Talked to former employee about how work was going, made me glad I was not working there any more :)

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?  🙂 

Talked to former employee about how work was going, made me glad I was not working there any more :)

Whoa – a brutal (challenging) week to reach clients by phone – which in some ways is kind of nice :)

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.

Whoa – a brutal (challenging) week to reach clients by phone – which in some ways is kind of nice :)

Hardest part of a lengthening and successful career is whittling down the resume :)

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.  

Hardest part of a lengthening and successful career is whittling down the resume :)

The Miracle of a box fan in my office

Silence in the work place is depressing to me.  I think it goes back to growing up with some moodiness around me (friends, family, etc.) so I often associate silence in group settings as judgement and heaviness.  But conversation is distracting and I don’t like being in a loud bullpen environment when I need to work (which basically every minute of the day I am at the office).  By chance, I now have a fan in my office, and the white noise is wonderful – it prevents complete silence without the distraction of conversatoin.  Who’da thunk??

The Miracle of a box fan in my office

A sign of the times in USA is that it doesn’t make a difference if I mention that I am a customer when I am sales calling

10 years ago if I mentioned to a potential client that I was a customer of their company, they were much more likely to respond to my voice mail or email.  For example, I was having difficulty reaching a Director at Alaska Airlines in that she wouldn’t answer my calls or return my messages (why would she?  Her job description doesn’t include returning calls of Sales Guys); then I mentioned in an email that I was an MVP of her airline – she returned my email that day.  So I did that for awhile, and it worked, except for a regional Pharmacy (who I have not gone to since).  I went to a new role for several years where I didn’t call on places where I was a custtomer.  

The past two years I’ve returned to a role where I have the opportunity to mention people I am a customer.  I’ve mentioned I am a policy holder to Symetra (true), that my office makes field trips to donate to the local blood bank (true), and so on – only one person has returned my message when I’ve mentioned that.  To me, that is a sign of the times – people are too busy and too disposable too care, to give a courtesy return call to someone giving their business to them.  In the 2000s US, we are all out for ourselves (with some exceptions, of course) and not playing in this thing called life as a team.  It is too bad.  It is also a missed opportunity for companies…

A couple of years ago,  I reached a CTO at a rapidly growing start-up company.  He listened to my brief introduction for a moment, then asked if my company was a customer of his company.  “No,” I said.  “Listen, I’m interested, but we try only to do business with companies that do business with us.”  He was sincere and respectful, and honestly I loved it.  He told me if we became a customer of his company, to call him back.  What was the first thing I did?  I marched down the hall to my boss and asked if we could consider taking a look at this CTO’s solutions.  Brilliant.

When companies and/or managers don’t respond to a sales guy who is also a customer, it is a missed opportunity. It also has cost a few companies my business.  And, most importantly, a sign that our country has (temporarily?) lost its soul.

This didn’t happen overnight.  It started in the 80s, when offshoring and layoffs and union-busting and tax breaks that fueled income disparity began. Then post 9/11, when companies became incredibly automated and efficient with fewer workers, it continued.  We are all disposable in 2010s USA.  So of course a VP won’t care that I am a customer of their company, when they don’t know if they will have a job next month due to profit-fueled layoffs and when the bloated company alread has 10s of millions of customersf.

A sign of the times in USA is that it doesn’t make a difference if I mention that I am a customer when I am sales calling

Sooooo many managers say they find it really unpleasant to manage people

As Corporate America increasingly goes through reorg and consolidation hell, an amazing number of managers and DIrectors I’ve worked with over the years are now individual contributer worker bees.  And it is amazing how many of them didn’t like managing people.  In fact, I’ve yet to meet one manager at a cocktail party, meeting or other who actually said they enjoy managing people — most find it stressful and unpleasant.  THe most common phrase I think is “babysitting.”

I just spoke to a woman who just a few weeks ago went from management to being a worker bee.  She is in heaven.  She has gone from 70 hours a week to 50, and doesn’t have to be positive all the time (it is like the Frasier episode where the middle school drama teacher said she was sick of being positive all the time 🙂 ).  

My very own dad, who managed as many as 2500 people at one point (but is retired), said his happiest days were as a programmer.  

It is hard to manage people.  THings come up in their life that impact the team that you as manager have to deal with.  SOme people don’t like to work.  There is a lot of tattletaling and complaining about co-workers.  And the bottom line is your management holds you accountable for the people beneath yo. Maybe that is why their are so many sociopathic awful managers in management — if you are sane you try to get out, but if you are a sociopath you like bossing people around and treating them like dirt 🙂

For me?  I have a love hate relationship with managing people.  I love being a part of people’s lives and being able to help them.  But the tattletaling and the worrying about apathetic contributors is stressful.  

Sooooo many managers say they find it really unpleasant to manage people

Rant & Bad Memory: Am thinking of the time that nutbag Mahfuz took me out of the field to create a fictious business plan

We were taken out of the field for a full f***ing week two years ago and flown across the country and stuck in a dark conference room during the all-important January to attend a Sales Training mandated by that nutbag Mahfuz, our so-called leader.  This was bad enough, but then we spent most of the time brainstorming for a new business idea that we could pitch to customers.  WTF.  We were running a 500M organization with firm practices in place with a nutbag CEO (Mahfuz), and he wastes a fully day of my time brainstorming for what-ifs?  This would be fine, but he was completely intolerant of missed quotas and had a no cell-phone policy during these meetings, which is why 80% of the people were fired or quit every month, plus I had an office I was responsible for.  I was thinking about this right now, as I came across the title “Content Manager” and that was one of the ideas — Content — we were brainstorming for.  As a former Educator, I knew these one-day brainstorming with no follow-up on top of a million other similar activites that Mahfuz oversaw on top of our stressful day jobs was doomed to fail.    I rue the day I ever worked for that whack job, and the next time I think of him will be too soon 🙂

Rant & Bad Memory: Am thinking of the time that nutbag Mahfuz took me out of the field to create a fictious business plan