9. Interview with Connie Wyatt (CMO of Best Cellular)

Connie Wyatt is one of the most motivated, dedicated, and loyal people I’ve ever met. She serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of Best Cellular. I’m blessed that Connie Wyatt is my mom! I mentioned earlier in the book that I owe much of my success to her.

When I was a kid, we had almost nothing. Yet, she helped my little brother and me pick out a nice suit and tie from the local thrift store as she worked hard to save up money to take us to business seminars and leadership conferences. She bought leadership books, success books, and personal development books to teach us. While many kids got an allowance, my mom would instead put a few bucks in the back of a book for us. Reading a book was our way of earning money for things we wanted. Connie Wyatt became hugely successful in her own life, and I have her to thank for my desire to succeed.

Connie has trained horses to compete at high school, collegiate, and National Finals Rodeo contests. As a skilled communications expert, Connie helped grow Best Cellular from a single hometown store to a nationwide MVNO. She was recognized on satellite TV as “Salesman of the Quarter” for a national builder. Connie Wyatt is an expert in utilizing innovative marketing strategies to draw traffic and sales.

In her own words, “When Curtis asked me to write a chapter for his book, I was very hesitant. I told him, ‘People don’t want to hear from me, they want to read about how very successful people did what they did.’ Then I realized that we all have a story to tell. Each of us can teach others how we overcame adversity and rose above it. I hope someone will relate to my experiences and appreciate their journey.”

Below are some insights from Connie Wyatt. Enjoy!

What is your definition of success?

My definition of success is working towards “Point B.” Layout a timeline to reach your goal. Start at the target destination and work backward to today, where you’re at Point A.

We have done as we envisioned Best Cellular and laid out our projections, goals, and timelines. We continue to do check-ups to see if we’re hitting our goals and to make sure we don’t head off on any rabbit trails! You have to “put your dreams in concrete and draw your goals in the sand.” Chase the dream. It doesn’t change, but you may have to move your goal lines a bit along the way to adjust for shifting circumstances.

Practice self-discipline to stay the course. Remind yourself that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. If you can keep your Point B in mind, it’s easier not to get off course! For me, “Point B” is Heaven. While I’m here, though, I focus more on what I have than what I don’t have! It’s more about what I put into life than what I get out of it.

When did you consider yourself a success?

Earthly success is a moving, evolving thing. Some days you feel extraordinary, only to have other times that you feel like a total failure. There are “mountaintop experiences” in business and relationships, financially and spiritually, but there are deep dark “valley moments” as well. When you are up on top of the mountain, looking out over the valleys, everything is magnificent!

Then you hit times of being down. Business is struggling, and the family is fighting, health is compromised, finances are horrible. But did you ever stop to think that it’s while you’re in the valley that you realize you can’t do this alone? It’s dark and cold down there, so you begin to search for help. You are now scared and thirsty. So much so that you cry out to God for help because it’s been a long hard trip. But at the bottom of the mountain, at the lowest point, that’s where you find water. Living water to replenish you and revive you, so you can begin the climb back up to the mountaintop.

To answer your question about when I considered myself a success, I’ll probably be my own worst critic here on earth until I’m finally at my forever heavenly home!

What steps do you take daily to improve?

  • I strive to read the Bible daily. It keeps me grounded in truth, and after all, it is indeed the Book of Life.
  • I study and research to stay up on industry trends.
  • I try to get physical exercise daily. It clears my mind and improves my mood.
  • I pray for God to direct my steps, my words, and even my thoughts toward the direction of His plan for my life and glorify Him in the things I do that day.

I once read about a man whose father, a well respected and trusted man, operated a grain mill for decades. All of the local farmers brought in their crops to sell at his mill. He would weigh the grain on the old scale he had used for years. The old man died, and his son took over the business. He painted the buildings, did some repairs, and also had the scale recalibrated. He learned that the old scale was off. The son realized his father had been shorting the farmers on their grain weights for years! So the questions the author asked was:

  1. Was the father dishonest all these years? Answer: No, because he didn’t know the scales were off and therefore hadn’t intentionally tried to steal from the farmers.
  2. Would it be dishonest for the son to continue using the scale at the same (incorrect) weights that his father had used for years? Answer: Yes, because he now had new information to know that the scales were off. With that new knowledge came accountability to correct the scales!

That’s how I try to grow in my thinking and opinions and attitudes continually. When I learn that what I used to think was wrong, then I immediately correct my thinking. If necessary, I also apologize to anyone else whom I misled with incorrect information.

What have you recognized as your greatest strengths, and how have they impacted your success?

One of my greatest strengths is being able to pick myself up one more time than I get knocked down. If I can do that, I will always win!

I’m competitive, like my dad. Man, that side of the family competes on everything from who gets to the coffee shop first every morning, to who drinks the most cups, to who can “spin the biggest yarn” and get you to believe it! Growing up was a lot of fun because of the competition. Rodeoing, having a foot race at the rodeo, bucking bales out in the hayfield, playing volleyball at church camp, water skiing at the lake, or playing cards during the winter evenings, we were always trying to win.

Life is a competition. You compete for a good job to provide for your family’s needs. You contend with mother nature’s bugs, drought, and bad weather to try to grow a garden for food. You compete with pollution and chemicals and GMOs and preservatives to try to keep your body healthy, despite the food you eat. You compete with the other guys to win the girl you want to marry, and then you compete with the kids for your wife’s time and affection.

In high school, I set school records for the 50 and 100-yard dashes and competed at State on relay teams who also set school records. My family didn’t come to watch me compete unless it was a rodeo, and I always knew that this could be my last meet, so I gave it everything I had. I still feel they made me do even more chores to try to get me to give up the sports, but that was also okay. I learned that there’s a price to be paid for doing something you want to do, and it’s worth it!

Years later, my little sister and brother-in-law were up at a church camp playing a volleyball game. I dove to save a spiked ball and skinned my knee, and another time dove and kept a ball from hitting the ground and skinned my elbow. I was having a blast. All of a sudden, my sister remarked, “Connie, why do you always do that?”

I was confused and asked, “Do what?” She said, “Everyone is out here having fun playing ball, but you play like your life depends on it like it’s the last game you’re ever going to play! Why do you play so hard?” I thought about my answer for about two seconds and replied, “Because it just might be.” I believe you should be “in it to win it” in everything you do!

Another strength of mine is being able to make most projects fun. I figure if you have to get the job done, you might as well enjoy the journey! You could be irritable and cranky and make it a miserable experience for yourself and everyone around you. You can also turn it into an opportunity to create comradery and appreciation for helping others get their part done. You’ll create a team atmosphere. Most importantly, you can model love for each other. You’ll find things to laugh about together as you muck through, completing the job, and then express genuine appreciation for their part in it!

The last thing I would say is tenacity. Many times in my life, I was called hard-headed, stubborn, or told that I didn’t know when to stop hitting the wall and give it up. Many years later, I met some very successful business leaders who would say that I had tenacity. (I have to admit that I had to look the word up because I’d never heard it before that moment!) These successful business owners would say that I was determined, persistent, and wouldn’t give up when I hit a wall. Instead, I’d find a way to climb over, go around it, or dig a tunnel under that wall and do whatever it took to get to the other side! My God-given gift of never giving up meant I didn’t need to apologize or feel defective!

Tell me about a weakness or personal character flaw, and what you’re doing to overcome it?

You would probably get several paragraphs on this question by asking my husband or those who spend time around me! I saw a cartoon one time that showed a person standing in front of a bookshelf in a bookstore. There was one section that said, “How to Fix Yourself,” and another called “How to Fix Your Spouse.” The self-help section was still full of books, but “How to Fix Your Spouse” sold out! That’s sort of human, to see others’ flaws much more quickly than recognizing our own.

I’ve been described as being loyal to a fault by a close family member. I don’t agree with that opinion, and I suspect the comment stemmed from a bit of jealousy. Nevertheless, I don’t believe loyalty is a problem as long as the person you are loyal to is in tune with Biblical principles. If they’ve proven to be an honest, upright person of integrity, who hasn’t betrayed my trust, then I’m loyal to them, and I’ve got their back through whatever happens. I need to be better at making those who feel like I’m loyal to a fault feel more included and loved.

I once read a summary that said, “The greatest evidence of genuine friendship is loyalty” (loving at all times). First Corinthians chapter 13 explains what true love is. Verse 7 says that love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres. Loyalty is part of loving. Give me a loyal friend over ten fair-weather friends any day.

I could name a lot of personal flaws. The one I’m working on the most now is the mistake of confiding whatever is irritating me about one person to another. It’s not a positive solution to the problem. It causes the person I told to feel either stressed for me or question their feelings about the other person. It also must make them wonder if I’ll share these details about that person to them, then what am I sharing about them with someone else? I am working on keeping my mouth shut when I’m feeling upset about someone else. I should be taking the problem to my Heavenly Father.

How do you make important decisions?

First, I pray. I pray for God to lead me in the direction I need to take, to help me make the decision that will benefit everyone involved. I ask for His guidance along each path I need to choose. Then I seek counsel and get advice from others who are discerning and wise. Then we pray together. If time allows, I sleep on it. It’s amazing what a clear perspective I’ll have after thinking it through and then giving myself a night for my brain to process the pros and cons.

I research and read up on the topic at hand, and try to glean any tidbits of information that make me re-think it. I pray up to it (the point at which I “pull the trigger”), and then I pray through it (the whole process that evolves after the decision). At work with Best Cellular, we often get on speakerphone and pray about our company’s decisions, for the health and blessings of our customers, and each other and our families.

When I married my husband, Steve, he was a “package deal” with kids and grandkids included! One of my bonus daughters, Jessie, is an extremely wise, spirit-led lady who I can spend hours talking to. She is the most well-read person I know and has at least four books she’s reading at any given time. She’s involved in church Bible studies, and she reads her Bible daily.

She is brilliant and just fascinating to talk with. I was sharing a situation that had happened in our family with her. I asked her how I might have responded better or differently to the problem, trying to determine what to do. Jessie said one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard, and it was a tipping point in my decision making from then on. She said, “If you make your decisions backed by biblical principles, you can’t be wrong.”

I was at a business seminar once, and the speaker answered an atheist who asked, “Do you have to be a Christian to be successful in business?” He said, “You don’t have to believe in Jesus Christ to own or operate a business. But, to be hugely successful in any business, you must do what Jesus taught!” You have to do unto others as you would want them to do to you. You have to love other people, be kind, be honest, be compassionate, and be fair.

Was there a pivotal moment that set you on the path to where you are now?

Yes. My oldest son, Curtis, was diagnosed with brain cancer. That was in addition to living with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. He also had grand mal seizures daily. He lived alone and came close to death more times than I care to remember. At the time of his diagnosis, the neurologists gave us zero hope of survival. They advised us just to try to make him comfortable.

We had to make some tough decisions. We had to convince Curtis to walk away from his life in Denver and move in with us in a 100-year-old one-room log cabin, 35 miles from the nearest stoplight. He slept on the living room floor on a plastic mattress that would go flat every night. There was no phone service, no social contact, and with the brain issues, he couldn’t even remember how to drive to the closest convenience store 7 miles from the cabin. Talk about a low point in his life!

I made him a promise: If he survived cancer, we would help him figure out a business he could do despite his health issues, and we would help him. We researched until we decided on the Hoxsey Biomedical Center in Tijuana, Mexico, for treatment because we had nothing to lose. Very long story condensed: that was eight years ago, and he survived and is cancer-free! He has residual scar tissue, so there are some lingering problems, but we continue to learn workarounds.

When it looked like we were winning the cancer battle, Curtis said, “I think I should open a cellular store.” So we kept our word and helped. Little did we know that it would grow from a tiny little hometown store, with him living in the back of that first one, to become an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). Best Cellular is now a nationwide business that’s growing as fast as we can keep up! That decision has undoubtedly changed the course of mine and my husband’s lives. It’s hard work and long hours, but we know how truly blessed we are, and what a blessing the Best Cellular stores have been to us, to the customers, and the staff.

Are there any books you’ve read more than once? Why?

Yes, one of them is The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. That book helped me recognize how other people were showing me love, in their way that I previously hadn’t realized. I was waiting for them to love me the way I would have shown love to them! Conversely, I was working hard to show people how much I loved them in my language, and they didn’t recognize it! The first time I read the book, I just cried. I realized that I had tried hard to make some people love me, but they did already.

Positive Personality Profiles: D-I-S-C-over Personality Insights to Understand Yourself and Others! by Dr. Robert Rohm helped me to realize that we are all wired differently. We process things individually, and some may respond differently from the way I do. It helped me understand more of what motivates a person so that I can relate to them more effectively. I also learned that even though we are primarily one of the four personality profiles, when we are under stress, we will often go to another personality quadrant! It was incredibly freeing to me to realize that.

I also like Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage by Mark Gungor. We have the 4-disc DVD set of this. It’s such useful information that we have hosted five or six different showings with groups of friends (one group at a church had 40 people show up!)

True story on the last one I’ll mention: How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Years ago, I got into business with some other successful business owners. They were the first to show me some of these books on communication skills, understanding love languages, and different personalities. I was a sponge for this information! I loved discovering these things and knew there was so much I needed to learn!

One day, I got to meet with Steve and Kathy Edwards, good friends, and business mentors of mine. I said, “Hey, Steve! With where I’m at in my personal growth and the growth of my business right now, what book would you recommend I read next?” Without a moment’s hesitation, he said, “How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.” I said, “Oh, I just finished that one!” Steve looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Read it again.” Ouch! So guess what, I reread it, only this time I was highlighting and underlining as I went! We still laugh about that every time I run into him after all these years!

Tell me about a difficult commitment you’ve made, and would you make it again?

When I was blessed with my two sons, I committed to love and protect them to the best of my ability, whatever it took. After 12 years in an abusive and extremely dysfunctional marriage, I found the courage to take both my boys and leave. I knew that if I didn’t leave, my kids would learn to become like the example they were watching. Staying had become too dangerous, but leaving was terrifying. Fear of the unknown prevents the right decisions.

I read a story years ago about a prison that played mind games with its prisoners. They would pick a prisoner and blindfold his eyes, take him out in the prison yard and remove the blindfold, where he would discover he faced a firing squad. Then they would tell him to look at the far side of the prison yard wall, where there was a small door. The prisoner had a choice. He could go through that door and face whatever unknown consequence was on the other side. Or, he could just get it over with and choose to die before the firing squad.

The results were the same every time. The prisoners were so afraid of what might be on the other side of that door, of the unknown, that they would choose to die by firing squad. What the prisoner never found out was that freedom was on the other side of that small door.

I had to love my children enough to take the risk to get them out. It was rough and didn’t end with a happy ending, but I’d do it again, only smarter. That commitment led to figuring out how to go from being a homeschool mom and a Cub Scout leader to jobs that I could support us with. It led me to a corporate career path. There, I learned many skills that I could later apply to help create and build up Best Cellular.

What character traits do you value most in others?

Honesty and integrity are right up at the top, as it seems to be with most people. Why is that? Is it because it’s such a rare thing to find in people and thus very valuable? Lack of those two traits will cause mistrust in a person faster than anything I can think of. If you lie to me once, you’ll lie to me again. I respect a person who is big enough to come to me and admit what they did and apologize. That takes courage, another trait I admire. Courage isn’t the lack of fear. It’s admitting you are afraid, but going for it anyway.

Another trait I admire is a good work ethic (my “Acts of Service” love language talking again). A person who will work steadily, even when no one is looking, exhibits honesty and integrity. Let’s be brutally honest. What if you wait until the boss isn’t around and sit there scrolling Facebook or messaging your friends rather than doing what the company is paying you to do? Now you’re sneaking personal time. Is that being honest or showing integrity?

The same goes for renting a car or a house that belongs to someone else. You signed the agreement saying you will take care of that property. Then you abuse the rental car, revving the engine, and driving it over rough spots while you have it. You would never do that if you owned the vehicle. Or rent a house and trash the carpets and let a leak go unfixed because it’s not your house. Would you treat that car or house that way in front of the owner? If not, then why would you do it while they aren’t able to watch? Man, I take care of anything I’ve rented or borrowed better than my own stuff! When I’ve had to borrow a car, it gets returned full of gas and cleaner than when I acquired it! It goes back to my defining scripture:

“In everything you do, work like you are doing it for the Lord and not for man.” – Colossians 3:23

How do you push through your worst times?

I “hang on to my fork.” There’s an old story about a very elderly lady who was close to dying. Her preacher came by to see her and pray for her. He asked if there were any special things she would like him to say during her memorial service. She asked him to make sure that a fork was placed in her hands when laid to rest in the casket. Understandably surprised, the preacher asked her why. She said that when she was a young girl, and the family would gather for special holidays, her grandmother would gather the dishes after the meal in preparation for serving some fantastic dessert. Grandmother would always instruct them to keep their fork so they could use it for dessert.

The dying woman smiled and said, “I always loved that part of the meal together. Holding on to that fork, I knew that the best was yet to come!” She continued, “So now I know that as I wait to cross over from this life, I have no doubt that the best is yet to come and I want my loved ones who come and pay respects to ask about that fork so you can tell them that their best is still yet to come too.” It may sound preachy, but that truly is how I get through the dark times. I know that “this too will pass” and there are better times ahead.

I used to get frustrated with myself when I was having a “downer day.” You know, those days when you’re just sad, and you really can’t justify why? You beat your self up because you know you are so blessed, and so you shouldn’t be feeling sad. Inside you are screaming at yourself, “What’s your problem? You have no right to be down or sad!” So that just piles on the heaviness and makes you feel even worse!

Years ago, I had a realization. When I have one of those sad, depressing days, maybe this is one of God’s coping mechanisms. That He gives you tears to release pain and sadness, that he gives you sleep to let your brain process life’s challenges, that He gives you time to withdraw and be alone with yourself and Him. Instead of beating myself up for having a bad day that I shouldn’t be having, I permit myself just to have a really bad day! I realized if I’m sad and depressed, it’s okay! By freeing myself of the guilt of having a bad day, that it helps me get to feeling happy faster!

What keeps you awake at night?

Worrying about my boys. How are they doing? Are they happy? Is their career doing well for them? Are they satisfied in their relationships? Do they know how deeply I love them and know I would give my life for them? That’s just what moms do, I guess. I wake up thinking about them and pray for them until I fall asleep again.

My son Curtis’ Type 1 diabetes is a disease that he has lived with since he was two years old. This was way before Continuous Glucose Monitors. I often couldn’t tell if he was just napping or unconscious. If I missed waking up throughout the night, he got too low. I would have to treat him with glucose so he could recover. To this day, God gave me an intuition even though we live miles apart. I wake up through the night and call him until he can get up to test his sugar.

I also worry about our business. Best Cellular is growing and expanding, and I worry about making sure we stay up on industry trends and changes that may affect the decisions we make and the directions we take. We’ve made commitments to our customers as well as our staff that I take very seriously. I worry about the inevitable pitfalls that throw kinks in the plans. I always remember, “Your word is your worth – and your worth is your word.”

What inspires you?

I love learning. I love teaching – kids, dogs, or horses; it doesn’t matter. Helping them become the best they can be is my passion. I love connecting and seeing the “aha moments” when you can see the transition. I take pride in helping them “get” something I was trying to communicate. I love training horses, starting as a colt, and earning their trust and respect. That inspires me. I want to help them love to perform at a level that takes kids to state, national, and collegiate championships.

I’m also inspired by being tuned in to a horse or dog and noticing when they are trying to communicate with their human. It could be the smallest things, like a horse showing me where he has an itch and rewarding that communication by scratching him to make it better. Then when I’m asking my horse to turn or gallop or stop or back up, they understand I’m trying to communicate with them as well!

Or my dog trying to tell me his water bowl is empty by sticking his nose in the shower, then raising and looking in the commode, then back at me, and me getting him water along with telling him what a good boy he is for letting me know! Then when I’m asking him to “go get my walking shoes” or “do you want to go walking?” he understands I’m communicating to him and responds! It may sound silly to someone who’s never had the privilege of having a horse or dog, but it gives me joy. It inspires me to want to get up earlier and get out there to spend more time with them.

I love a little life lesson I read just the other day. It said: “The words we leave behind will be a lasting picture of who we are.” I don’t care to have a lot of material things to leave behind. I want to leave behind the relationships that I invested time to build and strengthen, and words. Words of encouragement. Words of praise. Words in prayers. Words in Thank You cards and Thinking of You cards, words in a text to someone, words of wisdom and counsel, and most of all, words of love. Since I help to run Best Cellular, I do my best to use my words to inspire, to build up, and lift our team rather than bark out orders.

How do you manage and prioritize opportunities?

I am always striving to become better at time management and prioritization. It’s easy to feel like other people don’t have as many demands and constraints on their day. We feel as if we have more to get done with less time! The truth is, we all have 24 hours in our wallet. No exceptions! So it’s not a time problem, it’s a time management and priority problem. When we say, “I didn’t have time,” what we meant was, “I didn’t make that a priority to do in the time I had.”

It’s certainly true that some of us are more involved and busier than others. However, everyone still has to decide how we are going to spend 24 hours every day. That requires each of us to put a priority on the list. How many hours do we waste in front of the television, or scrolling through social media? You’d probably be amazed at how much more time you have to get the essential things done if you unplugged the TV and turned off your phone!

I’m also learning to delegate and to trust my team. Of course, that’s after investing enough time to enable competency. That allows me to tackle other projects that need attention.

What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?

I would say, “Hey, everyone else is just as afraid and insecure as you are at this age! You are liked and respected, and you’re going to do just fine!”

I was voted Miss Aztec High School, Class Secretary, and Prom Queen candidate. While setting school track records, competing at State in track and volleyball every year, and participating in Student Council, I was a top competitor in the President’s Physical Fitness competition, competed at State rodeo finals, and trained my brother’s horse. That same horse took my brother to State and National championships in steer wrestling. I also trained winning racehorses for my Uncle Dave and earned two full-ride scholarships for rodeo and volleyball. I still felt like I was on the outside looking in. Like I didn’t fit in or belong!

Man, I wish someone could have helped me with my confidence. I was doing great. I could have enjoyed the journey more! That’s another reason I have such a heart for teaching and mentoring young people. I see so much untapped potential. I want them to experience the sheer joy of feeling like they are a winner!