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Today’s show featured an interview with Megan Miller. Megan will be a speaker at the IES Women in Sales Leadership Elevation Conference on October 12. The interview was conducted by Gina Stracuzzi, chairperson for the conference.
Find Megan on LinkedIn.
MEGAN’S ADVICE: “There are four questions that will change the game for you. How am I feeling today and why? What is one act of service that I can do, one small act of kindness? What is one thing I can do today that’ll inch me towards my goals, what I want for my life? What are three things that I’m grateful for?”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Gina Stracuzzi: I always thought I was kind of high energy, but this woman puts me to shame. Megan is a TEDx speaker, a global speaker, an international bestselling author, and founder of Intentional Living Method. She’s the creator and host of Attention to Intention Podcast. Welcome, Megan.
Megan Miller: Good morning, my friend. It’s so funny as you say about being high energy. I feel that there is so much wisdom that comes with aging, and we don’t talk about that enough. When I was young, I was always told that I had too much energy.
Gina Stracuzzi: Me too.
Megan Miller: I felt that it was a bad thing and I tried to hide it. I tried to blend in. I didn’t want to stand out. It was something in my late 30s, I’m about to be 40, where you really step into your power and I’m like, “This is who I am.” Have you felt the same? There’s something freeing about that.
Gina Stracuzzi: There is, although I’m on the downside of that slope now, and it’s like some days I’m going, “I could use a little more energy,” maybe getting a little more caffeine. But no, you’re absolutely right, especially when you’re little. Because when you’re high energy, it’s very hard to sit still. You are always wanting to talk and you’re all over the place, but it is something that people gravitate towards as well. Then you do realize as you get a little bit older how to use it.
The trap that I think sometimes high energy people fall into is exactly what we’re going to be talking about today, and you’re going to be talking a lot about at the conference, is that when you’re a real high energy person, you’re always doing something. You’re always moving. I think high energy people fall into the trap of busyness more than people who take their time and are a little more reserved or thoughtful before they move. I would be interested to hear what you have to say about that, or if you’ve ever thought about it that way, because I think busy people tend to take on more because we have a lot of energy, as we just said, and it’s like, “Sure, I can do that. Yeah, I can do that too. And that, and that, and that, and that.” Then before you know it, you end up like me, just completely fried.
Megan Miller: You took me to church right there, girl. I feel like you see me, because that is so true. Here’s the other thing, and I don’t think we stop and talk about this enough, and all the to-dos, and the pings, and the dings, and the checklists, and the things, is that it can be intoxicating. It can be like a drug, especially when you’re in sales. Gina, 15 years I was in sales, and I love it. The industry is beautiful and there’s something really powerful about closing the deals, getting the accolades, getting the job done, but it can consume you, as it did me. That’s where I think the line is blurred, and there’s nothing wrong with achievement. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to excel and wanting to do the things. But when it consumes all of you and swallows you whole, which it can, and then you have that inner gut whisper that you were meant for more, you know that you’re just existing, you know that this exhaustion has become a status symbol, you start to get resentful. You get there, every little email just sits you right over the edge. Your kid says something and you flip out. Your partner looks at you the wrong way and you snap. You’re in traffic and you flip out. You are in this constant state of-
Gina Stracuzzi: Elevated state.
Megan Miller: Yes, and you don’t know how to get out of it. For me, Gina, I had to have the breakdown on the busiest highway in Philadelphia for me to have the breakdown to have the breakthrough. Talk about the irony in that, my whole life was spent being busy. Being busy so I wouldn’t have to feel or deal with the uncomfortableness. My drug of choice became the achievement. It became my safe harbor. Said I’d be happy when… You have a life like that? Like, “I’ll be happy when I get the promotion, when I close this deal, when I get this in the bank account, when I fit in this size jean,” and it never ends. It never ends. Because it’s you versus you.
It’s at that moment, Gina, as I’m sitting on the highway in Philadelphia, this was seven years ago, I can remember it like it was yesterday, I got the corner office job helping run sales for a billion-dollar hospitality organization, the thing I said would make me happy. Universe, God divine, whatever word you want to use said, “No girl, you’re going down the wrong path.” As I’m sitting in that car sobbing, realizing that I’m popping the Lexapro, I’m binge drinking, I’m in loveless relationship, overspending, feeling just like crap in my body and myself, as I was so busy hustling up this ladder of “success”, the person that I never took time to get to know was me. That’s huge. I don’t think that that is the person that we are ever taught to talk to. It’s the most important relationship. It’s the most important conversation. It feeds into every other thing that you do.
Gina Stracuzzi: Good point. Wow. Strong open.
Megan Miller: As you can tell, my friend, I’m very passionate about this, because I struggled for so long. Gina, you would look on social and I’d be in the company newsletter, closing the deals, getting the awards, the LinkedIn post, “Come see me at booth, da, da, da,” as you’re running around. I thought everyone had it figured out but me, so I struggled in silence. Now I am on a mission to share with beautiful humans like you and Fred, and what you’re doing with this community to say, “You’re not alone and here are some micro steps. Here’s some tools, here’s some things so you can spring from information into action,” because that’s the hardest thing to do. Take action.
Gina Stracuzzi: It is very hard to step outside of the paradigm that you built, because it’s like if I step out and if I just stop, it’s all going to crumble, and then what happens? It’s a real thing. I think it perplexes women more than men. I think it’s just the difference between how they compartmentalize better than we do. I think women just, we take on, and we take on, and we take on, and we see this, we talk about this in the forum a lot. Especially if then you have children as well, or you have aging parents, or whatever the case is, but you’re still trying to be 200% at work, that’s when the crash happens as you say, because it’s not sustainable. Then people walk away from what could be a really great career because they’re just fried and they don’t have anything left. But the hope is with like the workshop you’re going to do at the conference, it’s a start for thinking about like, “How can I avoid that level of burnout?”
Megan Miller: Yes. Here’s what I love so much about what you’re saying, because we are so busy, because we are constantly navigating and juggling through the pings and dings of things, we deal with things on surface level. I did for a very long time. It’s easy to think that it’s the job that has you exhausted. It’s easy to think that it’s the relationship. It’s easy to think that if you pack up and move, if you get the new job, if you do the fast, that you’re going to feel good on the other end of it. Guess what, my friend? You’re bringing you to the next thing. Before you know it, that next job, that next career move, that’s going to burn you out too. That next relationship you’re in, that’s not going to be it. You’re going to fall into these old habits because you’re not dealing with the core denominator, which is you.
I found that when I started, back to your point about when we were talking about the resentment and the busyness, and wanting to take care of everyone, this innate nurturing component that we all have to a certain degree, and you put everyone above yourself. One thing I realized, Gina, let me give this example, because I’m all about the tangible tools. I love me a calendar invite, and matter of fact, I make my husband send them to me. I just made him send me one the other week to go to the bank, and it’s five minutes down the road. Like, “Can you send me a calendar invite?” and he did. I was notorious for putting things in my calendar for me, and Gina, it wasn’t even anything cool, or sexy, or fun. It could be going to the DMV to get my license renewed, or my annual doctor’s appointments.
Guess what would happen? I would cancel it. I would cancel it on me because someone else needed something from me. There was the fire drill at work. There was something with a family member, a colleague needed me, a team member. I had to jump on a call, whatever that was, and it was the first thing that I would cancel, was the thing for me. On the end of that, that is where that resentment begins to build. That’s where that anger, that hostility, where everyone is just pissing you off. The way that you can reframe that, I like to call those the Darth Vader moments, and I’ve had many. Remember when you get an email and then you ping back, your fingers are hitting so hard on the keyboard, and then there’s 45 emails later and the next day you think, “Well, maybe it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
The way that you can combat that, it is very simple. The way that you can combat that is simply by making and keeping one small promise to yourself, and keeping it in your calendar. That can be, let’s just say that you feel like crap in your body because you’re sitting in front of the screen too much. We all do. You wake up, you sit in front of the laptop, the computer, then you go back to your phone, and then maybe you spend a little time in front of the TV to decompress, and you feel like you’re just sitting in front of a screen.
Instead of telling yourself that you’re going to do the hour workout, or you’re going to do the Peloton, or the Barry’s Bootcamp, or the Orangetheory, what you do instead is you spend 15 minutes, you block it in your calendar. If you’re like me, it’s the way I keep my commitments to myself, it’s the way that it’s important to me, and you keep the promise to yourself. When someone tries to put something in your calendar, I understand there’s some things you can’t flex on, but you say, “I’m committed at that time. How about we do 3:30?” You keep the promise to yourself the way you do for everyone else. It’s amazing the narrative that begins to change up here in your mind.
Gina Stracuzzi: It’s interesting. We talked yesterday in the junior forum that we just launched yesterday, and we’re talking about how the brain will seek out evidence to support whatever narrative you’re telling it. What I was talking to, these are younger women, that if you get into these habits of not being assertive, or taking on more than you can handle, it becomes a habit that is incredibly hard to break. Because then your brain is finding ways to say, “No, you can’t stop. This is needed. You must go on.” If you don’t start forming really great habits during your career at an early age, it will catch up with you. I love everything you’re saying. I have to get all these young women to the conference too.
Megan Miller: Yes. It’s so funny that you bring that up. Well, a couple things I want to unpack there. One, you are so spot on, and I didn’t even realize any of this, because I was never taught any of this.
Gina Stracuzzi: No, we’re not, not when we’re young. No.
Megan Miller: You are taught the mechanics of the role and you add your own twist to it, but you are never taught that self-talk, that these habits for you is a form of preparation. I lived my life so committed to walking into these meetings, being locked and loaded with the answers, making sure my content looked on point, making sure the spreadsheet worked. But what I was never taught was to make a moment to address the gremlin that lives in here that is telling me that I’m not enough. Like, who am I to sit in these rooms? You need to make time for that, because that is equally just a form of preparation.
There is science that backs up what you were saying, Gina, about what you look for you find. So, there it’s called the reticular activation system, RAS. You can look it up. I think it’s the most interesting thing. Basically, what it is in the most simplistic of terms is you have a bouncer that lives up here, and you tell that bouncer what to let in in your mind. You ever go shopping for a car and then you see that car everywhere? That’s you telling the bouncer what to let in. The same narrative that you’re feeding yourself, if you think, “Well, who am I to be here? I’m so burned out. I’m over this job. These clients suck,” or whatever stories you’re telling yourself, you will find more narrative to support that.
Versus, and I’m so happy you had this conversation with these young women yesterday. Versus if you take just a few moments to sit in the silence and ask yourself these four questions, which I’m happy to unpack with you, we’ll talk about it more at the conference. It’s amazing how your day will change because you’re telling the bouncer to let different things in.
Gina Stracuzzi: I like the idea of a bouncer.
Megan Miller: It’s the way I understood. When I was first reading, and I’m like, “Man, there’s a lot of science words in here.” I feel like we make things so complicated in the buzz words, that are so hard to navigate. Burnout, self-care, intentionality, work-life balance. Well, what is it? We’re going to talk about that at the conference too, these tangible tools that you can take that work for you. Because faux self-care is prescribed from the outside, real self-care is prescribed from the inside and what feels right for you.
Gina, I would love to share with you, if I can, these four questions that change the game and then how I showed up. These can be done in five minutes, 10 minutes, three minutes. It doesn’t matter the time, it just matters the actions.
Gina Stracuzzi: You’re not giving away your content for the conference, are you?
Megan Miller: No, because we’re unpacking so much more. This is the foundation. We are going all in on this. Guys, you are also going to leave with a roadmap. Gina and I have been very intentional on you physically leaving with a roadmap from our session that you can reference at any point, because that’s huge. That’s huge. These four questions, one, how am I feeling today and why? It sounds simple, but in the busyness of all the things, we never really stop and ask ourselves how we’re feeling.
Gina Stracuzzi: The why seems huge to me too.
Megan Miller: Yes. Here’s the other cool thing that begins to happen. Anyone ever ask you how you are and you go, “I’m fine. It’s fine. I’m all right,” but you never really stop and think about it. When you take a moment and you write it down, how you’re feeling today and why, there’s something very freeing about it on the other end. The language expands and it’s an amazing thing.
The second question is, what is one act of service that I can do, one small act of kindness? It could be something as simple as texting Gina some podcast that I’ve heard. I’m like, “I think this would really resonate with you. Listen to this.” Or, “Hey, Fred, I was just thinking of you this morning.” Or, “Fred, I really loved that LinkedIn post that you did.” That’s it, less than a minute, it’s a game changer. Sometimes for me, it’s leaving a love note for my partner by the coffee machine just saying, “I love you. Have a great day.” It’s amazing the energy that it gives you, and your relationships. 95% of the time when I send someone a message like that, I get a text back, or an email, or a call back that says, “You have no idea how bad I needed to hear that.” We’re all struggling to our own degrees. Everyone has a story.
It also helps you find your purpose. I was listening to something the other day that said, “We’re so hungry for purpose. We search for it. We think it’s something you can get out of Amazon, but purpose finds you.” The way that it finds you is when you do these small little acts of service, and you give yourself a time to feel a connection to something higher than yourself. That’s so true. The first question, how am I feeling today and why? Second question, what is one act of service I can do?
The third question is, what is one thing I can do today that’ll inch me towards my goals, what I want for my life? Let’s just say you always wanted to write the book. You keep saying you should. Let’s just say you want to move your body. Let’s just say you want to pause the spending. Let’s say that you want to feel a spiritual connection, but you don’t know where to start. It’s making a commitment that today, for the 10 minutes, I’m going to go for the walk outside, I’m going to move my body. I am going to Google how to start the book. I’m going to reach out to the woman that has the career that I admire and say, “Hey, can I meet you for a virtual coffee? I just want to hear about your story.” It is taking the time to pop in the earbuds and listen to the podcast that your friend sent, that you’re like, “God, I really want to listen to that.” Or listening to the spiritual thing that you’re curious about. It’s making the commitment and keeping it to yourself. One thing that you’re curious about, the thing that you say you always want to do, but you never make the time for.
Then the final thing is, what are three things that I’m grateful for? Three things. We hear it all the time, but isn’t it the simplest things that we know we should do, but we don’t do. We discredit them. When you start your day like this, or when you fit this in in a moment that feels right for you, whether that’s dropping the kids off for school right before you get into the laptop. I don’t care if it’s at the Wawa or the Starbucks, just making a moment to write it down or put it in your phone in a way that feels right to you. The way you show up in your life begins to change. I read this the other day, and it’s so true. You don’t experience life. You experience the life you focus on.
Gina Stracuzzi: That goes to what we were just saying. The brain will see whatever you tell it to, that includes your life too. That is deep, and it’s only 9:30. My goodness.
Megan Miller: My friend, I am going to follow up with you at the end of today, Fred, you heard it now, everyone, you hear it now, hold me accountable. I’m going to follow up with you and I’m going to say, “Hey, how did you feel at the end of your day after having this conversation? Did you feel a little bit more energized? Did you feel that what you were looking for changed?” Because I’m telling you, seven years ago, as I was sitting on that highway in Philadelphia, feeling just so distraught, feeling burnt out, not knowing who I was, I never thought that I would be here sharing these words that I needed for so long and didn’t know and was never taught. It all began with these tools that I’m sharing with you.
Gina Stracuzzi: Really, honestly, I’m super excited to give you this opportunity at the conference to share all this with the people that will be attending. It’s going to be a full-on workshop folks. Not a real short breakout session. Tell us about your history in sales that got you to that freeway in Philadelphia.
Megan Miller: It’s so funny, back to the energy point. I always skated through high school, skated through college. I was always more of the social person, let me get to know you, versus the school work. I never thought that sales would be something I got into when I did. I’ll never forget, I was at the dentist. I just graduated college. You know these life moments and these conversations that you have that are so powerful. I’ll never forget, Gina, as the dentist is in my mouth cleaning my teeth, and I’m barely able to make out these words. She’s talking to me about what I want to do and what I want to be. She said to me, “I really think you should think about hospitality sales. My daughter does it. She loves it.” At that time, we had the dial-up internet with Monster. AOL dial-up, I went to monster.com, just to look for a job, and I got this interview and I just fell in love with the industry. I fell in love with the connection piece of it. I fell in love with the relationships. I fell in love with just getting to know people. I realized I was damn good at it.
Then I got caught in the trap that we all do at a certain point, where circumstance takes the wheel of your life and you sit in the passenger seat, and I became addicted to this, “I’ll be happy when…” I was getting promotion after promotion, after promotion, after promotion, telling myself that the corner office job running sales for this billion-dollar hospitality organization would make me happy. Then I got the job, and then that’s where the breakdown started. I really had to unpack what success looked like for me and what I wanted, who I wanted to be. It’s interesting that we share these words, but I don’t think you ever pause to think how you’re showing up. My whole life I had heard about people pleasing chameleon mode, but I never really knew what that was. After I had that breakdown on 76, and after I started to really unpack how I was showing up, I realized, “Oh my God, I have all those things.” I was so entrenched in it, I didn’t even see it. I was so focused on getting you to like me that I had no opinion. You like Mexican food? So did I. You want to watch football on Sunday? So did I. It consumed me, this knee jerk reaction to getting you to like me, and I lost myself in all of it.
Gina Stracuzzi: I’m envisioning myself walking down the main drag in Downtown London and crying, just crying, walking, just so overwhelmed with my life at the time. People just looking at me and I’m like, “I don’t even care. Going to get on this bus and go to my apartment.”
Megan Miller: What did you do, Gina? What did you do? When you reflect back on that, because I felt that, like the world is just swallowing you whole and you’re losing yourself in all of it. How did you start to break out of that? Do you remember what you did?
Gina Stracuzzi: I moved to LA and the sunshine changed. It helped. I actually loved London, but there was just too much going on. But for me, a change of scenery has always helped, but that’s not always possible. I appreciate that. I was young and I didn’t have a house or a family or anything at the time, so it made it easier. But I think it actually gets a little bit harder as you get older, because you don’t have that freedom to just change everything, which has always been my forte. It’s like, “All right, let’s just scratch it all and start over again.” Like we talked about, when you’re big energy, so it’s like, “Okay, let’s annihilate everything and just start over.” Well, that is not exactly a tenable format as you age, because then you have a family, and a house, and all these things.
But the point we started on with this conversation before we started recording, that just a change of scenery, even if you set your office up in another part of the house, it helps. But this conversation is almost taking us full circle in my mind, because one of the reasons that we picked the topic we did for this conference, what is won and lost in the hybrid world is, I think, and this again, I think holds more true for women, that if you are working in the house all day long, and if you do have kids, especially if you do have kids. But maybe you have pets, or maybe you have to go take care of your parents afterwards, or whatever the case is, there’s no place to go that is different. I think that has me worried for women long-term.
I grew up where my mom was home all the time and funny enough, she went on maternity leave from her job and then came back 21 years later to the same company. They were kidding her that’s the longest maternity leave in history. But I’m worried that women are going backwards in that they’re not going to have an identity outside of the house. Even though, yes, they’re working, but there’s no place to see yourself in a different light. Most of us have a limited space where you can go, especially if you have a husband who’s also working from home. You’ve got two offices set up in the house, plus whatever else you need. There’s not a lot of room to move around in terms of getting a different point of view.
Megan Miller: Gina, this conversation is taking me right back. I was just talking to one of my best friends, here’s to women’s friendships, man. It is a therapy, it’s a gift. She was saying to me everything you’re saying, Gina, everything you’re saying, “I’m working from home, then the kids come home from school. I have no break. Then I go right into mom mode, and I can’t breathe. I have no space.” I said to her, the best form of therapy that I have found has been in my car. I heard Sara Blakely talk about that she would drive aimlessly in her car. No music on, just her thoughts, and it became a therapy. I thought, “Well, if it worked for Sara Blakely,” if you don’t know who she is, the founder of Spanx. Created this billion-dollar empire out of $5,000, failed the LSATs twice, selling fax machines. I thought to myself, “Well, it worked for her, it would work for me,” and I’ve tried it. I’ll tell you anytime that I am feeling like that, that I’m feeling pent up, that I am feeling like I’m being swallowed whole, I take the 15 minutes and I get in that car, and you don’t even need a destination to go. It changes the scenery. You feel a connection to yourself. You cop in that car, my friend, and you just drive around. It is some of the best therapy and some of the best conversations I’ve had with myself, have been in that car.
Gina Stracuzzi: Well, sadly, we are out of time. If you want to hear more of this stimulating conversation, you will just have to come to the conference. We love to leave our listeners with one final thought from our guests, something that they can do today. The four steps that you mentioned are a great place to start, I would think. Do you have one last thing you’d like to add to that?
Megan Miller: I would say this, please, my friends, if you get up and you crack open an eyelid, and you go right to that phone, and you start scrolling the emails, you start checking the social feed, did you know if you do that for three minutes, you have a 70% higher chance of having a bad day? That’s all it takes. I ask you to please put that phone in the bathroom, put it wherever you can so it’s away from your nightstand table. Instead of going right to the phone in the morning, if you can ask yourself those four questions, or even if you can just get up and just go to the coffee, take a moment, take a breath, just get out of the habit of getting up and going right to that phone, it is so powerful, and to do it in a way that feels right to you. Hey, even a minute’s a win. But that is a game changer. It’s a game changer.
Gina Stracuzzi: Well, Megan, you and I can talk forever. We’ll just have to finish this next time. Everyone, thank you for joining us, and please come to the conference. It’s going to be killer. Megan, thank you so much for your time.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo