Taking a new step, uttering a new word,

is what people fear most.

- Fyodor Dostoevsky


It can be very difficult to start things. It can be quite a feat to go from zero to one.
Once you get started there is momentum and feedback but getting started can be difficult. Most races are lost not at the finishing line but at the starting blocks. 
Why? Because most people never even enter the race! They just never get started. Wasn’t it Lao-Tzu who pointed out that all epic journeys begin with a single step.


The Start of the Sale

What is the start of the sale? The start of the sale is Customer Attention. Before a customer can say YES or NO their attention must be on your offer. Fred Herman, author of KISS: Keep It Simple Salesman used to say, First, you’ve got to get the customer’s attention!

Yet, most of the time the vast majority of customers’ attention is not focused on your offer at all. Whenever, at any particular moment, the customer’s attention is not on your offer then there can be no hope of a sale.

The Check Move

To manage customer attention I designed a new unit of measurement. In my book NewSell, which became a best-seller in Australia, I designed a new unit of measurement which I called: Check.


A Check move (taken from the game of chess) is simply a customer contact of any kind. It keeps the focus on the escape from uncheck. Uncheck is when we are not in contact with a customer. Check is when we are in contact with a customer. From uncheck to check.


This has all been revised and updated in my book WOMBAT Selling: How To Sell By Word of Mouth and you can request an ebook copy here with my compliments.

For years it’s been a common belief in selling that most sales were lost at the close. In other words, salespeople were missing sales because they were not ‘closing’ them.

Our research showed that this is a grand illusion. The whole issue of ‘closing the sale’ is a nonsense and I have offered a reward of $100,000 to the first person who can prove, with the balance of evidence, that it’s the salesperson who closes the sale. It’s actually the customer who closes the sale.

  • FACT: The decision to buy is an electro-chemical event in the brain of the customer and the salesperson does NOT control that event.

  • FACT: It’s the customer who closes the sale.

  • FACT: 99% of sales are not missed at the close at all but at the start.

  • FACT: It’s the failure to start the sale – to contact a customer by phone, by snail mail, by email or in person – that is the source of most lost business.

  • FACT: 99% of check moves have never yet been made.

Noting their check moves (customer contacts) helps salespeople keep a measurement of how much energy they are putting out into the marketplace.

Focusing on their check moves helps them: 1. to raise their energy level and avoid wasting time, and 2. to stop their obsession with ‘the close’ and all the archaic manipulation tactics that customers hate and which have given the selling profession such a bad image and poor ethical reputation.

Just get in touch with the customer and they will teach you how to sell them.

Focusing on the start (check) rather than the ‘close’, reduces the rejection and disappointment salespeople feel which so effects their energy levels. Check allows them to initiate many more customer contacts.


This, of course, always leads to better sales results because the only move that can turn a prospective customer into a client is CHECK which is enough to make it the most important move in business. As Woody Allen said, “80% of success is showing up.”


uncheck2check is a practical example of zero2one. The most difficult feat of selling is to escape from uncheck.

To start, to go from zero to one, is the fundamental creative act. The most difficult feat of creativity is to escape from zero.

To change a switch from the OFF position to the ON position is to start something and means something has now been created. It has been said that the most important skill in writing a book is sitting down at the keyboard – getting started.


When it comes to the power of STARTING no-one said it better than the German thinker, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, said:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.


This is a reasonable question often asked about the School of Thinking. Is there a hidden agenda or an underlying philosophy? The answer is: NO.

School of Thinking is science-based. It offers no particular philosophy or ideology. It offers neither liberal optimism nor conservative pessimism but, through science, the School offers the opportunity to study and attain, through rational and sustained cognitive effort, the intellectual virtue of hopeful realism.

November 17 saw the 36th anniversary of the School of Thinking which celebrated a sustained journey of science, experimentation, application and adaptation in both the education and business sectors disseminating over half a billion lessons since 1979.


Timewise, it’s interesting to see that the celebrated Greek thinker Plato lived in ancient Athens around 2500 years ago. Because just around the same time, in ancient China, lived another great thinker … K’ung Fu Tzu.

This ancient Chinese master started one of the world’s most successful schools of thinking and his memes have gone viral and spread around the world and infected even more people than the Western Platonic memes.

Master K’ung (or Confucius as he has come to be known in the West) developed positive memes on ethics, behaviour and relationships and devoted his thinking to finding better possibilities in the world. He was a great master of CVS to BVS thinking.

SELF x10

Confucius had an insatiable thirst for knowledge of antiquity. In his sayings, he rarely used negative prohibitions but preferred to offer positive memes on how to find a BVS if you wish to behave as a chun-tzu or gentleman. What moved him was no lust for power but the will to attain true mastery. If you seek ‘self x10′ then understand your strengths and develop them with practise and mastery. But he was no abstract philosopher. He saw the need to be both a man of thinking and a man of action.

“I hear and I forget.
I see and I believe.
I do and I understand”.
– Confucius

His nature strikes us as smiling, open and natural. He was a man of the world and of the street who was driven to find ways to help improve the human condition. He founded a school for future statesmen. He edited the classics. And, most significant of all he is credited with beginning China’s great explosion of thinking in all its breadth and potentiality.

As a teacher Confucius was always encouraging his students to learn. He also believed in the importance of daily training and practise.

The Master said:

Is it not pleasant to learn continually and then to put it into practice?

Regardless of how the world treated him, Confucius could still maintain a positive attitude and go on learning and teaching.

Like Confucius SOT also uses Practise, Repetition and Rehearsal (PRR) to teach thinking using tools like brain software cvs2bvs.

x10 thinking

We also develop and use advanced tools like the TRIIII cvs2bvs matrix below in some of our complex problem-solving workshop sessions with clients.

TRIIII: The Three Levels

Once you get started with the TRIIII there are three levels of XIO thinking: 1 to 10, 10 to 100, 100 to 1000.


1 to 10

10 to 100

100 to 1000


Key in a keyword of ten keystrokes (red)

Do that ten times (orange)

Do that ten times more (yellow)