Fields of Stone

Rolling hills, sacred space carved by God’s hand

High ground, a fitting journey’s end for soldiers,

Spills life into the flowing Mississippi below.

A tree here, a bench there, a flag playing in the wind

The smell of early, fresh-cut grass watered by tears

Silence is the loudest sound here because

Loud words taste bitter in this solemn place

The touch of a soft and steady breeze

God’s sweet breath, a reminder—He is always here.

Streets with heroes’ names run like veins through these hills

They guide the parade of mourners to the stones.


Stones cut from God’s earth and carved by man

Sun-bleached, stained by time, standing tall—like

Silent sentinels guarding the brave that rest below.

Dressed and covered in death as in life

Some 20,000 strong this army of stone.

Stones that know the names over whom they watch—

Otto, Gary, Bobby, Howard, George, Willie

Uncle, father, son, brother, grandpa

Private Combs, Sergeant White, Lt. Scott, Capt. Gillis.

Stones that tell the story of the heroes in their shadows

Purple hearts, bronze stars, a Medal of Honor.

They came from distant places to rest here—

Gettysburg, Argonne Forest, Normandy, Pusan, Khe Sanh, Falluja, Kandahar

So many wars, so many stones.

Here lie dreams of what might have been—

A sweetheart sleeps, the father who never saw his child, a song never sung.


To these fields of stone loved ones come to grieve

They tag the stones—Gone too soon, Gentle giant, See you soon, BFF

For all that rest here, “Job well done.”

The things they leave behind, tokens of love, memories for the living—

Flowers, golf balls, family pictures, Holy cards, a pin wheel spinning in the breeze.

I want to leave but can’t.

I want to stay longer, grieve some more, pray once more for their souls.

I must thank God again, but by His holy grace, I’ve yet to own my stone.

For The Joy of Sales

Find a job you like, and you will never work a day in your life.

Teachers, career counselors, and motivational speakers have shared this nugget from antiquity with students, job seekers, and dissatisfied workers. It is sage advice. Having spent four decades in the sales profession, I can attest to its validity for salespeople.

For some people, sales is a calling and then a career. For other people, sales is an entry-level position into business. After the trial period, it may become a launching pad for something else. For some people, sales is a proving ground to see if they can make it in the marketing field. For Liberal Arts Majors, Sales is a way to assimilate into a world they may not have planned to join. How people arrive in this profession doesn’t matter. Sales is an exciting career for those who want to risk the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the business world. For most people, there is no greater challenge in business than succeeding in the role of a rainmaker.

Sales offers a way to serve others, solve problems, and build relationships. Some sales positions offers the opportunity to travel to places most people would not visit on their own. This broadens their perspectives. Sales demands that salespeople set aside their own biases to see the world in others’ terms, which results in personal growth. This transcendent quality of sales is reinforced as salespeople become part of a team that creates value for their companies and customers. Value creation is a meaningful experience for everyone. Salespeople have the privilege of experiencing this daily.

Sales allows salespeople to test their mettle. If salespeople have a compensation plan that involves an incentive for performing, they are paid what they are worth. Sales is the one true meritocracy in business. That’s why it motivates salespeople. There are no participation awards in sales. There are no third-place trophies. There is no simply going through the motions. Order-takers soon discover their companies and customers want more than a warm body in a hot territory.

The starkest reality and most exciting dynamic of sales is that salespeople are paid to make sales, not calls.

Salespeople must produce or perish. Some people are intimidated by this reality, and that’s okay. There are many other ways for those people to create value for their companies. Those people who make sales a career understand the reality of producing and are motivated by the challenge.

Whether Confucius, Mark Twain, or a Princeton Professor coined the opening quote doesn’t matter. It is sound advice. Finding something that is enjoyable to do and doing it with great pride and effectiveness is a prescription for success in any profession. It is absolutely true for salespeople.

Tom Reilly is literally the guy who wrote the book on Value-Added Selling (McGraw-Hill).

The Greatest Motivator of All

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. (Mark Twain)

Your why empowers you to sustain any what you may encounter. Why fuels your passion. The day you discover your why is the most liberating day of your life. It allows you to abandon all of the non-why stuff. This enables you to focus on your true purpose, your why.

For salespeople, your why is to create value. Selling is a function of creating value. When you solve problems for customers, you create value for them. When you create value for your customers, it generally means you create value for your company. This is your why. Everything else is noise.

Passion sells. Enthusiasm is contagious. Knowledge is power. Your knowledge of how you create value inflames your passions. Share that passion with your customers. Let them feel the excitement of the value you create. Infuse your sales conversation with this enthusiasm.

If you have chosen sales as a career path, focus on your purpose, your why. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by all of the noise that will confuse you. Your why is to create value, not just move inventory. Your why is to make a difference, not just a deal. Your why is to help the customer find solutions, not just buy products.

Your why simplifies your life. If what you are doing does not fit your why, why are you doing it?

Tom Reilly is literally the guy who wrote the book on Value-Added Selling (McGraw-Hill).

Next Value-Added Selling public seminar is December 14-15, 2016. It is presented by Paul Reilly. Call to reserve your seat. 636-537-3360 or visit