Steve Ziemke has spent over 20 years in the oil and gas industry, most of which has been with Gulf Coast Western in Dallas, TX where he is currently a Senior Vice President. As a sales leader in the company, Steve has worked diligently to offer clients positions in oil and gas partnerships that can generate monthly income and offer aggressive tax advantages. Steve was actively involved in Gulf Coast Western’s donations to the Sadie Keller Foundation, working to supply toys to children with cancer and their siblings. Steve helped put together and attend several investment conferences including Freedom Fest and the New Orleans Investment Conference. Here he met with hundreds of individuals, and presented and discussed oil and gas projects, and its benefits to accredited investors.
Prior to this, Steve worked over 20 years in the property and casualty insurance industry at California Casualty rising from sales representative to Vice President; managing sales, customer service and retention operations. Following this he worked for a subsidiary of Ohio Casualty managing service operations. Steve was also instrumental in bringing operations in-house to improve the cost and efficiency of servicing auto and home insurance policies that had previously been outsourced.
Steve has an MBA in Business Management from Boise State University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Management from Michigan Technological University. He continues to self-develop in the areas of sales, motivation, and people skills.
Steve Ziemke has achieved a successful sales career throughout his life while enjoying his three beautiful grandchildren that keep he and his wife of over 40 years actively involved in their lives. Steve’s three adult children never cease to amaze him with their families and achievements. Steve enjoys downhill skiing, personal fitness, world travel, scuba diving and camping. Steve has achieved solid times in the Pikes Peak Ascent (half marathon gaining over 8,000 feet in elevation in 13 miles), the Hood to Coast relay race covering 295 miles with a team of 12 runners, and Pueblo marathons. Steve has been a drummer in a rock and roll band called Monument Hill for over 20 years playing classic rock cover songs.
What is your typical day, and how do you make it productive?
My typical day begins with listening to affirmations relating to wealth, gratitude and positive statements. Following this I work out for roughly an hour, either full-body conditioning, spin class or swimming laps. I feel these mental and physical activities begin my day that will provide a positive mental state and energy throughout the day. I divide my day into different types of calls- I start by cold-calling to get my energy going and my head in the right mindset, followed by morning appointments. I spend my lunch hour exercising, going for a walk or working on projects, and then spend the afternoon calling other appointments and following up on prior appointments to sell new clients, and call on existing clients for re-investing and generating referrals. I end the day with cold-calling earlier time zones and call on any evening appointments.
How do you bring ideas to life?
An idea is only explored and experiences trial and error by implementing it, and changing if needed to make sure all angles are attempted. For instance, if I have an idea on a new approach on trying to sell a prospect, I will first practice the strategy and tape it for review and analysis. Once I have it the way I want, I will attempt that strategy in a real-life situation, and then review the tape to see how I did and how the prospect reacted to it. I will also involve an experienced co-worked or my manager to evaluate my skills. It is crucial to monitor the results of the idea as time goes on. Adjustments may need to be made if situations change within the marketplace.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The one trend that excites me is the commodity price of oil. Global and domestic demands are increasing as various industries increase their productivity to meet customer demands. The evolution of the electric car is such where the impact on oil prices in my opinion will be pushed out 10 to 15 years. In Gulf Coast Western’s outlook, I see strong oil prices helping in our clients’ returns, both short term and long term.
What is one habit that helps you be productive?
One habit that I have always believed in that helps me be productive is to tackle first a project or a task that is least desirable and is one that I really do not want to deal with. Once I have that finished, I feel that I can go throughout the day without that hanging over my head, so that I can focus on the rest of my schedule and be more effective.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give my younger self would be to save early no matter what. It was always easy when I was younger and had the money to purchase the nicer car or bigger house, thinking that was important to not only enjoy the luxuries, but to feel good about other people being impressed. If I had committed to putting away savings each month at an early age, I first of all would not have missed the money, and would have had to truly evaluate whether or not I really need the nicer things. I have learned that I really do not notice the money is not there while my savings and future is building.
Tell us something you believe almost nobody agrees with you on?
I totally believe in positive thinking and the application of the power this has in daily life. Even when things are horrible or there seems to be no outcome that could be positive, I continue to say not to worry as things will work out. It gets to the point where my wife or close friends roll their eyes at me, because they think I’m being unrealistic. I listen to morning positive affirmations and try to live this through daily life.
What is the one thing you repeatedly do and recommend everyone else do?
Self-discipline is a trait that I believe I have that I would implore others to develop. This foundation allows me to apply myself in many facets of life. It has helped me achieve top sales year after year at Gulf Coast Western, and to get and stay in physical and mental shape.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?
Life is crazy sometimes, and when I feel overwhelmed, I step back and take some deep breaths and look at the issues. Often I realize the situation is not as bad as I had thought, or that I am reading too much into things. Whatever I deal with, I look at it positively and it all works out. I truly believe 99% is between our ears, and that we can handle situations better than we think.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business or advance in your career?
I have always believed that working hard and going the extra mile is what has helped me learn the necessary things to gain a foothold and develop my career. I started in sales in the insurance industry, and the observed hard work and results led to my advancement into senior management. In oil and gas sales it is a numbers game, and I have worked diligently from the beginning to give myself the opportunity to succeed. Throughout this, however, I quickly learned that one must work smart in addition to hard. If I hadn’t developed my sales skills by becoming more effective in selling new clients and developing existing clients to re-invest, while getting rid of bad habits or ineffective techniques, I would not be where I am today.
What is one failure in your career, how did you overcome it, and what lessons did you take away from it?
A failure that was a life learning experience for me dealt with losing my position as Customer Service Manager at California Casualty Insurance during a mid-management cut back. Feedback that I received dealt with not verifying customer service review letters submitted by our policyholders. I failed to confirm with the policyholders their true concerns, and then track them to determine trends or problem areas with my staff. I learned that no matter what, to verify information. Whether it is from a customer, co-worker or subordinate; I always verify information to properly evaluate situations or to make decisions.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A business idea that I have found to be successful is tracking the requests and results of referrals from existing clients and prospects that end up not buying. While I have always asked for referrals, I never tracked the activity to observe how often, from whom, and the replies I received. This is a 2023 goal of mine that is working very well, and that has allowed me to build new strategies and become more effective. For example, I noticed a trend that caused me to change my approach to handle more effectively the objections when asking for referrals. One-third to one-half of my new clients come from referrals, and my goal is to increase that number to two-thirds.
What is one piece of software that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I use Vanilla Soft, which is a CRM lead-based system. The system allows me to effectively follow up with prospects and clients to ensure maximum contact efficiency and as a result more sales.
Do you have a favorite book or podcast you’ve gotten a ton of value from and why?
My favorite book is by Rhonda Byrne entitled The Secret. I read this book while going through a life change in between jobs, trying to search for a new angle on staying positive in order to find my path. I have always been a positive person and believe the glass is half full, but this book added a whole new dimension. I had learned in college that you will be more successful in life if you are positive and believe things will happen. Rhonda taught me that I am what I think about most, a whole different thought process. More importantly, the more positive I am, the more positivity I attract. I feel that my successful career in sales at Gulf Coast Western is due to being positive throughout the day and believing in the Law of Attraction to expect sales and income.
What’s a movie or series you recently enjoyed and why?
I am really enjoying the series, Ted Lasso, which I had heard so much about but did not begin watching until recently. I love the dynamics of the team, and observing the difference in motivation and dynamics between the owner and the manager. I have been to England several times and get the nuances that show up regarding their culture and terminology.
- Focus and discipline are keys to success
- Staying positive breeds positivity and allows one to attract more positive outcomes (if you think you can, you can; if you think you can’t, you can’t)
- Even when you get knocked down, you can get back up and succeed.
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.