Transcript from REVstars interview with Alexandra Adamson
Speaker: Alexandra Adamson, Executive Director at Women In Sales Everywhere
Interviewer: Sydney Sloan, CMO at Salesloft
[Intro, musical overlay]
Sydney Sloan: Hi, hi, hi.
Alexandra Adamson: Hi, how are you?
Sydney Sloan: How are you?
Alexandra Adamson: I’m good, I’m great.
Sydney Sloan: So glad you’re here.
Alexandra Adams: Thank you for having me.
Sydney Sloan: Likewise, such a joy.
Alexandra Adamson: I’m Alexandra Adamson, I’m the executive director for WISE and WISE is a global community focused on advancing women in sales and building the next generation of female sales leader.
Sydney Sloan: Women in Sales Everywhere. WISE.
Alexandra Adamson: Yes.
Sydney Sloan: Awesome name. Women in Sales Everywhere.
Alexandra Adamson: If you asked my mom what I do, she would probably tell you I stand on a soapbox on a corner in New York and talk about why women should go into sales.
Sydney Sloan: Okay.
Alexandra Adamson: It’s a little bigger than that. We put on events around the world, focused on teaching women how to become better sellers with the goal of eventually creating this next generation of female CROs, CEOs and CCOs.
Sydney Sloan: So it’s been a year and a bit. How long has it been now?
Alexandra Adamson: So officially, October hit two years of this being something. I officially started doing this full time in April. So we’re almost at a year and the community has grown quite a bit.
Sydney Sloan: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Alexandra Adamson: Not everyone values the same things. And we think about this in a few different ways, we obviously work with large companies to help them be a resource for the women on their sales teams. We also work with one-on-one individuals. And I think this term “community” is really vague, right? And so you think about how to serve a community. And what we realized is it’s not only, one size fits all. And communities and different cities and different countries. Now we’re in London, we’re in Toronto, we’re launching Dublin next year. Everybody values and cares about different things. And so that flexibility and the learning how to be really nimble and learning that community feedback and listening to what individuals are telling us after every event and every interaction is really what makes this sticky and keeps people coming back.
Sydney Sloan: You had a strong female leader growing up, your mom, right?
Alexandra Adamson: Yes.
Sydney Sloan: And it’s a conversation that I have lots with other working moms and advise a lot of young women; like, can I have it all, right? And I think you can, but you have to have those trade-offs. But your mom was a working mom, a traveling mom and a single mom.
Alexandra Adamson: Yep.
Sydney Sloan: So what inspiration … When you reflect now, kind of on how you’re spending your time and like what did you learn from her that is reflected in how you think about your work today?
Alexandra Adamson: There are so many things and I pull so much inspiration from my mom.
Sydney Sloan: I’m trying not to cry! Just thinking, if my daughter was here — [laughs]
Alexandra Adamson: Okay, so, I’m an only child. My mom actually had me at 41. So she had me much later on and my dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack when I was seven and it was totally out of the blue. And she actually walked into the bathroom after he passed and looked at me and said, “Daddy’s gone. And now I have to learn how to cook.” And it was such a perfect moment of her because that’s how she thought about it. It was like, this horrible thing has happened and now we move on and we figure out what’s next. It set a really good example that work should be something you enjoy and work is something you should love and you shouldn’t have to choose. And she was on the road a lot and I was very fortunate to have a very supportive family and grew up in a small community. And so I think the sense of community is another thing that I’ve really tried to take through my career. And it takes a village, everything takes a village.
Sydney Sloan: Did somebody give you a great piece of advice that you’ve passed on to others?
Alexandra Adamson: I think I was able to utilize actually a recruiting mindset, which is you figure out what motivates people, right? Everybody’s motivated by something different. Everyone’s always going to be driven by something different. So you find out what that incentive is and you pour everything you have into it and you make sure that you motivate your people through what motivates them and you understand that not everyone’s built the same.
Sydney Sloan: I think a lot of people shy away from giving coaching or critical feedback. Are there strategies that you’ve learned over time to help in preparing for that or how you might like run that particular conversation?
Alexandra Adamson: I think sports taught me a lot about feedback. I grew up an athlete, I played water polo in college all four years and so I had been trained I think over the years on how to give feedback and I really do believe in praising in public and punishing and private. There is a time and place I think too, especially in sports where someone gets called out in front of the group and that’s important and that needs to be done. But I think in the workplace, making a big deal about someone, especially someone who’s maybe new and up and coming and still kind of getting their feet wet. When they do something right, dote on them and make it a scene because that gives them the courage, right? That makes them brave and not afraid to fail.
Sydney Sloan: What would you say is the biggest obstacle you’re kind of trying to overcome at the moment?
Alexandra Adamson: We’re going through this really special moment of high growth. Right? So we have a plan to launch 10 new cities next year, both in the U.S. and internationally. We are figuring out how we stay really authentic to the community while being able to grow. How do we add new features, add products while still making sure that we do them well because it’s easy to roll something out without putting a lot of thought into it and that actually hurts everything we’ve built.
Sydney Sloan: If there was a person watching right now that wanted to get involved, a leader an up and coming leader, what advice would you give them?
Alexandra Adamson: Find others around you that you can pull up at your company. Go to networking events, meet with others. See what value you can bring to them. What are they struggling with? What do they feel like they’re doing really well? What do they feel like has been difficult for them? Is there some sort of match there or better yet, do you know someone else who can fill those gaps? Connect them. If you can help one person every day who can’t help you, it’s been a pretty successful day.
Sydney Sloan: Yeah, we’re huge fans of WISE. Thank you for doing what you do. Looking forward to continuing to grow with you and just make a meaningful contribution to the world of sales. So thanks.
Alexandra Adamson: Thank you.