Being a salesman

So my first sales hire started this week, on Friday. I am excited for the reasons I described above, but also because now we get to see what happens when you prime the pump with a young, motivated person who I can train, who has real sales targets, and whose commission structure is very generous after he hits those targets. So now we see.
We also got the unexpected news late on Friday that an intern that we weren’t expecting for a month was going to be arriving next week. So now we have some more resources to throw at our customer care initiative and at prospecting.
The biggest problem remains not having enough hours in the day. I keep wishing I were superhuman and could do more than I am. But, I am what I am. I suppose the same goes for my team; I wish our technical staff were bigger. But we aren’t. Yet. I guess it’s a good thing that everyone is over-busy as it beats the alternative, but we do have to be careful not to get so caught up in the day-to-day that we lose sight of the big picture.
Our main task for January was staff recruitment in sales and admin/operations, and for me, to wrap my head around the finances, which I now know better than I did but I want to be knowing some of these metrics by heart. February is going to be budgeting & financial planning, sales, account management, and product month. I put up a white board with our top 5 priorities on it, next to the office announcements board. I wrote up six priorities as I wasn’t able to stop at five.
So this week I was recovering, mentally and physically, from the competition last weekend. Firstly, I saw my miracle-worker Byron and then I went to acupuncture. The latter was absolutely epic; I fell asleep on the table within 10 minutes, and when I came to it had knocked me so completely on my ass that I was barely able to concentrate on qigong and then couldn’t do any work at all later that evening so I went to bed. Healing is training, too, of a sort. Sometimes the healing is more hectic than the training!
Not more so than Thursday’s session, though, where part of our workout was five rounds of 40 second sprints on the rower. I was very proud of myself for not holding back, although my body did give up and my power output decreased from the first to the fifth round, but after I finished I did indeed fall off the rower not to stand up again for a good five minutes. THAT is the Ellie I was missing last weekend. I finished and I actually kind of wanted to cry a little bit. Which is weird, that feeling had never come across me before.
Er, at least not like that. I must say it was interesting to hear the response from some of the folks at the gym to my competition, and in particular that last event. Interesting indeed. Also amusing to watch someone nearly fall over because of a rower but for different reasons than mine.
I managed to have a somewhat social week, too, which is probably a good thing. I made a new friend called Lance. What happens when  a sales guy meets a sales girl? They try and sell each other stuff. Like advice about work/life balance.  And talk about CrossFit. But he’s very cool, and what really makes me smile is the story of his young daughter who misheard ‘Cape Town’ and thought he was flying to ‘Cake Town.’ Can you imagine? Like a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory writ large. Cake Town!
But, as an ex-ISP guy, I was happy to hear that he approves of my strategy, even the more extreme bits. I suppose I’m a bit ruthless when it comes to core competencies, but what the hell: go big or go home. I don’t have the time to mess around.
This subject came up again a few times this week: with Kelsey at breakfast at Arnold’s, with Michelle at Alex’s birthday, with Juliet at dinner at her place.  You know, it’s easy to say that people should break out of their ruts and get over their fears and shit. But then again how many of my deepest darkest fears do I really face? Normally I just avoid them, or tap out. For me the bigger ones aren’t work-related, they’re personal. I have no problem in the boardroom or at the negotiating table; I have problems admitting what I want.
This is the best quote from this blog post that I love about overcoming your fears: Like George Clooney said in Three Kings, “The way it works is, you do the thing you’re scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before.”
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I love that my friends seem to find me inspiring and charming. But it’s not actually me, it’s the salesman in me. And, perhaps, that I’m genuine in my compliments. And that I genuinely like people.
I’m also loving this feeling at this time of year. The results of a full month of clean eating are showing themselves. The body image issues I had last year have not recurred [yet]. OK, I lie, but at least not as bad as before. I’m almost fully healthy, and it feels so nice to train like that: solid, balanced, stable, but with the added benefit of a heightened focus on form.
I learned a lot from last year. I learned that this strict diet is for me, and not for my team. It’s annoying, yes, to go to the coolest bar I’ve been to in Cape Town, by far, with the best mixologists (apparently), and have to turn down free drinks five times in an hour. Well, somehow the ratio of male to female at Knock Knock was a bit out of whack on that evening. But nonetheless, I really wanted a strawberry mojito, but I wanted even more not to keep to my commitment to myself for the second year in a row.  
But wow what a great week of friends and conversation! Everything from the confidence of sport with Kelsey to talking about the guy she’s been seeing to talking with Michelle who was wondering out loud how one finds the time to be seeing anyone [indeed], to eating disorders, overtraining, and my plans to Wi-Fi the world with Juliet.
Speaking of Juliet, she’s a kindred soul. She was telling this beautiful story of becoming frustrated with a co-worker because said co-worker was not able to see a situation multi-dimensionally. It was this frustrated: ‘But how can she not SEE!?!’ that I thought was actually quite cute. I mean, you can’t get frustrated with someone who doesn’t see what you see. Obviously, they miss it. Not everyone is a broad, strategic, lateral thinker.
On the subject of such people my VC is getting hardcore on me! The honeymoon’s over and he’s asking the tough questions very bluntly now. As he should be. That’s what a good Board does, is watch out for your blind spots and hold you accountable. Doug may be the most incisive person I know. In most cases I have the answers; I just remain frustrated that there are not enough hours in the day.
As a product manager, I used to pride myself on being able to talk as easily to sales as to engineers. That skill and underlying nerdiness has served me well so far in sales, business development, and relationship building in what’s a very technical industry at the end of the day. But opportunity and potential is one thing; execution is another. Now comes crunch time in becoming Skyrove product manager.
We had an Olympic lifting seminar on Saturday. Somehow I wound up feeling physically weak that morning and my poor hands were hurting (whine, whine). But something is definitely happening: between what Grant taught me the other week and something that kind of came together with my tall snatches or high hang snatches or whatever you want to call them …. It’s a process, fixing ingrained crappy movement patterns. But when that first pull is right, the bar flies. When you get that full hip extension, the bar flies. Now if I could only put the first pull and second pull together I’d be all set.
That feeling of the bar being weightless, for that split-second: it’s magic. Kind of like getting your balance right and walking on your hands, which I’m practicing more now. Because it’s fun. And because I can.
So is getting to the bottom of your to-do list. Mine had 18 items on it Saturday afternoon when I started. As it stands now it’s down to about 12, most of which are, in fact, critical to get done before the end of the weekend. 3, 2, 1, go!
  • “Human beings are strange with these things.” – Rudolph
  • “It’s an extreme interpretation. But it’s not invalid.” – Lance
  • “It does mean you’re a salesman.” – Lance   
  • “He’s probably more angel than human.”  – Mom
  • “That’s the beauty of IT. It does what it wants, when it wants.” – Scott
  • “No man! You can’t take the good looking one!” – Bronwyn
  • “Because it shows autonomy.” – Doug
  • “I liked that it seemed organised.” – Adam
  • “So, I wanted to tell you that I’ve hit the first problem of the day.” – Bronwyn (always a Friday!)
  • “I’ve never seen it like this!” – Bronwyn
  • “It’s a hobby.” “Not with you guys!!” – Ellie & Alex
  • “What about liquor and men?” “Bad combo.” “Oh. Yes.” – Ellie & Michelle
  • “What did you do to poor Andy?” “I called him a toy.” – Laurie & Michelle
  • “I’m afraid all the time. But I do stuff anyhow.” – Andy
  • “Ellie isn’t drinking because she’s in a cult.” – Rob
  • “You have to get comfortable with the idea that it’s not going to kill you.” – Jean 

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