Welcome to the year’s first episode of Front Line Friday with my remarkable guest, Bridget Gleason. On this week’s episode, Bridget and I discuss, among other topics, looking forward to the new challenges of the new year, how motivation — the why — underlies all action, great principles we’ve picked up from books we’ve read, and what managers need to know about their team members to help them succeed in 2017.
ANDY PAUL: It’s time to accelerate. Hi, I’m your host, Andy. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership management, training, coaching, and any other resource that I believe will help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business and most importantly, you. Hello and welcome to Accelerate. This is the first episode of the with my very special and regular guest, Bridget Gleason. Bridget, how are you?
BRIDGET GLEASON: Happy New Year!
AP: Maybe a little belated but happy new year.
BG: That’s right, a little belated but still our first episode of the new year.
AP: Yes, and gosh, it’s going to be such a good year. I can’t wait.
BG: What are you excited about this year?
AP: The same thing I’m excited about every year. Life is an adventure. The fact that we are fortunate enough to live in a society where we have the ability to be so creative and do our own thing and it’s encouraged. I think the number of times I have reinvented myself during my career, it’s incredible. I’m always excited to see what’s around the corner.
BG: Yeah, it’s exciting, isn’t it?
AP: Yeah. I have goals, I know what I want to achieve, but the path is never as straightforward as you want it to be, or not as you plan it to be. I sort of like the ambiguity.
BG: Well, we might as well embrace it, because there is no certainty. I think that a good strategy for happiness is to embrace ambiguity.
AP: Yeah. I harken back to this lecture I heard from this professor. This was years ago at a sales kickoff meeting with a company I had just joined. I joined right at the first of the year and they went to an off-site meeting down in the Carmel area in California. A professor named Barry Posner from Santa Clara University talked about what he considered the key tool, if you will, for success in the world we live in was what he called tofa, which was tolerance of ambiguity. That always stuck with me because it was being extremely rational when you look at the world around you. At that time there was lot of uncertainty around the tech business. It wasn’t like there is today where now we have uncertainty even in big companies. Back when you and I got started, big companies were considered the solid places to work, but now it seems like no place you work offers that same stability that might have existed before. So, you have to have embrace this ambiguity because it’ll kill you if you don’t.
BG: Yeah, that’s right. That’s why I think it’s a good strategy for happiness. Embrace it. I hadn’t heard of tofa before. If I had I don’t remember which is tolerance of forgetfulness.
AP: Did you run on New Year’s New Year’s morning?
BG: Yes, of course. Of course. I’m a creature of habit and discipline.
AP: Right. I think that’s a good watchword for heading into this new year. I think the temptation is to say, “Hey, when we first started we had an episode about sales planning, so we can sort of skip that because people are being inundated with requests for sales plans from their managers.” But I think it’s important at this time that we blast off. So, we talked about looking back and reflecting on both a personal and professional level. I think looking forward, though, you also have to look at a level beneath quota in your plan, and beneath activities and think about where do you want to be at the end of 2017? Where do you want to be? I don’t mean 105% of quota or you made $200,000. You can’t look at personal and professional goals in isolation. As you’re putting together your plan for the year, you really have to look at this from a holistic standpoint of your work and your personal life together, because they’re melded and integrated in ways that we’d never even contemplated just a few years ago.
BG: So have you done that sort of thought experiment? Have you done that for your own self? What do you think it is that you want for this year personally and professionally?
AP: I don’t know if I’m completely finished yet. I would like to have had it locked in concrete. I’m never sure it completely is, but I’ve identified certain things I want to work on. Jill Conrath just published a great new book called More Sales Less Time, which is really about personal productivity. I think it’s a great read because it reinforces the idea that there are small habits that can have such huge ramifications throughout everything you do. Identify one or two – don’t identify 10 or 15. What are those one or two? So one thing I’m working on is this idea of time blocking in my day, and working more in sprints. Jill was on the show recently, and we talked about how tools exist now to help you sort of work in sprints. I want to get in the habit of using them more and sticking to it.
BG: Yeah, that’s a good one. That’s a good one.
AP: I think even when you’re doing your business plan, you have to do what Simon Sinek talks about, which is define your why. I think that’s something that people maybe do once but they need to revisit. If they haven’t done it, they need to read the book and know what’s going on and figure out the passion behind what they’re doing.
BG: I think it is important to go deeper than the surface of what we may identify as the goal. Why is that important? I think as I look forward and look at the things that I want to accomplish for the year, I find that my goals also tend to not – I don’t want to say more personal in nature and it’s not even that they’re less concrete – be things like “I want to make a lot of money” or “I want to move up and get a CEO job. I guess I found that the things that are the most meaningful to me and the most impactful are not those things. Sorry to be cliché. I’m still very ambitious, those things all hold true, so it doesn’t change that at all. It’s maybe a bit more nuanced around why I might want a different role. For me, I love to be challenged. For me to be in an environment that’s challenging for me where I’m learning and I’m a little bit on the edge, I find that I just enjoy the day to day, a lot more. The reason for me to want to maybe advance or to be in a more challenging position is because I like it, I just enjoy it. I realized that I’m very curious and I need to satisfy that. As I’ve looked deeper, it’s also changed and shifted my priorities and how I think about them and my goals, as I understand a little bit more of the motivation that’s underneath them.
AP: I don’t think that’s necessarily age related. I think the perception of the rewards has changed a little bit from perhaps more material to less material. I look at my own situation as I came up through my career and while setting my goals as I was very rarely purely money motivated. To me, it was about the challenge. That really drove me and I found that by really focusing on the challenge that I’ve been more than amply rewarded throughout my career.
BG: You and I are talking about this idea that we’re not purely money motivated. We like the challenge. It’s interesting though, in sales you hear a lot about how sales people are coin operated. It’s all about the money and I do know people who really optimize on the money – at least that’s what they say – and they don’t talk much about the challenge. There are probably individuals and maybe even times in a person’s career when they do optimize on money, but it’s typically for another reason. I’m going to optimize on money because I am saving to buy a house or I want to put some back for retirement. It’s serving another goal typically.
AP: Yeah, and when you think about your why, your goals, and your passions; the question really is, “Is being money motivated the most effective motivation to get you to the point where you want to be?” That’s an open ended question, but it’s time we’re thinking about it because we’re at the beginning of the year, people are charged up now that they’ve gone to a national sales meeting or local sales meeting and they’re charged up by the management, which is fine. You need to be, but what’s getting you up every morning?
BG: That’s right. That’s a good thing to think about. I know for me, if I were to answer that question, there’s a couple things. One is the challenge and the other for me is connection is being connected to people and a team and being part of a group. Those are really motivating to me. Achieving is really motivating to me, and I think one of the things is understanding what motivates us. Why? How do I get what makes me tick? When I understand those, I’m able to better identify goals that are going to make me happy, as opposed to ones that aren’t going to serve me well in the long term.
AP: I think that’s always a difficult challenge, being able to weed out the essential from the unessential.
BG: Yeah, it’s very hard.
AP: So, in your life, how do you do that? It’s a continuous struggle for me. You’ve got to keep reminding yourself. Least I find myself doing that. What’s important? What, what do I need to be doing? I’d started reading some books on this thing and I recommend this book by Kevin Cruz about time management. He had these huge to do lists. Not getting through that to do list was a frustrating thing to deal with. He said, “You have to focus on the one thing, what’s the one thing that you’re trying to get done?” Everything else is in service of that. Suddenly it’s a whole different way of looking at things. I haven’t done a to do list in over a year.
BG: You haven’t?
BG: Do you have a task list of things to remember to do?
AP: Certain things but mostly, if it needs to be done, it gets in your calendar. I know what my strategic priorities are and have those listed. I’ve just let things go, and it’s been fine.
BG: I think that’s brilliant. I don’t know that I can do it, but I think that’s an interesting way to think about it. In the last podcast, I think I mentioned this book that I had read called Ego is the Enemy. One of the things this writer talked about is when he journals every day, one of the things he keeps track of is how much time he spends in deep work. This particular author is Ryan Holiday but he was also a business guy. However, I think it’s still that notion of what are the most important things to get done? I know for me, at the beginning of the day I think about what the two or three things I need to do today are. Everything else is going to be in service. There’s a lot of other stuff that I’m going to end up doing – tasks. What’s the most important things? What do I need to really focus on? What are those few things? That’s really helped it at this company where I’m working now, which is blogs.io. We had an executive off site at the Sea of Galilee. I love that.
AP: Yeah. Everyday event.
BG: Yes. For them, it’s an everyday event. It’s like driving to Napa if you’re in California. When I was there, each of the executives had one priority, one thing they were focused on that we reported on every week. For the VP of sales, it’s easy. I don’t have to think hard about that. I know where my one number is, but for some of the other departments it was more challenging. I think it’s really worthwhile to do from a business perspective as well as personally. You’re thinking about what are really your priorities, and what are the things that you can afford to let go of?
AP: Yeah, it really focuses you on a goal. I mean, I remember reading in Chris Bergens book The Impact Equation, which is a great book people should read, but it recounts the story of asking Gary Vaynerchuk what his long term goal is because everything plays into the goal. I just love the answer Vaynerchuk gives, which was “buy the New York Jets.” So, everything he’s doing is in service of being able to buy the New York Jets.
BG: That’s great. I love that.
AP: So I’ve been thinking about that. It’s like okay, what’s my New York Jets? I’m working on it very diligently but it’s like, you just have to define that goal. I feel like what I’m actually doing is what I did before, which is throwing things out and clearing the path because I think I know what it is at one level, but I just haven’t really defined it that concisely.
BG: I think about this one quite a bit and I think I know what mine is. I know what my North Star is. My North Star is enjoying the moment, enjoying the day to day, enjoying the challenge, and again, having this different relationship – particularly around work. Last time, we talked about the stress that naturally accompanies a lot of jobs, certainly the VP of sales job. I thought about this very deliberately when I was looking for my next opportunity. It’s probably not so much about the opportunity as it is about what goes on inside of me internally. I have to have everything in service of the idea that life is going to throw a lot of things at me – good things, bad things, and surprises. How do I move through life with a measure of equanimity and contentment and joy? That’s, how I live my life. So mine is very qualitative and just how I want to experience life. It’s too short. So that’s kind of my North Star and I think about the decisions I make. Also it has to do with this company that I’ve mentioned, blogs.io. Their headquarters is in Tel Aviv and let me tell you something: Working for an Israeli company in Tel Aviv, 10 hours ahead, 14 and a half hour flight, they all speak Hebrew there – I don’t speak Hebrew – is exciting. It’s learning. It’s different, and it’s really enriching. So that was part of my criteria. And
AP: Well, and I think as we relate this back to people listening, it’s really important to identify with this goal – you used the term “North Star.” It’s important to know what that is. For me, I haven’t really nailed it down yet but I do know that I’m incredibly active, as are you. I want to be as healthy 20 years from today as I am now.
BG: Have you? That’s a great North Star and when you say active, it’s also mentally active.
AP: Right. I like the thing to some degree that I’m at the top of my game professionally. I’ve published books, I’ve got books I still want to publish. I’ve got three of four books are outlined, right. For me, it’s all about being able to maintain that level of physicality and mental acuity and staying on top of the physical health, the personal, as well as the professionals for an indefinite period of time. Now, if I could be doing this for 20 plus years, that’d be great.
BG: Technology will help us. It won’t be us, we’ll have all these electronic parts.
AP: Well, during a conversation with some friends over the weekend we were talking about the future and I said, “Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. As somebody that rides bikes out on the streets with all these distracted drivers, hopefully these autonomously driven cars will extend my bicycle career. Hopefully, the sooner they get those cars out on the road, the less nervous I’ll be about somebody looking at their phone and plowing into the back of me.”
BG: Yeah, I used to bike quite a bit and that is also one of the things that was a deterrent for me. People get distracted. They don’t see you. Even if it’s not the autonomous cars, cars that have the sensors in them that can sense things around them give me hope. You’ve got a really good chance of being able to achieve that goal.
AP: Well, that’s my North Star. We’ve talked about retirement planning. I just think for so many people, and especially younger generations in the workforce, given the way we’ve seamlessly sort of integrated our work and our personal lives, it stands to reason as people will start living longer, they’re not going to leave the workforce. Maybe they can’t afford it because they’re living longer so they’re going to need to work, but also they don’t want to leave. Now I think we have to change our thinking. If you’re 20 years away from retirement, you need to be thinking about what you want to do the next 40 years?
BG: You don’t have to do the same thing.
AP: You can be 70 years old and come up with a brand new life’s ambition.
BG: With very little qualification. I think that’s also a really exciting thing to think about. You can do something for 30 years and then have a whole new career. I don’t intend to stop working anytime soon. There’s so much richness in it. I was walking back from work thinking, “Ah, I am so fortunate. I am so lucky that I’m motivated to work. I’m so grateful that I have this opportunity and that my life has guided me here.” I think, again, when we think about setting our goals for the new year, a reminder that it’s a privilege to be able to work and be in roles where we’re needed and where the job we do is important. We’re offering value to a company and to prospects and customers. I just think that’s real privilege that I’m really grateful for.
AP: Well, I think that that hits on something I saw recently on a documentary or something about the value of work. This documentary talks about how rewarding people felt the manufacturing jobs were. Somebody that felt they were building something that people could use to build something else, that was just an incredible sense of satisfaction to them. To go back to the beginning, I think that we just need to find out and determine what that why is. There’s value in everything that that we do.
BG: Yeah, I think that’s right. Do you have any recommendations for individuals and teams – either personal or professional – as they’re looking forward?
AP: Understand what that why and that goal is for you. First, I think good sales managers want to know what that is for the people that work for them. You really need to understand what’s driving and motivating your people on an individual basis. The individual needs to understand what that is and the manager needs to take the time to ask the questions. Develop a relationship with the person to understand what they want and what motivates them, and then they can work together to achieve it. If you haven’t done this in the past, invest the time as a manager to sit with your people and understand what this is. For individuals, if you’re just showing up for work day after day, and you’re just showing up, then that may not be the right place for you. Really understand why you’re there. What’s getting you out of bed in the morning to come to this job? What’s your New York Jets?
BG: I love that. What’s your New York Jets?
AP: And if you can do that begin the year then that’s a great way to start.
BG: Then go crush it. What’s your New York Jets?
BG: All right. That’s going to be my line.
AP: What’s your New York Jets? Well, Bridget, it’s been a great way to kick off here. And as always, we appreciate you all taking the time to listen to us. Do continue to send us questions as you get them. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take some and answer them. Until next week! Bridget, I will talk to you then.
BG: Okay, take care.
AP: All right, bye bye. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guests, visit my website at andypaul.com