Intimidating Women, Sales Rock Stars and Me

I don't know how I get myself into these things, but here I am again.

I hosted a pizza party for a bunch of my clients and friends at Hubspot last Thursday. By coincidence, Jill Konrath had several meetings that day with Mark, Brian, and a few others at Hubspot. I had a coaching session scheduled with Katharine Derum before the pizza party, but got tied up in traffic (don't ask). So, when Mark brought Jill up to the conference room, Katharine was there and I was not. It worked out. They got along famously. They didn't apparently mind me being late and we all went down to the pizza party together. I believe that I introduced all of my friends to Jill and was interested at how 'regular' she was with these mostly front line salespeople.

Now, understand that Katharine wants to be a sales rock star and I'm helping, but I think that knowing other rock stars is important. So, I suggested that in addition to Jill, she should know Trish Bertuzzi and Lori Richardson and I told her to expect an email introduction.

This was the email that I sent to Trish and Lori with a copy to Katharine and Jill.

Had an interesting day at Hubspot today. Bunch of stuff, but the relevant piece is that Jill Konrath happened to be in the office today and I introduced her to Katharine Derum, a new client. When I spoke with Katharine a few weeks ago, I told her that she was 'intimidatingly strong'. She hired me anyway. Bottom line is that I'd like to put her on your radar and encourage her to absorb everything that you've ever published. I hope that you don't mind and will make her feel as welcome as Jill did today.

So, this is Trish's reply.

Hi Katherine….welcome to girl power!

Rick… I have a serious question (really a few questions) for you and I would love you to really think about it before you answer because I respect your opinion.

If Katherine was a man would you say that she was “intimidatingly strong”?

Would you use those term to define me?

Have your read my blog on this (similar) topic? Hiring More Women in Technology Sales 

Have you read Lean In?

You know I love you to death Rick… I told Jill that and also why I do. Can’t wait to see your responses. Trish Bertuzzi

(I just deleted about 500 words of extraneous BS.)

First, short answers to your questions. Can men be "intimidatingly strong" and would I tell them they were? Absolutely on both counts! Intimidation by force may help guards maintain order in a prison or a police officer get a surrender in a volatile capture, but in regular, every day life, people avoid intimidators, and when they feel intimidated, they seek escape and alternatives.

Have I used those terms to describe you? No. Would I? Absolutely. The last time I saw you, you were dressed to the nines, walking with authority to your spotless, white Lexus convertible. Clearly you were a person that's absolutely in control of her moment and really not worried about what mere mortals might think.

I have read your article, but have not read "Lean In".

So, here's what I think. I spent the first 20 years of my life being intimidated by 5 foot tall, Italian women with big lips and big boobs that wanted to hug and kiss the eldest grandchild of Giuseppe and Vincenza Saimeri....Me. Eventually, I realized that they would hug me and kiss me and I would not die. Additionally, it made them feel good, like me even more and they'd do whatever I asked them to do. So, my first point is that, whether man or woman, there are two sides to intimidation. The intimidator should understand how they are making the intimidatee(?) feel and how it's affecting their cause. The intimidatee should understand that if they feel intimidated, they are allowing themselves to feel intimidated. (Privately, I'll share that as I walked into the conference room at Hubspot, I thought, "Holy Crap! I'm about to meet freakin' Jill Konrath!" Fortunately, she didn't try to hug me or kiss me. She was awesome.)

I had an exchange this week with a couple of big thinkers. Big thinkers think big thoughts and try to find big solutions. Although I sometimes think about big things, I tend to think about them on a smaller scale, thinking more about one person at a time, one situation at a time.

Remember Martin Luther King Jr's I have a Dream speech? That was 100 years AFTER the civil war. Slavery, civil rights, racism are big issues, that big thinkers have been dealing with for 100's of years and it's still not perfect. MLKJr was a big thinker.

I recently saw the movie 42. Jackie Robinson was like me. He could understand the big thought, but thought about it on a smaller scale, thinking more about one situation at a time. Did he always win? No, but look at what he started.

So, in summary and IMHO -

  • I think that any Board of Directors or hiring executive that allows gender, race, or even the candidate's relationship to the founder. board or executive to cause the best candidate not to be hired is ignorance.
  • I think that any candidate that doesn't learn how to sell well enough to get the job that they are the best candidate for is also ignorant.

This is where you and I will differ. I'd prefer not to see a 'civil war' like war of the genders, nor 'civil rights' like riots. I suggest that women use Jackie Robinson as a model. He was a 'rock star'. Women rocks stars should be awesome. Find someone who will back you. Sell your way in. Put up with the lies and BS. One job, one reputation, one woman at a time.

Look at it this way. Jackie Robinson debuted in 1947. It's 66 years later. Is there any color barrier in MLB? Any pay inequality? Maybe affirmative action advocates should take a lesson? I'm totally confident that you, Jill, or Lori could get any job that you thought that you could do better than the rest of the field. My suggestion is that we start helping individual rock stars get the job that will allow them to change the world.

Let me close with this. You might consider this a women's issue. Good for you. Have at it. If you know a woman that wants to overcome her issue, help her or introduce her to me.

Still friends?


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