Client Highlight: Carla Anderson of C. Anderson Associates
There are many ways to be generous. We’re all likely to receive a number of gift cards, gift baskets and delectable treats delivered to our offices. All are appreciated – it shows the person or company thought of you and wanted to show their gratitude for the relationship and services exchanged. We make our lists and work to ensure no one is forgotten in the process. As business professionals, we rely on tangible items to show appreciation, however one of the most generous ways to give is to share your time (which is perhaps most challenging to think of at this time of year when our social calendars rival our business calendars for lack of space). Taking the time to have a meal or meet with someone to share your expertise, mentor or coach them is a great way to pay it forward. This is a precious gift you can give throughout the year. And this gift, when shared sincerely, is one that generates a bounty of returns for both the giver and receiver. Sharing the gift of your time is a balance of helping others and also enjoying the reciprocity of the returns. Your time is an investment; thinking of it that way will ensure you invest wisely.
Carla Anderson is incredibly generous with her time. She is a client and longtime friend as well as Owner and Principal of C. Anderson Associates (CAA). CAA is a sales executive search firm specializing exclusively in sales and sales leadership positions. They help companies build strong sales teams, and Carla consistently has two meetings per week with sales executives who are considering their next steps in their lives and careers. Carla “walks each person through a process of how to get clarity about what they should be doing based upon their past and what is at their core,” she says. This clarity helps them determine how they move forward from a career perspective, and each meeting lasts around two hours. Although these meetings do not always lead directly to business, Carla “takes personal satisfaction in helping others find clarity in their careers” and also believes these meetings reinforce a positive reputation for CAA in the market. This is evidenced by the fact that 98% of CAA’s business comes from repeat business and referrals, and Carla shares that “usually a prospective client has gotten our name from three or four different people. What I get back comes through word of mouth.”
After years of these meetings, Carla has learned to ask for something in return. “I now ask two things of each individual I meet with,” shares Carla. “The first is to remember C. Anderson Associates when they are out and about in the marketplace, and the second is to pay it forward the next chance they get.” This “pay it forward” mentality is a deeply held value of Carla’s and she learned it by observing how her parents and others operated in the workplace as she was growing up. “I’ve been very lucky to have good, solid people in my life that I’ve been fortunate to learn from,” she says. By asking for something back and asking people to in turn give back, Carla maintains a return on her investment of time.
Carla has also learned to structure these meetings so that they don’t impede other business matters or exclude her from opportunities. “This is not something that always came easy for me because I am one of those people that jam as much as they can into a day,” admits Carla. “EOS has helped me a lot with changing my behavior. Our sessions with Sue showed me that I had an obligation to myself, my team and our business to balance things out.” Now Carla calendars out a specific amount of time each week for the various functions of her position, and these clarity meetings are scheduled at times that are convenient for her. Carla shares that this structure takes “good time management, holding myself accountable and being accountable to my team.”
Most of the sales executives Carla shares her time with have several things in common. “Many of them are at a point in their careers or lives when they are reevaluating what matters to them, what they are interested in, and what kind of an impact they can make going forward that would bring them a sense of renewed freshness in how they spend their next chapter working,” shares Carla. Although they are senior business people, Carla compares them to recent college grads in that “they have the same questions about what’s next for them.” Interestingly, what’s lower on their radar is money. In fact, compensation is always rated as a priority of five or lower on the 10-point scale Carla uses as part of her process. What matters to sales executives more, she says, is “working in an industry they have an interest in, doing work that matters and will make a positive impact, collaborating with a team that shares their values and objectives, and having fun while doing it.” Gaining insights like these are also an indirect return on Carla’s time. Although they don’t lead to monetary rewards, having sales leaders open up to her allows her to make better, more informed placements for her clients, ensuring their success.
I know I wouldn’t be where I am today without help from others – including Carla – along the way. Giving time back, or “paying it forward,” as Carla says, is a wonderful way to be generous all year-round. Whether it’s a young professional, a friend in a career transition or a referral of someone asking for help, your gift of time shared is truly meaningful. Next time you do it, remember a few tips from Carla: structure the meetings so they fit within your current capacity, don’t get too far removed from opportunities, and ask for something in return including for them to “pay it forward.” This way, it becomes the gift that keeps on giving from you to someone else- no fancy gift card or basket required!
If you are looking to place Sales, Sales Management or Business Development Professionals in your company, contact C. Anderson Associates today