Those who know me know that I’m a top-performing salesperson. It would make sense to cover all I’ve learned in my 20+ years because the results have proven the expertise. There’s also probably market demand. Many newbies could also use the help. Build my brand via the most straightforward path. I love easy paths and low-hanging fruit. Why make anything more complex than it is? Logically, it makes so much sense to take this course. So why am I at a crossroads about it?
There’s so much great content from salespeople and leaders all over LinkedIn that if I didn’t say a word about sales, you’d still get more than I can provide in a lifetime, from general strategy to specific scripting by following many sales influencers.
Diversity is the missing conversation that worries me most. What I read about diversity provides logical reporting, citing numbers with little or no context on lived experiences. I wonder if people like me are reluctant to speak about what it’s like. In sales, people connect with stories about what others have done and how it worked for them.
These stories seem to be missing. On the rare occasion when people allow themselves to become vulnerable about some of the not-so-pleasant experiences they’ve had, it can come packed with so much emotion that the point can often be missed.
I wonder how many of us stay away from these conversations because we don’t know what it means for our brand. Branding is everything these days, so I hear. We’re the few who made it in. Does speaking up mean we’ll be other’d more? If we share the bad experiences, will it lead to being perceived as a victim rather than the warriors we are? That we have had these experiences and not allow them to deter us from the person we are trying to become?
I’ve spoken with POC and female leaders in the past who admit being the only one can be challenging on many levels. Even if they bring diverse perspectives, they may not have the backing. They worry about how they are perceived, which is probably how they got to be the one at the table in the first place. They also have more to lose by speaking up, even though they have better access to those who can implement changes. I also can’t help but think if someone hasn’t experienced what I’ve experienced, they may want to help but not know how. They have the figures, but do they know what a microaggression looks like?
I also worry about tone-policing my thoughts to make them palatable for consumption, knowing that a few will care, most won’t, and some will oppose it because they benefit from the current infrastructure (even if they deny it). To each their own. Que sera, sera.
I laugh about the irony because many male leaders don’t seem to worry about tone-policing themselves about topics. At least, if I’m to believe their Twitter feeds.
I hope what I share helps more than it hurts because it doesn’t always make people look good. I do my best to make it vague and remove names. The point is not to vilify anyone; instead, to promote understanding. I’ll do it only in service of the lesson. That’s the caveat.
In my next article, I’m going to outline why I didn’t study programming for my degree and what happened when I started down that path. It was my first lesson in allyship, but certainly not my last.