Michelle Beauchamp: Leveraging Diversity as a Team Leader



Joanie has a conversation with Michelle Beauchamp about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the tech world.  Michelle is the CEO of The Champ Group, a training and coaching firm that focuses on sales and diversity.  One of the reasons Michelle is so special is that she is a very positive, encouraging person.  She will inspire you in this episode.

Highlights:

Q: How did you come to help organizations work on diversity, equity, and inclusion?

“My passion is to help people learn and grow and succeed.  When I started The Champ Group, I decided to focus on leadership, sales, and communication.  That’s what I have done for 14 years.  I love helping people grow in those three areas.   I help people understand the greatness they already have within themselves.”

“This summer, I had an epiphany.  It happened because of my awareness of so much racial injustice— the cases of Ahmaud Arbery, BreonnaTaylor, and George Floyd—and that’s just to name a few, just for this year.  I thought, ‘I have a passion for this.  Clearly, I have my own experiences being a Black woman,’ and I thought, ‘I need to put my leadership training that I already have and the subject of diversity and inclusion together and make that work.’  I came across a program from another group I’m a member of—a program that I could purchase a license to—and I decided, ‘I’m going for it!’”

“Clearly, this is a subject that is tough.  Everybody has an opinion about it.  Some subjects that I already teach, such as the power of listening, the energy that is required to really listen and not interrupt and jump in there, and the ability to have empathy, are already leadership traits that I train on.  It’s just that now, we can dive into it on the subject of diversity and inclusion, which does require a lot of listening, a lot of empathy, and speaking at the right time.”

Q: A lot of clients are asking about diversity, equity, and inclusion.  But, especially in tech, I hear that they feel like they are doing as much as they can, and they don’t know what else to do.  Or they are concerned about doing the wrong thing and are playing it safe by doing nothing.  What is your response to that?

“The good news is that it is being discussed.  People are curious and they are concerned.  I look at that as a good news thing.  I’ve been doing a lot of research on this and I saw some descriptions that I thought were interesting.  One came from Accenture and it said that companies who take this on need to have bold leadership.  They need to have an empowering environment.  And they need to be willing to take action.  You can’t have these conversations and then nothing happens.  That’s what employees are concerned about.  Not doing anything, that’s what not to do!  Don’t try to sweep it under the rug.”

“I wish that more companies would hire consultants to work with them on this because that’s what companies do; they seek professional guidance when they need help with something.  The same is true with this subject.”

Q: The stats on diversity in STEM suggest that not enough is being done.  What are technical organizations missing?

“I hear ‘We can’t find qualified minority applicants.’  That has to be yesterday, not today and tomorrow.  It does take extra effort.  Someone in the company can have the job responsibilities to reach out to other communities.  For example, there are the HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities), as well as other ethnic universities.  There are also the chambers and women’s organizations.  The existing workforce is diverse.”

“One thing I know is the people in the tech companies are smart.  Companies that have more diversity enjoy more profits.  It’s worth the effort to go out and find the people.  We need more people to be mentors and sponsors.  That’s the inclusion part of it.”

Q: How do we start the conversations and take action?  Listen to the episode to hear Michelle’s response.  Her advice for starting is simple yet critical, something we can all do.  She also shares tips on what to do and what not to do in leading efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Words of Wisdom:

The first thing to do is have the leaders check themselves.

If you’re not embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion, accept that.

None of us has all the answers.  We just need to show we care.

Embrace the effort to reach new communities.

It’s little things, like who are you inviting to lunch?

We need to get over it!

No matter what the cause is, we all need allies.

Contact Michelle Beauchamp:

Email: michelle@thechampgroup.com

Website: https://www.beasaleschamp.net/

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/MichelleBeauchamp


Mike Kimball: Key People Factors for Entrepreneurs



Mike Kimball is an attorney who works on venture capital deals in the tech space.  He knows what it takes to create and execute structures and agreements to foster fast growth.  He also knows where entrepreneurial leaders fail.  Mike has a wealth of experience from working on a nuclear submarine to working in big tech in Silicon Valley and negotiating business deals for companies of all sizes.  For his stories and insights from his eclectic background, listen to the episode.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us about your eclectic background.

“As a kid, I always had a fascination with airplanes.  I also had a fascination with submarines.  When I was in college, I spent two summers working in the space program.  I graduated with a bachelor’s in chemistry.  I ended up in Bakersfield, was bored, and went to see the Navy recruiter.  When he heard I had a technical background, he put me in the nuclear submarine program.”

“When I got out, I worked in energy, then went back to school and got a law degree.  I had met a friend (our families were water skiing buddies) and the two of us went shopping for a house boating trip.  We were walking out of the store with our grocery carts full of groceries and he told me to call his friend about a job.  I did and was hired and helped grow the company.  I was then introduced to the general counsel at Yahoo and he hired me in an executive position, where I stayed for six years until I hung out my own shingle.  My clients are typically either small companies or small venture capital firms.”

Q: What observations did you have working at a large company?

“As a company grows, unless they have a very enlightened HR department, it naturally starts making decisions more by committee than by leaders and that slows things down.”

Q: What do you look for in startups?

“If you had to pick one thing to bet on it’s the founder.  Have they had a successful exit?  Does their vision hang together?  Is it coherent with the business model?  Is the founder coachable?  And coachable really comes down to good listening skills.”

To hear more about why startups fail and the importance of sales early on, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

Leaders need good listening skills.

We always do it better the second time than the first time.

There’s a true art to getting doors open and deals made.

The power of “no” when you don’t want to do something is very powerful.

I would like to see more coaching of founders.

Contact:

Website: www.kimballesq.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeljkimball/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Law-Office-of-Michael-Kimball-108717547452026/?modal=admin_todo_tour

 


Lynda Roth: Leading Transformational Change



Joanie has a conversation with Lynda Roth, a consultant who bridges IT expertise with business and lean management.  Lynda founded LJR Consulting Services to provide assessment of existing business and IT processes and educate business executives about information technology options and lean business process to help them creatively reduce cost and improve profits.  Lynda also has a book coming out soon called Digital Transformation: An Executive Guide to Survive and Thrive in the New Economy.

Highlights:

Q: You’re not a typical IT consultant. What do you do?

“I generally work with executives.  I don’t get into the tech anymore.  I’m generally brought in to a board member or executive I’ve met or through someone who referred me.  They usually have some sort of a problem and they don’t know how to define it and they don’t know what to do next.  That’s where I start.  Let’s evaluate what your problem is and then I find out what to do.  I organize and manage the whole thing and bring in all the resources.”

Q: You started out as an accountant.  How did you get into this line of work?

“My father desperately wanted me to be an accountant when I got out of school.  I thought it would take too long.  At this time, colleges were just starting to have technology in their curricula.  My guidance counselor suggested I look into that.  They had a few IT courses and business courses.  I got a 2-year degree, got a job, and satisfied my need to move out of my parents’ house.  I went back to accounting school at night and got that degree, but I was already making more in IT than I would as an accountant.”

“I started my own software company in the 80s and had my own digital disruption that caused the business to fail.  And then I started my own consulting business to help other companies transform.”

Lynda’s story of her own digital disruption is compelling.  Listen to the episode to hear it and what she learned.

Lynda also tells stories from her book about transformations that changed whole industries before digital was even a thing.  Her lessons are powerful and directly relate to today’s transformative world.

Words of Wisdom:

You need to re-imagine your business today.

In the 21st century, you have to throw out the rule book of what you’ve done before.

Sears was the Amazon of their day.

Why did everybody gravitate toward the automobile?  Because it was faster than the horse.

Contact Lynda Roth:

Website: http://www.ljrconsultingservices.com/

Telephone: 818-216-7264

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndajroth/

Look for her book on Amazon.


Paul Johnson: From Rapid Growth to Team Reductions



Highlights:

Joanie has a conversation with Paul Johnson, Partner and Managing Director of Essilen Research.  Essilen is a consulting company that helps tech leaders build robust and reliable tech organizations.  Paul has over 20 years of experience at Qualcomm, where he worked his way up from a software developer to a senior director of engineering, overseeing a worldwide team of hundreds of engineers.  He has some great stories and insights to share.

Questions:

Q: What brought you to San Diego from Canada?

“I went to the University of Waterloo, which is famous for engineering and for doing internships, and lots of companies around the world go there to recruit.  I did an internship at Qualcomm and came back after college.”

Q: You have a bit of a unique story working for Qualcomm for over 20 years.  The company went from rapid growth to reductions in teams.  What did you learn from that?

“It was the number one company on the NASDAQ when I joined in ’99.  You feel kind of invincible when it’s like that.  It’s really exhilarating, and you feel like you’re going to change the world.  I did learn how to be a software engineer, professionally, how to add value, how to crank and get my technical chops up.  But then, as the years went by, what made it so interesting to stay at one company, which is a little unusual these days, is that you get to see the arc of how things can change.”

“A huge lesson learned that I use in consulting is that you can’t grow out of all your problems.  When you’re growing, you kind of feel that way, that you can keep growing and it will go away.  Another one is the importance of seeing when growth outpaces processes.”  To hear Paul’s examples and his challenges with layoffs, listen to the episode.

In this episode, you’ll also hear Paul’s insights on how to prepare for the unexpected (such as a pandemic), the surprising thing that helped Paul develop his people management skills, and how he founded his consulting company, Essilen Research, and what they do.

Words of Wisdom:

It’s really hard to unwind processes that you didn’t set up right.

Get into the habit of writing down how you work at your company.

People change a lot and it has a lot to do with incentives at work.

It’s not about navigating prickly people, it’s about debugging what’s behind people.

You need feedback to have a world class team.

Contact Paul Johnson for a free consultation:

Website: Essilen-Research.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pauljohnson-techleader/

 


Aseem Giri: Managing Technical and Creative Personalities



Joanie has a conversation with Aseem Giri.  Aseem has over twenty years of experience as an entrepreneur, private equity investor, and investment banker. He is also fond of art, serving as an Art Advisor and/or Finance Advisor to art-related businesses, and he hosts his own podcast, called ACHiEVE, where he interviews people about life-changing events.  Aseem has a lot of experience working with both creative and technical leaders and shares his insights in this episode.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us about your background.

“I was born in Germany to parents of Indian origin.  We migrated to the States when I was young and we lived within a 90-minute drive of New York.  I went to college in Philadelphia and followed a fairly traditional path in terms of finance.  I did a 2-year analyst program at a Wall Street firm called Salomon Brothers. That was in the mid-90s.  It doesn’t exist today.  It got gobbled up by Citibank.  From there, I made it a career objective to go into private equity.”

“Life threw me a curveball.  My son—who is now 12—when he was 2 ½, was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called severe aplastic anemia.  I made the clearest decision I’ve ever made in my life.  I dropped everything I was doing and I focused on him.  My son is cured now, thankfully.”

“At the same time, I lost my mother to leukemia.  Those two things had a profound impact on my and I didn’t want to go back.  I became an entrepreneur, a serial entrepreneur.  I have founded and sold three different health and wellness businesses.  I also do have a passion for art and I became an active collector and became involved with an organization in the art space.”

Q: What kinds of challenges do you see in the different spaces of technical, wellness, and creative?

“I often find that the wellspring of ideas come from the ‘creatives.’  I include engineers in that category—technical people who have a solution to a problem.  What I have found in interacting with them in the role of the business guy setting the deadlines and such, is that you have to give a lot of roaming space to creatives.  Be liberal with the deadlines and sometimes give them false deadlines and use them as an opportunity to check in.”  He relates this to products ranging from yoga mats to thermal printing.

Aseem answers a number of questions, including: What does the CEO look like who you evaluate as having to replace when you invest in a company?  What kinds of challenges have you faced with engineers?  Why does it matter who gets the credit for solutions?

He also reveals his latest innovation, a virtual reality based meditative experience that is comprised of sound-based and visual-based stimulation.  It is a “bio hack” that lowers cortisol levels and emotional regulation without the spiritual aspect.

Words of Wisdom:

Technical people are artists.  If you try to corral them too much, you’re not going to get the best work out of them.

You don’t want your engineers to worry about cost.  You just want them to come up with the best solution possible.

I’m never intimidated by competition because I feel we’re going to find a niche that’s ours.

If you’re the founder, it can feel like the company is the alter ego of you.

Contact Aseem Giri:

Podcast website: https://achievepodcast.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aseem-giri-9463401/

 


Luis Socconini: Leading Efficient Teams



Joanie has a conversation with Luis Socconini, the Director of the Lean Six Sigma Institute and master blackbelt in Lean Six Sigma.  He is the author of several books on Lean practices and has run over 300 projects in Mexico, the United States, Spain, and South America.  He is an engineer by training and he has several certificates in quality and manufacturing from very prestigious institutions, like Harvard and MIT.  Luis tells us about how he learned to be a good leader anywhere and how to help teams work more efficiently.

Highlights:

Q:  Tell us your story of starting a business in Mexico and moving it to the United States?

“I’m an industrial engineer with a master’s in quality and productivity.  One of the key factors for a business to grow is to move into different countries.  I learned that since I was learning how to be a businessman.  It was in 2006 when I started my international journey.  I started my first office in South America, in Columbia.  It was an interesting and risky adventure.  It was something I really wanted to do, so I decided to take the risk.  After that, I started an office in Spain, and later in Switzerland.  It was in 2010 when I decided to expand to the United States.  One of the reasons was because some of my clients in Mexico and South America were American companies and they were asking us, ‘Why don’t you help us in the United States?  Why don’t you have an office?’  It was an idea that my clients gave me, and I decided to take the opportunity.  In 2010, as you know, it was not an easy time.  It was an economic situation where the world was the world was really difficult.  It was an interesting journey.”

Q: You moved your family here, right?  How was that?

“Yes, we moved all together.  I presented this opportunity to my wife.  At first, I had to convince her.  I thought she was going to say ‘no.’  But then she said, ‘why not?  Let’s try it.’  We decided to take one year and try it and if it didn’t work out, we would move back to Mexico.  The first year was fantastic!  We learned a lot.  It was a completely different change in the way we live, the way we interact with kids, and the way we work.”

Q: What is Lean Six Sigma?

“Lean is a philosophy, a methodology, and a set of tools created by Toyota.  Toyota created this methodology based on the learnings they had from when Japanese companies came to the United States to learn best practices so they could improve their productivity based on the U.S. productivity after the second World War, that was eight times higher.  They took all this knowledge and converted it into a system.  It was called the Toyota Production System.  On the other hand, Six Sigma was created by Motorola.  They created it as a secret project in the 80s.  At the end of the 80s they presented it as a project to succeed in quality.  They had a lot of problems with quality.  It was in 1988 when Motorola won the Quality Award given by President Ronald Reagan.  Ronald Reagan said to Bob Allen, who was the CEO, it was incredible how you improved quality.  You have to show this to the world!  And Bob Allen said okay and they called it Six Sigma.  Together, Lean and Six Sigma became the most powerful methodology to improve quality and productivity.”

“We can condense this into two words.  Lean Six Sigma is about speed and quality.  You need speed and quality for sales, marketing.  If you have a restaurant or hotel, you need speed and quality.  Even in decision making we need speed and quality.”

Q: What kinds of challenges are your clients usually facing, especially in technical organizations?

“A large number of companies are dealing with delivery time and cost, especially cost.  Individuals are also facing increasing job opportunities and increasing competition.  The typical customer we have is not delivering their products on time.  In a software company, one of the main headaches they have is they are not delivering on time; the software sometimes does not have the quality.  Anything that is related to quality and speed, that’s something where we can help.”

To hear examples of how Luis motivates technical leaders to be more efficient, how he developed himself from introvert to people-oriented, and what he’s learned is most important to managing his own team, listen to the episode.

Words of Wisdom:

Helping others is the most wonderful thing.

Better leaders are better teachers.

Once you give employees the information, tools, and trust to make decisions, things start changing.

Contact Luis Socconini:

Email: luis@socconini.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/luis-socconini-9205351a/


Bob Salomon: Learning Disabilities, Computers, and Communicating



Joanie has a conversation with Bob Salomon, president of CIO Systems.  One of the coolest things about Bob is his willingness to talk about how he’s dealt with dyslexia and ADD and how that actually motivated him to get into tech. Bob also talks about how they “make IT boring” at CIO Systems.  They do IT security and support and help employees more be more productive.  In addition, Bob talks about how to network and ways to get involved in community service.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us your story of how having dyslexia and ADD drew you into IT work.

“It’s been a major stumbling block and also a path for me.  I grew up in the 60s and 70s.  At the time, it wasn’t quite understood.  I did terrible in school.  I was a C-D student for most of elementary and high school.  I only got into college because, at the time, it was very easy to get into state university.  All you had to do was score a certain level on the SAT.  My SAT scores were very high and, even though my grades were very low, I automatically got into State.

I went to Cal State Long Beach.  There it was the second time I’d ever had to touch a computer.  Back then, it was virtually impossible for the average person to get close to a computer.  There was an Apple II in the library, and I started programming on that.  One of my nerd friends, he was in the mathematics department, and he gave me an account on school mainframe, the PDP-11/70.

There wasn’t a good word processing program at that time.  There were text programs, but you had to keep switching between modes and there was no visible cursor.  You had to remember where you were and type commands to move forward or back to a document.  So it was very cumbersome.  I actually wrote my own word processing program with a dictionary.  That’s a major accomplishment to be able to create a dictionary when you’re dyslexic.  I was actually the first person to hand in computer-generated homework for a liberal arts class.  The teacher had to go to the academic senate to get approval to accept my homework.

They had a program for adults with learning disabilities at California State.  It was an excellent program and I was very happy to get into that.  With that support, I was able to graduate on the President’s Honor Roll.  I went from being a C student to the President’s Honor Roll.  Just by doing my work on the computer and handing it in that way made all the difference in the world.

For so long, it was impossible to communicate by writing.  I would think of words and I would think of them phonetically and there was no easy way of looking them up in a dictionary.  I would have to think of synonyms and it was very hard to edit and I would mess up the edits.  Basically, all of my life I had a very negative view of myself because everything I did was terrible.”

Bob’s story continues to be riveting.  To hear how he turned himself around, managed through his frustrations, and empowered himself to start his own company, as well as how he developed his people skills and how he delights customers, listen to the podcast.

Words of Wisdom:

It’s very common for people with ADD to run their own company.

As an IT expert, I’ve monetized my paranoia.

Computers are there to be tools and they need to be up and running.

If we do it right, nothing should happen and selling nothing is sometimes a little harder than it should be.

Shout Out:

Brian Jackson at Sandler Training for sales training.

Contact Bob Salomon:

Call: 619-293-8600

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-salomon-675872b/

Website: ciosys.com


David Oates: Managing Coronavirus and Other Crises



David Oates is a Crisis PR expert with 25 years of experience in the field. He helps organizations repair their brand’s reputation in the press and online. He can handle any Crisis PR situation and train others to do the same. As a U.S. Navy Public Affairs Officer and a corporate PR professional, he dealt with a broad range of Crisis PR issues. These include mass layoffs, large-scale accidents, product recall, inappropriate acts by executives, and more. He’s also been a key advisor for companies during the Coronavirus crisis. Do you know what to do—and what NOT to do—in these situations?  Listen to the episode.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us your story of how you’ve worked with nerds on PR crisis management and in what contexts.

“I was an officer in the Navy and, in the mid-nineties, I became a PR Officer.  Crisis was just a part of the day’s activities.  As you can imagine, in the military you’re in foreign ports of call, you’re in combat situations.  There are 24-hour very heavy industrial operations, so accidents, sailors and marines behaving badly, different hot war engagements and so on.”

“After that, I went into corporate America.  I worked largely, but not exclusively, with startups and small cap publicly traded companies.  The things that we would work on, in addition to promoting their software products, was if there were adverse news events that would occur that would get the ire of not just the press, but also of their highly trained employees that they were trying to keep.  Just as important to them were their customers and their investors.”

“Those types of scenarios were such that when there were things they didn’t want to talk about, I had to get them prepared to talk about them—in such a way as to allay the concerns of employees, who were going to go literally across the street to the next job opportunity, and investors who were going to be reticent about getting the next round of funding closed or secured, while keeping the executive team intact, and certainly customers who were taking the risk to go with this new product in beta mode.”

“I was also head of marketing in-house for a software company and, about 13 years ago, I went out on my own.  It’s been a great ride!”

Q: What constitutes a Crisis PR event and who is involved, especially in technical companies?

“When folks think about PR, and certainly Crisis PR, they naturally default to the news organizations and the general public.  That’s good to focus on, but often focusing on that is at the detriment of focusing on even more important audiences—employees, customers, partners, investors, and other stakeholders.  Notice I named employees first.”

“There are two things to think about with employees.  First off, they are the ones who are dealing with the customers and stakeholders on a daily basis.  They are the front lines of you being able to articulate a value proposition and deliver on that.  If the employees are not told what’s going on, and are not addressed on their concerns, and are not able to be empowered with messaging to say to the other stakeholders, you’re done.  You won’t repair yourself.”

“I don’t care what you say to a reporter or to a news organization.  If the employees don’t buy into it and are not brought in to help you through it, the story will linger.  It will then perpetuate on the blogosphere.  Google will index it.  You’ll then see negative reviews on things like Glassdoor and other tech review sites.  Blog reviews, like Mashable and TechCrunch will pick up on that and it will be a real mess.  This is most important for tech companies.”

Listen in to hear answers to these questions too.

What kinds of challenges do technical leaders tend to have in responding to a crisis PR event?  How do handle Coronavirus Crisis PR and other similar health situations.  What should you NEVER do in a Crisis PR situation?

Words of Wisdom:

Employees are going to be the backbone of whether you make it through an adverse event.

Nowadays, everyone is a broadcaster.

When employees are ticked off, do they wait until the end of the day to post something about work?

There are two things you do in every Crisis PR situation: show empathy and action.

People respond to an event with emotions first and logic after.

You can’t ignore the people shouting at you even though you disagree with their response.

Contact David Oates:

Website: Publicrelationssecurity.com

Email: david@publicrelationssecurity.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidoates/


Eric Weiss: Building Products People Love



Joanie interviews Eric Weiss, founder of Full Cycle Product Development.  Eric has led massive development projects worth billions of dollars, including the Sony Playstation 3 and Qualcomm’s $9 Billion patent licensing machine. Eric is a product technology consultant and startup advisor and the author of Build the Right Things: How to Design and Build a Product People Will Love.

Highlights:

Q: Tell us how you got to where you are now and how you came to write your book.

“I’m an engineer by trade.  I’ve been writing code since I was very young, went to school for it, and started to work as a software developer.  But I really quickly learned that my passion was in product and leadership and startups and so I went and got my MBA.  I got certified to be a project manager and a Scrum Master and all this stuff.  I bridged the gap between the technology and engineering side of things and the product and business side of things.  I spent much of my career at very large tech companies driving very large engineering projects.”

“But then I’ve had this consulting practice on the side now, for over 10 years now, working with early stage startups and growth stage startups to validate their business model, to gain traction, to raise early capital, and then ultimately scale up and grow and get acquired.  I’ve been a CTO and completely owned the delivery model.  I discovered through experience that, while I was so focused on the efficiency of my development team, and having clean and clear Agile methodologies, nothing was less efficient than working on the wrong things.  I started really heavily leaning into product management and the user experience to make sure we were focusing on the right things.  This culminated in the book.”

Q: How do you get engineers to care about the customer experience or to see it from the customer’s perspective?  How do you understand what features your customers really need?

“Yes, engineers love technology, but more than anything, they want to have purpose.  They want to know the work they do has meaning and impact to benefit real people.  The other thing is that engineering is a really creative endeavor.  They don’t like to be told what to do.”

“The challenge is that too many teams are structured in a way and too many leaders lead in a way that puts engineers in this mode where they’re decoupled from the purpose of their work.  They’re not given creative freedom and they almost become beaten down and they get to where they don’t care and just want to play around with the technology because it gives them some enjoyment, but they’re disconnected from the larger picture.”  To hear Eric’s solutions to this problem and to hear answers to these other questions, listen to the episode.

Other questions that Eric answers: How do you build effective Agile teams?  How do the people on the teams survive a “never-ending marathon” of Agile?  What common people issues do you see in the startups that you advise?

Get a free copy of Eric’s book here.  Watch Eric’s talk on Agile First Principles here.

Words of Wisdom:

It’s not the velocity of our Scrums, it’s that we don’t understand our customers or ourselves well enough to know what the user experience should be.

People are the most difficult part of building products.  Technology is very rarely the thing that holds us back.

CEOs are an interesting bunch and have to be dealt with delicately.

Be fearless and go out and do things.

Contact Eric Weiss:

Website: FullCycleProduct.com

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericmweiss/


Brian Jackson: Handling Sales



A nerd at heart, Brian Jackson is the president and owner of Sandler Training of San Diego, a sales training company.  Brian enjoys coaching customer-facing people who are engaged in selling within Software, Technology, Manufacturing, and Professional Services.  Prior to owning Sandler, Brian invested over 20 years in hospital equipment & software sales and leadership roles.  Brian gives a unique perspective to nerds and sales, having played both sides, interfaced between the two, and trained and coached salespeople of all backgrounds.  He’s also a funny guy and you’ll enjoy his insights.

Highlights:

Q: Let’s start by hearing your story.  What brought you to buying and running Sandler San Diego?

“Having a slightly lower than average IQ.”  [But, seriously!]  “I graduated college and wanted to make money and got straight into sales.  I wanted to sell products I was passionate about and I gravitated toward medical devices and, later, medical device software.  After about 20 years selling a half dozen products and managing people for the last 12 of those years, I found that my passion was not in the technology.  It was in the art of selling and coaching other people and seeing them succeed and rise in the ranks.  I really got a lot of satisfaction out of that.”

“I was a client of Sandler many years ago and always had it in the back of my mind that I might want to do that.  So, I pulled the trigger.”

Q: What is Sandler Training?

“It’s a sales methodology that’s embedded in psychology.  The main thing about Sandler that is different is that we really believe in the power of reinforcement.  You can’t change the way you think and behave by going to a 2-hour boot camp.  It takes repetition.  We use blended learning and repetition to rewire the brain.”

Q: What was your experience like working with technical people—developers, scientists—and having them interface with customers?

“The challenge with selling technology is not understanding the technology.  Salespeople are more intelligent than people give them credit for.  We can learn something if we try hard enough.  The challenge isn’t learning the technology.  The challenge is knowing when to use the knowledge appropriately.  It’s about having the discipline to not talk about the product knowledge until the right time.  In spite of the fact that you’re excited about the technology.”

“When you’re working with technical people, product specialists, these are people who know a lot about the product.  They’re given a chance to talk to the customer prospect and they feel it’s their job to come in and talk about the product information.  As a salesperson, you have to pull back the reigns and sometimes even do damage control.  It’s important to remember that your product knowledge is your leverage when you’re in a selling situation.  Once that prospect has that knowledge, that’s what they came for.  It’s not necessarily to make a decision.  It’s to gather information.  Once they have all the information, you’re dead in the water.”

To learn more about how technical people are dealing directly with customers, such as SaaS companies, and Brian’s advice to technical people who are dealing with salespeople and with customers directly, listen to the episode.  Brian also gives advice on technical leadership from his years of experience doing it.

Words of Wisdom:

There’s a reason why people are tense when they are in a buying situation.

Team selling is pretty cool.  Everyone has a different role.

Good people, by and large, are being promoted into a management role and they’re expected to know how to do it.

It’s not uncommon for people going through a promotion to have other things going on in their lives too.

Emotional Intelligence should be taught in college.

Contact Brian Jackson:

Cell phone: 619-368-6215

Linkedin:  @SandlerTraining

Website:  www.salesrevenue.sandler.com

Facebook:  @SandlerSanDiego

Twitter:  @Sales_Coach_SD