Episode 5: Charge at Change Fast | Jim Fahey

“Born Leader”

If you look up “born leader” in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Jim Fahey. In almost every syllable of his conversation with JR and John, you can feel what a great leader he is and how he uses this trait to help himself and others. To Jim, leading comes as naturally as breathing, but it isn’t as easy as he makes it look. In our conversation, we cover what’s fueled Jim’s path from high school through college to the NHL on to Europe, and ultimately to a professional tech sales career.

Legit Credentials

Most high school athletes dream of winning a state title, but few ever do. Jim won four, two as team captain. At Northeastern, Jim achieved some other dream-worthy feats—namely serving as a 3-time captain, finishing his career with the single-season defense scoring record, being named a First Team All-American, and being nominated as a Hobey Baker Award finalist. When he went on to the NHL, Jim was honored as San Jose Sharks Rookie of the Year—where he led all rookie NHL defensemen in scoring, despite spending half the season in the minors. What explains all this success? Jim was quick to answer that he was on great teams with great leaders and that it’s all about surrounding yourself with the right people. But Jim himself was a great leader, a 5-time captain between high school and college, so what is his secret? It’s simple, as Jim tells it. He leads by example. We dug in a little deeper and gained some sharp insights, some of which I’ll talk about here. But you’re going to have to listen to the podcast to hear all of Jim’s gems. Also, I know that a few things are repeated in different places in this post—I think the repetition is important because it highlights some of the critical traits that have been consistent no matter where or how Jim was finding success.

Why NU?

In New England, there’s no shortage of amazing college hockey programs. Despite interest from and being interested in several fantastic schools with great hockey, Jim was Northeastern’s #1 recruit and Jim jumped at the chance. When Jim looks back, he characterizes his success at NU as being in the right place at the right time—and then doing the right thing. That last part is critical. You might get a good opportunity as the result of dumb luck, but you have to work hard to seize the moment and get as much out of it as you can.

The NHL: Next Level

Jim had a good work ethic, knew that success was related to the people around him, and was a great leader, all of which served him well when he transitioned to the NHL. He quickly identified that what he had relied on in the past guaranteed him nothing in the future. He had to find gaps and adapt his skillset to fit them. As an 8th-round draft pick, this meant finding ways to become a reliable role player. When a teammate got a concussion, Jim got his chance and he was ready to step in. He asked himself “Why am I here?” and then focused on delivering on and being exactly those things. He needed to do the job he was being asked to do.

Learning to Learn All Over Again

EMC, like NU all those years before, gave Jim an opportunity. He appreciated other people opening doors for him, and once he was sure it was the right place and the right team for him, he took full ownership and accountability for his success. Fortunately, tech sales is just like hockey, with success relying on:
  • Sacrifice
  • Doing the simple things
  • Teamwork
  • Execution
  • Hard work
  • Coaching
  • Curiosity

Déjà Vu All Over Again

Jim’s now Head of Sales at Miro, the best online whiteboard tool. What does he think it took to elevate his career, and what makes him successful as a leader?
  • Sacrifice
  • Investing time in learning
  • Setting quantifiable goals with tight timelines
  • Staying on track and being accountable
  • Leading by example
  • Being transparent

Hockey Pro to Sales Pro

What makes Jim an elite salesperson is his skill with time management. He knows when to say no and has the courage to do so. He knows how to prioritize. Beyond that, what makes Jim a true sales pro? It’s “simple”:
  • He knows what he’s talking about.
  • He leads by example.
Jim is such a steady, consistent, and authentic professional, it’s no wonder he creates success wherever he goes. Listen to the podcast to hear Jim’s thoughts on all of this plus the importance of mentors, why it’s important to emulate and simplify, how to hire new leaders, and how to be an influential force multiplier.

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