Meet Brandon Fluharty, Founder of Be Focused. Live Great. The concept of a personal operating system. Transformations over transactions. Thinking bigger with prospects. Staying committed to long-term thinking. Overcoming imposter syndrome. Level up your environment. Leveling up tools. Thinking like a designer. Discipline, flexibility, curiosity.
22 insights. 7 rapid-fire questions. Show transcript.
Here’s what Mehann Misiak said about Brandon:
What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?
Content, community, and connections. I’ve been doing it with my business. I learned it really effectively at my old company, LivePerson.
1) Content. Putting out good, authentic content draws people in.
2) Community. Building, not an audience, but a community, where prospects can commingle with actual customers. I think having folks talk to those who are maybe 12-18 months down that path is a really powerful thing for those who are maybe on the fence of buying a digital solution, buying a transformation.
3) Connections. So, having those connections that are a level deeper, a bit more meaningful. And, I always liked to turn every meeting that I had with a prospect into more of a collaborative design session. Just a great way to get folks to open up, lead with curiosity, get those insights, and then use those insights in a really actionable way. You can actually cut down a lot of meetings in the sales process by turning your meetings into more of a meaningful connection and using design principles.
What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?
1) Overcoming imposter syndrome. So, as someone who's highly introverted, being in what is mostly perceived as an extroverted world, in sales, overcoming imposter syndrome was really important for me. Especially as I was leveling up, I needed to learn through working with a specific coach who specializes on imposter syndrome. And, what we realized is imposter syndrome is a healthy sign for high achievers, especially as you're elevating inside your career. So, that helped me to sort of repurpose my introversion, and being really quiet, into a sales superpower by being more empathetic, being a really good listener, being an over-thinker that helps me to look deeply into a company that I was pursuing as a prospect, and to be able to pull in insights that might be meaningful, and helpful to, to that prospect and lending that opportunity. So overcoming imposter syndrome was a big one for me.
2) Transformations over transactions. Less transactions, and thinking more about transformations. So thinking bigger with my prospects. And, by getting outside of the box of selling a one-off transaction, which is common in, particularly, the industry I came from SaaS, software as a service, the usual model is land then expand. I wanted to rethink that model and think, “How could I think, actually, more expansive, from the beginning, and open up the aperture of where we started? And then, make a more meaningful impact using our services, and using our solution, pulling in more people who could help a really large brand, like a Delta Airlines, a Chipotle, and United Healthcare to really go after big moonshot ideas, and challenges, that they were trying to solve for?” So second one: transformations over transactions.
3) Saying no more. A big one that really changed really the direction of my career in my life was saying no more. So this concept of slowing down in order to speed up, I had the temptation to want to hold on to every account, wanting to say yes to every opportunity. And unfortunately, what that was doing was just spreading me too thin and leading to a path to burn burnout. But when I worked with a manager and a coach who really helped give me some good sound advice and outside perspective of, “Hey, your best suited when you can go deeper with an account versus trying to work too many accounts at once. Why don't you slow down in order to speed up your progress?” And that was really profound and game-changing for me.
What are 3 roadblocks that you are working on now?
1) Staying committed to long-term thinking. So, I've made the transition from intrepreneur as a individual contributor, a high impact strategic SaaS seller working for other large companies, public companies, to now being a solopreneur and saying no. As I'm trying to grow a business and stay focused on long-term initiatives and goals, that's been a real challenge. The best thing that's been helping me is the commitment to pillars and a theme that I said when I started my business, when I launched my business just a month ago, staying grounded to those operating principles versus saying yes to lucrative consulting opportunities, or coaching engagements, that are coming at me often. Great first world problem to have certainly, I'm very fortunate and grateful for that, but, I know that could lead down a path of tempting me to steer away, veer away, from my long-term vision and north star for the organization. So, playing the long game is definitely a challenge, and a roadblock, I'm trying to overcome.
2) Comparison syndrome. Sort of over imposter syndrome that creeps in from time to time, but a challenge that I'm currently facing a lot, that encounter is comparison syndrome. So comparing my business, or myself, to others that I might see being hyper successful in social media or other businesses that I aspire to be like and comparing myself where I am now. I think it's been a challenge and one thing I'm always trying to keep in the back of my mind is, you know, everybody's on their own path and I can't look at someone or a business that might be 18, 24, 10 years further down that road than I am and expect the same results or impacts, it’s just unfair and unrealistic. It's hard. It's hard in today's modern world when we're constantly bombarded with notifications and the dopamine hits of novelty of social media, to constantly see how well other people are doing and wanting to compare yourself. That's the second one.
3) Personal operating system. I'm really bullish on this concept of a personal operating system. So, refining my personal operating system in the sense of turning it into a thrive system. That's what I'm endeavoring on. And that takes looking at things like, how well rested I am, how I'm sleeping, how healthy I am, how that's integrated between my work and my life, so that I can be at my best when I'm trying to work. I can stay undistracted when I'm trying to do highly strategic work, and I can focus and get in flow states. So, fine tuning, tweaking, and evolving that personal operating system so it's a consistent thrive system. That’s something I'm really excited about working on.
What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?
1) TEA. Time, energy, attention. This is going back to my personal operating system, or what would be my thrive system. The first one is TEA. Managing my TEA. TEA stands for time, energy, and attention. We all hear a lot about time management. It's important how you manage your time, because it is the one finite resource that we all have as individuals. So, being able to manage your time effectively is very important, but I think, equally, if not more important, is E, energy. Because you could have all the time in the world, but if you're sick, you contract COVID, what good is it? If you have that time right now, because your calendar's been cleared, sorry, can't take this meeting. But you can't fill that with high energy to actually accomplish something. That's why preventing burnout, monitoring sleep, prioritizing our health. Not falling into the trap of work-life balance, which really doesn't exist in modern society, for knowledge workers, focusing more on work-life integration. When you work is just as important as what you do. So, keeping that energy as high as possible so you can actually conduct elite work every day. I think that's really important. The A is your attention. It's really easy to get caught down the rabbit hole, scrolling, maybe Instagram or LinkedIn or starting in your inbox and responding to prospects or clients or managers or teammates and before you know it it's lunchtime. Then you're moving over to Slack. So focusing your attention and applying that in the right way is really important, too. So that mental model, TEA, keeps me in check.
2) DFC. Discipline, Flexibility, Curiosity. The second one is DFC. DFC stands for discipline, flexibility and curiosity. It's my operating mechanism for just about anything with a start, middle and end. So when a simple unit, it could be a single workday, it could be a sales meeting, a single meeting. It could be a sales engagement, a project, you name it. The way it works is, I want to, at the start of something, I want to be disciplined and I want to embody the athletic persona. Why? A world-class athlete knows how to warm themselves up, to get ready for intense training on a competition. If you can start, well, generally, the training or the game, your performance will go well thereafter. So you need to get your mind, your body and your emotions in a good state. That takes discipline. But during the middle,of a meeting or in the middle of the workday, you can't control everything. So that's when I need to be a bit more flexible, say like a creative artist. And I always think of like an improv comedian. You might throw out, something for that improv comedian to make a joke about, or a heckler in the crowd, or hey, Will Smith might come up on stage and slap you in the face. You gotta be flexible not panic, and be able to keep your composure, and stay professional. Flexibility is really important during the middle stage. And then at the end, that end of that workday, that the end of that project, the end of that meeting, the end of that sales engagement, I want to look back with curiosity, like a scientist would, and think not with emotion, but more with that curiosity so that I can look at whatever happens and view those things as data points. So two really important questions that I would ask would be, “What went well?” And I double down on that the next work day or the next meeting or the next sales engagement. And I'd also ask “What didn't go well, what could be improved?” And I figure out what the gaps are, so I can improve on it. That keeps the emotion out of it, and I'm not attached to that emotion, and allows me to progress even just by 1% better the next time I come back to whatever it is that I just completed.
3) Prep, plan, rest, effort, and perform. Having that curiosity allows me to, now, move into planning tomorrow. That's the last thing I like to do for the workday. Plan out tomorrow so that I can, R rest easy in the evening. I don't have anything weighing on my head. I've cleaned out my inbox. I've blocked off my schedule for tomorrow. I can rest easy. By getting proper rest, then I can give 100%, E effort, on my most important task, because I've already planned out the day and now I can execute on that. And then that delivers a good performance. I can look back on and evaluate that performance.
What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?
1) Level up your environment. We've all been thrust upon a remote first environment as sellers and go to market leaders. How do you put something in your background? For instance, a camera, leveling up your camera, leveling up your environment that makes you inspired to want to come and do good work every day. There are small things that we can implement that levels up our environment, and that will in turn level up the connections that can be had when we’re trying to pitch, or propose, or progress, an opportunity. I really encourage folks to think about how they could level up their environment.
2) Leveling up tools. The second thing is in that vein is leveling up tools. What can support that environment, what can support the way you need to work? A very good example of that is, you know, battling Zoom fatigue, that we've all also encountered over the past two, two and a half years. A great tool is a product called mmhmm, literally M M H M M. Started by the former founder of Evernote. It's an awesome video-based tool that can overlay on Zoom, or Microsoft teams, or Google Meet, and it can literally put you inside the meeting and the presentation, so it can be pointing at things, you can bring the presentation to life. That could be the difference between closing the deal or losing a deal. So find the right tools that work for you.
3) Thinking like a designer. And then the third thing is going back to thinking like a designer and designing systems. Being a systems thinker. I think the best way that we can scale our capabilities is not thinking about constantly hustling and grinding, but how can you put yourself in a position to take the good work that you do? Take your knowledge, build it once and then scale it multiple times. I think that's really powerful as individuals, as teams, as companies, to think about how we do that. A lot of it's going to come down to automating, outsourcing or even eliminating certain things or perhaps, you know, delegating or collaborating on the things that are redundant.
What are 4 questions that you love to ask and why?
I ask myself these questions and I encourage others that I work with to ask themselves these questions. I'm going to cheat a little bit. I don't think I can narrow it down to three. I'm going to color outside the lines here. I'm going to go with four questions.
1) What motivates me? I think that's a good one to constantly ask yourself as you take on really anything big, any big endeavor, it could be going into a new year, going into a new quarter, it could be re-evaluating your account list and starting to become more targeted with your, your account list. So asking yourself, what motivates you? That's going to bring about certain criteria that you start to define for yourself. And if you can align things like, what motivates you against your account lists, from a personality perspective, from a knowledge perspective, from an interest perspective, from an impact perspective, that's just good business.
2) What are your priorities? Understanding what motivates you, understanding what your priorities are, allows you to point your personal operating system in the right direction. And it helps you to manage your TEA, your time, energy and attention effectively. You can always ask yourself, well, is this a priority? Is this my most important activity that I should be doing right now? Should I be spending my time on this? My energy and my attention.
3) What went well? And then a third question I would ask is, well, the two additional questions that I ask myself when I'm curious, sort of at the end state of a day or a meeting or a sales engagement, you know what went well? And then just repeat that, double down, systemize that goodness.
4) What didn’t go well? Figure out where the skill gap is or what you need to do to fine tune your performance to be better at it tomorrow or the next time.
Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?
1) Katy McFee. My first one is Katy McFee out of Ottawa, Canada. I've recently come across Katie on LinkedIn as of a few months ago, and I've been really impressed with her voice and particularly around empowering other females to step into a leadership role in a go to market role, sales role. She's done it herself. She's done it successfully, and I think it's a really important voice to highlight and put a light on, spotlight on, because I think it's an area that needs improvement in the sales go to market space. There’s still a male dominated voice, in the good market world. And I think bringing diversity Is just good for business. Um, just the thing to do as human beings, but it's also good for business. So she's an awesome one to bring onto the show.
2) Jamal Reimer. Jamal is the author of Mega Deal Secrets. He is somebody who I've personally connected with as well over the past several months, a big influencer in the strategic and enterprise sales space. He's closed multiple eight-figure deals throughout his esteemed career. He’s putting a voice that is not so common, like myself, on the sort of the deeper end of go to market strategy and closing transformative deals with some of the world's largest brands at really big deal sizes. So I think that voice, and it's also important because, like myself, Jamal has come from ordinary beginnings, and failures, to achieving really extraordinary things, so he would be a great person to have on the show.
3) Ian Koniak. Out of Southern California. Really it's the three of us who are talking about these really big deal strategies, but looking at it more holistically of how you can bring a more humanistic approach to your sales approach, think more deeply about your purpose and your why and how that can impact your go-to market strategy and your sales strategy. Great for individuals, great for companies, great for teams. He would be another person. He has an amazing story about how he's had to overcome real big, big obstacles in life, like addiction to find the peace, and success, that he's had.
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