Transcript from REVstars interview with Annie Harrison
Speaker: Annie Harrison,
Senior Manager, Head of West Account Development at MuleSoft
Interviewer: Aly Merritt, Head of Community at SalesLoft


[Intro, musical overlay]

Aly Merritt: Hey, thank you so much for coming.

Annie Harrison: Thank you for having me.

Aly Merritt: Absolutely.

Annie Harrison: How’s it going?

Aly Merritt: It’s good. And we’re wrapping up the day, so this is perfect.

Annie Harrison: Yeah, it’s good to see you. So, my name is Annie Harrison and I’m a senior manager of account development at MuleSoft, primarily responsible for the West coast. So, I’m partnering with our entire field organization in the West in order to make sure that we are driving revenue and the right accounts at the right times, and making sure that they’re all really set up for success.

Aly Merritt: So, athletics in general has been really important to you and helping support women in athletics has been important to you as well.

Annie Harrison: Yeah.

Aly Merritt: Tell me a little bit about some of the things you’ve done in that area.

Annie Harrison: Yeah, I think it’s a quite a long story. So my mom was actually an Olympian for Canada, and so I grew up knowing that, and eventually-

Aly Merritt: Wait, an Olympian in what?

Annie Harrison: In swimming.

Aly Merritt: Okay. Which is also what you were in the Olympic finals for, right?

Annie Harrison: Correct. Yeah, yeah. So, she swam and I actually ended up swimming the same events that she is just so much. It’s a completely different story. So I grew up around really strong female role models and so I ended up going to UNC where I swam there as well and ended up captaining our team. And while I was there giving back and you know, UNC put on amazing days for women and girls in sport. And so giving back and providing that sort of opportunity back to the local people in North Carolina in chapel Hill was really important to me every single year. I participated all the different years, I helped chair at the last year because it had such a massive impact on me growing up, being surrounded by those really, really strong female role models.

Aly Merritt: What do you hope that other women see in that, that they take from you?

Annie Harrison: I think the first lesson is that just because you try something or you think that something is right, it doesn’t mean that it is. And so I’ve tried a lot of different sports when I was younger and I just eventually ended up thinking that sport wasn’t for me. But then I found something that I was innately okay at. As well as something that I was really, really passionate about. And then I spent the next 10 years trying to perfect. Trying to make that goal of like, of Olympics and surrounding my entire life around it. And so the sacrifices, the hours, the sacrifices of my family waking up at 4:30 every morning in order to drive me to the pool my brother and sister spending every weekend at swim meets. And so I think it’s that idea of community and grit and hard work that is really, really easily transferable into what I do today.

Aly Merritt: So if you had one lesson you had to take from that, a lesson that it applies currently to sales role, what would that be?

Annie Harrison: I think that it’s constantly about getting better, right? And for me, when I first started in my sales career, I was a beginner for the first time in 10, 15 years because I’d gone… I knew how to do school really well. I knew how to swim. And by the time I was finishing my swimming career I was in the top 5% of the world. And so I had to relearn how to learn. But with that, you relearn all of the different lessons of hard work and grit and determination and how you focus on something really big at the beginning. And then over time you learn the minute details that go into each and every single one of those little tiny skills that make you excellent or make you a master of what you do.

Annie Harrison: I failed at first in my job at MuleSoft. Oh yeah. I really struggled my first five, six months. And I think it was because I didn’t know how to start again, and I didn’t know all of the different challenges that were going to come up. And so for me, it was about learning how to not be good at something. And learning how to not be good at something for the first time in a really long time.

Aly Merritt: Are there areas that you feel like (going back to failure), now that you’re managing managers, are there areas that you made a misstep that you’ve had to learn from?

Annie Harrison: There were a couple things. It was understanding the difference. One of our our sales leaders at MuleSoft talks about conscious versus unconscious competence. And understanding what you’re innately really good at and what you actually had to learn and develop. And so for me, when I was managing managers, there were skillsets that came naturally to me that I didn’t really know how to explain what I was doing that could effectively coach a new manager. And so I had to learn that over time and not expect them to understand that just because I said something that they were going to get it right away.

Aly Merritt: I’ve heard that coaching needs to really happen in the moment.

Annie Harrison: Yep.

Aly Merritt: Especially with sales. Is that an experience of yours?

Annie Harrison: Yeah, absolutely. I think one of the things that’s actually been challenging for me in my sales career in general is having these really difficult conversations. Because I think one of my unique strengths but also one of my absolute flaws is that I just care so much about the company, the people who work for me, the people who I work with.

Annie Harrison: And so one of my mentors has talked a lot about, everyone talks about a lot of about radical candor now a days. And for me, having those real moments of being really anxious about, “I’m going to go in and I’m going to give this person feedback and what if they don’t like the feedback, or what if they don’t agree or what if they don’t get mad at me.” And every single time I’ve done that, it’s come out as, “Wow, thank you so much for telling me this.” So I think that going back to your initial question of telling versus coaching more and more, I’m trying to step away from having all of the answers and letting people figure it out on their own.

Aly Merritt: Thank you so much for coming today. We really appreciate it.

Annie Harrison: Thank you for having me.

Aly Merritt: Absolutely.