A Road Full of Potholes

Each day as I’m making the trek to and from work it ends on a road that is chock full of potholes thanks to the abuse it takes from the commercial trucks making the same journey.  It’s quite interesting to watch all of the 4 wheel vehicles jockeying to avoid the massive potholes that are often side by side, veering into the other lane or snaking along to avoid the risk of a necessary realignment or new tires.  Every now and then they will notice that a new divot has formed but it’s too late to swerve and so the tires sink into this hard bed of disaster…such is life!

That’s right, such is life in the professional world.  Careers are rarely paths of straight, perfectly paved asphalt.  More often they are bending, winding, and pothole filled with a few fender benders along the way.  The difference is how we navigate and the impact that we allow the potholes to have on our vehicle.

There was a movie called, “Why Did I Get Married?” that was fairly popular a few years ago.  The title gives the obvious impression of what you will see for two hours.  Another movie that could easily be made is “Why did I Take This Job?”.  There are few guarantees in life and I would put jobs and companies at the top ten on the low guarantee list.  I often hear and have experienced the feeling of professionals struggling with a career choice made.  Some linger on choice, consistently reflecting on their “mistake”, while I EXPECT it to happen to everyone at least once and think it’s necessary for growth.

A recent graduate questioned his decision to accept a position with one engineering firm over another.  His reasons were numerous and genuine, his quest was the magic feeling that this was a guaranteed “right” decision.  My question was, “how do you know that something is a sure thing?”   His response: “That’s my problem, I never feel ‘sure’.  Maybe he was looking for too much.  The Oprah Aha moment doesn’t come in every situation!  Just about every decision we make is based on a combination of what we know (research, etc.)  with a healthy dose of what we feel: intuition, emotion, gut feeling, an inkling…whatever you want to call it!  The facts that you know are based merely on the information that you have.  When it comes to career decisions, after you’ve read Glassdoor reviews, interviewed the employer, spoken to other employees (a rarity in today’s corporate climate), and weighed your options the finality is based on “your gut”.  You ask for assistance from friends and families and  they will give you advice but more often than not you’ll hear “what’s your gut telling you?” or “go with your gut!”  By the way, going with your gut is obviously popular since the phrase results in 186,000,000 Google results, at press time….just saying.

The decision to study one major over another during college is rarely based on the fact that this is what you’ll want to do for the rest of your life, it’s the fact that it’s something that interests you wrapped in the feeling that you want to do this.  How many of us are actually doing what we planned to do as 17-year-old high school graduates?  Even more interesting is how few of us stick with the major that we chose during our freshmen year….did we panic? For the most part, I would say no.  Our youthful energy and flexibility convinced us that change was okay and we didn’t have to have a sure thing.  Why is that so hard to accept with a career decision?

If you’re struggling with what you want to be when you grow up, BE COMFORTED, at some stage in the game most of us will (or are)–many times over.  We will evaluate and re-evaluate at different stages in our lives, based on our renewed needs and focus.  What works at 21 will not at 35 and again at 50.  Know this and in the meantime:  Take risks, Trust Your Gut, Make Decisions, and Don’t Look Back!  If things don’t pan out as perfectly as you planned…rinse, wash, repeat.

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

NYLIC

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!