“Optimal Performance Before High-Pressure Moments” With Lance Tyson & Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

My preparation strategies vary based on the type of high-pressure situation. For example, I like to listen to classical music before I prepare for a board meeting. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Beethoven or Mozart, but the music does help to clear and calm my mind. As a part of […]

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My preparation strategies vary based on the type of high-pressure situation. For example, I like to listen to classical music before I prepare for a board meeting. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Beethoven or Mozart, but the music does help to clear and calm my mind.

As a part of our series about “Optimal Performance Before High-Pressure Moments,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lance Tyson.

A natural-born industry leader, Lance Tyson, is an authority in the sales world with a passion for developing influential business leaders. Lance has worked with some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment, including the Madison Square Garden and the Dallas Cowboys.

After leaving school to start his first business, Lance began working for Dale Carnegie Training. He rose through the ranks, eventually building the most successful Dale Carnegie Training operation in North America and #2 in the world. After a fifteen-year run, Lance sold his interest in the Dale Carnegie Training franchise to form a new company, Tyson Group. The focus of the Tyson Group is to evaluate sales teams and propose solutions, delivering results that make sense for the organization’s needs. Tyson Group is not just a company that provides training — they are a partner that offers solutions.

The industry leader in sales training, development, and management, Lance Tyson, is passionate about sharing his knowledge with others to help them achieve sales success in today’s erratic, ever-changing marketplace. He has led countless workshops, trainings, and keynote presentations for audiences of all sizes. With decades of experience in his field, Lance can present on any topic in sales and leadership with authority.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

Igrew up in Conshohocken and outside of the greater Philadelphia area. We had moved eight times by the time I was in 10th grade, so I was always the new kid. Being the new kid forced me to learn how to make friends and develop connections quickly — which has served me well as an adult. Though stability can be beneficial for kids, that experience gave me much more of an edge than anything else in life. I’ve always had to learn to accept change and be agile even if I wasn’t always on sure footing.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career as an entrepreneur or business leader? We’d love to hear the story.

I’ve always had this strong desire to be in business for myself, but the entrepreneurial bug bit me through my dad. He owned a very successful septic tank company, as well as a contracting business. Over the years, he went out of business, and like a true entrepreneur, rebuilt his companies to even more success than before.

Throughout that time, my dad always told me three things. The first was, “You’re never going to make any money working for somebody else. You have two arms, two legs, and a good head. You can do anything anybody else can do.” The second was, “Take care of the little things, and the big things take care of themselves.” His third favorite quote was, “The world is your oyster, so go be entrepreneurial.”

So that’s what I did! We lived across the street from the football stadium, where the local high school teams would hold their games. I used to make soft pretzels in my mom’s oven, buy off-brand soda from the local grocery store, and stand on the corner selling my concessions for pennies on the dollar. It wasn’t long before the stadium’s concession stand noticed I was undercutting their sales and had me kicked off the corner.

That didn’t deter my entrepreneurial efforts. I quit school during my senior year of college to start an import/export business — that’s how entrepreneurial I was. In fact, I still have my old letterhead. The company was called Lancet International. As I was trying to sell my services, one of the companies I was pitching to wanted to hire me as their salesperson.

After that, I worked for a couple of other companies for short stints of time and found my way to Dale Carnegie Training. I started working for Dale Carnegie Training, and within two years, I bought into the business. Later, I sold my shares, and haven’t worked for anybody else since.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

In 1996, I was the Director of Sales for Dale Carnegie training in Philadelphia. The man that hired me, Mark, was everything I wanted to be. He was handsome, a great public speaker, a fantastic salesperson, and an effective manager. One day, he asked me to grab a bite to eat with him because he wanted to talk to me. I was thrilled to spend any minute I could learning from him. The conversation went differently than I had anticipated.

He told me, “I have good news, and I have bad news.” So I said, “Okay, hit me with the bad news.” He went on to tell me that he was selling the Dale Carnegie business in Philadelphia. So I said, “Okay, now tell me the good news.” He explained that he had planned to take me with him to St. Louis. However, the buyer, Sam Iorio, didn’t want to purchase the Philly branch unless I was a part of the deal.

I never really thought I was that critical to the success of the company; being a significant part of the negotiation was flattering. I was young at the time — mid-twenties and three months away from marrying my beautiful wife, Lisa. Moving from Philadelphia to St. Louis was a big decision to make, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Not too long after, Sam asked me if I would introduce him to some of my clients and spend some time with him to get to know me better. When we pulled up to Spectra Graphics — a printing company, and my biggest client at the time — he asked me what I wanted to do with my career. I replied, “I’ll be honest with you, Sam, I want to be somebody like you. I want to end up owning one of these franchises.”

He then asked me if I was leaning towards staying in Philadelphia or moving to St. Louis. At the time, I was leaning towards St. Louis; I knew Mark very well, he had helped propel me, and it was a new and exciting environment. When I said this to Sam, he told me, “You’re going to be successful whether you go to St. Louis or stay here. The decision you need to make is this: do you want to be successful around strangers, or do you want to be successful surrounded by friends and family?” I thought about that for a while. He asked me again, “So, what do you want to do?” I repeated that I wanted to be like him. That day, sitting in his car, he promised me that he would make sure I owned one of the franchises — and he stuck to his word. Within two years, he sold me 25% of his business — the same percentage he sold to his children.

A year after I had bought into the business, I told him that I wanted to go off on my own. He then helped me buy the Cleveland Dale Carnegie operation and divest out of his company. He delivered on every promise he ever made to me.

Sam Iorio taught me how to be a leader. He taught me how to be a successful businessperson. He always used to say, “In business, sales are the showerhead and expenses are the drain. The showerhead needs to be bigger than the drain. That’s all you need to know.” I run my current business, Tyson Group, using that method to this day. He taught me how to keep score. If you walked into the Tyson Group today, you’d see that we keep score every week; we score how much business has come in every week.

Outside of my dad, Sam Iorio is the person I give credit to for helping me get to where I am today.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Around the same time, I had finally got my foot in the door with this huge company named Asplundh. If you haven’t heard of them before, they have these orange and black trucks, and they cut trees back from power lines. Asplundh was in my territory. I drove past their massive global headquarters every single day. I just kept thinking to myself, “I have to get in there.”

I called the company so many times, I prospected them, and I finally had this great meeting with a man named Billy Roach. We had our first meeting, and we hit it off! During that meeting, he explained how vitally important the “little things” are to Asplundh when working with any vendor. Everything from the delivery of my proposal to the content itself would be evaluated. I told him I understood. He thought my proposal was great, so he set up a second meeting between me and the company’s decision-makers.

On the day of the meeting, I walked in with this proposal deck I worked on for hours — this was the biggest sale I was ever going to make at that point. We sat down, and I handed out the proposals. It was a very formal proposal process, so I listed Billy’s name on the first page.

I opened up the meeting, I was facilitating it well, and as I pull up the proposal deck, Billy stops me. He said, “Excuse me, Lance, I just want to let you know that whether we choose you to be our vendor or not, the little things are everything. You and I talked about how important this is. On your proposal deck, you have me down as ‘William Roach.’ My name is Billy Roach. It’s a family name. It was my grandfather’s name. Billy, not William.”

I can’t say that that was the exact reason I didn’t get the job, but it sure didn’t help. I didn’t listen. And you know what? Names are important. Names are the most important sound in any language. So, that’s my greatest lesson.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

  1. Every time I rushed, I made my biggest mistakes.
  2. Only share your goals and aspirations with people you trust to encourage you to reach them.
  3. Never abdicate total responsibility to someone without checks and balances. Know your business.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Believe it or not, my go-to sales guru has always been Dr. Seuss. Oh, The Places You’ll Go is one of my favorite books because it has a lesson for everything. Whether it’s about mental health, getting yourself out of a slump, or motivating you to reach your goals. I read it to my kids throughout their lives, and I gift it to everyone I know when they graduate high school or college.

I can pretty much recite the book cover to cover, but I’ll just share my favorite quote: “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” It’s inspirational but doesn’t guarantee success. It deals with stress, worry, making choices, handling setbacks…I think it’s the best leadership book ever.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.”

I learned early on as an entrepreneur that you can have all the desire in the world to win, but if you have nothing to back it up, you’ll never get there. You need to put the time in to prepare. I have this quote hanging on a sign in my office as a constant reminder.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

The world of sales and training has changed dramatically. One of the most interesting shifts we’ve had to make since the pandemic hit has been turning a previously human-to-human business into a human and technology business. COVID forced us to take a fresh approach to sales leadership. We realized virtual sales training in a world where most sales professionals are now conducting business remotely, is vital for success.

Recently, Selling Power Magazine recognized Tyson Group as one of the Top 20 Online Sales Training Companies in the nation. The shift to virtually training sales teams across the country has been equally challenging as it has been rewarding for our clients and our organization.

Okay, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. As a business leader, you likely often face high-stakes situations that involve a lot of pressure. Most of us tend to wither in the face of such pressure and stress. Can you share with our readers three or four strategies that you use to cope with the burden of stress?

There’s no doubt that COVID has created more stress than usual. Since the pandemic started, I’ve found that keeping a strict morning routine has been vital to managing the burden of stress. When I wake up, the first thing I do is exercise — I move for at least 20 minutes every morning. After my workout, I meditate. The third part of my morning routine is journaling. I write down what my goals are for that day and how I am going to achieve them.

Keeping this routine helps me clear my mind and gives me a plan of attack for the day.

Aside from being able to deal with the burden of stress, can you share with our readers three or four strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high-pressure, high-stress situations?

My preparation strategies vary based on the type of high-pressure situation. For example, I like to listen to classical music before I prepare for a board meeting. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t tell you the difference between Beethoven or Mozart, but the music does help to clear and calm my mind.

When preparing for a strategic planning session with my team, I like to listen to movie scores or podcasts, such as Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness. The intensity of a score and the entrepreneurial insights from podcasts are highly motivating for me.

Closing a competitive deal calls for rap and rock n’ roll. My favorite songs to listen to when preparing for situations like these are…

“The Choice is Yours” — Black Sheep

“Slam” — Onyx

“Sabotage” — The Beastie Boys

“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” — The Rolling Stones

Listening to any of those songs always gives me the energy and focus I need to close a deal.

Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques, meditations, or visualizations to help optimize yourself? If you do, we’d love to hear about it.

I practice two types of meditations. First, I meditate on what I am grateful for. It doesn’t matter if they are big things or seemingly small things; I take time to focus on my gratitude. Then, I do a body scan. Body scanning involves paying attention to the body’s parts in a gradual sequence from head to foot. I imagine a white light flowing through every part of my body — from my brain, lungs, spine, bones, and muscles. This helps me release the tension I didn’t even realize I was experiencing.

Also, I recite two affirmations aloud ten times a day. One of them is, “Every day, in every way, I get stronger in my mind, body, faith, finances, business, and interactions.” The second is, “I strategize, plan, and execute. I’m a great entrepreneur and a top CEO.”

After I say my affirmations, I end by reciting a poem that not only defines my sales philosophy for Tyson Group but defines my philosophy for life.

In the battle that goes on through life,

I ask for a field that’s fair;

A chance that is equal with all in strife

A courage to do and to dare;

And if I should win, let it be by the code,

With my strength and honor held high;

And if I should lose, let me stand by the road

And cheer as the winners go by.

Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus and clear away distractions?

My hack for complete and total focus is called the Pomodoro Technique. Pomodoro is a time management method that was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally about 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks.

By attentively focusing on something for 25 minutes at a time, you can achieve substantial productivity results. So, when I go for a walk in the morning, I go for 25 minutes. I journal for 25 minutes at a time. If I need to sit down and work on a project, I set my timer for 25 minutes and focus on nothing else but the task at hand. Once the 25 minutes are over, I take a break for 5 minutes, reset my timer, and do it all over again until it’s complete.

We all know the importance of good habits. How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Besides my daily routine of exercise, meditation, journaling, and affirmations, I have developed a specific method for my to-do lists. Before I explain, I’d like first to mention that I don’t believe in time management. You can’t manage time — it’s a misnomer. We have 86,400 seconds and 1,440 minutes in a day; all we can do is make good choices about spending them.

Every day, I take out a piece of paper, and on one side, I write out my schedule. On the back, I write down everything that needs to get done. Often, the to-do side of the paper will have 20+ line items. Instead of trying to squeeze in all 20 tasks, I evaluate my list and pick the top 5 most profitable tasks and complete those before making my way through the rest of the list. The following morning, I tear up the list and throw it away. Yesterday came and went; I can’t go backward.

What is the best way to develop great habits for optimal performance? How can one stop bad habits?

My philosophy for developing great habits stems from Albert E. N. Gray’s quote, “The common denominator of success…lies in the fact that he or she formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.” If we were attributing this principle to exercising, for example, an unsuccessful person would think, “I have to run for that long? I have to exercise for that many days a week?” A successful person would think, “So, I have to run to exhaustion a few days a week, and I’ll achieve my health goals? Great!”

Essentially, those who are successful are concerned with pleasing results, while unsuccessful ones are concerned about pleasing methods.

As a business leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I mentioned earlier that I journal every day. Part of that journaling involves writing my desired outcome for any personal or professional situation. I write down my current state, my desired outcome, and how I will achieve it. Doing this brings me clarity, and clarity gives me Flow.

Okay, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

As the founder of a training company, I highly value education. I’d love to train young entrepreneurs in every aspect of creating and sustaining a profitable and successful business. I want to give the next generation of entrepreneurs and business owners a head start by teaching them the things no one tells you about when you’re first starting.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Without a doubt, Jon Taffer or Marcus Lemonis.

Jon’s attention to detail and his ability to resurrect struggling businesses is inspiring. Like Marcus, Jon is a fixer; he fixes things. I always tell people to watch Jon’s and Marcus’ shows if they want to learn about business. In fact, we use Marcus’ people + process + product philosophy at Tyson Group.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

To learn more about Tyson Group and how we can help your sales team hone a unique process to bring you consistent success, visit

You can get your copy of my new best-selling book, Igniting Sales EQ, by visiting

Visit to schedule a free sales assessment with a Tyson Group sales leader, and receive a custom interview guide (that will help you hire faster, with less turnover, and increase sales) as well as a free copy of my best-selling book, Selling Is an Away Game.

Keep up with me on social:

Instagram: @lance_tyson_1

Twitter: @lancetyson

Facebook: @LanceTysonOfficial


Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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