EPISODE 376: Emerging Women in Sales Leaders from Juniper Networks and Cisco Give Insights on Driving Corporate Impact

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Women in Sales Fresh Voice Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales and hosted by the IES Women in Sales Leadership Forum Program Director Gina Stracuzzi on June 2, 2021. It featured Riley Stevens (Cisco) and Nicole Cordova (Juniper Networks)]

Register for the IES Women in Sales Leadership Forum here.

Find Nicole on LinkedIn here. Find Riley on LinkedIn here.

NICOLE’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “The most impactful thing that any of us can do is really understand ourselves, and be able to articulate that really clearly to others. Spend some time getting really deep around what it is that both you’re really good at, and energizes you. I would highly recommend looking into Marcus Buckingham’s Strengths-based Leadership. He has a lot of guidance around how to do that analysis. Think about your best day at work. What were you doing on that day? Were you talking to large groups of people? Were you working quietly? Were you doing deep analysis? Was it public speaking? Get really, really clear about what it is that you enjoy doing what you want to do, and use that as a guideline.It’s often more important what we don’t do with our time, because that’s what dictates how much time we have to do the things that we want to do. 

RILEY’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Don’t be afraid to tell people what you want and put it out there. It sounds a little a little silly like put it out in the universe and then it’ll come, but there is truth in it. If you want to go into leadership, start telling people that that’s a goal for you. Ask for mentors to help you in that direction. Be clear about your expectations. Women are special in this industry, and we are an asset to our employers and so we’re allowed to have that moment.”


Gina Stracuzzi: I would like to introduce my two guests. Nicole Cordova, she’s the Senior Director of the Americas Virtual Sales at Juniper Networks. And Riley Stevens, she’s Public Sector Account Manager at Cisco.

We were chatting a little bit before we came on camera that most of my guests are in the federal space, so this is a nice change of topic a little bit because they’re going to be bringing more public sector, commercial sector experience and stories to the webcast. It’ll be fun.

Welcome, everyone. Ladies, Nicole, Riley, thank you so much for being my guests. I really appreciate you coming on. While we get started, why don’t you each tell us just a little bit about who you are and your position? Then we’re going to talk about how you got there. Nicole, do you want to start?

Nicole Cordova: Sure, that’d be great. Thank you so much for having us, Gina. My name is Nicole Cordova, and I lead the Americas virtual sales organization and commercial segment at Juniper Networks. I have been in tech sales for going on 12 years now. I have had some pretty rapid career progression.

I started from operations, I progressed through carrying a bag, feet on the street as an account manager. Then moved into sales leadership. Definitely passionate about Women in Sales so very, very excited to be here today and excited to have one of my favorite Women in Sales joining us, Riley Stevens. I’ll hand it over to Riley for her introduction.

Riley Stevens: Thanks, Nicole and Gina again, for having us today. I’m Riley Stevens. I’m a Public Sector Account Manager at Cisco, which means I work with our local government and our school districts in the Seattle Washington area. I’ve been in sales for two years, so catching up to Nicole. Prior to that, I worked as a chemical engineer in petrochemicals, so a little bit different of a background. I did that for about five years before coming to sales.

Gina Stracuzzi: Wonderful. One of the questions I always like to ask the women on the Fresh Voices segment is what did you study in school? Did you ever think you were going to end up in sales? Riley, why don’t we stick with you since you’ve just got done speaking and you can tell us? I have a little bit of pre knowledge there now that we’ve talked a bit, but go ahead and tell us how you got into sales.

Riley Stevens: I studied chemical engineering in school, I minored in biology. A little different, definitely did not see myself going into sales. Thought I was always going to stay in the engineering field. When I got out into working, I worked as a technical sales engineer. I supported our accounts that did plastics food packaging.

I redesigned Starbucks’ coffee lid was one of the projects I worked on. Chobani Yoghurt containers, some familiar names you guys have probably seen. Through all that, I found the account manager had a lot of power in the decision-making process. They got to set the price of our products, they got to handle the negotiations.

No matter how good I made my product as an engineer, I was more in the passenger seat, and I wanted that next level of responsibility. I made the transition into sales to be able to drive the car, and take that ownership. Then came over to Cisco to be part of a company that was just rapidly innovating. Technology will always have a future for our companies and our businesses. It’s so key to growth. I made the jump to tech sales after doing commodity plastics for five years.

Gina Stracuzzi: Wonderful. Nicole, why don’t you tell us about your studies and background?

Nicole Cordova: I went into school and originally majored in apparel design. I was an apparel design major for two years. I was taking drafting and sewing and textiles classes. Then I woke up one day and realized, why am I paying this exorbitant amount of money to this university for apparel design? I changed my major to retail merchandising to have more of a business focus.

I spent a few years in the textiles industry and home goods. I was working for a wholesale interior design company. It was a mix of inside sales, customer service, textiles. I was using my degree, and it was in that timeframe, I was in Austin, Texas at the time and I had friends who were in the Austin software startup scene.

The money they were making was outrageous. The career progression they were seeing was outrageous. I was like, “I think I might need a career change.” I went to the library. I hate to say this, it was a little bit pre internet days. This was early, early, when Google was just starting to be a thing. I hate dating myself that way.

I went to the library, I got 12 or so books on resumes. I stretched everything I had ever done in textiles, and inside sales and customer service to try to get a job in tech. I went on probably 15 interviews, I reached out to everybody in my network. Finally, I found a role through a friend of a friend who was a recruiter as a contractor in operations at Cisco.

That was the start of my career in tech. I started from an operations standpoint. I really didn’t know I wanted to be in sales until probably the moment that I was ending up in sales. It was a very natural and organic progression for me.

Gina Stracuzzi: Well, sometimes those are the best ways to do it. Let’s talk about your first opportunity in leadership. Sometimes those are not very glamorous. I hear from a lot of people that it’s so much paperwork, and it doesn’t feel like it’s going to lead to much. Let’s talk about what your first leadership opportunity was, and what you got out of that. Nicole, we can stick with you and then we’ll move over to Riley.

Nicole Cordova: Sure. After operations, in my roles in operations I worked with a number of sellers in the Cisco field sales organization. Similar to the moment I had where I woke up when I was in textiles and was like, “Wait, everybody else is making a ton of money, and they have these really exciting dynamic careers.” I had that same moment in operations.

I spent two or three years in operations at Cisco. Then I woke up and said, “Wait a second. I can do what all these salespeople that I work with are doing. I should go over there.” The sales team took a chance on me, I was an account manager for public sector in South Florida. I did that for a few years, and in that role I worked with an inside sales account manager that was based out of Raleigh.

I was in Florida at the time, my inside rep was in Raleigh. Through having an inside rep that was aligned to my business, I got to know the whole inside sales structure and the leadership team. They again, just had a very dynamic culture. They had, it seemed like a really high growth exciting place to be. When you’re a field seller, you’re a little bit out on an island.

I was in South Florida by myself, and career progression is really limited to how good your virtual networking skills are. I decided I want to move into leadership next. I started networking with all of the inside leadership at Cisco that was based in Raleigh and just said, “Hey, I think this is where I want to come on my next move out of field sales.”

They, at the time were looking for field sales knowledge and skills to really bring that business acumen to the inside team. It was just a really great match. I was moved into that role, relocated my family from Florida to Raleigh. That was probably some of the most fun that I have had in my entire career. You’re absolutely right, Gina. Yes, it was definitely not a glamorous job.

That is where you’re really learning the fundamentals of management around if people don’t come in on time, what do you do about that? What does that conversation look like? If you have interpersonal dynamics on the floor that aren’t working out, what’s that? How do you help people understand how to work through those conflicts?

I learned a lot of that just really, really standard fundamentals of leadership. But just a very, very fun time. I had a team of 18 up to 21 at one time. A huge team, we were all there on the sales floor together. Just a great opportunity to build culture, and have that fun sales environment.

Gina Stracuzzi: That’s awesome. It’s nice that you got an opportunity to go to another area, and try that out. Just have everything be new and an adventure and challenging, because that’s what really makes you stretch. Sometimes if you’re in the same exact environment, but your role changes, it can be a little hard to get the support you need and just feel like you’re the leader all of a sudden when you were just in that chair.

Nicole Cordova: Absolutely. It was because I had the expertise from being in public sector. I had some consistency in my own skill set that I could fall back on while learning this whole new leadership element. It’s good to have that expertise in an area while you’re making maybe a role or duties or a skillset shift.

Gina Stracuzzi: Absolutely. Riley, is this where you met Nicole? When she came to Cisco?

Riley Stevens: I met Nicole at Cisco. I met her, she had become a field manager at that point. She spent time in Raleigh managing our inside sales team, and then took over our Northwest public sector team. I was in Raleigh in inside sales, but did not overlap with Nicole there. But decided that I wanted to get back home to Seattle, Washington.

I had started talking with my network about who knew the managers out there. It’s very far from Raleigh, obviously. The three-hour time difference, so it wasn’t in my immediate network. Then had a friend that worked for Nicole and connected us, and she just so happened to post an opening that week I think. A candidate had fallen through to my good luck, so I was able to interview for her team.

I think to your point on leadership, I’m still an individual contributor. I work as an AM, I have an inside sales rep. Sometimes that aligns to me, depending on how our patches work out so I have that experience like Nicole. For women looking to get into leadership, my advice there is look for the informal ways that you can get into leadership as well so that when you’re ready to jump into management, you have that exposure.

That’s something Nicole helped me out with while she was also my manager, as I had expressed interest in looking at it. We decided that there was a gap at Cisco for field sales and early career networks. Cisco is a really large company, there’s 70,000 employees. It can be a little daunting when you join. I tell a story that I didn’t know first time I traveled if I could expense my check luggage.

I was in panic at the airport whether to use my corporate card for the $25 bag fee, or to just take the hit and pay for it on my own. For anyone looking to join Cisco, we do pay for baggage. Something to look out for. We have now founded an early career network that’s sponsored by our executive leadership team that I lead, along with two other actually females which is really exciting.

We tend to have made a girl squad there, but we help with aiding new employees across our SLED organization. Just give them the resources they need, a safe space to ask those questions that might feel silly to your direct manager or peers. It’s my own way of getting exposed to leadership to validate if it’s something that I want to go into, and have that experience to be able to talk about when I’m ready to interview.

Gina Stracuzzi: That is awesome advice, Riley. Good for you that you’re taking those opportunities. That’s one of the piece of advice that some of the facilitators for the Women in Sales leadership forum, they will give other women. Don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you. Volunteer for something, and make sure it’s a leadership role inside your organization and outside professional organization.

They’re always looking for people, so that’s really good advice. Let’s move the conversation to lessons learned along the way and some of the biggest challenges that you’ve faced. Maybe those two are the same things, or maybe they’re not. Riley, why don’t we continue with you? Then we’ll go over to you, Nicole.

Riley Stevens: It’s funny, Nicole and I have been having some conversations about this as I think many people in the world have with the pandemic, but facing burnout and trying to draw up our work/life boundaries. It’s really challenging when you’re a young female in sales. I think we feel the need to work harder than some of our counterparts to prove ourselves.

We sometimes put those own hurdles and pressures on ourselves. In a sales job where you’re goaled on a number, you’re driven to a number and figuring out how to uncouple that to your personal life. That your value is not just this number, your value comes from other things outside of work.

Silly advice, it might seem on a professional podcast, but I think we as women need to find ways that we can motivate ourselves outside of a number. Whether that’s through the team that we work with having our back on different deals, or in our personal lives having hobbies. I joke with Nicole that’s something I’m trying to figure out right now in COVID, I tried bread making, it wasn’t for me. I tried embroidery, also wasn’t for me.

I’m working on painting right now, so everybody will be getting portraits for Christmas this year I think. Just having things outside of work, so that your professional life brings value to you, but that you have other things for when the days are hard that you can fall back on. That’s been a challenge for me this past year. To figure that out, come to terms with it and then start to work towards finding that.

Gina Stracuzzi: Well, you’re quite brilliant, Riley. All the things you’ve been saying are really wise advice to take in your career and in your personal. If work/life balance was fiction before, it’s just nonsense now in so many ways because there is no delineation. Now that’s about to change, hopefully but you’re absolutely right.

I hope that everybody, not just women, but men also continue to make that time for things that interest them, because it makes you a better employee at the end of the day anyway. You’re more riled up and you feel more fulfilled, and that you’re not just a number. That is really great advice. All right, Nicole, what have you got to add to this conversation?

Nicole Cordova: I would say you’re spot on Riley. It’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about in my own workforce that includes a large contingency of young women and that I’ve experienced in my own career, is we spent so much time I think as women thinking about how

do we break the glass ceiling, and how much of a grind does it take to get past those initial barriers?

With Sheryl Sandberg’s transformational knowledge around Lean In. I think that we all maybe over rotated a little bit on lean into everything all the time, always and everywhere at once, which is really an exhausting proposition. I think women with all the other things that we’re having to balance, it’s something you have to be very conscious about.

I like to think of it as not leaning into everything always, but really getting tied about what your strengths are, and leaning into those things that energize you. That fill you up instead of drain you relentlessly. I think one of the things that I’ve had to draw boundaries around in my career is I’m an ENTJ.

I want to do everything, and I want to do it 10 minutes ago. I have a tendency to take those things in hand, and go try to just run through a wall through brute force. I’ve had to really step back and realize what are the things that are aligned with my strengths? I’m really great at facilitating. I’m really great at leading small group discussions. I’m really great at executive messaging, and taking complexity and sorting out what’s important through that.

I’m not as great at managing spreadsheets and project management. I’m not as great at managing the individual little tasks associated with getting a project done. Understanding your own strengths and really, really getting deep and detailed on what exactly that is at a very granular level I think allows you to draw those boundaries, and more closely align your efforts and your energy with those things that are going to matter. Instead of just trying to do everything for everybody all the time to really lean in.

I think the other big lesson learned that was a lightbulb moment for me especially in leadership, was getting in touch with my own authenticity and who I am as a leader. That who I am as a leader is very different from all of the largely older white male population that I learned from. They were my mentors that were my leaders.

I think for a few years and when I first moved into leadership, I was really trying to emulate their style. I was trying to emulate their personality. I didn’t realize that I needed to just be myself. Bring my own sense of humor to my meetings, bring my own approach and personality to my work.

It took an executive coach having a very straightforward moment with me where she told me I had RBF, and I took myself too seriously. For me to really step back and say, “Oh, gosh, I am trying to be what I think a sales leader looks like, versus just being myself as a sales leader with the skills and inherent capabilities that I have.” That was a huge lightbulb moment for me.

Gina Stracuzzi: Both of what you’ve shared with us are such critical pieces of really having successful roles and leadership, because you really do have to be yourself. One of the mistakes that women made early on is we tried to be one of the guys in the way we approached everything that we did, and it is not true to our nature. We have to disavow everything that’s really our strength in order to pretend to be like a guy.

You’ve learned great lessons, both of you very early on. Kudos to you. I wish I had that knowledge when I was your age, but we won’t go there [laughs]. We’re going to turn the tables a little bit. What advice do you have for companies that are looking to recruit more women in sales? How do they make sure they get into leadership? Riley, let’s go with you.

Riley Stevens: One piece of advice, and it goes off what Nicole just said about being your authentic self and seeing yourself in mentors. I think as companies can build up their women that they currently have into leadership roles that starts to set a catalyst, and a trickle-down effect for women. I didn’t think I wanted to go into management. I’m really quirky, I have a weird sense of humor.

I like to joke I’m the captain of the pontoon boat. That doesn’t always go over with everyone. Then I joined this team and moved across the country, and I worked for Nicole. I see so much of myself in Nicole as a young leader, and her using her humor. She’s so well respected across our company to this day. That empowered me so much, more than I can really say and put into words.

I know I’ve talk to Nicole about this before actually when she left, and we had a really nice ugly cry moment over it. Being able to see yourself in leadership gives you so much confidence. As companies can empower women to visualize themselves there, it enables them to reach up and take that next step and reach out for it.

I think while it’s great to recruit young women into different sales roles from the gate, we need to work continuously on promoting those women into leadership roles so that they set the example for the next generation. I joke all the time with my nieces and nephews on just that they’re going to be president, because I want them to feel empowered.

Maybe they only become a senator, but they still made it. It’s like the shoot for the moon and you’ll hit the stars. They need to feel that they have the ability to make it all the way there if they want to.

Gina Stracuzzi: Absolutely. It’s good advice. Nicole?

Nicole Cordova: There are probably a couple of different angles of advice I would give. I would definitely echo Riley’s from the top-down approach. At a certain point, you have to draw a line in the sand and say I will not settle for less than bringing a woman into senior sales leadership. Because if you don’t have any, it’s really hard to convince anybody that you’re trying to recruit that this is going to be a really fruitful productive place for them to grow.

At a certain point, companies just need to look inward and say, “Why haven’t we hired any women yet? Are we not interviewing them? Are they not making it through the interview process? Are we not controlling for the unconscious bias that might be influencing some of those decisions away from those candidates?”

You have to have a real stark moment of self-reflection for companies that are having a hard time, and you got to start from the top. Then I think from the other angle, it’s about both supporting the younger talent and helping them to clarify their own vision that they want to be in leadership. Because a lot of times it’s very self-selecting, self-limiting beliefs that are keeping women from saying, I want to be leaders.

Part of that, probably because they don’t see themselves in the leadership ranks, but probably also because they think, “I’m not the personality that my leadership team looks like. I’m not that type A. I’m not that aggressive.” That’s a different type of leadership. It’s probably oftentimes quieter, it’s oftentimes more supportive.

Not to completely generalize all women, that’s not always the case, but that’s what I’ve seen in a lot of young women that I work with. I actually had a very interesting conversation that directly relates to just this issue the other day. One of my younger women inside sellers, super, super talented. She has been our top seller two or three quarters in a row. She is crushing her number.

We were talking about what her career desires were, and she said, “I just don’t think that I want to go into field sales. I can’t see myself being in that world. I just am not like that.” I said, “Well talk to me about that. What are you not like?” She was like, “I’m just not the one who wants to stand up there and talk all the time and be the expert about everything.”

I was like, “Do you think that’s what account management is, is just talking all the time? Being the expert and everything?” She was like, “Yeah, that’s everything I’ve seen.” I said, “Okay, you’re seeing one flavor of account management. There are so many different ways that your strengths and what you do hear convey to that role. Don’t tell yourself no.”

I think there’s this whole conversation and proximity initiative that has to happen between both women and men in leadership, and the women earlier in the talent pipeline to help them get past their own behaviors and societal constructs that have led them to this belief that they’re not right for sales and field sales, or they’re not right for sales leadership.

I think a lot of that too, is getting very clear on what are the fundamental expectations when you remove all of the personality and this type A model that we all have in our heads of what a sales leader looks like. Because it’s going to be different for every individual, but definitely for women than it is for the largely male sales leadership cohort that’s there today.

Gina Stracuzzi: Right. It’s good that you pointed out to her that leadership does come in a lot of flavors. If everyone was a Type A driven, no one would want to work because it’d be just too much of everybody demanding everything get done yesterday. It’s good thing to point out to her or him. Let’s take a few minutes to talk about where you see yourselves in five years and what you’d like to see happen. Riley, do you want to go first this time?

Riley Stevens: Sure. It’s a great question. I think the engineer in me wants to plan out everything. I have quickly learned in my adult life that unfortunately, it’s life and you can’t plan it. You can’t account for global pandemics, for family member dynamics changing, wanting to be near different members of the family, different times for health concerns.

I think in five years to answer your question with a long-winded start, I’d love to see myself entering in leadership and trying that out for me in a formal setting. Figuring out what energizes me and chasing that, and whatever I do in leadership. Whether it’s getting back to my engineering roots, or going into a product specialty. I miss getting to be the nerd in the room.

Just really figuring out who I am, and why I wake up and want to work my why. If anyone has read Start With Why, I’m a big believer in that methodology. That we have to come to work for more than just the paycheck, so hopefully having some clarity in that when I grow up in five years.

Gina Stracuzzi: Perfect. Nicole?

Nicole Cordova: That is a tough question. I’m going to be completely transparent and honest and say I think this is the first time in my whole career that I don’t know what is exactly next for me, as far as direct career progression. I know what I’m passionate about. To Riley’s point, I feel like I have reached a real moment of clarity in my life as a professional.

That I know that I care about people development. I care about transformational change. I care about creating cultures that allow people to bring their best and their authentic selves, and their strengths to work every day. That that requires an evolution of the traditional work models that we have today.

I think what role I’m in, in five years is less important to me than the fact that I’m still using and following and promoting those outcomes that I care so deeply about. This is really the first time that if you’d asked me that anytime over the past 12 years, I’d say well, I know exactly where I’ll be. I’ll be right here, and this is what I’ll be doing and this is how I feel about it.

I think I’m relaxing a little bit and getting comfortable in not knowing exactly what comes next, but knowing that I’ll make that right decision whenever those decisions presents themselves.

Gina Stracuzzi: We have a question. Danielle wants to know what advice you have if you want to switch directions within a sales organization, and move to a different role completely.

Nicole Cordova: This is one where I think that a lot of those self-limiting beliefs come into play. There’s nothing like the personal connections. I think a lot of times we hold ourselves back from reaching out to more senior executives in the company or people in different business units, because we feel like, I might not have a really great reason, or I might not be able to deliver value to them.

Just as I was looking for Riley without Riley knowing I was looking for Riley. It just happened to be a mutual contact that put us in touch. I did not care that she didn’t have field experience. I was looking for a very specific personality, very specific level of potential. As you can see Gina, Riley has it in spades.

If Riley had not shared with her network where she wanted to go or what she was looking for, they wouldn’t have known to connect her. My advice would be to get really clear about what that move is that you want to make, and reach out to people in that organization.

Reach out to your leadership chain, and communicate that. Then relentlessly pursue it. Don’t take no for an answer. Make somebody tell you no. Then when somebody tells you no, go find somebody else who will tell you yes. Don’t tell yourself, I can’t do it or it’s not going to work.

It sounds like Danielle is already putting her plan together for how she wants to make that transition. I would say just put it on paper, communicate it and relentlessly pursue it.

Gina Stracuzzi: Riley, do you have anything you’d like to add?

Riley Stevens: I think Nicole really summed it up. The one last piece I’ll add is find as much about the role as you can. Whether it’s shadowing somebody in the current role, as Nicole talks about increasing your network up. Spend some time on the linear network to really understand the role.

I’m looking at different roles in Cisco for where I’d want to be in five years, and it’s really helped to provide me clarity to watch the people in action for a day. Figure out what a day in the life of that leadership looks like. What is the real skill set that they have that I might have a gap in that I can work towards? What do they really do, as I look back into going potentially into an engineering or a specialist role?

I was just telling Nicole this, there was one role I was surprised I thought I was so much farther behind technically. It turns out, I had a little bit more knowledge than I thought, and a little bit more capability. I actually needed to work on relating the technical problem back to a C level business conversation on their priorities.

Identify the gaps by working with the people in the roles, and so that when you’re talking with those leaderships you know what like the “we really want Riley, but” might be. Figure out what the potential no might be, and then have a reason on how you’re working to solve it.

Nicole Cordova: One last thing to add there, Gina, there’s something I just thought about that I think is really important too. Is when you have a little seed of want or what you want to do next, I think you also have to be very, very protective of that need or that want. If you want to move into a different part of the business, you will run into probably more people that will tell you all the reasons why this might be hard to do, or why you couldn’t do it.

You have to be very selective about what of that advice, friendly supportive advice, people who want to help but who might not realize it’s not constructive. You have to be careful about what you let in, so just be protective as well about the type of criticism that you allow to penetrate that you take with you. Take it, hear it. Take what you can from it. If it doesn’t serve you and what you want to do next, put it aside and keep marching towards your goal.

Gina Stracuzzi: That’s great advice. We are almost out of time, so I would like you to dig down one more time and leave the listeners with one piece of actionable advice that they can put to work for themselves in their careers today, tomorrow, this week sometime. What should they be doing to make sure that they’re on the right track? Nicole, why don’t we continue with you? Then Riley, we’ll jump over to you.

Nicole Cordova: Sure. I would say the most impactful thing that any of us can do is really understand ourselves, and be able to articulate that really clearly to others. Spend some time getting really deep around what it is that both you’re really good at, and energizes you. I would highly recommend looking into Marcus Buckingham’s Strengths-based Leadership.

He has a lot of guidance around how to do that analysis. Think about your best day at work. What were you doing on that day? Were you talking to large groups of people? Were you working quietly? Were you doing deep analysis? Was it public speaking? Get really, really clear about what it is that you enjoy doing what you want to do, and use that as a guideline.

It’s often more important what we don’t do with our time, because that’s what dictates how much time we have to do the things that we want to do. I would say think about those areas. We talked about boundaries earlier, where you can set boundaries. Maybe practice in the next week, set a boundary somewhere. Think about something that’s draining you.

Think about that meeting on your calendar that just you dread every single week. Do you really need to be there? How can you get that same outcome, and have the needs of the business met that brought you there in the first place that doesn’t involve you being miserable? Think about protecting your energy, defining your strengths, and maybe practice setting a boundary in the next week or two.

Gina Stracuzzi: That’s awesome advice and really fundamental to people’s mental health, as well. Riley, why don’t you close us all here?

Riley Stevens: I’ll work off of Nicole on once you’ve found that, don’t be afraid to tell people that that is what you want and that is the outcome. Put that out there. It sounds a little a little silly like put it out in the universe and then it’ll come, but there is truth in it. If you want to go into leadership, start telling people that that’s a goal for you. Ask for mentors to help you in that direction.

If you want to do maybe less of an activity that is really draining, talk with your manager about it and see where somebody else on the team maybe that’s a strength for them, and they love making spreadsheets because apparently those type of people exist in the world. Maybe they want to make the spreadsheets, and you can take something off their plate that’s really energizing for you.

I think as women, sometimes we’re scared. I’ve fallen victim to this where I’ve moved into roles that I wasn’t sure about. Taking on projects because I was a young female, and they wanted me to take this on and it ended up being really energy draining for me. To Nicole’s point, I didn’t protect myself and explain that that wasn’t something that I wanted out of my career or had the time for.

Be clear about your expectations. I think that some of our power as women in sales is we forget that we’re desirable. We are special in this industry, and we are an asset to our employers and so we’re allowed to have that moment. To protect ourselves and explain that no, this isn’t serving me for my current role or my future role and I need to pass on this opportunity right now.


Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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