The Five Traits of an MVP: How All-Stars Maximize Their Value

by Linda Kester September/October 2018
Determining the present value of equipment is common in our industry, but measuring your own value isn’t always that easy. Linda Kester explores the five traits of MVPs and demonstrates how these employees elevate their entire team.

The first MVP awarded in North American sports can be traced back to the early 1900s. A group of sportswriters met after the 1911 baseball season to determine the “most important and useful players to the club and to the league”. These athletes would receive The Chalmers Award, named for Hugh Chalmers, a car manufacturer who wanted to increase sales of his Chalmers Model 30 automobiles. The first recipients were Ty Cobb, playing for the Detroit Tigers, and Frank Schulte of the Chicago Cubs. Unfortunately, the award didn’t result in higher car sales, and in 1915, it was discontinued. Today’s version of Major League Baseball’s MVP award started in 1931.

The NBA, NHL and NFL all have most valuable player awards. Wayne Gretzky is on top of the leader-board. His nine MVPs are more than any other athlete in professional sports. Second place goes to baseball’s Barry Bonds with seven awards. The NBA named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar an MVP a record six times. Peyton Manning is the biggest MVP award winner in football with five wins, and we can’t forget that football also names a Super Bowl MVP. This year’s recipient, Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles, made history by being the first player ever to both throw and catch a touchdown in one Super Bowl.

Each of these athletes provided enormous value to his team. In equipment finance, we talk a lot about the value of equipment use or net present value. Increasing your present value to the organization you work for is one of the best goals you can have. Mignon McLaughin, an author known for publishing memorable expressions, wrote, “Every day of our lives we are on the verge of making those slight changes that would make all the difference.” Here are five ideas that could make all the difference in becoming the MVP of your equipment finance organization.


MVPs are adaptable, resourceful and, as this issue of Monitor demonstrates, not only found in sports. MVPs exist in every aspect of life. In the civil rights movement, my vote for MVP would be Martin Luther King Jr.

When King wrote his speech for the March on Washington in 1963, the words “I have a dream” were not included. He was delivering the speech in front of 200,000 people when legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson called out, “Tell them about the dream, Martin.” She had heard King speak before, and she wanted him to include the story. He was only given five minutes to speak, and the speech had to be submitted and approved in advance. After Jackson called out, he talked about having his dream, which is arguably one of the most remembered lines from any speech ever given. Because King had already delivered hundreds of speeches on civil rights, he was able to be versatile, think on his feet and deliver words that are now part of American history.

To develop versatility, immerse yourself in the equipment finance industry. Keeping up isn’t enough. You must be ahead of the curve. Learning, growing and anticipating change are key.


MVP Gretzky not only scored the most goals in a season — his record of 92 goals in 1982 still stands today — he also holds the record for assisting with goals. He has more assists than anyone else in NHL history. His 1,963 career assists are 714 more than any other player. It’s likely that this record will never be broken. Gretzky said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” To assist your organization think like Gretzky and ask yourself, what are the next steps for the growth of this company and how can I prepare for it? Who can you assist in your organization? Who can you help without looking for anything in return?

A simple way to be of assistance is giving your full attention to the person in front of you. This shows that you value them. Lifting up a team member who recently made a mistake is another option. Tell them you know they meant well instead of using their blunder as an opportunity to feel superior.


Payton Manning has been called the “General on the Field”. He ran the offence for both the Indianapolis Colts and the Denver Broncos. Completely focused, he called the plays and was a true leader.

Even if you are not in a quarterback or management position, you can still exhibit the skills of a leader. When I talk to salespeople about this, they are quick to label their problems as time management issues, which is not true. Priority management is the real issue for salespeople who often have a lot of busy work. Every activity is not a top priority. Crossing 35 items off your to-do list doesn’t prove you’re successful, it just shows that you’re busy. Becoming a leader is about narrowing your list of priorities and realizing success is far more achievable by accomplishing one or two major things, than by plodding through every task.

Leaders don’t accept mediocrity, and they are filled with passion, determination and grit. Demonstrate that you are constantly looking for ways to improve/invest in yourself and don’t settle for less.

Unwavering Commitment

Vince Lombardi once said, “The man on the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.”

Imagine every member of your sales team is completely committed to the same vision. Can you even imagine it? Unwavering commitment fosters camaraderie, trust and caring; these are the ingredients an equipment finance group needs to put in the mix to be effective.

Committed employees work through conflicts and resolve obstacles. They challenge each other to take the next step.

Continually ask yourself two questions: “What is most important?” and “What’s next?’ To succeed at a high level, commit to getting the most important things done today. Lombardi didn’t say, “Maybe I’ll work on that tomorrow.” He said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”


I initially wrote about excellence for this final tip, but I changed my mind because excellence is broad and differs from job to job. Then I started writing about enthusiasm, but enthusiasm is easy and many times, it’s fleeting. The real measure of an MVP is her long-term endurance. People with endurance truly believe their goals are important. They show up, follow through and stick it out, even when things look bleak.

Without endurance, you end up spending too much energy on the little things, like getting one deal approved or complaining about interest rates. With endurance, you focus on what’s important, not what’s right in front of you.

Becoming an MVP is living up to your potential. One of the best things you can do for your company and for your life is to live up to your potential. If you settle for mediocrity, the people around you think, “She’s not prospecting. She’s logging on to Facebook, so I can do it, too.” Work on becoming an MVP and you will inevitably improve your entire team.

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