Working as a sales leader for one of the leading solutions companies for health care professionals, particularly in the dental sector, was a dream come true. I vividly remember the day I received a call from a friend asking me if I would be interested in speaking with Tim Jones about a potential position with this solutions company. Of course, I answered with excitement, a resounding, “Yes!”
I spent the next few weeks learning about the company, having many conversations with members of the sales and leadership teams. I quickly realized a common theme: the company is focused on their customers, but the biggest assets are their team members. I recall thinking that I wanted to be part of this team. I loved the culture and everything it had to offer.
I eagerly awaited my interview. The interview lasted much longer than a “normal” interview. We discussed many aspects of the business, mainly that the business is built on strong relationships and the importance of building lasting relationships. At the end of the interview, while he recognized that my education, background and work experience were a great fit for his team, he emphasized that most important was my ability to connect with others and that my eagerness to mentor and help others to reach their highest potential would be my biggest assets. I remember the gratitude I felt for Tim and the leadership team for allowing me the opportunity to be part of the team.
Like so many people, the excitement of my newly accepted position quickly turned to feelings of self- doubt playing over and over in my mind. Would I be able to balance my professional and personal lives, feeling my three daughters still needed my time and attention? I felt very comfortable with my ability to develop, mentor and grow a sales team but not so sure about how I would balance it all… especially how it would impact my daughters and the presumption of my “not being there.” I needed honest, solid and non-judgmental advice, so I asked the source: my daughters. Of course, they were fully supportive and agreed to work together to help when I was away at the occasional trade show, sales meeting or customer visit. I decided instead of keeping my position as a sales leader separate from my personal life, I would incorporate some of my successes and challenges into our nightly discussion. What would you do in this situation? Jessica, Lindsey and Catherine always enjoyed bantering back and forth about their perspective on the nightly subject. Hearing their perspectives, which always tied into their own experiences and interactions, encouraged them to speak their minds, while also providing them an opportunity to hear from one another and respect varying viewpoints. These interactions were some of the best everyday moments with them growing up, and I believe they helped shaped the intelligent, strong women they have become.
It was flattering when my daughter Lindsey began taking an active interest in joining the same line of work as me. Lindsey grew up in dentistry and worked at her father’s practice at a young age and after earning her college degree. Her keen insight and passion for helping others has been apparent since those spirited days long ago at the dinner table. I view Lindsey’s choice as a culmination of her experiences, fueled by an inherent desire to help others; and in this role I am proud of the difference she has already made with the doctors who have already engaged her and look forward to watching her career trajectory as well.
Defining meaning in what we do is to love the work we are doing, and I truly enjoy the work I do. We can all relate to the joyous highs of winning and crushing moments of defeat. Many of us know the feeling of self-doubt when facing a challenge that seems insurmountable. The one constant in a career is an inevitable struggle, and if we’re lucky we can foresee downturn and adjust accordingly. However, many tests are not perceived in advance, and in those moments is where we find meaning along with strength. The work I do every day is meaningful because I have the support of a great team who believes in the benefits of a cohesive, collaborative environment. Years of experience and wisdom become a welcome gift to share with reps in the field who need uplifting reinforcement to strengthen their resolve. Working with our customers is a professional and personal balance. We provide them a great service and in turn they rely on us like a trusted friend, and some of these relationships turn into lifelong friendships. I don’t believe we find meaning; we discover it every day by being actively engaged and working towards the highest good. Meaningfulness in what we do is always there. We just need to see it.
I think the best way to realize or measure your strengths in life is to watch the evolution of the people you’ve positively impacted. I’ve been blessed to maintain relationships and mentor people from each phase of my career and witness them become proficient in a way that represents their own definition of success. My connection to people has never been about guiding them to mirror my accomplishments but to help them realize their own unique abilities and gifts. One often places high regard on anyone who reaches the pinnacle of their career, but often overlooks the talented leaders working in each stage along the way to the top. There is no singular formula for success, and our aspirations are subjective. I’ve always been mindful to relate to people by understanding them, listening to them and offering personalized support so we can each achieve our individual successes. It is a great compliment to converse with someone who admires the history of my career and wants to know exactly how it evolved. And while I’m always open to discuss the winding path to where I am now, I’m ever mindful to encourage people to understand the gift of self-awareness because that is the key to unlock their potential and ultimate success, however they choose to define it.
I feel grateful to have grown within the dental industry and honored to have been part of the success for those I’ve supported over the years. With a culture that encourages diversity, community engagement and dedication to meeting the needs of our customers, I am also proud that blending my personal and professional lives has made a positive difference in my family and in the lives of my customers.