Operating Like A Pro Athlete & Closing Whales with Brandon Fluharty
JB: How’d you get into sales?
Thought I was going to be a professional soccer player, I went to Romania, had an amazing year. But learned something important about myself, which was an important foundation for sales.
My Ambition far outweighed my talent compared to other young players who were much further along in their development
Learned, Focus, discipline, take care of myself becoming a true professional
Ran into some injuries, came back to US, Finished school and moved to NY
Realized I couldn’t play soccer and wanted to be involved in Soccer, got involved with a training organization with youth players in Long Island
It was my first foray into sales, without realizing I was in sales. We were former players who wanted to build a unique training organization in a competitive space using smaller balls for training
Sold small groups and 1:1 training sessions- wasn’t realizing I was selling - I was passionate, knowledgeable but did have a revenue target to hit
From there - company was sold ….didn’t ask for equity in the company ...lesson learned
Moved into the city, started working for a music marketing agency
Combined another passion of mine (DJ Tables in his office) working with that agency and see that as my first true step into selling. I was brought on to grow accounts, provided background music for big brands like Gucci, Royal Caribbean...Skratch DJ Academy, Utilize DJs to create background music to make the space more enjoyable
JB: Move from Agency to tech sales?
Foray back to NY, at the time my girlfriend was a former fashion designer and turned nurse. Made a lifestyle choice to move away from NY, had been there, done that so had the opportunity to move down to Sarasota, FL where she grew up. Was snowing in NY, coming to FL on a beautiful beach, having a cocktail at sunset, dolphins going by...why don’t we try this out as an experiment?
Bought first house in 2009 at a great time to buy and had to pivot career and completely start over!
Remote work wasn’t a thing then so I started working for local media companies selling print ads to SMBs. Full-cycle sales grind, cold calling, try and build a base of business working to climb the ranks. Moving from Print to Digital ads, Monster.com → went to local TV station selling ads and moved to Digital marketing company at ReachLocal → From there climbed the ranks, mid-market IT outsourcing firm → Remote late stage startup from SF, Revel Systems → 3.5 years ago recruited to LivePerson, leading in Conversational AI, Working big brands, Delta Airlines, United, Chipotle, Citi corp & more.
JB: How do you think about aligning lifestyle with ideal career?
I was drawn to sales for both financial freedom and autonomy. I’ve always created that TIME freedom. I’ve always thought sales is an ON-RAMP, I’m an intrapreneur now wanting to move to entrepreneur.
One thing I’ve learned and embraced climbing the ranks in sales from the down and dirty pleading to have a local bar buy a 2inch space in a newspaper to working with a Fortune 10 Brand making massive digital transformation
I’ve embraced sales as my craft, after realizing I wasn’t going to be a professional soccer player wasn’t in the cards for me, but the way I was approaching making a career out of it, I’ve embraced sales as my craft.
When I’ve given sales that respect as my craft, it has paid me handsomely in all those things that I desired to be creative and do big things
JB: Talk to me about the habits and routines that allow you to show up at your BEST?
The perception of the seller, makes me cringe…”don’t be a used car salesman” I feel really bad as they shouldn’t be thrown under the bus.
It’s this perception of all sellers that you’re that person, typically male, extroverted, loud, sleazy and you’re just trying to get something done to sell a lemon….that’s the common perception globally when you hear of sales. Certainly not of what/how I picture or think of myself.
The best way to actually sell is to stop selling. Don’t give anyone the opportunity to lump you into that used car salesman stereotype category. It has promoted and elevated the career sales for me personally. When I respected that I could have more respect in my work.
2nd thing I learned. Falling in LOVE, not necessarily with the work, but the WAY I WORK and want to operate.
That has been the engine to allow me to move from SMB selling to Super Strategic types of deals then showing people how to move from intrapreneur to entrepreneur.
Falling in love with how I operate was a big thing and the way I operate, I don’t believe in this false premise of Work/life balance. Unrealistic to think I’ll get 8 hours uninterrupted sleep, 8 hours of work uninterrupted and 8 hours family/friends time.
This premise of things falling neatly into a bucket and being perfectly balanced, isn’t real life especially for today’s modern seller.
I’ve fallen in love and respected the love of the craft of sales.
I want to embody the professional athlete as I approach my craft. I want to be the Ronaldo, Messi, Lebron of my craft and building work life integration.
If I’m thinking about ideas for a client at 9pm at night it shouldn’t feel like a burden but something I can get excited about. A Saturday morning, that’s fine as long as I’m excited and it’s a sign of the right career and my system is working.
I have to integrate those things and that has been a big insight for me to climb, sustain and create consistent results.
JB:Talk to us about your own journey with mental health. You published a really powerful LinkedIn post.
We are humans first, and professionals second
I divulged some really personal information that many people even really close to me didn’t even know
Early in life, I tried to commit suicide twice
At the time didn’t know I had a panic attack in front of a client who was in the office
I got a rush to my head, couldn't say anything, felt frozen and time didn’t move.
Then 10 years ago at 32 suffered an idiopathic stroke which was a HUGE wakeup call for me.
I said I NEED to prioritize my health. I was going super hard.
The Mantra in sales is typically, Hustle, hustle, hustle…..you can sleep when you die and I was really living that. Caffeinating in the afternoon, triple shot espresso, little to no sleep and constantly hustling. This pressure was huge to hit quota, you want to be on the leaderboard.
There was no reason a healthy 32 year, vegetarian, athlete, etc. should have any of that and it was a huge wakeup call.
It’s taken a while, 10 years to settle in and still working on it. I’m not shy talking about physical health or mental health, this is something that should be talked about constantly, it’s not just about 1 month for mental health awareness.
Needs to be de-stigmatized and talked about no different than any other physical health, ailment
It was vulnerable, sensitive and was my most popular post on LinkedIn and I’m proud of that as it allowed others to talk about their own mental health struggles.
JB: THANK YOU - Talk to me about the tools you use to optimize your health and personal operating system.
I’m in the right place, props to LivePerson, work from anywhere, be anyone.
How can I be of service to others if I can’t be authentic and am hiding parts of myself.
Not to say things are perfect now and I have to work very hard at keeping those dark moments at bay.
Where I've landed (hate that it’s an acronym, we don’t need more) I call it PREP - Plan, REST, EFFORT, PERFORM.
A Simple way to keep me in check personally.
Planning- How do I make it easier tomorrow? → Plan ahead, I add it as a habit into my daily routine. A daily routine how I start and end my day. Everything in the middle will be out of my control.
Flexipline- Flexibility & Discipline - If I’m on any one end of those spectrums, not going to have full say in how I control my environment or the outcomes I want to strive for if I’m too flexible. If I’m hyper disciplined I won't be open to opportunity. I found somewhere in between is the sweet spot, sometimes you need to dial up the discipline and sometimes need to dial up the flexibility.
Give myself a good starting point and good ending point so I know I can show up and do the fun stuff during the daily Start routine, Reading, getting new knowledge, listening to podcasts, writing, contributing to a book I want to write one day.
Then I can do my most important stuff during the day! End my most important day
Use Todoist as a way to capture ideas, notes and tasks so I can pick that up tomorrow.
My head can be clear, I can spend time with my wife, I can recover, relax and rejuvenate in the evening.
I track sleep with things like Whoop, a great wearable to understand how much I slept and the quality of my sleep and that has started to become a leading indicator of my sales performance and my health.
Those dark moments that creep in I can tell it’s when my sleep isn’t up to par or I get in sleep debt. I realize I don’t have energy and discipline to stick with my habits, my nutrition declines and it becomes a downward spiral.
It’s not that hard if I sleep well, I’m passionate about what I do, that helps me maintain performance in satisfaction so I can then put my E of effort behind my work.
Performance- then I can use that data to be my insight.
It’s become very personal and it’s not dictated by my company. I’m not chasing quota and making tons of money, those become outcomes because I’m focused and in love with how I work and how I operate. I had to discover this the hard way.
If you can fall in love with how to work, keep yourself in check, and replace good habits with bad habits you will have positive outcomes!
JB: How do you bounce back from the NOs on the big deals?
2020 was rough and a lot of people struggled
2019 was an incredible professional year for me, got my pipeline depleted on the 31st of 2019.
Heading to 2020 with a bunch of momentum, energy and confidence….BOOM furloughed employees, crisis mode then the summer comes up with racial issues and more that came into the fold. I came to realize there was more to life than just closing a bunch of deals. I became really introspective and embraced not being on a plan every day and realized this is the moment to look at life in a bigger way and get back to the things that are important.
What are the things that are important to me? What do I want to accomplish in life before I die?
I went 3 Quarters without closing new business, getting into new habits, new routines and getting back into the system allowed me to embrace a lot of new opportunities that started flying in December.
I was able to sprint because I had the physical & mental energy to go for it because I was rested and recovered. I was able to get a huge amount done in 11 days closing a multi-million dollar deal with the team and was able to end on a high note after 3 quarters of not delivering.
Because of the work I put in during the quiet time, now I have a system that allows me to keep running. Sprint hard, rest, recover and sprint hard again because in the past 5 months I have delivered more in sales than the last 2.5 years.
I owe a lot to this personal way of operating like a professional athlete can consistently get the championship and rings season after season, they do it because they love their craft and want to be the best they can be. They take care of the off-season, take care of their body, get their mindset right, put their full effort in and that's where I feel I am in this place in my career.
JB: What leadership qualities do you love?
Trust - that you hired the right person and give the freedom/autonomy to let them figure things out. Although I don’t manage people directly I have built teams within larger teams and I’ve always enjoyed that as I didn’t want to do the managerial path. I liked building from the ground up.
Look at the person on the other side, human first, professional second. When you let them be the best human they can be, they will perform the best as a professional.
JB: What does success mean to you?
Different things at different times, where I’m at in my career, moment of the day. Something I’m striving for and trying to quantify with a project I’m working on is Be Focused. Live Great. And a tool I’m looking to turn into a product called ThriveSpace ™ and build a community of what this could come up with.
Combine health data, the idea of if you enjoy your craft, doing deep work can be highly satisfying. Ensuring you have the moments to do that.
I know when I can do deep work and focus on 1 task at a time it’s deeply gratifying, we know the science tells us that bouncing back and forth from email, slack, chat isn't where real work occurs and amazing results come from.
Tracking that and combining that with my feelings and my mood, that creates this thing that I call a ThriveScore.
Being able to know myself, know that I can give myself the gift of time, the gift of health, the gift of working really deeply on things I care about. That’s success.
JB: Where can people find you?
LinkedIn daily posts, good honest authentic conversation.
Signup and join the movement! Looking to build a community around people who have this shared vision there's more to selling work and modern work than just work
Best way to be at peak performance and optimize our selves is to integrate that work and life in a gratifying and satisfying way.
Not just tracking data for geeking out, it’s to utilize it in a meaningful way to quantify meaning and satisfaction and what ThriveSpace will be as a product - check it out, learn more and join the movement!
About Jordan Benjamin
Jordan is the founder of My Core OS. After spending years in sales, working with sellers and studying peak performance he found an opportunity to help sellers level up to not only build peak performance at work, but to also create harmony between work and life so you can sustain performance over the long term.