The next woman who wows is Deb Knupp, a Managing Director at GrowthPlay where she works with leaders in the legal, manufacturing, accounting and financial services industries to align their people and business objectives to create cultures based on the principles of accountability and integrity. She teaches selling as an act of service through authentic relationships and other-centered problem solving.

Prior to joining GrowthPlay, Deb founded Akina, an industry leader in global business-development training and coaching for lawyers. Before Akina, Deb was a front-line sales and human resources executive with Algroup Lawson Mardon Packaging, Frito-Lay and Pearle Vision.

Deb is also an international speaker in new business development, relationship building, culture, firm management and leadership, and that’s how I met her. I was literally stopped in my tracks by Deb when she was the keynote speaker at an industry conference for the Legal Marketing Association a few years ago in Boston. She was charismatic, self-depricating, funny, likable and super smart.

I was instantly inspired by her, and I hope you are too. Learn more about her in this Women Who Wow profile and connect with her on LinkedIn.

Why did you choose your profession?

I love to reflect on how life’s experiences are knit together to have you arrive at a place that you could have never imagined or chosen on a straight path. Having the privilege of being a business development consultant and coach to lawyers (and professional services firms) as a profession gives me a daily opportunity to model what I teach to help people become the best versions of themselves.

When you think about BD or sales in general, many professionals find the efforts to “get” business distasteful and uncomfortable. And there is a good reason selling is uncomfortable. Sales is inherently self-interested when you unnaturally to try to push someone to buy something from you for which you, individually, are the primary beneficiary.

In my profession, I get to help people re-imagine sales as an act of service – an act of giving before getting. I get to teach people how to build authentic relationships, how to engage generosity as other-centered problem-solvers and how to develop game plans that are rooted in exercising their natural, most fulfilling strengths that in turn generates predictable, sustainable and profitable revenue over time.

What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by teachers, coaches, mentors, and advocates who have given me opportunities to stretch beyond my capabilities and to fail safely. These same allies have then gently helped me see that failure is one of life’s best teachers and that short-term pain or suffering is necessary on the path to flourishing.

My younger self would have benefited greatly to know that joy is not only when things are going well. Joy is available in every circumstance when you tune your perspective to believe that grit, perseverance, and wisdom are superpowers.

I would tell my younger self – “you are enough” and to “take courage because you can do hard things” which means not acting without fear but rather courage to act in spite of fear. I would also encourage my younger self to value self-care as fuel in a life tank that replenishes the soul as much as it gives the body and mind the opportunity to renew.

What advice would you give to women in your field?

For legal BD/marketers, I would give you advice to see your work in relationship to lawyers with fresh eyes when you embrace three truths: 1) nothing of importance or significance in the world (in business, education, finance, government, social justice, etc.) happens apart from lawyers, 2) if lawyers are not at their best, everything of importance or significance is negatively impacted, and 3) as legal BD/marketers, there is no greater opportunity to impact important and significant things when you are helping lawyers become superheroes to their clients, their colleagues and to their communities.

Your legal BD/marketing expertise is changing the world, one lawyer and one important and significant circumstance at a time. What you do matters greatly, even if your acts of service are not as visible to those whom you are serving to become the best versions of themselves. You’ve got this!