Jennifer Fisher of Worldstrides Higher Education and Jen Loving Sales describes the steps you can take to get better in a job where you don’t feel like you’re performing as well as you might.
Jennifer Fisher of Jen Loving Sales
Website: Jen Loving Sales
LinkedIn: Jennifer Fisher
Enjoying what you do for a living is an important step towards a happy life. But what happens if you think you’re just not that good at what you do? Do you persist? Try to get better? Or do you move on to something else?
Jennifer Fisher is the Vice President of Sales for WorldStrides Higher Education, where she leads a team dedicated to developing new faculty-led programs for university partners.
She has almost 30 years of experience in sales and sales leadership. Prior to joining WorldStrides, she worked at The Chronicle of Higher Education where she consulted on effective multimedia hiring solutions for faculty and administrators; developed new inside sales teams to grow revenue and market share; defined and executed strategic vision; and was a proactive decision maker with the ability to clearly communicate vision and achieve business objectives.
Jennifer is a sought-after speaker in sales, sales leadership and in the education abroad field, having spoken on numerous university campuses discussing ways in which short-term programs help to develop global citizens and how best to incorporate academics and assessments into the curriculum abroad experience. She has also appeared as a guest on podcasts including Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer and the Sales Game Changers Podcast.
She has traveled extensively throughout Europe and in Asia, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Panama, Mexico, Peru and Colombia. Since Jennifer’s own education abroad experience living in a home stay in Germany, she is passionate about helping to enrich student’s lives through educational travel. She earned a BS in Communications from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the University of Maryland, University College.
In this interview, Jennifer explains the importance of asking for help, how best to do it, and who to ask.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- [1:16] What Worldstrides does and the type of study abroad programmes Jennifer works on.
- [2:05] How Jennifer found her interest in sales and a passion for helping people to achieve their goals.
- [4:14] Why Jennifer decided to leave the job she loved at Chronicle to go and work for Worldstrides.
- [06:23] How long it took Jennifer to feel comfortable and confident in her role as a salesperson.
- [07:58] Why it can be worth sticking with a career even if you’re not immediately successful at it.
- [10:20] How Jennifer improved herself and became successful in the role she was in.
- [11:42] How roleplaying with colleagues can help you overcome problems and improve your performance.
- [16:16] The importance of listening to the views of people who have more experience than yourself, and how much difference a mentor can make.
- [17:18] What you get out of acting as a mentor for someone else.
- [18:10] Why you should never shy away from asking others for help.
- [20:39] How your responsibilities change as you become more senior in a business and the ways a coach can help you manage your increased seniority.
- [22:14] How to know when you’re at a point in your career where an external coach will be of use.
- [25:26] How to go about selecting a coach that is the right fit for you.
- [28:36] The best ways to measure success when working with a new coach.
- [30:50] How Jennifer has managed to increase travel sales even during COVID times.
- [34:00] What Jennifer wants to work on and improve on in the future.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase. This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.
To see the resources recommended by all our guests, visit the Resources page.
Episode 73: How to get better at your job and access the help you need - with Jennifer Fisher of Jen Loving Sales
Jeremy Cline 0:00
Enjoying what you do is all very well, but what happens if maybe you just think that you're not that good at it? Do you persist? Do you try to get better? Do you conclude that it's just not the thing for you and try something else? Well, that's what we talk about in this episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.
Jeremy Cline 0:34
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show that's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. Now, there are lots of reasons why you might want to change jobs. Maybe you don't like the people, maybe you just don't like the work itself. But one of the reasons we haven't really talked about on the podcast so far is where you enjoy the work, but you just don't think necessarily that you're all that good at it, that you're not necessarily cut out for it. And that's one of the things that we're going to be talking about today with my guest, Jennifer Fisher, who is a Vice President of Higher Education at WorldStrides, which is an educational travel and experiences company. Jennifer, welcome to the podcast.
Jennifer Fisher 1:10
Thank you very much. I'm excited to be here.
Jeremy Cline 1:13
Can you describe a little bit about WorldStrides and your role in it?
Jennifer Fisher 1:16
Absolutely. So, I am Vice President of Sales, as you mentioned, working in the higher education division at WorldStrides. We handle educational travel from K through 12, all the way up through executive education. I'm specifically in higher ed, so I work with colleges and universities putting together basically study abroad programmes.
Jeremy Cline 1:38
Is sales something that you've always been involved with?
Jennifer Fisher 1:41
I started out always in sales, many, many years ago. That was something, for whatever reason, I just felt like this is what I want to do. Basically my whole career has been focused on sales.
Jeremy Cline 1:55
And how long has that been with WorldStrides?
Jennifer Fisher 1:58
Going on seven years at WorldStrides.
Jeremy Cline 2:00
So, what got you into sales in the first place, when you first started out?
Jennifer Fisher 2:05
Yeah, that's an interesting question, because many years ago – which is probably going on 30 years ago – I was finishing up college and really not knowing what I wanted to do, probably like a lot of young students nowadays, just not knowing, and knowing what I did love to do is connecting with people. I love to help people and serve them, and really help find solutions. And so, I really got to thinking that probably the best way to do that is to get involved in sales, so that I could help people achieve their goals, whether it is through their company in B2B, or whatever that looks like. But that was my way of helping people with their jobs and helping them be successful.
Jeremy Cline 2:47
And so, what was your first sales position, your first proper job?
Jennifer Fisher 2:51
My very first proper job out of college was I was selling windows. Which, yes, that does not sound very exciting! But I did sell windows. Definitely learned a lot, and I struggled a lot. Wasn't quite my thing. And so, partly I wasn't sure, is it the windows that's not exciting to me, am I struggling with the sales side? So, that was my first job right out of college, and from there, I left the window business – probably because I was probably close to being let go at one point because I was not that good – and then I went into radio advertising. And I was selling radio advertising. But that was rough too.
Jeremy Cline 3:34
So what were you doing before you joined WorldStrides?
Jennifer Fisher 3:37
So, that was where my success really had taken off. So, for over 20 years, I did work with a publication called the Chronicle of Higher Education. And in that publication, I also sold advertising, working within the higher education field and selling advertising. And that was really the company and the job that I cut my teeth in and grew my career there for over 20 years, and just really learned a lot and really was able to serve the higher education field.
Jeremy Cline 4:07
What caused you to go from there to your current position?
Jennifer Fisher 4:11
That's actually a very funny story! One of the things is that I absolutely loved working at the Chronicle, and really had no intention of leaving. And my current boss here at WorldStrides, my general manager, he had reached out to me after he found me on LinkedIn, and WorldStrides, in the higher ed division, was looking to build a team to go after the undergraduate study abroad market. And he needed someone to build and lead this team, and he had called me on a Monday night, out of the blue, and we talked, and I said, 'Thank you, but no thank you. I'm really happy and I'm good where I'm at, but wish you the best of luck.' And I never thought about it again. And the very next night, on Tuesday, he called me again, he goes, 'Listen, I think you'd be perfect for this job. We really want you here, I want to talk to you, please can we just meet and have a conversation?' And again, I let them know I was flattered, but really happy at the Chronicle and wasn't looking to make any changes. So, he called me again Wednesday night and we went through the same process. And so, I finally said, 'You know what, okay, let's have a conversation.' So, we ended up meeting on Friday, two days later. We met on Friday, and he introduced me to everybody in the company, right up to the CEO. I was there most of the day having meetings, and he came back in and on the spot, he offered me the job. And I thought, oh, my gosh, I am clearly the Steady Eddy, because I was at the Chronicle for over 20 years – just a very steady person, doing my thing! And I accepted right there, on the spot. I said, 'Oh, my gosh.' But I said yes. And so, it was that something inside of me that just knew this was the right path for me.
Jeremy Cline 5:59
You mentioned a few moments ago how when you started sales, that you didn't feel all that comfortable with it. And you mentioned that you thought had you not left that company, then you might have been let go yourself. At what point did you start to think that it was right for you, or that you were good at it – that you had confidence in your ability? Was it since you joined WorldStrides or was it before that?
Jennifer Fisher 6:22
It was definitely before that. My first couple jobs when I was selling the windows, and even in my early career, doing a little bit of radio advertising – the environment was a tough environment, and I was just learning. So, getting out of college and being in this tough environment just made you question everything that you were doing. A little bit of imposter syndrome, so to speak. You're just like, 'What am I doing? I want to be doing this, and I'm doing it and I'm horrible at it. I'm not doing well!' And so, really taking the time to gain confidence, knowing that there's always going to be struggles and challenges, but you've got to find a way to make it work. And this was something that I felt very passionate about. I love sales. And I couldn't figure out, what am I doing wrong? So, I really became a student all over again myself, just trying to keep learning and keep understanding. And when I would have a bad day with some bad calls or conversations that didn't go well, I really became self-aware and analysed what I did and how I could change in the future. And so, I kept using those steps to really advance my career and how I can get better. And so, by the time, almost 30 years ago, when I did get to the Chronicle, I was in a better position to lead a sales team at the Chronicle, as well.
Jeremy Cline 7:47
Why weren't you put off? Why, when you had those initial experiences, did they not put you off and make you think, 'Oh, well, you know, I gave it my best shot, I'm gonna have a go at something else'?
Jennifer Fisher 7:58
That's a good question. And I think my family asked me about that, too, because they're like, 'What are you doing Jen? You're not good at this!' And I kept feeling like, but I want to be good at this! Even though I wasn't good and my results weren't good, I enjoyed everything up to trying to get to the results. I just really enjoyed it. And I kept thinking that you can overcome things, I just need to focus more, I need to learn more, I need to do things. But it was this something that was inside of me that said, I love this and I really enjoy this, and I can't imagine doing something outside of it. If I really love it, and I have that passion for it, then you know what? I'm going to find a way to make it work and I'm going to do it. And that's exactly what I did. Like you were saying, I wasn't successful. My very first two jobs in sales were commission-only. So in retrospect, it wasn't hard for the company to invest in me because they weren't investing anything in me. I didn't have a salary and I only got a commission if I sold something. And my family's like, 'What are you doing? You need to go find something and make some money and go do something.' So, it was something that I just finally was like, you know what, I love it so much. Thinking back about it now, I always think about Abraham Lincoln. I think everyone knows the story of Abraham Lincoln. He went through a career of defeats and setbacks. He tried to start his own business and he failed it. He had a job and he lost his job. He had a nervous breakdown. And then he got himself together. And then he was trying to be nominated for the Speaker of the House and he was defeated. He tried to run for Congress and he was defeated. He was defeated for the US Senate. He was defeated for Vice President, until he was finally elected. So, it's still that inner sense of him that he could have turned around and went somewhere, but he knew this was what he wanted to do, and I kind of felt the same way in my role as well.
Jeremy Cline 10:02
So, having acquired this determination to make it work, what steps did you take to figure out how you were going to make it work? So, how did you work out what sort of learnings you needed, what experience you needed, what practice you needed?
Jennifer Fisher 10:20
That's a very good question. Some of it started off very basically. I know there was a lot of improvement. And with my self-belief, I would get some friends, and I'd be like, 'Help me out here! I'm having trouble when people would ask me these questions when I'm selling my product. How do I answer it? How do I do?' And I would read books and become that student. But then, I did, I practiced it with my family, with my friends. And as I worked in these companies, I'd get my team together. And lots of times, we would practice – mainly because I wanted to practice – but let's all practice together and really help each other and then learn from each other. So, it was a matter of taking that leadership, mainly for my own self-improvement, but then it also lifted up the whole team as well, because we were always like, 'Okay, what are you struggling with?' And maybe I had an answer to help them. But at the same time, I always knew where I struggled at or I'd have these conversations with our clients that were just awkward. I'm like, 'I know I didn't handle that well!' I would take note of that, and I'd ask questions to my peers. 'How would you handle something like that? Really? Okay, let's try this. Can we practice so I can get better at this?' And really leveraging the community, my people, my community, my peers, my family, and friends – really just, 'Let's work together here on this,' and not being afraid to ask for help.
Jeremy Cline 11:39
Can you give a few examples of what practice looked like?
Jennifer Fisher 11:43
In the sales world, practice is what we call role playing. So I would sit there, I'd come back from a meeting with a client that, I lost the account or something didn't happen. And then I would dissect everything in my mind. And of course, that's a dangerous path to go down, because then you take that negative mindset and you're critiquing everything, and that's not good. Really focused on just what aspects, where I struggled or where I started to feel not confident in my replies. And I would go to my peers and say, 'Have you ever been in a situation like this with your client? How did you handle it?' And so, then they would tell, and I would write down the answers. And I'd ask, 'Can you practice with me?' And so, we would literally role play and practice scenarios until I felt comfortable with it. But it's also the not being afraid to ask. You don't look weak for asking, you look strong, and you recognise your own weaknesses in order to get better. And you need to leverage that.
Jeremy Cline 12:40
And what was the reaction of colleagues when you first suggested having these sort of practice sessions and this sort of thing? Because I can see how in the workplace, some people are going to be quite receptive to these sorts of things, other people aren't. And if you take it out of the workplace – you mentioned family and friends – then there's going to be friends who absolutely want to help you out, but maybe they're doing a completely different job and they just don't feel equipped to. So, how do you persuade them that they are still going to be helpful to you? I think that's two questions there!
Jennifer Fisher 13:10
That's okay! I get it. And I think you're right, you're always going to find people in your industry, in your field, your peers, that some people are receptive to it, and other people are not. And I think what I've also realised is, that's their problem, that's not my problem. I'm trying to learn and I'm trying to grow, and if somebody isn't receptive to that, then that's okay. I'm going to go work with the people who are receptive, because chances are, those people also want to get better. And when they see your vulnerability to say, 'Hey, I need some help, can you help me?' Next thing you know, they might need some help in something that maybe I'm good at. And so, really having that peer relationship that you can really help each other with it is a good thing. And again, there are going to be people who aren't receptive and that's okay, that's on them and I'm not going to try and force that. I'm doing this because I need some help, and I'm being vulnerable and asking for help. And you're right, there are family and friends, completely different fields, that I would ask for help. And again, if I'm asking my mom, my mom's like, 'Oh, my God, you're amazing! That was great!' So, in that regard, I wouldn't really get much help. But if I got the words that I needed to say and how to handle it, sometimes it's just hearing myself say it, just hearing me say, 'This is how I'm going to do this', and just getting the confidence in my own practice with it, and saying it that way, too. So, it all helps, because the more you do something – doesn't matter who the audience is – the more you do something, the more confident you're going to feel and the more comfortable you're going to get at doing it.
Jeremy Cline 14:45
Were you practising this with colleagues when you were in your commission-only based roles?
Jennifer Fisher 14:51
I was, but it was a different – it was tough, because some of my colleagues were in the same boat and we didn't know what we were doing, and so it was something where we were like, 'That sounds good, so let's go try it out!' And we would be trying it out with our clients and we'd come back like, 'Yeah, that didn't work at all!' [Laughs]. So then it was more about a trial-and-error message, because we were kind of in the same boat in those instances,
Jeremy Cline 15:14
I have this impression that where people are working on commission-only, that it's dog eat dog, every person for themselves, and there's not necessarily that much of a collegiate, helping-each-other-out atmosphere. But that sounds like that's not necessarily the case.
Jennifer Fisher 15:27
It could be. There definitely could be. But the people that we worked with, we all had our own territory. So, even though we all wanted to do well, it wasn't that they were trying to get into my territory and I was trying to get into theirs. We still had our separate territories. But there are some cases where that is very cutthroat, because companies will just let you out and there's no territory and you just go after it. That wasn't the case with this, which was nice at the beginning.
Jeremy Cline 15:51
A theme that's come up on this podcast a few times is when you want to achieve something, finding someone who's already done it, finding someone who's a few steps ahead of you, someone who already embodies what you want to look like and what you want to be like. Were there people like that, either in your workplace or outside, who you could tap their knowledge?
Jennifer Fisher 16:16
Back in the early days, some of the more senior sales people at the radio station, it was definitely interesting to hear their point of view and learn about the industry and what best practices work. And then even as I went over to the Chronicle, which was an amazing experience, there was definitely somebody that I like to call a mentor. She was amazing, and I'm thinking, this is who I want to be! I want to be this. Yes! And I think this was back before people had mentors, but in a sense, she was my mentor. And so, I would go to Laura, who's now a good friend of mine, but I would go to her and say, 'What do you think about this?' or 'Help me out with this!' or 'How would you handle this?' And so, we really ended up having this great relationship. And, I will say, probably most everything that I have learned in the sales industry, I really got from my friend Laura. She just was amazing and was everything I had wanted to be at the time.
Jeremy Cline 17:15
What do you think she got out of it?
Jennifer Fisher 17:17
She is an amazing sales leader. And so, for her as a leader, it was just very rewarding, I feel, for her to see success out of me, too. For her to help in my success I think meant a lot to her. She genuinely wants people to succeed and she genuinely cared and was so authentic about that caring. And again, I'm sure there were other people, not just me, but that's who she was. And that's why she made such a great sales leader.
Jeremy Cline 17:48
That's interesting, because I think sometimes people are a bit reluctant to ask for help from people when there's a perception that you don't necessarily have anything to offer them in return. But perhaps that's just a limiting belief that you need to get over, really, and just go and ask them.
Jennifer Fisher 18:05
Yes. And I think that brings up a really good point. Because there definitely are a lot of people like that. There are definitely a lot of people who sometimes feel that by asking for help will make them look weak, or will make them look like they don't know what they're doing. And so, in some of those cases, those people were just like, 'I want to figure it out on my own', and they want to show their boss or show their colleagues that, 'I can do this without anyone's help'. But that's not reality. We all need help, we all need help to get better. And even my best salespeople now, they can use help to get to the next level. They could always work to get to the next level. And I think having that tunnel vision that you don't need any help, that's what's gonna stop you advancing in your career. What's funny though, is even before recognising the need that it is a positive thing to go and ask people for help, at the time for me, it was really selfish – I needed help! And I'm like, 'This is all about me, I need help!' And this was very selfish of me, but I also wanted to succeed. And so, in one aspect, I didn't necessarily care if somebody had the perception of me that I wasn't good, or I was weak because I asked for help. Baloney! I want help and I want to get better. And so, I do wish a lot more people would have that growth mindset now, because I do think that there are a lot of people that feel that they will appear weak or not successful if they're asking for help. And that's just not the case. And I do think it is rare when you do have somebody that comes to you and says, 'Hey, can you help me out with this?' Either, 'I want to do better on this phone call with my client', or 'I want to do better closing business', or whatever that looks like. Being open to new ideas. There's different ways of doing things, and everybody can improve in some area of what they're doing.
Jeremy Cline 20:09
And I wonder if the reticence gets harder the more senior you become, so as you advance in your career, then you think to yourself, 'Oh, I should know that, I'm at this level', you know, vice president, director, whatever it is, 'I should know the answer, and so I'm not going to ask for help'. When in reality, of course, it does make sense to ask for help. You've got some of the great leaders of businesses, they all have their own coaches, and they all have their own teams and they all get help from other people.
Jennifer Fisher 20:38
That's right. And that is true. As I became a vice president of sales, yes, there's a different level of responsibility and perceptions when you're at that executive level. And one of the things that I've noticed is, again, building connections with your peers. And at the vice president level, my peers are other vice presidents of sales. So, you still want to build those connections with those people. And what's interesting that you talk about with the coaching is, I was in that position about a year and a half ago, that I really recognise that story – what got you here won't get you there. And so, I'm here, but I want to get here, and you've got your blind spots. And so, I'm not sure what the next steps are. And I did, on my own, go out and hire an executive coach for myself that I've been working with for the past year and a half, and she's there to help you get better, and so she'll tell it like it is, but it's all about helping you get to that next level and helping you get better in your role, as well, too. And I still have my network of vice presidents, but it's just really good to have that executive coach there who can really focus in on some of your blind spots.
Jeremy Cline 21:51
Having spent a lot of your time doing these exercises with colleagues, having your chats, 'How can we improve', 'How did you solve this problem', all that sort of thing, but all with people who you were already working with – what prompted you to come to the realisation or take the decision that you really needed someone completely externally, a separate coach?
Jennifer Fisher 22:14
It was a decision I wrestled with, thinking about the investment I want to make in myself. And thinking through that, even though I was working internally with other vice presidents and getting their views on, 'What's your team doing', or 'How are you succeeding here', we're still all within that same company. And so, I really felt that in order for me to continue being successful, and to work at a higher level and make a bigger impact, I needed to get feedback from somebody external to really have that view on me to say, 'Hey, listen', because otherwise, if you're still with the same group of people in the same organisation, all of you will have that blind spot. You're all working under the same company standards and the way things are. And part of growing as a leader and an executive leader is understanding what's possible. And sometimes you don't think about what's possible when you're talking to the people that are all working under the same constraints. So, what's possible, how can we innovate, what's different, and then having that external coach really helps you see what's possible, what's innovative, and even personally, how you can approach things differently, so you can show up at a higher level, which really means you're making a bigger impact for the company to succeed.
Jeremy Cline 23:38
Was it your own realisation that you needed an external coach to help you? Or was it the experience of others? How did you come to decide, 'Actually, I do need a coach?'
Jennifer Fisher 23:48
It was mine. And probably it comes from that inner passion that I had from 30 years ago: 'I want to be successful. And I'll do what I need to do to help be successful', and recognising what got you here won't get you there. 'So, I'm now this vice president. And it's a great role, but how can I make a bigger impact? How can I make a bigger impact for my team and for the company?' And that was something that was really important to me. And I felt that I was at a point in my life, in my career, where I was like, I'm ready to take that next step, and I don't know how. I don't know how to take that next step. And so, that's when I started interviewing for an executive coach that kind of matched with my passion, my professional level of where I wanted to go and how I can make that bigger impact. And that's when I started interviewing, and it definitely is a very serious undertaking, because it's an investment and you have to look at it. This was an investment in myself, the company isn't covering this, I'm paying out of pocket. And this was an investment in myself that I said, 'This is worth it to me. This is what I need if I'm going to succeed and make a bigger impact within my company.'
Jeremy Cline 25:02
I had a guest on a few weeks ago, and it was all about why everyone needs a coach, to be perfectly frank. But I'm really interested to know in your case, what your selection process looked like. How did you draw up your list of candidates? Where did you find them? How did you find them? And how did you whittle them down until you selected the person that you wanted to work with?
Jennifer Fisher 25:24
So, again, that's another interesting story. As much as I am always that Steady Eddy, there have been a few choices I've made. One, obviously taking the position as Vice President at WorldStrides, and then the other one, with my executive coach Stacy Mayer, that were in the end, very easy decisions for me.
Jeremy Cline 25:43
I'll just say that if anyone recognises the name Stacy Mayer, yes, she has been on this podcast, and that was how she introduced Jennifer!
Jennifer Fisher 25:50
Yes, Stacy's amazing! I had no idea of where to look for an external coach. I thought about going to my HR office, because I know they would have some people. And I just felt that I really wanted somebody who had no affiliation with the company, who didn't have a friend of a friend – I needed my own coaching that wasn't necessarily part of where everyone would talk or anything would happen at WorldStrides. So, I did Google and got on the website, and I was looking at coaches, and I was also looking at whether it was a female coach, little things like that – what was important to me at the time. And I, for my own personal reasons, wanted to go with a female executive coach, who – she focuses on everybody, but she also has a good focus on women in leadership, which I thought was very important. And I had a few other coaches lined up that I wanted to interview. And the first interview I did was with Stacy Mayer, and it's just like when my general manager called me for the role at WorldStrides, I felt the same way with Stacy. And we had that first conversation, and I just knew, she was the one that was right for me. And I think that's important that you have that click. Now, with that said, she still challenges me, and still gives me some honest feedback. But during that interview call, it clicked, and I knew Stacy was the coach for me. And I cancelled, I didn't even do the other interviews with anybody else, and I signed up with Stacy.
Jeremy Cline 27:27
There's a lot to be said for gut instinct. I remember a previous job where I was at the company for six years, and I remember going to the first couple of interviews and just thinking, I'm excited about this. This is the place for me. And you can't necessarily put your finger on it, but you've just got this feeling, 'Yeah, this is definitely the right one for me.'
Jennifer Fisher 27:45
Yes, that's exactly right. And some of those gut feelings are what has made me so successful in my career. Even when I was probably failing miserably in my early years of sales, I still had that gut feeling that this is for me, I just need to find a way to make it work. And maybe it's not selling windows, maybe it's not selling radio advertising! And I feel that way when I found my niche in higher education at the Chronicle, and that's when I was like, 'This is me, this is my passion, this is what I believe in.' But yeah, you know that you have that deep inside your belly, and you're like, 'This is it.'
Jeremy Cline 28:21
When you started working with Stacy, did you have an idea of what success would look like in terms of working with her and what your timeframe was for success?
Jennifer Fisher 28:34
No, I didn't. One of the things is that I didn't really have any expectations. Because I didn't know anything. I actually never even knew anyone who had an executive coach, so I really wasn't sure what to expect, and so I think that might have been our first conversation. I was like, 'Okay, Stacy, what do we do? How does this work? What's happening?' And she laughs and she's like, 'Okay, Jen, calm down. Here's what we need to do.' And even just talking to her about my goals, and how I can make a bigger impact and what my day-to-day looked like – she gave some very frank conversations with me, and she was like, 'Jen, you're not even acting like a vice president. You're not even at that level yet, even though your title's there.' And I was like, 'What? What are you talking about?' So, again, when she would explain some things and say, 'You're too much into the weeds, you can't manage and lead a team if you're doing their work. You have to pull yourself out.' And so, as we worked on this, I feel that, again, being a student always, when my coach – whether it's a coach, my boss, whatever I want to do is, I'm learning, when they tell me I should do something, I do it. And so, within six months I'd really taken her feedback, and I've applied her feedback in my role. And within probably seven or eight months, my boss, the chief revenue officer, who knew I was going through an executive coach, he did pull me aside and he said, 'The changes in you, in just the seven or eight months – you are operating at a higher level right now. You are probably even operating higher than a VP of Sales right now.' And he was able to say that he could definitely see just the way I presented myself, I suggested ideas, I was a visionary and I was putting strategies in place. And it was just a different version of me showing up.
Jeremy Cline 30:26
Fantastic. I've got to ask, just because it relates to the times in which we're talking, but your focus is on travel and experiences and that sort of thing, and we are in an era where there's not an awful lot of travelling going on, and yet I understand you've still managed to increase sales. How have you managed to do that? What's the story? How are people going on these educational visits and trips?
Jennifer Fisher 30:51
First, they're not going on these trips. So, we are selling into the next fiscal year right now. So, they're not actively going, and obviously being in this COVID era – which is my new swear word right now – but the COVID era, and then we have higher education, so higher education and study abroad, not a good place throughout COVID. And that's tough. So, our business came to an absolute, complete halt, which is very tough. Two things I would say that credits the team's success, and how I led them to success, is that my early days, my obstacles and challenges that I had to overcome to be successful, I've learned that things don't come easy. You have to work for it, you have to have a plan in place, you've got to try things. And so, then, working through my executive coach, I was able to pull myself out of the weeds and really operate at a higher strategic level. Having those two in places when February hit and we were starting to see what was happening in Asia, and it was spreading into Europe, and we were starting to see this – because of the direct relationship of my working with a coach and my experiences in the past, thank goodness I already had pulled myself out of some of those weeds and was operating at a higher strategic level. So, when February came and we started seeing that if this continues, it's not going to be good, so I was able to put various strategies in place and I had a strategy and a backup strategy. And because every week, it changed – now it is hitting Europe, now this is happening, now it's heading to the US... But I had various strategies in place that we were able to implement, I was able to keep my team motivated. Again, we have this plan in place, if we all just were like, 'Oh my god, there's nothing we can do', we wouldn't be able to do it at all. But we're here for our clients, we have a strategy in place, and we're gonna execute on that strategy. And by doing that, we were able to keep the momentum going through March, April, May, during the end of the school year for colleges – even though all travel halted, we were writing new business for the next fiscal year. So, we were having those trusted advisor relationships with our clients, where they trusted us to – even though we're in a bad spot now, but we're gonna still continue working with you after COVID. And again, not having any idea what was really in store for us, but sometimes it's really about, you have to control what you can control. If you worry about all the stuff you can't, no one's going to succeed. Focus on what you can control. I was able to have strategies in place, we were able to execute on those strategies and keep the team engaged and moving forward with their clients.
Jeremy Cline 33:49
So, where does the future lie? You've had some executive coaching, which clearly has paid dividends. What's the five-year vision, the 10-year vision for Jen Fisher?
Jennifer Fisher 33:58
Yes, I love it. The five-year vision is definitely continue to work at a higher level. I absolutely love WorldStrides, and would love to be able to make a bigger impact at the company with the teams and the people that I work with and really continue to hit numbers at such a higher level. Personally, I'm also working on putting together some things that I love about sales, and I'm working to actually launch my own podcast on sales in January. It's going to be titled, 'A life you love - sales tips with Jennifer Fisher'. So again, just tying into what you like and being able to really make that impact. So, for individual team members, as well as for the company that I'm working for, I just want to be able to help them succeed, put some strategies in place – which, even right now, positive news is coming out of the medical field. It's not a done deal yet, but positive news is happening. I feel like we're getting to the end of this, hopefully. So, again, I've got other go-to-market strategies that I'm working on right now that's going to help us speed that up once there is the actual positive news. So, just really being that visionary for your team and putting strategies in place and being able to execute on those strategies when the time is right.
Jeremy Cline 35:18
Fantastic. To put that in a bit of context, we're recording this in the middle of November 2020. By the time this show comes out, your podcast should have come out, so I will put in the show notes links where people can find it. So, there you go, you committed to it. Now you've got to do it!
Jennifer Fisher 35:32
I love it! Thank you.
Jeremy Cline 35:35
This has been a fantastic story. I've absolutely loved this exploration of the different levels of help that you've got as you're recognising you needed help, and then going out and actually getting it at different stages in your career. It's been brilliant. Aside from the executive coach, is there anything else, books that have particularly helped you in the process? Books can take you so far, but they're a great place that people can start.
Jennifer Fisher 35:59
Yes, yes. And I'm a book fan. I love books. But I will tell you that the one book that has just been very instrumental, that is my go-to book, is a book by Ryan Holiday, and it's The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. It's a very inspiring book, but it also breaks things down. When you feel, yes, this is a pandemic that no one has ever experienced before – but we have experienced a lot of obstacles. People that Ryan mentions in this book have experienced obstacles and trials that are just crazy. And so, just thinking about and learning about these people and what they've done to get through, and very inspirational, that this was something that can be applied to anybody in any industry. This is what this is. And I love it. And in fact, if we have time, can I share a quote from this book?
Jeremy Cline 36:56
Yeah, absolutely. Please do.
Jennifer Fisher 36:57
Oh, my gosh. So, I love this book. And this quote that I've been sharing with my team right now is, 'The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.' And that, to me, sums up everything. There's always going to be an opportunity. It may not be what we thought it was, but there's going to be an opportunity there. And it's just powerful.
Jeremy Cline 37:26
If people want to get in touch with you, are you going to have a way that they can do that once you've released your podcast?
Jennifer Fisher 37:31
Yes, I have. I'm on LinkedIn, and Twitter. And my Twitter handle is @jenlovingsales. And they can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jeremy Cline 37:45
I'll link to all of that in the show notes. Jen, I thoroughly enjoyed talking to you. Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast.
Jennifer Fisher 37:51
Thank you very much for having me. It was a wonderful experience. Thank you.
Jeremy Cline 37:54
By far and away, the biggest takeaway for me from this interview was how Jennifer had identified that she needed to ask for help, and she did that – she asked for help from lots of different people. She arranged these meetings with colleagues where they would get together to discuss the problems they were having, how they were approaching different challenges, what they could do better. She also sought out people who were a little bit ahead of her, who had become more successful, to get advice from them – people who could act as her mentor. And then finally, she'd gone the route of engaging a professional executive career coach to help her make that big push to greater seniority, on to greater things. She made this very valuable point that it can be seen as a sign of weakness to ask for help, that people just feel like they have to figure it out for themselves. But that really isn't the case. As Jennifer shows, people are often very willing to give advice, to help out. It's sometimes in their interests to do so, in other cases it's not, but they just get satisfaction from helping people who are a little bit further behind them to achieve whatever it is that they're looking to achieve, and to improve whatever they want to improve. It can be very difficult just speaking to people, especially in the past 12 months that we've had, where people aren't in the office. And so, it's even harder to go and speak to someone and ask them for advice. But it really can be incredibly rewarding and it doesn't have to be a colleague, it can be friends, it can be family, it can be a separate coach. Just having someone as a sounding board who you can bounce ideas off is completely invaluable.
Jeremy Cline 39:31
You'll find a full transcript of the interview, a summary of what we talked about and links to all the resources which Jennifer mentioned on the website at changeworklife.com/73. And whilst you're there, if you visit the contact page – that's at changeworklife.com/contact – I'd love to know what you thought of Take Action January. Were the topics that we discussed then helpful, have they inspired you to take action? What's that action look like? What do you need help with? What fears or concerns do you have? I'm always interested to get feedback from you, the listeners – that's who this podcast is for. So, please let me know what's working, what's not working, how can I help you? That's what I'm here for, that's what I'm setting myself up to do. If there's something specific that I can help out with, either on the podcast or by providing some kind of service, just let me know. Go to changeworklife.com/contact, and I would love to hear from you. We've got another amazing story coming up next week, so hit subscribe. Join me next week, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.
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