“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.”

Howard Thurman

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As a proud WPI alumnus, I’m excited to be speaking at The Venture Forum held on June 9th at WPI’s Rubin Campus Center. I’ll be discussing what entrepreneurs and small businesses need to do to generate their first five sales via integrated marketing and sales activities.

Date: June 9, 2015
Time: 05:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Event: The Venture Forum - Your First Five Sales
Sponsor: The Venture Forum
Venue: WPI - Rubin Campus Center, 100 Institute Road, Worcester, MA
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

I’ll be speaking about Bentley University’s Professional Sales program and the state of sales education at the collegiate level in the U.S. We’ll also be discussing the unique opportunities of recruiting Millenials into sales careers. For more information, click here.

Date: May 21, 2015
Time: 7:30 am
Event: Sales and Marketing Innovators - Breakfast Roundtable
Sponsor: Sales & Marketing Innovators
Venue: Newton Marriott - 2345 Commonwealth Avenue, Newton, MA
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.

Sacrifice and selfishness: My advice to Bentley University’s Class of 2015

I was honored to present the Faculty Address for the Class of 2015 at Bentley University’s Baccalaureate ceremony on May 15, 2015.

Here’s a transcript of my remarks:

I am completely humbled and honored to have been asked to share my thoughts today during your Baccalaureate ceremony. I’ve never spoken at Baccalaureate before. In fact, I’ve never even written the word Baccalaureate before. The first time I tried to spell Baccalaureate, I froze at my keyboard and I suddenly realized what it was like for my students to try and spell “Pouliopoulos” when they submitted assignments to me. Sorry about that!

I’d like to tell you a little story.

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When I was eight years old, my parents took my younger brother and me to Horse Neck Beach on Cape Cod for a day of fun on the beach. Horse Neck Beach is known for a few things: huge crashing waves, horse flies – annoying insects which are like mosquitos on steroids, and occasionally, a pretty dangerous undertow.

My father and I had been swimming for a while when we noticed we’d been dragged out pretty far by the undertow. We were suddenly in water that was over my father’s head and the waves were very high. I was scared – not because I was in deep water but because my father was starting to panic.

When in doubt, go out!

Years ago, when I began working with local business owners to focus on strategic growth, I noticed that they often missed opportunities to attend networking events where they could expand their professional connections.  Why were they missing an opportunity to grow their business?

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Many times, these business leaders would report that they had “forgotten” there would be a Chamber of Commerce event or an event sponsored by their trade association. This was odd since most of the business organizations I know will send out multiple reminders about their events via email and social media prior to their events. I found that business owners would see these reminders but one critical step was missing.

Valuable networking lessons from the buffalo hunt

The Native Americans hunted the buffalo, an animal which provided virtually everything they needed to survive.  But what does hunting buffaloes have to do with professional networking?

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Buffalo hunting provided meat for food, bones for tools, hides for shelter, horns for kitchen utensils, fat for oil in lamps and much, much more.  Legends have grown out of the Native Americans’ ability to make use of all of the parts of the buffalo with very little waste.

There is a phrase that I often refer to when discussing goals at a networking event: Use the whole buffalo. My guess is that when people began hunting buffalo and other large animals, the main goal was to find food. However, if food was the only outcome of the hunt, they would have been wasting opportunities to create homes, tools and fuel.  It’s much the same way when business owners attend networking events.

Seth Godin’s got some great career advice

Seth Godin has a great blog entry that describes some of the frustration I often feel when discussing careers with high school and college students. Even in this day and age of free-flowing information and limitless possibility, too many young people try to stick to some linear path that was either dictated to them by parents or peer pressure. I think a lot of this focus on a “good job” and a linear career path comes from parental pressure.

I’ve tried real hard to not force my own children down any particular career path or college choice. As a result, I have two children in college and one on the way next year and none of them will be attending Bentley University where I currently teach. As a full-time lecturer at Bentley, my children could have attended tution-free. That’s quite a financial incentive and many other parents think I’m crazy for not insisting that my children attend one of the best universities in the U.S. tuition-free. In my view, I would have been a hypocrit if I ever forced my children to attend Bentley. During their entire childhood, I preached to them that they should follow their passions and find interesting experiences that would give them great stories to tell. After all, life is about the stories you tell and they have some great ones because of their desire to explore the world and find their “tribes.” They’ve all found their passions and their “tribes” and those don’t line up with Bentley’s offerings. I’m proud of all three of them even if it costs me a lot more to support their dreams!

Seth Godin makes the case that you need to experiment and try new experiences in order to figure out what your career/life should look like. I couldn’t agree more. Start with passion. Find your tribe. And then, find a place to learn and contribute.

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To Sell Is Human (Riverhead Books, 2012)

At Bentley University this semester, we launched a new course which is a key part of our new Professional Sales major: Sales Strategy and Technology. One of the required textbooks is Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human.  I included that book in the course because it does a great job of painting a picture of how the sales profession has evolved. The course focuses on how organizations build tech-based systems to support their sales strategy but the key to success for any sales professional today is their ability to genuinely care about their customers, to be a problem finder – not just a problem solver, and to focus on proven processes not outcomes. I’m a huge fan of all of Dan Pink’s books and To Sell Is Human is a must read for anyone in business or considering entering the sales profession.