02: Millennials: the Quest for Learning and Making an Impact

Educating millennials doesn't end once they leave college and head into the workforce. Their quest for knowledge is unrivaled. But how do employers harness the quest for knowledge and educating millennials to their benefit? Millennial Rockstar, Cindy Hancock, shares with us how she went from having a masters in Chemistry to leading an operations team for a fast growing startup.

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Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

The Transcript - Millennials: the Quest for Learning & Making an Impact

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Hey, this is Amanda Hammett, and this is the Millennial Rockstar podcast. Alright, good morning, this is Amanda Hammett, I am known as the millennial translator, because I help companies attract, retain, and engage top millennial talent. And today we are on millennial rockstars, and we are with the very talented rockstar Cynthia Hancock, who is with SalesLoft. Cynthia, welcome to the show.

CINDY HANCOCK: Hi, thank you, good morning. Thank you for having me.

AMANDA HAMMETT:Oh, good morning, good morning. As you know, we are only having rockstars on that have been nominated by someone who can vouch for their rockstar status. So, I'm curious, Cynthia, I really love and value the person that nominated you. What makes you a rockstar?

CINDY HANCOCK:  a hard question. It's, I'm actually not a person that likes to brag, so. But I think one of the things for me is I have this hunger for knowledge. And it's like, what can I do to grow, and constantly permeates what's that next step, how can I level up? And then actually doing it. So, when I stared at SalesLoft, I just came in as a support hire, and my mindset at the time was like, let me just get in the door of this great company, and then I can grow from there. The opportunities and potential is endless, so let me just take it and run with it and let me just prove myself. So, I was the first hire in the support team.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Awesome.

CINDY HANCOCK: Helped scale that out, and then I ended up managing that team. Within like the first year that I was there.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Really?

CINDY HANCOCK: Yeah, yeah. And then I took a little time off because I got pregnant and I had a baby, and that was really exciting, big accomplishment there.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Yeah!

CINDY HANCOCK: And I came back and I was the first, I wouldn't say hire because I wasn't like re-hired, but I moved into the first operations role at SalesLoft. And then we helped started scaling that team out, and now I am managing that team now as well.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Wow.

CINDY HANCOCK: So, very exciting.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  How long have you been at SalesLoft?

CINDY HANCOCK: It will be three years in the beginning of February.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Coming up. Alright, so you've been there three years, you've had multiple roles, which is amazing. So, what is your current role today?

CINDY HANCOCK: Right now, I'm heading up the revenue operations and systems team.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Okay, fantastic. And remind me again, where did you start?

CINDY HANCOCK: In support, technical support.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  And you started out, I think it's really interesting and I want this for younger listeners to note, you started out in a support role, and you just wanted to get your foot in the door, that's what you said.

CINDY HANCOCK: Yep, yep.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  I love it, I love it, I love it, I love it. Since we're talking about that, is there anything that was really different for you as far as reality versus expectation when you were coming into the work force?

CINDY HANCOCK: You know for me, I was having, it was a big change for me. So, I have, I'm trained traditionally as a chemist. I have my masters in Chemistry, and so for me, my expectations were not maybe as high as maybe typical millennials when they are maybe looking for a new job once they come out of college. Mainly just because I knew I didn't have any background in SAAS, and this was a new field for me, so I was just trying to figure out what I could learn and then go from there. But I did, and I still do have a lot of ambition, and so that's, I think, where it's taken me, to where I am now.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's amazing. I love that you can really tell that your quest for always learning, how you can tell that that has really played a major role, so good for you, that's fantastic. Now, so, let's talk a little bit about that because you did say that you have a masters in Chemistry. Did you just at some point figure out that was just not going to work for you, or tell me a little bit about that, what made you make that transition away from Chemistry? becauseobviously, there was a love there if you went all the way through getting a masters in Chemistry.

CINDY HANCOCK: Right.

AMANDA HAMMETT:   Tell me about what happened.

CINDY HANCOCK: Sure, so actually, it's you know, growing up I always figured I'd be a doctor, or some kind of medical professional. And actually, a lot of that is just family upbringing, and you know.

There's the expectation there for that. And then one day it just was like a light bulb and I realized I needed to do what was there for what I wanted to do, not what was expected of me.

And what would make me happier, and I realized the lifestyle of a chemist was not something I was enjoying. It's really long hours, on your feet, doing lots of testing, very repetitive, you could be doing research your whole life working on a pharmaceutical or something like that, and you could potentially not see it to fruition. Just because how long it takes, you know, it could take 15, 20 years for something to go to market, just because of rigorous testing and things like that. So for me, it's like, I still wanted to make that huge impact, and still be innovative, because what I was working on at that time was very innovative with cancer tags. But what can I do that's more fast paced? And that's where technology came in.

With software, and I was like, where can I go, a startup, where I know I can learn a ton, have huge opportunities, as well as make a huge impact and actually have a voice.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's fantastic. And I think that that really encapsulates a lot of millennial ideals, is being somewhere where you can make an impact and have a voice. I mean, that is what you hear a lot.

Let's talk about this, I mean you mentioned it, but there might be some other things that you want to add in. Have there been any stumbling blocks or learning curves that you found in your career? And what did you do to get through them?

CINDY HANCOCK: Sure. One of the first things, especially right when I started at SalesLoft just because I was trying so hard to prove myself that I was almost too heads down. And not making or building those relationships that I needed to within the company. And so my boss at that time came to me and was like, Cindy, you're doing amazing work. Like your throughput is through the roof, but definitely come up for air, you know? I don't want you to burn out. If you do want to build those relationships I will help you, because I know you do. And so I started to do that. I started asking people to go out for lunch, and for coffee, learning about what they do, so I can learn more about the business. And then just, once I looked up more, there were more opportunities, just because I had those relationships, and a lot of my success here at SalesLoft definitely has to do with saying yes more and then building a strong network of advocates that I have now with the senior lead team. Which has been amazing.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  So do you see as a SalesLoft, I know that you guys are doing a lot of hiring these days.

CINDY HANCOCK: Yes.

AMANDA HAMMETT:   You guys are growing, which is fantastic.

CINDY HANCOCK:  Like crazy, yeah.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  But do you see that other millennials also have this issue with building relationships at all?

CINDY HANCOCK:  A little bit. A little bit, I think they need to just be told a little bit more, or not even told, they just need more feedback. They really enjoy that feedback, and that's, they, I don't know. That's a really good question.

I mean, what I see a lot is that a lot of times they're very comfortable making those relationships with people closer to their age, but when it comes to senior management, they want their voice heard but they just don't have those more social skills, or softer skills, so, you know, how to start an actual conversation that doesn't require email, like a face to face. And I think sometimes they struggle with that is kind of what I see.

Right, that is a really good point. So, that is something that I do see, actually. I hired a new person recently, and that was one of their things is building relationships has been difficult with senior people in the company. And it's not only just building the relationships but it's how they talk, almost. Like not being, like learning how to be tactful, a little bit, you know. Because millennials are like, just so easily just say what's on their mind, and not have that filter. And not think about like how those professional relationships can be a little bit different, especially knowing who their audience is.

You know, maybe it's an older audience, more senior audience with a lot of experience, and is used to being talked to a certain way, or something like that. So that is something I have seen.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Yeah, yeah. I love that you said knowing your audience. That is huge. Yeah, I work with a lot of, coaching and mentoring a lot of millennials, and it is a lot of, hey, let's talk about eye contact, let's talk about how important it is, don't just send everything in text messaging, and addressing your audience, knowing who they are, and that's the way you go about it. So that's perfect point. Perfect, perfect point. So, I know that SalesLoft is fantastic. Is there anything, benefits, or perks, or anything at SalesLoft in particular that they're doing that you think is awesome about creating a sense of loyalty, a sense of community, how do they foster that?With their employees?

CINDY HANCOCK: Right. Well first thing for me specifically, SalesLoft is a performance based culture, and not based on seniority or how long you've been there, anything like that. So I've only been here for three years, and most people who have been here have been here for shorter, but you know. If they do well, SalesLoft has this great mindset of promoting from within, or even just letting you move to different departments.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  So more like a lateral move?

CINDY HANCOCK: Exactly, exactly.

Which is really great, so if you come in, like support, like I did, and want to go to operations, or if you come in, you're like implementations and training, and want to go into products, we have people who've done that and it's very common here. You know, you really get to learn, feel what you really like, and then explore it, so it's just really cool. Very flexible when it comes to work and home life. Which I think is really important, especially if you have a family.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Which you do, yeah.

CINDY HANCOCK:  Yes, exactly. My boss that I have now has this huge thing for this culture of learning. So it's right up my alley. So professional development, SalesLoft has a whole, we have a budget specifically for everyone for a professional development, so that's amazing. And we have just really exceptional people here, so you want to work with them. Especially with our interview process, like you get to meet so many of them. And that's really a testament to our core values. Because if they align with yours, you just want to be here with these people and learn from them, and learn from each other, it's really amazing.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  That's really cool. Do you mind if I ask a little bit more about the professional development? Do you guys get to pick out, you know you said there's a budget for everyone in particular. Do you guys get to pick out what it is that you want to develop, or is there like a talent and development team that's like, okay, Cindy, this is kind of where we're pathing you. These are the skills we need you to learn, or are you free to make those choices on your own?

CINDY HANCOCK: You're actually pretty free to just make your choices on your own. So they could range from books you want to buy that you want to read, to getting certifications, to going to a conference.

And paying for travel and room and board and everything. And as long as you can provide some kind of relevancy of how it can improve your day to day with the work that you do, it's usually not an issue. So it's just great, yeah.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  I love that, I love that they're investing in their people, that is the most important, important thing. So let's talk specifically about your boss. Either your current boss, an old boss, a mentor, you mentioned advocates before. Is there anything, anyone, at any point in the past has done that really has kept you engaged, at work? And wanting to produce good work?

CINDY HANCOCK:  Right, right. So definitely with Erin, she's just amazing at being transparent. Any questions that I have about anything, she's like yeah, this is what it is. And you know, that way I can make my decisions a lot easier because I know what she's thinking, I know what everyone else is thinking. And a lot of the senior leadership is like that, they're not hiding things or anything like that so there's a lot of really clear transparency in regard to vision, or just things you just want clarity on. So that's really great. And just like expectations in general. And so that's really good. The other thing is because we are so open, and we have a really good trusting environment, which is of course really important, is feedback. I'm always looking for feedback and I know a lot of millennials do, and they give it very freely here. And it's, whenever you're asking for advice, sometimes it could be for yourself, it could be looked at as maybe like weakness, or you feel maybe self-conscious about it, because you have to ask, but it's really a sign of strength here. And people really, and you know, I mean, to be honest, people love it when you ask them for feedback and for advice, because it's almost like an ego stroke, right?

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Well yeah, and it's a sign that they trust you and they value your opinion, and so absolutely.

CINDY HANCOCK: So, you know, I definitely would tell millennials do it more, if you want to grow, that's the best way.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Yeah. Someone said something to me a long time ago that feedback is a gift. And whether it's good feedback or bad feedback, it's still a gift, and it gives you something. Whether it's something to better yourself or maybe not.

CINDY HANCOCK: Exactly, exactly.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Maybe to distance yourself from, I don't know. But I love that, I love, I know Erin is incredibly transparent, you can just see that about her the moment you meet her. But I think it's really valuable that the entire team is very transparent, and they put it out there because I think that that makes you as you're looking to continue on your career trajectory, it makes your decisions a lot easier because there's nothing clouding. You know exactly what you have to face. So, I love that, I love that. So is there anything that, I get a lot, I talk to companies from all industries, all sizes, and one thing that really bothers me that I hear is that sometimes companies say, you know what, we don't hire millennials.

And I'm like, first I'm a little stunned. Well the first few times I heard that. But then I'm like, you know, should we go ahead and schedule when you're going to close your business?

You're not going to have a choice! You know, 2025 they're expecting millennials to be 75% of the work force, so what are you going to do then?

CINDY HANCOCK:  Exactly.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  So is there anything that you wish companies outside of SalesLoft or even within SalesLoft, is there anything that you wish that they knew about hiring younger employees?

CINDY HANCOCK: Yeah, that's an amazing question. And I was thinking about this and I think it really came down to kind of this idea of entitlement versus ambition.

AMANDA HAMMETT:   Ooh, do tell.

CINDY HANCOCK:  Yeah. So millennials, they are taught to shoot for the stars and land in the clouds. Sometimes when I come to an interview and they do that, and they're like, yeah, I'm ready for that VP position. And you're like, hold up for a second. This doesn't quite work that way. But that's I think where you can, actually as for the company or a hiring manager, that's where you can see I think the opportunity in them.

CINDY HANCOCK: Is they have this, yes, you need to, meter their expectations, even though they are very high. But it's focusing on setting those expectations, setting clear goals and getting to them, getting them to that next level, and you know you can do that because they have the ambition to do it. You know? As a hiring manger now, I would choose ambition over complacency anytime, right? No one wants just the status quo.

AMANDA HAMMETT:   No, especially not now, especially not as the economy is changing and shifting. And in a place like SalesLoft.

CINDY HANCOCK: Right, exactly.

AMANDA HAMMETT:   Complacency will kill you. All the time. Okay, so is there anything in the hiring process that companies have that you wish was easier, or better, or just different?

CINDY HANCOCK: Yeah, this is, I'm not sure if this is so much in the millennial view.

This is more I think in general, especially in technology spaces, how can we take bias out of the interview process? You know, there's not enough women in senior leadership. And SalesLoft is trying very hard with, we sponsor a lot of senior leadership events, and we have a women's leadership training that I'm actually going through right now.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Awesome.

CINDY HANCOCK: Sponsored by SalesLoft. And so just you know, what can we do to take out that bias on the front end? So that we're not, and it doesn't necessarily have to even just deal with women, but you know, races or anything.

Or you have just everyone has their own bias just based on their upbringings and how they think, just different things like how people dress, or what their makeup looks like, and things like that. So how can we get rid of that as much as possible? That is my big thing personally. Just more in general is SalesLoft does a really good job in the interview process of doing peer interviews and culture interviews and just making sure they are not only the right fit for the company, but also, they are a right fit for your team. Because each team has a little bit of their--

Kind of like subculture.

AMANDA HAMMETT:  Yes, absolutely! Absolutely!

CINDY HANCOCK: Right, so this has been really great, and not only for us as a company to hire the right people, but also for that person to really get to know the people at the company to make sure it's a right fit for them as well.

AMANDA HAMMETT:   A thousand percent. I love the way that you phrased that and you put that because each team does have its own subculture in particular. I mean, I loved all of it but that is just something that a lot of companies I think miss the mark on. They think, oh, you've got these skills on your resume, so check check check, you're good.

No no no no no, you could have great skills, but if you don't fit with your team, that whole team can tank in a very short amount of time, and you see it happen all the time, and they're like, what happened?

Well. So, that's awesome. Cindy, thank you so much. I really really appreciate all of your wonderful insights and sharing with us what makes you a rockstar, I know that you're too humble to say that, so I will say it for you.

CINDY HANCOCK: Well thank you so much for having me, I really enjoyed this.

AMANDA HAMMETT: You're so welcome. Is there any way that people could reach out to you through LinkedIn, are you comfortable with that?

CINDY HANCOCK: Absolutely. Yeah, reach out to me in LinkedIn, message me, connect with me.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/cynthiabrownhancock/

I would love to connect, yeah.

AMANDA HAMMETT: Alright, perfect. Well I will include your LinkedIn link in show notes and with this interview, but otherwise, Cindy, again, thank you so much. This has been Cynthia Hancock with SalesLoft. Thank you so much.

CINDY HANCOCK: Thank you, have a great day, bye.

AMANDA HAMMETT: Thanks so much for joining us for this episode of the Millennial Rockstar podcast. If you are looking for even more information on millennials, get some free resources, visit my website at amandahammett.com, the link is below, it's amandahammett.com, there you can download a free millennial employee engagement guide that will give you all kinds of tips and tricks on how to keep those millennials engaged on a day to day basis. Because we all know that millennials who are happy at work are more productive at work.

Disclaimer: This transcript was created using YouTube’s translator tool and that may mean that some of the words, grammar, and typos come from a misinterpretation of the video.

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