Be a people person, it will get you anywhere

Colby Foster
8 min readNov 10, 2017
Be a people person

This is a post about my friend Joe. He barley graduated from high school, dropped out of college, and didn’t have a real job till almost 30. The reason Joe is successful now is because during the course of his life, he mastered the art making people like him. Joe’s story is one of adventure, ambition, and alcohol :)…

When I first saw William (Joe) Wadford, he was dancing in a circle of sorority girls and being the life of the party. Fast forward to today, anytime you see the guy…you can still expect a glow from everyone in sight.

I can sum up the lessons I learned from Joe in 4 words… be a people person.

If you wanna read this whole thing, be my guest, but every part of Joe’s story comes down to the fact that people love this guy and in turn, will do anything for him.

Listen to Podcast: iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud.

“You’re going to fuck up…so you might as well fuck up fast”

I got the honor to play a small part in Joe’s journey but like most of the people that have crossed his path, he helped us way more than we helped him. People love helping Joe because he makes us identify with a higher version of ourselves. He makes life fun, enjoyable, and memorable. For years, Joe has been able to attract people around him due to his energy and zest for life.

Favorite Quotes:

“It is the notes you take, but it’s also the hands you shake”

”everyone needs to get a sales job.”

“you are not even close to the smartest person in the room.”

“let people be people”

“unless i learned from someone making a lot of money, I wasn’t going to make a lot of money”

“you’re going to fuck up… you might as well fuck up fast on the small jobs so you don’t do it on the big jobs.”

“you are who people expect you to be”

“Don’t see your job as just a call center”

“unless Ilearned from someone making a lot of money, I wasn’t going to make a lot of money”

Top thing I learned

“Never say no”. When people invite you somewhere, or ask for your help, or want to hang out…always say yes. Joe did this and I actually made a new years resolution to do this in 2013. Its very fulfilling and know this: Joe Wadford is not going to have a problem finding 6 pallbearers at his funeral. (min 58)

First Job: Professional Car Washer

Joe got his first (legal) job age age 23. He washed cars at AutoBell making $5.75 / hour and working around 25 hours a week.

AutoBell has no barriers of entry, but according to Joe… “they only hire the most elite people!”

He got “promoted” to sales where he make commission but no tips. This move seemed good at first, but lead to him earning less. Would you take a “promotion” if you got paid less? Joe did. Why? Because skills are worth more than money.

Learning how to ‘sell’ is better than knowing how to wash cars. This was a turning point where sales turned into a skill that would pay dividends for Joe in the future.

Joe ended his career at AutoBell in the top 5 national rankings for sales averaging $22.00 per wash.

Lessons learned from selling car washes?

  • “Go for No. At AutoBell, Joe learned how to up-sale and ask for more until the customer said no.
  • Have a successful mindset. Joe constantly ask himself, “why not me…? Whats the worst that could happen….?”

College Life

Joe attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He paid for his school with scholarships and grants. It turns out, being a “non-traditional” student (aka old), government programs allow one to attend college for pretty much free.

At UNCC, Joe join a fraternity called Lamda Chi Alpha. This experience allowed him the opportunity to hold leadership positions and build relationships with a huge network of people. Joe was a devoted student by day and the life of the party at night.

Joe was also involved in civic organizations. One of those was the Red Cross where Joe became the leader of the now famous, Campus Blood Drive. His leadership broke the school record for most pints of blood received in a day and he learned valuable skills about leading people in the process. Listen to minute 14 of this show to hear Joe’s story about being a “Giant Killer” and setting huge goals to motivate a team.

Joe’s lessons learned from organizing campus wide blood drives:

  1. Tell a good story
  2. Be super excited
  3. Learn to delegate

My favorite quotes from Joe about delegation:

  • “you are not even close to the smartest person in the room.”
  • “let people be people” Let them do it (the task) there way.
  • “Give them a huge goal and let them figure out how to do it in there own way. because they are probably going to do it way better than you could have.”

Welcome to the real world

Joe graduated with a construction management degree but wanted to work in finance. Upon graduations, Joe hadn’t accumulated any internships or any work experience outside of AutoBell. On top of this, Joe graduated in the middle of “The Great Recession” and jobs were hard to find.

Whats sets Joe apart from everyone else is how he reacted post college. He didn’t let circumstances make him a victim and didn’t blame the economy for his lack of success. He took action, put in the work, and played to his strengths (people skills).

Like I mentioned earlier, people love Joe and in turn will do almost anything for him. Joe got his first interview with a Financial Software Company through a friend (your’s truly actually).

How to land a job when you have no experience?

  1. Dress for success — Joe was broke out of college so he went to the nicest goodwill in his city and searched for the best brand-name suit he could find. He then went to a tailor and got it fitted to his exact size.
  2. Be willing to take the night shift — this means not being entitled to a job for which you aren’t yet qualified.
  3. Use your network — people like doing business with people they like and people they trust. Harvey Mackay has a great book titled, “Use your head to get your foot in the door” and it couldn’t be more true in Joe’s situation.

By doing the above, the construction management major with no internships and no real experience, was able to land a job at a software company in the finance industry. I started this post talking about Joe’s superb people skills and those are exactly why he got the job he did.

Working at a Call Center

Joe signed on his first job after college making $15 an hour and working 3pm-11pm M-F and 9am-5pm on Saturdays. With a little overtime, Joe was making around $35,000 per year. He wasn’t at 60k yet, but he was light years away from selling car washes in a blue polo.

Stay Hungry

Joe is ambitious and this allowed him to stay motivated and hungry during his job at the call center. On of the biggest things he said kept his motivation high was our walks through expensive neighborhoods near the office. Joe and I worked at the same place and after work (around midnight), we’d drive a few miles away and sightsee houses of the local millionaires. As we paced through the neighborhood we’d say, “one day this is going to be us.” Doing exercises like this helped Joe stay motivated and hungry for something more.

How you know when to leave a dead end job?

  • When there is a ceiling on your income and you want more.
  • “when management is a dick” — Joe. I would rephrase this as “When the management in place is either intimidated by your success or doesn’t see how your success helps them.”
  • Ask yourself, “Does this company expect a lot out of me?” If no, leave.

How to move out of a dead end job?

  • Reconnect with your network with no agenda. Don’t ask them for a job, just connect with them like a human being. It helps if they know your virtues.
  • Allow your connections to get you an interview.

Crossing the $60k mark

This whole podcast is about getting to the income level of $60,000 a year. How did Joe do it? He connected with an old friend in a different city and that friend got him an interview at his company. The company was big, which means they had the budget to pay for talent. Joe passed all the interviews, started that job with a salary in the upper 50’s and after many 10–12 hour days, he got a raise that pushed him past our goal for this podcast. Go Joe!

The Conclusion

What made Joe successful? How does Joe gets jobs other people couldn’t? Simple, people just want to be around him. He brings energy.

The lesson?

Be a type of person people want to help.


Joe went to college. dropped out. went back to college. changed majors. worked at autobell. took a promotion for less pay. got invovlded on campus in frat and blood drive. set some records. no job outta college. Got first job in completly different industry than major. got job based on network/friend. show up get center. got a raise. went from 36k-58k. moved to a new city. back in field of his college major. worked butt off. quoted twice as many jobs as most people. thats how he got above 60k.

(Something to note: Joe has the bladder of a small ant. He took about 10 bathroom breaks during our hour long interview. )

Advice from Joe:

  1. Get a job in sales at least once. — Joe’s says, “everyone needs to get a sales job.” Because you need to learn how to sell yourself and talk something up.
  2. you’re going to fuck up…you’re going to fuck up a lot….so you might as well fuck up fast.
  3. don’t be so damn hard on yourself”. You’re going to mess up on the road to success.
  4. Keep investing in people and relationships.

How to Contact Joe Wadford?

Time Stamps

  • Autobell $5.75/minimum wage. [1:10]
  • Gets promoted at Autobell to “crew leader” [5:00]
  • Gets promoted to Sales at AB [2:33]
  • Learning Sales [7:34]
  • Breaks NC blood drive record [14:25]
  • Story of delgation [18:56]
  • Data mining the old fasion way [19:40]
  • Delgation and getting smart people to do stuff [22:13]
  • Graduates college with no job and no experience [27:40]
  • Joe gives a bunch of excuses why he couldn’t get a job [30:12]
  • Gets first job out of college [33:35]
  • Interviewing for job [35:34]
  • how to afford a suit when you are broke [36:30]
  • Negotiating for 45k. Gets $30,000 [40:00]
  • Gets Raise to $18 after 3 months [46:15]
  • Stay Hungry and Keep dreaming [50:00]
  • How you know when to leave a dead end job [51:47]
  • Embarrassing moment in front of executive [54:00]
  • Why Joe gets jobs that other people couldn’t [56:34]
  • Joe uses his degree finally [1:00:15]
  • Getting the Interview [1:02:09]
  • Going from 36k to 58k [1:02:09]
  • how joe lost his company 40k [1:08:01]
  • Gets another raise [1:12:01]
  • Closing thoughts [1:14:01]



Colby Foster

I really admire people who can think through ideas. I hope you will join me to help me think through my own.