Who Is Praying For You? Relationships That Matter

relationship selling Mar 15, 2024

That's my Dad throwing me up in the air. I still remember the elation and that feeling of pure TRUST, that he would catch me every time.

My Dad is turning 84 this year.  He has worked in his family’s stone business since he was 15. He is dyslexic and was made to feel stupid in school, so he left early.  As he says himself – “I found my way in life once I got working with my hands”.  

He worked each day with his Dad, and his 2 uncles learning his craft as a Stone Mason.  From time to time travelling stone masons would work with them for a few months, they would help to carve Celtic Crosses and then move on to the next stone masons’ yard.

He discovered he was best at sales – loving the opportunity to hit the road and call to people’s houses, businesses, and the churches in his area.

Along with his brother Pat, he built the business from a business of 5 people to 120 people at its height.

I asked Dad recently if he believed in reincarnation.  His answer was that he believed in it happening naturally – like my son, Jack is so like me – that way, I am living on in Jack. 

He then went on to share something that I never knew about my Dad.  Something that really struck me as so rare and personal. 

He told me who he prays for….

…and the number of people that he prays for really hit me to my core.

He listed out about 60 people.  Some of whom are dead more than 40 years.  After mentioning his family, the first person he prays for is Regina Finn – who was his right hand in business for almost 40 years.  She was taken from this life too early in 2022.  He then prays for all her family to help them heal.   He also mentions his friends and people who died recently in the parish of Boyle.  

But what really struck me was the amount of people he prays for that were his or his Dad’s employees… People such as -

Jackie Lowe, Tommy Connolly, Batty Thorsley (40 years), PJ Carroll, Paddy Flaherty, Sunny Regan, Jerry Carney and John Travers – a wonderful stone carver, whose specialisation was carving the crucifixion.

These people were still in his heart and mind.

I asked him why was he praying for them decades later? What impact did they have on him that they were still in his prayers?   

His answer was –  RESPECT.

He worked with many of them in his youth, when he was learning the ropes.  He said “they were kind to me”.  He went for spins in the lorry with the lorry drivers – they were always good to him, “they showed me the way”.  

Their friendships came down to a mutual kindness and respect for each other.

Thinking about my Dad’s experience and comparing it to my early days in my career I’ve realised I had a similar experience.

I owe a lot to the people who helped to shape me into the type of sales leader I am today.  They really did inform my thought leadership approach and the way I do things. 

I am happy to say that 25 years later I am still in touch with so many of them.  I met with this bunch of lovely people last year and the year before.

Massive thanks to the people in my circle who were kind, respectful and so fun to work with as I learned the ropes!

@Joey Olivia – the person who first hired me into the hotel industry and gave me the opportunity to work with these amazing people – @Sheila Fonseca and @Marie Allen – my first managers.  They were always on the phone to clients, and I picked up that mindset from them.


@Dayna Zeitlin – who showed me how to really care about your team and get to know what is important to them personally not just in business. She invested in making our life goals happen too.

 @Sheila Foley – Her lovely Texan voice still rings in my ear - “It’s prime selling time girls – are you talking to your clients”?  Sheila really didn’t want to see me in the office much – it was my job to be out speaking with clients – having lunch, visiting their office, and having drinks in the evening with them.

@Tracie Lundquist Gunning – who I learned on my first sales call with her – not to take out the brochure – ever -  on your first call!  Focus on the person. 

The biggest lesson I learned from Tracie was to have a lot of fun in business - and we did, our clients loved lunch and cocktails with us. I had been very reserved at work before that, Tracie taught me that you didn’t have to keep your home and business life separate.  We are lifelong friends and Godmothers to each others children. 😊

@Matt Burns – The magic he shared with me was to show your creativity every day!  And the importance of checking in with someone – letting them know you care.  I didn’t realise how much he needed that at the time.

@Michael Perry was a mighty man for picking up the phone and talking to clients.  I learned never to send a proposal without speaking with the client first.  That was his magic.

@John Hopkins and @Jim McGuire who don’t know it probably – but I observed from them the importance of having real friends at work and putting time into getting to know them.  Jim was fond of breaking out into dance and song in the office – he really lit up the room in our central sales office!

@Mori Amiri – one of my first clients when I was a sales manager at @IHG, 25 years ago – is still a wonderful friend today. 

@Amy Infante – who was always prospecting!! I have got to know Amy more since we started our own businesses. She is a mentor today and someone I learn something from every time we talk. 

It is so important to have people like Amy in your circle. Sound, solid, practical advice – and always innovating.


Another very special client of mine at Omni Hotels was Frances.  She was 82 when I met her and I loved having conversations with her.  She retired a year after I left San Francisco when she was 85.  She had such zest for life.  I learned valuable lessons from her in the power of listening.  That was what she needed from me the most.

Katherine Hyman and John Simonich are sadly deceased, but their memory lives on for me.

Katherine was a ball of energy and fun in the office.  She really needed to be herself every day and I learned a lot from her in that regard.  She didn’t have an office persona and separate home persona.   She was Katherine every day.

When John Simonich said something – it was insightful.  I remember this so clearly –

“Selling hotel rooms is like selling perishable products – if you don’t sell a room for a night, then the opportunity is gone for ever.” 

An empty hotel or conference room was just like wasting food.

 Jane Watson whom I have lost touch with as it was pre-social media days when I worked with her at Ammirati Puris Lintas.  She was the first VP of Human Resources who hired me at an Advertising Agency in New York. She was a kind, kind lady who really respected people.  She had to let a lot of people go after the agency merged – on my first week there.  That was tough for her, but she did it leaving everyone with dignity and pride.  Being her HR Coordinator was my first job out of college.  I loved it.

-->> Fast forward 25 years, I wrote an article for HSMAI recently on Leading a Winning Sales Team.  I dedicate a lot of the success of sales leaders to these 2 attributes – kindness and respect.

In the article I expand on the keys to nurturing a winning team – regardless of their generation.  These are 3 areas to pay attention to.  Getting them right is the difference between teams giving their all whole heartedly or half heartedly.  Getting them right gives you the edge in customer loyalty and profitability.


  1. understand what is important to them – working on your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
  2. show you really care about them and be genuine about it.
  3. make training part of their DNA.

Understanding what is important to them involves a large slice of respect and kindness.

A great way to gain perspective on your team is to spend time thinking like them and see things from their perspective.  Get into their world. generation. I elaborate on these 3 points;

 Most sales leaders that I work with think they know their team quite well.  When I do an Empathy based team leadership Masterclass with them, many realize they don’t know their team as well as they thought.

The exercise reveals aspects of their relationship with their team that in many ways is the missing link between your team giving their all - whole heartedly or half heartedly.

If you lead a sales team and would like to chat about how to lead a winning sales team from the heart – with respect, kindness and trust – let’s talk. 

Building relationships with team players (and clients) that lasts more than a lifetime is a skill my Dad and my mentors have shared with me.

Action Point:

I offer 2 “Sales Gap Analysis” conversations each week to senior leaders of sales teams.  Find a suitable time in my calendar if you’d like to talk about your team of sales directors and leaders.   

This is the link.

I'd welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with you.

Thanks for reading!  Ciara


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