🎙️ Transcript: Outbound Squad Podcast with Jason Bay

🎙️ Transcript: Outbound Squad Podcast with Jason Bay

Outbound Squad
How to be a World-Class Leader
Jason Bay, Ralph Barsi
January 10, 2023

Jason Bay (00:00):
If you were working with a sales manager, let's say, how would you coach them on how to help a rep find their mission and purpose? What does that look like, sound like, all that kind of stuff?

Ralph Barsi
Yeah, it's a great question. I would focus on a four question self-assessment exercise. And I learned this exercise from John Donahoe, who is currently the CEO at Nike. He was the CEO at ServiceNow during my tenure there, and he taught the leadership team this exercise, which I've used with my teams since, and with myself, and it's been super helpful and super healthy.

The first question is "What are your goals?" Short-term, long-term. And you get to define that timeframe, what you think short-term is versus long-term, but "What are your goals?"

Number two, "Who do you want to emulate and why?" Who are one to two people that you want to be like and why? What is it about them that's so appealing? Write those names down and dig into why you want to emulate them.

Third question is "What skills do you know you must improve?" Really, this is one where you really got to look in the mirror, be honest with yourself, where you kind of know where your areas of improvement are or areas of weakness, however you want to label them, what do you need to improve?

And then the last question is, "How can all of us help you?" How can your boss help you, your mentor, your colleagues, your peers? How can you help yourself?

And I think it's really important that people do an assessment like that at least once a year...actually, probably no more than twice a year. Don't do this assessment once a month.

I mean, maybe you could, but I would think if you're doing it frequently, you're not getting the benefit of time to really, really master the craft in these areas or master the uncovering of what that purpose is. So anyway, try that one out. That exercise has been, it's really proven itself already, and I think it would help anybody listening to this who hasn't done something like that.

Jason Bay (02:35):
I'm glad that we're getting to connect and I can't remember how we connected originally. I think that, I don't know, how did we connect originally? Did you reach out to me on LinkedIn or did I reach out to you? I can't even remember now.

Ralph Barsi (02:46):
Look, you've been putting out so much stuff on social media, so much good stuff, that it caught my attention and you've got a bald head that appeals to me. I like hanging out with bald people and I reached out to you.

I had a problem that needed some solving. I figured you'd, you'd be an awesome resource to help my team, and you got right back to me when I reached out to you, and probably within two weeks from there, you were addressing the team and giving them a great action plan to think about and work with. And that's how it all started, man.

Jason Bay (03:27):
Then, if I remember correctly, we spent our first, it was supposed to be a quote-unquote "sales call," but we spent 25 out of 30 minutes talking about Van Halen.

Ralph Barsi (03:36):
True story. Like me, you are an old school Van Halen fan. So, for those unfamiliar, that means the first six records that Van Halen released that's considered old school or the David Lee Roth era. And yeah, Jay and I can geek out pretty heavy on that band.

Jason Bay (03:57):
Yeah, so we won't bore you listening with it, but we'll have to definitely catch up again on that at another time. I want to start with one of the things that, it's interesting because a lot of times when I interview sales leaders, I don't get to see how they interact with their team, and I've gotten to see how you interact with your team and all that other kind of stuff, and there's so much in terms of the support - both that you provide your team, whether it's when they're on a call or just a lot of the enablement that I noticed that your team gets - that a lot of teams I work with don't get.

We're going to talk about that a little bit today, but if we kind of backtrack from there, you have a lot of different approaches and philosophies around the mindset piece and the motivation piece, and you talk about this in a way that's very tangible and tactical, and I'm just interested in hearing, with your teams and all the leadership experience that you have, how do you think about mindset and motivation? How do you think about that kind of stuff?

Ralph Barsi (05:08):
Well, first of all, thank you for that. I work very hard to keep mindset at the forefront of the work we do, and the work I do with my teams. And how I think about it is, I want all the individual contributors in my organization to believe and see themselves as leaders themselves; and, in that fashion, they need to own their business within the business.

So, if they're a sales development rep and their charter is to qualify inbound leads in the northeast part of the United States, then they need to own that business within our business and be mindful of the profits and losses, if you will, that the business would be experiencing if they're not doing their job properly and at first class levels. So, that's the first thing, is accountability and ownership of your business within the business that I bring into my mindset approach.

The second is to have an attitude of gratitude. I work in the SaaS industry. Everybody's given a laptop, everybody can work from home, most of the time. People, if they're in the office, they've got free snacks, et cetera, et cetera, and a lot of times the gratitude goes out the window at how good they've really got it, and so I try to remind them of that so that they can keep perspective, that they get an opportunity every minute of the day to serve others and to be contributors of value.

The third thing, and last thing that I really think about when it comes to a mindset approach, is it's now slipping my mind of course. Maybe we'll get back to it to the best of us, it happens to the best of us, but I know it'll come back to me. It's not something I have written in front of me, but it's another concept that, oh, I got it just thinking out loud.

It has to, whatever their charter is, whatever their work and responsibility is, it's got to be tied to some purpose and some mission. That's not that of the companies per se or the teams per se, but their own individual, personal mission and purpose. If it's not aligned with what your purpose is, your why is, then it's just an uphill climb. So, I focus on those three components when it comes to the whole mindset, mindset approach.

Jason Bay (07:52):
How intentional are these things with, when I hear those things, I think of these are just great life lessons. You know what I mean? Is that intentional? That, hey, these things that I'm teaching are not just to help you become a better sales professional. These are just life principles to live by. Is that intentional on your part?

Ralph Barsi (08:13):
100% because this is life after all. You know what I mean? Especially in the SDR world, it's a very transient role. It's a very temporary role. I think the average tenure these days is, I don't know, anywhere from 12 to 18 to maybe 24 months.

If you look at the life chart of a 90-year-old, that's a blip on the radar, so you might as well make the best of it. You might as well learn something and you might as well learn how to lead the effort and lead by example while you're there. So yeah, it completely relates to life.

Jason Bay (08:54):
Yeah, I ask that because one of the things that we've talked about, and we'll probably get into it today, is just content, and how to train content, and how much or how little to use. And one thing that I'm trying to push myself to do more of that I've gotten away from is making sure that I tie everything I teach around prospecting or discovery skills back to a tangible life skill.

People really love that, when they understand how this skill or this thing is going to just lift them up as a person versus just making them better at this job, that, if we're being honest in SDRs, I mean, how many SDRs in your experience, if you just had to guesstimate, are unsure if they even want to be in sales as a career?

Ralph Barsi (09:38):
A majority of them, a lot of 'em, as you know, they're for the most part pretty early in their careers as well as in life. They're trying to figure out a lot of things at once. We throw 'em in the deep end with all this stuff as it relates to SDR work, and especially with respect to prospecting, to your point, I mean, we could go for days on the characteristics and traits of prospecting work and how it relates to transferring to life skills and competencies that they'll use forever.

We could go for days on that opening a conversation, asking questions, following up, following through attitude of gratitude, which we talked about time management, productivity, efficiency, interlock with key stakeholders across the organization. You've got to do that if you're trying to run your own business too.

Jason Bay (10:41):
Yeah, no, totally. I want to dig into that third one, and mission and purpose is really interesting because I think sales, it can be a pretty repetitive job for most people, unless you're doing enterprise and strat stuff or large mid-market kind of deals.

It could be a fairly repetitive job. I happen to like that. I like repeatability and just treating it like a craft and that kind of stuff. But if you were working with a sales manager, let's say, how would you coach them on how to help a rep find their mission and purpose? What does that look like, sound like, all that kind of stuff?

Ralph Barsi
Yeah, it's a great question. I would focus on a four question self-assessment exercise. And I learned this exercise from John Donahoe, who is currently the CEO at Nike. He was the CEO at ServiceNow during my tenure there, and he taught the leadership team this exercise, which I've used with my teams since, and with myself, and it's been super helpful and super healthy.

The first question is "What are your goals?" Short-term, long-term. And you get to define that timeframe, what you think short-term is versus long-term, but "What are your goals?"

Number two, "Who do you want to emulate and why?" Who are one to two people that you want to be like and why? What is it about them that's so appealing? Write those names down and dig into why you want to emulate them.

Third question is "What skills do you know you must improve?" Really, this is one where you really got to look in the mirror, be honest with yourself, where you kind of know where your areas of improvement are or areas of weakness, however you want to label them, what do you need to improve?

And then the last question is, "How can all of us help you?" How can your boss help you, your mentor, your colleagues, your peers? How can you help yourself?

And I think it's really important that people do an assessment like that at least once a year...actually, probably no more than twice a year. Don't do this assessment once a month.

I mean, maybe you could, but I would think if you're doing it frequently, you're not getting the benefit of time to really, really master the craft in these areas or master the uncovering of what that purpose is. So anyway, try that one out. That exercise has been, it's really proven itself already, and I think it would help anybody listening to this who hasn't done something like that.

Jason Bay (13:44):
I love that. I love that this is also something that I'm working on too, is just getting better at asking good questions. When you get a bad answer from someone, it's usually the result of a bad question in many cases.

And these questions are very, very good. They're very tangible. They get you to really kind of sit and think. How then would a sales manager, what would they do with this once they've gotten this information, what would they do with it after that in their interactions with that particular rep?

Ralph Barsi (14:15):
Well, what has worked for me that might work for those managers would be to put those questions in, say, a Google Form, so that you can aggregate your team's answers into a single spreadsheet or worksheet.

Obviously, read through the responses, have a deadline as to when you'd like these done, and then conduct 60-minute one-on-ones anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes to only talk about off the record their responses to these four questions so that you get to know that person a little bit beyond what you're asking them to do at work.

You as a leader will have a better understanding of really what pulls those individual contributors towards the goals so that you don't have to push them towards the goal. Oftentimes people will put their parents are the people they want to emulate, their father or their mother, and here's why.

And I've gone through a lot of different assessment discussions with SDRs, for example, where they're in tears by the end of the conversation because they're talking about their mother who they've looked up to forever or their father who has worked so hard to put all the siblings through school, et cetera.

And it helps both of us walk away with a level of trust that we didn't have before that. That way, when we do talk about the goals and the mission that the team has, when you're talking to those individuals about the team goals, you can remind them of, "remember Jay, when you and I talked about how much you're trying to emulate your dad and what a model he's been for you in life? Think about how he would handle learning about these team goals and the sense of urgency that we have as a company and how he would approach this."

And when you're talking now in their language based on insights that they have been vulnerable enough to share with you, you're a next level leader. So, that's what I would encourage, but I'd have to emphasize, have a private one-on-one, this is not to be shared with the team per se. If there are common answers that could be shared publicly with the team or if an individual has no problem sharing this with the team, then respect them either way. But I would highly recommend doing the private one-on-one. So the two of what's going to help that person move the needle in their lives and careers.

Jason Bay (17:03):
And it sounds like a big part of this, too, is, as a leader, commit this stuff to memory like you would customer stories, where you can use this and bring this up during those moments where I can always connect back to why like their individual intrinsic motivation, I could connect everything back to that.

I love that. Is there anything else that you do on a regular basis or semi-regular basis to, because motivation's your thing. When I asked you what your sales superpower was said, this is something that I think about a lot. I do a lot. This is my sales superpower, so to speak. Any other tips for motivation, stuff you do on a regular semi-regular basis with your team?

Ralph Barsi (17:45):
Yeah, thank you. Lots of tips, but one I'll leave you with right now is to do the things that don't scale. So, you might have a team of 230 extended directs. Do the due diligence to get to know that team, maybe by way of, in cohorts, as best you can. That way at the end of every month, for example, if they're shy of their number, they get an individual message from you, customized, tailored, and probably brief considering how big your team might be.

But it's one-to-one correspondence like, "Hey, Jay, rooting for you over here. Want to make sure that I remove any and all obstacles that might be in your path right now towards quota. I know it's important to you and it's important to the team, so let me know how I can be of service."

Jason Bay (18:43):
Yeah, just opening up a direct line of communication as a VP executive. Some of these teams, they get big enough to the point to where that's a huge deal for a rep. Your VP is a couple layers removed from you, and a lot of times these reps really idolize their vice president or their CRO or whoever. Having that kind of one-to-one communication is super powerful.

Ralph Barsi (19:10):
It's huge. I've been on the other side of it a few times and it just makes my day. I know somebody is paying attention, understands what I'm going through, and is willing to help. And it means a lot. But that's one tip, which is part of many that I could probably suggest.

Jason Bay (19:31):
Yeah. Okay. So we talked about mindset and motivation. We gave a good primer on that. If we shift gears a bit into the leading part of being a leader, one of the things you talked about in our initial conversation was raising the standard in the sales org.

And that's a really interesting thing to me because a word that I have started using a lot just in my own tiny little company is "unacceptable." What is unacceptable? And an example of that was we just started using HubSpot for our marketing tool, and I sent out an email that had a major typo and the hey part, "Hey Ralph," there was a major typo right in front of that. And I was like, that can't happen again. That's unacceptable. That just looks unprofessional. I look like that kind of stuff all the way down to what I expect myself to do in a sales call or a training call, how I show up. And I'm really curious, how do you think about your own standards and the standards that you hold the team to and that they hold themselves to?

Ralph Barsi (20:42):
Wow, deep one. First of all, I see myself at the bottom of the org chart versus the top, but regardless of where I am on the org chart, I own the team. I own the function within the business.

And so every action offline or online in the office or out of the office is a representation of not just myself, but of our team and of our company and of our customers. So I want to represent, at world-class levels, very high standards, and I expect that of the team and I talk about the importance of shaping a reputation that precedes us internally and externally.

So again, back to a sales development team for example, you want colleagues and peers in your company to talk among themselves about your team as if like, "wow, that's a team we just don't lose sleep over. We're just not worried about them representing us when they're responding to an inquiry that's an inbound lead or reaching out to a target account that's never heard of us in a prospecting motion."

We trust that every word earns its right into those emails that every question is open-ended, it's thoughtful. It evokes a good thoughtful response. We are mindful that when we're on LinkedIn, a lot of times when you comment on somebody's post, that ends up in your activity stream of your own LinkedIn profile.

So, if you are sending halfway-compelling emails or decent voicemails or having good initial calls with people to the point where they want to look you up on LinkedIn, they're going to scroll through your profile.

And that, too, should represent you and us with the highest standards. But also, as they scroll through, they're going to see in your activity stream what you've commented on for other people's posts or what posts you've produced.

And all of those have to also represent us and yourself with the highest standard. So, that concludes with that attention to detail and how important it is to pay attention to that detail.

And as the leader of the team, I have to constantly be aware of my disposition, my demeanor, my attitude, my tone in how I carry myself in all situations. I've got to remain calm, cool, calculated, kind, aware, sensitive, empathetic, all that. And if I'm not leading by example showing those characteristics, then I can't expect the team to do it either. So, those are just some examples of how I approach that kind of first class approach and the level of standards that you asked about.

Jason Bay (24:00):
Yeah, I love that. Just the leading by example thing. And what I love about, I mean sales, leadership, whatever, is there's very simple core concepts that it's, I kind of think about boundaries.

This is something I'm working, I've worked a lot in my personal and professional boundaries with people, and the boundary itself is not the hard part, it's the upholding of the boundary. It's when you establish a boundary with someone and then they cross it.

What do you say? How do you address it, do you address it? That kind of thing. And I think of these principles a lot like that too, where it's like these things that you're saying, they're simple on purpose, but are you doing it? Are you upholding these? And when you think about, okay, so this is kind of maybe starting to venture into this accountability territory that I think is important, how do you address with a rep or a sales manager if someone is not living up to the standards that the team has set for themselves? How do you address that? How do you think about the accountability and all of that kind of stuff around that?

Ralph Barsi (25:13):
Couple ways, it goes back to the self-assessment exercise. I'll go back and say, "Hey, where's this person? Where's this person that has these short-term and long-term goals? And where's this person that's trying to emulate these one or two people? And where's this person that told us that these were areas of improvement that she wanted to focus on and needed our help with A, B, and C? Where is she? Because that person would not have written this email or would not have responded or reacted that way in this situation."

So I'm sincerely asking and trying to understand what's up, what was that all about? And that typically will get a very candid response as to what's going on so I can get to the root of the problem and hopefully address it and move on. That's not something I ever harbor with people if I don't think that a poor reaction or response in a given situation, something that illustrates low standards, for example, defines the person.

It's one little piece of the narrative that we can address and move on so that it doesn't happen again. But if it's not addressed, that's a bigger problem. And now we're talking about accountability on the leadership part.

On the leader's part.

Jason Bay (26:44):
Yeah. Yeah, let's talk about that. Was there ever a time for you early maybe in your career where this was kind of tough, like addressing stuff with people?

Ralph Barsi (26:56):
Oh, for sure. Yeah, it's an ongoing issue. It rears its head every now and then. I think I'm a little more wise now. I've been around the block. I've been doing this for some time.

But yeah, examples would be when maybe your authority might be undermined or thwarted somehow, or people might be talking negatively about you behind your back, but then are the complete opposite when they're in the same room or with you learning about that from others.

But being reluctant to address it early has bit me in the end. If it wasn't nipped in the bud, it becomes a monster that it just wrecks every minute of your day if you want it to. So I've learned a lot about having direct reports, and extended directs, and having a pretty large team, about how people feel about you when you're at the helm.

Jason Bay (28:09):
Yeah, let's talk about that because this is such a fascinating topic because oh, it is got to be such a nightmare if people talk shit about you behind your back as a leader and you don't know that it's going on.

So, that's what I want to start about first is how do you think about just how do you get a pulse check on what people really think about you? And I'm not talking about like, oh, do they think Ralph is cool or not just do they respect you or they bought in? How do you think about getting those types of pulse checks to get as much of an accurate kind of pulse on what people really think about working for you, working for their company, working for their manager? How do you do that? How do you get visibility into that?

Ralph Barsi (29:02):
Yeah, it's a tough one, but it's got to be done in some way, shape, or form. So if you're at a large company, it's likely that that company's going to have an employee NPS survey go out, and it usually starts with the company's mission, and then it whittles down to your own direct leader, what's the feedback you would give on him or her? So that's one way to gather that feedback.

Second, is to run your own survey with your directs and maybe have it cascaded to their team to check the pulse on.

Jason Bay (29:45):
Would this be anonymous, like anonymous surveys?

Ralph Barsi (29:48):
I would recommend it's optional. So, if somebody wants to put their name down, by all means, and also it's got to be stated clearly that if you choose the anonymous route, there's no repercussions for that.

We want to hear from you and we want to hear candidly from you so that we can make our team better and we can make life better for all of us here so we can move forward collectively. And then there's also, in all situations, or in most situations, you can entrust a select few people who are champions of yours, understand what you're all about and how you roll and vice versa.

And oftentimes those people will confide in you, unsolicited most of the time that, "Hey, these three people can't stand you. Here's why. Here's the word on the street and it's a growing problem. That's why I'm escalating it or making sure."

So there's a lot of different ways you can gather the info, but if you're not doing any of that, then you're blindly leading and that's really not good. Then your credibility and rapport is depreciating by the minute.

Jason Bay (31:08):
Yeah. How do you think about encouraging feedback and creating an environment where people can sugar those types of things?

Ralph Barsi (31:19):
Again, being clear that there's no repercussions for them sharing feedback. Secondly, walk the talk. If you do an assessment that the whole team had to take glean insights and common responses and say, "Hey, look, here are the top five common responses we got. Sounds like a lot of people feel this way. And by the way, here are three outlier responses, no names shared of course, but these are pretty important to the leadership team too. Thank you for raising these during this exercise. Here's the action plan for how we're going to mitigate or minimize or eliminate these problems. This is what you can expect from us as a leadership team, but then again, this is what we're going to expect from you." So that's how that rapport gets built and that trust gets built when you can walk the talk.

Jason Bay (32:23):
Yeah. Yeah. I think another thing that I would tag on that too is when you are given feedback in a public setting that you take it well and that you welcome the feedback and thank whoever it is for giving you feedback. I think doing that in front of the group and being coachable, it's like we want our teams to be coachable.

Yet, oftentimes as leaders, we aren't thinking, how are we demonstrating that we're coachable too, that we're willing to do this as well? I love that.

What about, so when things are not going well, let's say that the team is not hitting the sales target. What are some of the things that you're thinking about during that time? Some of the things that you're thinking about that you're doing, that you're saying, whatever it might be. If things are not going well and the team's not hitting target, what are you thinking about?

Ralph Barsi (33:20):
I'm thinking about where the kinks in the chain are. So, there's a late economist, named W. Edwards Deming, who once said that "every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets." So, if we are not getting the results that we expect, and if we're not exceeding the results that we expect, the system is broken.

So, it's my job as the leader, and it's our job as the leadership team, to line check our systems and our processes and identify where the kinks in the chain are.

And, oftentimes, you have to examine at the minutiae, you have to get into "what are the conversation openers that Jason's using in his first calls? Is he following up and following through post-call? And what does that look like?" et cetera, et cetera, right down to "is every meeting that Jason is passing to Sandy, his account executive defensible? Could it stand stand on its own as a qualified meeting that has met our qualification criteria, and is Sandy clear, now that she's got the baton, what her role and responsibility is in carrying the baton forward?"

And you got to work it from the very beginning of the supply chain all the way to the end to find out, where is this system or process broken?

Jason Bay (34:54):
Yeah, yeah. What about from a, one thing that I oftentimes hear, and I have experience as a rep is that, I can tell if my manager is under a lot of pressure because shit rolls downhill as they say.

How do you think about the pressure that you were applying across the team and how you communicate when things are not going well? How do you think about that part?

Ralph Barsi (35:25):
I get very curt in my team conversations, and I keep things real, and I say things like, "Hey, thanks for being on the call today, the elephant in the room here is we have not made our number the last two quarters. Now, let's think about this as grown adults, who are here representing a business that needs revenue, because after all, revenue solves all known problems. And the only way we can get revenue, at least repeatedly is by maintaining a viable pipeline. So, we can handle this like a bunch of rookies and amateurs, and we can point fingers at everybody else, we can not include ourselves on our list of excuses, and we can hope for the best, or we can remind one another that we're not here to survive this, we're here to take charge of it. And we could start being much more proactive about our processes, much more communicative and lead from the front.

If we're sending messages to people internally and we're not hearing back, let's ask ourselves first, well, 'did we put a deadline as to when we expect to hear a response in that email or not?' It's probably why we haven't heard back, because nobody knows that we're waiting to hear back. So let's take ownership of this and accountability and let's lead by example. Or like I said, we can act like amateurs and rookies and none of us will be here much longer if we all roll with that approach. So how do you want to do it?" And that seems to be pretty effective.

Jason Bay (37:22):
Yeah, it's just encouraging everyone to take ownership over what they can control, starting with you. Yeah. Yeah, go ahead.

Ralph Barsi (37:33):
Yeah, I was just going to say, and it speaks to a comment you made about the disposition and demeanor of the leader, especially if they're hearing negative feedback or they're delivering negative news.

If I'm frantic, the team's going to be frantic. If I'm super bummed out, the team's going to be super bummed out. But if I'm drawing back my arrow of my message and delivering it precisely, clearly, and I don't seem to be too shaken, but I'm pretty serious about the situation, for the most part, the team will respond in kind.

Jason Bay (38:12):
Yeah. No, I love that. I want to segue into one last topic that kind of got brought up last minute right before we hit record. And it's kind of like meetings.

And this is predominantly where a sales leader will spend most of their time interacting with their team in that sort of manner. And I don't know about you, I've seen and been a part of way too many just boring, ineffective meetings, and I'm really curious how you think about meetings and making them productive and how we think about the content that we're going to talk about and how to run an effective meeting, all that kind of stuff. How does this come up in your weekly monthly cadence? How do you think about meetings and making them productive?

Ralph Barsi (39:02):
Oh boy. Well, first I look at my calendar every Sunday and I remove as many meetings as possible from it.

"Is this both urgent and important, and is it absolutely critical that I attend this meeting?" And if the answer's no to two out of those three questions, the meeting goes away. I won't attend, but I'll give reason as to why.

And it also depends of course on who's hosting it. If my boss has asked me to be at a meeting, I'm going to be at the meeting, but I'll also provide some constructive feedback if I do think the meeting was boring or really didn't move the needle.

So, with that, I'll always include an agenda or at least as often as possible, and that agenda will be very brief, no more than three points. If I have an agenda of nine, 10 items, what do you think the recipient of that invite is going to think when they're reading Ralph's agenda of 10 things that he wants to discuss? I mean, what a yawn fest.

"Dude. Can you just record a video and send us you talking about it? And any action items you have of me? Otherwise I don't want to do this."

Secondly, I'll do my best to not facilitate. I won't be the host of the meeting if I don't have to. I'm a big fan of creating leaders, so I'll delegate to someone on the team and I'll have them run the meeting. I'll be very clear with what the blueprint is and what the desired outcome of the meeting is, but let somebody else run the meeting. Plus it gives them a chance to polish their chops on presentation skills.

You got to learn how to present to small groups, large groups, online, offline. So if there's an opportunity for one of the reps to host our meeting and mc it, if you will, then I'll give them that opportunity.

Third, is I'll try to cut that meeting time in half. If it's a 30-minute meeting, I'll make it 16 minutes or 18 minutes or 12 minutes, and I'll say, and we'll just leave a little cushion of maybe four to five minutes if it spills over.

People have questions now. People already know that you're being respectful of their time. You're not going to take the whole 30 minutes and then spill into the next call where people are all late for their next calls.

Because, going back to high standards, if you are on time, you are late. So I don't want anybody on my team to come stumbling into their next call two, three minutes later, like, oh yeah, we just got off a team meeting with Ralph. Well, obviously Ralph isn't being mindful of my meeting, so you're late now for my meeting, and it's a total disruption, so I make sure that that is paid attention to.

And then lastly, I always turn, if I am hosting a meeting, I always turn my energy level up two to three notches. So the way you and I are talking to one another right now, Jay, it's just you and me. If you were one of 50 on a Zoom call, I'd go, "Hey! How's it going? What is going on today? How's the energy level? Let's see a thumbs up. People turn on the cameras. I just need a big smile. Let's see what's going on. Anybody miserable having a crummy day? Let's get that out now. Otherwise, we don't have a lot of time here, and we've got a lot to cover, and we're going to be very succinct with today's meeting so that we can leave room for people who want to unmute and chime in. How does that sound? Are we ready to rock and roll? Let's get to it!"

And, just naturally, people listening to that, their energy level will lift as well. So I would encourage anybody hosting a meeting, just do everything in your power and control to not make it boring. And it usually starts with your tone and your attitude and your approach to the meeting as the host. Come on.

Jason Bay (43:15):
Yeah. How do you think about the engagement part? You mentioned delegating, hosting responsibilities, that sort of stuff. What do you do during meetings to just engage? That's one of the toughest things I think in a virtual setting, is just getting people to engage and chime in and participate. How do you think about that?

Ralph Barsi (43:35):
Well, I don't like singling people out, but I will if I need to, but I'll give them a break, and what I'll do is I'll say, "Hey, Jay, hey, we haven't heard from you over there, my man. Listen, I have a question for you, but let me first tell you a quick story. So I remember a couple of weeks ago, everybody, you got to hear this, Jay and I were in the office together in Austin and he told me this," and I would obviously say something that props Jay up, that sheds a little sunlight onto Jay, and then I'll say, "so Jay, here's my question for you. What do you think? I mean, are there two things we as a team could be doing based on what we just talked about over the last 10 minutes that we're not thinking about? What are we missing?"

And I'll nudge and poke a little bit like that to get Jay to engage. And then I'll say, "look, we only have a couple more minutes. I understand if you're comfortable on mute, but I want you to also know that this is a trust tree and a safe place. And if you want to unmute and ask a question or even make a comment, we want to hear from you. Let's not hear crickets for the next two minutes," and I'll try to sprinkle in a little bit of humor to kind of just get people to move.

Jason Bay (44:47):
Yeah, I love that It's a way to provide accountability by humiliate them. We're not trying to humiliate this person in front of their peers to the point to where they never want to speak up again.

Ralph Barsi (45:01):
I would never want to do that.

Jason Bay (45:04):
Yeah, I think it's important to be mindful of that. When you think about the agenda that you mentioned and the content that you're preparing for a meeting, maybe if you could just share what are the different types of team meetings that you might have and how do you maybe think about the type of content that you're going to dig into and how much of that content or how deep that you're going to go or anything like that? How do you think about that part?

Ralph Barsi (45:32):
I think deeply about it, actually, because similar to if you're going to write a concise, brief, pointed email, that takes a long time to do.

It doesn't take a long time to read, once it's received by the recipient, but it sure does take a long time to write and craft, as you know.

Well, the same applies to meetings. So you want to get to a point where you're creating maybe a template for the type of meeting that you're hosting. So my team today does a daily team huddle that's only 15 minutes long and every day, it's actually Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, every day for 15 minutes.

Usually very start of the day. It has a different theme: "TechCrunch Tuesday" might be the name of the Tuesday meeting. And we talk only about tech news or news of our industry or news of one of our customers or prospects that we think would add value to the rest of the teams, that they can go into their prospecting day a little more armed than they were prior.

So we'll label team meetings or team standups that way on a given day. Then you have maybe an all hands call that you have at the end of every month or the end of every quarter, and that's where it's longer, it's 45 minutes, and you're mindful of talking about the results from the last month showing lagging indicators.

And then you're recognizing the great work that teammates did. So you get a chance to recognize and call out people and ask them to share a few words from their perspective on a win or a successful call.

And then it's on to the leading indicators about, "okay, well this is what our new target is. Here's some things that are already in flight to get us where we're trying to go."

And then lastly, "this is what's needed from each of you, and ultimately, from all of us, so that the next time we convene as a team, we could celebrate the successes because we actually did what we said we were going to do and then we'll wrap."

So those are two examples of that daily standup versus the team gathering. And typically they're virtually done, but you could have the same effect even in a physical setting.

Jason Bay (47:56):
And it sounds like if there's something that you're going to do that's very frequent, the content is very just very light and very actionable, what's one really simple, easy thing that we could implement?

And if the frequency is a little further apart that you can kind of dig in a little bit more on what that topic might be. As a rule of thumb, I mean you had this kind of same approach with meetings and removing them if possible.

Is that how you kind of think about agenda items as well? How do you determine what goes on the agenda? Is there any sort of rigor that you put it through or questions that you ask yourself over whether I should even be addressing this thing or not or picking this thing over that thing to talk about? Anything that you can lend in terms of insights there?

Ralph Barsi (48:41):
Yeah, 100%. I think about the words I'm selecting to use for the agenda topics. For example, instead of saying the word "agenda" at the top of a bullet point list, I'll say, "here's what we're going to discuss."

And instead of one word in a bullet point, I'll have three words, a little phrase or a sentence, because that's interesting and appealing to people.

And it's also clear a lot of leaders overestimate the importance of clarity. And oftentimes it comes down to that minutia we talked about earlier in those details, the heading of your slides, for example, what's a compelling phrase that will catch somebody's attention when you flip to the next slide?

Hold on. Hopefully you'll get to edit that out, Jason. And if not, I'm apologizing for coughing in the microphone.

Jason Bay:
You're human.

Ralph Barsi:
Yeah. Sometimes I'll put a quote on the top of an agenda slide or on the top of a slide that just gets people thinking, and of course is informative about what the slide is talking about.

It's very relevant. It's not randomly placed there, but little things like that lift the spirits of the team and gets 'em excited about what's to come in the meeting. So think about your choice of words.

Jason Bay (50:28):
Yeah, I think one of the biggest things I've taken away from this conversation in how you lead and communicate with your team is you think about this a lot.

Like someone would think about creating content, LinkedIn content, podcast content, whatever it might be. You don't just lazily put out a LinkedIn post without thinking about what the headline is and the takeaways. And I think we get really lazy with internal communication because it's easy. There's already familiarity there.

I'm the leader, people are supposed to listen to me, and I don't think about how can I make this really compelling and take the time that I would if I was writing a post or sending an email out to my list and that sort of stuff. But dude, we got to run.

This is a great conversation. I'm glad we got to spend some time on mindset leading and then capping off with meetings. Where can people go? You post a lot of great content. Where can people go to connect with you or learn more about what Trey IO is doing and all that good stuff before you take off.

Ralph Barsi (51:26):
Thanks. Thanks for a great conversation, Jason. I really appreciate being on. People can Find me at ralphbarsi.com. I encourage you to subscribe to the blog, trying to put out nuggets all the time that could be useful to you in your day-to-day work.

You can connect with me on LinkedIn - it's ralphbarsi as well. You could follow me on Twitter "@rbarsi".

Those are the three main channels to reach me, and you can always send me an email too, ralph@ralphbarsi.com and I will respond.