1. Gayle, as a former Sales Executive, how do you think about the combination of data and perception, emotion, and human frailty in the process of sales.  In other words, is it truly a “numbers” game or is it really both numbers and people?

Being in sales is a roller coaster of emotion.  There are highs and there are lows.  The wins provide the utmost highs and feel like shots of adrenaline rushing through your body as you can feel the quota gap to close on the numbers you own in your book of business.  As invigorating as the ripple effects of a win feel, it’s in the lost opportunities we learn clarity and glean insights into what to do better the next time.  A loss teaches us tenacity, grit, and hope – the feeling we can try, try again the next time avoiding the pitfalls that piled up for a loss the last go-round.  And how we act when we lose tells more about ourselves, our ethics, and empathy than how we respond to a win.

No, data is not a numbers game, especially when it comes to sales.  Data is not black and white nor one-dimensional to me.  It’s about storytelling.  Data aids in painting a picture, but to bring a portrait of data to life, there is a beautiful blend of numbers, people, and experience to tell the story.  Data is so multifaceted being both art and science – art is the people and science is the numbers.  Sales is psychological because it is about getting into the hearts and minds of your customer to earn their trust, respect, and ultimately their business.  There’s a blended balance of being knowledgeable, relatable, ethical, honest, and trustworthy while meeting your customer’s needs.  In order to positively affect the balance sheet, you want the right mix of customers with mutual inclusivity from both sides of the fence.

A couple years ago, I interviewed for a data role at a large technology company and ultimately turned it down.  Turns out, they wanted someone who ran the data in the spreadsheet and took the data results at face value.  I am not a number cruncher, nor do I get a rush out of only looking to data for the answers.  However, I do appreciate how numbers are used as supporting means to tell a story.  For me, it’s about delivering value and outcomes to enhance a customer’s business while retiring quota.  Afterall, if you have the wrong customer in your database, how can you help that customer achieve their goals and continue to grow their business with you?  That certainly doesn’t make for a long-term, trusted relationship nor is it a good model for retiring quota either. By themselves, numbers are the weakest link in the story if there aren’t insights and value to support the data.  There’s an art to storytelling which brings the grey area – the value and insights – to life which tell the story behind the data and analytics. 

2. In your new avatar as a DEI and Life Possibility Coach- how do you leverage your 20 years of work experience to bring to bear on your new clients?

I started a business centered around helping people take calculated risks in their careers to reinvent their professional lives because I know what it’s like to dream big and struggle with the HOW.  I know firsthand what it’s like being a woman in tech and how to successfully navigate a male-dominated industry, locking arms with men to succeed as we climb the ranks.  It’s not a male vs. female battleground. Instead, it’s instilling the values of decisiveness, courage, clarity, confidence, and balance into working women to empower them to successfully fail forward to achieve fulfillment and balance.  Compared to men, women struggle with confidence and taking risks.  My business model is based on empowering women while uplifting men.  Studies have shown when women are in leadership positions, there’s more balance, nurturing and empathy in the workplace – this is where the grey matter matters.  Like data, leadership is not black and white nor one-dimensional.  Companies and organizations thrive when leadership consists of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  If we see it we can become it which encourages and nurtures other qualified people to climb the ranks.

Additionally, I have developed a five-step methodology to empower women with exactly what I struggled with – HOW to take calculated risks?  My online course will be available this winter and I couldn’t be more excited to add my course to compliment my 1:1 advisory work and mastermind group coaching efforts.  Additionally, I advise select companies and universities on the power of gender inclusion.  At the end of the day, I have created a trusted circle for women in STEAM (WiSTEAM).

3. What is your approach to helping small companies grow. How do you instruct them with regard to their use of and investment in data?

Growth starts with networking and develops from there so long as the seeds are nurtured and cultivated.  No doubt having a turnkey, digitally automated system is key.  However, that is an investment.  If you’re a start-up, I recommend starting small.  Not in Excel but rather in a Customer Engagement tool to track information from customer information to company information, etc. that is right for your business and budget.  As a company grows, so should their Customer Engagement tool sophistication to support their goals of having a 360 degree view of their customer and their business.  Data analytics is an important aspect of business and housing that data in one location is as important.  Having a single repository of information saves an organization from feeling the pain of wasted time, siloed views, and lessens the opportunity for error in data comprehension across various business units if all departments can look at their data through the same pane of glass.

4. At Data Hunters, we believe a lot in the power of community.  Can you tell us your philosophy on community?

It takes a village.  Building a community of like-minded (and different-minded) individuals to surround you in your profession is a secret-sauce. Not everyone is your friend, nor will you get along with every colleague, subordinate, or executive you come across.  However, the golden rule still applies: treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Therefore, it is crucial to build a community of individuals you trust – a group you feel safe to be yourself, to be vulnerable, to share both your fears and celebrations – an environment that uplifts while challenges you to be your best self.  Be coachable and open to feedback.  The positive outcomes outweigh the fear of receiving constructive criticism.

In today’s digital world, creating global communities is at our fingertips.  Communities come in all shapes and sizes – from group masterminds to councils, boards, brain trusts, etc.  Sounding boards are a critical piece to the power of community – people coming together for a common cause with the goal of solving issues with outcomes.  Community is about individuals feeling enabled and empowered.  Additionally, a community can be used as a tool to boost one’s confidence in taking calculated risks in their career.  For example, I’ve built a community for WiSTEAM around my podcast series, Theodora Speaks.  I’ve created a place, a trusted circle, a tribe where courageous women have successfully failed forward in their careers and share their stories of triumph and challenges. 

5. What trends do you see as defining business in 2022 and beyond?

The biggest trend defining the way we do business is The Great Resignation.  As a culture, we have craved the ability to navigate the intersection between work/life integration with a pinch of flexibility and a handful of autonomy.  The purpose of my mission is to help organizations mitigate employee turnover.  With The Great Resignation underway, I don’t see the movement as a negative but more of a positive.  It’s an opportunity for companies to do a better job reaching gender parity, shine a spotlight on mental health and wellness while being more empathetic towards their employees.  It’s an opportunity for employees to have more flexibility and autonomy with their role given the hybrid work model and the ability to work from anywhere.  It also provides an opportunity for employees to seek career reinvention to find work/life integration and do something that makes their heartstrings sing.  Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic to place a spotlight on work/life integration and how to take one step in the right direction towards the ability to work on your own terms.

Bio:  As a professional speaker, advisor, coach, podcast host, author and former award-winning executive leader who has a deep passion for improving communications and relationships, Gayle Keller, Chief Reinvention Officer, leads, facilitates, inspires, and revitalizes gender inclusivity as well as working women/parents programs for select corporations and universities.