It was the end of March 2019, and it was my first day starting my new career. I woke up that morning feeling excited, scared, nervous, and hopeful. For the previous ten years, I was a top performer in a completely different industry. I had worked my way up from sales, to sales leadership, to the Director of Sales and member of the five-person Executive Team – leading all things sales for my company. All of that was gone. I said good-bye to that career, as I needed to be “professionally born-again.”
On this particular morning, I found myself driving to meet my new leader, Tim Schumm, and my fellow partner (and past leader) Dan Bovee to start my new life at Lucas James Talent Partners. The company was almost eight months old; Tim had grown it quickly in that time frame, but he had hit his ceiling on how much he could manage in a given day. For him to continue growing and to scale, he needed help. That’s where Dan and I come in.
I had never entered into a situation where systems and processes didn’t already exist. I had improved and developed sales processes and strategies throughout my career, but there had always been some form of an existing process that needed to be improved or changed, but not created. I remember thinking, “this is going to be fun!” I don’t remember thinking, “this is going to be one of the most challenging, professional situations I’ll ever be in.” As Tim will attest to, starting a business is very challenging. Creating processes that are formed from successful best practices, growing a unique business model in an industry you have not been in for ten years, is a tall task, to say the least.
We grew! I had some successes early on, but lots of failures as well. I learned, adapted, tried new things, created good habits, created bad habits, and made a lot of mistakes. We were making it happen, but not at the rate in which we wanted and not efficiently. I took a lot of ownership in that as it’s my job to grow our business; that is my purpose. That is why I left my old career behind to partner with Tim. This is on me and no one else, and a lot of people, including my family and co-workers, are depending on my success.
A year went by, and I was on track some of the time. But by my own personal standards, I was failing. The most frustrating part of this whole thing is I didn’t really know where I was failing. I was doing what I had always done, and yet the results weren’t there. I would work very hard, try to be productive, try to drive sales activities so I/we/our business would benefit. But still, it was a one-step forward and two-steps back situation.
Then, a global pandemic hit. Like most companies, we were negatively affected. I’ll leave the details out, but we were hit just like our client partners were – hiring freezes, layoffs, furloughs, etc. for the foreseeable future. It was dark, scary, uncertain, and nerve-racking. We were scared. Not a great time to be 18 months into a growing business that helps companies recruit talent. Or at least, so we thought initially.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “when one door shuts, another will open.” Or how about, “with adversity comes opportunity.” My personal favorite, “everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the mouth” – I think Mike Tyson said that. In this case, we had just been punched in the mouth. So now, what are we going to do?
It is through this adversity that I had to re-invent myself. I had to change who I was as a person, as a father, as a husband, as a son, and as a business leader. No one is going to feel sorry for us, so we can’t either. What can we do, and how can we change? And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve been selfish. I’ve been a selfish sales professional for my entire career. I’m about to share something embarrassing and somewhat shameful, but it took a global pandemic to force me to realize that my entire approach to growing our business was flawed.
The realization I had was that the only real way we will grow our business is to help others grow theirs. The only real way we can achieve success is to help others achieve theirs. The only way we can create and develop long-lasting relationships is to help others develop long-lasting relationships.
Prior to this realization, most of my activities were done inherently to benefit myself and our company. This was not done consciously or out of strategy. It’s just how I had always done things. I came to the realization that when I wake up and go to work, I needed to focus my efforts on helping others and not myself. If I do that, everything else will fall into place because I will make a meaningful, positive impact on another person. And by doing that, I will be creating a lasting relationship formed through trust and selflessness.
So, I started to ask people, “how can I be valuable to you?” “Is there something I can help you with, outside of what my company does?” and the big one, “who would be someone that would be a meaningful connection for you to make – professionally or personally?” After asking these simple questions, wouldn’t you know it, people liked that! People appreciated these questions and conversations, and I genuinely cared too. I found myself being devoted to other people and providing them value by opening doors to other great people. I was making a difference for other people, and it felt good.
One unanticipated benefit I’ve encountered by doing business this way is that I feel fulfilled. I feel elated when I get a note from two people I’ve connected saying that they are working together now, or they are meeting to discuss other opportunities, or they are connecting each other with meaningful connections. They thank me! It’s such a wonderful feeling when you know that you’ve made a positive impact on someone else, and you didn’t have to.
And by doing that, I feel a closeness to that person that wasn’t there before.
I’ll never go back. I’ll never return to the old way of doing things. I will forever do my best to be valuable to others and serve their interests above my own. By doing so, positive things will return our way. People have repaid the favor. I’ve formed many new relationships with wonderful people, and my reach has grown. But the sense of fulfillment I get when I make a difference is priceless. I will continue to selfishly serve others, and I highly encourage anyone reading this to do the same.
Ask yourself one question, “Who in my network can I positively impact today?”. Then make it happen for them. You’ll love what happens.
Brandon Murphy is Director of Business Development at Lucas James Talent Partners