What if I can: Learnings from a fireside chat with Venus Williams

Posted October 13, 2022

By Mary Shea

VP, Global Innovation Evangelist at Outreach

It’s been more than two weeks since Outreach’s inaugural Revenue Innovators Women In Sales Summit, and I am still euphoric. In my 25-plus years in business, I have never attended or participated in an event that felt as important and transformational as this one.

Over the course of a day and a half at the gorgeous Meritage Resort and Spa, I was continuously amazed by the energy and enthusiasm of our attendees. Backstage in the green room as I waited to go on stage for my keynote I loved listening to the buzz and laughter coming from the front of the house as the audience embraced Dr. Stefanie Boyer's interactive exercises designed to help us rid ourselves of limiting thought patterns. The networking, ideation, workshopping, cheese-making, and overall sheer joy I witnessed was truly something special.

My friends and colleagues won’t be surprised that the absolute highlight of the event for me was meeting, speaking, and singing with Venus Williams (not necessarily in that order!). As a former junior tennis player and an advocate for social equity, I admire Venus, not just for her accomplishments as a champion and elite athlete, but also for the way she uses her platform to effectuate positive change.

Leading up to the event, I told just about everyone about the incredible opportunity I had to sit and talk with Venus. I crowdsourced questions from Outreach’s go-to-market team, from my family members, and from folks I met at my neighborhood bar. I combined the best of those questions with others I thought would resonate with our audience, and then I added in ones I was simply curious about myself.

For those of you who have only seen Venus the tennis champion on television or at the stadium, the focus and intensity she displays on the court is only one dimension of who she is as a person. Venus is a multidimensional and playful soul. She is a daughter, sister, doggie mommy, entrepreneur, investor, karaoke singer and so much more. Basking in the glow of her chill charisma and positive presence, we all gained some relevant and actionable advice from Venus. Here’s what resonated with me most:

6 big takeaways from my interview with Venus

  • Train yourself to respond positively to coaching. To be coachable, you need to be able to take criticism, understand it, and be open to change. We all have pride, and it’s not easy being criticized. Be open to feedback and understand how implementing changes will make you better in all aspects of your life.

  • Surround yourself with people who challenge you. The best people to have in your court have clear opinions, and sometimes those opinions may differ from yours. Surround yourself with the best possible team and enable them so you can all succeed.

  • Make sure to dream big. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re too small. Growth comes when you’re uncomfortable. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations, learn from them, and continuously improve.

  • Have a “what if I can” mindset. Fear and anxiety are perceived thoughts that stem from a “what if I can’t” mindset. Instead, think about outcomes with a “what if I can” mindset. Stay positive and make your mind work for you, not against you.

  • Incorporate moments of balance into every day. When you have ambitions and goals, you’re constantly sprinting towards them and putting everything you have into achieving them. However, balance is key. Schedule moments every day to have time for yourself. It will help you sprint when you have to.

  • “Step up, speak up, and break it down.” The power is in your hands. When you see or experience something you don’t like, do something about it. If you’re at a place where you’re not being treated appropriately, know that there is another place where you will be.

I am so grateful I had the chance to chat with and get to know Venus at our Summit. Throughout my music and business career, I’ve had the opportunity and access to meet some well-known figures: Leonard Bernstein, President Obama, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Billie Jean King, and now Venus Williams. Venus, like these other luminaries, has a special aura surrounding her. Even in a crowded room, you feel she is speaking only to you, and you know she is on this earth to accomplish truly extraordinary things.

If you attended the Summit this year, I hope you will stay engaged with us; let us know what we can do differently or better next year. We hope you’ll join us again and bring more colleagues with you. If you didn’t attend this year, stay connected with us. We plan to make our second annual Revenue Innovators Summit bigger, better, and even more impactful in 2023.

Follow Mary Shea and Outreach on LinkedIn.


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