Let’s Talk About the “Ick” Factor of Sales

“In your life, you are the product. Which means you should be the best person at selling yourself.” I explain. “But that feels weird, and I can’t sell,” they exclaim with horror.

I had no less than three coaching calls over the last couple of weeks where I had to talk someone back from the “ick” reaction when it comes to sales. While each situation was a little different, all of them practically recoiled with horror at even the idea that they might be “selling” in some way shape or form. The reaction was even stronger when I suggested that they needed to imagine THEY were a product they were trying to sell.

Earlier this year I wrote, “You Are the Product: How to present yourself in a powerful & impelling way.” The article outlines five objectives you should consider when defining your role, your product to sell.

So what is it with this genuine dislike for the idea of selling? Since these conversations, I’ve been wondering why the stereotype of the “sleazy car sales guy” or that selling is somehow dishonest and tacky still persist. Fortuitously, the Time article “5 Tactics to Win a Negotiation, According to an FBI Agent” about negotiation showed up in my social media feed this morning. Continue reading “Let’s Talk About the “Ick” Factor of Sales”

What’s Your Medium?

I have a confession to make: I was using the internet back in the early 1990’s to find dates. Not its original purpose, but I was a trailblazer! I (and probably many others) laid a course for the development of products like Match, E-Harmony, Tinder and the plethora of dating sites that soon followed the creation of the Internet. I was a member of a local Internet Relay Chat (IRC) group. In all honesty, I’m not entirely sure it was there for the sole purpose of getting a date, but in reality, that’s what it did.

I tell you this story not to share the details of my dating life, but to give you a little peek into my early curiosity of technology. In a world of DOS and 14.4 modems, I was inquisitive about the overlap between technology and humanity. I was hungry for knowledge about this new phenomenon. It didn’t take long before I took my first dot.com job and my curiosity became my career.

We all know the story, the internet, this concept that everyone “didn’t get” at the beginning, is now a core component of pretty much everything we do. It has transformed nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

Roll forward a couple of decades from those early days. The transformation of our daily routine continues. Technology and all that it touches is just spinning in a new direction. Along with these changes, we’re beginning to see many alarmist headlines about how jobs are going to vanish and machines taking over the world. We hear about machine learning, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrency, all of which will automate more and change the way we work. While much of this new technology future is a way off today Marc Benioff, CEO Salesforce, uses Artificial Intelligence in his staff meetings. And we have a computer that can write poetry.

This makes one wonder, if all this new technology is going to start doing the significant portion of the work that exists today, then what will we be doing? (Remember that no industry or job is protected from change.) How will you incorporate new technology in your job? Do you need to be afraid that your role will transition to a machine? Continue reading “What’s Your Medium?”

Do you live in a world of “and”?

While having brunch with one of my favorite people the other day, I learned that her husband is a frequent participant in improv classes. My initial reaction? I laughed. Now don’t get me wrong; I think her husband is brilliant and hilarious, but improve is not on the list of things I’d expect him to do. Honestly, I was impressed with his open-mindedness and willingness to do something a little unusual.

He’s living in the world of AND.

So what is this world I’m talking about? It’s the world of the future. Continue reading “Do you live in a world of “and”?”

Help Me Help You Help Them: A How-To Guide for Asking

I know I went on a tear about the need for people to just ASK already. (OK, so I’ve written many articles about asking here and here and here.) However, I one particular email I get on a regular basis that I think is worth talking about. It’s the “I’m looking for a job” email. This is what I usually get:

Hi Jo,
I’ve decided to leave my job / have left my job and wondered if you knew of any open roles. Or if you hear of anything I’d love an introduction.
Thanks! Friend

I ALWAYS want to make this happen. If every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room you’re not in, you’re not giving me a ton to work with! You’re asking me and your network to a) do the leg work to get all your information and b) create your positioning language for you. And while I consider myself pretty good at creating positioning language, you’re leaving it up to me. And do you honestly want to do that? Continue reading “Help Me Help You Help Them: A How-To Guide for Asking”

Finding Your “Team You”

I just saw probably the 1000th article on how to find the right mentor. It seems to be the career advice du jour. It’s not that I don’t believe you need a mentor or that mentors aren’t effective, I’ve had plenty, and they were all awesome. It’s the moniker. We’re giving the variety of people who guide us along our career path all the same label. By giving them the same label, we’re not describing nor maximising the relationship to its fullest potential.

Consider the word “coach” in the world of American Football. I did a quick search and found no less than ten different roles in the team. My guess is the “Linebacker coach” brings something uniquely different to the team than the “Quarterback coach.” Sure, they are both called “coach,” but the players work with them in very different ways and look to them for very different needs. I have no idea why I chose this analogy as, unsurprisingly, I know nothing about football. However, it works, right? Continue reading “Finding Your “Team You””

By the time a man is 30 he’s had 500% more practice asking.

Do you practice asking? Would you be interested in letting me practice with you?

See what I did there? I just practiced asking.

If you were sitting across from me, I’m sure I’d get a bit of a WTF look right now. Let me explain…

I think women are behind on the proficiency curve of mastering the art of asking. I believe we’ve been behind for a while, and we’re still playing catch-up. If we want to own our part in closing the compensation (note that I didn’t use the word “pay” here) gap, then we need to be better at asking.

So when did we start getting behind at practising the craft of asking? Look no further than your first boy/girl dance somewhere around 12 or 13 years old.* Cast your mind back to the streamer adorned, disco ball ambiance of your school gym. Are you there?

As I remember it, most of the boys were plastered against the wall on one side of the room, and most of the girls were clumped together giggling on the other. And what’s happening? The boys are trying to stand out, be noticed, trying to pluck up the courage to ask a girl to dance. The girls are waiting, waiting for the guy to ask them to dance.**

Now my awesome lady friends, reading this I’m sure you’re thinking: “No! Wait! I danced by myself. I danced with my friends.” You might have even asked a guy to dance. Think about all the guys you know. How many times have they done the asking vs. how many times you’ve done the asking when it comes to asking you to dance, on a date, for a drink, to the movies, to marry you? Yes, I’ll confess, as bold and self-assured as I am, I followed tradition, and waited for my husband to propose to me. Continue reading “By the time a man is 30 he’s had 500% more practice asking.”

Replicate Others’ Success or Craft Your Own Path

“How would you describe your approach to your craft, your program?”

I was led to answer this question when I told a friend that I was taking a Master Class from Steve Martin. I was gushing about how he thinks about the whole performance of comedy. Seriously, if you have any interest at all, check it out. I honestly enjoyed the class. Bonus: it was Steve Martin.

There was, of course, a ton of fascinating information on everything from how he crafted his personas to editing each and every single joke with a preciseness that only comes from being the perfectionist and craftsman he is.

What piqued my interest, and something I wanted to share was his discussion about trends and leaning into new ones, or even creating one yourself.

Steve reminisced about what a working, successful comedian looked and sounded like when he was first breaking into the industry. Most other comics dressed in jeans and leather jackets sporting long beards and shaggy hair. It was the late 60’s and early 70’s; I’m sure you get the picture.

He realized he should be different. He needed to be unique to be seen. In his class, he discussed the importance of “looking for the vacuum” rather than being like everyone else. Continue reading “Replicate Others’ Success or Craft Your Own Path”

How to Hug an American Gladiator and Other Musings On Asks

When I was in my early 20’s, I did some ridiculous things. Some were ridiculously awesome. (Seeing American Gladiator’s Live as a birthday activity – trust me, we were over 21. It was totally awesome!) Others were just plain ridiculous.

One of the more ridiculous things I would do fairly frequently was standing on balconies and in doorways with my back to whoever was my Crush Of the Moment (COM). I had this narrative that posing myself in these places and if the COM liked me, the COM would be compelled to walk up and hug me from behind. Like they do in the movies.

No big surprise, disappointment was a normal part of my life.

Yes, I know. Judge away. Fortunately, I have since got a clue and learned to tell my COM, “I think that someone hugs you from behind is the greatest!”

Hugging commenced. I was much happier.

The lesson that took me a while to learn: When people like you, they want to help you. However, they can’t read your mind, so determine your ask. If you want to make something happen, make the ask easy for the other person too. Continue reading “How to Hug an American Gladiator and Other Musings On Asks”

You Date a Company; You Don’t Marry It

I’m taking a little break from the Balance Series. This week includes a little insight into some of my rhetoric I use when out inspiring people to play a bigger game for themselves.

Last week I found myself talking to amazing women at a couple of events on how to articulate their awesome. On both occasions, I reiterated my standard theme:

You date a company; you don’t marry it.

I constantly use this phrase as a frame for referencing the different “dating” phases you, as an employee, go through.

Phase 1: Swiping Right on Tinder vs. Looking a company up on Glassdoor
Phase 2: The First Date vs. The Interview
Phase 3: The First Blush of Love vs. The First 90 days on the job
Phase 4: Saying “I love you” vs. Getting your first big project

These side by side analogies are endless; however, most come to an end with the inevitable breakup. Continue reading “You Date a Company; You Don’t Marry It”

Do You Know What You’re Great at Doing?

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I got in trouble in school for bartering snails for colored pencils. Yes, my school mates traded their beautifully sharp and colorful Caran D’Ache pencils for slimy yet speedy snails. Interestingly, it wasn’t bringing snails into the school that was the problem. It was the deal making and wheeling and dealing manifesting on the playground instigated by yours truly. Clearly, my entrepreneurial spirit was not encouraged where I went to school. Such a shame. And just in case you needed further evidence, my bartering wasn’t limited to snails. I was a conker broker as well.

I didn’t recognize it at the time, but this was one of many shenanigans as a precocious little girl which should have clearly shown me a path to a career in sales. It’s always seemed second nature to me to find a solution a problem or provide resolution to someone else’s. If there’s a win for both of us, that’s even better. The question “why might they want this?” is always foremost in my mind.

And what does this flashback have to do with the idea of balance? The first step on the path to finding team balance is knowing yourself. Continue reading “Do You Know What You’re Great at Doing?”