Suezy Proctor

Adventurer, Business Leader, Author, Speaker

"I’ve lived enough to realize there is no reason to be frightened, and if you find yourself in a frightening situation, just know that others before you have experienced whatever it is and lived through it".

Suezy is a professional speech coach to individuals and groups, and a keynote speaker in the areas of personal and professional development. She was awarded AUSA’s Sixth Region President’s Medal for distinguished service to the Army, its Soldiers and family members, and to AUSA and its Sixth Region; a Presidential Citation from Toastmasters International to acknowledge outstanding contributions to the organization; and Financial Pacific Corporation’s President’s Award for outstanding contributions to the success and culture of the company.

Currently, Suezy is the Military/Federal Government Sales Manager for J L Darling Corporation, makers of Rite in the Rain All Weather Writing Products, in Tacoma Washington. She is the author of Marching Orders for the Military Sales Professional, and in the process of writing a memoir. She is also a certified wedding officiate. Her hobbies include nature photography, kayaking, and caving.

1. What is adventure to you?

Adventure to me is saying yes to the unknown. Maybe it’s something I’ve never seen, heard of or experienced before. Or, maybe it is something I have done, but now can appreciate the experience in a whole new way…seeing it through a life-lived lens. And, the adventure of studying, planning, preparing and executing – it gets my blood racing and mind reeling. I have imaginary conversations with people I might encounter, and imagine the sights I might see. OH! My mind just won’t stop. I can’t wait. Come on…Let’s go!

2. What is the most adventurous thing you've ever done?

I hiked the Sierra Madres mountains from NE to SE of Puerto Vallarta with little more than the clothes on my back, a machete to clear the path, (possibly to protect myself from monkeys, wild pigs, panthers, snakes and bandits) a small back pack with water, little bit of food, insect repellant, sunscreen. No cell phones in those days. I visited a small village of Huichol Indians and stayed for a couple days. I observed many girls and women working on intricate beadwork. Dinner was cooked on an open fire pit surrounded by wide and deep flat-topped rocks for cooking tortillas and heating other foods. The men cooked an iguana on spear over the coals. They had something like a burlap sack that they occasionally soaked with water and covered the iguana, to smoke the meat. They pounded the spines of a large broad leaf…like from a banana tree…and placed milky-almost translucent white bug larvae collected from between the bark of a tree in the middle of the leaf, tossed in some cilantro-like herbs, squeezed juice from an unknown fruit, and folded the leaf over the larvae like an envelope and stuck it in the coals. When everything was ready to eat, the bug larvae looked like creamy refried beans. They pulled strands of meat that almost fell off the skeleton of the iguana on its own. The tortilla was used to scoop up the “beans”. That, along with some fresh fruit, and local ricea (fermented fruit-tequilla-like drink) and hard boiled bird eggs was delicious.

3. What frightens you?

Only one thing sticks in my mind - a Roller Coaster - it’s just not going to happen. On a serious note, nothing frightens me. There is an old saying: there is nothing new under the sun. It’s true. One of my favorite sayings is this too shall pass. I’ve lived enough to realize there is no reason to be frightened, and if you find yourself in a frightening situation, just know that others before you have experienced whatever it is and lived through it. I’ve come out from the dark side on more than a few occasions and found refuge in the knowledge that all things are posible. Most of us have the capability to do anything we set our mind to. Most people opt for the road most travelled. They fear what they don’t know. I want to know what I don’t know, see what I’ve never seen, feel what I’ve never felt, hear what I’ve never heard, experience what I’ve never attempted, tasted what I’ve never eaten, and with that, fear has no room to take root. (Always curious)

4. What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?

I have overcome a lot of adversity and challenge in my life. My greatest achievement is that I came out in tact…..with a sound mind, without judgment, with love in my heart, joy filled, thankful, with right values, and it bears repeating…with love. Love is the greatest gift. Love overcomes. Love sustains. Love heals. Love breeds more love. It also removed the fear factor and gave me an appreciation of life in a profound way.

5. You have many years as a businesswoman and leader. What are the ingredients of a successful businesswoman?

This is hard to articulate. I know it is important to blend in. People work so hard to be “like everyone else” I would rather expend energy in being the best me I can be, and have others just be the best them they can be.

In my mind, successful people are:

  • Always curious.

  • They read for pleasure, they read to improve their game, they read to learn new things.

  • They balance work and play. (This is one area where it gets dicey…some people’s work is their play…they are living their dream.)

  • Some people think work is like a dirge, successful people see work as a privilege, and if they have to work so many hours a day, why not get as much out of it as they possibly can?

  • Successful people bring more to the table…they come ready to participate…they engage....they listen….they contribute…they ask questions. They follow up.

  • Know how to say yes to the really important things and no to things that have no relationship to their stated goals. They know their priorities - family, health, work, play, faith….whatever the mix

6. Is there still room in the economy for the up-start entrepreneur?

America’s story has always been the story of entrepreneurship — pioneering men and women taking great risks to realize a dream. (See question 13)

7. What makes a real leader (beyond the title on the door)?

To me, a real leader isn’t in it for glory or personal gain. A real leader mentors, guides, and gives to others so that they can take that leadership gift…in whatever form …and share it with others so the cycle is repeated. True leaders have a way of encouraging others to self-discovery. For me, the best leaders are flexible. They allow other ideas in. They encourage discussion and sharing of information. They empower their flock with the essential things they need to succeed and then stand back and watch their flock “go forth and multiply”. I heard someone say, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.”

8. What are the secrets of a great sales person?

In my mind, if you are a great sales person, you have no secrets.

  • The best sales people I know share the wisdom, and in kind, they receive others’ wisdom.

  • They network in a variety of ways to help their contacts (peers, colleagues, and customers alike).

  • They are better listeners than speakers, but when asked to speak, they answer the question the best way they know how.

  • They have a pulse. What I mean is that they have enthusiasm and energy that people are attracted to. I have a favorite saying…”Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn.” (John Wesley) It’s true. If you read the recommendations from my network of LinkedIn contacts, most of them remark on my enthusiasm and energy.

  • I have a saying: If you focus on the sale, you will fail. Sure, the sale is what it is all about, but I believe that making the customer and their needs be what it is all about. When you do that, you may sell more than you ever dreamed. Here’s a few things I do:

    • Note the spouse’s name, how many kids, what they like to do, where has the customer been professionally, where does the customer want to be in the next 5-10 years. What’s the most pressing issue for the customer now?

    • In military sales, it is not uncommon that the customer deploys leaving the family behind. The wife may be expecting. There may be a death of a family member, or a tornado/flood, hurricane, fire, etc., in their home town. There may be a championship won by a child, a marathon run by any family…something…some event that is remarkable, and the deployed soldier is not there to support or celebrate with loved ones. When I find out about something like that, I tell my customer…I’ll send flowers, a card, have pizza delivered to the team…on my own nickel. I ask ….what do you want me to write on the card, and I write it for them, and send it along…with love and kisses and all that stuff, as if they wrote it themselves. I care about the whole customer – I think in terms of other ways to be of service to them than to meet a sales quota. Sales come, as well as cross referrals from the deployed customer and word of mouth by the spouse or family at home.

    • In my book, I speak about a mentor of mine who gave me some simple but valuable advice, “Go where they are, and they will come to you.” So, I go to lots of events, many on my own time. I volunteer time, resources and donations in a variety of ways. I am genuinely involved. It is not something I have to do, it is something I intuitively know is right and when “they” need something they come to me. And when they don’t need something, they send someone who does. It is mutually rewarding and beneficial.

    • This reciprocal kind of relationship is a beautiful thing. There are so many intangible benefits that must not be overlooked. My life has been enriched by my customers. It sounds so cheesy to call them customers, as many have grown close and become friends and some closer, like family. And it is true…summed up, my customers and colleagues alike have become my sales force….a fierce, competitive force on behalf of the company I represent and of me.

9. What is the importance of your "Must Do List" in life and business? In other words, why do we need to write it down?

We need to write it down, so that we can stay on course to reach our goals. Dr. Stephen Covey’s book, The 8th Habit, summed it up for me: The essence of this habit is that you will find your voice when you can say you are 100% involved with what you are doing in your life, so that your body, mind, heart and spirit are all engaged in whatever is important to you.

  • Focus on what is important – focus only on a few crucial goals.

  • Create a compelling scoreboard – people play differently when they are keeping score

  • Translate goals into specific actions – weekly and daily tasks

  • Hold each other accountable, all the time.

This book should be on your short list.

Another simple but fantastic book for learning how to achieve your sales success is: Eat That Frog, by Brian Tracy. He cuts to the core of what is vital to effective time management: decision, discipline and determination. In 21 practical steps, he will help you stop procrastinating and get more of the important tasks

10. Tell us about the importance of the Schmooze Factor (as mentioned in your book Marching Orders*).

Schmooze is vitally important, whether people like the term or not. We all do it, but few do it well. As I mention in my book, there’s no question in my mind about the difference between good sales people and great sales people. Our industry, as with any industry that involves sales, relies heavily on personal relationships. This is where the real work begins.

11. Is social media really important for the entrepreneur? What really works and what is a waste of time?

Social media can only be good when you are as good as you say you are. People are savvy. You need to live up to their expectations. Authenticity is vital. I need a take-away from the sites I visit. If I don’t find value, I will not return, there are just too many options. Whatever it is you have to offer the world, your target audience may not use the wide variety of social media to find you, so you need to get smart about the options and differences….see what other people in your field are using and find out how successful they are in using it. Joining a like-minded social media group in a discussion might be the best way to find those things out.

12. What experiences in your childhood led you to be such a strong woman?

As for many people - abandonment, isolation, dysfunctional family, abusive people, trauma and drama. A very strong survival instinct. And, with all of that, something harder to overcome - forgiveness.

13. What books did you read as a girl?

Early on, I loved true adventure, exploration, history and biographies. I was interested in how people overcame insurmountable situations, how they met adversity yet rose above it, how they set a goals and charted their course to achieve them. How they had to work with other people to be really successful. I wanted to know how other people live. I wanted to know about different parts of the world - their geography, food, flora, fauna, etc. These curiosities have never left me.

  • William O Douglas: Go East Young Man, East to Katahdin, Strange Lands and Friendly People, Nature’s Justice, Of Men and Mountains, My Wilderness, Beyond the High Himalaya

  • I loved the quirkiness of George Orwell: 1984, Animal Farm, Down and Out in Paris and London, Burmese Days

  • I devoured John Steinbeck’s books - The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, East of Eden, The Red Pony, Moon is Down, The Winter of Our Discontent, To a God Unknown, Working Days

  • Going West? Books about the Oregon Trail, Lewis & Clark Trail, biographies of great Indian chiefs and their struggles, women on the trails

  • WWII books….accounts of the war, espionage, spies, women warriors, underground movements, prison camps, ghettos, survivors and saviors

  • Great sea voyages: 7 Seas on a Shoestring (also called Sailing All Seas) by Dwight Long, and explorers like Shakleton, Cook, Amundson

14. What do you always pack in your suitcase?

Always - a picture of Dan. A couple of good books. Currently reading in the memoir genre, because I am writing a memoir. I always pack a great magazine...Success, Entrepreneur, Wired, Fast Company, The Economist, Martha, Real Simple, Sunset. I always have a couple of documentaries or more downloaded on my laptop. My camera and two charged batteries. A journal for a short trip, a couple for a longer trip.

15. What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

"Hold nothing back. Live and love with your whole heart."

16. What is your life motto? I have a few:

  • "If you can’t get out of it, Get into it!"

  • "Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." Calvin Coolidge

  • "Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn." John Wesley

*Suezy Proctor is the author of Marching Orders for the Military Sales Professional (see, our review of her book this month in the Armchair Adventurer). For more information about Suezy and her book go to