Episode 3: Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas was a standout hockey player and leader from his teen years all the way through his professional career. He was a member of a University of Denver team that won an NCAA title. His peers and coaching staff elected him to be a captain during his final two seasons for the Pioneers.

Towards the end of Andy’s episode on Merchants of Change, he talked about the idea of starting over. This theme comes up every day with the work that we do at Shift Group. Athletes dedicate decades of their lives to becoming excellent at their sport. When your athletic career ends, you’re left with invaluable memories and experiences and lifelong friends. But, there can also be a deep sense of loss. Sadness and even grief can linger as one career ends and you stand on the brink of the next chapter in your life.

During the transition from sports to entering the workforce as a professional salesperson, all of the status that you attained over the years depreciates to the point where you become just another butt in a seat as Andrew puts it.

We hear from our podcast guests constantly about how tough but necessary it is to be able to detach from your ego to “carry the water bottles again”. No one skips from BDR to VP of sales just like no one goes from pee-wee hockey to the NHL. You have to find the courage and resolve to become the next version of yourself. To plod along the path that others have laid out.

The good news is, that all of the skills, habits, and behaviors that you developed playing competitive team sports are directly transferable to selling technology. You need to adjust and redirect your focus. Instead of being the first one in the pool and the last one to get out, you’ll need to be the first in the office and the last to leave. Instead of spending hours in the film room instead of frat parties, you’ll need to watch Gong calls instead of late nights at the bar.

Andy talks about “not skipping any steps” and “getting the foundation right.” Everyone is in a rush to be promoted into a closing role, but the BDR days are critical. This is your time to incubate and marinate in the skills and habits that will serve you well when it’s time for you to close deals on your own.

“If you were coaching someone through this transition period, Andy, how would you guide them?” asks JR Butler.

“The biggest thing I was missing was community. A group of humans to share wins and frustrations and sadness with. The feelings of leaving your sport behind don’t fade after a week or two. It takes years.”

This is one of the things that has been so rewarding about running Shift Group. Every day, we get together virtually or in person to spend time together going through the transition together. We spend a lot of time on AMA calls without any agenda so that candidates can listen to and respond to questions and challenges presented by their peers.

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