Gen Y's & the lessons of a pet supply store are the future of Acquia
by Thomas Murdock
"At my family's store growing up, if a customer came in 1 minute before closing, you didn't tell them to leave! You didn't bother them at all. You let them shop. You let them shop for as long as they needed, even if they didn't buy anything. And you closed the store once they were done shopping!"
I'm incredibly fortunate to run our sales development team at Acquia. In a nut shell, our job is to build sales pipeline to help our company continue its growth. The team is made up of recent college grads that are looking to jump start their career in enterprise technology sales by learning from some of the best sales reps I've ever met.
I get asked all the time, "What's it like to work for Acquia?" "What's it like to manage a team of Gen Ys?" "Aren't you always babysitting and dealing with entitled brats?" And my answers (in order) are "Hopefully not a once in a lifetime experience - but it very well could be." "Incredible." and "Never."
The latter question is one that I see everywhere - blog posts, forums, articles, magazine write-ups, and the like, all warning managers about Gen Y employees and how they're know-it-alls with a sense of entitlement. In my experience, if you hire correctly, this couldn't be further from the truth.
My team of 10 is full of incredibly hard working, entrepreneurial, driven-to-get-ahead Gen Y's that want nothing more than to be coached, mentored, trained, and taught how to be better.
People like Jess Henault who works well over 40 hours a week for us while simultaneously going to school at night to get her Masters.
Or Cam Souza who, on a bad traffic day, can have a 4 hour round trip commute to our offices but still grinds it out and overachieves.
Or Zach Driscoll, who instead of waiting for 2014, jumped at the opportunity to work Asia Pacific hours (6p - 3a) for us when I told him it was the only opening we had at the moment.
Or Jamie Therrien on our marketing team who has a unique way of making us better by comparing our sales process for software and cloud computing to her family's sales process at their home & pet supply store where she worked growing up - the fundamentals are actually quite similar. The quote at the beginning of this post was from Jamie, who though you wouldn't think it on the surface, can get quite animated when she knows we need to do better. Sometimes you just need a very simple reminder about how to do things the right way.
My entire team of Gen Y'ers fully embrace the fact that they're new to the workforce, new to the technology industry, and new to Acquia. In fact, they could be called "Gen Why?" for their constant great questions and desire to learn more about our company, technology, and process. They're the antithesis of know-it-alls. Better yet, they have incredible energy, are inherently driven to make themselves better, make our company better, and work together to make their teammates better. They don't want a handout - quite the opposite - they want to work hard and be seen as a valuable piece of our company on their own merits.
My job is simply to give the team the tools, coaching, and training they need, remove the roadblocks to success, continue to surround them with like-minded peers, and get out of the way. That last part is essential. They're smart - they certainly don't need me slowing them down.
The hardest part of my job is finding more of them! If the folks above sound like you, and our high-performance culture sounds like one that would fit your personality, please reach out to me. We're hiring immediately and I'd love to hear from you!
If you're a Gen Y and have thoughts on this topic, leave some comments below! If you're managing a team of Gen Y's please chime in too!