From Pink Cadillac to VP of Sales-Lindsey's Story
What success means to me...
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Shelby Twp, MI which is about an hour north of Detroit. Upon graduating from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) with a BSE in Industrial & Operations Engineering, Minor in Mathematics I left Ann Arbor. In 2005 I took a job at Bain & Company, a consulting firm in Chicago. Eight years later my husband and I packed up and moved to our current home, Dallas, to open the first expansion office for Trunk Club. I've been with Trunk Club 7 years, joining as one of the first 10 employees when we were still a small Chicago start-up. I have 3 years of consulting experience, 3 years direct sales, and 7 years at Trunk Club (2.5 as VP of Sales).
I love to run, it's my 'me time'
to zone out, relax an disconnect from the world!
Favorite personal development book/podcast/blog:
This changes all of the time depending on what season I'm going through in my life
and what materials I've most recently been exposed to...but right now I'm a big
fan of The Happiness Equation. Always looking for suggestions on great reads /
listens others have found inspiring!
What are you doing now?
VP of Sales at Trunk Club. I currently run our Dallas clubhouse (~100 employees and growing) as well as collaborate with other leaders across our company making strategic decisions that affect our growth and success. I have a ton of respect for the passion and talent we've been able to add to our team, and learned long ago that surrounding myself with "A Players" keeps me inspired, on my toes and moving forward professionally. I think the way I've built character most over the course of my career is to continuously challenge myself to work with and learn from people who push me to be better vs. run at my pace.
What does success mean to you professionally?
Success to me is closely correlated to growth. Not necessarily in title or compensation (though both are great!) but more so that I am learning, developing, contributing and becoming a better leader for my team. I've been in a management role for nearly 10 years, and with that my ultimate goal is to leave every person I work with better in some way themselves for the time we've spent together. I probably would have said in my first job that personal accomplishment, promotion and pride in the work I myself did was most important ... but realized soon after I got the privilege to lead others I found much more joy in helping
many people feel that same sense of self worth.
How have you brought innovation to your industry/current profession?
I believe I am an authentic and empathetic leader which has helped foster a strong culture on the teams I've been fortunate enough to manage, and also build strong partnerships between those that work for and alongside me. Not that this is necessarily 'innovative' -but I do think it's incredibly important to be a leader others WANT to follow, WANT to learn from, WANT to do well for.
Did you have any obstacles along the way to your current role/profession, how did you overcome them?
Yes, tons! While at Bain I faced another tough obstacle - being "zero defect" was incredibly important to them and incredibly difficult for me to achieve. I was an A- student my entire life, as if I missed one small detail but did the majority of the work correctly would only be docked a few percentage points. Turns out, in the real world a small error can add up to a massive difference in the final answer given to a client. I had to take some tough feedback, seek out mentors who were strong in this area and SLOW DOWN (for those who know me I've been working on this for 30+ years. I move quickly, I speak quickly, I read quickly, I type quickly...) to ensure I could strengthen this skill and perform at the highest level. While I thankfully am no longer tasked with creating Excel models and presenting to corporate clients, I'm proud to share that before I left Bain I was actually asked to teach the zero defect training on building financial models to our new hires. With a little humility, the right mentors and a heap of hard work there isn't much one can't accomplish.
How has health and fitness brought you success in the workplace?
If you take care of yourself you are better equipped to take care of others. I am responsible for a big team of men and women and if I'm not at my best I can't give them my best every day. I also have another job as wife and mom when I leave the office which is an important one to prioritize as well. Getting exercise, sleeping and eating well, being sparing on the wine consumption (this one's a toughy ;) and also making time for 'me' makes me a more effective leader...so I try to make all of these a priority.
I also have another job as wife and mom when I leave the office which is an important one to prioritize as well.
What is your best advice for someone who is unsatisfied in their job or their overall career industry?
Make a change. Either change your mentality or change your situation. If it's difficult to do that on your own, surround yourself with people who lift you up but will also lay it to you straight. Lastly - find joy outside of your job. This one I didn't realize the importance of until much later in life being someone who puts a lot of my self worth and even more of my time into my professional accomplishments. If too much of your happiness is wrapped up in achieving success professionally, when you have a bad day at work it's incredibly hard to crawl out from under it. You'll inevitably come across tough days, tricky situations, projects you don't enjoy, folks you'd rather not work for or alongside ... how you handle yourself will be the true test of your character and skill.
What role does validation and recognition play in your career path? Does it give you motivation to keep going?
Perhaps this is where I innovate? I'm a HUGE fan of recognition. Not simply participation trophies just for coming to work, but certainly for different contributions that help our team and company succeed. We celebrate culture carriers as well as top performers every month live and in person, and we have found ways to reward and celebrate traits we place high value on: consistency, improvement (personal bests!) and peer leadership.
How do you make time for it all? What does balance mean to you?
I don't think balance in the traditional sense (9am-5pm you're ON and 5pm-9am you're OFF if you will) is a reality if you truly want to make time for it ALL. A woman that worked for me years ago coined the phrase 'work-life integration' and to me that is a much clearer way to articulate what balance means in my life. I might be checking email at 6am from bed, or jumping on a work call at 8pm after my kids have gone to theirs...but also cut out last week at 10am for our twins' 18 month doc apt. and a family lunch to follow with no guilt at all. I'm available to my team but not attached to my phone every minute of the day. I'm quick to respond, but often with "let's carve out time tomorrow" or "how would you like to handle?" vs. immediately jumping on a problem or answering a question as I'm constantly triaging throughout my day. I also put in the hard yards when I had less responsibility and more time to give early in my career so at 34 I have built both a skill set and strong supporting cast to handle my day more efficiently.
Why is it so important for women to have professional goals?
I think it's important for EVERYONE to have professional goals. If you don't know where you are going, if you can't articulate what you hope to achieve, how will you get there? How do you want to be perceived? What do you value most? What are your non-negotiables vs. nice to haves in a role / at a company? What timeline is attached to each goal? I also think it's important to be fluid as you grow, as for me personally how I would answer these questions changed over time. I also think goals can be very specific or pretty vague depending on your stage of life. Currently? I want to be inspired and inspired others, to continue growing and foster growth in those who have been entrusted to my care, to keep culture strong within my team as we are experiencing a season of high growth, praise others often but also be honest when improvement is needed, and to create strong, authentic partnerships with my teammates. I also hit our hiring, revenue and profitability projections for this quarter!!
One glaring obstacle was reaching my senior year of college and realizing that the engineering job I had intended to take post-graduation (after spending four summers working for General Motors) was no longer a path I was passionate about pursuing. It was a mildly terrifying moment that left me questioning the degree I earned and what the next 40 years might look like in a career I didn't care for. I did some soul searching on what was most important to me, and decided expanding my horizons both personally (getting out of Michigan! moving to Chicago!) and professionally (working in a role that would give me exposure to different industries and competencies - consulting?!) was really interesting to me. I dropped resumes at every company that was recruiting at Michigan with an office in Chicago, prioritizing time with those in the consulting lane or with rotational programs across departments, and embarked upon a new adventure at Bain & Company the following Summer.
I'll jump ahead and share one more example from my early days at Trunk Club. Full stop: I am not a fashion maven. I know a lot more today about style, fit and dressing myself than I did years ago - I also appreciate quality clothing and how much better I feel when dressed well - but growing up shopping on the sale rack at Kohl's did not set me up to be the most knowledgeable or credible Stylist when I first joined Trunk Club. A few months into my role as Director of Sales our Founder and CEO Brian Spaly sat me down and said "I know you are trying hard, I really enjoy working with you, so if this doesn't come together for you...trust I will help you find another great job". He was nothing if not supportive and honest, which is how he treated me the entirety of my career, but it was another mildly terrifying moment where I realized an A- might not be enough to play at the level he needed me to in this role. Too much was on the line and we needed to be elite. I committed to myself then that while I might not be the most stylish, the smoothest, the most well connected on our team ... I would not be outworked. I stopped talking about Trunk Club only to those I assumed might love the concept, and instead started talking about Trunk Club to everyone who would listen. I stopped being too proud to ask others (many more junior than me!) for help to improve my product knowledge, and started spending extra hours shadowing and helping with appointments to get more comfortable with style and fit. I stopped (for a time :) saying yes to all cocktail hours with my girlfriends and instead starting seeking out opportunities to connect with different people and communities to build my network on my own time. It wasn't an easy feat, there were times I doubted myself and my abilities, but nearly 7 years later I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish and inspire in others who have started at Trunk Club in a similar position.