A video Happy New Year from frozen Boulder County, Colorado. Its 14 degrees and lightly snowing. Happy New Year! .
Boxes are great for containing things. Whether moving or just trying to clear the clutter, a box comes in very handy. You might even choose a box with some character, scratched out handwritten labels, shipping stickers and ancient yellow packing tape. Yes, the box is a great thing.
But a box can also describe the perspective we live in. Along the lines of “stuck in a rut,” living inside the box is a familiar place. The box is the universe we live in, not only the physical space of home, work, the grocery store and the coffee shop, but also the mental world, the thoughts, the emotions, and the perspectives on the world. By this definition, the box can start to take on a different feeling.
The life you live is the sum of the decisions and actions you make. These decisions have many different types of influences, be it from your friends or networking group or from the thoughts which pass through your mind. While many of us are quite content with the box we’ve built for ourselves, others may not be.
Change is how your box changes shape, color, and even location. “Think outside the box” is a phrase we often use to set loftier goals for ourselves. In fact, personal growth happens most when we step outside the box we’ve come to love. A life of learning, new places, and new people is a great way to keep your box changing forever.
Here are some ideas to go beyond your box:
- Take an online course – many are free and cover a wide variety of topics.
- Join a book club – Sure, Oprah comes to mind, but reading is a great way to expand your box, as is engaging in discussion.
- Invite a peer out to lunch – Not only do you get to experience a new atmosphere, but you share the experience with someone and bond with them.
- Learning a new language or instrument – Learning to speak German or how to play Pachelbel’s Canon on the piano, the process of learning something new stimulates brain activity and makes you feel good.
- Meditate – breathe, let your thoughts go, and relax. Reflect on the thoughts which come up naturally and be prepared to write them down afterward so you can take action.
- Take a vacation – it does not have to be an exotic place like Thailand, but a change of scenery is enough to get you thinking differently and open your horizons
- Take a different route home from work – this is one tip I love and practice daily. You never drive home the same route day after day. This opened me up to new routes and I found some places to visit at the same time.
While the box is a really cool thing, it is okay to think about life outside the box.
For a bit more than the last decade, my career has focused on data and data visualization within sales, marketing and finance. From understanding data architecture and database design to deploying insightful and effective reports to teams across the organization, I have come to appreciate the profound role data plays in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Understanding how to use data and integrating it into one’s daily routine is a challenge for many. As I reflect back on my career and the challenges for sales reps and analysts ahead, I chose to shift gears and focus on sharing my experiences with a greater audience.
With the purpose of sharing my skills, I created Saalun. Saalun is short for Sales Analytics University. The subscription based service is geared toward sales reps and analysts. While sales leadership can also benefit, the product is to help reps get the training they need without relying upon corporate leadership to provide it.
While we are just launching an early preview, we will open the doors in Q4’17 with content, newsletters, webinars and podcasts. Head over to our site and signup for notifications, early previews, and the latest news on this exciting project.
Sales Compensation is not easy. Throughout my career, I have seen plans which break the sales budget to plans which do are insulting to the rep as they pay too little for a lot of work. I refer to sales compensation programs as a form of art which requires a bit of science.
Science is pretty easy as it is understanding how your team should be selling your product and how it translates to the pipeline and corporate goals. This understanding translates to key performance indicators (KPIs) which one can use to monitor rep performance and team performance.
The art plays in as you develop the actual plan and which KPIs enter that plan. Average Deal Size, Number of Meetings, or Conference Attendees may not necessarily be the best indicators of sales. With a mix straight sales revenue compensation (say 2%) and additional kickers and bonuses, the art of using plan structure for influencing rep behavior can take trial and error to get right.
Finally, the best compensation programs leverage transparency, reporting, and recognition. This is plan implementation where making sure the rep understands their KPI progress and how it translates to their paycheck. Regular reporting and team leaderboard distribution are essential, motivating and drive revenue. A proactive analytics program can ease the calculation and payout of compensation at the end of the quarter.
Analysts are the lifeblood of a successful, data-driven company. The analysts within your organization are usually the first to figure out if the company is on track or off track of the goals. Their happiness can lead to early warnings and quick action to avoid pitfalls. Their happiness can also help drive innovation and much needed change.
It is essential to keep your analysts happy. Whether they are part of a corporate insights team, or are a line of business analyst with sales or marketing, there a few things a leader can do to help make them happy.
Trust & Enable, Don’t Dictate – The best leaders lead through influence and enablement, not micro management and total control. Trust is one of the most important virtues of a team and is a true symbol of teamwork. When a leader can let things go and let the judgment, experience, and knowledge of their analysts work, phenomenal things happen.
Celebrate Wins, big and small – Analysts have complex and very important roles in every organization. Analysts work hard, very often in sprints at quarter end and quarter begin. For this reason, take the time to help your analysts celebrate. From cupcakes and beverages in a conference room, to an off-site cart race, let your analysts cut-loose and have fun.
Give Credit – Nothing makes an analyst more upset than another analyst or person taking credit for their work. Just like recognition helps drive the morale of a sales rep, giving credit to your analyst when and where it counts is a simple act with profound effect.
Freestyle Project Time – Work hard, play hard. Let your analysts take a few hours each week to work on something they want to related to work. Whether they want to work on a new data model, an insights project, or attend an online, self service class, give them the time to do something they feel is important to their role. A few hours each week to work on a project of their choosing enhances creativity and innovation.
Establish a Vision, But Seek Input – As all leaders are responsible for establishing a vision and trajectory for the team, this vision must be based on input from the team. Allow the team to develop their own mission statement, their own framework, and be the guide to steer them toward corporate goals. A vision developed by team input is unstoppable.
As an analytical leader, you have a responsibility to keep your analysts happy. Happy analysts are key to driving data driven change in any organization. Allow them to flourish, be creative, innovate and share their passion with the organization.
But wait, a sixth BONUS tip
Conference Budget – Allow your analysts to attend one or two conferences of their choosing every year. Conferences are not only learning opportunities, but also incredible networking opportunities. An analyst meeting another analyst is like a match made in heaven. Let your analysts out of the office and share knowledge as much as possible.
2016 is history. Not the best year, not the worst year. It was a year of change, strong opinions and shock. From mass shootings to celebrity deaths to the election of Trump, it was a year we will all be talking about and trying to understand for decades to come.
It was also the year that I established myself in the Pacific Northwest. It was the year I became a two car owner, a year in which I established my style and a year in which I learned about myself. While I do not have a lot to brag about in terms of accomplishments, I can say I rode the tide, survived the year, and learned what is important to me.
As I look back on 2016 and dream about 2017 will bring me, I am filled with a bit of anxiety, hope, and inspiration. Like a blank page in an artist’s sketchbook, the new year is a blank slate waiting to be filled with memories, transactions, people, ideas, and dreams. It is more inspiring than anything.
Back in 2006, Chris Brogan began publishing 3 words to represent and guide him throughout the year. This tradition is ten years old in 2016. The idea, as described by Mr. Brogan:
Pick any three words that will guide you in the choices you intend to make for 2016. They should be words that let you challenge yourself as to motives and decisions. They should be words that help you guide your actions.-Chris Brogan
So, without further ado, here are my three words: Connect, Learn, Build
Connect – connect is about connecting with the community around me, the people, the places, the events, and the technology. Throughout 2017, I will be looking for opportunities to connect with everything around me.
Learn – While we are required to spend roughly 18 years in school before we are ready to participate in the world, the truth is life is one big school and you should never stop learning. I am eleven years into a career in Analytics and I realize how fast technology changes. I need to stay current on the tools. I also want to set the foundation for grad school, so I have some studying to do for the GRE.
Build – This word has a few meanings to me. First, I want to spend more time doing things with my hands, away from computer and not reliant upon technology. From a hydroponics system to arts and crafts, I want to build. Second, build represents establishing a foundation for the latter half of my life. I see myself undergoing a lot of personal change and 2017 is the year the foundation is built for that change.
What are you three words? What’s your focus on 2017?
In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, while I was attending University of California, Santa Barbara, I had the honor of working with Dr. Anabel Ford and her resilient crew on various projects surrounding the Maya site of El Pilar. From archaeological excavation to mapping, to cutting trails, analyzing artifacts, and building predictive models, the time I spent on this project was phenomenal.
Recently posted on my Facebook page was a notification the Dr. Ford is undertaking a new project, mapping El Pilar with LIDAR to better understand Maya settlements beneath the thick rain forest canopy. Please follow this link for more details.
They are currently seeking $2,700 in funding via Experiment.com, a crowdfunding platform for scientific research. $2,700 is a bargain for the wealth of data and insight this team of researchers will acquire. At 30% funded with 22 days left, let’s push it to 100% and beyond!