Authority of Passion

Have you ever been in a love relationship with a person that treats you well, seems to get everything about you, and finishes your sentences but realized that you’re not “in love” with him/her? Everyone questions your reasoning in this scenario. How could you leave such an awesome guy? He’s so great! If you don’t want him, I’ll take him! Since no one seems to understand, you begin to question your own thought process and determine that something is wrong with you so you stick it out. The question is do you go all the way, putting your greatest effort in or do you muddle through?

The relationship that you have with your work, is very similar. Being happy in the workplace takes more than just having perks, the “right” culture, perfect working hours, and a great boss. As a matter of fact, none of those things will matter without passion. Think of a love life filled with flowers, candy, romantic cards, and Tiffany bracelets but no passion; some people will derive temporary satisfaction from the trinkets while others would be mired down by the lack of fulfillment. For my male readers, think of a $100 meal at an upscale restaurant with beautiful presentation but airline portions. A bowl of cereal would be more satisfying. Your career is the meal and you should leave the table everyday with a full belly, having gorged because you just couldn’t seem to get enough.

After writing my last article https://madsaleswoman.wordpress.com/2013/07/22/with-women-like-this-who-needs-men-emies/, I reviewed the many conversations that I have had with individuals who have expressed job dissatisfaction: the barista at the high end coffee shop, the new graduate interning, experienced professionals with industry tenure and realized that all of their unhappiness boiled down to the feeling of emptiness. It may sound like a hippy moment, all of this feeling and necessity to connect but it’s the truth. We all have missions and drivers and when we work outside of them it’s tougher to identify the purpose and remain productive. This could be in regard to your place of employment, career choice, or professional path.

In the “good ole days” people went to work, produced and went home. Work was merely a means of survival and support for most people and that tradition was often passed down through generations. Everyone punched a time clock (they still exist, I know) and reported for duty to their respective departments. Expectations of overwhelming joy or fulfillment were not the prevailing thought of the day. It was about getting the job done for the perceived greater good and if you were lucky, receiving a gold watch and pat on the back (but at least there were corporate pension plans at most levels).

As time moved on specific cultural changes impacted that vision. Increased industrialization transitioned the balance of the workforce from manual based positions and higher education became more accessible, changing the dreamscape. Enter a re-imagining of the work world and in marched the hippies, the yuppies, the wall street fund managers, and ultimately the Silicon Valley innovators with their brand new idea of culture and passion fulfillment. The passion of others continue to directly impact the corporate visions of today. Nick Swinmurn’s idea combined with Tony Hsieh’s leadership, innovation and passion led to the success of Zappos, a company that hires based on commitment, ideas and the energy that an employee can bring to the business at all levels (from customer service to the C-suite).

Yes, things have changed and those same things have crafted the rose colored expectations of today’s professionals, Gen-X and younger–self included. The bulk of the current workforce and those that will run the show over the next 30 years is composed of people who are taught to use education as a way to fulfill a dream and reach the highest level of potential, yet they are viewed as “job hoppers, ungrateful or even irresponsible” for seeking their passions rather than waiting on the gold watch (which I could factually argue no longer exists). This leads to the personal feelings of disappointment that so many professionals feel but can’t identify. My feelings?

There is no authority greater than passion. NONE. While you attempt to avoid the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else, it will hang in the background waiting for the exact moment to tap you on the shoulder. I picture unfulfilled passion as the “mayhem” character from the Allstate commercial, he’s patiently waiting for you to let your guard down . The more you attempt to avoid the understanding that you “should be doing something else”, the more pronounced the thought will become. Passion is an authoritative dictator. It will determine your level of success or failure, impact how people perceive you, and most importantly, Passion will dictate your level of success or failure.. Passion becomes the embodiment of your professional happiness. And it can do all of this without you realizing it!

How do you pay passion the respect it’s due?

     1) Re-evaluate your career often. Taking stock of your career options and opportunities is a required personal responsibility. When looking at your current position it’s important to understand how it plays into your future plans or goal. Reviewing the job you’re in doesn’t make you a disloyal employee it’s make you a competent professional and can actually enhance your performance in your current role. Failing to analyze your career can lead to missteps and prolonged dissatisfaction.

     2) Know the difference between contentment and fulfillment (satisfied/peaceful vs. realized (accomplished). Part of my mission is to have moments of contentment but periods of fulfillment. I can be content with a signed contract, a new prospect or a daily “win” but I refuse to rest on my laurels or languish in the moment. Instead I suggest consistently seeking new paths to travel and challenges to overcome, which will help you determine if you are in the right role/environment or need to make changes.

     3) Understand your brand/who you are. This step requires a unique level of honesty that will be tough but totally self preserving in the end. Be willing to assess where you fit, what you need to change to fit elsewhere, what your strengths are and what you are capable of in the moment. Do this early and often, as they say, and you won’t have to “prepare” an elevator pitch, you’ll always have one handy. Be careful with this step: Self awareness is the best marketing tool but it shouldn’t be the reason that you talk yourself out of following your passion.  It will help you determine what tools you have to get there and what others you’ll need to develop to start or get further.

     4) Be comfortable taking risks. The things that people typically consider their passion is also the thing that they perceive as most risky: starting a business, quitting their job to travel, writing a book, etc. The more time you have put into #3, the easier it will become to embrace chance. Most of us operate in the comfort zone without realizing that not taking a risk is risky in itself. Having prepared yourself will mitigate some of the potential impact and create the self-assured mindset necessary to “jump out there”.

These are just four steps to begin the recognition and pursuit of passion, I’m sure that many spiritualists, gurus and writers have other ideas and I wouldn’t say their wrong but I’ll sum it up with someone who has demonstrated an ability to pursue her mission and redefine herself consistently:  Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.Oprah Winfrey

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If You Live Off Love You’ll Starve To Death

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It’s definitely been a long day when I’m quoting the patriarch of Duck Dynasty but I have to tell you the man leaves behind little gems of wisdom that can’t be ignored. In this case he was referencing the danger of marrying a woman who can’t cook so I’ll ignore the old school nature of his conversation and focus on why it caught my attention.

A recent article noted sales as one of the top global careers for 2013. While many would be surprised at this, I’m not. Sales is consistently in the short list of growing career fields for a number of reasons but rarely noted as the career of choice for new professionals and college grads.  Instead, it’s often a career of last resort.   The reputation of being a salesperson combined with the inherent (and perceived) financial risk of selling is a deterrent for many.  Seasoned professionals with all of the skills and talent to transition to sales don’t want to take the risk because they have experienced the stability of a “guaranteed” paycheck while new job seekers often don’t view it as a career and have been trained to concentrate their search on a “stable” position with solid income, or even more interesting, SOMETHING THEY LOVE.

I’m a proponent of following your passions (seriously, I write three blogs on subjects that I enjoy) but you can’t always start out living off love.  If you’re in the small percentage of people with an immediate means to your endgame whether it’s creative, scientific or otherwise, cheers to you!  What about the larger portion of the population that is experiencing the effects of a struggling economy and the resulting stagnant hiring market?  Are you sitting around waiting impatiently as you search for the career of your dreams or are you weighing your options and keeping an open mind?   If you don’t want to starve to death, I’ll tell you how to identify a path to your vision through sales.

In a December Forbes article the top 18  professions were listed (I know, why not make it an even 20?).  Number 7 on the list was Sales Representatives for wholesale, manufacturing, technical and scientific roles.   An interesting note, the subcategories represented 3 of the top 7 categories.  Basically, sales was number 7 but “top jobs” 1, 4 and 6 were all Technical or Scientific positions.  I know there are a lot of facts and figures and the logic of someone with a greater degree of book education than me BUT in my mind that actually moved sales to a reasonable 4 on the list–don’t try to figure out my math, just go with me here or use the number you’d like!

That’s my Forbes argument for why I believe Sales makes sense as a career, but I have a few other reasons why it’s more than just a “respectable” option.  I believe that EVERYONE with the right personality can go into sales and stave off starvation but even more do something you love, here’s why:

1) Sales fits into any field of interest.   One of the most successful headhunters that I had the opportunity to interact with was a science geek first and foremost.  He had a chemistry background and all of the stereotypical traits of a scientist.  His cutting wit allowed him to be more people oriented than the standard “nose in a book” research scientist but he had all of the knowledge necessary to do so.  Most scientists at entry levels don’t make the kind of money that he needed for the lifestyle that he wanted but sales reps can!  Enter the sexy world of BioPharmaceuticals in the late 90’s/early 2000’s and he could talk science all day with candidates and flex his educational muscle with Chief Scientific Officers.  Industry Exclusion: ZERO   Sales: ONE

2)Personality Can Often (safely) Override Experience.  Personality is important when you visit a physician but bedside can’t compensate for education.  You can’t hire a physician based on personality and no technical training but you the necessary character traits can translate into a rock star sales candidate–that might be you.  This absolutely doesn’t mean that intelligence isn’t a requirement, it definitely is, however lack of educational and practical experience aren’t disqualifiers in the sales world.  While great sales managers are proud and unwilling to accept “any old slacker” they usually have the flexibility to see worthy hiring potential without checking off every tick mark for the HR perfect candidate.  Experience: ZERO   Sales: TWO

3)If you have a hobby you can sell.  When you love something enough you can talk about it for hours.  Men, particularly, do a great job of getting together over their hobbies and in turn translating it to business opportunities.  Rather than just making it fun, monetize it, make it employment not just enjoyment.  I realized that I had interest in the stock market during my high school economics courses and dabbled via personal trading sites–you know you love that little baby.  This hobby helped me when I was approached regarding a stint selling Investor Relations tools and products.  I knew enough about the financial market that combined with on the job training made me comfortable targeting CEO and CFO’s of publicly traded companies.  What do you enjoy?  Which companies should you be targeting in that specific world?  Transition Inhibition: Zero  Sales: Three

4) Do you have an extensive verbal repertoire?  My son is a cellist.  He’s got the skill set to play ANYTHING and that’s just what I encourage him to do.  Why should Bach be the only composer you know well when there are modern composers that offer you an opportunity to expand your book of knowledge?  I love to walk in the house and hear him playing Coldplay as much Chopin.  That’s the kind of person that can make a home in sales.  If you answer jeopardy questions, read a variety of books, and have natural curiosity that should translate well into knowing a little about a lot, a key component to becoming a successful salesperson.  You always want to have knowledge about the product you’re selling but your client will be more interested in speaking to you if YOU’RE ACTUALLY INTERESTING!  There is nothing I won’t talk about (within professional reason) and if I’m not experienced on the topic I can work Google search results into my conversation seamlessly.  Master of Trade over Jack of All Trades: Zero   Sales: Four

When it’s all said and done the skill, will and thrill sales environment isn’t for everyone but there are many people who miss out on great opportunities because they haven’t considered the career potential in sales.  Exploring the option could lead to your happy, happy, happy career moments (sorry another Duck Commander reference).

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Selling Vodka to Christians (or why I’m insanely proud to be a Saleswoman!)

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So, I’m not the mad saleswoman because I’m angry or incensed, I love what I do too much to wrestle with anger.  Madness is how I define my reckless love for sales; the passion and frenetic energy surrounding all things sales related.  To phrase it succinctly, I approach my sales career with an unmatched enthusiasm, attacking my target with an overpowering zeal for outcomes.  Sales isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am.  I AM  A SALESWOMAN.

I don’t run from the title and I never apologize for it.  When I hear a person in the sales industry try to explain away their profession and soften it up, I laugh, because it tells me that they haven’t reached the level of success necessary to give them comfort in what they do.  They still run from being identified with their career and haven’t reconciled that being a salesperson isn’t a bad thing because they may identify sales as a negative word.

You will never hear me justify my profession because I know all of the positives.  I know that being in sales, with historic results, means that I create relationships.  People like me enough to talk to me and that validates all those years of being a great student with report card comments that frankly said “she is a little chatterbox”.  I also don’t apologize for being a saleswoman because it confirms that I’m a great listener.  As much as I love to talk it’s usually in response to something that I’ve heard, so at the end of the day my conversation is always about you and WHO DOESN’T LOVE THAT!

For all of the fancy titles that I’ve had, Account Executive, National Account Executive, National Business Development Executive, and on and on, at the end of the day I’m a “salesgirl”.  Internally I still get a rush when my C-level contact picks up the phone on the first, second or third try and  I still have a click your heels, “yippee” moment when I seal a deal.  It always feels new and my career keeps me young and feeds my need for consistent change.  I’m in sales.

Successful salespeople need to be optimists.   I’m not a daily zodiac reader but optimism is a Virgo characteristic.  I am optimistic because of an innate belief in other people and helping them.  Serving others and taking action feels cathartic to me and there’ s no better place to do those things than in the sales universe .

Being useful while demonstrating my strengths is important to how I view my success, sales allows those traits prominently without people viewing you as a braggart.  Where else could you be a proud show pony without being a supermodel–or an actual show pony.  You know the part of the Olympics that you have to stay up late to see but can’t turn from, dressage, its impressive!  There’s this powerful beast displaying a natural grace that you just can’t help but watch.  Sales at its best is a graceful game.  You have to have strategic and tactical expertise, straightforward and deliberately coy.  Sales satisfies my inner sexy beast and my external girly girl all at once.

Wildly successful salespeople are smart…trust me.  I’ve spent my career speaking to intelligent people.  I have sold to CFO’s of publicly traded companies and large private organizations, scientists at start-up biotech firms, nurses working in nationally ranked hospitals, and executives looking to make career changes.  Typically everyone that I have sold to has known more about their brand or industry than I have but my passion for what I do and confidence in my intellect have NEVER let me down.  Combine smarts with a “good talk game” and in my mind, you’re set!

I am maniacally obsessed with the artful psychology of sales.  You have to demonstrate intelligence without being condescending, know a lot but not always talk a lot, be a genuinely concerned listener and in tune with the person on the other end of the phone or other side of the desk.  Everyone starts out believing that they can’t be sold and I agree.  You couldn’t sell vodka to a Christian but you could sell vodka to a Christian who is stranded in the desert.  Surely, even he wouldn’t turn down liquids in his position (lighten up).  There’s a difference between the person without the need, the person with the need but no pain, and the person that is drowning in the pain of his need.  Identifying the three and prioritizing them is the ability that is inherent only to the best sales people.  Or someone who thinks like a salesperson in all cases (and if you do, you should seek out a sales career).

I’m mad about what I do.  Energetically obsessed with my career.  Focused on my personal brand and confident that no one does it like me.  You should find something that you feel this passionate about and GO DO IT!

Don’t Be a Victim Charlie Brown

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*Three things that you should know before you proceed:  First, this isn’t for those of you with Charlie Brown collectibles.  Believe me, you just won’t get it and you may feel a little judged.  Secondly, I consider Charlie Brown to be a poor role model but a great confirmation of valuable life lessons! Third, I still get the same goofy grin on my face when ABC announces the holiday line up and I will continue to watch (so should you).   If you’re still interested, come with me:

CHARLIE BROWN IS A PROBLEM!

It feels good to get that off my chest.  After burying this blog piece deep in the draft bin for months I now feel removed enough from sappy holiday emotions to say what’s on my mind.

So here we go, four lessons that are validated through the life of Charlie Brown:

1) Mediocrity is a choice and a direct connection to self esteem.  This is demonstrated multiple times during It’s The Great Pumpkin…no less than when Charlie Brown chooses to attend Violet’s Halloween party after being told he was accidentally invited (Lucy informs him that he was on the “don’t invite” list).  Hs lack of self esteem ironically doesn’t allow him to protect himself from the poor treatment issued by others but instead leads him to walk right into their path, seeking acceptance from people who may not even deserve his friendship.  He’s willing to accept the bare minimum from other people.  Even worse, he shows his willingness to just get by in his costume selection; selecting the easiest costume, screwing it up and refusing to start from scratch. Now you’re the “ghost” with 18 eyeholes.  Oh, if only Mr. Schulz had written in an invisibility option, it would have been a better choice.

2) When people show you who they are, believe them!  In the comic strip and during various specials Lucy clearly demonstrates that her entire mission in life is to be Ol’ Chuck’s foil.  His weakness is the exact opposite of the rule; he believes that when Lucy treats him poorly that this is the exception to whom she really is.  He can’t reconcile that she loves to see him down!  Whether it’s after his fake out during the placekick or when she’s charging him 5 cents to degrade him at her booth (he pays a person who clearly doesn’t like him to give him advice), his failure is her success! In the off chance that Lucy decides to throw Charlie a bone and show him a little kindness she makes sure that she reminds him of all of his faults only seconds later.  Even when people lie their consistent actions tell the truth about who they are—believe them!

3) You are the company you keep.   I don’t have a particular gripe against Linus.  Let’s face it, he’s dealing with issues that are deep, considering that he has absentee parents and is left to be ignored by his abusive sister with his only comfort being his blanket and his spineless best friend.  Put all of that aside and focus on the greater problem, yep, you guessed it, Charlie Brown!  He is clearly older than Linus with their only commonality being that they have no show of force.  Why does he choose to spend all of his valuable free time with Linus?  We could say it’s his chance to assert himself and be the leader or we could refer back to Lesson #1.  Charlie has access to a creative and assertive ally in his dog Snoopy, however, man’s best friend must have heard rule #3 because he seeks his companionship with those more closely aligned with his perceived station or higher (he often is the most intelligent of the humans he emulates).

When individuals that are crafty and creative attempt to get closer to him–ahem Peppermint Patty–he is clearly disturbed by it.  C’mon a chick that could get people to call her “sir” in the 1950’s is most obviously a boss!  He could use a little of her chutzpah.  Schroeder is a creative genius but he doesn’t want the taint of association with Charlie. Would anyone have taken Mozart seriously if he schlepped around with a thumb sucking, blanket toting friend and a prematurely bald whiner?

4) You teach people how to treat you.  This is along the lines of rule #2. In the somewhat obscure You’re a Good Sport, Charlie Brown,  Lucy snatches the football out of Charlie’s path twice!  She asked him twice because she knew she could and that he would.  During the process of this humiliation, Peppermint Patty hits Chuck up for cash, inviting him to participate in a bike race with the winning prize being Pro Bowl tickets that “she has won”.  He ultimately wins the race and the prize which turns out to be 5 free haircuts (little known fact-his dad is a barber, obvious fact–he has no hair).  Bottom line, he is the easiest target because he is a willing target.

I could have written an article about Chuck’s eternal optimism, belief in the human race, and acceptance of others but those lessons have been opined before I’m sure.  As entertainment value and purposeful avoidance of Lesson #1 this was a much better approach for me.

To leave on a positive note,  when Charlie wins the bike race and is disappointed with his reward, Linus removes his thumb from his mouth for some interesting words of wisdom reminding him that, ‘winning against overwhelming odds is much more important than the reward at the end’.

Although as a saleswoman I might take issue with that statement too.