Welcome to episode 135 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we share part 1 of our discussion with Blake Johnson in which we discuss Blake’s education, early career, how he became obsessed with fitness, and some incremental ways to become more fit.
Original Recording Date: 07-08-2021
Topics – Meet Blake Johnson, The Second Degree and Getting into Sales, Situational Pressures, Strength and Conditioning for Success
4:10 – Meet Blake Johnson
- Blake Johnson (find him on LinkedIn or Twitter) is a simple salesman who is passionate about people and has a background in a number of areas.
- Blake calls himself the perfect millennial who didn’t quite know what he wanted to do but wanted to do everything.
- He got a degree in English Rhetoric while pursing business studies. Blake is a big fan of having to explain your answers.
- Blake considered law school but decided he liked the people better than the profession.
- He played football and really enjoyed strength and conditioning, eventually leading to a Biology degree.
- He describes himself today as someone living the dream.
- Listen to the difference between rhetoric and English rhetoric.
6:07 – The Second Degree and Getting into Sales
- Blake moved to Texas after graduation since he has some family there, ending up at Baylor.
- Biology forced him to keep thinking and expand his comfort zone. He believed sitting in a lab or behind an operating table might not be best for him.
- In a sales role today, he gets to make an impact on people and meet people of all types.
- Blake was a strength and conditioning coach (not really sales). Your product is who you are, and who you are is your product. The focus is on taking care of clients and helping them reach the next level of success.
- Blake told his boss at the time that he wanted to learn the business side of things, seeking to understand it better.
- He later stepped into a General Manager role and understood how to sell strength and conditioning services.
- In the sports performance world he was in charge of books, staff, doing some coaching, and taking the facility from one point to another while ensuring the product and the community was well taken care of (owning profit and loss of a single facility).
- Does moving from someone who practices strength and conditioning coaching to someone who sells it make you removed from the practice of doing it?
- Blake said when he was just a coach he wanted nothing to do with the sales teams, wanting only to focus on his role.
- Once he was able to step back from the role and look at it from an outside perspective, he understood the sales side, making him a better salesman and ultimately a better coach.
- Blake understood the product and the value of it to the consumer (athletes). Putting those two together made things so much better.
- John makes the point that aligning the practice (i.e. what someone does as a practitioner) with the value received by people we are working with or for is a challenge for technology practitioners.
- This was a struggle for John and something he did not learn until moving into Sales Engineering.
- Blake says he learned to think and understand systems, which helped him understand everything about the job and be a better team member.
- Nick speaks to people being stuck in their bubble and not understanding how what they do fits within the goals of the company and how learning the company’s business process can help.
- In strength and conditioning, some coaches did not care about the bottom line. Some salespeople only cared about getting revenue. The people who wanted to understand both are the ones who were successful and pushed past their ceilings. Blake was someone who wanted to learn it all.
- John makes some interesting analogies about systems and cross domain connections.
- Everything isn’t that different. We’re all the main characters in our own movie. Every system at the end of the day is similar. Make those connections to connect with people.
18:32 – Situational Pressures
- Understanding the needs of the person is important. At the end of the day we are trying to serve others and fulfill needs.
- Blake is in a job where he is selling a product to a consumer, not human changing things. We can make that same transaction just as important without trivializing it.
- There’s more pressure when you’re trying to change a human’s life as a coach. Most people don’t come to a coach at their best.
- There is pressure because Blake wants to succeed as much as the person who came to get coached wants to succeed. It’s more fun because of that human to human interaction.
- In a product sale it’s kind of an A-B transaction unless you keep up with that person.
- Nick and John pontificate on how those that sell software can coach customers along the path to success, including regular measurement. "Your success is my success."
- As the world continues to change and we’ve had to find creative ways to interact, it is going to take the extra bit of creative humanity in relationships with people to make the difference.
- Transactions don’t have to be zero sum games with a winner and a loser. It can be a mutual win.
- John is sold on the idea of making positive human interaction an important part of career success.
25:06 – Strength and Conditioning for Success
- Healthy body, healthy mind – life changes so much when your body is working well and your mind is clear.
- The world will not get easier, and the noise will not go away. We can control only what we can control. The biggest culprit and helper is our brain.
- Blake has clients who don’t talk about the weight they lost. They talk about how they feel.
- The people who look like they are having a blast are the ones taking care of themselves.
- We live in a society that makes being healthy difficult. There is so much noise out there.
- John mentions many people are looking for shortcuts.
- Blake says instant gratification has been there since the dawn of time and does not recommend the keto diet for anyone (not good for you).
- Move around, and do what makes you feel good.
- If working out 2 hours a day in the gym is something you enjoy, go for it. If running is your thing, go for it. If you love playing with your dogs, find a way to do it outside and play with them.
- Find creative ways to stay moving. Do what you can to keep organs healthy and reduce body fat.
- Blake uses the analogy of a car to represent our bodies. Would you rather be a Prius or a Lamborghini? Premium cars require premium fuel (food).
- Stick with real food that has raw ingredients that you prepare. Keep things simple.
- Drink more water, and move around more.
- Focus on what makes you motivated. That is where the success comes.
- What if you are someone who does not know how to get started?
- There is no downside to asking for help. Blake might give people 10 different options to see if they work and help generate more if they don’t.
- Until you know that you want to make a change, no one else can do it for you.
- Blake has worked with athletes that should be hall of famers, but they were not motivated enough.
- John mentioned differences in dopamine levels in different people.
- Blake was once someone who hated working out. When he was finished in college, he never wanted to do it again.
- Three months later, he hated how he felt. The common denominator was he was not doing anything for himself.
- Blake started riding his bike around campus. Once he started liking that activity, he joined an intramural team. That led to going back to the gym.
- Now he’s obsessed with fitness. It’s not a job. It’s something he has to do. Not until he started getting into shape for himself (not for a coach, not for a team, not for a sport) did it begin to impact him differently and become something important.
- John hears parallels to IT and technology changes organizations make (as well as the reasons for them). We do this with business processes, facilities, and people (many other things too).
- This is about incremental change. Blake sets the expectation with his clients that change is not going to happen overnight or in a month. You will see some changes in a month, but it doesn’t stop there. The minimum engagement Blake will do with someone is 3 months.
- Setting the expectation is important with a coaching client just like with businesses. Focus on the first step, and take things on in little chunks to build momentum. Otherwise the change will be too much, someone will get frustrated, and look for something else.
- We’re talking about building better habits. If you can change the processes in small phases you can optimize the system.