The Sales Hacker Podcast
The Sales Hacker Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

60. How to Effectively Give and Receive Constructive Feedback w/ Alyssa Merwin

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with Alyssa Merwin. She leads LinkedIn Sales Navigator in North America. She joined the podcast today to discuss the power of customer impact and how her journey to LinkedIn allowed her to break norms, show her vulnerabilities and become a leader in hiring.

One, two, one, three, three. Hey folks, it's Sam Jacobs. Welcome to the sales hiker podcast. We have an incredible show for you this week. We have a Listenerwin, who runs she's responsible for linkedin sales navigator and she's VP of sales solutions for North America for Linkedin. She runs a team of a couple hundred people. She is an incredibly accomplished and talented leader and manager and Salesperson and she has a lot to share with us about how you use trust and vulnerability and authenticity as a mechanism and as a driver to lead and manage high performing sales team. So it's a really, really good conversation and it's a topic that we that we don't cover often enough on this show. Before we get there, we want to thank our sponsors. We've got two sponsors on the show for you today. We've got CONGA. Congos, the leading end to end digital document transformation suite. With Congo, you can simplify documents, automate contracts and Executi signature so you can focus on accelerating sales cycles and closing business faster. Go to go dot congacom forward slash saleshacker for more information. Second, sponsors outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, out which supports sales reps by enabling them to humanize communications at scale, from automating the soul sucking manual work that eats up selling time to providing actionary into tips on what communications are working best. Outreach has your back. Now, if you're out there and you're listening and you've been listening, one of the things we want to ask you to do is can you please give us some feedback on Itunes, as long as it's very, very good feedback. So if you could give us a four or five star rating on Itunes, that'll help and sure that we had a high volume of great listeners on the show and it'll help ensure that how we can continue to provide the show to you. So, if you like what you've been hearing, please write us on itunes give us four five stars. If you don't like what you're what you've been hearing or listening, I don't know why you're listening now, but please don't do anything at all. Don't go to itunes and don't go us. Don't give us any feedback. We only want positive, positive feedback now, without further ado. Let's listen to a listenerwin. Hey everybody, it's Sam Jacobs and welcome back to the sales hacker podcast. We are honored today to have one of the people leading one of the most wellknown companies in in the sales space and, obviously, in the professional networking space, and that's a list of Merwin Alyssa leads linkedin's sales navigator business from North America, one of Linkedin's fastest growing businesses. In fact, every person that I know and revenue collective that talks about what's must have in their text act, sales navigators always part of it. She's responsible for leading a multi hundred person sales organization focused on providing a modern selling solution to sales executives at companies around the world. She's got deep experience in building high performing sales teams focusing on process, customer impact and strong leadership and individual personal development. Prior to leading sales solutions, elicit led linkedin's North America search and staffing business, where she was responsible for all go to market teams. She previously led this the part of the talent solution sales organization and before that she spent her early career at Corporate Executive Board, CEB, which was acquired by Gartner, which wrote the Challenger sale and which is a best practices research and consulting firm. So, Alyssa, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for having me. We are excited to have you. So I just read your bio. What we like to start, as we do, with what we call the baseball card, which is really just a way of, as we say, contextualizing your background in your insights and your expertise. So, first of all, what's your official title? Official title be Vice President Sale Solutions North America. Awesome. And so you've been at Linkedin. Obviously, we we I think we all know what Linkedin but it does, is, etc. But it's always interesting to hear from the person that works at the company how you position Linkedin. So how would you describe what Linkedin does? Yeah, so I would describe Lindon as the world's largest professional network, with over six hundred million members around the road today, and a great platform for companies to help them to hire great talent, to market the products and services, to invest in learning for their employees and then, of course, to provide what we like to think of as one of the most important sales solutions you can have for Your Business Development. Yeah, awesome, six hundred million. That's a lot of that's a lot of people. People. So let's let's figure out how you got here, because, I mean, how are you allowed to tell us how big the sales navigator businesses roughly? What kind of guidance can you give us and sort of like the book a business that you're responsible for? HMM, I don't know, if I don't think we publicly report it. So I don't know how much it can share, but it's it's a large, very large business and growing going it a very healthy click. Very good, very good. It's good. It's not accurate, we gotta take with we got to take what we can get when it's a public company. So awesome. So let's let's go back a little bit to the beginning. So how did you get in? Walk us through a little bit of your background. How did you get into sales? If I was I was doing research on on...

Linkedin earlier and it looks like you went to Smith College. Tell us about those sort of experience coming out of underground and how you got your start in this world of sales. Yeah, you know something, I hadn't thought about this until you just said the Smith Part, but I guess this has come full circle and when it, when I think about how I ended up where I am, it really came down to the network. So when I was graduating from Smith, which is a wonderful level arts college, with a double major in political science with a focus on subs are in African politics, HMM and French, highly relevant, both of those two sales, it's very clear about nothing interms of what I was going to do with my career. I actually thought I wanted to go into Minto politics, it perhaps in the foreign service or working in an NGO, and after a couple of internships, promptly decided that either NGO or government agency is neither of those where the route I was going to take. So I I decided I thought consulting felt like a really interesting place to go and I had a couple of former Smith he's who were at this somewhat small but fast growing company in Washington BC, called the Corporate Executive Board, and I reached out and they got you know, helping get my foot in the door. And the entry level roll at Cev was as a sales job, and so it was certainly not by design that I ended up in sales, but it was the the fastest path into into the company, and so that was how I landed my very first sales role, both through network connection and then and then taking the you know, the first place, the first job that they offered me. And what is for those that don't know what CEB does, what is Corporate Executive Board Do? What did they do? And you work there for quite a while. Talk to us about sort of your journey through corporate executive board and what your key takeaways were. Yeah, it's such a fascinating place to just start my careers. Those CEB has a model, at least had a model that was based on this premise that if you were a functional executive. So let's let's pick finance as an exect, as an example. If you're a CFO of a company, regardless of the size of the company that you work for, regardless of the industry that you're in, where in the world you happen to be located, you're likely facing a set of shared challenges that many other cefos face, and so, rather than going out and hire pairing consulting firms or trying to come up with the answers on your own. Why don't we hold hold the group to find out what are the actual best practices that others have already implemented and let's go talk to those practitioners. Let's be able to document and codify what their process and approach was, bring it back to the members and then allow everyone to benefit from that collective wisdom and see if you did that across pre which every functional area, so whether you're talking about hr or the it space, legal and and it was a really it's a brilliant business model because you're tapping into the wisdom of the network to produce great outcomes for the benefit of everyone. That's that's part of it and so that's kind of the the premise of the business. And then I've expanded, of course, with some incredible thought leadership and places like challenger, and you know they're doing a lot more. That's branched off from there, I think, in terms of professional services, but that's that's a headline. And where you when you joined as a salesperson? Were you doing outbound? was there the concept of an SDR function? What were your initial set of responsibilities and how did you know, how did you evolve within Ceb over the course of, you know, those years? Yeah, so I was a BEDR. That was the entry level role and so I was paired up with a single account executive. When we were buddies. I was there to support him and my primary responsibility, so it goes tell you how far we're going back, was to cold call in again. Then, in this case my domain was is, was finance. And, by the way, this is coming from someone who specifically chose a liberal arts college that had no cork curriculums, that I didn't have to take math or e come and I've got myself in the final particle. So it was a great education, whether I wanted it or not. But it was cold calling fortune five hundred, fortune one thousand executives in the finance space, so invest relations, treasures, auto executives, controllers and CFOS, and setting up appointments for the account executive that I was partnered with to go and meet with them live, because it was a pretty that an incredible and incredibly effective sales process. We were going out and selling, at the time, five figure solutions to a problem you probably didn't know you had before. We walk from the door and being able on in a lot of cases, to come out of the conversation with the sign contract or not too long after jelling. Work us through work, through a sales cycle. It is pretty methodical and such a great place to learn the art of sales. And so I was doing that and I think I remember correctly, the goal was scheduled thirty live meetings a month for the account exact wow, that's a lot, actually knowing for well meeting set. I mean I guess there's a percentage that were held,...

...etc. But that's still quite a lot. These are live in person meetings. Yeah, it was a lot. So, I mean, imagine how many cold calls you would make. You must have been very good at cold calling. Well, it was very persistent. What were while we've got you on this, and you know we may we may hear later on in the conversation that you're going to tell us cold calling as dead as a senior member of Linkedin. But while you were doing it, what were your key strategies? What your tactics? What did you learn about how to deliver a great cold call that led to these you know, to your point right, you're trying to get the interest and engagement, the attention and the interest. If I'm doing a IDI in the right sequence of these executives, you have to say something compelling, you have to be engaging and then you've got to get a meeting. How did you do it? Yeah, I mean I really tried to want I try to get as educated as I could, to sound like a credible person that they'd be willing to engage with and hear me out long enough to compel them to take a meeting with the account executive. And so that meant getting smart on our research and insights so that I could, you know, call up a CFO and and say, you know, let me tell you why, you know, thirty or sixteen minute meeting with with this this executive is is going to be worthwhile. And so I think it was leading with content and insights that were enough to get our foot in the door. I do think. I mean I I'll drinking inside. I think the persistence was paramount. I mean such a tough I mean think being a Bedr is probably one of the toughest jobs in the world. You know that in the sales world, and so being super persistent, also being creative. You know, I was calling and off hours and also building relationships with the executive assistance and trying to find new and creative ways in. And then, of course, you know, we had email. Wasn't that that far back, but just trying to make sure that I was always calling up with a touch point in the next step. In fact, I used to be quite good at I'd call and if I got a voicemail, I would continue to leave a couple of politely persistent voicemails on just informed of that. I'd continue to call until her back from them. And so, you know, sometimes they would preempt with a response and we'd schedule a meeting or they plately let me know that they were interested. So I think it was a combination of let's leave with insights, make it something that's compelling and that they'll be some value in the in the meeting for them, and then just being willing to pick up the fun of thousand heads. That's awesome, that's fantastic. And so I presume you were promoted into an account executive role and then on up into leadership positions. Is that walk us through sort of like the rest of the journey? Yeah, it actually was slightly different. I had a very strange first music, first year out of out of Undergrad into this job. My the manager of the B Dr Team that I was a part of, left the company and for some reason, but I'm still still not quite sure I understand, they decided to put me in the role. And so I think I was a thre eight months out of school and having been a BDR, and I became the manager of my peer group, which, for anyone that's done it before, can be one of the hardest leadership transitions to make, especially for someone who is so new to the workforce. I made all the classic mistakes of you know, we were, you know, all friends, probably out too happier the night before, and then the next day I show up in my new job and it's like a totally different person shows up with the office. I put on my manager mask and you know and and think that I'm supposed to be a different version of myself, and you can imagine how that played out. So it was a lot of a lot of alert lessons early in what not to do as a leader, but eventually figured it out and I stayed in that role for, I don't know, a year and a half or two years. I really enjoyed it, but I really, being really honest, I really wanted to get paid to travel. And so, yeah, I really want to become a be an account executive. And so after I did the leadership role for a year or two, I interviewed to become an account executive myself, and then that's when I got into my first, like true sales role, as carrying carrying a quota. You said something. You know I said all the typical mistakes, but I think there's probably people out there that don't know what all those typical mistakes are. And you're right. When you're promoted above a group of peers it's really challenging sometimes. Now that you've done it, I mean it's amazing that you were in that leadership position just so early out of school, which is fantastic experience. What did you learn, and we know what were the mistakes that you made, and what do you what do you know or what do you teach people at this point to do differently than the decision that you made? Yeah, we'll listen. There have been many versions of the story across my career, so I'm sure we'll touch on some other mistakes in a bit, but I think that. To that I'll just highlight that we were very clear things that I would have been differently. Had I I could, you know, Redo this all again. The first is this idea that I thought I was supposed to be a different person or show up, literally show up differently, because yesterday I was a Repp and today I'm your manager, and so I became more closed off, I stopped relating to people in the way that we had the day before when we were friends. I think I put on a very professional veneer that, you know, everyone's sort of calling bullshit...

...on, like you know, we know you, we like you, were friends with you. Why are you should why you acting like this? Just like that was the stake. Number One. I would not recommend that anyone trying to show up as anything other than who they actually are. And just because you're in an individual contributor role one day and movement to leadership the next, does not mean you're supposed to show up as a entirely different person. So that's one. That just second. Yeah, the second is that I was seed. Was Really, really great at driving sales process and there was a really predictable model and for how to advance deal through the different stages and you know, it was it was really more scient was a lot of art, but it was a lot of science to how we dreve revenue and I got to be really good at driving the science. And you know, when you get to when I they focused on driving the inputs and the metrics of the business and you forget to focus on the people, that's also a recipe for disaster. And so I really had to figure out that a better balance of of not, you know, focusing exclusively on the performance, but focusing on the people, and that that'll be a scene that will probably touch on our for a few times aout this conversation. But it's something that I also did, you know, totally backwards in early days. And so meeting sort of like all of your one on ones and your group meetings, you're just talking about number of calls and number of attempts, all these things and never saying how are you doing? That's right, it's good feedback. So now in our story, in the story of Alissa, we're now an account executive traveling the world for CEB. Walk us through, you know. So what happened next? And I think to the point, although you already made that leap. You know, you made that leap from being an a bedr to a bedr manager. Then you became an account executive, but at some point you, you know, fully committed to management and leadership, probably or were asked to by management. So talk to us about the jump from account executive to to leading teams and what you've learned along the way. Yeah, so I did it the the AE role for number of years and I got I did get to travel over the world. We was there wonderful early days where we get to up Cherry pick the territory and I got to do Australia and New Zealand and so it was such a fun time and great learning experiences. And then I also got to go to London for two years of an expat and so that, I'm I was based on London selling all over Europe, Scandinavia and South Africa, and so, I mean, what a wonderful combination of great professional experience but, I think, even more importantly, incredible life experience. So that was just a wonderful period of life and had so much fun, although I will say that on the professional side I found really challenging to be a petite American female trying to sell to European financial executives. That was not my was my strongest performance as an ae over there was really tough, but it was great, just great learning and great, great experience. But I I know probably like a lot of us, when you're high performer and you know your good team member, you often get tapped on the shoulder asked to do the player coach thing where you're managing your own Book of business but also coaching or developing other reps, and then that morphed into just larger and larger responsibility over time. And I remember when I came back from London there was an opportunity to work for a really great girlfriend of mine who was leading our mid market division, and she said, you know, I'd love for you to come back and be a leader on my team, but I want you to sell for the first quarter and learn this part of the business and also proved to the reps that that you've got the chops to do it because you know you. They don't know you. You've been gone for a couple of years and I have to say that that I thought that was I was very annoyed by it. But by the way, at the time, but in retrospect it was one of the best ways to help me really walk in the shoes of the team that I'd be eating and get also build incredible credibility by being able to show them that I could do the very job that I was asking me to do. And so that was something I did for a quarter and then took on just responsibility for leading the team without the personal quote of my own individual sales number outside of the teams, and did that for a few years and then ended up taking over more and work more responsibility for a couple of our different practice areas. So that means I stand it out from at this time. It was selling to General Council, then into the ceios suite and then went on to take over and, in addition, the account management team. So that was the renewals and expansion business as well. So it's great experience. It was a really fun time and then I made a personal decision to move to New York City, where we didn't have an office. Fair enough, you're not here anymore. Unfortunately, we are here waiting for your return, and so the move to New York. was that coinciding with with joining Linkedin well, you know it's sort of led there,...

...but it wasn't. It wasn't the impetus. I I was after after only in London for a couple of years and there I feel like they're only so many cities in the world that hold a candle to London and New York felt like the place that I wanted to be. And I remember I went into the office of our chief Revenue Officer, who I, you know, I knew quite well, and I said, listen, I love this company, but I'm I'm going to make a personal decision to move to New York and if that means that I need to quit, you know, I'm happy to do that. If it means I need to move back into a nice role, I'll do that. I'm opened anything, but I'm not staying in DC. And so he said, well, let's give the remote leadership thing and not try. And at the time I had it was about probably twenty five people across a couple of different teams, and so I moved to New York and did that for a year and it was was actually probably one of our top performing years. I don't know what that means about my leadership, but having me first means you believe in autonomy, letting your people do what they need to do. There we go, that's exactly right. So it was great. It went really well and in fact I got an offer to then we were discussions about me leaving the entire mid market division, but it meant moving back to Washington and I just said, you know, that's it's just not in the cards right now. And that's where the where Linkedin came along. A good a really good friend that I had met in New York. Her brother in law happened to work at Linkedin and he wanted to check a reference with someone on someone that I worked with it CEB, and the as he was doing the reference check with me he said you know, by the way, we're always looking for good people, and I said, well, I appreciate that, but I'm not interested. And then it had coincidentally, just it does kind of seemed, period of time I'd had just a networking coffee with the CEO who's giving me some career advice, and he said, you know, if you you probably had a point in your career at Ceb. This was probably eight or nine years and he said you're either need to like double down and be there for federation or to probably time to go do something else. But you're going to get stale unless you've decided that this is you know, this is where you want to be. It's going to start to be hard over time for you to go do other things. And so I remember hanging up the phone on that reference check conversation and then thinking back about that coffee chat with the CEO and thinking, you know, maybe I shouldn't be so dismissal so much. I I called him bag and I said, listen, I'm I'm not necessarily interesting interviewing, but let's let's have, you know, conversation and so I can learn more. And it turned out that Linkedin was, this was the early days, in a pre IPO and it was one of those like absolutely crazy on paper conversations because, you know, running the the mid market division at CEB is going to know, be a hundred people. I don't know, it's fifty or a hundred million dollar business. The role at at Linkedin that we were talking about was frontline, managing five people. And yet, and yet here I am eight years later. That is awesome and through some just absolutely incredible growth. I mean it's been it's been amazing. I have a question. So you talked you, you referenced it, you mentioned the the concept of a player coach. A lot of me and other folks that I talked to are always debating the player coach. Most of the people I know are coming down and saying it doesn't work and that you kind of need to make a commitment as a as an executive team, to either put somebody in a management position or make them an individual contributor. What's your point of view? I'm mixed. I mean, having done it myself, I appreciate how hard it is to do it well, and I think it's really hard, at least in the way that I experienced it, because usually you end up with the largest personal quota in addition to the responsibility of managing a couple of other folks, which is perhaps there are better ways to structure it. If you if you want to invest in Puting developing other people and having them to be successful. Perhaps you know, I u should take a little bit less on in my personal put it, because it just makes it really hard to know, you know, if you're paying me and measuring my success based on my personal number, and yet you really want me to do the coaching involvement. It's really hard to figure out that balance and it's in some ways is in really direct conflict, and so I think that my experience was, you know, kind of good because at least gave me some exposure to what it would be like to coach and manage others. But it was really tough and I probably didn't do it very well. So I you know, I I think in theory I don't love it. I will say, though, we're in a position right now where I've got about, I don't know, forty plus leaders on my team and there are few more people that are really interested in leadership but aren't quite ready or we don't have a job available, for a roll opening for them yet, and so I'm entertaining in a couple of places to this idea of doing a player coach role, creating one for them. This is a stretch opportunity, but recognizing that it may not be ideal, but if they're really passionate about leadership and I just don't have something for them quite yet, let's try to be thoughtful about how we constructed in a way that it can be more successful than what I experienced and probably what a lot of us have experien instant I think that's it's a great perspective. So you have forty leaders on your...

...team. From my experience, often there's a jump in skill set that's required to be an individual contributor to be a manager, but then there's a whole nother jump and skill set to be a manager of other managers. What have you learned, or what perspectives have you developed on how to be, you know, an effective boss that is overseeing a large organ if you have forty leaders, you must have, you know, couple hundred people in your in your go to market organization. How do you what do you do? What are your strategies? What are your tactics for leadership when it comes to leading a team that large? Yeah, I mean it's again, it's been a journey of lots of learning. You know, I think once you get into leadership, no matter what the scale is and how you are working under you you realize very quickly that you know, under have control. So if I think it starts with you know, recognizing that you can influence and you can guide, but you can't control the outcomes in the same way that you could as an individual contributors. I think that was a really important first and early lesson for me is recognizing that. And then it begs a question. So what do you do? And I think that's where is. You know, you've got to be able to cast a vision and more importantly than even figuring out the right vision is figuring out how to bring people along and so helping them understand the why of the things that you're asking the team to focus on or the it's in it for them. And so there's, I think, a lot of I would just characterizes change management. That is one of the most important aspects of leading a team and leading leaders. There's also this this theme around finding opportunities for observation. I think one of the things that I recognized pretty early on that was really hard was the further you get, especially if you're not even you're not co located with with your director ports, it's really hard to understand how they're actually doing because you don't get to sit in and, you know, in a room and observe them, or you're not on calls together where you can shadow. And so you've got to create opportunities, whether it's shadowing team meetings or shadowing one of ones which can be a little awkward, but finding since some moments where you can really see how is my house, my team showing up and how are they doing and how can I make sure that I'm giving them the coaching development that they need? So you want to find that right balance of, you know, enough distance on autonomy, but also enough opportunities for observations so that you can help make sure that they're they're doing the right things in the right ways and you're helping them to better. So those are a couple of things that I've learned. Yeah, and one of the to the point of you know where now later in the conversation, but one of the things that you mentioned, and in fact I was, I was, you know, we were chatting offline about this article that you were at about sort of your first, I don't know if it's your day or your first formal review, your first three hundred and sixty review at Linkedin, and you mentioned a similar a similar challenge, which is that you weren't bringing your whole self to work. And I know that leadership development of personal development is a really is a passion of years and a focus of yours. How do you bring your whole self to work. What do you say to people that are worried, to exactly to your point about when they're promoted above their peers, they're worried that they're going to be taken advantage of, their worried that they're going to lack credibility? What are your thoughts on that? Yeah, I mean. So I think I decided to actually this week that this is probably the most important work I do. More important than trying to achieve the outcomes, more important than all of the success that we want to have, is actually focusing on the individual development and and in creating environment or our teams can thrive. And so, yeah, I mean early, early in my career at Linkedin when I, you know, came over from CEB and I had eight years of history there and reputation or relationships and I came into a new company hard charging, wanted to make an impact and in that first three hundred and sixty got basically hit in the face with the hardest feedback I've ever gotten, which is basically like your team thinks you're robotic and when I and you're they think you're about it. They don't relate to you. And there are certain teams that would go into battle for you and your team would not go in to battle for you. And really, really tough message to receive, especially after having been in Saltiad for a number of years and again, on paper, to having taken the like the the job I could do in my sleep. Instead. That was a real wakeup call for me about it's not all about outcomes, it's all about the people, and I did do a lot of self reflection and try to figure out what was I doing, how was I showing up every day in the office and meetings, in my conversations with my team, that was keeping them feeling so disconnected for me and making them feel like I didn't care about them. And so it took a you know, took a while. It takes a while to dig yourself well, first figure out what it is that you're doing. It's creating an environment, and then secondly, to figure out how to how to fix it, you know, because some people are more forgiving than others, and so I think that was probably the most poignant moment in my career. That redefined for me what leadership was all about. And I intellectually...

...knew it's important to care about your people, but I had never experienced such a start contrast between what I knew to be true and what I was actually doing and what my team is experiencing. And so it led to, I'd say probably the last seven or eight year, the body of work that I have been focused on, which is, how can I ensure that the people that are part of my organization are better for having me worked with me? And that doesn't mean necessarily just being soft and warm and fuzzy and and nice to each other. It means how do we get to place where we have so much trust and so much care for each other that we can get real and we can have really tough conversations in the spirit of pushing each other to get better and growing, and so implementing things like fast feedback. When we see something that is an up to the standard or that we don't agree with, we call it out. We don't we don't hide it, we don't beat around the Bush, we have a conversation about it. Do you have a is it a private conversation or a public conversation? Interesting, you shuld ask many people. They cringe at the thought of this, but oftentimes it's in public, and I don't mean calling someone out on the floor. But when we get together as a leadership team we do some pretty intensive sessions around how we're showing up and that's often in a group of, you know, could be five to eight to ten people at a time and we're sitting around the room and everyone's writing feedback in all directions and that means I'm getting feedback in front of my team, I'm also giving it to them and often times it's skip level too, so it might be, you know, I'll participate with one of my director reports teams and so it creates a really interesting dynamic of you know, not everyone's super comfortable, but I will say that the feedback I've gotten has been I mean just for arm warming you get, you know, no one likes it in the moment, but I think once people step away and reflect and and look at the growth that they've had, because some of the the moments of self awareness and the feedback that they've gotten, many of them have said I hadn't in my career had that kind of growth and I haven't had that investment since, and I think that gives me a lot of comfort. Even in the moments ort and everyone's sort of cringing that that we're having to have these sessions. So it's a little bit of both and of course you'd give feedback in private as well when it's warranted. My busines me personally to the point of getting real my fear about that as a I guess I would just have to trust that the organization is not so trigger happy around firing people, that the that the feedback is genuine and that the commitment to improvement is genuine and that I have enough time to work on it. Do you find that you need to reassure people that, like, we're giving you feedback, but your job is not on the line. We just want you to get better and you're going to have time to improve. How do you structure the natural tension between being called out in public on something that you need to improve with the underlying fears about job security? Yeah, you know, I don't know that. I don't know that I've ever explicitly called that out, but I actually think so. I think there's a there's a an important step before we get streightned a feedback, which is creating a safe environment and demonstrating vulnerability. And so I think when is it? What that would look like is, I know if I were kicking off the session, I would share with the team how I'm feeling. I would share something. It might be, I'm sure, instence going on personally. I mean it, it could run in the gamut, but it's demonstrating that, as the leader, I'm willing to put my own feelings, emotions, insecurities out there and I'm creating the space and saying the tone for the kind of conversation I want to have. And, by the way, I wouldn't do that if I didn't care. And so I think you you can't just launch it to feedback in front of a group of people without having the foundations of trust and vulnerability, and so that's a really important, I think, first step and and I also talk about, and I frame this for the team, a teams where there's no trust, everyone's really nice to each other. It's only the teams where there's real trust that we can start to have these kinds of conversations. And then, you know, I think for you know, I'm sure that there is some fear and in security with when we start to have these exposing conversations, but at the same time I think we've got enough of a track record of being really thoughtful and investing in the individual and giving them time and space to improve that. You know, I don't think I've ever actually let someone go because of the stuff that's come up in these these conversations. So if it's gone that way, it's probably been a mutual decision that it's just the right, you know, the right in Mynment, of the right kind of growths that they're interested in. So, you know, I think cork doing okay. It's a really good call. It makes something I'll think about for the next one. I don't I don't mean the second guess you. I have another question, which is something that you wrote about actually in that and the blog post that you have up on linkedin around that tough three hundred and sixty that you got in your first period and you said you mentioned something about focusing on people's strengths and enhancing their strengths versus focusing them on trying to correct weaknesses and or, you know, areas from provement. So in that spirit, I'm also curious about your perspective on feedback in general, and you know how changeable are people. How do you structure feedback to make it as useful and as practical and as actionable as possible, and do you...

...find that it's sometimes trying to get somebody to correct a weakness is the wrong emphasis, but maybe it's let's try and enhance their strengths and get the most out of them. So I'm sort of leading the witness. But what are your thoughts? Yeah, I mean I guess that came from a place went when, when that the whole thing happened, I realized that what I had been doing, what I you know, came into Linkedin, and I it was so easy to identify that everything was wrong because I was coming from a really tight sales operation, you know, I mean it was a I think ceby was one of the most well run sales ortizations, but I can imagine, and Linkedin was, you know, as again early days, very entrepreneurial, not a lot of process. It was so easy to figure out what everyone needed to fix or and where I could fix everyone. And you know, I think that was just this realization I had of wow, that's such a crummy way that look at your people. And and then I had a learned from one of our leaders and Shapiro, who had this perspective of you can certainly try to go fix people. But wouldn't it be more powerful if you can help the help them improve by the one thing that if they can go from good degrade or the one thing that they can make progress on? That that might actually be more impactful than going into trying to fix something that some you know somewhere, somebody does not that capability. So I think it depends that we're talking about. To you know, if you're not making enough you know, outreach and you're not out visiting customers enough, that's a different kind of feedback and coaching. Then let's figure out how to help you with your negotiation or closing skills and going from okay to great. So I think it just it depends on what we're talking about. But I think in general with the feedback, I've always been a really big proponent of let's find the one thing, not the ten things, and I think many, many managers tend to find it's like flavor of the week. You pick one thing this week and one thing next week. But I think it what's a lot more effective is to pick the one thing that really is going to be needle moving and then let's stay on that theme until you make progress and that's where I think feedback can be most effective and that's, I think, to nit your original question. Yes, I think people can change as long as you're really clear about what the behavior or the skill is and you stay focused on it until there's progress. And do you feel like every piece of feedback needs to there, like, does it need to be correlated to something that you can measure so that you can so that it can be clear to the individual what the feedback is related to? No, I kind of give more way, a lot more feedback on a lot of us soft, soft skills. And you know, maybe this is because I'm, you know, mostly focus these days on leadership development. But I'll give you an example. We have a relatively new leader and the team and she's wonderful, who's so great and that's so many great things to share, but in a in a group setting, she is really reticent to speak up and when she has in a couple of occasions it's been is she should have given way all of her power. It's rather meek, it's rather kind of quiet under her breath and and so we had called her after one of the meetings and I said, you, I'm really, I really appreciate that you spoke up and I really want you to be conscious just of your tone and your volume and your projection, because you're either giving away power or owning your power in that moment. And so that's not, you know, neither of us can measure that per se, but we can both be conscious of improvement from the with the baseline was and so and she's great and I'll she checks in with me after meetings and we can kind of ass ass for that progress she's making. So that's examples in is, you know, much, much more on the softer side. Yeah, no, make sense. So if we're thinking about, you know, to your point, a skill, something that you're passion about, is building high performing sales teams, and part of it is creating an atmosphere of trust and vulnerability that starts from the top. Part of it is fast feedback. What are the other tenants that you think are really, really critical if we're going to build a team that that excels? Yeah, so I have not talked about this before because I haven't until this week. It's not something that I really experienced before, but this week my my director ports and I did a North America road show with each each day we went across to one of our different offices and spent less than twenty four hours in each city doing, you know, kind of an all hands rally cry. Let's finish out before strong and get excited for next year. But we also decided to add a couple of breakout section sessions that I was sort of characterizing as more humanistic and they were conversations, just real what I would cared do is real talk, real conversations that we're not used to having about the fears and the insecurity and anxiety that we all experience every day but we don't talk about. And so one of those sessions was how can we have an honest conversation about how we're feeling the stress and anxiety? For us it's Q for Right now, and then how can we better balance and manage our emotional hygiene and stress? So that was one. We had another topic where a couple of my director ports and...

I talked about what our hours are, how we actually how hard we work, how long we work, what our days look like, in this spirit of trying to demistify what I think can be very intimidating jobs, because I had had a couple of chats with the reps who said they wouldn't necessarily want a job like mine because they want to have a family, and I kind of I thought that was so, so upsetting that they felt like they couldn't have both. And so we wanted to be able to have a real conversation about how do we get it all done and juggle it all and you know, and the reality is that in some cases, the more senior you get, it's not like you just like work longer hours, you just you spend your time differently and you spend your energy differently, and so that was another conversation. But the last one, which was the most powerful and I think is the work that I'm probably going to throw myself into most wholeheartedly, is a conversationally called removing your mask. And you know, there's a lot of conversation today about diversity and cushion belonging and it's a huge theme at lengthen and I think we've done a great job in a lot of ways and there's a long route road ahead for us to really be creating us an environment where everyone feels like they could be there a full true authent excels at work. And so we had reps it from across the country and each of these cities sharing their experience of what it comes it's like to come to work every day wearing a mask, and I'll think it's give you a couple quick examples and one case it was a woman who was recently sober and she feels like she has to wear a mask every day when you know we're you're popping champaigning, the celebrate Prota crossing or somebody's promotion, you're going to happy hour, and what her experience of the world is, or someone who suffers from anxiety and depression. We had another one who she's a member of our teams of lesbian and and to talk about her experience of the world and what that's like and actually how isolating it is because she feels so different than everyone else, feels that she's so different. And so it's like, even though we have this incredible loving, warm caring culture, there are individuals and we all have stuff that we're dealing with in our lives and I think that this idea of creating an environment we're it's okay to talk about it might be the most transformative thing that we can do for a lot of these individuals and I think for me I'm a lot more focused right now on investing and creating a space for the humans on our team of people, and I think when you can create that kind of connection, that's when you build followership and that's where you inspire people and that's where they feel connected with the mission, in the vision what we're doing and they'll go, you know, run through walls for you. And so I think that's a long answer to your short question, but that to me, I think, is the work around. I building hypoforman he's these days. Is there are a book we should read or somebody we should hire? Should we get you as a guest speaker, if we want to do something practical and immediate to start installing and implementing you know some of what you're talking about well, I think. I think I will write a book about this at some point. I think. I think there is I think it's this. I've never experienced this in the people in the room yesterday and this we have said. I've been working for twenty five years and I've never had this kind of conversation at work. I think there is an opportunity to start a movement for all of us to create these kinds of open and safe spaces. So I don't know that there is necessarily a playbook for that conversation other than, you know, seeing maybe tested out to see if that's now take a few members of your organization and and see if they're interested in having a conversation and sharing their story. Because, by the way, what happened after the those panels was the most exciting part of all of it is all of these people started just to share their versions with each other and their stories and feeling connected and feeling safe in a very different way. So that's, you know, maybe want to just go experiment. I will say that I think there's an amazing book called the advantage that talks a lot about some of the feedback and building great leadership teams. Are you familiar with that, that book? I am indeed, Mr Lindseoni. Of course it's. I mean, I think it's it's such a great I would say more like hand guide, or practical guide to handbook of how to actually do this at some of the stuff in practice, maybe not the what I just describe, which is a certainly a bit more personal, but on the team building and leadership development and in creating trust. I think that's probably one of the best books that I've seen out there. How about you? Do you have any others that you recommend? That's what's it. What a great question. Well, HMM, I mean my favorite book on leadership, which I talked about all the time, is this book. First, break all the rules, which is it's got like, I think, twelve steps, twelve sort of sequential questions that have to be answered to build a really high performing team. That's one and the first question that must be answered, as do I know it's expected of me. That is a you have to be able to answer that question on behalf of, you know, the people that work for you if you want them to do something, of course. So that's one. And your point about Lency one. You know, the five disunctions of a team is, you know, like the starting point for a lot of people as they dive into some of this stuff, and I've found that really, really interesting, really helpful. Yeah, I need to read I read the Bitch. I had read the five dissunctions, but I all add to the list. There go,...

Alyssa, it's been amazing to be on the show. One of the things we like to do right at the very end is pay it forward a little bit and hear about people that have influenced you that you think higlie of, that you think we should know about. So, if you're thinking about influences, mentors, people that you really look up at, up to and respect, who are some of those folks that have played a pivotal role in your life? Yeah, professionally speaking, yes, is. I wasn't the focus on the professional I there too, that I would the kind of mine immediately. And the first is a barrier, dear friend and the woman who hired me into that mid market roll after I was coming back from London, and that's Susan Miller. She, I feel like she took the first real shot on me as a leader and invested so deeply and was so great at being real and coaching me and also giving me just a moving strutted roles and opportunities before anyone was else was willing to do it. And so, Susan, love you and thank you and she's amazing and she's now the the Sierra Crow of a really good company. And then a second one be Pete Kim, who is the one who hired me at Linkedin, who gave me all that really tough feedback that almost broke my soul, but it also is, I think, single handly responsible for transforming my career, because without the experience of working for him and to know what it feels like for someone to care so deeply about you that they're willing to take you to a deep dark place that you need to go face, I wouldn't be the leader that I am today. So to people that I will have in my life forever, and I can't say enough great things about Awesome Alissa. If people want to reach out to you after hearing what you've shared and are inspired by it or the want to work for you, are you open to that? What's your preferred channel of Communication? How should people reach out if they want to? Yes, well as pizza. To me, we're always hiring great people. So I love, love her books there each out of any of what I shared doesn't scare scare away. Linkedin is is the best place to reach me, so that I welcome any and all that I'll reach that way. I'd be great, awesome and for those it's probably in the show. Notes are on the title, but it's Alyssa Alissa, and then Merwin m e Er Wi in, and I'm sure you can find her on Linkedin. Alyssa, thanks so much for being on the show. It's been fantastic to have you. Thank you. Hey, folks. Sam Jacobs. It's SAM's corner. That was a fantastic conversation with Alyssa. Just a lot of really important insights about the skills, the personal the human connection skills that are required to be a great leader and a great manager. And we talked about a lot of different subjects and aspects of this idea, but one of them she mentioned, and if you're out there listening and you've just been promoted to be manager and you're now managing a team of people that used to be your peers, don't make these mistakes. One of the things that Alyssa said is the next day, when she was at Corporate Executive Board and she was promoted from str to Sdr, bdr is what the title was, in to bed our manager. She said she came in and she, you know, she put on her boss face, you know, and she she was determined to be the boss and she was probably a little bit more remote, she was a little bit tougher, probably trying to act and walk with authority in a way that she thought might imply credibility, and it doesn't work. It doesn't work if people know who you are and you're automatically acting like somebody different. So don't put on airs. When you're a manager or a leader. You have to embrace all sides of yourself. People respond to authenticity, they respond to Real, real connection, real interpersonal relationships, and so the more that you're sort of acting like what you think the idea of a boss is supposed to be, I think, the less effect if you're going to be in this modern world, and I think Alissa really drives that home. One of the things you talked about is the conditions for a high performing sales team. One of them is that you have to be able to receive feedback, and the way that you are able to receive feedback is if the leader in the managers creating an environment of trust and intimacy. And so if you if you are out there, you have to lead first by being vulnerable yourself as a leader and you have to make sure that you create a zone of psychological safety, that it's okay for people to be themselves. Some of the most important work that Elsa was talking about that she's now emphatic about the first time she shared it is about this concept of these workshops where people were removing their masks and talking about what it's like for them to come to work every day and what their personal issues were, and she mentioned somebody that's going through recovery that you know. That person obviously doesn't feel included if every celebration is going to be about alcohol, and that's just one example. So really creating a zone of psychological safety and that that's what enables you to give tough feedback, because people understand that you're not against them, you're not out to get them, you're not doing it because you're trying to be big boss person, you're doing it because you care about them. You have to deliver feedback compassionately, but if you can do that compassionately, you can really see results. People respond. It Res Names with people, so be yourself. That's the that is the lesson of SAM's...

...corner. Now, before we go, we of course want to thank our sponsors. We've got two sponsors. Conga, which is the leading end to end digital document transformation suite and outreach outreaches, the leading sales engagement platform, as I mentioned at the top of the show. If you haven't rated the show on Itunes, please do so. We would love your four or five star ratings and we really appreciate your feedback. If you want to get in touch with me, you always can. It's linkedincom forward, the word in forward. Sam F Jacobs, happy to tell you more about Revena collective, which is my life's work. Happy to tell you more about the show and happy to receive feedback on the show. So thanks for listening and we'll talk to you next time.

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