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In a recent appearance with singer composer Roseanne Cash, my brother, Dan Levitin, a well-regarded neuroscientist and author, discusses why we like music so much. He describes the brain as a giant prediction machine. We look forward to our expectations being met within a song.  We expect a certain note or rhythm and when our expectations are fulfilled, we’re rewarded.

Yet it’s the novelty in a song that captures our interest. I think this dance between expectations and novelty penetrates all aspects of our lives.  After all, what makes a relationship satisfying is that we expect a certain routine, which creates security, yet without spontaneity we become bored and dissatisfied. In a workout routine, it’s repetition that ensures our muscles get strong, yet we must change the workout for optimum benefit. In sales, we must offer our customers a predictable experience, but often we must be willing to take chances and have courage to close the sale.

I believe most people play it a little too safe most of time. When we fear failure we revert to predictability. At Levitin Group and in Levitin Learning we teach salespeople to take chances in the sales process. When the customer is too agreeable, surprise them by asking, “What’s the real reason you’re not going to buy today?” And sometimes you might do the opposite by simply asking them to make their purchase fifteen minutes into your sales process.

Every great actor, inventor, musician, or businessperson must ultimately take chances. If we’re always afraid to lose, we’ll never win. Remember, in all of your relationships, the question you’re afraid to ask is the question you must ask. Or as Eleanor Roosevelt said,


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