OTS 158 | Lessons From Canton Fair


What do you get when you put entrepreneurs and factories in one place together? A whole lot of innovation and magic. In this episode, host Timothy Bush reveals the five lessons he learned at the Canton Fair, a biannual trade show for factories in China to exhibit their capabilities in producing. He shares the wisdom he learned from attending the event with fellow entrepreneurs and the magic that came out of seeing entrepreneurial opportunities come to life. Learn some golden nuggets from Timothy about negotiating, seizing opportunities, finding your people, and more!

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The 5 Lessons I Learned At The Canton Fair

I’m glad to be here and to be talking to you. I don’t know what you’re doing. I don’t know where you are and I don’t need to know. All I need to know is that you’re ready. You’re ready to go to school. You’re ready to learn something. You’re ready to take your business to the next level. I hear a lot of people saying, “Are you better today than you were yesterday?” How many of you guys ask yourself that question? You wake up in the morning and you say, “Am I better today than I was yesterday? Am I doing things differently based on what I learned yesterday?” I don’t know. I don’t ask myself that question often and I’m going to start to do it more regularly. I don’t want to wake up in the morning and say, “No, I’m as sucky as I was yesterday. I’m no better than I was yesterday. I didn’t learn anything yesterday that’s going to help me be better today.”

The alternative of that question is actually quite distracting. If we’re not making ourselves better every day then what are we doing? What is happening? The reason I don’t ask myself that question is because I don’t want to hear the answer. Nobody wants to hear the answer. Nobody wants to say, “No, I’m not making myself better. I ate a whole bag of chips yesterday. I went out for pizza. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t do this. I didn’t do that.” I’m sure there are handful of you out there that are crushing it. You’re so much better today than you were yesterday but for me, the knowledge of that information is making me not want to ask that question, which also leads to something else I’ve been reading about a lot lately, which is tracking.

The more you track the stuff you do, the more information you’re going to have, the more it’s going to lead you to want to be better. Nobody wants to continue to track the fact that they’re not doing well. They are not making it happen. I’m putting that challenge out to you Big Boxers. I’m going to say, let’s together start asking ourselves the question, “Are you better today than you were yesterday?” Even if it’s one little thing that’s better than it was yesterday. Please come along with me on that journey. We’ll check in with each other. We can do it on social media. In fact, let’s make it a 30-day challenge.

That’s going to make it hard going through the holidays. You can do one little thing. Let’s say you’re one thing that you did yesterday was journal. You might went out and partied. You had a New Year’s Eve party, you did all these things but you journaled. By journaling, you’re better today than you were yesterday. It could be one little thing. Let’s do a 30-day better than you were yesterday challenge. Is everybody up for that? I’m going to put this out on my Facebook group. If you’re not part of the closed Facebook group called On The Shelf “Now”, please go be part of that. That’s where we’re going to talk about this. That’s where the challenge is going to start. That’s where we’re going to start tracking our progress.

The Canton Fair Experience

I didn’t even know that we were going to do this 30-day challenge before I started this podcast. This is brand new to me. I’m going to take parts of this and I’m going to be starting a YouTube channel. I will be putting it on there. Most of you know that with The Canton Fair Experience, I went to China and we met about 25 entrepreneurs in there. Their stories are going to be coming up on here on future episodes. What they got out of that experience is going to be coming up. They went through an eight-week course and that culminated in a trip to China to come up with that price and source their brand-new product that they’re going to launch. That’s part of what this The Canton Fair Experience is all about. I had never been to China and it was an experience for me.

It was nineteen-hour flight from here to Dallas, Dallas to Beijing and Beijing to Guangzhou. It’s three legs and nineteen hours. You’ve got to leave two days before you even want to be there. We all met in China and I spent about ten days there going through phase two of The Canton Fair. If you don’t know what The Canton Fair is, it is a three-phase trade show, but it’s a trade show for factories. All these factories that you hear about, “Made in China.” There are factories attached to everything that’s made in China and these factories come together in a big fair and they exhibit their capabilities in pretty much anything that you could think about getting made or produced or created can be done by one of the factories that’s going to be at this trade show.

Everybody that’s making something in China is going to The Canton Fair to either see if they can get it done more cost effectively or talk to their factory, do a factory visit or see what’s there. It was a tremendous experience. I learned a lot of things, but I’m going to break it down. I’m going to put it in a list for you about the five things that I took away from the experience of The Canton Fair Experience course in the time I spent with the entrepreneurs that were there. First let me say, the 25 entrepreneurs that went to this and paid for the course and went to China were tremendous people. People of unbelievable character and it was my privilege and honor to work with them on their goals and their dreams.

These are people that are currently not satisfied with where their life is going and have taken it on themselves to change that and to be part of that journey, to spend time with people that are on the brink of changing their lives. It was life-changing for me. I did not want to leave it. Interestingly enough, when you meet people online, you spend time with them week over week, you see each other on Zoom and then you finally meet face-to-face. It’s not like you don’t know each other. You’ve never shaken hands or hugged or seeing each other except for maybe your headshot or the view of your head on Zoom. For us, it was a homecoming. It was a reunion. It was like we’ve known each other for years and the time that we spent there was very fulfilling.

Silence Is Golden

On to the list. Number one is silence is golden. I know that you’ve read or if you haven’t read, you should have or I’ve talked about in the sales process, when you’re selling to a buyer and you make your pitch or you tell them your price or you do anything that is going to create a reaction. The next person who speaks is generally in the weaker position. Let’s say you’re doing your pitch with a buyer and you tell them all your product and you say it’s $1,299 and then you stop and then you let a couple of seconds go by and then you start selling again. You are now in the weaker position. Silence is sometimes so powerful. That’s why when you give the buyer the price, you have to stay silent even if it becomes uncomfortable because they know this too. They need to speak first and then you can react to what they say.

With that concept in mind, we went to China. Instead of negotiating and talking to buyers, we were talking to factories. Steven Selikoff who is one of the leaders and cofounders of The Canton Fair experience is an expert negotiator. He is unbelievable. He put on a clinic down there that was going back to school. When you watch Steven execute the silence rule, it is unreal. The results of it can be unreal when he’s talking about, “You have to tell a factory maybe ten times what you want your price to be. I’m trying to get to $3.” “We can’t do that. This is too much. You are trying a highway robbery?” You’ll say, “I’ve got to get to $3. That’s the cost I need because I want my customers be happy and you to be happy,” and then you shut up.

The more you track the stuff you do, the more information you're going to have, and the more it's going to lead you to want to be better. Click To Tweet

Sometimes that silence goes a long time, but it’s effective. Sometimes you have to know when to stop selling. You have to know when to stop negotiating. Sometimes you have to know when to keep your mouth shut and let the other person speak. If you speak before they do, you don’t know what you’re speaking about. You give a price. I need my price to be $3. You give it a couple seconds and then you say something, “What are you actually saying right now?” Most likely you’re babbling and it’s because you’re nervous, “Is that too low? Am I way too low? Am I ever going to get that price?”

You’re nervous and so you start to speak. That’s when the person sitting across the table know they have you. They know they can literally bring that price up quite substantially at this point, but if you say $3 and you stopped talking, you start flipping through your book. You start looking around like you’re ready to take off and you let it go. Keep letting the silence go. That scene from Braveheart, when Mel Gibson is like, “Hold.” That’s what you’re doing. You’re holding and see what happens. The next time you’re in a negotiation and you put out your final price, just be silent and see what happens. I think you’re going to see something good. I saw it time and time again. I still used it. I use it in front of buyers. You’re going to like the results of that.

Expand Your Comfort Zone

If you need more help with negotiation, you can always reach out to me. I can put you in touch with Steven. He can help you directly with how to master negotiate pretty much anything. Number two is expand your comfort zone. I talked to a lot of people. I told them I was going to China. They’re like, “I’d never go to China.” I’m thinking to myself, “Why would you even say that? Why would you say I’d never go to China?” You don’t know anything about China. You’ve never been to China. Why would you say, “I’d never go?” The reason they say this it’s not in their comfort zone. They’re not big in travel. They don’t want to squat over the little pot hole in the ground toilets.

If you don’t expand your comfort zone, if you don’t go beyond where you think you should or could or need to go, then you’re not going to get to the places you want to get to. Greatness and entrepreneurial excellence do not come from standing in your comfort zone. I did not make that rule. That’s not my rule. It doesn’t happen. A lot of the entrepreneurs that went to The Canton Fair were women. A lot of them were from Australia. A lot of them have never been out of Australia before. Here they are leaving their families, their husbands or kids, they’re jumping on a plane, going to China for the very first time. Do you think that they were outside their comfort zone? Yeah. You can bet that they were. They told me so, but it didn’t stop them.

They didn’t get to the edge of the circle of their comfort zone and stop. They got to the edge of the circle and they crushed it. They jumped over it. They went through it. They busted directly over it. I don’t even know what that means, but they didn’t let it stop them. Those are the people that are going to launch a product. Those are the people that are going to be successful. Those are going to change their lives. It doesn’t happen inside your tiny little circle. That’s not where it’s happening. I want you to close your eyes. I’m talking to you. Close your eyes and I want you to think for a minute about something that you know you need to do in your business, but it’s outside your comfort zone. It’s not in your circle. That’s what you need to do. That’s what you have to go for. Don’t wait.

OTS 158 | Lessons From Canton Fair
Lessons From Canton Fair: Sometimes, you have to know when to stop selling and let the other person speak.


When I thought about starting a podcast back in 2015, I didn’t know anything about it. I took a little course on Udemy.com with a guy named Scott Patton. It was $19 for this course but the cool thing was this Scott’s course took me step by step through everything I needed to know. It wasn’t hard, but it was a little bit outside my comfort zone. I do presentations in front of people. I’m not afraid to talk to people. When you talk in front of a mic and you don’t have an audience, you don’t know what people are thinking. You’re getting no reaction. Nobody’s shaking their head. Nobody’s going, “I get you. I get what you’re saying. I’m right there with you.”

When you don’t hear that or see that, it’s difficult. You’re sending out energy into the universe. None of that energy is coming back and sometimes it comes back in little pieces. You hear from your big box audience and they tell you, “Something you said resonated with me.” That is a shot of energy and that helps, but it’s not immediate. It’s not happening right now as I’m speaking. I didn’t know whether this would be a good thing or bad thing, but I stepped over that line and I went for it. Here we are in 2019, still at it. I’m still working with you. I have audience that were there at the very beginning.

I have audience that just come on. There may be some of you out there might be reading my blog for the very first time right now. I guarantee you, if you go back and read to episode one, it’s not going to sound like this. It’s not going to sound bad. It’s not going to sound like this because it was different back then. I was different. Expand your comfort zone. Nothing amazing, nothing revolutionary. Nothing of super substance is going to happen inside your comfort zone. It’s going to be comfort. This is a hard one for me, this next one. I don’t like to admit that I’m wrong.

Acknowledge Your Mistakes And Move On

Number three is acknowledge your mistakes and move on. A lot of these entrepreneurs that I met had tried and failed. They had tried products that did horrible, but they’re past that now and they’re doing something else and they’re trying again. For me, I don’t often admit that it even is a mistake. What happens is I can’t move on. I can’t let it go because it never was a mistake in my mind. It was somebody else. Somebody else ruined it for me. It was somebody else’s fault. What I learned from these people, what they gave to me was, don’t be afraid to look that mistake in the eye. You say, “That’s right, I’m looking right at you. I realize I screwed up. I made the wrong call. I did the wrong thing. I turned the wrong way. I didn’t have the right information. I didn’t do the right amount of research. I didn’t do my due diligence. I screwed up.”

When you look at it and maybe you’re going to have to do it in the mirror, maybe you’re going to have to stand in the mirror and say, “That’s right. I’m looking at you and I screwed up. I made the wrong call. I did the wrong thing. I trusted the wrong person, but it wasn’t that person’s fault.” It wasn’t anybody else, it’s you. You got to take accountability for it. If you don’t know how to take accountability for your life, go listen to Jocko Willink. Listen to Jocko Podcast. He’ll teach you how to take accountability. Here’s the second part of it. Once you’ve acknowledged it, once you’ve admitted it, it’s like standing up and “I have a problem.” Once you’ve admitted it, you’ve got to let it go. You’ve got to let it wash away. You can’t hold onto it. Admitting it is the first part. I feel like we’re an AA here. Admitting it is the first part, but the second part is letting it go so that you can move on.

Excellence does not come from standing in your comfort zone. Click To Tweet

Any biography that you read about anybody that did anything significant has failed more than once. How many times that turned into a light bulb? I don’t even know, but he didn’t give up when it didn’t work the first time he admitted, “It didn’t work. I’m moving on.” Be with me, learn how to acknowledge your mistake. Look it in the eye. Don’t be afraid of it. It’s not going to hurt you. Admitting it, looking at it, understanding what you did wrong is not going to hurt you. It’s only going to make you better and then let it go. Toss it away. That’s what I learned and I didn’t learn it on my own. I didn’t come to this epiphany sitting out on a rock somewhere. I was taught that by these entrepreneurs. They taught that to me and I’m grateful, sincerely.

Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People

Number four, who are you surrounding yourselves with? Why did we have such a good time in China? Why was it so easy? We were with each other literally from breakfast at 7:30 until we all retired about midnight every single day. Why could we spend that much time together? Why were we so eager to constantly, see each other the next day for breakfast? “How’s it going? I left you eight hours ago.” It’s because we were all interested in the same thing. We’re all going the same direction. We were all trying to improve our lives. When you surround yourself with people that are doing the same thing, wanting the same thing, looking to go where you’re looking to go, then all the sudden you want to be around those people because they lift you up. They don’t tear you down.

You’re entrepreneurs. I know that my audience are entrepreneurs. They’re trying to do something different. They are trying to make products that will change people’s lives, but I know that there are people that you associate with that think you’re crazy. You think you’re going to make it into Target? You think you’re going to make it into Costco? There are already 100 of those out there. Everybody’s making that. You know what I’m talking about. Those people that you hang around with. It may even be your parents that are telling you you’re not going to make it. You can’t hang around with those people. I’m not telling you to get rid of your parents or anything, but I’m telling you, choose to spend your time with people that are trying to go in the same direction you’re going.

By the way, I’m not talking about people that tell you what you want to hear. I’m actually talking about the opposite of that because people that are going in the direction that you’re going. People that want the same things that you want, those people will tell you the truth. They don’t want you to get there and have it not be what you want. These people are honest. They care about you. They care your dreams, they’re not going to steer you wrong. They’re not going to tell you things are fluffy when they’re not. They’re not going to discard you. You go online and you ask a question to people that are in the same boat as you going in the same direction. You’re going to get a lot of people that aren’t stop what they’re doing. They’re going to answer your question because they care about what you’re doing.

I want you to think about who you spend your time with. Who do you listen to? Are they making you better or are they holding you back? When I got home, my wife asked me, she said, “You sounded like you had such a good time. Like you didn’t want to leave.” I wanted to come back and see my family but I didn’t want to leave. It’s not because I didn’t want to come home. I didn’t want to leave because we had such a camaraderie. We were helping each other. That’s how you know that it’s real. That’s how you know that these people are pushing you forward. They’re not holding you back because you want to see him again and again. People that are telling you things that are holding you back, you don’t want to see those people. You’re forced to do it or maybe you’re conditioned to do it where you don’t know any better.

OTS 158 | Lessons From Canton Fair
Lessons From Canton Fair: If you don’t expand your comfort zone, then you’re not going to get to the places you want to get to.


You start thinking of yourself, “I am crazy. Maybe I shouldn’t do this. Maybe I shouldn’t make that order. Am I going to go bankrupt? Is everything going to fall down on my head? Maybe Johnny’s right. Maybe she’d go get a regular job like everybody else.” You wouldn’t be reading this blog if you want it to be like everybody else. Entrepreneurship is not easy. If it was, everybody would do it. It’s hard. It’s scary. At times, it’s dark and it’s lonely. Spend your time with some people that know what that feels like. Spend your time with some people that have been in the dark, been lonely and been the only ones that think that they are going to make it through. Spend some time with those people. You’re going to find out that they’d been where you’re at and they can help lift you up. Maybe they can even teach you something and maybe even you can teach them something. We all have experiences.

This whole blog is full of my personal experiences in business, in getting products into retail. These are not things I learned in a book. I might have learned them in a book first, but then I tried them. Maybe they worked, maybe they didn’t. You’re on this blog right now, not because you want me to send you fluffy things and tell you where everything’s going to be okay and tuck you into bed. You’re here because you need concrete information from somebody who’s done it, who knows it, who’s been there and who’s been where you were at. If you want to know information about sitting in a room in front of the Walmart buyer, you’re in the right place. Who are you surrounding yourselves with? I’m interested to hear from you about that.

Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Goals

Number five, our last one. By the way, I thought long and hard about these five. I didn’t come back from China and rip off this podcast thing. I learned some cool things and this is what I learned. I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and letting things roll around in my brain. This last one just came to me, which is why I’m doing this. I was waiting for the fifth thing and it hit me and I want to share it with you. It’s don’t lose sight of your goals, where you want to go, where you want to get to. All of you out there have taken steps. You’re doing something, you’re pushing yourself forward. When you learn something new, let’s say if you were coming back from even from this Canton Fair Experience, your life is waiting for you. It’s standing there. When you get off the plane, it jumps on you. Every part of your life jumps back on you.

It’s easy to lose sight what you’re doing, where you’re going, what’s next? What’s next after that? It’s easy to lose sight and I don’t want that for you. I don’t want that for any of the entrepreneurs that came to us to Canton, to China. I don’t want you to lose sight of what it felt like to understand that your goals were right there. You could finally see them. You could reach out, you could almost touch it. Don’t lose sight of that feeling. Think about that every day. What it felt like to know that now your goals were within your grasp. Not that it’s not going to be hard. Not that you don’t have to work for it, but you have the knowledge, the expertise. You’ve gone now and you’ve taken that last hurdle.

You found your product, you found the factory and now you’re moving forward. For you, Big Boxers, here who haven’t been through Canton, I don’t know what you’re going through. I don’t know what you’ve now come onto the other side of, but when you started this journey, when you started the journey of deciding that you were going to get a product into retail, you had a goal. You had a vision and you had a thought process of what it was going to be like. Have you lost sight of that? Do you think about that every single day or if things slowed down for you, things gotten cold? Your passion is not as is burning as it was. I don’t know.

Choose to spend your time with people that are trying to go in the same direction you're going. Click To Tweet

Please, if you want to share with me, I encourage you to do that. You can share with me on email if you don’t want to put it in social media. You can write to me at Tim@TLBConsulting.com and Tim@OnTheShelfNow.com. Both will get to me. Hopefully my editors didn’t edit out that silence because that silence is golden like my first thing talking about. I want you to think about it. What was burning you up when you started this journey? What were you passionate about when you started this journey? Are you still passionate? Do you still have a burning desire? Has it gone cold and how can we heat it up? How can we get it going again? I have audience out there that have sent me their first product, “Tim, what do you think?”

We talk about a little bit and then I don’t hear from them for a while. For instance, before I left for China, I heard from our Big Box audience and he was like, “Tim, my second prototype is in the house. I want to send you one.” I hadn’t heard from this guy in months, but he’s working, his passion is still as lit as it ever was about what he’s doing. I can’t wait until he’s ready to launch his product and I can tell you what it is and what he’s doing but he’s working. When he’s not talking to me, his fire is still lit. What do we need to do to get your fire lit if it’s not? What do we need to do to get your pilot light fired back up? Don’t lose sight of the things that started this journey for you.

Number one is silence is golden. Number two is expand your comfort zone. Number three is acknowledge your mistakes and move on. Number four, who are you spending or surrounding yourselves with? Spending your time with or surrounding yourselves with? Number five is don’t lose sight of the things that were in your mind when you started this journey. I am in each of your corner. I want you all to succeed. There’s enough room on this planet for us all to crush it. Don’t worry if somebody else is doing the same thing as you. They’re not you. Your thing will be different in your own way.

You have me in your corner and if you ever need to reach out, you know that I’m here for you. If you haven’t been to the new TLB Consulting website, please go check it out. It’s not completely done. I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve been traveling a tremendous amount and there’s still some things to be completed on there, but we’re getting to it. If you want to talk, I have a whole new coaching section that you can go to, book a coaching call right there. There’s a Mastermind page in there that’s going to talk about our Masterclasses that are coming up. It’s all brand new. The new TLB consulting website is designed to be all inclusive on all things TLB. All things, getting your products into retail.

Everything that we do has the end goal of getting your product into retail. Masterminds, Consulting, Total Sales Solutions, Work with Tim and the podcast. They’re all designed for that one specific reason. That’s all I have for you is my insight on the China trip. If you’ve checked the Facebook page, you’ll see an excerpt on a seminar that I did in Brazil. We’ll be talking about that on and off, but check the Facebook page for that. We worked with about 120 different companies in Brazil on how to get their products into the US. ECRM was a big part of that. My folks at ECRM are key to getting people’s products into retail. That was a great experience. We’ll be talking about that more as the time goes on. Check us out on the Facebook closed group. Go sign, join that because that’s where the challenge, that’s where the, “Are you better today than you were yesterday?” challenge comes from. That’s where we’re going to be talking about that.

We will probably have at least 1 or 2 more podcasts before the holidays but I want to take this opportunity to start off the holiday season. We’re through Black Friday, we’re through Cyber Monday. It’s time to hit the stores and start shopping for the Hanukkah or Christmas holiday or whatever it is you’re out there celebrating. I wish for you that you enjoy this time, that you enjoy the holidays, that you spend some time with friends, some time with family and have some good food. Don’t let the holidays go by without eating some good food. You may see part of this on YouTube, but I look forward to talking to you again soon. Until then, I look forward to senior products On The Shelf.


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