'If you can't make
it in Canada, you
can't make it
By Bill Taylor
Peter Urs Bender doesn't believe in leaving unturned stones in his wake.
To arrange an interview with him is to receive by express mail his books - autographed - magazine articles and the offer of a videotape. No? Then a CD-ROM containing briefly the tenets of his philosophy.
He calls to let you know he's leaving his office, calls again to let you know he's about to arrive. And you'll get a call later to say, "Thanks."
Bender, most often described as a guru of public-speaking and business presentation, is self-promotion personified. He insists if he was starting out again, he'd do it in Hong Kong.
"All you need is a Rolex watch - doesn't have to be a real one; just buy it on the street - and a mobile phone. He who hustles earliest and fastest, wins."
Not that Bender, 55, who describes himself as "dyslexic, un-Swiss Swiss," has done badly since he came to Canada in 1969 to learn English.
The only thing that reduces him to silence is a question about how much he makes.
"It's good money," he says at last.
"But if I tell you, everyone will want to get into it. I make a good living."
Good enough to drive a new and loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee and to have expanded to the point where he now has a number of "licensees" presenting - "my words, my way" - his seminars.
"This business I'm in is the easiest to get in and the toughest to stay in," he says. "It's tough to get repeat business. You think I wrote my books maybe just to punish myself? It was to get market share, to be someone. "Most people are more qualified than Peter Urs Bender but if we're equal in everything and you have a PhD and Im' a good marketer, I beat you. It's a very unfair business, thanks to God."
His latest book is Secrets of Power Marketing (Stoddart,
THE RIGHT STUFF: Self-help guru Peter Urs Bender thinks big and has the books to prove it.
$27.95), co-authored with George Torok. It's aimed, the blurb says, at the "entrepreneur starting up your own business, or intropreneur looking to effect change and move upward inside a larger corporation."
His earlier books are Leadership from Within (also Stoddart) and Secrets of Power Presentations, which Bender published himself.
He boasts that there are more than 100,000 copies in print with the book "used in over 40 Canadian colleges and universities and many 'top 500' companies."
With the new book being about marketing, Bender decided he had to do a little marketing himself. So he gave away 650 copies in wooden boxes, each personalized with the recipients initials, with bars of Swiss chocolate.
"It was a lot of work," he says.
"You had to get the names and get everything organized."
"But out of nothing, you get nothing."
Bender points out that on his seven-minute video and CD-ROM, it's one single take and he's not wearing makeup.
"Some people come up with a 'best of' sort of thing from a number of sources. It makes them look as if they can walk on water when really they can't even swim.
"Me, I under-promise and over-deliver. Make sure you get that in the right order!
"You see, humour is important when you're making a presentation. But not jokes. I only know two jokes and both are dirty.
"I'm not a consultant by the way. Make that very clear. A consultant knows
59 ways to have sex but doesn't have anyone to do it with."
His next assertion takes the breath away. "I'm an introvert, not an extrovert."
"I have dyslexia. Don't worry, it's not contagious. I have a very short attention span. But I can think logically.
"In school our homework papers would always be handed back with the one with the least mistakes first. Bender's paper was always the bloddy last. Very depressing.
"Salespeople in Switzerland have very low status. I came here and got into sales and I didn't even want to tell my parents.
But I was rookie of the year and I was sent to a Dale Carnegie course. I went very reluctantly. And I learned one very important thing. To everything there is a system.
"I was lucky. I was a natural salesman. But the D.C. course opened my eyes. It taught me that selling is a system, it's not something you just do.
"And it's not luck. You have to look for what comes next. You have to be ready to jump. You have to take a risk."
Which is where his "un-Swissnes" comes in.
"I don't want to knock Switzerland. They have the highest per capita income in the world. They have everything to live with, and nothing to live for. They don't smile much.
"Their first question is, 'What did your dad do?' Let's face it, even her it's better if your dad is a doctor and your mother is a social worker than if you dad is an alcoholic and your mother's a hooker.'
"But if you can't make it in Canada, you can't make it anywhere.
"Your typical Swiss doesn't leave Switzerland."
Bender doens't forsee a day when he won't be looking, jumping, taking risks.
"I told Frances, my wife, that, sure, I'll get retired. Two days before the funeral.
"If you give me $2 million and say, 'Bender you can't work any more,' I'll give you the money back.
© Peter Urs Bender
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