Allison Nussbaum is the Vice President of Client Value at Pitchly where she builds teams focused on helping clients extract immediate and ongoing value from their investment the Pitchly tool. She has held a number of sales roles and also was an in-house legal marketer. Learn more about Allison.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
Worry less about what other people think. Be kinder to yourself.
Any advice to young women who want to succeed in the workplace?
1) Banish the words “No problem” from your vocabulary when you have been thanked. Please say you’re welcome instead. Women already tend to underplay their contributions and diminish their own work. When we say “no problem” – even when we may have moved mountains and jumped through hoops of fire to get something done — the recipient thinks what we’ve done was easy.
2) Be yourself. Be authentic. Find your voice and use it. Have opinions and share them. Be ok with being wrong and being uncomfortable.
3) Follow through on promises.
4) Find allies and surround yourself with diverse viewpoints.
5. Be a learner.
How do you achieve work/life balance?
I do not believe that there is such a thing as work/life balance. Most of the time, we are going to be unbalanced in one direction or the other. I have learned that you have to get comfortable living at the tipping point because you may be there for a while. The key is to figure out how not to tip over.
I have learned that it’s ok to say no – and to do so without excuses or contrition – in both work and real-life and that most of the time, no harm will come from it. In my opinion, it is better to politely say no than to do something half-baked or create even more stress – and then resentment. (Ask me about the time I did not say no to being the “Cookie Mom” for my daughter’s Girl Scout troop. This is when I learned this lesson!) I generally go through a short triage list in my head when I am nearly at the tip over point:
- Does this need to be done?
- Does this need to be done by me?
- Does this need to be done by me now?
If all three answers are yes, then I am all-in; but if I reply no to any of them, then it’s time to communicate, clarify and possibly decline.
I have been known to remind myself, and my teams, that we sell software. We don’t save lives. We are clearly in business to succeed, and making and keeping commitments is paramount, but there are times when we cannot (and should not) do everything we are asked and in those instances, in my experience, a little communication goes a long way.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
There are three pieces of career advice that I’ve been gifted that changed the way I think about my work style and my career.
The first was critical but constructive. I’ve always been a fast thinker and a problem solver. It causes me to spring into action, which can be a good thing unless you are robbing your colleagues of the learning experience. I had a habit of assuming that I knew what they were going to say, jumping in, rushing them to a resolution, and moving on to the next thing. They did not feel heard and they didn’t get the opportunity to problem-solve for themselves. My boss at the time told me “listening is not just waiting to talk.” This has stuck with me for 20 years and I repeat it to myself a lot, still.
The second and third pieces of advice are core to who I am, and I share them so often that anyone who has ever asked me for career advice has heard this story. This advice was given to me after I quit a job at a company I loved because of a terrible manager and a role that was a bad fit. The CEO called me the next day to ask why I was leaving. When I told him he said “No one can fix problems that they don’t know about. You should have spoken up.” I remember telling him that I didn’t feel that I had the agency to speak up, at which point he offered the last piece of advice which was “No one owns your career but you. No one gives you agency.”
Over the years, these last two pieces of advice have helped me achieve a level of success that I never thought possible and to work with incredibly talented people along the way.