My intent was to blog about my experiences over the past decade in tech; however as I began to write all I could think about was the incredible start to this year. Two separate incredible events have inspired me around a single ‘aha’ conclusion about what really matters to me at a personal level.
First, my company, Information Builders, just came off of an incredible Sales Kickoff. We deliver software solutions for data management, business intelligence (BI), and analytics. Our new CEO Frank Vella, who comes to us from the SaaS world, is accelerating our position in the market. I’m also coming off a year of leading and reinvigorating an incredible sales team that is making an impact and creating life-long customers.
Next, in late January my co-founders and I hosted the second Annual Women in Cloud Summit in Seattle. Our goal was to empower women in tech and female entrepreneurs, by giving women access to data- and cloud-related skills development, and the ability to accelerate ideas, access resources including strategic partnerships, and identify new ways to acquire customers and drive customer success.
The three themes of the Women in Cloud Summit are very similar to the conversations we had at our Sales Kickoff. And these are core to how I live each day:
1. Customer Success Is an Operating Philosophy – It starts with nurturing customers, building community, and making sure they are successful with their clients. The old selling style, where reps are making hundreds of calls, asking for an order for the quarter’s end, and leaving the customer to fend for themselves, is over. It’s the long-term strategic relationships that will win now and are core to success. We forge lifelong relationships with our customers and that is foundational to why organizations deploy our solutions. But this concept is also why more than 1,300 people attended the Women in Cloud summit last week. Engaging in this way is natural and it’s impactful.
2. Accelerate – There are many ways and philosophies around accelerating. You can use technology to improve and ensure accuracy, create policy, leverage programs, or network. As our CEO says, you need to “own it, empower yourself, and own the outcomes” that you create – both good and bad –and learn from all experiences. My favorite, and what comes naturally, is building strong allies who you help and reciprocate. I’ve done this with the Women in Cloud founders and it is liberating.
3. Create Access, Build Your Tribe – I have known many female executives to, at some point in their careers, get caught in trap of thinking, believing, or acting like they need to be part of the boys’ club. STOP. If you want to be mentally and physically healthy, you must be your authentic self. Know what you bring to the table, know your strength, and qualities. Don’t be afraid to take risk. Many years ago I went into a high-stakes meeting with my then CEO and she noticed I was nervous. She said, “Own this meeting. You have as much right to be around the table as anyone else in there, and don’t kid yourself – they all make mistakes and are human.”
I take her advice with me into all situations. Yes, at times I have lost my way, but my advice to everyone is don’t be afraid to take risks, trust your gut, and extend beyond your comfort zone – you’ll be surprised at the positive results you can achieve. Secondly, I have learned over the years that when you create access supporting people and sharing your network, your knowledge, and your passion, it will come back to you in spades. This happened to me when I was offered an advisory board role with Corent Technologies. They understood my value. You have unique skills that organizations need. Understand where your value and culture aligns, and engage with these companies. Try it.