EPISODE 526: The Right Music Playlist Will Make You a Better Sales Leader Says Paula White

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on March 28, 2022, featuring Paula White, author  of “Side B: Remix for Leadership Style..

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PAULA’S TIP: “Create yourself a leadership playlist. You probably have one for the gym. You have one for a walk. You have one for a romantic night. You have the playlist for different seasons in your life. Create a leadership playlist, one that gets you pumped up to go to work, and one for your drive home, where you can actually get yourself prepared to go and enjoy, spend time with your family.”


Fred Diamond: I’m excited, today we have the author of Side B, she’s a woman in sales pro, she’s Paula White, she’s from Columbus. Paula, I’ve been looking forward to this show for a long time, because I was a DJ at one point, and I got music playing in my house and my home office nonstop from 5:00 in the morning till whenever. I constantly rotate the music. Sometimes it’s heavy pump like Def Leppard and Survivor, and sometimes it’s Frank Sinatra, like we were just talking about. I’ll even then throw on some obscure things like the greatest hits from the Blood, Sweat & Tears, ladies and gentlemen, I was listening to today, but you wrote the book. Let’s get right to it. Side B, tell us a little bit about the book. What prompted you to write that? I guess the first thing is just, again, I was a DJ, so I know what B-side was. Tell us why you called the book Side B and let’s get going.

Paula White: It’s a great question, because I’ve had a lot of people ask me that. “Why Side B and not the B-side?” Interestingly enough, back in 1944, and RCA put this out, the 45, put out the 45 for the singles. It was known then as Side A and Side B, with Side B really not intended to be published, not intended to be heard, not intended for any purpose but to fill the backside of Side A. When the DJs and radio stations and other people started to flip that record over, it was hard to say Side A/Side B. It became Side A and the B-side. The lingo changed. The lingo has remained the B-side for a long period of time.

Although, I will add in there that Mick Jagger with The Rolling Stones added that his songs on the 45s were double A sides. That’s the title, I think, of my next book, but we’re going to go down that path. But really, I wanted to start at the beginning, because it was really important for me to talk about the unpublished, the unrecognized Side B, because part of that is what we do in leadership and in sales. We’re so focused on that resume and getting clients that we forget, or we tend to put on the back burner those positive emotional skills that we have within us.

Fred Diamond: Let’s use the sales analogy here, of course, because this is the Sales Game Changers Podcast. We have sales people around the globe listening. Side A would be things, again, you mentioned your resume, but I guess the hard skills, ability to meet quota, customers, markets, those types of things. We address a lot of those on our Friday show, the Creativity in Sales. But what would be some examples specific on the B-side as it relates to sales?

Paula White: Interestingly enough, I worked with some musicians, a psychologist, and a neuroscientist, and we developed 10 positive behavior traits, not only for leaders, but for sales and for people in general. Some of those traits could be curiosity or passionate, ethical, trustworthy, courage, kindness, graciousness. All of those things that really are their soft skills, there are people skills, they’re the positive emotional base skills that we inherently have within us. It’s so important to compliment our A-side resume-building, quota development, all of those things, with our B-side, if you’re really going to be productive and effective in your sales process and in your leadership.

Fred Diamond: We talk about some of the B things that you just mentioned. We talk about curiosity, we talk about courage. When people ask me, “What is the number one trait that successful salespeople should have?” I always say it’s courage. First and foremost, the courage to get up and start making phone calls knowing that you’re probably going to get rejected nine out of 10 times. I’m just kind of curious for you, what is the balance? Is it 50/50? Can you be very successful with 80% Side B, 80% Side A? I’m curious on your thoughts on that.

Paula White: For me, it really depends on what your goals are. I believe the balance is really 50/50. I associate with courage, the conga drums. The conga drummer in my 10 positive behaviors is courage, and they really have to have the courage to get out there and slap around the drum with their hand and their palm. With that, their Side A is really change, and being flexible, and things along those lines of quota development. Being flexible with their customers and understanding, not taking no as a no, but a not right now. That’s the conga drummer in a sense. Courage is so important. I think it really needs to be 50/50, because it’s a both/and approach and not an either/or.

Fred Diamond: Let’s talk about today. We’re recording today’s show on middle of March. It’s actually March 17th. It’s also St. Patrick’s Day. For a lot of our friends, it’s a holiday called Purim, which is celebrated in Israel and with a lot of people who are listening to today’s show. But we’re also coming out hopefully of the pandemic. We’ve been in the pandemic for the last two years. We’ve all been home. We’ve been doing a lot of things like this. Talk about how this relates to where people might be right now.

Now, again, people are going to be listening to this in the future. We get people, Paula White, who listen to our podcast two, three, four years after the show was originally posted. Somebody might be listening to this two years from now. If you are, thank you so much. I thank you. Paula thanks you, go by her book, Side B. But for people who are listening right now, it’s the spring, we’re hopefully coming out, people are beginning to go more to events, and onsite calls, and getting on planes. Talk about how does this, what you’ve written, apply to where we might be today and where we might be coming ought of the pandemic.

Paula White: Great question, Fred. Here’s my thought, is we all leave a legacy. We all leave a part of us to whoever we interact with. If that part of that person only sees – and this includes your customer, and your peers, and your boss – if the only part they see is all the drive, drive, drive, is that really your authentic self? Bringing in that Side B really allows you to bring your whole self into work. I think that’s really the change that people are craving right now. People are, with the pandemic, they’re screaming for transparency, and empathy, and courage.

I love all of that, but you really still have to have both. You still have to have accountability with kindness and transparency with trustworthy. You still have to have that balanced approach. I think that that is the way of the future. If we can use music to free and open up our mind, to be more open-minded in that, then I think we’re going to see more people bringing their whole self into their workplace.

Fred Diamond: Let’s tie some of the music lessons that you talk about in the book, two things like that. I know you do a lot of coaching for sales professionals. Let’s say a mid-level sales professional, somebody who’s not a manager, they’re an individual contributor, they work for a thousand-person B2B company selling something. What might be some of your advice to them? Let’s say they’re in an interesting place, because we’re coming out, like we mentioned, but there’s still a lot of things going on. There’s a war, ladies and gentlemen, going on as we speak, inflation. Hopefully it’ll solve by the time the show goes live, but probably not. Gas prices are high. There’s still a lot of turmoil, Paula White. What would be your advice, and related to music, some of the things that you have in the book?

Paula White: Interestingly enough, the first thing that I ask any person that I’m coaching is, “I’d like to know what song reminds you of your younger years. What song reminds you of your high school, college years, and what song motivates you right now today?” Once we get those three songs in place, we really use that to develop, “What did that mean to you then and what does it mean to you now? Why does this song really motivate you now?” I think we talked about this, Fred, earlier. Most men, their favorite motivating song is Eye of the Tiger. Anything from Rocky. Most women, it is a girl power, maybe Rachel Platten’s Fight Song.

We talk about, “What does that mean?” Once we can get intentional about what it is to us, it opens up an awareness of where we are and how we can be better, without really going into a lot of deep, deep, emotional stuff. We really are just scratching the surface and being intentional with music and how we can develop ourselves from it.

Fred Diamond: Let’s do this. We actually have a question here. Actually, it’s a comment here, a comment from Jeff. He says, “Can Paula do a role play with Fred on that?” Would you mind? We very rarely do something like this, but I’m curious on your interpretations of what I’m going to answer. Make pretend I’m being coached by you. Let’s have fun with this. Let’s go through your questions. Maybe you could help me get better as a leader. Let’s try it.

Paula White: Let’s try it. Fred, thank you. Let me talk to you. When you were younger, in your younger age, I want you to really think back to three songs that inspired you and remembered that were positive to you when you were in younger years, and when you were 18 to 24, and where you are now. What would those be?

Fred Diamond: The first one is when I was younger. For some reason, I guess maybe the way you phrased the question, but there’s a band called Chicago, a Hall of Fame band. They had a song called Old Days. Jimmy Pankow, who wrote the song, talks about baseball cards, and he talks about drive-in movies, and a very nostalgic type of a song. For some reason that song is triggering the great memories I had as a kid. I had great parents and friends and lived good old middle-American type of a living, if you will.

But then I’m also kind of thinking about some bubblegum type songs. Like The Night Chicago Died, or Billy Don’t Be A Hero. You talk about 45s, I had tons of 45s, they’re probably still in my garage here. By the way, for the young people listening, 45s are one song on either side, hence the A-side and the Side B. I had a ton and I would play them nonstop. Like the Billy Don’t Be A Hero and The Night Chicago Died, Old Days by Chicago.

Paula White: That’s in your younger years. Tell me about your middle, right around high school, college.

Fred Diamond: High school and college is when I really started getting it. I went to college in the early ’80s. I graduated from high school in 1980. Was really into discovering The Beatles, of course, and The Rolling Stones, you mentioned Mick Jagger before. This is when it was way past Woodstock, of course, but it was the ’70s, and a lot of the album rock, like Boston. Even today, Paula White, I got all these CDs that I play through the day to keep me focused and motivated. Even to calm me, bring me down sometimes, not down in a depressing way, but in a meditative, “let’s think.”

Boston, even Chicago, I mentioned before, but I also started getting into Bruce Springsteen. I grew up in Philadelphia, Springsteen was huge, but I really didn’t get into him until college. One of my big pump-up songs in my late 20s, early 30s was a Springsteen song called Backstreets. Again, I’m based here in Northern Virginia, you’re in Columbus, Ohio, but it’s interesting. I’ll be curious on your interpretations of that, but actually, why don’t you give us your interpretations before I give you mine?

Paula White: We grew up around the same time, so I’m very familiar with all of those songs.

Fred Diamond: But you look much younger than me, FYI, for people watching.

Paula White: No, but thank you. Gracious of you. When we are younger and songs that you were talking about with the Old Days from Chicago, that nostalgia is so important to us to bring our whole self. Because what did that bring up for you? That brought up all your memories, those good memories. Even those songs like Billy Don’t Be a Hero, or The Night Chicago Died, those were songs, if you really listen to the lyrics, are pretty intense. As you’re growing, your memories start getting focused on this.

Now you’re in high school and college, and you said the Backstreets, Bruce Springsteen, and some Boston and some Eagles, they were really rock and roll at that time. But what I see with that is that you remember all of those because they hit you in a space that you needed to be really touched and to motivate yourself. That’s where we want to get to now. If those songs are the ones that bring back nostalgia, and if those songs are the ones that really bring back your memories of, “Let’s go. Let’s go. Let’s go,” what is the song that you get up to every single day now and motivates you to get your day started as far as motivation? Now, we all have different songs for different flavors and seasons in our life. But as of today, if I were to say, “What song motivates you?” What would it be?

Fred Diamond: I work in my home. I have my bedroom upstairs and I have my office in the middle of my house. I have my CD player ready to go. There’s three songs that come to mind. We mentioned Eye of the Tiger. Actually, at our award event, which was virtual in 2020, we had the great Jim Peterik, who actually wrote the song. He was the keyword player in Survivor. He’s a Renaissance man of rock. Eye of the Tiger for me is the go-to pump-up rock song of all time. It’s number one. Number two, there’s a song by a band called Tears for Fears called Everybody Wants to Rule the World. That’s a humongous song from the mid ’80s. Tear for Fears is actually touring again, and they get a lot of publicity. You mentioned Def Leppard. I have Def Leppard ready to go in the morning as well. It’s either Animal, or Rock of Ages, or one of those songs, but let’s talk about that for a second.

I’m curious on your thoughts. We spend a lot of time talking about meditation and being centered, silence, stillness. But we also are talking now about being successful with Eye of the Tiger, and Def Leppard, and More Than a Feeling by Boston. Obviously, if I’m going into a sales call, do I want to be listening to Frank Sinatra, or Celine Dion, or Enya, or do I want to play Eye of the Tiger as I’m driving into the parking lot?

Paula White: Well, real quick first, let’s get back to your song that motivates you now. I want you to think about this, because those are songs that you heard in your younger years. Our music gets turned off after college. Songs that we remember, and the lyrics that we remember are ones from our former days. I actually started listening to new music now, and it’s pretty interesting. I ask people to turn that song back on, turn the radio back on, and listen to some new songs to see what inspires them.

But as far as what I would say, if you’re going into a big meeting, or you’re ready for a close, or you’re ready to get that sale you’ve been working on for months or a year, the best thing you can do is find that song that’s going to get you and get you so you’re pumped up and ready to go in with a smile and with confidence. Whenever you’re ready to do that before you make that call, or before you walk in that office, I would say, turn up the music, let it inspire you, and get going and things will happen like you wouldn’t believe.

Fred Diamond: We have a question from Joe. Joe says, “Interesting answer, but should I be listening to music that will inspire my customers?” Let me try to interpret what I think Joe’s asking here. We talk a lot about NLP and being in level with your customer, being prepared for the customer, because the customer’s more important than you are. It’s great that I’m pumped, but if I’m walking in with Eye of the Tiger, I’m feeling great, Fred Diamond from the ’80s, whatever. But let’s say I’m selling to a farm supply company in Nebraska. I know that the customer is more mid-American, maybe country music is something, what do you suggest, Paula White? Do you suggest that maybe instead of me listening to Eye of the Tiger to pump me, maybe I should be playing some country maybe to kind of get into the groove? I’m interested in seeing your thoughts on that.

Paula White: Thanks, Joe, for the question. Great question. First of all, music is a universal language. When we need to adjust our moods to get us motivated, or to help calm us down or put us at peace, we really have to use music that is unique to us. If we use music that is unique to us, it affects the brain with your dopamine, your serotonin. If you’re listening to music that your customers listen to and you don’t really enjoy it, you’re going to see more cortisol coming out, and some of those things, and using both sides of your brain.

However, I would say go in with what’s important to you, but be prepared to talk about music because it is universal to what your customers like. If you like Thomas Rhett, a country musician now, talk about what’s frequent, because all of the people coming up now listen to the ’80s and the ’90s, but they’re really listening to some really great music now, like The Struts. That’s who changed my course of action and pivoted me, was The Struts.

Fred Diamond: Can music turn you off? I know you just alluded to that. Let’s say I, Fred Diamond, I’m a leader, and you’ve obviously heard the type of music that I like. When people come to an IES program, I’ve already listed some of the songs that I like to play to kind of get things going. But let’s say I’m a sales leader, and that’s me, and that’s the song I like. Let’s say my team is made up of a bunch of people in their 20s or maybe early 30s, where they never heard of Tom Petty. They might know some of these songs, because they’re ubiquitous. I like the band called The Fix, but let’s say that they’re not in tune with that kind of music. Should I, as a sales leader, maybe put on Thomas Rhett like you said to welcome them? I’m just kind of curious on your thoughts as a leader, how does this play as I try to manage my team and motivate them for success?

Paula White: Interesting question and great question. As a leader, the first thing I always ask when people come into their final interview with me, or when we hire them and get them in the first day of onboarding, is what is their favorite concert they went to? What this does, first of all, it brings down whatever’s scaring them or makes them nervous. It brings them down to a level of, “Well, she’s actually interested in what I like.”

Then I start getting a feel for what people are, each person, their favorite concert. Then if I start in a conference room, I may go around and say, “What’s your favorite song today?” Then what I’m doing is I’m learning. I might go to my Spotify playlist. If I know that that person’s having a bad a day, I’ll send them a song from that group. That really is making it unique, individual, and effective for each person.

Fred Diamond: Let’s follow up on that, let’s talk about some specifics, some other things based on your learning, Paula White, that you can recommend some action steps. I know I’m going to ask you at the very end for one specific one, but give us some more ideas on how sales professionals can use things that you learned about that you put in the book, Side B, to help them take their sales career to the next level.

Paula White: I would say there are plenty of things to learn. First is, as we know, sales is very fluctuating. We can get to a day that we walk out to our car and be very frustrated. “We didn’t get the sales, they chose somebody else. I’m not making quota,” all of those things. We tend to turn on the radio as we’re driving home. Maybe a song comes on that is, I don’t want to say a negative song, but something that can really fire you up. Is that intentional on what you need right now? That’s what I talk about being intentional to what you listen to, because if you have that one song, and that’s what I call it, keep those one songs for each mood that you have, and they will change over time, but go to it immediately. Don’t look for the playlist, or don’t look for the song on Spotify or all of that. Have it on a leadership playlist so that you’re ready to go and let your mood really get you inspired or bring you into a calm state.

Fred Diamond: Actually, I do that all the time. Usually the two songs that I’ll request are either Eye of the Tiger or Everybody Wants to Rule the World. You know what? I just say into my phone, “Hey, Siri. Play Eye of the Tiger.” Then the four seconds left, “Now playing Eye of the Tiger.” You know what? It transforms me. Everybody Wants to Rule the World, that transforms me. What is the go-to song for you? I’m just kind of curious.

Paula White: Oh my gosh, I have so many, but right now I am listening to Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison. If you listen to that, because I started this entrepreneurship, the book just came out. I’m a little nervous about how it’s going, but if I just turn that on, my brain changes. I have to tell you that I actually listened to it before we started our meeting today so that I could regroup and get my mind into a place that reminded me, “We all live on the Bright Side of the Road. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Fred Diamond: I told you I was a DJ and I listen to music constantly. That’s why I’m so excited to have you on. You’re really delivering some great things. I have an observation for you. I did a road trip, and I might have shared this with you already. I did a road trip back in early July, three-week road trip around half the country. I did a lot of listening to podcasts and a lot of phone calls with customers, but I bought a ton of CDs. Did I tell you what my number one observation was about music? What 80% of the songs were about? Did I tell you that?

Paula White: You did. But tell everybody, because I thought it was very unique.

Fred Diamond: 80% of the songs I listened to were about love. Then I even got even more different, and half of those songs were about, “I want you to love me again.” The other about, “I really, really love you.” To think about it, I love The Pretenders. Every song that Chrissie writes is, “Love me. Please love me. Love me.” It even says on one song. All she says is, “I want you to love me.” Brian Adams, every song that he talks about is about love. It’s about, “We had some rough times, but now I want you back.” Every Tom Petty song is about, “We’re living our lives because we love each other.” Every Styx song is about working, or it’s about spaceships and aliens. But that was a huge observation for me, Paula White. What are your thoughts on that?

Paula White: Well, I want you to look at the genre. We look at the ’70s. The ’70s were, like you said, Woodstock. A lot of people wanting peace, love, joy, and those songs came out. Then you had the ’80s when you had the punk rock infusion in the early ’80s, with The Cars and The Ramones, and that. Then comes the long hair bands, Jon Bon Jovi and all of that.

If you do a little history on the moods of the music, it goes from happy, happy, happy, to, “Yeah, yeah. We’re going to have a great time.” To, “I’m going to,” whatever. Then you’ve got the grunge with that and it’s like, “Don’t worry about me.” We are getting into this theme now post pandemic, which is really, again, circling back to the ’70s, about love. A lot of people are really getting back to that because there was a time period in probably 2008 to 2015, that it was all about anger and loathing yourself. But that’s changing. I think that that’s what’s important about really going back and looking at history in some of those songs.

Fred Diamond: As a sales professional, you need to be able to control your performance and how you do. Paula, I want to just acknowledge you, first of all, for publishing the book and having the corollary to sales. It’s very exciting. It’s well done. Your launch was tremendous and good for you for finding a new way to help sales professionals understand how they could be more successful and provide more value to their customers and to their companies. We like to end every show with an action step. You’ve given us so many great ideas. Give us one specific action step people should do right now after listening to today’s show to take their sales career to the next level.

Paula White: Well, thank you, Fred. I have had so much fun. First of all, I could talk on this forever, but one action step, create yourself a leadership playlist. You probably have one for the gym. You have one for a walk. You have one for a romantic night. You have the playlist for different seasons in your life. Create a leadership playlist, one that gets you pumped up to go to work, and one for your drive home, where you can actually get yourself prepared to go and enjoy, spend time with your family.

Transcribed by Mariana Badillo

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