Whether it is a new strategy, new product or whatever, teaching is really important in Corporate AMerica. But so few corporations are good at actual teaching. They barf up information in an hour or a day, then expect us to learn it on our own. There is no reinforcement, check for understanding, etc. When I taught, I gave what I needed to teach in 10 minutes, spent a period of time reinforcing it, then continued to loop back to it. This never happens in Corporate America. How much productivity is lost by this?
The strangest boss I ever had I didn’t think would be that way. He looked polished and professional. But he was odd in so many ways:
- He took his shoes off and walked round the office in his socks. So we’d have a guy in a suit walking around in his stocking feet. Like I wanted his foot oil and odor in my work place (bleh).
- He fell asleep mid-conversation on the short drive back from a client visit.
- He was always late, and we never knew where he was, but was obsessive about where other people were when he was there.
- ALways worked from home, but didn’t like any of us working from home.
- Threatened to fire someone for repeating a mistake in a team meeting. (“You do that again, you’re fired.”).
- Would obsessive about the little things – for example, there were a few small coffee stains on the carpet just outside the kitchen that honestly were difficult to even see, but he was always obsessing about them, asking who was spilling on the carpet, etc.
- Would tell stories about how he’d get up in the middle of the night to clean the kitchen sink because he’d remembered it wasn’t clean.
- He ran a depressing office. It was so quiet in there, and although everyone was nice I don’t think anyone was happy being there.
My most recent boss was also a little strange. He was so friendly and forthright when he recruited me, and we had several wonderful conversations before I joined, but within a couple of months it was painful to have a conversation with him. It was excruciating going to client meetings with him, since he had very little to say on the way there or back, and he was so nice but tended to make passive aggressive comments about people that indicated a deep source of frustration. Ugh. I feel it is very dishonest to portray yourself as one way when courting someone then being another way after the courting is over. Be who you are so there are no unpleasant surprised for anyone later!
I’ve been entertaining the idea of working with Microsoft. But I dread checking their career site more than any other site. Why? It is clunky and their Job Descriptions are excruciatingly long and boring. It is a huge investment in time and energy just to read a rather dull job description, like reading a long drawn out description of what a tire is, how great that tire is, and every single component that is needed to make a tire rather than saying “We need someone who can change a tire with proven experience and refernces to attest as such.”
I’ve always thought that once you showed you can do something, that it is obvious that you can do something. For example, if I am a basketball player who leads the league in scoring, I can obviously score. But for whatever reason, this is not true when interviewing for sales positions.
What I mean is this… 12 years ago I was looking for software sales jobs, but two strikes against me were in my previous role I had not had a quota* and I had not needed to cold call since my company worked with most customers. By some miracle, I talked a company into taking a chance on me, and I not only became the #1 sales person for exceeding my quota but cold called successfully. In other words, I showed I can do it! Never again would I have a problem getting a software sales job!
(An aside… A year later, I was interviewing for a job where the primary customer was Microsoft. I’d never worked with Microsoft before, so although I had a good track record the hiring manager went with another candidate. Again, by some miracle, the next company I worked for gave me Microsoft as an account and I exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and made quota at Microsoft every year for over 5 years. Once again, I proved I can do it.)
The past few years, I’ve sold services instead of software. But not now that I am trying to get into software again, companies are afraid to hire me – my background recently has shown me to be a services person. Does it matter that 10 years ago I passed everyone’s wildest expectations selling software? No. Once again I have to re-prove myself and try to find someone who will “take a chance” on me.
It’s never easy. 🙂
For several months I was breaking my butt, making sales calls, setting up meetings, finding a few opportunities, including a couple of real good opportunities. I was frustrated with our lack of detail in delivery and our delivery’s slow responses and missed meetings, but figured that was part of the learning curve of this org and I would be able to adapt as time went on. But in October our owner vented at me about our lack of sales, never mind that I’d warned him before even accepting the job that their solutions would take time to build, and that was before I realized some of the other challenges we faced. I was irritated that he blamed me, versus recognizing there had been challenges but we were making progress (and we were).
Since that time, my sales activities have dropped by 25%, not out of spite but because I am no longer killing myself (working from home at 6 AM, racing to the office, staying after the office closes, working through lunch). I am funny – I work as hard (if not harder) than anyone when I am appreciated, something that others have always recognized in me. But that is not unconditional, and I know from experience that I only respond well to criticism if I truly truly respect the person giving me constructive feedback, which is rare and is definitely not this company.
I think that is true of most people. I like to hire hard workers then encourage them to reinforce good behaviors versus criticizing. I’ve hired two people who turned out to not meet expectations, and both were strong referrals taht went against my gut, a mistake I’ll never make again.
When I used to sponsor a lot of technical demos, where I’d have a sales engineer present technology to a room full of techies, I was frequently reminded that techies speak a lot of gibberish, even to each other. For example, I’d listen to a few techies talk in Greek to each other and not be able to discern what they were talking about but feeling impressed at their level of knowlegdge. Then, almost invariably, later I would mention to one of the techies later in private what a great conversation that seemed to be, and they’d say, “Oh, he/she doesn’t know what he is talking about” then explain how most of what they were saying didn’t make sense.
I’d forgotten about this, but yesterday, I sat in a room where four techies talked to each other about the cloud, including SaaS and Lambda and other things. I heard them talking about latency and instances and data collection and so on, and in general couldn’t string together the general meanings although I know what each of the phrases were. Then, after the meeting, one of them said, “I didn’t know half of what I was saying” although all the other guys int he room were nodding the entire time he was talking.
So, once again, I am left thinking that most of what techies talk about is truly gibberish, even to themselves. They are masters at baffling people with BS.
Wife M and I rarely — if ever — yell at each other. At times we might get sarcastic, express displeasure at something or even bicker, but we rarely actually yell (and 99% of the time we are lovey-dovey :)). So I’ve always wondered, how does someone start yelling in a relationship? In those relationships where a person is moody and raises their voice — how does it progress from the first date and the honeymoon period to actual yelling? I could never quite figure that out. But after a meeting with my boss last week, I think I know…
My boss actively courted me for over six months. We had coffee, he sent me notes asking me to come work for him, and when I started working for him he stopped by several times a day to make sure I was okay. Then after a few weeks he stopped popping by. Then he started coming in through the other door so some days I didn’t see him, and if I popped in his office for a moment to ask about something he had a look of tolerance on his face, like I was interrupting him. One day he didn’t make eye contact as I passe dhim. In the meantime, he made a flippant comment about an employee or two, and I heard him yelling twice at other employees through the office walls.
Then last week, he raised his voice at me during a meeting. Not actual yelling, but he was visibly frustrated and his voice was over a conversational level. I hate yelling. My family yelled at each other a lot when I was growing up, and over time I came to really hate it. So when someone yells at me I genuinely want to punch them, and when the yelling is over it is hard for me to not distrust them (although he is not a bad guy, per se). Last week, my boss didn’t actually yell at me, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the escalation over time, over hear the yelling at others, and to see that eventually I too will be yelled at.
But what is most interesting, is that *now* I see how people start yelling at their spouse – it happens gradually, like the foot in the door principal. So in baby steps you go from whispering sweet nothings with someone to their hollering at you and blaming you for their problems. Wild!
I am glad Wife M and I don’t yell at each other (I think our last genuine yelling match was almost 20 years ago). And I don’t know how someone can spend their life with someone — and sleep with someone — who yells at them. I think I would have to leave that person. And because I was an adult before yelling truly started to repulse me, I am lucky that I met Wife M young and it happened to be that we’re not yellers.
Had coffee with a former employee who remains at the company where we worked together. It sounds like the company is still a mess, and mired in metrics hell. For example, each Rep has to find 6-8 leads a week, and they are measured on how well the delivery team covers the leads since (in theory) if the lead is good then delivery will do good work on it. This is shocking – the delivery team isn’t doing good work and usually blames the leads, since they don’t really have any accountability (again, if the leads don’t advance it is the rep’s fault).
Meanwhile, there are twice a week meetings where each rep’s leads are reviewed, they are given action items on each lead then questioned about the these items at the next meeting. So there is a perpetual current of stress that begins with the 6-8 leads and runs down sh** creek from there.
Oh my god. What a hell hole, and a sign that the company is run by a former data-obsessesed engineer and not an actual good business person. It makes me veeeerrrrryyyyy glad I don’t work there anymore. How can you possibly be strategic and thorough — and possibly enjoy your job — when you are obsessed all the time about meeting one-size-fits-all metrics developed by people with no common sense? 🙂
This past week was one of the worst weeks I can remember at successfully reaching people. Very few people responded to my emails, and even fewer picked up my phone calls. Why? I don’t know – I am just reporting what the data shows me. In general, I reach people about 11% of the time when I make an attempt to reach them (which means when I *have* to reach them I need to try several times :)). This week was 7%. 8% is lousy, and about as low as I ever see except for the week of July 5, Christmas, etc. so this week was absolutely brutal. Ironically though, I had several good meetings so it was overall a successful week.
Speaking of which, it is ironic that I make a lot of sales calls each week. I *hate* using the phone — I literally walk several blocks to my favorite pizzeria to place my delivery order so I don’t have to phone in the order and I am pretty bad at returning voice mails but good about responding to text. But my job pays the bills, and I’ve found over the years that phone is an effective tool for doing my job, so just have to grin (and reward myself with coffee and chocolate) and bear it. I am also less likely to pick up a call from a friend than I am from an employee – I always pick up calls from people who work for me. On weekends, I don’t pick up the phone from anyone who is not a client or employee – friends know to text me if they want to reach me, and if they don’t text then it must not be that important or must not be anyone that truly knows me that well 🙂
In my last job, we had this clown VP Howard in New York, one of those loud and annoying guys who is like 300 years old and was buddies with the CEO and always flying into everyone’s offices but no one knew exactly what he did. He and I didn’t always see eye to eye — it was one of those things where my team was dependent occasionally on my pushing back on his intrusivness so that we could generate revenue, so to ignore him hurt my business but to push back hurt me politically and unfortunately he had a vested interested in one of our area accounts so was always in our business poking around. But he was also one of those guy was always calling on things that he could’ve emailed about, so we would have a 20 minute conversation (mostly one sided) about something that would have taken a 2-minute email or text exchange. I used to call him (privately) the SHakespearean Fool – the foolish court jester that everyone pokes fun at but also has the king’s attention so is potentially dangerous. I am very glad I don’t have to worry about that guy anymore.
I was looking for a file from last year and came across my resume, which I glanced at and I realized – it is hard to manage the resume after 15 years of success. 🙂 Since embarking on my career, I have never been a guy who just puts in my hours. I get bored and depressed when I treat a professional job like an hourly job. So I put my analytical skills and higher-than-average work ethic to the max when I work, and although I try to limit my days to 9 or 10 hours, they are hard working 9 or 10 hours. Many sales people spend their hours surfing the web, having coffee with peers, meeting with the same easy-to-meet clients, doing their reports, etc. but I am always out trying to generate new business. So the problem as my career gets longer is showing that in my resume without people skimming through the years and making their own assumptions based on a quick skim.