more of my technicians, acting as a messenger for the customers to make sure that all the information is relayed correctly. I keep the customer updated throughout the day as needed, and if any additional work needs to be done, I relay that to the customer to make sure they understand what’s happening and how that impacts things. Finally, I handle the checkout once the work is done.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring an idea to life by just stepping forward and acting on them immediately. I think it’s one of the most powerful abilities in this world to be able to take an idea and just decide to do it. In the past, I’ve had a lot of things I wanted to do that I never got around to because I always came up with excuses not to do them. I would overthink and get lost in the questions I couldn’t answer right away, and as a consequence, those things wouldn’t get done and my ideas were not brought to life. If you want to bring ideas to life, you can’t afford to overthink things. You have to just start doing. Often, you won’t have all the details ready, but you have to start, anyway. Figure out the unknowns as you go, and learn from your mistakes as you make them. That’s how ideas become reality.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Since I’m in the automotive business, the trend I’m most looking forward to is the transition to all-electric vehicles. That’s the plan for a lot of companies over the next 10 to 15 years—to get rid of auto exhaust emissions entirely by going 100% electric. There are pros and cons to electric vehicles, of course, but the pros far outweigh the cons, and this transition has me very excited as someone involved with that industry. Automotive technology is advancing so quickly now that it’s hard to fully imagine what the next decade will bring.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Discipline and consistency. When I wake up, before I go to work, I visualize what I’m going to do throughout the day. With my busy schedule, I have to be proactive, and so I typically check on tomorrow’s schedule at the end of each workday. That way, I know what I’ll be doing the next day, and I can prepare myself mentally and physically. When I wake up, I already know what I need to do, and I’m prepared to meet those goals as best I can.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To be honest, the main thing I’d tell my younger self is that you’ll never get everything figured out. A lot of people make it seem like they’ve got their lives figured out—and they’re convincing about it. I’m talking about celebrities, influencers, and the like. When I was younger, I made that mistake of looking up to those people and buying into the idea that these people have perfect lives. I didn’t understand that just because they’re very good at what they do, that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect or that they have their whole lives figured out. Buying into that ideal can be actively harmful, regardless of your age. Life is all about figuring out each day as it comes, and learning from your experiences and your mistakes. That’s how you become a better version of yourself. You’ll never learn everything, so you just have to keep learning as much as you can.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think we’re closing in on the day and age where a lot more employees are going to get replaced by computers. Or we may even be heading toward a step further, where everything’s going to be run by computers at a managerial level. The value of learned knowledge is quickly dropping, as we all now have immediate access to the internet and to search engines—instruments through which we can get all the answers we might need. If I don’t know the answer to a question, no matter the question, I can just type it into my smartphone and get the answer delivered to me instantly. I think the trend of rapidly accessible information is going to keep on advancing, and at some point down the line, the human middle man is going to be rendered obsolete. Computers are already smarter than human beings in a lot of ways, and the advancement of technology certainly isn’t slowing down. How long will it be before a computer can fill even complicated roles, like that of a doctor or a lawyer, and maybe even consistently do a better job than their human counterparts? I think it’s not a question of if that’ll happen, but when.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I visualize my day, I visualize what I’m about to do, and I visualize victory in whatever form I need it to take. It’s all about maintaining a positive outlook on life. It’s also about choosing the right words. For some people, words are just words, but for me, words are powerful. They’re the framework for your perspective on life. Instead of saying “I’m broke and I’ll always be broke,” say “I’m rich and I can make it happen.” Words are the tools you need to give yourself a different mindset, to see the glass as half full, not as half empty. I try to see the good in any situation.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the most important strategies that has helped me professionally is networking. Depending on where you are in your career or in business, you might not see networking as all that important to you. But you’d be surprised at the positive impact that comes from knowing a lot of people. That’s where you gain new connections, new clients, and new relationships. Sometimes an existing client will bring in a new client because of the impression you’ve made on them. That’s the power of having a conversation with someone. Many people overlook the possibilities in just having a normal conversation with someone. It doesn’t have to specifically be about business, or even a business-related topic. Just having normal conversations with people goes a long way. You’ll learn a lot about people, you’ll expand your network, and that will have a huge impact on your business.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In my sales background, I’ve heard the word “no” a lot. I’ve had plenty of people hang up the phone on me. And while it hasn’t happened a lot, I have had a few that were rude or that just wouldn’t listen to me at all. I overcame this by not taking it personally. I understand that the product or service I’m offering just wasn’t really for that person, and that could be for many different reasons totally disconnected from me. I take it as a learning experience, go back to the drawing board, and figure out where I took a wrong turn with my pitch so I can do better with the next person. That’s how I improve.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I mentioned earlier that electric cars are the future, and that technology is advancing so quickly that it’s hard to imagine what the next decade will bring. Electric cars, as great as they are, still have some serious shortcomings in 2022, and the biggest one in my mind is the battery. We need high power batteries that can sustain electric vehicles, but even high-end electric cars only get 300 odd miles to the charge. The demand for better batteries is huge. If you can figure out how to make a more efficient battery that lasts longer or that doesn’t need hours to charge, that’ll be a game-changer. And I believe that somebody’s going to figure that out in the next 10-15 years, if not sooner.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I’ve spent recently was on COVID travel insurance. It’s not something I thought about much before, but I’m going to Mexico in a week. Here in Canada, the government has decided to void our insurance if we choose to leave the country. So, in light of that, $100 is a very small price to pay for peace of mind. If I or my wife ever get COVID while outside of the country, that $100 COVID insurance will cover pretty much everything.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
It’s a bit of a vague answer, but I’ll say the internet as a whole. You can find answers to pretty much any question and become that much more productive because of it. The need for personal knowledge and memorization isn’t nearly as prevalent as it used to be because now you just need to know how to search for whatever information you need, and it’s right there on your computer or even on your smartphone. I’ve taken steps to educate myself about knowing where and how to look for information when I need it, and I capitalize on that skill a lot.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I just read it recently, and it covers many of the principles that I live by. It’s about avoiding analysis paralysis, and learning to just do. The book really gave me some new insights on starting things, the difference that can make, and that learning from your mistakes as you go is a real, viable strategy. The book’s central idea is that a lot of entrepreneurs and famous people who are rich seem to have it all figured out, but they really don’t. The fundamental difference between me and those people is that they actually started doing. They’ve made a decision to just start working toward their goals, and they’ll figure the rest out along the way. That’s really powerful. Just doing it right away, instead of over-analyzing the whole situation, will set you on the right path. Time is money, and the sooner you get started, the more you’ll be able to compound your successes.
What is your favorite quote?
It’s really more of a question than a quote, but it’s from Inky Johnson, one of the top motivational speakers in the United States. I once saw him ask a question of one of his viewers that really stuck with me. He asked, “Can you be committed to the process of what you are doing without being emotionally attached to the results of what you’re doing?” He was telling people not to be rewards-driven. A lot of people are working toward something only because they want that something. But Inky Johnson’s point was that if you focus on the process itself, that will make a massive difference. He poses the question, ‘Can you be the same individual if you don’t get what you want?’ That really hit home for me. That’s why I talk about how the process is more important than the product itself. The product is your accomplishment, but the process is what defines you. Your results are not who you are. For me, they’re just a bonus. That’s a credo I live by every day of my life.
- Whether you’re young or old, it’s important to maintain your open-mindedness and willingness to learn new things.
- You won’t often encounter situations where you have all the information you need from the outset. The path to success usually involves getting started anyway, and figuring the details out as you go.
- Networking isn’t just about discussing business with other professionals. Straightforward, normal conversations go a long way.
- If a service or a product isn’t working out for you or for your clients, don’t be afraid to take it back to the drawing board.
- Time is money. The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.